Thursday, 20 November 2008


yes, i did manage to get a decent amount of sleep last night, thanx for asking! and today woke up to one mr al-zawahiri of la-qaeda fame making some stupid comments about mr obama. i haven't actually read the comments, really can't be bothered because i have yet to hear anything sane and sensible coming from that particular direction.

i suppose i should say, as CAIR does, that mr al-zawarihi does not speak for muslims, that i condemn whatever it is he has said, and renounce terrorism in all its forms no matter what the justification. except that i would hope by now that people who regularly visit here would take that as a given. i just feel that i shouldn't have to say it because people who know me would know that these are my deeply ingrained views.

i find that i get more worked up though about the widespread reporting of this stuff. there are so many crackpot groups out there saying all kinds of stupid things. is another stupid statement from al-qaeda really news. and even if it is, why does the media worldwide want to play into the hands of these people by spreading the message much further and wider than it otherwise would have reached?

the problem being that when reasonable people speak words of peace and reconciliation, it doesn't often get reported in quite the same way. the crackpots get a greater share of public space than the rest of us. which means they get to have more influence. i recall a conversation with the kuwaiti ambassador some years ago, when he talked about exactly this problem. he said (and i paraphrase) "if one of the ministers gives a statement, it's buried in the middle of the paper and given a couple of paragraphs, but every word of al-zarqawi (now deceased) is faithfully transmitted by media all around the world." he was essentially trying to point out how difficult it was to counter the hate-mongers.

on the other hand, i think of the "obsession" dvd which i have mentioned several times. one of the main problems i had with the whole issue (aside from the widespread distribution of a hate-filled message) was the fact that the media had not reported what was happening, not in US and definitely not in nz. nor had there been the widespread condemnation of this kind of thing that there should have been.

let me be clear, i don't want the contents of the "obsession" dvd to be played widely in the media just as i don't think the al-zawahiri comments need to be. but people do need to know that it has happened and about the impacts it has had on ordinary people trying to go about their lawful business and practice their religion in peace. and it definitely needs to be condemned.

and yes, i see the inherent contradiction in my two positions, so let me state clearly that mr al-zawarihi does not speak for muslims, that i condemn whatever it is he has said, and that i renounce terrorism in all its forms no matter what the justification.

great to see the labour shadow cabinet announced today, and its a solid looking team. one funny thing though. i see that chris keeps ethnic affairs, but there are three associate ethnic affairs positions - i'd say three too many for such a small area of government. i expect that the portfolio will move to one of the ethnic MPs prior to the next election, and it will be interesting to see who ends up with it. and i wouldn't have picked pete hodgson for immigration, but there you go. i wonder what's going to happen with the immigration bill, which is still in committee and which needs some drastic changes. i don't see a champion for those changes within the current government though. in fact, given some of the statments ms turia has made in recent times, i would hate to have her influencing the bill in any way.

and finally, i'm starting to think more favourably towards price controls after hearing excuses from fonterra about why they can't drop the price of milk locally, even though the international price for milk powder has dropped majorly. how is it that there are always excuses for not bringing the price down? despite all the PR statements, i suspect the real reason we'll continue to pay high prices domestically is because fonterra will make us pay for the san-lu disaster. we'll have to pay a higher price because they stuffed up in not knowing the market, in not having adequate controls, in not assessing the risks properly. and i really don't see why we should. the losses should fall where the responsibility lies ie with the company and it's management.

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