Archive for the ‘International Politics’ Category

Gould prescribes Corbyn for NZ Labour

August 30th, 2015 at 7:07 am by David Farrar

Bryan Gould writes:

For New Zealand students of current affairs, the contest for the leadership of the UK Labour Party involves four names that will mean little – and, in that, they will not be too different from observers of the contest in Britain itself. Yet, the emergence of one of the four candidates – Jeremy Corbyn – as the unexpected front-runner is worth a second look, not least for the lessons it might offer to left-of-centre parties around the globe. …

The Corbyn economic policy platform, in other words, is comfortably in line with what is fast becoming the new consensus – less doctrinaire and more common sense than the old orthodoxy. Whether these factors will actually produce a Corbyn leadership remains to be seen, but he has certainly revitalised the party and enthused potential Labour voters. By opening up a long overdue debate, he has redefined the political landscape and offered new hope to those who have been conditioned to believe that “there is no alternative”.

Labour leaders elsewhere, not least in New Zealand, will – or should – be watching closely.

I strong endorse what Bryan Gould is saying. I think NZ Labour should watch closely and elect their most left-wing rebellious MP as leader, declare solidarity with Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA, and propose economic policies that even in the 1970s would have been to the extreme left.

You will be wildly successful, and win the next election convincingly.

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Australia worried about brain drain to NZ

August 26th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Australia has a new fear – a brain drain to New Zealand.

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey has sounded the alarm, warning that an increasing number of Australian residents are moving to New Zealand, including “high net worth” individuals, The Australian reported on Monday.

Hockey has outlined a proposal to cut taxes to make Australia more competitive.

He told ABC  Radio New Zealand’s lower income tax rate was “unquestionably” part of the reason increasing numbers of Australian residents were moving to New Zealand.

“New Zealand has a top personal tax rate of 33 cents in the dollar. We have a top personal tax rate of 45 cents in the dollar, plus two per cent for the Medicare levy, plus two per cent for the temporary budget repair levy – so 49 cents in the dollar.

“Sooner or later people start to move to New Zealand and that’s what’s happening. In fact, in the last 12 months, for the first time in years, there were more people moving to New Zealand than there were New Zealanders moving to Australia.”

Labour and capital is now globally mobile. If you tax either too much, they will move to where they get taxes less. It is not the only factor in the movement of labour and capital – but it definitely plays a role.

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Yeah, right – just an armed robbery

August 24th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar reports:

Khazzani is accused of boarding a high-speed train in Brussels bound for Paris on Friday armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, Luger automatic pistol, nine cartridge clips and a boxcutter.

Witnesses say he opened fire, injuring a man before being wrestled to the floor by three American passengers and tied up, until the train stopped in the northern French city of Arras where he was taken into police custody.

Khazzani has denied any intention of waging a jihadist attack, saying he had merely stumbled upon a weapons stash and decided to use it to rob passengers, according to Sophie David, a lawyer assigned to his case.

Oh, how stupid do they think people are?

You don’t start randomly shooting people to rob them. And a train is a very bad place to rob someone, as you can’t exactly slip away.

“He is dumbfounded that his act is being linked to terrorism,” she told BFM-TV, adding the suspect who is believed to have lived in Belgium describes himself as a homeless man.

“He says that by chance he found a suitcase with a weapon, with a telephone, hidden away,” said Ms David, who is no longer representing him as Khazzani has been transferred to Levallois Perret near Paris where he is being questioned by counter terrorism officers.

Worst defence claim ever.

A Spanish counterterrorism source said Khazzani had lived in Spain for seven years until 2014 and came to the attention of authorities for making hard line speeches defending jihad, as well as once being detained for drug trafficking.

I don’t think this will take a jury long.


Vive la US military

August 23rd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

US servicemen overpowered a gunman armed with a Kalashnikov who opened fire on a high-speed train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris.

Vive le US military.

As I understand it, they were unarmed, and took him on.

The gunman had a Kalashnikov, an automatic pistol and a box cutter, one police source said.

The suspect, who was arrested when the train stopped at the northern French town of Arras, was a 26-year-old from Morocco or of Moroccan origin who was known to the intelligence services, French investigators said.

So much for claims it might not be a terrorist attack.

“Then the man, who was bare-chested, returned to carriage 12 and someone in a green T-shirt, with a shaved head, saw him and jumped on him and pinned him to the ground.”

Only pinned him? Somewhat disappointing.


A bit more than pin him according to USA Today:

“As he was cocking it to shoot it, Alek just yells, ‘Spencer, go!’ And Spencer runs down the aisle,” Sadler said. “Spencer makes first contact, he tackles the guy, Alek wrestles the gun away from him, and the gunman pulls out a box cutter and slices Spencer a few times. And the three of us beat him until he was unconscious.”

Trapped on a train, the death toll could have been scores if he hadn’t been stopped.


Was it a Jewish dolphin?

August 20th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

A dolphin purportedly conducting a “spying mission for the Israeli government” has been apprehended by the Gaza-based militant group Hamas in the Mediterranean sea, it was reported on Wednesday.

The dolphin caught the attention of the Palestinian militants because it was conducting “suspicious” manoeuvres in the water, Hamas said.

Like swimming?

According to the Al Quds publication, the dolphin was also carrying a device capable of firing arrows which could harm a human being. The animal remains in Hamas custody.

Wow, a dolphin that can fire a bow and arrow!

It seems Jewish animals are everywhere:

In 2007, fourteen squirrels were reportedly “arrested” on surveillance charges in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The country’s media network IRNA reported that the rodents were discovered carrying “eavesdropping devices”.

A year later, Iranian security forces arrested two suspected “spy pigeons”near a nuclear facility.

In 2011, a “Mossad vulture” was captured in Saudi Arabia on suspicions of surveillance.

I love it – a Mossad vulture.


Hartcher on Abbott

August 20th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Peter Hartcher, the SMH Poitical Editor, writes:

There was no due process on gay marriage. Abbott did not consult his Cabinet, rode roughshod over the Liberal party room’s sensibilities, rushed to a Coalition room discussion, and led the party to confused non-decisions on future process. 

None of this mattered to Abbott. Why? Because all he wanted was to kill any prospect that same-sex marriage would come to a free vote on the floor of the Parliament. 

That done, to hell with the rest of it. That’s why, two days later, his Cabinet ministers were out in public arguing with each other on referendum versus plebiscites, George Brandis lecturing Scott Morrison, conducting government by Sky News. 

Did it seem odd that a Prime Minister would corral his party to block same-sex marriage, putting the Government on the opposite side of two-thirds of the electorate? 

It is odd for a Prime Minister who wants to win an election to wilfully alienate most of the country. 

But winning the election is a second-order issue for Abbott. His first priority is surviving long enough to even make it to election day.

The whole point of Abbott’s gay marriage gambit was to appease the conservative side of his caucus. 

He sees this as vital to his survival as leader. 

Remember that the February spill motion was moved by two of the party’s right-wing conservatives. 

The outcome on gay marriage this week may drive much of the public to despair, but it satisfies Abbott’s right and protects his flank. That’s the hard calculus that drove the process.

This means that the next spill effort against Abbott won’t come from the right. If it comes, it’ll have to be from the left of the Liberal caucus. 

The last thing the Liberal Party should do is drag this out until after the next election. Either allow a conscience vote in Parliament, or call a referendum before the next election.

When Abbott introduced John Key at a business lunch during that trans-Tasman bonding a year and a half ago, he quipped that he realised some of the Australians in the room would prefer John Key to be prime minister of Australia instead of himself. 

He got polite laughs but it was true.

People are voting with their feet. 

For the first time in 30 years, the relentless flow of Kiwis to settle in Australia has stopped. And started to flow the other way. 

“Good government” doesn’t have to be a joke.

I’ve not been in favour of joining NZ and Australia together, but John Key as Prime Minister of Australasia has a nice ring to it :-)

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200 years of amazing progress

August 17th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar


A pretty stunning graph showing how much the world has changed for the better for the vast majority. We’ve gone from 95% of humans in poverty to under 20% – and the biggest change has been the last 50 years.

Dylan Matthew at Vox reports:

If you’ve ever doubted that 2015 is the best time to be alive in human history to date, take a look at this chart …

In the 19th century, extreme poverty — defined here as living on less than $1.25 a day* — was the norm. In 1820, 94.4 percent of humans were below that line. Only a tiny fraction of the world enjoyed standards of living that were remotely bearable. Progress was initially slow. By 1910, the share had only gotten down to 82.4 percent — a 12-point drop over 90 years. But things picked up after World War II, and 89 years after 1910, only 28.9 percent of people were in extreme poverty. To repeat: From 1820 to 1910, there was a 12-point drop. From 1910 to 1999, there was more than a 53-point drop.

This also explains a lot of our global political history. When 80% of the world is living in poverty, then communism and socialism looks very attractive. But it has actually been the spread of capitalism to China and India that has led to the massive declines in poverty.


An intern is not a staffer

August 14th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The young New Zealander forced to sleep in a tent in Geneva has quit his prestigious but unpaid internship at the United Nations.

The plight of David Hyde featured on the front page of a Swiss newspaper on Tuesday (Wednesday NZ Time) and on Wednesday (Thursday NZT), the 22-year-old from Christchurch told journalists outside the gates of the UN’s European headquarters he had decided to resign.

“It’s my own decision and I chose to resign because I felt that it would be too difficult to continue to focus on my work as an intern at this stage,” said Hyde, who started his internship two weeks ago, AFP reported.

A photo of him standing in a suit, UN badge around his neck, next to a small tent and rolled up foam mattress near Lake Geneva, caused outrage and an outpouring of offers of accommodation, according to the Tribune de Geneve, which broke the story.

He described the excitement at home when he was accepted to the prestigious position, but said his family was unaware of his precarious situation in the Swiss city, where rents are among the highest in the world, AFP reported.

“I just want to make it clear that no person forced me to sleep in a tent, but rather my circumstances and the conditions for this internship made it the only real possibility that I could see,” he told reporters.

Hyde acknowledged lying during his internship interview when asked whether he would be able to support himself during his stay in Geneva, AFP reported.

But he said he had previously answered that question truthfully and had found all doors closed to him.

“The UN was clear about their intern policy from the start: No wage or stipend, no transport help, no food allowance, no health assistance. I understood this, and in that regard, I have to take responsibility for taking the internship in the first place,” he said during the media scrum.

But Hyde called for the UN to change its policies.

“I do not feel that this is a fair system,” he said, urging interns worldwide to “push for the recognition of our value and the equal rights that we deserve.”

I’m not sure such a sense of entitlement is going to be of great assistance to Mr Hyde in the future.

As he said, the UN makes very clear that you do not get paid. The reason so many people want to be an intern is it gives them experience which helps you get paid jobs in the future.

If being an unpaid intern isn’t appealing to you, well then don’t apply to be one. Apply for a paid UN job.

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Australian MP perks

August 12th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar has a list of the 10 worst spending excesses by Australian MPs, and what strikes me is that almost all of them couldn’t happen here. Let’s go through them:

  1. $152,000 on office admin costs including printing of $100,000. NZ MPs get a bulk allocation for office costs they must live within ranging from $47,000 to $110,000 depending on size of electorate
  2. Office renovation for an MP of $150,000. NZ MPs just get assigned an office in Parliament and the bulk budget above is for out of prlt offices.
  3. $200,000 on office facilities for a Minister. Again in NZ Ministers just basically get a standard office.
  4. An ex MP has spent $250,000 on 750 taxpayer funded flights. In NZ ex MPs no longer get free travel after they retire.
  5. A Senator spent $74,000 on domestic airfares. This could happen here as no cap on domestic airfares, but quarterly publication of costs discourages them.
  6. An MP spent $43,625 on overnight stays away from home and Parliament. This would be very hard to do in NZ as MP can claim only $210 a night.
  7. An MP spent $67,000 on chartered flights. NZ MPs can not charter flights except in exceptional circumstances for maybe the PM or senior Ministers.
  8. An MP had $28,500 of family travel. In NZ there is a limit of 30 one way trips for spouses and eight for children.
  9. $8,000 on a family holiday. This would not be funded in NZ.
  10. $6,000 for a helicopter trip. NZ MPs can not use helicopters for travel

Things are not perfect in NZ, but overall our rules look far far more stringent (as they should be) than Australia’s.


Corbyn now 32% ahead

August 11th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Independent reports:

Jeremy Corbyn will win the Labour leadership contest in a first-round landslide victory with 53 per cent, according to a new poll from YouGov.

Corbyn has been polling way ahead of his competition for weeks, but this result gives him the largest lead so far, putting him 32 points ahead of Andy Burnham, who came in second place.

The poll revealed that Yvette Cooper would get 18 per cent of the vote, and Liz Kendall would trail with only eight per cent.

So Corbyn 53%, Burnham 21%, Cooper 18%, Kendall 8%.

The Guardian reports:

Labour could be finished if Jeremy Corbyn wins the leadership, Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former chief spin doctor, has said.

In a lengthy blogpost, the former Downing Street head of communications and strategy urges the party to choose “anyone but Corbyn”, despite having previously said he would not intervene in the contest.

He says he changed his mind about weighing in because he believes the party would head for a “car crash, and more” under the Islington MP’s leadership.

Not sure if anything can stop Corbyn.

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Union fees should be direct debit!

August 9th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Under the proposals, it is claimed that administrative costs will be saved in the public sector as 3.8 million trade union members – 54% of the public sector workforce – are told to make their own arrangements to pay their union subscription, mainly by direct debit. Unions say this will lead to a loss in funds by making subscription payments more complicated.

But Hancock said: “In the 21st-century era of direct debits and digital payments, public resources should not be used to support the collection of trade union subscriptions. It’s time to get rid of this outdated practice and modernise the relationship between trade unions and their members. By ending check-off we are bringing greater transparency to employees – making it easier for them to choose whether or not to pay subscriptions and which union to join.”

Totally support this, and would love to see this in NZ.

Not just for the public sector. Employers should be left out of this. If an employee wants to join a union, they should pay the fees directly. Very easy with Internet Banking to set up an AP or DD.


Ted Heath allegations

August 7th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The woman at the centre of the Sir Edward Heath child abuse storm is a Filipino prostitute who ran a brothel just a kilometre from the late Prime Minister’s former home in Salisbury.

Myra Ling-Ling Forde, 67, has twice been jailed for operating as a madam out of her home in the Wiltshire town where Heath lived after leaving office. But in the early 1990s it is alleged she had a prosecution dropped after threatening to expose Heath as a paedophile.

A retired senior detective came forward last year to allege that his colleagues quietly dropped a trial against twice-married Forde to protect the reputation of the former Tory leader. That allegation is now the subject of an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation, but Wiltshire police have also appealed for any potential victims of Heath to come forward.

Heath is now at the centre of five separate police investigations.

Is this smoke without fire, or is there substance to the allegations?

There has been long-standing speculation on Heath being homosexual, or alternatively asexual. But the suggestions of pedophilia are relatively new, and of course massively different. It is important to note there is only one specific allegation, and so far not substantiated.

Dan Hodges writes in The Telegraph:

Edward Heath. Former prime minister. Former leader of the opposition. Mentioned in dispatches during the Normandy campaign. All gone now. In the blink of an eye. Or the blink of a press release. His entire life – a lifetime of public service – completely erased. And replaced with a putrid, fetid, sordid stain.

That is literally all it takes now – in Britain, in 2015. One letter. One phone call. One meeting. And it’s done.

It’s time it was undone. I’m bored of listening to the howl of the mob. Watching sun glinting off the scythes, and being told this represents “justice”.

Yes, I know. My first thought is supposed to be for “the victims”. But I don’t think there are any victims of Edward Heath. I think the man who has come forward to the claim he was abused by Ted Heath when he was 12 is mistaken. I think the former brothel keeper – who has a conviction for perverting the course of justice – and who is one of the other main “witnesses” against him is lying, or mistaken as well.

The problem is that we have learnt from the Jimmy Saville affair, that the establishment didn’t pursue complaints against famous or powerful people, with any vigour. We may never know the truth.


Public Polls July 2015

August 7th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar


The summary of Curia’s monthly newsletter is:

There were three political voting polls in July – a Roy Morgan, One News Colmar Brunton and 3 News Reid Research.

The average of the public polls has National 14% ahead of Labour in July, down 10% from June. The current seat projection is centre-right 57 seats, centre-left 54 which would see NZ First hold the balance of power.

In the United States Donald Trump continues to dominate the Republican field.

In the UK Jeremy Corbyn has gone from being a 100 to 1 outside to the favourite with the bookmakers to become the next UK Labour Party Leader.

In Australia Shorten’s approval ratings continue to decline after his testimony at the Royal Commission into union corruption.

In Canada they remain on track to elect their first ever NDP Government. The Liberals continue to lose support to the NDP.

The normal three tables are provided comparing the country direction sentiment, head of government approval and opposition leader approval sentiment for the five countries.

We also carry details of polls on foreign house buyers, genetic modification, refugees, organ donation, euthanasia, intelligence agencies 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



In Zimbabwe they don’t cry for lions

August 7th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A very good op ed at the NYT by Goodwell Nzou:

MY mind was absorbed by the biochemistry of gene editing when the text messages and Facebook posts distracted me.

So sorry about Cecil.

Did Cecil live near your place in Zimbabwe?

Cecil who? I wondered. When I turned on the news and discovered that the messages were about a lion killed by an American dentist, the village boy inside me instinctively cheered: One lion fewer to menace families like mine.

My excitement was doused when I realized that the lion killer was being painted as the villain. I faced the starkest cultural contradiction I’d experienced during my five years studying in the United States.

Did all those Americans signing petitions understand that lions actually kill people? That all the talk about Cecil being “beloved” or a “local favorite” was media hype? Did Jimmy Kimmel choke up because Cecil was murdered or because he confused him with Simba from “The Lion King”?

In my village in Zimbabwe, surrounded by wildlife conservation areas, no lion has ever been beloved, or granted an affectionate nickname. They are objects of terror.

Cecil was not a tame pet.

Recently, a 14-year-old boy in a village not far from mine wasn’t so lucky. Sleeping in his family’s fields, as villagers do to protect crops from the hippos, buffalo and elephants that trample them, he was mauled by a lion and died.

The killing of Cecil hasn’t garnered much more sympathy from urban Zimbabweans, although they live with no such danger. Few have ever seen a lion, since game drives are a luxury residents of a country with an average monthly income below $150 cannot afford.

Don’t misunderstand me: For Zimbabweans, wild animals have near-mystical significance. We belong to clans, and each clan claims an animal totem as its mythological ancestor. Mine is Nzou, elephant, and by tradition, I can’t eat elephant meat; it would be akin to eating a relative’s flesh. But our respect for these animals has never kept us from hunting them or allowing them to be hunted.

Wed need to be very careful to not impose our reality, safely behind computer screens, on the reality of life in Zimbabwe.

The American tendency to romanticize animals that have been given actual names and to jump onto a hashtag train has turned an ordinary situation — there were 800 lions legally killed over a decade by well-heeled foreigners who shelled out serious money to prove their prowess — into what seems to my Zimbabwean eyes an absurdist circus.


PETA is calling for the hunter to be hanged. Zimbabwean politicians are accusing the United States of staging Cecil’s killing as a “ploy” to make our country look bad. And Americans who can’t find Zimbabwe on a map are applauding the nation’s demand for the extradition of the dentist, unaware that a baby elephant was reportedly slaughtered for our president’s most recent birthday banquet.

We Zimbabweans are left shaking our heads, wondering why Americans care more about African animals than about African people.

A very good point.

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Did UK Labour lose due to social media?

August 5th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Helen Lewis writes at the New Statesman:

Here’s my melodramatic theory: social media lost Labour the last election and it’s going to lose Labour the next one, too.

It sounds bonkers, doesn’t it? But look at it like this: “political Twitter”, the small subset of the social network that isn’t tweeting about One Direction or surfers being ­attacked by sharks, is undeniably skewed to the left. Twitter probably evolved into lefty heaven as a reaction to the right-wing dominance of the printed press, and because of the many arts and comedy bigwigs who imported their existing followings on to the platform. Most progressive commentators and columnists are on there, tweeting away several times a day, while their right-wing equivalents avoid the service altogether, or venture on very occasionally to share a link to their piece.

Then there’s Facebook, a much bigger fish, which ought to be more reflective of the wider population because it’s made of networks of schoolfriends, former colleagues, and parents and children. But news on Facebook travels through “Likes” and shares, and people won’t Like a crackdown on benefits, even if they secretly support it. A lot of what happens on Facebook, as with Twitter, is “virtue signalling” – showing off to your friends about how right on you are.

It was this “Tyranny of the Like” that had many social media users convinced that Ed Miliband could squeak the election; after all, their friends seemed to be lapping up the mansion tax and the action against non-doms. No one seemed enthused about taking £12bn off the benefit bill, or reducing the help given to disabled people.

Yes, social media has allowed people to create echo chambers where they only hear from people who agree with them.

Labour’s attention should turn to the next election and picking a leader who can beat him.

Instead, a large number of constituency parties are nominating Jeremy Corbyn, even though he doesn’t want to be leader, has never held a leadership position in the party and could never find two dozen fellow-travellers to form a shadow cabinet. Clearly, these CLPs don’t think that Corbyn is their best shot at beating Osborne, overturning his unjust policies and enacting Labour ones instead. They are doing it to signal that they are on the side of right and good.

The American writer Matt Bruenig calls this “purity leftism”. As he wrote in 2012, “When purity leftists do actions and organising, their interest is not in reducing oppression as much as it is in reducing their own participation in it. Above all else, they want to be able to say that they are not oppressing, not that oppression has ended.”

Remarkably, it looks like he may win.

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August 4th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Lynn at The Telegraph reports:

Start to look at Mr Corbyn’s proposals in detail, however, and they make Ed Miliband seem like Margaret Thatcher. He inhabits a make-believe world, where money can be conjured out of thin air and every problem can be fixed with more state control.

Such as? Well, for starters Mr Corbyn wants to scrap university tuition fees. How will that be paid for? Apparently through a 7pc rise in National Insurance for anyone earning more than £50,000 a year or a 2pc rise in corporation tax. Among Corbynites, people earning £50,000 are considered the “rich”, or perhaps even the “super-rich”. And, in fairness, it is significantly more than the national average. But by anything other than the standards of the hair-shirt, vegetarian Left, it is a fairly modest wage – few people trying to support a family on £50,000 a year in the South East will feel they can spare 7pc of their income to subsidise students who will later go on to well-paid jobs.

So an extra 7% tax just to pay for one promise!

As for raising corporation tax, a constantly recurring theme of all Mr Corbyn’s economic proposals, it overlooks a couple of inconvenient facts. The first is that globally competitive corporate tax rates have helped to attract a lot of inward investment – pretty helpful for a country that runs one of the world’s biggest trade deficits, and needs lots of foreign money coming in to pay its bills.

The second is that as corporation tax has been lowered, receipts have been booming. In July, for example, corporation tax receipts rose 13pc, far ahead of economic growth, and with a faster rate of growth than any other single tax. If you put the rate up again, the revenues collected will go down – leaving a nasty black hole in the funding of those free university places.

Capital is now mobile. Hike up company tax too much, and the capital will happily move elsewhere.

Then there is his idea of a “People’s QE”. It sounds a bit like The X Factor – perhaps we could get Simon Cowell to chair the MPC live on TV and we could all text in to say how much cash we want the Bank of England to print this month. It turns out, however, that the idea is for the Bank to “be given a new mandate to upgrade our economy to invest in new large-scale housing, energy, transport and digital projects”.

Mark Carney might well feel he has enough to do already, what withcontrolling interest rates, inflation and regulating the City. But, heck, in a few spare hours on a Friday afternoon, he could just print a couple of hundred extra billion, and use the money to start building publicly-owned housing estates.

Never mind the inflation!

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Hypocrisy over Cecil

August 3rd, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Zimbabwe has called for the American dentist who shot Cecil the lion dead on a hunting trip to be extradited to Africa to face poaching charges, which could carry a lengthy prison sentence.

Dr Walter Palmer could also face a five-year jail term in the US and a US$20,000 fine for breaching the Lacey Act, which enforces the legal protection for endangered species.

Zimbabwean environment minister Oppah Muchinguri said Palmer was a “foreign poacher” who had financed an illegal hunt of Cecil, an “iconic attraction” in the country’s famed Hwange National Park.

I’m no fan of hunting, or of Dr Palmer. But this is all getting over the top.

He paid for a legal hunt. He had no knowledge or idea the lion was protected.

Zimbabwe allows lion hunting. They sell licenses for it. They also kill lions themselves – Mugabe had some killed for a feast not too long ago.

Zimbabwe makes $20 million a year from game hunting, which is 3.2% of their tourism revenue. They could ban it, as they for several years did a few years ago. But when it is legal, it seems hypocritical to then try and prosecute Dr Palmer because unknown to him, they killed the wrong lion.

Now again I have no time for hunting of lions, and personally find it appalling. But this is not the crime of the century. I wish more focus went on the thousands of humans being killed in Africa, rather than one lion.

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Bishop finally resigns

August 3rd, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Bronwyn Bishop has resigned as Australia’s Speaker following a string of revelations suggesting systemic abuse of taxpayer funded travel entitlements.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott called a snap media conference on Sunday afternoon to announce the Speaker’s resignation and a major review into MPs entitlements.

“Today Bishop called me to let me know that she would be resigning,” Abbott said.

“This has obviously been a very difficult day for Bronwyn Bishop…I think we should respect the fact that its been a very difficult day for her,” he said.

The moment the details became public of her charging taxpayers $5,000 to fly 80 kms in a helicopter to attend a party fundraiser, she was a goner.


Green dilemma – a GE rice that reduces greenhouse gas emissions!

August 3rd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

This will pose a dilemma for the Greens. Scientists have developed a genetically engineered rice crop that has significantly reduced methane (the most powerful greenhouse gas) emissions over normal rice.

So if the Greens truly believe their rhetoric that greenhouse gas emissions are the biggest threat to Earth today, surely this means they will drop their opposition to genetically engineered crops and welcome this GE rice?

Nature Magazine reports:

Atmospheric methane is the second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide, and is responsible for about 20% of the global warming effect since pre-industrial times1, 2. Rice paddies are the largest anthropogenic methane source and produce 7–17% of atmospheric methane2, 3. Warm waterlogged soil and exuded nutrients from rice roots provide ideal conditions for methanogenesis in paddies with annual methane emissions of 25–100-million tonnes3, 4. This scenario will be exacerbated by an expansion in rice cultivation needed to meet the escalating demand for food in the coming decades4.

Here we show that the addition of a single transcription factor gene, barleySUSIBA2 (refs 7, 8), conferred a shift of carbon flux to SUSIBA2 rice, favouring the allocation of photosynthates to aboveground biomass over allocation to roots. The altered allocation resulted in an increased biomass and starch content in the seeds and stems, and suppressed methanogenesis, possibly through a reduction in root exudates. Three-year field trials in China demonstrated that the cultivation of SUSIBA2 rice was associated with a significant reduction in methane emissions and a decrease in rhizospheric methanogen levels. SUSIBA2 rice offers a sustainable means of providing increased starch content for food production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from rice cultivation. 

This is a great breakthrough. It should be welcomed. Or will green activists attack the fields it is planted it, and destroy it as unnatural?

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Good to see NZ hold firm

August 2nd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Trade Minister Tim Groser says he is disappointed a landmark free-trade pact stumbled after talks broke down in Hawaii.

Negotiations among 12 Pacific nations failed to reach a conclusion.

“Good progress was made this week, but a number of challenging issues remain, including intellectual property and market access for dairy products”, Mr Groser said.

“We will continue to work toward a successful conclusion. This is about getting the best possible deal for New Zealand, not a deal at any cost.”

This is good. It shows the NZ negotiating team is not willing to sign up to an agreement without substantial diary access and an acceptable intellectual property chapter. I’m really pleased that we have not given in.

Stuff reports:

Pacific Rim trade ministers have failed to clinch a deal to free up trade between a dozen nations after a dispute flared between Japan and North America over autos, New Zealand dug in over dairy trade and no agreement was reached on monopoly periods for next-generation drugs. …

The president of the Canadian Dairy Farmers, Wally Smith, blamed New Zealand for the delay in the agreement saying it was not accepting what was on the table.

“New Zealand is being very obstinate … I am really surprised that this late in the end game, a country like New Zealand would not put a little water in its wine,” he said.

Canada has a general election later this year, so I suspect the Canadian Government may not feel able to sign up to any meaningful reform of their soviet style dairy system. And if there is a change of Government, then even less likely. I’d be happy for Canada to drop out, if they are the barrier to a dairy agreement.


Clark a long shot say bookies

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

There’s been numerous articles this week pushing the idea that Helen Clark is a front runner for UN Secretary-General.

It is highly highly likely that the next Secretary-General will come from Eastern Europe, due to the unwritten policy on regional rotation.

While not absolutely reliable, prediction markets have a good accuracy record with political events. And what do two bookmakers say are the current odds for Clark?

  • Bet Breaking News has Clark at a 33/1 which is a 2.9% chance. Of the 19 potential candidates she is in 17th place
  • Sports Bet has Clark at much the same odds and in the same 17/19

So talking about Clark as a front runner is rather silly.

I think the front runner is Dalia Grybauskaitė. She is the current President of Lithuania and prior to that a European Commissioner.

She speaks English, Lithuanian, Russian, French and Polish. She won election as President as an Independent, and was a popular reforming European Commissioner.

Her biggest challenge would be getting past a Russian veto.



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The socialist paradise of Venezuela

July 30th, 2015 at 7:03 am by David Farrar

Venezuela has been a pin up country for many on the left for years because Hugo Chavez was a proud socialist who would stand up to the US.

Anyway reports on how great things are there:

ORIGINALLY designed as an underground subway station, Venezuela’s most notorious and feared prison is essentially a cement box that sits five storeys beneath the headquarters of the country’s intelligence agency in Caracas.

Known as the Tomb, or La Tumba, the secretive prison is filled with political protesters who are completely starved of daylight, face torturous conditions and are denied basic human rights.

Friends and family of those who have been thrown into the Tomb say the prisoners — mostly made up of peaceful protesters — are being left there to die.

There are no windows to the outside world and the complete lack of ventilation means the air is stale with a lingering stench, while the below-freezing temperatures in the subterranean cells can become unbearably cold. With no toilet facilities in their cell, prisoners are often denied the chance to go to the bathroom.

Those under lockdown in the Tomb are under constant surveillance with microphones, cameras and two-way mirrors monitoring everything going on.

The scant reports emanating from the prison reveal that those incarcerated in the Tomb frequently suffer from cases of extreme illness, with symptoms including vomiting, diarrhoea and hallucinations. But little is being done to alleviate their suffering, and activists in the country who draw attention to the plight of political detainees risk suffering a similar fate.

The harrowing conditions of the Tomb represent the alarming increase of human rights abuses which are systematically carried out by a government that is desperate to maintain control.

As the country teeters on the brink of financial chaos, the government is becoming increasingly anxious of political opposition, and their response has been heavy handed.

President Nicolas Maduro’s growing crackdown on political dissidents has become so brutal that his country has developed a reputation among international human rights groups for the arbitrary detainment and torture of its citizens.

As the economic policies fail, they crack down on dissent:

As the country struggles to provide basic goods and services for its people, human rights groups have condemned the direction the government is headed. US Senate testimony given earlier in the year by Santiago A. Canton, executive director of the RFK Partners for Human Rights, heavily criticised the Maduro government’s treatment of Venezuelan citizens.

Very sad.


How Greek pensions bankrupted Greece

July 29th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

There are several factors in the bankruptcy of Greece. Their accounts were fraudulent.  People didn’t pay taxes. Corruption. But bigger than all of that was their pensions.

The Greek pension system shows what happens when you get a culture of entitlement, and a belief that the Government should fully fund your retirement, rather than you.

Here’s some facts about the previous Greek pension system:

  • The average Greek pension equates to 95% of your final salary, compared to an average 40% for Europe
  • Employees could retire and get the pension at age 55 if their occupation was deemed arduous.
  • Hairdressing was deemed an arduous profession
  • Greece has the highest number of 110 year olds in the world, as families would keep claiming pensions of dead relatives

Some other facts about Greece public spending:

  • Greece has four times the numbers of teachers than Finland yet Finland ranks at the top of the education tables with the Greeks are at the bottom.
  • Greek teachers are better paid than Finnish teachers
  • Over 25% of Greeks in employment are government employees
  • The average wage for train workers is €66k
  • The Institute for the conservation of the Kopias Lake employed 1763 people, and the lake that has been drained since 1930
  • Redundant workers have to get paid at least two years salary
  • By 2060 it is projected that 86% of the population will be dependent on the state

So when people blame what has happened in Greece on Germany or the IMF or austerity, well …..

Basically this is a result of extreme left policies of making more and more people dependent on the state, and not enough people to fund it.


Intolerance in Reims

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

Stuff reports:

A young woman was beaten up by a gang of girls as she sunbathed in a park wearing a bikini.

It is thought the five attackers objected to their victim being immodestly dressed in public.

They pulled her hair, punched her and slapped her around the face, leaving her badly bruised.

The incident, which has prompted outcry on social media, took place as the 21-year-old victim, Angelique Slosse, lay in the sun with two friends in a park in the French city of Reims, north of Paris.

As the gang walked by, words were exchanged. At one stage one of the attackers was heard to say: “Go and get dressed.”

Another verbally abused her for “immorally” exposing so much bare flesh in a public place. Miss Slosse replied to their comments and was attacked. She suffered severe bruising and has not been able to go to work since the incident last Wednesday.

The five attackers, aged between 16 and 24, were arrested.

Police said the victim was not able to tell them whether her attackers were motivated by religious views.

Last night the local police superintendent, Julie Galisson, said: “It was a fight between young girls which degenerated after one of the authors of the aggression said, ‘Get dressed, it’s not summer’.”

One of those arrested would not leave Miss Slosse alone and this degenerated into violence, Mrs Galisson said.

She added: “As is clear from the statement of the victim and those implicated, there is no religious or moral element which explains the aggression.”

I’d bet a huge amount of money that the attackers are Muslim, and their aggression was religiously motivated.

The Independent reports:

The authorities have not named them but said that they all came from housing estates with large Muslim populations.

It is incidents like this that cause people to question whether those with strong Islamist beliefs can integrate into non-Muslim countries.

This is not just a case of not integrating, but trying to force your religious values onto other citizens by force.

Religion should be personal to you. Live life as you think your God demands. But the moment you start using force to try and compel others to also live by your religious beliefs – well it is a form of religious fascism.


A mad Cambridge professor

July 28th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

A Cambridge Professor has made the astonishing claim that three scientists investigating the melting of Arctic ice may have been assassinated within the space of a few months.

Professor Peter Wadhams said he feared being labelled a “looney” over his suspicion that the deaths of the scientists were more than just an ‘extraordinary’ coincidence.

But he insisted the trio could have been murdered and hinted that the oil industry or else sinister government forces might be implicated.

The three scientists he identified – Seymour Laxon and Katherine Giles, both climate change scientists at University College London, and Tim Boyd of the Scottish Association for marine Science – all died within the space of a few months in early 2013.

Professor laxon fell down a flight of stairs at a New year’s Eve party at a house in Essex while Dr Giles died when she was in collision with a lorry when cycling to work in London. Dr Boyd is thought to have been struck by lightning while walking in Scotland.

Shit those oil companies are good. Anyone can arrange a push down the stairs or a lorry to strike you, but it takes special genius to arrange a lightning strike.

Prof Wadhams said that in the weeks after Prof Laxon’s death he believed he was targeted by a lorry which tried to force him off the road. He reported the incident to the police.

Asked if he thought hitmen might have been behind the deaths, Prof Wadhams, who is Professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University, told The Telegraph: “Yes. I do believe assassins possibly murdered them but I can see that I would be thought of as a looney for believing this.

A looney? No, not at all.

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