The Dodd-Frank Act: Good intentions and a lot of complexity

January 17th, 2015 at 4:31 pm by Lindsay Addie

Introduction

Post the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008 and collapse of Wall Street investment banks and institutions US lawmakers felt the need to respond to the GFC with new laws for the financial sector. Prominent Democrats Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank introduced a bill to the US Congress which became The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act 2010 (aka Dodd-Frank). This Act was signed into law by Barack Obama. As the description on the first page of the legislation shows it certainly has laudable goals.

To promote the financial stability of the United States by improving accountability and transparency in the financial system, to end ‘‘too big to fail’’, to protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts, to protect consumers from abusive financial services practices, and for other purposes.

It is not possible in a blog post such as this one to give a blow-by-blow account of this law but a summary can be found here.

The chart below shows the different government powers and agencies responsible for Dodd-Frank and their relationships.

Dodd-Frank

Source: JPMorgan Chase: Found here.

Complex Regulations

The biggest criticism of Dodd-Frank is that it contains a huge amount of regulation and bureaucracy. So are these criticisms justified and how many are included? One of the leading sources of information about Dodd-Frank is a US law Firm Davis Polk who maintain a website with the latest information on this law.

It is important to understand that writing of rules for Dodd-Frank is an ongoing process with the total according to Davis Polk being 398. The graphic below where this process is at as of 1st December 2014.

DF_rulingmaking

Source: Davis Polk: Found here.

So the next obvious question is they’re still writing these rules so why is that such a big deal? The answer is the number of agencies responsible for writing the rules and their mind boggling complexity. The Economist in a 2012 article on Dodd-Frank gives an example.

SECTIONS 404 and 406 of the Dodd-Frank law of July 2010 add up to just a couple of pages. On October 31st last year [2011] the agencies overseeing America’s financial system turned those few pages into a form to be filled out by hedge funds and some other firms; that form ran to 192 pages. The cost of filling it out, according to an informal survey of hedge-fund managers, will be $100,000-150,000 for each firm the first time it does it. After having done it once, those costs might drop to $40,000 in every later year.

The article then goes on to talk about the so-called ‘Volcker Rule’.

Take the transformation of 11 pages of Dodd-Frank into the so-called “Volcker rule”, which is intended to reduce banks’ ability to take excessive risks by restricting proprietary trading and investments in hedge funds and private equity. In November four of the five federal agencies charged with enacting this rule jointly put forward a 298-page proposal which is, in the words of a banker publicly supportive of Dodd-Frank, “unintelligible any way you read it”. It includes 383 explicit questions for firms which, if read closely, break down into 1,420 sub-questions, according to Davis Polk, a law firm. The interactive Volcker “rule map” Davis Polk has produced for its clients has 355 distinct steps.

These two examples give a good idea of the problem! I’ve got no sympathy for the banks but that is crazy bureaucracy  at work.

Davis Polk published a series of graphics on some of the mind boggling numbers regarding this law (correct as of July 1st 2013).

  • 13,789 pages of rules.
  • 15 million words of rules.
  • The rules are equal to 28 copies of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.
  • The longest rule is 342 pages long.

Now naturally all these rules and complex regulations are a dream come true for bureaucrats and lawyers!

Comment

When looking at this law it is clear there were good intentions at work but it is hard to see how such complex over the top law making is an answer. The length of some of the rules is just insanity. As someone who believes in small government I fail see how such an approach as taken here is an ideal way to deal with the problems at hand and make US financial institutions accountable in an efficient manner.

It will be fascinating to watch progress in 2015 as additional complex rules are added.

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General Debate 17 January 2015

January 17th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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General Debate 16 January 2015

January 16th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Blog Break

January 16th, 2015 at 6:55 am by David Farrar

I’m off the grid for the next 7 days or so. Hence no blog posts from me for the next week. Enjoy the break.

No tag for this post.

Labour’s media targets

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

Stuff reports:

Expect to see Labour leader Andrew Little in a good light on the 6pm television news – or questions to be asked at the top of his media unit.

Little is advertising for a new chief press secretary to head the party’s media and communications strategy, and the successful applicant is expected to ensure Little appears “in a positive story on the 6pm news at least twice a week”.

Have TVNZ and TV3 signed up to this?

Other key targets put emphasis on social media, including 100,000 “likes” for the party’s Facebook page, up from about 38,000 now, and 40,000 “likes” for Little’s Facebook page by the 2017 election. It currently boasts 10,422 “likes”.

Will buying likes and followers count?

The advertisement has already prompted senior press gallery reporters to plot creative ways to thwart another expected result – weekly meetings with key press gallery journalists.

And who is defined as key?

Little’s chief of staff, Matt McCarten, said the targets were guidelines and the reference to the 6pm news was a “throwaway comment” designed to show the aim was to be proactive, not just reactive, in the news.

A throwaway comment in a formal job description?

A source said the Facebook page was fed by the parliamentary party as well as the party’s head office, so setting targets for the new media boss, who will report to McCarten but is employed by Parliamentary Service, did not breach Parliament’s funding rules. 

I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

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Would they prefer guns?

January 15th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Police have revealed they fired a Taser stun-gun at an offender five times – the latest incident that has Taser critics calling for a review of its use.

The case is contained in statistics released by police about Taser use in the first half of last year.

A police spokesman said the incident involved a violent offender resisting arrest and fighting with an officer in the Counties-Manukau district with the Taser being pressed directly against the body of the suspect in “contact stun” mode.

“While the Taser was discharged [in contact stun mode] five times, three made contact with the person,” the spokesman said.

“Of the three which made contact, the first two were not effective in bringing the person under control, while the third was effective in stopping the violent behaviour.”

Seems to me the only problem is the taser isn’t strong enough if it doesn’t stop them first time.

Locke said: “It would be good for the Independent Police Conduct Authority [IPCA] to have a thorough review of the police use of Tasers to see whether they are being overused, or inappropriately used – such as to help the police get handcuffs on rather than in really dangerous situations.”

Police statistics showed one person was being Tasered every three days, he said.

Don’t get violent with Police and they won’t taser you. Reasonably simple.

But police say the Taser is fired only once for every eight times it’s unholstered and it is effective for defusing threatening and violent confrontations.

That’s a great stat.

“Taser remains a very effective non-lethal tactical option for use in difficult and dangerous situations, and all use of Taser is reviewed by police and is reported publicly.”

Without tasers, you would either have more offenders being shot, or more Police being assaulted.

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Punked

January 15th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An Instagram picture which appeared to show the Prime Minister’s son Max Key with a suspected felon turned out to be a teenage hoax.

Max Key this week posted a picture online of himself at a golf course with whom he claimed was Dan Bilzerian, an American trust fund beneficiary, poker player and part-time actor who is facing criminal charges in the US.

“Having a hack with @danbilzerian”, the photograph’s caption says.

The picture fooled a few observers, including the Herald, TVNZ and others.

Commenters on the Instagram picture ranged from confused – “Is that him?” – to disgusted.

Kiwi singer Lorde expressed her distaste below the photograph: “Bleugh”.

The bearded person is actually a friend of Max’s who has a strikingly similar appearance to Bilzerian.

Maybe the lesson for the media is that pictures on a teenager’s Instagram feed are not really news.

A rather good punking.

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General Debate 15 January 2015

January 15th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Are we allowed to sink them?

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

The Herald reports:

New Zealand’s navy is in a standoff with two fishing vessels in the Southern Ocean after the ships refused to let defence officials on board.

The HMNZS Wellington was given permission overnight to board the vessels, which were flagged to Equatorial Guinea and were not legally permitted to fish in the region.

But attempts to board two of the ships and inspect their catch have so far failed.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully said: “The HMNZS Wellington attempted to exercise its legitimate right to board the Yongding and the Songhua earlier today, but the vessels refused to cooperate.

“Due to the conditions and the evasive tactics of the masters it was not possible to safely board these vessels.”

Don’t we have guns? Are we allowed to use them?

Equatorial Guinea told New Zealand officials that they believed the vessels were fishing illegally and agreed that the navy should board the ships and verify their flag status.

New Zealand was also working with Interpol to prevent the catch from being offloaded at nearby ports, and was co-operating with Spanish authorities to investigate the links between the ships and a Spanish-based syndicate called Vidal Armadores SA.

Good.

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Kenya Day 4 morning

January 14th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

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The final drive started with more lions – or a lioness in this case. Look at the power in that body.

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She has a good lookout there.

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While this lion surveys his domain.

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And then has a sleep.

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A few of the cubs.

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And a couple more enjoying the shade.

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A passing elephant.

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And then the rest of the family turns up.

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I adore the small baby elephants. So cute.

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This Topi standing guard.

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A panoramic shot in the area they shot Out of Africa.

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Me enjoying the tree shade.

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Some startled antelopes.

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On the way home we see some new lions – three youngish brothers. They will have to leave the area soon as they grow up.

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And hard to see any detail, but a multicoloured lizard on the rock. Sadly my camera died during the trip, so photos have been from the iPhone only which has limited zoom.

That was the last safari drive, and am now back in Nairobi.

 

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Little supports zero tolerance for speeding

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

Stuff reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little labelled the review “flakey”.

Police needed time to investigate the circumstances of each accident, before leaping to any conclusions, he said. 

“[For Woodhouse] to go onto a talk-back show and get roasted and decide you are going to do something then it looks, frankly, just a little bit flakey to me,” Little said.

“If there is a debate about whether there should be a more varied range of speed limits – some open roads can accommodate 110km per hour and some can’t – that is a separate debate and we should have that at some point.

“But I am a little bit uncomfortable about this climbing into the police for enforcing the speed limits.”

Little backed police, saying he saw no problem in  “sending a signal when you know that there are peak travel times, saying that you are going to strictly enforce the law.”

So Labour’s policy is that you should be ticketed for driving at 101km/hr in a 100 km/hr zone if it is a holiday period!

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The problem is not just terrorism

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

The Guardian reported:

Saudi Arabia is remaining silent in the face of global outrage at the public flogging of the jailed blogger Raif Badawi, who received the first 50 of 1,000 lashes on Friday, part of his punishment for running a liberal website devoted to freedom of speech in the conservative kingdom. …

Saudi Arabia joined other Arab and Muslim countries in condemning the murder of 12 people at the Paris satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo but angry comments highlighted its double standard in meting out a cruel punishment to a man who was accused of insulting Islam.

The two acts are not the same, but they are part of the same problem. There is almost universal condemation of the Islamist terrorists who killed the cartoonists because they thought the cartoonists had insulated Islam. It was an extra-judicial killing, designed to terrorise.

However when countries like Saudia Arabia have laws which allow judicial torture and even killing of people who offend Islam, then it can hardly be surprising that some Muslims get the idea that offending Islam is something that should be punishable by death – even in non-Muslim countries.

The solution is that there should be no criminal sanction anywhere for offending any religion. The only sanction for offending a religion, should be excommunication from that religion. Any religion that needs to terrorise people into being nice about it, is a pretty lame religion in my view. And that applies just as much to state sanctioned terror, as that done by terrorists.

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David Cameron losing it?

January 14th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Use Snapchat or WhatsApp to keep in touch with British relatives? You might want to enjoy that while it lasts.

As the British general election campaign begins and European tension mounts over the recent Paris attacks, Prime Minister David Cameron has suggested banning encrypted messaging services if British intelligence agencies were not allowed access to the communications. Snapchat, Apple’s iMessage, and WhatsApp all encrypt the messages sent through their applications, along with innumerable other services.

“Are we going to allow a means of communications which it simply isn’t possible to read?” he asked during a campaign speech. “My answer to that is: ‘No, we must not.'”

I like a lot of what David Cameron has done, but he has increasingly authoritarian tendencies when it comes to the Internet. Banning messaging that uses encryption on the Internet is nuts. I doubt it is possible, and it is definitely undesirable.

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FBI hate crime statistics

January 14th, 2015 at 9:42 am by Lindsay Addie

The FBI in December 2014 published the latest hate crime statistics which are released annually. The latest survey covers 2013.

Definition

A hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, Congress has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.” Hate itself is not a crime—and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties.

Methodology

The FBI has a detailed overview online of their methodology which can be found here. It is too long to discuss in depth here but here is an excerpt from the introduction.

The Hate Crime Statistics Program of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program collects data regarding criminal offenses that were motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, gender, gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, and were committed against persons, property, or society. (See below for information concerning new bias types, such as gender and gender identity, and other changes to the hate crime data collection.) Because motivation is subjective, it is sometimes difficult to know with certainty whether a crime resulted from the offender’s bias. Moreover, the presence of bias alone does not necessarily mean that a crime can be considered a hate crime.

Single bias hate crimes

FBI_HC Chart

Single bias hate crime statistics – Source FBI

Bias Categories

These have been summarized for this post for reasons of brevity. A more detailed breakdown can be found here.

Racial

In 2013, there were 3,563 victims of racially motivated hate crime.

  • 66.5 percent were victims of crimes motivated by their offenders’ anti-Black or African American bias.
  • 21.2 percent were victims of anti-White bias.
  • 4.6 percent were victims of anti-Asian bias.
  • 4.5 percent were victims of  anti-American Indian or Alaska Native bias.

Sexual Orientation

1,461 victims were targeted due to sexual-orientation bias.

  • 60.9 percent were victims of crimes motivated by their offenders’ anti-gay (male) bias.
  • 22.5 percent were victims of anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (mixed group) bias.
  • 13.1 percent were victims of anti-lesbian bias.

Religious

There were 1,223 victims of anti-religious hate crimes.

  • 60.3 percent were victims of crimes motivated by their offenders’ anti-Jewish bias.
  • 13.7 percent were victims of anti-Islamic (Muslim) bias.
  • 6.1 percent were victims of anti-Catholic bias.
  • 4.3 percent were victims of bias against groups of individuals of varying religions (anti-multiple religions, group).
  • 3.8 percent were victims of anti-Protestant bias.

The race of known hate crime offenders

In  2013 the FBI reports that there were 5814 known hate crime offenders. The breakdown of the race of these offenders is as follows.

  • 52.4 percent were White.
  • 24.3 percent were Black or African American.
  • 7.0 percent were groups made up of individuals of various races (Group of Multiple Races).
  • 0.8 percent (49 offenders) were American Indian or Alaska Native.
  • 0.7 percent (40 offenders) were Asian.
  • 0.1 percent (3 offenders) were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.
  • 14.8 percent were unknown.

Comment

There are some revealing statistics here including:

1. Anti black/African American bias is significant factor in racial crimes.
2. Gay hate crimes (male) are much more prevalent than transgender, lesbian, or bisexual hate crimes.
3. Anti-Jewish hate crimes are much more common in the USA than those against Muslims.

The good news is according the FBI hate crimes are down from 2012.

It would be interesting to see a geographic breakdown of where these hate crimes are being committed.

[UPDATE]: Added a section to the post on FBI data of the race of known hate crime offenders in 2013.

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Latest Charlie Hebdo Front Cover

January 14th, 2015 at 9:00 am by Kokila Patel

707192-une-charlie-png

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General Debate 14 January 2014

January 14th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Kenya Day 3 afternoon

January 14th, 2015 at 12:03 am by David Farrar

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Some baboons nearby as we set off.

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Antelopes running away.

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Then we saw our friend the cheetah again. Looking hungry after being robbed in the morning.

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This is a view of our campsite, from the plains. Such a great location and views.

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A lion sleeping on its back.

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An Eland, which is the largest type of antelope.

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A few Zebras.

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A giraffe walking in front of us.

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One of the things I love here is how most of the different animals just mingle together and are often in the same area.

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Nice of them to look at the camera.

Didn’t see too much this afternoon, but you can’t always get drives chock full of action like the morning one was.

 

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Fletcher resigns

January 13th, 2015 at 4:56 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Government Communications Security Bureau head Ian Fletcher is standing down after three years in the role.

GCSB Minister Chris Finlayson confirmed Mr Fletcher’s resignation this afternoon, saying it was “for family reasons”.

While there may be nothing at all to it, that phrase always makes me suspicious!

The minister said Mr Fletcher had decided that employing a new director would mean the same person could be involved in an upcoming statutory review of intelligence agencies and the implementation of any changes.

Makes sense, but is the the main reason?

Mr Little said Mr Fletcher’s three-year tenure had been a “rocky road” but noted that he had inherited some of the GCSB’s more problematic matters such as the fallout from the Kim Dotcom raid.

He said Mr Fletcher had done a “reasonably good job” leading the spying agency because New Zealand had not experienced the sort of cyber-attacks witnessed overseas.

I agree. The problems in the GCSB seem to have pre-dated Fletcher.

The Labour leader hoped the process of finding a new director was more transparent than the appointment of Mr Fletcher, which he said amounted to a shoulder-tap.

Fair to say that it would be better for the PM not to call any potential applicants directly. If he has names to suggest, he should just give them to the SSC to contact.

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Looks like zero tolerance to no longer be tolerated

January 13th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Police Minister Michael Woodhouse announced:

Police Minister Michael Woodhouse has asked New Zealand Police to undertake a review of the public messages that underpinned the 2014/15 Summer Road Safety campaign.

“While I firmly support Police’s zero tolerance for poor driving behaviour that can lead to death and injury on our roads, I also support the application of discretion as articulated in the 4kph summer tolerance used in fixed speed cameras and the vast majority of mobile devices,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“I have received considerable public feedback that the speed tolerance message was confusing which has led to some strong public opinions.

 

Considerable public feedback that the public don’t like having to check their speedos every 30 seconds to check they’re not 1 km/hr over the limit.

Good to see the Government listen to the public on this. Would have been better if they had told the Police early on it was a bad idea.

“While this is very much an operational matter for Police, I will be taking a close interest in ensuring the message about road safety is clear and unambiguous.

I predict the Police will reach the same conclusion as the Minister, and decide to get rid of the zero tolerance policy. If not, then they need a bollocking.

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General Debate 13 January 2014

January 13th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Islamist terror in Nigeria

January 13th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

After days of razing villages and massacres, Boko Haram finished the week with its most chilling atrocity.

As shoppers bustled through the market in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, a device worn by a 10-year-old girl exploded near the entrance. A witness said the child probably had no idea that a bomb had been strapped to her body.

The explosion just before lunch killed 20 including the girl and injured 18, according to the police.

Boko Haram did not claim responsibility for the attack immediately, but the Islamist insurgents have increasingly used girls as human bombs as they carve an African “Caliphate” from the plains of northern Nigeria.

What happened in France was terrible, but worth remembering that terrible terrible stuff is occuring in Nigeria also. Using a 10 year old as a (innocent) suicide bomber is something no decent human being should be part of.

When I read stories like this, I wish there was a heaven and hell, so that those responsible can spend eternity in the latter.

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Kenya Day 3 morning

January 13th, 2015 at 12:49 am by David Farrar

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This morning’s ride was possibly the best yet in terms of variety. We saw cheetahs, hyenas and lions all battling over a kill bye cheetahs.

First though we saw some zebras.

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Then a group of hyenas.

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The buffaloes are too big to be worried by the hyenas.

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And these two buffaloes were too busy PDAing to notice the hyenas. Incidentally they’re both boys!

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The hyenas found some hippo skin, left over from a hippo killed by a lion.

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A group of banded mongooses.

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This was an amazing sight. An elephant standing on hand legs only, reaching into a tree. It looks like he is trying to climb the tree!

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A couple of young bucks fighting.

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A zebra crossing.

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The normal pride of lions.

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We saw the pair of cheetahs again.

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And standing up.

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A wandering giraffe.

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A couple of crocodiles down at the river.

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The river, which is full of hippos and crocodiles.

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Having a morning coffee with the crocodiles behind me.

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A hyena lying in a pool. The mud suffocates the ticks.

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Then we saw the cheetahs hunting prey.

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And they caught a warthog.

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But then the hyenas turned up wanting to have it, even though the cheetahs caught it.

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Sadly the socialist hyenas won, and took it off the productive cheetahs

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But then a lion turned up and decided it was his, and charged the hyenas – which barely escaped.

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The lion then came towards the cheetahs and charged them. He was hungry and would have happily eaten cheetah instead. Luckily for them, they managed to just out-run the lion, who then sat down  and glared at them.

 

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Kenya Day 2 afternoon

January 12th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

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After lunch we discovered a congress of baboons just outside our tent.

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Then out on safari drive again and saw lost of antelopes.

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Buffaloes with some Great White Egrits on them.

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And Yellow-billed Oxpeckers on them also.

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A buffalo enjoying his mud pool.

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Antelopes also with birds around them to clean them.

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Two Southern Ground Hornbills

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We were fortunate enough to see a lion kill two afternoons in a row. The same pride caught another warthog. Here is a lioness just afterwards joining the others.

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Two Waterbucks having a public display of affection.

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An elephant just next to a bridge we passed over.

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Another great African sunset.

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Got back to the tent to see two giraffes just a couple of score metres away, just by the boundary fence,

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And then for good measure a hippo walked past also. Amazing to not just go out looking for animals, but to have them wander past your tent.

 

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The sad and the uplifting

January 12th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The sad is in the NZ Herald:

The least surprising thing about yesterday’s turn of events in Paris is that Jews are the target. Because when it comes to home-grown anti-Semitism, France leads the world.

A survey last year from the European Jewish Congress and Tel Aviv University found that France had more violent anti-Semitic incidents in 2013 than any other country in the world. Jews were the target of 40 per cent of all racist crimes in France in 2013 – even though they comprise less than 1 per cent of the population. Attacks on Jews have risen sevenfold since the Nineties.

No wonder Jewish emigration from France is accelerating. From being the largest Jewish community in the EU at the start of this decade, with a population of around 500,000, it is expected by Jewish community leaders to have fallen to 400,000 within a few years. That figure is thought by some to be too optimistic. Anecdotally, every French Jew I know has either already left or is working out how to leave. …

David Tibi, the then leader of Paris’s main Jewish umbrella group, left last July. As he told The Jewish Chronicle: “There is an atmosphere of anti-Semitism in the streets. My daughter was attacked in the tramway, so was my son. The aggressors made anti-Semitic comments and pushed them around. We no longer have a place in France.”

The Jewish school shooting in Toulouse in 2012, in which four people were murdered at point blank range by a French-born jihadist trained in the Middle East; the growing support for Marine Le Pen’s National Front; and the popularity of anti-Semitic figures such as the comedian Dieudonne, are all part of the undercurrent of anti-Semitism that frames French life. And more recently synagogues have been firebombed and Jewish areas attacked by mobs. Almost of all these attacks have been carried out by Muslims.

Very depressing and sad. As Jews leave France because it is no longer safe, I feel glad there is one country on Earth where they can immigrate as of right, and be safe.

But on the uplifting front:

Lassana, employed by the Hyper Casher where a hostage situation occurred Friday, had had the reflex to hide his customers from the armed terrorist. Hiding them had permitted the escape from Amedy Coulibaly.

He introduces himself as being a “Mali Muslim,” as was Amedy Coulibaly. Confronted by the heavily-armed terrorist in the kosher supermarket where he worked, Lassana acted only on reflex: Helping the hostages to find a safe place. The customers were stuffed down, via a trap door, in the basement. “When they got down on the fly,” explained the employee of Hyper Casher to [a french TV station], “I opened the door to the freezer. There were man people who had come back [into the freezer] with me. I turned out the light, I turned off the freezer.”

Among the frightened customers, a man found himself there with “a two-year old baby,” said Lassana. He was actually a baby of three and a half years, who accompanied his father. “When I had turned off the freezer, I had put them inside, I closed the door, I said: “Remain calm, here, I will get you out.” “When they were out, they congratulated me, they thanked me,” recounted humbly this young man.

That’s a great example of the common humanity that binds together most people, regardless of religion.

At the memorial rally today in France, I think it is powerful symbolism that the President of France will not only be joined the UK PM, German Chancellor and Spanish PM, but also the PM of Turkey, the PM of Israel and the President of the Palestinian Authority.

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RIP Chic Littlewood

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

The Herald reports:

Well-known TV and variety performer Chic Littlewood has died in Auckland.

He came to New Zealand from Britain with his wife and their two sons in 1964 and worked as a baker, later getting into theatre and eventually tv, hosting such favourite children’s shows as Chicaboom, which in 1978 became Chic Chat.

In 1977 he was the first variety entertainer to be awarded Entertainer of the Year, and in 1979 the Variety Artists Club awarded him a Benny Award.

As a kid I watched Chic Littlewood on TV. Willie McNabb was great with him. A sad loss.

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