Mental Health Break

The difference between Obama and Trump’s approach to Arab leaders

President Trump’s recent speech to Arab Leaders in Riyadh has been dismissed by non-business people as similar to ex-president Obama’s infamous Cairo speech in 2009. There were some similarities but there were also some key differences. President Trump as a businessman concluded his speech with “action points.” Businessmen are about action and making things happen. President Trump made demands of the people in the room.


Obama opened with “Assalamualaikum”, going on to apologise for colonialism, proxy wars, hostility to Islam, and quoting the “Holy” Quran. He spoke of civilization’s “debt to Islam”, his responsibility to defend the Muslim faith, the hijab, and declare “Islam is a part of America”.

After this submissive introduction — having spent the first seven pages of his speech brown-nosing his audience — he noted that “violent extremists” needed to be confronted, closing with: “Islam is not part of the problem…”

Instead, President Trump dived right in, spending less than a page on the flattery — and there was scarcely any in that section anyway — getting to the first action point by page two of his speech: “This landmark agreement includes the announcement of a $110 billion Saudi-funded defense purchase…

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Map of the Day

Trevor Mallard ignored legal problems with religion in schools

Who is taking who for a walk?

The Ministry of Education identified that religious instruction in state schools might be discriminatory more than 16 years ago, but chose to take no action.

The identification was included in a 2001 confidential internal report to then Education Minister Trevor Mallard, on inconsistencies between the Human Rights Act and Education Act.

The ministry fought for nearly two years to keep parts of the report referring to religious instruction secret, citing legal privilege, but was forced to release the full version by the Ombudsman.

Forcing atheist and non-Christian students to either attend classes that were against their beliefs, or exclude themselves, could be “indirect discrimination”, the ministry’s legal department said in the report.

It’s quite a wedge.  Kids that are barely 7 or 9 years old are put in a position where their friends are different from them.  Some get to learn about God, others don’t.  So are not allowed to go into that room with their friends.  Their friends them come out later and talk about shared experiences others aren’t part of. Read more »

Paula Bennett wants the tip, please

Deputy PM Paula Bennett is calling for Kiwis to tip hospitality staff more often, in an effort to increase the quality of service.

The hospitality industry agrees, and new eftpos machines which automatically ask customers if they want to add a gratuity are becoming more and more prevalent.

Bennett, who is also the Tourism Minister, said Kiwi service was already good but she believed it was better in countries with a strong culture of tipping like the United States.

Tipping is great if it is a result of excellent service and the tip is freely given.  Where it comes unstuck is when there is an expectation to tip.  At that point, it is no longer a reward for good service.  It basically means the hospitality business and you are in a short term employment agreement to pay this person’s wages.    Read more »

Talk of the TPP resurrection has upset Prof Jane Kelsey

…the bullshit from the National government on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) since the Trump administration formally pulled out in January is really off the planet (apologies, I don’t usually swear in blogs, but I couldn’t find a suitable acronym).


A week ago, Prime Minister Bill English and his ever-so-earnest trade minister Todd McClay have been in Japan talking up a supposed consensus to proceed with the deal, mainly as a way of enticing the US back to the fold. This followed McClay’s tiki tour across a number of countries trying to resurrect the zombie TPPA.

McClay admits that he has nailed New Zealand’s colours to the mast without any reassessment of the supposed benefits of the deal without the US; he has only now asked officials to do the numbers. Presumably that will mean more of the shonky modelling they used to claim benefits from the original deal (which the media still often quote without acknowledging how bogus they are), and which failed to assess any corresponding costs (even the super-neoliberal Australian Productivity Commission said there was no net benefit to Australia once they were factored in). But National didn’t even bother to any research before jumping on the bandwagon to rescue the deal. Ideology rules.

ACT’s leader David Seymour, ever-eager to cement his credentials as a loyal lapdog, attacked Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First for criticising the move and claimed that ‘a renewed TPP would mean access to enormous overseas markets for New Zealand businesses’. So much for ACT’s commitment to evidence-based policy! Equally telling was his endorsement of the handcuffs the TPPA would put on governments’ ability to re-regulate areas where successive governments have abdicated their responsibilities, something New Zealand sorely needs. According to Seymour: ‘New checks and balances against harmful regulation are a positive for New Zealand businesses and consumers.’

The opposition to the TTP until now was almost totally an anti-American.   With the US now out of the picture, Kelsey and her supporters now have to pretend that their previous concerns are still valid.   Read more »

Photo of the Day

Sensational Journalism Defined Newspapers of the Late 1890s

The Murder of Helen Jewett

The murder wasn’t especially unique. But since it involved sex, a new recipe for journalism was born. The investigation and subsequent trial exploded into a national sensation. For the first time in American history, tabloids known as “penny papers” plied a seductive narrative of sex, crime, and romance. In the media world, it was chaos, with little regard for journalistic integrity or facts.

The New York City newspapers referred to her as “the girl in green” – green was her colour and it caught reporters’ eyes. 23-year-old Helen Jewett was a beautiful, intelligent, sophisticated prostitute at Rosina Townsend’s upscale brothel not far from New York’s city hall. Her clients included politicians, lawyers, journalists, and wealthy merchants. One cold April night in 1836 one of them smashed her skull with an axe and set her bed on fire. It was the story that shocked New York and gave birth to sensational journalism.

The April 1836 murder of Helen Jewett, a prostitute in New York City, was an early example of a media sensation. The newspapers of the day ran lurid stories about the case, and the trial of her accused killer, Richard Robinson, became the focus of intense attention.

One particular newspaper, the New York Herald, which had been founded by innovative editor James Gordon Bennett a year earlier, fixated on the Jewett case.

The Herald’s intensive coverage of a particularly gruesome crime created a template for crime reporting that endures to the present day. The frenzy around the Jewett case could be viewed as the beginning of what today we know as the tabloid style of sensationalism, which is still popular in major cities.

The murder of one prostitute in the growing city would likely have been quickly forgotten. But the way coverage of the Jewett murder influenced the growing newspaper business made the crime a much more significant event.

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Rachel MacGregor is the meat in the Colin Craig defamation sandwich

Katie Parker at The Wireless provides a different perspective of the current Craig v Slater case.

It’s been three years since she left her job as press secretary to then-Conservative Party leader Colin Craig, alleging that in during her time working for him she had suffered ongoing sexual harassment. Craig denied the allegations.

Slater published documents and articles alleging the claims were correct and the pair have been fighting about it ever since.

During those three years, MacGregor’s efforts to put the incident in the past have been repeatedly thwarted, and as Craig’s many litigious issues play out in court and in public she has become a reluctant recurring figure in the media.

The Craig and Slater trial is yet another block in the road.

MacGregor told me that, though she has been subpoenaed as a witness, she has done her best to ignore coverage of the trial. What brought it to her attention, she says was “the Herald’s coverage of it, in which they’ve mainly used satire as a way to report on it”.

Whaleoil was similarly perplexed that the NZ Herald replaced its court reporter with a satirist.   On the other hand, we really weren’t.  The NZ Herald have seriously lost their way.   Read more »

Cartoon of the Day

Labour candidate bails before the election

“Who do you trust?” – a bit of nostalgia

Labour is seeking a new person to run in East Coast Bays after its candidate withdrew from the race.

Rohan Lord, a former America’s Cup sailor and Olympic sailing coach, has decided not to stand in the electorate.

Labour general secretary Andrew Kirton said Lord’s personal circumstances had changed, but he did not give any further detail.

He said being a political candidate was a big commitment, and it was not uncommon for one or two people change their minds.

Right.  So that’s the spin.  What is Lord’s real reason for running away?   Read more »