Pike River – police may re-investigate

RNZ: Police get ready to reopen Pike River investigation

The police are gearing up to reopen their investigation into the explosion at Pike River, in anticipation of the planned re-entry of the mine later this year.

Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers visited Greymouth last week to meet the Pike River Recovery Agency and victims’ families.

Detective Superintendent Peter Read, who led the initial inquiry into the disaster in which 29 miners died, also attended.

That investigation concluded in 2013 with no charges being laid.

The police said if re-entry was achieved they would complete their scene investigation and assess any new evidence and its impact on the original inquiry.

In a statement, a police spokesperson confirmed the officers met with the Agency on 13 June to discuss the police’s role in the planned re-entry.

“Police would have a dual role should re-entry to the drift be achieved,” the statement said.

“One involves completion of the scene examination in relation to the original police investigation. The other role involves management of any processes required on behalf of the Coroner.

“Any new evidence which is identified would be assessed to determine what, if any relevance it had on the original investigation which concluded in July 2013.”

Police said they were also considering seconding an officer to work closely, albeit remotely, with the Agency in the lead-up to the operation.

This morning:

RNZ:  Pike River families: ‘We’ve been down this road before’

Pike River families have told police they have a long way to go to rebuild trust as they prepare to reopen their investigation into the disaster.

A spokesperson for some of the Pike River families, Bernie Monk, said he was pleased the investigation would be reopened.

But he said the families still have ill-feeling towards the police because of how they walked away five years ago.

“There’s a lot of water to go under the bridge before we accept the police coming back into our lives,” Mr Monk said.

Mr Monk said the families have always considered the mine to be a crime scene.

He told Morning Report the families had sat down with the police last week to work through some of the difficulties they had had with them in the past.

Hard lefties oppose National cooperation on climate change

Jacinda Ardern has described climate change as “my generation’s nuclear free moment” (in a campaign speech in August 2017).

Simon Bridges won’t go that far. On Q+A yesterday

CORIN DANN So certainty. Is climate change the nuclear-free issue of your generation?

SIMON BRIDGES I would not go that far. Is it the most significant environmental issue? Is it an important long-term issue that we need to deal with and deal with seriously and provide certainty on? Yes.

Bridges was vague about where he actually stands on a number of climate issues, and is nowhere near as radical as the Greens, but National have signalled a willingness to work together with other parties – National supporting non-partisan Climate Commission.

But how genuine are they? Not at all according to some on the left.

MickySavage asked yesterday: Does National really want climate change to be a bipartisan issue?

His post concludes:

If this is what National and Simon Bridges is promising then all good and the Government can get on with things.  But if this is merely a replacement of outright denial with a more nuanced approach designed to delay urgent action being taken then he should rethink this.

Bridges has just been reported criticising National MPs expressing doubts about climate change.

Many comments at The Standard didn’t trust National and didn’t want them involved. Petty partisan politics is so ingrained some people can’t countenance cross-party cooperation.

Gabby: “Much easier to wreck things from the inside.”

Robert Guyton: “National’s funders will say, nah.”

Jess: “Bi-partisan means two parties. National wants to regress to Nat vs Labour with Nat as the bigger party, instead of a coalition. Or if they really see Govt and opposition as two parties, their perspective is going to be no help whatsoever (no surprise there).”

Kat: “Agree with you Jess in that National just want to maneuver into a position of taking out the coalition in 2020 by appearing to be genuine about serious issues.”

marty mars: “Simon is insincere imo. The gnats don’t care. Last throw of the die in many ways.”

Stuart Munro: “Trying make a wedge to peel off a few blueish Green voters.”

Jenny: “Feeling the ground shifting under them, National’s corporate sponsors desperately need a bipartisan consensus to do nothing meaningful about climate change.”

Draco T Bastard: “Translation: He wants Labour and the Greens to compromise and accept National’s position. And National will not budge from its position.”

What I think DTB really means is that he doesn’t want Greens to budge from their position – ignoring the reality of an MMP Parliament that requires agreement (and compromise) from at least three parties.

I joined in and said: This is the best opportunity ever for cross party cooperation on dealing with a major issue facing New Zealand and the world. Getting pissy about shunning parties because they don’t measure up to ideals (non of them do) is a bit pathetic given what is at stake.

Robert Guyton:

“Moving towards doing something”
Shuffling their feet so they aren’t considered dead.
That’s all.

I queried Robert: What approach do you think is best Robert – MMP democracy, or petty partisan politics? Greens will get closest to what they want if they’re prepared to work hard with all other parties in Parliament to get the best out of all of them – kinda like the James Shaw approach.”

Robert:

James is handling this issue beautifully, in the way a snake-handler manipulates vipers. Still vipers though.

This was Shaw’s response to National’s announcement they would work with other parties ion climate change:

Fortunately commenters on left wing blogs don’t run things in Parliament, but as Eugenie Sage found out, they can kick up a stink when Ministers follow laws and procedures and allow something activists don’t like.

Wayne Mapp also joined in:

Thank goodness the commenters here are not actually in govt. Most of you would not talk to National on anything (except for terms of surrender).

In reality in a range of issues governments and oppositions co-operate. For instance on national super, various environmental issues, a number of national security isssues there is dialogue and adjustment to get a bipartisan (sometimes multi partisan) consensus.

In fact John Key’s initiative in Opposition was to do the anti-smacking deal with Labour.

But hard lefties seem to hate dealing at all with the political ‘enemy’. In response:

Stuart Munro: “Well you’re a pack of lying assholes.”

One Anonymous Bloke: Here’s a radical idea to improve your public image: stop lying and killing people.

Fortunately people like that are nowhere near real political decision making, all they have is futile vitriol in social media.

This morning on RNZ:

Yemeni war continues, as does the arms industry

The war in Yemen has been going for three years, but it doesn’t get much attention still. But like Syria, it is not just an internal battle, it is a battle that regional and international powers are also involved in, with little success except for feeding the arms industry.

Reuters: Saudi-led coalition conducts air strikes on Yemen’s Hodeidah airport

Houthi forces fought to keep control of the airport in Yemen’s main port city of Hodeidah on Sunday as Saudi-led coalition air strikes struck the compound, in an offensive that could be a turning point in the three-year conflict.

Losing Hodeidah would deal a serious blow to the Iran-aligned Houthis, cutting supply lines from the Red Sea to their stronghold in the capital Sanaa.

It could also give an edge to the Western-backed military alliance which, despite superior weaponry and firepower, has failed to defeat the Houthis in a war that has killed 10,000 people and created the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis.

The coalition wants to restore an internationally recognized government in exile and thwart what Riyadh and Abu Dhabi believe are arch-foe Iran’s ambitions to dominate the region.

Riyadh is Saudi Arabia, and is Abu Dhabi is United Arab Emirates – so they are battling Irani influences in Yemen. And the US is in the mix too.

The offensive could also have ramifications further afield due to Yemen’s role in a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran that has fueled instability across the Middle East.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from Iran’s nuclear deal and his embrace of nuclear state North Korea have added to Tehran’s isolation and put pressure on the Islamic Republic to preserve its interests in Yemen and other Arab states.

 

The United Nations says the assault on Hodeidah could trigger a famine imperiling millions of lives. Many residents are bracing for more hardship as the warring sides dig in.

Imperilling millions of lives – the collateral damage. The population of Yemen is about 28 million people.

In March US approves proposed $1bn arms sale to Saudi Arabia

The US State Department has approved a possible arms sale to Saudi Arabia worth more than $1bn.

“This proposed sale will support US foreign policy and national security objectives by improving the security of a friendly country,” the statement read.

But campaigners, including some US legislators, are urging western governments to halt or limit arms sales to Saudi Arabia because of its involvement in a devastating civil war in Yemen.

The Saudi military offensive, which began in March 2015, has killed at least 10,000, displaced more than 2 million people and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.

US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis, speaking ahead of a Pentagon meeting with bin Salman on Thursday, said Saudi Arabia was “part of the solution” in Yemen.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International, in a statementon Friday, said there “was extensive evidence that irresponsible arms flows to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition have resulted in enourmous harm to Yemeni civilians”.

“But this has not deterred the USA, UK, and other states, including France, Spain and Italy, from continuing transfers of billions of dollars’ worth of such arms,” it added.

Also Nearly half of US arms exports go to the Middle East

Nearly half of US arms exports over the past five years have gone to the war-stricken Middle East, with Saudi Arabia consolidating its place as the world’s second biggest importer, a report has shown.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said on Monday that global transfer of major weapons systems between 2013 and 2017 rose by 10% compared with the five-year period before that, in a continuation of an upward trend that began two decades ago.

The US, which is the world’s biggest exporter, increased its sales between those two periods by 25%. It supplied arms to as many as 98 states worldwide, accounting for more than a third of global exports.

Russia, the world’s second biggest exporter, saw a decrease of 7.1% in its overall volume of arms exports; US exports were 58% higher than those of Russia.

France, Germany and China were also among the top five exporters. The UK is the sixth biggest weapons exporter.

Killing people and destroying stuff is big business.

Media watch – Monday

18 June 2018

MediaWatch

Media Watch is a focus on New Zealand media, blogs and social media. You can post any items of interested related to media.

A primary aim here is to hold media to account in the political arena. A credible and questioning media is an essential part of a healthy democracy.

A general guideline – post opinion on or excerpts from and links to blog posts or comments of interest, whether they are praise, criticism, pointing out issues or sharing useful information.

General chat

“Is there any way we could have a thread for the more lightweight stuff like music and general chat?”

Do it here. Please no personal attacks or bickering. Anything abusive, provocative or inflammatory may be deleted.

Open Forum – Monday

18 June 2018

Forum

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts.

Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts.Comments from other forums can be repeated here, cut and paste is fine.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.

FIRST TIME COMMENTERS: Due to abuse by a few first comments under any ID will park in moderation until released (as soon as possible but it can sometimes take a while).

Sometimes comments will go into moderation or spam automatically due to mistyped ID, too many links (>4), or trigger text or other at risk criteria.

Free speech is an important principle here but some people who might pose a risk to the site may be limited.

World view – Monday

Sunday GMT

WorldWatch2

For posting on events, news, opinions and anything of interest from around the world.

New name for ACT party?

It looks like the ACT party are considering renaming themselves. They have to do something to turn their lack of support around, they are virtually nothing but the MP for Epsom.

Frank Newman: ACT re-branding

…David Seymour says they are looking at a possible name change.

In an interview on Radio NZ on 15 June he said he did not want to give anything away about the new name, but he did mention various options were being considered, like Liberal Party or something more radical like Reason Party.

Well, he actually has already given a fair bit away on this topic.

On the 8th of October 2017 he registered the domain names, liberalparty.org.nz and liberalparty.co.nz. He has not registered domain names involving Reform Party or Reason Party, and those domain names remain.

The registrations were modified recently. But it’s still only ‘possible name change’ at this stage.

The question is whether changing the name will change the public’s perception of the Party.  Changing the name of a dead horse from Jake to Jack, does not bring the horse back to life.

It will take more than a name change – it needs other people involved who look like they could contribute to a party in Parliament, and one of the first hurdles is being seen as serious prospects by media, who are effectively the gatekeepers of any new entrance into politics.

Being rich and eccentric seems to be a prerequisite. Kim Dotcom, Colin Craig and Gareth Morgan all spent millions of dollars and attracted significant media attention, but that didn’t get them over the MMP line (5% threshold).

Seymour has a significant advantage though. If he holds on to Epsom the threshold doesn’t matter, thanks to the failure of the last (National) government to make MMP fair.

History of ACT party vote and MPs:

  • 1996 – 6.1%, 7 list MPs
  • 1999 – 7.04%, 9 list MPs
  • 2002 – 7.14%, 9 list MPs
  • 2005 – 1.51%, 1 electorate MP (Rodney Hide) and 1 list MP
  • 2008 – 3.65%, 1 electorate MP (Rodney Hide), 4 list MPs
  • 2011 – 1.07%, 1 electorate MP (John Banks)
  • 2014 – 0.69%, 1 electorate MP (David Seymour)
  • 2017 – 0.50%, 1 electorate MP (David Seymour)

So even a step up to one more MP will require a tripling of their 2017 party vote unless they can win another electorate.

I thought that Seymour had a fairly good first term considering he had to set up as an electorate MP and set ACT up inn Parliament with no prior experience. But ACT lost ground.

Seymour is trying a dancing stunt to get attention at the moment, but I don’t know whether that will help ACT’s chances. Perhaps his dance party will run as deputy leader.

Consensus government or an awful mess?

It’s certainly been a messy week for the Government. Is it a sign of a bigger, awful mess?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern tried to paper over some of this weeks cracks by claiming it was consensus government in action, but there were worrying suggestions it was the opposite – both Labour and NZ First ministers look like they are pushing their own agendas with poor or non-existent communication between them.

There are worrying signs of a lack of overall leadership, and this is at a very tricky time, with Ardern distracted by having a baby and due to go on maternity leave as soon as her baby is born (actually as soon as she goes into Labour and goes into hospital).

The big unknown is whether things will spiral more out of control with Winston Peters in charge.

The media have observed this weeks mess and many have commented on it.

Stacey Kirk (Stuff): Three ring circus with one ringmaster at the centre – buckle in for a wild ride

Consensus government in action, or a bloody awful mess?

It’s difficult to characterise the past week as anything but the latter and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern may be worried about whether she’ll have a Government to come back to when she returns from maternity leave.

Her MPs don’t exactly make it easy for her.

And if this week has illustrated anything it’s what lies at the beating heart of any coalition-related controversy – Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has been at the centre of everything.

I don’t think he has. He had nothing to do with the David Clark revelations. And nothing to do with the Green uprising over granting water bottling rights.

And nothing to do with Stuart Nash telling a parliamentary committee he didn’t bother reading advice on what effect increasing poluice numbers might have, and would have ignored the advice if he had read it.

Peters  wasn’t directly involved in Kelvin Davis announcing a new prison that will rely on double bunking to cater for growing prisoner numbers – and Davis went as far as saying they could resort to mattresses on the floor. Peters didn’t directly cause that brain fart, but Labour are limited in becoming more lenient on imprisonment when they require NZ First votes to do any law changes.

But Peters dumped Little in a big mess over 3 strikes.

It began with a hastily-arranged press conference by Justice Minister Andrew Little, to reveal that his grand plan to repeal the three strikes legislation had been shot out of the sky.

He’d spent the previous week giving interviews about his plans to take it to Cabinet and push forward – the only issue was, he did not have the numbers to do so. More embarrassingly for Little, Peters decided to wait until the 11th hour to let him know.

Total humiliation  awaits any member of Cabinet who threatens to step outside the bounds of MMP and attempt a “first past the post”-style power play to get ahead of public opinion – that’s what Little got and really, he should have expected it.

That was in part self inflicted, but Peters played Little then dumped on him big time.

Never one to play second fiddle, Peters also took a starring role in a different drama. Days out from assuming the seat at the head of the Cabinet table was the moment he chose to file papers in the High Court, suing the Government and top officials over their handling of his private superannuation details.

Ardern’s assertions rang out more as pleas, that his actions were a totally private matter. Presiding over a Cabinet that may be liable for an eventual payout to Peters is awkward at best, and a clear conflict at worst – a matter that is most certainly in the public interest.

Peters’ court action looks debatable, but he has made Ardern look weak – or more accurately, Ardern has made herself look weak, just as she is about to hand over most of her power to Peters.

Meanwhile, as sources across multiple polls have suggested NZ First has well and truly settled below the 5 per cent MMP threshold, Shane Jones has pulled out the megaphone to tear strips off Fonterra. A total overstep many might say, of a Minister of the Crown. However, Ardern is adamant these comments were made in a private capacity, despite Jones as good as repeating them in the House.

This again makes Ardern look weak if not impotent in her own Government.

And she is now sidelined, leaving Peters and Jones to take on board this week’s signals and likely do as they please to raise their profile, putting the government at risk.

And Labour’s ministers look increasingly arrogant, uncoordinated and messy.

The Government looks like a bunch of headless chooks, with the fox about to take over the hen house.

 

Is synthetic food going to be safe?

There’s growing interest in things like fake meet – laboratory concocted food. It is seen as potentially a better alternative to meat to feed a growing world population.

But is is safe? I think it’s too soon to tell.

There was an interesting item about this in Q&A this morning.

The general rule is that the less processed food is the better it is for us. Our digestive systems have slowly evolved over hundreds of thousands of years, and are used to diverse diets of plants and meats.

The rapid change to processed foods is leading to problems like obesity and the proliferation of diseases like diabetes and heart problems.

A sudden switch to super processed foods would be very risky. It will take many years, perhaps decades, to prove whether it is safe and whether it is healthy.

And there’s this.

I presume she is alluding to patent protection of methods of food processing.  This raises serious issues about the potential control of food production by large multi-national companies.

What if companies suppress adverse information to protect their products and markets? That’s been done before (and is still being done).

What if large companies push their products via marketing to a gullible public when it could cause major health problems.

That’s being done already as well.

This probably won’t be much of a problem for me – I can keep running a few sheep, and other meats are likely to be available for yonks, as long as the Greens don’t take over the Government.

But the health of future generations may have some big things to deal with with food supply. The future of human existence could be at stake.

Back to the headline question – is synthetic food going to be safe? I don’t think anyone can answer that with anything close to certainty.