Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

Gordon Campbell on Podemos, and Spain’s election stalemate

January 8th, 2016

The events of 2015 taught us a lot about the potential ( and the limits) of left wing populism. Syriza in Greece had started the year as the harbinger of change – offering a genuine alternative to the politics of austerity and to a European Union that had been created and managed solely in Germany’s self-interest. Unfortunately, Syriza has now ended up as the battered local agent of those same oppressive forces.

Inevitably, the demise of Syriza cast a long shadow over the mid-December elections in Spain, and it checked the advance of its former Spanish ally, Podemos. The outcome could have been far worse. A Spanish electorate that had gone through terrible austerity measures – and an unemployment rate that peaked at 27% – could be forgiven for thinking that even the country’s current tepid economic recovery was better than the risk of change. New Zealand voters will probably be fed a similar election message of caution by the Key government in 2017. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on our Feeble Response to Atrocities in SA

January 6th, 2016

With an ally like Saudi Arabia, who needs enemies? In the past 15 years, the West can thank the House of Saud for

• Providing almost everyone who planned and carried out the 9/11 attacks on the US
• Funding the Sunni extremists who founded al Qaeda
• Funding the competing band of Sunni extremists who founded Islamic State and other fundamentalist groups within Syria
• Crushing the democracy movement in Bahrain
• launching air strikes on civilian populations and fuelling a civil war in Yemen that has turned the country into a recruitment zone for Islamic State
• Supporting the new military-led dictatorship in Egypt
• Wilfully executing a leading Shi-ite cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, thereby dooming the co-operation between Iran and Saudi Arabia that’s essential to any negotiated settlement of (a) the civil war in Syria, and (b) the related refugee crisis in Europe. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the Dotcom extradition decision

December 24th, 2015

Inevitably – and with justification – Kim Dotcom has already lodged an appeal against yesterday’s District Court decision that he is eligible for extradition to the United States, to face copyright infringement, money laundering and racketeering charges. Whether he will actually get leave to appeal – all the way to the Supreme Court – is far less certain. An extradition hearing is not an arena where a case gets heard or can be re-hashed ; narrowly, it merely determines whether a prima facie case exists. Therefore, the grounds for challenging the decision – and gaining leave to appeal – are even narrower. Leave may well be denied.

That doesn’t mean that grounds for challenge do not exist. Yet it is quite hard to see how Dotcom can bring them to bear without – essentially – re-running the same issues that were brought up before Judge Nevan Dawson. Namely, that the US extradition application fails to establish that the copyright infringement in question was criminal in fact, or in intent. (The “money laundering” and racketeering” claims only come into play if and when that initial criminal (not civil) test of the infringing content on Megaupload has been made.) Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the rejection of a Pakistani polio worker

December 23rd, 2015

Too bad that the New Zealand Immigration and Protection (hah!) Tribunal don’t know how to use Google. If they did, their bizarre decision to send home a former polio vaccinator and her son back to Pakistan -on the grounds that they would be unsafe in their home district, but safe if they re-located to Karachi – would be exposed for the sham that it is. Google “Karachi” “polio vaccinators, “Taliban” and “killed” and you find cases of polio vaccinators (a) being killed or (b) being endangered in Karachi by the Taliban. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on Labour’s endorsement of a combat role

December 22nd, 2015

Normally, it is governments that drop their unpalatable measures in the shadow of Christmas, but this time the Labour Opposition is doing so. Apparently, if certain pre-conditions are met – UN sanctioned, clear objectives, acceptable level of risk etc etc – Labour now believes that New Zealand special forces could play a worthwhile ‘limited’ combat role in the battle against Islamic State. Presumably this would be within Iraq – not Syria – given that the Iraqi government has just sanctioned the deployment of a fresh detachment of less than 200 US special forces.

Labour leader Andrew Little met with Pentagon officials on a visit to Washington last week. Yet according to Labour defence spokesperson Phil Goff on RNZ this morning, Labour actually set out its perceived-to-be-new position in a press release back on December 10. In an Orwellian twist, that press release would be the one headed “ Don’t Rush Into Military Commitment, Labour Says” and can be found here. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the Police harassment of Nicky Hager

December 18th, 2015

So now we know. If you’ve done something to really annoy the Establishment – hello, Kim Dotcom, Heather Du Plessis Allen, Nicky Hager and teapot tapes photographer Bradley Ambrose – not only will you rocket to the top of the priority list for the Police and their scant resources, but chances are they’ll overstep their lawful authority while turning you over. Meanwhile the dodgy behaviours and payments documented in Hager’s book Dirty Politics will go un- investigated. How many more examples of Police partiality in the use of its investigative discretion do we need? The Police are a tool. Cross their political masters and you’ll pay the price.

In the case of the Hager investigation there are several disturbing aspects. Beforehand, the Police knew they were unlikely to find any evidence relevant to the identity of the hacker they were trying to find. Hager was officially not a suspect. Justice Clifford’s decision says that this was a mission motivated by little more than hope. Secondly, what the judge called the Police’s “fundamental error” was that they failed to reveal to the District Court judge issuing the search warrant that the target of their warrant was a journalist – and therefore someone likely to enjoy the protections afforded to journalists under the Evidence Act. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on how the Republicans just buried the TPP

December 17th, 2015

In case you were still holding your breath about the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, you can relax. For months, it has seemed increasingly unlikely that a Republican- dominated Congress would ratify the TPP, and the battle lines have now been drawn. Yesterday, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell told the White House not to bring the controversial trade pact before Congress until after the presidential election has been resolved in November, 2016. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on MP pay rises, and the Paris agreement

December 15th, 2015

Somehow, the ‘need” for belt tightening – or of stemming the rise in income inequality – just goes right out the window at this time of the year. Scads of money can always be found for backdated pay increases to MPs .

It is the kind of Christmas pageant where the child in the manger is forgotten, and the rich wise men just give the gold, frankincense and myrrh to each other – and on the usual spurious grounds. Years ago, I remember interviewing the new Remuneration Authority chairwoman Fran Wilde – at the time, Wilde was the MP for Wellington Central – and the excessive pay rates of MPs came up, even back then. In response, Wilde cited as justification the excessive drycleaning expenses that MPs face in order to look presentable to their constituents. Nice for MPs to know that the Remuneration Authority can empathises with their plight. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on Tim Groser’s new job in Washington

December 9th, 2015

If you ever played word association games with the name “ Tim Groser” it would normally take a long, long time for anyone to suggest him as an ideal match for the word “diplomatic.” That’s why his retirement from Parliament earlier this week and his simultaneous appointment as the next New Zealand ambassador to Washington isn’t just surprising. It’s more like a disaster in waiting.

Sure, diplomacy isn’t always about the use of guile and charm. Sometimes, being agreeable really isn’t the point. Even being arrogant isn’t always a negative aspect of the skillset. No one ever thought that say, France’s former Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin was shy and insecure about his own gifts – but unlike our new man in Washington, the arrogance and the abrasiveness weren’t de Villepin’s default setting. With Groser, they tend to be, and there’s not a lot going on upstairs to compensate for it. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the view from Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo

December 3rd, 2015

Sorry for being out of radio contact overseas for much of this week, even as the Cunliffe/Mahuta duo were being deep-sixed by that feisty Labour leader Andrew Little. (Actually, I’ll believe “feisty” when Little says “goodnight and goodbye” to Annette King, as good as she may be in her role as Queen Mother of the Labour caucus.) A small step of utu for Cunliffe is not exactly a giant step for mankind, or for Labour’s prospects in 2017, when it will need all the talent it can muster.

For the next two fortnight or so, this will be a combined travel & politics column, since I happen to be in Tokyo right now, as a first time traveller to Japan. Some things don’t change, though. After dining last night at a restaurant called Gonpachi in the Rippongi area of the city, I glanced up at the array of pictures of the restaurant owner in various poses with a raft of his celebrity guest diners down the years – Sylvester Stallone, Steven Tyler etc- Right under the Stevie Wonder photo was the familiar smiling face of….’John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand.’ There is no escape. The Gonpachi dining area BTW, served as the film set for Uma Thurman’s epic final battle scenes in the Tarantino film Kill Bill – and hey, if anyone’s listening in, that’s not a coded reference to our Finance Minister. Read the rest of this entry »