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!

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.

Pike River: not laissez-faire but lackadaisical

The Pike River commission’s report must, finally, represent the low-water mark of economic de-regulation in New Zealand.

A dictionary definition of “laissez-faire” gives two meanings:

  1. individualism the doctrine of unrestricted freedom in commerce, esp for private interests
  2. indifference or non-interference, esp in the affairs of others.

Read the section What Happened, in volume one of  the report of the Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy.  It difficult not to draw the conclusion that, in New Zealand’s deregulated and commercially-oriented economy, laissez-faire means not just indifference, but callous indifference, to the well-being and even the lives of others.

Rod Oram, in the Sunday Star-Times on 11 November, damns the “She’ll be right” culture that seemed to pervade the Pike River company, saying:

It wasn’t an anomaly. It will happen again. Deep in our psyche we believe improvisation is innovation. We believe cutting corners copes with complexities.

Rod’s opinion piece is a good read, and a damning indictment, but it doesn’t entirely get to the heart of the matter.

Over the last three decades, New Zealand’s ruling elites have developed a culture of indifference and unconcern – not just to workplace safety, but also to child poverty; to the integrity of the democratic system of government; to our economic future in the post-carbon age.

The term “lackadaisical now correctly describes New Zealand’s political and economic system. The proof of that is given in the Pike River tragedy; and in this government’s gutting of the ETS; and in the programme of road-building it has undertaken; and in the child poverty statistics.

And it is not just this National Party government that is to blame.  It is the cosy duopoly of National and Labour governments that have led us down this path, playing pass the parcel in parliament – both following a neo-liberal agenda, since the mid-1980’s.

The Pike River tragedy must serve as the nadir of neo-liberalism: the point at which we should turn away from those corrupt ideas, and start to restore and re-develop our public and private institutions.  Market systems are fine when they are effectively self-regulating: but the concept of self-regulation does not imply a lack of regulation.  Market mechanisms can, and must, be used if they do in fact serve the needs of society and all its members. In any other case society must, unapologetically and thoughtfully, regulate to serve its best interests.

The antonyms of lackadaisical include: active, careful, caring, energetic, enthusiastic, and hard-working.  These words are more than mere adjectives: they also describe values.  Values that should describe the Green Party in the public mind, and a Green Party government after the 2014 election.

Another Green Cross activist, another shoddy Police action.

I didn’t know Stephen McIntyre, my NORML friends are almost all local to Wellington where I have been living for some decades now.

I heard of his death when it happened, because he was known to some of my friends. We began our White Flag meeting in August with a minute’s silence in remembrance of his life and his activism.

Just recently, Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury has been doing a series of stories about what happened in the circumstances surrounding Stephen’s death by suicide.
This lead to an article in the NZ Herald, and a follow-up post by Bomber, in response to the Police acting Western Area Commander DI Karyn Malthus, quoted in the Herald piece.

There is more to come tomorrow, says Bomber. This is another case where IPCA has shown themselves to be neither Independent, nor adequately investigating complaints.

Sentencing Protest in Palmie in support of Billy McKee

NORML protest poster 29 Oct

NORML protest poster 29 Oct

Billy McKee is facing four charges of selling small quantities of cannabis to an undercover policeman, and one of cultivating the plant. He is being sentenced 30th October at Palmerston North High Court.

So here’s the plan, we are arriving at Palmerston North High Court on 29th October by 4:00 pm for a public display of non-violent civil disobedience at 4:20 pm, we will then picket the courthouse until 8pm at which our overnight candlelight vigil will begin, devoted to Billy McKee and in solidarity with all medical cannabis users around NZ and the world.

From 10am on 30th October we will picket the courthouse and sit with him in the courtroom until he is sentenced and freed.

Everyone is encouraged to come along. We need to people to share this event and invite their friends, social media is a very powerful tool so let’s use it!

We are traveling from around the country to support Billy McKee, who is a medical cannabis user, amputee and director of GreenCross.org.nz

Recently Green party co-Leader Meteria Turei wrote a post on frogblog about Billy’s case – Billy McKee should be discharged.

Save TV7, come to Back Benches and even a march on Parlie :-)

Haven’t updated y’all on the progress of Back Benches for a week or two, so here goes. COME ALONG TO SEE IT FILMED, IT RUNS OUT SOON!

Right, now I’ve got that off my chest, some cut’n’paste goodness and linky-love for you to play clicky with:
As you may have heard, the Back Bencher was damaged in a kitchen fire, so there’s been a lot of woe and dismay about the final three shows.
Last week’s episode was filmed in the Shepherd’s Arms in Tinakori Rd, just uphill & around the corner as it were, from BB. Notorious to a certain generation of VUW law students as the Western Park tavern, it’s now less of a booze barn and more of a heritage pub with a ‘southern’ twist. Once more, my trusty companions and I eschewed the brews for coffee and soft drinks, all the better to pay attention.
The acoustics are not great, as half the bar is incapable of seeing or hearing the set, thus talk amongst themselves. We had fun anyway, and Damian and Wallace soldiered on, attempting to get good soundbites from Nat MP Paul Goldsmith, Labour’s Clayton Cosgrove, our own lovely Julie-Anne Genter, and NZ First’s inimitable and intractable Richard Prosser.

This week, it’s the turn of Green MP Kevin Hague, Labour MP David Parker, New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin and National MP Louise Upston, with topics on ACC, Asset Sales, and Gareth Morgan’s opinions. TVNZ blurb here. Once again, at the Shepherd’s Arms Tavern in Tinakori Rd, Thorndon, get in by 6pm if you want food, or 8pm if you just want a spot to stand. Filming starts at 9.05pm, live broadcast with help from the big techy truck parked outside.
Closest thing you can get to being an unpaid extra on a film set … no, wait, it is actually being an unpaid extra on a film set. Damn, shoulda checked that with the union!

Then for even more excitement, join the Save TV7 crew for a march through Wellington on Thursday 28th June, meet at Civic Square 12 noon and march to Parliament. More at their website www.savetvnz7.co.nz, where you can also find the petition – it’s still worth signing to save our only ‘TV for grown-ups’ channel in NZ.