It's another intelligent political analysis from the man who told us that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. This time Newstalk ZB's Bruce Russell has Occupy Auckland in his crazy sights.
Newstalk ZB's Bruce Russell has been attacking Occupy Auckland - and the occupy movement generally - on a regular basis. Yesterday he was frothing at the mouth because Judge Philippa Cunningham declined to issue arrest warrants for the Occupy Auckland activists.
Six tents remain in Aotea Square despite the protesters being served with an injunction last Friday ordering them to leave.
Judge Philippa Cunningham however said she was concerned people could be put in jail and not have access to the courts until January 16.
This ruling from the good judge sent Russell and his redneck talkback callers into hysterics. Russell wanted his callers to tell him what could be done about 'activist' judges. 'Activist' judges are judges that Russell doesn't like. Judge Cunningham wouldn't be an 'activist' judge if she had thrown the Occupy actvists into jail. Russell would of been congratulating her and sending her flowers.
Neither Newstalk ZB, or Bruce Russell, have managed to do any serious programs on the occupy movement - they'd rather just indulge in the usual right wing bigotry. In fact Newstalk ZB has behaved in much the same antagonistic way to Occupy as Fox News in the United States.
So according to Russell, the man who said that Obama Bin Laden had training camps in northern Iraq, Occupy Auckland are just 'woolly thinking woofters'. And they're 'layabouts'. And why are they living in tents made by those horrible corporations? Blah Blah Blah... According to Russell 'the whole of Auckland' is against Occupy. Has Russell surveyed 'the whole of Auckland'? No. he hasn't. He's just making it up as he goes along. As usual.
Russell's rant encouraged his redneck callers to attack the judge. I'm certain Judge Cunningham would not be happy with some of the outrageous allegations that were made against her by his moronic callers.
Having encouraged the vicious attacks against the judge, Russell eventually started cutting short callers who threatened to get abusive. What a hypocrite.
Christchurch was hit by a couple of strong quakes the day before Xmas Eve. I have to say that the sense of disillusionment and renewed anxiety that has fallen over the city has been palpable. After several months of relative quiet, these quakes have been a real kick in the guts. Any sense of optimism was always fragile and that has been smashed.
For people out in the Eastside it has meant more soul-destroying liquefaction and, elsewhere in the city, more damage to already damaged buildings. Some buildings, formerly deemed to be repairable, are now to be demolished. Both the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) and the Christchurch City Council haven't been up front about the new damage - presumably they think they are protecting a city's battered morale. We are well beyond that point now.
Any notion that a significant rebuild will begin in Christchurch in 2012 was always fanciful but it is now right off the agenda. The international insurers will not touch this city with a barge pole. Interestingly it is an issue I've heard both Quake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Mayor Bob Parker skirt around in recent interviews. Vague claims that there is still cause for optimism are simply ridiculous.
In the meantime the Government's 'hands off' approach to the quake recovery process has only served to make this city's future increasingly unclear. With the possibility that Christchurch could be facing seismic activity for up to four years and with the flight from the city set to accelerate, this is a crisis that has been compounded by the Government's ideological assumption that, somehow, 'the market' will see Christchurch right.
Thanks to the Government's neoliberal zealotry, many owners of damaged homes are in danger of losing a considerable amount of equity. That's 'the market' in action.
And on the Eastside the situation continues to get worse. Large areas are now simply uninhabitable - although Roger Sutton and CERA have yet to recognise this. The Press yesterday reported that on the 23 December a Green Zone resident received a letter from CERA advising his zoning appeal had been turned down: he was confirmed as remaining Green. On the same day his area of Burwood was hit by liquefaction again.
Now the people in these areas, already under considerable stress, are expected to wait while CERA reassesses these areas again. Given CERA's inability to get it right first time round, no one is confident they will get it right this time round either. Roger Sutton's familiar refrain that he 'understands' what people are going though is really beginning to grate. Sutton is now being lampooned as the 'nice Aunt' who shows up to say something encouraging but meaningless and then disappears again.
People's lives and futures are at stake here and I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that there has been a ghettoisation of the eastern suburbs.
People out in the Eastside can't swan off to holiday homes in Marlborough (Brownlee) or holidays in Taupo (Parker) and the Gold Coast (Marryatt). They are stuck in this deep mess for the duration. Platitudes about the 'Canterbury spirit' and 'everyone pulling together' merely mask the deep inequalities between the quake 'haves' and 'have nots'.
The Government has allowed a social disaster to unfold in Christchurch.
Instead of fighting for the interests and concerns of local people the Christchurch City Council has been little more than a mouthpiece for the Government's views. We have Mayor Bob Parker to largely 'thank' for that - but he has been backed by councillors also allied to the National Party. This includes councillors like Sue Wells whose 'priority' this year was to attend a wine 'conference' in Germany - and got local ratepayers to pay for her holiday.
Ironically the councillors who have not toed the Parker line have been publicly lambasted by Brownlee for not supporting the recovery process. That really is calling the kettle black.
4pm. The good people of Christchurch, including activists from Occupy Christchurch, occupy the foyer in the Christchurch City Council Civic Offices to protest the $70,000 salary increase for CEO Tony Marryatt.
Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button, who voted for the increase, tries to justify Marryatt's new bloated salary. The crowd is not impressed. Sideshow Bob fails to make an appearance.
If you're not backing Sideshow Bob you're blocking the Christchurch earthquake recovery process! That's the crazy talk of Earthquake Recovery Minister, Gerry Brownlee.
In an astonishing attack on local democracy, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has attacked certain Christchurch City councillors for supposedly holding up the earthquake recovery process.
He claims that 'several people' have asked him to sack certain councillors although Brownlee conveniently neglects to tell us who these 'several people' are. Mrs Brownlee and family perhaps?
Although Brownlee hasn't got the guts to come out and say who he is attacking, we all know its the councillors (many of them Labour-aligned) who have decided to do their jobs and represent the interests of their communities - and not simply be Sideshow Bob's pet poodles like Sue Wells, Barry Corbett and Ngaire Button (and who are all, like Sideshow Bob, supporters of the National Party).
Sideshow Bob has, not surprisingly, failed to defend the councillors under attack from his mate. Sideshow has never stood up to Brownlee and he's not about to start now - especially when he's expecting something 'special' in the New Years Honours list.
In fact Sideshow has come out in support of Brownlee's comments, declaring that "This is not a time to be embarking on Don Quixote political exercises, and there's a bit of that going on.' You're guess is as good as mine as to what Sideshow Bob is talking about here but once again it reveals his lack of loyalty to the entire council - and not just his flunkeys.
This is a politically driven attack on Sideshow Bob's political opponents by Brownlee who is dishonestly trying to portray the councillors as slowing the quake recovery process when they are simply doing the jobs they were elected to do. As Councillor Tim Carter has said: 'Delays should be avoided, but this did not mean supporting the mayor unconditionally'.
Of course Sideshow Bob is not known for respecting the democratic process so he may like the idea of the council turning into a simple rubber-stamp operation, where he and Tony Marryatt can get on and make all the major decisions without having to consult anyone else. And Mussolini got the trains to run on time as well...
Christchurch councillor Sue Wells is blogging again - but there's no mention of her recent raepayer-funded junket to Germany.
Readers might be interested to know that Christchurch councillor Sue Wells , after a long absence, has started blogging again - well, she wrote something for December 12. She's also cropped up again on Twitter
As predicted she makes no mention of her recent European escapade. We Christchurch ratepayers got to pay for her junket to a wine 'conference' in Germany where she, apparently, spent her time pouring glasses of wine, handing out awards and sightseeing.
Wells told a local newspaper that she was writing a 'report' on her trip to Germany and it would be available at the end of November. Surprise - no report has emerged. Remember this is the same councillor who told voters that 'accountability' and 'transparency' were a priority for her. Obviously they are only a priority when they are not personally inconvenient. She seems to think that if she doesn't mention her German holiday ever again, everybody will forget about it. Which means I will be mentioning it on a regular basis in 2012.
Wells, being a loyal Sideshow Bob supporter, voted for the massive $70,000 increase in Tony Marryatt's salary. She also voted for his $80,000 salary increase in 2009. Wells, of course, also voted to bail out failed property developer Dave Henderson to the tune of $17 million - while at the same time voting to put council rents up 24 percent and cutting council funding to community groups.
Sue Wells is no brighter than she looks but, disturbingly, she harbours mayoral ambitions. Perhaps voters will do the decent thing next time round and vote her out of office.
During his election campaign, Christchurch councillor Aaron Keown declared that he wanted to stop 'excessive council spending' and that no council employee should get paid more than the mayor.
A reader has pointed out the inconsistencies of Councillor Aaron Keown, who voted for the $70,000 salary increase for unpopular Christchurch City Council CEO Tony Marryatt.
During his election campaign the loyal Sideshow Bob supporter declared that curbing 'excessive council spending' was one of his top five issues. He also declared that no council employee should get paid more than the mayor. Perhaps Keown could explain why he voted for a big fat increase in Marryatt's salary, which means that 'Tony' now gets well over $200,000 more than Sideshow Bob? How exactly does encouraging a 'culture of excess' in the upper echelons of the Christchurch City Council help to curb 'excessive council spending'?
Clearly we can't trust anything that Keown says.
Meanwhile the hard-working Marryatt is on holiday on the Gold Coast.
It should be also be pointed out that union workers at the Christchurch City Council got no more than a 2.75 percent pay increase - well behind the cost of living. And the council were even reluctant to agree to this, claiming that 'everyone' had to make 'sacrifices' in difficult economic times.
Sideshow Bob and chums demonstrate the size of Tony Marryatt's salary increase. The unpopular Christchurch City Council CEO is getting another $70,000 a year! Councillor Glen Livingstone has described the increase as 'appalling' given Christchurch's financially stricken circumstances
Once again demonstrating the cronyism that pervades the upper echelons of the Christchurch City Council, Mayor Sideshow Bob and his council flunkeys have voted Bob's loyal right-hand man, Tony Marryatt, a massive and unjustified salary increase.
They have voted the unpopular Christchurch City Council CEO a massive 14.4 percent increase - another $70,000. This takes his salary from $470,400 to $538,529, backdated to July this year. In comparison, the Prime Minister gets paid $393,000 a year and many people feel he is paid too much.
Who voted for this increase? There's no prizes for guessing that it was Bob's bunch of sycophantic scoundrels - Barry Corbett, Jamie Gough, Aaron Keown, Ngaire Button, Claudia Reid and Sue Wells.
When Sideshow says 'jump', these clowns ask 'how high?'
Tim Carter, Glenn Livingstone, Sally Buck, Jimmy Chen, Helen Broughton and Yani Johanson voted against the increase. And they are to be congratulated for representing the interests of the Christchurch community
Back in 2009 Marryatt received an $80,000 salary increase and I wrote at the time: This disgraceful increase for Marryatt should be considered against official data that shows that real wages in New Zealand declined approximately 25% between 1982 and the mid 90s and have never recovered. Wages still lie 25 percent below their peak in 1982 - while costs have continued to rise.
Since then, of course, Christchurch has been hit by a series of devastating quakes and times are now even tougher. This increase is a insult to the good people of Christchurch.
Marryatt's salary has now increased, incredibly, nearly 45 per cent during his four years at council. In an age when austerity policies are being imposed on most of us, Marryatt's extravagant salary is simply a disgrace.
Michael Laws has been a consistent media clown and he really came through this year to take 'Media Clown of the Year'. Well done, that man!
Laws can normally be heard on talkback station Radio Live berating people who are not 'proper New Zealanders', but he's been off-air since 20 November. Even Radio Live couldn't stomach him telling his redneck listeners that he would shoot journalists if he had a gun. Bashing beneficiaries is ok - advocating violence against journalists isn't.
Laws wasn't particularly happy with the media's performance over the so-called 'Teapot tapes' and fired off a few rounds at the Herald on Sunday for its role in the whole ludicrous affair.
"If I had a gun I'd shoot them - put them out of their misery - because they have gone rabid and they may infect others.", thundered Laws.
He went on to say: "Have you noticed ... the Herald on Sunday for example, which is rabid all the time ... no idea why somebody hasn't taken the shotgun there and just cleaned out the entire newsroom."
In fact Laws doesn't seem to like many people at all. As I commented about him last year he regards himself as '... the good keen man who speaks his mind and fights the good fight against the always threatening mob of beneficiaries , crims, gang members, hopeless Maori parents, druggies, namby-pamby liberals and people who want to introduce an 'h' into Wanganui.'
Laws often refers to people he doesn't like as 'feral' but it seems that it is Michael Laws, trapped on a low rating talkback station, who is the becoming increasingly rabid. Now the low rating talkback station doesn't seem to want him either.
Perhaps he isn't so much a clown but an angry middle aged white male inexorably falling into obscurity as the modern world disappears into the distance.
'Come back, I haven't finished with you yet!" shouts a furious Laws.
But he hasn't quite figured out that the world has finished with him.
2011 will go down in history as a revolutionary year akin to 1848 and 1968: a year in which ordinary people round the world rose up against their governments and ruling elites – their respective 1%s.
The explanation for this global tidal wave of revolt is essentially very simple. The international capitalist system is in profound crisis and the 1%, the ruling class, everywhere is trying to make the rest of us pay for it and in place after place people are fighting back. From Tahrir to Oakland we are feeding on the inspiration of each other’s resistance. Confidence is rising and for the first time in a generation revolution is back on the agenda.
Mayor Sideshow Bob has attacked Occupy Christchurch and demanded that the group move from South Hagley Park - or be forcibly moved by the city council.
According to Sideshow, who appears to have appointed himself as arbiter of all that is right and wrong, Occupy Christchurch ' have a had a really good opportunity to demonstrate and make their opinions known, but there's a time when they have to move on.'
But Bob, despite the bluster, knows he presently has no legal powers to remove the protesters. He admits that he is waiting for the legal ruling on Occupy Auckland's continued occupation of Aotea Square.
Occupy Christchurch say they have no intention of 'moving on' - so suck on that, Bob.
Of course Bob, a loyal supporter of the National Government, is hardly a fan of the aims and aspirations of the Occupy movement. He is, after all, the mayor who tried to put council rents up nearly 24 percent while at the same time bailing out property developer Dave Henderson to the tune of $17 million. He's also the mayor who cut funding to community groups - claiming that it was no longer 'affordable'. But, despite pleas of 'budget restraints' he still managed to find $5 million to pay for the naming rights to an Auckland garden show.
It is also interesting to observe that while Sideshow has a lot to say abut Occupy, he has had nothing to say about certain councillors who go on overseas junkets at the expense of the ratepayer. Of course Sue Wells isn't a bloody lefty and is one of his loyal supporters..
The economic crisis continues to deepen in Europe.
Despite all the huffin' and puffin', the European Union (EU) crisis meeting in Brussels over the weekend was yet another failure.
Despite 'agreeing' on plans to allow EU bureaucrats to impose coordinated spending cuts on the increasingly angry people of Europe, the summit’s failure to agree on a rescue plan for the single currency did nothing to stabilise the increasingly chaotic finance markets.
While the corporate media devoted much of its attention to the 'split' between Great Britain and the EU, it went largely unnoticed that 'stress tests' conducted on the European banks, revealed a deteriorating picture. It hasn't gone so much from bad to worse but more worse to 'Danger! Impending collapse!'
The tests showed that the European banks had a shortfall of 115bn euros compared to 106bn euros in October. And the German banks were found to need double the amount of capital originally thought. It was a further indication that the crisis is now imposing itself on the German economy.
It should also be remembered that most of these banks have already been bailed out by trillions of public money.
The fundamental problem remains the same - the huge amount of debt strangling the life out of countries like Greece, Italy, Spain, Ireland and Portugal.
Many banks are exposed to loans to these countries and they do not have sufficient capital to handle a default, let alone the collapse of the euro.
The worse case scenario for finance capital is that these countries will default on these debts and simply exit the eurozone.
Indeed a Citigroup economist and former central banker Willem Buiter warned last week that a fully blown break-up of the eurozone could spell a global depression and "pandemonium".
" A break up would drag down not just the European banking system, but the north Atlantic financial system and the internationally exposed parts of the rest of the global banking system as well".
But the only 'solution' on offer is to impose even more austerity measures. Ordinary people will be squeezed and squeezed again to pay for a crisis that they weren't responsible for.
But further austerity measures will only accelerate Europe's plunge into depression. Years of austerity budgets have deflated demand and increased unemployment across Europe but the Brussels 'solution' is simply more of the same.
Even some of the more hardened neoliberal zealots are beginning to question the rationale for a 'solution' that only leads to further drop in demand, more job losses and increased debt levels. But the politicians have nothing else to offer - the SS Eurozone is heading for the iceberg and there's nothing they can do about it.
Of even more concern for the European bourgeoisie is that resistance to the austerity cuts continues to grow throughout Europe. A spectre is haunting Europe's rulers and that is the spectre of an organised movement that finally overthrows the rule of capital
Last week US military officer General Martin Dempsey admitted that he was "extraordinarily concerned" about the euro's survival and the prospect of more 'civil unrest in Europe'.
"The eurozone is at great risk," the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the media. "We are extraordinarily concerned by the health and viability of the euro because in some ways we're exposed literally to contracts but also because of the potential of civil unrest and breakup of the union that has been forged over there."
The Standard looks to resurrect Barack Obama's tattered liberal credentials.
Liberals are useless aren't they? It doesn't matter how many times they get betrayed/shafted/deceived by their leaders they can be guaranteed to return for another good kicking up the backside.
A few days ago Barack Obama, a president who has allowed over 43 million Americans to sink into poverty while he has bailed out his mates on Wall Street, made what can be described as a cynical attempt to portray himself - yet again - as a 'champion of the people'.
In a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, Obama laid down his so-called liberal credentials.
This was not only a sick joke but a direct insult to the tens of millions of Americans who have suffered under his 'progressive' presidency. They have lost their jobs, their homes and their futures. Obama wants to use their despair - which he is directly implicated in causing in the first place - as a convenient trading card to get him back into the White House for another term of kissing the ass of big business and Wall Street.
But all of this is of little consequence to his liberal supporters who have been desperately looking for some kind of indication that Obama isn't just another 'man of the system'.
So they have grabbed Obama's Kansas speech with both hands.
Take Robert Reich for instance. Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California bit, more significantly, he was secretary of labour under President Bill Clinton.
He's a mainstream Democrat - a bit of a Keynesian - who has felt badly let down by Obama.
But in a column titled 'The Most Important Economic Speech of his Presidency ' Reich, on the basis of one cynical speech , welcomes Obama back to the liberal fold. All is forgiven!
Here, finally, is the Barack Obama many of us thought we had elected in 2008. Since then we’ve had a president who has only reluctantly stood up to the moneyed interests Teddy Roosevelt and his cousin Franklin stood up to.Hopefully Obama will carry this message through 2012, and gain a mandate to use his second term to take on the growing inequities and game-rigging practices that have been undermining the American economy and American democracy for years.
But Obama's speech, ironically, doesn't contain any answers for addressing 'the growing inequalities' that Reich hopes Obama will take on during a second term in office.
Indeed Obama's only solution is the kind of silly drivel we've heard spewed by New Zealand politicians for many a year:
In today’s innovation economy, we also need a world-class commitment to science and research, the next generation of high-tech manufacturing. Our factories and our workers shouldn’t be idle. We should be giving people the chance to get new skills and training at community colleges so they can learn how to make wind turbines and semiconductors and high-powered batteries.
This is the sort of rubbish we heard from Goff and the Labour Party during the election campaign and which convinced no one.
The answer to the crisis is not 'training' or 'upskilling' - or whatever this week's buzzword is - but jobs. But Obama has presided over massive job losses.
Indeed just a few weeks ago Reich himself wrote:
'So many jobs have been lost since Mr. Obama was elected that, even if job growth were to match the extraordinary pace of the late 1990s—averaging 300,000 to 350,000 per month—the unemployment rate wouldn’t fall below 6% until 2016.'
But there's nothing in Obama's speech that even hints at a solution to the jobs crisis - the very speech that Reich praises.
It's not surprising that the Labour-aligned The Standard has chosen to republish Reich's column in full. The website, after all, embraced all the hype about Obama and 'change you can believe in' and has been compromised ever since.
But now The Standard is prepared to believe the lie that Obama is on the side of 'the 99 percent'. It would rather swallow this rubbish because if it didn't its lazy and opportunistic writers might just have to come to some uncomfortable conclusions about the reality of American capitalism.
Playing the game of electoral politics is a political dead end because the rules are rigged against us, writes Trish Kahle.
In Kristen Britain’s fantastic novel Green Rider–which I recommend to everyone–there’s a scene which I would say had been written about Occupy if the book hadn’t been published in 1998.
The book’s protagonist, a young woman named Karigan, finds herself trapped in a place between life and death with the two antagonists, a rouge prince named Amilton and the magical Shawdell. Shawdell’s magic has made him one with Amilton, and Shawdell is the dominant part of the merged spirits.
On the table, a game of Intrigue was set up. Amilton leaned over an army of red pieces, his eyes darting here and there over the board. Shawdell, in contrast, leaned back casually in his chair, watching Karigan’s approach with interest.
“Won’t you join us?” he asked.
Karigan adjusted her grip on the sword. “Why are we here?”
“Would you believe anything I told you?” he asked.
“I will judge your words for myself.”
“You will not like what you hear.”
“Just explain,” Karigan said.
“All right.” Shawdell’s voice was quiet. “With your actions, you have released wild magic and it has torn the wall between worlds. You brought us here.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“As you wish,” he replied.
All that mattered was leaving this place. “How do we get back?”
Shawdell mocked her with his light and musical laughter. “You would trust me with the answer? You who not believe what I tell you about where we are?” She glared at him, and he stopped laughing. He leaned forward. “To leave, we must finish the game. You must sit down and play. Won’t you have a seat?” He gestured at the empty chair.
“I don’t want to play,” Karigan said.
“I thought you wanted to leave this place,” Shawdell said. “You must win the game to leave.”
“No,” Karigan said. She hated Intrigue. She always lost. She gestured to Amilton. “Why doesn’t he make a move?”
“He moves when I give him leave.”
“And when do you move?”
“I move when you sit down to play.”
“And if I refuse to sit?”
“Then we remain an eternity in this place. But if you play the game, you have a chance to win.”
“Why don’t you use your magic?” Karigan asked.
“Play the game,” Shawdell said. “Play the game. It is the only way we can leave.”
Karigan laughed, giddy with sudden insight. She was the Triad, the random element. She could spur the game on or maintain the stalemate. She controlled the game. She remembered what Zachary had said to her, playing in the castle not long ago. “If you play by the rules, it’s impossible to win.”
She raised the sword over her head. Shawdell quailed. The sword slashed down like a scythe. The blade bit into the cork game board and the pieces scattered. The sword carved into the table and deep through it. The place between worlds disappeared, and the sword clattered loudly on the stone floor of the castle.
Occupy is the Triad. The random player.
We aren’t anywhere close to splitting this world apart yet, but so far, we’re headed the right direction. We aren’t playing the game of electoral politics–the game that is rigged against us. And we should keep it that way.
As we head into the 2012 election season, the Democrats are going to tell us to sit down and play the game. They’ll tell us it’s the only way. And we have to fight back against that lie. As Audre Lorde said, “the master’s tools will never tear down the master’s house.”
They will throw up pictures of incredibly scary Republican candidates, but remember it’s the Democrats who have actively engaged in cracking down on Occupy protests. It’s the Democrats who have expanded the practice of military detention. And Democrats have signed on with enthusiastic support to completely strip US citizens of their right to due process and impose massive austerity packages. The Obama administration has made it abundantly clear to a new generation of activists that we cannot win this game by electing Democrats. We don’t need to play their game. We need a new game.
This is part of why the blockade development is so exciting. As Boots Riley said, “They coordinated attacks against us. We’re going to launch a coordinated attack against the 1%.” Blockades, occupations, strikes, and community pickets aren’t playing their game, and the results aren’t rigged in their favour. That’s why the crackdown has been so coordinated and has escalated in scale rather quickly (considering the movement is not yet three months old).
But whatever actions we pursue going forward, independence from the political parties is going to be key. Whether it’s occupying foreclosed homes, mic checking CEOs and politicians wherever they go, or showing our solidarity with striking workers–the Democrats aren’t going to support Occupy, they’re going to fight it. And they’re going to fight it hard. Just like Shawdell and Amilton, corporations and capitalist politicians are one and the same. They fight together, and they’re probably going to die together.
From Oakland’s general strike to the massive labour turnout in NYC, we are showing that we are beginning to understand collectively that our power is not in the isolation of the voting booth, but with our arms linked in the streets.
Councillor Sue Wells has failed to release a report on her recent trip to Germany. Are we surprised?
We're still none the wiser as to what Councillor Sue Wells got up to at Great Wine Capitals Global Network conference held in Germany in October.
Despite indicating that a report of her trip would be released at the end of November, Wells has done nothing.
It seems that she is quite happy to spend ratepayers money on overseas trips but not very keen to supply any information on what she gets up to. She claimed that her German wine junket would have 'benefits' for Christchurch but it appears that this has been just more hot air from a councillor who seems to regard the Christchurch City Council as her own personal gravy train. And Sideshow Bob is completely relaxed about it all because Wells is part of his 'A Team' . A reader though has pointed out that this photo appeared on the Christchurch City Council's Facebook page yesterday. It shows Sue Wells handing out some wine awards. I agree with the reader that this may be the only 'report' we're going to get.
I think we've all met prats like Jeremy Clarkson. You know the type. Wealthy and privileged middle-aged white males who think the whole world is their playground. They're oafs but they like to think of themselves as 'lads'. Blokey-blokes. They just like a drink and a laugh and what's wrong with that?
Jeremy Clarkson is a high profile wealthy and privileged middle aged white male and he has the good fortune to get paid a lot of money to behave like a naughty schoolboy. On the BBC's Top Gear Clarkson gets to drive around in big fast expensive cars and joke around with his two fellow 'lads' , James May and Richard Hammond.
Actually I'm probably doing May and Hammond a bit of a disservice here because they're job seems to be mostly about stroking Clarkson's inflated ego.
Naturally Jeremy is a reactionary prat. I say 'naturally' because, as a rich and privileged middle aged white male he is always going to defend the world that allows him to be a rich and privileged middle aged white male. I doubt he's been on a protest march in his life although I do recall him defending the 'right' of the landed gentry to kill foxes. Perhaps he marched about that.
Clarkson, despite behaving like 'a good old boy', spends much of his time socialising with members of the British establishment. He goes to parties held by his good friend David Cameron, the British Prime Minister. He's also a good friend of the former chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks - and who he has consistently defended.
So it came as no surprise that Clarkson launched an attack British public sector workers taking part in a 24-hour walkout .
"I would have them all shot", said Clarkson on a chat show "I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families. I mean how dare they go on strike when they have these gilt-edged pensions that are going to be guaranteed, while the rest of us have to work for a living?"
Despite the deliberate hyperbole this is a politically charged comment. Clarkson suggests that the strikers all have fat pensions that are guaranteed. In fact British state workers are being squeezed to contribute more to their modest pensions and to work for longer before they are eligible for pensions
Let's be clear. Clarkson was doing his bit to ridicule and denigrate the strike. Not coincidentally his mate Cameron tried to dismiss the strike as 'a damp squid'.
But the BBC ended up having to apologise for Clarkson's remarks . Clarkson claimed he was only joking Cameron backed him up, claiming that his comments weren't meant to be taken seriously. Jeremy was only joking. So that's alright then. We are all like a laugh at the expense of the proles, eh?
Compare though Cameron's defence of his friend Clarkson with the punishments given to people supposedly associated with the recent British riots.
Two young men, Jordan Blackshore and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan both posted messages on Facebook calling for their friends to join in the unrest.
The two men said in court that they had only been joking and no riots had actually broken out. This didn't convince the magistrate who sent the two men away to jail for four years.
The 'only joking' defence didn't work for them but it has for Jeremy Clarkson. But it helps to have friends in high places...