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Open mike 28/01/2022

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, January 28th, 2022 - 69 comments
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Open mike is your post.

For announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose.

The usual rules of good behaviour apply (see the Policy).

Step up to the mike …

69 comments on “Open mike 28/01/2022 ”

  1. Dennis Frank 1

    Fabio Vighi is Professor of Critical Theory at Cardiff University, and author of Critical Theory and the Crisis of Contemporary Capitalism.

    He reckons it's "time to take the red pill and face reality: since the start of 2020, a macroeconomic virus disguised as a pandemic virus has taken possession of our lives, causing widespread depression and consigning entire populations to often extreme forms of legalized discrimination."

    I found no evidence he's a denier of microbiology and his thesis that the control system is using the pandemic as a tool rings true. Folks who prefer to form an overview of situations ought to give his reasoning an appraisal. I'll quote a few interesting parts…

    In August 2019, a white paper issued by BlackRock (the all-powerful investment fund already known as the “fourth branch of government”) had shown the Federal Reserve the way out of the coming “dramatic downturn,” urging the US Central Bank to implement an “unprecedented” monetary policy whereby large masses of money created out of thin air were to be delivered “directly into the hands of public and private spenders.” This “going direct” scheme, which according to BlackRock had to be made “permanent,” was promptly inaugurated a month later in response to the repo market crisis.

    Since then, and especially after the arrival of Virus, the Fed’s balance sheet has grown by nearly 5 trillion dollars, an absolutely extraordinary expansion even when compared with the QE bailouts started at the end of 2008. And to get an idea of the global dimension of this expansion, we need to add the trillions created by other central banks around the world, as well as programs of fiscal stimulus such as ‘helicopter money.’

    …the perverse logic of ‘pandemic capitalism,’ which allowed the top 1% to increase their wealth at record speed, while the middle classes are going missing… Currency depreciation appears to be a feature, not a bug, of central banking. Remember the World Economic Forum’s slogan? You will own nothing, and you will be happy! In short, it is not happening by accident but by design.

    What does our macroeconomic environment look like? Its basic features are summarised below:

    – Global debt of $300 trillion, growing exponentially

    – Rapidly increasing deficits in most advanced and developing economies

    – Colossal bubbles in the stock, bond (debt), and real estate markets

    – Astronomical bubble in the derivatives market

    – Surging inflation with potential for hyperinflation.

    Within this explosive context, Virus and variants work as cynical cover stories whose aim is to expedite the authoritarian management of the implosive trajectory of contemporary capitalism, which cannot be contained through economic policy alone. The unrelenting manufacturing of ‘pandemic emergency’ is both a defensive strategy against collapse, and an aggressive attack on what is left of the ‘work society,’ for it allows the elites to use inflation as a means to impoverishment and domination.

    The political left has opted to take the blue pill, and, as summarized by Franco Berardi (Bifo), it can only offer false perspectives: “There is no political way out of the apocalypse. For thirty years the left has been the main political instrument of the ultra-capitalist offensive, and whoever invests their hopes in the left is an imbecile who deserves to be betrayed, since betraying is the only activity that the left is capable of performing competently.”

    If we want to avoid the coming tsunami of social barbarism we will need, at some point soon, to redefine the relationship between work, community and social wealth beyond its capitalist meaning. To do this we will need to take a third pill, which however will only become available after we organise meaningful popular resistance against socioeconomic tyranny legitimised by ‘emergency capitalism.’

    I'm intrigued by his notion of a third pill. He doesn't explain it – and Matrix theory provides just the red/blue binary – but a green pill has aesthetic appeal…

    https://thephilosophicalsalon.com/red-pill-or-blue-pill-variants-inflation-and-the-controlled-demolition-of-society/

    • Blazer 1.1

      When you look at the accelerated scale of Q.E I have no problem entertaining this..theory.

      1Trillion dollars=spent @$40 a second,takes 792 years to…spend…!

    • gsays 1.2

      Cheers Dennis for perusing these articles and books and passing on what you find.

      I certainly can get put off by sentences with lots of big words but the bite size chunks you share give a lot of food for thought.

      This virus has changed folks thinking and not in a good way by my reckoning. If we want to mitigate and adapt to CC challenges then BAU will not suffice. A simpler, humbler way of life, with sharing at the heart of it is what is needed.

  2. Herodotus 2

    5.9% inflation what does that mean ? Someone on $50k last year now in real terms will have had to have spent $3,000 less than in 2020 or obtained an increase of the same, not likely especially as many in the public sector were put on a “pay freeze”. How long can anyone substain such loss in spending power, especially as many of the essential items: rent, petroleum, food etc costs have increased at a higher rate and are inescapable to avoid?

  3. Dennis Frank 3

    National leader Christopher Luxon says the Government needs to stop spending money on “dumb stuff” in order to arrest rising inflation rates.

    Asked for examples of wasteful spending to cut, Luxon pointed to cameras on fishing boats and consultant fees for the Three Waters reform coming out of the Covid-19 budget, and the $51m spent on the cancelled Auckland Harbour cycle bridge.

    Cameras on fishing boats are estimated to cost $68m, while the policy costs from the Three Waters programme sit at around $20m. All up these costs make up about 0.1 per cent of the annual Government budget.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/300505481/inflation-national-blames-dumb-government-spending-for-rising-prices-government-blames-globe

    So all he needs to make his rationale compelling is a top economist agreeing that inflation is caused by 0.1% of the annual govt budget being dumb.

    Unfortunately he forgot to call for volunteers to do so. Will they come to his rescue regardless? Watch this space…

    • tc 3.1

      Who approved transmission gully ?

      You want an example of waste start there….or a vanity flag project.

    • dv 3.2

      From stuff — 15% expenditure was for the wage subsidy (which Luxon approved).

      That is 150 x the amt that Luxon deems as dumb cause of the inflation.

      So really much of the inflation probably comes from the response to covid.

  4. Dennis Frank 4

    WHO chief backs Neil Young over Covid misinformation row with Spotify: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/jan/27/who-chief-backs-neil-young-over-covid-misinformation-row-with-spotify-joe-rogan

    Spotify has begun removing Young’s music from its platform after an ultimatum issued by the star earlier this week to the company. Referring to controversial podcasts by Joe Rogan hosted by Spotify, Young said: “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”

    Many of Young’s fans and supporters of his stance called for a boycott of the streaming platform, and for other artists to follow his lead. “I stand with Neil Young” and “#CancelSpotify” became rallying calls on social media on Thursday.

    The actor and activist Mia Farrow tweeted: “Wow @Spotify you chose to keep creepy, dangerous liar Joe Rodan over the magnificent Neil Young?” There was no immediate sign of other big names in the music industry siding with Young against Spotify – an indication perhaps of its market dominance. Between 2010 and 2020, Spotify’s share of the US music market rose from 7% to 83%.

  5. Stephen D 5

    The new international order in 2022.

    Foreign policy wonks have their work cut out. The international rules a small country like Aotearoa rely on are going to stretched, hopefully not beyond breaking point.

    ”With With this in mind I believe that 2022 will be a year where the transition from the liberal international order to something else will begin to pick up speed and as a result lead to various types of conflict between the old and new guards. What with hybrid or grey area conflict, disinformation campaigns, electoral meddling and cyberwarfare all now part of the psychological operations mix along with conventional air, land, sea and space-based kinetic military operations involving multi-domain command, control, communications, computing, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and robotics (C4ISR2) systems, the ways in which conflict can be engaged covertly or overtly have multiplied. That technological fact means that it is easier for international actors, or at least some of them, to act as disruptors of the global status quo by using conflict as a systemic re-alignment vehicle“

    http://www.kiwipolitico.com/2022/01/redrawing-the-lines/

  6. Adrian 6

    Causes of inflation? When nobody was going anywhere two years ago except in ambulances, fuel prices plummeted. Great! Now with Putin manipulating a big war scare in Eastern Europe, fuel prices have surged. Arguably without covid, fuel may well have been in the 2.75-3.00 dollar a litre by now anyway. Most likely Russia is not invading anyone but it’s return on elevated fuel prices suits it perfectly for very little cost. Hence rapid fuel inflation which feeds on to everything else. But wait, there is a silver lining at least for us with our locally produced electricity, how much more encouragement do you need to go electric?
    The other big inflation mover is the huge increase in house building big booms always raise prices, so what do you want, low inflation or not enough houses?

    The other big inflation pusher that Hickey does not seem to take into account is that with 2 years of no international holiday travel Kiwis have a shitload ( proper economic term that, when you don’t know the real numbers ) of money lying around going “ spend me, spend me “. The possible real number may be close to his extra 21 billion that he says private NZers have squirrelled away or have spent it at home. How can any of these have been avoided? Almost certainly not, we didn’t get more money from wage subsidies almost certainly less, but we saved a lot of it.

    • Tricledrown 6.1

      The biggest single factor causing inflation is a 30% rise in fuel prices which has a huge knock on effect.

      His claim people are hoarding $21 billion from cancelled overseas trips maybe true but we lost that from tourism as well.

      Hickey has overlooked the number of houses being constructed is at record levels 2yrs in a row.

      That has helped keep the economy ticking over nicely.

      Keeping unemployment down.

      Numbers on benefits are up I would say that is because of a reset during covid Nationals nasty attitude to the homeless people not able to access benefits to make their figures look good.That was changed by labour during covid.

      This govt made sure homeless had accomodation,healthcare money so they didn't spread covid.

      National would have left homeless to their own devices.

    • Blazer 6.2

      What role does OPEC play these days regarding fuel prices then?

      We've had low inflation and 'not enough houses for years'.

      Low interest rates and a lack of any other appealing asset class are 2 factors that ramped up housing prices.

      Whatever the triggers, Hickey is laying out the real facts.

      Tourism was supposedly NZ's biggest earner….the economy has survived that becoming irelevant ,no trouble at all.

      Hickey appears to be saying the Govt did not assess the economic ramifications of Covid quickly enough.

      It looks to me that it became policy to fuel the property ponzi to make GDP look good and compensate for any austerity measures(less spending/more saving)that people may have imposed on…themselves.

      The next 18 months will be very interesting…indeed.

  7. Dennis Frank 7

    Any political theory advocating the weaponising of culture ought to cite as evidence the cultural operations of the CIA throughout history. Spooks doing cultural analysis? Who knew? Fortunately the history is becoming available via declassification:

    Thomas W. Braden, the former supervisor of cultural activities at the CIA, explained the power of the Agency’s cultural assault in a frank insider’s account published in 1967: “I remember the enormous joy I got when the Boston Symphony Orchestra [which was supported by the CIA] won more acclaim for the U.S. in Paris than John Foster Dulles or Dwight D. Eisenhower could have bought with a hundred speeches.”

    Perched in a privileged ivory tower, disconnected from the real world, embroiled in meaningless academic debates over specialized minutia, or floating in the abstruse clouds of high-minded theory, intellectuals are frequently portrayed as not only cut off from political reality but as incapable of having any meaningful impact on it. The Central Intelligence Agency thinks otherwise… For in an intriguing research paper written in 1985, and recently released with minor redactions through the Freedom of Information Act, the CIA reveals that its operatives have been studying the complex, international trend-setting French theory affiliated with the names of Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan and Roland Barthes.

    The intelligence agency understands culture and theory to be crucial weapons in the overall arsenal it deploys to perpetuate US interests around the world. The recently released research paper from 1985, entitled “France: Defection of the Leftist Intellectuals,” examines—undoubtedly in order to manipulate—the French intelligentsia and its fundamental role in shaping the trends that generate political policy.

    https://thephilosophicalsalon.com/the-cia-reads-french-theory-on-the-intellectual-labor-of-dismantling-the-cultural-left/

    • Dennis Frank 7.1

      So to the historical origin of the triangulation adopted by the Greens towards the twin evils of the left and right:

      Greg Grandin, one of the leading historians of Latin America, perfectly summarized this situation in The Last Colonial Massacre: “Aside from making visibly disastrous and deadly interventions in Guatemala in 1954, the Dominican Republic in 1965, Chile in 1973, and El Salvador and Nicaragua during the 1980s, the United States has lent quiet and steady financial, material, and moral support for murderous counterinsurgent terror states. […] But the enormity of Stalin’s crimes ensures that such sordid histories, no matter how compelling, thorough, or damning, do not disturb the foundation of a worldview committed to the exemplary role of the United States in defending what we now know as democracy.”

    • Dennis Frank 7.2

      The author examines how the control system uses the left as dupes:

      As we know from the research on the CIA’s program of psychological warfare, the organization has not only tracked and sought to coerce individuals, but it has always been keen on understanding and transforming institutions of cultural production and distribution.

      Indeed, its study on French theory points to the structural role universities, publishing houses and the media play in the formation and consolidation of a collective political ethos.

      In descriptions that, like the rest of the document, should invite us to think critically about the current academic situation in the Anglophone world and beyond, the authors of the report foreground the ways in which the precarization of academic labor contributes to the demolition of radical leftism. If strong leftists cannot secure the material means necessary to carry out our work, or if we are more or less subtly forced to conform in order to find employment, publish our writings or have an audience, then the structural conditions for a resolute leftist community are weakened. The vocationalization of higher education is another tool used for this end since it aims at transforming people into techno-scientific cogs in the capitalist apparatus rather than autonomous citizens with reliable tools for social critique. The theory mandarins of the CIA therefore praise the efforts on the part of the French government to “push students into business and technical courses.”

      So what to do about that? Unusually for a leftist intellectual, he sees a way forward.

      develop systemic and radical critique that is as egalitarian and ecological as it is anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist… In direct opposition to the spy agency’s cultural strategy of fragment and polarize, by which it has sought to sever and isolate the anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist left, while opposing it to reformist positions, we should federate and mobilize by recognizing the importance of working together—across the entire left… by working together and mobilizing our capacity to collectively create the institutions necessary for a world of cultural leftism.

      For the left, the road to hell has always been paved by such good intentions. Translating them into effective action requires praxis (something leftists don't like even thinking about let alone doing) in which individual talent & flair gets synthesised in group contexts to produce collaboration.

      Group-think in these contexts can be defeated by intelligent design. Principles and incentives that balance diversity of opinion with mutual commitments and agreed tasks and goals usually achieve likeminded output without infighting. Leadership to steer process towards destination can be both individual & collective. However, in our current context political activists must adapt by leaving the past failures behind them if they are serious about becoming successful…

      • Blazer 7.2.1

        The born to rule, rich go to great lengths to maintain the status quo and their….authority.

        All the Congress and Senate members being millionaires…helps too.

    • Johnr 8.1

      As an old stale pale male Efeso certainly has my vote. He is a breath of fresh air. The rest of the candidates from both sides of the political divide will, in my view, be mayor of the CBD only, as Goff has proven to be. The rest of the peasantry will be ignored

    • Anne 8.2

      Re – the first link:

      It maybe a problem for Labour but I suspect they're going to have to suck it up.

      Nice bloke though he is, one thing Richard Hill does not have is charisma. Efeso Collins on the other hand has it in spades. Add that to his impressive and rational thinking processes, he should be a shoo-in for the mayoralty. I believe his popularity would also transcend the Labour Party and if Labour tries to undermine him then it would likely be to their detriment.

  8. tsmithfield 9

    So, the government planned to have the RAT tests available for sale in New Zealand weeks ago.

    And, as the article points out, the MOH has been far too slow on approving test suppliers. Absolutely unacceptable:

    "Wallis Keiller's Invitrocue rapid antigen test is banned in New Zealand – it doesn't have Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield's blessing, and very few do. It's a saliva rapid antigen test that links up to an app for a result. While approved by Germany's tough medical regulator, it's not approved here…..Keiller says his tests have a 97 percent accuracy and as soon as he gets signoff he can get loads here quickly."

    https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2022/01/omicron-government-planned-to-have-covid-19-rapid-antigen-tests-for-sale-weeks-ago.html

  9. Herodotus 10

    So our govt has indexed benefits to wage growth. Wage growth last year was 2.4% inflation 5.9% . Everyone faces the same struggle how to survive on less. And this decrease in spending power applies for every year that wages growth is less than inflation. But Grant Robertson said this morning “It’s really challenging people, but an awful lot of it relates to Covid, supply chain and things that unfortunately will work their way through the system this year.” Grant you and your fellow ministers are disconnected with the day to day world the rest of us live in, and our pain is due to YOUR policies.

    https://www.msd.govt.nz/documents/about-msd-and-our-work/newsroom/factsheets/budget/factsheet-benefit-indexation-2019.pdf

    http://www.voxy.co.nz/politics/5/397995#:~:text=%22At%205.9%25%20for%202021%2C,has%20been%20in%20three%20decades.&text=%22With%20wage%20growth%20of%20only,record%20amounts%20of%20government%20spending.

  10. Bill 11

    Hmm. Omicron BA.2 is apparently 50% more infectious than Omicron BA.1 (the original from S.A.).

    Seems NZ might have foregone the frying pan for the fire (in terms of health system capacity) by resisting community spread of Omicron BA.1.

    • weka 11.1

      meanwhile, long covid, and there's been recent more concern about the impacts of any covid infection on human anatomy and physiology.

      You're very sure of yourself on omicron being relatively harmless, but I've yet to see you address the long covid and other issues arising.

      • Bill 11.1.1

        You are likely going to catch Covid. – end –

        Meanwhile, were you not one of the people expressing terrible concern over NZ health care system's capacity to cope with a rapid spread of Covid?

        • weka 11.1.1.1
          1. probably, but people, the country and the health system being in the best possible position is better than letting covid run free (aka not resisting community spread). We also learn more as time goes on. At some point we may well have to make a different set of decisions, but by mid year we will have actual data on omicron and long covid.
          2. yes, what's your point? We're in the process of developing the skills of slowing viruses that are highly contagious. That wills serve us with any new variants that are more infectious (or spread faster).

          Further, it appears that there are significant numbers of people getting omicron who have already had covid. There is so much to learn yet about human immunity in response to covid, across a number of areas.

          You still aren't addressing long covid, so I will assume it's a case of collateral damage in a strategy of not resisting community spread.

          All of which is to say that we don't actually know what the frying pan and the fire are yet.

          • Bill 11.1.1.1.1

            If "best possible position" had been a serious consideration, then there would have been over two years worth of effective public health policy, and public health messaging on what people might do to optimise their immune system. Instead we got Big Pharma's vaccinate or bust strategy that cleared the table of anything and everything that might hamper 'vaccination for all' while introducing deleterious measures that had scant regard for actual health. It has been 100% medical maleficence.

            By mid- year Omicron will have washed through and the acute phase abated because people will have acquired natural immunity from infection. Covid will be endemic because it has multiple reservoirs in mammalian populations.

            I'm curious as to what these imaginary skills might be (the stopping or slowing spread ones) – because we already have effective anti-virals that kill the virus (and therefor stop the spread). But they've been variously banned or not publicised. Hell. On an individual level Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo solution is a hugely effective preventative measure if used as a nasal rinse. Listerine is another effective measure if gargled. And yes. The studies have been done and were published over a year ago. And then of course, there's naturally acquired immunity from previous infection…though that was rubbished and discounted by government health agencies "everywhere" until very recently for some reason that had, honest Joe, nothing to do with any crusade.

            Have you read up on the decades long health tail off from the Spanish Flu I alerted you to previously? Long Covid isn't a thing – it's Covid. Covid might have multiple health effects that will ripple for decades and that will, for some part, only ever be recognised in retrospect.

            Anyway. Enough of combating denial, avoidance and fear for one day.

            If Omicron BA.2 gets into the community, in lieu of Omicron BA.1 that it appears to be supplanting, the spread of Covid will be faster than it would have been, and so whatever stresses and strains on infrastructure Omicron BA.1 might have presented will be exacerbated. That was essentially all I was remarking on. Chow.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 11.2

      Seems NZ might have foregone the frying pan for the fire (in terms of health system capacity) by resisting community spread of Omicron BA.1.

      So resisting/slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Kiwi communities is (seems / might be) unwise (frying pan –> fire), in your opinion? Still, it will be spreading fast enough within a week or two – no hurry, eh?

      Most people infected with COVID-19 will be fine, but some will suffer from various long COVID symptoms, and unvaccinated people are over-represented among the unfortunate few who are hospitalised and/or die with COVID infections. The 7-day moving average for COVID deaths in Australia is ~70 per day.

      Not too late to get your booster if you're eligible, and let your immune system bank a little extra protection ahead of the Omicron surge – a prudent precaution, imho.

      All of New Zealand is now at Red
      Protect yourself and our community by getting boosted, wearing a face mask when out and about and reducing contact with others.

      Unite against
      COVID-19
      https://covid19.govt.nz

      • Bill 11.2.1

        So resisting/slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Kiwi communities is (seems / might be) unwise (frying pan –> fire), in your opinion?

        No.

        I've merely observed government policy was to keep one variant at bay "because highly transmissible), and we're possibly going to be hit by more transmissible one.

        • McFlock 11.2.1.1

          So far government policy has been to keep every variant at bay, because covid kills people.

        • Drowsy M. Kram 11.2.1.2

          Isn't it NZ government policy (and MoH strategy) to keep all COVID variants at bay? Just thinking how the Team’s successful 'elimination strategy' shifted to a suppression strategy as the virus evolved – adapt or die!

          Both the virus and civiisation are in uncharted waters – what next?

  11. Adrian 12

    The much spruiked income from tourism is bullshit, figures from 10 to 40 billion were being talked about at the start of covid with sensible critics saying maybe 8 to 14. Covid proved them all wrong. A large number of Aussie visitors are kiwis visiting family and they don’t spend that much, the balance particularly from Asia are bought here in vertically integrated systems where pretty much all the trip costs are bought and paid for in their home countries and are to pay for services mostly owned by Asian entities, airlines, buses, accomodation etc and this money doesn’t get banked in NZ , they probably spend far less a day than than ordinary Kiwis on a tiki tour. Also most tourists don’t spend long in NZ, a matter of a few weeks or less, whereas Kiwis travelling take a lot longer on their overseas holidays.

    It is not in the industry’s interest in the slightest to have the real numbers revealed, even cruise ship visits are counted as ‘ visitor nights’ when some passengers don’t even get off the boat let alone sleep ashore. This is deceitful accounting and the

    reason is the leveraging power of the mythical value to the country. Just listen to the bleating over every little sensible public safety advice or instruction, and the self importance is plain to see. The economy did far better with Kiwis spending their own thwarted trip money locally on having a look around here and then putting the balance in the bank or a bit of a tart-up at home.

  12. The Mess 13

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/460377/auckland-light-rail-tunnel-to-run-to-mt-roskill-before-following-sh20-to-the-airport

    So much shade thrown, so much shade.

    Looks good though, as grade separation via tunnelling along half of it works pretty well, and can always redo the southern section later on if need be. Though still need to get the North Shore section nailed down to get the full benefit and get this all started before Labour looses power. So then National can't cancel it as easily due to all the contracts involved :3

    But I can sense a mighty whinge arising from National and ACT over this, partly on cost, mainly on "public transport is evils whaaaaaa!". Along with usual moaning about the time it'll take, but given how long certain National done projects (Transmission Gully, Christchurch Rebuild and Northern Motorway, etc) took or are still in progress, despite National's claims about their competency, they don't have a foot to stand on.

    Now if only Labour would do the same for Public Housing already… Figure that may happen after the next election, as a Labour-Greens government is highly likely, but we shall see.

    Also, I'm rather jealous Auckland's finally getting it's public transport network sorted, because Christchurch's is still kind of shit. Sure, the new bike corridors are nice and more bus lanes have helped, but the bike corridors don't have anywhere near enough reach and buses still get snarled up in rush hour traffic at chokepoints like Riccarton Road etc. But it'll be forever at this rate before heavy and light rail are accepted by ECan.

    [your pre-approved user name appears to be […], so please stick with that – Incognito]

    [name removed while we discuss this in the back end – weka]

    • Incognito 13.1

      Moderation note for you.

    • The Mess 13.2

      Bah, let my name be >_<

      I used to post here years ago, probably under TheMess or The_Mess with the same email address lawl. But depression kicked my arse so I haven't had the energy to engage here in ages…

      • weka 13.2.1

        I take that as you wanting The Mess. Just check the name field next time you comment, you will probably have to retype it. Cheers.

      • Patricia Bremner 13.2.2

        The Mess, Glad you are beating The Black Dog. Enjoyed your comments. I agree that National say they are good managers, but facts say otherwise.

    • weka 13.3

      The Mess, can you please let us know if you want to use The Mess as your username going forward, or if you want to revert back to the one you have used on TS in the past?

    • weka 13.4

      did the Greens have a plan for Christchurch rail?

      • The Mess 13.4.1

        No idea sadly, it's mainly been Christchurch City Council pushing for it to become government policy. I probably should go read up the policy, since I now party vote Greens instead of Labour. Because despite their anti-GMO stance, they hit the mark mostly on the other social welfare and climate change stuff.

      • arkie 13.4.2

        As part of the 2020 election they announced this plan:

        The Green Party’s plan for Christchurch includes:

        • A new commuter rail services connecting Rangiora, Kaiapoi and Belfast to the CBD
        • A new commuter rail service to Rolleston
        • Extended fast passenger rail services out to Ashburton and eventually further north and south
        • A new high-speed bus rapid transit service, linking the commuter rail lines to the city, University, and airport
        • New funding to expand the city’s major cycle routes.

        Also connected to the 2020 Future of Transport election priority:

        Our Future of Transport plan would set Aotearoa up for the future by:

        • Investing in large scale rapid rail to reboot the regions between major cities
        • Accelerating transformational public transport networks within our major cities, including busways, light rail, and rail
        • Setting up a $1.5 billion Cycle Superhighway fund to provide safe, separated cycleways, with the capacity to be used by thousands of people each day
        • Introducing a target date for only zero emission light vehicles to be able to be imported to Aotearoa, and linking this to the date set by the UK, likely to be 2030
        • Incentivise heavy freight to transition to zero emissions vehicles and be 100% powered by renewable energy by 2050
        • Setting up a nationwide Go Anywhere transport pass that works on all public transport, and provides access to electric car share, e-bike subscriptions and e-scooters in the main cities across the country
        • Reducing the cost of public transport by making it free for people over 65, under 18 and community services holders, by reducing the cost by 50% for students, and by setting up weekly payment limits – so no one pays for more than eight rides a week.
    • The Mess 13.5

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/127610200/auckland-light-rail-goes-for-tunnel-option-with-harbour-crossing

      National and ACT's response is at the end, and it's just as sad and useless as I suspected:

      The National Party has called the plan “a dream.”

      “If it ever goes ahead it will be at least $15 billion of wasted spending,” said Simeon Brown, National's transport spokesman.

      Brown said, “the number one priority for Aucklanders is a second Harbour Crossing for both public transport and private vehicles.”

      The ACT party said it was not opposed to light rail, but disagreed with the approach being taken by the government.

      “Auckland is staring down a decade of disruption,” said ACT’s transport spokesman Simon Court.

      “Questions need to be asked about whether we could be taking actions today at less cost to deliver light rail in the future. For example, options like investing in the bus network and repurposing it for light rail later could be reconsidered.”

      One wonder's how it'll be wasteful Simon, when the return on investment for rail public transit systems in cities is historically very positive. It's also somewhat cheaper than filling Auckland with more highways when Auckland's running out of room for them with out very, very expensive mass buyouts of property for the space. Oh and a 2nd car bridge would result in more congestion due to pumping more cars into the network.

      As for ACT, lolwut? Put light rail on bus lanes? Pray tell, how exactly is that meant to work with the sort of infrastructure light rail needs + the problems with high frequency runs vis the lack of grade separation and stations? Never mind the disruption that would entail trying to do.

      Oh right, under ACT it would never happen, and instead the bus service would be entirely profit driven and thus stop serving much of Auckland bar the highest usage areas. Because Uber exists and 1 person per car/SUV is oh so much more "freedom" and everyone can totally afford it and to pay Auckland private market rents.

      Right, lunch calls, finally…

  13. Dennis Frank 14

    Xiomara Castro was sworn in as Honduras' first female president Thursday in the capital, Tegucigalpa.

    Castro, a democratic socialist, won a landslide victory in last year's presidential election after campaigning on a radical agenda to counter years of governance plagued by corruption and scandal. She promised to alleviate poverty and liberalize abortion laws.

    Castro's party, the Freedom and Refoundation Party (Libre) won the November 2021 vote with a lead of more than 14 points over her nearest opponent, Nasry Asfura, the capital's mayor and candidate for outgoing President Juan Orlando Hernández's National Party.

    Winning 51% of the vote share and 1.7 million votes, Castro garnered the largest number of votes in the country's history, underscoring the public's appetite for change.

    Castro's promise to stamp out the systemic problems behind poverty, including economic insecurity, inequality, corruption and violence — some of the root causes of migration to the north — is not only popular with the electorate, but has made her an attractive ally for US President Joe Biden's administration. Vice President Kamala Harris, who is overseeing the White House's efforts to stem the flow of migrants to the US southern border, was among those in attendance for the inauguration.

    https://edition.cnn.com/2022/01/27/americas/xiomara-castro-honduras-inauguration-intl/index.html

    Her ascendancy is interesting for several reasons. Her husband was president – ousted by a coup in 2009 – for an establishment party (the liberals).

    The party system is dominated by the conservative National Party of Honduras and the Liberal Party of Honduras.

    This establishment duopoly prevailed for over a century!

    In January 2021, Honduras changed the country's constitution to make it almost impossible to legalize abortion in the future. Before that, Honduras was already one of few countries with a complete ban on abortion. The constitutional reform was supported by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez's ruling National Party.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Honduras

    She defeated the Nationals decisively – therefore has a mandate to alter that constitutional roadblock to abortion! Imagine the conservative consternation.

    • Blazer 14.1

      'made her an attractive ally for US President Joe Biden's administration. Vice President Kamala Harris, who is overseeing the White House's efforts to stem the flow of migrants to the US southern border, was among those in attendance for the inauguration.'

      BIG…surprise.

      'Honduras, where the United Fruit Company and Standard Fruit Company dominated the country's key banana export sector and associated land holdings and railways, saw insertion of American troops in 1903, 1907, 1911, 1912, 1919, 1924 and 1925. The writer O. Henry coined the term "Banana republic" in 1904 to describe Honduras.'-wiki

      'The US intervened in numerous military coups to protect its commercial interests, embedding a conservative, Americanised elite. Contra guerrillas backed by President Ronald Reagan used Honduras as a base to attack Nicaragua's Sandinista government in the 1980s.'-Guardian.

      • Dennis Frank 14.1.1

        I wonder if they shared a banana at the civic reception later? In honour of the grand tradition I mean…

        Xiomara: "Did you know your country invaded mine seven times a century ago?"

        Kamala: (gulp) "Yes, I got a briefing on the history before I left."

        Xiomara: "Seven is the magic number. It cast a godalmighty spell on us. We've been spell-bound ever since."

        Kamala: "Well, my president is a wizard with words. He trumped Trump!"

        Xiomara: "You think he could do a counter-spell for us?"

        Kamala: "You need help with abortion rights. He could talk to the Pope."

  14. alwyn 15

    Well the Labour Party have found a way to introduce a Capital Gains Tax without calling it that. They are also going to put it on the family home. While they are about it they are going to claim that they are also providing you with the Capital Gain so it won't actually cost you anything.

    How do they do it? Firstly they are going to say that putting in a 19th century design tram somewhere near you is going to put up the value of your home. Aren't you going to be grateful? They will ignore the fact that thanks to their crazy policies the price of all Auckland homes has risen.

    Then they will tax you some percentage of this supposed gain because the increase is all due to the tram line. It isn't a capital gain of course. It is a windfall profit according to Robbo. This "windfall' they will tax. They won't even wait till you get it of course. They will tax you…heavily….every year….even if you never use the damn tram.

    What is near the line? Well all of New Zealand actually. After all. If you were ever allowed to visit Auckland the tram line would be a sight for you, a tourist, to swoon over. I'm sure you will love to contribute to Robbo's coffers.

    There. Simple wasn't it. All we have to do is get it in quickly and line up all the Labour MPs to recite, in unison, and over and over again.

    "This is a windfall, it is not a Capital Gain". Repeat this line over and over while interposing at intervals "Thank you Saint Jacinda for the bounty of your windfall".

    There, done.

    • Blazer 15.1

      'They are also going to put it on the family home. '

      Alwyn,I say alwyn…are you feeling…alright!surprise

      • alwyn 15.1.1

        You obviously haven't read what the Minister concerned has been saying. The "he" in the quote is Michael Wood.

        '“It is fair and equitable that those who receive a financial windfall from significant public investment make a contribution to the project. We are clearly signalling that will happen, and that is a live prospect from today,” he said.

        Levying properties to fund new infrastructure has already occurred, with new homes in the Milldale Development north of Auckland, paying an extra charge.

        .A regime for light rail would be different in that it would apply to existing properties.'

        So what are the homes he talks about if they do not include family homes?

        https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/300505493/properties-around-aucklands-light-rail-likely-to-face-value-capture-tax

      • alwyn 15.1.2

        You've gone very quiet Blazer? Have your mates embarrassed you? When do you think the PM will quit, or veto Robertson and Wood's little ploy?

        Or do you think she will behave like a typical politician and just deny she said it?

        • Blazer 15.1.2.1

          It was a revelation alwyn…I would actually like 'Tony Blair ' in high heels to quit.

          This 'transformational' Govt is almost as disappointing as the Natz.

    • Gypsy 15.2

      "Firstly they are going to say that putting in a 19th century design tram somewhere near you is going to put up the value of your home. "

      A correction:

      Firstly they are going to say that putting in a 19th century design tram, that will be patronised by only a handful of people because the public transport system is shit, somewhere near you is going to put up the value of your home.

    • Jimmy 15.3

      If it moves (a train moves) tax it! If it doesn't move (like your house) tax it anyway!

  15. McFlock 16

    Any thoughts on personalising masks?

    The N95 etc don't seem to take a dye even if dyeing doesn't screw them up. That leaves overmasks, or possibly masquerade masks over the top of the face, lol

  16. tsmithfield 17

    Australia is nearly as useless as us so far as RATs are concerned. Pity we didn't hadn't learnt from what they are doing in the UK now, where they have lots of experience with Covid.

    "Rapid antigen tests in the UK have individual bar codes which people photograph after taking their free test and upload the result to the NHS website, whether they are negative or positive. This means the health authorities have a clearer idea of the spread of COVID in the community."

    https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/the-government-has-been-found-wanting-once-again-20220104-p59ltc.html

    But we are so woefully unprepared so far as RATs go that our government has hit the panic button by diverting supplies away from the private sector.

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