Archive for 29 February 2012

Blogger’s Lament – The Ultimate Sacrifice for Freedom

29 February 2012 5 comments


Rami al-Said - Blogger, Citizen Journalist, and a gutsy bloke


Last week, a Syrian blogger and citizen journalist,  by the name of Rami al-Said paid the ultimate price; he was killed by the military forces of despotic dictator, war criminal,  and disgusting excuse for a human being,  Bashar Assad.

Rami al-Said was reporting from the Syrian city of Homs – which as most of us know by now – is being pounded to rubble by a mad dictator’s army. Rami al-Said refused to leave, and instead chose to report on the genocide that was taking place.

One of  Rami al-Said’s last posts on his Facebook page stated,

“”Baba Amro [a suburb of Homs] is being wiped out now, complete genocide, I don’t want you to tell us our hearts are with you because I know that, I want projects everywhere inside and outside I want everyone to go out in front of the embassies in al…l countries everywhere because we are soon to be nothing, there will be no more Baba Amr – I expect this is a final letter to you and we will not forgive you.””

People have an instinctive fear of harm, injury, violence, and death. It’s part of our sense of self-preservation – that intrinsic, evolutionary urge to stay alive and stay out of harm’s way.

But every so often, human beings set aside that sense of self-preservation; their anger and indignation at an injustice overcomes their most basic fears (or at least pushes it to one side); and individuals and groups refuse to run away. They stand, and by the gods, they fight back.

History is full of such deeply heroic people. Whether they be poorly armed resistance fighters in various occupied countries during Europe’s darkest days under the tyranny of  Nazism; or young Hungarian teenagers facing tanks from the Soviet Red Army in 1956; or unarmed citizens in China’s Tiananmen Square in  1989 – there is an indomitable spirit that refuses to bow down and surrender.

I don’t know what it must feel like to experience such a sense of self that confronts bombs, bullets, torture, and death. Living in a comfortable, peaceful, existence here in New Zealand, it is an utterly alien concept to me. I can’t even begin to guess at how and why such ordinary, heroic, people can set aside their fear of death to stand up to bullies who can bomb a city into dust.

But I can – and do –  feel a deep abiding respect and admiration for people like Rami al-Said, who died when he could have escaped Homs; and whose only “fault” was being there, and reporting to the outside world what crimes were being committed against ordinary men, women, and children.


Rami al-Said

1986 – 2012

Blogger & Citizen Journalist

Husband & Father

One of the good guys  –


Rest assured, Rami – one day Syria will be free. Your death – and those of your fellow Syrians – will not have been in vain.





Syria blogger reportedly killed in shelling

Syrias citizen journalists: we expect to be killed



Categories: Global Tags: , , ,

Great Myths Of The 21st Century (#2)

29 February 2012 7 comments


Full Story


Mana Party leader Hone Harawira accuses National of  of “beneficiary bashing”.

That’s because what Key, Bennett, et al, are doing is beneficiary-bashing.

For example,

From July, up to 14,000 teenagers aged 16 and 17 who are not in education, work or training and teen parents aged 16 to 18 will be coupled with a private provider to help them with budgeting courses, parenting courses, training or job-hunting.

Their basic costs such as rent and power will be paid by the state, and they will have a payment card for living costs that can be monitored to ensure they do not buy alcohol or cigarettes.” – Source

Strange…  I thought it was already illegal for retailers to sell alcohol and  cigarettes to 16 and 17 year olds?

What is the point of a payment card when 16 and 17 year old should not be sold these products in the first place? If retailers are breaking the law, then isn’t that a legal matter instead of a welfare issue?

Another example,

This package is about upskilling those people, getting them the right training and I just love that it’s got that incentive element to it so … instead of being punitive and sanctioning, we’re actually saying they can get up to $30 a week extra and I think that is really rewarding and what is needed.” – Paula Bennett, 28 February 2012

“Upskilling” and “training” – Righto…

In which case, Ms Bennett might care to explain why she cut back on the Training Incentive Allowance which she herself benefitted from, when she was on the DPB?

Ms Bennett doesn’t like to be reminded of her own experience on the DP,  given that she used the Training Incentive Allowance and other state assistance, to put herself through University,

I’ve always proudly stood up and said I’ve had benefit from the welfare state and I’m incredibly grateful for it. To now have that being used against me, I think is offensive to those people who are on benefits and trying to better their lives.” – 21 July 2009

Her faux sensitivity is in marked contrast to a remark she made, two years later,

I know many people are frustrated that they and their colleagues and family work hard to support themselves while people on benefits receive state assistance.” – 14 August 2011

Classic doublethink, Ms Bennett! Doubleplusgood!

John Key and his colleagues should be fully aware that there simply aren’t the jobs for the 150,000+ unemployed,




There we have it,

New Zealand finance bosses are feeling good about the economic recovery, but research shows that optimism doesn’t extend to hiring new staff.

And when there are job vacancies, we get tragic situations like these,


Any employment opportunity is being snapped up as the New Zealand job market continues to tighten, with a new supermarket in New Plymouth receiving almost 10 applications for every job available.  Progressive Enterprises’ new Countdown store, which is due to open in a month’s time, has created 160 new jobs, but the grocery giant received more than 1100 applications for the position.” – NBR, 25 June  2009


“…about 1000 people applied for just 90 jobs at a new McDonald’s in Mount Maunganui, which is due to open next month.” – BoP Times, 10 June  2010


Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Max Mason said he was not surprised at the flood of people applying for the McDonald’s jobs – about 10 people for every job available. “It’s clearly a signal that the employment market is tight,” he said.” – Ibid


Increased competition in Nelson’s job market saw more than 100 jobseekers pack out a room and queue at a Tahunanui tavern yesterday for one of up to 20 jobs at KFC’s new store. ” – Fairfax News, 5 August 2010


When a new supermarket opened today in Auckland it created 150 new jobs, but that was a small comfort for the 2550 people who applied for jobs there and missed out. ” – NZPA, 17 August 2010


Applications have flooded in from jobseekers hoping to be a part of the new Bunnings Warehouse team in Glenfield.Advertisements were placed one week ago for the 124 jobs in sales, administration, customer-service and trade specialist areas, and over 1500 applications have been received so far. ” –, 23 May 2011


After reading about the restaurant’s open recruitment day in The Daily Post, Mr Watson joined 349 people who queued to be interviewed by Wendy’s staff on Thursday last week. He waited for almost two hours for an interview and he was contacted last Friday night to be told he had a job… Initially Wendy’s had planned to employ a crew of 45 but marketing manager Fay Stretch said yesterday the calibre was so good they had employed 51 people and were considering a further six.” – The Daily Post, 15 July 2011


It seems fairly self-evident to all but the most ideologically brain-dead, that the large queues of job-seekers greatly outnumbers the limited vacancies available. The above cases are only the tip of the iceberg.

So for John Key to say that,

“…there are jobs out there, but people aren’t always willing to do them.” – Source

… is a gross insult. Especially when John Key’s own administration is resulting in hundreds of state sector workers being sacked on an almost weekly basis,


Thirty-five jobs may go at Niwa

Dunne defends Greymouth IRD job cuts announcement

Air NZ may cut scores of jobs

Ministry plan puts 50 jobs on the line

Housing NZ staff face further cuts

Review suggests more part-time soldiers

Ministry to lose fifth of staff in radical cuts

‘Broken promise’ claim as frontline Defence jobs slashed

Foreign Affairs Ministry confirms 305 jobs to go

Housing NZ to cull 70 jobs in changes


Thankfully,  National pledged 170,000 new jobs at the last election.

So far, we have this  ‘outstanding’ success in National’s job-creation policy,




215 jobs instead of 4,000?!?! Please excuse my lack of over-enthusiasm…

The whole point of National’s welfare “reforms” is not to “incentivise” the unemployed off welfare and  into jobs. Even demonising welfare recipients is not the main goal of the Nats.

No, National is seeking an advantage in shifting blame for our stubbornly high unemployment rate onto welfare recipients.

By continually making public statements that point the finger at welfare recipients for being unemployed, they are engaging in a propaganda war to blame the jobless for their predicament.

That lets National off the hook.

This is about National shifting responsibility for the mess that our economy is in, so that the public look at the victims of the recession and government mis-management – rather than asking the Hard Questions from John Key; what are you doing to facilitate job-creation?

National cannot afford to be seen as sitting on their hands, doing nothing.

Yet, they are a neo-liberal Party that fully believes in the minimalist-government approach to employment; their core belief is that it is up to the “market” to create jobs, not government.

But in holding firm to this ideology, National finds itself trapped; the “market” is not creating new jobs; welfare numbers are still high; and the government is percieved as doing nothing, because of it’s adherence to minimalist government/free market  principles. Even the business sector, last year, was asking National; where is your plan for economic growth?

National’s “Plan B”/Get-Out-Of-Jail-Card? Shift the blame on to solo-mums; invalids, widows; and those made unemployed during four years of recession and stagnant growth.  Blame the parlous state of the economy  and limited job-opportunities on those at the bottom of the economic scrap heap?


John Key knows all this. In fact, he has even had to admit it in the media, even while he and Ms Bennett were lambasting widows, invalids,  solo-mums, et al,  for daring to be out of (paid) work,

It’s true, ultimately if every one was to get off welfare we’d need to create even more jobs, but that’s the Government’s whole agenda is to have a vibrant economy that does produce jobs. I  certainly accept there’s not a job for every single person, but I don’t accept there aren’t some jobs out there.” –  John Key, 28 February 2012

Yes, Mr Key; there are “some jobs out there“. Just not enough.

Certainly not the 4,000 you promised through your cycleway project.

And definitely not the 170,000 you pledged last year, during the election campaign.

By blaming welfare recipients for a lack of jobs, National evades responsibility for the stagnant state of the economy. The subtext is that the “jobs are there but those lazy benes just don’t want to work – see it’s not our fault!“.

Funny isn’t it… the right wing continually demand that people take responsibility for their actions. So where is National’s responsibility in making the economy fit-for-purpose and creating jobs?

Paula Bennett said,

 “I think any jobs a good job.”

Indeed. We just need more of them.

Your call, Mr Prime Minister.




Previous Blogposts

Unemployed job-seekers: Great Myths Of The 21st Century (#1)

Paula Bennett:  Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy


Chris Trotter: Just Leave Us Alone