Thursday, October 30, 2008

Confused ozzies

This ad for Screen Australia was found in International TV and Film magazine, RealScreen.

We hood! We voting!

Shout out to Sa-Ra creative partners for this vid.
Something tells me the NZ election remix wouldn't be as fresh but Im gonna wear my hottest dress to the polls just in case.

Out-FOXED out-gunned

The disturbing thing is, general feedback from this notorious interview has been what an amazing journalist Megyn Kelly is, and boy didnt she show Burton who's boss, and wow you cant hide from the facts huh.

Um this looks like a psychotic woman screaming and interviewing herself to me, not a balanced electric debate (see FOX spell it out with 'Fair & Balanced' graphics written in the corner of Burton's shot). Obama is being slayed for previously having 'socialist' tendencies when I dont get 'hipy' vibes from anything he is quoted saying in 2001 (he does acknowledge 'redistribution of wealth' and 'community activities' being important to the civil rights movement uh-oh) so FOX prove Burtons point.

Journalistically this is just 12 types of wrong. Fox using its own news as a platform to defend itself.... thats pretty b-grade.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Destiny City

Brian Tamaki announces plans for standalone community in South Auckland

Destiny Church is planning to create a holy city for its followers in the heart of South Auckland.

The church's leader, Bishop Brian Tamaki has told supporters the plans are well advanced, and that donations for the project have topped $2.4 million.

He is urging church members to sell up their homes around the country and move to his promised land

See the terrifying video here

National Party Gulag

Prisoners to work for victim fund - National
More prisoners will have to work under a National government, and the money they earn will go towards a victims' fund. Those who refuse will lose their right to parole. National leader John Key announced plans to boost work and rehabilitation schemes yesterday, and confirmed it would allow the private sector to run prisons again. Mr Key said a National government would spend $7 million a year boosting the number of inmates in industry-based work from 2500-3500 by the end of 2011.
Mr Key said prisoners were usually paid between 20c and 60c an hour but were charged out at market labour rates.

So we enter the time of the corporate Gulag, Prisoners forced to work at what is effectively slave labour where smug National Party supporters get to race past motorways where chain gangs sing spirituals under a hot South Auckland sky, so hateful has our social policy become it has been warped into this abortion, exactly as it has been in America with the same vested interests of longer prison sentences and larger prison slave work force, Private prisons don’t give a toss about rehabilitation, they care only for longer sentences (meaning the prisoners stay longer, meaning they get more money to hold them) and while holding them they get to implement prison labour as a cheap workforce, they make money off the labour of prisoners – see how in that equation how the Private Prison doesn’t give a toss about rehabilitation and why only the state should be allowed to incarcerate you against your will and not a corporation?

Monday, October 27, 2008

The War on the World's Biggest Terrorist

Wowee, something of actual substance on the news - how did that sneak in there?

In between a nauseating soundbite and mugshot of Sarah Palin in an expensive pink suit and an item on how bikes are gonna cost NZ parents more this Xmas cos metal is now worth heaps due to the economic downturn, a small snippet about the latest US airstrike against Syria, which has allegedly killed eight civilians in the border town of Sukariya.

Why did it happen? The US has remained tight lipped, but I have a few ideas.

- Syria does not support the US’ murderous stance on Palestine.
- Syria does not support the US’ murderous stance on Iraq.
- Syria does not support Israel putting its filthy mitts all over Lebanon.
- Syria has been on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism since its inception in 1979 because of the above.

If you swapped “Syria” and US” around in all of those sentences, watch how the world would roar! Of course, none of this shit really matters when there are far more newsworthy items such as Britney’s return from the brink or the reasons for Owen Glenn's loneliness to fill the 6.35pm slot.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Blokes being blokes on the construction site

'Dry humping' and 'genital flicking' in the construction industry
A recent construction industry case demonstrates that this argument only goes so far. The employee who brought the claim worked for the company between 2005 and 2008 (the Employment Relations Authority made an order preventing publication of the names of those involved). The employee complained about a series of incidents involving workplace antics such as "dry humping" and "genital flicking". He said in one 2007 incident, the company's managing director approached him from behind while he was bending over and "rubbed his genital area" against his backside - a term the Authority described as "dry humping". The employee said he was shocked and immediately took evasive action. At a Christmas function the same year, the employee said he was the subject of another unpleasant experience, which the Employment Relations Authority referred to as "genital flicking". "This was a process where, when a group of workmates were standing together, typically in a social environment, one or other of them would flick at or near the genitals of a colleague nearby, allegedly with purpose of making the recipient spill his drink." The managing director acknowledged the genital flicking had taken place, and after the employee had protested twice, he desisted, and told staff "not to flick [the employee's] balls because he doesn't like it". The employee's solicitor wrote to the company warning of the behaviour but the company replied by suggesting it was endemic within the industry. After the genital flicking incident, the employee was left out of a Christmas fishing trip because "the company could not guarantee his physical safety". He also alleged the managing director had made offensive remarks about what the MD would like to do to his daughter. The Company's witnesses gave evidence that all women related to company personnel were "fair game", in terms of this sort of teasing, including the MD's wife. The employee left his job as a result of the stress he had suffered, and ended up a sickness beneficiary. Interestingly, the Authority said that the witnesses accepted many of these incidents probably happened, but that the behaviour is endemic in the industry and the employee in effect needed to "harden up". The Company referred in its defence to "rituals of Kiwi mateship", and said that "such rituals underpin the culture of the building and construction industry. It is not intended as sexual and is not viewed by those in the industry as sexual." The Authority said this view was misconceived, and it was difficult to see how it could be anything other than sexual. The Authority had no hesitation in concluding that the employee had suffered an unjustified disadvantage.

Who would have thought that there was so much deeply repressed sexuality on the NZ construction work site? Don’t you love how the Company tried to claim that such activity was endemic in NZ and was just blokes being blokes – dry humping by your boss, flicking one’s genitals and being told what the boss would like to do to your Daughter – that’s all normal is it? Shouldn’t we publish the name of this company – how can they hide who they are if they think this behaviour is acceptable? Note the company doesn’t deny any of this has happened, they actually try and fucking defend it! I would love to see how many of these Management types went to private boys schools and have all been through the fagging process that Teachers turn a blind eye to because it’ll condition boys up to be men - psychologically damaged and bullying men. This company didn’t deny any of this behaviour and try to justify it, are they really saying that across the many, many, many construction sites of NZ this level of unacceptable behaviour is not only rampant but so entrenched that it has its own set of justifications? If that is true, if what they say is true, then the full weight of Public disgust should be vented and noted and the loss of business and scrutiny be allowed to roast them the way it has roasted Contact to pull back from their greedy and ugly pay rise. If this level of sexual bullying is as widespread as this Company claims it is, then shouldn’t this Company’s public crucifixion be a very clear signal to the rest of the Industry that this level of behaviour is simply not tolerated in the same way racism or homophobia or sexism is not tolerated – or have we given up on those progressions, is that too, how does Talkback put it, ‘Politically Correct’ – basic respect and treatment towards eachother is too ‘Politically Correct’ is it NZ? Is there some other level of behaviour that is acceptable to working class men that isn’t acceptable to the rest? Basic human respect for one another demands much better treatment than this disgraceful and debasing behaviour and demanding that basic human respect shouldn’t be decried as nanny state, and recognize that those accusations of politically correct are actually part of the problem.

Latest poll suggests election too close to call

Latest poll suggests election too close to call
The latest 3 News political poll shows the Maori Party will choose the next Government, and the Greens enjoying their best result in more than five years. The poll is not good news for National: it effectively means the National and Labour blocks are neck and neck, despite National being by far the more popular major party. National is steady on 45.1 percent, and Labour actually drops to 37.4 percent. But the Greens are on 8.8 percent, and can be added to Labour's total. New Zealand First has crept up to 3.5 percent, so Winston Peters cannot be ruled out making a return to Parliament. National leader John Key will be sweating - remember he has ruled working with Peters out. The Maori Party is on 2.3 percent, but they are expected to win six, or perhaps even all seven Maori seats. ACT is on 1.7 percent, with just two MPs. Peter Dunne's United Future is pretty unpopular, polling at 0.2 percent, as were the Progressives, on 0.1. On this poll, Parliament would overhang to 123 seats. National would have 57 seats, ACT two, and United Future one – a total of 60 seats, and not enough to govern. In opposition Labour has 47 seats, the Greens 11 and the Progressives one – a total of 59, also not enough to govern.

The Polls this year have been notorious and with the inanely high expectations of some National Party supporters who are personally hateful at Helen, some Poll misreads could be blamed for fuelling some of that inanely high expectations. The Herald Poll, the Fairfax Poll and the TV One Poll have all been very high for National, historically those Polls have also been more wrong than the other Polls - but the most trusted Poll – the Roy Morgan has shown something very different and that difference has been mirrored by last nights TV3 Poll. The picture they show is the one I have been predicting will be where we find ourselves on the day after the election….

National will win the most seats on the night between 40%-45%

Labour won’t do as poorly as has been predicted, Maori voters keen to give a clear signal that they don’t want Sharples and co to cut a deal with National will pour their party vote into Labour and Lockwoods words will swing back the Pacific Island vote, Labour also have a much better party machine on the day to get their voters to the booths.

A resurgent Greens who have done the best media campaign this election will hit 7%-8%, normally they need to rely on a youth vote that gets too stoned to vote on the day, but this time around the youth vote is as likely to vote National meaning the Greens have picked up a lot broader support than youth and that broader support is more likely to vote on the day.

Maori Party – will win all 7 Maori seats, might get a boost in the Party vote from Nat supporters but not from Labour supporting Maori, but the Party vote won’t be high enough to give them an 8th MP.

NZ First – damn me but I think he might get 5.01%

Progressives & United – Jim and Peter will continue their own fiefdoms with both returned but with no friends to play with, which will be a loss for Matt Robson.

ACT – Rodney will take Epsom, but he might not get as many friends as he was hoping for.

The Government will either be Labour-Greens-Maori or National-Maori. My hope is Labour-Greens-Maori but the Greens and the Maori Party just haven’t been talking to eachother to force the progressive legislative platform through Labour and the only parties who have been meeting to thrash things out are the Nats and the Maori Party.

Also note the fury, and I mean FURY a lot of National Party supporters are going to feel by this whole process if they don’t win, we could be more polarized than ever before especially if the Maori Party and Greens pull Labour further to the left. I don’t see the country being in a much better place for this pretty bruising election.

Credit Tsunami – Greenspan

US facing 'credit tsunami'
America is "in the midst of a once in a century credit tsunami", a former US Federal Reserve chairman has said. Alan Greenspan warned that a "significant rise" in unemployment was unavoidable as the United States works its way through a massive financial crisis that will not ease up for many months. The former chairman of the US central bank also told the oversight committee of the US House of Representatives that he had made a "mistake" in believing that banks, in operating in their self-interest, would be sufficient to protect their shareholders and the equity in their institutions. "We are in the midst of a once in a century credit tsunami," Mr Greenspan said. He added he realised his "mistake" when he found "a flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works". As head of the Fed from 1987 to 2006, Mr Greenspan presided over much of the excess lending and expansion of the subprime mortgage market in the US that prompted the current economic crisis.

Okay, Bernanke warned last year that the sub prime crash would be worse than anyone had predicted and now the venerable and evil Greenspan has come out to say he thinks a credit tsunami is on the way. I think it is time to stop listening to the desperate Wall St sharks who keep promising that we’ve reached the bottom, they are just like Real Estate Agents who keep trying to plead that now is a great time to buy a house, these people have a vested interest in trying to dress it up, Greenspan on the other hand presided over much of the build up of this bubble so criticisng his own reign is as close as to sorry as he gets. The Europeans are talking about reconstructing deregulated capitalism, perhaps they have a point, the days of the Free Market on meth may be over, but the total cost is going to be a hell of a price to pay for such a lesson.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Grand Unified Field Theory: Nassim Haramein

Born in Geneva , Switzerland in 1962. As early as 9 years old, Mr. Haramein was already developing the basis for a hyperdimensional theory of everything he called the "Holofractographic Universe." This Unified Field Theory was developed based on a specific geometric array which he has found to be fundamental to creation.
This theory has now been presented to the scientific community, and his scientific papers will soon be followed by a DVD and a book for the layman entitled "Crossing the Event Horizon." In his extraordinary DVD presentation, filmed live, Nassim will take you on a fantastic journey through the history of the evolution of humanity, pointing out inconsistencies in our concepts of physics and the rectification necessary to product a true Unification process - one that unifies the four forces of nature, biological evolution, and even the occurrence of consciousness. Astonishingly, Nassim also demonstrates that this new all-encompassing theory seems to have parallels with ancient codes left in documents and colossal monuments around the world.

Hes pretty much nailed it. wtf.....LHC... Nassim figured it out just by thinking . This is my own view off course but my intuition & logic agrees with his concepts, not to mention that his theory means we have to look at evolution, biology and universe in a whole new way. A bit like learning earth isn't flat again, cept this time its the universe. Obviously this has not gone down well with status quo of physics, its ridiculed and laughed at. In the end it doesn't really matter because the idea speaks for its self and the truth is right infront of us in everyday reality.

Instead of seeing ourselves as separate from everything around us, this view allows us to recognize that we are embedded in a fractal feedback dynamic that intrinsically connects all things via the medium of a vacuum structure of infinite potential. This research has far reaching implications in a variety of fields including theoretical and applied physics, cosmology, quantum mechanics, biology, chemistry, sociology, psychology, archaeology, anthropology, etc. A fundamental understanding of the dynamics of this interconnectivity redefines the lens through which we see the universe and our place in it, and leads to theoretical and technological advancements that move us towards a sustainable future. This new approach to the physics of universal forces has the potential to solve the most pressing issues of our times.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The National-Maori Party Coalition

Key tells Maori he'll do a deal
John Key concedes he has privately indicated to the Maori Party that National's policy to abolish the Maori seats would not stand in the way of doing a deal with the party post-election. He also said yesterday he would be willing to look at the role of the Treaty of Waitangi, the Foreshore and Seabed Act, and the abolition of the dole, as advocated this week by co-leader Tariana Turia. Mr Key did not go so far as conceding Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples was right in claiming that Mr Key had privately agreed that the Maori seats would not go until Maori consented. National's policy is to begin the process to abolish the Maori seats once Treaty of Waitangi settlements are completed in 2014. The Maori Party's policy is to entrench the entitlement to the seats in legislation - which means a 75 per cent majority or a referendum to change them. And it believes that Maori should determine when the seats are abolished. The spat between Dr Sharples and Mr Key has become less about whether Mr Key has agreed to the Maori Party's position already and more about if one of them is not telling the full story. Dr Sharples again stood by his claim on Wednesday on Alt TV and his chief of staff, Harry Walker, who was at the meeting, backed him. The meeting was held in Parliament in Dr Sharples' office about two months ago. Party co-leader Tariana Turia and National deputy leader Bill English were present. Mr Key made his admission while campaigning in Dunedin yesterday. He said Dr Sharples had raised the issue with him many times. "I've certainly acknowledged it is not a bottom line for us." Mr Key continued to say no agreement had been made and that would remain so until after the election on November 8. On TV3 yesterday, Mr Key discussed the issues that could be on the negotiating table with the Maori Party and that included the role of the Treaty. The Maori Party does not see its MP as being part of the Crown. It wants any larger party it enters into a formal agreement with to recognise it as "the Treaty partner." Prime Minister Helen Clark was highly critical of Mr Key's statements, saying he had said one thing to the Maori Party behind closed doors "but then its dog-whistle politics to its broader electorate is to say 'we'll get rid of the Maori seats'. "This really does go to the core of the secret agenda - to say one thing to the public to try to get votes and another thing to try to get a political party on side." But Mr English said although the matter was discussed, he agreed with Mr Key - there was no agreement.

But they have just admitted that the claim Key made on the TVNZ debate that Pita Sharples was wrong about assurances Key had given him over the Maori Seats wasn’t the truth so why the hell would we believe anything else they have to say as they scramble to shut the public fight down with their potential ‘Treaty Partner’ and the damage this will do to the more feral part of the National Party supporter base.

National want to go into coalition with the Maori Party, it will give Key the grand gesture as a unifier that he wants and broaden the National Party beyond Farmers and Businessmen to win in 2011, the cost of this partnership will be huge hence the Maori Party pushing this ‘Treaty Partner’ rather than ‘Coalition Partner’ concept, the problem is that a chunk of National’s support are rednecks and any real sniff of this deal in the air will have them burning crosses in the main street.

Key wants to woo over the ‘blue necks’, social conservatives who find Tariana’s call to abolish the dole as sexy, and as the deal between the Maori Party and the Nats becomes more concrete, ACT have realized they are about to be jilted at the alter and that explains Rodney Hides outburst on Monday claiming that the country would be in danger if the Maori Party were the kingmakers.

With the SFO clearing Winston, he’s trying to woo that redneck vote away from National with yesterdays anti-immigration stunt, meaning the likelihood of NZ First getting over the 5% threshold increases, this becomes a double whammy against National because Winston will be taking their vote while getting back into Parliament. NZ First back in the game means National has little option other than a coalition with the Maori Party making Key’s position where he is effectively calling Sharples a liar totally untenable, hence his change in tune. In this scenario the real loser becomes the poor old Greens, who while on their way to possibly their best election result since their conception will find themselves locked out of any ability to influence legislation, their sudden understanding of this explains their very direct attack against Tariana’s dumping of the dole idea yesterday.

The possibility of a National/Maori Party coalition is fascinating and could create extraordinary and historic outcomes that has the potential of taking NZ somewhere breathtaking, but this is a shotgun wedding of competing self interests, not a love affair, and while the optimist in me hopes for the angels of their better natures to succeed, the cynic in me sees this for the shallow desires that are driving it, Key wants a perception shift about National while the Maori Party want concessions beyond any that are on offer with Labour and with such weak bonds this possible relationship has little chance of standing up to the Brat Pack front bench backlash within National and ACT’s new Fish’n’Chip club from working to derail this deal as soon as Key and Sharples sign it.

If the internal ructions within National and ACT this coalition will create weren’t bad enough, let’s not forget to mention an opposition consisting of a Phil Goff led Labour party sidelined with grievance enriched Maori who have given Helen their party vote, a desperate NZ First flushed with bigotry and a Green Party stronger than they have ever been. Cutting the deal may be the easiest thing Key the trader does, trying to make it work with an empowered Opposition and an angry 5th column will be something that may well be beyond his 6 years of political experience.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Key says one thing in public, another thing in private

Two weeks ago I interviewed Dr Pita Sharples on Let’s be Frank for ALT TV the day John Key launched his abolition of the Maori Seats policy. I put to Dr Sharples that the policy announcement was an ambush, I asked if they had talked before Key announced it and Dr Sharples stated that he had talked to Key and was assured by him that he would not abolish the Maori seats, that effectively he was being told by Key one thing in private and Key was saying something else in public. The NBR was the only newspaper that picked up on this until Shane Taurima put the allegation directly to John Key during the TVNZ debate on Tuesday night. John Key responded that Dr Sharples had it wrong. Disgusted by the mainstream media smothering the election debate process, Alt Tv hosted it’s own ‘Minor Party Right of Reply’ debate last night and Oliver put to Dr Pita Sharples the claim by John Key that he was wrong about any assurance not to abolish the Maori seats and Dr. Pita Sharples adamantly responded that wasn’t true and that John Key was wrong. Since then a staffer present at the meeting has now come out backing Sharples’ version of events.

John Key is telling the Maori Party one thing in private and his more reactionary electorate another thing in public. This is an election about 'trust' - John Key can't be trusted on meeting Lord Ashcroft, he can't be trusted on the amount of Tranz Rail shares and now we can't trust what he's saying regarding the political voice of Maoridom.

Monday, October 13, 2008

AIG fiddles while Jane and Joe burn

Doesn't it just make you wanna give the Free Market and Capitalism a big hug when you hear that, a week after the US government bailed out AIG with a USD85 billion loan, AIG's executives were using taxpayers' money to go on a week-long binge at an exclusive Californian resort, replete with fancy rooms, la-de-da meals, manicures, pedicures, massages and spa treatments. All paid for by Joe and Jane Blow, who are, in the meantime, losing their mortgages, their homes, their jobs, their health insurance, their lives.

AIG rationalised that it needed to "bring everybody together in order to keep the productivity of the insurance companies intact and protect policyholders by keeping them from going into a runoff status." Ohhhh, so the enormous bar tabs were courageously racked up and the rounds of golf were heroically played in order to save the average American.
Evidence has also surfaced that former CEO Martin Sullivan, who himself received a golden parachute of USD15 million in June, changed the bonus schedule even as AIG was going broke in order to ensure that top executives would continue to make their multi-million dollar salaries.
The US government has since stumped up yet another USD37.8 billion of taxpayer money to help AIG out with its liquidity problems.
This is but one pithy example illustrating that the only guarantee about the "free world" is that the rich will stop at nothing to protect the rich. As long as they continue to feast, they don't give a shit about everyone else starving at their expense.

KiwiSaver: the National Party effect

KiwiSaver: the National Party effect
THERE'S MUCH that's unclear about the National Party's policy on KiwiSaver, including whether it will do anything to get them elected. But one thing is certain: KiwiSaver nest eggs under Labour are bigger and go further towards securing your retirement. A friendly fund manager, who did not want to be named in order to avoid hacking off a potential future government, ran off a set of figures for us to test what National policy would do to KiwiSaver nest eggs. The Nats would cut the minimum contribution rate required of employers to 2% (from the target under Labour of 4%), and remove the tax credits the government (i.e. the taxpayer) would have forked over to employers to help them meet the 4% they were to chip in. Therefore a $45,000 salary earner saving into KiwiSaver for 15 yearswould have about $31,250 less in his or her nest egg at retirement. If that person were saving for 30 years, the difference would be just over $92,300. Invested to produce income, that would mean a good few thousand less to spend each year enjoying your retirement years.

National really dropped the ball on Kiwisaver didn’t they? As if the tax cuts were underwhelming enough not to mention penalizing those who get Working for Families, you get the real feeling that the Nats were surprised by how badly the accounts actually were and made changes in the heat of the moment that they may not have foreseen the consequences of, because the panning of their centerpiece election platform has been criticized across the political spectrum with many questioning the wisdom of attacking our savings and research at a time when savings and research are going to be vital to survive the economic collapse. The interesting thing is that the TV3 and Roy Morgan Poll (two polls that are traditionally very close to the end election day result) that showed a National Party collapse of soft vote was taken BEFORE the full ramifications of Nationals watering down Kiwisaver had occurred, so the full voter backlash could be seen next week. It was painful to watch Guy Espiner actually rubbishing his own Colmar Brunton TV One Poll on Sunday by saying that he didn’t believe the result they were showing was reflecting the reality on the ground, seeing as the Colmar Brunton Poll has been the most incorrect Poll in the last two elections (off by 5 points last time) there have to be some questions asked about their appalling polling this time around. With Labour announcing Universal Allowances and Winston getting off the SFO investigation, this election is now sooooooo wide open.

Shower Heads, Green Bulbs and $5 Trillion in environmental damage per year.

Nature loss 'dwarfs bank crisis'
The global economy is losing more money from the disappearance of forests than through the current banking crisis, according to an EU-commissioned study. It puts the annual cost of forest loss at between $2 trillion and $5 trillion. The figure comes from adding the value of the various services that forests perform, such as providing clean water and absorbing carbon dioxide. The study, headed by a Deutsche Bank economist, parallels the Stern Review into the economics of climate change. Speaking to BBC News on the fringes of the congress, study leader Pavan Sukhdev emphasised that the cost of natural decline dwarfs losses on the financial markets. "It's not only greater but it's also continuous, it's been happening every year, year after year," he told BBC News. "So whereas Wall Street by various calculations has to date lost, within the financial sector, $1-$1.5 trillion, the reality is that at today's rate we are losing natural capital at least between $2-$5 trillion every year."

Nice to put it in context isn’t it, while the Masters of the Universe pop their corporate bubble of greed we are damaging our environment almost three times more than the cost of that deregulated romp has cost us – EVERY YEAR. The Stern Review still makes the very pertinent point that capitalism fuelled by unending consumption and consumer culture simply is not sustainable and makes no economic sense, the cost of change is a fraction of the cost of the consequences of not changing. I wonder if that message is actually getting through in NZ? We are a nation of hypocrites when it comes to the environment, we sell our clean green hobbit credentials to the globe, yet we pollute and damage the eco system beyond it’s ability to repair and because one of the main drivers of our economy, Agriculture, happens to be one of our biggest polluters we don’t really push the issue do we? I wonder if we are actually mature enough to have a discussion about sustainability, look at the near rage induced strokes from discussing something as petty as eco-bulbs or shower heads! It’s almost as if some NZers feel being forced to change to more sustainable ways of using energy and water is akin to the sexual molestation of their pets, watching Paul Henry huff and puff about shower heads on Close Up last night was the new low for me, hey Paul is there anything else a current affairs show might want to be covering at the moment, say the fucking election by any chance? Oh no, we had to have a discussion about the latest Nanny State Dykocracy legislating political correctness by meddling in the showers and reading light spaces of NZ! What the fuck is going on? Sometimes in NZ I feel like I’ve woken up at a KKK rally wearing a Barack Obama supporters T-shirt. If we are going to be the necessary agents of change this selfish bullshit needs to be called out for what it is and rejected with the same passion one puts into rejecting Jehova Witnesses access into your home. We need top grow up, and with up to $5 Trillion in damage by deforestation each year, it is a growing up that is needed now because there won’t be much latter if we continue unsustainable economic activities.

Popping a cap in yo arse

McCain: I will whip Obama's you-know-what
Republican John McCain dialed back personal attacks on Democrat Barack Obama over the weekend, but vowed he would "whip" his opponent's "you know what" when they clash this week in their final presidential debate this week.

I’m sorry, what? What did McCain say, is the guy even lucid anymore? Did McCain just imply he was going to ‘whip Obama’s arse’, in a country with the slave history of America, did McCain just say he would whip the black guy? Someone needs to check his meds because using whipping as your description of what the white guy intends to do to the black guy in a country built on the backs of slaves could monly be matched in tastelessness if Obama came out claiming that he was going to “Shoot McCain down and torture him for 5 years in the next debate”. This latest outburst shows the signs of a desperate campaign, and desperate they should be, Obama leads now in states that would give him 250 of the 270 electoral college votes he needs to become President, where as McCain only has about 190 electoral college votes from the states he leads in. With Obama simply needing 20 more electoral college seats from the 6 or so too close to call states what is looming isn’t just a victory, it’s a landslide that will hopefully bury this appalling Republican Party for a decade.

When sorry isn't really sorry

Aborigines say Australia intervention racist - study
Aborigines feel a strong sense of injustice over an Australian government intervention into scores of troubled remote communities and believe the programme is racist, an independent review said. Australia's former conservative government sent police and soldiers into outback towns and settlements in June 2007 to stamp out widespread child sex abuse, fuelled by chronic alcoholism from "rivers of grog" in indigenous communities. But an independent review of the intervention, set up by the centre-left Labour government after it won power last November, found widespread problems with the programme, which was aimed at 73 Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. "In many communities there is a deep belief that the measures introduced by the Australian government. . . were a collective imposition based on race," said the review, released on Monday by Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin. Australia's 460,000 Aborigines make up about 2 per cent of the population. They suffer higher rates of unemployment, substance abuse and domestic violence, and have a life expectancy 17 years shorter than other Australians.

Beyond Rudd’s genuine symbolism of his historic apology and it’s deep necessity lies the fact that Rudd has not done a damned thing to stop Howard’s racist ‘Aboriginal emergency’ that took him 11 years to notice. The horrific underfunding into Australia’s indigenous communities that only exacerbate the worst effects of colonialism have not been dealt with while Rudd reviews this latest affront to indigenous rights. The sudden turn of the global economy doesn’t bode well for the return of Aboriginal land rights when there are minerals to dig up and offset the recent economic pain, if Australia couldn’t look after Aborigines when the boom was on, there is bugger all chance they will be looked after in the bust.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

HK119 'BUY ME'

All her videos are this simple and intense!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

National’s 'Mug Paul to bribe Peter' Tax backlash, Unions and more secret cocktail recordings

Nats' tax policy hits low-income savers
National is courting a tax policy backlash, with KiwiSavers on low incomes set to be worse off by up to $25 a week under its proposals - making the slog of saving for a house deposit or retirement harder. The party is receiving a cool response to its package, as the full effect for low-income KiwiSavers sinks in. This includes its move to match no more than 2 per cent of a worker's wages with government subsidies worth up to $20 a week. While all workers in KiwiSaver would be worse off, those earning up to $40,000 a year with a family and paying 4 per cent of their wage into the scheme would suffer a double whammy - less in their pockets and a much lower government subsidy. National leader John Key hit the campaign trail yesterday to sell his tax package, but had to fight off fresh controversy as more secret recordings surfaced. Deputy leader Bill English was recorded telling National Party delegates: "Winning is fantastic. Nothing beats winning in politics, despite all our highly principled statements. It's fantastic ... do what we need to do to win."

You can see the naked flame of ambition burn brightly there with Bill English can’t you, not principle, not doing good – WINNING is everything, he doesn’t sound like he wouldn’t sell Kiwibank does he. I can’t wait to see what they have on John Key from that cocktail party, meanwhile the Unions are starting their attack run…

Unions fear KiwiSaver snag
National's proposed changes to KiwiSaver could give employers an opportunity to cut wage increases and use the money to pay their contributions to the scheme, unions and employment specialists say. National wants to repeal legislation introduced weeks ago stopping employers from paying staff who join KiwiSaver less than colleagues who don't. Labour Minister Trevor Mallard introduced the changes after reports that some employers were docking pay to cover the compulsory 1 per cent contribution, while pocketing tax credits the Government gives to cover the contribution. National has said it would let employers give an equivalent pay increase to their non-KiwiSaver employees and leave it up to employers and employees to negotiate a deal in good faith as long as it met the minimum requirements. It would also amend the KiwiSaver Act to make it clear no employee could have gross taxable pay reduced because they had joined KiwiSaver. But Simpson Grierson employment specialist Samantha Turner said it was not clear how National would stop employers reducing pay increases to pay for KiwiSaver contributions. Council of Trade Unions chief economist Peter Conway said the proposed changes would result in workers paying for the employer contribution by forgoing wage rises. "While they can't cut somebody's pay, it will mean employers can say 'I won't increase your pay because I'm going to have to contribute 2 per cent to KiwiSaver'."

So not only will National Tax Policy hurt those on the lower rungs of society, Kiwisavers on low incomes, it will allow Employers to bypass wage rises to put their compulsory component into Kiwisaver instead. But much, much worse than all of that is the simple fact that National’s tax policy won’t do a damned thing long term for the country…

Brian Fallow
National claims its tax package will stimulate the economy in the short term and improve incentives and drive growth in the longer term. The first claim is plausible, the second not so much.

National's plan won't do a thing to prepare NZ for the possible fallout from this corporate finance meltdown. More tax cuts have to come from somewhere - and attacking the savings system of New Zealanders is an atrocious thing to do when our history of saving has been so poor, it is the exact wrong thing to do, consumption by credit has become the cause of the meltdown we find ourselves in now globally and National want to make that consumption easier by lowering the threshold of saving so people can use that money on those increasing credit card repayments, energy cost increases and record high food prices. Suggestions that National is 'allowing' desperate people to reinvest their tax cut into Kiwisaver seem to ignore how tight the reality of everyday living is for many NZers, they won't re-invest that money they will spend it, with leaders hoping that more consumption will stoke money flow within an economy that has lost the one thing capitalism needs for survival – trust. With banks not trusting eachother because of insidious Enron-esq financial structures that are all now crashing they aren’t lending to eachother without a big promise from the Government. This has been exacerbated by a super deregulated industry fuelled by corporate greed, incredibly these pirates will walk with the private gain while society will pay the public cost, yet we spend so much time fixating on the gangs when it’s these white collar criminals who should be made to feel the full force of the law.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The truth about the spin

This is a longie but a goodie. Jonathan Cook, who has written for the Guardian, the Observer, the Times, Al Jazeera, the New Statesman, International Herald Tribune, Al-Ahram Weekly (Cairo), The National (Abu Dhabi), Electronic Intifada and Counterpunch gives Media Lens the inside word on the career path of a mainstream journalist. When you have a spare moment, make yourself a cup of coffee, put your feet up, and read this. It beats reading the paper anyday. And the truth doesn't fit into short-attention-span soundbites anyway.

Lesson 1: It’s all about money
In many ways, my introduction to journalism was far from typical. In the mid-1980s, after university, I was casting around for a career and decided to “try” journalism. I called the local free newspaper in the city in which I had graduated, Southampton, and offered my services. Free newspapers were a new and rapidly growing form of print media. Cheap production had been made possible by the new technologies about to revolutionise the working practices of all papers, including those in Fleet Street. I was using a small Macintosh computer, writing stories and designing the pages, at a time when the nationals were still laboriously typesetting. At the Southampton Advertiser, we produced a weekly newspaper with just four editorial staff: an editor, two reporters and a photographer. The advertising staff was more than twice that size. By definition, free newspapers are advertising platforms – since they have no other way of raising revenue. But when they first emerged, some of the independently owned ones were not as dire as they uniformly are today – for reasons we will come to. The Southampton Advertiser was one of a small chain of free newspapers on the south coast owned by a local businessman. He made no effort to conceal the fact that he saw his newspapers simply as vehicles for making money. Most ambitious journalists start out on a daily local newspaper (I would soon end up on one), owned by one of a handful of large media groups. There, as I would learn, one quickly feels all sorts of institutional constraints on one’s reporting. As a young journalist, if you know no better, you simply come to accept that journalism is done in a certain kind of way, that certain stories are suitable and others unsuitable, that arbitrary rules have to be followed. These seem like laws of nature, unquestionable and self-evident to your more experienced colleagues. Being a better journalist requires that these work practices become second nature. The Advertiser, however, offered a far more enlightening and free-wheeling environment for a young journalist. Larger newspapers structure their offices in such a way as to ensure that editorial and advertising staff keep an ostentatious distance from each other, usually on separate floors – as if underscoring to everyone that editorial judgments are free of commercial concerns. At the Advertiser we dispensed with such niceties. The advertising staff were next door and we freely mingled and socialised. Nonetheless, on the Advertiser the official motto was that we were there to satisfy the readers. I remember in my first week being given a slide show by the advertising manager, whose various independently audited surveys revealed that the Advertiser was better liked and more read in the city than the paid-for local evening newspaper – including, he added proudly, by the ABs, professionals with money to spend on consumer goods. I doubt he was lying. Invariably when I went out on a story, local people welcomed me into their homes telling me how much they admired the paper and often asking why the evening paper could not be more like ours. People seemed genuinely excited at the prospect of being included in our coverage. It seems almost paradoxical to me now. How could a newspaper entirely dependent on advertising outperform a newspaper part of whose revenues came from a reading public who had to pay for it? Surely the evening newspaper had far more incentive to come up with reports that appealed to its readers than the free sheet? We will come to a full explanation soon, but here I will highlight a major part of the answer. An important concern of the Advertiser’s owner was getting his paper better read than the evening paper so that he could attract advertising away from it and charge more per page to the advertisers. It was a form of genuine – and short-lived – competition between local newspapers. Independently owned free sheets like the Advertiser created a real battle for readers with the paid-for evenings, a situation that had been unknown for many decades in almost all Britain’s cities. It also meant that free sheets like the Advertiser that were not part of a media corporation had a real motivation to write stories that were popular with readers and dispense with the fusty, deferential reporting that had typified the monopolistic evening papers for decades. The Advertiser preferred to risk upsetting officials if it meant gaining readers. To this end, the Advertiser’s owner had recruited an award-winning former investigative reporter from the Daily Mirror. Our paper was full of hard-hitting news reports and investigations. I remember being sent out to take on shotgun-wielding “cowboy clampers”, conmen who at that time had the freedom to clamp cars and then demand money with menaces; we exposed council corruption; and I was put in charge of running a campaign to bully the city into beginning recycling projects. Soon council officials were refusing to speak to me. It felt like we were in a low-budget remake of All the President’s Men. Our efforts were amply rewarded too. That year we won the Free Newspaper of the Year Award. Incredibly, this was the most exciting time I would ever experience in newspapers. Most of the time it felt like we were free to write anything. On the rare occasions we did make a “mistake”, however, it was clear that it was because we had upset an advertiser rather than the readers. It was a lesson not lost on me. Today, free newspapers are derided. And there is good reason. The Advertiser’s rapid fate has been shared by all the other free sheets that tried to compete with a local established daily paper. The Advertiser became a genuine threat to the commercial interests of the local Evening Echo (as it was then known). Even with a tiny staff, the Advertiser had far more interesting stories than the evening paper. Humiliatingly, the Echo was forced to run follow-ups of our stories when our exclusive reports raised questions in the city council chamber. Readers started abandoning the evening paper: why pay for your news when you can get it better written and delivered through your door for free? Shortly after I had been poached by the Echo, the Advertiser was bought out by the evening paper’s owners. The staff of the free sheet were relocated to the Echo’s building and my former paper was eviscerated. Within a short time a new editor was appointed and the paper’s hard-hitting reports were ditched. Life-style features and syndicated material dominated instead. One of my former colleagues would confide in the pub that his job was now to rewrite press releases. The Advertiser stopped being a rival to the Echo; it became simply an advertising supplement to it.

Lesson 2: Forget about Woodward and Bernstein
It is, of course, no surprise that a large newspaper would want to devour a threatening smaller one. That is the nature of the free market. But, given journalists’ assumptions about the workings of a free press, should the Echo not have had every interest, after destroying the Advertiser, in learning from the latter’s success? Even given the restoration of its monopoly, would it not have a commercial interest in seeking to win back for itself the loyalty of local readers? At first it looked as if that was going to happen: both I and the Advertiser’s former editor were taken on by the Echo. But it soon emerged that we were to be stymied every time we tried to write the kind of stories we covered for the Advertiser. Here is a typical experience I had early on with the Echo. I had been approached by a group of residents concerned that the Church of Scientology was intending to use a local health clinic to promote their work. The residents felt this was a misuse of public space and that the clinic’s reputation might confer some legitimacy on the Scientologists’ claims. When I told the news editor about the story, he looked mortified. “We never run stories about the Scientologists,” he said. Why, I asked. “Because they have money and sue every time we mention them in the paper.” I am not even sure whether his excuse was genuine. Had I written the story for the Advertiser, I doubt we would have been sued. But, looking back, I think his comment concealed some bigger truths about the difference between the Echo and the Advertiser. Unlike most media owners, the Advertiser’s original proprietor was not a corporate player; he was a local businessman who had spotted an opening in the media market created by new technology. This created a conflict of interest for him that for a time favoured the readers of his newspapers. Against the might of the evening paper, the Advertiser was a minnow. Because it depended entirely on advertising revenues, it had to steal readers from the Echo if it was to push up its rates. But to make the paper interesting to readers we needed to upset the local centres of power like the council, even though that could in the longer term potentially harm the owner’s business interests. It may also be that this was a short-term strategy by the proprietor. He knew that if he could take away readers from the Echo, the evening paper would be forced to buy him out. Interestingly, the Echo set up a rival free sheet to try to kill the Advertiser but it never made a dent in its rival’s popularity. Also, the Advertiser’s ability to cause harm to powerful interests in the city was limited. We published maybe half a dozen high-profile news stories each week in the paper. We easily found enough material of community interest to fill our weekly newspaper. We concentrated on corrupt council officials, bad planning decisions, conmen, and shoplifting local celebrities. The Echo was a very different kind of operation. It published a hundred or so stories each day on all aspects of local life. If it had allowed its journalists the freedom to use their critical faculties about stories that were of no concern to the city’s powerful elites, how would it have been able to stop them using the same skills when handling stories that did concern such elites? And just as importantly, how would the newspaper have been able to maintain the pretence of demanding “balanced” and “objective” reporting from its journalists if it so conspicuously applied double standards, depending on whether a story concerned powerful interest groups or not? It would have been clear to even the most blinkered editorial staff member that the paper’s professional standards – the freedom to write without interference – had been compromised. So instead the Echo’s reporters learnt to write in a bland and deadening style that made most stories seem either of little or no importance or left the reader terminally confused with a ping-pong of he said-she said. Official sources of information and confirmation were always preferred because they were more “reliable” and “trustworthy”. Council officials were always ready and glad to speak to an Echo journalist. To many of the Echo’s staff, this had all become second nature. Promotion meant moving on from the lowly beat reporter, covering community issues, to other posts: the city or county council correspondent, who depended on council officials and councillors for information; the court reporter, who loyally regurgitated court proceedings; the business staff, who tried to liven up advertisers’ press releases; and the crime correspondent, who spent all day hanging out with policemen. In other words, success at the newspaper was gauged in terms of obedience to figures of authority, and the ability not to alienate powerful groups within the community. Ambitious journalists learnt to whom they must turn for a comment or a quote, and where “suitable” stories could be found. It was a skill that presumably stayed with them for the rest of their careers. Those who struggled to cope with these strictures were soon found out. They either failed their probationary periods and were forced to move on, or stayed on in the lowliest positions where they could do little harm. I followed the professional guidelines as laid down by my bosses but found myself deeply dissatisfied with the Echo and its institutional constraints. My overwhelming impression was of the Echo’s failure as a newspaper – though at that time I attributed it simplistically to cowardice on the part of the paper’s editors. Possibly my eyes were more open to this failure than some of my colleagues because I had enjoyed relative freedom to report at the Advertiser. At the Echo, unlike the free sheet, reporters were rarely allowed to write reports based on readers who phoned in with their stories – tip-offs that had been the bread and butter of my earlier work. Investigations too were out. Sources for stories were always official sources. It is interesting that investigative journalism, always a rare form of the reporter’s craft, has all but died out – and is nowadays largely restricted to the internet. Most young journalists, myself included, were raised on the idea that we had joined a profession that aspired to Woodward and Bernstein-type exposes. We understood, and our profession’s own mythologising encouraged such an understanding, that investigative reporting was the purest form of the journalist’s craft. In many ways it was the ideal. It is therefore instructive to consider how newspapers treated investigative reporting in its heyday. Of note is the fact that such investigations, when they occurred, were carried out almost exclusively by a national media desperate for accolades; investigative teams were numerically tiny in comparison with the main editorial staff; the investigative reporters were restricted to their own discrete teams with almost no contact with other editorial departments; and their choice of subjects was closely “supervised” by senior editorial staff. In other words, the investigative reporter is the exception in journalism rather than the model. He or she is the loose cannon whose reports can bring the paper great acclaim but only if the reporter is kept on a tight leash. The honour they bring the paper can equally turn disastrous if the wrong subjects are pursued or the story leads in unpredictable directions that threaten powerful interests. This is why investigative reporters have always been a small and threatened breed and have always been closely scrutinised.

Lesson 3: Professional means servile
Most journalists learn their trade by working on local media with periods of study spent at one of dozens of journalism colleges around the country. Typically, the young journalist is taken on by a newspaper for up to two years on probation (indentures) at very low pay, and the study periods are paid for by the newspaper. During this period, when they are both financially and professionally vulnerable, journalists are taught the main skills: how to structure and write news stories, master shorthand, navigate through the system of local government, and abide by the laws of libel. The newcomer is offered proper employment if he or she passes the exams, shows competency and is considered to have absorbed satisfactorily the constraints described above. I travelled a slightly different route. After working at the Advertiser, I went off to get myself trained and won a scholarship to Cardiff University’s journalism post-graduate course, one of only two such programmes in the country then. Of the 50 or so idealistic trainees alongside me, all hoped to leapfrog the local papers and TV and arrive in a plum job in the national media. The course spent a lot of time reminding us that we were following in the footsteps of the country’s leading journalists, many of whom had attended Cardiff. Instead of two years of probation on a local newspaper, we had an intensive year-long period of study to groom us for our probable rapid ascent through the ranks of the media. Cardiff therefore spent a great deal of time persuading us that we were professionals: that is, members of a profession with rules and ethics just like our counterparts in the law and medicine. That is actually a departure from the historic view of journalists, which was that they belonged to a trade and that they learnt their craft on the job through what were effectively apprenticeships. Journalists in the nineteenth century understood that they were little different from cabinet-makers: you learnt the rules of the craft from your elders and then applied them. If that sounds difficult to believe today, my experience living in Nazareth – the largest Arab city inside Israel – may be helpful. Here journalists are essentially party political functionaries, working for newspapers established by and closely allied to those parties. Most journalists write little more than press releases for their party and then publish this propaganda as news reports in the party’s newspaper. Unsurprisingly, journalists are generally held in low esteem. Until the twentieth century that was pretty much the situation in Britain and the United States. A journalist worked for a proprietor with a clear political agenda and produced copy in keeping with that agenda. Such journalists were sometimes derogatively referred to as “hacks”. According to Wikipedia, “hack” in this context derives from “hackney”, “a horse that was easy to ride and available for hire”. The proprietor was, of course, the rider. The press earned its reputation as the Fourth Estate largely because the interests of these newspapers, representing different elite groups, sometimes clashed. In such circumstances a journalist was briefly able to shine a light on corruption or intrigues in the corridors of power. (Much the same could be said of the judiciary, yet few would suggest that nineteenth-century judges represented interests any more varied than those of the ruling classes from which they were drawn). A change in the media’s view of its role began in the early stages of the twentieth century, provoked by several parallel developments, among them: universal suffrage, the emergence of large corporations, the establishment of psychology as a field of study, and the consolidation of the PR industry. Media Lens have described the process of the “professionalising” of journalism in detail in a previous alert ( so I will not dwell on it again. But several points should be highlighted. The most urgent battleground for the press barons, and the financial interests that lay behind them, was the winning of a popular mandate for the corporations to accrete even greater power. The chief tool for sanctioning this agenda would be the media. As part of this concentration of power, the proprietors waged a relentless war against the radical and socialist presses, gradually starving them of advertising until their demise was inevitable. (The free sheets of the 1980s would pose a similar threat and be dealt with in much the same way by the established local newspapers.) But there was a catch: once only a few rich individuals exclusively owned the country’s media, the propagandastic nature of their papers’ journalism would be even more evident. After all, the public understood only too well that newspapers were there to serve the interests of their proprietors. This impression needed to be changed if the public was to be successfully pacified in the face of the corporations’ agenda. And so dawned the era of the “professional” media. Journalists were no longer to be seen as tradesmen; they were professionals. Their Hippocratic oath was balance, objectivity, neutrality. Unlike their predecessors, they would be trained in academic institutions and could then be trusted to offer only facts in news reports. Opinion would be restricted to the comment pages to give a newspaper “character”. That conveniently explained why there was so little differentiation in the various papers’ coverage or in their selection of news stories. Be sure: the product was the same as it had always been. But now the media became much better at packaging itself. While reporters on the red tops continued to be characterised as “hacks”, journalists on “quality papers” started to be trusted as reliable and impartial conduits of information. The campaign of “professionalising” the media was so successful that, after their training, even the journalists believed they were disinterested parties in reporting the news. The selection of certain stories as newsworthy and the further selection of certain facts as relevant to the story had once been understood to be dependent on the biases of the organisation a journalist worked for. Now reporters were made to believe that these arbitrary criteria were inherent in a category of information called ”news”. And that only through their training could journalists recognise these criteria. The success of this campaign can be seen in the huge rise in the popularity of journalism as a career among middle-class children. The rate at which this “professionalisation” of the media has accelerated can be judged by the fact that 20 years ago when I was training there were only two post-graduate courses in the UK. Today, there are more than a dozen. There are also numerous undergraduate programmes teaching journalism. By making journalism appear so attractive as a profession, the corporate media have gained an additional benefit, familiar to anyone who understands the laws of supply and demand. When I was at Cardiff, our teachers used to warn us of the difficulties of finding employment as a journalist. There were just far too many people interested in working in the media, and not enough vacancies. The competition today must be far fiercer than it was then. Journalism has always been a precarious career. By having too many journalists chasing too few vacancies, the media’s owners retain the whip hand. Any individual journalist who questions the framework within which he or she works will be sure to find someone ready to take their place. In this way a craven workforce can be maintained.

Lesson 4: There is no home of the brave
Like many British journalists, my ambition was to reach the national media. I had been working for several years at the Echo, learning my craft, proving I was a professional, slowly moving up the hierarchy in terms of promotion but not much in terms of responsibility. I seemed to have a hit a glass ceiling, and I had a vague sense of why. A damning criticism I have often heard in newsrooms was that someone is not a “team player”. Nobody said this to my face at the Echo but I had no doubt that it was a suspicion held by the senior staff. I thought of them as cowardly, failing in their role as watchdogs of power. Maybe my contempt showed a little. In those days, my experiences at the Echo did nothing to shake my faith in the profession. I assumed that these failings were restricted to the paper and its lily-livered editors. Were new editors to be appointed, or were I to move to another paper, I would find things were different. The national newspapers, I had no doubt, were braver. Working on a national is seen as the pinnacle of a professional journalist’s career. Very few make it that far. The competition is fierce, and acceptance is slow. As we have seen, there are many stages in the early career of journalists designed to handicap and weed out those who do not conform or who question the framework within which they work. Noam Chomsky refers to this as part of a “filtering” process. Are the nationals different? It worth examining how a journalist who works for the Guardian, Independent, BBC or any other major media institution gets a job. There are several stages on the way to a secure position in the national media. The most common requirement is to have completed several years in the local media. As we have noted, the turnover of staff at the local level is high, with most "non-team players" identified very quickly. Those who survive tend to share the professional values of the editors they serve. If there is any doubt in the case of a particular individual, the national media can always check his or her track record of published articles. A tiny number of privileged individuals manage to avoid this route and come direct from university. At the Guardian, where I worked for several years, it was seen as a mild amusing idiosyncrasy that the newspaper recruited the odd trainee direct from Oxbridge, and more usually from Cambridge. It was generally assumed that this was a legacy of the fact that the paper's editors had traditionally been Cambridge graduates. These journalists invariably worked their way up the paper's hierarchy rapidly. This preference for untested Oxbridge graduates can probably be explained by the filtering process too. The selected graduates always came from the same predictable backgrounds, and were the product of lengthy filtering processes endured in the country’s education system. The Guardian appeared to be more confident that such types could be relied on without the kind of "quality control" needed with other applicants. For a journalist like myself who was well trained and had spent several years in the local media, getting a foot in the door of the nationals was relatively easy. Keeping my feet under the desk was far harder. Few recruits are given a job or allowed to write for a paper until they have completed yet another lengthy probationary period. On national newspapers, this usually means spending considerable time as a sub-editor, as I did, a role in which the journalist is slowly acclimatised to the newspaper's “values”. The sub sits at the bottom of the newspaper's editorial hierarchy, editing and styling reports as they come in for publication. Above him or her are the section editors (home, foreign etc), a chief sub-editor (usually an old hand), and a revise sub to check their work. Subs invariably spend years as freelancers or on short-term contracts. The subs’ primary task is to stop errors of fact and judgment getting into the newspaper. But their own judgment is constantly under scrutiny from editors higher up the hierarchy. If they fail to understand the paper's “values”, their career is likely to stall on this bottom rung or their contract will not be renewed. Reporters who avoid a period of sub-editing are in an equally insecure position. They are usually taken on as a freelance writer before getting a series of short contracts. During this period news reporters are mainly restricted to the night shift, when their job is to update for the later editions stories that have already been filed by senior reporters during the day. Writers offering material from abroad fare little better. The best they can usually aspire to is being taken on as a stringer, retained by the paper for an agreed period. Hollywood films may perpetuate the idea of reporters, even junior ones, regularly initiating new stories for their papers, but actually it is relatively rare. In truth, reporters are more usually directed by senior editors on which stories to cover and how to cover them. Unless they are senior writers, usually specialist correspondents, they have little input into the way they cover events. If they are to survive long, writers must quickly learn what the news desk expects of them. Newcomers are given a small amount of leeway to adopt angles that are "not suitable". But they are also expected to learn quickly why such articles are unsuitable and not to propose similar reports again. The advantage of this system is that high-profile sackings are a great rarity. Editors hardly ever need to bare their teeth against an established journalist because few make it to senior positions unless they have already learnt how to toe the line. The media's lengthy filtering system means that it is many years before the great majority of journalists get the chance to write with any degree of freedom for a national newspaper, and they must first have proved their "good judgment" many times over to a variety of senior editors. Most have been let go long before they would ever be in a position to influence the paper’s coverage. Journalists, of course, see this lengthy process of recruitment as necessary to filter for “quality” rather than to remove those who fail to conform or whose reporting threatens powerful elites. The media are supposedly applying professional standards to find those deserving enough to reach the highest ranks of journalism. But, of course, these goals – finding the best, and weeding out the non-team players – are not contradictory. The system does promote outstanding “professional” journalists, but it ensures that they also subscribe to orthodox views of what journalism is there to do. The effect is that the media identify the best propagandists to promote their corporate values. It is notable that there is not a single large media institution dedicated to providing a platform to those who dissent or express non-conformist views, however talented they are as journalists. Only at the very margins of what are considered to be left-wing publications such as the Guardian and the Independent can such voices very occasionally be heard, and even then only in the comment pages. Surprisingly, most national newspapers talk a great deal about their “values” and the special character that marks them out from their rivals. And yet when I was seeking a job on the national newspapers, it was striking how interchangeable the staff were. I spent periods working freelance for the Guardian, Observer and Telegraph, and kept meeting the same aspiring journalists trying to get work at these apparently very different newspapers. As freelancers we quickly became aware of what each newspaper expected from us in terms of story presentation, and the differences were not great -- it was more about nuance (that favourite term of professional journalists). Similarly, the nationals regularly poached senior staff from each other. Journalists like to argue that this is not surprising in a “professional” environment. After all, the point of “professional” standards is that all newspapers should apply the same principles of supposed neutrality and objectivity. Where, then, is this difference of character to be located in our media? According to most journalists it is to be found in the commentary pages and in the selection of news stories. This is where a paper reveals its true values. (We will gloss over the problematic fact that the need for stories to be selected – by whom and according to what criteria? – in itself undermines the idea of impartiality.) In fact, despite their claims to having distinctive characters, newspapers closely follow the same news agendas, trying to mirror each other’s story lists. One of the jobs I once had on the foreign desk was to scan the pages of the first editions of rival papers to see if they had any stories we had missed. All national papers do this compulsively.
Lesson 5: Success comes with the herd
The mirroring by newspapers of each other’s news agendas is often attributed to human nature, in the form of the herd instinct or the tendency to follow the pack. In truth, this is the way most reporters work out in the field. They attend press conferences, they chase after celebrities together, they speak to the same official spokespeople. I learnt this myself the hard way when I moved to Israel to report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Naively, I assumed that, in line with my vision of the ideal journalist as an investigative reporter, a Woodward or a Bernstein, that I should be trying to find exclusives, stories no other reporter knew about. After all, most newspapers still include as their motto some variation on the claim to be “First with the news”. What I discovered, however, was that, when I rung up the news desk back in London, the editor would always start by asking me where else the story had been published. Paradoxically, when I said it was an exclusive, I could hear his interest wilt. Even though he knew I had a great deal of experience, he did not want to take a chance on a story that no one else had reported. On run-of-the-mill stories too, the demand from the news desk was the same: could I get an official source to confirm the story? It happened even when I had seen something with my own eyes. And an official source meant an Israeli source. It felt almost as if the Israeli government and army had to give their seal of approval before a story could be published. In fact, more than 95 per cent of the reports filed by Britain’s distinguished correspondents in Jerusalem originate in stories they have seen published either by the world’s two main news agencies, Reuters and Associated Press, or in the local Israeli media. Exclusives are almost unheard of. The correspondent’s main job is to rewrite the agency copy by adding his own “angle” – usually a minor matter of emphasis in the first paragraphs or an addition of a few quotes from an official contact. This reliance on the wires is in itself a very effective way of filtering out news that challenges dominant interests. The agencies, dependent for survival on funding from the large media groups, are extremely deferential to the main Western power elites and their allies. This is for two chief reasons: first, large media owners like the Murdoch empire might pull out of the arrangement, or even set up their own rival agency, were Reuters or AP regularly to run stories damaging to their business interests; and second, the agencies, needing to provide reams of copy each day, rely primarily on official sources for their information. The minnow in the battle between the agencies is AFP, the French news agency. And much like the Advertiser in its golden days, AFP needs to beat the Reuters-AP cartel by finding other readers / buyers for its wire service. It does this by trying to provide a limited supply of alternative news, especially of what are called “human interest” stories. In the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict this sometimes translates into sympathetic reports of Palestinian suffering at the hands of the Israeli army or the Jewish settlers, stories hard to find in Reuters or AP. Not surprisingly, the media in countries that do not subscribe to the Western corporate view of world affairs are the main subscribers to AFP. The main other source of information, the Israeli media, reinforces the coverage trends of the big agencies. Israeli newspapers are subject to all the usual institutional constraints we have considered in the case of the evening paper in Southampton. But they also reflect the dominant values of a highly ideological and mobilised society. The British media’s reliance on partisan Israeli news gatherers for information severely undermines their own claims to objectivity and neutrality. Being a foreign correspondent in Israel, it should be underlined, is no different from being one anywhere else in the world. The same issues apply. The inadmissibility of many important details of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – especially when they concern the weaker, Palestinian side – is not confined to news reports. Even the opinion pages of newspapers are closed off to the full spectrum of human, mainly Palestinian, experience and relevant political context, as I have repeatedly discovered. Through personal contacts and fortuitous circumstances, I managed in the early stages of the second intifada to publish several commentaries in the International Herald Tribune. All were critical of Israel’s behaviour in a way that is rarely seen in any American media. After a short time, Israel’s powerful lobby, realising that I had evaded the normal safeguards, moved into action. After one of my commentaries, the lobby organised the largest postbag of complaints the IHT had received in its history, as a sympathetic editor confided in me. I was forced to submit a lengthy defence of my article to counter the campaign of pressure from the lobby groups, with the IHT eventually accepting that there were no errors in my piece and refusing to publish an apology. However, they severed all links with me – another triumph for the lobby. Subsequent efforts by the main Palestinian media organisation in the US to get my commentaries published in American papers and journals have failed dismally. Even publications regarded as progressive by American standards refuse to consider my pieces. The use of institutional power to silence dissident voices is more savage and ugly in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than elsewhere, but similar obstacles face any journalist anywhere in the world who tries to break out of the narrow confines of mainstream reporting, analysis and commentary.

Lesson 6: It’s not really about readers
How is it then, if this thesis is right, that there are dissenting voices like John Pilger, Robert Fisk, George Monbiot and Seumas Milne who write in the British media while refusing to toe the line? Note that the above list pretty much exhausts the examples of writers who genuinely and consistently oppose the normal frameworks of journalistic thinking and refuse to join the herd. That means that in Britain’s supposedly leftwing media we can find one writer working for the Independent (Fisk), one for the New Statesman (Pilger) and two for the Guardian (Milne and Monbiot). Only Fisk, we should further note, writes regular news reports. The rest are given at best weekly columns in which to express their opinions. However grateful we should be to these dissident writers, their relegation to the margins of the commentary pages of Britain’s “leftwing” media serves a useful purpose for corporate interests. It helps define the “character” of the British media as provocative, pluralistic and free-thinking – when in truth they are anything but. It is a vital component in maintaining the fiction that a professional media is a diverse media. Also, by presenting these exceptional writers as straining at the very limits of the thinkable, their host newspapers subtly encourage a view of them as crackpots, armchair revolutionaries and whingers – as they often are described in the paper’s feedback columns. The case of Fisk is instructive. All the evidence is that the Independent might have folded were it not for his inclusion in the news and comment pages. Fisk appears to be one of the main reasons people buy the Independent. When, for example, the editors realised that most of the hits on the paper’s website were for Fisk’s articles, they made his pieces accessible only by paying a subscription fee. In response people simply stopped visiting the site, forcing the Independent to restore free access to his stories. It is also probable that the other writers cited above are among the chief reasons readers choose the publications that host them. It is at least possible that, were more such writers allowed on their pages, these papers would grow in popularity. We are never likely to see the hypothesis tested because the so-called leftwing media appear to be in no hurry to take on more dissenting voices. Finally, it should also be noted that none of these admirable writers – with the exception of Pilger – choose or are allowed to write seriously about the dire state of the mainstream media they serve. Sadly, it seems self-evident that were they to do so they would quickly find their employment terminated. We are fortunate to have their incisive analyses of some of the most important events of our era. Nonetheless it is vital to acknowledge that even they cannot speak out on an issue that is fundamental to the health of our democracy. How then do I dare write as I have done here? Simply because I have little to lose. The mainstream media spat me out some time ago. Were it otherwise, I would probably be keeping my silence too.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Big Brother, The Big Picture
Here is David Icke in his recent talk from July 6th 2008, called "Big Brother, the Big Picture". David Icke speaks to the constituents of Haltemprice and Howden about the 'Big Brother' election, forced by the resignation of David Davis, and the move towards the global Big Brother enslavement we are all facing. It's almost 3 hours long and worth every minute. Give him a listen and learn. He talks without any script or notes, just free flow streaming consciousness, with great energy and passion to speak about what we all need to look at in this day and age. Open your mind to these concepts. You will find a familliaraty in these ideas that may be disturbing, that youll see how these structures resonate even in our own demoratic systems on this tiny far away haven. Remember, we are still part of the common wealth... Source - Escape The Illusion

"Condemnation without investigation is the highest form of Ignorance"
- Albert Einstein -

National flirting with hate

'Life for life' plan sparks call for death
National's hardline stance on our most serious criminals has sparked calls to go even further and bring back the death penalty for "animal" offenders. The National Party, which has a trend of making law and order a hot political topic during election campaigns, yesterday announced plans to put the worst offenders behind bars for life. A deluge of comments was posted on The Dominion Post's election website, Vote '08, with many people arguing that the toughest sentence should be imposed on serious offenders. "I would like to see our government reintroduce the death penalty. It's simply not good enough locking the grossest offenders up for life in some cushy cell with underfloor heating and widescreen television. The most serious crimes should carry the highest price ticket," one said.

When you flirt with hate over reason on social policy you touch off those dark parts of human beings, look at the above comment from one of our dear NZers, look at how deranged their view of the prison system is – ”cushy cell with underfloor heating and widescreen television” both of those issues, underfloor heating and flatscreen TVs were issues Simon Powers whipped up in to a foamy hate, when you flirt with hate as social policy, when you lick the nipples of ignorance, when you gently caress fear and suck anger the way National have, the reaction and demands of the hateful, ignorant, fearful and angry lurch to demanding the death penalty. Just as with Don Brash’s “Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaori get too much”, National have fine tuned their Crosby and Texter message to escape the garden variety racism card by attacking a group almost as universally disliked as Maaaaaaaaaaori, and that’s prisoners, which is easy as a lot of those prisoners happen to be Maaaaaaaaori as well. True political leadership is not giving into the hateful and the angry and the ignorant and the fearful, true political leadership conquers the lesser angels of our nature and makes us go beyond fear, National have never done that.

Dude, who stole my economy?

Cullen rains on Key's parade
National leader John Key expects to announce a programme of tax cuts tomorrow despite the Treasury's pre-election report that shows the economic forecasts to be worse than the most pessimistic predictions. Budget deficits of billions of dollars are predicted for the next 10 years - a far cry from the surpluses Finance Minister Michael Cullen has run for nine years. Public debt is tipped to spiral higher as the weak domestic economy gets further buffeted by a growing international financial crisis.

OUCH! How is unregulated global capitalism where the greedy who decry Government intervention any other day of the week get bailed out by taxpayer dollars going for ya? We all feeling snug are we? Look at the hit, Unemployment up over 5%, growth down to.1%, housing bubble helped created by no capital gains tax pops down 10-25% and a budget deficit of $6 Billion , hey we’re all having a grand ole time with unregulated global capitalism folks, so why stop the party? Why stop the party indeed, National release their much awaited tax policy tomorrow and if National Party Svengali Matthew Hooten has anything to do with it, the solution to our pain will be much larger borrowing, that’s right we have about 22% debt to GDP (it was 60% under Ruth Richardson), Mat was arguing in the Sunday Star5 Times that Key shouldn’t cut back but should indeed borrow a lot more to pay for his crony capitalism corporate welfare via Public Private Partnership ‘infrastructure’ policy and of course Tax cuts. What if John comes out with an even larger tax cut policy arguing ‘now is the time to give more back to NZers while the Government shoulders the extra debt while building you more ‘infrastructure’ contracts that we’ll give our mates in the corporate world”, with the concerns over the economy would anyone notice the possible downstream ramifications of this? Would National go there?