Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Hint Of Sushi On The Southern Wind

Sea Shepherd's season-long struggle to shake off its Japanese tails has come closer to NZ.
After the whalers disregarded Oz warnings about entering territorial waters around Macquarie Island last weekend, SS's two ships are now in the Auckland Islands, an uninhabited group about 460km S of NZ's South Island.
It's Plan B, after abandoning attempts for Bob Barker to RV with/refuel Steve Irwin at the sub-Antarctic Macquarie. Paul Watson reckons it'll be more difficult for the whalers to track them at the Aucklands, where his ships will use a network of bays to escape radar.
A NZ Foreign Ministry spokesman says the Japanese govt gave an undertaking that the whalers would not enter the 12-mile limit:
"Whaling vessels are not welcome in NZ territorial waters." (Oh really? Since when did a National Govt actually support what most kiwis feel?) "We've conveyed this message to the govt of Japan. It has assured us the whaling fleet will not enter the NZ territorial sea." (Curious - only two years ago our govt's rep at the International Whaling Commission, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, was loudly supporting an idea to allow Japan to openly hunt whales!)
Paul Watson confirms the tailing Yushin Maru 3 has indeed stopped at the 12-mile limit. But what could NZ do if the nasty Nippons ignored them, huh? Our new ships can't even handle a decent downpour! What hope in sub-Antarctic conditions?
The pursuit across the Southern Ocean has enabled other ships of the whaling fleet to avoid harassment by SS since Christmas. The factory ship Nisshin Maru is so far enjoying an Antarctic whaling season free of close approach by SS. With the aid of two other harpoon ships it's no doubt killed several hundred whales.

PS: 01 Mch.2012 - Now SS says the whole Auckland Islands biz was a ruse, to draw the two Nippon tails to that locale following Steve Irwin, while Bob Barker headed after Nisshin cunning, you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Up Yours, Australia!

I've lost count.
Last week Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) bleated yet again about an outrageous and highly dangerous attack by those evil eco-terrorists, Sea Shepherd, down in the Southern Ocean. Usual life-threatening stuff: paint pellets, stink bombs and smoke flares - naturally all designed to sink the whaling vessels. Yea, right.
That latest incident brought to nine...or is it 10?...the number of attacks SS has launched against Japanese whaling ships this year, none of which has caused major injuries to Japanese crew. But like I say, I've lost count.
I've also lost count of the number of times nasty Nippon whalers have made incursions into Australian waters - despite an Oz federal government demand that they steer clear. They've been closely dogging SS ships, which deliberately led them into Australian waters last weekend, in hopes of shaking their tail and freeing them to go hunt the Nisshin Maru factory ship...
But SS's helicopter found harpoon ship Yushin Maru 3 was 11.2nm off the E shore of sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island, and security ship Shonan Maru 2 was 14nm off the W side.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and Environment Minister Tony Burke bluntly warned the Japanese govt against allowing its whaling fleet to enter the Oz exclusive economic zone (EEZ) at Macquarie. They said the government strongly objected to whaling vessels either passing through the 200-nautical-mile zone, or the 12-mile limit of Australian territorial seas.
SS's Paul Watson: "I don't think they take the Australian government too seriously." Ya think...?
This disregard for Oz demands seems to be the norm for the whalers this year...but then, as I've blogged before, quite frankly, what's the Australian govt doing about it? If it won't actively police its waters (whether or not it supports SS's activities), then it's merely crying over spilt milk...and I've lost count of that too.

Monday, February 27, 2012

On-Line Whale Sales Stopped

A victory for environmentalists, after a big online retailer was forced to remove whale meat products from its site in Japan.
Environmental Investigation Agency UK (EIA) found 147 whale products for sale on Amazon Japan...even though it's policy is to not advertise unlicensed or illegal wildlife products. Some of the items came from endangered whale species, others from Japan's annual "loop-hole" Antarctic hunts. Products included whale bacon, whale jerky and canned whale meat.
After Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos, received tens of thousands of messages of protest via email, Twitter and other social media, accusing the company of hypocrisy, the links were taken down.
Mark Jones, exec.director of Humane Society Intl.UK, said: "In just 24 hours, more than 35,000 supporters appealed to Amazon for a total ban on the sale of whale, dolphin and porpoise products. The public wants these animals protected rather than killed and sold for profit."
EIA: "We welcome Amazon's action to remove whale products from its Japanese website but urge Amazon to confirm it will enact a company-wide ban on the sale of all products derived from whales, dolphins or porpoises."
EIA investigators bought the products online in Dec.2011, saying some contained excessive levels of mercury, while labels on up to a third of them did not list the species: "The most popular product at the time was coastally caught Baird's beaked whale jerky, sold by Hakudai company. The second most popular item, also a Hakudai product, was Icelandic fin whale bacon." (Until recently, Hakudai also sold whale meat as dog food.) Though designated 'endangered', Iceland still kills fin, and exports 1500 tonnes annually to Japan.
But Amazon Japan is not the only guilty e-trader: Yahoo Japan (the biggest internet retailer in that country) was also highlighted for the same practices in 2010 and 2011.
E-traders must be accountable, with governments threatening global shut-down should this sickening selling continue.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Has NZ Got Talent?

$1.6 million of OUR money (meant for arts and culture) will be going towards TV One's NZ's Got Talent reality tv series!
This follows the recent news that broadcast giant Mediaworks unashamedly props up its lame duck Kiwi FM with $300K pa of taxpayer bucks. Govt agency New Zealand On Air's CEO Jane Wrightson says this latest venture (aka the Simon Cowell benevolent fund) is a smart use (?!?!) of our dosh: "It's a wonderful opportunity for many types of NZ performers to entertain a nationwide audience". The public purse commitment is subject to a full budget being confirmed: no start date yet...
Across the road, TV3 has the rights to rival talent show X Factor, another Simon Cowell format. No application yet from TV3 for NZ On Air funding, But CEO Wrightson says she can't rule out our money supporting that too.
Cowell's ...Got Talent series is famous for discovering Susan Boyle but, if NZ Idol was anything to go by, don't expect anyone as earthshattering to come out of Godzone. TVNZ milked NZ Idol for three seasons, but let's be honest - can you name our three Idol winners? (For the record - and I had to Google this - they were Ben Lummis, Rosita Vai and Matthew Saunoa. Yea, right.) The excruciating shows resembled parish pump karaoke. Various kiwi musos openly criticised them, and refused invitations to appear. Singer Boh Runga said she'd "rather lick the inside of a toilet bowl", while TV Guide wrote "if NZ Idol was a horse, you'd have to shoot it. It really is that lame."
Artistic ability can't be created by media - it's either there or it isn't. How many significant NZ bands have sustained international careers since the days of Crowded House? Ummmm... And despite huge efforts to raise the percentage of NZ music on radio, we still don't see kiwi artists dominating the charts for ever and a day.
Does this indicate NZ is not that supportive of local talent?
Or is the talent simply not
And does a tv reality show really constitute 'arts and culture'?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Just How Credible Is Israel?

"You! Yes, YOU behind the
bikesheds! Stand still, laddy!"
As Iran makes more rabid ruckus about its nuclear aspirations (er...
for peaceful purposes!), there's also growing talk about a pre-emptive Israeli strike.
An air strike against Iran's nuclear capabilities would not be unique: Israel did it before (against Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007), and could do it again. In fact, it's been talking this way about Iran for a number of years now...but soon it may back itself into a corner with only one way out: it would destroy its credibility if it was "the country that cried wolf".
So, is there time left for non-military options? Iran's already been slammed with four UN Security Council sanctions, and the European Union hit it with an oil embargo and an assets freeze. Hard to tell if these are working, judging by Iran's threat to starve Europe of ALL oil.
But as we know, there're many ways to skin a cat. In 2011: the Stuxnet cyber-attack (believed to have been developed by the US) that severely damaged Iran's vital nuclear centrifuges. Several Iranian nuclear scientists have mysteriously died (no, let's be honest - been murdered) over the last year. Then tit-for-tat last October, a foiled Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in USA. Last week: failed attacks on Israeli diplomats in Georgia, India and Thailand, and this week another busted plot against Israeli officials.
Critics of an Israeli strike say a military operation would destabilise the Middle East, but how more unstable would it be if Iran got a nuclear bomb? And while Iran's nuke programme couldn't be eliminated in a single strike, it would deliver a powerful message of what more might be in store.
Of course, Iran would strike back. Israeli officials have calculated possible scenarios and decided a certain level of collateral damage would be acceptable: "Is 40 missiles on Tel Aviv nice? No, but it’s better than a nuclear Iran."
Recently the Pentagon conceded it did not have "perfect visibility" regarding Israel’s military other words, it didn't know quite what Israel could do. And last month analysts said Israel did not have the ability to splat Iran's nuclear plants...
Well, if that's really so, then why is everyone getting so worried?

Friday, February 24, 2012

What's Hotter Than A Swedish Nurse?

Hotties - queue here!
Stockholm South General hospital is urging nurses looking "TV-series hot" to apply for a summer position in its emergency dept. A nursing degree might not be enough to land the job: the ad implies management are looking to hire their own Nurse McDreamy!
But officials say the description is merely a way of generating buzz about the job, just an attention-grabber: "Everybody else writes Summer Substitutes Wanted. We got something more catchy." So far, the ad's been well-received, with a statement on the hospital website to clarify things: "People understand it was written to catch their attention, there's been no negative feedback," says Nursing Manager Jorgen Andersson.
Perhaps Swedes have a broader sense of humour than the broads of Feminist Action...
A new group in NZ has launched a campaign against DB Breweries' latest Tui Beer ad showing klutz men outwitting scantily-clad female brewers in order to steal beer. It wants the TVC banned for degrading women and trivialising relationships.
Spokesman Leonie Morris reckons the message is that women are just sexual objects: "They're also saying women are stupid...the men are real dorks, but they still manage to outwit the women." However she's been ridiculed on talkback radio as hypersensitive and out-of-touch.
Tui's humorous advertising campaign uses stereotypes, heavy irony and the phrase "Yeah, Right", with lines like "Camilla for Queen? Yeah, Right" and "Aucklanders are people too. Yeah, Right".
Tui marketing manager Jarrod Bear says the Tui Brewery girls've been involved in ad campaigns since 2005 without complaint. "We salute Ms Morris for voicing her opinions and the public discussion it has created. The feedback Tui has received has been overwhelmingly supportive. Tui Brewery is an equal opportunities employer and we have no grounds for dismissal of the Tui Brewery girls, especially when they're doing such a good job." (Is that your tongue-in-cheek, Jarrod, or are you just pleased to see her?)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Moving The Goal Posts

Radio giant MediaWorks still has its hand out for $300K of annual government funding - despite Kiwi FM now playing international artists in its supposedly 100% NZ format.
Kiwi FM styles itself as non-profit, but is part of the commercial, private equity-owned MediaWorks group.The previous government gave the station free FM frequencies (102.2 Akld., 102.1 Wgtn., 102.5 Canterbury), providing it used them to promote local music. Last Monday Kiwi FM switched to 60% local/40% international.
Mediaworks sees no problem with the government prop-up, saying the annual $300K from NZ On Air is for some shows on the station - these shows "are unaffected by the change and will continue to play 100% NZ music and remain in the schedule, so this funding isn't affected." Hmmm, sounds like semantics...
is it worth it?
With MediaWorks group programme director Andrew Szusterman's assessment that Kiwi FM’s audience (of around 20,000) is not sustainable, the format's entire viability must be questioned.
Auckland University of Technology radio lecturer Matt Mollgaard reckons this new change is not fulfilling Kiwi FM's objectives and the frequencies should be put up for tender: "Those frequencies are worth millions. The last in one in Auckland sold for around $6.5 million, for a 20-year lease."
Questions were raised last year when Mediaworks and Prime Minister John Key got palsy-walsy over the deferring of $43 million in radio licensing fees for MediaWorks.
MediaWorks' radio division operates in 23 markets, with nationwide brands MORE FM, RadioLIVE, The Sound (ex-Solid Gold), The Edge, The Breeze, The Rock, LiveSPORT and Kiwi FM, as well as regional stations Mai FM (in Auckland, Northland and Rotorua), Times FM (Orewa), George FM, Radio Dunedin and Coromandel FM. Such a monster broadcasting company does not need - and should be embarrassed to be taking - subsidies from NZ On Air. And frankly, if Kiwi FM can only muster 20K listeners across the entire country, it's not worth running. If a station can't drum up more than 20K in one CITY, it's not worth running! Szusterman: "It's all well and good having a 100% NZ radio station but if people aren't listening to it in droves, what's the point?" Exactly!
Sell the frequencies. Return the money to the public coffers.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Space: The Final Rubbish Frontier?

Orbiting our earth...16,000 pieces of debris larger than a fist.
Bits lost during space walks, pieces broken off by meteorite strikes, the remains of satellites that have collided with each other...all wizzing around at about 28,000kmph/17,000mph.
At risk, hundreds of satellites providing global communication that we take so much for granted: the net, mobile phones, GPS etc. When space junk collides, it only compounds the problem: in 2099, US and Ruskie satellites collided over Siberia, generating an estimated 1,000 pieces of new debris. That debris can also endanger astronauts' lives: the International Space Station (ISS) has had to move to get out of the traffic.
Now Swiss scientists are working on a solution: CleanSpace One, an $11m "janitor satellite". CleanSpace One could launch in 3-5yrs. It would grab a target satellite with a robotic arm or other mechanism and force it back toward Earth, where both would burn up on re-entry.
But engineers have to solve several problems to get the janitor to work properly. CleanSpace One has to get onto the same orbital plane as its target, latch onto it at high speed, and then de-orbit it. They're also working on a grasping mechanism that would work when the two objects are travelling at high speed and one is rotating.
So far CleanSpace One would be a one-shot deal, with each one being launched for a single-capture mission. That would mean a heck of a long time (and cost) before they'd make a dent in the floating junkyard. But currently, apart from using a ground-based laser, there seems no other option. Building more strength into satellite design to survive a 28,000kmph collision, is beyond our capabilities (well, unless there's some alien inspiration in Area 51???).
But after all, why should we litter space when it's a no-no here on Earth? 
PS: 24 March 2012 - ISS crew take to the liferafts as space junk comes dangerously near.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Free To Fight On

A US judge has declined to restrain the activities of anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd.
The judge said he's denying a request for an injunction made by Japanese whalers, the Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR). ICR says SS has attacked and rammed its ships off Antarctica during the whaling season, and asked the judge to stop them.
SS uses stink bombs, prop foulers and other non-lethal means to interfere with the whalers. The group argues its activities are supported by international law, that the court doesn't have jurisdiction in the Southern Ocean, and that it's the whalers who've rammed its vessels.
ICR says their whalers are "entitled to be free from attack by what are essentially self-proclaimed pirates." Japan's whaling fleet kills up to 1,000 whales a year, an self-granted exception under a loophole in a ruling by the International Whaling Commission. Japan is permitted to hunt the animals as long as they're caught for "research" and not commercial purposes. Whale meat not used for study is sold as food in Japan, which we all know is the real reason for the hunts...
SS regularly launches or throws bottles containing paint or butyric acid at the whaling vessels. "A crew member could be blinded in such an attack," says Tomoyuki Ogawa, captain of the factory ship Nisshin
Maru. "These attacks also cause fear in the crew, thus interfering with the prompt and accurate carrying-out of orders."
SS's Paul Watson says his activists have never injured any whalers. He accuses the whalers of attacking activists with concussion grenades, long-range acoustical devices, bamboo spears, heavy nuts and bolts, and water cannons.
Meanwhile, Bob Barker has resupplied in Wellington NZ, and sails tomorrow for a Southern Ocean rendezvous with Steve Irwin, which is doggedly trying to close the gap with NM.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Stick A Flower In It

An idea to remember those who died in the Christchurch earthquake is doing the rounds of social media websites.
A cartoon pic is asking Cantabrians to place a flower in a road-cone this Wednesday 22nd.February, one year after the devastating earthquake that killed 185 people.
The man behind it is Henry Sunderland, a CPIT design tutor, who says the idea stemmed from another campaign last Christmas that he also organised: "I've heard from the Christmas one that the little old ladies that go past, it made their day to see a bit of Christmas decoration. It just gave them a spark and lit them up and that's basically what it's about."
He says this is a nice way for people across Christchurch to remember those who died...just watch out for traffic when placing flowers in the road-cones.
So often we expect large council-organised remembrance ceremonies after events such as the big 'quake. However this is a very simple, cheap, effective idea anyone can participate in, anywhere in the country.
The EQ impacted on all of NZ. It would be special indeed to see flowers in roadcones all over the country this coming Wednesday.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Philip Overall Has A Lot To Learn

The man who coined the phrase The customer is always right...
was wrong.
But the guy who owns his business and therefore thinks he can treat customers as he also wrong.
Harry Selfridge (1857-1947) the UK founder of London's Selfridges store, created that line. Of course, he didn't intend it to be taken literally. What he was trying to do was to make the customer feel special, by getting his staff to behave as if the customer was right, even when they weren't.
Recently I gassed up my car at BP Te Kuiti (this service station is on the corner of Carroll Street and Awakino Road: Awakino Road is the one you take to go to New Plymouth)...
I was going to pay with MTA petrol vouchers (Motor Trade Assn.vouchers are happily accepted by over 4,000 retailers across NZ). I saw the customer ahead of me also wanted to use vouchers, but had been refused. This was causing him concern as he had no cash or credit card. Eventually the assistant exchanged the vouchers for his own cash, which then allowed the customer to pay for the fuel.
When it was my turn, I asked why MTA vouchers were not accepted. The assistant said it was the manager's decision. After paying by credit card, I requested he pass on to the manager that many motorists used MTA vouchers and that declining them, certainly without any warning at the pumps, was a major inconvenience. He shrugged, told me to take it up with the manager, and pointed to the man on the other till (the manager himself)...
So I asked the manager why vouchers were not accepted, but he very quickly became agitated and verbally abusive. He said MTA vouchers were a "piece of s***, not worth the f***ing paper they're printed on", and snarled: "This is a f***ing electronic age! Use a f***ing credit card!"

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Adele Just A Passing Fad?

Noel Gallagher says Adele's success won't last!
Harsh words from the former Oasis singer...and also from fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld: Gallagher sees her as a flash in the pan, while Lagerfeld says she’s too fat!
Gallagher states that women just don't stick around in his business: "I feel sorry for girls in the music industry. They have a very short shelf life. For instance, Duffy: who? Gone. She was massive. And I don't doubt for a second the same thing will happen to Adele." Ok, valid point about Duffy, the Welsh singer who won a Grammy in 2009 then flopped. But as for his suggestion that women can't last in the music industry, I don't need to start naming names to disprove that one. If one is going to beat that drum, one can easily compile a list of those that didn't make it...and just as easily draw up another of those that did! With Adele’s massive voice and huge fan base, it's hard to imagine she won't be a big star for years to come.
Lagerfeld mentioned Adele in an interview when he was asked about US singer/songwriter Lana Del Rey: "I prefer Adele and Florence Welch. The thing at the moment is Adele. She is a little too fat, but she has a beautiful face and a divine voice." Of course, the wizened 78yr.old Lagerfeld (of dubious style savvy) inhabits an unreal world where anyone larger than a 12yr.old girl is considered to be carrying too much weight. Lagerfeld has since made a grovelling backtrack, saying he's a big fan. Riiiiiight. Adele states bluntly she has no desire to be a 'skinny Minnie': "I've never seen magazine covers and music videos and thought I need to look like that to sell more records. I don’t need to - I am selling records! I don't find that attractive and even if I did have a Sports Illustrated body, I'd still wear elegant clothes. I ain't lookin' like no slapper. Exploiting yourself sexually is not a good look."
The classically stylish Adele creamed the Grammy Awards last weekend - whereas Noel Gallagher's Oasis hasn't scored a US hit since 1998! I'm picking she won’t be too worried about these comments...
PS: 22 Feb.2012 - Un-bloody-believeable! Adele returns in triumph to UK to score two prizes at the Brit Awards...only to have the producers cut off her acceptance speech after about 10 seconds!!!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Who's a prize prat then?
MP Trevor Mallard's been busted, selling tickets on TradeMe...for a profit!
He on-sold four tickets to the Homegrown Music Festival for a profit of $276. But wait, he says that's NOT illegal coz the anti-scalping law applies only to major events (like the Rugby World Cup). I'm sure Homegrown director Mark Wright would just love to hear his hard work doesn't rank highly on the 'major events' barometer.
Labour leader David Shearer says he was unwise to sell the tickets for more than their value, but Mallard says it's not hypocritical at all! He was Economic Development Minister in 2006, when he sponsored legislation to outlaw ticket scalping. He says he didn't buy tickets to make a profit, and sees nothing wrong with selling them when he discovered he couldn't use them.
Fair enough: no-one wants to waste money. However unless they sell the tickets for ONLY face value, they're breaking the law! That's not the point though, is it? This smells of "do as I say, not as I do". It's
"one law fits all", Trev. You should know: you championed it!
He sold four tickets to the same festival last year on TradeMe, and two in 2009. He also sold a Wellington Sevens ticket in 2009. But he denies this was scalping: "Scalping is buying tickets for the intention of selling them. I bought them with the intention of going." Ticketek says it's unhappy with him selling the tickets for a profit. He has breached its terms and conditions of sale which say tickets may not, without the prior written consent of Ticketek or the Seller, be resold at a premium and if this happens the ticketholder could be refused entry to an event.
PM John Key laughed when asked about the incident: "I don't know the ins and outs of it, but it sounds untidy.'' Should Mallard face disciplinary action for the sale? "I don't know legally, but it's probably a bit embarrassing."
Meanwhile Trev desperately tried to buy back the tickets from the purchasers, but they turned him down flat. They say they'd like to see the profit from the sale go to charity.
So how about it, Trev: put your money where your mouth is, and publicly donate it to a charity...?
Or would you rather face censure in the House?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hackers Bite Off Less Than They Can Chew

The on-line activist group Anonymous
What??!! Y'mean...
came to New Zealand, and all they got was a t-shirt...
It's been revealed they hacked Foreign Minister Murray McCully's private email account last April. *shock*horror*probe*
So what was happening then, that made Anonymous so interested in The Womble? Well, NZ had passed laws cracking down on illegal file-sharing and threatening to disconnect repeat offenders from the internet. Muddling McCully was also trying to persuade us that a half-billion-dollar projected loss for the *yawn* Rugby World Cup was a good thing...and there was also the Tupperwaka ruckus! So really, the earth wasn't movin' in the world of Foreign Affairs...
PM John Key's confident the hackers didn't get any sensitive information because if they had, "it would be on the net by now". No shit, Sherlock!
While the hacked email was a private one, McCully had asked his staff to forward official emails to it. (Duuuuhhh!! Shall I get a school kid to brief you on internet security basics?) That really was silly, Womble: you can access your work email account from anywhere anyway, so why double any risk? Ahhhhhh, I know why - the PM gave us the answer: because there was nothing interesting in Muddling McCully's emails AT ALL! NOT a
good password???
All the hackers did was send on a few piss-take emails from his account, and
go looking for some real targets (they screwed the FBI, US Justice Dept.,CIA and French presidential websites instead).
Muddling McCully wouldn't detail those mocking emails: "I don't want to give people ideas." Oh, we've got the idea, all right, Muzz. It's official. The hackers have proved really ARE the most booooring womble in NZ politics!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Let Justice Be Served

The slow and often creaky wheels of justice are finally turning, in the case of the Urewera Four.
The four remaining members of the "Urewera 17" - Tame Iti, Emily Bailey, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara and Urs Signer (described as armed revolutionary leaders by the Crown) - were arrested in an Oct.1997 police operation in the Urewera Ranges, after extensive surveillance on what's alleged to be a Tuhoe terrorist training camp.
The four are charged with illegal possession of firearms and being in an organised criminal group: they've pleaded not guilty - while Signer used the words "I'm innocent of all charges", a ploy oft used by radicals to say "Because I don't recognise your authority over me, I'm innocent of your charges".
Outside court, the usual gaggle of protesters and supporters, holding flags and banners showing their allegiances: Tuhoe, the Mana Party and the Maori separatist flag.
Before the case began, Tame Iti said he was ready to "debate the issues". Sorry, sunshine - you're in court now, not a three-ring circus! He likens the case to colonial oppression of Tuhoe in the 1860s and feels unsure if he'll get a fair trial. He took a light-hearted approach, saying he'd make himself as comfortable as possible, find somewhere to have a sleep and possibly do some art over the next three months. This flippancy merely underscores the contempt in which he regards the court and the NZ legal system: remember, this is the man who 'brown-eyed' the Queen!
Mana Party leader Hone Harawira is calling the Crown's case "deeply racist" but, as always, Hone Bro needs to familiarise himself with the definition of the word racist before using it...because no-one's uttered anything of the sort! Has the Crown, the police, any commentators said Tuhoe, maori or the defendants are sub-human? Or that because of their ethnicity they're inferior? If Hone expects the four to get preferential treatment because of their ethnicity, that expectation is borderline racism.
Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell takes a more mature approach, hoping the evidence will help the public "find out what actually is behind this". He says Tuhoe have been "tarred with the brush of being terrorists" and it's important the truth is exposed.
And that is indeed the purpose of a trial: to ascertain the truth and, if needed, deliver a punishment. Though some may wish to spin it as racism, this trial is simply about the laws by which everyone in New Zealand must abide.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

On Goldfish And Love

Officially known as Valentine's Day and marked annually on February 14th., St.Valentine's day is the day to celebrate the love between you and your partner.
It's also the day of absurdly-priced roses, packed restaurants...and high drama at the office when the women out-bitch each other with the size and amount of bouquets received. If you do get busted forgetting flowers or that it's actually THAT day, calmly explain to your loved one that you don't believe in commercialism. Instead tell them you feel your love is present every day and that, unlike your relationship, flowers will eventually die. Brilliant!
Dining out tonight? Put in a bit of effort into your clothing. As Mark Twain said - rather strangely - during a speech at the Louisiana Central Naturist Club in the 1880s: "Clothes maketh the man. Naked people have very little impact on society." Things not to wear on any date include safety workgear, tracksuits or gumboots...unless for some bizarre reason you're taking them to an abbattoir (which would quite literally be rather stink!).
Even the best relationships can get a little stale. Make sure you keep things sparking with regular dates, or find other ways to spend time together that don't involve you parked up in your grundies on the couch watching Sky Sport. Remember to ask your partner about their day, listen to them...even if you feel you're definitely the more interesting one!
Romance doesn't have to be expensive. You just need a little imagination, or internet access to rip off some inspiration. Low-cost ideas include: writing a poem (something better than "There was a young girl from Nantucket..."), leaving wee lovenotes everywhere saying things like "thinking of you" rather than "have you ironed my shirt yet?", maybe master some sexy phrase in French such as "has the milk passed its best-buy date?" If you say it smoothly enough, your partner won't care what the words actually mean!
Remember, relationships are like goldfish. Anyone can get one, but not everyone can keep 'em alive.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bigger Fish To Fry

Looks like the current police tolerance for speeding over 4kmph above the limit won't become a permanent thing.
These stricter conditions will stay until the end of this month, then be reserved for holiday periods.
But no matter how diligent you are at monitoring your speed, you may still be breaking the law without boils down to the wrong-sized tyres on your car.
It's all to do with the revolution of the tyre affecting the speedo. Y'see, the speedometer is not some hi-tech analytical contraption detecting the passage of your modus transportus past a given point by measuring air particle movement via quantum physics! If your car is wearing large tyres, they're taking longer to go around, therefore the speedo does not register correctly and it simply counts the number of tyre revolutions. A 5% increase/decrease in the height of tyres can alter your speedo reading by 5kmph...just enough to make you a borderline lawbreaker.
The Automobile Association’s Mike Noon says speedos are so unreliable, it would rather see the road safety focus go on improving roads rather than improving revenue: "We've called for $150-million to improve simple road safety initiatives. If we do that for ten years we will save eight lives a year, every year."
Police say the current speed tolerance reduction applies for February and public holidays only: "There is no consideration of making this a permanent reduced tolerance."
Motoring writer Clive Matthew-Wilson says the police are very quick to take credit when the road toll lowers over a holiday period: "But when it went up by 50% over Christmas they blamed the drivers. They can’t have it both ways. If this sort of enforcement works, the road toll would go down and stay down...but it didn’t." Maybe police have realised that a large proportion of law-abiding motorists do exceed that 4kmph margin inadvertently, but that chasing every one of them with prosecutions or fines simply bogs down the system, when they have much bigger jobs on their plate...
This should not be seen as a victory for those whoexceed limits to a marked degree (perhaps hit them even harder than now?) but simply sensible enforcement.
Of course, the big question is: how much is too much?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Full Steam Ahead As Tanks Get Low

Sea Shepherd plugs on, relentlessly chasing the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru.
Leader Paul Watson says the group's long-range vessel Bob Barker had used some of its own fuel to top up the Steve Irwin, which now has enough to stay at sea into next month. BB is leaving the pursuit to take on more fuel "from an undisclosed location".
The pursuit began in mid-December and Watson estimates there're another 50 days left in the whaling season. SI has clocked up 13,000 nautical miles and BB 14,500nm: "We're sending BB back, because it has greater fuel capacity and can bring back enough fuel for both ships to remain with the whalers until the end of the season." Makes SS doesn't have the luxury of rendezvousing with a resupply tanker like the nasty Nippons do.
The activists are within 100nm of NM, off Antarctica's unclaimed Marie Byrd Land (about halfway between NZ and South America), so it's logical to assume BB will arrive in a NZ port in the next week.
Antarctic weather remains mainly stormy. In fact, Watson describes it as "the worst season for bad weather we've experienced in the eight seasons we've been down here. They've had little time to hunt whales and I'm confident if we remain here until the end of the season, that we'll have an enormous impact."
At the same time, both SS vessels are still being tailed by Japanese vessels - the harpoon ship Yushin Maru No.3 following SI, and the security ship Shonan Maru No.2 behind BB.
SS believes it's been able to disrupt the refuelling of NM by the resupply ship Sun Laurel, due to its proximity to the factory ship. Watson says both SL and NM are fuelled with bunker C heavy fuel oil - outlawed south of 60 degrees last year by the International Maritime Organisation. Kiwi turncoat Glenn Inwood, mouthpiece for the Institute of Cetacean Research, rose to the bait: "Nisshin Maru does not use heavy fuel oil during the JARPA II research programme. This is a statement of fact."
Japan has not yet revealed numbers of how many whales have been caught - that figure won't be released until the fleet returns to port, but its odds-on that it'll be another financially disastrous year! Shame...
PS: 16 Feb.2012 - BB has arrived in Wellington, and is taking on supplies until the 19th., when it's back to the fray.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A New National Day?

Calls for a new National Day to celebrate New Zealand's identity as an independent nation...
The Newmarket Business Association in Auckland says the Treaty of Waitangi was "essentially a truce with an occupying power" and not the founding document of a unified nation. So it's suggested three possible dates, each with its own significance for the country, to be recognised as 'our own Independence Day'.
Sept.19th commemorates the 1893 granting of the vote to women, making ours the first country in the world with a completely universal democracy. The second date, favoured by the Assn's CEO Ashley Church, is Nov.26th, the day in 1907 when we were granted significant autonomy from Britain - this was called Dominion Day, but isn't celebrated these days. And the third suggestion is Nov.25th, the date of NZ's full autonomy in 1947.
Mr Church says the Treaty does not underpin NZ's identity as a sovereign state, and "was primarily concerned with recognising Maori as British subjects, and acknowledging the governing role of the parliament in England".
Of course, to many kiwis today, the suggested dates mean little at all: these events are not taught in NZ schools and rarely seen on calendars. Many feel Anzac Day would be more appropriate. That solemn day marks the 'blooding' of NZ forces at Gallipoli and other battlefields, and the real awareness that we were a separate entity to The Mother Country.
This is a discussion that will continue for years to come, the govt.adamant that no change is imminent. But certainly something must be done to ensure any national day is more peaceful and celebratory than what's been happening over the last few decades...

Friday, February 10, 2012

All In A Day's Work

Entangled in the rope of a crayfish pot...the only way to breathe is to drag that entire weight to the surface.
This week a young orca found itself in such a predicament in 25m water, several hundred metres off the Coromandel coast.
Dept.of Conservation urgently rang Cathedral Cove Diving in Hahei, and 19yr.old Rhys Cochrane answered the call-to-arms.
When he and his father reached the orca it appeared quite calm, despite having visible injuries on its head, tail and body, and being very vocal. Rhys dived straight in to release the rope and buoy, saying he wasn't scared, although that changed slightly when the orca's pod swimming nearby come over and try to help...!
"He was pretty tired and sore and didn't really react as he would in the wild, so I jumped in but a few moments after, the pod came around. There were massive ones, five metres, so I started to get a little bit scared because they were big and healthy. I just went back down, grabbed on to its tail, and wrapped my legs around the rope and cut it off." It took the slightly stunned orca a few seconds to realise it was free again: "He kinda sat there for 5-10 seconds then swam away pretty quickly." Great work, guys!
Journos have been calling from as far away as USA.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Point Too Far?

When Waitangi awareness is high, you can bet someone
plays "the race grievance card".
But one maori academic has been criticised for calling the colonisation of NZ a holocaust! Keri Opai, a Taranaki language teacher, says maori have been through some "awful stuff that really does break down to a holocaust". He cites the 1881 pillaging of Parihaka by government troops as a damning episode, and says many NZers do not realise the extent of the devastation. He claims post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been passed down through generations, and is behind many contemporary problems.
Taranaki Daily News wrongly reported Opai had directly compared the European colonisation of NZ with the Nazis' killing of six million Jews during WWII. The paper later apologised, but not before indignant comments hit the media, both here and in Britain...
Jewish Council president Stephen Goodman describes his comments as ignorant and improper. "It tries to elevate maori grievances by associating with the Holocaust, and I find it very hard to draw a comparison between the colonisation and genocide. It works on trivialising the Holocaust and diminishing the suffering and sheer horror. Maori have every right to draw attention to their issue, but this is a highly inappropriate way."
The Oxford Dictionary describes holocaust as: destruction or slaughter on a mass scale, esp. caused by fire or nuclear war (and cites Auschwitz concentration camp as an example). It was that
"mass scale" slaughter that Opai claims to have been referring to (though he's still stretching it a fair bit). He would've been wiser to have chosen a less emotive word, however as a language teacher for 30 years, he knew exactly what buttons he'd push!
But a good academic will ensure he has his facts right. Opai claims the PTSD suffered by Parihaka residents is behind many of today's maori problems. But a 1995 peer-reviewed article says "Although most people (50–90%) encounter trauma in their lifetime, only about 8% develop full PTSD." It also states PTSD can not be passed down through generations - it is a severe anxiety disorder, it does not corrupt DNA.
The reason this trauma appears on the radar today is because it's used as an excuse. We all must move ahead, take responsibility for ourselves and not blame something that happened 121 years ago.
NZ Colonisation: 21,000 maori died in war, 120,000 disease/illness.
Nazi Holocaust: Six million mainly Jews exterminated.
[Kessler, Sonnega, Bromet, Hughes, Nelson (1995).
"Posttraumatic stress disorder in the National Comorbidity Survey".
Arch Gen Psychiatry 52 (12): 1048–60.]

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Be Careful What You Drink, Bro

This'll either have you sniggering derisively or shaking your head in disbelief...
yesterday, maori claimed they own all the water in NZ! I kid you not.
The NZ Maori Council lodged a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal over maori ownership rights to water. It's clearly a delaying tactic against the govt's plan to sell state-owned assets... but all it's done is make those involved look pretty damn stupid!
Water is obviously essential for running the four state-owned energy companies that're ear-marked for sale. But Maanu Paul of the council says water is a commodity Maori own and have the right to develop:
"We want the tribunal and all the courts to look at the question - if Maori did not have their ownership removed, where would Maori be with these assets?"
Probably laughing all the way to the bank, Maanu...just like the whole country would be, if its advancement wasn't constantly hindered by timewasting like this!
A Waitangi Tribunal ruling is not binding on the govt., so why are the bros even bothering? Obviously from the various Treaty settlements, there's plenty of money to burn on legal fees... I get
back to you on that?
PM John Key says the claim's unnecessary and it won't slow the flow. He rightly says water does not belong to anyone. However new Labour leader David Shearer can't make up his mind on the matter: "I have no understanding of their claim until it goes to court. I can't tell if it's legitimate or not." Sorry, David? You can't tell if this farce is legitimate or not? A man in a coma could figure this one out! Hmmm, a man in a coma could also tell David why his party's in opposition for another term...
Meantime, guzzle that water, boys and girls - it's all yours...for NOW! Wonder if the bros will also demand a percentage from the sales of imported bottled water at the same time? That too is "water in New Zealand"...let's face it: if we're talking 'ridiculous claims', we may as well go the whole hog!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Well Past Due Date

Sunday's Waitangi confrontation highlighted that NZ Day celebrations will remain marred, until the radical fringe is banned.
New chair of Te Tii Marae, Rihari Dargaville, has threatened to end the traditional weekend welcomes for politicians if protesters don't behave next year: he'll use police to keep them back from official ceremonies.
On Sunday, PM John Key arrived at the marae along with Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples and other govt.MPs, but protesters drowned him out with abuse and the visit was cut short. In contrast, Monday's dawn service on the actual Treaty ground itself was calm, friendly... mature.
Pita Sharples is disappointed at the abuse, as his party is fighting for the same things protesters are (this surely indicates protesters have little grasp of what they're bitching about!). He says he's put his job on the line over the inclusion of Treaty provisions in the partial sale of four state-owned assets.
Rihari Dargaville's police threat however is like closing the stable door after the horse has gone! NZ knows from vast past experience how the rabid rabble will behave - verbal violence, projectiles, scuffles, zero respect for people or indeed the very culture they claim to be defending! Dargaville should have kept them back this year, or banned them entirely!
No surprise that Wikitana Popata, who assaulted John Key in 2009, was among those who abused him on Sunday. The 22yr.old rabid nephew of firebrand MP Hone Harawira says his generation has had enough (What? Unemployment benefits don't satisfy 'em anymore?) and doesn't want to talk to "the enemy" (if that's the case, why turn up at Waitangi? Wasn't that dialogue? Albeit foulmouthed and via a megaphone!). This same prat, on his poorly-supported march to Parliament over the Foreshore and Seabed Act last year, stated:
"We're gonna take over this country!" Riiiiiiiiight!
New Zealand Day/Waitangi Day is supposed to be a happy family one, a chance to reflect that this nation was formed peacefully. It's a chance to be thankful for the great country we have and the many opportunities it provides (including the right to peaceful protest).
Certain loudmouthed minority elements need to remember this.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Hare's Lookin' At You, Kid!

A self-taught sheep-herding Swedish rabbit has hopped into the hearts of YouTube viewers around the world.
Champis, a 5-yr.old pet rabbit owned by a family in the village of Kal in northern Sweden has become an online sensation, with a video displaying his impressive farm-management skills getting over 740,000 YouTube views in a week!
The clip shows Champis running back and forth on the farm, keeping his master's sheep together. This is a tough enough job for a dog to learn, but extremely impressive for a rabbit! The beige bunny has never been trained for the job but seems to have learned the ropes all on his own, by watching trained sheepdogs do the job.
Champis is a dwarf-rabbit, a European breed of bunny, smaller than a typical Swedish wild rabbit. Despite his tiny size, the sheep seem to pay their miniscule minder a world of respect, letting him herd them around when he feels they need some moving. Mind you, as Monty Python pointed out, sheep are very dim!

[And if you're wondering about the song in the video clip, it's Run Rabbit Run and dates back to British theatre in the 1930s...]

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Biking Blame Game

Following a cycling death court case highlighting
the dangers of Auckland's Tamaki Drive, roading authorities say they can't simply remove potential hazards to make it safer.
Glenn Becker was on trial last week for careless use of a vehicle causing death. In Nov.2010 he opened his car door in front of cyclist Jane Bishop, who swerved and was killed by a passing truck. The carparks were after a road bend that created a "pinchpoint" for road-users during heavy traffic. The judge sensibly dumped the case, saying the site was inherently dangerous and Becker had been careful exiting his vehicle.
The trial was reminded that several parking spaces instantly vanished from Tamaki Drive after the accident. But Auckland Transport says the removal of more spaces needs public consultation: the Local Government Act stipulates consultation when parks are removed on a larger scale. This week Auckland Transport is meeting Cycling Action Auckland to "discuss" which parks need to go. An 'action plan' to improve the popular waterfront road includes signage, clearways, more cycle lanes and ramps onto the footpath to ease cyclist access, an education campaign, more police vigilance. Also being considered are traffic lights, widening the footpath or possibly constructing a boardwalk - all projects're expected to be completed by the end of next year.
WTF???!!! By the end of 2013???!!! When the council was staring at some serious shit straight after the accident, it removed some parking IMMEDIATELY. No "public consultation" wanking. It did that to reduce its culpability, swinging the blame spotlight onto Becker. But as Cycle Action's Barbara Cuthbert says, Glenn Becker "was the fall guy for the infrastructure - Jane Bishop was the victim".
The records show this has always been a cycling danger zone. Council should have taken immediate action YEARS ago, but now it needs to understand what "immediate" means - no pussying around with consultation, just do its job NOW, not stretch this out 'til the end of next year!
However this is not only a council issue: cyclists must pay as close attention to the traffic situation as motorists. After all, as Timaru Herald points out, cars will always be bigger than bikes...
The only party not responsible in this mess seems to have been the near-sacrificial lamb Glenn Becker.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

In For The Long Haul

When watching the Olympics, marathons aren't half as exciting as sprints - due to their protracted length and the fact that little seems to happen during them.
That pretty much sums up the current state-of-play in the Southern Ocean. Both sides in the Antarctic whaling conflict are dragging out a marathon pursuit. Leader Paul Watson says Sea Shepherd's two ships have covered more than 5000 nautical miles as some of the Japanese fleet's ships tail them, while others are on the run.
Steve Irwin and Yushin Maru No.2
play Antarctic cat-and-mouse
The chase has moved along the coast of the Australian Antarctic Territory and through the Ross Sea to waters off Marie Byrd Land, about midway between NZ and South America, and now back towards the Ross Sea.
Steve Irwin and Bob Barker are being tailed by two Japanese harpoon ships, alternating with the fleet's security ship Shonan Maru No.2. The faster Japanese vessels are able to warn the factory ship Nisshin Maru of Sea Shepherd's location, allowing it to steer clear.
A plan by BB to again shake off its pursuer inside the territorial waters of Australia's Macquarie Island had to be abandoned when the Sea Shepherd ship was forced away by severe weather. And this week's weather has been no better: "It's been horrendous!" Paul Watson says on the positive side, they've been chasing NM continuously and, more importantly, they've been keeping the refuelling vessel Sun Laurel on the run to keep it from NM. Sea Shepherd is within helicopter and drone range of SL...and NM needs to fuel soon. "This entire fleet has been on the run for over a month and a half, burning lots of fuel and catching very few whales."
However Sea Shepherd is still handicapped by the loss of its fast scout vessel Brigitte Bardot, undergoing storm damage repairs in Western Australia. "Without BrBt, we can't close the gap on NM, but we can keep the fleet running."
Tokyo's Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) does not comment on the movements of the whaling fleet, but has not released any limp-dick whinging press releases of late.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Soulful Send-Off

Some seriously soulful singing in Auckland this morning.
Pauline, Adele and Mary
A who's who of NZ entertainment will be farewelling Anna (better known as Mary) Yandall, a key member of the Yandall Sisters, who's died aged 62.
The Yandall Sisters were born into a Samoan family and started performing (with another sibling, the late Caroline) at Sunday school and various private functions. Their first recording was in the mid-'60s, but they shot to prominence around 1972 as a slick cabaret act in the soft soul style of the Supremes, heading to Australia shortly after the release of their first single. Returning to NZ in 1973, the Yandalls - now a trio - backed a number of high profile acts. Over the next two years they sang behind every solo artist who recorded for the HMV/EMI company. They appeared with kiwi entertainers including John Rowles, Billy T James, Prince Tui Teka, Dalvanius Prime and Sir Howard Morrison.
Mary recorded Hawaiian Wedding Song as a duet with crooner John Rowles in the early 70s.
The sisters won the NZ Entertainer of the Year Award in 1977 and enjoyed growing popularity as a regular live act and on television well into the 1980s.
In 1990, Mary Yandall also recorded a solo album called "Sunset On Sunset", from which two singles were released.
You may have seen them performing at the tribute concert for Sir Howard after his death in 2009.
Sweet Inspiration (1975) was the Yandalls' biggest hit, staying on the National Charts for 14 weeks, peaking at No.8. Still today it's one of those well-known songs the cuzzies will groove to, around the bbq on a summer's evening. A bona-fide Kiwi classic, they reprise it in this live clip from 1986 in front of a live tv audience, showcasing those smooth Samoan harmonies that'll fill the Pacific Islanders' Presbyterian Church in Newton this morning to farewell Mary Yandall.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Will Maori Pull The Power Plug?

The power wagon wheels are bogging down in brown stuff...
The Maori Party's co-leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia are seriously concerned with how the govt is handling the partial asset sales of four state-owned power companies. Genesis Energy, Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power and Solid Energy are to be removed from the State-owned Enterprises Act, have 49% of their shares sold, and will not be covered by the treaty clauses in the legislation.
The Maori Party maintains this amounts to saying the Treaty of Waitangi does not exist (which could mean the end of its confidence and supply agreement, a deal breaker)! How they reach that conclusion is QUITE a stretch... but it can never be said that maori politicos are not blessed with vivid imaginations.
A senior Victoria University specialist says the Maori Party threat shows it's serious about its bottom line. Dr Maria Bargh says if the govt removes treaty clauses in the new legislation, the rights of maori would be eroded. She says the next three years are crucial for the Maori Party to reassert its independence. Ahhhhhhh, so is this really just about the party showing voters it actually has some rahos (balls)..?
NZers without brown skin may well wonder what chances THEY will have to voice their opinions. After all, the govt is beginning a round of meetings to consult maori on these legislative changes. These will be led by State-Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall and Finance Minister Bill English, who said "we want to understand maori views before we take final decisions". What about other views? The govt made the asset sales a key election issue. We all knew that. Now it's doing what it said it would do. But first it must talk with maori...of course... naturally... why not... even though everyone is already aware of its plans - and mainly unhappy about 'em, according to opinion polls.
Some maori favouring the sales want preferential treatment when the shares are sold: PM John Key has ruled that out. So by playing the race card (again!), is the Maori Party simply revealing a greed for first options on share-purchasing? Excuse me, but why should anyone get a head start? The only exception I'd make for this is that NZ buyers should be favoured over international prospects.
Hopefully what the PM will gain from this native consultation, is that a majority of maori are as strongly opposed to the sales as the majority of the population generally. Of course, with our national day looming this weekend, it would have been nicer if we didn't have to go through a race-based consultation process at all...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

When The Cloud Blows Away

Last week's FBI bust of MegaUpload, in an airborne dawn raid on a rented Coatesville mansion (which saw the prime conspirator lock himself in a safe room with a weapon), was all quite exciting.
But now the smoke's cleared, customers have realised they'll probably never again see the personal files they uploaded to his system. Globally, millions of people uploaded files to MegaUpload - personal photos, home videos, software well as pirated material (which was the target of the investigation).
With it's accounts frozen, companies that house files for MegaUpload can't be paid. So those storage companies could begin deleting data this week, although they've agreed to hold off for at least two more weeks. But for Joe Public to ever get his material back, MegaUpload would have to be temporarily kick-started again, because it's simply too hard for hosting companies to ascertain which users should be entitled to access what files. I can't imagine the FBI would be thrilled about that idea (although the stored data may yet be required as evidence in Dotcom's court case)...
As more and more people upload files to online storage "clouds" to save space on their computers, it's unlikely many of them make physical back-ups any more: they would perceive the "cloud" as their back-up.
And therein lies the problem. When something as convenient, unlimited (and generally free) as
"cloud" storage comes along, naturally it gains a strong following and it's all too easy to rely upon it as your sole safety net. But the MegaUpload case has highlighted that safety nets (and thus your personal data) can be compromised by data pirates.
RapidShare, another online storage site, estimates about 5% of files stored on its computers may be pirated. While that figure may not sound much, if the FBI decided to shut down RapidShare, then the other 95% of "safe" personal data could be lost!
Caveat emptor.
It remains the responsibility of all computer users to maintain several back-ups. By all means, use a "cloud", but do not neglect a local safety net of discs, USB sticks or an external hard-drive. A little time-consuming and "old school" perhaps, but it could end up being your cloud's silver lining...