The Jackal: July 2011

29 Jul 2011

Waging War on Beneficiaries

Earlier this year Social Development and Employment Minister Paula Bennett, as part of National's divide and rule agenda announced a "War on Beneficiaries."

The exact details on just what form that war is going to manifest into are still largely unknown, but there's a few preemptive strikes that have impacted on the poor of New Zealand greatly, entrenching poverty further and increasing the wealth divide.

First National broke an election promise by raising GST to 15% which had a disproportionate effect on the poor. The small increase in benefits a few months afterwards was a token gesture so that National did not appear to be uncaring. In context to the increased cost of living, it effectively meant nothing.

National said they implemented a policy that would see benefits match inflation, but there's been a huge increase in the cost of basic goods and services and National has clearly decided that increasing benefits to match that will not be adhered to. It's much easier to have an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff than ensure people are not living in desperate circumstances.

After running a controversial campaign of shame the beneficiary, which included breaching the privacy of welfare dependent people, National then kicked a large number of people off benefits and made the criteria to reapply even harder.
The right base their entire argument concerning welfare reform on misconceptions. They believe there's something different about people on welfare, that they are somehow sub-human and therefore less deserving. Effectively National is trying to use such misconceptions to gain public support by scapegoating the poor.

It's the same old game of trying to gain traction for policies that have little credibility, by appealing to peoples baser instincts.

Welfare dependent people are no different from you or me. The reality of the situation is there's not enough jobs and that has resulted in high unemployment rates. Such a dynamic is clearly not the fault of the welfare dependent.

Recently a British right winger, Iain Duncan Smith visited New Zealand to stump up National's failure to gain wide spread public support for their bene bashing policies. He believes that the debate in New Zealand is out of date and that "austerity measures are being imposed on every sphere of British society," as justification for his proposed welfare reforms. What a load of rubbish!
It's the same old ruse whereby the rich become richer and the poor become poorer. This divide has been identified as one of the most damaging things a society can have.

The negative dynamic in New Zealand was confirmed again with yesterday's release of the National Business Review's annual Rich List, showing that the combined wealth of the richest has ballooned 20% in less than a year from $38.2 billion to $45.2 billion - the highest total ever.

Meanwhile thousand's of New Zealand children go hungry every day whereby KidsCan had to distribute 1.6 million food items to decile 1 to 4 primary and intermediate schools last year, and has a further 105 schools on its waiting list.

The negative social impacts from childhood poverty should not be underestimated, and one gauge that cannot be ignored is New Zealand's high youth suicide rates, the highest in the OECD. Youth from impoverished families are twice as likely to commit suicide.

Despite the various negative effects that a life in poverty causes, the right wing believe that a "broken society" can be attributed to the welfare system. They are of course wrong! There's one main area to attribute blame, the so called recession that is afflicting many western civilizations. In turn the recession is a direct result and byproduct of greed by the already wealthy.

The right wing tries to use the effects from that greed dynamic to promote welfare cuts, believing that those least able to pay should make further sacrifices for something they have no control of. The problem with that is it will cost society a lot more further down the line, and not only in financial terms.

27 Jul 2011

Te Ururoa Flavell - Asshole of the Week Award

In a despicable column in Rotorua's Daily Post newspaper, Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell suggested a "very hard stand" should be made on suicide. He thinks that "one is almost wasting time asking why this happens." Really! We're wasting our time asking why young people kill themselves?

Being that the National government has increased poverty and hardship for young people, I guess Flavell has a good reason to want the focus to go off the various causes of youth suicide.

What has happened to the Maori party? When they started, they appeared to support many worthwhile and transformational policies that could have helped New Zealand immensely. 

Now they're caught up in National's negative politicking that will see them fail to reach the 5% threshold in the next general election. But it's not all National's fault... The Maori party is doing a pretty good job at killing itself off. Here's Flavell tightening the noose:
"If a child commits suicide, let us consider not celebrating their lives on our marae; perhaps bury them at the entrance of the cemetery so their deaths will be condemned by the people. In doing these things, it demonstrates the depth of disgust the people have with this. Yes it is a hard stance, but what else can we do?" Flavell wrote.
What else can he do? He's a Minister of Parliament and part of the government FFS! Why doesn't he start by listening to what people working with disillusioned youth have to say. Wouldn't that be a novel idea? People with big egos like his have little ears I suppose. Mana Mental Health Service manager Gavin Pike said Mr Flavell was wrong to suggest such a thing:
"His addressing this by way of putting our people at the front of the urupa, or on the outside, is not tika [right]. The shame and embarrassment for that whanau will have an impact for many generations to come. If a whanau member committed suicide ... why should the whanau be persecuted by their own?"
Flavell is clearly another idiot who likes to blame the victim. Being that New Zealand has the highest rates of suicide in the OECD for youth aged 15-19, there needs to be an insightful and proactive development in this area.

The blame the victim mentality from people like Flavell is completely ineffectual and in fact adds to the dysfunction. What we need to do is condemn what makes young people commit suicide. Perhaps condemn is too strong a word; we need to identify it and change it. 

Discarding suicide victims without proper burial will do more to hide the epidemic than anything else. Although Flavell is highlighting the issue, this is not the way to go about instigating a change to New Zealand's horrendously high suicide rates.

Stigmatizing families will do nothing to reduce suicide, it will just prolong the guilt and sadness that many families afflicted by youth suicide go through. So for being a complete dickhead, Te Ururoa Flavell is this weeks Asshole Award winner.

"No man ever listened himself out of a job." - Calvin Coolidge.

26 Jul 2011

Cactus Kate on the CGT

Last week right wing elitist Cathy Odgers blogged under her pseudonym Catcus Kate about Labour's CGT policy. Obviously she's not in favour of the proposal, and has regurgitated one of her old posts again to try and mount an argument.

She does more to highlight Prebble's hypocrisy than anything else. In fact the only argument she manages to extrude from her bigoted little mind is inconclusive and ultimately incorrect:
National will not repeal CGT if Labour and the Greens get in to office and introduce it. There are no second chances to stop CGT and other silly taxes but to kill them off before they take their first breath, Odgers wrote.
Odgers is clearly being disingenuous as any tax can be changed or removed. What people need to realise is that National after only one term in government have managed to dig the country into a $16.7 billion dollar deficit hole. Some of this debt was unforeseen while some of it was intentional to try and justify National's cuts and proposed asset sales.

There's a huge difference between a CGT and Privatisation of our SOE's to pay for the debt crisis National has predominantly created. A lot of this difference has been covered already, however nobody has mentioned that it's a lot easier to change the tax system than to buy back our privatized SOE's.
Despite John Key's claims that a CGT is a "dagger through the heart of growth," it's very likely that under National, there will be a CGT introduced that includes the family home after the cash injection from privatization runs out. After all, John Key believes that a CGT will not work if the family home is excluded. The problem is that under National, we'll lose our assets as well.

With Labour, Greens and Mana there will be a CGT that does not include the family home and we'll keep our assets for the long term goal of retaining a substantial revenue stream. It's a robust plan that will build an escape ladder, while National's plan just digs the deficit hole even deeper with more serious consequences in the future.

As per usual of right wing proponents, Odgers is contradicting what other members of Act and even the leader of her party believes. When Don Brash was the Reserve Bank Governor, he spoke about the tax advantages of property investment:
"It is not at all clear to me why, given an already-strong tendency for New Zealanders to invest in property, we should give special tax advantages to that form of investment. I think you will find most economists feel uneasy about the fact that someone who works for wages can pay tax at 33 percent...and someone who makes a capital gain pays no tax on that. It does on the face of it seem unfair. The difficulty is, that actually designing a capital gains tax which doesn't create more distortions than it removes is not easy. I am certainly open to thinking about it, yes." he said.

Despite this, Odgers has come out swinging against a CGT saying that she hates all tax. She's even attributed politicians who introduce new taxes as comparatively addicted to alcohol.

Although her form of gutter politics is sometimes amusing, it fails to highlight the underlying issue; something needs to be done to rescue New Zealand from National's deficit hole.
Odgers makes a good showing at appearing to be against tax, but her true motivation is in a disproportionate tax system that rewards the already wealthy at the expense of the poor. Act dislikes the CGT because it removes a tax haven where many rich people have squandered their money to the detriment of society. Here is a clue concerning her belief in that disproportionate tax system:
National failed at capturing hearts and minds in their recent GST hike because their tax cuts were not large enough. Everyone saw it as an opportune time to hike prices, some more than the GST effect.
Odgers believes people did not accept National's increase in GST because the tax cuts for the wealthy were not extensive enough. Although her statement concerning price rises over and above the GST increase is touching, it is false sentiment and ultimately contrite.
You might remember Odgers for some of the hate speech she promotes and is unashamedly non apologetic for. Here she writes about her financial policy concerning the poor of New Zealand:
The heaving pathetic underclass do not seem to have any idea how to look after and better themselves let alone their kids. All the Whanau Ora in the world given to them from the collective troughing of the "consultant" middle class neo-minted Maori brorocracy won't help them. Laws has already suggested a lump sum of $10k for sterilisation to much horrow and howling from those with no better answer, so how about another way? How about we cut off the DPB and dole altogether and PAY the underclasses NOT to breed.
Cathy Odgers is clearly not Minister of Parliament material.

25 Jul 2011

Jumping to Conclusions

Anders Behring Breivik
Speculating on things without enough information is a dangerous practice at the best of times. You run the risk of appearing the fool if that guess work is later shown to be incorrect.

That's exactly what happened in John Key's meeting with the US President Barack Obama, when news of the Norway killings was commented on by the leaders.

John Key jumped to the conclusion that the bombing and youth camp massacre that claimed the lives of 93 people was the work of Muslim terrorists. He tried to justify New Zealand's involvement in the Afghanistan war when he said:
“If it is an act of global terrorism then I think what it shows is that no country, large or small, is immune from risk and that’s why New Zealand plays its part in Afghanistan.” he said.
David Farrar then blogged:
Initially many thought the terrorist attack may have been an extreme Islamist group – partly because such a group actually put out a press release claiming responsibility. But it is a reminder that killing innocent people because you don’t like Islam is just as evil and demented as killing innocent people in the name of Islam.
In this case David Farrar has used a falsehood to try and defend John Key's guesswork that was clearly based on his prejudices. The report that said Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami claimed responsibility for the Norway killings was fabricated, anybody with half a brain and any journalistic integrity would know that from a few minutes search on the internet.

It's a further indication that the right wing will utilize tragic events and disinformation to try and increase peoples acceptance for their stupid actions and what is essentially unjust wars that have claimed millions of innocent lives.

The initial unfounded belief by the right wing and so called experts that Al Qaeda were to blame extended through many false reports. But the facts of the matter told a different story.

In a statement made by the English Defense League to refute any link between them and the Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik, who wrote of his admiration of the EDL in his 1,500-page manifesto entitled 2083, they said:
Be it the arrested man or the Islamic terrorist group Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, who claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that Norway’s involvement with NATO forces and the Norwegian press re-printing cartoons of Mohammed, were the reasons for the attack.
It's a common practice by those who want to perpetuate falsehoods to link to reputable outlets to try and increase believability in their lies. That's the case with this article that states the New York Times reported:
A terror group, Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or the Helpers of the Global Jihad, issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, according to Will McCants, a terrorism analyst at C.N.A., a research institute that studies terrorism. The message said the attack was a response to Norwegian forces’ presence in Afghanistan and to unspecified insults to the Prophet Muhammad. “We have warned since the Stockholm raid of more operations,” the group said, according to Mr. McCants’ translation, apparently referred to a bombing in Sweden in December 2010. “What you see is only the beginning, and there is more to come."
This is another false report, with much of the incorrect claims being generated by a William McCants. He's the founder and co-editor of Jihadica, and apparently served as Senior Adviser for Countering Violent Extremism at the U.S. Department of State, is a program manager of the Minerva Initiative at the Department of Defense, and fellow at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center.

McCants translation/interpretation was incorrect and unverified when he published it. They have blamed the media for being too quick at disseminating the incorrect information that claimed Al Qaeda was responsible. It's not much of an excuse for their falsehood really.

Even when the evidence is clear, McCant continues to try and involve Al Qaeda in Breivik's crimes. It's similar to the "weapons of mass destruction" ruse and is effectively another load bullshit! Benjamin Doherty from the Electronic Intifada summed up McCants lies well when he wrote:
The threshold for a terrorism expert must be very low. This whole rush to disseminate a false, unverifiable and flimsily sourced claim strikes me as a case of an elite fanboy wanting to be the first to pass on leaked gadget specs.
While much of the media, dishonest blogger's and an ignorant Prime Minister were quick to lay blame on Muslim's, the truth of the matter seems to point in another direction entirely.

In September, Norway backed a Palestinian bid for recognition in the United Nations for their sovereignty. This might seem unremarkable, if you're unaware of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict.

Israel strongly opposes Palestinian sovereignty because it would mean an end to their occupation. Palestinian sovereignty begins with what Obama called “the full and phased withdrawal of Israeli security forces,” including from the Jordan River border area and with the removal of all settlements not on land covered by “mutually agreed swaps.”

Israel has long denied democratic freedoms for millions of oppressed Palestinians, imposing various restrictions and imperial harshness, which has exploited and brutalized the Palestinians for decades. It's no wonder that the democratic Norway fully supported Palestinian sovereignty: 
“We will consider very carefully the proposed text that’s to be put forward by the Palestinians in the coming weeks,” said Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas beside him at a recent press conference.
Jonas Gahr Stoere spoke again about recognition for Palestine Forty-eight hours before Fridays massacre. He told the youths that the Palestinians deserve a country of their own and that the occupation must end. 
Labour youth camp prior to attack.
So there's definitely motivation on the part of Israel to support the despicable act that occurred in Norway. It would also seem that such a horrendous act would be difficult to execute by a single right-wing Christian Fundamentalist alone. Could he be an Israeli Manchurian Candidate and how will the world react to such a sinister threat if this is the case?

It certainly makes John Key’s initial incorrect blame the Muslim's for what occurred and attempted justification for New Zealand's involvement in the Afghanistan war even more repugnant!

I wouldn't like to jump to conclusions, but the possible Mosad connection is why we need clarification concerning Key's cover up of possible Israeli agents working in New Zealand.

It appears that they were harvesting false passports to presumably commit further murders and terrorism throughout the world. It's definitely something that shouldn't be swept under the carpet, but I presume that's exactly what's going to happen.

23 Jul 2011

Peter Whittall - Asshole of the Week Award

Yesterday, the Pike River Mine inquiry revealed that Peter Whittall did not even attend a test evacuation to see if somebody could escape up the 100 metre-plus vertical ventilation shaft, which is the mines only means of escape other than the main 2.3km tunnel.

Whittall said he was on the road doing a shareholder briefing, showing exactly how highly Pike River Coal viewed the safety of it's workers.

No test run had been undertaken to see if an escape up the Alimak (ventilation shaft) was viable. Certainly no test run was ever done using a self-rescuer, which gives around 30-60 minutes of oxygen.

Users of the self-rescuers are not supposed to over-exert themselves making a climb up the escape shaft difficult. It was also revealed that the Alimak could not be used at all in the event of a fire. Apparently Whittall and fellow colleges joked about who would be able to get up the escape shaft a few months prior to the disaster.

It's no laughing matter now though... 29 men were killed and still lie entombed in the Pike River mine because they were not alerted to the danger and could not escape in time.

It's the companies responsibility to ensure gas monitoring and removal is adequate and proper escape routes are available and known through trial evacuations. Unfortunately trial evacuations were not held, presumably because it cost money.

Despite this, Whittall said:
“I think it shows that the company has taken every conceivable step and employed every available consultant to provide the best possible advice…I think the company from day one has always had safety at the forefront of its way of operating.”
If that had been the case, the disaster would not have occurred.

Such stupidity is nothing new on Whittall's part. While the victims' families and union representatives were told to sit in the audience at the memorial service, Pike River Coal executives were given pride of place next to the Prime Minister for yet another media opportunity.

When Whittall spoke at the memorial, he made no company apology to the families of the deceased. At one stage a church leader even referred to the explosion as an Act of God. In fact National and Pike River Coal used the situation for self promotion, and in light of their responsibility, such manipulation is unacceptable.

Yesterday signalled the end of the medias love affair with Peter Whittall, which was a baseless relationship built on public grief. It would also seem that National politicians are now going to distance themselves from the disaster as much as they can. Rats abandoning a sinking ship in other words.

There is no longer any positive effect from John Key and his flunkeys taking the public platform when they're equally as liable.

In light of Peter Whittall's decision to cut corners to get the coal out of the hole faster than was planned, to the detriment of a second emergency egress, is it any wonder he's an Asshole Award winner?

22 Jul 2011

Friday Fun with Photos #10

First monkey covered his eyes and spoke,
“See no evil”...
By refusing to see and confronting evil
Victims are born of doubt, guilt and fear
Clear sight sheds light and illumines evil

Second monkey covered his ears and spoke,
“Hear no evil”...
By refusing to hear the voice of evil one cannot know truth
Truth is discerned by the heart and mind
Voicing truth creates a vibration that dis-integrates evil

Third monkey covered his mouth and thought,
“Speak no evil”...
Evil cannot manifest if one thinks before speaking

Fourth monkey opened his mouth and spoke,
“Do no evil”...
This was the wisest monkey of all. 

Three Monkeys... Plus One - A Poem by Ray Lucero

John Key Lies Again

On Tuesday it was revealed that an Israeli man named Ofer Mizrahi, who died in the February Christchurch earthquake had five or six passports on him.

Apparently the other three Israeli people traveling with Mizrahi, took their own passports with them when they left the country, but before departing they handed over the deceased man’s Israeli passport to Israeli representatives.

Michal Fraidman, Liron Sade and Guy Jordan all left New Zealand within 12 hours of the quake, leaving behind their deceased traveling companion. It was also reported that Israeli ambassador Shemi Tzur arrived in Christchurch within hours of the quake and personally escorted the three survivors to the airport so they could fly back to Israel. This very unusual behaviour raised suspicions and an investigation was launched.

John Key said on Wednesday that the Israeli man killed in the van from falling debris had only one passport on him, it was not a New Zealand one and that this was not suspicious. What is suspicious though is that the man's passport was apparently handed over to Israeli officials before his traveling companions left New Zealand and not found on the deceased Mizrahi, who according to the SIS officer had five or six other passports on him. This would make John Key's claims completely untrue on two counts.

Another discrepancy is that John Key said he did not know how many passports were involved.

He also said that it's not of national interest to divulge further information. This is clearly incorrect and such obfuscation by the Prime Minster is unacceptable.

John Key said only one passport was found but the Editor for the Southland Times, Fred Tulett, said that according to an unnamed SIS officer, there were five to six passports found on the man. Tulett has no reason to lie. So who is telling the truth and why is John Key playing down the serious issue of Israeli spies gaining false passports from New Zealand?
"We had a scenario where we couldn't be sure, we undertook a full investigation. It didn't turn up any information... and on that basis we left it at that. We don't expect Israel to spy on us, but we have no evidence to support that they have. We simply had a very unusual set of circumstances," John Key said.
What is also alarming is that the Israeli's sent in an unaccredited search and rescue team into the red zone who were apparently caught and then escorted out of the area. I wonder what they were looking for? It is interesting to note that Hilik Magnus, who led the private Israeli search and rescue team had previously worked for Israeli intelligence. Whether he is still a Mosad agent though is questionable.

It was also reported, that New Zealand intelligence officers checked the police national computer database because of concerns that Israeli spies may have hacked into it. An Israeli forensic team in Christchurch could have had access to the Police computer system, and activities of other groups of Israelis around that time fueled the hacking concerns.

John Key said there had been "no misuse of the police computer" with Shemi Tzur backing him up by saying it's "science fiction" that Israeli spies would be working in New Zealand. The SIS officer is concerned enough with the suspicious occurrences to approach the media and divest secret information that I am sure John Key and the Israeli's would prefer was kept secret. That officer has no reason to lie and is putting their career at stake by making such information public.

In light of past Israeli spies gaining false passports from New Zealand, this is a most serious incident. Relations between Israel and New Zealand turned sower in July 2004 after two Mossad agents, Eli Cara, and Uriel Kelman, were caught and jailed for six months for trying to illegally obtain New Zealand passports. So it's not exactly "science fiction" at all.

A third suspected Mossad agent and former Israeli diplomat based in Europe, Zev Barkan, stole the identity of a tetraplegic Aucklander to fraudulently obtain his passport. Israel gave assurances at the time that such things would never occur again. Jewish media have now labelled that espionage as a minor "kerfuffle."

Another excuse they have given is that the people in the group were too young to be spies. Ofer Mizrahi is twenty three years old. If there was no potential in him being a Mosad spy, why did the SIS conduct an investigation?

Could New Zealand be a staging point for Mosad agents to gain false passports and identities so they're able to travel and undertake terrorism in other countries? Recent occurrences certainly make it appear so. It would also appear that we cannot trust our Prime Minister to be truthful, but what else is new?

21 Jul 2011

Disaster Capitalism

This week it was revealed that CERA officials are being paid over twice as much as was officially recommended. Former National Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, Anake Goodall and Murray Sherwin are being paid $1000 a day while the panel's convenor, Sir John William Hansen, receives $1400 a day.

This is way more than even the highest remuneration package as outlined in the Fees and allowances for statutory and other bodies report (PDF).

The media misreported somewhat concerning the level outlined in the Cabinet Fees Framework when they said the fee range was from $360 to $655 for chairpersons, and from $270 to $415 for a member.

The actual fee structure is dependent on the persons skill level. When I put Jenny Shipley through the test she received a 12, which makes her entitlement begin at $270 and not exceed $320. That means Shipley's receiving between three and four times as much as she's entitled to.

It's a blatant abuse of the guidelines by Gerry Brownlee, made all the worse by his lies following the revelation of right wing snouts in the trough. Brownlee said the people he appointed would not work for less, while the boards Chairperson, John Hansen said he was unaware of what the remuneration package was. So who is telling the truth, and why has Brownlee now refused to answer questions concerning this matter?

On the back of one of the worst recessions New Zealand has ever seen, such abuse of power is despicable! The fact that National has used the excuse of financial restrictions to cut Working for Families, CYF services, DOC, Woman's Refuges, Early Childhood Education and nearly every aspect of support that is required for a properly functioning society, such hypocrisy is simply disgusting!

Last year, Jenny Shipley claimed $94,508 from the taxpayer for limousines and domestic air travel. It's nothing new; in the year ended December 2002 Shipley spent just under $50,000 on domestic air travel and chauffeur-driven cars.

Apparently she also receives up to $40,250 per year in annuities, which do not include international travel and chauffeur-driven cars, even though she spent less than two years as Prime Minister. But who cares about this Parliamentary Services oversight, she's a Dame after all.

In 2008 Shipley was the chairperson of Mainzeal, she sat on the board of its parent company, Richina Pacific. She also chaired Senior Money International, is on the board of Momentum, a local human resources company, and joined the board of China Construction Bank, China's third largest bank. Does she have any spare time to help the Christchurch rebuild, or is this a symbolic appointment designed to look good?

Let's not even mention the large superannuation payments Shipley continues to receive for being an ex PM. It's obvious that she doesn't need the overinflated remuneration package awarded to her by Gerry Brownlee because she's a fellow National hack. But then again; the greedy are always in want.

It would also appear that she is not appropriately qualified for the position. One can only conclude that such obvious corruption is acceptable and probably commonplace within elitist right wing ranks, and that we're likely to uncover a lot more disaster capitalism in the future.

19 Jul 2011

National's Campaign of Disinformation

David Cunnliffe blogged today about Labour's Capital Gains Tax and the disinformation National and its media outlets are promoting to try and turn public opinion. They have decided to undertake a campaign of disinformation, because an argument based on the truth would be problematic for the right wing.

It would be preferable that the debate was centered around the facts, but alas honesty is not something we can expect from the National Party. 

One of the main proponents of their propaganda machine is the Nation program. Last weekend, the Nation ran a piece on Labours CGT that was completely unbalanced and inaccurate. Narelle Suisted started her piece by saying that a CGT is a poisoned chalice. FFS!

This is similar to John Key’s reaction when he said it would be a “dagger through the heart” of western capitalism. Shock horror! Rich people will need to pay their fair share of tax in New Zealand, it’s not going to kill anybody. It’s not a poisoned chalice or a dagger through the heart, with such arguments being ridiculous and childish.

Suisted follows up with a supposed quote from David Lange:
“It’s the sort of thing that you would put in place if you were sure you were going to lose the next election and be in opposition for the next 20 years.”
For the life of me I cannot find a reference for this quote. Perhaps it is further disinformation designed to create an emotive response.  It's a bit like playing the same Phil Goff quote twice, giving far more time to an opposing argument and referencing Phil Goff when he said "we haven't considered that as part of our policy," when he could have been talking about anything.

Suisted then referenced a spokeswoman for Michael Cullen who apparently said "basically it’s political suicide in New Zealand," again without any reference. However this time I found where Suisted gained her information. National MP Amy Adams referenced the apparent quote in her speech to Parliament on July the 6th 2011, however there is no record of the quote itself.

Are we simply to believe Amy Adam's recollection of what was said in 2002 and should a political program base its research on what a National MP says, without any supporting evidence? Amy says it was Michael Cullen who made the quote while Suisted says it was Cullen's spokeswoman. Perhaps it is best to not believe either of them.

Furthermore, Labour will spend only 10% on economic development from a CGT, making Bill English's bullshit about "tax and spend" complete rubbish! It’s fear mongering at its very worst, and is not honest or balanced reporting or debating by any stretch of the imagination.

18 Jul 2011

Pimp Your Country

John Key will spend the next few days talking free trade with American companies and Barack Obama. While the mainstream media paints a rosy picture concerning a free trade agreement with the United States through the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the truth of the matter is not being reported at all.

As a country, we have little to gain from talks with the US, just ask New Zealand's chief trade negotiator Mark Sinclair who privately told a visiting US State Department official that New Zealand had little to gain from a free-trade agreement.

What a free trade deal with the US means for New Zealand is greater control by their corporations to instigate legal procedures against New Zealand, even against the Government when a decision is made that costs a corporate entity. What's worse is that many of the deals will done secretly.  It’s basically a corporatisation of Governmental decision making, which is undemocratic.

The overseas trip comes after a secret campaign was undertaken by American Pharmaceutical industries and the US Government in conjunction with National to undermine Pharmac. Ultimately the plan is to weaken control over medications and increase costs through less subsidisation.

It's a failed system that has caused many medications to be unaffordable by the American poor. No doubt John Key will find a way to spin such information, but like low wages, it's a negative dynamic that does nothing to help the already struggling.

John Key will meet with Warner Brothers for a royal right wing wank fest over their success at weakening workers rights. They will no doubt discus further ways to increase corporate welfare, which seems to be the only welfare John Key understands. Perhaps the discussion will move to undermining unions, which is of course an important duty of a Prime Minister.

A free trade deal with the US will lead to many more Governmental decisions not being based on what the majority of New Zealander's want. In terms of environmental considerations, it's a most concerning and unconstitutional endeavour. The National Government has already shown their disregard for consultation over oil drilling plans on the East Coast, now they plan to ensure the cost of any bungled agreements is met by the taxpayer.

John Key wants further deregulation so that middlemen can make even more profit from the hard work of slaves in places like India and China. He wants to deregulate Americas control of certain tradable goods and is willing to trade some legal protection New Zealander's currently enjoy for that deregulation.

Don’t be fooled, a free trade deal will not equate to cheaper merchandise. It will equate to more expensive and badly constructed goods that are designed to fail. There will also be less restrictions imposed on the materials used in manufacturing, the process of that manufacturing and the environmental consequences, something that can no longer be ignored.

It’s unfortunate that planned obsolescence has been so successfully incorporated into our lives, and that we’re slow to realise the true cost and effect of a throw away society. That is what John Key is promoting, a further entrenchment of the destructive status quo.

Ultimately John Key's a bean counter and does not believe in climate change. He will promote the failed system because he cannot envisage an alternative.

The problem with the plan National is promoting is that it’s not sustainable. Poor countries that have little protection for their citizens are being used, just as that abuse is undermining the protection in developed countries. It’s not something that we in all good conscience should accept in this day and age. Free trade is an outdated and destructive meme that has had its day, and it has been found lacking.

Make no mistake, John Key is not undertaking this on the behalf of New Zealand, he’s working for the proponents of the NWO who are currently making billions of dollars from the turmoil in the Middle East and the debt crisis in Europe.

The destructive system that John Key promotes has been executed to achieve world domination through turmoil. Much of this is achieved with mass surveillance and brain washing. What the NWO does not understand is that they'll never control a world through untold misery and destruction, they will only destroy it.

But it’s not just other countries that Free Trade has been so effective at repressing. New Zealand’s media has long been infiltrated by an American theme of brainless trivialities designed to make people stupid! Judging by how many people voted National at the last election, it's been relatively effective.

Intelligent and intellectual people pose the greatest threat to their regime, and therefore National has mounted an attack on many proponents of free speech and education. I suggest that you do not accept their kinder gentler form of fascism, because it will ultimately end badly, and not just for New Zealand.

16 Jul 2011

Worse Off Under National

Wasn’t Citizen A amusing last night. Cameron Slater squirming when put on the rack concerning his infamous gut shot comments re Arie Smith-Voorkamp was priceless. But then the ignoramus AKA Whaleoil made a most interesting revelation, which seems strange in context to his normal campaign of disinformation.
“Are you any better off after three years under National than you were under Labour,” he said @ 27 Min.
Well blow me down with a feather… old Cameron Slater saying Labour would win the next general election if they asked the most simple of questions, are New Zealander's better or worse off since National took over?

Personally, there’s only one answer. I can categorically say that things are worse for me under National. My business is no longer profitable because of high overheads, and my day-to-day living costs have increased markedly.

One cannot base an answer on personal experience alone, so let us analyze some statistical information. Unemployment has risen dramatically since 2008:

National has ensured that the recession continues longer than it needed to:
These statistics show that the right wing has failed New Zealand and most Kiwi's are worse off because of National's prehistoric policies. But don't let this blog convince you of that... Just ask yourself the question, are things better or worse since National gained control, and then vote accordingly.

Time for Some Dance Lessons

A while ago, I decided to get some dance lessons. Don’t get me wrong; I can dance already, being a veritable master at the Twist and Funky Chicken.

However it’s tap dancing that has always interested me, so I finally paid for some lessons, which are going superbly! There’s still a few months to practice before the big night, and some spaces left in the dance class, so feel free to get your dancing shoes on as well.

I’m preparing to dance on the grave of the Act party. Don’t be offended though, it’s a metaphorical grave, and one dug entirely by Don Brash & Co. They’ve been digging their own political graves for some time now, and we're almost at the stage of closing the casket and bidding farewell forever to the likes of:

1. Don Brash for lying about meetings he, Steven Joyce and John Key had with the Exclusive Brethren prior to their despicable pamphlet campaign.
2. David Garrett for stealing a dead babies identity to get a false passport.
3. Rodney Hide for corrupt abuse of office.
4. John Ansell and his racist comments.
5. John Boscowan for foaming at the mouth.
6. Roger Douglas for animal abuse and selling out New Zealand.
7. Cathy Odgers for hate speech.
8. Cameron Brown for telling a woman to get raped.
I hope that’s enough to keep the zombies from escaping. I’m picking there aren’t all that many New Zealander’s that will support a sexist, racist, bigoted, hypocritical and disingenuous party.

If even one of the Act zombies escaped, we could have another infectious epidemic of brain dead policies on our hands, and nobody wants to see that horrendous spectacle again, not even Christine Rankin.

15 Jul 2011

Friday Fun with Photos #9

The organization of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan provides, and its principle of government demands, that there shall always be one individual, senior in rank to all other Klansmen of whatever rank, on whom shall rest the responsibility of command, and whose leadership will be recognized and accepted by all other loyal Klansmen.

14 Jul 2011

Lockwood Smith - Asshole of the Week Award

Lockwood Smith didn't allow Hone Harawira to swear his oath of allegiance to the crown in Parliament today. Instead the Leader of te Mana party had to make his valedictory speech outside in front of the house of representatives. Lockwood was unhappy that Hone wanted to swear his allegiance to the crown in Maori.

Unless I'm mistaken, Lockwood Smith does not speak te Reo, so he had no call to admonish Hone Harawira in such a disrespectful manner and insist that he leave the house.

Lockwood had no idea if Hone was making the correct allegiance, as he did not employ the use of a translator. There is usually scope given for a declarative statement before swearing the oath, making Lockwood's action questionable. Perhaps it was designed to take the focus off Labours CGT announcement. In my opinion there's no excuse for such unacceptable conduct.

Even after Labour's MP Trevor Mallard attempted to get leave for Mr Harawira to return and read the affirmation, other racist National MP's objected. The sheer arrogance of Lockwood Smith and disrespect shown by other members of parliament is unbelievably disgraceful!

I think Lockwood meant tendency not tenancy. Another sign that he has had his frontal lobes removed. Speaking of stupidity, Lockwood Smith also tried to stop a Waiata from being sung. Supporters of Mr Harawira sang from the public galleries after the leader of te Mana was removed.

Waiata or songs and chants are an important part of Māori culture. The words and expressions preserve the wisdom and knowledge of ancestors. Waiata are often performed at the end of whaikōrero (speeches) to support what has been said. They can also be sung to remove tapu.

For a the speaker of the house to insist that one language takes precedence over another is totally unacceptable. He had no right to order a duly elected member of parliament out of the house of representatives for speaking an official language of New Zealand. The speaker later told Parliament he felt bad for interrupting the supporters’ waiata, but stood by his actions.
“Abuse of the law of this country cannot be celebrated. We must all remember we as members are not above the law,” he said.
Last week was Maori language week, with many people engaging in speaking te Reo. It is a beautiful language and one we can be proud of. There is no provision in law that requires the speaking of English over the Maori language when swearing allegiance to the crown. If that were the case, it would absolve allegiance by many chiefs who have done just that.

I'm disgusted at the blatant racism shown by Lockwood Smith and formally request that the Speaker of the House resign immediately. He is clearly deserving, and is therefore duly awarded this weeks asshole award.

Deregulating for Disaster

Former chief inspector of coal mines Robin Hughes, with over 40 years of coal mining experience gave evidence yesterday at the Royal Commission of Inquiry concerning the Pike River mine disaster.

He said mine safety changes made by the National Government in the 1990's was the underlying cause for the disaster that occurred 19 November 2010 and claimed 29 lives.

Health and safety should be paramount at any modern mine. The fact that it was not and this led to an increased likelihood of danger, is totally unacceptable. Not only did National repeal the Coal Mining Act and regulations in 1993, they dismantled the inspectorate further in 1998 and then halted a review of mine safety in 2009.

Even after Damien O’Connor in May 2010 raised mine safety issues with Kate Wilkinson, National did not reopen the review on mine safety. Although the Minister of Labour is ultimately responsible for the mismanagement, the buck in my opinion stops with Gerry Brownlee.

On June 30th 2009 Brownlee made a speech at the Inaugural Coal Seam Gas Industry Briefing in which he stated:
Also on the West Coast, Pike River Coal is carrying out exploration work on the coal seam gas potential at its West Coast mine, and has indicated it could potentially look at establishing small-scale on-site electricity generation. 
Coal Seam Gas refers to methane adsorbed into the solid matrix of the coal. It is often called 'sweet gas' because of its lack of hydrogen sulfide. The presence of CSG is well known because it's a dangerous occurrence in underground coal mining, where it presents a serious safety risk.

Not once in the entire speech did Gerry Brownlee mention safety. The fact that CSG is the most likely combustible material in the explosion, and it is inherently dangerous, doesn't even register. The Minster of Energy and Resources is too busy promoting the mining industry to give a second thought to the dangers surrounding CSG.

At the time the disaster occurred, there was only one inspector for the entire South Island. Deregulation therefore appears to be instrumental in the Pike River mine disaster. Mining requires competent and well equipped inspectors, that should not be subject to meddling bureaucrats. The fact that the 29 minors might not have died if proper safety management was in place, and it was purposefully removed by the Government, makes National culpable for those deaths.

A check inspector is an elected, experienced, qualified and trained miner who can immediately order the withdrawal of workers from a mine or part of the mine believed to be dangerous to life or injurious to health (as determined by the inspector), or order immediate discontinuance of any dangerous practice, or order evacuation of the mine in emergency situations.

National's obsession with cutting "red tape" and budget restrictions has clearly led to the Pike River mining disaster. I would surmise that there will eventually be a resignation concerning National's culpability in the matter. My money's on Kate Wilkinson, although Gerry Brownlee seems equally responsible.

Why is National waiting until the Royal Commission has finished its work? The Government should move immediately to increase mining safety. It would also be beneficial to see a respectful resignation before the issue is forced.

13 Jul 2011

The Price of Cheese in the Wild West

There was some ludicrous debate going on in Parliament today. Amongst the rhetoric were a number of gaff’s and outright lies by National MP's. Most were reasonably inconsequential, but a couple I found rather amusing.

After saying that farmers were wrongly singled out for their tax avoidance, National MP David Carter said, and I quote “sheep thieves and dairy farmers.” Talk about foot in mouth disease.

I know that sheep rustling is a bit of an issue in New Zealand, but I was not aware that farmers themselves were stealing sheep. Perhaps he just meant farmers were thieves in general because they're avoiding paying their fair share of tax. That would seem the likely meaning to Carter's Freudian slip.

Inland Revenue Department figures provided to Labour revenue spokesman Stuart Nash earlier this year, showed that the average tax paid by dairy farms was a miserly $1506 in 2009. This is despite the average Fonterra payout being over NZ$500,000.

Prime Minister John Key went into bat for farmers, saying he thought farmers paid their fair share of tax:
"That was a story which confused revenue with profits and what people actually pay tax on. There’s nothing actually different about a farming business than there is any other business, that you have a lot of revenue, you take off your costs, and the balance you pay tax on. I’ve seen some reports from DairyNZ saying that, on average, they pay about NZ$300 million worth of tax a year. I don’t know the exact numbers myself, but I suspect you wouldn’t want to take one snapshot, and also compare apples with oranges, which is what that media report did," John Key said.
National clearly doesn't comprehend the numbers. In comparison to the average tax paid by dairy farms of $1506, the tax paid by an unemployed beneficiary aged over 25 in the same year was $1229 and the tax paid by a couple on the state pension was $3136 over twice as much as the average farmer paid.

The figures also show that more than half of those dairy farmers reported a loss for the 2009 year and 2635 reported trading income of between $1 and $20,000. This is because farmers are simply writing off income against expense and therefore not paying tax.
It's a tax dodge that allowed Fonterra to earn $1.86 billion before tax on turnover of $61.6 billion from May 2007 to January 2011. The reported after-tax profit was $1.88 billion due to them receiving net tax credits of $28 million, which is equivalent to a tax rate of negative 1.5%. The 17,244 farms registered as being in the sector, including companies, trusts and individuals, paid only $26 million in tax for 2009.

Effectively we're paying farmers to farm, and then paying top dollar for dairy products in the supermarkets as well. They justify their price gouging because of international demand for dairy products. We're also paying the costs of environmental damage from dirty dairying, something Dairy NZ denies is occurring. Let's not forget National forcing DOC to sign over more public land for private farm use as well, all of which essentially makes farmers parasites!

None of it seems to phase National though, who are still refusing to help New Zealand recover from recession by ensuring farmer's pay their fair share of tax. Speaking at a printing business in Lower Hutt that was printing the government's budget, Bill English spoke about the controversy:
"The Dominion Post story was based on a mistake! The mistake is to say that NZ$500,000 is the income of a dairy farm. That’s simply not the case. It’s like this business here. This business might have a turnover of who knows – NZ$10 million – but actually a lot of that goes on employing people who are printing the budget, and that means it’s not taxable. I’d suggest you go and talk to the dairy farmers about whether they’re making money, and to their accountants," Bill English said.
I guess New Zealand really is turning into the Wild West where anything goes. Despicably, the average farmer paying half as much tax as a couple of pensioners is perfectly acceptable to the likes of David Carter and the rest of the National Party flunkies. It's not acceptable to the rest of us though, who are paying for that tax evasion.

National has been vehemently attacking Labour for even considering fixing the disproportionate and unfair tax dodge. In this respect the National Party reminds me of the Mafia... David Carter is somewhat similar to Silvio Dante after all.

Reefer Madness

A few MP's spoke on the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill in Parliament yesterday. While most showed a good grasp on what they were talking about, Peter Dunne dropped a couple of clangers in his uninspiring and droll speech.

Although the bill is in the most part well thought out, it has a number of items that raise concern. The bill proposes to deregulate Thalidomide, which is a terrible drug that has caused more harm than marijuana ever could.

While the council is correct in its argument that Thalidomide has no potential to be misused for psychoactive effect, they're completely wrong that thalidomide can be more effectively controlled under the Medicines Act 1981. The Government fails to understand that thalidomide is not a medicine at all, it's a dangerous poison.

Thalidomide has caused thousands of deformities and deaths, therefore it should be fully restricted as a dangerous substance. Removing any restriction around the importation of Thalidomide is incomprehensibly stupid!

I am also puzzled by the proposition to control the importation and supply of "drug utensils." The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill states:
The provisions for prohibiting the importation and supply of utensils used for the purpose of administering controlled drugs will be expanded to make it an offence to possess utensils for the purpose of sale or supply and prohibit the importation of incomplete utensils that, for example, require only the addition of a metal cone for burning cannabis to become usable. This will allow Police and Customs to more effectively enforce the utensils provisions and minimise the visibility and availability of drug paraphernalia.
A bong can be made out of just about anything. What they hope to achieve by giving the police and customs the power to halt imports of anything that can be used to make a bong if you add a metal cone is questionable. It's clear that such a law could be problematic.

There's no question that such a provision will do nothing to curb peoples drug use. It's an ineffectual and ridiculous proposition showing just how out of touch the Government has become. They need to be undertaking things that are proven to be beneficial, not clasping at straws.

The amendment also imposes limits on over the counter sales of medicines that contain pseudoephedrine. However the Government fails to comprehend that 90% of all precursors used for the manufacture of drugs like P are smuggled into New Zealand from other countries. The vast majority coming from China. Still there is no provision given to try and limit the free trade of illegal substances that cross our borders.

I'm disappointed that the Government has failed to address the main issues surrounding New Zealand's drug use. In my opinion, a lack of rehabilitation centers and proper education are the main areas that need attention. Instead the Government believes that limiting access and increasing penalties will curb drug use. The failure of such a regime is unmistakable. It is similar prehistoric thinking as that seen in the 1930's, and look where that got us.

11 Jul 2011

National Contributes to Africa's Misery

Once again we're witness to the horrendous images of starving people arriving at refugee camps in east Africa, with nearly 12 million people facing starvation across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

3 million of these are in dire need of clean water and food and are typically located in the poorest regions of the three countries. Many have walked for weeks to get to the camps, carrying children and a few possessions. In some cases, older people have been brought in wheelbarrows or in makeshift carts.

In May this year it was announced that Australia will spend an extra $A500 million on foreign aid in the coming financial year. Funding would also be increased for climate change and environment programmes, and an extra NZ$158.8 million would be spent over four years to boost education in the Pacific. Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd says Australia is on track to increase foreign aid spending to 0.5% of gross national income by 2015-16.

This is fantastic news considering that the global population is increasing and further expenditure will be required to avert food shortages and widespread starvation. However that's where the good news ends...

The internationally agreed target for Government spending on aid is 0.7% of gross national income. In contributing just 0.23% to aid last year, New Zealand languished near the bottom of the developed world.

In march 2009, National's Foreign Minister Murray McCully said that New Zealand's foreign aid expenditure budget would not be reduced. I was hopeful that we could trust what he said, but unfortunately National then decided to cut foreign aid spending in the 2011 budget.

The 2011 Budget projects a drop in New Zealand's overseas aid in the 2012/13 year to $570 million compared to $586 million. The National government is pushing out by two years its plan to increase foreign aid, now targeted for 2014, rather than 2012. Shameful!

What is worse is that yesterday, McCully announced that New Zealand will contribute only $1 million to the World Food Programme's response to serious food shortages in the Sahel region of West Africa.
"Severe drought in West Africa has led to crop failures and stock losses which have put more than 10 million people at risk of malnutrition and starvation. The situation is accentuated by high food prices, and the fact that the affected countries are among the poorest in the world. New Zealand's contribution will assist international efforts to provide life-saving emergency food aid in Niger, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania," he said.
McCully does not care, he's just another bean counter. After cutting foreign aid expenditure by $48 million, the best National can do is a miserly $1 million to help the nearly 12 million people facing starvation. That's 0.083 cents for every starving person in this latest crisis.

It's an insult to the impoverished African's and the good people of New Zealand, who often personally donate well above the worldwide average to worthy humanitarian causes. Why is the National Government, that is meant to represent us, totally failing to do so in such a critical sector?

Such a contemptuous and pathetic token of $1 million shows just how heartless National is. McCully is paying lip service to a crises that National's cuts in foreign aid expenditure has contributed to. McCully fails to understand just how pathetic his tokenism is.

According to the New Zealand Aid Program fact sheet:
New Zealand is a modest donor in Southern Africa. The New Zealand Aid Programme focuses on basic health and related aspects of livelihoods including: maternal and child health, nutrition, HIV and AIDS, and the associated livelihoods of vulnerable children, youth and women. As a modest donor, geographically distant from Africa, the New Zealand Aid Programme funds three non-government organisations (NGOs) and a United Nations organisation working in Zambia and Zimbabwe to deliver relevant programmes.
A modest donor in Southern Africa is a complete understatement. What is even worse is that National's funding cuts follow McCully scrapping a previous funding mechanism for New Zealand-based NGOs working in international development back in April 2010.

He replaced them with a three-member panel comprising of National Party MP John Hayes, a National Party lawyer, Peter Kiely and the Chief Operating Officer for Rugby NZ 2011 Limited, Therese Walshe. None has worked in international development programmes but they certainly all appear to be closely associated with the Minister.
“It is ironic that the Minister scrapped a transparent, well-functioning scheme, saying he would put in place a programme with clear objectives and transparent administration. Instead, we now have three people making decisions as to how over $20 million in aid funding a year will be spent, but they have no understanding of how NGOs work with poor communities, or how to best measure this work,” said NZADDs spokesperson Jo Spratt.  
New Zealand lags far behind the OECD member country average of 0.42% of gross national income on foreign aid. The government's pitiful contribution is also out of step with the populace, who are generous when it comes to making donations from their own pockets.

All but six of the world's most developed nations have set timeframes for increasing their overseas development aid levels to the 0.7 per cent target by 2015. New Zealand is one of the few that have not. This lack of foresight will result in more extreme starvation and increased impoverishment.

We should be outraged that National is only spending half as much as the OECD average on foreign aid, and is willing to cut that even further. Clearly the National Government is not listening to the many experts who have advocated for increasing foreign aid expenditure. They are also not listening to the good people of New Zealand.
"The poor did not ask to live in poverty, any more than we are responsible for living in affluence. The fact that we do is a blessing, and with it comes responsibilities," Sir Edmund Hillary wrote in 2002.

10 Jul 2011

Earthquakes on the Increase

There was another large earthquake off the East coast of Honshu, Japan today. It measured magnitude 7. This coincides with a general increase in the number of all magnitude earthquakes over recent years.

The trend is in part due to the increase in seismographs, which have helped seismological centres to locate many small earthquakes which were undetected in earlier decades.

Therefore, an upward trend is not unexpected in the graph. The rise in the number of large earthquakes is more significant to the assessment of the trend of increasing tectonic activity.
Source Data: Report produced by R Webb Ó 2008

DATES FROM - TO      PERIOD            NO. EARTHQUAKES (Mag +6.99) 
1863 to 1900 incl            38 yrs               12
1901 to 1938 incl            38 yrs               53
1939 to 1976 incl            38 yrs               71
1977 to 2011 incl            34 yrs              164

By limiting the range of earthquakes being counted to magnitude 7 or above, it means these earthquakes can easily be identified by a limited number of seismographs, ensuring that any increase in frequency for larger earthquakes cannot be down to the increase in overall detection rates, as all these larger earthquakes are able to be easily detected with fewer seismograph stations.

  1. The number and energy intensity of earthquakes in any given period are based upon records from USGS and other sources, including those recorded at
  2. Earthquake details used here may also be available at
  3. Graph plot for "all magnitude" earthquakes reproduced from DL Research paper

The week that was 3 - 10 July

On Tuesday the United Nations announced in its annual survey of economic and social trends, that World food production will have to increase by up to 100% by the year 2050.

It also advocated for a focus on greener sustainable production methods to meet the requirements of an expected 9 billion people.

The UN’s annual World Economic and Social Survey (PDF) called for governments to invest nearly $2 trillion per year to help small-scale farming and to reduce environmental harm.
"A fundamental technological overhaul will be required. Technologies will need to undergo drastic changes so as to become more efficient in the use of energy and other resources and minimize the generation of harmful pollutants.

At present, 90 percent of energy is generated through brown technologies that utilize fossil fuels, with this type of production being responsible for about 60 per cent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emis- sions.

According to the more cautious scenario, for CO2 equivalent concentrations to be stabilized at 450 parts per million (consistent with the target of stabilizing global warming at a 2o C temperature increase from pre-industrial levels), the use of fossil fuels would need to drop by 80 per cent by mid-century," the report said.
The United Nations also said that 925 million people are currently undernourished throughout the world. Two-thirds are concentrated in seven countries: Bangladesh, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia and Pakistan.

The NZ Medical Association is calling for a reduction in social inequity, largely inspired by a worldwide review undertaken by the England based Whitehall Studies group.

The Principal Investigator Michael Marmott has headed the research group looking into worldwide health inequalities for the past 30 years. They are investigating explanations for the striking inverse social gradient in morbidity and mortality.

New Zealand has a higher than normal rate of hospitalisations for children with diseases of poverty such as skin infections and lung diseases. Rheumatic fever, a severe throat infection which damages the heart, is 23 times more likely for Maori, and 49 times more likely for Pacific people, than for Europeans.
"I was struck by the high number of people who were affected by a whole range of diseases including the more predictable obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, but also asthma, thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, developmental delay, skin infections, drug addictions and congenital disease," Dr Don Simmers, who heads the association's health equity subcommittee said.
The Medical Association advocates a wide-ranging package to tackle inequality including banning cigarette sales, exempting healthy food from GST, and fixing welfare levels and the minimum wage in line with a "minimum income for healthy living".

NZ Art Guild Project 2010
The New Zealand Art Guild has collaborated 56 artworks into one giant piece for charity to be unveiled at the Mairangi Art Centre in Auckland on July 26.

The major work entitled Light of My Life, will raise funds for KidsCan, a national charitable trust supporting disadvantaged Kiwi kids.

The artwork will be auctioned on Trademe from July 27 with 100% of the proceeds donated to KidsCan.

The New Zealand Art Guild undertook a similar fundraising event last year by selling a painting of 90 separate panels, which was a collaboration of 88 individual New Zealand artists from throughout the country. The artwork was entitled Reach Out, and raised a total of $2000 for the Mental Health Foundation of NZ.

All 56 individual artworks that make up Light of My Life, will be combined to create a piece measuring 1.3 by 1.15 metres. The exact image of the collaborative artwork will be kept secret, even from those participating in it, until unveiling night. 100 limited edition prints of the artwork will also be available with a percentage of the proceeds going to KidsCan.

"We appreciate the support and generosity we have received from our guild members over the past six years with these annual collaborative charity fundraisers. KidsCan rely heavily on donations to do their amazing work and our members are thrilled to get behind such a worthwhile charity," New Zealand Art Guild executive director Sophia Elise said.

Following Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to allow the process of hydraulic fracturing across 85 percent of New York’s Marcellus Shale, a coalition of 47 consumer, faith, food, environmental and multi-issue advocacy organizations called for a statewide ban on fracking on Thursday.

Last week, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released its recommendations on fracking, allowing the practice in most areas of the state outside of the New York City and Syracuse watersheds. The DEC’s plan, which informed Governor Cuomo’s decision, leaves many New Yorkers without equal protection from the environmental and public health risks associated with fracking, and still exposes New York City and Syracuse residents to many impacts of shale gas drilling, including toxic air emissions.

A recent investigative series by The New York Times found that the natural gas industry has exaggerated the economic benefits of fracking, while downplaying its risks to public health and the environment.
“It’s wrong and unfair for the Cuomo administration to lift the ban on fracking, as it is a technology that has proven to destroy land, water, public health and economic growth. It is especially despicable to provide an exception for the Syracuse and New York City watersheds, while opening up the rest of the state to hazardous drilling. If it’s too dangerous for these urban areas, then it is too dangerous for all of New York. People across the state deserve equal protection. Governor Cuomo, don’t frack New York!” said Lois Marie Gibbs, executive director of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice.
The coalition opposing fracking includes several national and state organizations including Food & Water Watch, Frack Action, Democracy for America, Friends of the Earth, Credo Action, Center for Heath Environment and Justice, Catskill Mountainkeeper and Citizen Action New York.

To date, more than 60 municipalities in the United States have passed measures against fracking.

The Human Rights Watch reported yesterday that Yemeni forces may have recently killed dozens more civilians in unlawful attacks while fighting an Islamist armed group in southern Abyan province. The conflict has continued since May 2011.

The army's 25th Mechanized Brigade has been launching artillery and other strikes on Zinjibar and surrounding areas from its base on the outskirts of Zinjibar, assisted by the air force and navy.
"As Yemeni government forces battle armed militants in Abyan, civilians are paying the price. Both sides need to be doing much more to protect civilians from harm, and the government should be investigating possible laws-of-war violations by its forces in Abyan," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
The Yemeni army and other state security forces have clashed with the Ansar al-Sharia forces for more than three months in Abyan. The militants, who authorities claim are linked to al-Qaeda, overran the town of Jaar on March 27 and seized Abyan's nearby provincial capital city, Zinjibar, on May 29.

Since February, pro-democracy protesters have frequently protested across the country, calling to end President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year rule.

Yesterday, Cities across Egypt saw the largest demonstrations since the revolutionary struggles that forced the resignation of US-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak on February 11.

Protests, including indefinite sit-ins in public squares like those that forced Mubarak from power, showed the rising opposition to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) military junta that replaced Mubarak.

Among those joining the protests were striking workers from several critical industrial facilities in Egypt, including the Suez Canal and the Mahalla textile plants.

A key cause of public anger is the SCAF’s defense of Mubarak regime officials, and police who imprisoned or killed protesters. In contrast, the SCAF has passed a law banning strikes and protests that hurt the economy, trying and convicting an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 civilians in military tribunals.