BIG NEWS: 12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Woman named as journalist Helen Bain

The name of the woman who was swept away in a Wairarapa river while riding her horse is out now, and it is journalist Helen Bain. Bain worked at Parliament, was an award winning journo at the Dominion, and was the communications manger for Forest and Bird. She was well-known and someone who I held in extremely high regard.

Bain wrote some great stories. She even got John Tamihere (her former boss) on record opposing the Foreshore and Seabed legislation. That annoyed Helen Clark so much that Mike Munro(Helen Clark's Press secretary) immediately issued a media statement retracting the comments.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ahmed and Jane Hussein are thrilled to announce the arrival of their son Al Qaeda

Who on Earth - well in Masterton anyway - would be nutty enough to name their kid Al Qaeda?
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Name suppression breacher off to court

A blogger is off to court for breach of name suppression on 5 January, the same day a certain comedian, who has his name suppressed, faces sexual assault charges. I wonder if they`ll exchange pleasantries - and I wonder if the blogger will ask for name suppression :-).

The blogger has also been asked to take the offending images off his website to prevent a 'continuing offence'. If convicted he could be fined up to $1,000.

Another blogger has identified this blogger in his own blog by identifying the recipient of the court summons. In doing so he has provided a link enabling people to find the identity of the unnamed offender.

Two questions:

Why has the blogger removed the images, after sending out a media release saying that he wouldn't? The offending images are still available on the cache as I write.

Why didn't the police press charges when he breached suppression in the same way the first time?

update Probably won't get name suppression then. I have been advised that he will be pleading not guilty on all counts - including two of three breaches of suppression on his blog, one of which remains.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Police attacks

Judith Collins has been thinking aloud. She wonders whether people who are convicted of attacks on police should be given harsher sentences as such attacks are attacks on the rule of law. On that reasoning, attacks by the rule of law - police officers who rape people while on duty, or offer sexual favours in lieu of issuing fines, or who drive home drunk in their police cars or beat up people while arresting them - should also be given harsher sentences. I wonder if the Police Minister would likewise agree and tell journalists.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lord Monckton interviews Greenpeace activist on global warming

This is a classic. From the streets of Copenhagen. Here's a sample:
MONCKTON: In the last 10 years, how much has the global temperature gone up?
ACTIVIST: 0.7 degrees.
MONCKTON: In the last 10 years?
ACTIVIST: No, not in the last 10 years but in 20…
MONCKTON: But I’m asking you about the last 10 years.
ACTIVIST: Uhm, well, I will just have to guess. I would say, uhm… 0.1 degree…
MONCKTON: Right. It has actually gone down very slightly. About 0.05 degrees. It has gone down for 10 years. In fact it hasn’t increased statistically significantly, for the last 15 years, out of the 20 years you were talking about.
ACTIVIST: May I ask you a question? How do you know that?
MONCKTON: Because I take the data from the satellite and I then plot what is called the least squared linear regression trend…

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Archdeacon falls for the fourth time

Gee, its like Stations of the Cross on drugs.

Auckland Anglican Archdeacon Glynn Cardy, who erected that notorious billboard in Auckland, with the assistance of Saatchi and Saatchi, has changed his story for the fourth time. Just to recap:

Story one: The billboard was erected to inspire people to talk about the Christmas story.

Story two: It was erected to provoke conversation about spiritual matters by lampooning the literal Christian conception story.

Story three: It was set up to oppose fundamentalist beliefs that the virgin birth never really happened.

Story four: it is now about opposing what Cardy calls fundamental beliefs, that the fundamentalists don't actually believe. In other words he is criticising beliefs that don't actually exist in Christendom. Cardy wanted to question the belief that a male God sent down sperm so a child would be born. But Christians don't believe that any sperm was actually sent down. So all of a sudden its not a spiritual matter.

Furthermore, Cardy reported the attack on the billboard the the police, saying they'd press charges if he was caught. A person was arrested for the second attack but was not charged as Cardy didn't want to press charges.

Glynn Cardy is a class A dickhead for failing to keep his story straight. And given the company he keeps, and the fact he has admitted to a higher belief in Santa on the sleigh than the God of the bible, it's no wonder he can't keep his story straight.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Prominent entertainer, comedian, and name suppression

A comedian has been charged with child abuse. He denies the allegation but will "fight to clear his name".

What name, you ask?

Exactly. That name is suppressed. We may not be allowed to know if his name will even be cleared after the fight.

So far, Jeremy Ellwood, Jeremy Corbett,Mike King,Ewen Gilmour, Michelle A'Court, Dai Henwood, and Oscar Kightley have each publicly said it is not them.Rhys Darby has no daughters.

As usual, the breach of suppression is publicly available on the Internet. So go look there. Not here.

Update: something I didn't mention, this suppression is not a decision that the judge made, it was a decision that parliament made to protect the victim, who happens to be the man's daughter.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

The billboard - changing the story

Over the past few days it has been apparent why St Matthews in the City, an Anglican Church, erected a billboard in Auckland depicting a sad Joseph and his wife Mary in bed. It was not to inspire people to talk about the Christmas story, as initially claimed. Nor was it to provoke conversation about spiritual matters by lampooning the literal Christian conception story, as claimed later when fellow clergy disapproved.

The real reason why the billboard was erected was to slag off the idea of a male god impregnating Mary, and to deny the literalism of the virgin birth at Christmas.

In other words it was there purely to express a particular church's viewpoint( via an attack on opposing fundamentalist viewpoints) that the virgin birth never really happened and a belief that it is a fantasy story, with the consequent implication that Jesus was not sinless.

These guys call themselves progressive Christians - but it is not so clear what they are progressing to, or whether they are reactionary Christians who react to literal orthodoxy. Promoting beliefs that some Christians would describe as heretic is hardly going to inspire people to speak about the Christmas story,

the virgin birth story, or any other story save the story that this church is merely looking to create a story to get publicity. The atheist bus campaign is a much better campaign, in terms of getting people to talk about God matters, and some of these idiot Christians can learn a thing or two from the so-called atheists on how to publicise minority opinions.

The billboard has now gone down. Perhaps it will be replaced by this one. Can anyone let me know if so.

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So, what would happen?

Referring to this story, what would happen if Rodney Hide was to resign from Parliament, and Winston Peters was to win the subsequent by-election as NZ First leader?

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Should a non binding referendum that asks if legislation on non binding referenda should be changed to binding referenda, be treated as binding in a non binding referendum?

Larry Baldock has had his petition question amended and approved. The question is : should Parliament be required to pass legislation that implements the majority result of a citizens initiated referendum where that result supports a law change? And the answer to that question should be No.

Who decides whether the result supports a law change, and who decides on what form the legislation is to take? Not citizens that initiate referenda. In addition, Baldock doesn't even get to decide whether his referenda, if successful, is enacted, as his petition, if it progresses to a referenda, will be a non binding referenda that asks if non binding referenda should be binding - and it is the government who gets to decide that one, not parliament. So this petition is actually directed at the government.

Had this referendum been enacted with a Yes vote, and in place before the smacking referendum, the Government could easily say that the question asked did not "support a law change".

But Larry Baldock is happy
I am very pleased that the object of the Question is Parliament and not the Government."That is because it was Parliament and not the Government that passed the Anti-smacking law, as it was a member’s bill.
A members bill had nothing to do with it. Parliament passes all legislation, not the Government.

If only 20% of the population bother to vote in a referendum, why should that be binding on parliament? I note that two years ago, a similar question regarding making citizens initiated referenda binding was approved by the clerk, but that question was quickly withdrawn.

If Baldock is successful, imagine what he would say if 40% voted in a CIR supporting, say gay marriage, or opposing home schooling.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Identity politics v class politics

One of New Zealand's best political blogs, Liberation, is running a series examining the controversy of Goff’s ‘Nationhood’ speech, attempting to show how the speech and resulting controversy can best be understood within the conceptual framework of ‘identity politics versus class politics’. It argues that to understand what’s going on in the Labour Party, what Goff has recently pushed for, and indeed what’s happened to the Green Party, is not a case of social liberalism versus social conservatism; nor is it left versus right; but instead it’s liberalism versus leftism – or simply: identity politics versus class politics.

Keep an eye out for it.
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Maori disagree over Maori flag

updated
Pita Sharples and John Key have announced that the tino rangitiratanga flag will fly over the Auckland Harbour bridge on Waitangi Day next year, at Parliament and at Premier House. But the chairman of the Waitangi Trust Board, Pita Paraone is not so sure that the decision is a good one and doesn't appear to want to fly it at Waitangi on Waitangi Day. Apparently the flag is linked with the Maori Party too much and Paraone (and Shane Jones and a few others) would like to see the United Tribes flag flown,I guess.

I find it ironic that Paraone is the chairman of the Waitangi Trust Board. This trust offers Treaty of Waitangi workshops. This includes workshops on the relevance of the principles of the Treaty, their practical applications, and how they can be applied today.

Yet Paraone, a former NZ First MP, was a key figure behind NZ First's unsuccessful attempt to delete the principles of the Treaty from all legislation - including the Treaty of Waitangi Act, in 2006. In fact the party, in its 2005 confidence and supply agreement with Labour, had a clause that forced Labour to vote for the first reading of the bill and send it to select committee -and Pita Paraone, as a board member of the Waitangi Trust Board at the time, supported taking out all references to the principles of the Treaty in legislation, while Trust conducted seminars on the practical relevance of leaving these principles in legislation - and nobody in the House bothered to point that out at the time.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Government's new PR campaign targeting jobless couples



Make your own here
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Goff appears happy with electoral suicide

Well, Goff got his bounce in the polls he was looking for when he did his Nationhood speech. The problem though, is he doesn't know if it was because of the Nationhood speech or because of a National dip consequent to passing the the ETS, and announcements on ACC.

Labour is still only on 30.8% with Goff on 8% as preferred Prime Minister. Goff appears happy, even though the shift is within the margin of error.
I’m finally getting the chance to get around, to talk to more New Zealanders, to meet more New Zealanders, and speak out on their behalf
I wonder how many of these people are Maori. If Goff wants another rise in the polls - but at the expense of Maori, it won't do him any good, as he won't be able to form a government if he is going to alienate the Maori Party. It's not just time to go back to the drawing board for Labour - its time to get a new drawing board and another person to hold the pencil. Only then will Labour have a substantive rise in the polls when the Nats dont make mistakes.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Another blogger breaches name suppression

A New Zealand Olympian accused of sex and violence offences that include raping his wife will have his name suppressed at least until the New Year. Trouble is that one blogger has revealed his name by posting some images identifying the persons name, but the file name of the name of the images meant that there was no deciphering to do. Although the file name has been changed, there is a link to a site that reveals this person's name, meaning that the victim is also identified.

This is breaking suppression. It can also be argued that it is a contempt of court. The blogger has also put out a media release, and is available online. I would have thought that posting this release online is also a breach of suppression as it identifies the name of the blogger and his blog, leading to the suppressed name.

Additionally, naming the man's lawyer now leads to the man's identity, so I can't even do that.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Whānau ora? Don't ask me

The Families Commission, in its statement of intent, notes:
The Commission has also identified in this Statement of Intent a strong commitment to whānau ora. This will include the development of a whänau strategy that can work in two ways: identifying areas of specific work to promote whānau ora; and identifying how whānau ora can be incorporated into existing outcome programmes.
So what is whānau ora? According to Chief Families Commissioner Jan Pryor, it is "whanau well-being as defined by whanau". You'd think she would know, the komihana a whanau (or as Pryor would say, the Families Commission) has a paper on the issue.

According to the whanau ora taskforce, it is more about a whānau-centred approach to whānau development, focussing on placing whānau at the centre of service delivery, bringing together funding from several Ministries - health, education, housing, social welfare, and justice.

But Pryor doesn't even know what this commitment to whanau ora actually entails. Her excuse for her ignorance with this aspect of the commission's statement of intent was that she is a middle class white woman who, apparently, is not well versed in terms like whanau ora - and has forgotten the wording of the commission's own statement of intent.

If she doesn't know what whanau ora is, how is she going to understand the framework which is entitled "a whanau -centred approach to whanau well-being". That's a little different to "whanau well-being as defined by whanau".

Pryor says she is working closely with the Minister, Tariana Turia on the policy. Not close enough, as she has not the slightest idea what the Minister’s policy actually means.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

All state integrated schools must obey the law

Last night, Campbell Live had a story about a girl that got kicked out of school because she had a baby, while her boyfriend, whom she is engaged to, was defrocked from his position as 2010 deputy head boy.

The school, Evangelical Rangiora New Life School, is a christian school, and has certain beliefs about sex, swearing, alcohol and the like. But it is also a state-integrated school, and receives the same Government funding for each student as state schools but their buildings and land are privately owned so they charge attendance dues to meet their property costs.

The schools handbook has no mention of policies on sex, although swearing and alcohol are forbidden in school grounds, as are piercings for males. As No Right Turn correctly states the school has can discriminate on the basis of religious belief, but not on the basis of family status.

But it is unclear whether the school is discriminating on the basis of family status, or whether they are discriminating on the basis that certain views on sex before marriage conflict with religious beliefs, therefore condoning such discrimination, as the school won't talk to the media. Whatever, the law is clear. The schools board can't be punitive and expel kids and because their christian principles do not agree with kids having sex.

Although the school won't want to be dictated to, it should be told in no uncertain terms what its legal obligations are under the Bill of Rights. To address the legal breach, it should welcome the expelled student back to school and reinstate the boy as the deputy head for 2010. Given that the school board of trustees apparently knew that the boy was about to be a father when they discussed his selection as deputy head boy, it may well explain its christian principles in its sudden U-turn with no additional information.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Does CYFS think a smack is abuse?

CYFS working definition of abuse is:
an act or act that results in inflicted injury to a child or young person.
It may include, but is not restricted to bruises and welts, cuts and abrasions, fractures or sprains, head, abdominal or internal organ injuries, strangulation or suffocation, poisoning, burns or scalds.

The statutory definition of abuse is :
The harming (whether physically, emotionally, or sexually), ill-treatment, abuse, neglect, or deprivation of any child or young person
This means that legislation considers abuse as harm, whereas CYFS working definition states " inflicted injury", and goes on to say in the latest smacking report that CYFS does not believe that smacking constitutes physical abuse, whereas the Office of the Children's Commissioner does.

But a light smack can cause harm, because it hurts. If it doesn't hurt, why smack? An inflicted injury is something more than just harm. No wonder social workers don't know whether a smack constitutes abuse. CYFS management are giving mixed messages, telling their staff that a smack is abusive, but telling the public that it is not.

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CYFS takes kids to show with swearing and sexual references

CYFS took a group of foster parents and 140 kids, the youngest who was six, to a Christmas show at Downstage Theatre. The show had repeated swear words, including the the "f" word , had a reference to someone losing her virginity, and mimed an orgasm. CYF boss Ray Smith said the kids loved the show, despite the sexual references, which Downstage called moments of irreverence.
I watched some of the little faces during the course of the show and the little kids were on the edge of their seats wondering if the wonderful acrobats were going to fall off their chairs and poles.
And when they were going to orgasm next. David Farrar describes the show as funny, cheeky, a bit sensual, and very manic.

I guess that because "some of the little faces" enjoyed it, that makes it alright. CYFS bosses didn't have to answer the questions on orgasms when these little faces got home. And if the kids tell their caregivers to "f off", you know what CYFS will do if they get a smack for doing so.

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Santa's ministerial elf

I was at the local Christmas parade with the kids today and spotted this:A great example of a constituent MP getting involved in the local community. He was Santa's elf, with very cool green boots. If you want to see a bigger image,click on the current one. Those boots... update The DomPost's pic is here

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Friday, December 04, 2009

R v Internet II: Trying so hard not to break name suppression

Yesterday at the R v Internet seminar, blogger David Farrar identified the entertainer whose name is suppressed. Crown Law Office was at the front table.

But David is the only blogger I know of who has unwittingly broken name suppression on two successive days. Earlier today he posted a blog post detailing how he broke name suppression. He posted a screen shot of the man's Facebook page (with several parts hidden from public view) on his blog. Unwittingly, he forgot to delete the Facebook title bar on the screenshot that showed the name of the entertainer. I also recognised the entertainer by the pic that was shown on the Facebook page he posted- but then I knew who he was.

However, there was another identifying factor that David forgot about. The man's Facebook page was searchable through identifying information in a comment on that Facebook page that could be cut and pasted into Google.

Oops.

I say this not to bag David, because I know he is sincere in addressing issues around suppression and contempt, and has spend a lot of time doing so and creating awareness of the situation online - and lawyers need to hear what he has to say. It is simply to illustrate how difficult it is to discuss suppression issues online and how toothless such laws are when you do. Showing an appropriately blanked out screen shot of a Facebook page at a seminar is fine but doing the same thing online - with further restrictions - can man that people can cut and paste certain words on that Facebook page that lead to the artists identification. Kiwiblog is a widely read blog, and now the screenshot of the artists page has been deleted from Kiwiblog.

I would be breaching suppression even blogging this myself earlier , so I have refrained from posting this post until David amended his blog page again. The Facebook page had no less than 17 strategically placed boxes blanking out information, but it still wasn't enough. The actual page is was here and also reveals that Tau Henare is a fan of snickers. Did you know that?

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

R v Internet - or was it journos v lawyers, and where is the horse?

I was at the R v Internet seminar today. It appears journalists and internet people were outnumbered by legal people and public servants.

It was an interesting forum, with everyone recognising that the Internet makes name suppression of celebrities redundant, and can threaten an accused's right to a fair trial. Some such as Victoria University Professor Tony Smith, considered that many problems were to do with the unregulated blogosphere. Steven Price, himself a blogger, as well as a university lecturer with legal and journalism credentials, was more realistic about what to do when suppression is breached. In short, the genie is out of the bottle, the horse has bolted, and there's nothing you can do. However, judges should direct juries to enable fair trials by advising that information "out there" may not be reliable.

Deputy Law Commissioner Warren Young, in talking about the recent Law Commission report, Suppressing Names and Evidence [PDF] explained how the Commission wants to tighten laws around suppression, particularly those of celebrities. Young did not consider the " horse had bolted", and made an analogy between suppression and shoplifting. Namely the fact that while lots of people know the name of a certain celebrity does not mean that suppression should be done away with just as many people who shoplift does not mean that shoplifting should be decriminalised. Yet there's a distinction: Many people consider that suppression - particularly of celebrities - should not be against the law, whereas most believe shoplifting should be illegal.

Judge David Harvey spoke in the afternoon and livened things up. He thinks the Internet can be regulated, and pointed to China as an example of regulation. But when asked about sites like Facebook and Twitter, he was out of his depth. He doesn't appear to have heard of platforms such as ping.fm where you can simultaneously post an item to Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed, blogs and other social networking sites. Rather than " the horse has bolted" he appears to think that the horse has briefly wandered out of the stable, and on a leash, but is unsure how long that leash is.

Canterbury University Associate Professor Ursula Cheer was very good on the legal side of suppression and contempt, but admittedly less clear on the tools of the Internet. She emphasised the truth that many legal people are not as clued up on social network programmes as they would like to or need to be, just as some bloggers and social networkers are ignorant of the law surrounding what they can and cannot publish. The former group don't think the horse has bolted - the latter think the horse bolted some time back. Bernard Hickey brought up what I thought was a good suggestion in that the two groups get together informally and discuss some of the issues raised, believing that the legal people and the technically savvy people, including online journalists, were "talking past each other". The question they should work towards agreement on is this: Where is the horse?

David Farrar also spoke. He was the only speaker who was not a journalist or a lawyer. He started off by discussing the prominent entertainer whose name was suppressed, and how he has seen the name on TradeMe, Yahoo Answers, and MSN NZ. I also found it on the front page of a certain Twitter search. As Farrar was talking about this suppression, and how angry he gets when people get away with breaching suppression on blogs, what did he do... he breached suppression to those with eagle eyes after telling everyone how he viewed the man's Facebook site. Oops. He also raised good points regarding what is actually a breach - a link to another site, a hint, a pointer to another site that the name is accessed. Many in the legal fraternity believed that nearly everyone under the age of 30 know who this person is, not so many over that age. I spoke to two law students during the lunch break, both were internet savvy, both were interested in Internet issues to do with suppression and contempt - both under 30 and both had no idea who this entertainer was.

The entire forum was videoed and will be available. You should be able to find it by googling it sometime.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Some beneficiaries to get more money to study

Those receiving the Domestic Purposes Benefit, Widow’s Benefit, Invalid’s Benefit or Emergency Maintenance Allowance will soon be able to get an extra $500 of recoverable assistance - but only if they study as nurses, doctors, midwives, vets and teachers.

Putting aside the unlikelihood of an invalids beneficiary studying as a doctor, wouldn't it be better to get the maximum allotment of food grants instead? They are not recoverable either. I wonder how many will be studying and getting the $500, and not get any food grants because they don't apply for them when finances are tight.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Green religion

Mike Moore writes that a British judge has determined that employees can take their employers to court on the grounds that they were discriminated against because of their views on climate change. The judge ruled that an employee's green views should be protected under legislation that makes it unlawful to discriminate because of someone's religious beliefs.

Does that mean if your Green beliefs are based on a Christian religion, and you are successful in court, that you get double reparation because they have discriminated on two grounds? Even if God exists and climate change doesn't.

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