Game of Thrones Season 7 spoilers

For those who can’t wait (like me), a normally reliable source has posted major plot threads for Season 7.

Do not read over the break, if you do not want to read the spoilers.

I’ve grouped them together by character for easy reading.

Can’t wait for the season to air next year! Very very excited.

Continue reading »

Saudi Arabia re-elected to UN Human Rights Council

Middle East Eye reports:

This week, Saudi Arabia will be re-elected to the UN Human Right Council (HRC) for the fourth time, after another non-competitive election at the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

While serving its third term on the council, Saudi Arabia blocked international inquiries into its human rights abuses, punished Saudi citizens who worked in collaboration with the HRC, and threatened to cut critical UN funding after being called out for violating children’s rights.

Worse, instead of incentivising the kingdom to institute reforms to curtail abuses and foster greater accountability, Saudi Arabia’s membership on the council appears to be having the opposite effect.

The number of executions in the kingdom has spiked dramatically since Saudi Arabia was last elected to the council – with 2015 marking the most brutal year in two decades with 157 executions and 2016 closing in with 124 executions as of the end of September.

Meanwhile, the country ignores visit requests from the HRC’s “special procedures” – independent human rights experts who undertake country visits and report back to the council. Currently, Saudi Arabia has seven outstanding visit requests, including requests from special rapporteurs appointed to conduct fact-finding inquiries related to torture, freedom of expression and opinion, and executions.

This is the same UN where they tut tut over the name of one of our ministries.

Here’s a summary of human rights in Saudi Arabia:

  • Torture by the state
  • rape victims lashed for adultery
  • Sentences of flogging up to 2,500 times
  • Imprisonment for changing religion
  • Women need permission of a man to travel abroad
  • Women not allowed to drive
  • Shia muslims ineligible for many government jobs
  • Illegal to practice any non Muslim religion in public
  • Trade unions banned, and political parties
  • Demonstrations are illegal
  • Capital punishment for homosexuality

A wonderful member of the UN Human Rights Council

Dom Post on Police and euthanasia

The Dom Post editorial:

Police raids on elderly people associated with the voluntary euthanasia movement are surprising and disturbing.

So are suggestions that police officers are staking out meetings, taking down number plates, and paying such people a visit to probe them on their intentions.

It’s true that the police are charged with upholding the law, and that the law bans assisted suicide, as well as the importation of drugs commonly used to achieve it. But the police also make decisions all the time about how to divide their time and resources.

They have only recently committed to attending all burglaries, for instance, even though they solve only a fraction of them. Community police stations have been phased back. In 2014/2015, there were nearly half a million fewer drink-drive tests than the year before.

In that straitened environment, it is especially odd that the police are running an operation, codenamed “Painter”, that targets elderly people concerned about the end of their lives.

Even if the police had endless resources, it would still be a troubling investigation. The thought of officers interrogating octogenarians seeking to make decisions about their own lives is an unwelcome one.

Fears of intimidation are rightly at the heart of objections to legalising euthanasia. But here the situation might be reversed – it is not hard to imagine elderly people feeling harassed by officers.

I agree. Setting up a fake checkpoint to gather information on who attended a meeting is inappropriate.

Campaigners such as the late Wellington lawyer Lecretia Seales have eloquently argued for a change, and, equally, the courts have rightly cautioned that any such reform must be made by Parliament.

Whatever comes of this debate, there is a right way to police the laws around euthanasia: with discretion and humanity. Not all crimes are the same. A terminally-ill person in great pain who wishes to shorten their life is wishing for something that is leagues away from most of what we classify as criminal: acts of theft and violence and the like.

Most people understand this. There is considerable public support for allowing euthanasia in certain circumstances, and even more sympathy for those who find themselves wanting it.

The police are at the sharp end of the law, and they will always face tricky cases. Some really ought to provoke an urgent response – those with any hint of pressure or intimidation, of course, but also those involving people who are actively distributing the tools used for euthanasia. Such people mock the law and can reasonably be penalised.

Extending such scrutiny, however, to every person who considers their options for the end of their life is an illiberal and heavy-handed act.

The police should pause and reconsider their approach.

I hope they do.

Government sceptical of WBO fight funding

Stuff reports:

The Joseph Parker world heavyweight boxing bout is borderline for government funding, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says.

Good to see the Government sceptical.

Labour spokesman Trevor Mallard has questioned its worth to New Zealand and Joyce on Tuesday highlighted the hurdles it would have to meet.

“It’s probably on the border for a number of reasons, but we’ll have a look at it – they’ve put an application in and we treat every application fairly,” Joyce said.

“Some of the questions would be, what’s the opportunity to promote New Zealand, and the sort of leverage of New Zealand, and it’s just a short time fame in that respect? It could be tricky.”

There would also need to be a clear understanding whether it was going to happen anyway, with or without the funding support, and whether it was planned to be a profit-making event.

“We don’t generally support events that are already profitable.”

He said the promoters had submitted a budget which officials would look at.

There was no express upper limit for how much the fund would pay out, although there was a budgeted amount each year and it was well allocated for the next year or two, “so there isn’t a huge amount sitting there at the moment”. 

Dean Lonergan of Duco Events told Radio Live they needed a “significant seven-figure amount” to make the fight happen.

I’d be appalled if the Government gave over a million dollars to the promoters. This is a massively commercial sport.

Joyce said the idea of the fund was to develop and encourage the development of things that would not otherwise happen in New Zealand.

“So for example we have supported bids to bring the Rugby League World Cup here and … the Fifa under-20 (football) as well as domestic events” including the Winter Games, golf and large regional events.

But it did not fund All Blacks tests because there was a clear understanding they would happen regardless.

I can see the case for funding certain events, being:

  • Having them in NZ will bring a huge influx of tourists coming for the event. I don’t see this happening for a boxing match.
  • Having them in NZ will result in a huge amount of publicity for NZ as a destination, increasing tourism. This might apply if occurring somewhere scenic, but this is an indoor match.
  • Having them in NZ will be a huge boost to that sport in NZ, such as FIFA Under 20s.

I see pretty much no case at all for funding the event except it would allow NZers to attend a heavyweight boxing match in person, rather than on television. I don’t see that as a case for taxpayer funding.

Lonergan said earlier on Tuesday that he felt the major events fund was set up “purposely to help an event like this”.

“This is a major event, it’s a historic event for New Zealand, and it might not otherwise happen here.

“It is going to happen, but it mightn’t happen in New Zealand now because of the situation. As I’ve said, there’s a 70 to 80 per cent chance it will go to the United States now unless we can sort something out very quickly.

Beware when people say you need to decide quickly.

e-cigarettes and weight loss

Stuff reports:

Vaping is being touted as the latest weapon in the battle of the bulge, with researchers claiming it could stave off food cravings.

Massey University research suggests that former smokers gain an average of 4.7 kilograms in the 12 months after quitting.

“Vaping’s use of e-liquids with food flavours, along with the mouth-feel and aroma of the vapour, could play a role in helping people to eat less,” Professor Bernhard Breier, Massey’s chair in human nutrition, said.

“If there is a chance that flavoured vaping could help even a small proportion of people reduce the diabetes, cardiovascular and cancer risks associated with excess weight, the population health gains would be significant.”

Breir co-authored a paper published in the international journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research on Wednesday, which reviewed existing studies on vaping and weight control.

Would be interesting to see more research in this area, but I’d be cautious about promoting vaping as a weight loss tool.

Vaping or e-cigarettes are a great substitute for tobacco, and there are massive health benefits for smokers to switch to vaping.

But you get even more health benefits by not smoking at all. Of course many smokers are addicted to nicotine and can’t easily stop smoking – hence why e-cigarettes are a good way to feed the nicotine addiction but cut the health impact by 95%.

An Otago University health expert agreed, saying effective advertising restrictions, calorie reductions and junk food controls would be more effective tools in weight management. 

“If you have got a fat person that says, if I get rid of smoking I’m going to be even fatter … well maybe e-cigarettes can help them,” Jim Mann, professor in human nutrition and medicine at Otago said.

“But to use e-cigarettes as a method of weight control – I would be very dubious about that, because we don’t know much about e-cigarettes.”

“Smoking is worse than obesity. If you have to get rid of one, you get rid of the smoking.”

I agree that if it is a choice between obesity and smoking, you get rid of the smoking.

The best option is not to smoke at all. If that isn’t possible then e-cigarettes are way way better than smoking.

Dreamworld accidents

Stuff reports:

A fatal accident at Dreamworld on Australia’s Gold Coast, which is believed to have claimed the life of a New Zealander and three other people, comes after a series of incidents at the park over the past two decades.

Since 1995, Dreamworld has had at least five incidents where rides malfunctioned or had to be temporarily closed down. Some of these incidents left visitors injured or stranded.

The most recent incident unfolded six months ago, when a man almost drowned when he fell from the Rocky Hollow Log Ride.

I went to Dreamworld in the 1980s. We were queued up for one of the rides. The surfboard one that swivels everywhere when suddenly there was a huge cracking noise and a piece of gear of the ride went flying off it, halting the ride in mid flight. It took 15 minutes or so to restart and as we were young and foolish we stayed in queue for the ride and went on it once they had reattached the part.

With hindsight it is not a good sign the parts of the ride come flying off in mid flight.

I’m not sure what is an acceptable incident rate for theme parks, but Dreamworld seems to be too high. And the four deaths this week will have been preventable. No one should die in a theme park unless from a heart attack.

Turnbull now polling worse than Abbott reports:

MALCOLM Turnbull’s popularity has sunk to a new low, as Labor chalked up its third successive Newspoll lead.

The latest Newspoll, taken for The Australian, shows voter satisfaction with the prime minister has dropped to 29 per cent — lower than Tony Abbott’s measure of 30 per cent when he was toppled as leader last year.

I doubt Turnbull will see out the end of 2017. Starting to feel unsure if he will even make the beginning of it!

Dim Post on why Marxism failed

Danyl McL writes:

Thirdly, it turns out that if you have a capitalist economy – even a very basic one like Tsarist Russia – and you take away the market and put the workers in charge of the means of production (and execute anyone trading on the black market) then instead of transforming itself into a utopia because of the scientific laws of history and the malleability of human nature, the entire economy collapses, and people in cities end up eating their own children to stay alive, and everyone who can still walk rises up and joins the capitalist counter-revolutionaries trying to overthrow you.

We are now seeing this occur in Venezuela – as it has in pretty much every other country that has tried this.

The revolution endured, through a combination of extreme ruthlessness, dumb luck and the ineptitude of their enemies and also, humiliatingly, by bringing back an attenuated form of capitalism. It took them a long time to work out an alternative economic system that didn’t involve either capitalism or keeping the population in a state of abject terror by just randomly murdering people or imprisoning and enslaving them for life, en-masse. They got there though, by the 1950s. And the form of communism they wound up with was very materialistic: very consumerist, focused on high economic growth at the cost of extraordinary environmental destruction. Actual communism was all the things the left dislikes about late capitalism, in other words, except it didn’t work as well as capitalism.

Marxist intellectuals in the west didn’t put that much effort into trying to figure out how to make Communism work. For most the assumption was that it did work, because science, and that reports of famine in the Ukraine were obviously western propaganda. So they carried on critiquing capitalism, applying a Marxist analysis to whatever was intellectually fashionable in the west.

Spot on.

When psychoanalysis was in vogue, the theory was capitalism caused alienation and schizophrenia: the traditional family became the agent through which capitalist production repressed the revolutionary desires of the child. When people became interested in colonialism, then Marxists decided that colonialism was caused by capitalism. Now racism, patriarchy and climate change are caused by capitalism. (It’s an endlessly repeated trope on the left that capitalism, with its assumption of infinite growth is the driver of climate change, without discussing why non capitalist economies won’t also seek growth and drive it with greenhouse gas pollution. And why won’t the powerful head of the People’s Coal Miners Union have all the climate change scientists imprisoned or executed as traitors?). Whatever people are upset about is caused by capitalism, and the solution to all our problems is to get rid of capitalism.

The Jeremy Corbyns of this world always see capitalism and especially Western capitalism as to blame.

When the failure of actual Communism became horribly apparent Marxist intellectuals comforted themselves that the revolution wasn’t supposed to happen in places like Russia and China. It was supposed to happen in developed capitalist economies, like their own, so they went on critiquing capitalism. There have been recent socialist revolutions in proper capitalist countries like Venezuela. That would have been a good time for Marxist theorists to go prove their theories correct. Did Venezuelans become less racist? Did patriarchy disappear? Did Venezuela’s policy of paying for their socialist state by selling lakes of oil to capitalist countries address the issue of climate change? But with the exception of hand-waving about droughts and capitalist sabotage, there is near total silence on the left about Venezuela. We don’t talk about Venezuela.

An inconvenient truth.

Instead of envisioning capitalism as a totalising system responsible for everything that annoys you, the removal of which will instantly solve all our problems, I think it’s more useful to see it as a series of kludges that allow complex, high population technological nation-states to function and interact with each other. A kludge is a term-of-art in engineering, especially software engineering: it describes an improvised, inelegant and inefficient solution to a problem. Over time, complex engineered systems tend to accumulate kludges, all creating unforeseen consequences that then proliferate more kludges, which all become interdependent on each other. They create lots of problems, but if you get rid of them then the entire system collapses – just like capitalist countries do when you get rid of capitalism.

Fixing kludges can be really hard. You need to have a deep understanding of the system you’re working with, and come up with realistic improvements, and make them work, and then move on to the next one.

This is basically the day to day work of Government policy making – fixing kludges.

I recently read a book about the history of cancer. For much of the 20th century, the most brilliant physicians and doctors in the world struggled to find cures for cancer. They didn’t really understand what was causing the disease – they thought it radiated out from the centre of the body in a spiral pattern – but they knew that sometimes surgery cured tumours, and sometimes chemotherapy cured tumours, or at least caused them to remiss. The culture of the profession drove them towards more and more radical solutions. Radical surgery, radical chemotherapy. They stopped paying attention to statisticians and molecular biologists, who were telling them that they’re weren’t actually curing anyone, and that cancer didn’t function the way they thought it did. Weren’t they the most brilliant physicians in the world? How could they all be wrong?

But they were.   The big lesson there is that a large groups of brilliant people all trying to do the right thing can all be completely wrong, for many decades, and cause incredible suffering and harm, while basically wasting their lives. It seems to me that something similar has happened to left-wing intellectual theory, especially the radical left. That it’s taken a very wrong turn somewhere, and a lot of very brilliant people have been studying, teaching and writing nonsense, for a long time now and that they’re in a deep state of epistemic closure about this, because no one likes to think they’ve been wrong about almost everything. Especially people who fetishise intelligence, like surgeons, or left-wing intellectuals.

This reminds me of a post I did some years ago asking what were the things that the left and the right got disastrously wrong post WWII?

For the right I would say tolerance of apartheid South Africa and opposing welfare states.

For the left I would say socialism/communism and unilateral disarmament

Light rail costs blows out 250% in NSW!

The SMH reports:

The cost of Mike Baird’s signature public transport promise for western Sydney has ballooned to more than $3.5 billion – $2.5 billion above what has been budgeted, secret government documents show.

So the original cost was one billion dollars – the same as costed for light rail in Wellington. A few politicians reckon they can get it done in fact for half that – $500 million. While in NSW the costs of the proposed light rail there have increased from $1 billion to $3.5 billion.

Ratepayers have been warned.

Separate documents, meanwhile, show the project will deliver questionable benefits. If a project’s benefit cost ratio is less than one, a project is expected to deliver less benefit than cost.

A business case dated May 2015 shows a maximum benefit cost ratio for light rail lines around Parramatta of 0.73.

An addendum dated July 2015 reports range benefit cost ratios from 0.66 if only transport benefits are included, potentially rising to 1.06 if “wider economic benefits” are included.

That is better than Wellington where the BCR is 0.05 on a bad day and 0.10 on a good day!

Did the FBI sell out?

Gregg Jarrett of Fox News writes:

As evidence mounts that the Director of the FBI subverted justice, damaged the reputation of the Bureau and squandered the support of his agents, calls for his resignation will surely escalate. 

Can there be any confidence in his future judgments and decisions, as long as he continues to preside over the once-venerated Federal Bureau of Investigation?

That is the plight James Comey now faces in light of the exclusive story published by in which a person closely involved in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails revealed that career FBI agents and attorneys who dedicated themselves to the year-long probe unanimously believed she should have been criminally charged. 

If correct, this is huge as Comey said everyone believed she should not be charged.

A second source, a high-ranking FBI official, confirmed the crux of his colleague’s stunning revelation.  He said that while it may not have been a unanimous belief, the vast majority felt Clinton should be prosecuted.  Stripping her of her security clearance was unanimous, he explained. 

So unanimous that she should be stripped of her security clearance and a majority that she should have been charged.

In my column on July 5th, the day Comey announced he would not recommend to the Attorney General that Clinton be criminally prosecuted, I argued that Comey’s decision made no legal sense.  I recited the language of the relevant statute… and compared it to Comey’s own words describing Clinton’s conduct.  They were nearly identical. 

I wrote then how Comey exhibited an astonishing ignorance of the law.  He laid out a case of gross negligence constituting a crime, defined it with the words “extremely careless” and then promptly proceeded to ignore the law.  

This had has little media attention. No wonder faith in media is so low.

Encouraging Americans to vote


A group of ex NZ advertising creatives have launched Dear America 2016 to encourage Americans to vote as the outcome of the election is so important to the world. They do not advocate who to vote for, just that Americans vote.


Will be interesting to see what the turnout is.

IOD on artificial intelligence

The Institute of Directors (and Chapman Tripp) has published a report looking at the opportunities and challenges for NZ of artificial intelligence.

The report raises 15 key questions:

Prosperity and wellbeing

1. How can we use AI to build our competitive advantage in key industries?
2. Is New Zealand investing enough in AI development?
3. How do we ensure the benefits of AI are broadly shared across our economy and society?

Jobs and the economy

4. What industries will be most disrupted by AI?
5. What impact will AI have on our economy as some jobs are replaced by AI-driven automation?
6. How do we encourage new jobs and industries that AI may promote?
7. How does our education system need to evolve to address the changes AI will bring?

Legal and policy issues

8. Should decisions made by AI systems be attributed to their creators?
9. Should AI systems be recognised in law as legal persons?
10. Are New Zealand’s regulatory and legislative processes adaptive enough to respond to and encourage innovations in AI?

Privacy and ethics

11. What does privacy mean to New Zealanders in an AI world?
12. What ethical challenges will the widespread use of AI raise?
13. Do we have the right frameworks to protect data and make sure it can be used most effectively by AI systems?
14. What controls and limitations should be placed on AI technologies?
15. Is New Zealand doing enough to keep ahead?

Issue 8 is very interesting. Who is responsible for decisions made by artificial intelligence systems?

A fascinating report.

Pirate Party leads the polls in Iceland

The Washington Post reports:

The party that could be on the cusp of winning Iceland’s national elections on Saturday didn’t exist four years ago.

Its members are a collection of anarchists, hackers, libertarians and Web geeks. It sets policy through online polls – and thinks the government should do the same. It wants to make Iceland “a Switzerland of bits,” free of digital snooping. It has offered Edward Snowden a new place to call home.

And then there’s the name: In this land of Vikings, the Pirate Party may soon be king.

The rise of the Pirates – from radical fringe to focal point of Icelandic politics – has astonished even the party’s founder, a poet, Web programmer and former WikiLeaks activist.

“No way,” said 49-year-old Birgitta Jónsdóttir when asked whether she could have envisioned her party governing the country so soon after its launch. …

The populist spirit was revved up once again this past spring when the leak of the Panama Papers revealed an offshore company owned by the prime minister’s wife that staked a claim to Iceland’s collapsed banks. The perceived conflict of interest brought thousands of protesters to the streets, a crowd that, as a share of the overall population, was equal to as many as 21 million people in the United States.

With protests building, the prime minister quit and new elections were called. But the public’s cynicism about a political system long steered by an insider clique only deepened.

“The distrust that had long been germinating has now exploded. The Pirates are riding on that wave,” said Ragnheithur Kristjánsdóttir, a political history professor at the University of Iceland. “We’ve had new parties before, and then they’ve faded. What’s surprising is that they’re maintaining their momentum.”

The Pirates, part of an international movement of the same name, are not the only ones seizing on the country’s discontented political spirit. Several new parties have surged and could well set Iceland’s direction for the next four years. Meanwhile, parties that have traded power in Iceland for decades are bumping along in polls at historic lows.

It will be interesting to see how they go, if they do get to form Government.

The latest poll has the following:

  1. Pirates 22.6%
  2. Independence (libertarian) 21.1%
  3. Left-Green 18.6%
  4. Progressive (centre right) 9.1%
  5. Viðreisn (pro free trade) 8.8%
  6. Social Democratic Alliance (centre left) 6.5%
  7. Bright Future (liberal, centre) 6.0%

The Pirate Party has said they wouldn’t do a coalition with the Independence or Progressive parties so it may be Pirates, left-green and Social Democrats.

Economic downturn for assassins reports:

ACE and Sheila* are a married couple who say they are tasked with killing drug users and drug dealers as part of the Philippine President’s war on drugs.

The couple claim their death squad receives up to $100 per kill from the police, and with four children to support they say it’s the only way they can make that sort of money.

That’s doesn’t seem much for being an assassin. My first thought is that the professional assassins need a union to try and lobby Government to stop the new amateur assassins undercutting their pay. It’s like taxis vs Uber.

But maybe $100 is a lot. It is around 5,000 pesos. That is around a month’s salary for a cleaner. Would you kill someone in NZ for say $3,000? I would have thought

A teacher can earn 15,000 pesos a month so that pays more than a kill per fortnight.

When we get the identification, we study it for a day, then the thing is that the job should be done within three days’ time. You should finish the hit within three days. So as soon as we get the identification we study it, then next day, we get moving. Generally by gun. If we get close to the person, or we spot them, and when we get the chance, we shoot them.

We don’t just shoot them once. We don’t leave them with just one shot. We make sure they’re dead. When we get the chance, we put the card with the word “pusher” on them.

Because the media picks it up when the card is on the target. We put the card so it attracts the media, and that’s our proof to our boss that the job is done.

I think our group has done a quarter of the 2800 killings. And the rest have been done by the other groups.

This goes against old fashioned supply and demand. The Government wants 100,000 drug dealers and users killed so this has massively increased demand for killers and assassins. With demand so high, you’d think prices for killers would have increased, but instead it has seen a flood of cheap labour into the market, depressing the equilibrium price for a killing.

I guess a factor is that these killings are state sanctioned so the normal risk premium for being caught by the Police has disappeared.

What is causing record net migration

With annual net migration hitting a record 70,000 I thought it would be useful to look at what is causing it. First here are the arrivals:


The total is on the right axis. Fairly constant from 2004 to 2012 and started to grow significantly since then to hit 125,000 in the year to September 2016.

Residency visas are below their peak in 2006 and have changed little.

Student visas were at around 10,000 then in 2008 went up to around 15,000. They stayed there for a five years but since 2012 have almost doubled to 25,000. Fees from international students are very significant and only 20% of those who come here on a student visa end up staying on.

Work visas grew from 2004 to 2008 – up from 16,000 to 23,000. Then constant until 2012 and since then grown to 40,000. These are generally people doing the jobs Kiwis don’t want to do, or we don’t have enough with the right skills to do.

NZ citizens returning home has been pretty constant at 25,000 a year until 2013 and now up at over 30,000.

Australian citizens moving here reasonably constant at 6,000 but has been growing since 2013.

So how about departures?


The numbers of Aussies leaving is around constant. Also the number of non NZ and non Australian citizens leaving is also pretty constant. The big change is the number of NZ citizens leaving.

This hit a high in 2012 of 62,000 and in 2016 has dropped to 33,000. This is an excellent thing that only half the numbers of Kiwis are leaving. However it does mean the impact on net migration is significant.

Net migration was actually negative 3,000 in the year to Sep 2012. It has increased to almost 70,000 in the year to Sep 2016. The contributors are:

  1. 28,567 fewer Kiwis leaving
  2. 15,695 more workers on work visas
  3. 10,209 more students on students visas
  4. 8,870 more Kiwis returning
  5. 3,179 more people on residency visas
  6. 2,306 more Aussies moving here
  7. 2,062 fewer “others” (non NZers and non Aussies) leaving
  8. 1,754 more “others” (often long-term visitors) coming here
  9. 592 fewer Aussies leaving

A benefit of Brexit

The Herald reports:

The Queen is facing a million-pound black hole in her estates’ finances after Brexit which has caused consternation among royal aides, The Sunday Telegraph has learned.

Sandringham Estate, the Queen’s country retreat in Norfolk, will lose close to £700,000 a year when EU farming subsidies end while the farms near Windsor Castle will be around £300,000 down.

Prince Charles’s estates are also facing a funding cut from Brexit of £100,000 a year while the Crown Estate – which manages Royal land – will also be hit.

So the royal estates get subsidies from the EU!

Ministers are now under pressure to break their refusal to provide commitments for post-Brexit Britain and publicly say the payments will be continued.

Estates and country houses across Britain as well as farmers benefit from Common Agricultural Policy [CAP] payments – the EU’s system of rural support.

The billions of pounds of subsidies will end when Britain leaves the EU, which on current timescales will be in spring 2019.

Ministers have sought to reassure the farming community by guaranteeing payments until 2020, but have refused to make commitments beyond that.

And they shouldn’t. Their farms will actually emerge stronger if they are not subsidised. NZ is proof of that.

But Labour said he would be killed if he went to China?

Stuff reports:

Controversial Auckland businessman William Yan is understood to be heading back to China to speak with authorities. 

Just under what circumstances he’s going, remain shrouded in mystery. Yan has been branded an economic fugitive by his own country, and China allege he embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars before fleeing to New Zealand. 

Concerns over his safety should he return to China – including arrest, imprisonment, execution and organ harvesting – formed the basis for then Associate Immigration Minister Shane Jones to grant him New Zealand citizenship in 2008.

It seems those concerns are no longer an issue, as Yan is travelling to China in the coming weeks to be interviewed by Chinese authorities.

But Shane Jones and Labour said they granted him citizenship against strong advice against because they were convinced he would be killed if he went to China. They said it had nothing to do with his donations to Labour and Labour MPs, but all about it being unsafe for him to be returned to China.

Trying to outlaw progress

Stuff reports:

New York state enacted one of the nation’s toughest restrictions on Airbnb on Friday with a new law authorising fines of up to US$7500 (10,500) for many short-term rentals.

The measure applies to rentals of fewer than 30 days when the owner or tenant is not present.

Supporters of the measure say many property owners use sites like Airbnb to offer residential apartments as short-term rentals to visitors, hurting existing hotels while taking residential units off the already expensive housing market in New York City.

Diddums for existing hotels. Competition is a good thing, not a bad thing.

Airbnb said it would immediately file a lawsuit challenging the law.

“In typical fashion, Albany backroom dealing rewarded a special interest – the price-gouging hotel industry – and ignored the voices of tens of thousands of New Yorkers,” said Josh Meltzer, Airbnb’s head of public policy in New York.

Protecting existing industries rather than consumers.

Police misusing booze checkpoints?

Stuff reports:

Wellington police may have used an alcohol checkpoint to gather information about elderly women attending euthanasia meetings.

The women had been attending an Exit International meeting on a Sunday afternoon early early this month in the Lower Hutt suburb of Maungaraki.

As they left, about 4pm, all were pulled over at the checkpoint and – before being asked to blow into the machine – were made to give their names and addresses, and show their driver’s licences.

In the days that followed, at least 10 of them received visits from police officers, asking questions about their association with Exit, a pro-euthanasia group. 

Wellington barrister Douglas Ewen, a specialist in human rights, said it could be an abuse of police powers if it could be proven they used the guise of a checkpoint to get details for an issue unrelated to road safety.

Similarly, the act of stopping cars for a purpose other than road safety could be seen as “arbitrary detention”, and therefore a breach of the Bill of Rights.

“If a power is conferred, it should be used for that purpose,” Ewen said.

I’m no lawyer but I would have thought a checkpoint must be for road safety and not to find out who attended a meeting down the road.

I’d suggest a complaint to the IPCA so they investigate.

Cheika keeps digging

Stuff reports:

Cheika attempted to explain why he has been putting the All Blacks and New Zealand Herald in the same basket when it was the paper who made the editorial decision to run the cartoon. 

He is under the impression the All Blacks leaked a story to the paper that a listening device had been found in the New Zealand team’s hotel in Double Bay before the Bledisloe Cup opener given they were the ones who broke the news on game day.

“The whole bug thing came out from there,” Cheika said. “We had policemen in our offices asking us questions, asking our management questions about it. That’s serious stuff to be accusing people of and it’s not true. That’s their go-to, nothing happens without that connection.” 

You might expect a coach from say Uganda to not understand the difference between a rugby team and a newspaper, and think that somehow one is controlled by the other. For an Australian to seriously suggest the All Blacks are responsible for what cartoons the Herald prints is pathetic.

Hansen continued to stir the pot on Sunday, telling Cheika to pull his head in and make it known that the offer of a beer would have in fact been on the cards. 

“He’s obviously feeling the pressure and had a bit of a meltdown,” Hansen said. “The best thing he can do is stop whining. If he doesn’t think people are respecting him then ask yourself ‘Why would the media dress me up as a clown?’ and then go and fix those problems. He’s a good man and he’s under pressure. 

Media have done cartoons portraying Richie McCaw as Richie McGrub. Did he blame other rugby teams for this? No. He just didn’t let it get to him and continued to play and lead well.