Bennett thinks it’s all a bit overwhelming

An emotional Paula Bennett says she is excited and a bit overwhelmed by the knowledge she will be deputy Prime Minister on Monday.

Bennett is now almost certain to become deputy Prime Minister after National’s caucus meeting on Monday after her rival for the role, Simon Bridges, withdrew.

Bennett will work under Bill English, with whom she said she had a very strong relationship.

“I know what it’s going to be like to work under him, I’ve been doing it for a number of years.

And this, of course, is the next level and one I’m looking forward to come Monday, hopefully.” Read more »

Big money buys elections, right? Wrong

The numbers are in and yet again it has been proven that big money cannot buy elections.

Donald Trump’s campaign spent about $94 million in its final push for the White House, according to new fundraising reports filed today.

The Republican continued his campaign-long trend of spending far less than Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Her campaign blew through almost $132 million in its closing weeks, according to reports filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission. The latest reports cover Oct. 20 through Nov. 28.

Over the course of the primary and general elections, the Trump campaign raised about $340 million. That included $66 million that the billionaire businessman contributed from his own pocket. The Clinton campaign, which maintained a longer and more concerted fundraising focus, brought in about $581 million.

Brad Parscale, Trump’s digital director who was empowered with spending decisions across the campaign, credited strategic last-minute investments with helping propel the political newcomer to victory.

Specifically, he told The Associated Press, the campaign and Republican Party spent about $5 million in get-out-the-vote digital advertising targeted in the final few days to Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida. That proved critical; some of those states were won by razor-thin margins.   Read more »

Registered then. Not now. Also named. This is progress

We are getting some progress with ratbag teachers and the registration and disciplinary processes.

This one was deregistered. At least time it was a pupil’s parents and not the pupil at risk.

An Auckland primary school teacher has been deregistered after an affair with a parent and faking test results.

Former North Shore school teacher, Anaru Maurice Hikutai Bickford, was found guilty of passing confidential information from the student’s father to the mother – the pair were separated – fabricating test results and failing to put the needs of learners first.

The New Zealand Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal found that in mid-2015, the father of the student emailed Bickford concerned the student’s mother had not been giving him complete information on their son’s behaviour.

Bickford, who was teaching a Year 5 and 6 class at Chelsea Primary School, had already embarked on an affair with the woman at that stage and forwarded the confidential emails on.

When the father found out, he complained to the school.

“Imagine my surprise to find out that [Bickford] was the person my wife had been having an affair with, which she admitted,” he said in a letter.

Read more »

A dodgy liquidator discusses StuffMe merger

Damien Grant discusses the proposed StuffMe merger:

It is deeply satisfying to see the heads of Fairfax and NZME grovel before the inquisitors of the Commerce Commission in a forlorn attempt to stave off the day they will need to all get real jobs. For the past two decades we have had to watch as journalism has been debased from an ancient and noble craft to a festering swamp of leftists who confuse advocacy with reporting.

On the mezzanine floor of the insolvency firm where I work sits a century’s worth of the Truth, once a proud and respected newspaper, which chased the modern equivalent of clickbait by dropping real reporting for page three girls and pandering to whims of the sex industry.

Its liquidation is a harbinger of the demise of the newspaper as we know it and in an attempt to stave off their own oblivion and searching for a business model that can sustain some semblance of news Fairfax and NZME want to do a deal.

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Hooton on English’s next steps

Matthew Hooton writes about Bill English’s next steps once he is installed as Prime Minister.

It’s odd that John Key abandoning the prime ministership has been interpreted as noble.

Certainly, the decision makes sense for Mr Key. He leaves office the week of the best economic and fiscal forecasts of his prime ministership and with his poll numbers still strong. He has sidestepped any blame should either head south.

But whereas a week ago there were questions about whether Labour could even survive as a major party, the main effect of Mr Key’s resignation is to radically raise the probability of the Labour-Green menace taking power next year. That risk has only been compounded by Mr Key’s uncharacteristically clumsy attempt to seamlessly transfer the prime ministership to his deputy and maintain the hegemony of his inner cabinet of Bill English, Steven Joyce, Murray McCully, Gerry Brownlee and Paula Bennett.

Broadly, the plan was to continue the Key government without Mr Key. Mr English would become prime minister, Mr Joyce would take over as finance minister, Mr Brownlee would return to MBIE, Mr McCully would carry on as foreign minister and Ms Bennett would be social policy czar and deputy prime minister. Everyone else would stay roughly where they were, perhaps with the exception of English loyalists Nick Smith, Nathan Guy and Michael Woodhouse, who could expect a little bit more.

Securing acquiescence from National’s backbench relied on shock and awe and there is no doubt the shock part occurred on Monday. National MPs who have never known anything other than Mr Key’s leadership, and have never really understood that true power lies in the caucus room, initially reacted like the distraught children of divorced parents: daddy had just walked out and they were desperate that mummy, in the form of Mr English, not desert them too.

As the week developed, they worked out it might be time to grow up and take over the running of the household themselves. The irony is that assertiveness on the backbench should ultimately be to Mr English’s advantage.

Read more »

Mental Health Break

Maybe Bishop Brian Tamaki was onto something

Everyone has been quick to mock Bishop Brian for saying that homosexuals cause earthquakes and other natural disasters but what if he is on to something? If gays cause things like earthquakes and lightning strikes then couldn’t we harness that power for good? This could become a policy platform for the Greens. Who needs nuclear power when you can harness the power of Gay.


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Map of the Day


Permanent research stations in Antarctica

Click here for larger view

Rodney Hide on John Key

Rodney Hide writes about John Key in his NBR column:

Leadership guru Warren Bennis declared, “leadership is like beauty: hard to define but you know it when you see it.” When you see Prime Minister John Key, you see a leader.

He has a perfect blend of charisma and confidence.

People gravitate to him and look to him for direction. He knows what to do without being bossy. He has the honesty and integrity that’s necessary to inspire confidence and trust. He’s warm and believes in people. He’s smart, super smart but, unlike most politicians, has no need to prove it.

He is our most popular prime minister by far and arguably our most successful. He leaves politics just as he entered: on his own terms and on a high.

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13 minutes to die and some people are upset?

Anti-Death Penalty activists are horrified that a scumbag who was executed recently took 13 minutes to die.

An Alabama inmate coughed repeatedly and his upper body heaved for at least 13 minutes during an execution using a drug that has previously been used in problematic lethal injections in at least three other states.

Ronald Bert Smith Jr., 45, also appeared to move slightly during two tests meant to determine consciousness before he was finally pronounced dead at 11:05pm Thursday – about 30 minutes after the procedure began at the state prison in southwest Alabama.

Alabama uses the sedative midazolam as the first drug in a three-drug lethal injection combination.

Oklahoma’s use of midazolam as the first in a three-drug protocol was challenged after the April 2014 execution of Clayton Lockett, who writhed on a gurney, moaned and clenched his teeth for several minutes before prison officials tried to halt the process.

Lockett died after 43 minutes. A state investigation into Lockett’s execution revealed that a failed line caused the drugs to be administered locally instead of into Lockett’s blood.

Ohio and Arizona have used midazolam as the first in a two-drug protocol. Ohio inmate Dennis McGuire repeatedly gasped and snorted over 26 minutes during his January 2014 execution.

The state abandoned that method afterward and has yet to resume executions. Arizona halted executions after the July 2014 lethal injection of convicted killer Joseph Rudolph Wood, who took nearly two hours to die.

Smith and other Alabama inmates argued in a court case that the drug was an unreliable sedative and could cause them to feel pain, citing its use in problematic executions.

The US Supreme Court ruled in a challenge by Oklahoma death row inmates that they had failed to prove that the use of midazolam was unconstitutional.

Read more »