Archive for the ‘International Politics’ Category

February polls

March 3rd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar



As one can see, February saw significant movement in the polls, as shown in the above average of the public polls.

The monthly newsletter is out today. The executive summary is:

There were four political polls in February – a One News Colmar Brunton poll, a Fairfax Ipsos poll and two Roy Morgan poll

 The average of the public polls has National 17% ahead of Labour in January, up a large 6% from January. The current seat projection is centre-right 65 seats, centre-left 55 which would see National form a Government.

Tony Abbott’s approval ratings has plunged in Australia.

In the United States President Obama’s numbers continue to slowly recover from his terrible end to 2013.

In the UK David Cameron’s ratings also drop after a poor Government response to recent floods.

 In Canada the Conservatives are static with the Liberals remaining in the lead.

The normal two tables are provided comparing the country direction sentiment and head of government approval sentiment for the five countries. The mood in Australia has dropped significantly in the last month, while New Zealand improves.

We also carry details of polls in New Zealand on the NZ Flag, religion in schools, Winston Peters, the most important issues, Labour’s baby bonus, higher taxes plus the normal business and consumer confidence polls.

 This newsletter is normally only available by e-mail.  If you would like to receive future issues, please go to to subscribe yourself.


Would this be happening with a different President

March 2nd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

Heightened Russian military activity in Crimea on Friday prompted a stern warning from President Obama and a deepening sense of crisis among the leaders of the new Ukrainian government in Kiev.

U.S. officials said Russian troops had entered Crimea, and Obama told reporters Friday evening that he was “deeply concerned by reports of military movements” and that there “will be costs for any military intervention.”

Earlier in the day, the new Ukrainian government said that hundreds of soldiers in green camouflage, without insignia but carrying military-style automatic rifles, had taken over two airports in Crimea. Regularly scheduled flights continued, at least until nightfall, when the airspace above Crimea, a region of Ukraine with deep ties to Russia, was suddenly declared closed.

Internet videos of Russian military helicopters flying over Crimea’s muddy winter fields went viral Friday. Russian IL-76 planes suspected of carrying 2,000 troops landed at a military base in Gvardiysky, near the regional capital of Simferopol, according to Crimea’s ATR television.

It is looking more and more likely that Russia has invaded the Ukraine, and the end game is the effective annexation of the Crimea back into Russia, or at least Russian control.

My question is whether Putin would have done this, if there was a different US President? One could well argue yes, but I think if for example someone like Reagan was President, then Putin would not risk it. He is a bully, and bullies tend to respond to only one thing. I even think it may not have happened with Clinton (either one) as President.

One (Democratis supporting) commentator remarked on a podcast that when Obama talks about consequences, not even his daughters take him seriously!

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What sort of person buys a signed copy of Mein Kampf?

March 1st, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Whale Oil blogs:

Two rare early editions of Mein Kampf, signed by Adolf Hitler could sell for more than US$20,000 (NZ$24k) at an online auction, officials say.

Whale comments:

Check the back of the couch and see if you have a spare $24k.

But seriously what sort of sicko wants to own a book by Adolf Hitler. Only a nazi sympathiser could possibly want such a thing.

I think you have to be either genuinely unaware of what happened to millions of people during WWII under the rule of Nazi Germany, or you have to have a very specific personality fault to think that stuff is cool.

I agree. It is one thing to want to read Mein Kampf. It gives an insight into the mentality of the Nazis. But to want a copy personally signed by Hitler – that is rather sick.


The UK Labour paedophile controversy

March 1st, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Labour deputy leader’s insistence that she has ‘nothing to apologise for’ undermined by former colleague Hewitt’s frank apology

Harriet Harman appeared increasingly isolated over her links to a paedophile group after Patricia Hewitt apologised for her own role in the controversy, saying she had been “naïve and wrong”.

The Labour deputy leader has repeatedly refused to say sorry after it emerged that the National Council for Civil Liberties, where both she and Miss Hewitt worked in the 1970s, had given support to the Paedophile Information Exchange.

Harman is the current Deputy Leader of the UK Labour Party. Hewitt is a former Health Secretary.

Former minister Miss Hewitt’s frank admission that she had “got it wrong” on PIE contrasts sharply with Miss Harman’s insistence that she has “nothing to apologise for”.

As fresh evidence of the NCCL’s support for PIE emerged, Miss Hewitt, who has been abroad for the past 12 days, responded for the first time to criticism of her own role by saying she accepted the blame.

Miss Hewitt, who was general secretary of the NCCL from 1974 to 1983, said: “I take responsibility for the mistakes we made. I got it wrong on PIE and I apologise for having done so.

“NCCL in the 1970s, along with many others, was naive and wrong to accept PIE’s claim to be a ‘campaigning and counselling organisation’ that ‘does not promote unlawful acts’.

“I should have urged the executive committee to take stronger measures to protect NCCL’s integrity from the activities of PIE members and sympathisers and I deeply regret not having done so.”

Hewitt admitting she was wrong is the way to do it.

Meanwhile it emerged that the former Labour MP Bryan Gould was invited to become an honorary vice-president of PIE and said that he had a “good deal of sympathy” for the group’s objectives, despite turning down their offer.

BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme discovered that Mr Gould, a shadow minister during Neil Kinnock’s leadership, was contacted by PIE in the 1970s. He was approached following a speech he made to the Campaign for Homosexual Equality.

In a 1977 letter published by PIE’s in-house magazine, he said: “Yours is an unpopular cause and whilst I have a good deal of sympathy for your objectives, I do not think it would be fair to my wife and family for me to take a public stand on it… I’m sorry to have to send you such a disappointing reply.”

So in the letter he wrote at the time, he said he has a good deal of sympathy for the objectives of the Paedophile Information Exchange. Astonishing. Their aim was to abolish the age of consent to legalise sex between adults and children.

Mr Gould told the BBC that he did not remember the correspondence but had never had the slightest sympathy for paedophiles or any involvement with PIE

If he has never had any sympathy why did he write a letter saying he had a good deal of sympathy for their objectives? Is he saying the letter is a fake?

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Abbott’s Qantas dilemma

February 28th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The disastrous results and huge job-shedding announced by Qantas yesterday is battering at the door of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who must decide what the Government will do for the ailing national airline.

The decision will test his resolve and the Government’s mantra that “the age of entitlement is over” as he comes under furious fire from Labor, the Greens and unions, which have accused him of plans to tie federal assistance to an attack on wages and awards.

I guess they just think taxpayers should subsidise Qantas.

The airline’s A$252 million ($270.5 million) pre-tax half-year loss, and its plans to shed the equivalent of 5000 jobs – meaning the final tally of sacked employees will be even higher – add to the series of Australian corporate icons hammered since Abbott won power in September last year.

These include the end of the local automotive industry with the loss of Holden, Ford and Toyota. The Government has repeatedly said companies must stand or fall on their own.

He’s right.

“We’re determined to help Qantas,” Abbott told Parliament. “We’ll help Qantas by guaranteeing a level playing field [and] by saving Qantas some A$270 million in carbon tax costs over two years … This is a Government which is determined to keep faith with businesses which have made investment decisions honestly and fairly on the basis of government policy. Second, this is a Government which will do its best to ensure, as far as is humanly possible, a level playing field between the domestically produced and the imported product.”

Transport Minister Warren Truss blamed much of the airline’s problems on the carbon and mining taxes, high wages and award conditions, and said fewer jobs were needed with new technology.

Air New Zealand uses technology well. The check in system is almost entirely automated, and the number of staff they have there now is probably 20% of what it used to be – and with far fewer queues.

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Reminds me of Europe in the 1930s

February 27th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar reports:

A UGANDA newspaper has listed 200 people it accused of being gay, a day after the president called homosexuals ‘mercenaries’ and signed one of the world’s toughest anti-gay laws.

“Exposed!’’ the headline of the Red Pepper tabloid read, beneath photographs of Ugandans it said were gay, as well as reporting on lurid stories of alleged homosexual actions.

“Uganda’s 200 top homos named,’’ the daily newspaper added.

That’s appalling at the best of times, but in the present climate there is almost inciting their deaths.

On Monday, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni signed a bill into law which holds that repeat homosexuals should be jailed for life, outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and requires people to denounce gays.

Mr Museveni said he could not understand how one could “fail to be attracted to all these beautiful women and be attracted to a man’’ instead and described in graphic details his particular revulsion to oral sex.

This is not far removed from what the Nazis started in the 1930s. I don’t mean the holocaust, but the jailing people for who they are, and denouncing of them.

I’m not sure if we give any aid to Uganda, but now would be a good time to stop.

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Will Russia invade Ukraine?

February 25th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The White House warned Russia to keep its troops out of Ukraine, amid fears that Moscow may step in with military force following the overthrow of the President, its ally.

Tensions also mounted in Crimea, in Ukraine’s southeast, where pro-Russian politicians are organising rallies and forming protest units demanding separation from Kiev. The region is now seen as a potential flashpoint because of its deep strategic significance to Moscow.

US President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, said it would be a “grave mistake” for Russian President Vladimir Putin to send soldiers into Ukraine to restore a friendly government after the upheaval. Nobody would benefit if Ukraine were to split apart, she said. “It’s in nobody’s interest to see violence return and the situation escalate.”

Who knows what Putin will do. Obama has warned of consequences if Russia invades, but as one (left leaning) commentator said, “Not even the President’s daughters fear him, when he talks of consequences”. This is in relation to his strong talk of the use of chemical weapons in Syria crossing a red line, and then nothing happening when they did use them.

The biggest thing holding Putin back may be the Ukranians themselves. While Russia may be welcome in the Crimea, the rest of the Ukraine would resist them strongly. The most likely outcome is the country splits in two. But this would then mean the rest of Ukraine would then be a country very hostile to Russia.

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The socialist paradise of Venezuela turns off the Internet

February 23rd, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Slashgear reports:

Don’t expect one whole heck of a lot of tweets coming out of Venezuela in the immediate future as President Nicolas Maduro’s government has shut down the internet and select TV channels. Having shut down Twitter access for the area this past week, Venezuela’s state-run ISP CANTV has been cut in areas such as San Cristobal. This area is a regional capital in the west of the country and CANTV controls the vast majority of internet connectivity in the area.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation made note that Venezuelans working with several different ISPs lost all connectivity on Thursday of this past week. Users lost connectivity to the major content delivery network Edgecast and the IP address which provides access to Twitter’s image hosting service while another block stopped Venezuelan access to the text-based site Pastebin.

Madura won the presidential election as the Socialist Party candidate. His initiatives have included (am not making this up) a “Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness”. I guess he doesn’t see a role for Internet access in happiness.


A 38% probability the story is about nothing

February 21st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff has a story from Reuters which says:

Support for Scottish independence rises

I got excited. There must have been a big movement in the polls. So I read the story.

The first opinion poll since Britain’s rulers warned Scots they would lose the pound if they voted to leave the United Kingdom showed a slight increase in support for independence ahead of a referendum on the issue scheduled for September 18.

Slight? So it wasn’t 5%. Maybe 4%? I presumed it a significant amount as Reuters has done an entire story on this.

A Survation/Scottish Daily Mail poll carried out on February 17 and 18 of 1,005 people found 37.7 percent support independence, which it said could be compared to 36.9 percent recorded in a PanelBase/Sunday Times poll carried out on January 29-February 6.

First of all comparing the results of one company to the results of another, to declare a change is bad enough. But even if the results were from the same company, is an increase of 0.8% significant?

My probability calculator tells me the two results mean that there is a 61.6% chance the second poll is actually higher than the first poll To turn that around, there is a 38% chance there has been no increase at all.

Hardly worth a story.

Personally I don’t think Scotland voting for independence would be a bad thing for England. But anyway the point is that Reuters have written a story about pretty much nothing.

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North Korea human rights

February 19th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar reports:

NORTH Korea’s leaders should be brought before an international court for a litany of crimes against humanity that include exterminating its population, the United Nations says.

A hard-hitting report on the nuclear-armed totalitarian state also strongly criticised its denial of basic freedoms of thought, expression and religion, and its abduction of citizens of neighbouring South Korea and Japan.

“Systemic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, its institutions and officials,’’ said the report by the Commission of Inquiry on North Korea set up in March 2013 by the UN Human Rights Council.

“In many instances, the violations of human rights found by the commission constitute crimes against humanity. These are not mere excesses of the state; they are essential components of a political system that has moved far from the ideals on which it claims to be founded,’’ the report said.

“The gravity, scale and nature of these violations revealed a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.’’

Commission chair Michael Kirby said the world could no longer plead ignorance as an excuse for a failure to act.

“At the end of the Second World War, so many people said: If only we had known … Now the international community does know,’’ he said.

How refreshing to see a UN body call a spade, a spade. The North Koreans basically live in a slave state with a hereditary absolute monarch. One well known NZer claimed that they were no ddfferent to places like Singapore, both being authoritarian states. I hope he reads this UN report.

North Korea’s crimes against humanity entail “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation,’’ the report said.

Not much they don’t do.

It condemned a system of throwing generations of the same family into prison camps under guilt-by-association rules, given testimony from former guards, inmates and neighbours.

One day North Koreans will be free, but it is a long way off.


Thomson found guilty

February 19th, 2014 at 6:33 am by David Farrar reports:

THE Health Services Union will seek to recover money from former MP Craig Thomson, who was today found guilty of misusing union funds to pay for sex.

A defiant Thomson has denied the allegations since his arrest last January, but he was today found guilty of dozens of charges.
Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg found he was guilty of six charges of using HSU credit cards to pay for sex, as well as other charges including theft.

I liked Julia Gillard, but her defence of Thomson and refusal to move quicker against him was appalling judgement, and rightly damaged her Government.

Mr Thomson’s defence barrister, Greg James, QC, said Mr Thomson did not deny making the transactions but argued about his authority to do so.

The defence was that as a union boss, Thomson could spend union funds on whatever he deemed necessary.

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2014 Darwin Award nominee

February 13th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

An instructor teaching his militant recruits how to make car bombs accidentally set off explosives in his demonstration on Monday (local time), killing 21 of them in a huge blast that alerted authorities to the existence of the rural training camp in an orchard north of Baghdad.

Now that’s karma!


Fisking some Green stats

February 12th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A new column in the Dom Post is how to greenify your life. The column cites some stats to motivate you. Now I think it is very laudable to encourage recycling, use solar power etc etc but I also think one has to take care with some of the stats.

According to National Geographic, each year we’re losing 46,923 square kilometres of forest due to human activities. That’s an area the size of Panama. 

Firstly Panama is 75,517 square kms, not 46,923.  Also worth noting that the rate of deforestation is declining. I agree the rate is too high, and ideally any trees cut down should be replaced by new trees.

More than 50 percent of all living creatures on the earth reside in tropical rainforests, and they’re disappearing at a rate of 100 species per day. 

The 50% figure is fairly well established. The rate of disappearance is less so, as it is an estimate based on forests lost and average density of species. WWF say the rate of loss may be somewhere between 200 a year and 100,000 which is a daily rate of 0.5 to 274.

Average temperatures will increase by 2 – 6 degrees celcius by the end of the 21st century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at the current pace. 

Actually the IPCC range is from 1.5 to 4.5 degrees.

So all important issues, but be careful of getting the facts right.


A royal commission into union corruption in Australia

February 12th, 2014 at 6:38 am by David Farrar reports:

THE GOVERNMENT today announced a well-funded royal commission which will spend at least 12 months probing trade union secrets and corruption in the building industry going back a quarter of a century.

The inquiry into building industry and union criminal practices will be a sword cutting both ways, the Government said today in a warning to both trade unions and employers.

The powerful royal commission by former High Court judge John Dyson Heydon will highlight dodgy deals which Attorney-General George Brandis today said were “widespread, systemic and ingrained across a range of institutions”.

Findings would be passed on to police for possible prosecutions.

Employment Minister Eric Abetz said: “This is a sword that will cut both ways and we are determined to ensure that the rule of law exists in our construction sector.”

This is well overdue. Almost every week there has been a story detailing more corrupt activity in certain Australian unions, with prosecutions occurring in some high profile cases. The problem seems systemic, not just about a few isolated individuals.

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Kiwis fighting for rebels in Syria

February 11th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand passport holders have been identified fighting alongside anti-Government forces in Syria, Prime Minister John Key says.

In some instances, the Department of Internal Affairs had cancelled their passports – some were dual nationality, including Australians, he said.

A small number also had their documents confiscated before they were allowed to leave for the civil war-torn Middle Eastern state, the prime minister said.

Rebel factions have been battling to topple President Bashar al-Assad since 2011.

Key refused to say how many Kiwis have been fighting, or give any details.

He knew of no prosecutions, saying “it was handled in a different way”.

The revelation comes after weekend reports that Australians were “flocking” to the front line. Across the Tasman, the government fears the fighters will return as hardline radicalised Islamists, ready to launch domestic terror attacks.

“Yes, there is likely to … have been a small number of New Zealanders who have fought with the rebels in Syria,” Key said today.

“There are a small group of people that have gone to Syria to fight. There’s a small group that were going to Syria that we stopped … we have physically stopped some and we are clearly aware of others who are in Syria.”

Asked if any of the alleged fighters had been affiliated to extremist Islamists al Qaeda, Key was vague: “I am not going to go into their individual details. I mean, they have fought against the government so you can choose which particular rebel group you think they are fighting for … it involves people who are opposed to the Assad regime.

“There are a variety of rebel groups but I think my understanding is the largest rebel group is associated to al Qaeda.”

That’s a bit of a wake up call. It’s one thing to say you think Assad should go. It’s another to fly over there and join in a civil war. What happens when they want to return?

“We certainly need to be clear that if they return to New Zealand whether they pose a threat to other New Zealanders if they have become radicalised … there is always a risk that someone who goes into that environment comes back to New Zealand in a radicalised state.”

That is a very real risk.



They can’t take it with them

February 11th, 2014 at 7:19 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, were the most generous American philanthropists in 2013, with  a donation of 18 million shares of Facebook stock, valued at more  than $970 million (NZ$1.17 billion), to a Silicon Valley non-profit in December.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that Zuckerberg’s donation was the largest charitable gift on the public record in 2013 and put the young couple at the top of the magazine’s annual list of 50 most generous Americans in 2013.

The top 50 contributors made donations last year totalling $7.7 billion, plus pledges of $2.9 billion. …

Ten of the 50 made the list because of bequests after their deaths, including the second biggest giver in 2013, George Mitchell, a Texan who made his fortune in energy and real estate.

At No 3 were Nike chairman Philip Knight and his wife Penelope, of Portland, Oregon, who made a $500 million challenge grant to Oregon Health & Science University Foundation for cancer research. 

The Knight pledge requires the university to match it within the next two years.

No 4 was philanthropist and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who made gifts totalling $452 million in 2013 to arts, education, environment, public health and other causes.

More than 120 of the world’s wealthiest individuals and families have pledged to give at least half their wealth to charity since the movement began. Although most people on the list were prominent wealthy people who have given generously in the past, Palmer said a few were surprises, including Jack MacDonald, a Seattle lawyer, who gave $139 million to three non-profits upon his death.

Some people get upset that we have millionaires and billionaires. They say it is terrible anyone has so much wealth. We even have some local communists academics who claim that it should be illegal for anyone to earn more than three times as much as anyone else.

But ultimately a lot of the wealth now ends up in the charitable sector when people die – or before. It is very different to 100 years ago when wealth was almost always inherited. And I think that (for example) the Gates Foundation does far more good with a billion dollars of expenditure than a government would do with it.


Hart on Egypt

February 7th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Emma Hart writes at Public Address:

So it turns out the longer I’m home from Egypt, the harder it is to write about. Everything I was going to say becomes hedged around with caveats. I kept telling people how lucky we were, seeing it the way we did, but was it luck? We made a conscious, and on my part pretty much agonised-over, decision, and that was the payoff. No, we didn’t get shot, but I’m not sure that was any more of a risk than it would be anywhere else at any other time. 

I’m going to write about the politics elsewhere, so I don’t want to get into that too much. I will say, though, that I had to rethink a lot of things once I was actually there, and get a bit embarrassed re: Western paternalism. I will say that if your view is basically “Democracy = Good, Army = Bad”, you need to understand that, very broadly, the grassroots democracy movement supports the army and sees it as an ally. There’s an Egyptian pop song thanking the army for coming to the aid of the people against Morsi. 

Hart says it is complicated, and it is.  One can only hope that eventually they manage to have a democratic government that doesn’t want to turn Egypt into an Islamist state.

The down side was the touts. So many people in Egypt are dependent on selling tat to tourists in order to survive. Middle-Eastern sales tactics can be intimidating to Westerners at the best of times. At the tourist sites in Egypt, and the souk in Luxor, it was off the wall. 

I was there in 2009 and found the touts more aggressive in Egypt than anywhere else I’ve been, except Zimbabwe.

It was interesting to note who coped with this better. For men who’ve never been able to understand why women get upset about street harassment, I heartily recommend a visit to an Egyptian tourist market. See how long you can handle, “Hello! Good morning! Where you from? Welcome to Egypt! What’s your name? Smile!” from men who will not leave you alone. The women coped better because we already knew not to engage, to keep our heads down and not make eye contact, to stick together and walk briskly. Yes, they’re being “nice”. Because they want something.

Sadly I have come to hate a stranger coming up to me, when I am overseas, and saying “Where are you from?” as it is inevitably just a foray into trying to get you to part with some money. Egypt is especially bad and they follow you down the street.

Despite all that I’d love to go back one day when it is safer.


No obesity in North Korea!

February 6th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A link exists between a country’s economic freedom, fast-food purchases, and obesity, researchers say.

Their results fit New Zealand, among other countries, they said.

The World Health Organisation has used the study as another opportunity to call for governments to take action to “reverse the obesity epidemic by hindering the spread of ultra-processed foodstuffs”.

The authors used data on the number of fast-food transactions per capita from 1999 to 2008 in 25 high-income countries and compared that with figures on body mass index (BMI) in the same countries over the same period.

A report of the study, published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organisation, said the work showed that countries adopting market-liberal policies had faster increases in both fast-food consumption and mean BMI.

The average number of fast-food transactions per capita per year increased for all 25 countries in the study, with the 10.1 transactions per capita increase in New Zealand the fourth highest.

Canada (16.6), Australia (14.7) and Ireland (12.3) had larger increases.

According to the OECD, New Zealand has the fourth-highest rate of obesity among members of the organisation, with 27.8 per cent of the population aged 15 and above rated as obese, based on BMI figures.

New Zealand was also ranked fifth in the 2014 index of economic freedom published by US think tank The Heritage Foundation.

So destroy capitalism and you solve obesity. This is probably right. When did you last see an obese North Korean (except for their leaders)?

And think of all those countries in Africa with no economic freedom. No fatties there either. A few million may die from lack of food, but at least no one is obese.

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When’s the report on other religions?

February 6th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Vatican “systematically” adopted policies that allowed priests to rape and molest tens of thousands of children over decades, a UN  human rights committee said Wednesday, urging the Holy See to open its files on pedophiles and bishops who concealed their crimes.

In a devastating report hailed by abuse victims, the UN committee severely criticized the Holy See for its attitudes toward homosexuality, contraception and abortion and said it should change its own canon law to ensure children’s rights and their access to health care are guaranteed.

The Catholic Church’s position on child molestation in its ranks has been woeful, and the criticism is not unexpected.

But I note the UN report also criticises the Catholic church for its views on issues of homosexuality, contraception and abortion.

As it so happens I disagree with the Catholic Church on those issues, but I am of course ot Catholic.

What I am wondering is when this UN Human Rights committee will denounce other religions such as Islam for its views on the role of women in society, marital rape, blaming rape victims for rape etc?

Why target the Catholic Church only?

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Hehir on UK Labour’s tax plans

February 6th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Liam Hehir writes in the Manawatu Standard:

The United Kingdom’s Labour Party recently pledged to lift Britain’s top marginal tax rate from 45 per cent to 50 per cent.

The reaction was interesting because it illustrates the way people in politics sometimes talk past one another in political debate.

The policy has been partly framed as a deficit reduction measure and partly as an effort to create a “fairer” economy.

In critiquing the proposals, detractors have focused on the first of these, pointing out that the analysis of Her Majesty’s Treasury is that the higher tax rate only accounted for an additional £100 million in tax revenue.

In isolation, that seems like a lot. Given that the UK Budget deficit exceeds £116 billion, however, the proposal would not meaningfully contribute towards putting Britain’s public finances in order.

It’s a rich prick tax. Would plus the deficit by 0.1% only. They’re doing it to punish.

There are other factors at play, too. In a modern, globalised economy the transnational elite can easily shop around for competing jurisdictions in which to base their economic activity.

The best way to get more companies to pay tax in NZ, is to have lower tax rates.

American President and liberal icon John F Kennedy recognised this when calling for the slashing of the top income tax rate in 1962. Kennedy, no rabid Right-winger on domestic affairs, opined that: “. . . tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now”.

Yet left parties in NZ are promising to increase tax rates.

Polls show that large majorities of the British public would support the move. About 40 per cent would do so even if it raises no revenue.

An envy tax.

For the current generation of progressive leaders, stiff marginal tax rates are not exclusively (or even primarily) a means of raising money for the government to spend. Decreasing the wealth of the rich is considered a legitimate end unto itself – even if nobody else benefits.

That is so sadly true. This is what many proponents of reducing income inequality want – less rich people rather than less poor people.

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Fisking deaths from climate change

February 6th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Thomas Lumley blogs at Stats Chat:

Stuff has fallen for an egregiously over-promoted paper on future temperature-related deaths in the UK

The story says:

Deaths caused by hot weather are projected to rise by more than 250 per cent, with the elderly most at risk, the New Zealand Doctor magazine reported today.

The increased death rate, driven by climate change, population growth and ageing, would occur by the middle of the century, according to research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health on Monday.

It was found that “in the absence of any adaptation of the population”, heat-related deaths would be expected to rise by about 257 per cent by the 2050s, and cold-related mortality would decline by 2 per cent.

Where did this story comes from? The Greens!

Stuff attributes this story to NZ Doctor, but all they did was reprint an explicitly unedited Green Party press release.

So Stuff didn’t realise that it was not a news report, but a press release. Or maybe they didn’t care.

As to the facts:

Professor David Spiegelhalter has already savaged this one elegantly on his blog.  All the projected increase in temperature-related deaths in the UK is due to the increase in the number of elderly people.

If you compare people of the same age, the projections say cold-related deaths will fall by about twice as much as heat-related deaths rise, as his graph of the numbers from the paper shows.  That is, the paper actually predicts that global warming will reduce the number of temperature-related deaths in the UK.

Will Stuff run the truth as prominently as the original story.

Finally a point worth noting:

In the USA or Australia, let alone Africa, India, and other less-wealthy tropical places, there is going to be a real problem with temperature-related deaths from global warming.  In many more parts of the world, there’s a potential for weather-related deaths from drought, flood, storm, and ‘tropical’ disease.

Heat waves in the UK are not in the top ten list of things to worry about from global warming. Pretending they are is likely to be counterproductive.


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The flip side of protectionism

February 5th, 2014 at 6:31 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:

Spurred on by an aggressive Buy Australia campaign, the big Australian supermarkets are systematically stripping their shelves of New Zealand-produced goods sold under their ‘‘house brand’’ labels, in a move that threatens hundreds of millions  of dollars worth of exports.

Now hands up all those who have been saying that we should have a Buy NZ campaign, and that the NZ Government should only deal with NZ companies?

Protectionism is bad for New Zealand. Consumers pay more, and exporters get shut out.

Key will raise the issue in his meeting with Abbott in Sydney this week and it is understood the Government has received advice the move could be in breach of the decades-old Closer Economic Relations agreement with Australia.

One option would be for the Government to lodge a formal objection but sources say the situation is complicated by the fact that CER is a government-to-government agreement, and it is not ‘‘straight forward’’ whether supermarkets are captured by that process.

With respect, I think it is straight forward. Private supermarkets are not captured. CER is an agreement between Governments.

Labour’s economic development spokesman Shane Jones said  it was ‘‘essential’’ Key raise the plight of New Zealand food producers who were being ‘‘monstered’’ by the Australian supermarkets, who controlled 80 per cent of the market.

‘‘They are victimising Kiwi businesses and have created a culture of fear and menace. I have been told New Zealand food producers were warned not to complain about their poor treatment publicly or they would be blacklisted.’’

Is this the same Labour Party that has spent five years insisting that the New Zealand Government should discriminate against Australian businesses, and only let NZ companies win tenders? Isn’t it hypocrisy to complain when Australian businesses do exactly what they advocate?

My consistent view is that quality and price, rather than country of origin, are what you should decide things on. Only if the quality and price are identical or at least similar, should you then take into account country of origin.

But Woolworths Australia is a private company. If they think their customers want to pay more for inferior Australian food, then they can decide to use Australian suppliers only. I think it is a bad business decision, but it is their decision to make.

Where there could be an issue under CER is if the Australian Government is encouraging such protectionism. But I’ve not seen any details in this story that states they are.

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The mood in different countries

February 4th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I’ve just published Curia’s monthly polling newsletter (can subscribe here), and of interest is the difference in mood between countries.

Many polls ask if people think their country is generally heading in the right or the wrong direction. They difference between right and wrong is called the net direction. The current polls for the five countries we cover are:

  • United States -32%
  • United Kingdom -21%
  • Canada – 17%
  • Australia +2%
  • New Zealand +39%

Why do people think New Zealand is so much more positive than all the others?


Some UK poll results

February 4th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Been doing the monthly polling newsletter, and in reading the results of the UK polls, noticed some interesting questions this month. results include:

The Labour Party has announced that if it wins next year’s election it will increase the top rate of income tax to 50p for people earning more than £150,000 a year. If Labour does come to power and does increase the top rate of income tax, what do you think will happen in practice?

16% say it raise a significant amount of money and 71% say rich people will find ways to avoid paying the tax and it will raise very little extra money.

Currently people are allowed to use “reasonable” force to defend themselves and their home against a burglar or intruder. Some people have suggested that the law should be changed to allow people to use whatever force they see fit to defend themselves and their home against a burglar or intruder. Would you support or oppose changing the law to allow people to use whatever force they see fit to defend themselves and their home against a burglar or intruder?

An astonishing 75% support no limit on what force can be used to defend a home with only 17% against. And specifically on lethal force:

Do you think it is or is not acceptable for someone defending their home to use force that causes the death of a burglar or intruder?

60% support lethal force and only 26% against. Even Labour voters are 55% in favour and 30% against.

The Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow recently said he always thought about sex upon meeting a member of the opposite sex, saying ‘Sex comes into every evaluation of a woman, there’s no doubt about it. It’s there,’

When you meet a member of the opposite sex, do you think about what they would be like to make love to?

36% say they do and 60% say they do not. But broken by gender it is 56% of men do and only 18% of women!

If a referendum were held on the UK’s membership of the European Union with the options being to remain a member or withdraw, how do you think you would vote?

52% say they would vote to leave and 34% to remain. 62% of Conservatives favour leaving, 40% of Labour and 36% of Lib Dems.

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NZ vs Australia economy

February 3rd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

News Ltd economics reporter Jessica Irvine writes:

Our sporting teams may be locked in bitter rivalry: Wallabies vs. All Blacks; Diamonds vs. Silver Ferns.

But in the battle for economic supremacy, New Zealand is set to reign supreme.

While the Australian economy dominated over the past two decades, the tables are turning.

Australia survived the GFC with our two decade unbroken growth record intact, while New Zealand plunged into a year and a half long recession, before a deadly earthquake levelled its second biggest city of Christchurch in 2011.

But things have turned a corner for the New Zealand economy, says Saul Eslake, the chief economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

“The situation has now changed. As we move into 2014 the New Zealand economy does so gathering momentum whereas the Australian economy is clearly limping and will continue to do so,” Eslake explains.

And the migration patterns are changing.

Could the flood of New Zealanders to our shores be about to reverse?

Better jobs prospects at home are already reducing migration flows to Australia, says Eslake.

“I think that is already evident in NZ’s own migration patterns, which show net emigration having fallen quite significantly.”

New Zealand’s economy expanded 3.5 per cent over the year to last September, outpacing growth in the Australian economy of just 2.3 per cent.

As a result, getting a job in Australia is getting harder while getting a job in New Zealand is getting easier.

New Zealand’s jobless rate dropped sharply from 7.2 per cent to 6.2 per cent, while Australia’s climbed from 5.4 per cent to 5.8 per cent.

Hopefully our rate will drop below 6%.

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