Archive for the ‘International Politics’ Category

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.

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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 news.com.au 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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Corbyn now 17% ahead!

July 24th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

 

The Telegraph reports:

Left-winger Jeremy Corbyn is on track to top the ballot in the Labourleadership contest, according to a poll.

Research by YouGov for The Times has found the backbench MP is the first preference for 43 per cent of party supporters – way ahead of bookies’ favourite Andy Burnham on 26 per cent.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper was on 20 per cent and Liz Kendall just 11 per cent.

The wisdom of having the members elect the leader!

This will replace Michael Foot’s manifesto as the longest suicide note in history.

The problem UK Labour has is that it has lost so many members, that those remaining are hard core activists who are in no way representative of the actual people who vote Labour.

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Shorten backs Coalition turn boats back policy

July 23rd, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

OPPOSITION leader Bill Shorten has confirmed Labor will go into the next election promising to turn back asylum-seeker boats.

Mr Shorten admitted Labor had got it wrong on asylum-seeker policies when it was in government, acknowledging the large number of deaths at sea

He told ABC’s 7.30 program Labor was now determined to put people smugglers “out of business,” agreeing the Coalition’s policy of towing boats back to where they came from worked.

The evidence is indisputable.

Here’s the deaths at sea from asylum seekers by year:

  • 2015 – 0
  • 2014 – 0
  • 2013 – 236
  • 2012 – 420
  • 2011 – 231
  • 2010 – 164
  • 2009 – 132

The zero deaths in 2014 and 2015 are not a coincidence. The turn back the boats policy has almost totally discouraged people smugglers from attempting the crossing. It has not just led to no one dying at sea, but also reduced dramatically the numbers in off shore camps.

The total population in immigration detention centres has fallen from around 13,000 to just over 3,000.

As at 30 June 2015, there were 1,600 in the Nauru and Manus processing centres. A year ago there were 2,358 so almost a reduction by a third.

But Mr Shorten looks headed for one almighty fight with his party’s Left faction, which is opposed the policy and is expected to try to vote it down at Labor’s national conference this weekend.

“It’s not easy though, because it involves the admission, I think, that mistakes were made when Labor was last in government,” he said.

“For myself, if I want to be the leader of this nation, I have got to be able to face the truth, and the truth for me is that we have policies in place which give substance and support to people smugglers to exploit vulnerable people, where they put these vulnerable people on unsafe boats then people drown at sea. I can’t support any policies that do that.”

An excellent call. Why would you reject a policy that has reduced the drowning toll 100% and the numbers in offshore detention facility by a third?

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Strange incentives!

July 23rd, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

USA Today reports:

An anti-gay political party in Kenya has vowed to greet President Obama when he visits later this week with 5,000 “totally naked” male and female protesters.

They aim to express dismay over Obama’s recent support for gay rights and impress upon him the difference between a man and a woman — a difference Obama will no doubt be able to absorb when not shielding his eyes.

And who will these 5,000 people be?

Where will they find 5,000 people willing to let it all hang out in the name of homophobia? According to Republican Liberty Party leader Kidaha Vincent, the party will be supplementing its numbers with volunteer sex workers. He claims the sex workers have agreed to work free of charge because they are afraid they will lose work if homosexuality is legalized.

Heh they’re like the taxi drivers protesting Uber – against cheaper competition.

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Tomi Lahren on radical Islam

July 21st, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

This video is going viral. The host is aged just 22 but has struck a real chord with many.

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Fiscal union for the Eurozone?

July 20th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

French President Francois Hollande has called for the creation of a eurozone government and for citizens to renew their faith in the European project, which has been weakened by the Greek crisis.

Reviving an idea originally put forward by former European Commission chief Jacques Delors, Mr Hollande proposed “a government of the eurozone [with] a specific budget as well as a parliament to ensure its democratic control”.

If you want to keep the monetary union of the Euro, then you need fiscal union also. Greece has shown you can’t have a country in monetary union that doesn’t follow the same basic fiscal policy as the rest of the union.

But I can’t see national governments giving up fiscal policy control.

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Why the Speaker needs to go

July 20th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Australian Speaker that is.

News.com.au reports:

SPEAKER Bronwyn Bishop cost taxpayers $811,857 in expenses last year.

The hefty travel bill for the member for the Northern Beaches electorate of Mackellar does not include two extra charter flights to Young for another fundraiser — just days after her $5227 Geelong helicopter trip — and Nowra for two seniors forums.

A Daily Telegraph analysis of the speaker, who has rapidly lost the confidence of the government front bench, has revealed the enormous expenses the politician costs Australians.

It has also been revealed Mrs Bishop’s trip to Young was just five days after she racked up $5227 for an 80km luxury helicopter trip between Melbourne and Geelong for a party fundraiser.

It can be revealed that in 2014 Mrs Bishop claimed;

●$309,581.99 in overseas trips

●$47,086.14 in domestic trips

●$32,471.12 in limousine travel

●$350,909.63 in office costs

The office costs should not be included, but the total travel costs are staggering – and spending $5,000 to travel 80 kms is indefensible.

As a comparison, The NZ Speaker had just $51,160 in overseas travel costs last year.

His NZ air travel costs were $33,704 and NZ surface travel costs just $8,389. So a total of around $90,000 compared to almost $400,000 by the Australian Speaker.

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UK union reforms

July 19th, 2015 at 1:59 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Britain’s biggest trade unions are considering legal action against reforms to strike ballots and political funding due to be published by the government within days.

Lawyers at GMB and Unite are looking into whether Conservative plans to ban all strikes not backed by 40 per cent of members break European Union laws.

It comes amid fury that the Tories are using their newfound majority to launch a “perfect storm on the Left” to undermine the union movement and lock Labour out of power for a decade.

Labour’s most important source of funding will be challenged within days as the Conservatives unveil plans to reform how trade unions give money to parties.

The Tories are expected to demand that trade union members “opt in” to agreeing money from their membership is directed into political funds.

In NZ I’d have a simple rule – only natural persons may join and vote in political parties.

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Corbyn now leading!

July 17th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

David Cameron must now be seriously thinking of reneging on his vow not to seek a third term. The Telegraph reports:

Jeremy Corbyn, the hard left Labour leadership candidate, is ahead in the race to succeed Ed Miliband by more than 15 points, private polling by his rivals suggests.

Mr Corbyn, who was a last minute entry into the contest, now looks set for victory and has taken a “commanding position” ahead of his rivals Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.

Mr Corbyn, 66, is a veteran socialist who has called for an anti-austerity economic policy and struggled earlier this week to explain during a Channel 4 News appearance why he previously described the Islamist militant organisations Hamas and Hezbollah as ‘friends’.

This guy makes Michael Foot look moderate

His campaign has been boosted by Unite, Britain’s biggest union, which has backed his campaign and has already signed up 50,000 people to take part in the vote.

The latest polling, seen by the New Statesman, puts Mr Corbyn ahead once second preference votes have been taken into account.

On first preferences Mr Burnham is said to be winning with 39 per cent of the vote. Mr Corbyn is second on 33 per cent, Ms Cooper third with 25 per cent and Ms Kendall trailing in a distant fourth with just 4 per cent.

God bless the Unite union.

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The Tsipras disaster

July 16th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Marc Champion of Bloomberg writes:

What has Alexis Tsipras achieved for the Greek people?

Monday morning, after 14 hours of talks among the euro area’s finance ministers and an additional 17 hours among the group’s leaders, the Greek prime minister came away with a much worse deal than the one he just persuaded Greek voters to reject. Now he must sell it to his parliament and people.

It takes a special level of incompetence to reject a deal, urge your country to reject it, get them to reject it, and then sign up to a far worse deal. This is what happens when you elect people who are good at rhetoric, but crap at actually making difficult decisions.

Right now, however, it is Tsipras whom Greeks should blame. Consider where the country was a little more than a year ago, when his political party Syriza burst onto the scene by winning Greek elections to the European Parliament. The party argued that, were it not for the supine approach that the country’s then centre-right government was taking toward its creditors, Greece could end austerity measures, return to prosperity and keep the euro. That was not true, but it was attractive.

The equivalent of you can have your cake and eat it also.

They promised we can continue with high level of spending, not pay back our debts and stay in the Euro. They lied.

Times were still very tough for Greece in 2014. In April of that year, however, the country returned to international bond markets for the first time in four years, selling 3 billion euros worth of five-year securities at an interest rate of 4.95 percent. Unemployment, having hit a high of 27.5 percent in 2013, was falling. By April 2015, the latest available figure, the jobless rate was 25.6 percent.

Economic growth had also returned to positive territory, hitting 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter, a rate substantially higher than the 0.9 percent euro area average, according to Eurostat.

I’m not arguing here that all would have been rosy, were it not for Tsipras and Syriza. The euro area needed then, and still needs, to come to terms with writing off Greek debt. Yet it’s hard to call what has happened in Greece over the past year anything but a self-inflicted act of economic vandalism.

Yep.

Tsipras gambled with his country’s fortunes, betting that the rest of the euro area would be so fearful of creating a precedent for an exit that they would capitulate to his demands and write him a blank check. The strategy reached its apogee with his absurd July 5 referendum, in which he asked Greeks to vote against the latest bailout proposal, while again promising that this would not put Greece’s euro membership at risk. He has now capitulated, apparently aware that he has no mandate to leave the euro. And so his lie is exposed, together with its cost to the Greek people.

Greeks have ample reason to be mad at their euro area partners, but they should hold their own prime minister responsible for destroying their economy in a reckless political experiment. Regrettably, this is not over. As a result of the prime minister’s actions and Europe’s brutal response, Tsipras – – or a successor Greek government — may yet get a mandate to abandon the euro.

It is a lie that will cause immense hardship to many ordinary Greeks. I feel sorry for them.

And sadly things will now probably only get worse.

Iain Martin writes at Capx:

In exchange, for a further bailout and support of Greek banks, Greece will get some debt relief (with debt maturities being extended) once the Parliament has approved the package of tax rises and proposed privatisations.

As security, 50 billion Euros of Greek government assets will be ring fenced, with some sold off and some “reinvested”.

But are there really 50 billion Euros of proper state-owned assets in Greece, in any meaningful sense? And even if there are, who are the buyers for this stuff going to be when it comes to privatisation?

A key point – you need the assets to be there, and you need people wanting to buy them? Would you want to buy a Greek SOE?

Of course, there is almost always someone risk hungry prepared to buy, even in an emergency. That is capitalism. The seller with limited options and a poor record is not in a strong position, however, because anyone buying anything from the Greek government will only take the punt if the risk is minimised, which means them getting it very cheap. Again, that is how markets work. The smart person taking the risk seeks to insulate themselves by getting a fire sale price in the hope that their financial and management skills can unlock value, making them a profit eventually.

You don’t need to be a Marxist to work out where that leads politically in the case of the Greeks, after everything that has happened so far. It probably leads to populist anger in Greece about the country being flogged off cheap in a German-run auction. How popular is that going to be? And how easy will the other reforms be to implement against that backdrop, especially with a government dominated by the hard left, with some of its members out to smash the market system? Not easy, one suspects.

Buyers will be wary that a future Government may renationalise the assets without compensation. Also a risk that Greece may descend to mob rule, and the assets may be made inoperable.

The bottom line is they are unlikely to get the $50 billion they need from any asset sales.

What a disaster this crisis, and the Euro more broadly, has been for the Greek people from the start. There has been poor leadership by Angela Merkel and the Euro elite desperate to save their project, even if it means Greek pensioners weeping outside banks. Meanwhile, hysterical Europhiles have been so dedicated to the rackety EU that they are happy to let Greece “go” (one wonders where they want them to go?) while talking pompously about supposed solidarity. And then the Greeks were driven into the arms of the Marxist Syriza, its rise facilitated by the behaviour of the Euro elite. Now this bunch are together, going to resume a privatisation programme. Good luck. It’ll be a miracle if this deal holds more than a few months.

A year perhaps?

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UK Labour backs welfare reform

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

The  Guardian reports:

Labour will not vote against the government’s welfare bill and should not oppose limiting child tax credits to two children, the party’s interim leader, Harriet Harman, has said, provoking a storm of criticism including from some its leadership candidates.

She said Labour should also not oppose certain conditions in the planned cap on household welfare benefits.

The party simply could not tell the public they were wrong after two general election defeats in a row, she said, adding it had been defeated because it had not been trusted on the economy or benefits.

Will NZ Labour likewise listen to the public? They’re still vowing to repeal the three strikes law.

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The Greece package

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

Stuff reports:

Greece won conditional agreement to receive a possible €86 billion (NZ$141.7 billion) over three years. As part of the deal, euro zone finance ministers will discuss on Monday (Tuesday NZT) how to keep Greece financed during the time it will need to agree a bailout, but none of the options appear easy, officials said.

Athens must meet a tight timetable for enacting unpopular reforms of value added tax, pensions, budget cuts, bankruptcy rules and an EU banking law that could be used to make big depositors take losses.

Wow that Marxist Government really cut a good deal. Six months of lecturing Europe really paid off.

Personally I’m sceptical that the Greek economy can ever exist within the Euro. The corruption, entitlements and non payment of taxes seems too entrenched. I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect they will need a 4th bailout at some stage.

It would have been harsh in the short-term, but they actually need to leave the Euro, and have their own currency. This would be worth little, but would  allow the currency to reflect the economy that stands behind it.

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The Iran deal

July 15th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Iran and six major world powers reached a nuclear deal on Tuesday, capping more than a decade of negotiations with an agreement that could transform the Middle East.

US President Barack Obama hailed a step towards a “more hopeful world” and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said it proved that “constructive engagement works”. But Israel pledged to do what it could to halt what it called an “historic surrender”.

I’m a supporter of the deal. It has teeth in it which allows sanctions to resume quickly if Iran doesn’t abide by it.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told reporters that the deal was about more than just the nuclear issue:

“The big prize here is that, as Iran comes out of the isolation of the last decades and is much more engaged with Western countries, Iranians hopefully begin to travel in larger numbers again, Western companies are able to invest and trade with Iran, there is an opportunity for an opening now.”

The Iranian Government does many bad things, especially its support of some Middle Eastern terror groups. But this gives an opportunity for Iran to rejoin the international community. The opportunity may end up being wasted, but it is worth pursuing.

The deal:

– ENRICHMENT: Iran will reduce the number of uranium-enriching centrifuges it has from almost 20,000 to 6104, and reduce the number of those in use from some 10,000 to about half that. Those limits will be in place for 10 years, then gradually relaxed over the next three. Iran also commits to using only its current models, rather than more advanced centrifuges it had wanted to install. Centrifuges spin uranium to concentrate it into levels that can range from reactor fuel to the fissile core of a nuclear weapon.

– STOCKPILE: Iran has already rid itself of stockpiled uranium that was enriched to one step from weapons-grade material. It is now committed to reducing its remaining stockpile – less-enriched uranium that is harder to use for nuclear arms – from about five tons to 300 kilograms (less than 700 pounds) for 15 years. US officials say that at this level it would take Iran at least a year to enrich enough uranium for a nuclear weapon.

– UNDERGROUND SITE: Iran committed to convert its Fordo enrichment site – dug deep into a mountainside and thought impervious to air attack – into a research center. The site will still house centrifuges but they will make medical isotopes instead of enriching uranium, and there will be less than a tenth as many of them as there originally were.

– TRANSPARENCY: Iran will give more access to its nuclear program to the UN nuclear agency. If that agency identifies a suspicious site, an arbitration panel with a Western majority will decide whether Iran has to give the agency access within 24 days. All sites, including military ones, may be inspected if the agency has solid evidence of undeclared nuclear activity.

– REACTORS AND REPROCESSING: Iran must redesign its nearly built reactor at Arak so it can’t produce plutonium for nuclear weapons.

– SANCTIONS: All US and European Union nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after experts have verified that Iran is hewing to its commitments. If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its obligations, those sanctions are supposed to snap back into place. An arms embargo will stand for five years and restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile programmes for eight. Iran will get some access to currently restricted sensitive technologies.

 

The transparency requirement is the key part to me, with the ability for sanctions to resume.

This is not a perfect deal, but I think it is a lot better than the alternative.

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The hard core socialist is coming 2nd in the UK Labour leadership race

July 14th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

A left-wing Labour MP has surged into second place as the activist’s choice for party leader.

Jeremy Corbyn, who is backed by the unions, is increasingly seen as a major player after pulling into second behind Andy Burnham.

The increasing support for Mr Corbyn will fuel speculation that he will have to be offered a shadow cabinet role by whoever wins.

The latest returns from constituency Labour Party branches show that Mr Corbyn has the support of 28 constituencies, just behind Mr Burnham who has the support of 33.

He is now ahead of Yvette Cooper, the shadow health secretary, while Liz Kendall, the Blairite shadow health minister, has the support of just four branches.

Mr Corbyn, whose priorities include the introduction of a Soviet-style “planned economy”, was only included in the race at he last minute after MPs decided there should be a “broad debate”.

Even a third of the MPs who nominated him made clear that they did not support him, with most assuming that he would finish last.

However his popularity among activists could now prove decisive in the contest to succeed Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader.

Labour MPs said privately that his surprise success was a “disaster” for the party which will “now be stuck with him”.

David Cameron can’t believe his luck.

Mr Corbyn is calling for an end to all cuts, unilateral nuclear disarmament, open door imigration and the formation of a united Ireland.

He is an ardent republican and once petitioned Tony Blair, the former Labour leader, to evict he Royal Family from Buckingham Palace.

Unilateral disarmament, forcing Northern Ireland to leave the UK, and evicting the 90 year old Queen from her house – yes Labour is onto a winner here.

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A great ad

July 14th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

auslib

Leyonhjelm is the Australian Senate’s only classical liberal Senator.

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The Mythical Link Between Income Inequality and Slow Growth

July 13th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Schoenfeld writes at the WSJ:

From 2000-10, many of the 34 OECD countries propped up growth by launching expansive social programs with borrowed money. But not all. The five most “unequal” countries in the OECD report—Israel, the United States, Turkey, Mexico and Chile—largely abstained. They increased sovereign debt by 3% on average compared with a 40% average increase among other OECD members.

When austerity pressures caught up to debt-laden sovereigns in recent years, however, the less leveraged—and not coincidentally, less equal—member countries grew a lot faster than their peers. From 2011-13, according to the World Bank, the five most unequal countries grew nearly five times faster (3.9% cumulative annual average) than the others (0.84%). By using a 2010 cutoff, the OECD has skewed its findings.

Thsi data destroys the argument that an economy grows faster if you tax and redistribute more.

Consider Greece. From 1999-2012, its Gini coefficient “improved” by 6% to .34 from .36—more than any other OECD country. (The Gini coefficient measures income distribution, where 0 represents complete equality and 1 represents a society in which a single person has all the income). Greece’s redistributive social transfer spending also grew most quickly among OECD peers from 2000-12. But Greece’s economy has shrunk by more than 20% since 2010 (World Bank data), and today more than a third of its citizens are considered to be at risk of poverty (Eurostat data).

Equality can mean equality of poverty.

From 1995-2012, OECD member countries that increased government expenditures as a percentage of GDP grew 30% slower than member countries that trimmed government expenditure as a percentage of the economy over that span—average annual growth of 1.9% compared with 2.5%.

This is no surprise.

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Osborne slashes welfare, hikes minimum wage

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

The Guardian reports:

George Osborne sought to outflank Labour and soften the blow from a £12bn cut to Britain’s welfare bill when he made a big rise in the minimum wage the centrepiece of the first Conservative budget in almost two decades.

In a move that went further than Labour was planning at the general election, the chancellor said employers would be forced to pay staff a minimum of £7.20 an hour from next April and raise wages by 6% a year on average to around £9 an hour by the end of the parliament.

Relishing the freedom to deliver his latest budget unfettered by coalition, the chancellor eased up on the pace of deficit reduction and reduced the size of the cuts that Whitehall departments will face in the coming years.

On the assumption that the economy grows steadily at around 2.5% a year, the Treasury is now expecting a £10bn surplus in the final year of the parliament – a sizeable war chest for the 2020 election.

So looks like it will take them five years longer than NZ to make surplus.

Declaring “Britain needs a pay rise” – once the campaign slogan of the TUC – Osborne said he was directly boosting the national minimum wage of 2.7 million workers aged over 25. The increase, accompanied by substantial welfare cuts over three years, was designed to engineer a rebalancing between the individual and the state – a political intervention to shift responsibility for low incomes from the state to employers.

“Let me be clear: Britain deserves a pay rise and Britain is getting a pay rise,” Osborne said, adding that 6 million people would see their pay increase as a result of what he dubbed the creation of a national living wage.

A fair few will lose their jobs also.

Osborne had considered a rise in the minimum wage in 2013 but could not win the support of the Liberal Democrats for the welfare cuts, or a further cut in corporation tax, an essential part of Wednesday’s package designed to ease employers’ resistance to the reforms.

But despite being given the sweetener of a cut in corporation tax from 20% to 18% by 2020, the CBI said the increases would prove “challenging” for its members working in the hospitality and retail sector.

If you’re going to have a big hike in the minimum wage, then a cut in company tax to compensate is sensible.

The big cuts to welfare come from:

  • freezing working age benefits and tax credits for four years as opposed to the two set out ahead of the election.

  • limiting the child element of tax credits to the first two children for new claimants. At present nearly 850,000 tax credit recipients have more than two children.

  • reducing the income thresholds in tax credits from £6,420 to £3,850 and work allowances in Universal Credit

In NZ, we increased benefit levels!

I like the limit of tax credits to the first two children for new claimants. If you want more than two kids,you should be able to fund them yourselves.

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So Greece finally accepts reality

July 10th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

The Greek government capitulated on Thursday to demands from its creditors for severe austerity measures in return for a modest debt write-off, raising hopes that a rescue deal could be signed at an emergency meeting of EU leaders on Sunday.

Athens is understood to have put forward a package of reforms and public spending cuts worth €13bn (£9.3bn) to secure a third bailout from creditors that could raise $50bn and allow it to stay inside the currency union.

A cabinet meeting signed off the reform package after ministers agreed that the dire state of the economy and the debilitating closure of the country’s banks meant it had no option but to agree to almost all the creditors terms.

So the Marxist Government calls a referendum, urges people to vote No, gets a No vote, and then does the exact opposite.

Power over principles.

It will be painful in the short term, but Greece will be better with its own currency that can reflect its actual economic value.

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A UK Labour analysis that could apply to NZ Labour

July 10th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

John Reid, a former Labour Home Secretary writes:

There are those in the party who have argued that Labour simply needs a different leader, but that the politics, plans and policies of the past five years will be enough to get us over the line in 2020 – with a little tweaking, of course.

Others have argued that moving to the left, in response to a Tory government that managed to achieve the difficult feat of gaining an overall majority, is the right response. That the “false consciousness” of modern working people will somehow disappear as the scales fall from their eyes.

Neither of these approaches will work. Neither recognises the sheer scale of the challenge Labour faces. Both have been tried, and tried, and failed and failed.

The NZ Labour caucus should be reading this.

Of course, it can be comforting for party members to wrap themselves up in platitudes, to wax lyrical about our values, to regard the electorate as mistaken. Perhaps we should face reality and accept that it was the party rather than the people who got it wrong. In a democracy, to paraphrase Bertolt Brecht, it is the people who choose their government, not the other way around.

Will you ever see this sentiment on some on the left blogs?

Labour’s only chance of winning in 2020 is to do what we did in 1945, 1964 and 1997 – get back in touch with the electorate, rather than simply telling them they were wrong, and change to meet the challenges of the future.

And that change has never been more crucial than it is today. The challenge Labour faces for 2020 is epic in scale. There are only 24 seats with a Tory majority of less than 3,000. The party must gain 94 seats to win a majority of one.

That’s less of a challenge than NZ Labour has of going from 25% to 40%.

Liz Kendall, by contrast, is the candidate who has best understood the scale of the challenge, and gives Labour the best possible chance of getting back into government. She has shown that deeply held Labour values need not go hand in hand with an antagonistic approach to those who didn’t vote Labour last time. She has shown she understands that only by working with businesses to create good, well-paying jobs can we build a fairer, more prosperous society. And she knows that Labour won’t be trusted by the British people if they don’t trust us to run the economy.

If the next election is on whom do you trust more to manage the economy – Bill English or Grant Robertson, I’m pretty confident of the answer.

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