Archive for December, 2007

Petty Politics – PC Plod PM protection pilloried

December 30, 2007

Hehe – 2007 truly has been the ‘annus horribilis’ for the NZ Police force. To cap off:

  • rape accusations (and some convictions)
  • cops chasing cars crunching children
  • interminably slow or no prosecution of dodgy politicians (think Taito Philip Field, Trevor Mallard & Tau Henare, most parties for election funding rorts, etc)
  • tasering and/or gunning down ( or trying to) various folks, dogs, themselves; then demanding the right to decide that they should permanently get tasers

it seems the police’s Diplomatic Protection Squad (DPS) couldn’t even spot a few random taggers, or burglars, or Exclusive Brethren, … when they play whoopy at the PM’s house, or Parliament.

In their defence, police assigned to protect the PM (by speeding to rugby matches?) could hardly be expected to watch her residence or place of work, could they? Nah, too much to expect.

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Don’t be a wally, take the Trolley!

December 22, 2007

Just a quick post to note the excellent article from Wellington blogger Poneke about the long-suffering Wellington city trolley buses.

Poneke has opened a can of worms, and I hope some councillors are forced to eat the entire can! There appears to be good evidence of corruption – public assets placed in subsidiary companies and given public cash to maintain and operate the trolley bus wires and substations does not seem to have translated into a reliable, functioning trolley bus network.

Hopefully the Welly folks can sort it out and keep their iconic trolleys running into the future (which the oil fuelled buses won’t be doing, courtesy of oil production decline).

It would also be interesting to see how an electric trolley bus route from Wellington central rail station to the airport via Oriental and Evans Bays would stack up? Flat but winding scenic route on the existing coastal road, and no need to tunnel and pave motorways over everything as currently proposed by Transit, Wellington City and Greater Wellington Regional Councils …

In a ‘class’ all their own

December 21, 2007

Who’d a thunk it? Turns out the nobs and the masses both enjoy pop culture. Wonder what the various marxist sects will make of this? Curse bourgeois research! 😉

Bellingham killer cop walks free

December 21, 2007

The police officer who shot dead Stephen Bellingham in Christchurch has been cleared of any criminal charges by an internal police investigation.

Bellingham allegedly attacked the officer with a claw hammer, though there are conflicting eye witness accounts as to whether Bellingham actually had a hammer at the point he advanced on the cop.

It is not the first time this cop has faced allegations of violence.

 The ‘Independent’ Police Complaints Authority (aka the police congratulatory authority – it is made up of a few retired judges, but their investigations of police are normally done by … police) investigation is ongoing.

The key problem here is these reviews rarely look at police actions leading up to the shootings other than to establish the locations of the people involved. There needs to be systemic understanding of the alternatives police have available to them (use of numbers, riot gear, pepper spray, police dogs, etc). This is not to downplay the difficulties police frequently face – just to highlight the growing police compliance culture; ‘obey or die’ (or get tasered, or …).

We need a royal commission of enquiry into police use of alternative methods of resolving violent incidents, especially focussed on how police get themselves in situations where they needlessly confront offenders in a manner that endangers themselves, justifying use of lethal force.

That way we will avoid more ‘cop kills civilian’ incidents like the Bellingham and Steven Wallace shootings (2 cops left 1 cop at the scene of a drunk window-smashing Wallace in Waitara to get guns, returned and shot and killed Wallace after he advanced on them) – see related “Taser fun for everyone” post.

Brace yourself for it…

December 21, 2007

… the Kiwis get spanked again by the Ozzies! Yes folks, it was another drubbing at the hands of ‘punter’ Ponting (134no). View the misery on the Cricinfo scorecard or summary bulletin.

At least Scott Styris dragged himself back from a small form slump on the South African and Australian tours, to punch 75 quickly. Nice to see Mark Gillespie plunder a few quick runs with the bat too, as revenge for his expensive, though useful, bowling.

Back home, the knives seem to be sharpening for the coach, John Bracewell, from journos and the Beige Brigade. That is a little unfortunate, as despite some blunders, ‘braces’ is far better in my view than lamentable former coach Steve Rixon, who recently made a hamfisted effort to finesse his way back into the Kiwi coaching job. While a blind badger could have accurately made the same predictions as Rixon, the Ozzie had clearly paid too much attention to Canterbiury (and now Wallaby) coach Robbie Deans in the latter’s efforts to pry retained All Black coach Graham Henry from his job. Now Deans gave a PR job to watch 🙂

Anyway, I hope NZ coach and selectors take the Bangladesh tour opportunity to build a strong confident Black Cap squad based around experienced players, not U-19 emigres that catch selector Hadlee’s eye as ‘the next Tendulkar’.

Giving Gillespie, Martin, and Michael Mason a chance to form a quick bowling team with Oram would be good (anyone note Mills failed again to break through the Oz lineup), while Jeetan Patel has a chance to show his mettle against players who know spin intimately. Most of all though, a solid top-order batting line up must be worked on… Good luck to ’em!

Taser fun for everyone

December 20, 2007

Stunning – PC Plod has done it again! Just weeks after Canadian police repeatedly taser a Polish migrant to his death at Vancouver airport, US police taser a man just out of his spa pool.

Police forced their way into Donnell Williams’ home in Wichita as he was just getting out of his tub, with a towel around his waist. They say they told him to show them his hands and he didn’t. Williams says he wasn’t wearing his hearing aid and couldn’t hear. “I kept going to my ear yelling that I was scared. I can’t hear! I can’t hear,” he said. Apparently, the officers didn’t hear him because when he didn’t comply, they Tasered him. The police were responding to a call about a shooting, a call that turned out to be a false alarm.

(Source: Reason.com)

Oh, and the Wichita man was telling police he couldn’t hear them … because he did not have his hearing aid in. And police could hardly claim he was concealing a weapon. Despite this, the cops decided to taser the (presumably wet) man.

It seems police truly view tasers as a compliance weapon – you will comply with all police commands immediately or be tasered (maybe to death). And NZ police want to introduce tasers here!!!

Of course, NZ police union boss Greg O’ Connor claims the police should decide whether to use tasers [National Radio interview] (the public should Greg – we are the ones they will be inflicted on), and that cops having tasers will mean cops will kill less people by shooting them with guns …

Of course, it does not seem to have occured to Mr O’ Connor that police could change their training manual to teach police how to defuse situations without using guns OR tasers. The one advantage police have is their ability to quickly outnumber an offender with fit, strong officers. That, and riot shields, stab-proof vests, long batons, pepper spray …

Sadly, when cops have the option of weapons, they all too frequently go for them as a first response, not a last ditch method. Witness the 2000 killing of drunk golf-club wielding Waitara man Steven Wallace; 2 male cops left their female colleague alone with Wallace for 10 minutes while they went to get Glock pistols at the local cop-shop, before returning and shooting Wallace dead. While police claim Wallace advanced on them, this may have been triggered by the cops first shooting over Wallaces’ head (the police summary linked to above paints the police actions in a better light than the details of the police inquiry report). It also ignores the fact that police outnumbered a drunk man by 3 to 1. Riot shields would have stopped Wallace seriously harming the cops while they subdued him.

So having tasers available would not have stopped police killing Wallace – the 2 officers went past riot gear to get guns; they would also probably have ignored tasers.

Verdict – giving tasers to police will increase the numbers of members of the public killed by police, not decrease them.

Electoral Finance Bill Passed

December 19, 2007

So Labour have rammed through the Electoral Finance Bill (EFB) by 63 to 57 votes, despite the last minute defection of Peter Dunne’s support.

Keith Ng has an interesting take on the EFB, suggesting third parties wanting to campaign could register as political parties to bypass the $120,000 spending cap:

“Political parties” is not a predefined group of privileged elites, it’s a status that isn’t very hard to obtain. More fundamentally, if a group is trying to spend more than $120,000 on influencing an election, then they are clearly parties interested in politics, hence the term “political parties”. If you want to set up a shop, you start a company. If you want to run a election campaign, you start a political party. It’s not a fence to keep groups out, it’s barely a hurdle, it’s an insistence that these groups carry a label that is consistent with their intentions.

However, the Electoral Commission rules for registering as a political party require parties to have “intent to contest elections”, something many groups (think Exclusive Brethren, who explicitly repudiate involvement in politics…err, sometimes; maybe think of Save Happy Valley Coalition instead) would not satisfy, and would not want to satisfy. It would also give what are really political lobby groups the ability to nominate scrutineers, etc, which could open the process up to petty filibusters.

National supporters like David Farrar manage to quote themselves in their hurry to condemn the law.

Overall, I’m glad the EFB passed, but it should have been done with better process and there are many improvements that should be made (most importantly cutting the loopholes round anonymous donations).

Petty Politics

December 17, 2007

Todays petty politics is brought to you by the NZ Herald, who in reporting on the Labour Party selection of (cricket) blogger Hamish McDouall to stand for Wanganui, seem to have noticed everything about him but the fact that he is a columnist for the opposition – namely, the Stuff news website.

I’m sure the oversight had nothing to do with the fact that the Herald and Stuff are competitors!

Chappell-Hadlee Cricket series – match 2

December 16, 2007

Aaaargh! Instead of a friendly greeting to start with, the first post is to draw (shamefaced) attention to the annual NZ-Australia ODI cricket series.

Only problem is – NZ are getting tanked, again. Thank goodness we control the weather gods, and have dropped a bit of the wet stuff to delay Kiwi wickets tumbling! 

Take a look at Cricinfo’s live updates, for the grim news:
Cricinfo Livescore

Predictably, Matthew Sinclair was dropped in favour of Gareth Hopkins, but Lou Vincent will have to buy the coach drinks a lot to keep his place for the next match, given he has just made another single digit score.

Kiwi wicketkeeper McCullum has embarrased himself with just 5 runs after claiming Ozzie quick bowler Tait did not have the figures to back up Tait’s claim the Kiwis couldn’t handle his pace… oh, dear. McCullum didn’t even last until Tait came on to bowl.

Update: Ah, the blessed sound of rain. Match abandoned, after a dire start from NZ. Good intentions from Vettori (set a score) but batsmen looked unable to fulfil that. The ironic thing is; another rainout at the final match in Hobart will mean NZ retain the Chappell-Hadlee trophy 😉