Archive for the ‘International Politics’ Category

Redefining right of centre

July 14th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Jenny Noyes writes:

Here’s a thought worth clutching to in these trying times: By the time 2016 draws to a close, providing the voters of the United States don’t majorly screw it up for us all, the powerhouses of the western world will be dominated by female leaders.

Theresa May has become the United Kingdom’s second female leader since Margaret Thatcher put a small dent in the glass ceiling (before going on to shatter the working class). And in November, the world is expecting (and, let’s face it, mostly praying) that Hillary Clinton will win out over Donald Trump to become the first female President of the United States. These women join Angela Merkel as she continues her reign at the helm of Germany (and, ipso facto, her effective leadership of the EU).

Outside politics, there’s Janet Yellen at the head of the US Federal Reserve and Christine Lagarde at the head of the International Monetary Fund. A woman may head up the United Nations for the first time, too, if Christiana Figueres – currently the organisation’s climate chief – or former New Zealand PM Helen Clark, are successful in their respective tilts for the spot.

However Noyes says:

Of course, as a left-leaning feminist, witnessing the rise of these female politicians is bittersweet; and it can be tempting to dismiss the significance of the occasion as just another win for the establishment.

After all, every one of these female leaders sits somewhere to the right-of-centre; and they don’t necessarily identify as feminist.

Only someone who is hard left could consider they are all right of centre.

Theresa May and Angela Markel are.

Helen Clark is not.

Hillary Clinton is not. She is campaigning almost exclusively on left issues.

Christine Lagarde is from a political party that belongs to Socialist International.

And Janet Yellen is at best centrist or centre-left with her economic views. She is a known inflation dove rather than hawk.

Boris appointed Foreign Secretary

July 14th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Theresa May is announcing her new Cabinet and the most interesting decision is to make Boris Johnson Foreign Secretary. Boris is well known for once quipping he may have to do a global apology tour of countries he has offended.

The Atlantic has an article on all the foreign leaders he has insulted. He does have the redeeming virtue of being mainly correct in his criticisms. He recently won a contest for the most offensive poem about the President of Turkey (to protest a German comedian being prosecuted in Germany for offending him).

Boris may be a huge success (he is very smart, speaks multiple languages and knows history well) or he could get the UK involved in some wars. It will not be boring.

Other appointments to date are:

  • Philip Hammond replaces George Osborne as Chancellor
  • Amber Rudd replaces Theresa May as Home Secretary
  • David Davis becomes Minister for Brexit
  • Liam Fox becomes Trade Secretary

Smart appointment of David Davis – the pro Brexit Conservatives will be pleased, and the part may unite better now with a pro-Remain PM but pro-Brexits in key positions.

Unelected PMs

July 14th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I saw a graphic yesterday about how 12 out of 24 recent UK Prime Ministers became Prime Minister without winning a general election. They are:

  1. Theresa May
  2. Gordon Brown
  3. John Major
  4. Jim Callaghan
  5. Alec Douglas-Home
  6. Harold Macmillan
  7. Anthony Eden’
  8. Winston Churchill
  9. Neville Chamberlain
  10. Stanley Baldwin
  11. David Lloyd George
  12. HH Asquith
  13. Arthur Balfour

I assumed their high proportion was because of their five year terms, but have a look at NZ PMs and who came in via an election and not.

Elected

  1. Key
  2. Clark
  3. Bolger
  4. Lange
  5. Muldoon
  6. Kirk
  7. Nash
  8. Holland
  9. Savage

Replaced PM

  1. Shipley
  2. Moore
  3. Palmer
  4. Rowling
  5. Marshall
  6. Holyoake
  7. Fraser

So fairly close. And in Australia:

Elected

  1. Abbott
  2. Rudd
  3. Howard
  4. Hawke
  5. Whitlam

Replaced PM

  1. Turnbull
  2. Gillard
  3. Keating
  4. Fraser
  5. McMahon
  6. Gorton
  7. McEwen
  8. Holt
  9. Menzies

So in Australia most PMs first became PM without an election.

No tag for this post.

The South China sea ruling

July 13th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand has called on all parties to respect an international ruling on South China Sea, a stance that will test relations with our biggest trading partner, China. 

China has violated The Philippines’ sovereign rights in the South China Sea by building artificial islands and by interfering with the smaller nation’s fishing and petroleum exploration, The Permanent Court of Arbitration has found in a landmark ruling.

The court in The Hague has effectively thrown out China’s “nine dash line” which asserts the country’s claim to most of the South China Sea. The court found that such historical claims – in China’s case going back hundreds of years – are superseded by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

China has made it clear it will not accept or recognise any ruling rejecting its claims to the hotly contested waterway.

The Philippines  took China to the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2013 after the Chinese navy seized control of Scarborough Shoal. The tribunal has ruled that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the nine dash line, according to reports. 

“While New Zealand does not take a position on the various territorial claims in the South China Sea we have consistently stated that the differing interests in the region should be managed peacefully and in accordance with international law,” Foreign Minister Murray McCully said. 

“Maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea is vital to the ongoing prosperity of the wider Asia-Pacific region. It is in all parties’ interests to ensure the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is respected.

China is acting like an aggressor and a bully. If they are unwilling to accept international law, then how can one trust them in other international agreements?

Guest Post: “Straya-bility”

July 13th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

A guest post by MYOB NZ General Manager James Scollay:

If it seems like politics in Australia is always in a state of flux, that’s because for recent history it has been. You could call it “Straya-bility”.

Since 1999, the Lucky Country has been unlucky enough to have six Prime Ministers – John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd again, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull.

In the same period New Zealand has had two.

That is why its knife-edge election result was such a disaster.

Votes are still being counted in a handful of electorates, but it seems like the Liberal-National Coalition will end up on 76 or 77 seats – giving it the slimmest of majorities in the 150 seat parliament. Even if it does fall short, the enigmatic Queenslander Bob Katter has pledged confidence and supply to the Turnbull administration, meaning it will cling on to the treasury benches.

But if you think that’s messy, wait until you see the makeup of the senate.

At the same time, Turnbull faces considerable descent from disaffected members within his own ranks and you’d be silly to rule out another leadership spill.

So what does all that instability mean for our country? Quite a lot.

Australia remains New Zealand’s top export destination taking almost $13 billion of our goods and services in the year to March 2016, while imports totalled $11.2 billion.

MYOB operates only in Australia and New Zealand meaning we know what happens in one country can have a profound effect on the other. Any slowdown over there hurts business here.

In Prime Minister Turnbull’s speech to launch the Liberal Party’s election campaign, he said, “A strong economy is one where businesses are confident of the future and are prepared to take the risk of investing, expanding and hiring.” He could have added, “and means they are more likely to buy more products and services from our friends in New Zealand.”

Many people had hoped the election would deliver a decisive result that would set Australia up for a new period of political stability. That is important, because political stability leads to economic confidence, and economic confidence leads to business investment.

Running alongside its political instability has been a period of economic difficulty for our Aussie cousins.

Going back a few years, the shocks from the Global Financial Crisis hit just before collapsing world prices for iron ore and other minerals hammered Australia’s current account. In response, the then Rudd Government massively expanded public spending to keep the economy afloat. It succeeded, but the country’s sovereign debt levels sored.

The challenge for the new Government is how to get back to a more sustainable fiscal position. Mr Turnbull has set himself a five-year timetable to return the federal budget to surplus (as did Labor leader Bill Shorten). He has his work cut out for him, given the coming year’s deficit is expected to reach an eye-watering $37 billion.

There are a few other head winds. Rating agency S&P has put Australia’s credit rating on negative watch, the dollar has been on an up-and-down roller-coaster, and business optimism is waning. The last MYOB Colmar Brunton Business Survey of more than 1,000 SMEs in Australia saw 42 per cent of Australian SMEs predicting that the local economy will decline over the next 12 months – a net negative result of 18 per cent.

In contrast, confidence in the New Zealand economy improved markedly in the latest survey, up to net positive 5 per cent from net negative 30 per cent in September 2015.

The more positive economic conditions in New Zealand has been reflected migration figures to this country. Whereas 10 years ago the news was filled with stories about Kiwis upping sticks for the Gold Coast, Perth or Melbourne, in the year to May 2016 New Zealand saw a net inflow of 1,739 people from across the ditch.

No one is tipping Australia’s economy to fall over. Its people and businesses are endlessly innovative, resilient and creative – and Turnbull has promised a tax package that will see the small business tax rate cut to 27.5 percent from 1 July 2018 (for those with up to $10 million in revenue), and over the next 10 years, the company tax rate will fall to 25 percent for all businesses.

However, to see the problems that instability can cause, take a look at its rugby team. Just as it has had six PMs since the turn of the millennium, Australia has had six coaches of the Wallabies in the same period – and we know what is happening there…

While the election rightly took up most of the attention over past couple of weeks, it obscured an important anniversary for the country. Incredibly, Australia has now not had an economic recession for a quarter century. Given the closeness of our economies, New Zealand businesses should hope the country’s recurring political crises do not transform into economic ones and end that remarkable run.

James Scollay in on Twitter at @JamesScollay

EU failings

July 13th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Dr Mark Avis writes in the Herald:

As a UK citizen living in New Zealand, I have watched the media reaction since the vote for Brexit with bemusement. New Zealand is now my home, and because I have no plans to return to the United Kingdom, I did not vote in the EU referendum. But had I cast a vote, I would have voted for Brexit.

The notion that I would make such a choice baffles many people here, and it is no wonder; the media have continually portrayed Brexit as a malady of mind, and a position that is primarily founded on anti-immigration which, in turn, is founded on racism.

The fact the EU is an affront to any reasonable interpretation of democratic accountability is barely mentioned. Kiwis ought to consider how they would view a plan for a new organisation to be established in Sydney that would write laws binding on New Zealand and, once written, there would be no democratic mechanism for repeal.

In addition, a new court would be set up based on a system of civil law, not common law, and this court would be set above the New Zealand courts. The statutory law of this new court would be written by unelected bureaucrats, and they would not be accountable to any democratic institution. How many Kiwis would vote to join such an institution?

The people of the UK never voted to join such an institution.

So many media reports have overlooked the fundamental truth that the EU is not a particularly democratic organisation. The power is with appointed commissioners, not elected MEPs. The people have no ability to sack the EU Government or repeal laws.

The International Monetary Fund, the UK Treasury and a host of other institutions predicted economic Armageddon if the nation voted to leave the EU. These same institutions also said that not adopting the euro would be a catastrophe.

A good point.

Cameron’s final day

July 13th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

British Prime Minister David Cameron chaired a farewell Cabinet meeting on Tuesday (Wednesday NZ Time) as moving vans pulled up to his 10 Downing St residence a day before he is replaced as leader following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

Ministers gathered for Cameron’s 215th and final weekly Cabinet session a day after Home Secretary Theresa May was confirmed as the new Conservative leader and prime minister-in-waiting.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said there had been a “touch of sadness” to the meeting, which saw May and Treasury chief George Osborne led tributes to Cameron.

It is sad to see his career end so suddenly. He was and is a very talented politician, and from all accounts a very decent person.

I was fortunate enough to meet him three or four times at IDU meetings, and he always dominated the room – even when he was just an Opposition Leader.

The first time I met him was at the 2005 Conservative Party Conference. Michael Howard had resigned as leader and there were five candidates for the leadership – Cameron, David Davis, Kenneth Clarke, Liam Fox and Dir Malcolm Rifkind. David Davis was the clear favorite going into the conference and Cameron was in third place in the betting markets.

The conference does not vote for the leader, but is was a chance to impress, and David Cameron did. He gave a speech which remains probably the best political speech I have seen a politician deliver. He spoke for around half an hour without a single note or teleprompter and connected emotionally and powerfully with the audience – he defended and extolled the virtues of the Conservative Party but also set out areas it had to do more.Especially poignant was when he talked of their experiences with the NHS with their baby Ivan who had severe epilepsy and cerebral palsy.

The large convention hall was so quiet during his speech you could have heard a pin drop. You did see delegates and diplomats (I was seated with them) turning to each other with expressions that said much the same thing – “We are seeing the rise of the next Leader of the Conservative Party”. Everyone in the hall knew his speech was a game changer, and so it was. By the end of the day he was the favourite with the bookmakers and went on to win.

The biggest thing he did to the Conservatives was make them electable. Many forget how awful their brand was in the late 1990s and 2000s. A series of leaders had all lost to Tony Blair, despite being competent leaders. But the Conservative brand was tarnished. I recall a poll done by Lord Ashcroft when they asked people what they though of a particular immigration proposal. 77% said they supported the proposal. However when told it was Conservative Party policy, only 42% then said they supported it. The brand was so bad it could reduce support for a policy by 35%!

Cameron changed their brand and make them electable again. I don’t think any of the others would have done that.

He won the 2010 election but didn’t get a majority. Critics say he should have, as Gordon Brown was so unpopular and the economy so weak. But I’m not sure the rise of the Lib Dems can be put down to Cameron – it was more a wary electorate.

He managed to govern for five years in a coalition with the Lib Dems, which was no mean feat. Many Lib Dems are to the left of Labour. And then in 2010 he got a majority. He was on top of the world and was on track to retire undefeated after eight to nine years as PM.

But alas for him he is out of office a year later, having been the chief proponent for the losing side in the EU referendum. Many have said that he should have never gambled with holding the referendum, but I disagree. It was profoundly the right thing to do, especially as the people voted to leave.  Refusing to allow the people to vote on whether they remain part of an EU government they can’t sack, would have been profoundly undemocratic. It also would have just led to UKIP gaining more and more strength.

Where he did perhaps make a mistake was becoming the chief campaigner for Remain. If he had perhaps done the same as Jim Bolger with the MMP referendum, he might have been able to survive. Bolger stated his preference for remaining with FPP, but did not lead the FPP campaign.

So David Cameron is gone 11 years after he became Leader and after six years as PM. While he leaves office on a low, I hope history will be kinder to him as the man who made the Conservatives electable again and beat Labour so badly in 2015 that they are now the unelectable party. There are worse legacies. The UK economy is also much stronger today than it was in 2010, and after an initial shock I think they will remain a strong economy outside the EU.

 

Australia looks at e-voting

July 12th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

ABC reports:

Many Australians do their tax, submit Medicare claims and manage their Centrelink benefits via the internet.

But when it comes to the most fundamental element of our political process – voting – the nation remains rooted in the long held tradition of using a pencil and paper to cast their vote at a primary school or community hall.

Frank Reilly from Arcadia in New South Wales has asked Curious Campaign why voters don’t have access to electronic voting. …

Although the AEC has moved very cautiously with electronic voting, it has trialled electronic voting for the blind and vision impaired, for Defence and Federal Police personnel overseas, and for Australians living in the Antarctic.

The combined costs of the trials at the 2007 election was over $4 million, with the average cost per vote cast of $2,597 for electronically assisted voting for blind and low vision electors, and $1,159 for remote voting for selected defence force personnel. This compared with an average cost per elector of $8.36.

We already have e-voting in NZ. If you live overseas you can scan or photograph your ballot paper and send it to the Electoral Commission via the Internet.

Our questioner, Frank, can take some heart that both the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have expressed support for some iterations of electronic voting.

I don’t see a need for e-voting for our parliamentary elections as we have fairly high turnout and our current system is very secure.

However I strongly support it as an option for local body elections as e-voting would be much more secure than postal ballots, and turnout is very low for local elections.

Prime Minister Theresa May

July 12th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Incoming British Prime Minister Theresa May says she’s “honoured and humbled” to lead the Conservative Party and the country, after her leadership rival Andrea Leadsom abruptly dropped out of the race overnight.

Prime Minister David Cameron announced he’ll resign on Wednesday, with May to take the reins immediately.

Leadsom’s departure from the leadership contest meant May was immediately elected Conservative Party leader on Monday (local time).

That’s some welcome stability. Means they don’t spend another two months in limbo.

Leadsom, 53, never served in cabinet and was barely known to the British public until she emerged as a prominent voice in the successful Leave campaign.

She had been strongly criticised over a newspaper interview in which she appeared to suggest that being a mother meant she had more of a stake in the country’s future than May, who has no children. Some Conservatives said they were disgusted by the remarks, for which Leadsom later apologised, while others said they showed naivety and a lack of judgment.

Her comments backfired massively. One mistake in an interview and it can all be over.

It will be interesting to see if May does a Cabinet reshuffle once she is PM.

Best Australian sledges

July 11th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

News.com.au has some of the best parliamentary sledges from Australia. My favourites include:

PAUL KEATING

• Asked by opposition leader John Hewson why he wouldn’t call an early election: “Mate, because I want to do you slowly. And in the psychological battle stakes, we are stripped down and ready to go.”

• On John Hewson: “He’s like a shiver waiting for a spine to run up.”

• Also on Hewson: “Debating with him is like being flogged by a warm lettuce.”

• Also on Peacock: “A painted, perfumed gigolo.”

JOE HOCKEY

• To two journalists attempting to ‘doorstop’ him: “God you guys, look how young you are, are you eighteen? Get a look at his face, look at this, look at this. I was about to ask [for] your ID. What’s going on? What’s going on? I don’t know what you guys are up to. Maybe I’m getting old … I mean I’m taking you seriously.”

JEFF KENNETT

• In a phone conversation with federal shadow minister Andrew Peacock, recounting a conversation with John Howard: “I said, ‘I couldn’t give a f***. I have no sympathies any more. You’re all a pack of s**** and tomorrow I’m going berserk.’ Well he went off his brain and in the end I said to him, I said, ‘Howard. You’re a c***. You haven’t got my support, you never will have and I’m not going to rubbish you or the party tomorrow but I feel a lot better having told you you’re a c***.”

BELINDA NEAL

• The former Labor MP to pregnant Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella: “Your child will turn into a demon, you have such evil thoughts.”

MALCOLM TURNBULL

• In an email reply to an angry constituent: “Gosh, Pam, you are in a bad mood this morning. Now, you are correct that the budget did not target childless, 58-year-old lesbian poets and science teachers; but you are better off nonetheless.”

 

Public Polls June 2016

July 11th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

pollsjune2016

The monthly polling newsletter is out. The summary is:

Curia’s Polling Newsletter – Issue 98, June 2016

There were two political voting polls in June 2016 – a Roy Morgan and a One News Colmar Brunton.

The average of the public polls has National 17% ahead of Labour in June, up 1% from May. The current seat projection is centre-right 58 seats, centre-left 51 which would see NZ First hold the balance of power.

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

In the United States the real winner from the election campaign is Barack Obama. His favourability and approval ratings have been rising all year as Americans seem to think he isn’t as bad as the two people vying to succeed him.

 Clinton’s chances of winning have risen from 69% to 76% in the prediction markets as she has an average 6% lead in the polls. The electoral college projection remains constant with Clinton ahead by 126 electors.

In June in the UK they voted to leave the EU. Scotland may leave the UK. David Cameron is going, Nigel Farage has gone and Jeremy Corbyn is trying not to leave. A turbulent month in the UK where once again the polls were mainly wrong.

In Australia the polls were very accurate in the election in terms of the two party preferred vote. Almost all showed a very narrow margin to the Coalition.

In Canada Justin Trudeau’s popularity continues to rise.

We also carry details of polls on housing plus the normal business and consumer confidence polls.

This newsletter is normally only available by e-mail.  If you would like to receive future issues, please go to http://curia.us10.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=e9168e04adbaaaf75e062779e&id=8507431512 to subscribe yourself.

Correspondence and feedback is also welcome to the same address.

Shorten concedes

July 11th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The election is sort of over. Bill Shorten has conceded. The Coalition has 74 seats and projected to get two of the last five. Maybe more than two.

The Senate won’t be known for a few weeks, but is going to be ugly.

This will be a testing time for Malcolm Turnbull. He he was majority Government in his own right. However he has significant discontent on his right and a revitalised Labor which can scent victory in three years.

If he can produce a policy programme that gains widespread support, he may survive. But policies that are agreeable to the Liberal caucus and to the Senate will be hard to find.

Eagle challenges Corbyn

July 10th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Labour has been plunged into its “greatest crisis for generations” as a leadership bid was launched against Jeremy Corbyn and its biggest union donor waged war on the party’s deputy leader.

With the Labour party closer to splitting than at any point since the formation of the SDP in 1981, Eagle said she would explain her “vision for the country and the difference a strong Labour party can make” on Monday and would be touring TV studios on Sunday.

If Corbyn survives, Labour may well split as MPs form their own party. If he doesn’t survive, his activists may turn on Labour.

It is understood that Labour’s national executive committee will convene a special meeting on Tuesday to rule on whether Corbyn, who has very limited support in parliament, needs to have the support of 51 MPs to get on the ballot paper alongside Eagle and any other contenders. The Labour party has taken legal advice, which indicates that he will need to find the nominees, in line with the precedent set in 1988 when Neil Kinnock was challenged by Tony Benn.

Not sure he would get them. He only got enough last time as a sympathy gesture to have a token mad hard left winger. But if they do rule he needs them, it could well go to court.

Ignoring their own words

July 9th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Tamara Crowchief may have yelled “I hate white people” as she carried out a violent assault on a white person, but that doesn’t mean her attack was racially motivated, a Canadian judge has ruled.

The attack occurred outside a pub in Calgary, Canada, on Nov. 1, according to the Calgary Herald. Crowchief’s victim, identified as Lydia White, lost a tooth in the assault, the paper reported.

Prosecutor Karuna Ramakrishnan had tried to put Crowchief behind bars for 12 to 15 months by arguing that the indigenous woman’s “unprovoked” actions represented a hate crime, the paper reported. But Judge Harry Van Harten of the provincial court strongly disagreed.

“The offender said, ‘I hate white people’ and threw a punch,” Van Harten told those gathered in the court during his ruling. “There is no evidence either way about what the offender meant or whether .

. . she holds or promotes an ideology which would explain why this assault was aimed at this victim. I am not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that this offense was, even in part, motivated by racial bias.”

I don’t actually believe in having hate crimes as a separate criminal category. But if you do have them, they should apply equally.

If someone said “I hate black people” and punched a black person, you would conclude they were motivated by racial bias. If someone said “I hate homosexuals” and punched a gay man, you would conclude they were motiviated by dislike of homosexuality.

But some people seem to go out of their way to ignore someone’s plain spoken words.

The Orlando shooter told Police multiple times he was killing all these people due to his religious beliefs and support for Islamic State. However you then get people saying “Oh no, ignore what he said, it is because ….”

I believe in these situations, you apply Occam’s razor.

How Switzerland deals with gender segregation demands

July 9th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

USA Today report:

In the latest move to deny citizenship to those who balk at Swiss culture, authorities rejected the naturalization application of two Muslim girls who refused to take school swimming lessons because boys were present.

The girls, ages 12 and 14, who live in the northern city of Basel, had applied for Swiss citizenship several months ago, but their request was denied, Swiss media reported Tuesday.

The girls, whose names were not disclosed, said their religion prevents them from participating in compulsory swimming lessons with males in the pool at the same time. Their naturalization application was rejected because the sisters did not comply with the school curriculum, Basel authorities said.

“Whoever doesn’t fulfill these conditions violates the law and therefore cannot be naturalized,” Stefan Wehrle, president of the naturalization committee, told TV station SRF on Tuesday.

The case shows how those who don’t follow Swiss rules and customs won’t become citizens, even if they have lived in the country for a long time, are fluent in one of the national languages — German, French or Italian — and are gainfully employed.

More countries should do this. If people are unwilling to integrate (not assimilate) then why have them? If you don’t want to have your country with gender segregation, then why let people in who do believe in gender segregation?

Another recent case sparked widespread outrage in Switzerland when two Muslim brothers refused to shake hands with their female teacher, also citing religious restrictions. Shaking hands with a teacher is a common practice in Swiss schools.

After that incident was widely publicized, authorities suspended the naturalization request from the boys’ father, an imam at the Basel mosque.

There are many many countries one can live in where there is gender segregation.  You think your beliefs means it is wrong to shake hands with a woman – fine – go live somewhere where that is the norm, rather than try and change another country’s culture.

In Switzerland, unlike in the United States and many other countries, integration into society is more important for naturalization than knowledge of national history or politics. Candidates for citizenship must prove that they are well assimilated in their communities and respect local customs and traditions.

What a good idea.

In Switzerland, local town or village councils make initial decisions on naturalization applications. If they decide a candidate is not an upstanding member of the community, the application will be denied and not forwarded to canton (state) and federal authorities for further processing.

That’s what happened in 2014 to Irving Dunn, an American who has lived in Switzerland for nearly 40 years. He was denied Swiss citizenship because he could not name any of his Swiss friends or neighboring villages, authorities said.

“The applicant’s answers have shown that his motive for naturalization is not about integration but about the personal advantages it offers,” the naturalization commission ruled.

I like the idea of delegating the decision to local communities.

 

Green says Turnbull has the numbers

July 8th, 2016 at 3:49 pm by David Farrar

ABC reports:

ABC election analyst Antony Green says there is no doubt Malcolm Turnbull will be returned as Prime Minister, and the Coalition could secure 77 seats and win majority government.

“Malcolm Turnbull is the Prime Minister and will continue as Prime Minister,” Green told Radio National this morning.

Nothing is official in Australian elections until Antony Green calls it.

On the current figures the Coalition has secured 73 seats while Labor has 66.

The Government would need 76 seats to govern in its own right — there are six seats that have not been called.

“On the numbers, they could get four of the six seats,” Green said.

“Which would give them 77. But they may only win three of the seats.”

If the Coalition falls short of a clear majority, Mr Turnbull has been given assurances from crossbenchers Bob Katter, Andrew Wilkie and Cathy McGowan about their intention not to vote against budget supply or confidence unless it is clearly warranted.

So 73 in the bag plus three independents means they can govern. So can they get a majority?

Green said the Liberal Party is on track to win Forde, and is likely to pull ahead in Flynn, Herbert and Capricornia.

Labor is on track to secure Cowan in Western Australia.

That leaves Hindmarsh which is 50:50 with Labor 68 votes ahead.

If Labor get Hindmarsh then it would be 77 to 68 and 5 independents.

Gove out

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

Stuff reports:

Interior minister Theresa May and eurosceptic rival Andrea Leadsom emerged on Thursday (Friday NZ Time) as the two candidates who will battle to become Britain’s next prime minister and lead the country out of the European Union.

May won 199 votes and Leadsom 84 in a second ballot of lawmakers of the governing Conservative party. Justice Secretary Michael Gove took just 46 votes and was eliminated from the race.

Around 150,000 grassroots Conservatives across the country will now vote to decide whether May or Leadsom becomes Britain’s first woman prime minister since Margaret Thatcher was forced from office in 1990.

Boris will be celebrating that Judas is out.

Interesting that both of the UK’s female Prime Ministers will have come from the Conservative Party. May be a long time until UK Labour has a female leader let alone Prime Minister.

The Chilcot report

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

Stuff reports:

British Prime Minister Tony Blair told US President George W Bush eight months before the 2003 invasion of Iraq “I will be with you, whatever”, and relied on flawed intelligence and legal advice to go to war, a seven-year inquiry concluded on Wednesday.

It strongly criticised Blair on a range of issues, saying the threat posed by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction had been over-hyped and the planning for the aftermath of war had been inadequate.

Blair responded that he had taken the decision to go to war “in good faith”, that he still believed it was better to remove Saddam, and that he did not see that action as the cause of terrorism today, in the Middle East or elsewhere.

“The intelligence assessments made at the time of going to war turned out to be wrong. The aftermath turned out to be more hostile, protracted and bloody than ever we imagined,” the former prime minister, looking gaunt and strained, told reporters.

The lesson from this is that a nasty dictator might be better than the turmoil that comes from removing him.

The 1991 war was absolutely justified as Saddam had invaded Kuwait. The 2003 war was based on the premise that Saddam had WMDs – something that turned out to be wrong.

A rising death toll

July 6th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Terror

The number of attacks in blue is on the second axis and the death toll in yellow on the first axis. It shows a near tripling in the death toll since 2011.

The data comes from The Religion of Peace website. They catalog not just the major terror incidents but the many that get almost no reporting in global media.

Just in the last month there have been over 200 attacks in 31 countries killing 2,135 people.

The site has a good page on why you should always treat individual Muslims with respect and individuals and never harm or harass them or treat them differently. However that one can and should criticise Islam as an ideology – an ideology that has thousands killing in its name on a scale not found in any other religion.

US oil reserves now bigger than Saudi and Russia

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

FT reports:

 

The US holds more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia and Russia, the first time it has surpassed those held by the world’s biggest exporting nations, according to a new study.

Rystad Energy estimates recoverable oil in the US from existing fields, discoveries and yet undiscovered areas amounts to 264bn barrels. The figure surpasses Saudi Arabia’s 212bn and Russia’s 256bn in reserves.

The analysis of 60,000 fields worldwide, conducted over a three-year period by the Oslo-based group, shows total global oil reserves at 2.1tn barrels. This is 70 times the current production rate of about 30bn barrels of crude oil a year, Rystad Energy said on Monday.

Who remembers peak oil?

Can Leadsom win?

July 6th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Boris Johnson has given his backing to Andrea Leadsom in the Conservative Party leadership campaign, in a move which could end Michael Gove’s hopes of becoming Prime Minister.

Boris would probably now endorse Jeremy Corbyn over Michael Gove.

In an intervention that will transform the Tory leadership race, Mr Johnson praises Mrs Leadsom’s “zap, drive and determination”.

He says she combines a “better understanding of finance” than almost any other MP with “considerable experience of Government”. …

Mrs Leadsom is now likely to emerge as the main challenger to Theresa May, the Home Secretary.

It came after a poll of Conservative activists by the ConservativeHome website found that Mrs Leadsom has pulled ahead of Mrs May.

The poll found that she had the support of 38 per cent of party members, compared to Mrs May’s 37 per cent. 

May is in a strong position but the fact she was pro Leave may mean at the end of the day the party members won’t back her. Time will tell.

UPDATE: The results of the first ballot were:

  1. Theresa May 165
  2. Andrea Leadsom 66
  3. Michael Gove 48
  4. Stephen Crabb 34
  5. Liam Fox 16

So Fox is eliminated and in two days they vote again to knock one more out. Almost certainly to be Crabb as he’d have to get almost all of Fox’s votes to beat Gove.

UPDATE2: Crabb has pulled out and endorsed May. So it is one more ballot only of MPs, with it being between Leadsom and Gove for 2nd spot.

The top two candidates then go out to a ballot of all party members.

Farage leaves on a high

July 5th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A third UK party is now leaderless, but this one in a good way, reports Stuff:

Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage has resigned as head of the UK Independence Party (Ukip), saying he had realised his ambition of Britain voting to leave the European Union.

Farage said on Monday he had “done my bit” following the referendum.

“What I said during the referendum campaign is I want my country back. What I’m saying today is I want my life back,” he said.

Farage said the victory for the Leave side meant his political ambition was achieved. “I came into this struggle from business because I wanted us to be a self-governing nation, not to become a career politician.

Very smart to get out while on top. It can only be down hill from here, especially as UKIP no longer has much of a rationale to keep going.

How the Liberals think they can get to 76 seats

July 5th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Some calculations from a Liberal source:

ABC website at 8pm Sunday
Coalition = 65 seats
Seats disputed – given to ALP by ABC – may win = 2 Gain in 2013
seat Coal. 2pp status prorata gain est. postals absents and prepolls
Flynn 48.5% 2058 behind – 22000 to count 5500 4700 from 17000
Lindsay 48.4% 2522 behind – 25000 to count 1500 700 from 11000
Longmann 48.5% 2017 behind – 20000 to count 3000 2300 from 15000
Seats in doubt ABC – expected to win = 13
Capricornia 49.3% 991 behind – 15000 to count 1500 1470 from 13500
Chisholm 50.1% ahead
Cowan 49.3% 959 behind – 20000 to count 3200 2880 from 16300
Dickson 50.8% ahead
Dunkley 50.3% ahead
Forde 49.9% 149 behind – 22000 to count 2000 1500 from 15000
Gilmour 50.2% ahead
Grey 50.7% ahead
Herbert 49.3% 1984 behind – 16000 to count 2500 1960 from 12000
Hindmarsh 49.7% 432 behind – 19000 to count 700 650 from 17400
La Trobe 50.9% ahead
Petrie 50.8% ahead
Robertson 50.7% ahead

So if the pre-polls go as strongly to the Coalition as in 2013, they could get close to 80 seats. Not sure the trend will be the same though, as there were more pre-polls this time and Labor’s scare campaign on Medicare was at its height during the pre-poll period.

The latest ABC results has Coalition 68, Labor 67, 5 others and 10 in doubt.

Kremlin admits Snowden gave them information

July 5th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

A translation of a story in Bild is fascinating:

In a remarkable interview this week, Franz Klintsevich, a senior Russian security official, explained the case matter-of-factly: “Let’s be frank. Snowden did share intelligence. This is what security services do. If there’s a possibility to get information, they will get it.”

With this, Klintsevich simply said what all intelligence professionals already knew – that Snowden is a collaborator with the FSB. That he really had no choice in the matter once he set foot in Russia does not change the facts.

Klintsevich is no idle speculator. He is a senator who has served in the State Duma for nearly a decade. More importantly, he is the deputy chair of the senate’s defense and security committee, which oversees the special services. The 59-year-old Klintsevich thus has access to many state secrets – for instance regarding the Snowden case. …

His statement outing Snowden’s relationship with the Kremlin therefore cannot be an accident or a slip of the tongue. For whatever reason, Putin has decided to out Snowden as the collaborator that he actually is – and has been for three years already.

One reason for this may be Snowden’s recent tepid criticism via Twitter of Russia’s draconian new laws on domestic surveillance – which vastly exceed any of the activities of the Western democracies that Snowden has so strongly criticized from his FSB hideaway. Indeed, his hosts finally allowing their American collaborator to tweet negatively about Russia – many had noted Snowden’s silence on FSB repression and worse – may be a sign that the defector has outlived his usefulness.

In truth, Snowden was never all that well informed about American intelligence. Contrary to the myths that he and his mouthpieces have propagated, he was no more than an IT systems administrator. Snowden was never any sort of bona fide spy. There are no indications he really understands most of what he stole from NSA.

The FSB therefore milked Snowden of any valuable information rather quickly. He likely had little light to shed on the million-plus secret files he stole. Instead, his value to Moscow has been as a key player in Kremlin propaganda designed to discredit the Western intelligence alliance.

In that role, Snowden has done a great deal of damage to the West. But he was never a “mole” for Moscow inside NSA. In reality, the Snowden Operation is probably a cover to deflect attention from the one or more actual Russian moles who have been lurking inside NSA for years, undetected.

Based on the cases of previous Western intelligence defectors to Moscow, Edward Snowden faces an unhappy future. Whatever happens to him is up to his hosts, who control all aspects of any defector’s life. There no longer can be any honest debate about his relationship with the Kremlin, which has settled the matter once and for all. Putin and his special services consider Snowden to be nash – there is no question about that now.

So Snowden stole information from the US, and has shared it with Russia. Can’t see him getting a pardon anytime soon. He should get used to living in Russia.

 

UK Game of Thrones

July 4th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Ben Wallace, an MP who was working on Johnson’s campaign, wrote on Twitter that Gove would be like Theon Greyjoy from TV series Game of Thrones, “by the time I am finished with him”. The character was tortured in a dungeon and had his penis removed.

Extraordinary to have one MP tweet this about another in their party.

But Gove may well not make the final two. Theresa May is almost certain to be one of the final two. The Conservative caucus vote on the five candidates, and the two highest polling go forward to a full membership ballot.

Andrea Leadson may get the second highest number of votes, which would mean teh final choice would be between two women.