Monday, August 10, 2009

Kill everybody

"In April, they told us, "In a crowded area, if one person shoots at you, kill everybody."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Beware Auckland City

Auckland City Council is dominated by free-market and neoliberal proponents. There is an almost desperate need amongst the Citizens & Ratepayers councilors, who constitute a majority on most city boards, to promote maximization of performance and financial productivity as the sole motivating factor behind almost all of decision making. And there is constant rhetorical recourse to making these financial savings for the sake of all ratepayers among this group. The overwhelming problem with this is that by only focusing on a single bottom-line the C & R are selling a short term Auckland to residents at the expense of long term sustainability and the development of a truly world class city. And, lets be frank, C&R are not working for the average ratepayers interests, they're working for the interests of developers, and multinational corporate and business interests. If you look at just who they are and where they come from , you'll quickly see that thats who they are as well; and it's not ratepayers interests, it's their interests that will ultimately gain from the injustices that they're dealing out upon the rest of Auckland's ratepayers.

For example:

David Hay is the son of Keith Hay, a former Mayor of Mt Roskill Borough Council, and is a director of the company founded by his father, Keith Hay Homes, a prominent New Zealand home construction company. Hay is known for the advocacy of Christian conservative values and is one of the founding members of the socially and economically conservative Maxim Institute think tank in Auckland. I also understand from an acquaintance on the Waiheke ferry that at one point in the 1970's he had yoga banned from Mt. Roskill!!!

Aaron Bhatnagar former member of the ACT party and now National party supporter ( he thought it was better for his political career) was reportedly a boy-racer of some repute in his St Kentigern College days in 1990's, seen on numerous occasions speeding down Remuera road in his yellow ... Ferrari! His dad Sir Rajeshewar Sarup (Roger) Bhatnagar was owner of the Sound Plus chain that became Noel Leeming when he and associate Greg Lancaster bought the Leeming business. He was the owner of a number of exotic cars as well as a 50ft launch, Enigma, and a fast catamaran-style launch called FU2, which is used to commute from Auckland to a property on Kawau Island in the Hauraki Gulf.

These two guys run the City Development Committee along with the support of David Rafkin, of whom the Auckland City website says is involved in the "... endless search for productivity and efficiency gains", and John Duthie a career bureaucrat supporting C&R policies and with a pro-development agenda.

Waiheke Waste Debacle

Lets make no mistake on this issue; it was the Citizens and Ratepayers councillors on the City Development Committee, David Rankin the Chief Executive, and John Duthie who sold out an internationally recognized, locally revered, and innovative community based organisation dealing more than effectively with waste issues on Waiheke Island (43% diverted from landfill compared to Auckland's 16%) to an Australian multinational corporation, Transpacific Industries. This is a company that is $2.1 Billion in debt and who's owner, Terry Peabody, threatened shareholders of NZ company Waste Management in 2006 that if his take over bid was not successful he would move in and compete with them anyways. Peabody has other interests in New Zealand, his family owns a number of wineries, the most well known being Craggy Range.

The tender process was skewed from the start towards a change of service provider by undervaluing and under-representing the social and educational processes and value that the current provider has increasingly shown are a significant part of the recycling and recovery process, and by continuously undermining the right of Waiheke residents to speak during the tender process. An email from late 2008 from a employee of Auckland City Council to the consultant writing the initial report on waste on Waiheke was uncovered and widely circulated around Waiheke and showed clearly that there was intent to change service providers and suggested to the consultant that the report need to present a watertight business case for such change. It also acknowledged that this would be a controversial issue on the island. Some dirty tactics by C&R appointed lawyers to eventually disqualify the local company and a glut of misinformation on the waste figures for Waiheke finally cemented the contract towards the outcome that appeared in many eyes to be likely predetermined or at least highly preferred by C&R.


Last weekend a community meeting on Waiheke about what can be done now drew nearly 200 people to discuss a way forward through this injustice. There is a mixture of feeling on the issue, from welcoming in Transpacific Industries and presenting them with a charter of conditions that our community expects them to live up to if they are to provide a waste service on the island, to direct action and civil disobedience upon the new contractors arrival. There is a substantial legal challenge that is developing and either way the issue is not going to lay down and it will quite possibly expand to become a sore thumb in the upcoming process of Auckland Supercity-dom and demonstrate how incompetent (and possibly corrupt) the current C&R cabal of Auckland City really are at creating a future vision for the city and its residents.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shame on them ...

Auckland's Citizens & Ratepayers councillors on the City Development Group have sold Waiheke's internationally recognized community based not-for-profit waste management organisation down the river by awarding the result of an absolutely awful tender process to an Australian multi-national corporation. The multinational came in with the lowest cost - gee! who would have figured that it would be very hard to undermine the community based organization on that ground by a multinational?! ... but the tender process took almost no account of the social, educational, and community aspects of dealing with waste on an island. As John Stanfield, board director of the local organisation Clean Stream says in this report on Campbell Live, dealing with waste is about dealing with people's behaviours and thats exactly what CleanStream did. TPI will just have people back to the old days of chucking stuff willy-nilly into a bin. Real shame that these bastards (and make no mistake - they are evil bastards) have no idea about social capital and can only see financial bottom-lines as the answer to every problem. I'd be a bit scared if I was TPI - there is quite a lot of talk about civil disobedience around the island and enough old greenpeace campaigners, protesters, social media activists, and lawyers to make this all get ugly for the company and Auckland City. If they wanted a smooth transition to a Super City then this wasn't the way to go about it.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Yea, right.

Yea, right., originally uploaded by pumicehead.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Auckland City is wasting our waste

Its not often that I use this blog for "local" matters but this is really getting up my nose so I'm essentially reposting this here in case there are any locals reading. But also ...I reckon that this is an educational issue as well and education is one of the predominant themes of this blog. Waiheke Island has over the last 5 years taught me about recycling. The Waste Resource Trust, the local organization that deals with our waste has educated me about what it means to seperate out my recycling, enlightened me on just what it means to actually deal with an entire communities waste, how to re-use waste that would otherwise just get shipped to a landfill in Auckland, modelled how to run a not-for-profit organization that employs 22 people in a community enterprise, and made me think about how my choices as a consumer impact the environment and the economy ... and now some beauracrats in Auckland City want to take that all away from me (from us) and centralize it by giving the contract for what we do better to an Australian company who's share prices are plummeting! So ...

Join us in the protest and to bear witness at the council meeting
Thursday 14 May, 9am, meet at Aotea Square City. Outside the council
building we will be singing the Waiheke Does it Better song and beating
our procession drum.

It’s not too late to save our waste, every person helps.

This Thursday Auckland City Council City Development Committee will vote
whether or not to give our waste resource to multinational company
TransPacific Industries (TPI). By choosing TPI the council is
ignoring local democracy.

TPI is an Australian owned multinational that has recently suspended
trading on the Australian stock exchange and whose share prices have
plummeted from $14.00 to around $2.00.

Visy, another multinational, that will recycle our recycling is
struggling to find markets for their low grade products (because they
co-mingle recyclables and compact them together) and is wanting a
government bail out.

We will lose local jobs, local income, local innovative solutions and
local decision making and be forced to use an unsustainable recycling
system replacing one of New Zealand's leading recycling projects.

One of their plans is to freight our green waste to Puketutu Island in
the Manukau Harbour for mulching and then sell it back to us. We think
this is ridiculous because we already process our green waste on
Waiheke. This will cost more money and cost the climate.

Join us in the protest and to bear witness at the council meeting
Thursday 14 May, 9am, meet at Aotea Square City. Outside the council
building we will be singing the Waiheke Does it Better song and beating
our procession drum.

We will have spokespeople for media and we will then go up to the
meeting at 09.30 to bear witness to the Council decision. We are trying
to get speaking rights at the meeting.

If you can come, please take the 08.00am ferry, dress well and warmly
and we will gather together on the boat to be briefed. If you are in
town meet in Aotea Square at 09.00 sharp.

Go to for more
information. Keep checking back - updated often.

Keep Your Wheelie Bins In Auckland Central from Scott Ewing on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sunday, May 03, 2009

No colours any more ...

This page is black because black saves more energy on a computer monitor than white ... yea right! Nah, its black because ... well I like black ... and on the inside I think I'm kind of a dark moody guy and bloggings about the inside isn't it? These guys reckon
"... a given monitor requires more power to display a white (or light) screen than a black (or dark) screen"
and that if the Google search page was black then something like 750 Megawatt hours could be saved per year ... and thats a lot, isn't it? (I don't pay the electricity bills in my house so I have no idea.)

Possibly I also have no idea because the language of ordinary life has become so confusing lately ... there's numbers like megawatts, incomprehensible carbon calculations, offsets (what the hell is an offset!?), there's parts per million levels of all kinds of stuff in the air, the water, the blood, and in huge pools of industrially farmed pig shit, there's global exchange rates, trade deficits, floating interest rates, and industrial averages. What's a poor boy to do? Yea, yea ... I know ... Wikipedia yadda yadda yadda.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Capitalist swine flu

Published Apr 29, 2009 3:35 PM

Every disaster—whether earthquake, flood or epidemic—exposes the fault lines in society.

Such is the case with the possible pandemic—worldwide epidemic—of a virulent flu caused by a newly mutated virus. This human version of swine flu has hit Mexico most severely, with the United States a close second. It has rapidly spread to a dozen other countries.

Politically, the greatest threat is that right-wing demagogues will try to scapegoat Mexicans, especially Mexican immigrants, for the epidemic’s spread. This is a serious political challenge to progressive forces in the U.S. It will require a redoubling of the already necessary effort to build solidarity between immigrant and U.S.-born workers, a solidarity that will be emphasized at May Day events across the country.

The attempt to blame Mexicans is not only despicable, it is way off. Look at these facts.

ABC News reported on April 28 that “Mexico’s first suspected case of the swine flu was detected in the remote farming village of La Gloria” a month ago. Some 800 of the 2,000 people there got sick. “The most likely way that this young boy got the infection was from another person who had been in contact with the pigs,” said Dr. Kathryn Edwards of Vanderbilt Medical Center.

What ABC failed to report was that the pigs were on a nearby industrial farm run by a subsidiary of Smithfield Farms, the anti-union, polluting, factory-farm monopoly based in Virginia and North Carolina. For years, the communities around these farms have been complaining about the unhealthy conditions and stench from thousands of pigs and their waste crowded into small areas.

Historian Mike Davis, a professor at the University of California at Irvine and author of “The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu,” wrote in the Britain-based Guardian newspaper of April 27 that the “fecal mire of an industrial pigsty” was the likely environment in which a new flu virus could develop. Smithfield, wrote Davis, will ferociously resist any efforts to change its dangerous but highly profitable production processes.

An experienced writer on these issues, Davis also mentioned three obstacles to an efficient and effective defense against any pandemic: the weakness of the U.S. public health system, the negative attitude of the U.S. and other wealthy countries toward promoting cutting-edge public health facilities in the poorer countries, and Swiss-based Roche Pharmaceutical’s patent on the flu medicine Tamiflu, which prevents poor countries from developing generic anti-viral medicines.

The first lesson of this is that the U.S. has a disgraceful record regarding health care. The trillions spent on war should be used instead to set up a world-class national health system and bypass the overpriced, profit-guzzling health care industry.

Secondly, don’t blame Mexicans for this outbreak. Investigate Smithfield and take action against the polluters.

Next, pressure from imperialist banks over the last 30 years has forced poor countries to cut their public health outlays. This has not only debilitated health care, it has increased the danger of pandemics. Instead of criminalizing immigrant workers and militarizing the border with Mexico, the U.S. should be supporting Mexico’s efforts to improve its health system—especially since U.S. corporations like Smithfield are making huge profits there, by super-exploiting Mexican workers.

And lastly, the monopoly on new drugs held by a few privately owned pharmaceuticals impedes the development of a worldwide supply of generic medicines. For the health of humanity, medical knowledge must be shared and all countries be free to manufacture their own medicines.

This all points to one conclusion: that the capitalist system as a whole is an obstacle to protecting the life and health of humanity when faced with swine flu or any other possible pandemic.

Articles copyright 1995-2009 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Support independent news


More along this same line here:

And quite simple expressed here by Mike Davis:

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spells and the Nether World

From reading:

"A similar movement is going on before our own eyes. Modern bourgeois society, with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells. For many a decade past the history of industry and commerce is but the history of the revolt of modern productive forces against modern conditions of production, against the property relations that are the conditions for the existence of the bourgeois and of its rule. It is enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return put the existence of the entire bourgeois society on its trial, each time more threateningly. In these crises, a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises, there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity — the epidemic of over-production. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation, had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilisation, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. The productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered, and so soon as they overcome these fetters, they bring disorder into the whole of bourgeois society, endanger the existence of bourgeois property. The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them. And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented."
The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx / Friedrich Engels

... and believing that the pirates are leading the way.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Maybe they should have made them walk the plank into a sea of zeros and ones. And ... whats up with that hat!@? Shouldn't it have 3 corners on it and be a bit more beat up?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

RSS and

While I'm a huge fan of for the hosting and archiving of podcasts and audio artifacts one of the things that has always been a bit of a let down about the site is the general lack of RSS. While most other sites are now creating RSS feeds for every imaginable content view, only has RSS for newly added items to the entire site. Not much help if you are trying to use the site to host podcasts for an event or a project and want those podcasts embedded in the project blog. This recently came up for me specifically in developing the Waiheke Podcasting Project on the Ning platform. After looking at a variety of free podcast hosting solutions I still considered to be the most preferred. Not only are they a non-profit organization like we are, they just seem like the best place to store heritage style artifacts to describe our community because they have some solid sponsorships and a good reputation for the work they're doing. Also for our project a big plus was that they don't have a limit on the amount of podcasts that can be hosted there or their file size. This worked well for us because although Ning was going to be great as a community podcast site, it only allows 20MB uploads of audio and there is a limit to the amount of audio each user can have on the site.

All the podcasts that we hosted on have a tag applied to them ... so this was halfway towards where I needed it to be. As long as members of the project uploaded their podcasts with the "waiheke podcasting project" tag then we could get a page that displayed all the posts. But how to get this into Ning? The solution was to use a service called Feed43. Feed43 is a free online service that converts any web page to an RSS feed on the fly. It's not as simple as just pointing the URL you want turned into RSS at Feed43 though, it requires a bit of tweaking but the results are pretty good and I now have an RSS feed from the page that aggregates all the "waiheke podcasting project" tags, and displays them on our Ning page.

How It Works (the expurgated version)

Basically Feed43 goes off and grabs the URL you provide and displays the HTML generated from that page... so if you're scared of the sight of web page blood and guts then this might not be the job for you. From there you need to try to identify some unique HTML classes or IDs or whatever that is used to display the title, the URL, and any other descriptive information that you're interested in to generate your feed. This is called the search pattern and Feed43 uses the results of these patterns to create a fully formed RSS feed. There's a bit of mucking around in this bit and I didn't really have much luck with my trial-and-error start to this process until I had a good look at the tutorial - then it started to make sense, so I'd suggest doing that if this is something you need to do. Once you've got a result that looks like a nice feed Feed43 will generate you a URL that you can use as an RSS feed to link to from your blog or Ning site!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


The Library of Congress now has a YouTube channel. Some fascinating stuff in there including this very strange experimental sound film made for Edison's kinetophone -- a combination of the kinetoscope and phonograph -- but apparently never distributed.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Public Schools and Public Libraries

This kid has fortunately spent way too much time in the library. I love his description of the vid as well: "I aggressively compare public schools and public libraries". Italics mine.

I've also recently been quite impressed with the new search functionality of the Auckland City Library with its visual relationships graph of keywords you search for and the ability to subscribe to an RSS feed of individual searches (here's a feed for the above young learner: Also the University of Auckland beta library catalog has the ability to login and "tag" individual items which is just great I reckon. Viva la
bibliothèque! I say.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

One year on ...

I just realized that its been about a year since I posted to this blog. I did have another one going for a while .. a Wordpress that I hosted and administered myself ... but I'm over that and back on board with the concept of freeranging. I've also just set up my first Ning site for a project at work. Wow! that thing is fantastic. Reminds me a bit of blogger in fact. More on that later. Good to be back.