Saturday, May 31, 2003

Actor Sean Penn has published another open letter in the NYT.

Who'd have thunk it, part II

(Edited version of my spleen-vent on Daily Kos):

The stupidity of the Bush administration is breathtaking. What did they think was going to happen? That the global opposition to the war would morph overnight into a willingness to send troops to keep the Iraqi people in line while Bush's cronies looted the place of its oil?

To quote the beer commercial, "yeah, right".

The countries that normally provide peacekeepers tend to do it because they have some commitment to multilateralism and to the UN. It's no surprise then that they're unwilling to put their soldiers lives on the line for a unilateralist US administration whose attitude to the UN is to ignore it unless it acts as a rubber-stamp to their hegemony.

The lesson to the US: if you want to ignore world opinion, you're going to have to clean up your own messes. And if you don't like doing that (if for example you don't like the cost in "blood and treasure" of occupying Iraq, or the thought that it's your own guys dying to keep that oil), then perhaps you should be more careful about making messes in the first place.

Fisk Catchup

'The heads that emerged were cracked, the bullets having broken open each skull'.

Still no real alternative source available, so only one of four this week.

Other kiwi blogs

While surfing around, I've discovered another Kiwi blog: KiwiPundit. Right wing, but nowhere near as Redbaiter-esque as NZPundit.

They also have a handy list of other NZ blogs - most of which seem to be run by Libertarians and ACTolytes. I've checked out Darkness, Anton Kelly and Silent Running, and it's wall-to-wall whining about taxes, guns, and why we should be sucking American cock rather than thinking for ourselves. Ah well, at least there's always Hard News...

Who'd have thunk it?

After insulting the rest of the world and dismissing their concerns as irrelevant, the US administration is now surprised that noone wants to help them occupy Iraq. Other countries have offered only 13,000 troops, when the US is looking to bring most of its 150,000 strong invasion force home.

No doubt this'll be spun to the US domestic audiance as yet another example of "foreign ingratitude" towards the country that defended them from Saddam. You know, we never thanked them for Saving The World during the Cuban missile crisis either...

And on a related note, US forces in Iraq have just suffered ther first defeat at the hands of a popular uprising, and have been driven from the town of Hit. Though "defeat" is probably too strong a word - the US forces were faced with a crowd of angry civillians, and wisely chose to withdraw rather than massacre them. Still, it doesn't bode well for the future.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Hitting the big-time

Via CalPundit: Salem Pax, the Blogger From Baghdad, is getting a column in the Guardian.

Some interesting news reports

Canada's National Post calls the American empire 'fascistic':

The American Empire is fascistic: It bypasses international law to impose its will. It uses violence to effect change. It dresses up self-interest as universal benefit.

The only difference from all previous empires, fascist and otherwise, is its degree of hypocrisy. [...]

Meanwhile, UPI reports that the Iraqis have formed a formal organised group to resist the US occupation. So much for "liberation".

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Piss-poor reasons

The day after Rumsfeld practically admitted that there were no WMDs in Iraq, his deputy Paul Wolfowitz is now trying to downplay their importance by saying that they were emphasized for "bureaucratic reasons". The same BBC article also cites him introducing another "reason":

The other factor he describes as "huge" was that an attack would allow the US to pull its troops from Saudi Arabia, thereby resolving a major grievance held by al-Qaeda.

"Just lifting that burden from the Saudis is itself going to open the door to a more peaceful Middle East," Mr Wolfowitz is quoted as saying.

I don't know about you, but I think that "needing somewhere to move your troops to" is a pretty piss-poor justification for invading another country, trashing its infrastructure and killing over 5000 civillians (not to mention an unknown number of actual soldiers). Couldn't they have simply been moved back to the US instead?

The dim dark ages

Where did that photo of Patrick Stewart with hair come from? Well, when he was much younger - twenty five years ago, in fact - he was in the BBC's adaptation of Robert Graves' I, Claudius - a historical drama covering the life of the Julio-Claudian emperors, from Augustus to Claudius. I'm watching it on DVD at the moment, though since it's over ten hours, there's a lot to wade through. So far I'm only up to the death of Augustus, so there's a long way to go yet.

The weird bit is seeing famous British actors when they were young, or in roles that are completely different from their stereotype, or with hair. Claudius is played by Derek Jacobi (probably better known to people as Brother Cadfael), and he just looks weird when he's young. Brian Blessed plays Augustus, and he's a damn sight less psychopathic than when he was King Richard IV in the original series of Blackadder. And who is Patrick Stewart? Lucius Aelius Sejanus... he's not bad as the silent psycho, but I'm waiting for a few more episodes to see if he can really carry off the air of menace I expect.

It's also weird seeing how they made television back in 1976. It comes across very stilted, as if they're filming traditional theatre.

Anyway, I've actually studied the period in question, and this seems to be pretty historically accurate. The central conceit is that Claudius - widely reported by contemporary sources as being a club-footed twitching imbecile - was playing the fool to avoid being dragged into his family's deadly politics. And given that he also wrote several books and wasn't such an idiot as Emperor (and in fact was smart enough to try and avoid being Emperor in the first place; he was dragged to the throne from his hiding place at the back of the library by the Praetorian Guard after they'd topped Caligula), this isn't exactly unsupported. The most notable flaw so far is that Augustus is cast as a putz - he's totally ignorant of his wife's part in setting up and murdering all his potential successors. I find this difficult to believe, but at least it makes things easy for the audiance (and gives them someone to hate - Livia is a spectacularly evil bitch :)

Next stop: the reign of Tiberius. I expect I'll be strongly opinionated about that, given that Tiberius is one of my favourite Emperors.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Rumsfeld: Saddam 'may have destroyed weapons': Will his evil never cease?


Yes, that's Patrick Stewart - otherwise known as Captain Picard of Star Trek: TNG - with hair. It's unnatural, isn't it?

Bollocks to all that

In the (current) US view, our role is to be subservient. To open our markets to their goods, while not complaining about their subsidies and trade barriers. To send our soldiers to fight and die for them whenever they demand it. To back them in any international dispute, even putting our credibility on the line for them (as Colin Powell put his on the line in front of the UN Security Council). In short, to sacrifice our mana for the hegemon.

None of the above is in our interests. None of it. Which is why I'm with Jim Anderton in saying "bollocks to all that".

Rather than being an obediant little proxy for the US, we should be advocating for our interests. For the past fifty years we've stood up for a multilateral international order, for universal human rights, for peace and (more recently) free trade. We should continue to do so. If this annoys the current US administration, then we should tell them where to go, just like we did in 1984. Governments change, long-term interests don't. Bush will eventually be replaced by someone less mean-spirited and petty, and at that stage we may be able to mend some fences. But until then, a US administration that demands total submission is simply not one that we should deal with.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Saint Jim speaks...

Judging from the outrage coming from the Nats, ACT, and Winston First over Jim Anderton's message to the USA, you'd think it was the end of the world. Piffle. Now that the US has scotched any talk of a free trade deal, we can say whatever the fuck we like. After all, what are they going to do? Invade us?

In order for Opposition talk of the US threatening to withhold carrots to be credible, they'd have to be offering us some in the first place. They're not, and never were. So what's to gain by sucking up to them? A larger portion of nothing?

Anderton is right. We've pulled our weight; the US is acting like a bully. They should be apologising to us.

Iraqis say "get out"

On the news this morning I heard that two US soldiers had died in seperate attacks in Iraq; on BBC tonight I read of another dying in a third attack, in Falluja. The BBC articles talk of "fears of growing lawlessness in the country". This isn't "lawlessness", it's armed opposition. The Iraqis want their country back, and are going to keep killing Americans until the latter leave.

Thoughts on Sir Ed

As the media is constantly reminding us, it's been fifty years since Hillary and Norgay climbed Everest. But Hillary isn't a "kiwi hero" for climbing the mountain; he's a kiwi hero for what he did afterwards.

To the victor, the spoils?

The US-run Iraqi administration has started cancelling foreign oil contracts. So far they've cancelled contracts with Russia and China - neither of whom backed the US invasion - and France is almost certainly on the list as well. The de-facto oil minister says that all contracts will be "re-evaluated", but is anyone in any doubt about who is going to get them in the end?

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Fisk catchup

It's been difficult to get regular Fisk since The Independent went pay-per-view, but here's links to a couple of the articles we've missed:

So what was the war for?
Defiant Khatami insists Tehran still supports Hizbollah

Hopefully some new web source will pop up soon.

Why America needs the world

Ex-President Bill Clinton gave a commencement address at Syracuse University on this topic earlier in the month, and the transcript has just been posted on Salon. Using the examples of the multinational stabilisation force in Afghanistan and WHO's battle against SARS, he argues that in the long term the United States needs the active cooperation of the rest of the world in order to ensure its safety. Interesting reading.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Escher's "Waterfall" revisited

While those computer scientists can't get water to flow uphill, inventor James Dyson can...

Significant Dates

Today is Friday, May 23rd, a day sacred to Discordians. And I'm going to celebrate by consuming sacramental hot dogs and contemplating my sacred chao.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

The Australian example

Looking around for information on the US-Australian FTA, it seems that it is unlikely to include Agriculture, while resulting in substantial inroads into biosecurity, food safety, intellectual property and public services (there's a good summary of each side's demands here). Australia has a large enough manufacturing sector for it to be worthwhile making concessions for better access for non-agricultural exports. New Zealand, on the other hand, does not. All we want out of the US is the ability to sell our lamb and dairy products to them. If we're not going to get that, then there simply is no point.

It was never going to happen anyway

Looking past all the wailing and gnashing of teeth emanating from the Opposition over Robert Zoellick's comments to the House Agriculture Committee, we have to admit that a free trade agreement with the US was never going to happen anyway. Ambassador Zoelick mentioned the US farm lobby, but I think the Green's Rod Donald said it best with this comment:

The truth is that even if Bill English gets his way and the entire US Pacific Fleet is anchored in Wellington Harbour, vested agricultural interests in the US will simply never allow free entry for our farm products.

Where I differ with Donald is the value of an FTA with the US - I think it would be fantastic. But the very things that would make it fantastic - free access to the US market for NZ agricultural products - are the primary reason why it will never happen. US farmers are simply uninterested in competing against our products, and they have the political muscle to ensure that they can continue to hide behind tariffs and subsidies. And so our best route (as the Trade Liberalisation network points out) is probably through the WTO.

Escher's "Waterfall

Maree Howard's power crisis "solution" the other day made me think of this famous picture:

I have a print of it hanging on the wall behind my computer, and it's kindof cool.

Escher fans might also want to visit the official M. C. Escher site at There's also a fascinating page about the work of some computer scientists to realise Escher's works as physical objects. Unfortunately, while they can produce the "waterfall" building with a 3-D layered manufacturing system, they can't get the water to flow uphill...

Kill 'em all, let Allah sort 'em out

American troops have shot dead four Afghan soldiers outside the US embassy in Kabul.

Reports say the US is describing it as a "misunderstanding". I guess the Afghans misunderstood that the Americans see every "raghead" as a terrorist, have itchy trigger fingers, and aren't too picky about who they kill.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Getting the electoral system you deserve

For the past month or so, I've derived amusement from the "Vote FPP: Don't let democracy be hijacked" sign on the side of the Hutt motorway. Unfortunately, judging by today's poll results, the citizens of Hutt City fell for it, and voted to retain the system that elected John banks. And unfortunately it looks like my ex-home of Palmerston North has likewise voted to retain FPP - though by a far slimmer margin.

I wonder if Wellington will be having a poll anytime soon?

Stupid Visions

Maree Howard's column on Scoop this morning (Electricity 'Solution' Devoid Of Imagination) lambasts the government for showing a "lack of imagination, vision and lateral thinking", and presents an alternative solution to the power crisis: we should pump water over the Southern Alps from the West Coast to fill the dams, powering the pumps with "the very electricity generated from that water". Furthermore, we should "recycle the water back to the lakes after it has been used to generate electricity at Benmore, or any other hydro station, instead of letting it run to waste."

Readers who didn't sleep through fourth-form science will notice that this violates the law of Conservation of Energy. Pumping the water back up to the dam will take exactly as much energy as we would get out of it. More, in fact, since neither pumps nor dam are 100% efficient. Likewise, pumping water from the West Coast is a losing proposition if it comes from lower than the dam (and if we take the inefficiencies of our pumps and dam into account, probably from substantially higher as well). TANSTAAFL, and all that.

Howard's second suggestion - that we look at upgrading the capacity of the Cook Strait Cable - is also a loser, but for different reasons. Yes, transmission to the north is limited by the cable. But imagine what would happen if it wasn't (or if we had a bigger one): electricity-hungry Auckland would simply be able to drain the South Island hydro lakes that much faster, and we'd be even worse off in a dry year than we are now. The problem is not a throughput bottleneck, it's that there isn't enough generation capacity in the North Island - and the only way to fix it is to build more power stations.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Putting money ahead of justice

According to a press release this morning, ACT wants judges to be able to hand out stiffer sentences to offenders who appeal and lose. Stephen Franks thinks that this will "send a clear message that unmeritorious appeals are not costless", and therefore deter convicted criminals from lodging them. Unfortunately, it will also deter them from lodging appeals with merit as well.

In ACT's books there's probably no such thing as a meritorious appeal from a convicted criminal. In this, they're denying both the evidence that our justice system does make mistakes, and the very principles it is founded on. There have been many cases over the years of convictions and sentences which have been downgraded because the courts or the police made an error - and several very high profile cases of innocent people being convicted and freed (sometimes years afterwards) on appeal. It's the latter which poses the most obvious problem, because a central tenet of our justice system is that it is better that ten guilty people go free than see an innocent person convicted. In practical terms, this not only means procedural safeguards and all that "beyond reasonable doubt" stuff we see on TV, but also making appeals accessible so that any mistakes can be corrected as swiftly as possible. Making appeals less accessible, e.g. by threatening appellants with tougher sentences if they lose, will result in more gross miscarraiges of justice. It's as simple as that.

On a more prosaic level, the same argument applies to those facing "ordinary" errors. It's an injustice to imprison an innocent man, and it's also an injustice for a burglar to serve six months more than they should. Both deserve to have the error corrected, and in an adversarial system this means appeals.

I've seen ACT arguing that unmeritorious appeals cost the justice system millions of dollars a year, and tie up valuable court time which could be spent on other things. But the fact is that justice costs, and if we skimp on the money, then we skimp on the justice too. Stephen Franks may find that acceptable, but I don't.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Strong words from Rod Donald

In his response to the budget:

The budget surplus is a fraud. It is built on the backs of kiwi kids living in poverty, hard working low income families who need a tax break and young people being shut out of affordable tertiary education.

Sums it up quite nicely, I think.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

What Don Brash stands for

According to his alternative budget presented in the Dominion-Post this morning, it's tax cuts for the rich and a boost in Police spending. But it's not a case of protecting those that have from those that don't, no - according to Brash the Police's inability to adequetly investigate property crimes (and that's all he mentions - property crimes) discourages economic growth.

I knew Brash was bad, but he's now made clear exactly what he stands for: a government that exists solely to further enrich the already wealthy, and protect them at all costs from those impoverished in the process. This is not the New Zealand I want, and I hope he never comes within a mile of the government benches.

Thoughts on the budget

The Budget was announced today, and the general reaction seems to be that it's boring. No substantial new spending, and no significant policy changes - though in light of the 80's and 90's, the latter is probably a good thing. The country expects to run a surplus of almost $4 billion next year, which seems criminal when so many areas of our public services - health, education, welfare, the police - are crying out for funds after being systematically starved for ten years. At least Cullen has the decency to seem embarassed about it...

It's made me wonder what the point of having a Labour government is if they're not going to even try and fix the damage caused by that starvation. But seeing the Herald's take on where we'd be if National was still in power - more welfare cuts and a minimum wage still frozen at $7 an hour - shows that in fact having Labour in government has led to some very real progress. Still, it's not nearly enough, and endless promises of "jam tomorrow" are eventually going to wear thin with Labour's traditional support base. And under MMP, they have real options to pull labour in a more leftward policy direction, rather than simply voting for the Other Bunch.

No holidays in Europe for Franks

General Tommy Franks has become the latest international figure to be sued in Belgium for warcrimes. I guess he won't be taking a holiday in Europe any time soon.

The suit holds Franks responsible for the behaviour of those under his command during the invasion of Iraq, most notably for using cluster bombs on civillian areas. It also names a Marine lieutenant-colonel who classified ambulances as legitimate targets. It is bought under Belgium's "universal jusrisdiction" law for crimes against humanity.

So, how long till suit is filed against Bush (as the ultimate posessor of "command responsibility"), and how long till the US Congress passes a blanket authorisation for invading Brussels to go with their one for The Hague?

Monday, May 12, 2003

How many civilians were killed by cluster bombs?

According to the Pentagon the answer is 1. Iraq Body Count begs to differ and says that at least 200 havebeenkilled. There is some good analysis here. You may also notice that the body count counter on the left has suddenly increased substantially...they got hold of records from 19 of Baghdad's hospitals and, after making sure that they weren' t counting the same dead people twice, included them in their figures. The methodology and details are here.

Bile Rising

I was having a look at a site called the memory hole (which is an interesting site in itself) and I found a link to a story in The Ithaca Journal. Its a story from about a year ago - basically a returning soldier's recollections of the fighting in Afghanistan. It makes for fairly chilling reading especially when you get to this quote.

"We were told there were no friendly forces, If there was anybody there, they were the enemy. We were told specifically that if there were women and children to kill them."

The paper describes him speaking "candidly about the reality of war" mention of the fact that his superiors actually ordered him to commit war crimes.

Do you feel the bile rising?

Sunday, May 11, 2003

"Long live the other America, and may this one pass away soon"

That's a line from this article, in the Daily Telegraph. Entitled "I loathe America, and what it has done to the rest of the world", it's about the feelings that America's actions have provoked in western liberals - both the hatred at what America has done, and the guilt at feeling such things about a country whose founding values we appreciate. It closes with the following:

I hate feeling this hatred. I have to keep reminding myself that if Bush hadn't been (so narrowly) elected, we wouldn't be here, and none of this would have happened. There is another America. Long live the other America, and may this one pass away soon.

Amen to that.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Six monkeys, one typewriter, no Shakespeare

This story, about an experiment designed to see if monkeys could produce literature, or even English, made me think about something said by Terry Pratchett in one of his numerous book tours down here (and obviously elsewhere as well):

"A chimpanzee will take a camera out of a person's hands and smash it. A gorilla will take a camera out of a person's hands, sniff it, and hand it back to him. An orangutang will take a camera out of a person's hands, take it to pieces, and hand the pieces back to them."

Terry didn't know about Bonobos then; if you gave them a camera, they'd use it to make a porn movie. And if you gave them a computer, they'd set up a webcam and a credit card facility, spam millions of unsuspecting web users with messages promising "hot primate sex", and get down to the serious business of running a porn site. Assuming they could drag themselves away from what they were doing at the time, that is...

[And from the look of it, Terry has a new book out. Didn't the Nac Mac Feegle appear in Lords & Ladies?]

Friday, May 09, 2003

Maori bashing for fun and profit

In calling for the abolition of the Maori seats, Bill English is attempting to appeal to the redneck vote... at the same time he is addressing a problem that really doesn't need fixing.

He is correct in pointing out that the Maori seats are an anachronism however a large number of Maori have decided that this is the way that they wish to be represented in parliament. In fact since the introduction of MMP more Maori have chosen to enrol on the Maori roll increasing the number of Maori seats from four to seven.

More importantly, because of the nature of the MMP system, the Maori seats do not actually have any affect on who gets to put their bums on the treasury benches. They ensure that an important minority group always has a voice in parliament without affecting anyone else. So why get rid of them? Ideological purity? Wanting to appear tough on Maori? Neither of these are particularly good reasons when it comes down to it.

National would do better to address some of the genuine problems that exist with the way we deal with the Treaty of Waitangi rather than indulging in pointless window dressing.

An answer to future power crises

Meridian is building a 90 MW wind farm in the Tararuas. Trustpower is also doubling the size of their wind farm, also in the Tararuas.

This is good. Wind power is clean, green, and an excellent supplement to our other generating capcity. And it can be built quickly - Meridian expects to be generating by the end of next year.

Now if only they'd buy Windflow turbines. But from the sound of it, they're after something bigger.

New Fisk

So he thinks it's all over...

A rotting smell in the closet

I saw this on the news last night and in the Herald this morning: Western Samoans campaigning to have the law which retroactively deprived them of citizenship repealed have finally been able to present their case to a select committee. Unfortunately, Helen Clarke (who opposed the bill in 1982) says that she sees no reason for any change.

I think the government is wrong on this. As the former colonial power, we had certain obligations to Samoans in 1982. Stripping them of citizenship was a denial of those obligations, and something that we should all be ashamed of. We should correct this injustice as soon as possible. I think Arthur Anae summed it up best when he asked how we could hold our head high while advocating for universal human rights abroad, "when there is a rotting smell in the closet at home that needs to be addressed"?

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Just saw it on Hard News: Salem Pax is alive and blogging.

Update: And the story has appeared on BBC.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003


Yet another article in a US publication about lessons from New Zealand's market "reforms" that concludes that we should've had more of them. It's interesting reading, if only for the complete disconnect between the views of foreign economists and people who actually live here and suffered through Douglas and Richardson...

Things that stuck out:

  • It lambasts proportional representation as "an electoral system institutionally destructive of good government", and laments the fact that parties of the right can no longer use economic crisis to gain power and enact dogmatic marketroid policies. I think this speaks for itself as to the anti-democratic beliefs of right-wing economists; it's also amusing to note the similarity with the Marxist doctrine of the "dictatorship of the proletariat".
  • There's a throwaway line about parties like Labour appealing to "softer values such as fairness". In contrast with the rigid (tumescent?) values of the Market, I suppose.

    (Interestingly, the ideological basis of market fundamentalism is all about fairness. A particular version thereof, cast solely in terms of transactions, and with the result that whatever outcome the market produces is by definition fair, but the attempt to claim "soft" and "unquantifiable" moral language is there.)

  • Standard bemoaning of our tax-rates:
    The new top rate cuts in at $30,000 U.S. - equivalent to 60 percent of average New Zealand incomes but less than one-third higher than the average Australian salary.

    I'm not sure what he's trying to say there, but he certainly doesn't mention that the median (as opposed to average) wage here is about US$ 12,000 per annum, or that the top rate affects only the highest 18% of wage-earners (that stat courtesy of some ACT junk-mail which arrived in my letterbox).

Naturally there's no mention of the human cost of the reforms. Foreign economists seem spectacularly uninterested in the soaring unemployment, or the creation of an underclass where we didn't have one before. Instead it's all (pathetic) growth statistics, and dogmatic claims that we'd be so much better off if we'd only exterminated those troublesome unions, completely privatised our health and education systems, and dropped our wages even further. Which is probably true, if you take "we" to mean the Business Round Table.

Anyway, a lovely piece of econodrivel, which would no doubt make Don Brash's supporters in the National caucus all misty-eyed for the glory days.

Just give me something to blog about...

I've completed my move to Wellington, but it seems to be a slow week for blogging. So, I'll have to fall back on the old staple, and blog about having nothing to blog about.

OK, I won't. But there seems precious little out there worth frothing at the mouth over. The war in Iraq has ended, and settled down into the sort of mess Afghanistan is in. The US is pissing off the locals, wants to pull out quickly, is going to privatise their oil industry and doesn't seem to want to commit the resources to clean up after themselves - ho-hum, same as it ever was.

Local politics is boring as well. I've already blogged about the opposition chorus over Helen Clark's foreign policy statements, and the other major news feature is the efforts of various politicians to blame each other for the power crisis. Oh, there's the kerfuffle over the premiere of Return of the King, but is there really anything to say there?

The best I can do is complain about the shitty TV reception in Johnsonville, but I don't think any (either? :) of you really care whether I can watch "Buffy" or not.

Monday, May 05, 2003

Total Information Awareness goes international

ChoicePoint, the firm responsible for purging black voters from Florida's voting records, is being paid millions of dollars by the Bush administration to collect detailed data on the citizens of foreign countries. The data includes names, addresses, occupations, dates of birth, passport numbers, physical descriptions, tax records and blood groups - anything they can get - and is focused on people in Latin America. Obviously Total Information Awareness has gone international.

Unfortunately, ChoicePoint seems to be using dubious methods to collect its data, and may have violated local data protection and privacy laws. Investigations have begun in Nicaragua and Mexico, and there's a prospect that the company will be sued or prosecuted for misusing Mexico's electoral data. I'd very much like to see that happen.

Of course, this also raises the question of whether a similar data-collection operation is being run on New Zealanders. Maybe the Privacy Commissioner should look into this?

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Home Truths

Pam Corkery got the Prime Minister for her first show. Kim Hill got some NeoCon associate of Richard Perle from the US Defence Planning Board. John Cambell got David Tua?

OK, so it's a different type of show - celebrity rather than political interviews - but it's still a bit of a disappointment. I enjoyed watching Campbell seal the fate of Jenny Shipley, and I also enjoyed watching him go after Helen over CornGate. But I guess his burn rate is too high, and our political community too small, to support a weekly Campbell political interview.

Friday, May 02, 2003

More on Ciudad Juarez

A while ago I posted about the murders in the Mexican town of Ciudad Juarez. Today there's a story on BBC suggesting that many of the women may have been killed by organ traffickers.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Something to be proud of

According to this story in the Herald, New Zealand has been ranked fourth in the world in the Center for Global Development's "commitment to development" index. While we rate poorly in direct financial aid (a mere 0.25% of GDP, compared to the UN guideline of 0.7%), we more than make up for it on trade, migration and peacekeeping policies. The index describes us as:

"An exemplar in many ways: ties for first on migration, gives essentially no subsidies to its farmers, and contributes generously to peacekeeping. But low overall aid budget keeps it out of the top three."

Doesn't that give you a warm feeling inside?

By comparison, the Netherlands was ranked highest (who'd have thunk it?), and the United States, whose citizens wank endlessly about their generosity to the world, ranked twentieth out of twenty-one.

The full Index can be found here, and there is an article on it in Foreign Policy Magazine.