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Scoop Feedback: Much Ado About Scoop

In This Edition: Objectivity - Waahi-Tapu - Whether The Bible Is Mythology - Decriminalisation Of Prostitution - It Is Not "Feminist" To Oppose Prostitution Law Reform - Cannabis And Mental Health - Air New Zealand / Qantas - Don't Legalise Prostitution - Winston Peters Speech at NZ First Convention

Scoop welcomes reader feedback. Please send your news and views to editor@scoop.co.nz

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Objectivity

Hi, You make it sound like you can be objective when you say SCOOP "specialises in providing news and commentary **raw and fast** and is made up largely of what Scoop likes to call 'disintermediated' "

This is not possible because as soon as your staff read something you have begun to reinterpret it.

Sorry, but there is not such thing as objectivity in publishing.

All the international new agencies have accepted that, and work on accordingly. The sophisticated reading public knows their different stances and angles and take that into account in buying the papers and reading the webpages.

Thanks,

Ray McKendry

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Waahi-Tapu

Dear editor

Apart from the sheer arrogance of National saying they would legally define what is a waahi-tapu, National's proposed solution to the waahi-tapu fiasco is, a blatant "violation of property rights".

How dare National say a landowner can "appeal" (spend his money) on what should never be permitted into law in the first place.

What National would do, if they were advocates of "property rights" is, they would tell Maori, "you can call what you like a waahi-tapu, however you will never have the sanction of any law which enables you to violate the property rights of a peaceful person in the pursuit of your waahi-tapus".

There is only one "moral property right" and it states; If what a person is doing with or on their property is not causing nor threatening to cause any physical harm to another person or another persons' property, then they and their property shall be left alone.

A "persuade me - don't force me" philosophy is the only moral solution to all waahi-tapus, ie if Maori want to "protect" whatever it is they claim is waahi-tapu, then one option is, to "ask nicely" that the "owner" of the "waahi-tapu" does nothing to it, the only other moral option is, for Maori to offer to purchase, of course with their "own" money, the waahi-tapu site off the owner and then demand the same aforementioned "property right" for themselves.

Michael Gordge

Papamoa Beach Road

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Whether The Bible Is Mythology

Gordon McLauchlan (NZ Herald 14/12/02), in his commentary petaining to the Middle East, makes the arbitary claim "the Bible is mythology". Unfortunately for Gordon, and other self-referential atheists of his ilk, he provides no evidence for this statement, while committing a "fundamental" philospohical contradiction, that one can only attack that which one first recognises as existing in reality (not myth), in order to attack it. If, as Gordon exhorts us to, we Christians pray for "peace and goodwill", and if God doesn't exist, then who or what do we pray to?

I have an exhortation for Gordon, and indeed all people who choose an atheistic "lean": have the guts to assess the evidence, rather than resting in your own self-imposed existential delusion. As a starting point, I would suggest Lee Strobel's "The Case For Christ" (Zondervan Publishers). After all, aren't journalists supposed to "get the facts"?

Yours faithfully

Steve Taylor

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Decriminalisation Of Prostitution

It is irresponsible of the Labour Government to ignore the fiscal implications of the decriminalisation of prostitution.

The full budgetary effect should be disclosed to the public as envisaged by the Fiscal Responsibility Act 1994.

Helen Clark and Tim Barnett are ignoring the long term health and other costs of legalising prostitution arising from the inevitable increase in supply and demand including:

-Treating sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhoea, herpes, chlamydia and HIV/AIDS.

- Subsidised supplies of condoms, sexual aids and hyperdermic needles to prostitutes.

- Obstetric and gynecological surgery to correct the serious injuries routinely sustained by prostitutes.

- ACC and long term sickness benefit for women who have suffered such severe physical and emotional trauma that they are no longer fit for any sort of work.

- Abortions.

- Child support and DPB

- Special needs education for abused and neglected children of prostitutes.

- Policing, prosecution and imprisonment of these children later in life.

The government should face up to its responsibilities and be upfront and honest about the cost of their immoral policies.

We already pay more tax than any of our major trading partners.

Yours faithfully

Mike Williams

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It Is Not "Feminist" To Oppose Prostitution Law Reform

Media Release

When interviewed on Assignment over the issue of prostitution law reform, Sandra Coney made some inaccurate statements against the proposed decriminalisation of sex work that reformers and their allies propose (Assignment, November 28).

I have watched Sandra's declarations over this issue, and read parliamentary submissions from her Women's Health Action group with growing unease, and I can no longer remain silent over her continued misrepresentation of the intent and objectives of this much-needed shift in public policy.

Sandra has misrepresented New Zealand research findings about intravenous drug use and visits to medical practitioners within her parliamentary submissions on this matter, in a manner that bears disturbing resemblances to the so-called "Festival of Light," an Australian Christian Right organisation. Moreover, she has worked alongside the Maxim Institute, a Christchurch-based Christian Right pressure group that supports such worthy "feminist" activities as impeding women and children's escape from violent relationships under current confidentiality procedures in the Family Court, under the euphemism of "shared parenting."

She is attempting to provide a "feminist" cover for her claims that prostitution is an activity that is intrinsically harmful to women by championing so-called "kerbcrawler" legislation that allegedly punishes male clients of sex workers, as well as retaining criminal penalties for soliciting, brothel-keeping or work, penalising living off the earnings of sex work, and other archaic, antiwomen legislation.

This legislation has not worked in Sweden, as she and her newfound Christian Right allies allege, for its own Ministries of Police and Health report that female sex workers have been driven into backstreet areas where their occupational safety cannot be insured, and face increased risks from sexual violation and psychotic misogynist clients who may injure them, or worse. Moreover, they ignore statistical evidence that soliciting convictions outnumber those for kerbcrawling, in any case. Closer to home, we know what happens when politicians ignore strong medical and social scientific evidence for reform, and that is apparent from Queensland, where right-wing ALP Premier Wayne Goss ignored the detailed findings of his own Criminal Justice Commission on this issue. Instead of reform, Goss ordered a crackdown, and women started to face death or serious injury from antiquated misogynist legislation.

I marvel that Coney can live with herself, given that she is actively working against public policies that will improve the working lives and safety of a viciously oppressed group of women. I wonder, when she looks in the mirror these days, does she see Herb Green's face staring back at her?

Craig Young

Note: This is a personal statement of support for Tim Barnett's Prostitution Law Reform Bill based on my professional background as an independent reproductive and sexual health researcher. As such, I am not speaking in my voluntary capacity as Research Officer for the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand on this issue. ALRANZ has no official position on prostitution law reform.

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Cannabis And Mental Health

The British Medical Journal recently featured an article discussing a University of Otago study which found a link between cannabis use and schizophrenia. The Dunedin researchers claimed that there was a causal link between the two, and that cannabis smoking actually increased the risk of an individual becoming schizophrenic.

Whether or not cannabis causes mental illness is a debate that can be traced back to 1894, when the Indian Hemp Commission concluded that over-indulgence in the drug could only be regarded as a symptom, not a cause, of predisposition to insanity.

In their book 'Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts', Doctors Lynn Zimmer and John Morgan point out that while claims that marijana causes permanent mental illness reappear consistantly, "there is no scientific evidence that marijuana causes psychological damage or mental illness in either teenagers or adults".

They note that studies often contradict each other, although the overwhelming body of evidence falls on the side making no causal link between cannabis and mental illness. A Swedish study (Allebeck, et al, 1993) found that cannabis use most commonly preceeded the appearance of schizophrenia. However, others ( Hall, et al, 1994; Thornicroft, et al, 1990; Hollister, et al, 1986) found that marijuana use was much more likely to follow the onset of psychiatric symptoms - eliminating it as a causal factor in those cases.

Research methods can also be dubious. A study of Swedish military conscripts found that the prevalence of schizophrenia in men who had used cannabis fifty or more times was double that of men who had used it ten to fifty times. In blaming marijuana, researchers missed the fact that all the schizophrenic cases had been given a pyschiatric diagnosis at the point of conscription, all had come from broken homes, and all had been in previous trouble at school and with the police!

The University of Otago study found that of the 15-year-olds who admitted using cannabis, ten percent developed psychotic symptoms by age 26. Of those who had not used cannabis at all, or who had started later, only three percent developed a form of psychosis. It's yet to be revealed to what extent researchers did or didn't control for other factors that cause schizophrenia.

Considering these other factors is clearly important. An unnaturally stressful childhood brought about by poverty, diet, exposure to violence (either real or portrayed), or family history of mental illness plays a vital part in determining an adult's psychological makeup. It's probable that children brought up in this environment are going to experiment with cannabis at an earlier age than others.

So what are the figures really telling us? Clearly, schizophrenics tend to try cannabis more than other people. They generally start smoking earlier than other users, and cannabis can precipitate psychotic episodes in people predisposed to them. But that doesn't mean cannabis causes schizophrenia.

If it did, then after decades of popular use there would be roughly parellel rises in cases of schizophrenia and numbers of cannabis users. But there aren't! Indeed, the Health Funding Authority told the Brian Neeson-chaired Health Select Committee that the incidence of schizophrenia declined during a period in which cannabis use increased among young adults.

The Committee, in its 1998 NZ Mental Health Effects of Cannabis Report, said that "the negative mental health impact of cannabis appears to have been overstated", and made it clear that a prohibition environment generates more risk than the drug itself.

"Those who develop problems are less likely to seek help because they use an illegal substance, and may spiral in alienation, anti-social behaviour [and] mental illness", said the committee; concluding that "if cannabis does cause harm to a small proportion of users then it is preferable that those people have good access to treatment without fear of stigmatisation and discrimination." Their recommendation was that existing cannabis policy be reviewed and the legal status of cannabis reconsidered. Under prohibition, communities have no say where, when or to whom cannabis is sold. Prohibition puts that role into the hands of organised criminals, and, as a result, the health of our whole society suffers. Regulating and controlling cannabis to minimise harms - that's what this debate should really be about.

Stephen McIntyre

South Island Representative

National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML NZ)

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Air New Zealand / Qantas

This merger (which is the end result) is an opportunity for the government to prove its commitment to the NZ public.

Create and open skies policy to allow competition. Make it easier for other airlines to come in

The government will approve it since they wasted our money buying it in the first place and they know they are stuck with a lemon. In fact it would be better for all of us if they sold all our shares. This way we get money from the shares, and with open skies, we get reasonably priced fares for all New Zealanders.

Remember, Air New Zealand has never done anything to help the New Zealand public or business. They are predatorial toward competition while forcing fares up. This has cost us all a fortune in tax and in airfares.

Dump it; Open the skies;

Yours faithfully

Baker P

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Don't Legalise Prostitution

I am writing to say, don't legalise prostitution. Women and children are suffering from this slavery and in a country such as ours there should be no reason for anyone to allow their bodies to be used for this trade in sex. If prostitution is decriminalised or legalised in any form what happens next? Fatter, greedier pimps living off women and children and young boys, and out of control crimes to boot. C.S Lewis wrote, "A person does not call a line crooked unless they have some idea of a straight line." I suggest there is a generation in this country who has no understanding now of what the straight line is.

Yours faithfully

Nadine Tauri

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Winston Peters Speech at NZ First Convention

The factors that led to the breakup of Yugoslavia and eventually to the Kosovo war included historical grievances, unstable political system, a collapsing economy and the decline of other unifying factors namely cold war rivalry and the death of Josip Tito. None of these factors are present in New Zealand.

Kosovo itself exploded into war for a variety of reasons though mainly because of Serbia's revocation of its autonomy in 1989 and subsequent Serbian repression. The Albanians in Kosovo were not recent migrants and had lived in Kosovo for hundreds of years. How Winston Peters links Kosovo to immigration in New Zealand is beyond me.

Even with all these factors Yugoslavians had lived in peace for 50 years and thus still needed nationalist and self serving politicians to push it over the edge. If Winston Peters wants to compare New Zealand to Kosovo he therefore needs to compare himself to Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman.

Thanks,

Rebecca Malcolm

******ENDS******

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