What “terrorism” means

Written By: - Date published: 7:07 am, May 28th, 2013 - 100 comments
Categories: racism - Tags:

From Vice magazine:

VICE: What do you think about the media reaction to the Woolwich murder?
Glen Greenwald: Media outlets reacted pretty uniformly to the attack. They reacted the way that media outlets typically do to these kinds of incidents, which is by simply stating that it was a terrorist attack and channeling outrage about the unprecedented, barbaric act that everyone saw take place.

Do you think it was a “terrorist” attack?
What the word terrorism typically means in reality, functionally, when it’s most commonly used by our media, is that the perpetrators are Muslim, and that they are driven by either religious or political motivations. I think that when it became clear that the perpetrators were Muslim (they said “Allah Akbar” during the attack), then media outlets instantly said that this was an act of terror, and politicians sort of did at the same time. The premise here is that if the violence is perpetrated by Muslims against the West, for a political cause, then by definition it’s terrorism, but not the other way around. It’s very typical to call this a terrorist attack without including all sorts of acts of violence that the US and UK has routinely engaged in over the last decade.

For example, the murder of a Muslim man by white supremacists this month. That wasn’t labeled “terrorism” by the press.
Right, even though hate crimes have very clearly ascertainable, political goals—they are designed to terrorize communities, to express all sorts of political sentiments—and yet very rarely do they get called terrorism. Even when you look at what Anders Behring Breivik did in Norway, it was a day-long frenzy by the western media insinuating that this was done by Islamic terrorists, and then as soon it was discovered that the person responsible wasn’t Muslim, the word terrorism kind of disappeared. This is even though he had an overt, political agenda that he was seeking to advance by violence and terror. I think that the word terrorism has almost exclusively become reserved for violence by Muslims.

In a similar vein, there has never been an “Operation 8” style event run by the New Zealand State against any of the white supremacist groups in new Zealand.

Indeed could you imagine armed police dragging the good white folk of Amberly out of their beds, and locking the town down, because Kyle Chapman and co had set up shop in the neighbourhood?

100 comments on “What “terrorism” means”

  1. Ennui 1

    The major terrorists “own” the media, run the “empire”, occupy other countries….the “minor” terrorists respond in kind as far as their lack of real firepower allows. Both want control of our minds, our reactions , our response. Fear is the enemy. They both frighten me, but to defeat fear we must confront both.

    • aerobubble 1.1

      How does an attack on a soldier amount to creating fear among the people, especially when a women is seen talking rationally with him. Certainly there are political elements to this attack, religious too, but I don’t get the terrorism angle, I’m not a soldier. Arguably how is this any different from anyone who attacks a soldier in a time of war, we are at war you know, he obviously has sympathies for the enemy and so should tried under military law. Not terrorism in my view.
      Giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 1.1.1

        Combatants not in uniform…

      • tracey 1.1.2

        “we are at war you know”

        No, I didn’t know. Black Englishmen formerly of Nigeria? Have we sent troops? or do you mean “Al Queda”, that catchall that means just about anything nowadays so long as a “muslim” is involved.

        March 2013

        “The United Kingdom’s military says its warplanes recently spotted in Nigeria’s capital city were there to move soldiers to aid the French intervention in Mali — not to rescue kidnapped foreign hostages.

        Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/03/10/british-military-warplanes-spotted-in-nigeria-moved-soldiers-for-mali-not-for/#ixzz2UYAgNyGk

        “Although Libya has more reserves, there were 37.2 billion barrels (5.91×109 m3) of proven oil reserves in Nigeria as of 2011, ranking the country as the largest oil producer in Africa and the 11th largest in the world, averaging 2.28 million barrels per day (362×103 m3/d) in 2006. At current rates this would be 45 years of supply if no new oil was found.”

        Anyone remember Rwanda? The 800,000 raped or murdered in 100 days? Don’;t recall military from the west going in, don’t recall the condemnation. Do recall Rwanda has no oil.

      • Ennui 1.1.3

        When you go around running people down and then trying to decapitate them you are every bit the terrorist a man “piloting” a drone attack is. The drone man takes a tea break at Maccers, the terrorist in London took time out to talk to a passerby…..they are both still terrorists.

        Terrorism includes as a definition randomly killing people you don’t know for some motive you perceive them to be in breach of: they don’t get a chance to state their case. They die, which is very coercive and creates fear.

        • Colonial Viper 1.1.3.1

          War is fearful, it always has been, it always will be. It’s war, not a tea party.

      • Psycho Milt 1.1.4

        …we are at war you know…

        We are? Who are we at war with?

        Arguably how is this any different from anyone who attacks a soldier in a time of war…

        Depends on the circumstances. There’s killing a soldier of a country that’s at war with yours, and there’s killing some random soldier of your own country on the basis of some perceived offence by your own country’s army. The first is an act of war, the second makes you either a nut case involved in a hate crime, or if there’s some political aim behind the murder, a terrorist. The political motive seems pretty clear in this case, so yes terrorism.

  2. I do find it difficult to imagine NZ’s security agencies taking Chapman and his mates seriously. Their mistake with Operation 8 was based on cultural/ethnic ignorance rather than racism, ie their ignorance of the concepts involved led them to believe that Tame Iti and the various Whitey ‘activists’ they rounded up might be in some sense less comically incompetent idiots than Chapman’s group.

    As for Greenwald, he has the smarts to be able to redefine terrorism such that military action by western democracies meets the criteria as well as actual terrorists do – which just goes to show intelligence doesn’t equate to wisdom. As an intellectual exercise it might have a certain somewhat contemptible something, but as commentary it’s rubbish.

    • Anti-terror laws and now cyber-security laws are mostly based on paranoid fears, and just result in racism and discrimination against minority groups i.e. Unfair targeting of people of Arabic descent, rampant islamophobia amongst police and politicians, or attacks on a disfranchised minority group (like Tuhoe). There is no need for such laws, the sooner they are repealed the more safe everyone will be.

  3. muzza 3

    The apparatus employed by the machine, is the real terrorism – Financial, warfare, oil cartels, the peddlers of misery against all levels of humanity.

    Yet these same people, employ politicians end so forth which is supposed to placate the herd, while believing they have some say in their daily lives!

    Watching/listening the attempts to re-programme the minds of the herd, using such simple techniques as repetitive lies, must be called for what it is, well done Zet!

  4. What Woolwich murder?

    A man’s body contains about five or six liters of blood. Just ask anyone who has worked in trauma response how much blood there would be on the ground if a man got his head hacked off. Your heart beats for as long as it has oxygen, it doesn’t need signals from the brain to work.

    Same as the Boston bombing. Jeff Bauman #1 supposedly gets his legs blown off but there is no blood on him or the people immediately around him soon afterwards. Jeff Bauman #2 seems to recover well, but strangely the shape of his ear is different to that of Jeff Bauman #1.

  5. vto 5

    The Woolwich act was surely not murder but an act of war.

    England is at war with these people. England attacks them and they respond by attacking a soldier.

    wtf the problem?

    • The problem is that people do not acknowledge the role of the CIA in promoting terrorism.

      ‘The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.’ ~ Graham Fuller, ex father in law of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s “Uncle Ruslan”.

      http://www.filmsforaction.org/news/boston_terror_cias_graham_fuller_and_natocia_operation_gladio_b_caucasus_and_central_asia/

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 5.1.1

        Are Chomsky, Herman, Selden not “people”?

        Did William Odom, Ronald Reagan’s NSA director not say this?

        As many critics have pointed, out, terrorism is not an enemy. It is a tactic. Because the United States itself has a long record of supporting terrorists and using terrorist tactics, the slogans of today’s war on terrorism merely makes the United States look hypocritical to the rest of the world.

        Or are your perceptions leading you astray again?

        • Ugly Truth 5.1.1.1

          OK, _most_ people don’t acknowledge it.

          • One Anonymous Knucklehead 5.1.1.1.1

            Wrong again. 53% counts as “most”.

            • Ugly Truth 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Straw man. “U.S. policies” isn’t the same as the specific policy of the radicalization of Islamists.

              From the pdf:

              In its WorldViews survey conducted in May 2002, the Chicago Council on Foreign
              Relations (CCFR) and German Marshall Fund (GMF) found that majorities of citizens of six European countries believed that U.S. foreign policy “contributed to” the September 11 terrorist attack.

              • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                Yes! Because the CIA has nothing to do with “foreign policy”, does it?

                It isn’t charged with:

                …three principal activities: gathering information about foreign governments, corporations, and individuals; analyzing that information, along with intelligence gathered by other U.S. intelligence agencies, in order to provide national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers; and, upon the request of the President of the United States, carrying out or overseeing covert activities and some tactical operations by its own employees, by members of the U.S. military, or by other partners.

                So of course you must be absolutely right.

                • “Because the CIA has nothing to do with “foreign policy”, does it?”

                  Of course it does. But the fact that Wikipedia doesn’t explicity mention the CIA’s radicalization of Islamists doesn’t mean that it doesn’t actually happen.

                  • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                    The fact that I haven’t challenged the assertion doesn’t mean that it doesn’t actually happen, either, but it does seem to indicate some sort of cognitive problem.

                    • I expect that self diagnosis probably isn’t much fun, but would you like to hazard a guess as to the nature of your difficulties?

                    • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                      Yep. You keep making wild leaps of faith where logic belongs, and in this particular case, it led to a false belief that I questioned your assertion that the CIA gave philosophical aid.

                    • “it led to a false belief that I questioned your assertion that the CIA gave philosophical aid.”

                      I didn’t assert that the CIA gave philosophical aid. Radicalization isn’t aid, it is manipulation.

                      Please continue to expand on your cognitive difficulties.

                    • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                      “Philosophical aid” is a euphemism for “radicalisation”, but speaking of cognitive difficulties, I didn’t question that either.

                    • “but speaking of cognitive difficulties, I didn’t question that either.”

                      Did I imply that you did?

    • England is at war with these people.

      With which people? The murderers are black Englishman of Nigerian ancestry – haven’t noticed war being declared against that rather small group. I guess you could say that the UK (England doesn’t get to go to war with anyone as a separate country and hasn’t for a couple of hundred years) does consider itself to be at war with Muslim terrorists, but that kind of wrecks the argument that these guys weren’t terrorists.

      • vto 5.2.1

        “With which people? ” Good question, and one for UK to answer.

        My point was more around the definition of “terrorist” usually meaning people who attack civilians. This was not an attack on a civilian – it was an attack on a soldier. So, wtf the problem?

        It was not an act of murder it was an act of war. He was a solider and had even served in those countries where the UK is at war.

        • Psycho Milt 5.2.1.1

          Good question, and one for UK to answer.

          No, it’s one for you to answer. You say the UK is at war with “these people” without saying who you mean by “these people.” It’s not at all clear which people you’re referring to, and I’m asking for clarification – who exactly are “these people” the UK is at war with, which apparently includes these two murderers?

          It was not an act of murder it was an act of war.

          Well, a war crime perhaps, if we were to somehow believe that the UK is at war with black Englishmen, which I doubt very many people do. Still, if you were able to define “these people” the UK is at war with in such a way that it includes the two murderers, it would be possible to make a case for them being irregulars engaged in guerrilla warfare. That would be awesome from the right-wingers’ pov, because it would mean they could lobby the govt to summarily execute them.

          • vto 5.2.1.1.1

            Well, hmmm, the UK is at war in various middle east, african, asian and other countries (by way of association with the US). The acts of war that the UK commits appear to be aimed at people of more hardline Islam extraction such as Al Queda and the like, not countries. As such, they are at war with people of more hardline Islam extraction, amongst more no doubt.

            The person who did this spoke about his people being attacked by UK forces. He identified as one of “these people”, I guess by dint of being islam, being more hardline, being from one of the countries being subjected to this war by the UK, and no doubt by family and other ancestral links. I suspect.

            But this is going off on a tangent and perhaps a more credible way to look at it is … if there is no “these people” then who the fuck are the English people killing? As I said, it is a question for the English. Do the English expect that they can go off doing their shit and then sit back and say nyah nyah nyah we aren’t actually at war with “anyone” so anyone who attacks us is a “terrorist” or whatever.

            Bottom line, in one view – that soldier was at war with people. He got attacked as a soldier because of it. This is war.

            So, wtf is the problem?

            • Colonial Viper 5.2.1.1.1.1

              Apparently the much hyped global war on terror includes fighting and enemy combatants “over there”, it’s not supposed to happen “over here”.

              Also when we kill their villagers, we are simply prosecuting a global war on terror, when they kill us, they are murderers, terrorists and mad men.

              Hmmmmmm.

              • vto

                Yep, that’s it.

                Quite frankly the outpouring over this Woolwich act exposes the hypocrisy and evil detachment that the west has created in this. The outpouring has no more credibility than the dozens or more killed every day in the countries where England is at war – in fact it has less credibility due to the victim being an active soldier.

                If English soldiers do not want to be killed then the English should not go to war.

                Unless I am missing something??????????

                There are a few English commentators around here – their view would be interesting…

            • Psycho Milt 5.2.1.1.1.2

              As such, they are at war with people of more hardline Islam extraction, amongst more no doubt.

              If so, they’re doing a piss-poor job of it, because Britain is full of murderous Islamists it could be killing or imprisoning, and yet it isn’t. That’s because it’s actually at war with some quite specific groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan, not with itself. If you could make a case that the UK is at war with hardline Islamists, that would again be awesome from a right-winger’s pov but decidedly shitty from a left-wing one.

              There’s room for debate about whether this is terrorism or an ordinary old hate crime, but “act of war” it ain’t, unless you buy into that “war of civilisations” bullshit.

              • vto

                Why is it either terrorism or a hate crime and not an act of war? What constitutes an act of war that leads you to that odd conclusion?

                • What makes it not an act of war is that the world’s Muslims aren’t at war with Britain and Britain isn’t at war with the world’s Muslims. There may be some twats on both sides who’d like a war, but so far reason has prevailed.

              • Colonial Viper

                There’s room for debate about whether this is terrorism or an ordinary old hate crime, but “act of war” it ain’t, unless you buy into that “war of civilisations” bullshit.

                Uh…how many Muslim/Arab countries have the US/UK attacked since 2000?

                How many NON Muslim/Arab countries have the US/UK attacked since 2000?

                Obvious track record is obvious.

                • OK, so you do buy into that “war of civilisations” bullshit. Does that translate into support for the EDL wanting to get the Muslim “fifth column” out of the UK? Or into supporting a Muslim victory? Or is it just that you’re unaware of the implications of what you write?

        • tracey 5.2.1.2

          He wasn’t in uniform was he? Are you really saying because someone is in a soldier’s uniform it is by definition an act of war?

          So when those soldiers int he US went doo-lally and shot their wives was that an act of war or murder?

          It was murder, which should be enough to satisfy anyone. The morbid over interest in the suffering of this guy and his family bewilders me.

  6. BLiP 6

    I’ll just leave this here, its nearly ten years old by remarkably prescient and still valid today:

    http://youtu.be/CdFmN24Upeg

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 6.1

      +1 PoN is required viewing.

    • Colonial Viper 6.2

      Holy frak. Thanks BLiP. Much recommended doco, everyone. Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Cheney,…some of these freakin names have been circulating the halls of power for a long time.

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 6.2.1

        The other two parts of this documentary are worth seeking out too. The absurd similarities between the protagonists on both sides are quite telling.

        • Colonial Viper 6.2.1.1

          Basically they needed each other, like some kind of dysfunctional relationship.

          Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!” He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”

          He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me, too! What franchise?” He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” He said, “Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”

          He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” I said, “Me, too!”

          “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.”

          I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.

        • Colonial Viper 6.2.1.2

          Toxic memes being passed on in society

          This is worth watching too

  7. The terrorists who were white that did the boston bombing massacre were rightly called terrorists.

  8. Bill 8

    Woolwich. An off-duty soldier is targetted by two individuals and murdered/killed. Terrorism is the indiscriminate targetting of civilians. But civilians were engaged in conversation by the two guys in Woolwich – not threatened or targetted.

    BBC/Woolwich. BBC offered up a lame apology after the event for describing the two guys as being of ‘Muslim appearance’. (The link is to the ‘toady’ Daily Mail – you’ve been warned) Question: What the fuck is a Muslim/Jewish/Christian ‘appearance’? And why would any other than the most deeply indoctinated use such a term?

    Security services/ Woolwich. Anti terrorism legislation used to ‘pick up’ associates of the two guys – ten so far and one following a BBC studio interview. So now if you commit a crime and I know you, I’m up for grabs?

    Boston. FBI shoot an associate of those two guys dead during questioning. Claimed he attacked them with a knife during the interview. Possible: But an army of doubt marches across my mind on that one.

    Where else? What else?

    Well, what about the kid in the states who wrote some rap lyrics, posted them on facebook, and has been held for a month and faces up to 20 years on terrorism charges?

    And, I suspect, it goes on and on and on…..

    Here’s another. An 82 year old nun and two pacifists aged 57 and 63 (members of Transform Now Plowshares) in jail and awaiting a sentence to be handed down in September of up to 30 odd years on terrorism charges after trespassing.

    And that’s before we widen the focus to include the ‘softer oppression’; the likes of the now 30% of people living in the UK who are too poor to participate in society. And, of course, growing numbers of them will not be able to access health care (probably most noticably dental), tertiary education (unservicable fees and loans), decent housing (bedroom tax leading to ghettoisation and homelessness/suicide)…

    The post asks: What terrorism means? Well, all it means – increasingly and increasingly obviously – is that Social Democratic governments use a term as a fig leaf to mask an inexorable drift towards more exclusive and despotic modes of governance.

    • “Where else? What else?”

      Boston, an early suspect ended up dead in a river.
      Boston, according to infowars the two FBI agents who died in a helicopter incident were involved in the Tsaernev case.

      http://kaperville.com/original-suspect-in-boston-bombing-found-dead-in-a-river/
      http://www.prisonplanet.com/2-fbi-agents-involved-in-dzhokhar-tsarnaevs-arrest-fall-out-of-helicopter-and-die.html

      Woolwich, a friend of Michael Adebolajo said that MI5 asked Adebolajo if he wanted to work for them about six months ago.

      • Colonial Viper 8.1.1

        That person also said in the TV interview that MI5 had been harrassing Adebolajo for an extended time, and it turns out that Adebolajo complained to his lawyer last year that MI5 had been actively harrassing him.

        The doco above that BLiP links to is very interesting. Interrogation and torture by western trained security forces was pivotal in the radicalisation of some people who were fundamental to the Islamic Jihad movement.

      • tracey 8.1.2

        We need to read all accounts with caution be they the authorities or the friend of a murderer. In my experience few things are black and white. What “appears” (for ugly truth) straightforward is a young man was brutally attacked in Woolich. Beyond that (and in ugly’s case including that) we need to be cautious about what is the “truth”.

        Propaganda didn’t die with the cold war and was never only coming from eastern Europe. We are propagandised every day in a myriad of ways by the media, politicians, companies and so on.

  9. tracey 9

    I understand a live grenade 9with pin in) was thrown at or in a mosque the night of the murder. That was not described as terrorism? Why can’t we call it murder until we know more? It’s like murder is “bad” enough enough, people have to be the victim of terrorist acts. It’s politics, pure and simple.

    As for england being at war with these people vto, do you mean ex-pat nigerians living in England, People who convert to Islam? be specific or do you mean “the war on terror” (TWOT) – that amorphous phrase used as a political catchall?

    it’s awful this young man was murdered. Just as it’s awful when anyone is murdered. We really need to stop grading deaths;

    this one was really important, makes the news and the Pm speaks;
    this one is awful but doesn’t need widespread highlighting

  10. tracey 10

    So being killed by a “terrorist” is worse than being killed by a “husband”, stranger? Not to the dead person. What a strange differentiation.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 10.1

      The differentiation is in the motive.

      • Colonial Viper 10.1.1

        Raising of fear, us giving our power to the authorities and politicians, the civilised peace loving “us” versus the barbarian hateful “them”

        • tracey 10.1.1.1

          yup, strange indeed. Even stranger we fall for it.

          So many are so excited cos they HATED the end of the “reds under the bed” era.

        • tracey 10.1.1.2

          yup, strange indeed. Even stranger we fall for it.

          So many are so excited cos they HATED the end of the “reds under the bed” era.

        • Ugly Truth 10.1.1.3

          Cicero described Roman humans as homo humanus, the others as barbaric. Rome never died, its power base shifted to religious institutions and it’s legacy evolved into the civil law.

      • tracey 10.1.2

        I know why there is a differentiation but it is largely political and vacuous, imo. Is an assassination no longer an assassination or a “terrorist act”?

        What WILL we use the word assassination for?

        If Jonestown happened today would it be terrorism because of a misguided religious motive? It seems to me we could really piss off the so-called terrorists if we just called them murderers.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 10.1.2.1

          Not sure that holds. Repellent as it may be, terrorism, or political murder if you prefer, has a ghoulish logic which holds, for example, that the more senseless, innocent and defenceless the target, the higher its value.

          “Show them we mean business”.

  11. tracey 11

    “Two men have been arrested for attacking mosques in south-east England as the backlash against the butchering of a British soldier in Woolwich begins.

    In Gillingham, Kent, a man ran into the local mosque and started smashing windows and bookcases. Meanwhile in Braintree, Essex, it is alleged that a man attacked the Islamic place of worship with a knife and explosive device.

    Both the attackers have now been arrested by police.

    In Gillingham, one witness told Kent Online they saw a man enter the mosque and start smashing glass, specifically targeting cabinets containing copies of the Qu’ran.”

    One yelled “where is your Allah now?”

    No mention of terrorists though.

  12. Terrorism, says the media, is political violence committed by The Other. That can be white muslims, or queer people, or women, or vegans, or environmentalists, or basically anyone that scares the more regressive elements of our society.

    If you’re white and right-wing, however, then you’re not a terrorist, you’re just crazy.

  13. Don't worry be happy 13

    Like everyone I was stunned and shocked watching the footage of the aftermath of the Woolich attack but (having it suddenly dawn on me) have a question for anyone’s input…

    Was that footage taken by a professional camera crew?

    It’s just that I thought that the voice over implied that it was taken by on lookers on their phones.

    If that is true then the person(s) who took the footage I watched was way in control…the camera didn’t shake, or pan wildly to other scenes developing, it focused relentlessly on a guy quite close covered in blood and holding weapons and it didn’t waver. There were no exclamations, no sharp intake of breath, prayer, not even a ‘Shit’ or an OMG…nothing expressed by whoever took that footage.Weird I thought to myself….

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 13.1

      Tired of the “official explanation”? Decide what really happened, then make your own case with Google Forensics™.

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    2 weeks ago
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    2 weeks ago
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    2 weeks ago
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    2 weeks ago
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    2 weeks ago
  • Labour to tackle Hutt housing crisis
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    2 weeks ago
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  • Valedictory Speech
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    2 weeks ago
  • Teachers deserve a democratic Education Council
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    2 weeks ago
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    GreensBy Barry Coates
    3 weeks ago
  • John Clarke aka Fred Dagg will be missed by all Kiwis
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    3 weeks ago
  • Labour’s modern approach to monetary policy
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    3 weeks ago
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    3 weeks ago
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