Recent Posts

Synthetics: Maybe this mess will do some good

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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In Nigeria, they call it Black Mamba, and the papers report it's causing "convulsions, kidney failure and a ‘zombie-like’ state of intoxication that can lead to death." In Mumbai, kids are flocking to "Spice" because it doesn't show up in…

This is bad – very bad

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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According to a statement issued today by the Chief Coroner and the police, seven deaths in the past month in Auckland have been linked to the use of "synthetic cannabis". A follow-up report in the Herald has more bad news:…

Friday Music: Remembering Roi

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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In the days before email, when even toll calls were prohibitively priced, we would write each other letters. Rambling affairs, typed single-space (yes, some of us had typewriters – we weren't cave people) and full of news, gossip and extravagant ironic…

100 Men and a million stories

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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Paul Oremland was born gay in a New Zealand where homosexual conduct was a criminal offence, to deeply religious parents who regarded it as a mortal sin. Not long after a disastrous attempt to pray away the gay by studying…

On benefit fraud

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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Responses to Metiria Turei's confession of historic benefit fraud have fallen along the lines you would expect. The usual suspects on the right have leapt on it, others have expressed sympathy and the range of opinions on the political wisdom…

Friday Music: Non-conforming New Zealanders

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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The New Zealand International Film Festival programme this year includes two very different New Zealand music films: Simon Ogston's picture of Bill Direen, A Memory of Others, and Julian Boshier's Head Like a Hole story, Swagger of Thieves. I've been…

Our own fake news

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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New Zealand Prime Minister John Key was forced to resign after being caught giving $13.7m in taxpayer money to the Clinton Foundation. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), John Key was forced to step down after…

Drug Symposium day two: Māori women in the room

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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ACLU lawyer Alison Holcomb, a woman with a long history of looking the system square in the eye, was struggling to hold back tears. She had taken the stage as respondent at last week's Parliamentary Drug Law Symposium, immediately after…

Hearing privilege and Deaf disempowerment

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Access by Peter Fogarty
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The New Zealand Herald recently published a story reporting that Deaf are being “elbowed out of top spots” in their own organisations. It was timely. Recent events have picked the scab off a climate of fear, anxiety and conflict in…

One big day at the drug symposium

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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About the time I got on the train at Paraparaumu, in the pre-dawn darkness, the Armed Offenders Squad was assembling in our street back home in Point Chevalier. No cause for alarm, one of them told my neighbour. It turned…

Drug Law Symposium Day One: This is actually real

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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Kia ora koutou! This the post for the first day of the 2017 Parliamentary Drug Law Symposium, which takes place in Wellington at a time when drug law is actually changing.  To wit: Hon. Anne McLellan, chair of Canada's Chair,…

Know Your Stuff: getting real about drug-checking

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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This past summer, like every summer, many New Zealanders went to music festivals and parties and took recreational drugs. But at some events there was something unprecedented going on. Wendy Allison, the pioneer of of event harm reduction in New…

Friday Music: a New Zealand story

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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It's an odd, but pleasing, feeling seeing a screen drama whose characters you know in real life. And it's a feeling quite a few people will have if they're in front of the TV in a couple of weeks' time…

Meth Perception

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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According to a story by Kirsty Johnston on the Herald website today landlords are avoiding telling local authorities if their properties have tested positive for methamphetamine residue – because even if it is cleaned up, the fact of a positive test…

Drug policy: women lead the way

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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There's a game you can play at conferences in any sector: count the women scheduled to speak and contemplate how far the event is from a true share of voices. The New Zealand Drug Foundation's two-day Parliamentary Drug Law Symposium…

Blockchain, what is it?

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Hard News by Alex Sims
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Many people will have heard Blockchain or “distributed ledger technology” and some may have dismissed it as hype – especially when you hear claims that Blockchain is possibly the most important IT invention of our age. But no matter what your…

How journalism looks now

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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There is more than one thing to be taken from the BBC Panorama programme London Tower Fire: Britain's Shame. The first is, of course, its damning indictment of the authorities whose catastrophic failure of care allowed so many people to…

Friday Music: Digging ASMR

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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A week ago today on Lorde Listening Day, the singer and producer Chelsea Jade (who has a good new tune out, see below) tweeted that she was "getting ASMR shivers cascading down my skull from ella's voice all through this…

The Family Carers case – here we go again!

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Access by Rosemary McDonald
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Oh, yes indeedy, I would much rather be "out on the harbour" than sitting here in my bus with Peter snoring away behind me, writing yet again about this sorry issue. Forever the multi- tasker, I have managed to combine…

Seeking out the Spomeniks

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Speaker by Clinton Logan
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Dotted about the former Yugoslavia are Spomeniks – largely forgotten monuments, often erected in silent, empty landscapes, like sentinels from another world. Even their collective label sounds alien. (It's Serbo-Croatian for "monuments." ) "They're truly hideous," wrote one design critic. But…

Barclay and arrogance

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Hard News by Russell Brown
221

It's not especially unusual for someone to to compare the governing political party to a criminal gang – that's every day somewhere on Twitter, right? – but when the person making the comparison is a respected legal commentator and he's quoting the…

Being Inconvenient

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Access by Fiona McKenzie
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The thing about Twitter is that is forces you to choose your 140 characters carefully.  To say what you really think as artfully and briefly as possible. To be pithy.  Understood.  So when Nicky Wagner gazed out of her inner…

Touching Waterview

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Hard News by Russell Brown
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Yesterday, I joined thousands of other Aucklanders on the first public walkthrough of the 2.4km Waterview tunnel that will, when it opens to traffic early next month, bring SH20 all the way to SH16, thus completing the Auckland motorway network.…

The Fall

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Access by Chelle Hope
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In every respect I’d rather just forget about the last month of my life and move on. I won’t be able to do that for months yet. The thought of that is so distressing. The psychological impact has been immense.…