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Submission on Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill

14 September 2021 2 comments

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My submission on the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill. It is shorter than I had originally intended as – with everything else happening – I found the deadline had rushed up on me.

Ironically, it was a TERF posting on The Standard who reminded me to get this submission done before today’s deadline.

The Submission:

Committee members might want to reflect on a simple truth:

Currently, people who are transgender or non-binary have to go through a Court process to have their gender corrected and to be legally identified as to their identity.

Nowhere else in society do we demand that a sector of the community go through a similar process. Not cis males; not cis women; not Maori; not Pasifika; not Asian; not gay men; not lesbian women; no one.

But we demand that trans people go through a legal process that we do not require from anyone else.

This not only defies logic, but also hints at a form of “apartheid”, where a minority is treated differently from the rest of us.

Imagine if we ALL had to go through a similar process, to have our gender identity validated by a Judges stamp on a Court document. How would any of us feel about that?

I not only support the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill, but I hope to god we never have to go through such a process again.

No one should have to be validated by an official process.

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Other Blogs

Boots Theory: End conversion therapy in Aotearoa

Boots Theory: Support accurate birth certificates for trans and non-binary people

Previous related blogposts      

First they came…

Apartheid in Aotearoa New Zealand – yes, it does exist

Fairfax media and Kiwiblog revise incorrect story denigrating trans-people

Anti-trans activists fudge OIA statement – Report

The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response

Submission on Conversion Not-A-Therapy Bill

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= fs =

The Microbiologist, the Caretaker Leader, and some Nasty Germs

14 September 2021 5 comments

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The recent faux “scandal”  and pile-on levelled at one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s top microbiologists, Dr Siouxsie Wiles:

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— is indicative of how threatened the Right feel about the country’s covid closed borders. Despite mistakes and some slow implementation of policies, the leadership of the current government has saved lives.

First, some numbers we should not overlook:

Aotearoa New Zealand’s covid death toll currently stands at 27.

By contrast, Sweden’s death toll currently sits at 14,662. They have had 1,138,017 covid cases compared to our 3,949 .

Yet, Sweden’s population is ten million – just double ours.

It takes no stretch of the imagination to consider the impact on our health system had we even half of Sweden’s infections, hospital admissions, and death toll.

Our nearest neighbours,  New South Wales (current death toll: 177) and Fiji (current death toll*: 535) also offer grim reminders where we might have ended up had it not been for our political leadership; dedicated health and MIQ border professionals; and committed scientists to lead us through this global war.

Anyone taking note of the facts would quickly realise that this is a ‘beat up’ by right-wing bloggers and the current Leader of the National party. Even some National-leaning media commentators have bought into the “scandal” narrative:

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Let’s be clear. This was not a “scandal”.

“Beat up” by the Right – yes. Pile on by covid-deniers, conspiracy fantasists, misogynistic cranks, and assorted RWNJs – yes.

Scandal? Not even close.

Critics of Dr Wiles have accused her of breaking the 5 kilometre rule of travelling for exercise. Except… there is no such rule in this country. Those critics have either dim-wittedly, or deliberately, conflated our country with New South Wales. (Easy mistake to make. Both places begin with “New”. They could easily have confused us with New York.)

The rules for Aotearoa New Zealand’s Level 4 lockdown, as published on the government covid website:

Recreation and Exercise

You are allowed to leave your home or place of residence for recreation or exercise at an outdoor location in your local area that is easy to access (including by vehicle).

You’re strongly encouraged to wear a face covering and should keep a 2 metre distance from people outside your household bubble, where this is practical. You legally must not attend or organise a gathering of people.

You are not allowed to do any dangerous activities, including:

  • swimming
  • surfing
  • scuba-diving
  • water-based activities with boats (sail or motor)
  • using motorised equipment
  • hunting in motorised vehicles
  • tramping
  • flying aircrafts.

Note where it states: “including by vehicle“. Dr Wiles rode her bicycle. She also, contrary to some mischievous claims, did not enter the water.

The New South Wales rules, by contrast:

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National’s Caretaker Leader, Judith Collins, was her usual measured, composed self when she described Dr Wiles’ exercise outing:

“I think she’s a big fat hypocrite, actually, and I’m sick and tired of listening to her telling everyone else what to do, and here we have the evidence that she had travelled from Freemans Bay to go and visit with her friend on the beach at Judges Bay in Parnell.

That’s about 5km, and unless she ran there – and I doubt it – then she wasn’t exercising. No masks on, sitting there on the beach, and the friend goes off for a swim. I watched that video, and I thought: big fat hypocrite.

I’m so sick of her telling us all what to do. She’s not doing it? Just do it… If those TV stations have her back on telling everyone what to do, I think we should just turn them off.”

It’s a shame Ms Collins did not approach Dr Wiles for her side of the story before attacking the much-respected microbiologist.

Dr Wiles’ comprehensive explanation of events on the day she went to the beach totally discredits Cameron Slaters blogpost. (This blogger will not link to Mr Slater’s post. It does not merit referencing. Readers can search it out if they feel so inclined. Have some disinfectant handy afterwards.)

On Twitter, Dr Wiles stated:

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Several anons (usual; name/word + numbers) attempted to perpetuate the attack on Dr Wiles, but were mocked and derided by other social media users who understood that this was little more than one of Mr Slater’s ill-conceived, malevolent beat-ups.

The support for the good Doctor was clear indication that most Kiwis respect and admire the work she has done to share information and educate us about covid. She has well earned her New Zealander of the Year title, plus some:

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As with death and taxes, it can be guaranteed that neither Judith Collins nor Cameron Slater will ever have to compose a “thank you” speech for winning “NZer of the Year”.

For Ms Collins to engage in a diatribe that – let’s face it – suggests that the pressures of her job; her ongoing lack of popularity; National’s stagnation in the polls; and David Seymour eclipsing her as Preferred Prime Minister – have raised questions about her emotional stability.

Ms Collins’ reference to Dr Wiles as “big, fat” is juvenile at best; Muldoon-style malevolence at worst. It is not the first time she has made snide comments based on a person’s appearance. Or even seven years ago.

Her desperation to keep her leadership rests on achieving the near-impossible: replacing the most popular, articulate, and effective leader this country has had for a long time. The pressure to succeed has seen her lashing out in ways that would be utterly unacceptable in any other part of society.

National’s more moderate MPs, hierarchy, and membership must be shaking their heads in despair at Ms Collins’ worsening irrational outbursts. They must lie awake at night wondering what the next headlines will reveal about their increasingly erratic Leader.

Several must be shaking their heads in despair that Ms Collins is once again associating with former Whaleoil blogger, Cameron Slater. They understand; no good will come of this.

The attack on Dr Wiles is a large dollop of misogynism writ large. No other virologist, microbiologist, epidemiologist, medical professional, or any scientist – who happens to be male – has been attacked as mercilessly; doggedly, and viciously as Dr Wiles.

Not one.

It is revealing that most of her attackers are men. Most are too irrational, with fragile egos, to engage in rational discourse. Dr Wiles is clearly threatening to this minority with their own intractable personal “issues”.

But politically she is also a threat to National and it’s aspirations.

This government has embraced decision-making based on science and safety. Economics comes after. Labour’s decisions have been largely successful, avoiding the over-whelming of our hospitals with covid cases; corpses stacked high in mortuaries; and a death toll in the hundreds – if not thousands.

For Plan Bers and others who want to see Labour fail, it must be galling for them to watch the government’s success thus far. Dr Wiles has been prominent, articulate, and popular in pushing the scientific framing of our covid policies. With her gender and bright pink hair, she has become an easy target for the anonymous on-line trolls and political opportunists, for sustained bullying.

But Dr Wiles is a strong woman and she understands that these people are, deep down inside, like frightened little children. Look at her reasoned, measured, gentle responses to trolls on-line and it’s like a mother reassuring a scared, anxious child during a violent lightning storm.

As another woman said so many years ago (but who holds not even a molecule of the same mana as Dr Wiles); “The lady’s not for turning“.

And as for National’s Caretaker Leader, Judith Collins? Dr Wiles will have her job after the next election. The same cannot be said for Ms Collins.

How to Fight Nasty Germs.

Far from being passive observers of the targeted harrassment of Dr Wiles, many good people are resisting. They are fighting the Germs that have tried to infect and defeat this incredible woman with their misogynistic hatred.

As reported by Stuff’s Josephine Franks (no relation):

People are donating to Dr Siouxsie Wiles’ research after the microbiologist was accused of breaking lockdown rules and called a “big, fat hypocrite” by Judith Collins.

A video of Wiles at the beach with a friend was circulated in blogs this week. It showed the pair talking on the sand without masks on, before the friend goes in the water. The clip was accompanied by accusations of rule-breaking and hypocrisy.

Wiles told Stuff this was a “really clear case of disinformation” that was spread to discredit her and disrupt the country’s collective response to Covid-19.

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“It costs us about $250 to test each fungus, and we’ve over 10,000 fungi to test, so your support could help us discover more of these life-saving medicines,” the donation page reads.

People have been posting screenshots of their donations on Twitter with messages of support for Wiles.

“Donation made to a hard-working, intelligent and patient lady who has gone to great lengths to keep us all informed,” one said.

“Thank you Dr Siouxsie for your amazing work!” another read.

Some dedicated their donations to Judith Collins after the National leader called Wiles a “big, fat hypocrite” in reference to the video.

Wiles was unfazed by the insult, saying: “I get that comment every day, so it’s nothing new. Fat shaming someone who was exercising was kind of ironic, really.”

It would be the best karma ever if the Collins/Slater vendetta against Dr Wiles actually enhanced her work, with people responding to the bullying by donating to her Auckland University research fund:

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Make a donation (whether $5 or $500 – the amount matters nought); take a screen shot; and post it on @JudithCollinsMP (Twitter) or @judithcollinsmp (Facebook).

Like… this:

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This is the best way to fight germs – whether the microscopic variety or equally unsavoury, two legged specimens. As the American saying goes, “Don’t get mad. Get even.”

And we support a fine scientist in her work to beat Germs.

You just can’t get “revenge” more delicious than that.

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(* Fiji’s death troll is likely to be under-reported.)

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References

ODT: Collins calls Dr Siouxsie Wiles ‘a big, fat hypocrite’

Stuff media: Covid-19 – Dr Siouxsie Wiles warns of ‘disinformation’ after claims she was caught breaking lockdown rules

ODT: Dr Wiles hits back at accusations she broke lockdown rules

Newshub: Ashley Bloomfield defends Siouxsie Wiles’ maskless beach visit as Judith Collins labels her ‘hypocrite’

Worldometers: New Zealand Coronavirus

Worldometers: Sweden Coronavirus

NZ Herald: Covid 19 Australia: NSW, Victoria outbreaks grow – Queensland dodges lockdown

Worldometer: Fiji Coronavirus

NZ Herald: Judith Collins’ leadership flagging before Dr Siouxsie Wiles scandal

Covid19.govt.nz: Permitted movement within Alert Level 4 – recreation and exercise

NSW Government: Greater Sydney restrictions

Newshub: Siouxsie Wiles hits back at Judith Collins over ‘big fat hypocrite’ jibe

Twitter: @SiouxsieW – beach walk – 10.9.21

NZAwards: New Zealander of the Year 2021

Newshub: ACT’s David Seymour overtakes National’s Judith Collins as preferred Prime Minister in Newshub-Reid Research Poll

RNZ: Judith Collins – Obese people must take responsibility for ‘personal choices’

Stuff media: Collins jumps in ‘racist’ clothes-fight

Stuff media: Covid-19 – Donations fly in for Dr Siouxsie Wiles’ research after Judith Collins calls her a ‘hypocrite’

Auckland University: Beating the Superbugs

Twitter: @ConanMcKeggNational are goong after her for purely political reasons – 12.9.21

ABC: Medical experts say a third of Fiji’s COVID-19 deaths may be unreported

Additional

The Spinoff: New Zealand urgently needs a serious opposition leader

Other Blogs

The Standard: Dirty Politics does not work any more

Previous related blogposts

A fitting response to National MP’s recent personal attacks on Metiria Turei (Feb, 2014)

New Clothing Standards set by National Party (Feb, 2014)

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Acknowledgement: Weston Frizzell

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Submission on Conversion Not-A-Therapy Bill

9 September 2021 4 comments

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To Parliament, Justice Committee:

Please consider my submission to the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill (2021).

Whilst Conversion “Therapy”* does not affect me as I am a cis heterosexual male-identifying person, it disturbs me that a practice that has no basis in science is being carried out against some of my fellow New Zealanders.

The issue of sexual orientation and identification is a complex matter that we still have much to learn about. Just as homosexuality was once illegal and considered a “perversion”, we now accept that sexual orientation is a facet of human nature. To attempt to change this through a practice that would seem more appropriate in the Medieval Ages, defies logic.

To implement a process euphemistically called “therapy” to change a person’s core being would be a pathway to deep psychological harm

It would be like attempting to change my own sexuality.

I do not understand how a person’s core being can be “converted”. Not without consequential harm to that person.

Consent cannot be a factor. For young people who are going through troubling times of adolescence and uncertainty, any attempt to “convert” a person to rigidly accepted “norms” would most likely be damaging to them in the long term.

It would be a re-play of Lake Alice “therapies” that have left so many people permantly damaged for life.

I see little difference between the state-sanctioned “therapies” of former Lake Alice patients and current practices involving conversion.

I therefore endorse section 5/2, which states:

However, conversion practice does not include—
(a) a health service provided by a health practitioner in accordance with the practitioner’s scope of practice; or
(b) assisting an individual who is undergoing, or considering undergoing, a gender transition; or
(c) assisting an individual to express their gender identity; or
(d) providing acceptance, support, or understanding of an individual; or
(e) facilitating an individual’s coping skills, development, or identity exploration, or facilitating social support for the individual; or
(f) the expression only of a religious principle or belief made to an individual that is not intended to change or suppress the individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Any acceptable therapy should involve a person’s journey for self-understanding and acceptance – not attempting to deviate their life from whatever path nature has alloted them. In effect conversion “therapy” creates and forces a lie onto a person; a self-deception; denying their true self.

I further submit that opposition to this Bill is mainly from a minority of chauvinists. They include TERFs (trans exclusionary radical “feminists”) – or “gender critics” as some call themselves now – who operate under the banner of the so-called “Speak up for women (SUFW).

This group’s primary and sole agenda is to deny the validity of transgender people. Many of their fear-tactics (“stranger danger in public toilets and changing rooms”) are a hostile re-play of the homophobic rhetoric from 1986, when the Homosexual Law Reform Bill was passing through Parliament.

Other opponants have a religious basis. Whilst people are free to believe in whatever deity they wish, pushing Conversion “therapy” goes beyond what is considered parameters for free speech: they actively seek to impress their views onto another human being.

This is be dystopian-future stuff.

I cannot subscribe to religious adherents having a “free pass” to force their beliefs onto another human being. We oppose this with the Taliban in Afghanistan in their treament of women; or LGBTQI+ in Iran, Saudi Arabia, et al, and we must do likewise for our own home-grown religious fundamentalists.

Otherwise we are not consistent.

Nature is diverse with sex. Far from being the binary Male/Female many TERFs and Fundamentalists maintain, there are many examples of sex-changing animals on this planet. I encourage Parliamentarians to do some basic research on sex/gender-fluid animals; they would be surprised how common it is.

The most common is the New Zealand fish, commonly known as the “Spotty”:

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/bay-of-plenty-times/news/spotty-fish-sex-change-has-potential-in-science/3UTTI2KQFVBG4SFD5JOFVWCPQ4/

https://www.insidescience.org/news/duplicate-genes-let-these-fish-switch-sex

Other animals also have sexual/gender fluidity:

https://www.inverse.com/science/animals-can-change-their-sex

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/frogs-reverse-sex-more-often-than-thought

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/sequential-hermaphroditism

We are not fish. But we are free to be who we are.

But regardless, human sexuality is more complex. There are more than just ‘XX’ and ‘XY’ sexes, as this tutorial shows:

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So any notion of a strict binary sexuality is a narrow human preconception, and denies the real diversity of Nature.

We once used to believe that only heterosexuality was the “norm”. Anything else was thought to be “abnormal”; a “perversion”. I thought we had outgrown such narrow chauvinism. The argument surrounding Conversion “therapy” is a replay of many of those same arguments, attempting to re-litigate the validity of our cousins in the Rainbow community.

People can believe whatever they want. But pushing beliefs onto others because their god told them, or because their hold narrow views on binary sexuality is not acceptable.

We would not countenance “converting” a person to homosexuality. I fail to see the difference in attempting to convert someone to heterosexuality (or any other orientation).

I urge all fair-minded Parliamentarians to consider that male homosexuality was once illegal and men were imprisoned for their orientation. We now recognise that was wrong. On the 6th of July 2017, Parliament formally apologised to homosexual men for the gross injustice meted out to them by the State:

“That this House apologise to those homosexual New Zealanders who were convicted for consensual adult activity, and recognise the tremendous hurt and suffering those men and their families have gone through, and the continued effects the convictions have had on them.” – Motion of apology, 6 June 2017

https://www.parliament.nz/en/get-involved/features/house-unanimously-apologises-for-historical-persecution-of-homosexual-men/

If Parliament supports banning of Conversion “Therapy”, it will avert the need for another apology in the future for harm caused to LGBTQI+ through this odious practice. If we’ve learned our lesson the first time, a second injustice need not occur.

I commend Parliament for progressing the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill.

If the Select Committee has questions, I will be available for questions and answers.

Frank Macskasy

* The term “Therapy” is a dishonest mis-nomer. There is nothing therapeutic about this .

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References

Legislation: Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill

Other Blogs

Boots Theory: End conversion therapy in Aotearoa

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All good things…

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In 2011, in between jobs and the Great Recession still biting our collective arses, I took to trying my hand at building on my letters-to-the-editor experience by taking up blogging. There were already a number of blogs about; Kiwiblog (on the Right); Tumeke (on the Left), Imperator Fish (another on the Left,with a big dollop of satire); No Right Turn (Left, featuring short and concise posts; et al. There was also one named after processed cetacean fat – but let’s not go there (for the moment).

It’s hard to state which was “better” than the other; they each had a unique style of presenting information, views, criticisms. But I quickly learned from each and my first blogpost appeared on 14 July 2011.

It was a supportive piece on the then-proposed Capital Gains Tax. Looking at it now, it was pretty ‘rough’.

My writing increased; improved the formatting; and – who knows – maybe even got better in the process. (Though I still have a problem with brevity…)

Three years later and I received an invitation- from out of the blue – from Martyn Bradbury, inviting me to join The Daily Blog as a regular contributor.

Needless to say, we in our household were stunned. My ego came close to growing to a Jupiter-sized gas giant. The smile on my face must’ve stayed with me even as I slept.

It was – and still is – an honour. I was to join the ranks of writers like Martyn, Leslie Bravery, Chris Trotter, Susan St John, Selwyn Manning, Christine Rose, John Minto, and many others to whom I’ll apologise later at length for omitting their names.

There was no shortage of issues to write about during the Key/English years. They were the political gift that kept giving. Indeed many of their legacies such as the housing crisis remain with us today. (Though John Key’s flag referendum was one we’ll never forget. And New Zealanders learned a new word for a fetish: trichophilia.)

Then covid hit us and my blogging, for a while, became a daily diary. Even as the country ground to a halt, I drove (near-)deserted roads in my job as a Community Worker. It was eerie and unsettling. But keeping busy, I was one of the lucky ones.

I still wonder what it would’ve been like had I been a non-essential worker, expected to stay home to ride out the silent microbial war. Did I have enough paint to do the entire exterior of my house?

But recently, things have taken an unexpected turn.

And this is why this will be my last post for The Daily Blog.

Most of us thought that the struggle of the LGBTQI+ community for equality and inclusion had been laid to rest in 1986 with the passing of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill. Though not gay, I was a staunch ally for gay men struggling not to be criminalised for simply fancying another bloke.

It was beyond my comprehension why anyone thought that other’s sexuality was their business. As I am happy to advise chauvinists, the only sexuality you can comment on is your own.

I wore my “HUG” badge with pride, even at work, almost daring my employer to order me to remove it. (He never did. Another ally?)

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I used my letter-writing experience and tackled the homophobes and religious conservatives (often one and the same) in newspapers and magazines. Especially the TV Guide, which, for some inexplicable reason, seemed to attract copious letters from homophobes.

Toward the end, I wrote to the TV  Guide stating that for every homophobic letter published in the editorial pages, I would donate $10 to a gay activist group. (Which I did, by the way.) And every couple of weeks, I’d send in my letter detailing how much I had donated during a certain period.

The homophobes didn’t like that.

My on-going support for the transgender community is an extension of my support for gay rights.

It is inconceivable for me to enjoy my rights; my inclusivity; my privileged existence in society knowing that a minority was still struggling. It is the same reason I support Maori in their struggles; workers in their struggles against Talleys, Ports of Auckland, et al.

As learn more, I believe my stand is right and shared by many others, also allies of trans people. Recently I have learned that two close friends of mine have children, one is transitioning f-t-m, the other is questioning their gender identity. The mothers of both do what mothers do; support and love their children.

Things have come to a head with TERF/GC, Rachel Stewart’s unfortunate ‘tweet’ where she mused/threatened to kill someone;

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It has been said that the threat was made in jest; a joke that people have taken the “wrong way”.

Trying to minimise the tweet as a “joke” is almost as bad as if it had been made in earnest.  As a society, we are supposed to be beyond making jokes about killing people. Or rape jokes. Or jokes about Maori, Pacifica, Muslims, Jewish people, etc.

The phrase – “Hey, lighten up, it was just a joke!” – no longer carries validity. And rightly so.

Remembering that we are only two years from the worst terrorist atrocity in modern New Zealand; considering that Ms Stewart actually had access to firearms – the person at the receiving end of her “joke” would not have been as dismissive as her supporters appear to be.

Those who are prepared to dismiss Ms Stewart’s comment as a “joke” and “not to be taken seriously” might reflect on Al Nisbet’s notorious cartoons in 2013;

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Neither cartoon threatened to kill or physically harm anyone. Yet, Martyn was moved to quite rightly condemn them in no uncertain terms;

“This disgustingly racist, despicable cartoon appeared in the Marlborough Express as a response to the feed the kids bill…

…the grinding poverty that destroys so many of the lives of the 270 000 children crushed by it is not a laughing matter, it is a deep shame this country of plenty should carry and this cartoon by the Marlborough Express manages to offend every sensibility.

For shame that such a racist cartoon can be published in 2013.

For shame that so many NZers seem to think it’s funny.”

Let’s be quite clear in one thing. If we can make a “joke” about humiliating someone and killing them, then we can make a “joke” about anything else; Maori, gays, lesbians, people with disabilities, people of colour, beneficiaries, etc, etc.

The list of minorities we can crack a joke at is pretty long. Time to dust off those old 1970s joke-books from the attic.

It also means other zealots and cranks can threaten people they don’t like – as long as it can be cloaked under the guise of “humour”.

Take Ms Stewart’s tweet for example. Reverse the genders. Read it back to yourself. Is it still a “joke”?

I find nothing funny in death threats, humorous or otherwise. I find nothing humorous about “jokes” that punch down, instead of up.

I have immense respect for Martyn and all he has achieved. I believe his support for his friend, Ms Stewart, is well-intentioned – but mis-guided in this case.

Ms Stewart made a colossal error of judgement with her comment. A true friend would’ve counselled her to look more deeply at her actions and accept her mistake.

We all make mistakes. (My teens and 20s were filled with them.) It’s what we do when a mistake is made that matters.

In trivialising this issue, we have given alt-right trolls, bigots, and other zealots a free pass. This is a low bar that Ms Stewart and Martyn have set, and they will be only too happy to step over it.  (BFD – the successor to “Whaleoil” – is also supporting Rachel Stewart’s “joke”. That Martyn has found himself aligned with something as odious as BFD  should be troubling in itself.)

For the transgender community and their LGBTQI brothers, sisters,non-binaries, this is yet more crap in their lives.

It is with deepest regret that I will no longer contribute to The Daily Blog. TDB has achieved much and can be a vehicle for considerable progressive good. But this is not the right way to go about it.

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References

“Frankly Speaking”: A Capital Gains Tax?

“The Daily Blog”: Talkback Radio, Public Radio, and related matters…

“The Daily Blog”: Twitter Watch – and then they came for Rachel Stewart…

“The Daily Blog”: There is no place in NZ for this kind of disgusting fucking racism – for shame Marlborough Express, for shame!

Twitter: The Aunties – 6 July 2021

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This blogpost was submitted to The Daily Blog two days ago. As as this moment, it remains unpublished..

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My Universe just lost one of its brightest stars…

16 June 2019 9 comments

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This morning, a little after 4am, Sharlene lost her brave fight against cancer.

Rest in peace, Sharlene. You were a lovely bright star in my life…

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Categories: People Being People

Foot in Mouth Award – Nicky Wagner, because disabilities issues are such a drag on a nice day

24 June 2017 3 comments

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Bennett had it (and probably still does)…

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Key had it;

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… still had it;

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Aaron Gilmore had it;

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Steven Joyce has it;

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Alfred Ngaro has it;

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And it seems Minister Nicky Wagner has it;

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Yes, indeed, Ms Wagner, we’re sure you’d rather be out on the harbour rather than having to mess around with boring disability issues. After all, it’s not your responsibility if some people  ‘choose’ to stay indoors rather than go sailing because they happen to have a disability.

Oh, wait, you’re Minister for Disabilities.

Yes, indeed, another National member of Parliament has revealed her innermost thoughts and feelings about us plebes. We are an inconvenience. Especially on a fine, sunny day.

Ms Wagner soon received a barrage of criticism for her 15 June ‘tweet’;

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1h1 hour ago

really? your response to backlash is to double down and refuse to apologise?? I hope you end up on the news for this.

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4h4 hours ago

Replying to

Then resign and give your position to someone with integrity and compassion. Shame on you.

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14h14 hours ago

Replying to

So would everyone with a disability but not everyone gets that choice…

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2h2 hours ago

Replying to

I suggest you step down then. Our communities deserve someone who wants to be there and makes a difference.

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3h3 hours ago

Replying to

find a new job as a fisherman if representing our disabled community is too much of a chore

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12h12 hours ago

Replying to

You tweet this? Clearly your judgement is poor. Make the most of your good fortune

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2h2 hours ago

Replying to

I hear you- I hate it when our daughters disability gets in the way of our sailing. And biking. And overseas travel. Ugh

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12h12 hours ago

Replying to

Well sorry for taking up your precious time by having a disability. I’d rather not have to think about it either. Ugh.

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2h2 hours ago

Replying to

Oh my gosh. Your my mp. From my area. You told me disability was your most important thing to you. You lied to me.

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9h9 hours ago

Replying to

Resign from your ministerial position. Such a flippant attitude when your meant to be meeting critical stakeholders of your portfolio! Shame

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7h7 hours ago

Replying to

i can tell this tweet isn’t going to age well over the next few months…

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And this (amongst many more) which sums things up in a nutshell;

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10h10 hours ago

Replying to

No worries, sweetie, after September 23 you can spend as much time on the harbour and away from pesky work as you like. 😀

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One hapless National Party supporter tried – without much success – to mitigate matters;

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8h8 hours ago

Replying to

Nicky you might pay to reread your tweet slowly & listen to your words.The delivery of this measage is appalling. Goodluck defending it oops

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Followed by,

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Good try – but stop digging, Geoff.

Ms Wagner quickly realised the enormity of her blunder and attempted to make good with two follow-up ‘tweets’, about eleven minutes apart;

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But by then, at least one representative from the msm had noticed the twitterstorm that had blown up around Minister Wagner;

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8h8 hours ago

Replying to

We will all stand by and watch for your ‘clarification and apology.’ See Alfred Ngaro for further help.

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8h8 hours ago

Replying to

Ummmm.. awkward. You could always resign if you don’t like your job! I know a bloke who does good harbour tours to the whales and dolphins.

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Garner’s description as “awkward” would be an understatement.

Perhaps, as National Party supporter Geoff Booth said, “We all make mistakes“. But National ministers and mps have a track record of occasionally letting slip what they really think of  us serfs. And it isn’t very flattering.

If this is how Ms Wagner feels about spending time on disability issues, perhaps it explains why we have had three housing ministers – simultaneously – and yet we still have rising homelessness and worsening housing affordability.

Perhaps it explains why we have chronic health underfunding, including  over-stretched mental health services.

Perhaps it explains why we still have high youth unemployment of NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, or Training), and allowing 70,000 migrants to come to New Zealand because we are “short of skilled workers”.

Perhaps it explains why – when the economy is supposedly growing – wages have stagnated.

Obviously, National ministers would rather be doing something else.

In one way, former disgraced MP, Aaron Gilmore was the most honest out of the entire National parliamentary caucus; he really did express the innermost feelings of how the Born-To-Rule view us. I suggest Ms Wagner resign from Parliament and Aaron  Gilmore take her place. At least he’s more upfront and we know what we’re getting.

The rest of his National colleagues can also take a long, long cruise out onto the Auckland harbour.

 

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References

Radio NZ:  Bennett ‘would consider another privacy breach’

NZ Herald:  Key – US journalist Greenwald ‘a loser’

NBR:  ‘Dotcom’s little henchman’

Mediaworks:  ‘Do you know who I am?’ – Aaron Gilmore

NZ Herald: Minister to students: ‘Keep your heads down’

NZ Herald:  Associate Housing Minister Alfred Ngaro reprimanded, apologises to PM over Willie Jackson comments

Parliament: Nicky Wagner

Twitter: Nicky Wagner

Twitter: Nicky Wagner – would rather be out on harbour

Twitter: Nicky Wagner – follow up on harbour tweet 1

Twitter: Nicky Wagner – follow up on harbour tweet 2

Previous related blogposts

Foot in mouth award – Former ACT MP exposes flaw in free-market system

Foot in mouth award – another former ACT MP plumbs new depths of dumbness

Foot in mouth award – Bill English, for his recent “Flat Earth” comment in Parliament

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 June 2017.

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= fs =

David Bowie – returning to the stars

11 January 2016 1 comment

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david bowie

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8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016

A fantastically, uniquely talented individual. His music was always original and provocative.

He was with us briefly, now he has passed on, and his atoms will return eventually to the stars, from whence they came.

Take good care of him, Major Tom…

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= fs =

 

 

Categories: People Being People Tags:

The Best Laid Plans of Mice, Men, and Mechanoids…

6 January 2016 1 comment

From a recent Radio NZ news-story…

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Zuckerburg plans to build AI in 2016

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However, Mr Zuckerberg might ponder that a true AI (artificial intelligence)  might have something to say about being unpaid slave labour for a multi-billionaire…

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Rosie_the_Robot_1c

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References

Radio NZ: Zuckerburg plans to build AI in 2016

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Weekend Revelations #2 – Michelle Boag has a whinge

2 November 2015 3 comments

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National Party staying strong on crime

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From TVNZ’s Q+A, on 25 October 2015,

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Q+A - 25 october 2015 - police - michelle boag - simon dallow

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The Q+A panel were ostensibly discussing out-going Police Association President, Greg O’Connor’s persistent calls to arm the New Zealand police. At one point, former National Party president, Michelle Boag offered her views on policing-techniques in this country;

@5.10:

Michelle Boag: “…But, it’s, it’s a bit of a shame, that for most of us, certainly for me personally, the, the only direct engagement I end up with Police is when they stop me as they did yesterday morning when I was driving to golf at seven o’clock in the morning for a random breath test. Right, so that’s an instant confrontational thing. And, er, it just makes you think, ‘oh god, here they are, enforcing’ all the time-”

Simon Dallow: “So were you more annoyed or were you more pleased that society is being protected here?

Boag: “Er, well, I was annoyed because I haven’t had a drink for twenty years. And every time I get stopped on the way to golf early on a Saturday morning, I think, it’s a complete waste of your time. However, I know, if rather than saying my name and address, I say, ‘Listen, I don’t drink, you’re never going to catch me’, that I’ll probably get hauled up for, y’know, talking back to a policeman.

It should not be lost on most politically conscious folk that one of National’s strongest, most agressively promoted tenet is that of “Law and Order”. One of it’s seven main election billboards, for the 2011 election, was the image at the top of the page.

National’s political history is replete with passing laws empowering the police and spy organisations SIS and GCSB. (The GCSB was set up under National, under then-Prime Minister Robert Muldoon’s leadership.)

Since 2008, National has passed the following laws;

Search and Surveillance Act 2012

Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013

Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Act 2013

Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill

The GCSB’s mandate was changed two years ago to permit it to spy on New Zealanders.

This, despite protests from New Zealanders up and down the country, opposed to extending the powers of the State into our lives. One wonders if Michelle Boag attended any of the anti-GCSB protests that’s been held around the country?

This is not the first time that a National Party apparatchik has been caught up in the new, murky atmosphere of surveillance, that is now part of our lives. In 2013, then-National Party president Peter Goodfellow, complained of being under covert surveillance by a private investigator;

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national-party-boss-alleges-covert-filming

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I blogged on the issue here: National Party president complains of covert filming.

And who can forget the outrageously delicious irony of National’s coalition partner, Peter Dunne, having his emails pinched by Parliamentary Services and passed on to the Prime Minister’s Department.;

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emails-given-to-inquiry

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Then-Fairfax journalist, Andrea Vance, also had her Parliamentary  phone and swipe-card records passed on to the PM’s Department (which was “assisting” the Thorn Inquiry), as an investigation was held into the identity of the secret source who leaked Vance a confidential report into the GCSB.

The irony is that even as Peter Dunne was rearing up and braying in self-righteous indignation at the invasion of his privacy, two and a half weeks later, he voted with National in the Third and final reading of the Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Bill (now an Act) which passed it into law.

Now everyone in New Zealand could have their privacy invaded.

I blogged on the issue here: Parliamentary spies and games – some bad numbers

When governments pass laws extending the powers of the State’s security organisations, and increase surveillance capabilities of spy agencies, then it has created a fertile environment where privacy is no longer as sacrosanct  as it once was. Whether it be police stopping motorists at random to detect potential drunk drivers*;  a private investigator recording a conversation; or one government agency passing private emails on to another; or covert surveillance on potentially all New Zealanders,  a new norm has been created.

Michelle Boag may be indignant at being stopped on her way to her golf on a Saturday morning – but her right to unimpeded travel on our roads was extinguished a long time ago. The State now has the right to stop her as, when, and however, it’s security agencies ‘deem necessary’.

She may even have her phone and internet tapped, should she ever run foul of a future government.

All perfectly legal.

I love it when National’s quasi-fascistic law and order policies eventually catch up with it’s own supporters.

Thank you, Lady Karma.

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"We are from the government we are here to help. - Ruatoki, 15 October 2007

    “We are from the government, we are here to help.” – Ruatoki, 15 October 2007

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* Footnote:
It should be noted that this blogger has no problem with random breath-testing conducted by Police. Whilst this country is awash with cheap, easily-available booze; and whilst New Zealanders refuse to address our penchant for binge-drinking, random breath testing is one of the few means we have to protect ourselves and our families from liquored-up drivers. Michelle Boag needs to get over her preciousness and sense of entitlement in this regard. The next drink driver the police catch could be one  on her road, as she drives to her golfing rendezvous.

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References

TVNZ Q+A:  Panel on arming the Police

Wikipedia: Government Communications Security Bureau

Fairfax media: National Party boss alleges covert filming

Fairfax Media:  Emails given to inquiry

Parliament: Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Bill

Previous related blogposts

Parliamentary spies and games – some bad numbers

National Party president complains of covert filming – oh the rich irony!

It is 1984. It is ALWAYS 1984

National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

Those who love Big Brother

Welcome to new glorious People’s Republic of New Zealand

From the Horses mouth

Today’s irony was brought to you courtesy of former ACT MP and Govt Minister, Rodney Hide

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314770_10150396588331397_707526396_10526548_1193185338_n

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 Octobr 2015.

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An open letter to Pebbles Hooper…

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Pebbles Hooper resigns from Herald roles

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Ok, you’ve done the right thing… for now.

In a part of my mind, I *shock, horror* have a small degree of wistful sympathy for you, Ms Hooper. (No, not for what you’ve said – that was repugnant beyond belief.)

My sympathy is based on the premise of youthful stupidity.

I’ve had my own “youthful indiscretion” which caught up with me a few years ago.

I didn’t do hard drugs (the occassional toke was about the extent of my venturing into the realm of illicit substances).

I binge-drank until a final event around Christmas 1985 made me do some very fast growing up. (No, not drunk driving – that is one taboo I’ve had the common sense never to attempt.)

I could do stuff with my little Mini 1100 that was later featured in the cult movie, ‘Goodbye Pork Pie’. (Hey, I was in my early twenties – and young people are indestructible to Kryptonian-level, as we believed ourselves to be.)

I was a cad with women. (Though I loved and lost a few in the process.)

It wasn’t until my late twenties, with the anchoring of a good woman who came into my life, that I began to settle down, mature, and realise that just ‘cos I could do or say a thing, didn’t necessary mean it was automatically a Good Idea.

My politics changed with me as I matured into my thirties. My views softened. The world was not so much black and white,, as 99% shades of grey, with a sprinkling of other rainbow colours…

I associated with other people. More mature people. A wider cross-section of humanity.

In short, it took a while, but I grew up. (Most of the time.)

Ms Hooper, your life is ahead of you and whilst you have made a horrendous mistake that will be long remembered, you can (and hopefully will) learn from this experience.

Lesson 1: How would I feel if I were in that person’s position. Think deeply about that. It’s called empathy.

Lesson 2: Just because you can say a Thing, doesn’t mean you should. Yes, free speech exists – but others can use that same right to free speech to express their thoughts and feelings. And the feedback you get may not be pleasant. Free speech cuts both ways.

Lesson 3: Your coffee may be black or white, but the human condition is not. Ms Hooper, you may not understand this now. But you will by the time you are  50 or 60. One hopes.

Lesson 4: Shit happens. (No, I don’t like that cliche either.) In other words, people make mistakes. Only gods, cyborgs, supermen, and superwomen do not. I suspect you are none of these, so you yourself may make the odd mistake now and then. Just like you did yesterday, on Twitter. Think twice; thrice; more times, before passing judgement. Remember, that judgementalism cuts both ways, Ms Hooper.

Lesson 5: More like advice. You should surround herself with other, more diverse people. Those with the same mind-set as yours may not be good for your personal growth.

Just as when I was a pratty, right-wing, know-it-all, teenager, who could easily have been a member of ACT On Campus – I associated with a young chap who made me question my assumptions; Mark Davies, the son of trade unionist, Sonja Davies.

Mark was a communist (Soviet-aligned); staunch trade unionist; and anti-American, and we had the most heated, passionate arguments. Boy, he made me think. (I was grief-stricken when Sonja told me, many years later, that Mark had been killed in an industrial workplace accident.)

This will pass, Ms Hooper. But it depends what you do with this ‘stumble’ in your life, that makes it worthwhile as a learning experience.

I hope you make the most of it.

 

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= fs =

There’s never a towie around when you need one…

10 April 2015 2 comments

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UFO dumped stupid people

 

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On Tuesday (7 April) morning, in Kilbirnie’s Bay Road, we spotted this black ute parked on the road, blocking access to the disability carpark. Note that the ute wasn’t actually parked IN the carpark. He just parked blocking it, and creating a nuisance to those trying to drive past.

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towtruck parked blocking disability carpark - kilbirnie wellington - 7 April 2015 (2)

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towtruck parked blocking disability carpark - kilbirnie wellington - 7 April 2015 (3)

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The vehicle belonged to “Total Towing”. I wonder if I could’ve called up the company’s office and asked for their offending vehicle to be… towed?

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towtruck parked blocking disability carpark - kilbirnie wellington - 7 April 2015 (4)

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Note the car behind the ute, in the next image. The poor old bugger was patiently waiting to use the disability carpark. That made him double-park as well.

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towtruck parked blocking disability carpark - kilbirnie wellington - 7 April 2015 (5)

 

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Poor guy, I felt sorry for him. So decided to do something about it.

The ute’s engine was still running. That indicated that the driver had “popped out quickly” to do an errand, rather than longer-timed shopping.

Which suggested an errand quickly achieved… like going to the local Post Shop.

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towtruck parked blocking disability carpark - kilbirnie wellington - 7 April 2015 (1)

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Such as the Post Shop only a few metres from the carpark.

I walked inside and immediately saw the long queue waiting to be served. What’s the bet—?

In my best, loudest voice, honed after years of bellowing slogans at protest marches, I loudly asked,

 

“WHO OWNS THE BLACK TOW-UTE PARKED OUTSIDE THE DISABILITY CARPARK? THERE’S A DISABLED DRIVER WAITING TO USE IT!”

 

A guy with “Towtruck” emblazoned on his black t-shirt popped his head out of the queue…

Gotcha.

That would be me,” he said, quickly leaving the queue, “Sorry, thought I could just pop in and out quickly.”

No, mate, you weren’t thinking.

My reply was non-committal. I wasn’t going to sympathise with him one bit.

He quickly climbed into the ute, and drove off. The old guy moved in and parked his car.

Happy ending.

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(Originally posted on Facebook group, You’ve got my Car Park, want my Disability too?, on 9 April 2015)

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= fs =

New Clothing Standards set by National Party

10 February 2014 7 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 4 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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*

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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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= fs =

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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= fs =

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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= fs =

Random Thoughts on Random Things #1…

21 October 2013 11 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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= fs =

 

 

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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*

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References

Wikipedia: Fred Pohl

Wikipedia:  The Age of the Pussyfoot

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= fs =

 

 

 

 

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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= fs =

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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= fs =

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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98862443-nigella-lawson

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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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= fs =

 

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 20 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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