‘What could possibly go wrong with the TPP?’.. 

New Zealand – New Zealand – New Zealand. Don’t you go worrying your pretty head about anything this Government is doing on your behalf. Remember to have an optimistic, aspirational look around you once in a while, and say ‘What a great country I live in’.

Don’t ever ever worry that we are about to be sold down the river in Hawaii – where 12 countries are in the middle of agreeing to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. You don’t need to know what’s in it. We ourselves barely know as we change our story by the day but all you need to remember is a) we are great economic managers, and b) America – which holds almost all of the bargaining power – wants us to succeed economically almost more than we do.

(cont..)

Source: What could possibly go wrong with the TPP? – Opinion – NZ Herald News

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‘Groser should pack up and leave TPP without good dairy deal – but he probably won’t’..

It shouldn’t take much for Tim Groser to exercise his theatrical talents and tip the chess board over and walk away from the Trans Pacific Partnership talks if New Zealand does not get a decent deal on dairy access.

The ministerial negotiations in Maui are timetabled to finish early this afternoon with a news conference to be screened on YouTube.

But realpolitik dictates that the trade minister and his boss Prime Minister John Key are more likely to opt for a sub-optimal deal rather than walk away empty-handed from the lengthy negotiations. That’s because both politicians have invested substantial personal political capital in chalking up a TPP outcome.

(cont..)

(ed:..the ‘how?’s and ‘why?’s of key/groser selling us out/down the river in tpp-negotiations/deal..traitors..!..both of them..)

Source: Groser should pack up and leave TPP without good dairy deal – but he probably won’t – Politics – NZ Herald News

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‘The secret diary of … Tim Groser in Hawaii’.. 

Monday It was good of John to lend me his Maui holiday home this week as I go in to bat for New Zealand in the TPP deal. I found the address but couldn’t find the key anywhere.

Tuesday

The guy from Federated Farmers said ‘You don’t look like you slept a wink – and the stains on your tie match the colour of baked beans’.

We met in a room at Westin Resort and Spa – where the TPP talks are due to begin tomorrow. I said ‘Don’t worry about me. Listen what do you know about the delegates from Japan Canada and the US?’

He said ‘I know that if those bastards don’t give our dairy products commercially meaningful access then forget it deal’s off. Right?’

I got my phone charged in the room. Just then it rang – and John’s number came up. We had a brief conversation.

After it finished I said to the Federated Farmers guy ‘Let’s redefine ‘commercially meaningful access’. We shouldn’t be too dogmatic about these things’.

He said ‘What are you suggesting?’

I said ‘Well, it’s not the end of the world if we settle for commercially meaningless access’.

(cont..)

Source: The secret diary of … Tim Groser in Hawaii – National – NZ Herald News

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‘Soft drink industry says parents – not its products – to blame for kids’ cavities’.. (+op-ed..)

The soft drink industry says the blame for toddlers’ rotting teeth rests squarely on parents’ shoulders.

The soft drinks industry has hit back at claims that its products are to blame for a rise in the number of toddlers needing to have rotten teeth pulled out.

Dentist and veteran anti-sugar lobbyist Rob Beaglehole said earlier this week that cavities in children’s teeth were on the rise and some as young as 18 months were having multiple rotten teeth pulled out after parents fed them soft drinks through sipper bottles – and chocolate biscuits as bedtime treats.

‘The issue of young children with rotten teeth is one of poor parenting. No more and no less’ Kerry Tyack executive director of the New Zealand Beverage Council said.

The council represents soft drink giants Coca-Cola and Frucor as well as boutique manufacturers such as Phoenix.

Tyack said parents should be ‘in complete control’ of what young children ate and drank and said it was ‘a complete evasion of parental responsibility to shift the blame for the state of these children’s teeth onto the manufacturers of products which should after all be consumed as treats or in moderation’.

‘It’s not the products. It’s the decision to use them inappropriately’.

(cont..)

(ed:..good luck there with that argument/finger-pointing – from the pushers of this unhealthy crap – eh..?..

..whereas in reality both are to blame..it’s like saying ‘we only make/sell the heroin – it’s the stupid addicts’ fault for taking it’..

..as i said..good luck with that angle/spin..eh..?..)

Source: Soft drink industry says parents – not its products – to blame for kids’ cavities | Stuff.co.nz

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‘Every club should be like Labour – you can’t join as a new member unless you’re already a member’.. 


It’s outsiders that have caused it. The only explanation for the madness that’s taken over the Labour Party – according to MPs such as John Mann is people from outside are joining Labour – so the leadership election should be cancelled.

Presumably John Mann would change the rules so no one was allowed to join the Labour Party unless they were already a member. That should stop these scheming non-members from trying to infiltrate the party through the trick of becoming members.

Then Mann should be put in charge of other organisations to keep out troublemakers. If you apply to join a snooker club he could be there to ask ‘are you already a member of this snooker club?’ If you said you weren’t – which is why you’d like to join – he’d say ‘Get out. I know your game pal – you want to turn us into a canoeing club’. That way it would stay pure and wholesome.

A section of the Labour Party – along with much of the press – has worked out the only way Jeremy Corbyn can have attracted the support he has is by groups such as Militant infiltrating the party – as they did in the 1980s. This shows how conniving Militant can be – because the most common age of people joining Labour at the moment is 18. So the last time they tried to take over the Labour Party they must have been minus 12.

This shows the lengths Militant are prepared to go to – radicalising people decades before they’re born – just so they can carry out their malicious plan to commit Labour to a policy of nationalising the gas companies.

(cont..)

Source: Every club should be like Labour – you can’t join as a new member unless you’re already a member – Comment – Voices – The Independent

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‘The Beatles film Help – released 50 years ago – signalled the birth of the ‘metrosexual’ man’.. 

It’s 50 years since the release of The Beatles’ second feature film Help! Whatever you may think of the film itself (which got very mixed reviews) this rollicking film of ‘good, clean insanity’ provides a wonderfully unique window on to the social changes that men saw in the 1960s.

As Alex Bilmes recently wrote in Esquire The Beatles ‘made it not just OK but insanely desirable to be a stylish successful smartarse British man’. The representation of masculinity embodied in Help! is a key stepping stone to more obvious displays of gender fluidity that were to emerge in later decades.

The late music journalist Ian MacDonald said that The Beatles were critical to popular culture in the 1960s because of their global fame and the media interest in their activities. He argued that they were therefore a prism through which social changes were magnified and reflected.

Their first feature film A Hard Day’s Night (1964) had provided a global audience with the chance to see a mockumentary about a day in the life of The Beatles at the height of Beatlemania. Despite their exuberance – feminised appearance and a number of queer moments (such as Lennon batting his eyelids and saying ‘give us a kiss’ to a bowler-hatted gent in a railway carriage) the film had much in common with the new-wave kitchen-sink dramas of the early 1960s.

(cont..)

Source: The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the ‘metrosexual’ man – Features – Films – The Independent

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‘Jeremy Corbyn steams ahead in Labour leadership race as another trade union pledges support’.. 

Jeremy Corbyn took another step towards winning the Labour leadership on 30 July by gaining the support of a trade union which hailed him as the man to purge the party of Blairites.

Senior Labour figures admitted the veteran left-wing backbencher – who entered the race as a rank outsider – now has  a real chance of pulling off a shock victory over the mainstream candidates Andy Burnham – Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.

Labour MPs believe Mr Corbyn is likely to top the poll in the first round of voting –which would be a remarkable achievement. Under Labour’s preferential voting system the bottom candidate drops out until one runner gets more than 50 per cent of the votes. Opponents believe the best hope of stopping Mr Corbyn  lies with either Ms Cooper or Mr Burnham in a final run-off after the  second preference votes of people who backed eliminated candidates are reallocated.

Mr Corbyn won the backing of two more unions – the Communication Workers and TSSA – the white-collar rail union. He had already secured the support of the two biggest unions – Unite and Unison.

(cont..)

Source: Jeremy Corbyn steams ahead in Labour leadership race as another trade union pledges support – UK Politics – UK – The Independent

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‘What drives the angry man-child to harass women online? The answer is pretty simple’..

In short these guys are bullies — they want to feel bigger and better than someone else. Here’s how it works.

If you’re a woman who plays or even just talks about video games online odds are you’re encountered the misogynist flying monkeys of the Internet: Troops of bizarrely embittered young men – often using the name ‘Gamergate’ who aim inchoate rage at all sorts of women they encounter but particularly feminists and women they suspect might be–gasp–sexually active.

Ordinary women find that being known as female while playing online video games means having shocking number of sexually harassing comments thrown your way.

Under the circumstances it’s not surprising that a study that showed that men who are bad at video games are more likely to harass women online went viral. Psychology researchers from the University of New South Wales and Miami University did a study where they compared men’s performance playing Halo 3 online to the amount of misogynist harassment they were dishing out.
The result? A direct and strong correlation between how badly men were doing in the game and how nasty they were to women. Men – no matter how good they were were cordial to each other. But the men who were good at the game were generally nice to women and men who sucked were the ones dishing out sexualized abuse to the women they encountered.
(cont..)

Source: What drives the angry man-child to harass women online? The answer is pretty simple – Salon.com

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‘This guy changed the world: We won’t see the likes of Jon Stewart again’.. 

We take Jon Stewart for granted now and expect way too much from him. Stop and thank him for restoring our sanity.

It’s strange thinking that people my brother’s age who have just graduated from college remember Jon Stewart and ‘The Daily Show’ always being a political institution. It’s hard to explain to them just how big a deal Stewart’s sudden rise was back during the Bush years – what a shock it was to see Craig Kilborn’s tacky random-riffs-on-the-headlines show turn into the most credible source of news for the millennial generation – why Stewart’s impending retirement feels so momentous and sad.

I’m one of the college kids who in 2003 and 2004 grabbed onto what seemed like certain cultural anchors of sanity in what felt like a world gone mad. I remember the sense of despair as the Bush administration systematically took apart the social safety net – as Serious Pundit after Serious Pundit queued up to take their turn explaining why we absolutely had to cave into the neocons’ desire for a pointless war in Iraq – as every day revealed a new headline emphasizing that America was firmly in the hands of the religious right and the establishment left was enthusiastically welcoming our wingnut overlords.

Good satire then was like water in the desert. We were thirsty for any reminder that we hadn’t gone crazy – the world had – that the policies of our leaders were in fact as monstrous and deranged as they seemed to be. That things were not OK.

(cont..)

Source: This guy changed the world: We won’t see the likes of Jon Stewart again – Salon.com

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‘It’s worse than Walter Palmer and Cecil the Lion: Inside the sick bizarre world of trophy hunting’.. (+ op-ed..)

When clients pay thousands to kill exotic species guides face pressure to deliver the goods–even breaking the law.

Focusing this rage on Palmer overshadows the bizarre practices and unscrupulous conduct that are a big part of business as usual throughout the trophy hunting industry. When wealthy clients pay thousands to kill exotic species professional hunting guides face enormous pressure to deliver the goods even if that means breaking the law. Trophy hunters maintain that they hunt for the benefit of nature –  but when the interests of profit and animals collide – abuse is inevitable.

The practice of trophy hunting originated as a way for humans to demonstrate power over large dangerous animals but now that modern high-powered weapons can subdue even the largest animals – the trophy hunter’s focus has shifted from animals that are dangerous to those that are rare.
Several game preserves in Africa specialize in breeding mutant versions of popular big game animals such as white lions or the so-called golden wildebeest. Killing a golden wildebeest costs $50,000 – 100 times as much as a wildebeest of a typical color.

Like the ‘great white hunters’ on safaris of the past – today’s trophy hunters are corporate types who may spend tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands to kill a single animal. And the bigger and rarer and more beautiful the animal – the more a trophy hunter wants to kill it:

An African lion hunt starts at around $39,000. For $60,000 power brokers can bag a bull elephant.

(cont..)

(ed:..and yes..we also do this in new zealand – we have places where these pieces of crap fly in and shoot ‘trophy-animals’…(some of them captured/contained for them..)

..to my mind..anyone who kills/hurts animals for ‘fun’..from duck-shooters to lion shooters..and via rodeos/fishers and the like..?

..they are all sick fucks..who can only get their jollies from torturing/killing animals..total fucken barbarians..)

Source: It’s worse than Walter Palmer and Cecil the Lion: Inside the sick, bizarre world of trophy hunting – Salon.com

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‘Donald Trump is ruining everything for the GOP: The five stages of Republican grief explained’..

Republicans hoping to take back the White House have found a badly coiffed billionaire standing in their way.

It’s been more than a month since Donald Trump announced his candidacy for presidency. And rather than quickly self-combust as many expected the Donald has actually enjoyed a cresting wave of support – taking him straight to the top of the GOP field. Not even a string of high-profile flaps seem to have any impact on the man’s surging popularity.

While once thought of as a flash in the pan Trump’s candidacy has proven to be a far bigger problem for the Republican Party than establishment figures ever expected. In coping with such a colossal headache the Party seems to be following the Kübler-Ross model of grief – the model frequently used to describe how people come to grips with the death of a loved one.

Let’s observe:

Step 1: Denial

Most institutional Republicans still appear to still be in the denial stage: ‘He doesn’t really want to be President, he just wants to run and get lots of attention doing so’. ‘Primary polling that show him leading the GOP field by a good margin is just a mirage.’ ‘His candidacy will fade like those of other novelty GOP candidates in the past even if he started with far more name recognition and money than any of those predecessors’. ‘He’s not really worth $9 billion and maybe not even $3 billion’. ‘As soon as yet another imagined dream candidate gets in the race he’ll start eating into Trump’s lead’. ‘He — or an staffer – said something so offensive it will make him toxic.” Curiously this latter form of denial always seems to focus on what Trump said, not what he did.

(cont..)

Source: Donald Trump is ruining everything for the GOP: The five stages of Republican grief explained – Salon.com

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‘This one terrifying chart shows what happens to your body on Coca-Cola’.. 

At 45 minutes your body is responding to Coke in the same way it would to heroin.

‘I actually discovered that a trigger factor for many widespread diseases of the west such as obesity – heart disease and diabetes could be closely linked to the consumption of one particular substance found in many processed foods and drinks – fructose in the form of high fructose corn syrup’ Naik writes.

 The aftermath of consuming the syrup isn’t pretty. At just 20 minutes Naik finds that blood sugar is already spiking and causing an insulin burst. At the 45-minute mark pleasure centers in the brain begin responding much in the same way it might to heroin.

Enjoy!

1. 10 minutes:

10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. (100% of your recommended daily intake.) You don’t immediately vomit from the overwhelming sweetness because phosphoric acid cuts the flavor allowing you to keep it down.

(cont..)

Source: This one terrifying chart shows what happens to your body on Coca-Cola – Salon.com

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‘GOP’s epic trainwreck: Jeb Bush flails and Donald Trump ascends – as the party goes further off the rails’.. 

As Jeb! drops into third place – Trump gains strength from the disdain of the media and Republican elites.

The news keeps getting worse for the Republican Party. Despite its ‘deep bench’ for 2016 Donald Trump continues to dominate in early polling. Yes that word ‘early’ is important, but this is getting to be humiliating for the GOP – and especially for Jeb Bush.

Not only has Trump led Bush in several national polls he’s now leading in his home state of Florida – an electoral vote treasure trove that was crucial to Bush’s ‘story’ – that he was the guy who could compete with Hillary Clinton nationally. Trump is also ahead of Bush in recent New Hampshire polls and catching up to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in Iowa.

Maybe most alarmingly for the guy whose passionless and entitled candidacy rested solely on his perceived electability Jeb! dropped into third place in the latest Quinnipiac poll released Thursday morning behind Walker.

Republicans like to console themselves by pointing to 2012 when most of the mediocre GOP candidates took a turn running first in the polls. But Donald Trump isn’t Herman Cain.

I’ll admit Trump’s rise and his persistent lead in the polls surprises me a little. But it shouldn’t. All the things people think ought to damage him – his attacks on illegal Mexican immigrants and John McCain – his attorney’s claim that marital rape isn’t rape – ugly comments about a breastfeeding attorney – aren’t going to matter to the GOP base. They don’t like immigrants – McCain – feminist talk about ‘marital rape’ or uppity breastfeeding career women.

(cont..)

Source: GOP’s epic trainwreck: Jeb Bush flails and Donald Trump ascends as the party goes further off the rails – Salon.com

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‘How many people should watch you give birth? The crowdbirthing conundrum’.. 

Women in their teens and 20s have an average of eight people in the room during the course of giving birth a survey suggests – it might work for some – but there are a few key questions to consider.

This week it was reported that a survey of 2,000 women – admittedly a survey by a video blogging site, Channel Mum rather than a more official source – showed that women in their teens and twenties now have an average of eight people in the room during the course of giving birth. The phenomenon is being referred to as “crowdbirthing” and is a big change from the days when my mother gave birth to me without a single soul she knew in the room.

Back then that wasn’t untypical. Women who are now in their sixties often gave birth with just a midwife in attendance.

So is crowdbirthing a good idea? Will you benefit from having an audience? It’s worth bearing in mind that oxytocin also needs to be produced in high amounts for sex and orgasm. So perhaps it’s worth asking these key questions. Would you really have your best sexual experience with your mum in the room? With the door open? With someone else popping in to take your pulse? The lights on? Mother-in-law chatting in the corner?

For most people, I would guess the answer is no. So why are we now inviting in more and more physical and virtual cast members to our births?

(cont..)

Source: How many people should watch you give birth? The crowdbirthing conundrum | Nicola Goodall | Comment is free | The Guardian

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‘Picture books that draw the line against pink stereotypes of girls’.. 

Don’t despair at the tide of cultural glitter swamping young girls today. There are still writers producing funky female characters who don’t get their knickers in a twist at the prospect of a difficult challenge.

A blight of restrictive suffixes – marking books out as ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’ has crept over the kids’ publishing landscape during the past couple of decades – and, while more enlightened publishers have now sworn off explicit gender division – girls of picture-book age are still overwhelmed with princess-pink sparkly-pony messaging. Be pretty – passive and vapid and your reward will be to remain so while the prince you married gets on with the juicy business of living.

But where are today’s equals of Princess Smartypants – intriguing, funny, unformulaic, and unbranded?

Princess Daisy dragon nincompoop knights

Princess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights, by Steven Lenton. Photograph: Nosy Crow

Good news – there are many subversive antidotes out there, although they require some tracking down amid the glittery tide.

(cont..)

Source: Picture books that draw the line against pink stereotypes of girls | Books | The Guardian

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‘No sex – drugs or rock’n’roll – a North Korean gap year’.. 

Alessandro Ford was the first western student to be enrolled at Kim Il-sung University. He tells us about his isolated trip – with only Eminem for company.

Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll

As for the typical western gap year rites of passage: sex –  and rock-and-roll Ford’s examples confirm that young North Koreans do things differently.

When they listened to music together the lyrics of American rapper Eminem were questioned: ‘Why does he rap about himself – sex and drugs? He should be making music about his family and his country’ fellow students told him.

‘From what I was told and from what I saw North Koreans are more puritan. It’s a ‘no sex before marriage’ culture and sneaking around is not really done.

‘The students I hung out with – aged between 20 and 25 – were virgins’ Ford said – who never saw any kissing take place – even amongst those who had girlfriends and boyfriends. ‘They’d tell me they showed affection in other ways’ he explained.

There were times Ford felt lonely – but never alone. He couldn’t engage with North Korean culture and sport and although he had a international phone it cost him £2 per minute to call home.

north korean gap year

Ford takes from time out from studying to go rollerskating in Pyongyang.

He expected a level of monitoring ‘but at times it did get quite suffocating. Koreans don’t have a sense of individualism nor did they understand the [need for] solitude of western culture’ he said.

(cont..)

Source: No sex, drugs or rock’n’roll – a North Korean gap year | World news | The Guardian

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‘Revealed: Private firms at heart of US drone warfare’.. 

Corporate staff are reviewing top-secret data and helping uniformed colleagues decide whether people under surveillance are enemies or civilians.

The overstretched US military has hired hundreds of private-sector contractors to the heart of its drone operations to analyse top-secret video feeds and help track suspected terrorist leaders an investigation has found.

Contracts unearthed by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reveal a secretive industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars – placing a corporate workforce alongside uniformed personnel analysing intelligence from areas of interest.

While it has long been known that US defence firms supply billions of dollars’ worth of equipment for drone operations the role of the private sector in supplying analysts for combing through intelligence material has remained almost entirely unknown until now.

Approximately one in 10 people involved in the effort to process data captured by drones and spy planes are non-military. And as the rise of Islamic State prompts what one commander termed ‘insatiable’ demand for aerial surveillance the Pentagon is considering further expanding its use of contractors – an air force official said.

(cont..)

Source: Revealed: Private firms at heart of US drone warfare | US news | The Guardian

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‘Athletes at Rio Olympics to compete in ‘basically raw sewage’ – study reveals’.. 

Study reveals Olympic athletes are almost certain to come into contact with water that’s equivalent to ‘raw sewage’ at 2016 Games.

Athletes in next year’s Summer Olympics will be swimming and boating in waters so contaminated with human feces that they risk becoming violently ill and unable to compete in the games – an Associated Press investigation has found.

An AP analysis of water quality revealed dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria from human sewage in Olympic and Paralympic venues – results that alarmed international experts and dismayed competitors training in Rio – some of whom have already fallen ill with fevers, vomiting and diarrhea.

Brazilian officials have insisted that the water will be safe for the Olympic athletes and the medical director of the International Olympic Committee said all was on track for providing safe competing venues. But neither the government nor the IOC tests for viruses – relying on bacteria testing only.

Extreme water pollution is common in Brazil where the majority of sewage is not treated. Raw waste runs through open-air ditches to streams and rivers that feed the Olympic water sites.

As a result Olympic athletes are almost certain to come into contact with disease-causing viruses that in some tests measured up to 1.7m times the level of what would be considered hazardous on a Southern California beach.

Despite decades of official pledges to clean up the mess the stench of raw sewage still greets travelers touching down at Rio’s international airport. Prime beaches are deserted because the surf is thick with putrid sludge and periodic die-offs leave the Olympic lake Rodrigo de Freitas littered with rotting fish.

(cont..)

Source: Athletes at Rio Olympics to compete in ‘basically raw sewage’, study reveals | Sport | The Guardian

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‘All options should be on the table at Fonterra’.. 

Is Fonterra on the right track? Or is it time for Plan B? Dump the current structure which pits the farmer shareholders with their prime focus on the growth of the milk price and their payouts against the interests of outside shareholders who want good returns for the investment of their capital in the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund and revamp the company.

Plan B would result in the company being split into a basic commodity player focused on growing the milk price. As well as a listed offshoot that can suck in enough capital to develop major food brands.

Such a step would require Government legislative assistance given that Fonterra’s own farmer shareholders rejected a variant of this model when the company embarked on its first capital restructuring exercise. But in an environment where the financial results are being chased down off the back of the punishing low global dairy prices which have resulted in many farmers being ‘under water’ all options should be canvassed.

The inherent contradictions in the company’s current structure will again test the Fonterra board when it meets on Friday August 7 in what has been dubbed a Black Friday for the company.

The board is expected to break at 3pm – or earlier if the company’s PR hands have their way. At that stage chairman John Wilson and chief executive Theo Spierings will announce by how much the current milk payout forecast has been cut; they will give updated earnings guidance and some flavour on the size of the expected dividend (if they do indeed make a payment at all rather than simply shoring up the balance sheet).

(cont..)

Source: All options should be on the table at Fonterra – Opinion – NZ Herald News

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‘Dairy’s decline here to last?’.. 

Fonterra’s plan to cut staff will help lift its fortunes but the giant co-op faces more profound challenges than headcount as it enters what analysts say is a time of structural change in the world’s dairy markets.

Milk prices have tanked and look likely to fall further before any improvement and Fonterra’s earnings are under pressure.

‘They are in quite a big bind and I don’t think the milk market is going to let them out easily’ says one dairy analyst.

Unlike its overseas competitors Fonterra is outwardly focused, exporting about 95 per cent of its production.

Other dairy-producing countries have tended to focus on feeding their own populations – viewing exports as an add-on.

That’s quickly changing as other producers get more serious about the export trade – given the so-called ‘protein deficit’ facing the world and the likely increase in demand from emerging economies.

When dairy prices started to fall sharply last year analysts saw it as a cyclical downturn. Now they are not so sure – and suggest the playing field has changed.

(cont..)

Source: Dairy’s decline here to last? – Business – NZ Herald News

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‘Brown coy about pocketing pay increase on eve of rates hikes’.. 

Auckland Mayor Len Brown is refusing to say if he will follow two of his councillors and say no to a 2.3 per cent pay rise which will lift his salary to $265,500.

Councillors Calum Penrose Sir John Walker and Bill Cashmore yesterday called on their colleagues to reject the pay rise from the independent Remuneration Authority.

Mr Brown – councillors and Local Board members learned about the pay rise late yesterday – days out from Auckland households receiving the first instalments of an average 9.9 per cent rates rise.

The first rates bills will be in the mail over the next few days. A total or 9731 households will gets rates rises of more than $1000.

For more than 60,000 households the increases will be more than 20 per cent due to new revaluations – the final step in the move to a single rating system and a targeted rate to top up transport spending.

Last night Mr Penrose said he was ‘bloody angry’ at the pay rise for councillors. Since the Super City was formed in 2010 the salary of councillors has increased by 30 per cent, from $80,000 to $104,250.

Mr Brown’s salary has risen by 10.6 per cent in five years – from $240,000 to $265,500.

In a statement issued by the mayoral office Mr Brown said: ‘As far as I’m aware councillors aren’t able to actually reject the independent determination of the authority’.

This was disputed by Mr Penrose.

(cont..)

Source: Brown coy about pocketing pay increase on eve of rates hikes – National – NZ Herald News

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‘Theo Spierings: No time to change’.. (+ op-ed..)

(ed:..an interview from/with spierings – where he confirms that he hasn’t really got a bloody clue about the trainwreck he is driving..

..he even goes so far as to claim dairy prices will rise again ‘in the second half’..(w.t.f. is he smoking..?..)

..so if you were looking for words of reassurance from someone who sounds like he knows what he is talking about – this ain’t it..

..spierings seems to be running on a mix of denial – self-delusion and blind faith..

..even the headline of this piece is somewhat confusing/unclear – i am sure that spierings is going for a different meaning than i take from it..

..he no doubt sees resolution/stoicism – i see despair/t.i.n.a..)

(cont..)

Source: Theo Spierings: No time to change – Business – NZ Herald News

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‘The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath’.. 

 Psychopath and sociopath are popular psychology terms to describe violent monsters born of our worst nightmares. Think Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs (1991), Norman Bates in Psycho (1960) and Annie Wilkes in Misery (1990). In making these characters famous popular culture has also burned the words used to describe them into our collective consciousness.

Most of us fortunately will never meet a Hannibal Lecter but psychopaths and sociopaths certainly do exist. And they hide among us. Sometimes as the most successful people in society because they’re often ruthless callous and superficially charming while having little or no regard for the feelings or needs of others.

These are known as ‘successful’ psychopaths as they have a tendency to perform premeditated crimes with calculated risk. Or they may manipulate someone else into breaking the law while keeping themselves safely at a distance. They’re master manipulators of other peoples’ feelings but are unable to experience emotions themselves.

Sound like someone you know? Well heads up. You do know one; at least one. Prevalence rates come in somewhere between 0.2% and 3.3% of the population.

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Source: The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath – Health & Families – Life and Style – The Independent

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‘Shift left predicted after privatisation shambles’.. (+ op-ed..)

 One of the most significant consequences of this re-definition of the political landscape has been the acceptance that what would once have been regarded as at the extreme outer edge of what is politically possible is now the new centre ground. Any divergence from this central position is by definition therefore literally eccentric; and any move away from ‘free-market’ orthodoxy is condemned as either a return to the past or an irrational lurch leftwards.

These definitions of centrality and divergence have had the further advantage for their proponents of confirming a long-held public perception. In the days when the political left was prepared to challenge existing power structures they were undoubtedly helped by their development of and adherence to an ideology of sorts that allowed them to ground their objections to orthodox policies in some loosely defined analytical framework.

It was perfectly understandable that as a consequence the left in politics was seen as the doctrinaire element in the political spectrum whereas the right was identified as pragmatic and concerned with what would work. Indeed it is the fear of being characterised as ideologically driven that inhibits today’s leaders of the left from straying too far from current orthodoxy.

Parties of the right have found it advantageous on the other hand to clothe their lurches rightwards in the language of experiment and exploration of what is possible – rather than of ideology. They have also proceeded stealthily – one small step at a time – with the intention of concealing from the public that each new step is in reality a further development of a highly ideological agenda.

That may however be about to change. As the tide of ‘free market” orthodoxy has reached its high-water mark and appears to be receding (at least in most parts of the western world other than the euro zone) it is more and more likely to leave exposed to public view those new policy initiatives that seem to have little to do with common sense and practicality and to reflect much more clearly what are doctrinaire preoccupations.

Consider the following recent instances.

(cont..)

(ed:..i agree with gould – and a ‘lurch left’ is what people now want..and bernie sanders in america and jeremy corbyn in britain are both riding waves of popular-support as they articulte that now growing desire for change concentrated on the people..not change just to further feather the nests of the elites..and further impoverish the rest..

this energy is also able to be tapped here..i wonder who will have the foresight/insight to see it..do it..and to ride that wave..?..the greens..?..peters..?..and/or (longshot i know!) labour..?..

..or will a new party arise..as has happened in greece/spain/italy ireland etc..? )

Source: Shift left predicted after privatisation shambles – Politics – NZ Herald News

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‘Smoke it while you can Colorado — President Chris Christie will be gunning for your legal weed’..

‘As of January 2017 I will enforce federal laws’ Republican hopeful told a town hall in New Hampshire.

New Jersey Governor and Republican presidential hopeful Chris Christie attempted to introduce some wind into the sails of a flagging campaign at one of his ‘Telling It Like It Is’ town hall discussions by reaffirming his commitment to an increasingly unpopular position — that marijuana – both medical and recreational – should be illegal.

‘If you’re getting high in Colorado today enjoy it’ he said because ‘as of January 2017 I will enforce the federal laws’. Christie criticized President Barack Obama and the Drug Enforcement Agency for ‘selectively’ choosing which drug laws to enforce.

The legal sale of marijuana legitimates a state of perpetual ‘lawlessness’ because there are federal statutes banning it. ‘If you want to change the marijuana laws go ahead and change the marijuana laws’ at the federal level he argued.

Christie’s argument here is more than a little disingenuous as he has long fought against the legalization of marijuana not out of some sort idealistic commitment to the principles of federalism but because he believes that it’s a ‘gateway drug’.

(cont..)

Source: Smoke it while you can, Colorado — President Chris Christie will be gunning for your legal weed – Salon.com

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‘Activists hang from bridge in Portland to block Shell’s Arctic vessel’.. 

Greenpeace climbers in Oregon city say they plan to spend days hanging from the bridge but Shell maintains the Fennica will be off after ‘final preparations’.

A group of environmental activists rappelled off a bridge in Portland, Oregon, shortly before 3am PT, in a bid to block a key vessel in Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet leaving the city’s port

The oil company’s 380ft Fennica icebreaker departure time has been delayed but it is not yet clear what role if any the protesters played in the delay. The vessel was originally scheduled to leave at 4.45am, according to the Columbia River Pilots website. The Columbia River Bar Pilots website later listed the launch time as 12pm.

No new departure time has been listed on either site.

(cont..)

Source: Activists hang from bridge in Portland to block Shell’s Arctic vessel | Environment | The Guardian

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‘Sorry – coal definitely isn’t ‘good for humanity’.. 

A new report shatters the fossil fuel industry’s persistent delusion.

If you hate coal, you must hate poor people, too.

It’s an argument only a shameless industry shill can make — and make it they have. Earlier this summer when Pope Francis was preparing to unveil his encyclical on the environment a coal lobbyist was at the ready with talking points for how climate action will harm the world’s poor – whose salvation from ‘the tragedy of global energy poverty’ lies in the further promotion of the dirtiest of fossil fuels.
Last year while ebola raged in West Africa the chief executive of coal giant Peabody Energy gave a presentation at an industry conference in which he suggested that energy from coal could have helped contain that crisis. And Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott a shameless promotor of fossil fuels defended the October opening of a mine. ‘Coal is vital for the future energy needs of the world’ he said insisting that there be no further ‘demonization’ of the energy source.

Nobody’s buying it. While it’s true that worldwide some 1.3 billion people — mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia — lack access to electricity it’s difficult to argue that coal – which causes dangerous air pollution and being more carbon intensive than oil or natural gas – contributes disproportionately to climate change — which itself disproportionately targets developing countries — is anyone’s idea of a good solution.

A new report from Oxfam Australia drives that point home. Taking specific aim at Abbott’s claim that ‘coal is good for humanity’ it provides a comprehensive summary of all the reasons why the opposite is in fact true. For starters it cites the ‘enormous toll’ that burning coal has on public health – citing a recent study linking particle pollution from that to some 670,000 premature deaths in China in 2012.

More so than air pollution however it delves into the catastrophic consequences of coal burning for global climate change – highlighting the impacts — from food shortages to extreme weather to economic losses — that poorer countries will likely face.

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Source: Sorry, coal definitely isn’t “good for humanity” – Salon.com

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‘Noam Chomsky: The United States is totally isolated’.. 

The iconic philosopher on America’s broken education system and the lasting influence of the Monroe Doctrine.

Definitions are basically parts of theoretical structures. A definition doesn’t mean anything unless it’s embedded in some theory of some explanatory scope. And in these areas there really are no such theories. So the terms are in fact used very loosely. They have a strong ideological component.

Take say democracy. The United States – I’m sure in your school they teach as the world’s leading democracy. It’s also a country in which about 70 percent of the population – the lower 70 percent on the income scale – are completely disenfranchised.

Their opinions have no detectable influence on the decisions of their own representatives. Which is a good reason to believe a large reason why a huge number of people don’t bother voting. They know that it’s a waste of time. So is that a democracy? No not really.

And you could say the same about almost any other term. Sometimes it’s almost laughable. So for example in 1947 the US government changed the name of the War Department. They changed it to the Defense Department — any person with a brain functioning knew that we’re not going to be involved in defense anymore. We’re going to be involved in aggression.

They didn’t have to read Orwell to know that. And in fact religiously every time you read about the war budget it’s called the defense budget. And defense now means war – very much as in Orwell. And pretty much across the board.

(cont..)

Source: Noam Chomsky: The United States is totally isolated – Salon.com

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‘How Groningen invented a cycling template for cities all over the world’..

Motorists woke up one mid-70s morning to find new one-way streets made direct crosstown journeys impossible by car. Forty years later Groningen boasts two-thirds of all trips made by bike … and the cleanest air of any big Dutch city.

Traffic lights with rain sensors to give quicker priority to cyclists on wet days … Heated cycle paths so cyclists won’t slip during bouts of frost … This might sound like science fiction to you but in the Dutch city of Groningen it will soon be everyday reality.

The inhabitants of this lively northern university city regard their homestead as the cycling capital of the Netherlands. They might very well be right: 61% of all trips in Groningen are made by bicycle, rising to more than 70% for trips made to educational institutions.

You might think the city authorities would be satisfied with these statistics. But apparently it’s not enough and new plans are in the pipeline to push cycling even more.Intelligent traffic lights and heated cycle paths are only part of the plan. New ‘park and bike’ areas with bike rental services will emerge on access roads to encourage commuters to leave their cars behind and enter the city by bike. Five thousand new parking places for bikes will be built near the main train station – next to the existing 10,000 that believe it or not have proved themselves insufficient.

And a ‘bicycle effect analysis’ will be obligatory for each territorial development project to ensure that provisions are made for bikes right from the start. These are just a few of the new bicycle-friendly measures.

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Source: How Groningen invented a cycling template for cities all over the world | Cities | The Guardian

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‘Andy Warhol’s intimate polaroids: from Divine to Bianca Jagger’.. 

A new book by Taschen offers a fascinating insight of Andy Warhol’s intimate relationship with his celebrity friends – and the look he wanted from them for the photographs.

Grace Jones on the cover of Andy Warhol, Polaroids 1958-1987

Grace Jones on the cover of Andy Warhol, Polaroids 1958-1987.

The artist’s polaroids – taken from the late 50s till his death in 1987 have been collected in a book out this week. They include celebrity friends such as Dennis Hopper-  Divine – Audrey Hepburn – Yves Saint Laurent and Nico and have one thing in common – they look fabulous.

Here are four elements that make up the Warhol look.

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Source: Andy Warhol’s intimate polaroids: from Divine to Bianca Jagger | Fashion | The Guardian

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‘Your sexual fantasies: the results are in’.. 

One man wants to service soldiers on leave – one woman was taught about multiple orgasms during The Antiques Roadshow … what happened when 10,000 people were asked to share their deepest desires?

Sometimes a single voice will ring out a welcome note of optimism and sanity. A married cancer patient told how positive her experience of sex has been during chemo – another woman memorably reported how her mother educated her as to the importance of multiple orgasms during an episode of The Antiques Roadshow. And another – asked what piece of advice she would like to give her younger self wrote: ‘There is no glass ceiling over your bed’. Personally I’d like discussion of that statement to be on the national curriculum.

The questionnaires are being archived in the Wellcome Library. By the time the installation ends I reckon we’ll have over 20,000. I hope some future sexologist or statistician will mine them in an attempt to construct a snapshot of London’s sex lives. I wonder if they’ll read the data as I do. People seem more aware and more respectful of trans lives than ever before and trans people themselves seem freer to speak.

The word ‘consent’ is on many lips – for many reasons – step forward Jimmy Savile and EL James. More people seem empowered than threatened by the erosion of heterosexual norms – while unabashed female pleasure is seen as a right and as a threat.

(cont..)

Source: Your sexual fantasies: the results are in | Art and design | The Guardian

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‘High incarceration rate is the real prison scandal’.. 

How naive can our political masters be. They let a private prison operator self-report on how well they’re doing then act surprised when it all turns to custard.

It reminds me of Auckland’s private bus operators who for years were allowed to self-report service levels and hardly believing their luck reported reliability rates nudging a fantastical 100 per cent.

Despite endless complaints from customers about late and non-appearing buses gullible Auckland Transport and its predecessor organisations went along with the farce.

But let’s not get sidetracked by the present furore over Mt Eden Prison into a debate over who should be running our prisons. The more basic scandal we should concentrate on is our ongoing predilection to crowd more and more young men – about 50 per cent Maori – behind bars in the first place.

We herd them into metal cages – treat them like trapped animals – then throw up our hands in horror when they behave to type. At about 200 per 100,000 population our incarceration rate is now on a level with countries we do not normally compare ourselves with – Gabon Namibia Moldova and Slovakia. Compare that with Sweden on 66 – Germany on 83 – France 102 – Australia 130 and England 154.

Thanks to the wave of what Victoria University criminology professor John Pratt dubs ‘penal populism’ infecting our politicians the incarceration rate continues to rise despite a fall in crime.

Somehow politicians from across the political spectrum can both praise the police – and themselves – for getting on top of crime – then pop on their Sensible Sentencing Trust supporter’s badge – declare a crime tsunami looms – and back tougher penalties.

(cont..)

Source: High incarceration rate is the real prison scandal – Opinion – NZ Herald News

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‘Ultra-processed food filling aisles’.. 

Ultra-processed foods – high in sugar fat and salt – make up the majority of packaged foods available in New Zealand supermarkets a study has found.

The research found almost 85 per cent of packaged foods on supermarket shelves are classified as being ‘ultra-processed’ – foods that have been altered by sweeteners salt and fat; turning them into products sometimes almost unrecognisable from the original items.

Foods such as frozen potato products – fried chips and hash browns – as well as cordial bases – flavoured drinks – meat alternatives and jam spreads are considered ultra-processed.The two other packaged food categories are minimally processed products such as fruit and vegetables and culinary processed items such as flour plain noodles plain dairy milk and edible oils.

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Source: Ultra-processed food filling aisles – Life & Style – NZ Herald News

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‘Kiwi author Anna Smaill on long list for Man Booker Prize’.. 

Kiwi Anna Smaill’s The Chimes has made the long list for the 2015 Man Booker Prize for fiction.

Smaill joins 12 others on the list, published on Wednesday (Thursday NZ Time), in contention for the £50,000 (NZ$117,000) prize.

Smaill will try to emulate Eleanor Catton whose The Luminaries won the Booker Prize in 2013 and Keri Hulme whose The Bone People won in 1985.

The book cover of Anna Smaill's The Chimes.

The book cover of Anna Smaill’s The Chimes.

The 13-strong list includes the first Jamaican author in contention as well as 2007 winner Anne Enright and writers from Nigeria India, Ireland the US and Britain.

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Source: Kiwi author Anna Smaill on long list for Man Booker Prize | Stuff.co.nz

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‘Using a candle to charge your smartphone’..

Light a candle – fill the device with water – and you have a charger.

A power outage – it’s an experience all are familiar with and everyone dreads. The lights go out – the TV goes black – the computers shut down as their batteries drain. And worst of all – your smartphone dies.

This scenario was one of the inspirations for Andrew Burns of California startup Stower to develop the candle charger. Its simplistic design is based on the principles of therm-oelectrics – which have been around since the early 1800’s.

Light a candle – fill the device with water and you have a charger.

‘So the way thermo-electric generators work is you have a hot plate and a cold plate and you smash these generators together and it’s that temperature difference it creates a diffusion of energy from the hot side to the cold side’ said Burns – co-founder of the company.

That diffusion outputs between 2-3 watts – about the same amount of power derived from a USB port – perfect for charging smartphones and tablets.

(cont..)

Source: Using a candle to charge your smartphone | Stuff.co.nz

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‘Computer coding could join education’s ‘three Rs’ under Labour plan’..

Children could soon be learning computer coding alongside reading writing and arithmetic as part of the Labour Party’s education plan.

The party releases its technology paperFuture of Work on Thursday which after feedback will help form its policies for the 2017 election campaign.

‘More needs to be done to prepare our workforce for the changes to come including looking at universal teaching of computing and coding in schools and improving how we teach technology – the paper says.

Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson said there were strong views from employers educators, and unions that coding and computer skills should sit alongside the so-called ‘three Rs’.

Robertson confirmed that if adopted the plan could mean computer coding – which is the language used to run computer programs – forming part of the core curriculum.

(cont..)

Source: Computer coding could join education’s ‘three Rs’ under Labour plan | Stuff.co.nz

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‘Children ‘not lab-rats’ – Anne Tolley intervenes in child abuse experiment’..

Minister furious at officials who suggested not intervening in high-risk child abuse cases.

A plan to treat vulnerable newborns as ‘lab rats’ by sitting back for two years to see if they were abused has been blocked by the Government.

The Ministry of Social Development proposed to include 60,000 children born this year in an ‘observational study’ to test the accuracy of its new predictive risk modelling tool.

It attempts to predict abuse – welfare dependency and the likelihood of a child’s downward spiral into crime on the path to adulthood so it can better target spending.

The Government gave the go-ahead to develop the model in 2012, as part of the Children’s Action Plan. It had now begun testing it.

But documents show officials had sought ethical approval for one study which involved risk-rating a group of newborns and not intervening in high-risk cases – to check whether their predictions came true.

A furious Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said she could not fathom what her officials were thinking.

She has called a halt to the study.

The minister’s handwritten notes on the documents instructed officials: ‘not on my watch – these are children not lab rats’.

(cont..)

Source: Children ‘not lab-rats’ – Anne Tolley intervenes in child abuse experiment | Stuff.co.nz

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‘Police investigate Silk Road-like drugs market run by Wellington students’..

Police are investigating a ‘dark web’ site trading in illegal and prescription drugs – supposedly being run by three Wellington computer science students.

Party drugs – painkillers and fake doctors’ scripts are for sale on NZ Underworld – claimed to have been started by Victoria University students who have challenged police to catch them if they can.

The anonymous marketplace currently has about 150 members – who join by invitation only. About three new users joined each day and were vetted online to keep out undercover police – the founders claimed.

Victoria University said it did not know who ran the site but had expressed concerns to police.

A police spokeswoman said the National Cyber Crime Centre could be called in to help the investigation.

‘We cannot go into further detail due to the nature of the investigation. However suffice to say that anyone who uses the internet to sell or distribute controlled drugs is committing an offence and should be aware that police will continue to investigate illegal activity online’.

The founders of the site claim to be part of a counter-culture movement bridging a gap in supply and demand.

(cont..)

Source: Police investigate Silk Road-like drugs market run by Wellington students | Stuff.co.nz

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‘Hunter S. Thompson talks with Studs Terkel about the Hells Angels (1967)’..

‘I keep my mouth shut now. I’ve turned into a professional coward’. – Hunter S. Thompson in 1967.

This is from PBS’s excellent ‘Blank on Blank’ series of animated interviews. It is nice to hear Thompson annunciate his words so clearly and crisply.

The times I attended his speaking events in the 1980s he sounded like his mouth was full of pebbles.

(cont..)

Source: Hunter S. Thompson talks with Studs Terkel about the Hells Angels (1967) – Boing Boing

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‘Listen to Me Marlon review – Brando gets the portrait his fans deserve’.. 

Using hundreds of hours of audio recordings Steven Riley crafts a remarkable documentary that offers unrivalled insight into what made the actor tick.

Despite his towering public profile Marlon Brando was a deeply private man. Yet in the documentary Listen to Me Marlon the actor lowers his defences to reveal his innermost thoughts. Director Steven Riley’s film is a fascinating collage which profoundly probes its subject’s psyche. Given his reluctance to talk to the press in his later years it’s unlikely that Brando – who died in 2004 aged 80 – would have relished the results of Riley’s labours.

Yet Riley’s film is no tabloid feeding frenzy: it was commissioned by Brando’s own estate and is entirely constructed of hundreds of hours of audio recordings made by the actor himself. It’s doubtful that Brando ever thought the revelatory tapings would one day provide fodder for a documentary but thanks to his recordings Riley has managed to construct a tribute to the actor that his fans have long deserved.

Riley opens his film eerily – with a digitised 3D image of Brando’s head that the actor made for himself in the 1980s – speaking sections from the tapes. It sets the tone for the film – which overwhelmingly draws on the effect of the actor speaking beyond the grave. There are no talking heads in Riley’s film – no re-enacted moments from his life – just scenes from Brando’s work laced with archival interviews in which the actor discusses his life in that melodious mumbling unmistakable voice.

(cont..)

Source: Listen to Me Marlon review – Brando gets the portrait his fans deserve | Film | The Guardian

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