The protest movement is gaining traction, not only in New York but throughout the United States.

I hugely admire the Occupy Wall Street protesters. I admire them for their determination, their fortitude and their imagination. But, most of all, I admire them because, by their sheer presence, they tell us that we do not have to accept the way things are but, collectively, we can take this world back from the vampires that seek to suck it dry.

When the hoped for 20,000 protesters didn't show up on the first day of the protest, there was a degree of anxiety and apprehension. There were fears that the protest would die a quick death, especially since the corporate media was doing its best to ensure that the political message of Occupy Wall Street did not get out to the people.

It was plain why Michael Bloomberg, the New York mayor, was defending the protesters right to protest. The impartial observer might of thought the arch-capitalist was being eminently friendly and accommodating but I, for one, thought he sounded patronising. What Bloomberg was really saying was 'Oh, the kids can let a bit of steam off for a while. They'll soon grow bored and go home.'

As the protest approaches its third week Bloomberg isn't sounding quite so friendly. In a recent interview he attacked the very idea that any of the traders on Wall Street should have to go to jail for their crimes.

He may well be worried what he thought was going to be a brief demonstration now shows real signs of developing into a nationwide movement. Protests have sprung up in cities such as Boston and San Francisco. Perhaps more worryingly for Bloomberg and others of his ilk, this is a movement that will not be conned into believing that 'working within the system' will deliver results. This is a movement that won't be strangled by Obama and the Democrats - the people who have bailed out Wall Street and plunged nearly 46 million Americans into poverty.

And last week fifty New Yorkers appeared on Forbes list of the 400 wealthiest Americans. They have a combined net worth of $211 billion. At the same time new figures have emerged from census data that the percentage of the city’s population living in poverty has risen to 20.1 percent. One in five New Yorkers are living in poverty. Yeah, New York - its one helluva town.

This week Occupy Wall Street was given a morale boost by the appearance of documentary maker and author Michael Moore at the protest. He also used an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN to advance the cause.

The protest in New York will also be boosted by a similar protest in Washington DC, which begins on October 6. Protesters will gather in Freedom Plaza 'to take control of our country and our lives.'

People are invited to take the pledge which reads:

"I pledge that if any U.S. troops, contractors, or mercenaries remain in Afghanistan on Thursday, October 6, 2011, as that criminal occupation goes into its 11th year, I will commit to being in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., with others on that day with the intention of making it our Tahrir Square, Cairo, our Madison, Wisconsin, where we will NONVIOLENTLY resist the corporate machine to demand that our resources are invested in human needs and environmental protection instead of war and exploitation. We can do this together. We will be the beginning ."

As I watch from faraway New Zealand I am reminded of a passage written by Leon Trotsky. Some seventy years ago, and near the end of his life, he movingly wrote:

'Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression, and violence, and enjoy it to the full.'

These words, I think, speak not only to the protesters on Wall Street but to people all around the world fighting back against the forces that seek to oppress and impoverish us.
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There'll be jolly banter and laughs all round when the Prime Minister hosts his own radio show on Friday. What a guy!

Tailback radio is, of course, the home of beneficiary bashing and Radio Live is no exception.

Its through right wing hosts like Michael Laws that the bashing has continued despite the fact that MediaWorks - who own Radio Live - have been recipients of corporate welfare on a grand scale.

Readers will no doubt recall that the debt-ridden MediaWorks received a whopping $43.3 million 'deferred loan' from the Government to enable it to renew its radio broadcasting licences for the next 20 years.

This is on the top of the three FM frequencies it received for nothing from the previous Labour Government and which are now occupied by a station that nobody listens to - Kiwi FM.

But if John Key is going to scratch MediaWorks back, then its only right that MediaWorks scratch John Key's back as well.

Tomorrow the Prime Minister will be hosting a one-hour show on Radio Live. He'll be joined by the All Black captain Richie McCaw and wealthy British businessman Richard Branson, who either knowingly or unknowingly , will be doing their little bit to ensure Johnny gets re-elected in November.

I'm sure they will be some planted callers as well. Indeed, according to Labour's Clare Curran, Radio Live is only gong to accept non-political questions from callers. Which, of course, will allow Key to show us all what a swell guy he is.

To complete the Friday afternoon John Key Love Festival, the Prime Minister will be followed by the former National Party candidate and all-round right wing prat, Paul Henry. He hosts Radio Live's 3-6pm show.

I don't often agree with Clare Curran but I think she's right when she says of Key's radio show: ''We're entering an election campaign and I think that all the media outlets have to be very careful about how they're managing their media coverage. The fact that we're so close to an election, we're not in a formal election period but we may as well be, I think that it's very questionable.'
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On Monday night documentary maker and author Michael Moore visited New York's Zuccotti Park where the Occupy Wall Street protestors have set up their HQ.

Moore told protestors, “Change has to start somewhere. Why not here?”

“I have spent over 20 years fighting Wall Street, General Motors, health insurance companies, the whole lot of them. A lot of that has been alone or with just a very few people. It warms my heart to see all of you here.”

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The Labour Party is irrelevant to the development of progressive politics in New Zealand. Real change will come from people who insist on thinking for themselves and who reject the party-mindedness of Parliament.

It won't come as a surprise that I think the Labour Party is useless. And the people who continue to support this politically bankrupt party are equally as useless. I can say things like this because I don't have a political career and a big fat salary to protect. Trevor Mallard can't publicly claim that I am 'a waste of money'. I also know I can say anything I like and they will be no response from Labourites. There is, unfortunately, a lack of intellectual vigour in New Zealand politics and those who don't play by the established rules are deliberately shunned. Notice the lack of socialist ideas discussed in the media and in the blogosphere?

The Labour Party rightly talks about the shattered state of the New Zealand economy but that's about as far as it goes. Labour continues to advocate the same kind of neoliberal policies that contributed to creating the problems in the first place.

Labour's solution is to tinker with them. The capitalist engine might be completely stuffed but Labour's finance spokesperson thinks he can get it going again with some fiddling, some no 8 wire and some empty rhetoric.

According to David Cunliffe: 'Labour will be hands-on, working alongside business to front the tough issues that must be faced.'

Yes, Labour will be 'hands on' - hands around the neck of the working class, strangling the life out of it in the name of 'economic recovery'.

While 'working alongside business' , Labour would be imposing austerity measures on the rest of us. Cunliffe has previously described this as Labour 'not shirking its responsibilities'.

While Cunliffe, albeit in evasive code, talks like an attack dog for the rich and powerful, Labourites on Labour aligned blogs like The Standard, bleat on about such things as National's welfare cuts, the growing poverty levels and attacks on working conditions. But they won't leave the safety of the 'mainstream' to fight them.

All they seem capable of doing these days is to write anti-John Key rants. But they remain silent on Labour's continued commitment to the 'free market'. It's empty rhetoric and moral posturing.

Unlike some commentators I'm not angry or even disappointed with Phil Goff, I never expected anything from him in the first place and I haven't been wrong.

I haven't voted Labour since 1984. Since then all Labour has done is to ensure the continued rule of the wealthy and privileged.

A Labour supporter of my acquaintance (they do still exist) recently told me that Labour may have its 'flaws' (his words) but a Labour government would be at least be better than having another three years of John key. Yes, the 'lesser evil' argument is brought out of the closet for another good airing.

One of the many problems with this tired argument is that Labour just further degenerates as time rolls by. There doesn't seem to be a line that cannot be crossed, no fortress that cannot be surrendered.

I have read much about the dangers of a second term National Government but I say that the clear and present danger is that the working class in New Zealand has been weakened by a useless Labour Party and its equally useless allies in the union bureaucracy. They are not part of the solution - they are part of the problem.

I say that anyone who claims to be an ally of the working class should have walked out on the Labour Party years ago. Those who still remain are irrelevant to the development of progressive politics in this country. They are lackeys of the status quo.

There will be a lot of propaganda over the coming months about the importance of voting and 'having on our say'. Nonsense. Big business has already won the election.

The only real change in our time will come from people who insist on thinking for themselves and who reject the party-mindedness of Parliament.


While you wouldn't know it from the absence of coverage in the mainstream media, the occupation of Wall Street is continuing into its second week.... and the arrests have begun.

On Saturday approximately 80 Occupy Wall Street demonstrators were arrested. The arrests occurred when the protestors, who are camped out near the New York Stock Exchange, marched through Lower Manhattan.

The police claim the arrests were mostly for blocking traffic but the demonstrators say that the police were 'exceedingly violent'. Some of the arrests were videoed and have been posted online.

Occupy Wall Street reported at least one protestor was arrested for taking photographs. An NYPD spokesman said police were not targeting those with cameras.

Meanwhile documentary maker Michael Moore has slammed the corporate media for failing to report on the continuing demonstration, commenting that Occupy Wall Street was the beginning of a new political movement in the United States.


Despite widespread opposition from the good people of Christchurch, Councillor Sue Wells still expects the ratepayer to pay for her trip to Europe.

There is widespread public opposition to Councillor Sue Wells proposed German wine junket in October. The Christchurch Mail, a suburban freebie, this week published two pages worth of letters on the subject. Only two of those letters supported the loyal Sideshow Bob supporter having a European vacation on the Christchurch ratepayer.

Geraldine Watson of Avonhead, whose house is to be demolished, wrote;

'I left my home on September 4. Why am I paying a $110 a month in rates? Apparently to fund this individuals's luxury holiday in Germany. How nice. Actually I think this mayor and this council have dome very little for Christchurch ratepayers. Tell her to fund her own luxury holiday.'

Wrote John Samson; 'Their never-ending sense of entitlement to ratepayers' hard earned dollars disgusts me. Please book a one way ticket Sue Wells and take the rest of the city council rabble with you.'

Of the 24 letters published only two agreed that the ratepayer should pay for Wells wine holiday.

During the 2010 council election campaign, Wells repeatedly declared that it was important to be 'accountable' and to listen to what the local community was saying.

But she wasn't listening to the local community when she supported the $17 million bailout of failed property developer Dave Henderson and she isn't listening to the local community now. Despite being told by the good people of Christchurch that should pay for her own wine junket, she still intends to sponge off the embattled Christchurch ratepayer.

Yes, Sue Wells is always up for a bit of double-dipping and a few perks at the expense of Christchurch ratepayers. Who cares that half the city has been flattened by an earthquake?

Sue Wells is not slow to ride 'the gravy train' and she's also not slow to moralise about the behaviour of other people.

On her tediously self-important blog The New Canterbury Tales, Wells has a lot to say about the recent British riots. And its ugly reactionary stuff indeed . Of the rioters she sneers:

'You who are striking down your cities are nasty little neanderthalic two bit muppets with too much time on your hands and pathetic hate in your hearts, the waste products of drugs, laziness and chronic dependency. You don’t have it in you to build. You only have it in you to destroy.'

The double-dipping Wells goes on to lecture in the 'best' tradition of Margaret Thatcher::

'When I visited your country a couple of years ago I came home horrified at what I’d seen. I was appalled at your hands-out culture, the level of your public subsidies for housing and transport and education for people eligible for it simply by spawning little urchins and refusing to create themselves a constructive future.'

She was, the reader will note, not 'appalled' by the increasing levels of poverty and joblessness in Britain. Nor, it seems, was she 'appalled' by the British Government bailing out the bankers and the finance houses.

In the conceited and patronising world of Sue Wells, the people have no right to a home, but the hedge fund managers have a right to the bailout.

Wells thinks that its just dandy that the poor go homeless and the wealthy get bailouts - and its just dandy that the good people of Christchurch pay for her wine junket as well.

She's a stupid and arrogant woman and, worryingly, a stupid and arrogant woman who harbours mayoral ambitions. She must be stopped.


Alyona talks Wall Street on The Alyona Show. (RT. Sky 96). The show screens in New Zealand at 3pm, Tue-Sat.


We must recognize that we can't solve our problems now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power.... a radical restructuring of the architecture of American society.
-- Martin Luther King, Jr

Depending on who you believe, the Occupy Wall Street demonstration has numbered as little as 700 protesters (Bloomberg) or as high as 5000 protesters (The Guardian). But, whatever the true number, the organisers did not get the 20,000 protesters they were hoping for.

A demonstration of 20,000 was always going to be a big ask though. Unlike events in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, Occupy Wall Street isn't being propelled along by a countrywide democratic revolution.

The groups behind Occupy Wall Street, like Adbusters magazine (which floated the initial idea) have had to act from 'scratch' in a country where the development of progressive politics has been strangled by the two political wings of American capitalism, the Democrats and the Republicans.

This is something we certainly can identify with in New Zealand where the general election result has already been decided - Neoliberalism wins.

The demonstrators have also had to contend with, not unexpectedly, a media blackout. Occupy Wall Street has been largely ignored by the corporate media - the very same corporate media who have been all over the right wing Tea Party.

It has been left to small independent news outlets to provide coverage of the Wall Street action. Here in New Zealand I have seen some decent coverage on The Alyona Show (RT, Sky 96)

But the protesters are determined, imaginative and, simply by being there, are a visible rejection of capitalist politics. It is a message not simply being transmitted to America but around the world as well. It is a message that says that 'business as usual' has led to a situation where 43 million Americans are now living below the poverty line and that cannot be tolerated.

What we are seeing here is the renewal of class consciousness in the United States. Indeed this is something that Michael Bloomberg observed last week. The New York mayor warned his fellow capitalists:

“You have a lot of kids graduating college, can’t find jobs, that’s what happened in Cairo. That’s what happened in Madrid. You don’t want those kind of riots here.”

The protest is now into its third day and six people were arrested on Monday, They were reportedly arrested on the grounds that it is unlawful for two or more individuals to wear masks in a public place.

In the towers above the protesters live the men and women who have helped wipe out the American economy and not one of them has been arrested for their crimes...


Plunder is a hard-hitting documentary that will never be screened by TVNZ or TV3

Sunday, TVNZ's 'flagship' current affairs show, decided that it was of crucial importance to do a story on an American ballet dancer this week. Fortunately RT (Sky 96) screened something a lot more relevant over the weekend and that was the excellent 2009 documentary Plunder: The Crime of Our Time.

In this thoughtful and, yes, entertaining documentary, Emmy-award winning director Danny Schechter interviews bankers, economists, activists and homeowners to lay stark the fraud and corruption that lies at the heart of Wall Street and at the heart of global capitalism.

He lays bare how the denizens of Wall Street have brought the American and global economies to its knees and, in the process, destroyed jobs, lives, communities.

As one website puts it: How do you steal $196 trillion and get away with it? Schechter explains how.

This week our local media thought it was a 'sexy' enough story to devote some coverage to the rogue trader who has allegedly lost UBS over $1.3 billion. But where have been the stories about the Wall Street crooks who have not gone to jail for their crimes? Where are the stories of Wall Street villians walking through the revolving doors and ending up with a brand new job with the Obama administration?

Schechter fires a number of salvos at the corporate media which, he says, has simply become Wall Street's tame poodle. It has been left to a small number of independent journalists, bloggers and activists to tell the stories that the mainstream media won't.

I'm glad that RT has the journalistic integrity to screen documentaries like this but, once again, it highlights what a parlous state our local media is in. What little news and current affairs there is on both TVNZ and TV3 is largely dumbed down infotainment.



Sideshow Bob is hypocrite of the week...

Chrissie Williams was one of the more accomplished Christchurch City councillors but this week she quit her post and took a number of swipes at Mayor Sideshow Bob before she went

Her criticisms of Sideshow will be familiar with anyone who have taken any kind of interest in Sideshow's slimy political career.

When it looked like he was going to be swept out of the mayoral office by rival Jim Anderton, Sideshow suddenly claimed he had taken on board the criticisms directed at him by the good people of Christchurch. Bob promised to be more 'accountable' and 'transparent'.

But once he was safely ensconced in the mayoral office again, Bob quickly returned to his secretive and undemocratic ways.

Williams this week labelled the Sideshow Bob -led council 'dysfunctional'.

She also didn't surprise anyone with her criticism that Sideshow Bob favoured his supporters on council and kept information back from the Labour aligned councillors. She said that Parker had divided the council into 'A' and 'B' teams.

She also made some veiled references to Bob's loyal right hand man, Tony Marryatt, commenting that councillors were deliberately kept 'out of the loop' on many issues.

In response, Sideshow Bob has laughingly claimed that Williams' criticism of his leadership 'came out of politics' and went on to say that some councillors chose to act 'as if they were part of a parliamentary process" rather than in the best interests of the city'.

Sideshow Bob's hypocrisy is breathtaking.

This is the guy who pretended he was 'politically independent' but when he was staring at a massive mayoral election defeat at the hands of Jim Anderton, he called on help from his old chum, John Key. The Prime Minister promptly turned up at a fundraising event.

This is the guy who sneaks into National Party events via the backdoor.

And this is the same Sideshow Bob who has had nothing to say about the disgraceful treatment that many people living in damaged homes have received from the Minister of Earthquake Recovery, Gerry Brownlie.

Rather than act in the best interests of the city, Sideshow Bob has continued to toady up to Brownlie. It's as if Bob thinks he's 'part of a parliamentary process'.



Councillor Sue Wells wants Christchurch ratepayers to pay for her trip to a wine conference in Germany. She should pay for it herself.

Many people are doing it hard in quake-devastated Christchurch which makes it all the more remarkable that Councillor Sue Wells thinks its entirely appropriate to have the under-pressure Christchurch ratepayer pay her bill to attend a wine conference in Europe.

Sue Wells, a loyal Sideshow Bob supporter, thinks this is more important than doing the actual job she gets paid a lot of money to do. If all goes to plan she's off to a five day wine conference in Mainz, Germany in October. The good people of Christchurch, whether they like it or not, will be paying her travel expenses which could be as much as $5000.

Wells is the outgoing president of something called the Great Wine Capital Network . She claims that attending the conference is 'good use of ratepayers money' because its an 'opportunity to get across the message that Christchurch is open for business.'

This is the kind of flannel we've come to expect from Wells. She was, after all, the councillor that said that spending $17 million on five properties owned by the now-bankrupted David Henderson was 'a very good deal'.

Wells is also one of the four councillors who, despite on salary of some $90,000, is also picking up an additional $35,000 a year for being a director of Christchurch City Holdings Ltd (CCHL).

It's estimated that CCHL work - basically attending meetings and reading a few papers - takes no more than 12-15 hours a month. which is about four hours a week. And for that four hours Sue Wells pockets an additional $670 a week.

Jim Anderton had plans to derail the CCHL gravy train and the double dipping but unfortunately he lost the mayoral election last year to an earthquake and a orange safety jacket.

What is all the more galling about double dipper Wells is that she is one of the councillors who has urged economic restraint on everyone else. She, for example, supported cuts to community funding - while defending Sideshow Bob blowing some $5 million on the naming rights to the Ellerslie Garden Show,

Wells says that the wine conference will be 'full on' . 'It's a lot harder than it seems,' she told the Christchurch Mail.

Yes, it'll be very hard work attending the Gala Dinner. The conference website informs us:

The curtain is set to rise for the grand “Best-of Gala” in the Ducal Palace in Mainz: sparkling wine reception with aperitifs in the vaulted hall, selected premium wines from Rheinhessen, an exclusive buffet menu including fine dessert specialities, prepared by the Favorite hotel star chef Tim Meierhans, and a varied evening programe provide the stimulating setting for the International Best of Wine Tourism Awards 2012.

I'm sure it'll also be very arduous attending the wine tasting:

As part of the International Wine Tasting, more than 100 different wines from Rheinhessen and all over the world will be offered for tasting and comparison; the tasting ticket also includes light snacks.

If Sue Wells wants to go on an overseas jaunt she should simply pay for it herself and stop pretending that its somehow beneficial for a city that has got bigger things to be concerned about than wine drinking.



No hassles or delays for the General Secretary of the National Distribution Union at the opening of the Rugby World Cup! Robert Reid was in the VIP lounge with several government ministers...

I commented last week that I hoped the Rugby World Cup would blow up in John Key's smiling face, never really expecting that it would.

But it has! Before the first game even began a debacle was unfolding in Auckland that has had the Government running for cover and blaming everyone else ( especially Auckland mayor, Len Brown) for the PR disaster.

We could be in for even more humiliation for the Government now that it has 'stepped in' to rescue the RWC from the shambles that it helped to create in the first place. With Murray McCully in charge, anything is possible!

One person who avoided all the indignities that the plebs faced was the General Secretary of the National Distribution Union (NDU), Robert Reid.

Reid was in the VIP lounge hobnobbing with government ministers.

In fact he came to the defence of one of the ministers accused of boorish behaviour by an Australian paper.

Reid has described Maurice Williamson's behaviour as 'colourful but not offensive'. Whatever this means.

Robert Reid's behaviour though has definitely been offensive. As the useless head of the NDU he has consistently failed to defend the interests of his members.

Over the last couple of years I've written several reports about Reid's less than impressive behaviour.

In 2009 for example he failed to defend the interests of his members when the Line 7 clothing manufacturer went belly-up. Reid's only response was to throw up his hands in despair.

'I'm worried for the future of the Line 7 workers' he wailed.

When 87 workers lost their jobs at the Pacific Brands clothing manufacturer in March of 2009 , Reid's response was to shrug his shoulders and cry a few crocodile tears.

The NDU press release was headed "Another day, another closure: Pacific Brand's NZ workers get the bad news.'

Reid even had the cheek to say that it was 'a relief' that a final announcement had been made on the closure of Pacific Brands.

No campaign was mounted to defend the threatened jobs. Reid's only concern was that "Pacific Brands workers redundancy payments are safe if closure and redundancy is the final decision".

When the Canterbury clothing manufacturer Lane Walker Rudkin went bust with the loss of over 200 jobs, the pathetic response of the NDU was to organise a few cake stalls to raise a 'fighting fund.' This lasted a mere few weeks.

Reid became the national secretary of the NDU in August 2009.

On the Labour-aligned blog The Standard, 'Eddie' approvingly wrote:

'Robert Reid’s a solid unionist with more than thirty-five years in the movement. The transition should be pretty seamless, Reid’s had a very hands-on leadership role in the union over the last couple of years and he’s highly regarded in the movement. A natural choice for the position really.'

'Eddie' was Jenny Michie who was, at the time , the Communications Manager for the Labour Party. She is now working for the Public Service Association.

Now, in 2011, here we have Reid living it up in the VIP Lounge at Eden Park and coming to the defence of government ministers...


September 11 also marks the day when, in 1973, a US backed coup overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. While 9/11 was painful, Trish Kahle writes it should have also come as no surprise given the United States long history of interfering in the affairs of other countries.

This is the obligatory 9/11 post. Obligatory not because everyone else seems to do them, but because I keep hearing that quote–”a time comes when silence is betrayal”–playing over and over again in my head.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that and funnily enough I spent my afternoon today once again at the International (Deeply Flawed) Museum of Civil Rights (see my rant about my last visit here. One of my many criticisms of the museum is of its implicit depiction of interventionist policies as a sort of continuation of the Civil Rights movement. The final exhibit, for example, contains a UN Peacekeeper helmet next to a picture of a demonstration in Kosovo. Both times I’ve been in the museum, the staff have tried to argue that US intervention and subsequent UN occupation of Kosovo as extensions of the gains won by Black activists in the United States during the 1960s. This is a flat-out, unambiguous lie. Interventionist policies are tools of imperialism and are a part of the oppression, not a part of the solution.

And what a day it is to talk about US imperialist policies.

The revisionist history of September 11, 2001 portrays the attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon as a beginning–more specifically–the beginning of the so-called US war on terror. In reality, the September 11 attacks are a result, not a starting point. The nearly endless TV commentator drones talk about how 9/11 “blew everyone away” completely overlook the facts. 9/11, as painful as it was for the families and friends of people who died, should have surprised no one considering the long US history of policies that lead to terrorism. As one of my friends on Facebook put it, “Let’s be real, the US military has been committing tons of 9/11s all around the world for decades. If you want to end terrorism, you should stop committing it.” I couldn’t put it better myself.

Unfortunately, the US is not going to stop committing massive acts of terrorism of its own accord. History has shown us that time and time again, that wherever corporate profits or global influence is threatened the US will show up, red rockets glaring and bombs bursting in air, to make sure democracy doesn’t get in the way of a new oil pipeline, or banana growing, or copper mining. (Did you know: September 11 is also a big day for the US in Chile. September 11, 1973 is when a US backed coup forcibly removed popularly-elected reformer Salvador Allende from power and replaced him with the fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet.)

This year, in October, is also the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan. A ten year war for profit that has expanded into several other wars (that we know about) worldwide. In the process, people around the world have been stripped of their human rights in varying capacities, the US has committed war crime upon war crime, and calls for self-determination are met with derisive mocking from policy makers.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of this shit. To quote Fannie Lou Hamer, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Ten years of war. Ten years of slaughter, constant jingoism, lost futures, violated rights, racism and Islamophobia, wanton destruction, shameless lies, war profiteering, night-time raids, budget cuts and privatisation, no-bid contracting, war crimes and violations of almost any international law you can think of. To be silent now is to betray the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Palestine. To be silent now is a betrayal to ourselves.

You see, there is something we can do besides being cynical. We can organize. We can fight back.

Look back to Vietnam. The war in Vietnam didn’t end because the country was “tired”–it ended because the country was on the verge of total explosion. As a general rule, things in the universe don’t spontaneously combust and when that does happen, it can be difficult to control. Laying fuse for a well placed set of dynamite, on the other hand, can be a long and arduous process, but the spark that sets of the bang–well that can really accomplish something. We need to mobilize this fall against the war in Afghanistan and all imperialist policies. We need to fight to end this war now. I am only 23 years old. I have not lived in a world at peace. The reason the world has never been at peace in my lifetime is not because of terrorists. My world has never been at peace because it is at odds with capitalism. Eventually, to end the wars once and for all, we are going to need to abolish capitalism, but the way forward is a movement, one that will help radicalize people and broaden their political understanding beyond capitalist pseudo-two-party-politics.

Their profit wars are destroying our world, our connection with each other, our hope for a future. We can’t let them take it. Fight back, fight hard, and don’t stop until we win. Find an action near you, organize one yourself, or if you can, get to the national rally. We are ordinary people, but organized, we are capable of extraordinary change.

This column was first published on I Can't Believe We Still Have To Protest This Shit


It doesn't matter who we vote for, we'll still end up with another neoliberal government.

I was in the supermarket a couple of days ago and in the magazine shelves I stumbled upon North and South magazine. It contained an interview with Labour leader Phil Goff. I scanned it but that's all. I'm won't be looking for the magazine in the library. I'm not interested in reading a profile of yet another neoliberal politician, even if he is the leader of the Labour Party. Of what relevance is it for progressive politics that Phil likes motorbikes?

From where I'm sitting all this article does is provide more pasture for our contented and complacent mainstream journos to chew on while they studiously avoid writing or saying anything that might upset the neoliberal 'consensus'.

What the corporate media won't talk about is the fact that New Zealanders will have no choice at at the general election in November. It doesn't matter who they vote for they are going to get another dose of failed neoliberalism.

The only exception is the Mana Party but its not going to be invited to form a government anytime soon.

The likes of TV3's Duncan Garner and TV1's Guyon Espiner though will behave as if we're living in a real democracy and that our vote is important. I say that all you will be voting for is another three years of neoliberal servitude and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

But what does this mean for those of us who support left wing and progressive politics in this country?

There still some clowns pushing the Labour Party as somehow 'progressive' but for those of us who aren't right wing social democrats, the reality is that there is very little difference between National and Labour.

In fact in some ways Goff and cohorts are worse. That's because they pretend to be progressive , plead support for 'core Labour values' and profess to be the voice of working class concerns. But when they are in government, they actually mock the 'core Labour values' they profess to support.

You don't have to take my word of it - just look at what they did when they were power last time round. Many of those villains are still sitting on Labour's front bench today.

The lack of any left wing leadership in this country has been compounded by a neutered trade union leadership that has actively cooperated with the cementing in of neoliberal policies. The present CTU leader, Helen Kelly, is one of the worst union 'leaders' we have ever had - and there have been a few.

Helen Kelly and her fellow union bureaucrats have put up zero resistance and watched the steady impoverishment of a dispossessed working class and a beleaguered middle class.

And Kelly has the gall to stand up at the recent Labour Party conference and declare that Labour has the interests of working people at heart!

Just this morning I was reading that 2400 public service jobs has been axed in the past three years. Another 1000 more jobs are set to be axed over the coming two years.

But there has been absolutely no resistance from the PSA leadership. Nothing. The rank and file should be asking why these people should continue to hold down extremely well paid union positions when they have done so little to defend the interests of the very people who pay their salaries.

Is there an answer to the left's predicament ? My politics are well known and I think the 'Modern Rome' that is western capitalism generally needs the message of Marxism.

But that isn't about to happen anytime soon.

Perhaps it boils down to determined protests that may not have any other end goal except to restate that, hell no, we're not going to acquiesce to the charade of parliamentary politics. We want real change that benefits ordinary people and we intend to take our country back from the wealthy and the corporations.

Perhaps a determined refusal to accept and obey the neoliberal consensus is all we've got right now. Anything else means becoming part of the charade that is New Zealand's 'democracy'.



Tony Marryatt has been predictably reappointed the CEO of the Christchurch City Council.

No one will be surprised that the unpopular Tony Marryatt has been reappointed CEO of the Christchurch City Council.

He isn't popular with his own council workers and he isn't popular in the wider Christchurch community but his mates on council chose to ignore all of this and reappointed him.

But it just goes to illustrate that in the higher echelons of the Christchurch City Council, cronyism continues to prevail.

Support for Marryatt came from Jamie Gough, Barry Corbett, Ngaire Button, Aaron Keown, Claudia Reid, Sue Wells, Sally Buck and Chrissie Williams.

Glenn Livingstone, Jimmy Chen, Yani Johanson and Tim Carter voted against Marryatt and Helen Broughton abstained.

Not exactly a vote of confidence in 'Tony' was it?


John Key and his chums were in Christchurch this week.

Apparently we citizens of Christchurch were supposed to feel positive and 'uplifted' just because Johnny Key and his cabinet cronies met in the quake-hit city this week. But the sight of police swarming all around the Copthorne Hotel didn't exactly help to encourage that 'warm and cosy glow' that Key was aiming for.

This meeting was an attempt to suggest that things are returning to normal which is far from the truth.

There were about a hundred protesters outside the Copthorne, including people from Unite Union, Action for Christchurch East. the National Distribution Union and the Maritime Union.

Sideshow Bob also showed up for a bit of a chat with his fellow Nats. Bob, as everyone knows, is doing a very good job toeing the government line and he will be suitably honoured in the New Years Honours list for his loyalty and general toadying.

For a first hand report of the protest go here.


Is America ready for a 'Tahrir moment'?

The occupation of Wall Street by the people on September 17 is an exciting and inspiring prospect. The idea of some 20,000 people descending on lower Manhattan and setting up camp for several months would have barely been imaginable just a few short months ago. But that was before the 'Arab Spring' and Tahrir Square. The organisers say its time for a 'Tahrir moment' in the United States.

This is movement that embraces a diverse range of political views but if there is one fundamental message that people like us can take it is this; the machinery of gradual reform is irretrievably broken and simply voting for a set of politicians every few years will only ensure that nothing changes.

As we in New Zealand head to a general election and we are harassed by the politicians we have come to loathe, Occupy Wall Street tells us that the traditional avenue of parliamentary politics has been corrupted by powerful interests. It doesn't matter who we vote for - the wealthy and the powerful always win.

Certainly the Occupy Wall Street movement is striking at the right time. Not only is the American economy a shambolic mess, President Barack Obama - the man who offered 'hope' and promised 'change' - has proven to be yet another politician of the system. Which is what we socialists always said he would turn out to be.

While Obama has bent over backwards to bail out the crooks of Wall Street, for ordinary folk its been nothing but job losses, house foreclosures, growing poverty.

Its not surprising then that Obama's popularity is now plunging to the levels that George W. Bush used to 'enjoy'.

How successful will the occupation be?

It's hard to judge from where I'm sitting but in New York things can gather momentum very quickly. Even so an occupation has never been attempted before and while the American corporate media have studiously avoided talking about Occupy Wall Street, the authorities have begun to move.

Last week the Department of Homeland Security issued an unusual bulletin warning about the 'planned activities' of hacking collective Anonymous in the coming weeks, including activities on September 17.

A heavy police presence is certain and we will have to wait and see whether it tries to prevent the establishment of a camp and whether the camp will continue beyond the immediate weekend.

But there is a lot of anger within American society and it is anger that has yet to find its political voice. Occupy Wall Street may be that voice. As one activist has said:

'... ordinary people must stand up for their rights against the criminals in Wall Street who have destroyed the world's economy and plunged the working people into poverty. While innocent people are put out of business these criminals are still rich and employed and will never ever have to face justice because they have friends in high places.'

Perhaps the sleeping giant that is the American working class is about to stir. If that does happen it will have far reaching - and liberating - consequences all around the world.


Yawn, its the Rugby World Cup...

I caught the Prime Minister on TV3's breakfast news show this morning. Clearly he had been thumbing through his Boy's Own Bumper Book of Sporting Cliches. He was babbling enthusiastically about the Rugby World. 'There's a real excitement growing in Auckland,' he enthused.

Yawn. Another piece of Government PR masquerading as news. And there's only so many sporting cliches I can handle at any one time so I flicked over to RT (Sky 96) just in case Johnny started talking about 'the fever rising'.

Of course little Johnny is speaking as a man who's worth over $50 million, has a mansion in Remuera and a holiday home in Hawaii. He doesn't have the everyday concerns of those struggling to pay the bills.He doesn't have the everyday concerns of beneficiaries being harassed by the attack dogs from Work and Income. Or, as is the case In Christchurch, he doesn't have the everyday concerns of quake victims who have lost homes and jobs and have been effectively abandoned to the 'free market'.

He also isn't one of the homeless people in Auckland presently being quietly 'escorted' out of sight of the television cameras. There's no poverty in New Zealand, no sir!

Key can afford to have 'a buzz of excitement'. For many of us though life in neoliberal New Zealand continues to be an excitement-free, unrelenting struggle.

And that's the main reason why I'm not interested in the World Cup; because it allows the Government, with the assistance of an infantile and banal media, to divert attention from the protracted economic and political crisis to an over-hyped exercise in testerone-fuelled nationalistic tubthumping that, furthermore, won't deliver the economic benefits that the Government claimed it would.

So its 'bread and circuses' time, via a game that long ago was corporatised and 'branded' and turned into a media vehicle for product placement.

Commodified nationalism. I just hope it all blows up in John Key's face.



Tony Marryatt will be reappointed the CEO of the Christchurch City Council by the end of this week

Unfortunately Tony Marryatt, the present Christchurch City Council CEO, will now keep his job and the 'Bob and Tony Show' will continue on its merry way.

That's because on Friday the High Court gave Christchurch City councillor Aaron Keown its approval to vote on the appointment of a new council chief executive.

This is in despite of Keown publicly declaring his loyalty to 'Tony'.

Among other things, he wrote a letter to The Press in which he praised Marryatt's performance. And in an interview on local radio he again declared his support for the less-than-popular Marryatt, stating that he preferred that 'Tony' kept his $480,000 a year job.

Despite such behaviour Judge Fogarty thought that it not been 'proved' that Keown had predetermined the outcome of the appointment process.

Keown's vote will now ensure that Marryatt keeps his job although he would like us all to believe that he hasn't already made his mind up.

"My mind is still open, and I will go through the process, hand on heart, looking for the best candidate." he has said. He must think we're all stupid.

There is only one other candidate and he hasn't a snowballs chance in hell in getting the job.


'...groping people’s genitals does not make flying safer. Neither does subjecting them to radiation, or pat downs, or strip searches.' Trish Kahle looks at the denial of civil liberties in post 9.11 America and why getting those liberties back will be an uphill battle.

I’ve been dreading the upcoming 10 year mark since September 11 for some time now, completely certain that the Onion’s spoof article, “DHS Announces Racial Profiling Free-For-All This September 11” would prove to be far too close to the truth for comfort.

I commiserated with a friend about ridiculous airport experiences last week, and recounted how when I was in O’Hare airport over the 4th of July this year, I watched as unit of TSA officers marched through the airport in their dress uniforms, solemnly holding rifles and an American flag while seemingly everyone but me clapped and cheered for them.

It was all I could do to keep in a sarcastic, “Whoopee, I’m so glad you groped my genitals twenty minutes ago. That’s how we make the world safe for democracy!”

Because among the many other things people have collectively forgotten (in no small part due to an enormous propaganda campaign on the part of the United States government) is that 9.11 wasn’t an anomaly event. It wasn’t the first time someone had hijacked a plane, attacked the World Trade Center, or set eyes on the Pentagon.

Acts of “terrorism”–a tricky word I don’t like using because it has no real definition–have been happening for a long time. And just like the 9.11 attacks were used to justify the now decade-old so-called War on Terror, “terrorist” attacks in the past were also used to justify imperialist, racist policies that flagrantly violated human rights (even though it was usually imperialist, racist policies that flagrantly violated human rights that prompted the attacks, directly or indirectly, in the first place).

No, 9.11 wasn’t the first time someone hijacked a plane. And just because it hasn’t happened again since 2001 doesn’t mean that the consistent stripping of our civil liberties and Constitutional rights has made us safer. Frankly, people just don’t hijack planes all that often. “Terrorists” after all, make up the most incredibly miniscule part of the world’s population, and they have nowhere near the resources of the real terrorists, the United States government.

Sure, people are found trying to get onto planes with illicit things all the time. Of course, it probably happens a lot more now since 4 ounces of shampoo has been classified as a potential WMD.

There have even been cases like the so-called “pants bomber” of Christmas 2009. But these are blown out of all proportion by the media. It’s not that botched attacks never happened before, but they weren’t so widely reported, or the people weren’t caught. Either way, it wasn’t used as an excuse for the TSA to stick their fingers in my vagina.


Because groping people’s genitals does not make flying safer. Neither does subjecting them to radiation, or pat downs, or strip searches. And that’s not to say anything of what happens to our Arab and Muslim brothers and sisters when they fly and are treated like second-class citizens who are considered guilty even when they are obviously innocent.

The whole debacle with the body scanners was portrayed in the media as an issue that consumers had with a product, but that was only covering the story in way attempted to depoliticize it. What it was really about was people reaching a tipping point.

The fear mongering that followed 9.11 encouraged people to give up their civil liberties in the name of security. Some did it willingly, others grudgingly. Everyone else faced harassment from the TSA and FBI and who knows what else. There was no movement strong enough to counter the attack, and the legal strategy failed miserably as the courts again and again ruled against human rights. By and large though, all the immediate post 9.11 acts were passed through by exploiting people’s fear–the very fear that had been cultivated through racism and sensationalism in the media.

10 years have passed now. The story’s a lot different. It’s increasingly difficult to convince people that “terrorists are out to get them”–even with the overt racism of the Tea Party and rampant Islamophobia. And the infractions into people’s civil liberties have not tapered off. No. They’ve gotten worse as searches become more invasive and rules for flying more strict. The body scanner debate showed that people have had enough. Flying in the United States is no longer a mode of transportation. It’s a violation of human dignity.

Getting our civil liberties back now presents an uphill battle, particularly when the courts have shown again and again that they will side with the state on these matters.

However, people’s anger over the body scanners showed just how much power we actually have to control which of our rights are taken away. Just when the TSA seemed all powerful, they were forced to reconsider the immplementation of the scanners, and while the program was not canceled entirely, it was scaled back and made slightly less invasive.

Imagine what we could have done if we were organized!

Clearly, this is the way to fight the infractions against our rights. The civil liberties situation is not the “reality of a post 9.11 world” despite what Homeland Security would have us think. Neither is the administration-supported discrimination against Arabs and Muslims.

Man, I can’t wait for the reality of a post-racist, post-capitalist world.

This article was first published on I Can't Believe We Still Have to Protest This Shit.



In my column 'Time for Real Change' I commented that TV3 Political Editor Duncan Garner was a former speechwriter for John Key.

Mr Garner says that this is inaccurate and I therefore apologise for my error and I retract that statement.


When our leaders can no longer be trusted, it becomes the duty of the people to fight for social justice. The Arab Spring tactic has proven itself effective in forcing governments to bow to the will of the people. We believe this tactic can also work in America - Occupy Wall Street.

What's special about Saturday September 17?

On September 17 Wall Street will be invaded.

On September 17 thousands of people will descend on lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for several months.

Say the organisers: 'Like our brothers and sisters in Egypt, Greece, Spain, and Iceland, we plan to use the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic of mass occupation to restore democracy in America. We also encourage the use of nonviolence to achieve our ends and maximize the safety of all participants.'

As well, simultaneous occupations of financial districts are now being planned in Madrid, Milan, London, Paris and San Francisco.

Occupy Wall Street
is an umbrella organisation, embracing many diverse organisations. The one thing they all share however, say the organisers, is that they '...are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.'

The fight is about to be taken to the heart of American and global capitalism...


New Zealand needs an 'Arab Spring'.

I think I might have been guilty of concentrating on the devastating economic impact of neoliberalism on the New Zealand working class and New Zealand society generally.

I have had less to say on the damage that neoliberalism has done to the traditional democratic process in this country. Perhaps its because we are only few months from a general election that I am acutely aware that we are no longer living in a legitimate democracy. What we have is a system, like in the United States, where business interests always prevail and always win.

The fourth Labour Government set in motion a process that not only smashed the Keynesian-inspired 'Fortress New Zealand' but also led to a Parliament where all the parties adhere to the creed of neoliberalism. The notable exception is the Mana Party.

Once the Green Party would have been flying the flag for progressive interests but they have moved so far to the right they now openly talk about making deals with the National Party - and don't feel embarrassed about it. Russel Norman, a former socialist, believes in something called 'market environmentalism'. His views have been slammed in progressive environmental circles both here and overseas but our corporate media have chosen to conveniently ignore these criticisms.

In November we proles will be given a choice of neoliberal governments - one that is led by National or one that is led by Labour. This will be unpalatable to many of us. Some of us will vote for the Mana Party maybe and many of us won't vote at all. That folks, is Kiwi democracy in action in 2011. Its nothing more than a charade.

In the last few days I've read a few opinions bemoaning the parlous state of the Labour Party and that we're even in danger of becoming a one party state. I'm sorry, we're already there. We have seen the convergence of New Zealand parliamentary politics into two broadly identical factions. Any differences, as I've said before, are one of emphasis and not of substance.

But, of course, it suits the corporate media to peddle the fiction of the 'centre right' National Party versus a ''centre left' Labour Party. The inane babble about leadership challenges and parliamentary argy=bargy merely serves to conceal the reality that we are living in a fake democracy.

The corporate media does its bit to maintain this charade. Indeed when a party arrives that doesn't toe the neoliberal line it gets labelled 'communistic' - which is how TV1's Guyon Espiner described Mana about a week ago. Last time I looked I didn't see Mana advocating the socialisation of the means of production.

Espiner is such a corporate flunkey that he actually feels threatened by mild liberal left policies. But he's no worse than his colleague on TV3. Duncan Garner's antipathy for anything that isn't 'free market' is well known.

The corporate media wants us to believe that there are real differences between National and Labour based on political principles and traditions. But what we are seeing played out are the scuffles of grubby neoliberal politicians hoping to keep their bloated salaries for the next three years.

Over the coming months the same old 'expert commentators' will be in the media talking up the general election as if it mattered. They will be pontificating on opinion polls and appraising election candidates. But at the end of all the talk, the cosy jokes, the studio banter - absolutely nothing will have changed.

We have witnessed the beginnings of real democratic change in the Middle East and we have all welcomed the 'Arab Spring'.

We should draw inspiration from the 'Arab Spring' and demand real democratic change in this country as well. Let's bring an end to the politics of Tweedledee and Tweedledum.


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