Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Wellington Cables

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  • Islander, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    That's *exactly* how SuperScrabble works Giovanni!
    Except the boards have been merged by the company, and they include luscious quadruple letters in the far corners...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Islander,

    ARRGH! Quadruple *words*!!!!

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    That seems to be been the case for a while. The SMH has had access to regional stuff for at least the past week

    And Nicky Hager apparently has the lot.

    But I was referring more to the apparent note of caution from The Guardian. It wasn't clear whether the editorial was implying that other news organisations might not be as capable as it has been in placing the cables in context, redacting sensitive information, etc -- or that Wikileaks might become reckless.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Oh look, a re-live-ation

    Does anyone really give a toss, with the exception of Palinite neo-domino theorists flogging a dead unicorn?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5443 posts Report Reply

  • James George,

    How do we even know that all of the media outlets with copies of the cables, obtained those copies through WikiLeaks? The US must know exactly which cables WL had access to and if you knew they were all going to be published anyway, surely pushing, say all the NZ cables out at once, would be infinitely preferable to the death by a thousand cuts of slow release.

    Maybe they did come from Wikileaks although the fact they aren’t included in an easily downloadable WL archive does indicate that they may not have.

    This cable which details the US embassy involvement in the campaign to force Pharmac into wasting money on expensive drugs, should be the subject of considerable scrutiny, but the odds of that are unlikely given the manner in which it has been released. That is along with many other cables.

    If the Sunday Herald follows the lead of the SST the cables won’t be available in full after tommorow so if you are interested the entire release is on a link page at the Herald here.
    I just spend the morning capturing and indexing the lot, but I doubt many other Kiwis ‘will get around to it’ – meaning of course that without the ‘official’ link to the good old fishwrap, they won’t exist as far as a lot of people are concerned.

    Since Sep 2007 • 96 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    I doubt many other Kiwis ‘will get around to it’ – meaning of course that without the ‘official’ link to the good old fishwrap, they won’t exist as far as a lot of people are concerned.

    This "good old fishwrap" is concentrating on the really important stuff.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    This cable which details the US embassy involvement in the campaign to force Pharmac into wasting money on expensive drugs, should be the subject of considerable scrutiny

    The tactics described in that cable sound awful similar to the pro-Herceptin campaign a couple years later.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW,

    An interesting aside from that cable -

    (The [pharmaceutical] industry may be paying a price for its unsuccessful effort in 1990 to unseat Clark, who at the time was health minister.)

    Did we know about this in 1990, or 2004? Not that I recall. And more fool the pharmaceutical industry - throughout 1990 Clark was obviously going to be unseated by the change of government at the beginning of November, but they thought their urgent actions could only have beneficial consequences?

    post will work with companies to identify U.S. speakers to be brought to New Zealand and possible International Visitor Program participants, with the goal of educating New Zealand's health practitioners, policymakers and consumers on pharmaceuticals' role in health care.

    Such touching concern for the educational needs of this benighted land.

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to ChrisW,

    possible International Visitor Program participants

    So which people from our health sector were invited into the programme, like the journos who were named last week?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    So which people from our health sector were invited into the programme, like the journos who were named last week?

    I think that's far more damning than last week's story.

    It's one thing to promote understanding of your social and political culture through an exchange scheme. Quite another to use an exchange scheme as a de facto corporate lobbying tool.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to ChrisW,

    with the goal of educating New Zealand's health practitioners, policymakers and consumers on pharmaceuticals' role in health care.

    That's how you spell "Herceptin". [EDIT - ops, hadn't scrolled up as far as Danyl's post.]

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    That’s how you spell “Herceptin”. [EDIT – ops, hadn’t scrolled up as far as Danyl’s post.]

    Yes, although Roche is a Swiss company. They presumably have to fund their own PR plan, rather than having it covered by their government's foreign service.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Reid, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Interesting that the pharmaceucal companies were worried NZ would ban direct-to-consumer-advertising.

    In addition, U.S. pharmaceutical companies continue to worry that the government will ban direct-to-consumer advertising, one of the industry's few pathways around Pharmac's controls (ref C). Several companies, especially those marketing so-called lifestyle drugs for such conditions as hair loss and erectile dysfunction, have built sales
    through advertising.

    It's an embarrassing anomaly that NZ is the only developed country outside the US that still allows it. Leads to undue influence on doctors and alters prescription patterns even when advertsed drugs are no better than alternatives.

    South Africa • Since Nov 2006 • 80 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    That, Matthew Reid, is a very interesting one.
    One of my family is a GP.
    Said GP is very cynical about presentations from pharma/comps.
    Has said that some colleagues are rather less cynical...or rather more gullible-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Caleb D'Anvers,

    I thought this one was really interesting: the Embassy's behind-the-scenes response to Trevor Mallard's claims of US involvement in National's 2005 election campaign:

    an apparently worried Labour has made the decision to play the
    anti-American card: senior Labour officials have begun to
    imply that a vote for National would mean a vote against an
    independent NZ foreign policy, and a vote for a U.S.-run NZ
    government.

    While the Americans predictably dismiss the claims as "baseless" "diatribes," the cable's account of the backroom pressure they put on Labour is revealing, to say the least. They concentrated on Goff, recognizing his emotional and familial ties to the US, and attempted to get him to distance the party from Mallard's claims:

    The Charge told Goff that the Embassy would have
    appreciated a head's up that Mallard would be making these
    remarks. Goff said that as was well known, he (Goff) has
    very favorable feelings towards the United States and close
    family connections there. (Goff's sister is an Amcit and has
    two sons serving in the U.S. military (one of who is in Iraq)
    with a third on his way to West Point.) But, he went on, the
    Government believes that these issues do resonate with the
    New Zealand public and it would therefore be foolish not to
    pursue them. There will be more campaigning on issues
    related to U.S. policy in the weeks ahead, he cautioned. The
    Charge said that was Labour's call to make, but if further
    false claims were made the Embassy would respond. Goff
    agreed that it was in the Embassy's right to do so, and
    endorsed the idea of our making a press statement refuting
    Mallard's claims.

    While the Embassy is at pains to insist that they were in no way influencing the election, they make it clear that they did not see a Labour victory contributing to "US interests," and considered altering the timing of an official visit to register their disapproval:

    if Labour wins, its campaign may impact our
    ability or desire to build bridges. Ambassador Swindells,
    who is on travel but has been kept abreast of the latest
    flap, also strongly recommends that Washington reconsider
    whether or not late August is a good time for Agriculture
    Secretary Johanns to visit New Zealand. Ordinarily such a visit would be a positive message of support for bilateral
    ties. However, we question whether a Cabinet-level visit
    just weeks before the elections might not be seen as
    interference in domestic politics or be used to undermine
    broader U.S. interests.

    Meanwhile, they made a series of behind-the-scenes approaches to
    "MFAT and other key decision makers in government, the private
    sector, and the media about ways we can improve the bilateral
    relationship after the elections," whatever that means. All of which would tend to undermine somewhat their claim to Olympian detachment from the election and its outcome.

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 482 posts Report Reply

  • Caleb D'Anvers,

    And this one, on the collapse of the Chinese foreign student market in 2005, is fascinating. We'd been led to believe that this was a result of currency issues and negative stories in the Chinese media, but the cable makes it clear that the latter were to some degree orchestrated by the Chinese embassy in Wellington:

    The decrease also reflects an effort by the Chinese
    government to reduce the number of Chinese who study
    overseas. The government's primary aim has been to prevent a
    drain in foreign exchange. The Chinese Embassy's education
    consul in Wellington also has been working actively to reduce
    the numbers of Chinese students in New Zealand, according to
    Robert Stevens (protect), chief executive of Education New
    Zealand. The consul -- who has openly admitted he does not
    like living in New Zealand -- has sent messages back to
    Beijing portraying the country as inhospitable to Chinese
    students, its teachers as incompetent and its people as
    racist, Stevens said.

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 482 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker, in reply to Matthew Reid,

    It’s an embarrassing anomaly that NZ is the only developed country outside the US that still allows it. Leads to undue influence on doctors and alters prescription patterns even when advertsed drugs are no better than alternatives.

    nah, Japan has it too.

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 645 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Danyl has another, bigger batch of Welli cables.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    That's wonderful work by Danyl.

    The first cable I dipped into, a Swindells job, reports on Clark's 2005 State of the Nation speech and the forthcoming election campaign.

    Even by the bullshitty standard of so many of these cables, Swindells really was an ass.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Caleb D'Anvers,

    Meanwhile, they made a series of behind-the-scenes approaches to
    "MFAT and other key decision makers in government, the private
    sector, and the media about ways we can improve the bilateral
    relationship after the elections," whatever that means. All of which would tend to undermine somewhat their claim to Olympian detachment from the election and its outcome.

    Um, I know America is the Great Satan but how would than "tend to undermine" anything? I would like to know if our diplomats suddenly went dark in Australia and United Kingdom around their respective general elections.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    What, nothing on Sir Peter? Nothing at all? Where's ye olde threadde?

    I guess the official information act isn't as sexy as WikiLeaks.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Where's ye olde threadde?

    For tidiness - and to avoid distracting from this one's topic..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Seriatim,

    (The links from the original post don't seem to work anymore - have I missed an updated link?)

    Wellington • Since Dec 2010 • 57 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    I've not read through all the NZ cables linked by Danyl but I assume this is in there too:

    US diplomats disparaged New Zealand's reaction to a suspected Israeli spy ring as a "flap" and accused New Zealand's government of grandstanding in order to sell more lamb to Arab countries, according to leaked cables.

    The arrest and conviction in 2004 of two Israeli citizens, who were caught using the identity of a cerebral palsy sufferer to apply for a New Zealand passport, caused a serious rift between New Zealand and Israel, with allegations that the two men and others involved were Mossad agents.

    "The New Zealand government views the act carried out by the Israeli intelligence agents as not only utterly unacceptable but also a breach of New Zealand sovereignty and international law," New Zealand's then-prime minister, Helen Clark, said after the arrests.

    But US officials in Wellington told their colleagues in Washington that New Zealand had "little to lose" from the breakdown in diplomatic relations with Israel and was instead merely trying to bolster its exports to Arab states.

    NZ gets upset by the severe abuse of the global passport system and it's, were are told, all about selling stuff to the non-Israeli Middle East. I'm guessing there will be no issue for me going into the US next time on a stolen passport then?

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    So long as you're not there to sell lamb.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

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