A work in progress

March 8, 2009

Daphna Whitmore The Spark March 2009  

Auckland airport’s Centra hotel looks stunning. The newly renovated rooms are spotlessly clean; the beds have fresh crisp linen, folded with envelope precision. Many hands created this perfection.centra-housekeepers

Every day a dozen or more women start cleaning the rooms at 8am. Before they begin they have got children out of bed and off to school, dropped husbands at their workplaces and then headed to their own job as a room attendant. They set to work cleaning anywhere between 15 and 20 hotels rooms, stripping beds, scrubbing floors, wiping every surface clean and putting everything in its place. When the guest walks into the room it is as if no one had ever stayed there before. No tell-tale strand of hair or nail clipping must be left behind. Nothing less than perfection will do. Read the rest of this entry »


New Zealand’s Imperialist attitude toward Fiji

March 7, 2009

Byron Clark The Spark March 2009

In what John Key has described as sending “a strong message” Pacific Forum leaders voted earlier this year to suspend Fiji from the Forum unless the interim government sets an election date before May 1. The suspension means that Fiji cannot attend meetings between forum leaders, ministers or officials; it will also be excluded from benefiting from any regional initiatives run under the forum. Both Mr Key and forum chairman Toke Talagi said the decision was made by consensus, a surprising result given smaller Pacific nations were expected to vote against suspension, with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare stating in his speech (released to the media before the meeting) “I am of the strong view that adopting an isolationist approach would be unhelpful.”

Fiji has already lost the benefits of one “regional initative” - participation in the seasonal work scheme allowing Pacific Islanders to work in New Zealand. Fiji was suspended from the scheme by the previous Labour government. So far this sanction has done little - if anything - to destabilise the military regime, instead it has effected ordinary Fijians. The Fiji based Coalition for Democracy and Peace, consisting of citizens’ groups and non-governmental organisations, had said that the poor are the ones most affected by sanctions imposed by New Zealand. Even when New Zealand sent aid to Fiji (via the Red Cross) in the wake of horrific floods, local Fijians said a better way for the New Zealand Government to help them would be to let them work in New Zealand, rather than give aid money. A petition was circulated asking Prime Minister John Key to issue special directions for one-year work visas for flood victims, and for an equivalent to the Pacific Access Category for Fijian citizens already in New Zealand. Read the rest of this entry »


Nestle - there’s blood in your coffee

March 6, 2009

Around 20 people protested inside Nestle New Zealand’s head
office in down town Auckland, Friday 6 March, against the murder of unionists in the Phillipines and to show solidarity with the 600 Nestle workers in the Philippines who have been on strike for seven years.

Read the rest of this entry »


“Guilt by accusation” law stalled

March 6, 2009

Byron Clark The Spark March 2009

The government has stalled a controversial change to copyright law that would have seen Internet Service Providers removing Internet access from anyone accused (not convicted) of violating intellectual property laws though downloading pirated music or video. The controversial clause was removed by a parliamentary select committee last year, but was put back into the legislation by then-Labour Government minister Judith Tizard - with National’s support. Prime Minister John Key has conceded however that this change to the Copyright Act could be “problematic”, and suggested it could be thrown out. In the week leading up to the original implementation date a web based campaign organised by the Creative Freedom Foundation saw people ‘black out’ content on their websites in protest against the law, culminating on February 23rd when most of the country’s major blogs (and a number of other websites) took down front page content for the day and replaced it with a black page.

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DVD Review: The Counterfeiters

March 6, 2009

The Counterfeiters is a fictionalised account of an astonishing true story: Nazi Germany’s Operation Bernhard, the largest counterfeiting undertaking in history. The operation forced Jewish concentration camp prisoners to produce forged banknotes, passports and even postage stamps for the benefit of the Third Reich.counterfeiters

The movie is based on the memoirs of one of the participants, Adolf Burger. A communist printer, Burger urges his fellow inmates to sabotage the project of forging the American Dollar, in order to undermine the Nazi war effort.

The central character is a professional forger, Saloman Solowich. In the early scenes of the film we see, Solowich, “the most charming scoundrel in Berlin”, quaffing Champagne in the bohemian decadence of Weimar Germany. When he ends up in a concentration camp, his strategy is simple: adapt and survive. Read the rest of this entry »


For a real summit

March 5, 2009

Don Franks

The worth of the recent Jobs Summit can be summed up in one word - Sealord.

The first major employment incident after the government sponsored summit was an announcement of imminent job losses from the aptly feudally titled company.

Sealord, owned jointly by Nippon Suisan Kaisha of Japan and Maori tribes via Aotearoa Fisheries, intends to cut 180 land-based jobs in Nelson and is not ruling out the closure of its plant there.

The Service & Food Workers Union (SFWU) said the company wanted to cut the pay of remaining workers by $70 a week.

Prime Minister John Key said:

“I think in the case of Sealords they’re actually restructuring their business.

“One thing we have to be realistic about is the recession will ultimately drive some of those changes, it’s not to say we’re not hugely sympathetic to those who have lost their job, we understand that there will be change,” Mr Key told TV3′s Sunrise.

In other words, when it comes to day to day business decisions, the summit means zilch. Read the rest of this entry »


Film review: MILK

March 1, 2009

milk

Gus Vant Sant’s new film “Milk”, is a biopic of the 1970s gay rights activist Harvey Milk, played by Sean Penn. Penn gives one of his best performances to date as the charismatic and outspoken gay leader, portraying him from his very few last days as a Republican-voting, Wall Street bureaucrat in the late 60s early 70s to his awakening as a fighter against gay oppression and subsequent assassination in 1978.

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