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Hard News: A handful of deeply precious days: a select committee submission

public address - Tue, 01/05/2018 - 4:14pm

I travelled to Wellington yesterday to give my oral submission on the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill. It was an encouraging experience.
The Health select committee had split in two to accommodate the volume of submissions and our half was chaired by Louisa Wall, with National's Nicky Wagner and Labour list MP Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki. They were a good-natured group and, I thought, quite patient with submitters, some of whom were clearly unused to such a setting. I was very impressed by the submission of Mark Crotty, who suffers from Crohn's disease. He explained how self-medicating with cannabis changed…

Up Front: The Real Victims, Here

public address - Mon, 30/04/2018 - 10:50am

The other day, I was talking to a friend about the awful petition against Debbie Hockley. He was really amused that it only had 400 signatures, and not so long ago I would have agreed with him. These poor pathetic little boys, huddled together in their internet bunkers, so terrified of women they have to threaten them with violence. Mock them. Ignore them.
The thing is, sometimes they come out of their caves, and they kill us.
If, until recently, you were unaware of the existence of incels, 1/ well done, and 2/ I’m sorry, you must have had a…

Hard News: The remarkable rise of Michael Avenatti

public address - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 12:11pm

The roiling, leaking, chaotic, corrupt White House of the current US presidency has delivered a succession of remarkable figures into the public eye. Nearly all of them are fools, grotesques or both.
But one new face is clearly neither: Michael Avenatti. Before he first presented as the lawyer for Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, last month (yes, it was only last month), Avenatti was merely a very successful California litigator – having, to take one example, successfully represented the plaintiffs in a massive $US454 million class action against a medical equipment firm.
And until then, Daniels herself had seemed buffeted, compromised…

Hard News: The shared-use path that no one will use

public address - Mon, 23/04/2018 - 6:27pm

One of the things that gives me pause before setting off on my bike from Point Chevalier to anywhere in the direction of the city is the prospect of navigating the many traffic hazards in the area either side of the St Lukes interchange on Great North Road.
So I was interested and potentially pleased when I saw that Auckland Transport has put out for consultation a shared-path upgrade that is intended to ease the passage of walkers and cyclists through this difficult area. And then I was puzzled when I saw this drawing:

The green and blue bits are…

Hard News: Friday Music: The Shopping News

public address - Fri, 20/04/2018 - 11:10am

Tomorrow, Saturday, is international Record Store Day – you can tell by the appearance of solemn thinkpieces about how Record Store Day is ruining everything. This year, it's the Chicago-based reissue label Numero Group, which which published a blast about how an event created to draw attention to independent retailers has become an excuse for major record companies to issue overpriced picture discs that no one really needs and clog up pressing plants so that honest indies can't get their records made.
And it's true, to an extent. My eyes inevitably glaze over when I look at the official list of…

Hard News: Paying for the storms to come

public address - Sun, 15/04/2018 - 4:21pm

When I wrote last week about the aftermath of the storm that struck Auckland, it was already clear that the storm's major impact was the widespread interruption of electricity supply. I noted that while we had our power back, my friends on Auckland's west coast would be waiting another day. It turned out to be a lot worse than that.
Vector's map shows there are still several large outage areas in the west of the city, along with hundreds of smaller faults in dozens of suburbs, each representing one or more household still without electricity. Some households are likely to…

Hard News: Friday Music: In troubled times, the people sing and play

public address - Fri, 13/04/2018 - 12:25pm

As every domestic political debate seems to be escalating towards hyperbole and madness, a couple of new media-political tunes have come across my desk. I feel it is important to the nation that I share these.
The first is a rework of John Campbell's brief, unhappy phone call to former EQC minister Gerry Brownlee for Checkpoint. It had a rhythm to it and just for a laugh I looped the "John" "Yes?" part of the video and tweeted it. It was a rough sort of joke, frankly. Fortunately, Wellington alt-pop combo Gold Medal Famous ran with that ball and turned…

Hard News: Big Night Outage

public address - Thu, 12/04/2018 - 11:25am

Our electricity supply returned about 2.30pm yesterday, ending an outage that began around 9pm during Tuesday night's storm in Auckland. I was grateful: our official resolution time was 6pm and I was prepared to be disappointed given the huge number of outages our lines company, Vector, was addressing. Households only a few minutes away from our place in Point Chevalier did endure another cold, dark night without power last night.
We had been prepared, to an extent, when the lights went out. I'd taken note of severe weather warnings earlier in the day and it was becoming clear that something…

Hard News: We should stop being surprised about racism

public address - Tue, 10/04/2018 - 10:37am

Fourteen years ago last month, Bic Runga flew into a storm. Down near the bottom of a glowing profile headed Is this the next Norah Jones? in Northern Ireland's Belfast Telegraph, these lines appeared:

She says her childhood was tough and racism was a constant feature.
"Relationships can be really bad between Maoris and others," she says. "The Australian situation is probably better known abroad, but unfortunately New Zealand can be a racist place too."

As luck would have it, she landed back in Auckland the day after the profile was published, to the Herald headline NZ a racist place,…

Hard News: Friday Music: A Turning Point for Tono

public address - Fri, 06/04/2018 - 5:05pm

I took the northwestern cycleway to the first of Anthonie Tonnon's season of shows with a full band last night. It marks something of a turning point:  nine of the dozen songs played were new – including one, a synth instrumental called 'Entertainment', that might be on the album after the forthcoming one.
There are some kinks to be ironed out, but it was nice both to hear a new set and to hear the songs (including the older ones) with a band filling them out. Lot 23 is both an excellent and unusual venue. The house PA, built for opera…

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