THREE CHEERS FOR CHRIS CARTER!



Good old Chris Carter.

He may be facing expulsion from the Labour Party for correctly saying that Phil Goff and Labour can't win next year's election, but he has unintentionally underlined just how right wing this Labour Party is.

Goff, whose leadership is under scrutiny again, has claimed he has the unswerving loyalty of his entire caucus.

It's been made abundantly apparent once again that NO-ONE in Labour is opposed to its support for the free market and neoliberalism. The next journalist or commentator who even dares to mention a 'Labour left' should immediately be placed in the corner of the room with a big dunces cap on the their head.

But wait - there's more!

Goff has also said he has the total support of the CTU.

Of course, we've known this all along but its the kind of thing the CTU is trying to tone down a little given the way Labour screwed over working people last time it was in government.

The CTU bureauccracy are prepared to back Goff even though he refuses to commit Labour to throwing out National's new labour legislation.

I heard slippery Goff on National Radio yesterday. Despite repeated attempts by interviewer Kathryn Saunders to pin him down, Goff remained non committal as whether Labour would repeal the legislation.

Given the fact that Labour never threw out National's Employment Contracts Act, what are the odds that Goff and the Labour Party would not do the dirty on workers again?

Phil Goff and Trevor Mallard might be questioning Carter's mental stability but, boy, you really would have to have a screw loose to claim that Labour is an 'alternative' to National...

CHINESE KILL ZONE


Who executes the most people?

Yes, its 'our' great friend, the Chinese Stalinist regime. It executed more people than the rest of the world put together in 2009.

In China you can be executed for, among other things, bribing officials and stealing historical relics. And for opposing the Chinese regime.

This information is taken from Amnesty International.

ALL ABOARD THE GRAVY TRAIN!


A long time ago I raised concerns about the money various Christchurch City councillors were raking in for serving as directors' on council-controlled companies and planning hearings.

The Press has also consistently highlighted this issue in recent years, including some geat reports by Charlie Gates.

My view has always been that councillors should have to 'make do' with their already inflated salaries. They should have all been promptly kicked off the Christchurch City Council gravy train long ago.

But thanks to Sideshow Bob. that gravy train has been chugging along quite nicely for some of Christchurch's elected 'representatives'.

Back in 2007 Councillor Sue Wells took her salary to $107,253, including $28,500 as director of Christchurch City Holdings. She is still a director of Christchurch City Holdings Ltd (CCHL). Who knew you could sit as a director seemingly in perpetuity?

Despite being paid well over $100,000 a year Wells has also in the past found time to take on non-council work which has included lending her voice to in-house commercials for The Warehouse and Supervalue supermarkets in Christchurch.

Another loyal Sideshow Bob supporter, Gail Sheriff, has consistently been Christchurch's highest paid councillor. In 2007 her basic councillor pay of $77,977 was topped up by $34,004 as a director of the Orion Group - a grand total of $111,981.

Last year Sheriff received $52,400 in fees last year, on top of her $83,000 salary - a total of $135,400.

In 2008 she said her $34,000 a year directorship involved 'five to 10 hours of work a month'.

She spent the first three months of that year holidaying in Bali and elsewhere - on full pay.

She claimed that she dealt with her work commitments by answering her emails twice a day! Such dedication.

While basking in the Bali sun, Sheriff was paid approximately $34,000.

None of this was of any concern to Sideshow Bob - probably because he's been a enthusiastic rider of the gravy train himself.

Mayor Bob, earned nearly $45,000 in fees last year on top of his $210,000 mayoral package.

But now mayoral candidate Jim Anderton wants to derail this particular gravy train.

He says if becomes mayor in October he will request all councillors to forgo directorship fees for sitting on council-controlled organisations, because they are already well paid.

'It's not as if councillors are being asked to do extra duties. It is part of their day job that they are already being well paid for, he told The Press today.

Anderton wants the some $300,000 that the various councillors have collectively raked in diverted to struggling community groups instead- groups that have had their funding cut by Sideshow Bob and his cronies.

It sounds reasonable to me but none of Sideshow Bob's fat cat supporters on council are prepared to give up the dosh.

This outright refusal is a revealing insight into the less than attractive nature of some of Christchurch's councillors.

Sue Wells has fatuously claimed that her CCHL job is 'outside my duties as a councillor.' But hold on - she's only a director because she's a councillor, right?

Or is she saying she's pursuing a second job on council time? Why is that acceptable exactly?

Gail Sheriff has attacked Jim Anderton for being 'full of hot air and totally unrealistic'.

Oh really?

I'd say a councillor was 'full of hot air' if they claimed they were doing their council work while sitting on a Bali beach. That certainly sounds 'totally unrealistic'...

THE 'MILITARY CAREER' OF ROB GILCHRIST


A story from the 'spooks files' and, no, its not about Wikileaks posting all those official US documents about what the US military really have been up to in Afghanistan.

Remember Rob Gilchrist?

He was the so-called left wing activist exposed as a police informant.

He spent almost a decade spying on New Zealand animal rights and welfare groups, beneficiary groups, socialist groups, trade unions, ant-Iraq war groups and various other groups. Indeed his police handlers gave Gilchrist a very wide brief.

Gilchrist was working for the Police Special Investigations Group (SIG) and in Christchurch he reported to Detective Peter Gilroy and Detective Sergeant John Sjoberg.

It was a Labour Government that set up the SIG. Announcing the SIG teams in 2004, Phil Goff said they were to boost New Zealand's 'counter-terrorism' capacity.

Not only did Gilchrist pass on information about the activities of various groups but their membership lists and emails. His police handlers also wanted to know about the personal lives of activists, including their personal relationships.

There were widespread suspicions that Gilchrist wasn't who he was pretending to be but nothing ever came of those suspicions.

Gilchrist's cover was blown in 2008 when his girlfriend at the time stumbled on evidence of Gilchrist's nasty activities.

She copied the contents of his computer and installed software on his cellphone to record his messages.

Since then Gilchrist has gone to ground and there have been suggestions that he may have even vanished overseas.

But now a website, Australian and New Zealand Military Imposters (ANZMI) has recently shone some more light on Gilchrist's 'military career'.

He never had one.

Gilchrist claimed to be a former member of the SAS. In reality the closest he ever got to being a member of the SAS was playing war games (see photo).

Gilchrist though claimed that he was already an Lieutenant when he applied for the SAS.

He claimed he because there was no position available in the SAS for a lieutenant he resigned his commission so he could apply as an ordinary soldier.

The website has gathered information on Gilchrist's remarkable tales of military daring do. Clearly he has spent too much time reading Commando comics.

Some of Gilchrist's outrageous claims have included:

- Being a member of the Diplomatic Protection Squad.

-Medically discharged from the SAS after injuring his back after falling out of a helicopter.

-Was a military sniper in Bosnia.

One signed statement that the ANZMI website have received states that Gilchrist 'claimed to be suffering from Parkinson’s Disease as a result of chemical poisoning from the military. Last time I spoke face to face with him and he would start shaking depending on who was in the room.'

My personal favourite is that he claimed to be involved in the assassinations of drug dealers in South America and in 'special operations' in places 'he could not talk about.'

Apparently there is a photo in the Kiwi Disposals army surplus shop in Christchurch which shows a man dressed in black with a respirator on, absailing down a building in Christchurch. Gilchrist has claimed that this is him.

The website have unearthed one e-mail by Gilchrist in which he admits he never was a member of the SAS and in 2005 he was claiming that he had only served part time in the NZ Territorial Forces. But there is no evidence to back up this claim either. Given Gilchrist's track record we can safely assume this is just another one of his tall tales.

BOB GETS PARANOID


Poor paranoid Sideshow Bob. Whenever he gets stressed he begins seeing left wing conspiracies all over the place. I wouldn't be surprised if he's peering under his bed right now, looking for 'red's.

This time he says there is a 'left wing plot' against him because mayoral candidate Liz Gordon has pulled out of the mayoralty race in order to not split the opposition vote and allow Sideshow Bob to get re-elected by default. That certainly would be a nightmare come true.

Anyone who knows anything about Ms Gordon, a former Alliance MP, knows she has major political differences with Jim Anderton and she couldn't, by any stretch of the imagination, be described as a Labour Party supporter.

Ms Gordon, like most of Christchurch, just wants to see the back of Bob.

Said Gordon: "If I stayed in the race . . . the possible outcome is a Parker victory, and I will certainly not be responsible for that."

Liz Gordon is standing for council and a good councillor she would make too.

Sideshow Bob has had the barefaced cheek to say that the mayoralty 'should not be about party politics but about the city.'

This was from a man who on his election website slams the last Labour Government and gushes enthusiastically about the National Government.

Meanwhile Sideshow Bob as moved Mrs Sideshow Bob, Jo-Nicholls Parker, into 'a little spare space" next to his office on the top floor of the council building.

How nice for Mrs Sideshow Bob. I guess she'll be there to hold Bob's hand and assure him that not everyone in Christchurch hates him.

I hope there's no plans to run Bob's election campaign from there - that would be a rather inappropriate use of council facilities.

Mrs Sideshow Bob shouldn't get herself too comfortable though because she and Bob will be moving out permanently in about three months..

KEEP THE PRESSURE ON THE CTU


After decades of management speak from a Council of Trade Unions committed to maintaining its cosy arrangement with both Labour and National Government's it is certainly a breath of fresh air to hear CTU President Helen Kelly evoking some good old fashioned trade unionism.

Apparently strike action is not so 'old hat' as Kelly has so often insisted.

The CTU's hand was, of course, forced.

If John Key hadn't announced a package of law reforms designed to weaken the working class and challenge the authority of unions, its likely it would be business as usual with the CTU.

Indeed Kelly last week lauded the Employments Contract Act , claiming it has 'fostered good faith relationships between employers and unions,'

She has even said the CTU has delivered on its side of the bargain by ensuring that incidences of industrial action have been at an all-time low.

This is certainly true. Helen Kelly and the CTU have never deviated from their pro-business stance and have sold out workers time and time again.

In 2009, there were just 18 recorded strikes, involving 2,010 workers and 1,382 person-days of work lost—a historic low. That this occurred while the National Government was launching its austerity policies, is nothing for Kelly to be proud of. But proud of it she is.

Job cuts, high unemployment, and virtually zero wage growth has been the lot of working people and the CTU has actively suppressed resistance while it has vainly tried to 'influence' government policy.

But the economic recession refuses to go away and John Key has shown no hesitation to expand the Government's attacks on the working class.

The CTU's policy of collaboration has been a failure and now it has no choice but to respond.

What came out of the CTU National Council meeting last Thursday was the launch of a campaign which has been lamely called 'Fairness at Work', designed to combat the proposed new labour 'reforms'.

Helen Kelly has commented that the campaign will be "very, very public" and will include industrial action, demonstrations, public meetings and community activities.'

According to Unite's Matt McCarten, unions will adopt differing tactics depending 'on their culture and membership base'.

The danger though is that the CTU will seek to orchestrate a meek and mild campaign merely designed to have the bill 'moderated.'

Already the Employers Federation are saying that the bill can be looked at when its reached the select committee stage.

Nor can we accept any attempts to drive opposition to the labour reforms to support for the Labour Party, still committed as it is to neoliberalism .

Phil Goff might oppose the National Government's labour legislation but the Clark Government, of which Goff was a senior minister, was hardly a friend of working people.

When in power, Labour kept many of the features of National’s Employment Contracts Act and it's not unlikely it would do the same with National Government's proposed new labour laws.

Finally it would be a mistake to allow the CTU to conduct a 'one issue' campaign because these reforms are all part of an assault by capital to create a low wage economy with a weak and complaint working class.

Sue Bradford touched on this when she wrote that we need to make the link between the proposed labour reforms and the Government's agenda to make sweeping changes to the welfare system which are designed to cut costs and services by severely restricting people's access to benefits - all at a time when people are already struggling to survive.

The union movement cannot sit idly by and allow the welfare state to be dismantled and it must fight the increasing belligerent neoliberal agenda of the Key Government.

This, of course, is easier said and done. For instance, no one can feel inspired that the CTU's 'answers' to the unemployment crisis do not challenge the assumptions of neoliberalism at all. The best we get from the CTU is a call for temporary job schemes.

The CTU woke from its slumbers last week but the pressure needs to be continually applied to ensure that it is not tempted to retreat again to the way of least resistance.

It will also be a step forward for the left if we see the emergence of struggles that go beyond the control of the union bureaucracy.

BREAKFAST WITH BOB



The Press has reported that Mrs Sideshow Bob, Jo Nicholls-Parker, has attended regular breakfast meetings with Sideshow Bob and his loyal right hand man, Christchurch City Council CEO Tony Marryatt.

This has raised questions as to whether Mrs Sideshow Bob has overstepped the mark in terms of her involvement in council business.

Bob claims that his wife was not present at the breakfast table when major council issues were discussed.

What is also interesting is that Marryatt spent $1182 on the breakfast meetings with Parker and Nicholls-Parker between May 2009 and May this year.

Bob claims that he and Mrs Sideshow Bob were more than happy to pay for their own breakfasts but Marryatt wanted to pick up the tab.

He didn't actually personally pick up the tab though - he put the cost of the breakfasts on his council credit card.

Marryatt obviously couldn't pay for the breakfasts himself as he's only on an annual salary of some $450,000. He received a straight 22 percent increase in his salary in 2009. This was approximately an $80,000 increase.

Despite being on a annual salary of $210,000 Sideshow Bob put some $3000 on his council credit card last year. Most of the money went on food and booze.

The good times keep rollin' for Bob and Tony...

SIDESHOW BOB OWNS UP TO THE OBVIOUS - HE'S A NAT!


I see that Sideshow Bob has got his election website up and going and what a sad affair it is.

While blithely ignoring the wishes and concerns of the good people of Christchurch over the past three years, the dreary website attempts to justify what Bob calls his more 'controversial' actions - like bailing out his mate Dave Henderson and trying to put council rents up a massive 24 percent and campaigning for the sacking of the democratically elected councillors of Environment Canterbury and supporting the building a concrete block in the middle of the Arts Centre, etc, etc.

Slippery Bob's excuses are pretty much what we've all heard before but readers keen to take a walk in Sideshow Bob's World of Spin can go here.

Despite the torrent of words, Bob isn't owning up to doing anything wrong. He's continuing to claim that he simply did not explain 'carefully enough the reasons behind some of our decisions'.

But, as I've said in previous posts, the people of Christchurch weren't born yesterday and they know too well what Bob has been up to and who he really represents. That might explain why he's polling so badly...what do you reckon, Bob?

But there's something worth noting on the website. After consistently describing himself as 'politically independent' Bob has finally owned up to something that has been blindingly obvious for many years - he's a Nat.

This is what true blue Bob has to say on his website:

'Right now I am enjoying working with the National government. As a city we got nothing out of the Labour government. ...this is a government that is actually generously investing in our city.'

Such enthusiasm for John Key and co.

It was an entirely different story in 2007 when Bob was urging the Labour-aligned 2021 election candidates to leave the political group and become 'independent.

"There are a few good people in 2021. I urge them to walk away from the 2021 party and put themselves forward as independent candidates," said the pompous 'independent' Bob.

Bob's so desperate to boost his flagging re-election chances he thinks the path to his political salvation lies in jumping on the coat tails of the Key Government.

Of course Bob's public support for the National Party will now make it much more difficult for his council supporters like Sue wells and Barry Corbett to credibly claim they are 'politically independent'.

Get the feeling that its 'every councillor for themselves' within the Bob camp?

Bob is also putting himself about elsewhere in cyberspace. He has also launched a page on Facebook.

Vote Bob Parker has only got 37 friends though. Bob's got a long way to go to catch up with The Bob Parker is an Evil Space Lizard Awareness Movement which has a healthy 283 friends.

WILL THE CTU DECIDE TO FIGHT - OR WILL IT RETREAT?

Tomorrow, in what has been widely described as' a council of war', unions will meet to thrash out tactics to combat the National-led Government's proposed labour law 'reforms'.

Already there are indications that the 'council of war' may prove to be something of a damp squid with the CTU set to backpedal from its earlier statements that it was prepared to 'go to the streets' and fight the Government.

The speculation is that the CTU, the PSA and the conservative Labour-affiliated unions will not support any full mobilisation to fight the 'reforms'.

Instead they will only support a largely symbolic campaign, designed to cause as little disruption as possible.

This is the position that the Labour Party leadership favours.

This has parallels to 1991 when the CTU failed to call for a General Strike against the National Government's Employment Contracts Act.

Despite overwhelming rank and file support for a General Strike, the CTU Special Affiliates Conference voted against it.

It wished to avoid any direct confrontation with the Government and capital. CTU President Ken Douglas even claimed at the time 'that the era of confrontational class struggle had passed.'

It was an abject sellout by the CTU and one that proved to be a huge historical blunder.

After the ECA was passed, workers wages fell and the union movement fractured, losing tens of thousands of members in the process.

So we have come to another crucial historical moment. Will it be fight or flee?

Former Green MP Sue Bradford has commented:

My question to the CTU and its constituent unions is whether they are going to have the resolve to actually fight what’s going down in 2010 with every means at their disposal, or whether there’s going to be another sellout like that of Ken Douglas, Angela Foulkes and their allies back in 1991.

I sincerely hope that this time around Helen Kelly, Peter Conway and their colleagues will embrace a full response to the proposed reforms, and that the CTU will be a lot more aware than it was in the 90s of the inextricable link between proposed industrial and welfare changes

The CTU cannot afford to fool itself that organising a few big rallies with dozens of sometimes rather tedious speakers and putting out a couple of leaflets will be enough to cause the Government or its allies any concern.


In Parliament yesterday the Government was openly derisive of the CTU's failure to fulfil its threat to 'name and shame' employers who took on workers under the 90 day bill legislation

Clearly the Government feels it has the measure of the CTU hierarchy.

Let's hope it's a false confidence.

IS THE CTU REALLY PREPARED TO FIGHT THE GOVERNMENT?


According to commentator Chris Trotter, who was at the demonstration outside the National Party conference on Sunday, CTU President Helen Kelly apparently drew a line in the sand and announced that the CTU would be holding that line. The National-led Government’s proposed employment law 'reforms' are supposedly the straw that broke the back of the camel. The proof though will be in the pudding.

According to Trotter, Kelly closed the demonstration by announcing that CTU’s National Council would be meeting this Thursday , and that she was sure they’d all be joining the CTU again very soon – 'on the streets'.

This was enough for Trotter to give the conservative CTU President a 'congratulatory bear-hug.' While I can appreciate Chris's undoubted relief in hearing a trade union leader actually sounding like a union leader for a change, Kelly has not suddenly morphed into some kind of working class hero.

Since the CTU has consistently demonstrated that it can always find another bottom line to replace the bottom line it has meekly surrendered, something has clearly pushed Kelly and her fellow bureaucrats into some kind of action.

After all we are talking about the same Helen Kelly who in 2008 castigated the young doctors for going out on strike. She displayed little union solidarity then when she said that she hoped the strike 'doesn't give unions a bad name'. She further went on to describe the doctors' union as not a 'modern union' because it engaged in 'old fashioned tactics' like strikes.

We are talking about the same Helen Kelly who has led a union bureaucracy that has actively collaborated with the National-led Government while it has, in response to the global capitalist crisis, launched a series of attacks against working people.

Interestingly Chris Trotter, who remains committed to the Labour Party, glosses over this duplicity by merely saying that Helen Kelly '...and the CTU were willing to wear the scorn of the militants if it meant establishing a sensible working relationship with Key and his cabinet.'

It would be more accurate to say that the CTU have been willing to sellout workers in a vain attempt to 'influence' government policy.

But Kelly, the class collaborationist, has now supposedly changed her tune.

What has changed this time round is that among the Key Governments's package of anti-worker labour 'reforms' is the proposal that union officials will not have open access to work sites. Unions will need the consent of employers although the government claims access cannot be 'unreasonably' withheld.

The capitalist crisis and the neoliberal offensive is now inexorably lapping at the feet of the union bureaucracy and it doesn't like it one bit. It feels threatened.

Perhaps Helen Kelly and co could organise themselves a cake stall or two - which was the sum total of the 'resistance' that the National Distribution Union displayed when mass redundancies were announced at the Christchurch clothing manufacturer Lane Walker Rudkin.

While the previous Labour Government would not of stepped on the toes of its allies within the union bureaucracy, the fact remains is that the National-led Government are pursuing the political and agenda started by Labour in 1984.

As the global capitalist crisis threatens to become a full scale depression , it is simply not enough for the CTU to organise a single issue campaign against the proposed labour reforms in the hope of having the more 'unpalatable' aspects of the package 'moderated'.

It is also needs, for example, to resist continuing job losses in the state sector. It also needs to fight National's intended hatchet job on the welfare system.

What is required is union resistance to the entire neoliberal offensive and the articulation of a clear progressive alternative.

Unfortunately I think this will be a step too far for Helen Kelly. She doesn't want any direct confrontation with the Key Government, fearing it will jeopardise Labour's marginal election chances. I'm sure this is the message she would of received from EPMU and Labour Party boss Andrew Little.

Labour, with the support of the unions, has been central to the attacks on jobs and living standards undertaken over the past three decades.

Both the Labour Party and the CTU have signalled that a Labour Government led by Phil Goff will merely be tinkering with the neoliberal agenda rater than overthrowing it altogether.

The truth is workers and beneficiaries would be little better off under a Labour Government of Phil Goff.

Whichever party or coalition of parliamentary parties is installed after the 2011 election, it will continue with austerity measures that are inflicting such hardship and misery on ordinary people.

Helen Kelly and CTU, despite being pushed out of their inertia, are not about to unleash war against the status quo.

HENDO'S HOLE IS SOLD


I haven't written much in recent times on Sideshow Bob's 'urban visionary' because I felt I was basically writing the same story everytime.

As Hendo's 'empire' crumbles to dust, most stories these days involve receivers chasing Hendo, Hendo in court and Hendo denying all responsibility.

But it is worthy of mention that Allied Farmers last week confirmed the sale of the 23 ha Five Mile property near Queenstown, otherwise known as Hendo's Hole.

Hendo,you will recall, wanted to build an up-market self--contained village on the site and convinced those financial wizards at Hanover Finance to lend him $70 million.

His old mate Rodney Hide showed up to turn over the first dirt on the development site (see photo). I doubt that Hide is too keen to talk about that now.

The thousands of Hanover Finance investors who got screwed over by owners Eric Watson and Mark Hotchin will not be overly impressed that Allied Farmers sold Hendo's Hole for a mere $23 million. Allied are insisting it was a good price in the circumstances.

Investors in Hanover were given shares in Allied Farmers - which are now worth a pitiful four cents each.

UNBELIEVABLE


Unbelievable.

Having actively cooperated with the Key Government while it has implemented its austerity measures and in the process turfed thousands of workers on to the unemployment scrapheap, the self-serving union fat cats are now asking workers to demonstrate against the Key Government.

The demonstration is planned for Sunday at the National Party conference in Auckland.

While it has done absolutely nothing to resist this Government's anti-worker offensive, the CTU bureaucrats now wants workers to demonstrate at the National party conference against the expansion of the 90 day free to fire legislation to the entire workforce.

The hypocrisy is staggering. The venal and corrupt politics of the union bureaucracy are now laid bare for all to see.

The CTU and the PSA have not - and will not - raise a finger to fight this government but, boy, its an entirely different story when the union bureaucrats think their interests are under threat.

And did CTU President Helen Kelly and her cronies put up any resistance when the original 90 day bill was introduced? No, they didn't. They were quite prepared to sacrifice the smaller non-union workplaces in the hope that the Government would not try to storm their little kingdom's.

And having done eveything in their power to suppress any kind worker fightback, does the CTU they really think people are just going to obediently obey their commands to demonstrate on Sunday? I think many union members will be thinking; 'Yeah well, what have you done for me lately?'

As we know too well from recent history, there has been no bottom line as far as the likes of Helen Kelly and Andrew Little have been concerned. They have sold out workers time and time again.

The expansion of the 90 day fire at will legislation will be another step in the direction of bedding in the low wage economy combined with a vulnerable and complaint workforce. And the CTU and the PSA have allowed this to happen.

Now the bastards want our help?

Unbelievable.

TVNZ ORDERED TO BROADCAST APOLOGY


I see that the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) have upheld complaints that TVNZ hasn't done enough in the way of apologising for Paul Henry's infamous 'retard' comments.

In November last year Henry referred to singer Susan Boyle as a retard because 'she was starved of oxygen' at birth and 'suffered a mild form of intellectual disability'.

Henry made a public statement that he had never intended to cause offence but never actually apologised for the comments themselves.

He escaped any form of censure, just as he did when he gratuitously insulted Greenpeace's Stephanie Mills.

TVNZ's own apology was less than fulsome.

While it somewhat grudgingly said it was sorry for Henry's remarks it also tried to defend its right wing Breakfast host.

It claimed that there was 'a legitimate place for Paul Henry's boundary-pushing style and sense of humour in broadcasting.'

In other words, TVNZ has no problems with Henry using Breakfast to air his right wing beliefs and prejudices.

TVNZ's half hearted apology provoked more complaints to the BSA.

And clearly the BSA has now run out of patience with TVNZ.

It has instructed it to broadcast a full apology within a month. It must be broadcast on a Monday edition of Breakfast either directly before or after the What’s in the Mags' segment.

That'll be something worth tuning in for - especially if Henry has to read out the apology.

Even if he doesn't he'll just have to sit their in the studio while the apology is broadcast. Unless, of course, he conveniently doesn't show up to work that day and either Ali Mau or Pete Williams have to cover for the megastar..

LET'S GET RID OF THE GENERAL MELCHETT'S!


In the last episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, which is set on the Western Front in 1917, the mad General Anthony Hogmnay Melchett, informs Blackadder and his chums that they will be going 'over the top' come the morning,

Melchett ( brilliantly played by Stephen Fry) says to Private Baldrick: 'Don't fear. If you should falter (on the battlefield), I will be right behind you'.

Blackadder mutters: 'About 35 miles behind you!'.

That scene sometimes comes to mind when I'm reading more self-serving dirges from various politicians and corporate 'leaders' about how 'we' all need to make 'sacrifices' in this time of the Great Recession.

However those who are waxing lyrically about 'making sacrifices' for 'the common good' are the very same people who have made no sacrifices at all. They've pushed us 'over the top' and then retired to 'the lifestyles they have become accustomed to'.

There is no 'we' - just 'us'.

What 'sacrifices' has the Minister of Finance, Bill English made, for example? This guy has screwed about $500,000 out of us by pretending that the family home was in Dipton.

But that hasn't stopped him preaching about the need for 'economic restraint'. He's feeding his face with cream buns but expecting us to make do with bread and water.

As it was during the First World War , its the working class who are being sent 'over the top'. This time we're not being mowed down by German machine guns but by the scourges of job losses. wage cuts, cuts in social services, etc.

There's a class war going down and our so called leaders, the Labour Party and the CTU and PSA 'leaderships' have disarmed us and gone over to the other side.

When working class resistance fighters are sorely needed we have ended up with.... Helen Kelly, Andrew Little, Phil Goff. The General Melchett's of the labour movement.

Like the original General Melchett, they are 'right behind us'. ..thirty five miles behind us.

CTU President Helen Kelly's last defiant comment on Twitter was: Discovered fantastic new Indian restaurant. Aaina. Upper Cuba. Yum.'

Which just about sums why we've been losing this war.

The cosy arrangement that union officials have had with the both Labour and National government's over the past two decades has removed them from any understanding of the real needs of rank and file union members.

It's time for the troops to rebel, get rid of all the General Melchett's and replace them some real leaders.

Now that would really be 'yum'...

FAT LITTLE LAPDOG


Certainly John Key wasn't holding back when he described Pete Bethune as an ungrateful little sod. Yes Pete, instead of holding press conferences and condemning the Government, you should be humbly thankful for all the help the Government has given you while you languished in a Japanese prison for five months.

But Bethune wasn't actually complaining about the support he received while in prison. But he did make it clear that he is angry that the Government has been more than eager to appease the Japanese Government rather than defend the anti-whaling protesters.

While Key has been throwing the punches, the Minister of Foreign Affairs appears to have gone AWOL again. McCully is always good at being somewhere else when things go wrong.

The cone of silence has descended over our hero although he had a lot to say when Bethune's high-speed boat the Ady Gil was badly damaged in a collision in the Southern Ocean with the Shonan Maru 2 whaling ship in January.

Rather than condemning the Shoan Maru for ramming the Ady Gil and demanding that criminal charges be pursued against crew, McCully chose to attack the protesters themselves.

The brave McCully said : "People determined to break the law and kill other people on the high seas then it is not the responsibility of the New Zealand government... or any other government to send vessels down there to stop them.'

He chose to ignore that the Japanese whalers have been breaking law by hunting for whales within a whale sanctuary. Nor did it matter to McCully that it was the Japanese whaling ship that rammed the Ady Gil and not the other way round.

But we're talking about a man who has steadfastly refused to condemn Israel's barbaric behaviour in Gaza and a man who thinks its terribly impolite for MPs to upset the Chinese Stalinist dictatorship.

McCully likes to portray himself as a man of impartiality and detachment but, in truth, he is a sycophant to the rich and powerful.

Given McCully's craven capitulation to the Japanese government its not surprising that Pet Bethune has described the Government as being Japan's 'fat little lapdog'

Who could honestly disagree with Bethune's assessment?

WHO REALLY WINS?


I've been unerringly wrong predicting results at the FIFA World Cup but I am confident that Spain will beat Holland tomorrow morning.

I predicted England to shade Germany then I thought Argentina would be too strong for Germany. After Germany clinically disposed of Argentina I thought the Germans would beat Spain.

Despite my hopeless punditry I think Spain will overcome the Dutch. That'll teach them for wearing that garish orange football strip.

Real Madrid's new manager Jose Mourinho suggested before the World Cup that the strongest club team could be the best international team

While his remarks were generally regarded as more Mourinho flamboyancy, the success of Spain has gone a long way to proving his argument.

Spain relied on six Barcelona players to guide Spain to victory against Germany. Actually, it was seven Barcelona players because striker David Villa, who is the top scorer in the tournament, will join Barcelona in a $50 million transfer agreed to before the World Cup.

Not surprisingly Barcelona's style of play has been transferred to the Spanish team. Both Barcelona and Spain dominate opponents by controlling the ball and stringing together intricate passing sequences.

And that was how Spain beat Germany, effectively suffocating the Germans in midfield and cutting off the supply of ball to their strikers

The German's spent most of the match chasing shadows.

It was Barcelona's outstanding centre back, Carles Puyol, who scored the winner for Spain.

if Holland are to have any chance, they need to find a way to disrupt Spain/Barcelona's controlled game. If they allow Spain to dictate then they will lose.

While football fans have gone ga ga over the World Cup we also need to consider the political and economic context in which the tournament has taken place.

While football is often referred to as 'the people's game ' in South Africa at 140 rand (approximately $35), even the cheapest tickets for group games have been beyond the reach of many people in a country where the average monthly wage is estimated at just over 2,700 rand.

Tickets for a ordinary South African league match typically costs 20 rand. Among the black population, who make up by far the majority at matches, the monthly average wage is just 1,620 rand.

The South African government has also engaged in massive expenditure to build unnecessary new stadiums in a country where poverty is rife and there are woefully inadequate welfare, heath and education systems.

There is little evidence to suggest that ordinary South Africans will benefit economically from the World Cup. Indeed it looks like FIFA will be the biggest benefactor from the World Cup. It will receive more than twice the amount of television license fees than from the World Cup held four years ago in Germany, South Africa will not receive one cent of those revenues.

Some of that money is doled out to the competing nations at the World Cup. The money the New Zealand Football Association will be receiving is money that ordinary South Africans won't see.

The documentary World Cup in Africa: Who really Wins? looks at some of the more unpalatable aspects of the tournament,

Craig Tanner is the director of the documentary. He recently told the New York Times:

'Let’s be clear – this discussion is not about whether the World Cup should be held in South Africa – it is about the manner in which those in power have hijacked a national opportunity, in order to engage in expenditure (for the benefit of an elite minority) which was not required in order to host the tournament. Can there be any question that the new stadiums were built at the expense of South Africa’s poor, sick, homeless, hungry and uneducated?

For those who argue that the construction of the stadiums has provided jobs, there is a simple response: Had the same quantum of funds been invested in construction of hospitals, houses and school facilities, more workers would have been employed.'

You can see a short preview of the documentary here.

HAS ANYONE SEEN THE 'ECONOMIC RECOVERY'?


A house that I pass on the way to the shopping mall was auctioned about a fortnight ago. It was home to a young couple and their two young children until the bank decided it wanted its money back and called in the auctioneers. Yet another mortgagee sale, more victims of a economic crisis that they were not responsible for.

The so-called 'economic recovery' certainly missed this unfortunate family.

I'm sure it will be of no comfort at all to this young family that they have not been alone in their plight.

According to the latest statistics mortgagee sales have now reached the same level they were at when the recession was supposedly doing its worst. There were 246 sales in April compared to 250 at the same time last year.

In fact the situation is worse now for ordinary folk - because it is ordinary folk who are being turfed out of their homes.

Previously it was property developers and investors with multiple properties who were forced to sell. But most mortgagee sales now involve home owners with only one property. The recession isn't so much receding as sweeping over the lives of ordinary people.

This is another symptom of an economy and an economic system in crisis.

The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research this week expressed its concern about the state of the economy. While, of course, its not going to admit that neoliberalism doesn't work and that capitalism is inherently flawed, it did go as far as to say that 'signs of a stalling recovery are worrying. At this stage of the cycle we would normally see the economy recovering strongly'.

The economy certainly hasn't done what John Key confidently predicted it would do. In March last year he told TVNZ's Q+A that there would be an 'aggressive recovery' this year.

In May this year John Key was still in cloudcuckooland when he told a National Party regional conference that 'the worst of the global crisis has now passed and the economy has begun to grow again.'

Indeed Key has not been alone in his claims of an 'economic recovery'. From politicians to free market economists to media commentators the message has been the same; the worst of the recession is over.

At the same time though we are seeing austerity measures being implemented across the board.

There are cuts in welfare,education and health. It is the people who are least able to endure such cuts who are the ones who are being forced to endure them.

Of course similar austerity measures are being applied by government's throughout the world.

In Europe workers are demonstrating against the cuts in countries like Greece and Spain. We can expect such demonstrations in the United Kingdom when the austerity measures of the new government start to take their toll.

A Europe-wide strike is scheduled for September 29.

Here in New Zealand ordinary people have been left defenceless by opposition parliamentary parties that share the Government's enthusiasm for neoliberalism and the 'free market.'

The Labour- aligned trade union bureaucracy has simply refused to fight. All that is offer from scoundrels like CTU President Helen Kelly is the hope that Goff's Labour will get elected next year and that it might implement some 'keynesian lite' policies.

Remember, this is the same Phil Goff who told us last year that there was no alternative to the free market and scorned his party's own social democratic history.

What a disgrace.

We are heading for a double dip recession and we are expected to believe the election of a right wing Labour Government will solve our problems?

Meanwhile a large section of our population continues to suffer immensely.

I find this totally unacceptable and I condemn absolutely all those who hold up the Labour Party as the only way forward.

Rick Wolff is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts. In a recent article he wrote:

A capitalist system that generates so massive a crisis, spreads it globally, and then proposes mass austerity to "overcome" it has lost the right to continue unchallenged...Can we not learn from capitalism's repeated cycles (failures) and change to a new, non-capitalist system? Having learned hard lessons from the first socialist attempts during the last century in Russia, China, and beyond, can we not rise to the challenge to make a new attempt that avoids their failures and builds on their strengths? When better than now?


I find Professor Wolff's words both inspiring and refreshing. They stand in stark contrast to the dismal defences of the status quo I continue to hear from the likes of Phil Goff and Helen Kelly

BOB LAUNCHES HIS ELECTION CAMPAIGN


Sideshow Bob is set to launch his mayoral election campaign tomorrow (I haven't been invited) but he's already popped up in the media trying to justify his disgraceful behaviour over the last three years.

He's got a lot of justifying to do given his propensity (and that of his council lackeys) to arrogantly pursue his own agenda regardless of what the people of Christchurch might think.

Bob was, of course, the prime local agitator for the dismissal of the Environment Canterbury (ECan)councillors but Sideshow claims he only interfered 'in the best interests of the city'. Those friendly chats he had with the Minister of the Environment Nick Smith and the Minister for Local Government Rodney Hide apparently had nothing to do with Bob's anti-ECan campaign.

So depriving people of their democratic rights was in their 'best interests' was it, Bob? Given the amount of local anger the sacking of the councillors has generated, Bob will face a whole heap of flak if he tries that line at election meetings.

If he thinks that calling for ECan elections in 2012 is going to restore his credibility then he is going to be disappointed.

Everyone knows that the sacking of the ECan councillors was all about removing a major obstacle in the way of business interests and the dairy industry getting access to Canterbury's waterways.

Everyone also knows where Sideshow Bob's political loyalties lie. 'Taking care of business' is certainly his motto.

What of all other Bob's lousy decisions? Bob calls them 'controversial' decisions but a turd is still a turd no matter what you call it.

Let's list some of the 'highlights':

-He bailed out his mate Dave Henderson to the tune of $17 million. Now the ratepayer is having to pay for the upkeep of five buildings that no one wants.

-He tried to put council rents up a massive 24 percent. The High Court ruled that Bob and his council cronies had acted illegally. His faithful follower, Councillor Barry Corbett, said that council tenants were being 'selfish' and that he paid more on his mortgage each week than they paid in rent.

-He tried to build a concrete monstrosity in the middle of the Arts Council. Fortunately, thanks largely to a local campaign to save the Arts Centre, Bob got stopped.

- He spent some $5 million on a garden show which lost money this year. At same time he cut council funding to community groups.

- Despite calling for 'economic sacrifices' from the community, Bob - on a salary of $210,000 a year, still whaccked $3000 on his council credit card last year, mostly for food and booze.

- And, thanks to Sideshow Bob, Christchurch ratepayers are stuck with new council offices that will pay an annual rent bill of $8.2 million, which works out to nearly $7000 a year for every staff member. It is now Christchurch's most expensive commercial building and the rent is among the city's highest.

Since Sideshow Bob is always right, he isn't owning up to anything.

In fact he claims that his only fault is that he 'didn't satisfactorily explain the reasons behind some of those decisions.'

Bob's arrogance and conceit is such is that he just doesn't understand that local people know too well what he and his council groupies have been up to - and they just don't like it.

No amount of window dressing by Bob is going to deflect attention from the fact that Bob has been an inept and arrogant mayor who has failed to represent and defend the interests of local people.

And that's why he'll be voted out of office in October.

NO CAKE FOR KEY


Poor old Nicky Wagner.

Her leader came all the way down from Wellington on Thursday to open her new electoral offices and what happened?

The Christchurch list MP's little soiree was crashed by demonstrators protesting about the government's plans for Canterbury 's waterways, the sacking of the Environment Canterbury councillors and local people being stripped of their voting rights.

Protesters tried to present John Key with a cake in the shape of a cow poop but the police intervened and a scuffle broke out. Perhaps the police wanted the cake.

One of Key's biggest fans was also at the demonstration - the young man who jumped up and down on the roof of the PM's limousine at another demonstration and who has since been slapped with a $7,000 fine.

CRISES OF CAPITALISM



Sociologist David Harvey asks if it is time to seek a new social order beyond crisis-ridden capitalism.

This video was produced by RSA Animate.

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