Hard News by Russell Brown


When I heard it was coming yesterday, my impression was that Trevor Mallard had some documentary evidence to back up his claims that Don Brash and the National Party were in the pocket of American interests; and were, in fact, tailoring policy in return for donations. Well, you'd hope that Mallard has at least an embarrassing email or two in hand, because otherwise yesterday's stunt looks weirdly counterproductive.

It has been a week in which Brash has quite effectively damaged himself with his remarkably evasive behaviour over the question of whether he would have sent New Zealanders into combat in Iraq without a UN mandate. Why hand back the initiative by under-delivering on such a serious claim? Perhaps Mallard is following the time-honoured practice of drawing the denial then releasing the evidence. If not .. well, duh.

Meanwhile, Che has some interesting thoughts on this issue, and on the alleged American sugar-daddy, Julian Robertson.

The celebrity drug bust story rolls on, with news that a few more famous names may yet turn up in dispatches, and celebrity manager Andy Haden passing on official denials of involvement from two of those being widely whispered about, Lana Coc-kroft and Charlotte Dawson. Another celebrity went on 3 News last night to deny his involvement - but, bizarrely, did so with both his face and his voice disguised, which would rather seem to defeat the point of issuing a public denial. Well, wouldn't it?

Dave Crampton at Big News has links and updates relating to the London bombings overnight, which were non-lethal but apparently designed to literally terrorise.

Meanwhile, news of a weapon apparently (and I'm not making this up) earmarked for crowd control in Iraq. The Active Denial System fires a microwave beam at rioters to cause heating and intolerable pain in less than five seconds, at which point the subject gets out of the way. Remarkably, US authorities can't venture on what would happen to some who couldn't get out of the way. New Scientist has more.

Did a religious terrorist get to cop a plea because the police feared that a jury of his peers would fail to convict because they believed the victims deserved what they got? That's the remarkable implication of claims in a new book about American serial bomber Eric Rudolph, whose beliefs led him to attack a gay nightclub, two abortion clinics and a concert during the Atlanta Olympics.

Video podcasting! Sorta. Blinkx video goes out with an RSS service for its news clips.

My Wire interview with David Herkt, director of the TV3 documentary High Times: The New Zealand Drug Experience is online as a 20-minute, 17.7MB MP3 file. A good chat.

Someone has digitised and republished the 1979 edition of How It Works: The Computer. Fascinating.

To anyone made nauseous by the Orange Election Man this week, I'll pass on the feedback to those concerned. But, speaking practically, the money's very handy. Especially given that it's my birthday tomorrow ...

PS: I trust Molesworth & Featherson won't mind me quoting from the lead item in its new Weekend Update. Two quotes:

"The huge wave of industrial action we've seen this year is exactly what National warned would happen as a result of Labour's employment legislation."
– Wayne Mapp, National Party industrial relations spokesman,
in a release today on the Air New Zealand cabin crew strike.

"Lowest average person-days lost per employee for a March quarter since the quarterly series began in March 1986."
– Brian Pink, Government statistician.