Archive for September, 2004

200 things to do

September 30th, 2004 at 5:22 pm by David Farrar

Kiwi Pete has a list of 200 things to check off against, if you have done them. Being 1 am in the morning and unable to sleep, I might as well check them off. Those I have done are bolded.

01. Bought everyone in the pub a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula. (a dead one)
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said

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Pitcairn Island trial

September 30th, 2004 at 5:02 pm by David Farrar

I note that the NZ Herald has named the seven Pitcairn Islanders charged with child sex abuse, as the Pitcairn court has lifted name supression.

I winder though whether they could have been named earlier? NZ is not subject to Pitcairn Island law, and as long as one never planned to visit Pitcairn Island, could they not have been named within NZ?

We regularly read about happeneings in the UK, which have UK name supression. Why do we ignore UK name supression decisions but adhere to Pitcairn Island ones?

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In the heart of the vast right wing conspiracy!

September 30th, 2004 at 10:25 am by David Farrar

Yes Virginia, there is a vast right wing conspiracy, and I’ve just been to its weekly meeting.

Every Wednesday morning in the boardroom of Americans for Tax Reform, around 100 leadings lights of the VRWC meet for two hours, and I was kindly extended an invitation.

These meetings are highly impressive and focused. All the big lobby and industry groups are there, along with reps from the Bush campaign plus the Republican Senate and House campaigns.

There was one main speaker, FCC Chairman Michael Powell on what is happening in his area, and then briefer contributions from around 20 others on issues of the day and week. The Bush campaign gave out the latest Kerry gaffes, the House and Senate campaigns talked about key seats and candidates where they wanted support. Various members of Congress were also in attendance.

Lobby groups touched on what they were trying to achieve, and some of these would generate considerable debate. Reducing taxation has 100% support, but on issues like the Patriot II Act or the attempt by the recording industries to criminalise file sharing software, there was considerable opposition. These were classed as “issues on which the family has disagreements” in a line which reminded me of the Sopranos :-)

The meetings are Chatham House rules, so I can’t give details of who attended and said what, but as this article states, they are the people who run the federal govenrment.

It is of course not a conspiracy, but an excellent example of discipline, targeted communications and focused strategy. They started in 1993, and are now regarded by many as the most influential meeting in Washington

The number of handouts was large and I left with 40 – 50 from various groups on issues they wanted people to be aware of. This means people leave with material, to back up their oral presentations, which they can easily share within their own organisations.

I’ll definitely make sure that any future vists to Washington, always include a free Wednesday morning. I can’t think of any other forum where one can get direct access to so many people. I just hope they do not discover I am not really the shadow Minister of Finance for New Zealand (just kidding).

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Mayor Michael Laws

September 29th, 2004 at 5:05 pm by David Farrar

It looks like Michael Laws will easily win the Wanganui Mayoralty, according to a local poll.

Well I always say you get the politicians you deserve, and if anywhere deserves Michael Laws as Mayor, it would be Wanganui.

Previous post on Laws is here.

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US Politics

September 29th, 2004 at 4:09 pm by David Farrar

Despite the great news available over the Internet, there is nothing like being in a country to get a feel of the political situation, and it is fascinating.

The media know Kerry’s only chance now is the debates, and the last few days has seen almost non stop reports on how important the debates are, how Bush has all the advantages, and that Kerry needs to reintroduce himself to America in the debates.

What gets less coverage is little details on the campaigns. Tucked away in the Post was an article mentioing that Kerry had the normal 300 turn up to one of his meet and greet rallies. It also reported how Bush had 42,000 in Ohio turn up for a rally. Yep – 42,000. That is an amazing turnout, with Ohio media saying it is at least twice as large as any previous political rally in Ohio.

This shows that, despite what most media report, the issue is not just Kerry being the worst Democratic candidate in a generation, but that Bush has considerable support in his own right.

The Republican attack machine is world-class in terms of its effectiveness. The media have reported that when they poll people on why they are not voting Kerry, swinging voters repeat Republican attack lines almost word for word “he’s a flip flopper”. This election could almost become a textbook on effective and disciplined campaigning.

As Bush looks more and more likely to win (but still long way from home base), the commentators like Maureen Dowd get more outraegous with their explanations. She explained on TV that Kerry was behind even amongst women (Gore beat Bush by 11% amongst women, so this is highly significant) because Bush and Cheney have said that Al Qaeda will blow their kids up on the way home from school, if they vote Kerry,

Now the average American knows this is crap, so hence Dowd and co just help Bush. It is certainly true that the GOP is portraying Bush as better on security and terrorism, but that is very different from what Dowd claims they say. The public here have got very cynical of the media, helped by CBS.

Most of the last two days I spent amongst a group of several dozen people who were probably without exception on the left of centre. Not a single one of them whom I taked politics with thought Kerry would win, even though they all hoped he would.

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US Humour

September 29th, 2004 at 2:53 pm by David Farrar

The late night humour in the US is simply light years ahead of New Zealand in terms of bluntness and humour. Some examples:

Talking about how a blind couple got fined for not cleaning up dog poop from theiur seeing eye dog, the late night host shouts at the screen “Hello morons, they couldn’t see shit” so they should not be fined. He then went on to say we should be nice to the blind couple anyway, as they may be at risk of losing their jobs as fact checkers for CBS!!

Then Bill Maher talking about Kerry’s speaking style says “Kerry couldn’t set a crowd on fire, even if he used napalm” – vicious but spot on.

And discussing that the US shoudl remove the restrictions on both foreign-born Presidents and serving more than two terms, Maher quits that this would allow Clinton (Bill) vs Schwarznegger to stand in 2008, on the issue of who has lied the least about groping women. “It would be the terminator vs the sperminator”.

And of course, one also has Dave Letterman’s Top Tens.

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Heh!

September 29th, 2004 at 3:08 am by David Farrar

Heh very funny situation just before. Many of the other people at the World Bank meeting have been borrowing my laptop to do their webmail, as none of the others can pick up wireless.

Anyway the girl from the International Confederation of Trade Unions just borrowed it, and the page my browser was open on, was Gary Lindsay’s “I hate socialism” blog. I received a very unusual stare!

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Pushing up Pansies

September 28th, 2004 at 7:15 am by David Farrar

Oh dear. The former Miss NZ Sharee Adams warned MPs they will be “pushing up the pansies” while NZ deals with the effects of the Civil Union Bill she opposses.

I wonder if she even got the joke?

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Youth Employment Network

September 28th, 2004 at 2:01 am by David Farrar

Thanks to the World Bank having an unsecured wireless network, I can blog live from the meeting here :-)

I figured it might be useful to give some background to what these meetings are all about, and why I am attending!

The Youth Employment Network was established bt the UN, ILO and World Bank to help produce strategies, action plans and assistance plans to improve youth employment outcomes globally.

Two groups have been set up to assist the three organisations with this. A high level panel and a youth consultative group. The purpose of both is to critique and give input into the plans of the three bodies, so as to make them more effective. A real public-private partnership.

The high level panel includes the International Organisation of Employers, the Int Confederation of Free Trade Unions, a former EU Director-General and the Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce.

The youth consultative group is also a representative body with reps from a dozen global youth organisations serving on it, including the three main political groupings being the International Young Democrat Union, the International Federation of Liberal Youth and the International Union of Socialist Youth.

We all met on Sunday evening and it was only at the end of the night, that we swapped names of whom we represent, and ironically I had spent most of the time getting on well with the IUSY rep. This sort of issue doesn’t tend to be overly partisan (we all agree more youth employment is good) but of course we disagree on the methods sometimes.

There is a huge mound of background reading for the meetings, and today (Monday) we had our first meeting at 6.30 am and won’t be finishing until after 7.00 pm so it is not just sit back for an easy time.

So far the meeting has been good. Rather than just rubber stamping stuff, there has been some significant criticisms which will lead to changes. The President of the World Bank is coming back tomorrow to hear our wishlist!

I still have quite a bit of work to do back in NZ which means keeping in touch with people during the evening. Unfortunately the NZ evening is from 2 am to 6 am Washington time so sleep once again is rare.

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10 things I have learnt in Washington

September 27th, 2004 at 10:08 pm by David Farrar

1) Zebra crossings do not mean traffic gives way to pedesterians, like they do in NZ. In fact I have no idea what they do mean.

2) Buildings are not numbered in consecutive order but all buildings between say 22nd and 23rd Avenue will be between 2200 and 2299. Once you know this, it makes finding places much easier.

3) There appears to be a lot more female students at Georgetown University than male.

4) They have newspaper bins at literally every corner.

Washington 007.jpg

5) They have beggars at not every corner, but there are still a lot of them/

6) Washington DC is actually quite a small city, easy to walk around, and no huge tower blocks like New York.

7) You can get three courses for two people at a Thai restaurant for only US$40.

8) Crossing signals which tell you how many seconds are left, are a damn good idea.

9) Some people are sore losers :-)

Washington 010.jpg

10) American TV humour is far more vicious and funny than in NZ (more on this later).

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Disney Auckland

September 27th, 2004 at 3:07 pm by David Farrar

The Auckland mayoralty election seems to be competing for a spot in Disneyland as some sort of bad joke.

When you read in the paper that Titewhai Harawira is convening a peace meeting between Hubbard, Flecther and Banks, you wonder if it is April Fools Days.

I almost feel sorry for whomever wins the election.

We now have Hubbard suing NBR, Fletcher suing Hubbard, Banks’ campaign manager resigning, police complaints and Hubbard refusing to appear in a TV debate on the basis of so called legal advice.

I am still struggling with the rationale that a serious candidate can refuse to take part on a TV debate on legal advice. I still don’t really know what Hubbard stands for, apart from he does not like Banks.

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Internet Free Speech

September 27th, 2004 at 7:21 am by David Farrar

There is an ongoing battle over Internet governance, which is now being investigated by a UN working group. Most western countries want the naming and addressing system kept in the private sector, while some other countries want a inter-governmental body such as the ITU to perform this function.

There is an interesting article on Icann Watch about a recent UN meeting, and the Brazilian Government’s view.

Brazil said “It is a myth that an intergovernmental approach will jeopardize the free speech on the internet. Free speech is endangered when one government controls the system, not when all do.”

I could not disagree more strongly. The nature of international politics is you will have deals such as “I’ll vote for a domain name tax to fund third world computers, if you vote to support this ban on domain names which make fun of my President”.

I could also easily see coalitions between religious states, agreeing to push for domain names which blaspheme, or which host material which blasphemes, to be banned. Of course it won’t work, but it will impose huge costs, and it will stifle what we have.

Few things concern me as much, as this attempt by some countries through the UN to “govern” the Internet.

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Support Capitalism

September 27th, 2004 at 6:46 am by David Farrar

People may have noticed I now have Google Ads on this site. I make money to defray the costs of the site, if you just click on an ad. Support capitalism and spend money now!

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If this is competition I would hate to see a monopoly

September 27th, 2004 at 6:41 am by David Farrar

It is a huge shame that the Cabinet over-ruled Paul Swain and refused to unbundle the local loop.

The NZ Herald has another story on the farce known as broadband in NZ.

One of Telecom’s plans provides ISPs with a margin of 12 cents per customer per month. I mean one doesn’t really need to even comment on it, do you.

And a system where Telecom only has to offer a 256K wholesale service which it can then undermine with a monopoly 1 or 2 MB retail service, is why almost no ISPs will touch it.

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Dick Hubbard

September 26th, 2004 at 2:24 pm by David Farrar

Before he decided to stand for Auckland Mayor, I had a fairly positive opinion of Dick Hubbard. But he seems to be going off the rails big time.

Aaron Bhatnagar has a link to the SST story that Hubbard is refusing to attend the Auckland Mayoral Debate on the Holmes Show on Monday. I can’t ever recall a political candidate turning down a debate before, when they are not the incumbent.

Hubbard won’t appear on Holmes, won’t turn up to public meetings, complains about a blog being mean to him, and sues a newspaper for its unflattering portrayal of him.

I never thought I would say these words, but I think I would now vote for Christine Fletcher ahead of Dick Hubbard, if I was in Auckland.

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Powhiris

September 26th, 2004 at 9:37 am by David Farrar

I see Trevor Mallard has got some flak for urging a rethink of the influence of Maori culture in schools.

Somehow I doubt he would ever have said this, pre-Orewa, but lets take his comments at face value.

He is not saying there should be no Maori culture at schools, but that a recent powhiri took 90 minutes which was too long. Also he was concerned that female students were often sidelined in them. Seems fair enough. The reponse to this assertion was that women have a different but equal role in powhiris.

Personally I think Maori culture greatly enriches New Zealand, as it is unique to us. Almost every conference I attend starts with a powhiri. I like singing the Maori version of God Defend New Zealand more then the Engligh one, and who doesn’t like the Haka?

In fact the hotel receptionist in Washington when I mentioned I was from New Zealand, raved on about our “dancing warriors” he had seen perform recently.

But when powhiris, especially if all in Maori, go on for more than 10 minutes or so, people do start to get restless and you get a backlash. If I had to endure a 90 minute powhiri, I would probably say what Mallard said.

I did have to laugh at Titewhai Harawira’s response to Parekura Horomia complaining he had recently had to put up with a five hour powhiri. Her response:

“Now, if Parekura wants to sit through something like that for five hours, he’s got no balls, typical of Maori men.”

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ACC for millionaires

September 26th, 2004 at 9:06 am by David Farrar

The SST reports on Jeff Page who gets around $40,000 a year (grossed up) from ACC. Jeff:

* has a life-time guarantee of ACC, due to a prescription drug addicition when he was 21
* earns $124,000 a year from his rental properties
* lives in a $720,000 home
* is in the top third of Auckland Tennis players

This welfare safety net we have gets better every day.

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Bush Twins

September 26th, 2004 at 8:15 am by David Farrar

Okay, well quite a start to my first visit to Washington DC. Flights generally went okay, and I was lucky not to have anyone next to me on all three flights.

Checked into hotel and did quick download of e-mail. Kevin (ex-flatmate now working on Martinez for Senate campaign) and I chatted online briefly and Kevin joked that I should try to meet the Bush Twins (actually Kevin also suggested other activites also, not suitable for a family publication), knowing my admiration of them.

I forgot to take with me my US plug adaptor, so asked the hotel where I could get some. They said there was a CVS store three blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue.

So I head down to the CVS store (think Star Mart), and almost next to the CVS store is a restaurant, La Chaumiere, with around a dozen Secret Service agents outside, and what looked to be Barbara and Jenna Bush inside, as I walked past.

I kicked myself for not having my camera with me, and thought about going back to the hotel to grab it and to grab a photo when they left, but I also thought about the well armed secret service agents, and decided I didn’t really want to hang around.

Washington 001.jpg

I grabbed a photo of the restaurant the next day, and discovered via Google that it is a popular eating place with President Bush, Julia Child and Karl Rove all known to frequent it.

The Washington Suites Hotel Georgetown is extremely nice, and I can recommend it to anyone. Not sure how much it costs, but the rooms have a large living area, a full kitchen, a large double bedroom with ensuite and hey Nintendo one one of the two TVs.

Washington 002.jpg

This is a photo of some of the main living room. As I said, very comfortable.

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Youth Employment

September 23rd, 2004 at 2:45 pm by David Farrar

I’m flying off to Washington DC tomorrow (staying at 2500 Pennsylvania Ave so hopefully have time to walk down the road) , on behalf of the International Young Democrat Union, as part of the UN Secretary General’s Youth Employment Network Panel.

The panel is convened by the World Bank, United Nations and the International Labour Organisation jointly.

The overall objective is to produce strategies that will get more young people into the labour market globally.

I would be interested in ideas, links etc from readers on ways to achieve this goal. From my point of view you can divide strategies into three areas.

First are strategies which will increase the number of jobs globally. Relevant issues are free trade agreements, lower corporates taxes, reduced business compliace costs.

Second are strategies that would make employing young people more attractive to employers than older workers. Relevant issues are youth rates, minimum wages.

Third are strategies about education and skills. Getting that first job is the hardest, and in many countries youth do not have enough skills to make it worth an employer risking hiring them. I tend to think that the major priority has to be on making sure every child goes to school and leaves school able to read and write, and preferably count. Without that they are uphill all their life. If the concern is youth employment then diverting money from tertiary education (which helps you get a better job) into early childhood and primary (which allows you to get any job at all) would seem sensible.

Feedback and ideas welcome.

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Voiceless

September 23rd, 2004 at 7:14 am by David Farrar

I’ve had next to no voice for the last few days, as I battle a cold. And as luck had it, TV3 wanted to interview me on Tuesday for their item on the NZ Film Commission getting an Australian web design firm to do their website, as no NZ firm was deemed capable.

Being a media whore, I would have happily take part, but the idea of using sign language to talk wasn’t appealing, so it got passed onto someone else from InternetNZ.

Not that I am a believer that one must always use a local company, over an overseas one. However as the NZ Film Commission has a mission of promoting local artistic ability, their actions were a bit hypocritical.

Also web design is not a rare commodity. There are literally hundreds of design firms in NZ (many top class), and the claim by NZFC that no firm in NZ could perform the work was crap in my opinion. If they said hey the Aussies can do it for one third the price, that would be different.

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Hubbard sues

September 23rd, 2004 at 6:53 am by David Farrar

I can’t say I am surprised that Dick Hubbard is suing the NBR. The volume and ferocity of their “expose” last week was huge, even for NBR’s standards.

There can be no doubt the collective effect of the ten articles was to lower Hubbard’s reputation, so any trial will hinge on truth as a defence.

I also noticed a couple of interesting things over on Aaron Bhatnagar’s blog. Mr Hubbard appears to be a reader of Aaron’s blog and refused to attend a public meeting because of it.

More fascinating was the item that Fletcher told Hubbard “I was prepared to stand down and endorse you, but I’d rather have Banks now, because I’ve seen through your soul”.

This was on TV3, yet amazingly has not been covered by the NZ Herald. Considering how much Fletcher detested Banks, and that she has made defeating Banks the central pane of her existence for the last three years, to endorse Banks over Hubbard is simply incredible.

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A great plan

September 23rd, 2004 at 6:39 am by David Farrar

I have consistently been impressed with how Ngai Tahu has managed itself, and the approx $140 million treaty settlement – especially compared to Tainui.

The Press reports on their latest plan, which is to set up individual savings plans for every member of the Iwi. Ngai Tahu will match dollar for dollar contributions to each person’s savings plans, which can only be used for education, a home or retirement.

It’s basically a family trust, but for a whanau of 34,000.

I cam only admire a plan which is “targeted at smashing the culture of welfare dependence of Maori”, “encouraging smart savings and creating long-term wealth” and “It’s going to take the burden off the State in the future”.

And best of all, the wisdom in this “”We won’t get our sovereignty by running to the Crown. We’ll get it by giving people wealth and giving them opportunity in life.”

This is what partnership is about. The Crown has settled the historical grievances, and the Iwi is getting on with it.

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Treaty Property Rights

September 22nd, 2004 at 6:40 am by David Farrar

NZPA reports today that Winston Peters has said “The treaty was not about property rights. . . it was about citizenship”.

Umm has he read the Treaty lately?

Peters is right that the Treaty is about citizenship (Article III). But it most certainly is also about propery rights (Article II). What it is not, and should not be about, is special seats on local bodies, affirmative action, spiritual myth recognition, preferential treatment in health and education etc.

The English version of the Treaty says “Her Majesty the Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the Chiefs and Tribes of New Zealand and to the respective families and individuals thereof the full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates Forests Fisheries and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess so long as it is their wish and desire to retain the same in their possession.”

If that is not about property rights, I don’t know what the hell is. Peters, once again, is wrong.

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Naughty drunk women

September 22nd, 2004 at 6:27 am by David Farrar

I was somewhat stunned to read this morning that following a spate of attacks on female passengers by taxi drivers, that one taxi firm is saying “We are not going to carry any drunk girls home on their own any more, for our own safety”

Right, so the problem is these drunk amorous women throwing themselves at taxi drivers. Yeah right!

Incidentially my free advice for what firms to use in Wellington is Wellington Combined or Corporate Cabs. The standard of driver is considerably better than other firms, along with the standard of car. Plus Wellington Combined have a form of EFTPOS in their car which means one can pay by credit or taxi charge very quickly.

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George is saved

September 22nd, 2004 at 5:52 am by David Farrar

Hey, who says blackmail doesn’t work. Yesterday George was facing the sack for incompetence. Today Helen effectively says he is safe.

It is interesting the standard to keep a job in Helen’s cabinet.

Incompetence – no problem
Drink Driving – just take six months off
Lying to the public – take off until the next election
Claim an out of Wellington allowance and live in Wellington – no problem if in Labour

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