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Open Mike 22/12/2016

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, December 22nd, 2016 - 146 comments
Categories: open mike - Tags:

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For announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose. The usual rules of good behaviour apply (see the Policy).

Step up to the mike …

146 comments on “Open Mike 22/12/2016 ”

  1. Carolyn_nth 1

    It’ll be interesting to see how frequently the TV1 and TV3 political polls are done and/or reported on next year. The thing about such polls, is not so much are the figures, as in how the journos spin them.

    • Cinny 1.1

      Morena Beautiful, what delightful news to read this morning about the polls. Isn’t it interesting that the media appears to be keeping hush about the polls. I’m a bit of a news junkie and haven’t heard boo about this poll apart from here on The Standard.

      On the first day of solstice nature gave to me
      A declining National Party.

      On the second day of solstice nature gave to me….
      I’m yet to find out what that will be…. 😀

      • Pedant 1.1.1

        I think National should be rendered in apostrophes – thus .. ‘national’.
        They are anything *but* national !

  2. The Chairman 2

    Labour lacks voter trust. Therefore, is it wise for them to run an election campaign touting tax changes to be announced after the election?

    Moreover, while Little reaffirmed his opposition to raising the retirement age, he failed to rule out other options such as changes to the current indexing (which links super to wage rates) no doubt leaving a number of voters feeling skeptical.

    With such low voter trust, can Labour risk going into an election while leaving voters with such uncertainty?

    • My gut says it is all there to lose for Labour if they get it wrong and I hope they don’t because that ratpack of gnats is not very bright and don’t deserve to be ministers imo.

      • The Chairman 2.1.1

        My gut says this approach (leaving so much uncertainty) is extremely risky, thus increases their rate of failure at the polls.

        They still have time to re-examine this approach, rebuild voter trust by telling voters what they plan to do.

        They are really pushing it if they expect people to race out and vote for the unknown.

        • Rosemary McDonald

          “…..rebuild voter trust by telling voters what they plan to do.”

          A perfect way to begin the day’s discussion.

          (And what that young fella Toby Morris was saying the other day on the wireless….)

          • The Chairman

            Labour’s menu is looking rather bare.

            I’ve been told Labour don’t want to startle the horses, well uncertainty startles voters.

            Expecting voters to vote for change is one thing but expecting them to vote for uncertain change is a step too far.

            Labour needs to bring voters along, not leave them out in the dark.

            • Jim

              The Chairman
              In general Labour goes into elections with detailed policy which is outlined on the labour website in the months leading up to the election, not earlier so as not to allow Labour light copying by National. Conversely National generally goes into elections with little detailed policy. Many policy changes such as the increasing of GST after the 2008 election are not anounced prior to the election. Pot calling kettle much!

              • The Chairman

                To date, out of the small number of policies Labour have announced, a number of them are lacking, therefore could and should be improved.

                Nevertheless, National can decide to adopt Labour policy at any given time, thus the argument for Labour keeping their powder dry doesn’t stack up.

                Until recently, National had brand Key. A brand voters seemed to trust, thereby that political appeal allowed National to get away with more or less as the case may be.

                Labour doesn’t carry such voter goodwill, therefore their approach must differ.

                • Sacha

                  “National can decide to adopt Labour policy at any given time, thus the argument for Labour keeping their powder dry doesn’t stack up.”


                  • The Chairman

                    It’s not nonsensical, it’s the reality Labour face.

                    Regardless of when Labour announce policy, National can decide to adopt it or elements of it.

                • Under Privileged

                  All I and my family want is a living wage, an adequate home, affordable doctors visits, some hope for my children, and a government that cares. Good by Blue team, you haven’t delivered, and your not capable.

                  • The Chairman

                    While National has shown they can’t deliver your desires, a change of Government is pointless if they are also unable to deliver.

        • Gabby

          They should wait until Bingles announces his policy instead of letting him flog theirs as usual.

          • alwyn

            That isn’t a problem that Labour has.
            Their real problem is their leader. He doesn’t have any real opinions at all on anything except that everyone should contribute to the Unions so that they can finance his election campaign.

            Little, Andrew bases his policy on a very simple system. Whatever National announce he will insist on the opposite. If National haven’t announced their policy he is helpless. His mouth opens and shuts but nothing emerges.

            Look at the flag debate. Labour went into the last election with a firm policy of having a new flag. When National went ahead with the idea he flipped.

            Labour went into the last election with a firm policy of raising the age for super. When Bill wouldn’t commit to the same thing Andrew flipped. He has currently come to the right approach but not for the right reason. If National were to announce that there is no need to raise the age Angry will do a double back flip with twist and adopt the other line again.

            The man is a fool. Probably due to his original legal training he has no principles or firm beliefs about anything. He will argue either side of the debate, based merely on what pays him the most..

            • Robert Guyton

              But what Andrew Little isn’t is a cut-and-runner, like Key. Little’s here for the contest. Captain Key’s abandoned ship, leaving his crew flailing wildly in rough seas; Bilge-water Bill at the wheel, fool steam ahead, damn the torpedoes housing crisis!

              • alwyn

                Andrew Little leave voluntarily?

                You really must be dreaming. Here is a man who has reached his 50s but who hasn’t, in spite of the good “rich prick” salaries he has been receiving for many years, apparently not been able to pay of his mortgage and who has accumulated neither savings nor investments.
                At least according to his Parliamentary return of pecuniary interests.

                Now he has got a job that pays him around $300,000/annum.
                Leave? He’s in heaven. He will be like Walter Nash if he can and will be carried out at the age of 86.

                • Andrew Little, Prime Minister till he’s 86!!
                  Alwyn! You dark horse, you!
                  All your previous cantankerousness, a front, a facade for your true pro-Labour position! You had us going, you ol’ scally-wag!

                  • alwyn

                    You do remember Walter Nash, do you?

                    Apparently not. Perhaps Andrew will emulate Walter. If he did it would make him PM in 2040 at the age of 75. He would keep the job for 3 years and then be dumped. They would even kick him out of his leader of the Labour Party in 2045. He would then revert to the back benches and die, still in harness, in 2051.

                    Possible? I suppose so but do you really think that Grant wouldn’t stab him in the back sometime in the next 24 years while Andrew remains Leader of the Opposition? If you do you clearly have more faith in Grant’s patience than I do.

                    • Walter Nash was before my time, alwyn, and I’m no historian specializing in the Labour Party, as you appear to be and it’s good to have someone with a long memory on board the Good Ship T.S. In fact, I’m not a Labour man, though I certainly enjoy this site. Younger than you and more forgiving, me. I don’t think I’ve ever big-noted Labour or her MPs, but I certainly have sung the praises of some principled politicians at times. You seem not to believe in such creatures. I’ve met a number of them and while I understand the problems with holding a position of political responsibility and making decisions on behalf of a varied population (I’m a local body politician) I am able to forgive those who find themselves in impossible situations or wrongfully portrayed by punters such as yourself (and others – sorry to see Stunned Mullet’s untimely departure from today’s debate 🙂
                      I didn’t like Key though. I met him personally and felt he was untrustworthy. From my point of view, he seemed to be deceiving us all. I reckon my radar is pretty sound. Misleading, misdirecting; they are signs to give a person a very wide berth, in my opinion. Sadly, we had to tolerate him for a long time. Gone now though. Very Good Thing.

                • Pedant

                  Grow up son. Mortgage, savings, and investments ?
                  Go travel in India. Broaden your perspectives ..

                  • Pedant

                    Alwyn .. +1

                    • alwyn

                      Perhaps you are right.
                      Looking at Andrew Little he does remind me of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi near the Wellington Railway station. Same haggard look and tatty clothing.
                      He is probably as intelligent as the statue, although not of course the real person.
                      I hope he has a better taste in what he drinks than the real Mahatma of course.

                    • Agora

                      Ad-hominem (i.e. personal) attacks will get you nowhere, alwyn.
                      People have long memories and Aotearoa has a relatively small politically active community.

            • Robert Guyton

              “Look at the flag debate. Labour went into the last election with a firm policy of having a new flag.” Indeed. A new flag. One chosen by the people of New Zealand. Not Key’s Personal corporate branding rag. You gotta admire Labour for winning that contest, despite Key having tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to waste on his attempt to impose his desire on us. And I suspect you do.

              • alwyn

                “One chosen by the people of New Zealand”.
                And precisely how was that going to happen?
                It would have been done in exactly the same way as was actually chosen. What alternative was there?

                Why do you bother to waffle on about it being “Key’s Personal rag”. Are you really as stupid as you seem? Key didn’t “choose” it did he.
                Probably yes, you really are that stupid. Anyone who thinks Little is Prime Ministerial material clearly must be pretty thick.

                If you can’t come up with an argument that at least has a little bit of a connection to reality I don’t think I will waste any more of my time on responding to your dribbling. If you come up with something at least remotely corresponding to reality I may give your education some more of my time.

                • Am I really as stupid as I seem? If I seem stupid, I’d be stupid to claim otherwise. Regarding the flag, Key certainly appeared to favour one particular option, guided the selection of it, promote it heavily through his comments and wearing it on his lapel, so yes, Key chose a flag but failed to get his choice accepted widely enough to have it replace the existing flag. What alternative to the process Key chose for the selection of a new flag? May I ask you a question in response that that, alwyn? Did you not read anything, any where on the topic of alternative approaches the Government might have taken to the choosing of a flag? If you were and are completely unaware of any discussion around the process, I’m not sure what sort of person you might be – some would say you’d have to have been living under a rock to have missed that debate, but as I’m not in favour of usingad hominem techniques in a debate, (though I note you have no such compunction) I won’t suggest that applies to you. I feel confident that you live in a house, though perhaps you don’t receive a newspaper and maybe your computer only sends, not receives.

            • Jim

              The press,national party people,and trolls like yourself always rubbish the current labour leader. Remember the nanny state cat call against Helen Clark and apologising for men’s violence toward women by David Cunliff as apologizing for being a man.This angry Andy thing is just one in a long line of personality bashing and to me shows that the blue machine must be really worried.

            • Johan

              To alwyn:
              The only fool here is you alwyn. You have been continually trying to knee-cap Andrew Little as leader of the opposition, just to voice your hatred for Labour.
              Bill English is hardly solid leadership material, I would give Little a head-start in that department.
              “He will argue either side of the debate, based merely on what pays him the most..” very immature of you alwyn.

    • greywarshark 2.2

      The Chairman
      I remember a few decades ago, Labour held conferences around the country talking to the people and asking what they thought was important. Would that up their profile, and bring them closer to a range of NZrs?

      • Rosemary McDonald 2.2.1

        In 2014 there were “Meet the Candidates” sessions in various centres to discuss disability issues.

        We attended the one in Hamilton and the one in Kaitaia. Notice was taken on who turned up and what they had to say. Looking back, NZ First fielded folk with the best working knowledge of the issues while some of us took the opportunity to put the National candidate in Hamilton on the griddle, and I understand some rather difficult questions were asked of Te Ureroa Flavell at the meeting in Wellington.

        I admit that many of us “veterans” went into those meeting resigned to the fact that it would be SSDD…having expectations of anything getting better in the near or distant future is asking for disappointment.

        If there were to be meetings such as you suggest greywarshark, they would have to be open to everyone…not just paid up party members.

      • The Chairman 2.2.2

        @ greywarshark

        There are a number of ways a Party can put their finger on the pulse of public opinion.

        Holding conferences around the country tend to only attract the truly interested.

        As well as rebuilding trust, Labour require to get more people interested, they need to create a buzz.

  3. Will Chester Borrows have a merry Christmas?
    His front-seat passenger/shot-gun rider seems to be happy enough.
    I wonder if anyone’s asked Paula for her version of events?

    • Jenny Kirk 3.1

      Paula will be like the three monkeys on this occasion, Robert G – see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil. She probably had her eyes closed while Chester Borrows kept driving into those protestors.

      • Stunned Mullet 3.1.1

        Waste of court time and money.

        Chester should be wrapped over the hand with a wet bus ticket give the appropriate apology and that should be the end of it.

        • KJT

          Another one who thinks we should have open season on running people over/ Assualt with a deadly weapon it is properly called.

          A young brown person who ran over someones toe is still in Ngawha.

          • Stunned Mullet

            Are you still [deleted] KJT ?

            Chester should have stopped, let the protestors make dicks of themselves and allowed the police to remove them.

            That he drove slowly forward and managed to make them make even larger dicks of themselves was stupid, however, no one was seriously hurt.

            So as I said Chester should be wrapped over the hand with a wet bus ticket give the appropriate apology and that should be the end of it.

            Without knowing the circumstances of the incident you’re quoting it is difficult to offer any comment.

            [I’m taking that as a face value accusation. And banning you for two weeks off the back of it. It should probably be longer, but hey, it’s the season of good will and cheer.] – Bill

            • Robert Guyton

              “should have” agreed, Stunned Mullet, should have. “Legally obliged to” is another way of saying it. “No one was seriously hurt”, you say and that’s a good thing, but “not seriously hurt” is no legal defense against assault. So there it is and Chester and those of us interested in the case, await the judge’s decision. I wonder if Paula will be required to give evidence; What Paula Saw – or What Paula Said, would be interesting to know. We can speculate, for fun.

              • Stunned Mullet

                ..and the protesters are legallly obliged to not block the footpath Robert…

                Don’t you thing the courts have better things to waste their time on ?

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Let’s face it, it just wouldn’t be fair to expect a National MP to show some personal responsibility, now would it: far better to have some Stunned Lickspittle minimise and deflect instead.

                • There was a consequence for the protester (injured foot) and there should be one for Chester as well – the judge will decide. Better things for the courts to do? No doubt. Many cases would fall into that category, however, the courts are there for the purpose of issues great and small. This is a case that interests me and others. If you have no interest in the issue, perhaps you could concern yourself with those “better things”, Stunned.

      • alwyn 3.1.2

        Politicians are like that.
        Remember the former Labour Party leader we had who claimed she never realised that he car night, just might, have been travelling at about twice the speed limit?
        Concentrating on important papers she said. The other MP present said he was close to terror at the speed they were travelling.

        • Robert Guyton

          The other MP wasn’t concentrating on important papers, plus, he was not a cool-as-a-cucumber Prime Minister.
          In any case, alwyn-of-the-long-and-bitter-memory, that was then, this is now. Chester was at the wheel and can’t claim to be “concentrating on important papers”…can he? Maybe that’s his defense! Or perhaps Paula had just dropped the “Key’s doing a runner and I’m gunna be Deputy” bombshell and he lost control of his foot.

          • alwyn

            Yes, it was a long time ago. It is of course just as long since we had a competent leader of the Labour Party.
            Keep the faith brother. Someday those glory years will return.
            I’m not going to hold my breath while I wait for them though.

            • Robert Guyton

              I thought, judging by some of your blue-faced comments, that you were.

            • Johan

              Why has Key been labelled a popular leader and what has he really done for New Zealand? Probably bugger all!

              • Agora

                People justified Hitler by saying he had them in some mystical thrall. Key projected confidence, that’s all. I could be more direct but I would probably get banned from this forum.

  4. Eyes closed and squealing? I doubt it. She’s no shrinking violet. She’d have been egging Chester on. Whatever it was she said, she’ll be keeping it close to her Chest.

  5. Radio blearing Baubles Bangles and Beads,–heard nothing, your honor.

  6. Brigid 6


    “A French court on Monday convicted International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde of “negligence” for her role in a controversial €400 million payout to a French tycoon in 2008 while she was finance minister.

    The Court of Justice did not hand down a sentence, a decision welcomed by her lawyer, Patrick Maisonneuve, as a “partial” victory.
    “We wanted a complete acquittal, instead we got a partial one,” said Maisonneuve. “The court has decided not to penalise her – in fact, the court even decided this should not go on Madame Lagarde’s criminal record.”

    The executive board representing the IMF’s 189 member countries reaffirmed its full confidence in Lagarde’s ability to lead the crisis lender, hours after the verdict was issued.

    Media in France seized on the guilty-without-punishment verdict, voicing indignation in editorials Tuesday morning. In the left-leaning daily Libération, Laurent Joffrin wrote, “The ordinary person answerable to the law, less apt to be handled with kid gloves, will draw from this the notion that the ordinary fellow, who doesn’t enjoy an ‘international reputation’, to quote the decision, will not be able to benefit from similar indulgence.””

    “…will not be able to benefit from similar indulgence.” Indeed!

    • Wensleydale 6.1

      Having influential friends makes all the difference. It’s nice to be reassured that justice isn’t blind, just mentally defective.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1

        Have we ever got justice from our justice system?

        This letting the rich and famous off while hammering the poor has been going on for a long time.

  7. Draco T Bastard 9

    Celebrity isn’t just harmless fun – it’s the smiling face of the corporate machine

    The rise of celebrity culture did not happen by itself. It has long been cultivated by advertisers, marketers and the media. And it has a function. The more distant and impersonal corporations become, the more they rely on other people’s faces to connect them to their customers.

    Corporation means body; capital means head. But corporate capital has neither head nor body. It is hard for people to attach themselves to a homogenised franchise owned by a hedge fund whose corporate identity consists of a filing cabinet in Panama City. So the machine needs a mask. It must wear the face of someone we see as often as we see our next-door neighbours. It is pointless to ask what Kim Kardashian does to earn her living: her role is to exist in our minds. By playing our virtual neighbour, she induces a click of recognition on behalf of whatever grey monolith sits behind her this week.

    Why do people become obsessed with others in the MSM? Why do they allow themselves to be so overtly manipulated?

    • Paul 9.1

      Monbiot is one of my favourite writers.

      Here’s my list of commentators I enjoy.
      I’d love to hear other people’s suggestions….

      New Zealand
      Rachel Stewart
      Bryan Bruce
      Rod Oram
      Frank Macskasy
      Laila Harré
      John Minto

      Robert Fisk
      John PIlger
      George Monbiot
      George Galloway
      Owen Jones
      Patrick Cockburn
      Peter Hitchens ( my right wing entry)

      • Nick 9.1.1

        Jimmy Dore on YouTube I enjoy.

      • Carolyn_nth 9.1.2

        So there aren’t any international women commentators of note?

        I’d also include Jane Kelsey & Sue Bradford in NZ.

        And Naomi Klein internationally.

        Probably some others, too.

        oh, yeah – Morgan Godfery…

        tired this evening.

        and don’t really want to add some sort of celebrity worship of the above.

    • Siobhan 9.2


      Not wishing to derail the conversation;)

      For myself not a day goes by where I don’t question the ‘why’ of the masses. If its any consolation the existence of Bernie, Corbyn and Brexit (oh God, and Trump) are the first real cracks in the Manufacturing of Consent in the ‘West’.

    • Carolyn_nth 9.3

      Before celebrity culture, there was the Star system – Hollywood stars also performed a role within capitalism from the 1920s -1950s/60s.

      They were larger than life, glamorous fronts for US capitalist culture of individualism, the US dream, consumer products, and allegedly an egalitarian culture where individuals could speak out about their concerns. They were part of a magical world on the big screen, that took people out of their everyday lives and worries.

      Celebrity culture arose with shifts in both capitalism (to neoliberalism and corporate transnational dominance) and media/communications technologies.

      Celebrities appear on small screens, and started to arise in the 1980s with video technologies – where everyone could own movies in their own homes.

      Celebrities inhabit more of our everyday world, and are part of more interactive communications – people can phone/txt in their votes for reality TV celebs. And the rise of mobile technologies, and social media, shifted the celebrity culture even more into people’s everyday lives.

      I think the percentages of cultural coverage quoted, comparing early & later 20th century with 21st century, are misleading. Media and communications had changed. Late 20th century and 21st century media and communications saturate our lives in ways they never did earlier in the 20th century.

      Both Hollywood stars of past times, and more recent celebrity culture, sell a version of capitalism to the general population – albeit different versions.

  8. Rosemary McDonald 10

    The day is fast approaching when Hamilton and Auckland will be joined in a vast, sprawling megalopolis.

    Hamilton City Council has just released it’s Housing Accord…a la Auckland and Tauranga….http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/87821424/hamilton-signs-housing-accord-with-government

    …with the promise to free up more land for development and fast track consents.

    There may even be something in there to give hope to those seeking affordable housing….cue, Tui slogan.

    So, while huge tracts of fertile Waikato farm land is being subsumed into housing expansion, with the very real possibility that these developments will join up with the huge tracts of fertile South Auckland horticultural land also being converted….will the new inhabitants of these housing areas have the best vegetable gardens in New Zealand?

    There may very well be a silver lining here….

  9. Rosemary McDonald 11

    And from the ‘nothing better to do with their time’ file…our Friend Wayne, you know,
    Wayne ‘New Zealand’s never been in better shape’ Mapp is participating in a belated conversation over on Kiwibog about the Legatum Institute report putting NZ at the top of the most prosperous nation pile.

    And obviously because the discussion over on Kiwibog is so predictably formulaic, Friend Wayne has to share with the Kiwiboggers what Standardnistas are thinking about the economic state of the nation.


    I guess he thinks more of this site than I thought.

    • Paul 11.1

      ‘Legatum Limited, also known as Legatum, is a private investment firm headquartered in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. With a long-term perspective, Legatum invests proprietary capital in global capital markets.
      The Legatum Institute Foundation was established in 2007 as an independent non-partisan charitable public policy think-tank that seeks to understand what drives and restrains national success and individual flourishing. ‘

      So an extreme neo-liberal think-tank reckons we are great.

      We should be worried, not flattered.

      Pity the corporate media does not do a back check on these dodgy organisations.

      No wonder people don’t trust the msm any more.

    • KJT 11.2

      Notice bullshit Wayne actually starts by talking about GDP per capita, where we have got way behind Australia since our 80’s “reforms.

      But he fudges by using total GDP as an indication of our gains over Australia. As this is the result of immigration earthquakes and housing speculation. It is nothing to be proud of.

    • Jilly Bee 11.3

      Out of curiosity I had a look at Kiwiblog, held my nose and read the preceding comments to Wayne Mapp’s contribution. My initial reaction to these were ‘Wow, just wow’ – the ‘names’ of some of the commenters, to me are simply sickening and their comments are obviously par for the course of a blog of that nature. The vitriol, hostility, and contempt towards comments from those who vote other than for Act/National, unions and their members, women (including of course Helen Clark – still after all this time) was quite mind blowing and any moderate comments disagreeing with the theme got the big thumbs down. I felt quite sullied after a few minutes and got out of there. I realise that some of TS commenters are pretty robust at times but the clear majority are sensible and thought provoking. I noticed that a few of the commenters have cropped up on other blogs (including TS), I sometimes read and while they are forthright in their views they are not in the same league as the bile they feel at liberty to spew forth over at KB.

      • Rosemary McDonald 11.3.1

        Yep, Farrar’s little cesspit of barely veiled hate -speechers is an eye opener alright.

        Kiwibog, the home of the always, always right.

        It’s almost as if Farrar has taken it upon himself to keep hate alive.

        I think that actually there is Farrar, his disabled person hating mate Garrett and our mutual friend Wayne Mapp who are actually real individuals. The rest, I’m pretty sure are made up personas that enable Farrar to really let down what’s left of his hair on full noise slander and slagging.

        I could be wrong.

        Now watch one of the Standard mods step in and give me a ticking off for bald shaming. 😉

  10. Paul 12

    Peter Hitchens on Syria.
    Listen from 1:37:40


    • Paul 12.1

      And more from Hitchens.

      Peter Hitchens argues for Aleppo and Mosul as equivalent, says terrorists are being defeated in both.

      “To me the extraordinary thing about this [the events in eastern Aleppo City] is the attitude we have towards it. We still take a ‘something must be done’ view of Aleppo, when in fact what is happening is that the very, very nasty al-Nusra Front—the kind of people who a few years ago we were denouncing as al-Qaeda and regarding as hopelessly impossible Islamists—are being defeated. And that city [Aleppo] is finally going to come to the point where there will at least be peace. The only mercy in war is a swift victory and there hasn’t been a swift victory. But after seven—nearly seven—years of war in Syria it looks as if we might be reaching the point where Saudi Arabia, and us [Britain], and the French are going—and the Americans—are going to give up trying to overthrow a government, and people can at last begin to rebuild the country. …

      Our sources for this [that the pro-Assad coalition is systematically destroying civilian infrastructure] are people inside eastern Aleppo. There hasn’t, as far as I know, been a single, independent, Western journalist in eastern Aleppo. We rely entirely on propaganda sources, on pictures which always show wounded children being carried by noble, unarmed men in heaps of rubble. And we rely on this and we take it as read. You never see any of this kind of reporting from Mosul or from Fallujah, where similar things have happened, which have been done by our side. This blackening of the Russians just seems to me to be particularly ridiculous. The thing is nearly over. We should be pleased at least that they can start rebuilding.”

      The reality is that al-Qaeda in Syria, now rebranded as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS) and ostensibly severed from al-Qaeda, had at most 900 fighters inside Aleppo City when this assault began, about 11% of a total insurgent force of 8,000, which has always been dominated in this area by nationalists.

      • Paul 12.1.1

        Amid the bombs of Aleppo, all you can hear are the lies.
        Peter Hitchens

        An excerpt

        In the past few days we have been bombarded with colourful reports of events in eastern Aleppo, written or transmitted by people in Beirut (180 miles away and in another country), or even London (2,105 miles away and in another world). There have, we are told, been massacres of women and children, people have been burned alive.

        The sources for these reports are so-called ‘activists’. Who are they? As far as I know, there was not one single staff reporter for any Western news organisation in eastern Aleppo last week. Not one.

        This is for the very good reason that they would have been kidnapped and probably murdered. The zone was ruled without mercy by heavily armed Osama Bin Laden sympathisers, who were bombarding the west of the city with powerful artillery (they frequently killed innocent civilians and struck hospitals, since you ask). That is why you never see pictures of armed males in eastern Aleppo, just beautifully composed photographs of handsome young unarmed men lifting wounded children from the rubble, with the light just right.
        The women are all but invisible, segregated and shrouded in black, just as in the IS areas, as we saw when they let them out.

        For reasons that I find it increasingly hard to understand or excuse, much of the British media refer to these Al Qaeda types coyly as ‘rebels’ (David Cameron used to call them ‘moderates’). But if they were in any other place in the world, including Birmingham or Belmarsh, they would call them extremists, jihadis, terrorists and fanatics. One of them, Abu Sakkar, famously cut out and sank his teeth into the heart of a fallen enemy, while his comrades cheered. This is a checked and verified fact, by the way.

        Sakkar later confirmed it to the BBC, when Western journalists still had contact with these people, and there is film of it if you care to watch. There is also film of a Syrian ‘rebel’ group,

        Nour al-din al Zenki, beheading a 12-year-old boy called Abdullah Issa. They smirk a lot. It is on the behalf of these ‘moderates’ that MPs staged a wholly one-sided debate last week, and on their behalf that so many people have been emoting equally one-sidedly over alleged massacres and supposed war crimes by Syrian and Russian troops – for which I have yet to see a single piece of independent, checkable evidence.

        When I used to travel a lot in the communist world, I especially hated the fact that almost every official announcement was a conscious lie, taunting the poor subjugated people with their powerlessness to challenge it.

        I would spend ages twiddling dials and shifting aerials to pick up the BBC World Service on my short-wave set – ‘the truth, read by gentlemen’ – because it refreshed the soul just to hear it. These days the state-sponsored lies have spread to my own country, and to the BBC, and I tell the truth as loudly as I can, simply because I cannot hear anyone else speaking it. If these lies go unchallenged, they will be the basis of some grave wrong yet to come.

        Read the whole article here.

        Amid the bombs of Aleppo, all you can hear are the lies

        • Paul

          So let’s review the situation….

          The following independent journalists have all questioned the propaganda being disseminated by the mainstream western media about Aleppo.

          Patrick Cockburn
          Peter Hitchens
          Robert Fisk
          John Pilger
          Peter Oborne
          Eva Bartlett

          Yet pm, Jenny, Peter Swift and others on this site disagree with them.
          What do they know that the 6 journalists above do not know?

          • Psycho Milt

            Peter Hitchens is a right-wing authoritarian (who would voluntarily describe themselves as a “Burkean conservative,” for fuck’s sake?) who works for the Daily Mail, so if you’re quoting him you should maybe re-think what you’re doing. Eva Bartlett is a Syrian regime shill. John Pilger’s a has-been with an obsession that everything bad that happens is somehow the work of the US government. The others actually are proper journalists but don’t appear to share your enthusiasm for the Assad regime.

            Also, you’re arguing from authority again. It doesn’t become less of a logical fallacy the more it’s repeated, you know.

            • Paul

              There’s more propaganda than news coming out of Aleppo this week
              The foreign media has allowed – through naivety or self-interest – people who could only operate with the permission of al-Qaeda-type groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham to dominate the news agenda.

              Patrick Cockburn

            • Paul

              There is more than one truth to tell in the heartbreaking story of Aleppo

              But it’s time to tell the other truth: that many of the “rebels” whom we in the West have been supporting – and which our preposterous Prime Minister Theresa May indirectly blessed when she grovelled to the Gulf head-choppers last week – are among the cruellest and most ruthless of fighters in the Middle East. And while we have been tut-tutting at the frightfulness of Isis during the siege of Mosul (an event all too similar to Aleppo, although you wouldn’t think so from reading our narrative of the story), we have been willfully ignoring the behaviour of the rebels of Aleppo.

              Robert Fisk


            • Paul

              For the past few weeks, British news-papers have been informing their readers about two contrasting battles in the killing grounds of the Middle East. One is Mosul, in northern Iraq, where western reporters are accompanying an army of liberation as it frees a joyful population from terrorist control. The other concerns Aleppo, just a few hundred miles to the west. This, apparently, is the exact opposite. Here, a murderous dictator, hellbent on destruction, is waging war on his own people.

              Both these narratives contain strong elements of truth. There is no question that President Assad and his Russian allies have committed war crimes, and we can all agree that Mosul will be far better off without Isis. Nevertheless, the situations in Mosul and Aleppo are fundamentally identical. In both cases, forces loyal to an internationally recognised government are attacking well-populated cities, with the aid of foreign air power. These cities are under the control of armed groups or terrorists, who are holding a proportion of their population hostage.

              A further double standard concerns the reporting of Russian and Syrian atrocities. Much has — rightly — been made of the so-called barrel bombs dropped on Aleppo by the Russians. Yet rebel commanders in eastern Aleppo use equally hideous weapons. Last April, fighters from Jaish al-Islam, backed by Saudi Arabia and considered moderate enough that American diplomats retain relations with them, admitted to using chemical weapons against the Kurds in Aleppo. This attack received almost no attention from the media, and failed to generate the faintest outrage in Britain.

              Jaish al-Islam employ a so-called ‘hell cannon’ to fire gas canisters and shrapnel weighing up to 40 kilograms into civilian areas. These are every bit as murderous as the barrel bombs. Reports in the western press have suggested that hell cannons are examples of the engineering ingenuity of plucky rebels. Few journalists have dwelled on the fact that these improvised weapons have been deliberately used to kill hundreds of Aleppo civilians.

              Yet another double standard applies to the destruction of hospitals. When I was in Aleppo, I interviewed Mohamad El-Hazouri, head of the department of health, at the Razi hospital. He told me that when rebel groups entered the city they put six of the 16 hospitals out of service, as well as 100 of the 201 health centres, and wiped out the ambulance service.


              Peter Oborne

              • And your point is?

                • Paul

                  You can’t work it out?


                  All 3 of these independent journalists have all questioned the propaganda being disseminated by the mainstream western media about Aleppo.

                  • They’ve all pointed out that the rebel forces in east Aleppo include some very unpleasant people, yes. Which actually hasn’t been concealed from us by our media, because we all knew about it before we read Fisk et al’s pieces on it. You keep quoting them and posting excerpts from their work as if they’d somehow proved that it’s actually OK for the Assad regime and its patrons to be carrying out indiscriminate bombardment of rebel-held cities, but they haven’t proved anything of the kind, or tried to prove it, and would probably be horrified that you’re trying to misrepresent their work in that way.

            • Paul

              John PIlger is a proper journalist by anyone;s standards – except yours.
              Here is is most recent film.
              The Coming War on China.

            • Paul

              Peter Hitchens may be right wing and he may right for the Mail. I disagree with him on most things, like George Galloway does.
              However, he is not an establishment figure on several issues.
              A great deal more independent thinker than the establishment corporate media you get your ideas from.

              Clearly you did not watch this or if you did, you did not understand what he was saying.

              • Well, sure. Famous right-wing authoritarian Peter Hitchens shares your enthusiasm for authoritarian nationalist dictatorships. That’s not something to be proud of.

          • Paul

            Eva Bartlett appears brave and independent to me.
            And seems to have the authority of the United Nations behind her at this press conference.
            Here she schools a mainstream journalist about their biased coverage.

            • Psycho Milt

              Eva Bartlett appears brave and independent to me.

              That’s your problem in a nutshell. Someone who’s plainly a regime shill, embarrassingly-obviously so, appears to you “brave and independent.” It explains the risible propaganda you post to this blog every day all by itself.

          • Jenny

            Opinion is still opinion no matter how ilustrious the source. It pays to try and discuss the facts. Contest them if you can.

            What I find with most Assad supporters is that instead of defending or challenging the facts I put up, they tend to talk right past or simply just ignore them if it dosen’t fit their narrative.

  11. Draco T Bastard 13

    Found out why RWNJs always try to rewrite history:

    On 11 August 2015, the popular gonzo news site VICE published a story about a conspiracy theory surrounding the children’s storybook characters the Berenstain Bears. The theory went like this: many people remember that the bears’ name was spelt “Berenstein” – with an “e” – but pictures and old copies proved it was always spelt with an “a”. The fact that so many people had the same false memory was seen as concrete proof of the supernatural.

    “Berenstein” truthers believe in something called the “Mandela Effect”: a theory that a large group of people with the same false memory used to live in a parallel universe (the name comes from those who fervently believe that Nelson Mandela died while in prison). VICE’s article about the theory was shared widely, leading thousands of people to r/MandelaEffect, a subreddit for those with false memories to share their experiences.

    Yep. They’re all from a different dimension. 😈

  12. joe90 14

    Dude spent three years writing a chapter by chapter review of the book without orcs.

    Atlas Shrugged


    A Novel for the 1% (March 22, 2013)
    Atlas Shrugged is more popular than ever among economic conservatives, precisely because it offers a full-blown defense of rapacious, predatory capitalism in a time of vast inequality.


  13. Fisiani 15

    Celtic 14 points clear. National 14 points ahead. It’s going to be a great 2017.

    • mac1 15.1

      Was that an answer to a question?

      • Fisiani 15.1.1

        Celtic and National are always the right answer.

        • joe90

          Celtic, huh

        • Draco T Bastard

          So, what you’re saying is that I should embrace my Celtic heritage and go medieval on your heinie right?

        • mac1

          So the answer to a question about, say, had you been asked one of course, which no-one would do since you never ever answer awkward questions, house prices along the lines of, oh I dunno, try “Why are there insufficient builders, fisiani?”, then the answer would be Celtic and National?

          Well, bugger me. you’re half right. It is National’s fault that the number of apprentices has fallen by nearly half since 2008, and that this is al;so the answer to why there are insufficient builders.

          Yay, fisiani. At last a true answer. Well done!

          The other answer, Celtic, is also true because of the number of Irish builders brought into the country after the failure of the Celtic Tiger.

          100% accuracy, fisiani.

    • swordfish 15.3

      Fisi “Celtic 14 points clear. National 14 points ahead. It’s going to be a great 2017”

      Here you go, sweetness …

      Nats take a plunge on the Roy Morgan roundabout

      Compared to last Election, Lab+Green up 7 points, Opposition Bloc up 5, Right Bloc down 5. Nat’s lead over Lab+Green slashed from 11 points to a mere 2.

      Incidentally, my little Tory cheerleader, one minute your implying you’re of Noble Black African birth*, next moment you’re apparently a Catholic Glaswegian from Pollokshields , immersed in the Old Firm Rivalry (“See you, Wee Jimmy“).

      Whit are ye daein ya dobber !, Make your mind up, ya wee dunderheed.

      * https://thestandard.org.nz/john-keys-housing-announcement/#comment-959169

  14. Paul 16

    ‘Listening to the voices’: UK priest goes to Aleppo to ‘see what’s really going on’

  15. Draco T Bastard 18

    Globalization Doesn’t Make as Much Sense as It Used To

    It has been largely forgotten that one of the key objectives of postwar free-trade policy was to maintain a roughly balanced trade account—a goal that the country is likely about to pursue anew and that will likely affect its policies touching on not just trade, but investments, currency, technology, and labor as well.

    Which, of course, is why we have floating currencies but they’ve been set to float incorrectly being based upon demand rather than actual trade-weighting. This has resulted in a huge misalignment in the economy and such action as the 1987 attack on our own currency by Kreiger and our own John Key.

    Trade-weighting would have to take into account the actual balance of trade, the balance of payments, working conditions, the minimum wage and other factors. In other words, all the things that are ignored by present FTAs.

  16. Paul 20

    ‘Fake News’ in America: Homegrown, and Far From New
    Chris Hedges

    The media landscape in America is dominated by “fake news.” It has been for decades. This fake news does not emanate from the Kremlin. It is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry that is skillfully designed and managed by public relations agencies, publicists and communications departments on behalf of individuals, government and corporations to manipulate public opinion. This propaganda industry stages pseudo-events to shape our perception of reality. The public is so awash in these lies, delivered 24 hours a day through electronic devices and print, that viewers and readers can no longer distinguish between truth and fiction.

    There are established journalists who have spent their entire careers repackaging press releases or attending official briefings or press conferences—I knew several when I was with The New York Times. They work as stenographers to the powerful. Many such reporters are highly esteemed in the profession…..

    ……The corporations that own media outlets, unlike the old newspaper empires, view news as simply another revenue stream. Revenue streams compete inside a corporation. When the news division does not make what is seen as enough profit, the ax comes down. Content is irrelevant. The courtiers in the press, beholden to their corporate overlords, cling ferociously to their privileged and well-compensated perches. Because they slavishly serve the interests of corporate power, they are hated by America’s workers, whom they have rendered invisible. They deserve the hate they get…….

    ……….The object of fake news is to shape public opinion by creating fictional personalities and emotional responses that overwhelm reality. Hillary Clinton, contrary to how she often was portrayed during the recent presidential campaign, never fought on behalf of women and children—she was an advocate for the destruction of a welfare system in which 70 percent of the recipients were children. She is a tool of the big banks, Wall Street and the war industry. Pseudo-events were created to maintain the fiction of her concern for women and children, her compassion and her connections to ordinary people. Trump never has been a great businessman. He has a long history of bankruptcies and shady business practices. But he played the fictional role of a titan of finance on his reality television show, “The Apprentice.”……………

    …….Images, which are how most people now ingest information, are especially prone to being made into fake news. Language, as the cultural critic Neil Postman wrote, “makes sense only when it is presented as a sequence of propositions. Meaning is distorted when a word or sentence is, as we say, taken out of context; when a reader or a listener is deprived of what was said before and after.” Images do not have a context. They are “visible in a different way.” Images, especially when they are delivered in long, rapid-fire segments, dismember and distort reality. The condition “recreates the world in a series of idiosyncratic events.”………..

    ………..A populace divorced from print and bombarded by discordant and random images is robbed of the vocabulary as well as the historical and cultural context to articulate reality. Illusion is truth. A whirlwind of emotionally driven cant feeds our historical amnesia.

    The internet has accelerated this process. It, along with cable news shows, has divided the country into antagonistic clans. Members of a clan watch the same images and listen to the same narratives, creating a collective “reality.” Fake news abounds in these virtual slums. Dialogue is shut down. Hatred of opposing clans fosters a herd mentality. Those who express empathy for “the enemy” are denounced by their fellow travelers for their supposed impurity. This is as true on the left as it is on the right. These clans and herds, fed a steady diet of emotionally driven fake news, gave rise to Trump.

    Trump is adept at communicating through image, sound bites and spectacle. Fake news, which already dominates print and television reporting, will define the media under his administration. Those who call out the mendacity of fake news will be vilified and banished. The corporate state created this monstrous propaganda machine and bequeathed it to Trump. He will use it.


  17. Paul 21

    ‘This is a huge waste of taxpayer money’
    Families are facing a bleak Christmas in cramped motel rooms that are costing taxpayers thousands of dollars each week.


  18. Paul 22

    There is a complete Bias in the Western Media
    Press Conference at the United Nations against propaganda and regime change, for peace and national sovereignty.


  19. Paul 23

    East Aleppo residents tell of living under al Qaeda rule.
    Interview by Vanessa Beeley, December 2016

  20. Paul 24

    Eva Bartlett spoke in Santa Cruz, California on December 14, 2016.
    Her speech contextualizes and demystifies the mainstream media portrayal of current events happening on the ground in Aleppo, Syria.

  21. Paul 25

    The BBC has form on bias.
    Just ask the Scots.

  22. Agora 26

    Hey Psycho, that is a ‘Hakenkreuz’ .. broken cross .. any way you cut it.
    Symbols have meanings. It may be very ‘post-modern’ to play with them, but you will still get strong emotional reactions. I’m off to bed ..

  23. Draco T Bastard 27

    This is the type of manufacturing that 3D printing will be replacing first.


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