Thursday, 31 May 2012

The media don’t even qualify as medium

Some will see this week’s blog as the ravings of a curmudgeonly old fool and maybe they are. However I suspect many will share my feelings of disquiet over how we are served by our media.

The standards of professionalism in print media have all but vanished. I could and have filled an entire blog with examples of grammatical incompetence and such errors occur daily in almost every newspaper or online news service. My wife recently asked me what they teach at journalism school these days. I was the wrong person to ask; because I have never been there, but it is abundantly evident correct spelling and grammar are not on the menu.

To be fair, many of the errors we see should rightly be blamed upon the sub-editors. They are the ones paid exclusively for the purpose of picking up such errors and correcting them along with ensuring the story is appropriately titled and reads as if it was written by somebody who actually completed their schooling.

It is conceivable our journalists were always this bad and that it is only the sub-editors who have let their standards slide down the gurgler. I always felt outsourcing their role to ‘subbing hubs’ rather than having the work done onsite where the journos who wrote the stories are based was bound to cause problems.

Bad grammar and poor spelling are not the only shortcomings of the print media however. For example where has investigative journalism gone? And worse still, how many times do you get to the end of a story and find the writer has left out one of the key ‘Ws’?

I am probably a real thorn in the arse of some of the newspapers because I notice shit, but I don’t think I’m alone. Far too often I get to the end of a story and have an obvious question about it that was clearly never asked by the reporter.

A minor example is a story that appeared this week in SunDead about a spate of burglaries in Mount Maunganui. We heard how the burglars had been brazen enough to enter properties while the residents were sleeping and nick off with their stuff. One interviewee said, “...they come in while people are home, if the back doors open they will walk in while people are in the house.” When somebody says something like that, you would expect the interviewer to follow up and ask if the doors were left open or unlocked in each of, or most of these burglaries. In which case the solution is pretty bloody self evident and it is not a big heart-wrenching story about poor burglary victims so much as one about a bunch of careless nitwits.  It might be the former but thanks to sloppy reporting we will never know.

We also encounter factual carelessness where sometimes only half the story is given rather like a quote taken out of context and on other occasions the information is just plain wrong and ill-informed.

A recent story in SunDead told us how “Four men accused of murdering Tauranga man Gary Kimura elected trial at their arraignment in the High Court in Rotorua today.” Not like they had any choice! I think the reporter’s crayon must have broken before he or she could get out the words ‘by jury’ or ‘by judge’, but it might be simply that they didn’t understand what was going on in court and are completely ignorant of court proceedings.

A recent headline that breathlessly told us how a bloke had escaped jail on his 10th driving while disqualified conviction turned out to be nothing of the sort. The judge had simply delayed sentencing to get some more reports in.

The Sun isn’t the only culprit whose reporters seem to lack what it takes to be a journalist. Their arch-rival the Waste of Times is not much better. The rest of the APN stable aren’t much better and you won’t see any better performance from Fairfax either.

The malaise that has infected our print media is able to jump species and has also infected broadcast media (or was that the other way around?). In any event it is now par for the course to see spelling mistakes in on-screen captions and you simply cannot rely upon a single fact you are not well versed in through your own experiences.

A recent example was when the Broadcasting Standards Authority fined Don McDonald for bringing a complaint against One News. You might recall Don complained over an item about a young Canadian girl who had discovered a supernova. The item said it was 240 light years from earth, but in fact it was 240,000,000 light years from earth, which I am sure anyone would agree was an inaccurate report. However the BSA seemed to think the facts didn’t matter because it was a feel good story and really about the kid finding the supernova rather than the supernova itself. On that basis I could broadcast an item saying I had built a 4000 metre replica of SkyTower out of Lego when in fact I had only built one 4mm high. But hey what the heck it’s a feel good story and it’s actually about me building the thing. Never mind it is a million times smaller than we told you.

What inspired this piece today was the recent descent of National Radio which usually delivers good programming. Two recent ‘news’ items have got up my nose on this station and one has even prompted me to lay a complaint about breached broadcasting standards.

The first item was on the news during checkpoint where they told us KFC’s Double Down Burger is coming back. Hello? I thought National Radio was a commercial free zone. The return of a disgusting chemical and fat laden excuse for a burger is not news. It is advertising. There are no redeeming social features to the Double Down – not that I’ve ever eaten or seen one, or even wanted to. It is not crucial to the economy; it does not even have a human interest angle. It is just free advertising for a foreign company who should be paying for a slot on commercial radio instead.

However the absolute nadir was reached this morning when Morning Report ran an interview with the parents of the triplets that dies in a fire in the Doha shopping mall. The poor bastards couldn’t get more than two words at a time out between sobs and the whole performance was absolutely awful. I deem that sort of shit ‘churnalism’ with no mitigating aspects at all. I can’t for the life of me imagine what useful purpose it served. It was tacky, tabloid audio voyeurism or auteurism or whatever the audio equivalent is. I don’t know whether the family sought this interview or not, but I don’t believe it makes any difference if they did. Any decent programme producer would have said ‘we ain’t running that’. But then I guess decency is another standard that has gone by the wayside for many. Anyway I logged my complaint, but after Don McDonald’s experience I’m not holding my breath.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Dotting the coms and crossing the fingers

The FBI might want Kim Dotcom to be perceived as some kind of ‘BĂȘte Noir’ but the New Zealand Police with no small measure of help from Government have made an absolute circus of his arrest and everything that has followed. The effect has been to elevate Dotcom to the level of a man who has been misunderstood and had his rights trampled on by jackbooted fascists.

Whether this is an accurate picture of the man still remains to be seen, but it is kind of hard to side with those who claim to be the good guys when you learn what has gone down here.

Dotcom is claiming police raid was an instance of ‘excessive police action’.  He has said that when police arrived they were not in police uniform and he had no way of knowing they were police. He says he bolted into his panic room when he saw a bunch of heavily armed men arriving on his property and I think I would have done the same if I had a panic room to dive into. He says once he became aware they were police he decided to sit tight rather than surprise them and risk being shot. Once again this is pretty sensible behaviour.

Dotcom further alleges that when police reached the panic room they punched him in the face, kicked him while he was on the ground and stomped on his hand.

But the entire raid appears to have been a gigantic over-reaction at the least and could well result in successful court proceedings by Dotcom against the New Zealand Police. You have to ask yourself whether it was really necessary to helicopter in a battalion of Police armed with pistols and automatic weapons to arrest three businessmen. It is very lucky this episode didn’t turn nasty because Dotcom’s bodyguards had weapons. While this is not a desirable state of affairs, I am sure many of New Zealand’s mega-wealthy citizens are also protected by armed men. If Dotcom’s guys had not realised soon enough they were facing Police there could have been a fire fight and then the coppers would really have had some explaining to do.

As it is there is already a judicial review under way regarding the legality of the warrant used in the raid and now we discover the NZ Police have handed over to the FBI material they seized in the raid which they had assured Dotcom’s lawyer they had not done and would not do without giving notice. What makes this worse is that among that material is footage from Dotcom’s security cameras which would bear out (or otherwise) his claims about the way the raid was conducted. Now those files are in the hands of the FBI, what is the bet they are ‘lost’ or ‘found to be unusable’ or tampered with?

I know Jianqi wants to become the United States’ bestest buddy’ so I shouldn’t really be too surprised that when the FBI snaps their fingers he races out and fetches their paper and sits panting at their feet and wagging his tail. But the American’s must be pissing themselves with laughter at the lengths this moron will go to prostituting our sovereignty and denying the usual expected protection to one of our own citizens. After all, Kim Dotcom might have been born in Germany and he might have spent a lot of time living all over the world but he does hold New Zealand citizenship and that should count for something. Can anyone imagine the United States rolling over like that and denying the rights of one of their citizens to appease a perceived ally? (Did I really ask that question?) Talk about allowing an FBI Sledgehammer (trust me I know what I’m doing) a crack at a nut, albeit an intriguing nut.

I have to admit I rather like Kim Dotcom and as this case unfolds I find myself liking him even more. He has a great sense of humour as evidenced by his “John Banks’ song and as a musician friend of mine recently said, for a bloke whose supposed to be a copyright pariah, he seems to have a good deal of support among the musical community. It is interesting to see how all the pollies who were only too happy to lap up his hospitality have all suffered severe memory loss and tried to distance themselves as far away from him as possible at a time when he needs support. But then they are politicians so this sort of fair-weather friendship is part of their culture.

But aside from the fact I like Dotcom and think he deserves a fairer suck of the sav than he has had so far; what concerns me most of all here are the actions of the Attorney-General’s office and the NZ Police. You might have expected the Police to be a little more cautious after the fiasco that was Tuhoegate; but they seem to have been pretty hyped up and clomping all over the show in their big size 13 boots. The Attorney-General’s office might have to spend some considerable time attempting to extract their much more stylish shoes from their big mouths. They’d better hope they’ve dotted all their coms and crossed all their fingers. This whole circus might be amusing were it not for two things. The first of these is you and I will ultimately pay for all of this when Dotcom sues, and that will be regardless of whether he does so successfully or not. Either way we will be throwing loads of dosh at legal fees. The second point is that once again we are being made to look like international Noddies by our Government. Thanks Jianqi and co! Oh, and lest we forget; thanks to all the pillocks that voted for this barrel of monkeys.  

Monday, 14 May 2012

It’s only money

The world seems to be universally in turmoil at the moment over the Global Financial Crisis. Having said that; it is interesting to not e how conveniently the GFC is invoked when Governments are asked to do something that will benefit the largest number of their constituents. You will notice how it magically evaporates when they want to tell you how why it is fine to get tough with beneficiaries who should just ‘go out and get a job’ (where?).

It is truly sad that so often our worth, or quite often our self-worth is defined by the abundance or otherwise of our financial wealth. We’ve all heard people say, “It’s only money” or “It is easier for a rich man to go through the eye of a needle than for a camel to enter the Kingdom of God’ (or some such), but as Berry Gordy once wrote, “The best things in life are free; But you can give them to the birds and bees; I need money”

And although money is only a symbol of the material world; for most of us that’s the one we are living in. It can’t buy happiness but most of us would prefer to be unhappy with it than unhappy without it. But I digress....

Money exists in great abundance and despite the fact it has very little value, given most of it is fiat money and of no real value to most of us. Governments know this because they gave the orders to print the stuff, yet they still go to extraordinary lengths to make sure you and I and anyone else not part of their club don’t get our hands on any of it. They will spend large sums of money to ensure ordinary folk don’t get any. Sounds crazy? Well check this out.

Some of you may recall a fight between the Ministry of Health and parents of disabled persons who were caring for their offspring full-time. The MOH had decided these people were not entitled to any payment for the care they were giving despite the fact many had given up their paid jobs to look after their kids and were effectively easing the burden on local services. The issue had been in the ether since about 1999 and in 2010 a group of carers took their case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal. The Tribunal ruled the Ministry’s policy not to pay carers who were related to the patient discriminatory.

The Ministry was not prepared to give up and appealed the Tribunal’s ruling to the High Court where the Office of Human Rights backed the caregivers in early 2011. The High Court also ruled for the parents explaining that by being excluded from paid work meant they were being treated differently because of their family status and that treatment was discriminatory.

So the Misery of UnHealth has been through two hearings both of which would have cost a lot of money and they’ve lost both times. But do they give up and do the decent thing and pay these tireless and selfless workers? Do they ‘eck as like.

Immediately following their second loss the MOHOFOSOBOs up the ante (and the cost to you and me – but heck it’s only money) and appealed the High Court decision to the Court of Appeal.

The whole sorry saga arrived there in February this year and has been decided once again this week. The Court of Appeal confirmed the High Court’s decision in favour of the parents.

According to Fairfax Media this case has cost Crown Law $1.4M so far and the whisper is the mean-fisted, tight-arses are likely to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court, now. But then I don’t suppose we should expect anything else from the Minestrone run by that horrible little oik Toenail Vyle.

Now it’s important to remember here that this is the Government that sets great store by money. It’s never out of their conversation. The budget is to contain provisions for getting students to pay their loans back quicker; we can’t have public service television because  we don’t have the money for it; we need to sell our best performing state owned businesses to get some quick cash; we need to change the gambling laws so SkyCity can spend millions building a convention centre they will charge us to use......Listening to them you would think there was nothing else in the world except money and that money was the sole answer to all our problems. So if we believe them (and let’s face it we are a pretty damned credulous country); then how is it that the parent caregivers don’t need any money for what they are doing? Their job is tough mentally and often physically, is 24/7 and offers no perks. Compared to them our useless Government Ministers have got it easy and they insist on being paid six figures (not including the cents) to do their job. How would they like the roles reversed. I’ll bet they wouldn’t do their job for nowt. But why shouldn’t they? After all; it’s only money.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Forgotten mammaries or how to make a tit of yourself

It would seem they have been putting something in the water at the Beehive because an awful lot of the b’s are having trouble with their tiny insectivore memory banks.

Banks’ blanks

We are currently all watching with increasing alarm the ridiculous spectacle of Banksia who it would seem is unable to recall flying in a flash private helicopter to a multi-million dollar home on the North Shore of Auckland where he dined with a man so large he darks out the sun. Banksia’s recall is also compromised whenever he is asked where all his election funds came from or whether he paid full price for his holiday accommodation. It would appear he also has forgotten the rest of us have not just arrived on a cabbage boat (whatever the fuck one of those is).

When it comes to a question of what Jianqi should do about Banksia, then politics aside it is obvious this man won’t remember what he has just voted for in the chamber ten minutes afterwards. This calls into question his ability to remember what he is being paid $217,000p.a. to do

Key blanks

As for Jianqi it is obvious he is also experiencing the first stages of memory loss. It is clear there are big blanks in his recall. For example he doesn’t seem to recall how he told Hell-On-Wheels that she should stand Whinny down when he was being investigated over alleged electoral expense issues. “That’s what a good Prime Minister would do – that’s what I would do” he lisped. So if he believed that he is then by his own definition either not a good Prime Minister, unless of course he is a liar or has simply forgotten.

Jianqi also seems to have forgotten he didn’t actually win the election with an earth-shattering majority. In fact he seems to have forgotten he didn’t win it with any sort of complete majority. While it is true he got more seats and more votes than any other single party, in both instances that still only amounted to less than half of the votes cast.

Finally little Jianqi seems to have forgotten he is no longer a Lone Ranger currency trader who can zoom here and there at someone else’s expense and cut deals of his own.

Brown outs

Another who seems to be having trouble with his short-term memory is Gezza Brown Eye. We already suspected Gez’s stomach had no memory and now we find the problem is not confined to that. Gezza has had a lot of trouble over the last year remembering to move his big foot from his mouth before trying to say something clever. So far he has referred to Bob Parkup as a clown (which is accurate though Gez himself only needs the funny shoes and the wig to be a much better candidate for that epithet.

Gez’s clodhoppers were still wedged in his gob a few months later when he decided to regale us all with his up-to date knowledge of life in Finland. Unfortunately it would seem Gezza’s knowledge of Finland was written on the back of a postage stamp in crayon and did not include the warning “remove hoof before you make a goof”. Consequently he became the very large butt of some very good Finnish humour.

That last gaffe should have Finnished (I couldn’t resist that) him off, but Ol Brown Eye still had blank to fire. About ten days ago he was asked about some comments from Christchurch City Councillor Yani Johansson but was unable to say much except that he didn’t know who Mr Johansson was. Given Gez was liaising with said Council and has been regularly since the shaky city shook itself to the ground, you might think he would remember this dude. Maybe the Scandinavian name confused him and he thought it was another fin trying to make a mockery of him.

No benefit of hindsight

Another NewCon who appears to be having trouble with memory is Benefit Minister Paula Bumfat. As a former solo mother who had to bring up kids and get herself an education you might think she would remember very well what a hard row to hoe that is.

However it is abundantly clear to this observer that Ms Bumfat has almost no recollection of those days. If it were not so, then why would she seem to think the rules should be changed for the latest batch of solos ensuring none of them get the opportunities she did at our expense. Nobody who could remember bringing up a child alone while trying to get a career under way could ever  see the logic in reducing student allowances for those who need the assistance of those benefits in order to become a self-supporting and worthwhile member of society.

Lest we forget

Another and possibly even more costly event involving memory also came to my attention this week. It has been revealed that Crown lawyers and others were aware when they authorised police to seize assets belonging to Kim Dotcom their paperwork was flawed and the seizures were illegal. This was discovered at the time and even Solicitor-General David Collins knew of it, yet they all chose to ignore this fact and go ahead anyway.
So what did this have to do with memory? Simply this; Justice Potter has already pointed out to KD that he has the right to sue over the Crown’s actions. Given he probably has more money than the NZ Government they must have forgotten you don’t piss off big wealthy men who can sue your arse on a scale you have only ever seen in your nightmares

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Collapsing banks

It’s a slippery slope when you sup with the devil. The road to hell is paved with good donations. Pride comes before a rockfall. You are judged by the company you are funded by. Don’t air your dirty dealings in public.

How many more mixed metaphors can you think of to describe the shambles that is the current Coalition Government?

The SS National Disgrace has sprung more than a couple of leaks in her hull since that farce we called an election. But what is worse is that closer inspection shows the timbers are rotten to the core.

The election was built on a massive collection of lies, half-truths, deceptions and gagging orders so it should come as no surprise when those who were ‘robbed’ by it uncover more dirty deeds on an almost daily basis. You can’t steal an election using all sorts of dirty tricks and not expect payback.

Who can forget the hissy fit Banksia and Jianqi got into when their carefully staged PR exercise got out of their control?  Police were dragged away from important policing to harass a freelance photographer and apply subtle pressure to the media in general over an inadvertent recording of a discussion in public between two public figures. The court wrapped everything up tightly until. after the election and the police issued a heavy warning in support of the two little gnomes, despite the fact most of this was legally dubious at best and downright inaccurate at worst.

Let’s not forget the figures none of us were allowed to see that would have either justified (yeah right) or disproved the logic being Jianqi’s planned asset sales. ‘Trust me”, little Jianqi seems to be saying. But why would you? He’s been caught out that many times in the last 12 months; you might think the Teflon must be getting at least a bit tarnished.

I never thought I’d say it, but Whinny has been a very valuable member of this current Parliament. He has not given the National Disgrace so much as a centimetre of wriggle room. He has called for Banksia to be stood down until all his alleged sins of omission and commission have been dealt with. He points out that Jianqi insisted Helen Cluck do the same with him when he was a Minister and there was a matter of some donations to NZ First that were alleged to be outside the rules. At that time Key had said that was what he would do if he had a Minister in that position. Interesting how quickly things can change when the boot is in another mouth, eh?  

Jianqi says Banksia has told him directly he has done no wrong and that’s good enough for him. That might be all very well in certain circumstances but when there is evidence to suggest Banksia has had an amazing case of amnesia over so much stuff, you’d think the PM might be a tad more cautious.

However arrogance is a style Jianqi has always carried off well. He somehow manages to adopt a ‘what me?’ face and an ability to act incredibly disingenuously and give the impression he is an innocent in a strange world instead of the puppet-master he really is.

As Whinny so cleverly quipped, “Mr Key has certain principles, if you don't like them than he's got others.”

The Banksia/Dotcom/SkyCity affair is increasingly looking like the loaded gun that will have Jianqi’s eye out. It is clear Banksia has been economical with the truth over his dealings with the large, apparently genial and definitely memorable Kim Dotcom. As Whinny said, it is rather hard to forget the megasized boss of Megaupload and it would appear Banksia might have the first stages of dementia if he can’t remember meeting the man mountain at least four times over the last 18 months or so, especially when at least two of those meeting lasted for over two hours. Even Banksia’s old mate Mofo Williamson this week confirmed Banksia had approached him seeking approvals for Herr Dotcom with the OIO.

Of course Dotcom is not the only very animated skeleton in Banksia’s electoral piggy closet; there is the matter of SkyCity who very generously gave $15,000 each to Banksia and Lemon Brown, though only the Lemon seemed to remember it....or declare it.

The Oppos need work together and keep digging around Banksia as I believe they will find a lot more skeletons. If he goes down it will be a significant rockfall for the coalition who will then have a zero vote majority unless they can fool the Maori Party, which given its current leadership shouldn’t be too hard. But being able to buy the occasional vote on the occasional issue would not be a sustainable situation for them and the good old Vote of No Confidence could probably be rolled out quite successfully at that stage.

I would suggest the best place to start is to closely scrutinise all his electoral donations both for Mayor and for Parliament. According to Granny Herald his electoral return (for the mayoralty) contained 45 other allegedly anonymous donations and five of those were for $25,000. Given Banksia's reluctance to own up to the two Dotcom cheques and the SkyCity one, who knows who else might have their finger up his bum working him? People like Jianqi like to tell us everything is about transparency but from where most of us are sitting it would appear there is a lot of gunk on the windshield of our ship of state.

I reckon a couple more good shots across the bow could sink this tub. Action stations!