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Open Mike 12/07/2017

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, July 12th, 2017 - 97 comments
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97 comments on “Open Mike 12/07/2017 ”

  1. millsy 1

    With Labour’s winter fuel allowance ((copied and pasted directly from the UK’s policy), it would mean that NZPower, a policy that would have made a world of difference to electricity users, and would have benefited generators and retailers as well, had they not blindly opposed it is dead in the water. A pity really.

  2. AsleepWhileWalking 2

    Search for the petition to stop the merger between Bayer and Monsanto. Please sign it today.

  3. Cemetery Jones 3

    Sounds like some of Sweden’s new citizens have embraced the spirit of community activism and internationalism for which the country is so well know. Oh, wait….

    “A Somalian woman in Gothenburg, Sweden, Qamar Cleasson, spies on families in who converted to Christianity and shares the information with Muslims abroad, reports Pamela Geller.

    Cleasson joined a Swedish Christian congregation to spy on these families. Somali families associated with the church now feel threatened and some have been forced to go underground. According to local sources speaking to Geller, Swedish police say they “lack resources” and are unable to help the apostate families.”


  4. Cinny 4

    We didn’t have the infrastructure in place for so many immigrants to come to NZ in the first place.

    And now the solution is for national to loan $1billion to councils to try and fix it? It’s not the councils fault that so many people were allowed in NZ, councils were unprepared for it, and now they have to foot the bill.
    Doesn’t seem fair to me, wonder if rates will rise in those areas?

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      Almost everything that National does causes rates to rise and then National will blame the council – unless it’s a right-wing council in which case they won’t say a word. Just look at how they talk about Auckland and who they blame for the cost blow-outs that they caused by their stupid SuperShitty legislation.

  5. Andre 5

    Holy fuck. A blinding flash of actual good sense from Dallas, Texas. Put some actual public transport users on the board of the transit authority.


    A brief scan of Auckland Transport’s board doesn’t look like a similar outbreak is coming here anytime soon.


    • Ad 5.1

      Patrick Reynolds – one of the TransportBlog founder – was appointed by Auckland Council to their Customer Focus Committee in June. He’s doing a good job.

      • Andre 5.1.1

        I hate to feel like I’m dumping on good news, but isn’t that a bit damning with faint praise?

        • Yes lol. They should have PT experts all over local government.

        • Ad

          Nope. He’s doing a good job.

          Don’t forget:
          Auckland Transport has by a long way the largest teams devoted to public transport, cycling, and walking of any public entity in the country.

          They are also highly tuned to what the public transport customer is wanting more or less of, due to the near-90% penetration of their HOP card which tracks every trip on every public transport mode.

          • Andre

            My snark was not aimed at the work Reynolds is doing, more that despite his appointment AT’s efforts to get public transport users deeply involved in decision-making still look somewhat token when set against a board loaded up with the likes of Cullen, Rebstock, Gilbert…

  6. greywarshark 6

    Honour Board.
    Protesting for democracy. Jailed.
    Hard to get, and easy to lose, or misuse.

    A Chinese hospital treating sick dissident Liu Xiaobo offered a bleak prognosis on Monday, saying he is seriously ill, as a U.S. attorney who represents Liu accused Beijing of hastening his death by refusing to allow his transfer to a foreign hospital.

    Liu, 61, was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power” after he helped write a petition known as “Charter 08” calling for sweeping political reforms.

  7. Ed 7

    Funny how so many in the west can’t see the propaganda that is fed to them on a daily basis.
    Here’s but one example.

    Remember when Aleppo was being liberated by the Syrian government.
    Remember the corporate media ‘s unending commentary about the bad Russians bombing the city to smithereens?
    Patrick Cockburn would one of the few western journalists to observe similar destruction has been wreaked on Mosul.

    ‘Nobody knows how many civilians died in Mosul because many of the bodies are still buried under the rubble in 47 degrees heat. Asked to estimate how many people had been killed in his home district of al-Thawra, Saad Amr said: “we don’t know because houses were often full of an unknown number of displaced people from other parts of the city.”

    Some districts are so badly damaged that it is impossible to reach them. We heard that there had been heavy airstrikes on the districts of Zanjily and Sahba and, from a distance, we could see broken roofs with floors hanging down like concrete flaps. But we could not get there in a car because the streets leading to them were choked with broke masonry and burned out cars.”


    As Gore Vidal said…

    “The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world. No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity – much less dissent.”

    • Cemetery Jones 7.1

      Oh absolutely, there were numerous incidents of John McCain & CNN’s dearly beloved moderate head choppers shooting people who tried to flee using the open corridors. But muh Russians bombed the last hospital in Aleppo 26 times!

    • Glad to see we can finally agree that large-scale air strikes on densely-populated areas is not a good way to fight a war, Paul/Ed. It’s a realisation you’ve come to quite late and I expect only because this time the US was involved, but better late than never.

      • Bill 7.2.1

        Is that a suggestion that bombing carried out on E. Aleppo was somehow comparable to what has just happened in Mosul?

        • Psycho Milt

          The principle is comparable, the events themselves not so much. For instance, in Mosul the bombardment was carried out in support of a ground attack, while in east Aleppo the bombardment was for a long time carried out in lieu of a ground attack, as the regime didn’t have the numbers to mount one. To that extent it was more of a punishment for opposing the Assad regime than the furthering of any military purpose. Another difference is that the destruction in Mosul was much worse, because it was held by religious fascists fighting to the last man and bullet, so a negotiated conclusion wasn’t possible the way it was in Aleppo. Another difference is the coalition didn’t randomly unload barrels of explosives out the back of a helicopter over Mosul. No doubt there are many other differences. But the principle, yeah pretty comparable.

          • Bill

            The principle is broadly comparable, yes. The considerations taken around bombing, “maybe” not so much.

            Perhaps you haven’t read the Cockburn piece that comments on the notable absence of bullet holes in walls – indicating a lack of street to street fighting? Who lacked the numbers, or is it the will, to carry out a ground attack again?

            Who do you think was opposing the Syrian government in E. Aleppo and launching ordnance into civilian areas of W. Aleppo? The civilians of E. Aleppo who were being held as human shields in much the same manner as civilians in Mosul? Because that’s the implication of your statement that E.Aleppo was simply bombed as a form of punishment.

            Care to spell out any meaningful difference between those who sought a Caliphate and who occupied E. Aleppo, and those who sought a Caliphate who occupied Mosul?

            And if one set of occupiers can be given safe passage to avoid mounting civilian casualties, then why not the other set ( given that a goodly number had already been allowed passage from Mosul to Palermo)?

            Random barrel bombs or ordnance targeting underground bunkers being dropped from helicopters? And how does targeted white phosphorous work?

            No need to actually address those questions btw. I fully get that you’re really quite attached to the official narratives flying around the show on Iraq and Syria.

      • Cemetery Jones 7.2.2

        Remember the funnel of those estimates on the population of East Aleppo though? 250,0000 … ahem, 200,000 … ahem 120,000 … ok, so it was actually 60,000 but muh Russian airstrikes! Maybe listening to the London based/Salafi funded ‘Syrian’ Observatory for ‘Human Rights’ wasn’t such a good idea for the UN, who ended up having to backpedal substantially on those bs numbers.

        Meanwhile, about 650,000 of Mosul’s prewar population known to have stayed in the city after it was captured by ISIS. Presumably some of them will have escaped in that time, but it sounds like they were every bit as effective as the ‘moderate’ militants in East Aleppo at shooting anyone who tried to flee. So there will undoubtedly have been more people in Mosul by far than even the 250k fake news numbers initially reported for East Aleppo.

        Without doubt, it’s the differing treatment from the west which stands out. Where was the outrage at those civilian casualties from CNN? I’ve seen Trump compared to Hitler by American liberals for just about everything except the bombing of Mosul, which had half of liberal American godwinning themselves at the very mention of Vladimir Putin for nigh on a year.

        • Psycho Milt

          Where was the outrage at those civilian casualties from CNN?

          I don’t watch CNN, but I’d be picking they didn’t think the Iraqi government’s attempt to destroy a religious fascist occupation was of a similar nature to the Assad regime’s revenge on people who’d prefer not to live under an absolute monarch. Which would be fair enough, because they are different.

          • Bill

            Correctly picking that Syrian civilians would appear to prefer a democratically elected President and an elected parliament to a Monarchy…barreling straight into comment of twisted car crash wreckage. Oh well.

            • McFlock

              Democratically elected?

              • Bill


                • McFlock

                  lol 99/97% each time, too.

                  And yet it seems that more than 3% of Syria counter-votes with a bullet.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    But are the people using those bullets a majority?

                  • Bill

                    No McFlock. Neither 99 nor 97%.

                    From previous comments and arguments it’s clear you have nothing of worth to say about Syria. An echo of msm memes is about all you have. Maybe if you spoke with some of the Syrian refugees in town, you’d learn a thing or two and stop with that b/s.

                    Anyway, the turnout in 2014 was 70 odd percent with terrorist controlled areas effectively boycotting the elections. Votes could be cast at those foreign embassies that hadn’t been shut down by host countries.

                    Couple of things. If the turnout was 70 odd percent in spite of terrorist and foreign based opposition boycotts, and in spite of populations living in terrorist held areas being unable to vote, then what does that say about the supposed ‘civil war’ in Syria?

                    And if you or I lived in country under siege, would we not tend to vote for the incumbent in multi-candidate elections, even if we disagreed with them politically, given that any further instability would favour those who wanted the entire population subjected to Cromwellian era nonsense?

                    Or willfully boycott to send a positive roundhead message.

                    The runner up got 4.3% of the vote btw, and over 30 countries sent observers who judged the election to be fair.

                    • McFlock

                      2000: 99.7%
                      2014: 88.7%

                      You can believe those results, millions wouldn’t.

                    • Bill

                      In 2000 he was the only candidate and ~ 8.5 million people voted.
                      In 2007, it was a referendum to confirm him as president and ~ 11 million people voted.
                      In 2014 there were 3 candidates and ~ 10 million people voted despite (so we are told) every one wanting him gone.

                      Doesn’t quite fit the western narrative does it?

                      An increasing number of people confirming his second term in office in 2007 and only about 10% fewer people than that voting in 2014 despite boycotts, and daily shellings/suicide attacks and occupation of both city districts and swathes of country-side by salafists/headchoppers and millions of refugees.

                      Seriously. Go and speak to some of the Syrian refugees in town.

                    • McFlock

                      How does it not fit the narrative?

                      I, for one, am a great fan of the way he increased the population of Syria by 3mil from 2000 to 2007, the bulk of which seemed to be eligible voters aged 18 and over.

                  • Cemetery Jones

                    Foreign fighters don’t typically vote in elections for the country they’re being paid to invade.

                    • McFlock

                      Well, with winning margins like that, the ones from Hezbollah might. But either way it doesn’t account for the numbers. Much more than 3% are fighting for the various opposition groups.

                    • Macro

                      I think the answer lies in the fact that voting is only held in the Govt controlled areas. Rebel held areas don’t get to vote.

                      Syrians voted in a parliamentary election in government-held areas of the country on Wednesday in what they called a show of support for President Bashar al-Assad, while his opponents and Western powers denounced the poll as illegitimate.

                      The election is going ahead independently of a U.N.-led peace process aimed at ending the five-year-long war. Peace talks are due to resume in Geneva on Wednesday as an upsurge in fighting darkens the already bleak outlook for diplomacy.

                      The government says the vote is being held on time in line with the constitution, a view echoed by its Russian allies. The opposition says the election is meaningless, while Britain and France dismissed it as “flimsy facade” and a “sham”.

                      my bold

                    • Bill

                      5000 people exited E Aleppo. Some of them (like in Homs) did so under threat of death from the Salafists.

                      That’s 5000 from a population of ..what?…minus the numbers of foreign fighters of course.

                      Given that forces get concentrated (so more present by percentage of total population in a strategic location like E Aleppo), if we take the figures our media fed us about 200 000 residents being in E Aleppo….what’s that 5000 in percentage terms McFlock? Even if we assume all the women and children and threatened men of that 5000 are a part of the fighting?

                      Much more than 3%” as you claim?

                      Hmm. Not really.

                    • McFlock

                      Dunno why you’re going on about aleppo in regards to the election vs foreign fighters.

                      20k people voted against assad in 2007.
                      Ten years later something like a quarter of a million people are in arms against him. Unless 210k of them are foreigners, it’s a pretty severe drop in the polls.

                    • Bill

                      You’re being a deliberate arse here McFlock. No-one voted “against” Assad in 2007. It was a confirmation referendum. No opposition.

                      Turnout in 2007 was up some two and a half million from 2000.

                      In 2014, with some 4 million people having fled the country, and a boycott imposed by Jihadists in areas they controlled plus a war going on and foreign embassies being shut down, turnout in the contested election only dropped by about 400 000 from those 2007 numbers.

                      Anyway. That offer above stands.

                    • McFlock

                      2007 election
                      Choice Votes %
                      For 11,199,445 99.82
                      Against 19,653 0.18
                      Invalid/blank votes 253,059 –
                      Total 11,472,157 100

                      And the number of votes actually increased between 2007 and 2014. Even though the turnout percentage dropped by a quarter.

            • Psycho Milt

              Where I come from, a guy who inherited the country from his dad is a king, not a “democratically elected president.” And historically, kings whose rule was absolute got their rule termed “absolute monarchy.” So, yes, Syria is currently an absolute monarchy, albeit one in which the monarch likes to style himself a “democratically-elected president.”

              As part of that somewhat comical attempt to style himself a president, Assad holds elections. Which is meaningless – if he wanted, King Salman of Saudi Arabia could hold elections and be assured of an overwhelming majority (after all, opposing him gets you imprisoned and tortured just like it does in Syria). He doesn’t, of course, because he’s up front about being an absolute monarch, a level of honesty way beyond Bashar al Assad. However, even if he were to aspire to Assad levels of dishonesty and hold some elections to declare him president, it wouldn’t make him a “democratically-elected president” any more than it does Assad, or any more than it did Saddam Hussein.

          • Cemetery Jones

            Wait, you’re saying that the majority of the fighters in East Aleppo weren’t Islamists?

            • Psycho Milt

              I don’t recall saying it. What gave you that impression? If you’re conflating “Islamists,” ie the majority of Middle East Arabs, with Da’esh, who are religious fascists who tried to set up a caliphate in some parts of Iraq and Syria they conquered. please don’t.

              • Cemetery Jones

                No, I’m saying people whose objective is a theocracy may as well be ISIS if they are prepared to enforce those laws by force. I don’t for a minute think Assad is any good, but secular villain beats Islamist villain for me by a country mile.

                • So, if we just conflate general Muslim interest in having Islam as the basis of their country’s laws with Da’esh’s attempts to impose a religious fascist dictatorship, then the situations in east Aleppo and Mosul were near enough the same. Why not conflate right-wing political views with fascism and say the National Party might as well be the Nazis, while you’re at it? It makes just as little sense.

                  • Bill

                    Same people PM. No “conflation” required.

                    • That’s a truly astonishing statement. The number of people in the Middle East who are “Islamists,” ie who’d like to see Islam forming the basis of their country’s laws, is huge – in Egypt the military took over again because democratic elections produced an Islamist government. It’s doubtful a genuinely democratic election in Syria or various other Arab countries would have a different result. For you and Cemetery Jones to claim this mass of people are the same as Da’esh is just bizarre.

                  • Cemetery Jones

                    Oh come on, Ahrar Al-Sham, Jhabat Fatah Al-Sham, Nour Al-Din Al-Zinki etc. were the dominant forces in East Aleppo. They are theocrats, and not a benign kind by any shade. To suggest that these kinds of groups are in any way representative of the general Muslim interest is absurd. They want enforced Sharia, enforced modesty, the traditional role of women (confined or chaperoned) – they are the Islamic version of Margaret Atwood’s Republic of Gilead.

                    Then there’s the Kurdish factor. If these groups were so benign, how come they attacked the Kurdish zone, forcing them to respond by holding a hostile front for the duration of the campaign? Surely the Kurds of East Aleppo could have made a deal with them if they really were just moderates? And surely they would have desired to do so, if they were just moderates? Bullshit, they are sectarian holy warriors, and just because they’ll execute their enemies in a slightly less histrionic fashion to ISIS makes not one whit of difference if you’re in the next neighbourhood over from their fighters.

                    • Oh come on, Ahrar Al-Sham, Jhabat Fatah Al-Sham, Nour Al-Din Al-Zinki etc. were the dominant forces in East Aleppo.

                      According to Assad and Putin they were, yes. It’s even possible the claim was accurate, after Assad had spent years besieging Aleppo and killing his less-extreme opponents. The fact that the only people left alive opposing the Assad regime a few years after the start of the uprising were the toughest, most highly-motivated fighters because the regime had successfully killed or driven out all the others, isn’t a point in favour of the Assad regime.

                    • Cemetery Jones

                      It shows what we’ve long known: much like the Anarchists etc. didn’t flock to Spain in the 30s to fight because Franco was leading a terrible regime or because they had the people of Spain’s best interests at heart, but because they wanted their revolution, so too the foreign fighters who flocked to Syria didn’t come because Assad was a dictator or for love of the Syrian people, but to fight holy war against apostates and khufar.

                      The reason so many wouldn’t surrender is that they weren’t Syrian, they were foreign fighters. They turned a minor rebellion which would have been over quickly due to its lack of popular support into a bloody slugfest. And for the insurgents that’s fine. The uglier, the better. More propaganda, more radicalisation, more division and indecision on the part of those of us who should have seen that phase of rebellion for what it was.

        • Bill

          Without doubt, it’s the differing treatment from the west which stands out.

          But..but..Assad, who has no history of ‘bad shit’ being reported from the time of his first Presidential term in 2000/2001 until 2011, bar a HRW report from 2007 riding off the back of unfounded Iraqi government charges from 2004 that he was harbouring jihadists who were entering Iraq from Syria (not Turkey), you really need to remember (we all do) that Assad is bad. Really bad. Devil incarnate bad. Always has been.

          • In Vino

            Hmmm, I remember Assad as being portrayed as bad right from the time that USA decided to promote ‘Arab Spring’ fuck-ups.. Never heard much about him before USA decided regime change was necessary…
            Funny, that.

            • McFlock


              He was never really thought of as a democratic leader. He was just better than the clusterfuck they were planning next door, stabilising a complex demographic and political state in global hotspot.

              As soon as he lost control, he was no longer providing any benefit, geopolitically-speaking.

              • Bill

                He didn’t and hasn’t lost control.

                But nice way to side-step the whole demonisation angle.

                Anyway. The US wanted their claws on Syria from 2004 on-wards. (Now, you saying he ‘lost control in 2004?) And Clinton’s emails on the region should be required reading.

                • McFlock

                  I think you’ll find clinton had different policy objectives from cheney. Especially after 2010/11, when Assad lost control.

                  But of course he hasn’t lost control, Syria is a wonderful place to be, with pastoral hillsides echoing the calls of 7.62mm birds… /sarc

                  • Bill

                    So what were Cheney’s objectives that are or were different to Clinton’s?

                    And like I say (and this is on record) the US wanted rid of the Syrian government from 2004 onwards. In fact, I think there’s a CNN interview with Assad from 2004 where that’s brought up.

                    And no, Syria’s not a “wonderful place to be” ffs, and no-one has said that it is.

                    • McFlock

                      It’s a particularly unwonderful place at the moment because it’s a war zone.

                      It wasn’t a war zone when he was in control.

                      It wouldn’t be a war zone if he hadn’t lost control.

                      But he lost control of very large bits of it. Most of it.

                      As for cheney vs clinton, that’s empire vs actual democratic ideals having a place in the decision-making. Behind quite a bit of realpolitik, sure, but still in the mix.

                      Either way, we seem to be in agreement that Assad was thought to be “bad” well before Arab Spring.

                    • Bill

                      You simply haven’t read Clinton’s emails on the matter, have you? She wasn’t in the least interested in democracy. Iran and Israel feature large in her take. Syrian people are irrelevant (not mentioned at all)

                      Anyway. For every three discreet articles/stories in the msm portraying Assad in anything like the terms we’ve seen this last six years, and that are from the years 2000/2001 through to 2010 (a clear decade), Iand that you link to, ‘ll buy you a hand pulled pint of your choosing.

                      Telling you now though. All you will find is stuff from 2004 when Iraq was throwing groundless accusations about Syria harbouring some peeps from Sadam’s regime and Jihadists. And then you’ll find a 2007 HRW report that’s probably at best (worst) on a par with what would have been reported on the UK in the 70s and 80s before the Peace Process.

                    • McFlock

                      I don’t think I’ve bothered to ever read clinton’s emails on any matter. Some of the podesta ones I think.

                      anyway: PBS
                      The economist
                      Washington Institute
                      Middle East Forum
                      the New Yorker
                      the Guardian.

                      That enough for a speights?

                    • Bill

                      That seriously the best you have for the man who we are to believe is the devil incarnate!?

                      First link is post protests.
                      Second one (2002) – is about a visit to Buckingham Palace.
                      Third one (2003) – the accusations that high ranking Iraqis have taken refuge in Syria and about that providing an excuse for Democratic presidential candidate (Florida Sen. Bob Graham) to openly support war with Syria.
                      Fourth one (2001) – Dry and somewhat detached analysis on the prospects for reform in Syria under Assad.
                      Fifth one (2003) – claims that Assad’s a weak leader lacking “killer instinct”, but that nevertheless concedes – The two and a half years that have passed since Bashar’s rise to power in Syria have been relatively calm and stable.
                      Sixth one (2003) Illegal incursion into Syria by US forces from Iraq.
                      Seventh one (2001) Blair meets Assad.

                      So no, not even a stale Speights from “The Crown” on a Sunday afternoon there McFlock.

                    • McFlock

                      fair call on the first one,snuck through me google filter.

                      The second one opens “THE Syrians are unlikely players for the war-on-terror team, especially now that the goalposts have been stretched to take in their neighbour, and fellow Baathist dictatorship, Iraq. Aside from making pots of money smuggling Iraqi oil, Syria has long been fingered as a supporter of terrorists, keeps an annoying boothold in Lebanon and is also believed to store some toxic weaponry of its own.”

                      I would have thought that was quite a negative portayal.

                      The third one: immediately after the one-line point about asad being so bad Graham was against him we have the rest of the paragraph:”Already some hawks are pointing to the tantalizing parallels between Saddam’s Iraq and Assad’s Syria. Weapons of mass destruction? Check. Support for terrorism? Check. Repressive domestic intelligence services? Check. The comparisons go further: Both countries were ruled by tyrannical men who are not members of the ethnic majority. (Saddam was a Sunni who ruled over a largely Shiite country, and Assad is an Alawite who rules over a Sunni majority.) To top things off, Syria even has a Baath Party and a Republican Guard. No one expects war anytime soon, but Assad’s stupidity has put the subject on the table.”

                      So a direct comparison with Saddam Hussein written in early 2003.

                      And so on – the fourth is dry and detached, but the only reforms it thinks likely is becoming like China, not like Canada. The fifth openly calls his government “a coercive and violent regime”. The sixth opens with the US incursion, but you might read the rest of the article. Again, it’s not charitable. As for the final one, “blair meets assad” is a reasonable description. Although again it describes Syria as ” a country that is a dictatorship with an abysmal human rights record, and which is still engaged in fighting Israel by proxy.”. But you preferred the more sterile phrasing. I guess it’s the only way it could get past your blinkers.

                    • Bill

                      You seriously think those stories are on a par with the demonisation of Assad we’ve been subjected to these past several years?

                      Y’know, the guy who deliberately and casually slaughters Syrian civilians – by gas and bomb and whatever? The guy who orders hospitals to be bombed? The guy who deliberately starves entire populations? The guy who runs torture prisons housing thousands?

                      Curious btw. What were your search terms, how many pages down did you have to go to get those links, and why do you consider those sources to be msm? Some are, some (cough) “not so much”.


                      We know that Syria was a one party, democratic centralist state modeled along USSR lines – not exactly politically free then. (It now has pluralistic elections)

                      We know that along with Iraq and Libya, they were the last secular countries in the Arab world (all soviet/Arab hybrid governance structures and therefore “the enemy” according to liberal thought)

                      We know the war with Israel is essentially on-going.

                      And Syria withdrew its military presence from Lebanon in 2005.

                    • McFlock

                      So you wanted articles talking about how he gassed his own people before people in his country were gassed?

                      Sounds legit.

                      as for the search terms, I think I bunged a date range on “assad”, although at least one more recent thing slipped though. Not completely reliable, but filters it down to more manageable levels.

              • Cemetery Jones

                I dunno, the Americans were happy to cooperate on those rendition flights when it suited them, and the Brits loved having Assad over for a cuppa. As were the French, whose luxury shopping districts were always happy to see his wife which Bashar was hobnobbing with politicians.

                • McFlock

                  How does that address my comment about him being useful only as long as he was in control of the country?

                  • Cemetery Jones

                    I guess I meant more that I think they actually liked him and maybe even projected their own views rather than seeing him for who he was. In that sense I’m more just rounding it out that they seem to have gone from seeing him as nicer than he was to seeing him as nastier than he is. Which for all I know is how you view him too, I guess.

                    • McFlock

                      “Like” has nothing to do with it.

                      There were initial hopes amongst doves that he’d tend towards more democratic ideals, if not actually relinquishing power. More Jordan than Saudi Arabia, sort of thing.

                      The hawks are always happy to use any nasty arsehole who is willing to help them.

                      But everyone knew what his dad was, and what the type of state he took control of was. Like Egypt or Morocco.

          • joe90

            ..Assad, who has no history of ‘bad shit’ being reported from the time of his first Presidential term in 2000/2001 until 2011





            • Bill


              Two wikipedia links and one from the Guardian and nothing about mass detentions, torture prisons, assassination programmes, indiscriminate oppression…

              The stuff we’ve been getting these past few years, you’d never pick the guy had been trying to steer reforms through a (presumably) hostile and long established bureaucratic party structure – y’know, the likes of what Gorbachev confronted in the last phase of the USSR – with all it’s cliques and what not vying to promote their own agendas and/or retain the status quo.

      • Red 7.2.3

        Exactly it’s funny how Ed Paul doesn’t apply his own rules to himself, both Mosul and Aleppo are a stain on humanity, end of the day if you have to take a stand re the west for all its negatives vs eds team, the west win every time You sort of wonder why the eds of the world just don’t move to Russia as some of the more extreme of his ilk have, usually as a result of avoiding the law

    • Bill 7.3

      I honestly believe the propaganda is fraying. Badly.

    • greywarshark 7.4

      A country that can afford highly expensive killing machines should also be able to have rescue helicopters and camera drones that search for visible people, and have heat’ sensors wouldn’t work in 47degrees though. But reports come that nothing can be done. It can’t if there is no will to do it.

  8. Johan 8

    To Ed,
    “Funny how so many in the west can’t see the propaganda that is fed to them on a daily basis.”
    Why do you think that anything that has happened in the war torn hell-hole that is Syria or Iraq as funny?

    • In Vino 8.1

      a) that is not what he said was funny.
      b) he obviously meant ‘funny peculiar’. not ‘funny ha-ha.’
      Please try to put in a little more thought.

  9. Bill 9

    When E. Aleppo was being liberated from terrorists, we had condemnation plastered all over front pages. When the terrorists were given safe passage out of E. Aleppo in order that fewer civilian lives would be lost in the on-going conflict, the west screamed that it was a crime against humanity.

    Bearing all of that and more in mind…

    Patrick Cockburn on Mosul.

    edit. seems I should have read previous comments. Oh well.

    • adam 9.1

      Forget it Bill, no one here wants to admit NZ’s role in all this killing of civilians with a ordinance which Satan Himself would be proud of.

  10. Andre 10

    A good concise article on Dem prospects for next year’s Senate elections.


  11. Andre 11

    Chris Trotter at Bowelly Road and NRT clarify things nicely for commenters here that are nostalgic for Muldoonism: today’s Nats really are his true heirs.



    • In Vino 11.1

      Yes, just because Muldoon opposed Lange’s reforms, many here seem to see him as a proponent of good Keynesian type egalitarianism. I remember him well, and that is the last way I would describe him. The Clyde Dam legislation is a closer indication of his real nature.

  12. Draco T Bastard 12

    But enough about us…

    Probably work for the daily review pic.

    Or, perhaps this one.

  13. greywarshark 13

    Inner hollowness has cropped up as a term for what drives people to keep gouging away at the earth and each other to get more. I started thinking about getting a better philosophy soon as we are going to have to make a sea change ready or not.

    There is a drive to get more to make more profit, accumulate money. And yet this may be thrown up in the air on an expensive wedding, some major event or performance, or put into mining for precious metals, a new rip-off venture perhaps. Or the biggest fireworks in the southern hemisphere, an abomination while people are homeless in NZ and starving that so much money can be spent on a short term spectacle.

    Perhaps everyone should go into a retreat once a year and meditate on the amazing world lived in and the amazing creature we are, amongst other amazing creatures and plants, and get the feeling of appreciation of life for itself. Then go out in the boat or the yacht, play with the toys, but look at them as extras not passing amusements for the bored, those with ennui. (Where are you ennui?)

    Janis Ian had a song about people who sell out on growing up and venturing and living as an individual learning what you are, making mistakes and feeling lonely and having to find reserves inside oneself, and learning some empathy.

    Those sort of people generally are very warm and practical, and materialism isn’t their principal crutch for life. Our task these days is to find each other, and form networks to help us face the coming hardships. The rest will lock themselves away, Lost on an island separated off like Planet Key?

    I’m doing a lot of philosophising. We haven’t done much over the past 30 years and now facing the uncertain future, have to change our way of thinking as it requires us to decide on how we want to live; those who want to stay the same will eventually have to manage for themselves as best they can. There will have to be tight-knit groups who fend off those who want to latch on and use up resources without sufficient input, and there will be those who want to rob and destroy and they will have to be kept at bay. There must be something set aside for the outsiders who are needy, but not all will be able to be helped.

    We see the world’s attitudes to the African immigrants. Already they are receiving the cold shoulder, having had their countries involved in conflict, their homes, water and crops demolished, and unable to follow their customary practices to last through drought. They are mostly men, it is hard for women and children to flee and last through the demanding journeys to a safe harbour with more privation beyond.

    Inner hollowness is killing our world. We must try to maintain a soft centre, but still stay firm enough to cope. It is a difficult balance to achieve.

    • Cheer up, Grey, with some Eliot.

      The Hollow Men

      Mistah Kurtz-he dead
      A penny for the Old Guy


      We are the hollow men
      We are the stuffed men
      Leaning together
      Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
      Our dried voices, when
      We whisper together
      Are quiet and meaningless
      As wind in dry grass
      Or rats’ feet over broken glass
      In our dry cellar

      Shape without form, shade without colour,
      Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

      Those who have crossed
      With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
      Remember us-if at all-not as lost
      Violent souls, but only
      As the hollow men
      The stuffed men.


      Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
      In death’s dream kingdom
      These do not appear:
      There, the eyes are
      Sunlight on a broken column
      There, is a tree swinging
      And voices are
      In the wind’s singing
      More distant and more solemn
      Than a fading star.

      Let me be no nearer
      In death’s dream kingdom
      Let me also wear
      Such deliberate disguises
      Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
      In a field
      Behaving as the wind behaves
      No nearer-

      Not that final meeting
      In the twilight kingdom


      This is the dead land
      This is cactus land
      Here the stone images
      Are raised, here they receive
      The supplication of a dead man’s hand
      Under the twinkle of a fading star.

      Is it like this
      In death’s other kingdom
      Waking alone
      At the hour when we are
      Trembling with tenderness
      Lips that would kiss
      Form prayers to broken stone.


      The eyes are not here
      There are no eyes here
      In this valley of dying stars
      In this hollow valley
      This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

      In this last of meeting places
      We grope together
      And avoid speech
      Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

      Sightless, unless
      The eyes reappear
      As the perpetual star
      Multifoliate rose
      Of death’s twilight kingdom
      The hope only
      Of empty men.


      Here we go round the prickly pear
      Prickly pear prickly pear
      Here we go round the prickly pear
      At five o’clock in the morning.

      Between the idea
      And the reality
      Between the motion
      And the act
      Falls the Shadow
      For Thine is the Kingdom

      Between the conception
      And the creation
      Between the emotion
      And the response
      Falls the Shadow
      Life is very long

      Between the desire
      And the spasm
      Between the potency
      And the existence
      Between the essence
      And the descent
      Falls the Shadow
      For Thine is the Kingdom

      For Thine is
      Life is
      For Thine is the

      This is the way the world ends
      This is the way the world ends
      This is the way the world ends
      Not with a bang but a whimper.

    • Oops! Not as cheerful as hoped – perhaps some Leunig!

      God bless this tiny little boat
      And me who travels in it.
      It stays afloat for years and years
      And sinks within a minute.

      And so the soul in which we sail,
      Unknown by years of thinking,
      Is deeply felt and understood
      The minute that it’s sinking.

    • Better still, this and this, from our good friend Michael Leunig:

      There are only two feelings.
      Love and fear.
      There are only two languages.
      Love and fear.
      There are only two activities.
      Love and fear.
      There are only two motives,
      two procedures, two frameworks,
      two results.
      Love and fear.
      Love and fear.

      Dear God,

      We rejoice and give thanks for earthworms,
      bees, ladybirds and broody hens;
      for humans tending their gardens, talking to animals,
      cleaning their homes and singing to themselves;
      for rising of the sap, the fragrance of growth,
      the invention of the wheelbarrow and the existence of the teapot,
      we give thanks. We celebrate and give thanks.


      • In Vino 13.3.1

        I hope you were able to paste most of that, Robert. Good reading, but if you typed it all out, you have undermined my confidence.

    • Cinny 13.4

      Well written Grey, well written indeed, thoughtful words that ring true. I really appreciate your outlook and wisdom thank you for sharing.

      • greywarshark 13.4.1

        Thanks may we always have good games of ping pong here, words and thought back and forth, feeding the ball to each other and keeping it in the air never falling.
        (So poetic eh or something.)

  14. greywarshark 14

    What a little treasure of words. Leunig is special. I once had a ticket to a talk he gave and forgot. So it is good to have his perky words. And the other poem. I think you have talked about WH Auden. His words are from the heart too, and speak to any heart that can at that moment receive them. Wow it’s a long poem but I thought that these two verses are for the time.

    SEPTEMBER 1, 1939
    by W.H. Auden

    Into this neutral air
    Where blind skyscrapers use
    Their full height to proclaim
    The strength of Collective Man,
    Each language pours its vain
    Competitive excuse:
    But who can live for long
    In an euphoric dream;
    Out of the mirror they stare,
    Imperialism’s face
    And the international wrong.

    Faces along the bar
    Cling to their average day:
    The lights must never go out,
    The music must always play,
    All the conventions conspire
    To make this fort assume
    The furniture of home;
    Lest we should see where we are,
    Lost in a haunted wood,
    Children afraid of the night
    Who have never been happy or good.

    He mentions Linz in his poem.
    This might have been what he was referring to:
    The astronomer and the witch: How one of history’s great scientists saved his mother from burning at the stake
    Johannes Keppler in 1620 did this thing by speaking for her at her trial.

    The dramatic story of how Johannes Kepler saved his own mother from being burned as a witch is told in full in a new book by Professor Ulinka Rublack, which reveals the devastating human consequences of Early Modern Europe’s witch-trial culture.

  15. greywarshark 15

    I should have included WH Auden’s last verse to September 1, 1939. TS must be a lighthouse.

    Defenseless under the night
    Our world in stupor lies;
    Yet, dotted everywhere,
    Ironic points of light
    Flash out wherever the Just
    Exchange their messages:
    May I, composed like them
    Of Eros and of dust,
    Beleaguered by the same
    Negation and despair,
    Show an affirming flame.

      • In Vino 15.1.1

        +1 (From a lazy keyboarder.)

        • greywarshark

          In Vino
          Not lazy at all. You like all of us here have broken through the technology barrier and become slaves tapping at the coalface. It’s not so much the typing, it’s all the new apps and helpful systems that you have to fight off before they take over your life, read your mind before your aware of your thought and reduce you to a sort of avatar of yourself. Interesting thought.
          Now I did think that myself, didn’t I?

  16. greywarshark 16

    The neolib Gnashionals proceed with their plan to denature the environment and the communal society of NZ, and the belief in NZs as a special country with great attributes. We are just to be a bunch of mainly poorly-paid or disaffected unemployed living at the whim of overseas business while our natural and previously accumulated wealth is distilled from us leaving the essence of sour grapes for most, and fine wine for the minority.

    That is the attitude shown by the latest economic burble coming from the PTB – they are going to erect legal borders and separate areas of NZ into SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES. This name should be noted. (Incidentally this idea was one promoted prior to 1840. I think the new effort indicates the mindset that this government is returning to, bugger advanced enlightenment and respect for an equal democracy.)
    And the Local Bodies are apparently willing to go along and so sell us out.

    8:25 am today Thursday 13 July 2017
    LGNZ supports special economic zones
    From Morning Report, 8:25 am today\
    Listen duration 4′ :03″
    The idea of special economic zones which could suspend rules for the environment, overseas investment and possibly immigration is getting strong support from local councils.

    Up till now many of us have had a modicum of fellow feeling of warmth from our local government administering services and promoting the local economy for us, feeling an interest in our community and listening to what we want.

    They have sometimes been captured by strong local lobbies particularly from the farming community. But with some effort people have mostly been able to have a say and persevere to a better outcome or to stop unwise projects or plain rorts.

    But now LG seems to have drunk the Koolaid and we will have to fight our corner hard if they turn out to adopt this RW bastards idea. Watch this, the RW desire to destroy NZ as a country for people, is never-ending. The people who want to be able to have a happy life being people just living a normal life are not appreciated or wanted. Look at r0bs post today – https://thestandard.org.nz/nat-act-dont-think-poor-people-should-have-kids/
    Paula Bennett famous solo mum –
    ““I can tell you that they are completely fed up with these children continuously being born to completely unfit parents. That’s a step that’s right out there, and I can tell you there is certainly discussion going on around it.””
    The RWs don’t want you, or you, or……..?

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