Monday, 31 January 2011

Lefties look to dredge up the past

Caustic beneficiaries activist Sue Bradford isn't ruling out attempting a political comeback, if a new extreme left-wing party manages to get off the ground.

The red-for-life-Bradford spent a decade as a list MP for the "Green" party, before quitting in 2009 after losing out to Metiria Turei for the co-leadership position.

She has confirmed there are ongoing discussions about a new left-wing party, but won't say who's involved. Former New Labour/Alliance power browker Matt McCarten is another likely to be involved in any new party. McCarten is currently the national secretary of the Unite Union (hospitality and retail workers), and stood as an Independent candidate in the Mana by-election last October.

The old Alliance Party still exists, but struggles to garner support from the electorate, gaining just 0.08% of the vote in the 2008 General Election. However left-wing backers believe they can ease concerns over "wasted votes" and attract more support for a new party if they have a chance of gaining an electorate seat (meaning they don't need to reach the 5% MMP vote threshold).

Hone Harawira's showdown with the Maori Party hierarchy is seen as a timely "in" for the loopy-lefters, who believe his Te Tai Tokerau could be their potential doorway back to Parliament. Harawira's future in the Maori Party will be discussed tomorrow by its disciplinary and disputes committee, altho Harawira wasn't saying whether he'd be attending.

But while Bradford and Harawira may find some common ground over areas like a higher minimum wage and bigger welfare handouts, the two agendas may have difficulty working in tandem longterm, particurlary if that relationship ever included being part of a Government.

As David Farrar points out, voters are unlikely to willingly back a Goff-led Government which required the support of all of Russel Norman, Metiria Turei, Hone Harawira, Sue Bradford, and Winston Peters to pass any laws.

* Stuff: Bradford confirms Leftist party talk

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Monday, 17 January 2011

Thousands grin and bare for No Pants 2011

Despite freezing winter temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere, thousands turned out for the 10th Annual No Pants Subway Ride on January 9th 2011.

Organised by comedy/prank group Improv Everywhere, participants have to ride the subway (or similar mass public transport system in their city), but without wearing pants (as in the trouser-variety... suitable underwear is a definite must!)

New York City is the hub of the annual event, with an estimated 3,500 people taking part in 'No Pants 2K11'. The riders were split into six different locations across the city to begin their subway ride, which covered 10 lines before converging on Union Square. Apparently at some stations, the number of pant-less people outnumbered the bewildered clothed travellers.

Thousands of other travellers also took part in at least 50 cities in 24 countries around the world, including London, Adelaide, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Mexico City, Las Vegas, Chicago, Seoul, Stockholm and Wellington, New Zealand.

The challenge for riders was to keep a straight face and "act normally" on their pants-less commute. Many participants read newspapers and books, listened to music, and casually chatted with friends on the train.

If they were asked by other subway riders why they were dressed that way, participants were asked to say they were "feeling uncomfortable" or simply "forgot their pants".

Improv Everywhere says their aim is to cause "scenes of chaos and joy in public places". The No Pants Subway Ride is their highest profile and most popular annual stunt.

Official No Pants 2K11 video from Improv Everywhere...

2011 No Pants Subway Ride: Train

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Sunday, 16 January 2011

Starbucks dumps the Coffee

Coffee giant Starbucks has annoyed loyal customers with its latest logo revamp. The international coffee chain has dropped the "Starbucks" brand name from its new logo, along with the word "coffee". Only the green twin-tailed mermaid siren remains, as the company looks to expand its market offerings.

The changes will be rolled out worldwide, following trials in Starbucks' home base of Seattle, Washington. Three stores were "debranded" and remodelled as local coffee houses. One on Capitol Hill also serves wine and beer, along with hosting live music and poetry readings. Starbucks has also overhauled its menu in the United States, adding salads and healthier baked goods.

Starbucks last changed its distinctive logo in 1992, but the 2011 upgrade hasn't impressed fans of the coffee chain. Hundreds of complaints have been posted on the company's American website, along with plans to bombard Starbucks with complaints by phone and snail mail.

The logo change has been prompted by plans by Starbucks to build new brands, as well as promoting the company's other brands including instant coffee label VIA "Ready Brew" and Seattle's Best Coffee.

Experts say the nameless logo may not hurt sales at Starbucks stores, but could be a bad fit for Starbucks products sold in grocery stores and other retail outlets.
Meanwhile, the chain has also hit the headlines for its new oversized 31-ounce (916 ml) beverage size, which is apparently larger than the average human stomach. Customers will be able to select the 'Trenta' size for Iced coffee, Iced Tea, and Iced tea lemonade drinks.

The Trenta has already been rolled out in 14 states across the United States, and will go nationwide there from May. (No word yet on whether the Trenta will also be added to international Starbucks stores. The 24 ounce Venti is currently the largest size available outside the US).

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