Archive for the ‘International Politics’ Category

Australia decides not to nominate Rudd

July 29th, 2016 at 3:51 pm by David Farrar

Radio NZ reports:

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed he will not be nominating Kevin Rudd to be the next secretary-general of the United Nations.

Speaking in Sydney today, Mr Turnbull said he had decided the former prime minister was not suitable for the role.

He said the federal government would not be nominating anyone for the role.

“When the Australian government nominates a person for a job, particularly an international job like this, the threshold question is, ‘do we believe the person, the nominee, the would-be nominee is well suited for that position?'” he asked.

“My judgement is that Mr Rudd is not, and I’ve explained to him the reasons why.”

Very unusual for a Government not to support a former Prime Minister, but Rudd’s dysfunctional leadership style was well known and hence less surprising that he wasn’t nominated.

UK Labour is a fight to the death

July 28th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

James Kirkup writes in The Telegraph:

There are wars where the two parties fight in the hope of seizing territory, righting a wrong or making a point, before settling the conflict with a deal each hopes will be advantageous to their interests.

And then there is total war, when each side knows that the fight only ends in the total destruction of one side, or perhaps even both. 

Jeremy Corbyn has today confirmed that the struggle underway in the Labour Party is now the political equivalent of total war. 

He did it with these words, at the launch of his campaign to keep his job, when he was asked whether Labour MPs should face mandatory re-selection to stand again as Labour candidates at the next election

“There would be a full selection process in every constituency but the sitting MP… would have an opportunity to put their name forward.

If Corbyn wins, his supporters will try and deselect 80% of the caucus.

If Mr Corbyn, the strong favourite to win, is indeed returned as leader on September 24 and moves ahead with mandatory reselection (backed by many members and the Unite trade union) then Labour would split.  

A number of sitting MPs would find themselves deselected as Labour candidates for the 2020 election, but still in Parliament, effectively independent of Mr Corbyn’s organisation. Some might even chose to stand again against Mr Corbyn’s “official” Labour candidate in their seat.  

It’s hard to see how a Labour Party fundamentally split in such a manner would lead to anything other than a comfortable Conservative election victory. Mr Corbyn’s words this morning could well mean Theresa May is Prime Minister until 2025.

Maybe even 2030, but I imagine she would hand over in her this term.

CIS on Kruger and terrorism

July 28th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Jeremy Sammut writes at CIS:

Banning Muslim immigration — as TV personality Sonia Kruger has urged — would cause more problems than it would solve. It would, at a minimum, violate the first rule of a successful non-discriminatory immigration program, which is that you cannot invite people into a country, insult them, and not expect to compromise social cohesion.

I agree. Treating all 1.4 billion Muslims as identical in views and beliefs is as silly as thinking the Pope and Brian Tamaki have the same views and beliefs.

That said, Kruger does not deserve the abuse that has been doled out for thinking aloud about Islamist terrorism and throwing up the idea of a religion-based migration bar.

The idea that Kruger is a racist is absurd. What is more telling is that someone who is far from being a culture warrior dared to cross a cultural fault line and express such an un-PC opinion.

Kruger is a modern woman who, like most of us, takes the norms of western democratic societies for granted. Like most of us, as well, she finds it unfathomable that religious belief would motivate the kind of horrific acts of political violence that are proliferating in number and scale in countries with large Muslim populations.

Unlike her critics, at least Kruger is honest, and takes the religious origins of terrorism seriously — and doesn’t buy the myth that atrocities like Paris and Nice are ‘nothing to do with religion’.

Kruger’s solution was wrong, but you should be able to debate the issue.

So far this year there have been 1,309 Islamic attacks, which is about seven a day. And more and more of these are happening in “Western” countries, so it is no surprise that people are scared and want to debate how to make their communities safer.

There have, of course, been predictable claims made about hatred and ‘Islamophobia’ … lead by local Islamic leaders and organisations.

Once again, the Islamic community has failed to adopt a more constructive approach. Instead of denying that terrorism has anything to do with Islam, they should accept that the kind of concerns Kruger articulated about religiously-motivated terrorism are entirely legitimate.

Many Australians simply do not understand why the Islamic community cannot come out strongly and state plainly that they share their fellow citizens’ concerns about what a minority of their co-religionists do in the name of their religion.

If they did this, they would practise what I think is the second rule of a successful non-discriminatory immigration program: fears about social cohesion are best addressed not by migrant groups playing the perpetual victim, but by demonstrating that these groups fully share and believe in mainstream Australian values.

Well said.

Focusing on issues back home

July 28th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

ACT point out:

Green Times
According to her Green Party bio, Green MP Marama Davidson is ‘an online activist.’ She is now travelling to the Middle East to protest the blockade of the Gaza strip. We can only assume she has paid her own way including carbon credits, and she will be speaking out against the homophobia and misogyny in Gaza as well as the Israeli blockade.

Good to know everything is so good here that the big focus is Israel trying to stop suicide bombers.

Hamas, who control Gaza, are real friends of the people. Their record includes:

  • seizing union property
  • killing the union deputy general secretary
  • torturing people for being gay
  • banned girls from riding on motor scooters with men
  • banned women from doing marathons
  • banned a book of Palestinian folk-tales
  • beaten people for wearing hair gel

Will Marama Davidson be protesting against any of that?


July 27th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A priest has been beheaded and a nun is “fighting for her life” after two knife-wielding Islamic State terrorists took worshippers hostage at a church in northern France.

The attackers were shot and killed after raiding a morning Mass at 9am Tuesday (7pm Tuesday NZT) in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen in Normandy.

A third suspect – pictured wearing a white T-shirt and blue tracksuit pants – has been arrested.

Father Jacques Hamel, 84, was slaughtered by the assailants.

A nun who was in the church during the attack said he was forced to the ground before his throat was slit.

The slaughter of innocents is almost becoming a daily occurrence.

Cato on reforming socialist economies

July 26th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Cato report:

The transition from socialism to the market economy produced a divide between those who advocated rapid, or “big-bang” reforms, and those who advocated a gradual approach. More than 25 years have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, providing ample empirical data to test those approaches. Evidence shows that early and rapid reformers by far outperformed gradual reformers, both on economic measures such as GDP per capita and on social indicators such as the United Nations Human Development Index.

I am not surprised.

A key argument for gradualism was that too-rapid reforms would cause great social pain. In reality, rapid reformers experienced shorter recessions and recovered much earlier than gradual reformers. Indeed a much broader measure of well-being, the Human Development Index, points to the same conclusion: the social costs of transition in rapidly reforming countries were lower.

NZ would be far worse off if we had not had the rapid reforms from 1984 to 1993.

Venezuela will get worse

July 26th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

As bad as Venezuela is now, it looks like it will get worse.

The latest IMF projections are:

  • Economy will shrink 26.1% over six years
  • Inflation will hit 3500%
  • Unemployment will exceed 26%

That level of economic shrinkage is unprecedented – only the Great Depression was worse.

Trump backs away from NATO

July 25th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar reports:

DONALD Trump hinted at a new world order if he becomes president, saying the United States, under his leadership, might not come to the defence of some NATO members if Russia were to attack them.

The Republican nominee said he would decide whether to protect the Baltic republics against Russian aggression based on whether those countries “have fulfilled their obligations to us.” …

Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves tweeted: “Estonia is 1 of 5 NATO allies in Europe to meet its 2% def expenditures commitment. Fought, with no caveats, in NATO’s sole Art 5 op. in Afg.”

Michael McFaul, a former US ambassador to Russia, tweeted: “We have had decades of bipartisan commitment to NATO, which has made it the greatest alliance in history. Trump is now threatening that.”

We all know who Putin will be hoping wins.

Venezuela on verge of bankruptcy

July 24th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

CNN report:

The IMF forecasts Venezuela’s economy will shrink 10% this year, worse than its previous estimate of 8%. It also estimates that inflation in Venezuela will catapult to 700% this year, up from the earlier guess of about 480%.

Massive inflation and a depression. That requires special skills – generally known as socialism.

The numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. Venezuela is deep into a humanitarian crisis — people are dying in ill-equipped hospitals and many live without basic food items. Venezuela can’t pay to import goods because its government is desperately strapped for cash after years of mismanagement of its funds, heavy spending on poorly-run government programs, and lack of investment on its oil fields.

They have the largest oil reserves in the world but natural resources don’t always lead to wealth – look at Zimbabwe.

It’s all even more tragic given that despite Venezuela’s oil abundance, its state-run oil company, PDVSA, is broke. Venezuela’s oil production fell to a 13-year low in June, according to OPEC, of which it’s a member.

It’s cash and gold stockpile are dwindling too. Veneuzuela’s foreign reserves are now a mere $11.9 billion, according to its central bank. Two years ago it had $20 billion. The country has had to ship gold to Switzerland this year to help pay down its debts.

Venezuela could be quickly approaching an economic judgment day. It owes about $5 billion in a string of bond payments between October and November. Many experts believe the chance of default is very high.

I suspect the Government will be toppled in 2017. Either through a popular uprising, or when they can’t afford to pay the Army. But sadly by then the country will be in such dire straits, that it will take many years to recover.

Herald optimism misplaced

July 23rd, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Paul Buchanan and Kate Nicholls write:

As students of comparative civil-military relations, we were surprised to read theHerald’s editorial, “Coup’s failure hopeful sign for democracy.” We see no positives resulting from the aborted coup. Instead we foresee the death throes of a painstakingly crafted secular, albeit imperfect, democracy, that has been under siege since the election of Recep Erdogan as Prime Minister in 2003 and President in 2014.

The cornerstones of Turkish democracy were an apolitical professional military, an independent secular judiciary, and a multiparty electoral system characterised by a separation of powers and a system of checks and balances between the executive and legislative branches.

Granted, Kemal Ataturk’s nationalism, which bound the country together in the wake of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, often worked to stifle free speech and repress ethnic minorities, notably the Kurds. Turkish democracy has also always been “guarded”, meaning that the military has on occasion acted as unelected veto-player. Yet since the rise of Erdogan to power 16 years ago, things have gotten incrementally but steadily worse.

Since he assumed office, Erdogan has undermined the judiciary by appointing ideological cronies and firing or arresting independent-minded jurists; sacked hundreds of senior military officers and replaced them with loyalists; introduced mandatory Islamic Studies into military curricula; censored, banned and/or arrested non-supplicant media outlets and reporters; rigged electoral rules in favour of his own party; and instituted constitutional amendments designed to perpetrate his rule and re-impose Sharia precepts on public institutions (something not seen since the days of the Ottomans).

Erdogan’s response to the coup makes me somewhat regret it didn’t succeed.

He has alleged it is the work of some exile in the US. Not a shred of evidence has been produced to back this up. But on the basis of this allegation, he has purged judges, police, civil servants and academics. He’s even banned academics from overseas travel without permission.

I fear elections will be the next to go.

May destroys Corbyn

July 23rd, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar reports:

Asked a question by the Labour leader about “job security”, Mrs May ripped into Mr Corbyn for ignoring the clamour from his own MPs for him to resign, being forced to ask his few loyal MPs to take on multiple jobs and managing to change the party rules to allow him to contest the upcoming leadership contest.

“I’m interested that he refers to the situation of some workers who might have some job insecurity and potentially unscrupulous bosses,” she quipped. “I suspect that there are many members on the opposition benches who might be familiar with an unscrupulous boss.

“A boss who doesn’t listen to his workers.

“A boss who requires some of his workers to double their workload.

“And maybe even a boss who exploits the rules to further his own career.”

Pausing for dramatic effect she leaned across the despatch box and added: “Remind him of anybody?”

Superb. Look at the video on the link. Devastating.

Mrs May also used the occasion to attack Labour for the party’s record on woman leaders.

In a devastating assault on Mr Corbyn, she said: “In my years here in this House I’ve long heard the Labour Party asking what the Conservatives party does for women.

“It just keeps making us Prime Minister.”


Is a federal UK how best to keep it together?

July 22nd, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Philip Johnston writes in The Telegraph:

The all-party Constitutional Reform Group (CRG) has just published proposals for a new Act of Union that would effectively turn the county into a federation, with four self-standing national units voluntarily pooling their sovereignty to a central administration. At its most radical, the plan would see an English Parliament and the replacement of the House of Lords with a new second chamber drawn from the four parts of the UK.

The proposals “start from the position that each of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is a unit that both can and should determine its own affairs to the extent that it considers it should; but that each unit should also be free to choose to share, through an efficient and effective United Kingdom, functions which are more effectively exercised on a shared basis”. 

Common UK functions might include the constitutional monarch as head of state, national security, foreign affairs and defence, human rights, immigration, the supreme court, the currency, a central bank, some taxation powers, and the civil service. Everything else would be controlled by the nations and regions

This is a complete reversal of what happens now, where a central government devolves power to the periphery as it sees it fit.

This is the model which I think will best preserve the UK. Four national parliaments and one UK Parliament that has a limited role.

The 1st Secretary General straw poll

July 22nd, 2016 at 8:44 am by David Farrar

The results of the 15 member security council straw poll for Secretary General appears to be:

  1. Antonio Guterres (Portugal) 12-3-0
  2. Danilo Turk (Slovenia) 11-2-2
  3. Irina Bokova (Bulgaria) 9-2-4
  4. Vuk Jeremic (Serbia) 9-1-5
  5. Srgjan Kerim (Macedonia) 9-1-5
  6. Helen Clark (New Zealand) 8-2-5
  7. Susanna Malcorra (Argentina) 7-?-?
  8. Christiana Figueres (Costa Rica) 5-5-5
  9. Natalia Gherman (Moldova)
  10. Igor Luksic (Montenegro)
  11. Vesna Pucic (Croatia) ?-?-11

This is not a great result for Clark, but good enough to stay in the race. To some degree what is more important is how the P5 countries voted as they all have a veto. Clark is reported to have received a number of discourage votes. If one of them is from a P5 member, that is pretty fatal.

UPDATE: More voting figures known and added. Clark’s 5 discourage votes is quite high and her chances now appear diminished.

If Guterres was from Eastern Europe he’d be picked as he had no discourages. The highest placed Eastern European is Turk but we don’t know if one of his two discourages was from a P5 member. Russia was unhappy with the outcome of the straw poll it seems so they may be one of them.


What some political staffers will do for their bosses!

July 21st, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar reports:

The SBS special Pauline Hanson: Please Explain, which airs later this month, includes a range of surprising revelations, including her first sexual encounter with former colleague David Oldfield.

On the night of her infamous maiden speech in 1996, Oldfield — who was a Liberal staffer for Tony Abbott at the time — made contact with Hanson and arranged a meeting at a Canberra pub.

“He just said his name was David, he wouldn’t tell me his last name for reasons who he worked for,” she in the documentary. “He came over to the motel I was staying in, we had dinner and he stayed the night. He left the next morning.”

But Oldfield bluntly insists “there was no romance in that sex” and cryptically said he was “doing what I had to do for Tony”.

He had sex with Pauline Hanson, for Tony.

Glad the MPs I worked for never required that of me 🙂

Who needs guns – trucks and axes will do

July 21st, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Some people say there will be less terrorism is there is less easy access to guns – especially in the US. While I do support greater gun control restrictions in the US, I don’t think it will make it greatly harder for people to do mass killings. We saw around 80 killed in France with a truck and now 18 injured in Bavaria with an axe.

Stuff reports:

An axe-wielding attacker who went on a rampage on a train in Germany, injuring up to 18 people, was a 17-year-old Afghan youth, authorities say.

The attack occurred in Heidingsfeld in the German state of Bavaria late on Monday (local time), injuring some passengers critically, a police spokesman said.

Eyewitnesses said the youth attempted to run from the scene after the attack, according to reports. It was understood he was shot and killed by police. …

The youth shouted “Allahu Akhbar”- Arabic for “God is great” – before he was shot, two German security officials said.

Bavarian Interior Ministry officials described the attacker as an Afghan national who had arrived in Germany as an unaccompanied refugee.

The officials said it was not yet clear whether the incident was an act of terrorism.

When someone attacks multiple strangers and yells out “Allahu Akhbar”, then pretty safe to say it is an act of terrorism. I doubt there are any two words that are now more terrifying to hear someone yell out aloud.

Who killed UK Labour?

July 20th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Nick Cohen writes:

Seumas Milne remains on the staff of the Guardian and Observer while Labour pays him to work as its director of strategy. As a colleague on leave, he has the right to be treated with a gentleness journalists would not usually extend to spin doctors who do not enjoy his advantages. I therefore write with the caution of a good corporate man and the cheeriness of a co-worker when I say Milne could not do a better job of keeping the Tories in power if rogue MI5 agents had groomed him at Winchester College, signed him up at Oxford University and instructed him to infiltrate and destroy the Labour party.

Yep the hard left managed to take over Labour, and are on their way to destroying it.

He is what the far left becomes when it crashes through the looking glass. Milne defended Stalin’s one-party communist state but is now turning England into a one-party Tory state.

Great line.

Jon Lansman, head of Momentum backed him and declared in words that should be engraved on his tomb that “winning is the small bit that matters to elites that want to keep power themselves”. Only a smug member of the haute bourgeoisiecould come out with such a reckless justification for perpetual rightwing rule.

Heh never heard winning as being the small bit before.

Millions want the parliamentary opposition Labour’s founders promised. They need it now when the right has taken the opportunity the far left has gifted them to go on the rampage. There is one prediction about the Labour party I can make, however: if Corbyn does not go, and Labour does not change, it is inevitable that the whiff of violence will be replaced by the stench of its death.

The latest poll in the UK shows that May vs Corbyn would see the Conservatives get 44% and Labour 26%.

On who would be better for the economy May and Hammond get 53% and Corbyn and McDonnell get 15%.

Type 1 diabetes

July 20th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

An interview in 2014 with Theresa May over her Type 1 diabetes:

Despite showing the classic diabetes symptoms, Home Secretary Theresa May put them down to her hectic schedule during the London 2012 Games. Now diagnosed with Type 1, she reveals how she hasn’t let the condition affect her demanding role.

When she came down with a heavy cold in November 2012, Home Secretary Theresa May’s first thought was that she should get it checked out by her GP. Her husband had just had a similar cold that had developed into bronchitis, so it made sense for her to get it looked at before the same thing happened to her. But she had no idea that this was a visit to the GP that would change her life forever.

While she was there, she mentioned to her GP that she had recently lost a lot of weight, though she hadn’t thought much about it and had put it down to “dashing about” in her role as Home Secretary. But the GP decided to do a blood test anyway. Suddenly, she was being told that she had diabetes.

The news came as a shock, though looking back she realises she had some of theclassic symptoms. As well as the weight loss, she was drinking more water than usual and making more frequent trips to the bathroom. But, it wasn’t something she thought about much at the time. “That summer was the Olympics, so life was in a different order,” she says. “There was a lot more going on, so I didn’t really notice.”

She was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, but, when the medication didn’t work she went for further tests and, eventually, the news came back that she had Type 1.

“My very first reaction was that it’s impossible because at my age you don’t get it,” she says, reflecting the popular misconception that only younger people get diagnosed with Type 1. In fact, one in five people diagnosed with Type 1 are over 40 when they develop it. “But, then my reaction was: ‘Oh no, I’m going to have to inject’ and thinking about what that would mean in practical terms.”

The change in diagnosis meant switching from taking tablets to two insulin injections per day, which has now increased to four. And while she was already aware of the condition – a cousin developed it as a teenager – like anyone with diabetes, she had to quickly learn what managing it meant in practical terms.

Shows that you can do a very demanding job, even with diabetes.

UK votes for Trident

July 19th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

The debate on Trident opened with Theresa May’s first appearance at the dispatch box as Prime Minister. It was an ideal way to start, given that not only was the Government on her side, but almost all of the Opposition.

Little more than five minutes had passed before a Labour MP (John Woodock, Barrow and Furness) leapt up to denounce the anti-Trident stance of his leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Mrs May welcomed this intervention, and quoted Labour’s official view on Trident, which is firmly pro.

British politics in 2016, ladies and gentlemen: a Tory PM approvingly quotes Labour policy, while a Labour leader argues against it.

Corbyn demands loyalty, but won’t even be loyal to his own party’s policy.

The SNP, who shared Mr Corbyn’s opposition to Trident, asked Mrs May if she was really prepared “to launch a nuclear strike that could kill a hundred thousand innocent men, women and children?”

“Yes,” replied Mrs May, without hesitation. “Wow!” gasped the SNP benches theatrically, pretending to be shocked – as if they’d expected her to say, “Heavens, no. Our enemies must understand that if they attack us, I would never fire back!” 

Which is Corbyn’s policy.

Mr Corbyn spoke next. It was some spectacle: the Labour leader arguing one way, his MPs disagreeing.

“My honourable friend is very fond of telling us that party conference is sovereign when it comes to policy,” snapped Angela Smith (Lab, Penistone and Stockbridge).

“Last year, conference voted overwhelmingly in favour of maintaining the nuclear deterrent!” Other Labour MPs cheered.

If Corbyn hangs onto the leadership, I have no doubt Labour will split.


What will Australia do?

July 19th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Support may be building for Helen Clark’s bid to head the United Nations as John Key talks up her prospects of emerging the compromise candidate.

Clark has long been considered a frontrunner for the job based on her credentials, and shored up that position after being widely rated the winner of a debate with other contenders last week.

To win Clark has to overcome three critical hurdles – a prevailing view that it’s Eastern Europe’s “turn” to lead the UN; winning the backing of all five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the P5), any of which can veto a candidate in order to promote their own pick and, finally, the winning candidate won’t necessarily be chosen on merit, but on the basis of horse-trading between the so-called P5.

It is hard to see why Russia would support a candidate not from Eastern Europe, and it has a veto. Clark’s chances are based on that no Eastern European candidate is acceptable.

At present she is second with the bookies, with Bokova still deemed most likely.

But Clark now faces another potential obstacle — former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has finally been forced into the open as a potential contender, after denying for months that he wanted the job.

The country’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, confirmed on Monday the new Australian Cabinet would consider whether to nominate Rudd this week.

Rudd also believes he can be the compromise candidate, and is said to have been on the international circuit for months lobbying governments for their backing on that basis.

Australia would have to renege on a previous deal to back Clark if it nominates Rudd – former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott promised his support for Clark’s candidacy and even gave Key a letter promising her Australia’s backing.

But that’s not Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s biggest headache – Rudd is widely disliked in Australian politics, with fellow politicians, and media, lining up to lambast his bid.

One Australian politician labelled him “dysfunctional”, “vengeful”, “unstable” and “megalomaniac”, while another made the comment “Kevin’s ego makes Donald Trump’s look like a rounding error”.

Even the fiercely parochial Australian media are urging Turnbull to back Clark over Rudd.

Normally a country would automatically back one of their own, and especially a former PM, for any international role. But it speaks volumes about Rudd that so many are hesitant.

Death Penalty or EU membership

July 19th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

European Union foreign ministers urged Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday (Tuesday NZ Time) to respect the law and human rights in dealing with defeated coup plotters, warning that reinstating the death penalty would likely end Ankara’s EU membership bid.

After a breakfast in Brussels with US Secretary of State John Kerry, the ministers condemned the weekend coup attempt in a common EU statement, but expressed alarm at Erdogan’s public comments on Sunday (Monday NZT) that there could be no delay in using capital punishment.

“The EU recalls that the unequivocal rejection of the death penalty is an essential element of the union acquis,” ministers said, referring to the body of EU law that underpins the bloc.

The statement was agreed by all 28 EU ministers, including new British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who campaigned successfully for Britons to vote to leave the bloc, attending his first EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.

Germany, Austria and France also warned separately that bringing back the death penalty, which Turkey abolished in 2004, would undo years of membership talks that began in 2005.

“Reintroduction of the death penalty would prevent successful negotiations to join the EU,” said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a position echoed by his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault in less direct terms.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini noted that Turkey was a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights, which bans capital punishment across the continent.

It will be interesting to see what Erdogan does. Being able to join the EU has been an ambition for Turkey for many years, and will he want to walk away from that?

Having said that, the chance of membership in the foreseeable future is minimal. A few years ago there was considerable support for Turkey being able to join, but since then freedom of speech and other aspects of democracy have been whittled away.

Will Australia support Rudd

July 18th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Elizabeth Farrelly writes in the SMH:

We really need to talk about Kevin. Our choice is between a wildly inexperienced but bumptious male and a wise, experienced female, respected, accomplished, fit-for-purpose. But really, is this even a contest?

I’m not talking Trump v Clinton (although if the cap fits, right?) I’m talking Kevin Rudd v Helen Clark, vying for UN Secretary-General. …

If Malcolm had just one act left, one wave-of-the-wand to restore Australia’s tattered image as a grown-up nation, it should be this. Transcend national rivalry. Forget the Bledisloe Cup, won by NZ 43 times of 55. Be big. Support Helen Clark for Secretary-General. 

There is significant opposition to a nomination for Rudd in Australia. The SMH reports:

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said in April that Mr Rudd was behaving like a pest, and should take up a more normal retirement hobby “and play golf or buy a caravan“.

“Kevin was never happy just running Australia. He believed he was always destined to run the world,” Mr Dutton said. “Kevin’s ego makes Donald Trump’s look like a rounding error.”

Quote of the week.

Democracy dying in Turkey

July 18th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Even before the unrest was under control, Erdogan’s government pressed ahead Saturday with a purge of Turkish judicial officials, with 2,745 judges being dismissed across Turkey for alleged ties to Gulen, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency. It said 10 members of Turkey’s highest administrative court were detained and arrest warrants were issued for 48 administrative court members and 140 members of Turkey’s appeals court.

Erdogan is using the attempted coup as an excuse. The coup plotters should be arrested, but sacking 2,475 judges is an authoritarian act.  Sadly the once great country of Turkey looks to have a dim future.

The NSW greyhound racing ban

July 17th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Tim Blair blogs:

An extract from the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry in New South Wales, the report that convinced Mike Baird to ban greyhound racing:

“The evidence shows that 40% of those greyhounds whelped never make it to the race track. As one breeder stated, “Dogs who don’t have the instinct [to chase] or the tools to be a consistent winner – well a good handler can spot it a mile away … Most of the time I’d drown the pups.” In the greyhound industry, this mass slaughter of young and older greyhounds bred for the purpose of greyhound racing, and which are subsequently destroyed either prior to being named or raced, or upon retirement from racing, is euphemistically called “wastage” or euthanasia.”

That breeder’s comment is credited to a 2008 study subsequently cited last year by the Australian Working Dog Alliance in their “Review & Assessment of Best Practice, Rearing, Socialisation, Education & Training Methods for Greyhounds in a Racing Context.” So it’s relatively recent and applies to Australia, right?


The comment comes from a 2005 report by Canadian academics Michael Atkinson and Kevin Young, and is from anAmerican breeder identified only as Ernie. His full remarks reveal that he was discussing practices undertaken some years prior to the report’s decade-old publication:

“Culling happens, it really does. As a breeder, one of the skills you acquire is the ability to look at a pup and watch its gait for potential. Dogs who don’t have the instinct [to chase] or the tools to be a consistent winner, well, a good handler can spot it a mile away. From time to time, a pup might have poor eyesight or be born blind, and that’s the worst … When a dog has no place in the business at all, you face an ugly task. We won’t risk letting the puppy go to a pet store or family, because they might breed it and get a champion from one of the litters. So, to save time and money on a dog, it, and any of its siblings in a similar condition, are culled … Most of the time, I’d drown the pups or, towards my last few years breeding them, I’d go to a local vet. No one I know tortures the dogs or neglects them, though. There’s no need for it.”

Baird’s ban relied, at least in part, on abbreviated testimony from an unknown man somewhere in the US who was talking about something that happened before he stopped breeding greyhounds. Seems a flimsy basis upon which to outlaw an entire industry.

I agree. This is not evidence based decision making and fairly shocking that it is referenced in a report implying it is a view and practice in Australia.

No tag for this post.

Coup fails in Turkey

July 16th, 2016 at 5:27 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian has good coverage of the events in Turkey. It looks like the coup has failed, partly because the most senior military leadership was not behind it.

A coup is the last resort and wasn’t justified. However I think President Erdoğan has a track record of trying to consolidate and abuse power, and I worry he will use this to give himself more power and impose his Islamist leanings on what has previously been a very good secular Muslim majority nation.

Go German teachers

July 16th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Teachers in Germany have set off a national controversy after they boycotted their own school’s leavers’ ceremony in protest at a Muslim pupil who refused to shake hands with a female member of staff.

The teachers demanded that the teenage pupil, who has not been named under German privacy laws, be excluded from the ceremony over the incident.

But he won the backing of the school’s head teacher, who insisted he be allowed to attend.

The row at the Kurt Tucholsky secondary school in Hamburg has renewed debate in Germany over whether religious pupils can be forced to shake hands with teachers of the opposite sex.

The dispute began at the end of an oral examination for the Abitur, the German equivalent of A levels. The teacher conducting the exam held out her hand to the pupil to congratulate him, but he refused to shake it and offered her his wrist instead.

He asked to speak to her alone, and told her “I’m not doing this out of disrespect, but for religious reasons”.

Several teachers then demanded he be excluded from the end-of-term ceremony for those who had passed the exams as a punishment.

Andrea Lüdtke, the head teacher, refused. “He is by no means a radical or extremist,” she told Hamburger Morgenpost newspaper.

The school had held discussions with the pupil and did not condone his stance, she said.

“We are considering how we can send a signal that we do not tolerate such behaviour.”

Seven teachers boycotted the ceremony in protest — more than half of the 13 who taught the Abitur class.

“Several colleagues will not participate in this event and allow an extremist to use it for misogynist religious propaganda with the approval of the school management,” an anonymous email sent to Hamburger Abendbladett newspaper read.

The ceremony went ahead, and in what was seen as a vindication of the head teacher’s stance, the pupil at the centre of the row shook hands with her in front of his fellow students.

So he finally shock horror shook hands with a woman.

Good on the teachers for not accepting the situation. Quite simply if he wants to live in a country where you refuse to shake hands with a woman, there are dozens he can choose from. Germany is not one of them.