Archive for August, 2007

Maybe Pete Hodgson could concentrate on this

August 31st, 2007 at 10:57 am by David Farrar

Hey Pete – when you are not busy searching through rubbish bins and reading the Truth in order to attack John Key, maybe you could do something about the fact Dunedin Hospital Emergency Department is asking people to stay away and warning of 24 hour waits for beds.

I may be wrong but as both Minister of Health and MP for Dunedin North this might fall within your patch.  But hey only if you can spare the time.

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A u-turn in 24 hours

August 31st, 2007 at 10:46 am by David Farrar

Jordan yesterday blogged how the process for the Electoral Finance Bill is all wrong, and I said I agreed with him, and this is why the bill needs to be done properly. In 24 hours Jordan has now changed his position and made a frankly bizarre post accusing me of being both Karl Rove and Robert Muldoon and going on about redistricting in the US etc etc.

I can only assume Jordan has got flak from his hierarchy for his comments, and is now trying to beat a retreat.

The funniest thing is when he accuses National of trying to steal the 2005 general election. He glosses over the fact Labour did actually break the law and overspend by $800,000. And that this Electoral Finance Bill will legalise their illegal over-spending.

Jordan also argues this bill is following normal process, when just yesterday he laments it should have been the subject of public consultation. He argues that because the issue is being debated now on blogs, this makes it all okay. He also says the bill is not a constitutional revolution, when it is exactly that.

He also glosses over the bill doesn’t even crackdown on anonymous donations to parties because his own leader needs her dirty money so badly she pulled that clause out.

But most of all he is fake outraged by the fact I suggested that if Labour get away with gerrymandering the Electoral Act for their narrow partisan interests, future Govts will do the same. He has not a word of condemnation for what his party *actually* is doing, but gets outraged at even a suggestion that future parties might descend to the same low standard.

And just to make things worse, the Government leaked to Radio NZ that it is planning changes to the Bill, so that the Select Committee hearing the bill can then agree not to hear any submissions criticising those aspects of the bill, on the grounds the Government has already agreed to a change in that area. Never mind that what these changes are might not at all satisfy what the public want – they’ll be rammed through probably under urgency just before Christmas.

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Labour vs Moore

August 31st, 2007 at 10:24 am by David Farrar

Labour have launched a letter writing and talkback call campaign against Mike Moore.

Criticism is not to be tolerated.

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Unfair to Muldoon

August 31st, 2007 at 10:07 am by David Farrar

Not PC reports that the comparison of Clark to Muldoon is unfair to Muldoon according to Lindsay Perigo.

He explains:

Muldoon used to occasionally ban journalists from attending government press conferences, but Clark is much worse. She wants to outlaw any substantive criticism of government for one third of a government’s term.

A fair point.

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Hear Dick

August 31st, 2007 at 8:15 am by David Farrar

Whale Oil has a voice mail message from Dick Hubbard to Cameron Brewer, after Cameron commented on the Herald site on the costs of consultants for the Queen Street upgrade.

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Jordan is right

August 30th, 2007 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Jordan Cater blogs his list of desired improvements for the Electoral Finance Bill.  I agree with most (not all) of them.  But the point I most agree with is:

 Even better, I would never have brought forward a Bill like this in the first place. I would have created a six month commission of inquiry, starting last October, and included the political parties in its deliberations, and required it to hold Citizens Juries around New Zealand to also see what the public thought, in a sensible low key debate. Such a process would, I am sure, have led to quite different legislation being proposed, and would have turned it from what is being seen as a “partisan” issue to a much simpler and cleaner debate about how best to run our electoral system. It would also have meant it would be difficult for anyone to criticise the outcome, given the wide engagement that would have happened.

Jordan is absolutely right.  Look the Electoral Act should not be a wildly partisan issue.  It is our arguably most important constitutional act. Significant changes to it should be made in a public and considered way.

Even putting aside all the problems wrong with the substance of the EFB, the even bigger problem is the total absence of a process  to allow public input into the policy on which the bill is based. You have a public policy process to start with, and then you have a bill based on that policy.

This is why the bill needs to be stopped.  Not because it is absolutely impossible to improve it.  But because the public have not had their say on the underlying policy issues.  And that is very different to being allowed to send in a submission to a select committee once the bill is in Parliament.  A proper public process involves discussion papers, options papers, forums, seminars, a website, discussions on radio and television etc etc.  Absolutely all of this is missing.

If the Government does not stop the bill, and passes (even with amendments) the bill before Christmas, then the Electoral Act will not recover.  It will become a partisan prize for whoever wins the election.

And it doesn’t need to be that way.  If a proper process was set up for public debate, with well thought out options, I think one could gain a wide degree of consensus.  But you CAN NOT allow this bill to proceed in the absence of the public debate.  Especially when the Electoral Act is being massively extended to not just regulate parties and candidates, but every New Zealander.  How can you pass a law regulating every New Zealander, when you have not even had their input into why such a law is needed, if it is?

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Thursday Caption Contest

August 30th, 2007 at 12:25 pm by David Farrar

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Photo from Yahoo. And as usual please aim for wit, not vitriol.

UPDATE:

We may have a winner with this from Flash:

You have failed me for the last time, Peter.

Avada Kedavra!

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Miss Teen South Carolina

August 30th, 2007 at 11:50 am by David Farrar

If you have not already seen the video above, it is of Lauren Upton, Miss Teen South Carolina, giving the most incomprehensible answer to a question about why she thinks 20% of Americans can’t locate the US on a map.missmap1.gif

The Morning Toast has provided this helpful tube guide to explain.

Hat Tip: Boing Boing

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Well done UCSA

August 30th, 2007 at 8:01 am by David Farrar

Because I support voluntary membership of student associations, and because I have highlighted the muppets at VUWSA, some people conclude I am anti student association.  Far from it.

Today in the Press we have a good example of a student association doing something useful.  UCSA narrowly persuaded the Canterbury University Council to reject the Vice-Chancellor’s proposal to increase fees by 4.5% and by 9-8 they went for a CPI increase of 3.3% only.

Having served as a student rep on the Otago University Council, let me tell you that it is bloody rare to win a vote on Council, and even rarer to do it against the wishes of the Vice-Chancellor.

I suspect UCSA did a professional job of putting together a well researched case, lobbying  individual Council members, forming coalitions with allied interests etc, and their work paid off and they have saved students $575,000.

I imagine that UCSA has not been spending a lot of time debating whether Hamas or Fatah is the legitimate Government of Palestine.

If membership was voluntary and I was studying at Canterbury I would probably happily pay an $80 fee (yes I know it is zero but that is a different issue).  But if I was studying at Vic, would I pay $120 to VUWSA if I had a choice?  Certainly not on current efforts.

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Sex conviction rate drops to 45%

August 30th, 2007 at 7:20 am by David Farrar

The rate of conviction for sexual offences has dropped from 56% to 45% last year.  This is obviously a concern.

In an ideal world the conviction rate would be 100%.  By this I mean that every person charged is guilty and is found to be guilty.

Now the drop in the conviction rate can be due to two things:

1) A growing number of people who did commit a sexual offence are being charged and wrongly found to be not guilty

2) A growing number of people who did not commit a sexual offence are being charged and rightfully found to be not guilty

Both situations are not satisfactory.  It is extremely repugnant if any rapist gets off.

But it is also repugnant if innocent people are being charged, because the Police now prosecute regardless of the strength of the complaint.

Sadly, I doubt one will ever know whether situation (1) or (2) is more common.

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Not so Super

August 30th, 2007 at 7:08 am by David Farrar

The concept of a card for Seniors is not a bad one. In fact it was National’s policy in 2005, as well as NZ First. But it sounds like the implementation leaves a lot to be desired:

Lower Hutt Grey Power treasurer John Cable has a simple message for SuperGold card architect Winston Peters, the NZ First leader. “He could have done better.”

Ted Duffill, immediate past-president of the Hastings-Havelock North branch of the lobby group, was more abrupt.

“It’s the biggest con job since Orson Welles broadcast that the world was being invaded by Martians,”

“It’s disappointing,” said Mr Cable, 83. “… It’s going to go down with pensioners like a lead balloon because of the very narrow range of things it offers.”

Mr Duffill, a Korean War veteran, said his local Grey Power booklet offered better deals, and he was bemused by the “veterans” SuperGold card, which carried no special benefits.

“The only difference is that it has a ‘v’ on it. I asked why would I want a card with a ‘v’ on it, and they said, ‘So people know you are a veteran’.”

Hope Winston wasn’t relying on the Gold Card to get him re-elected.

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Naked DSL

August 30th, 2007 at 6:57 am by David Farrar

The Commerce Commission has set a price for wholesale Naked DSL of $44.19 in urban areas and $76.16 in rural areas.

Currently if you have broadband you will be paying around $40 for the phone line and around $40 for the broadband so total cost of $80 a month.  Now companies such as Ihug and Orcon will be able to sell you a broadband only package for some margin on top of $44.19 (has to also cover backhaul etc).  But might get retail prices of $60 or so.

Some who do Naked DSL just don’t want a landline at all, as they do all calling on their cellphones.  Others will use Voice over IP services.

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Another one supporting the Goff theory

August 30th, 2007 at 6:43 am by David Farrar

Yesterday Audrey Young blogged, wondering if the Moore article was a front for a Goff leadership campaign.  Today John Armstrong also puts out that theory.

It would also explain why Goff went so troppo over Air New Zealand.

Personally I don’t think there is any realistic chance at all that Clark will be rolled before the election.  It doesn’t matter how low in the polls Labour gets – the three dominant factions all support Clark so she is safe as houses.

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And yet another poll rigging

August 29th, 2007 at 10:05 pm by David Farrar

Inventory2 blogs about another online (NZ Herald) poll rigged, and for the 5th time in a row, hey in favour of Labour.

The poll had Key leading Clark by 2:1 consistently all of Tuesday.  Then a huge splurt of votes today with 85% of them being for Clark.

The Herald should publish the IP addresses of any mass multiple voting.

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Jim vs Mike

August 29th, 2007 at 9:58 pm by David Farrar

Like an ageing Rocky, Jim Anderton has jumped into the fray to defend Helen against Mike Moore.  Anderton, who obviously still has unresolved issues from the 80s, exhaled:

“One reason Labour failed so badly in the Moore era was that they were poll-driven fruitcakes who believed coups were some sort of management plan for a political party. Now he wants to start another coup.”

Mr Anderton said all Mr Moore every wanted was the limelight and he was a bitter failure.

Yes Helen of course is famous for taking no interest in the polls.  And Helen has never been involved in coups, except the last two.  What Anderton is actually referring to is the Lange/Rowling coup – he still isn’t over it 25 years later.

Moore responds with:

He said Mr Anderton was the failure and cited his own achievements including heading the World Trade Organisation, getting closer economic relations with Australia and exporting education.

Mr Anderton was creating a diversion; “as for failing how many seats has he got in Parliament? I took us within a couple of seats of Government once.”

He wrote a book that went to three editions; “when was the last time Jim Anderton had an idea that wasn’t forgotten in 1950?… there is one thing I do envy him and that’s his hair.”

Mr Moore said he was a more staunch supporter of Labour than Mr Anderton every was and had always voted for the party.

Meanwhile in a break from the fun, Audrey Young looks at why Moore spoke out after so many years of diplomatic silence.   One theory is:

It is possible he was sickened by the recent Labour attacks on John Key – and Clark’s “plausible denability” over them.

Indeed.  Or:

Moore’s breach of his own rigidly enforced discipline is not a joke gone wrong. It is part of a longer-term game.

It makes the Opposition’s criticism of Clark more credible and it makes internal criticism of Clark a little easier to raise – when Goff’s time comes.

So Moore spoke out either because (a) he was genuinely disgusted with Clark’s behaviour, or because  (b) he is trying to help Phil Goff roll Clark.  My God, what a choice.

I choose (c) – both of the above!

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The wonders of genetic modification

August 29th, 2007 at 6:47 pm by David Farrar

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A picture is worth 1,000 words thanks to Stuff.

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The nature of the attacks on Key

August 29th, 2007 at 10:20 am by David Farrar

Lest anyone think I am saying that only Labour attacks MPs from other parties, on non parliamentary issues, let me be clear that of course most parties do this from time to time.

But a significant difference with what happened last week, is the lack of any “aggrieved parties”.  I’ll explain what I mean.

Take David Benson-Pope and tennis balls.  Neither National nor ACT got their staff to trawl through DBP’s background, interview former students and try and actively dig up dirt on him.  What happened is a couple of his former students approached MPs after they thought he was being hypocritical on bullying.  Sure the MPs then raised the issue in Parliament, but it was after being approached.  And then the real reason it became such a huge issue was DBP denied it all and literally a dozen people came forward to contradict what he said.

Or take the case of David Parker.  Parker incidentally resigned before there was even a single question time on his actions.  Investigate ran their story – and it was based on there being a very aggrieved party who came forward.

Dover Samuels was sacked from Cabinet when a relative alleged inappropriate behaviour in the past.  His corridor urinating antics also became an issue because the guy he pissed on, told people and it made the media.

So in all these cases the issues originated with a disgruntled person who felt the MP had behaved inappropriately.  Certainly MPs made decisions as to whether or not they would follow the issue up, and ask questions on it (and that judgement has not always been sound) but these were scandals that came to MPs, rather than the MPs went out digging dirt, trying specifically to invent a scandal.

The attacks on Key have been missing this previously obligatory factor.  There is no leaky home owner saying they hold Key responsible for their leaky home.  There is no former Equiticorp employee alleging Key devised the H Fee and left him to take the blame for it.  The only person writing letters about where Key lived in 2002 is Labour President Mike Williams.

What we apparently have is the Labour Party Cabinet actively going out there and trying to dig up dirt on John Key.  They are no passive recipients of allegations from members of the public.  They are the manufacturers, the wholesalers and the retailers in this supply chain.

Now that is something we have not had before.  It is quite unprecedented.

So when Richard Long writes in the Dom Post:

This desperation for any scrap of information, any document that can be flourished against him, seems to put into context the burglary of Mr Key’s home while he was on a well-publicised overseas holiday, and the mysterious raids on his home garbage bins, detected by neighbours on several occasions. These were not homeless people, looking for discarded Parnell food portions. They were well-dressed operatives who took off swiftly when their activities were detected.

It does make you wonder.  Now Long himself goes on to say he thinks Clark would have nothing to do with this, but certainly Labour would not refuse to use the fruits of such activities as they did with the Brash e-mails.  And again you wonder how exactly is Labour trying to dig up dirt, now it has obviously decided to do so.  It it merely doing Google searches?  I suspect not.

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Rates Report

August 29th, 2007 at 7:30 am by David Farrar

I’ve not yet had time to read the full report.  I intend to do so.

Stuff reports an average 8% per year increase is predicted. To be fair to local Govt, central Govt grows far more than this.  But they get extra revenue from bracket creep, while Councils actually have to put the rates level up.

One area I plan to cover more is all the land which does not get rated, ranging from churches to Govt land to some Maori land.For some Councils this is a major issue, as it means all the other land has to be rated even higher.

The notion of local referenda for any increases beyond population and inflation growth is worty of support in my opinion.

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Paid Parental Leave for a year

August 29th, 2007 at 6:52 am by David Farrar

There are times when the term “Labour lite” is not 100% inaccurate.  Oh there will be plenty of differences between National and Labour in policy areas such as education, tax, ACC, housing, industrial relations, law & order (to name a few) but I have to say I am disappointed to see National uncritically welcome the proposal to throw half a billion a year at extending paid parental leave.

I understand the politics that no party wants to appear unsupportive to parents and families, but I have to say I do believe families first call should be on themselves, and only those genuinely in need should fall back on the state.  There are dangers in having a huge proportion of the population reliant on taxpayer money.

Quite frankly if two lawyers decide to breed, I’m not convinced that people who earn far less than both the father and mother, should have to pay more tax, so they don’t have to survive on only $250,000 for a year.

I’m all for family support, so long as it is targeted.

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Air NZ Profit

August 29th, 2007 at 6:42 am by David Farrar

It’s good to see Air NZ making a good profit.  I always chuckle at it, because for years Air NZ have predicted doom and gloom for the airline unless the Commerce Commission caves in and allows them to do a deal with Qantas (which would almost kill competition).  I’m glad the bluff has been played, and we still have competition and a profitable Air NZ.

Fran O’Sullivan also makes the valid point that the EPMU deserves some plaudits for reaching an agreement with Air NZ which has allowed it to increase productivity and gain more engineering work for other airlines.

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South Park legal downloads

August 29th, 2007 at 6:30 am by David Farrar

This is the way of the future.  Viacom has agreed to make South Park available legitimately online for no charge, but will be profit sharing on advertising from the websites you download them from.

They have correctly worked out that we are now in a global market and the moment an episode comes out in the US, people all around the world want to view it.  And the only way to do that has been illegal file sharing, so of course people  do that rather than wait six months.

And talking of downloads Peter Griffin blogs on how DRM may be in its dying days, with Walmart now offering DRM free music.   And the irony is that the NZ Parliament is about to pass a law giving special legal protection to DRM technology.

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A return to Muldoonism

August 29th, 2007 at 6:22 am by David Farrar

A number of commentators over the years have suggested that the tactics and style of government practised by Helen Clark has started to resemble Muldoonism at its worse.

This view is now shared by former Labour Party Leader Mike Moore.  And this is an unprecedented attack on Clark by her predecessor.  While Clark and Moore have never been friendly since she rolled him in 1993, they made up in 1996, he had her support to become WTO Director-General,  and since he has been back in NZ, he has not criticised her directly, he has more commented on policy.  One can only conclude the mud smearing of the last week was too much for him to stomach, having endured it himself from Muldoon.

Moore writes:

In the 1980s, a cruelly funny cartoon appeared of David Lange. It had four panels – the first displayed a smiling picture of David, then slowly, over the next two panels, David’s face morphed into a picture of Roger Douglas.

I’m expecting a cartoon of Helen Clark to appear, morphing into an angry Robert Muldoon. He used SIS files on opponents, perfected the nasty technique of personally destroying opponents, intimidating the media (not that you have to muzzle sheep), and used the levers of Government to create stunts, diversions, and buy votes in marginal seats.

This politics of personal destruction is fearful. Why is Labour so good at it? Because we practise on each other.

Helen Clark is superb at it, she’s destroyed more National leaders than any other Labour leader. Come to think about it, she’s dispatched more Labour leaders than anyone else too.

Muldoon’s circle of close mates got smaller and weaker as he got older too. Exactly what does the “consort” Judith Tizard and the legion of Ministers outside Cabinet actually do?

Perhaps it’s good they don’t do much. They manage the remarkable feat of being self-important, expensive, trivial and irrelevant at the same time.

In case one thinks Moore only bags Labour:

John Key just has to keep his head down, and is happy to campaign as “Labour with tax cuts”, sort of like playing a vacuous political air guitar. As for Winston Peters, our Foreign Minister still seems to hate foreigners.

He can’t speak about hospitals without talking of Third World diseases and Third World people, the Central Bank policies are about, he claims, promoting speculation and money-lenders (code word), Dubai investment in New Zealand is naturally bad, but at least the anti-Asian and Muslim stuff has been shelved for a while.

Rodney Hide seems to have rejected capitalism for narcissism and is destined to be a talk-back celebrity. The Greens and the Maori Party have locked up their small market niche and go unquestioned by the media.

The major political parties don’t scrutinise them or test them in Parliament because they will decide who forms the Government. Labour could still form the next Government, even if we get fewer votes than National. Under MMP, a silver and a bronze trumps a gold medal.

A Foreign Minister who hates foreigners!!

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$7 million Xtra refund

August 29th, 2007 at 6:12 am by David Farrar

Xtra is giving one week’s free Internet, estimated to be worth $6 million, as compensation for its e-mail problems, plus a $1 million donation to charity.

That’s a significant gesture, and good on them for doing it.  But as Consumers’ say it was  a big problem – e-mail outages if they occur must be minutes or hours at the worst, not days.  And from all accounts the “false positive” rate for e-mails incorrectly marked as spam has skyrocketed which is also a serious problem.

Having said that, the new package of services such as virtual backup of files looks to be pretty damn good, and will set a welcome challenge to others.

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Protection Orders

August 28th, 2007 at 9:03 pm by David Farrar

Having in the last couple of years the motivation to discover more about how protection and harrassment orders work, I am extremely supportive of the review which slams the current system – and it is a shame Judges have rushed out to defend it.

Far too many women (yes I know it is not only women) especially live in fear of ex partners who routinely ignore protection orders, and face little or no sanction for it.  And some fo them are dead.

Putting aside for now, the situation where there are children involved (as I am aware false accusations can and do get made), I think the process should be much easier for someone to get a protection order, but most of all breaches of them should have near automatic penalties.

If someone breaches a protection order the Police should have it an assigned priority to go find the person, and lock them up overnight until they go before a Judge first thing.

And if they breach it a second time they should be given a custodial sentence to protect the protectee.

Now if kids are involved, one does need a different regime, because such orders can mean they block a parent from their kids – which should be a last resort.  But if there are no kids involved, then I would be very hard line.

The sad reality is so called protection orders rarely do protect, as this case study in the Herald shows.    The Herald editorial is not too far from my own views.

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Labour Party advertising deemed misleading

August 28th, 2007 at 5:09 pm by David Farrar

The Advertising Standards Complaints Board has upheld a complaint [3 MB rtf file] against Labour’s online advertising for Kiwisaver.

The complaint was about the advertisement saying “Kiwisaver + New Zealand Super’ ‘Labours Guarantee for your retirement” when KiwiSaver is not guaranteed by the Government.

The finding:

It [The Board majority] stated that the use of the word “guarantee” without further qualification in reference to a scheme that dealt with the financial security of consumers contained a level of ambiguity that was likely to mislead.  The linkage of KiwiSaver with New Zealand Super was, in the opinion of the majority likely to convey an overall impression of guaranteed financial security. 

Accordingly, the majority of the Complaints Board considered that it was not clear in the advertisement that the “guarantee” reference was to a policy only, not the security of KiwiSaver as an investment scheme. Therefore a majority of the Complaints Board ruled that the advertisement was in breach of Rule 2 of the Code of Ethics.

Now these false misleading advertisements were not funded by the Labour Party.  It was in fact an advertisement funded by the taxpayer for the Parliamentary Labour Party.  Now I have no problems with parliamentary parties spending some of their budget on advertising (so long as it is not electioneering) but it would be nice if the ads we fund were at least truthful.

The Rule the ads are deemed to have broken is:

Rule 2: Truthful Presentation - Advertisements should not contain any statement or visual presentation or create an overall impression which directly or by implication, omission, ambiguity or exaggerated claim is misleading or deceptive, is likely to deceive or mislead the consumer, makes false and misleading representation, abuses the trust of the consumer or exploits his/her lack of experience or knowledge. (Obvious hyperbole, identifiable as such, is not considered to be misleading).

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