Saturday, May 02, 2009

Wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom

The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), in its annual report issued in Washington on Thursday, said it had put Indonesia back on its “priority watch list” of intellectual property violators, prompting Jakarta to respond with claims of unfairness.

“I’m deeply disappointed,” said Andy Sommeng, director general of intellectual property rights at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. “It’s like our efforts in protecting intellectual property rights are ignored.”

[From Jakarta Globe]

You can buy pirated DVDs in the departure lounge at Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport.

Tutti Frutti / Oh Rudy

This is my favourite link so far today:

FSB reports circulating in the Kremlin today are stating that United States Supreme Court Justice David Souter [photo top left] has been forced to resign over his refusing an order from Bush-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts to support the planned implementation of Martial Law within the US planned for this coming fall due to the combining of the current H1N1 Swine Flu virus with the H5N1 Avian Flu, which, as we had reported on earlier, will, according to Russian scientists, unleash a “Tidal Wave” of death upon our World.

According to these reports, Justice Souter, Justice Ruth Ginsberg and Justice Samuel Alito were all refusing Chief Justice Roberts orders when yesterday, a protégé of Justice Alito, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General under President Clinton, and head of fundraising for Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential bid, Mark Levy [photo 2nd left], was “suicided” prompting Justice Souter’s immediate resignation.

[From Top Supreme Court Justice Forced Out]

Good stuff indeed.....

Friday, May 01, 2009

But I've wandered much further today than I should / and I can't find my way back to three acre wood

Just to lighten things up...


Rockets, moon shots / Spend it on the have nots

Oh look, a pandemic is breaking out..well maybe not a pandemic but the beginnings of a flood of common sense.

The British are leading the way. There was of course Simon Jenkin’s piece in the Guardian two days ago, much derided by some, but now reading as somewhat considered and rather more sensible than much of the doom laden drivel the mass media has foisted upon us in recent days.

And yesterday, in the same paper Dr. John Crippen (a pseudonym we are told) opined:

We met at lunchtime, not to talk of heart attacks and Lego, but of flu. There have been deaths in Mexico. There has been one in the US. Our Indian partner said: "There were 2,000 deaths, mainly children in Africa and Asia, yesterday."

Our medical student looked shocked: "I didn't know swine flu had reached that part of the world." "It hasn't," said our partner. "I'm talking of deaths from malaria. But that isn't news, is it?"

We were silent for a while. Time to get things in proportion.

Ah, yes, exactly.

And in the same paper, and even more precisely, Simon Tisdall has written:

Confirmation that Switzerland had suffered its first case of swine flu is big news today. According to the Swiss federal health department, a young man recently returned from Mexico exhibited symptoms of the virus. He is now tucked up in bed in Baden, north of Zurich, where it is hoped he will make a full recovery.

Not considered quite so newsworthy by perspiring international media infected by a global sneezing fit was the latest extreme violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. According to Human Rights Watch, 35 civilians were killed, 91 women and girls raped, and hundreds of homes burned down in fresh reprisal attacks by Rwandan Hutu militias in North Kivu.

But, we are told by the concerned, the WHO have tagged this as a stage five pandemic. Is that the same WHO whose Dr David Nabarro, in 2005, when discussing the impending bird flu pandemic, said:

The range of deaths could be anything between 5m and 150m

Which the WHO later downgraded to

between two million and 7.4 million

Let’s be real, the WHO reacts to governments, governments react to mass pressure, which reacts to the media. And around it goes.

There seems to be a quiet step back from the governmental extremism of the past week with the EU Health Commissioner quietly suggesting a more considered response might be in order, and the frenzy of the past week slipping back a page or two in the papers.

But there is a much uglier side to all this as both Tisdall and Crippen say. And that’s the largely western media’s screams of panic when any hint of a threat to our happy civilized world raises its head. Forget the deaths of up to 200,000 children a year from waterborne disease in South Asia, with at least 100,000 babies a year dying in Indonesia alone. Or the Malaria, or the Cholera, or the AIDS or the Dengue (50-100 million cases a years and 22,000 didn’t know that?) or 100 other diseases that devastate third world nations daily, with nary a mention in the Western media.

In India, in 2007 some 2,402,00 children died of largely preventable causes…those are bloody epidemics, pandemics, them whatever you will.

Nope, we are more concerned with the threat from three mildly ill school kids returning to NZ from their break in Mexico, or the odd unwell person in some European country.

And let’s be even more honest..if this had just occurred in Mexico, and 500 kids had died from some obscure virus, we really wouldn’t give a damn.

Sometimes I feel rather ashamed. There is something rather obscene in all this.

I wonder how many toilets 32 million UK facemasks would buy in Java?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Do You Have Swine Flu?


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ohh, we love our wee panics, don't we....

This afternoon a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) dismissed claims that more than 150 people have died from swine flu, saying it has officially recorded only seven deaths around the world.

Vivienne Allan, from WHO's patient safety program, said the body had confirmed that worldwide there had been just seven deaths - all in Mexico.

Associated Press said countries confirmed with the illness included Mexico (19 people), USA (66), Canada (13), Spain (2), Israel (2) and New Zealand (3).

The BBC website said the United Kingdom had two confirmed cases of swine flu and reported Germany's first confirmed case in Bavaria.

Mexican health authorities say the virus is suspected in 159 total deaths. They say it has infected over 2000 in Mexico alone.

"Unfortunately that [150-plus deaths] is incorrect information and it does happen, but that's not information that's come from the World Health Organisation," Ms Allan told Australia's ABC Radio today.

"That figure is not a figure that's come from the World Health Organisation and, I repeat, the death toll is seven and they are all from Mexico."

[From Swine flu: Tamiflu more accessible, death toll still at seven - National - NZ Herald News]

3000 people die of Malaria every day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

You have to hide inna your place and tuck down like a gecko

Hell, I'm a little late to this but damn this is wicked..and the album

Darkness would become me underneath the table / As the fury raged around the house

I’m not sure what to make of all this fuss over the very unfortunate death of the young-ish former NZ soldier in the dark (and quite ugly) depths of Kuta a week or so ago. What I do know is that it likely didn’t need to happen, and, more, that the story and the spin coming out of the New Zealand media in the last period is best generously described as ill-informed and reflects fairly badly on what New Zealand, also generously, calls reporting.

Taking a step back, and with some local knowledge, what it looks like to me is a very confused, very likely quite inebriated, 19 year old in a very, very alien and overpowering scenario simply finding herself unable to cope with an increasingly serious situation, which ended with the death of her fiancé. It’s a pretty terrible situation to find oneself in and I have some sympathy, especially as she has to live with that, even if she’s perhaps not being honest with those around her. The one person with the experience to cope was unconscious.

Unfortunately that’s not the way it reads in the NZ press, which, to anyone who’s ever had the misfortune to spend any time in The Bounty or it’s neighbouring clubs, comes across like a transmission from a parallel universe:

About 2.30am Sunday, they tried to redeem the coupon at the Bounty Bar. Staff sent them upstairs and downstairs, and then the bartender swore at them and ignored them.

As they walked away Mr Headifen accidently knocked over a glass.

Miss Whitburn turned to see the bartender pick up a fishbowl glass and throw it at Mr Headifen.

They both rather come across as victims here, so it’s perhaps important to throw a little reality into the mix.

Firstly, and this excuses nobody, but The Bounty, where the damage was done, is the key establishment in a gruesome strip of nightclubs aimed fairly and squarely at the lower end of the Australian bogan market. It’s like a sleazier low rent take on the uglier side of the mostly now defunct hell-holes that used to fill the back streets of Kings Cross. It’s a place where loud, often quite racist and thuggish blokes and their sheilas from the working class ‘burbs of Australia drink cheap but potent ‘cocktails’ of nameless spirits from large jars and get very drunk. They then as often as not, staggering from floor to floor, end up either unconscious or in brawls. And get thrown out.

Now, I may have missed something here, but, as ugly as these venues may be, they don’t have a history of killing, or even beating up their patrons, and Balinese are simply not known for beating up tourists or guests. More importantly, I’d argue that the patrons of these sorts of dumps would provide some pretty major provocations to the staff every night, and said staff seem pretty practiced at holding back. So the idea that, after politely trying to redeem a voucher, the accidental knocking over of a glass led to the sort of unprovoked abuse and violence against Mr. Headifen described rather defies belief.

Lets call it for the nonsense it is. I’d more inclined to buy the local version, in the Indonesian press…that they were too drunk, the club said no more, and he started a fight, which got out of hand.

So, to outside. Firstly, the ATMs in the street give up to RP10 million. You just have to do the withdrawal several times. But she could be forgiven for not knowing that… the Indonesian banking system is not known for its user friendliness on any level.

Setting aside the thought that anyone is crazy to travel to any country without decent medical insurance, but most especially one like Indonesia, where everything costs, the tourist orientated medical facilities, like BIMC, the one that they allegedly tried to take him to, have full credit card facilities. But all that aside, within 20 metres of the hotel, there are, 24 hours a day, a steady stream of taxis, any of which would’ve been happy to have taken Mr. Headifen to any hospital, which would’ve treated him as a matter of course, without demanding pre-payment. These are international standard medical facilities, staffed and managed by fully trained and competent doctors and staff, the equal of any you’d find in any emergency room anywhere in the world. The fare..about Rp30,000 (US$2.60), and the distance about

The hotel would’ve known all this, which leads me to question the next part about the hotel’s actions.

None of this, of course, comes through in any of the New Zealand reporting which leaves the reader with some pretty twisted impressions of both Bali and the risks tourists take coming here. This is not Palmerston North, but neither is it some hell-hole where you take your life in your hands simply by being here. The simple reason these bars and the environs are so ugly is because of the Australians and New Zealanders that fill them. If you filled these with Balinese or Indonesians you'd have no such issues. In fact the average Saturday night in Palmerston North or Levin would put you far more at risk than any bar anywhere in Indonesia.

Sadly this guy seems to have been the victim of too much booze leading to too much aggression, as is often the case, most especially in the sorts of bars that young Australasians like to inhabit the world over, coupled with the confused inaction of a young girl who simply didn’t have the faintest idea where she was and, too, was legless and thus unable to cope.

Very sad, but lets not make more of it than it is.

I read the news today, oh boy......

I may be odd, but I'm rather excited at the time wasting opportunities offered by the fact that Google now has almost every issue of Billboard online, from 1942 through to last year (but is still missing the one where we were featured on page one, circa '97).

The cutting, blurry as it is, from 1986, below is a pointer that little has really changed in recent I recall TVNZ went on to win that round as the labels backed down.

Picture 11.png

Monday, April 27, 2009

Turn the corner, rub my eyes and hope the world will last

Ohhh, big noise, big fuss in New Zealand over it’s entry into the global flu game. Of course one hopes that the kids in question are all fine and the deaths in Mexico (although nowhere else, where the Swine Flu seems to date to be milder than the average dose of yer run of the mill influenza) are terrible, as any deaths of young folks are anywhere. Places like Mexico City are especially open to these sorts of mini-pandemics, with their suspect hygiene, close human proximity and ridiculously high levels of pollution, both in the air and in the water. Although such realities are rather alien to someone sitting in Browns Bay, or Taupo, overwhelmed by a sense of panic and impending doom. Hell, try explaining to half of NZ that the traffic lights often don't work in Bali and see the utter confusion.....

There really seems to be a rather urgent need for someone in New Zealand to loudly scream ‘get a grip, for god’s sake’.

The nation revels in these things. Returning to NZ in the past few years there seemed to be a kind of national disappointment that the nation hadn’t been selected for a visitation of the, to date, rather more deadly (althought in real terms extraordinarily rare) Bird Flu. Here in Indonesia of course, where the disease had hit rather harder than anywhere else, where people actually live and sleep with their fowl, there was no sense of panic to speak of. Instead sensible culling and regional precautions were the order of the day.

In New Zealand it was something rather different. There was a mild national panic, and folks battened down. And there was a tangible sense of national disappointment that NZ hadn’t got the nod for a visit from the virus. The nation, and the media seemed to be jumping up and down and hollering ‘us, us!’ as if a visitation would give the country some sense of mattering.

We, here in Bali, were subjected to relentless questions from NZ asking if we were ‘alright’ (after, of course the questioning had died down as to whether we’d survived the tsunami intact…many of my countrymen are very geographically challenged).

Of course it wasn’t to be. Isolated and extraordinarily clean New Zealand was probably the least likely breeding ground or festering zone for bird flu on the planet. And NZ felt somehow left out.

And so now, despite the fact that millions of folks cross the US-Mexico border daily, and that Mexico has a population of 110 million, 1000 folks have come down with this flu (and that number is unconfirmed) and about 20 in the US..and NZ has, uhhh, 20 cases. You can almost feel that national relief…we really do matter….

I may sound callous, but I think, regardless of whether these test positive or not, a little reality and perspective needs to intrude into this.

The best comments to date come from Juha Saarinen on Twitter, who asked ‘Would it be all right to call in sick with wine flu, if you've been out a bit too long the night before?’, and Gareth Ward on Public Address with ‘God help us all if Tony Veith gets swine flu’ (don’t worry..only New Zealanders get that one).

Of course, inevitably, it’s all gone partisan in the USA.

Just as of course, this is all going to turn nasty and I’m going be seen as some sort of inhuman bastard for posting any of this.