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.

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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.

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Audrey Young on Key

A commonly asked question of leaders when they enter office is what is your vision? A commonly asked question when they leave is what is your legacy?

Considering Prime Minister John Key had neither, he had a remarkably stellar career and history should treat him well.

Wanting to leave a country in a better state that you found it is not a vision.

Nor is being ambitious for your country. If that were so, everyone has the same vision.

This week was about John Key’s legacy after eight years in office.

Much of the reflection blurred the concept of a political legacy with his leadership style, how he made people feel and what he will be remembered for.

A legacy is an achievement that will endure beyond the next leader and beyond different Governments.

It is for example the welfare state, ACC, deregulation, MMP, Treaty of Waitangi settlements, Kiwisaver, and the Cullen fund.

When I’ve asked people this week what they thought Key’s legacy was, many have said he gave New Zealanders a greater sense of confidence, especially about New Zealand’s place in the world.

That is true but it is a state of mind. It could just as easily disappear through circumstances well beyond our control.

It has been said that Key’s handling of the global financial crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes was his legacy.

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Photo of the Day

Although Hitler was a Chancellor, he didn’t have as much power. The Communist party was still a threat. Then a key event happened. The Reichstag – German Parliament – was burned a few months after Hitler came to the power and the blame was assigned to the Communists. Following the burning, President Hindenburg clamped down the Communists and repressive measures were taken on all other political parties.

How Adolf Hitler Came to Power

The story of why Hitler came to power is about the reasons why the German people lost their senses and allowed a vicious madman to come to power. Hitler was a brilliant speaker, and his eyes had a peculiar power over people.   He was a good organiser and politician. He was a driven, unstable man, who believed that he had been called by God to become dictator of Germany and rule the world. This kept him going when other people might have given up. His self-belief persuaded people to believe in him.

Hitler’s rise to power was based upon long-term factors – resentment in the German people, the weakness of the Weimar system – which he exploited through propaganda (paid for by his rich, Communist-fearing backers), the terror of his stormtroopers, and the brilliance of his speeches.

During the ‘roaring twenties’ Germans ignored this vicious little man with his programme of hatred.   But when the Great Depression ruined their lives, they voted for him in increasing numbers.   Needing support, and thinking he could control Hitler, President Hindenburg made the mistake in January 1933 of giving Hitler the post of Chancellor.

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Bridges to quit race, English’s “Dream” team is annointed

The hand over planned by John Key and Bill  English months ago now appears complete.

The bullying, standover and threats have worked and now Simon Bridges is withdrawing from the race.

Simon Bridges is expected to withdraw from the contest to be National’s deputy leader today – handing it to Paula Bennett.

Bennett had public declarations of support from 23 MPs last night to Bridges’ 10 – and was understood to have enough private support to get her over the 30 votes needed in National’s caucus of 59.

The caucus was due to vote on it on Monday, but unless there is a last minute entry at that caucus meeting it appears set to be a pro forma appointment.   Read more »