Recent Posts

The lessons of Prohibition

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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If Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's rich, nuanced 2011 documentary Prohibition does anything, it is to show how complex both the causes and effects of America's "Great Experiment" really were. The coalition that achieved the 18th Amendment to the US…

A war crimes inquiry; or why Nicky Hager is wrong

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Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler
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On Tuesday, Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson released Hit & Run: The New Zealand SAS in Afghanistan and the meaning of honour. The book details a 2010 raid in Afghanistan, carried out New Zealand SAS troop, with assistance from US air…

Friday Music: Sound and Light

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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I didn't go to Adele's first show in Auckland last night and, short of the freebie fairy paying a late visit , I won't be going to the others either. I don't mind Adele, but I don't have $300-a-ticket worth…

Brian Greene and the Cosmic Symphony

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Speaker by Jean Balchin
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Dr Brian Greene is known both for a series of revolutionary discoveries in his field of superstring theory – he is a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University – and as a skilled communicator of  the wonder of theoretical physics…

A tale of two festivals

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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'The ugly side of Polyfest' blared TVNZ's headline about two fights near PolyFest in South Auckland last weekend. It was a horrible headline which appeared to imply that violence was somehow part and parcel of this annual cultural festival, now…

The long road to Hit and Run

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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One of the most important characteristics of good journalism is is also its plainest: simple persistence. It's worth bearing that in mind in light of Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson's new book, Hit and Run. As Andrew Geddis explains here,…

We're Going on a Bat Hunt

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Cracker by Damian Christie
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When I started SciFilms about this time last year, it wasn't really a change of direction so much as a narrowing of focus. I've always loved doing science and technology stories, and I really wanted to put my flag in…

The road to Songbroker

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Speaker by Jan Hellriegel
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Music has always been part of my life and it’s in my blood – my great, great grandfather came down this way in a travelling orchestra, jumped ship and stayed. A career in music was always on the cards. It's been…

Friday Music: French Kiwi Juice is righteously smooth

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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I don't know much about French Kiwi Juice, other than that his real name is Vincent Fenton and he lives in Paris and apparently grew up here. But I can tell you that I really like his new, self-titled album.…

Media Media Media

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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Last night I joined an interesting crew of people – Kirsty Johnston, Kym Niblock, Troy Rawhiti-Forbes and Chris Keall – on a Social Media Club Auckland panel talking about fake news. You can watch the video here on Facebook. The discussion, inevitably,…

What the wastewater tells us about drugs

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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It would be wrong to say the results of New Zealand's first pilot study analysing wastewater to estimate public drug use tell us what we already knew. It's a characteristic of studying illicit drug use that there's always a lot…

Where have you been all Summer?

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Capture by Nora Leggs
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It's been a while since we last threw some seasonal photos up here .  Summer's sliding fast into Autumn, so fast I can't deny it any longer.  Looking back over summer I see a lot of time on beaches, in…

Fear of Cycling

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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If you ride a bicycle in traffic, you've probably had the experience of returning to the road after a couple of weeks away and thinking "what the hell is this?" The reality of sharing the road with flying two-ton chunks…

Pixies Heaven

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Capture by Jackson Perry
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Back in 2010, when the Pixies last played Vector Arena, we all thought this would be the last, and ultimate, Pixies concert of all time, and that seeing them re-formed with Kim Deal made life worth living, and nothing could…

Friday Music: It all leads to a disco fiesta

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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Lorde has busted out another preview from Melodrama and it's a touching, impressive piano ballad called 'Liability'. Seems like there might be a lot of piano on this album. She also revealed Melodrama's release date – June 16 – and she'll be…

Disability and International Women’s Day

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Access by Chelle Hope
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I cannot begin to think about International Women’s Day, or indeed the experience of being a woman, without first acknowledging the role that disability plays in my life. I am a woman with a disability, a disabled woman. Both identities…

Meet the new bots, same as the old bots?

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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The picture below is a screenshot of my last nine followers on Twitter, as of about 10 minutes ago. You'll note that they are all "eggs" – that is, accounts that lack a personal avatar and instead carry the default Twitter…

Superannuation: Back to the Future

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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The National government's bold move to bind a future government, nearly 20 years hence, to phase in a rise in the age of elibility for National Superannuation, from 65 to 67, invites a yawn on its face. But it's significant…

For Your Own Safety

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Up Front by Emma Hart
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A couple of weeks ago, I went to a cricket game at Hagley Oval, because that’s what I do in summer. The oddest thing about it wasn’t that the Black Caps won, it was the toilets. For the second time…

Hep C: When doctors do the wrong thing

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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My story for Matters of Substance last year about the rollout of newly Pharmac-funded antiviral drugs that cure Hepatitis C contained both good and bad news. The good news lay in the fact of funding and in the compassionate, innovative…

Drugs, testing and workplaces

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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Late last year, New Zealand Rugby announced that it was to begin random, out-of-competition drug-testing of players, coaches and administrators – not for drugs that might be used to gain any performance advantage, but for illicit recreational drugs. The messaging around…

If this was ever funny, it's not any more

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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Two months ago, White Press Secretary in waiting Sean Spicer said in an interview that denying of access to out-of-favour media organisations – as President-elect Trump had done for much of his campaign – would take America from a democracy to a…