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Posts Tagged ‘NZDF’

58,000 Youth Unemployed

30 October 2011 3 comments

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= 2008 =

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In July 2008, John Key made these committments to New Zealand voters;

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National wants all young people to have the opportunity and responsibility to better themselves, no matter what their circumstances, abilities, or track record.

We expect that all those under the age of 18 should be in work, education, or training. To make this possible, National will provide a universal educational entitlement for all 16- and 17-year-olds.

We know there are plenty of 16- and 17-year-olds who have jobs and are learning from them. We also think there are some who might be more motivated and who might achieve more if they could learn in a non-school setting.

This Youth Guarantee will be different from the education entitlements of the past – because we won’t presume that in the 21st century, school will always be the best place for every young adult to be educated.

Our policy will help a large and potentially productive group of young people make a smoother transition from school into further education.

OUR PRINCIPLES

• Building opportunity for all.
• Encouraging ambition.
• Higher standards in education.

NATIONAL’S PLAN

The Youth Guarantee

National will provide a Youth Guarantee – a universal education entitlement for all 16-and 17- year-olds.

This will allow them to access, free of charge, a programme of educational study towards school-level
qualifications.

Most will continue their education at school, but others might be more motivated and might achieve more if given the opportunity to learn in a non-school setting. They might choose to continue their education at, for example, a polytechnic, a wananga, a private training establishment, or through an apprenticeship.

Courses offered under the Youth Guarantee will have to meet strict quality criteria.

This new entitlement will be on top of, not instead of, the education entitlements young people have now.

Sixteen and 17-year-olds who are not working, and who fail to take up this new entitlement, will not be eligible to receive a benefit.

National estimates these new initiatives will cost $65 million a year.

Source

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= 2011 =

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Since then, New Zealand’s youth unemployment has burgeoned from the 25,000 quoted in John Key’s speech, to over double that:  58,000 young New Zealanders.

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Full Story

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Far from “those under the age of 18 should be in work, education, or training“, National has actually scrapped or severely cut back programmes that assisted  young people  into skills training,

Govt cut $146m from skills training, Goff says

Bennett cutting a benefit that helped her – Labour

Even policies designed to specifically create jobs have been either failures, or undone by other National policies. For example, National promised the following,

” * $5.3 million to encourage developers of cycleway projects to hire 500 young people”

* $2.6 million for extra training places in the defence forces

Source

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Actual results,

Morale slumps as job cuts hit Defence Force

Cycleway jobs fall short

Army shifts $2m contract to China

Since then, National’s policies for unemployed young people consist of, tinkering with youth welfare benefits,

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Full Story

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Amongst National’s  “bold” ideas is,

Anyone aged 16 or 17 on a benefit – other than the invalid benefit – would be also paid in a different way…

… Money for basic living costs like food loaded on to a new payment card that could not be used for things like alcohol or cigarettesSource

Which is kinda bizarre, since it is already illegal for retailers to sell cigarettes and alcohol to 16 and 17 years olds.

Another of National’s  “bold” initiatives is to return to youth rates, which Labour abolished in 2008,

Nats propose starting-out youth wage

Election explainer: New Zealand’s minimum and youth wage rates, what’s happened in the past, and why they are an election issue – interest.co.nz

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To some people, introducing a youth rate to give young school leavers and unemployed a chance to get into a job sounds fair and reasonable.

Unfortunately, were it that simple.

A youth rate is counterproductive on several levels.

  1. There is often little difference in productivity between a 19 or 21 year old. So it’s an issue of fair pay for fair work.
  2. A youth rate simply shifts job opportunities from one age bracket to another. There is no net increase in employment.
  3. A youth rate is another driver toward reducing wages in the country – and we already lag far behind Australia.
  4. Employing young people on youth rates certainly won’t mean cheaper “charge out” rates for services (or products)  – employers would simply make a larger profit from lower-paid workers.

Even John Key admitted last August,

While a youth minimum was a factor, the Government didn’t want the public to believe it was the only factor. “Because I think if it’s the only factor someone’s getting employed on, we’re probably getting off on the wrong track here.” Source

It seems obvious that National has no real plan to address our growing youth unemployment. Their reliance on fiddling with youth unemployment is ad hoc tinkering; their plan for a “bene card” is laughable; and their proposed policy to re-introduce youth rates is basically an admission of surrender.

Instead of creating new jobs, National’s plan will simply shift employment from one age group to a younger, cheaper group. It pits one sector of society against another – an all to common tactic in right-wing politics, that values Individualism above Community.

National’s track record on this problem is abundantly clear,

2008: 25,000 unemployed young people

2011: 58,000 unemployed young people

Plus, on top of that, valuable policies designed to train and upskill young people into jobs have been cancelled or suffered funding cutbacks.

The answer is blindingly obvious. We need more jobs – not lower wages for some unemployed. This is not what John Key promised us  in 2008, when he said,

Why, under Labour, is the gap between our wages, and wages in Australia and other parts of the world, getting bigger and bigger?

We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.” – John Key, “2008: A Fresh Start for New Zealand

By National’s own Standards, they have failed to deliver on their promises.

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Additional

Speech by John Key: 2008: A Fresh Start for New Zealand

Youth rates will not solve youth unemployment

Return of youth wage unlikely – Key

Youth unemployment a growing problem

Nats propose starting-out youth wage

Making young poor won’t help jobless

Editorial: Hiring policy leaves youth vulnerable

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The Art of ‘Spin’

21 October 2011 2 comments

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The Art of  ‘Spin’ – or misleading the public – is a tool that every politician knows how to use almost in their sleep. For a successful politician, they must know how to ‘spin’ an issue so it appears in the public domain in a way that is favourable to the poli.

Of course, a politician could adopt a radical practice of telling the truth (as s/he sees it) – but they either worldn’t last long, or would be pilloried in the media and public. (Hone Harawira is a prime example of a politician speaking his mind – and getting publicly vilified for it.)

When the public say they want “honest politicians”, I suspect this is not true. I suspect what the public really wants is for politicians to say what the public want to hear (John Key and David Lange are also prime examples of this), and if they’re fibbing or stetching the truth – the public don’t want to know. Especially if it’s a particular party we each support.

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Occassionally, though, politicians become ‘unstuck’, and their “spin” is unmasked for what it is: bullshit.

Case in point: what is the role of the SAS in Afghanistan? John Key assured us that  it was ‘mentoring‘,

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Full Story

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Only problem is… it wasn’t quite true. SAS soldiers were ending up dead – casualties in firefights with insurgents (or local families disputes).

Eventually, Minister of Defence Wayne Mapp had to come clean and admit what we all suspected to be the plain and simple truth;  the SAS’ “mentoring role” of the Afghan Crisis Response Unit (ACRU) was actually more of  a “substantial combat component”.

In other words, they were shooting at the enemy, and the enemy was most definitely shooting back.

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Full Story

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Ironically, Key and Mapp still attempted to put a ‘positive spin’ on their previously unsuccessful ‘spin’,

Minister of Defence Wayne Mapp has admitted the SAS’ mentoring role of the Afghan Crisis Response Unit (ACRU) has morphed into a role with a “substantial combat component”.

However, neither he nor the Prime Minister believe this means the SAS are in Afghanistan in a combat role.” Source

So as the TV3 headline sez, the SAS is in combat, but not in a combat role?!

As Manuel used to say in a certain Torquay hotel,

Que?¿

How does that work – being in combat, but not in a combat role???

Oh well, I guess National’s Ninth Floor spin doctors were having such a hard time reconciling the disparate comments from Dear Leader and Wayne Mapp, that they just decided that any old BS will do. After all, at 50%+ in public opinion polls, I guess it doesn’t really matter if the public believe their latest ‘spin’ or not.

However, that leads on to a somewhat more serious and deadly matter,

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Full Story

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Judging by John Key’s and Wayne Mapp’s earlier “assurances” about “mentoring/combat” roles, I find it hard to accept anything that comes out from this government. Hell, if John Key tells me it’s October, my first inclination would be to check my calendar!

I sure as hell hope that when Defence Force Chief Lieutenant-General Jones says that there was “no complicity in torture or any other international crime by New Zealand or members of the NZDF by partnering with the CRU” – that this is the pure, unvarnished truth.

Because if it ever comes out that we’ve been lied to and NZ troops were complicit in torture – then that will be a dark stain on our country’s reputation. It also makes us liable to be charged at the International Criminal Court for being accessory to war crimes.

To John Key, I say this; if we are playing some kind of covert role in supporting torture in Afghanistan, even in an indirect manner, then be aware of one thing: eventually the truth will come out. Secrets do not stay secret for long.

And you will be known as the NZ Prime Minister who sanctioned torture.

Do not play “silly buggers” with this issue, Mr Prime Minister. Take it from me that secrets do not last.

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Additional information

Minister releases report on Afghan detainees

Listen to Radio NZ  Checkpoint interview with Wayne Mapp

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State-sponsored voyeurism? No thanks, Mr Key.

The Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill is perhaps one of the shortest pieces of legislation ever brought before Parliament. The text is barely three paragraphs long.

Yet, the implications of this Bill is far-ranging in it’s impact on our society which supposedly values freedom, privacy, and civil rights.

With this Bill, the government is effectively over-riding a Supreme Court decision, and re-writing law to suit itself – and the Police force.

Many New Zealanders who understanding the ramifications of this Bill are not just unhappy – they are scornful of John Key’s government. That scorn was publicly expressed today (Saturday, 1 October), when a protest closed much of Victoria Street in down-town Wellington, opposite the Central Police Station.

The protest was peaceful and made it’s way to the nearby Wellington waterfront.

Mainstream media – except for the Radio NZ website – did not report any of todays’ protest event.

From Radio NZ,

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Source

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Meanwhile, the Dominion Post fed this to the Happy Folk of Wellington,

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Full Story

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Now don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against the military. (Even if they have mis-spent $20 million of our tax-dollars on advertising and PR campaigns.)  The NZDF generally do a damned good job.

Then, for the media to report on the pomp and ceremony of our Armed Forces – whilst ignoring protest activity  opposing a Bill that is both invasive of our privacy and contemptuous of the Courts – is frightening. And lazy. There is a tinge of subtle “stalinism” in this affair; public displays of our clean-cut, brave boys (and girls) in uniform – whilst in the back-rooms of government offices, politicians are doing sneaky things to undermine our civil rights.

Thankfully, there are those who are not prepared to take such an affront to our freedoms lying down, like sheep-in-a-paddock.

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Something of immediate importance that did make it into the Dominion Post,

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Never under-estimate the media’s priorities in presenting critical, news-worthy stories to the public.

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+++ Updates +++

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Source

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Whilst this is a slight improvement, it still doesn’t resolve serious concerns that are held about this piece of legislation.

New Zealand has become a much-surveilled society in the last 20 years, with cameras everywhere, including your local public library.

If people had seen this coming in 1984, I wonder how they would have reacted? With horror and anger I am guessing.

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+++ Updates +++

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As part of the campaign opposing this atrocious piece of  “1984ish” piece of legislation, this Blog lobbied several ACT and Labour MPs to encourage them to vote against it.  Charles Chauvel (Labour) was one of only two MPs to respond,

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from:    Charles Chauvel Charles.Chauvel@parliament.govt.nz
to:    [email]
date:   Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 11:40 AM
subject:    RE: Video Camera Surveillance Bill!

Good morning

Thank you for your email regarding the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill.

Labour has strongly opposed National’s attempt to push through legislation on this issue under urgency and without giving the public a say. We were instrumental in forcing National to send their original legislation to a Select Committee. We made clear that we could not support the Bill that was introduced by National as it had unacceptable retrospective provisions and appeared to widen the powers available for surveillance.

After hearing evidence from experts and other interested parties the Select Committee has significantly altered the Bill.  This has addressed a number of significant issues:

1. In order to allow the Police to resume covert video surveillance from the date of the Bill’s assent, their powers to do so are affirmed, but only on the basis of the law as it was understood prior to the Supreme Court decision, no more broadly than that (as the draft government Bill did), and only on the basis of the most serious offending. Labour would have liked the Bill to go further, and provide a warranting procedure, but the Government left the drafting exercise needed too late to make this happen;

2. The legislation will apply for a maximum of 6 months only, meaning that legislation that can deal with a proper warranting procedure for surveillance will be passed;

3. Cases currently under investigation, whether or not yet before the courts, will not be interfered with by Parliament. The Courts must be left free to determine under existing law whether evidence gathered in support of any such prosecutions is admissible. The overwhelming evidence before the committee was that s30 Evidence Act and s21 NZ Bill of Rights Act give the courts this power, and that there is no justification for Parliament to try to intervene.

With these significant changes, Labour is able to support the Bill.  We believe we have struck a balance between allowing the Police and other investigating agencies to use video surveillance where it is needed, but not giving them wider power or interfering with cases that are currently before the courts.

Persons convicted in cases where covert video surveillance was used in the past cannot now seek to overturn their convictions, or seek compensation from the Crown for wrongful conviction or imprisonment, only by reason of the use of covert video surveillance.  In other words, the law that applied at the time of conviction must clearly continue to apply, rather than the conviction being measured against a later standard.  

I appreciate that this position might not be all that you want. While it would be good to live in a world where video surveillance by the Police was not necessary, sadly we do not live in that world at the moment. Equally, if we are to give powers, we need to ensure they are used only for the most serious cases, and with the appropriate safeguards and procedures.

Labour believes that we have greatly improved this Bill, and a number of the legal academic experts who appeared before the Select Committee have acknowledged that the changes we insisted on have resolved the main issues (though not quite all) they had with the Bill.  I am attaching links to two of those blogs for your information.

http://pundit.co.nz/content/some-praise-for-parliament-rare-though-that-may-be

http://www.laws179.co.nz/2011/10/covert-surveillance-labours-bottom-line.html

Many thanks for taking the time to write. I appreciate you voicing your views.

Yours sincerely

Charles Chauvel

Labour List MP based in Ohariu
Spokesperson for Justice and the Environment

Lets hope that when the “sunset” clause takes effect, that no government of any hue will attempt to resurrect it. New Zealand is a thoroughly surveilled society without adding more to Big Brother.

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Additional Reading

Welcome to 1984

1 October:  Citizens Marched against the new Police Surveillance Bill

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Military ‘spin-doctoring’ – the media catch-up

11 September 2011 4 comments

On 2 August, the issue of the NZDF spending large sums of tax-payers money was raised by Andrea Vance in the “Dominion Post”. I wrote on this issue the following day; “It’s a Man’s World, I guess“.

It seems somewhat odd then, that Neil Reid, has written on this very same issue, in the Sunday Star Times, stating, “Documents obtained by the Sunday Star-Times show the department – covering Army, Air Force and Navy – spent more than $2.7 million in the past financial year on public relations and communications.

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Full Story

This story has at least three componants to it;

1. PR spend.

Last time I looked, the job of the military was to carry out such actions as determined by the Government-of-the-Day. The military is tasked with certain missions, to achieve certain objectives, as laid down by the Minister of Defence, and the Government. In effect, the politicians tell the soldier boys (and girls) to go to “Spot X” and do what soldiers do best; point guns at other people.

As such, it boggles the mind as to what on Earth the NZDF would need to spend $20 million tax-dollars of Public Relations on?!?!

Spending $20 million on tanks, guns, ammunition, radios, tents, medical equipment, planes, trucks – I think we get that. Military gear doesn’t come cheap – not since we moved away  from clubs and pointy-sticks.

But spending that kind of money on PR? That just makes no sense whatsoever.

Unless…

Unless the NZDF were doing something overseas that the Government(s)-of-the-Day were not being totally candid with us, the New Zealand public?

PR is basically ‘spin’ – putting the best possible image of an unpleasant situation. Another word that might be appropriate is propaganda. Authoritarian regimes (such as Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Maoist China, et al) are exceedingly good at propaganda. But Western Democracies have also developed ways and means to use PR/spin/Propaganda to make the public believe something that may not be strictly-speaking, true. (Telling lies, in other words.)

Which leads us to the Big Question: what requires a big enough lie to be told that warrants $16 million dollars of tax-payers’ money to be spent on Public Relations from Saatchi & Saatchi, plus another $4.2 million in media advertising?

Personnel recruitment?

That is difficult to believe when, currently, this government is laying off around 400 military personnel and removing  another 600 out of uniform, to re-employ them more cheaply as civilians.

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There seems to be an obvious and serious “disconnect” from what the NZDF is telling the public, and where the money is being spent, and what for.

$20 million of tax-payers money is not “small change”. Where is it going, and why?

And why aren’t the media delving more deeply into this issue, instead of two, very brief, superficial newspaper stories?

Perhaps the following provides us with a possible answer…

2. “Media product vetting”

The Sunday Star Times article, by Neil Reid, states that,

“…Locke also provided the Star-Times with a contract TVNZ signed before sending a journalist to join the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan, which states the role of defence officials included “media product vetting”.

It follows claims by Hager that the Defence Force had been selective in what it had allowed to be reported in New Zealand on the role of the joint-services team in Afghanistan…”

Commander Phil Bradshaw’s response that the NZDF is vetting images of  “LAVs [light armoured vehicles] [and]  the Humvees” beggars belief.

Is Cmdr Bradshaw seriously telling us that “media product vetting” (ie; censorship) relates to pictures of light armoured vehicles and humvees?!?! In which case, someone needs to advise Cmdr Bradshaw that there as been a serious security breach: a “Google” search using the parameters “NZ Defence Force lav” yielded 79,400 results for images alone.

Let’s hope Al Qaida has no access to “Google”, or we’re stuffed.

No, folks, there is more to the NZDF’s “media product vetting” (censorship) than  pics of a few dusty Army vehicles.

Nicky Hager has pointed the way on this issue, and the media – to it’s eternal shame – has not followed up on this story.

3. Media Complicity?

Not only is there a question mark hanging over how $20 million was spent – but it seems that the mainstream media (MSM) have been decidely blase about asking any serious questions. To date, we’ve seen two newspaper articles by Neil Reid and Andrea Vance – but precious little else in the MSM.

As well as Nicky Hager’s investigative book,  “Other People’s Wars“, Jon Stephenson wrote an article for “Metro” magazine on Afghan prisoners’ treatment after being captured by New Zealand’s SAS. This excellent piece of investigative journalism  resulted in…

“…Prime Minister John Key’s extraordinary ad hominem attack on independent  journalist Jon Stephenson, of ‘Metro’ magazine.

Recently, Stephenson wrote an article in Metro alleging that New Zealand was not meeting its Geneva Convention obligations in its handling of prisoners captured in the course of SAS operations in Afghanistan. You might think that as the only NZ journalist who has regularly been reporting from Afghanistan, Stephenson speaks with some authority.” Source

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“Stephenson speaks with some authority”, writes Gordon Campbell.

But not according to the Prime Minister, who dismissed Stephenson’s article with  almost sneering derision.

In contrast, two senior journalists, Vernon Small and Guyon Espiner, both stated that they were aware of a CIA “presence” at the Kiwi base in Bamiyan.

“In fact, I, and other reporters before me, were introduced to US intelligence and communications staff at Bamiyan and at other Kiwi forward bases and ate and chatted with them. The stars and stripes flies alongside the New Zealand flag at Bamiyan to advertise the US contingent…”  – Vernon Small,  Source

Neither felt it necessary to report this fact to the New Zealand public? In fact, both Small and Espiner remained silent until Nicky Hager’s book blew the whistle on the real situation.

For journalists to withhold information that reveals a truth about our government and/or military,  shows how far the media has sunk in the last twentyfive years. It raises questions not just about competancy and professionalism, but how far the MSM has become a “cog” in the Establishment.

Perhaps the most obscene thing about this matter is that our beloved Prime Minister, the ever-smiling; happily waving  John Key; saw fit to dismiss both Nickey Hager and Jon Stephenson’s investigations into the war in Afghanistan  with  single, derisory, comments,

“Nothing surprises me when it comes to Nicky Hager. So whether they’re true or not is a completely different issue, but he makes a lot of spurious claims and never generally backs it up.” Source

“I’ve got no reason for NZDF to be lying, and I’ve found [Stephenson] myself personally not to be credible.” Source

Two pieces of investigative journalism; well-researched; impeccably documented; and both able to withstand critical scrutiny – dismissed by the Prime Minister without any serious  explanation whatsoever.

Compare the response of the MSM and public to that of a certain stranded penguin and to the proposed “Wellywood” sign in the capital city, and one begins to suspect that, collectively, our priorities are definitely arse-about-face. Perhaps if the SAS had handed “Happy Feet” over to the American CIA, for “extraordinary rendition” to some misbegotten Third World state, for “interrogation”, we might have had an uproar from the good folk of New Zealand?

Well, thankfully “Happy Feet” is safe and sound somewhere in the Southern Ocean.

It’s a shame that  the same cannot be said of  our media in this country.

Read also:

Public Address: Other People’s Wars

Little kept from media eyes at base

NZ Politics Daily – 2 September

PM attacks journalist over SAS torture claims

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It’s a Man’s World, I guess…

3 August 2011 5 comments

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Full Story

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$20 million spent on advertising the military…

Meanwhile, back in the Real World,

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$20 million to advertise the Army – “Must Have” *tick*

$800,000 cut from Women’s Refuges to save lives – “Nice to Have” (But cannot afford.) *cross*

If this isn’t making your stomach turn and a sense of outrage rising up in you, then you have all the emotional capacity of a Dalek.

There is only one word for this, and that word is obscene.

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