Showing posts from August, 2013

NZ support for chemical weapons

New Zealand has a long history of supporting chemical weapons in the Middle East through the Super Fund's investments in manufacturers of depleted uranium munitions.

The use of depleted uranium weaponry in the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004 has resulted in birth abnormalities at a rate worse than post-1945 Hiroshima. The poisonous legacy is clearly explained by Al-Jazeera journalist Dahr Jamail in this interview with Amy Goodman from Democracy Now.
And going on to Fallujah, because I wrote about this a year ago, and then I returned to the city again this trip, we are seeing an absolute crisis of congenital malformations of newborn. There is one doctor, a pediatrician named Dr. Samira Alani, working on this crisis in the city. She’s the only person there registering cases. And she’s seeing horrific birth defects. I mean, these are extremely hard to look at. They’re extremely hard to bear witness to. But it’s something that we all need to pay attention to, because of the amount of …

PHOTOS: Auckland's Fairness at Work rally

All photos by Simon Oosterman. 



All that glitters...

With David Shearer's departure Labour's game of thrones is in full swing as David Cunliffe and Grant Robertson go head to head for the top job in New Zealand social democracy.

Very quickly Cunliffe has emerged as the great new hope of the New Zealand left with everyone from John Minto and Martyn Bradbury to Chris Trotter and Gordon Campbell rushing to offer their endorsements. Both of the core centre-left blogs, The Standard and The Daily Blog have turned into permanent propaganda outlets for Cunliffes' campaign squad as he attempts to win over the party's rank and file and union affiliates over the next three weeks of the leadership selection.

One particularly babbling piece published on The Daily Blog endorsed Cunliffe on the grounds that he had bought the author a glass of wine at some inner-city wine den. Well it's lovely to see that the sweat covered fast-food workers, milk stained dairy workers and greased-up rail workers who finance The Daily Blog are getti…

Hone and Winston own Simon Bridges

Last week Hone Harawira owned Simon Bridges in Parliament. Like the boss he is, Harawira wiped Bridges off the floor and Winston came through to give little Simon a good kicking while he was down. Transcript below.

HONE HARAWIRA (Leader—Mana) to the Prime Minister: Will he, now that the bill has had its third reading, give us the names of the 88 New Zealanders that the GCSB reportedly spied on illegally; if not, why not? Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON (Attorney-General) on behalf of the Prime Minister: I need to begin by saying that among the misinformation surrounding the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) legislation was a claim that 88 people were found to have been illegally spied on. That is not the case. The Kitteridge review found difficulties of interpretation in the law, and the issue was forwarded to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. The inspector-general found that there were arguably no breaches, but said that the law should be clarified. That has …

EYEWITNESS - A New Zealander in Gezi Park

Stephen Woodward is an Auckland based sculptor who in June found himself on the front line of the rebellion in Gezi Park, Istanbul. This is Stephen's report alongside his photography.

Montreal, where mass protests against a rise in tuition fees, government corruption and skewed mining deals made world news last year, is now calm, or, maybe only just simmering. I was in Montreal for family matters when yet another government’s violent response to a just and peaceful protest hit the news. This time it was in Istanbul, Turkey.

The socialist municipality of Cankaya (Ankara) had invited six artists, including myself, to take part in a sculpture symposium for two weeks in the second half of June 2013. Weeks earlier my plan had been to arrive in Istanbul a few days ahead of the symposium in Ankara to visit buildings I had studied decades ago at art school; Hajia Sophia, Suleymaniye Mosque and the Blue Mosque. Once in Istanbul I saw only the exteriors of these masterpieces of Byzantine, s…

How to buy a house in New Zealand

So you live in New Zealand - a country that unlike many places such as Europe has a home ownership obsession that is cultural and all encompassing in its breadth, and perceived positive nature. You have finished your three years of Tertiary education and now you’re about thirty grand in debt, give or take a few more thousand depending on your programme. You’re one of the ‘lucky’ ones that has a job, but you did not study finance so you were unable to wrangle your way into the economically rewarding but socially destructive finance industry, and you don’t have rich parents who can afford to pay for your education and to set you up with a good loan to help fund your prospects of owning your own place.

You have been told from day one that property is your simplest and easiest investment, and that if you buy a house you are sitting on what is essentially a retirement fund in waiting. However, now new rules have been instituted so that you must have 20% of your deposit ready so that…

#GCSB Town Hall meeting playlist

The songs playing before the Auckland Town Hall public meeting against the GCSB.

Letter from the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt

We publish here the latest letter from the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt to their supporters explaining the situation in Egypt as it stands. Terrible massacres and violent repression, a huge escalation in attacks on Egyptian Christians and churches, the consolidation of the repressive military state continues apace. These are the momentous political developments we have experienced during the last few weeks. They pose enormous challenges to the revolution, but they also contain opportunities to prepare for the coming waves of the revolution, which the Revolutionary Socialists can use effectively to build the movement, provided that we develop tactics capable of dealing with changing circumstances. In order to build and develop our political tactics, the Political Bureau of the Revolutionary Socialists Movement presents this document to comrades in order to build a position for the movement around which we can unite, through a process of deep, collective and comradely discussion,and s…

Time to abandon the 'Tall Poppy' notion

In this essay, Bevan M. demolishes the notion of 'Tall Poppy Syndrome', looks at the NZ Rich List and Most Trusted List and calls for a rethinking of the 'New Zealand identity'. Bevan argues that New Zealand does not have a 'Tall Poppy Syndrome', we just have all our priorities wrong.

It’s one of those painful clich├ęs that we have all heard in High School, the news media, the tongues of politicians, and even from characters down at the pub. New Zealanders like to cut down ‘Tall Poppies’ and we have a severe case of ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’. The idea is that we are some sort of faulted egalitarian society where as soon as someone stands out from the crowd, we do our best to savage them and bring them back down to our level. When we seek assistance from those who rise above us financially or socially, we don’t see it as asking them to contribute to the society that made their success possible by asking them to do the job that they alone are lucky enough to have t…

PRISM collects, GCSB looks

To gain a full understanding of what the GCSB Bill will legalise requires a close watching of the Campbell Live interview with John Key a few times.

Hidden within the nuances of the conversation is the core of the whole debate. Where is the electronic information the Government Communications Security Bureau collects on New Zealanders coming from?

Key's assertion, that the GCSB will require a warrant to access the electronic data (from Google, Facebook and so on) of those it wishes to surveille, is probably factually true.

What seems clear, from Key's refusals of discussion and the Snowden National Security Agency (NSA) leaks is that this information is collected by the NSA and its Five Eye partners via two programs - PRISM and XKeyscore.

Indeed the central proposition of the whole GCSB versus privacy conflict hinges on the veiled point Key makes right at the end of the interview, "It doesn't matter whether I got here in a bus, I came here in a taxi or I came here in…

Be there


The Anglers' Revolt

While most of the urban left have recently focused on mobilising opposition to the GCSB Bill an unlikely bunch of fishing folk are days away from scoring a resounding victory over the National Government.

This rebellion has sprung from the grassroots but has been focused by the community organisations of the angler community - the New Zealand Sports Fishing Council and its LegaSea action group. The various publications of the fishing community have played an important role as well, agitating in the angler community and helping organise publicity for the campaign.
The Ministry for Primary Industries had proposed cuts from nine to three to the snapper catch of the east coast of the North Island from Northland to the Bay of Plenty.
The reaction from recreational fishers has been clear. As Paul Barnes said on Deaker on Sport, "I think it's an outrage, it's a Ministry out of control trying to drive a privatisation agenda. It is trying to lock the recreational sector into a ve…

David Rovics playing Auckland

Facebook event here.

Fill the Town Hall


For a world without spying

This is a copy of the speech given by Julia Espinoza to the rally against the GCSB Bill opposite Aotea Square on 29 July.
Kia ora, my name is Julia and I must start with expressing my gratitude and privilege at being able to share with you, some of my story, experiences and thoughts on the illegal spying and the GCSB bill before parliament.

I was born and raised in Aotearoa and I am the daughter of two political refugees which had to flee the political unrest in Chile.

Unfortunately, I too know, first hand, what it is like to be illegally spied upon.

My father was a political activist in Chile, fighting for democracy during Pinochet’s CIA and Chicago Boys-led military coup, where more than 3000 people were killed, 80,000 imprisoned and 30,000 tortured.

I will always remember that growing up, my family were under constant surveillance from the SIS. Our phones tapped, our house watched, direct threats were made against any political involvement here in NZ and endless harassment no…