Monday, February 27, 2006

The President's Brain is Missing!

Have you ever wondered if Dubya had voices inside his head telling him what to do? Well it seems someone did.

Something Serious.

For those of you not interested in local body politics, and I suspect that's most of you, I suggest you look away now.

Recent events appear to be lending weight to the supposition Christchurch's Mayor, Garry Moore, is having some sort of political sea-change. Garry Moore is a member of the Labour Party and has long been an advocate of preserving Christchurch's assets in the ownership of the City Council. He was publicly in support of this approach as a councilor and also from when he became Mayor back in 1998. It was, and remains a part of Labour 2021's policy. In fact the City Council then earned the ire of the sitting National government for its approach and was given the moniker "The People's Republic of Christchurch".

However things have changed. In recent months the Christchurch City Council has removed the Red Bus Company and Christchurch City Facilities from the strategic assets list. This effectively gives the Council the scope to sell them off if it so chooses. Another major policy change has been the proposal to engage in a joint venture over the ownership of the Lyttelton Port Company. The Council's trading enterprise, CCHL, intends to buy out the remaining 31 percent of shares of the company and then sell 49.9% of the company to a Hong Kong based firm called Hutchison Holdings (more on it and it's owners soon).

This is a major policy shift for the City Council and one that begs a few questions. Such as:

1) Why, if retaining assets for the public good is such a good idea, weren't ratepayers residents consulted on this?

2) Why didn't the Mayor, who's wholeheartedly endorsed these proposals, run on it as a platform at the last local body election?

3) Why is Garry Moore following strategies that appear to contradict Labour 2021 policy?

4) Is this a natural result of ongoing Council restructuring which has seen long serving local government managers replaced by recruits from private enterprise?

Garry Moore's explanation regarding the Port Company deal so far has been to argue that a strong overseas investor is needed to make it viable in the long term. He believes the port has been held hostage by shipping companies which have been playing different ports around the country off against each other to get the best deal possible. On Newstalk ZB today he even raised the spectre that shipping companies were considering making Australian ports the hub of their main operations (which is a bit dumb really because that's the way it is anyway).

If the deal goes through the Council, through CCHL, stands to make about 41 million dollars. When you think about it this isn't a lot of money for a major piece of infrastructure, especially when you consider the cost of buying out the 31 percent of the LPC will have to be deducted from it. The word is the Council will only end up with about 14 million dollars on the deal. Even then there's no guarantee CCHL will return the money to the Council as dividend.

Tomorrow - some little known details about Hutchison Port Holdings and its parent company Hutchison Whampoa Limited, and HWL's chairman Li Ka Shing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Cheney, Abu Ghraib, and Guatanamo Bay

I'll let the Daily Show say it all ...

I will be posting something vaguely serious in the next day or so.

If I get the time.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Dead Eye Dick

There's just so much humour in US Vice-president Dick Cheney's shooting accident. I'd give it a crack but there are people who are far, far better than me. Here are a few samples.
(note broadband is advisable to view these)

From The Daily Show

David Letterman does his bit.

And so does Bob Rivers. Incidentally this is one of the better Aerosmith rip-offs I've heard in a while.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Just Links

Have you ever wondered what 100,000 volts might look like? If so, then take a look at this.

Feel like belting a penguin? This will relieve your tension. (491.3 ft is my current best)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

If It Walks Like a Duck ....

This post is dedicated to the Christchurch Central Police Area Commander, Inspector Gary Knowles.

Last September, 17 year old Wayne Darias Silbery was at the wheel of a white 1989 Pontiac Le Mans that was involved in a multi-car pile up on Buckleys Road in the Christchurch suburb of Linwood. Five people required hospital treatment as a result. One teenager, 16 year old Rangi Wano who was a passenger in Silbery's car died from head injuries received in the crash.

At the time of the accident Silbery's car was being followed by an unmarked police car. The police had been trying to stop it as they were trying to apprehend Rangi Wano who had escaped from a CYFS home the previous day. Immediately after the accident Inspector Gary Knowles went to great lengths to impress on the media that police were only following the youths, that there was no police pursuit or chase (you'll have to scroll down a bit to see the news story on this link) happening at the time of the crash.

Well this is what came out at last week's depositions hearing. The driver of the Police vehicle, Constable Richard Carolan, gave evidence that there were two collisions between the police car and the youth's car in the course of the chase which went for about 2-3 km. He also said speeds reached during the pursuit (his words) were up to 100 km/h. This is on roads where the speed limits were 50-60 km/h. During the chase Silbery ran three intersections, crossed median barriers, and drove on the wrong side of the road at least twice before the fatal crash.

Now maybe I'm being a little picky but I reckon when there are speeds of up to 100 km/h recorded in 50 km zones, then it pretty much qualifies as a police pursuit. Doesn't it?

Other bits of information that came out in the hearing was that Constable Carolan had got his gold driving certificate (required training course in pursuit driving for officers) in August. When asked by Silbery's lawyer, David Ruth, he couldn't recall the number of pursuits he'd been involved in.

The issue I have here is not with the police actions in the pursuit, but how they were represented by senior officers afterwards. By categorically denying a pursuit took place Inspector Knowles has effectively hung the Constable out to dry. Constable Carolan now has to justify his actions, which in official terms were not a pursuit, but in reality were.

Did Inspector Knowles not realise details would come out later on in Court that would make his stance look like a deliberate campaign of misinformation. He's handed Silbery's lawyer the tool he needs to rip the police up one side and down the other when this gets to trial. David Ruth may not be able to get Silbery off, but he'll be able to make Canterbury Police look a bunch of incompetents.

On a final aside involving the Christchurch Police. They made an interesting, but unsuccessful, suppression application at this sentencing on Friday. The Crown's submissions bouyed police data which revealed the amount of violent crime had risen in Christchurch by about 40 percent in 2005 compared to 2004. Police had asked the data be suppressed as it normally goes through" further processes" before being released to the public. Good on Judge Erber for not having a bar of it! It'll be interesting to see Christchurch's 2005 crime statistics just to see what happens to the figures quoted in Court last week once they've been further processes.

Anyone care to make a wager that the rise in the"official violent crime rate" will be lower than 40%?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Merry Goddamn Christmas

Better late than never.

Seriously, who comes up with this shit?