BIG NEWS: 01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010

Sunday, January 31, 2010

How Bizarre

Pauly Fuemana, who sung " How Bizarre" died this morning., aged 40. It's the second death in the family in recent years. His older brother Phil, also a musician, died in 2005 aged 41 of a heart attack.
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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Voting in Ohariu-Belmont

Peter Dunne is the MP for Ohariu-Belmont. Has been for more than 20 years. In 2005, Heather Roy also stood for the electorate, missed out and got into Parliament through the coat-tails of Rodney Hide. In 2008 she changed electorates but as of today three other candidates who contested the electorate in 2008 are in Parliament. They are Charles Chauvel, Katrina Shanks, who won the party vote in the electorate, - and now new Green Party MP Gareth Hughes. Should Roy contest Ohariu-Belmont in 2011, and Hide was to win his seat, the eight candidates standing for Ohariu-Belmont would have a 50 percent chance of becoming a MP, purely due to where they were placed on the party list.
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The "ordinary New Zealander"

The term "ordinary New Zealander" has been used a bit by Labour politicians lately. Phil Goff has been using it for years. It reminds me when National was using the term "mainstream" New Zealanders, except Don Brash said that excluded homosexuals.

Goff has not defined what an ordinary New Zealander is. I assume it includes Maori, homosexuals and Michael Laws. Probably doesn't include Hine Elder or Clayton Weatherston. But it may well include the Exclusive Brethren leaders.

There are two classes of ordinary New Zealanders. Those who Labour thinks need state assistance and those who don't. Those who do are referred to by Goff as ordinary low and middle income New Zealanders.

Ordinary New Zealanders, according to Goff, are those who pay ACC levies and gets less and less in return. This week, Goff implies that the relationship between Labour and Ratana is working for the ordinary person, and expects Labour to be forming policy for ordinary New Zealanders. He says "I expect our people to be out there working hard on behalf of ordinary New Zealanders, doing their job as spokespeople and starting to develop their policy alternatives."

At Ratana, Goff said
Too often ordinary working families have to carry the burden for others who do not pay their taxes and meet their responsibilities
Perhaps Goff was thinking of those of us who can save, who are well off -but put money in trusts and get more WFF payments, while those who can't save rely on the WFF payments as their incomes are too low.

And again today, Goff said.
Labour would be working hard "alongside ordinary New Zealanders" to ensure they would get their fair share out of the recovery and the likely tax changes
So what is an ordinary New Zealander?

For Ruth Dyson ordinary New Zealanders are overweight people who should be getting funding for stomach stapling operations.

However, National has a different view of what is an " ordinary New Zealander'
“For ordinary New Zealanders, we’re particularly keen to ensure that our tax system rewards effort, encourages savings and helps families to get ahead.
I wonder what proportion of ordinary New Zealanders have enough income (after paying taxes the mortgage and bills) to actually save. Perhaps the kind of ordinary New Zealanders that vote National, put their savings into a trust and collect Labour's WFF payments that are targeted at ordinary low and middle income New Zealanders.

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Ratana wants four Labour list seats

In the 1940's the Ratana Church had four seats in parliament. All we aligned to Labour, all were Maori seats, all its representatives joined the Labor caucus. Most of them didn't do much, a bit like some of the unionists that have got list seats in recent years. Some, like Matiu Rata, joined Labour and became more effective.

Now that the Maori Party has most of the Maori seats, the church knows it cannot win most of the Maori seats: to do so would mean it would have more Maori seats than the Maori Party. It knows it can't get any Maori seats off Labour. So the church has publicly asked Labour for four safe list seats to be aligned to Labour in parliament. The Maori Party has never had a list seat. If the Catholic or Presbyterian Church made such a request, they'd be laughed at.

It was a strange request, particularly as Ratana Church Minister Joe Everett earlier told John Key "In the short time that you have been in power you've done so much more than what others have done for the ... Maori people."

Ratana should take its support elsewhere. Most if it already is.Its current leader supports Labour but many of those in the church, particularly the younger ones, support the Maori Party.

Phil Goff's Ratana speech is here Ratana is no longer relevant as a political force.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Three strikes law

I have one of my answers on the three strikes law if professor Greg Newbold is correct.
An offender who committed two assaults and a murder - in that order - would be locked up for life, because the maximum sentence for murder was life imprisonment.

But the new law would mean that someone who committed murder and then two assaults would only serve the maximum penalty for assault, a sentence length that varies depending on the attack and not a life sentence.

If you're doing life without parole, why wouldn't you kill a prison officer? What's to stop you? What would you lose by killing a prison officer?"
If this is correct, the message for criminals is this: Make sure you do your worst crimes first. The message for prison guards is this: be wary of those who do their crimes in the other order.

The Herald has also said that this law is backed up by empirical evidence from the US which found that homicide rates increased in cities with "three strikes" laws when compared with those without such laws. Yet in some of these states, these "strikes" are for minor offences, like shoplifting, quite different to what is being proposed here.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The easiest way to set up a blog

So, you read blogs. You'd like to set up your own blog. Or you have a blog and you want to migrate it or back it up. Check out Posterous.com It is now as easy as sending an e-mail.

Here's how it works. You write your blog post. You send it (hotmail or g-mail) to post@posterous.com and hey presto, you have a blog. You can then change the e-mail address you want posts sent from, add another blog, and if you want to syndicate to Facebook or Twitter you can do that, too. You can also group blog; you register members who simply send posts to an e-mail you provide. You can also post videos and pix as well. If you don't like your post, just delete it and e-mail another one over.

It's that simple.[ h/t jonny.baker.]

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Three strikes is back

Simon Power is the Minister of Justice and is fronting the sentencing and Parole reform bill. Today, three Ministers - Rodney Hide, John Key and Judith Collins - announced that the government had reached agreement on a three-strikes policy that will ensure the worst repeat criminals receive the maximum allowable sentence.

So why didn't Simon Power contribute to making that announcement, given that this agreement is going to be incorporated into his bill?

The three strikes aspect to the bill means repeat serious offenders get the maximum allowable sentence, meaning more people will be behind bars for longer. I`m not sure what exactly counts as a strike, in terms of sentencing - what if your third strike was an historic crime done before your first strike? What if your second strike was overturned and your are in jail for your third strike -does your sentence get reduced, or do you get compensation? I'm not allowed to have a say on that at select committee as I didn't do a submission to the initial bill.

The two Ministers of the Maori Party are unhappy and have introduced a new term that should get wide usage: "hide-bound". The party says the proposed 'three strikes legislation shows the government is hide-bound by political rhetoric on crime and punishment that has no factual basis.

The problem with the process of these changes is that only the people who have made submissions to the select committee on this bill will be given the opportunity to make submissions on this new aspect of the bill, a limited subset of "the public" as stated in the government's media release.

Given that National's confidence and supply agreement with Act meant that Acts "three strikes " policy was to get a fair hearing at select committee, perhaps these latest proposals should have been in the original bill before submissions were called for.

The select committee is due to report in March.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Making a police complaint: Safer communities together.

I attempted to make a minor complaint to the police today. I don't often complain. I can't think of a time when I last did.

So I looked at the police website to see how to make a complaint. It said to ring or go to your nearest police station. Nobody was at my nearest police station so I rang another one. They said I had to go and make a complaint and speak to a person in a certain section of the police in person. When I informed this young boy that he was in the section that he told me to go and see, he said, I still had to come down, even though the police website said I could make a complaint over the phone.. He then asked if anyone's life was in danger. I then said that I didn't think anyone's life was in danger (actually it is near impossible for anyone's life to be in danger for such a complaint) and I asked why the question was asked, and if that would make a difference as to whether I could lay a complaint.He said " Well the Mungrel (sic) Mob could be after him or something".

After that response, I wondered why I bothered to try and make the complaint in the first place. Next time I'll ring the Mongrel Mob.
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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Quote of the week

Labour MP Kelvin Davis, commenting about Hone Harawira's comments about raping and pillaging of land, and his purported views that a repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed legislation will assist in solving problems.
We are generally dumber, sicker, poorer, more pissed, drugged and pregnant than any other group of people in New Zealand. We know the problem, but what's the solution? Well let's repeal the Foreshore and Seabed and put the F&S into Maori title. We can be dumber, sicker, poorer, more pissed, drugged and pregnant at the beach. That'll make all the difference.
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Has the Herald on Sunday breached name suppression?

Just got back from a week offline, and am still catching up with the news slowly. But from reading the Dom Post while I was away I learned that Cameron Slater ( who is extremely happy that he had 54,000 unique page views on his blog the other day) has been posting, in binary code on his blog, the name of a former MP who is up on charges of indecently assaulting a 13-year-old girl.

Now, I don't know much about binary code, so I quickly found out by other means who this person was, and then saw an article in the Herald from Carolyne Meng-Yee, who loves to write about celebrities - and I`d be surprised if she understands most of the laws surrounding suppression. From that article I could narrow this man's name down to two possibilities. He is a former MP, has a partner, he is not the father of the girl, and is a " thoroughly decent bloke". The girl's mother is this former MP's partner. But it was another sentence in that article that narrowed it down somewhat for me.

The Herald On Sunday has arguably published information that has led to the identity of the alleged offender, as it led with the man's former occupation with the implication that he has links to more than one political party. The article is also in a more accessible form than Slater's. In addition, another article on the same website the same week provided another piece to the jigsaw, which narrowed it down to one.

If a blogger provides clues that breach name suppression on one post, is that any worse than an online newspaper doing the same thing, but on different articles on different days? Particularly if both articles are available on the one page. Whatever, even if Slater posts clues to the multiple people who have suppression, as he has done, the Solicitor -General has said that he is not in contempt of court.

John Key has waded into the debate saying that Slater is not allowed to break a law he disagrees with. But the PM himself has advocated that it is fine to break the law if you want to smack your kids, whether you agree with the law or not.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Name suppression blogger back from court

Cameron Slater is feeling pretty pleased with himself. Just after Christmas he told me that he got 20,000 hits on his blog on Christmas Day - just after he got served with the summons. Today he was in court as he was alleged to have broken name suppression on his blog. He was always going to defend the charges, and he`ll be doing that on 14 January. An interesting part of his defence appears to be that the Law Commission has recommended that the sections that Slater is to be charged with should be repealed.

Some have commented on the recent high-profile name suppressions with reference to the Entertainer (who is a musician), the Comedian, who is not very funny and appeared in court the same day as Slater on sex charges; and the Olympian, who Slater identified on his blog.

So the Blogger is in court on the same day as the Comedian, for veiled attempts to out the Entertainer and the Olympian, but did not out the Comedian, who is not really a comedian at all. The Entertainer is actually a Musician, and the Olympian is a well known Criminal. But now the Entertainer is also a well -known as a Criminal, being the Musician that the Blogger has identified. Now the Blogger may well end up fined, but not for outing the Comedian, but for outing the other two who are convicted Criminals. So the only two who are not convicted Criminals to date are the very two people who appeared in court the same day: the Blogger and the Comedian he did not identify.

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Was Foster even entitled to an advance?

Graham Foster's story in the Sunday Star Timesdoesn't tell the full story. He was refused a Work and Income grant to pay for a $50 pullover and a $140 pair of shoes. Instead he got an advance for the amount which he has to pay back at $3.00 per week. Any advances are supposed to be paid back within a 52 week period. But not this one. Still, Foster spent two years fighting the government through the courts, costing the taxpayer tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

The Benefit Review Committee decision of 2008 appears to be here, and was itself appealed. (The Court of Appeal's recent decision is here). Foster wanted a lump sum non recoverable payment and reviewed a decision to advance the payment. His excuse for applying for these items was that his old jersey had a hole in it and as he sometimes suffered from mild bronchitis he didn't want to catch a chill. He said he needed to wear specially constructed inner soles and good quality shoes and he said he needed to purchase Hush Puppy shoes " that better fitted the odd contours of my feet".

His budget indicated a deficiency of income over expenditure of $49.98 per week - and budgeted more than $87 a week on food . That's in 2008. We have four in our family and don't even spend double that each week. He also brought the Listener each week instead of reading it at the library for free. Although he wanted free shoes, the Social Security Appeal Authority noted that there is no specific provision in the Special Needs Grant programme for shoes. As Foster admitted that the items were needed due to to wear and tear, this was not an "emergency" as it was not unforseen. Clothes are expected to wear out, eventually. The authority said:
We are surprised to note that the appellant spends [$30 - inserted] per week on communication, apparently for cellphone, internet and fixed line charges. This seems particularly high for someone sharing accommodation. The appellant has not explained what his need for a cellphone might be. An allowance of $15.00 per week ought to be sufficient for telecommunications. We also have questions about the appellant's allowance for transport, optometrist and newspapers. It is surprising that the appellant can afford to buy the Listener and pay for an internet connection but cannot budget for [shoes]. We are not convinced that the appellant has a deficiency in his budget of $49.98 per week. We accept that the appellant's budget is tight but we consider that the appellant could have been expected to make provision for [shoes] in his budget.We are not satisfied on the basis of the evidence available that an emergency situation existed in this instance
But they did think it was fine for him to get an advance payment, even though he was able to make provision for it. In other words, the Committee considered that as Foster had an "immediate and essential need" he should be given a loan for the shoes and jersey, even though no emergency situation existed, and WINZ had no idea if he needed them because they apparently didn't ask if he had other jerseys and shoes he could wear.

So how did they know that Foster had an immediate and essential need?

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