SOCIALISM FOR THE RICH

A full audit of the US Federal Reserve has revealed that it provided a staggering $16 trillion in loans to bail out American and foreign banks and corporates during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. One of the biggest benefactors of the bailout was Wall Street - the same Wall Street that is now calling for cuts to social spending.


As the United States heads towards a possible debt default on August 2, its gone largely unnoticed in the corporate media that the first comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve has uncovered monstrous new details about how the Federal Reserve provided a whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

The report was released just over a week ago.

The biggest benefactor of the massive bailout was , no prizes for guessing, Wall Street.

The investigation revealed that the Federal Reserve contracted out nearly all of its emergency lending programs to the denizens of Wall Street including JP Morgan Chase , Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo. Morgan Stanley was given the largest no-bid contract worth $108.4 million to help manage the Federal Reserve bailout of AIG.

If this wasn't enough, these very same firms received trillions of dollars in Federal Reserve loans at near-zero interest rates. Meanwhile, all across the America, ordinary folk were losing their jobs and their homes - and still are.

Stunningly,the Federal Reserve provided conflict of interest waivers to employees and private contractors so they could keep investments in the same financial institutions and corporations that were given emergency loans!

For example, the CEO of JP Morgan, Jamie Dimon, sat on the Federal Reserve's board of directors at the same time that his bank received more than $390 billion in financial assistance from the Federal Reserve Bank. If that wasn't enough, JP Morgan served as one of the clearing banks for the Fed's emergency lending programs!

None of this has provoked any outrage from the corporate media, seemingly transfixed by the machinations going on in Congress.

Jamie Dimon, whooping it up in big vat of Federal Reserve cash, is now urging White House and Congress to make a debt deal, which would see social service and welfare budgets slashed.

Dimon said this week that a debt default would ''dramatically worsen our nation's already difficult economic circumstances'.

Of course it was Jamie Dimon and Wall Street that created these 'difficult economic circumstances' in the first place

Sen. Bernie Sanders, who headed the audit. said in a statement that 'This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else.'

BOGUS FINANCE COMPANIES INFILTRATE NZ

Bogus Panamanian finance companies have infiltrated New Zealand. Not only are they listed with the Companies Office they have been allowed to become registered 'Financial Service providers' despite the fact they are nothing more than front companies with no staff. Why hasn't the Ministry of Economic Development done anything about it?

I was checking through a few websites yesterday and, as I sometimes do, I took a look at the Tax Justice blog. The Tax Justice Network are a international coalition of researchers and activists who focus on exposing the world's rich elite and their various schemes to avoid paying tax by trying to hide their millions in tax havens, shelf companies and so on.

A new post on the blog mentions a finance company called Trillion Private Wealth Management Ltd, which supposedly operates out of 9/22 Curran Street, Herne Bay, Auckland.

A look on Google Maps will reveal that 9/22 Curran street is not an office building but a townhouse in one of the more prosperous areas of Auckland.

Trillion has its own website. The site declares:

The idea of setting up and managing an offshore account used to be something only the super-rich dreamed about. These days, however, that scenario is gradually changing, and more and more people are reaping the benefits of protecting and building their assets overseas. Now, even the moderately wealthy can benefit from moving portions of income and savings to secure offshore investments.

The website goes on to say:

Trillion Private Wealth is your "one stop shop" for, multi-currency corporate accounts. We can assist you to incorporate an International Business Corporation in the Marshall Islands so that your new company can open the international account.


Tax Justice suggests that a phrase like 'protecting and building..assets overseas' is often code for hiding money from the tax and legal authorities.

Tax Justice then refers us to the excellent Naked Capitalism blog.

Naked Capitalism has been doing some rummaging around in the New Zealand Companies Register and discovered New Zealand International Savings & Loan Limited.

It was registered on 1 October 2010 and its company address is also 9/22 Curran Street, Herne Bay, Auckland.

The company was formerly NZ General Administration Ltd. Its director at the time was one Warwick Wood.

Another director jumped on board in October 2010. This was Rodrigo Edgardo Alvarado. He lives in Panama City, Panama.

Also in October another director joined NZ International Savings & Loans Ltd. This was Rod Alvar - who replaced Warwick Todd.

Rod Alvar and Roderigo Elgardo Alvarado, says Naked Capitalism, are more than likely the same person.

Roderigo Elgardo Alvarado is also the sole director of the Worldwide Forstock Financial Group Ltd, which also lists its company address as 9/22 Curran Street, Herne Bay, Auckland.

Writes Naked Capitalism:

So we have a profoundly dodgy company, New Zealand International Savings& Loan Limited and a profoundly dodgy made-up individual, Rod Alvar, and what look like offences under the 1993 Companies Act. Surely a company couldn’t possibly make it onto the register of Financial Service Providers, could it?


But it has.

Financial Service Providers Register (FSPR) is supposed to be part of ' the government’s financial sector regime that aims to provide greater accountability and transparency'.

New Zealand International Savings and Loans Ltd has its own website and it declares itself to be a 'registered Financial Service Provider in New Zealand'. But it appears, like all the other companies listed for 9/22 Curran Street, to be little more than a front company with no staff.

It claims to be registered to something called the 'Ministry of Economy and Finance of New Zealand', which doesn't actually exist. Financial Service Providers are regulated by the NZ Ministry of Economic Development through the Companies Office.

In the case of the Panamaian front companies operating out of 9/22 Curran Street, it looks like the Ministry of Economic Development has been asleep at the wheel. They have allowed these dubious companies to register and remain on the Companies Register and permitted them to inflate their credibility by becoming registered Financial Service providers.

And they have been allowed to break the law in the process!

The Ministry of Economic Development didn't even spot that these (illegal) 'New Zealand' companies have one director who lives in Panama!

Panama is home to one of the largest concentration of banks in the Americas, making the country a global centre for money laundering. The fact that Panamanian front companies have infiltrated New Zealand, and without much effort, doesn't seem to have raised any alarm bells in government circles.

KEOWN TELLS HIS CRITICS TO 'F**K OFF'

Christchurch ain't big enough for both of us! Councillor Aaron Keown tells his 'negative' critics to pack their bags and leave town and leave him to deal with all the big issues...








I've been diverted from blogging by other pressing matters. including a huge dump of snow yesterday, but I must comment on the 'erratic' behaviour of Christchurch councillor Aaron Keown. Unfortunately he is one of my ward councillors although I haven't yet had the 'pleasure' of meeting him.

Last week it was reported that high profile Wellington lawyer Mai Chen attended a closed-door council meeting last month. She advised that Keown should withdraw from any involvement in appointing the Christchurch City Council's Chief Executive.

Keown, like Sideshow Bob, has fatally compromised his position because he has publicly come out in support of the present CEO Tony Marryatt. 'Tony' wants to keep his $450,000+ annual salary and his cosy morning coffee meetings with Sideshow Bob and Mrs Sideshow Bob.

Unlike Bob however, Keown has not withdrawn from the appointment process.

Now it looks like that some local business people are going to apply to the High Court for an injunction to stop him taking any further part in the process.

The sensible thing for Keown to do is recognise that his position is untenable and simply remove himself from the appointment process. But the former Act Party candidate has decided that he would rather hang around and rant insanely instead.

He claims that he has spoken to community organisations and chief executives about the process who, he says, 'are embarrassed and dumbfounded that anyone from outside the council is trying to meddle in the process. '

So far however, no one has popped to say that there they are, in fact 'embarrassed and dumbfounded' about the whole affair which kind of suggests that Keown has been talking to himself.

But it gets worse. Keown wants his critics to 'fuck off' and leave Christchurch! He told The Press:

'The best thing they could do for the city, rather than pretend they are worried about the process, would be to pack their bags and, I can't use the word, .... off, and leave the city.

"Our city doesn't need negative naysayers trying to disrupt the process."

Readers will recall that this is the same Aaron Keown who attacked earthquake victims in the eastern suburbs for 'whining for not being helped'.

Keown's bizarre outburst might be explained by the fact that he has other matters on his mind. While Christchurch grapples with the devastating consequences of a series of quakes. our hero has been grappling with crucial issues like...prostitutes, movies and library rental fees.

At a recent council meeting he proposed the cancellation of fees for commercial filming in the city and the doubling of CD and DVD rental fees at city libraries!

To top it all off, he tried to introduce a licence fee for local prostitutes!

'They should pay; they're hawking a product.' he declared.

Not surprisingly, no other councillor thought it was appropriate for the Christchurch City Council to become a glorified pimp.

DIRTY LAUNDRY



Once against demonstrating that there is no level they won't stoop to defend the Murdoch Empire, his minions are now trying to use the Horn of Africa famine to deflect attention from the dirty deeds of the Murdoch family , Brooks, etc.

The Sun has conveniently found a United Nations official who has allegedly accused 'MPs and the media of ignoring African famine victims because of their phone-hacking obsession'.

The Sun has also run the results of one of its dubious polls that claims 'sixty percent of those surveyed think that 'hacking is getting too much coverage'.

Here's Billy Bragg singing 'Never Buy The Sun'...

DUNCAN SMITH BRINGS HIS POISON TO NZ

Not content with inflicting it on us, Iain Duncan Smith is pushing the “wonders” of workfare in New Zealand.

Workfare is having to work for nothing to qualify for benefits. That means slavery to those forced onto it. They’ll be replacing paid workers, including sacked trades union members - Boycott Workfare, London


It's great to see three British welfare groups come out in solidarity with the Auckland Action Against Poverty's picket of Conservative minister Iain Duncan Smith tomorrow.

Duncan Smith is speaking to the right wing think tank, the Maxim Institute. The Maxim Institute has links with Duncan Smith's own think tank, the so-called 'Centre for Social Justice'.

The three British groups are Boycott Workfare, the London Coalition Against Poverty and Welfare Uncut.

Boycott Workfare
, is planning a phone blockade of Iain Duncan Smith's right wing think tank, timed to coincide as closely as possible with the Auckland action

AAAP spokesperson Sue Bradford says 'We believe that Mr Smith is right at the front line of inflicting some of the most horrendous policies on unemployed people, beneficiaries and people with disabilities in the UK.'

'We are protesting outside the Maxim dinner on Friday night because we seek to stand in solidarity with beneficiaries in the UK, and because we want to highlight the extent to which the recommendations of the Government's Rebstock report are based on UK welfare reforms.'

'Direct actions are a part of political discourse, and given the nature of Government onslaughts against beneficiaries and unemployed people in both New Zealand and the UK, we need to do more than simply listen politely to what conservative 'experts' brought in from overseas have to tell us.'

The picket will take place this Friday 22 July from 5.30pm onwards, outside the Heritage Hotel, 35 Hobson St, Auckland.

THE RATS FLEE MURDOCH'S SINKING SHIP

Something smells at the heart of the British establishment. It's the stench of corruption.

The assembly-line phone hacking that occurred at the defunct News of the World has sparked a tsunami that has swept through the British establishment, taking with it careers and reputations and revealing an ugly landscape of political cronyism, nepotism, incompetence, ethical bankruptcy and cash payments for 'services rendered'. Hanging over all this is the suspicion that an unholy alliance of politicians, police and journalists have tried to cover up their dirty deeds. A lot of people appear to have a lot to hide.

And now a former News of the World journalist, who blew the whistle on the extent of phone hacking, has been found dead in his home. Sean Hoare, 47, who accused his former editor, Andy Coulson, of complicity in the illegal activity, was discovered at his home days after he made a series of fresh allegations against executives under whom he worked.

Andy Coulson was employed by David Cameron as his Downing Street media strategist after Coluson resigned from his job at the News of the World.

The water is beginning to lap at the door of 10 Downing Street. Like all recent British Prime Minister's before him, David Cameron has courted the support and patronage of the Murdoch Empire.

This has included, among other things, inviting Rupert's favourite lieutenant, Rebekah Brooks, around for Christmas dinner and inviting her to his fortieth birthday party.

Cameron was criticised for having dinner with Rebekah Brooks while his government was considering Murdoch’s bid for BSkyB.

Cameron, up to a few days ago, was still describing the former News International CEO as 'a friend'. I doubt he'll describe her as that again - not in public anyway.

It's not surprising how the members of the British ruling class and its allies are all running for cover. While the socialist left has been consistently and rightly anti-Murdoch, the British establishment have, apparently, just discovered that Rupert is not a very pleasant character.

Poor old Rupert. Just a few weeks ago, all the politicians wanted his favour and attention. Now he's about as popular as someone who just farted in a crowded elevator. Actually, he's probably less popular.

Just before the Milly Downer scandal erupted, Rupert's daughter Elizabeth and her PR tycoon husband threw a party a their 22-bedroom Cotswolds mansion. Incidentally, it is only a few miles from Cameron's country home.

Among the guests were Education Secretary Michael Gove and Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, as well as former Labour Cabinet Ministers Peter Mandelson, David Miliband (Ed's brother) , James Purnell and Douglas Alexander.

And, of course, also at the party were James Murdoch, the deputy chief operating officer of News Corp and the ubiquitous Rebekah Brooks.

The media were also represented.

The BBC's director-general Mark Thompson, corporation executive Alan Yentob and Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson were drinking champagne and generally living it up. CNN host and Mail on Sunday columnist Piers Morgan also made an appearance.

You would of thought that they would of all gone into bat for Rupert but not a word of defence has been heard. When the chips are down the natural inclination of the British establishment is to look after number one and flee. But only after guzzling all the champagne and scoffing the caviar.

Only Jeremy Clarkson seems to have come to the defence of the crumbling Murdoch Empire.

Shortly after Rebekah Brooks resigned he wrote in his Sun column:

'Rebekah is one of my closest friends and I'm sorry but I cannot accept that she sanctioned the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone, knowing that it would cause the girl's poor parents to believe their beloved daughter was still alive… I'd sooner believe that my mother spends her evenings working as a rent boy.'

Now Ms Brooks has been arrested, Clarkson may be reconsidering his position. He is now the subject of a lot of internet flak about being a Murdoch 'yes man'.

For those of us on the socialist left who have, year in and year out, watched Murdoch bash the working class and its interests - these are days of vindication.

We have always been right about Rupert Murdoch.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE

The power industry should be re-nationalised.

A few weeks ago, while I was dozing on the couch, I chanced to see John Campbell explaining on Campbell Live how New Zealanders could save on their astronomical power bills simply by 'shopping around' for the best deal. To that end, he emphasised the importance of going to an online energy price comparison site to calculate what electricity company was offering the best deal for our own personal circumstances. Who knew cheaper power was just a website away?

I didn't take much notice of this item at the time but this week a local Christchurch talkback host, Newstalk ZB's Mike Yardley, was also banging on about shopping around for the best deal. He too suggested going to a on line site 'to see how much money we could save'.

Not coincidentally, the Electricity Authority have been running a campaign called 'What's My Number' to encourage people to check they aren't paying 'too much' for their power.

According to the Electricity Authority: 'New Zealanders now have the freedom to choose their electricity or gas provider. However, with a range of different electricity rates and gas rates available, making an informed choice is not easy.'

According to the 'What's My Number' website the average annual household saving by switching power companies is $150.

Shortly after the 'What's My Number' campaign was launched in late May Hon Hekia Parata, the Acting Minister of Energy and Resources, commented in a press release:

'Many Kiwi families are concerned about managing their cost of living - power switching to get the best deal for their electricity will help them manage a core component of their everyday costs.'

She went on to say:

'The Government is committed to improving choice for households and helping them put pressure on electricity retailers to give the best value for money.'

For Perata to babble on about 'improving choice' for New Zealanders when it comes to power prices is completely misleading given that prices are uniformly high. There is no choice but to pay through the nose for power.

To suggest that by 'shopping around' for the 'best' power prices it will somehow increase the pressure on the power companies 'to give best value for money' is basically abandoning consumers to navigate the mercenary waters of 'the market' in order to claw a few cents back from the rapacious power companies.

Does Ms Perata expect our elderly to do that, for example?

I've lost count of the number stories I've read about ordinary folk struggling with obscenely high power bills. Just this week my local Grey Power were reported in the local media that they were worried about the increasing number of elderly people, despite the fact that they we are now in the depths of winter, who were too scared to switch on any heating because they feared what it would do their power bill. Many elderly were simply staying in bed all day, said Grey Power.

Last month Labour's energy spokesperson David Parker commented that there was 'still a lack of competition in the electricity market.'

'Instead of taking steps to get the prices to go down, the Government's acted in a way that's allowed prices to continue to go up. We still don't have proper competition in the market and therefore the prices will continue to go up,' he said.

Of course Parker's got nothing to crow about since under the last Labour Government power prices went up a obscene 70 percent and Labour did absolutely nothing to prevent it.

Now Parker wants us to believe, that despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, 'the market' can somehow be made to work for the benefit of ordinary New Zealanders. All we need, apparently, is 'proper competition'. He is talking rubbish but this is the kind of rubbish we've come to expect from a political party that remains loyal to the failed ideology of neoliberalism.

My own view remains as it has always been - the power industry needs to be completely re-nationalised and power prices substantially reduced in order to provide ordinary folk something they have been denied under neoliberalism and 'the free market' - affordable power.

By the way, the 'What's My Number' website is a con because it only provides you with a generalised estimated saving. According to the website I would save $115 a year.

But according to the more specific and more accurate site Powerswitch, run by the Consumers Institute, my saving would be $51 a year if I switched power companies. That's less than a dollar a week.

Woo hoo!

WHO KILLED TVNZ?

Labour killed public broadcasting in New Zealand. National just disposed of the body.


According to Labour MP Clare Curran, the passing of the TVNZ Amendment Bill, which freed TVNZ of any public service obligations, has killed public service television in New Zealand.

Clare Curran should stop making things up and own up to Labour's role in the murder of public broadcasting in this country.

Public service television died when Labour imposed its ludicrous hybrid model on TVNZ. Labour's astonishingly inept view that TVNZ could somehow meet public service obligations while at the same deliver a commercial dividend to the Government was always a recipe for disaster. It was Steve Maharey, Labour's ideological cheerleader for 'Third Way' politics, who dropped this nonsense on TVNZ.

I said at the time that Maharey's broadcasting model would not work and so did many other people including former TVNZ chairman Ian Fraser. He urged that the Labour Government turn TV1 into a purely public service channel along the lines of the BBC in the United Kingdom and ABC in Australia.

Labour's ideological distaste for Fraser's argument though was obvious from the start and he was basically run out of town by the very same Labourites who are now lambasting National for removing the TVNZ Charter. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Labour's hybrid model opened the doors to the avalanche of dumb shows that clog the programming schedules of TVNZ today, including a third rate news and current affairs service that is barely watchable.

The Key Government has itself given up any pretence that it is interested in public service broadcasting .

Initially the Minister of Jonathan Coleman was suggesting that TVNZ7 could become a public service channel.It was little more than an attempt to ghettoise public broadcasting as some kind of 'niche provider', but Coleman has even given up on this paltry offering as well. TVNZ7 will go off air next year, assuming the National Party is re-elected, because the Government has declined to continue its funding.

But, at the same time, it was more than happy to bail out Mediaworks, the owners of TV3 and 4, to the tune of $43 million. Mediaworks publicly endorsed National's broadcasting policy in 2008.

Clare Curran says that 'Labour is committed to a strong independent public media' although what she means by this is anyone's guess.

Unlike the Green Party, who want to transform TV1 into a non-commercial public broadcaster, Labour is conspicuously silent on the subject.

I expect that the Mana Party will also advocate resurrecting public broadcasting in this country.

Given Labour's dismal track record on public broadcasting, Curran's self-congratulatory comments should be approached with considerable caution.

CALL ME LOYAL

New Zealander Dan Wootton was the News of the World's 'Show Biz Editor'. He was busy defending his dismal newspaper last week...

I heard Daniel Wootton, the News of the World's, 'Showbiz editor', stoutly defending his newspaper last week.

Wootton began his career at the now-defunct and Murdoch-owned Wellington newspaper The Evening Post with an entertainment column. He has been interviewed by various New Zealand media outlets this past week, including TVNZ and TV3.

Wootton attempted to disassociate himself from the sordid behaviour of his newspaper and, unfortunately, the New Zealand media allowed him to do that. I think he was the lucky benefactor of the New Zealand media's infantile desire to cheerlead for any Kiwi who supposedly 'succeeds' overseas.

It's also because his comments have been appearing in Murdoch-owned publications like the Dominion-Post.

Wootton said he was 'sickened' by the hacking into phone accounts by News of the World journalists and then attempted to extricate himself and his fellow News of the World scribes , by claiming it had all happened in the past and that it did not reflect 'the current standards' at the newspaper.

'The vast majority of my colleagues, including journalists and management, were not working on this newspaper during those years. There is a new regime in place here,' he claimed.

I'm sure that embattled News International CEO Rebekah Brooks appreciated Wootton's support.

Wootton then went on to allege that the News of the World had become a quality newspaper of integrity that had even won awards.

Even if you accept on face value his assurances that the phone hacking (and the paying for information from police officers) happened entirely under a different management (which I don't), Wootton's attempt to portray the newspaper as the something other than the tabloid dross that it has always been, was laughable.

Actually Wootton blew up his own argument when he later commented:

'Just remember, my job is to bring you guys the best showbiz stories in the business week in week out - the X Factor, Cheryl and Ashley, Kate Moss, TOWIE and all of that good stuff.'

Good stuff?

I would lay odds we will find Dan Wootton popping up in The Sun in some capacity , which will no doubt become a seven day publication. Perhaps that will be his reward for his loyalty to the Murdoch 'brand'.

Missing from anything Wootton has said is his view of the reactionary stench that has always pervaded the News of the World and other publications in the Murdoch stable.

This is a newspaper that has been at the vanguard of a Murdoch press that has bashed, vilified and caricatured the British working class and its interests. This is a newspaper that has relentlessly promoted the business and political interests of Murdoch and the British ruling class while at the same time never giving voice to the concerns of the dispossessed and the powerless that have suffered under the regimes of both Conservative and Labour Government's

Last week a former Sun journalist, Jon Guant, described a summer garden party held by Rupert Murdoch some three years ago:

All of what you might call the great and the good were there. All of the Labour cabinet were there, all of the shadow cabinet, it was like being in the court of the Sun King - if you get the joke - and these people do control the country...What we need in this country is a separate judiciary, we need an independent police force...and we need the press and the politicians to be separate as well.

I doubt that Dan Wootton was invited, given that he wasn't high enough up in the Murdoch pecking order, but I'm sure he would of liked to have been ...

YOU'RE MORALLY BANKRUPT!



Comedian Steve Coogan, of Hello, I'm Alan Partridge fame, rips into former News of the World editor Paul McMullan on the BBC's Newsnight.

Newsnight is a nightly current affairs show - the kind of show that both TVNZ and TV3 have abandoned in favour of cooking shows, cop shows and other such crap...

THE U.S. MILITARY GO 'GREEN'

The U.S. military says it wants to be 'energy neutral'.The rhetoric of green-washing is little more than an attempt to divert attention from the fact that the Obama administration is escalating military spending, writes Trish Kahle






The United States military, facing a slew of negative public opinion and resistance in the face of three plus unpopular wars is setting out to redo it's image from that of a polluting force of brutality that rapes and pillages wherever it goes, to a slightly less (and the slightly less is easily disputable) polluting force that rapes and pillages wherever it goes.

The Secretary of the Navy, leader of the campaign to make the military a "energy-neutral" entity, is making the rounds talking about how military bases are now--or soon will be--producing enough energy to become power sources rather than power sinks, using some solar power, but mostly by turning to biodiesel.

Of course, there's more than a few problems with that. Before we can even begin to argue about the questionable contribution of biodiesel to a "greener" world, which is a point worth discussing, we should focus on the more critical argument: that this green-wash campaign is nothing short of a PR attempt to divert attention from the fact that the Obama administration is escalating military spending and using the destructive, imperial force of the United States military in more countries than ever with no end in sight. Fundamentally, the military-industrial complex is diametrically opposed to ecological sustainability and biodiversity. To say anything else is a vicious lie.

As the 2012 election fast approaches, we can already see this as an attempt to win environmentalists back to the Democratic Party, despite the fact that the Democrats have done nothing but scoffed at activist calls to halt the expansion of nuclear power, mountain top removal, fracking for natural gas, and offshore oil drilling. Both the Democrats and Republicans are shoving the EPA--one of the most important legislative victories for environmental activists in the last 50 years--under the budget acts. This campaign is an attempt to hide the disgusting lengths the Obama administration has gone to in order to undermine the ability of the EPA to regulate corporations (a capacity in which it was already severely limited to begin with). The Democrats are not part of the solution, they are a critical fixture of the problem.

And even the rhetoric of green-washing is still shifted to the right by couching the rhetoric in terms of "energy independence," an argument which is a not-too-thinly-veiled defense of imperialism. In addition, biodiesel falls into a similar category with nuclear power in that both are non-solutions presented as radical and necessary alternatives. Biodiesel is replenishable, not sustainable, a critical difference which is usually overlooked. Carbon emissions from biodiesel are not significantly less than fossil fuels, particularly when you include production.

True movements toward sustainability must reject the capitalist system, and certainly no one committed to ecological justice could ever support any military endeavor, and particularly not the imperialist agenda of the United States, which ironically is performing this campaign at the same time that it wages war--sorry, "humanitarian intervention"--in Libya, one of the most oil-rich countries on earth. In order to truly destroy the military power-sink (not to mention budget-sink), we need a world free of imperialism, free of capitalism, a world that puts people and their ecosystem first.

This article was originally published on I Can't Believe We Still Have To Protest This Shit.

USELESS UNION

British public service workers went out on strike last week to protest against cuts in jobs and working conditions. Here in New Zealand, despite the Government axing hundreds of jobs in the public service, the Public Service Association has done exactly nothing to resist the attacks. National Secretary Richard Wagstaff has been waving the white flag of surrender this week...


The strike by public servants in the UK last week was, from all reports, a big success.

Nearly 800,000 workers went out in strike, despite attempts by the Tories and the corporate media to portray the strikers as 'selfish' and a threat to Britain's 'economic future'.

It was strike too that gained wide support from other workers, also under attack from the Con-Lib Government

Here in New Zealand, it's all quiet on the strike front. John Key and co must be overjoyed they are facing zero resistance from union 'leaders' to their savage austerity drive.

The do-nothing bureaucrats of the Public Service Association (PSA) have failed to launch any kind of fight back, despite the fact that hundreds of jobs have already been lost to Government cutbacks.

And more job losses will be on their way with the Government having appointed a group of senior civil servants and external advisers to oversee further 'reforms' to the public service.

This will likely see the disestablishment of five crown entities, three tribunals and the merger of two government agencies, with the loss of a further 900 jobs.

Public servants under threat of taking the long walk to Work and Income can count on no support from their union leaders, other than the usual hollow expressions of 'concern' we inevitable get from these gutless wonders.

In the face of the Government attacks on jobs and working conditions in the public service, the PSA bureaucrats have done nothing but wave the white flag of surrender.

Yesterday it was announced that ten jobs were to go in the Greymouth office of the Inland Revenue. Other regional offices also face job cuts.

The response of Richard Wagstaff, the Public Service Association national secretary, was to throw up his hands in despair and blubber.

He stated the blindingly obvious by declaring the cuts were a 'heavy blow' for the regional tax offices that had been targeted.

Of course we should expect little from a prize clown and Labour Party flunky like Wagstaff given his only 'demand' of Government so far is that the PSA be 'involved in this review process'! Dick wants to help John Key and Bill English put his own PSA members out of work!

Richard Wagstaff and his mates in the PSA head office couldn't punch their way out of a wet paper bag, never mind defend the jobs of the workers who pay their generous salaries.

BOB THROWS A TANTRUM

Sideshow Bob got all upset last week when some troublesome councillors tried to get some accountability and transparency on the consultancy contracts his pal Tony Marryatt has been dishing out. And, after promising not to say anything more about Marryatt until the appointment process to pick a new CEO was over, he's not only been praising his pal 'Tony' again but apologising to him because some councillors had the bad taste to criticise him!

The Christchurch City Council has blown nearly $3 million of ratepayers money on 'consultants' and, to their credit, a number of councillors are not happy about it - and they attempted to do something about it at last Thursday's council meeting.

In response, Sideshow Bob threw one of his tantrums and tried to stifle debate. Sadly, but not surprising, he had the support of councillors like Ngaire Button, Sue Wells and Barry Corbett. They too think they can do what they like, when they like - and bugger the consequences.

Five councillors though have pointed out that council staff (ie Tony Marryatt) exceeded their legal spending authority of up to $500,000 in approving a consultant's contract for work on the post-earthquake central city plan.

Impact Project Management have been paid nearly $900,000.

Marryatt and co, as I've pointed out previously, have also ignored advice from the Ministry of Economic Development.

In an advisory note on procurement 'to provide guidance and support to agencies responding to the Canterbury Earthquake' the Ministry states that while agencies, in an emergency situation can 'forgo routine procurement procedures', it warns:

'In adopting an flexible approach to procurement, agencies should be mindful of being fair to suppliers and open about their approach and why it is being adopted.'

It goes on to say that:

'Wherever responsible agencies are encouraged to seek some level of competition and achieve value for money.'

And the Ministry reminds agencies like the Christchurch City Council:

'Agencies' staff should be mindful of acting within their delegated authority'.

All the above seems to have been disregarded by Sideshow Bob, Tony Marryatt and Mike Theelen, the council's 'strategy and planning group general manager'. He is, of course, directly accountable to Marryatt.

The five councillors tried to get some accountability from Sideshow Bob and his chums.

Tim Carter said that he had 'a suspicion' that the granting of an $878,936 contract to Impact Project Management without council approval 'was being kept from us on purpose'.

Carter pointed out that the figure in the annual plan documents tabled at the meeting was the first time he and other councillors had known about it. And this was despite having emailed questions for more than two months asking staff how they would allocate work to consultants.

Sideshow Bob's response to the councillors trying to get some answers was to throw one of his all too familiar tantrums.

If he can't get his own way, Bob simply changes the rules to suit himself.

Bob who, during the mayoral campaign , promised to be 'more open and accountable' threatened to throw Carter out the meeting, describing his comments as 'pathetic'.

He then refused to allow Jimmy Chen to talk on the issue.

At the council elections Chen stood for the Labour-aligned 2021 team. One of his main policy platforms was to promote 'open and transparent governance in the Council’s decision making process.' Jimmy has rapidly discovered he is a dealing with a Mayor who believes in openness and transparency only when everyone agrees with him.

Crs Carter, Chen, Yani Johanson, Jamie Gough and Glenn Livingstone failed in their attempt to pass a resolution expressing 'concern and dissatisfaction' at the breach of the spending cap and at the 'lack of an open process' to determine who would get contracts for the central city plan.

Johanson said papers clearly showed the Impact Project Management contract was signed on May 12, well after the state of emergency ended on April 30.

'You can't get away from democracy because of the size of the natural disaster. This is about councillors being in control of the city and being prudent with resources.'

Johanson though is trying to push water uphill here as Sideshow Bob has been anything but prudent with resources.

Among other things, he bailed out his mate and failed property developer Dave Henderson to the tune of $17 million. He spent $5 million on a garden show and he is presently throwing even more millions at the lame duck Christchurch City Council Civic Offices that have been barely been open since the official opening in August last year.

And then there is the debacle surrounding the AMI Stadium. The Christchurch ratepayer is being forced to bail out the stadium's operator, Vbase. That's another $74 million wasted we can chalk up to Sideshow Bob and his cronies.

It will come as no surprise that Sue 'Double Dipper' Wells (who still harbours mayoral ambitions. Ha ha.) came to the defence of her beloved Sideshow Bob.

The pompous Wells said that the complaints were 'pedantic, nitpicking. And now we are getting the noose out? I'm really gutted by that. I want to distance myself as far as possible from this."

She then disappeared back up Sideshow Bob's arse, where she spends most of her time.

Readers will recall that it was Ms Wells who told us that the Henderson bailout was 'a very good deal' and those of us who opposed it were 'stupid'.

But Sideshow Bob wouldn't be Sideshow Bob if he didn't shoot himself in the foot.

While he was busy trying to strangle the democratic process, Bob thought it would be good idea to praise Tony Marryatt.

Marryatt is under threat of losing his job as CEO and, after publicly coming out in support of 'Tony', Sideshow Bob claimed he was 'standing aside' from the appointment process.

But, despite being roundly condemned for tainting the whole appointment process, Sideshow Bob was back to his old interfering ways at Thursday's council meeting.

Not only did he say that Marryatt's work had been 'outstanding', he actually apologised to 'Tony' because some horrible councillor's had dared to criticise him!

BRUCE RUSSELL IS A MORON

Morrissey Breen fearlessy samples NewstalkZB's Bruce Russell and has his intelligience insulted...








According to NewstalkZB’s own website Bruce Russell “likes to bring his sense of humour to his overnight talk show, but the serious issues are also tackled.” It also claims that Russell “is widely read, and can talk with people on just about any subject they raise…”

Well, let’s have a look how Russell performed recently. Let’s check out that vaunted “sense of humour”, see how he tackles a very serious issue, and how his “wide reading” elevates the tone of his show….

28.6.11 NewstalkZB, 8:00 to 12 midnight

CALLER GEOFF: That lady who said Maori kids should be taken out of their homes and put into a Pakeha family was ridiculous.

BRUCE RUSSELL: It was a generalization.

CALLER: It wasn’t a generalization, it was downright backward.

RUSSELL: I don’t know why you’re upset and aggressive! The statistics show that 54 per cent of bashed kids are Maori!

Later another woman tells Russell that it’s not as simple as he says and his statistics are bogus. Such namby-pamby liberal claptrap infuriates this widely read host…

RUSSELL: See, I don’t agree with that disadvantage thing! Hopelessness is not a reason to bash your kids! Pacific Islanders don’t bash their kids. Why do I have to be careful with statistics?

MALE CALLER: It’s due to savagery, animal instinct. These people have just come out of cannibalism. It’s still in their gene pool. Samoans are a very bad violent race as well.

FEMALE CALLER: They’re violent, and they won’t work! They have loads of money! They’re lazy!

RUSSELL: Well they are just enjoying life on the dole. No responsibility. I honestly don’t believe that because your land was taken off you, that you bash your kids. See Hone Harawira is a good example. The rhetoric and the racism that comes from that joker is appalling!

CALLER: It’s these flaming left liberals, Bruce! And why the hell are the police showing bloody cultural sensitivity to Maori?

RUSSELL: I’ve got quite a few e-mails here, all about the topic under discussion tonight. The first one reads: “Culture schmulture.” Thank you Jackie. “Why do we pay these dropouts to have children?” That was another Jackie. “It’s the warrior gene”, says Richie. Hello, Diane.

CALLER DIANE: I live next door to a Maori and he is so embarrassed. He wishes he was a Fijian! What’s the pronunciation these days, Maori or Marry?

RUSSELL: I’m afraid I’m still very condemning of the sort of lifestyle of people like Macsyna King. You come to the conclusion that some people should not be allowed to have children.

MALE CALLER: They have all this Treaty money, Bruce! But they spend it all on drink and weed!

RUSSELL: You would think they would be a very wealthy society and wouldn’t need to lay around on the benefit.

et cetera, ad absurdum, ad nauseam…

TO THE MAX



A comment from one of my three readers, Mac, has reminded me that I've been meaning to recommend again The Keiser Report on RT (Sky 69).

The corporate bootlicking that passes for business and financial journalism on TVNZ and TV3, is no match for the 'take no prisoners' approach of Max Keiser. And he's a helluva lot more entertaining.

While TV1's dull Nadine Chalmers-Ross and TV3's equally dull Michael Wilson treat the business suits as if they were the sources of all knowledge and wisdom, Max sticks the boot into them on a twice weekly basis.

His co-host Stacy Herbert is also a diligent slayer of neoliberalism and the free market.

Great show.

Here's a recent show that, among other things, looks at the Greek crisis.

BAILING OUT VBASE

The Christchurch City Council's 'earthquake levy' is nothing more than a bailout for Vbase, the Council-owned operator of the AMI Stadium. Meanwhile, Sideshow Bob and his chums have allowed CEO Tony Marryatt to spend up large on 'consultants'. The good people of Christchurch are paying for that as well.




The good people of Christchurch, already financially impoverished by two devastating earthquakes, have been dealt a further blow by Sideshow Bob and his Council chums.

The Christchurch City Council has approved a 5.34 per cent rates rise. On top of that an 'earthquake levy' of 1.76 percent has been imposed.

The propaganda says that this will repay the expected $73.8 million deficit 'caused by earthquakes', but the levy is solely to pay the debts of the Council-owned Vbase, the operator of the AMI Stadium. Vbase's debt has been reported to be approximately $74 million.

The 7.1 percent overall increase means that the Christchurch City Council has also allowed CEO Tony Marryatt to spend nearly $3 million on 'consultants' to work on the Christchurch City Council plan.

Marryatt appointed the consultants without the approval of the Council.

He doesn't appear to have taken heed of advice from the Ministry of Economic Development that it 'seek some level of competition and achieve value for money.'

Impact Project Management has the biggest contract, being paid $878,936. It appears that Marryatt unilaterally appointed Project Management. Due process has simply been ignored.

Hagley-Ferrymead councillor Yani Johanson has commented that he is 'increasingly concerned' about the cost of the central-city planning process.

Councillors should have been given an opportunity to decide the scope and budget of the project, Johanson said this week.

'There's no reason why it couldn't have been approved by us. We can arrange special meetings within a day's notice.'

Despite the enormous financial difficulties facing Christchurch and its people, its worth noting that Sideshow Bob and his chums didn't think it necessary to do their bit for Christchurch by taking a cut to their already inflated salaries.

We all have to make sacrifices apparently - but not Sideshow Bob and his Council chums. This is in despite of the fact that much of the work of the Christchurch City Council has been taken over by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA).

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