Corbyn advocated Argentina be allowed joint administration of Falklands

August 31st, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Jeremy Corbyn has been accused by veteran Simon Weston of “repugnant surrender” to Argentina for suggesting it should be given the right to jointly govern the Falklands Mr Corbyn, who opposed the invasion, said that there has to be a move towards “real peace” and that Britain must open a “dialogue” with Argentina over the future of the islands.

He said that under the arrangement the Falklands could retain their British nationality while a joint administration is put in place.

The comments were severely criticised by Mr Weston, who suffered 46 per cent burns after the RFA Sir Galahad was bombed during the 1982 conflict.

Mr Weston said: “It is a repugnant idea. I don’t see why it should happen given that the Argentines never had the islands. They have no right to them.

“It could cause civil war again by emboldening the Argentinians. It frightens me enormously because he claims to be such a supporter of democratic freedoms while what he is suggesting throwing the Falkland islanders right to democracy out.

“I don’t ever see him winning an election because his policies and his attitudes just won’t wash with the British public.”

It is up to the people of the Falklands to decide who they want to be governed by. In their 2013 referendum, 99.8% of the population voted to remain British, on a turnout of 91.9%. But Corbyn would ignore that, and give Argentina joint control.

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A strong team

August 31st, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

It meant players of the quality of Charles Piutau, Israel Dagg and Cory Jane all missed out, with Piutau the unluckiest of the lot after some compelling All Blacks form this year.

It says something about the strength of NZ Rugby when Cory Jane and Israel Dagg can’t make the top 30.


Hookers: Dane Coles (Hurricanes/Wellington), Keven Mealamu (Blues/Auckland), Codie Taylor (Crusaders/Canterbury).

Props: Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders/Canterbury), Charlie Faumuina (Blues/Auckland), Ben Franks (Hurricanes/Hawke’s Bay), Owen Franks (Crusaders/Canterbury), Tony Woodcock (Blues/North Harbour).

Locks: Brodie Retallick (Chiefs/Bay of Plenty), Luke Romano (Crusaders/Canterbury), Samuel Whitelock (Crusaders/Canterbury).

Loose forwards: Sam Cane (Chiefs/Bay of Plenty), Jerome Kaino (Blues/Auckland), Richie McCaw – captain (Crusaders/Canterbury), Liam Messam (Chiefs/Waikato), Kieran Read (Crusaders/Canterbury), Victor Vito (Hurricanes/Wellington).

Halfbacks: Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Chiefs/Waikato), TJ Perenara (Hurricanes/Wellington), Aaron Smith (Highlanders/Manawatu).

First five-eighths: Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes/Taranaki), Daniel Carter (Crusaders/Canterbury), Colin Slade (Crusaders/Canterbury).

Midfielders: Malakai Fekitoa (Highlanders/Auckland), Ma’a Nonu (Hurricanes/Wellington), Conrad Smith (Hurricanes/Wellington), Sonny Bill Williams (Chiefs/Counties Manukau).

Outside backs: Nehe Milner-Skudder (Hurricanes/Manawatu), Julian Savea (Hurricanes/Wellington), Ben Smith (Highlanders/Otago), Waisake Naholo (Highlanders/Taranaki).

Just a few weeks to go!


General Debate 31 August 2015

August 31st, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

The Australian Border Force fiasco

August 31st, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar reports:

IT’S less than two months old but the Australian Border Force became well known for all of the wrong reasons on Friday.

The force had planned to spot check people’s visas on the streets of Melbourne this weekend as part of its Operation Fortitude, but the crackdown was cancelled at the last minute amid angry protests in the Victorian capital.

The furore has left the combined Customs and Immigration unit accused of being “uniformed goons” by one senator and an MP has likened it to a Stalinist operation.

The Australian Border Force (ABF), founded on July 1, had its officers shoved into the spotlight by an overeager press release, which hinted at activities as dark as the organisation’s quasi-military uniforms.

An announcement Friday morning made clear that ABF personnel would patrol the Melbourne CBD with police “speaking with any individuals we cross paths with”.

Visas would be demanded and checked.

And the aim was to “target crime in and around the Melbourne CBD to make the city a safer place for everyone”.

This was startling news for the many who might not have heard of the ABF, except perhaps as the officials who stamp passports at international terminals.

The idea they could roam city streets pulling up and threatening people was deeply disturbing.

“Either the Border Force are doing racial profiling, in which case they should stop it, or they are hassling everyone, and they should stop that as well,” Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm said.

“We do not need any more uniformed goons.

“This indicates that the Border Force should be radically downsized and its workers allowed to do something useful for a living.”

Think about how awful this sounded.

You’re walking around the Melbourne CBD and some uniformed officers approach you demanding you can prove you are a citizen or resident of Australia, or have a visa. If you can’t produce proof, bang you are arrested and/or deported.

Think if you’re a Kiwi, and don’t have your passport with you.

They have later said they will only be interacting with people who come to the attention of the Police. But the original release sounded like a bunch of goons marching up and down the streets of Melbourne demanding to see your papers. A huge own goal.


Why Europe Failed

August 31st, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Oliver Hartwich at the NZ Initiative has had an essay published on Why Europe Failed. The forward is by former Australian PM John Howard who notes:

Oliver Hartwich has written a compelling essay, Why Europe Failed. He lucidly identifies the essentially undemocratic character of much of the European project. Political elites, unaccountable to national electorates, impose decisions on tens of millions of people without any real fear of rebuke. Hartwich provides a sobering analysis of an ageing Europe, overburdened by the size of its welfare state.

Some quotes from the essay:

Contrast this with the only one statistic in which Europe leads the world by a mile: The EU’s 28 member states account for 54% of global spending on social welfare.

But that is almost a by the way. The key thing:

Europe’s problems are more fundamental. Its elitist structure of governance has locked its political institutions into paralysis. Its economic model of a mixed market economy is unable to keep up pace with more dynamic world regions. Its demographic changes will test the limits of its expanding welfare state. And all of this is happening against a background of increased security concerns on Europe’s borders with Africa, the Arab world, and Russia. Europe is being challenged on many fronts at once, and even this is an understatement. 

He looks at the European Parliament:

The first problem is the most basic one: Unlike national parliaments, the European Parliament does not have the right to initiate lawmaking procedures. This is not a triviality. Parliaments are often called legislatures because that is what they are there for: to legislate. The European Parliament can neither make laws on its own (it needs the European Commission, i.e. the executive branch of the EU, to do that), nor easily remove the executive (it needs a two-thirds majority). In effect, the European Parliament hardly deserves its name. It is a toothless parliament by the standards of most democratic nations. 

If you abolished it, would anyone notice?

Europe’s political and economic problems will soon be exacerbated by its ageing society. In a number of European countries, birth rates have been very low for several decades. The replacement fertility rate, that is, the fertility rate at which populations would remain constant over time, is 2.1. That means if women have, on average, 2.1 children over their lifetime, then every generation would be replaced by a new generation of the same size. The current average fertility rate for the EU, however, stands at just 1.58.  This means the next generation will be about a quarter smaller than the current generation. If the trend continues, this new generation will be succeeded by another generation that is another 25% smaller. 

Breeding yourself out of existence.

The consequences of these demographic changes will be severe. It will be difficult for European nations to service their debt, let alone repay it, with both shrinking and ageing populations. There is only so much that increased productivity can do to compensate for a collapsing workforce. 

In other words, more countries may go the way of Greece – welfare commitments that their economy simply can’t provide.

Hartwich’s conclusion:

The standout reasons for Europe’s decline are its elitist political system and its inflated welfare state – and the interrelations between these two. Europe no longer rules the world. Nor can it hope to regain the dominant position it once enjoyed. Europe’s decline is entirely self-inflicted. It is a continent that first destroyed itself in two world wars. It then weakened itself by inflating the activities of the state while creating a bureaucratic, isolated, and elitist superstructure in the form of the EU. It also wrecked its monetary system by introducing a common currency that was never going to work and caused more problems than it ever solved.

In many ways, Europe is a case study in how not to conduct one’s economic and political affairs, which makes it all the more worthwhile to pay attention to European affairs so we do not repeat their mistakes here.

But don’t hold your breath. Short-term political gains through welfare spending is too tempting for politicians anywhere and too beguiling for voters.

Greece is only the first European country to effectively go bankrupt. It is unlikely to be the last.


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Celia says come live in Wellington

August 30th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Celia invites Aucklanders to Wellington in the Herald:

We freed up downtown Wellington from restrictive minimum carparking requirements in the 90s and now more than 40 per cent of our population growth is downtown – where you can walk home from a late night out at karaoke or the ballet.

Wellington’s inner and outer Town Belts constrain urban sprawl and give us the bonus of great views, awesome mountain biking and a resurgence of birdlife spreading out from Zealandia so kaka regularly fly over Treasury, rather than biodiversity being confined to the outer edges of the city.

I’ve seen kaka in trees on our property several times. Zealandia has made a huge difference.

Getting into town for work is easy and it’s even easier to get around on foot. You can knock off half a dozen meetings a day without needing a taxi.

Yep. The maximum walking time to get anywhere is 30 minutes within the CBD.

According to data from CoreLogic, the Auckland region saw an increase in average property prices of 17 per cent to $840,165, during the 12 months to June. Wellington is sitting at $459,366, up 1.5 per cent over the same period.

Apartment prices have been almost static for the past few years.

Here’s an interesting question: What percentage of Wellington jobs are in the public sector? 30 per cent? 20? It’s actually 15 per cent. With our rapidly expanding innovation sector, Wellington is becoming more high-tech town than public sector.

The IT, gaming, film and cultural sectors are all booming.

Wellington has the highest concentration of web-based and digital technology companies per capita in New Zealand with 7373 people working in the ICT sector and Wellingtonians are twice as likely to work in ICT as people in other regions

Didn’t know it was twice as high here.

Wellington has more than 300 cafes, bars and restaurants, and claims more places to eat and drink per capita than New York.

And they range from the great curry and kebab shops to the top class restaurants such as Logan-Brown and Hippopotamus.  And it’s nice to be able to easily get a drink at 2 am if you want to carry on the conversation.

Our events calendar is packed. This month we had Visa Wellington On a Plate, the country’s largest culinary festival, teamed with Beervana, and LUX fusing light and kinetic art. September brings The World of WearableArt™ Awards Show, one of the world’s biggest stage spectacles and a showcase of completely unbridled international design imagination. Coming up we have the 30th anniversary of the New Zealand Festival, the pre-Olympic Games Sevens Wellington and many other premium events provide a good excuse for you to check out what else the capital has to offer.

Almost too many at times. You bounce from film festival to comedy festival to foreign film festivals.

It’s all so easy to get around. If you fancy a swim, kayak or paddleboard at lunchtime, you just wander down from your office. Or head into the Town Belt hills for a walk or a mountain bike. And back in time for that 1pm meeting.

One of the few cities in the world where you can mountain bike during your lunch break.

So Celia is right, Wellington is a great place to live and work. Just please, don’t all come at once.

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The Scott Watson interview

August 30th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A journalist’s bid to interview convicted double-killer Scott Watson behind bars has been approved, but a date is yet to be set. 

Department of Corrections deputy chief executive corporate services Vincent Arbuckle on Friday confirmed that an application from journalist Michael White was approved.

I predict Scott Watson will say he is innocent, and someone else did it.

This will make major media headlines as newspapers rush to report the shocking news that someone in prison has claimed they are innocent.

I also predict the interview will not ask Watson about his 48 previous convictions, or his assault conviction during his time in prison.

I further predict media stories will not focus much on:

  • the unanimous verdict at the High Court
  • the Court of Appeal finding no grounds for a retiral
  • The Privy Council finding the same
  • The  Independent Police Conduct Authority finding none of the many failings alleged by his supporters had a significant bearing on the outcome of the investigation
  • The unsuccessful application for a royal pardon
  • The failed drug tests while in prison
  • The Parole Board advice that Watson represents a very high risk of committing further violent acts if released
  • His tendency to talk when drunk about how much he hated women, and how one day he would kill them (evidence at the trial)

Instead it will all be about Watson claims he is innocent, as if that is newsworthy.



No online voting for Auckland

August 30th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Aucklanders won’t be able to choose their next council at the click of a mouse.

Local Government Associate Minister Louise Upston confirmed that the country’s biggest city wouldn’t feature in a trial of online voting for next year’s local body elections.

Officials from the Super City are some of the biggest supporters of a digital voting revolution, but Auckland Council’s catchment has been deemed too big.

“A trial that includes all of Auckland and its approximately 1 million electors is simply too large to adequately mitigate these risks,” she said.

I understand the nervousness about having such a big Council s part of the trial, but by excluding Auckland you also run the risk that the trial is uneconomic.

If the Government was willing to contribute towards the costs of a trial, then I think it would be fine to say Auckland is too big to take part. But as the Government has declined to contribute costs, then excluding the largest Council in NZ runs the risk that the trial will not occur.

Stung by a dismal 36 per cent voter turnout in the 2013 elections, Auckland Council has lobbied hard to introduce internet voting.

But its campaign has failed. Applications are now only being sought from smaller councils to provide a range of voting systems.

So far, Porirua, Rotorua, Palmerston North, Matamata-Piako, Selwyn, Marlborough and Whanganui councils have confirmed that they want to be part of the trial.

So four cities and three districts. I’m not sure if they will be able to make it economic. I hope they can, because if there is a sucessful trial, I expect 90% of Councils would then offer an online voting option in future.

Auckland Council bosses are not happy about being sidelined as they consider the council is well placed to take part.

“We were disappointed the Government decided to exclude the council from the online voting trial,” manager democracy services, Marguerite Delbet, said.

The council had been actively working to introduce online voting and this year asked the Government to allow it.

Auckland’s size is a risk, but also a benefit. They have a more well resourced voting unit than most Councils, and I think would have addedvalue to teh trial.

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Best sacking ever!

August 30th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Jeremy Clarkson will earn more than $23 million a year for his new Amazon car show, with James May, Richard Hammond and producer Andy Wilman close behind.

The former Top Gear host, unceremoniously sacked from the BBC show this year, will reportedly pocket $70m from the streaming service over a three-year period.

The rumoured fee means the 55-year-old would be paid nearly $2m per episode, making him Britain’s highest paid TV host.

Boy he’s really hurting being sacked from the BBC. His income has increased around five fold.

Amazon Prime apparently spent $380m signing up the trio, making it Amazon’s biggest single investment in original content to date. With 36 episodes in the pipeline, each individual episode will have a reported $10m budget.

In contrast, the budget for Top Gear was just over $2.3m, including the presenter costs.

Can’t wait to see it.


General Debate 30 August 2015

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

Gould prescribes Corbyn for NZ Labour

August 30th, 2015 at 7:07 am by David Farrar

Bryan Gould writes:

For New Zealand students of current affairs, the contest for the leadership of the UK Labour Party involves four names that will mean little – and, in that, they will not be too different from observers of the contest in Britain itself. Yet, the emergence of one of the four candidates – Jeremy Corbyn – as the unexpected front-runner is worth a second look, not least for the lessons it might offer to left-of-centre parties around the globe. …

The Corbyn economic policy platform, in other words, is comfortably in line with what is fast becoming the new consensus – less doctrinaire and more common sense than the old orthodoxy. Whether these factors will actually produce a Corbyn leadership remains to be seen, but he has certainly revitalised the party and enthused potential Labour voters. By opening up a long overdue debate, he has redefined the political landscape and offered new hope to those who have been conditioned to believe that “there is no alternative”.

Labour leaders elsewhere, not least in New Zealand, will – or should – be watching closely.

I strong endorse what Bryan Gould is saying. I think NZ Labour should watch closely and elect their most left-wing rebellious MP as leader, declare solidarity with Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA, and propose economic policies that even in the 1970s would have been to the extreme left.

You will be wildly successful, and win the next election convincingly.

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60 fewer managers for Christchurch City Council?

August 29th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Christchurch city council staff are “upset” and “shocked” by news they stand to lose their jobs, their union says. 

Sixty jobs will go under a major Christchurch City Council restructure announced on Thursday.

Chief executive Karleen Edwards said the changes would start with those “at the top”.

Nearly half of the axed roles are management positions. Edwards said the intention was to improve customer service, not to save money.  

The changes mean:

– 175 roles will be disestablished and 115 new roles created.

– Executive leadership team positions would drop from seven to five.

– 79 of the disestablished roles are management positions, 15 are communications roles and 12 are marketing roles. 

So of the jobs going half are managers and a sixth are comms or marketing. Looks like a good restructure.


Queen Nanaia?

August 29th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Vernon Small reports:

Is Hauraki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta in line to be the next Maori Queen?

It’s a rumour that just won’t go away and one that the Kingitanga movement was keen to dispel during coronation commemorations last week, reportedly raising it with media and others in order to quash it 

And it’s understandable why.

King Tuheitia, who was elected to the role in 2006, is in poor health, but it is considered disrespectful to discuss the succession, including a potential abdication.

But …

While Mahuta is not in the bloodline – her father Sir Robert Mahuta was the adopted son of the former King Koroki and the elder brother of Queen Te Atairangikaahu – that is not considered an insurmountable obstacle. In principle it is not an inherited title, though in practice it has been.

The king’s spokesman, Tukoroirangi Morgan, is said to be opposed to the Mahuta option, though insiders say the talk still goes on behind closed doors. For every person that says it is odds-on she will be offered the title, there’s another who says she definitely will not.

If Tuku is against, then it may be a very good idea.

But there have also been questions about her commitment since her role in the four-way leadership race last year. As one senior Labour MP put it, “she has not been the most prolific attendee” at caucus meetings and Parliament – a view widely held among MPs. Some are even saying that, given her senior role in the Maori caucus, her patchy attendance is a poor role model.

It will be no surprise if leader Andrew Little takes all that into account when he reviews his lineup later in the year.

It would be a poor look to keep her on the front bench, when she has been so invisible as an MP.

First it has to confirm a new deputy leader, unless Annette King surprises everyone and stays on. She has done a good job as a place holder, but the party has planned for a new face.

The logical choice has always been Jacinda Ardern. She gives the leadership team the balance it needs: a woman from a younger generation and, crucially, from Auckland.

She has made an impact on television and with Auckland business … no small feat for any Labour MP, let alone one that has on her CV the presidency of the International Union of Socialist Youth.  

Around the press gallery commentariat, her stocks are not as high, but she is clearly having an impact with voters, and that matters. As fourth-ranked preferred prime minister in a recent poll – albeit on just 3.5 per cent, but behind heavy hitters John Key, Little and Winston Peters – she is an asset for the party.

Other names in the frame include Phil Twyford and Carmel Sepuloni – who can add a Pasifika dimension to the young-woman-Auckland credentials of Ardern –though Ardern must still be ahead.

It needs to be someone from Auckland. I think it is a choice between Ardern and Sepuloni, even though a bold caucus might go for Kelvin Davis.

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Pester power

August 29th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Cameron Sigmund, 5, is playing checkout.

He packs a teeny-tiny Pump sipper-bottle, mini-Energizer battery pack and finger-width Head & Shoulders dandruff shampoo into a shopping trolley, before swiping his customer’s Fly Buys card and ringing it through his New World plastic register.

As mum brandishes a plastic-wrapped Domino Star from Countdown, a fight breaks out between the pint-sized cashier and his pig-tailed 1-year-old sister Ashley over who’s going to open it.

Screams ensue. The packet is opened. Disappointed faces all round: the Sigmunds already have Nemo.

The family, from the northern Wellington suburb of Paparangi, have religiously collected the little giveaways from New World and Countdown since the stores started the promotions in 2013.

The marketing manager who came up with the idea of the miniatures is an evil genius who has probably earned two year’s annual leave for it.

Free collectable toys are nothing new: from little Hamburglars in our McDonald’s Happy Meals, to Christian Cullen All Blacks cards in our 1990s Weet-Bix boxes.

But since New World, owned by Foodstuffs, launched its extraordinary Little Shop range of mini-branded supermarket products in September 2013 – and Countdown responded with its wildly successful collector cards and dominos – collectables have had a tsunami-like comeback, spawning school swap-meets and inflated Trade Me auctions.

Sigmund is the first to admit collecting the New World Little Shop and Little Kitchen products and Countdown Animal Cards and Domino Stars is great fun. She’s got two full sets of each, one for each child.

But she’s already swapped supermarkets four times just to follow the promotions, and after the Domino Stars set is complete, she’s done, she says.

Why these ones work so well, is they are not making you shop more often, they are just making you choose a particular brand, to keep your kids happy.

And as a result of its “Little” promotions, New World has gained nearly one percentage point of market share in the highly contested market, Bayliss says.

Responding to claims the supermarket is using “pester-power” to hook young consumers, Bayliss says it has not found parents are pressured to spend more at the supermarket.

“Instead what we have noticed is shoppers who may not be loyal to one supermarket brand become committed to shopping at New World during the promotion period.



General Debate 29 August 2015

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

Unsafe to release

August 29th, 2015 at 7:03 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Alfred Vincent has been in prison since just after the Wahine sank. At 78, he is frail and hard of hearing. But the Parole Board has decided yet again that he is not fit to be released. DEIDRE MUSSEN reports on the case of New Zealand’s longest-serving prisoner.

He looks as if he belongs in a rest home. A trembling smile fills his wrinkled face, a nervous expression appears in his only eye, and fresh batteries are in his hearing aids.

So why has he not been released?

The 78-year-old takes a seat beside his long-time lawyer, Michael Starling, at his latest parole hearing at Rolleston Prison, near Christchurch, and faces the panel of four.

After brief introductions, Starling admits there is no release proposal on the table, despite three years passing since Vincent, who grew up in Kaiapoi in Canterbury, last saw the board.

The reason is two-fold: unhealthy sexual desires and poor health.

“According to psychologist reports, despite his elderly age, he has a strong and persistent pattern of highly sexualised behavior,” panel convener and former High Court judge Marion Frater says.

“He is still sexualised to a high degree,” Starling confirms.

A silent Vincent nods.

“So age hasn’t been a mitigating factor?” Frater asks.

“He’s become less discriminatory,” Starling replies.

When new inmates arrive at his unit, Vincent becomes inappropriately excited.

“We did have him in the garden nursery, but the issue was the other younger prisoners. He got a bit enthusiastic,” his unit manager adds.

That sounds like a euphemism.

Old age makes many offenders safer, but not all. Sadly it looks like Mr Vincent will never be safe to release, and die in prison. That’s sad, but not as sad as releasing him and having a child sexually assaulted by him.


31 million men and 12,000 women!

August 28th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Annalee Newitz at Gizmodo writes:

When hacker group Impact Team released the Ashley Madison data, they asserted that “thousands” of the women’s profiles were fake. Later, this number got blown up in news storiesthat asserted “90-95%” of them were fake, though nobody put forth any evidence for such an enormous number. So I downloaded the data and analyzed it to find out how many actual women were using Ashley Madison, and who they were.

What I discovered was that the world of Ashley Madison was a far more dystopian place than anyone had realized. This isn’t a debauched wonderland of men cheating on their wives. It isn’t even a sadscape of 31 million men competing to attract those 5.5 million women in the database. Instead, it’s like a science fictional future where every woman on Earth is dead, and some Dilbert-like engineer has replaced them with badly-designed robots.

Those millions of Ashley Madison men were paying to hook up with women who appeared to have created profiles and then simply disappeared. Were they cobbled together by bots and bored admins, or just user debris? Whatever the answer, the more I examined those 5.5 million female profiles, the more obvious it became that none of them had ever talked to men on the site, or even used the site at all after creating a profile. Actually, scratch that. As I’ll explain below, there’s a good chance that about 12,000 of the profiles out of millions belonged to actual, real women who were active users of Ashley Madison.

When you look at the evidence, it’s hard to deny that the overwhelming majority of men using Ashley Madison weren’t having affairs. They were paying for a fantasy.

So basically the website is a huge fraud.  They made hundreds of millions of dollars of of suckers who believed their PR.

The numbers dug up from the hacked data is:

  • Number of male accounts that checked their messages – 20,269,675
  • Number of female accounts that checked their messages – 1,492

So a ratio of around 13,000 to 1!

Either way, we’re left with data that suggests Ashley Madison is a site where tens of millions of men write mail, chat, and spend money for women who aren’t there.

I wonder how many other sites do this also?


Dim-Post on Ardern

August 28th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Danyl McL blogs:

But the context around Ardern’s surge in popularity complicates all of this a bit, I think. She isn’t popular because she’s an effective campaigner, or because she’s been breaking big stories or landing hits on the government in the House. She’s popular because she’s gotten glowing coverage in the women’s magazines over the last few months, appearing on the cover of Next magazine and being profiled in the Woman’s Weekly. I assume this is all being facilitated by Labour’s new comms director who is a former Woman’s Weekly editor and it is a level and type of coverage that any politician – even the Prime Minister – would envy.

Ardern’s popularity subsequent to that coverage tells us something very interesting about the power of that type of media, which is something that political nerds like me are usually oblivious to. But it’s also something that’s happening because she’s really pretty. And there’s something problematic about insisting politicians shouldn’t be judged on their looks when they do appear to be succeeding specifically because of their appearance.

My thoughts are three-fold:

  1. Graham Lowe’s comments were inappropriate as the phrase “a pretty little thing” is sexist and condescending
  2. However it is a fact that attractiveness is a factor in political success. There have been peer-reviewed experiments backing this up. And it is not inappropriate to comment that attractiveness is a factor, especially when as Danyl points out that you are doing front page photo shoots for women’s magazine covers. And this doesn’t apply just to female politicians. Simon Bridges’ looks play a part in his success also, in my opinion.
  3. One can recognise attractiveness as a factor in political success, but it is silly and demeaning to suggest it is the only factor in their success.

What I’d genuinely like to hear is a feminist perspective on politicians elevating themselves through the celebrity/gossip media instead of traditional media platforms. People like Clark and Key have appeared in these magazines, obviously – but after they’ve risen to prominence. Ardern’s use of them to achieve prominence is a new phenomenon in New Zealand politics, I think, and worth talking about.

Matthew Hooton has also written in the print edition of NBR about how unprecedented it is for a non leader like Ardern to be at 4% Preferred Prime Minister, as it is an unprompted question. It means that one in 25 New Zealanders when asked who they want to be Prime Minister, name her without prompting. That is an extraordinary achievement, when you take into account she is only the 9th ranked Labour MP.

For myself I rate Ardern’s political skills, and will point out that in 2012 I predicted she will be Labour Leader and Prime Minister one day.

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August 28th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I did an DNA test through and the findings are that my DNA is:

European Jewish 48%
British 32%
Italian/Greek 8%
West European 8%
Irish 2%
Scandinavian 2%

That fits pretty well with what I know of my family tree. Through the DNA test they have identified a couple of dozen other people who have done the test and are related to me (third to fifth cousins).

A mate asked on Facebook that as I am 32% British, am I happy to retain the union jack on the NZ flag. My response was only if it has the Star of David on it also :-)


Hotel WiFi in NZ very bad

August 28th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Blayne Slabbert at Stuff writes:

When staying at a hotel would you rather have Sky TV or free wi-fi? What about a bath big enough for three or free wi-fi?

I would definitely opt for the free wi-fi and I expect I’m not alone. Not only do I want it for free, I want it to be a decent speed.

I think 95% of customers would prefer wi-fi to television. And while nothing is free, the question is whether it should be included in the room charge.

I think it should be. Making you pay extra for Internet is like having a charge for water.  And even worse some of the charges are so high you pay more per day in a hotel than your normal monthly cost.

But many top hotels in New Zealand and around the world still charge for wi-fi and a lot have internet speeds that would be classified as dial-up.

During a recent stay at an international hotel chain, the staff at the front desk told me that it charged $8 an hour to access the internet.

Like being back in 1996!

A website,, helps people find good wi-fi at hotels around the world.

It ranks hotels, including those in New Zealand, getting users to submit speed tests and then ranks them according a star rating.


But according to a survey by management consultants Accenture, free in-room Internet access was ranked the second most important factor after room cost in choosing a hotel.

In NZ I tether my laptop to my phone so not such an issue. But when picking where to stay overseas, wifi cost is a major factor.

Still, I’m hopeful wi-fi will be free and fast in all hotels within a few years and we’ll look back and laugh at the concept of paying extra to access the internet.

I wonder if once upon a time hotels charged you for the electricity you consumed?

It is getting better though. I note that Sky City no longer charges for Internet but has free wireless through the complex. It’s great to be able to just use it without even needing a login. And it is fast – faster than the old paid wifi you used to have.

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Stupid Porirua City Council

August 28th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A new bylaw has been passed banning Porirua residents from washing their cars in their driveways or in the street.

The council wants people to dob in their neighbours if they catch them flouting the law – but already many are vowing to defy it.

As they should. Washing your car in your driveway is not an unreasonable thing to do.

The stormwater bylaw was passed at a council meeting on Wednesday. It aims to improve water quality by stopping detergent and car wax running into stormwater drains, and eventually into Porirua Harbour.

I’m sorry, but there is a better solution than banning car washing on drive ways.

Residents will be forced to wash their cars over grass, or pay to use commercial car washes, which are connected to wastewater systems.

Oh, get real.

Porirua hoped other councils in the region would follow its lead. Iona Pannett, chairwoman of Wellington City Council’s environment committee, said the changes had “a lot of merit” and Wellington could one day do the same.

I hope Iona campaigns on banning car washing in your own driveway!


Alcohol sachet ban rejected

August 28th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

An Auckland community group concerned with keeping Eden Park secure has had its calls for a ban on alcohol sachets rejected by the Government.

Good. They are banned at Eden Park, as is the right of Eden Park. But it would be dramatic overkill to ban them through out New Zealand, in an attempt to stop them being used at Eden Park.

The small pouches contain 20 per cent alcohol and can be hidden in a hand, pocket or wallet. They are cheap, with six sachets costing about $10. According to one manufacturers’ website, this amount of alcohol “certainly packs more punch than your average RTD.”

And cost a lot more. I did the calculations in July:

This is for the equivalent of four standard drinks:

  • 1 litre of 5% beer – $4.40
  • 350 mls of 14% wine – $4.67
  • 700 mls of 7% RTD – $4.82
  • 140 mls of 37.5% spirits – $4.62
  • 250 mls of 20% Cheeky – $20

So in fact they cost four to five times more than other drinks.



Was Flanagan mad or bad or both?

August 28th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports on killer Vester Flanagan:

Flanagan, 41, clashed repeatedly with photojournalists, belittling them in public and intimidating them with his violent temper, according to internal reports.

He was also censured for wearing an Obama sticker while recording a segment at a polling booth during the 2012 US Presidential Election – a clear breach of journalistic impartiality.

The complaints are outlined in court papers that include a scathing performance review carried out prior to his termination in February 2013.

The station filed the documents to rebutt a wrongful termination claim which he had brought, claiming he was the victim of discrimination because he was black and gay. The station won the case.

It’s an awful case. Any killing of innocents is terrible, but one live on air and them promoted on social media is so chilling.

Whether it was just a workplace killing, or also a political agenda is hard to work out.

Flanagan also claimed he was assaulted by a photographer, subjected to a hostile working environment and wrongfully terminated.

He demanded a jury comprised entirely of African American women and independent investigations by the FBI and Justice Department.

He seemed to be someone who blamed his failings on racial discrimination, and it seems became a racist himself:

In a 23-page “manifesto” letter sent to ABC News two hours after the shooting, Flanagan claimed the Charleston, South Carolina church shooting earlier this year was the final straw that prompted him to buy a gun.

So it was partly revenge for that. How very sad.

I saw a tweet on Twitter that reported that in ever single week of 2015, there has been multiple mass (4+) shootings in the US. 247 mass shootings over 238 days.


Sunday ad ban should go

August 28th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Government is considering scrapping the Sunday morning and public holiday bans on television and radio advertising.

Broadcasting Minister Amy Adams said she wanted to make the rules governing traditional and new media more consistent.

The Government is also canvassing changes to election programming rules and the way internet television programmes are classified.

Television stations are prevented by the Broadcasting Act from carrying advertisements between 6am and noon on Sunday, and on Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Anzac Day morning, while online media are not.

The public holiday advertising bans also apply to radio stations.

The broadcasting ad restrictions should go. They once may have made sense when broadcasting was so dominant, but today they are farcical.

Many are like me and don’t watch live TV anyway. I record stuff on My Sky and watch delayed, ignoring ads anyway.

Also people are watching torrents, DVDs, Netflix, You Tube etc.

Broadcasting is going to struggle to survive anyway, without additional restrictions such as no advertising on Sunday mornings.

Plus why Sundays? The prohibition is probably originally religious, but in a secular society, we should not have days when the state prohibits certain activity.

Green Party broadcasting spokesman Gareth Hughes opposed lifting the ad bans, “unless we have a proper commercial-free public broadcasting option”.

You do – Radio NZ and Maori TV.

“It is important there is a little bit of peace and quiet in our hectic modern world,” he said.  

I’d rather not have MPs decide if I need to be sheltered from advertisements on TV on a Sunday.

But Adams said the consideration being given to lifting the ad-ban had nothing to do with supporting the state-owned broadcaster.

“It is increasingly indefensible to distinguish whether something is on TV, radio or the internet; whether it’s tax treatment, advertising or election programming, I am saying it is time we had a consistent approach,” she said.


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General Debate 28 August 2015

August 28th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel