Saturday, October 22, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

So I watched the news

Switching between TV1 and 3's coverage of the days events.

This was quite novel for me as I've all but given up watching any broadcast TV completely these past few years. The Occassional five minutes here and there (usually fox news as I leave the house in the morning - its funny, ok), so on managing to first navigate the remotes and get the machines to work I was I must admit a tad shell shocked. All those ads and god most of them are badly made, well cheap is possibly more ot the point. Anyways I digress.

I watched the news, for the stranding of the Rena on Astrolabe Reef off the port of Tauranga concerns me greatly, not just because I care about our environment and country... but because for some seven years I lived in Mount Maunganui, back before the amalgamation into Tauranga city and the linking harbour bridge was errected - man it was a weird but wonderful small town (13,000) and community. Quite the sobering introduction to a wider NZ than my years in the South Island, thats for sure. So as an ex-mountie I have a very strong emotional attachment to the area.

It's where I finished high school, learned to and actively surfed for many years and in my lotto dreams return to surf again *insert beach bum with adequate means fantasy*. The Mt Maunganui coastline is pretty much one unbroken beach stretching all the way down to Makatu. Its golden sands, dunes and inconsistant breakers are a paradise for pleasure seekers of all ages and interests. Watching local residents verbalising what the beach meant to them on Cambell Live was heart wrenching - for those who live close the beach is an extension of the home and for those a drive away its their playground.

So I watched the news.... and learnt little I hadn't already found online... but I did get that connection with the people, thanks to Campbells caravan segment (an appreciated bonus). The ads plain bored and freaked me out -I can't and will never go back to a medium that intrudes so on my time in a manner like that. By the end of the one and a half hours I was numb - admitably I hummed to myself and pretended to watch paint dry during the half hour of sports (not including all the sport in the main news).

Having turned the box off and shuffled around the house I've come to one conclusion - by watching the tv news (especially if its your only or primary news source) will inform you only of the gist of whats going on in our country, let alone the wider world.

Since giving up the TV news and focusing on web based reporting, online newspapers (The Herald, Stuff et al - yes I appreciate how bad (tabloid) both are), blogs local and not (both left and right), places like info clearing house, tomdispatch and wikipedia and of course the ever wonderful online search engine (google for now) I know and can access more in depth knowledge and reporting plus get better, more informed, intelligent (and not) and down right amusing opinions than ever before in my life.

And its wonderful.

So in short, gutted bout the oil spill, TV bad, knowledge good

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

Confronting the Malefactors

There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear, but we may, at long last, be seeing the rise of a popular movement that, unlike the Tea Party, is angry at the right people.

When the Occupy Wall Street protests began three weeks ago, most news organizations were derisive if they deigned to mention the events at all. For example, nine days into the protests, National Public Radio had provided no coverage whatsoever.

It is, therefore, a testament to the passion of those involved that the protests not only continued but grew, eventually becoming too big to ignore. With unions and a growing number of Democrats now expressing at least qualified support for the protesters, Occupy Wall Street is starting to look like an important event that might even eventually be seen as a turning point.

What can we say about the protests? First things first: The protesters’ indictment of Wall Street as a destructive force, economically and politically, is completely right.

A weary cynicism, a belief that justice will never get served, has taken over much of our political debate — and, yes, I myself have sometimes succumbed. In the process, it has been easy to forget just how outrageous the story of our economic woes really is. So, in case you’ve forgotten, it was a play in three acts.

In the first act, bankers took advantage of deregulation to run wild (and pay themselves princely sums), inflating huge bubbles through reckless lending. In the second act, the bubbles burst — but bankers were bailed out by taxpayers, with remarkably few strings attached, even as ordinary workers continued to suffer the consequences of the bankers’ sins. And, in the third act, bankers showed their gratitude by turning on the people who had saved them, throwing their support — and the wealth they still possessed thanks to the bailouts — behind politicians who promised to keep their taxes low and dismantle the mild regulations erected in the aftermath of the crisis.

  Given this history, how can you not applaud the protesters for finally taking a stand?

Now, it’s true that some of the protesters are oddly dressed or have silly-sounding slogans, which is inevitable given the open character of the events. But so what? I, at least, am a lot more offended by the sight of exquisitely tailored plutocrats, who owe their continued wealth to government guarantees, whining that President Obama has said mean things about them than I am by the sight of ragtag young people denouncing consumerism.

Bear in mind, too, that experience has made it painfully clear that men in suits not only don’t have any monopoly on wisdom, they have very little wisdom to offer. When talking heads on, say, CNBC mock the protesters as unserious, remember how many serious people assured us that there was no housing bubble, that Alan Greenspan was an oracle and that budget deficits would send interest rates soaring.

A better critique of the protests is the absence of specific policy demands. It would probably be helpful if protesters could agree on at least a few main policy changes they would like to see enacted. But we shouldn’t make too much of the lack of specifics. It’s clear what kinds of things the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators want, and it’s really the job of policy intellectuals and politicians to fill in the details.

Rich Yeselson, a veteran organizer and historian of social movements, has suggested that debt relief for working Americans become a central plank of the protests. I’ll second that, because such relief, in addition to serving economic justice, could do a lot to help the economy recover. I’d suggest that protesters also demand infrastructure investment — not more tax cuts — to help create jobs. Neither proposal is going to become law in the current political climate, but the whole point of the protests is to change that political climate.

And there are real political opportunities here. Not, of course, for today’s Republicans, who instinctively side with those Theodore Roosevelt-dubbed “malefactors of great wealth.” Mitt Romney, for example — who, by the way, probably pays less of his income in taxes than many middle-class Americans — was quick to condemn the protests as “class warfare.”

But Democrats are being given what amounts to a second chance. The Obama administration squandered a lot of potential good will early on by adopting banker-friendly policies that failed to deliver economic recovery even as bankers repaid the favor by turning on the president. Now, however, Mr. Obama’s party has a chance for a do-over. All it has to do is take these protests as seriously as they deserve to be taken.

And if the protests goad some politicians into doing what they should have been doing all along, Occupy Wall Street will have been a smashing success.


Thursday, October 06, 2011

Sunday, October 02, 2011