New Zealand to rewrite labor laws for Peter Jackson

Back in June, I blogged a too-good-to-check item from the Daily Mail about rapper Snoop Dogg trying to rent the entire country of Liechtenstein for a music video shoot. As absurd as that story sounded, I was reminded of it by the news that New Zealand has just agreed to rewrite its labor laws to accommodate the filming of Peter Jackson's new Hobbit movie: 

Warner Bros and New Line had considered taking the production elsewhere after acting unions threatened to boycott the films in a row over wages.

"I am delighted we have achieved this result," PM John Key said at 0720 BST. "Making the two Hobbit movies here will not only safeguard work for thousands of New Zealanders, but it will also follow the success of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy in once again promoting New Zealand on the world stage."

As part of the arrangement, the New Zealand government will introduce legislation to clarify the distinction between independent contractors and employees working in the film production industry.

Thousands took to the streets in Wellington and Auckland earlier this week carrying signs with slogans like "New Zealand is Middle Earth" and "We Love Hobbits," when Jackson suggested he might move the production elsewhere. Economists have said that losing the production could have cost New Zealand as much as  $1.5 billion -- more than 1 percent of its GDP. Precious!

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British Airways chairman: U.S. airport security 'completely redundant'

The inevitable international pushback against the United States' snowballing airport security regime seems to have begun, with British Airways Chairman Martin Broughton leading the charge:

In remarks at the annual conference of the UK Airport Operators Association in London on Tuesday, he said the practice of forcing people to take off their shoes and have their laptops checked separately in security lines should be ditched.

Mr. Broughton said there was no need to "kowtow to the Americans every time they wanted something done" to beef up security on U.S.-bound flights, especially when this involved checks the U.S. did not impose on its domestic routes.

"America does not do internally a lot of the things they demand that we do," he said. "We shouldn't stand for that. We should say, 'We'll only do things which we consider to be essential and that you Americans also consider essential'." [...]

Mr. Broughton said no one wanted weak security, but added: "We all know there's quite a number of elements in the security programme which are completely redundant and they should be sorted out."

In the wake of 9/11, the shoe bomber, the transatlantic plot, and the underwear bomber, the TSA responded by adding procedures that might have prevented the last attack -- removing shoes, banning liquids, full-body imaging scanners. Once these new measures are in place, they are almost never removed. Broughton is acting in his own airline's interests of course, but if he can help start a public discussion on which of these measures are actually useful or worth the delays and indignities associated with them, he will have done U.S. travelers a service. 

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