Monday, July 27, 2009
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Health: Controversy Over Mandatory Fortification Of Bread With "Wheat"
Prime Minister John Key has stalled plans for the mandatory inclusion of "wheat" in bread.
"Wheat" is a naturally-occurring substance, rich in protein and carbohydrates. It also includes fibre and nutrients such as iron, zinc and vitamin B9 (also known as folic acid) which are not found in most New Zealand bread. Wheat is added to baked goods in many European countries.
Only organic bread would have been exempt from the requirement.
There has been a growing media storm over the issue. After mixed messages from Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson, Key stepped in and decisively announced further consultation followed by three more years of just basically doing nothing.
While public health experts are in favour of fortification, some opponents have described this plan to give everyone medication as 'mass medication'.
Food industry representatives praised Key's decision, saying the original idea was ridiculous.
"I mean, what's next?" asked one. "Chocolate made with cocoa butter?"
There have been no announcements on more recent plans to improve the nation's literacy by fortifying bread with spelt flour.
Law Reform: Power Proposes New "Being A Total Jerk" Offence
Following widespread public disapproval of the conduct of Clayton Weatherston's murder trial, Justice Minister Simon Power has announced plans for a new offence of "acting like a complete wanker".
"New Zealanders have made their opinion clear," said Power, "it's one thing to brutally murder a fellow human being. But if everyone knows you did it, you should at least pretend to be sorry. Or shut up."
"The rest of the vicious narcissistic murderers can sort that out. If somebody can't, their sentences should reflect that kind of gratuitous asshattery."
"At the end of the day, there's no law against conducting your defence as you see fit, within the rules of the court," said the Minister.
"That's a loophole we hope to clear up soon."
Power has also asked the Law Commission to investigate using the number of TV hours on a trial and its aftermath as an exacerbating factor in sentencing. TV hours are allocated partly by national importance, and partly by trained hamsters.
Politics: Raising Profile Maybe Not Such A Good Idea After All - Goff
Phil Goff, who according to the Labour research unit is the leader of the opposition, has reportedly spent the weekend wondering if drawing attention to himself is in fact good for his image.
Phil Goff had announced a plan of abolishing the income threshold for the dole, from which he later backtracked. In an article in the New Zealand Herald the policy had as its 'needy' poster-child a man who turned out to own several properties.
According to later versions of the article on the Herald website, the Labour Party secretly inserted the original article into the newspaper during the typesetting phase. An embarrassed Herald is reportedly considering a 'research' capability to 'investigate' future stories, though sources admit this would be radical departure. "Our subeditor is quite busy as it is," said one, "the poor thing's so stressed he's gone off his kibble".
The incident is likely to prove an ongoing political embarrassment to Labour and to hamper the party's media relations. Goff, however, intends to persevere.
"After all," he said, "the polls couldn't be worse."
Climate Change: New Zealand To Stand On Proud Record Of Doing Nothing
In the face of mounting international consensus on the need for action on climate change, New Zealand intends to rely on its reputation for vague intentions backed by no action.
After the results of widespread public consultation favour strong action, Climate Change Minister Nick Smith has explained that New Zealand's emissions target should take into account the way "we haven't done anything towards it in the past and don't want to do anything in the future."
Since human-induced climate change was recognised as a problem, New Zealand has failed to introduce a carbon tax, then briefly introduced an emissions trading scheme, until we realised it wasn't watered-down enough.
"This Government has delayed the ETS and taken a range of other policy decisions such as cutting funding for public transport," said Smith, "So really, we're starting at a disadvantage. Is that fair?"
"Let me be clear: Doing nothing is no longer an option," he said.
"The time has come to do as little as possible."
Welfare: Key Describes Wife As "Solo Mum"
In a hard-hitting interview with the Dominion Post, John Key has described his wife Bronagh as a "solo mother".
The Prime Minister and self-confessed deadbeat dad apparently did not mean to suggest that the mother of his children was scraping by on the DPB or a series of low-paying part time jobs without support from a father and wondering where the next meal is going to come from.
My Key later clarified his comments, say that he is quite in touch, actually.
Asked whether the "solo mum" line was written for him by a trained hamster, Mr Key answered in the affirmative, saying that he had come up with it himself.