Corruption – its much more than that

Thanks to public radio I just  heard an almost hour long excellent Kim Hill interview on Radio New Zealand National. She spoke with Sarah Chayes reporter and author of


Here is someone who actually knows what she is writing and talking about.

After covering the fall of the Taliban and the early weeks of post-Taliban Afghanistan, Chayes decided to leave reporting and stay behind to try to contribute to the rebuilding of the war-torn country. She lived and worked in the former Taliban heartland, Kandahar, for most of the next decade. In 2005, she founded a small manufacturing cooperative, which produces high-quality natural skin-care products from licit local agriculture. She speaks the Pashto language.
In 2010, Sarah Chayes became a special adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen. In this capacity, she contributed to strategic US policy on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Arab Spring.
She also extensively visited other corruption riddled countries like Nigeria and Egypt.

The review of her book in The Telegraph by Oliver Bullough sums up her findings:

The book opens with an account of an acquaintance from Kandahar who was assaulted by police for refusing to pay a bribe, and who then had his phone smashed when he reported it. She heard the story from the man’s brother, a former police officer himself, who was furious and told her: “If I see someone planting an IED (improvised explosive device) on a road, and then see a police truck coming, I will turn away, I will not warn them.”
Much Western analysis has referred to countries such as Afghanistan as “failed states” but, Chayes argues, this is misguided. Their rulers have no intention of providing the services we think a state should provide, but want only to get very rich. Looked at from this perspective, Afghanistan is successful.
In examinations of insurgencies in Nigeria, North Africa, Uzbekistan and elsewhere, she argues that this problem is not something unique to Afghanistan. Many governments are machines for fleecing their citizens. Citizens become tired of paying off corrupt officials, and try to stop. The officials force the citizens to pay up. The citizens, angered, fight back. Violence erupts: leading to bloodshed, terrorism, human rights abuses, and the rest. If we respond only to the last part of the process, we will be defending the thieves, thus making the problem even worse.

In the interview Chayes describes how as a foreign journalist in Afghanistan she was initially sucked in by the Karzai (subsequently President of Afghanistan) clan before she gradually discovered that is was what can only be described a Mafia – like criminal organisation turning the whole state into a successful criminal enterprise.


The fact most of us western taxpayers are and should rightly be concerned about is that most of the loot is coming right out of our treasuries in the form military assistance and all kinds of foreign aid money. These criminal governments are actually on our payroll. And hardly anything serious is done about it. For instance literally billions of US dollar bills flown by big cargo planes into Iraq disappeared without trace and nobody in the US administration seems to bid an eyelid about it.

However, this should not be surprising as Chaye’s most remarkable observations reveal.

She observes that this corrupt and criminal behavior became more prevalent with the ideological backing of the Reagan/Thatcher brand of neoliberal “greed is good” form of Anglo-American capitalism with a capital “C”.
She points to the active support given to the thieves not only by western banks and law firms to funnel the loot out of the countries into the safety of tax havens and secret bank accounts but our governments, which seem to condone any crime of these regimes as long as they are seen as ‘loyal’ to us and are the enemy of our enemy, the insurgents.
Then she remarked on the corrupt criminal system in Nigeria where she observed that the country’s elites just took over the exploitative colonial system the British had left them together with the oil companies collaborating with the regime to fleece their own impoverished citizenry.

However, Chayes as an American fails to see the wood for all the trees. How can she seriously expect the US to enhance global security by combating corruption in these countries if it has mostly been created and nurtured by the US ? How can the world be expected to do what the US says and not what it does ? Don’t we have to look at ourselves first before giving lectures to others ?
So let’s for a moment focus on the USA, which is going around the world trying to sell us their brand of freedom and democracy.

To start with the above story of the Afghan man been shaken down by policemen. What is the difference to the practice of Civil Forfeiture in the US made fun of by comedian John Oliver ?


The difference is that in the US it is institutionalised legalised daylight robbery with more money involved to feather police department’s nests.
If we look at corruption former Vice-president Dick Cheney and Halliburton spring to mind with damage to the treasury at a much grander scale.
And do the USA have any enviable form of democracy to sell to the rest of the world ?

The foremost American thinker of our time Noam Chomsky


does not think that the US is a democracy but rather a polyarchy where the power resides in the hands of those who manage the wealth of the nation, the responsible class of men, as so designed by the fathers of the constitution (Madison) to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.
In the US the whole constitutional set-up is undemocratic to protect the haves against the have-nots. No wonder that the election results are bought by the party with the most money and nobody cares as it is seen as the American way.
This is of course not new to us in New Zealand where the victorious National Party raised more than four times as much money than Labour prior to the last election.
And what would you call it when raising money for a winning presidential candidate is quite regularly by both sides rewarded with government posts like ambassadorships ? We had a few of those in Wellington recently, which seems to be popular with campaign donors.
And what about the revolving door policy between corporations, government and lobbyists ?

All these are are clear signs of an undemocratic and corrupt political system.

The irony is that the USA and Nigeria have this one thing in common. In both the elites have continued the bad old practices of their British colonial masters.

Hand in hand with this go the human right abuses.


Unfortunately, Noam Chomsky is only too justified to call the US the ‘world’s leading terrorist statemainly because of it’s policy of extra judicial killings of targets and bystanders alike in foreign countries by drones remote controlled from the US.

Let us not point the finger at countries like Afghanistan, Egypt, Nigeria, Ukraine and all the others we care to look at for corruption. It is much more than that.

It is the post colonial Anglo/American system of neoliberal Capitalism with a capital “C”.

by Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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Let’s look at the bright side.

Last week’s UK election might have a bright side after all.

After the return of the Tories there is now a distinct possibility that in 2020 we in the Anglo-American capitalist countries – also known as the (five eyes spy) club – will have hardcore neoliberal governments with David Cameron in the UK, Jeb Bush in the US, Stephen Harper in Canada, Tony Abbott in Australia and John Key in NZ. A scary prospect in anyone’s book especially for those of us who love our children and grandchildren and are concerned about the world we will leave them.

The Elephant in the room for all of us is of course Climate Change.


One of the traits these governments have in common is their attitudes and policies on climate change. From the most destructive and environmentally damaging tar sand mining in Canada, the fracking bonanza in the US, the undiminished expansion of coal mining and shipping through the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the “Drill Baby Drill” in- and off-shore oil exploration in NZ and the pandering to the fossil fuel industry in the UK the neoliberal ideology driven policies by the members of the club make a mockery of all attempts to stop climate change getting out of hand.

Climate scientist can demonstrate by a simple calculation that we need to stop burning fossil fuel willy nilly if we want to have a chance to keep global warming to the universally agreed level of two degrees Celsius. That in fact we must keep most of the known reserves already on the balance sheets of the fossil fuel companies in the ground.

While the Keep-it-in-the-Ground movement led by the UK Guardian and inspired by Naomi Klein is gaining momentum


these governments are putting their foots on the accelerator as if there is no tomorrow. One even could count the hot air created by their comforting words prior to this December’s Climate summit in Paris as one of the most renewable energy sources. Their deeds tell the opposite story.

One other characteristic the neoliberal country club has in common are mainstream media dominated by Rupert Murdoch (UK,US and Australia) and Murdoch like corporations.



They are brainwashing the general public into thinking that climate change i.e. global warming is either not really happening or it is at least not man made or in any case can easily be fixed by some science fiction movie technology a la the shield in Highlander II.

All this has a devastating rational logic to it not only for the green house gas emitting sunset industries but to the neoliberal capitalistic system itself.
This system is based on the idea that individual enrichment at the cost of everyone and everything else including the climate is ok and will ultimately via the invisible hand of the market lead to benefit all. This ideological myth of the ever correcting beneficial effects of the “market” without any state intervention or regulation was of course thoroughly debunked by the global financial crisis of 2008 onwards. Even then Federal Reserve Bank chairman and Ayn Rand disciple and lover Alan Greenspan had to admit that he was wrong : Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder’s equity – myself especially – are in a state of shocked disbelief. 

However the neoliberal juggernaut is moving along regardless as our system is rewarding short term personal gains over long term collective sustainability. And the neoliberal climate change deniers

climate hoax

are right to be afraid of the environmental movement being like a watermelon green on the outside and red on the inside. They at least have understood that to deal appropriately with the ever more looming large climate crisis it will take everything they despise : Collective not individual effort and action, governmental and intergovernmental response, strengthening society’s conscience and collaboration against individual lack of conscience. Remember Margret Thatcher one of the patron saints of neoliberalism declaring that there is no such thing as society !
Ultimately the climate crisis will require the top 1% or rather .01% to relinquish power over the rest of us as they will not be able – like in the science fiction movies – to totally shield themselves  from the effects of global warming. If nothing else will force a total change of our economic and political system the Climate will.

Naomi Klein in her must read book


manages to find something positive in the otherwise gloomy picture :

I began to see all kinds of ways that climate change could become the catalyzing force for positive change – how it could be the best argument progressives have ever had to demand the rebuilding and reviving of local economies; to reclaim our democracies from corrosive corporate influence; to block harmful new free trade deals and rewrite old ones; to invest in starving public infrastructure like mass transit and affordable housing; to take back ownership of essential services like energy and water; to remake our sick agricultural system into something much healthier; to open our borders to migrants whose displacement is linked to climate impacts; to finally respect Indigenous land rights – all of which would help to end grotesque levels of inequality within our nations and between them.

From this list we can imagine how our business and political rulers will fight tooth and nail against the notion that there is a climate crisis and business as usual is not an option anymore.
Klein with 15 years of research leading to her previous book The Shock Doctrine is only to aware what is likely to happen as the crisis will inevitably deepen into a shock for the people :

Over the past four decades corporate interests have systematically exploited these various forms of crisis to ram through policies that enrich a small elite – by lifting regulations, cutting social spending and forcing large scale privatization of the public sphere. They have also been the excuse for extreme crackdowns on civil liberties and chilling human rights violations.
And there are plenty of signs that climate change will be no exception- that rather than sparking solutions that have a real chance of preventing catastrophic warming and protecting us from inevitable disaster, the crisis will once again be seized upon to hand over yet more resources to the 1 percent.

One of the warning signs for instance in the US besides the now almost total surveillance of it’s citizenry is the fact that the army is handing over billions of dollars worth of military hardware like tanks and helicopters to the police forces. Who do you think these weapons will be aimed at ? To give you a clue: not at terrorists.

In other words it looks like it will have to get much worse with the climate and our political and economic system before the 99 % will wake up and turn things around.
Climate change of course does not wait for us. Time is of the essence. In the next 5 years we might reach the tipping point – if we not already have – beyond which a turn around will be almost impossible.
So lets get on with it and get it over with. The political horror scenario above will only accelerate the crisis and bring it to the inevitable solution earlier.
Lets have more severe draughts, floods, wildfires and hurricanes together with sea level rise for all to see the sooner the better.

Therefore the UK election win by the Tories can only be a good thing. Sorry for the road kill along the way.

by Dr. Hans B. Grueber


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Only the Jester is allowed to tell the truth

The UK election campaign is telling us some interesting lessons. The so called mainstream i.e. corporate media are not allowed to tell us what is really going on but mainly dispense neoliberal propaganda. We and the UK electorate are increasingly turning to the jester Russell Brand to hear the truth.


This would be the hallmark of an authoritarian feudal system of government and if we look closely at the present political and economic structure this is exactly what we have got.
In this system the rulers rule. In the UK presently the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequers (Minister of Finance) and the Mayor of the by far largest city of London are all class mates from the most elitist private school of Eaton. And like in the Middle Ages the rest of us know our ‘station’ and bow and put up with it.

But what about democracy ? Aren’t we having an election right now with more choice than ever ? Won’t there be change if the voters don’t return the Tories ?

Sorry folks, there is no tooth fairy at the bottom of the garden and there will be no fundamental change as the result of the election even if the next Prime Minister is different to the present one. The only thing the UK can hope for is some changes around the edges, which might be very important to the people affected and which I don’t want to belittle. However the juggernaut of the reigning neoliberal economic ideology will move on destroying everything in its path.

What about people not voting for radical change because they don’t want radical change ?

Sorry again, there is no realistic radical option to vote for. The present political and economic system, which includes the mainstream media setup does not allow for it.

Let’s just have a look at Britain’s mainstream media for a moment on the eve of their election. Our Fairfax media gives a nice overview with the various headlines and endorsements. The Daily Mail stands out :

Daily Mail

This is just one example worth a little analysis. The message is clear. If you don’t vote for the status quo you are not only insane but also unpatriotic.

This is directed at the main opposition Labour Party. You can imagine how the smaller more ‘radical’ parties fare. Fairfax again draws the comparison to New Zealand.
The vilification of smaller parties (remember how the NZ Greens became the devil-beast), and the undermining of the legitimacy of a Labour-led Government have some of the hall-marks of National’s 2014 campaign. And, whaddya know, the Nats and the Tories share a consultant: Australian Lynton Crosby (of Crosby-Textor, the spin doctors for neoliberal governments around the world).

The for me most striking New Zealand example of almost everybody swallowing the anti-Green propaganda hook line & sinker was the policy of quantitive easing (printing money instead of borrowing) advocated by the Greens prior to last years election. It was widely ridiculed by the government as lunatic even as ‘lunatic’ central banks around the world like the US Federal Reserve, the EU Central Bank, the Bank of England and even the “so revolutionary” Swiss Central Bank were all practicing it at the time.
Instead we were told to trust the economic nous of our great helmsman who’s only credentials are that he enriched himself to the tune of 50 Million dollars gaming the foreign exchange markets playing with other peoples money.

The media setup in the so called liberal Western democracies is so much more insidious than the censorship regimes of authoritarian countries like China or Saudi Arabia. There you know if something is kept from you when access to the internet is restricted or journalists are flogged.
In our system we are allowed dissent – like this little blog – as long as the system does not allow it to become mainstream. We formally have freedom of speech and therefore can sleep easily. The result is the same. The status quo is protected.

The jester is even allowed to publish his book.


And we all can have a good laugh.

However I wonder who will have the last laugh after the intervention of Brand in the UK elections. Today on radio NZ one contributor wondered who will have had a more deciding influence on the UK election Rupert Murdoch’s old mainstream media or Russell Brand’s new internet media outlets.

For us to keep quiet and keep at our ‘station’ and not challenge the status quo we are given wars. The ‘cold war’ against an ideology, the ‘war on drugs’, the ‘war on terror’ and many more where they came from just to keep us scared and distracted.

Which reminds me :


The present system tries everything to stop us from figuring it out. But let us not despair.

its only a matter of time

by Hans B. Grueber

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100 years Gallipoli: ANZAC propaganda still working overtime

I recently read Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” researching the source of the ideology behind the biggest crime of the 20th century may be ever. There I found an interesting assessment by the WWI western front veteran why England had won the war. According to Hitler it was because of her superior propaganda.


While England was hammering the message of the hun raping Belgian nuns and eating babies the best the Germans could come up with was calling the English a nation of little shop-keepers.

But the propaganda did not just work against the enemy it worked as well against our own people.

The first casualty of war always is the truth replaced by censorship and propaganda. The Gallipoli/ANZAC myth is one prime example of this fact. What might have been initially justifiable not to undermine ‘morale’ at home has turned into a full blown industry still working overtime 100 years on.

I have been part of my adopted country for over 30 years and still have not quite understood how New Zealand manages to celebrate one of the biggest military cock ups ever as the most important nation building event in our brief history. Was it because it was described as an “Amateurish, Do-It-Yourself Cock-Up”. (Global Research)

The centenary year has produced new information even for me being very interested in the history around WWI.  And a wind change could be detected. In the past for instance the matter of an apology to Turkey for the invasion of Gallipoli would not have been discussed or even mentioned.

The picture which has emerged is that the ANZAC myth celebrated in New Zealand and Australia has been forged not in Gallipoli but in the editorial offices and political circles back home. The myth has always been just that a myth created by propaganda.

Gordon Campbell in a carefully researched piece describes when the process of transforming a military folly into (a) a glorious failure and (b) an originary myth of nationhood began in earnest ?
“It happened the moment the news of the landing occurred,’ Historian Jock Phillips says. ‘If you read the New Zealand newspapers…from the time when the first cables came through its all phrased in terms of New Zealanders finally show their value to the British Empire. What the newspapers did particularly well was to draw on the positive comments of the British elite – namely the King, the British newspaper reporter Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett and people like John Masefield. These were the spokespeople of the British ruling class. When they made positive comments about New Zealanders, these comments were recycled and recycled and recycled. There was a sense that New Zealand had won its spurs on behalf of the Empire. And it started from the moment that the first news of the landing arrived in New Zealand.”
During the ensuing months, the newspaper reports filtered their way back to the soldiers themselves, and as Phillips says, the disbelief was almost total. “The troops [at Gallipoli] read the media accounts with incredulity. They were both horrified and contemptuous. They couldn’t believe the disjuncture between the heroic way in which this was being presented, and their experiences.”

This explains why most of the survivors who were actually at Gallipoli or later at the Western front never talked about their horrific experience and did not attend ANZAC day marches and celebrations. Interesting to listen to actor Sam Neil’s personal account from a son of a military family on Radio NZ National.

The later inquiry by the Dardanelles Commission into the disaster had to be a whitewash in which the imperials and the colonials collaborated. Gerry Docherty & Jim Macgregor point out:
Before the final report was published, (general Sir Ian) Hamilton warned Churchill that it had the potential to break up the Empire if it ‘does anything to shatter the belief still confidently clung to in the Antipodes, that the expedition was worth while, and that ‘the Boys’ did die to a great end and were so handled as to be able to sell their lives very dearly. …If the people of Australia and New Zealand feel their sacrifices went for nothing, then never expect them again to have any sort of truck with our superior direction in preparations for future wars.’
Anzac troops who perished at Gallipoli are portrayed by mainstream historians as heroes who died fighting to protect democracy and freedom, not as ordinary young men duped by a great lie.
The forefathers were duped into volunteering a century before at a cost they never foresaw. It is clear that many of those young Australians
(and New Zealanders for that matter) who travel en-masse to the shores of Gallipoli every April have also been duped.

The relentless Gallipoli/ANZAC propaganda has been highly successful. To talk about the whole issue even 100 years on is still problematic or even hazardous. It is cold comfort that it is even worse in Australia.  Strategic analyst and former Australian Defence Force officer James Brown writes angrily about a cycle of jingoistic commemoration rather than quiet contemplation, with individuals, groups and organisations cashing in on Anzac Day. ‘A century after the war to end all wars, Anzac is being bottled, stamped and sold. …the Anzac industry has gone into hyperdrive. …What started as a simple ceremony is now an enormous commercial enterprise. …Australians are racing to outdo one another with bigger, better, grander and more intricate forms of remembrance.’ Even the Australian War Memorial has devised an official “Anzac Centenary Merchandising Plan” to capitalise on “the spirit.”’

To be accused of being “anti-Anzac” in Australia today is to be charged with the most grievous offence.’  (Marilyn Lake & Henry Reynolds)
Sports reporter Scott McIntyre found that out to his peril this week being fired from SBS after some provocative tweets criticizing the ANZACs.


The question should be what are the lessons told and learned from WWI, which had no redeeming features whatsoever.
I agree with a visiting Oxford historian who saw this 100 year anniversary as a big 
missed opportunity to actually spend some money on the study and teaching of the reasons why little New Zealand ended up in the quack-mire in the first place.
A good start would be Margaret MacMillan‘s book “The War that ended Peace”, which fittingly ends in August 1914. The lessons to be learned are the ones about “The Road to 1914” and not what happened next. That we already know that war in general is shit and WWI in particular was super-shit as the first industrial scale massacre of millions for no good reason. That knowledge alone has not prevented us from joining almost every jolly war going ever since – morally justified or not.
That means that no valuable lesson has been learned so far. These lessons should be funded, researched, promoted, discussed  broadcast
and screened as all the other centenary projects.

Instead of having learned something from history the “ANZAC spirit” is again being abused when selling us just another military adventure in the Middle East. 

Chris Trotter: Weep, Zealandia, Weep! sums it up nicely :
Is this really where we are, 100 years after Gallipoli? Is this how far we’ve come? From a bigoted British Israelite and union-buster; to a “relaxed” golfing partner of the US president and a “playful” hair-fetishist? From dispatching troops to Gallipoli in the name of the King-Emperor; to dispatching troops to Iraq in the name of the “Five Eyes Club”?

Missed opportunities with expensive result at least for the grieving families of all the New Zealand wars ever since. Others made a killing.

I have a more realistic look following the money trail. The reasons for New Zealand’s involvement in WWI and the Gallipoli campaign and the commemorations/celebrations ever since are the same : There is money to be made lots of it.

This year I attended the ANZAC Day service at the local cenotaph, which was nice especially the following afternoon tea at the friendly neighbours.

What I learned this year only increases the risk of me screaming if I would hear one more time that our “heroes” at Gallipoli made the “ultimate sacrifice” for our “Freedom“.


All for the Fatherland. All for Freedom.

As it was not for freedom we should look what or rather who it was for.
Who benefited? Who came out on top?
And who paid the price? Who came up short?
To find the answer to these questions should be one of the top centenary projects.
Where can I get funding?

Don’t hold your breath !

And breathe through all the propaganda !

by Dr. Hans B. Grueber

Recommended reading :
Chris Trotter : Weep, Zealandia, Weep ! (and other post @ Bowalley Road)
Gordon Campbell : What’s To Commemorate?
Gerry Docherty & Jim Macgregor : World War I and the British Empire: The Gallipoli Campaign, The Untold Story – ‘The first casualty of war is truth’
Docherty & Macgregor : Gallipoli 19: Anzac Day; Perpetuating the Myth


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Prime Minister Key is on his way to Gallipoli, New Zealand’s troops are on their way to just another jolly war in the region and a Facebook play on words picture/comment takes on an altogether different meaning.


The story broke yesterday when a young waitress told the story having her pony tail pulled by the Prime minister again and again over a period of months, which experts in the field classified as bullying and sexual harassment. The Prime Minister himself called it just “horse play” – the standard defense of every bully.  It was fascinating to watch minute by minute the story spreading from the “left leaning” (as if that had anything to do with the story) The Daily Blog where the victim told her story to the mainstream media making headline news around the world like the Washington Post‘s “New Zealand’s ponytail-pulling prime minister becomes national embarrassment“.

The real creepy feeling overcame me when the media dug up other hair-pulling antics by Mr Key among others footage from Campbell Live involving a prepubescent blond girl. Does New Zealand have a Prime Minister who cannot help himself fulfilling his urges of some sort of borderline hair fetishism ? (“Ponytail pulling: ‘A thing’ John Key does“)

We are all now in a ring side seat watching dirty politics at work unfold in front of our eyes and ears

It started immediately with Shaun Plunket. I hear that he urged his listeners yesterday not to read the original Daily Blog story trying to dismiss it as usual as left wing conspiracy. However he went off half cocked as the Prime Minister confirmed the incidents and his apology.

Today the NZ Herald followed with an article by Rachel Glucina,

Rachel Glucina and Government pollster and right wing political blogger, David Farrar 

which the paper published even if warned by the editor of The Daily Blog that it’s information was obtained by deception and false pretenses.
The intention of her article is clear to portray the victim as someone who is politically motivated. Her employers are quoted as saying that the complainant has “strong political points of view”. Strong political points of view is of course dog whistle for “reds under the bed” or left wing conspiracy.

Glucina is already unfavourably mentioned in last years Nicky Hager’s book “Dirty Politics“. She is just following the song sheet of Crosby Textor the government’s Australian masters of the dark art of political manipulation and spin.

I feel deeply sorry for the poor victim as we all will be watching her being attacked, maligned, discredited, ridiculed by the National government / media attack machine. I wonder how long she will last in her job even if she obviously tried hard to keep herself and her employer out of the story, which the NZ Herald deliberately ignored. Any Press Council findings against the paper and Glucina will be cold comfort to her.

The wider picture is that of this Government’s arrogance, bullying and treating New Zealanders with contempt.  “Ponytail gate” might even serve a purpose of distracting us from the policies, which really matter like all the things, which we are not allowed to discuss or even know about as for example TPPA negotiation and GCSB spying.


However what I feel really ashamed off is that the National Party is still polling at 49% support and Chris Trotter might in the end be right commenting :
Every honest New Zealander knows that if it had been David Cunliffe who’d repeatedly pulled a waitress’s pony-tail, and been found out, then the story could only have ended one way – with his resignation.
What does it say about John Key and his relationship with both the news media and the wider New Zealand electorate that, public admission and apology delivered, he will almost certainly walk away from this scot free?

As long as we support the Creep we cannot look forward to the next by-election in Helensville.

by Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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Do you smell what I smell ?


The NZ Herald heavily promoted news story repeated in the Northern Advocate reads rather like a copy&paste job from a press release :

Former National MP Mike Sabin has been appointed chief executive of Peppers Carrington Estate, a five-star, 1000-hectare resort on the Karikari Peninsula. 
He will be in charge of plans to redevelop the property into the largest five-star resort in the country. 
Chinese real estate giant Shanghai CRED purchased the business from US businessman Paul Kelly for $28.7 million in 2013, and planned to market it to wealthy Chinese tourists. 
Mr Sabin resigned as Northland’s MP in early February. 
Mr Sabin’s resignation forced a by-election, which National lost to New Zealand First’s Winston Peters. 
Before he entered Parliament in 2011, Mr Sabin was a policeman and founded an anti-methamphetamine company called MethCon.

When I read the story at first I thought that my iMac was one of the next generation of computers that had escaped the lab where they are working on devices, which give you not only pictures and sound but the appropriate smells to go with it. The story stinks.

No word from Mr Sabin himself who has disappeared ever since he resigned from Parliament at the beginning of the year triggering the Northland by-election political earthquake.

The copy&paste artist Isaac Davison fails to ask the most fundamental journalistic questions like :
Is this for real ? How can a former policeman come operator of an anti-methaphetamine campaign business come MP without any relevant qualifications be appointed CEO of what wants to become the most luxurious resort in New Zealand for Chinese billionaires?
It seems to be obvious that Mr Sabin would be paid a CEO’s salary not for his business skills or qualifications but for his political connections. What do the Chinese owners expect in return from the National government ?
And finally and most importantly how can any sane business person especially in the top end hospitality industry employ someone as CEO who is before the courts under suspicion of serious crimes with the risk of being jailed in a few months time ? What is really behind this “appointment” ?

Look at what the rumor mill is churning out for months.


Let us recapitulate. Mr Sabin was under police investigation for serious crimes well before the last election and the government knew about it. Even the candidate selection three years earlier was controversial as Mr Sabin was regarded as a bully.

Blogger lauda finem has questioned the latest Sabin story and “did a little phoning around today, we spoke with a number of recruiters in the industry who asked not to be named and then just roared with laughter when we listed Sabin’s unique skill-set. The up-shot was that not one of the agencies were prepared to put Sabin forward to a client, even for a first interview…..
After all Sabin landing that job is right up there with the immaculate conception and walking on water!”

Across the ditch Derryn Hinch notes :
If you think politics in Australia gets crazy around election time just have a look at what is happening across the ditch right now.
Why does he care ?
Well it is, because it involves suppression orders, political intrigue, serious criminal allegations against a former member of parliament and unanswered questions surrounding the actions of Prime Minister John Key.  And he calls it a :

touch of Watergate“.

Here Matthew Hooton in the NBR headlined “Sabin clock keeps ticking for Key” makes it quite clear what he thinks :
Mr Key’s government stands accused of somehow covering up after Mr Sabin, with Labour leader Andrew Little going so far as to say he believes Mr Key is lying. That is not entirely implausible.
Then he gives irrefutable reasons why Mr Key must be lying when he pretends not to have known anything when he considered Sabin for a cabinet post before settling for the chair of the parliamentary Law and Order select committee.
Hooton gives a dire prediction for the Key government :
The risk for Mr Key is that if the full Sabin story becomes known in a week, a month, six months or a year, it will look as if his government covered it up not just through a general election campaign but then again through the by-election as well. The clock keeps ticking. 

The real story is not the serious criminal allegations against Mr Sabin but the role of Mr Key and his government in this affair. What can we expect the Prime Minister to do to try to save his own skin ?

Here I am reminded of the WWJD (What would Jesus Do?) Bracelet some young Christians wear and according to reliable sources have become very popular among young Nats and other fundamentalist John Key supporters. For them it of course reads : What would John do ? And they don’t mean John Campbell.

To answer the above question about what we can expect Key to do let us give it the WWJD treatment. What would John (need to) do to make the whole story disappear.

Step one is to make Sabin look innocent. Look, he has been given a high profile job so there can’t be anything to the rumors. We can tick this one off.
Step two make the criminal prosecution go away. Let the National government appointed police commissioner – who is on record to condone police corruption – know if that is still necessary that this prosecution is not in the government’s interest. The Police has quite a record recently of acting like the Prime Minister’s private enforcer. Just a couple of examples. We had the Epsom cup of tea saga with the police getting heavy handed against a cameraman and various mainstream media. We had the very questionable day long police raid of Nicky Hager’s home in his capacity as a “witness” almost as retaliation to his “Dirty Politics” revelations. At the same time the PM’s mate gutter blogger Slater who boasted about accessing the Labour Party computer got no police attention. We have to wait and see what the police might do to scuttle the prosecution and make this case go away.
If step two fails the next option would be to have the complaint withdrawn by leaning on or bribing the victim(s). The later is quite a common practice specially with complaints of a sexual nature.

If any of the outstanding steps above would happen some of you would still think of it as a conspiracy theory.


So lets hope that it doesn’t happen and Mr Sabin gets the justice he deserves and the people of New Zealand finally get to know what the Key government is hiding from them.

Till then we all have to hold our noses.

by Dr. Hans B. Grueber



Posted in Media Grabs, politics | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Positive news : Campbell Live is going – RadioNZ next

I am often asked to write something “positive”. I admit to have problems with that. Even if I try I cannot find much positive in New Zealand or the world for that matter to write about other than may be George Clooney marrying an intelligent woman and the Duchess of Cambridge having another baby, which is of course always cause for joy.


So I thought to find something positive I have to put on the rose tinted John Key glasses to see the world through his eyes to find something positive to write about. After the Northland by-election there is none more positive I can see than the pending demise of John Campbell and with him the remaining investigative current affairs journalism on New Zealand television.


Who needs critical journalism in this Anglo-American style free market capitalism where the advertisers decide what we people are going to see and learn or rather not. Nobody needs to hold our rulers to account when the “market” already does that and everything else for us.

This good news has of course been a very long time coming.

One of the starting points was in the 1960-ies the Chicago School of Economics Milton Friedman led ideological revolution, which inspired not only Ronald Reagan and Margret Thatcher but also General Pinochet in Chile, Boris Yeltsin and the thieving Russian oligarchs and even Nelson Mandela.

To fully understand what happened over the last 40 years you only have to read Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine. On the other hand this most important book is written by an investigative journalist and we don’t need those anymore. We leave that to the market.

The Chicago boys arrived in New Zealand in the form of Roger Douglas giving his name to  our version of disaster capitalism “Rogernomics“. Why let a good disaster like a hurricane, war, criminal overthrow of a legitimate government or earthquake go to waste if you can use it to push an ideological agenda through the people would otherwise resist. Sometimes you have to make up the disaster like in 1984 the incoming Labour government in New Zealand calling it a constitutional crisis having to wait a couple of days till the warrants were issued before implementing the first drastic changes or painting the capital requirement of the then government owned Bank of New Zealand into a major financial crisis.

From then on it was almost plain sailing.

We crashed the opposition ‘intellectually’ by telling lies over and over again like “there is no alternative” or “trickle down effect

trickle down effect

till they became accepted wisdom.


We crashed any opposition by destroying the unions, burden students with debilitating student loans debt and punishing the poor. In the process we created massive inequality, which suits us just fine as we in power are part of the one not the 99 percent. So far so good.

However the hold on wealth and power is always under threat from the people if and when they wake up and realize what is going on. Therefore we must curb education as far as critical enquiry and thinking goes and of course critical journalism.

The former will be achieved on the one hand by privatizing education and let the market find the smallest common denominator. And on the other by strangling real education, which should equip students with creative, inquisitorial critical minds with test, tests and more tests forcing even the best teachers to minimize their teaching to the tests if they want to keep their jobs. In other words our aim must be the dumbing down of education as long as its products can still read manuals and instructions and are able to operate a cash register. And believe me anything else the government tells you about it’s education policy is just spin, wool over your eyes.

The latter (critical journalism) is also a long term project. The first step is to abandon the role of the public in television and radio and privatize the media either by selling them off outright or by opening them up to private competition. The first step was to abandon the broadcasting fee to bring public broadcasting under direct government spending control and political pressure. And it was of course one of the National Party’s first acts after coming back into power in 2008 to get rid of the ‘Charter’ for TVNZ, which gave it up to that point some mandate and responsibility for public broadcasting. This is also all about the dumbing down of content.

When our mates and private media owners were not fast enough to follow the downwards pressure and limit programming for that part of the public that wants more than reality show entertainment at the lowest level we help them along. One way is always to make them financially dependent in the case of TV3 by giving it a helping hand to the tune of 43.3 million dollars, which in itself  creates leverage. If that was not enough we made sure that our people were put in charge of TV3.


The good news again was that nobody noticed – at least up till now when it is claimed by the non-mainstream media that the Prime Minister told his mate and TV3 CEO Mark Weldon in regards to John Campbell “I want that left wing bastard gone”: The prime minister had insidiously conspired with Mark Weldon to end John Campbell’s broadcasting career and have Campbell live taken off the air.
Unfortunately even Fran O’Sullivan the very much pro business writer for the NZ Herald who should be in our camp smelled the rat and this cannot be dismissed – as we usually do – as conspiracy theory.

However ‘at the and of the day’ Campbell Live will be gone or if it survives somewhere hidden out of view and severely neutered.

This is important for our neoliberal Chicago School project.

Our present economic model is based on enough people being held down badly educated, uninformed, under financial stress and distracted by cheap entertainment so they unquestioning swallow corporate and government spin and vote against their own interests. How else can we stay in power as our policies benefit only the very few on the top and not the majority 99%.

We claim that Campbell Live played no role in holding the Government to account (John Key on Newstalk ZB). We don’t appear on his program if we possibly can avoid it – so how could they hold us to account. We dismiss the program as just entertainment. Still it has to go. Too many hungry children, victims of the Christchurch earthquake and disgruntled workers on the show.

Of course the people are making fun of us.


But ‘at the end of the day’ we despite Nicky Hager’s revelations in “Dirty Politics” pulled the wool over your eyes at last year’s election and we do as we like and what our pollster tells us we can get away with.

The critics like Phil Wallington and Gavin Ellis on Radio New Zealand National on 14 April 15 think in contrast to the TV3 top brass that there is more to news and current affairs programs than delivering viewers to advertisers. These programs are allegedly part of a far greater public responsibility to the people of New Zealand. They think that Campbell Live is the last meaningful nightly current affairs program that is able to hold the powerful to account in a timely fashion and it’s demise would leave New Zealand intellectually and democratically impoverished (Ellis).

To them we can only say your voices will soon be silenced as well as taxpayer funded public radio has been in our sights for a while to let the “market” do it’s magical thing. We might not even wait for the next crisis real or manufactured to come along.

Anybody for more “positive” news and comment ?

by Dr.Hans B. Grueber

Posted in Economics, Media Grabs, politics, Society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weapons of Mass-Surveillance


Once upon a time a little country in the South Pacific outpost of a great empire woke up and started to have a discussion about it’s place in the world. This was a serious discussion and became part of the national folklore when we all watched our leader at the Oxford Student Union debate with pride. The discussion was about the question if we wanted to be part of an imperial system sustained by (nuclear) weapons of mass-destruction. Later these categories of weapons as a pretext to the Iraq war became an odious term justifying  the invasion of a sovereign country and the killing of hundreds of thousands of people combatants and civilians women and children alike.

That discussion and decision for independence supported by a vast majority of the citizens together with the decision not to join the before mentioned war of aggression was probably the proudest moment in New Zealand’s history.

That was then. This is now.

30 years later we are engaged as an active partner in the deployment of weapons of mass surveillance. That is what the documents, which have become declassified public knowledge thanks to Edward Snowden are showing us.

Only the most gullible people worshipping any authority and believing every single word our masters in government say believe that this has anything to do with “keeping us safe from terrorists”.


Make no mistakes New Zealand is part of an Anglo/US cyber war waged against the rest of the world. This goes beyond the mass collection of all data the five eyes secret services can lay their hands on.
The now public documents show that our GCSB actively attacked communication systems of government officials of another Pacific nation.
The documents also show that the GCSB abused its powers to support the bid of one senior National Party cabinet minister to become head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) by spying on all other candidates.
And wait there will be more. Nicky Hager recently told the radio station bFM that “in some respects we’re only just at the beginning of what people are going to find out”. Click for more.

However the cyber war goes much further like breaking into the computer system of one of the world’s leading manufactures of mobile phone sim-cards to steal the encryption  key, which protects the privacy of millions of mobile phone user around the world.

And we all remember the attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities via the Stuxnet computer virus, which Vanity Fair describes in a lengthy article aptly titled “A Declaration of Cyber-War“. It destroyed the manufacturing facility for aluminum tubes used for the enrichment of Uranium and was carried out by the NSA our senior five eyes “club” member.

The “club” really is an Empire as Chris Trotter correctly points out :
When we consider the extent to which these powers dominate the world’s key resources – especially oil, coal and iron-ore; when we add up the number of nations that, in one way or another, are beholden to them; when we recall that the US Dollar remains the world’s fiat currency; and when the five Anglo-Saxon nations’ ability to project decisive military resources to any point on the Earth’s surface is taken into account; are we not justified in discarding the word “club” and replacing it with the much more appropriate “empire”?
And yet, the behaviour of the five Anglo-Saxon powers, in the 70 years since the end of World War II, is difficult to characterise as anything other than imperialistic. If the “club” looks like an empire, speaks like an empire, and acts like an empire, then, chances are, it’s an empire.

All this is going on in secret, in our name, at our expense but without us having the right to even know about it.


And here lies the difference. Then we debated the issues and policies and made a decision as citizens.

Now we are treated as children who are not even allowed to know what’s going on.

Every time Mr Key, the minister responsible for our secret services denies us the right to know  what – even in general terms on the policy level – is going on he takes another piece of our democratic rights away and a another step towards a more authoritarian system.

Chris Trotter is absolutely correct with his blog title “Empire Games: How Nicky Hager’s Revelations Are Re-Shaping The Nationhood Debate.”
The debate about New Zealand’s involvement in the Five Eyes alliance is, accordingly, being broadened out to embrace the much more vital questions of who we are and whom we should serve. Will New Zealand continue striving to become an independent South Pacific nation, or will it opt to remain a far-flung, but intensely loyal, province of the Anglo-Saxon Empire?

Unfortunately we the children of New Zealand are not allowed to have this debate.
Our democratically elected yet authoritarian leader does not engage, does not answers questions – be it for example about “trade” agreements negotiated in our name or the legal status of our soldiers to be send to Iraq – and hides behind the secrecy of the “secret” services. This proven habitual professional liar has the audacity to ask of us: “Trust me I know what I am doing”.

Instead we are distracted and fobbed off with a referendum about our flag.

I have a suggestion how this could be made much cheaper and actually meaningful by giving the Children of New Zealand just the two obvious choices. This familiar one


or this with a realistic ring to it


Only if we the Children of New Zealand choose the second option we should stay in the club as part of the US Empire. Otherwise we should leave the five eyes network and resist the use of weapons of mass surveillance as we did/do so proudly with weapons of mass destruction.

by Dr. Hans B. Grueber

Posted in Media Grabs, politics, Society | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NZ Government aping Sarah Palin: Drill baby, drill !!


As the NZ Herald reports the government is offering about 430 thousand square kilometers mostly offshore for tender to the petroleum summit held in Auckland this week. See more details of the offer here.

The Conference attracted protests.  Petroleum Exploration and Production Association chief executive Cameron Madgwick responded by saying that he respected the right of opponents of the industry to protest and it still had to work to engage with the communities it operated in, but he wanted to encourage a “mature conversation” about New Zealand’s energy future.

So lets have a bit of a mature conversation and not just corporate spin and political bullshit as in Simon Bridges saying “I think the protestors have a real point. We should be excited about the renewable possibilities or as I call it the renewable advantage that we have – it is immense” while at the same time promoting and subsedising the fossil fuel industry.

Naomi Klein‘s latest book This Changes Everything – Capitalism vs The Climate

Klein, This...__n

spawned a new campaign or even movement lead by the Guardian in the UK called : Keep it in the Ground.

Climate scientists tell us the simple and crucial fact that there is far more carbon in existing fossil fuel reserves than we can safely burn. The numbers even taken with a grain of salt tell us the following. Limiting global warming to the agreed global target of 2C means staying within a ‘carbon budget’ of 565 GT (gigatonnes or billion tonnes). That is a fifth of the 2,795 GT that would be released if all the world’s proven oil, coal and gas reserves were burned. Therefore four-fifths of the fossil fuel must stay in the ground. For more details see Duncan Clark in his article in the Guardian “How much of the world’s fossil fuel can we burn?”

In other words the fossil fuel companies have already according to these figures five times as many reserves on their balance sheets than they should be allowed to burn. Even if the figure might be only three times or double of the amount, which can safely be extracted, the last thing the fossil fuel industry needs is more reserves. If the companies would be honest with their shareholders and the stock exchange they would have to advise of the necessary write-downs of the reserves in their balance sheets.

Of course the fossil fuel industry are putting their heads in the sand and effectively sabotaging all efforts to curb CO2 emissions. They stand accused by former top UK climate diplomat of cynically blocking action on climate change by  being ‘narcissistic, paranoid and psychopathic’ and being unable to contemplate low-carbon future. (Read more here)

There is a parallel campaign going to divest from fossil fuel companies. One example is the call of Anglican bishops urging fossil fuel divestment.

fossil fuel divestment

This is not only an ethical stance but makes perfect business sense as the value of their investment will go down as soon as the adjustments to the balance sheets will be made. The Rockefellers who know a bit about the oil industry having made their fortune in it are now divesting from fossil fuels. They call it their moral duty to divest from fossil fuels.

If the New Zealand government would pull their heads out of the sand they would see that they are not only backing a sunset industry but an immoral business model.
But true to its immoral form they instead ignore the science

climate hoax

and are aping that most infamous far right tea party darling and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s contribution to the fossil fuel /climate change debate :

Drill baby, drill !!! 

by Dr. Hans B. Grueber

Posted in Economics, Environment, Media Grabs, politics | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s just not Cricket: New Zealand caught underarm bowling

The Edward Snowden files show the Government playing dirty in international politics. The Prime Minister tries – and it is painful to watch – to dismiss the revelations by calling the messengers “just an anti-American bunch of plonkers”. However this is a serious blow to New Zealand’s image as Fran O’Sullivan writes in the NZ Herald. The last thing she could be accused off is being an anti-American plonker.

“Neither John Key nor Groser has denied that the Government’s intelligence gathering on the Trade Minister’s behalf had been escalated to include electronic intelligence gathering.”
In a world where these activities are usually cloaked with plausible deniability, the Edward Snowden revelations haven’t gone down well elsewhere.”
“The notion that New Zealand – a member of the “Anglo-Saxon” camp – had employed the US secret service (this is how it is being written up in San Paulo) to try and foil the Latin American emerging countries bloc from achieving its rightful elevation in geo-trade relationships will take a while to settle.”

This is where John Key’s design idea for a new New Zealand flag comes in :



This design – even if correctly showing New Zealand’s position in the world – will not go down well south of the Rio Grande.

New Zealand just last year gained a two year seat on the all powerful UN Security Council. It promoted itself successfully as an honest broker and independent voice for other small countries. This is now shown to be a lie. If this part of the files would have been released earlier it would have blown New Zealand’s cover. It is safe to say that New Zealand as the South Pacific cog in the US imperial global spying machine would never have been elected to the council.

The international community despite all the diplomatic niceties is not as easily fobbed off as large parts of the New Zealand public being told that we have no right to know and therefore the spies and their masters never comment.

New Zealand’s international reputation as ‘an honest broker and independent voice for other small countries prepared to stand up to a powerful empire’ is largely built on two achievements (both by recent Labour Prime Ministers) the anti-nuclear policy of the 1980-ies and the refusal to join the Bush II war of aggression against Iraq in 2003. Our good name is now sorely destroyed by the spying machinations of this government and deservedly so.

The latest spying revelations have shown that we spy wholesale on our small vulnerable Pacific neighbours, are part of spying operations against all Latin American countries and used our worldwide five eyes spying capabilities to further a job application of our trade minister, all activities directed against neighbours, friends and trading partners not any enemies.

Since when is wholesale spying against neighbours, friends and partners ethically acceptable ? Where is the moral outrage ?

Instead the mainstream media have been sidetracked by the question if it was ‘legal’, which always leaves plenty of room for debate.

Remember the cricket ? Did anybody then say : No worries it is legal ?


Will we in future internationally be seen as liars, cheaters and absolute scum? 

by Dr. Hans B. Grueber

Posted in Media Grabs, politics, Society | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment