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Open mike 13/02/2016

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, February 13th, 2016 - 102 comments
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102 comments on “Open mike 13/02/2016”

  1. Andre 1

    Is this really why marijuana got banned in the 30s? A prohibitionist bureaucratic empire-builder was about to lose his empire so he had to find a new reason to keep it alive, and marijuana was the most convenient new bogeyman?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-influence/real-reasons-marijuana-is-banned_b_9210248.html

    • Paul 1.1

      Yes -it’a an amazing book.

      • Pasupial 1.1.1

        I haven’t read the book, but the; Anslinger role in post-prohibition cannabis outlawing has been common knowledge since at least the 90s (when I became aware of it). I found the Lincata information in that article fascinating though:

        Harry Anslinger became obsessed with one case in particular. In Florida, a boy called Victor Licata hacked his family to death with an axe. Anslinger explained to America: This is what will happen when you smoke “the demon weed.”…

        Years later, somebody went and looked at the psychiatric files for Victor Licata.

        It turns out there’s no evidence he ever used cannabis.

        He had a lot of mental illness in his family. They had been told a year before he needed to be institutionalized — but they refused. His psychiatrists never even mentioned marijuana in connection to him.

    • One Two 1.2

      The ‘banning’ of hemp is a similar situation, involving the chemical companies who are poisoning the planet and its inhabitants

      People will recognize the names invovled

      • marty mars 1.2.1

        Been working with a mate growing hemp – such an awesome plant, and so wrongly maligned

        • Expat 1.2.1.1

          MM

          2000 years ago, China’s whole civilisation was dependent on the Cannabis crop, interestingly, today they’re finding the medicinal benefits through science that the Chinese discovered thousands of years ago.

          If it’s so bad for society, how come it’s legal in five states in the US and various other parts of the world, I would suggest that it’s a lot less harmful to society than cheap liquor and gambling.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.3

      Over the years I’ve read of many reasons why marijuana got banned. Racism and pressure from the cotton industry (hemp cloth is reportedly better and cheaper than cotton and grows pretty much everywhere) being the main ones.

  2. Tautoko Mangō Mata 2

    Short videos on aspects of TPP

    TPP and Sovereignty,
    While the discussion is from the US point of view, the arguments all apply to NZ
    http://video.thenewamerican.com/usnews/video/bill-jasper-christian-gomez-examination-tpp-pt-2

    TPP and The Commission
    The TPP commission – executive body of TPP, chapter 27
    Functions of commission reviews agreement, amends, establish the model rules for arbitral tribunals,

    TPP a living and evolving document
    more members in, plus more powers…“integration” and “harmonisation”
    eg harmonisation of health standards…
    http://video.thenewamerican.com/usnews/video/bill-jasper-christian-gomez-examination-tpp-pt-4

  3. Andre 3

    Y’all Qaeda rolls over and dies with barely a whimper.

    Bonus: Cliven Bundy, the Osama of Y’all Qaeda, is finally arrested too.

    http://www.salon.com/2016/02/12/dear_oregon_militia_men_heres_why_no_one_feels_sorry_for_you_and_rejects_your_mission_built_on_conservative_christian_rage/

    • joe90 3.1

      Lots of details here.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2

      If another Democrat, be it Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, is president this time next year, we can expect that this surge of embittered right-wing radicalism isn’t going away. If anything, they’ll be even more aggravated after the loss of their great orange hope, Donald Trump. That means this kind of incoherent right-wing rage at losing “their” country is just going to keep on keeping on.

      QFT

      And we’ll see similar whinging here from the RWNJs when a Left leaning government gets in.

      • Colonial Viper 3.2.1

        Except I think that populist rage in the US is very understandable and has very reasonable foundations.

        It is mainly centred around the working class and the lower middle class being annhilated.

  4. Tautoko Mangō Mata 4

    Bombshell Study Exposes Frightening Facts About Anti-Depressant Drugs & Pharmaceutical Companies
    Big Pharma tactics: includes video with Dr Peter Rost, MD who “is a former vice president of Pfizer, and a whistleblower of the entire pharmaceutical industry in general. He is the author of The Whistleblower, Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman.”
    Visible text
    This is the unprincipled pharmaceutical industry which is going to require PHARMAC to justify its choice of drugs!

      • Whispering Kate 4.1.1

        TMM – is it just me but I linked into your article and its a teaser – many people are on anti-depressants and will be linking into this as well – it just doesn’t say what the “frightening facts” are – everything but, it does say its dangerous for teenagers but again, why are the side effects not disclosed so people can make an evaluated guess. I do not disagree with you, big PHARMA are a devious corrupt lot but the article again, to me, is not very helpful and we are left not knowing. Most people accept there are side effects to drugs and if they need to take stuff will sort out what suits them best with their doctor. Good that you expose this though and most readers will not be surprised by this at all. Depression is a clinical imbalance in the brain and people who take these pills usually are in a pretty bad state so this is bad news really for them unfortunately.

        • Tautoko Mangō Mata 4.1.1.1

          @ Whispering Kate
          Research paper
          Suicidality and aggression during antidepressant treatment: systematic review and meta-analyses based on clinical study reports

          In the summary trial reports on Eli Lilly’s website, almost all deaths were noted, but all suicidal ideation events were missing, and the information on the remaining outcomes was incomplete.

          Conclusions Because of the shortcomings identified and having only partial access to appendices with no access to case report forms, the harms could not be estimated accurately. In adults there was no significant increase in all four outcomes, but in children and adolescents the risk of suicidality and aggression doubled. To elucidate the harms reliably, access to anonymised individual patient data is needed.

          http://www.bmj.com/content/352/bmj.i65

          • Whispering Kate 4.1.1.1.1

            Thanks for that TMM – I think I’ve read sometime ago that teenagers were having suicidal tendencies and comitting suicide on anti depressants, this is terrible. Kids need to be cared for and research needs to be done to combat this. People I know who are on anti depressants (adults) say it has changed their whole lives, they can live their lives feeling like they once used to. I can see a huge difference in them.

            I know that there are still a lot of people about who think, if you cannot tangibly see an illness – bandages etc, then “putting on some runners and going out and exercising” will be the cure, “buck up and get on with it” sort of advice. Depression has been with us forever and so has suicide, thankfully now for adults at least they can take something to balance out clinical imbalances occurring in the brain. John Kirwan did such a lot to advertise the seriousness of depression thankfully which has helped to change attitudes with Depression.

            • Incognito 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Not all depressions are the same and not all anti-depressants work the same way. It is often a process of ‘trial & error’ to match the ‘right’ anti-depressant to the ‘right’ patient; this involves a lead-in period.

              The other thing to note with anti-depressants is that you cannot come off them suddenly (‘cold turkey’) without expecting a (strong) relapse. Taking these drugs at the right dose at the right time is fairly important and something that people don’t always stick to (compliance issues are a very common problem with pretty much all medication).

              A combination of medication, counselling & support, and healthy life style (e.g. diet) is the way to effectively deal with depression. Lastly, it is thought that genetics do play a role in disposition to depression.

              • Molly

                I temporarily worked for SKB (SmithKlineBeecham) in their customer purchase department, when Aropax was being marketed aggressively.

                The strategy used to help promote sales was to allow the stocks of Stelazine to drop to near zero, and when pharmacies rang to order – say that Stelazine was out of stock and there was no confirmed production date, and direct them to Aropax.

                There were many calls from irate GP’s and pharmacies, due to the fact that the transition from one drug to another was a minimum six weeks – if not more. Furthermore, many patients were successfully using Stelazine, and their supply was cut off suddenly and they had no choice but to change drugs. I’m guessing the patents on Aropax were more recent, and they were ensuring the crossover of as many patients as possible to this newer drug.

                (Aropax (Paxil) was later found to be implicated in an increase in teenage suicide for it’s users, and SKB had hidden research papers which had these findings in order to ensure regulation.)

              • Colonial Viper

                Depression is a clinical imbalance in the brain

                Nope, that’s how drug companies want to characterise the phenomenon, mainly because the solutions that they sell are chemical ones.

                • Whispering Kate

                  What is the alternative CV – sometimes therapy no matter how long just does not work.

                • millsy

                  I agree with CV on this one. Depression has more to do with your life situation and surroundings more than chemicals in your brain.

                  I know someone who was on prozac for about 11 years. She was pretty much bedridden for most of that time. Then one day she flushed her pills down the toilet and started walking.

                  Never looked back.

                  Unfortunately it is cheaper for the government and the non-profit industrial complex it underwrites to give the mentally ill and chronically depressed a prozac script, dump them into a boarding house and pay them $200 a week, rather than actually help them overcome their depression.

              • Whispering Kate

                Spot on there Incognito.

    • DH 4.2

      Looks like they haven’t changed. I can still recall the treatment of the Aussie doctor who discovered stomach ulcers were caused by bacteria and could be cured with antibiotics. The drug companies did everything they could to prevent his discovery becoming an accepted treatment, they were making too much money out of the acid reducing drugs like Zantac that treated the symptoms but didn’t cure.

      I developed an ulcer after taking anti-inflammatories, a common cause I didn’t know about at the time & discovered too late. For over a year I was prescribed the standard treatment, they alternated between different brands as each would lose it’s effectiveness after about a month. A very cosy deal for the drug companies, they all had a bite at the profit cherry. Then one day I found a doctor who’d been reading about the Aussie discovery. He prescribed antibiotics and the ulcer was gone in a week… never to return like it did with the old treatment.

      This is one of the fundamental flaws with long patents. It removes a lot of the motive for developing new drugs. Why spend dosh on research for more effective treatments & cures when you can keep raking it in from old medicines that cost peanuts to manufacture.

    • Gosman 4.3

      Ahhh… no. The only impact on Pharmac is the potential extra costs involved with new Biologics that come online. But as you seem to be implying that Pharmacutical companies lie about the benefit of the drugs it seems we won’t have much to worry about if we don’t take them.

  5. Penny Bright 5

    So – why the rush in New Zealand to ratify the TPPA?

    http://m.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11588779

    Editorial: US elections take adverse turn for NZ

    …..

    But the rivals share common ground in a key area of economic and trade policy which, if it comes to pass, could damage New Zealand’s interests.

    Both men want to tear up free trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership which the US, along with 11 other nations around the region, signed in Auckland last week. New Zealand’s prosperity rests on the ability to get exports into markets with as few impediments as possible.

    Sanders and Trump alike complain that trade deals signed by Washington over the years have come at the expense of American jobs. This has been an argument against trade liberalisation all along, but the political consensus that everyone benefits from free trade has prevailed.

    Now this policy is under fierce attack, with Trump and Sanders accusing the US political establishment of opening up American markets without extracting equal concessions from trade partners.

    Trump also proposes a steep tariff on Chinese imports – a move which would invite Beijing’s retaliation. The implications for the global economy – and for New Zealand – could be profound. The White House race clearly bears watching.

    _____________________________

    Penny Bright

    2016 Auckland Mayoral candidate.

    • Gosman 5.1

      There is no problem with getting concessions on Trade related matters with NZ.

      • Indeed. And that’s the problem.

        • Gosman 5.1.1.1

          Not really. The Us can’t state that it hasn’t got the ability to send produce here because our barriers are already low. This means they can’t stonewall on these areas by claiming they will only lower their barriers if we lower ours.

  6. John Shears 6

    I see Admin has posted a long article about the history of the 1951 Waterfront Strike.
    Lots of detailed history but omits stating that the National Government which locked out the workers and brought in the Army to work the ships was led by Sidney George Holland who after being invited to join the war-time cabinet, left after only a short time and stayed out for the rest of the war.
    He was a nasty piece of work in my opinion and our present PM reminds me of him in many ways.
    Neither ever had to handle lampblack in paper bags.

    • alwyn 6.1

      Who or what is “Admin”?
      A link would be nice for anyone who is interested in following up the comment.

  7. John Shears 7

    Shortage of Medicines.

    On 2 Feb. my wife and I were only dispensed 1month’s supply of an essential , for us, drug rather than the 3 months supply that our Doctor had prescribed. The Pharmacy said they understood there was a shortage.

    Here is the official statement from Pharmac to pharmacies.

    Metoprolol succinate long-acting – stock shortage
    From 11 December 2015, stat dispensing was removed from all strengths of metoprolol succinate long-acting tabs, 23.75 mg, 47.5 mg, 95 mg and 190 mg, with prescriptions presented needing to be dispensed in monthly lots due to a manufacturing and supply issue.
    There is a potential lack of sufficient supply of some strengths over the next few months. PHARMAC anticipate that during January 2016 the 190 mg long-acting tabs supply will be exhausted and patients on the 190 mg long-acting tabs will need to be dispensed 2 x 95 mg long-acting tabs as a replacement. It will be important to ensure all patients are aware of the need to take more tablets than they are used to during this time and vice versa when reinstating the 190 mg tabs. Stat dispensing for this product should be reinstated 1 March 2016.
    Thought Standardistas might like to know. No reason for the shortage was given as far as I could see.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      Generic version of Toprol XL recalled

      For years, Dr. Harry Lever, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, has been warning nearly anyone who would listen of his growing suspicions about generic versions of a widely used heart drug, Toprol XL.

      Patient after patient, he said, would visit his office complaining of chest pains or other symptoms after switching from the brand-name version, made by AstraZeneca, to a generic product, often one made in India. When he switched them back to the brand — or to another generic — the symptoms disappeared, he said. Dr. Lever wrote a letter outlining his concerns to the Food and Drug Administration in 2012, and this year, he traveled to Washington to try to get the attention of Congress.

      Dr. Lever could not prove that the generic drugs were to blame. “You see enough people and you get a feel, but it’s anecdotes,” he said in an interview Monday. “It’s not science.”

      Now, Dr. Lever is feeling a sort of sad vindication. Two large Indian manufacturers, Wockhardt and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, have announced recalls over the last two months totaling more than 100,000 bottles because their products were not dissolving properly — therefore probably not working as they should. The drug is a beta blocker that treats high blood pressure and heart ailments.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/24/health/warning-unheeded-heart-drugs-are-recalled.html?_r=0

      More info here: “serious flaws” with FDA testing and approvals process

      http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2014/05/15/metoprolol-mess-toprol-xl-reveals-serious-flaws-with-fdas-generic-process/

      • John Shears 7.1.1

        @CV
        So there is no confusion medically , metoprolol is the generic name for this medicine also known as Beta Blockers.

        Here is the complete list of names used:-

        Brand Names: Lopressor, Metoprolol Succinate ER, Metoprolol Tartrate, Toprol-XL

        Generic Name: metoprolol (Pronunciation: me TOE pro lol)

        CV & Alwyn are entitled to have their little political discussion about Pharmac but I was simply trying to bring this shortage situation to the attention of TS readers.

    • alwyn 7.2

      There was a long story in the DomPost last weekend about it.
      http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/76439113/patients-regularly-face-medicine-shortages-as-new-zealand-struggles-to-secure-supply
      You will have to choose for yourself which side of the argument you prefer about the effects of the Pharmac purchasing model.
      It has been around for a long time and people have been forever complaining about it. Here is another story from 2008
      http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/features/740504/A-bitter-pill-10-drugs-you-can-t-have

      • Colonial Viper 7.2.1

        Are these the same rich pricks who refuse to pay more taxes to pay for our health system?

        Perhaps you should call on Key and English not to drop tax rates further.

        • alwyn 7.2.1.1

          I presume you are talking about the 2008 story. I only picked it out to illustrate what has been going on ever since 1997 when we adopted the system. I wasn’t advocating for those drugs.
          I think that it is completely impossible to provide ALL possible health care. I remember back about 1980 an economist I know showed that you could spend the entire health budget on providing maximum care for kidney disease. Every single cent. There is simply no upper limit on what health care could cost, and compromise is essential.

          Sometimes politicians, catering to public demand, get it wrong. John Key admitted recently that their promise of 12 month treatments with Herceptin, although popular with the public, was wrong and that there was no advantage from the longer period.

          • Colonial Viper 7.2.1.1.1

            He was told that by health sector analysts way back then so it’s not like he didn’t know from the start.

            • alwyn 7.2.1.1.1.1

              Yes. He is about the only politician I can think of though who admitted it.
              I cannot think of a single occasion when his predecessor ever ‘fessed up about one of her mistakes.
              It is a real shame that Little hasn’t learned from that. Instead he is setting himself up as the arbiter in the case of Pembrolizumab. Why doesn’t he take the expert opinions of Pharmac?
              He really is thick that fellow. Instead of learning from Key’s mistake in promising to go to Waitangi every year he is repeating the error.

              • Colonial Viper

                Yes. He is about the only politician I can think of though who admitted it.
                I cannot think of a single occasion when his predecessor ever ‘fessed up about one of her mistakes.

                ???

                Turning bloody mindedness and ignoring advice into a virtue now?

                Do you really think the PM has learnt not to ignore professional advice now?

                • alwyn

                  He may be, at least as far as Pharmac goes, take their advice in the future.
                  Of course it wasn’t a virtue. It is not doing it in the future and learning from earlier mistakes by yourself or others that is the virtue.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    OK maybe, however I bet you that the PM will continue to ignore good advice whenever it suits him.

                    We already know is attitude: if he doesn’t like the advice that he gets, he’ll just go fishing for another opinion until he finds one he does like.

                    • Ffloyd

                      Cv Absolutely correct.

                    • Expat

                      Hey CV

                      “OK maybe, however I bet you that the PM will continue to ignore good advice whenever it suits him.

                      We already know his attitude: if he doesn’t like the advice that he gets, he’ll just go fishing for another opinion until he finds one he does like.”

                      These are the very points we (at ts) strive to educate the unsuspecting voter about, but it’s a hard job to get through to some of them.

                      It’s not only Key, it’s the whole lot of them, from the $6B man McCully (Leaky Home Syndrome) to Bennett, Collins, English the double dipper, the list just doesn’t stop, there are too many “sheeple” and not enough people in NZ to recognise this.

  8. ianmac 8

    Andrew Geddis reports that amongst Republicans Trump has less than 30% support. No way he can get majority of Republican support in the long run.
    I suppose while there were 12 nominees the apparent support was just because the votes were spread over so many. As the number of nominees drops the Trump ranking will drop. Cruz is much more dangerous than Trump.

    Sanders has no chance of beating Clinton. The delegates and super delegates have him beaten before he starts.

    • Pasupial 8.1

      I wouldn’t say that Sanders has no chance, but it is certainly an uphill battle. I’ve commented on the superdelegate issue before, but this is a good backgrounder from today’s Salon:

      “Clinton has endorsements from more than 360 Democratic superdelegates, versus eight for Sanders. According to our back-of-envelope math, that means Sanders must win 54% of the remaining delegates to get to the magic number of 2,382 delegates to clinch the nomination., while Clinton needs to win just 46%. That is a huge advantage, especially when you consider that the 2008 Democratic delegate race between Barack Obama and Clinton was essentially a 52%-48% affair.”

      The caveat to this, as NBC notes, is that the pressure on those superdelegates to switch will be considerable if Sanders manages to win the popular vote in their respective states. But there’s no guarantee of that, which highlights just how absurd and undemocratic this process is. When Clinton supporters insist the electoral math favors her, this is part of the reason why. And it’s also the reason Sanders supporters aren’t wrong when they say the establishment is in the tank for Clinton.

      http://www.salon.com/2016/02/12/sign_of_a_broken_system_bernies_biggest_problem_may_not_be_hillary_clinton_its_the_anti_democratic_superdelegates_in_her_corner/

    • Andre 8.2

      A lot of states have winner-take-all primaries. So Clinton’s 15% starting advantage from superdelegates is not insurmountable.

      Superdelegates are allowed to change their minds. A large enough popular vote swing to Sanders might be enough to persuade them to do so.

      • weka 8.2.1

        thanks Andre and Pasupial for those more encouraging analyses. I’d been wondering what was possible.

        • ianmac 8.2.1.1

          Me too Andre and Masupial. Still a faint hope for Sanders, though convention and staus quo is pretty powerful against him. At the very least maybe a significant message will be getting through to management signalled by Sander’s support.

          • Colonial Viper 8.2.1.1.1

            The Clintons are partners with the banksters and the transnational corporates against the working class. That’s the starting point of this discussion.

            • millsy 8.2.1.1.1.1

              The biggest reasons why the GOP hates the Clintons is that they implemented 80% of their agenda — ie welfare reform (love to know what happens when the 5 year limit is maxed out), NAFTA, zero tolerance low and order policies, etc. The republicans cannot take credit because the Clintons swiped their core planks. And they are mad as hell.

              • Colonial Viper

                No, I don’t think that’s it, unless you are talking about the Republican elite/senior hierarchy.

    • Colonial Viper 8.3

      Andrew Geddis reports that amongst Republicans Trump has less than 30% support. No way he can get majority of Republican support in the long run.

      WTF kind of analysis is this.

      Trump has more support than the no.2 no.3 no.4 and no.5 candidates put together.

      How does Geddis think that any of them are going to get “majority support in the long run” when they are well behind Trump???

      • Andre 8.3.1

        I think you’re misreading where Geddis was going with that. Trump could easily win the majority of delegates with only 35% support and hence win the nomination. At which point the majority of Republicans would be very unhappy, which is the point I think he was trying to make.

        • Colonial Viper 8.3.1.1

          Ahhh. Trump will roll all over Hilary and win the White House. I think most Republicans will like that.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 8.3.1.1.1

            😆 🙄

            Now you speak for US citizens too.

            • Colonial Viper 8.3.1.1.1.1

              *Shrug*

              Happy to be proven wrong by you when Trump loses the nomination race.

              • pat

                assuming you are right and Trump wins the Rep. nomination do you genuinely believe he would be elected President ahead of Clinton?

                • Colonial Viper

                  Yes. Clinton’s record as a foreign warmonger, agent of the bankster class and blatant dishonesty over her official and personal emails, will all hurt her.

                  The main thing which will put a hole in the side of her campaign however is the fact that she represents the status quo political establishment.

                  In short, Clinton can manipulate the Democratic Party hierarchy to win the party’s nomination, but she can’t use the same tricks on the general electorate.

                  • pat

                    although it is very early days in the nomination process and I am unconvinced Trump will end up with the nomination, if it came to Clinton Trump option for president the fact Clinton represents the old guard and the status quo won’t count for as much as the fear of a lunatic with the nuclear codes….the American system may be bizarre but I don’t believe the majority of the population are certifiable

                    • Colonial Viper

                      I think the Deep State will swing in hard against Trump if he finally looks like getting the nomination.

                      Also, Trump supporters are not “lunatics” or “certifiable.”

                      As I said, Trump has been dead set against foreign wars during his campaign, and he will point out that Clinton has been for foreign wars, as well as assassinating foreign leaders (Gadaffi) and killing old sick men with extreme prejudice (Bin Laden).

                      In many ways, if you want to avoid a nuclear confrontation between the USA and China/Russia, Trump is the person to vote for, not Clinton.

  9. weka 9

    Interesting article on large dam failure, with a pertinent point at the end about how if we build something industrial that we are reliant on and/or that is dangerous if it fails, we have to have the capacity to either dismantle it or look after it in perpetuity. The article suggests that the age of the large dams is over and ‘other’ renewables are now more competitive, but I think we should be applying the same general principles to solar, wind, wave etc as well. What is our capacity to maintain in perpetuity in a post-carbon age? This is at the crux of “green tech replacement to keep our current lifestyles”, vs “let’s learn to live within out limits”. At the moment we still far to focussed on the former and not paying attention to the latter.

    On January 11th, the New York Times reported that Mosul Dam, the largest such structure in Iraq, urgently requires maintenance to prevent its collapse, a disaster that could drown as many as five hundred thousand people downstream and leave a million homeless. Four days earlier, the energy minister of Zambia declared that Kariba Dam, which straddles the border between his country and Zimbabwe, holding back the world’s largest reservoir, was in “dire” condition. An unprecedented drought threatens to shut down the dam’s power production, which supplies nearly half the nation’s electricity.

    The World Bank and other international financiers like dams because they seem to offer large-scale solutions to energy and water shortages. Kariba is just one of more than two thousand large dams in Africa; Zimbabwe, one of the world’s poorest nations, has at least two hundred and fifty-four. But maintaining a dam is expensive—and much less popular than building one. Even in affluent countries such as the United States—whose dam infrastructure is in sufficient disrepair to have earned a “D” rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers, in 2013—maintenance is often neglected; it’s not likely to fare better in impoverished, corruption-ridden countries such as Zimbabwe or Iraq. Dams can’t be drained, and dismantling them can be as costly as building them. It’s the trap of Industrial Age technology: once mechanized systems supplant natural ones, they must be managed in perpetuity, or else they break down.

    http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/one-of-africas-biggest-dams-is-falling-apart

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      an inability to properly decommission the dozens of aging nuclear reactors around the world is what is going to screw us.

      • tc 9.1.1

        It’s the gorilla in many corners about Europe that were part of the old soviet block.

        • weka 9.1.1.1

          “an inability to properly decommission the dozens of aging nuclear reactors around the world is what is going to screw us.”

          Is that an economic issue rather than a tech one?

          • Andre 9.1.1.1.1

            Yes, economics. And a social decision on what kind of risks are acceptable for the long term storage of hazardous waste. For example, the Yucca Mountain storage facility was canned partly because it couldn’t guarantee absolute containment for 10,000 years. In this particular case, it looks to me like the nuclear industry is being required to meet much much higher standards of long term safety than coal, mining, chemical…pretty much any other industrial activity.

            Personally, I would be in favour of simply cordoning off large areas around nuclear plants and leaving them be. The wildlife around Chernobyl is apparently thriving.

            • weka 9.1.1.1.1.1

              If the wildlife are thriving around Chernobyl why would it be a problem for humans to live there?

              • Andre

                Probably because humans get a bit more upset about radiation-induced mutations and diseases in human babies that they do see, compared to their reaction to radiation-induced mutations and diseases in wild animals that they never see (and that end up dying quickly anyway).

                • weka

                  Right, so when people say the wild life are thriving the implication is that that it’s not that bad, but that is in fact very misleading. It’s also anathema to those of us who think in systems and can see the impact on the ecosystem rather than a few dead rabbit babies.

                  • Andre

                    The lesson from Chernobyl’s exclusion zone (by comparison to the nearest wildlife reserves) appears to be that the presence of any humans at all (no matter how few) apparently has a more damaging effect on wild ecosystems than a small radiation load.

                    • weka

                      yeah, but we didn’t need a nuclear melt down to know that 😉

                      I think you are sidestepping my point.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Because of the extra harm that would do to the wildlife.

                “The net positive effect of removing humans from the exclusion zone therefore appears to exceed the negative impacts of radiation.”

    • Draco T Bastard 9.2

      What is our capacity to maintain in perpetuity in a post-carbon age?

      That is dependent upon our ability and propensity to recycle rather than anything else. Unfortunately, there’s a very good reason why we called a consumerist society. We consume without though for the future because consumption increases profits for the rich.

      • weka 9.2.1

        Very true, and it’s also driven at the production side, we’re in the age of planned obsolescence (bloody Apple are about the change the power port on their iphone to a new shape that no-one else uses including older iphones. That should be illegal), and let’s make things that break so people have to buy a new one. All that will have to go in a post-carbon world.

        We can probably assume that windfarms are both less breakable and have less parts that are intentionally obsolete, but I still think that there is an issue here particularly around manufacture and distribution and the extent to which we can get those techs up and running closer to home and in a more resilient way. How much of replacement parts for critical infrastructure are currently manufactured overseas?

        • Draco T Bastard 9.2.1.1

          (bloody Apple are about the change the power port on their iphone to a new shape that no-one else uses including older iphones. That should be illegal

          Yes it should be. Such things should be set by legal standard.

          How much of replacement parts for critical infrastructure are currently manufactured overseas?

          Again, wrong question. The question is actually Why aren’t we producing them here?
          And the answer to that is our delusional financial system that has been designed to protect and enrich the already rich. A financial system that is designed to turn the majority of people into serfs of the few.

          • weka 9.2.1.1.1

            That’s an important question, but so is mine and here’s why. If we want to get to a position of being able to manufacture and maintain our own infrastructure, we have to understand the lack of resiliency we currently have, both at the system level and the engineering audit level. This is in the context of shifting awareness as much as anything.

            At the system level, I think once people start thinking about what would happen if the filters on the waterpumps in their town’s water suppy system couldn’t be replace then the overall necessity becomes much more apparent.

            At the audit level, how much of our current infrastructure is currently dependent on overseas sources, and where are the particular vulnerabilities.

            We all know the story about how NZ only has 3 days worth of groceries in the supermarkets. After the Fukushima tsunami it was really hard to get parts for my Subaru for a while. But those examples are too isolated. When we have more stories like this across the board, people will be more willing to consider that we should be manufacturing more here.

  10. Penny Bright 10

    Where’s New Zealand’s ‘Code of Ministerial Standards’?

    http://m.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11588739

    Australian minister resigns for breaching code of conduct

    Friday, 12 February 2016
    The New Zealand Herald

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) ” An embattled Australian government minister resigned on Friday for breaching ministerial standards through a business trip to China, clearing the way for the prime minister to announce a final Cabinet reshuffle ahead of elections due this year.

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said an investigation found Stuart Robert had breached the government’s Code of Ministerial Standards through his 2014 trip to Beijing with a friend and donor to the ruling Liberal Party, Paul Marks. Marks made the trip to seal a mining deal between his company Nimrod Resources and Chinese government-owned Minmetals.

    ______________

    Penny Bright
    2016 Auckland Mayoral candidate.

  11. adam 11

    Interesting interview.

  12. Draco T Bastard 12

    How Big Money Corrupts the Economy

    After all, why do corporations and the super-rich pour money into campaigns and lobbying? Sometimes political convictions are at play. But far more so than small-scale donors, the biggest spenders are investing in favorable policy outcomes. Money doesn’t just give big spenders the chance to express a view or support a candidate; it gives them leverage to reshape the American economy in their favor. And as the richest have pulled away from the rest of America, the policies they want—extremely low tax rates on the wealthy at a time of record deficits, rampant underinvestment in our future, special treatment for corporations that are imposing major environmental costs and financial risks on our society—are increasingly at odds with the policies the country desperately needs.

    It’s about the US but we see exactly the same workings here through National’s Cabinet Club and other money anonymising entities.

  13. Tautoko Mangō Mata 13

    This sounds very dodgy to me. This occurred when there was a deadlock on cars, dairy etc.
    3 hours ago

    Japan denies snub of Canada in TPP side deal

    OTTAWA — Japanese officials say they believed they were also negotiating with Canada and Mexico when they struck a controversial side agreement with the United States on automobiles last year during the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks.

    They discussed that agreement with U.S., which angered Canada and Mexico, in a briefing ahead of a Friday meeting between Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion and his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida.
    ….
    he Japan-U.S. deal on rules of origin in the auto sector would have allowed a higher percentage of Japanese parts in cars in North America’s highly integrated industry. The fallout stalled completion of the 12-country Pacific Rim deal by at least two months.

    The Japanese officials say they were surprised to learn that they had negotiated a deal with only the United States.

    Mexico’s former ambassador to Canada has said the side deal angered the Canadians and Mexicans and nearly drove the two countries from the bargaining table.

    But the Japanese officials, who briefed journalists on the condition they not be named, said their government didn’t think they were doing anything to snub Canada and Mexico.

    “We thought that the U.S. represented Canada and Mexico,” said one.

    http://www.guelphmercury.com/news-story/6305987-japan-denies-snub-of-canada-in-tpp-side-deal/

  14. Neil 14

    Heads up to the admins – the site currently won’t load for me when visiting from a mobile device.
    Works fine on desktop.

  15. weka 15

    This is awesome, making scientific knowledge free. What needs to complement this is freely available education on how to be scientifically literate that is aimed at lay people (so not written by geeks, sorry geeks).

    A researcher in Russia has made more than 48 million journal articles – almost every single peer-reviewed paper every published – freely available online. And she’s now refusing to shut the site down, despite a court injunction and a lawsuit from Elsevier, one of the world’s biggest publishers.

    “Payment of $32 is just insane when you need to skim or read tens or hundreds of these papers to do research. I obtained these papers by pirating them,” Elbakyan told Torrent Freak last year. “Everyone should have access to knowledge regardless of their income or affiliation. And that’s absolutely legal.”

    If it sounds like a modern day Robin Hood struggle, that’s because it kinda is. But in this story, it’s not just the poor who don’t have access to scientific papers – journal subscriptions have become so expensive that leading universities such as Harvard and Cornell have admitted they can no longer afford them. Researchers have also taken a stand – with 15,000 scientists vowing to boycott publisher Elsevier in part for its excessive paywall fees.

    That’s where Sci-Hub comes into the picture. The site works in two stages. First of all when you search for a paper, Sci-Hub tries to immediately download it from fellow pirate database LibGen. If that doesn’t work, Sci-Hub is able to bypass journal paywalls thanks to a range of access keys that have been donated by anonymous academics (thank you, science spies).

    http://www.sciencealert.com/this-woman-has-illegally-uploaded-millions-of-journal-articles-in-an-attempt-to-open-up-science

    Shoutout to Aaron Swartz who died trying to make this happen.

    • miravox 15.1

      Super awesome! I’m doing a bit of work for a non-profit at the moment and getting access to journal articles as an independent researcher is frustratingly difficult.

      I’m very grateful for open access authors and publications, but this is amazing.

      • weka 15.1.1

        Let me know how you find it. I’m getting a few pages with short message in Russian that I assume say no results, but sometimes there is a download of the article?

        • miravox 15.1.1.1

          It’s great. I got that sort of message when I put the journal name in.

          I’m looking at papers I already have the references for – if you enter that (jnl/vol/issue etc) , it will bring a google scholar list and go from there… or if say, you’re browsing abstracts at a journal site, paste the url for the paper into Sci-Hub and it will open the article directly.

          • weka 15.1.1.1.1

            Yep, I think I got that. Mostly I’ve been able to access the papers I want (even the free ones, no subscribing thank-god). With some of the less mainstream ones I’m getting the Russian note that sometimes does nothing.

          • weka 15.1.1.1.2

            you had trouble getting searches to work in past day or so?

            • miravox 15.1.1.1.2.1

              Yeah – the last one I tried took a a few attempts, I eventually got in using the doi number – after 2 attempts with that I got it in the end!

  16. Penny Bright 16

    Bernie Sanders stands up to BIG PHARMA:

    http://usuncut.com/politics/bernie-sanders-blocks-obamas-fda-pick-over-ties-to-big-pharma/

    “At a time when millions of Americans cannot afford to purchase the prescription drugs they require, we need a leader at the FDA who is prepared to stand up to the drug companies,” Sanders said.

    “We need someone who will work to substantially lower drug prices, implement rules to safely import brand-name drugs from Canada and hold companies accountable who defraud our government.”

    Sen. Sanders’ decision to block Dr. Califf’s appointment to the FDA hardly comes as a surprise for those who saw the Vermont senator’s epic takedown of Dr. Califf during his confirmation hearings last November.

    During Sen. Sanders’ heated exchange with him, Sanders forced Dr. Califf’s hand, pointing out that since he supports the importing of fish products and vegetables from around the world, but not the importing of prescription drugs in Canada.

    Dr. Califf also refused to take an official position on whether or not he supports allowing Medicare to negotiate the prices of prescription drugs on behalf of seniors.

    __________________

    Penny Bright

    2016 Auckland Mayoral candidate.

  17. Penny Bright 17

    In my opinion, as an anti-corruption campaigner, New Zealand has a LOT to learn from the Australian ‘Statement of Ministerial Standards’:

    https://www.dpmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/publications/statement_ministerial_standards.docx

    ” …Integrity

    1.6. Along with the privilege of serving as a Minister, there is some personal sacrifice in terms of the time and energy that must be devoted to official duties and some loss of privacy.

    Although their public lives encroach upon their private lives, it is critical that Ministers do not use public office for private purposes.

    In particular, Ministers must not use any information that they gain in the course of their official duties, including in the course of Cabinet discussions, for personal gain or the benefit of any other person.
    …..

    ____________________

    How long would have Judith Collins lasted as ‘Minister of Justice’ if New Zealand had the equivalent of the following Australian ‘Statement of Ministerial Standards operating at the time she participated in three ‘networking opportunities’ for her friends and husband’s private company, Oravida when she visited China in her (then) Ministerial capacity?

    Penny Bright
    2016 Auckland Mayoral candidate.

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  • Deep concern at Hong Kong national security legislation
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  • Cleaning up our rivers and lakes
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  • Record year for diversity on Govt boards
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