Dita DeBoni: The smear campaign against people who oppose the TPPA has almost stifled proper debate

As film reviewers have noted, making a dark, gripping and bleakly funny romp out of the Global Financial Crisis of 2007/8 is no easy task, but one of the best films out this summer, The Big Short, certainly manages it.

It's already widely known that the GFC was caused by an explosion of sub-prime, or bad mortgages and other products, often bundled together, given phony AA ('very safe') ratings, and on-sold to unsuspecting investors.

The housing market became propped up on these illusory financial products until the bubble burst, causing the whole market to collapse and almost tanking the US economy.

It was foreseen by so few people – and those that could see it were derided as bananas - Dita DeBoni

Most of the world continues to grapple with the fallout from the GFC today.

The Big Short tells this sometimes complex story from the point of view of a few oddball outsiders – including one called Michael Burry.

Burry – a real-life person – was one of the few to take a proper look at the loans that had been bundled together and realise they would never be paid back.

He visits all the top investment banks in New York, negotiating with them to pay him out if the housing market collapses.

In the middle of high times, and convinced housing is a safe bet, they accept his seemingly bizarre wager while laughing him out of the room.

The Labour leader says the TPP is cutting across New Zealand’s democratic rights. Source: Breakfast

His idea is picked up by a handful of other mavericks, some of whom set out to investigate the supposedly booming housing market and find loan sharks, families on the brink of disaster and strippers owning multiple properties, geared up to the hilt.

The ending is as tragic as it is inevitable (although lucrative for the few who had seen it coming). 

The interesting thing to me about this movie – and about the whole debacle that underpins the GFC – is that it was foreseen by so few people – and those that could see it were derided as bananas.

The nay-sayers weren't trusted because up against them was an entire industry of supposedly financially astute men in suits, working for the biggest companies in the world, far from stupid and far too significant to be corrupt on such a major scale.

But they were capable of perpetrating an enormous con, as events proved.

Just because we are told that everything's cool by men in suits, it doesn't mean they are always right - Dita DeBoni

It's not just America where financially sober men in suits seem to be able to convince the population that black is white.

There are shades of this scenario playing out in New Zealand right now, as those who fancy themselves superior in the area of economics and business scoff at suggestions the TPP agreement will be anything less than absolutely marvellous for New Zealand.

The smear campaign against people who oppose the TPPA – or see much to question in it – has almost completely stifled proper debate about this game-changing deal.

Doubters have been called 'children', hippies, dirty lefties, communists, 'anti-trade', and much worse.

Even if they are respected economists, doctors, business leaders or even revered rugby players, they are in for a drubbing for questioning the TPPA.

Concerns are raised over whether NZ could be sued over changes to things like environmental regulations. Source: 1 NEWS

The latest attack lines suggest that because the sky hasn't immediately fallen in, the TPPA must be A OK.

This, despite well-founded fears of future unintended consequences.

We're also told we've been talking about it for ages, despite little proper analysis in the mainstream media.

Now we're told Maori will benefit from the TPPA. In fact, Maori appear to have the most to lose.

All the while, our police force is co-opted by the Government to stamp out democratic, non-violent protest. And we laugh at North Korea!

It is true that the TPPA may not inflict immediate harm on New Zealand, unlike the collapse of the US housing bubble did during the GFC.

But there is every reason to be concerned, and to want to be listened to, and heard by our own Government concerning an agreement that has potentially enormous negative ramifications for our people and our environment.

Just because we are told that everything's cool by men in suits, it doesn't mean they are always right.

1 NEWS Columnist Dita DeBoni Source: 1 NEWS

Strong growth expected in GDP figures to be released this morning

All eyes are on the country's financial performance this morning with economists expecting strong growth.

The latest GDP figures are due for release, with ASB tipping they'll show strong quarterly growth.

Westpac have forecast the annual rate of growth to hold steady at 2.7 percent and both banks are picking a 0.9 per cent rise for the quarter.

Eyes are on the country’s financial performance this morning, with ASB tipping strong quarterly growth. Source: Breakfast


'Angel' takes disabled friend on 'wacky' world adventures and is rewarded with $10,000

A young woman who has taken a teenager with cerebral palsy on adventures around the world, donated a kidney to an old school friend and helped many others has been rewarded with $10,000 for more adventures and to look after herself for a change.

Leah Stewart, who's 23, is the winner of this week's ASB Good as Gold award on TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

Donating an organ and helping others were on a bucket list Leah wrote when she was just 16, and she's doing a pretty good job of ticking them off. 

Nineteen-year-old Alicia Kapa - Leah's best friend - and Mum Joanna Kapa have really appreciated Leah's help.

Joanna explained that Alicia wasn't breathing when she was born and has cerebral palsy as a result of that lack of oxygen. 

"She loves adventure and her and her best mate Leah have travelled around the world and done all sports of crazy, crazy things," Joanna said.

These have included a cruise in the Bahamas, adventures in New York and bungy jumping.

Joanna said it means a huge amount to her that Alicia is "getting out and doing stuff that everybody at her age should be able to do, that she's safe, she hasn't got her mother hanging around with her, which is a big thing".

Alicia agreed with that last point.

She's everything that you would think when you think of an angel - Joanna Kapa

Joanna said Leah is "everything that you would think when you think of an angel".

While Alicia declared: "Leah is an amazing friend to me."

Leah and Alicia's adventures have been documented in videos on their own YouTube channel called 'Wheely Wacky Adventures".

Reporter Sam Wallace surprised Leah in suburban Auckland telling her ASB want to give her $5000 for some more Wheely Wacky Adventures, and $5000 "for you to look after yourself because you never do it".

"That sounds amazing," said a stunned Leah as she hugged Alicia in her wheelchair out on the street, surrounded by friends.

Leah admitted she has helped "a few" people and said just over a year ago she donated her left kidney to a friend from high school and "thinks" she saved her life.

The win will help with a trip she and Alicia booked themselves next week because they were missing each other. 

"And the whole thing went on my credit card because I had no money in the bank. And I knew I had some big student loans coming up. I was planning on calling the IRD on Monday and sorting out one of them," Leah said.

This giving friend can relax a little now - until the next wacky adventure.

Leah Stewart wrote her list when she was 16 and she's doing a pretty good job of ticking them off. Source: Seven Sharp



Auckland boy who lost his dad to cancer thriving through programme helping young rugby players

A programme in West Auckland is coaching rugby coaches to help young players develop life skills to deal with big challenges.

Jonesy's Youth Foundation was set up by Michael Jones - who shares his name with the legendary former All Black.

"The idea came to me through Massey Rugby Club. There was a boy who's mum got killed about 14 years ago, and for some reason it stuck with me all that time, 'what did the rugby club do to help him after the situation?'" Jones told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp. 

Through the foundation, men run courses for coaches of junior rugby players.

"What the courses will do is it'll teach the coach to be able to integrate rugby skills with character development and life skill development," Mr Jones said."

It's about developing the young players "as people first," he said.

Ben Allen - or 'Pies' as he's known coaches schoolboy rugby player Connor O'Donnell. Connor's Dad, Shaun, died four years ago from cancer.

Mr Allen said he teaches Connor, "things like communication and talking to his teammates and encouraging each other which are all important traits that you need in life".

"I'll never replace Shaun. He was an amazing Dad and and an amazing guy."

He's really good and he's helped me with confidence and things like that. - Junior rugby player Connor O'Donnell

Connor reckons 'Pies' is an amazing coach.

"He's really good and he's helped me with confidence and things like that."

Connor's Mum, Helen O'Donnell, said she promised his Dad before he died that she'd keep his love and passion for rugby going, but struggled with how she'd do that. She said Shaun would be "absolutely over the moon" that she's been able to keep that promise.  

The foundation has had some high-profile helping hands like former All Black Josh Kronfeld. 

Kronfeld said the coaches help the players with, "how to deal with pressure, how to deal with the bad moments, and loss, all those things".

Jonesy - who's also a Dad - says the foundation is there for for the long haul.

"We're here forever. We want to see him develop and grow [into] that 18 and 20-year-old when he gets a job."

Jonesy's Youth Foundation is having a Gala Dinner this Saturday. If you want tickets, the details are on Seven Sharp's Facebook page.

Jonesy's Youth Foundation is there for Connor O'Donnell, and others, in their time of need. Source: Seven Sharp

'My god she can run' - woman at centre of hilarious Kawakawa dog escape video says Lily is enjoying her 15 minutes of fame

A Bay of Islands woman told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp she is "never going to live this down" after footage of her rescue dog Lily dragging a bakery's flag down the main street of Kawakawa went viral around the globe.

CCTV footage of the freedom-seeking furball's runner — accompanied by Yakety Sax, the song made famous by the Benny Hill Show — has been viewed more than 500,000 times since it was posted to Facebook last night.

Lucie Green, a volunteer with Bay of Islands Animal Rescue, was taking the basset hound for a walk last week when she decided to stop at a local business to buy Lily a treat.

But the Basset Hound received a fright and bolted despite being tied to a large Coca-Cola flag forcing Lucie to give chase.

"For an animal with just little legs, my god she can run," Lucie told Seven Sharp.

Lily, Lucie and the rogue flag brought Kawakawa's State Highway 1 strip to a standstill, the whole escapade captured on CCTV.

"My partner owns a local CCTV company I got to the office and I told him what had happened.

"He didn't tell me he'd done it, but he edited footage and put the music on and uploaded it to Facebook and tagged me in it.

"I knew it was trouble when basically by the time we'd gone to bed last night it had hit 100,000 views," Lucie said.

Thousands of people have since commented on the video, with many of them admiring the dog’s spirit.

"I'm laughing my guts out it's so funny," wrote Facebook user Annie Hicks.

Lucie does see the funny side of events however.

"They say every dog has their day, so I guess Lily is enjoying her 15 mins of fame." 

Lily made a run for it when owner Lucie Green stopped at a shop in the Northland town. Source: Seven Sharp