Barack Obama vs Conan O’Brien


Every year the White House Correspondents hold a gala dinner in Washington, always light-hearted the night is a celebration and a light-hearted roast.

This years guest speaker was almost outshone by the President himself. Truthfully I actually admire Barack’s sense of humour and thought he did very well.

The full video can be watched here, I would recommend watching the whole 50mins, well worth it

Some highlights for me

And of course, the White House press corps is here. I know CNN has taken some knocks lately, but the fact is I admire their commitment to cover all sides of a story, just in case one of them happens to be accurate. (Laughter and applause.)

 

The fact is I really do respect the press. I recognize that the press and I have different jobs to do. My job is to be President; your job is to keep me humble. Frankly, I think I’m doing my job better. (Laughter and applause.)

 

Obama’s speech can be found here

National Party Conference protests


This article in stuff, which I am inbedding below in it’s entirety is so poorly written it was clearly a news day, or perhaps the writer had to justify driving out to Hamner for a non event.

The article starts off being hyped up about protestors ‘descending’ on Hamner. Well descending evokes images of hundreds or thousands of protestors. Looks like the numbers are very low and there methods of protests are pretty floored. Asset sales and public/private roading are two very different things, but don’t let that get in the way of anything.

Protesters plan to descend on the National Party Conference in Hanmer Springs today.

People protesting the sale of state-owned assets will march from the township’s centre to the Hanmer Hotel and Conference Centre just before 11am – when Prime Minister John Key will address his supporters.

Protesters have erected a toll booth sporting a “privatised bridge” sign on the Ferry Bridge outside of Hanmer Springs.

Steve Howard said while money would not be collected from passing cars, the stunt was a “good way to prove a point”.

“There’s a lot of talk about public-private partnerships in roading so this is the sort of thing we could expect to see,” he said.

 

Clive Palmer for Prime Minister


Clearly Clive has decided the race between Julia and Tony is a bit snore snore and it is time for him to enter the race!

Mr Palmer has revived the once extinct United Australia Party to enter the campaign at both the upper and lower house. The irony being that the United Australia Party (in 1931) was created by Labor dissidents, this time Clive is coming as an unhappy former Liberal member.

 

Clive Palmer’s political party is yet to be registered, but don’t worry, it does have policies.

Mr Palmer, the leader of the newly established United Australia Party, said his party would fall into the conservative side of politics and would have very similar policies to the Coalition – except for five key differences.

First of all, lobbyists would be out. Completely.

“Another one is on the carbon tax, right,” Mr Palmer said.

(Adding “right” to the end of a sentence in explanation mode is a familiar tic of Mr Palmer’s. He has used it when explaining what was wrong with the LNP, what was wrong with the Football Federation of Australia and what was wrong with people who didn’t understand his Titanic vision. It’s not a question. Mr Palmer appears to assume he is right, and not care if you don’t agree with him.)

“We think it should be abolished from the day it is introduced, not after its first year, right,” he continued. “And in doing that we think we can refund back to all the people who have been paying higher electricity prices that money.”

Refugees is another political point of difference: “We don’t think it is good sense to spend $5 billion or more every year on the naval blockade of Australia, right. We believe in a similar policy that they have in the United States and other countries, where people can board a plane, whether or not they have a visa, and then they’re shuttled to the airports where there are people in facilities waiting to meet them. They are then interviewed, they are given a hearing and if they are found to not be legitimate refugees, they are put on the next plane back. You won’t need detention centres, that’s what every other country does in the western world. This is what the press calls a ‘beat up’. It’s not really an issue at all and we don’t believe in separating families and mothers and children and putting them in jail, when they have done nothing.”

Number four concentrates on the resource and value-rich regions, (those which profit from industries such as tourism and mining) receiving at least one-quarter of the wealth they generate for their communities.

“And the last one [difference] is we believe we should take the mineral wealth from Western Australia and Queensland and develop processing industries in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, so that we can create more jobs.”

Other policies are a work in progress for the fledging political party.

The Gonski funding reforms are something Mr Palmer supports in principle, but with some adjustments.

“We’re against cutting funding to universities, right,” he said. “What goes with that is our universities are an export industry, right, and the Gillard government has stopped that with the 457 [temporary skilled work] and other visas, and universities have lost a lot of revenue and Australia has lost that export revenue. So that needs to be reinstated, right.”

But expanding the economy, like his party would like to do by building up the minerals and processing industries in Australia, would increase the government’s revenue streams, meaning incorporating the Gonski reforms wouldn’t be such an issue. It’s that simple, Mr Palmer said.

When it comes to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, his party’s policy is the same as the Coalition’s – which is it supports the scheme, in principle.

Again, he spoke about increased revenue for the federal government: “If you solve the big picture, if you have more revenue coming through, then you have more money you can spend, that is what we are really trying to say, right.”

When it comes to marriage equality, Mr Palmer, a practising Catholic, said he believes in a “conscience vote for all those issues”.

“It’s not something that I would really determine until I have an issue before me. It can all be in different shades of grey, you know, it really depends on what the proposition is.”

So does Mr Palmer personally believe that same-sex couples should be able to marry, and if so, when would he work to change the marriage act?

“It is not something I have considered at the moment,” he said.

Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/palmers-party-to-right-the-wrongs-right-20130426-2ije5.html#ixzz2Rc0quf00

 

Clive has a massive job on his hands. It is not that long till the elections and if he wants to be a serious player he needs to find 150 odd serious contenders to take on every seat. These contenders need to be baggage free so not to let the party down. Picking 150 candidates in such a short time is going to be anything but easy.

Mr Palmer, if he manages to win any seats or gain many votes could divide the right and hand the election to the left. I would hate to see what would happen to Australia if Julia won another election, especially if she does not really win but only hold off the two right parties.

Interesting times….

Iron Man 3 Premiere


Tonight I was fortunate to attend the special premiere of Iron Man 3 at Limelight Cinemas thanks to the 104.7 radio station.

I am a huge fan of the marvel franchise and, Avengers withstanding, Iron Man is my favourite of the lot. Iron man 1 and 2 were great, but I must say I am always skeptical of sequels. Well, I am pleased to say I was pleasantly surprised, Iron Man 3 was excellent, in-fact I would almost say the best yet.

Don’t worry there is no way I am going to spoil one of the greatest movies of 2013 for anyone, if you want to know the pre-release story line it is here. Overall I thought all characters were portrayed very well by excellent actors, there were no wooden through-ins. My stand-outs though would easily be Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley  (the bad guys), their characters were real and portrayed without going over the top or being incredibly cheesy.

Cover of "Iron Man (Two-Disc Special Coll...

Cover via Amazon

 

I watched it in 3D and it was well worth it, no cheesy knife throwing tricks, just great cinematography. The action scenes were brilliant, the jokes hilarious and the toys just so damm cool!

So all, make sure you get along to what is sure to be one of the best movies of the year.

Paul Foster-Bell, NZs newest MP


My heartiest congratulations to Paul, a really nice guy I have had the fortune of meeting who is to become New Zealand’s newest Member of Parliament with the departure of Dr Jackie Blue.

Paul stood in the Wellington Central electorate, which was won by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. As the home of NZs public service Wellington Central is a very hard seat for the right to win.

The funniest moment was googling Paul this afternoon and I found his Wikipedia page which already mentions his imminent appointment!

Once again, well done Paul, you have started a journey many of us only dream of….

Education vs Education


So in New Zealand the Labour Party are stating they will close down Charter Schools should they ever get back into Government. They are effectively saying that even if Children are doing well, even if parents are happy, even if there are savings made, even if there is public support they will shut off funding to Charter Schools, their reasonings for this are so weak it is embarrassing

  • The introduction of charter schools is based on the failed notion that increased competition will improve student outcomes. There is clear evidence from New Zealand and overseas that this isn’t the case. Even the Treasury has argued that systems with “highly competitive elements” do not produce systematically better outcomes.

  • At a time when the government claims it is focused on quality teaching, charter schools won’t have to employ registered teachers, and the principal won’t even have to hold a teaching qualification.

  • Charter schools will lack public scrutiny. They won’t be covered by the Official Information Act, and although the Ombudsman can now investigate concerns about student stand-downs and exclusions, the overall accountability regime is still very weak.

  • New Zealand’s world-leading curriculum won’t have to be taught in charter schools. Charter schools could be used for indoctrination, rather than education. For example there is nothing to stop a charter school teaching “intelligent design” in the place of science.

  • The Labour Party does not believe that schools should be in the profit-making business. Money that is extracted from charter schools in the form of dividends for shareholders is money that isn’t being invested in education.

  • Charter schools will not have an enrolment zone. While the government claim that charter schools will be targeted to areas of high need, there is nothing to stop such a school accepting a majority of their enrolments from outside their neighbourhood. We remain concerned that charter schools will be able to use underhand methods to “cherry pick” students.

  • We recognise that a number of learners are currently struggling within the education system, and that Māori and Pacific learners are disproportionately represented in that group. That’s why we believe the government should be focused on ensuring that every school is a great school, regardless of where they live. Policies should be based on research and evidence, not ideology.

  • Much of the flexibility that the government claims it seeks through the charter schools model already exists, for example Special Character Schools can already be established with in the existing public school framework.

  • National has no mandate to introduce charter schools. Although it was working on the proposal before the last election, it did not reveal it to the public until afterwards. The fact that the process of establishing charter schools has already started even before the legislation has passed is a real slap in the face to those who took the time to make submissions to the select committee.

Of course the real reason is the Labour Party receives it’s funding from Union Fees that unions pay for you even if you do not want them too and the Unions are scared of schools making their own decisions. Surely though the most important thing at the end of the day is that children are doing well in school? Apparently not for the Labour Party.

Meanwhile in Australian education news the Gonski reforms are falling down. The COAG ministers met on Fridays and unanimously failed to sign up to Julia’s massive education reforms. This is the sound part of the Federation, while I still struggle to understand how states can have such differences and so many tiers of Government can financially be viable I am happy to see that the states are able to slow down erratic policy which at this stage has been so poorly worked through.

 

 

Sleep well Boston, you deserve some calm


Hopefully the good news of the remaining Chechen brother being caught means this awful ordel is coming to an end for Boston

Police captured a 19-year-old ethnic Chechen suspected of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombings with his older brother after an intense
day-long manhunt on Friday that closed down the city and turned a working-class suburb into a virtual armed camp.

The break in the case sent waves of relief and jubilation through Boston and the suburb of Watertown, where armoured ehicles roamed the streets and helicopters flew overhead hrough the day.

Residents and police officers cheered and clapped when the suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was caught after an exchange of gunfire with police.

A Massachusetts State Police spokesman said Tsarnaev was bleeding and in serious condition in a Boston hospital.

He had been hiding in the stern of a boat parked in the ackyard of a house in Watertown, police said. A resident called police after seeing blood on the boat.

If you read the full article here you will see that authorities are not 100% certain the were acting alone

I never will understand terrorism, and even more so I really can’t undertand how this helps the chechen’s cause against the Russian’s, if that was thier aim