NZ more than just lamb chops

Stuff reports:

John Key’s audience at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York was a small but well-heeled one. So a shocked gasp went around the room when one of its armchair generals rose from his seat to ask whether New Zealand was good for much more in the US than a few lamb chops.

His gripe was New Zealand’s anti-nuclear legislation and not pulling our weight which, as Key pointed out, is ancient history, given our decade-plus involvement in Afghanistan and now Iraq.

That was not the only history lesson Key felt compelled to deliver to his US audience.

Clark sent troops into both Iraq and Afghanistan, and Key has continued the Afghanistan mission and also approved a training mission for Iraq this time around.

He harked back to the days of “fortress New Zealand”, the time pre-1980s when we ran one of the more protectionist economies in the world, our manufacturers and even wine makers propped up by tariffs and quotas that freed them from having to compete with companies overseas who did things faster, cheaper and better.

The wine industry used to specialise in cheap wine as tariffs meant no other country could produce wine for NZ so cheaply. Once the tariffs went, the NZ wine industry went for quality. There were predictions it would fail without protection, but instead it flourished and exports increased massively.

As the rest of the world retreats into protectionism, Key is almost a lone voice advocating for free trade and, in particular, the Trans Pacific Partnership deal, on the international stage.

US President Barack Obama is now officially into the “lame duck” period of his presidency and if he can’t get the TPP through the US Congress before the election, Key worries there may never be another opportunity.

Key didn’t pull any punches, meanwhile, in warning what would happen if the US pulled out.

Something else would fill the void. And in this case, the something would probably be China,  the very bogey used by Trump to scare up opposition to the TPP.

Which is why Key’s message to the US was an unusually blunt one –  sign the TPP now, or watch America slowly slide from “great”, to waning super power.

Spot on.

EU promises free WiFi

The UK standard reports:

President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, outlined his vision to roll out 5G across the EU and give every village and city free internet.

He made the announcement in his annual State of the Union speech to the European Parliament.

Mr Juncker said: “We need to work for a Europe that empowers our citizens and our economy. And today, both have gone digital.

“Digital technologies and digital communications are permeating every aspect of life.

“All they require is access to high-speed internet. We need to be connected. Our economy needs it. People need it.”

He said: “That is why today the Commission is proposing to fully deploy 5G, the fifth generation of mobile communication systems, across the European Union by 2025. 

“This has the potential to create a further two million jobs in the EU.

“We propose today to equip every European village and every city with free wireless internet access around the main centres of public life by 2020.

So please vote to stay with us, and we’ll give you free WiFi!

Of course it won’t be free. It will be paid for by EU taxpayers.

Silver Fern Farms saved

Stuff reports:

The Government has given the go-ahead for Chinese company Shanghai Maling to buy a 50 per cent interest in meat processor Silver Fern Farms (SFF).

An application for the purchase was made to the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) late last year, following an overwhelming vote of support from SFF shareholders.

Shanghai Maling offered to invest $261 million into New Zealand’s largest meat processor co-operative. 

It is a decision that has left SFF chairman Rob Hewett “delighted”, and one that he said he never doubted.

Finance Minister Bill English said the deal had been tested by shareholders, but he would not be drawn on whether he considered it a good one for farmers.

“The owners have made the decision and they think it’s a good deal. The meat industry has struggled with capital, and China has become a big customer,” English said.

The proposed investment was now “unconditional” and was set to be completed on January 4 next year, the first business day of the new financial year for the partnership.  

At one stage this year, the deal encountered spirited resistance from a shareholder group led by Englishman and high country runholder John Shrimpton.

The group forced a second shareholder vote, but it was again an emphatic win for the supporters of the agreement.

NZ First has been vocal in its opposition. It took the deal for review to the Financial Markets Authority and the Companies Office, claiming the SFF had misrepresented its financial situation to shareholders.

On Tuesday, NZ First leader Winston Peters said the deal was “reward[ing] corruption and deceit”, claiming SFF had understated its profit and overstated its debt.

Peters has been trying to force his views on the thousands of farmers who own SFF. The company had a serious risk of going bust without this investment. The farmer shareholders could have lost a lot of money if it had. Peters has no shares. His hysterical opposition would not see him lose one cent. He didn’t care about the actual farmers who own shares in SFF. It was just a weapon for him.

Over 80% of shareholder farmers voted for the deal. It was a decision for them, not for Peters. If he thinks he knows better than the farmers of NZ how to run a $2.4 billion a year turnover company, then he should seek to put his own money into it, rather than destroy value for those who have.

Dom Post says sell TVNZ

The Dom Post editorial:

Since TVNZ is just another commercial broadcaster, why is it still publicly owned?  The only reason for state-owned broadcasting is to ensure that television is something more than a purveyor of profitable pap. If all it does is pap and populism, there is no reason for it to be owned by the government or the public.

In that case the Government should sell it.

A rare case where I agree.

538 forecasts Democrats to take the Senate

Five Thirty Eight has forecast that the Democrats have a 59% chance of taking control of the US Senate.

They predict that:

  • Democrats win Pennsylvania
  • Democrats win New Hampshire
  • Democrats retain Nevada
  • Democrats win Indiana
  • Democrats win Illinois
  • Democrats win Wisconsin

This would give the Democrats a fairly comfortable 52 seats.

Trump is now seen to have a better chance of winning the presidency, than the Republicans retaining the Senate. They have him at between 44% and 48% probability (depending on model) to win the presidency. This is the highest he has been apart from the convention bounce.

Hague’s valedictory

Stuff reports:

With one last understated jab at the Government and an emotional nod to his late mother and sister, Green Party veteran MP Kevin Hague has signed off on eight years in Parliament. 

Giving his valedictory speech to a mostly-full House of MPs, Hague said it had been a little like “punching into the wind of Cyclone Bola”. 

He gained laughs when he told Parliament of a time when he and his partner Ian used to sail on 24ft cutter.

“I remember in 1988 during Cyclone Bola – some might question the decision to go sailing – we were anchored in a bay in the outer part of the Coromandel Harbour.”

The wind was so strong it would drag the boat out, forcing them to keep a 24-hour anchor watch and use the small outboard motor to “punch back into the wind” to get to back to shelter. 

“Eight years of Opposition has felt something like that. Going to work each day, standing up for what we believe in, but losing almost all of our arguments,” he said. 

“Not because we were wrong, but because of the Government’s superior numbers and resources.”

But it had been “an enormous honour” to serve as an MP, and Hague said he felt he had made his late mother and sister proud. 

“In leaving I feel I have done my best, I feel I have made things better and I go with my integrity entact.”  

The pragmatic activist; Hague has had a political career marked by both quiet dedication, and staunch advocacy. …

During his speech, Hague made particular mention of ACC Minister Nikki Kaye, with whom he worked on a bill to reform adoption and surrogacy laws. 

He offered his “best wishes” for her fast recovery, as she has taken leave to battle breast cancer. 

A career of significant achievement, also included helping establish Nga Haerenga (the New Zealand Cycle Trail), and he leaves behind a petition being considered that seeks pardons for those convicted for homosexual acts before law reforms were passed in 1986.

But it was marred by never having had the opportunity to be a minister.

“I think I might have done a pretty good job of that,” he said. 

I doubt I would have agreed with many of his policies, but I do think he would have been a good Minister. As a former Chief Executive of a DHB he does understand how the system works. And Hague has done a commendable job in weaning some of the Greens away from their anti-science views towards fluoridation and the like. I worry they may regress in his absence.

NZ First playing appalling games

The Herald reports:

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox has let rip at NZ First after it pulled its support for two Treaty settlements just days before a special sitting of Parliament to pass them into law.

Hundreds were due to come to Parliament from Northland, Manawatu and Taranaki on Friday to watch as five Treaty settlements were passed into law in a special ‘extended hours’ sitting agreed on by all parties.

However, a change of position from NZ First on two of the settlements resulted in the abandonment of the day.

NZ First is behaving appallingly. Every party of course has a right to support or not support a particular law. But they had given their word that they would not oppose this bill, allowing it to be dealt with on a Friday when most MPs would not be present (as a vote would not be needed).

The bills are unchanged from earlier readings when NZ First were in favour of them.

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox said she was furious given NZ First had supported the settlements until the last minute and hundreds of people had booked to travel down for historic moments for their iwi.

Around 400 people already had their travel booked and accommodation booked. They did this because NZ First had said they would not oppose the bill going to a voice vote on Friday. The issue is not what position NZ First has, but their appalling behaviour in going back on their word after travel arrangements had been made.

If NZ First had all along said they would not support it going to a voice vote on Friday, then it would not have happened. The Business Committee of Parliament can only make arrangements like this when all parties agree. What they have done is show their word can’t be trusted.

A headline you don’t recover from

The headline in the NZ Herald:

Colin Craig on kiss with press secretary: ‘I did not take my pants off’

Well that’s a headline you need therapy to recover from.

Talking of therapy:

Details have emerged in court about a restraining order granted to Colin Craig’s former press secretary against a counsellor she alleges posted confidential information about her in a blog post.

The Herald can reveal that Rachel MacGregor was granted a restraining order in the Waitakere District Court against Steve Taylor in May this year.

The order and the reasons for it were discussed in open court today, during day 12 of Craig’s High Court defamation trial. …

Taylor is an associate of Craig and a former Conservative Party candidate.

He was the moderator for his allegedly defamatory pamphlet “Dirty Politics and Hidden Agendas”.

He is also a counsellor and the director of 24-7 Limited which, according to the company’s website, offers counselling and mediation to individuals, couples and families.

Sometime after MacGregor quit and following the speculation that followed about her shock departure a blog post appeared on the internet containing extremely personal information about her, including information she alleges she disclosed to Taylor.

The author of the post has never been firmly identified but MacGregor, when applying to the courts for the restraining order, alleged it was Taylor.

Williams’ lawyer Peter McKnight asked Craig about Taylor and the blog, which has been removed from the internet. Craig indicated that he knew about it and Taylor’s alleged connection to it.

Craig claimed MacGregor and Taylor were “close friends” but had a “falling out”, which he believed was about money.

Craig said he knew about the restraining order but did not know the details.

“I am aware it was quite an acrimonious falling out. I am aware there is some type of order,” he told the jury.

McKnight asked Craig if Taylor had posted the blog and if he had disclosed information MacGregor had divulged during a counselling session. …

Craig said he had seen the blog post and it contained “quite a bit of factual information” but “it was a terrible thing to do”.

Bush 41 voting for Clinton

Stuff reports:

Former US President George W. Bush Sr plans to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, according to a member of another famous political family, the Kennedys.

A report by Politico said that Bush, 92, had intended to stay silent on the White House race between Clinton and Donald Trump, but that on Monday,  former Maryland lieutenant governor and daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, said in a Facebook post that former Republican president told her he’s voting for Clinton.

She is reported as having posted a photo with the former president to Facebook, captioned: “The President told me he’s voting for Hillary!!”.

I’m not surprised as he loves his country and knows how serious the top job is.

Bush 43 has not said either who he will vote for, and he could well vote Clinton also. This would lead to the extraordinary situation of every living Republican President voting for the Democratic candidate – as well as the last Republican nominee (Romney).

Washington Post says do not pardon Snowden

The Washington Post editorial:

The complication is that Mr. Snowden did more than that. He also pilfered, and leaked, information about a separate overseas NSA Internet-monitoring program, PRISM, that was both clearly legal and not clearly threatening to privacy. (It was also not permanent; the law authorizing it expires next year.) Worse — far worse — he also leaked details of basically defensible international intelligence operations: cooperation with Scandinavian services against Russia; spying on the wife of an Osama bin Laden associate; and certain offensive cyber operations in China. No specific harm, actual or attempted, to any individual American was ever shown to have resulted from the NSA telephone metadata program Mr. Snowden brought to light. In contrast, his revelations about the agency’s international operations disrupted lawful intelligence-gathering, causing possibly “tremendous damage” to national security, according to a unanimous, bipartisan report by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. What higher cause did that serve? 

Putin’s cause I’d say.

No no no NZ should never host the Olympics

Laura McQuillan writes at Stuff:

Nothing says “we’re a world-class city” like hosting the Olympic Games – but could New Zealand ever do the honours?

Actually nothing says we are giant suckers more than hosting the Olympic Games.

Pulling off the world’s largest sporting event – whether the Summer or Winter Games – is a lot of hard slog that brings mountains of debt, international criticism, and often not a lot of benefit.

But International Olympic Committee boss Thomas Bach reckons New Zealand has what it takes to play host.

The IOC is always looking for a stupid country with lots of money to benefit them. You pay for all the costs and take all the risks, and the IOC gets most of the revenue risk free.


Vance on what Little could learn from Trudeau

Andrea Vance writes at TVNZ:

Here’s what Little can learn from Canada’s JFK.

Sunny – not sulky – ways

Trudeau didn’t go negative. He had poise even in the face of ridiculous attacks on his hair – and Stephen Harper’s attack ads.

“You can appeal to the better angels of our nature and you can win while doing it,” Trudeau said.

His campaign focused on a “positive, optimistic, hopeful vision of public life”. He warmly embraced refugees, as opponents fear-mongered.

This “tone-at-the-top” was emulated by the party as a whole – from candidates through to volunteer door-knockers. Post-election polling showed Trudeau was the main attraction for 20 per cent of Liberal voters.

John Key did the same. He was elected by being positive about how NZ could be better, but not by costant opposition and negativity.

Little and Labour are relentlessly negative. Yes, it’s the Opposition’s job to keep the Government honest – but there comes a point in the election cycle when you have to offer up a fresh, and credible, alternative.

Labour are well past that point. And these problems are exacerbated by Little’s evident frustration. The more the party fails to get cut-through, the more defensive he gets.

The worse they do, the angrier they get, and hence the worse they do.

National has already got their 2017 message sorted: stable and predictable government. Labour are all over the place. While they try to keep the focus on the housing crisis, its MPs are easily distracted by pointless Beltway concerns.

This isn’t helped by Little’s insistence on fronting every issue-of-the-day out of a desperate need for air-time.

He wants to overtake Winston as Preferred PM.

Actually it is the taxpayers worse off

Catriona McLennan writes in the Herald:

Our law is taking up to $28 a week away from some of the poorest women and children in the country for spurious reasons.

The Social Security Act states that women who do not identify in law the fathers of their children will have deductions made from their benefits.

The aim of the law is to force mothers to name fathers so child support can be levied on fathers.

But that is not what is happening. Instead, 13,616 parents are permanently receiving lower incomes than they should be. The main people this punishes are not fathers who fail to support their children, but rather the children themselves.

Actually it is the taxpayer who is worse off, not the children.

If the mother named the father then he would have to pay child support to the IRD. If the father earns $50,000 he would probably pay $450 a month to the IRD.

Instead the father pays say $200 a month to the mother. Here’s how it affects everyone.

  • Father $250 a month better off
  • Mother/child $80 a month better off ($200 less $120 deductions for non naming father)
  • Taxpayer $330 a month worse off by having the $450 a month child support to partially cover cost of benefit, less $120 deductions for no naming

So even under the current system, it is the taxpayer who misses out – not the kids.

What McLennan wants is a system where it would be:

  • Father $250 a month better off
  • Mother/child $200 a month better off
  • Taxpayer $450 a month worse off by having the $450 a month child support to partially cover cost of benefit

And beyond doubt there would be a huge increase in fathers not being named.

Huffington Post on Wellington

Nicolette Logue writes at the Huffington Post:

If you didn’t know anything about Wellington NZ, you might think it was a little like Canberra — national capital, public service town, small in size and a reputation for being a bit dull. But this city has undergone a remarkable transformation, emerging as a creative, cultural and economic success story.

New Zealand’s capital was once a town which relied heavily on government employment, and suffered greatly when there were widespread redundancies in the early 1980s. Reduced tariffs meant nearby car factories, who were major employers, shut down. Swathes of the city was being bulldozed to rebuild in an earthquake-compliant manner. The nightclub scene on Courtenay Place was fledgling, and even these entertainments were wedged amid greasy takeaway joints and people sleeping in alcoves. …

In the years since, it has undergone an economic, and cultural, miracle. This year, it beat the largest city, Auckland, and the nation as a whole, in terms of economic growth. And this year, New Zealand has beaten Australia in the Global Innovation Index, coming in at 17th in the world.

It has more bars, restaurants and cafes per capita than New York City. In 2011, it was named by Lonely Planet as the coolest little capital in the world.

And with a population of 204,000 — about the size of Hobart — it has around 800 start-up businesses.

So what turned a struggling city into one of the most innovative and creative in the world?

Wellington is a rocking little place.

If you were to pinpoint a person and a moment in time for Wellington’s transformation, it would probably be Peter Jackson and the late 1990s.

Everyone says so. And while this isn’t quantifiable or measurable or attributed to three, rock-solid sources, it seems to make sense.

Jackson, a proud Wellington native, had just bought an old film studio in the suburb of Miramar, about 20 minutes’ drive from Wellington proper.

After years making ‘splatstick’ horror films, his career took off. Around the same time, other prominent NZ directors Jane Campion and Lee Tamahori also achieved renown, but departed for Hollywood. Jackson stayed at home and with his success improved the fortunes of those on the peninsula. …

This reminds me of the CTU tried to stop The Hobbit and supported an Australian union’s attempt to get a global blacklisting of it. They portrayed Jackson and Taylor as bad employers.

The second is Wellington’s geographic layout. The city is compact, marked on three sides by water and the fourth by the Hutt valley.

This does make a huge difference. The entire city centre is walkable.

Barista John Cole manages The Beanery, one of Mojo Coffee’s outlets in Wellington CBD. The density of this chain is astonishing — in a CBD measuring two square kilometres, there are 20 outlets.

Heh, coffee fuels Wellington.

He estimates there are 7-800 start-ups currently operating in Wellington, and he says networking is the key to success.

“Networking is about bringing people together — it’s how connections are made.

Very proud of the number of start ups we have. Great to see so many people wanting to set up their own business rather than be an employee for someone else. It is the opposite of Canberra.

More terrorism in the US

Stuff reports:

An Afghan immigrant, wanted over bombings in New York and New Jersey over the weekend, has been arrested after a shootout with police in New Jersey.

The law enforcement official said two officers were shot in the gun battle. They were not believed to be seriously injured.

Linden Mayor Derek Armstead said that the owner of a bar reported someone asleep in the doorway of his establishment. A police officer went to investigate and recognised the man as Rahami, police and the mayor said.

Rahami pulled a gun and shot the officer – who was wearing a bulletproof vest – in the torso, and more officers joined the gun battle and brought Rahami down, police Captain James Sarnicki said.

The arrest came just hours after police issued a bulletin and photo of Rahami, who lived in Elizabeth, New Jersey, near where an explosive device detonated on Sunday, a day after the New York explosion.

Authorities said the blasts were looking increasingly like an act of terrorism with a foreign connection.

This comes after the NY Governor said that there was no foreign connection. Yeah, right.

Assuming this is confirmed as an Islamic terror attack it will be 1,700th Islamic terror attack in 2016, killing 14,785 people and injuring a further 17,790.

Sevens sounding better

Stuff reports:

The Wellington Sevens are in for a facelift.

A “revitalised” sevens plan will include a party zone in the stands where “rugby meets rave” to entice people back to the game.

A number of proposed changes including a “fizz and food alley” and match-up of Wellington bars with competing teams were outlined at a recent meeting of Wellington retailers.

Proposals included a “fizz and food alley” that would combine the Beervana and Wellington On a Plate experience with the rugby.

And matching 16 bars in Wellington to host each of the 16 teams.

The plan for a “mix zone” or party zones in the stadium with DJs in each section was also raised.

They all sound good ideas. The recent trend of promoting it as a family outing has failed miserably. It is a two day party. Better food and drink, linking in with bars and party zones all sounds good.

Auckland Council Voting Guide


The Spin Off has done a voting guide for Auckland Council. They have mainly focused on whether people agree with their views on transport and housing. Sadly they have totally ignored anything about fiscal discipline and have endorsed several candidates who voted for the 9.9% rates increases (they are shown in italics – do not vote for them). So voting for some of their endorsements will probably see many more years of large rates increases.

While The Spin Off is left leaning, and many of the candidates endorsed are Labour and Greens affiliated, they have shown some free thought and endorsed Bill Ralston and Denise Krum for example. Worth reading their voting guide even if not agreeing to it.

The Auckland Ratepayers Alliance has a list of 25 candidates who have signed their pledge to not vote for any rates increase over 2%. Also Auckland Future candidates have their own policy of not supporting a rates increase over 2%.

I’m not an Aucklander but follow Auckland politics closely. So I’ve also done my own voting guide to whom I would vote for in each ward. The main criteria is fiscal responsibility, but also based on whether they would contribute well to the governance of the city. So if you want an affordable city, this is whom I would vote for.

Average Earnings


This graph shows average earnings (from Stats NZ) for those in employment adjusted for tax (and ACC) and inflation. So basically it is net disposable income from work.

The red shows nine years of Labour and blue seven years of National. You can see the difference low inflation makes, plus of course a reduction in tax rates twice.

This is adjusted to June 2015 dollars.

The latest data is for June 2016.  Nominal average earnings are $51,062, tax is $8,340 and GST $710.

Here is what is interesting. That average worker on $51,000 is paying as much income tax today as the average worker was in first quarter 2009 when they earned only $42,000.

But also of interest is that someone earning the average wage is now $9,000 a year better off than they were 15 years ago – even after adjusting for inflation.

True equality – purchase limits

Stuff reports:

Deadly food riots have exploded in several Venezuelan cities this year, and Maduro in recent weeks has faced rowdy pot-banging protests. In July, he gave Venezuela’s defense minister extraordinary powers to oversee the government’s elaborate system of price controls and consumer regulations, including the fingerprint scanners used to ensure that Venezuelan shoppers don’t exceed their purchase limits.

That’s a great idea to achieve a more equal society. Have limits on how much food someone can purchase so everyone is equal.

In a country with one of the world’s highest homicide rates, and where carjackings, muggings and kidnappings often go unpunished, the Venezuelan government has arrested or detained at least 9,400 people this year for allegedly breaking laws against hoarding, reselling goods or attempting to stand in line outside normal store hours, according to the Venezuelan human rights organisation Movimiento Vinotinto. Many were taken into custody by the Venezuelan troops assigned to police the checkout aisles and the long lines snaking from supermarkets.

Ismary Quiros, a deputy director at Movimiento Vinotinto, said the law doesn’t define exactly what constitutes illegal hoarding, smuggling, or reselling goods. She said the government’s real goal is to find scapegoats for the scarcities.

Yes arrest those scabs who try and purchase food beyond their government allocated quota. How dare they.

Clara Ramírez, an attorney in the state of Táchira along the border with Colombia, said since the beginning of the year she has represented six clients arrested after allegedly buying goods for resale on the black market. “All of them were normal people, men and women with families who were just looking for food to feed their children,” she said.

How dare they put their selfish needs ahead of those of the community.

Raymar Tona, 34, was arrested on a Friday in May while waiting to buy diapers for her baby.

A national guardsman pulled her out of the supermarket line, burrowed into her purse and found 10,000 Venezuelan bolivares, she said. In the past, it would have been a lot of cash, but in today’s Venezuela, which has the world’s highest inflation rate, her bank notes added up to about US$10.

“It was my salary for two weeks,” said Tona, a receptionist at a medical clinic. She was accused of selling spots in line, a common practice.

The scum – line jumping.

Isaura Pérez, 66, said she travelled three hours to Barquisimeto in July to deliver hard-to-find drugs for her 38-year-old diabetic cousin, Georgina Delgado, who was in intensive care. National guard troops arrested Pérez at the hospital entrance for allegedly trafficking medical supplies, she said.

The drugs were confiscated by the soldiers, Pérez said. Her cousin Delgado died three days later.

But he died equal!

It is fascinating to see a country respond to their policy failures by doubling down and bringing in more and more policies that just make the situation worse. Venezuela is going to be a case study for the text books for generations.

The sad thing is so many people will starve and die, in providing this lesson.

Rodney on union power

Rodney Hide writes:

There was a time, not so long ago, when the unions could grind the country to a halt and drop a government to its knees. Not now. Their latest industrial action is to tweet a boycott of My Food Bag.

That you didn’t know demonstrates their puniness. That you don’t care, their patheticness.

And why My Food Bag? Well, it’s complicated.

My Food Bag gets its peas from Talley’s. And Talley’s own Affco. And Affco is in dispute with the Meatworkers’ Union.

So the Public Service Association that represents government workers wants you to ditch My Food Bag, so pressuring them to ditch Talley’s peas, so making Affco play nice with the Meatworkers’. That’s quite a few steps.

Yep they wanted all the incredibly happy customers of My Food Bag to stop using them, because they didn’t like one of their suppliers.

But still the boycott fizzled.

We live in a truly marvellous world. We can order our dinners nicely packaged and delivered to our door with all the ingredients and recipes.

We can do so from our phones in our pocket.

Our holidays are no longer destroyed by the Cook Strait ferry workers. Farmers are no longer held to ransom by union goons. We are more productive and more prosperous.

And just to remind us how marvellous things are the PSA demonstrates union puniness and patheticness by failing to tweet up a storm against My Food Bag.

There is a reason union membership continues to decline – they are too focused on wider politics, and not enough on getting a better deal for their members.

UPDATE: The PSA media adviser says the Hide column is wrong as there was no PSA boycott against My Food Bag – just a tweet from her in a personal capacity. I’m also informed PSA membership is not declining.

She also says that My Food Bag has taken action by widening the audit of suppliers such as Talleys.

Wells Fargo sacked 5,300 employees for ripping off customers

The Brisbane Times reports:

Wells Fargo will pay $US185 million ($240 million) to resolve claims that bank employees opened deposit and credit-card accounts without customers’ approval to satisfy sales goals and earn financial rewards, US regulators said.

The lender opened more than 2 million accounts that consumers may not have known about, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said in a statement on Thursday. Wells Fargo, which fired 5300 employees over the improper sales practices, agreed to pay a $US100 million fine to the CFPB, $US35 million to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and $US50 million to the Los Angeles city attorney to settle the matter. The San Francisco-based bank also will compensate customers who incurred fees or charges, the agencies said.

5,300 employees were sacked for doing this! Did they have any honest employees? They set upo two million accounts for customers that were not requested!

“Wells Fargo employees secretly opened unauthorised accounts to hit sales targets and receive bonuses,” CFPB director Richard Cordray said in his agency’s statement. “Because of the severity of these violations, Wells Fargo is paying the largest penalty the CFPB has ever imposed.”

The bank agreed to resolve the allegations without admitting or denying the agencies’ accusations, and said in a statement that it had set aside $US5 million for customer remediation.

“We regret and take responsibility for any instances where customers may have received a product that they did not request,” Wells Fargo said in its statement.

If I was in the US, that would be one bank I would never bank with.

Sky Sport

A reader writes in:

Wanted to encourage you to run a story on the latest from sky sports nz. I purchased a sub to Sky and BeIn sports expecting to get a feast of football. But with Sky NZ you don’t get the full BeIn experience – old matches, talk programs and some selected PL matches are screened.

I wanted to watch the CL matches and now find that Sky take the BeIn feed (eg Spurs – Monaco match) and put it on Sky Sports 3.

This is really taking the piss and I am about to cancel my contract within the 28 day grace period because of it.

In addition the Sky service for normal TV is worse than Freeview due to weak signals and frequent rain fade outages.

(Former) Fairfax columnist advocates violence

So (now former – see update below) Fairfax columnist Rachel Stewart is openly boasting that she wants to break my legs and meet me in a dark alley. She emphasizes she isn’t kidding.

My crime was to critique her views that we should reduce the dairy herd by 80% and that no one would be eating meat in 10 years time. I never attacked her personally in any way – I just criticized her policies and predictions.

She seems to object to some of the comments on Kiwiblog and thinks this justifies her violent outbursts. Never mind that I of course do not see or read the vast majority of the 1.8 million comments on Kiwiblog and there is a well utilised procedure for people to complain about comments they think should be removed. Every week and sometimes every day I deal with complaints about comments from people who bother to use the process.

The real irony is that Rachel Stewart got a lot of publicity when she had threats of violence against her (which I condemned at the time). However she thinks that it is fine for her to be the one making the threats. Is this irony or hypocrisy?

Stuff reported at the time:

Stewart said she accepted people would disagree with her or criticise her work, and she welcomed robust debate. However, responses of an overtly sexual or derogatory nature abusing individuals were offensive and unnecessary.

And all I did was critique her policy proposal and prediction. And her response was to abuse me and threaten violence against me.

Stewart said she was appalled that several prominent members of Federated Farmers and Dairy NZ “favourited” or retweeted crude comments. Dairy NZ did not respond to questions.

And 14 people have favourited her threats of violence against me. Again the hypocrisy is rather over whelming.

Does Fairfax endorse the actions of their columnist in making threats of violence? Will they take action? Will her threats against me be reported on as the threats against her?

Note that I have not enabled comments for this post in case this becomes a Police matter.

UPDATE: The Taranaki Daily News informs me that by coincidence (or possibly not) that Rachel Stewart’s last column for them was the 14th of September and she was no longer a columnist for them when she tweeted her threats of violence. This may explain why she thinks she can now make such threats without consequences.