The Jackal: June 2011

30 Jun 2011

Hero of the Week Award - Anonymous Donor

The Christchurch Earthquake Appeal has received an anonymous donation of $5 million, which is the largest individual donation yet.

The money will be for the hard-hit eastern suburbs and help fund projects for school children in the area. It's a fantastic move by a wise philanthropist, made even more poignant by the humble request to remain anonymous.

Mark Weldon, who oversees the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal fund said:
"The money would help fund projects for school children in the worst affected eastern suburbs. That will include indoor sports, safe indoor play and homework areas, Wi-Fi spaces, and a range of supervised activities. We are immensely grateful to this donor, as well as all those who have donated anonymously, who have been moved by the challenges facing Christchurch and its children, and by the resilience and strength shown in the city, and offered to help," Weldon said.
The anonymous donation has boosted the earthquake appeal fund to $83m. Details of where the money is going to be spent are to be released next week. On behalf of all those this most generous donation will help, I thank the anonymous donor. Well done.

Who Pays for Pike River?

I think I speak for all of New Zealand when I say our hearts go out to the families of those killed in the Pike River mine disaster.

Not only have the families of the deceased had to wait an incessant amount of time for the recovery process to begin, it now appears that it's been financially mismanaged, and will stall because of a lack foresight by the receivers to set aside enough money to complete the task.

This is also a failure by the National Government, which has compounded the problem by not properly administering the process to achieve what is required. National was clearly unready and unfit to meet the challenges of Governing New Zealand through some major disasters. Unfortunately their continued negligence will cost this country dearly, and not just financially.

The Pike River Coal receivers said today that $1 million had been set aside for the recovery operation, which would be enough to take the teams as far as the rock fall 2km inside the mine but not far enough to recover the bodies. They said it would be up to the mine's buyers to fund the recovery of the bodies. However an announcement of any buyer for the Pike River mine has not been made, leaving the question as to when the recovery will be completed open to speculation.

It's now been over seven months since the mining disaster of November 19th 2010. The initial emergency response was fraught with problems because of a lack of proper equipment and recovery procedures.

This is on top of knowledge that it took nearly an hour before emergency services were alerted, and 14 hours to contact the families after the initial explosion. In my opinion the entire process has been bungled from the outset.

It was National that removed safety policies and regulations soon after becoming Government in 2008, which decreased the number of qualified mines inspectors dramatically. There was only one mining safety inspector operating in the South Island at the time of the Pike River explosion because of their cost cutting measures.

This may well have contributed to the disaster, giving credence to the claim that the National Party is liable. However it is ultimately Pike River Coal, which has been in receivership since late last year that should pay for the recovery operation.

New Zealand Oil & Gas holds a 29% shareholding in Pike River Coal, totalling $142 million. So there's obviously enough money available to recover those killed in the Pike River mine disaster, it's just being allocated incorrectly. The priority is to recover the deceased, so that the families can undertake funeral services for their loved ones.

Whether the Government or NZOG provides the recovery funds is inconsequential to that priority. However it is my opinion that those who enabled the disaster should be made to pay for the recovery process. Money is clearly not the most important thing here.

There's no question in my mind that the cost should be met by the the former managers of Pike River Coal. After employing top defense lawyers to fight accusations they were to blame for the deaths of the 29 men who died inside the dangerous mine, Pike River Coal management then claimed they could not attend the Royal Commission of Inquiry hearings because of a lack of funds. It's a similar hypocritical duplicity often seen from the National Party.

John Key recently told an Australian newspaper that the single entry up hill Pike River mine:
"Couldn't have been constructed in Australia, because it would have been illegal.”
This contradicts what the Prime minister previously said when he condemned people for questioning mining safety. John Key accused a union representative of being:
"churlish and insensitive," and "It was 'dangerous' to raise concerns about safety issues when the Royal Commission of Inquiry was still underway."
A Royal Commission of Inquiry is currently still investigating the disaster at the West Coast mine, and is looking into safety and responsibility. It will report its findings by March 2012. The Commission has already drawn criticism though, being that the National government refused to allow any Union representation.

The pressing priority is to return the deceased to their families and then to ensure that there are improvements to mine construction and safety standards. This can be achieved prior to the Commissions report. We need to learn from this disaster; National and the Mining industry should now understand that cutting corners costs much more in the long run. What price to place on human misery after all?

29 Jun 2011

National in Breach of Privacy Law

John Key recently sent out a personally addressed letter entitled Budget 2011 – Back to surplus sooner, better services for families.

It was sent to people who are not National Party members or registered with National in any way and was mainly targeted at pensioners.

There are two ways National might have attained the addresses that they sent their unsolicited letter to: 1. The Work and Income database. 2. The electoral roll.

The law states that individuals from whom information is collected should be made aware of the purpose for which their personal information is going to be used.

There is no information given when you provide your personal details for the electoral roll or to WINZ that informs you that an individual political party will send you unsolicited mail in which they advertise their policies and a political website.

Being that National has incorrectly obtained the address details of the recipients of the unsolicited letter, and may have attained the private details from the electoral roll; it gives more credence to the Privacy Commissioner's 1997 recommendations to the Minister of Justice:

7.5 Each elector's full residential address should no longer appear on the published roll but instead solely be held for official purposes and for release to authorised recipients. Consideration should be given to: (a) omitting residential address and displaying only the elector's suburb or town; or (b) displaying the elector's address but omitting the house/apartment/flat identifier.
7.8 The habitation index should no longer be made available for sale to those who do not require it for purpose related to an election or poll or for some other public interest specifically identified and authorised by law.
The Privacy Commissioner also stated at the time that:
The electoral roll will, under either option, cease to be of any great use for direct marketing as a mailing list will not be able to be compiled by using the roll.
Being that John Key's letter targeted a particular sector of the community, it’s unlikely that the National Party utilized the electoral roll to attain the addresses.

It's far more likely that they have attained the addresses from a WINZ database. This is a complete breach of the Privacy Act 1993, which the crown is bound by law to uphold. The Privacy Act states:
Information privacy principles
Principle 1 - Personal information shall not be collected by any agency unless

(a) the information is collected for a lawful purpose connected with a function or activity of the agency; and

(b) the collection of the information is necessary for that purpose.
There's no question that the collection of personal information for the purposes of the electoral system or WINZ administration has been breached by Parliamentary Services for the National Party's electioneering purposes.

As there's no provision given under the Parliamentary Service Act 2000 that overrides the Privacy Act 1993; the National Government is in breach of a fundamental law that is designed to protect peoples privacy.
Not only is it a breach of the Privacy Act 1993 in the first instance, it's in breach of other laws concerning electioneering. However these are minor breaches of law compared to the total breach of privacy that the National Party has just conducted.

I've laid a formal complaint with the Privacy Commissioner concerning this serious breach of our rights, and will keep you informed.

Cameron Browne - Asshole of the Week Award

ACT on Campus Auckland vice-president Cameron Wayne Browne recently told somebody to “get raped." Apparently he was having a heated debate on Facebook when he made the unacceptable comment.

Being that rape is not acceptable under any circumstances, using such a chauvinistic remark is disgusting! The use of such derogatory language shows a lack of debating skill, not to mention a level of stupidity thicker than a short plank.

It's sad to see somebody so young espouse such a sick ethos. Especially considering that New Zealand has one of the highest rates of rape crime in the world. It's estimated that 1 in 4 females are likely to experience Sexual Violence or Abuse in their lifetimes, many before the age of 16.

Rape crime is a huge problem that is not helped by people like Cameron Browne and his cognitive deficiencies. I would suggest that he receive some counseling and if that doesn't work, let's just deport the asshole to Siberia.

The person who the dispicable insult was leveled at, Tania Lim wants an apology from ACT on Campus Auckland vice-president Cameron Browne over the comment.
"I was shocked, to be honest, because I didn't know who he was. I've been sexually assaulted before and I didn't really appreciate that comment. I felt like I was personally attacked and it brought back bad memories,” she said.
ACT leader Don Brash said:
"If the comment was made then it was grossly inappropriate."
Heather Roy tweeted:
"I don't condone the comment, rape is never acceptable and I'm not responciable for Act on campus member's comments."
So no apology so far from Act. Rape Prevention Education director Dr Kim McGregor said she was upset by what Cameron Browne suggested:
“Inappropriate comments about rape are offensive to most rape survivors. I think that anyone who has experienced the often frightening and painful, degrading act of rape will k now that it is not anything that someone should make a throwaway comment about," she said on RadioLIVE.
Ms McGregor believes Mr Browne could benefit from some voluntary work.
“It would probably be good if he went and spent some time volunteering in a rape crisis centre, so that he could witness the hundreds of people who are attending the rape crisis centre annually,” she said.
UNICRI Percentage of rape victims for 2002.
Peter McCaffrey then tried to justify Cameron Browne’s despicable comment yesterday by posting on the Act Party website:
Last week, Cameron Browne, ACT on Campus Auckland Vice-President, and a few friends were having a debate on their private Facebook walls and discussed, amongst other things, the existence of the Maori seats. At some point during the debate a group of left-wingers, most of whom Cameron didn't know, joined in the debate. They proceeded to call him:

An Idiot, Fucked Up, A Marxist, A Fatuous, self-serving, carpetbagger, Uneducated, A Wanker, A skinhead, A Neo-nazi, A member of the KKK, An Aryan, A Genocide supporter and a white supremist.

Plus many more horrendously offensive slurs, many of which have since been removed by their posters, presumably due to their own embarrassment. All because he suggested that people in New Zealand be treated equally regardless of the colour of their skin.

Cameron, somewhat understandably, was angry at the onslaught and made a stupid comment in reply. A few minutes later Cameron apologised unreservedly, explaining that even though he was angry it still wasn't appropriate.
The sexist Cameron Browne did not apologize in any way shape or form. This is what he wrote soon after his bigoted Facebook comment:
The comment was not something I meant seriously. You guys are seriously overeacting.
Peter McCaffrey then made the matter worse by writing:
He probably should have told her to "get fucked" instead. :D Feel free to send us any offensive comments you see from party-affiliated people, and journalists, we expect to see front page articles about each and every one of them.
Are these idiots for real? Talk about foot in mouth disease. There's a huge difference between getting fucked and getting raped... To think otherwise and that the insults are similar shows that these people are mentally deficient.

Cameron Browne doesn't even seem to comprehend the damage he's done to his reputation and career path... Although his acceptance within the Act Party is obviously assured. How long they manage to survive is yet to be seen.

28 Jun 2011

More Bad News From Fukushima

On the 26th June, yet another incident happened at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power plant. It appears from the video below that Unit 3 and 4 released a large amount of smoke or steam into the atmosphere.

Unit 3 contains the highly dangerous plutonium MOX fuel that is far more radioactive than "normal" reactor fuel. Tepco and officials haven't made a media release in the two days following, leaving people to speculate about the danger the Fukushima Nuclear power plant posses.

This follows the 8th June revelations that the International Atomic Energy Agency doubled its estimate on the amount of radiation released from Fukushima to 770,000 terabecquerels. 

We also learned recently that officials had doctored global fallout information, making claims by Governments that levels remain safe questionable. Slightly elevated levels have been detected recently in San Diego. The US continues to not have any proper public radiation monitoring system.

New readings taken in May showed levels of radioisotopes 30 kilometers offshore from the on-going crisis at Fukushima are ten times higher than those measured in the Baltic and Black Seas during Chernobyl.

After previously denying it, TEPCO confirmed and the IAEA reported that fuel at Unit 1 melted down before the arrival of the Tsunami on 11th March. This shows that many of the worlds nuclear reactors are unsafe because they are placed on or near known fault lines.

We already know that reactors one, two and three suffered at least partial fuel melts. In at least one case, the fuel melted through part of the inner containment system, with molten radioactive metal melting through to the reactor floor. Unit 4 may have been entirely exposed to air and caught fire. A wide range of sources confirm the likelihood that fission may still be proceeding in at least one Fukushima core and the 26th June video certainly points to such a conclusion.

There's no question in my mind that Fukushima Dai-ichi is now the worst known nuclear accident in the world, far exceeding Chernobyl. Japan seems unable or unwilling to contain the Fukushima disaster and is instead expending it's energy on hiding the truth. Perhaps there's a case to be answered in the International Court of Justice.

27 Jun 2011

Cameron Slater's an Idiot!

That’s a statement of fact, not a question btw. He recently tweeted that Telecom isn't owned by overseas companies... What a douchebag!

Telecom was sold to two United States-based telecommunications companies, Bell Atlantic and Ameritech, for NZ$4.25 billion in 1990.

It has not been re-purchased by New Zealand and has little Kiwi investment, meaning most of the profits go off shore.
Let's have a look at the performance of Telecom since it was privatised: Everybody would have heard of Telecoms overcharging and false advertising scams, but what people might not remember is that a Kiwi Share agreement was drawn up in 1990, which included a provision that the company retained free local calling for residential customers.

But in 1999 Telecom began to charge customers who connect to the Internet using a local dial up number forcing all ISPs in New Zealand to change to a 0867 dial up number. This is in breach of the Kiwishare Agreement where residential customers were meant to have free local calling.

An audio clip recorded on 2 March 2006 was released involving Telecom CEO Theresa Gattung admitting the use of confusion as a chief marketing tool in the industry. The March recording also dismissed the New Zealand Government as "too smart to do anything dumb" with regards to regulation.

This spurred the creation of a spoof youtube clip that Telecom tried to have removed from the internet. In June 2007 Theresa Gattung stepped down with a reported golden handshake of $5.125 million in cash.

In 2004 Telecom posted a profit of NZ$916 million. The same year, Telecom won the Roger Award for The Worst Transnational Corporation operating in New Zealand.

The Auckland Chamber of Commerce publicly stated in 2007 that if Telecom do not invest in a next-generation high-speed network, comparable with that of other Western nations, they will fund a private fibre-optic based service. Four years on we still have a slow system in comparison.

This year Telecom found itself under investigation by the anti-spam unit of the Department of Internal Affairs following complaints about text messages sent to customers. The messages in question failed to feature the required 'opt-out' (unsubscribe) information.

On the 9th of June, the DIA found Telecom to be in breach of the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007. Slater's recent blather about Labour sending some emails with the required opt out information seems rather pathetic in comparison.

Check out these quick facts to see that New Zealand does not own Telecom, the some NZ$1 billion per year the private company earns in this country from price gouging leaves New Zealand never to be seen again. I hate to think about how much New Zealand has lost since the company was privatized in the 90's. Cameron Slater is bona fide idiot for thinking otherwise.

A New Wiggle

A few Minsters auditioned for a Wiggles position today. They all decided to sing the song Stick em up little Kiwi, but nobody knew all the words to Roger Douglas’ 1986 hit single off the album Sell Yo Mama. Unfortunately John Key made all the kids cry when he kept insisting they get peanuts instead of ice cream and he was voted out.

Pita Sharples wasn’t willing to move to Australia on account of them not having any bum warmers, leaving Dunne and Rodney Hide to have a sing off. Dunne synched it with his bouffant, the kids loving all the little birds that flew out when he hit a high note.

26 Jun 2011

Sour Grapes

The political left gained a victory this weekend with te Mana’s Hone Harawira winning the Tai Tokerau by-election. It's a fantastic result considering the short amount of time te Mana had to launch their new party and the negative media campaign run against Hone.

Clearly many supporters already understand the inspirational man's Kaupapa. The Mana Party was officially registered on Friday and now that Hone has won, he will return to Parliament as Mana Party leader with a mandate to represent. Excellent!
"The new party didn't have two cents to rub together and we won," the victorious Harawira said.
Speaking in Darwin today, Prime Minister John Key said:
"Harawira has a very reduced mandate and the Tai Tokerau by-election was an expensive waste of time. We spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, we've ended up in the same position that we started in, and it's not really that Hone Harawira can claim victory," he said.
Really! It appears that Hone received the most votes, which usually designates him as the winner.

I find John Key's statement most perplexing, not just because he's ungracious in defeat, but that he doesn't comprehend te Mana's victory in Tai Tokerau.

I'm not looking forward to hearing John Key whinge when National and Act are defeated in the next general election. Using the same mentality, it's obviously a waste of time and John Key should resign now to save us taxpayers lots of money. Not that he can talk about wasting taxpayer's money in the first place.

Perhaps the Prime Ministers negativity was inspired by what Hone said on Saturday when he criticized John Key's support for Labour's Kelvin Davis: 
"It wasn't because National likes Davis, or fears me, it's because National fears all of you. We're gonna change the world and you the people of Tai Tokerau have shown once again that nothing happens in this country until the tail of the fish is ready to move," Hone said. 

John Key wasn't the only bad loser... Cameron Slater wrote:
"Seven months out from the election and Maori voters have said they prefer Hone Harawira over Phil Goff and Labour."
That’s funny, I thought it was Kelvin Davis who stood against Hone Hawariwa, not Phil Goff. Labour seemed most gracious in defeat to me. National decided not to even stand a candidate, so who are the real losers? It's exactly five months away from the next election btw.

Lucian Marin over at No Minister said:
"It's bad for Maori in that all the positive things that are happening in Maoridom will be overshadowed by Hone who will continue to 'look back in anger' and encourage Maori to remain in grievance mode. It is especially bad for Maori in Te TaI Tokerau. They have lost their voice in the corridors of power (if they ever had it). They are now represented by a bit player in the body politik.

It's bad for Labour. Hone has made it clear that the Mana Party will give electoral support to Labour and only Labour. That in itself is sufficient to scare off 'soft' Labour voters. Vote Labour and you get Hone ... wanted or not. It's a win win for National and a loss loss for Labour."
I'm interested to know exactly what positive things National has implemented for Maori? Hone in my opinion is a great person to represent Maori and fight for their rights, to think otherwise is certifiably mental! There's nothing wrong with making restitution for past atrocities; one must look back in wisdom to be able to move forward into a brighter future. To describe Hone Hawariwa as a bit player is particularly stupid Lucian.

Now I might be mistaken, but if te Mana is going to give electoral support to Labour, isn't that a good thing for Labour? They'll hopefully be receiving support from a group that normally doesn't vote. A vote for Labour is not a vote for te Mana, they can stand on their own feet. The only losers are the right as the left gains momentum and strength leading up to the election.

David Farrar wrote:
"So today is Hone’s victory – the gamble paid off. Attention will now go on the wider Mana Party, specifically their party list. Will the No 2 be John Minto or Annette Skyes or Sue Bradford or someone else?"
Apart from allowing the usual racist comments on the Kiwibog post, DPF is the only right wing blogger to have already moved on from the defeat.

Many of the other RWNJ blogger's are trying to ignore the victory or have retreated into idiotic arguments that show their childish tendencies. Man up losers!

The final word goes to one of te Mana's most ardent supporters:
"What the broader progressive left need to envision is the genuine structural change to NZ a Labour + Greens + Mana could attain in November." - Bomber Bradbury.

The week that was 19 - 26 June

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council said this week that excessive sludge on beaches is not associated with the discharge of dairy farm effluent. They said that the high levels of scum is all a part of nature and that surf diatoms are a type of phytoplankton, which is a main source of food for productive shellfish beds in the surf.

The council’s pollution prevention team leader, Steve Pickles said the recent dominance of onshore weather has contributed to the build-up of surf diatoms, particularly on Tirohanga and Hikuwai beaches and that an abundance of these indicates a healthy habitat.

The Bay of Plenty Council has completely ignored the fact that like house plants, phytoplankton needs nutrients and a certain temperature range to grow well. An increase of nutrients ie effluent discharge and an increase in winter temperatures is attributable to the increased amount of phytoplankton.

The occurrence is also known as an algal bloom. While most phytoplankton and cyanobacteria are harmless, there are a few dozen that create potent toxins given the right conditions. Harmful algal blooms may cause harm through the production of toxins or by their accumulated biomass, which can affect co-occurring organisms. Impacts include human illness and mortality following consumption of or indirect exposure.

These outbreaks are commonly called red tides, but scientists prefer the term harmful algal blooms (HAB). The term red tide erroneously includes many blooms that discolor the water but cause no harm, and also excludes blooms of highly toxic cells that cause problems at low (and essentially invisible) cell concentrations. Therefore, harmful algal bloom is a more appropriate descriptor.
Around a thousand people participated in New Zealand's Slut Walks on Saturday. The anti rape marches were sparked by a Toronto police officer when he said; "Women could avoid being raped by not dressing like sluts." Wellington organiser Maria-Jane Scannell said the same attitude existed in New Zealand and it placed the blame on the victim rather than the rapist.
"We're all here because we agree that rape and sexual assault are never the fault of the victim," she said. "Yes means yes, no means no, whatever we do, wherever we go," she yelled through a megaphone during one of the the marches.
Family First's Bob McCoskrie supports the protestors' message, but thinks the rally's shock-value title is taking away from the real issue:
"I think their cause is a completely justified one. I'd just like them to do it in a family friendly way so that the message gets across rather than with a negative connotation," he told Newstalk ZB prior to the NZ marches.

On Tuesday a tanker carrying 24,000 litres of waste oil crashed in the King Country gorge and spilt its load into the Awakino River. 

The tanker tipped on its side near the northern end of the Awakino Gorge on State Highway 3 about 3.30pm.

Waikato Regional Council spokesman David Stagg was measuring his words about the extent of the spill, but said the waste oil would damage the river's ecosystem.
"Waste oil in the river will not be any good for it and will cause some degree of harm. Unfortunately in the gorge area, because of the swift nature of the river, there's no opportunity to contain it,'' he said.
Council spokesman Chris McLay says the spill has clear potential to hurt aquatic and marine life and pollute river banks and the coast.
"So we're assessing the situation to see how much oil is still in the river and its impacts. We'll be working hard to try and get any remaining oil out of the river if at all possible. We'd also advise people to stay away from the oil if they come across any on land. If they discover distressed animal or bird life they should advise the Department of Conservation," he said.

Web statistics show that more Japanese people are turning to external media sources in desperation for the truth concerning the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power plant.

The countries Government and Nuclear industry is continuing to downplay the seriousness of the incident in what is a despicable attempt to retain power.

In April, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that 370,000 terabecquerels escaped from the facility. Then on the 8th June we were informed to double that figure to 770,000 terabecquerels.

One reasoned and comprehensive argument against Nuclear Power has come from the reputable Dr Helen Caldicott:

It was revealed this week that radioactive tritium has leaked from three-quarters of U.S. commercial nuclear power sites, often into groundwater from corroded, buried piping.

Tritium, which is a radioactive form of hydrogen, leaked from at least 48 of 65 sites, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission records reviewed as part of the Associated Presses' yearlong examination of safety issues at aging nuclear power plants.

Leaks from at least 37 of those facilities contained concentrations exceeding the federal drinking water standard, sometimes at hundreds of times the limit.

At three sites leaks have contaminated drinking wells of nearby homes, the records show, but not at levels violating the low drinking water standards.

At a fourth site, in New Jersey, tritium has leaked into an aquifer and a discharge canal feeding into Barnegat Bay off the Atlantic Ocean.

Previously, the AP reported that regulators and industry have weakened safety standards for decades to keep the nation's commercial nuclear reactors operating within the rules.While NRC officials and plant operators argue that safety margins can be eased without peril, critics say these accommodations are inching the reactors closer to an accident.

Any exposure to radioactivity, no matter how slight, boosts cancer risk, according to the National Academy of Sciences. Federal regulators set a limit for how much tritium is allowed in drinking water. So far, federal and industry officials say, the tritium leaks pose no health threat.

A panel of Scientists convened by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), has found that the oceans are in a worse state than previously suspected.

In a report released this week, they warn that ocean life is "at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history." 

The experts from different disciplines, including coral reef ecologists, toxicologists, and fisheries scientists; concluded that things like over-fishing, pollution and climate change are all acting together in ways that have not previously been recognised. They said it's already impacting negatively on humanity. 

"The findings are shocking. As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the oceans, the implications became far worse than we had individually realised," said Alex Rogers, IPSO's scientific director and professor of conservation biology at Oxford University.

More than 5 million people have been displaced or otherwise affected by flooding in eastern China. Torrential rains have left huge areas of Hubei and Zhejiang provinces under water, with more than 1 million acres (432,200 hectares) of farmland inundated, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Almost 1,000 businesses have been forced to suspend operations and 5.7 million people have had their lives disrupted. More than 7,000 homes collapsed or were otherwise damaged and direct financial damage was estimated at almost $1 billion NZD. The final death toll is not yet available.

24 Jun 2011

Friday Fun with Photos #6

5 little monkey’s swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Alligator can’t catch me….can’t catch me
along came Mr. Alligator quiet as can be
and snapped that monkey out that tree

4 little monkey’s swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Alligator can’t catch me….can’t catch me
along came Mr. Alligator quiet as can be
and snapped that monkey out that tree

3 little monkey’s swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Alligator can’t catch me….can’t catch me
along came Mr. Alligator quiet as can be
and snapped that monkey out that tree

2 little monkey’s swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Alligator can’t catch me….can’t catch me
along came Mr. Alligator quiet as can be
and snapped that monkey out that tree

1 little monkey’s swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Alligator can’t catch me….can’t catch me
along came Mr. Alligator quiet as can be
and snapped that monkey out that tree

No more monkey’s swinging in the tree!

23 Jun 2011

Alasdair Thompson - Asshole of the Week Award

Alasdair Thompson is clearly a fully fledged asshole! He typifies the chauvinistic male, which is unfortunately a prevalent disease in this country.

It's mainly caught by older males who think they're somehow superior to woman, who they believe need to be subservient to the status quo.

You might be aware that New Zealand has a serious problem with sexual discrimination, which is what Thompson is professing.

Pay disparity is a significant part of the sexual discrimination formula, with women earning on average 13% less than men. As the head of the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA), Alasdair Thompson should know better than to try and justify that inequality. Earlier this week he told Newstalk ZB:
"There's a gender pay gap, but people only need to look at who takes the most sick days, as to the reason for it. Women's productivity, in general, is lower than men's and while women might be more productive on an hourly basis, some take sick days when they get their period. 
Once a month they have sick problems. Not all women, but some do. They have children, they have to take time off to go home and take leave. I don't like saying this because it sounds like I'm sexist but it's a fact of life."
Speaking to ONE News about the interview Thompson also said that:
"Many women at some point in their life take more leave. Not just sick leave, they take maternity leave. There are other things which I mentioned, which I don't want to mention again, because that's the cause of the problem."
 Thompson later issued an EMA statement attempting to clarify what he meant:
"We believe in and promote advancement of women in the workplace and in business. It should not matter if a man or a woman is off work on sick leave more than others if their output is high they should be paid highly."
 Thompson had earlier stated:
"The statistics about pay inequality don't address the facts. The payroll tells the true story, not statistics. It is unfortunate but men and women are different. I don't like saying this, this is how contentious this is. Here's a fact of life... look at who takes the most sick leave," he said.
It's not unfortunate that Men and Women are different. As a country, we need to move forward and start to celebrate our differences. If what Thompson states is true, and woman are more productive on an hourly basis, why are they being paid less?
Labour's Women's Affairs Spokesperson, Carol Beaumont said the Government should be demanding an explanation from Thompson:
"I am sure women do take more time off to look after children - they do the lion's share of caring work - but to suggest they deserve to be paid less for doing so, or because they are having 'monthly sick days' is shameful," she said.
Catherine Delahunty said his comments were "utterly out of date, sexist, and inappropriate" and she said it was concerning the Government received business advice from him:
"I am kind of tired that we should have to listen to this kind of rhetoric when we are trying to have a mature and modern debate about a long term problem," she told NZPA.
Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly said Mr Thompson should stand down.
"Leaders spouting this sort of crap makes it very, very difficult for women to assert themselves and to suggest there might be discrimination," she said.
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said Thompson's comments were outrageous and maybe it was time a woman took the helm at the EMA.

Thompson doesn't intend to resign though, arrogant in his sexist old man syndrome. By trying to justify pay disparity, Thompson shows himself to be a bigot! In my opinion, there should be no acceptance of such divisive behaviour and he should step down.

I would like to discontinue the weekly Asshole Award, however when dinosaurs like Alasdair Thompson keep putting their hands up and going "I'm an Asshole, look at me," I'm obliged to award them accordingly.

No Confidence

Steven Joyce was asked some hard questions today by Labour Minister of Communications and Information Technology David Cunliffe concerning Nationals Privatisation plans for New Zealand’s SOEs. Once again the speaker of the house Lockwood Smith came to National's rescue. Lockwood argued that Joyce didn't have to answer a question because the Minister disagreed with the word “Privatisation.” What utter Bullshit!

National started to use the word first when they floated the idea, so it’s a valid word to use to describe what National intends to undertake. David Cunliffe did not load a question by using the word “Privatisation.” Saying so is ridiculous and Lockwood’s argument turns Parliament into a farce.

Since when are facts characterizations? Steven Joyce is simply dismissing facts out of hand because he has no answers. When the facts are presented, there is clearly no argument for asset sales. Our partially privatised SOEs charge more; often need to be bailed out by the taxpayer and account for billions of dollars of lost revenue each year. The amount of shares retained by New Zealand investors is minimal making such an argument mute.

8% of New Zealanders purchased shares in Contact Energy when it was partially privatised. Today, only 2.5% of Contact Energy shares are retained by Kiwi's… so where does that leave National’s “Mum and Dad investors” proposition, especially considering National has no mechanism to ensure New Zealander's purchase or retain shares? It's a lie, plain and simple.

National is spending $6 million before the next general election on getting our assets ready to be sold. They're effectively gambling with our money, taking the will of the public for granted and not undertaking proper procedures to gain a mandate. Many polls have recently shown that two thirds of Kiwi's don't want to sell our SOEs. So who exactly is National listening to?

It's a travesty that National undertook the $6 million outlay of taxpayer money before seeking a mandate from the public. That's like stealing money from your wallet to sell your family car... Then you'll have to hire the car back again at a marked up price, unless you kick the thief out of the house. It's not the way a proper functioning Government should be conducting itself.

It will cost taxpayers around 2 to 5% of the profit value to sell our SOEs, which works out to be $136 to $340 million. Joyce knows what the potential costs will be from partially privatising our SOEs... He's playing stupid and is treated as such by David Cunliffe.

As usual National is happy to reside in rhetoric and a twisted sense of reality, which is not appreciated or helpful to the process. Lockwood Smith should ensure that questions are answered appropriately, instead of being lost in Nationals obfuscation.

Because of a lack of impartiality, dismissing the facts and protecting National's agenda, I have no confidence in Lockwood Smith as the Speaker of the House. He is not undertaking his duties properly and should therefore resign.

22 Jun 2011

Hero of the Week Award - Riot Dog

If you watched tonight's TV3 News at six, you might have caught a glimpse of the world renowned Riot Dog. He's been in regular attendance at riots and protests in Athens, Greece since 2008.

Check out how many fans he has on Facebook... and the low down about the Riot Dogs from Wikipedia. Here's a New Zealand article from last year likening Riot Dog to a superhero.

The famous pooch is now the subject of multiple blogs and even has his own T-shirt design. So without further adieu, Riot Dog is this weeks Hero Award Winner. Woof woof!

Play of the Day

There was a pretty good ass kicking of John Key in Parliament today. Here's a video of the start of it. Looks like another case of DIC.

I agree with the speaker here on his first order. However he goes down hill from there with the next two orders being totally out of order. The Speaker of the House is then ineffectual in his rulings. John Key tells at least two blatant lies concerning factual information in this video. Phil Goff might be an old race horse, but I'm backing him. John Key is weak in comparison.

21 Jun 2011

Stay off the Pipe

Last week, Chris Cornell sat down in Los Angeles with David Farrier for an interview. Chris was the front man of the hugely successful band Soundgarden. He then embarked on other endeavours such as Temple of the Dog, Audioslave and his solo career.

The seminal statement in the interview was “stay off the pipe.” Although Chris delivered this with humour, it’s a serious topic that needs further investigation.

Chris was referring to smoking drugs through a pipe, which is the preferred method to imbibe various mind altering substances from Marijuana to crack cocaine. His advice came a little late for Rock legend Rick Bryant, who was just jailed for possessing 400g of cannabis, a small amount of cannabis oil, ecstasy and some cocaine.

Defence lawyer Paul Wicks said there was no evidence his client had dealt to anyone other than friends and that Rick was a long-term cannabis user who used the drug to manage chronic pain. Wicks said the cocaine and ecstasy were used infrequently and had been in his house for a long time and that Rick's problem was with cannabis and he would undertake counseling if he was given home detention.

Justice Lang ignored this and sentenced Rick to three years, one month in prison. However with discounts for his early guilty plea, his charitable work and moves toward drug rehabilitation, Justice Lang ordered a final sentence of two years in prison. Rick will have no access to proper drug rehabilitation services while incarcerated, which is at a cost of around $100,000 per year.

Like the Government, our Justice system largely ignores advice from reputable researches such as the New England Journal of Medicine. Their recent paper (PDF) on Medicine and the Epidemic of Incarceration in the United States probably hasn't even been looked at by any National MP's. The extensive paper reviewed the deplorable plight of drug addicted and mentally ill inmates in America's prisons and concluded:
“Locking up millions of people for drug­ related crimes has failed as a public­ safety strategy and has harmed public health in the communities to which these men and women return. A new evidence ­based approach is desperately needed. We believe that in addition to capitalizing on the public health opportunities that incarceration presents, the medical community and policymakers must advocate for alternatives to imprisonment, drug­ policy reform, and increased public awareness of this crisis in order to reduce mass incarceration and its collateral consequence.”

I mention this because National is hell bent on following an American system, which has completely failed to curb drug use in that country. By following America's example and continuing the costly war on drugs, National undermines the ability of addicts to properly rehabilitate. There's also a huge cost in human misery from such archaic policies.

Marijuana is the third most popular recreational drug in New Zealand after alcohol and tobacco, both of which cause untold harm and carnage in our society. Unlike many other recreational drugs, Marijuana is not attributed to any deaths.

In the 90’s a Ministry of Health report found that 43% of males and 27% of females aged 18 to 24 years used marijuana in any given 12 month period. 70% of prosecutions for offences involving cannabis resulted in a conviction. Around 5% of the population used Opium or its derivatives, with around 13% trying hallucinogens at some time.

Chris was in all probability refering to P, also known as speed, burns and meth. It’s a commonly manufactured drug in New Zealand with the amount of Clandestine Drug Laboratories (Clan Labs) growing throughout the country as more people become addicted.

Methamphetamine is now the world’s most widely used drug, with New Zealand excelling in this negative trend.

Still the powers that be prefer to promote a punishment instead of rehabilitation program. The negative effects of which make gangs millions of dollars, creates more crime and keeps people addicted for longer. This is because a lot of crime is undertaken to pay for peoples drug habits, which are not reduced to any significant degree by incarceration.

An extensive report (PDF) by the New Zealand National Health Committee found that:
 A lack of alcohol and other drug assessments and treatment for prisoners undermines community safety. An estimated 2,000 prisoners with substance abuse problems are released from prison each year without an alcohol and other drug assessment.
They made a number of recommendations:
  • consider the case for transferring responsibility for prisoner primary health care from the Department of Corrections to the health sector
  • adhere to six principles for health and disability planning and delivery to prisoners
  • improve planning
  • strengthen relationships among responsible agencies
  • improve the quality of primary health care in prisons
  • strengthen identification, assessment and treatment of health conditions and disabilities, with a focus on mental health, alcohol and other drug dependence, and oral health
  • ensure seamless continuity of care
  • support maintenance of family relationships and responsibilities for prisoners
  • assist organisations that provide support to released prisoners and their families and whānau.
All of which will be ignored by a National Government. There is one thing that I disagree with the authors about though, the reason for New Zealand's high drug use is pretty obvious;  when the economy worsens, people turn to drugs because their lives are not working. Societies worsening conditions increases drug dependency.
What is the Government’s answer to this major problem? So far it’s been to remove funding for rehab units that can help addicts kick the habit and continue to spend millions of dollars on more Police and new jails in anticipation of more disaffected people finding little option but to commit crime. Sadly, drugs are often the only answer to the reality of peoples lives. Meanwhile, National continues to preach a tough on crime ethos that has totally failed to fix the problem.

The Government has totally failed to even comprehend the negative dynamic their policies are causing. Poor communities have been hardest hit with police unable to contend with the tide of drug use to any degree as to decrease its negative effects. So now that the war on drugs is lost, what is the answer? I'm asking you because there's no point in asking the Government.

The Jackal Joins Facebook

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A Room Full of Typing Monkeys

It was rather amusing to watch Bomber beat himself raw about DPF getting his very own Herald column a few weeks ago. Bomber was incensed and obviously had to check himself before he turned into the hulk and went completely berserk on us.

He does raise a serious issue though, that is becoming more and more problematic; the right wing is trying to take over our airwaves.

You might have noticed that National has been delivering a dishonest argument concerning Farmers effluent runoff that is polluting our waterways. Three years after a national inquiry proposed sweeping changes to help clean up our water, pollutants and toxic waste is still pouring into our rivers like there’s no tomorrow.

Federated Farmers has been vehemently lobbying Environment Minister Nick Smith to not adopt the policy, saying its own voluntary and "innovative" measures are helping clean New Zealand’s waterways. What a load of Tutae!

With the Manawatu amongst the most polluted River’s in the world, the Government’s delay in implementing measures just so that a few Farmers can maximize their profits is disgusting! They prefer to reside in hyperbole and rhetoric instead of ensuring we have clean water in the future.

At present, regional councils manage waterways under the Resource Management Act, but most are complacent at enforcing the rules. Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said the policy change would ensure councils had to act to improve water quality and reduce pollution levels:
 "Pollutants, especially effluent from dairy farms, and erosion from stock are choking our rivers with silt, algae, and toxins. The policy sought to reduce over-allocation and over-contamination of water, but had been kicked to touch by Dr Smith while polluting industries hoped it would go away,” Dr Norman said.
A similar story is being told over in Australia. The Federation of Australian Science and Technological Societies announced that they will be asking MPs and senators to make sure the climate change debate does not harm the vital contribution research is making to the nation's future.

They’re angry that misleading claims about climate science are spilling over into attacks on the credibility of scientific research in general. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said yesterday he would not be available to meet with the delegation of scientists:
"Look, I've got a pretty busy schedule today. But the fact of the matter is that we're not arguing about climate change, we're arguing about the best way to deal with it," he told ABC Radio.
The noisy disinformation campaign by climate denialists is given far to much leeway to continue a debate that they lost years ago. When the stakes are so high, their delaying tactics that are so readily accepted by our Ministers could cost millions of lives.
Now we have that same inaction and rhetoric concerning Christchurch. But worst still is National’s use of a natural disaster to give themselves more powers.

National went to great lengths to gain extraordinary legal powers when it comes to running the Christchurch earthquake recovery operation.

Many of these powers extend across the whole of New Zealand. The Canterbury democratically elected organization Environment Canterbury, was abolished and replaced by government appointees, namely Big Ger.

The Quake Recovery Minister can override existing law, giving Big Ger Canterbury's crown unopposed until 2016. Gerry is evasive when questioned about these additional powers that have not led to any progression in Christchurch’s recovery, leaving many concerned citizens to become even more disheartened.

My disquiet is founded on stories that pervade New Zealand's biased media. For all intents and purposes they’ve been bribed by the National Party to provide a slanted opinion. The partiality is blatantly obvious when you read publications such as the Herald and Listener. If you have the time to wade through all their fluff, what you’ll find is an ineffectual argument to protect the status quo. Believe you me, it ain’t worth protecting.

19 Jun 2011

Bursting the Housing Bubble

The Sunday Star Times had an article by Gregg Ninness with the header “House buyers in the box seat,” in today's addition. Ninness cherry picked some “evidence” to support his claims that “there has never been a better time to buy a house.” 

However the only figures he provides are those showing that the median house price fell in some areas between April and May, totally ignoring many other factors that make his egregious lead in to the story completely ridiculous!

Greg Ninness' article is plainly a media beat up to promote the failing and stagnant housing market. It’s not a better time to buy a house in New Zealand if you’re a Kiwi, because the cost of living has increased and therefore the ability to service a mortgage has decreased. Amongst other factors, this makes the Sunday Star Times front page article a sick joke at our expense.

Ninness claims that the market is recovering because May showed an increase in unconditional contracts, but fails to mention that April on average has a turnover of dwellings down 15% on March. The increase is a seasonal one not attributed to speculators rescinding their capital investment or any notable nation wide reduction in house prices. REINZ also reported:
There was a decline in the net percent of respondents noting vendors requesting appraisals to a net 4% saying fewer were doing so than in March. Last month’s survey produced a net positive reading of 11% so if we put this result alongside the decline in auction success noted above it suggests auction clearance rates fell because buyers pulled back rather than that sellers raised reserve prices.
Less Of A Buyers Market - A net 4% of respondents say that they feel sellers are more motivated. This result is down from a net 15% in our survey last month and suggests that underlying the various movements in the previous indicators there is perceived to be a shift underway toward sellers starting to hold the upper hand – though the market is not at that point yet, as evidenced by the response above in the prices question.
So where the fuck did Ninness get his information from? One of the main factors for declining home ownership is the very low median yearly income rate for New Zealander's... We're effectively paid peanuts.

So far the average house price for 2011 is $429,249. Even with lower interest rates the average Kiwi can't afford to purchase the average house with a median income of only $27,508 per year. Kiwi's owning a slice of heaven has been declining because of low wages, speculation and increases in the cost of living, not to mention the Governments failure to remedy the negative situation at all.

QuickStats show home ownership has been progressively declining for over 20 years now. Home ownership was highest in the 1991 Census, at 73.8%. In 2006 the census showed a fall to 54.5%, which is a drop of 19% in 15 years.

Circumstances on average are worse for most Kiwi's with no let up in the squeeze put on peoples wallets. It's no wonder that National have chosen to delay the 2011 Census until 2013. In my opinion, the Christchurch earthquakes were used as a convenient excuse to hide the Governments failure.

Nothing has changed to stop the downward trend. Projecting this forward gives us a figure of 48.2% of New Zealander's owning and occupying their homes in 2011, but the pessimist in me says it's more likely to be closer to 30%.
So did Ninness even bother to read the latest REINZ report (PDF) at all? He's clearly in the denial phase, evidenced by his picking and choosing figures to come up with his grandiose claims. Such disinformation is the occupation of a hack, not a legitimate journalist.

The information presented by Ninness is not indicative of the current housing market, nor is it providing much journalistic integrity to a Newspaper that should be founded on factual information. Ninness' article pretty much says that a slave isn't carrying a tone of rocks because a pebble fell off the load. It's total rubbish!

I know our print media is slanted towards painting a rosy view, but when it blatantly lies to the public to promote a falsehood, questions need to be asked... like why have a third of vendors left the sector recently and why is the Sunday Star Times so blatantly misrepresenting the facts? The truth of the matter is that New Zealander’s aren’t buying houses because we can't afford to... So pull your fucking heads in Sunday Star Times.

18 Jun 2011

The week that was 12 - 18 June

Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo was arrested yesterday, after boarding the Leiv Eiriksson oil drilling rig off Greenland.

Mr Naidoo carried the signatures of 50,000 supporters who have called for Cairn to explain how it would deal with a deep water drilling disaster similar to that which hit BP's Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico a year ago.

The arrests followed an injunction issued last week by a Dutch court, barring Greenpeace activists from approaching the drilling vessel. Greenpeace claims Cairn Energy have refused repeated requests to publish its oil spill plan. Speaking just before setting out to scale the platform, Mr Naido said:
"The Arctic oil rush is such a serious threat to the climate and to this beautiful fragile environment that I felt Greenpeace had no choice to return, so I volunteered to do it myself."
Ben Stewart, a Greenpeace associate onboard the Esperanza, said after Mr Naidoo's arrest that the activists were heading out of the area.
"After over a month of non-stop action to stop dangerous deep water drilling in the Arctic, which has seen 22 Greenpeace activists, including Kumi, arrested after braving freezing seas to protest against Cairn's reckless drilling, it is time to move the campaign up a gear and out of the Arctic. We are now leaving the area and taking the campaign against dangerous Arctic oil drilling to other places, and that's where we'll be for the rest of the year," he said.
The battle to stop Arctic oil drilling is far from over. 

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos declared a national disaster last Saturday for the flood and landslide-plagued country as intense rain continued to threaten homes and farmland. Initial reports said that 464 people had been killed with the flood affecting an area approximately 236,087 square kilometres in size. New Zealand's mainstream media incorrectly reported that there were no deaths from the flooding.

President Santos said nearly 1 million hectares (3,860 sq miles) of farmland was under water, describing the situation as a "great tragedy." The government estimates that the floods, which have affected swathes of the country, have caused damage to the value of NZ$6.2 billion.

Erupting volcanoes in East Africa and Latin America continued to disrupt flights this week over concerns that the spewing ash could jam aircraft engines. The Iceland volcano Grimsvotn threw ash hundreds of kilometres into the air. Last year, another Iceland volcano, Eyjafjallajoekull, grounded tens of thousands of flights and cost airlines millions of dollars.

Earlier this month, the Puyehue volcano in Chile began hurling plumes of ash over Latin America that spread to South Africa and Australia. In South America, the Nabro volcano in Eritrea, on the Red Sea spread ash as far as Australia as well.

Last week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on all governments and peoples to play their part to ensure that the world’s oceans are protected for future generations, warning that they face major threats in the years ahead.

“Many severe challenges related to oceans. These range from depleted fishery resources, the impacts of climate change and the deterioration of the marine environment to maritime safety and security, labour conditions for seafarers and the increasingly important issue of migration by sea,” he said.

Louisiana regulators have been ordered by a state appellate court to thoroughly analyze possible contamination, including radiation, from dumping fluids used in drilling for oil and natural gas into the seas just off the New Orleans coast.

On Friday, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that the state must determine if the practice of dumping wastewaters from offshore drilling operations is harmful to the environment and humans. Before being deposited in the state's seawaters, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality said the fluids, known as produced waters must be treated.

The Louisiana Environmental Action Network, a Baton Rouge-based environmental watchdog group, sued the environmental quality department after it issued new waste water permits to drillers in 2009 without analyzing how harmful the produced waters are.
The appellate court said the department "abused its discretion" in issuing the new permits without more testing or monitoring for contamination. The court noted that the Environmental Protection Agency is studying whether people are at risk from eating seafood "exposed to produced water" containing radioactive materials. Stuart Smith, a lawyer for the watchdog group, said an in-depth review was long overdue.
"This should have been done 30, 40 years ago. There has never been a comprehensive environmental impact statement done on the huge amounts of radioactive material being dumped into the territorial seas of Louisiana on a yearly basis. There is evidence of heavy metals and radioactive materials accumulating in the food chain." he said.

Jessica Ernst, who lives near Rosebud Alberta, is vowing to continue her fight against the oil industry over fracking which contaminated her water supply with methane gas. Hydraulic fracturing, involves pumping water, nitrogen and chemicals into the ground at high pressure in order to cause a series of cracks to free up natural gas.

She's suing Encana, Alberta Environment and the Energy Resources Conservation Board. Ernst says she knows what she's up against, and her chances of winning her legal battle are slim. But she vows to fight it out to the end and says she will not settle out of court because she wants the truth about hydraulic fracturing to be known.

Three New Zealand reports published by the Ministry of Health and the National Health Board this week, include maps showing that Northland, Waikato, Lakes, Taranaki, Bay of Plenty, Tairawhiti, Whanganui and Otago DHBs have more cancer deaths than the national average.

Cancer remains the leading cause of death in New Zealand, accounting for 29% of all deaths. The most commonly registered cancer in 2008 was prostate cancer, but lung cancer was the deadliest, followed by colorectal, breast and prostate cancer. New Zealand has one of the highest rates of cancer in the World.