Archive for the ‘International Politics’ Category

Population proportions under 14 years old

October 27th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The World Bank has interesting data on what proportion of a country’s population is aged 14 and under.

The smallest are:

  1. Hong Kong 12%
  2. Japan 13%
  3. Germany 13%

The largest are:

  1. Niger 50%
  2. Uganda 48%
  3. Chad 48%
  4. Angola 48%
  5. Afghanistan 47%

NZ has 20% aged under 14.

Those with such high proportions will have both low life expectancy but sadly very high birth rates.

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A Brand idiot

October 26th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

UK comedian Russell Brand said people should be “open-minded” about the view that the US government was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. 

People should also be open-minded about the view that Russell Brand has an IQ of 45.

In an combative and at times cringe-worthy interview on BBC’s Newsnight, the author and actor said he found the relationship between the families of former US president George W Bush and al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden “interesting”.

And next Mr Brand will declare how interesting it is that his brain cells are lonely.

He should stick to comedy – something he is very good at. Politics, less so.

Why the BBC thinks his views are newsworthy just because he is an entertainer – I do not know.

Hadley Freeman at The Guardian sums it up well:

Whereas last time Brand had the laconic ease of a man who knew he was starting from a place of low expectations, this time around he displayed the kind of ecstatic hypomania you’d expect of a celebrity who long ago exceeded the outer limits of his knowledge on this particular subject and is now coasting on the adrenaline of his own messiah complex. Watching this interview reminded me not of a firebrand in his full pomp but of the 1971 Woody Allen film Bananas, when the president of San Marcos has been overthrown and replaced with a hirsute revolutionary leader. This leader promptly goes mad with power, which in this case is expressed by changing the official language of San Marcos to Swedish, and ordering all citizens to change their underwear every half hour.

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A moving standing ovation

October 26th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Canadian Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers receiving a standing ovation in the Canadian House of Commons.

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NZ won election on the first round

October 23rd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Now I’ve had time to check the detailed voting results, impressed that not only did New Zealand beat Turkey to win a spot on the UN Security Council, we also got more votes than Spain, and made the two thirds majority in the first round of voting.

To be elected you need 129 votes out of 193 member states, and NZ got 145 in the first round. Spain was on 121 and Turkey 109.

It then took two further rounds to elect Spain, as the normal pattern followed of states slowing peeling off the lowest polling candidate.

A win on the first round, scoring more votes than Turkey and Spain is truly impressive. Especially when you consider Turkey starts with almost all the Muslim countries on side, and Spain starts with almost all of Europe and the Spanish speaking countries. NZ stars with basically just Australia!

It would be interesting to see how each country voted, but I can’t find this online.

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A terrorist attack in Canada?

October 23rd, 2014 at 11:16 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

At least 30 shots are fired inside the main building of Canada’s Parliament Hill, after a gunman shot and wounded a soldier at the Canadian War Memorial in Ottawa.

Ottawa police are hunting multiple gunmen in the shooting incidents near the Canadian war memorial and nearby Parliament Hill.

A Canadian soldier was shot and killed at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa early today (NZ time) and a gunman was shot dead in a nearby parliament building, media and witnesses reported. Buildings remained locked down.

At least 30 shots were fired in dramatic scenes in the heart of the Canadian capital, starting around 10am local time (3am NZT).

Canadian media outlets are reporting the soldier was Nathan Cirillo, a 24-year-old reservist serving in Hamilton from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada regiment.

Officials have named the gunman shot dead as 32-year-old, Canadian-born, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

Reuters has reported Mr Zehaf-Bibeau was was a Canadian convert to Islam, according to US officials. He is from Quebec and has criminal convictions for drug possession and parole violations.

Ottawa police spokesman Chuck Benoit said two or three gunmen were believed to be involved in the attacks. 

Gilles Michaud, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, called it a ”dynamic, unfolding situation.”

Ottawa Hospital said it received two patients, both listed in stable condition, in addition to the soldier.

“Condolences to family of the soldier killed, and prayers for the Parliamentary guard wounded. Canada will not be terrorised or intimidated,” cabinet minister Jason Kenney said.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in a caucus meeting in parliament when gunfire erupted in the building, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, a former policeman, told the Toronto Sun.

Harper was later safely removed from the building, and parliament was locked down.

Fantino said parliament’s head of security, Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, a former member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), had shot a suspect dead.

“All the details are not in, but the sergeant-at-arms, a former Mountie, is the one that engaged the gunman, or one of them at least, and stopped this,” Fantino said. “He did a great job and, from what I know, shot the gunman and he is now deceased.”

The Sergeant-at-Arms should him dead personally! Wow. One always thinks of those roles of nominally being in charge of maintaining order – not active duty. He is being feted justifiably as a hero. Mr Vickers is 58 years old.

It is somewhat sickening that these attacks are spreading to countries like Canada and Australia, and being done by people born in those countries.

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Dear Dita – Nz voted in 2012 to recognise Palestine

October 17th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Dita De Boni writes:

If New Zealand becomes a member of the UN Security Council early tomorrow, hoping to get a pay-off for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in schmoozing we’ve done to get there, let us see how much of an independent voice we will retain. …

Nevertheless, if we get there, the true test of New Zealand’s independence of thought may come sooner than we think. A movement is gaining pace for countries around the world to recognise the independent state of Palestine, with the British Government’s House of Commons having just voted to do exactly that. The vote is largely symbolic – Prime Minister David Cameron and many of his ministers abstained. But it comes in a week in which Sweden became the first major European country to recognise the Palestinian state, and also within a week in which many of the world’s largest countries voted to give Palestine $5 billion to rebuild itself after the devastating 50-day war earlier this year.

The world is largely aghast and impatient with the continuing blockade of Gaza, the repression of its citizens, and settlements that continue to encroach on their land. Yet America continues to stymie efforts to grant Palestine any kind of legitimacy.

Currently, all Five Eyes countries, led by the US and including New Zealand, refuse to recognise an independent Palestine. Will we be able to take a contrary view, even if we wanted to, if we are sitting at the top table after tomorrow?

Before you lambast NZ as being a vassal of other countries, purely because we have an intelligence sharing agreement, it would be useful to check history.

In November 2012 Stuff reported:

New Zealand has voted in favour of a United Nations resolution recognising a state of Palestine.

The UN General Assembly today overwhelmingly voted to grant Palestinians “non-member state” UN observer status.

Now to be fair to Dita, I doubt  many people recall a story from a couple of years ago about NZ voting to recognise Palestine. But it would be useful to check, before asserting that New Zealand refuses to recognise Palestine.

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The Internet Party of Ukraine

October 13th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Love this ad by the Internet Party of Ukraine.

Related to this Stuff reports:

In a galaxy far, far, away – Odessa, the third-largest city in Ukraine – several Star Wars characters have managed to register as official candidates in the upcoming election. With names like Darth V. Vader, Stepan Chubakka (Chewbacca), Master V. Yoda, and Padme N. Amidala listed on the candidate roster, voters can’t be blamed for looking twice at the ballot.

Here’s another of their campaign videos

In a galaxy far, far, away – Odessa, the third-largest city in Ukraine – several Star Wars characters have managed to register as official candidates in the upcoming election. With names like Darth V. Vader, Stepan Chubakka (Chewbacca), Master V. Yoda, and Padme N. Amidala listed on the candidate roster, voters can’t be blamed for looking twice at the ballot.

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An excellent Nobel Peace Prize winner

October 11th, 2014 at 7:05 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for advocating girls’ right to education, and Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

With the prize, Yousafzai, 17, becomes the youngest Nobel Prize winner, eclipsing Australian-born British scientist Lawrence Bragg, who was 25 when he shared the Physics Prize with his father in 1915.

That’s a great choice.

Yousafzai was attacked in 2012 on a school bus in the Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan by masked gunmen as a punishment for a blog that she started writing for the BBC’s Urdu service as an 11-year-old to campaign against the Taliban’s efforts to deny women an education.

To advocate for such a worthy cause at age 11 is impressive enough by itself.

The shooting of her saw three bullets fired from close range. One hit, and went into her forehead and under her skin into her shoulder. As of today no one has gone on trial for her attempted murder.

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Remember peak oil?

October 10th, 2014 at 6:55 am by David Farrar

oil

This shows the known or proven level of oil reserves since 1980, from BPs annual oil report.

Do you recall how we were told for year after year we were at or about to hit peak oil, when production would reach a peak, and the associated oil depletion theory?

Well two things have happened. Production has not peaked and has increased every year, and the reserves are not getting smaller, but also are increasing.

 

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My favourite Australian Human Rights Commissioner

October 4th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Age reports:

New national security laws, which could see journalists jailed for up to 10 years, are likely to restrict the legitimate scrutiny of Australia’s security agencies, according to human rights commissioner Tim Wilson.

“The law is too broad,” Tim Wilson, who was appointed to the Human Rights Commission by Attorney-General George Brandis last year, said.

“There is the potential for botched operations to go unreported when ASIO really needs to be held accountable.

“Security operations should not be reported on if lives are at risk or if they are current operations. The media would usually approach this in a cautious and considered manner.”

Mr Wilson, a former policy analyst at the libertarian Institute of Public Affairs, is known as the “freedom commissioner” because of his commitment to civil and political rights such as freedom of expression.

I’d like to see a similar appointment to our Human Rights Commission – a Commissioner with a focus on the right to freedom of expression – even when that freedom offends people.

Wilson is also in the news again, criticising again the Government hat appointed him on the issue of the burqa:

AUSTRALIAN Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson has rejected calls to ban the burka, saying the move is not consistent with a tolerant society.

But Mr Wilson does believe it is legitimate to ask people to remove head wear and clothing if required at security screening to establish their identity.

“There’s no basis to ban the burka. To ban the burka is inconsistent with religious tolerance and liberal values,” Mr Wilson told The Australian.

It is indeed. Again good that Australia has a consistent voice for liberal values.

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Cameron announces tax cuts

October 4th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

David Cameron launched an audacious bid to woo voters in next year’s general election by pledging to raise the personal income tax threshold by £2,000 a year as well as lifting the 40% tax band to £50,000.

Casting the Conservatives as the “trade union for hardworking” people, the prime minister reached out to aspirational voters in Middle Britain by unveiling a £7.2bn double tax cutting promise, which prompted a rapturous reception at the Tory conference.

Increasing the tax-free personal allowance from £10,500 to £12,000 would, Cameron said, ensure that full-time workers on the minimum wage were exempt from paying income tax.

Excellent. We shouldn’t tax low income workers, just so we can then top their incomes up with welfare. We should have lower taxes and less welfare.

Pledged to deal with “fiscal drag”, the process by which lower income earners are dragged into paying higher tax rates, by announcing the threshold at which the 40% tax rate is paid would be raised from £41,900 to £50,000 by the end of the next parliament in 2020.

Also good.

Would be good to have the NZ Government firm up its commitment to tax cuts.

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The polite protesters

October 3rd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have been cleaning up after themselves after a night of battles with police who used tear gas and pepper spray in a crackdown condemned around the world.

Thousands of people are occupying the Admiralty district of the city in continued opposition to the Chinese Government’s refusal to let them select their own candidates for leadership elections in 2017, allowing only Beijing-backed politicians to stand.

As protests continue, people have been seen distributing food and water as well as cleaning up after themselves in the famously orderly city.

At the main protest site at the city’s Government headquarters, students sorted plastic bottles for recycling even as they wore goggles and plastic sheets to protect against pepper spray.

A polite note was also seen left on a vandalised police van, apologising for the damage.

I approve. The fact the protesters are acting so nicely makes the crack down on them by authorities look even worse.

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Abortion rights around the world

October 3rd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian has a fascinating graphic showing abortion rights around the world.

I’ve summarised the data by region below.

abortion

4% of countries do not allow an abortion in any circumstance, even to save the mother’s life. They are Malta, the Holy See (which to be fair has few pregnant women), Chile, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

96% allow abortion to save the mother’s life.

Only 67% of countries allow abortion to prevent physical harm to the mother and 64% to prevent mental harm.

If the mother was raped, or it was incest, then that is lawful reason for an abortion in only 52% of countries. Foetal impairment is also a legal ground in only 52% of cases.

36% of countries allow abortion for economic or social reasons and 30% have abortion legally available on demand or request. The region with the most liberal abortion laws is Europe and Africa has the least. Oceania is low also, but in NZ we effectively have abortion on request – but not as a legal right.

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11 pictures showing the fall of the USSR

October 2nd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

All Day has 11 pictures showing the fall of the USSR. It was the most significant geopolitical event since WWII. Worth checking out.

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Will Hong Kong protests end in deaths?

September 29th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Hong Kong police have fired volleys of tear gas to disperse pro-democracy protests and baton-charged a crowd blocking a key road in the government district in defiance of official warnings against illegal demonstrations.

Chaos had engulfed the city’s Admiralty district as chanting protesters converged on police barricades surrounding other demonstrators, who had earlier launched a “new era” of civil disobedience to pressure Beijing into granting full democracy.

Student and pro-democracy leaders late on Sunday urged supporters to retreat due to safety concerns amid speculation police could fire rubber bullets as tensions escalated.

Some supporters peeled away although thousands remained. Chan Kin-man, one of the co-founders of the Occupy Central movement, said its leaders would remain until they got arrested.

Police, in lines five deep in places and wearing helmets and gas masks, used pepper spray against activists and shot tear gas into the air. The crowds fled several hundred yards, scattering their umbrellas and hurling abuse at police “cowards”.

The demonstrators regrouped and returned however, and by early evening tens of thousands of protesters were thronging streets, including outside the prominent Pacific Place shopping mall that leads towards the Central financial district.

“If today I don’t stand out, I will hate myself in future,” said taxi driver Edward Yeung, 55, as he swore at police on the frontline. “Even if I get a criminal record it will be a glorious one.”

A former British colony, Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a formula known as “one country, two systems” that guaranteed a high degree of autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China. Universal suffrage was set as an eventual goal.

But Beijing last month rejected demands for people to freely choose the city’s next leader, prompting threats from activists to shut down Central in what is being seen as the most tenacious civil disobedience action since Britain pulled out. China wants to limit elections to a handful of candidates loyal to Beijing.

 

I hope the protesters win, and China backs down. Of course such a back down has to be in a way they can save face,

But if they crack down, instead of back down, I think Hong Kong will suffer from it – many will decide that it is just becoming part of China, rather than having some autonomy, and they could migrate to Taiwain, Singapore and other places.

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New Australian spy powers

September 28th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Australia’s spy agency could soon have the power to monitor the entire Australian internet after new anti-terrorism laws passed the Senate on Thursday night.

Australian spies will soon have the power to monitor the entire Australian internet with just one warrant, and journalists and whistleblowers will face up to 10 years’ jail for disclosing classified information.

The government’s first tranche of tougher anti-terrorism bills, which will beef up the powers of the domestic spy agency ASIO, passed the Senate by 44 votes to 12 last night with bipartisan support from Labor. …

The new bill also allows ASIO to seek just one warrant to access a limitless number of computers on a computer network when attempting to monitor a target, which lawyers, rights groups, academics and Australian media organisations have condemned.

They said this would effectively allow the entire internet to be monitored, as it is a “network of networks” and the bill does not specifically define what a computer network is.

ASIO will also be able to copy, delete, or modify the data held on any of the computers it has a warrant to monitor.

The bill also allows ASIO to disrupt target computers, and use innocent third-party computers not targeted in order to access a target computer.

On Wednesday afternoon, Senator Brandis confirmed that, under the legislation, ASIO would be able to use just one warrant to access numerous devices on a network.

The warrant would be issued by the director-general of ASIO or his deputy.

“There is no arbitrary or artificial limit on the number of devices,” Senator Brandis told the Senate. …

A third bill enabling the collection of internet and phone metadata for a period of up to two years for warrantless access by law-enforcement and spy agencies will be introduced later this year.

These changes in Australia show how benign the law is in NZ, by comparison. Some differences:

  • Mass surveillance allowed in Australia, but not in NZ (confirmed does not happen by the IGIS and Provacy Commissioner)
  • Law changes rushed through Parliament in a few days, as opposed to NZ which had a public submission process
  • Warrants can be issued by ASIO themselves with no need for warrant to be signed by a Minister and a judicial officer
  • Metadata collection and storing to be legalised in Australia, but not legal in NZ

So the NZ law is relatively narrow, and has checks and balances built in. The Australian law is not.

After concerns were raised by Labor and Senator Leyonhjelm, the government agreed to amend the legislation to specifically rule out ASIO using torture.

Well that’s something!

“The internet poses one of the greatest threats to our existence,” Palmer United Party Senator Glen Lazarus said, speaking out against Senator Ludlam’s amendment.

Oh dear.I’m glad I am in NZ.

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This is a good time to abolish the SIS and GCSB!

September 24th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Green Party policy is to:

We would therefore institute a select committee enquiry into whether the SIS should be abolished and its responsibilities returned to the police. …

we will abolish the GCSB and close its two signals intelligence bases at Waihopai and Tangimoana immediately.

Meanwhile in Australia:

A TEEN terror suspect under investigation for making threats against Prime Minister Tony Abbott was shot dead by police last night after stabbing a Victorian police officer and a federal police agent.

The injured officers, both from the Joint Counter Terrorism Team, are in hospital in a stable condition. …

Senior intelligence sources confirmed that the terrorism suspect had been among a number of people whose passports were recently cancelled.

It is believed that the man was well known to police, and had displayed Islamic State flags in the local Dandenong shopping centre.

And globally:

A 42-minute audio recording by an ISIS spokesman was released on social media Sunday, in which the group calls on Muslims to kill civilians in countries that belong to the anti-ISIS, U.S.-led coalition.

If you can kill a disbelieving American or European, especially the spiteful and filthy French, or an Australian, or a Canadian or any other disbeliever, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be,” an ISIS spokesman says.

Note the reference to “any other disbeliever”.

The Herald editorial notes:

What should New Zealand do? Does this country have malcontents who would embrace even ascetic religious fundamentalism for the sake of a cause? Have any been with Isis and returned? Should this country, too, offer special forces to assist Iraqi troops on the ground? That depends on whether the new Iraqi Government is better than the last, and whether US air support alone might be effective, as it was in protecting Kurdistan. The decision must not be influenced by the possibility of terrorism at home. As Australia has shown, good intelligence can keep us safe.

This is worth reflecting on.

That doesn’t mean that the GCSB should be allowed to do what it wants. Absolutely not. I am against mass surveillance of New Zealanders (which does not occur in NZ). But be aware the Greens are not just against mass surveillance – their official policy is to abolish the GCSB entirely – and look at abolishing the SIS also. They take an unbalanced view on these issues, and that view has dangers as our closest neighbour comes under attack.

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More concern in Australia

September 20th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Daily Telegraph reports:

ARMED Australian Federal Police officers will take back command and control of Parliament House in Canberra after fresh revelations suspected terrorists were planning a potential attack on the nation’s capital and the country’s highest office.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott this morning confirmed the Daily Telegraph report that intelligence agencies had picked up “chatter” involving a potential random attack on Parliament House, with fears among national security and intelligence agencies that the Prime Minister and other senior government officials were prime targets.

The “chatter” about Parliament House had been intercepted and they now held fears the building had already been “scoped out” for pre-planning of a “Mumbai” style attack involving automatic weapons.

The chatter, intercepted by spy, police and counterterrorism agencies, ­revealing talk about access to Parliament House was confirmed by two senior intelligence officials. It is believed the chatter also involved possible reprisal attacks against ASIO.

In response, senior security sources have identified the most vulnerable entry point to parliament was the entrance to the ministerial wing, which could be infiltrated by “taking out” two unarmed parliamentary security officers who represent the only sentry point to prevent instant access to the PM’s own courtyard.

From there a potential terrorist would have a direct line of sight into the PM’s office, they confirmed.

It is understood several armed AFP officers have been redeployed to Parliament House. Over the next few days their numbers will be dramatically increased to secure the building, which under current arrangements is among the least secure official buildings in the country.

This is a pity. We want people to be able to visit Parliaments as bastions of democracy, and not see them as armed fortifications.

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Russia now moves against the Internet

September 20th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

The Kremlin is considering radical plans to unplug Russia from the global internet in the event of a serious military confrontation or big anti-government protests at home, Russian officials hinted on Friday.

President Vladimir Putin will convene a meeting of his security council on Monday. It will discuss what steps Moscow might take to disconnect Russian citizens from the web “in an emergency”, the Vedomosti newspaper reported. The goal would be to strengthen Russia’s sovereignty in cyberspace. The proposals could also bring the domain .ru under state control, it suggested.

Russian TV and most of the country’s newspapers are under the Kremlin’s thumb. But unlike in China, the Russian internet has so far remained a comparatively open place for discussion, albeit one contested by state-sponsored bloggers and Putin fans.

According to Vedomosti, Russia plans to introduce the new measures early next year. The Kremlin has been wrestling for some time with how to reduce Russia’s dependency on American technology and digital infrastructure, amid fears that its communications are vulnerable to US spying. It has mooted building a “national internet”, which would in effect be a domestic intranet. These proposals go further, expanding the government’s control over ordinary Russian internet users and their digital habits.

The most ominous element, he added, was the security council’s apparent proposal to take control over .ru, as well as the domains .su (for Soviet Union) and .рф (Russian Federation in Cyrillic). These domains currently belong to a non-government organisation, the coordination centre of the national domain, rather than to government. Many are currently hosted abroad.

There comes a point at which Russia goes from merely being an authoritarian country to a dictatorship. It’s sad to see Russia continue to slide backwards.

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Scotland vote breakdown

September 20th, 2014 at 7:32 am by David Farrar

Scotland

This is a breakdown of the Scottish independence referendum vote by council. It is sorted from largest to smallest.

Only four of the 32 councils voted for independence. They represented 22.1% of the Scottish electorate.

The largest area, Glasgow, did vote for independence. Edinburgh voted more strongly against.

10 of the 32 areas voted No by 60% or more. The highest yes vote was 57.3%.

It will be interesting now to see what extra powers are devolved to Scotland, and whether this leads to an English assembly or parliament. The more that gets devolved to Scotland, the more unacceptable it will be to have Scottish MPs in Westminster voting on laws that affect England only. David Cameron has announced he will propose a change along these lines, but will have to get the agreement of Labour or the Lib Dems.

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Scotland votes No

September 19th, 2014 at 5:23 pm by David Farrar

While I intellectually was a supporter of yes, I am emotionally pleased the the great United Kingdom remains intact. More importantly it was a decision made be residents of Scotland, for Scotland. A massive turnout – over 90% in some areas.

I’ll do a fuller analysis tomorrow.

At this stage with 31 of 32 councils reporting. yes is at 44.6% and no at 55.4% so not that close. The margin is around 380,000 votes.

Three out of 31 voted yes, with the highest yes being 57.4% in Dundee City.

28 have voted no, with the highest being 67.2% in the Orkney Islands.

The closest result is Inverclyde with 27,243 yes and 27,329 no.

Not a fan of Alex Salmond. His challenge now is to be humble and lead a constructive negotiation for more devolution.

David Cameron will be relieved. He did not want to be the PM who presided over the dissolution of the United Kingdom, and it may have cost him his job if yes had won.

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A clear victory

September 19th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Political parties bound for the opposition benches and those who failed to make the Fiji Parliament want the vote count suspended.

As of last night, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama’s Fiji First Party had taken a commanding lead – securing more than 60 per cent of valid votes – and will almost certainly form the next Government. Its closest rival, Sodelpa, was just under 27 per cent, and would not be in a position to beat Fiji First with about 400,000 of the 520,000 votes counted.

But Sodelpa, One Fiji, National Federation Party, People’s Democratic Parties and the Fiji Labour Party said they would not accept the results and alleged vote rigging.

“We will not accept the outcome based on the evidence available which points to a co-ordinated and systematic effort to defraud the citizens of Fiji of a free and fair election,” the parties said.

This is nonsense, coming from the losers. The international observers have said it was a fair and free election. The opposition parties should focus on being an effective opposition that can hold the Government to account – rather than disputing the election result, which is clear cut.

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Beheadings planned in Sydney!

September 18th, 2014 at 2:32 pm by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

HORRIFIC details have emerged of a plot to behead an Australian and upload it to social media in a deliberate attack against the country.

While the claims remain unconfirmed, Channel Seven reports one the men charged in this morning’s raids in Sydney planned to kidnap a random Australian, execute them by beheading in a public place, possibly Martin Place in Sydney’s CBD, and film the act and post on social media.

Further reports have emerged terrorists planned to drape the victim in an Islamic State flag.

The man, charged for serious terrorism related offences, is due in a Sydney court later today.

Beyond appalling.  And how was this stopped:

The operation is understood to have been given the green light after months of surveillance of Australians believed to be linked to extremist terror group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

People may want to reflect on this. We’re not talking about the Middle East. We’re not talking New York. We’re not talking London. We’re talking Sydney.

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Bainimarama well ahead

September 18th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

fij

Results from Fiji Times. A huge mandate to Bainimarama – as expected.

The challenge will be to see how he rules as Prime Minister. If he can get democratic government working again, that will be a good thing. That has to include though a free media.

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Putin’s propaganda

September 17th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Atlantic reports:

At the NATO summit in Wales last week, General Philip Breedlove, the military alliance’s top commander, made a bold declaration. Russia, he said, is waging “the most amazing information warfare blitzkrieg we have ever seen in the history of information warfare.”

It was something of an underestimation. The new Russia doesn’t just deal in the petty disinformation, forgeries, lies, leaks, and cyber-sabotage usually associated with information warfare. It reinvents reality, creating mass hallucinations that then translate into political action. Take Novorossiya, the name Vladimir Putin has given to the huge wedge of southeastern Ukraine he might, or might not, consider annexing. The term is plucked from tsarist history, when it represented a different geographical space. Nobody who lives in that part of the world today ever thought of themselves as living in Novorossiya and bearing allegiance to it—at least until several months ago. Now, Novorossiya is being imagined into being: Russian media are showing maps of its ‘geography,’ while Kremlin-backed politicians are writing its ‘history’ into school textbooks. There’s a flagand even a news agency (in English and Russian). There are several Twitterfeeds. It’s like something out of a Borges story—except for the very real casualties of the war conducted in its name.

It’s like a George Orwell novel.

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