Media watch – Saturday

29 July 2017

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Open Forum – Saturday

29 July 2017

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 will have to keep going through moderation due to abuses by a small number of malicious people.

A wide variety of topics and views are encouraged and welcomed, but some topics and some extremes may not be appropriate nor allowed.

World watch – Saturday

Friday GMT

WorldWatch

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

Seymour versus Peters hots up

David Seymour and Winston Peters have been clashing for a while. As we get towards the business end of the election campaign their feuding is hotting up.

Seymour in a speech in Parliament on Wednesday:

DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT):

But then you come round to New Zealand First. What a disaster. There is Winston Peters. He has been sacked from Cabinet three times by three different Prime Ministers. He has been voted out of two electorates, and the third electorate has not had an opportunity to vote him out yet, but help is on its way. It is going to vote him out on 23 September. This is a guy who has more bottom lines than a 100-year-old elephant. He is now up to 9 bottom lines. He has peaked too early in this election, and he is going to find out that the problem with Winston Peters politicking is eventually you run out of other people’s gullibility. He still has not paid back the $158,000—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

DAVID SEYMOUR: —and frankly, the way he campaigns is racist.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! A point of order—the Rt Hon Winston Peters.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I will tolerate a fair bit from that member, but I will not tolerate him getting up and making deceptive, deceitful statements like that. I know what we paid back—all $158,000, in circumstances—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. [Interruption] Order! That is not a point of order. [Interruption] Order! That is not a point of order. That is very much a debating matter. The member can continue his speech, and if the member feels he has been misrepresented throughout the speech there is another means. It is not raised on the floor of the House, and I refer the member to Standing Order 359.

DAVID SEYMOUR: If one ACT MP can get that far under Winston Peters’ thin skin, imagine how far five ACT MPs could get. He does not like it up him but the ACT Party has kept him out of power for the last three elections, and we are going to do it again. I understand his frustration, but he has got to stay there.

Peters responded in the same debate:

We have seen the last National Party polls—the most recent ones—and it is all bad news for them, for them, and a whole lot of parties here, but it is good news for one other party. Take a wild guess which party that is.

We do not care about Epsom’s three-quarters of a million dollars bludger and his cuckolded behaviour in this Parliament.

Seymour followed up: ACT to keep the cabal of crooks out of office

“Metiria Turei’s proud theft of taxpayer money qualifies her perfectly as a Green Party activist. However, it should exclude her from ever entering Government. The people who write our laws should not thieve from the taxpayers who already pay their salaries.

“That goes for Winston Peters too,” says Mr Seymour.

“Yesterday in the House he claimed to have ‘paid out’ the $158,000 in taxpayer money he illegally spent during the 2005 election. The truth is Parliamentary Services never got this money back, leaving taxpayers with the bill. I’ve laid a complaint with the Privileges Committee today over Mr Peters’ attempt to mislead the House. Just like Metiria Turei, Winston Peters is a fraud, and should never be let near the baubles of office again.

“The safest way to keep the cabal of crooks out of Parliament is with a stronger ACT. With more MPs we’ll ensure stable National-led Government, while also forcing National to address issues they’ve ignored, like New Zealand’s chronic housing and infrastructure deficit.”

Yesterday to media Peters referred to Seymour as “a cuckolded political prostitute”.

This is a part of the competition for attention that has ramped up significantly.

Seymour is trying to claw ACT support up so he has at least one MP working alongside him.

Peters would seem to wish that ACT disappears from Parliament.

ACT’s one vote has been enough to keep NZ First out of a balance of power position after Peters won the Whangerei by-election. It is possible that this could be repeated after September’s election, depending on how close National get to a majority.

With Labour languishing and Greens taking what looks like a desperate gamble the best chance of Peters getting power is with National, and he won’t want to be competing for that with Seymour.

But feuding with Seymour is a side show for Peters. It’s hard to see him improving the NZ First vote much by having an ongoing spat with Seymour.

Seymour is fighting to remain relevant. It looks likely he will keep his Epsom seat, but is struggling to lift ACT’s support enough to get a second MP in on the list.

But Seymour probably has more to gain by attracting attention from Peters, because the media tend to go where Peters goes.

Seymour’s position in a Government alliance does look a bit precarious, and NZ First strength could sideline him. But he is young and potentially has many years ahead of him for a political career.

Peters must be getting near the end of his long career. This election may be his last shot at the Government limelight, so it could be boom or bust for him. So he has more to lose if he gets dragged down by feuding Seymour.

Northland shootings

The killing of two women and injuring of a man in Northland looks like a tragic and sad mix of mental illness and firearms.

It was known that the murderer was a frequent user of firearms.

It seems to have been known that he suffered from mental illness and depression, and he had a record of violence.

He didn’t have a firearms license but had somehow acquired a lot of weapons.

RNZ:  Gunman had multiple weapons – reports

Police are refusing to discuss how a convicted criminal who shot two women was able to collect firearms without a licence.

Quinn Patterson killed property manager Wendy Campbell, 60, and her 37-year-old daughter Natanya on Wednesday morning when they visited his home with a contractor to install smoke alarms. The contractor was also shot, but managed to escape and raise the alarm.

There are reports that Patterson, aged in his 50s, had multiple guns and other weapons, including grenades and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Police have confirmed he did not have a firearms licence.

He served 18 months in prison for stabbing a police officer multiple times with a 33cm hunting knife in Hamilton in 1983.

Patterson’s only sister, Gloria, says her brother’s mental and physical health deteriorated rapidly this year and she had urged him to seek help.

NZ Herald: Northland shooting: A portrait of killer Quinn Patterson

Friend Leah Cameron said Quinn’s father brought his children up with a “Doomsday” mentality.

“He was fatalistic about the world, that it was not a good place. He could have been classed as being a bit of a fanatic”.

He made his children dig graves with him and he and his wife apparently wrote a book about UFOs.

Patterson liked guns despite friends saying he did not have a licence and was not a hunter. Neighbours would often hear him shooting in his backyard.

“He just shot in his back lawn by the sounds of it, you could hear it from here, you could hear it from everywhere,” Walters said.

“They were big guns. we’re talking automatics, semi-automatics, big calibres. They sounded like cannons, you could hear them going off with, like, 16 rounds.

“He was just sort of a law unto his own.”

He became paranoid and started to accumulate several weapons. A friend told Newshub he had grenades, shotguns, rifles and hand guns. He had “barricaded” himself in the property with bars on the windows.

He was becoming more and more depressed and paranoid, friends said.

He had taken several types of medication over the years, including sleeping tablets and had tried natural medication, vitamins and exercise in an attempt to get better.

There are some obvious questions that need to be asked about all this.

Holocaust by tweet?

The US Pacific Fleet Commander said he would launch a nuclear strike against China next week if President Donald Trump ordered it, and warned against the military ever shifting its allegiance from its commander in chief.

Admiral Scott Swift was responding to a hypothetical question at an Australian National University security conference following a major joint US- Australian military exercise off the Australian coast.

The drills were monitored by a Chinese intelligence-gathering ship off northeast Australia.

Asked by an academic in the audience whether he would make a nuclear attack on China next week if Trump ordered it, Swift replied: “The answer would be: yes.”

“Every member of the US military has sworn an oath to defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic and to obey the officers and the president of the United States as commander and chief appointed over us,” Swift said.

“This is core to the American democracy and any time you have a military that is moving away from a focus and an allegiance to civilian control, then we really have a significant problem,” he added.

Pacific Fleet spokesman Capt. Charlie Brown later said Swift’s answer reaffirmed the principle of civilian control over the military.

“The admiral was not addressing the premise of the question, he was addressing the principle of civilian authority of the military,” Brown said. “The premise of the question was ridiculous.”

The premise of making military decisions by tweet may sound ridiculous but that seems to be how trump wants to run things. See Trump brain fart on transgender troops.

Trump brain fart on transgender troops

Donald Trump seems to have had a major brain fart (even by his standard of cerebral flatulence) in seeming to announce a total ban on transgender people serving “in any capacity” in the us military.

This seems to have blind sided the military, the Pentagon, Defense Secretary James Mattis who is on holiday, and the White House.

The tweets said:

After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.

Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.

The Hill:  Trump triggers storm with transgender ban

President Trump announced Wednesday that he would end service by transgender people in the military, opening up a culture battle that caught much of Washington by surprise.

Trump made the announcement after House conservatives pushed the White House to curb Pentagon funding for transition-related medical care and indicated they may not support the spending bill currently on the floor over the issue.

But Trump went much further, and decisionmakers on Capitol Hill, including the Armed Services committees, were out of the loop.

Trump’s announcement, made in three morning posts on Twitter, also left more questions than answers — including whether the 250 openly transgender troops and thousands more who remain private about their gender identity could face immediate discharge.

The announcement came while Defense Secretary James Mattis is on vacation for the week.

The Pentagon, in a three-sentence statement, referred all questions to the White House and said more guidance would be given in the “near future.”

The White House press briefing on Wednesday did little to clear up confusion.

“I really don’t have anything else to add on that topic,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in evident frustration.

Estimates on the number of transgender troops vary widely. On the high end, LGBT advocates put it at 15,000. On the low end, a 2016 Rand Corporation study estimated there were 2,450 in active duty and 1,510 in the reserves.

About 250 troops have officially come out as transgender since the ban was lifted.

Asked whether currently serving transgender troops, including those now deployed to war zones, would be discharged, Sanders could not answer.

“The implementation policy is going to be something that the White House and the Department of Defense have to work together to lawfully determine, and I would imagine the Department of Defense will be the lead on that and keep you posted as that takes place,” she said.

Asked why such a decision was not made before announcing the new policy, Sanders said Trump did not feel the need to wait after making up his mind. Trump made the decision Tuesday, she said, and informed Mattis that day.

“I think sometimes you have to make decisions, and once he made a decision, he didn’t feel it was necessary to hold that decision and they’re going to work together with the Department of Defense to lawfully implement it,” she said.

There has been widespread surprise and astonishment.

This looks like a spur of the moment brain fart by Trump, with no thought of the implications or implementation.

Once he has purged the military of transgender people who next? Clinton supporters? Fake soldiers?

This is likely to encounter significant opposition.

Lack of urgency on mass killing by poison

Maggy Wassilieff made a good point yesterday about the spate of deaths as a result of synthetic drug use:

Somebody is lacing dried plant material with lethal poison.

This person is a killer. Why aren’t they being hunted down by every cop/soldier in the country?

If we had a sniper/terrorist at loose who had killed 8 people and wounded numerous others in Auckland over the last month, the whole shebang would be in lockdown.

Why do I get the impression that it’s business as usual?

I presume the police are doing some sort of investigation into the source of these lethal drugs, and the suppliers of these lethal drugs. But I haven’t seen any sign of urgency or effort.

Compare this to a case that began in November 2014,when there was a threat to lace milk powder with 1080. This had major trade implications and proved costly financially, it was despicable, but no one was harmed let alone killed.

Stuff: The 1080 milk crisis, from beginning to end

Police have arrested a man almost a year after threats to poison baby milk formula prompted an investigation costing $3 million, and safety measures involving more than 150,000 batch tests on milk products.

The case began in November (2014), when Fonterra and Federated Farmers received 1080-laced packets of infant formula along with a threat to contaminate retail supplies unless the Government stopped using the pest control.

The public knew nothing of this until March 10, when Ministry for Primary Industries deputy director general Scott Gallacher and deputy police commissioner Mike Clement explained the threat at a press conference.

“I’m confident the public will solve this,” Clement said.

Prime Minister John Key assured people infant formula was safe to drink: “We are advised it is extremely unlikely anyone could deliberately contaminate formula during the manufacturing process and there is no evidence that this has ever occurred.”

This eventually resulted in a conviction and a sentence of eight and a half years in prison.

1 News:  Lengthy jail term for 1080 milk threat a deterrent, says Fonterra boss

The eight-and-a-half-year prison sentence for the Auckland businessman who threatened to poison baby milk powder is a deterrent to others, Fonterra’s boss says.

Sixty-year-old Jeremy Kerr’s attempts to blackmail Fonterra and Federated Farmers cost the companies involved and taxpayers $37 million.

Prime Minister John Key says Kerr’s threats that could kill babies were “just despicable behaviour”.

And Fonterra Managing Director Maury Leyland says the idea of that happening is terrifying.

“And that’s why the sentencing, I think, denounces the crime and provides an appropriate deterrent,” said Ms Leyland outside the High Court in Auckland.

In the High Court in Auckland, Justice Geoffrey Venning said the potential impact on New Zealand’s trade relationships with China and other countries was extremely serious.

The police admit the investigation was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

It was a difficult case to solve but the police eventually got a result. It was costly in terms of dollars and threats to trade.

But in the current illegal drug trade a number of people have died, and it’s safe to assume that many more have suffered, A large number of lives have been ruined by drug concoctions that are deliberately made to be addictive, and they are pushed to vulnerable people.

What are the police doing about it? Where is the public assurances that everything possible is being done to protect people from this spate of poisoning?

Why aren’t politicians jumping up and down and demanding more be done?

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has been saying something: Govt ‘not satisfied’ with synthetic cannabis death handling

Mr Dunne said the first he knew about seven deaths linked to unidentified psychoactive substances this month was about an hour before police made the information public in a news release.

That number rose to eight yesterday when a man died after becoming ill from smoking synthetic cannabis.

Mr Dunne was satisfied with the detection work police were doing to track down who was selling and distributing the drugs, which can contain a range of different and sometimes unknown chemicals.

“I’m not satisfied, though, with the information that’s being shared,” Mr Dunne told Morning Report.

“That information had obviously been known to police and the coronial officials for some time. I don’t think it’s reasonable that the government wasn’t made aware of that until virtually the last minute.”

The government was now coordinating a response from police, district health boards and Ministry of Health officials – something that could have been done earlier with better communication, he said.

Dunne has been left fronting for the government on serious drug issues again.

Where are the other MPs on this? Ducking for cover it seems.

Mr Dunne agreed that more liberal laws for natural cannabis could help.

“But there are two big problems in this issue – one’s called National and one’s called Labour,” he said.

“Both the major parties have consistently ruled out any change in this area.”

Because it’s just drug users (and isn’t a threat to business?) this doesn’t appear to be much of a concern to other parties.

NZ Herald: Drug deaths don’t warrant Government response – Prime Minister Bill English

English rejected suggestions that an urgent Government-level response was required this afternoon, instead saying that people needed to avoid illegal substances and show more personal responsibility.

Speaking at his weekly press conference this afternoon, English said he had asked for advice on any possible responses to the fatalities.

“[The advice] falls into two categories. It is an illegal drug, it has to be policed, and we are not the police force.

“But the most important thing here … is that people do not take these illegal substances that can kill them.

“That sense of personal responsibility is pretty critical to staying alive. They need to decide they are not going to take these drugs”.

I guess babies and their parents could have been educated about the risks of taking milk powder – close to zero risk in reality.

Green Party health spokeswoman Julie-Anne Genter…

…said she was “extremely shocked and upset” at the absence of any Government plan or response to the drug-related deaths and injuries.

She said that in the short term the police should at least create a special unit to deal with the synthetic cannabis issue. Drug-checking facilities should also be made legal and resourced, she said.

In the medium term, Genter said legalising cannabis would create a “safe alternative” and lower the risk of black market-related drug deaths – a move English flatly rejected today.

Stuff: Police, coroner investigating multiple synthetic cannabis deaths: ‘further people are going to die’

“If we don’t do something about this, further people are going to die,” Detective Inspector Gary Lendrum said at a press conference on Friday afternoon.

“We’ve got reports of 13-year-olds right through to 64-year-olds using this product, so it’s right across New Zealand, and right across society.”

Labour leader Andrew Little said the reports were “incredibly disturbing”.

“I know police are saying they’re going to conduct an investigation – the Minister of Health has got to be involved in that. We’ve got to understand what’s happened there.

“It throws open the whole issue about the ability to regulate in this area and people’s safety with a substance that is constantly changing. It may well be time, even though it’s been a reasonably short period of time, for Parliament to review and revisit just what it has done in relation to synthetic cannabis.”

So politicians are expressing some concern, but there is no sign of real pressure to do something about the situation on drug supply and use and legality.

Eight people have died. Many more are at risk. This is a crisis, urgency and a lot more jumping up and down and demanding action is surely justified.

The number of deaths in a short time is out of the ordinary but deaths and the wrecking of lives has been going on for a long time.

When big business and foreign trade was at stake there seemed to be more concern.

Drug addicts don’t seem to matter as much to our Parliament.

However the costs are actually high. Illicit drugs cost lives, this is not new. There are substantial costs to society and to taxpayers through policing and the courts and prisons and the health system. Drug abuse impacts on individuals and families and work productivity.

Poisoning by drugs has a massive human and financial cost.

After eight deaths in a short period of time surely our politicians should be motivated to do much more than make noises and then go back to kicking the cannabis can down the road.

All parties should be doing more.

But in particular Bill English and National have to step up. For too long they have left Peter Dunne to cop all the flak on drug problems and copped out of responsibility themselves, but the fact is that Dunne has done much more than any other MP to try and promote change in the way we deal with drug supply and abuse. Dunne has only one vote against National’s 59, and Parliament’s 120.

If there was ever a time for a Prime Minister to step up on an issue surely eight deaths is enough to prompt some leadership.

TRP Adviser 28 July 2017

This week we learned many things.

Boris Johnson is not a complete buffoon, the Greens may come to regret Metiria Turei’s confession and one man party Peter Dunne may be over and out in Ohariu.

The likely next leader of the UK Conservative party has been here for a brief visit. Boris Johnson managed to complete the trip without any major gaffes, though comparing a kiwi hongi to a Gorbals kiss might be considered offensive by some here and by some North of Hadrian’s wall.

The perceived wisdom in the UK is that Johnson is biding his time, waiting for the inevitable coup against Theresa May to begin and trusting that there will be a knock on the door as the hopeful party calls on him to lead at their time of need.

I’m not so sure.

Leading a Government that is going to limp along until the next election is an unenviable task. Whether that vote is called early or the Tory/DUP Government lasts the full term, whoever leads the Conservatives to the polls can expect to lose.

I think that if asked, Johnson will say ‘No, thanks’. It’s all too much like hard work and swanning around the world being witty with the locals is much more fun.

Metiria Turei’s confession to an easily understandable and perfectly forgivable benefit rort is still in the headlines, well past the usual news cycle of a day or two.

I reckon it marks the high tide in the Green’s polling. It’ll be all down hill from here.

It won’t affect their die hard voters, but it will have an impact on waverers in the middle who might have been tempted to go green. If there is one thing about the New Zealand middle class that really stands out, it’s a broad streak of sanctimony.

They’ll forgive the likes of Key and English for their many, many rorts because that was just business. But a beneficiary who bends the rules to survive? To the workhouse with her!

I hear from usually reliable sources that Peter Dunne is in big trouble in Ohariu.

Labour have a near perfect candidate for the seat in former police union boss Greg O’Connor. Ohariu is a fairly conservative, middle of the road electorate and both Dunne and O’Connor fit that mold.

O’Connor has the advantage of being brand spanking new and earnestly keen. Too keen, in fact, having been snapped putting up election signs way too early.

That was an embarrassing start for the Labour candidate, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt him in the electorate. I’m told he has built up a convincing polling lead over Dunne already.

And that’s why Bill English felt the need to publicly tout for Peter Dunne. No coy cup of tea, this time. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

National know they are going to need every scrap of support they can get if they are to form the next Government without having to grovel to grumpy old uncle Winston.

Ohariu could be the seat that decides the very nature of the next Government.

Media watch – Friday

28 July 2017

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.