Cartoon of the Day

Credit:  SonovaMin

Credit: SonovaMin

Stephen Franks on the outrageous claims of corruption by the opposition and media

Stephen Franks provides a thoughtful response to the outrageous claims of opposition MPs under parliamentary privilege of corruption by Judith Collins.

I note that they dare not repeat those claims outside of the protection of parliamentary privilege.

Political journalists continue to give credibility to the Oravida beat-up. I’ve not heard anyone I know, outside the ‘beltway’ set, who share their faux indignation. Perhaps aspects yet to be revealed will vindicate the accusers. But on what has been disclosed so far, those alleging corruption disgrace themselves.

We come from an era, widely regarded as our most incorruptible, when all manner of goods were marked with the Royal crest, and the words “By appointment to HM the Queen”. Approval as suppliers to the Crown was overtly advertised, for the benefit of the supplier. I recall no concern that it was a corrupt practice.

Nor is there any objective argument that Ms Collins advocacy for any dairy interests in China or elsewhere, has been inimical to the interests of New Zealand. The allegations of corruption are the single element most likely to reduce the barriers to corruption. When it is acceptable to equate such innocuous behaviour with corruption, we lose the capacity to distinguish, and ‘everybody does it’ becomes a more likely excuse for genuine corruption at other levels

If there was some indication of covert payments then it might run. But most of us know that there is implicit personal endorsement, even if it is unwanted, in most engagements of powerful people.  Read more »

Cover up under Simon Bridges watch – Part 2

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While Labour and Winston Peters are using Parliamentary privilege to fire off stupid allegations at Judith Collins, they are ignoring a pile of incompetence within MBIE – the very Ministry tasked with growing NZs business.

Part one exposed the dodgy behaviour of MBIE officials under Simon Bridges’ watch.

It raised questions about how MBIE officials are managing the Government’s procurement process, and how questions about dodgy union organisations are being deleted from Supplier Questions in GETS.

Maybe it was a simple mistake, but then again we all know the unions love to think they have union-friendly government officials in their back pocket. Maybe that’s why they get an extra $500 for being a member of the unions. If Labour and NZ First want to talk about corruption, they don’t have to look any further than that rort.

But back to Simon Bridges’ MBIE officials.

This very same GETS RFP #448 then exposed a monumental flaw by the very officials tasked with advising Simon Bridges on his Employment Relations Amendment Bill.

In what is an astonishing revelation, MBIE advised – in their Supplier Questions about RFP #448 of 20 February 2014, that the Employment Relations Bill Part6A (vulnerable employees) doesn’t apply.

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Not sure how that works out for them.  Read more »

Labour’s clustertruck policy is total carnage

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When Labour last attacked truckies there was a nationwide blockade of the nations towns and cities. On that day they al drove ont he left hand side letting people transit as they protested.

Truckies by and large are courteous drivers. But LAbour continues to attack them.

Labour’s policy this time though is a sham. Of the 11,000km of NZ roads their policy will affect just 60kms, mostly in Auckland. Their claims of people fed up with holiday traffic held up by trucks are fanciful, and anyone who lives in Auckland knows the problems aren’t the trucks at holiday time…it is the crappy roads, roading choke points and people towing boats and caravans that hold people up.

Still, Labour thought this was a winner, and a more spectacular policy cock up I haven’t seen in many a year.  Read more »

Even the happy hand clappers are coming around on cannabis reform

They are calling it God’s plant, but there is growing evidence that the happy hand clappers are coming around to cannabis reform.

Jesse Stanley sees marijuana as “God’s plant.” He is one of five brothers—all alums of an evangelical high school—who grow medical marijuana from their two dispensaries in Colorado Springs, Colo. As he put it to the website FaithStreet: “God is moving in the hearts of men and women and children around the world about this plant in ways that I never would’ve imagined.”

The Stanleys got into the marijuana business in 2009 because of a cousin who was in pain and wasn’t helped by conventional treatment. Several years in, they made an unexpected breakthrough. The mother of a 5-year-old girl named Charlotte came into their dispensary seeking help for her daughter’s severe epilepsy. Wary about giving marijuana to a young girl, the Stanleys took a strain called “Hippie’s disappointment” that was low in THC (the chemical that gives the buzz), and created a new blend, high in cannabidiol (the chemical with the medical potential). Charlotte could take it in small doses.

Remarkably—the Stanleys might say miraculously—Charlotte’s seizures decreased dramatically. They dubbed their blend “Charlotte’s Web,” and started a charity called Realm of Caring, which has helped reduce the seizures of hundreds of children like Charlotte. Gaining national attention, the Stanleys even melted the heart of CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, who had been a major critic of medical marijuana.  Read more »

Bloomberg gets it and is prepared to put his money where his mouth is

There is a saying that no one wins taking on the NRA.

They regularly rinse candidates and deploy their considerable resources against politicians who seek to impinge of the rights of all Americans to keep and bear arms.

But Michael Bloomberg is going to give it a crack at taking on the NRA…and spending $50 million to do it. He at least understands the daunting task, though I suspect his $50 million will be ineffective against the campaigning prowess of the NRA, who in all likelihood will use this declaration of war as a fundraising drive and pick up even more cash.

Michael R. Bloomberg, making his first major political investment since leaving office, plans to spend $50 million this year building a nationwide grass-roots network to motivate voters who feel strongly about curbing gun violence, an organization he hopes can eventually out muscle the National Rifle Association.

Mr. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, said gun control advocates need to learn from the N.R.A. and punish those politicians who fail to support their agenda — even Democrats whose positions otherwise align with his own.

“They say, ‘We don’t care. We’re going to go after you,’ ” he said of the N.R.A. “ ‘If you don’t vote with us we’re going to go after your kids and your grandkids and your great-grandkids. And we’re never going to stop.’ ”

He added: “We’ve got to make them afraid of us.”  Read more »

Dodgy Socialist Dam based on Dodgy Science

The Hawkes Bay Regional Council’s dodgy socialist dam looks like it is no longer viable after the board of inquiry gave them a good kick in the slats over their one nutrient management plan.

Something exceptionally dodgy is going on, as was noted by the Board of Inquiry. Marty Sharpe in the DomPost picks up on this point.

Critically, the board rejected the single nutrient control proposed by the council. This will have a significant impact on the type of farming that can occur in the area to be irrigated if the scheme proceeds. Farmers now need to consider whether they can work within the limits as well as being able to afford water and remain profitable.

One of the plan change’s fundamental premises was that increased nitrogen levels would not significantly add to algal growth in Tukituki River catchment.

The board said the evidence underlying this premise was “equivocal, to say the least” and it agreed with opponents such as Fish and Game that the approach was “unsatisfactory and does not give effect to the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management”.

The board said it was surprised that many of the scientists now advocating the one nutrient approach had previously advised the best approach was to manage both nitrogen and phosphorous.  Read more »

Should there be a source shield law?

In the US there is a move afoot to further protect press freedoms by extending protection of sources further.

It is an interesting discussion and one well worth having, especially where sources could suffer a clear and present danger to their well being from those who would seek to identify them.

Geoffrey R. Stone writes at The Daily Beast:

The press isn’t free if it has fear of prosecution for leaks. It’s time to give reporters the same type of privilege attorneys and doctors have.

The Guardian and The Washington Post were each awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service Monday for their reporting based on classified documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. This will no doubt annoy many in the intelligence community who believe that Snowden, The Guardian, and the Post have done serious damage to the national security of the United States.

Unlike most disclosures of classified information, this reporting has not raised any central issues about the legitimacy or value of a journalist-source privilege, because Snowden chose to make no secret of his identity. Nonetheless, the bestowal of the Pulitzer Prize presents a good moment to reflect on the appropriate relationship between the government, the press, and source.

The issue is particularly timely at the moment because Gabriel Schoenfeld, a senior fellow at theHudson Institute and a former adviser to presidential candidate Mitt Romney, recently published an article in the journal National Affairs in which he concludes that for Congress to enact a federal journalist-source privilege would be “a bad idea.” Although I admire and respect Schoenfeld, in this, he is wrong.  Read more »

Dodgy Socialist Council try to censor Media

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The tipline is saying that the extremely dodgy Hawkes Bay Regional Council have had a press conference yesterday where they tried to exclude a photographer from local newspaper Bay Buzz.   Read more »

Thursday General Debate

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