Wednesday, September 28, 2005

 

Disarmament in Northern Ireland

The IRA has destroyed its arsenal. In the 200 years the Irish Republicans have existed, they have never gone to such lengths to find peace in Ireland. The man in charge of ensuring it is done was retired Canadian General John de Chastelain, and he claims that all weapons were now beyond use. This isn't quite good enough for Democratic Unionist Ian Paisley, who is demanding photographic evidence and is showing signs of refusing to sit around the table with Sinn Fein. The General stated that much of the ammunition was in belts or bags, suggesting they had been collected from individuals over time. Some loyal paramilitaries and splinter groups were no doubt still in action, but could be "cleaned up" by security forces.
And what an arsenal!

650 Kalashnikov assault rifles
40 Armalite assault rifles, smuggled from America, often stolen from US army stores
50 heavy and general purpose machine guns
60 Webley revolvers
2 Barret high-powered American sniper rifles
40 rocket launchers
6 flame throwers
1 SAM-7 surface-to-air missile
600 bomb detonators
3 tonnes of Semtex plastic explosive, the undetectable variety
An unknown number of mortars
Hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition
I have always wanted a united Ireland, and have been engaged in that discussion ever since I can remember with the Irish culture being so strong in our family. (Note to readers - it takes a considerable amount of alcohol to get a jig out of me these days). I used to think, too, that the IRA were right - that the guerilla tactics they used for the Cause were just and the only way against the might of the British Army. I'd read abou the atrocities in Ireland and Scotland and the independance movements there.
I don't know what actually happened - whether the organisation changed, or just my perception of them. But the IRA no longer have a cause. It exists in the form of bands of thugs who patrol areas, using violence and fear to control the people they were supposed to fight for.
Hopefully now we can see the end of the gun and the bomb in Irish politics, and hopefully Paisley and his cohorts will sit down, shut up and listen. Before the Good Friday agreement, some children had never known a cease fire, let alone peace, in their life time. Hopefully they will now see a united Ireland in that time.

Monday, September 26, 2005

 

Election fatigue

Well, I've barely taken part in election-post-mortems since the big night, but I'm over it until the specials come in. New job (well, a shift within the organisation to the legal team proper) has meant less time for blogs (and no computer at home) so less information flowing in. I'm also making a determined effort to get outstanding tasks done and some new goals achieved.
Number 1: learn to rollerblade. I'm ten years behind everybody else in wanting to look that skilled and cool. I had the first lesson on the sun-washed waterfront on Saturday and managed not to fall over. (This is not the same as not looking like an ass). My efforts are still closer to stomping on wheels, but never mind. I'm sure the wind-mill like arms and the slamming into walls will cease with practise - maybe.
Number 2: Get new transport and get a license. With the old scooter written off, I need me some wheels. I actually prefer a scooter, but also need to get my restricted as I can't travel at 45kms forever.
Number 3: Get a tan. Having legs that could be used as night beacons at the airport is not attractive, to anyone.
Number 4: Get fitter. After a few weeks off due to ill health it's time to get the fitness back - preferably before I have to get onstage as my drag alter ego Stevie Mac on Saturday night.
Keeling over from exhaustion after a five minute dance routine is not cool. If you want to have a laugh (mainly at me, but I'm used to that) turn up at the Big Kumera on Saturday around 11pm for an extensive freak show. (I'm not kidding, that's what it is called).

Friday, September 23, 2005

 

Anderton. Jim Anderton...

Move over 007, Mr 1.23 is in the House. Jim leapt to the aid of a homeless man who had cut an artery, administering first aid to the seriously injured man. The level of detail in the article is commendable:
"The Progressive Party leader leapt from the car and applied a tourniquet to the man's arm, using his wife's possum fur-merino wool scarf and his silk tie..."
Good to see Jim isn't letting his low polling hinder his fashion sense - and the tux really does give off the aroma of aged Bond.
Only one question - if he had done this before the election, would Matt Robson have made it back in? One will never know...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

 

The Lull before the Storm

The newspapers have little new to report election-wise so they are starting to recycle election night numbers and possible combinations for a coalition government. Rather boring really, although Taito Philip Field probably wants them to go away altogether.
The time before the final count is released is providing some self-reflection for the Labour Party, and no doubt the Nats as well. Because Labour shouldn't have come so close to losing this election. Time, featuring Clark and Brash on the cover, wondered how a PM in charge of a booming economy, low unemployment and general lack of disasters could be so threatened by Brash. Time, such a right-wing publication, wondering how the Left managed to do so well, and how the novice Brash was looking so good.
Jordan has noted that Labour accepts that the Nats bested them, and they will be looking at what went wrong and what went right. Although the centre-left vote held, and the Nats gained by hoovering up smaller parties, they may not be so lucky in 2008.
Opposition doesn't win elections - Governments lose them.

Monday, September 19, 2005

 

3 more years...

Er, apologies for the last post .. rather excruciating really.
It's all over bar the horsetrading, which will be interesting. Don Brash seems to be putting an awful lot of emphasis on those special votes, even though history isn't in his favour. Fingers crossed for the Greens to get Nandor back into Parliament...
I spent most of election day in Masterton, with my sisters white middle-class farming in-laws. (In-bred is probably a little unkind, although the males in the family DO have webbed toes..)
Huia and I were a definite minority (should be used to that) among people (primarily men) who, while they had a lot of respect for Helen, felt that "it was time for a change" and "there were too many women in Parliament."
Damn the suffragettes...
They couldn't actually tell me WHY they needed a change, but could produce some examples. Much of their complaint centred around the Resource Management Act (consent to put up a shelter belt, a thousand dollar exercise etc) and tax. The arguments were pretty slim - just like the Nats policy really - but they were grimly determined. It showed on Election night as well, as all of provincial NZ turned blue. I was surprised and a little sad to see Rick Barker go, along with Russell Fairbrother and Janet Mackey. The former Labour seats right up my home coast have turned blue, especially since there is a lot more money sloshing around in those areas now and they want a lot more of it in their pockets. In terms of sheer numbers though, the cities will always have far greater influence - thanks South Auckland!!
There are a number of people I'm quite happy are out of Parliament, although they are replaced with some unknowns from the Nats.
John Tamihere - he should have jumped ship after Investigate. If he hates so much about the Labour party, he shouldn't ride on it's coattails. I won't be surprised if he is standing for the Nats in a few years time.
Larry Baldock and Paul Adams - Parliament's resident fundies. Between them, they wanted to publicly identify and quarantine AIDS victims, cut funding to Family Planning until they promoted marriage and abstinence, and a raft of other horrific ideas.
Dail Jones and Bill Gudgeon - these two delivered hellfire-and-brimstone speeches during the Civil Union Debate and I'm glad they are gone. 'Haters and Wreckers' the both of them.
And some people I'll watch with interest:
Don Brash: he wields a great deal more power now, and I will be interested to see how he uses it, and whether he keeps the leadership until 2008.
Winston: He will be HELL bitter about losing his seat, and it will be interesting to watch his conduct toward the Nats in the House.
Tau Henare: I don't believe the staunchness is gone, and we will see how he mixes with his less, er, cultural colleagues.
Hone Harawira: potentially explosive.
Pita Sharples: a relaxed, confident speaker who will do a lot more for the MP than Tariana.
Maryan Street: Previously outspoken newbie.
Shane Jones: Corporate Maori and a little unknown.

Friday, September 16, 2005

 

Twas the Night Before Election...

..and all through the unions,
People were praying, and taking communion.

All was so quiet, the racket had stopped,
The Nats settled down with a round gentle plop.

Young Labour kicked back with a nice Chardonnay,
Assessing the polls leading up to the Day.

In front or behind, nobody knew,
The left wing tinged with a lovely Green hue..

The Maoris were restless and should get some seats,
Unlike ACT's Rodney, who is playing for keeps.

The Brethren are restless, and gave loads of bread
Maybe they're mainstream, at least in their heads.

As the House settled down, awaiting new members
We think back on MMP, on '96, and remember
How Winston the Kingmaker jumped into bed
With Bolger and crew, he was happily led.

Keep in mind, that awful boat
and this election - GIVE THE LEFT WING YOUR VOTE.

Monday, September 12, 2005

 

Diet Blog

I have been a bit light lately, due to a variety of things. I spent a lovely few hours in a Seatoun awash with sunlight on Saturday, delivering leaflets for the Greens and the CTU. Although, considering the very obviously displayed wealth of the area, possibly made off the backs of the workers, I'm not sure how many will actually hit home - but one must try.
I took part in a different type of leafletting this morning. Although it was still bastardly early, I was up at VUWSA helping Maddy Drew and Nick Kelly with their respective campaigns. Maddy will make an awesome Welfare VP as she has a good balance of empathy and pragmatism, combined with a ulcer-giving work ethic. Nick Kelly is running for President and I know he will lead VUWSA with a thoughtful and steady hand without compromising the ideology he has held for so long.
If you are a student, and reading this, go here to vote this Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

 

Whose community?

The Society for the Promotion of Community Standards has put out a press release giving poor old Charles Chauvel a hard time. They have slammed the "feminist and gay cabal" in the Labour Party and Chauvel's previous work for the Aids Foundation and Human Rights Commission (which they virtually re-label the gay rights commission).
They keep quoting the word gay - as in "gay" - which I don't understand. Is the term still so new to them? The seem to prefer the term sodomy.
They also get in behind (scuse the pun) Peter Dunne in Ohariu-Belmont, so it's good to see that community standards lodge themselves in a political party.
And, surprise surprise, Winston will sit on the cross benches after the election. Which means every decision will be a haggle to see how much he can get, not so much in terms of policy, but more likely media attention.

Monday, September 05, 2005

 

Eat the Poor

The pictures and stories coming out of the Gulf Coast are horrific. New Orleans may never be rebuilt and the body count is unknown. Even more horrific than the natural disaster is the environment created by federal and local government both before and after the hurricane. With disaster prevention spending cut, and a third of the Louisiana National Guard in Iraq, the Federal government have been criminally negligent towards the people of the Mississippi, Biloxi, New Orleans and greater Louisiana. Even the Cubans have offered to help but I somehow doubt Bush will accept help from such lowly neighbours.
The cries of racism grow louder in America - if anything will topple Bush, it will be this. That is, if they count the black votes this time around. I wonder what would have happened if Utah had flooded. It's pretty white, and pretty Right, and pretty Christian up that way. Truth is, they would have moved a hell of a lot faster. Every face you see on the news is black. In the initial stages of the evacuation, those most in need were ignored while they evacuated the Hyatt. Not a bastion of the lower classes, I assure you. If you're poor in America, life is hard; if you're poor and black, well, you're quite fucked.
We saw the tsunami on Boxing Day, and saw an area with a high degree of poverty facing something they were totally unprepared for. Indonesia and Thailand lacked a high-tech early warning system that would have given them maybe 5 or 10 hours warning of a tsunami.
New Orleans had five YEARS of warning. They had reports, they had technicians. They had levees that were not maintained, they had a Superdome (the allocated disaster area) without any water - and the Governor turned off the drinking water to force people to evacuate.
Initially, I found it hard to be sympathetic to a nation that flouts international law at every turn and has created so much destruction in other countries. But the people who are suffering there are the ones who always suffer. Low education, low income - low priority.
It would have been so easy to evacuate the ill and the young before the storm struck - at the very least, clear out the hospitals and assist the elderly. But nobody moved because nobody could pay. And nobody really cared.
Michael Moore has written an open letter to George Bush that pretty much sums it up. Looking at the news coming out of the States, the actions of the federal government go beyond a blunder to being a willing accomplice to wholesale murder.

Friday, September 02, 2005

 

politics by stealth?

I have been musing for many months on whether to have further political involvement, and if so, how. I was against Labour party membership - simply because I would feel like a sellout after fighting their education policy for several years. The Greens don't really appeal as I disagree on issues like cannabis and some ecnomic policy - but agree on issues like the full support of the Kyoto agreement. I'm interested in the machination of Matt McCarten, but nothing significant has happened thus far.
Surfing the different sights, I was surprised to discover that by virtue of my membership of the Service and Food Workers Union, I was automatically a member of the Labour Party.
*Definite* freedom of association issues there, I think..

 

The press secretaries of God

Well, the small Christian parties are starting to cannabalise each other now. Destiny have called United Future hypocrites after Gordon Copeland ostensibly supported income splitting for gay couples with dependent children. United Future's tax analysis is equivocal, just referring to 'couples with dependent children'. Could Gordon Copeland have finally seen the light?
In other news - god bless scoop - Christian Heritage are promising to introduce the Values in Sex Education Act which would promote the benefits of marriage and abstinence before marriage. Instead of providing contraceptive advice and education on the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases, McQueen wants to affirm "our young people in what they really are - romantic idealists looking for something noble to aspire to.”
I wonder if McQueen thinks there is something noble about those dying of AIDS?
The Herald Digipoll has finally said what everybody knows - the polls are too volatile to be useful. National got another bump in the polls after beating the race drum again, halving the lead Labour had over them in the last Herald poll. NZF are around the 6.6 mark, and the Greens scrape into Parliament on five. But really, all these polls tell us is that nobody knows a bloody thing, but have a lot of fun guessing.
ACT's purchase of Don Brash as Gnat leader has been the subject of controversy, but it has been a mystery as to why no outgoing emails from Brash have been revealed. Russell Brown has found one.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

 

..and another..


 

A new billboard..


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