The other day I blogged about the so called asbestos problem in the Civic building in Auckland being used as an excuse to buy a new ivory tower for the empire builders at Auckland Council….now Pat Booth has written about it too:
Buying as its new headquarters the ASB’s $100-plus million 31 storey office block in Albert St, reportedly four times the size of the 19 level current Civic Building overlooking Aotea Centre, is the latest suspect grand plan.
Borrowing to do so, of course.
Then there’s the added figures and facts that go with the plan.
For instance that it will house 2400 of the council staff.
With this worrying PS: “Two thousand four hundred of the council’s 6000”! Good grief, so they actually need the equivalent of two more tower blocks for that size of staff.
Question: How many people in total did it take to run the various councils before they were merged? One official explanation why the Civic Building may be demolished is that it has leak problems, is not up to code, is too small, needs a new facade. There’s even been a suggestion – not in this paper – of an asbestos problem.
Which puzzles Dame Cath Tizard who told me she remembers being evicted from her mayoral office there like everyone else for months late in the 1980s until the experts said they had got it all out.
She has a photo of herself holding the last bag.
So much for asbestos but have council workers really been housed in an environment which didn’t meet the council’s own building code. If so, would the council’s officers have allowed the same dispensation to some city corporate?
Any wonder the ratepayers who were kidnapped into the city without being asked are worried.
I noted Fran O’Sullivan’s little tirade the other day and ignored it as a rant from someone ill-informed about Israel and history. This was disappointing from Fran and I would have expected better. I found better though in my inbox as a loyal reader sent me a link to perhaps one of the most outstanding commentaries on Israel and Hamas to date.
By David Solway
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, January 08, 2009
As we observe a mounting and increasingly pervasive campaign to censure Israel for defending itself against the Hamas thugocracy, we are also witnessing a likely self-induced blindness among both elite institutions and ordinary people. The UN, the media, the NGOs and proliferating altruistic organizations, the European governments (with the exception of Germany), the intellectual panjandrums and a vast popular constituency appear utterly incapable of recognizing the obvious. Israel is in fact under no obligation to lend its support to its self-avowed enemy. It is under no imperative to provide Gaza—whose population elected Hamas by a wide margin and supports terror attacks against Israel by an even wider margin—with medical treatment, diesel fuel, electrical power and food shipments. The Geneva Conventions which assign responsibility to the occupying power for the welfare of the occupied people do not apply in this situation since Gaza can no longer credibly be described as “occupied.”
So the question needs to be asked. What other nation in the world heals and victuals its enemies, while at the same time allowing its own population centers to undergo relentless bombardment? What nation in its right collective mind would go on supplying sustenance to and serving its attackers’ energy needs? Russia, for example, is not under attack, yet even in a non-conflictual situation it has no compunction in cutting off Gas supplies to the Ukraine and threatening to do the same to Europe—in the middle of the winter no less—yet the General Assembly sits on its hands, Amnesty International is deafeningly mute, the streets are empty of protesters. Innocent people can freeze to death for all they care.
But Israel is routinely denounced for supposedly depriving its mortal enemies of food and material. Gaza, let us recall, is a hostile “state” which persists in trying to abduct Israeli soldiers, laying explosive devices at the border, sniping at Israel’s labor force and firing rockets daily at its civilian communities. But what is even more preposterous than such false and hypocritical defamation is the fact that Israel, apparently bowing to pressure or subject to some misguided sense of noblesse oblige, continues to act as Gaza’s fuel pump and breadbasket.
Whatever way we look at it, the situation is so absurd and self-defeating as to defy belief. The many “well-intentioned” peace outfits and most of the world’s governments have not seen fit to acknowledge the plain reality of the overall situation. To repeat: Israel is under no obligation whatsoever to cater to or initiate relations with another state or people. Such is the rule the Muslim nations have adopted wholesale vis à vis Israel . It is the assumption behind the anti-Zionist divestment campaigns of the Churches, NGOs, universities and trade unions, and, indeed, it is an axiom the “world community” has sanctioned for its own members, with the hypocritical exclusion of the Jewish state. This is a basic principle of the jus gentium: there is no legitimate compulsion for a competent authority to “do business” with or provide succour to those it does not wish to.
And thus there is no ethical, legal or political justification for imposing this responsibility upon Israel, especially as Israel has been under attack for years from the very entity it is expected to sustain and subsidize. Nevertheless, from the unreflected perspective of the rest of the world, Israel, which owes nothing to Gaza, must go on furnishing its adversaries with their stipulated requirements. Simply put, Israel is the victim of what we might call negative exceptionalism. Unlike any other country on the planet it must work against its own interests. It is as if there exists among its many enemies a shadowy, perhaps unconscious, realization that only one country in the Middle East is capable of defeating Israel, and that is Israel itself. And therefore, in the current conflict, it must be bullied and constrained to furnish Hamas with the ammunition, so to speak, that can be used against it.
That, I believe, is for much of the world what Gaza is all about. Against all common sense and natural law, Israel must be forced via moral condemnation and political pressure to feed, equip, endow and replenish Hamas and its Gazan electors until the Jewish state finally succumbs to a process of physical and military erosion, and becomes something other than a Jewish state. The world demands that Israel defeat itself in the absence of any stronger opponent in the region to complete the task. And Israel, at least up to now and despite its belated military response to continued Hamas aggression, seems perfectly willing to comply.
[Imported from Whale Oil Beef Hooked on Blogger]
Excellant article about the morass in Germany by Dan Coats who served as U.S. Ambassador to Germany from 2001-2005 and U.S. Senator from 1989-1999.
With a quick find and replace it could almost be an article about New Zealand.
A little over week ago, observers on both sides of the Atlantic and both sides of the political spectrum were calling September 18 a crossroads for Germany: Either Germany would choose the path of free-market reform or continue down the path of status-quo statism. But the observers were wrong. Rather than giving Angela Merkel a mandate to change course or Gerhard Schroeder a mandate to stay the course, the German electorate simply froze in the middle of the intersection. And that’s a dangerous place to be, as anyone who has tried to cross a busy Berlin street knows.
On the political front, it is evident now more than ever that Germans may talk about wanting reform but they do not want to endure the change needed to bring about reform. For a majority of Germans change represents not an opportunity but a threat—and it’s enough to paralyze a country. To choose the path of reform is to take a risk on the unknown, a frightening prospect for many Germans. It’s frightening because Germany has lost its confidence, its sense that tomorrow can be better than today.