Archive

Archive for November, 2012

Peter Jackson’s “Precious”…

28 November 2012 36 comments

.

.

Today was the premiere of the first movie in “The Hobbit” trilogy.

I was not about to comment on todays events. For me, the shine has long since corroded from the Ring Trilogy and the “Hobbit” that came after.

Events surrounding the industrial dispute; the mass hysteria that followed; the vilification of actors who stood with Actor’s Equity; the demonisation of trade unionists; the the carefully crafted manipulation of public hysteria by some very skilled creators of illusion; the actions of National in unilaterally changing employment law – all left a sour taste in my mouth.

Whilst I loved the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy; the talents of actors, technicians, director and producer, and all the other fantastically imaginative craftsmen and woman who contributed to one of the most epic movies of this century –  I can no longer share those same feelings with “The Hobbit”.

As with our fraudulent claim to be “100% Pure”, there is something about “The Hobbit” which is a sham.

Unlike the “Lord of the Rings”, “The Hobbit” is not the product of Kiwi ingenuity. It is the product of back-room deals; media manipulation; and political-corporate connivance.

Have a look at TV3’s report today into the tumultuous  background of  “The Hobbit”, when Hollywood Hell broke loose in our country,

.

[click here to direct to TV3 Video]

.

Note Peter Jackson’s comment @ 1:27,

We are now being given signs that they [Hollywood producers] are looking very seriously about shifting [the Hobbit].”

Source: Ibid

That was a lie.

We know it was a lie.

We know it was a lie because Peter Jackson admitted it in an email to National’s Economic Development Minister, Gerry Brownlee, on 18 October 2010,

.

Sir Peter Jackson told the Government he did not believe an international actors’ boycott would force The Hobbit overseas, emails show.

The message, sent to the office of Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee on October 18, is in stark contrast to comments the film-maker made earlier in the month.

On October 1, he said: “The Hobbit is being punished with a boycott which is endangering thousands of New Zealand jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign income, for no good reason.”

Sir Peter dismissed the idea that movie production was moving overseas because it was cheaper to make films there.

“It’s completely absurd! Eastern Europe is only being considered because a minority group of the New Zealand acting community have invoked union action that has blacklisted our film, making it impossible to shoot in New Zealand.”

But on October 18, Sir Peter said the boycott had nothing to do with the movies potentially moving overseas.

“There is no connection between the blacklist (and it’s eventual retraction) and the choice of production base for The Hobbit,” he wrote.

“What Warners requires for The Hobbit is the certainty of a stable employment environment and the ability to conduct its business in such as way that it feels its $500 million investment is as secure as possible.”

The October 18 email also suggests Sir Peter thought the boycott had been lifted, even though he said in television interviews three days later he was unsure if it had been officially ditched.

Sir Peter declined to comment through a spokesman yesterday.

See: Sir Peter: Actors no threat to Hobbit

.

And Fairfax Media reported,

.

The email showed Warner Bros wanted ”stability” to film the movies in New Zealand and was worried about ”grey areas” of employment law.

The Government secured the movies in October by an urgent amendment to the law which prevented independent contractors from claiming entitlements as employees, as well as an agreement to increase the tax concession for big screen productions.

The report said the email was signed ”Peter J” – apparently director Sir Peter Jackson – and was sent to the office of Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee who was involved in the negotiations with Warner Bros.
  
It said there was no connection between Actors’ Equity union action against The Hobbit movies and choice of location, which contradicted government statements at the time – which were that Warner Bros was concerned about strife caused by the blacklisting of the movies because of a row over collective pay conditions.

See: Union: Protest did not affect Hobbit decision

.

It was all a giant con. And we, as a country, were the ones being conned.

Because three days later, on 21 October 2010, Jackson issued  a Press Release stating,

Next week Warners are coming down to New Zealand to make arrangements to move the production offshore. It appears we cannot make films in our own country even when substantial financing is available.”

See: Warner preparing to take Hobbit offshore – Sir Peter

Peter Jackson knew full it well was unlikely that  Warner Bros would move “The Hobbit”, for several practical, hard-nosed reasons.  Which Jackson duly shared with Gerry Brownlee.

Unfortunately, neither Brownlee nor Jackson shared that information with the rest of the country, and the mounting public hysteria gave John Key and National the ‘mandate’ they needed to act decisively.

The country panicked; and National used the opportunity to play “hero” by saving the day. It was like a Hollywood  scripted movie. (Though, for the life of me, I’m not sure that the “good guys” won.)

In 48 hours, National rammed through legislation amending the law covering all workers in the movie and television entertainment industry. The Bill was introduced on 28 October. It gained Royal Assent on 29 October. The fastest piece of legislation enacted since politicians voted themselves generous superannuation entitlements, late one night, in the 1980s.

See: Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Act 2010 – Legislative history

At the stroke of a pen – similar to a Decree issued by a lone despot in some authoritarian regime – National unilaterally changed workers from being employees to sub-contractors.

The resulting change was stark;

  • Employees can negotiate collectively for a collective agreement
  • Sub-contractors cannot
  • Employees had minimum wage; sick pay; holiday pay; appropriate employment/termination protections; etc.
  • Sub-contractors do not.

National got what it wanted; public support through a bit of Union bashing, and preliminary legislative attacks on de-unionisation of the workforce. (See: New industrial relations laws rewrite labour rules)

Warner Bros got what they wanted; more money (courtesy of the taxpayer) and de-unionisation of “The Hobbit” workforce.

Peter Jackson got what he wanted; an irritation out of his life.

In a way, I don’t blame Peter Jackson – despite his masterful manipulation of public opinion and reaffirming (if re-affirmation was ever required) that we can be a nation of sheep.

Peter Jackson is a talented, imaginative artist who can create the most visually stunning images on a screen. He is, in most likelihood, a genius.

Unfortunately, geniuses are often so focused; so obssessed; and so fixated on their work, that they will disregard all others around them. A genius is all-consumed with his work, to the detriment of others.

In this case, Peter Jackson identifies utterly with his projects; immersing himself in childhood fantasies that he now has the power to bring to life – albeit a two-dimensional “life” on the big screen.

In doing so, he swats aside any irritation that might distract him from his work.

Actors Equity was such a distraction, and Jackson used his masterful skills at perception-manipulation  to rid himself of that irritation. He had the power – so he used it.

He’s not evil or tyrannical or nasty.

He’s simply a boy who never quite grew up and realised that he could fulfill all his childhood fantasies.

Unfortunately, in doing so, and like many other obessively-dedicated geniuses before him – he has hurt many people in the process.

Will I go to see “The Hobbit”? I really don’t know.

But if I do, it won’t be the same as “Lord of the Rings”.

The illusion will be broken –  the suspension of disbelief (film makers and writers  will understand what I’m referring to).

Because all the while, there will be the spirit of a little boy who never quite grew up; holding on to his childhood fantasies; and murmuring ‘my precious‘, as he never lets go.

.

*

.

Additional

Fairfax: Union: NZ actors suffer after dispute

Gordon Campbell: On The Hobbit finale

Fairfax: To save regular earth, kill Hobbit subsidies

Fairfax: Hobbit ‘better deal than Lord of the Rings’ – Key

Previous Related blogposts

John Key’s track record on raising wages – 1. The “Hobbit Law”

.

.

= fs =

WINZ Privacy for some – but not for others

28 November 2012 5 comments

.

.

Most of us remember this apalling episode of Paula Bennett’s career as Social Welfare minister,

.

Full Story

.

In 2009, Bennett made public private details of two solo-mothers. She  handed over personal information to the media without the knowledge of the two women, Jennifer Johnston and Natasha Fuller.

The information included each woman’s weekly income from the State, including benefits and  allowances.

Her move was supported by misogynists;  right wing nutjobs; assorted beneficiary bashers; and National’s core constituency of conservative cranks.

Bennett’s actions were roundly condemned by fair-minded New Zealanders who recognised the Minister’s actions as a gross abuse of her power and invasion of their privacy.  No wonder that many who  remembered Rob Muldoon’s style of authoritarian governance likened Bennett’s behaviour to the late, former, Prime Minister.

But Bennett defended her mis-use of Ministerial powers,

If someone is deciding they’re happy to use their case to speak about or against something we are doing, I think it’s fair the full story be told.”

Three years later…

Deputy Chief Executive, Janet Grossman, who had been head-hunted from Britain and paid over $50,000 of taxpayer’s money to re-locate to New Zealand, resigned only eleven months after taking up her role with WINZ,

.

Full story

.

Despite quitting less than a year into her new job; and despite over $50,000 paid to relocate her to New Zealand;  it is reported that Grossman was paid out $97,000 as some sort of severance pay.

When Labour MP Jacinda Ardern questioned this extraordinary payment in Parliament, this exchange took place with National Minister, Jonathan Coleman,

Jacinda Ardern: Was the only reason she was given for Janet Grossman’s departure in that briefing or information that “her husband has had job opportunities in the UK and she wishes to return back there.”?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Yes.

Jacinda Ardern: Was Janet Grossman paid a termination benefit?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: As you know, $97,000 was allocated across five people who left that year, and there will be no breakdown given, for privacy reasons, of the allocation to any of those five executives.

See: Social Development, Ministry—Resignation of Deputy Chief Executive

Really? Dr Colemnan cited “privacy reasons “?!

Chief executive of  Ministry of Social Development, Brendan Boyle, was reported by Radio New Zealand as stating,

Mr Boyle says there is nothing unusual in paying out someone their entitlements when they resign but he refuses to disclose just what payment Mrs Grossman got, saying to do so would breach her privacy.

See: MSD chief clashes with MP in committee

So let’s get this straight…

Two solo-parents who have done nothing wrong; and their only ‘misdemeanour’ was daring to criticise a politician; have their personal details of WINZ payments splashed all over the country’s media, inviting lunatics to attack and threaten them…

But the payout to a senior WINZ executive  who resigned/sacked/? is suddenly a matter of “privacy”?

The double standards set by National, and their cronies at highest MSD levels, beggars belief. However, it is unsurprising.

National’s reputation for One Rule For Everyone and One Rule For Themselves, is by now fairly well known in this country.

It demonstrates their  complete contempt they have for the rest of us.

This is the sort of arrogance that in other countries leads to authoritarian rule;  jails full of political prisoners; eventual uprisings by the populace; and a bullet through the head of despots.

Here in New Zealand, we do things differently. Here, despots get elected to two terms of government.

.

*

.

Previous related blogposts

“One law for all” – except MPs

Hypocrisy – thy name be National

Sources

NZ Herald: Bennett gets tough with outspoken solo mums

Fairfax Media: Paula Bennett accused of Muldoon-style bullying

NZ Herald: Work and Income boss quits

NZ Parliament: Social Development, Ministry—Resignation of Deputy Chief Executive

Fairfax Media: Social Development Ministry grilled over security

Radio NZ: MSD chief clashes with MP in committee

.

.

= fs =

Terminal disease sufferer appeals to John Key – Update & more questions

28 November 2012 19 comments

Continued from: Terminal disease sufferer appeals to John Key

.

http://fmacskasy.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/reaching-out-300x196.jpg?w=300&h=196

.

To re-cap,

Allyson Locke and a handful of other New Zealanders are suffering from Pompe Disease – a terminal condition. Their only hope is an expensive drug – Myozyme – which they cannot afford.

Allyson and her fellow Pompe sufferers have appealed to the Prime Minister for assistance.

They are appealing for equal treatment to breast cancer sufferers,  who gained extra funding for extended herceptin treatment, as part of John Key’s election campaign promise in 2008.

This blogger supports Allyson and her fellow pompe sufferers to plead for mercy from John Key.

Considering that Key and National found over $200 million to support last year’s rugby world cup tournament(Blowouts push public Rugby World Cup spending well over $200m), it is inconceivable that they cannot fund medicine which seven New Zealanders desperately require.

The alternative is death.

.

Full Story

.

Following on from a previous blogpost (Terminal disease sufferer appeals to John Key) on 12 November, the following exchange of emails between this blogger; John Key’s office; and Tony Ryall, has taken  place.

Email sent to the Prime Minister on 11 November,

.

Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2012 17:34:10 -0800 (PST)
From: Frank Macskasy “fmacskasy@yahoo.com”
Subject: A request for mercy
To: John Key “john.key@parliament.govt.nz”
Cc: Allyson

Kia ora Mr Key,

Allyson Lock, has contacted you via your Facebook page. Allyson suffers from  Pompe Disease  a terminal disease, requiring a  medication. The cost of that medication is beyond her means.

Her case is outlined here: http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/terminal-disease-sufferer-appeals-to-john-key/

Allyson has appealed to Pharmac for funding to treat her and six other New Zealanders who also suffer from this extremely rare condition. Pharmac has rejected her on the grounds of cost and efficacy.

I would like to  remind you that in 2008, one of your election promises was to extend herception from nine weeks to twelve months, even though Pharmac had up to that point been resisting all such requests on the grounds of cost and efficacy. You subsequently won the election and carried through with your pledge to fund herceptin to twelve months.

Allyson is requesting that you offer her, and six others in her position, the same opportunity to treat her condition.

I request that you take her pleas seriously and respond to her request.

Her life is in your hands.

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy

Blogger

.

Response from John Key’s office, five days later,

.

From: “J Key (MIN)” “J.Key@ministers.govt.nz”
To: Frank Macskasy “fmacskasy@yahoo.com”
Subject: RE: A request for mercy
Date:  Friday, 16 November 2012 3:52 PM

Dear Mr Macskasy

On behalf of the Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, I acknowledge your email of 12 November 2012. Please be assured your comments have been noted.

As the issue you have raised falls within the portfolio responsibility of the Minister of Health, Hon Tony Ryall, your email has been forwarded to his office for consideration.

Thank you for taking the time to write to the Prime Minister.

Regards

L Diehl

.

Tony Ryall’s response, dated 22 November, and sent via email by his Private Secretary,

.

.

Follow-up email to Tony Ryall,

.

Date:Thursday, 22 November 2012 9:41 PM
From: Frank Macskasy “fmacskasy@yahoo.com”
Subject: Pompe Disease sufferers: A request for mercy
To: Tony Ryall “Tony.Ryall@parliament.govt.nz”
Cc: Chris Laidlaw RNZ <sunday@radionz.co.nz>,
    “campbelllive@tv3.co.nz” <campbelllive@tv3.co.nz>,
    Dominion Post <editor@dompost.co.nz>,
    Daily News <editor@dailynews.co.nz>, Daily Post <editor@dailypost.co.nz>,
    Grant Robertson <grant.robertson@parliament.govt.nz>,
    Hutt News <editor@huttnews.co.nz>,
    John Key <john.key@parliament.govt.nz>,
    Jim Mora <afternoons@radionz.co.nz>,
    “Joanna Norris ( DPT)” <joanna.norris@dompost.co.nz>,
    Kim Hill <saturday@radionz.co.nz>,
    “kate.chapman@fairfaxmedia.co.nz” <kate.chapman@fairfaxmedia.co.nz>,
    Listener <editor@listener.co.nz>,
    Morning Report <morningreport@radionz.co.nz>,
    NZ Herald <editor@herald.co.nz>,
    Nine To Noon RNZ <ninetonoon@radionz.co.nz>,
    “news@dompost.co.nz” <news@dompost.co.nz>,
    “news@radionz.co.nz” <news@radionz.co.nz>,
    Otago Daily Times <odt.editor@alliedpress.co.nz>,
    “primenews@skytv.co.nz” <primenews@skytv.co.nz>, Q+A <Q+A@tvnz.co.nz>,
    Southland Times <editor@stl.co.nz>, The Press <letters@press.co.nz>,
    The Wellingtonian <editor@thewellingtonian.co.nz>

Sir,

I am in receipt of your email dated 22 November, regarding Enzyme Replacement Therapy (ERT) for sufferers of Pompe Disease. I understand you have already been in contact with Ms Allyson Lock on this matter.

You state that your reason for not supporting funding for ERT is – and I quote you – that “as a Minister I am prevented by law from intervening in PHARMAC’s decision-making process”.

I refer your attention to the 2008 election campaign where your Party pledged to extend herceptin treatment for breast cancer, from nine weeks to twelve months, even though Pharmac had up to that point been resisting all such requests on the grounds of cost and efficacy.

Post election, after becoming government, you implemented your election promise, and you stated in a press release dated 10 December 2008,

“We are extending funding for Herceptin to allow patients and their doctors to have a choice of a 12 months course. The nine-week treatment option also remains funded and available.”

I refer your attention to the following press releases from yourself and the Prime Minister, announcing additional funding for herception, despite PHARMAC’s initial decision opposing the move;

12-month Herceptin treatment now available

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0812/S00083.htm

Government honours Herceptin promise

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0812/S00082.htm

I have three subsequent questions, which you may be able to clarify;

1. If you are unable to intervene in PHARMAC’s  decision making process – what process did you use to fund herception from nine weeks to twelve months?

2. Where was funding obtained from?

3. Why are you unable to use the same process to fund ERT as you did for Herceptin?

I hope this problem can be resolved with some urgency, as Pompe Disease is terminal, and seven New Zealanders are facing a death sentence unless help is forthcoming.

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy

Blogger

.

Response from Tony Ryall’s office on  26 November,

.

From: “Nicole Hine (MIN)”   “Nicole.Hine@parliament.govt.nz”
To: “fmacskasy@yahoo.com” “fmacskasy@yahoo.com”
Subject: RE: Pompe Disease sufferers: A request for mercy
Date: Monday, 26 November 2012 9:14 AM

Dear Mr Macskasy

On behalf of Hon Tony Ryall, Minister of Health, thank you for your further email of 22  November 2012 about ERTs.

The Minister has asked Ministry of Health officials to advise him on the matters you have raised.  Please be aware that due to the large volume of correspondence we receive, a personal reply to your letter may take some weeks.

Kind regards

Nicole Hine

Private Secretary – Health

Office of Hon Tony Ryall

.

Let us hope that common sense, mixed with compassion, prevails.

This issue will be updated when new information, or events, come to hand.

.

*

.

Sources

John Key: Government honours Herceptin promise (10 Dec 2008)

Tony Ryall: 12-month Herceptin treatment now available (10 Dec 2008)

Additional

Drug trial gives hope to Pompe sufferer (1 Dec 2012)

.

.

= fs =

John Key’s “pinch of salt” style of telling the truth

27 November 2012 8 comments

.

Full story

.

Continued from: When spin doctors go bad

The truth? You can’t handle the truth!

When Jack Nicholson bellowed that famous line in the 1992 movie, “A Few Good Men“, few would have thought that it would apply twenty years later; down under here in Godzone; but that this time the tables would be turned against an apologist for the Establishment.

Mark Unsworth – a right-wing lobbyist for a professional “government relations consultancy” company, Saunders Unsworth, seems to find difficulty “handling the truth”. Especially when that truth comes from respected and reknowned environmental scientist, Dr Mike Joy…

On 16 November, the New York Times carried a story on the upcoming release of “The Hobbit“. The article made reference to Tourism New Zealand’s publicity campaign centering around a supposedly   “100% pureNew Zealand” theme.

As we should all know by now, New Zealand is not  “100% pure”. In fact we probably haven’t been “100% pure” for several decades now.

Dr Joy stated as much and was duly quoted by New York Times,

There are almost two worlds in New Zealand. There is the picture-postcard world, and then there is the reality.”

Green MP, Eugenie Sage, backed up Dr Joy’s brutal truth, and was quoted in the same article (from a statement she made in Parliament last month),

We promote our country as 100 percent pure and 100 percent Middle Earth. But to swim in our rivers, which is the birthright of Kiwi kids — you cannot do it in the majority of the rivers that the Ministry for the Environment monitored.”

See: New Zealand’s Green Tourism Push Clashes With Realities

And you know what? They are telling the truth. The clear, unvarnished, simple truth.

Dear Leader John Key and Trade/Climate Change Minister Tim Groser Minister,  have now waded into the ‘mix’.

Yesterday (26 Nov), Groser rebuked Environment scientist, Dr Mike Joy, by saying,

It’s been used as a stick to beat New Zealand by environmental activists.”

See: Minister lashes out at environmentalists over 100% Pure

Today, Dear Leader added, just to make sure we understood what our politicians were “hinting” at,

It’s like saying ‘McDonald’s, I’m loving it’ – I’m not sure every moment that someone’s eating McDonald’s they’re loving it . . . it’s the same thing with 100% Pure. It’s got to be taken with a bit of a pinch of salt.”

Dr Joy replied,

I’m not going to lie about this stuff.”

He’s right. Why should he lie?

Politicians know that the “100% Pure” is a marketing scam to bring tourists (and more importantly their cash) to New Zealand and can only succeed if the true nature of our degraded environment is kept secret.

After all, successful  politicians like Dear Leader John Key are so used to manipulating facts and employing half-truths  to serve their political purposes (usually getting elected), that they forget that the rest of the population are not politicians.

So, having created their own “dynamic” standard of ethics, Key,  Groser, and  minions like Unsworth, are  taken aback when the general populace raise an eyebrow in disbelief when we are expected to take part in conning overseas tourists? Our response is, “They want us to what-?”

How many times has Key been caught out telling half-truths, or not being upfront with the public?How many election promises has he broken; side-stepped; back-tracked; or watered-down until his pledges were useless?

The trouble now seems to be that Key and Groser are now expecting the public to buy in to their truth-bending ways.

Not just “buy in” – but to be  tacitly  complicit with the scam.

John Key wants 4.4 million people to be like him.

A nation of  ‘politicians’.

Surprisingly most of the  the general populace won’t have a bar of it.

Key says that no one expects New Zealand to be “100% Pure”.

I wonder what he expects when he buys a bottle of  “pure water” to drink?

.

*

.

Sources

‘100% Pure’ is like McDonald’s ad, says Key

Minister lashes out at environmentalists over 100% Pure

Other blogs

The New Zealand story: 100% pooer!

.

.

= fs =

Aotearoa Not For Sale – Big signature-gathering push in Kilbirnie, Wellington

25 November 2012 2 comments

.

.

24 November, Wellington – Aotearoa is Not For Sale (ANFS), Wellington branch, took part in a nationwide push to gather more signatures for the petition,  calling for a referendum on state asset sales.

ANFS campaigners took to the streets of Kilbirnie, one of Wellington’s eastern-suburns, close to the airport.

Campaigners took up prime spots in Bay Rd – Kilbirnie’s main street – and outside Pak’n’Save, in the next street adjacent.

Phil, Shane, and Warwick, posing for the camera, before taking up positions around Pak’N’Save’s main doors,

.

.

Ready to take up the challenge,

.

.

A citizen only to happy to sign Warwick’s petition,

.

.

This gentleman needed no encouragement to sign Phil’s petition and was not happy with National’s plans to partially-privatise assets that belong to us all,

.

.

.

No sooner does one finish signing, and another person comes up to Warwick,

.

.

Collecting more signatures in Bay Road, Kilbirnie’s “main drag”,

.

.

.

All up, several hundred signatures were collected and several dozen electoral enrollent forms handed out. It was a good day for hittuing the streets.

One interesting thing that we found was that most people had already signed the petition. It seems the campaign is well supported by New Zealanders of all walks of life. (John Key – take note.)

Anyone wanting to download the petition can do so from here: http://keepourassets.org.nz/

If you  can’t print of a petition form, please email this blogger, and I will post out forms to you,

.

.

Remember – every signature counts! (And make sure you are on the Electoral Roll – if you’re not on the Roll, your signature may be discounted.)

.

*

.

Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

.

.

= fs =

Exclusive: Provocateurs attempt to disrupt March for Palestine, in Wellington!

24 November 2012 124 comments

.

.

Wellington, 24 November – A Solidarity-with-Gaza protest march in Wellington today was briefly marred when two young men wearing Jewish Kippah/Yarmulke walked at the front of the procession, and had to be led away by a lone police constable for their own protection.

The protest march, numbering approximately 100 to 150, marched along Wellington’s main streets, calling for justice for Palestine and for the ending of the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Organisors of the protest call themselves “Wellington Students for Justice in Palestine“.  They are New Zealanders who  stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

They say,

We support Palestinian self-determination and Palestinian refugees’ right  of return. We advocate a just solution  to the conflict that allows Palestinians, Jews, and others to live in peace and equality regardless of religious or ethnic identity.”

.

.

According to a conversation overheard on a Wellington bus driver’s radio, the Police had not been alerted to the protest march  – though it was well-organised and  moved peacefully through the city,

.

.

The messages on placards and banners was simple and direct,

.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Free Palestine support Gaza Wellington Oppose Israel aggression Protest 24 Nov

.

.

Students of history will recall that Nazi occupiers throughout Europe referred to various localised resistance movements as “terrorists”,

.

.

.

.

Men, women, and children – the procession moved peacefully through the streets of the city, with their  chants echoing through the concrete-and-glass-walled canyons of the city,

.

.

One lone police car parked on an intersection, to slow down and divert on-coming traffic,

.

.

At this point, this blogger witnessed a lone police constable hauling two young men away from the front of the march,

.

.

My first thoughts were that individuals within the protest march had caused an ‘incident’, and were being arrested. Then I noticed their head-gear,

.

.

I also overheard snippets of conversation between the constable and the two young men; they had been pulled away from the protest march not because of breaking any law – but for their own safety. The constable was adamant that the pair would not be permitted to return to the protest march.

One of the young men responded that it was his right to freedom of expression,

.

.

The constable replied that either they walked away,  or they would end up in a police car – for their own protection. She was in no mood to be playing silly-buggers with this pair of fools,

.

.

As the two young men walked away from the protestors, this blogger caught up with them and tried to find out what their intentions were,

.

.

They began with a curious comment that they did not want to be recorded because it was their “Holy Sabbath”. When pressed what they meant, the following conversation was recorded,

Him: “I’m gonna ask you not to record anything today.”

Frank: “Well it can’t be too much of a Holy Sabbath if you’re down here to protest [the] march, and walking in front of it.”

Him: “Well, they chose that day unfortunately. I’m talking, I’m allowed to talk.”

Frank: “Well that’s right, so, what have you got to say for yourself as to why you were standing in front of them? What was your message?”

Him: “I don’t want to be recorded on my sabbath. Is that… Can you respect that?”

Frank: “Alright, well, ok, but can I ask you then-“

Him: “I can give you my email address. You can memorise it, write it down, whatever you want. You can email me, you can interview me later, how’s that?”

Frank:  “Ok. Do you think it was appropriate to put yourself  in front of that protest march? Any comments, sir?”

Him: “Who are you?”

Frank: “I’m a blogger-“

Him: “Ok, you can take my email address if you want, but no recordings.”

Frank: “-I’m a blogger, Frank Macskasy, and I’m covering this.”

Him: [no response]

Frank: “Ok, thanks gentlemen.”

Him: “Thank you.”

The pair then walked off,

.

.

This blogger then returned to the body of the march; the passionate chanting and  vocal  demands for justice for Palestine still very strong,

.

.

Standing beside one of the protestors, she informed me that “they’ve been here the whole time… they often come to these things“.

She asked me what they had said, and I repeated their refusal to go on record with a taped interview, claiming it breached their Sabbath. Did it stop them chanting their own pro-Israel slogans in front of the march?

“Oh no,” she replied.

Perhaps the two young gentlemen felt shy in expressing themselves – without backup from the Israeli Army?

The protest march made it’s way to Wellington’s civic centre,

.

.

.

.

.

A young Palestinian, Mohammed, addressed the crowd, which had swelled along the way to the Civic Square,

.

.

In part, he said,

“… Since 1948, when they stole our land, killed our people, and displaced millions of us. And up till now Israel continues their massacres, their discriminations against Palestinians, again and again.

More then ten thousand prisoners, waiting for their human rights, waiting for freedom in Israel’s jails.

[cries of 'Shame! ' from the crowd]

Last week they started their attack, their war over Gaza, over the civilians in Gaza. And they killed 162 civilians, including children, women, elderly, and men. More than 1,200 severe injuries. This attack on Gaza is by no means the last crime of Israel on Gaza.

Once the ceasefire agreement has been signed with the [distorted word] government of Israel, they arrested more than fiftyfive people in the West Bank and their ‘mistake’  was just to be demonstrating  against the attack on Gaza. Yesterday two young people were shot by Israeli forces around the border with Gaza.

[cries of 'Shame! ' from the crowd]

Even the seige of Gaza is still going on which prevents essential needs to be delivered to the people of Gaza. And quite simply I would say, as any Palestinian says, we’ll never forget our people who are killed by Israeli  forces. We will never forget our land. We will never give up.

Thank you so much for joining us today in solidarity with Palestine, especially the Gaza.”

Despite english being his second language, those listening to Mohammed understood the meaning and pain inherent in his words.

How many times have we heard similar words from  around the world, where people are repressed with harsh brutality.

In the past, New Zealand has played it’s part in rejecting repressive regimes, and standing firm with people suffering from suppression. We’ve done it before, we can do it again.

The Palestinian people deserve our support and friendship.

.

.

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”
– Abraham Lincoln

.

*

.

Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

Contact

vicpalestine@gmail.com

.

.

= fs =

When spin doctors go bad

24 November 2012 8 comments

.

.

When Jack Nicholson bellowed that famous line in the 1992 movie, “A Few Good Men“, few would have thought that it would apply twenty years later; down under here in Godzone; but that this time the tables would be turned against an apologist for the Establishment.

Mark Unsworth – a right-wing lobbyist for a professional “government relations consultancy” company, Saunders Unsworth, seems to find difficulty “handling the truth”. Especially when that truth comes from respected and reknowned environmental scientist, Dr Mike Joy…

On 16 November, the New York Times carried a story on the upcoming release of “The Hobbit“. The article made reference to Tourism New Zealand’s publicity campaign centering around a supposedly   “100% pureNew Zealand” theme.

As we should all know by now, New Zealand is not  “100% pure”. In fact we probably haven’t been “100% pure” for several decades now.

Dr Joy stated as much and was duly quoted by New York Times,

There are almost two worlds in New Zealand. There is the picture-postcard world, and then there is the reality.”

Green MP, Eugenie Sage, backed up Dr Joy’s brutal truth, and was quoted in the same article (from a statement she made in Parliament last month),

We promote our country as 100 percent pure and 100 percent Middle Earth. But to swim in our rivers, which is the birthright of Kiwi kids — you cannot do it in the majority of the rivers that the Ministry for the Environment monitored.”

See: New Zealand’s Green Tourism Push Clashes With Realities

And you know what? They are telling the truth. The clear, unvarnished, simple truth.

As early as  July 2010, NIWA reported,

There is now considerable evidence that the combined effect of light exposure, bank damage by livestock, and poor water quality has substantially degraded the ecological health of pastoral streams. Nutrient enrichment, when combined with sediments and other stressors, can cause irreversible shifts in aquatic ecosystems, particularly in downstream lakes and estuaries.

[...]

The fact that some heavily polluted rivers – mostly in dairying areas – have turned the corner in recent years gives us cause for optimism for the future, says Dr Davies-Colley. For instance, the NRWQN shows water quality has improved in some Taranaki rivers and the Manawatu. A programme of widespread riparian fencing and planting in Taranaki probably explains most of the improvement there, he says.

But although science identified the effectiveness of these measures 15 years ago, implementation has been lacking, according to Mr Deans. “There’s a bit of fiddling while Rome burns, I’m afraid. Unless we take action, we’re going to see continuing water degradation and be in a worse position in five or ten years’ time.”

See: How clean are our rivers?

When we read articles in our own media such as this,

.

Full story

.

… then we know we have a serious problem.

The Herald article above revealed in no uncertain terms, that we were turning  our rivers  into open toilets,

The results showed water quality was poor or very poor at 52 per cent of monitored river sites.

A further 28 per cent were graded “fair” – with a risk of illness for those swimming there.

Only 20 per cent of monitored river recreation sites were graded good or very good.

Health effects from swallowing water tainted with faecal micro-organisms or other bacteria can be unpleasant. They include diarrhoea or vomiting, and infections of the eye, ear, nose and throat.

See: Ibid

The New York Times article simply mirrors what we already know; our dirty little secret. A “secret” that is becoming more widely known with modern communications and tourists spreading the word,

But New Zealand’s reputation as a pristine place might not be exactly warranted. Since European colonization 150 years ago, as much as 90 percent of the country’s original wetlands have been drained to make way for towns, farms and roads. The wetlands are considered to be of international importance for supporting numerous species of birds, fish and plants.

For creatures like the black stilt, which lives in such places, it may be too late. There are only about 100 left, making it possibly the rarest wading bird in the world. It is just one species out of the 2,800 that the country’s Department of Conservation considers endangered.

In 2008, New Zealand ranked first among 146 countries in Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index , which ranks countries on the quality of their environmental policies. The report compares international data on criteria like habitat loss, greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and protected marine areas.

In 2012, however, the country slipped to 14th. New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, half of which are caused by the agriculture industry, are the fifth-highest per capita among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the association of free-market democracies. Most other countries in the O.E.C.D. have managed to reduce per capita emissions, but New Zealand’s have increased 23 percent since 1990 — from about 66 million tons of carbon dioxide in 1990 to about 83 million tons in 2009, according the country’s Environment Ministry .

Pure Advantage, a nonprofit group promoting green business, estimates that the country will overtake the United States in per capita emissions in less than eight years, putting it almost into the world’s top 10. But total emissions in New Zealand, which has a population of 4.4 million, are far lower than those of the United States, with 312 million people.

This month, New Zealand refused to commit to a second round of emissions reductions under the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 international agreement on reduction of greenhouse gases. Instead, it will align with several of the world’s largest emitters, including the United States, China and India, in negotiating an alternative agreement. That could be approved by 2015 and in effect by 2020.

This is a day of shame for New Zealand. Our reputation as a good international citizen has taken a massive hit, Moana Mackey, a member of Parliament who is the climate change spokeswoman for the opposition Labour Party, said in a statement.

See: New Zealand’s Green Tourism Push Clashes With Realities

Indeed, this very issue came up in a BBC  interview last year when Dear Leader was challenged by Steven Sackur about our supposedly “clean and green” and “100% pure” image,

.

See @ 10:50

.

Key dismissed Dr Joy’s research as “Mike Joy’s view“.

Since when is a river too filthy to swim in considered a “viewpoint“?

For Mark Unsworth to then send this offensively-worded email, criticising Dr Joy’s research,

From: Mark Unsworth [mark@sul.co.nz]
Sent: Wednesday, 21 November 2012 12:15 a.m.
To: Joy, Mike
Subject: Ego Trip

Dear Dr Joy
Is your ego so great that you feel the need to sabotage all the efforts made by those promoting tourism in NZ because of your passionate views on the environment ?
You have the right to hold strong views but you ,as an academic whose salary is paid for by others taxes, must also act responsibly .
Letting your ego run riot worldwide in the manner you did can only lead to lower levels of inbound tourism.

You may not care given your tenure in a nice comfy University lounge ,but to others this affects income and jobs.
Give that some thought next time you feel the need to see your name in print in New York .And possibly think of changing your name from Joy to Misery-its more accurate
Cheers
Mark Unsworth”

See: Facebook Page

…   is not just the hallmark of a narrow-minded person – but the height of futility.

Abusing a scientist doesn’t clean up the Manawatu River and make it suitable for swimming in.

Using gross insults such as “you guys are the foot and mouth disease of the tourism industry‘ will not change the tonnes of CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, etc, that we daily spew into the air.

And what does it mean to say “you have the right to hold strong views but you ,as an academic whose salary is paid for by others taxes, must also act responsibly” ?

Is Mr Unsworth suggesting that anyone paid by the taxpayer should keep the truth to him/herself? Isn’t that what authoritarian regimes try to do; squash dissenting opinions and hide facts from everyone?

And since when is detecting, recording, and reporting levels of pollution “holding strong views“?

If the pollution of waterways like the Manawatu simply a “strong view“, I challenge Mr Unsworth to drink a glass of  ‘water’ from that river. (Note: have a medic with a stomach-pump standing by.)

Mr Unsworth; when it comes to choosing whether to believe an environmental scientist whose purpose it is to seek the truth about human impacts on our land and waterways  –  or to believe a spin doctor like you, who is paid to tell us whatever your employers want us to hear – who do you think we’ll believe?

Can you guess?

It beggers belief that someone with Mr Unsworth supposed education (?) cannot grasp a simple, inescapable fact; the truth about our degraded environment and poisoned rivers cannot be hidden.  People are not fools, and eventually the truth will out.

The NY Times has called us on our claim to be “100% Pure”. The bullshit has, literally, hit the fan.

So what are we going to do about it?

Sulk and malign the messengers of the truth?

Or get our act together and clean up the mess that we, ourselves, have made in our own country?

Time to roll up our sleeves, Mr Unsworth…

.

*

.

Sources

NZ Herald Editorial: Green growth potential not to be wasted

NIWA: How clean are our rivers?

Pure Advantage: PURE ADVANTAGE LAUNCHES NEW ZEALAND INTO THE GLOBAL GREEN RACE

New York Times: New Zealand’s Green Tourism Push Clashes With Realities

NZ Herald: Lobbyist stands by ‘ego trip’ email

Other blogs

The New Zealand story: 100% pooer!

.

.

= fs =

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 942 other followers