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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Texas Court Okay's "Upskirt" Photographs

The highest criminal court in Texas struck down part of a law banning “upskirt” photos earlier this month. The judges argued that taking photos in public without permission are entitled to be protected by the First Amendment. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals panel ruled that outlawing “improper photography or visual recording” would be a violation of federal free-speech rights and a “paternalistic” effort to regulate the photographers’ thoughts.

Texas court throws out "upskirt" photo law, because banning creepshots is "paternalistic"“The camera is essentially the photographer’s pen and paintbrush,” Judge Sharon Keller wrote in the court’s 8-1 opinion. “A person’s purposeful creation of photographs and visual recordings is entitled to the same First Amendment protection as the photographs and visual recordings themselves.”

The Houston Chronicle has reported that the case involved Ronald Thompson, who was charged with 26 counts of improper photography in 2011 after taking underwater photos of swimsuit-clad children at a San Antonio water park. Thompson challenged the constitutionality of the improper photography ban before his case even went to trial, claiming that “a plain reading of the law would place street photographers, entertainment journalists, arts patrons, pep rally attendees and ‘even the harmless eccentric’ at risk of incarceration.”

Prosecutors argued that the law’s intent (for example, trying to do something unlawful like taking an illicit photo of someone without their consent) should place the “expressive activity” outside the bounds of First Amendment protection. But, according to the appeals panel, protecting citizens from being made the subject of “expressive” surreptitious photography unknowingly or without permission is actually the government’s way of protecting them from being thought of sexually, which runs the risk of infringing upon other people’s First Amendment rights.

“Protecting someone who appears in public from being the object of sexual thoughts seems to be the sort of ‘paternalistic interest in regulating the defendant’s mind’ that the First Amendment was designed to guard against,” Keller wrote. “We also keep in mind the Supreme Court’s admonition that the forms of speech that are exempt from First Amendment protection are limited, and we should not be quick to recognize new categories of unprotected expression.”

The court has made the ultimate decision to loosen the law so that any form of photograph taken in public is called ‘art’, and is an expression of their thoughts and creativity. So we mustn’t restrict photos taken in public because their images are protected under their First Amendment right. The court has made a giant leap and has left a lot of unprotected grey area. People should be able to express themselves through photography in public, but their right to do so shouldn’t infringe on others rights.

You have the right to more or less do anything you want, express yourself through a range of interactions and presentations, as long as those actions don’t intrude on someone else’s right to not have to you interfere in their life. While they have said it is okay to take photos of clothed, swimming children, they have also said it is okay to take photos up female skirts and down their blouses. Should that be right?

Which was once a crime is now legal.

You have to go to great efforts of secrecy and camera positioning to get away with taking these crude and unwanted images. When these women get up in the morning and decide to put a skirt on they weren’t sending everyone an open invitation to take very low angle images up their skirts. So why should people taking these images get these images labelled as an expression through art?

I completely understand that fact that there is nothing stopping each and every one of us from having crude thoughts about complete strangers we see on the street. While those images can figuratively stay in our minds doesn’t mean we should go to arm’s length to make a hard copy.

The situation here all along is whether people’s actions are intruding on someone else’s personal freedom. And when someone has to make great efforts to portray someone as they didn’t intend to be portrays when they left their home that morning, well that is an invasion of their personal rights and freedom.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Election 2014 – Three More Years of Stable Centre-Right Government

Last night’s victory will be recorded in history as a mile stone for New Zealand politics. National did what they shouldn’t have achieved under MMP; they’ve achieved the ability to govern alone – 61 seats in the 120 seat parliament (of 121 if United Future is an overhang).

We have three more years of stable centre-right government.

Overall it was a victory for the centre right, not just because of Nationals self-governing victory but because of the loss of the Internet-Mana party. A party that came out with such personal hatred towards John Key and the National Party with a lot of funding couldn’t return their candidate or reach the 5 percent threshold to return to parliament.

The left bloc now needs to review themselves if they want to win the next election. Labour and the Greens are the two parties that need to work together to be able to form a stable left wing government. Unfortunately they keep splitting apart and fracture their vote making it more of a challenge for them to get the numbers to govern.

But there is no doubt that the country preferred a right wing government. With National at more than 48% of the votes and Conservatives just above 4% shows a clear majority before you add on the single membered parties. Although the Conservatives haven’t made it into parliament, they are the reason that National are able to govern alone because their vote was wasted.

National ran a campaign that was risky. They did it three years ago as well and only just managed to form a government, and they have done it again this year and historically did even better. MMP was created by the German’s after WWII to make it very hard for a single party to be able to govern alone, because single parties just don’t tend to get half the vote (especially when there are so many parties).

Three years ago National weren’t clear about whether they supported ACT in Epsom which left ACT voters unsure of whether to vote ACT, so they tended towards the Conservatives because they were polling better (ACT voters don’t like to waste their vote). ACT was going to win in Epsom anyway, but it was the public confidence that reduced their party vote turning a party with five MPs into a party of one.

Looking ahead to the next election, if the National want to keep governing they will need to work with their friends in the minor parties to secure the government, or they can continue to play a risky campaign and go all in.

If the Conservatives stay around for the next election they need to play as a team. Whilst both the Conservative and ACT Party are only campaigning for voters on the right instead of convincing those on the left, there is going to be a little competition between each other for the party vote, but they could help each other in the electorates.

The Conservatives caused more damage in this election than good. Firstly they played a strong game in Napier, a good National seat, but they didn’t get anywhere. They split the right wing vote and allowed for an easy Labour victory. They cheated the people of Napier out of having a representative in the government. And then with their party vote, where they could have been eligible for 4-5 seats, it was wasted and those seats were redistributed to the eligible parties – not all would have gone to National.

While the right wing bloc is stronger than the left, the support for the small parties have dwindled which is a concern for the future of centre-right governments.

MMP is here to stay; we had a chance to change that last time and said no. So this is the style of campaigning and government formations we have to work with.

While we are just getting started with a fresh government term, there are going to be a few parties going into recovery mode to gain a better result at the next election.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Washington DC School's Outrageous Homework

Who ever drew this up, and all the teachers who handed it out to their students must have no self respect, pride or integrity.

A Washington DC public school handed this piece of homework out to 6th graders to complete.

Their task was to compare George W. Bush to Hitler.

Now I don't care if you opposed ever aspect of President Bush's tenor as President. I really don't care. To compare him to Hitler through tacky art during street protest is disgraceful enough, but to actively compare similarities in a public school, you've got to be clinically ill.

Who ever put that sheet together should be fired, and the teachers who gave it out should be cut loose.

President Bush didn't enter into office to go to war, he entered into office to be an education President and better children across the US. But it was yesterday, September 11, that changed the course of his leadership.

Whether you agree with his actions or not, he was doing everything he could to protect the future of the US from terror attacks. And during his time in office he succeed, no questions asked.

This comparison is a disgrace, and even more of a disgrace being from the US school, even more a public school.

This really made my heart sink - shame on you for putting this together.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Are You Already Bending Over? Get Out And Vote!

With less than two months to the election, have you decided who to vote for? Even more, are you going to vote?

The first question I want you to ask yourself, do you know your Member of Parliament?

Alright, do you know who else wants to represent you and your electorate?

Now that you know who to talk to in your electorate, check out the parties. Which party do you like? Will that party work well with the candidate you’re backing in your electorate?

If you have ignored those last few questions, let me tell you, it isn't too late to make a difference. And by taking a little bit of time to review those questions could help.

With more people voting means that we have a better represented country. Your voice can be heard, but only if you cast your vote.

Voter turnout was low last time and that resulted in a tight government, nearly 50/50, we could have had three years where nothing happened, it could have stalled our country, cost the country for nothing.

Voter turnout can still be improved.

Enough people stayed at home at the last election that could have changed the results. You could have strengthened our current government or completely changed the winning team.

Many young people may feel like saying “I can’t be bothered to vote cause none of the parties say stuff I’m interested in.”

That’s because you don’t vote!

That’s like saying “I’ll stop flicking soggy cornflakes at you when you stop looking so annoyed and, ah … milky.”

The reason why is because, aside from money, the only things that politicians need are votes.

If you’re not a source of votes then they don’t care about you, they’re not going to listen to your wants, needs or demands.

I vote for the same reason I’d punch a bear that was trying to eat me. I don’t think it would make a difference to the outcome, but at least that way it doesn't look like I don’t want to be eaten by a bear.

There are many dead beats running in this election that could get some traction because you stayed home.

Just like I don’t think you should give a gun to a parrot, if someone else gave a gun to a parrot, I would watch!

It is probably not the best choice for the country, but in the run up to the election watching the parrot with a gun would be great entertainment. But it is our job to ensure that parrot is disarmed after the election.

If some keeps stirring up the fear of ghost, the way to deal with that is by turning on the lights and saying “there is no such thing as ghost!”

But parties trying to buy you will go: ‘We’ll be tough on ghost as well!’

They don’t want to lose your vote; they don’t want to tarnish that vote. You've got to look through the hazy mist and find reality within your party choice.

So please, please vote. Let’s show the world how it is done. I don’t care who you vote for. I don’t care if you don’t vote for a party. Spoil your ballot, write ‘none of the above’ on it, whatever (within reason), at least you are sending some sort of message. Cause if you don’t vote the only message you’re sending is ‘do what you want, I'm already bending over.”

Material mostly by Nick Doody.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Israel Isn't The Bad Guy

I’ve now reached the point where I get personally angry when I see anti-Israeli remarks, and they seem so crude and hurtful.

Their number one argument is simply not enough Israelis have died compared to those living in Gaza. That is it; if there were more Israeli blood shed everyone would be happy. But that is ungodly of us, to call for the death of one race to justify another.

More Israelis haven’t been killed because they installed the Iron Dome defence shield which aims to destroy rockets before they hit Israeli infrastructure. Israel has rocket sirens that give their people 10 – 15 seconds to take cover, shelter on the side of the road or run to one of the many rocket shelters set up across the country.

Israel has invested wisely in protecting their people as best they can.

Hamas, on the other hand, don’t care about the people living around them. They use them as political toys to look like the targeted one.

When Israel sends warning to the people of Gaza to evacuate before the Israeli Defence Force takes out their target, Hamas gets everyone to stay and brings children nearer to the attack sight. There is no justification in any of the actions Hamas make.

If the leading forces in Gaza wanted to protect their citizens then why haven’t they built rocket shelters? Why don’t they have warning systems in place? Why aren’t they stopping the terrorist amongst them from firing rockets upon their neighbours?

It is because the leaders amongst them don’t care about their people, they just care about destroying Israel. Any deaths on their side are mere sacrifices in their eyes, Allah would be proud, I guess.

Because Hamas won’t look after the people they live around, Israel has too. It is Israel who is ensuring supplies are still in the region; it is Israel who has set up medical facilities to treat those who need help; and it is Israel who is warning the Gaza people before conflict strikes. Not Hamas.

I just don’t understand how Israel can default to being the bad guy here. They just seem to do a better job defending their people than their neighbours.

All Israel wants is peace, and they’ve been willing to relinquish control of land before for peace, but the Palestinian leaders didn’t accept their offer in 2000 and responded by sending suicide bombers into Israel to cause destruction.

Israel has given up control of land before; they returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt when they agreed for peace in the 1970s. Israel is a country of their word.

Oh, and when it comes to humanitarian response is it Hamas officials aiding in Japan after the tsunami? Was it Hamas soldiers in Haiti helping after their earthquake? Did Hamas soldiers also go to Christchurch, NZ and Chile it assist in their earthquake recovery need? No. It was specified Israel Defence Force officials who came to assist.

Israel is always one of the first to send foreign aid to any disaster. They sent water purification units with doctor to Japan; they set up hospitals in Haiti; and sent trauma experts to Boston after the marathon bombings.

Israel has got the worlds back, even though the world doesn’t have Israel’s.

Israeli Defence Force officials have set out to try and end the 9 year building conflict from Hamas. They are going to cripple their weapon storage facilities and lock off their underground network of tunnels to prevent them getting to Israel.

Israel is doing their job as a nation, they’re protecting their people and, in the long run, they’re protecting those who live in Gaza. The international community may have been blinded from the thousands of rocket that have been launched at Israel, and have only noticed the ones Israel as accurately pin pointed to take out Hamas rocket and weapon storing sights. But Israel will keep defending herself, and will continue to help the people of Gaza where their leaders can’t.

All of this conflict can end with a peace agreement. Cease fires have been made, but they have been broken, because Hamas wants Israel to be dead and that is what is stopping peace in the Middle East.

Israel have been the first to lay down their guns before, they have reached out their hand to offer peace. But quickly have the guns been pointed back at Israel just as they’ve put theirs down to try and destroy them in a window of vulnerability.

This is a battle between one side wanting peace, and the other wants the other side dead.

Israel isn’t the bad guy.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Everyone Wants A Two State Solution

Is a two state solution really going to happen?

The raging in the Middle East is all about land ownership that stretches back many millenniums. Peace deals have been made, sacrifices have been put on the table, but no agreement has ever been found.

During the 80s and 90s Israel made ultimate sacrifice offers to Palestine, they were meeting nearly all the demands made by Palestinian leaders but were turned down because there was still going to be a Jewish State.

Hamas, Palestinian and neighbouring leaders are all willing to let their people suffer because they hold grudges that stretch well beyond anyone's life time.

Because pain and suffering has been the preferred option over any peace settlement, one nation is going to fall.

I hope I'm wrong, the city of Jerusalem shows us that Muslims, Jews and Christians alike can live next to one another in peace. But many tall poppies in the Middle East can't stand knowing that their kind are mixing with others.

The Jewish people were given a helping hand after millenniums of being pushed around and being used. They were given land which they have made the most of. They have turned it into a land of growth and innovation. And they have protected those who live their.

Many want Israel to return to its original border which is a small strip of land at the bottom of a hill that sides with the sea. Completely indefensible, it would be the beginning of the end for a Jewish State.

A nation is going to fall. The world has already taken sides.

If the Jewish State is relinquished then the world would lose access to a site that many hold to be sacred to our beginning.

Humanity will stand still.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Two Weeks In Australia - What Have I learnt?

Food tends to cost more.

I've been living on the rough and have been relying on Supermarkets to piece together most of my meals, and my first observation is that food isn't cheaper in Australia. It seems more expensive, if not the same.

First observation, coleslaw is costly here! I wanted to make sandwiches with deli meat and coleslaw. I could get 100 grams of chicken luncheon for $3 - that seemed reasonable. Then, at Coles, for a small container of
coleslaw was $4! That seemed a lot especially since they sell it for about 89 cents per 100 grams at Countdown.

And their fresh cheese buns were around $4 for four - these home made sandwiches are getting costly.

Then, for the rest of my shop I felt the dollar figure on the items were about the same. Tim Tam's, two for $5 was the same; and fruit seemed about the same. But, I would have thought that it would have been cheaper than in New Zealand, especially with their dollar being stronger (even though not by much at the moment ...)

But if you take food out of the equation, so much else is cheaper!

The ferry's in and out of Sydney are cheaper than in Auckland - and they're always full.

New car prices are lower! The new Renault Clio is priced around AU$20,000 instead of NZ$26,990 across the ditch.

Living in Sydney seemed more affordable than living in Auckland.

The train to Canberra was affordable and relatively nice (not as good as the NYC to Washington DC first class service), it made a lot of noises that made me think I was on a pig farm at times. But you can't find that service in NZ simply because it isn't viable back home in improve our rail ways to speed up our trains.

Petrol - less than $1.50 per litre. I know that when I get back home I'm going to see petrol around $2.20 per litre because of a new 3 cent tax. We have a lot of our taxes built into our pump price that Aussie doens't, but were Aussie price rate makers more lenient at lowering the price of petrol when the oil price plummeted and the dollar strengthened?

This trip has made me realise that I could live in Sydney, I would love to live in Canberra. There are more entry points into my career path than in New Zealand. But that one thing that Aussie doesn't have is New Zealand - paradise.

Every country has it's own beauty, they're scenic in their own ways. But you can't beat paradise, New Zealand has it all!

I doesn't matter where I live and work, New Zealand will always be home.


I forgot to say that Canberra has the worlds BEST memorials!

And, most importantly, I met some of the greatest people! A retired news reader kept me company on the four hour train ride to Sydney; a local DJ interviewed me in class; I got the chance to work with an up and coming actress (who will definitely be a star soon!); had strong encouragement from peers, teachers, politicians and business people alike; and had the great privilege to work with the greatest little group as we all start to commence out media careers!