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The best of The Spinoff this week

Compiling the best reading from your friendly local website.

Duncan Greive: Announcing The Spinoff app

“That’s the business motivation though – what’s in it for you? Well, mainly a really incredible experience as a reader. We consider the app – access to all our stories, sortable via author and section – to be the very best way to read The Spinoff. Not only is it a beautiful reading experience, it also marks the debut of our new site design, which is being driven from the app on up. It will eventually be how the whole site feels, so it’s kinda cool that those who purchase the app will get to experience that first.”

Toby Manhire: ‘I was the captain of the Titanic and I had to stay with the ship’: Laila Harré on the Internet-Mana debacle and rejoining Labour

“Her initial response to overtures was astonishment. ‘I literally fell off my seat laughing. But over time the idea grew on me, really. I explored a lot more the kind of policy areas that the Internet Party had already begun work on. They did do an enormous amount of policy work in focused areas which I think is still extremely useful … I met with various people – Kim and Vikram [Kumar, the party’s chief executive] primarily, in terms of the Internet Party, and with Mana people. And talked through all the nuances of it.’ Her decision: thanks, but no. Then, a few days before the big launch, ‘there were some further conversations with people I’ve kicked around in politics with for a long, long time. I decided to do it.'”

Laila Harré at home in Te Atatu, Auckland. Photos by José Barbosa

Laila Harré at home in Te Atatu, Auckland. Photos by José Barbosa

Ben Thomas: The day America started getting great again: a dispatch from DC on inauguration day

“The half dozen sellers of ‘Hillary Sucks But Not Like Monica’ shirts hollered out their slogan increasingly frenetically to get the attention of wandering attendees. ‘That’s not very respectful to women,’ one frat boy yelled out, to laughter from his friends. A fat man walked by as he was beginning to explain to his son of about seven who Monica was. ‘Get a job!’ a Trump hatted mid 20s man yelled at the person who at that moment was trying to sell him a t-shirt for money.”

Ali Mau: Ali Mau on breaking the habit of a lifetime for the Auckland Women’s March

“I grew up in a family of purist journalists; I’m third generation. In our house the concept of the unbiased reporter was sacrosanct, and it took me a more than a decade in the business before I could even bring myself to vote. I hadn’t yet landed in New Zealand at the time of Springbok Tour (although I know full well which side I’d have picked.) Most of the more recent marches have been too tied to partisan politics to tempt me onto the street. I’m no Sue Bradford by any stretch and I was dead against the sit-in outside John Key’s family home a couple of years back.

The Women’s March, however, was enough to change my mind from the first piece I read about it weeks ago.”

Miriama Aoake: Think Māori can’t be racist? Jimi Jackson’s blackface stunt proves otherwise

“We cannot dismiss genuine concerns and co-opt blackness as a defence for internalised racism. I, like Jackson, am a fair-skinned Māori. My father, too, is brown. And his father before him. My dad will recall stories of his father being called a black c*** as a jest, ‘banter’ by his boss. I remember with bitter and violent rage the discrimination towards my father: accusatory glances that said “you didn’t pay for that watch”. I can empathise with my father, and despair at witnessing overt racism towards the man who is my reason for living. Yet I will never experience first-hand the racism and stigma attached to having brown or black skin. Having a brown whakapapa does not make you immune to perpetuating or being complicit in racism.”

Hayden Donnell: Undercover at the opening of Scientology’s new Auckland headquarters

“Miscavige bounded on stage just before 3pm. His teeth were gleaming. They shone like glow worms trapped inside his face. The ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion was trim for 56, his 1m 55cm frame snug inside in a perfectly fitted suit. He looked like a more menacing Joel Osteen; the kind of man a robot would design if it was given only 1980s magazine images of a perfect American nuclear family.”

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Toby Manhire: New Zealand citizen Peter Thiel – 5 awkward questions and 10 peculiar facts

“1. Peter Thiel secretly funded a lawsuit against the gossip and commentary site Gawker, which had outed him as gay many years earlier, that drove it to bankruptcy. He was bankrolling a suit taken by wrestling legend Hulk Hogan.”

Simonne Butler: Remembering the day Tony Dixon came at two women with a Samurai sword

“Then he grabbed Renee. He screamed at her and picked her up and shook her. Then he pushed her between the door and the kitchen table. I got up and started yelling at him.

I could usually calm him down, even if it meant getting punched in the head a few times in order to achieve that goal. But on this night, there was no way to reach him.”

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Tessa Prebble: Living on the other side of ‘As long as it’s healthy’

“For most parents they’ll make that statement and never think about that it again – they’ll never have to. But for some, it will come back to them at 4am when the bleeps of the hospital monitors wake them up and they look past their sleeping baby to make sure her oxygen saturation levels are okay. They’ll remember that statement and wonder what they meant when they said that.”

Paul Brislen: There’s always a bright side: How the Trump presidency could save journalism

“Trump’s is an administration that actively contradicts the stance it took the day before. An administration that refuses to cite its sources when claiming millions of illegal voters were involved in the presidential election, that attacks individual journalists for doing their job (both on Twitter, in person and by having them arrested) and which is so eager to control the message that it has stopped various government science bodies from releasing factual statements.

Basically, this is a perfect foil for the journalists of America to rail against.”


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