Friday, December 08, 2006

Manslaughter verdict "appals"

A man who killed his wife by hitting her 4 or 5 times with a cricket bat received a manslaughter sentence. I am assuming this is due to the extreme provocation he experienced. Read about it here and here.

Brian Gardiner from the National Network of Stopping Violence Services is appalled.

"It's not this woman's fault that she is dead, it's his. People experience provocation every day of their lives and do not assault and murder," he said.

I beg to differ. She is, in part, responsible for what happened. In absolving her of any blame Brian Gardiner shows his bias. If the roles had been reversed I doubt Mr Gardiner would be saying anything.

Foreshore and Seabed mess

The Foreshore and Seabed Act is back in the news with John Key looking at supporting the Maori Party's repeal bill (which some Maori are not even happy with). Does anybody properly understand the Foreshore and Seabed Act? I usually stay away from topics I don't. But it seems I am not alone.

The Maori Party says its repeal bill would mean, groups could also pursue aboriginal title claims in the High Court.

Writer Ruth Berry says, they can take the latter path now and if the court finds a territorial - or ownership - right exists, it directs the claimants to the Government to negotiate redress.

Russell Fairbrother believes, the act explicitly ruled out the possibility of aboriginal title claims.

And several lawyers said, the bill was badly drafted and the legal position was unclear.

The advantage for Labour is obvious. If the public can't understand the issue they can turn it into something highly emotive. And people will believe what they want to believe. Should play out well for the government.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hispanic "family values"

Fascinating, full and frank article here about Hispanic "family values". The Hispanic unmarried birth rate (per 1,000) has over taken that of blacks. This is an exploration of what that will mean for the future. There is still a "lingering work ethic" but more are turning to welfare.(California is one of the poorly performing states in the welfare reform league.)

Every 1,000 unmarried Hispanic women bore 92 children in 2003 (the latest year for which data exist), compared with 28 children for every 1,000 unmarried white women, 22 for every 1,000 unmarried Asian women, and 66 for every 1,000 unmarried black women.

Don't quote me on this but I reckon the 2003 Maori rate to be between 125 and 130 per 1,000 unmarried females aged 15 and over.

The fathers of these illegitimate children are often problematic in even more troubling ways. Social workers report that the impregnators of younger Hispanic women are with some regularity their uncles, not necessarily seen as a bad thing by the mother’s family. Alternatively, the father may be the boyfriend of the girl’s mother, who then continues to stay with the grandmother. Older men seek out young girls in the belief that a virgin cannot get pregnant during her first intercourse, and to avoid sexually transmitted diseases.

I'm from the council and I'm here to help

Like ----. Here's another council horror story. Risk assessment on mince pies ordered.

I seriously considered (for all of two minutes) running for council to try and stem the bureaucracy but apparently the beast just churns away, much of the activity unbeknown to councillors until it hits the fan and they cop the flack.

Race-based funding persists

I was under the impression the government had moved away from race-based funding. The Otago DHB has awarded a contract for a Maori-focused health service in Central Otago.

Southlink Health Maori Health project manager Wayne Smith said cost, transport and a problem accessing doctors during work hours were all issues for Maori.

The new service would provide a necessary link between health services and Maori, many of whom were "uncomfortable" in that environment, he said.

The justification goes, this is needs-based funding, but is there anything in the above that isn't true of many low-income non-Maori?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Picture of disparity

Statistics NZ has chosen to highlight Maori statistics in its presentation of final Census counts. Here is a summary;

Maori make up 14 percent of the population. The Maori population is much younger with a median age of 22.7 compared to 35.9 for the general population. Forty nine percent of the general population are married whereas only 29 percent of the Maori population are. 40 percent of Maori have no formal educational qualifications compared to 25 percent of the general population. The most common occupation for Maori is labourer and the most common over the general population is professional. The median income for Maori is $20,900 versus $24,400 across the total.

Linda reminded me earlier today about the business of doing things in the right order; finish your education, have your kids after marriage and stay married, to safeguard against poverty. (I think it may have been Newt Gingrich who originally said it). It would probably be good advice for Maori, in particular, to take on board. But I also take my hat off to all those hardworking Maori people who do vital manual and unskilled work for very little reward.

Don Brash responds to Hager book

I am pleased to see Don Brash responding to Nicky Hager's book. It appalls me that Hager is profiting from stolen property.

When I was considering whether to stand in the 2005 election it was suggested to me that entering and emerging from politics would be like going through a shower of shit. I thought the person who made this observation to me was exaggerating but perhaps not.

My experience of having half of our hoardings stolen was trifling by comparison but it leaves a sordid and seedy taste. I hope Don Brash has had plenty of personal support over the last few weeks because he certainly deserves it.


According to this graph roughly 35 percent of people aged 15 and over have an income of $15,000 or less. You might be tempted to think a few people are telling porkies. But take into account;

500,000 superannuitants, 300,000 15-20 year-olds, 300,000 working age beneficiaries, some thousands of non-working partners/stay home parents and it begins to make sense.

So when commentators start talking about our low median income, especially Maori, remember how it is calculated. It is sometimes confused with median wages or salaries.

Census data

Interesting Census results just released;

*One in eleven New Zealanders/residents is Asian, one in seven is Maori and one in fifteen is a Pacific person

*Three quarter of households had access to cell phones and sixty percent have internet (Hello there)

*Auckland is the fastest growing region followed by Canterbury

A fat dog story

A very fat dog's owners are being prosecuted for animal cruelty and their dog has been taken from them. Won't be long before 'kids' can be substituted for 'dogs' I reckon.

Cussed councils

How is it councils can't act when you need them to and can when you don't?

An alternative form of birth control?

After some discussion yesterday about birth control I thought on reading this, if you lived in Christchurch, it just might be enough to put you off.

Radical plans to tackle overcrowding at Christchurch Women's Hospital may mean low-risk pregnant women are barred from giving birth there.

Under proposals yet to be put out for consultation, pregnant women who are deemed unlikely to have complications during labour would be directed to primary birthing units, such as Lincoln, Rangiora or Burwood, or advised to have a home birth.

An epidural for pain relief would not then be an option.

On the other hand they could turn up to the Canterbury Charity Hospital which exists for people who cannot get treatment from the public ones. I was going to give a bouquet to Pete Hodgson yesterday for finally sorting the bad blood fiasco but I've changed my mind.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"Single mothers, many problems."

"Single mothers, many problems" is from the Wall St Journal and describes the new demographic - poor, working, single mothers. 37 percent of US births are to unmarried mothers. In NZ the percentage was 45 in 2004.

One answer

It is recognised that criminal victimisation surveys provide the best measure of violent crime. When they have been conducted in NZ they show much higher levels of crime than either court statistics or police records. The latest criminal victimisation survey in the US shows violent crime has DROPPED from 49.4 to 20.9 per 100,000 people over the age of 12 between 1980 and 2005. Why? Because they are locking more people up.

Putting aside the futility of the 'war on drugs' and incarceration of drug offenders pushing up numbers, it is obvious that keeping dangerous criminals away from the public is one way to reduce violent crime. It doesn't need to be forever either. Most criminals burn out in middle age.

Give me a reason

A great song by Luther Vandross but not what I was thinking about.

At a lunch last week a fellow diner remarked on how violent Christchurch had become. There are so many murders, she said. There are "so many murders" in many places, I remarked which elicited a broad murmur of assent. A question arose, "Is it going to get better?". Yes, I replied, because everything is cyclical. I didn't add that I believe it'll get worse first and any improvement will probably be outside my life time. Pessimistic? Give me any half decent reason why it would improve.

I was reminded about this exchange by this morning's report in The Press that violent offending among youth is up 21 percent over the previous year (and that's just the ones the police have caught).

Monday, December 04, 2006

Abstinence hailed as success?

Destiny's Abstinence Programme Proving Critics Wrong

150 young people, primarily from South Auckland and of Maori/Pacific Island descent, will formalize their commitment to Destiny's Absolute Abstinence programme in Mt Wellington this Friday night. The commitment comes off the back of a comprehensive education programme that educates young people on preferred choices when it comes to sex and drug/alcohol use.
Since the launch of Destiny's Absolute Abstinence model, over 700 young people have enrolled in the programme nationwide, with a 78% success rate for those remaining committed to their pledge of abstinence. The pregnancy rate within the programme presently sits at 1.6%.

Not a fan of the religous Right I nevertheless prefer to see people benefiting from some sort of eductaion than becoming welfare dependent, poor (in both senses of the word) parents.

On the basis of the general 15-19 year-old population the pregnancy rate is 2.5 and the birth rate 1.3 but among Maori and Pacific it rises to approximately 5 and 3 percent (the latter are rough calculations).

If on the other hand Destiny's sample is weighted towards younger teenagers (most teenage births are to 18 and 19 year-olds) they may not be making much difference. More detailed information would be useful.

Learning Maori

Came across this site which is very useful. You can click on words to hear their pronunciation, listen to passages, test yourself etc. Now all I need is some time.....

IQ gap persists; why and what to do.

Fascinating stuff from Reason. Charles Murray and James Flynn argue about whether the IQ gap between black and non-Hispanic white Americans has closed over the last thirty years. Murray is a libertarian and Flynn a socialist.

Flynn further observed that blacks generally do worse on vocabulary tests and he suggested that a cultural difference might explain it. The children of professionals hear about 2500 different words in a day whereas the children of welfare mothers hear about 600 different words every day. Finally, Flynn believes that the black adolescent subculture that devalues education is largely responsible for widening the IQ gap. “It is more probable than not that the black/white IQ gap results from environmental factors,” he declared.

Murray argued that general intelligence, so-called "g," a general factor that governs performance on all cognitive tasks, is highly heritable. He noted that g has a biological background in the brain. He cited differences in glucose metabolism, reaction times, and the volumes of specific grey matter in prefrontal cortices.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

'Extremists' not wanted

The following is just one sample of so many opinion pieces written about the change in National leadership. This is from The Press (with my comment below);

When former National leader Don Brash announced his resignation from Parliament this week, it marked more than the end of his personal political dream. Brash, it has become increasingly clear, was supported or advised by a small number of prominent new-Right zealots, says The Press in an editorial.

For them, the revolution that began two decades ago with Sir Roger Douglas's policies should never have ended, and Brash became their chosen champion. His exit from politics and his replacement by the team of John Key and Bill English mark the last gasp of Rogernomics and the end of an era.

Brash often talked the language of the mainstream but, as author Nicky Hager's book has confirmed, his supporters included those who were anything but this. Behind the scenes, he was encouraged or assisted by figures such as Ruth Richardson, Michael Bassett and the Business Roundtable's Diane Foreman and Roger Kerr.

These individuals are undoubtedly passionate about New Zealand and their own vision to promote economic growth and higher living standards.

Their vision and policies might sit well in their more natural home of ACT New Zealand, but they are out of step with the values of most New Zealanders and any political party which aspires to be seen as broad-based, centrist and electable.

New Zealanders are going to get what they vote for. They don't want 'extremist' politicians but are apparently happy to live in a country riddled with extremes. Extreme violence, extreme lawlessness, extreme division between living standards, extreme waiting lists, extreme illiteracy, extreme rates of imprisonment, extreme rates of stds and teenage abortion and birth.

Ironically in this age of choice nobody wants to make the hard ones. Sit on the fence, stay in the middle, don't rock the boat, sit in your comfort zone. Most people are just gutless. That's what National knows and ACT doesn't want to.

Still on Don Brash

Tariana Turia says in her Beehive Comment; The Maori Party position didn’t even make the bulletin. Seems that nobody wants to hear a statement which says ‘we respect his right to make a decision’ or ‘we appreciate the impact such a difficult time can have upon the family’.

You see, nasty headlines, cutting insults are what sells papers – remarks which play on people’s fears and prejudices.

I can only conclude that Hone Harawira no longer officially represents the Maori Party.