Should there be a stand down?

January 29th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Mike Sabin, the MP under police investigation for assault, is set to grill senior cops as part of an annual review.

Sabin is chairman of Parliament’s law and order select committee. His boss, Prime Minister John Key indicated this week he was “happy” for the Northland MP to remain in the job. He is refusing to confirm Sabin is under investigation or comment on the second-term MP’s future.

So little is know about the alleged investigation, that it is hard to be categorical about what should happen. Generally I think it is best to play it safe and do a stand down. When there were allegations against Darren Hughes, I think Labour erred by not standing him down immediately.

But it is unknown if these allegations are anywhere of the same seriousness, and whether the complainant is credible. I recall a parent at an Auckland school make an assault allegation against Alfred Ngaro, and it was very obvious from the outset he was doing it just as part of his campaign against the school generally.Standing Alfred down would have been inappropriate.

Whether the allegations against Sabin are serious and credible enough to warrant a stand down, is not yet publicly known. But as he is Chair of the Law & Order Select Committee, I would have thought it is best to err on the side of caution.

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Dear Eleanor

January 29th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

First of all congratulations for winning the Man Booker prize last year. It’s a tremendous achievement, and as you point out on Live Mint, it was your individual achievement, not New Zealand’s achievement.

Like many others I have purchased a copy of The Luminaries. That  makes me a customer and a fan I guess.

You made the point:

So many people have talked in the media and me directly in ways of 2013 being the year that New Zealand won the Man Booker Prize. It betrays an attitude towards individual achievement which is very, uncomfortable. It has to belong to everybody or the country really doesn’t want to know about it.

I’m a big believer in individual achievement, and sympathise with you on that. Ironically your party of choice tends to be more a believer in achievements being a collective responsibility, not an individual one, but let’s put that to one side.

But I think you misunderstand the NZ habit of trying to own achievements by New Zealanders. I see it is as a mark of tribute and reverence, not lack of respect.  When I trekked the Himalayas, so many locals associated us with Sir Edmund Hillary, as if his achievements were NZ’s.  When the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup, we celebrated as a country – and didn’t just see it is a victory for 15 players. And last year when yourself, Lorde and Lydia Ko all dominated the world in your respective fields, yes we appropriated your achievements as NZ achievements. But that is because we’re so damn proud of you. As a small country, we do get very proud when one of our citizens wins global fame. Call it small country syndrome.

You also said:

I feel that in the last year I’ve really struggled with my identity as a New Zealand writer. I feel uncomfortable being an ambassador for my country when my country is not doing as much as it could, especially for the intellectual world. It’s sort of a complicated position to be in.

You’ve got every right to express your views on such an issue, and it is ridiculous Sean Plunket has called you a traitor. However could I gently suggest your timing and location is a bit churlish.

We don’t tend to mind criticism at home, but we do get worked up, when people knock their country overseas. Again call it small country syndrome.  I don’t think you would have got much of a negative reaction if you had made your comments domestically.

At the moment, New Zealand, like Australia and Canada, (I dominated by) these neo-liberal, profit-obsessed, very shallow, very money-hungry politicians who do not care about culture. They care about short-term gains. They would destroy the planet in order to be able to have the life they want. I feel very angry with my government.

You campaigned for the Green Party at the last election, so your comments are no surprise. Good on you for having political beliefs and advocating them. You did the right thing by appearing at the Green Party campaign launch and advocating a vote for them.

But again your choice of forum to talk politics is perhaps not the best. A campaign launch is an excellent choice to talk politics. A global literary festival seems rather inappropriate for you to rage against the so called neo-liberal agenda in New Zealand. Also I would make the point that the moment anyone starts ranting about neo-liberalism, I regard that as a sad victory of sloganeering over substance.

So my unsolicited advice to you is not to stop saying what you believe. Far from it. But to perhaps reflect on what speech is most appropriate for what occasion.  If an All Black in 2008 had got up at an international test match and devoted his after match comments to how much he hated the nanny state policies of the then Labour Government, well they would have been criticised greatly also. To quote Ecclesiastes 3:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens

Also I noted last year you said you would be happy to taxed at 40% to help young Kiwis. You may be unaware of this, but you can voluntarily pay more tax than you are obliged to. Just calculate the extra 7% on your income and send it to The Treasury, 1 The Terrace, Wellington and I am sure they will send you a receipt.

PS – I look forward to your next book.

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General Debate 29 January 2015

January 29th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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The benefit cap in the UK

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

The Express reports:

MORE than 50,000 workless families have had their benefits cut because they were getting more from the state than the average worker brings home, official figures revealed yesterday.

And to prove that the Government’s radical reforms are working some 12,000 of them have been spurred into finding jobs. 

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said it showed the “staggering” positive impact of the decision to cap benefits for most unemployed households. 

Some 51,200 non-pensioner families have had benefits reduced since April 2013 because they were getting more than £500 a week from the state for couples and lone parents or £350 for single adults, the Work and Pensions Department report revealed.

Nearly half of those affected by having their Housing Benefit cut to bring their total benefits below £26,000 were in London, thanks to high rents in the capital attracting state subsidy.

The NZ Government should look at a cap also, so that people in work are NOT getting less than those on welfare.

But a few saw their benefits reduced by as much as £600 a week – which meant they had been getting £57,000 a year from the state which a worker would need a salary of £74,000 to bring home after tax.

That’s a staggering amount.

The UK Government has said that if they get re-elected, they will reduce the cap from £26,000 to £23,000.

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Google’s translation software goes homophobic

January 28th, 2015 at 8:44 pm by Lindsay Addie

Many internet users will have used Google’s translator from inside their web browser. It seems that Google have been forced to apologise after being inundated with complaints about how the software has been translating the word ‘gay’.

The reason the complaint was made is as follows.

LGBT equality group All Out said in a statement yesterday: “Imagine learning English and being taught to say hateful insults instead of neutral language for ‘gay’. Google Translate – used by over 500 million people every month – was suggesting slurs as synonyms for the word ‘gay’.”

As the graphic shows the software for whatever reason starting spitting some unwanted terms for gays.

google_gay

Source: Attitude.co.uk

Over 50,000 people signed the petition complaining to Google.

Google’s official response.

As soon as we were informed that some of our translations for certain terms were serving inappropriate results, we immediately began working to fix the issue. We apologise for any offence this has caused people.

Our systems produce translations automatically based on existing translations on the web, so we appreciate when users point out issues such as this.

All this is rather odd to say the least. I’m not sure whether or not the translator went ‘homophobic’ on its own or there was malicious intent from one of the programmers. I suppose people have the right to be offended but there is that old saying about “sticks and stones will break my bones etc……”

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Swney pleads guilty

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

NewstalkZb reports:

Former Auckland Heart of the City boss Alex Swney has today admitted to tax evasion charges.

The 57 year old was fighting the accusations he had $1.8 million worth of unpaid taxes …. but he’s now abandoned the chance of a judge-alone trial and will be sentenced in April.

NZME court reporter Rob Kidd says the turn of events was a surprise.

“The IRD condensed the 39 charges that he originally faced to four representative charges that he eventually pleaded guilty to.”

The Heart of the City’s board also has launched civil proceedings against Swney, after an independent investigation.

This type of offending must be punished with a custodial sentence. This was deliberate fraud over the best part of a decade.

The fact Swney headed up a business lobby group makes it worse.

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Social Housing announcements

January 28th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The release is here and speech here. Details include:

  • The Government will increase funding for social house subsidies from about 62,000 places currently to around 65,000 places by 2017/18 at an estimated cost of another $40 million a year.
  • A $500,000 cash injection will be available for emergency housing, alongside a wider review of funding.
  • An additional 3,000 tenancy reviews in the next couple of years will focus on market or near-market renters.
  • Engagement and consultation will begin soon, including with community housing providers and iwi with a view to selling between 1,000 and 2,000 Housing New Zealand properties over the coming year for use as social housing run by approved community housing providers.
  • The Government is committed to maintaining at least 60,000 properties in Housing New Zealand’s portfolio by 2017.

So the Government is actual going to spend an extra $40 million a year helping low income families get into social housing with an income related rental. No doubt Labour and the Greens will decry this as neoliberalism and oppressing the poor!

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Little’s state of the nation speech

January 28th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Andrew Little’s speech isn’t (or wasn’t) on the Labour website, but The Standard has a copy of it. A few extracts and comments:

The Labour Party I lead is about jobs. Good jobs. Skilled jobs. Well paid jobs.

That’s what a good, fair and wealthy society is based on. And it’s what Labour stands for.

A job is about more than just an income. It’s about dignity.

Indeed, which is why welfare reform is so important.

And it’s why the next Labour government will make sure New Zealand has the lowest rate of unemployment in the developed world.

Let me say that again – the next Labour government will make sure that New Zealand has the lowest rate of unemployment in the developed world.

No Government can guarantee that, or control that. It’s a silly useless pledge. The level of unemployment can be impacted by government policies, but the main influence is how well individual businesses are doing. They are the ones that crate jobs – not the Government.

A lot of people don’t know that small businesses were responsible for nearly one third of New Zealand’s economy last year.

And that 41% of the jobs created last year were created in firms with fewer than 20 employees.

And yet the question of how we can help these vital businesses to grow is very rarely at the top of the political agenda.

Well, I want to change that.

Because as much as small business does now, I want them to do more.

Excellent. So will Labour announce they no longer plan to scrap 90 day trials for small businesses (now available to all businesses). This is credited by many small businesses as giving them the confidence to hire an extra staff member. Without a 90 day trial the cost of a bad hire can be crippling to a small business.

Will Labour continue with its policy to have a massive increase in the minimum wage, which will reduce employment with small businesses who are least able to pass increased costs on?

Rhetoric is easy, but policies are what counts.

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Will Abbott be rolled?

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

News.com.au reports:

The results from the Queensland election will be in. If it goes badly for Campbell Newman, the federal Liberal Party herd could stampede, taking out the Prime Minister.

The loss of Victoria is still fresh in their minds.

Whether the Liberal National Party in Queensland is defeated, or seriously degraded, and whether it was directly attributable to Abbott or not, his disconnect with the Australian public is now an established national talking point.

When people from the Right and the Left of politics, both inside the parties and out, share the view that he is badly out of touch, he has a serious problem.

Julie Bishop does not. As Abbott was announcing the knighthood of Prince Philip, the Foreign Minister was in Kabul, Afghanistan, wearing a helmet and ballistic vest, talking to the troops.

This was just 24 hours after a huge roadside bomb went off near the Aussie camp. Bishop said she was glad to be there. Back home, Abbott was doing a Robert Menzies impersonation.

Bishop seems the only likely replacement for Abbott. Joe Hockey carries heavy budget baggage; Malcolm Turnbull is not trusted by his party; and Scott Morrison might be too hard-bitten — or too unknown — for public consumption.

The knighthood to Prince Philip may be the final straw. It isn’t that honouring the Prince was wrong (we made him ONZ in 2012), but that to do it on Australia Day, and as part of the first batch of restored titular honours. The fact it was a titular honour also adds to the ridicule – knighting a Duke!

He has been tone deaf on a number of issues, such as claiming the best thing his Government has done for women is abolish the carbon tax as they do more of the shopping (paraphrased).

I’ve met Julie Bishop. She is a formidable politician (was Deputy to three different leaders) and has wide spread respect and support. She could well end up Prime Minister this year.

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Meet the UK Greens

January 28th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Watch Natalie Bennett, the Leader of the UK Greens (another great export from Australia). Her segment starts at just after four minutes. We learn:

  • Their citizen’s income policy will cost 280 billion pounds
  • It should not be a crime to belong to ISIL, al-Qaida or the IRA
  • Promotes a tax on turnover, not profits
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Cutting welfare helps job growth

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

Five Thirty Eight reports:

Title: “The Impact of Unemployment Benefit Extensions on Employment: The 2014 Employment Miracle?”

Authors: Marcus Hagedorn, Iourii Manovskii, Kurt Mitman

What they found: The elimination of emergency unemployment benefits at the end of 2013 played a major role in spurring the subsequent acceleration in job growth in 2014.

Why it matters: When the recession struck in 2008, Congress voted to extend unemployment benefits beyond the standard 27 weeks offered by most states. The program was gradually pared back during the recovery, and at the end of 2013, Congress allowed it to expire entirely. Many conservative economists said the program was doing more harm than good by providing the long-term jobless an incentive not to look as hard for work. Liberal economists were more skeptical, as was I; in an article last spring, I found little evidence that the end of emergency benefits was pushing the jobless back to work. But in this paper, the authors argue that conservatives were right and that the cutoff of benefits helps explain the surge in hiring in 2014. They use county-level data to show that places where the reduction in benefits was greatest also experienced the greatest job gains. They estimate that the policy change led to the creation of 1.8 million jobs in 2014, and that nearly 1 million of those jobs were filled by workers who otherwise would have stayed out of the labor market.

That’s a compelling figure. Maybe we should have a limit also for how long one can stay on a benefit?

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A Labor leader goes to fight in Syria

January 28th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

WA Today reports:

The head of the Northern Territory branch of the Labor party has reportedly flown overseas to fight in Syria against terror group Islamic State.

Matthew Gardiner, who also served as a secretary in the United Voice union and a treasurer in peak body Unions NT, left the country several weeks ago to fight with Kurdish militants, the ABC reports.

It’s believed Mr Gardiner, 43, who served with the Australian Army in Somalia in the 1990s, was able to leave Australia because he was not on any watch list.

It is illegal to fight in Syria on any side of the conflict against Islamic State. …

Although Mr Gardiner resigned from his position at United Voice, he remains the NT branch president of the Labor Party. He has not been seen for weeks and his mobile phone is switched off.

Amazing that such a senior political figure would just decide to go to Syria to join the conflict.

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The far left “saviour” of Greece does a coalition with the far right

January 28th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Alexis Tsipras was sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Greece, after his radical left-wing movement forged an unwieldy alliance with a far-right party. …

Tsipras’s party, Syriza, scored a historic victory in Greece’s election but fell short of an outright majority in the 300-seat Parliament, gaining 149 seats. While he moved quickly to arrange an awkward coalition with the Independent Greeks party, who won 13 seats, it immediately raised doubts over the longevity of the new Government.

The Independent Greeks leader claimed last month that Jews in Greek pay less tax than other citizens. So the communists have gone into alliance with an anti-semitic nationalist party. This will not end well.

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The soldier Obama swapped for five terrorists to be tried for desertion

January 28th, 2015 at 8:09 am by Lindsay Addie

Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl of the US Army a high profile captive of Haqqani terrorists in Afghanistan for five years who was then swapped by the Obama administration for five terrorists is according to NBC News going to be charged with deserting his post (before he was captured).

According to the officials, the desertion charges would be based on allegations that Bergdahl abandoned his remote outpost in June 2009 to avoid hazardous duty or important service, which are grounds for charges of desertion under the Uniform Military Code of Justice, or UCMJ. According to one senior official, Bergdahl’s actions in Afghanistan go well beyond the lesser offense of AWOL, absent without leave, because he allegedly abandoned his post “in the middle of a combat zone, potentially putting the lives of his fellows soldiers at risk.”

The charges will apparently not allege that Bergdahl left with the intent never to return. Bergdahl was reportedly captured by the Haqqani terrorist network in Pakistan. He was released in a prisoner swap for five Taliban commanders held at Guantanamo Bay in May.

Sources tell NBC News that the fact that Bergdahl was held captive may be taken into consideration when any punishment is handed out.

The New York Daily News has the biographies of the five terrorists who were swapped for Bergdahl (See the graphic in the middle of the page). I cannot see why there was any rush to release any of them. Seems a bit soft to me.

Barack Obama has some tricky questions to answer bearing in mind that Bergdahl is most likely a deserter. Also how was this guy thought to be worth five terrorists? This is definitely potentially embarrassing for the President seeing he made the release of Bergdahl a high profile event by inviting the soldiers parents to the White House.

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General Debate 28 January 2015

January 28th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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An electoral petition to get him out of prison for a few days

January 28th, 2015 at 6:11 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key’s lawyer has dismissed criminal litigator Arthur Taylor’s claim that Key unlawfully won the Helensville electorate, saying there’s “no evidence to substantiate his claims”. 

Taylor, a serving prisoner with more than 150 convictions, is petitioning the court claiming Key’s election as MP for Helensville was unlawful because about 650 prisoners at Auckland Prison at Paremoremo were excluded from voting in the electorate. 

He challenged the result on the grounds that the Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Act 2010 was invalid because it prevented about 8600 prisoners in the country’s jails from registering or voting.

After hearing Taylor’s arguments in the High Court at Auckland today, Key’s counsel Peter Kiely made his opening submissions this afternoon, saying there was no evidence to support Taylor’s claims. 

Taylor was not registered to vote in last year’s election, was not entitled to vote and therefore “has no standing” to challenge the Helensville result, Kiely said.  

Taylor is likely to never be released from prison. So he does this various lawsuits as a way to get out occasionally. It’s a joke electoral petition with no possibility of success.

Earlier today, Taylor argued that there was no rational reason to disqualify prisoners from voting, saying punishment wasn’t a legitimate reason, claiming it served the political interests of National to ban prisoner votes, and that the knock-on effect was that many prisoners wouldn’t bother voting once they were released from prison either. 

It doesn’t matter whether or not you think prisoners should be able to vote. The law was changed so they could not. An electoral petition should be about if the law was followed, not a way for someone to say they don’t like the law.

Taylor protested the fact he wasn’t provided a desk in court, unlike the four lawyers representing Key and the Crown, and two friends of the court, who had claimed all the available bench space in the small courtroom.  

He was instead given a desk in the prisoner’s dock for his paperwork.

Poor diddums.

Taylor is presenting his case at the three-day hearing in front of Justice Geoffrey Venning, Justice Helen Winkelmann and Justice Paul Heath despite Justice Rebecca Ellis ruling earlier in September that prisoners being denied the right to vote wasn’t inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Ac

Three days? Ridiculous.

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Under half of super rich pay top tax rate

January 27th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealand’s super-rich were found liable for an extra $77 million of tax in the last financial year.

The country’s most well-off have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in extra tax to Inland Revenue since it set up its high-wealth individual unit in 2003.

Those who come under the scrutiny of this IRD division must have, or be in control of, more than $50 million.

According to IRD’s investigation and advice manager Tracey Lloyd, the unit has identified 200 people who met the criteria.

Of these 200 people, 93 declared their personal income in the 2013 financial year as less than $70,000 – the point at which one is required pay the top tax rate of 33 cents in the dollar.

This is why increasing the top tax rate doesn’t increase tax revenue, but merely increases tax avoidance. The best tax system is low rates with a broad base.

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NZ The Way You Want It

January 27th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

ACT have borrowed a phrase (but not a policy!) from Sir Robert Muldoon and are running a competition for people to state the ay they want New Zealand.

At the Love New Zealand The Way You Want It website, you can submit a video of up to five minutes or a wirrten submission of up to 500 words saying how you would like NZ to be. The top five entries will win $500 each (and present their ideas to the ACT conference) and the overall winner wins $2,000.

Entries close on 7 February.

Some examples of what people might want are:

10 million people? More money? More dolphins, fewer rednecks? Cheaper houses? Old values? New ideas? Better careers? Finally finish off tall poppy?

My vision would be a New Zealand with no tax avoidance as the top personal and company tax rates are no greater than 25%, and with full employment due to the influx of investment.

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Police told off for being helpful

January 27th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Plymouth police have been rapped over the knuckles by national headquarters for taking a hospitable approach to those asking for a breath test.

It was reported earlier this month that people often entered the station asking to be tested. Officers, if not too busy, were happy to oblige.

A very sensible approach, helping ensure people don’t break the law.

However, New Plymouth police have now been told their approach does not line up with national policy – and that they should stop immediately.

“While these staff have acted in good faith and with the best of intentions, there is a risk if for example someone initially passes a test, then drives and is found later to be over the limit, or is involved in a crash, which could have tragic consequences,” Central Districts Acting District Commander Inspector Mark Harrison said.

So the Police would rather cover their arse, than help people not break the law.

Harrison said the best advice to those out socialising was “to make the choice whether to drink or drive – not both.”

 

That is not what the law says. Who appointed them moral guardians?

Sergeant Bruce Irvine said at the time that those with any level of alcohol on their breath were advised not to drive because test results could change within minutes.

“We will always say this is here and now; if in 30 minutes you go and drive it could be different,” he said. “It’s not a get-out-of-jail free card. We advise unless you’re breathing zero it’s not worth taking the risk.”

Senior Sergeant Robbie O’Keefe said at the time that people who came in were often unsure if they were over or under and wanted to do the right thing.

If a test deterred them from driving it was a good thing, he said.

The local Police were acting very sensibly – testing those who wanted it, but warning them they should not drive anyway. A pity the Police hierarchy would rather people get arrested after the fact, than make it easy for people to make an informed decision about whether it is safe to legally drive.

 

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Two nominees for Labour President

January 27th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An Auckland University lecturer Nigel Haworth and City Vision chair Robert Gallagher have put themselves forward to be the Labour Party’s next President.

Professor Haworth lamented in 2012 that China, India and Russia joining the global economy in the last few decades, as it has been bad for ordinary working people. Never mind the fact that it lifted hundreds of millions in those countries out of poverty and starvation.

Gallagher is an experienced campaigner and I’d say the favourite. He has strong support in Auckland. I think both will struggle to boost fundraising though, which is a real weakness for Labour currently.

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Why did they not complain about half mast for Chavez?

January 27th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Government’s decision to lower New Zealand flags to mark the death of the King of Saudi Arabia has drawn criticism because of the kingdom’s poor human rights record.

Prime Minister John Key requested the flag on all Government and public buildings – including the Auckland Harbour Bridge and Parliament – be flown at half mast yesterday.

Writer and commentator Hamish Keith hit out at the decision on Twitter, saying; “We are flying flags at half mast in ‘respect’ for a torturing misogynist human rights flaunting autocrat – Je suis un hypocrite.”

The outrage seems to very selective. It is basically near-automatic that we do half mast flags for the death of any current head of state. In 2013 we did it for the death of Hugo Chavez, whose record on human rights was also pretty appalling. It is done not for the person, but for the country.

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Brown has one vote!

January 27th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has told an inner circle of friends and advisers he plans to seek re-election next year.

Sources have told the Herald that Mr Brown made the decision over the summer holiday with the support of his wife, Shan Inglis.

That’s one vote for him. Not sure he’ll get much more than that.

But rather than throw their weight behind the under-fire mayor, it is understood some supporters have told him he has no chance of winning a third term and should step aside.

They do not see any way back for Mr Brown, who has struggled in the wake of an extramarital affair and widespread criticism over management of the city’s finances.

I doubt Brown would ever come second. Maybe third.

One source said if Mr Brown does stand, he needed to start planning his campaign and fundraising. This would be more difficult at the next election, with law changes preventing mayoral candidates keeping donors’ identities secret.

More than $750,000 was raised through the “New Auckland Council Trust” for Mr Brown’s first two Super City campaigns.

Who’s going to donate money to Brown now that he can’t hide it in a trust?

On the left, Mr Brown could be replaced by his increasingly popular deputy, Penny Hulse, or Mt Roskill MP and former Labour leader Phil Goff.

Ms Hulse, who went on a health kick last year and lifted her profile outside her West Auckland base, has expressed interest in the mayoralty but said she would never stand against Mr Brown.

“Would I have a crack at the top job? I wouldn’t discount it, but there is an awful amount of water to flow under the bridge and a hell of a lot of time before the next election,” she told the Herald in October.

Yesterday, Mr Goff reiterated a statement he made before Christmas that he would consider contesting the mayoralty next year “but I don’t believe that is where my career path is currently taking me”.

I think Goff will stand. Why would he want a fourth term in Opposition?

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70 years since Auschwitz liberated

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

The Herald reports:

Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was a “disgrace” that Jews in Germany faced insults, threats or violence, as she marked 70 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

Merkel joined survivors of the former camp, created by Nazi Germany in southern Poland, for a somber and moving event in the German capital ahead of Tuesday’s anniversary.

Auschwitz is a “warning” of what people can do to each other, Merkel said, adding that the camp – the site of the largest single number of murders committed during World War II – had been an “atrocious departure” in the course of history.

She said more than 100,000 Jews have today made Germany their home but that it was “unfortunately not without cause” that some feared insult or assault.

“It’s a disgrace that people in Germany are abused, threatened or attacked when they indicate somehow they are Jewish or when they side with the state of Israel,” she said, to applause.

Merkel said the fact that synagogues and Jewish institutions had to be guarded by police was like a “stain on our country”.

Sadly this is not just a problem in Germany.  In Sweden two journalists walked around with a Star of David and a kipah.

This time it was Peter Lindgren’s turn to don a kippah and Star of David chain around his neck and head into town. The result: “He received direct threats as he walked through the city,” according to expressen.se.

Lindgren, walking with a hidden camera and microphone alongside, recorded every step. The report showed the reporter enduring verbal abuse by a man who called him a “Jewish s***” and told him to “leave.” Another person hit him and shouted “Satan Jew,” at him.

As they approached the the city’s neighborhoods with higher Muslim populations, the threats only increased. Some 20 percent of the 300,000 residents of Sweden’s third-largest city are Muslim, according to statistics.

“Then a whole gang came along to threaten the ‘Jewish’ reporter,” while occupants of neighboring homes shouted abuse at him. The broadcast caused a public storm in Sweden, with reactions by public figures, local Jewish organizations and international groups.

The clip, which was broadcast on Sweden’s national television, examined the degree of threats Malmo’s Jews face. The city is infamous for having the largest number of anti-Semitic incidents in the country, many of them perpetrated by members of the Muslim community.

According to the report, “many of [Malmo’s remaining Jews] are afraid to leave their homes; many want to leave the city and do not want their children to grow up there.”

 

Sadly the exodus of Jews from Europe is likely to increase.

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Threats against a journalist

January 27th, 2015 at 9:08 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Police are investigating a complaint from controversial columnist Rachel Stewart after a threatening hand-written message was left in her letterbox and her social media account was inundated with abusive posts.

Stewart says she has been subjected to a string of malicious messages this week, including threats to rape and kill her, following the publication of her fortnightly opinion piece in Fairfax papers, among them the Manawatu Standard, on Monday.

This week’s article, headlined “That high-pitched whining must stop”, talked about irrigation schemes, water quality, the low milk payout, workplace regulations, suicide, stress and farmers complying with the law.

However, the backlash to the article turned sinister, and Stewart says “sexist, standover tactics and personal slurs” were posted from accounts using pen-names and then circulated via Twitter by prominent members of New Zealand’s farming community. A hand-written anonymous note saying: “See we not so DumB we Don’t No where u live. Bitch.[sic]” was also delivered to Stewart’s house, prompting her to lay a complaint and for police to launch an investigation.

There is a difference between online abuse (which is rather common) and an actual note delivered to your home address which is stalkerish and scary. There is no room for such threats in our country – and it has been rightfully referred to the Police.

Stewart’s column was puerile and offensive. Dealing with the issue of farmer suicide by saying “Can’t stand the heat? Get out of the kitchen” reflects badly on her. However you don’t respond to such crap with purported threats to rape or kill, which is also entirely unacceptable.

A better response to Stewart’s column would be to invite her to come work on a farm for a month or so, and deal with getting up at 5 am seven days a week, than abusing her, and especially threatening her.

UPDATE: A commenter claims that Stewart is a former office holder of Federated Farmers. Regardless, my point stands that outreach and dialogue is preferable to abuse.

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General Debate 27 January 2015

January 27th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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