Mental Health Break

Never apologise if you didn’t do anything wrong

Radio Hauraki has been rapped over the knuckles after a Mike Hosking impersonation by DJ Jeremy Wells was labelled racist by some listeners.

The radio station apologised after Wells’ appearance on the Hauraki breakfast show last Friday during a segment called Like Mike.

Wells, in character as Hosking, said he preferred ‘Maoris’ to “keep to themselves in marae, rural rugby clubs or on-stage cultural performances in Rotorua hotels coinciding with a hangi buffet”.

“Maoris are loose units. They’re often tattooed. The women smoke too much and are free and easy with their affections.

“The world’s media are watching us this week. As right-thinking New Zealanders we should be asking: is this the image we want to convey to the world?”

The comments drew hundreds of comment on the station’s Facebook page; many were outraged, while others said it was clearly satire and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Areti Metuamate, a PhD student in Pacific Studies at the Australian National University, said it didn’t matter that the comments were satire – they were still deeply offensive to anyone who had experienced racism.

“If you’re a regular listener you might realise that it had this particular slant. You post it to Facebook and it’s taken out of context. People might not realise that it’s satire. Read more »

Map of the Day

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Looks like the Irish have welcomed marriage equality with open arms

Final results are not expected until later in the day in a vote that would make Ireland the first country to adopt same-sex marriage via a popular vote, just two decades after the country decriminalised homosexuality.

State broadcaster RTE said the victory appeared to be overwhelming and government minister Kevin Humphreys predicted the margin would be two-to-one.

“I think it’s won,” Equality Minister Aodhan O’Riordain told Reuters at the main count centre in Dublin. “The numbers of people who turned out to vote is unprecedented. This has really touched a nerve in Ireland today.”

Gay marriage is backed by all political parties, championed by big employers and endorsed by celebrities, all hoping it will mark a transformation in a country that was long regarded as one of the most socially conservative in Western Europe. Read more »

Sign of the Day

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The media wouldn’t lie to us would they?

New Zealand and its spying partners exploited weaknesses in one of the world’s most popular mobile browsers and planned to hack into smartphones, according to top secret documents leaked this week.

The Five Eyes partners are accused of targeting links to Google and Samsung app stores in a project civil liberties activists have denounced.

The spy agencies deliberately sought security vulnerabilities, but failed to inform companies or the public, leaving the private data of millions of people at risk, civil liberties group OpenMedia said today.

The leaked Top Secret document was posted on the Canadian CBC News site, in conjunction with The Intercept, after whistleblower and fugitive Edward Snowden acquired it.

Apart from discussing how to propagate surveillance software, the newly-revealed document also described efforts to place messages and other communications data on smartphones.

“The group wanted to send selective misinformation to the targets’ handsets to, among other things, confuse adversarial intelligence agencies,” the Slate website said. Read more »

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Photo Of The Day

Photo: New Zealand History

Photo: New Zealand History

Politically Incorrect Christmas Games

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We don’t need Len’s trains, we need Google’s cars

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We don’t need to be sinking billions into 19th century technology when Google is planning on making human drivers obsolete within 5 years.

GOOGLE’S ADORABLE SELF-DRIVING car prototype hits the road this summer, the tech giant announced last week. Real roads, in the real world. The car has no steering wheel or pedals, so it’s up to the computer to do all the driving.

As cool as this sounds, it isn’t a huge technological step forward. The goofy little cars use the same software controlling the Lexus and Toyota vehicles that have logged hundreds of thousands of autonomous miles, and Google’s spent the past year testing its prototypes on test tracks. And, in keeping with California law, there will be a human aboard, ready to take over (with a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal) if the something goes haywire.

What’s important here is Google’s commitment to its all-or-nothing approach, which contrasts with the steady-as-she-goes approach favored by automakerslike Mercedes, Audi and Nissan.

Autonomous vehicles are coming. Make no mistake. But conventional automakers are rolling out features piecemeal, over the course of many years. Cars already have active safety features like automatic braking and lane departure warnings. In the next few years, expect cars to handle themselves on the highway, with more complicated urban driving to follow.

“We call it a revolution by evolution. We will take it step by step, and add more functionality, add more usefulness to the system,” says Thomas Ruchatz, Audi’s head of driver assistance systems and integrated safety. Full autonomy is “not going to happen just like that,” where from one day to the next “we can travel from our doorstep to our work and we don’t have a steering wheel in the car.”

Google thinks that’s exactly what’s going to happen. It isn’t messing around with anything less than a completely autonomous vehicle, one that reduces “driving” to little more than getting in, entering a destination, and enjoying the ride.

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Cartoon of the Day

Credit:  Roger Price

Credit: Roger Price

Are McCully and Joyce being shagged by the sheep deal?

Matthew Hooton writes about the dodgy sounding sheep deal done by Murray McCully and Steve Joyce with a Saudi businessman.

It’s the little things that get them in the end.

For Helen Clark, it was politically correct lightbulbs and showerheads. For Jenny Shipley, it was dissembling over what she and Murray McCully had discussed with Kevin Roberts about the tourism-marketing contract and National’s election campaign.

For John Key, it may be how Mr McCully has dealt with Hmood Al-Khalaf over $7.45 million in taxpayers’ funding for what Steven Joyce’s New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) calls an “agrihub” in Saudi Arabia. Mr Key’s nervous “yup,” when asked if he had confidence in his foreign minister, betrayed concern over where the story may head.

[…]

It turns out that Mr McCully appointed a close confidante, Alex Matheson, to negotiate with Mr Al-Khalaf and the Saudis to resolve the live-sheep affair. Mr Matheson’s quasi-official status means the details are murky and may forever remain outside the Official Information Act.

Nevertheless, we’ve learned that Mr Al-Khalaf owns a property at Um Alerrad, between Riyadh and Dammam, charitably described as a “farm”. Based on the co-ordinates provided by NZTE, it’s desert land.

A deal was struck that NZTE would establish the $6 million “agrihub” at the “farm” and fly over 900 ovine “capital stock” last October to get it going. Using Singapore Airlines, this cost the taxpayer another $1.45 million, or $1611 per sheep. Mr McCully personally removed rules about what would happen to the sheep following disembarkation.

NZTE advises that the Um Alerrad “agrihub” is the only one it has set up anywhere in the world. No others are planned. It’s “bold and courageous” and “uncharted waters,” says NZTE’s Quentin Quin. It’s certainly a strange location. New Zealand’s competitive advantage is in pastoral farming and there is no pasture to be found at the “agrihub.”

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