About anarkaytie

Radical feminist activist, with green focus on environment and social justice issues

GCSB, protesting and the internetz.

I realise that many readers of this blog will think that I am merely an artsy, stroppy feminist with too many opinions traversing policy areas across the spectrum. This is a deliberate strategy that I have undertaken for this stream of publication.



So to ‘break the fourth wall’, I am now going to give you a little of my IRL specifics, in order that what I say about the GCSB Bill now before the House in New Zealand, has a little more validity.



I have been around the IT industry in our country since my early university days. Yep, I failed Comp 101, because it bored me rigid, rather than not understanding how to write binary code. I didn’t want to end up working with those kinda people, doing that kinda work. My sister is of a different personality type, and she loved it, and has had a twenty-five-year career (and counting) in IT, as has my ex-husband. It was during my marriage that I learned most of what I know about the internet, due to contracts my then-husband was working on for his employer, a major MNC which operates in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. 



Don’t kid yourselves that there is anything ‘private’ about what you do on the net.


Don’t buy into the idea that you are ‘a consumer’, the internet is ‘a product’, nor that it is there to entertain you.



What we now call the internet began as Arpanet and DArpanet, projects of the USA Department of Defense, in collaboration with research projects at hand-picked Universities in the USA. It was originally an IT research program to create a secure way of transmitting and collecting data for the DOD. These days, we’d call that an intranet, similar to the kind of WAN that operates inside most corporations for administrative purposes.



The Bill going through our Parliament at the moment is a stage of DOD ‘taking back’ the internet from public use. Surveillance and transmission of surveilled data was always the primary purpose of the net; the Patriot Act in 2001, followed by Terrorism Suppression legislation in most global jurisdictions, was a first attempt to ‘plug the holes’. Creating crimes of knowledge, of dissemination of information, was the beginning of a global campaign by DOD to regain domination of the medium of internet traffic.

It is obvious in the trial of Bradley Manning, the attempts to smear and discredit Julian Assange of Wikileaks, the hunting down of Edward Snowden (still on-going), that the DOD is very serious about extending its’ capacities to control activities outside the borders of the USA.


This is a breach of the sovereignty of every other nation on earth, and most people are just going to sit by and watch as it happens, not making the connections to totalitarian control of their own lives.

So, on these grounds, I urge every thinking citizen of Aotearoa/New Zealand to join in the protests against the GCSB Bill that is before the House. There is a nationwide protest organised for Saturday 27th July 2013, all events beginning at 2pm.
Because this is only the thin end of a wedge that will see a totalitarian surveillance society established in every nation in the world, if we, the people, do not stop it. It’s too late to make submissions, but this is something anyone can do.
Events in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin, Napier are listed on FB and there is also a general group for discussion. (outlinks)

Our MP’s have spoken out against this Bill – here on frogblog and here and here on the main Greens website.

If you want to access the submissions that went to the Select Committee hearings, they can be found here (pdf to download).

If you want to view the submissions made during the hearings, video has been uploaded to You-tube. (outlinks)
Submitters Thomas Beagle, from Tech Liberty, Susan Chalmers and Jordan Carter from Internet NZ, Micheal Koziarski, Vikram Kumar, Simon Terry, all made submissions as working professionals contracting in the IT industry.
Keith Locke and Kate Dewes and Robert Green (nuclear disarmament activists) made submissions on the political aspects of the Bill.

Labour’s “Man-ban”

Well, when I first heard about this, I thought it was quaint – after all, we’ve been gender-balancing our Green MP’s in the party lists forever. Ok, so Labour are catching up with us in a slow and unwieldy way, but it’s no real biggie.

I went off to do some essential, offline tasks.
Then I came back to the internet after dinner.

Oh dear, the trolls and the journalists have joined hands and danced around the fairy circle together.

Comments on posts on Facebook have veered from curious to bewildered, amongst the left, and gone straight to blindingly misogynist on the right.

Apparently, Whaleoil started it. No, I don’t link to his festering cesspit of a blog, you can google that one for yourselves if you want to go there.
Stuff had a go at finding a woman to throw the argument sideways.

Andrew Geddis at Pundit was more reasoned, and gave a clear outline of why so many (even Labour supporters) are concerned about both the announcement, and the timing (right when Key is on the ropes with GCSB hearings).

Chris Trotter has done an ‘insider’s view’ post at the Daily Blog, with a stirring look back at the formation of NewLabour Party in 1989. Recollections of Jim Anderton’s breakaway from ‘old’ Labour had me reaching for the chocolate again.
(yep, I’m playing the feminist version of ‘scull for clichés’ by chewing a lump of chocolate each time I see a glaring piece of male appropriation of the debate. Gonna be a long night if I keep reading around, it seems …)

Even The Civilian has had a go. Excuse me while I roflmao.

No-one seems to have made much about the strategic problem of how you do this when list candidates get juggled around by the electorate seat results, and Labour seem to have forgotten just how many female MP’s they have exactly … which makes for some gruelling reading as they back-step & correct themselves in clear view of the journo’s etc firing off hits at them.
[excuse me while I just scoff another piece of chocolate ... :-) ]

I’ll be mightily interested to see how this story plays over the weekend, and slightly curious to see which newsrooms scrabble together a feature in the weekend papers, and with what angle.
Do play along at home, and throw article links into the comments here on g.blog.

Update:
Well, the pollie journo’s at Granny Herald seem to have a bob each way going this weekend. Fran O’Sullivan comes out with a strong piece in support of gender balance in Parlie, as she also supports workplace gender balance. On the ‘noes’, it’s Adam Bennett, reporting a back-peddle from Shearer and some prize misogyny from Shane Jones and Damian O’Connor (why am I not surprised?).

Return to Back Benches

So, here’s another post about Back Benches!
[yes, I'm pasting info directly from Prime's PR - but why change perfectly good material when you don't have to?]

This week’s Back Benches panel in Wellington is Labour MP Phil Goff, National MP Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, and Green Party MP Kevin Hague.

THIS WEEK ON PRIME TV’s “BACK BENCHES”: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the week’s hottest topics!

WHO SHOULD GET THE PILLS?: Pharmac—the Government’s drug-buying agency wants your input on their funding policies? Who should be getting the pills? Where should our priorities lie? Should they put more money extending the lives of the elderly? Or should they prioritise medicines that would improve the lives of younger people? What about the poor—are they more deserving of help than rich people? Should the future earning potential of children be considered? Focusing on preventable diseases vs. genetic?

SPY BILL—IS IT SAFETY vs. PRIVACY?: The Law Society has made their opinion over the GCSB law changes proposals known. They hate it. They say the changes would mean the GCSB would go from a foreign intelligence agency to a domestic one. So, would the new powers be too broad? Why would New Zealanders need to watched? In order to gain safety—is a loss of privacy the price to pay?

There are two ways to get in on the political pub action:
First, you can join the live audience in Wellington’s iconic Backbencher Pub on Wednesday, 26th of June at 6pm. Filming begins around 6:15pm.

Or watch us that night on PRIME TV at 10:30pm!

http://www.primetv.co.nz/

Plus, Follow us on Facebook (BackBenchesTV) or on Twitter @BackBenchesTV.

Update:
I’ve missed my weekly fix of fun at the Back Bencher pub in Molesworth St, but during a flying visit, managed to squeeze in an evening with old mates.
The renovated pub layout is rather swish, I do approve of the changes – it’s been a bit hard to see how it all fitted together from the Prime footage I’ve watched. Up close, there was a lot to enjoy, not the least of which was the new puppets, which I hadn’t seen for myself before.
This weeks episode was full of rather good quotes – if you didn’t manage to watch it on Prime, catch it on i-Sky’s on-demand section, Prime shows are free-2-watch for a fortnight after transmission.

IPCA report on ‘Operation 8′

Just finished reading IPCA report on Operation 8, over a few cups of tea.
Just in case you don’t fancy reading the whole 88 pages of self-justification by Police National HQ, here’s some edited highlights:

“Findings in relation to Property searches
387. Police actions led occupants at five properties to have reasonable cause to believe that they were being detained while the search was conducted. The detention of occupants at these properties was contrary to law, unjustified, and unreasonable.” => illegal actions by Police Officers.

“390. Police had no legal basis or justification for personally searching occupants. These searches were contrary to law, unjustified, and unreasonable” => illegal actions on the part of Police Officers.

Now is the time for some actual punitive action to be taken by the Police Commissioner.
The Anti-Terror Unit, based in South Auckland, is composed of Police Officers who were recruited from overseas, from countries and forces that had ‘experience’ with anti-terror policing – namely, London Metropolitain Police who had been trained during the period of IRA bombings in the UK, and Afrikaaners from South Africa, who were trained during the ANC’s activities to gain political power in South Africa.
None of these staff came to Aotearoa/New Zealand without a complete set of personal biases, and they do not appear to be re-trained to cultural sensitivity around rights for all citizens in our country. Out of ten positions in the Anti-terror Unit, only one is held by a NZ-born and trained officer – Aaron Pascoe. The guy who authored the very flawed “Pascoe Affadavit” which was used to obtain search warrants on the 10th October, 2007.

Assistant Police Commissioner Jon White, in charge of the ATU, is one of the Afrikaaners. I strongly suggest that if the IPCA is serious about solving the ‘problems’ identified in the policing of the Ruātoki valley in 2007, then getting rid of the racist police officers in the ATU might be a very good place to start.
Then they might consider removing some of the rest of the Afrikaaner officers who have been recruited in to the NZ Police forces over the past ten years, who are a cohort of racists scattered through our towns and cities, to the detriment of unbiased, legal policing of crime.
If they don’t want to go to South Africa, get the Netherlands to take them back.

Note:
The report is available to download and read in full here.

Update:
Good post from Maui Street went up same day, but I’ve been slack checking around the web.

NZEI March to Stand up for Kids

I went along to the Hamilton NZEI Stand up for Kids – Protect Our Schools rally & march yesterday, thinking it was the least I could do for the teachers who have educated my children, many of whom are still teaching at the same levels, long after my offspring have left their care.

I had the impression that Hamiltonians were not very ‘protesty’ people, and that the teachers might need every radical education policy lefty activist in the region to show up.

When I arrived at the rallying point, there was a huge crew of NZEI marshalls in yellow vests, handing out chant sheets and lovely round purple and red (double-sided) posters for marchers to hold.

They were surrounded by teachers, parents and children, and such a huge collection of banners from schools around the region, along with hand-made signs carried by resourceful marchers and children.
I caught up with a few local Greenies from the Hamilton Branch & the Campus Greens, and managed a short chat with Cath Delahunty before we all set off. Thanks to a young local friend, I have an estimate of around 400 people marching, which I was informed was a very good turnout for Hamilton; dire descriptions of events where the turnout totaled 20 brave bodies followed.

After about a fifteen minute walk, the crowd arrived at Steele Park in Hamilton East, where a stage-truck was set to provide sound amplification for the speakers, and an avid crew of NZEI volunteers sizzled sausages for hungry marchers. Credit was given to Anglican Action for providing the consumables to run the sausage sizzle.
There was much singing and chanting along the way; as you’d expect of teachers, there were very clearly written chant sheets, and a song sheet with waiata and karakia which were used at various points during the proceedings. Local kaumatua were on hand to lead those parts, and give a blessing to the efforts of the marchers.

Speakers included Professor Martin Thrupp, from Waikato University’s Faculty of Education, who spoke about his research into the dreaded National Standards which has pretty much been ignored by the Minister, along with a statement signed by 150 academics in the field of education research – a major feat in itself – which was sent to the Minister.
Green MP Cath Delahunty spoke, exhorting the crowd to ‘vote the Government out’ at the next elections if they want to see their schools maintained at the level of excellence that current standards allow. There was discussion of the effects of the ‘Charter Schools’ policies favoured by the Minister, and a general desire to retain trained, qualified teachers in our education system was expressed both in her speech and on placards held by marchers.
Labour MP Sue Maroney echoed Cath’s call to ‘vote them out’ and said to teachers, encourage parents at your schools to enroll and vote, it’s the strongest message parents can send to the Government.
Anglican Action’s director Karen Morrison-Hume spoke last, praising teachers who are at the pointy end of social welfare, funding breakfasts and even lunches in our decile 1 & 2 schools so that children living in poverty-stricken homes can have at least some chance of learning. She spoke of the parlous situation of charities, who have had donation cuts from big businesses who are less able in the current economic climate to donate food for social programs – alleviation of social distress that should be covered by MSD/WINZ, not teachers or supermarket owners with a conscience.

Coverage of marches around the country was spotty, although I’ve had these media reports brought to my attention (thanks, FB friends …) in Chrischurch, Auckland, and Wellington.

There may be pictures later, sorry folks my capacity for uploading the ones I took is limited; I’m borrowing a camera I don’t know quite how to sync with my desktop system (yet). There’s a work-around, but it’s cumbersome.
Guess I need some intensive re-education as well!

Mad Lord Monckton’s in town

If you happen to be in Northland, Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Gisborne, Hastings, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Paraparaumu, Wellington, Nelson, Blenheim, Christchurch, Timaru, Dunedin, Gore or Invercargill between April 1st (yes, his tour began in Northland on April Fool’s Day) and April 26th 2013, you are at risk of intellectual abuse from Lord Christopher Moncton. And possibly, verbal abuse, as several members of the audience suffered at the event I attended in Hamilton, at the University of Waikato.

Nexus, the student magazine, had already reported on the 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley’s visit, here. The fact that I received a flash colour-printed pamphlet in my home mailbox decided me to attend. Nobody else from the Nexus team was keen.

The event was hosted in the PWC Lecture Theatre building of the Management School, a location I had not visited before, so that also piqued my curiosity.
Why was a journalist being hosted by the School of Management?
It got more interesting after I’d got past the sales table (climate denial bumper-stickers, all important for the Land Rover; books by Ian Wishart, Lord Monckton, and DVD’s of various of Monckton’s talks) into the auditorium, where the crowd (mostly comprising farmers & their wives, it seemed) were welcomed by Dr Ron Smith from the School of Political Science, who was profusely thanked for his hospitality once Lord Monckton had been introduced.
Monckton went on to thank Mrs Smith for her excellent dinner, then made a rather sly dig by suggesting that he’d tried to lure her to his Scottish estate to run the catering there. All the audience laughed at the ‘compliment’; seemingly without picking up that he was making a very upper-class joke about having to eat with the servant class.

It went on in that vein, with dog-whistles, misrepresentations of fact and outright lies.

A young man in the row of seating in front of me took him to task about a logical contradiction performed in the space of two concurrent sentences; Monckton then refused to allow the young man to finish his sentence, then demanded that security come and take him away if further ‘heckling’ occurred.
I then asked for clarification of whether Lord Monckton has meant phrase a, or phrase b, as it appeared confusing to listeners. He then went through a long, convoluted response, during which he neither rescinded from one statement nor the other, confirming in our minds that he was determined not to admit to any fault, more than his determination to deliver clear information.

Obfuscation followed misrepresentation, sprinkled with a few more lies.
He began by claiming that NIWA had been falsifying figures since 1970, in order to prop up the climate change argument, then carried on to impugn the academic and research credentials of the IPCC, various specific researchers output, and then did an analysis of the 2007 IPCC report using a spurious mathematical allusion based on sine waves (most of the audience being older folk for whom Eton’s Tables, slide rulers and sine waves were basic mathematical knowledge… catch a teenager now who would recognise any of those instruments, you’d be lucky), which had no bearing on the graph of temperature differentials that he then spoke over the top of, overlaying broad arrows to provide ‘interpretations’ of the raw data in the chart to show ‘trending’ was neutral … based on his statements about sine waves, of which this chart had none.
My notes taken during the talk get a little sweary around about here, with many “oh, bollocks!” scribbled alongside paragraphs of rapid transcription.

There was also the surprising, and self-aggrandizing, statement that he’d seen an advance copy of the 2013 IPCC report, followed by some critical statements about the contents.
This struck me as precipitous; so I checked the IPCC website for the report publishing schedule.
Yes, it is due out in 2013. Final papers for some sections are not due to be submitted until October this year, however, so I don’t know how he comes to have seen a “scientist’s draft” of the final report in March/April.

He had a go at the Australian Carbon Tax regime, with a very unpleasant few digs at Julia Gillard that were bigoted on about three levels – class, race and gender – and what surprised me most was the venomous approval he got for this – obviously a lot of people who fear any form of reduction in carbon consumption, thus assume that carbon tax is merely about raising income for other Government programs. Refutation of that idea here. There was a lot of rhetoric around the need for farmers to continue to run big gas-guzzling SUV’s/Range Rovers, and very little concept of any over-consumption that could be curbed.

All in all, it was like having bucketfulls of cold, dirty water thrown at me repeatedly, and as I left the campus to walk home, I found myself thinking seriously about the ethics of research, and how it is that researchers who have to conform to stringent guidelines can still be completely undermined by those who misrepresent their research outcomes.

I have linked to sites that proved the actual research referred to so disparagingly by Lord Monckton, and have refrained from linking to any of the climate denial websites where his arguments may be found.
If you desire, out of some intention of fairness, to read his viewpoints, by all means google for yourself. The wikipedia article linked under Monckton’s name may provide some examples of his reasoning.

Studylink, where’s my allowance?

Students have had a hard time over summer. I arrived in Hamilton to look for somewhere to live in November of 2012, and while I’d sussed out some empty flats to look at via Trade-Me, nothing prepared me for the state of the place when I got here – whole suburbs were ghost towns of empty student flats, and all I saw on campus when inquiring about post-grad papers were International students doing bridging courses over summer.



Eventually it sank into my stressed-out brain that there were no students here ‘cos they’d all gone home to parents, some of them for jobs but mostly for the free room and board.



Then Studylink announces its new parameters, and suddenly a bunch of previously capable and successful students (postgraduates) were persona-non-grata for study support, and indeed, enrollment in a New Zealand University. This is probably the greatest shift in student allowance availability since the Student Loans Act was passed in 1992. 
Cue tickets to Australia, and a windfall for Monash and its ilk. 
Knowledge Economy, it isn’t.



What are the current batch of undergrad’s supposed to make of this? 
How confident are you, handing in assignments, going to tutorials, aiming for the ‘A’ grade, when suddenly those who were your tutors last year have been told ‘don’t come back’, unless they have no need for student allowances or student loans to cover study costs.



Someone needs to tell the Minister of Education, the Hon Hekia Parata, that this is an unreasonable way to treat those of our student community who have actual proven track record as successful students – after all, post-grad is not a forgone conclusion, it’s something some of us agonise over for a year after completing Hons; and some even go out into the workforce for a few years before returning with enough experience of life to really value our university opportunities. E-mail her here hekia.parata@parliament.govt.nz



What-the-Hekia, this is the longest Recession since the Great Depression of the 1930’s, this is actually the very economic situation that our social welfare ‘safety net’ was designed for – when global conditions go sour, NZ has very little resiliency, due to our over-exposure to export earnings. 



There were no jobs going for the one in four maaori or pasifika students without jobs this summer; and the jobless rate wasn’t much brighter for our ‘cream of the crop’ high achievers, either. 


The net unemployment rate for 15-19-year-olds in the year to December was 30.9% [that’s just under 1 in 3 of the cohort ‘not in employment, education or training’ (NEET)] and for the 20-25-year-old bracket, it’s 18.5% [over 1 in 6 NEET]. 
These are people who can’t get a student loan, entry to a course nearby, or a job. 
They’re the people who aren’t here on campus with you this year, out of the kids you might have known at secondary school.

I tried to get figures from SJS and Winz on student hardship unemployment uptake over summer, but had no replies.
This was going to be an article for Nexus, the student paper at Uni of Waikato, but they seem to have lost possession of their testicles and couldn’t find it in their teeny shrivelled hearts to criticise Hekia Parata, a former WSU President, so here it is on g.blog.

Weekend Walk along the Waipa

Well, it was a lovely day for a walk in the countryside.
Pity about the cow-poo in the river, though!

Te Awamutu branch invited Waikato members (& some locals who are interested) along to see for themselves just what the water quality degradation is like in our region.
This was to have been a “Dirty Rivers Tour” kayak down the river, with Russel Norman and Eugenie Sage leading the way, but the drought has led to lower water levels than usual, to the point where kayaking was deemed irresponsible.
Eugenie came along, fresh from appearing on TV earlier in the day in Auckland on The Nation for TV3.

Local farmer Keith Hutton liased with farmers Gary Charlston and John Pievenga so that our group, ably led by Te Awamutu Branch convenor Leane Steele, could have an up-close-and-personal tour of the banks of the Waipa River, and see for ourselves what the risks are from stock grazing on the river margins.

We were also lucky enough to have Regional Councillors Stu Kneebone and Paula Southgate with us, to give an overview of how the WRC is dealing with water quality management and current trends in water quality, along with District Councillor Laurie Hoverd.

From the Pievenga’s farm we were able to see some examples of riparian planting along a stream on the farm, and some riverside remediation work across the river on the site of the 1820′s battle at Matakitaki, an area of land that has been recently returned to the local iwi alongside Purekireki Marae. The Waipa flows swiftly here, and seems narrow – I had to be reminded by a local that during the land wars, British flat-hulled battleships were steamed up these rivers to deliver troops into the battles. Much history here, amongst the green and wooded rolling hills, with the river looping and twisting.

Another piece of local lore shared was to do with the Pirongia Restoration Society, who have run environmental projects on Mt Pirongia for a while now, beginning with a pilot area in 2006 and now working to bring the birds back into Pirongia Forest Park all over the peak of the mountain.
They have funding from Waikato River Authority to get an envirocentre going in Pirongia Village, and have a project to restore the river margins along the Waipa River, in partnership with Waipa District Council and the Pirongia Residents and Ratepayers’ Association. Grassroots action at it’s best, with huge local community support.

Update:
I completely forgot to plug the work Eugenie has been doing on the RMA, which is under threat of further dilution by National. See here for the submission guide and links to relevant information. Deadline 5pm, Tuesday 2nd April 2013 – that’s straight after the Easter break.

I’m only going to say something briefly about the job losses at DoC – it stinks, and 140 more redundant public servants is not how to improve the ‘bottom line’, Mr Key, especially whilest there is more legislation in the works to demonise the unemployed – how is adding to the pool of well-qualified, experienced unemployed going to help matters?
Canberra will once more be absorbing our best and brightest, at what cost to our future viability as a functioning nation? This is such venal and short-sighted ‘cost-cutting’ that I’m tempted to rant at length about corruption amongst Government Ministers, since it so obviously prefers the enactment of policies that favour MNC’s who wish to operate in our country.

Orientation week – clubs day is O-for-oarsome

So, summer is officially over and students are flocking back to universities all over Aotearoa/NZ. Well, unless you’ve been gated by one or more of the fresh new tertiary education policies pushed out by our Minister for Education, What-the-Hekia Parata, over the summer break. (see Holly’s excellent post on that here.)

I’m acclimatising to a new city and a new campus, and thus, here is an O-week post about the Greens on Campus Waikato. We’ve already met for some KOA action (of which others have posted much more than I this summer, so I won’t go over it again) and we’re just starting on the new “I’m in for the future” campaign to run through 2013.

They’re a keen bunch; Waikato holds the record for sustainability initiatives being put in place earlier than any other campus in Aotearoa/NZ, has some of the flashest recycling bins scattered around the campus I’ve seen anywhere, and environmental science/common sense is ingrained in the University administration.
Looky here, a whole page about the environment on the academic website!

So when campus Greens said they wanted to erect a geodesic dome, WSU said, “sure”.

Cath with the domebuilders

Cath with the domebuilders

From the inside

From the inside

The stall was not adjacent to the dome, which is made of recycled coreflute billboards from the 2011 election campaign, so there was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing to keep checking on it and answering questions from bystanders.

Greens on Campus co-convenors Theresa and Amy had organised a really good stall kit, and as we set up at 9am, it all went up very quickly. ‘Many hands make light work’ was truly the order of the day as first the stall, then the geodesic dome were set up.

It was our privilege to have Green MP Cath Delahunty with us for the day, which flew by as we conversed with students, handed out stickers, leaflets and cake, and signed up new and old members to the club.

Cupcakes!

Cupcakes!

stall_people

We even got photographed by the Uni marketing photographer, and this pic went up on the University of Waikato FB page in the ORI 2013 album.
Credit to Stephen Barker/Barker Photography.©The University of Waikato

Uni_PR_stall_team

One last feminist rant for 2012

I’ve been a bit short on interwebz for a while, so not much posting here has been going on.
Thankfully, there are others who rant more than I do, who’ve been keeping their end up, so I’m gonna chuck a bunch of links atcha.
I’m too hot, it’s mid-summer, and I’m nowhere near a beach, but suffering from limited net-surfing capacity.
Sorry, there are no pictures today!

So, here’s some of the low-lights of this year for me, mostly from the last two months, in no particular order, and some linky-love to people I respect who write far more consistently than I do.

There was an appalling incident of gang-rape in India, reported on desultorily in NZ until it became mega worldwide, when the Herald finally published this. I have no words to describe this tragedy, other than it is appalling that such events happen, and the result is debate about whether laws need to be changed, in the face of huge popular demonstrations by women all over India. The time has come for Indians, whether Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Buddhist or Christian, to come to an agreement that rape is not the fault of the victim, it is a crime by the rapist.

The Hand Mirror has been fighting fires with logic and reason, notably over the responses to the Sandy Hook mass murders. Autism has become a hot topic, when one would imagine gun control and a review of the ludicrous NRA-sponsored gun laws in the USA should be the concern. More here.

And still with THM, Stargazer had pertinent things to say about the apparent suicide of Jacintha Saldanha in the wake of an Aussie radio DJ’s prank. She also wrote a great post about harrassment women bloggers receive, referencing Anita Sarkeesian’s TED talk.

Not to be seen to be playing favourites, Luddite Journo has also had some good rants, here on consent, and here on Out in the Square. I’m missing Wellington already ….

ALRANZ blog has been busy chronicling activism in – wait for it – Invercargill, as the local fundies try to shame women and Doctors attending the clinic at Southland Hospital. Just to show that shallow thinking and illogical actions are not merely the province of ill-educated american fundamentalists. I applaud the gutsy women who are picketing in the face of right-to-lifers who can’t see the contradiction in terms between their stance on abortion and their stance on supporting women to have decent lives, with a capacity to feed the children they give birth to. *sigh*
I’d be slapping stupid faces by now, I’m just over the specious arguments …. which is really why it’s a good thing I’m not in Invercargill right now.