Wednesday, 29 July 2015

New Zealand: Cameron Slater being sued

I would support even Colin Craig against the toxic Cameron Slater 

Colin Craig to take legal action

Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig says he has been the victim of a co-ordinated political attack and is taking legal action.

Colin Craig during the press conference announcing his resignation as leader of the Conservative Party (19 June).Colin Craig - pictured at a news conference earlier in 2015. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

28 July, 2015

He has announced he is suing blogger Cameron Slater and a former party board member for what he calls a campaign of lies from the "dirty politics brigade".

Mr Craig stepped down as party leader last month amid allegations of inappropriate conduct with his former press secretary, Rachel MacGregor.

He and his wife, Helen Craig, said today they wanted to expose what they said were false and absurd allegations about him.

Mr Craig has published a booklet, which he said contained correspondence between Mr Slater and one of the party's former board members, John Stringer.
The couple are also suing Jordan Williams, who they describe as Mr Slater's apprentice.

Mr Craig told Checkpoint he was suing the trio for defamation to protect his political credщbility.

"Going to the court and have the court rule on whether these guys are telling the truth or whether I'm telling the truth does matter," he said.

"That's what political credibility is about. Who's telling the truth? Am I honest or are they honest? We can't both be right. The public do need to know."

Mr Craig said he was willing to return to politics if the public wanted him to.

Listen to Colin Craig on Checkpoint ( 5 min 22 esc )

AUDIO: Colin Craig a 'ratbag' and threat to sue 'laughable' - Cameron Slater

Listen to audio HERE

John Key and Tim Groser are selling this country down the drain.  Winston Peters calls him (correctly) a 'double agent'

TPP: Key lobbying for dairy concessions

Prime Minister John Key. Photo / Mark Mitchell

29 July, 2015

Prime Minister John Key says he has been personally calling other Pacific Rim countries' leaders to lobby for dairy concessions in the Trans Pacific Partnership.

As the 12-nation trade deal negotiations enter the final stretch, Mr Key said New Zealand was gaining some support on its demands for the dairy industry.

"I'm in the process of making phone calls to leaders and others to encourage them to see it our way. Let's sort of see how it goes," he said.

The Prime Minister would not reveal who he was speaking to, but said he had personally called "a number of people".

"We're presenting the strongest case we possibly can on behalf of a very important sector for New Zealand."

More favourable market access and reduced trade tariffs for New Zealand's dairy industry are a key condition of New Zealand's support for the TPP.

Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand chairman Malcolm Bailey, who is at the TPP talks in Hawaii, said the industry was concerned about reports that some countries were pushing New Zealand to accept a substandard outcome for dairy access.

"There is no good reason for dairy to be left behind in this agreement," he said.

Mr Bailey said the TPP needed to set a high quality framework for others to join at a later date, including possibly China.

He said China had already entered agreements that included the complete elimination of tariffs with New Zealand, and "it would be very strange if TPP were to be less liberal than those agreements."

Mr Key was also asked about whether New Zealand would still be able to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes under the TPP without risk of being directly sued by tobacco companies.

Australia's legal bill for defending its plain packaging regime has so far cost around $50 million.

New Zealand has been closely watching the legal challenges across the Tasman because it expects to face similar multi-million dollar lawsuits if it introduces plain packs.

Mr Key said that if investor state dispute settlements provisions - which could allow corporates to sue governments for unfavourable policy - were included in the TPP, he was confident that they would be accompanied by safeguards.

Asked whether it would prevent New Zealand from introducing the anti-smoking policy, Mr Key said: "I don't think it will, but as you're aware we're not even signed up to TPP yet and we've been awaiting the outcome of the Australian case."

Australia's negotiators are also pushing to have medicine patents limited at five years, while the United States wants them to last for 12 years.

Mr Key would not reveal New Zealand's position, but hinted that it was similar to Australia's.

"One would assume we're going for the shorter period," he said. He would not comment on whether New Zealand would agree to a 12-year limit.

Some reportage from Radio New Zealand

Tim Groser says TPPA finish line is in sight

How Canada sees us

The ‘Saudi Arabia of milk’ pushes Canada to open its dairy market

Stephen Harper begins a second Pacific Rim trip this month in New Zealand, a natural ally on nearly every topic except for Canada’s heavily sheltered dairy industry, where the small country that’s been dubbed the “Saudi Arabia of milk” is hoping regional free-trade talks will pry open Canadian markets.

And from this morning, Canada is not happy. I looked in vain for any Canadian coverage of the TPP

Tim Groser a "double agent against our interests" - Winston Peters

Listen to Winston Peters talk to Sean Plunket HERE

Greek collapse - 07/28/2015

Greek Economy Faces Total Collapse As Doctors Flee, Retail Sales Plunge 70%

28 July, 2015

Back in May we outlined the cost to the Greek economy of each day without a deal between Athens and creditors.

At the time, a report from the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Enterprises showed that 60 businesses closed and 613 jobs were lost for each business day that the crisis persisted without a resolution. 

Since then, things have deteriorated further and indeed, with the imposition of capital controls, businesses found that supplier credit was difficult to come by, leading to the very real possibility that Greece would soon face a shortage of imported goods, something many Greeks clearly anticipated in the wake of the referendum call as evidenced by the lines at gas stations and empty shelves at grocery stores.

As a reminder, here’s what WSJ said earlier this month:

Wholesalers can’t pay for supplies. Importers’ foreign counterparts won’t trade. 
Greece’s cash crunch hit small merchants first. They are less able to get credit from their suppliers, especially those dealing in perishable products that are continually imported. Christos Georgiopoulos owns a gourmet supermarket in Plaka, a picturesque Athens neighborhood frequented by tourists. He sells Champagne and Russian crab legs. 
Nobody is buying. "I haven’t had a single customer in two days," he said Wednesday. He is shutting down his shop and says he doesn’t know when he will reopen. He gave some crab legs to his workers and is taking some home. "I haven’t paid my staff and don’t know if and when I will," he added.

And then there was this rather disconcerting commentary from AFP

Greece's dive into financial uncertainty is forcing struggling businesses to take unusual steps to survive, including hoarding euros in cash.
Businesses which import their raw materials have been the hardest hit, says Vassilis Korkidis, head of the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE).
As unease spreads, getting ones hands on cash has become a sort of national sport, with businesses from restaurants to car mechanics telling customers paying by card is no longer an option.

The inevitable result of the above is that banks’ already stratospheric NPLs are set to rise further meaning that with each passing day, the banking sector’s recapitalization needs grow as the economy sinks further into depression. 

Perhaps now that the "Quadriga" (the new moniker for Athens’ creditors which was ostensibly adopted to reflect the fact that there are now four institutions involved rather than three but which incidentally conjures images of the triumphant statue atop the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin) has touched down in Athens, creditors’ "technical teams" will get a good hard look at what happens when you force deep fiscal retrenchment on a country whose economy is collapsing and then rub salt in the wound by cutting off liquidity and enforcing capital controls. 

Here’s some color on just how dire the economic situation has become, via Kathimerini:

Turnover in retail commerce is posting an annual drop that in some cases amounts to 70 percent even though the market is in a sales period. Capital controls have prevented Greek consumers from shopping, while even foreign tourists appear reserved due to the increased uncertainty on developments in Greece.
An extraordinary meeting of the board of the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE) on Monday heard data from representatives of local associations that pointed to an annual drop of between 40 and 70 percent since the capital controls were imposed.
In Athens, the decline came to 40 percent, while in markets outside the city center it was even greater. Thessaloniki and Piraeus reported a 60 percent fall and Trikala, in central Greece, a 60-70 percent shrinking. Even tourism hotspots such as Rhodes had a 50 percent decline in turnover.

And a bit more from Greek Reporter:

The Athens Medical Association (ISA) warned about major shortages in medical staff over the next years, since an increasing number of Greek doctors, especially those working in highly specialized fields, and nurses are looking for jobs abroad and leaving the country.
According to the association’s figures, more than 7,500 doctors have migrated to other countries since 2010. It was reported that in the first six months of 2015, ISA issued 790 certificates of competence, an official document required for medical sector employees who wish to work abroad. However, the report also noted that up until 2009, on average, 550 doctor were taking jobs abroad each year.
"One of the biggest losses in the crisis has been that of great minds," ISA chief Giorgos Patoulis stated to Greek newspaper Kathimerini. "In a short time, the national healthcare system will have an aged personnel and will be unable to staff services."
Furthermore, the data showed that a total of 8,000 unemployed Greeks have been forced to look for job opportunities abroad. The Greek Nurses Union announced that it issued 349 certificates just last year, 357 in 2012 and 74 certificates in 2010.

And don't expect this situation to improve any time soon because despite the passage of two sets of prior bailout measures, still more austerity will need to be pushed through the Greek parliament if Athens hopes to activate bailout funds by August 20, in time to make a €3.2 billion payment to the ECB. Here's Reuters: 

"More reforms are expected from the Greek authorities to allow for a swift disbursement under the ESM. This is also what is being discussed right now," [and EU Commission spokesperson] said.
The banks have reopened after the ECB increased emergency funding but capital controls remain in place. Doubts persist about whether a severely weakened Greek economy can support another programme after a six-year slump that has cut output by a quarter and sent unemployment over 25 percent.
Among politically sensitive measures held back from the initial package were curbs on early retirement and changes in the taxation of farmers to close loopholes that are highly costly for the Greek state. A source close to the talks said these reforms were expected to be enacted by mid-August.
However, touching pensions is sensitive with Tsipras's left-wing Syriza party, which has already suffered a substantial revolt over the Brussels agreement, and the main opposition New Democracy party opposes ending tax breaks for farmers.

In other words, Tsipras is about to go back to parliament and attempt to pass a third set of prior actions that will further imperil Greeks' ability to spend, and he must do so quickly because if creditors aren't satisfied with the progress by August 18, then paying the ECB won't be possible and then it's either tap the remainder of the funds in the EFSM (which would require still more discussions with the UK and other decidedly unwilling non-euro states) or risk losing ELA which would trigger the complete collapse of not only the economy but the banking sector and then, in short order, the government.

And through it all, Tsipras is attempting to beat back a Syriza rebellion (which will only be exacerbated by the upcoming vote on the third set of measures) while convincing the opposition that he's not secretly backing the very same Syriza rebels in their attempts to forcibly take the country back to the drachma. 

The only real question at this point is whether Greece can possibly navigate the next several months without descending into outright chaos, politically, economically, and socially

The Guardian is a right wing newspaper now

This article made one thing clear to me. The old Trust that ran the Guardian is long-since gone.  I used to be an avid reader of the Guardian, but that was in the 1990's and mostly before 9/11.

Now the Guardian is a right-wing newspaper and one of the mainstays of Empire.

The Guardian has morphed into The Daily Mail (so elect Corbyn and ignore them)

26 July, 2015

The Guardian has become a liberal frosted version of The Daily Mail. You think not? Read on…

Like the BBC – The Guardian is not independent, the old Scott Trust was wound up in 2008 and replaced by a limited company of which venture capital firm Apax Partners is the sole shareholder.

Apax Partners appoints a board to run the show – the composition of which might startle those who still regard The Guardian as a left leaning newspaper.
Neil Berkitt – a former banker (Lloyds, St George Bank) who then helped vulture capitalist Richard Branson with Virgin Media.
David Pemsel – Former head of marketing at ITV.
Nick Backhouse – On the board of the bank of Queensland, formerly with Barings Bank.
Ronan Dunne -  On the Telefónica Europe plc board, Chairman of Tesco Mobile. He has also worked at Banque Nationale de Paris plc.
Judy Gibbons -  Judy is currently a non-executive director of retail property kings Hammerson, previously with O2, Microsoft, Accel Partners (venture capital), Apple and Hewlett Packard.
Jennifer Duvalier – Previously in management consultancy and banking.
Brent Hoberman – Old Etonian with fingers in various venture capital pies including car rental firm EasyCar.
Nigel Morris – chairman of network digital marketing giants Aegis Media.
John Paton – CEO of Digital First Media – a very large media conglomerate which was sued successfully in the U.S. for rigging advertising rates.
Katherine Viner – Startlingly not a banker, in marketing or venture capital. She is I gather (gulp) a journalist.
Darren Singer – formerly with BSkyB, the BBC and Price Waterhouse Coopers.

the only remaining guy is the secretary Philip Tranter – but don’t worry, he is a proper sort from some posh law firms in London.

If any of the members of the Guardian Media Group get bored they can surely get a slot with the BBC Trust which is also stuffed full of bankers and establishment big wigs.

Guardian Royal Wedding

Note the total absence of any trade unionists, social workers, activists or erm journalists (save for Editor in chief Ms Vine).

The Guardian is owned by a venture capital firm and run by people predominantly from banking, venture capital and marketing – with all manner of connections to companies like Virgin Media, Tesco, O2, Microsoft, HP etc.

Perhaps this explains its well documented expertise in off shore tax avoidance schemes…

the abrupt dismissal of dissenting voices,

its hysterical reaction to the notion of Scottish Independence…
(I could post hundreds of other links on this topic!)

and the patronising smear campaign now being waged 24/7 against Jeremy Corbyn.

Since it has emerged that Jeremy is popular with the kind of ordinary people whose concerns are beneath the lofty machinations of the Guardian Media Group - their determination to rubbish the Corbyn campaign for leadership of The Labour Party and support his rivals has reached a farcical fever pitch.

and this is but a FRACTION of the smug patronising abuse that Corbyn and his supporters have been treated to over the last few days.

The intention is to create a climate of opinion in which any deviation from the terms and conditions The Guardian has placed on political debate remain unchallenged. 

The Guardian has spent years defining the ‘centre ground’ so that it takes place within a neoliberal fantasy land, one which facilitates a cosy relationship with wealth and power.

The Guardian is a right wing newspaper now.

The few dissenting voices it allows space for are merely fig leaves for a right wing bias disguised as ‘balanced’ journalism. 

The heavy lifting of foisting its fictional credibility onto the public is left to its churnalist live blogs, stories fed to them by PR agencies and political spin doctors , stories copied straight from the wire agencies like AP and worst of all, its tiresome clutch of factory hen hacks like Andrew Rawnsley & Martin Kettle <shudder>

and shall we mention its commitment to…


to name but a few…


and best of all, just what has The Guardian done about Climate Change?

Eagle eyed readers might have already spotted that with The Guardian running full steam ahead on expensive consumerism, foreign travel and reviews of expensive new motors a position on climate change might prove difficult.

The Guardian could never put forward alternatives to consumerism, endless growth or advocate banking reform or strong state intervention, so instead they wrote to a billionaire friend (Bill Gates) and asked if he wouldn’t mind rearranging the investment portfolio of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (and drop its shares in Shell etc)

Sadly Bill was not minded to listen to pious waffle from The Guardian on climate change and so that was pretty much the end of the campaign which has softly faded from view…

What can do we about this?

We can accept the truth – and this is very important – there is no liberal media in this country anymore, capital has bought it all.

Since no one in the media and very few in the political establishment will support any progressive change whatsoever, we shall have to simply ignore the media and the political establishment and force their hand anyway.

Politicians will always gracefully accept what they cannot prevent – any change will have to come from grassroots activism supporting the concerns of ordinary people.

and we can tell The Guardian to fuck off – that we’re tired of being patronised, insulted, stereotyped and demeaned.


and we can ignore the panic of the corporate media and elect Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party.

They are frightened of Jeremy and they are frightened of us – its time to realise their worst nightmares and reclaim the space for political debate and action for ourselves

Why Jeremy Corbyn is terrifying the London elite
by Craig Murray

28 July, 2015

For a decade, I have argued that democracy in the UK is dysfunctional because an entrenched party system offers no real choice. The major parties offer political programmes which are virtually indistinguishable. As I put it in lectures, if the range of possible political programmes were placed on a linear scale from 1 to 100, the Labour and Conservative parties offer you the choice between 81 and 84.

This exclusion of political possibility is reinforced by a corporate media structure, led by the BBC, in which ideas outside the narrow band of establishment consensus are ridiculed and denigrated. Therefore even political ideas which have the consistent support of the majority of the population, such as nationalisation of railways and other natural monopolies including utilities, simply cannot get an airing. Of all the broadcast coverage of the Iraq War, less than 3% gave time to anti-war voices, despite a majority opinion against the war.

This phenomenon explains why a large majority of both Conservative and Labour MPs are members of the Friends of Israel when public opinion consistently sympathises more with Palestine. It also explains the quite extraordinary media onslaught against Scottish independence.

I pointed out that Nicola Sturgeon’s appearance in the TV leadership debates was the first major airing of an anti-Trident argument on broadcast media in England for a decade. Actually hearing anti-austerity arguments led to a huge surge in support for the SNP in England as well as Scotland.

Now Jeremy Corbyn, having obtained a platform where on occasion he has been able to have his views broadcast direct without media mediation, is experiencing a massive surge of support. Ed Miliband’s lasting achievement is that he managed to put the ordinary people who marched against the Iraq War in charge of the Labour Party, not the careerist Blairite committee manipulators. The result is stunning.

The sheer panic gripping the London elite now is hilarious to behold. Those on the favoured side of Britain’s enormous wealth gap are terrified by the idea that there may be a genuine electoral challenge to neo-liberalism, embodied in one of the main party structures. This is especially terrifying to those who became wealthy by hijacking the representation of the working class to the neo-liberal cause. The fundamental anti-democracy of the Blairites is plainly exposed, and the panic-driven hysterical hate-fest campaign against Corbyn by the Guardian would be unbelievable, if we hadn’t just seen exactly the same campaign by the same paper against the rejection of neo-liberalism in Scotland.

I think I am entitled to say I told you so. Many people appear shocked to have discovered the Guardian is so anti-left wing. I have been explaining this in detail for years. It is good to feel vindicated, and even better that the people I have repeatedly shared platforms with, like Jeremy and Mhairi, are suddenly able to have the genuinely popular case they make listened to. Do I feel a little left behind, personally? Probably, but I would claim to have contributed a little to the mood, and particularly my article on the manufactured myth that the left is unelectable has been extremely widely shared – by hundreds of thousands – in the social media storm that is propelling the Corbyn campaign.

There has been very little comment on the impact a Corbyn victory would have on the SNP. Indeed, despite being unbendingly unionist, the Scottish media have been unable to avoid representing by omission the fact that the Labour leadership contest is taking place almost entirely in another country with another political culture. But there is no doubt that a Corbyn-led Labour Party would be more attractive in Scotland than the Tory lite version, although the paucity of Labour’s Scottish leadership would be a constant factor. Much would depend on the wider question of how the careerists who make up most Labour MPs and MSPs would react to a Corbyn victory.

At Westminster, I can see no reason at all why Liz Kendall, Chuka Umunna and their like cannot simply cross the floor and become Tories. Cameron is astute enough to find junior ministerial positions for them and the Tory ranks would be elated enough to swallow it. But most of the careerists will look at their new constituency members and suddenly discover left wing principles. It will be less bloody than people expect.

In Scotland, a Corbyn victory will bring some swing back to Labour from the SNP, but most of the old Labour demographic have now set their hearts on independence. Should Corbyn actually look set to win a UK general election in 2020, that would very possibly dent the enthusiasm for independence at the margins. It would in no sense reduce my own desire for independence, but even I would feel it less urgent. A Corbyn led UK would not cause the same feeling of moral revulsion. All of which is a good argument for having the next referendum early.

Should Corbyn not win the Labour leadership, the effect will be opposite. The SNP will be boosted by the death of the last hope that the Labour Party might actually mean something again, rather than be a vehicle for soulless careerists spouting management-manual jargon. If Corbyn loses, the Labour Party in Scotland really might as well wind up. The cause of independence will be furthered.

So what do I want to happen? I want Jeremy to win, of course, deeply and sincerely. I am an internationalist and not a Machiavellian. I want the chance of a just society and an ethical foreign policy for England and Wales. Like me, Jeremy wants to see Ireland eventually united. I have never discussed Scottish independence with him, but I am quite sure his opposition is not of the Britnat imperialist variety.

You can be sure that the security services are heavily targeted on the Corbyn campaign. Allow me one last “I told you so”. I came in for much ridicule when I stated, from certain knowledge, that MI5 were targeted on Scottish Nationalists (I had actually been shown the tasking). This comes into the category of obvious truths which the media and political consensus seeks to deny. The ridicule even came from some within the SNP – which, like any other organisation deemed a threat to the UK, is itself penetrated by the security services. Well, now that truth has become mainstream too. I do not anticipate any apologies.