Thursday 28 May 2015

New Zealand stories - 05/27/2015

Somebody has done this wonderful graphic of John Key transforming into Adolf Hitler. Nothing could personify the transfornation of NZ society as this does.

We have the ongoing sagas of New Zealand troops in Iraq without a vote in parliament or public debate as well as a bribe paid to a Saudi businessman to set up a farm to stave up being sued for the country banning live sheep export.

Welcome to the Brave New World future of the TPPA.

Kiwi troops in Iraq 'could be executed' by ISIS – expert

27 May, 2015

New Zealand troops in Iraq are in danger of being executed by Islamic State fighters, an international law professor says.

Iraqi forces lost the city of Ramadi to ISIS around two weeks ago. Ramadi is just over 90km from Taji where 143 New Zealand troops are based.

Professor Al Gillespie told TVNZ's Breakfast programme this morning the Kiwi troops are at risk from ISIS.

This assessment is at odds with Prime Minister John Key's assertion this week the ISIS advance isn't putting the New Zealand troops in danger.

"The risk is if ISIS get through to our soldiers they could be executed," Mr Gillespie said.

"There's no crime ISIS hasn't committed. Rape, execution of prisoners, looting - it's all there. There's nothing they haven't done."

Mr Gillespie says it's becoming more likely Western group troops will be deployed in Iraq.

Currently the New Zealand troops in Iraq are only tasked with training Iraqi Army troops.

But if the United States decide to deploy ground troops to fight ISIS, Mr Gillespie believes it's likely New Zealand will be asked to contribute fighting troops as well.

Earlier this week Mr Key was asked if there was an exit strategy for New Zealand troops.

He said there are early warnings situations that determine whether things need to be reviewed and at this point those warnings have not been triggered

Government accused of bribery over farm
The Government has been accused of paying a bribe and doing dodgy deals after pouring more than $11 million of taxpayer money into an influential Saudi businessman's farm.

Sheep grazing in Waikato, New ZealandNine hundred sheep were flown to Hamood Al-Ali Al-Khalaf's farm in Saudi Arabia.Photo: 123rf

28 May, 2015

But the Government said the businessman, Hamood Al-Ali Al-Khalaf, could have successfully sued it for $30 million and it could have been facing an even bigger bill.

Mr Khalaf's anger with New Zealand, after it cancelled live sheep exports in 2004, was described in Cabinet documents made public this week as a major threat to the country's economic interests.

As part of the deal to try to placate the Saudi businessman, who was furious that he had lost many millions of dollars, 900 sheep were flown to his farm in the Saudi Arabian desert.

Green MP James Shaw said the Government had done an unethical and dodgy deal.

"What we seem to be doing is taking taxpayer money, giving it wholesale to the Al-Khalaf group for their private business in Saudi Arabia in order to have him stop resisting the trade deal," he said.

"They're essentially buying off Mr Al-Khalaf."

Labour's David Parker said the money poured into Mr Khalaf's farm was simply a bribe.

"This idea that because you have a disaffected businessman you should pay him up to $4 million, plus $6 million for a model farm on his property, in order to buy his support for a free trade agreement with Saudi Arabia is corrupt."

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said the former Labour Government had poisoned the relationship between New Zealand and the Gulf States.

"The New Zealand Government was also exposed to a legal claim of up to $30 million."

But Mr Parker said no legal papers were ever filed.

"This is another part of the giant lie. There is nothing illegal about New Zealand having a ban on the export of live sheep for slaughter, indeed the current Government has continued with that ban."

The Air Force 757 that carried the Prime Minister's party on the runway in Riyadh, with red carpet.The Air Force 757 that carried the Prime Minister's entourage on his recent trip to the Gulf States in Riyadh.   Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Prime Minister John Key said the deal had led to a practical and pragmatic outcome.

"The lawsuit that the gentleman might have taken had nothing to do with the FTA [free trade agreement]. It was totally about what he believed were the assurances made to him by previous governments and whether he would lose money.
"A factor that might help us is that we might also get an FTA, but it was just one factor, there was no guarantee.

"When we did this deal we didn't say 'this will get us a deal', it was just one of the factors that was there."

Mr Khalaf is also a stakeholder in Hawke's Bay company Brownrigg Agriculture, which won the Government contract to deliver the goods and services to his own Saudi farm.

A good expose by TVNZ of the money being paid out in the government's bribe.

Exclusive: Saudi sheep farm cost taxpayers millions more than first thought

For video GO HERE

The total amount of taxpayer dollars spent to equip a Saudi Arabian farm is $4million more than previously thought, ONE News can reveal.

Initially it was thought $7.5million had been spent on sheep and farming equipment for Saudi businessman Al Ali Al Khalaf who was upset with New Zealand's live sheep export ban.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully revised that number when he told ONE News he "thinks the total budget is about $11.5million over three years".

And ongoing pain for farmers because of tanking commodity prices and el-Nino-fuelled drought. Again, welcome to the future - it ain't going to get any better, ever.

Farmers resigned to another tough year

Farmers are bracing for another year of poor payouts for their milk as Fonterra announces its forecast farmgate milk price for the next 12 months this morning.

Farmers and analysts said the price for the season was expected to be around $5.50 a kilogram of milk solids, below the break-even point for many farms.

There has been intense interest in how the next season is shaping up after last season's payment fell to an eight-year low of $4.50 a kilo of milk solids, nearly half the previous year's record of $8.40.

Just in this afternoon

Dairy cow.The country's biggest dairy company, Fonterra, has hit its farmer suppliers with a double whammy.

More cutbacks at Fairfax which produces the worst newspapers imaginable while someone has come up with the sick joke of replacing Campbell Live with Road Cops. Did the suggestion come down from John Key?

Disestablishing the editorial staff ... you can guarantee this is another wave of purges ... conglomeration continues, flushing the journalists ... flush, flush, flush ... get rid of dissent...

"In a proposal presented to staff, more than 180 editorial positions will be disestablished, including many roles in digital news production.

Dozens of new roles will also be created in what the company calls "a transformational programme . . . referred to as 'Modern Newsroom'.
---Alan Radianstrat

Major restructure announced at Fairfax newspapers

A huge shake-up is under way at New Zealand's biggest publisher of news Fairfax Media, with dozens of journalists' jobs at stake.

Fairfax Media owns the Waikato Times, The Dominion Post, The Press, The Sunday Star Times, and many other newspapers - and the website

In a proposal presented to staff, more than 180 editorial positions will be disestablished, including many roles in digital news production.

While everyone else outside the 1% goes to the wall MP's get a payrise. "Less than expected" – so that's alright. LOL

MPs are set to receive pay rises, but much smaller ones than were proposed in February.

MPs to get pay rise, but by much less than expected

And last, but not least – corruption in this country

Police cleared over Banks investigation

A team of five detectives who probed John Banks' Auckland mayoral campaign funding held a robust investigation free of political interference, a report has found.

Police received complaints about Banks' 2010 campaign funding but decided in 2012 not to prosecute due to a lack of evidence.

That led to five complaints from individuals about the police investigation.

A report by the Independent Police Conduct Authority was released on Thursday.

"The report has found that the investigation conducted by the Police was comprehensive and thorough. In the Authority's view, all documentation that was relevant to the inquiry was obtained, and all relevant witnesses who could be identified were interviewed," IPCA chairmain Judge Sir David Carruthers, said

"The Authority is satisfied, from its inquiry and interviews, that there was no interference or pressure on the investigation team from the police executive or politically."

"Police concluded that they could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that at the time Mr Banks signed the return he did so knowing that the particular donations were falsely recorded as anonymous. It was reasonable for Police to reach their own judgment on evidential sufficiency and therefore not to prosecute Mr Banks," Carruthers said

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