Lighten up

November 24th, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

No Right Turn really needs to lighten up sometimes. He proclaims journalism has hit a new low, as Audrey Young blogged about a chicken.

I’m with Big News on this. NRT fails to understand the difference between what a journalist writes for their newspaper, and what they may blog about. Audrey’s story was not published in the NZ Herald. Audrey has done hundreds of hard news political stories. A whimsical blog about an escaped chicken is not a low.

Personally I like press gallery blogs that give us a bit of a light hearted look behind the scenes. I thought Audrey;s blog was very funny. An extract:

The talk of Parliament today has not been Hone Harawira’s future, John Key’s boycott of the Dalai Lama, or Phil Goff ending the 20-year consensus on monetary policy.

What has the whole complex in a frenzy is a chicken on the loose – one I have just captured in image- but only my cellphone.

It is a Leghorn according to the chicken specialists in the Beehive in ministerial offices who have been emailing each other about it all day.

It was let loose a week ago with four other birds by some idiot protestor.

The others have been captured by the SPCA but the fourth one, nicknamed Tegel by the security guards, has eluded capture.

Having worked at Parliament, episodes like that would provide light relief.

Audrey also contributes some chicken crossing the road jokes:

John Key: I haven’t had any advice on that but I’m pretty relaxed about it crossing the road.

Phil Goff: I too have chickens and I know what a difficult decision it can be for chickens when it comes to crossing roads. Labour was perhaps too strict on chickens and we are re-examining our chicken policy, though it should be remembered that it is every chicken’s right to cross the road so long as it does not interfere in the rights of others.

Tariana Turia: In the spirit of manaakitanga, the Maori Party would like to offer a home to the chicken in our offices – after it crosses Bowen St – and its hapu.

Sue Kedgley: Leave it run free range on the mound and give the eggs to Bellamies.

Rodney Hide: Officials have estimated that 108.5 hours have been wasted by the public servants in Wellington gazing out of window onto Bowen St to see the chicken crossing the road. My colleague Heather Roy, the Minister of Consumer Affairs, will deal with it.

Heh, not bad.

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I got hacked – yeah right!

August 31st, 2009 at 10:27 am by David Farrar

On Wed 26 August the user GarfieldNZ twittered:

@suebr is STILL a good candidate for NZ’s first political assassination. (watch sue run to the Police because of a death threat, stupid cow)

For those who do not know Twitter, the reference to @suebr means it will get seen by user “suebr” which is Sue Bradford herself.

While I am not sure I would classify the tweet as a literal death threat, even implicit threats of violence should have no part in our discourse.

Dave at Big News names the user as Henk van Helmond, formerly of CYFSWatch, based on some good detective work.

The media door-stopped van Hermond and his response is reported by the Herald:

CYFSwatch is run by Henk van Helmond, who yesterday wrote that though the threats had come from his account “it seems my password was hacked”.

Yeah, Right.

IrishBill at The Standard dives into the gutter as usual and tries to link the actions of van Hermond to the anti-EFA campaign and me personally and sees something sinister in the fact I did not report the original Sunday News story, implying somehow I condone such threat of violence.

As usual he could not be more wrong. I’m not sure if I have revealed this publicly before, but in 2007 there were similar threats made by someone with the CYFSWatch site (and my response is here) – maybe even the same person. Back then, their identities were tightly kept.

Someone from CYFSWatch commented on my site. Due to the threats that had made against Bradford, I passed on their identifying information (IP address) to Sue Bradford’s office and explained the Police could use this to trace them.

Bradford’s office in time passed this into the Police, and they contacted me and I provided the Police with information which allowed them to obtain from the ISP, the identity of the person holding the account which had made the threats.

As I said I don’t think I’ve ever blogged this info before (I think I did mention it once in a comment) but as someone too cowardly to even post under their own name is trying to link me to condoning or encouraging this sort of activity, I need to set the record straight.

UPDATE: Idiot/Savant also jumps into the gutter. Again someone who hides behind anonymity tries to smear someone who does not. You never tend to get these sort of smears from people who blog under their own name. That is because blogging under your own name forces you to think about consequences (well except for Whale!) of what you say on your own reputation.

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More on the welfare and privacy debate

July 30th, 2009 at 11:09 am by David Farrar

I have to say that I am gaining very very different impressions of the two women involved in the issue of the cutting of the TIA allowance and the release of their total income from taxpayers.

Jennifer Johnston has really impressed me with her sincerity, attitude and arguments. The Herald reports:

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has asked her officials to look into setting up a loan to help solo parents cover their extra study costs.

The suggestion came during a phone call yesterday to Jennifer Johnston, one of two solo mothers whose details she released after they spoke out about her decision to cut the Training Incentive Allowance for tertiary level courses. …

She said she would take Ms Johnston up on an offer to join her for coffee when she was next in Invercargill.

Ms Johnston said she also apologised to Ms Bennett. “I was pretty angry yesterday. I don’t bear her any ill will.”

She said Ms Bennett had listened carefully to her case but also made it clear she could not promise anything.

“I run a family, she runs a department, but my family has a budget just like her department and at times I have to make financial decisions that are unpopular. Sometimes the people I’m responsible for, my children, will come to me and say, ‘Mum, how about we do it this way?’ Sometimes I can compromise and sometimes I can’t – that’s the reality of having a budget. I don’t know what will come out of our conversation but at the very least I know my minister heard my concerns.”

She brushed off concerns about privacy, saying it was not hard to find out what level of benefits a woman in her situation would be entitled to.

I made a similar point on radio yesterday. Most benefit information is a matter of public record. You just can’t calculate it to the exact dollor without knowing what someone’s rent is etc.

But as I said, kudos to Ms Johnston for her positive advocacy and constructive suggestion re expanding loans, rather than a grant.

I have to say that things are rather murkier with Ms Fuller. First of all is the fascinating revelation that she had her benefit information disclosed by Labour in 2007:

The single mother who is taking Paula Bennett to the Privacy Commission for releasing her income details has had her income disclosed publicly before – by Labour in 2007 and by herself on a Trade Me message board last week. …

Ms Fuller listed some of her entitlements on a Trade Me message board under her user name thehappyhocker last week, before Ms Bennett provided the information to the Herald.

Good to see the media pick up on the Trade Me disclosures for they are very relevant.

Ms Fuller’s income had also been used by the Labour Party in 2007 as an example of the success of its policies. She said she had given permission for then social development minister David Benson-Pope to use the information after she set up a cleaning business with an enterprise allowance.

In his speech, Mr Benson-Pope lists her total support from the state as $180.50, including an accommodation supplement of $91, a family tax credit of $69.50, and another $20 a week from Working for Families.

What is especially interesting to me, is what links (if any) Ms Fuller has to Labour. Often people trumpeted by Labour as sucess stories are Labour Party members and activists. This may not be the case, but it often is. And it all comes down to whether there has been appropriate disclosure.

A thread started by Ms Fuller on the Trade Me message boards also has some alarming allegations in it. Also a huge amount of abuse (some from other people on the DPB) – enough to make a general debate thread on Kiwiblog look like a polite conversation.

Dave at Big News blogs on some of the allegations. They include claims of boasting on Facebook of spending $200 on CDs in a month etc. If the claims are correct, Labour may once again be regretting their choice of champion.

And in another thread he blogs on posts by Fuller where she admits to living with her partner while getting the benefit, and knowing what she did was wrong.

And for those who think this is Big Brother, all Dave has done is catalogue posts made voluntarily by Fuller on the Internet.

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TVNZ upholds complaint

March 30th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I lambasted One News for their errors in a 1 March story on the 90 day probation period law.

Dave at Big News also highlighted their errors, and actually lodged a formal complaint with them.

Dave blogs that TVNZ has upheld his complaint and conceded the story was inaccurate.

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