Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Winston bound for Blackburn?



It looks as though New Zealand football is about to get another player in the English Premier League - the Herald reports:

Ryan Nelsen's English Premier League side, Blackburn Rovers, are reportedly poised to sign star All Whites' defender Winston Reid.

Blackburn's interest was reported by soccer website goal.com which says the club's coach Sam Allardyce is considering teaming Reid with club captain Nelsen in the central defence.

Reid, who stars for FC Midtjylland in the Danish league, has made no secret of his desire to move to the EPL.

His stunning last minute equaliser against Slovakia and pivotal back three role in an All Whites defence that conceded just one goal from general play is also understood to have sparked interest from Arsenal.


That would be a fantastic career move for Reid, in our always-humble opinion. Not only will he get to ply his trade in arguably the top league in the world, but he'll also be playing alongside his All Whites captain, from whom there's no doubt Reid has already learned much. Pay-days would be pretty healthy as well!

Whilst we'd love to see Reid go to Arsenal, he'd probably get swallowed up. For his first move into the EPL, playing for a club such as Blackburn Rovers would have plenty of advantages, and if he was able to secure a regular first-team place, the world would be his oyster in terms of future opportunities.

This is the first tangible benefit of the All Whites' World Cup campaign in terms of individual players; let's hope for a whole lot more good news over coming months.

We wonder ...

We saw an interesting story in this morning's Herald - check this out:

Education Minister Anne Tolley is to complain to the Speaker Lockwood Smith over a Parliamentary Library research paper on national standards in primary schools.

Mrs Tolley said the paper was "unprofessional", "highly political" and so biased it could have been written by the union opposing the policy.

Mrs Tolley wants the paper withdrawn and rewritten.

Library researchers frequently produce papers on topics of the day, on the economy and legislation before the House.


What was our first thought? Didn't one of The Standard's former authors go to work at the Parliamentary Library after the 2008 election? We do believe he did. So we wonder - what IS "Steve Pierson" up to these days? Perhaps we've just found out.


UPDATE: While we were posting, DPF has also blogged on this, and his piece includes a link to the actual paper, along with some comments about about the independence pf the Parliamentary Library, and how this has changed in recent years.

UPDATE II: DPF's link doesn't work, so here is a link to the paper in question.




Strike One

The first "strike" under the Three Strikes legislation has been handed out - the Dom-Post reports:

An Upper Hutt man has been served with New Zealand's first warning under the controversial "three strikes" law after being convicted of groping a woman.

Dwyane Christopher Mercer, 32, was convicted in Upper Hutt District Court last week after pleading guilty to indecently assaulting his friend's partner. Indecent assault is one of 40 serious violent offences that attract "strikes" upon conviction. The law came into force on June 1.

Good. But right on cue, all the hand-wringing liberals show their stripes:

However, there are concerns the policy would breach New Zealand's Bill of Rights and international obligations. Critics said some juries may be reluctant to convict because of a concern criminals would get an unfairly harsh sentence.

Whatever. These are not innocent babes in the wood who are targetted by this legislation. They are criminals, and are in the frame because of the crimes which they have committed. Let's not forget that salient fact.

And we note from the Dom-Post story that Mercer was also convicted of assailting his mother (while drunk), and has a 16-year history of offending (while drunk). Strike One should be a wake-up call to him to address the root cause of his offending; his drinking.


Sepp says "sorry"

Sepp Blatter has apologised to the English and Mexican football teams for costly errors in their respective round-of-16 matches at the World Cup. Stuff reports:

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has apologised to England and Mexico for the refereeing errors that helped eliminate them from the World Cup and says Fifa will reopen the debate on introducing video technology.

Blatter said that he said sorry to team officials, and that the delegations of both teams accepted his apology.

"Naturally we deplore when you see the evidence of referees mistakes," said Blatter, who attended Monday morning's (NZ time) matches in Bloemfontein and Johannesburg.

Blatter said it would be "a nonsense" for Fifa not to look again at goal-line technology with its rule-making panel.

"After having witnessed such a situation," Blatter said, referring to England's non-goal against Germany, "we have to open again this file, definitely."

He said the International Football Association Board would consider changes at a July meeting in Cardiff, Wales.

"Naturally we will take on board again the discussion about technology. Something has to be changed," Blatter said, adding that the system could not be changed midway through the World Cup.

You're right Sepp. But it's too little, too late for Mexico and England. FIFA put all its eggs in one basket with regard to referees, and said egg is now smeared all over Blatter's face.

Cricket has used technology for "line" decisions for over fifteen years, and it's now an accepted part of the game. Tennis allows challenges, rugby and league have video referees, and even American football allows coaches to challenge refereeing decisions. FIFA stands pretty much alone in refusing to review refereeing howlers.

And Stuff adds this gem from Herr Blatter:

Speaking to reporters at a briefing, Blatter said the controversy had not spoiled his enjoyment of the tournament.

"Generally, I am happy with what I have seen," said Blatter, who has attended 20 of the first 54 matches since the World Cup opened June 11.

Of course it hasn't. Blatter's beloved Germans are still in the running!

Outrageous Labour

Only Jane Clifton could pull this one off. Her column in this week's Listener makes the magazine worth buying, even if you read nothing else. It's brilliant, topical satire. Unfortunately, it's also not online, so to share a few titbits with you, we have to dio it the old-fashioned way, and given that we are two-fingered typists at best, it's been a bit laborious.

So, please excuse any typos, and enjoy! She begins:

Apparently the Americans have made a pig's ear of copying our favourite local drama, Outrageous Fortune - but here at home, the Labour Party is doing a creditable imitation of the vintage first series. This is a dysfunctional Westie family caper at its most entertaining. Poor old Phil Goff is doing his best Ceryl West matriarch turn to corral his troops into some semblance of respectability (although he must realise it's an act you can never pull off unless you secretly know you're wearing a Hoochie Mama leopard-skin thong and Wonderbra under your clothing.


If the thought of Phil Goff in a leoprad-skin thong and bra isn't TOO off-putting, we'd recommend that you keep reading, because Clifton has some characterisation gems tucked away - read on:


Shane and Chris have been getting up to no good, doing it incompetently, failing to get away with it and sulking in the best tradition of Van and Munter; David, Charles and Clayton are having delusions of grandeur to rival Pascalle's; Trevor in Parliament is behaving like God's avenging solicitor (Jethro); and Pete is just like old grandpa brooding on his obsessions out the back in the caravan.

Finally, in the role of the fallen patriarch Wolf, the malign guardian angel who is unavoidably detained afar, Helen is always ready with a helpful text or a heart-to-heart from New York whenever anything goes wrong.


This is without a doubt some of the best satire that we have read in a long time. But even better than that, every characterisation that Clifton has attempted is right on the money. We especially like the portrayal of Pete Hodgson as obsessional; he actually wrote a letter to The Listener last week, trying to get traction on John Key's blind trusts.


Jane Clifton's political columns almost always make good reading, but she has absolutely excelled herself this time around. Get yourself a Listener this week; the $4.00 investment is money well spent' and no, we're not being paid to say that!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Kevin Rudd Caption Contest

We had a lot of fun yesterday with the Wayne Rooney caption contest, and it's a bit of a "slow news day" today. It shouldn't have been; Kevin Rudd was scheduled to address the New Zealand Parliament today, but that plan went west last week. So, make what you will of this photograph of Kevin Rudd in the Former Prime Ministers' graveyard ...




Give it your best shot!


Steve Price won't be back




We've just heard the news on Newstalk ZB; Steve Price has played his last game for the Vodafone Warriors.

Price has been battling a foot injury since the end of last season, and despite off-season surgery, he's simply run out of time to get on the field in his retirement season. He's scheduled for more surgery at the end of this week; season-ending surgery. That's a huge shame for the Warriors. Price has been a breath of fresh air both on and off the field.

It would have been great if the Warriors faithful could have the chance to give him a proper farewell at the end of his last game, but that's not to be. We're sure that Price will not have made the decision to have further surgery lightly.

But time marches on, and a career beyond the playing field beckons. All we can do is salute Price for the fantatstic contribution he has made to the Warriors since crossing the ditch. He leaves a hole that will be nigh on impossible to fill.


83 and 84

The annual Readers' Digest "most-trusted" survey is out, and it's bad news for politicians, especially those who follow a yellow-blazered leader. The Herald reports:

Financial advisers and politicians - especially Act Party members - are regarded as among the least trustworthy people in New Zealand, a survey has found.

Thanks to high-profile financial failures such as Hanover Finance and Bridgecorp, financial planners have fallen into disrepute, coming in at number 32 of 40 on the Reader's Digest annual survey of the most-trusted professions.

Perennial cellar dwellers telemarketers (40), politicians (39) and sex workers (38) took the bottom three spots, with journalists and tow truck drivers coming in at 35th and 34th places respectively.


Now these kind of things are hardly scientific, but they DO provide a window into people's thinking. And at the moment, it seems that not many people are thinking of voting for Act, which rather confirms what various political polls are telling us.

But even though Rodney Hide and Sir Roger Douglas will be mortified at rating #'s 83 and 84 respectively (out of 85), they'll doubtless be consoled by this piece:

Rodney Hide, the Local Government Minister, and his Act Party colleague Sir Roger Douglas are among those least trusted by the nation.

The pair - who took spots 83 and 84, respectively - were beaten only by Maori Party MP Hone Harawira, who came dead last on the annual list of the country's 85 most-trusted.


We reckon the reality is that Act will always struggle to get traction whilst it pushes a hard-right political agenda. Sir Roger Douglas is, in our opinion, electoral poison. Sure, economic policy changes were needed in the mid-1980's after nine years of Muldoonism. But Douglas went too far, too fast, and it had a cost.

We remember a cricket trip to Central Hawkes Bay in the late 1980's. Waipukurau had always been a prosperous rural town, but when we were there, it was like a ghost town. Douglas' reforms hit farmers especially hard, and when farmers stopped spending money, communities like Waipukurau were hit hard. Douglas seemed far happier to be the darling of the sharemarket set.

It was no surprise to us that John Key ruled out a Cabinet role for Douglas well in advance of the last election; he too realised that Douglas belonged to a bygone era. And as much as we believe that Act has a role to play as a support party to National, we reckon they will continue to struggle to garner support whilst they are associated with the only New Zealand politician to be less trusted than Hone Harawira.


FIFA and technology



Is this the moment which will drag FIFA kicking and screaming into the 21st century?

We certainly hope so. Football is not only a global sport; it is a huge industry. And the major benefactor of the money in football is FIFA. FIFA though is also reactionary, and many would say corrupt. Andrew Jennings alleged as much in his excellent 2004 book Foul! which laid bare some VERY dodgy practices by and within FIFA.

Surely though, FIFA can no longer turn a blind eye to refereeing howlers such as England's non-goal against Germany yesterday, or a blatant offside for Argentina's first goal against Mexico. You'd like to think so, but FIFA of course is a law unto itself; a self-fulfilling prophesy. FIFA will do what suits FIFA, and in all likelihood, that will be nothing!

And the football website Goal.com is leading the crusade, with an open letter to Herr Blatter - check this out:

Goal.com has championed the appropriate use of technology in football, to bring the required tools to those people responsible for upholding the beauty of the game. We do not advocate the replacement of the human judgement in the game, merely fairness where it can be decided definitively in a short space of time, for the benefit of players, coaches and fans. Nobody loses.

Crucially, failure to adapt will mean that some of the most beautiful and iconic moments in football are overshadowed, denied or perceived negatively - despite it being avoidable. Frank Lampard scored a beautiful and potentially game-changing goal for England against Germany, which was incorrectly ruled out. That could have been the beginning of one of the World Cup's greatest ever comebacks - or perhaps not - but surely even Germany fans would have preferred for the goal to stand, and for them to then still go on and win the match in the fantastic fashion that they did. Either way, it is about doing what's fair.


We couldn't agree more. It's time for FIFA to face the facts - the Beautiful Game has become a thing of farce. Even such "progressive" organisations as the ICC and IRB (try saying that with a straight face!) have accepted
the reality that officials make mistakes.

If yesterday's two incidents are to have any upside, it will be that they were catalysts for change. But change is not a process with which FIFA is familiar, so we won't be holding our breath!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Smokefree Prisons

So, smoking is going to be banned in all New Zealand prisons from 1 July 2011. We have no problem whatsoever with that decision by Judith Collins and her Cabinet colleagues. Stuff reports:

Corrections minister Judith Collins announced the measure today saying it was out of concern for the health and safety of prison staff. There was also concern about potential legal action from prison staff or non-smoking prisoners over exposure to second-hand smoke if no action was taken.

Corrections head Barry Matthews said prisoners also used lighters and matches to damage property, such as throwing burning balls of toilet paper at guards and setting fires in their cells.

He said he had considered the option of allowing it in designated outside areas only but that would have been problematic for staff having to shepherd prisoners outside for cigarette breaks and provide lighters.

Neither Ms Collins nor Mr Matthews were smokers and conceded they did not know how difficult it was to quit.

However, Ms Collins said the health of staff was their priority. Such bans were already used in Canada and in some Australian states.

''Prisoners with alcohol and drug addictions have to deal with it. We don't offer alcohol to prisoners with alcohol addictions or P to prisoners with methamphetamine addictions. This is a prison, it's not a home.''


We've never smoked. Having a parent who chain-smoked was enough to put us off smoking for life. We still find the smell of stale cigarette smoke to be repulsive.

And we've done time in prison. No, not as inmates, but we were involved in prison ministry for several years. It gave us the opportunity to see what goes on behind the wire, and it was quite revealing. We would sometimes hold services in four or five different units over the course of an afternoon and early evening. And without exception, nearly every inmate who attended the services smoked. When we heard Judith Collins say today that around 67% of inmates smoke, we were mildly surprised; we actually expected the percentage to be much higher. But many of the guys we spoke to, some of whom were doing signifcant lags, had NOT smoked prior to their imprisonment.

The smell of smoke was everywhere; inmates reeked of it, furnishings in common rooms reeked of it, and when we were taken for walks through cell blocks, a blue haze hung just above head level. It wasn't a pleasant environment. And given that prisons are more crowded now than when we were going in there, it's only going to be worse.

We have several friends working as Corrections Officers, none of whom smoke. All however believe that their health is being negatively impacted through enforced inhalation of second-hand smoke. On this basis alone, Judith Collins' move will be welcomed by many CO's. But there's also an opportunity for inmates to leave prison healthier than they went in. That too cannot be a bad thing.

Sure, inmates will kick up a fuss, but access to tobacco products is not a fundamental human right. Prison inmates are there for a reason; they have committed crimes deemed serious enough for them to be imprisoned. Certain freedoms are forfeited, and one of those will soon be the freedom to smoke. We applaud Judith Collins' decision today.



World Cup Caption Contest

We haven't had a caption contest for a while, so when we say this picture of Stuff just a few minutes ago, we couldn't resist. Give it your best shot, but remember, some of our English friends are taking this hard ...


What's Ol' Man River up to?

It's not that long ago that Jim "Ol' Man River" Anderton was urging what members remained in the Progressive Party to give their party votes to Labour. Now, as Ele reports over at Homepaddock, the Progressives are re-registering as a political party.

What could be prompting that, we wonder? We can only conclude that it has something to do with Jim Anderton's mayoral campaign in Christchurch. Anderton is, of course, campaigning on your taxes and mine, given that he isn't going to resign his Wigram seat any time soon. In fact, he's indicated that he won't resign before next year's election, even if he becomes mayor of what will be New Zealand's second most populous city.

Ol' Man River is a party leader in name only. The Progressives exist in name only. Anderton sits on Labour's front bench, and is Labour's agriculture spokesman. It is an affront that your taxes and ours give him additional funding as a party leader.

And let's not forget Anderton's heightened sense of entitlement, to quote Phil Goff. The taxpayer has given Jim "Ol' Man River" Anderton a pretty good lifestyle over the last twenty or so years, especially those when he was a Minister in Helen Clark's government. The recent revelations over ministerial credit cards, and Anderton's faux outrage when questioned on his spending clearly illustrate that.

Voters of Christchurch, beware. If you thought that Bob Parker was good at spending Other People's Money, you might find that he is a mere babe in arms compared to Ol' Man River. Be careful what you wish (or vote!) for!


Don't mention the score!

That's the clever play on words that Paul Henry and co are using on Breakfast in the wake of German's trouncing of England overnight. So we won't mention the score, except to say that the winning team scored four times and the losing team scored twice, but only one counts due to inept refereering.

We can see now why Herr Blatter, who rules FIFA with an iron fist is so resistant to the use of technology to get refereering decisions right. Had England gone to half-time at 2-all, it could have been a different game in the second half, and Germany's dominance of the match might have been threatened. Instead, England now has one shot (Brazil 2014) to avoid going 50 years between World Cups.

So for all our English friends, here's a bit of classic Anglo-German comedy to lighten your hearts this fateful morning...




Sunday, June 27, 2010

Is Len Brown morphing into Andrew Williams?

Now why would we be asking that question? Well, back in April (on Easter Sunday in fact) Andrew Williams sent out an e-mail. We blogged on it at the time, but it won't hurt to reproduce it again:

From: Mayor Andrew Williams [mailto:mayor@northshorecity.govt.nz]
Sent: Sunday, 4 April 2010 8:31 AM
To: Grant Gillon; Callum Blair; Jan O'Connor; Joy Brett JP; Julia Parfitt - EXT; Ken McKay QSM J.P.; Tony
Holman QSO; Vivienne Keohane
Cc: SteveArmitage
Subject: RE: Sunday Star Times articles today
Yes two blokes got crucified this week...and both will most certainly rise from the dead to come back to haunt a few people!!
Must go....off fishing to catch some big ones.
Andrew
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Andrew Williams, JP | Mayor of North Shore
Email mayor@northshorecity.govt.nz
Tel 09-4868687
Fax 09-4868445
Web www.northshorecity.govt.nz
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Where are we going with this? Check this out, from today's Herald on Sunday:

Super City mayoral candidate Len Brown has considered pulling out of the race because of the impact on his family, he has revealed in an emotional interview.

He said only Jesus Christ had withstood such a high level of scrutiny as him, and come out clean. If ratepayers demand that he identifies who he meets with, then he will quit as Manukau mayor.

Brown spoke with the Herald on Sunday after the Auditor-General chastened him for "mistakes" but decided not to further investigate personal spending on his city council credit card.

The mayor insisted he had no obligation to disclose who he had taken to dinner on public money, and that criticism of his spending was a Citizens and Ratepayers "smear campaign".


Now we realise that Len Brown is under a lot of pressure since the revelations were made about his credit card spending. But this is just bizarre, for two reasons.

Firstly, Brown may feel he's playing to his constituency with his self-comparison to Jesus. However, we believe that many people will be deeply offended by the Mayor of Manukau comparing himself to the Son of Man. We believe that Len Brown is treading on very dangerous ground. And the comparison isn't even a valid one; after all, Winston Peters endured all manner of inquiries prior to the last election, whereas the Auditor-General doesn't regard Len Brown's spending as worthy of the time and effort of her office.

Secondly, why is Len Brown being so coy over who dined with him at Volare? What does he have to hide? If the dinner was an acceptable use of ratepayer funds, as Brown insists it was, then why will he not reveal who shared his table AT THE EXPENSE OF MANUKAU RATEPAYERS? And does he not realise that the more he plays silly beggars over this, the more questions people will ask, and the more speculation such as this will occur. It's Len Brown himself who continues to give this story legs, and it seems to have reached the stage where the only way it will go away will be for Brown to front up. But we don't expect that to happen any time soon.


Christian Music Sunday - 27/6/2010

We've mentioned a couple of times that Matt Redman is one of the worship leaders and songwriters whose music we really relate to. So it's no surprise that he features again today, albeit with a twist.

We found this video when we were looking at versions of Abide With Me for Anzac Day, and we stumbled across the London Community Gospel Choir's version from the FA Cup Final at Wembley. There's something about gospel singing that lifts the heart, so we watched a few more videos of the choir and found this one.

Blessed Be Your Name is one of Matt Redman's signature songs, and was co-written with his wife Beth. It's a challenging song; the message is that followers of Jesus need to worship Him both in good times and bad. The couple later wrote a book based on the song, from which we include this:

Worship is always a choice. At times it’s an easy, straightforward one. When life is peaceful and painless, the choice to respond to God in thanksgiving and praise may not be such a hard one to make. But at other times in our lives, worship becomes a much gutsier decision. Caught up amidst a whirlwind of pain and confusion, the decision to cry out “yet I will praise You” is a costly act of devotion. In the life of every worshipper there will come times when worship meets with suffering. And these moments shape what kind of worshippers we will become. Yes, praise be to God for times of abundance and plenty in our lives—those carefree days full of peace and laughter. Yet, we praise Him also in the wilderness times—those dark and stormy seasons of the soul where we’re left crying out with the Psalmist, “How long, O Lord, how long?”

When trials come, trust must arise. When there’s nothing to shake the boat, our trust in God is rarely tested. Seasons of stillness and calm are wonderful—yet before too long the winds will start to gather—and we’ll find ourselves caught up once again in the storms of life. The question then is this: can we still find our way to the place of praise? We may have faith to believe that He is God of the calm—but do we also have faith enough to believe Him as God of the storm? He is God of both the hurricane and the gentle breeze. The One who rules and reigns amidst all of the earthquakes of this life—those times when our whole world seems to be shaking and breaking apart.

This song has personal significance for us; it has sustained us through difficult times, and encouraged us to persevere; we hope that someone will be similarly encouraged today.




Is Matt McCarten ill?

We have to ask that question. We are worried for him. He's actually dished out a compliment to John Key! It's tucked away in a piece he's written on the clinical leadership change in the Australian Labor Party - he begins:

It's hard on this side of the Tasman to quite understand what happened to Kevin Rudd.

After he defeated John Howard for the prime minister's job the world swooned. Rudd was part of a new wave of intelligent, moderate social democratic leaders led by Barack Obama. John Key was also part of this new order.


Rudd's fall from grace in itself has not been as surprising as the velocity of the fall was. Rudd went from hero to zero (in ALP terms) in a matter of weeks. His political management failed in spectacular fashion. And here's where McCarten shocks us:

But governing successfully, and winning campaigns, require two different skill sets.

Obama is struggling with that predicament. Fortunately for this Government, Key has made the transition seamlessly.

Rudd, however, has been a train wreck, stuffing up one policy after another.

Rudd's arrogance and flip-flopping put him offside with the electorate.


Goodness. Has Matt McCarten had a Road to Damascus experience? Is he having a mid-life crisis? Are the planets in alignment? Or has Matt McCarten just stopped reading all the vitriol that The Standard and other organs of the left churn out, and seen what so many New Zealanders see, judging by Key and National's continued high poll ratings?

Key's star will fade one day, just as Rudd's did, and it will be interesting to see how that pans out in the National caucus. National has a "proud" history of bloodless coups.

McCarten then goes on to praise the ALP for its swift and decisive action this week, whilst lamenting the absence of those qualities here:

You have to hand it to the Aussie Labor Party: if its leaders don't perform, they are quickly and efficiently dispatched.

The party's had a string of leaders in recent years and if new leader Julia Gillard can't save it from electoral defeat in a few months it will shaft her, too.The party's New Zealand parliamentary counterpart doesn't have the same ruthless survival instincts to oust its leaders when it can't win.

Our Labour MPs, in their hearts, knew Helen Clark couldn't win the last election and know Phil Goff can't win the next one.

But, as they did with Clark, they'll go into denial and pretend that as long as they plod along they'll still have a chance.


That's an astute observation by McCarten, morese as to where Labour is at now rather than in the Clark years. Helen Clark made Labour her personal fortress through a combination of candidate selection and ruling with an iron fist.

Phil Goff has neither of those advantages. He leads a caucus literally hand-picked by his predecessor and thus loyal to her, and he does not have the aura of power enjoyed by Helen Clark. He had a chance to bare his teeth with the Carter scandal, but he has allowed Carter to dictate terms, and the perception now is that Goff is a weak leader. That may not be the reality, but in politics, perception is everything. And the more we think about it, the more we believe that David Cunliffe's patsy question to Bill English this week was Cunliffe's sign that he believes that he is the "chosen one" to replace Goff.

Finally, McCarten also has some interesting things to say about Len Brown, but that's another story for another day. We will be watching McCarten's future utterances with interest to see if the malaise passes, or whether he has actually fallen out of love with the left!


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Why aren't we surprised?

Why are we not surprised that Michael Jackson's father Joe chose the anniversary of the singer's death to sue Dr Conrad Murray? Have a read of this:

Michael Jackson's father has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the doctor charged with giving the pop superstar a lethal dose of sedatives one year ago, accusing the Nevada doctor of negligence, secrecy and poor training.

Joe Jackson sued Dr. Conrad Murray on Friday - the anniversary of Michael Jackson's death - in federal court in Los Angeles.

The complaint, which seeks more than $75,000, accuses Murray of professional negligence for providing the singer with a mix of sedatives - including the anaesthetic propofol - that authorities say killed him.


We guess it's really no surprise at all that Joe Jackson seemed more concerned with publicity and money on the first anniversary of his son's death. After all, this last year has been the most productive of the late singer's career, and Joe Jackson has never been shy of an opportunity to make money from his family.

Let's get physical

It sounds as though the All Blacks' second test against Wales in Hamilton tonight could be a physical contest. The weather forecast isn't flash, the ground has absorbed quite a bit of rain during the week, and the Welsh seem to have conceded that they can't match the All Blacks for strike-power out wide.

But that prospect doesn't faze the All Blacks at all, as Evan Pegden of the Waikato Times reports:

Wales are promising a physical battering at tonight's second rugby test against the All Blacks.

But All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw said they were fully expecting it and ready for it.

Wales' Waikato coach Warren Gatland said yesterday physical commitment had been stressed at a team meeting earlier in the day with assistant coach Robin McBride leading the call for the players to look within themselves.

"The body will go as far as the mind tells it to go in terms of that physical confrontation and there's no tougher place to come and experience that physical confrontation than New Zealand," Gatland said.

"Bring it on." we say. In two and three weeks' time, the All Blacks face South Africa at Auckland and Wellington respectively. They know that they will be physically tested in those matches, from which will almost certainly emerge a Tri-Nations winner. So a hard, physical, confrontational match tonight will be right up their alley.

They've picked a forward pack with that in mind, we reckon. The tight five of Woodcock, Mealamu, Tialata, Thorn and the recalled Tom Donnelly are hard men. It may not be the All Blacks' best tight five in our opinion, but none of them will back away from a physical confrontation. McCaw was in sublime form last weekend, with Kieran Read not far behind. and Jerome Kaino is our most physical loose forward.

We expect the All Blacks to win tonight, and to win with comfort. We'd expect a better start from them; they will be keen to deal to the Welsh forwards early in the game, and not allow them forty minutes of dominance or even parity. We'll be looking more at the manner of the All Blacks play rather than the scoreline.

The Tri-Nations squad is named tomorrow, so all those on the field tonight have plenty to play for. Let's hope that we see a rampant performance by the All Black forwards in particular; one which quickly extinguishes any fire from the Red Dragon.

UPDATE: New Zealand 29: Wales 10

What a poor test match. It was error-ridden, and some pedantic refereering from Jonathan Kaplan (especially around the advantage law) didn't help. The Welsh tried hard and were rewarded with a late try, but they played to and often beyond the limit of the law. The All Blacks lacked and spark, and made a worrying number of handling errors.

The positives: Brad Thorn had a huge game, especially in the last quarter as the Welsh attacked, and Tom Donnelly put himself about for 50 minutes. He was a tackling machine! Dan Carter's goalkicking was good, Zac Guilford looked sharp on attack and strong on defence, and Aaron Cruden will be bouyed by a late first test try.

The negatives: The All Black scrum was average at best throughout the match. Too much ball was turned over, and attacking opportunities were few and far between. Mils Muliaina was well below his best, and looked pedestrian towards the end.

It was a poor dress rehersal for the Tri-Nations after two encouraging performances to start the international season. Major improvements will be needed across the park if the All Blacks are to co mpete against the South Africans in two weeks' time.

Quote of the Week

This one's from John Roughan in this morning's Herald, as he opines about Dr Russel Norman's clumsy protest against the Chinese last week:

Crude mute methods of political expression can be expected of people who have no other means of making their point.

Members of Parliament with all the resources, privileges, speaking opportunities and media recognition that come with their seat, are the last people who need to resort to offensive techniques. I don't know whether Russel Norman succeeded in embarrassing China last week but he certainly embarrassed me.


It's very hard to argue against that logic! And whilst we won't dwell on it, Roughan's column is well worth a read for his views on MMP and the status of List MP's.


Good news



We've had quite a bit to say about failed Hanover director Mark Hotchin over the last couple of months, and it hasn't been complimentary. So we weren't at all unhappy when we read this in the Herald this morning:

Hanover Finance co-founder Mark Hotchin will not be moving into his $30 million Paritai Drive mansion.

Instead, it will be sold, and Mr Hotchin seems likely to stay overseas.

Klaus Sorensen, who is acting as a spokesman for Mr Hotchin, said the 4322sq m property would be sold when it was completed, but he did not know when that would be.

The unfinished mansion has been criticised by some neighbours who say it is an eyesore that devalues their homes.

"We're not saying why it's being sold, we're just simply saying that it's going to be sold and people are just going to draw their own conclusions," Mr Sorensen said.

"I mean, the reasons are probably pretty obvious."

He said the property had become a lightning rod for all the "vilification" and investor anger over Hanover's failure.

"For all sorts of reasons it makes sense to move on, to sell the property on completion and allow someone else to enjoy it."


It's wonderful that Hotchin has the option to "move on", he and Watson having siphoned many millions of dollars from Hanover in fees before the company collapsed. Most of the 16,000 plus Hanover investors, out of pocket to the tune of over $550 million do not have that option.

And Hotchin seems to have been reading Chris Carter's press:

The Weekend Herald understands that Mr Hotchin and wife Amanda - who are in Hawaii, according to Mr Sorensen - have decided not to return to New Zealand because of the outrage over the finance company's failure.


We're glad that Hotchin is finally acknowledging the court of public opinion. He's not gay (to the best of our knowledge), so the card that he is playing is the "they're picking on me because I'm a rip-off merchant who likes the good things in life and like to flaunt my wealth" card. Tough!

We don't resile one bit from our criticism of Hotchin and his mate Watson. As we have said previously, neither we nor any of our whanau lost any money to Hanover, so we don't have an axe to grind in that regard. We simply don't believe that it's fair that wide boys like Hotchin and Watson can cause so much misery to so many and escape any criminal censure, at the same time as they had made more-than-adequate provision for their own post-Hanover lifestyles by virtue of the money they channelled out of the company. For Hotchin to then build an obscene monument to his own ego was the ultimate insult.

All that remains then is the disposal of Hotchin's mansion. In a peverse sort of way, we'd rather like the government to buy it, and to tear it down. The sections over which it stands could then be sub-divided and sold, and Paratai Drive might recover some of the grandeur it had before the Neighbours from Hell moved in.


Yeah right and all that

Nice to see Tui Brewery climbing on the All Whites' World Cup bandwagon ...



It's a good piece of marketing, but the sentiment behind it is right on the money.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Carter states the obvious



Breaking news, at both the
Herald and Stuff websites:

Labour MP Chris Carter has told media he travelled "excessively" as a minister and shouldn't have taken his partner with him as often as he did.

Carter also told media he would be returning to Parliament next Tuesday, having spent the past week working in his Te Atatu electorate, after his position within the party was thrown into doubt following his party demotion.

Mr Carter lost his foreign affairs portfolio and was bumped down the Labour Party list for failing to front up and properly apologise over his credit card spending as a minister.

He told media today he had had time to reflect and "sincerely" apologised to the taxpayers of New Zealnd for the distraction he had caused.

He confirmed he would be standing in his Te Atatu electorate.


Why do the words "yeah right" keep ringing in our ears? And does this mean that the faction of Labour's caucus loyal to the former leader has exerted pressure on the current leader to acquiese?

Watch this space ...


Edwards knifes Goff

Brian Edwards is well known as a veteran broadcaster. But more recently, he's also been Helen Clark's media trainer and biographer. Those latter points put this blog-post on Phil Goff into context - he begins:

Either Phil Goff is getting appalling advice from his media advisers or he is ignoring good advice. Either way, his recent handling of Chris Carter would suggest that he has totally lost the plot.

One of the most basic tenets of public relations and of politics is that the ultimate goal in handling any problem is to make it go away. Our training mantra - be straightforward, tell the truth, admit your mistakes - is undoubtedly the best way to achieve that result. But however you handle the problem, the silliest thing you can do is to prolong bad media coverage by giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a dying issue. That is precisely what Goff is doing by demanding that Carter front the media on the issue of his alleged abuse of his ministerial expenses, if and when he is allowed to return to parliament.

The biggest news story in New Zealand at the moment is the good news story about the All Whites’ stunning performances in South Africa. The country is in a feel-good mood and the ministerial expenses issue has faded in the print media and been largely absent from our television screens for a few days. Goff ought to be breathing a sigh of relief, more especially since his disciplining of Carter, which the pundits said would win him brownie points, has had no positive effect on his personal ratings as preferred Prime Minister. He is barely above the non-candidate Helen Clark.


Edwards raises a very interesting point here. Why indeed would Goff give a dying story legs? Sure, Chris Carter was quoted in the Sunday Star-Times as having taken advice from his former leader, but beyond that, the Carter saga was losing momentum. Edwards expounds further:

Essentially Goff says he is unsure that Carter’s unreserved written apology to the public, in which the former minister described himself as ‘embarrassed’ and ‘contrite’, was heartfelt or that ‘he understands why a genuine apology is needed’. ‘He needs,’ says Goff, ‘ to believe what he says. I don’t know that yet.’

So Goff has demanded an apology to the taxpayers from Carter, got that apology in the form of a full-blown maxima culpa, then decided that he isn’t happy with what’s going on in the deep recesses of Carter’s mind and demanded that he prostrate himself in sackcloth and ashes before a hostile media pack as a condition of returning to parliament.

Leaving aside the fairness or unfairness of this latest demand, it is, in political and PR terms, sheer nuts. A dying issue has been brought back to life.

And what precisely is the issue? Well, according to Goff, it is more about Carter’s excessive travel bill while a Minister than it is about his use of his ministerial credit card on personal items. So Carter is being retrospectively punished not for the (repaid) $250 worth of personal items which he put on his ministerial credit card, but for travel which was approved and signed off by a Labour Cabinet, of which Goff himself was a member.

Now, this would be interesting commentary if it came from a neutral observer. But Brian Edwards is far from neutral. He is a former Labour Party parliamentary candidate. He has, as we mentioned earlier, close links to Helen Clark. So does Chris Carter.

That leaves Edwards' blog-post open to interpretation. Has the faction of the Labour caucus which was strongly loyal to Helen Clark declared war on Phil Goff? That's how we surmise this piece from Edwards. Others on the left are complimenting Phil Goff for his stance on Chris Carter; whilst Brian Edwards seems to have sharpened the knife and plunged it in.

But that's just OUR opinion - what do YOU think?




This Sporting Life special; It was great while it lasted



The All Whites' participation in FIFA World Cup 2010 is over. Unbeaten and unbowed, the team ended the group phase just one point short of qualifying for the knock-out phase.

Qualifying for South Africa was seen by most of us as a supreme achievement, even though the route which Ricki Herbert took as a coach was far less tortuous than the one he took in 1981-2 as a player! There was much scorn cast on the 2010 All Whites from the world's media, with some saying they were the worst team in South Africa, and others suggesting that they hadn't reaned the right to go head-to-head with the world's elite.

But the Ricki Herbert-coached team was made of strong stuff. Sure, we lack skills in key areas (and that was exposed today), but what the team lacked in skill was well and truly compensated for in terms of heart, determination, guts and sheer bloody-mindedness.

Only two goals were conceded; the same number as the All Whites scored. One of those was from a very soft penalty earned by a diving Italian. Ryan "Admiral" Nelsen led newcomers Tommy Smith and Winston Reid to form a terrific defensive combination, and after a shaky first half against Slovakia, Mark Paston was brilliant in goal.

The midfield was our Achilles heel. Tony Lochead, Leo Bertos and veterans Simon Elliott and Ivan Vicelich gave their all, but were unable to break down defences and get a regular supply of balls into the penalty area. Up front Shane Smeltz, Chris Killen and Rory Fallon tried their hardest, but hard-nosed defences and a lack of quality ball frustrated them.

Take nothing away from the All Whites though. They have exceeded every expectation. After the draw with Slovakia, they drew with the reigning World Cup holders. Perhaps the expectations we set for the final match were just a notch too high, but to see the looks of disappointment on the faces of the players post-match suggested that they too believed that, as in Nike-speak, Impossible is Nothing.

We're not disappointed. We were there on the night of 14 November 2009 when the All Whites qualified for South Africa. We seriously considered going over there to follow the team, but there were just too many impediments. We've lived and breathed the All Whites' World Cup journey, as have so many New Zealanders. It was indeed great, while it lasted.


All Whites; we salute you.

A song for the All Whites

Guys; you have done your country proud. You've exceeded all our expectations, and proved that your place in South Africa was well deserved. So this one's for you ...



Thoughts on the football - as it happens

Does anyone else have problems sleeping when they know there is a particular wake-up time? We've slept fitfully, but the appointed hour for the All Whites has almost arrived, the heater's on and the first cuppa has been made; it's time!

The laptop is at hand, so we'll be blogging our thoughts throughout the match; feel free to say gidday, and join in the discussion.

Bring it on!

UPDATES: The nervous first few minutes have passed, and thus far, the Paraguyans seem pretty subdued. Are they playing for a draw?

The Paraguyans are trying to get into the referee's head with Rory Fallon and his elbows. So far, the Japanese referee has been inscrutable!

It's 1-nil to Slovakia over Italy; that throws Group F wide open, and leaves the All Whites needing at least one goal. The matches are being played simultaneously.

Half-time, and it's still nil-all. The All Whites are right in this match, and they need a moment of magic now. The talking heads on Sky are surprised at how much Paraguay is sitting back. Two of Paraguay's key players have picked up yellow cards, and one of them (Caceres) will miss their next match. But the most significant thing from our point of view is this; the All Whites look as though they belong on the world stage, and that's fantastic!

That's the best All White attack; an interchange of passes between Lochhead and Elliott, but Elliott's shot is just wide - a good start to the second half though

Wood replaces Fallon, but we can't help but think that the All Whites need a bit more pace in midfield. Might McGlinchey be the man for the moment?

Slovakia leads Italy 2-zip! The World Champions are gone! A goal to the All Whites now, and incredibly, they can win Group F!!!

Ten minutes to go and Jeremy Brockie replaces Chris Killen. It has to be all-out attack now from the All Whites; nothing else matters...

FULL TIME: It's all over. New Zealand finish the group phase unbeaten, but one measly point short of qualifying for the round of 16. But #78 in the world finished ahead of #5 in the world, Italy.

It's been an incredible journey, and we're immensely proud of the All Whites. New Zealand football has arrived on the world stage; let's hope that unlike 1982, we can remain there.

Kia kaha All Whites - you have made a nation proud.











Thursday, June 24, 2010

One Shot For Glory



One Shot For Glory was the marketing slogan around the All Whites' campaign against Bahrain late last year. The slogan came from within the team, and gave birth to a most effective marketing campaign. A decision was taken early to set ticket prices at a level that would fill Westpac Stadium for the home leg of the tie. It was canny marketing; the Ring of Fire was full, the atmosphere was electric, and the All Whites had an opportunity to perform on the world stage.

Ricki Herbert's players have taken that opportunity with both hands, and in the dark of the New Zealand night tonight, they have a chance to make the round of sixteen at the World Cup. Let's be honest; two weeks ago, that was pretty much unthinkable. We may have had romantic notions about New Zealand being competitive, but making the second round? No way.

All that changed when Winston Reid headed home at the death to earn a draw with Slovakia. But there were still two formidable hurdles ahead; Italy and Paraguay. Against all predictions, ours included, the All Whites drew with with reigning World Cup holders and world #5 team, and now only Paraguay remains.

We have no doubt that the Paraguayans will be the more nervous when the teams file out onto the pitch tonight. Their football-mad nation expects them to win; the footballing world expects them to win; they are the team with everything to lose. By contrast, the All Whites have exceeded everyone's expectations, except perhaps their own.

The head says that Paraguay will win tonight, by a couple of goals. But the heart says that the All Whites will win by the odd goal, and create more footballing history. The heart has been in the ascendancy so far in this tournament as far as the All Whites are concerned, and long may that continue.

Paraguay will be a challenge tonight, make no mistake. Like other teams from Central and South America they play a highly technical game based on speed and skill, and it is a style with which the All Whites have struggled in the past. The All Whites will have to get in their faces, slow the game down, and frustrate the Paraguayans for as long as they can. And then the temprament might kick in.

Latin teams play on passion. And sometimes that passion spills over. If the All Whites can break down Paraguay's game, and get inside a couple of heads, anything is possible. But it will require another total team performance.

If the All Whites win, they are through to the second round. There are too many imponderables to worry about should they draw, and if they lose, their World Cup is over. It's a huge ask, but we are daring to believe that the All Whites can pull off a miracle in twelve hours time.

Yes, when this post goes up, there will be just twelve hours until kick-off. This is New Zealand football's biggest-ever moment. The All Whites (who will be playing in all-black strip tonight) really do have One Shot For Glory.








Bring it on!

Rudd rolled



Australia has a new Prime Minister - read on:

Julia Gillard is to become Australia's first female prime minister after Kevin Rudd stood down as Labor leader at a caucus meeting this morning.

Ms Gillard, not Mr Rudd, will now decide when to lead her party into the next election.

It is understood Mr Rudd stood aside to avoid a humiliating defeat. The new Deputy Prime Minister is Wayne Swan.

Just a year ago, Mr Rudd rivalled Bob Hawke as Australia's most popular leader. But he now joins Mr Hawke as the only other Labor prime minister dumped by his party.

Mr Rudd had decided to fight to the death after refusing to step aside last night for Ms Gillard.

Ms Gillard, however, was believed to have to the numbers before going into this morning's ballot, which was not held. She also had the backing of the powerful Australian Workers Union.



Doubtless there will be plenty more said and written about today's events. In the meantime, Stuff introduces the New Australian PM.

59-all



The world's longest-ever championship tennis match will continue into a third day. American John Isner (who won the Heineken Open in Auckland in January) and Frenchman Nicholas Mahut are tied at 59-all in the deciding fifth set of their second-round match at Wimbledon. Stuff reports:

The longest tennis match in recorded history, being played between American John Isner and Frenchman Nicholas Mahut at Wimbledon, will go into a third day.

With the match stretching past an astonishing 10 hours, play on the second day was suspended due to failing light on Wednesday (Thursday morning NZ time) with the fifth set locked at 59 games all.

The fifth set alone has taken seven hours and six minutes.

On Tuesday, play was halted after the fourth set.

The previous record of six hours 33 minutes was set when Fabrice Santoro beat Arnaud Clement at the French Open in 2004.

It's just as well that championship tennis adandoned the advantage set format a number of years ago, and introduced the tie-breaker for all but the final set. Just imagine; tie-breakers apart, it could just as easily be 70-all in the first set, in a best of five contest!

And amazingly, we've just heard on the Newstalk ZB sports news that it has been a match of high quality, with no quarter being given nor asked for by both participants. It will be interesting to see who emerges the freshest tomorrow, and just how much further the match goes before either Isner or Mahut gets the decisive two-game winning margin.

"It's all gone sour"

This one has been doing the rounds of the blogosphere for a couple of days, but it seems fitting to post it today; a brilliant commercial for the Liberal Party in Australia





And yes, it seems that it has indeed "all gone sour" for Kevin Rudd.

Maori rugby alive and well


We thoroughly enjoyed a fantastic game of rugby between England and the New Zealand Maori last night. McLean Park in Napier was packed to the rafters (James Stephenson might appreciate that reference), the atmosphere was electric, and the game lived up to the hype.

England rushed out to an early 13-0 lead, then the Maori struck back, before England ended the first half with back-to-back tries for a 28-17 lead. But two Hosea Gear tries in the first ten miniutes of the second half gave the Maori a lead to which they clung tightly, eventually winning 35-28.

Gear was the star of the show; we'll be stunned if he doesn't replace Joe Rokocoko when the Tri-Nations squad is named in a couple of weeks. His first try was as good a winger's try as you will ever see. Inside him, Luke McAllister had his best game since returning to New Zealand last year. Suddenly, our fragile midfield stocks look a whole lot better!

In the forwards, Liam Messam was an inspirational leader in the great Maori tradition, and his mobility along with that of his fellow loosies Karl Lowe and Tanirau Latimer was the difference between the teams. The front five struggled to gain parity with the big English pack, but never gave up.

It was a fantatstic result for the Maori, in the team's centenary year. Two international scalps in five days will add to the proud tradition of the Maori team, whose mana will live on will into its second century.

Suzy returns

Oh no! Can you believe it? Ryan Nelsen has a stomach bug, and sat out the All Whites training overnight, although Ricki Herbert reckons that he will be ready for tonight's World Cup match against Paraguay.

This is 1995 revisited. Get Laurie Mains over there quickly to run an identity parade of catering staff at the All Whites' base. Suzy the Waitress has returned, at the worst possible time!

Did The Penguin do it?

DPF, who's known in some places as The Penguin, blogged the following on Kiwiblog yesterday:

I’m in Canberra until Sunday, so posting frequency may be diminished.

While I have been many times to Australia, this will be my first ever visit to Canberra.


Then when we awoke this morning, we read this in the Herald:

Julia Gillard late last night appeared poised to become Australia's first female prime minister.

A dramatic coup that caught Canberra by surprise and unfolded within hours came after anger at the leadership of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd erupted among right-wing Labor factions and unions.

A Labor caucus ballot - which Mr Rudd said had been requested by Ms Gillard - will be held in Canberra this morning to decide the leadership.


What HAS David Farrar been up to, or is this a mere coincidence. Will we one day see a book from The Penguin - Kevin Rudd; My Part in His Downfall? The plot thickens ...

One thing looks certain however; Kevin Rudd is highly unlikely to make his historic address to the New Zealand Parliament next Tuesday.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

All White on the night

Stuff has started a campaign which we are absolutely delighted to support and endorse - check this out:

Stuff is calling on all of New Zealand to take part in a "White Out".

The sight of the White Noise boys (and some girls) with their shirts whirring around their heads after the 1-1 draw in Italy stirred something in most of us.

The response to Stuff's live commenting through our Facebook and Twitter accounts has been phenomenal in terms of response and coverage.

You have taken to the internet to show the boys that you're behind them, so let's change our avatars and profile photos to represent this.

Let's white out the streets of the country on Thursday and Friday in support of the All Whites; wear white with pride to work or play.

Similar to the "Black Out" campaigns in support of our rugby side, let's show how the internet can look when millions of Kiwis mobilise to support our national team.

Simply go here to find the NZ Football logo you can use as your image on Twitter, Facebook or other social networks.

NZ Football have allowed us to use this image - and for you to use it as personal use - because they believe in the White Out too.

Let's stand up and be counted.


Absolutely. This is the biggest moment in New Zealand's footballing history, and one to which we are looking forward with a real sense of anticipation and excitement. We'll be dragging our All White on the Night t-shirt out of the drawer tomorrow; the very one we wore at the Ring of Fire on 14 November 2009 when the All Whites qualified for the World Cup.

We'll preview the match tomorrow, but in the meantime, enjoy the moment when the right to go to South Africa was confirmed ..



Emmerson lampoons Carter

Rod Emmerson is in fine form this morning. He gives us an brilliant insight into Chris Carter's thought processes as he ponders his future ... enjoy!






Footnote: We originally entitled this thread Emmerson on Carter, but hastily changed that when the mental imagery kicked in!!


FTP



We're not easily gobsmacked, but that was the case when we watched Close Up last night. It wasn't the fact that Troy McKay was driving appallingly before the car he was driving hit a tree, killing him. It wasn't the fact that he was running from the Police. It wasn't even the fact that he had previously served a term of imprisonment for seriously injuring a passenger in a crash whilst running from the Police!

It wasn't any of the above. What left us gobsmacked was the sight, which you will see in the video above of Troy McKay's parents placing flowers on the cross on the tree - the cross above, painted with "RIP Troy - FTP"

FTP - we can only conclude from our limited knowledge of street talk that it is an abbreviation for F*ck the Police. That's right; it's all the Police's fault that Troy McKay died.

What complete and utter bullshit, if you'll pardon the phrase. The Police did not kill Troy McKay last weekend. He died as a result of the bad choices he made for whatever reason, be it booze, drugs, testosterone or simple stupidity. An eyewitness to the crash confirms that the chasing police car was some distance back. Troy McKay was the author of his own misfortune.

Police officers are an easy target in cases like this, but what is the alternative? Should they abandon chases as soon as the vehicle they are chasing accelerates away? No, absolutely not; that would be the first step on the journey to anarchy.

It's easy to be critical of the police. We frequently dismiss traffice police as revenue-gatherers, but that does them an injustice. They have a sworn responsibility to protect all road users. Sadly though, the police no longer enjoy the respect they once did, and young people have little fear of consequences. We are now reaping the fruit of societal change which has empowered our young far and above what they deserve, and which has slowly diluted our sense of values.

Back to our original point. If we were one of Troy McKay's parents, we would have torn that highly offensive cross from the tree on which it had been nailed. The arrogance and attitudes behind those letters FTP played a significant role in McKay's death.


UPDATE: We've just heard a story on Newstalk ZB - there's a death notice in The Press this morning for McKay with a tribute from some of McKay's former inmate colleagues at Christchurch Prison. Says it all really, doesn't it.