Archive for February, 2006

Parliament

February 28th, 2006 at 1:50 pm by David Farrar

Heh the EU has a delegation visiting today. What a day to be here. Hope they are not scared off.

DBP was not given leave to make a personal statement. I slighly disapprove but of course Labour did the same to Shipley in 1999 so hung by one’s own petard.

DBP hiding behind nothing he did was not outside school policy at the time. And now Wilson saying he can’t answer. Oh and Winston is coming out to defend Benson-Pope.

DBP says conduct as a teacher was never inappropriate but apologises to any former students who think otherwise.

Collins asking why as Welfare Minister he doesn’t have to live up to the same standards of honesty as beneficiaries do.

Cullen is saying that convention is for Ministers to make personal explanations not make ministerial statements when correcting previous statements. The former can not be debated while the latter can. Cullen is hypocritical as he was Labour Deputy Leader when Labour denied leave to Shipley.

Clark now saying DBP answered to the best of his recollection. This is a farce suggesting he could forget a formal complaint in his last two years of teaching.

Peters is saying a MP should not be railroaded through a trial by media. Godoness the poodle turns. Very ironic as Peters has conducted mroe trials by media than any other MP.

Maharey shouted down as he claimed the complaints have been investigated by the Police. Of course these ones have not been – which he knows.

Maharey says Benson-Pope is an honourable member and he accepts his word. I doubt many in the press gallery do.

All over now. Well until tomorrow or until the next set of allegations.

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Dr Cullen is a telepath

February 28th, 2006 at 12:59 pm by David Farrar

I can only conclude that Dr Cullen has psychic ability and is a telepath.

You see NewstalkZB has Dr Cullen saying the former Bayfield High School Principal is “confused” when he says he told David Benson-Pope about the complaint against him.

Now this is amazing that Dr Cullen, who has absolutely no first hand knowledge of what happened, is able to state with certainity that the former principal is confused. Perhaps he can also work out who killed Mona Blades with his new found powers.

I’m amazed the Government is going to try and brazen this out. I mean from a partisan viewpoint I should be delighted as it will keep the issue going for longer, but it is going to be so sad for the Minister. Already we hear another parent is alleging DBP kneed his son in the groin.

DBP is seeking to do a personal statement at 2 pm. This will require leave of the House and as anything said in a personal statement can no longer be challenged afterwards he might not get it. He should use the personal statement to resign.

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Oh this is funny

February 28th, 2006 at 11:30 am by David Farrar

Generation XY do some wonderful photoshopping. I can’t resist stealing today’s effort.

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Today’s Questions

February 28th, 2006 at 11:21 am by David Farrar

From the Clerk:

1. JUDITH COLLINS to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: What complaints, if any, has he been advised of that could seriously impact on his ability to carry out his job as Minister of Social Development and Employment?

3. Dr DON BRASH to the Prime Minister: Does she have confidence in all her Ministers; if so, why?

5. Hon BILL ENGLISH to the Minister of Education: Does he agree with the statement of the previous Associate Minister of Education to the House on 12 May 2005, “I have not been guilty of, or involved in, any inappropriate behaviour in my 24 years as a secondary school teacher. As well, I am not aware of any complaint of any kind.”; if not, why not?

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Benson-Pope lied

February 28th, 2006 at 10:23 am by David Farrar

David Benson-Pope in Parliament last year said that “I have not been guilty of, or involved in, any inappropriate behaviour in my 24 years as a secondary school teacher. As well, I am not aware of any complaint of any kind.”

Today we learn that in 1997 the then principal of Bayfield High School did inform Benson-Pope about complaints from parents that he burst into female dormitories, and a shower block, while 14-year-old girls were in various states of undress.

Once again Benson-Pope is in serious trouble – not so much for what he did as a teacher but for how he has handled the issue as an MP.

We saw this again with his response to the latest allegations – he labelled them as nonsense which is clearly designed to imply the girls were making it up. However we learn there was a formal complaint which led to the school policy being changed to make it explicit that teachers should not do what Benson-Pope did.

And when it comes out there was a formal complaint DBP’s spinners suggest that he was never told about it. Hello you really think that a school would hear a complaint about a teacher, change its policy on such situations to stop a repeat, and never ever mention the complaint to the teacher.

Even now after the former principal has stated he did tell DBP, his spokesperson is suggesting the principal is lying.

The next line of defence is that he can’t recall. I doubt many teachers would say that you would forget a formal complaint about you – especially one within the last eight years. Helen Clark of course backs up his I can not recall defence.

As I said two days ago that I thought these latest allegations would mean curtains for DBP and indeed he may be sacked today before question time. Clark now has the grounds she needs being that he misled her personally (Helen regards this as far worse than misleading the country :-)

And if DBP is sacked it will not be for what he did or did not do as a teacher. But for the way he conducted himself over this whole issue with lies, leaks, attacks on victims etc.

UPDATE: John Armstrong agrees with me saying ” The Prime Minister now has little option but to cut her losses and sack David Benson-Pope”

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Blonds

February 27th, 2006 at 9:23 pm by David Farrar

The Sunday Times has an article on how blonds first emerged 11,000 years ago yet according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) study there will be none left in 200 years as too few people have blond genes.

Now as it so happens there is no such WHO study. So our great great great great great grandkids will still be able to date blonds.

What I find especiallu amsuing is the statement from WHO which concludes:

WHO has no knowledge of how these news reports originated but would like to stress that we have no opinion on the future existence of blondes.

Hat Tip: Silent Running

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Air NZ still treats all men as pedophiles

February 27th, 2006 at 8:47 pm by David Farrar

Air New Zealand is sticking to its policy of treating all of its male passengers as potential pedophiles with its ban on seating unaccompanied children next to male passengers.

Wayne Mapp makes the excellent point that if one supports the policy on the basis of an increased risk from men (which there is) then an airline could have a policy not to seat children beside young Maori men on the basis of the higher crime rate of young Maori men. That is just as offensive as applying it to all men.

Mapp also points out that neither Air NZ nor Qantas have been able to point to a single case where a man did something harmful to an unaccompanied child on an aircraft.

Air NZ should do the sensible thing and have a more flexible policy which deals with preferences, not bans. For example if I was Air NZ my policy for seats next to unaccompanied children would be below. Note I would never ever get a passenger to move seats to get a higher ranked passenger next to a child. I would just use the system to choose the best unallocated seat:

1) No-one (empty seat)
2) An accompanied child
3) A couple travelling together
4) An elderly woman travelling alone
5) An elderly man travelling alone
6) A woman travelling alone
7) A man travelling alone
8) Cactus Kate
9) Me

Asking male passengers to move seats because they are banned from being next to a child is just offensive and insulting.

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The Muslim Madonna

February 27th, 2006 at 8:29 pm by David Farrar

A 28-year-old muslim woman named Deeyah has put out a video that is a harsh take on the Muslim world’s treatment of women.

She has of course been subjected to death threats.

At the link you can also play the music video that shows Deeyah shedding a burka in favor of a bikini. The music is good also.

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Frank Zappa

February 27th, 2006 at 1:13 pm by David Farrar

If you are on broadband then go to this page where you can click on a link to view a Crossfire interview on censorship in 1986 with Frank Zappa defending lyrics in songs as just being words.

Zappa is superb. I don’t agree with everything he said, but he is just hilarious as he demolishes the others. A class display.

Hat Tip: Russell Brown

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Irving is a nasty piece of work

February 27th, 2006 at 11:36 am by David Farrar

While I maintain that jailing David Irving for his views is not the best thing to do, it is useful to remember how loathsome he is. In case anyone thinks his Holocaust denial is not due to anti-semitism read his latest statements:

* Jews hold far too much power and predicted their disproportionate control in the US would see a second Holocaust “in 20 to 30 years”.

* It is part of the human condition to dislike Jews

At least his family show themselves a higher class of human being. His brother is chairman of Wiltshire Racial Equality Council (and converted to Islam in 1981). And Irving’s 12 year old daughter carries around The Diary of Anne Frank to express her disagreement for her father’s views.

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Road Funding

February 27th, 2006 at 11:14 am by David Farrar

The Road Transport Forum has pointed out that of the entire transport spend, only $4.7 billion is set aside over ten years for new roads.

$470 million a year isn’t a huge amount of money when you consider there are $14.4 billion of proposed roads with a benefit:cost ratio of at least 2:1.

Being a believer in user pays, something I’d like to see the Government do is:

1) Dedicate all petrol tax to the road fund. Public transport, where desirable, can be funded out of taxation as a public good.

2) Set a benefit:cost ratio over which you will fund projects. You could argue it should be 1:1 but I would be happy for 2:1

3) Automatically adjust petrol tax to cover the costs of all new roads (amortised over life-time of roads etc) which exceed that ratio. The petrol tax to be set annually based on each year’s approved road building exercise.

This might see petrol go up to over $1.50 a litre but if that is what the cost is of having a roading network which works, then I’m willing to pay for it.

Long-term I see charging being per car per road but until we have, or are willing to have, such technology the petrol tax is the closest thing to user pays. So why not set it at the level needed to get some new roads built?

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The annual cork count

February 26th, 2006 at 8:37 pm by David Farrar

Well it’s been a year since the last great cork count. In 2004/05 we managed 392 bottles of wine. This year the bets ranged from 365 to 442. My guess was 400.

Well we were all wrong. The photo below shows how many corks we had.

Count 10 Feb 2006.jpg

Now to save you all counting it was 456. This is a remarkable level as several of us missed for a couple of months the normal weekly sessions. There’s around ten of us who contributed to the count. However I’m blamed for around 1/4 of the total, the host for another 1/4 and the rest sharing the remaining half.

95% of the wine drunk would be red wine. To think once upon a time I didn’t like it.

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The Mother of all West Wing Spoilers

February 26th, 2006 at 7:18 pm by David Farrar

Okay over the break is a major major major spoiler for The West Wing. Now don’t click on the link if you don’t want all the suspense to be spoiled. It is probably the biggest spoiler you can imagine so again don’t click if you don’t want to know and then whinge that you would rather not know.

The spoiler is from a leaked script which hasn’t yet screened so it is not 100% guaranteed but it is highly reliable. Okay now to the spoiler:
(more…)

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Ariel Sharon joke

February 26th, 2006 at 3:50 pm by David Farrar

Got sent this by a reader. Rather funny and shows how quick things can move!

Ariel Sharon wakes up from his coma and demands to know what’s been happening over the last couple of months.

Aide: Well, Iran has suspended inspections on its nuclear facilities…

Sharon: !s it that the worst news?

Aide: Umm, Hamas is now the elected government of Palestine…

Sharon: That must be the worst news, surely?

Aide: Umm, well, no. The entire Islamic world now hates Denmark worse than us.

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Perth Update

February 26th, 2006 at 2:59 pm by David Farrar

Currently attending the annual meeting of APCAUCE – the Asia-Pacific Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail. What has been interesting is that many or most of the participants are actually from Governments. A couple of years ago it was almost all NGOs and private sector but great to see many regional anti-spam government agencies attending as well as the UK Government which has taken a leadership role on the issue. There are also eight here from China.

Yesterday had some time off so went to the Scitech Museum/Exhibition. This was great fun and only sad I only had an hour there – needed three. They had almost a hundred interactive displays of how science works. If I ever have kids this place is a definite visit.

Also made Freemantle briefly which was lovely. Only $3.10 by train from Perth. It was 32 degrees so the ocean was lovely.

Then we went out for dinner with the APCAUCE Chair and a SpamHaus Director. Just as we were about to order desserts we were told they had a dozen spare chicken and pork chops (the pork is rolled around the chicken in a ball and then breadcrumbed) and offered them to us for free. So we all have chicken/pork chops for dessert – they were delicious but not quite the same as ice cream.

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An Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoons Contest

February 26th, 2006 at 2:20 pm by David Farrar

Now this is funny (and makes an important point). Because Iran is running a Holocaust cartoons contest an Israeli group has launched its own anti-semitic cartoon contest on the basis they want to beat the Iranians on their home turf! Only Jews can enter.

Combatting hatred with humour is one of the best things you can do. The hate merchants never know how to handle this.

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Good old Dads

February 26th, 2006 at 1:43 pm by David Farrar

The bond between Dads and Daughters is often ferociously protective, no matter their age.

We see this in the HoS with Ali Mau’s father having written a letter pointing out his daughter’s length list of journalistic credentials, compared to the former Suzy Aiken who will I suspect always be remembered most for making out with Chris Warner in the inaugural episode of Shortland Street.

God bless protective fathers!

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Settling down

February 26th, 2006 at 11:16 am by David Farrar

The SST has published the identity of Winston Peter’s girlfriend. In theory not really a matter of public interest but as he has been so well known for his single lifestyle since his divorce, there is natural curiosity at the woman who has settled down with him.

It is thought this is the major reason why he has shifted his electorate office from Tauranga to Auckland. Some wag joked that he’s given up servicing 40,000 Tauranga constituents to service one Auckland constituent :-)

UPDATE: A photo now accompanies the story. Very tidy. Winston’s doing well for a near-pensioner!

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Debating Polygamy

February 26th, 2006 at 11:01 am by David Farrar

A great debate on Marginal Revolution about the economic arguments for or against polygamy.

Alex Tabarrok states the economic argument is nthat polygny increases the demand for women – under polygny Bill Gates can have two wives which by demonstrated preferences makes at least the second wife better off – suggests, but does not prove, that polygny can favor women.

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More scandal for Field

February 26th, 2006 at 5:18 am by David Farrar

The Government will probably move to ban Sundays shortly, if the two Sunday papers continue to each have a scandal involving a Labour MP.

The HoS had the latest on Benson-Pope while the SST reveals documents showing Phillip Field asked Housing NZ to find a home for a South Auckland family so he could kick them out of their family home he brought off them for $259,000, which he sold 16 months later for a $136,000 or 50% profit.

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Benson-Pope accusers step forward

February 26th, 2006 at 5:05 am by David Farrar

When I read on the Investigate Magazine website yesterday that there had been several more anonymous allegations against David Benson-Pope, specifically of inappropriate behaviour with female students, my first reaction was that it wasn’t that serious. After all the alleged behaviour, while very creepy, was not illegal.

In fact I’ve been on record as saying it has been how Benson-Pope has lied in response to the allegations that has been the issue, more than if he did one stick a deflated tennis ball in a kid’s mouth.

But today’s Herald on Sunday reveals that three of the four further female complainants have agreed to be named. This makes it far far worse for the person whom Helen Clark appointed as Education Minister last year.

When the accusers are not named it is relatively easy to deflect the issue. However with the girls having signed statements it means that MPs in the House can directly ask whether the statement of xxxxx is true or not.

The Prime Minister is being ridicolous by saying that there is no further issue at all unless complaints are made to the Police. The behaviour complained about is not illegal just very very inappropriate for a teacher (or any adult).

Some of the stuff former students have complained about is not that serious in my opinion. Throwing a blackboard duster happened often at my school. Even the tennis ball incident and making kids stand outside in the cold can be excused or at least seen in context. As a former youth group leader I’ve done the odd thing which isn’t quite in the manual, and have some sympathy for not having a microscope examine every action you did years later.

However the accusations that he punched or hit a student in the face was very serious. These further accusations of entering female changing rooms are also very serious. Every teacher and indeed any adult should know that is quite unacceptable.

I think these latest allegations will mean it will be untenable for Benson-Pope to continue as Welfare Minister. Unless he sues the students for defamation (as he has now threatened) he is now too damaged to continue.

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First ever woman to be jailed for life

February 25th, 2006 at 11:04 pm by David Farrar

Preventative detention, which is basically life imprisonment with no parole, is usually for recidivist sex offenders. Hence up until this week no woman had ever been given the sentence.

But Kino Hoki Matete with a truly appalling history of violence, has made history. Aged only 26 she is probably also one of the youngest to
have been given preventative detention.

A classic case of not mad, but simply bad.

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Dunedin Orientation

February 25th, 2006 at 10:54 pm by David Farrar

Dave Gee has some great photos of freshers (first year students) at Otago University on togas etc as part of their initiation into university life.

Heh brings back memories of initiation ceremonies we had at Carrington Hall. Very messy – involved a bath tub, lots of ice and leftover soups and other nasties from the kitchen over the last week.

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Tom Frewen sacked

February 25th, 2006 at 11:27 am by David Farrar

From this Greens PR it appears Radio NZ has sacked Tom Frewen. Does anyone have a copy or know what his 10 February NBR column said, as this appears to be responsible for his sacking.

Not sure what this means for Media Watch. Russell I expect will have comment at some point.

Oh Scoop has a bit of detail. Interesting.

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Three broadband stories

February 25th, 2006 at 11:14 am by David Farrar

The debate is well underway. First of all there is a scathing Computerworld article which fisks the Business NZ broadband report and finds it seriously lacking. In summary the report:

* has outdated or inaccurate information in 21 of the 30 countries listed;
* ignores that 15 of the 30 countries now offer uncapped services;
* only looks at incumbent telcos’ plans, not new offerings
* doesn’t include ADSL 2+ plans, only first generation ADSL

Then we have a column by InternetNZ which the Dominion Post kindly ran in response to the column by the Business Roundtable.

Finally the Greens have come out and strongly endorsed the reform proposals put up by InternetNZ. This wasn’t solicited but is very welcome, and what is very graffitying is that Nandor has caught on to the fact we want to move the debate beyond local loop unbundling. Indeed we do. LLU is I suspect almost inevitable now – it’s what else do you do on top of that (and also making sure that LLU is done in such a way as to be most effective).

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