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Image from: Scoop Satire: Super-City Map
As Rodney Hide crawls out onto the ledge and threatens to resign all of his ministerial posts if the Auckland Supercity Council is allowed to include dedicated Maori seats, an anxious nation gathers in the street below with only one thought on its mind – jump, jump, jump. As a fit of pique, this effort by Hide underlines the fact that David Garrett is not the only loose cannon on the Act ship. The irrationality and bullying tactics – have these people never heard of MMP, and the spirit of co-operation and compromise that it entails? – begin at the top of the Act pyramid.
But we knew that already. Hide, is in that respect. the perfect candidate for the intolerant business lobby he so dutifully serves. Mind you, in this saga of the Maori seats on the Auckland council, Hide’s main opponent on this issue has exactly been covering itself with glory either. Surely, at some point, the Maori Party needs to start approaching bad policy with something more than a ‘me too’ response. An undemocratic, autocratic local government body to rule Auckland? Hey, that’s OK if we can get a couple of token Maori onto it. Private prisons? Hey, that’s OK, if Maori can help to run them. If Hide does jump and the Maori Party becomes the government’s main lifeline on confidence and supply, it would be nice to think that the Turia/Sharples leadership might then start to consider policy on its merits, rather than on what can be winkled out of it. But don’t hold your breath.
Back to Hide, though. Because this melodramatic threat seems so out of proportion to the issue involved, his stance can only fuel conjecture about what else, below the parapet, he is losing ground on, in his dealings with the government. Is the entire Supercity project going down? The emissions trading scheme taking turns that Hide can’t abide? Is Act throwing its toys around here because taking a stand against affirmative action towards Maori is seen by it as being less electorally damaging than being the only party willing to go down with the ship over the ETS, in the cause of climate change denial? Ah, but trying to plumb the mind of the Act Party is a path to madness. Before you know it, you’ll be right out there on the ledge alongside Rodney.
Footnote to the Afghan marital rape law story. Days later and despite the wonders of Internet communication we are still waiting days for MFAT to come up with an English translation of the noxious marital rape law. It must be coming out by donkey train.
To recap : this law seriously affects the rights of women in the Shia/Hazara community in Afghanistan and – among other things – allows husbands to starve their wives to death if they do not accede to sexual demands. Well, here’s an idea that might speed things up. Instead of asking the Karzai government for an explanation – and why bother, given that Hamid Karzai lied to Foreign Minister Murray McCully on the last occasion McCully asked about this law – why doesn’t McCully instead ask the leader of our PRT team in Bamiyan to seek comment and clarification from the provincial governor of Bamiyan, Habiba Sarabi?
Reason being – Sarabi is a woman, and she is in fact the only female governor in all of Afghanistan. She is also a Hazara, and Bamiyan is where the Hazara population most affected by the law happen to be the largest etbnic grouping. She’s the logical sounding board for McCully, MFAT and the media, on this issue.
The release on compassionate grounds of the Libyan, Ali al Megrahi, convicted of the Lockerbie bombing is to be welcomed. It is the least that could be done to rectify the miscarriage of justice involved. The bias of Scottish justice was mirrored by the cynicism with which Libya delivered al Megrahi up to gain advantages from the West. Here’s a summary of the more recent developments:
On 28 June 2007 the [Scottish legal authorities] concluded their four-year review and, having uncovered evidence that a miscarriage could have occurred, The Commission granted Megrahi leave to appeal against his Lockerbie bombing conviction for a second time. The second appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal was abandoned in August 2009, as an impediment to the legal power to release him on compassionate grounds which was then exercised.
New information casting fresh doubts about Megrahi’s conviction was examined at a procedural hearing at the Judicial Appeal Court (Court of Session building) on 11 October 2007:
1. His lawyers claim that vital documents, which emanate from the CIA and relate to the Mebo timer that allegedly detonated the Lockerbie bomb, were withheld from the trial defence team
. 2. Tony Gauci chief prosecution witness at the trial, is alleged to have been paid $2 million for testifying against Megrahi
3. Mebo’s owner, Edwin Bollier has claimed that in 1991 the FBI offered him $4 million to testify that the timer fragment found near the scene of the crash was part of a Mebo MST-13 timer supplied to Libya.
4. A former employee of Mebo,Ulrich Lumpert swore an affidavit in July 2007 that he had stolen a prototype MST-13 timer in 1989, and had handed it over to “a person officially investigating the Lockerbie case”.
As the Guardian points out, the al Megrahi legal team also “allege that compelling evidence that it was planted by a Syrian-backed Palestinian cell based in Germany, Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command, has been ignored.” Or it could have been the Iranians, as this report yesterday in
Former Labour MP Tam Dalyell believes Megrahi was no more than a sanctions-buster, and that the bombing was instigated by Iran in revenge for the accidental shooting down of an Iranian airliner by the warship USS Vincennes in July 1988.
Mr Dalyell, who has visited Megrahi in jail, argues Libya then became the scapegoat in order for the US to ensure Iran and Syria were kept onside in the run-up to the Gulf War.
All along, al Megrahi has protested his innocence, and his cause has gained the support of Dr Jim Swire, who lost his daughter in the Lockerbie bombing. The opposition to allowing al Megrahi to go home to die being exhibited by many of the US families of the victims – and which is being backed up, for political reasons by President Barack Obama – has been pretty shameful.
Unfortunately, the compassion shown to al Megrahi was conditional on him dropping his ongoing attempts to clear his name – which means that the probable real culprits will now always remain unknown, and the Lockerbie victims will be denied genuine justice.