Glasgow. A lavish party is being held in one of Europe's most economically deprived cities - not that the New Zealand mainstream media has noticed.

I SHARE THE VIEW of former ACT leader Rodney Hide. I too have zero interest in the Commonwealth Games.

It is an increasingly anachronistic and second  tier  sporting event that barely registers with the rest of the world.

But there are other more important and substantial   reasons I am unenthusiastic about the Commonwealth Games - and which Hide hasn't talked about.

Truckloads  of cash have been  spent on an  eleven day event in a city where nearly 40,000 children live under the poverty line.  Indeed statistics from the Scottish Government last year  revealed 710,000 people north of the border - including 150,000 children - were living in poverty in 2012.

The British Government's austerity measures have furthered deepened the level of deprivation in Scotland , as elsewhere in Britain.  A number of  benefit cuts  were introduced by  David Cameron's government  in 2013. The British  Institute for Fiscal Studies has forecast that,as a direct result of the welfare 'reforms' there will be a further increase in the number of  British households, both in work and out of work, experiencing poverty.

None of this got a mention in a sanitised and plain awful  Commonwealth Games ceremony, where they  instead sang about fictitious lake monsters:  'Nessie! Nessie Nessie! We believe in Nessie!'

The Glasgow Commonwealth  Games have now cost well over half a billion pounds to hold. Over 21 million pounds has  been lavished on the opening and closing ceremonies alone.

The fact that a lavish party is being thrown in one of Britain's most deprived cities has escaped the notice of the mainstream New Zealand media

Once again another sporting event has given a whole load of broadcasters and journalists  the excuse  to have a bit of a holiday in Scotland, in between filing hysterical news stories.

Have you been counting the cliches? How often have you heard : 'It's a golden day for New Zealand!' and  It's gold rush for New Zealand'. And  what about  'There's a golden glow around the New Zealand team!' - that one came from Radio Live's Marcus Lush.

Such is  the media's hysteria over a New Zealander winning a  piece of metal  in the egg and spoon race, it has been judged so important it has been the lead story  on both the TVNZ and TV3 six o'clock news bulletins. Apparently  the fact that Israel  is presently bombing Gaza back to the Stone Age isn't quite as important as a New Zealander winning  a medal. It hasn't  got that essential  'feel good factor', you see.

None of New Zealand's many journalist and broadcasters in Glasgow have seen fit  to take a stroll through the city's economically  deprived  East End, despite the fact it is only a stone's throw from the main Commonwealth Games venue.

It was in the East End  that the Accord Centre, a day centre for  the learning  disabled was bulldozed by the  Labour-controlled Glasgow  City Council to make way for a  car park for buses for the  Games. The Accord Centre had been serving the local community  for over twenty years

East End resident Helen McCourt - and  who a child attending the  centre - told the media: “Over 120 people were put out. Glasgow City Council told us we’d be getting a new building but there has been nothing. They said there was £250,000 for it but now it’s gone—what’s happened to it?”

They probably used it to pay for Rod Stewart.

And  the Dalmarnock area  of Glasgow was effectively destroyed to make way for the athletes’ village and other venues.  Hundreds of homes were demolished. Former residents have been promised new homes and other facilities - a promise that has  not been kept.

The only people smiling have been the corporations and the wealthy  property developers.


 AZIZULHASNI AWANG rode for Gaza at the Commonwealth Games.  The Malaysian cyclist raced in the men's sprint wearing special gloves, with 'Save' over one knuckle and 'Gaza' over the other. Awang's fists featuring the message were held to cameras after the race, which took him through to the quarterfinals on Friday.

But making a stand for the people of Gaza could have consequences.

The Commonwealth Games Federation told The Associated Press it will "contact the Malaysian chef de mission to discuss the incident and take any action."

That action could range from a reprimand to Awang losing his accreditation.




The Labour Party does not want Mike Hosking to chair the live television debates between David Cunliffe and John Key - just because Hosking is a vocal supporter of the National-led government. How unreasonable.

Last year Mike Hosking MCed John Key's 'State of the Nation' speech.

While introducing Key, Hosking  endorsed the Prime Minister and his government:

"I've done my own state of the nation. As I see it, all things considered we are doing pretty bloody well. We box above our weight. We have bright prospects for the future, so long as you keep them in Government.'

Given an endorsement like this and his constant attacks on David Cunliffe, it is hardly surprising that the Labour Party are not happy that TVNZ have decided that it will be Mike Hosking who will chair the live televised debates.

What is also not surprising is that TVNZ are determined to stick with Hosking - after all, they have allowed him to use Seven Sharp  as a vehicle to promote National and attack Labour.

Hosking's protestations that he is accused of being biased from all quarters, implying that he isn't, doesn't hold water when we reflect that John Key has never been the subject of Hosking  'witticisms ' like these: ''Is David Cunliffe incompetent or mad? Is he out to lunch or out of touch?' and 'Is David Cunliffe deluded or living in a parallel universe?

In fact the Labour Party has produced a dossier of Hosking attacks on David Cunliffe and the Labour Party.. They would not of been short of material.


JOHN PILGER  made the film Palestine Is Still The Issue in 2002. It recounts how almost a million Palestinians had been forced off their land in 1948, and again in 1967.

Twenty five years later, John Pilger returns to the West Bank of Jordan and Gaza, and to Israel, to ask why the Palestinians, whose right of return was affirmed by the United Nations more than half a century ago, are still caught in a terrible limbo - refugees in their own land, controlled by Israel in the longest military occupation in modern times.

"If we are to speak of the great injustice here, nothing has changed," says Pilger at the start of the film, "What has changed is that the Palestinians have fought back. Stateless and humiliated for so long, they have risen up against Israel's huge military regime, although they themselves have no army, no tanks, no American planes and gunships or missiles. Some have committed desperate acts of terror, like suicide bombing. But, for Palestinians, the overriding, routine terror, day after day, has been the ruthless control of almost every aspect of their lives, as if they live in an open prison. This film is about the Palestinians and a group of courageous Israelis united in the oldest human struggle, to be free."


It was a Cameron Slater love-fest on TVNZ's Seven Sharp last night.

JUST RECENTLY  Cameron Slater, the man behind the Whaleoil blog, launched a savage and nasty attack on Tania Billingsley. She is , of course, the young woman who has alleged that she was the victim of a sexual assault by a Malaysian diplomat. Thanks largely to the incompetence  and ineptitude of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully, he managed to flee back to Malaysia.

Billingsley showed remarkable courage and determination  not only  by  going to the media but also by  aiming some well-honed criticisms at the Government for its spectacular  failure to act. 

This though earned her the ire of Cameron Slater. In what will no doubt rank has one of the most vile blog posts this year, Slater accused  Billingsley of being a political pawn in a  Green Party plot to embarrass the Government. Slater basically said  that she had 'cried rape'.

Slater's allegation  though was nothing more than a mixture of lies, smear, innuendo and disinformation. In other words, his usual stock in trade.

But this was not the first time that Slater's 'journalism' has indulged  in lies and sleaze -  which has included breaking  several name suppression orders  and which he has been convicted.

Slater  has in the past also  sold his  journalistic  services. He has acknowledged that he has demanded payment from companies and individuals when he wrote posts that were unfavourable to their opponents and favourable to them.

Despite all this Slater was astoundingly  named 'Blogger of the Year' at the recent Canon Media Awards. The judge was Deborah Hill-Cone and not known for her liberal sympathies.

Slater's award was not met with universal appreciation  and he was the subject of heckling at the award ceremony itself.

Another journalist though who appreciates the 'finer things' about Cameron Slater is Seven Sharp's  Heather du Plessis-Allan.

Last night she 'treated' us to a profile of Slater that could of been  scripted by a public relations  firm.

Slater's behaviour and  his role as an attack dog for the National Party were casually swept under the carpet with a clearly Slater-besotted  du Plessis Allan anxious to tell us that her man  had turned from his  evil ways,  was really 'a good guy' and hey, he had  a sense of humour  as well. I'm sure the family of a young man killed  in a car crash appreciated  Slater's 'humour'. He  described  the unfortunate  young man as 'feral'.

Du Plessis-Allan uncritically  swallowed Slater's  claim that he is now a 'Christian', This apparently absolves  him of everything. He is a changed man! Such puerile  nonsense. If anything Slater's supposed 'conversion' only  will only serve to confirm his intolerance, bigotry and ignorance. This is often the case with converts  to organised religion.

As no less than the Dalai Lama has said: “Religious belief is not a precondition either of ethical conduct or of happiness.”

But someone else who is impressed  by Cameron Slater is another National party cheerleader, Mike Hosking.  At the end of last night's  Seven Sharp he informed  us that Slater often quoted from his NewstalkZB opinion pieces. Hosking thinks that  the fact that he and Slater agree on so many things is something to be proud of  - like, for instance,  their hatred of the Labour Party and  why selling comment for cash is a good thing.


Having promoted David Cunliffe as Labour's left wing saviour, Chris Trotter has now rejected him as well.

ONE AFTERNOON  last week I tuned into talkback station Radio Live and stumbled, by chance, into a discussion between commentator Chris Trotter, ex-ACT leader Rodney Hide and host Ali Mau.

The discussion was about David Cunliffe and the Labour Party.

While I, like many others, have become accustomed to Trotter's political gymnastics, it was still a remarkable performance by 'New Zealand's leading left wing commentator' (Paul Henry).

Trotter and Hide just about agreed on everything about David Cunliffe and none of it was complimentary.

Indeed Trotter could be heard agreeing with Hide - or was it the other way round? - that Cunliffe wasn't the genuine article. What does he stand for? asked Trotter. Who is the real David Cunliffe?

The consensus between Trotter and Hide was that the leader of the Labour Party was, well, a bit 'fake'.

This led to Trotter comparing Cunliffe to failed US presidential candidates John Kerry and Michael Dukakis.

How times change. It wasn't so long ago that Trotter was hailing  his man David Cunliffe as Labour's left wing saviour. You can find his blog full of complimentary posts about Dave. He seemed to know who David Cunliffe was then and liked what he saw.

But David  Cunliffe is going the  same way as David Shearer - who Trotter also initially backed and defended only to dump on him just two months after his appointment as Labour leader.

I wrote a post asking how long Trotter would remain loyal to Cunliffe. Not long, seems to be the answer.

But it gets worse. Having constantly argued for a vote for Labour this election,  Trotter could be heard speculating that Labour could fragment if it was heavily defeated in the September election. 'I fear for Labour' said Trotter. I'm sure Rodney  Hide was loving every minute of it.

Talk about putting the boot in when the opinion polls are down.

Ali Mau then asked whether Labour and National could ever go into coalition  to form  a government. If he was being consistent Trotter would have dismissed the idea  out of hand but Trotter's politics are anything but consistent. He agreed that it was  a possibility and said that he  had written about the subject on his blog.

Trotter basically  told Mau that there ain't whole lot of difference between Labour and National these days.

Readers might like to reflect that this is the position that I have been arguing for years - and it is one that Trotter has dismissed every time.  Indeed this  blog  contains many comments from Trotter criticising my views on the Labour Party.

I don't pretend to have any special insight about Labour  because Trotter has also taken to task other people who have had the temerity to say that the Labour Party is politically bankrupt.

Chris Trotter is all over the  mainstream media these days. He writes a copious amount on his own blog as well as on The Daily Blog and he pops up on various radio and television shows. Last week he was not only on  Radio Live but also on 'The Panel' on National Radio. He might have popped up elsewhere as well. He's the 'go to' guy when the corporate media want some 'left wing comment' that doesn't frighten  the horses.

It seems to me though that as Trotter's politics have become increasingly 'flexible' and more conservative, he has become increasingly favoured by a conservative mainstream media.

Trotter thinks he is a playing a positive role in the media but I've also noticed that he often feels obliged to describe himself as 'left wing'  - as if he thinks people might not notice.

But come September you just know Trotter wiIl be calling for a vote for Labour - because having rejected socialist politics he has nowhere else to go. He might not like David Cunliffe but he is stuck with him, in some macabre embrace to the death.


'From Israel With Love'. Israeli children sign missles destined to kill Palestinians in Gaza.


The Israeli regime continues its relentless bombing campaign  in Gaza while the international community stands idly by.

THE CORPORATE MEDIA, as it  is want to do, is portraying Israel's current military assault on the Palestinian people as a 'conflict' between two intransigent opponents. In one corner we have the Israeli regime and in the opposite corner, Hamas. But in this so-called  'conflict' Israel is armed with a big cannon while Hamas has a peashooter

Of course it is only a 'conflict' if you uncritically swallow the propaganda of the Israeli regime. It wants the world to believe that it is only defending its people against the rockets of the 'terrorist organisation' Hamas. That these tiny rockets have inflicted minimal damage on Israel is deemed entirely irrelevant.

But this is the 'impartial' view you are being given every night on the six o'clock news.

It is one that has been strongly objected  to in the UK. In a open letter to the BBC, over 40,000 people have called on the broadcaster to reflect the reality of Gaza's occupation.The letter. which includes the signatures of  John Pilger, Noam Chomsky and Ken Loach,  reminds the BBC that Israel is bombing a refugee population which is being held under occupation and siege.

How can this be in any way be described as a 'conflict' in which both sides are to blame?

It is indictment on the BBC and the mainstream media generally that it  still has to be reminded that the Palestinian people have no army, navy or air force with which to defend itself against one of the strongest military powers in the world. A military power that also  possesses nuclear weapons.

That the media routinely  describe Hamas as a 'terrorist organisation' is a victory for the Israeli regime.    What is ignored is that Hamas is the political party that was democratically elected in 2006 to govern the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

But, by  arbitrary defining Hamas as a 'terrorist organisation' Israel has given itself  the right to wage a brutal military campaign  against all the people of Gaza. No one is safe from the Israeli war machine. The United Nations says that 77 percent of the Palestinians killed in Gaza have been civilians, including children.

But, appallingly, Israel says it can't be held responsible for these deaths and blames Hamas  militants for using the civilian population to hide behind as 'human shields'.

Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s so-called defence minister revealed his government's true intention when he  told the Israeli media : “We are destroying  arms, terror infrastructures, command systems, Hamas institutions, regime buildings, terrorists’ houses, and killing terrorists of various ranks of command.”

The bombing of  family homes of suspected militants has resulted in entire families  being killed.

What we are witnessing on our television screens are war crimes being committed by a brutal Israeli regime that is funded and supported  by the United States government. That it is acting with impunity while the international community, once again, stands idly by is reprehensible.


The barbarians  gathered on the border, wrecking balls at the ready. Led by their leader Gerry 'Scorched Earth Policy' Brownlee, the hordes of CERA swept mercilessly through the city, laying waste to all that lay before them. Chief Warwick Issacs of the elite  Christchurch Central  Development Unit, ruthlessly  carried out the orders  of his leader. This became known  as the Carnage of Warwick.

AS OF February this year 43 percent of Christchurch's historic  buildings  listed with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust had been pulled down. A total 243 buildings had been wiped  off the face of the earth. That figure has climbed since then.

The latest building to be destroyed has been the CPIT War Memorial Hall. It was  knocked down last week. Labour Party Ilam candidate James Dann has observed:

This building was of no immediate risk. It had been there since the quakes, not causing any harm. There was no need for the Section 38 powers to be invoked to demolish it. It is well beyond the time for these powers to be used.  That the demolition was done overnight shows that the people responsible knew that this was something to be ashamed, hence doing their dirty work under the cover of darkness. It’s a disgrace.

What's also  a disgrace are the buildings that are going up to replace them. They are ugly and characterless boxes of concrete and steel, monuments to the bottom line of the property developers and that disregard the needs and aspirations of the city and its people.

Adding insult to injury, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA)  thinks we should actually be proud of these architectural  atrocities. The cover of the  latest issue of its  Greater Christchurch Recovery Update features a photo montage of some of these crappy new buildings. According to CERA chief Roger Sutton  'This is our city today - positively progressing  with commercial rebuilds, big and small'.

A more honest and accurate assessment comes from someone who actually knows what he's talking about.

University of Auckland Professor of Fine Arts Jonathan Mane-Wheoki has slammed the indiscriminate destruction of Christchurch's historical heritage.

He has told The Press that with so much of Christchurch's architectural heritage having been demolished, there's a bland uniformity to the buildings  that are replacing Christchurch's former diverse architectural landscape.

Mane-Wheoki told the newspaper: ''What is happening now is that a whole lot of glass, concrete and steel boxes are being built that will be gleaming new for about 5-10 years but will stat to look shabby at the same time. 

He rightly concludes that Christchurch will 'have the largest collection of glass and concrete boxes in the world'

This is what Roger Sutton and CERA are describing as 'positive progress'.



The Labour Party  should be congratulated for being consistent. It is staying true to the principles of 'True Labour'.

THE LABOUR PARTY deserves credit for  keeping its promises and being consistent. Time and time again it has said it has no intention of upsetting the neoliberal applecart and  that the market has nothing to fear from its policies.

David Cunliffe and his team have certainly stayed true to this commitment. Cunliffe has ensured that his party has followed his exemplary example and boldly stated that socialism is not a word it uses. This  is indeed the face of  True Labour'.

Being 'True Labour' means outlining a sensible plan for managing  the economy that is business friendly and that's what Labour has done.  While business had  a few grumbles with Labour's plan to raise the  top tax bracket to  36% on those earning over $150,000, the business suits are delighted  that this  represents a retreat  from Labour's  2011 position when it said it would raise it to a whopping 39 percent.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive, Phil O’Reilly has congratulated Labour on its steadfast commitment to continue with austerity policies. He likes the cut of Labour's jib.

And business interests with an eye to the main chance will appreciate  Labour's outstanding plan to  introduce  more users pays into education with already financially hard-pressed  families having to pay for most of  the kids'  computer laptop or tablet.

And good on finance spokesperson David Parker for  staying true to  the principles of 'True Labour'  Labour isn't interested in transforming the economy for the betterment of ordinary people. Not for it silly  utopian ideas about fundamental structural change and  a vision of a society organised on completely different principles from those which govern capitalism. That certainly isn't the 'True Labour' of 2014.

Finance spokesperson  David Parker doesn't want to run an economy that is organised on behalf of the people. Taking a leaf out of the  notebook of British Prime Minister David Cameron,  he wants to 'grow'  the free market economy and he says that  he will be better at it  than his counterpart, Bill English. Well done Mr Parker, with your whiteboard and marker pen always ready for action. You make accountancy fun!

And that's what Mike Smith thinks as well.

According to Mike, Parker has  'egalitarian  passion'! That's why he wants to raise the retirement age and make the working poor  toil for even longer!

You remember Mike Smith, don't you? As a  former general secretary of the Labour Party  he loyally  supported the neoliberal policies of the Helen Clark government.

I'm sure that Internet Mana is excited about the prospect of being a part of a True Labour' - led government, even if Dave Cunliffe won't let them into the cabinet room. Clearly  those of us who think Internet Mana are on the road to nowhere are gravely mistaken.


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