Creep

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.

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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,

gluc
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.

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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

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

Do you smell what I smell ?

666x300peppers-carrington

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.

Key-Sabin

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.

conspiracy

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.

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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.

campbell-cartoon

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.

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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.

Mark.Weldon

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.

Tui_campbell

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

cropped-unionjack-merges-with-old-glory

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”.

Packaging

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.

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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

nz-flag

or this with a realistic ring to it

US:nz-flag

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 !!

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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 :

US:nz-flag

 

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 ?

cricket

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

How long will John Key succeed with his contempt for voters ?

It does not stop to amaze me how John Key and the National Party treat voters in Northland and the general public in New Zealand with contempt. They must assume that we are not only stupid but the enemy and they might be right on both accounts.

Here are just a few examples of what is happening and how we are taken for idiots.

After dismissing Winston Peters, the only serious opposition contender in the Northland by-election, as having zero chance the first opinion polls came as a shock to Mr Key. Out comes the pork barrel starting with a “policy” – without proper costing and advice from officials – to upgrade 10 one-lane-bridges, 7 of which were not even on the council’s to-do-list.

Key-bridges

Yeah Right

Another fine example of what people think of the “policy” is the photo of one bridge displaying the National Party’s full front bench.

shadow-bridge

The blatant attempt to bribe Northland voters with their taxpayer’s money is so brazen that it beggars belief.

Another example of the contempt shown by Mr Key is the fact that Northland voters are not allowed to know why their previous MP Mike Sabin had to resign only 4 months after the general election and that the National Party and Mr Key knew all about it well before he was even nominated.
This of course has the effect to feed the rumor mill around Northland and all over the internet.

Key-Sabin

I said before that New Zealanders will be shocked, disgusted and angry when the truth finally comes out. Mr Key/National don’t care as long as it is after the election.

It is Dirty Politics before an election all over again. Last time Mr Key on advice of his spin doctors and pollsters dismissed the whole story as a left-wing conspiracy without ever faulting any of the facts disclosed. How will they spin it this time when the crime is revealed ?

This brings me to more general examples of the Prime Minister treating all New Zealanders with contempt and basically as the ‘enemy’ of the government.

I come from a country, which twice in recent history suffered two totalitarian regimes held up by surveillance (Gestapo and Stasi) of their own people. I cannot comprehend how disinterested and dismissive many people are about allowing our secret service to built the tools of a totalitarian state those criminal regimes could only have dreamed of.

It blew my mind when I listened and re-listened to Mr Key on Radio NZ morning report boldly stating that New Zealanders have no right to know whether their e-mails, text massages, phone calls, their personal data…. is being gathered up by a state intelligence agency.
This incredible statement shows total contempt for the people and is the result of New Zealand being one of only three countries in the world without the protection of a written constitution.
The excuse always is that security and spying by their nature have to be secret. Under this mantel of secrecy the agency can do what they like without any effective legal or democratic oversight or control. Of course our enemies must not know that they are spied on. However I never knew that New Zealand had any enemies. It seems that we have to make some by sending troops to fight foreign wars and being “part of the spying club.”  But if we the citizens are not allowed to know what happens to us and our data that means we are treated as the enemy.

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Of course we are not only denied to know but actively lied to by the heads of the spy agencies and the Prime Minister responsible who are all professional liars.

‘Read my fingers – there is no mass surveillance’
finger

The NZ Herald  published an analysis about the Snowden revelations ending with the questions :
Can we tell the public what the British public now know to be true about their own security agencies?
And if not, why?

The standard broken record answer by the spy agencies and the Prime Minister (we don’t comment on security matters) becomes more and more laughable. It only shows their total contempt for our democracy.

Another valid question by former media darling now persona-non-grata, Kim Dotcom :
What’s worse?
The lies
The cover-up
The deception
The manipulation
The broken promises
The realization of it all

The last example of how New Zealanders are treated as children by this know-best-nanny-state government is the secrecy surrounding the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

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A parallel agreement is negotiated between the US and EU at present. The EU under pressure to treat their member states and citizens as adults have pledged to make the drafts public and reject the most dangerous investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause. But not this Key government.

TPPA-NZDemocracy

John Key has so far got away with treating New Zealand with contempt. His constituency is “the overwhelmingly male, determinedly anti-intellectual, painfully inarticulate, …. moronic and sports-mad portion of the New Zealand population” (Chris Trotter) who don’t know and who don’t want to know.

The questions remain :

Will the ‘John’s mob’ ever wake up ?

How long will John (Teflon) Key succeed with his contempt for voters ?

Will Northland signal the end of his ‘spell’ ?

by Dr. Hans B. Grueber

 

 

 

 

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Israel elections – a sad and shameful day

Israel has been at war against the Palestinians and other Arab neighbours ever since WWII even before the conception of it’s state. Periods of fully blown hostilities and atrocities followed low grade tensions and attacks and so on. The last full outbreak was the 2014 Gaza war. Israel is a nuclear power – the only one not part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – illegally occupying Palestinian and other land. It holds almost a million Palestinians in what observers describe as a huge internment camp (Gaza) and commits daily human rights abuses against the rest living in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinians fight back with rocks, slingshots, home made rockets and soon by taking Israel to the International Court of Justice in the Hague. For this Israel is already illegally withholding US 120 million owed to the Palestinian authority.

After decades of these – obviously failed – policies and even after building a Berlin style wall Israel is still not safe.

Over the last few weeks it looked as if Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was heading for a defeat at the general election. We were told that not “security” but the economy like rising prices and lack of housing had become the deciding  issues.

The World Post/Huffington Post reports :
The (opposition) Zionist Union’s focus on socio-economic issues, including the lack of housing and the high cost of living in Israel, appeared to be generating much more momentum.
while
During much of the campaign, Netanyahu had focused on security issues and the threat from Iran’s nuclear program, a message that appeared to gain little traction with voters.
then
In a pre-election blitz, Netanyahu made a series of promises designed to shore up his Likud base and draw voters from other right-wing and nationalist parties. He pledged to go on building settlements on occupied land and said there would be no Palestinian state if he was re-elected.

We now know the result. Netanyahu’s tactics won the day.

This means the effective end of any hope for peace between Palestine and Israel. Instead Israelis voted for a continuation of the 70 year old war.

 

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Where was it that people forgot about their welfare and given a (mock) choice chose war? Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels comes to mind asking the hyped up crowd in the infamous Berliner Sportspalast speech in 1943: “Wollt Ihr Butter oder Kanonen?” (Do you want butter or cannons?)
We know the response of that crowd. They wanted cannons and “total war”.  We know the end of the total war. Millions more victims of that criminal regime.

Goebbels

It is always tragic to see the victims of unspeakable crimes later become the perpetrators. When will this often observed cycle of crime (think child abuse), which seems to be true not only for individuals but whole people and countries, be broken ?

One can of course not compare the Berliner Sportpalast of 1943 with Israel elections of 2015. There is not really a clean cut choice between material welfare and continuing war (“security”). The cannons in this case are supplied by the US free of charge anyway. We also know the long established tactic to scare people to win votes. And after all this is the result of a democratic election after a not unusual campaign.
I am sorry that I still cannot get the haunting image of the Berliner Sportpalast crowd out of my head.

If it is correct that Israel returned Benjamin Netanyahu to power because he pledged to continue to deny millions of Palestinians their basic human rights then this marks a sad day for peace in the Middle East and a shameful day for Israel.

by Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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100 years after Gallipoli New Zealand’s ‘freedom and democracy’ will be decided in Northland

100 ago New Zealanders fought at Gallipoli for ‘freedom and democracy’ so we are told. Now our freedom and democracy hang in the balance depending on the result of the Northland by-election.

Stuff reports that
John Key is warning voters there is no “free lunch” in the Northland by-election, as National claims major roads and free-trade deals will be in doubt if Winston Peters wins.

For 50 years your vote in Northland never counted for anything as the default position was firmly set on “National”. If you voted for them or not the result was already determined. Now for the first time Northland voters will not only decide who will represent them in Parliament but if our Prime Minister will be able to sell our freedom and democracy to international corporations.   This is exactly what would happen through the so called “free-trade deals”, which according to Mr Key will be in doubt if Winston Peters wins.

Let us remind ourselves what is happening with these so called “free-trade” agreements.

First of all the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is drafted by Hollywood, big agribusiness, big pharma, big tobacco and other international corporations. It is presently negotiated in secrecy with only governments and corporations around the table. The rest of us what is called civil society be it unions, environmental – consumer – internet user – human rights – medical and other professional organisations are kept in the dark.

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Second the agreement has very little to do with trade, which only serves as a smokescreen. The core is about intellectual property and investment. Any trade access improvement for instance for our baby formula are either non- existent or negligible.

An example of what big business is gaining with a stroke of a pen is the extension of intellectual property rights, which will add billions of dollars to their balance sheets at the cost of New Zealand consumers and patients.

The biggest threat to New Zealand however is that the Prime Ministers intends to sell our sovereignty to the international corporations via the so called Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), which is part of the TPPA. This means that corporations can sue states in Kangaroo court like tribunals manned not by judges but corporate lawyers. If New Zealand enacts laws or regulations, which might affect the corporation’s bottom line like laws against child labour, setting of minimum wages, environmental, health or consumer protection legislation we will be sued for billions of dollars. This means we loose our democracy and sovereignty and are no longer free to run our country in our interest but have  to obey foreign corporations.

To understand more and get proof that these so called “trade” deals are bad for you I refer to my previous blog post Big money in politics – final proof that TPP is bad for you posted on November 11, 2014. I also refer you to Noam Chomsky who called these trade deals A ‘Neoliberal Assault’ To Further Corporate ‘Domination’ .

As so much is at stake Mr Key and the National Party are resorting to their usual tricks.

The all of a sudden they promise to spend 70 million dollars of your money on Northland roads however “in doubt if Winston Peters wins“.

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This is not only an outrageous bribe but amounts to political blackmail. The country holds its breath to find out how Northland voters will react to that.

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We can only hope that it will be a bridge to far.

All this has come about because the newly re-elected local MP had to resign for “personal reason”. These reasons, which were well known to the National Party hierarchy, will shock you when they finally cannot be any longer hidden from us. So far they have managed to keep the Northland voters in the dark till after the by-election. That this man under police investigation for quite some time got selected and re-selected and made chair of the parliamentary Law And Order Committee by the National Party will shock even National Party members who so far dismissed all the evidence of Dirty Politics.

In 1915 traitors selling our freedom and democracy would have been shot. 100 years later the only hope is that they are no longer elected to Parliament. Otherwise our Gallipoli heroes will have died in vain.

by Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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Do we want to live in a free society or in a Stasi style surveillance state ?

Call me naive but I am disappointed that the latest spying revelations hardly raised an eyebrow in so many people.

Goebels

All our communication be it via the internet, mobile phones, use of credit or other plastic cards and any other digital devices is collected by the five eyes security network stored in the US to later potentially be used against anyone of us who rightly or wrongly comes to the attention of the authorities.
This is espionage against all citizens on an industrial scale Hitler, Stalin, the Stasi and any other dictatorships of the past would only have dreamed of. It should cause outrage in a western civilised democracy.
Instead the mainstream media, most of the politicians and the commentariat are mainly engaged in distractions. Like the question of the “legality” of the spy agency’s actions when they hoover up all communication in the Pacific including that of all New Zealanders. Or the question if it circumvents our law when all the collected data are passed on to the US where our agency can access them in case they are interested. Or the fact that we willingly give up privacy by using social media on the internet, join loyalty schemes at the local supermarket or give heaps of private information to our credit card companies.

The central philosophical  questions, which motivated the whistle blower to take action and reveal all this information are not addressed:

Do we want to live in a society where the government knows everything about us our actions, transactions, thoughts, interests, history, secrets, loves, hates, sexual preferences the lot if we ever dared to communicate them ? Do we want to give our government the complete tool kit of a an authoritarian dictatorial surveillance regime ? In other words do we want to live in a society where our government has total control over us ?

Or do we value free speech and information and expect and respect privacy even if we might belong to the saintly 0.1 % who have ‘nothing to hide’ ? After all Privacy is a fundamental human right recognized in the UN Declaration of Human Rights ? We wouldn’t want to give that up lightly.

The fact of mass surveillance – so far admitted in the case of the South Pacific but denied for New Zealand – boils down to one question: Do we want to live in a free society or not ?

And the reaction we see in the mainstream media is greatly inadequate or even collusive and consequently in the general public there is only a great yawn. The “nothing to hide” and “who is interested in me” crowd.

And the irony is that the spooks methods and increased powers don’t actually work. The often given example for the need of extra powers is the Boston Marathon attack,which is a classical example that mass surveillance does not work. Big brother is just building and increasing his empire and needs to package it’s desire for us to acquiesce.

Packaging

I saw “Citizenfour” this week, the award winning documentary about the NSA spying on everyone as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

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Before I entered the theatre I noticed a few things. First I did not see any advertising of the fact that the documentary just won the BAFTA and Oscar awards. Normally the fact of just a nomination is heavily promoted. When I talked to the person at the box office enquiring how the film was doing and if the attendance had picked up after the Oscars the person didn’t even know that it won. Then I remembered that on Oscar night the documentary winner was not mentioned on New Zealand television news either even if there was extensive coverage of the event concentrating instead on the best/worst dressed. The same in the papers the next day. I actually had to google the result for best documentary. The cynic in me joined the dots and it looked as if “Citizenfour” was hidden from the New Zealand public as much as possible. Call me a conspiracy theorist.

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I am not a film critic and leave that to the people who awarded the film this year’s BAFTA and Oscar for best documentary. What I however was most impressed with was the outstanding ethical and moral quality this extraordinary young man has displayed through everything he has done.
His motive was to inform us about the secret, illegal and unconstitutional – not in New Zealand of course as we are one of only three countries without a written constitution – practices of mass surveillance of all citizens. He did not take his treasure trove of information to “the enemy” or sell it on the open market. He did not dump it on the internet or keep it. He left it with top journalists who later won the Pulitzer Price for their reporting to publish the material responsibly without putting secret service agents in danger.

He did not seek publicity and fame for himself as this would detract from the issue. However he did not hide in the shadows as he feels good about the fact that he has done the right thing. He knowingly took the personal risk of life imprisonment or even death at the hands of the “biggest terrorist state” on the planet (Noam Chomsky) for his believe in the fundamental human values of the right to privacy, freedom of information and free speech.

Contrast this highest moral standard with that of our Prime Minister John Key.

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Toby Manhire in the NZ Herald summed him up brilliantly :

“I don’t know what’s coming but I know that what’s coming is wrong, and it’s outdated, and it’s made up, but even if it isn’t wrong and outdated and made up, which it is, it’s based on stolen materials and in any case it’s absolutely the right thing to do and, of course, we do it because, at the end of the day, terrorism!”
and
“There is something breathtaking about the Prime Minister’s scattergun pre-emptive denunciations. On Wednesday he popped on his wizard’s hat, stared into the future, and categorically dismissed the story which appeared in the Herald the following day. Not for him the decorous classic “the Government never comments on specific intelligence matters”. No, John Key could “guarantee you it will be wrong”, he said with a wave of the prime ministerial wand.”

This is the Prime Minister who has elevated lying and deception and dirty politics in general to a new art form.

Only a couple of years back people were stunned to watch the now least flavored German accusing Mr Key in Parliament in front of rolling cameras of lying. “Why did you face turn red, Prime Minister?” And an opinion poll showed that more people believed the German than the Prime Minister. These days every new lie triggers the same reaction. The Prime Minister caught lying, yawn. The GCSB spying on us, yawn. Tell us something new.

One example in this context is the Prime Minister’s statement that he would resign if there was mass surveillance/data collection of New Zealanders by the spy agency under his watch. Of course he doesn’t mean it. He didn’t say if I find out I will stop it. His statement is just another form of denial that it is happening. See I am still here so it can’t be happening otherwise I wouldn’t be here anymore.
And the (Teflon) Prime Minister knows that he can get away with it because his pollster tells him that to many people are not interested. He doesn’t care about the damage to our political culture and that he is widely held in contempt.

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Which still leave us with the crucial question to answer :

Do we want to live in a free society or in a Stasi style surveillance state ?

If we don’t defend our privacy and freedom and are eternally vigilant we will lose them. Don’t say you haven’t be warned. In this case by someone who comes from a country, which went through the experience twice (Gestapo & Stasi) in recent history.

by Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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