Recent Posts

UNGASS 2016: No one believes in your consensus any more

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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Last night's Media Take features my report from the UN General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem: UNGASS 2016. It raises the question of whether the ultimate victory of this UNGASS lies in its failure. The "outcome document"…

Talking past each other: Ideological silos and research

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Speaker by Rebecca Gray
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Last week I went to two evening launch events that had some subject matter in common.  The New Zealand Initiative hosted a panel debate relating to its new report, The Health of the State, which sets out to examine the…

A weekend in a mad, lovely place

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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The plan had been for a quiet weekend. Watch a little sport, make a little chicken stock, see off the jet lag. I held to that right up until about 9pm on Friday, when I thought I should go and…

A short history of half-baked housing blunders

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Polity by Rob Salmond
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Following Russell’s and Toby’s recent missives, both of which in-turn build on the Herald’s excellent home-truths series, I thought it would be helpful to lay out what our government has done to address the Auckland housing crisis so far. In…

Friday Music: Digging in New York

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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"Did you have lots of fun in New York?" people have asked. Well, kinda. I had a fun weekend in Brooklyn on arrival, but the week that followed, covering the United Nations, and getting together a TV story without a…

Confessions of an Uber driver

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Speaker by Ben Wilson
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My first confession is that I'm an Uber driver. Actually, it's my only confession. It's been 65 days since my first Uber passenger. It's a confession that has to be made, mostly because it surprises anyone who knows more than…

How the years flew by ...

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Hard News by Russell Brown
101

Four or five years ago, there was a reliable social media set-piece associated with newspaper stories about couples struggling to buy in the Auckland housing market. A typical example was this 2012 story about buyers getting innovative to try and…

Lady luck smiles more than we think

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Polity by Rob Salmond
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The Atlantic has an excellent article about the undervalued role of luck in people’s success. It argues most successful people, in addition to working hard and being talented and righteous and all that, have also got as far as they…

Fact-checking Parliament: more prisoners can vote than they think

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Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler
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Parliament’s Justice and Electoral Committee has released its report on the 2014 general election. There are number of useful observations about the process, and recommendations about possible law changes. Nothing particularly major – work on online voting is not a priority…

Geography and housing options

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Polity by Rob Salmond
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Earlier this week, David Farrar posted a WSJ chart that he says shows the solution to Auckland’s housing crisis. The chart, shown below, shows US cities that have grown outwards have affordable homes, while cities that don’t grow out get…

The place where things happen strangely

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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Imagine if New Zealand's social, public health and judicial policy was subject to a veto from Russia, China and Saudi Arabia. If those nations were in a position to dictate what our elected government could do or not do, how…

Flaccid balloon, mite-ridden bees

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Polity by Rob Salmond
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I missed last week’s TVNZ story about Auckland housing, as I was out of the country. It’s quite astounding, and well worth a look if you missed it. Here’s the skinny: Last May, Nick Smith told the country he had…

Cui bono?

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Up Front by Emma Hart
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I want to spend some time talking about the opposite of a Universal Basic Income. Well, not quite the opposite. We know what happens if a state makes no provision for its worst off. We don’t have to imagine what…

BRB, at UNGASS

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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Hi folks. I fly out this afternoon to cover the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on drugs: UNGASS 2016. It's the culmination of work I've been doing for the past five years, so I'm quite excited about it. I'm…

Banking on a relationship

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Speaker by Colin Jackson
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Dear Kiwibank, It’s not you, it’s me. I guess I wanted more from our relationship, and I thought you were serious, but I see now that it could never have worked. My mistake, and I’m sorry. I hope we can…

Music: In music's own spaces

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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On Monday, The Spinoff published a long, detailed report by Alex Casey and Duncan Greive on "How a prominent New Zealand music identity conducted a troubling series of relationships with young women, including girls as young as 12." The "identity"…

Media Take: The Panama Papers

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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It's nearly a decade since Wikileaks published a legal document linked to actor Wesley Snipes' ridiculous plan to avoid paying his taxes. It was what's professionally known as a bit of a dick move because the bond included Snipes' private…

About the King's Arms (updated)

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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Last week, 36 new parts of Auckland were designated as Special Housing Areas. Among them was a relatively small one, the Newton Cluster, which  comprises two titles in Karaka Street, currently home to a gym, and the nearby property at…

Friday Music: Screen gigs

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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One of the nice things about new New Zealand films is the way they're drawing out good work by New Zealand composers. I was delighted to attend the crowdfund backers' screening of David Farrier and Dylan Reeve's Tickled documentary on…

Labour's medical cannabis bill and a new Drug Harm Index

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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As you might have noticed, there is considerable activity in the area of drug policy. It's only a week and half until the United Nations' top policy-making body, the General Assembly, meets to discuss just that topic. Ironically, the two…

A wilting rose

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Polity by Rob Salmond
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 The most recent Economist has an interesting, thought-provoking piece about the decline of centre-left parties across Europe in recent years. It’s well worth a read. The headline figure is that social democratic parties, which were the dominant force in European…

Media Take: Radio Radio

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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In this week's Media Take show we talked about the state of radio – commercial, Maori and Radio New Zealand. Radio plays a variety of roles in our media environment, but a particular one in the two big media companies NZME…

Approved by lunchtime

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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As you may have read in the news, Peter Dunne approved a medical cannabis product yesterday. Indeed, he received the application to use Aceso Calm Spray to treat a patient with severe Tourette's in the morning and had it approved…

Father of the Bride

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Polity by Rob Salmond
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Over Easter I got to attend my sister Sarah’s wedding. It was a lovely long weekend catching up with my extended family, with Sarah’s best friends, and with her new relatives. The ceremony was gorgeous, and the party lasted two…