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IN THIS EDITION: To Robert Higgs, re: "Is Bush Unhinged?" - Sol Salbe on ''Passion'' film - Cost of the Iraq war - Hypocrisy In The Bay Of Islands - Where to from here? - Human Rights Should Not Be Taken For Granted - Fight For Land And Rights Is Childish - Haiti - You are Doing a good Job - When the 'bubble' bursts - My oath<

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To Robert Higgs, re: "Is Bush Unhinged?"

[ http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0403/S00298.htm ]

I live in a rural area and do not have TV. But I read a lot and get news from the internet. Recently, I had to visit family in the city and watched some TV news, and happened to catch a news broadcast of Bush telling jokes about his failure to find WMDs in Iraq (he was giving a group a fatcats a slide show, with photos, for instance, of him looking under the Oval Office rug, etc.--"Any WMDs there? Nope." That was the tenor). Don't know if you saw it. As Bush delivered these supposed joke lines--unbelievably crass, given the thousands of people who have died because of his lies about WMDs in Iraq--I had the strong impression of a man under terrific strain who had been severely coached. The strain, I felt, had to do mostly with remembering his lines. He was like a bad actor who is indifferent to the play he is in, and is just trying to get paid and get out.

A puppet.

That he didn't have even the barest understanding that these jokes might be offensive to a lot of people didn't surprise me, because I felt that the man (as he delivered the "jokes") had no such consciousness and sensitivity. He was not capable of knowing that the jokes were offensive. He was just following a script that his puppet-masters gave him.

I think this man MAY understand that he is a puppet--which may be why his performance seemed so strained, so artificial. He is not really "the president." I'm not really sure who is (maybe Dick Cheney; maybe a cabal that I call "Bush Inc."). But this man is NOT in charge.

And I don't know what's scarier--that he is in charge, or that he is not.

Until now, the people giving him his scripts have been extremely clever in a crude sort of way. They know how to propagandize, how to lie and steal on a truly unprecedented scale, and get away with it (at least temporarily), and how to thorougly manipulate the U.S. public with images and sound bites. This latest bit, though--jokes about WMDs--was a huge blunder. If it gets around to a lot of the public (questionable, given U.S. media worship of Bush and support of war on anyone holding resources that American corporations want--but still possible--things are opening up here a bit, now that the corporate establishment has a fairly safe alternative in John Kerry), it will be Bush Inc.'s undoing, as to the election '04. Mainstream Americans and "swing voters" won't stand for such a cavalier attitude toward soldier deaths.

It's odd (oddly prescient), I got another "hit" on Bush about a year ago, after the invasion started. Same kind of situation--I wasn't getting TV news, then happened to visit someone with TV. Right now, I can't remember what the news story was, but what I felt, very strongly, was that Bush didn't care a crap for U.S. solidiers. Really, really callous and indifferent. Inhumanly so. I mean, even the worst of politicians has some little twinge of SOMETHING--regret, sadness, fear, horror--at sending their own people to their deaths. I felt that Bush was completely cold--totally out of touch. Something very wrong with his soul.

Comparison: Back in the 1960s, LBJ, for all the horror he inflicted in Vietnam, always came across as a human being, and people (antiwar protestors) continued to try to appeal to his conscience, in the presumption that he had one.

Not so, Bush.

If Bush is "unhinged," I think it's related to this falseness, perhaps to his own inner perception that he doesn't care, that his policies are all blather and P.R. ("lines" to be read), that his image is phony, and that he is not in charge (he is merely being "handled").

Anyway, thank you for your provocative article. I think you've focused on a critical issue, something that goes far beyond current political struggles. How can our system have produced such a empty-souled leader (not just manipulative or cynical or dishonest or thieving or stupid--but profoundly vacant and cold)? How could so many people have been fooled? And who is really running our country?

Mary Pjerrou
USA

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Sol Salbe on “Passion” film

RE: http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/CU0403/S00094.htm

The most striking thing about Sol Salbe’s review of Mel Gibson’s “Passion” film, is his ignorance of the Gospels upon which the core of the story, and all of the items which are complained of as “Anti-Semitic”, are based.

The Gospels were not manufactured to suit the agenda of a Roman empire preparing to adopt a Jewish-based Christianity as Mr Salbe imagines. They were written by Jesus’ (Jewish) contemporaries at least 200 years before the Roman persecution of Christians was at an end. And all allocate the main blame to the Jerusalem Temple authorities. And all portray Pilate as a reluctant player and Matthew also mentions that he was influenced by his wife.

All of this is well-known to religious Christians. Catholics act out the same stories every Good Friday. I had Jewish playmates. Stories about an event 2000 years ago, never made me feel hatred for them. Jesus was a Jew as were almost all of his contemporary followers. The Catholic Church teaches against hatred of Jews, but it also teaches that Scripture is infallible as to religious truth and the essential religious truth here is the radical break between the Christian religion and the Jewish religion, which came before it. And most Protestant churches say much the same.

And James Caviezel (“Jesus”) is of Jewish decent, and Maia Morgenstern (“Mary”) is Jewish.

This film appeals mostly to religious people. Since Mr Salbe is a self-professed Atheist, isn’t that the real reason for his complaint?

David Irby
Ireland

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Cost of the Iraq war

Sir,

Using figures derived from estimates from the US Congressional Budget Office up to 17 April 2003, it is conservatively estimated that the cost to the US at point in time was some US$47.6 billion. In addition, the cost of occupation is stated as being US$5.6 billion monthly.

Up to February 2004, that amounts to a staggering US$103.6 billion (NZ$159 billion) and that is only the US costs.

When one adds the costs incurred by all the other forces involved, the cost of reconstruction, the ongoing costs associated with direct terrorist activity and threats of activity, costs associated with upgrading security in all walks of life across the globe, the total must be staggering.

Whether the war was justified or not, Osama bin Laden (if still alive) and al-Qaida appear to have set in motion a self-perpetuating train of global cost that will prove impossible to halt or even reduce.

Almost every week there is an event somewhere around the world that is attributed to either them or terrorism generally that costs tens of millions of additional dollars, heightens the sensitivity to such which, in turn, results in even more dollars being spent in an endeavour to counter their suspected activities.

This one relatively small cadre of terrorists must, surely, be looking on in absolute wonderment and total disbelief the impact 9/11 has had on the entire global village. An event, and subsequent impact, that has not yet reached its zenith and has the capability of being the single most significant event in mankind’s history.

Meanwhile, we sit and worry, procrastinate and verbalise over such things as The Treaty, Helen Clark and whether or not she believes in the institution of marriage or “Did Dr Brash have an affair or not”.

Mirek Marcanik
Wellington, NZ

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Hypocrisy In The Bay Of Islands

"The NRC is grumpy too."-'The Northland Age-16th. March 2004. Well, BOO HOO! Well, well, so the NRC is, along with the FNDC,"grumpy" about illgally dumped rubbish. No doubt these 2 bumbling bureacracies will create a joint task force, at ratepayers' expense of course, to pursue the perpetrators of these dastardly deeds.

I have the perfect solution for the illegal dumpers, follow the example of the Far North District Council's nefarious and accountability proof subsidiary, Far North Holdings Limited (FNHL). They, FNHL, have got illegal dumping off to a fine art, here is what you do.

1) Dump a load of rubbish (dredgings in their case) illegally, then, if/when someone (local ticked off resident)blows the whistle on you

2) Apply to FNDC for a Resource Consent under the RMA (Resource Management Act) to dump even more rubbish (dredgings) but this time contaminated rubbish in the future.

3) When your Resource Consent is approved (FNHL got theirs in a little over 8 weeks-bet that is some kind of record, but then they are owned and mismanaged by FNDC)that will legalise your previoulsy illegal dumping and if your consent is anything like that given to FNHL, you will be in good shape for 15 years of "dumping with impunity!"

Yours faithfully

Geoff Waterhouse
Opua

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Where to from here?

Sir,

In April last year, Energy Minister, Pete Hodgson, told a conference in Wellington that he was "Born in a country with the world's third-highest living standard. Now (he) lives in one that's dropped 49 places".

John Bishop, a former political journalist now working as a public speaker and social commentator, having looked at events since 1951, has been lead to comment that "The most serious problem facing New Zealand is lack of prosperity" and that he "can't and won't accept that the best days of New Zealand are behind us, or that this is as good as it gets"

Regrettably I do not share in his optimism, as there are a number of events that have occurred, over the past 40 years, which have had an impact that is going to be with us for a long time if not forever.

New Zealand would appear to be at a major 'crossroad' insofar as the path it is to take into the future.

Society generally seems to be of the opinion we are still a nation of fair-minded people, sharing common values and aspirations.

Values and aspirations developed largely from its Maori and European origins.

But how true is the reality today?

Ill-conceived immigration policies of successive governments over the last 40 years have radically changed both the dynamics and demographics of this country.

Policies which pandered to political expedience and correctness, rather than taking account of the long-term impact they would have on our social structures.

Under these policies we have variously declared New Zealand to be:

- 'A Pacific Island Nation' and opened our doors to a flood of Polynesian immigrants in order to satisfy the demand for shortages in the unskilled labour force;

- 'Inextricably tied to Asia' in order to gain so-called 'trade advantages' and opened our doors to a flood of Asian immigrants in order to benefit from the "Asian Tiger" growth and encourage Asian investment in this land;

- 'A haven' for the political and displaced refugee.

Wallowing in troughs of self-gratification, these politicians and their followers foisted their ideology on the nation through unilateral legislation, coerced the populace into believing that their way was correct through politically correct dogma and bludgeoned their way into all walks of life in the best socialist tradition.

Little wonder the values and aspirations of our people are no longer what they were. From a base of generally two predominant ethnic groups (Maori and European) we have evolved into a cauldron of multi-ethnicity.

Once it was expected and accepted that those immigrating here would become integrated into society as it stood. From 1945 to 1960 It was official government policy that new settlers should assimilate into New Zealand society. For those of British extraction this was relatively easy: the language and certain institutions such as the parliamentary and legal systems were the same in New Zealand.

For others, however, not being able to speak the English language was a major hurdle, especially as knowledge of English was a prerequisite for becoming a New Zealand citizen. The government provided language classes which many immigrants attended, and set up immigration welfare committees to provide advice and support to new migrants and to help overcome any anti-immigrant feelings in the local community. These have been largely replaced with a dogma of 'Now you are here, get on with it'

There are two major issues compounding the complexities of "What makes a Kiwi".

These are: developing demographics and diverse social attitudes.

Dealing first with developing demographics, it is noted that recent measures indicate there is a significant ethnic differential in fertility levels in New Zealand.

In the post-war years New Zealanders were marrying younger, and marriage became almost universal. By 1961 half of all women were married before age 22 years, compared with barely a quarter married by that age in the early 1940's. Early childbearing and the shortening of birth intervals reinforced these trends. Fewer couples remained childless or had only one child. The result was soaring birth numbers.

Over 1.1 million New Zealanders were born between 1946 and 1965 - the 'baby boomers'. At its peak in 1961, New Zealand's total fertility rate exceeded 4.3 births per woman and significantly exceeded other developed nations. However, the upward trend was reversed in the early 1960s, just as suddenly as it had begun.

By the mid-1970s, the post-Depression rise in fertility had ended. The total fertility rate fell below the 'replacement level' in 1978 and then to an all-time low of 1.92 births per woman in 1983. Since 1983 there has been a minor resurgence in fertility, but the total fertility rate dropped from 2.10 in 1993 to 1.96 in 1996 and further to 1.94 in 1999. This level of fertility is barely sufficient for the population to replace itself without migration.

Increased use of contraceptives, participation of women in the labour force, rising divorce rates and general economic conditions have probably all contributed to the decline in fertility levels. There has also been a shift away from early marriage and childbearing toward later marriage and delayed childbearing.

The growth in de facto relationships partly accounts for the rise in the number of ex-nuptial births (children born outside of legal marriages); 24,000 in 1997 - or 42 percent of all births.

There is also a high incidence of ex-nuptial births among Mäori. In 1995, 80 percent of all Mäori births were classified as ex-nuptial. The transition in Mäori fertility from relatively large to small families is of more recent origin.

In 1996 the fertility rate for Mäori women was 2.7 births per woman and for Pacific Islands women 3.5 births, compared with 1.8 births for European women.

What is significant in these figures, and more recently those of the "new immigrants" from Africa, Asia and eastern Europe is that while their births per women are significantly greater than those of the traditional Western European, their skill levels and earning power are generally significantly less. This corresponds with the situation befalling Europe referred to later and reinforces John Bishops comments.

While the government is attempting to deal with this "crises" through a number of initiatives, the benefits are slow in manifesting themselves and, in fact, are being negated because of a vast range of other initiatives relating to the re-distribution of wealth through social welfare benefits.

These initiatives are doing little to generate a climate of self-reliance and responsibility among new indigenous peoples or immigrants let alone those who are New Zealand born of previous generations of immigrants.

On the second matter of diverse social attitudes, the issues have gown in proportion to the ethnicity mix resulting from successive under researched immigration policies and poorly conceived and managed social and welfare payments.

New Zealand is not alone in these phenomena. One only has to look at what happened to the United Kingdom during the period 1945-1970 as it tried to come to grips with post-war labour problems and as its dominance over Commonwealth countries diminished.

As with New Zealand, labour was in short supply and a panacea was seen to be in the vast pool of unemployed, low skilled workers available from its former Dominions, Territories and Protectorates as they moved toward independence. A panacea that has turned into a "Pandora's box" of racial division, a growing "under-class', ghettos and social disharmony.

A similar situation has more recently developed in other Western European countries such as France, Germany and Holland to name but a few.

In the case of Holland (although not limited to), its reputation for tolerance is coming under fire after the lower house of parliament in The Hague voted in February 2004 to expel 26,000 failed asylum seekers.

Standard immigration is practiced because of three assumptions. First, that European populations are declining because of falling birth rates. Second, because immigrants create value-added goods and services which can be sold externally, driving the economy and the standard of living. And third, because an immigrant, younger workforce provides an ongoing tax base to support the aging population.

Unfortunately, only the first assumption is true. While one hundred years ago - or even twenty years ago - live bodies were needed for farming and manufacturing, this is no longer the case. The farming sector exists now in Europe only to claim its subsidies. The manufacturing sector is fast moving to Asia, soon to be followed by large segments of the service sector.

So what, exactly, are they importing a labour force to do? Work at McDonalds?

If Europeans are not, as governments claim, willing to do menial jobs, this is more to do with low wages in the service sector than cultural aversion. Is working a cash register more menial than assembling cars? Probably not, but the manufacturing job pays three times what the service job pays, with better benefits.

Europeans don't want to work because the economy has been restructured to eliminate well-paying jobs for the middle class. Pay service sector jobs a decent wage, and the problem disappears.

The Dutch government is hoping that all these immigrants will pay taxes to support a ballooning corps of retirees. But in order to do so, they have to work, and they have to work in jobs that are at least as well paying as the ones on which the pension system was built. A generation employed waiting tables will not be able to support a generation which in its time manufactured aeroplanes and bridges, especially when that latter generation is shifting much of its taxable wealth to warmer climes.

So much of the above is true for New Zealand.

Immigrants from Polynesia were, and remain, attracted to New Zealand by the prospect of a higher standard of living, pay and welfare benefits than they could ever expect in their own countries. Yet their contribution to the wealth of New Zealand is diminishing.

Why? Because while Pacific Islanders were originally employed in factories and lesser-skilled jobs associated with the manufacturing industries, these industries are being stifled by competition from countries within the Asian region and, although a growing number are now entering "the professions", and making a major contribution to professional sport, fashion, popular music, television, and the arts in New Zealand, this does little to generate the wealth required to support the growing dependency on welfare.

It is a similar story with regard to many immigrants and refugees from a number of the Asian and African countries that our immigration policies have encouraged. Producing 'trinkets', selling ethnic goods, working in the fast-food industry, running 'sweat-shops' in the back streets, brothels in up-market residential areas, illegal fisheries and spawning a burgeoning amphetamines industry cannot be classed as generating taxable wealth.

Yet it continues to be these very people the current government encourages while at the same time persisting with its so-called 'wealth redistribution programmes' through the introduction of greater levels of taxation, levies and other means of extracting more from the diminishing productive and wealth generating sector of the economy.

So: Where do we go from here? How do we get there? What do we want to be? How do we achieve it?

I wish I knew. For better or worse, we are where we are and "the best days of New Zealand may well be behind us". History tells us it may already be too late to stave off the inevitable decline let alone halt it.

But I know one thing for certain. Whether or not we have a Royal Commission of Enquiry to examine the role of The Treaty of Waitangi is not going to make one iota of difference.

Mirek Marcanik
Wellington, NZ

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Human Rights Should Not Be Taken For Granted

I am writing to say,

With high levels of freedom and Human Rights in NZ, it’s too easy to take such things for granted, forgetting about the harsh realities of many people living abroad.

I am a young NZ Maori, practising Falun Dafa, (Falun Gong) a peaceful meditation system whose 5 gentle exercises and teachings of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance have gifted me the benefits of a peaceful, elevating way of life. However in China, I would be arrested and sentenced to a prison term of up to 18 years for my beliefs. Cruel beatings would be a regular occurrence of my sentence, while my own government spread slanderous propaganda throughout the media of the truth.

This is a cruel reality for 100 million people as the struggle continues, to end an unjustified persecution of Falun Dafa. Since July 1999, the Chinese people have been forbidden to practice this peaceful cultivation system, although it being accepted openly in over 50 countries worldwide. Lives are being destroyed as thousands have been sentenced and have died due to brutal torture, with cover-ups of their deaths.

Such high levels of cruelty are unheard of here and you may think, what do I care, this doesn’t effect me. Lets not allow our comfort to blind our hearts from the truth. Let us expose this mindless abuse of Human Rights, so with our higher awareness it can be brought to an end. After all it could well have been me. Tahu Parkinson

Yours faithfully
Tahu Parkinson
Invercargill

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Fight For Land And Rights Is Childish

Christchurch

I am a New Zealander. I have no Maori ancestry.

My ancestors came from Scotland, Wales and other UK countries. However, I am neither European nor ‘Pakeha’. I am a New Zealander, just like others who have been here for many generations. I too am ‘Tangata Whenua’. I have no other land to identify with and return to. I cannot trace my roots to one place, unlike Ms Tariana Turia, who can trace hers to Hawaii.

We are all, when it comes down to it guests in this country. The fight for land and rights is like two children squabbling over who had the toy first. It is petty.

I want to see Maori mortality and inequality reduce too, but not in preference over any other citizens in the land we now share. Our future awaits. We will not find it looking over our shoulders and lamenting what our ancestors did to each other. Lets get on with building a great nation for all those who live here.

Yours faithfully
P J Gilbertson
Christchurch

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Haiti

Dear Editor,

US sourced news items have portrayed the war in Haiti as one of popular revolt,

and US Sec of State Colin Powell, has been quoted as saying that democratically elected Aristide has to bear a large burden for what has happened. People on the ground in Haiti have a very different story to tell. Over 100,000 demonstrated on Feb 7 demanding that Aristide complete his five year mandate.

The Bush administration has in fact enforced a unilateral trade embargo against Haiti whilst cutting off humanitarian aid to the poorest country in the hemisphere. It has waged a relentless propaganda campaign to force him out of office and supported calls for elections in violation of the constitution and laws of Haiti.

The U.S. gave safe haven to former Haitian military officers, FRAPH leaders and criminal terrorists responsible for massacres, such as Emmanuel Constant, and then allowed a paramilitary force led by these people and Duvalier supporters armed with new M-16s to enter Haiti without objection. Though only hundreds in number they easily captured towns, killing the police who were untrained in warfare, or in defending against commando units.

This small force could never have entered Haiti if President Aristide, a man of peace, had not abolished the Haitian army, a praiseworthy act. Unfortunately, this left the country defenseless against armed aggression.

President Aristide consistently refused to leave his people, to resign, to subvert Haitian democracy and constitutional government under enormous pressure from the Bush Administration.

Since Aristide was first elected in 1994, more schools have been opened that were opened between 1804 and 1994. Health care systems have been expanded, the minimum wage has been doubled, a major successful AIDS education campaign was conducted, and progress has been made in increasing literacy. These gains have been made in spite of the dictates of the US, one of these being the free import of rice, which decimated the local economy.

The Latin America Committee urges that the New Zealand Government to protest the United States intervention, support the restoration of Jean-Bertrand Aristide to serve out the remainder of his term under UN protection along with the provision of emergency humanitarian aid.

Paul Bruce
Coordinator
Latin America Solidarity Committee Aotearoa New Zealand

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You are Doing a good Job

Assalam-o-Alikum,

I visited your web site today. Really you are doing a tremendous job to show a common man both the sides.

May Allah give you success, Amen.

Hamid Rasul Niazi

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When the 'bubble' bursts

Sir,

Am I missing something here?

Finance Minister Michael Cullen seems ambivalent about the latest slide in general business confidence and appears unconcerned about the fact New Zealand, in posting another horror trade deficit in January, is now consistently running increasing monthly trade deficits.

His comment: “But the data also point to continuing strong momentum in the economy. The own activity indicator is still firmly in positive territory and employment and investment intentions are robust. This should provide a buffer against any slowdown in growth”

If the economy is consistently being driven by buying more than you sell, surely the stage will soon be reached when the “sharks” get butterflies and call in the debt?

As far as I can see, the economy is currently being driven by false expectations based on the discretionary spending ability brought about by increasing levels of welfare and benefit payments, cheap and shoddy imported goods driven by a strong dollar, all time highs in credit card debt and finally a building boom ‘bubble’ that appears to be about to burst.

When the ‘bust’ comes, what then Mr Cullen? What will have happened to your so-called ‘buffer’?

Mirek Marcanik
Wellington NZ

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My oath

Sir,

I am sure that Mr Goff, in outlining his proposals for giving New Zealanders: "the opportunity say whether or not they think the country's oaths and affirmations should be updated", is as aware as I am that that this is the course of "least resistance" to achieving a change by stealth.

To "invite comment" through a process of submissions to an inter-departmental working group seeking answers to a series of questions designed to ascertain whether people consider changes to be necessary and, if so, what sort of changes to which oaths will not, as he well knows, draw the volume of response that can be considered a "fair and representative sample of public opinion"

In fact, it is this very sort of "public opinion" that can be so rigged by those having a particular political agenda as to make it totally un-democratic and worthless.

There is no doubt that a review of the wording of oaths is necessary to make them "plain-speak" but, and until New Zealand has overwhelmingly voted for something other than a monarchy, a review to change the substance of the oaths should only be undertaken following a referendum supporting that change.

In the meantime, if one is considering potential changes to the various oaths it is important that, in any reference to "New Zealand and its people", the word "people" not be used in isolation. Instead, the words "all its peoples without prejudice or favour" should be substituted.

Mirek Marcanik

Wellington NZ

**** ENDS ****

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