US politics cartoons of the week – 22 December 2014

December 22nd, 2014 at 3:27 pm by Lindsay Addie

Most of the US cartoons this past week have been about either the normalizing of relations with Cuba or the Sony/North Korea spat. So I chose the possible Hillary Clinton vs Jeb Bush contest in 2016. Both cartoons speak for themselves without any explanation.

The first is by Steve Sack of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

sack_clinton_bush

© Steve Sack: found at PoliticalCartoons.com

The second cartoon is by Steve Granlund

granlund_bush

© Steve Granlund: found at PoliticalCartoons.com

I’m far from convinced either Hillary or Jeb would make a good POTUS. Two peas from the same pod.

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How to close the gender pay gap!

December 22nd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Lesbians earn significantly more than their heterosexual colleagues while gay men earn less, according to a World Bank study exposing unexpected links between sexuality and salary.

In Britain, lesbians are paid an average of eight per cent more than straight women, with the trend even more extreme in other western countries. In the US, the difference is 20 per cent.

And off memory the pay gap is around 10% in NZ, so if many more women become lesbians, the gender pay gap will be eliminated, and everyone will be happy.

Incidentally the gender pay gap in NZ was 13% in 2008 and down to 9.9% in 2014.

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Thunderbirds are go

December 22nd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Thunderbirds are go, again, with CITV commissioning another 26 episodes of the remake of the 1960s kitsch classic.

Wellington’s Weta Workshop and Pukeko Pictures, along with one of Britain’s biggest production companies, ITV Studios, will again work together on the show.

The announcement of the second season of the new-generation Thunderbirds series came before the first season even premiered on network television.

My favourite Thunderbird is Thunderbird 6, followed by Thunderbird 2.

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Monday Motivator

December 22nd, 2014 at 11:45 am by Richard Hume

Monday Motivator 35

This photo was taken while sitting on Totaranui Beach in the Abel Tasman National Park – several years ago around this time of year. The dusk light was superb and it made for a very nice scene to capture. (no link to bigger version sorry)

This is just a quick note to say Happy Christmas and holidays to the Kiwibloggers.

I have been incredibly busy on a number of projects which explains my absence from posting here for a little while. Getting through some of it now and looking forward to January with a new website and some other exciting things to roll out.

Have a great summer.

Cheers

YouTube: Timeless – A Panoramic Journey

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male-only scholarships illegal?

December 22nd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The number of male teachers in New Zealand schools continues to decline despite the Ministry of Education’s attempts to fix the gender imbalance.

In the past 10 years the number of male teachers in both primary and secondary schools has dropped. Last year men made up only 16.5 per cent of primary school teachers and 41.2 per cent at high schools. …

Rotorua principal and former Secondary Principals’ Association president Patrick Walsh recalled the drive for scholarships but said a decision by the Human Rights Commission halted the initiative.

He said despite male teachers being in a minority, scholarships were only available for women, disabled people and those from varying ethnic backgrounds.

The commission had said it would be unlawful to offer male-only scholarships.

Really?

A female-only scholarship is legal, but not a male-only one – despite the lack of men in teaching? That’s daft.

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The DCC fraud

December 22nd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The ODT editorial:

Deloitte’s report into fraud at the Dunedin City Council has proved as damning as suspected.

Not only did it involve the pocketing of money from the sale of 152 vehicles, but it appears former team leader Brent Bachop was at the ”centre of” other potential issues.

The debacle is an indictment on the council and a serious warning to others. …

What makes it worse is the way several ”red flags” were ignored or investigated insufficiently.

These included Mr Bachop’s excessive lifestyle as well as questions over the years, including from Cr Lee Vandervis.

A Councillor actually raised issues around Bachop, and the Council fobbed him off. They just got Bachop to respond to the allegations, and didn’t investigate them. Shameful.

Were they too slack, too trusting, too complacent?

All of the above?

A classic instance concerns the finding Mr Bachop spent $102,908 on a council card – which was also used for vehicle serving and maintenance – on miscellaneous items, including soft drinks, chips, milk, chocolate biscuits, bread and fuel for personal vehicles.

Mr Bachop’s manager regularly signed off those expenses. Giving the benefit of the doubt, it would appear the manager simply did not check the details.

$100,000 on your work credit card, and no one said anything? Hey, it is just ratepayers money!

I sign off expense claims for others and often ask questions about what an item was for, especially if non trivial.

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General Debate 22 December 2014

December 22nd, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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A reader writes in

December 22nd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

A reader writes in:

I flew up to Auckland today on an Air NZ flight at 5pm. I was in the back row, seat 23C. To my surprise and yes, delight, Steven Joyce and a private secretary had the two seats next to me in that back row.

Steven Joyce would not know me from a bar of soap but he engaged in pleasant chit-chat as we taxied for take-off and I assume he did not know I knew who he was. What really impressed me was that a Minister of the Crown was in the very back seat of such a flight and clearly was happy to be there. I have never in all my years of flying in NZ encountered a cabinet minister in the back row (they are almost always in the first or second rows).

I’ve also had readers e-mail me about how they sometimes see the PM at the Koru Club, and he always queues up to get his own coffee, rather than have a staffer get it for him.

Of course with the new Koru coffee app, no more queuing for it!

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So whose mistake was this?

December 21st, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A review is under way into how $85,000 was mistakenly siphoned from a Palmerston North school’s bank account by the Ministry of Education, forcing it into a $34,000 overdraft.

And was the Ministry at fault?

The ministry says a staff member was paid out of a “Teachers’ Salaries” account throughout the year but Ross changed the funding code so the staff member could be paid out of a “Bulk Grant” account, which was the school’s money.

“Schools sometimes do this as a way of managing their staffing allocation,” Education Payroll services deputy secretary Cathy Magiannis said.

“But when the school did this it made a mistake while entering an instruction into Novopay Online, which resulted in a reversal of the funding code for the whole year.”

So it was user error?

That’s like blaming the bank for going into overdraft, when you asked them to transfer too much money from your account.

Minister responsible for Novopay Steven Joyce released a report this week showing payroll processing was going well, with few complaints.

The December 10 pay run saw 92,962 people paid $227.95 million, with complaints and notifications received by 0.08 per cent of staff compared with 0.19 per cent at the same time last year.

0.08% is remarkably low.

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Australian Quotes of 2014

December 21st, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Tim Blair presents some of his favourite quotes from 2014:

  • “This country is going to cook and people are going to die.” – Greens senator Scott Ludlam.
  • “The next time a woman dies at the hands of a violent partner and we read with trembling hearts that she could not get any legal help to stop that partner, we will be able to sheet the cause of death to Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey.” – Fairfax’s Jenna Price.
  • “China’s shift towards capitalism creates inequality and anger.” – The ABC’s unique analysis of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
  • “Thats my boy!” – Australian jihadist Khaled Sharrouf rejoices over a photograph of his young son holding the head of a dead Syrian soldier.
  • “Our best defence is of course our cultured reason. Our tolerance. Our audacious confidence in the fundamental goodness of others.” – The ABC’s Jonathan Green solves terrorism.
  • “In NZ we are very worried about a potential influx of Australians, you know, escaping heat waves and lack of water and infectious diseases.” – University of Otago climate scientist Simon Hales.
  • “It demonises people.” – Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson would prefer that we do not refer to terrorists as terrorists.
  • “Do you want death or do you want coal?” – Greens leader Christine Milne.

It’s a pity we don’t record the stupidest quotes here. Here’s a good one from the UK:

Prof Lorraine Gamman, director of the University of the Arts London’s Design Against Crime Research Centre, said cracking down on graffiti stifled creativity and denied young people an important form of expression.

Barf.

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Hobbit films longer than the books

December 21st, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Walt Hickey at Five Thirty Eight looks at lengths of movies compared to length of books they are based on.

The only movies which are longer than a minute per page (which you could say is average reading speed) are the three Hobbit films with the third one being 144 minutes of film for 72 pages of a book!

The closest to the Hobbit films is the Great Gatsby which is 143 minutes for 180 pages 0.79 minutes per page.

 

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ISIL publishes rules for women

December 21st, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

You can’t make this up. ISIL have published a pamphlet which is an FAQ on the rules for women. They are:

  • You can take non-Muslim women and children captive
  • You can have sex with prepubescent girls
  • You can sell them as gifts to others
  • If she was a virgin, he (the owner) can have intercourse with her immediately after the ownership is fulfilled
  • If she was not a virgin, her uterus must be purified
  • Two men who co-own a captive can’t both have sex with her
  • A man can’t have intercourse with his wife’s slave
  • It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse
  • It is permissible to buy, sell or give as a gift female captives and slaves, for they are merely property
  • An impregnated captive cannot be sold
  • Beating a female slave for discipline is OK

Horrendous.

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Assault complaint against an MP

December 21st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Police have been investigating an assault complaint against government MP Mike Sabin.

There are no details as to what the complaint or complaints allege, and whether or not they are recent. Hard to comment without knowing more. Sabin is a former police officer.

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General Debate 21 December 2014

December 21st, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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An independent inquiry into the Peter Ellis case?

December 21st, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Dunedin author Lynley Hood and former National leader Don Brash have written to the new Justice Minister Amy Adams asking for an independent inquiry into the Peter Ellis case.

Ellis was convicted on 13 charges of abusing children in his care at the Christchurch Civic Creche.

His supporters have always argued he was convicted on unreliable evidence from children interviewed in a leading way by specialist interviewers.

“We ask you to commission an overseas judge to review the entire case. We believe this is the only realistic option left,” Hood and Brash say in the letter.

The letter says:

- Though more than 20 years have passed since the controversial conviction of Peter Ellis, disquiet over the Civic Creche case remains widespread and ongoing and extends to some of the most senior judges in the country.

- In the history of New Zealand criminal justice, no petition to Parliament has been supported by such a weight of political, legal and scholarly authority as the 2003 petition calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry.

I believe the Ellis convictions are very unsafe, and fully support an inquiry into the entire case.

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Dom Post opposes alcohol sponsorship ban

December 20th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Public health researchers use tobacco as a model for alcohol reform. But the comparison is not fair. Alcohol in small amounts is healthy. For most people, it is not especially addictive. There is no similar risk that a few drinks at a young age mean a lifetime chained to the habit.

That is the key difference.

An advertising ban is a heavy-handed move that would cut off a major funding stream for sports teams and suppress diversity in a market that has shown plenty of it recently. (Consider the craft beer explosion, not exactly associated with problem drinking.)

You ban advertising and sponsorship, and you effectively ban new products.

To the extent that regulations can help, they should be carefully targeted at drunkenness and young people. Banning obscene boozing competitions, as the Government did in 2012, justified itself. Curtailing bar hours, as the police are pushing for in Wellington, also has merit. Scrubbing sponsors’ logos from games mostly watched by adults seems like overdoing it.

May the Government drown the report in a vat of craft beer.

The Press and Herald editorials are also sceptical or hostile to the recommendations.

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Fewer NZers leaving than in recent history

December 20th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

migrationnov14

The latest monthly migrations stats were out yesterday and they show fewer NZers leaving than any other time in the last 20 years, and also a high for Kiwis returning.

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A nation cries again

December 20th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The deaths of eight children – the youngest just 18 months old, the oldest 15 – in their Cairns home yesterday have shocked the Australian nation still reeling from the deadly Sydney siege.

The 34-year-old mother of at least seven of the children was in a stable condition in hospital last night with multiple stab wounds.

Police said they had no formal suspects. They would be interviewing anyone who might have had contact with the family recently. “Everybody who’s had any involvement at all in the past two or three days is a person of interest,” said the Cairns regional crime co-ordinator, Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar.

The injured woman’s cousin, Lisa Thaiday, said another sibling, a 20-year-old man, arrived home to find his brothers and sisters dead in the Murray St house in the Housing Commission suburb of Manoora.

He was now being comforted by other family members.

At times, it seems there is no limit to the depravity of man. So very very sad.

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The Sony Pictures board of directors

December 20th, 2014 at 9:26 am by Lindsay Addie

This cartoon by Gary Varvel in my opinion perfectly sums up the Sony Pictures Entertainment board of directors.

gary_varvel_gary_varvel_for_12192014_5_

© Gary Varvel – found at Real Clear Politics

UPDATE:
Barack Obama today spoke about the decision by Sony Pictures.

“We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States. Because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary that they don’t like or news reports that they don’t like,” he said.

The President is a 100% correct.

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It was cyber-war

December 20th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The FBI has confirmed North Korea was behind the cyber attacks on Sony Pictures.

“As a result of our investigation, and in close collaboration with other US Government departments and agencies, the FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions,” a FBI statement said.

“While the need to protect sensitive sources and methods precludes us from sharing all of this information, our conclusion is based, in part, on similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks.”

“We are deeply concerned about the destructive nature of this attack on a private sector entity and the ordinary citizens who worked there,” the FBI said in the brief statement.

“Further, North Korea’s attack on SPE (Sony Pictures Entertainment) reaffirms that cyber threats pose one of the gravest national security dangers to the United States.”

The FBI said that it had “determined that the intrusion into SPE’s network consisted of the deployment of destructive malware and the theft of proprietary information as well as employees’ personally identifiable information and confidential communications.”

“The attacks also rendered thousands of SPE’s computers inoperable, forced SPE to take its entire computer network offline, and significantly disrupted the company’s business operations.”

While it has seen a rising number of cyber breaches, “the destructive nature of this attack, coupled with its coercive nature, sets it apart,” the FBI said.

It’s at times like this I recall the official policy of the Green Party is to abolish the GCSB, whose role is to protect the New Zealand Government against cyber-attacks.

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General Debate 20 December 2014

December 20th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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The Rena report

December 20th, 2014 at 7:47 am by David Farrar

The TAIC report into the Rena is here. A key section:

The Rena’s second mate took over the watch shortly after midnight on 4 October. He calculated that the Rena would arrive at the port of Tauranga pilot station at 0300 at the ship’s then current speed. Times for ships entering and leaving Tauranga Harbour are limited by the depth of water and the strength of the tidal currents in the entrance channel. Tauranga Harbour Control informed the second mate that the latest time the Rena could take the harbour pilot on board was 0300.

The planned course to the Tauranga pilot station was to pass two nautical miles north of Astrolabe Reef before making the final adjustment in course to the pilot station. The second mate decided to reduce the two miles to one mile in order to save time. The second mate then made a series of small course adjustments towards Astrolabe Reef to make the shortcut. In doing so he altered the course 5 degrees past the required track and did not make an
allowance for any compass error or sideways “drift”, and as a consequence the Rena was making a ground track directly for Astrolabe Reef. Meanwhile the master had been woken and arrived on the bridge to prepare for arrival at the port.

The master and second mate discussed preparations for arrival at the pilot station. The master then assumed control of the ship, having received virtually no information on where the ship was, where it was heading, and what immediate dangers to navigation he needed to consider.

During this period of handover no-one was monitoring the position of the ship. At 0214 the Rena ran aground at full speed on Astrolabe Reef.

Bold is mine. Basically just incompetence.

Around 1,300 birds were known to die from the oil spill which followed the crash.  Some say only one in ten are found so it could be as high as 13,000.

To put it in comparison:

 

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Land transport funding

December 19th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Government has released its 2015 government policy statement on land transport. It covers the $3.4b annual spend on land transport.

The total budgeted (using mid points of bands) for the next three years for different activities is:

  1. State highway improvements $3,750 million
  2. State highway maintenance $1,581 million
  3. Local road maintenance $1,485 million
  4. Public transport $1,040 million
  5. Road policing $915 million
  6. Local road improvements $594 million
  7. Regional improvements $225 million
  8. Investment management $171 million
  9. Road safety promotion $103 million
  10. Walking/Cycling improvements $75 million

Looks pretty well balanced. I wouldn’t mind seeing less on road policing and more on road maintenance and improvements!

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The Westminster allegations

December 19th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Scotland Yard is investigating the alleged murders of three young boys by a VIP paedophile ring after a “credible” witness came forward to detail his abuse at the hands of Conservative politician, police said today.

The man – known only as Nick -has claimed that a Conservative MP murdered a boy during a sex attack, and a second boy was killed by a ring of abusers active in the late 1970s and 80s.

He claims that a third boy was deliberately run down in a car, which he said was a direct warning to him to keep quiet, according to an account given to investigative journalism website Exaro.

Police yesterday appealed for more witnesses to come forward. Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald, the lead officer for the operation, said that Nick had been spoken to by murder detectives and specialist child abuse investigators.

“They and I believe what Nick is saying to be credible and true hence why we are investigating the allegations he has made to us.

“I appeal to men who were subjected to abuse 30 years ago to come forward. We are also investigating the murder of three young boys – we are determined to find answers.”

Nick – whose real name has not been disclosed – has claimed that he was abused from the age of seven to 16 by groups of men, including at parties and at places across London and the Home Counties including military bases.

It sounds too horrific to be true, but you can never be certain. There’s a long history to these allegations, with files having been destroyed etc.

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E-cigarettes more effective than nicotine patches

December 19th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Electronic cigarettes are more effective at helping smokers to quit tobacco when they contain nicotine, a review of studies has found.

The review by the international Cochrane Collaboration includes two trials in which smokers were randomised to groups using different kinds of electronic cigarettes or quit-smoking therapy. One of these trials was based at Auckland University, the other in Italy.

An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device which, when the user takes a drag, produces a vapour. They can be run with or without nicotine.

Dr Chris Bullen, an author of the Cochrane review and a researcher on the Auckland University trial, which followed participants for six months, said the trial found 7.3 per cent of those using e-cigarettes containing nicotine had quit tobacco. The quit rate was 5.8 per cent in the nicotine patches group and 4.1 per cent among those using non-nicotine e-cigarettes.

If your aim is to reduce smoking rates, then you should support e-cigarettes.

Also of interest:

New Zealand researchers have shown that a low-cost, Soviet-era quit-smoking pill is more effective than nicotine-replacement therapy.

Forty per cent of smokers who took the cytisine pills had been “continuously abstinent” in the month after their nominated quit day, significantly more than the 31 per cent on NRT.

Sounds very promising. Helping those who want to quit, to quit, is a good thing.

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