Ashes in Christchurch

March 30th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press reports:

A cultural clash over scattering of human ashes has left Christchurch City Council split and a new bylaw in limbo.

Despite months of deliberations, councillors still cannot agree whether the Draft 2014 Parks and Reserves Bylaw should include a provision allowing human ashes to be interred or scattered in parks and reserves.

Local Maori are against the practice for cultural reasons, but a council hearings panel decided it was unwilling to impose any blanket restrictions on the scattering of human ashes without first doing wider public consultation.

The panel brought a report to Thursday’s council meeting that recommended the council pass the bylaw with the omission of the clauses relating to the scattering of ashes.

That would mean the status quo would continue to apply and people would be able to scatter or bury ashes in any public place, apart from the Botanic Gardens, until the council had time to consider the matter further.

Good. So long as it is done in a way that doesn’t interfere with other users of parks (ie don’t sprinkle ashes in the middle of someone’s picnic), people should be at liberty to let cremated loved ones be scattered in a park.

Mahaanui Kurataiao (MKT), the company that acts on behalf of six runanga within Christchurch, had formally submitted the council should ban the scattering of ashes in parks and reserves.

In subsequent talks with the council, it acknowledged it was not practicable but said, as a minimum, the practice should be restricted to identified locations within council-controlled parks and reserves and people encouraged to bury ashes rather than scatter them to the wind.

If members of the six runanga don’t wish to scatter ashes, then they shouldn’t. But their religious beliefs should not be imposed on others.

Andrew Turner and the other People’s Choice councillors said they were unprepared to allow the status quo to continue when MKT had raised such significant cultural concerns about human ashes being scattered in parks.

“I’m not happy for this bylaw to be approved with this significant matter still unresolved,” Turner said.

“To approve the bylaw and then signal we are looking to change it quite soon … is quite absurd.”

As the hearings panel had already been instructed once to go back and reconsider the bylaw as it related to the scattering of ashes, there was no point asking it to revisit the matter again, Turner said.

The best option was to refer it to the full council for a decision.

The Council should follow the advice of the panel, and not impose the religious beliefs of some residents on all residents. The harm it causes to those who can’t farewell their loved ones in they way they wish is much greater than any perceived harm by those who disagree with the practice.

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van Beynen on Islamic extremism

March 30th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A very good column by Martin van Beynen:

While there can be no disputing that only a minority of Muslims believe in taking their beliefs to extremes, an intrinsic part of Islamic teaching justifies the death of opponents, non-believers or believers in other religions.

And a large minority of Muslims support the death penalty for apostates. I estimate around 32%.

An ancient text can be used to justify a variety of lethal behaviour as the history of Christianity has shown but, as some commentators have pointed out, you don’t get the feeling the Islamic world is moving away from fundamentalist interpretations of the Koran.

There are almost no people in Christianity demanding that there be an empire run on old testament law.

There are a fair amount in Islam wanting an empire run on a fundamentalist 7th century version of Islamic law.

As British columnist Rod Liddle pointed out recently in the Sunday Times, it is only in Islamic countries that people risk being put to death for blasphemy or apostasy (renouncing Islam).

“It is not just Muslim extremists who want to punish people for apostasy and blasphemy; it is the view of the mainstream Islamic world,” he writes.

And this is the challenge – not just the jihadists, but the laws in many Islamic countries.

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Words to avoid by Radio NZ

March 30th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

An interesting feature on the Radio NZ website:

There are a couple of words people often use, not fully appreciating how they might be interpreted. Our staff are advised to avoid them altogether.

Fulsome

This word is frequently used by those who think it means full, or absolute, not realising that it can actually mean insincere or exaggerated. So a fulsome apology can be interpreted as a totally insincere one!

The same sort of thing applies to enormity

Our advice to staff is also to avoid enormity. It is often said by those who use it to mean big, and do not appreciate that it can actually mean evil or wicked.

If you mean the large size of something, we would suggest saying largeness, enormousness, or hugeness, rather than enormity when you may risk being misinterpreted.

The following groups of words are easily and often confused. While they may sound similar, they have different meanings:

Floundering and foundering

To flounder is to struggle or have difficulty; to founder is to sink or fail.

Alternate and alternative

Alternate and alternative are also often confused. Alternate means happening or following in turns, as in alternate days; alternative means available in place of something else.

Appraise and apprise:

When you estimate the value of something, you appraise it; when you inform people of something, you apprise them of it.

Reticent and reluctant

We regard reticent as meaning unwilling to speak, or being silent. Staff are advised not to use reticent when reluctant, meaning disinclined to do something, is more appropriate.

Restaurateur

Staff are instructed that a person who owns or runs a restaurant is a restaurateur. There is no “n” in the word and it is pronounced rest-(uh)-ruh-TER [IPA: ˌrestərəˈtɜː]

The years

For the years gone by, for example, 2008, 2009, it is our policy to say two-thousand-and-eight, two-thousand-and-nine etc… From 2010 and beyond, we say twenty-ten, twenty-eleven, twenty-fifteen, twenty-twenty etc.

I was unaware of the double meaning of fulsome. Very interesting.

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Barrie Saunders

March 30th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Trans-tasman reported:

.Wellington’s great and good (plus some others) gathered in the Wellington Club on Tuesday to say farewell to Barrie Saunders, an icon in the capital’s industry, whose extraordinary career extending over more than 45 years included stints as editor of the NBR, adviser to onetime Labour leader Bill Rowling, PR for the NZ Manufacturers Federation, North American director for the NZ Meat Board, and then for the last 20 years one of the senior partners in the Saunders Unsworth firm. Bill English paid tribute to Saunders’ skills, with the caveat he hoped never to hear again a Saunders trademark lecture on “dredging.” Saunders in recent years has been lobbying Govts on behalf of NZ port companies.

I was one of those (clearly an other) in attendance. Some excellent speeches from Barrie, his business partner Mark and Bill English. I especially enjoyed how their business has thrives for 21 years ro so and they’ve never had a vision statement, a mission (except to make money), a business plan and they have even managed to go up to five years at a trot without a board meeting!

The influence of Barrie Saunders on public policy has been profound – from his long ago days in Parliament, to his editorship of NBR, and through Saunders Unsworth.

Barrie is one of the politest, most considered people you can meet. He doesn’t mind disagreement – in fact he enjoys a good debate on policy. His success is not being a cunning flashy lobbyist. It is the strength of his arguments and knowledge of the facts.

I’ve enjoyed many a discussion with Barrie over the years on policy and politics. But I can also reveal another good side to him – as a travel advisor. Barrie has travelled to many of the places I have, such as the Galapagos – so was a great source of advice on what to see there. When I did my big US road trip a couple of years ago, he could recall his days travelling Route 66, and again a great source of advice.

Wellington public policy’s loss, will be golf’s gain.

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What a surprise – Winston decides to get another MP

March 30th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The media are like Charlie Brown, when it comes to Winston Peters. No matter how many times Lucy grabs the ball away, they always give him the benefit of the doubt.

The Herald yesterday reported:

NZ First leader Winston Peters says NZ First may decide not to bring an extra MP into Parliament after his Northland byelection win because his party supports a smaller Parliament.

Mr Peters’ 4,000 vote win last night allows him to resign his list position, opening the way for someone else on NZ First’s list to enter Parliament.

Mr Peters said the party would “seriously consider” not taking on the extra MP.

“It may be we decide that we are for a much smaller Parliament, that we won’t take this option and that we will try and demonstrate that Parliament should be, as the Robertson petition said, no more than 100 people.”

Note the use of quote marks, which means a direct quote.

Then this morning in Stuff:

Northland’s new MP Winston Peters has confirmed he will resign from the NZ First list meaning his party will now gain an extra MP.

The change in the makeup of Parliament will make it harder for the Government to govern.

The NZ First leader, who convincingly wrested the northern stronghold from National by more than 4000 votes, told Radio NZ’s Morning Report that there was never a question that he would resign as a list MP.

“Of course I’ll resign, I don’t know why it was ever a material question,” he said.

I never had any doubt he would resign. And it is a useful reminder that you basically can’t believe anything he says.

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A good investment

March 30th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Taxpayers are about to pump an extra $5 million a year into educating criminals.

Prisoner learning places will increase from about 900 last year to 1700 in 2015, and funding will rise to $7m a year for the next two years, up from $2m in 2013 and 2014.

So is this worth the investment?

Convicted killer John Barlow, who mentored several prisoners to study while he was in jail, is a passionate advocate for the importance of education for inmates, believing prisons need dedicated study units.

“Evidence over the last 50 years in the United States shows that people who attain degrees while in prison almost never return to prison,” he told The Dominion Post earlier this month. “That means no more victims, they can get a job and pay tax, and the state does not have to pay $100,000 a year to keep them in prison.”

If Mr Barlow is correct, then it seems a very good investment.

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Household Wealth

March 30th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

wealth

Data is from the Reserve Bank. Household wealth now exceeds $1 trillion for the first time. As you can see the level of household wealth decline in 2007 and 2008. It took until around 2011 to recover, but since 2011 has been growing strongly.

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General Debate 30 March 2015

March 30th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Year 10 smoking survey by ASH

March 30th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

ASH do an annual survey of smoking behaviour with Year 10 students. And the good news is the latest results continue a trend of fewer Year 10 students smoking than previously. In fact the change over the last 14 years (since it started) has been massive, and also very significant for the last six years.

Changes since 2008

  • Daily smoking rate down from 6.8% to 2.8%
  • Regular smoking rate down from 11.9% to 6.1%
  • Never smoked rate up from 60.7% to 76.9%
  • Female never smoked rate up from 58.3% to 76.0%
  • Maori daily smoking rate down from 17.2% to 7.2%
  • Maori never smoked rate up from 34.6% to 56.7%
  • Maori female daily smoking rate down from 21.5% to 8.8%
  • Maori female never smoked rate up from 27.4% to 51.1%

There’s still a long way to go. No kids should be smoking. We still have 49% of Maori Year 10 girls who have smoked at least once. But things have improved dramatically. If we go back to 2000 only 12% of Maori girls had never smoked. Now it is 51%. And again in 2000 only 35% of non Maori girls had never smoked, and today it is 82%.

These are changes worth celebrating. They save lives. It’s one things for adults to decide to smoke, but another for 14 year olds to be doing so. If you stop them starting, that is the best solution.

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2015 Cricket World Cup Final

March 29th, 2015 at 4:20 pm by David Farrar

There will be no further posts today as I’ll be watching the cricket (sadly on TV, not in Melbourne).

Feel free to comment below as the game gets going.

NZ won the toss and in a bold move have decided to bat first.

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Coalition re-elected in NSW

March 29th, 2015 at 4:16 pm by David Farrar

As expected, an easy win for the Coalition in NSW. Labor picked up some seats after their defeat last time, but didn’t really come close. The Greens are starting to gain traction, winning several seats.

It looks like Coalition 53, Labor 32, Greens 4 and two Independents So they can pass things 53-38 which is comfortable.

 

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12 reasons National lost Northland

March 29th, 2015 at 8:58 am by David Farrar

There is no one reason why National lost Northland. I’ve identified a dozen contributing factors. However they are not of equal significance. Some were very powerful, and others had some impact around the margins. They are:

  1. Winston. I doubt any other candidate could have taken the seat off National. It’s a vote for him as much as a vote against National.
  2. By-election. By-elections often go against the incumbent Government, as this Stuff article shows, and third parties often do well. In fact 49 years ago Social Credit won the seat, then called Hobson.
  3. Mike Sabin. The circumstances of his resignation were a factor. But even before that, there was growing discontent in some circles over his performance – especially when compared to the ultra-enthusiastic John Carter, his predecessor.
  4. The bridge upgrade promise. This backfired massively (ONCB poll said overall made people less likely to vote National) as it looked like a response to Peters. Peters got credited with the bridges, and National lost some credibility. If there was a case for doing the bridge upgrades they should have been announced before Peters was a candidate, and it should have been a Government announcement. Trying to credit the decision to the lobbying of the local candidate (who could not name them all) was insulting the intelligence of the public.
  5. The candidate. Mark Osbourne, if he had won, would be a very good MP for Northland. But National made the mistake of selecting the person they thought would be the best MP, not the person who could best beat Winston Peters.
  6. National’s campaign. The campaign appeared to be run from Wellington or Auckland, not Northland. This was, in my opinion, a mistake. National HQ is very very good at running national campaigns, but less so at electorate level campaigns. In a by-election of course the party HQ will be far more involved, but that doesn’t mean running the entire thing. I heard a lot of complaints that locals felt disengaged and being treated like staff, not volunteers. There wasn’t even a local campaign committee, or a local campaign chair. And when I asked who was running the campaign, I got told three different names.
  7. Winston’s campaign. Winston campaigned well. He never had a melt down, or an angry rant against the media. It was back to charming Winston, not angry Winston. And the bus was a superb idea. Would not have worked in say Napier, but in a large seat with so many small towns, it created a buzz whenever it pulled up.
  8. No downside to voting Winston. National failed to clearly and consistently articulate a reason to not vote Winston. This was always going to be quite challenging, but voters say they could have their cake and eat it too – a National led Government, and Winston as a high profile local MP. National needed to more aggressively remind people that Peters has destroyed pretty much every Government he has been in.
  9. Neglected Northland. Northland felt neglected. Actually most provincial areas feel neglected – and this is regardless of who is in Government. It is a sad reality that provincial areas almost always are losing people to the larger urban centres, and they feel central Government is not in touch so much. National has overall done very well in staying connected to provincial NZ, but there is always an under-current of feeling neglected that can be exploited.
  10. The polls. Winston was very fortunate that the two initial TV polls were done just days after National selected Osborne. Of course a brand new candidate would not poll well initially. If the initial polls had occured say a week later, then they might not have shown Peters ahead or tied, and not given him so much momentum. Polls can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  11. Late start. With the benefit of hindsight, National should have started campaigning much earlier, and selected a candidate earlier. A three to four week period to select the candidate was too long. The Board should have set a 7 – 10 day timeframe for a rushed process, so the candidate could have had six to seven weeks to campaign, not four. Also the entire campaign apparatus should have sprung into operation the day after Sabin resigned. It looks like it mostly didn’t until after the selection. Some stuff you can’t do until you have a candidate, but not others.
  12. Tactical Voting. This had a major effect as seen by the Labour candidate getting less than 5%. It didn’t change the result, but it did impact the margin greatly. Labour did in Northland what they condemned National doing in Epsom and Ohariu – and it worked. Which is why  parties do it.

The challenge from National is to learn from this. It needs to be humble, and admit that they made mistakes. There were some factors they could not control, but some they could. They also need to show at a national level, that they are avoiding third termitis.

Some on the left will claim this is the beginning of the end. Well they’ve been claiming that for around six years. The polls in Northland showed the party vote had not moved much. However it is the first significant loss in pretty much a decade, and may have a symbolic impact. The challenge to National is to acknowledge that Northland was sending a message, and that past performance is not enough for future elections.

Also the party should review the by-election campaign with the same thoroughness as the review done after the 2002 election. Learning from mistakes is how you win in politics.

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Northland Provisional Results

March 29th, 2015 at 8:27 am by David Farrar

The candidates in order were:

  1. Peters 54.0% 15,359
  2. Osborne 39.9% 11,347
  3. Prime 4.6% 1,315
  4. Carr 0.4% 107
  5. Herbert 0.3% 85
  6. Grieve 0.2% 66
  7. Porter 0.2% 55
  8. Painting 0.1% 38
  9. Rogan 0.1% 22
  10. Bonner 0.1% 17
  11. Holland 0.0% 14

A massive victory to Winston, inline with the polls.

The margin is 14% overall, but of interest is that in advance voting it was only 11.3% while for voting on the day it was 16.5%.

Of the 97 booths, Peters won 82 and Osborne just 15.

Of the larger booths Osborne did best in Kerikeri, winning there by 4.5%. Also did well in Paihia and Wellsford.

Peters won by a massive 36.7% margin in Kaikohe, 29.0% in Kaitaia and 23.0% in Dargaville.

The size of the victory is such that New Zealand First must be favoured to hold it in 2017, wither with Peters as the candidate, or with Shane Jones.

Not all bad news for National though. The polls showed National still had close to 50% support in the party vote. So having the NZ First Leader in a seat that strongly votes National in the party vote makes it somewhat less likely he’s going to put the Greens into Government anytime soon,

 

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General Debate 29 March 2015

March 29th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Northland Results

March 28th, 2015 at 7:00 pm by David Farrar

I’m out at dinner and a play tonight so won’t be updating with results, but feel free to update and comment in the comments.

 

UPDATE: Peters already ahead by 1200 on advance votes. Looks like he is going to win easily, as the polls predicted.

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Slater vs Ryder tonight

March 28th, 2015 at 3:20 pm by David Farrar

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 1.35.44 pm

You can see how much weight Cameron has lost training for the bout tonight.

A reminder he is fighting for charity tonight – Kidscan. You can support them by donating here. Over $5,000 raised to date.

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Dear pilots, please don’t crash my flight because you got dumped

March 28th, 2015 at 10:32 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Two different pictures of Andreas Lubitz emerged yesterday.

First there was the Lubitz who never appeared anything but thrilled to have landed a pilot’s job with Germanwings, according to those who helped him learn to fly as a teenager in Montabaur, a town in the forested hills of western Germany.

Then there’s the troubled man who suffered from depression and was struggling to come to terms with a relationship break-up.

French prosecutors yesterday said Lubitz, the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525, “intentionally” crashed the jet into a mountain on Tuesday in the French Alps.

I’d really much rather that pilots didn’t deal with breakups by crashing fully laden planes into mountains.

But German newspaper Bild reported that Lubitz took a break from flight training and received psychiatric treatment for a year and a half. He was diagnosed with a “major depressive episode”. There were also reports he was recommended to be examined by a doctor before flying but passed all his psychological assessments and was later considered fit to fly.

Well that was a pretty bad call.

Lubitz had continued to receive mental health support up until this week’s crash, the Daily Mail reported.

You don’t want to say pilots in counselling should not fly, as it may then discourage them from counselling. But there does need to be a review of policies in this area.

So very sad for families and friends of all the dead. Some plane crashes are unavoidable accidents. This one was not. It was murder.

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No Auckland, no Team NZ funding

March 28th, 2015 at 10:18 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Team New Zealand’s future in the America’s Cup is in serious doubt after the Government confirmed the loss of the qualifying round in Auckland would mean zero funding.

Cup organisers told media this afternoon that Auckland would not be hosting a qualifying round after Team New Zealand opposed a move to smaller boat sizes yesterday.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce told the Herald that without a presence in Auckland, there would be no money.

“We are interested in being involved as a sponsor as a much lower basis than last time, and on the basis there is a qualifying series in Auckland,” Mr Joyce said. “If that was to change then we could not be involved.”

 

Good.

Note there is a by-election on today so please refrain from comments that could breach electoral law – ie encouraging a vote for or against a candidate.

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General Debate 28 March 2015

March 28th, 2015 at 8:00 am by David Farrar
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Prince Charles’ letters to be released

March 27th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

David Cameron has admitted defeat after the government lost a 10-year battle with the Guardian to keep secret a “particularly frank” cache of lobbying letters written by Prince Charles.

Following a supreme court ruling on Thursday that 27 letters between the heir to the throne and ministers must finally be published under the Freedom of Information Act, the “deeply disappointed” prime minister has told aides to prepare their release.

The judges decided by five to two that the government had acted illegally when it vetoed the publication of Charles’s ministerial correspondence, the release of which had previously been approved by a lower court.

It will be the first time that any of Charles’s “black spider memos” have been made public through official channels, and their release is expected to reveal how the heir to the throne attempted to influence government policies in private correspondence.

The advantage of a monarchy is that it is meant to be a politically neutral institution. These letters will show beyond doubt that Prince Charles is not in any way politically neutral. I don’t want him to be New Zealand’s next Head of State.

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The BurnOuts at the Beeb (TopGear & Clarkson)

March 27th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by Kokila Patel

By John Stringer

bbc1

I really likeTopGear, Jeremy Clarkson and James May (and the other good-looking one from The Monkeys). I watch it on rainy sunday afternoons, or with beer and dogs while Her WithinDoors is away and I have the man house to my rule-breaking self.

The three (plus The Stig) have a chemistry and a lad-ishness that gives me hope as a 50-something white flabby male. It’s either that, or take up Himalaya trekking and swimming. I’m not a petrol head, but once had a Jag (well, actually a Daimler Series ii , but everyone thinks it was an XJ6 and it’s made by Jag) and a 1939 Austin Minx (which I reminded everyone was born while Hitler was driving into Poland).

It was about the characters and the writing; May’s dry wit and Clarkson’s gorgeous turns of phrase. The three irresponsible petrol gurus take no prisoners, they are not beHOLDEN to corporate auto conglomerates who pay mega amounts to have their cars castigated and belittled. They are also passionate about driving, cars and on road awesomeness.

They’ve drawn millions like me, into a stupid car geek programme and made it thrilling, funny, entertaining, and made The Beeb millions (TopGear is their star programme). 12 seasons.

And so this debacle with Jeremy Clarkson, the tallest moai on this Easter Island, was like a very British spinster stoush unfolding on Coronation Street.  Auntie Beeb and that tart Mrs Clarkson going at each other with handbags and hair nets. The Mirror reported Clarkson had made an “expletive-laden rant at a charity event” against BBC exec.s earlier in the week, later qualified as “meant in jest.”

http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/jeremy-clarkson-claims-joking-criticised-5379678

But May was right, it was initially a fairly small private meltdown that became way bigger than it should have which was a “tragedy.” See here.

James May has done a series of on camera reactions from the front door of his modest Council-style flat (ya gotta love those Brit celebrities and their humble ‘ostentation’).

So initially I played this as a case of Political Correctness gone mad.  Yes, there was the off camera ‘N’ bomb (which you can hear endlessly by any Black comedian and Rap artist over and over again, including in films) and the “slope” comment, which was obliquely racist but a really funny pun in the context of the sloping bridge. (Let’s be honest, EVERYONE does that behind closed doors; all human groups nick-name other groups).

But the Beeb – as May said on the clip – probably had their hands tied. It was not really about blokey Blokiness standing up to oppressive Stalinesque modernism that is hand wringing political correctness.  No, it seems Jeremy is suffering from MANopause and went too far.  As May says, “He’s a Nob.”  The Sydney Morning Herald  said he was a victim of his own behaviour. Brilliance and hubris; like that myth that all artists are manic depressives, their genius stalked by a converse.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/motoring/news/67509500/top-gears-jeremy-clarkson-a-victim-of-his-own-behaviour

But you have to give The BBC credit, they’ve handled this pretty well.  Sure, it got away from them, but like a honed working-class British greyhound, they hauled in that runaway fluffy bunny and mouthed it several times. Tony Hall conducted a thorough investigation, and spoke to both parties about the incident.  It was reported Clarkson had turned up at the producer’s house to make an apology,  but was cold-shouldered.

Seems to me Clarkson was a bullying oaf; a 20 minute tirade of abuse against an innocent victim based on perceived elevated celebrity status and not getting special treatment (prima donna stuff) and then some sort of ‘handbagging’ incident.  Various reports about a punch or not.  Probably just some middle-aged man shuffling.

Reading Halls’ explanation (in full here below) you have to accept The Beebs position and actions. Clarkson is brilliant, loved by millions for his irreverence (note his Twitter count) and Britishcock a snoop, but was a bully and lost control.  Tony Hall initially stepped in to delay an immediate sacking. Pproducer Oisin Tymon (opposite) was attacked and endured a sustained superiority tirade, in a work context. Unacceptable. Bullying is bullying, and no one should have to endure that, especially at work.

“First – The BBC is a broad church. Our strength in many ways lies in that diversity. We need distinctive and different voices but they cannot come at any price. Common to all at the BBC have to be standards of decency and respect. I cannot condone what has happened on this occasion. A member of staff – who is a completely innocent party – took himself to Accident and Emergency after a physical altercation accompanied by sustained and prolonged verbal abuse of an extreme nature. For me a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations.

“Second – This has obviously been difficult for everyone involved but in particular for Oisin. I want to make clear that no blame attaches to him for this incident. He has behaved with huge integrity throughout. As a senior producer at the BBC he will continue to have an important role within the organisation in the future.

“Third – Obviously none of us wanted to find ourselves in this position. This decision should in no way detract from the extraordinary contribution that Jeremy Clarkson has made to the BBC. I have always personally been a great fan of his work and Top Gear. Jeremy is a huge talent. He may be leaving the BBC but I am sure he will continue to entertain, challenge and amuse audiences for many years to come.

“The BBC must now look to renew Top Gear for 2016. This will be a big challenge and there is no point in pretending otherwise. I have asked Kim Shillinglaw [Controller of BBC Two] to look at how best we might take this forward over the coming months. I have also asked her to look at how we put out the last programmes in the current series.”

Right result.  Oisin Tymon will stay on, Clarkson has gone for unacceptable behaviour after a final written warning.

What next?  Well, channels will be falling over one another to hire Clarkson for mega gazillions. Netflix is already a rumoured suitor. A successful rival may buy-up James May, Richard Hammond lock stock and barrel and parallel a similar show, or something new. The fans will slide and wheel burn over, and it will make the new company tonnes of money. But they’ll have to pay high, as Hammond and May also have other BBC shows they are involved with.

And I suspect Hammond and May without Clarkson will not work, like The Two Ronnieswithout sexual innuendo. But I hope they all work together to complete a successful 2015 series, perhaps with a funny focus on Clarkson’s departure. That would have class.

I like Clarkson, we need brigands like him, irreverent, Churchillian bulwarks against namby pamby, metrosexual hand-creamy politically correct 1984-ness. They give us hope. Clarkson is a kind of Beowulf epic hero, clad in furs with a dripping metaphoric battle axe of wit, double entendres and scathing put-downs.

So, Clarkson has been bumped on a pedestrian crossing and rushed to ER, where he’ll revive, arise as an anti-Beeb phoenix albeit somewhat shattered on a fast ferrari windscreen, and get paid even more. And as admirer Tony Hall director general  of the BBC admits, “continue to entertain, challenge and amuse audiences for many years to come.”  Like a revered but slightly naughty vintage classic that leaves too much oil on your driveway.

This was a very British debacle. The issues were all traversed through the tabloids, no one got too hand-wringy, the issues got put, there was perspective, and values, and a hard call (worth several gazillion to the BBC) taken in the interests of fairness, equal treatment. We got an actual outcome (Clarkson got sacked) , the victim was reassured and cemented in his employment (as the innocent in all this, he was). Clarkson was cut adrift with respect and acknowledgement today to slew new speedways, but without covering up or failing to acknowledge his offending Nob-ishness.

We await the next lap with petrol-heady expectation.

~ John Stringer

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Nasty threats

March 27th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A “lonely man” who pretended to be a radical terrorist in emails to Members of Parliament where he threatened to put their heads on poles and pump them “full of bullets” has today been jailed for 11 months.

Steven Shane Lawrence, 50, sat in his Christchurch flat and seethed against the New Zealand government.

The loner was angry at a “Zionist” government he perceived to be in bed with America.

He sounds like he is an aspiring candidate for Rangitata!

So, over a seven-day period in January, Lawrence sent a string of extremely graphic and abusive emails to several MPs.

One victim received a threat that he would be pumped full of bullets and that Lawrence would rejoice in his bloody death.

Another victim was threatened that she would “burn eternally in hell” and that her entrails would be spread across the streets.

Others were threatened with having their decapitated heads put on poles, while another was told her throat would be slit.

That’s vile and appalling. I pity the poor staff and MPs who had to read such stuff.

On his arrest, Lawrence told police he had strong political ideologies.

He said he had wanted to warn, not threaten, the victims about being involved in a government that was associated with America.

Yeah, sure.

Today, Christchurch District Court heard that the victims had feared for the safety of their families after the explicit threats.

Defence counsel Lee Lee Heah said Lawrence was apologetic, and that he “simply did not realise” the impact it would have on the victims.

He was “very very drunk at the time”, she said, and had no intent or means to carry out the threats.

He was drunk for an entire week?

He considered the threats to have a high level of seriousness and jailed Lawrence for 11 months.

Good.

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Death by pilot

March 27th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A young German co-pilot locked himself alone in the cockpit of a Germanwings airliner and flew it into a mountain with what appears to have been the intent to destroy it, a French prosecutor says.

The 28-year-old German co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 4U 9525 has been identified as Andreas Lubitz.

However, prosecutors are currently not calling the crash a terrorist act, nor a suicide.

The co-pilot repeatedly turned a dial to override the plane’s autopilot, sending it in a steep descent into the Alps, after the plane’s captain had left the cockpit to go to the toilet.

If correct, this is one of the worse acts of mass murder we have seen.

I thought after MH370 the protocol was that another crew member must enter the cockpit if a pilot wishes to leave – so that there is never a sole person in there?

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$60 million saved in welfare fraud

March 27th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Jo Goodhew announced:

Associate Minister for Social Development Jo Goodhew has welcomed news that since benefit fraud reform initiatives began two years ago, up to $60 million of taxpayers’ money has been saved.

“Over the past two and a half years around 9,500 benefits have been cancelled after fraudulent and illegitimate payments were discovered. These changes hold people to account for their actions, and make it difficult to defraud the welfare system,” Mrs Goodhew says.

A vast majority of the fraud has been identified through increased information sharing with Inland Revenue. This allows MSD to quickly identify if a client has under-declared their income – which can affect benefit payments.

An excellent use of data sharing.

Another one of the key initiatives is stricter monitoring of low-trust clients where they have previously committed fraud.

Also sensible.

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Let Russell become an Aussie!

March 27th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Crowe, 50, was born in Welington, but his family moved to Australia in 1968 when he was four. He first raised the issue in 2013, claiming that “apparently I fall between the cracks”.

Those cracks are a section of immigration law that demand that he must have been resident in Australia on February 26, 2001 (he wasn’t) or have spent 12 months here in the preceding two years (due to filming and promotional commitments for Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind, he hadn’t). 

I call on all patriotic NZers to support Russell in his quest to become an Aussie, even if it needs a law change.

However, the Department of Immigration has told Fairfax it has no record of either Mr Crowe’s applications or its alleged rejections.

“According to Departmental records, Mr Crowe has not submitted an application for a permanent visa or for Australian citizenship,” the department said in a written response to questions.

“Should Mr Crowe apply for and be granted a permanent visa, there are a variety of options that he may use to meet the eligibility requirements, including the residence requirements.” 

It would help if he actually applied, but again I think he deserves a special dispensation to be made Australian, even without an application.

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