One picture worth a 1000 words

Recently former first lady Nancy Reagan – the one who introduced astrology into all the important White House decision making – has died. At her funeral this photo was taken :

CdeV41iW0AA5s1O.jpg-smallPresident Bush II & Hillary Clinton

If there was ever a photo, which tells the story of Hillary Clinton better than this I still have to find it.

Here are two people cozying up to each other like an old couple. They of course slept in the same bed or at least bedroom for eight years even if not at the same time. The tenants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC – known as the White House – are members of the most exclusive club and seem to be closely bonded.
However, we must not forget who this affectionate couple in this lovely embrace are.

Bush

George W Bush junior was the 43rd president of the United States and arguably the most disastrous and incompetent president in modern history. You only have to watch him in a Florida class room on 9/11 after receiving the news that America was under attack. Global Research describes it as follows :

At about 9:06, the president’s chief of staff, Andrew Card, came in and whispered in Bush’s ear, telling him, Card later reported, “A second plane hit the second Tower. America is under attack.”
What Happened Next
Thanks to Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11 the world knows what happened next: Bush remained sitting there minute after minute after minute after minute.

What followed later was the invasion of Iraq, which had nothing to do with the attack. That war crime – war of aggression –  was justified by Mr Bush and Blair by lying to their people and the world about non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Over 5000 Americans and hundreds of Brits and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died. Mr Bush gave us Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.  As a result the Middle East region turned into a sectarian quagmire and breeding ground for groups like ISIS and international terrorism on a unprecedented scale.

The greatest achievement of George W Bush on who’s watch despite ample warnings 9/11 happened was the incredible spin winning him a second term ‘that he kept America safe’.

One positive sign from the photo is the fact that the recovering alcoholic is holding a cup instead of a glass with something stronger than coffee.

Clinton

Hillary Clinton of course as a senator voted for the Iraq war in 2002. As Secretary of State she bears responsibility for the US war against the old Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi. She was in the room when Osama Bin Laden was remotely executed in Pakistan.
This has given her the reputation of a hawk and warmonger in Washington. She seems to be comfortable with that image. To be fair as a women she had to keep up with the boys and not allow herself to be seen as “soft”. She is Machiavellian enough to play the game regardless of the costs in human life and misery.

The Picture

The picture of the Bush/Clinton embrace apart from the common bond of the White House tenancy symbolises much more than a closeness in some of their policies.

This image epitomises what is wrong with the US political system. The deterioration of democracy into a system dominated by political dynasties. As if the world greatest power has little other choice to elect a president from hundreds of millions of people born in the USA other than a Bush or a Clinton. Of course all countries democratic or not have always been run by political elites. However, in the US the presidency has been passed on from Bush father to son with the attempt to pass it to brother definitely not based on merit. In the case of Clinton the presidency can now go from husband to wife definitely not because she is the best among 200 million US born Americans. If that is how the succession of power now works in the USA there seems to be not too much difference to North Korea except that they don’t even bother with the expensive charade of elections.

There is of course a need for elites to run things. Any organisation needs Chiefs as well as Indians. All this is fine as long as the Chiefs act in the interests of their community and the Indians have a chance to become chiefs based on merit. This is also known as the American Dream the not just distant hope but distinct possibility to rise from dishwasher to millionaire through hard work and talent. The problem is that the American Dream has over the last 35 years of neoliberal capitalism all but evaporated. The lower and middle classes have gone backwards and the rich-poor-gap has grown exponentially. The elites have over the years become the establishment not acting in the interests of the community but for their own self-preservation. They have been waging a class war against the majority i.e. the working people.

And the majority knows it. After “Occupy Wall Street” and “We are the 99%” they have found their voice in the 2016 election cycle or rather voices on both sides of the political spectrum in Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

In contrast to Clinton both have made the core issues of the class war of the rich against the poor central to their campaigns. These are the influence of Wall Street and corporate money in politics. Sanders does not accept corporate money while Trump boast with his personal wealth thus making him independent from corporate influence. Both oppose the neoliberal trade deals like the TPPA, which are detrimental to jobs and the working classes. Both talk about the most expensive health system in the world where big pharmaceutical corporations enrich themselves at the expense of the most vulnerable patients. And they even want to take on the industrial military complex, which sells crab planes (and other weapon systems) to the government for inflated prices.
These are the things the establishment does not want to hear and the corporate media hardly report.

Of course Sanders and Trump are totally different personalities. One is a decent person who held the same lifelong political believes, which finally are gaining traction and becoming mainstream. The other is a narcissistic buffoon who as a skilled demagogue has learned to tell his angry supporters what they want to hear.
However, they have one thing in common. They are challenging the elites and are rightly seen as the anti-establishment candidates. And they seem to be the only men standing in the way of the self declared proud Goldwater girl Hillary Clinton who is the ultimate  personification of the establishment elite. 

Last year we have seen the election of anti-establishment candidate Jeremy Corbyn as UK Labour Party leader. The grass root membership rose up against the party elite.
Signs are that 2016 might be the year the US electorate rises up against their elites in what Bernie Sanders calls the Revolution. However, he now seems to be unlikely to stop Hillary Clinton as it appears the Democratic Party elite has a much firmer grip on their nomination.

That leaves Donald Trump as the last hope of breaking the picture perfect cozy embrace and stopping the establishment elite of winning. Again.

Not a nice prospect.

And here for the New Zealand connection : If it stops the toxic Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) Trump might as well be worth it.

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

 

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US Elections : Reality TV with Consequences

Consequences for New Zealand

Even as far removed as we possibly can get from the US election circus we cannot avoid watching it. It is on our TV, radio and in the newspapers. Lets asses if the media got it right force feeding us the US election coverage and if indeed we should care. What difference could the result possibly make for little New Zealand down at the bottom of the earth ?  The answer is actually quite a lot.
Like I pointed out in my previous blog about the vacancy on the US Supreme Court what happens in US politics affects us all. Let me give you just two very important examples.

Climate Change 
If the US for instance elect the conservative religious fanatic Ted Cruz as president we are doomed. He like many others on the religious right seems to believe that global warming and sea level rises must be a hoax because in the Bible God promised Noah after the big flood not to do it again. And this guy from Texas who apparently is hated by all his colleagues in the Senate is at this point the most likeliest candidate with a remote chance to stop Trump from getting the Republican nomination.

If our National government after the recent Paris climate summit declared business as usual trying to buy ourselves out of the crisis with bogus carbon credits mostly from the Ukraine and Russia it does not matter much on a global scale. If however the US as the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases would do the same the consequences for the planet, little New Zealand included, would be very grave indeed.

Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA)
Presently at the so called TPP “road show” we are all told a lot of spin and lies by the government. The fact remains that this agreement was drafted by big international corporations like Hollywood, Pharma and Agribusiness. It was over years negotiated in secret with no other stakeholders around the table. It has nothing to do with “free” trade.  It is instead the corporate takeover of sovereign states where so called democratically elected governments surrender democracy to international corporate interests.

Our government is obviously too weak to withstand corporate pressure or can even be seen as a lackey of big corporations. Remember the by lunchtime labour law change on behest of Hollywood and (Sir) Peter Jackson. Our best hope is that the TPP will be stopped in the US. It has already become a major election issue.

Election as Reality TV Show

The dominant candidate is Donald Trump.

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He is described as a narcissist with a hyper inflated ego, a phoney, a conman who takes the American people for suckers. Even if all these characteristics are true nothing seems to put a dent in his popularity with a large number of (Republican) voters. He himself says that he could go out on New Yorks’s 5th Avenue and shoot somebody without loosing a single vote. His headline grabbing policies – if there are policies in the Republican primaries – are loopy. He is promising to build a wall between the US and Mexico, which gets higher by the day to be paid for by Mexico, deport 10 to 20 million undocumented Latinos and ban all of the more than a billion Muslims in the world from the US. He is a self declared billionaire property tycoon, who inflates his wealth as much as his ego. But most of all he is a reality TV star and not a politician. This is his greatest strength.

The campaign circus has deteriorated accordingly. The rulebook for political discourse has been thrown out and the low point still has to be found. In a recent Republican primary debate headlined by the Huffington Post as the “Cock Fight” the all male panel even discussed the size of their private parts.

Trump, underestimated and ridiculed, leads the Republican field by a country mile. How does he do it ?
He is the outstanding TV performer telling people simple messages they want to hear. He is blaming others i.e. the various minorities for their plight. It always feels good if you are kicked by by your employer, your insurance company, the health system, any government department and your wife/husband to still have somebody other than the dog to kick. But his racist xenophobic rants are only the headline grabbers.

As observed by Thomas Frank in the Guardian

“Trump spends a good part of his time talking about an entirely legitimate issue, one that could even be called left-wing. He talks about trade. It seems to obsess him: the destructive free-trade deals our leaders have made, the many companies that have moved their production facilities to other lands, the phone calls he will make to those companies’ CEOs in order to threaten them with steep tariffs unless they move back to the US.
Trump embellishes this vision with another favourite left-wing idea: under his leadership, the government would “start competitive bidding in the drug industry.” (“We don’t competitively bid!” he marvels – another true fact, a legendary boondoggle brought to you by the George W Bush administration.) Trump extends the critique to the military-industrial complex, describing how the government is forced to buy lousy but expensive airplanes thanks to the power of industry lobbyists.
Thus did he hint at his curious selling proposition: because he is personally so wealthy, a fact about which he loves to boast, Trump himself is unaffected by business lobbyists and donations.
Trade is an issue that polarizes Americans by socio-economic status. To the professional class, which encompasses the vast majority of our media figures, economists, Washington officials and Democratic power brokers, what they call “free trade” is something so obviously good and noble it doesn’t require explanation or inquiry or even thought. Republican and Democratic leaders alike agree on this, and no amount of facts can move them from their Econ 101 dream.
To the remaining 80 or 90% of America, trade means something very different. There is a video of a company moving its jobs to Mexico, courtesy of Nafta. This is what it looks like. The executive talks in that familiar and highly professional HR language about the need to “stay competitive” and “the extremely price-sensitive marketplace.” A worker shouts “Fuck you!”
Trump’s words articulate the populist backlash against liberalism that has been building slowly for decades.

Yet still we cannot admit that neo-liberals “bear the blame for the frustration of the working-class millions, for their blighted cities and their downward spiralling lives. So much easier to scold them for their twisted racist souls, to close our eyes to the obvious reality of which Trump is just a crude and ugly expression:
that neoliberalism has well and truly failed.”

Trump vs Clinton

On the democratic side the frontrunner is still Hillary Clinton struggling along against Bernie Sanders who also holds strong anti-neoliberal views calling himself a democratic socialist. He also taps into the widespread frustration of the 99% working and middle class voters.
Clinton on the other hand, being in the pockets of Wall Street epitomises the ruling neoliberal Washington powerbroker elite. If it came to a showdown between outsider Trump and insider Clinton I would not be surprised if many Sanders supporters would hold their noses and vote for the lesser evil Donald Trump.

When I started this blog I never expected to write the last sentence. However, if we can’t get Sanders to beat him we might have to get used to Trump for the greater good to start putting an end to neoliberalism.

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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US Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s Valentine’s Gift

Is it a gift to New Zealand ?

If we like it or not the US Supreme Court matters to us in New Zealand as much as the rest of the “Western” world. We just signed the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). If it gets ratified – which is doubtful in the US – we will get even more immeshed in the US legal, commercial and political system. We ignore it at our peril. Think of patents, copyright, civil liberties, spying on our own citizens, climate change, democracy, you name it. Think of the appointment of George W Bush as president over Al Gore and the resulting disastrous wars in the Middle East. All are greatly influenced or direct results of decisions of the US Supreme Court.

Scalia the Man

US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gave the world a parting gift or rather the gift of parting. He suddenly died on Valentine’s day (New Zealand time).

By all accounts he was an affable witty man with a big loving family and many friends who will be deeply mourning his passing. The last thing anyone would want to do is to further hurt the feelings of all those who suffered a great personal loss.

Scalia’s Supreme Court

The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court gather for a group portrait in the East Conference Room at the Supreme Court Building in Washington, October 8, 2010. Seated from left to right in front row are: Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice John G. Roberts. Standing from left to right are: Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Associate Justice Stephen Breyer. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW) - RTXT71C

US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

However, from afar I can only deal with Scalia the Justice of the US Supreme Court.
He was supposedly the “intellectual” leader of the conservative 5:4 majority. He was the most radical right wing conservative Justice of the court who shaped the judicial landscape of a generation. By opposing any gun control he gave Americans the guns to kill each other in mind blowing numbers. As a staunch supporter of the death penalty he gave America the judicial killings, which affect mostly black Americans and other minorities and inevitably a certain percentage (some estimates say 5%) of innocent people on death row. Life was not sacred to him other than that of a foetus in the womb of any woman including rape and incest victims. He (in Citizens United) gave American corporations human rights specifically the right of free speech. This allows them to spend unlimited amounts of their shareholders’ money – if they like it or not – on political causes, funding political parties and buying political and judicial candidates. He thereby undermined the very democracy America pretends to be so proud of, which should be based on humans being citizens and voters and on the principle of “one man one vote”. Corporations after all don’t vote.
And he gave the world US President George W. Bush – not elected democratically but appointed by the Supreme Court.

Scalia was praised by his supporters for his great constitutional legal mind. If he was indeed the greatest legal mind on the conservative side of the bench what does that say about the rest of the justices ? He in support of the right of free speech for corporations for instance resorted to the distinction between free speaker and free speech in the constitution. You really have to wonder that this sort of meaningless sophistry is deployed to undermine the American democracy.
Scalia was generally known as interpreting the constitution literally and trying to base it on the thinking of the founding fathers almost 250 years ago. As a legal scholar I regard that as plainly ridiculous.

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Republican Supreme Court

The US Republican Party has owned the Supreme Court since the demented days of Ronald Reagan. And they are saying as much. President Bush senior called the appointment of Justice Scalia the greatest legacy Reagan left America. Republican presidential hopeful and Texas Senator Ted Cruz called for the blocking of any Obama nominee for the Supreme Court saying that the Republicans in the Senate should not allow Obama to take the Supreme Court away from them. And he is right. The stakes could not be higher.

It is worth remembering the US constitutional situation in the case of a vacancy on the Supreme Court. The president alone has the right and duty to nominate a replacement who then needs to be confirmed by the US Senate. Neither can just sit on their hands and do nothing. The present Supreme Court is now balanced with four conservative and four liberal leaning justices. There is no casting vote but deadlock if a new justice is not appointed.

Obama has already appointed two Supreme Court Justices without any fuzz as he was only replacing liberal leaning justices and therefore not changing the power balance of the court. This time it is different and the Republicans know it. They and their corporate backers will do everything in their power by kook or by crook to prevent loosing their grip on the court, which has in the past enabled their neoliberal agenda in many crucial 5:4 decisions. They already openly announced that they will not play by the rules of the constitution.

Crucial Timing

Scalia’s death is a gift in two ways.

During a democratic presidency it presents a chance to change the balance of power on the court from conservative, neoliberal pro-corporation and anti abortion to liberal, pro-citizens and women’s rights.

During an election year it presents a chance to draw the attention of the American people and voters to the corruption of the whole system of government in the US. They will plainly see over the campaign period that the Supreme Court is not about the rule of law but corporate interests. And these corporate interests, which are already pouring billions of dollars into the 2016 US presidential and congressional election campaigns have now all the more reason to pull out all the stops. After all the replacement of a Supreme Court  Justice with a lifetime tenure is more important than even the presidency. We can expect it to get very ugly indeed. We already saw the beginning of it at the last Republican debate when the corpse was not even cold.

On the other hand Scalia’s timing presents a unique opportunity for the American voter to actually directly influence the future direction of their Supreme Court.
Will they accept their Valentine’s gift and make the best out of it ?
Will the corporations and their billionaire owners win, again ?
Or will the people, the 99.9%, prevail ?
We’ll know in November.

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

 

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Waitangi Week with a Happy Ending

Lets not get into the annual Waitangi Day racist redneck rants of the uneducated idiots populating our media. They are just a sad indictment of their barren minds and of their media handlers’ desire to find an ever lower common denominator for the listening and watching public.

Provocation backfired

The serious business of the week was conducted on Thursday with the signing of the highly controversial Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
Instead of choosing an iconic beautiful New Zealand setting like Millbrook Resort near Queenstown away from the angry protesters the government opted for maximum provocation with the in the middle of Auckland venue of the seedy Sky City Casino. This casino was one prime example of government corruption cited by an overseas monitoring organisation Transparency International for New Zealand slipping down the corruption ranking.
The government pollsters and spin doctors had told the Prime Minister that nothing would be more effective to detract our minds from the toxic substance of the TPPA and even turn it into support than coverage of ugly and violent protests and hundreds of people arrested.

However, the provocation backfired.

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Not only did the number of protesters by far exceed expectations but they came from all “walks of life” and were good natured and peaceful. Even the police, which in recent times have become a more politicised instrument of the government refused to play ball. After initially intimidating activists by knocking on their doors in the lead-up the police overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and clever peaceful tactics of the protesters did not make one single arrest.

The mainstream media – briefed to drive the neoliberal corporate agenda – were deprived of images of violence and turned instead to show clips of some inarticulate young Maori men who couldn’t quite tell why they were protesting and what was wrong with the signing of the TPPA. If anyone would have asked the same questions of the media on the ground most would have been more articulate but looked even more stupid if confronted with the facts than their interviewees having fun. And don’t get me started on the talk-back radio hosts and callers. You couldn’t get a more opinionated and less informed group of people if you tried.
As the media didn’t have any horror story to tell they made it up. The state broadcaster TVNZ in the prime time news hour reported that the two Labour Party dissenters and TPPA supporters had received death threats. On the late night news when nobody was watching they retracted that story and apologised. Damage done.

Cry-Baby Key

Prime Minister John Key was now desperate to get out of his commitment to attend our national day’s celebrations at the birthplace of our nation in Waitangi. He was scared of more protest as it is tradition on Waitangi Day and his pollsters had told him that his racist redneck constituency was rather in favour of not attending. He tried to cleverly exploit the diversity of opinion within the host tribe about where he was to speak to fabricate an excuse to break his long term commitment.
Former Maori MP and still activist Hone Harawira was spot on calling for the Prime Minister to stop being a cry-baby.
However, John Key again achieved one of his main goals to distract us, the New Zealand public and potential voters, from the real issue, which is the toxic content of the TPPA.

Instead we were treated to the image of a dildo flying across the face of senior government minister Steven Joyce at Waitangi free of charge i.e. the female protester was not charged by the police.

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To add to the hilarity pony-tail pulling hypocrite John Key called it a bad look for New Zealand. No wonder that John Oliver’s “John Key the Ponytail Puller” clip appeared again on my Facebook page.

It looked all up from here starting with some good intelligent conversation with open minded people on Friday night’s jour fix at the pub.

Happy Ending on Sunday

On Sunday I enjoyed the sunny weather and open drive into Auckland without traffic jams. With a friend I went for a walk in the Domain to listen to some live music at the rotunda.

Crossing the sports fields we saw a figure almost colour coordinated with the beautiful tree he was shading under. He was sitting in the Lotus position hands open in his lap as if meditating, looking serene. Only when we came closer we saw the smartphone in his hands. Meditation 2016 style.

People had gathered in front of the rotunda having picnic and enjoying the sunny afternoon under the trees. Some were dancing to the music. Then one tall blond women joined in with a huge belly showing that she was close to giving birth. Her partner was careful not to pump into her just from time to time gently holding her hands. Her dance moves were so beautiful and graceful that it was pure joy to watch. As I am of an age where I can safely approach women without getting punched in the head I talked to her when she sat down. I thanked her for dancing and that it was the loveliest thing I had seen for a long time and that I bet that her baby was having the time of it’s life. I hope that I made her day as she did mine.

Later at Orewa beach I had a swim in the surf being pummelled by the breakers. As an immigrant of over 30 years I still pinch myself how lucky I am to live in this blessed country.

On my drying off walk along the beach I watched to my great enjoyment an as feisty as mad little Jack Russel dog chasing along with the kite surfers and charging into the water to catch them. Being an ideal day for kite surfing with many surfers zipping along there was to be one very tired little dog at the end of it.

Today I am wondering if there was a lesson to be learned.
Shouldn’t we all stop chasing red herrings pulled across our noses like flags, dildos and pony tails.
Shouldn’t we instead keep the eye on the ball, which is the neoliberal corporate takeover of New Zealand and the world.

Still that Sunday and Waitangi week for me had a happy ending.

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

 

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Opotiki – New Zealand’s Colonial Past & Present

Summertime in Opotiki

During the summer break we visited Opotiki for just a couple of hours.  The small Eastern Bay of Plenty town made a deep impression on me.

Our friend a local school teacher got his car fixed and we went with him into town not expecting much with the time we had to kill. I was teasing him about Opotiki recently being discovered as the under-age-sex capital of New Zealand. Some overeager righteous parents had complained about some boys over sixteen having sex with girls under sixteen. Oh shock horror ! Poor Opotiki College got into the headlines even if the events had nothing to do with the school other then that some of the youth do or did attend the college. The police would not have (over-) reacted would they not have been under pressure because of a previous mishandling of serious sexual offending against young girls in Auckland, which played out in the social media.

The first thing, which pleased me was the number of little art shops, galleries and the museum I did not expect to find in this poorer part of the country not bristling with tourists. The shops and galleries were full of the works of local artists many of them Maori or in the Maori cultural tradition and design and materials. What a wonderful contrast to the usual op shops full of cheap European nick-nags or made in China rubbish.

Thursday

Walking down the main street I saw a big group of people gathered around  some impressively tattooed men in gang regalia and thought that I’d come across the Mongrel Mob headquarter. Getting closer however, I saw the little historical colonial courthouse and I realised my mistake. As a former lawyer I was interested to see the wheels of justice in motion. I talked to the lovely friendly Maori aunty who’s job it was to call the defendants and usher them into the court room for their appearance before the judge of the day. Taking a seat in the back I noticed that among the about thirty people in the room I was one of only three white faces. All were Maori including the judge.

I watched two cases being dealt with. One a pre-sentencing referral. The judge took great pains to instruct the obviously already convicted defendant in his thirties what he had to do before his next appearance to qualify for home detention. Otherwise the sentencing judge would have no choice but send him to jail. I hope that the man headed the advice as he did not seem to be bothered too much about jail or otherwise giving his supporters in the back a big smile and thumps up as he walked out.
This reminded me of the myth perpetuated by middle class white people calling for more and harsher jail sentences as a deterrent. However, because it would be a deterrent to them does not mean that it is a deterrent to the disadvantaged downtrodden brown offenders as well. Many of them feel at home in prison.

The second case was a traffic offence. The middle aged defendant with a full moko (facial tattoo) was challenging the jurisdiction of what he called this “colonial” court. The judge already had made a determination. It was clear what the outcome would be namely that the district court had jurisdiction in traffic offences even if the offender happened to be Maori. However, because of a clerical error the judge accepted the new submission and would decide on it before the next hearing. The defendant who stood his ground said that the days of martial law were over and he would attend a whanau (family group) meeting and then it would go to some tribal “supreme court” in Tauranga. I must admit that I admired the judge’s patience taking notes for instance of the street address of the supreme court and encouraging the defendant to report the outcome from these what he called “hui” (meetings) to the court. He showed empathy and respect. He did not talk down at the defendant and left his mana (dignity and honour) intact. Even if in the end the outcome will be the same – as I know the argument has been dealt with many times before in New Zealand courts – I was deeply impressed by the dignified way this Maori judge handled the situation. I wonder if a pakeha (European) judge would have done the same.

When I told people of my experience of the Opotiki Mongrel Mob headquarters/court house they all said : Thursday, court day in Opotiki !

Colonial History

About 100 meters across the road stands the well kept colonial Anglican church.

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Part of it’s history is the infamous murder of Anglican missionary Carl Völkner. After a very questionable short “judicial” process Chief Mokomoko among others was hanged for the murder.

“As a result of the murder, the Government sent military troops to Opotiki; the Mokomoko family were reduced to just 30 women and children and 70,000 hectares of land was taken from them. The Mokomoko family have since carried the shame of bringing raupatu (land confiscation) to Opotiki.” (Rotorua Daily Post 2011)
Entering the church you cannot avoid looking at the framed document with the pardon of Mokomoko by the Governor General in 1992. At the back of the church you still find Völkner’s tomb stone where his decapitated corps was buried by the local Maori. His head was never found.
In 2011 further action was taken to rehabilitate Mokomoko.
“In granting the pardon in 1992, the Crown did not consult with the Mokomoko whanau on the wording which implied the pardon was granted because of similar pardons for Mokomoko’s co-accused,” Dr Sharples (Minister of Maori Affairs) said. “And so did not restore the character, mana and reputation of Mokomoko.”
He said, through these actions, the Crown had perpetuated the shame and stigma carried by the whanau of Mokomoko.
“I want to apologise to the whanau and express sincere regret for the way the Crown has acted in the past.”

Result of Colonisation

At the end we went past a group of lovely young late teen Maori girls one of them with a baby in a pram just being able to hold the bottle sucking on the teat. I was aghast to notice the distinct colour of the fizzy drink Fanta the about ten months old baby was drinking. I am sure the young mother wants the best for her baby thinking that a sugary fizzy drink was  better then just water. I was reminded of the anti-obesity campaign featuring Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams with the catch phrase “Too much Love”.

I could not get that image out of my head especially as I have a grandchild of the same age in my house. I started wondering if this had something to do with what has happened to this community over the period of colonisation. This young mother has lost contact to the the wisdom of her own culture but is not educated enough to be aware of the perils of the Western fizzy drink culture.

Was this the image where colonial past and present came together ?

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

 

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Church of Neoliberalism

Traditional Religions

I was baptised and raised as a Christian with Sunday school and later confirmation. To be precise I was a Protestant, which according to Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life” allowed me to buy condoms.
However before I ever had a need for those I ceased to believe in the biblical stories we were told. As in the words of Dr. Gregory House (immortalised by Hugh Laurie in the television series “House”) you believe in religion till you grow your curly hair. Which means that with puberty we start to develop our rational critical faculties and start to think for ourselves and challenge authority. Anyone dealing with teenage children will tell you so.
Some come through that necessary phase of growing up still as faithful believers. Which indicates that there might have been some developmental mishap.

In some parts of the world – Christian included – religious faith is still leading some believers to extreme practices like self-flagellation.

Flagellate1

What defines religion as fundamentally different to for example science is that it relies on faith not facts in how to interpret the world we live in and how to set the rules for their followers. Another thing the main religions have in common is that they claim a monopoly on exercising these powers, which leads to monotheism as in the example of the biblical first commandment.

Over recent decades at least in the so called West the influence of religion has waned. In New Zealand for example according to census figures the number of people affiliated with Christian religions has fallen  from 60% in 2001 to well under 50% in 2013. Similar trends are observed in all Western countries. Most of them not only call themselves secular but have explicit secular provisions in their constitutions. Even in Britain where the union of Church (of England) and the state still exists the influence of religion is steadily declining.

At the same time however, a new secular religion has emerged. God in his/her various forms has been replaced by the Market. All the other hallmarks of the traditional religions are the same.

Church of Neoliberalism

Emeritus professor Richard Norgaard at Berkeley in an excellent must read essay titled The Church of Economism and Its Discontents talks about the religious qualities of Economism in a broader sense. However I like to be more precise to emphasise the economic theory of the last 30 plus years by calling it the Church of Neoliberalism.

Norgaard on economics and on economists :
Economists themselves have acknowledged the ultimately religious nature of their discipline. In 1932, Frank Knight, the most scholarly and broad-thinking of the founders of the influential market-oriented Chicago school of economics, literally argued that economics, at a fundamental level, had to be a religion, the basic tenets of which must be hidden from all but a few:
“The point is that the “principles” by which a society or a group lives in tolerable harmony are essentially religious. The essential nature of a religious principle is that not merely is it immoral to oppose it, but to ask what it is, is morally identical with denial and attack.
There must be ultimates, and they must be religious, in economics as anywhere else, if one has anything to say touching conduct or social policy in a practical way. Man is a believing animal and to few, if any, is it given to criticise the foundations of belief “intelligently.”
To inquire into the ultimates behind accepted group values is obscene and sacrilegious: objective inquiry is an attempt to uncover the nakedness of man, his soul as well as his body, his deeds, his culture, and his very gods.
Certainly the large general [economics] courses should be prevented from raising any question about objectivity, but should assume the objectivity of the slogans they inculcate, as a sacred feature of the system.”

Have you ever wondered why none of the economists who are always so sure of themselves has predicted the global financial crisis of 2008, which common sense people could see coming. Because economics does not deal with facts like other social sciences. It  is a religious sect busy performing their rituals for the congregration.
“Although economics is cloaked in the rhetoric of science, the modern economy runs on faith.”

The moral Dimension of Neoliberalism

Again Norgaard :

The moral dimension of economism becomes apparent in how it is invoked to justify the status quo. Since the neoliberal transition that accompanied the election of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Helmut Kohl, it has become increasingly common, in both private conversation and political rhetoric, for people to argue that markets correctly determine who gets what. The achievement of great wealth is a sign of merit, even moral probity, whereas poverty is a result of individual moral failings. Because wealth is “earned,” it should not be taxed, even to provide for basic needs such as public education. The wealthy are the “job creators” on whom the system depends, and increased taxation would hinder them in performing the “good work” of getting rich. Economism, by rationalizing market outcomes, becomes the new “opium of the people,” playing the role Marx once attributed to religion in keeping people from rising up against the system.

Galbraith, the most successful economist of the 20th century has seen it clearly :

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The role of the traditional Churches also has always been to subdue their followers and prevent them from rising up against their rich and powerful tormentors the church itself among them. And there are many more similarities between economics and religion for instance how they treat heretics. The economic heretics are lucky not to be burned at the stake. They are instead ridiculed and isolated by their peers and stymied in their careers.

Religious Extremes

Even in its extremes the new secular religion of Neoliberalism resembles the the old traditional religions down to self- flagellation. Here you see some poor US Southerners dependent on social security and obviously in need of medical help having voted for the Republican Party, which campaigned on cutting social welfare and medicare.

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The same thing happens all over the Western world under neoliberal rule where the vast majority of voters vote against their own self-interest. This alone disproves the basic tenet of Neoliberalism that everyone acts in his own best economic self-interest.

While their blood soaks the ground the super-rich 0.1% are laughing all the way to the bank. Religious leaders never spill their own blood. They leave that to their most ardent and stupid followers.

That is what you get if you pray at the alter of Neoliberalism.

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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One Photo worth $ 276,753.05

To be precise it was not just this one photo but the one photo opportunity, which lead to this photo and the rest of the coverage of John Key’s last visit to New Zealand troops in Iraq, which cost the New Zealand Defence Force alone NZ 276,753.05 dollars.

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First of all I have to acknowledge and thank the Prime Minister’s Department for passing my Official Information Act (OIA) request on to the defence force and their Chief of Staff Commodore G.R.Smith for his timely response. I hope that he does not get into trouble for this under the “No – Surprises” policy of the government.

Pastoral Care or Propaganda ?

When the commander in chief visits the troops for some photo-, television- and selfie- opportunities it might be a good thing for our people in the desert.
Talking to the soldiers and giving them a pat on the back or pull on a pony tail for the female members of the armed forces might increase moral and qualify as pastoral care. That however, could have been achieved without 8 journalists travelling with the PM. We don’t know if the soldiers other than the top brass actually enjoy the media attention. Remember all the secrecy around their deployment allegedly for their own personal safety ? When the last lot came back the media at home were not even allowed to film them getting off the plane.

Then there is the question about the reporting from the camp in Iraq. The news value of the coverage we received is questionable. What we ‘learned’ is that our training contribution was very much appreciated by the Iraqis. The Iraqi officers who were asked would say that wouldn’t they.
And we ‘learned’ that our soldiers had something special in doing the training job the “Kiwi Way”. I know and appreciate that there is something very special about the way how Kiwis relate to other people. I wonder however, how much difference the “Kiwi Way” makes in a hot desert camp in Iraq where our soldiers are basically training some Arabs to kill other Arabs. No questions asked.
Will they become more deadly fighters being trained the “Kiwi Way”?
However, as you’d expect those questions were not asked when our media trotted out and regurgitated the old “Kiwi Way” myth.

Any pastoral care could most likely have better been achieved without the prying eye of the media.
The news value from the reporting we have seen was more than questionable.
It therefore appears that the whole prime-ministerial trip boils down to a public relations or rather propaganda exercise for Mr Key.

Let’s then look at the propaganda value of what eight journalists produced out of Iraq. The only memorable new thing were the images of John Key in protective armour and desert coloured cap looking like a strong leader as a war prime minister should. When I showed the above image to my son his immediate reaction was : “John Key is having a good day and loving it.”

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These images are worth every taxpayer’s cent the Defence Force spend and more for “Brand Key”. The man nothing sticks to and no scandal can penetrate body armour or not. The only thing, which sticks in my throat is that I paid for the cap as part of the $4,680.81 cost for “equipment, clothing and consumables” as specifically listed in the OIA response.

Timing and Context

We have to remember the timing of the trip and appearances of these images. It exactly coincided with John Key and his minister Tim Grosser in Atlanta signing the TPPA and surrendering New Zealand’s sovereignty and selling our economic future to international corporations. All this while we were not looking being instead distracted by these images from Iraq.

Isn’t it ironic that we have been fed the above images at the exact time when the man featured betrayed everything New Zealand soldiers fought for in WWI and WWII ? That is the democratic right to determine our own future.

The Middle East

Looking at the situation in the Middle East and Mr Key in it I am thankful for a couple of things.
One is our good fortune not to have an aircraft carrier or anything else to land on. John Key would have been on it George Bush style to portray himself as the great helmsman.
The other is the fact that a wiser previous government disestablished the NZ strike airforce. We would by now be bombing Iraq and Syria with the same effect as the German Blitz on London and Coventry.

But to end on a positive note. There are good images coming out of the Middle East. Thanks to Twitter we see Sonny Bill Williams “making new friends” in a refugee camp in Lebanon.

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We didn’t even have to pay for seeing this Kiwi sporting hero making friends for us.

In contrast the taxpayer funded images of our Prime Minister in Iraq are showing New Zealand making enemies.

The difference is far more than just the cost to the taxpayer of NZ$ 276,753.05

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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We are better than this

The recent Canadian election campaign, which ended in the defeat of the conservative Harper government featured one outstanding campaign ad. It was not produced by the opposition but Adbusters, the Vancouver based anti-consumerist organisation. Even if it is pretty shocking it is a must see clip.

The ad features a man spitting on a Canadian flag sewn onto a woman’s bag.
Adbusters says that is based on an actual incident that happened at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.
What happened?” the man says. “You used to be the good ones.”
The narrator declares, “He was right.”
The ad also shows images of a country that has gone from achievements to be proud of, to a kind of police state that is wreaking havoc on the environment.
I used to be proud of my country,” the narrator laments, “we have come a long way together, but lately we’ve been led astray. And the world now sees us for what we’ve become.
The final line reads: We are better than this.

Looking at New Zealand over recent times up to yesterday and today I cannot get this ad out of my head.

 New Zealand’s reputation under threat

New Zealand more than most countries relies for our economic wellbeing on it’s good will, it’s positive image. The country is dependent on trade with our overseas customers. Buying our product they want not only value for money but want to feel good about it. For this we have developed the image of the “100% Pure Clean Green New Zealand“. However, the reality does not even come close to that image. It should be only a matter of time till New Zealand will be charged with advertising fraud if only anybody would take our claims seriously. Just take a few examples from recent times.

Our prime export commodity is dairy products. We promote the image of happy cows on pristine green pastures in contrast to overseas production, which mostly happens indoors where cows are housed and milked. The feed there is often imported, shipped and trucked around the world at great cost not only financially but to the environment. However, if we look closely our dairy production is far from lilly white. As a consequence of dairy farming most of our rivers are so polluted by nitrogen that they are not safe to swim in. The methane emissions from our livestock account for about half of our green house gas emissions. And we are right at the top on a per capita basis. Our industrialised dairy production relies also in part on imported palm oil seeds for feed, which also contributes to the increasing destruction and burning of the tropical rain forrest in Indonesia. Also a major contributor to climate change.
On top of this we this week were confronted with disturbing images of cruelty to bobby  calves as a byproduct of the milk production. Images, which will go around the world to the consumers of our products as the activist against cruelty against animals have promised.

Our dairy trade is not the only industry threatened by the fact that reality does not match the beautiful imaginary portrayed abroad. Most of our tourists come here with that image in mind. We can be sure that it will have a major impact when potential visitors find out that the clean green 100% pure New Zealand image is just false advertising: 100% pure bullshit. The customer backlash is going to hurt the whole country. It will affect other exports as well, which based on our image and good will have up till now produced premium returns  for our horticultural and wine industry. The dirty big secret is bound to come out.

Climate-Change policy

The biggest threat to our international reputation is our government’s policy on climate change.

Listening to our prime minister at the UN climate summit in Paris making promises with his fingers firmly crossed behind his back makes you angry and want to spit on our flag.

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One policy making the headlines was to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, which internationally amount to over US$ 750 billion annually. New Zealand does not directly do this and therefore it is cheap to demand. What we do instead is subsidise oil & gas exploration at a time when we know that this is the last thing we need to find more fossil fuel resources under the sea. If the world is to have any chance to keep global warming to the agreed maximum of 2  degrees most of the already known reserves of coal and oil have to be left in the ground. So we don’t need to find any new ones. This goes to show that our government is not at all serious about the future of mankind on planet Earth.

New Zealand after the pathetic hypocritical performance of our Prime Minister in Paris was shamed by winning the wooden spoon  “Fossil Of The Day Award”. The world is watching with 8000 journalists in attendance. There is not enough advertising space available to repair the damage.

And we have the means in our country blessed with an abundance of renewable resources to make a real difference if there only would be the political will.

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Are we better than this ?

I first came to New Zealand in 1981 before Neoliberalism had arrived. Everyone I talked to beforehand was full of praise for this beautiful blessed country. I promptly fell in love with it and it’s people and immigrated in 1984. In those days like the Canadians who don’t want to be mistaken for US Americans we proudly attached our flag to our luggage to be safe and liked.

Thirty years of Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us and especially the last seven years of the neoconservative Key government. So I am not so sure if people who really know the New Zealand of 2015 still like us as they did in years back for good reasons.  Advertising and PR do work only for a limited time if not matched by reality.

Our chance to show the world that we are better than this comes around every thee years. Will we take that chance in 2017 – like the Canadians did – and toss out our present conservative government and even better neoliberalism altogether. This year will be another record hot year. We are facing a severe drought in the coming months. How many more record floods, droughts, hurricanes around the world and in our backyard will it take to show the world that we are better than this. 

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

Posted in Economics, Environment, politics, Society | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

They have Guns. F–k them. We have Champaign. *

It took me more than a week to turn to one of the more important events of the year the terrorist attacks of Friday the 13th in Paris.  First I had to let the tsunami of media coverage wash over me, let the dust settle a bit and have some good night sleeps before I hit the keyboard.

The story of the terror attacks on Paris has distinct aspects, which I will try to differentiate in my assessment. There are the attacks themselves and their roots and reasons in the Middle East as well as at home. And there is the reaction of the corporate media hand in glove with the political elite. Both seem to have one thing in common that they both are brutally violent.  They are two sides of the same coin feeding off each other with no end in sight.

One Attack somewhere in a long line

Unfortunately the Paris attacks are not the first and will not be the last. The ground they sprang from in the Middle East as well as in France is still fertile. And by all accounts the reaction from the West fertilises the ground even more.

The Muslim World

The West has created a lot of very angry hateful people in the Arab world going back decades. It started when the Arabs were betrayed after WWI by the allies they have been fighting for. It continued when the guilt ridden WWII allies allowed the Zionist state of Israel to be established on Arab land. The victims of that ethnic cleansing are still lingering in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Gaza. In 1967 the occupation of the West Bank and the Golan Heights begun and is still ongoing. The young people are living without hope and have been taking up stones against guns as long as we care to remember. The repression is getting more brutal by the day including building a wall through Arab land and taking the scarce water resources. Israel is doing it with impunity against countless UN resolutions because of the backing of the USA.

On top of all this the West/the former colonial powers have consistently contributed to  the suffering of the people by supporting the most corrupt autocratic oppressive regimes.

It followed the illegal 2003 Iraq war and occupation, which started the latest round of disastrous Western interference, which destabilised the whole region. Hundreds of thousand died, mostly civilians. The Iraqi army was disbanded and it’s highly professional often British trained Sunni officers were left to join ISIS. It continues with extra-judicial killings by drone strikes. Recently drone pilots who do the killing and watch the results on their computer screens back in the US in an open letter to the US president told us that ‘Civilian Killings Driving ‘Terrorism, Instability’. The Air Force whistleblowers say that the US drone program “is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world.”

As the US are not likely to listen to their own pilots the consequence are that terrorism will not only continue but increase. On 9/11 2001 New York was hit, in 2004 it was Madrid, in 2005 London and now in 2015 it was Paris’ turn for a second time. Nobody expects that this was the end. And as a true Westerner I only list the major Western targets and not the attacks in the Third World like Bali and Mumbai and the attacks around the Middle East and Africa.

Homegrown Terrorism in the West

On 9/11 New York was attacked by foreigners from the Middle East mostly by our best friends the Saudis. The London and as far as we know the Paris attacks were executed by homegrown terrorists.
We have to look again for what creates such hatred in Muslim suburbs of Paris that young Frenchmen kill other young French people. Here the story goes back to France’s brutal colonial war in North Africa and the influx of many Muslims from the Magreb region. They of course fare much better than their Palestinian brethren under Israeli occupation but still are second class citizens with well documented social problems.

Add to that the rise of religious fundamentalism among Muslims in the Middle East as well as Christians in the US. Crazy people who believe in Armageddon in their lifetime. Remember George W Bush not only spinning us the lie of weapons of mass destruction but justifying his criminal war against Iraq because God told him so.

In other words the attacks were totally predictable. And so did Nafeez Mosaddeq AhmetAt the end of last year, as politicians and pundits cheered on coalition airstrikes in Syria, [he] wrote this: 
“The war on ISIS has already been lost. As regional instability escalates predictably as a direct consequence of the US-UK led non-strategy, ISIS will become stronger, and reactionary terrorist violence against western targets will proliferate – in turn fuelling reactionary and militant responses from western foreign policy establishments.

The Western Reaction

The first to react were the media.
In New Zealand TV ONE decided to devote one and a half Saturday night prime time television hours on the attacks with very little substance to fill the time other then the advertising. I had the distinct impression that our state broadcaster in true commercial form started to make money from the event. The personal tragedies for so many victims and their families will fill the papers for some time to come

Others were making money too. In the morning my son watching the markets reported a notable rise in the stocks of the arms and security industry. There of course would be no war if there would not be huge amounts of money to be made. There is the crux of the matter as well as the solution. Cut off the arms and ammunition supply and let these fundamentalist Muslims who mostly kill their own countrymen go at each other with sticks and stones. However, that would be the last thing the arms industry would allow.

As soon as the media were able to drag the first politicians in front of the cameras they were prompting them to ask for increased surveillance powers and military retaliation. The media were calling for a violent response. Just watch Glen Greenwald blast CNN over this. Or another CNN guest calling for We Should Bomb Even Hospitals, Universities To Fight ISIS. It seems CNN will let just about anyone air their warmongering views on the network. 
One has to feel sorry for French President Hollande, who resorted to the predictable reflex of violent retaliation launching more airstrikes against Syria and now even pushing for a ground war. Any other response would have been political suicide. And by all we know that is exactly what Islamic State intended to lure the Western ‘infidels’ into the trap of a more and more violent conflict on their terms and territory.

Some of the media headlines and stories and utterings of politicians struck me as particularly strange. One said that France found itself at war. I wonder where she had been all year while the French airforce were bombing Islamic State in Syria.

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Is it war only when the killing reaches your shores ? Did the French government expect that the bombing would go unanswered like in the case of the Rainbow Warrior ? That only one side of the war would do the bombing and shooting while the other would just sit there and take it ? Was the West deceived by the Israeli/Palestinian conflict where mostly one side does the shooting while the other throws back stones ?

Then came Charlie Hebdo, the anti-Islamic satirical French magazine, which itself suffered a murderous attack earlier in the year with the following cover :

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This reads in English :   They have Guns. F–k them. We have Champaign.

What were they thinking putting an image on their front page where out of the bullet holes of the victim pours Champaign instead of blood and talking about the them and the us .

If this is any indication of the attitude of France and the West then God, Allah, Yahweh or anything else, which might be out there, may help us.

* Cover of French satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo”

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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Australia = Racism & Xenophobia = Human Rights Abuse

Australia, the lucky country ?

Australia likes to call and see itself as the lucky country. And it has many reasons to feel that way. Anyone who has ever visited is struck by it’s natural beauty in great diversity from it’s beaches to the red centre. There are so many iconic picture postcard images identifiable as unique Australian to make most other countries envious.

Ayers Rock Under a Blue Sky Uluru National Park, Australia

Ayers Rock Under a Blue Sky Uluru National Park, Australia

However, even the breathtaking natural beauty comes increasingly with a serious downside. The weather extremes seem to give us either severe droughts or floods. There are (lack of) water problems not only in the most populous part of the Murray/Darling river catchment of the Eastern part but even more serious in Western Australia. All this of course aggravated by climate change.
It is an irony that one of the riches of Australia they are exploiting on a massive scale is coal, which directly contributes to climate change. Australia does  not only export coal but also uses it extensively for local power generation despite having ideal conditions for sustainable energy production like solar.
Another of Australia’s riches is space. A whole continent sparsely populated, which could do with more people.

How come then that the Australians are so paranoid about the arrival of a few hundred boat people that they ship them off to far away islands in the Indian and Pacific Ocean including women and children ? Of course not all Australians suffer this condition and many are actually appalled by what is done in their name. However, it seems to be a sizeable majority as both major parties seem to outdo each other especially at election times to stem the “flood” of boat-people by treating them extra harshly and inhumanely.

Racist History

Not only did the colonial history of Australia start as a British penal colony being settled by the low life and petty criminals from England but it was a extremely racist country from it’s conception. When the first English settlers arrived they regarded Australia as ‘terra nullius‘ a land that nobody owned. In International Law ‘terra nullius’ describes territory that nobody owns so that the first nation to discover it is entitled to take it over, as “finders keepers”. This despite the fact that the British boat people were greeted at the beach by Aborigines who had lived there for around forty thousand years. The indigenous people where not even regarded as human but listed under Australian fauna. They then became one of the first victims of British genocide.

These extreme racist attitudes and policies continued over time till today. Since Australia  became an independent self-governing country it had a British only immigration policy. After WWII when Europe was full of refugees and displaced people the then immigration minister had to trick the Australian people into accepting non-British immigrants. He send his officials to the camps across northern Europe to select the most beautiful Aryan specimen the Nazis could not have chosen better for their breeding programme to fill the first immigrant ship. When she arrived in Melbourne the news reel cameras were rolling and the Australian people were pleased with what they saw and accepted immigrant who looked like them or even better. It took many more years to let Southern Europeans in. The White Australia policy lasted many more decades. Even Asians who had come to help defend Australia during war were not allowed to stay.

Only through a referendum in 1967 did Aborigines who had lived there for 40,000 years become Australian citizens some of them having already fought under the Australian flag in WWII. In the 1950s and 60s murdering indigenous people without punity called Abo-Hunting was still considered a sport in some places.

This is the history we have to take into account to understand today’s Australian ingrained racist attitudes.

Experience of Australian Racism

From my personal experience with Australian people I just want to recall a few events.

In 1992 the Australian Hight Court in the landmark Mabo vs Queensland decision for the first time recognised native land title. The ‘terra nullius’ doctrine was overturned for Australia. I was among the group of the Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating visiting a West Auckland Marae. A huge pack of Australian media where quizzing their prime minister over the decision as if the sky was falling in over Australia and what it all was going to cost the commonwealth. Nobody mentioned that with this court decision centuries of injustice could come to an end.

In 1998 we did a cruise around the Yasawa Islands of Fiji. Unfortunately the small local cruise ship was dominated by a group of racist rednecks from Queensland  who made the experience almost intolerable. To be fair to the Australians it has to be said that the expat New Zealanders among the group were as bad if not worse.

At present among our friends and family who live across the ditch many plan to come home giving the intolerance and racist xenophobia in Australia as one of the reasons.

Today’s Human Rights Abuses

The Australian human rights abuses in today’s headlines are mostly directed against asylum seekers. The indefinite detention policy was already in breach of Australia’s obligation under international law. As a further deterrent against desperate refugees risking their lives in leaky boats to reach Australian shores they are now shipped off to remote islands in the Indian and Pacific oceans with no access to legal representation or hope to be treated humanely and fairly. (See Pamela Curr in Left Turn: Political Essays for the New Left)
New Zealand was forced to take notice when our citizens ended up in the same modern day concentration camps run by the infamous private prison company SERCO. Late last year in another knee jerk reaction to perceived muslim terrorist threats Australia passed a law allowing them to deport any non Australian citizen with a criminal record of one year or more imprisonment even if the person had lived in Australia since he was an infant and any other person the minister deemed undesirable. These people had done the time often years back and were picked up from the street and in early morning raids ripped from their families and some ended up on remote Christmas Island.

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When opposition MPs in the New Zealand Parliament raised concerns about these human rights violations against New Zealand citizens Prime Minister John Key tried the old “dead cat” trick to distract from his failings by deviously accusing his critics of supporting rapist, murderers and child molesters even if none of them were.

If that was not bad enough creating a huge furore his alter ago and media personality Mike Hosking in a rant a few days later trying to distract from his master’s lying and insults in parliament basically defended the human right abuses as nobody wanted and cared for those people anyway.

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However, what really should offend every single New Zealander is last years joint statement by the Australian and New Zealand PMs as quoted by Toby Manhire :

No other bilateral relationship has the same immediacy and commonality as the links between Australia and New Zealand. We share common values, including a strong commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.”

Our Prime Minister has again shown that he has no knowledge nor sense of history. I like to think that Kiwis have no immediacy and commonality with racists, xenophobe human rights abusers.

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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