Why referendums are absolutely meaningless. by underground

In a well written and intelligent editorial, the Herald on Sunday outlined why referendums are not worth the ballot paper the poorly written questions are written on. Entitled “Ask an obvious question and you get a meaningless answer“, today’s editorial outlines how the questions used in referendums are loaded as to ensure tht only one result can possibly be found. In next years citizen initiated referendum on the repealing of section 59 of the Crimes Act, the question will be “should a smack as a part of good parental correction be a criminal offence?” When many experts in child psychology and childcare have said that smacking is not actually a part of good parental correction, the question ceases to make any sense. So do you vote if you disagree with the premise of the question? Vote yes and oppose “good parental correction” (which does not include smacking), or abstain in protest? Continue reading


Prison unit takes a bashing – is it out for the count? by underground

The news that a prisoner has been beaten within an inch of their life at the faith-based He Korowai Whakapono unit at Rimutaku Prison will further jeopardise the future of the facility and the Prison Fellowship not-for-profit organisation that runs it. The inmate is believed to have suffered brain damage in an attack with a pool cue and was taken to Wellington Hospital. This is probably the last thing the Prison Fellowship wanted to happen, as it is only months away from closure, due to a desperate lack of funds. Continue reading

Quality of news and subjectivity of views by underground

The next time someone claims that Fox news is a legitimate source of news, refer them to today. Whilst the BBC and CNN went live to the breaking story about the Israeli bulldozer rampage, Fox persisted with a story about cool advertisements during the 1980’s and something about Barack Obama being so right wing that his election could be considered an extension of George Bush’s presidency. Unless of course different countries get different Fox broadcasts, Fox’s credibility and quality have once again been shown to be lacking. Come to think of it, does Fox have news?

Of course the Jeruselum bulldozer rampage was a great tragedy and hopefully the death toll of the incident does not rise any further. At the time of writing three (including driver) are understood to be dead, with dozen injured, seven critically.

However, I did find it disconcerting that both CNN and BBC said the Israeli police are considering the attack to be a an act of “terrorism”. The term is of course so manipulated in its usage rendering it meaningless, but I can only see their decision to use the term as political and irresponcible. Firstly, on what grounds was the attack by definition terrorism? If it is because the perpetrator was an Arab or Palestinian, than this is clearly racist. If the perpetrator was of another race would it be terrorism? Was it the weapon he choose to use? Considering the Israelis devastating use of bulldozers against the Palestinian people, it is hypocritical for the Israelis to deem this attack as terrorism, regardless of the perpetrators actions, which I of course do not condone. Even foreign peace activists have been the victims of the Israeli bulldozer attacks. Was that terrorism? As of yet no one can clearly ascertain as to whether the perpetrators motives were political, or whether he was aligned to particular Palestinian group. Can it really not be ruled out that the attack was non-political (hard to imagine I know and understandably unlikely, yet still plausible)?

To me it appears that the haste in which the Israelis have used this term is politically motivated. As talks resume and cease fires are discussed, diplomacy could be potentially derailed by violence by either side. As it stands, Israeli “security” operations are still taking place in the Gaza strip. It appears each side is eager to resume full on conflict. The will of the civilians are, as always, ignored.

In one hand the match, in the other the hose by underground
June 23, 2008, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Journalism | Tags: , , , , , ,

I’m not sure where I heard it, but apparently arsonists are often firemen. I would love to provide some statistics to support this wild claim, but my google search came up short. Who needs facts right? I did find this story from the US’s Staten Island and this American study on “Firefighter Arson”, so I’m not making it up. Apparently 33 firemen were charged with arson in 1993, according to the South Carolina Forestry Commission. I think that is only in South Carolina, which makes it all the more surprising. So I imagine these deranged firemen (Reader’s Digest’s most trusted 2008), walking around with cans of gasoline and boxes of matches, lighting bush fires and setting letter boxes alight. 10 minutes later they turn up with the boys in red, on the back of a firetruck, ready to douse out their earlier handiwork.

I don’t know how prevalent the problem is. And I don’t know why these guys do it. Are they bored? Do they not already have enough to do? Aren’t they just making more work for themselves?

Do other professions do a similar thing? What about journalists? What if it is a really slow news day? Should you just run another real estate story as your lead? Should you make a story up? Or, should you do as this Macedonian journalist did, and really make the news? Continue reading

“…and throw away the key!” by underground

Well-publicised recent murders have again re-ignited the public calls for greater punishment for perpetrators of violent offences. The usual cries come out, life without parole, harsher prison conditions and zero tolerance for offenders. The Sensible Sentencing Trust are, like usual, at the forefront of these calls, as are Bob McCoskrie’s Family First lobby group. Typically, such calls are emotive, usually from someone who has been directly affected by violent crime. Although we should not dismiss their opinions because often they are emotive and vengeful, their opinions usually do not focus on the root of the problem. All too often people’s ideas are not solutions to the problem at all, merely ambulances at the bottom of the hill. This is a complex problem, not one that is going to be solved by a simple answer. There are many factors and solutions to these factors are being all too often dismissed as “PC bullshit” as people lean towards discredited hardnosed solutions. The reactionaries always get their head above the crowd and scream the loudest, calling for blood. Continue reading

Reality bringing you down? Here’s the ‘Good News’! by underground

Every news site has a headline that reads of another atrocity. Every hour on the radio brings another depressing report. Every page of the newspaper bears another story of anguish. The television’s six o’clock bulletin blares pain and suffering from the speakers. Is reality bringing you down? Are you sick about hearing what is wrong in the world? Do you feel as though the negative gets too much coverage? Do you long for good news instead of bad?

Here’s the ‘good news‘! Continue reading