Mental Health Break

Should idiots pay for their own rescue?

The NZ Herald editorial mulls it over

A party of off-road driving enthusiasts set out in 13 vehicles on Sunday afternoon to tackle a notorious high-country dirt track before it was closed for the winter. The weather in the deep south was already wintry. Snow and frigid temperatures were forecast but the enthusiasts in the group of 38, which included two children, were confident they could make the journey by nightfall.

Late that night when the snowstorm had arrived and their four-wheel-drive vehicles were mired in 2m snowdrifts on the Waikaia Bush Rd near Otago’s boundary with Southland, a rescue mission had to be mounted.

Searchers from the police and the National Rescue Co-ordination Centre were unable to reach them by land and called off the attempt at 1.30am. The stranded people spent the night in the vehicles with the engines running to keep them warm. Next day the storm continued and several attempts to reach them by helicopter were aborted.

The Defence Force was called on but even its chopper could not handle the conditions. The people were facing a second night huddled in the vehicles until just before dark, two snowmobiles reached them and they were ferried to safety on Sunday night.

All that is great stuff.  The problem is:  why did those people think they could tackle the most challenging conditions at a time when severe weather was forecast?  And should this decision mean they pay for their rescue?  Read more »

Map of the Day

Harman reads between the lines; thinks he’s got the Big Budget Reveal

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One big number is likely to stand out of this Thursday’s Budget.

That will be a huge forecast Government surplus for sometime in the next Parliamentary term.

Mr English has been recently addressing each of National’s regional conferences and in those speeches he has talked about “better than expected” macro numbers featuring in the Budget.

Ten days ago he told his party’s southern regional conference in Wanaka o that in “two or three years” the Government would be recording a five billion dollar surplus. Read more »

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Farrar provides some facts to counter the shrill headlines predicting John Key’s demise

The Media party have piled in on the latest Newshub poll suggesting that a small, less than the margin of error, drop in popularity of John Key is the beginning of the end of him.

They have ignored that Andrew Little is below Winston Peters in the same poll and he dropped even more than John Key.

Arts, lifestyle and travel blogger David Farrar takes time out from his hectic touring schedule to present some facts that seem to have escaped the commentators in the Media party.

The Newshub story says Key has plummeted as Preferred PM as he has dropped 1.5% in 6 months. This is of course not even statistically significant let alone a plummet of any kind.

I thought it would be useful to compare the Preferred PM ratings of May 2016, with May 2007 – the same point in Labour’s third term.

In May 2007 the PM was at 30% Preferred PM and in May 2016 the PM is at 37% Preferred PM.

In May 2007 the Opposition Leader was at 32% Preferred PM and in May 2016 the Opposition Leader is at 9% Preferred PM.

So Clark was trailing by 2% in May 2007, while in May 2016 Key leads Little by 28%.   Read more »

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Organiser admits that anti-fishing campaign is based on lies, but doesn’t care

One of the organisers of the campaign, Barbara Maas, to put pressure on the fishing industry and McDonald’s has admitted in a Facebook post in reply to my challenges that the campaign is based on a lie, but she doesn’t care and it is all about exerting financial pressure on the industry in whatever way they can.

Worse she threatens to escalate their campaign.

It seems that the point of the consumer campaign, which focusses on hoki and McDonalds has been sorely misunderstood although we explained the this rationale to the CEO of the NZ Seafood Industry Council at some length when we met him in Wellington last month. We are well aware that hoki is a pelagic fish whose range does not overlap with Maui’s dolphins.

The point of the campaign is not to target the relatively small and primarily domestic market of the inshore fishery where Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins live, but to exert financial pressure the NZ seafood industry, which has denied there is a problem even exist. Every relevant scientific body (International Whaling Commission, IUCN, 200 scientists strong Society for Marine Mammalogy, has been urging the NZ government to remove gillnets and trawling along the 100 m depth contour (approx. 20nm) year after year.

This is the biggest red flag scientist are able to wave, yet NZ has not only ignored their advice entirely but as we now know, has suppressed Maui’s and Hector’s dolphin deaths from coming to light. 3-4 Maui’s dolphins die in fishing nets each year (MPI and DOC data). There are now less than 50 Maui’s dolphins left. Unless something happens now, they will disappear within a matter of years.

Just to be clear: we have done everything possible to avoid a boycott and have talked to the industry and the government about this sine 2012. When we met the Seafood NZ CEO Tim Pankhurst last month, we reached out to him to give us a reason not to have to take this step. His response was along the lines of ‘Do your worst!”

For the sake of NZ’s fishery, its fish and its dolphins I urge every decent and honest fisherman out there to ensure this is resolved before things escalate further.  

Read more »

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Photo Of The Day

The Irish Independent ran a defiant front page on the 12 February, 2016, responding to threats on its journalists who are being targeted by organized gangs. The headline reads: ‘Why We Won’t be Intimidated’ and features a photo of Sunday Independent reporter, Veronica Guerin, who was gunned down in 1996 by a Dublin crime gang for writing a number of stories on their crimes.

The Irish Independent ran a defiant front page on the 12 February, 2016, responding to threats on its journalists who are being targeted by organized gangs. The headline reads: ‘Why We Won’t be Intimidated’ and features a photo of Sunday Independent reporter, Veronica Guerin, who was gunned down in 1996 by a Dublin crime gang for writing a number of stories on their crimes.

 A Journalist’s Risks

Dying to Tell a Story

 The Veronica Guerin Story

When Veronica Guerin was murdered in June 1996, she was not only the most famous journalist in Ireland; she was something of a national heroine. Her exposes on the criminal underworld in Dublin and the violent rise of powerful drug dealers captured the nation’s attention. Her murder touched off the largest criminal investigation in Irish history. Moreover, her death transformed the country in ways few could have expected.

Veronica “Ronnie” Guerin was born in Dublin, Ireland on July 5, 1959. On June 26, 1996 Guerin became the twenty-fourth journalist to be killed for her writings to the public. She was a journalist working for the Sunday Independent when she was assassinated by Irish drug dealers while sitting in her car at an intersection on the Naas dual carriageway.

What made her stand up and decide that enough was enough, that something had to be said about the drugs in Dublin when no one else would? It was as simple as seeing what needed to be changed in her city. She didn’t have illustrious beginnings, one that would fuel her passion for journalism and for bringing the truth to light. She was born to a large family and grew up in North Dublin. She was educated by nuns in Killester and attended Trinity College where she developed a strong interest in politics. She studied accountancy at the college, before joining her father’s accountancy firm; she would later bring this experience into her investigations on fraud. After leaving her accountancy job, she started her own public relations firm before joining the Sunday Business Post.

But it was at the Sunday Tribune that her reputation began to grow as an investigative journalist when she got the first interview with Bishop Eamon Casey. He had fled to Ecuador when his affair and his son were revealed to the world in a book.

In 1994 she joined the Sunday Independent, where she began publishing the interviews with members of the Irish underworld that led to her death. Ironically, she was assassinated two days before she was supposed to speak at a conference in London on “Dying to Tell a Story: Journalists at Risk.” Guerin had her own style of writing that set her apart from other journalists. Her editor at the Sunday Independent, Willie Kealy, believes she provided a different voice than those that were present in Irish journalism at the time, someone who was unafraid to break out of the mould.

Read more »

The House Today #nzqt

Parliament is sitting today.

You can follow proceedings starting at 2 pm on TV (Freeview 22, Sky 86), streaming audio via Radio New Zealand and streaming Parliament TV via the internet. After the sitting day, on-demand replays can be found at In The House.

Questions to Ministers

  1. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Prime Minister: Does he still stand by all his statements; if so, why?
  2. JOANNE HAYES to the Minister of Finance: What steps is the Government taking in Budget 2016 to deliver better public services – particularly for the most vulnerable New Zealanders?
  3. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statements with regard to housing that “we take responsibility; we need to do a better job of it”, and “we need to do more”?
  4. DAVID SEYMOUR to the Minister of Finance: Does he agree with all of this Government’s spending choices?
  5. Dr PARMJEET PARMAR to the Minister of Science and Innovation: What new investment is the Government making in health research? Read more »

I thought nothing could beat a $1m state house sculpture, I was wrong

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Finally a council has outdone Auckland Council on stupid sculptures.

If you thought $1m for a fake state house on Auckland waterfront was bad look at what has been inflicted on Hamilton.

For a few minutes the rain held off and the grey clouds parted for people to see Hamilton’s newest central city art work.

The three-storey sculpture, Tongue of the Dog, created by artist Michael Parekowhai, was officially opened on Victoria Street on Tuesday evening.

The $700,000 sculpture was gifted to the city by Mesh Sculpture Hamilton, and funded by donations from more than 70 different donors.

Art enthusiasts, sponsors, donors, city councillors, and the public admired the sculpture which is set outside Waikato Museum.   Read more »

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10 months Home D for a $150,000 fraud sounds like a good deal

I bet this woman cried a river of tears to avoid jail:

A Nelson woman who racked up benefit fraud of almost $150,000 has been sentenced to 10 months home detention.

Reubena Nonu defrauded Work and Income of the amount over a decade, and has been sentenced in the Nelson District Court to 10 months home detention.

The Ministry of Social Development’s lawyer told the court she repeatedly claimed single parent and unemployment benefits she wasn’t entitled to, and the offending was “rare and significant”.

Nonu’s lawyer Wayne Jones told RNZ News only about 5 percent of all benefit fraud reached, or exceeded, this amount.   Read more »