Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Conversation Starters

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  • Idiot Savant,

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Thank you for the link. My incessant blogging might have a causal link with my quitting the smokes and the drinks.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    So let's get this right: Anne Tolley rushed through her education 'reforms' under Urgency, when there was a great big research study about to be published which contradicted the claims of the measures she introduced.

    This says a lot for the Select Committee system.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    On Gaza, it's nice to know that National are being entirely true to their predicted form and toadying up to the US. I point to the wishy-washy, neutral position taken, with McCully justifying it on the grounds that "the UN haven't taken a stance." That'd be because the US, as per bloody usual, vetoed a Security Council resolution to call on Israel to seek a cease-fire. Most of the rest of the world are denouncing, at volumes that increase by the day, Israel's massive armoured invasion. Three months ago, we would've been amongst the chorus.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Better yet, this piece:

    Pipped at the post.

    Over at The Fundy Post, Mr Litterick has gone blog wild. I recommend it all as summer reading.

    Hear, hear. This effort from Ms. Gallagher is also a cracking read.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    Certainly, the proposed law restricting liquor licences to premises of more than 150m sq is a blunt instrument that will probably produce some perverse results.

    Very blunt indeed. 150 sq m is a pretty large floor space for a shop, and would catch all sorts of dairies and independent liquor outlets. Will we now no longer be able to grab a bottle of Riesling at Monty's superette or Wineseeker on our way to a BYO restaurant, but have to tramp off to a supermarket or biq liquor barn instead?

    I'm probably part of the naive middle-class that you write of, and have indeed never lived next to the sort of hole-in-the-wall RTD vendor that you mention. But should these rules apply to central cities and main suburban centres as well as residential areas? Many people have tried to fight the trend away from small, local, independent shops towards chains of gargantuan big-box retailers, because it reduces diversity and forces more car use. Shouldn't that apply to liquor stores as well?

    If I were cynical, I'd suggest that The Mill and Liquor King were behind this bill.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    perverse results

    Forbidding the kind of wine shop where they can actually make good recommendations, for example?

    There was something on the tele a little while back that the select committee that allowed supermarket liquor sales had the impression the supermarkets wouldn't use alcohol as a loss leaders. Didn't work out that way.

    You might as well restrict licences to less the 150m sq.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • richard thomson,

    Yet more sorry reading on Gaza, placing the fighting in a context of a humanitarian disaster that was already two months old when Israel invaded:
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n01/roy_01_.html
    Incidentally, anyone know how many Israelis were killed in 2008 by rockets fired from Gaza?

    owhiro bay • Since Mar 2008 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Julian Melville,

    Forbidding the kind of wine shop where they can actually make good recommendations, for example?

    Yeah, good point. The hole in the wall cases-of-Woodstock place near my last house can go to hell, but any law that gets rid of that little shop in Hillcrest (Hamilton) next to the cycle track is just wrong!

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Daniel Wilton,

    Long time listener first time caller

    I think that is a case of focusing on the how they are selling, what they are selling and who they are selling to.

    I recall seeing an advertisement from the Mill that was selling a 3L cask of Vodka and Orange for $12.99, you can't honestly say that was the kind of drink designed for one glass with a meal. The whole RTD phenomenon is designed to aid binge drinking.

    I occasionally work as a doorman and number of times I have seen people getting out of a taxi too mashed to be in town in ridiculous. They normally spill out with woodstock bourbons and look to start a fight.

    I think that they should put the age of purchase of off-licenses up to 20 prosecute the hell out of people selling to under agers and figure out a way of dealing with RTD's..

    Wellington • Since Jan 2009 • 54 posts Report Reply

  • Caleb D'Anvers,

    What we're seeing now are the long-term consequences of the liquor industry's response to the bleak economic outlook it faced in the early- to mid-90s. Alcohol consumption, particularly among the young, was trending downwards in first world countries and sales were decreasing. The industry therefore embarked on an international campaign to get young people drinking again. Advertising budgets swelled, aggressive new marketing campaigns aimed at tying drinking to youth identity were conceived and launched, and governments everywhere lobbied to reduce restrictions on sales. The 'New Lad' culture and the near-tribal social-group identifications with brands like Tui didn't come from nowhere --they were the creation of advertising agencies. I think at this point we can say that these campaigns were devastatingly successful.

    Allied to this was the extent to which libertarian thinking wormed its way into policy at both ends of the political spectrum. In the UK, for instance, the Blair government suggested that it was restrictions on pub opening hours that were causing problem drinking, not the pubs themselves. Policymakers managed to convince themselves that it was regulations that were causing social problems, not the substances they sought to control. So we ended up with the nonsensical situation where we were expected to believe that increasing the supply and availability of liquor would somehow lead to people using it more responsibly. Of course, it didn't -- it just led to more and more people getting off their faces more and more often.

    So we're now in the ridiculous position where consumption keeps increasing, and with it crime and the cost of treating alcohol-related injuries and diseases, and sensible regulation is deemed somehow 'off the table'. I think instead that it's time to take stock. The lowering of the drinking was an abject failure on its own terms. It hasn't alleviated youth drinking; it's made the problem considerably worse. Relaxing restrictions on advertising have likewise just added to the problem. Alcohol itself, meanwhile, is far too cheap and far too widely available.

    The drinking age needs to go back to 20. Alcohol sales in dairies and supermarkets need to cease, and bylaws at the local government level restricting the number of liquor licenses --particularly off-licenses -- need to be enacted and systematically enforced. Meanwhile, it would be nice if some of the huge social and public-health costs of drinking could be passed back to brewers and then onto consumers. Perhaps a nice big levy, tied to annual estimates of government monies spent cleaning up after the liquor industry?

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 482 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    __Forbidding the kind of wine shop where they can actually make good recommendations, for example?__

    Yeah, good point. The hole in the wall cases-of-Woodstock place near my last house can go to hell, but any law that gets rid of that little shop in Hillcrest (Hamilton) next to the cycle track is just wrong!

    That's kind of what I was getting at. We have one like the former in our locality but, on the other hand, I do like being able to pop into the Wine Vault in Grey Lynn and talk bollocks with the owner while I grab a good bin-end special.

    I just didn't think the Herald declaring that it would all be okay if only everyone had a nice glass of wine with dinner was really a solution. So what is a solution for people who understandably don't want trouble-magnet liquor outlets at the end of their streets?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Withers,

    In the Canadian province of Ontario, beer is sold via "Brewers' Retail" stores operated by the brewers, who have a monopoly under laws that give the provincial government a monopoly on all sales of alcohol. If you want to buy imported beer, wine or spirits, you go to the "LCBO" (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) stores.

    They tend to be few and far between, though they are much more numerous now than they were 20 or 30 years ago.

    In the tougher neighbourhoods of Toronto - like Dufferin and St. Clair - the LCBO store is guarded by three security guards wearing bullet-proof vests and carrying batons.

    Bottom line: Big liquor stores are even MORE attractive targets for robbers.....especially armed ones.

    Maybe the liquor lobby is trying to shut out the small players....and the law has nothing to do with security at all.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 312 posts Report Reply

  • David Cohen,

    Says RB: "As the horror in Gaza grinds on, might I recommend Jonathan Freedland's writing in the Guardian? See Israel has plenty of tactics for war, but none for peace and Gaza after a Hamas rout will be an even greater threat to Israel. These columns will undoubtedly be earning Freedland the usual accusations that he is a self-hating Jew, but their logic seems persuasive to me."

    By all means recommend Freedland's writing--it's excellently presented--but please, go easy on the strawmen. The other link you give about these "usual accusations" of him being written off as a self-hating Jew actually doesn't bear out what you say. The chastened writer actually apologises to Freedland! In any event, it's probably unusual for that particular epithet to be used about Freedland anyway, since he's widely respected in the UK as a popular commentator with an notably strong Jewish connection.

    Still on the subject of "usual accusations" ... one strikingly recurrent theme among commentators at home and abroad who count themselves as "anti-Zionist" is, they say, that any serious criticism of Israel they make will often be unfairly treated as anti-Semitism by "right-wing" supporters of Israel, especially in the US. But has anyone ever documented this very serious charge by providing actual quotations, in context, showing one single media case, much less a consistent pattern. in which mainstream supporters of Israel have equated mere criticism of Israel with Nazism?

    Brooklyn • Since Jan 2009 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Daniel Wilton,

    A solution that I recall kind of working was to address some of the issues with a style of policing.

    If someone was found intoxicated in the street, or arrested for an offense and were found to be intoxicated. The were asked for the last place that served them. The top 3 on the list for that evening were targeted for the next month by police wandering through the bar every hour asking people for ID or dealing with those who were too intoxicated and if they found people they would take the bar's license for a weekend.

    This encouraged the bar to be responsible hosts. Combine this with raising the age of purchase from the off license and knock RTD's on the head and you are step closer to sorting the problem.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2009 • 54 posts Report Reply

  • Gabor Toth,

    Incidentally, anyone know how many Israelis were killed in 2008 by rockets fired from Gaza?

    The figure which is being reported is 16 deaths over the past eight years

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 137 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    @Caleb:

    The statistics from 1997 to the present are here. They show an increasing trend, though not a steep one, and it needs noting that per-capita alcohol consumption remains lower than it was in the early 1990s , when regulations were tighter.

    The drinking age needs to go back to 20. Alcohol sales in dairies and supermarkets need to cease, and bylaws at the local government level restricting the number of liquor licenses --particularly off-licenses -- need to be enacted and systematically enforced.

    But I'd rather have wine and beer being sold alongside food in a supermarket (where they're much tighter on who they'll sell to than your average hole in the wall is). And I'd rather have the Gypsy Tearooms in Grey Lynn than some vile place run by a licensing trust.

    The interesting thing about the process of Grey Lynn going "wet" after its licensing status was changed by popular vote in the 90s is that the residents there were willing and able to use the consent process to control what happened next.

    I know for a fact that both Malt and the Gypsy Tearooms barshad a long, hard road through the process -- but, clearly, that was a good thing for the neighbourhood in the long run.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Eddie Clark,

    Steve:

    My god, yes. I just spent a year living in Toronto, and going into the beer store at queen and bathurst, or the lcbo at Bloor and Ossington is a nasty experience if you go in at the wrong time. They also close horribly early, are miles apart, and make picking a bottle of wine up on your way to dinner or a party a very inconvenient process.

    As for a New Zealand solution, I need to do some more reading (will do later today), but I suspect that a proper application of current zoning and liquor licencing requirements could mitigate a lot of the trouble we see at the moment. Resorce consent and liquor licences are not supposed to be rubber stamped, and shouldn't be treated as such.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 273 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    If Anne Tolley thinks Professor John Hattie's monumental "study of studies" on student achievement will have a “profound influence” on the future of schooling in New Zealand, does she now feel a bit silly having just forced through education amendments enshrining constant testing and teaching-to-test -- two of the top five things Hattie found do not aid student achievement?

    And my thought when I read the news report over the weekend was the opposite. New research comes out that "shows that the key to effective teaching is the quality of the feedback students get..." and I thought 'hey! Didn't National just pass a law so that they could set standards and force schools to provide quality feedback on individual performance?'.

    :-)

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Margaret,

    I wonder how this would apply to mail-order/from home businesses. My parents sell wine by internet/mail order and even though there is no wine on site the house has to have a liquor licence.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2007 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    But has anyone ever documented this very serious charge by providing actual quotations, in context, showing one single media case, much less a consistent pattern. in which mainstream supporters of Israel have equated mere criticism of Israel with Nazism?

    Freedland himself did as much when he noted an article by the odious Melanie Philips, about the group Independent Jewish Voices (whose members include Mike Leigh and Stephen Fry), which she chose to characterise as Jews for Genocide.

    And, of course, had a stronger stomach, I could find many more tracts like this from the prominent US conservative website Free Republic:

    During World War II, there were Jewish "kapos" in Nazi concentration camps who were forced by the threat of immediate death to collaborate with the Germans and performs jobs involved in the murder of other Jews. We should not be too fast to judge them, given their dire circumstances and desperate desire to stay alive.

    There are today, however, Jewish leftists who would like nothing better than to assist Jew-hating Arabs in creating a Second Jewish Holocaust, and their slavish and servile collaboration with genocidal Islamo-fascists has nothing to do with threats to their own lives.

    Almost every self-hating Jew on the planet capable of banging on a keyboard is today either a columnist for the anti-American web magazine Counterpunch, run by Alexander Cockburn, or is an object of Counterpunch’s celebration. Counterpunch runs Norman Finkelstein, whom even the Anti-Defamation League has declared a Holocaust denier. It regularly runs the anti-Israel lecturer Neve Gordon, a deep admirer of Finkelstein who has turned out dozens of articles attacking Israel for Cockburn, as well as Israel’s Lord Haw-Haw Uri Avnery, and dozens of other anti-Israel Jews.

    There really is a lot more where that came from.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Melchior,

    On a different topic, I'm a little confused about your utterly random 'facebook' crack about anarchists, both here and in the comments at The Standard. Maybe Quoth the Raven is a well-known commenter who opines about facebook? I don't know. But the link between anarchists have political and social aims, regardless of you disagreeing with them or not, and facebook is utterly tenuous - a strawman.

    Apart form anything else, no one in the thread is a self-professed anarchist. The one comment that mentions the word is quoting from the rioters in Athens. And the condescension in your use of inverted commas to describe the person who mentions this. What's going on Russell? You're clearly not an anarchist, but why the disdain for people who hold a different political/economic view?

    Melbourne • Since Nov 2006 • 36 posts Report Reply

  • Katita,

    And this item from Mr Fisk http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-why-do-they-hate-the-west-so-much-we-will-ask-1230046.html

    And sure enough on SBS news last night they were interviewing an Israeli Army officer who claimed that Hamas were firing from within the UN school.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 67 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    IMO it should be compulsory for the msm pundits & reporters to read the article that Idiot/Savant links to in the 1st post.

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I honestly don't think that raising the age will do a thing. When it was lowered, we were promised strict enforcement, harsh penalties, and various measures to ensure that under-age drinkers weren't getting their hands on alcohol. Has it worked? Has it hell!

    Rather than changing the law, use the provisions and use them hard. Revoke liquor licences permanently on a second offence. Suspend for a week on a first offence. Levy maximum fines on everyone who's found breaching the law. We were promised zero tolerance, but that's never actually happened.
    If any changes are necessary, change the law so that off-licences have a one-strike-and-you're-out existence. Unless they can prove that an under-age person presented adequate false ID, a single bad sale will cost them their licence forever. It's not the on-licences that are the problem, it's the off-licences. And hit parents/friends/acquaintances with the $2k fines that the law provides for supply to minors. Because if the age goes up to 20, the supply to 14, 15, 16-year-old drinkers will continue to be through their family and friends. It'll just be from ones who're over 20, rather than over 18.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

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