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Sun, Jun. 20th, 2010, 10:16 am
Retiring this blog

After a lot of thinking I have decided to retire this blog, for some time most of the posts have been videos and there has been very little content specifically written for this blog.
I'm still writing, and you can read two articles by me every week on Instablogs. My writing there covers organised labour, civil liberties, environmental issues, and New Zealand foreign policy, mostly in relation to the nations of the South Pacific. Each month, there will be at least one article by me in The Spark which can be read online here. My articles for The Spark cover similar topics to my articles on Instablogs (mostly the latter two) but are usually longer, more in depth and analytical.

Will be keeping this blog up for the archived articles. Thanks for reading everyone.

Mon, Apr. 5th, 2010, 01:48 pm
A land grab, or just free trade?

Originally published in The Spark and online

Ever since the global food crisis of 2008, countries such as China, as well as South Korea and the oil-rich but food-poor nations of the Middle East, have been buying up large amounts of land for agricultural production in places like sub-Saharan Africa, sparking concerns about a “new land grab” and “re-colonisation” of the continent. These terms certainly appear to be accurate, the neo-colonial relationship African countries have shared with the West since the end of colonialism proper has kept them poor and susceptible to unequal trade relationships, not just with the Western world, but with emerging economic powers as well. It is surprising however, that similar rhetoric has been used to describe the announcement that Chinese company Natural Dairy NZ plans to buy NZ$1.5 billion worth of farmland, cows and milk processing plants in New Zealand.

“It’s simply a new, Chinese, version of the British economic colonisation that dominated this country’s agriculture up until the 1970s” cried a press release from the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA). Federated Farmers described the move as an “unintended consequence” of the free trade agreement between China and New Zealand. The Green Party said the New Zealand dairy industry “risked falling into the hands of overseas investors” if the government continued to loosen overseas investment rules. And 3 News repeated the claims, scaremongering that “all the milk will go to China.”

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Sun, Apr. 4th, 2010, 11:14 am
The man with the powerful argument

For more information on New Zealand's latest Internet sensation, see my article here

Sat, Apr. 3rd, 2010, 10:47 am
Rise Against - Hero of War

An incredibly moving anti-war song from Rise Against

Sun, Mar. 28th, 2010, 11:49 am
Why New Zealand can support a higher population

Some sections of the environmental movement claim that population is the cause (or at least a cause of environmental degradation. To many people using to few resources. This argument has been debunked many times when it comes to world population, but I'd like to look at just one country, New Zealand.
The Green Party population policy states that "Global population pressure has caused environmental degradation, species loss and man-made global warming. Our country is part of the global problem...the New Zealand population is not currently living within its ecological limitations. At the moment it is estimated that the maximum population that New Zealand can sustain (based on the level of useable [sic] productive land and the ecological footprint of each person in 1997/98) is around 5.7 million."

'Productive land' is a side of the argument I won't go into here (I'm hoping I'll be debating someone from the Green Party on the population issue at 'Marxism 2010' later this year, at which point I'll cover that) I just want to make a quick point, that densely populated areas have a lower per capita carbon footprint that sparsely populated ones. As Wired points of about Manhattan, one of the most densely populated areas on Earth,

"A Manhattanite's carbon footprint is 30 percent smaller than the average American's. The rate of car ownership is among the lowest in the country; 65 percent of the population walks, bikes, or rides mass transit to work. Large apartment buildings are the most efficient dwellings to heat and cool."

At Manhattan levels of density, New Zealand's entire population would fit into Tauranga, with room to spare. Or, 7 times New Zealand's current population would fit into Auckland. Think about that next time someone tells you there is no room for more people

Wed, Feb. 24th, 2010, 03:14 pm
Opposing a Social Order

Fri, Feb. 5th, 2010, 11:15 am
Living Wage Picket Organising Meeting

The Workers Rights Campaign is holding a meeting this Monday (the 8th) to organise a picket of an MP's office on Saturday the 13th as part of the nation wide day of action protesting the pitiful 25 cent increase in the minimum wage and demanding a living wage now! (see Facebook group)

At this meeting we will decide what office to picket, what time, and also organise a placard painting day later in the week as well as some signature collecting for the petition that can also be used to advertise the picket.

7:30pm, Monday the 8th

WEA, 59 Gloucester St (map)

Mon, Feb. 1st, 2010, 03:51 pm
Alistair Hulett fades away

When I used the tag 'obituaries' for the first time on my last post, I wasn't expecting to use it again on my next one, when I saw an email with the subject line 'Alistair Hulett' in my inbox, I at first assumed he was coming back to New Zealand for another tour. Instead, it was this obituary by David Rovics, who toured with him last time he was here;

"Our tour began in Christchurch, New Zealand. This turned out to seem very fitting, since Christchurch is where Alistair moved as a teenager, along with his parents and his sister, in the mid-1960s. He resented having to leave Glasgow, which was at that time a major hotbed of the 1960s global cultural and political renaissance -- a renaissance which had decidedly not yet made its way to little Christchurch, New Zealand. Alistair described to me how the streets of this small city were filled with proper English ladies wearing white gloves when he moved there as a restless youth."

Thu, Jan. 28th, 2010, 05:26 pm
Don't give up - the late Howard Zinn on activism

Rest in peace Howard. This is the man, probably more than any other individual, made me decide to study history. His death is a great loss to the movement for a better world.

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