Archive for the ‘International Politics’ Category

Why Brexit won

June 25th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

It was amazing watching the results come in and as the small lead for Brexit remained and then started to grow, to realise that the peoples of the United Kingdom had voted to leave the European Union. Until the votes were counted no one from the Prime Minister down knew what the outcome would be. The polls, the pundits, the experts, the media – none of them counted – just the votes of 33.5 million people – where each vote was worth no more or no less than any other.

It is rare the people get to make such momentous decisions. Normally they get to decide things indirectly through proxies such as MPs. But on such a fundamental decision, this was their decision.

Matthew d-Ancona wrote in the Guardian:

Before analysis, let us admit to awe: the sheer scale of the moment requires it. The word “historic” is deployed too lazily in political discourse. But it is entirely appropriate this morning. This is a hugely significant day in British (and European) history.

When a party loses an election, its soon-to-be-ex-leader rallies the troops and promises a different result next time. But no such option is open to the crushed chieftains of remain today. There is no “next time”.

This was a unique opportunity to seal Britain’s relationship with the European Union, or to end it. And the voters – at a high level of turnout – decided that it was time to go. They heard the warnings, listened to experts of every kind tell them that Brexit meant disaster, watched the prime minister as he urged them not to take a terrible risk. And their answer was: get stuffed.

So why did they vote for Brexit, despite all the warnings? I think there were three reasons – two major and one minor.

1. Democracy

The EU overall has been a force for good with many benefits for many people. However it is not what most would regard as a democratic government. The heart of democracy is that the people can sack a Government they have got weary of.  There was no real way for the people of Europe or the UK to sack the EU Government when they think it has got it wrong and needs to go. Without such a pressure release valve, discontent grows and grows.

The concept of an EU is good. The structure of the EU is bad. It may have worked when they had nine members, but not for 28.

Consider how unhappy we would be in NZ if our Government was not elected at the polls directly. Instead we each elected a local Mayor and Council (and all at different times) and all the Mayors got together and they decided who would make up the national Cabinet and Government to decide on our laws.  We would not stand for it.

You need to have the ability for the people to directly sack a Government, and effectively choose its replacement. It is that ability and need to be responsive to the public that makes a Government accountable.

2. Borders

The whole point of nation states is to have control of your borders and your population.  This is not racist or xenophobic. The elites who think it is, are out of step. You can be pro-immigration, but against uncontrolled immigration.

NZ has a good pro-immigration system. We set criteria for immigrants and if you have enough skills, education, wealth, prospects etc you can qualify to live here.

The UK as part of the EU has almost no control over who can live and work in the UK. 500 million people in the EU all have the right to move to the UK and work there if they wish to. Of course it also gives UK people the right to work and live in the EU – and that was a great right for many UK citizens.

Now again when the EU was nine countries, this might have been seen as a good trade off. But in an EU of 28 countries, with such a disparity in living standards, it was not.

Think of NZ again. We basically have an EU type agreement with Australia. Citizens of each country can live and work in the other. Not quite as good as the EU, because no guarantee of welfare eligibility.

But think if this arrangement was expanded beyond NZ and Australia. And it included all the Pacific countries who have much less developed economies (and hence many more people would want to live here). Think if it included all of Asia – that we have to take anyone from 27 other countries who choose to live here, regardless of their skills, education, experience, wealth or ability to support themselves. Do we think we would sign up for that?

Again you can be very pro-immigration but anti uncontrolled immigration.

3. EU regulations

A decade ago most of the angst against the EU was the endless regulations coming from Brussels that were ridiculed and resented. However I think this was a minor factor when it came to the vote. The Tories in 2005 campaigned on these, and lost. While people agreed with them, they didn’t think it was as important as issue as the economy, the NHS, schools etc. For the hard core activists, this was red meat, but less important to the majority of the public.

For the majority it was about being independent, being able to sack your Government and being able to control your borders.

Cameron resigns as UK PM

June 24th, 2016 at 9:34 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

David Cameron has resigned as Prime Minister after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

It followed a turbulent night with Remain campaigners quietly confident until the early hours when results from Newcastle and Sunderland showed better than expected returns for the Brexit camp. …

With the Leave campaign securing 52 per cent of the vote, Mr Cameron addressed the nation in an emotional speech outside 10 Downing Street to announce that he would be stepping down.

Statements are expected to be made by Sinn Fein and the SNP later today calling for a breakaway from the Union.

The end of David Cameron’s political career barely a year after he had the huge triumph of winning a majority between all expectations.

It may also be the end of the United Kingdom as Scotland is quite likely to secede and Northern Ireland less likely.

And possibly the beginning of the end of the European Union in its current form.

Less significantly Jeremy Corbyn may be toast also.

Brexit results thread

June 24th, 2016 at 2:38 pm by David Farrar

Well Leave is doing better than expected and is currently leading by around 4%. However many London areas yet to report and they are expected to vote remain.

Only prediction from me at this stage is it will be very close.

UPDATE: I think Leave may have done it. Their lead is now over 700,000 and growing. Not certain but would need some large margins for Remain in remaining areas to pull that back.

UPDATE2: BBC and ITV have called it for Brexit. Today is UK Independence Day.

Doubt Cameron will survive even a year.

English doctors want opt out for organ donations

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

The Guardian reports:

Doctors will try to persuade ministers at Westminster, Holyrood and Stormont to introduce an opt-out system for organ donation to prevent 1,000 deaths a year because of organ shortages.

The British Medical Association will lobby the three parliaments to follow the lead set by Wales, which in December introduced presumed consent for organ retrieval. Under this system people who die in hospital are presumed to have consented to their organs being used for transplantation unless they have expressly indicated otherwise.

Great to see UK doctors voting for an organ donation system that will save more lives.

In NZ sadly some doctors seem to be against even an opt in system. You may have opted in by ticking your wish to donate on your drivers licence, but NZ doctors say they will refuse to even look at what your wishes are unless a family member ask them to.

I am mystified at how NZ doctors have ended up in such a different place to their UK counterparts.

Brexit polls

June 24th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

There have been nine polls since the shooting of Jo Cox. Six show remain ahead and three show Brexit ahead.

A simple average of them has Remain ahead by 46% to 44%.

If you break them into phone polls and online polls then:

  • Phone polls Remain 48% Brexit 44%
  • Online polls Remain 44% Brexit 45%

So I’d say the odds are in favour of remain but as always turnout will be key.

Very exciting to see an entire country voting on such a critical issue. The world awaits the result!

BNZ worried about Brexit

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


A reader sent this in. It shows how nervous global financial markets are if banks are warning they may have to suspend FX trading.

Reasons for a vote to leave

June 21st, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Plummer writes on why he is voting for the UK to leave the EU:

  1. Accountability – the EU is basically an appointed Government, not an elected one
  2. Eurozone integration – will be the main focus of EU going forward
  3. Trade – too many vested interests to do good trade deails
  4. Less Government – 10,000 EU employees in Brussels earn more than David Cameron
  5. Immigration – UK outside EU could do free movement agreements with countries such as NZ
  6. Progressive values – don’t come from the EU but Magna Carta etc
  7. Security – comes from Five Eyes, not EU. An EU Army undermines NATO
  8. Reform – meaningful EU reform can’t be achieved

The referendum appears to be neck and neck. Brexit was leading in the polls, but since the murder of Jo Cox, most polls have shown Brexit now slightly behind.

UK Field Marshal says NZ Army preferable to a EU Army

June 20th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

In February, this newspaper ran a letter from several of Britain’s most senior retired military leaders, in favour of a Remain vote in the coming referendum. ‘Will Britain be safer inside the EU or outside it?’ the letter asked, ‘When we look at the world today, there seems to us only one answer.’

The second most senior signature on that letter was that of Lord Guthrie, the last Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) to have run our armed forces in a  period of military success (the Balkan conflicts at the end of the last century and the rescue of Sierra Leone), and the last general to have been made a Field Marshal. But now, nearly four months later, I have been invited to talk to Lord Guthrie in his central London flat, because he has changed his mind.

 Why has he?
What has changed his mind? It is his anxiety about a growing EU role in defence, leading to a European Army. ‘I think a European Army could damage NATO. It is expensive. It’s unnecessary duplication to have it. It would appeal to some euro vanity thing.’
He says needing all countries to agree to act would be damaging:
Besides, there are serious differences between EU member states. In the Balkans in the 1990s, for example, German attitudes to Croatia created a sort of paralysis which, Lord Guthrie believes, led to the unnecessary loss of thousands of lives. ‘To get 28 people sitting round a table being decisive is very, very difficult. If you have a European Army, you will find that lots of those taking part will see it as a way of getting a seat at the top table as cheaply as they possibly can.  Then they can actually do less, and the equipment programmes and the size of the forces suffer. When it comes to leading, you want a very clear chain of command, capable of making quick decisions.’
It is so much better to make defence arrangements with countries, whether European or not, which are ready to act. Nations like Australia ‘which has a jolly good army and one which is prepared to do things’ and New Zealand, are much more useful to deal with than a European army.
Good praise from such a senior officer.

Will Mair stop Brexit?

June 20th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A man charged with murdering British politician Jo Cox gave his name as “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain” in court.

Thomas Mair, 52, made the statement when he was asked to identify himself at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London on Saturday (local time).

Mair has suspected ties to far-right groups and has been described as a loner by neighbours who said he liked gardening and showed no signs of being radicalised.

It seems pretty clear that while had had serious mental illnesses, his motivation was political – making this an act of terrorism.

While his comments in court may not explicitly be about the EU referendum, most would interpret them as wanting Britain to leave. Brexit has been leading in the polls, and had momentum. It is possible that his actions may trigger a backlash against Brexit and make it more likely the British vote to remain in the EU – achieving the exact opposite to what he wanted.

Records have surfaced showing Mair subscribed to a far-right publication and sought information from white supremacist groups. His younger brother also revealed Mair had a history of mental illness for which he received treatment.

Whether or not he is found insane, he should never be back in the community.

A great response

June 19th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

When Islamic State took credit for the Orlando shooting tragedy, a hactivist from Anonymous felt he had to do something.

The hacker, @WauchulaGhost, broke into hundreds of IS supporters’ Twitter accounts and posted rainbow flags and pro-gay content from them.

He posted tweets from their accounts like “I’m gay and proud!!”, “Out and Proud!” and “#OrlandoWillNotBeForgotten”, including links to gay porn sites.

There was even a touch of softcore gay porn thrown in for good measure. Just a bit of shirtless kissing, smiling and rollin’ ’round the bedroom.

Y’know, the sort of thing that makes the terror group’s blood boil. …

The accounts have experienced a total revamp. One avatar reads ‘I’M GAY AND I’M PROUD’. Another says ‘I HEART PORN’. Another simply reads ‘LOVE NOT WAR’.

Speaking to Newsweek, the hacker, choosing to remain anonymous, said: “I did it for the lives lost in Orlando.

“Daesh (IS) have been spreading and praising the attack, so I thought I would defend those that were lost. The taking of innocent lives will not be tolerated.”

That’s a great response. Normally I’m against hacking, but I think most will agree it was well done in this case.

UK MP murdered

June 17th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

British Labour MP Jo Cox has died after being shot and stabbed in her constituency in northern England on Thursday afternoon (Friday morning, NZ Time).

Cox was attacked on Market Street in Birstall, near Leeds, about 12.50pm as she prepared to hold a meeting with constituents.

A 77-year-old man was also attacked, but his injuries were not life-threatening.

Cox, a 41-year-old mother of two, was rushed to hospital in a critical condition, but was pronounced dead at 1.48pm, police said.

Police arrested a 52-year-old man nearby, and recovered weapons, including a firearm.

British media have named the man arrested in connection with the attack as Thomas Mair.

The Telegraph reported Mair lived on a council estate in Bridsall.

A neighbour told the UK paper Mair was a “quiet bloke who keeps to himself”.

Her family, friends and colleagues will be devastated.

The motive for the attack was not yet known.

A large number of police remained near the scene of the attack, and were speaking to many witnesses, Temporary Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police Dee Collins said.

At least one witness heard the suspect shout “Britain First” – the name of a right-wing, anti-immigrant group – before the shooting and during the arrest, Sky News and the Guardian reported.

Cox had been campaigning for Britain to remain in the European Union, but it was not immediately clear whether the attack was related.

Britain First denied any link to the shooting on their website, saying “Britain First obviously is NOT involved and would never encourage behaviour of this sort”.

Too early to know whether the attack was politically motivated, or the assailant was just mad – or both.  But for now, a husband has lost his wife, and two children their mother.

Brexit now leading

June 15th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

David Cameron has stood aside from active campaigning in order to make way for a push by Labour , as the party’s MPs admit that the response on the doorstep in its heartlands suggests leave campaigners’ warnings about immigration are making significant inroads.

Speaking at an event in central London, Corbyn will issue “an appeal to the whole labour movement and Labour supporters across Britain to support a remain vote in next week’s referendum”. The leaders of 11 trade unions are expected to join Corbyn, including Len McCluskey from Unite, Tim Roache from GMB, and Dave Prentis from Unison. There are fears that voters do not realise that the vast majority of Labour MPs support staying in the EU.

The planned intervention comes after a pair of Guardian/ICM polls suggested that support for leaving the EU is strengthening, with phone and online surveysshowing a six-point lead for Brexit. Leave now enjoys a 53%-47% advantage once “don’t knows” are excluded, according to research conducted over the weekend, compared with a 52%-48% split reported by ICM a fortnight ago.

In other polling today, a YouGov poll for the Times puts leave on 49% and remain on 39%, while an ORB poll for the Telegraph found that among those certain to vote, support for the Brexit campaign is on 49%, compared with 48% for remain.

Of the six polls since the ITV debate, the results are:

  • Brexit +10%
  • Brexit – 2%
  • Brexit +1%
  • Brexit +5%
  • Brexit +5%
  • Brexit +7%

A source within the remain camp said Downing Street had shifted from being “utterly convinced” of victory in the referendum battle, to a “blind panic”.

Just nine days to go!

Shi’a Muslim scholar who urged death for homosexuals spoke in Orlando in March

June 14th, 2016 at 12:12 pm by David Farrar

Fusion reports:

On March 29, 2016, Farrokh Sekaleshfar — a British-born medical doctor and Shi’a Muslim scholar — was invited to speak at the Husseini Islamic Center just outside Orlando, Florida.

His sermon, “How to deal with the phenomenon of homosexuality,” at the Sanford-based center, happened behind closed doors, but it alarmed local gay and lesbian leaders. Only three years before, in another U.S. speaking engagement, the scholar and sheikh had described in characteristically sotto voce what it meant to do the compassionate thing for gay people:

“Death is the sentence. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about this. Death is the sentence.”

He continued: “We have to have that compassion for people. With homosexuals, it’s the same. Out of compassion, let’s get rid of them now.”

This is the different between Islam and almost all other religions. While the views of Dr Sekaleshfar are of course a minority view, you have a number of religious leaders in Islam who go around promoting these views. In other religions such as Christianity, people holding these views are deeply marginalised – the Westboro Baptist Church for example. They are shunned by pretty much everyone else (and are not so much a church as one extended family).

But here you have religious leaders invited to speak, and saying such things. It creates the climate for extremism.

Fusion got in touch with Dr. Sekaleshfar, who lives in the holy city of Qum in Iran and is currently traveling in Sydney, Australia.

Asked what his reactions are to today’s attacks, he told Fusion through Facebook, “I am totally against the barbaric act of violence that has happened. In no way at all can such a killing be justified Islamically.”

He called Orlando shooter Omar Mateen Siddiqui “an ill and perverted, animalistic entity who has abused an ideology to satiate his sad, twisted desires.”

Asked specifically about his March comments about gays in Orlando, as well as his better-known 2013 speech, Sekaleshfar called his approach an “academic discussion” in which he was describing the “theoretical angle as to what Islam says.”

“I never gave the call to a death sentence,” he said, adding that lines of his 2013 speech had been taken out of context. “I was explaining what Islamic law – in a country whose people democratically desired Islamic law to be exercised – states in relation to NOT homosexuals, but rather in relation to when the act of anal copulation is executed in such an aforementioned public,” he said.

Now there is a difference between saying the state should executive homosexuals and that individuals should do so. But it is about the climate. When a dozen or so Muslim countries do have the death penalty for homosexuality, when some Muslim scholars do say we should get rid of homosexuals, then it is perhaps no surprise that an individual may take that to mean that God wants him to kill homosexuals.

Again there is a difference between moderate Muslims, extremist Muslims and jihadist Muslims. But we delude ourselves if we think the problem is only the jihadists who actually pick up a gun. The extremist views of Dr Sekaleshfar provide a climate which fosters jihadism. Of course in this particular case, we don’t know if there was a link, but the point is no religious group should invite any religious leader to spread a message that homosexual acts should result in death.

Papers which said conservatism linked to psychoticism reverses findings

June 14th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The NY Post reports:

Turns out liberals are the real authoritarians.

A political-science journal that published an oft-cited study claiming conservatives were more likely to show traits associated with “psychoticism” now says it got it wrong. Very wrong.

The American Journal of Political Science published a correction this year saying that the 2012 paper has “an error” — and that liberal political beliefs, not conservative ones, are actually linked to psychoticism.

“The interpretation of the coding of the political attitude items in the descriptive and preliminary analyses portion of the manuscript was exactly reversed,” the journal said in the startling correction.

So how did such a massive error make it through a peer reviewed journal?

The journal said the error doesn’t change the main conclusions of the paper, which found that “personality traits do not cause people to develop political attitudes.”

But professor Steven Ludeke of the University of Southern Denmark, who pointed out the errors, told Retraction Watch that they “matter quite a lot.”

“The erroneous results represented some of the larger correlations between personality and politics ever reported; they were reported and interpreted, repeatedly, in the wrong direction,” he said.

It’s one thing for a paper to say something was significant when it wasn’t. It is another to reverse the findings entirely.

No tag for this post.

New York boycotting the boycotters

June 13th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Democratic Governor of NY, Andrew Cuomo writes:

The coldblooded terrorist attacks in Tel Aviv this week served as a chilling reminder of the summer of 2014, when a steady rain of terrorist rockets from Gaza confined the vast majority of the Israeli population to bomb shelters and protected rooms. During a visit with a bipartisan delegation that August, I was shown a miles-long Hamas tunnel built to infiltrate Israel’s southern communities and murder their residents. The tunnel was frightening because it was the manifestation of the single-minded obsession by Israel’s enemies to destroy the Jewish state. And yet, in many ways it was not nearly as frightening as continued efforts to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel.

That is why I recently signed the first executive order by a U.S. governor to help protect Israel from these pernicious efforts to punish it economically. My order ensures that no state agency or authority will engage in or promote any investment activity that would further the harmful and discriminatory BDS campaign. New York will identify institutions and companies, with the list made available to the public and updated regularly, that engage in boycotts, divestment or sanctions activity targeting Israel, either directly or through a parent or subsidiary. All state funds will then be divested from such entities.

If you boycott Israel, New York will boycott you.

Fighting fire with fire.

The NY State Budget is around US$160 billion

The winds of change in Latin America

June 13th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Politico report:

If the first state visit by a sitting president in 90 years struck Fidel as an unseemly and undeserved victory lap, there was troubling news as well from the Southern Hemisphere. Two of the island’s staunchest allies were fighting for their political lives. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was nearing impeachment; Argentina’s former president, Cristina Kirchner, was about to be indicted. Indeed, the entire left-wing coalition of Latin America, methodically cultivated by Fidel for decades, was unraveling. The death of Cuba’s Midas-like patron, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, had birthed a feeble successor who is unlikely to survive the next year; Ecuador’s leftist president was bowing out, while Castro champion Evo Morales of Bolivia had lost a referendum for another presidential term. Peru and Uruguay had lost their center-left leaders. If not a political tidal wave, a domino effect of sorts was shifting the Southern Hemisphere from left to right.

The lesson here is socialism is popular until the money runs out.


Is Brexit winning?

June 12th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Downing Street is “panicked” over the EU referendum amid growing internal signs that support for the Leave campaign is surging. 

Private data and internal polling which shows that after two weeks of building momentum there have been huge swings to the Brexit campaign has prompted growing alarm in the Remain camp, sources have said.

It has led to a marked change in strategy, with the campaign to keep Britain in the EU now orchestrating a series of highly personal attacks on Boris Johnson, one of the leaders of the Leave campaign.

If Brexit wins, Boris might be PM by the end of the year.

So what do the polls say? Here’s teh five polls so far in June:

  • Brexit +4%
  • Brexit -12%
  • Brexit +5%
  • Brexit -1%
  • Brexit +10%

The average is Brexit +1%. But four of them were online and the phone poll is the one showing Brexit well behind.

More countries turning against the EU

June 11th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar


This table from the Telegraph shows France even more anti EU than the UK, and Spain and Germany finely balanced also.


The above shows a big reason why the EU is falling out of favour. People want control of their own borders.

Public Polls May 2016

June 8th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar


Curia’s monthly newsletter is out. The summary is below:

Curia’s Polling Newsletter – Issue 97, May 2016

There were two political voting polls in May 2016 – a Roy Morgan and a Newshub Reid Research.

The average of the public polls has National 16% ahead of Labour in May, down 3% from April. The current seat projection is centre-right 58 seats, centre-left 51 which would see NZ First hold the balance of power.

We show the current New Zealand poll averages for party vote, country direction and preferred PM compared to three months ago, a year ago, three years ago and nine years ago. This allows easy comparisons between terms and Governments.

In the United States Clinton’s chances improved in May with a projected 126 elector lead in the Electoral College. Overall satisfaction with the direction of the US remains extremely low at a net -40%.

In the UK Remain is at 65% and Leave at 35% in the prediction markets. Brexit trails by 3% in the average of the polls.

In Australia The election is on a knife edge with the current seat projection being the Coalition having a one seat majority only.

In Canada Liberals remain sky high in the polls and confidence of the country direction has reached a new high of +27%.

We also carry details of polls on the Kermadecs, housing and US ship visits plus the normal business and consumer confidence polls.

This newsletter is normally only available by e-mail.  If you would like to receive future issues, please go to to subscribe yourself.

Blame Israel

June 8th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

Bangladesh has been in the grips of a hideous spate of assassinations and attacks on secularist intellectuals, academics and non-Muslims and others in the crosshairs of Islamist militants. The latest killing took place on Sunday, when the wife of an anti-terrorism police officer was brutally stabbed to death and shot by unidentified assailants in the port city of Chittagong.

On the same day, a Christian grocer was butchered in a village in the north of the country–a media wing linked to the Islamic State took credit, though it’s still unclear what actual tactical abilities the extremist organization based in Syria and Iraq has in South Asia.

Yes Islamic militants are killing people just because they don’t believe in Islam and write of the values of secularism.

But they are of course not to blame. Who is?

One senior official, though, suggested the root of the problem lay far away.

“Bangladesh has become the target of an international conspiracy. And a foreign intelligence agency has joined the conspiracy,” Asaduzzaman Khan, the country’s home minister, said on Monday.

He went on and referenced an earlier meeting between an opposition parliamentarian and an Israeli government adviser in neighboring India.

The gesture to link any domestic woe to a foreign plot, especially one with the imprint of American or Israeli meddling, is a common trope in South Asian politics. An Israeli government spokesman deemed Khan’s remarks “utter drivel” when they were put to him by the BBC.

Blame Israel!

US backing Argentine candidate may help Clark

June 8th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Britain is set for a showdown with the UN over its next secretary-general, after sources in Washington indicated the US was preparing to back the candidate from Argentina.

Susana Malcorra, its foreign minister, is said to be supported by both the White House and Susan Rice, national security adviser to Barack Obama.

The prospect of an Argentine head of the UN puts Britain in a diplomatic dilemma, given the lengthy dispute over the Falklands which Argentina and the UN say must be “decolonised” and returned to Argentina.

President Obama is said to have been won over by arguments for Malcorra from Mauricio Macri, his Argentine counterpart, on a visit to Buenos Aires in March – widely seen as an attempt to re-set US-Argentine relations.

This may actually help Clark. If the US refuses to back a Russian backed Eastern European such as Irina Bokova, then Russia will probably not support the US’s first preference.

In this game it is not being the first preference of P5 members that counts, but being an acceptable second preference.

There is no doubt Clark is acceptable to China, France and the UK. She may even be the preferred candidate for the UK and China (but they would never say).

The big unknown is Russia. They have no reason to back her, but no particular reason to support her. But if the other candidates all face vetoes, she may get through.

Still well under a 50/50 chance but not insignificant.

Shoot the drug dealers!

June 7th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

AP reports:

The Philippine president-elect has encouraged the public to help him in his war against crime, urging citizens with guns to shoot and kill drug dealers who resist arrest and fight back in their neighborhoods.

In a nationally televised speech late Saturday, Rodrigo Duterte told a huge crowd in the southern city of Davao that Filipinos who help him battle crime will be rewarded.

“Please feel free to call us, the police, or do it yourself if you have the gun — you have my support,” Duterte said, warning of an extensive illegal drug trade that involves even the country’s police.

 If a drug dealer resists arrest or refuses to be brought to a police station and threatens a citizen with a gun or a knife, “you can kill him,” Duterte said. “Shoot him and I’ll give you a medal.”
It will be interesting if someone does kill drug dealers, what would happen. I’m not sure the encouragement of the President-Elect over-rides the criminal law. What happens if that person is then charged?

A good summary of Corbyn

June 7th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

George Will looks at Jeremy Corbyn in the Washington Post:

That year, Corbyn was elected to the House of Commons. He spent his next 32 years opposing the monarchy; writing columns for a communist newspaper; expressing admiration for Hugo Chávez, whose socialism propelled Venezuela toward today’s chaos; proposing that taxpayers should be permitted to opt out of paying for Britain’s army; advocating that Britain leave NATO and unilaterally scrap its nuclear deterrent; blaming NATO, meaning the United States, for Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine; calling the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah “friends”; appearing with and funding Holocaust deniers and other anti-Semites; criticizing China’s Communist regime for deviationism in accepting some free markets; demanding that Tony Blair, the only Labour leader since 1976 to win a general election (three of them), be tried as a war criminal (for supporting the Iraq War); praising Iraqi insurgents killing Americans; and calling the killing of Osama bin Laden a “tragedy.” Along the way, Corbyn got divorced because his wife insisted on sending their eldest son to a selective school whose admissions policy recognized merit.

If UK Labour had a different leader, they could be capitalising on the in-fighting within the Conservatives on the EU. But they remain unelectable.

Swiss vote 78% against a UBI

June 6th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Swiss voters have overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to give the entire population of the country enough money to live on, according to exit polls.

A projection provided to the public broadcaster RTS said 78% had voted against all Swiss citizens, along with foreigners who have been residents in Switzerlandfor at least five years, being given a universal basic income, or UBI.

Supporters said providing such an income would help fight poverty and inequality in a world where good jobs with steady salaries are becoming harder to find.

Critics have called the initiative “a Marxist dream”, warning of sky-high costs and people quitting their jobs in droves, to the detriment of the economy. “If you pay people to do nothing, they will do nothing,” said Charles Wyplosz, economics professor at the Geneva Graduate Institute.

It is a Marxist dream, and one NZ Labour is looking at. It would result in huge huge tax increases.

Good to see the Swiss so sensible.

Three threats to free speech

June 6th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Economist says we need to fight back against three threats to free speech. They are:

Free speech is under attack in three ways. First, repression by governments has increased. Several countries have reimposed cold-war controls or introduced new ones. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia enjoyed a free-for-all of vigorous debate. Under Vladimir Putin, the muzzle has tightened again. All the main television-news outlets are now controlled by the state or by Mr Putin’s cronies. Journalists who ask awkward questions are no longer likely to be sent to labour camps, but several have been murdered.

Sadly many countries do not have free speech or free media.

Second, a worrying number of non-state actors are enforcing censorship by assassination. Reporters in Mexico who investigate crime or corruption are often murdered, and sometimes tortured first. Jihadists slaughter those they think have insulted their faith. When authors and artists say anything that might be deemed disrespectful of Islam, they take risks. Secular bloggers in Bangladesh are hacked to death in the street (see article); French cartoonists are gunned down in their offices. The jihadists hurt Muslims more than any others, not least by making it harder for them to have an honest discussion about how to organise their societies.

This is a growing threat and leads to a lot of self-censorship.  A newspaper should treat a cartoon of Mohammed in the same way as a cartoon of Jesus. But we know that only one of these would result in death threats, so newspapers self-censor.

Third, the idea has spread that people and groups have a right not to be offended. This may sound innocuous. Politeness is a virtue, after all. But if I have a right not to be offended, that means someone must police what you say about me, or about the things I hold dear, such as my ethnic group, religion, or even political beliefs. Since offence is subjective, the power to police it is both vast and arbitrary.

Nevertheless, many students in America and Europe believe that someone should exercise it. Some retreat into the absolutism of identity politics, arguing that men have no right to speak about feminism nor whites to speak about slavery. Others have blocked thoughtful, well-known speakers, such as Condoleezza Rice and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, from being heard on campus (see article).

I’m glad they included this, as it is a huge and growing issue, especially on campuses.

The threat to free speech on Western campuses is very different from that faced by atheists in Afghanistan or democrats in China. But when progressive thinkers agree that offensive words should be censored, it helps authoritarian regimes to justify their own much harsher restrictions and intolerant religious groups their violence.

And they do.

Blasphemy laws are an anachronism. A religion should be open to debate. Laws against hate speech are unworkably subjective and widely abused. Banning words or arguments which one group finds offensive does not lead to social harmony. On the contrary, it gives everyone an incentive to take offence—a fact that opportunistic politicians with ethnic-based support are quick to exploit.

Incitement to violence should be banned. However, it should be narrowly defined as instances when the speaker intends to goad those who agree with him to commit violence, and when his words are likely to have an immediate effect. Shouting “Let’s kill the Jews” to an angry mob outside a synagogue qualifies. Drunkenly posting “I wish all the Jews were dead” on an obscure Facebook page probably does not.

Very good examples. The response to the latter should be exposure and criticism, not criminal prosecution.

However, any public college, and any college that aspires to help students grow intellectually, should aim to expose them to challenging ideas. The world outside campus will often offend them; they must learn to fight back using peaceful protests, rhetoric and reason.

These are good rules for everyone. Never try to silence views with which you disagree. Answer objectionable speech with more speech. Win the argument without resorting to force. And grow a tougher hide.

Hear hear.