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VINCE SIEMER REPORT: ‘LOSING THE PLOT’ – The Urewera 18 apply to the Supreme Court over Court of Appeal’s rejection of trial by jury.

17 APRIL 2011


12 April 2011
The Urewera 18 have applied to the Supreme Court against the Court of Appeal’s rejection of their right to trial by jury.

Citing no right to appeal interlocutory judgments ahead of trial, the Crown prosecution opposes the Supreme Court considering the matter until at least after the scheduled trial in August, if at all.

In what is already the most expensive prosecution to taxpayers in New Zealand’s history, the result will be a mistrial if Crown argument is accepted and the Supreme Court determines post trial that denial of jury breached New Zealand Bill of Rights Act and Crimes Act guarantees.  Strategically the Crown’s hope is that a fait accompli on judge alone trial will bolster the economic pressures on the Supreme Court upholding the lower court’s imposed discretion to deny this statutory right.

Meanwhile, it has been reported in the Whakatane Beacon that Tuhoe will back a request to solicitor-general David Collins later this month to drop all charges against the 18 defendants.  After the September 2007 raids held many without bail on terrorism charges, public protests forced Mr Collins to reduce the charges to various weapons, drugs and gang charges.   It is reported Tuhoe leader Tamati Kruger said iwi would endorse the request to drop charges, sponsored by lawyer Moana Jackson and Auckland University law faculty professor Jane Kelsey, adding “These people will never, ever get a fair and just trial.”

The original Police affidavit used to obtain the warrants to make the arrests which grabbed world headlines 3 ½ years ago suggests several defendants were charged because of their personal association with their co-defendants or for using offensive language in describing Police.  Despite a court-ordered public suppression order of this police affidavit from day one, Auckland High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann read out key phrases for the TV cameras in court when revoking bail against one of the defendants Jamie Locket a week after the arrests.  Those sensationalist excerpts, that “white men are going to die in this country” and “I am going to go commando”, were not given any context and were not representative of the police affidavit.  Talk radio was ablaze in the days afterward, with many advocating reestablishment of the death penalty.

Three years later it was Winkelmann who denied 14 of these 18 defendants their statutory right to trial by jury on grounds jury members will likely use “improper reasoning processes” in reaching a decision and the trial is expected to be lengthy.  As with the affidavit, the Judge suppressed her ruling from the public.  It is this decision which the Court of Appeal upheld last month and the Supreme Court is now being asked to consider.

April 17, 2011 Posted by | Human rights, VINCE SIEMER REPORT | Leave a comment

Fran O’Sullivan: ‘Protect our basic right to trial by jury’

1April 2011

TOTALLY agree with Fran O’Sullivan on this point!


Fran O’Sullivan: Protect our basic right to trial by jury

By Fran O’Sullivan

5:30 AM Saturday Apr 2, 2011
Tuhoe activist Tame Iti. Photo / Alan Gibson


Tuhoe activist Tame Iti. Photo / Alan Gibson

The Court of Appeal’s decision to deny the “Urewera 18” the right to have a jury trial is a major offence to New Zealand’s proud human rights record.

I hold no brief for Tuhoe political activist Tame Iti and the 17 others who were arrested in the wake of police raids on so-called paramilitary training camps in the Ureweras.

Widely leaked police affidavits painted a colourful story that no doubt alarmed senior political figures who were briefed by the security services ahead of the raid.

But the Urewera 18 have been waiting more than three years now to defend various firearms offences in what is a highly political and controversial case. Under these circumstances it is surely untenable for a senior court to rule in the prosecution’s favour and deny these people a right to have their case heard by a jury of their peers.

Nor is it tenable for the Court of Appeal to refuse to say publicly why it has ensured the upcoming trial will be one decided by legal insiders.

New Zealand politicians (I’m thinking of Phil Goff) bang on about how they challenge Chinese politicians to lift their country’s human rights game whenever they meet on formal bilateral business. Goff should look closer to home.

Judging by scarce news coverage, even Greens MP Keith Locke – who has been the subject of Security Service surveillance – has had little (if anything) to say on the court’s decision. But unless this carry-on is challenged this country runs the risk of being set on the path to Star Chamber hearings, where any activist facing serious charges will essentially be subject to a secret trial.

Particularly if the evidence is obtained under the Terrorism Suppression Act.

It has been a long time since former police commissioner Howard Broad called showtime and sent his officers into Tuhoe territory to hunt out those he believed were planning terrorist attacks. The fact that the Urewera 18 are not still behind bars suggests the authorities do not seriously believe any of them pose an immediate threat to public safety.

Otherwise surely the prosecution would been pressured to get this case to trial with considerable alacrity.

I don’t have an inside knowledge either of the exact grounds that High Court judge Helen Winkelmann applied when she initially denied the accused their request for a jury trial. Not only did Winkelmann suppress her reasoning for her December 9 decision last year but she also suppressed (for some weeks) the fact that she had made it.

But the fact that the trial will take more than 20 days is not a sufficiently credible reason for a judge to stop the accused from being tried in front of a jury. Nor would it be credible to claim that this case is imbued with such complexity that a layman jury could not reach a decision on the basis of the accused’s response to the Crown’s evidence.

At its heart, the Urewera 18 case is not complex. It is being made complex by the prosecution’s apparent drive to retrofit the case so that the police can use what was initially deemed illegally gained evidence to bolster their submissions.

A judge-alone trial might make sense where a layman jury would struggle if it had to pick its way through complex evidence in a criminal commercial trial (particularly where defendants have relied on butt-covering legal advice to justify dubious board decisions).

But even then it is possible a jury might well apply more commonsense than a judge whose training will have imbued him/her with the notion that senior commercial players have a “right” to rely on advice.

This leaves the question of the jury’s own safety. Are the judges concerned that laymen might be intimidated by Iti and his fellow accused? If that is the case, why not simply say so?

Trial by jury is a long-standing right which must continue to be valued. And in a high-profile trial like this one a jury is better placed to ensure public accountability.

The New Zealand judiciary’s own reputation took a pounding when a special deal was cut to allow former Court of Appeal judge Bill Wilson to resign gracefully from the bench after he faced a conflict of interest investigation.

Confidence needs to be built back into the system. The Court of Appeal’s ruling must be challenged in the Supreme Court in the wider public interest. If it delays the May 19 start to the upcoming trial (brought forward from the original August start date which would have conflicted with the Rugby World Cup) so be it.

By Fran O’Sullivan | Email Fran

April 17, 2011 Posted by | Human rights, Internationally significant information, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Operation 8” showing this week – a feature length documentary about the 2007 NZ ‘anti-terror’ raids

17 April 2011

Should be VERY interesting!

“Operation 8” showing this week – a feature length documentary about the 2007 NZ ‘anti-terror’ raids :


GPJA#372: “Operation 8” showing this week

gpjanz | April 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL:


CutCutCut Films is pleased to announce the release of Operation 8, a feature length documentary about the 2007 ‘anti-terror’ raids. Operation 8 is screening in the 2011 World Cinema Showcase, in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin – with the world premiere on Sunday 17 April, 2.45pm at the Paramount Cinema in Wellington.

Screening times are as follows:

Wellington – Paramount Theatre
Sun 17 April, 2.45 pm; Mon 25 April, 2.45 pm; Wed 27 April, 3.15 pm

Auckland – Skycity Theatre
Mon 18 April, 3.00 pm; Mon 18 April, 8.15 pm

Dunedin – Rialto Cinemas
Mon 9 May, 8.30 pm; Tue 10 May, 11.15 am

Tickets for the film are available at the respective cinemas.

You can read about the film and watch the trailer here:
We hope to see you there! Errol Wright & Abi King-Jones, CutCutCut Films
Facebook (for updates click the ‘LIKE’ button on the facebook page) Twitter

April 17, 2011 Posted by | Human rights | Leave a comment

‘Petroleum mining needs new rules’ by Gary Taylor -New Zealand Herald opinion piece

17 April 2011

Who’s interests are being served here with petroleum mining?

Public or corporate?


New Zealand Herald opinion piece
Appeared 13 April 2011

Petroleum mining needs new rules

by Gary Taylor

New Zealand needs to manage risks better. Our economy couldn’t stand another disaster.

Community concern about the dangers of petroleum exploration in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone is well-justified. Exploration activities taking place there are not subject to adequate environmental regulation. Exploratory drilling in the Raukumara Basin off East Cape will be in much deeper water than the Gulf of Mexico. That disaster cost the US economy billions of dollars. New Zealand needs to learn that very expensive lesson and make sure a spill doesn’t happen here.

A research paper published last week by the Environmental Defence Society compared New Zealand’s environmental and safety regulations in the EEZ with other countries. We rate badly. For example, we have just one person responsible for inspecting all offshore and onshore petroleum wells – the worst ratio by far of all the countries surveyed in another recent study commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Development. Our system is just not safe.

Read the full article here….

April 17, 2011 Posted by | Human rights, Internationally significant information | Leave a comment

TRUTHOUT: ‘President Obama’s Real Proposal (and Why It’s Risky)’ by Robert Reich

17 April 2011

President Obama’s Real Proposal (and Why It’s Risky)

Saturday 16 April 2011
by: Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog

Paul Ryan says his budget plan will cut $4.4 trillion over ten years. The President says his new plan will cut $4 trillion over twelve years.

Let’s get real. Ten or twelve-year budgets are baloney. It’s hard enough to forecast budgets a year or two into the future. Between now and 2022 or 2024 the economy will probably have gone through a recovery (I’ll explain later why I fear it will be anemic at best) and another downturn. America will also have been through a bunch of elections – at least five congressional and three presidential.

The practical question is how to get out of the ongoing gravitational pull of this awful recession without cow-towing to extremists on the right who think the U.S. government is their mortal enemy. For President Obama, it’s also about how to get reelected.

(Yes, we also have to send a clear signal to global lenders that America is serious about reducing its long-term budget deficit. But in truth, global lenders don’t need much reassurance. Bond market yields in the U.S. are now lower than they were when the government was running a budget surplus ten years ago.)

Seen in this light, Obama’s plan isn’t really a budget proposal. It’s a process proposal.

Stage 1, starting now and ending in June, requires that Republican and Democratic leaders devise a budget for 2012. Apparently they’ve already agreed to try.

That budget would also include a “framework” for deficit reduction over the longer haul. But that framework will be mainly for show. It will give House Republicans enough cover to vote to raise the ceiling on the amount the U.S. government can borrow. (The vote has to occur before the Treasury runs out of accounting maneuvers, in early July.)

And because the framework’s details will be filled in after Election Day, it will give Obama wiggle room before the election to campaign on his priorities. If he wins big – and if Democrats retake the House – its details will look completely different from what they’d look like in the alternative.

Stage 2 occurs in 2014 – fully two years after Election Day. Then, according to Obama’s proposal, if the ratio of the nation’s deficit to the GDP hasn’t fallen to 2.5 percent (it’s now over 10 percent), automatic across-the-board cuts will go into effect to get it there.Importantly, these cuts wouldn’t apply to Social Security and Medicare, or to Medicaid and other programs designed for the poor. And they wouldn’t be limited to spending. They’d also apply to tax expenditures – that is, to tax deductions and tax credits.

The betting in the White House is that by 2014 the recovery will be in full force, and the economy will have grown so much that the ratio of deficit to the GDP will be in the range of 3 to 5 percent anyway. That means any across-the-board cuts wouldn’t have to be very deep.

The White House is also betting that a strong recovery will take the sting out of any recommendations to slow the growth of Medicare spending emanating from the Medicare board set up under the new health care law (officially known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board.) Under Obama’s new plan, such proposals will be necessary if Medicare spending grows .5 percent faster than growth of the economy (under the law, it’s 1 percent faster).

All told, it’s a clever strategy. It might well avoid a dangerous game of chicken over raising the debt ceiling. It still allows the President to charge Paul Ryan and other Republicans who join him as ending Medicare as we know it – which they are, in fact, proposing to do. (This may help Democrats win back seniors, whose support for Democratic house candidates dropped form 49% in 2006 to 38% in 2010.) And it gives the President lots of room to maneuver between now and Election Day, and between Election Day and 2014.

But there’s one big weakness. The whole thing depends on the recovery picking up steam. If the economy doesn’t, the process could backfire – leading to indiscriminate budget cuts later on, as well as big cuts in Medicare. Indeed, if the recovery fails to fire up, Obama’s own chance of reelection is dimmed considerably, as are the odds of a Democratic House after 2012.

Yet what are the chances of a booming recovery? The economy is now growing at an annualized rate of only 1.5 percent. That’s pitiful. It’s not nearly enough to bring down the rate of unemployment, or remove the danger of a double dip. Real wages continue to drop. Housing prices continue to drop. Food and gas prices are rising. Consumer confidence is still in the basement.

By focusing the public’s attention on the budget deficit, the President is still playing on the Republican’s field. By advancing his own “twelve year plan” for reducing it – without talking about the economy’s underlying problem – he appears to validate their big lie that reducing the deficit is the key to future prosperity.

The underlying problem isn’t the budget deficit. It’s that so much income and wealth are going to the top that most Americans don’t have the purchasing power to sustain a strong recovery.

Until steps are taken to alter this fundamental imbalance – for example, exempting the first $20K of income from payroll taxes while lifting the cap on income subject to payroll taxes, raising income and capital gains taxes on millionaires and using the revenues to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit up to incomes of $50,000, strengthening labor unions, and so on – a strong recovery may not be possible.

Robert Reich
Robert Reich is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written thirteen books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, Supercapitalism, and his most recent book, Aftershock.

April 17, 2011 Posted by | Fighting corruption internationally, Internationally significant information, Transparency in Govt spending | Leave a comment

JANE BURGERMEISTER REPORT: ‘Brazen power grab by puppets of banks backfires in Austria’

Brazen power grab by puppets of banks backfires in Austria

Jane Burgermeister | April 16, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL:

An attempt to convince Austrians that a reshuffle of those faces most identified with the discredited hard core of the ruling coalition People’s Party  is actually a fresh start has failed dismally with polls showing support for the ÖVP party dropping to historical lows.

The conservative party fell to a new low of 22% following a coup d’etat by those elements with  links to disgraced Austrian MEP Ernst Strasser and banks like Raiffeisen that have been embroiled in financial scandals.

Hard line Interior Minister Maria Fekter is set to be appointed the new Finance Minister following the abrupt and unexpected resignation of Josef Pröll mid week.

Pröll was also the mentor of former Interior Minister Strasser, who was recently caught on film accepting a bribe of 100,000 euros to change draft EU bank laws, and is now under investigation.

While Fekter likes to present herself in the media as a sensitive person with a conscience who only flings foreign children into prison to warn off human traffickers, this image will be harder to sustain as she takes the butcher’s knife to the country’s burgeoning national and communal budget. As the debt hole grows, it will be left to Fekter to box through the transfer of ever larger quantities of tax money to banks under the pretext of having to pay interest on an artificially-engineered fractional-reserve banking debt. Read more of this post

April 17, 2011 Posted by | Fighting corruption internationally, Internationally significant information, Jane Burgermeister Report | Leave a comment