Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

General Debate 30 March 2015

March 30th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

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.


General Debate 29 March 2015

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

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.


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.”



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.


General Debate 28 March 2015

March 28th, 2015 at 8:00 am by David Farrar

The BurnOuts at the Beeb (TopGear & Clarkson)

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

By John Stringer


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.”

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.

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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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?


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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General Debate 27 March 2015

March 27th, 2015 at 10:23 am by David Farrar

Australia needs a three strikes law

March 27th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

One of Victoria’s most notorious criminals – the man who brutally raped and murdered Jill Meagher in 2012 – has been found guilty of raping three other women after being released on parole for a string of other heinous crimes.

He was on parole?

Two of the victims, a Dutch backpacker and a St Kilda sex worker, were raped just months before Bayley raped and murdered Meagher. At the time he was out on parole after serving time for a string of sex worker rapes in 2000.

Bayley now has more than 20 convictions for rape.

Incredible. No one should ever get the chance for more than three convictions. He did at least 10 rapes over 12 years.

Now in NZ a third rape would get 20 years with no parole, or preventive detention.


King Richard III

March 26th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A villainous Plantagenet monarch was transformed into the People’s King – for a few days at least – as thousands witnessed Richard III turn in his graves.

They were respectfully solemn, with only muted cheering and applause along the winding 20km route through verdant middle-England countryside as Richard’s recently unearthed mortal remains were transported with military-timed and detailed pomp and ceremony behind two armoured medieval knight outriders for his public reinterment in a 2.5 million ($5 million) cathedral tomb.

His story, and bones, had come full circle. Richard now lies in repose barely 50m across the lane from where he was found, famously twisted and evidently buried with scant ceremony, beneath a Leicester carpark, more than 500 years after he was slain at the battle of Bosworth Field.

His body was ripped asunder by 11 ferocious blows as his crown was torn from him that August day in 1485 by Henry Tudor’s forces after trusted allies, prudently sensing which way the wind was blowing amid the melee, deserted him at a key dynasty-changing, Machiavellian moment.

Good to have a King of England no longer buried underneath a car park.

Richard III is not one of the great kings of English history, but he was a formidable warrior. He killed many in the battle in which he was slain.

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General Debate 26 March 2015

March 26th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 25 March 2015

March 25th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 24 March 2015

March 24th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Seattle’s minimum wage law

March 23rd, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Western Journalism reports:

In a few weeks, Seattle’s new, highest in the country, $15 per hour minimum wage will go into effect. Like many liberal policies, it was passed by City Hall with the best of intentions. The only problem is, in the end, it may do more harm than good for many.

Private businesses, unlike government entities (which, in theory, can always raise taxes or borrow), must make more than they spend in order to pay the rent, make payroll, keep the lights on, pay their business taxes, and, heaven forbid, have some left over for the owners and investors who are taking the risk and putting in the long hours.

Earlier this month, Seattle Magazine asked, Why Are So Many Seattle Restaurants Closing Lately?:

The magazine went on to report that one “major factor affecting restaurant futures in our city is the impending minimum wage hike.” Anthony Anton, president and CEO of Washington Restaurant Association, told the magazine, “It’s not a political problem; it’s a math problem.” He estimates that restaurants usually have a budget breakdown of about 36 percent for labor, 30 percent for food costs, and 30 percent to cover other operational costs. That leaves 4 percent for a profit margin. When labor costs shoot up to say 42 percent, something has to give.

Restaurants can take actions to adjust, such as raise their prices, acquire cheaper ingredients, and cut their operating hours and labor force. However, all those actions generate reactions from the public which can still lead to lower revenues for the restaurant and, for some, the decision to close their doors.

This is no surprise.


General Debate 23 March 2015

March 23rd, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

The Bike Helmet Paradox

March 22nd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Atlantic reports:

On that note, imagine we had to wear helmets while jogging. We would be safer. The helmets would inevitably save some lives, even if only by deflecting an occasional errant meteorite. But if we started ticketing all un-helmeted joggers, or giving stern looks to people running without helmets, what would that do for public health on the whole?

The question is does compulsory helmets cause more health harm than it prevents?

Yes, there are studies that show that if you fall off a bicycle at a certain speed and hit your head, a helmet can reduce your risk of serious head injury. But such falls off bikes are rare — exceedingly so in mature urban cycling systems. On the other hand, many researchers say, if you force or pressure people to wear helmets, you discourage them from riding bicycles. That means more obesity, heart disease and diabetes. And — Catch-22 — a result is fewer ordinary cyclists on the road, which makes it harder to develop a safe bicycling network. The safest biking cities are places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where middle-aged commuters are mainstay riders and the fraction of adults in helmets is minuscule.

Bike share schemes would work far better if you can just grab a bike, even if you don’t have a helmet.

In an ideal world, everyone wears a helmet, and it doesn’t make them any less inclined to bike. It doesn’t mess up their hair before a date, and cost them their one shot at true love. They bike unaffected, to their sustainable local food markets to buy fresh fish, nuts, and wine; before biking home to their loving families. There are wide, accessible bike lanes on every road, and a gentle breeze is ceaselessly at everyone’s backs. 

But it’s not an ideal world, and we should take every chance to question practices and adapt to the ways people really work.

I don’t think helmets should be compulsory. They’re a good idea, but people should judge their own risk.


General Debate 22 March 2015

March 22nd, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 21 March 2015

March 21st, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Is it fraud to sell tickets to an event you don’t have permission for?

March 21st, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Tickets for a Monster Slide event in Brisbane – with links to the controversial New Zealand attraction – are being sold without council approval.

Many sessions appear to have sold out for the Monster Slide Australia Tour to begin in a fortnight on Queensport Rd in the suburb of Murarrie, according to online ticketing agency Dash Tickets.

However, it is unclear whether the three-day event will go ahead after the Brisbane City Council confirmed the giant slip’n slide course had not been granted the necessary permits.

Is there a case for a fraud prosecution if an event promoter is selling tickets to an event which they don’t yet have approval to do? You should sell tickets once you have consent, not before.

Considering that they have yet to refund tickets for the Wellington event, it could be seen as a cynical money making ploy. Sell tickets to an event, fail to get consent, and rely on not everyone to ask for a refund. Or if they all do ask, then just liquidate the company after you have paid yourself a salary from it.

The company running the Australian event, Monster Slide Australia Pty Ltd, is confident it will be given the green light.

It is associated with Monster Slide in New Zealand, which was operated by company Trill Productions and its director Jamie Templeton.

Of course.

Many of tickets, costing up to $49, have been sold on the Dash Tickets website for the Easter event. Several sessions are sold out.

I also wonder if Dash Tickets should be investigated. Would they sell tickets knowingly to a fictitious event, so long as they get their cut? On the basis of two cancelled events in NZ and no refunds, then there are grounds to allege they should know that this is not a reputable event.

Monster Slide Australia Pty Ltd operations director Hannah Lockett said she was confident the event would happen.

It had “crucial” support from residents and local businesses, she said.

“The event is still in the final stages of getting its permit, however it’s important to note we have done months of research and planning and are working closely with the council on this and it is completely common for events to go on sale during these final stages,” Lockett said.

Really? What other events sell tickets before they have the consents for them?


Another cancer cure charlatan

March 20th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Elle called her ‘The most inspiring woman you’ve met this year’. She also won Cosmopolitan’s Fun Fearless Female award for social media.


Single mother Belle Gibson supposedly beat a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer, shunning conventional medicine and focussing on a healthy diet. She then published a book and developed an app that told her story and showed others how to be healthy. 

The story of her health battle is one that we now know was at best embellished and at worst was an outright lie.

Elle and Cosmo have written insider accounts of their experience with the young Brisbane mother… both admit to being thoroughly duped.

The question is why did they not verify her claims? If you’re going to promote someone who claims they have miraculously beaten cancer, shouldn’t you at least ask to see their medical records to verify they ever had it?

Of their feature, Elle wrote

“When the December issue came out, we had a ton of positive feedback from both long-time and new supporters of Gibson. And then we got this anonymous email:

It has come to my attention that you have published a story about a girl I have known my whole life. Her name is Belle Gibson, creator of The Whole Pantry app + book. And a so called “Terminal cancer patient”. Unfortunately, there are a few things you might need to know before you consider publishing more about this woman. She’s a compulsive liar. In fact, she got so tangled in her own web of lies living in Brisbane, she moved to Melbourne to start a new life of lies – “the cancer lie” this time. For one – This girl isn’t 26 years old.

She was born in 1991, class of 08, Wynnum High School in Queensland. My younger brother was in her form class. Secondly, she never had/nor does she have currently any form of cancer (Where’s the proof?). I’ve known Belle since her childhood (and am close with her mother) and she has always had a problem with fabricating stories from nothing on a regular basis. It’s one thing to act as if she can cure “her cancer” by eating organic (which simply isn’t true) but to give false hope to people who are ACTUALLY fighting cancer is nothing short of evil. You MUST be aware of this before you publish stories about this woman. She is selling her fake sob story in order to profit from her app + book sales. She is a wolf in sheep’s clothing & a master manipulator.

Sincerely, Sick of seeing her lies published :)

Editorial staff at Elle and Cosmo (which was passed the email by fellow Bauer publishing colleagues from Elle) both say they attempted to verify details of the email to no avail and so wrote it off. Staff at Elle believed it was “a bunch of lies”.

The awful thing is that people who actually have cancer may have been duped, given false hope, or worse decided not to have conventional treatments. This short of charlatan can kill people.

Maybe the two magazines should have not ignored the e-mail, but instead decided to try and verify Belle’s claims, rather than the e-mail’s claims.

Her story of beating the odds and becoming empowered again through her health transformation touched people in much the same way that many of us were touched by The Wellness Warrior, Jessica Ainscough.

Ainscough gained a huge following and a book deal by sharing her personal journey towards health.

When I spoke to her one year ago, the 29-year-old, I was told, was in “recovery mode”. 

Her story and determination were inspiring, but it soon emerged that her cancer had in fact not diminished but become more aggressive. Like her mother who took a similar alternative therapies route and died of cancer in 2013, after seven years battling the disease, Jess tragically lost her battle and died on February 26 this year.

If you think organic fruit can cure cancer, good on you. But don’t do it as a substitute for conventional treatment. Do it as a supplement. Surgery and radiation therapy can remove cancer or give you more years.


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General Debate 20 March 2015

March 20th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 19 March 2015

March 19th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 18 March 2015

March 18th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel