Monday, April 10, 2006

Auckland in Top 10 Places to Live

Auckland has placed fifth in an international survey (Mercer Human Resource Consulting in the UK) on places to live.

Criteria included personal safety, the environment and access to health, education, transport and other public services.

I guess transport has a low weighting!

Zurich is the top-rated city and Baghdad is the worst. Second-best is Geneva, with Vancouver third.

Wellington, performed well going from 14th to 12th place. Elsewhere in the Asia Pacific cities surveyed Sydney was ranked in ninth place.
Auditor-General Called in to Housing NZ

Update: TVNZ reports Housing Minister Chris Carter has gone over the heads of his Board at Housing NZ and called in the Auditor-General. Earlier today the auditing was to be done by multi-national firm Ernst and Young.

If the audit is restricted (as reported) to issues surrounding the gagging order agreed by HNZ with a contractor then the public is disserved.

As important is for the investigation to appraise and review all the matters leading up to a gagging order even being considered. What malpractice, misfeasance or malfeasance was HNZ worried the contractor might disclose?

Clark's regime are past masters at calling publicly for an investigation - which never sees the light of day. Remember the Taito Philip Field investigation? I have asked for an independent investiogation and all will be revealed in 10 days was the assurance from Miss Clark. 24 weeks or so later we are none the wiser.

Believe nothing with this lot. Remember Chris Carter is a PM favourite - he will be doing her bidding.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Carter Next Minister with a Scandal

Reports of high level cover-ups at Housing New Zealand will be a headache for Minister Chris Carter.

Apparently senior management has mis-represented progress with budgets and rearranged payments to different accounting periods. See here.

This smells of a Government agency desperately trying to satisfy their Minister - without the resources needed. Given no individual profited - second thoughts - may be it meant they made their performance targets/bonus.

Carter should spend more time in Wellington working with his agencies not roaming around saving sharks and snails and hanging with his buddy.
Plans Advancing to Attack Iran

Columns discussing US options to dismantle the Iranian nuke campaign and effect regime change have popped up here and here.

Significantly the planning seems to be heading towards using tactical nuclear weapons as the only guarantee of shutting the Iranian facilities. The option is discussed because the West knows the determination of the Iranians to get their own nukes is so real and focussed that only nuclear strikes can prevent the Iranians getting their own strategic arsenal. If the Iranians succeed then it is all on. Europe and Israel will quickly face Iranian attempts at hegemony.

As an aside Bin Laden's al-Qaeda would then realise they too have lost the war - unable to advance their plans for a Muslim Caliphate against the Iranian shia led wider polity.

Either the discussion, regarding using nukes, within the Western press is a clever program to scare the daylights out of the Iranians or it is real. Either way things have got serious, very serious.

Bush seems to have concluded Ahmedinejad is hell bent on getting Iranian nukes and only destruction of the facilities will stop him. Bush calls him 'little Hitler' in reference to the earlier name owner's drive to cow the world with strategic weapons.

As I said things have got serious, very serious.

For me I am glad we have President Bush in the White House not a waverer like Kerry or Madame Clinton.
Bully Benson-Pope Backtracks

Reports today that Benson-Pope threatened National Deputy leader Gerry Brownlee in December with exposure of unsavoury dealings as a teacher make interesting reading. Interesting because Brownlee apparently challenged Benson-Pope to release what he had and rather than cowering in fear maintained the pressure on BePop

Result - a big fat nothing.

Conclusion there is nothing on Brownlee.

Brilliant - the bully went off muttering, moaning and grizzling about having to drag his family through it. Shoulda thought about before you told lie apon lie Mr Benson-Pope.

Prior to all this Benson-Pope was Labour's bully in chief in the house.

As Corporal Jones used to say - "they don't like it when you put it up'em".
Is This Confirmation We are Surrounded by Idiots?

Some of the calls to Telecom's Directory Service...
Never Been There But I Thought You Didn't Get to Kiss a Prostitute?

5 Minutes is the limit to kiss an unrelated person in Indonesia - guidelines to the Police in a prostitution crack-down.
Hubris is spelt C-u-l-l-e-n

Dr Cullen has snubbed attending a high-powered forum of trans-Tasman business heavy weights - describing it as a "wailing wall of people pushing their own barrrows"

Included with his none-to-subtle heavying of the Companies Office investigation into the criminal document signing by former Minister Parker - reported here it is easy to see where his hubristic head is at.

He believes that only Government's can solve business problems....
...the politicians are actually getting on with the real business," Dr Cullen said.
Yep, confirmation we are deep in it if Cullen thinks he (and his ilk) is the saviour.

Friday, April 07, 2006

So When Does Nuclear Power Enter the Polity?

On Afternoons with Jim Mora this afternnon (RNZ) he shamed his panelist Richard Griffin into fawning silence for daring to query the lack of discussion regarding nuclear power as an option in New Zealand. Mora said - should I read the flood of emails we received since you mentioned considering nuclear power Richard...

WTF is it with NZ and nuclear power?

We are facing a power crisis - short, medium and long term, many/most think we have climate change underway because of the release from long term sequestration of carbon. Only today Mallard boasted that the electricity crisis was not apon us because (inter alia) he had a stockpile of coal at Huntly (which National neglected to do last time...) ...Good one Trev - that'll help NZ meet Kyoto, stop global warming etc etc.

I know we hate the Americans (but don't know why) - so why not try these guys at Pebble Bed Modulators Reactors for safe nuclear power - this is a South African Government initiative.

Think of the brownie points at the UN Helen. Nice one?

Safe, low scale, using safe processes that have passive safety systems built in to the reactor and hence avoid human decision-making and intervention. This style and scale of plant can be located close to the demand sites. ie no need to run HVA cables up the North Island - just put it in Mt Albert.

South Africa faces increasing demand of 20,000MW by 2025 on top of their installed capacity of 39,000MW. They seem to be on to what needs to done to avoid a burning fossil fuels. We don't. We won't face the decisions or discussion and close our ears to anything that is not wind, sun or rain operated - all of which we have bugger all of at the moment.

Cullen Creaming It

News the Crown Operating Surplus is over $6.6Billion and $2.7Billion ahead of forecast or budget for the 8 months ended february 2006 will surprise no-one. Dr Cullen is presiding over a continual rape of the working classes. He is hard out re-distributing the hard work of the workers - and loving it.

Meanwhile Auckland is screaming out for infrastructure investment in roads, railways and rolling stock. The power sector is way under-invested and hospital waiting lists disappear out the wazoo.

For the lefties out there - don't tell me the surplus is up because corporate profits are up - those profits are subject to withholding tax - on behalf of the shareholders and completely topped up to the highest marginal rate.
Kathryn Ryan to Host Nine to Noon

News that Kathryn Ryan, RNZ's Political Reporter will host Nine to Noon is a yawn. Here's hoping she sees (seizes) the chance to (re)define herself as an independent commentator. We need to get back to the excellence of Maggie Barry, inquisitorial, bright, interesting and getting all the main players on an issue to comment. The recent host was underwhelming, wore her liberal colours openly and badly and was just too opinionated.

Update / announcement here:
Great Lines from Gareth Morgan

Reading of the beggars plaguing Gareth after he announced he was giving to charity his investment in his son's company Trade-me made funny reading.

It is sad to think our fellow countrymen badger him for a handout. This is clearly a well trod path.
"My advice from other well-heeled people was to watch out for provider capture. There are a lot of wide-mouthed frogs out there, all living off the hog. It's a corrupt industry, second only to insurance."
This was reference to the Charities fundraising industry.

Wide-mouthed frogs - Brilliant.
Benign Strategic Environment eh?

The PM's continuing expostulations that we live in a benign strategic environment have been laid bare with the SIS's Annual Report to parliament. The SIS reports NZ harbours experienced jihad warriors and Al Qaeda sympathisers with links to extremist organisations.

Hopefully the reported low numbers are correct and the surveilance of the SIS will keep them in check.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Electricity Commission Competent?

Despite months of denials the Electricity Commission (charged with the planning and regulatory framework to keep the lights on) has confirmed what everyone else knew - they did not have handle on the risk of shortages this year.

I'll bet that there has been Ministerial pressure on the Commission for months to play down the risk - now the pressure has got too great. Ministers (although an atheistic lot) have been praying for rain.

Check out the Electricity Commission Board - look political to you? Cullen's former economist, and a Christchurch City Councillor bring a definite tinge to the Board.

This Board will have the very best advice and knowledge in the country on storage levels, demand figures and total capacity. It defies logic that the Board has been led astray by management not blowing the whistle for months and made a bold call...that the rains would come.

I think the Commission decided today they had been subborned for too long and had only their credibility to protect - hence today's late announcement.

My contacts in the McKenzie country told me months ago the lakes were very low and the storage graphs have consistently confirmed that. On top, old hands were moving stock out in the autumn because in their signs it was going to be low on feed (ie no rain).

I was up there last week and Pukaki and Tekapo are very low.

The only water going out is to meet Waitaki flow rates.

What on earth did the Commission think was going on when all the generators were banging about the state of storage. It is in their interests to predict demand and supply so they can maximise sales. They run very sophisticated models. As does the Commission. A key variable is the Waitaki system - you can check storage there with an eyeometer.

First we knew there was a poor 2005 winter snow season - the low melt was not followed by rain. At that point alarm bells were jangling from most circles. Except, the body charged with security of the electricity supply was saying there was no need to worry; huh?

Another Government agency in the hand of the PM and her cronies.
Clark Caught

Transcripts over at Scoop reveal the extent of the PM and her department's enquiries regarding former Minister David Parker at the highest level of the Companies Office. MED and PM Dept CEO's talking with Companies Office CEO about Parker absolutely stinks.

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Mr Parker has, of course, kept in touch with the leadership of the Labour Party. There has, I understand, been communication from the Companies Office to the head of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet about the pace of the inquiry. I do not want to comment on what may have occurred in those conversations, but I am satisfied that Mr Parker is keeping his leadership in the loop
Keeping the leadership in the loop - you bet!

Hon Bill English: Can I take the Prime Minister’s statement to the House today as confirmation of rumours and allegations that personnel from her department contacted an officer of the Companies Office last week, and that that officer of the Companies Office provided written advice on the Companies Office view of Mr Parker’s declaration; and does she regard that as appropriate behaviour for a member of the Prime Minister’s department and for a statutory officer responsible for making a decision about whether to prosecute a senior member of her Government?
etc etc

The pervasion of Labour Party political pressure throughout the Public Services gets murkier and murkier. Is there no department that she and her cronies have not subborned?

David Farrar reports that Ian Wishart has been informed the MED and Companies Office lawyers are attempting to show that as Hyslop was bankrupt he was not actually a shareholder - pinhead, dance I say.

And, in any event if that is the case the lawful agent for the bankrupt was the Official Assignee - as Parker knows because he had communed with him previously on this precise matter AND the Assignee had signed the neccessary papers. Parker made a conscionable and conscious decision to avoid getting the necessary shareholder resolutions.

David Farrar also reports that it was after the high level intervention of her Department with the Companies Offfice that she performed her U-turn and then openly speculated Parker would be cleared and if so would come back as a Minister.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Al Qaeda Focussed on Establishing a Muslim Caliphate

Al Qaeda is infiltrating countries surrounding Israel, aimed at preparing different bases to attack the Jewish state as Jordanian journalist Fouad Hussein (Author of "Al Zarqawi: Al Qaeda's second Generation") explains. Hussein states Al Qaeda's final goal is to establish an Islamic Caliphate in seven phases see here for more detail.

Interestingly, the third phase called "The Rising" advocates heavy attacks against Israel because it will then force the world to acknowledge al Qaeda as a major power, and negotiate with it. This phase should last three years and allow Al Qaeda to infiltrate Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
Hussein says that Zarqawi has noted:
...very likely collision between the United States and Iran over the nuclear issue is going to help reach that goal because Iran is going to be less focused on exerting its control on Syria and Lebanon.
Interesting times. A benign strategic environment, not.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Something Rotten in the State of Denmark (Christchurch)

News Mayor Garry Moore has had to force expressions of support from all Councillors for the Christchurch City Council CEO comes hard on the heels of the shambolic and appallingly executed programme by the City's investment manager (CCHL) to take over the publicly listed Lyttelton Port Company and sell a controlling interest in the Port operation to Chinese company Hutchison Whampoa. Hutchison have taken fright - waiting until CCHL sort out their shambles.

This is apparently the latest in a long line of recent shockers from out of CCHL and Christchurch City.