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Scoop Weekender - Hard News Special Bulletin

In response to an enthusisatic request from a Scoop Today subscriber we have today included the full text of Russell Brown's Hard News column... see below...

Weekend's Scoops

Scoop's Pick - World Cup Final Election Night

- Simon Upton's speech today in the Parliament wire - delivered in Dunedin at 12.15 pm is perhaps the strongest hint yet that election day is to be November 6. The same night as the World Cup final - in which the All Blacks are, it seems, confidently expected to appear. Confirmation of the election date is expected at 4pm.

HARD NEWS: Nice Dress – Shame About The Economy

- GOOD DAY MEDIAPHILES ... so sorry to have missed last week's post-Apec appointment, but I was drugged by a shadowy group with links to powerful international financial interests and then taken to a secret location…. See… HARD NEWS: Nice Dress, Shame About the Economy [1] in the Headlines wire.

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APEC On Target – Hits Foot

- If you lower your sights far enough, you can always hit your target - even if it is your own foot. So it is with the success claimed for the APEC leaders' meeting in Auckland just ended. See... After APEC: Passing the buck [1] in the Headlines wire.

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East Timor Scoops ---- All Eyes On Jakarta

Australian Brutality - Dili As Seen In Jakarta

- following report was carried this morning in the Jakarta English language daily the Jakarta Post. It reports an East Timorese militia commander accusing Australian peace-keepers of torturing eight militiamen in Dili East Timor. See... Australian Troops Accused Of Torturing Militiamen [1] in the Headlines wire.

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Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

– International Wire Services are today reporting extensively on the trip of an escorted aid convoy from Dili to the second East Timorese city of Bakau. Along the way they were shocked to see no people – but plenty of livestock and crops. Many of the people are believed to be hiding in the hills from militia but there are also concerns that the forced evacuations from the territory to West Timor and other Islands in the Indonesian archipelago may have taken place on a larger scale than previously thought.

New Indonesian Security Law Suspended

- The sweeping new security laws passed by the Indonesian Parliament on Thursday have been suspended following violent clashes on the streets of Jakarta in which at least seven protestors and one policeman are believed to have died. So far. The streets of Jakarta are now calm and troops have returned to barracks. See also..New Indonesian Security Law Suspended [1] .

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All Eyes On Jakarta

- As Kiwi and Aussie diggers hunker down in Dili tonight their future is being decided not at home - where loved ones wait and elected leaders worry - but in Jakarta where the worries of East Timor are increasingly playing second fiddle to a domestic political crisis. Scoop's Alastair Thompson discusses the latest developments in the fast unfolding crisis. See...Scoop Opinion: Fire In The Sky [1] . See also… The Mood In Jakarta Is Tense... [2] in the Headlines wire.

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Deception, Deceit and Betrayal – US Dealings In Indonesia

- More revelations today from official declassifed US Commerce Department documents on United States government dealings in Indonesia. John Howard reports, “Follow the Money”. See… Deceit And Deception - US Dealings in Indonesia [1] in the Headlines wire.

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HARD NEWS 24/9/99 - Nice Dress, Shame About the Economy
HARD NEWS is first broadcast in Auckland on 95bFM around 8.45am on Fridays and replayed around 4.30pm Friday and 10am Sunday on The Culture Bunker. A digest appears monthly in Re:Mix magazine. You can listen to 95bFM live on the Internet. Point your web browser to You will need Real Audio 3.0 to be able to listen, plus a 28.8k modem. Currently New Zealand is 12 hours ahead of GMT.

HARD NEWS ON THE INTERNET appears at Scoop (HERE), at , at Akiko at (which is the home of the Hard News mailing list) and is posted to local newsgroups.

GOOD DAY MEDIAPHILES ... so sorry to have missed last week's post-Apec appointment, but I was drugged by a shadowy group with links to powerful international financial interests and then taken to a secret location.

Well actually, I copped a bad old flu and took myself to the Coromandel, but I thought the first version sounded a bit more hysterical.

So anyway, it's over and we're all expected to be terribly impressed that, after doing a reasonable impression of a possum in the headlights as Timor broke all over the first week of Apec, the Prime Minister didn't fluff her lines in the second week. Indeed, it was classic cue-card Shipley; shuttling from one tightly-scripted photo-op to another, basking in the reflected glow of the President of the USA.

She wore nice dresses and she had Burton at her side. In PR terms, the Burton factor was most adeptly handled - for this is a place where Helen Clark cannot go. She has a husband, but he is a little man and does not, I would wager, play golf, even with visiting presidents.

But Burton did, and then appeared beside his wife on Holmes, a picture of strong, southern family values. She spoiled it a bit of course by lying the moment she came under even the gentlest pressure from Holmes over the debacle in Christchurch.

She told Holmes that the police action against the Free Tibet protestors had been purely an operational decision for the police commanders and nothing to do with her. Right.

And Mark Prebble, her chief of staff, was just debating the dinner menu during those vigorous discussions with the police.

And making a great wall of buses and turning on police car sirens to drown out lawful protestors so the Chinese president can get to dinner without having his eyes or ears offended is just standard public order policing. Happens all the time.

But anyway, the government figures Apec is as good as it's gonna get and will finally stop playing sillybuggers on Sunday and name an election date. National has already declared that it won't stand a candidate against Richard Prebble in Wellington Central - which is a bit more honest than what they did last time; standing a candidate and stabbing him in the back.

It still leaves Prebble as the only major party leader who can't win an electorate seat on his own. Keen observers of the political process will have noticed he has made an art of arselicking in recent weeks, even coming out with the priceless claim during Apec that: "The hero of the whole thing was Burton Shipley - what a great ambassador for New Zealand!" Honestly, if Prebble got any more trivial he'd ... write another one of his wretched books, probably.

There are, frankly, bigger issues in the air than Prebble's list of redneck hot-buttons. Like the current account deficit - the difference between what the nation spends in the world and what it makes, which is at its worst in 13 years. Our lame export performance continues to drag us into the red - potentially pushing up interest rates and putting *both* tax cuts and big spending off the agenda for the next government.

Or perhaps the latest quarterly GDP figures - which actually show the economy contracting by 0.3%. That's really pretty disastrous.

There's the new report from the Family Centre, undertaken with public funding and the help of ACNielsen, whichshowed that - and this is absolutely a result of government policy for the last nine years - nearly half of poor households really are paying 40% and upwards of their income in rent and they really often don't have enough money to take their kids to the doctor, or for food.

And, of course, there's the fact of our soldiers being drawn into an unpickable mess in East Timor. Making oneself subject to the domestic agendas of another country is usually a worry - and when the other country is Indonesia, it's terrifying.

I somehow doubt that Timor will turn into a "Falklands factor" for National and rescue Shipley the way war rescued Margaret Thatcher in 1982. For all her faults, Shipley isn't the nasty piece of work that Thatcher was, and New Zealanders are not so prone to hysterical manipulations as the British.

Or are we? Some people are certainly going to try - witness Fran O'Sullivan's embarrassing Herald column this week that claimed "mediocrity will once again rise up the beanstalk if Labour's proposals to inflict extra taxes on those paid above $60,000 are accepted by business as a fait accompli".

For one thing, "mediocrity will rise up the beanstalk" is a foul metaphor that ought never have seen print. For another, O'Sullivan's exhortation for Labour to follow the example of the Blair government in Britain and cut taxes is amazingly ill-informed.

The facts, for part-time business columnists too lazy to do their own research, are these. The major income tax cut introduced by British chancellor Gordon Brown this year was at the very bottom end of the scale - he cut the rate on incomes less than 1500 pounds a year from 20 to 10p. It was more of a publicity stunt than a meaningful fiscal strategy - and it has absolutely nothing to do with the top tax rate O'Sullivan witters own about in her column.

The UK's top tax rate, at 40p in the pound, is not only higher than that planned by New Zealand Labour and there are no plans to reduce it. Mediocrity does not presently appear to be rising up Britain's beanstalk. But, even when the commentators do not have a clue what they're on about, you can expect to hear lots of shock horror stuff about tax, ACC and the unions between now and ... ooh, and the first weekend of November.

Yes, some smart folks are picking that National will go to the polls on November 6, simultaneously giving itself less time in which to screw up and cashing in on the national euphoria as the All Blacks prepare for the World Cup Final. Probably. In any case, it's going to be a funny old month and a bit ... G'bye!


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