Hard News by Russell Brown

The News

Righto: APN has signed off on plans for its new Sunday newspaper, which will publish out of the New Zealand Herald's offices but can't hire any Herald staff. It will launch in September.

Former INL people Rick Neville and former Sunday Star Times editor Sue Chetwin have been involved for some time in the project. Shayne Currie, formerly deputy editor of the SST, will apparently take up the same post at the new paper, and political editor Jonathan Milne and former SST sports editor Duncan Johnstone has also been hired, along with Ant Philips from TV Guide. The smart money's still on a tabloid. Announcement within the week, apparently.

These People Are Bad and Dangerous I: The Bush administration's War on Science continues apace. The US government has blocked American scientists from attending the International Aids Conference in Bangkok in what appears to be a payback for Aids activists' rejection of America's abstinence-first philosophy. The US Department of Health and Human Services is claiming cost is an obstacle, but the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association protested that in the case of at least one prominent scientist, cost was never an issue:

She pointed out that the trip would have been paid for by the American Medical Association, not the US government. "It is an incredible example of political pettiness. It is anti-intellectual and it is interfering with scientists and the scientific process and means American government-employed scientists are not allowed to be here to share their knowledge," she said.

These People Are Bad and Dangerous Part II: The Enron investigation has partially lifted the lid on what the Republicans did in Texas last year. It goes like this: Republican House majority whip Tom DeLay solicited contributions from Enron and other large corporates and then secretly and in breach of Texas state law channelled the money into Republican campaigns for the Texas legislature with the declared and specific aim of gaining a majority to redraw the state's congressional districts so as to engineer a Republican gerrymander and make it impossible for sitting Democrats to be re-elected. Even though four Democrat members of the Texas House went into hiding to try and prevent the gerrymander vote, it worked. The Washington Posts's detailed story also notes the legislative favours that Enron appears to have got for its money.

These People are Bad and Dangerous III: The Bush administration has been making threats and promises to push the Pakistani government into capturing and delivering Osama Bin Laden. So what? The order has come for delivery on specific dates - the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston at the end of this month. In order to smooth the way for a politically advantageous result, the administration has raised no protest against the Pakistani government's pardoning of nuclear physicist A.Q. Khan, who recently admitted exporting nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea, and Libya. Most of the US media appear to have ignored the 'July Surprise' story broken last week in The New Republic.

Don Hills has had some interesting observations to make about the copy-controlled CDs being released into the local market by EMI and others. I've note previously that the "protection" part of this technology is haphazard and often ineffective. But, as Don points out, some of these CDs contain deliberately corrupted data that breaks the error correction in CD players - and hence means that your new CD may be ruined if it subsequently picks up even a small scratch. The complete thread from nz.comp is here.

And Tracey Nelson has analysed the All Blacks' performance against the Pacific Islanders on Saturday night. I thought it was a great game and that the PIs demonstrated again that they are a handful for any team in the world. But, as Tracey points out, "28 missed tackles and 18 handling errors." Hopefully concentration levels will be raised considerably for this Saturday's Tri-Nations opener against Australia.