Pope blasts Curia in Christmas message

The Pope has blasted the Roman Curia in his Christmas message to them. He began:

“Sometimes [Officials of the Curia] feel themselves ‘lords of the manor’ [It. padroni] – superior  to everyone and everything,” forgetting that the spirit, which should animate them in their lives of service to the universal Church, is one of humility and generosity, especially in view of the fact that none of us will live forever on this earth.

He went on to list fifteen ‘diseases’ including:

  • The feeling of indispensability “often stems from a pathology of power, the ‘complex of the elect….is the narcissism that looks passionately on its own image and does not see the image of God stamped on the face of others, especially the weakest and most in need.”
  • “Existential schizophrenia” of double lives that create “parallel worlds”
  • “Terrorism of gossip” that sows discord and that amounts to “cold-blooded murder” of friends and colleagues.
  • Being “excessively busy” and not taking time for rest;
  • Excessive planning of functionalizing, or trying to “close or direct the freedom of the Holy Spirit”;
  • Bad coordination, like an orchestra that produces noise instead of music: “When the foot tells the hand, ‘I don’t need you,’ or the hand tells the head ‘I’m in charge’ “;
  • Rivalry and vainglory: “When one’s appearance, the color of one’s vestments or honorific titles become the primary objective of life”;
  • Indifference toward the needs of others: “When, out of jealousy or guile, you feel joy at seeing another fall rather than lifting them and encourage them”;
  • Accumulation: “When the apostle tries to fill an existential emptiness in his heart by accumulating material goods, not because he needs them but because he’ll feel more secure”;
  • Worldly profit and exhibitionism: “It’s the sickness of those who insatiably try to multiply their powers and to do so are capable of calumny, defamation and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally to show themselves as being more capable than others.”

Then he concluded.

After listing these ailments, Pope Francis continued, “We are therefore required, at this Christmas time and in all the time of our service and our existence – to live ‘speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love’”.

“I once read that priests are like aeroplanes: they only make the news when they crash, but there are many that fly. Many criticise them and few pray for them”, he concluded. “It is a very nice phrase, but also very true, as it expresses the importance and the delicacy of our priestly service, and how much harm just one priest who falls may cause to the whole body of the Church”.

He’s a very different sort of Pope. The ‘padroni’ may not like being told hard truth but it’s good to hear the Pope being prepared to shake up their self serving complacency..

Pope Francis launched a blistering attack on the Vatican bureaucracy Monday, outlining a “catalog of illnesses” that plague the church’s central administration, including “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and gossipy cliques.

The pope’s traditional Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was less an exchange of warm wishes than a laundry list of what the pontiff called the “ailments of the Curia” that he wants to cure.

In a critique that left many of the assembled clerics clearly uncomfortable, the 15 ailments in Francis’ “catalog of illnesses” reflected the take-no-prisoners approach he promised when he was elected nearly two years ago as an outsider with little direct experience in Rome.

Pope Francis issued a blistering critique on Monday (Tuesday NZT) of the Vatican bureaucracy that serves him, denouncing how some people lust for power at all costs, live hypocritical double lives and suffer from “spiritual Alzheimer’s” that has made them forget they’re supposed to be joyful men of God.

Francis’ Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was no joyful exchange of holiday good wishes. Rather, it was a sobering catalog of 15 sins of the Curia that Francis said he hoped would be atoned for and cured in the New Year.

He had some zingers: How the “terrorism of gossip” can “kill the reputation of our colleagues and brothers in cold blood.” How cliques can “enslave their members and become a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body” and eventually kill it by “friendly fire.” About how those living hypocritical double lives are “typical of mediocre and progressive spiritual emptiness that no academic degree can fill.”

Pope Francis on Monday used an annual pre-Christmas meeting with the cardinals and bishops of the Vatican bureaucracy — normally an exchange of good wishes and blessings — to issue a scathing critique of them, warning against 15 separate “diseases” in their work and attitudes.

Saying he wanted to prepare them all — including himself — to make “a real examination of conscience” before Christmas, Francis said while the Vatican bureaucracy was called to “always improve and grow in communion,” it was also prone to “disease, malfunction, and infirmity” like every human institution.

“I believe it will help us [to make] a ‘catalog’ of diseases … to help us prepare for the sacrament of reconciliation, which will be a good step for all of us to prepare for Christmas,” Francis said.

Many of the 15 diseases given by Francis were frank and blunt: a feeling of indispensability like a “rich fool”; of having a “spiritual Alzheimer’s” that makes a person dependent on the present; of living an “existential schizophrenia” of double lives that create “parallel worlds”; and a “terrorism of gossip” that sows discord and that amounts to “cold-blooded murder” of friends and colleagues.

His full message:

Pope Francis: Christmas greetings to Curia

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the heads and other senior officials of the departments of the Roman Curia on Monday, in their traditional exchange of Christmas greetings. In remarks prepared for the occasion and delivered Monday morning, the Holy Father focused on the need for those who serve in the curia – especially those in positions of power and authority – to remember and cultivate an attitude and a spirit of service.

“Sometimes,” said Pope Francis, “[Officials of the Curia] feel themselves ‘lords of the manor’ [It. padroni] – superior  to everyone and everything,” forgetting that the spirit, which should animate them in their lives of service to the universal Church, is one of humility and generosity, especially in view of the fact that none of us will live forever on this earth.

“It is good to think of the Roman Curia as a small model of the Church, that is, a body that seeks, seriously and on a daily basis, to be more alive, healthier, more harmonious and more united in itself and with Christ”.

“The Curia is always required to better itself and to grow in communion, sanctity and wisdom to fully accomplish its mission. However, like any body, it is exposed to sickness, malfunction and infirmity. … I would like to mention some of these illnesses that we encounter most frequently in our life in the Curia. They are illnesses and temptations that weaken our service to the Lord”, continued the Pontiff, who after inviting all those present to an examination of conscience to prepare themselves for Christmas, listed the most common Curial ailments:

The first is “the sickness of considering oneself ‘immortal’, ‘immune’ or ‘indispensable’, neglecting the necessary and habitual controls. A Curia that is not self-critical, that does not stay up-to-date, that does not seek to better itself, is an ailing body. … It is the sickness of the rich fool who thinks he will live for all eternity, and of those who transform themselves into masters and believe themselves superior to others, rather than at their service”.

The second is “’Martha-ism’, or excessive industriousness; the sickness of those who immerse themselves in work, inevitably neglecting ‘the better part’ of sitting at Jesus’ feet. Therefore, Jesus required his disciples to rest a little, as neglecting the necessary rest leads to stress and agitation. Rest, once one who has brought his or her mission to a close, is a necessary duty and must be taken seriously: in spending a little time with relatives and respecting the holidays as a time for spiritual and physical replenishment, it is necessary to learn the teaching of Ecclesiastes, that ‘there is a time for everything’”.

Then there is “the sickness of mental and spiritual hardening: that of those who, along the way, lose their inner serenity, vivacity and boldness and conceal themselves behind paper, becoming working machines rather than men of God. … It is dangerous to lose the human sensibility necessary to be able to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice! It is the sickness of those who lose those sentiments that were present in Jesus Christ”.

“The ailment of excessive planning and functionalism: this is when the apostle plans everything in detail and believes that, by perfect planning things effectively progress, thus becoming a sort of accountant. … One falls prey to this sickness because it is easier and more convenient to settle into static and unchanging positions. Indeed, the Church shows herself to be faithful to the Holy Spirit to the extent that she does not seek to regulate or domesticate it. The Spirit is freshness, imagination and innovation”.

The “sickness of poor coordination develops when the communion between members is lost, and the body loses its harmonious functionality and its temperance, becoming an orchestra of cacophony because the members do not collaborate and do not work with a spirit of communion or as a team”.

“Spiritual Alzheimer’s disease, or rather forgetfulness of the history of Salvation, of the personal history with the Lord, of the ‘first love': this is a progressive decline of spiritual faculties, that over a period of time causes serious handicaps, making one incapable of carrying out certain activities autonomously, living in a state of absolute dependence on one’s own often imaginary views. We see this is those who have lost their recollection of their encounter with the Lord … in those who build walls around themselves and who increasingly transform into slaves to the idols they have sculpted with their own hands”.

“The ailment of rivalry and vainglory: when appearances, the colour of one’s robes, insignia and honours become the most important aim in life. … It is the disorder that leads us to become false men and women, living a false ‘mysticism’ and a false ‘quietism’”.

Then there is “existential schizophrenia: the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of the hypocrisy typical of the mediocre and the progressive spiritual emptiness that cannot be filled by degrees or academic honours. This ailment particularly afflicts those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit themselves to bureaucratic matters, thus losing contact with reality and with real people. They create a parallel world of their own, where they set aside everything they teach with severity to others and live a hidden, often dissolute life”.

The sickness of “chatter, grumbling and gossip: this is a serious illness that begins simply, often just in the form of having a chat, and takes people over, turning them into sowers of discord, like Satan, and in many cases cold-blooded murderers of the reputations of their colleagues and brethren. It is the sickness of the cowardly who, not having the courage to speak directly to the people involved, instead speak behind their backs”.

“The sickness of deifying leaders is typical of those who court their superiors, with the hope of receiving their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, honouring people rather than God. They are people who experience service thinking only of what they might obtain and not of what they should give. They are mean, unhappy and inspired only by their fatal selfishness”.

“The disease of indifference towards others arises when each person thinks only of himself, and loses the sincerity and warmth of personal relationships. When the most expert does not put his knowledge to the service of less expert colleagues; when out of jealousy … one experiences joy in seeing another person instead of lifting him up or encouraging him”.

“The illness of the funereal face: or rather, that of the gruff and the grim, those who believe that in order to be serious it is necessary to paint their faces with melancholy and severity, and to treat others – especially those they consider inferior – with rigidity, hardness and arrogance. In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity”.

“The disease of accumulation: when the apostle seeks to fill an existential emptiness of the heart by accumulating material goods, not out of necessity but simply to feel secure. … Accumulation only burdens and inexorably slows down our progress”.

“The ailment of closed circles: when belonging to a group becomes stronger than belonging to the Body and, in some situations, to Christ Himself. This sickness too may start from good intentions but, as time passes, enslaves members and becomes a ‘cancer’ that threatens the harmony of the Body and causes a great deal of harm – scandals – especially to our littlest brothers”.

Then, there is the “disease of worldly profit and exhibitionism: when the apostle transforms his service into power, and his power into goods to obtain worldly profits or more power. This is the disease of those who seek insatiably to multiply their power and are therefore capable of slandering, defaming and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally in order to brag and to show they are more capable than others”.

After listing these ailments, Pope Francis continued, “We are therefore required, at this Christmas time and in all the time of our service and our existence – to live ‘speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love’”.

“I once read that priests are like aeroplanes: they only make the news when they crash, but there are many that fly. Many criticise them and few pray for them”, he concluded. “It is a very nice phrase, but also very true, as it expresses the importance and the delicacy of our priestly service, and how much harm just one priest who falls may cause to the whole body of the Church”.

Sob story but Salvation Army resists handout mentality

Stuff appears to have laid on the sympathy and guilts:

Kids to go without Christmas, mum says

An Invercargill couple say their six young kids will go without on Christmas day and it’s the Salvation Army’s fault.

Shelly Edwards and Leo Hewett said their six children aged 3-10 will get no presents and have a diet of chicken and bread on Christmas day because the Salvation Army failed to help them in their time of need.

“How can we tell the kids there’s nothing for Christmas?” Shelly asked from their south Invercargill state house yesterday.

Struggling to afford a decent Christmas for their kids, they thought it was sorted when the Nga Kete trust referred them to the Salvation Army scheme called adopt-a-family, which sees businesses and individuals sponsor struggling families during Christmas by providing them with a hamper filled with food and treats.

The family had been on the same scheme last year and received presents for their children, a supermarket voucher and a food hamper, they said.

The couple said they had always believed  the Salvation Army was there to look after people, “not push them away”.

“We were relying on adopt-a-family … it’s sad they won’t help people like us,” Shelly said.

The children would not be getting any presents and the family would eat what was in the fridge, including bread and chicken on Christmas day, they said.

“I feel sad for my kids because they are going to miss out on Christmas … we were counting on that for Christmas,” Shelly said.

But the Sallies didn’t buy this sob story.

However, the Salvation Army says the parents are to blame for their family’s predicament because they have relied on handouts rather than trying to help themselves.

Salvation Army spokeswoman Brenda King said the family had never been put on the adopt-a-family scheme this year, effectively because they had failed to help themselves.

Shelly had been using the services of the Salvation Army for about two years and when she received more than three food parcels in one year she was referred to a budget advice centre to receive financial planning assistance, King said.

However, Shelly had not engaged with the budget advisory service so was not put on the adopt-a-family scheme, King said.

The Salvation Army’s aim was for its clients to get to the point where they could look after themselves and be self sufficient.

“If we keep handing out we are enabling them to stay in the situation they are in. We aren’t actually helping them at all in the long run.”

Shelly and her partner had six children and they were responsible for them, King said.

“I have been in touch with her budget advisor and she assures me they do have money. Like everyone Shelly has known Christmas is coming.”

The Sallies have a reputation for hard work and helping a lot of people.

In this case it sounds like parents have ignored attempts to help them budget through the year, expecting to get a repeat handout for Christmas.

When they were turned down they (presumably) went to the media to shame the Sallies into giving them handouts again.

It’s not surprising to see a tough love stance from the Sallies. It’s difficult for them dealing with a wide range of families in various states of need.

But parents have to take responsibility for their own situation. A range of help is on offer to try and assist them turn their lives around.

This might be a tough Christmas for their kids. But if the parents learn from their harsh Christmas message they might make a better Christmas happen for their kids next year. And they will all be better off for it.

CIA “Queen of Torture” revealed

NZ Herald reports that CIA’s Queen of Torture outed. Like other media outlets they don’t name her but make it very simple to find out her identity.

As with other reporters, Mayer acceded to the requests of the CIA not to name the officer, although she has been identified in other contexts.

However, in response to Mayer’s article and the investigation by television’s NBC news channel that triggered it, the investigative website The Intercept decided to “out her”.

So it’s a quick and easy task to find this. It’s odd when media act responsible and compliant with non-disclosure requests but effectively reveal anyway. The Herald says The Intercept…

was doing so over “CIA objections because of her key role in misleading Congress about the agency’s use of torture, and her active participation in the torture programme (including playing a direct part in the torture of at least one innocent detainee).”

Many of the incidents involving the 49-year-old career CIA officer have been described before. However, because of redactions in official reports of CIA activities, few were aware the operative featuring in them repeatedly was the same woman.

She was criticised after 9/11 for potentially failing to prevent the attacks.

She was harshly criticised after 9/11, when it was revealed that a subordinate had discovered beforehand that two al-Qaeda suspects who later joined the hijack team had entered the country, but failed to notify the FBI.

She went on to become a “key architect” of the “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” (aka torture).

That was the key CIA claim for the torture programme which the Senate’s latest report dismissed as “wrong”.

“She wrote the template on which future justifications for the CIA programme and the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques were based,” the report concluded.

And she made more major mistakes, including feeding falsen information and extracting false information from Khaled Sheikh Mohammed.

She attended the waterboarding at a so-called “black site” in Poland of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the al-Qaeda No3 who masterminded the 9/11 attacks, even though she had no reason, as an analyst, to be there.

She wrote enthusiastically that Mohammed was “going to be hatin’ life on this one”, but accidentally fed the wrong information to his interrogators, who used it to extract a false confirmation.

The information – that there was an al-Qaeda cell of African-Americans operating in the US – led to a manhunt for black Muslims in Montana.

And she was instrumental in an innocent German being abducted and tortured.

She also demanded the rendition of a German citizen named Khalid al-Masri, who was arrested in Macedonia and flown to Afghanistan for interrogation, though the man of the same name the CIA was hunting did not have a German passport.

He was released as a victim of mistaken identity five months later and compensated.

She was promoted and…

… in 2007 gave evidence to Congress on the use of “enhanced interrogation” in which she insisted: “There’s no question, in my mind, that having that detainee information has saved hundreds, conservatively speaking, of American lives.”

That has been claimed to be false testimony to Congress.

She would appear to represent many of the major mistakes made with the torture programme.

The CIA’s arguments for suppression of her name are vague and unpersuasive, alluding generally to the possibility that she could be the target of retaliation.

That’s ironic given that she was significant player in developing and executing a torture programme that appears to be more about oppressive retaliation than legal interrogation.

The Intercept justifies outing her:

The person described by both NBC and The New Yorker is senior CIA officer Alfreda Frances Bikowsky. Multiple news outlets have reported that as the result of a long string of significant errors and malfeasance, her competence and integrity are doubted — even by some within the agency.

The Intercept is naming Bikowsky over CIA objections because of her key role in misleading Congress about the agency’s use of torture, and her active participation in the torture program (including playing a direct part in the torture of at least one innocent detainee). Moreover, Bikowsky has already been publicly identified by news organizations as the CIA officer responsible for many of these acts.

Naming Bikowsky allows people to piece together these puzzles and hold American officials accountable. The CIA’s arguments for suppression of her name are vague and unpersuasive, alluding generally to the possibility that she could be the target of retaliation.

The CIA’s arguments focus on an undefined threat to her safety. “We would strongly object to attaching anyone’s name given the current environment,” a CIA spokesperson, Ryan Trapani, told The Intercept in an email. In a follow-up voicemail he added: “There are crazy people in this world and we are trying to mitigate those threats.”

However, beyond Bikowsky, a number of CIA officials who oversaw and implemented the program have already been publicly identified—indeed, many of the key architects of the program, such as Jose Rodriguez, are frequent guests on news programs.

Trapani also argued that the Senate report is “based only upon one side’s perspective on this story” and that an article about Bikowsky “doesn’t require naming a person who’s never had a chance to rebut what’s been said about them.” When The Intercept asked for the CIA’s rebuttal—or Bikowsky’s—to the critical portrayal of her in the Senate report, Trapani declined to offer one. He noted that CIA Director John Brennan had disputed the report’s contention that the agency had misrepresented the value of the interrogation program.

Innocent people were abducted and tortured. US and International laws and morals were stomped all over. In part this was able to happen because the CIA acts in secret and tries to maintatin secrets to hide from responsibility.

The world deserves much better from the world’s greatest power. Power corrupted is dangerous and despicable and should be openly examined to reduce the chances of it happening again.

If there’s a bit of colateral damage in torturers being ostracised and becoming potential targets of retaliation then tough. It’s not like they are being tortured.

Savage Insult

An insult to Mickey Joseph Savage:

SavageInsult

I see grating clashes in that image, one of which is linking “the architect of the welfare state” with a symbol of crass consumerism. Demeaning and insulting.

‘Blackmail’ blows back on former NZ First MP

Both Asenati Lole-Taylor and her husband have been broken rules accessing criminal records at the Department of Corrections.

Earlier this month it was reported that the husband of ex NZ First MP Lole-Taylor lost his job “after inappropriately accessing the criminal records of a former party official.”

Husband of ex-MP loses job for peek at records

The Corrections Department confirmed manager Dennis Taylor, husband of Asenati Lole-Taylor, is no longer employed after an investigation into a complaint by former director and Mana electorate chairwoman Marise Bishop.

Her historic drink-driving convictions were divulged to senior party members when she sought re-election at a 2012 convention.

Bishop laid the complaint in June. At the time Lole-Taylor said the allegations were politically motivated and “blackmail”. She could not be reached for comment yesterday. It is understood Corrections has written to her.

Lole-Taylor was the party’s Corrections spokeswoman until September’s election.

It was known before the election that this case was pending. Lole-Taylor was retained on the NZ First list but dropped to a virtually unwinnable position at 16 – NZ First have 11 MPs.

Stuff now report that Lole-Taylor also broke rules at Corrections.

Former MP Asenati Lole-Taylor ‘broke rules’ by accessing records

Former NZ First MP Asenati Lole-Taylor inappropriately accessed the criminal records of a former party official, the Department of Corrections has confirmed.

Dennis Taylor, her husband, lost his job last month after an investigation found he looked up historic convictions of NZ First’s former director and Mana electorate chairwoman Marise Bishop.

Now, in a letter to Bishop, Corrections has revealed the investigation found Lole-Taylor, who was a rehabilitation and reintegration services adviser at the time, also broke the rules.

But because she quit Corrections after becoming a list MP in 2011, they can take no action.

NZ First can probably avoid having to take any action as well but they have not responded to approaches for comment.

Bishop, a former Defence Force communications operator and sales consultant, was stunned by the findings, saying it was “unbelievable.”

“I am still comprehending the outcome,” she said.

However, Bishop has taken a complaint to the Privacy Commission and may decide to raise the matter with police.

Her historic drink-driving convictions were divulged to senior party members when she sought re-election at a 2012 convention. But she had already disclosed her record to the party’s executive board.

At the time, Lole-Taylor said Bishop’s complaint was politically motivated and “blackmail”.

Lole-Taylor has a record of making ludicrous claims against critics.

It’s ironic that she accused Bishop of blackmail when she “broke rules” to access confidential information that she used to try and politically damage someone else.

Lole-Taylor was eight on the NZ First list in 2011. Once could wonder how well she was checked out for that.

This attempted political hit job is unlikely to be one that Winston Peters will want to talk about. His latest crusade has been based on information he has been given from within the Department of Defence.

Dunedin’s Mayor Cull misrepresents fraud report

In response to the damning Deloitte report detailing a possible $1.5 million fraud (for as far back as was decided to investigate) Mayor Cull has made some very questionable statements.

On Radio NZ (Council under fire after fraud report) Cull says:

“Deloitte have concluded that there was no other staff member that benefited financially from the fraud.

“There were control failures and responsibilities but it was clear there was only one perpetrator in the council.”

That’s not what the Deloitte report concludes at all. Under Were other Council staff involved?

DCCDeloitte3

Cull is wrong on a number of counts.

  • Finding no evidence is quite different to “concluded that there was no other staff member that benefited financially”.
  • Obtaining vehicles at a discount to wholesale market value is a financial advantage.
  • Deloitte said that the police “may be interested” in staff members who paid for vehicles that the Council received no proceeds or was paid materially less than market value.

Some of the staff members at least will have known they were getting a bargain at the expense of the ratepayers. And paying Bachop rather than the council, especially in cash, was imprudent at best.

And there is major redaction of details.

In addition under Limitations the Deloitte reports says:

2.14 There is an inherent risk there are other material frauds at Council not identified in this investigation.

For Cull to put all the blame on one dead person and claim the report concluded no one else in Council benefited, when the report went as far as saying the police may be interested in staff members involved, gives me no confidence at all that the Mayor of Dunedin takes this seriously enough.

He seems more intent on sweeping embarrassments under the carpet.

His serious misrepresentation of the Deloitte report gives the impression he could be seriously misrepresenting the interests of the city’s ratepayers.

Dunedin Citifleece report confirms gobsmacking laxity

The Deloitte report on the vehicle 9and other) fraud at Dunedin City Council confirms a gobsmacking laxity in the council financial systems and staffing oversight.

$1.5 million of taxpayers money stolen. Perhaps significantly more – they say it’s too hard to check the full extent.

Questions have been asked for years about questionable practices, and they were fobbed off. The council was beyond reproach.

It is hard to get a resource consent from the council. They have a well known reputation for stifling business development, and proposals to rezone land struggle against intransigent bureaucrats. Talk of fiefdoms and agendas within the council are common.

But when it came to systems and oversight within the council was unforgivably lax.

The blame is all being aimed at one person, the ‘Citifleet Team Leader” (perhaps that should be Citifleece) Brent Bachop, who died suddenly just days after being confronted. No suspicious circumstances regarding his death, many suspicious circumstances regarding his dealings within the DCC.

DCCDeloiite1Well over a hundred vehicles still on the Council asset register had been sold over the previous ten years. Too a variety of people who knew they were getting a bargain, and many of home paid cash or check directly to Bachop or paid into his own bank account.

This fraud didn’t happen without a willing market, at the very least.

DCCDeloitte2A number of gobsmacking control failings allowed Bachop to get away with this. And that’s just the vehicles. Able to sell over a hundred vehicles (the ‘high risk’ number was 152) without anyone else noticing anything wrong with the asset register. Over a ten year period.

And that wasn’t all.

Use of an unrestricted fuel card to purchase personal items including soft drinks, packets of chips, milk, chocolate biscuits,  bread and petrol for personal use – $102,908.

He bought a trail bike for $7,333.33 with council money that never appeared on the asset register and was never registered as owned by the council.

Cash withdrawals for topping up car park pay stations – $104,800 unaccounted for.

An un-named person was given a parking ticket in 2007 using a Council vehicle. Reported and no known follow up. Staff regularly observed person in Council vehicles during Council work hours. Person had use of Council car for the six months up until discovery of the fraud in May, and petrol and $3020 of repairs were paid by council in that period.

The openness of some of the abuses are as gobsmacking as the lack of systems, oversight or checking the many ‘red flags’.

As a Dunedin ratepayer throughout this period I’m appalled.

A number of changes have taken place and we have been assured that nothing like this will happen again. But no one has yet been held to account.

A dead man looks like being responsible in a big way. But he was allowed to get away with it by many others.

DCC: Deloitte Report Released

Redacted report: www.dunedin.govt.nz/deloittereport

Radio NZ:

ODT: $1.5m fraud: ‘Red flags were ignored’

ODT: Fraud: Weak council culture cited

ODT: Bachop at ‘centre of’ other issues

ODT editorial: DCC fraud: a salutary lesson

ODT Councillors waffle: Findings disappoint most councillors

What if? Dunedin: Vandervis: Deloitte and Police Citifleet investigations

Received from (councillor) Lee Vandervis
Fri, 19 Dec 2014 at 11:54 a.m.

Deloitte and Police Citifleet Investigations – information I believe should be public in the public interest.

What if? Dunedin: DCC: Deloitte report released on Citifleet #whitewash

I knew Brent personally and was shattered when he [died]. Whilst I am disappointed he was clearly guilty I cannot believe he was the only person involved. His death seems to be the opportunity for Council to draw a line under this matter and move on. One wonders what would have happened had Brent been held to account in a court of law. It is hard to believe that a few Council employees and purchasers of these vehicles would not have gone down with him. From what I am reading the whole fraud was committed by Brent and basically no-one else knew a thing about it. Even the most naïve of us knows that cannot be true. It is clear that if you were in the know and wanted a cheap car, Brent was the man to talk to. In conclusion, spare a thought for Brent’s family, his wife, his children, his parents. For them this nightmare goes on, they have lost Brent and yet the pain, grief and search for answers to why continues.

Radio NZ: Council under fire after fraud report

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said the only employee involved in the fraud was Mr Bachop.

“Deloitte have concluded that there was no other staff member that benefited financially from the fraud,” he said.

“There were control failures and responsibilities but it was clear there was only one perpetrator in the council.”

Deloiittes didn’t establish that at all.

Deloitte also found severe failings at the city council over the 11-year period, saying a number of aspects of the council’s culture allowed long-term fraud.

It said the processes for accounting for and monitoring fixed assets were severely deficient and there was little oversight of Mr Bachop.

Mr Cull admitted there were serious failings.

“Deloitte’s review has identified control failures – lamentable ones, appalling ones – and anything that was detected, anything any of those control failures that were identified are either being dealt with or have been dealt with now.”

Dunedin City Councillor Lee Vandervis said he tried to blow the whistle on the scam years ago.

“Most of the issues in the Deloitte report had been known about for many years. Certainly as far back as 2011 and nothing was done about it.”

Stalin compared to Hitler

A post at Whale Oil makes an interesting point, comparing the near universal condemnation of Hitler to far more lenience to Stalin’s extraordinarily brutal rule. I’ve seen plenty of information about it but it has seemed fairly distant and impersonal

In Giovanni Tiso’s fondness for “Grandpa” Stalin there are two personal accounts of life (and often death) under Stalin.

First in the post from a friend of Slater’s who’s family is Russian.

My family fled the Soviet Union during Stalin’s purges of the 30s, abandoning everything, their friends, family, worldly-possessions, because they were terrified of what would happen to them as former farm owners. Most of their family who stayed behind were either murdered by the NKVD or sent off to Siberia, only a handful managed to survive the remaining years of Stalin’s reign.

I remember growing up that my dedushka would nearly break down if we tried to ask him about what life was like in Russia before he and babushka left. He’d point out the millions of people who’d died as a result of Stalin’s purges, power games, agriculture reforms and ethnic cleansing, that’s before he pointed out the two brothers and one sister he’d lost in the years following their decision to flee.

People in the west seem to forget that Stalin was every bit as ideologically nasty as Hitler, intentionally murdering millions of people for reasons just a batty as those Hitler advanced. Yet for some reason, he’s not seen as reprehensibly evil as Hitler.

There’s debate over the number of deaths that can be attributed to both Hitler and Stalin but both wreaked a savage toll on their own populations and also in other countries.

There is also a comment from Lucia Maria, someone who will be familiar to many around the blogs.

My father was a child prisoner in a Soviet gulag in Siberia during WWII. He was transported from Poland to Siberia on train in compartments made for cattle, not humans, during winter.

When the USSR became allies with the West, all Polish prisoners were given amnesty – my Dad’s family was split into those who were directed to the Polish army in the USSR and those that were not army material (ie mother and children).

The second group were sent to Kazakhstan to die of starvation. Amazingly enough, my dad survived this, when those sent to bury the family found some of the children still alive.

Anyway, I don’t have a strong reaction to people such as Giovanni anymore – there are just too many of them. But yes, the comparison of Stalin to Hitler is one I had to stress to my husband recently. Most people just don’t get it.

I guess a significant difference is that we haven’t fought world wars against Russia as we have against Germany.

But give or take a few million lives Stalin was as bad a genocidal brute as Hitler was.

Another difference is that Nazism largely died with Hitler and hasn’t been given any credence by anything other than small groups of extremists.

In contrast many seem to have excused or ignored Stalin’s barbarity because he represented a political ideology they supported.

These same people strongly oppose much of what the US does and stands for. The US is far from unblemished in it’s worldwide inferences but has been nowhere near as bad as Hitler or Stalin, different plant degrees of difference.

Both Stalin and Hitler deserve similar levels of condemnation – as much as can be given.Joking about grandpa Stalin is akin to joking about uncle Hitler. I don’t know why anyone would want to be related to either in any way. Even in jest it would be a sick joke.

For the record Calculating the number of victims cites various sources with most estimates being between 15 and 30 million deaths attributable to Stalin and his policies (which include famines).

Update: Tiso knows what it’s like to be associated with tryants:

(There is, besides, the crass ignorance of the comment. When she was seven years old, my mother was made to line up along the train tracks outside her village and salute Hitler’s train as it passed at speed on its way to Rome. This is my history, you pathetic fool.)

- Tending Fascist

A US torturer interviewed

Dr James Mitchell is a psychologist who was used by the CIA to devise their ‘Enhanced Interrogation” program and was involved in administering ‘Enhanced Interrogations” which he described as very distressing for those administering them, and unsuccessful.

He was recently interviewed on Fox News.

He acknowledges that as well as waterboarding other physical coercions were used including slapping, sleep deprivation and hanging prisoners in positions that severely restricted their movement.

He said that waterboarding didn’t work so they moved on to other methods, and was told to do what was necessary.

A very illuminating and sobering interview.

UPDATE (thanks Alan):

The committee’s report showed that CIA and private medical professionals were centrally involved in the program, and that they “violated numerous international treaties, laws and ethical codes,” said the Physicians for Human Rights analysis.

Leading roles were played by two private psychologists, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who developed and administered the harsh techniques and formed a private company to which the CIA paid US$81 million (NZ$104m)

From Right group: CIA torture violated Nuremberg ban on human experimentation

Torturers are paid well in the US.

Remember Abu Ghraib?

First they came for the Muslims…

Actually the Muslims are sixth on this list from a comment at Kiwiblog by ‘waikatosinger’

First they came for the Salfists,
and was happy because I don’t like Salafists.
Then they came for the Shi’ite,
and I did nothing because I am not Shi’ite.
Then they came for the Kurds, the Sunni and Pashtuns,
but I am not any of those.
Then they came after
… all Muslims
… everyone who owns a copy of the Q’oran,
… all people from the Middle East,
… the Baha’i and the Hari Krishnas,
… Masons and Mormons because they sound a bit like Muslims,
… the Jews on general principle,
… women who keep their heads covered,
… Catholics, Buddists, people who mediate,
… vegetarians, veterinarians, veterans
… and now they are coming for me.

That’s not likely to change many minds, the Kiwiblog thread on the Sydney hostage situation ain’t pretty at times.

That was posted in response to this:

Reversing the trend will involve discrimination. Reclassify Islam as a political belief system. Identify the most virulent strain of Islam (as they are not all the same) and revoke the citizenships of members of that group. Pick one group at a time. Work through the process politely and professionally. Review progress. Proceed on to the next group if required. (Of course, such a process can only happen with the support of the New Zealand people.)

Fortunately ‘the New Zealand people’ aren’t well represented by the active commenters at Kiwiblog. Kowtow reacted:

The problem is not that ‘we” are coming for anybody. But they are most dfinitly coming for us and evrything we have.

You can stand idly by, singing Cum By Ya , meanwhile the world is burning.

And..

“Basically a big groundswell of hostility, resolution and restriction will be the only result.”

Hostility is mounting from the general populace. But there’ll be damned little resolution from our politicians and restrictions will largely be on the general popualtion who speak out,we’re racists you see.

There’ll be no change on the treacherous immigration policies that allow these lunatics to come here and flourish.

And his own version:

First they came for the girls in the parks and beaches
Then the off duty soldiers
Then the on duty policmen
Then the people in the cafes
The night clubs and pubs
The buses,the trains and planes.

And still the left spoke out
Let more of them in.
When enough of them were in
And they became the majority
They came for the Left who had spoken out for them.

And the only sound in the Land was

Allahu Akbar.

And then:

Sydney Syndrome.

Muslim takes hostages in Sydney and cultural marxists on kiwiblog want to increase the danger in New Zealand by continuing to allow more Muslims to immigrate.

And:

“The very notion of laws intended to alter, via the force of the state, the religious make-up of a population is anathema to democratic values and liberty in general.”

By allowing Muslim immigration then democratic values and liberty are endangered.Not today or next year but eventually. Europe is already fracturing into unprecedented little Muslim enclaves .Tower hamlets is a good example where the Queens Writ no longer runs. Plenty of parisian suburbs too,and there’ll be many more.

massive and uncontrolled Muslim immigration is the cause.

We have neither massive nor uncontrolled immigration of Muslims.

Kowtow’s leaning on this is not isolated there.

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