Ambassador: “Give Trump a fair go”

New US ambassador Scott Brown has asked new Zealanders to give Donald Trump a fair go.

RNZ:  NZ needs to give Trump a chance

Mr Brown is a former US Senator and served in the National Guard for 35 years, reaching the rank of Colonel. He replaces Mark Gilbert.

He was also an early supporter of Mr Trump’s presidential campaign.

He has described himself as a “social moderate but a fiscal conservative”.

“I said that this is the country I want to go and I could have had a choice of anywhere.

“[Donald Trump] trusts me, he understands that I’m very direct and he respects my opinions.

“He wanted somebody here in this important part of the world, as you know what’s happening with China and their taking rocks and turning them into islands and potentially militarising them.”

Mr Brown acknowledged some New Zealanders may not like Mr Trump’s style as American president, but he urged them to give him a fair go.

“One thing that people like about him is the fact that he is different….he’s not a politician. He ran on a platform and he’s one of the first elected officials that actually has fulfilled those promises.

Stuff:  ‘Give Trump a chance’: US ambassador’s plea to NZ (link includes video):

“Whether you like it or not he’s a man of his word and that’s one thing I’ve always respected about him. Will he get a fair go from the American people, or from the world, New Zealanders and other media outlets?

“Gosh I hope so because I think it’s critically important to give anybody who’s in a new position, a new position as the President of the US, or the Prime Minister of this country – I don’t care who, give them a chance first before you start criticising.”

New Zealand has to do what it can to get on with Brown, Trump and the US as well as possible.

There might be a few New Zealanders who would like Trump to give them and the world a fair go too.

 

‘Auckland Labour Party’ responsible for intern scheme

The ‘Auckland Labour Party’ has now been named by Labour Party general secretary Andrew Kirton as responsible along with Matt McCarten for the intern scheme.

Kirton has also said that “it started off as a Labour Party project”. So Kirton, and one would expect Labour’s leader Andrew Little, would have known more about the scheme than they have admitted.

When the Labour intern story broke it was obvious that Little and Kirton were not being open about what they knew about the scheme.

Little has said he had heard about the scheme as an idea at the start of the year, has admitted finding out it was running as an unapproved scheme in May, and he says he stepped in when they started getting complaints around Monday last week (but there are variations in that story too).

Matt McCarten quickly became the scapegoat. He was employed (by Parliamentary Services) to work for Andrew Little in Auckland, and no campaign work was allowed. However it is clear that McCarten has spent some time (months) working on the intern scheme aimed at campaigning for Labour.

The scheme was advertised overseas in February as a “Labour Party Fellowship”, with @labour.org.nz email addresses for contact. It became ”Movement for Change” in May and changed soon afterwards to “Campaign for Change”.  With McCarten leaving his Labour job it seems there was an attempt to distance the scheme from the party.

Little in particular has talked as though it was not a Labour Party scheme.

But that position was untenable. Other Labour Party people were connected with the scheme.

Earlier this week it was reported that Labour’s Auckland/Northland Representative on their NZ Council, Paul Chalmers, had stood down. Stuff on Tuesday (27 June): Two on Labour’s intern programme may have broken immigration rules as council member stands down:

Labour Leader Andrew Little on Tuesday said Paul Chalmers, who was connected with the scheme, had voluntarily stood down over the weekend “and he is not involved in the governing council of the party at this point”.

Chalmers is still named on Labour’s website as an Auckland/Northland representative.

Little said it was also possible the party would have to cover some of the costs of the plan masterminded by Little’s former chief of staff Matt McCarten, who more recently was Little’s Auckland organiser but stood down from that role in mid May when his contract ended and was not renewed.

An eight month contract terminated four months before the election seems odd.

Also on Tuesday in an RNZ interview Little’s story was starting to wobble over what he knew and who was responsible. From More details emerge of Labour’s intern scheme:

Suzy Ferguson: Are you saying you don’t know where this money’s coming from?

Little: I don’t know any details about the organisation of it apart from what we now know, I think 85 young people here staying on a marae, and helping out in various parts of the Auckland campaign. Beyond that I don’t know, I’m not sure if the party knows or knew at the time, and we’re in the process now of getting the detail about the organisation behind it.

Suzy Ferguson: …are you saying you don’t know where the thick end of two hundred grand has come from?

Little: Well, um, no one in the party is responsible for what Matt and others, and let’s be fair, it wasn’t Matt alone, there were at least four people involved in driving this, three on the party side…

Suzy Ferguson: …while this was being done Matt McCarten was in the pay of the Labour Party wasn’t he.

Little: Um, he was the, he was my, he was the director of the Auckland office, um, which is funded out of the Leader’s office, my office, um he was working for me (a) to open and run the office and (b) to run my Auckland programme, outreach programme.

Suzy Ferguson: Ok, so he’s working for you, but you’re saying you didn’t know what he was doing, you didn’t know about this?

Little: I didn’t know about this. I didn’t know the extent to which he was organising stuff.

That didn’t sound convincing.

Even more details emerged yesterday. Newshub ‘It’s not a good look’ – Labour fronts up on intern visa problems

Labour general secretary Andrew Kirton told The AM Show it’s “not a good look,” but said as soon as he heard of the programme’s problems, he stepped in to sort it out.

“My team arrived on Tuesday to sort out this programme of Matt McCarten’s and the Auckland Labour Party.”

“It’s been a bit of an effort but we’re getting on top of it now. The young volunteers are now really excited to get out and learn about MMP environments across the country.

“It started off as a Labour Party project – not too dissimilar to what we’ve done in the past. The problem with this though was it was expanded out quite significantly by Matt McCarten with support from the Auckland Labour Party.

“[It] got out of control, the management got out of control, and that’s why we stepped in straight away.”

So after about a week of trying to distance Labour from the intern scheme Kirton has admitted that it was an “Auckland Labour Party” programme, along with McCarten who was effectively Little’s chief of staff in Auckland.

Little and Kirton appear to have been somewhat frugal with the truth over the last week.

They have either deliberately misled and lied about the extent of their knowledge of the scheme, or the Labour Party in Auckland and Little’s Auckland employee were running an unauthorised scheme without telling them anything about it and without them finding out about it until last week. Or the week before. Or in May, depending on which explanation you listen to.

A number of Labour’s Auckland MPs and candidates have been involved with the interns in their campaigning – seeLinks between interns and Labour from April.

Alongside Little’s claimed lack of knowledge of the scheme it is also curious that deputy leader Jacinda Ardern, Auckland based and with a special interest in young people and getting them out to vote, seems to also have had no knowledge of an international and local student get out the vote campaign in her own city.

Labour still have major questions to answer about who the mysterious anonymous donor was, and why McCarten and possible other Labour staffers were running a campaign scheme when their employment terms didn’t allow that.

 

Media watch – Thursday

29 June 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.

Open Forum – Thursday

29 June 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.

World watch – Thursday

Wednesday GMT

WorldWatch

Post, news or views on anything happening of interest around the world.

BBC English

An interesting series  from @nick_kapur that explains how BBC English came about and a bit about how it evolved. I have changed it to more readable text.

Today we speak of “BBC English” as a standard form of the language, but this form had to be invented by a small team in the 1920s & 30s.

Which coincides with when the BBC was set up (in 1922).

It turned out even within the upper-class London accent that became the basis for BBC English, many words had competing pronunciations.

Thus in 1926, the BBC’s first managing director John Reith established an “Advisory Committee on Spoken English” to sort things out.

The committee was chaired by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, and also included American essayist Logan Pearsall Smith, novelist Rose Macaulay, lexicographer (and 4th OED editor) C.T. Onions, art critic Kenneth Clark, journalist Alistair Cooke, ghost story writer Lady Cynthia Asquith, and evolutionary biologist and eugenicist Julian Huxley.

The 20-person committee held fierce debates, and pronunciations now considered standard were often decided by just a few votes.

Examples included deciding “garage” would rhyme with “carriage” rather than “barrage” and “canine” (the tooth) sounding like cay-nine.

In 1935, there was a crisis over what word BBC radio should use for “users of a television apparatus” (whom we now call “viewers”).

To solve this conundrum, a 10-member “Sub-Committee on Words” was set up, chaired by the American, Logan Pearsall Smith

Funny, an American chairing the BBC English sub-committee.

The Sub-Committee came up with the following list of possible new words for the users of the television apparatus:

ddrmu-xsaa4tud

The Sub-Committee ultimately chose none of these, settling on “televiewer,” which was shortened by the main committee to just “viewer.”

Emboldened by this early “success,” the Sub-Committee on Words began to run amuck, inventing new words willy-nilly out of whole cloth.

In particular, Sub-Committee chair Logan Pearsall Smith wanted to beautify English and “purify” it of foreign influences.

He also disliked words with too many syllables and preferred English plurals to foreign plurals (eg. hippopotamuses over hippopotami).

Some of the new coinages were reasonable and have survived. For example, “airplane” replaced “aeroplane” and “roundabout” was invented to replace the then-common “gyratory circus.”

Similarly the word “servicemen” was invented to describe members of the armed forces, and BBC radio was instructed to stop saying “kunstforscher” and instead say “art researcher,” which has since become “art historian.”

If they pronounced the German version properly it shouldn’t have been a problem. But that word doesn’t seem to be in common use in Deutsch now, if it ever was. Kunst does mean art, and Forscher means researcher, but perhaps they have moved to KuntsHistoriker.

Other ideas were…less successful. E.g. Smith proposed the BBC call televisions “view-boxes,” call traffic lights “stop-and-goes,” and call brainwaves “mindfalls.”

Other members of the Sub-Committee also came up with bizarre new words.

Edward Marsh devised “inflex” to replace “inferiority complex,” and Rose Macaulay wanted “yulery” to replace “Christmas festivities.”

BBC English is also known as Received Pronunciation (RP), apparently.

No language remains static, especially a language as widely used as English. Looking at language history and variances in usage is fascinating.

I remember the poncy accents here on the radio, on Movietone News and later on television. I think they were trying to sound like BBC English.

 

Workplace bullying

From patupaiarehe:


I posted this link last week Alan, and I’m going to do it again. It seems relevant, IMHO, seeing as how ‘confidential settlements’ are being discussed…

The people at the heart of this story are silenced. They have been paid off to keep quiet.

It is all part of the emerging New Zealand silent class. These people have won cases against employers, but as part of their settlement, they are gagged.

There is an emerging culture of paid off silence across the country. Journalists can’t detail the stories as few will risk whatever outcome they have worked to achieve, by going public with their own story.

For most, the settlement will be the only positive to emerge from the damage inflicted at their place of work.

They are required to shut up because the truth is damaging. They are shut down because employers do not want the public knowing the truth. Councils, universities, hospitals and others want to protect their image and will manipulate settlements in a bid to mask the true level of workplace turnover.

Today these silent New Zealanders walk our streets with knowledge and experience that can not, and will not be shared. Yet, the very experience they have if shared publicly, may offer solutions to the workplace violence which has been described as nearing epidemic proportions.

Psychopathic workplace intimidation, (I refuse to use the word ‘bullying’ as I feel it belittles the violent reality of what happens at work), is real. The damage is long lasting and for some staff it is the workplace equivalent of post traumatic stress disorder.

You don’t need a mortar shell to go off to bring you close to break down. A dedicated workplace psychopath can do it all, just more slowly and deliberately.

Many reading this column will know of the creep of fear that occurs at weekends when they have to face the Monday morning dread, still days away.

PWI is widespread across New Zealand working life.  It is planned, malicious, vicious and designed to belittle and disempower.  It is always a power game and one that is often disguised in language and conduct designed to mirror the appearance of successful management culture.

We welcome the popularity of intimidatory violent conduct into our homes and lives when Gordon Ramsey the chef who abuses staff for ratings is on TV. Other reality TV programmes from Survivor to My Kitchen Rules to The Bachelor include public put downs, conniving closed-door conduct, exclusion tactics, backstabbing and humiliation as a routine part of entertainment.

Popular culture has made its way to the workplace where identical tactics of humiliation and intimidation are seen as the new wave of management.

Alongside the emergence of workplace bullying has been the growth of a side industry; a lucrative business of independent consultants helping people making claims of work place intimidation and violence. These consultants are the New Zealand equivalent of ambulance chasing lawyers.

And that is not to say they don’t have a job to do. They do, but when money changes hands from employer to independent employment consultant, the relationship is business and it immediately stops being independent. Those who pay – say.

And those consulting companies that want future work advising employers on their work-place intimidation practises are unlikely to get future work if they are constantly found to be siding with employees taking employers to task.

The Labour Department needs to treat the issue seriously and become the arbiter of workplace issues where intimation and violence is used against staff. It is a workplace hazard and it needs the same independent governance and oversight as any other issue. The conflict of interest between paid employment consultant and employers must be removed.

That is edited a bit, the whole article is at Sunlive:  Opening up about workplace bullying

Bill to wipe historical homosexual convictions introduced

Signalled earlier in the year by the Government, Justice Minister Amy Adams has introduced a Bill to Parliament that “will allow men convicted of specific homosexual offences decriminalised by the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 to apply to have the convictions wiped from their criminal record”.

This was initiated by a petition presented to MPS last year – so sensible petitions can be effective.

The Criminal Records (of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill was introduced to Parliament today.

“The tremendous hurt and stigma suffered by those who were affected can never be fully undone, but I hope that this Bill will go some way toward addressing that,” says Ms Adams.

“This Bill introduces the first ever expungement scheme in New Zealand.

“Allowing historical convictions for homosexual offences to remain on a person’s criminal record perpetuates the stigma which such convictions carry. A person can be further disadvantaged if they are required to disclose their conviction or it appears on a criminal history check.”

Ms Adams says the scheme will be open to applications from men with convictions for specific offences relating to sexual conduct between consenting men 16 years and over, or by a family member on their behalf if the person is deceased. The application process will be free for applicants.

“The scheme requires case-by-case assessments of the relevant facts to determine whether the conduct a person was charged with is still unlawful today. The decision will be made by the Secretary for Justice, without the need for a court hearing or for applicants to appear in person,” says Ms Adams.

“If a person’s conviction is expunged, the conviction will not appear on a criminal history check for any purpose and they will be entitled to declare they had no such conviction when required to under New Zealand law.”

Copy of the Bill:  www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/BILL_74442/criminal-records-expungement-of-convictions-for-historical

It’s taken a long time but it’s good to see this being dealt with. It was abhorrent law in the not very distant past and the least that can be done now is to wipe any convictions.

Some history:

Male homosexual sex became illegal in New Zealand when the country became part of the British Empire in 1840 and adopted English law making male homosexual acts punishable by death.

The Offences Against The Person Act of 1867 changed the penalty of buggery from execution to life imprisonment. In 1893 the law was broadened so that sexual activity between men constituted “sexual assault” even if it was consensual. Penalties included life imprisonment, hard labour and flogging.

Sex between women has never been legally prohibited in New Zealand.

In 1961 the penalties for male homosexual activity were reduced, reflecting changing attitudes towards homosexuality.

In 1968 a petition signed by 75 prominent citizens and calling for legislative change was presented to (and rejected by) parliament.

The Act was introduced by Labour MP Fran Wilde in 1985. Originally, the bill had two parts – one decriminalised male homosexuality, while the other provided anti-discrimination law protections for lesbians and gay men.

The first part passed narrowly (49 Ayes to 44 Noes) on 9 July 1986, after an attempt by opponents to invoke closure and end debate was defeated by one vote the previous week; the bill might have failed if a vote was taken then as several supporters were kept away from Wellington by bad weather. Three National MPs voted for the bill, and other National MPs (including Doug Graham) would have supported the bill if it had been in danger of defeat.

The second part failed, but was incorporated into a supplementary order paper added to the New Zealand Human Rights Act 1993.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexual_Law_Reform_Act_1986

This is one example of a number of awful laws and prejudices of the not very distance past that have changed significantly in a more tolerant and sensible society.

As a civil society we’re not perfect yet, but this is another good step forward.

Stuff from last year: Homosexual Law Reform 30 years on – what was life like for the gay community pre-1986?

Is Newsroom doing dirty politics?

It looks like there is a dirty politics campaign is going on in the National Party, and it looks like Newsroom is either a willing vehicle, or is being used.

It initially looked like Todd Barclay was the target, perhaps some electorate utu involved. But he has lost his career and the campaign continues, with Newsroom repeatedly involved.

It is apparent now that Bill English was the main target. It seems likely that someone wants to seriously damage English at the start of the election campaign.

It could effect a change of Government. It could bring down the Government. High stakes.

It has gone way beyond an employment spat in a Gore electorate office.

It has all the signs of a dirty politics campaign, and Newsroom is at least a willing party to the campaign of deliberate damage.