April 2009

Is David Shearer Labour's John Key?

You have to admire Phil Goff in parachuting David Shearer into Mt Albert. In Shearer he has a candidate that can appeal to both sides of the political spectrum. By all accounts he is a nice guy, well liked and has an impressive career of public minded service, particularly of late at teh UN in Iraq.

Shearer certainly does appeal to both sides. Clearlyhe is the favourite for Mt Albert having the defacto endorsement of the party machine from Wellington. But also importantly he has crossed the centre line and appealed to right wingers such as myself, David Farrar and now Matthew Hooton.

Matthew Hooton has written a superb article in the NBR outlining just exactly why David Shearer is the perfect candidate for Labour. In fact with David Shearer in place the by-election becomes a two horse race between tweo very strong contenders. David Shearer and Ruseel Norman. National’s candidate whomever it is will fall well down the rankings behind those two, down with the other minor parties.

Hooton writes about Shearer;

Labour has no choice but to select Mr Shearer as its candidate this Sunday, with any other decision representing a public humiliation of Mr Goff by his own party. Mr Shearer should then win the seat convincingly.

His selection will mean Labour will never again be able to cry “privatisation” when contestability of service delivery is suggested, and will open the possibility of a more sensible debate about the current structure of the SOE portfolio. New Zealanders can only gain, both as consumers of public services and investors in state assets.

This is precisely why Labour and Phil Goff must select David Shearer, to move Labour across the centre line. It could be that David Shearer is labour’s John Key and we could be looking at the next Labour Prime Minister. Andrew Little then faces a dilemma, back the party or go for the Clarkist candidate.

Official BlogMobile Photos

Just got some official photos of the BlogMobile.




National torn over Mt Albert candidacy

National torn over Mt Albert candidacyThe National Party is embroiled in a backroom power struggle over its Mt Albert candidate, with the hierarchy’s favourite, Melissa Lee, trying to tip out grassroots toiler Ravi Musuku. Ms Lee is a list MP and one of National’s… [NZ Herald Politics]

Spam journalism this morning from Patrick Gower. The National Party isn’t torn at all over Mt Albert. Only Ravi Mususku is. He just hasn’t got it yet that this by-election is important. So important that National doesn’t want cannon-fodder fed into the attack.

What Ravi fails to understand is that he was cannon-fodder. party folk won’t tell him that but I am far too honest. When standing in a safe seat against the then incumbent Prime Minister you are only going to to get mowed down.

When a by-election comes along after the former Prime Minister resigns there is a whole new set of dynamics. The personality that held the electorate together behind Helen Clark has gone, in a flash it turns out and hasn’t even bothered with any speechs or otherwise to mark the occaison. She could bolt fast enough….making a mockery of putting Mt Albert first…..more like putting herself first.

Ravi needs to get with the programme and fall in behind like the loyal soldier he is. If he plays nice the party will play nice. If he plays dumb he will get mowed down. Simple really.

Useful post on Journalism 2.0

ReadWriteWeb has a useful post on what they call Journalism 2.0. It is a blo-jo viewpoint of blogging versus journalism without the whiny assed angst of the likes of Colin James or Deborah Hill-Cone.

Both of them would do well to read it and see where the world is heading.

Begone, You Self-Interested Tech Cynics

I have always been in the technology business. I like writing about the technology business because I find it fascinating and there are a lot of really smart people to talk to. But techies can spout the most self-interested baloney when it comes to content. The Web 2.0 vision of user-generated content is millions of passionate experts creating content that really clever algorithms deliver to audiences. The people who create those really clever algorithms become rich beyond the dreams of avarice while throwing a few crumbs to the content creators. Don’t try paying a mortgage with AdSense or other CPC-affiliate revenue deals.

To a techie, “content” is just something to throw in a software system. Content creators don’t talk about “content.” They talk about their art or craft. Journalism is a form of art, albeit closer to craft than art. To a techie, art is just content. Which is more important, code or art? If you had to choose between a world without computers or a world without art, which would you choose?

But let’s not get carried away with this. Journalism is still just a job.

Would Citizen Journalists Have Exposed Watergate?

Yes, they would have.

We don’t need to protect journalism with public money or grants. The greater social good will be delivered by thousands of people on the ground reporting what is happening. That massive flow will be analyzed and edited (“curated”) by a small number of experts who are motivated and trained to uncover the truth.

It won’t be perfect. But the current system isn’t perfect either. It is fair to say, though, that scumbags won’t rest any easier. They will still be exposed.

Sacrifices will be made. One cannot imagine foreign bureaus surviving in anything close to their current form. Instead of having a few stringers on a loose contract, media firms will have a standardized deal that applies to anyone who covers fast-breaking news. That way, whoever is on the spot becomes a “just-in-time stringer.”

Is that better or worse than what we have now? It’s worse for the people working today in foreign bureaus on good salaries. But mostly, it’s just different.


Fiji deadline tonight – China licking its lips

Fiji welcomed by Chine to its co-properity sphereFiji deadline tonightFiji will be automatically suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum at midnight tonight if it doesn’t meet the conditions of the deadline set by the regional body, Foreign Minister Murray McCully said yesterday. The forum set May… [NZ Herald Politics]

Tonight at midnight we will see just how successful the Pcific Forum has been following the diplomatic lines of Australia and New Zealand with regard to Fiji.

I doubt that Frank Bainimarama will even lose a minutes sleep tonight worrying about being chucked out of the Pacific Forum.

Meanwhile China will continue to pour money into Fiji further seperating Fiji from the rest of the Pacific.

The sad thing is that this could have all been avoided with some sensible discussion instead of lecturing and posturing. In a few years time we will wonder just what went wrong as China extends its co-properity sphere across other Pacific Nations.

Water chief targeted in smear claim

Water chief targeted in smear claimA senior Auckland public official tipped to oversee the Government’s Super City plans is being smeared in an anonymous document circulating in the city. Mark Ford, the chief executive of Watercare Services, is believed to be the… [NZ Herald Politics]

There is an active smear campaign going on around water in Auckland. The Herald reports that at least two others have received the smear documents. I believe the smear has gone wider than that because this blogger was also emailed the documents.

There is someone out there who is in all sorts of a lather about a non-event. I think perhaps they need to put the cap back on the flagon well before sitting down at the computer and typing this tosh up again.

One thing is for sure, they don’t like Richard Worth for some reason. Though I have no idea of the relevance of the alleged connection between an Internal Affairs Minister and Water Services??? There isn’t even a conflict so why bother even raising it.

Clearly a nutjob conspiracist.


Bringing back the Strike Wing the Shearer way

The more I read about David Shearer the more I like him. I think he has a great deal to offer New Zealand especially with regard to our military and Police.

Today at lunch we discussed this at length and thought that perhaps the Police could be opened up to contestable funding based on results. If Privatising Protection is taken to its logical conclusion then why couldn’t we leverage this method to better fund outcomes in Policing?

If a murder is conducted, for instance, then competing policing organisations could bid to work on the solving of the crime with a large amount of the fee paid only upon success. Same for action against anti-social crimes in particular areas and so on saving us money and getting better results at the same time. Arguably we already have this system in place with security companies but those are funded by individuals and companies directly. I think the contestable funding model could really have merit.

We also got around to discussing how New Zealand could possibly replace the Air Force Strike Wing capability and then we realised that the solution was actually staring us in the face.

Once of the major reasons that Helen Clark gave for getting rid of the Strike Wing was the ongoing costs of maintaining such advanced technologies and upgrading them. With David Shearer’s brilliant work on outsourcing of military and security and his rightful questioning of the ability of sovereign nations to adequately defend themselves the solution surely is to simply outsource our air force.

I wondered if this was possible but a quick Google Search soon proved to me that indeed it could be.

In a cavernous airplane hangar in Quincy, Illinois, two hours south of Chicago a possible solution exists;

A decade ago, only sovereign nations could afford to buy and maintain sophisticated, high-performance fighters. But Kirlin’s unmarked hangars contain an air force more formidable than that of many countries. He has 30 jets in flying condition, 10 in line for maintenance, and dozens more to be delivered. His MiG-29 Fulcrums, designed in the late 1970s to go head-to-head with the hottest US planes, are the only privately owned Fulcrums in the world. Kirlin breaks into a big smile whenever he looks at them.

Right so, yes we can have an airforce and with a strike capability far in excess of anything we had before. The idea has much merit, so much so that USAID is considering building its own private airforce as well, using paid for contractors to deliver. I did wonder if we could just hire Blackwater.

Turns out we can and they do have exactly what we need;

Super TucanoAugust 27, 2007: Security company Blackwater U.S.A. is buying Super Tucano light combat aircraft from the Brazilian manufacturer Embraer. These five ton, single engine, single seat aircraft are built for pilot training, but also perform quite well for counter-insurgency work. Brazil. The Super Tucano is basically a prop driven trainer that is equipped for combat missions. The aircraft can carry up to 1.5 tons of weapons, including 12.7mm machine-guns, bombs and missiles. The aircraft cruises at about 500 kilometers an hour and can stay in the air for about 6.5 hours per sortie. One of the options is a FLIR (infrared radar that produces a photo realistic video image in any weather) and a fire control system for bombing. Colombia is using the Super Tucanos for counter-insurgency work (there are over 20,000 armed rebels and drug gang gunmen in the country). The aircraft is also used for border patrol. The U.S. Air Force is watching that quite closely. The Super Tucano costs $9 million each, and come in one or two seat versions. The bubble canopy provides excellent visibility. This, coupled with its slow speed (versus jets), makes it an excellent ground attack aircraft.

Blackwater already has a force of armed helicopters in Iraq, and apparently wants something a little faster, and more heavily armed, to fulfill its security contracts overseas. Initially, Blackwater is getting one two-seater, for pilot training in the United States.

Brilliant! David Shearer really needs to be selected urgently then John Key in the spirit of co-operation in this time of economic crisis needs to take David Shearer into cabinet as Defence Minister. He will easily be able to restore a Strike Wing capability and at a fraction of the cost simply by outsourcing to the likes of Blackwater.

Not only that but Blackwater now also has capability in several areas that could be extremely useful if we decided to outsource aspects of the Navy and Army including;

Blackwater K-9Training canines to work in patrol capacities as war dogs, explosives and drug detection, and various other roles for military and law enforcement duties.

Blackwater Airships, LLC – Blackwater Airships LLC was established in January 2006 to build a remotely piloted airship vehicle (RPAV).

Grizzly APCBlackwater Armored VehicleBlackwater recently introduced its own armored personnel carrier, the Grizzly APC.

It comes in 4×2, 4×4, and 6×6 versions with three different Caterpillar diesel engines are available.

Its armor, called the “Blackwater High Threat Armor Protection System” is claimed to defeat .50 caliber rounds as well as IEDs. It is constructed of AR500 steel, and incorporates angled walls and a v-hull chassis to deflect the blast waves produced by explosives. It uses Fiber-Tek armor reinforced belly and lowers, with a fully enclosed drive train. ArmorThane tactical coating on the interior and exterior reduces spall probability.

There are two top-side egress hatches, five gun ports (two on each side and one in rear), and transparent armored windows, capable of NIJ level 3 protection. The Grizzly makes use of forward and rear 400,000+ candle power halogen searchlights, which can be operated remotely. It also has a ringmount roof turret, capable of mounting a 12.7mm machine gun, which may be operated from a remote weapon station.

Blackwater Maritime SolutionsBlackwater Maritime Security Services offers tactical training for maritime force protection units. In the past it has trained Greek security forces for the 2004 Olympics, Azerbaijan Naval Sea Commandos, and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior. Blackwater’s facilities include a manmade lake, with stacked containers simulating the hull and deck of a ship for maritime assaults. Blackwater received a contract to train United States Navy sailors following the attack on the USS Cole.

It has also recently purchased a 183ft vessel, the McArthur, which has been outfitted for disaster response and training. According to Blackwater USA, it features “state of the art navigation systems, full GMDSS communications, SEATEL Broadband, dedicated command and control bays, helicopter decks, hospital and multiple support vessel capabilities. The McArthur was built in 1966 by the Norfolk Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. and served as a research vessel for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration until its decommissioning in 2003. The ship will be home-ported in Norfolk, Virginia.

See, there are solutions for even the replacement of the expensive and under utilised LAV III’s whereby we only pay for what we use within the outsourcing model. I can certainly see merit especially with the Word Cup coming up for use of the K9 units and the Maritime forces for border, fisheries and smuggling control.

David Shearer must be slected for Mt Albert, fo the sake of the nation.

The New BlogMobile

Great news folks, DPF and I met with Shane at VnC Cocktails today to workout the details of the Barrons provided BlogMobile.

This years BlogMobile will be a Burstner Argos 747. Barron’s sold 67 of these last year, and from the spec I can see why. DPF and I will certainly be in considerable comfort in this beast.

The very best news though is that it will be fully stocked with VnC Cocktails so I can forsee the media camping in the BlogMobile in order to get some liquid refreshment in case their parsimonious bosses don’t come through with an entertainment allowance.

I am waiting for official photos but this is what one looks like.




Silly First Name Syndrome strikes big

hat tip Velofille

From Sideswipe, a litle bit about the tragic consequences of Silly First Name Syndrome.

Name Of The Year, a website that has an annual contest to determine the oddest name, has this year picked American footballer Barkevious Mingo, beating Velvet Milkman and Nutritious Love. Other finalists included Iris Macadangdang, Iona Knipl, Atilla Bucko, Taco Vandervelde and Crystal Metheny. But hard to beat was Wisconsin school teacher Marijuana Pepsi – her mother’s sociological experiment, unlike sisters Kimberly and Robin – and twins named Winner and Loser. Winner became a lifetime criminal and Loser a New York police detective.

When will people learn? When?

Is Jones making his move?

Inventory at Keeping Stock was watching the General Debate yesterday and noticed that the new Mr Nasaty of the Labour Party and wannabe leader Shane Jones made his speech from Phil Goff’s increasingly vacant chair.

Is this the first sign of Jones making his move?

Is it BBQ’s or Hangi that are happening around the Labour caucus now?

The last thing Phil Goff needs right now as he seeks to move the party right through David Shearer is an attempted coup.