The Jackel’s week in review

Written By: - Date published: 5:00 pm, May 7th, 2011 - Comments Off on The Jackel’s week in review
Categories: standard week - Tags:

The week that was 30 April – 6 May

Written by The Jackal at 11:21 AM

New Zealand has the third-highest rate of children living in single-parent homes, an OECD study says. This means nearly one in four Kiwi children are growing up in single-parent homes as more marriages break up and single women choose to enter motherhood on their own. Of twenty seven industrialised countries, New Zealand ranked third in the Doing Better for Families study, with 23.7 per cent of children living in a one-parent household, compared with the 14.9 per cent average across all countries.

Children’s Commissioner John Angus said Kiwi children were four times more likely to be living under the poverty line if a single parent was raising them.

As of December last year, any person or organisation that provides financial service to a member of the public has to register with the Companies Office as a financial service provider and belong to an approved dispute resolution scheme like FSCL. The new responsible lending guidelines launched this week could prove a deterrent to loan sharking practices as they can be used to look into complaints made against lending companies whether they signed up to the guidelines or not, a dispute resolution provider says.

Child Poverty Action Group executive member Claire Dale said its good to see consumers will be able to access free information about the dispute resolution services but she objects to “the pretence that the guidelines will address the issues of finance companies making loans with cripplingly high interest rates, punitive default conditions, and excessive security and powers of repossession”.

“New Zealand is one of the few countries in the OECD who has continued to deny the most vulnerable citizens the protection of a capped interest rate. The guidelines slap loan sharks with a dead fish, and sidestep the very real need for the government to cap interest rates,” Ms Dale said.

The Law Commission issued a report on the 35-year-old drug laws, saying there was room for “a more flexible approach to small-scale dealing and personal drug use”, particularly when linked to addiction. The report also suggests that the Government should carry out clinical trials on the effectiveness of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

A new system of warnings for personal possession and “social dealing” of drugs is proposed, with three warnings for a class C drug offence before an offender would be ordered to attend “a brief intervention session”. Two warnings would apply for class B drug offences, and one for class A. There should also be a presumption against imprisonment for those prosecuted for “social dealing” that had no profit for the dealer, the report says.

Nearly half of New Zealand’s adult population has used cannabis at some point in their lives and about one in seven were classified as current users in 2006. The report says there should be no changes that dilute prohibition of drug use. “However, there is room for taking a more flexible approach to small-scale dealing and personal possession and use.” The police submission on the report, obtained by Fairfax, objects to the proposals for a “cautioning” approach. Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said too many resources were directed into criminalising people rather than providing them with medical help.

“This new approach, if adopted, will actually save money, enabling greater resources to be directed into health services for breaking the cycle of drug abuse and addiction. It will also free police to tackle more serious crime.” Metiria said.

On Monday Greenpeace activists began blocking the construction of the European Pressurized Nuclear Reactor (EPR) being built at Flamanville, France. Two trucks were anchored to the ground, blockading the entrance carrying activists. More activists scaled four cranes, attempting to impede further construction work at the site.

The EPR design in particular has a number of safety risks similar to Fukushima, as the French nuclear safety authority ASN pointed out a few weeks ago. The regulator must now act and enforce a moratorium on the site.

Worldwide concerns surrounding radioactivity continue after the Fukushima Dai-ichi meltdowns, with both levels in the atmosphere and sea water surrounding the plant containing higher than normal levels, and more concerns over the radioactivity which may have entered the food and drinking water systems.

In Germany, the Christian Democratic Union, blamed the Fukushima meltdown for a regional election loss. Seven of the county’s oldest plants were temporarily shut down in the immediate aftermath of the event and protests have taken place in Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne and Munich, where 200,000 people gathered to demand the closure of all Germany’s reactors.

Austria’s environment minister called for stress tests to make sure Europe’s nuclear facilities are earthquake-proof. The European Commission also agreed that in the wake of the disaster, stress tests should be performed on power stations in the EU to test how robust their safety systems are. EU Energy Commissioner Gunter Oettinger raised doubts that all the 143 reactors in Europe would get approval under the review.

In China, one of the biggest builders of new nuclear, has suspended building on its new reactors, pending new safety regulations. The Bangladeshi government on the other hand has announced they will go ahead with their new power station, while in India a safety review has been announced, although no shift looks likely in their pro-nuclear policy.

Customs officials in Chile detected radiation in cars that arrived from Japan onboard the Hyundai 106 cargo ship. Twenty-one of the 2,500 cars that arrived in Iquique, Chile from the Japanese port of Yokohama have been found to have low levels of radiation. Nearly one hundred port workers have protested the arrival of the shipment and subsequent exposure, claiming their health was at risk.

Global anti-corruption coalition Transparency International (TI) has released the ‘Global Corruption Report: Climate Change’, which presented guidelines to prevent corruption which could undermine climate change remedy actions.

“Where huge amounts of money flow through new and untested financial markets and mechanisms, there is always a risk of corruption. Some estimate total climate change investments in mitigation efforts alone at almost $700-billion by 2020. Public investments of no less than $250-billion a year will eventually flow through new, relatively uncoordinated and untested channels. In addition, pressure already exists to ‘fast-track’ solutions, further enhancing the risk of corruption,” said the report.

It called on governments, international organisations, businesses and civil society to ensure good governance in climate policy, because under global climate agreements, substantial funding would be gathered to finance mitigation of emissions, such as renewable energy projects, and adaptation to impacts, such as construction of sea walls, irrigation systems and disaster-ready housing.

Conservation Department staff have been told to expect job losses as part of a wide-ranging review and restructure of the organisation. Director-general Al Morrison has told staff of the review, which follows a year of mergers and job cuts after the department had its budget slashed in 2009. It is refusing to say how many jobs may be at risk, saying it is too early and that the restructure is still in a “design phase”.

The restructure could affect teams who process permits and concessions, mapping staff, resource management planners, and legal, payroll and administrative staff. Scientific and technical officer jobs were also being looked at as part of the review. Public Service Association national secretary Brenda Pilott said the review was being done to save money. The union did not know how many job losses there would be. In the 2009 Budget, DOC had $54 million cut from its budget over four years.

John Key is adamant that the NZDF has done nothing wrong in Afghanistan and continues to refuse an independent enquiry into allegations made in John Stephenson’s recent article in Metro Magazine, which accuses the NZSAS of being complicit in the torture of Afghan Civilians. This has resulted in the Greens saying

“If the Prime Minister John Key and Governor General Designate Jerry Mataparae have nothing to hide, then they should welcome an enquiry as an opportunity for their version of the truth to be confirmed. If they continue to stonewall an investigation, and throw mud at the messenger, then the New Zealand public will have no choice but to assume that the SAS are in fact guilty as accused, and that the Governor General Designate and Prime Minister have deliberately lied the New Zealand public on several occasions” The Green Party said.

John Key publicly attacked John Stephenson’s journalistic credibility over the NZSAS Metro article. Mr Key also said Mr Stephenson made a phone call to him and alleges Mr Stephenson impersonated Duncan Garner, a well known TV3 right wing journalist.  The public attack by the Prime Minister as well as statements made by Rhys Jones, the chief of defence force – will possibly be the subject of legal action undertaken by Mr Stephenson.

New Zealand has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world, which is the most likely cause of cancer in Kiwi men aged 25 to 44, and those over 60 are most at risk. One in 13 men will get melanoma in their lifetime, compared with one in 18 women. Melanoma unit surgeon and Melanoma Foundation trustee Richard Martin says continued exposure to the sun for a long period, as in the case of farmers, means a higher risk later in life. The foundation says melanoma is a deadly skin cancer that has a devastating impact on 2000 New Zealanders and their families every year.

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. While it is not the most common skin cancer, it causes the most deaths. Melanoma is most common in white-skinned individuals, but it may develop in those with dark skin as well. About one in 15 white-skinned New Zealanders are expected to develop melanoma in their lifetime, and Australia and New Zealand have the highest reported rates of melanoma in the world. It was the third most common cancer registration in New Zealand in females and the fourth most common cancer for males in 2000.

Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Christopher Finlayson welcomed the beginning of the 11th New Zealand Music Month, saying it was a great way to sample from the full range of local music offerings with events nationwide.

“New Zealand musicians are consistently recognised on the international stage, from contemporary acts at the annual SXSW music fair in Austin, Texas to the NZSO performing in Vienna. We can take advantage of the fact we have thriving live music scenes across many genres right on our door-steps during May. New Zealand Music Month is an excellent opportunity to get out of the house and see our world class musicians in their natural environment, whether that is Auckland’s Aotea Centre or Karangahape Road, the Wellington Opera House or Cuba Street,” Mr Finlayson said.

Sir Bob Geldof was honored for his humanitarian work at the Gulf Intelligence Food Security Forum held in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. According to statistics presented at the conference, the number of people suffering from chronic hunger surpassed one billion for the first time last year. At the same time, food prices hit a new high in February 2011, surpassing the previous peak prices of December 2010.

“Countries such as the UAE that control vital natural resources like oil should take a stand and put pressure on other nations to ensure food security for all,” Sir Bob Geldof said.

Speaking on the occasion, Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the UAE, said ensuring world food security called for innovative and scientific solutions to the problem.

“Food security is a complicated problem. Higher standards of living and better health care are signs of development, but they also increase the demand for food. We therefore need to increase food production and supply in ways that do not pose a threat to development, as well as ensure that development does not increase food security concerns,” Shaikh Nahyan said.

There are reports of many civilians being massacred in the small Syrian town of Tel Kalakh, with reports that the Syrian army’s 4th Brigade fired into unarmed protesters. Almost half the Sunni Muslim population fled over the river frontier into Lebanon, babes in arms, old people in wheelchairs, pushed through the shallow waters of the Nahr el-Kbir.

As many as 4,000 of the Syrian Sunnis made it to the safety of Lebanon to be given food, shelter and blankets by relatives and by strangers and they were there yesterday – 80 living in one house alone scarcely 20m from Syria, desperate to praise the kindness of the Lebanese, fearful of the things they had seen, ferocious in their anger against their president.

The men responsible for the killings in Tel Kalakh were members of the Syrian army’s 4th Brigade, the same unit, commanded by President Bashar al-Assad’s little brother Maher, that is besieging the southern city of Deraa, along with government snipers and “shabiha” thugs from the Alawi mountains. Dressed in black, the latter spent some time, according to Syrian refugee women, tearing the veils off girls and trying to kidnap them.

NATO undertook an attack on a Libyan building which killed Gaddafi’s youngest son Saif al-Arab Gaddafi, and three of his grandchildren. This occurred despite the UN resolution 1973, which prohibits attacks on civilians. Nato maintains that it was not an assassination attempt and that the building was used to support military personnel. Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said;

“The house of Mr Saif al-Arab Gaddafi was attacked tonight with full power. The leader with his wife was there in the house with other friends and relatives. The leader himself is in good health, he wasn’t harmed, however this is a direct operation to assassinate the leader of this country. This is not permitted by international law. It is not permitted by any moral code or principle.” the spokesman said, adding that Gaddafi’s wife was also unharmed.

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  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    1 week ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago

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