Facebook refuses to be extorted

The Spinoff reports:

At 7.38am today a short email arrived from Facebook News Partnerships. It contained a total of five sentences, the most important reading: “I am writing to confirm that due to new laws in Australia, from today we will reluctantly restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content on Facebook.”

Despite its matter-of-fact tone and brevity, it could hardly be more consequential – this is the end (for now, maybe forever) of Facebook as a news distribution channel in Australia. Facebook says news represents less than 4% of content on its platform – but for publishers it can be the source of as much as half their traffic. And for Facebook, the risk is that even if it is only 4% of content, if users consider it critical, do they become less reliant on the platform?

The backdrop to this is the Morrison Government was planning to legislate to force big tech companies to fund media companies. This was of course very popular with media companies. Normally one would not expect this sort of attack on property rights from a centre right Government, but I suspect the power of the Murdoch press is responsible.

Facebook would have been forced to pay money to media companies when either the media company themselves or a user shared their news story on Facebook. So they have taken the entirely logical decision to block such sharing, so they don’t have to pay for promoting the media’s stories.

The timing is instructive – Google, which had previously held firm with Facebook on its own, far more consequential threat to withdraw search from Australia, yesterday capitulated and signed a revenue share deal with Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp. Google has been doing deals with all major news providers in the lead up to the code passing. In total, Google will be paying at least $100m a year to evade the code.

Important to note Google is not paying the money for search, as the code was mandating. It is for a new product called Google News Showcase.

We as Internet users should be very worried about any precedent of search engines having to pay companies to be featured in search results. It would undermine the entire utility of search.

Birth rate plummeting

Lots of interesting and even alarming data in the latest birth and deaths stats.

  • The fertility rate has fallen 26% since 2008, from 2.19 to 1.61 – well below the replacement rate of 2.1
  • Deaths in 2020 were 4.8% lower than in 2019 and the death rate 6.7% lower.
  • Infant mortality rate down from 4.53 to 3.96 which is excellent
  • Teenage fertility rate continues to drop – from 33.1 in 2008 to 12.2 in 2020. It was going up prior to 2008.

Pike River recovers no bodies

Stuff reports:

The Pike River Recovery Agency has reached the roof fall 2.26 kilometres up the mine’s access tunnel, marking the end point of its journey and ending any hopes of recovering any bodies.

And it cost $51 million to find that out.

Sonya Rockhouse, who lost her son Ben in the explosion, said the end of the drift was another milestone on the way to justice.

“The drift recovery was always about retrieving evidence and, if they were there, remains.

“Now that the mining work is done the indepth forensics can be completed and the legal work can begin.”

The agency would now turn its attention to the detailed forensic work in the Pit Bottom in Stone area, which was required for the police investigation.

Pit bottom in stone is a 600m network of roadways about 1900m up the drift that holds vital electrical equipment that could provide data to explain the cause of the explosions.

The chance that any of the “evidence” will lead to a prosecution and a conviction beyond reasonable doubt is miniscule.

This is who Labour wants to give parole to

Meet Elim Tekotahi Emery.

  • Sep 2011 – stabbed his 18-year-old partner and his uncle with a boning knife.
  • Mar 2012 – sentenced to 65 months prison
  • Oct 2014 – released on parole
  • Nov 2016 – parole cancelled due to violence against a partner causing significant injuries to her face, including a fractured eye socket
  • Feb 2020 – violent and prolonged assault against his latest partner, causing a miscarriage. He laughed as he hit her with a rock, stomped on herm, kicked her, punched her and gouged her eye. He also bit her in multiple places.
  • Feb 2021 – given 56 month sentence with no parole as it was his second strike

Labour thinks Emery should remain eligible for parole. Once they change the law he will be able to get parole after serving just 19 months of the latest sentence.

Chris Trotter on the woke supremacy

Chris Trotter writes:

That wokeism will generate massive resistance is certain. Its assault on the traditional order will leave more and more people feeling unmoored and vulnerable. Inevitably, a political movement will arise to contest the wokeists’ claims and policies. This movement will not, however, be driven by the traditional Left, it will be the creation of an angry and radically populist Right. What’s more, the transformational ambitions of wokeism will provoke its opponents into advancing an equally comprehensive programme of revocation and reconstitution. The result will be a deeply divided society, with tolerance and empathy in short supply.

The backlash against wokeism will be made much more aggressive by the difficulties its opponents will encounter in making their voices heard. The mainstream news media – and especially the state-owned media – have become increasingly intolerant of ideas and opinions which directly, or indirectly, challenge the wokeists’ view of the world. Stuff, the largest newspaper publisher in the country has embraced wokeism wholeheartedly and set its face resolutely against the errors of “racist” New Zealanders. Even more significantly, citizens determined to spread “unacceptable” ideas can no longer rely upon the major social media platforms for their dissemination. Increasingly, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are “de-platforming” individuals and groups (including a former President of the United States!) whose beliefs have been anathematised by the woke.

This de-platforming of dissenters by the woke media – often facilitated by threats from major corporate advertisers to withdraw their financial support – will complicate the mobilisation of wokeism’s opponents, but it will not prevent it. Inevitably, the sheer number of New Zealanders shut out of the wokeist discourse will persuade conservative investors to offer them a Fox News-like outlet for traditional views and values. As Rupert Murdoch knows well, there are big profits to be made out of alienation and anger. Those corporates hitherto persuaded to embrace (and enforce) wokeism may experience second thoughts when the enormous size of the traditionalist audience is revealed.

There is a huge opportunity here for a media outlet that is not woke.

The key insight of the world’s most successful populist leaders is that the voters will not punish a politician for farting in the wokeist church: someone who simply refuses to be daunted by charges of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, or any of the many other “thought crimes” promulgated by the woke. The politician who responds to all such accusations with a straightforward “Yes, I am. And if you expect me to apologise for it, you’re going to be bitterly disappointed!” That sort of politician: Trump, Duterte, Bolsonaro, Orban; receives as many cheers as jeers – probably more.

The next anti-woke leader will not be a gentleman like Don Brash. It will be a fiery authoritarian – probably a cross between Brian Tamaki and Billy TK.

While New Zealand waits for that perilous person to appear, the woke supremacy will continue. Hate speech will be outlawed. The nation’s history will be re-written. Even the country’s name will be driven relentlessly towards the memory hole. Were these assaults upon tradition to be offset by decisive governmental action making rents and homes affordable, forcing the rich to pay their fair share of tax, and restoring a rough balance of power in the workplace, then they might be forgiven. If the democratic rights of New Zealand citizens were being beefed-up – instead of being whittled away – then wokeism might have a future. But, they aren’t, and it doesn’t.

And this week, despite New Zealand being in a Covid-19 emergency, Labour is rushing under urgency a law to repeal the right of local residents to determine what type of local electoral system they have.

A female Kiwi ISIS terrorist

Stuff reports:

A wanted Isis terrorist from New Zealand with two young children has reportedly been detained near the Syrian border by Turkish authorities.

Turkey’s national defence ministry issued a short statement late on Monday evening, saying three New Zealanders were caught trying to enter the country illegally from Syria.

“A 26-year-old woman named S.A. among those caught was identified as a DAESH [Isis] terrorist,” the statement, issued on Twitter, read.

I do hope the children are well looked after and can be given a good future, as opposed to running around Syria.

It seems the women has lived in Australia since she was six, but Australia has cancelled her citizenship, which means she will probably retirn to NZ.

Karen Chhour’s maiden speech

Too many maiden speeches for me to cover them all, but Karen Chhour’s stood out, as she has first hand experience of the child welfare system.

This is when a social worker told me, “I’m sorry, none of your family wants you.” I asked whether I could go back to my grandmother and was told, “Your grandmother can’t take you again—it’s too hard for her.” I spent years resenting my grandmother for this, and it was only when I got older that I found out she had begged social services to have me, only to be told she was too old. Can you imagine being a child and hearing from a social worker that nobody—not even your family—wants you? I have lived with these words my whole life.

Beyond awful.

 It is high time the Government stopped the lip service and did something that actually helps the people that need it the most. Governments past and present have spent years avoiding making any real meaningful decisions, but at least we can now say we’ve had an inquiry into abuse in State care.

The royal commission report is a good thing. It brings some closure to the victims and I am grateful that these people have been given the opportunity to speak up and finally have a voice. But does this report really tell us anything we did not already know? Now we need more than just words. Apologies only go so far and cannot be taken seriously when what we apologise for is still happening.

I stand here today not only as a survivor of abuse as a child but a survivor of our system’s abuse. It is time we said what needs to be said: enough is enough and we won’t tolerate it any more. We must focus on our most vulnerable, our children. Parents are grownups. They can make their own choices and decisions. Our children don’t have the ability to make big choices yet, and they shouldn’t need to. They deserve our guidance and protection.

ACT thinks this can’t really take place while there’s such a focus on race and culture in an organisation delivering that protection. As I recently said, when Grainne Moss stood down as Oranga Tamariki chief executive, ethnicity and culture should not be how we decide what’s in the best interest of our children. Oranga Tamariki should be colour-blind and open to whatever will ensure a child’s wellbeing and safety. It is not a one-size-fits-all thing, and having legislation that tries to make it that way doesn’t work for our children.

Incidentally Karen is Maori.

If that means placing a vulnerable child into a home of a family who desperately want to love and care for them, rather than doing everything possible to place their child back into a family that made them vulnerable in the first place, then that should be the solution. As someone who has experienced three elements of placement—non-family who wanted me, family who didn’t, an extended family who did—I can tell you, as a young person you’ll take love, compassion, stability wherever you can find it. 

Sadly if the immediate family is dysfunctional, the wider family often is also.

More PC gone mad

I recall the days when some on the left claimed there was no such thing as political correctness and how it was just a right wing construction.

$55 million for left leaning journalism

Stuff reports:

The Government is putting another $55 million into public interest journalism in the next three years to ensure communities are kept informed on issues that affect them.

The Minister for Broadcasting and Media Kris Faafoi, launched the fund on Friday to support democracy and ensure New Zealanders had access to trusted information.

The vast bulk of this will go, I predict, on projects that only include a leftist worldview of the issue.

NZ On Air will administer the contestable fund, which will be for projects that media outlets can demonstrate fill a public interest service and which would otherwise be at risk or not produced.

The Government of course appoints the NZ on Air board.

With state funded media becoming so dominant in New Zealand, we should demand greater independence from the Government of the day.

I believe directors of all state broadcasters, and NZ on Air, should be appointed by an independent Commission, whose members are in turn appointed only with the concurrence of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. That way you would not have politically aligned people appointed.

Is there any actual conversion therapy occuring in NZ?

Stuff reports:

The Green Party is calling on the Labour Government to urgently prioritise banning conversion therapy.

At Big Gay Out in Auckland on Sunday, Green Party spokesperson for Rainbow Communities, Dr Elizabeth Kerekere, will launch a petition calling on it to be prioritised.

“There is no place for conversion therapy in Aotearoa,” Dr Elizabeth Kerekere said in a statement.

Conversion therapy is the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. …

“We must have the legislation introduced as soon as possible. As the weeks and months roll by, we risk more rainbow New Zealanders being exposed to this harmful practice.

Putting aside for one moment the merits of a ban, I’m interested in whether there is any actual conversion therapy happening in NZ? I don’t mean decades ago, but say in the last three years?

I mean New Zealand seems to be one of most tolerant countries in the world when it comes to sexual and gender identity. It doesn’t seem like a fertile place for promoting conversion therapy.

I would have thought those demanding that the Government give urgency to this issue over other stuff such as house prices, would have firm data on how prevalent this is in modern New Zealand.

I have no doubt it has occured in the past, but is it still occuring today?

Child poverty: where’s the urgency?

I wake up each morning feeling incredibly lucky to live in New Zealand.  

Our country is a true example of democracy. We have free and fair elections. Political division is almost non-existent compared to the United States. There’s comparatively little corruption, and any instances can be reported on without fear by our media. Religion can be practised freely, and all citizens are afforded basic human rights. 

Then there are freedoms we enjoy that are often taken for granted. There are – for now – no laws seriously restricting freedom of speech. Our children can play in public safely. Healthcare and education are (mostly) free. We can wear whatever we want. Access to the internet is not restricted.  

The list goes on. 

But festering underneath all of these benefits is the reality that too many children are living in poverty. It makes me angry. 

I sit on the right of the political compass. It would be easy to rattle off a number of reasons why, but one of the most fundamental is the notion of personal responsibility. I believe that we should be responsible for our own destiny and not rely on the state. 

Nevertheless, there will always be a need for a welfare state because life is not perfect and sometimes things happen that are simply out of our control. It is entirely reasonable to aspire for personal responsibility while acknowledging that compassion will always be required – and that sometimes this has to take the form of government intervention.

I accept that not everyone reading this will agree with me on that. 

Where I hope we can find common ground is that children who are living in material deprivation are not responsible for their situation at all.  

I recognize there are people who will argue that it is the parents who need to take responsibility. In an ideal world, they would. Unfortunately, this just isn’t always the case, and we shouldn’t punish children for circumstances they were born in to.  

So, state intervention is sometimes necessary. Take free lunches in schools. If life were perfect, parents wouldn’t send their kids to school hungry or without food. The reality, however, is that it is happening. And we shouldn’t just turn a blind eye to it because it would go against our ideological belief about how the world should be.  

If we aspire to live in a society where reliance on the state is all but non-existent, we have to break the cycle of poverty. If parents are unable or unwilling to do this, it cannot be left up to the children to do it themselves. I hope that any compassionate person should be able to recognize this – including compassionate conservatives.  

I can’t say that I’ve always felt this strongly about child poverty. For over a decade, I worked with the most privileged and fortunate of kids and I always thought I was doing my bit for society by ensuring I was helping raise well-rounded, strong, and smart children.  

In the last year or so, however, I was ”mugged by reality” as it became clear to me that these are not the children who need extra time or resources spent on them. And then I started getting angry, because we have a government that has the audacity to say it is kind and compassionate but isn’t acting in a way that I would call even close to transformative when it comes to child poverty. 

The government is quite happy to throw $55m at the media, rush constitutional law changes through urgency, debate supplements, and snipe at the opposition. But child poverty? All we hear is some statistics on supposed measures improving, while conveniently forgetting to mention that the very one that matters – material deprivation – is not.

The government’s apologists will dutifully trot out this or that program being trialed or how the government has made this small sum available to this set of people.  It’s all things happening at the edges. Nothing gets to the heart of the matter.  

I don’t know how someone, whose entire reason for being in politics is to rid the country of child poverty, can live with themselves after 12 years as an MP (over three of which have been in the top job) when life for many kiwi children is only getting worse.  

What is the answer? I don’t know. What I do know, however, is this shouldn’t be a partisan monopoly for the left. It is nothing short of reprehensible that New Zealand still has so many children living in poverty, and our politicians and leaders should be ashamed.  

If Labour isn’t going to act boldly on this, it’s time that National came up with a plan. This is the stuff that matters, and it’s what is going to make a real difference to society in New Zealand.  

Monique Poirier has a Masters degree in Political Studies, and is a former small business owner and Parliamentary staffer. She is the Campaigns Manager for the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance.


Newshub reports:

Senior National MP Chris Bishop will be hauled before Parliament’s Privileges Committee for posting edited video of new Labour MP Anna Lorck. 

Lorck gave an impassioned speech on Wednesday night on the benefits of supplements, drawing ridicule online – but she told Newshub it wasn’t her who complained about National’s video. 

In her speech delivered in Parliament, Lorck – who won the seat of Tukituki at last year’s election – dished out supplementary advice. 

“It’s the Beroccas in the morning and the magnesium at night – and don’t forget about the collagen! How’s the hair looking, ladies?” Lorck says in the speech.

Her speech in support of the Food (Continuation of Dietary Supplements Regulations) Amendment Bill is causing a stir – and social media storm – courtesy of the National Party’s edited video. 

I thought the video was harmless fun, and I suspect Anna Lorck herself would have chuckled at it.

Bishop says he doesn’t think National has done anything wrong. 

“The video is literally just excerpts from a speech given in Parliament,” he told Newshub. “If people had turned on the TV they would have seen basically the exact same thing, so we don’t think it’s misleading.”

House Speaker Trevor Mallard is referring Bishop to the Privileges Committee, which is basically Parliament’s court, for signing off on the video. 

The pair locked horns earlier this week when Bishop tried to move a motion of no confidence in the Speaker. 

It does rather look like utu that you refer the MP who moved a motion of no confidence in you to the Privileges Committee for what is an absolutely trivial issue.

Lorck told Newshub it wasn’t her that made the complaint. In fact, she even shared National’s video on social media, saying “in the spirit of taking things on the chin, I’m sharing it – got to be able to have a laugh at yourself from time to time”. 

Good on her.

UPDATE: I am informed the referral to Privileges Committee is automatic.

The Standing Orders Committee report Review of use of Parliament TV coverage:

“We therefore recommend that, where the Speaker directs that the use of coverage be altered or stopped, that use of coverage be referred to the Privileges Committee at the earliest opportunity. The Privileges Committee would consider the use, and have the power to either accept the Speaker’s initial direction, or recommend that it be revoked.”

So the referral isn’t so much to potentially censure Bishop, but the the Committee to decide if the Speaker’s decision to block the video be upheld or not.

Cancel culture hits on the left and the right

The Mandalorian star Gina Carano has been sacked from Disney because she tweeted:

“Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors…even by children. Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views,” she wrote.

Now Holocaust comparisons are usually stupid, and Carano’s was no exception. But the point she was making is don’t hate your neighbour because they may have different political views to you. And that got her canceled.

And the irony is her co-star also did a Holocaust comparison tweet, where he actually compared to the US Government to Nazi Germany. Yet nothing happened to him.

Also Ben Shapiro pointed out that if there is anything that is closest to The Holocaust happening today, it is what China is doing to the Uighurs with mass sterilisations etc. But DIsney recently filmed Mulan in China and thanked the Chinese Government for their co-operation. Yet Carono gets cancelled for her tweet.

Cancel culture is primarily used against people on the right, but as it grows it catches those on the left also. That is why everyone should oppose it.

Leftist Nathan Robinson was a columnist for The Guardian. He had previously said there is no such thing as cancel culture. Then he tweeted:

it’s the law” that “the US Congress is not actually allowed to authorize any new spending unless a portion of it is directed toward buying weapons for Israel

Now this was pretty obviously a satirical tweet. I didn’t find it anti-semitic. If it had been “The Jewish lobby is so powerful they force Congress to include arms for Israel in every bill” then it could be problematic. But is at worst a sarky tweet.

But cancel culture meant he got dropped by the Guardian, despite him even clarifying in a follow up tweet it was satirical. There is no way he should have lost his column for that one tweet. Just as Gina Carono should not be blacklisted in Hollywood because of her tweet.

So all those who take part in cancel culture should beware – because it will probably turn on them and bite them one day.

Why Trump lost, from his pollsters

Slate reports:

Donald Trump might be in denial about who won the 2020 election, but his pollsters aren’t. Two of them have performed autopsies on his defeat, and those autopsies are now public. One of his pollsters, John McLaughlin, published an analysis in Newsmax in November. Another report, written by consultant Tony Fabrizio, was posted on Monday by Politico. Neither pollster blames the former president, but their numbers tell the story: Trump destroyed himself.

The autopsies identified two reasons why Trump should have won. First, based on self-identification, the 2020 electorate was significantly more Republican than the 2016 electorate. Second, public satisfaction with the economy favored the incumbent. Both pollsters found that people who voted in 2020 thought Trump would handle the economy better than Joe Biden would. McLaughlin’s analysis, based on his postelection survey of people who voted in 2020, noted that 61 percent of these voters said they were better off than they had been four years earlier. Despite this, Trump managed to lose one-third of the 61 percent. “Fully 20% of all voters thought they were better off today than four years ago and did not vote for President Trump,” McLaughlin wrote.

Trump’s tax cuts had been hugely successful. After tax incomes were up massively. Yet he still managed to lose. He blew it.

Fabrizio noted that collectively, in the five states that flipped to Biden, Trump outpolled Biden among people who had voted in 2016. What killed Trump were the new voters. Biden won them by 14 points in the five decisive states.

Turnout mattered.

Fabrizio found that in the 10 battleground states, “majorities of voters … prioritized stopping the spread of [the virus] over re-opening the economy.” The virus “was the top issue” in these states, the pollster observed, “and Biden carried those voters nearly 3 to 1.” In the exit polls and in McLaughlin’s survey, voters said by significant margins that Biden would handle the virus better than Trump.

Fabrizio flagged two particularly foolish mistakes in Trump’s response to the virus. One was ridiculing masks. In the 10 battleground states, voters who favored mask mandates (Biden’s position) outnumbered those who opposed mask mandates (Trump’s position) by a ratio of 3 to 1. The enormous pro-mask constituency went to Biden by about 30 points, on average, in the five states that flipped to him. Trump’s other dumb move was his persistent slander against Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In the five states that flipped to Biden, 72 percent of voters approved of Fauci’s job performance, and 63 percent of those voters went to Biden.

If you’re on 40% job approval, you don’t keep having a go at the guy on 72% job approval. Dumb.

The mourner’s veto

An excellent article at Quillette:

These emotional attempts to suppress controversial or unpopular speech have increasingly made use of what I call the “Mourner’s Veto”—individuals will say that a speaker or a piece of writing has caused them to become distressed or sad or angry or frightened, and they will support these claims with allegations of “harm” or even threats to their “right to exist.” Reasonable debate and discussion then becomes impossible as activists make unfalsifiable but furiously emotive claims about alleged threats to their safety and wellbeing amid much weeping and claims of exhaustion and mental fragility. It is not healthy for the limits of permissible speech to be dictated by the most sensitive person in the room, nor to allow emotional appeals to supplant robust argument as the most effective strategy in a debate.

Spot on. We saw this at Massey University when some staff said that having Don Brash on campus made them feel unsafe.

First, offer unhappy employees a graceful exit. In response to the outcry at Penguin, some commentators suggested that the insubordinate employees should be fired. This is a mistake. Those employees have a right to hold and express their views. Although authors’ speech rights should obviously be paramount at a publishing house, we needn’t sacrifice those of its employees. The firm Coinbase recently offered an excellent model in the face of political pressure from staff—they offered any employee who wished to leave a generous severance package. My understanding is that few took it up.

That’s a good idea.

Second, companies need to get into the habit of ignoring social media and discontinuing the practice of outsourcing their public relations or editorial decisions to Twitter (New York TimesI’m looking at you). Social media has many advantages, but it can often swirl into a cesspool of performative outrage that in no way reflects what the average person cares about.

Excellent advice. Major corporates like Vodafone get spooked on the basis of half a dozen people tweeting about something.

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