Party leaders on “family” issues

September 1st, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Family First have done a very interesting table showing the positions of the nine party leaders on 35 different moral, family and social issues.

It is perhaps no surprise that Colin Craig’s views align with Family First on 34 of 35 issues. 2nd is Winston Peters who is consistent on 27/35 issues.

Some of the issues:

  • Define marriage as one man and one woman – only Craig and Peters in support, all others opposed
  • Allow polygamy – Key, Peters, Craig opposed, Turei and Whyte undecided, others no response
  • Income splitting for parents – Whyte, Craig, Flavell, Peters, Dunne in favour. Key undecided. Turei, Harawira, Cunliffe opposed
  • Decriminalise abortion – Whyte, Turei, Dunne, Cunliffe support. Key, Criag, Peters oppose.
  • Decriminalise euthanasia – Whyte, Cunliffe support. Key partially support. Craig, Dunne opposed. Turei, Harawira, Peters undecided
  • Decriminalise cannabis – Whyte, Turei, Harawaira support. Cunliffe partially support. Craig, Flavell, Key, Peters Dunne oppose
  • Raise drinking and purchase alcohol age to 20 – Craig, Flavell support. Peters partial support.All others opposed
  • Liberalise Easter trading laws – Whyte, Key, Dunne support.
  • Three strikes legislation – Whyte, Craig, Key support. Peters partial support. Turei, Harawira, Cunliffe, Flavell, Dunne oppose

The degree of agreement with Family First for each leader is:

  1. Colin Craig 34/35
  2. Winston Peters 27/35
  3. John Key 11/35
  4. Hone Harawira 10/35
  5. Peter Dunne 10/35
  6. Metiria Turei 8/35
  7. Jamie Whyte 8/35
  8. Te Ururoa Flavell 5/35
  9. David Cunliffe 4/35

My personal alignment is 7/35 or 20%.

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Monday Motivator – Anawhata Wonder

September 1st, 2014 at 11:51 am by Richard Hume

Monday Motivator 29

Anawhata Wonder, Anawhata Beach, New Zealand

Anawhata is a stunning beach out on Auckland’s West Coast and is only accessible by foot. On this particular evening waiting till the sun had fully set paid off as I was treated to a spectacular display of light.

Click on the image for a larger view of this photograph.

Cheers

Richard [richardhume.com]

YouTube: Timeless – A Panoramic Journey

 

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Two killed at Ashburton WINZ

September 1st, 2014 at 11:51 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Two people have been shot dead by a balaclava-clad gunman at a Work and Income office in Ashburton.

The gunman entered the office on the corner of Cass and Moore streets, and fired several shots before fleeing on a bike.

He was last seen heading towards the Ashburton river. 

A source confirmed to Fairfax Media that one person was shot dead on site and another died at Ashburton Hospital. A third person remained in hospital in a critical condition, the source said.

The Ashburton Guardian quoted a witness who was in the building when the shots were fired.

The witness said a man shot two women. He believed they were both Work and Income staff members, the newspaper reported.

How terrifying and horrific for WINZ staff in Ashburton, and all their colleagues around the country. My thoughts are with them all.

I hope the person who did this is apprehended, convicted, and not eligible for parole on their life sentence for a very very long time.

I’d ask people not to politicise this tragedy, but just to mourn those killed, and have sympathy for their colleagues.

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Google Drones are coming

September 1st, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Google has made a big bet developing airborne drones capable of delivering anything from candy to medicine – and has been testing the flying vehicles on a Queensland farm on the Darling Downs.

Google X, a division of the US-based technology company dedicated to making major technological advancements, tested Project Wing near Warwick earlier this month, the first time “non-Googlers” had been involved.

Google X director Astro Teller said Project Wing’s goal was ultimately to build a system for delivering small and medium sized packages within minutes to anyone, using self-flying vehicles.

Bring it on.

“There’s no reason we should all have a power drill in our garage when, at any one time, the world is using one hundredth of a per cent of its power drills,” he said from the company’s headquarters in California.

“Also, there are situations like emergency response after a flood, or an earthquake, or a tornado, where bringing medicine or other supplies to people who are in need can be very valuable and time can be of the essence.

“We’re looking at the whole spectrum of value that can be delivered using self-flying vehicles.”

The prototype drone used in Queensland was a “tailsitter”, which allowed for vertical take-offs and landings and high speeds during flight – up to about 90km/h.

Very cool.

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Mallard on Chinese students

September 1st, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Most political parties turned out last week to the Great Immigration Debate at Eden Park in Auckland, where Labour MP Trevor Mallard said New Zealand was getting a reputation for letting in “fat, rich lazy, unintelligent Chinese students”.

If you know any Chinese students, make sure they know what Labour thinks of them.

UPDATE: Trevor Mallard has commented:

David the reason the media who were there didn’t pick up on it was that I was quoting Chinese Minister of Education in circa 2003 who felt we needed to lift our game because we were getting some of the wealthy but less talented students. His words not mine.

Useful clarification. I’d still make the point that repeating someone else’s words can sometimes be seen as agreement, depending on context.

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Oh dear

September 1st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The anti-smacking law is to blame for youth suicide, youth prostitution and even sexually-transmitted infections, a leading Conservative party candidate claims.

Maybe it is to blame for global warming also?

Edward Saafi, who is fifth on the Conservative list and would be elected if they break the 5 per cent threshold, has delivered the striking message during recent speeches at Tongan churches, Fairfax has learned.

“We are starting to recognise the incidence of suicide going up in Pacific communities, especially the Tongan community and people are starting to understand the lead-on from this legislation.

“Once you pass it, children, rather than doing what mum and dad says, they go and commit suicide. It opens up another thing they could do,” Saafi, who holds a doctorate in biomedicine, said.

Yeah those kids go off and commit suicide because they didn’t get disciplined! Inredible.

I’m not a fan of the anti-smacking law, and would amend it to allow light correctional smacking. But this argument is rather nuts.

Asked if he thought there was a direct link between the anti-smacking bill and youth suicide, Saafi said: “It’s just common sense, really. It’s our way of thinking parents have a role to look after their kids, including disciplining them. If the law tells the child that mum and dad can’t discipline you any more, they will do whatever they want, including these other alternatives like suicide. It’s quite appalling.”

Stephen Bell of Youthline, a youth mental health counselling service, said there was nothing to support Saafi’s views, and there had been a downward trend in youth suicide statistics since the law change in 2007.

“There is no evidence that links the two and I am quite horrified that someone will use the death of young people to try and rationalise or justify their particular view of the planet,” he said.

The overall suicide rate in 2011 was 10.6 per 100,000. That is the lowest it has been since 1985.

The youth suicide rate bounces around more. It was 19.3 in 2011 and was 15.2 in 2007.  But that was an unusually low year. For the last decade it has averaged in the 18s over every three year cycle.

Saafi said the legalisation of prostitution had led to children “sneaking off at night to get extra pocket money” and returning home with sexual infections, the treatment of which stretched their parents’ budgets as they paid medical bills.

First of all prostitution was not legalised. It has been legal for decades. It was solicitation that was legalised. And it is illegal for someone under 18 to be a prostitute.

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General Debate 1 September 2014

September 1st, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Drinnan on uneven responses on “rape culture”

September 1st, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

John Drinnan writes in the Herald:

It has been intriguing to see the reasoned response of opinion-makers to the Kill the Prime Minister song, and compare it with the witch-hunt against John Tamihere, which led to the broadcaster being sacked from RadioLive.

In this latest case, there have been questions about taxpayer support for the band @Peace, though this was unreasonable since the NZ On Air support was for the band, not the song. There was some chiding over the sexual references to the Prime Minister’s daughter, Steffi Key, and the obligatory cries of FFS. But overall, it was a sane response.

This was in marked contrast to the media storm that blew up over Tamihere, with the left approaching advertisers to withdraw from RadioLive and attacking Tamihere, Willie Jackson and anyone who dared suggest there were freedom of speech issues involved.

That issue came down to whether Tamihere asked the wrong questions of an unnamed young girl who called in to his and Jackson’s radio show over the Roastbusters allegations. While this person – Amy – has disappeared from sight, it appears that she was actually known to the broadcasters.

The transgressions were much less direct than those by @Peace. Admittedly, there wasn’t much that could be done to the band, which now seems to see how crass the song was. But songwriter Tom Scott is a talented individual and the telling off was all that was required.

However, when you compare the case with that of Tamihere, you can’t help but think the vigilantes are more concerned about who does wrong things, not their actual transgressions.

I agree. Tamihere and Jackson faced a massive backlash, an advertising boycott campaign, and worse.

While when it comes to the far far worse actions of @peace, the same suspects have just said they think the song is bad, but under no circumstances should they be ruled ineligible for taxpayer funding for their other songs. No boycott for them.

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SSC on Collins and Feeley

August 31st, 2014 at 3:38 pm by David Farrar

Iain Rennie, the State Services Commissioner put out a release this morning. In it he said:

“Any activity that undermines, or has the potential to undermine, the trust and confidence in the public service to impartially serve the interests of the government and New Zealanders is a matter of concern to me.”

 “It is important that Chief Executives and Ministers mutually support each other to carry out their respective roles, in order to work together to serve the best interests of New Zealand and New Zealanders. Ministers are entitled to hold public servants to high standards of trust and performance and, in turn, should respect the role the public service plays.”

“I am therefore extremely concerned by an allegation that a Minister has associated with third parties to discuss influencing my assessment of a Public Service Chief Executive.  If true, this would be wholly unacceptable.”

“I told the Prime Minister’s Office that Judith Collins had a positive view of Mr Feeley’s  performance through her time as Minister responsible for the Serious Fraud Office.”

The relevant Ministers are consulted at least annually on how they view the performance of their respective CE’s.  This hardly looks like a Minister who was unhappy with their CE.

“The Commission has reviewed its documentation and sought the recollections of staff responsible for the SFO portfolio at the time in coming to this view.  This includes the period following the date of the email in October 2011 released today by the Prime Minister.  Earlier in 2011, Judith Collins had raised with me the appropriateness of Mr Feeley’s consumption of a bottle of champagne following a media inquiry.

“It was appropriate that she spoke to me about this matter and my view on the matter was released publicly at the time.”

A key thing to note here is that the raising of the issue around the champagne bottle occurred well before the e-mail. There was no information relayed to the SSC after the conversation referred to in the e-mail.

“Any campaign to undermine my confidence in Adam Feeley’s performance was entirely ineffective and unsuccessful.  He was a strongly performing Chief Executive through his tenure for his work in transforming the SFO and vigorously pursuing criminal conduct in respect of finance company collapses.”

I would be very happy to consider Mr Feeley’s return to the Public Service in the future.”

The key thing again to note is that Collins gave Feeley positive performance appraisals, which is incongruous with the suggestion she was gunning for him.

 

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Ben Uffendell op ed in the Herald

August 31st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Ben Uffendell from The Civilian Party writes in the NZ Herald:

How you perceive this election really depends on your political allegiance.

If you’re a big National supporter, you’ve got nothing to worry about, and subsequently nothing to invest in.

If you hate National, there’s a high chance you think this is the most important election of our generation, that this is the most right-wing government in New Zealand history, and there’s a vague chance your house is bugged.

I envy you in your fantasy world, Martyn Bradbury, because if you’re absolutely anyone else, it’s boring.

Heh.

And it’s not just boring because it isn’t truly competitive; it’s boring because the issues I heard discussed on Thursday night were the same four or five issues I’ve heard discussed for the entirety of my life, and the changes being proposed in those areas – while significant in the context of the status quo – are actually very minor in the scale of possible change. Sometimes I just wish John Key would come out and say: “We’re selling it. We’re selling it all. Everything. To Burger King.”

McDonalds surely!

Perhaps I just wish our elections were more ambitious, less safe, bold, with no pale pastels.

There was a time when we had the courage and lack of foresight to completely overhaul our social and economic structures.

Whatever happened to that? We once had a Prime Minister who called an election while drunk. How have we fallen so far since then?

If it takes six years to balance a budget, and another six years to build some houses, then I’ll be long dead before anything exciting or significant happens.

Oh might not be that long. Think if there is a Government propped up by the Internet Mana Party and a Judge rules that Kim Dotcom can be extradited, meaning the decision then goes to the Minister of Justice.  Then you’ll have fireworks!

And if National or Labour don’t want to commit to actually changing anything, they could at least make us look interesting. Rebrand.

Get rid of the kiwi and replace it with a tiger or something. When we look at ourselves, do we really see a bird that can’t fly? Actually, maybe.

Or how about replacing the national anthem with something that has a smooth, hip-hop beat?

No one listens to the old one in their spare time, and half of it I don’t even understand what the words mean.

Hell, I don’t understand the Maori version, either.

Vote Civilian for a new national anthem!

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General Debate 31 August 2014

August 31st, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Hide on the election

August 31st, 2014 at 7:46 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

This election has been like watching the Bledisloe Cup. Just as the ball’s kicked off, the ball boys start a verbal. The cameras zoom in. The argument looks hot and bothered but it’s not the test.

The cameras stay fixed on the boys. Aargh.

We want the real game. That’s what we sat down for. Nicky Hager, Cameron Slater and Kim Dotcom are the ball boys in this election. They aren’t the game.

The real test is John Key versus David Cunliffe. At stake is who gets to run the government for three years.

We must decide whose judgment we want applied to the likes of the global financial crisis, the Canterbury earthquakes, the threat of international terrorism. It’s a big deal.

I wonder if even 10% of NZers could name a single policy released in the last two weeks?

Following September 20 either John Key or David Cunliffe will be Prime Minister. One will win and be running the country. The other will lose and be out on his ear.

It matters big time for the both of them. It matters big time for the country.

But whatever the result Kim Dotcom will still be facing extradition, Nicky Hager will be off writing his 2017 election bombshell and Cameron Slater will still be blogging.

The result doesn’t matter to them. They don’t run the country. We have had the sideshow. Let’s get back to the match that matters. Can we have our election back?

20 days to go.

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Herald on Herald and Slater

August 31st, 2014 at 7:12 am by David Farrar

Jared Savage writes:

Nearly three years ago, I wrote a front page story for the Weekend Herald which detailed how Adam Feeley, the head of the Serious Fraud Office, celebrated the criminal charges laid against Rod Petricevic by hosting a drinks function at which champagne belonging to Bridgecorp was served to SFO staff.

Judith Collins was the Minister in charge of the white collar crime agency and her staff did not return my calls before deadline, but promptly referred the matter to the State Services Commission after publication.

Blogger Cameron Slater wrote a post saying it was a “non story” but later changed his mind. To the best of my memory, I hadn’t ever spoken to “Whale Oil” before but contacted him as the story rolled into the next week.

So the Herald contacted Cameron, not vice-versa.

I knew he was well connected to Collins and was trying to find out what he knew.

At the same time, I received a few emails about what was happening inside the SFO office.

Most of it was flotsam and jetsam, interesting tidbits of unverified information or gossip which I decided against pursuing as angles.

I cut and pasted the content of some of those emails, to remove any possible identifying features, and forwarded them on to Slater. So information was shared, there was a bit of “horse trading”, we talked about developments as the story rolled along.

And in their own words they passed on unverified information and gossip to Whale Oil, for Cameron to run, in exchange for Cameron sharing inofmration with them in return.

This sometimes happens with journalistic sources and it’s naive to think otherwise. In total, I wrote six stories about the Feeley/champagne issue and Slater was not the source for any of them. I didn’t know that our conversations about Feeley were being shared with others, like PR man Carrick Graham – and that was naive of me to think otherwise.

Since then, I’ve kept in touch with Slater on-and-off over the years always armed with the knowledge that he comes with a right-wing agenda. There have also been some robust discussions about Herald stories which upset him, such as Luigi Wewege’s role in the Len Brown affair and Maurice Williamson’s links to Donghua Liu.

Journalists talk to all sorts of people about all sorts of stories, much of which is nothing more than rumour or innuendo. Our job is to sort the wheat from the chaff and publish what is accurate, fair and true.

And pass onto bloggers to publish that which isn’t true!

Now I actually agree with Jared. This is how the media world works. You trade information all the time. When I worked at Parliament I would constantly have discussions with journalists where we swapped information. As a blogger, this is still the case today.  Politics thrives and survives on this stuff. Helen Clark used to personally trade info and gossip with senior members of the press gallery on a regular basis. David Cunliffe’s closest advisor is a blogger at The Standard. His Chief of Staff has blogged at The Daily Blog. Three or four of his staff are former (possibly current) bloggers at The Standard.

And this is the point with the Hager book. He has selectively only shown the sharing of information between people on the “right” with Cameron Slater, to make it look like a conspiracy. It is no surprise that MPs and staffers sometimes talk to bloggers and share info with them, just as media themselves do. This is how it has happened for hundreds of years in politics.

I am not saying that means every individual action with regards to the sharing of information was wise or appropriate. Some clearly was not. But it was not a conspiracy or a concerted effort.  One could have published a breathless book on how the NZ Herald conspired with agents of Mark Hotchin to attack the Head of the SFO, and demand a Commission of Inquiry into the NZ Herald – if you were to take the least benign interpretation of the e-mails.

Again my point is for some consistency.

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Cameron Slater and the media

August 30th, 2014 at 3:11 pm by David Farrar

Collins2email

This is the e-mail released by the PM’s Office. Obviously it has impacted Judith Collins, but if you read the whole thing you’ll see it backs something I have said consistently.

Cameron deals with a huge range of people, including Labour MPs, Green MPs, and almost every media organisation in NZ. The book only showed you his interactions with people associated with National, but this e-mail includes media contact with no less than four different journalists. One specific quote:

I am maintaining daily communications with Jared Savage at the Herald and he is passing information directly to me that the Herald can’t run and so are feeding me to run on the blog.

Now let me say again that what Cam says in an e-mail is his interpretation of events. I regard Jared Savage as an excellent investigative reporter. But the e-mail does lead to questions being asked. How is media giving Cam stories, different to a press secretary doing so?

Now again what Cam has written is his interpretation. It may not be the literal truth of what Jared was doing. But here’s the thing – you need to be consistent. If you accept everything in the e-mails written by Cam as the literal truth, then the NZ Herald was feeding stories to Whale Oil, which they could not run in their newspaper. If you do not accept those e-mails as the literal truth, then why would you accept the ones about interactions with people in National as the literal truth?

Is the Herald going to say that everything Cameron wrote about his dealings with us is incorrect, yet everything else is correct?

Will other media subject Herald reporters and editors to the same level of inquiry that they have subjected others named in the hacked e-mails to?

As I said I have high regard for Jared Savage. The point I am making is consistency.

 

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Collins resigns

August 30th, 2014 at 12:05 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Judith Collins will lose her job in a matter of hours, the Herald understands.

Prime Minister John Key has changed his plans today in order to give a special media stand-up at 12.30pm.

Collins’ resignation comes after evidence emerged in the past 24 hours of her role in moves to discredit former SFO boss Adam Feeley.

It’s understood she has resigned in a bid to clear her name without damaging the election campaign.

My understanding is that there is no evidence that Judith Collins did do anything to discredit or pass on information about Adam Feeley. The e-mail is second hand, with someone else saying that Judith said she’ll pass on any information she has. As I have said many times in the past, taking everything said in e-mails between friends as a literal statement of the truth, rather than a mixture of bravado and exaggeration, is dangerous.

But kudos to Judith for apparently resigning, to stop this ongoing saga. A very very difficult call I am sure. My thoughts are with her. While the last six months has been a torrid time for Judith, I do think people will recall she achieved a huge amount as a Minister for five and a half years as Police, Corrections, ACC and  Justice Minister.

Judith Collins has announced:

This morning I informed the Prime Minister that I am resigning as a Minister from Cabinet.

A new allegation has come to light from an email conversation from 2011 between Cameron Slater and others suggesting I was undermining the then Director of the Serious Fraud Office. I was not party to this email or discussion and have only today been made aware of it.

“I absolutely and strongly deny this and any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour.  I am restrained in clearing my name while I am still a Minister inside Cabinet and I believe the right thing to do is to resign as a Minister so I am able to clear my name.

I have asked the Prime Minister for an Inquiry into these serious allegations so that my name can be cleared. I will, of course, cooperate with any Inquiry.”

“The Election should be focused on the issues that matter such as law and order, health, education and the economy and I do not want this matter to be a distraction for the Prime Minister or the National Party during the campaign.

“I am a strong advocate for the people of Papakura and I will continue to put the same passion and energy into representing them.

“I am getting on with my job as MP for Papakura and will campaign strongly for re-election this year.

The PM has said:

Prime Minister John Key today announced that Hon Judith Collins has resigned from Cabinet.

Mr Key says the resignation of Ms Collins followed the receipt of new information that raises allegations about Ms Collins’ conduct as a Minister.

“The relationship between a Minister and their Chief Executive is vital, and goes right to the heart of a trusted, effective government.

“This new information suggests Ms Collins may have been engaged in discussions with a blogger in 2011 aimed at undermining the then Director of the Serious Fraud Office. Ms Collins was the Minister responsible for the SFO at the time.

Mr Key released an email which had been recently been provided to his office.

“I have spoken with Ms Collins about the matters in the email, and she strongly denies any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour on her part.

“Ms Collins accepts these are serious allegations and that resigning as a Minister is the honourable step to take in these circumstances.

Mr Key says Ms Collins resignation takes effect immediately, and Hon Christopher Finlayson will be Acting Minister of Justice, Hon Craig Foss will be Acting Minister for ACC, and Hon Hekia Parata will be Acting Minister for Ethnic Affairs. 

 

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Williams suing NZ First

August 30th, 2014 at 11:45 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

NZ First MP Andrew Williams has started legal proceedings over being dumped from the party list ahead of the election.

Williams is seeking a declaration that the party breached its constitution when it determined the list, removing him as an electorate (East Coast Bays) and list candidate.

Williams had been ranked number 3 on the party list in 2011, and said he was given no reason for his demotion.

“I regret that I have no other option other than to take my party to Court to protect my reputation”, Williams said.

He had been “mistreated” by the party.

“I do not, however, wish to derail NZ First’s campaign, so I am asking for an urgent hearing following the election.

“As the matter is now before the Court, I do not intend to make further comment.”

Peters is notorious for not following his own rules. He unilaterally kicked Horan out, without even consulting his caucus.  Williams appears to have suffered the same lack of due process.

University of Otago law professor Andrew Geddis said the precedent in a case like this had ironically been set by Peters, when he was in the process of being dumped by National.

Do as I say, not as I do!

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Dowd lashes Obama

August 30th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Maureen Dowd writes in the NY Times:

As he has grown weary of Washington, Barack Obama has shed parts of his presidency, like drying petals falling off a rose.

He left the explaining and selling of his signature health care legislation to Bill Clinton. He outsourced Congress to Rahm Emanuel in the first term, and now doesn’t bother to source it at all. He left schmoozing, as well as a spiraling Iraq, to Joe Biden. Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, comes across as more than a messagemeister. As the president floats in the empyrean, Rhodes seems to make foreign policy even as he’s spinning it.

But the one thing it was impossible to imagine, back in the giddy days of the 2009 inauguration, as Americans basked in their open-mindedness and pluralism, was that the first African-American president would outsource race.

He saved his candidacy in 2008 after the “pastor disaster” with Jeremiah Wright by giving a daring speech asserting that racial reconciliation could never be achieved until racial anger, on both sides, was acknowledged. Half black, half white, a son of Kansas and Africa, he searchingly and sensitively explored America’s ebony-ivory divide.

He dealt boldly and candidly with race in his memoirs, “Dreams From My Father.” “In many parts of the South,” he wrote, “my father could have been strung up from a tree for merely looking at my mother the wrong way; in the most sophisticated of Northern cities, the hostile stares, the whispers, might have driven a woman in my mother’s predicament into a back-alley abortion — or at the very least to a distant convent that could arrange for adoption. Their very image together would have been considered lurid and perverse.”

Now the professor in the Oval Office has spurned a crucial teachable moment.

He dispatched Eric Holder to Ferguson, and deputized Al Sharpton, detaching himself at the very moment when he could have helped move the country forward on an issue close to his heart. It’s another perverse reflection of his ambivalent relationship to power.

He was willing to lasso the moon when his candidacy was on the line, so why not do the same at a pivotal moment for his presidency and race relations? Instead, he anoints a self-promoting TV pundit with an incendiary record as “the White House’s civil rights leader of choice,” asThe Times put it, vaulting Sharpton into “the country’s most prominent voice on race relations.” It seems oddly retrogressive to make Sharpton the official go-between with Ferguson’s black community, given that his history has been one of fomenting racial divides, while Obama’s has been one of soothing them.

Dowd is one of the most prominent liberal writers at the NY Times. When she is savaging Obama, you know things are bad for him.

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Police and electoral law

August 30th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Idiot/Savant at NRT blogs:

In 2007 Parliament passed the Electoral Finance Act. One of the changes it made to our electoral law, retained in the subsequent amendments, was to massively increase the penalties for electoral offences. The penalty for a corrupt practice was doubled, from one to two years imprisonment. That for an illegal practice was increased from a $3,000 to a $40,000 fine. The message was clear: Parliament took electoral offending seriously.

Meanwhile, police have stopped prosecuting them entirely.

According to an OIA sent via the FYI system, not a single case resulting from the last election or subsequent by-elections has resulted in prosecution. Instead, police have dealt with even clear cases of double voting with warnings. Eighteen months ago they hadn’t even done that, so its hard to see it as anything other than a conscious push to clear cases off the books, to tick the “resolved” box so the stats look good.

The police’s excuse is that offenders are mostly first-timers and that warnings are appropriate. That may be true in the case of double voters (but even so…). But its certainly not true in the case of political parties violating advertising and donations law.

The Police have failed to do anything for the 2005, 2008 and 2011 elections. Under my version of three strikes, they should be out, and prosecution should transfer to another entity. Even worse than their failure to investigate cases, is the fact they when they did investigate (in 2005) they totally misinterpreted the law, made the most basic errors, and didn’t even understand concepts such as strict liability.

It is time for things to change. When Parliament reviews the 2014 election, they should recommend that the Police no longer be the body to make decision on electoral law prosecutions. It should either go to Crown Law, or rest with the Electoral Commission itself. Also the Electoral Commission should have the power to issue minor fines for minor breaches.

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General Debate 30 August 2014

August 30th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Another Internet-Mana meltdown!

August 30th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

3 News reports:

The Internet Mana Party has had another media blowout, with Hone Harawira stopping an interview and walking off after just one question.

Mr Harawira refused to talk about his party’s U-turn on cannabis and would only take questions on a Te Tai Tokerau candidates’ debate.

He was once one of Parliament’s toughest opponents to cannabis, but Mr Harawira has flip flopped. Mana now wants to see decriminalisation – fitting with the preferred position of Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party.

Looks like $4 million doesn’t just buy you some candidates, but also some policies!

To understand how massive Hone’s u-turn is, consider that in March Hone said he wants to execute legal high sellers.

Also in March, the Herald reports:

Mr Harawira said he did not agree with Mr Dotcom’s policy that marijuana should be decriminalised.

Yet now he does. We knows who calls the shots now.

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Should rural broadband be funded by taxpayers or telcos?

August 29th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

National announced this week a further $100 million for regional broadband. I certainly welcome the investment, as I have welcomed the investment in fibre to 75% of NZ. I think there are overall benefits to NZ by having a fast connected country.

But there is one part of National’s policy I am not so comfortable with. The fibre to the home initiative is funded by the NZ Government, ie taxpayers. As I said, confortable to have some taxpayer investment in infrastructure.

But the $100 million for rural broadband will be funded by extending a levy on telecommunications companies. And this money will go from them, to possibly their competitors. I’m not so keen on this.

If there is a case for better rural broadband (and there is), then it should be funded by the Government (taxpayers), not by a levy on telcos.

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The Australian Citizenship Test

August 29th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Australia has a 20 question citizenship test, which you have to pass (at least 75% needed) to gain citizenship. I think NZ should do the same. It is a good way of ensuring new citizens understand the country they are joining.

News.com.au has published a practice test, which is copied below:

SECTION ONE: AUSTRALIA AND ITS PEOPLE

1. What do we remember on Anzac Day?

a. The landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli, Turkey

b. The arrival of the first free settlers from Great Britain

c. The landing of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove

2. What are the colours of the Australian Aboriginal flag?

a. Black, red and yellow

b. Green, white and black

c. Blue, white and green

3. Which official symbol of Australia identifies Commonwealth property?

a. The national anthem

b. Australia’s national flower

c. Commonwealth Coat of Arms

SECTION TWO: AUSTRALIA’S DEMOCRATIC BELIEFS, RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES

4. Which of these statements about Australia’s system of government is correct?

a. The Queen of Australia chooses people to form the Australian Parliament

b. The government is elected by the people

c. The Prime Minister chooses our Members of Parliament

5. Which of these is an example of freedom of speech?

a. People can peacefully protest against government decisions

b. Men and women are treated equally in a court of law

c. Australians are free to not follow a religion

6. Which of these statements about government in Australia is correct?

a. The government does not allow some religions

b. Government in Australia is secular

c. Religious laws are passed by parliament

7. Which of these is an example of equality in Australia?

a. Everyone follows the same religion

b. Men and women have the same rights

c. Everyone belongs to the same political party

8. Which of these is a responsibility of Australian citizens aged 18 years or over?

a. To attend local council meetings

b. To vote in elections

c. To have a current Australian passport

9. Which of these is a responsibility of Australian citizens aged 18 years or over?

a. To do local community service

b. To carry a passport at all times

c. To serve on a jury if called to do so

10. Which of these statements about passports is correct?

a. Australian citizens can apply for an Australian passport

b. Permanent residents can hold an Australian passport

c. Australian citizens need a passport and visa to return to Australia

SECTION THREE: GOVERNMENT AND THE LAW IN AUSTRALIA 

11. Which of these statements about voting in Australian elections is correct?

a. People are free and safe to vote for any candidate

b. Voting is by a show of hands

c. People must write their name on their vote

12. What happened in Australia on 1 January 1901?

a. The Australian Constitution was changed by a referendum

b. The Australian Constitution came into effect

c. The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps was formed

13. What is the name of the legal document that sets out the rules for the government of Australia?

a. The Australian Federation

b. The Australian Commonwealth

c. The Australian Constitution

14. What is a referendum?

a. A vote to change the government

b. A vote to change the Australian Constitution

c. A vote to change the Prime Minister

15. Which arm of government has the power to interpret and apply laws?

a. Legislative

b. Executive

c. Judicial

16. Which of these is a role of the Governor-General?

a. The appointment of state premiers

b. The signing of Bills passed by the Australian Parliament

c. The appointment of the Head of State

17. Which of these statements about state governments is correct?

a. All states have the same constitution

b. Each state has its own constitution

c. The states have no constitution

18. What is the name given to the party or coalition of parties with the second largest number of members in the House of Representatives?

a. The Government

b. The Opposition

c. The Senate

19. What is the name of a proposal to make a law in parliament?

a. Royal Assent

b. Bill

c. Debate

20. Who maintains peace and order in Australia?

a. Public servants

b. Police

c. Lawyers

I got 19 out of 20 correct. Did not know the colours of the Aboriginal flag.

Many of the questions could be used in NZ also.

The answers are over the break.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Huhne says growth is not the planet’s enemy

August 29th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Former UK Energy Secretary and ardent environmentalist Chris Huhne writes at The Guardian:

Until now the story of human prosperity has been all about cheap, abundant energy. However, something big has been happening. For the first time in history, we are growing richer while using less energy. That is unalloyed good news for budgets, incomes and the planet. We have reached a technological tipping point.

Technology is a solution to many environmental issues. Fibre for example will allow more people to work from home.

From the middle ages, living standards just edged up at a snail’s pace, and we did little damage to the planet, because growing forests absorbed carbon from wood burning. The population was small. We led lives that were, in Hobbes’ phrase, “nasty, brutish and short”. Then we started burning coal on a large scale in the 18th century, and the industrial revolution made the graph look like a hockey stick: suddenly incomes were doubling in decades, following centuries of stability. After allowing for inflation, real GDP in England and Wales doubled from 1830 to 1864, again by 1898, and again by 1951, despite two world wars.

Gross domestic product is a measure of activity, not welfare. But there is plenty of evidence of real progress. If life is better than death, this surge of growth was more good news. Male life expectancy at birth in England and Wales in 1841 was just 40 years. By 1950, it was 66. On the latest figures for 2012, it is now 79 for men and 83 for women.

This unprecedented prosperity and welfare was inextricably linked to the burning of fossil fuels, and therefore to the beginning of carbon emissions and global warming. And we are paying with the steady rise in carbon and temperatures compared with pre-industrial levels.

This is why so many green thinkers have rightly been suspicious of economic growth: the curve of rising living standards has been tracked by the curve of rising energy use from coal, oil and gas. The simple answer was green puritanism: change our lifestyle. Don the hair-shirt. Stop consuming more. Stop growth – and therefore stop pollution.

Precisely, what many have argued.

The good news is that we can increasingly see a future where technology does most of the change for us. Readers of the Digest of United Kingdom energy statistics will find an extraordinary table in the new edition: the two-century link between growth and energy has broken. The UK economy has doubled in real terms since 1985, but total energy consumption is exactly the same as it was in that year. Indeed, energy consumption has fallen since 1970 while the economy has nearly trebled in size.

I wonder what the figures for NZ are?

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SST analysis of three strikes

August 29th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has done an analysis of the three strikes legislation (which may be gone if the Government changes). As at the end of 2013, the stas are:

  • 1st strikes 3,721
  • 2nd strikes 29
  • 3rd strikes 0

It’s great to see so few second strikes, and that so far there have been no third strikes.

They have a profile of the 24 2nd strikers:

  • 100% have numerous prior convictions as adults. And these are not for minor offences. They include burglary, male assaults female, possession of offensive weapons, robbery, aggravated robbery, indecent assault, theft and many others.
  • 46% have prior convictions for ‘strike’ offences before Three Strikes taking effect on 1 June 2010. Because Three Strikes was not implemented ‘retrospectively’ these prior offences do not count as ‘strikes’ against their record.
  • The average age of second strikers is just under 26 years, and all but one are men. The youngest second striker is 19 years old, and the oldest 45 years old, at the time of second strike sentence.
  • 67% received a sentence of imprisonment for their first strike offence/s. Of those imprisoned, the average term was 14% of the maximum available. The average term imposed was 20 months.
  • 38% of first strikers committed their first strike offence while on bail, parole or while still subject to sentence.
  • 67% of second strikers committed their second strike offence while on bail, parole or while still subject to sentence.
  • 92% received a sentence of imprisonment for their second strike offence/s. Of those imprisoned for their second strike offence/s, the average term was 24% of the maximum available. The average term imposed was 35 months. The term imposed is served without parole or early release under the three strikes law.
  • 67% committed their second strike offence while on bail, parole or while still subject to sentence.

The fact that 38% of second strikers committed their first strike whole on bail or parole is telling.

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Auckland rates to go up up up

August 29th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Auckland Mayor Len Brown is talking of selling council carparks and naming rights to swimming pools to help balance the books in his new 10-year budget.

Mr Brown released his first draft of the budget yesterday, which contains overall rates rises of 2.5 per cent in the first two years and 3.5 per cent thereafter.

But due to a plan to reduce business rates at the expense of households, residential rates will increase by about 3.5 per cent in the first two years and 4.5 per cent over the next six years.

A Mayoral candidate in 2016 pledging that rates will not increase faster than inflation will easily win I’d say.

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