Wednesday, 17 August 2016

This is John Key's New Zealand

The New Zealand I grew up in was insular, egalitarian and a country that looked after its citizens,if in a rather patriarchal way.

Now we are a country that have normalised the rampant poverty that has overtaken us during 30 years of neo-liberalism.

I remember a quote by someone saying that they wanted to introduce the “reforms” over a 20-year period so there would be a generation that had no memory of what life was like before.

We have been so overtaken by a dairy industry that has destroyed our waterways that a large town’s drinking water has been contaminated.

We are so tied up with international chemical multinationals like Monsanto that a corrupt EPA comes up with findings that contradict what the rest of the world is finding.

We conspire with American courts to have information on human rights campaigners released to Kazakhstan.

All this the day after we learn that the NZ government co-operated in hounding a NZ citizen,building up a false case of “terrorism”.

Human rights are being destroyed as I write this.


This is the country in which I live.

Schools close, anger grows as tummy bug spreads through Havelock North
Hawke's Bay health authorities knew about faecal contamination of Havelock North's drinking water more than 24 hours before they alerted the public



15 August, 2016



The Hawke's Bay District Health Board said on Monday it believed between 1000 and 2000 people had been affected by the bug in the town's water supply, almost certainly campylobacter.

Twenty people are in hospital, including two who are critically ill, and all Havelock North schools have been closed as the community fights the spread of the vicious stomach bug.

The town's supply has been chlorinated to kill the bug, and Hastings District Council has brought in tankers of uncontaminated water so residents can fill containers from the street.


The community was first warned about the gastro illness outbreak on Friday evening, and told to boil drinking

The DHB's medical officer of health, Nick Jones, said that did not sound alarm bells because, in almost all similar cases, it turned out to be the tanker, not the water, that was contaminated

The tanker operator was told not to distribute the water, probably collected on Wednesday, and to sanitise the tanker.

Prime Minister John Key said on Monday that it was "highly likely" the Ministry of Health would hold an inquiry into the outbreak.

"The focus at the moment is on getting people well and ensuring others don't get sick. In time, however, we need to establish how this has happened and how it can be prevented from happening again."

Havelock North resident Richard Waterer talks to Gilmours Pharmacy co-owner and pharmacist Liz Dixon about treating his 80-year-old sister-in-law for the gastroenteritis bug.

He said the results of a water test were due back on Tuesday, which would confirm the cause, and whether was animal faeces.

He understood the water was tested on Tuesday last week, and the results were clear. Cases of the bug were first picked up on Wednesday and another test was done on Thursday, which showed a low degradation of the water supply.

The DHB and the council said they did not know what caused the contamination, but would hold an independent inquiry in a bid to find out, and would consider claims for compensation from those affected.

"This can never happen again," said Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule, who has apologised on behalf of the council to those affected.

The DHB is also investigating the death of an elderly resident at a Havelock North rest home, who had gastro-type symptoms. The person had been tested for campylobacter, but the results were not yet back.

With about half of all students and a large number of staff off sick, Havelock North's eight schools will be closed until Thursday.

RESIDENTS ANGRY

Among those hospitalised was Rachael Campbell, who followed instructions to keep hydrated but was drinking contaminated water.

She became sick overnight last Tuesday and had two spells in hospital.

"It wasn't until I got home [the second time] that I heard about the water [contamination]," she said.

Fiona Hosford, who has been nursing sick 8-year-old daughter Elsa since Friday, said she was angry that the first she knew of a widespread problem was when a family member called her about 8pm on Friday.

"People are not on Facebook on Friday night, and that seems to be [the authorities'] only means of communication," she said.

But Yule and the DHB said residents had been informed by various means, including news media and Facebook, as soon as information was available.

"We had 40,000 hits to our Facebook page on Friday night," the DHB said.


In previous years New Zealand never got any international media attention except as a beautiful country with lots of sheep.

Now weare getting a lot of unwelcome attention.

From alJazeerah

Homeless in New Zealand - thousands living in garages and cars



Once a pioneer of the social welfare state, New Zealand now has over 40,000 people who are homeless, forced to live in their cars and in garages as a result of rapid house price and rent rises and a shortage of social housing. Al Jazeera correspondent Tarek Bazley visits South Auckland and meets two families – one with six children living in a derelict garage, the other who lived with three teenagers for months in their car – and charts the country’s fall from and egalitarian society to one with deep divisions of wealth



And the Guardian - 

One-third of the country’s children, or 300,000, now live below the poverty line – 45,000 more than a year ago

Unicef’s definition of child poverty in New Zealand is children living in households who earn less than 60% of the median national income – NZ$28,000 a year, or NZ$550 a week.

The fact that twice as many children now live below the poverty line than did in 1984 has become New Zealand’s most shameful statistic.

We have normalised child poverty as a society – that a certain level of need in a certain part of the population is somehow OK,” says Vivien Maidaborn, executive director of Unicef New Zealand.

The empathy Kiwis are famous for has hardened. Over the last 20 years we have increasingly blamed the people needing help for the problem.

If you can’t afford your children to have breakfast, you’re a bad budgeter. If you aren’t working you’re lazy. But our subconscious beliefs about some people ‘deserving’ poverty because of poor life choices no longer apply in today’s environment. We have to ask ourselves as a society, are we really prepared to let our children grow up this way?”

For a third of New Zealand children the Kiwi dream of home ownership, stable employment and education is just that – a dream.

For poor children in the developed South Pacific nation of 4.5 million illnesses associated with chronic poverty are common, including developing world rates of rheumatic fever (virtually unknown by doctors in comparable countries such as Canada and the UK), and respiratory illnesses.

Meals are irregular and nutritionally poor, consisting of meat pies, hot chips and 99c white bread. School attendance may be patchy or skipped entirely, and protective clothing and footwear for the harsh New Zealand climate is a luxury.

While poor children don’t die of starvation in New Zealand, they increasingly live a strained existence.

Poor children in New Zealand don’t fully participate in life, they miss out on so many things that make life rich and meaningful,” says Linda Murphy, a social worker with the Auckland City Mission. “Like music, like sport, like a full education, like the expectation that they will grow up and find a job.

The momentum in these young lives becomes about survival, nothing else.”....[ ]


This excellent documentary by Alister Barry tells how all this started.



NZ EPA glyphosate findings biased due to Monsanto connection




16 August, 2016


In 2015, the New Zealand Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came under public fire for electing chief executive Allan Freeth, former CEO of PGG Wrightson and vocal supporter of genetic engineering.

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This is due to a strong conflict of interest previously supporting big biotech corporations like Monsanto, and now being in charge of protecting New Zealand’s environment from the same corporations that he used to work closely with.
It’s then of no surprise to see an EPA commissioned review of glyphosate, the main ingredient in the controversial Monsanto weed killer RoundUp, claim it is “unlikely” to be carcinogenic to humans.

Last year, PGG Wrightson took over exclusive wholesale rights to Monsanto’s Roundupherbicide. Combine this with Freeth’s years spent in corporate boardrooms partnering with Monsanto, the conflict and bias becomes clear.
This is an excellent example of corporations exerting control over the science via calculated placement of figures into positions of power, despite obvious conflicts of interests.

Green MP Steffan Browning has been vocal on the topic, especially the appointment of Freeth to the EPA: “He was the person that bought genetic engineering to Wrightsons, and they’ve been the one that have been pushing for the forages particularly to be genetically engineered and was baiting his frustration with the regulatory position at the time that was holding up those things getting out into the environment effectively.”

The glyphosate report was produced by Dr Wayne Temple, a retired consultant toxicologist who has also recently produced a statement of evidence commissioned by Canterbury Aggregate Producers for their application to deepen Christchurch quarries below water table levels. This application has resulted in opposition by both Christchurch City Council (CCC) and Environment Canterbury (ECan), with the majority of public submissions received being in strong opposition to the deepening due to the potential damage the city’s water tables.
Rather than undertake New Zealand based research on glyphosate, Temple’s conclusions were formed through review of overseas studies. His opinion differs greatly to the findings of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which concludedthrough the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

The IARC note that ‘glyphosate has been linked to tumors in mice and rats — and there is also what the IARC classifies as ‘mechanistic evidence’, such as DNA damage to human cells from exposure to glyphosate.

Kathryn Guyton, a senior toxicologist at the IARC and one of the authors of the studycommented“In the case of glyphosate, because the evidence in experimental animals was sufficient and the evidence in humans was limited, that would put the agent into group 2A.”

EPA manager of hazardous substances and new organisms Asela Atapattu suggested the reason for the commissioned report was to address New Zealand local councils’ growing concerns surrounding the currently popular weed killer by providing them with some ‘real science’.

It’s clear that in this case, ‘real science’ is simply a vested interest opinion commissioned by those with ties to the corporations who stand to lose millions in profit if glyphosate is banned, being lazily broadcast in the media by NZ Farmer editor Gerard Hutching as new scientific findings.

For almost five decades big tobacco corporations joined forces to fight against the mounting scientific evidence of the drug’s addictive and harmful effects to human health to protect profits. The tactic behind avoiding the facts shown by data and argued by scientists is known as shedding reasonable doubt, and is today still used tomanipulate consumers into doubting scientific evidence.

This is currently evident in New Zealand in terms of glyphosate, due to the recent public petitions raising safety concerns with local councils and requesting the product be banned. The inevitable response of funding reports denying the dangers of glyphosate can be clearly seen as an attempt to manipulate public opinion to keep their product on the shelves.

Overseas, a recent survey found that two thirds of Europeans support a complete ban of glyphosate due to the dangers to public health. It’s not surprising when traces have been found in the urine of people from 18 different European countriesas well as in 60% of breads sold in the UK.

By sharing unfounded reports, peer reviewed by only the EPA and Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), those with vested interests protecting GE and glyphosate have begun seeding doubt into the minds of the public through an ever obliging media, which for years has been lacking the fundamentals of proper journalism.

Allan Freeth has a clear conflict of interest in his appointment to the EPA having previous strong ties to big biotech corporation Monsanto, and any reports commissioned under his leadership should be disregarded in favour of analysing the real science currently used by the WHO in determining danger to the general public.

Freeth should be removed as CEO of the NZ EPA and replaced with a chair that does not have clear ties to the corporations which our environment needs to be protected from.


Kazakhstan demands Kim Dotcom's old firm Mega hand over data



Kazakhstan has won a legal battle in New Zealand against the Kim Dotcom-founded Mega company over an alleged hack on government computer systems.

The government of Kazakhstan claimed thousands of sensitive "stolen documents" were uploaded on an archived website hosted by Mega Ltd.

Mega said on Thursday the request and the new High Court judgment were concerning, given Kazakhstan's abysmal human rights record.

The former Soviet republic claimed links to the stolen documents on Mega's website were also posted on another site, Kazaword.

It asked the High Court in Auckland to issue a subpoena, requiring a Mega representative to attend court for examination, and to produce documents in Mega's possession.

Mega opposed the application.

But in a decision released on Thursday evening, Justice Simon Moore directed Mega to return to court, and produce documents to identify the IP addresses and email addresses of some of its users.

Mega was also directed to share these users' contact details, as well as account and payment information.

The judge said Mega's testimony and documentary evidence would have to be given to a United States district court judge in New York.

Kazakhstan filed a civil action in the United States against the alleged hacker or hackers. The New York court then asked for the New Zealand courts' assistance to get the necessary information.

However, the judge said Kazakhstan would have to pay all "reasonable" costs incurred by Mega in supplying the US court with this information.

Lawyer Daniel Kalderimis​, acting for Kazakhstan, said the republic's application was granted "in its entirety" and now he would need to liaise with Mega's lawyers to make sure both parties had a way of carrying out the judgment.

Mega chairman Stephen Hall said it had been an expensive legal battle so far.

"Obviously we're very disappointed ... We're very concerned about the human rights record of the Kazakhstan government."

Hall said there was no evidence the actual hacker was the same person who uploaded the documents to Mega.

He said law-abiding Mega customers had no cause to be concerned about their data being shared in relation to the Kazakhstan case.

Mega would take legal advice over the next few days over how to proceed.

Jesse Seang Ty Nguy​ and John Andrew Sorensen​ are Mega's two other current directors.

Human Rights Watch said Kazakhstan heavily restricted freedom of assembly, speech, and religion, and in recent years jailed or fined dozens of people after peaceful, unsanctioned protests.

Dotcom founded Megaupload in 2005, and relaunched it as Mega in 2013, a year after the dramatic armed raid on his Coatesville mansion.

He has since disowned the company. Last year he told Newshub that Hollywood interests had seized all the Mega shares in a family trust established for his children.


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