Open mike 23/01/2012

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, January 23rd, 2012 - 82 comments
Categories: open mike - Tags:

Open mike is your post. For announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose.

The usual rules of good behaviour apply (see the link to Policy in the banner).

Step right up to the mike…

82 comments on “Open mike 23/01/2012”

  1. Jenny 1

    As part of their legally required consultation with the union, the Ports of Auckland Ltd have released their rationale and their timeline for contracting out the Ports.

    Disclosure:

    The full document is quite long, so the following is an abridged version of this document. Missing are several tables, and other data on port operations.

    Ports of Auckland

    Contracting Out – Consultation | 20 January 2012

    Introduction

    • Contracting out is being considered in a process parallel to conclude a new collective to see it it could deliver the flexibility we require to improve productivity to the extent that we can meet our targets.

    The Rationale for Contracting Out

    • The need for PoAL to significantly improve operational productivity and efficiency of its container terminal and support services is now CRITICAL.

    • Contracting out its operations and support services could potentially offer PoAL a method for achieving the improvements in the flexibility and productivity it requires.

    • Using a contractor means that we would only pay for work that is done. When people are needed they work and when they not needed they could be working elsewhere and so would not be a cost to the Port.

    • When there are peaks in volume we would have more contracting staff present and when there are quieter periods they would not need to be here.

    • Contractors may also be paid for the volume of work completed to the standard and timeframes required, rather than the hours that are worked.

    • Multiple contractors could also introduce an element of competition to encourage contractors to keep improving services.

    • Use of multiple contractors could also introduce further flexibility by ensuring that we are not dependent on a single supplier if issues arise.

    • Multiple contractors could also provide an opportunity for each to learn from the other, improving standards throughout the industry.

    Restrictions for Contracting Out

    While remaining open to options, PoAL envisages that, should any contracting out occur, the Port would retain:

    • The direct customer relationship with the Shipping Lines and Line Operators

    • Overall management of the yard

    • Functions which are key to retaining our IP and competitive advantage.

    Where We are Now

    • PoAL has sent out an RFP (Request for Proposal) to a range of Contractors believed to have the required skills and experience to provide services to the Port.

    • This is a fact finding exercise. No final commitment has been made to contract out and the contractors have been told this.

    • The proposals received will be used to assess the range of contracting out options available, to determine if any would give us the improved operational efficiencies and cost savings we are seeking.

    • Staff and unions are also being consulted (this is your opportunity).

    • Through this process we invite feedback about contracting out and how it might help us achieve the improvements we need. We are also open to any other ideas you have that might help us achieve the required improvements.

    What is Next

    • We are expecting to receive a range of contractor proposals over next two weeks.

    • Feedback from staff and the unions will also be gathered over the next two weeks.

    • Proposals will be evaluated to see whether contractors can provide PoAL’s specific service requirements to the required standard.

    • Feedback from staff and unions will be carefully considered.

    • A decision will then be made on whether to enter into negotiations with contractors in early February.

    • Should there be a decision to proceed, staff will be consulted on the implementation process and be informed about how this will impact them.

    Services and Responsibility

    If a decision is made to progress contracting out, POAL envisages contracting these services from (at least) three Contractors.

    POAL would retain responsibility for managing the operation.

    The Contractors would have employee-management responsibility.

    POAL and each Contractor would be responsible for ensuring efficient communication and interaction between the two levels of management.

    Timeline

    • RFP published 13 January 2012.

    • Closing date for proposals 27 January 2012.

    • Appoint Contractors (if a decision is made to progress contracting out after feedback received).

    • Contract start date immediately following appointment of Contractors.

    • There would be a transition period of a few weeks before the Contractors are fully operational on the Terminals.

    Thank you

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      Using a contractor means that we would only pay for work that is done.

      But not the costs of maintaining those people to be available to work.

      PoAL has sent out an RFP (Request for Proposal) to a range of Contractors believed to have the required skills and experience to provide services to the Port.

      So, where do these contractors who have neither a port to operate or the people to work it get the skills and experience to work one?

      The proposals received will be used to assess the range of contracting out options available, to determine if any would give us the improved operational efficiencies and cost savings we are seeking.

      That is actually physically impossible as the contractors will be charging out workers at rates greater than what the workers are being paid now. The difference will be that the workers get less while costing more.

      We are also open to any other ideas you have that might help us achieve the required improvements.

      I suggest firing the present directors and CEO and getting the union to operate the port. That should save several million dollars per year.

    • Jenny 1.2

      • Using a contractor means that we would only pay for work that is done. When people are needed they work and when they not needed they could be working elsewhere and so would not be a cost to the Port.

      • When there are peaks in volume we would have more contracting staff present and when there are quieter periods they would not need to be here.

      • Contractors may also be paid for the volume of work completed to the standard and timeframes required, rather than the hours that are worked.

      If workers could only apply this sort of flexibility to their land lord, mortgagor, grocer or other fixed costs. So that they only have to pay them when they get work.

      Or conversely only have to pay rent for the hours they are at home. Unfortunately all these bills are totally inflexible.

      The document makes a big play of consulting staff and the unions before the final decision is made to contract out. But gives the game away somewhat, when in the final paragraph they put the legal duty to receive feedback into brackets, a sort of typographical way of laughing up your sleeve.

      Another notable quirk, is that during most of the document the words unions and contractors are all spelt with lower case first letter. However near the end of the document the word contractors gets promoted to Contractors, unfortunately the same sign of respect is not paid to the word unions.

      It is with such small slips that the management of the Ports reveal their pathology and antipathy.

  2. james 111 2

    I see the Labour Party is making people redundant after a poor election result ,and a 20% drop in funding. I trust that those people will be well looked after, and have a good redundancy package

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/6276062/Labour-cuts-staff-numbers

    • Um James for an ex labour supporter working class joe former members of the Seamans union you sure sound like a CT troll.

    • Lanthanide 2.2

      And the Greens will get an increase in funding and significantly ramp up their parliamentary presence. NZ First will have to hire an entirely new set of staff.

      Meanwhile National will be unchanged, reflecting their mostly unchanged election result. ACT is decimated and MP will likely see their funding trimmed.

      What was your point, again?

  3. vto 3

    There was big dong dong yesterday between various posters on here and Brett Dale about Isarealis being discriminated against.

    One thing which interested me (and I don’t want to start the whole ding dong again) is a question which a couple asked Mr Dale, one which I have asked a few people recently. And that is, what “race” are Israelis, in this context… In Africa there are the negros and the arabs. In the Americas there are the indians and the polynesians etc inhabit the pacific. The euros in europe. Asia has various forms from the indian type from about Pakistan to Bangladesh and then through to the chinese in the far east. Please excuse my somewhat crude descriptions. But, what are the Israelis? It seems to me they are part of the arab race.

    Touchy subject and all that …

    • Carol 3.1

      “Israeli” isn’t a ‘race’, it’s a nationality. Most Israelis, as far as I am aware, are Jewish. Jews are part of the semitic language group that includes Arabic people. This language group roughly aligns with people who largely share a similar DNA/biological heritage, although this is not a clear-cut category.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semitic#Semitic_peoples

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semitic#Ethnicity_and_race

      But basically, ‘race’ is not a scientific concept, but a human construct based on a belief that people from certain ethnic (cultural) groups share the same biological characteristics.

      But Israeli isn’t an ethnic group, Jewish is.

      • vto 3.1.1

        Thanks Carol. So, if there are only caucasians, asians, arabs, africans and indians as the major human types across the planet then the israelis / jews are part of the arab grouping…

        Which makes sense – they look the same, they live there and claim to always have done so, and as you say their language slots them in there too.

        • Armchair Critic 3.1.1.1

          I think that “race”, which is a horribly vague term, is a quite unhelpful concept in the context of the point Brett was attempting to make yesterday. As I understand it the people whose ancestors came from a Europe, the middle east across to at least modern day Pakistan and down to northern and a fair bit of eastern Africa would have been included in the definition of “Caucasian”, so people who identify today as Israeli or Arab would most likely be included in the definition.
          My understanding was that two people were refused service at a cafe because they were from a country that is governed by a political party that implements policies that the cafe owner found particularly objectionable. That’s not racist. It’s bad business, it’s unreasonable, and not constructive, but it’s not illegal.
          I’d like to know if Brett believes that every business should be compelled (by legislation, for example) to serve all-comers, without exception.
          I’m tempted to have a search for Brett’s outrage at cafes who ask breast-feeding mothers to leave, which has always been a bigger problem IMO. Perhaps Brett can confirm.
          Finally, I’d like to know why Brett was demanding “the left” express their outrage when he’s demanded nothing of the sort from his team. At best I expect bluster in response.

          • Brett Dale 3.1.1.1.1

            Hi Armchair critic, I wasn’t going to come here again but got word that someone asked me some questions.

            A Cafe owner living and working in NewZealand should not be allowed to kick out anyone who isnt creating a disturbance.

            This is New Zealand, I dont care what someones race is, what country they are from, what their political views are, this is NewZealand if you own a business you should serve one and all, white/black/gay/straight/American/Israeli/English/Iranian/Iraqi, if your from Turkey, Canada, Qatar, if your a Christian/Muslim/Hindu or no religion at all.

            Oh I dont think breastfeeding woman are a problem at all in cafes or restaurants.

            You want to do a google search to see if Im bigoted, go head, your going fine a ton of stuff i have written in support of gay marriage and against the homophobic’s. Your going to find a lot of pro Obama posts.

            If any business in this country refuses to serve someone because of the country they are from or their race, then that is disgusting.

            Now I dont want to come here again, so any further questions to me, come to my blog. Cheers.

            • Armchair Critic 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Now I dont want to come here again, so any further questions to me, come to my blog. Cheers.
              If I believed that was true then there wouldn’t be any point in replying. So:
              Thanks for the invite. I’d follow your blog, but it seems to be about American TV a lot, and I’m not that interested in TV. Or America. Or country music. I do like cupcakes, so it was good to see a post on them.
              And I think you have expressed your opinion both extensively and to your full capability, so at this stage I won’t be asking any further questions. If any do spring to mind I’ll post them and link to your blog.

            • felix 3.1.1.1.1.2

              Hi Brett. What about these questions: /open-mike-21012012/#comment-427590

              ps please don’t go forever, I find you oddly fascinating. And you have good taste in stand-up comics which I think says something about a person’s character. Although in your case your taste in music might cancel it out, but still, I hope you stick around anyway.

              Your friend,

              Felix

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.2

          Brett Dale’s faux accusation would have sounded much weaker if he’d used “anti-Israeli” (which was more accurate) instead of “racist” (which was less accurate). And he knew it.

        • RedLogix 3.1.1.3

          In terms of religious affiliation about 80% are Jewish, 15% Sunni Muslim, and 2% Druze. The ethnic breakdown is even more diverse.

          The Druze ….usually completely overlooked in any discussion around this topic…actually have the best claim to having lived in the area of Palestine continuously. A point that is of academic interest only; the Druze are by and large content to mind their own business as best they can.

        • Populuxe1 3.1.1.4

          No, actually “Jewish” is a religion, not a race. There are Hasidim from Central and Eastern Europe, Sephardi from the Iberian peninsula, black African Jews from Ethiopia, and even Arab Jews in the Middle East. The Jews of Western Europe were more or less assimilated and secular, identifying more with whatever country they lived in – as a category they were more-or-less reinvented by Hitler during the Holocaust. Actually, a huge number of people exterminated as Jews under the evil of the Nuremberg Race Laws probably wouldn’t have been considered Jewish in the traditional sense because they were only connected through the paternal line, or belonged to one of the many Jewish families that had converted to Christianity. The Jews in Israel are predominantly  Western European, American and Hasidic, and the way they regard the minority Sephardi and Arab Jews in Israel is pretty appalling. You can convert to Judaism, or you can be born Jewish through the maternal line – hence the Israeli newspapers at the time of the last spy debacle were correct by their terms in saying John Key is Jewish, even though I have no idea whether he identifies as such (I doubt it) and that’s entirely his business.

  4. Jackal 4

    When a house is not your home

    It’s worth noting that over reliance on the free market system, something the Act party often promotes, is what got us into the mess in the first place.

  5. ianmac 5

    Bryan Gould makes an excellent summary over the risk of Government interfering with the Freedom of the Press. Insidious it is:
    “But threats to press freedom can come in much more insidious forms – and two recent instances make the point clearly……..

    …… the Prime Minister’s conversation over a cup of tea with John Banks during the election campaign. The Prime Minister was clearly very keen that the contents of that conversation should not be made public………
    …..He did not go to court to seek an injunction and assert his right to privacy. Instead, he laid a complaint with the police and asked them to investigate what he maintained might be a criminal offence…….

    …..The police investigation, while so far inconclusive on the issue of criminality, has nevertheless been successful in another respect; it has fully met the Prime Minister’s requirements by keeping the conversation secret till beyond – well beyond – the election.

    ……that a programme on child poverty it had funded was broadcast in the days leading up to the election….It has announced that it may seek legal advice on obtaining a law change that would give it the power to delay until after an election a broadcast that might embarrass politicians.

    …..What is worrying about this episode is that an expression of concern from the Prime Minister (in this case, through his electorate chairman who is a board member of NZ On Air) about a perfectly lawful broadcast was enough to induce the body that has a public duty to fund such programmes to seek to limit the freedom of the broadcasters.

    ……..Again, it is not any direct threat or interference that is of concern; rather, it is the threat that the executive is ready to act against anything that displeases the Prime Minister……
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10780431

    • aerobubble 5.1

      National slimed their way back to power by wasting the election with shuting down tactics.
      And once over they wonder why so many people are totally turned off by Brand Key.
      So they’ve got it into their thick heads it must have been the poverty doco.
      They’re worried that Key now tired and hollow that he will not get another Rugby world
      cup shadow, and with the poor quality of his MPs, and their marginal government block,
      that Key may be forced to the polls at any moment.
      What’s clear is Key’s spinmasters are desperate, desperate to hide the tape, desperate to
      give us all some reason why hie re-election wasn’t so great (doco poverty).
      When in fact its just National were tired and bored when they first won power in 2008,
      and their only victory seems to be the product of disasters, ChCh, Mine, Rena, and their
      ability to look marginal in the face of these disasters.

      History will likely favor the next government who will have to deal to the world
      risks of climate change, peak pil, resources limits etc. Key will be noted only for
      his unnoteworthiness in the histoy of NZ, you could say our John Howard.

      • ianmac 5.1.1

        Good point aero. Scapegoat the Poverty doco and teacups and lay down preventatives for next time. Control the media and control the people. Like Fiji?

        • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.1

          Pretty much the same as every other dictatorship (including early Western Democracy) throughout history. NAct really are trying to take us back to the time where a few rich people (rich through exploitation of everyone else) ruled and everyone else kissed their feet.

          • aerobubble 5.1.1.1.1

            which won’t happen since there are too many sociopaths today, too many people living too closely together, to much information to scan, too many are able to create a new sub lingo…etc, etc. This is not pre-revolutionary France we heading for. And no I don’t believe that there is a consprisy of the rich. I think its just natural inertia in the face of radical change, those wtih most to lose are betting that it’ll all work out and so hang on in there.
            Key is basically feeding that monster, and its always come out bad, since either they inertia-ists are wrong and lose even worse, or they are right and so create the culture of dismissal and denial that will inevitable deblitate them when a crisis does hit (which they always do).

            Sure its going to get bad even if the governments are clued up and just silent about what their planning is. But we are the free market and we are choosing to go low carbon early and often.

  6. 23 January 2012

    URGENT!!! URGENT!!

    “Is this what democracy looks like”?

    URGENT!! URGENT!!! AUCKLAND COUNCIL-HIRED PRIVATE SECURITY GUARDS ARE TRYING TO CLOSE DOWN OCCUPY AUCKLAND PEACEFUL PROTESTORS BY SEIZING TENTS AND PROPERTY! PROTESTORS ARE REFUSING TO MOVE!!

    I have just spoken to Occupy Auckland protestor Chris Glen (10.20am), and asked ‘on what lawful authority’ is this action allegedly happening?

    “Land Reclaim Act” replied Chris Glen.

    IS THIS MAYOR LEN BROWN’S ‘VISION’ TO HELP MAKE AUCKLAND THE MOST LIVEABLE CITY IN THE WORLD?

    COUNCIL BY LAWS CANNOT AND MUST NOT ‘TRUMP’ OUR BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS TO PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION – THIS IS WHAT IS NOW BEFORE THE COURTS!

    Judge Wilson’s decision – effectively ignored the LAW and the intention of Parliament on this matter and is being appealed:

    (Local Government Act 2002 s 155 (3)

    155 Determination whether bylaw made under this Act is appropriate
    (1AA) This section applies to a bylaw only if it is made under this Act.

    (1) A local authority must, before commencing the process for making a bylaw, determine whether a bylaw is the most appropriate way of addressing the perceived problem.

    (2) If a local authority has determined that a bylaw is the most appropriate way of addressing the perceived problem, it must, before making the bylaw, determine whether the proposed bylaw—

    (a) is the most appropriate form of bylaw; and

    (b) gives rise to any implications under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.

    (3) No bylaw may be made which is inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, notwithstanding section 4 of that Act.

    HOW PRECIPITIOUS IS THIS ACTION?

    WHO FROM AUCKLAND COUNCIL HAS AUTHORISED THIS ACTION?

    THE AUCKLAND COUNCIL CEO?

    THE GOVERNING BODY OF AUCKLAND COUNCIL – THE ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES?

    THIS MATTER IS BEFORE THE COURTS!

    OCCUPY AUCKLAND PEACEFUL PROTESTORS ARE DEFENDING OUR LAWFUL RIGHTS TO PEACEFUL PROTEST AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION!

    COME AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT NOW AT AOTEA SQUARE!

    “WHEN PEOPLE’S RIGHTS ARE UNDER ATTACK – STAND UP – FIGHT BACK!”

    Penny Bright

    Named Respondent

    Auckland Council v Occupy Auckland

    021 211 4 127

    • Brett 6.1

      Dirty hippies, hopefully they release the hounds.

      [Permanently banned for being an offensive dick. ..RL]

    • beachbum 6.2

      I am not sure how they will defend the “P” substance found there.

      • McFlock 6.2.1

        It’s not like they found a shipping container full of class A drugs. Apparently, out of all the people who had been staying or visiting the occupation, at least one had been in position of drugs. This is not too different from the general population.
             

  7. M 8

    Richard Heinberg, JHK, Dimitri Orlov, Nicole Foss and Noam Chomsky panel discussion – Chomsky does ramble a bit and JHK takes him to task re Daniel Yergin:

    http://www.postcarbon.org/audio/657788-heinberg-kunstler-foss-orlov-chomsky

    Richard speaks of how peak oil will impact Hawai’i plus the financial corruption in the markets and limits to growth

    http://www.postcarbon.org/person/36200-richard-heinberg

    • aerobubble 8.1

      Peak oil is not on the agenda. Take something as simple as the private car, supermarkets target private car consumers with petrol vouchers, and the low carbon consumer who walks, or cycles, or buses to the super market gets this voucher for fuel they are unlikely to use. So here we have a private car subsidy by non-car owners to car owners. Carbon credits will not stop supermarkets taxing the low carbon citizens and supporting the high carbon abusers since the high carbon abuses have the spare cash from over paying jobs and too much access to the ‘activity’ wealth.

      • Vicky32 8.1.1

        and the low carbon consumer who walks, or cycles, or buses to the super market gets this voucher for fuel they are unlikely to use

        I never have! (Got a cheap fuel voucher), but if I did, I wouldn’t know what to do with it… none of the family has a car, I walk to my local supermarket, which is fine by me! I hadn’t actually thought about it that way, but those of us who walk are subsidising the car people! (It amuses me that the checkout people always assume I am driving and pack stuff accordingly, which can be awkward..

  8. AndrewK 9

    According to Shlomo Sand, Professor of History at Tel Aviv University and author of, The Invention of the Jewish People, most of the Jews living in Israel are Europeans who are the descendants of converts to Judaism and the Palestinians are the most likely descendants of the original Jews, but who converted to Islam during the Arab conquest (6th century AD?) .

  9. Colonial Viper 10

    Make the claim that you can keep the middle class supplied with its familiar comforts and status symbols and you’ll be able to count on a following in the years to come.

    John Michael Greer nails it, yet again.

    http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2012/01/waking-up-walking-away.html

    • M 10.1

      ‘Among its other benefits, that’s a good way to see the limits on the alleged freedom of choice that the consumer economy provides its inmates.’

      ‘The second advantage is one I’ve mentioned here before. If you’re going to be poor in the future, and you are, you might as well learn how to do it competently. It’s entirely possible to lead a life that’s poor in terms of money, material goods, and energy consumption, and profoundly rich—far richer than most contemporary lifestyles—in human values. If you’re going to do that, though, you’re going to have to learn how it’s done, and the only school where you can study that is that ancient institution, the school of hard knocks. If you start cutting your energy use and your material wants now, before you’re forced to do so, you can get past the hard part of the learning curve while you still have other options.’

      Absolute gold CV – been a while since I’ve visited this site. The inmates line – LOL.

  10. randal 11

    well they have made monkeys of us all over the port issue.
    according to both mike williams and tootin hooton on rnz this am they want to close th eport for exports and that is that.
    so I suppose we all had a bit of fun while THEY laughed their tits off at us.

    • prism 11.1

      This mornings radionz session with Mike Williams and Matthew Hooten was very lively. With strong comments being made and a lot of stats flying around. I thought they both did very well though Hooten doesn’t cut off quickly enough. Well worth a listen.

      And on Bryan Crump’s nighttime session on radionz site, there have been a couple of interesting books written which have been been reviewed on Windows on the World – International public radio features and documentaries. Produced by Nicky Chapman.
      (Note the rider – Copyright restrictions prevent us from making these programmes available as audio on demand or podcasts.

      Monday 23 January: Two Authors
      Peter Day talks to two authors of recent books about the way the world is developing. Borderless Economics – Chinese Sea Turtles, Indian Fridges and the New Fruits of Global Capitalism by Robert Guest, Published by Palgrave.

      The Coming Jobs War, by Jim Clifton , Published by Gallup Press.
      One comment from Jim Clifton was that in Gallup polls, which they take one thousand of each day, a common goal is to get a good job. And as there are less good jobs than those looking for them, this is the basis for a very unhappy society, or no society at all.

  11. randal 12

    and nightmare on elm street tonight.
    brian krump interviews (kisses his ass) rodney hide telling us all about his hero the nasty little weasel karl popper.
    what the fuck did new zealanders do to get this sort of crap served up to us.

  12. “WHEN OUR RIGHTS ARE UNDER ATTACK – STAND UP – FIGHT BACK!!”

    JOIN US – AS SOON AS YOU CAN!

    IF YOU CAN’T STAY IN A TENT – AT LEAST STAND WITH US IN SOLIDARITY!

    These are YOUR rights that we are trying to protect!

    I for one will be back at Aotea Square IN MY TENT tonight, and I encourage all those who believe that Council By Laws SHOULD NOT and DO NOT ‘trump’ our lawful rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression to join us.

    Just who is running Auckland Council?

    Unelected businesspeople and unelected Council Officers – or ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES?

    Some of us did try to warn you!

    Remember?

    http://www.stopthesupercity.org.nz

    I find it VERY interesting that this arguably MOST precipitious action, is taking place the day after our Occupy Auckland General Assembly, (yesterday Sunday 22 January 2012) where a petition I have initiated , stating ….. was unanimously endorsed.

    COPIES OF THIS PETITION WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR PEOPLE TO SIGN AT AOTEA SQUARE AFTER 3PM TODAY.

    For more background information – check out http://www.pennybright4epsom,org.nz

    Penny Bright
    Named Respondent
    Auckland Council v Occupy Auckland

  13. Morrissey 14

    A Jewish American high school student wins MLK Jr. writing award for
    this brave essay:

    http://www.hss.cmu.edu/pressreleases/pressreleases/jesselieberfeld.html

    2012 Martin Luther King, Jr. Writing Awards Prose: High School First Place

    Fighting a Forbidden Battle: How I Stopped Covering Up for a Hidden Wrong
    by JESSE LIEBERFELD 11th grade, Winchester Thurston

    I once belonged to a wonderful religion. I belonged to a religion that allows those of us who believe in it to feel that we are the greatest people in the world—and feel sorry for ourselves at the same time. Once, I thought that I truly belonged in this world of security, self-pity, self-proclaimed intelligence, and perfect moral aesthetic. I thought myself to be somewhat privileged early on. It was soon revealed to me, however, that my fellow believers and I were not part of anything so flattering.

    Although I was fortunate enough to have parents who did not try to force me into any one set of beliefs, being Jewish was in no way possible to escape growing up. It was constantly reinforced at every holiday, every service, and every encounter with the rest of my relatives. I was forever reminded how intelligent my family was, how important it was to remember where we had come from, and to be proud of all the suffering our people had overcome in order to finally achieve their dream in the perfect society of Israel.

    This last mandatory belief was one which I never fully understood, but I always kept the doubts I had about Israel’s spotless reputation to the back of my mind. “Our people” were fighting a war, one I did not fully comprehend, but I naturally assumed that it must be justified. We would never be so amoral as to fight an unjust war. Yet as I came to learn more about our so-called “conflict” with the Palestinians, I grew more concerned. I routinely heard about unexplained mass killings, attacks on medical bases, and other alarmingly violent actions for which I could see no possible reason. “Genocide” almost seemed the more appropriate term, yet no one I knew would have ever
    dreamed of portraying the war in that manner; they always described the situation in shockingly neutral terms. Whenever I brought up the subject, I was always given the answer that there were faults on both sides, that no one was really to blame, or simply that it was a “difficult situation.” It was not until eighth grade that I fully understood what I was on the side of. One afternoon, after a fresh round of killings was announced on our bus ride home, I asked two of my friends who actively supported Israel what they thought. “We need to defend our race,” they told me. “It’s our right.”

    “We need to defend our race.”

    Where had I heard that before? Wasn’t it the same excuse our own country had used to justify its abuses of African-Americans sixty years ago? In that moment, I realized how similar the two struggles were—like the white radicals of that era, we controlled the lives of another people whom we abused daily, and no one could speak out against us. It was too politically incorrect to do so. We had suffered too much, endured too many hardships, and overcome too many losses to be criticized. I realized then that I was in no way part of a “conflict”—the term “Israeli/Palestinian Conflict” was no more accurate than calling the Civil Rights Movement the “Caucasian/
    African-American Conflict.” In both cases, the expression was a blatant euphemism: it gave the impression that this was a dispute among equals and that both held an equal share of the blame. However, in both, there was clearly an oppressor and an oppressed, and I felt horrified at the realization that I was by nature on the side of the oppressors. I was grouped with the racial supremacists. I was part of a group that killed while praising its own intelligence and reason. I was part of a delusion.

    I thought of the leader of the other oppressed side of years ago, Martin Luther King. He too had been part of a struggle that had been hidden and glossed over for the convenience of those against whom he fought. What would his reaction have been? As it turned out, it was precisely the same as mine. As he wrote in his letter from Birmingham Jail, he believed the greatest enemy of his cause to be “Not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who…lives by a mythical concept of time…. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” When I first read those words, I felt as if I were staring at myself in a mirror. All my life I had been conditioned to simply treat the so-called conflict with the same apathywhich King had so forcefully condemned. I, too, held the role of an accepting moderate. I, too, “lived by a mythical concept of time,” shrouded in my own surreal world and the set of beliefs that had been assigned to me. I had never before felt so trapped.

    I decided to make one last appeal to my religion. If it could not answer my misgivings, no one could. The next time I attended a service, there was an open question-and-answer session about any point of our religion. I wanted to place my dilemma in as clear and simple terms as I knew how. I thought out my exact question over the course of the seventeen-minute cello solo that was routinely played during service. Previously, I had always accepted this solo as just another part of the program, yet now it seemed to capture the whole essence of our religion: intelligent and well-crafted on paper, yet completely oblivious to the outside world (the soloist did not have the faintest
    idea of how masterfully he was putting us all to sleep). When I was finally given the chance to ask a question, I asked, “I want to support Israel. But how can I when it lets its army commit so many
    killings?” I was met with a few angry glares from some of the older men, but the rabbi answered me. “It is a terrible thing, isn’t it?” he said. “But there’s nothing we can do. It’s just a fact of life.” I knew, of course, that the war was no simple matter and that we did not by any means commit murder for its own sake, but to portray our thousands of killings as a “fact of life” was simply too much for me to accept. I thanked him and walked out shortly afterward. I never went back. I thought about what I could do. If nothing else, I could at least try to free myself from the burden of being saddled with a belief I could not hold with a clear conscience. I could not live the rest of my life as one of the pathetic moderates whom King had rightfully portrayed as the worst part of the problem. I did not intend to go on being one of the Self-Chosen People, identifying myself as part of a group to which I did not belong.

    It was different not being the ideal nice Jewish boy. The difference was subtle, yet by no means unaffecting. Whenever it came to the attention of any of our more religious family friends that I did not share their beliefs, I was met with either a disapproving stare and a quick change of the subject or an alarmed cry of, “What? Doesn’t Israel matter to you?” Relatives talked down to me more afterward, but eventually I stopped noticing the way adults around me perceived me. It was worth it to no longer feel as though I were just another apathetic part of the machine.

    I can obviously never know what it must have been like to be an African-American in the 1950s. I do feel, however, as though I know exactly what it must have been like to be white during that time, to live under an aura of moral invincibility, to hold unchallengeable beliefs, and to contrive illusions of superiority to avoid having to face simple everyday truths. That illusion was nice while it lasted, but I decided to pass it up. I have never been happier.>>

    http://www.hss.cmu.edu/pressreleases/pressreleases/jesselieberfeld.html

    • Draco T Bastard 14.1

      When a radical solution is required then moderation is the brake that prevents that solution being implemented.

    • vto 14.2

      Morrisey, without wanting to detract from the various salient points raised in that essay, this piece caught my attention, especially given my question this morning (above) re what “race” the jewish / israeli people are…

      “One afternoon, after a fresh round of killings was announced on our bus ride home, I asked two of my friends who actively supported Israel what they thought. “We need to defend our race,” they told me. “It’s our right.” ”

      One of the reasons for questioning what race they are is that there seems to be a belief that they are a race apart from the arabs with whom they fight. But they aren’t are they. There is no jewish race. The jewish people are part of the arab race. (using “race” in the wider biological grouping sense).

      That fact kind of reinforces the total incoherence of the jewish / israeli situation expressed in the essay.

      • McFlock 14.2.1

        Not sure I agree entirely.
        The concept of “race” is artificial, but Judaism is a cultural heritage as well as a religion, and is shared by people around the world, not just “arabs” – Europeans, Africans, and Asians. As far as it looks to me, a significant issue in Israel is the blending of this cultural identity and state machinery. Israeli citizenship is extended to all Jews if wanted, regardless of geographic origin/residence. The blending of cultural origin and state power is a problem, because the culture is not shared by all of the people within the geographic domains of the state (this is true for the pre-1967 lines, forget about the current problems). 
           
        I agree with the concept that the state of Isreal should exist, and for good reasons, but the cause of its genesis does not justify the extreme policies applied today. Although it does go some way to explaining them.

      • Populuxe1 14.2.2

        I think you mean that Arabs, Jews, (and the ancient Phoenicians, Egyptians and Babylonians) are Semitic, itself a rather archaic term relating to the belief that after the Deluge they descended from Noah’s son Shem. Anyway, they’re not – by and large most modern Jews are of European extraction.

        • vto 14.2.2.1

          Thanks mr luxe, I see your post further up too. Your points however further reinforce the point made about this ridiculous notion that, as I believe, the jewish people regard`themselves as a distinct “people” or “race”, when in fact they are anything but. If anything, from what you have explained, they are perhaps more mongrel than anyone. Like most all kiwis.

          The whole entire thing is ridiculous. Bullshit. Notions and bigotry based on nothing but old ancient and wrong-headed ideas of separateness from others and fairies in the sky.

          Religion.

          The bane of our world.

          • McFlock 14.2.2.1.1

            I’m not really seeing your point – Jewish people don’t fit into the definition of race, even though “race” is a bullshit contrived definition?
             
            Jews have a shared cultural history that is slightly more than magic books. If anything it demonstrates that culture and nationality are more complex than pinning labels on different baskets of geographic, physical or genetic characteristics.
              
            People identifying themselves by different labels is fine. I do have an issue with defining a state around those labels, though.

            • Populuxe1 14.2.2.1.1.1

              Much of the problem is that the Knesset is dominated by the rabid hard right neo-con Likudniks and hard core fundamentalist ultra-orthodox. The moderate and largely conciliatory left doesn’t get a look in. Your ordinary urbane non-Zionist Israeli is either a hard-boiled sarcastic cynic or a total hippie.

            • Populuxe1 14.2.2.1.1.2

              In my dealings with Muslims, I notice they have trouble seeing Christianity as being a religious affiliation rather than a culture. Also, they find it difficult to get their heads around Christianity being a bunch of different and often antithetical sects just like Sunni, Shia, Wahabi etc.

  14. Ooops!

    This is the wording of the above-mentioned petition to which I was referring:

    “To the House of Representatives

    The petition of Penelope Mary Bright (….) and others:

    “Respectfully requests:

    That the House conduct an urgent inquiry into the decisions regarding prosecutions relating the Huljich Kiwisaver Scheme registered prospectuses dated 22 August 2008 and 18 September 2009.”

    Funny how a decision to try to forcibly evict Occupy Auckland protestors is happening TODAY – the day after our General Assembly endorsed and supported this petition?

    I look forward to being advised by the Police that they are going to apply ACT’s ‘ONE FOR ALL’ and charge former fellow Directors of Huljich Wealth Management (NZ) Ltd, John Banks and Don Brash for signing the above-mentioned Huljich Kiwisaver Scheme registered prospectuses dated 22 August 2008 and 18 September 2009, which contained untrue statements?

    Given that ACT MP for Epsom, John Banks arguably a yet-to-be charged or convicted ‘white collar’ criminal is helping to hold the balance of power in NZ – ‘perceived to be the ‘least corrupt country in the world’ according to the 2011 Transparency International ‘Corruption Perception Index’?

    Which is obviously not worth the paper upon which it is written?

    So!

    Hope to see you at Aotea Square – in opposition to the takeover of the Auckland region by the unelected corporate 1% and those who serve their interests and their actions in trying to close down some of those who have been at the leading edge of the fightback against them?

    The Occupy Auckland peaceful protestors?

    Penny Bright
    Named Respondent
    Auckland Council v Occupy Auckland

  15. Jackal 16

    FBI calls the shots

    After the SOPA protest last week that blacked out much of the worlds internet, international raids initiated by the United States government took down one of the worlds largest cyberlocker sharing websites, clearly showing that copyright law enforcement is already too powerful…

  16. randal 17

    newsflash.
    standard and poores downgrade john key from bad to awful.

    • McFlock 17.1

      Really? Wanker & Looters already has him at “ab-fucking-ysmal”

    • chris73 17.2

      Hate to think what they’d give Shearer then (no wait you can’t judge someone untill they actually do something)

      • McFlock 17.2.1

        Shearer hasn’t been in the job 3 years.

      • mac1 17.2.2

        And yet here (john-key-and-poal/#comment-427767) today at the same time you say Shearer is doing the smart thing. You’re not trolling both sides of the argument, Chris?

        • chris73 17.2.2.1

          No and heres why:

          It is the smart thing to do because he’d lose more votes then he’d gain by stepping into the dispute but he’d get a downgrade by doing nothing but hes obviously decided that the lesser of two evils is doing nothing

          • RedLogix 17.2.2.1.1

            So politicians should not be honest and never stand for anything because it might offend some people.

            I’d hazard a guess that you think politicians are all lying, self-serving bastards. No?

  17. cardassian 18

    Why are we wasting tax payer money on behalf of the FBI?
    Did we become the 51st state while I was sleeping or are we really such a weak country we just do as we’re told?
    Funny how people can call the police after being burgled and the police don’t even send out 1 officer, but at the request of the f.b.i. they can send out 75 cops and a helicopter.

    • Populuxe1 18.1

      Um, because it’s part of an international cooperative agreement that helps us catch fleeing criminals and especially paedophiles. I don’t suggest that this is a particularly good use of those resources, but it’s there for a reason.
       

      • Colonial Viper 18.1.1

        And taking down megaupload.com was done because of which reason, fleeing criminals or paedophiles?

        Because it seems to me that we helped the US use a shotgun to terminate the company, its business activities and the legitimate activities (and personal non-copyright property – e.g. family photos, back ups of CDs and DVDs which had been legally bought etc) of many clients.

        All without bothering to go through the courts and worrying about niceties like due process.

        Are legitimate clients of megaupload.com going to get all their personal files and data back.

        Are legitimate clients going to have their data privacy and personal details respected by investigators.

        This could easily turn into a fuck up so all these matters better be handled very very carefully by NZ.

        • Populuxe1 18.1.1.1

          Which part of “I don’t suggest that this is a particularly good use of those resources” are you deliberately ignoring?

          • Colonial Viper 18.1.1.1.1

            “not particularly good use” =! “shit use”

            I would go with the latter, but its quite possible I underestimated your use of sarcasm. If so I apologise.

            • Populuxe1 18.1.1.1.1.1

              Appreciated. I forget my penchant for sarcasm doesn’t carry well in this medium.

        • Huginn 18.1.1.2

          This could easily turn into a fuck up?

          Oh yes, I think so. The indictment describes a successful business model. It shows that people are prepared to pay for downloads. There is no reason why the entertainment industry couldn’t have used the same model and gone into competition against Megaupload. They’ve had years to do it but they haven’t.

          Instead, they spent millions of dollars lobbying to cripple the internet.

          The indictment itself can be used to present the case that the entertainment industry’s anti-competitive use of copyright.

          I think that US law favours copyright over anti-trust at the moment – but there will be a push back if the indictment is upheld and Dotcom et al go down.

          The collapse of SOFA last week has left the entertainment industry vulnerable as the legislation is re-drafted.

  18. Jackal 19

    Police impersonation

    Reproducing identification numbers in an attempt to not be identified is a clear breach of the law…

  19. prism 20

    What about the question and opinion that Winston Peters came up with – why did the country’s bureaucrats allow this guy in when they know he has a serious criminal conviction? He thinks it is merely because he could invest the required amount of cash in NZ.

    From the Herald –
    The native German was granted residency in 2010 under the “high-investment category”, after putting $10 million into government bonds and making a large donation to the Christchurch earthquake fund.
    However Mr Peters said it is hard to understand how Mr Dotcom passed the “good character” requirements for New Zealand residency, given he had previous convictions.
    Mr Dotcom told the Herald on Sunday last year he was convicted for “hacking” under juvenile law and for insider trading because of ignorance about a share-trading law. Both convictions were more than 10 years ago and had been wiped by Germany’s clean-slate law, he said.

    • Draco T Bastard 20.1

      Saw a segment in one of the TV news which had a German lawyer talking about it. Apparently the offences were in 2k3/4 and have a time before being dropped from the record of 15 years. There definitely needs to be an investigation into why this person is in NZ.

  20. He’s here because, as Robert Winter points out, he’s exactly the kind of Atlas-like super-hero National want as an immigrant.
    http://robertwinter.blogspot.com/2012/01/kim-dotcom-national-icon.html

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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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