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Turing – so much more …

Written By: - Date published: 4:26 pm, July 23rd, 2013 - 51 comments
Categories: accountability, capitalism, internet, Spying, telecommunications - Tags:

A pardon for the gross abuse of Alan Turing is long overdue.  He made a major contribution to computer science.  However, it’s also interesting to see some of the headlines about the UK government is prepared to support a backbench Bill  aimed at pardoning Turing.  It focuses on his role in breaking the Enigma Code during World War II, but he was so much more:

Friday’s headline in the UK Guardian is “Enigma code breaker Alan Turing to be given posthumous pardon”. [h/t joe90]

Alan Turing, the Enigma codebreaker who took his own life after being convicted of gross indecency under anti-homosexuality legislation, is to be given a posthumous pardon.

[…]

The announcement marks a change of heart by the government, which declined last year to grant pardons to the 49,000 gay men, now dead, who were convicted under the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act. They include Oscar Wilde.

[…]

Turing broke German ciphers using the bombe method, which allowed the code-breakers to crack the German Enigma code. His colleague Tommy Flowers built the Colossus computer. Ahmad described Turing as “one of the fathers, if not the father, of computer science”.

The legacy of his maths and computing are still with us, and he should at least be as equally remembered for that as for breaking the Enigma Code.  There’s been a website (by biographer Andrew Hodges) and a musical dedicated to him and his life.  The Guardian article on the musical says this:

Turing’s story has already been told in Hugh Whitemore’s Breaking the Code, but this musical version is much more than a coda as it pits Turing’s idea of machines that can think against the question: what does it mean to be human?

About the first thing I heard about Turing was the Turing Test, aimed at assessing if a computer was able to “think”.

Turing addressed the problem of artificial intelligence, and proposed an experiment which became known as the Turing test, an attempt to define a standard for a machine to be called “intelligent”. The idea was that a computer could be said to “think” if a human interrogator could not tell it apart, through conversation, from a human being.[79] In the paper, Turing suggested that rather than building a program to simulate the adult mind, it would be better rather to produce a simpler one to simulate a child’s mind and then to subject it to a course of education. A reversed form of the Turing test is widely used on the Internet; the CAPTCHA test is intended to determine whether the user is a human or a computer.

It sometimes seems like some TS “trolls” would not be able to pass a Turing Test.  Exchanges with them seem like talking to Eliza.

Given that Turing’s private life was treated in such an inhumane way, I wonder what Turing would have thought about state agencies’ involvement in intrusive digital surveillance in the 21st century?

Curiously there are apparently no US or UK government surveillance files on Turing.  Others have written that, once his sexuality was known, Turing was under constant police surveillance, and was considered to be a security risk.  Attracted by stories of gay male dances in Scandinavia, Turing traveled there and met a Norwegian man, Kjell,

after whom he would name one of his final computer programs.

Kjell arrived in Newcastle, England, when,

 … since his conviction of Gross Indecency in 1952 (see Part One) Turing had been under police surveillance, with officers posted outside his home. In this context, the arrival of a foreign visitor was viewed as a potential security leak, and officers were deployed all over the North of England to intercept Kjell.[8] At this point in his life, Turing’s accomplishments had become more of a burden than an asset, as his knowledge of the British nuclear program made him a high security risk. As such his movements and activities were closely monitored, and his relationship with the police (“the poor sweeties,” as he called them) were increasingly frayed. Yet despite being deprived further access to government resources, and despite increasing surveillance and police suspicion, Turing seems to have continued working on a set of experimental ideas that, apart from a few allusions in letters to Gandy and others, are entirely lost.[9]

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear?

Computing technologies contribute much that is good to the modern world, but it is their potential to support, not undermine, democracy that we should always try to remember and celebrate.

Turing’s life story provides much to celebrate, as well as a cautionary tale:

No to John Key’s GCSB and related surveillance Bills – a charter for abuse of privacy and democracy!

51 comments on “Turing – so much more …”

  1. Bill 1

    Never been altogether comfortable with the assertion that the internet somehow promotes democracy; not saying it doesn’t or can’t; just that I don’t see how it does.

    True, that more information and perspectives are avaliable than was the case in the days before the internet and that some of it is valuable. But how does that lead on into greater democracy? So much information and so many distractions might simply lead to a situation where with so much going on, nobody really knows what is going on.

    True also, that the internet means that (at least sometimes) information can be spread to more people quicker. But how exactly does that, in and of itself, support, promote or encourage democracy? Sure, it might mean that people can converge in one place quickly in support of some greivence/idea. And that’s valuable from one perspective of organising (numbers) But if those gathered are then subjected to the same old top down decision making processes…or even brought together as a result of the same processes, then the obvious counter argument applies – that the internet encourages the basis for authoritarianism.

    Then there is the fact, mentioned often enough here at ‘ts’, that too many people treat their keyboard entries as a substitute for activism – ie, feet on the streets, bodies at face to face meetings/gatherings and networking/socialising/organising.

    At present I’m inclined to view the internet as a somewhat useful tool with definate limitations and a fair few obvious downsides. But maybe I’m missing something really obvious. If I am, I’m more than happy to have it pointed out to me.

    • weka 1.1

      The question then becomes, why has the internet not been more successfully used to promote democracy in the West? I’m tempted to say there is great untapped potential, but I suspect the reasons we aren’t taking better advantage of the useful bits of the internet have less to do with the internet and more to do with the humans.

    • Huginn 1.2

      The internet supports democracy by making politicians more immediately available to their constituents.

      Technologically astute politicians can build broad, engaged and immediately responsive support base eg through twitter. They can ask their support bases to micro-fund them, which reduces the influence of vested interests.

      • Bill 1.2.1

        That’s the ”obvious counter argument” I mentioned in my comment, right there.

      • Colonial Viper 1.2.2

        They can ask their support bases to micro-fund them, which reduces the influence of vested interests.

        Oh yes, look how Obama was successful at that.

    • karol 1.3

      Well, Bill, I didn’t think I was claiming that the Internet or other digital technologies were inherently democratic. If I did think that, why would I be concerned about the way such technologies can be used to suppress democracy?

      I tend to see it as having both democratic and anti-democratic possibilities. I was asking how it could be used more to promote the former.

      I agree – technology is neutral – it’s how people use it.

      Many proclaimed the advent of the printing press as a democratising technology because it would bring knowledge and information to all. Obviously it has been used both democratically and un/anti-democratically.

      • Colonial Viper 1.3.1

        I agree – technology is neutral – it’s how people use it.

        this statement is not true and is reminiscent of the “guns don’t kill people” line of thinking.

        • RJL 1.3.1.1

          I agree, CV.

          Some technology is neutral. Some is just bad.

          Once, I thought that the internet was a good tool for democracy. And a secure, decentralised, accessible method of global communication would perhaps be good tool for democracy.

          Unfortunately, the internet is actually none of these things.

          • McFlock 1.3.1.1.1

            I don’t belive that there is any bad technology.

            Just technology (like guns and chemical warfare factories) that shold be restricted from personal or even state use, because some people are morons and others are dicks, and some are a glorious combination of the two. But advanced rifle manufacturing might be useful for something good one day. Mortars are used to create controlled avalanches, for example.

            • RJL 1.3.1.1.1.1

              Triggering avalanches with explosives may be good, but that doesn’t make mortars netural.

              Chemical weapons manufacturing is never good, despite the fact that chemical manufacturing might be in some instances.

              A “good” “civilian” technology does not excuse/justify a parallel/similar “bad” “military” technology.

            • Colonial Viper 1.3.1.1.1.2

              There isn’t any “bad” technology, just technology which needs to be banned from use.

              OK. I can live with that. How about banned from being developed in the first place? Like weaponisation of pathogens, or design of fuel air bombs?

        • karol 1.3.1.2

          Hmmm… CV & RJL make good points. I’ll change my earlier statement – maybe it’s better to say there’s positive and negative impacts/potentials from most technologies.

          • Colonial Viper 1.3.1.2.1

            Yep, and that would allow a method to weigh up and assess technologies and their use/development.

      • Bill 1.3.2

        I didn’t think for a moment you suggested the ‘net’ was inherently democratic. Was just picking up on what you say is a potential and extrapolating from that to a generally held and widespread ‘article of faith’ on the democratising effect of the internet…

        All my comment is getting at is that I don’t quite ‘get it’. That and curious as to whether I’m just not seeing something that others do.

        • karol 1.3.2.1

          Well. Then I agree with you. I think maybe that idea that the Net is a democratising platform comes from some of the right wing, entrepreneurial, libertarians?

      • Huginn 1.3.3

        I don’t believe that the technology of the web is neutral. I thinks that it is philosophically invested with the ideas of the people who made it – John Von Neumann in particular. IT embodies an agenda and we need to understand that agenda in order to avoid nasty surprises like the Global Financial Crisis.

        That’s why it’s a good idea to examine the histories that lie at its core

        • karol 1.3.3.1

          I don’t know a lot about Von Neumann. If you do, why aren’t you saying. What do you think that agenda is?

    • Rosetinted 1.4

      Bill
      At least one can put a point of view on the internet such as TS. I have been to meetings where some seasoned time-wasting bigot gets up and natters on, not orating, just repeating his own opinion and calling on some authority to make it seem that his opinion is reliable. He may be known to the person ‘running’ the meeting or that person is sympathetic and there is attempt at proper time control. No-one else has a chance to put up an idea for discussion. Any time left over is spent is discussing points that the long-winded emphasised as important.

      An appearance on the street is important, but so is a chance to discuss things in an ordered way that encourages people to bring forward their own concerns and suggestions, which are then noted for action or further discussion, not just disregarded by the organisers of the meeting if they don’t match their chosen topics or line of reasoning.

      • Bill 1.4.1

        That’s one thing I think the net is good for…the presentation and debating of ideas (depending on the format). But that’s not necessarily got anything to do with democracy…

        • Colonial Viper 1.4.1.1

          And it is a method for undemocratic forces to track and trace both ideas and people. Lessons from the oraganisers of the Arab Spring in various countries: NEVER use Facebook, Twitter etc.

  2. Huginn 2

    It is inconceivable that there are no UK or US government surveillance files on Turing.

    Turing worked at Bletchly Park, the home of the organisation that now calls itself the GCHQ.
    He may have been a lovely old Quean, but have no illusions, Turing was at the core of GCHQ’s project, and by extension that of the GCSB in NZ.

    About 10 years ago when files of that time were automatically declassified, a lot of them were recalled and/or redacted because institutional historians like Philip Mirowski started poking about in them and asking uncomfortable questions.

    http://www.gchq.gov.uk/History/Pages/Bletchley-Park-Post-War.aspx

    • karol 2.1

      He may have been a lovely old Quean, but have no illusions, Turing was at the core of GCHQ’s project, and by extension that of the GCSB in NZ.

      Yes, but both Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden were in the belly of the beast before they perceived it’s dangers and turned on it.

      I was stepping into a hypothetical, wondering how Turing would view today’s debates on surveillance technologies, given his bad experiences on the receiving end of (non-digital) surveillance.

      • Huginn 2.1.1

        Turing not so much in the belly of the beast as in it’s womb, flailing about at the moment of conception.

        Good idea to look at the core histories, though.

        Ask yourself ‘what would have happened if Turing had accepted John Von Neumann’s offer and gone to the US?’

        Or, ‘what was Friedrich Hayek doing at the time and what would he have to say to John Key about the GCSB in particular and about the state’s use of computational methodologies in general?’.

        • karol 2.1.1.1

          But you could also ask why Turing turned down Von Neumann’s invitation? Not comfortable with the culture?

          And if Turing had got involved int he Manhattan project? And had experienced McCarthyism? Oppenheimer didn’t fare too well during that period. The authorities also weren’t that welcoming of gay people.

          What has Hayek got to do with it?

          • RJL 2.1.1.1.1

            I’m not sure why Turing would have been involved in the Manhattan Project?

            Anyway, that got to its outcome without his involvement; how would it have better/worse with Turing involved in it?

            • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Brilliant mathematicians always useful in nuclear research projects…but I am guessing he was a loyal member of the british empire…much good that did him.

            • lprent 2.1.1.1.1.2

              There is quite a lot of maths involved in making a A-bomb

            • karol 2.1.1.1.1.3

              The Manhattan Project pulled in experts from a wide range of fields. That was part of the reason for its success in achieving the set goals. It enabled extensive cross-fertilisation between people with differing expertise, leading to innovation – pushing people to think “outside the box”.

              It Von Neumann was involved, why not Turing?

              • RJL

                Yes, the Manhattan project had a theoretical division and there were numerous mathematical problems to solve. But those problems were solved (at least well enough) and the bombs were built. There were plenty of geniuses already involved.

                Perhaps Turing would have helped solve the theoretical problems quicker or differently, but I’m not really sure what difference that would have made.

                Different solutions to some of the theoretical problems may have resulted in a more efficient use of the fissionable material during detonation, but a few kilotonnes here or there makes little practical difference.

                Quicker solutions to some theoretical problems, would still mean that the refining of U235 and the breeding of Pu239 would be the bottlenecks in the construction of the three bombs. It is not apparrent that another genius mathematician would have made much difference to the speed of bomb manufacture. Doubling the 150,000 strong workforce might have made a difference there.

            • karol 2.1.1.1.1.4

              I was thinking more about how Turing would have felt about those sorts of involvement – following Huginn’s suggestions that Turing’s life would have been different if he’d taken up von Neumann’s invitation to the US.

          • Huginn 2.1.1.1.2

            The Manhattan Project was only one of many that Von Neumann was invloved with. I was thinking more of spin-offs from the Eniac Project where he separated ‘data’ from ‘program’, thus inventing ‘software’ as we know it today.
            Or Turing could have hung out with Kurt Gödel at Yale’s Institute for Advanced Study.
            Most of all, I’d like to think that he would have ended his days in California, maybe sitting by a swimming pool waiting for David Hockney to come round.

            I mentioned Hayek because he was also part of the core history of this technology. Hayek was so disturbed by the kind of work that was coming out of Bletchly Park towards the end of the war that he and Michael Polanyi lobbied the post war UK government to end its involvement with Operations Research (another Von Neumann project), and related technologies. Philip Mirowski has suggested that their success in this led to the UK lagging behind the US in the development of the computer which Mirowski believes is closely related to the development of OR.

            Hayek wrote extensively about the state’s use of computational methodologies which he believed to be a very bad thing. It’s one of his issues with Keynes. He’s worth reading now about it because it’s becoming clear that he was right about it.

  3. Santi 3

    He was a genius and true giant of mathematics.. Sexual orientation does not matter and Turing should get the pardon and recognition he deserves.

  4. Rosetinted 4

    It’s all just an excuse to go witch-hunting. Run scary scenarios, rumours to frighten the populace, get them alarmed, as we are already about terrorist threats from religious extremists who have genuine national grievances fuelling thjem.

    The McCarthy scare in the USA after WW2 was one. People were scared and were played on by aspirational politicians appealing to uncertainty about the Soviets and communism and some spies who had leaked information. Those in powerful Rebpublican positions made a Hollywood blacklist ending up with people like Charlie Chaplin having to leave and go to Britain. This was also the reign of the malign Edgar Hoover.

    And the McCarthy thing was a beat-up to raise his political profile and had to be ended by action from the President when McCarthy started to question the defence forces reliability.
    http://www.authentichistory.com/1946-1960/4-cwhomefront/1-mccarthyism/
    On February 9, 1950, at the Republican Women’s Club of Wheeling, West Virginia, Senator Joe McCarthy gave his Lincoln Day speech. “I have here in my hand a list of 205–a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.” Communists in the State Department represented a potential threat to national security. But McCarthy had no such list. His source was a four-year-old letter, already published in the Congressional Record, from then Secretary of State James Byrnes to a U.S. Congressman.

    On McCarthy dodgy political maneouvring –
    erroneous accusations against his opponent, Robert La Follette, to promote his own campaign. Damaging La Follete’s reputation by claiming he hadn’t enlisted in the military during the war, McCarthy won the election and became Senator.

    http://www.coldwar.org/articles/50s/senatorjosephmccarthy.asp

    As re-election began to loom closer, McCarthy, whose first term was unimpressive, searched for ways to ensure his political success, resorting even to corruption. Edmund Walsh, a close fellow Roman Catholic and anti-communist suggested a crusade against so-called communist subversives. McCarthy enthusiastically agreed and took advantage of the nation’s wave of fanatic terror against communism, and emerged on February 9, 1950, claiming he had a list of 205 people in the State Department who were known members of the American Communist Party. The American public went crazy with the thought of seditious communists living within the United States, and roared for the investigation of the underground agitators. These people on the list were in fact not all communists; some had proven merely to be alcoholics or sexual deviants

    Drew Pearson, a critic who discredited McCarthy’s accusations regularly through columns and radio broadcasts. McCarthy made seven speeches to the Senate on Pearson, which resulted in the loss of sponsors to Pearson’s show. Also, money was then raised to help numerous men sue Pearson, all charges of which he was found innocent and not liable.,,in December of 1954, a censure motion, which is a formal reprimand from a powerful body, was issued condemning his conduct with the vote count at 67 to 22. The media subsequently became disinterested in his communist allegations and McCarthy was virtually stripped of his power. He died in May of 1957 after being diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver due to heavy drinking

    Wikipedia reports –

    There were also more subtle forces encouraging the rise of McCarthyism. It had long been a practice of more conservative politicians to refer to progressive reforms such as child labor laws and women’s suffrage as “Communist” or “Red plots.”[7] This tendency increased in the 1930s in reaction to the New Deal policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

    Sound familiar?

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      McCarthy was funded by Republican oil money out of Texas. Connect the dots.

    • Rosetinted 4.2

      I branched off into McCarthy because I was thinking how people can be singled out and scapegoated for being different than the mainstream, ie homosexual. Which was by extension of fearful attitudes seen as subversive I think. And with a little creep right wing power player like McCarthy (McCarthy was also a lawyer, and I am sorry to see how many of these are getting into politics here) the value of being able to point the finger of scorn and shock etc. is a useful tool for a tool.

      And CV says he was funded out of Texas.. Ronald Reagan was keen to finger people as anti-communist in the Hollywood ‘trials’. Bush, and shrub, I suppose both came from that great state so one can see this unattractive trend in USA politics. It can only keep sliding downwards, that’s the trend.

      • Colonial Viper 4.2.1

        McCarthy was seen in Texas so often that he got the nickname “the third Senator from Texas”. (he was actually senator for Wisconsin).

        • yeshe 4.2.1.1

          like Cheney ? Wisconsin folks can’t be pleased .. oh, and they’re not as Cheney’s daughter as we write is trying to overthrow the existing Repug senator in that very same state … and with Jeb Bush in Florida .. ugh.

          And I believe Turing deserves so much more than a pardon. He virtually won the war.

  5. Binders full of women 5

    Sadly Turing almost survived the deadly homophobia…. didn’t he make a flippant remark to a couple of bobbies who were investigating a minor matter and they got suspicious and started the lewd ball rolling?

  6. Murray Olsen 6

    Turing’s impact and memory will outlast the morons who drove him to his death. It was a total obscenity that someone who had save so many of their lives was driven to his death. Unless he said or wrote something, we’ll never know what he thought of the surveillance society. In a very real sense, it’s what we think of it and how we stop it that are more important.

    • karol 6.1

      Although, Turing was interested in “artificial intelligence” and it is technologies with a reasonable amount of “intelligence” that enable the wide spread surveillance of meta-data that are now an issue.

      I’d be interested to know more about what Turing thought of AI.

  7. Sosoo 7

    While I agree with these pardons in principle, I’d be pretty wary of making Turing the poster boy for them, as I remember reading that he allegedly engaged in what we would now label paedophilia at least a couple of times in his life.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      If that is factually accurate, its odd (hypocritical?) why PM Cameron would OK a pardon for Turing while simultaneously banning child porn on the internet.

    • karol 7.2

      Yes, he seems to have had a bit of a tendency to hit on (at least) one or two underage teenage boys (under 15yrs).

  8. Sable 8

    Why “pardon” a man who did nothing wrong. Perhaps they would do better to apologise to his family.

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    Next year is an election year, and Labour needs money to fund its campaign. So naturally, they're selling access:Labour is charging wealthy business figures $1500-a-head to lunch with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at its annual conference later this month. [...] On the weekend beginning November 29th, around 800 delegates will ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Fairer rentals
    Yesterday the government announced its changes to tenancy laws, including an end to no-cause evictions, limits on rent increases, and anonyminity for tenants who defend their rights against bad landlords (sadly necessary because landlords are scum who maintain blacklists of "uppity" tenants). They're all good moves, and have resulted in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Another NZDF coverup
    In 2003 New Zealand sent a Provincial Reconstruction Team to Afghanistan to support America's doomed war there. While there, they conducted regular weapons practice on local firing ranges, littering the landscape with unexploded ammunition. These ranges weren't secure - they're on land used by locals for animal herding - so ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • A loss for the Greens
    Green MP Gareth Hughes has announced he will retire at the election. Its understandable - he's been there ten years, and wants to actually see his children grow up rather than miss it while drowning in the toxic parliamentary sewer. But his departure is also a huge loss for the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • New era for Ngāti Kuri and Auckland Museum
    Words and images by Jacqui Gibson Gone are Auckland Museum’s days of doing science using a museum-centric academic approach, after Māori land rights holders Ngāti Kuri gave the museum an ultimatum.
    Tom Trnski holding a fossilised whale tooth from the Far North.Aussie-born Head of Natural Sciences at Auckland Museum ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    4 days ago
  • Circling vultures: Why MediaWorks TV is really in trouble
    MediaWorks announced in October 2019 that it intended to sell off its struggling television business and cancel or cut back on several popular local programmes, including New Zealand Today, Married at First Sight New Zealand and 7 Days. Its radio and outdoor advertising arms are currently performing well, but MediaWorks’ ...
    Briefing PapersBy Peter Thompson
    5 days ago
  • Scary Opinium Poll
    Westminster voting intention:CON: 44% (+3)LAB: 28% (-1)LDEM: 14% (-1)BREX: 6% (-)via @OpiniumResearch, surveyed this weekChgs. w/ 08 Nov— Britain Elects (@britainelects) 16 November 2019 This, of course, doesn't look good.  Labour have been chucking big, headline grabbing policies left, right and centre ... Well, maybe not right.  Left, left ...
    5 days ago
  • A coward’s ploy.
    Some readers may remember that I mentioned last year that I was applying for NZ citizenship. I filled out the paperwork and had my original citizenship interview in February. Everything went well until they discovered that, because I had spent five months in the US in 2017, I had not ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    5 days ago
  • Left censorship and exclusion against gender-critical women: a Marxist critique
    by Deirdre O’Neill It is becoming quite acceptable for certain sections of the left to declare that people like me – women who are ‘gender critical’ – should not be allowed in leftist or anarchist spaces. Leaving aside the arrogance and implicit authoritarianism of this claim, its lack of critical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    5 days ago
  • “Uncertainty” can be better solved with a better grasp of life’s inherent complexities…
    There is an article in The Conversation, written by Jeremy P. Shapiro (Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychological Sciences, Case Western Reserve University), about what he sees as the psychologically-based underpinnings of three main matters that seem to vex people all around the planet. The article is titled “The Thinking ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    6 days ago
  • Citizens vs the Rogue Deep State
    . .   Blogger Martyn Bradbury has won his case against unreasonable search and surveillance against the NZ Police; and subsequent Police attempts to produce evidence in secrecy, in a closed Court. His case highlights a disturbing growing trend in Aotearoa New Zealand for State power to be used against ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    6 days ago
  • Massey University’s free speech policy double-plus-good
    The Committee of Disobedient Women has intercepted an email from Dr Emma Eejut, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Massey University to the university’s Vice-Chancellor, Jan Thomas. Dear Jan, Thank you for your courageous move.  I think 10 pages of blether** should tie any of the students game enough to try holding ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Unacceptable
    That's the only response to the findings of the Ombudsman's investigation into LGOIMA practices at the Christchurch City Council:My investigation identified serious concerns about the Council’s leadership and culture, and its commitment to openness and transparency. In particular, Council staff raised concerns with me about various methods employed by some ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • There is what corruption looks like
    NZ First seems to be nakedly trying to enrich itself from public office:A powerful New Zealand First figure helped establish a forestry company that then pushed for money from two key funding streams controlled by a New Zealand First Minister. An RNZ investigation has found Brian Henry, lawyer for Winston ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Escape from Manus Island
    Behrouz Boochani is an award winning author and journalist. He is also a refugee, who for the past six years has been detained in Australia's offshore gulag on Manus Island, and in Papua New Guinea. But last night, with the cooperation of the WORD Christchurch festival and Amnesty International, he ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • When World’s Collide.
    Different Strokes: If a multicultural immigration policy imposes no obligation on immigrant communities to acknowledge and ultimately embrace their host nation’s most cherished traditions and values, then how is that nation to prevent itself from being reduced to a collection of inward-looking and self-replicating ethnic and cultural enclaves?THE COALITION GOVERNMENT’S ...
    1 week ago
  • Could There Be Method In Massey University’s Madness?
    Protective Zone: Reading the rules and guidelines released by Massey University, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that its governing body considers the whole concept of free speech a disruptive threat to the orderly imparting of orthodox academic knowledge.IN TRUE ORWELLIAN fashion, Massey University has announced its commitment to ...
    1 week ago
  • How does poor air quality from bushfire smoke affect our health?
    Brian Oliver, University of Technology Sydney New South Wales and Queensland are in the grip of a devastating bushfire emergency, which has tragically resulted in the loss of homes and lives. But the smoke produced can affect many more people not immediately impacted by the fires – even people many ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: We need more trees, not less
    Farmers held a hate-march on Parliament today, complete with MAGA hats, gun-nut signs, and gendered insults. While supposedly about a grab-bag of issues - including, weirdly, mental health - it was clear that the protest was about one thing, and one thing only: climate change. And specifically, forestry "destroying" rural ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Holy bin chickens: ancient Egyptians tamed wild ibis for sacrifice
    Sally Wasef, Griffith University and David Lambert, Griffith University These days, not many Aussies consider the ibis a particularly admirable creature. But these birds, now colloquially referred to as “bin chickens” due to their notorious scavenging antics, have a grandiose and important place in history – ancient Egyptian history, to ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • The IGIS annual report: Dead letters and secret law
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security released their annual report today, and I've been busy reading through it. In amongst the usual review of what they've been doing all year, there's a few interesting bits. For example, a discussion on "agency retention and disposal of information", which points out that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A referendum on bigotry
    The End of Life Choice Bill passed its third reading last night, 69 - 51. Thanks to a compromise with NZ First - which looks to have been necessary on the final numbers - the commencement of the bill will be subject to a referendum. Given the ugliness of the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Why municipal waste-to-energy incineration is not the answer to NZ’s plastic waste crisis
    Trisia Farrelly, Massey University New Zealand is ranked the third-most-wasteful country in the OECD. New Zealanders produce five times the global daily average of waste per person – and they are getting more wasteful, producing 35% more than a decade ago. These statistics are likely to get worse following China’s ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Political parties and GMOs: we all need to move on
    Recently more than 150 post-graduate students and young scientists presented an open letter to the Green Party via The Spinoff, encouraging them to reconsider their position on genetic modification. Their target is tackling climate change issues.[1] Can any party continue to be dismissive about genetic modification (GM) contributing to ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    1 week ago
  • Class, Identity Politics and Transgender Ideology
    by Deirdre O’Neill Under Thatcher and then Blair and continuing up until our contemporary moment, the working class has seen its culture slowly and progressively destroyed. The change from an industrial society to a service society produced a marked shift in focus from the working class as the backbone of ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Irony
    Since 2013, the Australian government has detained refugees without trial in Pacific gulags, where they are abused, tortured, and driven to suicide. The policy is not just an abuse of human rights and possible crime against humanity; it has also had a corrosive effect on the states Australia uses as ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • An age of protest.
    It seems fair to say that we currently live in a problematic political moment in world history. Democracies are in decline and dictatorships are on the rise. Primordial, sectarian and post-modern divisions have re-emerged, are on the rise or have been accentuated by political evolutions of the moment such as ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Another captured agency
    Last month, Greenpeace head Russel Norman surrendered his speaking slot at an EPA conference to student climate activist Sorcha Carr, who told the EPA exactly what she thought of them. It was a bold move, which confronted both regulators and polluters (or, as the EPA calls them, "stakeholders") with the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • NZ First’s dodgy loans
    The core principle supposedly underlying New Zealand's electoral finance regime is transparency: parties can accept large donations from rich people wanting to buy policy, but only if they tell the public they've been bought. Most parties abide by this, so we know that TOP was wholly-owned by Gareth Morgan, and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Member’s Day: The choice on End of Life Choice
    Today is a Member's Day, probably the second-to-last one of the year, and its a big one, with the Third Reading of David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill. last Member's Day it was reported back from committee, after MPs voted narrowly to make it subject to a (rules TBA) ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • How growth in population and consumption drives planetary change
    Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz The growth of the human population over the last 70 ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • The disappearing Women …
    by The Council of Disobedient Women In her excellent oral submission to the Abortion reform select committee on 31st October on behalf of Otago University’s Department of Public Health, historian and public health researcher Hera Cook stated: “We would ask that the committee not use the term ‘pregnant persons’ and ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • “A Passage to India”: enduring art in changing times
    by Don Franks In 1957, E M Forster wrote, of his greatest work: “The India described in ‘A Passage to India’ no longer exists either politically or socially. Change had begun even at the time the book was published ( 1924) and during the following quarter of a century it ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Contemptuous
    The Referendums Framework Bill was due back from select committee today. But there's no report on it. Instead, the bill has been bounced back to the House under Standing order 29593) because the Committee didn't bother to produce one. They probably tried. But given the membership of the committee (which ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Zero Carbon: It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law
    Two years into New Zealand’s Labour-led government, the long-delayed Zero Carbon Bill became law on 7 November. Passed essentially unanimously, the lengthy public debates and political manoeuvring faded away until the final passage was even anticlimactic: Flipping through the @nzstuff @DomPost I was starting to wonder if I’d dreamt ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert McLachlan
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: What happens next?
    Now the Zero Carbon Bill is law, what's next? Obviously, the ETS changes currently before select committee are going to be the next battleground. But we're also going to get a good idea of where we're going, and if the progress the Zero Carbon Act promises is good enough, during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Climate change will fuel bush fires
    Grant Pearce The effects of the current Australian bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland (and also again in California) are devastating and far-reaching. To date, the fires have resulted in several lives being lost and many homes and properties destroyed. Here in New Zealand, the impacts have been only ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Participation rates
    A passing comment in a post the other day about the labour force participation rates of older people prompted me to pull down the fuller data and see what we could see about various participation rates over the decades since the HLFS began in 1986.   As it happens, the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Reddell
    1 week ago
  • Not So Much “OK Boomer” As “OK Ruling Class”.
    Distract And Divert: The rise of what we have come to call “Identity Politics” represents the ideological manifestation of the ruling class’s objective need to destroy class politics, and of the middle-class’s subjective need to justify their participation in the process.THE RELIEF of the ruling class can only be imagined. ...
    1 week ago
  • Asking for it …
    "I saw a newspaper picture,From the political campaignA woman was kissing a child,Who was obviously in pain.She spills with compassion,As that young child'sFace in her hands she gripsCan you imagine all that greed and avariceComing down on that child's lips?" ...
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand’s Poor Pandemic Preparedness According to the Global Health Security Index
    Dr Matt Boyd, Prof Michael Baker, Prof Nick Wilson The Global Health Security Index which considers pandemic threats has just been published. Unfortunately, NZ scores approximately half marks (54/100), coming in 35th in the world rankings – far behind Australia. This poor result suggests that the NZ Government needs to ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Thank Winston
    The Zero Carbon Act is inadequate, with a weak methane target designed to give farmers a free ride. But it turns out it could have been worse: Climate Change Minister James Shaw was so desperate to get National on board, he wanted to gut that target, and leave it in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Illicit markets and Bali Booze
    The Herald reprints an Australian story on a couple of tragic deaths in Bali from drinking cocktails that had methanol in them.  The story argues that methanol is likely the result of home distillation. But what the young tourists were experiencing was far from a hangover. They’d consumed a toxic cocktail ...
    SciBlogsBy Eric Crampton
    2 weeks ago
  • This is not what armed police are for
    Last month, the police announced a trial of specialist roaming armed units, which would drive round (poor, brown) areas in armoured SUVs, armed to the teeth. When they announced the trial, they told us it was about having armed police "ready to attend major incidents at any time if needed". ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Spain’s failed electoral gamble
    Spain went to the polls today in the second elections this year, after the Socialists (who had come to power in a confidence vote, then gone to the polls in April) rejected the offer of a coalition with the left-wing PoDemos, and instead decided to gamble n a better outcome ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The astroturf party
    National has finally rolled out its "BlueGreen" astroturf party, fronted by an array of former nats and people who were dumped by the Greens for not being Green enough. Its initial pitch is described by Stuff as "very business-friendly", and its priorities are what you'd expect: conservation, predator-free funding, a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • How to cheat at university
    A couple of days ago I attended (and spoke at) the University of Waikato’s “LearnFest” event. There were lots of talks and sessions on very diverse aspects of teaching, mostly at tertiary level. One was by Myra Williamson from Te Piringa Faculty of Law here at Waikato, on Contract Cheating ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    2 weeks ago
  • How NZ was put on world maps using a transit of Mercury
    There will be a transit of Mercury – the planet Mercury will pass across the face of the Sun – taking place at sunrise in New Zealand on Tuesday, 12th November. It was by observing such an event 250 years ago that James Cook and his scientist colleagues were able ...
    SciBlogsBy Duncan Steel
    2 weeks ago
  • Georgina Beyer: We need to be able to talk without being offended
    Since becoming the world’s first openly transexual mayor and member of parliament, Georgina Beyer has been recognised as a trailblazer for trans rights. Daphna Whitmore talks with her about where she sees the current trans movement We start out talking about legislation the government put on hold that would have ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • The anti-fluoride brigade won’t be erecting billboards about this study
    If FFNZ really put their faith in “Top Medical Journals” they would now be amending their billboards to recognise new research results. Image from FFNZ but updated to agree with the latest research. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Chosen To Rule? What Sort Of Christian Is Chris Luxon?
    National Messiah? Chris Luxon identifies himself as an evangelical Christian. If he is genuine in this self-characterisation, then he will take every opportunity his public office provides to proselytise on behalf of his faith. He will also feel obliged to bear witness against beliefs and practices he believes to be ...
    2 weeks ago
  • War of the worms
    I'm going to make a Reckless Prediction™ that the Tories have 'topped out' in the 'poll of polls' / Britain Elects multipoll tracker at about 38%, and in the next week we will start to see Labour creep up on them.In fact, we might just be seeing the start of ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Marvelly shows us how to be a feminist without feminism
    by The Council of Disobedient Women Lizzie Marvelly: “I may have missed this… has @afterellen gone all terf-y? Or am I reading something incorrectly? “ https://twitter.com/LizzieMarvelly/status/1191840059105742849 After Ellen is a lesbian website that is unashamedly pro-lesbian, as you’d expect. So why is Ms Marvelly so bothered about lesbians having their ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago

  • Week That Was: Tackling child poverty
    It's been a great week of progress: we've celebrated Children's Day, we've made communities safer with 1800 new police, and we've seen almost 90% of eligible schools take up Government funding to scrap school donations - taking pressure off the families of more than 416,000 students. ...
    2 hours ago
  • New measures for wood processing boost
    Hon Shane Jones, Minister of Forestry The Government will further strengthen New Zealand’s wood processing sector as part of our focus on ‘value over volume’ in our forestry industry, Forestry Minister Shane Jones says. Minister Jones will today meet with forestry representatives in Northland to signal new measures to help the ...
    4 hours ago
  • New high tech traps will reduce the need for 1080 poison
    New Zealand First are celebrating the announcement of an investment of $3.5 million into five new trapping devices. These are a range of bait and trap devices, all designed to be left unattended for long periods of time. NZ First conservation spokesperson Jenny Marcroft says that this latest development will ...
    1 day ago
  • Cowboy clampers will be stymied
    Clayton Mitchell, Spokesperson for Consumer Affairs The ‘wheel clamping’ Bill that will cap clamper fees to $100 passed its third reading in Parliament today. New Zealand First welcomes The Land Transport (Wheel Clamping) Amendment Bill to combat predatory wheel clamping behaviour in what is currently a largely unregulated business. Cowboy clampers are: gouging ...
    2 days ago
  • Mental Health Commission back on track
    Jenny Marcroft, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First welcomes the passage of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill through its first reading in Parliament. “Today’s progress takes serious action on the mental health and addiction crisis the country is facing,” says New Zealand First Health Spokesperson Jenny Marcroft. “The re-establishment ...
    2 days ago
  • New Zealand’s key assets are not for sale: national interest test delivered
    Mark Patterson, Spokesperson for Primary Industries Today the Government announced the delivery of the promise to protect New Zealand interests by applying a new National Interest Test to the sales of our most sensitive and high risk assets to overseas buyers. This further strengthening of the Overseas Investment Act will ...
    3 days ago
  • National interest test added to protect New Zealanders’ interests
    The Coalition Government is delivering on its promise to protect New Zealanders’ interests by applying a new national interest test to the sales of our most sensitive and high-risk assets to overseas buyers. Under current Overseas Investment Act (OIA) rules, assets such as ports and airports, telecommunications infrastructure, electricity and ...
    3 days ago
  • Electoral law breach allegations
    Rt Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First Allegations raised this morning by Stuff Limited / Fairfax concern a party matter but I am confident that New Zealand First has operated within electoral laws, now and for the last 27 years. Declarable donations were declared to the Electoral Commission. Our ...
    3 days ago
  • Wayne Brown hits back at critics: Ports of Auckland has to move
    The chairman of the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy (UNISCS) working group, Wayne Brown, has hit back at critics of his group’s recommendations to relocate the Ports of Auckland cargo operations to Whangarei’s deepwater port of Northport. The working group's recommendation to close Auckland waterfront to all but cruise ...
    4 days ago
  • Week That Was: Supporting our schools
    We're setting our young people up for success, investing in education around the country.  ...
    4 days ago
  • Kiwis to have their say on End of Life Choice
    Jenny Marcroft MP, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First backs the public to decide on the End of Life Choice Bill via a referendum at the 2020 General Election. The Bill, with New Zealand First’s referendum provision incorporated, passed its final reading in Parliament this evening. New Zealand First Spokesperson for ...
    1 week ago
  • Addressing miscarriages of justice
    Darroch Ball, Spokesperson for Justice New Zealand First is proud that a key Coalition Agreement commitment which will provide for a more transparent and effective criminal justice system has been realised. Legislation to establish the Criminal Cases Review Commission, an independent body focused on identifying and responding to possible miscarriages of ...
    1 week ago
  • Week That Was: Historic action on climate change
    "Today we have made a choice that will leave a legacy... I hope that means that future generations will see that we, in New Zealand, were on the right side of history." - Jacinda Ardern, Third Reading of the Zero Carbon Bill ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Tax-free deployments for Kiwi troops
    Darroch Ball, New Zealand First List MP A Member’s bill has been proposed that would provide income tax exemptions for all New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel while on operational deployment overseas. The Income Tax (Exemption for Salary or Wages of NZDF Members on Active Deployment) Amendment Bill proposed by New Zealand First ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A balanced Zero Carbon Bill passed
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, New Zealand First Leader New Zealand First is proud to have brought common sense to the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill, which passed its final reading in Parliament today. Party Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters says months of hard work went into negotiating a balanced ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Paramedics’ status to be recognised
    Jenny Marcroft MP, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First has listened to calls to recognise paramedics as registered health professionals under the Health Practitioners’ Competence Assurance Act (the Act). Today, the Coalition Government announced plans for paramedics to be registered as health practitioners under the Act, and the establishment of a ...
    2 weeks ago

  • PGF approves wind turbines funding for Stewart Island
    Stewart Island/Rakiura has been granted $3.16 million from the Provincial Growth Fund to help build two wind turbines, putting the island on a path to sustainable electricity generation, Environment Minister David Parker announced today. “Stewart Island is our third largest island, after the North and South Islands, and it is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • NZ economy in good shape amid global headwinds
    A major new report on the global economy shows New Zealand is in good shape amid increased global headwinds. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has just released its latest Economic Outlook. It shows the OECD group of economies is forecast to grow between 1.6% and 1.7% across ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • Milestone of 1800 new Police officers
    The Coalition commitment to add 1800 new Police officers to frontline policing has been achieved with the graduation of 59 constables from the Royal New Zealand Police College today. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters say today’s graduation means 1825 new Police have been deployed all ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • PM appoints business leaders to APEC Business Advisory Council
    Ensuring APEC work gets input from diverse New Zealand business and trade interests is behind three new appointments to the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says. Rachel Taulelei, Malcolm Johns and Toni Moyes have been appointed to represent New Zealand on the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • PM speech notes for Trans-Tasman Business Circle
    Nau mai, haere mai. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa. Thank you for having me to speak today. To start, I’d like to acknowledge Sharron Lloyd, the General Manager of the Trans–Tasman Business Circle, the partners for this event Westpac’s  David McLean, and Derek McCormack from  AUT, and, of course ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Otago Regional Council given deadline for freshwater management plan
    A four-month investigation by former Environment Court judge Professor Peter Skelton found that Otago’s freshwater planning system is not fit for purpose to manage the region’s rivers, lakes and aquifers and that the Council has inadequate rules for the taking of water and the discharge of nutrients.   “Existing planning provisions ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • LGNZ Rural and Provincial Sector Speech
      Introduction Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today. This is the first opportunity I’ve had to speak to an LGNZ meeting since the local elections, and I’m delighted to see the fresh faces of newly elected mayors. To returning mayors here today, as well as chief ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New Zealand to attend G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Japan
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters departs New Zealand today to attend the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Nagoya at the invitation of this year’s G20 President, Japan. “This is the first time New Zealand will attend a G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and we are deeply honoured that it is at ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Ambassador to the European Union announced
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today announced the appointment of diplomat Carl Reaich as New Zealand’s next Ambassador to the European Union. “The Ambassador to the EU is one of the most important and senior roles in New Zealand’s foreign service, advocating for New Zealand’s interests with the EU institutions,” Mr ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New inventions boost Predator Free 2050 effort
        Innovation and technology are behind five new tools to give nature a helping hand by helping eliminate predators, funded through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), Minister for Conservation Eugenie Sage and Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. “The new tools will be trialled in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • APEC 2021 Bill passes first reading
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has welcomed the first reading of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation 2021 (APEC 2021) Bill in Parliament today. The temporary bill supports New Zealand’s security preparations for hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum in 2021. “APEC is the leading economic and trade forum ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Making progress for our kids
    The Government is making progress on improving the wellbeing of the one million New Zealanders under the age of 18,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on World Children’s Day. The Government has today recommitted to the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history – the United Nation’s Convention on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Māori women in business contribute to our economy, whānau and communities
    Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter has released a new report celebrating the contribution of Māori women in business across Aotearoa New Zealand. “Māori women are leaders in our communities, they employ many people and support our economy and our communities,” Julie Anne Genter said. The report, Ngā wāhine kaipakihi: ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Two schools on the way for Omokoroa
    Four parcels of land have been bought in Omokoroa, in the Western Bay of Plenty District, for an education facility that will accommodate both a primary and secondary school on a campus-like facility, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. Two parcels were acquired from private land owners and two were ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Families Package helps over 1 million New Zealanders in first year
    1 million New Zealanders warmed by the Winter Energy Payment 36,000 families bank the Best Start Payment in first year 6,000 more families received the Family Tax Credit, 220,600 in total   They receive an increase too – from an average of $117 to $157 a week for Inland Revenue clients, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Clamp down on wheel clamping passes third reading
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