From the Driver’s Seat: Cam Slater is no longer with Whaleoil

by Pete, Editor

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I used to write columns “from the passenger seat”, providing insight into Whaleoil as a close observer.  From today that changes for a while. No doubt this will come as a shock to many, but Cam’s no longer here after the weekend.

The good news is that it is only for a little while. I’m not allowed to share with you what he’s up to, but the choice had to be made: Was he going to do two things poorly, or one thing well?

So Cam will be back in a month, perhaps two – depending.

The immediate question is: What will become of Whaleoil? Read more »

What is the difference between a poorly performing state school and a poorly performing charter school?

When a charter school does not perform it is shut down. This is one of the many strengths of the charter school model. Charter schools are accountable. Charter schools either succeed or they fail. If they fail they are shut down. A poorly performing state school, however, is allowed to continue to fail year after year after year, yet education unions have focused all their energy on wiping out charter schools no matter how well they are performing.

Thousands of children are spending most or all their years of education in a poorly performing school, a new report has found.

A third of New Zealand’s underperforming schools are persistent low achievers, some of which have been that way for up to 10 years, says a report put out this morning by think-tank New Zealand Initiative.

…Many schools were failing to meet Education Review Office (ERO) quality measures, the report said. It also warned that “some schools, despite intervention, perform poorly for as long as, and in some cases, longer than, the entire school career of their students – with possibly serious implications for the students in them and the state of our nation”.

Read more »

Rudman whining about trains to the airport now, not his theatre

Old boy Rudman – who loves a good troughing spendthrift Council – is bemoaning the right decision to axe rail to the airport.

Auckland Transport chairman Lester Levy is dangling the vision of driverless buses tootling back and forth to the airport to distract attention from his board’s decision to kill dreams of a train link from Onehunga.

It’s not the only thing driverless which comes to mind when it comes to Auckland transport. This week’s burial of airport heavy rail brought to the surface once more the behind-the-scenes tussle among a gaggle of politicians and bureaucrats from AT, Auckland Council, New Zealand Transport Agency, and the airport company, over whose turn it is to pull the levers.

The AT board officially pulled the plug at Monday’s meeting. But NZTA, the Government’s road builders, had all but sabotaged the proposed route already, with its plans to trench the motorway at Kirkbride Rd in Mangere so deep that trains would not have been able to manage the gradient. The airport company was adding to the problems by insisting a train station would have to be underground, and be built to its deadlines.

I expect wowsers to do that. There are plenty of people who crack a woody over rail. And that’s ok – we’re all entitled to our opinions.   Read more »

Photo Of The Day

Meanest Divorce: Snow Camo: Kevin Cotter tells the story, when his wife of 12 years moved out of their Tuscon, Ariz. home in 2009, she left behind just one thing: Her old wedding dress, pristinely preserved in his closet. "What do you expect me to do with it?" he asked. “Whatever the $%^@# you want,” she replied. The comment hit a nerve, and a couple of months later Cotter and his family started joking about ways he could repurpose the gown. The frock had cost him nearly a grand anyway and seemed like such a waste just sitting in storage.

Another Mean Divorce: Snow Camo: Kevin Cotter tells the story, when his wife of 12 years moved out of their Tuscon, Ariz. home in 2009, she left behind just one thing: Her old wedding dress, pristinely preserved in his closet. “What do you expect me to do with it?” he asked. “Whatever the $%^@# you want,” she replied. The comment hit a nerve, and a couple of months later Cotter and his family started joking about ways he could repurpose the gown. The frock had cost him nearly a grand anyway and seemed like such a waste just sitting in storage.

The Meanest Divorce

He Kidnapped Their children. She Bankrupted his Family. He Hid Out For Seven Years. She Had Him Put In Jail. A Story Of Love Turned To Hate

“Tell me something,” Chuck Smith asked, staring with a Rasputin-like stare. “Would you let your kids suffer? Would you break the law to keep them safe?” His voice, usually as fervent as an evangelist’s, drops to a half-whisper. “Would you sacrifice everything for your own kids?”

In 1984, Cuernavaca, Mexico, fifty miles southwest of Mexico City, while divorcing his wife, Carolyn, Chuck Smith, Houston’s most infamous father, then 26 years old, the scion of one of Houston’s wealthiest and most politically influential automobile dealers, kidnapped his own two sons—Charles, age 6, and Christopher, only 4—and vanished for more than seven years.

Chuck testified that the boys tearfully begged him to take them away from their mother, who had become so addicted to prescription drugs that she slept through the day, forgetting to feed them, shaking them when they woke her. On occasion, Chuck said, she refused to allow them out of their room, forcing them to urinate in the closet. Fearing that the divorce courts would still not give him full custody, Chuck decided there was only one thing to do. “What self-respecting father,” he asked, his 250-pound body looming as he paces the room, “would leave his boys in that environment?”

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. JONO NAYLOR to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by his statement that “a priority for this Government is to build a more productive and competitive economy that supports jobs and higher incomes”?
  2. METIRIA TUREI to the Prime Minister: Ka tū a ia i runga i te mana o tana korero, “I will lead a Government that will govern for all New Zealanders”Translation: Does he stand by his statement, “I will lead a Government that will govern for all New Zealanders”?
  3. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement in relation to new statistics showing increased wealth inequality under his Government that “it’s not surprising it’s getting a little bit more that way”?
  4. JACQUI DEAN to the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment: What recent reports has he received on improvements in adult literacy?
  5. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all the statements he made at the Chinese Business Summit on 9 November 2015? Read more »

Obama continues to be the world’s best gun salesman, but Hillary is likely to beat his records

Barack Obama has sold more guns than any other person in history. His continued attacks against the Second Amendment mean that people seek to get in before he tries to ban them.

The good news is that his time is almost at an end; the bad news for citizens is that Hillary Clinton will continue and escalate his attacks.

Gun sales are on a pace to break last year’s record of more than 23 million, a boon to the U.S. industry and gun stores thanks to election-year worries about gun control and recent terror attacks, according to government figures and experts.

Under Obama, background checks for guns reached 141.4 million through the end of May, amounting to sales of about 52,600 a day, according to the FBI. Last year, the FBI conducted more than 23 million background checks, which are generally used to figure sales of new and used weapons.

Domestically, manufacturers have reported producing about 21,000 guns a day, or more than 46 million in Obama’s first six years in office.

And should Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton continue to best Republican Donald Trump in the polls, sales could hit new highs, according to industry experts.    Read more »

Hey Kelvin, what are you going to do about this fight club?

I wonder what Kelvin Davis is going to do about this fight club?

The hierarchical nature and brutal inner workings of a tough New Zealand jail block, including yard fights and sparring, has been examined at a prison murder trial today.

The rare behind-bars glimpse came during the trial of three Christchurch Men’s Prison inmates accused of murdering respected long-term prisoner Benton Marni Parata on March 25 last year.

Steven Betham, 36, Akuhatua Tihi, 22, from Toi Toi, Nelson, and Levi Hohepa Reuben, 21, deny murdering the fellow inmate.

Tihi today accepted he is guilty of manslaughter, but denied having murderous intent.

The Crown alleges that the trio had been acting to a pre-arranged plan in order to administer a serious beating.   Read more »

Tough combat soldiers protected from micro-aggressions

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Women tough enough to complete and pass marine combat training are not going to be precious, safe, space-needing cupcakes who see ordinary language as micro-aggressions. Despite this the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, has decided to change military titles to gender neutral ones to make women soldiers feel included.

You know what makes a female soldier feel included? It is being treated as an equal and as part of a team. When I completed my basic training as a signalman I was treated exactly like the men apart from one thing and when I complained about it I was punished, just like the guys, for having a smart mouth. I will never forget the press ups I was made to do on a gravel road because I said that I wanted an SLR not an M16. I thought it was sexist to issue the women with M16s and give the men SLRs. What wasn’t sexist was how I was treated. I was punished the same as a man, and I had to carry the same pack and run the same distance and climb the same wall. I had to carry another soldier in a fireman’s carry the same distance that same soldier had to carry me. I will never forget his howls of pain as he complained about my bony little shoulder digging into his crotch. I told him to shut up as he had just been shot and I was carrying him to safety. Ahhhh such fond memories…..

After months of deliberation, the Marine Corps has decided to remove the word “man” from 19 job titles, in an effort to make the service more inclusive now that all combat roles are open to women.

The review, mandated by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus in January, will soon wrap-up and post the changes publicly in several days, according to an anonymous Marine official who spoke with Marine Corps Times.

Although many old titles will no longer exist, as they’ll be made gender neutral, some iconic titles still remain, such as “rifleman” and “mortar man.” This is unlikely to satisfy many Marines, who believe that political correctness has gone completely out of control.

Read more »

National does not involve itself in local body politics, except for Bill English and nepotism

Bill English's sister in law

Bill English’s sister in law

Finance Minister Bill English has made a rare intervention in Wellington local body politics backing his sister in law for Mayor.

But he says he has done so because he believes she is the best candidate.

However in doing that he has ignored one other candidate with long National Party connections and another who is being backed by the Wellington Chamber of Commerce.

Speaking to a fundraiser last week for Jo Coughlan, who is married to the Minister’s brother, former Federated Farmers CEO, Connor English, the Minister said he wasn’t supporting her because  they were related.

“It’s because I think that she’s the best candidate for a city that needs this kind of candidate; someone who understands growth; someone who understands communities and someone who understands families.”

But even so, that such a senior member of the Cabinet has publicly endorsed a Mayoral candidate goes against National Party practice.

And against the express orders of John Key and party whips.

Read more »

Let’s analyse some fairy tales to death

Family life professor Sarah M Coyne has done her best to ruin Disney Princess ‘culture’ for young girls so I thought that I should assist her as best I can. I put on my progressive goggles and viewed these delightful tales through the eyes of an academic who has no appreciation or understanding of the  innocent pleasure these tales give to children.

Armed with her reality distorting Progressive Goggles she prepared was ready to analyse a fairy story to death

Armed with her reality distorting Progressive Goggles she was ready to analyse a fairy story to death

Read more »