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Surprise, surprise – the bloody pigs clear themselves over illegal Hager raid

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Surprise, surprise – the bloody pigs clear themselves over their illegal raid on Investigative Journalist, Nicky Hager…

Police did not intentionally deceive judge in Dirty Politics raid – IPCA

An unlawful police search of journalist Nicky Hager’s home came from officers neglecting their duties rather than intentional misconduct, the police watchdog says.

Officers did not deliberately deceive a judge when they failed to mention that Hager was a journalist while applying for the search warrant, the Independent Police Conduct Authority said in a ruling released this morning.

Instead, the IPCA found the unlawful search of his Wellington home in 2014 was the “result of unwitting neglect of duty” and “did not amount to misconduct by any individual officer”.

Police searched Hager’s home on October 2, 2014, for 10 hours. They were seeking evidence about a hacker who provided information to Hager for his book Dirty Politics, which was published on August 13, 2014. They were acting on a complaint from blogger Cameron Slater, who said his emails had been hacked.

my case against the Police for involving me in this fiasco is still in front of the Human Rights Review tribunal where the Police are attempting to hold a secret trial using secret evidence and watching how far a corrupt police force will go to hide their corruption is sickening.

Note the language here, there wasn’t any misconduct in not telling the Judge who signed off on an illegal search warrant against Hager that he was a journalist, oh no, it was a “unwitting neglect of duty”!!!!!

What a load of bullshit! The cops knew full well that the idiot Judge wouldn’t have signed off on a warrant if they knew Hager was a journalist with the protections that has, they specifically left it off and they have gotten away with it.

These lying scum bags will do anything, say anything and plead ignorance at anything to hide their abuse of power, and when you try to hold them arseholes to account, they attempt to rig the Court process so it can all be heard behind closed doors.

The IPCA are former cops investigating cops and they are as trustworthy as a fox in a henhouse.

We live in a  country where cops can clear themselves of any wrong doing after they illegally search an investigative journalist’s house.

If only the media spent as much time on this as they are on Celebrity Treasure Island and a stupid Australian talkback host saying mean things to the Prime Minister.

What a sickening, duplicitous outcome.

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

TV REVIEW: Years & Years on Soho – your new addiction

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After the first episode.

I am addicted!

This incredible new TV series is terrifying and hilarious at the same time.

Set 5 years into the future, it gloriously captures the decline into fascism inside Britain and the break down of culture.

The interracial parents struggling to understand their moping whinging teenage daughter who wants to be ‘Trans’ (Transhuman that is), the older Grandmother struggling to understand her grandchildren, the slow erosion of basic general knowledge so that flat earth is accepted and tsunamis are questioned, Trump firing a nuclear missile at China in his last days as President, the slow rise of a new Fascist no nonsense Prime Minister, the sudden influx of refugees into the UK running from Putin’s Russia, and everyone EVERYONE glued to their bloody phones –   it has all the current seeds of entropy and watching the utter madness expand is so surprisingly satisfying.

We have all made the bed of our current decline, watching people forced to lie in it is deeply gratifying.

This is clever, insightful and troubling TV. You. Must. Watch. This.

 

 

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

Green Party shocked WINZ are lying maggots when it comes to drug testing – who is actually running this Government? The elected MPs or Wellington Bureaucrats?

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Wellington Bureaucrats worship their new Big Data Fascism, Orac

Ongoing drug-test sanctions contradicts Government’s rhetoric on drugs

Reports that two-thirds of beneficiaries who fail drug tests are still having their benefit sanctioned contradicts the Government’s so-called health approach to drugs. Auckland Action Against Poverty is calling on the Government to immediately act on its word and end the drug-test sanction regime.

“We’ve got a hypocritical Government punishing beneficiaries who fail drug-tests yet speaks of moving towards a health based approach to drug use, reassuring people it was not aiming to continue applying this sanction last year”, says Ricardo Menendez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty Coordinator.

“The drug-testing regime is not only expensive, but most people who are subjected to one don’t test positive for drug use. The people who test positive and have a substance abuse problem need support, not punishment.

 

When news of this broke last night that WINZ have been lying about punishing beneficiaries who fail drug tests, Green MP Jan Logie came out and said that she was shocked WINZ misled her.

Really? What else shocks the Green Party?

The sun rising?

Tides?

Basic principles of electricity?

We know that WINZ have a toxic culture and that they are staffed by sadists who love the power imbalance they have over beneficiaries. We see time and time and time again abuses by the State on the most vulnerable and when they get caught out, what happens?

Nothing.

The only reason the head of Stats quit last week was because the mistake impacts people beyond the poor, it impacts electoral boundaries and Government spending.

WINZ are a neoliberal welfare agency focused on punishing the poor and beating them with a bloody great big stick, all Labour have done is put a small cushion on the stick.

Who the fuck is actually running things? The elected MPs or Wellington Bureaucrats?

Let me guess, no one will be punished at WINZ for deceiving our MPs.

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Just because the Prime Minister is embarrassed is not a good enough reason to suddenly change the law

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Prison letters: Cabinet pushes ahead with law changes to Corrections Act

Cabinet ministers will discuss possible law changes to what mail can be received and sent by prisoners, after the accused Christchurch gunman was able to send mail to supporters.

I’m guessing the vast amount of NZers who decried the prisoner letter fiasco actually had no idea Prisoners had the right to letters in the first place – I say this as someone who has posted prisoner letters online for about 15 years.

I’ve posted prisoner letters online for that period of time because prisoners have the least power in society and the ease with which the system can abuse them is vast. Allowing them access to publicity forces corrections to treat them properly, Arthur Taylor wrote for us while he was inside and his work on holding the Government to account on Prisoner Rights has gone to the Supreme Court a number of times.

It seems this Government didn’t know Prisoners have the legal right to send and receive letters and you get the feeling that this sudden need to change the law is because Jacinda has been embarrassed by this.

She toured the planet and held the ‘Christchurch Call’ demanding social media act responsibly, and here she is being embarrassed because the terrorist was able to send a letter that got posted to 4Chan.

The simple truth is that  the existing legislation works fine…

Mail to and from prisoners

76Prisoners may send and receive mail

(1)

A prisoner may send and receive as much mail as the prisoner wishes.

(2)

Subsection (1) is subject to—

(a)

sections 105 and 108 of this Act, and directions given under section 168A (no-contact conditions if family violence offence defendant remanded in custody) of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011; and

(b)

any restrictions relating to the manner in which mail is received or sent, the provision of materials for writing letters, and the payment of postage contained in regulations made under this Act.

Compare: SR 2000/81 r 97(1)

Section 76(2)(a): amended, on 1 July 2019, by section 50 of the Family Violence (Amendments) Act 2018 (2018 No 47).

…Corrections are lying when they say there needs to be a change, they are the ones filtering these letters, they allowed this to pass through that filtration process.

Prisoners have rights, whether we like that or not. To suddenly change the law to what, stop them sending and receiving letters, who exactly is that helping?

This is a bullshit knee-jerk reaction every bit as spiteful as National removing Prisoner’s rights to vote. The Prime Minister is seriously suggesting every Prisoner’s right to send and receive letters gets changed because of one Prisoner?

While we are at it, doesn’t it concern everyone else that the politics of the prisoner will be vetted here? Sure, we don’t mind the State having that power when beloved Jacinda is in power, but what happens when the evil National Party becomes the Government again, you really want then to have the power to stop Prisoners from sending and receiving letters for ‘political reasons’?

The existing law works fine, Corrections need a kick up the arse and told to do a better job of vetting this Prisoner’s communications, but to change the entire law and allow the state to vet prisoners political views sounds like a terrible step backwards, not forwards.

 

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BREAKING: IPCA finds Police repeatedly broke the law while investigating RawShark

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Nicky Hager welcomes today’s Independent Police Conduct Authority report upholding a complaint by the Green Party.

The complaint was into the Police’s handling of an investigation into RawShark, one of Mr Hager’s confidential informants and the principal source for his book Dirty Politics. The report concluded that there were multiple breaches of the law by Police.

Nicky Hager is pleased to receive further vindication of the position he took when he sued Police in 2014, “Again, an independent investigation has found extensive evidence of many unlawful acts by Police,” he said. “I hope these findings will further strengthen the protection for journalists in the future.”

The High Court previously found that Police had breached the duty of candour when applying for a warrant to search Mr Hager’s home. The IPCA further found that the warrant application lacked reasonable grounds and was too broad. It also found that Police failed to give Mr Hager an adequate opportunity to claim privilege, then breached that privilege, seized too much and in a non-selective way, and unlawfully conducted investigations based on what was found. The IPCA also found similar breaches in relation to various efforts by Police to obtain Mr Hager’s information from third parties.

However, Mr Hager believes that the IPCA report is disappointing for what it does not say. So far, there have been no recommendations of any consequences for the many breaches of law by Police.

The report found that some breaches of the law were caused by faulty legal advice and faulty procedures. Felix Geiringer, a barrister acting for Mr Hager, explains why that is not a complete answer to the issues raised by the report, “Of the many breaches of law by Police identified in the report, really only one or two have anything to do with faulty legal advice or the procedures at the time,” he said. “Indeed, some breaches appear to be police officers acting against legal advice and breaching police procedure even as it stood back then.

“Even for those few issues where this excuse is relevant, it is not a final answer. Our understanding is that the faulty legal advice came from internal police advisors. In other words, police were advising themselves to break the law and then following that advice. That is something that needs to be followed up to ensure it does not happen again.”

Mr Hager was also hoping for more from the IPCA. “I am disappointed that the report has not looked into the behaviour of Police after I brought my claim,” he said. “That was something I asked them to look into.”

The report shows that Police now admit many unlawful acts. However, that was not always the case. “For a long time they denied them, including to the High Court under oath,” Mr Geiringer explains. “They also withheld documents that provided evidence of those breaches and made untrue statements about what was in those documents and why they were being withheld. That is very troubling and something I would expect to have been of concern to the IPCA.”

So, while Mr Hager welcomes the many damning findings against Police, he wants to know what is going to happen now and what, if any, consequences there will be.

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Big losses for dairy giant as plant milk popularity increases – Vegan NZ

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As Fonterra is projecting multi million dollar losses for the second year in a row, it is clear the writing is on the wall for dairy as more and more Kiwis turn to plant milks. 22nd August is International Plant Milk Day and there is now a different plant milk for each day of the week available right here in New Zealand. As the country’s green credentials are, like the cows, dragged through the mire over the winter cropping issue, diversifying into crops is becoming a very sound alternative for many dairy farmers.

Even here in New Zealand, it can take up to 2000 litres of water to produce just one litre of milk, not to mention the problems in certain areas of nitrate runoff causing river pollution, reducing our water quality, all the while taking up precious groundwater in traditionally dry areas of the country. The fact that so many cows exist is pushing up our greenhouse gas emissions, burping methane in huge quantities and of course breathing out carbon dioxide. Then there’s their consumption of palm kernal extract adding to the deforestation of Indonesia and orangutan habitats.

As people become more aware of the need to change the way we live, certain choices are being made. When you choose a plant milk you can be sure the resources used were far lower than the dairy counterpart (no matter what Fonterra scientists will try to spin to you). Many Kiwi dairy farmers are already exploring growing plants alongside their current dairy business. Hemp is often a great choice for such people as it grows in a diversity of environments, doesn’t require pesticides, herbicides or much in the way of fertiliser. We need government incentives to help farmers diversify and not bear the brunt of the cost. They need to be rewarded for doing their part for the Zero Carbon Bill.

Today’s plant milks are no longer just soy, rice and almond, now there are milks made from oats, coconut, cashews and even hemp, the next new delicious and nutritious milk out on the market. Hemp has a great protein profile and with omegas 3 and 6 in the right balance, it is ideal to keep your skin and tissue supple and supplies all the essential amino acids. Whichever plant milk you enjoy, you are not getting any saturated fats or cholesterol, while some such as soy and oat, actively reduce your blood cholesterol.

Why not take up the dairy free challenge for the week 22nd to 29th August to celebrate Plant Milk Day and get your chance to try one of the 34 vegan cheeses available in NZ!

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

Dave Macpherson: End of dispute between Nicky Stevens’ family and Waikato DHB means a new phase of the mental health work starts

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Most readers will be aware that my family’s long-running (four and a half years long) ‘dispute’ with Waikato DHB is now over.

Our son, Nicky Stevens, died while in the legal care of Waikato DHB’s Henry Bennett Centre, after DHB staff let him out on an unsupervised ‘smoke break’ even though he was a known suicide risk, and even though our family had specifically warned the DHB about the risk of harm to Nicky if he was not supervised.

Despite several contacts with the Police following Nicky’s disappearance, they did not start searching for him for over two days, during which he was seen alive by two members of the public.

Nicky’s body was found in the Waikato River three days after being let out unsupervised from Waikato Hospital, not far downstream from the Hospital.

One year after Nicky’s death, the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) ruled that the Police actions following Nicky’s disappearance breached Police policy in several ways, and 100% upheld our complaint about the Police. The Police force formally accepted all the IPCA findings, and apologised directly to our family.

Three and a half years after Nicky’s death, an Inquest was held and Coroner Wallace Bain ruled that Nicky’s death was “avoidable”, and that Waikato DHB’s actions had contributed to his death. The Coroner made a number of recommendations that supported our family’s proposals for improvement in mental health services in this sort of case.

Some months later Waikato DHB leadership broke off discussions with our family, under instructions of their insurance company, and attempted to get the Solicitor-General to order a re-hearing for the Inquest, and the replacement of the Coroner. This step was unheard of previously in this country, and was widely condemned in the community.

Throughout the last four and a half years, our family has faced huge challenges in getting any official information and support. We have had to complain to the Ombudsman on at least a dozen occasions about the DHB failing to release information relating to our son’s death; we have made complaints about the actions of DHB and DHB staff legal representatives that disadvantage us, the DHB has on three occasions refused legal support for our family in relation to the Coroner’s Inquest, and the previous Government effectively refused to acknowledge the issues we were facing.

At the same time, our family has received huge support from right around this country, and overseas, from people from all walks of life, and especially from many families facing the same issues we have. We have spent, and still spend, many hours supporting and working with other affected families, some of whom have been waiting for justice longer than we have.

That wider community support has more than compensated for the official failure of support.

In the last two months, three important things have happened – the Government sacked the Waikato DHB leadership (I was ‘collateral damage’ in that exercise) and installed an experienced Commissioner; the Prime Minister met directly with our family to discuss these issues; and the Government signalled Mental Health was a key issue with a very large allocation in its 2019/20 Budget.

Almost immediately the new DHB Commissioner scrapped the previous leadership’s strategy and agreed to re-open direct talks with our family, leading to mediation and a mediated settlement just under a month ago.

The DHB has apologised, in writing, to our family for our son Nicky’s death, and has formally withdrawn its outrageous attempt to overturn the decision of the Coronial Inquiry into his death.

The IPCA Report and the Coroner’s Report stand as the official, correct, and only independent word on the causes of, and contributing factors to Nicky’s death.

While we miss our son deeply, we are now able to grieve properly for him – without having a massive ongoing fight with backside-covering officialdom hanging over our lives. We can now move forward with our lives.

At the same time, while we applaud the Government’s stated commitment to action to reduce this country’s huge mental health and suicide crisis, we know families like ours will need to continue to hold DHB’s, the mental health profession and the health leadership generally, accountable for implementing the changes proposed in the Budget and demanded by the community.

No-one can rest on their laurels in a country with the worst youth suicide statistics in the world, and with a mental health crisis that is out of control.

 

Dave Macpherson – TDB mental health blogger & Former Waikato DHB Elected Member

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The only cannabis poll that counts is the Referendum itself

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A poll released last weekend has caused much angst and teeth-gnashing among cannabis reformers and consumers. Headlines included New poll suggests recreational cannabis referendum won’t pass and Support plummets for legal pot.

It mirrored a recent 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll that showed 52% opposing legalisation with 39% intending to vote in support (see Majority don’t support cannabis legalisation – new poll).

That itself was a contrast to other recent polls that showed majority support for legalisation, including in May 2019, when 52 per cent of those surveyed said in a Horizon poll that they would vote to legalise, while 37 per cent said they would vote ‘no’. Six months earlier, in October 2018, another Horizon poll was released which showed 60 per cent of people would support the legalisation of cannabis for private use.

So what does all this mean?

First, we can’t deny that support has dropped. This is a wake up call. The absence of detail around what we’ll be voting for, and why, has been filled by the likes of Family First and Mike Hosking. They are leading the debate, because the Government refuses to engage and law reformers have no resources.

Contrary to the hysteria and fear-mongering spread by the likes of McCroskie and Hosking, we have no Big Cannabis backing us. Most businesses can’t see a clear way for them to be involved in any marketplace that is yet to be discussed in detail. I think some are also (quite rightfully) wary of being seen to be involved and potentially reinforcing concerns about business taking over.

And while many advocates and activists favour non-commercial models that focus on home growing, we still find many supporters are wary of donating for fear of what turns up on their bank statement.

It seems there is little chance of law reformers being able to match the fortune Family First has stashed away, or the media reach of NZ’s number one radio jock.

Don’t panic yet.

To borrow a phrase from Winston Peters, the only cannabis poll that counts will be the referendum itself.

And it’s really important to realise two things:

1. The referendum will pass, and

2. It won’t be the same question as this (or any other) poll.

The government will only put up something that will pass by a large majority. They won’t propose a question that fails. That’s why it hasn’t been decided or announced yet.

The Government will put forward a model that is broadly supported, and will pass comfortably. That is a certainty, if only because their future is tied to the result. Anyone who thinks the referendum will fail is asking the wrong question.

It’s not whether the referendum will pass, but what will pass.

At the moment that is perhaps more likely to be restricted to legalising personal use by adults but perhaps not allowing sale or supply, which would leave the lucrative cannabis illicit market in the hands of organised crime. Maybe adults would be allowed to grow a plant or two, or maybe not. Maybe old cannabis convictions would be wiped, or maybe not. Maybe hospices would continue to worry about letting palliative care patients consume on their premises, or maybe not.

We have until about March next year to move public support sufficiently so that the government is confident enough to put up a model that properly regulates cannabis sales to adults.

Anything less will continue to enrich and empower organised crime.

How we can do this

We need to keep our eyes focused on the end goal and just keep doing the hard work that gets us towards this goal, such as public events, speaking, writing letters, collecting petitions, meeting with local representatives, engaging with local Council and service clubs, calling talk back radio, holding exhibitions, and all the usual activity that successful campaigns do.

We must use messaging that convinces the over 50’s. They vote. They won reform ballots overseas. But they haven’t yet been won over here.

The best way to win this important demographic is to focus on crime, safety, and how it will improve their lives, including their family.

Family First are targeting these same people with crime- and safety-related messaging whipping up fears about gummie bears, driving, violence and neighbourhood crime. It’s working for them.

We need to reset the narrative. Start with reading this page for fact-checking the anti-cannabis reports cited by Bob McCroskie and Family First.

Contrary to their claims, cannabis prohibition makes everyone less safe. It empowers organised crime. It hands over a huge lucrative market to enrich organised crime.

Crime and safety are usually a top issue every election, so relate cannabis law reform to this and we will immediately have more conservative people thinking about supporting the referendum.

Access to medicinal cannabis will also help bring over this older group.

It’s also obvious the general public are more concerned with rebuilding communities than building stock values for ganjapreneurs, and I think many people have found the jostling for medicinal cannabis market dominance to be distasteful. Let’s focus on how reforms can increase equity and fairness, and keeping their grandkids, nieces and nephews out of jail.

Our messaging for young people is different because we already have their support, but they often don’t vote. So our campaign is to get people registered to vote, ensure their friends are too, and getting them to actually do it on voting day.

Young people have the most to gain, but this referendum is a make-or-break opportunity that if we lose won’t come around again for another generation. Their future is at stake. Let’s not let them down.

We need to all work together and not at cross-purposes. Fit yourself into a plan, and do things that other people and groups agree are good ideas. Or financially support people who are doing good things, including NORML, #makeitlegal and the NZ Drug Foundation.

Be part of the solution, not just navel-gazing online or criticising from the sidelines.

We need money and your help

If you can help, we desperately need funds and volunteers for our campaign, and keen to hear your ideas.

This is an opportunity to refocus our campaign, not on whether the referendum will pass, but what will pass and how you can help make it happen.

Don’t panic. We can do this.

***

Chris Fowlie is the CEO of Zeacann Limited, a medicinal cannabis producer; co-founder of the New Zealand Medical Cannabis Council; president of the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws NZ Inc; co-founder of The Hempstore Aotearoa; resident expert for Marijuana Media on 95bFM; blogger for The Daily Blog, and court-recognised independent expert witness for cannabis. The opinions expressed here are his own.

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GUEST BLOG: Dean Parker – What do you have in store for us next, Mr Bin Laden?

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John Laing, a director and old friend, rang me three or four years ago and asked was I interested in writing a TV feature about CNN journalist Peter Arnett finding and interviewing Osama bin Laden in the 1990s.

An Auckland producer, James Heyward, had had the idea for it. It was to be aimed at a slot on TVNZ 1’s popular Sunday night seasons of dramatised local real-life stories. 

Sure, Bin Laden wasn’t exactly from New Zealand—though he’d worked on his family dairy farm—but Peter Arnett was from Southland. It would make a change from the usual real-life tales of sport and crime. 

Then John added those magic words about the producer which instantly animates all writers: “I’ve found James pretty good at raising a budget.” 

It was ages since I’d had TV work. I’d been making programme submissions to local production companies down the years but this was more like some sort of annual religious observation one goes through before returning to real life.

The last thing I’d written for TV was years ago, a feature, a dramatised doco about Jim Edwards and the Auckland unemployed riots of 1932. Ian Mune had directed it, doing a brilliant job full of flourishes that matched the surreality of the period. It was ordered cut back from 90 minutes to 75 by a horrified TVNZ, shown on its Sunday night slot and got the lowest viewer ratings in the history of local New Zealand television drama. 

I checked out the Peter Arnett story. 

Osama bin Laden, fresh from defeating the atheist Russians in Afghanistan in the 1980s (with American-supplied weapons), had turned his sights on Washington. He had declared war on the infidel United States. 

He was in exile from Saudi Arabia and this was causing him grief. Saudi Arabia was his homeland, the land of the Prophet, and totally in the pocket of the Americans. 

In the mid to late 1990s he was hiding out round Tora Bora in Afghanistan, hosted by the Taliban. He was constantly thinking and writing about the way Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan had unified Islam and led to the downfall of the Soviet empire. Since then Islam had fractured. It had returned to being a little people. How, then, to unify Islam once more and make it great?

He had his own army, al Qaeda. They were one of a number of Muslim fundamentalist groups that had spokespeople placed in London. 

In fact London was becoming known as Londonistan.

On the CNN payroll at the time was New Zealander Peter “Live from Baghdad” Arnett. He decided, here was a good story. 

He visited the al Qaeda HQ in Dollis Hill and got the okay to interview bin Laden who was looking for international attention.

Arnett then had to get into Afghanistan, which had its borders closed to foreigners. At the main crossover point from Pakistan, the trees were festooned with camera film that had been unreeled and draped about as a warning to photographers and camera operators.

One of Arnett’s fears was he and his small crew might be followed by CIA operatives and become collateral damage in a missile attack on bin Laden, whose whereabouts was much sought after but still unknown to the Americans.

Finally he met with bin Laden and did his interview. 

And here was my major problem. Major, major. 

The whole show hinged upon this interview. Like Frost/Nixon

As a piece of drama, the interview was a dud—apart from the last thrilling question-and-answer: 

“What do you have in store for us next, Mr bin Laden?” “You will have to wait and see, but you will read about it in the media.”

The questions were patsy questions sanctioned beforehand by bin Laden and his media advisers. Follow-up questions were not allowed.

No drama there whatsoever.

But the show was such an opportunity! The 20th century had ended with the fall of Soviet communism. What would start off the 21st century? This wasn’t a backyard kick-around, this was a big story. With central Otago standing in for Tora Bora. Fab-u-lous!

I thought about the stolid interview and figured the only thing to do was write my own. While the camera operator is setting up his gear, polite small talk between New Yorker Arnett and mountain-dweller bin Laden flames into a full-on row about the strengths or otherwise of Western culture and the nature of American foreign policy.

Which would be very satisfying to write. I don’t think America has had a decent foreign policy since the Normandy landings, while at the same time I’m with those who reckon the final word on Islam is its total inability to produce anything like the Marx Brothers or Cole Porter.

So I did the job.

For a bit of local colour and light relief, I had Arnett leaning upon my own dire attempts in the past to get a drink in Muslim states. 

Somewhere in Syria I was chased from a convenience store by an owner irate at my desperate entreaties for a bottle of red. 

In Tunisia I was shown to a doubtful curtained-off back-room in a supermarket. It was like those areas where X-rated videos used to be kept at Video-Ezy stores. 

In Denizli, a diesel town in Turkey, I ended up in a low, evil basement dwelling, below street level,  the refuge of fallen Muslims downing liquor, the very image of that Chestnut Tree Café dispensing gin in Nineteen Eighty-Four: “Under the spreading chestnut tree / I sold you and you sold me…” 

I don’t think these even made it off the script to the editing floor.

But the row between Arnett and bin Laden remains intact. I’ve viewed it once. It’s compelling.

A War Story. TVNZ 1. Sunday, August 25, 8.30pm.

Dean Parker is an Auckland writer

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Real Fascists Don’t Use Swastikas

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ONE OF THE MOST puzzling features of contemporary New Zealand fascism is its self-imposed failure. When fascist groups are discussed, the image conjured-up in the minds of most New Zealanders is one of pathetic misfits. This negative impression is reinforced by the latter’s idiotic embrace of the swastika. Even in the second decade of the twenty-first century, the baleful legacy of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich is more than powerful enough to consign those who embrace its iconography to the category of crank and/or criminal. When combined with the contemporary Kiwi fascists’ shaven heads and multiple tattoos, these wilful references to the defeated fascists of the past fundamentally compromise their entire political project.

Such self-destructive behaviour suggests that New Zealand fascists simply do not understand the nature of the ideology to which they have attached themselves. Above all else, fascists validate the national community. In the local context, this means embracing all the myths and symbols of the New Zealand nation state. No genuine New Zealand fascist would consider for a single moment marching down the street beneath the flag of their country’s World War II enemy!

Genuine fascists present themselves to their fellow citizens not as outsiders, but as the ultimate insiders: the ones whose attachment to the core values of the nation is stronger than any of their political rivals.

That Hitler’s stormtroopers wore uniforms did not strike the Germans of the 1920s as either odd or sinister. (As the wearing of uniforms outside the armed forces and the police most certainly strikes today’s New Zealanders as both odd and sinister.) Many groups in pre-World War I German society wore uniforms – student societies in particular. In most Germans’ eyes they simply betokened unity and collective purpose: positives – not negatives. The swastika, similarly, when adopted as the symbol of the Nazi Party, struck most Germans as intriguing rather than threatening. When it was explained to them that it was an ancient symbol, representing the power and purity of their “Aryan” origins, they were impressed – not repelled.

The equivalent in contemporary New Zealand society would be an ancient Maori symbol. A Kiwi fascist would present this as proof of his movement’s mystical connection with land and people.

The misfits who call themselves fascists, while carrying around the swastika flag, understand nothing about the political iconography of radical nationalist movements. Indeed, it is hard to imagine anything more calculated to make the rest of the country regard them as an outside force that must be destroyed – rather than as a deeply patriotic group with privileged access to the inner wellsprings of their nation’s identity.

Perhaps the best way to illustrate what a New Zealand fascist movement might look like is to describe the rise and fall of the New Zealand Legion – the closest this country has ever come to a mass fascist organisation.

In essence, the Legion represented the outrage and distress of upper- and middle-class New Zealanders at the seemingly intractable problems thrown up by the Great Depression. While the incumbent United-Reform coalition government seemed incapable of effective action, the Labour Opposition struck members of the business and professional classes as a clear and present threat to their wealth and status.

Shaken by the riots of the unemployed in 1932, a group of “patriotic” businessmen, professionals, sheep-farmers, teachers and journalists came together, in February 1933, with the purpose of galvanising the respectable classes into action. Within a few months 20,000 people (mostly males over 40 who had served as officers in the First World War) had joined the NZ Legion – numbers rivalled only by the mass membership of the 1930s Labour Party.

On the card they were required to sign, intending members read:

“[R]ealising the present serious National emergency, and the necessity for all good citizens to subordinate private and political interests and to make any necessary personal sacrifice for the sake of the country, [I] agree to become a member of the New Zealand Legion and to further loyally, by every means in my power, by vote, example and personal influence, the objects of the Legion.

They further pledged to be “loyal to his majesty the King, the British Empire, and the New Zealand Constitution.”

In essence, the Legion sought to take politics out of politics by outlawing political parties. (Which was just a typically pusillanimous middle-class way of calling for the outlawing of the Labour Party!)

Politics, however, was what ultimately killed the Legion. Its leaders and members simply couldn’t agree on what it was, exactly, that patriotic New Zealanders needed to do. Unlike a genuine fascist movement, it lacked a charismatic leader capable of preventing such crippling internal debates by reserving all policy-making powers to himself.

By 1934, the legion was on the wane. A year later, the Labour Party, whose 50,000 members had some very clear ideas about what needed to be done, was elected to govern the country. The Legion was over.

Or was it?

According to the historians at the Ministry of Heritage and Culture:

“With the conservative parties being well and truly trounced by Labour at the 1935 election, the Legion was soon forgotten. Some of its members, though, became active in the new National Party formed in 1936. Eight former Legionnaires were selected as National candidates in the 1938 election, and the movement’s greatest success story, Sid Holland, went on to serve as National Prime Minister from 1949 to 1957.”

Contemporary Kiwi fascists would be wise to take heed of the lesson provided by Sid Holland and his fellow Legionnaires. The cause of radical nationalism is best served by aligning oneself and one’s followers with those individuals and groups possessing the power and resources necessary to advance it.

From the very beginning, Hitler’s Nazi Party (like Mussolini’s fascists) was able to call upon the resources of extremely wealthy and well-connected supporters. And you may be sure that when he called upon these supporters for financial and political assistance, Hitler arrived wearing a well-tailored suit and a silk tie – not a brown shirt. He certainly didn’t arrive carrying the Tricolour or wearing the steel helmet of a French infantryman!

Indeed, when he ran for the German presidency in 1932, Hitler presented himself as a decorated war hero who did not drink or smoke and who followed a strict vegetarian diet. Those newspapers sympathetic to his party’s cause told their readers that this former artist and front-line soldier, who had been awarded the Iron Cross (First Class) for his bravery under fire, loved cakes, dogs, children – and, above all else in the world, Germany.

All of these details were correct.

Of course, if the 37 percent of Germans who voted for Hitler in 1932 had known what he would do to their country, and the world, between 1933 and 1945, it is unlikely that quite so many of them would have given him their support!

But, that’s the terrifying thing about real fascists, they don’t come wearing warning signs, and they aren’t obliged to present us with x-rays of their souls.

That New Zealand’s tiny collection of self-proclaimed fascists choose to come before us bearing both of these identifying items, tells us two very important things. 1) They’re not really fascists. 2) If we want to identify those radical nationalists who are truly dangerous, then we need to look elsewhere than pathetic collections of wannabe führers.

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Political Caption Competition

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Peekaboo

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The Daily Blog Open Mic – Tuesday 20th August 2019

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Announce protest actions, general chit chat or give your opinion on issues we haven’t covered for the day.

Moderation rules are more lenient for this section, but try and play nicely.

EDITORS NOTE: – By the way, here’s a list of shit that will get your comment dumped. Sexist language, homophobic language, racist language, anti-muslim hate, transphobic language, Chemtrails, 9/11 truthers, climate deniers, anti-fluoride fanatics, anti-vaxxer lunatics and ANYONE that links to fucking infowar.

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Dr Liz Gordon: Opening up our prisons

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We walked into the entrance hall and approached the reception desk.  I stated my name to the young woman behind the desk (we were expected) and was given a ‘visitor’ tag.  Behind me across the wide hallway (beautifully tiled) was a small coffee bar and shop. Everyone smiled.

I walked up to the gate and stated my name and business through a speaker.  The door buzzed open and I was inside a metal cage. The door behind me banged shut and I walked the length of the cage.  The door at the other end opened slowly and I walked up to the building. The first doors slid open, but I had to wait to be inspected at the second set. As those doors opened, I saw in front of me an enclosed room with three uniformed officers in it. Beside is was a metal detector. There were frowns as I stated my business.

Each of these paragraphs describe my experiences in entering women’s prisons this year. The second paragraph describes a New Zealand prison.  The first describes Askham Grange Women’s Open prison in Yorkshire, England. I did not mention that the reception staff, the café staff and nearly everyone else we met initially were not staff of the prison, but (in their terminology) residents.

The prison holds 128 women, so it is slightly bigger than Christchurch Women’s. What an open prison means is that there are no gates or barriers.  Residents have to stay within the bounds of the estate unless they have leave, usually to find jobs or re-connect with families as they come close to release. But they are not held in by wire, but by their own determination to obey the rules. You would be wrong in thinking that these women are not serious offenders.  There are sixteen convicted murderers among the residents.

There are no locks on the doors of the bedrooms.  Curfew is 11pm until 6am, and the women must be in their rooms by then. The women all work within the grounds.  There is a vege garden and outside areas to be tended. There is also a ten-woman Mother and Babies unit which is in the grounds. Barnado’s runs the nursery and helps with child welfare.  The unit has an outstanding nursery which receives glowing reviews from education inspectors. The babies are well-stimulated from birth and are generally ahead of their age in development. The women are expected to work once the babies reach three months of age, so full-time childcare is necessary.

The prison costs 1/3 as much to run as other UK prisons.  It is the cheapest prison to operate in the UK by far, as the expensive paraphernalia of security is virtually absent. Just to give one example, the large and airy residents dining room is also the visiting centre, whereas NZ prisons have dedicated visitor rooms which are unused part of the week. All the resources at Askham Grange go on programmes for the women. The aim is to prepare the women in all ways, through education, job training, family reunification and assistance with mental health and addiction problems, for a good life outside.  The recidivism rate is 2%, compared to an average of 63%.

The prison is also a conference centre, holding about 100 people.  Our lunch was cooked by the residents and there were pies, quiches and lasagne, salad, and four kinds of vegetables. The residents talked freely with us and answered questions.  They seemed happy and relaxed.

The village at the end of the lane contains some of the most expensive real estate in Yorkshire.  It is beautiful. The prison has been operating for close to 50 years and there has never been an incident. There is one massive incentive for people to obey the few rules: breaching them means returning to a closed prison. It has happened, but not often.

All of our prisons in New Zealand are high security in the sense of razor wire, single entry, lots of staff, strong security focus, stab-proof vests and so on. There is an inescapable dehumanisation about our prisons, whether intended or not. They are really expensive to run but not so good at development or rehabilitation, or family contact and job-finding.

A first step in prison reform in NZ needs to be moving away from the current model in all our prisons, towards options for variable security levels underpinned by excellent incentives for people in prison to better themselves.  An open prison for both women and men would provide an effective, empowering and low-cost model. These could be run on kaupapa Maori principles and values.

There are things that can be done easily and cheaply that are effective.  At the conference I have just attended, the UK’s shamefully high imprisonment rate (in European terms) was often discussed.  Yet ours in NZ is a third higher than that, despite our peaceful and low crime country. A call for action on this is long overdue. 

Open prisons are not the whole answer, but they are one piece of the puzzle that can easily be fitted into place.

 

Dr Liz Gordon is a researcher and a barrister, with interests in destroying neo-liberalism in all its forms and moving towards a socially just society.  She usually blogs on justice, social welfare and education topics.

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Ongoing drug-test sanctions contradicts Government’s rhetoric on drugs – AAAP

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Reports that two-thirds of beneficiaries who fail drug tests are still having their benefit sanctioned contradicts the Government’s so-called health approach to drugs. Auckland Action Against Poverty is calling on the Government to immediately act on its word and end the drug-test sanction regime.

“We’ve got a hypocritical Government punishing beneficiaries who fail drug-tests yet speaks of moving towards a health based approach to drug use, reassuring people it was not aiming to continue applying this sanction last year”, says Ricardo Menendez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty Coordinator.

“The drug-testing regime is not only expensive, but most people who are subjected to one don’t test positive for drug use. The people who test positive and have a substance abuse problem need support, not punishment.

“Cutting people’s incomes when they have a substance abuse problem only exposes them and their families to more harmful substances, as well as potential homelessness and other health risks.

Last year Minister Carmel Sepuloni admitted that the drug test sanction regime is harmful to beneficiaries, but failed to act on to ensure the sanction was no longer applied. As with other aspects of welfare reform, this Government has been slow to act on its promise of building a welfare system that allows people to live with dignity. Continuing to apply this sanction despite reassurances by the Deputy Chief Executive of Work and Income and the Minister of Social Development exemplifies the ongoing toxic culture at Work and Income.

“The Welfare Expert Advisory Group, commissioned by the Government, was clear that the drug testing sanction regime needed to be put to an end. The Government needs to listen to its own reports and communities on the ground and introduce this change.”

 

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Sanford’s latest gambit a bid to protect profits, not dolphins – World Animal Protection

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World Animal Protection describes an overnight announcement (19 August, embargoed until 6am 20 August), by fishing company Sanford as a cynical move to undermine growing support for full habitat protection for Māui and Hector’s dolphins. World Animal Protection calls on the Government to reject Sanford’s plan immediatley. 

Campaign advisor Christine Rose says Sanford’s self-described ‘innovative’ measures are unproven and reckless. “The announcement is clearly designed to head off further regulation. The scale of the public response to the Threat Management Plan has shown that the world wants full protection for Māui and Hector’s dolphins and Sanford are worried”. 

For years the fishing industry has suggested devices designed to either deter the dolphins from their own habitat, such as pingers, and to eject trawl-caught dolphins from nets once they’re caught. But this has always been to avoid responsibility for entanglement risks and have never been effective or proven.

“Sanford hope that their weak suggestions will head off additional protections for the endangered Māui and Hector’s dolphins” said Rose. “They are designed to protect Sanford’s profits, not dolphins”. 

The company’s proposed thirty-day moratorium on fishing in the habitat if a Māui dolphin is killed is ludicrous. The tiny dolphin population can’t sustain a single death, and no limited moratorium subsequent to any death will sufficiently mitigate the impact of such a loss. 

The International Whaling Commission and the International Society of Marine Mammology have repeatedly called for New Zealand to protect Māui and Hector’s in waters to 100m deep to prevent human made extinction of the species. Many other international and national environmental groups and scientists are unified in urging the removal of set and trawl nets from the entire Māui and Hector’s habitat, out to 100m, in harbours and in the areas between populations where the dolphins are found.

 

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