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Archive for the ‘People Being People’ Category

New Clothing Standards set by National Party

10 February 2014 5 comments

The National Party has set a new standard how it expects the lower classes to dress. National ministers Anne  Tolley and Party-leader-in-waiting, Judith Collins, began with this sexist attack on Green Party co-leader, Metiria Turei,

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PM says ministers not bullying Turei

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Obviously, Tories cannot abide poor folk and their elected representatives becoming ‘uppity’ and above their ‘station’ in life. This public excoriation of  Ms Turei is the Tory way of telling some stroppy “n—-r” to get back in line.

All dressed up as “political argy-bargy”, to make it seem like Parliamentary business-as-usual.

The Tories won’t be happy until Turei (and poor folk)  dress accordingly,

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Right way and wrong way to dress

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(Note; the above examples of Dress Standards for Poor People is a guide only. The National Party suggests sack-cloth, grass skirts, and rags are always fashionable amongst the down-and-out. Nudity is fine – especially for comely females in the presence of male National MPs. Any unemployed poor person wearing shoes – of any description – will be immediatly means-tested and their benefit halved. Obviously they are receiving far too much if they can afford shoes.)

Next chapter in National Party policy: How changing the flag will raise 250,000 children out of poverty (but not too far out of poverty)

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References

Radio NZ: PM says ministers not bullying Turei

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Vote in 2014 dude - do yourself a favour

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 February 2014.

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Some pure wisdom from Facebook…

28 December 2013 1 comment

Amongst all the dross, BS, and outright hoaxes, occasionally one finds something on the ‘net that is a little nugget of wisdom…

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Hoax stories on the internet

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Hat tip

Duncan Lucas

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How human is Michael Laws?

19 December 2013 6 comments

This is a Cyberman. It is devoid of emotions, compassion, and empathy for others.

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cyberman

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It is a fictional character.

This is a Borg. It also is also devoid of  emotions, compassion; and empathy for others.

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borg

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It also is fictitious.

This is Michael Laws. Ex-Member of Parliament for NZ First. Ex-Mayor of Whanganui. Current member of  Whanganui DHB.

He is a real person (as far as we know).

Is he also devoid of emotions, compassion; and empathy for others?

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laws

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Read this exchange between Laws and a mother on Facebook,  and be the judge yourself.

Conversation started Sunday

Kirsten Moffitt
08/12/2013 01:17

Hi
I am a mum of a child with Smith Magenis Syndrome and your comments about DS are so ignorant. My son, like many children with DS, are thriving. It is amazing what early intervention can achieve. There are kids with DS getting their driver licences and being accepted into US universities without any quotas. My son is loved by his classmates at 6 years old and their parents often say to me how he enriches the class. Genetic testing should be available but I’m not sure people in your position should promote it. Cost to the health system? Let’s test unborn children for the cancer gene then and abort them too. What is the point of spending so much money on a kid that will just die? How does that feel. Maybe think before you put a knife in other parents heart. Kirsten


Michael Laws
08/12/2013 01:21

Seriously YOU’RE ignorant.
No-one wants a Downs Syndrome kid – 9 out of 10 women understandably abort if there’s the risk, and good on them.
Zealots like you want decent people to share your experience. Sorry, we don’t want to. Thank God we have the test & that the vast majority of women make the choice.


Kirsten Moffitt
08/12/2013 01:23

Wow. I can’t believe you actually wrote that. Yeah I must be seriously ignorant.


Kirsten Moffitt
08/12/2013 01:32

PS what do you mean by decent people. Are you suggesting that I am not a decent person as I have a child with a disability


Michael Laws
08/12/2013 01:32

Please share it – PLEASE.
The rest of NZ does not want to have a Downs syndrome child: that’s why there’s a test. And when we discover there is a heightened risk, we abort. Perfectly correct.
You’re not decent because you want to impose your child’s affliction on others. That’s monstrous.


Kirsten Moffitt
08/12/2013 01:34

My child’s afflictions on others? If that is so “monstrous” why didn’t you arrange for his murder when he was diagnosed at 18 months. 1 in 8000 chance that I had an abnormal pregnancy. Not quite as simple as you may think


Michael Laws
08/12/2013 01:37

Shall I repeat what you said?
“Genetic testing should be available but I’m not sure people in your position should promote it. Cost to the health system?”
You’re a zealot; bye bye.
Most parents don’t want disabled kids. End of story & the Downs test is classic proof.
… and I’m a DHB board member, very proud that our DHB offers local women that test and that option and the opportunity to abort, if they so choose.


Kirsten Moffitt
08/12/2013 01:39

I’m a lawyer … so thank you


Michael Laws
08/12/2013 01:50

then if you really are a lawyer you shouldn’t be lecturing elected DHB members to deny their constituents the right to test their foetuses for Downs syndrome and having the option to abort if it tests positive.


Kirsten Moffitt
08/12/2013 01:52

Lecturing? Responding to a public post. Happy to send these messages to the DHB and see what their reaction is.


Michael Laws
08/12/2013 01:57

You’re a zealot and now bugger off: your threat is pathetic.
And abortions thank God are still available to Wanganui women with Downs positives – fantastic policy. Stops fascists like you imposing your weird moral choices.


Kirsten Moffitt
08/12/2013 02:29

Will do. You have done yourself a favour


Today
Michael Laws
01:18

Like most people I’d automatically abort a DS foetus. Commonsense.


Kirsten Moffitt
01:30

Didn’t you tell me to Bugger off last night? Why contact me tonight. How are you going with aborting people with ms tosa
“Today ” . . but obviously freud msy have had a point


Michael Laws
01:33

Replying to last msg from you. now off you go.


Kirsten Moffitt
01:44

Oh you think you need to have the last word. Good on you.


Michael Laws
01:47

Fuck off and don’t contact me again.


Kirsten Moffitt
01:49

I didn’t contact you after you told me to “bugger off” and after your incredibly hurtful comments. You decided to contact me this evening and then tell me to “Fuck off”. I’m the insane one?


Michael Laws
01:51

Yep you’re a nutter and you DID contact me – now FUCK OFF: can’t make it plainer.


Kirsten Moffitt
01:54

I contacted you in relation to your public comment which you are happy to share with the world. You have chosen to contact me and once again insult me tonight. What is with you?


Michael Laws
02:00

PISS OFF

Source

It is said that the civilised nature of a society can be judged by how well it values and protects it’s most vulnerable people. I’m not about to start passing comment or judgement on what prospective mothers should do if they are carrying a DS  foetus. That is a matter deeply personal to them.

On an issue as sensitive as this, would it be too much to ask for a human being to show a measure of compassion for others?

I am not demanding that Laws agree with others on this matter. He obviously has his own viewpoint.

But where is his empathy for others who are determined to share their lives and love with their Downs Syndrome children? Where is the compassion? His understanding?

It is troubling that with such trenchant views and a strident manner  in expressing said views, that Laws is a member of the Whanganui DHB. His apparent lack of empathy on this issue would seem to be counter-intuitive to his role within the health system that has as it’s first priority to help people in the most compassionate way possible.

The medical system is not here to make determinations in a manner so callous as Laws’ expresses.

It is a cruel, cold,  world of steel and relentless ‘logic’ that Michael Laws inhabits. One that would suit Cybermen and Borg very nicely.

I doubt most of us would fancy living in it.

Laws’ comments come at a time when attention is also focused on intemperate comments made by National Minister, Judith Collins, on Twitter (see: ‘The Standard‘, Judith Collins: The obnoxious right; ‘The Daily Blog‘, How much more of an arsehole can Judith Collins be while Nelson Mandela is mourned? UPDATE).

What is it about New Zealand politics that seems to bring out the worst in some people?

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 December 2013.

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Other blogs

The Daily Blog:  Will a staff member at the Whanganui District Health Board please make a formal complaint about Michael Laws?

International Socialists Organisation of Aotearoa/New Zealand: Michael Laws: a sexist, eugenicist toad

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Kamikaze Kiwis and a deathwish on wheels *Update*

18 December 2013 3 comments

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Reduced speed tolerance will apply for December and January

Source

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This is a laudable plan from our Boys and Girls in Blue, and I’ve no problem with it. Holiday periods are generally a bad time on the roads where every manner of bad driving habits are manifested by drivers.

With increased numbers on our roads during the December/January period, such bad driving habits are multiplied, until a “critical mass” of stupidity is reached, or peoples’ luck just runs out.

It’s often not speed per se that is the dangerous driving habit of many drivers. Case in point…

On 23 November, after a three and a half month absence down south, I was returning home. On SH1, somewhere on the open road north of Christchurch and south of Marlborough, I encountered some driving practices that simply took my breath away.

All involved tail-gating on such a dangerous level that, at any moment, I expected a crash.

The first was a light-coloured Pajero, driven by a male and a female passenger, who first tail-gated me. At several points he was so close to me that I could barely see his headlights – they were below the line-of-sight of my vision, hidden by the spoilers of my own vehicle.

It wasn’t as if I was travelling at some silly slow speed on the open road; I was driving at, or just about 100kph.

After several minutes of the driver’s menacing behaviour, I pulled out my cellphone to call *555 and warn police that a madman was loose on our highways.

As I gave Police details of what I was witnessing, the Pajero overtook me; the driver gestured (no, not a friendly wave); and then proceeded to tailgate the next car – a reddish-orange, early model American sedan. After several minutes, the Pajero overtook the American car and sped off into the distance.

A little later in the day, I witnessed not just another instance of tail-gating – but an attempted over-taking manouver that very nearly ended in disaster.

Check out the photo below. Note how close he is to the red car in front of him. Note his position on the road – he is about to attempt an over-taking manouver.

Note the blind bend we are approaching.

And note the on-coming traffic!!

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grey bluebird

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Luckily, the driver of the Bluebird saw the on-coming vehicle as well and quickly swerved back into our own lane. Had he completed pulling out and attempted to over-take, it would have ended up with lethal consequences.

By the way, the same Bluebird had over-taken me a little earlier. As he passed me, I noticed a young child in the back seat.

As someone who often drives on the open road, I sometimes witness mind-boggling instances of tail-gating and dangerous over-taking.

I’ve never witnessed so many hair-raising incidences in one day and on one road.

Today (6 December), I finally emailed Assistant Commissioner on Road Policing, Dave Cliff, on this problem. I asked him if tail-gating was to be treated with the same attention and severity as speeding,

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from:     Frank Macskasy
to:          Dave Cliff <dave.cliff@police.govt.nz>
date:     Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 1:40 PM
subject:     Road safety enforcement

Kia ora Mr Cliff,

I am aware that Police are reducing speed tolerances over the December and  January period, ostensibly to reduce the road toll during the Christmas/New Year holiday months.

Whilst I have no problem with this policy, I am enquiring what steps the Police will take regarding other dangerous driving practices.

Specifically, I am referring to the increasing prevalence of tail-gating.

On 23 November this year, whilst driving north on SH1 between Christchurch and Picton, I encountered several instances of dangerous tail-gating. One driver – rego [redacted], a Pajero – drove so close behind me that his headlights were almost below line-of-sight of the rear of my car.

The driver persisted in his menacing behaviour, forcing me  to phone *555 to lodge a complaint.

After the Pajero driver over-took me, the male driver proceeded to tail-gate an orange, early-model, American car (a Charger, I believe).

Travelling at 100kph on the open road, had I or the driver of the Charger been forced to brake suddenly, the results would have been predictably disastrous.

On the same day, and stretch of road, a grey Bluebird, rego  [redacted], was seen to be tailgating another car in front of me,  and made a hair-raising attempt to over-take as we approached a blind-bend. (See pic attached).

Even on urban motorways such as SH2 and SH1 in the Greater Wellington region, I witness dangerous and increasingly stupid instances of tail-gating.

One of the first things I learnt as a learner-drive in my teens was to keep one car distance per each 10kph driven speed.
Many of these instances I have described would be lucky to have had two (or maybe maximum three) car distances between them.

Will police be focusing on  this dangerous practice? And will you be highlighting this in any upcoming media conference?

I believe this matter deserves as much attention and action as your crack-down on speeding drivers.

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy

[image above attached]

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It will be interesting to see what reply, if any, Assistant Commissioner Dave Cliff makes on this.

In my humble opinion, tail-gating and dangerous over-taking as dangerous – if not more so – than speeding. The potential for disaster increases as such stupid behaviour becomes more and more reckless.

If you encounter such unbridled stupidity on the roads, ring *555, and inform the Police immediatly. You could be saving a life.

*Update*

I received this response four days later,

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from:            HEALEY, Bryan <Bryan.Healey@police.govt.nz>
to:                  Frank Macskasy
date:             Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 9:15 AM
subject:       Road safety Enforcement
mailed-by: police.govt.nz

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Frank…..I am in receipt of your email to Ass. Commissioner Dave Cliff.

My question to you is, do you want to make a formal complaint against the other drivers or work through the Community Road Watch Programme?

The formal venture is by way of court action, the CRW programme is none formal and brings the matter to the attention of the drivers manner of driving.

Please advise.

 

New Zealand Police Logo

Senior Sergeant Bryan Healey
Manager Customer Services: Police Infringement Bureau | Road Policing Support | New Zealand Police

P   +64 4 3810107 | Ext: 44907   

E   bryan.healey@police.govt.nz
Police Infringement Bureau, PO Box 9147, Wellington, 6141, New Zealand www.police.govt.nz

 

Road Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility

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I responded, thusly,

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from:     Frank Macskasy
to:     “HEALEY, Bryan” <Bryan.Healey@police.govt.nz>
date:     Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 5:14 PM
subject:     Re: Road safety Enforcement
mailed-by:     gmail.com
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Kia ora Bryan,

I would be more inclined to pursue the option of the Community Road Watch Programme. It is less punitive and hopefully should serve to remind the drivers that tail-gating (especially as I encountered it) is unacceptable behaviour (and potentially dangerous).

As I wrote originally to Ass. Commissioner Dave Cliff, the practice of tail-gating seems to be becoming a more regular occurrence and I was interested whether or not Police intend to focus on this offense, as they will be on speeding over the December/January period?

In the meantime, pursuing this matter with the two drivers through the CRW Programme appears to be the best option.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy

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I realise I could have insisted on a prosecution – but in instances like these, education might be more effective than putting someone through an expensive Court system?

It was interesting to note that Snr Sgt Healey did not reply to my question;

“…the practice of tail-gating seems to be becoming a more regular occurrence and I was interested whether or not Police intend to focus on this offense, as they will be on speeding over the December/January period?

Let’s hope the wheels are slowly turning on this problem at Police HQ.

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Disclaimer: I’m no saint, and have had my share of parking infringement notices and speeding tickets. Especially in my wilder, youthful days.

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Farewell, Nelson Mandela…

6 December 2013 2 comments

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Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela (18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013)

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Truly, one of the giants of the 20th century has passed away.  If the human race is to survive and progress, with social justice all all, and an end to prejudice and intolerance – then we will need leaders like Nelson Mandela to show the way.

Perhaps there is hope for us yet, as we cling to  this insignificant little blue-green planet, at the edge of the galaxy…

Thank you, Mr Mandela, for showing us that there are better ways to live.

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Geoff Robinson – an era ends.

28 November 2013 4 comments

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geoff robinson radio nz

Morning Report co-host, Geoff Robinson

Photo Acknowledgement: Sunday Star Times

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It was a feeling of sadness and a losing a familiar part of my world , when I heard today (28 November) that Geoff Robinson would be resigning next year, on 1 April, from his role as Radio NZ’s Morning Report co-host. (see: Geoff Robinson to leave Morning Report)

Geoff Robinson had been a part of my mornings since I “discovered” Radio NZ in the early 199os. He had been part of my mornings since then, outlasting several partners/lovers, and being there as I had my brekky and first of umpteen coffees.

His style was professional and reassuring. He asked the questions and voiced pertinent points from his guests that screamed from my own thoughts.  He always sounded chatty and “laid back” – but his subtle questioning could be deceptively edgy and insightful.

It’s a cliche, I know, but he will be a tough act to follow.

I will miss him terribly. Like a family member who hangs around, never really imposing himself, but always with something interesting to say.

I thank Geoff for making my mornings something to look forward to. How else could one face a Monday morning after a relaxing weekend?

And I thank Geoff for giving us notice up till 1 April. I shall be making the most of the time left and relishing every moment of the time he has given us.

Enjoy your retirement, Geoff. And your lie-ins. You’ve more than earned it.

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“Here was a Caesar! when comes such another?” -  Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2

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Random Thoughts on Random Things #1…

21 October 2013 9 comments

Why is it…?

That a fictional woman, in fictional stories, wearing a mask,   is seen as a crime-fighting hero, fighting evil-doers and worth a billion-dollar Hollywood/entertainment industry…

 

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super heroes

 

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But a real woman in a niqab seems to freak out so many people?

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niqab-1

 

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Just something to ponder…

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Fred Pohl, RIP

14 September 2013 2 comments

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Fred Pohl November 26, 1919 – September 2, 2013

Fred Pohl
November 26, 1919 – September 2, 2013

 

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Fred Pohl was one of my favourite science fiction authors.

For me, his most memorable book was the novel, “The Age of the Pussyfoot“, a story of a man revived from cryonic suspension into the 26th century. The novel was more about the cultural shock of a human being 600 years out of his time, and having to adapt to an alien society, than “hard sf”.

Most notably, for a novel written in 1969, Pohl predicted the coming of the cellphone/smartphone with uncanny accuracy. The device he calls the “joymaker” in his story could easily pass for the mobile devices we so take for granted in the 21st century.

Such was the imagination of one of the greatest sf writers humanity has produced.

RIP, Mr Pohl. And the teenager that I was, thanks you for the gifts that you shared with us.

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References

Wikipedia: Fred Pohl

Wikipedia:  The Age of the Pussyfoot

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Categories: People Being People Tags:

Duelling Bainjoes…

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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Letters to the Editor, in the Dominion Post

Firstly  from Mr Girardin, published on 2 July;

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Despite the police’s best efforts at messing up the original investigation into the Bain murders, new evidence comes to light showing that it’s likely that Robin Bain loaded the rifle’s magazine. True to form, after some thought, police say the marks on his thumb could be anything – for example, cuts from working on his roof. They left out that he could have made them while shaving. If they’d done the most basic procedures – that is, bagging Robin Bain’s hands – there would have been no trial and no debate now.

Instead, they were too busy finding Margaret Bain’s glasses and saying they were David’s. The Keystone cops were investigative geniuses compared to this crew.

After the convictions of Arthur Allan Thomas, David Dougherty, Peter Ellis, Scott Watson, David Tamihere and others, plus the Urewera and Dotcom debacles, who could possibly believe a word these self-serving incompetents now say? A shake-up at police headquarters, or a decapitation, is long overdue.

LOU GIRARDIN

Stoke, Nelson

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Which prompted this reponse from a David Did It respondant,

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Is Lou Girardin (Letters, July 2) a former detective, private investigator, or just a CSI-type programme devotee? He criticises police investigations into the Bain murders and their responses to fanciful media revelations.

Police entered a shambolic hovel in Every St, Dunedin, in 1994 to find five Bain family members shot dead. Many, including Ms/Mr Girardin, I suspect, assumed that Robin Bain was the deranged killer.

He was so deranged that he typed, rather than scribbled, a note to his surviving son, leaving none of his fingerprints or blood on the keyboard. He then contorted himself to shoot himself through the temple, with the silencer still on the rifle. Why risk a non-fatal wound?

It wouldn’t have mattered to him (and any of the corpses) if that last shot were heard; a barrel in the mouth would have been more certain.

Then, after shooting himself, he either removed his rubber gloves or wiped his incriminating fingerprints from the murder- suicide weapon – deranged but clinically efficient?

In my view, it’s an open-and- shut case. Your letter-writer deserves a Tui.

PHILIP LYNCH

Elderslea

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That was a tad too denigratory, I thought, and dripping with sarcasm and derision hardly seems a fitting way to conduct a debate when what we need are facts.

So not one to be left out, I offered my own 10 cents plus 15% GST worth,

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No, Mr Lynch, Lou Giradin is not a “CSI-type programme devotee” (Letters, 4 July). Criticisms  that the police investigation in to the Bain murders was bungled is generally well known and accepted.

The most criticised aspect of the investigation is that neither David nor Robin Bain’s hands were tested for gunpowder residue; Robin Bain’s hands were not covered in plastic to protect valuable evidence; and scrappings were not taken from beneath Robin Bain’s finger nails.

However, the marks on Robin Bain’s thumb and finger are a clear indication of gunpowder residue left by re-loading the magazine clip. The measurements match.

As for Mr Lynch complaining about a lack of finger-prints on the murder/suicide weapon, in fact there were many prints, but most were smudged beyond identification.

I refer Mr Lynch to an article on fingerprinting guns, ” Factors Affecting the Recovery of Latent Prints on Firearms”, which states, “…successful development of latent prints on firearms is difficult to achieve. In reality, very few identifiable latent prints are found on firearms.”

The article refers to people who, watching too many TV crime shows, expect pristine prints to be easily recovered from weapons. Unfortunately, this is far from the case.

A Tui to Mr Lynch.
FRANK MACSKASY

(address & phone number supplied)

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The issue of fingerprints is a vexing one.

Because most people’s knowledge of finger-prints in criminal investigations comes from television crime dramas, we have a distorted view of  how easily (or otherwise) they can be retrieved.

This piece offers a clear insight as to the real difficulties involved in retrieving identifiable prints from a firearm,

Latent fingerprint examiners generally know that even when cutting edge technology such as cyanoacrylate fuming and laser/forensic light source examination are utilized, successful development of latent prints on firearms is difficult to achieve. In reality, very few identifiable latent prints are found on firearms, a fact that has been discussed in both the literature [1,2,3] and the judicial system [4]. Fingerprint Specialists at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms San Francisco Laboratory Center have had, however, some success in this endeavor1.

In the examination of 1,000 firearms from February, 1992, through August, 1995, 114 identifiable latent prints were developed on 93 firearms. Although successful recovery occurred in approximately one of ten firearms, it should be understood that not all identifiable latent prints may have been left by an offender. Some developed latent prints, for example, are subsequently identified as belonging to a person involved in the collection of the evidence2.

Jurors have been inundated with fingerprint information from television, movies and newspapers and feel that latent print evidence is a reliable means of establishing positive personal identity [5]. However, jurors are generally under the impression that every item that is touched by fingers or palms will be left with an identifiable latent print impression [6]. If an offender is arrested for possession of a firearms, jurors therefore expect his/her prints to be on it. In fact, most of the time, fingerprint specialists find no identifiable latent prints on firearms. Accordingly, attorneys often call on the fingerprint specialist to explain to the jury the many reasons for the absence of identifiable latent prints. The following reasons make latent print recovery from firearms difficult and when they are recovered, the time of deposition can seldom be determined. The purpose of this paper is to provide information to both technical and non–technical users of fingerprint identification services about what factors affect the recovery of latent prints on firearms.

Source: Factors Affecting the Recovery of Latent Prints on Firearms

(This article appeared as a Technical Report in the Mar/Apr 1997 issue of the Journal of Forensic Identification.)

http://www.scafo.org/library/130303.html

- See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/06/27/a-state-that-cannot-sin/#sthash.HGkSpO3H.dpuf

    Latent fingerprint examiners generally know that even when cutting edge technology such as cyanoacrylate fuming and laser/forensic light source examination are utilized, successful development of latent prints on firearms is difficult to achieve. In reality, very few identifiable latent prints are found on firearms, a fact that has been discussed in both the literature [1,2,3] and the judicial system [4]. Fingerprint Specialists at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms San Francisco Laboratory Center have had, however, some success in this endeavor1.

    In the examination of 1,000 firearms from February, 1992, through August, 1995, 114 identifiable latent prints were developed on 93 firearms. Although successful recovery occurred in approximately one of ten firearms, it should be understood that not all identifiable latent prints may have been left by an offender. Some developed latent prints, for example, are subsequently identified as belonging to a person involved in the collection of the evidence2.

    Jurors have been inundated with fingerprint information from television, movies and newspapers and feel that latent print evidence is a reliable means of establishing positive personal identity [5]. However, jurors are generally under the impression that every item that is touched by fingers or palms will be left with an identifiable latent print impression [6]. If an offender is arrested for possession of a firearms, jurors therefore expect his/her prints to be on it.

    In fact, most of the time, fingerprint specialists find no identifiable latent prints on firearms. Accordingly, attorneys often call on the fingerprint specialist to explain to the jury the many reasons for the absence of identifiable latent prints. The following reasons make latent print recovery from firearms difficult and when they are recovered, the time of deposition can seldom be determined. The purpose of this paper is to provide information to both technical and non–technical users of fingerprint identification services about what factors affect the recovery of latent prints on firearms.

Source: Factors Affecting the Recovery of Latent Prints on Firearms

(This article appeared as a Technical Report in the Mar/Apr 1997 issue of the Journal of Forensic Identification.)

Ironically, when Mr Lynch derided Lou Girardin as a “CSI-type programme devotee“, it is actually those who demand perfect fingerprints on a murder/suicide weapon, who are more clearly influenced by such fantastical TV dramas.

In this matter,  life is not a TV programme.

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Babes and boofheads…

20 June 2013 6 comments

It seems that the sexualisation and exploitation of our daughters continues unabated,

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Facebook 'Babe' page taken down

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Facebook ‘Babe’ page taken down

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A bunch of anonymous kids say  “they don’t see much wrong”  with  taking images of  girls from various  Facebook pages, and reposting it on a sleazy ‘Babe of the Day’ page.

‘I and the other two admins of the page are aware that the page may look a bit creepy but as all three of us are high school students and under 18 ourselves, we don’t think we are doing too much harm.”‘

Acknowledgement: ODT – Concern at pupils ‘babe’ web page

These kids did not ask for permission to use the girls’ pics – there is no consent implied or given. And the kids responsible for the page seem utterly oblivious to a practice which objectifies these girls.

If I were a father with a daughter, and her pic had been lifted and exploited in this way,   I would take a dim view of a bunch of adolescent  boofheads portraying my daughter(s) as objects for someone elses’ gratification.

Our society is sex mad already enough already, without Gen X (or Y or whatever) adding their bit to it.

And the irony of this entire sleazy affair?

One of the administrators of the site, who wished to remain anonymous, defended the page when contacted yesterday.

Acknowledgement: IBID

The administrators of the site, who wished to remain anonymous…”

So they value their anonymity, do they?

I wonder why? If their little past-time is as inoffensive as they believe, why don’t they come forward?

And put their own pics up for people to gawk at?

It appears they value their own privacy.

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A playful “tiff”?!

18 June 2013 8 comments

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Saatchi-Lawson fight a 'playful tiff'

Acknowledgement: TV3 – Saatchi-Lawson fight a ‘playful tiff’

 

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Charles Saatchi, after caught and photographed with his hands around Nigela Lawson’s neck and with a distressed look on her face, has tried to dismiss the incident as a “playful” tiff,

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Nigella-Lawson-Abuse-Photos-Emerge-She-Leaves-Her-Husband

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Saatchi is reported to have “explained” the event thusly,

“About a week ago, we were sitting outside a restaurant having an intense debate about the children, and I held Nigella’s neck repeatedly while attempting to emphasise my point.

 

There was no grip, it was a playful tiff. The pictures are horrific but give a far more drastic and violent impression of what took place. Nigella’s tears were because we both hate arguing, not because she had been hurt.

“We had made up by the time we were home. The paparazzi were congregated outside our house after the story broke yesterday morning, so I told Nigella to take the kids off till the dust settled.”

That didn’t look like a “playful tiff” to me.

But to be absolutely sure, perhaps we could try the same thing on Charles Saatchi; a “playful” – but firm – grip on his throat until he grimaces.

I wonder how “playful” it would be for him?

Two points go through my mind,

1. If he does this sort of thing in public – what the hell is this guy doing to his wife in private, away from public eyes?

2. Note the comment he made;  “so I told Nigella to take the kids off till the dust settled”. “Told”? That sentence reveals Saatchi’s personality; he “tells” his partner what to do. I think we can see what happens when she doesn’t do as she’s told.

There’s an old saying about sounding and looking like a duck, so it most likely ain’t a goat.

This looks like what it is; Saatchi has lost his temper to such a degree that he’s lashed out – forgetting the eyes around him. As I mentioned before; god only knows what goes on behind their four walls.

If this is what it looks like – spousal abuse – then I hope Ms Lawson seeks help. Before her children are indoctrinated that violence between partners is  natural, and they repeat the cycle later in life.

The only “good” thing that comes out of this apalling situation is that domestic violence is out in the open. It is no longer hidden away. And other women may realise that their situation is by no means unique and support  is available.

Domestic violence is not a “playful tiff”.

It is one human being causing harm to another through violence.

Like hands around a neck.

 

 

 

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Parekura Horomia

30 April 2013 2 comments

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Parekura Horomia 1950 - 2013

Parekura Horomia
1950 – 2013

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~ Our condolences to his friends & whanau ~

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Greg King, RIP

3 November 2012 18 comments

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Greg King, R.I.P.

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On TV3 tonight; the shocking news that lawyer Greg King was found dead, by his car.

Our household first became aware of  Mr King on now-defunct TVNZ7′s “The Court Report“, where in half an hour he would explain the arcane workings of our justice system in ways that Joe and Jane Citizen could understand.

His personable approach made the legal system intriguing as well as  easy to comprehend.

Mr King has since appeared elsewhere in the media, explaining his approach to high-profile cases, and further explaining in considered, patience that even the most dubious-appearing individuals deserved a fair go in our Courts.

He was a cool intellect and logic personified. One could feel a keen mind at work, during our brief glimpses of him on our television screens.

This blogger never met Mr King in person, but through his media appearances one got the feeling that he was a decent bloke, and one whose personality would have made him an iconic name in the years ahead.

My condolences go out to his family…

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Categories: People Being People Tags:

Folic Acid vs Vitamin B9

2 September 2012 10 comments

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Folic Acid

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Definition

Folic acid is a water-soluable vitamin belonging to the B-complex group of vitamins. These vitamins help the body break down complex carbohydrates into simple sugars to be used for energy. Excess B vitamins are excreted from the body rather than stored for later use. This is why sufficient daily intake of folic acid is necessary.

Description

Folic acid is also known as folate, or folacin. It is one of the nutrients most often found to be deficient in the Western diet, and there is evidence that deficiency is a problem on a worldwide scale. Folic acid is found in leafy green vegetables, beans, peas and lentils, liver, beets, brussel sprouts, poultry, nutritional yeast, tuna, wheat germ, mushrooms, oranges, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, bananas, strawberries, and cantaloupes. In 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required food manufacturers to add folic acid to enriched bread and grain products to boost intake and to help prevent neural tube defects (NTD).

Purpose

Folic acid works together with vitamin B12 and vitamin C to metabolize protein in the body. It is important for the formation of red and white blood cells. It is necessary for the proper differentiation and growth of cells and for the development of the fetus. It is also used to form the nucleic acid of DNA and RNA. It increases the appetite and stimulates the production of stomach acid for digestion and it aids in maintaining a healthy liver. A deficiency of folic acid may lead to anemia, in which there is decreased production of red blood cells. This reduces the amounts of oxygen and nutrients that are able to get to the tissues. Symptoms may include fatigue, reduced secretion of digestive acids, confusion, and forgetfulness. During pregnancy, a folic acid deficiency may lead to preeclampsia, premature birth, and increased bleeding after birth.
People who are at high risk of strokes and heart disease may greatly benefit by taking folic acid supplements. An elevated blood level of the amino acid homocysteine has been identified as a risk factor for some of these diseases. High levels of homocysteine have also been found to contribute to problems with osteoporosis. Folic acid, together with vitamins B6 and B12, helps break down homocysteine, and may help reverse the problems associated with elevated levels.
Pregnant women have an increased need for folic acid, both for themselves and their child. Folic acid is necessary for the proper growth and development of the fetus. Adequate intake of folic acid is vital for the prevention of several types of birth defects, particularly NTDs. The neural tube of the embryo develops into the brain, spinal cord, spinal column, and the skull. If this tube forms incompletely during the first few months of pregnancy a serious, and often fatal, defect results in spina bifida or anencephaly. Folic acid, taken from  one year to one month before conception through the first four months of pregnancy, can reduce the risk of NTDs by 50-70%.It also helps prevent a cleft lip and palate.
Research shows that folic acid can be used to successfully treat cervical dysplasia, a condition diagnosed by a Pap smear, of having abnormal cells in the cervix. This condition is considered to be a possible precursor to cervical cancer, and is diagnosed as an abnormal Pap smear. Daily consumption of 1,000 mcg of folic acid for three or more months has resulted in improved cervical cells upon repeat Pap smears.
Studies suggest that long-term use of folic acid supplements may also help prevent lung and colon cancer. Researchers have also found that alcoholics who have low folic acid levels face a greatly increased possibility of developing colon cancer.

Preparations

To correct a folic acid deficiency, supplements are taken in addition to food. Since the functioning of the B vitamins is interrelated, it is generally recommended that the appropriate dose of B-complex vitamins be taken in place of single B vitamin supplements. The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for folate is 400 mcg per day for adults, 600 mcg per day for pregnant women, and 500 mcg for nursing women. Medicinal dosages of up to 1,000-2,000 mcg per day may be prescribed.

Precautions

Folic acid is not stable. It is easily destroyed by exposure to light, air, water, and cooking. Therefore, the supplement should be stored in a dark container in a cold, dry place, such as a refrigerator. Many medications interfere with the body’s absorption and use of folic acid. This includes sulfa drugs, sleeping pills, estrogen, anti-convulsants, birth control pills, antacids, quinine, and some antibiotics. Using large amounts of folic acid (e.g., over 5,000 mcg per day) can mask a vitamin B12 deficiency and thereby risk of irreversible nerve damage.

Side effects

At levels of 5,000 mcg or less, folic acid is generally safe for use. Side effects are uncommon. However, large doses may cause nausea, decreased appetite, bloating, gas, decreased ability to concentrate, and insomnia. Large doses may also decrease the effects of phenytoin (Dilantin), a seizure medication.

Source:  The Free Dictionary

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Overdose risks

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The risk of toxicity from folic acid is low, because folate is a water-soluble vitamin and is regularly removed from the body through urine.

Source: Vitamins and minerals: efficacy and safety, U.S. National Library of Medicine

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Folic Acid. Folate. Vitamin B9. Vitamin Bc. Folacin. Pteroyl-L-glutamic acid.  Pteroyl-L-glutamate. Pteroylmonoglutamic acid. Take your pick.

All different names to one of many naturally occurring compounds which our (and other animals) bodies need to survive.

Before western society decided to process the hell out of our foods, we ingested Folic Acid/Vitamin B9 in vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, lettuce, cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, beans, peas,  lentils, bananas, oranges, peaches, Sunflower seeds, and meats such as liver and poultry, etc.

See:  Foods rich in folic acid and vitamin B12

So it’s not exactly some weird concoction, brewed up  by a mad scientist slaving over bubbling beakers and arcing electrodes in Victor von Frankenstein’s basement,

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When the issue first arose in 2009, the debate whether to add Folic Acid/Folate/Vitamin B9/Vitamin Bc/Folacin/Pteroyl-L-glutamic acid/Pteroyl-L-glutamate/Pteroylmonoglutamic acid to all breads,  was lost on Day One  when the vitamin was referred tro as “Folic Acid”.

This blogger will be the first to admit that  had never heard of “folic acid” or “folate”.

Folic acid… Sounded suspiciously like hydrochloric acid… sulphuric acid… hydroflouric acid…  Nasty chemicals which have no place in the human body.

Except that the unfortunately-sounding apellation – folic acid – had nothing to do with any of the above tissue-damaging chemicals above. Like ascorbic acid – aka, ascorbate or Vitamin C.

Like most  people, the substance was more recognisable with it’s more benign label; Vitamin B9. A quick googling soon informed me that folic acid = Vitamin B9.

*whew*

Panic over.

Visions of a nefarious government secret agency lacing our food with ACID were dispelled.

But… how many other people failed to make the connection? Most folk have only a basic understanding of  Nature and science. Fears arise easily – especially when things have gone terribly wrong in history…

Atomic power… asbestos… pesticides… thalidomide… chloroflurocarbons… human-produced atmospheric CO2… History is littered with triumphs of science and technology – only to learn later that there were unintended consequences.

Heck, the Ancient Romans used to store and  drink wine from urns made from lead. Wine is acidic… and it leeched lead from it’s vessels. The consequential lead poisoning must have been horrific.

The 21st century version of lead-poisoning in antiquity is plastic bottles containing BPA (bisphenol A) – which has been discovered to have nasty effects on the human body.

See: BPA Chemical Leaches From Hard Plastic Drinking Bottles Into The Body, Study

When humans are unfamiliar with something, they are naturally cautious and wary. (A survival trait, no doubt, when our ancestors had to cope with poisonous plants, big nasty  insects, hungry sabre-tooth tigers, and other perils of  Paleolithic Earth.)

The reality  of Vitamin B9 was  simple and straight forward; it was a natural compound that could reduce the incidence of Neural Tube Defects. But even that term – Neural Tube Defects – meant nothing to the average Bloke and Blokette.  It was a vague medical term that  99% of us had never heard before.

Another way to explain Neural Tube Defects is spina bifida (one form of NTD),

The human nervous system develops from a small, specialized plate of cells along the back of an embryo. Early in development, the edges of this plate begin to curl up toward each other, creating the neural tube—a narrow sheath that closes to form the brain and spinal cord of the embryo. As development progresses, the top of the tube becomes the brain and the remainder becomes the spinal cord. This process is usually complete by the 28th day of pregnancy. But if problems occur during this process, the result can be brain disorders called neural tube defects, including spina bifida…

… Spina bifida, which literally means “cleft spine,” is characterized by the incomplete development of the brain, spinal cord, and/or meninges (the protective covering around the brain and spinal cord). It is the most common neural tube defect in the United States – affecting 1,500 to 2,000 of the more than 4 million babies born in the country each year.

See: MedicineNet.com – Spina Bifida (Neural Tube Defect)

Whilst many with spina bifida can walk with assistance-devices, others will be confined to wheelchairs for their entire lives.

Many will have problems with urination, having to use plastic catheters inserted into their urethra/penis to urinate. Some will need hygiene pads to contain uncontrollably excreted faeces in their underwear. Others have other surgically-enhanced techniques for relieving themselves.

A number will require ongoing surgery to address complications caused by their condition,

Some children will need subsequent surgeries to manage problems with the feet, hips, or spine. Individuals with hydrocephalus generally will require additional surgeries to replace the shunt, which can be outgrown or become clogged.

Some individuals with spina bifida require assistive devices such as braces, crutches, or wheelchairs. The location of the malformation on the spine often indicates the type of assistive devices needed. Children with a defect high on the spine and more extensive paralysis will often require a wheelchair, while those with a defect lower on the spine may be able to use crutches, bladder catherizations, leg braces, or walkers.

Treatment for paralysis and bladder and bowel problems typically begins soon after birth, and may include special exercises for the legs and feet to help prepare the child for walking with braces or crutches when he or she is older.

See: How is spina bifida treated?

For people  with spina bifida, in wheelchairs, they will need ongoing assistance until their final day.  The way they overcome they restricted mobility and challenges  is nothing short of heroic.

There are many things they will struggle with, and many that will be beyond their abilities without varying degrees of assistance.

For  many of us, visiting a friend who happens to live a few dozen steps up from the road is something we do without much consideration. Not so for a person with spina bifida.

Imagine the degradation of being lifted up stairs to enter a building, and being carried up by others. (Not all buildings have electors or ramps, contrary to public perception – and 99.99% of private homes certainly do not have elevators.)

If you’re in a wheelchair, you will most likely never journey through New Zealand’s wilderness.

And going to a beach will most likely involve being carried bodily onto the sand. (Unless they can afford an expensive, specialised, wheelchair.)

A home for a person with spina bifida has be be totally adapted to his/her needs; wheelchair ramps (both front and rear door);  bathroom adapted to be a “wet area”; modified cabinets, benches, oven, sink, in kitchens; lowered light switches, etc.

The State has to provide ongoing assistance in many areas of a wheelchair bound person’s life and home.

Relationships can be more difficult to form, as many people do not see past a wheelchair or crutches.

I encourage an able-bodied person to try to spend 24 hours in a wheelchair. You probably wouldn’t  make it past 30  minutes.

I write this not for pity for people with spina bifida – they don’t need our pity – but for understanding that for every decision we make, there are consequences.

Not adding vitamin B9  to bread will have consequences; women giving birth to babies afflicted with spina bifida.

Critics of fortification use the cliche of  “mass medication” and insist that pregnant women take vitamin B9 supplements to assist their unborn child.

“Mass medication” is a mis-nomer. Vitamin B9 is not “medicine”. It is a natural occurring compound like Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, etc, etc, etc.

And if folic acid/vitamin B9/folate/whatever was so harmful – why are bottles of B9 supplements available in every single supermarket, chemists, health-food shop in New Zealand?

No one has ever suggested that adding Vitamin C to our fruit drinks is “mass medication” – it would be ridiculous to suggest so.

And by the time a woman discovers that she is pregnant, it may be too late to take Vitamin B9 supplements,

Folic acid, taken from  one year to one month before conceptionthrough the first four months of pregnancy, can reduce the risk of NTDs by 50-70%…”

Source:  The Free Dictionary

Where did the campaign, along with the “mass medication” meme, originate? Like many of these fear-campaigns, it’s a matter of ‘following the money‘,

The Bakers’ Association has labelled the compulsory introduction “mass medication” of the population, and warned that bread containing folic acid will be less safe than it is now. “

The Bakers’ Association “mass medication” rhetoric was followed by ex-National MP, and neo-liberal,  Katherine Rich, who was now leading the NZ Food and Grocery Council,

Food and Grocery Council chief executive Katherine Rich said there was no good reason to medicate an entire nation without clear benefits and known risks.

“They are embarking on a medical experiment of grand proportions,” she said. “If there are long-term effects and the Government is keen on adding folic acid, they should indemnify”.”

See: Bakers furious at ‘mass medication’ of NZ’s bread

See previous blogpost: Crony Watch!

The same Katherine Rich who opposed liquor controls for supermarkets and has been a staunch defender of  light-handed regulation of the alcohol industry.

See: Big Alcohol‘s Global Playbook: New markets, reduced regulation and lower taxes

Interesting how two separate business organisations were using similar fear-tactics; “mass medication” (Bakers’ Association) and “medical experiment” (NZ Food and Grocery Council ). And note that the NZ Herald in which those comments were reported is dated 17 May 2009 – one of the very first references to “mass medication”.

These fear tactics were unsupported by any hard facts, and relied on dubious “experts” and dodgy “science”. It was all very convenient for commercial interests that were more concerned at cost – than the health of this nation’s children.

Bomber Bradbury, from the ‘Tumeke’ blog summed it up nicely when he said,

” There was also a torrent of anger about ‘putting stuff in my food, personal choice blah blah blah’. I’m all for the heavy hand of Government regulation if it means avoiding 70+ children each year (abortions plus live births) being born with deformities. I don’t buy into the ‘personal choice’ stuff at all, we all concede certain choices to live together and if putting folic acid into bread reduces deformities, what’s the problem? The issue HAS to be based on the science, and right now there is science that suggests a connection with cancer – if that science is as weak as some have posted here, and is as weak as Gluckman thinks it is, then it should be a 6month review tops to explore that and make a call. Kicking for touch with a 3 year moratorium is weak by Key and means 200 kids + will be born with deformities in those 3 years.

The irony that many claimed this was the ‘nanny state putting medicine in my food’ misses the point that it will be the nanny state who will have to provide for the deformed children.”

See: Folic Acid U-turn wrong call

Bomber Bradbury has hit the nail on the head when he says,

The irony that many claimed this was the ‘nanny state putting medicine in my food’ misses the point that it will be the nanny state who will have to provide for the deformed children.

Bingo!

Profits from bread: privatised.

Massive financial costs of 20+ children born with spina bifida: socialised.

How many times have we heard that?!

Concerns over “increased cancer” fears were dispelled in a discussion on 8 July, on TVNZ’s Q+A, with Andrew Marshall from the Paediatric Society of NZ,

GREG BOYED

First and foremost, a couple of hundred more cases of cancer per year – what are your responses to that?

ANDREW MARSHALL

Completely false. If we look at the United States where they introduced mandatory fortification in ’98, there’s been a reduction in all cancers since that time. So it’s not true it will increase cancer. It reduces cancer overall.

GREG What are your thoughts on Dr Smith’s science, because, as he said, he’s done extensive studies on an extensive number of people.

ANDREW I’ve reviewed his studies. He is very selective in the studies he chooses. He talks about a meta-analysis of 38,000. There’s a different meta-analysis using a similar population – some of the studies overlap – of 35,000, which is much stronger. It shows no relationship with cancer, no increased risk, no statistical risk. So he’s selective in the studies he chooses, and he’s chosen a weaker study which showed a borderline. Even the writers of that study said there was no definite increase; it was borderline.

See: Q+A: Transcript of Andrew Marshall interview

On 2 September 2012, “Food Safety” Minister, Kate Wilkinson was interviewed on TVNZ’s Q+A. Greg Boyd asked why National had decided not to opt to add vitamin B9 to nearly all bread.  In a breath-taking example of ignoring real research and common sense, Wilkinson said,

The decision that was made was really based on consumer choice rather than the science, because, as you know with science, you can have scientists arguing black and scientists arguing white. At the end of the day, the consultation went out. The submissions were clearly in favour of voluntary, so people can make up their own mind whether they want folic acid in their bread or not. “

As Q+A producer, Tim Watkin,  said on the ‘Pundit’  blog,

So the baking industry won the day over the medical folk, not by the strength of their arguments or superiority of their science, but by the weight of numbers.

Bizarre.

We’re an anti-intellectual enough country at the best of times, but to be so cavalier about science is a terrible signal to send.

See: Q+A: Interview with Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson

For Wilkinson to state,

The decision that was made was really based on consumer choice rather than the science…

The clear message is that people want choice.”

… means we have abandoned common sense and policies made for social good,  and allowed commercial interests and the paranoia of a few individuals, to determine the health and safety of our children?!

One must also ask that if National was swayed by “the submissions were clearly in favour of voluntary” – why have they not taken heed of the vast number of submissions opposing state asset sales.

See: Hundreds beg committee to stop sale of state assets

Selective much?

Executive director, John Forman, from The Organisation for Rare Disorders was also  obviously disappointed by National’s decision,

“Up to 20 babies every year will die or be seriously disabled by neural tube defects (NTD) in New Zealand, thanks to the Government’s decision today to keep the fortification of bread voluntary.”

See: Folic acid to remain voluntary

Indeed, whilst we enjoy our “choice” – unborn children do not. Their future lives will be blighted by the choices that we adults have made for them.

Spooked by back-room dealings and manipulations by vested interests, we have allowed ourselves to be panicked and corralled like a bunch of sheep. The food industry maintains its profits by not having to pay for vitamin B9 to be added to bread, and National maintain’s it’s slavish adhrerence to the mantra of “personal choice”.

Another example of the Cult of the Individual, with it’s nasty, self-centered “Me First” attitude, and all it’s dreadful consequences.

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Additional

Bakers furious at ‘mass medication’ of NZ’s bread (May, 2009)

Q + A: Paul Holmes interviews Sue Kedgley and Kate Wilkinson about folic acid (July, 2009)

Minister sides with bakers on folic acid (July, 2009)

Will bill make food safer or be a form of control? (February, 2012)

Folate fortified bread back on table (May, 2012)

Australians beating us over meat labelling (May, 2012)

Folic acid to remain voluntary (August, 2012)

Q+A: Interview with Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson (September, 2012)

Previous blogposts

Crony Watch!

Other blogs

Tumeke: Folic Acid U-turn wrong call (July, 2009)

The Pundit: National’s folic tangle (July, 2009)

Corporations & Health Watch: Big Alcohol‘s Global Playbook: New markets, reduced regulation and lower taxes (December, 2011)

The Pundit: The folate debate – no easy choices (July, 2012)

The Pundit: Get foliced! Now science is just a ‘nice to have‘ (September, 2012)

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Heroes…

29 July 2012 4 comments

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These are people who have made a difference or otherwise stood against injustice and tyranny. They may not always have been successful,  but they remind us of the human spirit to resist injustice and instinctively stand up for what they believe is right.

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The “Tank Man”

“Tank Man” temporarily stops the advance of a column of tanks on June 5, 1989, in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Despite his anonymity, he is commonly (though not necessarily correctly) referred to in Chinese as Wang Weilin (王維林), as dubbed by a Sunday Express article.

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Dame Whina Cooper

Dame Whina Cooper (1895 – 1994) – Dame Cooper’s land-hikoi in 1975 raised awareness of Treaty breaches and vast tracts of Maori land that has been unjustly seized and confiscated by colonial, and more recent, governments. Without doubt, her courage contributed to the formation of the Waitangi Tribunal in 1975 – a model for addressing grievances from First Peoples throughout the world.

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Ray Lewis

Ray Lewis, the retired Philadelphia police captain who became a hero to the Occupy Wall Street movement when he was arrested on 16 November 2011.

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Rami al-Saidd

Rami al-Said – Blogger, Citizen Journalist. Killed in Syrian uprising in February 2012, by forces loyal to the tyrant, Bashar Assad.

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See: Bloggers lament the ultimate sacrifice for freedom

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Sue Bradford

 

Sue Bradford. Ex Green Party MP. In 2005, a parliamentary ballot allowed the discussion of Bradford’s member’s bill, the Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill 2005. The Bill proposed amending Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 to remove the legal defence of “reasonable force” for parents prosecuted for assault on their children. The Bill became law after it passed 113 to 8 on 16 May 2007. The Bill sparked widespread debate largely due its depiction as an “anti-smacking” bill.
New Zealand has one of the worst rates of child abuse, neglect, and murders in the world.
Death threats were made against Ms Bradford in 2007 and 2009, and she was vilified (unfairly), as her Bill was taken up by Labour and supported by National, NZ First, as well as the Greens.

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An Unknown Protester

Protester standing against deforestation crews in the Amazon.

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See:  Youtube Video

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te Whiti O Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi

te Whiti O Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi – leaders of the pacifist community of Parihaka, who led a non-violent resistance in the late 1800s, against theft of their land by colonial forces. They based their non-violent resistance on Christian beliefs. The colonial government responded with 1,500 armed “constables” who attacked and looted Parihaka.

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See:  The History of Parihaka

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Rosa  Parks

Rosa Louise Parks was nationally recognized as the “mother of the modern day civil rights movement” in America. At a time of legally-sanctioned racial segregation, her refusal to surrender her seat to a white male passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, in December 1, 1955, created a wave of protest throughout the United States. Her quiet courage changed America, its view of black people, and changed the course of history.

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See: Rosa Louise Parks Biography

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Categories: People Being People

Tonysavedourport.com – Gone?

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It appears that the pro-POAL Facebook page, “TonySavedOurPort.com has been taken down.

The FB page was set up on or about 13 March,  by an anonymous author, and was a pro-Tony Gibson, pro-company mouthpiece.

The Admin was unapologetic  in his/her pro-company stance, and we can only wonder who was behind it.

It appears that the page may have been shut down as it was “swamped” with people expressing their free opinions that the workers were most definitely in the right – and POAL Board and management were being arses.

FB can be a very effective tool to highlight injustice and promote decent causes.

Not so good, though, for being a propaganda mouthpiece.

Solidarity to the Auckland port workers. You guys are fighting the good fight.

 

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*raises a glass to working-class heroes*

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Acknowledgement

Andrew Parker

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Weak Comments of the Week – 31 March

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This week, two comments by public figures vie for top placing as the Foot in Mouth, Weak Comment of the Week. Both are so unbelievably unconvincing that it speaks volumes about how these people view the public as fools…

Candidate #1: Tony Gibson, CEO of Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL)

However, Ports of Auckland chief executive Tony Gibson said the back down was an attempt to reduce pressure on the supply chain, where the company was “acutely aware” that customers and businesses were hurting. ” – Source

POAL has listened to the wishes of the Court, as well the views of the Mayor and all other stakeholders”, Gibson said. ” – Ibid

Oh gosh, Tony, you think ?!

The port workers collective employment agreement  expired on 30 September 2011, and formal negotiations had been ongoing since 5 August 2011 – over half a year!

In that time, POAL announced an agenda to casualise the workforce ; contract out jobs;  workers have been forced to resort to strike action to secure their jobs and conditions; and the company  exacerbated the crisis with needless, expensive  lockouts.

Even the Employment Court found that the port workers had an “arguable case“.

In all that time, as weeks turned into months, and the intransigence of POAL Board and management worsened, importers and exporters were bleeding money,

Weekly trade worth around $27 million – and $90,000 to $100,000 a week for the port – will instead be rerouted through the ports of Tauranga and Napier from the end of the month.” – Source

Has it taken six months for Tony Gibson to recognise that ” customers and businesses were hurting “?

Nah, rubbish.

Gibson, Pearson, et al, have endured an embarressing bollicking from the Employment Court decision that their lockout was illegal; they had most likely broken the law (vis-a-viz the Employment Relations Act) in terms of bargaining in good faith; and that the Maritime Union had an “arguable case”.

Claiming to be suddenly concerned for the welfare of Auckland businesses and  that  ” the back down was an attempt to reduce pressure on the supply chain ” is disingenuous.

And just a little bit darkly cheeky.

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Candidate #2: Michelle Boag, ex National Party President

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This one is a ‘classic‘, and I think most folk will understand why I had a tough time trying to determine whether Gibson or Boag’s comments merited the most derision,

One of her advisers, anticipating that a confidential settlement might be reached, said it would be wise to include all the people who were aware of the dispute so that if any of them asked afterwards, Bronwyn would not be accused of breaching confidentiality. ”  – Source

The comment refers to Bronwyn Pullar’s letter to her insurance company Sovereign, seeking $14 million in compensation for a head accident she suffered ten years ago. (I make no judgement on this matter. Personal experience with other individuals has shown me that head injuries can create long-lasting mental and emotional effects.)

However, in Ms Pullar’s letter – which yet again was leaked to the media (TVNZ’s “Close Up” programme) – she listed twentyeight people  as members of her supposed “support/advisory team” including Prime Minister John Key, ex-Prime Minister  Jenny Shipley, National Party fundraiser Selwyn Cushing,  and ex-minister Wayne Mapp.

John Key has steadfastly denied any involvement in being  included in the list.

Wayne Mapp and Selwyn Cushing have admitted involvement.

Now, for Ms Boag to suddenly claim that ” it would be wise to include all the people who were aware of the dispute so that if any of them asked afterwards, Bronwyn would not be accused of breaching confidentiality ” – is simply bizarre. It makes no sense.  It is clutching at straws and offering the most feeble excuse imaginable to explain why Ms Pullar’s letter  required 28 high-powered New Zealanders to have their names included in her letter.

In short; bollicks.

Anyone with two inter-connected, firing, neurons would understand that listing 28 prominent individuals would be done for one reason only; to add weight to Ms Pullar’s claim against Sovereign Insurance. In effect, she’s saying, “Look here! I know all these High Ups! Don’t mess with me or they may do ‘XYZ’ to you! So gimme the cash and I’ll go away.”

That would tie in with allegations (unsubstantiated) that she requested two years’ worth of benefits from ACC “to move forward”.

So, no, Ms Boag. Your rational for why those 28 names were included in Ms Pullar’s letter is nonsense. More than that, it’s an insult to our intelligence.

If you’re going to bullshit us, can you at least make it convincing?

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= fs =

How to make a Right Winger spit the dummy…

27 March 2012 1 comment

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… in one easy step,

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Full Story

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The response was vitriolic, on the Comment Board at the conclusion of the story. There appeared to be a definite right-wing flavour to the virulent comments critical of Ms Wade-Brown’s trip. I re-post a few here,

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Phil   #1   08:40 am Mar 27 2012

Why does she not just pick up the phone and call them? Save ratepayers some money maybe? Chinese businesses like to have face to face meetings but I reckon if they want to do business internationally they have to get over it, people cant afford to fly across the world just for them, money is tight right now. In effect, business interests are being subsidized by the ratepayer.

wajoh   #5   09:09 am Mar 27 2012

I wonder if someone could give us the facts & figures of the success or otherwise of this junkets?

anne   #7   09:37 am Mar 27 2012

In times of austerity these sort of trips are a ‘personal want’ than a need,costing the rate payers dearly,there is no need when modern technology exsists. The govt and local govt continue to slap voters with the bills for their wasteful spending on needless endless trips away and social get-togethers.STOP IT NOW.

Shirley   #10   10:34 am Mar 27 2012

What a waste of money perhaps she can spend that money on more nessessary things for NZ – don’t tell me she is going to waste money on flying maybe she could cycle there instead !!!!

Paul   #15   12:58 pm Mar 27 2012

$645 of my money going towards potential business ties? Never. She should stay here and educate people on the new road rules.

missy   #16   01:37 pm Mar 27 2012

What a complete waste of money and time. This is what is wrong with local politics – a trip to China is not one of the CORE RESPONSIBILITIES of Council. And, what about climate change, surely the air miles are also worth noting (seeing as she is a Greenie).

Other comments were simply derogatory ad hominem insults.

But a few, who actually bothered to take the time to read the article in it’s entirety, noticed this aspect of  the impending mayoral trip,

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It is unfortunate that some are so blinded by their politics of enmity, that they can utterly mis-read a media report.

None of Ms Wade-Brown’s trenchant critics referred to the fact that the former mayor, Kerry Prendergast, had led a visit to China only thirteen months prior to the current mayor’s election. But then, Ms Prendergast was closely aligned to the National Party.

Unfortunately, even  the National-leaning (?)  Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce president, Richard Stone,  was half-hearted in his support of mayoral-led delegation, with the caveat that he’d support Ms Wade-Brown’s trip    “if there was demand from businesses“,

Business delegations to China need high ranking political figures to lead them to be succesful.”

So far twenty  businesses have  expressed interest in the trip. So Mr Stone can sleep easy at night.  So can right wing critics.

The city’s $645 will be well spent.

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= fs =

Gerry Brownlee – Diplomat (Part #Rua)

27 March 2012 3 comments

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Brownlee’s “apology”,

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I’m sure that New Zealanders have been the butt of all sorts of jokes at various times and not taken offence at such a thing,” he said.

“If I’ve offended people, I’m sorry about that, all I can say it was meant to be humorous and I apologise for people not seeing the humour in it.

Source

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Gerry Brownlee is sorry because “people [did not see]  the humour”   in his obnoxious comments?! How does that constitute an “apology”??

Gerry – shut the hell  up! You’re digging a bigger hole for yourself and continuing to insult a nation and people that have done nothing to earn your mis-guided  derisory “humour”.

You are an embarressment, Gerry.  I suggest you take a holiday. A longgggg holiday. In fact, don’t bother coming back.

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* * *

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Additional

Facebook Page: Send Brownlee to Finland

Scoop: Lyndon Hood: Brownlee Fighting To The Finnish

Finnish Embassy in Canberra Email address:   “Juha Parikka” <sanomat.can@formin.fi>

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= fs =

From the Magnificent – to the Malevolent; Human Nature at it’s best/worst.

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In  the 3 December 2007 edition of  ‘Time’, Jeffrey Kluger, made this observation,

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We’re a species that is capable of almost dumbfounding kindness. We nurse one another, romance one another, weep for one another. Ever since science taught us how, we willingly tear the very organs from our bodies and give them to one another. And at the same time, we slaughter one another. The past 15 years of human history are the temporal equivalent of those subatomic particles that are created in accelerators and vanish in a trillionth of a second, but in that fleeting instant, we’ve visited untold horrors on ourselves—in Mogadishu, Rwanda, Chechnya, Darfur, Beslan, Baghdad, Pakistan, London, Madrid, Lebanon, Israel, New York City, Abu Ghraib, Oklahoma City, an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania—all of the crimes committed by the highest, wisest, most principled species the planet has produced. That we’re also the lowest, cruelest, most blood-drenched species is our shame—and our paradox.”

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As most of us acknowledge, Kluger is quite right. Human beings are capable of the most heart-rending cruelty – and the most compassionate acts of love and selflessness. It’s hard to credit that we all belong to the same species, Homo Sapiens-Sapiens.

Today, I found two perfect examples of the incredible human capacity for cruelty and caring – not to ourselves – but to other species that co-habit this little blue-green planet.

Firstly, the Malevolent.

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“A man has been banned from owning an animal for 10 years for keeping an elderly dog in such poor condition it died within minutes of SPCA intervention.

It is one of two cases of Aucklanders being brought to justice for abusing pets this week.

Harley Love appeared in the Waitakere District Court yesterday charged with keeping an “animal alive when it is in such a condition that it is suffering unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress”.

The 21-year-old was charged after an SPCA Auckland inspector was called to his Glen Eden home in January and found a 17-year-old German shepherd-type dog collapsed on the back deck.

The SPCA said the dog, named “Troy”, was very thin, covered in patches of live fleas and maggots and was lying in its own excrement.” 

Full Story

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And then this, the Magnificent,

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“The video shows dolphins appearing out of nowhere and suddenly beaching en masse on the Rio de Janeiro state coastline. They were apparently caught in a strong ocean current.

Stunned beachgoers in swimming trunks at first look on as the dolphins high-pitched squeals are heard. But within seconds, people quickly race into the surf to help the dolphins.

Dozens of people are seen swimming into the ocean and dragging the mammals by their tails in an effort to get them back into deeper waters.

And the effort this past Monday was successful. After all the dolphins were rescued, the crowd of dolphin-savers and onlookers broke into cheers.”

Source

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But perhaps the most significant event of heroism was this story, back in 1982. I first heard it thirty years ago, and the thought of the man in the river has stayed with me ever since,

On 13 January, 1982, an Air Florida Boeing 727 plunges into the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., killing 78 people. The crash, caused by bad weather, took place only two miles from the White House.

The Air Florida flight took off from Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, with 74 passengers and 5 crew members on board. The plane had flown into Washington from Miami in the early afternoon and was supposed to return to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, after a short stop. However, snow in Washington temporarily closed the airport. When it reopened, the plane was de-iced with chemical anti-freeze, but the plane still had difficulty moving away from the gate due to the ice. When it eventually made it to the airport’s only usable runway, it was forced to wait 45 minutes for clearance to take off.

Not wanting to further delay the flight, the pilot, Larry Wheaton, did not return for more de-icing, and worse, failed to turn on the plane’s own de-icing system. In fact, the pilot and co-pilot discussed the situation, and the co-pilot said “It’s a losing battle trying to de-ice these things. It gives you a false sense of security, that’s all it does.” During the delay, however, ice was accumulating on the wings, and by the time the plane reached the end of the runway, it was able to achieve only a few hundred feet of altitude.

Thirty seconds later, the plane crashed into the 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac River, less than a mile away from the runway. Seven vehicles traveling on the bridge were struck by the 727 and the plane fell into the freezing water. It was later determined that 73 of the people on board the plane died from the impact, leaving only six survivors in the river. In addition, four motorists died in the crash.

Terrible traffic in Washington that day made it difficult for rescue workers to reach the scene. Witnesses didn’t know what to do to assist the survivors who were stuck in the freezing river. Finally, a police helicopter arrived and began assisting the survivors in a very risky operation.

Two people in particular emerged as heroes during the rescue: Arland Williams and Lenny Skutnik. Known as the “sixth passenger,” Williams survived the crash, and passed lifelines on to others rather than take one for himself. He ended up being the only plane passenger to die from drowning. When one of the survivors to whom Williams had passed a lifeline was unable to hold on to it, Skutnik, who was watching the unfolding tragedy, jumped into the water and swam to rescue her. Both Skutnik and Williams (along with bystander Roger Olian) received the Coast Guard Gold Lifesaving Medal. The bridge was later renamed the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge.”

Source

Human beings… with  our minds and hearts,  we are capable of such magnificent acts of goodness.

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And from our “Only in New Zealand” files…

31 January 2012 3 comments

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This article from today’s “Dominion Post” deserves re-printing in full,

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Complaints as nudists hit Peka Peka

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KAY BLUNDELL

Last updated 05:00 31/01/2012

Nudists parading on Peka Peka Beach are again sparking complaints to police.

The complaints come ahead of a “skinny-dipping by moonlight” event being promoted to mark the next full moon.

Naturist group Free Beaches is inviting people throughout New Zealand to cast off their inhibitions and enjoy swimming without togs “when the great ivory ball creates a silver, rippling path across the dark blue sea” on February 8.

Sergeant Noel Bigwood, of Otaki, said police had responded to two complaints around Peka Peka during the holiday period. The first was from a father concerned about a nude man parading in front of families at the northern end of the beach.

Mr Bigwood went to look for the man but could not find him. While at the beach, he spoke to two young women, both aged about 20, asking whether they had seen a nude man walking along the beach and whether they had been offended. They told him: “Oh yes, because he was old and ugly.”

Mr Bigwood, 58, said that was a bit tragic. “The man was described as about 45 years old. You can imagine how I felt – not great.”

Nudity is allowed on Kapiti beaches as long as it is not offensive to other beachgoers.

Police also responded to a complaint about two nude men spotted near the Te Hapua Rd beach entrance, north of Peka Peka, which is a popular spot for gay men.

“As long as they keep out of the face of families and stay in reasonable seclusion, who can be offended?”

Asked about the full moon event, he said: “Skinny dipping per se is not a problem. Without revealing too much, I can highly recommend it. My only concern is water safety.”

Source

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Nice to read a bit of worldly humour from our local “Bobbies“. Too often our police are presented in a dour, negative, or critical manner in the media.  Occassionally though, we see a glimpse of their humanity and the humour which – I guess -  would be major requirement  to do the kind of work so necessary for our society’s wellbeing.

I also felt  Sergeant Bigwood’s “pain”, when the young women in the Dompost piece said,

“Oh yes, because he was old and ugly.”

I cringed as well.

Perhaps I’ll be thinking twice before hitting our local beach in the near future? Is there a beach reserved exclusively for 50+ “old and ugly” males? Where we can dive carefree into the waves – instigating mini-tsunamis in the process, that will eventually find their way to  shorelines in South America and Antarctica?

I had the pleasure of a brief chat with Sgt Bigwood. And yes, folks, I can report that his sense of humour is not mis-reported in the Dompost.  His light-hearted personality came through and even over the phone, he came across as a likeable chap.

Those on the wrong-side of the law in Otaki  must have a hard time dis-liking the Sergeant. It would be enough to make someone go straight!

Sgt Bigwood confirmed that he regularly patrols Otaki Beach, going “under cover as a flabby, paunchy middle aged” man…

I enquired where he might put his police ID number, and where he might hang his… [comment withheld for good taste].

He laughed and replied that he always patrolled the beach fully clothed, “for the benefit of everyone concerned”.

I replied that I understood, and suggested that with his sense of humour he would be welcomed as our local  “bobby”.

Sadly though, the sergeant replied that he was due for retirement in June, and would be heading of overseas to his “exotic wife’s homeland”.

Thailand? Morroco?

“No, Britain,” he replied.

However, Sgt Bigwood fully intends to return to New Zealand in a year or two after his “Big OE”, as he has too many grand children to leave behind.

We wish the sergeant all the best for the remainder of his career; his impending retirement; and a safe journey overseas. We hope he eventually returns in good health, and humour. (The latter would be a ‘given’, I’m thinking.)

The only thing is, if I ever meet up with Sgt Bigwood on Otaki Beach, would I recognise him without his uniform…?

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What is wrong with (some) people?!?!

16 January 2012 1 comment

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Perusing the on-line news section of  Radio NZ, I was struck by this short story,

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Source

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Help me out here, folks, ‘cos this is another one of our recent (?) behaviours that has me utterly perplexed. Now call me kinda old fashioned… But what kind of moron doesn’t let an ambulance pass?!?!

Perhaps it’s just another one of those human behaviours that has been with us, since the first Cave Child graffitied a nice piece of cave wall-art, about a zillion years ago.

Or, perhaps it’s an unpleasant reminder of the quantum-shift in some peoples’ thinking, that they are more important than anything/anyone else – including an ambulance with lights and sirens blazing/blaring, as the medics try to save some poor schmuck who is bleeding to death…

Perhaps nothing better illustrates the  Ayn-Randian-Me-First attitude, that neo-liberalism espouses, than someone who refuses to move over because… well, because they don’t want toHell, I pay my taxes! I have a right to be on the road!! Screw everyone else!!

If that’s the case, I hope such people are a tiny, tiny, tiny minority. But, judging by the selfishness expressed on many internet fora – I sadly think not.

Just like the able-bodied person who parks in a Disabled Person’s carpark… “Hey, I’ll only be a few minutes!” Or, “Hey, why should they get all the best carparks?!”

Or the smoker who doesn’t care a hoot about lighting up in a car, with children in the car beside him/her  (I’ve seen this myself)… “Hey, f****n nanny state isn’t going to tell me where I can or can’t smoke!

And of course, there are the drunk drivers (those that are still alive) who drink; drive; and just don’t care.

It’s all human selfishness.

Once upon a time, selfishness was deemed an undesirable virtue. Now, there is practically an entire political ideology built around it.

Anyway, the point is simple: People! See the ambulance? Get out of the way! It could be your friend or family member they’re racing to assist!

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And if you see some idiot holding up an ambo or fire appliance, despite  lights and siren going full tit…

Use your cellphone; dial *555; and report the idiot.

The next life you save could be someone precious to you.

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Support & Donations

St John Ambulances

Wellington Free Ambulances

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Interview: Angie, the Earthquake Angel

7 January 2012 3 comments

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Shortly after the December 23 earthquake that rocked Christchurch, Wellington woman Angie – a 37 year old civil servant on her Christmas break – did something quite extraordinary that few of us would consider doing. A couple of days after the massive 5.8 and 6.00 magnitude ‘quakes, Angie arrived at a decision: she  was going to Christchurch to help.

I wanted to go down to help with the physical clean up“,  she said, as we chatted over some Bavarian cheesecake at our home north of Wellington, “I had felt guilty about not being able to go down after the February quake when they were originally calling for volunteers.

I should take a moment to describe Angie; she is a vivacious woman; much younger looking than her actual age; with an easy-going personality; and smiles easily. She also has a character that can best be summed up as head-strong and determined.  When she arrives at a decision, she doesn’t back away.

So she packed a small backpack and headed south. Once in Christchurch, she headed to Hammer Hardware where she invested in a brand-new shovel. Cost: $40. Sense of community spirit: priceless.

She then hooked up with the Student Volunteer Army, and got stuck in, shovelling dried (and occassionally still wet and heavy) liquefaction from the back yards of elderly people, and in one case, a one-armed resident.

The “drill” was simple; arrive at an allocated property; get stuck in in; shovel a tonne or two of liquefaction into wheel barrows; take out to the street; dump. Trucks would pick up the mounds of grey sand-silt at some later stage.

Angie says that the collected waste is being trucked to Bottle Lake Forest Park, where 500,000 tonnes of silt and eight million tonnes of rubble are awaiting recycling.   She wonders if there is any end to it.

Angie describes the people she has met; her fellow Student Volunteer Army colleagues; and smirks when she describes meeting Christchurch mayor, Bob Party and his wife, at a RIP Party at a Parklands Park. RIP, she explains, stands for “Red In Parklands”.

The street party was part of a local campaign to get their area “Red Zoned”. Many wore caps with “RIP” emblazoned on them.

So many people, explains Angie, “are sick of it all; angry; and have had enough“. She adds,

If I had any close people to me, down there, I’d be getting them out.”

A little later, she gives us a slide-show presentation. The images are disturbing and give us a better insight into just how badly damaged Christchurch really is.

In all, Angie spent three days, shovelling, and working with the SVA. There is a hint of skepticism in her voice, as she described Parker at the Parklands street party,

He thanked us for helping which was nice… but I’d have preferred him to come out shoveling with us.  People see him 50/50 – some like him, some don’t.”

She was also disdainful that the Student Volunteer Army seemed to be bearing some of the costs themselves. From what she saw, they covered their own petrol and cellphone costs, and these would add up substantially with the sheer volume of jobs.  She thought they could really do with assistance for these costs.

At the same time, she had heard that tradesmen were being charged out at $150 an hour, by the main contracting companies.

Angie then added that the ANZ and ASB had contributed by way of wheelbarrows and tools, and that ASB staff in particular were out, in the community helping to dig out and remove liquefaction. She showed us images of ASB staff, in their bright yellow t-shirts, shovelling liquefaction from an elderly woman’s back yard and garden.

It was the fourth time the woman’s yard had been covered in this horrible, ubiquitous grey silt, and her vege garden had suffered  the worse for it. The woman had been very appreciative of  Angie and others turning up to help clean up the mess, and had said,

I can’t pay you , I haven’t got any money. But help yourselves to as much rhubarb from the garden as you like.”

At another property which Angie helped to clean, she excused herself to go use the portaloo that was located some distance from the house she was working at. Mrs Miller (80)  replies,

Oh no! Use my toilet. It flushes!”

Angie says that the woman was quite proud when she said that.

At another house, which was on a distinct tilt, Angie was advised that even cakes came out lop-sided from the oven.

Many streets in Christchurch were deserted, said Angie. Entire neighbourhoods were gone, and properties were being over-run with weeds, with  windows boarded up. But it was the unnatural silence in these streets that she found most unnerving.

Having seen photos of the streets she described, they remind me of post-apocalyptic movies such as “The Omega Man” and “The Quiet Earth“.

One particular point that Angie was quite emphatic about; despite being weary of the constant shaking of the ground beneath their feet and the destruction around them, none of the Cantabrians she spoke to felt sorry for themselves. Instead, a common  response was that there was someone else worse off than themselves. Their humour was very much in evidence.

Angie felt that they were trying to be strong for their children. The elderly, she believed, were the worst affected,

The young can leave and go somewhere else. The elderly can’t go anywhere.

Although in one case, we saw an image of a deserted retirement home. Derelict  buildings. Cracked paths. Weeds everywhere. More post-apocalyptic visions we never expected; in our country; during our lifetime.

She has watched the docu-movie, “When a City Falls“, and recommends it as being truthful and honest in it’s portrayal of what she herself experienced.

Before Angie left Christchurch, she donated her  well-used shovel to the Student Volunteer Army. The SVA co-ordinator wrote her name on it, and said “you can have it again when you come back.”

Angie is now back in Wellington and ready to begin work again on Monday. Her experience in Christchurch has taken a toll on her, and she obviously feels greatly for the folk of that city.

When I asked her how she was feeling, she replied,

It was a lot of work. I wonder if it was worth it. For them it’s the fourth time they’ve gone through all this. I wonder why they aren’t feeling more angry, more sorry for themselves.”

Maybe they can’t afford to“, I replied.

Angie then asked us if we felt the December 3 earthquake, in Wellington. I replied that we hadn’t; we had been on the road, driving, and couldn’t feel the shaking.

Angie said she had been at a sports stadium in Wellington that evening, attending a women’s roller derby event. When the quake hit, the Wellington audience rushed for the doors, in a desperate hurry to leave the building.

At the same time, the Christchurch roller derby team came flying out of their changing rooms. They had smiles on their faces, and skated around the ring, unconcerned.

I guess they weren’t going to let a little shaking ruin their evening.

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A Photographic Journal of Angie’s Christchurch Experience

(Captioned by Angie)

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How often do you get to meet one of your favourite NZ artists??? As chance would have it, I just about walked straight into Peter Donnelly as soon as I arrived in New Brighton! Really lovely guy and interesting character. Sadly, he has lost a lot of his creative ability since February's quake so can't work on canvas... but he still gets out to share his beautiful creations down at the New Brighton Pier. To see something beautiful which will make your day, go to YouTube and type in "Sand Dancer". WOW!!! I'm still buzzing that I got to meet him!

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Here's one-armed Micky. We helped dig out his liquefaction and he showed me his faces he made in the silt mound. Despite having one arm he could use a shovel as good as we could. All he could say was how lucky he was because his house was still standing, and he no longer has to weed his garden!

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This man is called "Dem". He's a Seismic Geologist/ex Army/Engineer, and is one of the founders of the Student Volunteer Army. His knowledge and experience is incredible, and he is one of the few people in Christchurch getting out and actually helping the people - FOR FREE. If you live in the worst hit suburbs, chances are he came knocking on your door to see if you were okay and then arranged volunteers to clean up your section. I want him to run for Mayor, as I believe he is Christchurch's most valuable asset.

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This was the backyard of a 90 year old couple in baker street. The silt was about 2 feet deep. 15 volunteers, 15 shovels, 8 wheelbarrows, 3 hours of hard yakka and much humour and nek minnit...

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Nek minnit they have their path back!

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You work all day shoveling the silt out, then another quake brings it all back again. This pic shows a small sinkhole... You gotta hope that your house isn't built on top of one.

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80 year old Mrs Miller's house which the volunteers worked on. She described Gerry Brownlee as "a fat white slug". I was outside about to use the street portaloo, when she said "Oh come in and use mine dear - it flushes!" beaming with pride, as if she was the first in the street to get television. Her sweetness just about shattered our hearts, and I hate to think this is how she and countless other elderly in the eastern suburbs are going to spend the rest of their days.

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Because her whole house is now sloping, no cupboards or doors can shut properly. She is living here on her own in a deserted street. Everyone else has left.

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This was the home of Steph and her husband, who had polio, so we helped them shift this giant mound of silt out onto the street. They needed it moved so they could shift out their furniture as they are off to live in Rolleston. Another abandoned house in a deserted street.

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It's like Chernobyl out here in the forgotten eastern suburbs. Everyone has abandoned their homes. Desolate streets wherever you look and the silence is deafening.

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At least they still have their humour!

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Look at their garage door! That's because the whole house has sunk into the ground.

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Look closely at the vertical blinds... They are hanging straight. It's the rest of the house which has sunk...

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Their house is completely stuffed and had been red zoned. Very unsettling... I couldn't wait to get out. They spoke about baking a lopsided cake in their lopsided oven because of their lopsided floor! They are a lovely older couple whose children have moved out, but they have adopted a guy with Down Syndrome called Bruce. When I walked in, Bruce showed me out the back window... the silt was at least 3 feet deep and the worst I'd seen.

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This was outside Bruce's window. This liquefaction covers the whole of the yard.

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Inside Bruce's house. Remember - gravity means that those hanging vertical blinds are true vertical. It's the rest of the house which is on an angle. You could roll a tennis ball from one end of the floor to the other! It was like being at Wanaka Puzzleworld.

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This is the only available toilet in the neighbourhood. Imagine having to get up in the middle of the night, walk half a block down the road just to get to use this crappy Portaloo.

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Look at the tilt this house is on. It has been red-zoned, but I think they are still living there.

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Look at the guttering line. This house is completely on the piss!

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You never feel safe going to the shops when they have to be propped up like this.

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Says it all really!

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These lovely people came over from Rangiora with a 4-wheel drive and a trailer to help shift the silt mountain. They didn't know the occupants, they just came in and started helping.

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To give you an idea of work, that silt mound in the previous pic took 5 strong adults with two wheelbarrows and a trailor about 2.5 solid hours to move out onto the street. That was only the silt from their front yard... just one house, among thousands of houses in much worse condition.

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Meanwhile, on my way to Hagley Park to partake in the NYE celebrations, this was as close as I could get to the CBD red zone.

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You feel very unsettled walking past these sites.

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NYE - let's hope 2012 is kinder to Cantabrians. Poor buggers have been through more than enough.

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Another red zone abandoned house. See how the water is inside their house as well as out.

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Another bad case of liquefaction. The doors can no longer be opened.

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Beautiful homes broken... whole neighbourhoods now deserted. Only one or two elderly remain in this whole street because they have nowhere else they can go. Who will check on them?

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Yep - it's a bitch.

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These appear everywhere.

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The people of Parklands, one of the most affected areas, put on a bit of a party on New Years day. There's Bob Parker in the cap who I got to meet. (Hard to recognise without his trademark orange jacket with the sleeves rolled up....) He thanked Dem and I for our work which was quite nice, but I'd have preferred him to come out with us and help shovel some silt.

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Mental note: Stay the hell away from a guy who has a shed like this one. I'm sure it looked like crap even before the earthquake!

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This was my last job on 1/1/12 before flying home to Wellington. I couldn't understand how this old man's shed was still standing... and I didn't really like being in here! Luckily there were no aftershocks. Check out the floor...

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This was what was outside the shed. It is like walking on the moon or something. This gives a good indication of the thickness of it all.

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It's wet, sloppy, heavy, and smelly! This is very recent liquefaction, unlike the other stuff we shoveled which was nice and powdery.

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Imagine this going all through your house. Reckon the EQC or your insurance company, or the government will help you out? Think again!!! Dem and the Student Volunteer Army have done more work than all those organisations put together. While they are talking and planning, Dem is out there doing and fixing.

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I lost count of how many of these I did, but this was the worst job by far because of the liquidy consistency.

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What an amazingly  strong sense of community spirit, to spend her own money; travel to a city she had no connection with; and help people she did not know by shovelling silt for three days almost non-stop..

Imagine if such community spirit was more prevalent in our society. Oh, the things we could accomplish.

Thank you, Angie. And to all the other good people who have lent a hand.

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Outside Mrs Miller's house.

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Hope.

It says it all, really.

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Additional

Geonet: Dec 23 2011 – Christchurch hit again at Christmas

Christchurch Quake Map

Student Volunteer Army (SVA)

TVNZ: Residents want ChCh suburb Red-Zoned

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Haere ra, Carmen

16 December 2011 1 comment

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You got my vote, Carmen. You were one of those special people; unique and your own person.

The world is a slightly lesser place because of your passing.

Farewell…   

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Categories: People Being People Tags: ,

Good onya, mate…

16 December 2011 1 comment

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Full Story

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The problem I have with these “Honours” is that the public have no say in the matter.

As far as I can see, they are issued to politicians and wealthy businesspeople – not exactly community-minded, and often on dubious grounds.

I’d be more inclined to offer these Honours to the folks working in our community, helping the vulnerable; mentally unwell; troubled children; abused women and families… the ones who pick up the pieces from negligent government policies.

For example, Women’s Refuge which this year suffered an $800,000 cut from government – whilst the NZ Defence Force received $20 million funding for advertising. “Advertising“?!?!

Personally, I’d rather see an Honour given to Bryan Bruce who recently produced the excellent documentary, “Inside NZ: Child Poverty“. Bruce has earned our respect for his diligence in reminding us that NZ faces some seriously critical problems surrounding  poverty.

If that doesn’t merit recognition – what does?

As for Ritchie McCaw – I wish him a long and successful career. He’s an excellent role-model for our young folk. (And a good sportsperson as well.)

Sometimes, the best recognition doesn’t need a title.

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