Archive for the ‘International Politics’ Category

Is the temperature rising?

December 1st, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Some people say there is no global warming, because 1998 was a very hot year and the rate of increase since then has been smaller than projected (note not zero).

Just as the temperature varies greatly from day to day, even an average over a year isn’t that robust, as you have factors such as El Nino.

What I find more useful is looking at the average over a decade. That is long enough that the average (of 3,653 days) is pretty robust.


The data is from NASA. The average global temperature is around one degree higher than 100 years ago, and since the 1970s has risen around 0.7 of a degree.

I’ll deal in a later post with issues over cause and impact, but for now want to highlight that denying we have had global warming is simply not true.


As you can see 1998 was a very hot year. But not the hottest year in the last century. That was 2014 and 2015 after 10 months of data is looking to break 2014’s record.

Different methods of temperature recording and different outlets all produce slightly different results (as you would expect), but the difference between them is minor compared to the very clear trend – both by decade, and annually.

Again you can have your opinions on the cause of the warming, and on how much warming there will be in the future. But the fact the world is warming is a fact, not an opinion.


UK Labour goes for free vote on Syria

December 1st, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Labour MPs are to get a free vote on whether airstrikes should be extended to Syria, with Jeremy Corbyn and Hilary Benn expected to adopt opposing positions in any Commons debate on the issue.

At a heated meeting of the shadow cabinet on Monday afternoon Corbyn agreed to a free vote – a decision that emerged just before the meeting started. It followed a weekend of discussion with Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson.

However, a proposal that the shadow cabinet should agree that it was party policy to oppose airstrikes, and to assert this was in line with a conference motion passed in September, was thrown out.

Shadow cabinet members said the offer of a free vote for Labour MPs would be severely diluted if there was also a statement saying party policy opposed airstrikes.

This shows how bad things are in UK Labour.

There are some things you don’t expect a party to have a view on – minor stuff such as the Standards and Measures Harmonisation Act.

But whether or not to go to war, and to approve the use of force is as important as it gets. And UK Labour are saying we have no policy at all on this, because our leader is against all use of force by western countries.

This is probably the lesser evil for UK Labour. If they had tried to force Labour MPs to vote in line with Corbyn, he may have had half his front bench resign.

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Japan resumes whaling

November 30th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Japan has been criticised for resuming whaling in Antarctic waters, but the “scientific” ships could face few hurdles to continue their Southern slaughter.

On Friday, the Japanese Fisheries Agency notified the International Whaling Commission that Japan will resume whaling in the 2015/2016 season, despite an International Court of Justice recommendation last year that they cease whaling activity. …

Acting Foreign Minister Todd McClay has expressed “New Zealand’s deep disappointment at the Japanese Government’s decision.

“New Zealand is strongly opposed to whaling in the Southern Ocean. We call on Japan to take heed of the 2014 International Court of Justice decision and international scientific advice concerning their whaling activities.

“In early 2015, the International Whaling Commission’s Expert Panel issued very clear and unambiguous recommendations that Japan postpone the lethal components of its research proposal,” McClay said. 

The International Court of Justice ruled in March last year that Japan’s decades-old whale hunt in the Antarctic should stop, prompting Tokyo to cancel the bulk of its whaling for the 2014/2015 season.

But Japan has ignored that ruling and will push ahead in the 2015/2016 season.

The new Japanese hunting plan, which calls for cutting annual minke whale catches by two-thirds to 333, is scientifically reasonable, the Japanese Fisheries Agency said in a document filed with the IWC.

333 is better than 1,000.

I don’t have a problem with whaling per se, so long as it is sustainable. However the IWC has banned whaling in the Southern Ocean on the grounds it is not sustainable there, and using scientific research as a pretext for commercial whaling is offensive. There is absolutely no research involved.

Japan should not ignore the ICJ ruling, and hopefully will reconsider under pressure. The problem is that the pressure can be counter-productive – in that they do it just to show they won’t be pressured not to. The actual commercial benefits from doing so are almost nil, so it is about cultural rights (from their view).

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If NZ did join Australia

November 30th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Heather du Plessis-Allan writes:

Sure, it’s not an immediately popular idea, but hear me out. Taking up the offer to become part of Australia could be a good thing.

If New Zealand did join Australia as two states (NI and SI) then John Key would no doubt become Prime Minister of Australia, with Malcolm Turnbull as his Deputy.

The North Island would have 22 MPs and the South Island seven MPs, out of 178 total.

In terms of Senators they would have 12 each out of 100 total.

Andrew Little would roll Bill Shorten as Federal Opposition Leader.

But who would become the Premiers of the NI State and SI State?

My pick would be Jacinda Ardern as the Premier of the North Island, as all NI Premiers would come from Auckland.

And down south, Amy Adams as the Premier of the South Island!

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UK spending cut predictions did not come true

November 28th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Fraser Nelson writes in The Telegraph:

George Osborne could disband the Army, fire every diplomat, release every prisoner, discharge every policeman, axe the entire foreign aid budget – and still not be able to balance the books.

In NZ that would save $7.1 billion a year. We now have balanced books but at the height of the GFC and subsequent deficits the deficit hit $20 billion!

Councils certainly weren’t protected: their funding fell by 40 per cent. Many of their leaders predicted one long winter of discontent; the Mayor of Liverpool went so far as to predict riots in the streets. The leader of Birmingham City Council warned of “the end of local government as we know it”. They should have had more faith in their own staff. One of the greatest untold stories of the last few years is how councils have found new ways of delivering better services for far less money. The Local Government Association’s own polling has found that council taxpayers are just as satisfied as they were before the cuts.

Maybe NZ Local Government could learn from the UK.

The arts budget is down by a third, yet the calibre of theatre, galleries and musical performance in Britain has never been stronger – as the arts pages of this newspaper regularly attest. Government belt-tightening has not damaged British cultural life because so little of our culture depends on the government. The most important factor is the genius and creativity of playwrights, composers, musicians and poets — of which there is, happily, no shortage.

Yet Labour here complain that Radio NZ has not had any funding increase, and that this is crippling the country. They’re damn fortunate compared to their commercial counterparts who have had huge revenue drops.

Perhaps the greatest single surprise has been law and order. The Police Federation warned that the government would “destroy policing in this country for ever”. That was 10 years ago, when the spending boom was in full flow. Under Theresa May, the policing grant has fallen 20 per cent – yet surveyed crime is down by 30 per cent. As it turns out, the size of the police budget does not dictate criminality levels.

Spending and outcomes are not the same thing.


Quoting Mao

November 28th, 2015 at 8:59 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

George Osborne’s Autumn Statement took a bizarre twist when John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, threw a copy of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book at him across the Despatch Box.

The Labour shadow chancellor mocked the Chancellor – who he dubbed “Comrade Osborne” – for encouraging China to invest in British infrastructure projects.

He is thought to be first frontbencher ever to reveal a copy and quote directly from the communist book.

After joking about the sale of public assets to the Chinese government, Mr McDonnell said: “To assist Comrade Osborne about dealing with his new found comrades, I have brought him along Mao’s Little Red Book.”

Mr McDonnell continued: “Let me quote from Mao, rarely done in this chamber, ‘We must learn to do economic work from all who know how. No matter who they are, we must esteem them as teachers, learning from them respectfully and conscientiously. But we must not pretend to know what we do not know’.

“I thought it would come in handy for you in your new relationship.”

Tory MPs roared “more, more, more” at Mr McDonnell.

They really can’t believe their luck.


University bans yoga as culturally insensitive!

November 27th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reported:

A Canadian university has raised international eyebrows by cancelling yoga classes over concerns about “cultural genocide”, colonialism and “Western supremacy”. 

In an email from a student representative at the University of Ottawa Student Federation, yoga instructor Jennifer Scharf was told her seven-year-old program would be discontinued due to “cultural issues of implication” involved in the practice.

“Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced and what practices from what cultures (which are often sacred spiritual practices) they are being taken,” the student wrote in an email exchange that was published by the Washington Post.

“Many of these cultures are cultures that have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy, and we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves and while practicing yoga.”

You have to laugh to stop yourself crying.


Argentina votes right

November 25th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Hours after Argentina’s political landscape underwent a tectonic rightward shift, president-elect Mauricio Macri announced a series of radical changes that will realign his country’s place in the world.

Following Sunday night’s narrow election victory that marked the first change of government in 12 years, Macri said he would tear up Argentina’s memorandum of understanding with Iran, seek Venezuela’s exclusion from the regional free trade association Mercosur and ease away from a fixed exchange rate with the dollar.

This is the “change of an era”, he declared at a press conference that was itself a sign of greater openness compared to the largely one-way media approach of his leftist predecessor Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. “We need to be in the world.”

Another elections in which polls under-stated support for the centre-right candidate.

Fernández focused on social programs to address inequality, conducted a centralised economic policy, sought closer trade ties to China and Iran, and aligned herself regionally with like-minded leftist leaders in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia.

Macri, by contrast, has a more global market-orientated stance and looks likely to strengthen links with the United States.

He said his priority would be economic rejuvenation, tackling inflation – currently at around 30% – and encouraging investment.

30% inflation – pity the poor on fixed incomes.


Turkey vs Russia

November 25th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Turkey has shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border, saying the jet had repeatedly violated its air space, in one of the most serious publicly acknowledged clashes between a Nato member country and Russia for half a century.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the plane had been attacked when it was 1kminside Syria  on Tuesday and warned of “serious consequences” for what he termed a stab in the back administered by “the accomplices of terrorists”.

“We will never tolerate such crimes like the one committed today,” Putin said, as Russian and Turkish shares fell on fears of an escalation between the former Cold War enemies.

I assume the plane was inside Turkish territory.

Turkey had the legal right to shoot the plane down. However that doesn’t mean it should have. Far preferable would be informing Russia of the breaches, and warning them that future breaches will risk being fired on.

The Turkish military said the aircraft had been warned 10 times in the space of five minutes about violating Turkish air space. Officials said a second plane had also approached the border and been warned.

“The data we have is very clear. There were two planes approaching our border, we warned them as they were getting too close,” another senior Turkish official said.

Again Turkey had the legal right, but more prudent would be not just to warn the pilot (who may have orders) but to go up the chain of command.

In Washington, an official said the United States believed the incursion probably lasted only a matter of seconds before the jet was downed.

If correct then it seems regrettable.

I don’t trust what either Russia or Turkey claim. Hopefully an independent country can verify whether it did breach Turkish air space and for how long.

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Key on diplomacy

November 25th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

An interesting Q&A from Audrey Young with the PM on diplomacy. Some extracts:

Q. Which leader have you got to know a bit better on this trip?

A. Justin Trudeau. I’ve ended up talking to him, for some reason, I don’t know we’ve ended being in these break-out groups and talking to each other. He is extremely friendly and really personable and a thoroughly nice guy. In my heart of hearts I sort of almost didn’t want to strike up an immediate friendship because I was very good friends with [Trudeau’s predecessor] Stephen Harper and feel slightly disloyal. But I have a responsibility as Prime Minister to do my job and also anyway he is just a really nice guy.

Key’s developed good relationships with leaders on the left and right.

Q. What did you make of the Filipino people and why do you think the country hasn’t done better?

A. They are really lovely people and they are incredibly polite so they are very, very nice people and I feel quite tall there. I’m the Sam Whitelock of the Philippines.


Q. What do you think of Malaysia?

A. I like it. On the basis I am never going to be an ambassador so I am not pitching for a job but if they were sending me somewhere, I think as High Commissioner to Malaysia, there’d be a lot worse places to go than Malaysia. The food is great; it’s an interesting place; and I like the climate.

I’ve only ever been to Malaysia for conferences. Would be nice to properly look around one day.

Q. Obama and Turnbull both greatly admire you and it is pretty clear Chinese president Xi Jinping is a fan too. Is that just personally flattering or good for NZ in any way?

Hopefully both. In the end there is no point having stores of political capital unless they can be used for the benefit of the country. That’s where the benefit is. Xi Jinping, I think, but I wouldn’t to overstate things, but I reckon he genuinely does like me. In our bilateral, he was really engaging, really smiley, didn’t use his notes. That is highly unusual for a Chinese leader. He just talked about the issues, how he saw things going.

That is probably the key sign – when you are confident enough to just talk, rather than follow the script.

Obama, I think in a lot of ways we are just easy. A) I’ve been around the whole time he has been around. We speak English. In our system he’d probably be almost right of me. The Democrats are, on our basis, very similar politically to where [National] are. He’d be stronger on climate change, for instance, and maybe the odd issue but generally speaking, pretty right wing, relative to our system. It’s just that the Republicans are very far right.

Cue screams from some commenters here!

I always remember after the G20 [in Brisbane where New Zealand was a guest] I had some intervention [verbal contribution to the issue under discussion] and Cameron texted me and said ‘in all the G20s I’ve been to, that has been the best intervention I’ve heard.’ And Obama came up to me with Cameron afterwards and he said: ‘Ah, it’s a shame you’re not bigger. You’re fun to have around.’ Doesn’t mean they are going to invite me back when they host the G20 but it was kind of flattering.

Our small size can work for us though.  We’re not seen as big enough to threaten anyone!

Q. What is the secret to your success at international diplomacy?

A. Have your own style. The one thing that they like is I don’t read out the MFAT notes. I obviously use them to inform the kind of point I’m making and we have a serious point.

I remember one TV series which had two leaders meeting and they agreed to save time, they’d just pass each other their briefing notes :-)

Q. Are you meeting Merkel at COP21?

A. No, we are going to Berlin afterwards. She invited us back. She had such a great time in New Zealand. She loved New Zealand [when she visited before the Brisbane G20]. She came up to me at the G20 and said she had such a great time and she really loved all the nature stuff. She said so much of her time is spent in meetings inside. The Germans love nature anyway, I reckon as a general characterisation. Her staff said to me she got more coverage in Germany from releasing a kiwi [on Motutapu Is] than what she did at the G20.

Heh.John K


Refugees and Borders

November 24th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The growing focus in Europe and the US is now on securing borders and refugees, especially as it appears at least one of the attackers in Paris may have come into Europe as a refugee from Syria.

My view is that you need to have secure borders, but that doesn’t mean not helping refugees.

We should take in refugees fleeing conflict from Syria, and other countries.

But we should only take those who have gone through the UNHCR process, and have had their backgrounds checked.  This process needs to be done quicker, and more need to be approved. That way there is an incentive to go through the UNHCR process, rather than just trek into Europe.

It is worth noting that the right of asylum only applies to the first country a refugee arrives at. Once a refugee has got into Turkey, they have a right of asylum in Turkey. But if they then trek through half a dozen other countries to get to Germany or France, they are no longer an asylum seeker. They are what people call an economic refugee. Now it is understandable that people would rather be in Germany or France than in a refugee camp in Turkey. So the solution is to take more people from the refugee camps, and secure the borders to deter such huge hordes of people, which does make it easy for terrorists to exploit.

A poll has just come out in the US, which sadly shows that there is a backlash against taking in any refugees. The poll is here.

  • 44% support sending US troops to fight Islamic State and 44% disagree
  • 28% says Islam is an inherently violent religion and 64% say inherently peaceful, but some twist its teachings (I would choose neither option – it is inbetween)
  • Only 28% support the plan to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees, 53% say accept no refugees from Syria and 11% Christian refugees only
  • 53% say US should have a military coalition with Russia to fight Islamic terrorism, 35% disagree

UK Labour in open warfare

November 23rd, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Ken Livingstone has backtracked on his apology for suggesting shadow defence minister Kevan Jones “might need psychiatric help”, after he was accused of being forced by the Labour leadership to say sorry.

The former London mayor re-ignited a row just hours after tweeting that he “unreservedly apologised” to Jones for telling the Mirror: “I think he might need some psychiatric help. He’s obviously very depressed and disturbed … He should pop off and see his GP before he makes these offensive comments.”

Livingstone made the remarks after Jones, who experienced depression in 1996, questioned his appointment as co-chair of Labour’s review of Trident.

The veteran Labour politician initially refused to retract his comments, accusing Jones of “wimping around”, telling him to “get over it” and blaming his own south London background for the fact he is rude back when someone is rude to him. But after speaking on the phone to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Livingstone publicly apologised, saying the comments should “not have been made at all, let alone in that context.

“I also make this apology because Jeremy is right to insist on a more civil politics and as a party we should take this seriously,” he added.

Corbyn, a long-time campaigner against stigmatisation of those with mental health problems, is said to be angry and upset about the comments but believed Livingstone’s remorse was “sincere”. But before long, Livingstone was back on the television air waves for a fresh confrontation with Jones on Channel 4 News.

Appearing from his home, he said the apology was made because Corbyn had told him that Jones was “actually quite a decent guy and reminded me that Jeremy’s strategy is that we don’t do all the offensive backstabbing and rows and I just got on board with that”.

He then watered down his apology by saying: “If I’ve upset anyone, I’m really sorry. But this row isn’t something I started. It’s because I was attacked as not fit for this job.”

Livingstone, who got Jones’s name wrong three times by calling him “Jeremy”, added: “You provoked this row. You questioned my ability to do this job. Why didn’t you just pick up the phone and ask me what I knew and understood about it? I’ve been debating military and defence issues for 45 years both in our party and in the media.”

Jones, who was in the Channel 4 studio, responded by accusing Livingstone of having been forced into an apology after causing offence.

“You were somehow excusing it because of your background, when other people had posh educations, which I did not, can I remind you. That does not excuse what you’ve done … You were not going to unless Jeremy told you to,” he said.

The shadow defence minister also revealed that neither he nor shadow defence secretary Maria Eagle had been told that Livingstone, an opponent of Trident, was to co-chair Labour’s defence review.

“Why announce it on Twitter and use grossly offensive language to myself and millions of other sufferers of mental health [problems] to get over your point?”

This would be a rather sad episode if it was between a Conservative and a Labour MP. But what is startling is this is between a Labour MP and former Labour Mayor. And between the shadow defence minister and the person heading up the defence policy review for Labour.

I’m trying to think what could the Conservatives do to make Labour led by Jeremy Corbyn electable. Short of genocide, I can’t think of anything.

Having said that it is highly likely Corbyn will be gone within two years.


ISIL killing women too old to rape

November 23rd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

In the desert dust of Sinjar, in north west Iraq, a walking stick lies on the ground.

Strewn casually alongside it are a couple of pairs of scissors, some household keys and a shoe. Bank notes flutter in the dirt.

But, if you look a little closer, the scene becomes a horror show. Clumps of hair and fragments of bone poke grotesquely out of the ditch. It is estimated that almost 80 women are buried in this mass grave, aged between 40 and 80-years-old. The bodies are of Yazidi women, murdered by Islamic State butchers.

As the world prayed for Paris, more than three thousand miles east another atrocity was being uncovered.

Last week Kurdish forces – backed by British and American air strikes – liberated Sinjar from Islamic State militants, along with 28 other villages.

They discovered two graves. The first – containing the corpses of older women – was found west of the city’s centre, near the Sinjar Technical Institute. The second was ten miles west, and is believed to contain men, women and children. It is rigged with explosives and deliberately difficult to access.

The Kurdish government team will analyse the bodies in an attempt to uncover the grim story of what happened here.

But let’s be frank: it is not difficult to guess.

Over the past year, Islamic State forces have kidnapped thousands of young Yazidi women to use as sex slaves. Now we know what happened to those not deemed ‘attractive enough’ for them.

Just when you think they can’t get more vile.

In the village of Kocho, Isil militants gave the inhabitants a deadline by which to convert to Islam. If they refused, they would die.

Hundreds of men and boys were slaughtered; many killed by point-blank shots to the head or were pushed off cliffs. More than a thousand women and girls were kidnapped. The brutal sexual violence against these women and girls – passed around by Isil fighters – has been well documented.

They really make the Nazis seem civilised by comparison.

Islamic State’s attitude to women has been brutally laid bare in its division of the Yazidis into those who were young and beautiful enough to rape, and those who were not. Mothers and grandmothers who seemingly could not command a price in the sex market (reportedly a ‘packet of cigarettes’) were simply slaughtered.

It’s hard to imagine women being reduced to pieces of meat in a more savage manner.

We need a new version of the Nuremberg Trials for crimes against humanity.


Labour MPs cheer Cameron not Corbyn

November 22nd, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Jeremy Corbyn may have misgivings about shoot to kill, but few of his own MPs seem to share them. Sitting next to the leader of the opposition for the prime minister’s statement on the G20 summit and the Paris attacks was Hilary Benn. The normally mild-mannered shadow foreign secretary gave every impression he was trying to eliminate his boss with mind control and a rictus smile. Disappointed to find Jezza still breathing, he left without saying goodbye after 45 minutes.

Other Labour MPs chose to kill their leader by vocalising their whole-hearted support for the prime minister’s tougher stance on terrorism. One by one they rose. Pat McFadden. Mike Gapes. David Hanson. Chris Leslie. Emma Reynolds.Chuka Umunna. Anne Coffey. Ian Leslie. Even the usually on-message Sarah Champion. Et tu, Sarah? There would have been more, had not the Speaker curtailed the debate. Not even in Iain Duncan Smith’s darkest hours had a leader been turned on so openly by his own party in parliament.

Gravitas isn’t something that comes easily to David Cameron but, just this once, he was allowed the chance to feel what it might be like to be a statesman. A father not just to the Conservatives but also to a Labour party keen to distance itself from a leader whose pacifism has failed to capture the public mood. A father to the nation.

Corbyn has an intellectual problem in that he sees terrorism as the fault of the West, not the terrorists.

After his remarks to the BBC on Monday, Jezza is finding it hard to shake the impression that he is the kind of leader who would politely request a terrorist to sit down for a nice cup of tea and talk through his anger issues, even as he was reloading his AK-47 to gun down some more civilians having a quiet night out.

Worth pointing out this is a column in The Guardian, not the Daily Mail.

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The Muslim victims in Paris

November 20th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Their Muslim faith did not spare them from the terrorists’ bullets.

Houda Saadi, a 35-year-old waitress of Tunisian descent, was celebrating her birthday with her sister Halima and 10 other friends at La Belle Equipe in the 11th arrondissement when two terrorists sprayed the terrace with gunfire. Houda and Halima, who leaves behind a husband and two children aged seven and two, were among the 19 people killed in Friday night’s attack.

Very sad for the family to lose two sisters.

They came from varied backgrounds but the Muslim victims of the indiscriminate multiple attacks were all in the prime of their lives. They included a violinist, an architect, a receptionist and a shop assistant. As the children of France’s colonial legacy, or citizens of those countries, their deaths have cast a shroud of mourning beyond French shores to north Africa.

Terrorism can be indiscriminate.

Djamila Houd, 41, had been a receptionist at the headquarters of the Isabel Marant ready-to-wear fashion house near the Palais Royal for the past three years. She too lost her life on the terrace of La Belle Equipe. A colleague said she was “very jolly and friendly” and an essential member of the closely knit team. A friend who is now on compassionate leave has posted poignant pictures of the two of them enjoying fun times on a boat trip earlier this year.

A useful reminder that the vast majority of Muslims in France and Europe do integrate well. The challenge is the significant minority who do not.

The dead among France’s Muslim community included Asta Diakité, the cousin of the French footballer Lassana Diarra who was playing in the friendly against Germany on Friday night when two suicide bombers disrupted the match. Expressing his pain in a Facebook posting, the footballer said that Diakite, who worked in a chemist’s in the 18th arrondissement, was “my rock, my supporter, my elder sister”.


A sad example of the problems of extreme Islam

November 19th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

In my earlier blog post I laid out that the problem with Islam extends beyond Jihadist Muslims to other Islamists or extreme Muslims who cheer on death in certain circumstances. They are a minority of Muslims, but still number in the hundreds of millions.

We sadly see this in this story:

Turkish fans booed and chanted Allahu Akbar (“God is greater”) during the minute’s silence for the victims of the Paris attacks before their national team drew 0-0 with Greece in a friendly international match on Tuesday (Wednesday NZ time).

They celebrated the slaughtering of youths at a nightclub.

Starting to rethink my view that one day Turkey should be allowed into the EU.

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The Trudeaumetre

November 19th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A group of Canadians have set up the Trudeaumetre website which lists the 184 promises made by new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and monitors if they have been implemented, are in progress, or have been broken.

It’s a good initiative, and would be nice to see in other countries, such as New Zealand.

The key is that the people doing it should be non-partisan.

So far Trudeau has implemented three promises:

  1. Revoke rules and regulations that muzzle government scientists and allow them to speak freely about their work (with only limited and publicly stated exceptions).
  2. Restore mandatory long-form census.
  3. Include an equal number of women and men in the Cabinet.
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Janet Daly sums up the French attacks well

November 18th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Janet Daly writes in The Telegraph:

Whatever this is, it is not a clash of civilisations. The concept of “civilisation” scarcely comes into it. Nor is it a struggle between competing sets of values, or a religious war, or a battle with an alien culture. There is no debate here – as there was in the Cold War – about how it is best for men to live: the enemy has stated explicitly that it does not revere life at all. On the contrary, it is in love with self-inflicted death, which it sees as the highest moral achievement.

This is not even war in any comprehensible sense. Where are the demands, the negotiable limits, or the intelligible objectives? It is not the modern world versus medievalism, or the secular enlightenment trying to deal with fundamentalist religion. It isn’t anything that can be encompassed in the vocabulary of coherent, systematic thought in which we are now accustomed to describe the world. This is just insanity.

There is no point now arguing about the historical or theological roots, about correct or incorrect interpretations of the Koran or even the social role of Islamic leadership. When the lucid try to impose logic on behaviour that is pathological, they will be driven into a dead end – or waste time coming to blows among themselves on matters that are no longer relevant.

She continues:

France and its attitude toward Islam are already being analysed and dissected for all they are worth. Is it the willingness of the country to become involved in action in the regions claimed by Isil that has incited this terrible vindictiveness? Or the enforced secularism of the society in which such a large Muslim minority lives in alienation from national civic norms?

Was it the French military intervention in Libya, or the banning of the burka that was responsible for this havoc? Maybe none – or all – of the above. But none of this speculation is to the point. France has the honourable and consistent foreign policy that it has. It is a proudly secular republic which made the decision to separate civil life from religious observance several centuries ago for what it believed then – and believes now – to be historically sound reasons.

And what is the alternative that is being demanded? Sharia law? The subjection of women? An end to liberal democracy? Are any of these things even within the bounds of consideration? What could be accomplished by national self-doubt or criticism at this point, when there is not even a reasonable basis for discussion with the enemy?

This is the key point. Most conflicts in the past have had a potential solution. Often it was the giving up of land. Or independence. But what is the basis for discussion with the Islamic State? There is none, short of surrender.

The indiscriminate mass murder of civilians must put an end to that. The sane people of the world – even when their ultimate objectives differ or conflict – will need to join together now to stamp out, by whatever means are necessary, a threat to all varieties of civilised life.

It’s that, or face events like this every few weeks.

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Five shades of Islam

November 17th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

One of the predictable, yet distressing, things about the Paris terror attacks is you get extreme opinions about Islam and Muslims, from both “sides”.

One the one side, you get people saying the entire Islamic religion is to blame, and all Muslims are untrustworthy, and should be deported/not allowed in etc.

On the other side you get many try to argue that Islamic terror attacks have nothing to do with Islam, and that there are no problems with Islam.

I reject both those views.

Those who argue that the West should somehow banish all Muslims, and that all adherents of Islam are potentially a problem are wrong both ethically and practically.

Ethically it is wrong to treat individuals purely as members of a religion, rather than on the basis of everything else in their lives. You only judge someone by their group characteristic in the absence of any knowledge of them as an individual.

Practically it is nuts to think that you could try and divide the world up by banishing 1.4 billion people from certain countries.

Anyway I want to go into some detail as to why you can’t lump all Muslims together, just as you can’t lump all Christians together or even all Catholics. But I also want to explore why there is a problem with Islam beyond the jihadists.

For the purposes of the post I’m going to divide Muslims into five broad categories. They’re categories created by me, so don’t argue about whether there are four or six or seven or 852. And I’m not even going to get into Sunni vs Shia and Wahhabi etc.

Broadly speaking I personally see five broad groups of Muslims. They are:

  1. Secular Muslims
  2. Moderate Muslims
  3. Devout Muslims
  4. Extreme Muslims or Islamists
  5. Jihadist Muslims

Secular Muslims

Now wait a second you say. There is no such thing as a Secular Muslim. It is a contradiction.

Well just as Israel has Atheist Jews, you do have basically secular Muslims. They’re people who culturally identify as Muslim, but don’t really practice the religion at all. It is a cultural thing, rather than a religious thing. And yes I’m aware they’re probably not considered Muslims by some of the other groups, but it is about what they identify as.

You might ask why do they identify as Muslim, if they do not really follow the religion at all. Well basically it is family. Declaring yourself not a Muslim would get your ostracized from your family.  You would have years of  arguments and stress. Also you are proud of your family and their culture, and wish to be associated with it.

Beyond the identification as Muslim, the behaviour is generally no different from others in their country and peer group. I know Muslims girls who have numerous boyfriends, hook ups, drink alcohol etc. Possibly even eat pork. And one of them I know wasn’t even sure if their family/they are Shia or Sunni.

For many years I have not believed in God, yet I still have ticked Anglican on my census form, because I grew up Anglican, was only 99.99% sure their is no God, and still have positive feelings about the Anglican Church. So I have been a sort of secular Anglican. I also have Jewish heritage, and associate with my Jewish heritage, even though I am not religiously Jewish.

I don’t know what proportion of Muslims are basically secular, but in Western countries it is quite a few.

Moderate Muslims

This is what I call the equivalent of the Easter and Christmas Catholic. They will believe in God/Allah. They will very occasionally go to a religious service. They may not necessarily wear a head scarf without fail (if female), and their religion is not the most important aspect of their lives. It is significant, but not dominant.

Again no real estimate of numbers, but in my observations more common in Asian countries than the Middle East. Not unknown also in parts of Africa.

Devout Muslims

Arguably the largest group. Their religion is a very important part of their life. They will go out of their way to adhere to religious customs, and attend mosque regularly. They do not think their religion should be the law of the land, they just want to be able to practice it themselves.

The equivalent of weekly church goers in Christian  churches.

Islamists/Extreme Muslims

These are Muslims who basically do believe their religious beliefs should not just be practiced by themselves, but should have legal force. They may support sharia law, stoning as punishment for adultery, the death penalty for apostasy, suicide bombings as justified sometimes, have favourable views of jihadist groups, support honour killings.

This group does not include jihadists, but provides the environment where they can thrive and gain support. If you support killing adulterers and apostates, then it is not surprising that it is hard to argue that however it is wrong to kill party goers in Paris. One really wants adherents of a religion to say that killing anyone (except in self defence) is always wrong – full stop.

The number of Islamists or exteme Muslims is not insignificant. In this blog post I estimate it is around 420 million or so. A minority, but a large minority – say 25%.

Jihadist Muslims

These are the ones who actively get involved in killing people who they think have offended their religion, willing fighters for Islamic State, al-Qaeda etc. Estimated (low end) numbers are:

  • Islamic State 60,000
  • al-Qaeda 20,000
  • Taliban 60,000

There’s around 100 smaller groups also. In total talking low hundreds of thousands.  As a proportion of Islam not even 0.1%, but as raw numbers scarily high.  By comparison the IRA had around 10,000 members.

So I see no good in lumping all Muslims together. It’s unhelpful, it’s offensive to them, and it only makes things worse.

However I do believe the focus should not just be on Jihadists Muslims, but also Islamists or Extreme Muslims. I’m quite happy for countries to have immigration policies that say if you think think death is an appropriate punishment for adultery or apostasy then you’re not suitable to live here. Likewise if you think your religious beliefs should be imposed on people who don’t follow your religion, the same. And that applies to extreme adherents of other religions also.

In my mind you can’t make the case that blowing civilians up is bad, but executing someone for changing their religion is acceptable.

Islam does need a reformation. That can’t be done by non Muslims. It can only be done within Islam. The bottom line needs to be that death is never justified. The problem however is that Islam has no central authority (unlike most religions) and the status of the Koran makes a reformation very difficult. However there is no other long-term solution.

So I do reject those who say Islamic State and its terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. That is a lie. It may be an extreme minority aspect of Islam, but the teachings of Mohammed clearly are a driving force for many Islamists and Jihadists.

Douglas Murray covers this well in The Spectator:

The West’s movement towards the truth is remarkably slow. We drag ourselves towards it painfully, inch by inch, after each bloody Islamist assault.

In France, Britain, Germany, America and nearly every other country in the world it remains government policy to say that any and all attacks carried out in the name of Mohammed have ‘nothing to do with Islam’. It was said by George W. Bush after 9/11, Tony Blair after 7/7 and Tony Abbott after the Sydney attack last month. It is what David Cameron said after two British extremists cut off the head of Drummer Lee Rigby in London, when ‘Jihadi John’ cut off the head of aid worker Alan Henning in the ‘Islamic State’ and when Islamic extremists attacked a Kenyan mall, separated the Muslims from the Christians and shot the latter in the head. It was what President François Hollande said after the massacre of journalists and Jews in Paris in January. And it is all that most politicians will be able to come out with again after the latest atrocities in Paris.

All these leaders are wrong. In private, they and their senior advisers often concede that they are telling a lie. The most sympathetic explanation is that they are telling a ‘noble lie’, provoked by a fear that we — the general public — are a lynch mob in waiting.

And it has become counter productive.

‘Noble’ or not, this lie is a mistake. First, because the general public do not rely on politicians for their information and can perfectly well read articles and books about Islam for themselves. Secondly, because the lie helps no one understand the threat we face. Thirdly, because it takes any heat off Muslims to deal with the bad traditions in their own religion.

Muslims in the first three categories bear no responsibility for what Jihadists do. But there does need to be a recognition that reform is needed – that their views of Islam need to become more widespread so they represent not 75% of Muslims, but 99%.

To claim that people who punish people by killing them for blaspheming Islam while shouting ‘Allah is greatest’ has ‘nothing to do with Islam’ is madness. Because the violence of the Islamists is, truthfully, only to do with Islam: the worst version of Islam, certainly, but Islam nonetheless.

Other religions have issues also, as the author notes but:

Here we land at the centre of the problem — a centre we have spent the last decade and a half trying to avoid: Islam is not a peaceful religion. No religion is, but Islam is especially not. Nor is it, as some ill-informed people say, solely a religion of war. There are many peaceful verses in the Quran which — luckily for us — the majority of Muslims live by. But it is, by no means, only a religion of peace.

You can cherry pick verses in the Quran to argue it is a religion of peace or war. What matters is the actions by its adherents.

I say this not because I hate Islam, nor do I have any special animus against Muslims, but simply because this is the verifiable truth based on the texts. Until we accept that we will never defeat the violence, we risk encouraging whole populations to take against all of Islam and abandon all those Muslims who are trying desperately to modernise, reform and de-literalise their faith.

And they are the ones we must support. Not demonise.

The world would be an infinitely safer place if the historical Mohammed had behaved more like Buddha or Jesus. …

We may all share a wish that these traditions were not there but they are and they look set to have serious consequences for us all. We might all agree that the history of Christianity has hardly been un-bloody. But is it not worth asking whether the history of Christianity would have been more bloody or less bloody if, instead of telling his followers to ‘turn the other cheek’, Jesus had called (even once) for his disciples to ‘slay’ non–believers and chop off their heads?

A point worth considering.

This is a problem with Islam — one that Muslims are going to have to work through. They could do so by a process which forces them to take their foundational texts less literally, or by an intellectually acceptable process of cherry-picking verses. Or prominent clerics could unite to declare the extremists non-Muslim.

Again the lack of a central authority makes this difficult. However political leaders in Muslim countries could lead the way. They could remove laws around executing people for apostasy or adultery as a start.

We have spent 15 years pretending things about Islam, a complex religion with competing interpretations. It is true that most Muslims live their lives peacefully. But a sizeable portion (around 15 per cent and more in most surveys) follow a far more radical version. The remainder are sitting on a religion which is, in many of its current forms, a deeply unstable component. That has always been a problem for reformist Muslims. But the results of ongoing mass immigration to the West at the same time as a worldwide return to Islamic literalism means that this is now a problem for all of us. To stand even a chance of dealing with it, we are going to have to wake up to it and acknowledge it for what it is.

The challenge is to talk about the problems within Islam, in a way which doesn’t lead to more extremism and defensiveness.

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Bolivia’s climate change solution

November 16th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

You have to read the official submission of the Government of Bolivia to the climate change conference. Their 10 point plan is:

  1. Adoption of a new model of civilization in the world without consumerism, war-mongering, and mercantilism, a world without capitalism; build and consolidate a world order of Living Well that defends and promotes the integral rights of our peoples, undertaking the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.
  2. Construction of a climate system based on responsibility to Mother Earth, the culture of life and the full realization of humanity in their holistic development, humanizing the economy, surpassing the simplistic approach to decarbonization of the economy.
  3. Protection of the Rights of Mother Earth in an articulated and complementary manner to the rights of peoples to their development.
  4. Defense of universal common goods such as the seas and oceans, water, atmospheric space, as well as the technological monopoly, promoting people’s access to the common heritage.
  5. Elimination of patents on technologies and recognition of the human right to science and technology of life.
  6. Effective implementation by governments of the human right to water.
  7. Establishment of the International Court of Justice Climate and Mother Earth to enable countries to fulfill their international commitments to climate change in a context of respect for the rights of peoples and of Mother Earth.
  8. Allocate the resources of the military machinery of the imperial powers and the war-mongers to finance the activities of the peoples against climate change.
  9. Eradication of commodification of nature and carbon markets promoting business climate millionaires, which do not solve the problem of the climate crisis.
  10. Decolonize natural resources environmental colonial biased views that see the peoples of the South as forest rangers of Northern countries and communities as enemies of nature.

It sounds like a Green Party manifesto :-)

Hat Tip: Mark Steyn

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What will countries do to stop the terrorists?

November 16th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Andrew Bolt blogs:

Many of the gestures are well meaning. Grieving is necessary. Solidarity is important.

But can I respectfully point out the following:

Lighting up buildings in red, white and blue will not stop the terrorists.

Singing La Marseillaise will not stop the terrorists.

Tweeting #IStandWithParis will not stop the terrorists.

Tweeting the Eiffel Tower peace sign will not stop the terrorists.

Saying you condemn the killings will not stop the terrorists.

Showing you stand in solidarity with Paris will not stop the terrorists.

Saying you are ”shoulder to shoulder” with Paris will not stop the terrorists.

Saying we will not be cowed by terrorism will not stop the terrorists.

Saying the terrorism is an attack on all humanity will not stop the terrorists.

Tears, candles, hymns, vigils, prayers, speeches, condolence books, hashtags, poems, meetings – none of that will stop the terrorists.

A challenge to our leaders: tell us precisely what you plan to do that really will stop the terrorists.

Spare us tears and tributes. Spare us platitudes and sentiment.  Give us plans. Action.

Tell us about reforming Islam, controlling immigration, shutting down hate-preachers and destroying the Islamic State and al Qaeda.

The rest is just flowers at a funeral. It will not stop the next one.

There is no simple answers of course, and as with any action, the unintended consequences can be significant.

But I’d start the ball rolling by saying it is time to recognise Assad as the lesser evil.

Stalin was an awful man who did much evil. But Hitler in the 1930s and 1940s was the larger threat, and it was the right decision to ally with Stalin to defeat Hitler – even if it partly resulted in decades of dictatorships for Eastern Europe.

It’s time to say Islamic State is a greater evil than any other we face today, and that the political will and resources are needed to commit to eliminating it.   You can’t defeat all Islamic terrorism – I imagine for decades to come, we will have terrorist attacks from various jihadist groups. But the Islamic State can be beaten in the sense that unlike other groups, it gains its status from holding actual territory and declaring it to be the Caliphate.

I draw people back to the globally acclaimed Atlantic article in March:

One way to un-cast the Islamic State’s spell over its adherents would be to overpower it militarily and occupy the parts of Syria and Iraq now under caliphate rule. Al‑Qaeda is ineradicable because it can survive, cockroach-like, by going underground. The Islamic State cannot. If it loses its grip on its territory in Syria and Iraq, it will cease to be a caliphate. Caliphates cannot exist as underground movements, because territorial authority is a requirement: take away its command of territory, and all those oaths of allegiance are no longer binding. Former pledges could of course continue to attack the West and behead their enemies, as freelancers. But the propaganda value of the caliphate would disappear, and with it the supposed religious duty to immigrate and serve it.

They also warn:

And yet the risks of escalation are enormous. The biggest proponent of an American invasion is the Islamic State itself. The provocative videos, in which a black-hooded executioner addresses President Obama by name, are clearly made to draw America into the fight. An invasion would be a huge propaganda victory for jihadists worldwide: irrespective of whether they have givenbaya’a to the caliph, they all believe that the United States wants to embark on a modern-day Crusade and kill Muslims. Yet another invasion and occupation would confirm that suspicion, and bolster recruitment. Add the incompetence of our previous efforts as occupiers, and we have reason for reluctance. The rise of ISIS, after all, happened only because our previous occupation created space for Zarqawi and his followers. Who knows the consequences of another botched job?

This is the problem. But I think the pendulum is tilting towards taking action. However to succeed, it has to be more than just some bombing flights. The same level of commitment and determination as the Allies had in WWII would be needed, and inevitably there would be a huge level of civilian casualties.  There could be no negotiated settlement, but like in WWII it would need to be unconditional surrender of all territory.  I imagine the death toll would be in the tens of thousands on the side of invading forces, and hundreds of thousands on the other side. So it may be that instead we’ll settle for one to two terrorist attacks a week instead.

My preference would be to not have Western troops directly fighting ISIL, as that allows them to frame it as a Crusade.  I think one needs to do a deal with Assad, and provide huge military resources to Muslim countries and leaders willing to fight Islamic State – Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and maybe even Iran. Yes there will be some nightmares to deal with after ISIL is defeated, but just as we worked with Stalin to defeat Hitler, I think we can’t be choosy about our allies in this battle.

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ISIS claim responsibility

November 15th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Isis has claimed responsibility for the coordinated terror attacks in Paris which killed at least 127 people, and warned that more will follow.

A statement released by the extremist group said it masterminded the horrifying attacks on the French capital in revenge for “insulting” the prophet Muhammad.

The terror group singled out France for its involvement in the bombing campaign against Isis territory in Iraq and Syria and said it murdered French citizens because the nation ‘boasted’ about its military contribution.

Some people may argue that the way to stop such attacks is to leave ISIS alone, and make it illegal to insult Muhammad. But they are fooling themselves as you’ll see further on:

It said an attack at the Bataclan Theatre, during a rock concert, was aimed at “idolaters” who were “together in a party of perversity” and said the French are Isis’ “principal targets”. …

“The targets included the Bataclan theatre for exhibitions, where hundreds of idolaters gathered for a concert of prostitution and vice.

So the 100 people who died at the rock concert were targeted because the Islamic extremists of ISIS think rock concerts are immoral, and that if you offend their definition of morality, it is justified by their God to kill you.

There is no reasoning or political response to such thinking. They can’t be appeased.

The killers didn’t just randomly shoot people at the concert. They executed people one by one, shooting them as they lay wounded on the floor. Even more sickening is that they targeted a group of concert goers in wheel chairs:

Miss Wilson, 49, originally from New Orleans, also told how she witnessed the gunmen deliberately targeting concert-goers in wheelchairs. The gunmen hunted down disabled people who were sat in an area specially set aside for wheelchair users.

In the last year or so we have seen Islamic terrorist attacks in France, Australia, UK, Canada and the US. Our risk profile is lower than those countries, but we are fooling ourselves if we think we are immune. Sadly it is probably inevitable that our time will come.  In 2015 there have been 59 Islamic terrorism attacks already.  They are growing rapidly in frequency. The annual numbers are:

  • 1999 – 0
  • 2000 – 4
  • 2001 – 12
  • 2002 – 35
  • 2003 – 20
  • 2004 – 28
  • 2005 – 16
  • 2006 – 8
  • 2007 – 6
  • 2008 – 7
  • 2009 – 4
  • 2010 – 14
  • 2011 – 19
  • 2012 – 14
  • 2013 – 20
  • 2014 – 35
  • 2015 – 59 to 13 November

How to reduce the incidence is a question, there is no easy answer to. I’ll blog on options later this week.

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Is Jihadi John dead?

November 15th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

US official claims Islamic State jihadi ‘eviscerated’ as he left a building in Raqqa in a ‘clean hit’ drone strike as Pentagon try to get confirmation Mohammed Emwazi is dead

Eviscerated sounds good to me, if correct.

Hopefully Jeremy Corbyn will condemn it and call it a tragedy!

UPDATE: Almost. Corbyn said it would have been better too try him in court. He failed to explain how you arrest him and put him on trial!


Multiple terror attacks in Paris

November 14th, 2015 at 11:50 am by David Farrar

My thoughts and tears are with France as Paris is under multiple attacks as I write this.

The death toll so far is thought to be at least 60, and there is at least one major hostage situation.

It is very clear that these were co-ordinated attacks by Islamic terrorists.  It is France’s 9/11 and Britain’s 7/7.

Eventually focus will go on the attackers, and how to prevent a reoccurence. But for now let us just hope the French Police can prevent the death toll going any higher, and catch those responsble.

It will be a terrifying time for the millions who live in Paris. They need to know the world stands with them.

The Daily Telegraph has very good up to date coverage.

UPDATE: President Hollande has declared a state of emergency through France

UPDATE2: Death toll now at least 153, including 112 at the Bataclan concert.  The sheer terror for those at the concert must be unimaginable. They went around executing people one by one.

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Canada celebrates an openly ginger Minister!

November 13th, 2015 at 1:03 pm by David Farrar


They’re behind Australia which has had an openly ginger Prime Minister!