Hard News by Russell Brown


The flap over the forged-or-not memos that reflect badly on Bush's National Guard service - and, more particularly, indicate that he has previously lied about same - is beyond bizarre. If the CBS papers are fakes, who's the source? It's really impossible to assess the competing forensic claims about the documents from this distance, but Kevin Drum points out that not only did USA Today say last week that it also had obtained copies of the memos from its own sources - it posted some more as PDFs on its website. This seems to rather strongly work against the idea that CBS News was the victim of a sting. But I have no idea where this one is going to go ...

Meanwhile, all hell is breaking loose in Iraq. Juan Cole speculates on what exactly is going on.

National's new health spokesperson Judith Collins appears to have signalled her style by proposing an amendment to the Care of Children Bill that would forbid confidentiality in cases of abortion for girls under 16 - and dismissing the objections of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners and the New Zealand Medical Association as "bollocks" (is that a medical term?). All of us would hope that in such cases the rule would be that parents were notified and involved - but legislating to dictate that parents must be informed, regardless of the domestic situation, seems foolhardy.

The experience in US states that have passed such measures is, as Collins notes, fewer abortions. In many cases it also appears to have led to later, riskier abortions (because of the need for the patient to appear in court to seek a waiver), more out-of-state abortions and more unwanted pregnancies. The ACLU has a fact sheet and there's another one here.

I've just, a tiny bit belatedly, sent in my verdict in the "best publication" category of the Aotearoa Student Press Association awards, which are handed out this Friday. It looks to me like the standard has risen since last year, lending weight to the view that the student press is on a roll.

Further evidence: the relaunch of the one-time VUW rebel mag Lucid as a national publication. The most impressive thing about the new Lucid is the standard of sub-editing. Below the level of the country's marquee magazines - and especially in the yoof press - you are often likely to encounter poor spelling, bad grammar and crap sentences. But Lucid is tight. It doesn't bother with kind of gritty news coverage you'll see in Salient or Critic, and I'd expect to see more reportage in the features next time, but it's full of good writing and contains humour that is actually funny. Gotta love Newtown Ghetto Anger too. But if those little circles are so easy to draw, surely he should be knocking out a strip a week …

The B-Nets were the usual annual riot on Friday night, although there weren't any you-had-to-be-there performances of the order of last year's offerings from Scribe and the D4 (Scribe's off in London to play Notting Hill Carnival and Roots Manuva's birthday). I fancied I did quite well to get out of the after-party alive by 2am. Gareth Shute kindly offered me a copy of his book Hip Hop Music in Aotearoa and even more kindly dropped it around to my house over the weekend. It's a really nice book. I feel some pride about getting a few emergent local rappers - including Upper Hutt Posse, playing their second Auckland gig - on stage at the two Housequake! dance parties I staged in early 1989 (15 years ago!), during a summer back from London, and it's fun reading about it all.

Finally, ladies and gentlemen please show your appreciation for Rob O'Neill, whose regular blog, Heat, bows out today. Rob's a very fine chap and I'm grateful to have had his contributions on Public Address. I'll buy him a drink next time he ventures over this way. And I'm delighted to announced that the key role of expat correspondent in Australia will be taken up by Che Tibby, who has absolutely earned his stripes and will have a permablog with us as soon as we can choose a colour and knock up a masthead. Righto …