Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: This just in: Sky over Tasman Sea not falling

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  • simon g,

    But wouldn't it be a refreshing change to have a politician admit to past pot use and not immediately rush a qualifier like "I'm not proud of it" or "I regret it now" or "it was foolish of me" or "I didn't inhale"?

    Yes. And I'd take that further.

    What the politicians in Aus and NZ have done (not only Key) is deal with the issue by placing it in their distant past. The same often happens with stories about drug use, Groser being the latest example.

    Now let's say they are all telling the truth, so apparently there's no problem. But ... what they (and the media) are effectively buying into is the idea that "sins" are forgivable as long as they predate their political lives.

    That means that when a more recent case emerges of "inappropriate" behaviour, the "distance defence" cannot be used. The rules are being tacitly set. You can sin in your youth but must be pure now.

    Anybody who's spent five minutes reading a history book will know that plenty of world leaders have been doing Great Deeds (or wicked ones) while bonking, toking and God knows what else. Roosevelt and Churchill - respectively an adulterer and a piss-head - would surely be deemed unsuitable for public office today. They were still at it.

    A combination of intrusive media and religious right (and spin doctors?) have moved the boundaries, so that now we focus on finding disqualifications instead of qualities. And that's much to be regretted, I feel.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1332 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Good point Simon - don't the French have some great privacy laws?

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • jasepalm,

    I can't believe what Paul Campbell was on about in his email. I think he is drawing a rather long bow to say he is an owner of Air NZ for starters. But I just don't see how the airline by flying troops to Kuwait is compromising his safety. I think your average terrorist is focused on other things and not Air NZ. It was just a lame argument to use to challenge Air NZ on bidding for this contract.

    Christchurch • Since Aug 2007 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    Maybe Labour will do a bit of a u-turn on flying Ozzie troops to Iraq in a year or so -

    AN INCOMING Democratic president of the US would look to Australia to keep its troops in Iraq as long as possible, for up to a further three years, say advisers to the leading candidates, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

    Clark might even find a request for NZ troops from Clinton or Obama difficlut to refuse.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Neil:

    To be quite blunt, I'd take anything anyone in the US has to say about Iraq with a grain of salt - and a whole case of tequila.

    And Russell wrote:

    Sigh ... but Rakon isn't 80% owned by the New Zealand government, is it? Even if you take the view that the charter flight is of no account, it's a bit silly to pretend it's exactly the same thing.

    No - but there's also some interesting wrinkles in talking about 'social responsibility' when it comes to investing the Cullen Fund as well. As I said at the time, there are folks out there who would consider it 'socially irresponsible' to invest in companies - like Air New Zealand - that offer spousal benefits to the same-sex partners of employees, market their goods and services to gays and lesbians etc. And my Muslim neightbours would be horrified if I invested their retirement savings in a pig farm or a vineyard - investments, I suspect, that would not be problematic to most PA readers as long as they were well-run and profitable.

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

  • Tim Hannah,

    A possible Democratic President won't be around till Jan 2009. We have an election before then. Might not be Labour having to do decide on whether to u-turn.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    would I be correct in my guess that all those who dont see what all the fuss is about ( in regards to air Nz) are the same people who supported the original bogus invasion of Iraq??? .

    I don't see what the fuss is about, and I'm a (relatively inactive at present) peace activist. Or more, I think the fuss is most likely hypocritical and Air NZ is catching flak because they're a large and well-known government owned asset.

    Sigh ... but Rakon isn't 80% owned by the New Zealand government, is it? Even if you take the view that the charter flight is of no account, it's a bit silly to pretend it's exactly the same thing.

    I'm fully in favour of the NZ government either divesting or banning companies it's a significant owner of from any engagement in Iraq. I'm not aware of them having done that. Have they gone through the superfund and made sure they're all clean? What about any funding to start up exporting businesses that are in the military line?

    And, are there rules about businesses trying to maximise profits for shareholders? What rights do the owners of the other 20% have?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    And what are the rules about dealing with companies that deal with companies that are involved with companies that make equipment that is used by companies that make gear that they sell to US companies that supply the military?
    How many degrees of separation from objectionable activities are needed to make people comfortable?

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    To be quite blunt, I'd take anything anyone in the US has to say about Iraq with a grain of salt - and a whole case of tequila.

    I'm less in need of excuses for a few margaritas although anything about the war does tend to bring on a craving for some strong medicine.

    But it's interesting that the leading Dems are making these noises - why would they be?

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Hills Hats had the contract for UN berets, evil swine.

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    A possible Democratic President won't be around till Jan 2009. We have an election before then. Might not be Labour having to do decide on whether to u-turn.

    Perhaps it was just me, but I thought I sensed a collective popular yawn about the Air New Zealand issue? The press coverage seemed only to annoy the Australian government. Perhaps Labour's sense of ANZAC spirit is reserved for dead Australian soldiers.

    A party that is 20 points behind in the polls might want to gets it fingers back on the pulse. Maybe I'm just grumpy cos its winter.

    </snark>

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    How many degrees of separation from objectionable activities are needed to make people comfortable?

    Well people are currently up in arms over a commercial airliner taking soldiers of an allied country, to Kuwait, a country which borders another 'friendly' country, which is currently occupied and in civil war mess. I'm not sure if the soldiers were fighting soldiers as compared to logistics, engineers, medical etc, but it's not exactly Air NZ doing HALO drops over Baghdad.

    Compared with Rakon who received a couple of Technology New Zealand grants, and who supply oscillators used in GPS systems, particularly 'smart' bombs. You don't have to look far to see what a mess they have tended to make, and not only of enemy soldiers, but also civilians. That's only two degrees - Rakon to Rockwell Collins, who make the bombs, to the military.

    Or Right Hemisphere, a company that produces software for major aerospace and defense companies world wide. They got an interest free loan of $8 million US from our government in 2006. That's also only two degrees.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    A possible Democratic President won't be around till Jan 2009. We have an election before then. Might not be Labour having to do decide on whether to u-turn

    More to the point, a Rudd led Australian government seems less inclined, as seems likely, to keep Overwatch Battle Group (West) there after mid 2008, doing pretty much nothing at quite some expense.

    They're unlikely to be quite as subservient and submissive to Washington as Howard has deemed necessary in recent years.

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

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Smart bombs have a really high failure rate & when they go wrong they go real wrong.

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    Compared with Rakon ... who supply oscillators used in GPS systems

    Do they make oscillators specifically for smart bomb GPS units, or do they make oscillators for GPS units, some of which are used by the military, some for smart bombs?
    Its the difference between making a weapon and making something that can be used as (or in) a weapon.
    What if some of the millions of pine logs that ship out from Tauranga every year were used to make the stocks of chinese AK47s? would that mean various NZ forestry investors are complicit in the use of those weapons in firing squads executing political prisoners?

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Do they make oscillators specifically for smart bomb GPS units, or do they make oscillators for GPS units, some of which are used by the military, some for smart bombs?
    Its the difference between making a weapon and making something that can be used as (or in) a weapon.

    Yes they do:

    Herald broke the story last year:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&ObjectID=10383752

    Rakon denied that they knew what end users were doing with their units. Herald exposed that as a lie:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&ObjectID=10383768

    There's lots of good questions to be asked about why Rakon is allowed to export some of their products. Herald indicates that they've started to sell a product which is linked to nuclear defence, which is starting to push the NZ Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act to its limit too.

    All I'm saying, if you're going to jump on AirNZ for providing troop transport, then how about asking questions of some of the other companies that the government is actively encouraging to get involved in the military complex boots and all.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    They're unlikely to be quite as subservient and submissive to Washington as Howard has deemed necessary in recent years.

    Maybe some people actually agreed with Bush. The world doesn't have to be all S&M. But I suppose it's a less intellectually demanding approach to take with those one disagrees with - you don't really have a mind of your own.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Maybe some people actually agreed with Bush......you don't really have a mind of your own.

    having watched Australia, without a word of explanation, reversing travel warnings 180 degrees last year when the US issued a contradictory one a couple of days after Australia's, and watched Bush and Howard's Texas meetings, and the body language therein, with some interest I would hazard I perhaps approach their relationship with a little more cynicism than you, it would seem Neil, and recent polling in Australia would tend to suggest overwhelmingly so do many of Mr Howard's countrymen.

    And what exactly was the strategic value for Australia being in Iraq? Self defense? The only possible rationale was to ingratiate themselves with the US, which was exactly the same reason NZ sent a token force however briefly. It's hardly rocket science Neil.

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

  • Che Tibby,

    And what exactly was the strategic value for Australia being in Iraq? Self defense? The only possible rationale was to ingratiate themselves with the US

    they did also have a fairly substantial interest in wheat exports to the country too though... in the immortal words of baron howard harkonnen, "the wheat must flow."

    and, if anyone is numbers-minded, this site shows you how much of a snowball's chance in hell the liberals have of being elected.

    bar an act of god.

    conservative prayers are currently aimed at a shipload of refugees to torment.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    they did also have a fairly substantial interest in wheat exports to the country too though

    ah, but I thought Honest John didn't know anything about that ...

    As Neil infers, he's a man of quite some principle

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

  • Neil Morrison,

    And what exactly was the strategic value for Australia being in Iraq? Self defense? The only possible rationale was to ingratiate themselves with the US, which was exactly the same reason NZ sent a token force however briefly. It's hardly rocket science Neil.

    I was being snippy. But there were a lot of people, even some conservatives, who believed that getting rid of a dictator was the sort of thing democracies should be in the habit of doing. It's an argument in its own right - that may some faults - but it demands a bit more of an effort to counter than the "Bush's poodle" one.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Neil
    Democracy (or any internal political system) is not justification for invading a soverign nation.
    As approx 1/2 the US pop actually vote but even less are counted - Florida anyone - is the USA a democracy? Plutocracy maybe?

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Ahhh...getting rid of a dictator...I don't think that was one of the espoused rationales until a little later.

    Remind me, when does Mugabe get the ADF visit, or for that matter Myanmar, which is a little closer to home for John, but clearly not on his radar

    The there was his stance on Suharto ...the man he once called a ’caring and sensitive’ leader.

    John must be staggering under the weight of all that hypocrisy, no?

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

  • Rob Stowell,

    Competely OT: isn't it weird how Oz seems to zag left just as NZ zigs right? It's early and the "grand dilemma" for National- who, what upstarts or rabble-rousers or marginal has-beens to share power with!- is still unresolved.
    But the Nats here have the4 same sort of lead in the polls that Labour has in Oz, and we seem to have been on opposite oscilations for about 20 years.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

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