Hard News by Russell Brown

"Dawn Raid" is already taken ...

So Winston Peters is promising immigration "hit squads" in the new New Zealand First party policy to be released on Friday. Presumably the phrase "dawn raid" was turned down on the basis that it is now in use by a popular musical entertainment company.

It's hard not to see the timing of the government's announcement of a major review of immigration law, especially where it relates to refugee applications, as an attempt to defuse Peters' policy launch. This does not necessarily signal draconian measures - even Deborah Manning cautiously welcomed the prospect of faster processing of applications - and immigration minister Paul Swain waffled where appropriate on Morning Report today. Peters' behaviour in the same interview was predictably appalling.

The sentencing of former Christian heritage leader Graham Capill on charges of molesting an eight year-old girl may be delayed so police can investigate claims by two women that Capill sexually assaulted them. The women are being supported by the same Anglican vicar who brought the original complaint to the attention of the police.

Meanwhile, stateside, there's the case of Dr. W. David Hager, prominent evangelical Christian doctor, member of Focus on the Family's physicians' panel and the Bush administration's controversial 2002 appointee to the FDA's reproductive drugs advisory panel. Hager claimed in a sermon late last year that he played a key role in the FDA's rejection of a proposal to make emergency contraception more readily available - even though the panel had overwhelmingly recommended that the proposal be adopted. He subsequently credited God for the FDA decision: "what Satan meant for evil, God turned into good."

In the same sermon, he referred to his divorce and claimed that Focus on the Family had estimated the 50 million people worldwide were praying for him during this trying time.

This was apparently the last straw for his ex-wife of 32 years, who has come forward to claim that Hager anally raped her throughout their marriage. The abuse became worse after she developed narcolepsy. She says his response to her protests was to pay her afterwards. Dr Hager regards himself as a specialist in women's health issues. A commentary in the Falls Church News-Press suggests that "the more public the moralistic display, the greater the private demons. People who have true family values live by them, while deviant phonies incessantly talk about them."

The Project on Defense Alternatives has published Vicious Circle: The Dynamics of Occupation and Resistance in Iraq, which suggests that the occupation continues to drive recruitment for Iraq's bloody insurgency. Check Today in Iraq for stories on the recent carnage uptick.

Michael Cullen claims that National could not afford to deliver its promised tax cuts and continue the Working for Families scheme, which has now signed up 200,000 households. He's obviously looking to push back after last week's PR flub on the Budget, but it will be interesting to see if he's right, because it's genuinely hard to conceive of the kind of across-the-board tax cut that would replace the lost income from the scheme: the average household increase in family assistance alone is $28 weekly.

Rick Prelinger, founder of the Prelinger Archives has given a speech to a BBC Creative Archive seminar on the epochal shift from scarcity to an age of plenty. Hat tip to Synthetic Thoughts, which also notes where the Beeb will and won't deploy digital rights management.

On a similar topic, Slashdot has a discussion on book publishers' protests over Google's plans for libraries.

Hey! Norm at One Good Move now has his QuickTime movies inline. Lately posted: Afghan president Karzai saying that recent protests had nothing to do with Newsweek's Koran story (don't expect any retractions) and a good Saturday Night Live cartoon on media distractions.

The Paul Holmes item last night on political blogging was quite good; but Holmesy, mate, I didn't claim to have "altered government policy". We were pressed for examples of where we might have had an influence, and I did think I'd had a bearing on the nature of the official response (ie: not-completely-ballistic) to the party pills issue. But there wasn't actually a policy there to alter in the first place. Speaking of which, hurry up and make the damn things R18 already. And kids, if your friend wants to take 10 party pills this weekend, please, don't let her …