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As predictable as the rising sun

11 September 2012 7 comments

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As previously posted on 6 September,

“With low polling and redundancies dominating the headlines, National has cast about for another dog-whistle to distract the easily-led Middle class.

They’ve done the unemployed and solo-mums (but never solo dads) “to death”.

Next minority on the List; Maori.

Cue: John Key’s derisory response to the upcoming nationwide  hui on water rights,

The Government does not believe there should be a national hui; does not believe there should be a national settlement and it probably would not recognise all of the rights and interests that some Maori groups believe they have.

If the Crown was to be represented at the hui, and it wont be, because we’ve said were not having a national hui, we don’t support that…if you are an MP in the government you represent the Crown and any representation by my MPs at such an event would be interpreted as representation by the Crown.

I’ve made that position absolutely crystal clear..I do not accept the view that there needs to be a national hui, because I do not accept there will be a national settlement, because I do not accept it’s a national issue.”

See: Key – Government won’t go to water hui

Maori-bashing.

Almost as good as bene-bashing.

Or “get tough on crime/crush cars” rhetoric.

“Standing tough” with Maori “demands” for water rights will probably work a treat with racist rednecks and low-information voters.  With the former, their racism is deeply ingrained and such ignorance can be written of like the forty-plus financial companies that sucked billions out of mums and dads investors.

With the latter, it is a matter of education and dispelling myths and prejudice, before people’s  eyes eventually open and they connect-the-dots.

National will probably rebound in the polls on this strategy.

See blogpost: National in trouble? Time to dog-whistle the Middle Class!

It appears that my prediction has come true and  the latest Herald-Digipoll shows a slight “burp” in  National’s poll rating.

Support for National has risen marginally by 0.4% – a barely discernible rise for the Party,

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The slight rise in support for National is due in no small part to their redneck dog-whistling; opposition to Maori water-rights claims; beneficiary bashing; and suchlike.

This kind of support is a kneejerk reaction and can be comfortably ignored. People eventually look for a government that offers positive messages – not constant negatives.

By contrast, Labour has dropped in the polls by 2%. But it can take heart that the move has gone to NZ First (1.1%)and predominantly the Greens (1.6%). (This poll was taken before Shearer announced Labour’s Food in Schools policy.)

The increased support for the Greens should reinforce Labour’s move to the centre-Left, and confidently abandon all pretenses of adopting a “National-lite” mirror-image.

For Labour to rise in the polls, they need only stay true to their roots  and raison d’être – as the conscience and humane face of New Zealand society.

Likewise there is room for only one hard-arsed, neo-liberal obsessed, bene-bashing Party in this country, and that segment of the political spectrum is firmly inhabited by the National Party.

Labour’s path is clear; reassert it’s moral leadership on the political spectrum and reach out to every sector of New Zealand society.

Offer New Zealanders a clear path; more of the same of National’s unworkable policies; or something better. Something that encapsulates New Zealanders’ sense of fairness.

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David Bain – the final call for justice

11 September 2012 25 comments

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Full story

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Lucy Akatere, Krishla Fuataha  , & Tania Vini

Shane Cribb

David Dougherty

Aaron Farmer

Rex Haig

Arthur Allan Thomas

et al…

And the name David Bain can be added to the above (incomplete) list of wrongful convictions in this country.

After David Bain’s re-trial and five  Not Guilty verdicts, the issue of compensation arose. The government correctly sought an impartial adjudicator from outside the country, retired Canadian Supreme Court judge Ian Binnie, to rule on the issue.

The above Herald article suggests that Judge Binnie will be issuing a recommendation that David Bain be offered compensation for wrongful imprisonment.

This blogger agree with that recommendation.

The Bain Case has been controversial since the initial murders, one dark wintry morning in 1994. The evidence against David Bain was circumstantial at best, and in at least one matter, was incorrectly presented to the first trial in 1995.

Based on new evidence, and correct interpretation of old evidence, the retrial in 2009 returned the only verdict possible.

This will no doubt bring a torrent of fury from any armchair “jurists” who express a fanatical – almost religious – view of David Bain’s guilt.  Some of these armchair “jurists” have cherry-picked evidence to suit their own views and prejudices. Some have watched too much American crime shows. Some are downright deranged cranks. (A minority are more considered in their views, despite holding views contrary to the Not Guilty verdict.)

No doubt there will always be a small, vociferous minority who believe that they alone ‘Know The Truth’ and contest the Not Guilty verdict. Despite not having sat through the trial nor heard all the evidence and testimony, they obviously know better than the twelve men and women who sat through the entire process.

Luckily for us all, we do not have Jury By Internet.

It would be a dire society to live in if  “armchair jurists” were to sit in judgement of any of us.

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Sources

Forejustice.org:  Wrongly Convicted Database Index

NZ Herald: Bain innocent and deserves payout, judge tells Cabinet

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A FTA deal with Russia?! That’s a big “NYET” Comrade Key!

11 September 2012 19 comments

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Politicians sometimes just don’t learn…

Prologue: 2008AD

On 7 April 2008, the then Labour Government signed a  Free Trade Agreement with China. Part of that FTA included the following clauses,

Article 143 Fair and Equitable Treatment

1. Investments of investors of each Party shall at all times be accorded fair and equitable treatment and shall enjoy the full protection and security in the territory of the other Party in accordance with commonly accepted rules of international law.

2. Fair and equitable treatment includes the obligation to ensure that, having regard to general principles of law, investors are not denied justice or treated unfairly or inequitably in any legal or administrative proceeding affecting the investments of the investor.

3. Full protection and security requires each Party to take such measures as may be reasonably necessary in the exercise of its authority to ensure the protection and security of the investment.

4. Neither Party shall take any unreasonable or discriminatory measures against the management, maintenance, use, enjoyment and disposal of the investments by the investors of the other Party.

5. A violation of any other article of this Chapter does not establish that there has been a violation of this Article.

Article 144 Compensation for Losses

Investors of a Party whose investments in the territory of the other Party suffer losses owing to war or other armed conflict, a state of national emergency, insurrection, riot or other similar events in the territory of the latter Party shall be accorded by the latter Party treatment, as regards restitution, indemnification, compensation or other settlements no less favourable than that accorded to the investors of its own or any third country, whichever is more favourable to the investors concerned.

See:  Chapter 11 – Investment

Article 138 National Treatment

Each Party shall accord to investments and activities associated with such investments, with respect to management, conduct, operation, maintenance, use, enjoyment or disposal, by the investors of the other Party treatment no less favourable than that accorded, in like circumstances, to the investments and associated activities by its own investors.”

See: – Ibid

These are the sections which Auckland University law professor,  Jane Kelsey, stated could result in a lawsuit for breaching our Free Trade Agreement with China, in the Crafar Farms affair. Quite simply, Chinese investors cannot be treated differently to local (or any other investors from other nations) in commercial and legal matters.

As Jane Kelsey stated,

If the New Zealand Government had declined the Shanghai Pengxin purchase of the Crafar farms it could have faced an international lawsuit for breaching its free-trade agreement with China. The Government cannot treat applications from Chinese investors differently from similar applications from other countries’ investors under what is known as the ‘most-favoured-nation’ or MFN rule.”

See: Our hands were tied over the Crafar farms sale

Key was more circumspect in admitting this reality of the FTA, when on 27 January 2012, he said on TV3’s ‘Campbell Live’ (@  ),

” … in our view, turning it down on the basis that they were Chinese is not only in my view unacceptable and a bit repugnant , actually it wouldn’t be legally sound either.”

See:  Selling Crafar farms the right decision – Key

Which is about as close as Key has come to publicly admitting that we are bound by our FTA with China to treat their investors on the same footing as New Zealand investors. Whilst this may be met with approval by ACT ideologues, it sound nothing for our country’s economy, nor future investment by our own children who may be priced out of the market by wealthier offshore investors.

Fast forward: 2012AD

Key is now chasing a similar  FTA deal with Russia.  In which case expect more purchases of our productive sector by wealthy Russian investors.

There is everything wrong with this prospect.

Russia is presently ruled by an oligarchy, with Vladimir Putin it’s undisputed head.

This is a corrupt government that stole last December’s  election by voting fraud on a massive scale. Putin’s opponants are either arrested and imprisoned (as in the old Soviet era), or murdered by “unknown assasins”.

See: The farce of Russian elections

See: Russia’s presidential election: rigging is a delicate art

Public dissent is actively discouraged by state repression, and often met with the use of violent force.

See: Putin’s government moves to quash public dissent

The Russian mafia is amongst the most feared globally,  and has strong connections with Putin’s government,

Russia is a corrupt, autocratic kleptocracy centred on the leadership of Vladimir Putin, in which officials, oligarchs and organised crime are bound together to create a “virtual mafia state”, according to leaked secret diplomatic cables that provide a damning American assessment of its erstwhile rival superpower.

Arms trafficking, money laundering, personal enrichment, protection for gangsters, extortion and kickbacks, suitcases full of money and secret offshore bank accounts in Cyprus: the cables paint a bleak picture of a political system in which bribery alone totals an estimated $300bn a year, and in which it is often hard to distinguish between the activities of the government and organised crime. “

See: WikiLeaks cables condemn Russia as ‘mafia state’

And this is the “virtual mafia state” that John Key wants closer economic ties with?!

This aspect should be especially worrying to New Zealand, a small nation especially vulnerable to penetration by sophisticated, organised crime.

More worrying is that our esteemed Security Intelligence Service and Police force – which is adept at spying on Maori activists in the Ureweras or peace activists-turned Green MPs – have  either not informed the Prime Minister of Russia’s corrupt criminal government, with mafia links – or has been ignored by National.

This is more than worrying – this is downright dangerous. Key is playing with fire when he associates with such dangerous people.

Why would National consider cosying up to the Russian government/mafia? Especially when, as Judith Collins stated in October 2009,

Gangs have infiltrated businesses; turning legitimate enterprises into money laundering outlets.  Their money has bought them a veneer of legitimacy that is far more dangerous to our society than anything we have seen before.”

See: Organised crime threatens NZ way of life

Collins was referring to local organised gangs. But the same could hold equally true – if not more so – for international crime gangs that are far more organised; well resourced; vicious; and with links to state power.

The Russian mafia is not one to be trifled with. If Collins is concerned about our local crims, she should be positively panicking over the possibility that a FTA with Russia could draw us into closer contact with organised crime syndicates and their political allies in Moscow.

Dealing with Russia is akin to dealing with Columbia or Mexico, should their organised crime gangs ever gain a foothold in those country’s respective governments (if not already).

The prospect of Russian investors with links to organised crime (or, indeed, a front for crime groups) is one that cannot be easily dismissed.

We need to be damned careful who we, as a nation, build closer relations with.  If Key want to “Dance with the Devil”, he is pulling the rest of us in with him.

This blogger reminds the reader of Eastern European notions of the vampyr legends (no, not the glamourised Hollywood version of young, handsome vampires – the Undead variety of gruesome appearance and dodgy personal hygiene). In popular culture, the vampyr could not cross a threshold to enter you home.

You were safe inside – unless someone in your home invited the vampyr to enter.

Once that invitation was extended, the blood-sucking monster could come and go as he (or she) pleased. There was no stopping the creature, except with the usual methods; stake, sunlight, garlic, ACT Party manifesto, etc.

Damned perceptive, our Eastern European cuzzies.

Just be careful, Mr Key, who you invite into our country…

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Additional

MFAT: New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement

New Zealand China Free Trade Agreement (text)

Government could have faced lawsuit

Billionaire’s playground: Russian rich-lister’s home to rival Chrisco mansion

Putin, Key hopeful for Free Trade Agreement

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