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Archive for October, 2014

Sex, drugs, hookers and dope bring Italy out of recession…

Reuters / Maurizio Belli

Sex, drugs &… Hookers, dope bring Italy out of recession

Illegal economic activities such as drugs and prostitution are apparently responsible for having lifted Italy out of economic recession. EU data calculations have demonstrated that the black market has significantly boosted GDP figures.

Italy is technically no longer in economic recession because of the addition of figures from illegal activities.
While Italy’s office for national statistics (ISTAT) confirmed that “in the second quarter of 2014 the seasonally and calendar adjusted, chained volume measure of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decreased by 0.2 percent,” GDP rose marginally from a 0.1 percent decline for the year’s first quarter to a flat reading.

This means that Italy has avoided its third potential recession in the past six years, a likely relief for the government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, which has been struggling with reforms while keeping the deficit low in accordance with EU agreements.

Italy also noted that, “Compared to the first quarter of 2014, final consumption expenditure increased by 0.1 percent, gross fixed capital formation decreased by 0.9 percent; imports and exports increased by 0.8 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.”

Undeclared market revenues could further reduce the apparent Italian debt to GDP ratio, according to AFP. It currently stands at 132 percent – more than double the 60 percent required by the EU ceiling.

Italy’s office of national statistics announced in May that from October it would be including revenues from “illegal activities: drug trafficking, prostitution and smuggling services (cigarettes or alcohol)” to its GDP.

Contemporary estimates from Eurostat suggested that the move could add up to 2 percent to Italy’s GDP.

The new system known as the European System of National and Regional Accounts (ESA 2010), an “internationally compatible EU accounting framework,” was established with the aim of facilitating data comparisons regardless of whether countries had legalized drugs or prostitution.

Countries which have made the practices legal already, such as the Netherlands and Hungary, include both in their GDP figures.

Oh poor old Judith Collins…

Our Lorde reflects on a fantastic year’s achievements…


The mind tends to boggle a bit when you think about the various things Lorde has achieved.

In a seemingly insubstantial amount of time, she’s not only conquered the charts and won two Grammy Awards, but she’s now gracing the cover of iconic magazines like Rolling Stone and Elle.

Just in the past month, there was the parody by “Weird Al” Yankovic; then she popped up on South Park, in not one episode, but two.

In just over a year, she’s gone from playing no shows at all to playing the biggest stages on Earth and festivals like Coachella and Lolapalooza.

At the end of the month, she’s bringing her world-conquering show back to New Zealand – back home, playing Christchurch, Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland.

David Farrier was at the very first show Ella Yelich-O’Connor ever played at a tiny bar in Auckland.

Now, a year later, he sat down with her in Los Angeles to ask how it’s all going.

Watch the full interview:  Lorde on Hunger Games, South Park and her career.


  • October 27: Christchurch – Horncastle Arena
  • October 29: Dunedin – Town Hall
  • October 31: Wellington – TSB Bank Arena
  • November 1: Auckland – Vector Arena

Others Are Watching

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It’s a little girl with a book…

Australian rugby in turmoil with coach Ewen Mckenzie denying affair with official – Kurtley beale text row deepend…

Coach Ewen McKenzie denies Kurtley Beale row has undermined his position and bristles when he asked if he’s been involved in “intimate” relationship with Di Patston…


Australian rugby in turmoil with coach Ewen McKenzie denying affair with official as Kurtley Beale text row deepens

Not a happy bunny: Ewen McKenzie bristles at affair suggestions Photo: AFP

Australia coach Ewen McKenzie has been forced to deny having an intimate relationship with a Wallabies team official in an extraordinary news conference on Friday.

The press gathering was supposed to focus almost exclusively on Kurtley Beale’s suspension. Beale faces disciplinary action stemming from a row with team business manager Di Patston on a flight to South America for last week’s Rugby Championship clash against Argentina. That became a secondary issue, however, when the talented back was suspended on Thursday over allegations he had distributed “deeply offensive” text messages about a ‘team official’ in June.

Patston, on indefinite sick leave, has not been identified as the target of the text messages but reports in Australian media suggest her close relationship with McKenzie caused friction in the squad.

McKenzie denies the Beale row has undermined his position with the players and bristled when asked directly whether he has been involved in an “intimate” relationship with Patston.

“I’ve got a professional relationship with her and I refute that,” he said, barely containing his anger

“There are people out there and there’s some sort of campaign to impugn that that’s the situation. I’ve got a professional relationship with her and that’s all.”

McKenzie also described as “false” reports that he was aware of the text messages in June, long before they were brought to the attention of senior Australian Rugby Union officials this week.

“I became aware of the existence of the text messages in Buenos Aires (last week). I know the content, I haven’t seen the photos,” he said. “When I became aware of it I forwarded the information on.”

In a further blow to Australian rugby, reports even suggest the cash-strapped ARU could be insolvent by 2015.

Numerous high-ranking sources are claiming that a presentation at the ARU annual general meeting several months ago pointed out how Australian rugby is in financial strife.

The presentation explained that an “unsustainable business model based on periodic windfalls” and diminishing revenue was “leading to insolvency in 2015”. The ARU listed one of its key challenges for the next year as avoiding insolvency in 2015. Earlier this month, a senior ARU official told colleagues of the fear that, by April next year, the ARU “could run out of cash”.

Amongst all the turmoil, McKenzie has named his squad for next week’s Test against New Zealand and fly-half Quade Cooper has been recalled following Beale’s suspension.

McKenzie has also included four uncapped players in wingers Tom English and Henry Speight, centre Kyle Godwin and prop Tetera Faulkner.

Fiji-born Speight, who qualified for Australia in September, will join the squad to familiarise himself with the set-up but will not be considered for selection as he continues recuperation from a hamstring injury.

No 8 Ben McCalman has been ruled out for the rest of the year by a shoulder injury he sustained against the Springboks two weeks ago. Luke Jones, who won his only cap against France in June, comes into the squad to reinforce the back row, along with Jake Schatz. Centre Matt Toomua joins McKenzie’s long injury list after taking a knock on the head in the defeat to Argentina.

It has been suggested that the Beale situation has become divisive in the Wallabies camp, which is still reeling from last week’s 21-17 defeat to Argentina.

But McKenzie insists: “I don’t think I have a divided camp.”

He added: “I know there’s been lots of talk in the newspapers and everyone’s got an opinion, but I know the playing group.”

“I’ve been open and frank in my time so if there’s an issue, obviously we’ll flesh them out.”

Australia have lost their last two matches in the Rugby Championship, to South Africa and Argentina, and have dropped to fourth in the world rankings as a consequence.

McKenzie, however, still believes his team is making progress and regrets that the Beale row has become such a distraction in the run-up to the New Zealand match.

“I’m annoyed because in the end we’re trying to run a football programme and it’s got sidetracked in many different ways,” he said.

“It’s frustrating but there is challenge to get that back on track. I’ll accept that challenge and get on with it.”

Australia squad

Forwards: Ben Alexander, Tetera Faulkner, Sekope Kepu, Benn Robinson, James Slipper, Saia Fainga’a, James Hanson, Josh Mann-Rea, Sam Carter, James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Will Skelton, Scott Fardy, Scott Higginbotham, Matt Hodgson, Michael Hooper (capt), Luke Jones, Jake Schatz

Backs: Will Genia, Nick Phipps, Nic White, Quade Cooper, Bernard Foley, Kyle Godwin, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Leali’ifano, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tom English, Israel Folau, Rob Horne, Henry Speight, Joe Tomane

New Zealand squad

Forwards: Dane Coles, Nathan Harris, Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Joe Moody, Brodie Retallick, Jeremy Thrush, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane, Jerome Kaino, Steven Luatua, Richie McCaw, Liam Messam, Kieran Read

Backs: TJ Perenara, Augustine Pulu, Aaron Smith, Aaron Cruden, Beauden Barrett, Colin Slade, Ryan Crotty, Conrad Smith, Malakai Fekitoa, Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Charles Piutau, Julian Savea

There are lies, more lies and John key fibs?

Truth lies

Truth lies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


John Key fibs:

CTU calls on police, Worksafe for Pike River re-entry…


There has been a call for police and WorkSafe New Zealand to take over the re-entry of Pike River mine.

The move has come from the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) as the families grow more concerned mine owner Solid Energy won’t go back in.

CTU has always backed the families in their fight to get back into the mine.

Now they have taken it to a new level, writing to police and WorkSafe NZ, requesting them to take over the re-entry to the mine where 29 men died.

“So this activity has been privatised to Solid [Energy],” says CTU president Helen Kelly. “They’ve mucked everybody around with this process and we are now calling on WorkSafe and the police to make their own assessments, and if they think it’s safe, make their own entry into the drift.”

Ms Kelly’s letter to police says: “We are unclear why, when the investigation into this accident is incomplete, the decisions on re-entry have been left to a private company.”

The Pike families believe Solid Energy is getting ready to announce it is abandoning re-entry to the mine’s drift, or tunnel, in spite of WorkSafe declaring it safe to go in.

The company’s concerns about structural instability inside the mine, the lack of a second egress, and potentially volatile gasses have appeared recently in the media.

It is information the families have been fighting to get and now they say the company has undertaken to give them the same material.

“We should have been provided with that information right from the beginning,” says Pike families’ spokeswoman Carol Rose. “We have been in fortnightly meetings with Solid Energy and they have known about these issues for some time but they’ve not been raised with the family group.”

Pike families have their own experts who believe re-entry is possible.  They are overseas and the families are now trying to get hold of them again to go over the new information Solid Energy is now providing.

As for the request for the police and WorkSafe to take over the re-entry, police are considering their response, and WorkSafe says it finished its investigation and it is not its job to undertake recovery activity.

Read more:

A tale of two prime ministers – very different views on medical cannabis

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has thrown his support behind the legalisation of cannabis for medical purposes.In a letter to talkback radio host Alan Jones, Mr Abbott went even further than NSW Premier Mike Baird – who has approved a clinical trial of the use of medical cannabis – by saying that no further testing should be needed on the drug if it is legal in similar jurisdictions.

“I have no problem with the medical use of cannabis, just as I have no problem with the medical use of opiates,” Mr Abbott wrote in a letter to Jones dated August 23.

“I was under the impression that the personal use of cannabis was no longer an offence in NSW.

“If a drug is needed for a valid medicinal purpose though and is being administered safely there should be no question of its legality. And if a drug that is proven to be safe abroad is needed here it should be available.

“I agree that the regulation of medicines is a thicket of complexity, bureaucracy and corporate and institutional self interest.

“My basic contention is that something that has been found to be safe in a reliable jurisdiction shouldn’t need to be tested again here.”

Jones read out the letter from Mr Abbott – who has not commented publicly on the issue before – on his 2GB breakfast program on Wednesday. The influential presenter has been campaigning on behalf of 24-year-old Dan Haslam, who has been using cannabis to relieve nausea associated with chemotherapy to treat his terminal cancer.

Mr Abbott’s intervention was welcomed by Mr Haslam’s mother, Lucy, who has launched a popular online petition to decriminalise cannabis for pain relief.

Read more

And on the other side of the ditch John  Key has his head up his proverbial…