Archive for the ‘International Politics’ Category

South Africa and the Palestinian Authority defending genocide

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

Eugene Kontorovich at the Washington Post writes:

The President of Sudan was allowed to leave South Africa unmolested today, despite courts in the country ordering his arrest on a genocide warrant. The International Criminal Court, pursuing a case launched by the Security Council, issued warrants for Bashir’s arrest years ago. Yet he has roamed the globe with impunity.

The free pass given to Bashir is another in a series of major blows to the credibility of the ICC – and in this case, the Security Council. If member states like South Africa do not take the Court seriously in cases that do not even involve its own nationals, it is hard to expect non-members to do so.

While refusing treaty obligations to arrest the world’s leading genocidaire – known of course for his campaign against black Africans in Darfur – might seem unconscionable, Bashir has his defenders.

The charges by the ICC are

  • murder
  • extermination
  • forcible transfer
  • torture
  • rape
  • pillaging
  • intentionally directing attacks against civilians
  • genocide

Among them is Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who vocally opposes the ICC process against Bashir. “We must also take a decisive stance of solidarity alongside fraternal Sudan and President Omar al-Bashir,” Abbas has said. He has has also expressed his “solidarity” with the Sudanese despot, and categorically rejected enforcement of the ICC warrant. …

Thus even as the Palestinians got the ICC to bend its rules about statehood to join, they were advocating the defiance of the Court’s writ in the single most important and grave kind of case, genocide cases initiated by the Security Council. In short, the Palestinians seek to exempt genocidaires from the Court’s jurisdiction while pushing for it to prosecute Israelis for allowing Jews to live in Jerusalem. The PA is involved in the trivialization and corruption of the Court from both ends.

It is a good example of the double standards at play. If there is no sanction for countries to ignore ICC warrants, then there seems little point in having an ICC. Countries that refuse to extradite, should be expelled from the convention.

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Asia-Pacific Greens

June 15th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Green parties from as far afield as Iraq and Mongolia have been comparing notes with their New Zealand counterparts at a rare gathering today.

The Asia Pacific Greens Federation congress is being held in New Zealand for the first time, and has brought together Green politicians from 16 countries.

The congress in Upper Hutt was focusing on the impacts of climate change on the Asia Pacific region.

But it was also an opportunity for more established Green parties (Australia, New Zealand) to compare ideas and strategies with fledging Green movements (India, South Korea).

In countries where Green politics was relatively new, some parties had grown quickly.

Green Party Korea co-representative Yujin Lee said her party had registered more than 6000 members since establishing in 2013 – a number equivalent to the New Zealand Greens, which marked its 25th anniversary this year.

But that is out of a population of 50 million. So in the NZ context that is like having 500 members – the same as the Civilian Party or United Future.

Other parties spoke of the difficulty in getting a foothold in the traditional political landscape.

The APGF has 12 full members. They are in Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, NZ, Pakistan, Philippines and Taiwan.

But in reality they are only a significant presence in three countries – Australia, NZ and Mongolia. In all other countries they were not even on the ballot, or were so insignificant they had under 0.5% of the vote.

The Greens globally basically exist only in white European countries. Almost everywhere else they are insignificant.

Korean and Japanese representatives said their governments were expanding nuclear facilities, and defended this move by saying that the nuclear plants created fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

But the Green parties opposed nuclear power, so they had to fight for action on two fronts.

If you want less greenhouse gas emissions, then nuclear power is a very good option.

Foreign affairs spokesman Kennedy Graham said it showed that not only were Asia-Pacific countries increasingly responsible for the global share of carbon emissions

Here’s the share by country in Asia-Pacific:

  1. China 22.7%
  2. India 5.7%
  3. Russia 5.4%
  4. Japan 2.9%
  5. Indonesia 1.9%
  6. Iran 1.6%
  7. South Korea 1.6%
  8. Australia 1.3%
  9. Saudi Arabia 1.2%
  10. Turkey 0.9%
  11. Thailand 0.8%
  12. Kazakhstan 0.7%
  13. Malaysia 0.7%
  14. Pakistan 0.7%
  15. Taiwan 0.7%
  16. Vietnam 0.6%
  17. Iraq 0.5%
  18. Uzbekistan 0.5%
  19. Kuwait 0.4%
  20. Burma 0.4%
  21. Bangladesh 0.3%
  22. Philippines 0.3%
  23. North Korea 0.2%
  24. NZ 0.2%
  25. Singapore 0.2%
  26. etc etc

If you can get an agreement between China, US, EU, India and Russia that is over 60% of global emissions. NZ and the rest of the world I am sure would agree to reductions in line with the Big 5, if those five can agree.

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UK wants to legislate for surpluses

June 15th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

George Osborne is to announce a return to the public finances of the Victorian age, with plans for permanent budget surpluses designed to cut the national debt and to make life uncomfortable for the Labour party.

The chancellor will use his annual Mansion House speech on Wednesday to exploit the political advantage of the Conservative victory in the general election with a “new settlement” that would allow the government to borrow only in exceptional circumstances.

Labour, still shaken by the scale of its defeat last month, will be forced to decide whether it wants to back the proposal that tax revenues should cover spending on both infrastructure and the day-to-day running of government when parliament votes on Osborne’s tougher approach to the public finances later this year.

We should do the same here.

Osborne will say that he wants “a settlement where it is accepted across the political spectrum that without sound public finances, there is no economic security for working people; that the people who suffer when governments run unsustainable deficits are not the richest but the poorest; and that therefore, in normal times, governments of the left as well as the right should run a budget surplus to bear down on debt and prepare for an uncertain future.”

Hear hear.

Osborne will drive home his desire to bring back the days of sound finance by announcing he will convene the first meeting in more than 150 years of the committee of the commissioners for the reduction of the national debt.

Set up by William Pitt the Younger to help repair the damage to the public finances caused by the Napoleonic wars, the body last met in 1860 when William Gladstone was chancellor. Commissioners include the chancellor, the governor of the Bank of England, the speaker of the House of Commons, and the lord chief justice.

Perhaps they should have meet prior to 2015!

 

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Saudi Arabia hosting religious freedom conference

June 13th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

UN Watch reports:

Despite its reputation as one the world’s worst violators of religious freedom, Saudi Arabia is now hosting in Jeddah a UN human rights conference on combating intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief, attended by the president of the UN Human Rights Council and other top international representatives. 

That’s a rather sick joke. I presume the intent of the conference is not to defend religious freedom, but to lobby to make it an offence to be critical of religions, especially Islam.

Here are the facts on religious freedom in Saudia Arabia:

  • non-Muslims are not allowed to hold Saudi citizenship
  • conversion from Islam to another religion is apostasy and punishable by death
  • If born to a Muslim father, you are deemed Muslim and hence face the death penalty if you choose not to be
  • It is illegal to publicly practice any non-Muslim religion
  • Sharia law applies to all residents, regardless of religion
  • The spreading of Muslim teachings not in conformity with the officially accepted interpretation of Islam is prohibited and people have been jailed for doing so
  • Non-Muslims are banned from Mecca
  • Non-Muslim clergy may not enter the country for the purpose of conducting religious services
  • Proselytizing by non-Muslims is illegal
  • Islamic religious education is mandatory in public schools at all levels
  • There are no Shi’ite army officers, ministers, governors, mayors and ambassadors in this kingdom despite being 15% of the population
  • Up until 2004 Jews were banned from entering Saudi Arabia

For such a country to host a UN conference on religious freedom is sickening.

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Estonia’s e-government

June 11th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Estonia shows what you can do reports The Register:

In the Autumn of 2014 my wife was posted to Tallinn, Estonia’s capital, for six months. One of the delights of being a technology analyst is you can you work anywhere there is good internet access. Estonia has excellent internet coverage plus 4G available throughout the country (even in rural areas – a matter or government policy). In addition, ‘being ‘local’ means you can explore the digital business scene.

So, armed with my identification documents, I went to a designated e-Resident office, having previously made an appointment online (of course). Although I brought passport-sized photos I was directed to a standard-seeming photo-booth which took my picture. Then I met a courteous Estonian officer who swiftly took my details and bio-identifiers while also linking to my electronic pictures from the photo-booth. I was told I would receive an email in two weeks if my application was not refused.

Thirteen days later the promised email arrived. I returned to the same office to sign for a package that included my e-Resident card and a neat, and super-small USB e-Resident card reader. Nothing in the process could have been simpler or more easily delivered (and from 1 April 2015 it has been possible to achieve the same at selected Estonian embassies.)

With an e-Resident card you can set up a business remotely operating from Estonia. As an e-Resident you can do everything legally required for a business by electronic means from afar, including setting up a company, signing contracts, opening bank accounts, making and receiving payments and paying all taxes.

I like the concept of e-residents.

Today’s Estonian citizen can (though he or she does not have to):

  • Identify themselves, via e-ID, an electronic identity system

  • Vote (iVote, available since 2007)

  • Complete tax returns (and make payments or receive refunds)

  • Obtain and fulfil prescriptions (eHealth)

  • Participate in census completion

  • Review accumulated pension contributions and values

  • Perform banking, including making and receiving payments

  • Pay and interact with utilities (like water, gas and electricity)

  • Interact with the education system (e-Education)

  • Set up businesses

  • Sign contracts

  • And more.

We’re not too far off. We can do most tax stuff online, and the census is online. Banks and utilities are all online. Education is getting there.

For example, digitising the police now enables a police officer in a patrol car to verify a car’s legality and insurance by querying the car registration system. If this shows the owner is a driver who has been convicted of a drink-driving offence within the past two years the police officer can stop and breathalyse that driver. Convicted drunk-drivers know this; unsurprisingly repeat drink-driving re-offences have fallen.

A good way to target.

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Couple to divorce to protest gay marriage!

June 11th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

A CANBERRA couple has announced their intention to divorce if gay people are allowed to get married too.

Nick Jensen, who posed with his wife Sarah on the cover of the latest issue ofCanberra CityNews, writes of the Christian couple’s decision to end their marriage under the headline, “Gay law change may force us to divorce”.

“My wife and I just celebrated our 10-year anniversary. But later this year, we may be getting a divorce,” he writes.

“The decision to divorce is not one we’ve taken lightly. And certainly, it’s not one that many will readily understand. And that’s because it’s not a traditional divorce.”

Mr Jensen goes on to explain the divorce plan, where the pair will continue to live together, have more kids, and refer to each other as husband and wife, but will legally end their marriage because they believe “marriage is not a human invention”.

“Our view is that marriage is a fundamental order of creation. Part of God’s human history. Marriage is the union of a man and a woman before a community in the sight of God. And marriage of any couple is important to God regardless of whether that couple recognises God’s involvement or authority in it,” he writes.

It’s fine to view marriage as purely a religious ceremony, but if that is your view then shouldn’t he have got divorced when atheists were allowed to marry?

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NZ Labour to the left of other Labour parties

June 11th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A lot of NZ Labour’s problems come from its ideological hatred of the private sector, and their kneejerk opposition to anything involving the private sector – regardless of the impact a programme may have in helping the most disadvantaged.

They’re against privately managed prisons, even if they do a better job of rehabilitating prisoners.

They’re against charter schools even if they do a better job of helping the most disadvantaged students gain qualifications

And we’re seen it again with their kneejerk opposition to social impact bonds. Labour seem to have no fresh ideas of their own, just a long list of things they oppose.

Now take social impact bonds. Are they some sort of right wing master plot to privateer and make money out of social services? No doubt they were pioneered by Market Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

Well here are the parties that have been implemented social impact bonds overseas:

  • UK Labour in 2010
  • NSW Labour in 2011
  • US Democrats in 2012
  • Massachusetts in 2012
  • NY State Democrats in 2013

You can have a valid view on the benefits and risks of social impact bonds. But the reality is that these are initiatives pioneered by centre-left Governments that rightly are focused on what works, rather than whether or not it involves the private sector. But NZ Labour seem unable to get past its ideological opposition to the private sector, so they remain stranded as a party that stands for little, but opposes a lot.

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A good result in Turkey

June 8th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has suffered his biggest setback in 13 years of amassing power as voters denied his ruling party a parliamentary majority for the first time since 2002 and gave the country’s large Kurdish minority its biggest voice ever in national politics.

The election result on Sunday, with almost all votes counted, appeared to wreck Erdoğan’s ambition of rewriting the constitution to establish himself as an all-powerful executive president. Erdoğan’s governing Justice and Development party, or AKP, won the election comfortably for the fourth time in a row, with around 41% of the vote, but that represented a steep fall in support from 49% in 2011, throwing the government of the country into great uncertainty.

This is a good outcome. This will mean Erdoğan won’t get executive presidential powers.

The overall votes are:

  • AKP 41% (-9%) – 258 seats (-53)
  • CHP 25% (-1%) – 132 seats (+7)
  • MHP 16% (+3%) – 81 seats (+29)
  • HDP 13% (+7%) – 79 seats (+50)

The AKP is a semi-Islamist party, with conservative and authoritarian tendencies. Quite good on economic management, but less good on other issues. NZ equivalent might be Conservatives.

The CHP is a social democratic party. NZ equivalent might be Labour.

The MHP is a nationalistic party. NZ equivalent might be NZ First.

HDP is a left wing pro-Kurdish anti-capitalism environmentalist party. NZ equivalent might be the Greens.

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Will NZ Labour repeat UK Labour’s mistakes?

June 7th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A fascinating article in The Guardian which details what went wrong with UK Labour’s campaign, based on interviews with many insiders.

An extract:

The team that Miliband had assembled around him consisted of highly intelligent individuals, but the whole was less than the sum of its parts – it was, according to many of those advisers, like a court in which opposing voices cancelled one another out. Greg Beales, the campaign’s director of strategy – and the keeper of the party’s polling – was convinced that, above all, the party needed to address the distrust of Labour’s legacy on the economy and immigration. He insisted that they should confront these issues directly, or else the specific “retail” offers to the electorate that tested well in focus groups, such as the energy price freeze, would fall on deaf ears. By contrast, the more cerebral Stewart Wood, a former politics tutor at Magdalen College Oxford, pressed Miliband to make an ideological break with New Labour, and concentrate the campaign on a promise to make society more equal, through reforms to banking, markets, and post-crash capitalism.

Here we have NZ Labour focusing almost exclusively on “equality” and not confronting the elephant in the room that people don’t think Andrew Little and Grant Robertson can manage the economy as credibly as John Key and Bill English.

Axelrod was appalled by the low quality of the ideas being discussed, which he derisively characterised as “Vote Labour and win a microwave”

We may see that become policy here!

Miliband had first ruled out a coalition with the SNP on 16 March, but it was not until 26 April that he also ruled out a confidence and supply agreement between the two parties. Even then, the question refused to go away. Shadow ministers were being asked whether there would be implicit understandings between the two parties, or whether they would even speak to SNP MPs in the corridors of Westminster. The party’s focus groups also showed that voters did not believe Miliband’s denials, since they did not think he would ever spurn the chance to be prime minister.

Same here as Cunliffe ruled out coalition with Internet-Mana, and then confidence and supply but people didn’t believe him because he never ruled them out entirely, as in he would not form a Government if dependent on them for a majority.

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Australia slips behind NZ for competitiveness

June 6th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The AFR reports:

Australia’s global competitiveness has slumped to the worst ranking in at least 18 years, slipping behind New Zealand, as business criticised the Abbott government’s failure to kick-start a fresh wave of infrastructure spending.

In a damning report done for the Switzerland-based IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook, the nation’s ranking slipped to 18 from 17 a year ago. The deterioration continues a six-year slide that started in 2009, when Australia was ranked five.

For the first time in 18 years, New Zealand has jumped ahead of Australia, moving to 17 from 20, the IMD report shows.

17th isn’t bad, but not high enough. However the good thing is we are improving, while sadly Australia is not. You see what six years of Labor did to their competitiveness.

The findings are a major blow for Tony Abbott, who vowed upon being elected in 2013 to become the “infrastructure prime minister”. They also highlight ongoing dismay within the business community at the lack of movement on major new projects.

With the government using this month’s budget to borrow more to pay for a short-term boost through the $20,000 instant asset writeoff for small business, concerns continue to grow at the lack of longer-term economic investment to replace the resources boom.

“For Christ’s sake, something has to happen – the economy is not ticking over, interest rates and budget deficits are not at they level they are because things are doing well,” said CEDA chief executive Stephen Martin.

The Abbott Government seems to also lack direction and a clear plan.

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EU wants a minimum tax rate!

June 5th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

It also emerged that they are also pushing plans to introduce a minimum corporation tax rate across the continent in a move that could result in higher taxes on British companies. …

On Wednesday, EU officials will discuss how to tackle tax avoidance and create a system of “fair, transparent and growth friendly” corporation taxation at an orientation debate in the College of Commissioners, a forum used to float ideas, ahead of an announcement in June.

The discussion will include plans to create a basic rate of corporation tax across Europe, reported Handelsblatt, the German business newspaper. The

“Germany and France and demanding a minimum threshold value; we are reacting to that,” one commission source told the newspaper.

A commission spokesman denied the reports. At 20 per cent, Britain has the lowest corporation tax rate in the G7, and among the lowest in western Europe.

How about a maximum tax rate instead of say 25%!

If the EU tries to bring in a minimum corporate tax rate, it would be very good for non EU members!

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Racial tolerance by country

June 5th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

ractoldpf

Hat Tip: Jim Rose

So NZ, Australia, North America and parts of Latin America the most racially tolerant. Asia and parts of Africa the least. ractol

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Union insists Labour opposes all spending cuts

June 3rd, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Britain’s biggest trade union is threatening to withhold support for Andy Burnham’s Labour leadership bid unless he promises to oppose all spending cuts.

Senior figures in Unite are angered by the shadow health secretary’s failure to adopt an “anti-austerity” economic policy since announcing his bid.

They plan to approach Len McCluskey, Unite’s general secretary, to consider formally backing no candidate unless there is a clearer Left-wing option on the ticket.

The Telegraph has been told that if Mr Burnham wants to win the endorsement of his most influential potential backer he must change his economic policy.

Unions dictating economic policy to leadership candidates! That’s a winning combination.

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The hatred of diverse views

June 3rd, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

CBC reports:

A same-sex couple from St. John’s is upset after discovering the jewelry store that sold them their engagement rings has posted a sign that seems to oppose same-sex marriage — but one of the store’s owners says he’s allowed to post his religious beliefs.

Personally I think it is silly for a business to limit its business by stating their political views on who should be able to marry. But that’s their decision to make.

The couple went to the store the following day, and asked about the sign.

“They just said that that’s their beliefs, and they think they can put up whatever they want. I just said it was very disrespectful, it’s very unprofessional and I wanted a refund,” White said.

“I have no issues with them believing in what they believe in. I think everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. But I don’t think they should put their personal beliefs inside their business.”

But that’s their choice – it is their business.

Jardon said he’s an immigrant, and feels blessed to live in Canada.

“One of the reasons my family chose to come to Canada was the freedom of rights,” he said, noting the freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

“Nothing in that shop or in these posters is against the law… There’s nothing there that means to discriminate or to hate anybody else.”

Jardon said he won’t apologize for his beliefs.

“I feel really bad that [White] feels that we would in any way try to hurt or discriminate against her, but we will not retract from what we believe. I cannot say, ‘Well because you feel bad, I will stop believing what I believe,'” he said.

“When I walk on Church Street in Toronto, where I am right now, and I see [LGBT rainbow flags], and I see a lot of signs and a lot of things on public property, I don’t have a problem with them. I accept it. I chose to come to Canada… and we accept the whole package… I don’t discriminate against that, nor do I come and tell them to take them down. For the same reason, I ask to have the same respect in return, especially when it’s in my own business.”

Sounds reasonable.

Jardon said he’s getting a big backlash from social media.

“I had to shut down the Facebook page because of so many hate emails and phone calls and just, really nasty stuff,” he said.

Some people are threatened by diverse opinions.

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Cooks Independence

June 2nd, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Cook Islands is pushing for independence from New Zealand – but the price for its people is that their children will lose their New Zealand citizenship.

Can’t have both.

It is understood the Cooks see a vote at the UN as an important bargaining chip that could give them greater influence and leverage to secure more aid and economic development cash. Puna is keen for what officials are calling “the money and the bag” option – full independence while retaining NZ citizenship – but that is unlikely to be granted. 

The impolite way of interpreting this is that if they get a vote at the UN, they can sell that vote for lots of money. The UN and FIFA have a bit in common at times!

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The leaky Australian Cabinet

June 2nd, 2015 at 6:58 am by David Farrar

Peter Hartcher has what appears to be a detailed briefing of an Australian Cabinet meeting:

As a member of the Abbott cabinet, Malcolm Turnbull is obliged to keep any criticisms of the government’s performance to himself. Unless, of course, it’s in the confidentiality of the cabinet room itself.

“This is an extraordinary proposition,” the Communications Minister said to the cabinet meeting on Monday night, according to people present in the room. 

The Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, was proposing that he should have the power, at his own discretion, to strip an Australian of his or her citizenship. Even if it’s the only citizenship they have.   It was not for any random reason, however, but specifically for use on people suspected of terrorism-related offences.

Dutton enjoyed the vocal support of the Prime Minister. The meeting had no  trouble accepting a related proposal, the idea that a dual citizen could be readily stripped of Australian citizenship. But someone with no other citizenship?

Turnbull objected: “A person’s citizenship is of enormous importance, intrinsic to themselves. Take me. The only people who’ve lived in Australia longer than my family are Aboriginal. I have no other identity. Are we seriously saying some minister could take my citizenship?”

Only if you’re a terrorist, was the rejoinder. “Only if you are someone the minister thinks is a terrorist,” Turnbull corrected. 

This was Barnaby Joyce’s central objection too – the lack of hard proof, the lack of a trial, the absence of a jury, the lack of real rigour in a decision to take away a basic human right. “Isn’t that what we have courts for?” Joyce posed.  The deputy leader of the National Party went to the heart of the matter: “If you don’t have enough evidence to charge them in a court, how can you have enough evidence to take away their citizenship?”

According to participants, Dutton replied: “That’s the point, Barnaby. You don’t need too much evidence. It’s an administrative decision.”

This was too much for George Brandis: “I am the Attorney-General. It is my job to stand for the rule of law.”

Christopher Pyne was forceful on this point too: “This is a matter for the judiciary to decide, not the minister.” …

Julie Bishop pointed out a central reason that the idea was unworkable. If Australia were to strip one of its people of citizenship on suspicion of terrorism, would Britain, for example, really go ahead and give them British citizenship?

By the time the forceful objections of these five ministers had been reinforced by another –  Defence Minister Kevin Andrews warned that if the idea was controversial in the cabinet it would be much more so in the community – it was apparent that the idea was moribund.

From time to time you get reports of discussions or disagreements in Cabinet. But it is very rare to see a story such as the above, in which one or more Ministers have basically described in detail the discussions to a journalist. That makes for a very good story, but a rather troubled Government.

Contrast that to New Zealand. The decision to increase benefits by $25 a week would have been known by Cabinet for six weeks or so. Also by many political staffers (and Treasury and DPMC officials). Possibly even caucus knew of it. But not one single hint of it was leaked before the Budget.

I suspect there will be attention in Australia about whom in Cabinet is describing Cabinet discussions in detail to the media.

 

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Another university against free speech and ideas

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

Breitbart reports:

The University of Western Australia has caved in to green activists and cancelled a planned $4 million Consensus Centre because of its associations with Skeptical Environmentalist author Bjorn Lomborg.
Blond, gay, impeccably left wing and a former member of Greenpeace, Lomborg has long infuriated environmentalists because his personal politics make it so hard for them to trot out their usual excuse that he only says the things he does because he is an evil, right-wing shill in the pay of Big Oil.

Even more frustratingly for his greenie opponents, Lomborg is not even technically a climate change sceptic. He has long accepted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) so-called “consensus” position on global warming. Where he differs from hard-core greenies is simply in his belief that the world has more pressing environmental and social problems than are caused by the marginal influence of man-made CO2 and that these should be given higher priority than combating climate change.

This is the argument of his not-for-profit think tank, the US-based Copenhagen Consensus Center. One of its main purposes is to help argue how governments around the world can get the biggest bang for their buck on environmental spending – providing micronutrients for the world’s malnourished; giving everyone access to clean water; and so on – recognising that the amount of money available for worthy causes is not limitless and that therefore such projects should be subject to a rigorous cost benefit analysis.

Lomborg’s pro-growth approach to green issues is what drew him to the attention of Australia’s conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott who invited him to set up a branch of his Consensus Center in Australia, with the help of a $4 million Federal government grant.

However, when word got out at the University of Western Australia (UWA), a “rowdy gathering of academics and students” in an atmosphere described by one witness as “like a Rolling Stones concert” campaigned to veto the project.

Unable to brand Lomborg a “climate change denier” – which he isn’t: he believes, or affects believe, what all the greenies do on climate change – they instead simply ‘argued’ that his “controversial track record as a climate contrarian” was more than enough reason to protect UWA’s precious students from any kind of proximity to or association with the ideas of this dangerously open-minded man.

The University of Western Australia’s Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson, citing what he called a “strong and passionate emotional reaction”, said that the proposed Consensus Centre lacked “the support needed across the university and the broader academic community to meet its contractual obligations and deliver value for money for Australian taxpayers.” With this excuse he cancelled the project.

Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne, who had supported the project, tweeted: “What a sad day for academic freedom when staff at a university silence a dissenting voice rather than test their ideas in debate.”

A very sad day. Lomborg has never said that climate change is not real and primarily caused by human activity. He has simply argued that there may be other environmental areas which are more important to spend money on first.

It is reactions like this from the academics, which increase resistant to taking action. People don’t like being told you can’t debate things.

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What happens when the UK boundaries change

May 30th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The current UK boundaries are not fair, with some electorates being much larger than others in terms of population. The electors per seat are:

  • Wales 57,057
  • Northern Ireland 68,704
  • Scotland 68,403
  • England 72,814

The Conservatives have a bill to get rid of what is effectively a gerrymander and also reduce the House of Commons from 650 to 600 MPs.

Electoral Calculus has projected what the 2015 results would have been without the gerrymander, and with only 600 seats. It would be:

  • Conservatives 325 (-6)
  • Labour 202 (-26)
  • Lib Dems 5 (-3)
  • SNP 49 (-7)
  • Plaid Cymru 3
  • Northern Ireland 16 (-2)
  • Conservative Majority 50 (+38)

This is quite significant. It will significantly help their re-election chances in 2020, if they get rid of the unequal seat sizes.  They go from a majority of 12 to a paper majority of 50.

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Fossil fuel subsidies

May 29th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Fossil fuel companies are benefiting from global subsidies of $5.3tn (£3.4tn) a year, equivalent to $10m a minute every day, according to a startling new estimate by the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF calls the revelation “shocking” and says the figure is an “extremely robust” estimate of the true cost of fossil fuels. The $5.3tn subsidy estimated for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments.

The vast sum is largely due to polluters not paying the costs imposed on governments by the burning of coal, oil and gas. These include the harm caused to local populations by air pollution as well as to people across the globe affected by the floods, droughts and storms being driven by climate change.

I’m against any form of energy being subsidised. Fossil fuels should not be subsidisied, and neither should (for example) solar power.

However there is a difference between a subsidy and whether a tax should be placed on an activity to cover the public costs imposed by that activity. There is a case for such externality taxes (such as have on tobacco and alcohol) but again it is not the same as a direct subsidy.

The costs resulting from the climate change driven by fossil fuel emissions account for subsidies of $1.27tn a year, about a quarter, of the IMF’s total. The IMF calculated this cost using an official US government estimate of $42 a tonne of CO2 (in 2015 dollars), a price “very likely to underestimate” the true cost, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The direct subsidising of fuel for consumers, by government discounts on diesel and other fuels, account for just 6% of the IMF’s total. Other local factors, such as reduced sales taxes on fossil fuels and the cost of traffic congestion and accidents, make up the rest. The IMF says traffic costs are included because increased fuel prices would be the most direct way to reduce them.

So the actual subsidies are 6% of the total, and the other 94% is not covering estimated external costs.

And which countries have the biggest subsidies?

  1. China US$2,300 billion
  2. US $700 billion
  3. Russia $335 billion
  4. EU $330 billion
  5. India $277 billion
  6. Japan $157 billion

 

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Torture and executions of Palestinians by Hamas

May 28th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Amnesty International said in a report on Wednesday that Islamist Hamas committed war crimes against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip during last year’s war with Israel.

A ceasefire last August ended 50 days of fighting between Gaza militants and Israel in which health officials said more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed. Israel put the number of its dead at 67 soldiers and six civilians.

“Hamas forces carried out a brutal campaign of abductions, torture and unlawful killings against Palestinians accused of ‘collaborating’ with Israel and others during Israel’s military offensive against Gaza,” the human rights group’s report said.

The report is here. Some extracts:

They subjected at least 23 people to summary, extrajudicial executions. Six of these men, at least one of whom was arrested during the conflict on suspicion of “collaboration” but never formally charged, were extrajudicially executed in public on 22 August 2014.

No charges, no trial. Just an accusation and death. And this is of their own citizens.

In every case Amnesty International has documented, it has uncovered evidence of Hamas forces using torture during interrogation with the apparent aim of extracting a “confession” from the detainee. Testimonies indicate that victims of torture were beaten with truncheons, gun butts, hoses, wire, and fists; some were also burnt with fire, hot metal or acid. 

Again this is how they treat their own citizens.

Good on Amnesty for highlighting these cases.

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The FIFA arrests

May 28th, 2015 at 6:37 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The United States is seeking to extradite corporate executives and officials of Fifa, the international association responsible for governing football  and the World Cup, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Wednesday (Thursday NZT).

Swiss authorities arrested six defendants in a dawn raid at a swanky hotel in Zurich on Wednesday on charges stemming from taking bribes, including from countries bidding to host the World Cup.

Those arrested have been taken into custody, a law enforcement official said. If they fight the extradition order, the case could drag on for years, the official said.

Swiss authorities said that six of seven individuals arrested on corruption charges will contest their extradition to the United States, but that one person agreed to be extradited.

In a brief statement which didn’t disclose names, Switzerland’s Federal Office of Justice said US officials now have up to 40 days to submit formal and detailed extradition requests to Swiss authorities.

“Extradition proceedings will be resumed as soon as these requests have been received,” the justice office said in a statement on Wednesday.

It’s been an open secret that FIFA is basically corrupt, and that there must have been bribes for Qatar to win the World Cup hosting for 2022. Very impressed that finally someone has done something about it, and that charges have been laid. That is the way to stop it in future.

European football’s  governing body UEFA has called for Friday’s Fifa presidential election, where current president Sepp Blatter will seek a fifth term against Prince Ali bin Al Hussein to be postponed, secretary general Gianni Infantino told reporters.

“We strongly believe the Fifa Congress should be postponed with new Fifa presidential elections to be organised within the next six months,” he told reporters at the Sheraton Hotel.

Blatter may not have been charged himself, bit it happened on his watch.

US officials gave details of a case in which they said they exposed complex money laundering schemes, found millions of dollars in untaxed incomes and tens of millions in offshore accounts held by Fifa officials.

Can’t wait for the trials.

On radio a week or so ago I compared FIFA to the mafia, and reflected afterwards that I may have been too harsh. But as we learn about the offshore bank accounts, I think not.

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Westminster now most gay Parliament in the world

May 27th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Now Britain finds itself with the queerest legislature in the world: 32 of the United Kingdom’s 650 MPs calling themselves gay, lesbian or bisexual. At 4.9%, this pretty closely reflects what researchers believe to be the sexuality of the population as a whole: an impressive achievement, still to be matched in matters of gender or ethnicity.

The good thing about the representation now being approximately proportional, is that it shouldn’t be such a big thing in future. Having a representative Parliament shouldn’t be a big thing.

So who are the LGB MPs (the T, for transgender, is still missing, none of the four candidates who stood this election won their seat)? Twelve are Conservative, 13 Labour, the rest Scottish Nationalists.

So 3.6% of Conservative MPs are gay, 5.6% of Labour MPs and 12.5% of SNP MPs. Looks like the SNP needs a quota for heterosexual MPs!

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The al-Qaeda application form

May 25th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Here’s a translation of the al-Qaeda application form. This is not a hoax – it was recovered from bin Laden’s office. What hilarious is it is so corporate. Here’s some of the questions:

  • Any hobbies or pastimes?
  • What is your favorite material: science or literature?
  • Do you know any workers or experts in chemistry, communications, or any other field?
  • Have you been ever convicted by any court? When, and who convicted you? What was the offense?
  • List the types of passports you possess. Did you use a real or forged passport for your current travel?
  • Do you wish to execute a suicide operation?
  • What objectives would you would like to accomplish on your jihad path?
  • Who should we contact in case you became a martyr?

I wonder if the next step is a Myers-Brigg type test!

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CIS says Australia has given up

May 25th, 2015 at 12:15 pm by David Farrar

The Centre for Independent Studies looks at the Australian Budget and isn’t impressed:

In Budget 2015, the government has waved the white flag on attempts to reduce the size of the state. It has given in to the vested interests calling for your tax dollars.

The budget is littered with references to the fairness of paying more tax, and hands out government largesse to the middle class. It is little wonder that government spending is at almost record high levels. Excluding the 2009-10 budget at the height of the GFC, government spending as a percentage of GDP is at its highest level since the recession in the early nineties. Net debt will exceed $300 billion inside two years and gross debt will now peak at nearly $600 billion — and that’s if we are lucky.

The government’s so-called credible path to surplus is built on artificial assumptions of a return of economic good times and rising tax revenue through bracket creep. Spending remains far above the level of the Howard government. It is even above the level of the Gillard / Rudd governments. It is disappointing that those in charge no longer believe in the benefits of small government.

In NZ spending as a % of GDP is dropping. It peaked around 35% and is now around 30%. I think 25% would be a good level to end up at.

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Messina on why Labour lost

May 25th, 2015 at 8:30 am by David Farrar

Jim Messina was Obama’s 2012 campaign manager and also a campaign adviser to David Cameron. He writes on why Labour lost:

Was it Messina’s data-focused approach that won the day, or was it down to the personality of David Cameron vs. Ed Miliband? ‘All elections are always about the candidates and we had the better leader,’ he says. ‘We had a leader with a clear agenda who had taken very difficult steps and the economy was benefiting from that.’

But Messina does not have many positive things to say about Labour’s messaging either. ‘To this day I can’t tell you what Labour’s message was other than I guess we don’t like the Tories. But until the famous Ed Rock or Ed Stone, you sort of had no idea what they were running on and when you are trying to do that five days before, you’re in deep, deep trouble.’

The research conducted by Crosby backed up his polling on the Tories’ message of economic stability. ‘CTF were saying it and then people on the doors were hearing it is that people believed that Cameron had taken tough steps, things were starting to get better and that Miliband wasn’t offering anything new and that combination made it very, very difficult for them to win.’

NZ Labour’s message seems also to be mainly we don’t like National, and no new policies.

Could he seem himself returning to Conservative HQ in future? ‘I would love to, I really believe in Prime Minister Cameron and I adore his team, I think Andrew Feldman and Lynton, those guys are all some of the better people I have worked with so it would be an honour to work with them again.’

What about working for say Boris Johnson, if he is leading the Tories in 2020? ‘Well we’re only three days after the last one! I think I’m going to go to sleep for a couple of weeks.’

Interesting that a Democrat would work the Conservatives. I understand it was mainly because of his admiration for David Cameron.

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