New Zealand is no ‘off-grid’ safe haven from the apocalypse

From 19th-century colonists to today’s super wealthy, New Zealand has been wrongly depicted as a ‘blank slate’ ‘New Zealand laws still cover the tracks of the wealthy. So it’s understandable that the super-rich identify the country as a prime destination to avoid attention.’ View over Bay of Islands, New Zealand. Photograph: Author’s Image Ltd/Alamy     New Zealand has become the prime destination for the world’s wealthy elite. Their relocation could be to do with the country’s famous scenery and quality of life but it could also be that the pandemic has renewed people’s interest in New Zealand as supposedly the best place in the world to survive global societal collapse. It’s true, as a recent study observes, that New Zealand is a set of isolated islands with renewable energy resources and a temperate climate. However, there is also a long history, intertwined with the country’s colonisation, of New Zealand being seen as a blank slate or empty land, open for the taking. That false image served to justify colonial settlement in the past. It’s now being used again to prepare the ground for further settlement by the super-wealthy. Prior to European colonisation, Māori had been living in the country for at least 800 years. In 1839, the colonial office instructed the first British governor of New Zealand, William Hobson, to establish a system to secure “unsettled lands”. The next year Hobson claimed sovereignty over the North Island on the basis of a treaty, the Treaty of Waitangi. But he claimed sovereignty over the South Island [...]

September 24th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Aukus pact could push New Zealand to deepen relations with Europe and Pacific

As country’s traditional allies take a more confrontational approach to China, it could offset Anglosphere divide with new partnerships New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern and French president Emmanuel Macron. The Aukus pact has highlighted the growing divide between New Zealand and its traditional allies. Photograph: Alain Jocard/AFP via Getty Images     During the announcement that America, the United Kingdom and Australia had formed a new Aukus defence pact – inaugurated with the sale of American nuclear-powered submarines to Australia – Australian prime minister Scott Morrison lauded it as a “forever partnership for a new time between the oldest and most trusted of friends”. That phrasing was notable given that the deal excluded New Zealand, which has historically been so close with Australia that the Australian constitution contemplates complete integration of the two countries. Remarkably, New Zealand’s government apparently only learned about the Aukus deal when it began to be reported in the media on Wednesday. It’s the latest indication that New Zealand is being left behind by its traditional Anglosphere partners. Ironically the widening gap between New Zealand and the Aukus powers is largely not of New Zealand’s choosing, despite its longstanding commitment to foreign policy “independence”. Faced with growing great power competition between China and America, New Zealand has made some moves towards alignment with the latter. Over the last few years it has bought American military equipment, explicitly named China as a threat to the international rules-based order and refused to allow China’s Huawei to upgrade 5G infrastructure due to security concerns. [...]

September 19th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Leaks just exposed how toxic Facebook and Instagram are to teen girls and, well, everyone

The company’s own research reveals that Instagram harms teens, that it can’t control anti-vax misinformation, and that there is a secret double standard for VIPs. In short, the problem with Facebook is Facebook ‘Working for Facebook these days must be a crushing moral and social experience.’ Photograph: John G Mabanglo/EPA   For years, Facebook has faced torrents of criticism from human rights groups and academic researchers, who raised alarms about the ways that the most pervasive digital social platform in human history distorts our world and promotes destructive behavior ranging from eating disorders to genocide. In response, Mark Zuckerberg and his staff have frequently pronounced commitments to reform. While many of those pledges and predictions seemed to have been sincere, it turns out that not only have the architecture and incentives built into Facebook itself undermined the biggest efforts to fix the service, but that Facebook’s own research staff have informed top leadership of the company’s stunning failures. This week the Wall Street Journal has run an eye-opening series of articles, based on internal studies and documents leaked by Facebook researchers, revealing just how duplicitous and/or naive Zuckerberg is about his own company and its influence on the world. “An eye-opening series of articles this week reveal just how duplicitous and/or naive Zuckerberg is about his own company” In one piece, the Journal revealed that Facebook maintains a private registry of very important people, including celebrities and politicians, who are exempt from the strict content-posting rules that govern the rest of us. A second article was [...]

September 19th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

At an economic inflection point, Biden leans into expansive, populist agenda

After fighting for temporary stimulus earlier this year, the president is now trying to push through structural changes to the broader economy. President Biden delivers remarks on the economy from the East Room on Sept. 16. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)   Six months after signing a massive economic stimulus package into law, President Biden on Thursday embarked on a fresh push for trillions of dollars in additional spending, attempting to pivot from an emergency posture to advancing a long-term liberal vision of government. Speaking from the East Room of the White House, Biden heralded the return of jobs and other recent economic gains, which he attributed to a combination of federal relief efforts and the arrival of effective coronavirus vaccines. But he stressed the need for even deeper, lasting policy changes to ease the hardships that many Americans have faced since long before the coronavirus took hold. “This pandemic has been god-awful for so many reasons,” Biden said. “But it does present us with an opportunity. We can build an economy that gives working people a fair shot this time. We can restore some sanity and fairness to our tax code. We can make the investments that we know are long overdue in this nation.” Biden’s pitch marked an important political inflection point: Even as the pandemic simmers, the battered U.S. economy is still much healthier than it was at the start of his presidency, when millions more were out of work and businesses nationwide lay dormant. The improved tail winds have allowed Biden to pivot [...]

September 17th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Maori Language Week 2021: Meaningful learning in te ao Māori

Tai Tokerau tangata whenua discuss mythical demigod Māui and his significance to the iwi. Photo / Liam Ratana     COMMENT Recently I attended a hui discussing the mythical demigod Maui and his significance to Te Tai Tokerau (Northland). It was the second talk in a series being hosted by master carver Te Warihi Hetaraka (Ngātiwai) at the Hihiaua Cultural Centre in Whangārei. Hihiaua has recently been showcasing Ngā Pakiwaitara a Māui, a new way of sharing kōrero about Māui using augmented reality, bringing to life his connection to Ngātiwai. There were a number of ideas discussed throughout the talk that resonated with me. One common theme was the importance of passing on knowledge in Māori culture and the ways in which this was done. We spoke about Māui taking his grandmother's jawbone as a symbol of the knowledge that she bestowed upon him. There were discussions about how Māui was an example of the fact that it was not always the eldest child, or even the eldest grandchild, that was chosen to be the bearer of knowledge. At times, grandchildren were selected to be the bearers of knowledge for their whānau, instead of members of their parents' generation. They would be raised by their grandparents and made to sit at their feet, listening to the karakia, whakapapa, and stories that were being shared. The grandchild would follow their grandparents everywhere, constantly hearing the kōrero and often being made to repeat it. This style of learning is called rote learning. It is the process of memorising [...]

September 17th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Why Kiwi travellers should celebrate Air NZ’s latest project

Air NZ's hydrogen-powered plane project is a step in the right direction. Photo / Douglas Bagg, Unsplash   COMMENT: Air New Zealand has partnered with Airbus to try and clean up air travel and I am stupendously excited. If you love travel, you should be too. This excitement doesn't stem from loyalty to Air NZ (although, as far as airlines go, they are excellent), a fondness for chemical engineering (the science is beyond me) or a passion for business innovation. Rather, it comes from the tension between both loving travel and being painfully aware of its environmental and social cost. A tension that has only grown more widespread and fraught since the pandemic hit. Sustainability has long been a point of focus within the travel and tourism industry. Arguably, the concept is just a contemporary take on ancient indigenous wisdom that has always acknowledged and valued the connection between people and the land. Nonetheless, as the impact of tourism's unrestrained growth became impossible to ignore, pressure mounted on governing bodies and individuals to create a tourism model that could go the distance. Then, Covid-19 happened and tourism, along with countless other industries, ground to a standstill. Economies, advanced and developing, were hit hard, especially those relying on tourists to stop by and spend up. As Cruise ships were docked, planes grounded and cars left in their garages, many were quick to describe the time as a much-needed break for mother earth. Now, more than ever we see the delicate balance our world hangs in. So, as [...]

September 17th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

North Korean missiles tests – Kim Jong Un won’t stop and options are shrinking

North Korea has made impressive strides in missile technology, which is bad news for the US, South Korea and the world, says Professor Robert E Kelly. North Korea, led by Kim Jong Un, conducted a series of missile tests this week. (Photos: AFP, AP) SEOUL— With a slew of North Korean missile tests this week, the world has once again been reminded of our limits to constrain the hermit kingdom’s behaviour. For the most part, Pyongyang does what it wants, and the rest of the international community just has to live with it. In the last few days, North Korea tested cruise missiles and then ballistic missiles. The latter violates United Nations Security Council resolutions. And yet the response of South Korea, the US and Japan has been muted, in part because their options are so limited. IMPRESSIVE IMPROVEMENTS IN MISSILE TECH North Korea’s technical improvements are undeniably impressive. The difference between these missile types is the range and flightpath. A cruise missile, like the one launched on Monday (Sep 13) is basically a missile with a jet engine attached to it. Like a passenger plane, it flies in a straight line toward a target. The advantage of such a weapon to North Korea is its manoeuvrability, plus its ability to evade radar and penetrate defences. But cruise missiles usually have a short or medium range. People in Seoul watch a TV broadcasting file footage of a news report on North Korea firing a pair of ballistic missiles on Sep 15, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji)   The [...]

September 17th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Boris Johnson’s bold reshuffle is a show of strength – and a sign of pressure

If the prime minister is rewarding competence over loyalty, that’s because he knows he must deliver on his agenda   Gavin Williamson, left, and Robert Jenrick are among those to have been shown the door by Boris Johnson.Photograph: James Veysey/REX/Shutterstock   When Boris Johnson reshuffled his cabinet in February last year, it did not go as planned. Despite Johnson still riding high after his election victory, ministers complained about No 10’s abrasive approach, supporters said promises of jobs made to them during the leadership campaign hadn’t been delivered, and MPs from the older intakes smarted at the promotion of their younger colleagues ahead of them. The whole exercise proved so bad for party morale that for more than a year Johnson and his chief whip have been firmly put off carrying out another. Stories of imminent reshuffles have come and gone with nothing to show for them. Those who argued in favour of one were told by No 10 aides: “Good luck convincing the prime minister.” It’s why the first reshuffle since then is so significant. It’s not just that it has finally happened – it’s how bold it was. Despite long-held concerns about party management, Johnson did not shy away from difficult decisions. Instead, he opted for what one adviser describes as a “very punchy” reshuffle – sending old friends and government loyalists, as well as potential troublemakers, to the backbenches. The prime minister demoted his foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, against his wishes, sacked Gavin Williamson despite warnings he could cause Johnson trouble out of [...]

September 17th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: Could Afghanistan plunge into civil war?

The Taliban will be on uncertain ground as they declare legitimacy, but none of their pretenders is likely to offer a national alternative, says an international politics professor. A Taliban security member holding a rifle ensures order in front of Azizi Bank in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sep 4, 2021. (Photo: WANA via REUTERS) BIRMINGHAM: Unsurprisingly, the Taliban’s rapid takeover of power across Afghanistan has prompted headlines about a renewed civil war. This is misleading, however. Civil war implies a situation where an insurgent movement is taking on a ruling government. But in 2001, it was not just the United States-backed Northern Alliance that removed the Taliban from Kabul – other local commanders and political leaders were challenging their authority too. Now that the Taliban is trying to establish a government and ruling institutions, it is possible local groups may resist being coopted. They may bristle at a lack of autonomy or see political and economic benefit in opposition to the new system in Kabul. Yet none of these groups has the national reach of the Taliban. And unlike 2001, none has outside support to do more than to hold on to their patch of Afghanistan. So for the foreseeable future, Afghanistan continues in its limbo. The Taliban will be on uncertain ground as they declare legitimacy, but no pretender to Afghanistan’s troubled throne is likely to offer a national alternative. ISLAMIC STATE KHORASAN NOT YET A THREAT Paradoxically, as Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K) garnered attention for its mass killings outside Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug 26, it has only exposed [...]

September 14th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Covid-19: The unequal costs of lockdown will come back to bite us

OPINION: The story of this lockdown is best told with two statistics. The first: in the month lockdown started house prices rose by 5.2 per cent. The second: 5550 people have gone on the unemployment benefit since the last pre-pandemic Jobseeker numbers were released. I guess by now we know there is nothing really stopping property prices from ever heading in the opposite direction, even during a global pandemic. DAVID WHITE/STUFF Auckland is under lockdown, but are its most vulnerable being cared for this time around? The Jobseeker numbers, though, were heading down right before the pandemic, and for months we’ve been hearing non-stop complaints about skills shortages. In this context the numbers puzzle Infometrics economist Brad Olsen because right before the pandemic everybody was complaining about how difficult it was to hire people, and now they have just let their employees go. “There are obviously, still, a bunch of precarious firms who are struggling.” Then again, there are a lot of questions not directly-related to the outbreak that are curious. Like the fact that this time there seems to have been no real push to give the homeless any form of housing. One guy is holed up in a cave, which seems to be a new low as far as the country’s housing crisis goes, but you don’t have to go all the way out to the Bay of Plenty to see the old philosophy of putting a roof over everybody’s head doesn’t seem to be the name of the game for the team of [...]

September 4th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Without help for oil-producing countries, net zero by 2050 is a distant dream

To meet climate targets and avoid economic collapse, countries such as Iraq need international support in the transition to clean energy Ali Allawi is deputy prime minister and finance minister of Iraq. Fatih Birol is executive director of the International Energy Agency Oil refineries along the Shatt al-Arab river in Basra, Iraq, 2020. Photograph: Essam Al-Sudani/Reuters In the Middle East and north Africa, global warming is not a distant threat, but an already painful reality. Rising temperatures are exacerbating water shortages. In Iraq, temperatures are estimated to be rising as much as seven times faster than the global average. Countries in this region are not only uniquely affected by global temperature rises: their centrality to global oil and gas markets makes their economies particularly vulnerable to the transition away from fossil fuels and towards cleaner energy sources. It’s essential the voices of Iraq and similar countries are heard at the Cop26 climate change conference in Glasgow this November. To stand a chance of limiting the worst effects of climate change, the world needs to fundamentally change the way it produces and consumes energy, burning less coal, oil and natural gas. The International Energy Agency’s recent global roadmap to net zero by 2050 shows the world’s demand for oil will need to decline from more than 90m barrels a day to less than 25m by 2050. This would result in a 75% plunge in net revenues for oil-producing economies, many of which are dominated by a public sector that relies on oil exports and the revenues they [...]

September 2nd, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Opinion: Where is the kindness during these uncertain times of Covid-19?

Opinion - If one thing is certain during these uncertain times of Covid-19, it is that a hurting community doesn't need more pain thrown its way. Over the weekend it emerged that members of the Pacific community in Tauranga were asked to provide their passportswhen they sought to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. The district health board involved has apologised for asking for something that was not required, and the CEO has said an assumption was made that the group were seasonal workers without National Health Index numbers. It is disturbing that just weeks after the government issued an apology for the Dawn Raids, members of the Pacific community were unnecessarily and insensitively asked for their passports. This is the same DHB that issued inappropriate Māori imagery around their Covid vaccination campaign, only for the material to be pulled after a public outcry. More rigorous processes were promised then. We hope robust processes will not just be a promise. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Saunoamaali'i Dr Karanina Sumeo Photo: supplied   In general, common decency and consideration seem to have become casualties of the Covid-19 pandemic. Last week media coverage focussed on the fact a large proportion of people inflicted with the latest iteration of the coronavirus are members of the Samoan community. Most people would see this as just an observation or statistical fact, but unfortunately, rather than supporting the community in a difficult time, some saw it as appropriate to attack the community online. When the initial cases hit the headlines neither individuals nor [...]

August 31st, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

If the Government is making the right decisions on Covid-19, it will withstand scruntiny

OPINION: And so lockdown drags on. Empty streets, shuttered businesses, and people physically avoiding each other are bleak reminders that our ‘normal’ way of living is now fragile. That, and the ‘us vs them’ group think mentality. Us being the ‘team of five million’ and ‘them’ anyone who dares criticise the Government’s approach. ROBERT KITCHIN/STUFF ‘The 1pm briefings skew the discourse in favour of the Government, at the expense of Opposition voices, which are already weakened,’ writes Andrea Vance. Pictured: Prime minister Jacinda Ardern.   On the advice of experts, most of us accept that the policing of the population is the only way to stop the deadly Covid-19 virus spreading further, or to a level that our hospitals can handle. We are complying with restrictions on movement, gatherings, and even trading. But that does not mean we gave up on freedom of expression. Government supporters aggressively insist critics should shut up and trust the experts. That anyone questioning the prevailing approach is recklessly anti-science, undermining the response or indifferent to a higher death toll. This is too crude. It is perfectly logical to accept the need for current restrictions, while criticising the Government for how we got here and the failings that led to it, not least in the vaccination roll-out. Delta got in – there should be hard questions about why so that the gaps are plugged. People are being denied the right to come home – it’s only fair they get to question the managed isolation procedures keeping them out. It is right [...]

August 29th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Fall of Afghanistan: Taliban sits on $1 trillion of minerals, China may seek business

The dramatic fall of Afghanistan has left returning Taliban militants in charge of an estimated $1 trillion worth of rare earth mineral deposits, raising the prospect China may seek to work with the Taliban to boost its mining activity there. In 2010, US military officials and geologists revealed that the conflict-riven country was sitting on vast resources of iron, copper, gold, rare earths and, in particular, coveted supplies of lithium - a scarce but vital component of electric vehicle battery production. The nation had the potential to become the "Saudi Arabia of lithium," a Pentagon memo at the time said. The Taliban takeover has now raised fresh questions about how this untapped wealth will be managed and presents a new dilemma of whether to trade with a regime known for human rights abuses in order to supply green technologies. But China is wasting no time. Just a day after the militants entered Kabul, Beijing said it was ready for "friendly and cooperative" relations with the Taliban. A Chinese consortium, including the state-owned China Metallurgical Group Corp, already has a 30-year contract to extract, smelt and process material at Mes Aynak, the world's second-largest copper mine. This week, state media said work might resume after being halted over security concerns. China is the world's largest lithium consumer - accounting for 39 per cent of global consumption by 2019 - because of soaring demand for electric vehicles as the country tightens its air quality regulations. Taliban fighters stand guard on their side while people wait to cross at [...]

August 22nd, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: How China will seek to profit from Taliban’s return

Although Chinese leaders are not enthusiastic about the Taliban taking over Afghanistan, they will not allow principle to stand in the way of pragmatism, says Brookings Institute’s Richard Haass. Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, political chief of Afghanistan's Taliban, in Tianjin, China, on Jul 28, 2021. (File photo: Reuters/Li Ran, Xinhua) WASHINGTON DC: In recent days, many analysts have stepped forward to provide predictions on how America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan will impact China’s regional and global standing. Some argue the withdrawal will free up American resources to focus on China and the Indo-Pacific. For others, the withdrawal opens a vacuum for China to exploit. Still others assert that Taiwan is now more vulnerable because Beijing has taken the measure of America’s resolve and competence and found it lacking. AN OPPORTUNITY FOR CHINA IN AFGHANISTAN FOLLOWING AMERICA’S WITHDRAWAL? Most Chinese counterparts I know are unclouded by any optimism about their capacity to transform Afghanistan. They harbour no ambition to run Afghanistan or to turn Afghanistan into a model of their own form of governance. Beijing is master only of its own interests in Afghanistan, which are predominantly animated by security concerns. Chinese leaders worry about the spread of instability from Afghanistan into adjacent regions, including spillover into China. They also worry about the inspiration that Islamic militarism could provide to others with similar aspirations. Although Chinese leaders are not enthusiastic about the Taliban taking over Afghanistan, they will not allow principle to stand in the way of pragmatism, [...]

August 21st, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The west’s nation-building fantasy is to blame for the mess in Afghanistan

British MPs have turned on Boris Johnson – but what tidy end did they expect from this imperialist experiment? ‘Western rule has killed an estimated 240,000 in Afghanistan since 2001, more than the Taliban ever did. It has not left morality, just a mess.’ US forces in the Zabul province of Afghanistan, 2006. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images   Britain’s MPs this week uttered one long howl of anguish over Afghanistan. Their immediate targets were Joe Biden and Boris Johnson, politicians who just happened to be on the watch when Kabul’s pack of cards collapsed. But their real concern was that a collective 20-year experiment in “exporting western values” to Afghanistan had fallen into chaos. MPs wanted someone other than themselves to blame. A politician is never so angry as when proved wrong. Like their fellow representatives in Congress, MPs somehow hoped the end would be nice and tidy, with speeches and flags, much like Britain’s exit from Hong Kong. Instead, tens of thousands of Afghans who had lived in an effective colony under years of Nato occupation had come to believe the west would either never leave or somehow protect them from Talibanretribution. They were swiftly disabused. In 2006 I stood at dusk on a castle wall overlooking Kabul with a young UN official. He had just heard the Kandahar road was no longer safe. “Why,” he sighed, “can’t Afghanistan be more like Sweden?” I tried to see if he was smiling, but he was grimacing. For another 15 years, armies of western soldiers and civilians [...]

August 21st, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Covid-19: What will the Government do if it can’t eliminate Delta?

OPINION: And now we wait. As with the last time New Zealand went into level 4 lockdown, it’s now a waiting game to see if the testers and contact tracers get on top of the spread of the Delta strain of coronavirus. Or at least we all hope that’s what will happen. There is one plan to deal with Covid-19 in New Zealand, and that plan is elimination. The working definition given is that it’s ”zero tolerance for new cases”. The strategy has evolved since the first lockdown last year. It is now: keep the virus out until the population has been vaccinated and then see what’s next. ROBERT KITCHIN/STUFF The emergence of Delta in the community is a serious challenge to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Government’s strategy of eliminating Covid-19, writes Luke Malpass.   Last week we all got a flavour of what might be next and how New Zealand might open up, but the fact that it is trying to combine both elimination and a staged reopening of the border really begged more questions than answers. The Delta variant will be a serious challenge to the Government’s strategy, and leaves a whole host of unanswered questions about what happens if Covid cannot, once again, be eliminated. The Government, to its credit, has responded as quickly as possible to give the best chance of nipping this outbreak in the bud. Hopefully it works. But one thing that all Australian states have learnt from the Delta strain is that it is very hard to [...]

August 21st, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: In desperate bid to fend off COVID-19, the Philippines’ repeated lockdowns create a mental health crisis

The psychological stress over the past year and a half could make 2021 the year where the Philippines truly tackle stigma against suicide and speak openly about mental health issues, says Jeff Bansigan. Residents queue to receive cash assistance from the government following the imposition of two-week lockdown in Manila, Philippines, Aug 11, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Lisa Marie David) MANILA: In the Philippines, worries among Filipinos in Metro Manila are rising with the latest rounds of on-and-off hard lockdowns imposed by the central government to flatten the growing number of COVID-19 infections. A string of suicides over the past two weeks has sparked a conversation about stress, depression and when the Philippines can escape this endless hell of COVID-19 restrictions. A 22-year-old farmer in Roxas City in Capiz took his own life on Aug 2 after a long struggle with severe depression that began when his family income was displaced by the pandemic. The following day, a ten-year-old boy hanged himself his family’s home in Cebu, Philippines. A concerned neighbour called the police but by the time officers arrived at the scene, it was too late. On the same day, a caretaker of a farm in the southern town of Nasipit in Butuan city in the Southern Philippines, also ended his life. These three cases were among the latest alarming cases of suicide in the country blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic. There is little end in sight, with the Delta variant on the loose in the country. And so President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the imposition of more lockdown [...]

August 21st, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

To get New Zealanders out of their cars we’ll need to start charging the true cost of driving

Opinion - In light of last week's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report confirming human activity is "unequivocally" driving global warming, here's a striking statistic: in Auckland, road transport modes are responsible for 35 percent of the city's climate-altering emissions. Photo: NZTA / Waka Kotahi   Overall, road transport accounts for nearly 43 percent of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions, an increase of over 100 percent since 1990. Given the nation's streets are still clogged with conventionally powered vehicles, what can we collectively do about it - as citizens and in our cities? According to the hyperbolic mantra of the #bancars movement, it's time to get drastic. Of course, the slogan makes a catchier hashtag than the more rational policy objective: reduce the number of vehicles people own and the kilometres they are driven each year. It's also catchier than the policy prescription: invest in alternative modes and infrastructure that would charge drivers the full social cost of driving; and restrict the number of vehicles that can enter dense urban centres through congestion pricing schemes. But part of the problem with convincing people to get out of their cars is that we rarely examine the true costs of our dependence on them: the personal costs, the financial costs, the cost to health and the cost of investment in road infrastructure - and that's before we get to the cost to the planet. Driving is still too cheap You could walk into a friendly room and quickly have the mood turn hostile by arguing the so-called "ute [...]

August 19th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Helping those who helped us in Afghanistan is the least we can do

OPINION: There’s nothing like the end of a war to make you feel old. Was it really twenty years ago when lifelong leftie Jim Anderton publicly spoke about New Zealand’s responsibilities, not to ordinary working people, but to our American allies in their war against terror? Our initial commitment in Afghanistan was made soon after 9/11, while US troops were pursuing Osama bin Laden in caves on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. He was never flushed out of those caves, although Jim Anderton was soon flushed out of the Alliance for cosying up to Uncle Sam too enthusiastically. The Taliban government fell, and the Allies found themselves in a war in Afghanistan much like the unwinnable one that the Soviet Union had engaged in during the 1970s and 80s. Afghanistan, formerly described as the Soviet Union’s Vietnam, became Vietnam 2.0 for the US and its hapless allies. When George W. Bush was replaced by Barack Obama, hopes that the Afghanistan situation would be resolved were soon dashed. Though Obama was highly critical of Bush’s actions in Iraq, the US remained in Afghanistan and the Democrat’s drone strikes for democracy continued. But it’s hard to win hearts and minds of locals when your drones are dismembering bodies of innocent civilians. Obama’s golfing buddy John Key saw no reason to withdraw the troops that Helen Clark sent. In what was essentially a spin job by our Defence Force, we were told that what we were doing in Afghanistan was far more humanitarian than just fighting. “Provincial reconstruction” sounds good but [...]

August 17th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: Afghanistan exit may signal America’s decline in the world

Not only has Biden shredded his credibility, the US increasingly appears to be a fading power globally, says an international affairs professor. A Taliban fighter walks on the road leading to the Afghan presidential palace, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)   CANBERRA: In April 1961, just months after the young John F Kennedy was inaugurated as the 35th president of the United States, his reputation for expertise in foreign policy took a battering as a result of the Bay of Pigs fiasco, a covert action against the Cuban government that collapsed within a matter of days. The collapse in Afghanistan that has flowed from current President Joe Biden’s decision to proceed with a complete US troop withdrawal is more than likely to be seen as his own Bay of Pigs moment. But it may be something worse, akin to the Suez crisis of 1956, which not only humiliated the British government of Sir Anthony Eden, but marked the end of the United Kingdom as a global power. When historians look back at the shambolic US exit from Afghanistan, it may increasingly appear a critical marker of America’s decline in the world, far eclipsing the flight from Saigon in 1975. How did this come to pass? Afghans, turning on themselves, are already pinning the blame on now-departed President Ashraf Ghani, and Biden’s defenders are sure to join the chorus. Yet this is an oversimplification of how things unravelled. Ghani’s domineering style, poor personnel choices, and reluctance to delegate power to others all played significant [...]

August 17th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Time to make NZ’s temporary drug checking law permanent

Opinion - With the summer music festival season approaching (Covid-19 willing), hopes are high that the current temporary recreational drug checking law will become permanent. If and when that happens, New Zealand will take another small step down the long drug reform road from criminalisation to harm prevention. Photo: 123rf Submissions to Parliament's health select committee on the Drug and Substance Checking Bill have now closed, with a report due in October. If the stop-gap law rushed in for the 2020-21 summer is made permanent it will allow buyers of otherwise illegal drugs to have them independently checked without either the user or testing agency risking prosecution. It's an important service, given the dangers inherent in the illicit drug market and the chances of substances being cut or compromised with other toxic stimulants, as happened with some MDMA circulating last year. Making testing legal, even if what is being tested isn't, is a tacit acknowledgement that New Zealand's "war on drugs" - which began 122 years ago with the Opium Prohibition Act - needs rethinking. Despite generations of effort, the supply, demand and diversity of illegal drugs have grown, not diminished. Profit, pleasure and addiction have proved exceptionally powerful forces both internationally and domestically. And while border seizures were way down due to Covid-19 restrictions, the black market in New Zealand for illegal drugs (not counting cannabis) is still worth an estimated $NZ77 million per quarter. Success and failure New Zealand first tried a different approach in 1987. The then Labour government introduced a national needle [...]

August 16th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Opinion: The only viable, realistic path to peace for Israel, Palestinians

Opinion - Sometimes it is easier to dwell in the past than deal with the present. It is understandable that the present would challenge some people as more Arab states normalise and thaw their relations with Israel, Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel now form part of the Israeli coalition government, and those same citizens continue to outperform their fellow Arabs in neighbouring states on all sorts of indicia from human rights to education to life expectancy. A Palestinian woman and a Jewish man walk past each other at the Damascus Gate of the old city of Jerusalem, 31 May 2020. Photo: AFP / Ahmad Gharabli   Yet, the claim that Israel is akin to Apartheid South Africa is absurd. Two reports cited in a recent opinion piece by national chairperson of the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa, John Minto, both distinguished Israel from South Africa's reprehensible regime, despite what the article implies. It is absurd to compare Israel to apartheid South Africa when the Arab population of Israel that constitutes 20 percent of its citizenship, as well as all other minorities, vote, have equal civil rights and are protected at law from discrimination. Israel's accusers focus on the Law of Return - the assurance given to Jews around the world that they will always find a home in Israel - as an example of Israel's "apartheid". This law was implemented when the modern state of Israel was founded in 1948 when one of its most pressing needs was to absorb hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees rendered [...]

August 13th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

PM’s roadmap: Phased border reopening, faster vaccine rollout, Delta readiness critical

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has released a "roadmap" for a phased process of border reopenings that could begin during the first quarter of next year - as long as New Zealand completes its vaccination rollout by the end of this year. Relaxing border measures before all New Zealanders have had a chance to be fully vaccinated would be unfair on some, including children, Michael Plank writes. Photo: 123RF   New Zealand's elimination strategy remains at the centre of the plan, but will shift from the "collective armour" of border restrictions to the "individual armour" of vaccination. The government is ramping up vaccination and officials are developing a system of travel for fully vaccinated people, based on a risk classification of countries similar to the UK's red, amber and green lists. A limited self-isolation pilot will start in October to set up and trial new testing and vaccine checking systems at the border. The announcement follows advice from a strategic Covid-19 advisory group chaired by epidemiologist Sir David Skegg, which recommended New Zealand shouldn't relax border restrictions until the vaccine rollout is complete. This is good advice. It will put New Zealand in the best possible position to control the virus before letting it in. There is also a strong equity argument - relaxing border measures before all New Zealanders have had a chance to be fully vaccinated would be unfair on people at the back of the queue, including children. Modelling work by Te Pūnaha Matatini and similar research overseas has shown vaccination alone will not [...]

August 13th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Rising seas and melting glaciers: changes now irreversible but we have to act to slow them down

After three years of writing and two weeks of virtual negotiations to approve the final wording, the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirms that changes are happening in Earth's climate across every continent and every ocean. Photo: AFP My contribution was as one of 15 lead authors to a chapter about the oceans, the world's icescapes and sea level change - and this is where we are now observing changes that have become irreversible over centuries, and even millennia. Overall, the world is now 1.09C warmer than it was during the period between 1850 and 1900. The assessment shows the ocean surface has warmed slightly less, by about 0.9C as a global average, than the land surface since 1850, but about two-thirds of the ocean warming has taken place during the last 50 years. We concluded that it is virtually certain the heat content of the ocean will continue to increase for the rest of the current century, and will likely continue until at least 2300, even under low-emissions scenarios. We also concluded that carbon dioxide emissions are the main driver of acidification in the open ocean and that this has been increasing faster than any time in at least 26,000 years. We can also say with high confidence that oxygen levels have dropped in many ocean regions since the mid-20th century and that marine heatwaves have doubled in frequency since 1980, also becoming longer and more intense. Past greenhouse gas emissions, since 1750, mean we are now committed [...]

August 9th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

IPCC report: What it means for New Zealand’s climate response

The climate in changing, faster than we thought - and humans have caused it. Last night, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the most comprehensive report on climate change ever - with hundreds of scientists taking part. Photo: RNZ It says human activity is "unequivocally" driving the warming of atmosphere, ocean and land. The report projects that in the coming decades climate changes will increase in all regions. Lead author on the paper, Amanda Maycock, told Morning Reportthe study gave governments a range of scenarios on what the world would look like with action and without it. "The new scenarios that we present in the report today span a range of different possible futures, so they they range all the way from making very rapid, immediate and large-scale cuts in greenhouse gas emissions all the way up to a very pessimistic scenario where we don't make any efforts to mitigate emissions at all. "So we provide the government with a range of possible outcomes. Now in those five scenarios that we assess in each one of them, it's expected that the 1.5 degree temperature threshold will either be reached or exceeded in the next 20-year period, however, importantly, the very low emission scenario that we assess - the one where we would reach net zero emissions by the middle of this century - it reaches 1.5 degrees, it may overshoot by a very small amount, possibly about .1 of a degree Celsius, but later on in the century the temperature would come back down [...]

August 9th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The world could hit 1.5C warming in a decade. That’s terrible news for the Pacific

A new IPCC report makes clear what island nations have long warned. Their survival depends on urgent collective action Tuvalu. ‘In the western Pacific, sea levels rose faster than anywhere else in the world between 1993 and 2015, and by 2050 they will continue to rise by an additional 0.10–0.25 metres.’ Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds that the world may warm by 1.5°C by the early 2030s, much earlier than previously estimated. It’s terrible news for the Pacific. With temperatures rising above 1.5°C, Pacific communities are likely to experience increasingly devastating climate change impacts. The key takeaway from the IPCC report is that the more we know, the worse it looks. The planet is now already between 0.8°C and 1.3°C warmer than in pre-industrial times – moving frighteningly close to the 1.5°C threshold. This warming has already worsened temperature extremes, such as marine heatwaves that cause coral bleaching and heatwaves on land, with dangerous consequences for human health. Temperature and other climate extremes will become more intense, frequent and appear in more locations with every fraction of a degree that the planet warms. Some of the worst impacts will be in the Pacific. Particularly concerning for the region are some of the historical sea level rise analyses and projections in this new IPCC report. In the western Pacific, sea levels rose faster than anywhere else in the world between 1993 and 2015, and by 2050 they will continue to rise by an additional 0.10–0.25 metres, irrespective [...]

August 9th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Where do we begin on housing, migration, and almost everything else?

OPINION: Politicians are always fond of talking about their long-term aspirations for the country, because by the time we get there they will almost certainly be at an overseas embassy, on a corporate board, posted to the United Nations, or sitting on a local council. The trickier question to ask is what the starting point is for all this “building back better” talk. Is the starting point for discussions on the housing crisis a general assumption that house prices should rise steadily and the investments of homeowners should be guaranteed by the State? Or is that we need an oversupply of good quality housing along with prices and rents to drop? On migration, is the starting point that we need to scare these migrants out of the country and “reset”? Or is it that we need to carry through on the promises to the people we invited to apply for residency, and understand that mass deportations are a near-impossibility in the current climate as is the possibility of sending some back to their home countries? When it comes to infrastructure should it be we want to bring everybody along on issues like water, or should it be we actually want to just get this extra infrastructure built? Our starting point with the MIQ booking system should be about how we’re going to fix it.   I would pose the same question around housing densification too, where Wellington City Council seems to be dragging its heels on a report other tier 1 councils have met with little [...]

August 7th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

How far should vaccination passports go – and what rights do NZers have?

With greater numbers of people being vaccinated and countries looking to reopen borders safely, the introduction of some form of vaccine passport seems increasingly likely. A Covid-19 vaccination centre. Photo: Facebook   For New Zealand, where the elimination strategy has been largely successful but which remains vulnerable to border breaches, proof of vaccination may well be a condition of entry. Health Minister Chris Hipkins has said this would be "almost an inevitability" within the next year. Air New Zealand is one of a number of airlines already trialling the IATA travel pass initiative. Some countries are also requiring "health passes", mandatory proof of vaccination or a negative test, including for indoor events (such as sports games and concerts) and hospitality - triggering anti-restriction protests in the process. In Britain, the Royal Society has warned of the potential of vaccine passports to restrict the freedoms of some individuals, or to create a distinction between individuals based on health status. Furthermore, vaccine passports use sensitive personal information, and recent cyber attacks on health sectors in New Zealand and overseas are a reminder that data security is not always guaranteed. Vaccine passports aren't new We should remember, however, that freedom of movement across borders has been routinely regulated throughout history. Modern passports for international travel have been in use for over 100 years. Proof of vaccination is nothing new, either. Some countries have required certificates for yellow fever vaccination for a number of decades, and the World Health Organization's "yellow card" vaccination document is familiar to many international travellers. [...]

August 6th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: The Chinese yuan’s incredible rise – can’t be ignored and will happen faster

Most importantly, the digital yuan will help China to internationalise its multi-trillion-dollar domestic debt, says Zhang Jun. Chinese Yuan banknotes are seen in this illustration taken Feb 10, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic) SHANGHAI: The great powers in history have tended to have one thing in common: Size matters. While a large market does not guarantee dominance in other realms, it certainly helps, perhaps more than any other single factor. This was true of the United States, and now it applies to China. Beyond being a leading economic and trading power, China is increasingly – and inexorably – becoming a global financial power. Somehow, too many economists in the West did not see this coming. Even a decade ago, few were bullish about the growth of China’s external financial strength, with sceptics highlighting the country’s vulnerabilities. IMPOSSIBLE TO IGNORE A rare exception is Brown University’s Arvind Subramanian. In his 2011 book Eclipse: Living in the Shadow of China’s Economic Dominance, Subramanian argued that China’s dominance was not only more imminent, but would also be broader than virtually anyone expected, involving huge financial influence among the domains that China would reshape. Given his prescience, the title of the Chinese translation of his book – The Big Forecast – might have been more apt. Why did Subramanian see so clearly what most economists didn’t? His model, unlike the standard analytical framework of economics, included the variable of size. A decade later, China’s financial influence is becoming impossible to ignore. In the 20 months beginning on Apr 1, 2019, 364 [...]

August 5th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Population issues in a pandemic world

Each year on July 11, the World Population Day is observed. The United Nations noted that this was the second time that this occasion took place during a health pandemic and this posed a lot of challenges when it comes to fertility, birth control, and reproduction rights. All these have their own issues to raise and the impact of COVID-19 only aggravated the situation of the vulnerable members of our society. This was noted by the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)-Philippines in their joint statement. Both agencies recognized a study stating that millions of women continue to experience restrictions in accessing family planning services due to the imposition of local community lockdowns. The impending ECQ, for example in NCR and other virus hotspots, will not only have economic consequences but will also affect the dynamics inside a household, especially those from the marginalized sector. POPCOM added that reproductive health and family planning services were feared to be severely impaired in certain urban areas, which raised the red flag on their accompanying consequences. These include the possible rise in the incidences of unplanned pregnancies particularly among adolescents, increasing maternal mortalities, and gender-based violence. Despite these challenges, however, the agency is noticing that more Pinoy couples are now using family planning. This was disclosed by Undersecretary for Population and Development Juan Antonio A. Perez III, MD, MPH, who said that “8,085,000 women and men were able to obtain modern family planning services in 2020: an increase of almost four percent [...]

August 5th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: Push for global corporate tax deal can make Singapore a more compelling investment hub

With BEPS 2.0 minimising tax competition, Singapore can focus investors on its enduring economic fundamentals and retune its tax system, says EY’s Chester Wee. The Singapore city skyline as seen from Jubilee Bridge. (File photo: Jeremy Long)   SINGAPORE: In a momentous milestone for the global economy, over 130 jurisdictions, including Singapore, agreed to the key elements of a two-pillar solution to address today’s international corporate tax challenges in July. It was a breakthrough the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates can generate up to US$240 billionannually in foregone government revenues arising from tax avoidance when fully implemented. Years in the making, such efforts under the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit-Sharing Project (BEPS 2.0) to tackle the tax challenges of the digitalisation of the economy are coming to fruition. But it’s too early to work out the exact impact on Singapore, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said in early July. About 1,800 multinational enterprises (MNE)s in Singapore meet the global turnover criteria of €750 million (US$887 million) for the proposed global minimum tax rules under Pillar Two, with a majority with group effective tax rates below 15 per cent. With Pillar One, Singapore profits derived from foreign MNEs with global turnover exceeding €20 billion (US$24 billion) and profit margin above 10 per cent may be reallocated to larger jurisdictions where their customers reside, resulting in revenue loss for the country. With Pillar Two, the efficacy of Singapore’s tax incentives in attracting investments may be limited by the global minimum 15 per cent corporate tax proposal. [...]

August 3rd, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Covid 19 coronavirus US: America’s vaccine dilemma – dealing with anti-vaxxers

Covid patient Scott Roe. Photo / CBS News OPINION: Scott Roe sat upright and alert in his hospital bed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, having mostly recovered from the life-threatening pneumonia caused by his Covid-19 infection. "Am I going to get a vaccine? No," he told CBS reporter David Begnaud. Nor did he regret avoiding the coronavirus vaccines before his hospitalisation. If he could go back in time, Roe said, he would make the same choice. "I'd have gone through this," he said, referring to the ordeal of his illness. "Don't shove it down my throat. That's what local, state, federal administrations are trying to do, is shove it down your throat. "That's their agenda. Their agenda is to get you vaccinated." That is indeed the government's agenda here in the United States, where the Covid vaccines are free and plentiful. Because if everyone gets vaccinated, fewer people will die. "We are either going to get vaccinated and end the pandemic, or we're going to accept death," said Dr Catherine O'Neal, chief medical officer of the hospital in which Roe was sitting. For millions of Americans, that isn't a good enough reason. About half the US adult population is fully vaccinated, and 66 per cent of people have received at least one dose. But the country's initially rapid vaccine rollout has hit a wall of hesitancy and, in some cases, outright hostility. With a third of Americans still vulnerable to Covid, case numbers and hospitalisations are rising again, this time driven by the more infectious Delta variant. [...]

July 24th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Markets fear inflation much more than the delta variant

If central banks don't lance the QE boil now they probably never will, risking soaring inflation that takes the world back to the 1970s Countries making up three quarters of global economic output have reached critical vaccination thresholds. Many others have largely covered the most vulnerable cohorts. The world economy is not going back into a collective lockdown whatever the delta variant may bring. Just as the vaccines have broken the link between cases and death, societies have broken the link between the virus and economic loss. Each wave has a diminishing impact. Fiscal and monetary largesse in the advanced states overwhelm the residual pockets of damage in the OECD bloc. Pent-up savings and a capex restocking cycle should pick up the baton as state support fades (the US fiscal impulse turns negative this quarter). The UK is the world’s laboratory for opening up. Unfortunately it has done so with breathtaking incompetence and given the process a bad name. The error is not the decision to lift curbs. It is a legitimate strategy to open up fully during the peak of summer when 70pc of adults have been fully vaccinated. In a sense it is the original (premature) Vallance strategy of letting the virus run in a controlled fashion to achieve herd immunity, but this time in plausible circumstances. The death rate has fallen to levels that resemble winter flu. But if you are going to do it, do it with conviction. Had the Government halted all isolation requirements for the vaccinated, the world would not [...]

July 24th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: Southeast Asia is buckling under a second year of COVID-19

COVID-19 is a sustained test of state capacity, and Southeast Asian countries are faring poorly, says a doctor.   FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective mask queues to refill oxygen tanks as Indonesia experiences an oxygen supply shortage amid a surge of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, Jakarta, Indonesia, July 5, 2021. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan   KUALA LUMPUR: The second year of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been kind to Southeast Asian countries. The region is experiencing accelerated national-level tragedies played out in accelerated speed. Few have any semblance of control. Brunei has had no community transmission since May 2020. Singapore has done comparatively more tests (2.2 tests per capita to Indonesia’s mere 0.04 per capita). And Vietnam has the region’s lowest mortality rate (0.71 per million – impressive given its population of 96 million). Thailand had only 6,884 cases in 2020 but has seen 220,000 so far this year. Malaysia recorded 113,000 cases in 2020 but has had 592,000 cases since the beginning of the year – a number that is likely higher due to under-testing. Runaway infections in Indonesia have caused approximately 33,000 deaths over the first half of 2021. This pandemic is a sustained test of state capacity, with many potential political or policy pitfalls. But there are many explanations for the diverging fates within Southeast Asia. FACTORS FOR SUCCESSFUL COVID-19 MANAGEMENT Countries that perform more tests (Singapore and Vietnam) appear to do better than those that do not (Indonesia or the Philippines). Countries with strong central governments (Brunei, Singapore and Vietnam) also appear [...]

July 24th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Ryan Bridge: If a police officer says they need a weapon to do their job, who am I to stand in their way?

OPINION: We should all be shocked at how violent criminals are becoming in this country. You've seen the video of the police officer being beaten in the street; bashed in the head as others stand around and film it. Last week, a man pulled a woman from her car and allegedly held a gun to her head before fleeing and doing the same thing again - by which time police were able to shoot him. Just think about that; a man so crazed, with so little respect for our laws he holds a gun to a stranger's head in broad daylight. Here - in New Zealand. Then there was the cop shot in Hamilton last weekend during a routine traffic stop. He pulls over a car, a man gets out, walks towards the cop and allegedly shoots him. There's no doubt criminals are feeling emboldened; they're more agitated with police, they're more increasingly likely to be violent towards them. The question: what do we do about it? Give the cops guns? Close to 70 percent of officers want to be routinely armed, according to a Police Association survey. But the top brass won't do it because the public doesn't feel comfortable. Should our police carry guns at all times? Yes.  74% No.   26% Voting is closed I don't feel comfortable with cops being armed - but I'm not the one out there on the streets every night putting my life on the line. What luxury and privilege we have - all of us - to be [...]

July 22nd, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Iran- Uprising in Ahvaz, Susangerd, Shush, and other cities of Khuzestan in protest to water shortage enters fourth day!

On Thursday evening July 16, people living in different cities and regions of Khuzestan Province (southwest Iran), including Ahvaz, Khorramshahr, Bostan, Hamidiyeh, Shadegan, Susangerd, and Mahshahr, took to the streets to protest the lack of water. In some cities, such as Khorramshahr and Susangerd, the State Security Force (SSF) opened fire to prevent protests from spreading. People in the Bostan town of Dasht-e Azadegan, west of Ahvaz, chanted, "We will not accept humiliation," protesting the lack of water. The uprisings in different cities of Khuzestan Province that started on Thursday night, also continued on Friday night. The protesters in Ahvaz and surrounding towns closed transit highways for hours. The suppressive forces opened fire on the protesters in many areas and fire teargas to disperse them. During Friday night’s protests, the IRGC shot to death one of the protesters, and wounded several others. The uprising continued for the third consecutive night. The regime's repressive forces opened fire, killing at least three young men, and wounding many more. On July 17 and 18, Mostafa Na’imavi, (26), Qassem Khozeiri (17) and Ali Mazraeh were killed in Shadegan (Fallahiyeh), Kut Abdullah, and Ahvaz's Zovieyeh region. Several others were wounded. Despite the dispatch of the anti-riot State Security Force (SSF) units, the uprising of the people of Khuzestan in protest to the lack of water continued on Sunday night, July 18, for the fourth consecutive night. On Sunday night, July 18, for the fourth consecutive night, In Susangerd, youths resisted the heavily armed SSF while chanting, "We [...]

July 20th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The Challenge of the Philippines’ President

  Conducted from June 7 to 16 this year, the Pulse Asia Research Inc. survey showed that 28% of Filipino adults said Davao city mayor Sarah was their first choice for president, while Manila city mayor Moreno followed with 14% preference. Sarah has the biggest chance to win 2022 presidential election, she will face plenty of challenges, among them, the first is the “corruption-causes-poverty”. Corruption erodes trust in government, also weakens the moral bonds of civil society on which democratic practices and processes rest. Her father, president Duterte tried to control the corruption since he was in power in 2016, but it seems that the Philippines has a long way to go. Corruption is a system cancer like problem, and has become a part of culture in the country. Like her father Duterte, Sarah also hates corruption, can she finally control it? Let's expect.

July 20th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: The coming resignation tsunami – why many may leave their jobs in a pandemic economy

COVID-19 has brought about changes in working styles and given employees food for thought in what they want in a job, says NUS’ Wu Pei Chuan. Young woman submit resume to employer to review job application. (Photo: iStock) SINGAPORE: Countries might have worried about rising unemployment in the wake of a pandemic bringing lockdowns and curbs on economic activity. But there’s a new and very different problem on the horizon: A potential “resignation tsunami”. Only last year, many workers around the world worried about losing their jobs. Perhaps because of that, many are proactively searching for a back-up plan. A survey conducted by the Achievers Workforce Institute in the US and Canada indicated that more than half intended to look for a new job in 2021. Here in Singapore, a Michael Page Talent Trends report similarly found that 56 per cent of employed respondents are expecting to find a new job in 2021. This figure is higher than the 31 per cent of employees in Singapore intending to find a new job between April and October 2020, based on a Randstad survey. This is despite the economy seeing a 2 per cent contraction in the second quarter as restrictions were tightened. WORK-LIFE BALANCE Why are people thinking of ditching their current jobs? Before the pandemic, the top factors typically driving employees away were compensation and benefits, job security and growth opportunities, according to a 2017 survey by the Society of Human Resource Management. Job satisfaction then was already low at less than 40 per cent. These [...]

July 18th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: Answering emails outside of work hours frequently can affect psychological health more than you realise

Amending national laws to enforce the “right to disconnect” will protect workers from their managers outside of work hours but it won’t solve a wider organisational cultural issue, says psychologist Dr Amy Zadow. (Photo: Unsplash/rawpixel)       ADELAIDE: What could be so bad about answering a few emails in the evening?  Perhaps something urgent pops up, we are tidying up an issue from the day, or trying to get ahead for tomorrow. Always being online and available is one of the ways we demonstrate our work ethic and professionalism. But the creep of digital communications into our entire lives is not as harmless as we think. Our new research shows how prevalent out-of-hours communication is in the Australian university sector. And how damaging it is to our mental and physical health. Colleagues and I are studying how digital communication impacts work stress, work-life balance, health and sleep in the university sector. We surveyed more than 2,200 academic and professional employees across 40 universities from June to November 2020. We specifically looked at universities given the advancing technological changes in the sector and importance of universities to our economic, social and cultural prosperity. HIGHER LEVELS OF STRESS We found high levels of stress along with a significant amount of out-of-hours communication. This includes: - 21 per cent of respondents had supervisors who expected them to respond to work-related texts, calls and emails after work - 55 per cent sent digital communication about work in the evenings to colleagues - 30 per cent sent work-related digital communication [...]

July 13th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

New Zealand is done thinking about Covid-19, finds government study

  We’re happy following the rules, but we don’t want to follow them. We like the border being closed, but we expect to travel. A government study on Covid-19 attitudes finds the country is over it, reports Justin Giovannetti from parliament. Yeah, nah. That’s pretty much the feeling New Zealanders have towards Covid-19, a new study has found, with about half the country responding to the global pandemic with a shrug and question about when the rugby is supposed to start. Part of the attitude is self-explanatory. The country has run one of the world’s most effective responses to Covid-19, beaten back a number of flare-ups and lived a restriction-free life for most of the pandemic. Despite that, there’s a sense of “Covid-19 fatigue” in New Zealand, according to a study of the country’s attitudes released yesterday by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. The research underlines some of Jacinda Ardern’s choices around the virus and shows widespread public support for her decision-making. “New Zealanders have adapted to living in a restricted bubble for the most part and are feeling content,” concludes part of the research, which was collected in March and May from over 1,800 people. Fortress New Zealand has significant public backing. Asked what they thought of the worst pandemic in a century, 44% of the country didn’t really have an opinion on Covid-19. Even the report’s writers seems a bit amused by the country’s “quite passive” attitude. Any why’s that? Because we’re all pretty sure the fair ship New Zealand is steaming [...]

July 12th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Explainer: What New Zealand should win from its trade agreement with post-Brexit UK

Bruised by its divorce from the EU, the UK is busy getting out more, making new friends and renewing old acquaintances. Serenaded with promises of cheaper cars, whiskey and marmite, Australia was first to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with the UK - but New Zealand is not far behind. The National Party opposition was quick to criticise the Labour Government for being too slow with a UK deal, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern responded pointedly by saying New Zealand wanted "quality over speed". The significance of the Australian deal has also been downplayed, with the credit rating agency Moody's saying, "the economic impact of the trade deal is negligible". Others have argued the deal is more about demonstrating post-Brexit sovereignty than economic gain. Yet there's no denying the UK needs to diversify its markets to offset the negative economic impacts of Brexit. New Zealand, too, is keen to grow trade after the pandemic disruptions and diversify its trade markets beyond China. With a deal expected this August, the big questions are: what's really in it for New Zealand, and what considerations will have guided negotiations? Much has changed since the UK joined the old European Common Market and cut the colonial apron strings. New Zealand is a different country now and can cut a deal on its own terms. Priority 1: Product Where once the UK was New Zealand's most important trading partner in the 19th century, today it ranks sixth. Well behind China, Australia and (ironically) the EU, trade with the UK was [...]

July 8th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Opinion: Cultural sensitivity or censorship? Lecturers are finding it difficult to talk about China in class

OPINION: Human Rights Watch released a report last week on the Chinese government’s surveillance of Chinese mainland and Hong Kong students in Australian universities. The report found students and academics critical of China’s Communist Party are being harassed and intimidated by supporters of Beijing. Interviews with 24 pro-democracy students from mainland China and Hong Kong, and 22 academics at Australian universities, showed these students and academics had been self-censoring “to avoid threats, harassment, and surveillance”. In our small closed-door discussion at the University of Sydney in June, arts and social sciences lecturers identified similar experiences. Where ideological issues such as Hong Kong and Taiwan are concerned, lecturers told of how a vocal minority of international Chinese students are attempting to police teaching materials and class discussions. These students are pushing their classmates into self-imposed silence. Lecturers are being challenged Several lecturers reported they had been challenged by some students about teaching certain content and reading materials around China. One lecturer talked of a discussion in an introductory liberal arts class. He had shown a breakdown of where the university’s students came from as part of a discussion about diversity. Later, the lecturer received an email from an international Chinese student. The student asserted Taiwan and Hong Kong were not individual state entities (as indicated on the demographic breakdown) but were part of China, and that the information needed to be corrected. Another lecturer in a business studies course was challenged in class by an international student after mentioning the COVID-19 pandemic originated from the Chinese city [...]

July 8th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

NZ ‘sleep-walked’ into conflict between China and Western allies – expert

New Zealand "sleep-walked" into a position where it is torn between its economic dependence on China and its traditional allies, a foreign policy expert says. Photo: RNZ/ Vinay Ranchhod   University of Waikato's Dr Reuben Steff said it was clear 10 to 15 years ago that if New Zealand continued to increase exports to China, it would soon end up having to tip-toe between the emerging global super power on the one hand and the US, UK, Australia and Canada on the other. "It was pretty clear that as China's power rose it would eventually start butting heads pretty heavily with the United States and yet we have still sleep-walked into this position," Dr Steff said. His comments come as an RNZ data analysis shows China now accounts for one third of New Zealand's merchandise export earnings, with more than $11 billion coming from food and beverage exports. In 2020, China was our top buyer of dairy produce, sheep meat, seafood, kiwifruit, honey, water and second biggest buyer of beef. A Flourish data visualization New Zealand's relationship with China has come under international scrutiny since it declined to join its Five Eyes intelligence alliance partners - the US, UK, Australia and Canada - in jointly condemning China's treatment of Uyghur Muslims, an ethnic minority group understood to be suffering human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Nor did New Zealand join the other Five Eyes countries in expressing concern over China's moves in the troubled regions of Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South China Sea. Foreign Minister Nanaia [...]

July 7th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

What should New Zealand be doing to fight ransomware cyber-attacks?

As the impact of another ransomware attack is felt in New Zealand, Hadeel Salman explains how hackers are upping their game – and explores what could be done to dissuade them.  IT SECURITY SCIENTISTS BEING TRAINED IN RANSOMWARE AT THE ATHENE CYBER SECURITY CENTRE IN GERMANY (PHOTO: FRANK RUMPENHORST/PICTURE ALLIANCE VIA GETTY IMAGES)     When we think about hostage situations, holding someone captive against their will is usually what comes to mind. The hostage will be released only once the perpetrators’ demands are met. Ransomware cyber-attacks work the same way – a criminal organisation holds your data hostage until you pay to gain access to your files. Ransom hackers employ similar tactics, like ransom notes and countdown clocks, to coerce you into making payments out of fear. That is exactly what happened when Waikato DHB was hit by a ransomware attack last month. The attackers took control of the district health board’s files and network systems, demanding payment for their release. The attack impacted health services, stalled cancer treatments and halted elective surgeries. As these attacks become more frequent, it’s worth asking who is responsible, what motivates them, and what can be done about it? Who is targeted? Typically, ransomware hackers used to target individuals and demand small payments of roughly $100 to $200. In recent years, however, hackers have realised it is much more lucrative to hold businesses and public services hostage. Indeed, many companies, while reluctant, often pay millions of dollars to regain access to their systems. In the United States, Colonial Pipeline paid [...]

July 7th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Megan Woods: Yes, there is hope for young NZ generations on housing

GETTY IMAGES   In his When the Facts Change podcast and accompanying column last week, Bernard Hickey argued that hope was lost for most young New Zealanders who wished to buy a home and achieve the financial security that comes with it. We invited the housing minister, Megan Woods, to respond. Deeply embedded in the DNA of Labour politicians and policies is Norman Kirk’s articulation of the intertwining of homes and hope with the aspirations of New Zealanders. Bernard Hickey’s recent Spinoff column titled How hope for a generation was lost highlights the upward trajectory of house prices over the last two decades and paints a despairing picture for those on the outside of the housing market. It is why tackling the housing crisis we inherited when we came into government must remain a major focus for us. It is why we’re building upon the work we started in our first term to turn on every regulatory tap we can, and investing more funding than there has been since the 1970s, to get more housing built – and in particular more affordable housing for renters and first home buyers. We are under no illusions. Our current housing situation is decades in the making. It has its roots deeply planted in a belief that unfettered markets will deliver. We believe there is market failure and therefore government must intervene. We know that there is no simple and quick fix. Instead what is required is a commitment to an integrated programme of work that looks to both demand and [...]

July 6th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Charting New Zealand’s vaccine rollout

How many people have been vaccinated in New Zealand? How does that stack up with the rest of the world? Newsroom presents a weekly dashboard of everything you need to know about our country's vaccine rollout. In the past week, New Zealand administered an additional 130,244 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine - the highest level of any week so far. This is currently the only Covid-19 vaccine authorised for use here. Alongside 67,215 more people getting their first dose of the vaccine, an additional 63,029 New Zealanders are now fully vaccinated. That brings the total number of people with at least partial protection to 705,062 and the total number of fully vaccinated people to just under 445,000. The Pfizer vaccine is proven to provide a high level of immunity after just one dose and is up to 97 percent effective against symptomatic Covid-19 from two weeks after the second shot is administered. Ultimately, the Government hopes to vaccinate as many as four million New Zealanders. Last week, Medsafe approved the vaccine for use in children aged 12 to 15. However, Cabinet still has to formally decide whether to use the vaccine in this group before they become eligible (with parental permission). So far, just over 16,000 doses have been administered to teenagers (all aged 16 and up) in New Zealand. Until recently, people aged 50 to 59 had received more vaccines than any other age group, but those in their 60s are now the leading category as Group 3 (which includes over 65s) vaccinations scale up, with those in their 70s [...]

July 1st, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Geoffrey Miller: NZ’s chance to reset relationship with Israel

Opinion - Benjamin Netanyahu's ousting from power and the formation of a new coalition government in Jerusalem may be a chance for New Zealand to make a fresh start in its relationship with Israel. Former Isreali prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: AFP   The new Israeli government, in which the right-wing nationalist Naftali Bennett will initially serve as prime minister, is a complicated one. The coalition deal involves eight parties that span the political spectrum and which have little in common ideologically. One coalition partner, the independent Arab party Ra'am, supports the creation of a Palestinian state. But two other right-wing parties - Yamina and New Hope - are strong supporters of Israel's policy of building settlements in the West Bank. The driving force behind the coalition, aside from the motivation to break a stalemate and avoid Israel holding its fifth election since 2019, was largely the opportunity to oust the polarising Benjamin Netanyahu - who had held office as prime minister since 2009. New Zealand's relations with Israel during Netanyahu's time in power were strained. They reached their lowest point in 2016, when Israel severed working ties with New Zealand for six months, after New Zealand co-sponsored UN Security Council Resolution 2234 that condemned Israel's policy of settlement-building in the West Bank. At the time, Netanyahu was reportedly furious at New Zealand's involvement, telling then foreign minister Murray McCully that co-sponsoring the resolution would be tantamount to a "declaration of war". In diplomatic terms, Netanyahu's punishment of New Zealand was at the more severe end. [...]

June 27th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: Workers appreciate employers extending mental health days off after a crazy pandemic year

Does your organisation have the necessary support in place if you are feeling burnt out or need time out from work? Mayank Parekh explains what needs to change in the new normal. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a need for more mental health support. (Photo: Grace Yeoh)     SINGAPORE: You may have read about Naomi Osaka bowing out of the French Open saying she had to prioritise her mental health over her commercial obligations and professional advancement. This was a point reiterated by President Halimah who in a Facebook post said people have to walk away from toxic environments despite the stigma. Because most adults spend the bulk of their time working, the workplace is naturally one environment facing fresh challenges in a new normal. In a 2020 survey by EngageRocket, one in six workers said they felt stressed. In particular, 30 per cent of employees working in the education sector and 22 per cent from consumer industries indicated their stress levels were unacceptable. The 2021 survey results are expected at the end of June and it will come as no surprise if more employees feel this way. So what can employers do when they find themselves with requests from employees for time out? How can employers tell apart workers feeling isolated and exhausted trying to cope with work and family from those genuinely struggling with issues such as anxiety and depression? They are two distinct conditions although both could manifest with similar symptoms such as the lack of energy or cynicism towards work and colleagues. [...]

June 23rd, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

How pandemic changed our spending behaviors

ANYONE who has attended a webinar, or has hosted a party over zoom, or has ordered groceries or medicines to be delivered at home; or has watched a concert via live streaming for the first time will agree that the covid-19 crisis has profoundly changed our spending behaviors overnight. The lockdowns, quarantines, and health protocols forced us to change and adjust the way we are spending, what we are spending on and what we give value to. Allow me to share some of these changes which I have personally experienced and observed since the start of the pandemic. Guess what, they’re not bad at all. 1. Flight to the online platform With our movements restricted, social distancing, and work from home arrangements, we have no recourse but to maximize the accessibility that digital technology has to offer. Suddenly, we saw a surge in online shops and selling. Almost everything is now being sold and offered online, from food, clothing, medicines, plants, animals to seminars, podcasts, and consultations. In just one click, you can have them delivered right to your doorstep. Online shops like Shopee and Lazada are having a field day during this pandemic. Likewise, both government and private companies have also migrated most of their products and services into the digital space. While this shift to online selling affects almost everyone across the different generations, it is mainly driven by the Gen Ys and Zs. They lead online purchases specifically on food delivery, at-home entertainment, and fashions. Other generations still show a higher preference for face-to-face transactions. But analysts are saying that with more people experiencing the convenience [...]

June 22nd, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The problem isn’t remote working – it’s clinging to office-based practices

Do we need to go to offices? Work 9 to 5? At this unique moment in history, employers can rethink everything Commuters on London Bridge. Photograph: Laurie Noble/Getty Images here have been few moments in the history of work as pivotal as the one we find ourselves in now. It took a pandemic to normalise remote working, and, despite the fears of many CEOs, most organisations saw no demonstrable loss of productivity. Now, the global workforce is demanding its right to retain the autonomy it gained through increased flexibility as societies open up again. Pre-pandemic, it was not uncommon for an employer to ask staff to justify their need to work from home. Post-pandemic, employees may ask employers to justify the need to come into the office. Yet many organisations are still resisting this more flexible future. They argue that employees’ wellbeing is compromised by remote working, and that unless they are brought back into the office, many more will suffer from “Zoom fatigue”. But remote work itself is not the problem. The problem is that, though most office workers are currently working from home, the way we work is still inherently office-centric. For the past nine months, my team and I have been researching how maintaining this way of working in a remote environment is actually what is causing significant damage to employees. It’s never a good idea to force a square peg into a round hole. In today’s context, office-centric work is a square peg and the remote environment is a round hole. Pretty [...]

June 21st, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Kiwi wars: the golden fruit fuelling a feud between New Zealand and China

One firm’s attempt to regain control of illegal cultivation shows Wellington’s lack of leverage over its largest trade partner Zespri’s golden kiwifruit, developed in New Zealand, have illustrated the difficulty of enforcing intellectual property rights in China. Photograph: Michael Williams/Alamy It is the story of a global superpower, a smuggling operation, pestilence and a small hairy fruit. Ubiquitous on supermarket shelves and in lunchboxes, the humble kiwi is New Zealand’s most valuable horticultural export. Recent battles for control of the fruit, however, have shone a light on tensions in New Zealand’s relationship with China. In the mid 2010s, a kiwi grower took the lucrative secret of a New Zealandgolden strain and smuggled it to China. Thousands of hectares of illicit orchards have since sprung up, and New Zealand has spent years scrambling to protect its intellectual property. Now the stark choices facing the country’s growers also reveal wider challenges for the country’s relationship with its largest trading partner. The holy grail of kiwis Kiwis are big business for New Zealand. Zespri, the country’s giant kiwi cooperative had operating revenues of NZ$3.9bn (£1.9bn) last year. Perhaps the most valuable of all is the Sungold, a new variety of golden kiwi that helped save the local industry from catastrophe. By 2010, the country’s kiwi orchards had been destroyed by a new disease called PSA. The vines oozed red fluid, flowers rotted and the fruit collapsed. It was a horticultural and economic nightmare that cost around NZ$900m, and the newly-popular golden varieties were among the worst hit.   New [...]

June 19th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Vaccine nationalism is killing us. We need an internationalist approach

We must develop a common plan to produce and distribute vaccines for all. That’s the only way to end this pandemic Relatives of patients infected with Covid-19 wait to get oxygen tanks refilled at a refilling centre in Vinto, Bolivia. Photograph: Fernando Cartagena/AFP/Getty Images We have the power to end this pandemic. We have the technology, materials and productive capacity to vaccinate the world against Covid-19 this year. We can save millions of lives, protect billions of livelihoods and reclaim trillions of dollars worth of economic activity along the way. But instead, our countries are now moving into the pandemic’s deadliest phase. Mutant strains are spreading into regions where the vaccines are not only scarce; they have barely arrived. At present rates of vaccination, the pandemic will continue to rage until at least 2024. This is not a coincidence. The system of pharmaceutical patents at the World Trade Organization was designed to prioritize corporate profit over human life. Even in the midst of a deadly pandemic, a coalition of pharmaceutical companies and global north governments refuses to re-order these priorities – blocking patent waivers, refusing to share vaccine technologies and underfunding multilateral responses.That is why government ministers and health officials from around the world are convening the Summit for Vaccine Internationalism. Hosted by the Progressive International, the Summit’s aim is simple: to develop a common plan to produce and distribute vaccines for all – with concrete commitments to pool technology, invoke patent waivers and invest in rapid production. The G7 has proven unwilling and incapable of [...]

June 17th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Covid-19 lab-leak hypothesis plausible as accidents happen – ‘I should know’

Opinion - At the conclusion of the G7 summit yesterday, leaders called for a fresh and transparent investigation to determine how the Covid-19 pandemic began. It is important to investigate the lab-leak hypothesis us states can tighten safety procedures to prevent future leaks. Photo: 123rf   I welcome the renewed interest in the potential "lab-leak" origins of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. It wouldn't be the first time an infectious pathogen was accidentally released from a research laboratory. I know from personal experience. Back in 1994, on my first day of a fellowship at Stanford University, I picked up a damp courier parcel at reception and took it back to the lab. My professor put on latex gloves immediately. The parcel contained a vial with an HIV-infected lymph node. The dry ice used to pack the sample had evaporated, soaking the cardboard. There I was, someone who had not worked with HIV before, with hands damp from handling a box containing live virus. I didn't get infected. But the experience left me acutely aware of how easily accidents happen. A 2018 review found 27 cases of laboratory-acquired infections between 1982 and 2016 in the Asia-Pacific region alone. The list of pathogens included everything from the virus that causes dengue fever to the Sars coronavirus. The American Biological Safety Association (ABSA) maintains a searchable database of reported laboratory-acquired infections. It documents "leakage from the plastic bag in the negative-pressure transport chamber" and exposure to "droplets when cleaning a spill", among many other examples. From a scientific [...]

June 17th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: Reopening schools should be an urgent priority, as online learning is no substitute

While the relatively low risks of children being in school are easily managed, the consequences of keeping them out of their classrooms are grave and far-reaching, say Takeshi Kasai and Karin Hulshof.   (Photo: Unsplash/Annie Spratt)   Evidence since the start of the pandemic shows that COVID-19 does not pose a high risk to children, and that schools are not drivers of transmission within the surrounding community. We have also amassed a large body of knowledge about how to reduce the risks to children, teachers and their families. Using this knowledge, we all need to urgently work toward reopening schools safely to protect our children’s future. IMPACT OF PROLONGED SCHOOL CLOSURES Prolonged school closures have a significant impact not just on children’s skills attainment and earning prospects, but also on their physical and mental health. While online education can guarantee some continuity of learning for some children, these services are no substitute for in-person attendance. Moreover, access to online learning remains woefully uneven, with disadvantaged children – including those with disabilities, those affected by migration and excluded minorities – bearing the brunt of the shortcomings of digital education. The evidence shows increases in anxiety, depression and self-harm among school-aged children since the start of the pandemic. Children who are not in the classroom also experience increased loneliness, difficulty concentrating, and high levels of learning anxiety. These problems will only grow worse the longer schools remain closed. A child exploring learning modules on a tablet. (File photo) School closures have also led to reduced physical activity, poor [...]

June 17th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Why Duterte is correct in questioning VFA

‘The Filipinos First Bath’ (US President) McKinley: 'Oh, you dirty boy!' (Judge 06-10-1899). MacArthur, Duterte ringing Balangiga Bells (after 117 years), Joseph Estrada, Apolinario Mabini and Jovito Salonga.   Philippine Independence Day version 4. We are still fighting for it and paying for it again. The virus of foreign domination is mutating, and we are still hoping for herd immunity instead of taking our vaccines. What is the nature of foreign domination, multiple military facilities of the United States inside our own bases? How does the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) affect this? The VFA is up for renewal. Among other things, it exempts US personnel from visa and criminal and other jurisdictions of Philippine law and allows unrestricted movement of US vessels and aircraft in the Philippines - very dangerous. This is the very reason why China considers its presence in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) a line of defense against the US. It is not because it wants to invade the Philippines or for the economic value, but because the US has continually shown itself as an aggressor in applying sanctions, invasions, assassinations to any nonaligned nation vis-a-vis its world view, even if that country is not a threat militarily to the US. This VFA is what will definitely put us in the crosshairs of a struggle between superpowers. It is why President Rodrigo Duterte is right about keeping an independent foreign policy, the most fundamental warning made by generations of arguably the most brilliant men in Philippine history -Apolinario Mabini, Claro M [...]

June 17th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The conflict in the Middle East is sustained by the silencing of Palestinians

Throughout history, our story has been narrated by others who treat our rights as less deserving of recognition Beit Hanoun, Gaza, 26 May 2021: ‘What else but anti-Palestinian racism explains western inaction in the face of the human rights abuses meted out daily to Palestinians?’ Photograph: Mahmoud Issa/Sopa/Rex/Shutterstock   The silencing of the Palestinian story is nothing new. In 1950s Britain, a few years after Israel was established, even the name Palestine went out of use. When asked as a child where I came from, people would think I’d said Pakistan. I remember how frustrating it was that no one wanted to hear our story, as if we had invented it. “It’s the land of the Jews,” I was repeatedly told. “The Arabs are only squatters on it.” Israel’s stunning victory in the 1967 war compounded these attitudes, and the Zionist narrative of Israel’s moral right to exist in the Jewish people’s “ancestral land” became supreme. Constantly made to understand we were second-class human beings with no valid right to “someone else’s country” was demoralising and intimidating. It took me years to understand these distortions of history as expressions of a deep, unspoken anti-Palestinian racism. Its underlying premise is that where Palestine is concerned, the rights of Palestinians are always inferior to those of Jewish people. Such racist views long predated the creation of Israel and were based on a denial of Palestinian existence in the country. As soon as the Zionists chose Palestine to be the Jewish state, at the end of the 19th century, [...]

June 14th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

G7 reaffirmed goals but failed to provide funds needed to reach them, experts say

Climate finance for developing nations was supposed to reach $100bn a year by 2020, but has fallen far short From L to R, front: Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, US president Joe Biden, UK PM Boris Johnson, French president Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Angela Merkel. From L to R, rear: European Council president Charles Michel, Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga, Italian PM Mario Draghi and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock The G7 summit ended with rich nations reaffirming their goal to limit global heating to 1.5C, and agreeing to protect and restore 30% of the natural world by the end of this decade, but failing to provide the funds experts say will be needed to reach such goals. Boris Johnson badly needed a successful G7 deal on climate finance to pave the way for vital UN climate talks, called Cop26, to be held in Glasgow this November. Climate finance is provided by rich countries to developing nations, to help them cut greenhouse gas emissions and cope with the impacts of climate breakdown, and was supposed to reach $100bn a year by 2020, but has fallen far short. Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace, said: “The G7 have failed to set us up for a successful Cop26, as trust is sorely lacking between rich and developing countries.” Without stronger commitments on climate finance, Johnson will face an uphill struggle in getting support for any Cop26 deal from the developing world, who make up the majority of countries at the UN climate talks and who will [...]

June 14th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Will China save the U.S. from inflation fears?

CARTOONARTS INTERNATIONAL The fiscal expansion in the United States in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is like nothing seen outside of wartime. Further large-scale public spending will be required to rebuild needed infrastructure, tackle climate change and create jobs. But some prominent economists are warning that government spending on such an extraordinary scale could fuel accelerating price growth and cause inflation expectations to become unanchored. For more than three decades, expectations of moderate price growth in the U.S. and other advanced economies have been sustained — not least by China’s integration into the global economy. Might China come to the rescue as the Biden administration seeks to open the fiscal floodgates? There are certainly reasons to be wary of price risks. At the core of Biden’s initiative are infrastructure investments, which require materials such as steel and copper. And, in 2021, commodity prices have soared, triggered by supply-side bottlenecks and the global economic recovery. These commodity price rises have stoked fear of inflation. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, for example, warned last month that the U.S. might be headed toward an inflationary episode on par with the years after World War II, when the release of pent-up demand fueled a 20% surge in prices. Enter China. Late last month, the country’s government announced that it would strengthen targeted efforts to bring down the prices of iron ore, copper, steel and other major commodities that had pushed China’s consumer prices to a 12-year high. The government’s initiative to halt the rise in commodity prices is bound [...]

June 12th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Confusion and falsehoods: How we can fix the COVID trust gap and get people vaccinated

On COVID vaccines, not now doesn't mean never. Skip the patronizing and paternalistic lectures. Fight hesitance with facts, empathy and listening The United States was No. 3 in the world early last month in getting at least one dose of  COVID vaccine into adult arms. Even though nearly two-thirds of American adults have now received a dose, as of this week we had slipped to No. 8. How can America surge again to the top? One key is addressing the nearly 1 in 3 people who are hesitant or unsure about getting vaccinated. We all have friends and family members who have expressed concerns. In doing the research for this article, the most common response we heard from colleagues was, “You’re wasting your time. Anti-vaxxers aren’t going to get vaccinated regardless of what you say." It’s true that some are set in their ways. But most of the unvaccinated are still open to the idea. Indeed, polls show steady declines in the numbers of people who said they won’t consider getting vaccinated. Being hesitant doesn't mean never. Many people have been hesitant but decided to get the vaccine. It’s time for all of us to redouble our efforts to reach the unvaccinated. Muddled facts, outright falsehoods Let’s be honest here, medical authorities and the news media haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory when it comes to providing accurate and well-calibrated information about the pandemic. We were told COVID-19 isn’t airborne. False. We were told masks don’t help. False. We were told asymptomatic people don’t transmit the virus. False. We were told it’s unsafe to go outside to parks and beaches. False. [...]

June 10th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Joe Biden’s mission at the G7 summit: to recruit allies for the next cold war

The US risks being superseded by China as the prime global power within decades. For Washington, the idea is appalling Joe Biden’s manners should not be mistaken for mildness of purpose; the modest style is deployed in service of a tough message.’ Biden with first lady, Jill Biden, at Dover air force base, Delaware. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP Joe Biden crosses the Atlantic this week on a tide of goodwill. After four years of Donald Trump, European leaders are grateful for the mere fact of a US president who believes in democracy and understands diplomacy. Trump had no concept of historical alliance, strategic partnership or mutual interest. He saw multilateral institutions as conspiracies against US power, which he could not distinguish from his own ego. He heard European talk of a rules-based international order as the contemptible bleating of weakling nations. Biden’s stated purpose is bolstering that order. In an article published in the Washington Post on the eve of his trip, the president talks about “renewed” and “unwavering” commitment to a transatlantic relationship based on “shared democratic values”. The itinerary starts in Cornwall with a gathering of G7 leaders. Then comes Brussels for a Nato summit, plus meetings with presidents of the European Council and Commission. Biden intends to orchestrate a surge of western solidarity as mood music ahead of a final stop in Geneva, where he sits down with Vladimir Putin. On that front, a stable chilling of relations will count as progress after the downright weirdness of Trump’s willing bamboozlement by the Kremlin strongman. [...]

June 9th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Opinion: Trends emerge in New Zealand’s relations with China

New Zealand's evolving foreign policy – especially with China – is put under the microscope by international analyst Geoffrey Miller, who says it's important to consider the wider trends and not just the latest twist in the story. This week's meeting between Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison in Queenstown was yet another opportunity to judge the state of New Zealand's relationship with China. It added to 2021's ever-growing list. The year began with January's Freudian slip by Damien O'Connor, who said that Australia needed to "follow us and show respect" to China. In March, New Zealand foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta issued joint statements with her Australian counterpart, Marise Payne on both Xinjiang – acknowledging "credible reports of severe human rights abuses" – and Hong Kong. But April brought Mahuta's "Dragon and the Taniwha" speech to the NZ China Council, after which she openly stated her unwillingness to sign up to further Five Eyes statements criticising China. Jacinda Ardern subsequently backed Mahuta, saying "New Zealand also has an independent foreign policy". May saw recalibration in the other direction at the China Business Summit – with Ardern's carefully crafted line that differences between Beijing and Wellington were "becoming harder to reconcile". However, later that month, Labour vetoed an Act Party attempt to bring a Parliamentary motion that would have declared genocide in Xinjiang. Instead, Labour took the heat out of the motion by substituting genocide with the "severe human rights abuses" phrasing that Mahuta had already used in March. With anything China-related coming under tight scrutiny, there is [...]

June 8th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

China’s three-child policy won’t help

CARTOONARTS INTERNATIONAL IRVINE, CALIFORNIA – In an effort to address rapid population aging, China has just announced that it will allow all families to have up to three children. The decision comes on the heels of widely publicized new data showing that the Chinese fertility rate in 2020 was only 1.3 per woman, which is similar to that of Japan, at 1.36 in 2019, and notably lower than that of the United States at 1.7. But a below-replacement fertility rate is only one part of China’s demographic problem. A second issue is the sheer size of its older population. Before 1971, Chinese family-planning policies were pro-natal, restricting access to contraceptives and family-planning education. As a result, the country’s current or soon-to-be elderly population has grown particularly large: the size of the population aged 15 to 24 is only around 72% that of those aged 45 to 54, compared to 79% in Japan and 100% in the U.S. This top-heavy demographic structure makes the problem of declining fertility even more acute because new, younger workers are needed to replace those who will retire and require support. A third issue is urban-rural inequality. China’s rural population is generally prohibited from moving to urban areas by the country’s hukou system of residency permits. Rural residents thus have had fewer opportunities to access education and health care. In 2010-12, the urban enrollment rate was 100% for middle school, 63% for high school and 54% for university; in rural areas, it was 70%, 3% and 2%, respectively. Likewise, urban areas had [...]

June 8th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: Cryptocurrency is powering the underground economy of vice and crime

Recent ransomware attacks, and cryptocurrencies’ central role in enabling them, highlight longstanding concerns, says an economist. (Photo: REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration)   CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts: Ransomware – a type of malicious software that restricts access to a computer system until a ransom is paid – is not a good look for cryptocurrencies. Proponents of these digital coins would rather point to celebrity investors such as Tesla founder Elon Musk, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, star football quarterback Tom Brady, or actress Maisie Williams (Arya in Game of Thrones). Advertisement But recent ransomware attacks, and cryptocurrencies’ central role in enabling them, are a public relations disaster. The attacks include last month’s shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, which drove up gasoline prices on the US East Coast until the company paid the hackers US$5 million in Bitcoin, and, even more recently, an attack on JBS, the world’s largest meat producer. READ: Commentary: Robocalls expose weakest link in a new ‘scamdemic’ Such episodes highlight what for some of us has been a longstanding concern: Difficult-to-trace anonymous cryptocurrencies offer possibilities for tax evasion, crime, and terrorism that make large-denomination bank notes seem innocuous by comparison. Advertisement Although prominent cryptocurrency advocates are politically connected and have democratised their base, regulators cannot sit on their hands forever. READ: Commentary: Don’t trust the hype – Bitcoin will never be a wise investment NAIVE VIEWS The view that cryptocurrencies are just an innocent store of value is stupefyingly naive. Sure, their transaction costs can be significant enough to deter most ordinary retail trade. But for anyone trying to avoid [...]

June 7th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

By banning Tiananmen vigils in Hong Kong, China is trying to rewrite history

The Communist party is widening its attack on the legacy of 1989 – and criminalising a new generation of activists ‘Last year, tens of thousands of Hongkongers defied a Covid-inspired ban to flock to the vigil.’ Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, on 4 June 2020. Photograph: Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock   Over the weekend, a diminutive, white-haired woman carrying a yellow umbrella and a homemade cardboard sign saying “32, June 4, Tiananmen’s lament” was arrested on suspicion of taking part in an unlawful assembly. She had been marching along the pavement alone. This Kafkaesque scene happened not in China, but in Hong Kong. The fate of “Granny Wong”, a 65-year-old protest veteran called Alexandra Wong Fung-yiu, underlines the rapidity of Beijing’s clampdown in the city where, just two years ago, 180,000 people attended the annual vigil remembering the 1989 killings in and around Tiananmen Square in Beijing. This year the Hong Kong vigil has been banned. Anyone gathering at the vigil site in Victoria Park on Friday could face five years in prison. Even publicising the event could lead to one year in jail under Hong Kong’s draconian National Security law, imposed sight unseen at the end of last June following a year of massive pro-democracy demonstrations. Public commemoration has become so risky that one Hong Kong newspaper even suggested writing the digits “64”, to commemorate the date of the protest, on light switches, so that flipping the switch became an act of remembrance. These moves underline the dangerous power of public memory, and how [...]

June 4th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Review: Australian 60 Minutes’ hit job on Jacinda Ardern Government ‘cosying up to’ China

OPINION: It was a smooth transition last night on Australian TV as the latest episode of Celebrity Apprentice flicked over into 60 Minutes' supposed expose on New Zealand "cosying up to Beijing" for their billions of trade dollars. The last scene of Celebrity Apprentice was billionaire British business magnate Lord Alan Sugar handing down a pompous sermon to a petulant little bloke who'd once finished second in Australian Idol who then quickly stormed out. A minute later at 8.30pm, we had 60 Minutes reporter Tom Steinfort staring down the barrel delivering the opening monologue of his segment entitled Kiwis Might Fly - the promo for which had caused mild hype and much sniggering among Kiwis last week. From reality TV into current affairs programming there was little change in objectivity of narrative tone, moral nuance or the comically manipulative background music. In front of a video screen plastered with Chinese and Kiwi flags and shipping crates, Steinfort hands down some alarming truths on the divergent paths which Australia and New Zealand have apparently taken on their foreign policy and trade dealings with China. Essentially it was a case of "dollars versus decency". The New Zealand Government had, by not signing a Five Eyes intelligence statement last year condemning China's human rights abuses - and allegedly remaining "silent" on their military expansionism, sacrificed morals to maintain a lucrative trade partnership. As a reward, New Zealand's economy was apparently "flying high" at the moment, Steinfort says - somehow ignoring the fact the NZ Treasury is expecting the Government [...]

May 31st, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

After COVID: 3 things that states can do now to fix health care

To improve health care, there are a number of steps that states should be taking, including tax reforms and getting rid of CON laws. Policymakers talk about comprehensive health care reform. They see a broken system and want to fix everything at once. Emergency room workers can relate, but they take a more strategic approach when patients arrive with multiple injuries. Through triage, they prioritize problems and apply isolated but related interventions to save lives. Fixing the health care system can work the same way. COVID-19 has exposed a range of regulatory weaknesses, and lawmakers can do three things to provide immediate relief. The first step is full repeal of certificate of need (CON) laws and similar measures that persist in 38 states and Washington, D.C. Unlike other types of oversight, these laws do not purport to protect public health and safety. Instead, states set up CON boards to protect industry insiders from competition. Doctors and other providers cannot open facilities, expand services or purchase major medical equipment without first obtaining a CON, which works like a government permission slip. How CON laws are not helpful Many jurisdictions let established providers, who already have a CON, contest new applications. When a rival business tries to enter their turf, they can file a complaint based on potential loss of revenue. The result is something close to veto power to stop outside threats. The protectionism has continued during the pandemic. Alabama blocked an addiction recovery clinic from offering residential services in November. Rhode Island voted in June to stop new hospice care services. [...]

May 26th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Video: Genocide Is the Truth of U.S. Bloody History

The U.S. and the west keep saying they have witnessed in Xinjiang, China the "crimes" of genocide, forced labor camps and other crimes. Any evidence? This video tells the story how United States is the most notorious country in the history of "genocide". Any evidence? Yes, tons of it. We all know that the Nazis are the most notorious genocide group in modern history, but few people know that Nazis' racial cultivation policies and sterilization schemes, and even organized slaughters, are all learned from the Americans. As early as 1924, Hitler, in his infamous publication 《Mein Kampf》,already quoted a huge number of genocidal policies introduced by the United States in the 20th century. Although it was in the 18th and 19th centuries that the Indians were slaughtered, for non-Nordic peoples, America's systematic and regulatory racial cleaning culminated at the beginning of the 20th century. American even included systematic genocide as an independent teaching subject in its tertiary education. In 1937, the United States passed the Sterilization Act, setting up a number of "quarantine zones" and put all colored people and eastern and southern Europeans together in the quarantine zones. Then there came the genocide: sterilization.

May 26th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Video: The Truth of Xinjiang Cotton

The USA and Canada announced earlier to impose sanctions on several Chinese officials for allegedly abuse and enslavement of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The move was based on BCI's report about re-education camps, detaining of one million people and other ethnic minorities, and even genocide accuse. The Chinese discovered that BCI, claiming an independent agency actually received funds from the USAID, which was disclosed in BCI's annual reports. BCI obeys the foreign policy of the US Secretary of State. This video tells the story about two reviews of Oasis Footwear industry indicating there was no forced labor in Xinjiang, either for Uyghur people or other ethnic or religious groups. The USA, in its history, once carried out genocide against Indians and enslaved blacks for forced labor, and even today, racial discrimination in the US is going worse. It is said that there is no evidence of forced labor. Viewers of this video will have their own judgement.

May 26th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Video: Forced Labor Still Happens in the USA

Human trafficking and forced prostitution. Forced labor still happens in the United States. The United States prides itself of being a free and democratic country. But you wouldn't imagine that even today forced labor still exists in the United States. On the official website of the Department of Homeland Security, the released information clearly indicates that forced labor still exists in the United States today. Since the 19th century, the global demand for cotton has expanded as a result of the British industrial revolution. In order to solve the problem of cotton planting and picking southern plantation owners in the United States were desperate for labor. Blacks in slavery became "in demand". they were forced to work endured the torture of the white people and was sold as a commodity. Even now, forced labor is still a problem in America. Prisons in the United States are a very lucrative business.

May 26th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Video: YouTubers Tell the Truth in Xinjiang

What is your impression about Xinjang, China? According to some media reports, China has arbitrarily detained as many as one million people in Xinjiang. China is suppressing Uyghurs in terms of a "global war on terror". The Uyghurs in Xinjiang are undergoing torture and forced labor. China's genocide program to persecute Uyghurs in Xinjiang has implemented. This video will give you some facts. A couple of western YouTubers filmed some footage explaining how Xinjiang is developing and how some western media fabricated the Xinjiang story based on distorted satellite imagery. The argument on facts in Xinjiang is undergoing between the camps of truth diggers and allegation boosters. It is the ideological disputes between the East and the West. What we suggest is taking a close look at the facts without any pre-set stance.

May 26th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Video: Xinjiang Forced Labor, A Reality or A Political Ploy?

There have been numerous reports from mainstream media that forced labor popular in Xinjiang and the re-education camps export forced-labor products to the USA, and the recent news release stated that the US customs retained shipment of UNIQLO delivered to the retail outlets in the country early this year claiming that the production was made in Xinjiang. This video shows unsupervised workers working on a large cotton stockpile and sophisticated cotton picking automation is becoming popular in Xinjiang. Evidence about "one million people in Xinjiang were sent to concentration camps", "forced labor" and issues of human rights and relevant accusation seems dimming. While more islam countries from Asia and Middle East are sending their delegates to Xinjiang for ad hoc visit to the claimed venues of forced labor, observers from western countries are still reluctant to receive the invitation of the Chinese government for a close watch to the region they have kept criticizing. Politicians in the west urge China to allow meaningful access to Xinjiang for the indefinite observers. But China rejects the fabricated stories made by BBC and other hostile media, and fires back the allegations of the politicians from the west. As a matter of fact, solid evidence of forced labor and concentration camps is unseen. China says the door is open for any fact check and fair and justified investigation.

May 26th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

I’m a Palestinian living in Gaza. No matter when it is or where I am, I know I’m not safe.

My friends have lost their homes and families. I know that, in a split second, that could be me. Maybe it will be me next time bombs rain down. GAZA CITY –When my grandfather drove over Thursday to bring my mom something from my grandma, I suddenly felt an enormous urge to go down to meet him, which is something I don’t always do when he just comes to drop something and leaves. Since the bombing started last week, I’ve been grasping at any chance I have to meet my loved ones; because that chance might be my last. Everyone in Gaza these days talks to their family members, friends and even followers on social media as if this might be their last time speaking to them. The traumatizing reality we are living here, and the constant fear of losing one’s family, friends, house, memories and everything that makes one human, has turned us into people who live to survive the day; every day is our last day, every breath is our last breath, every word, hug, or kiss is our last. Israel and Hamas agreed Thursday to a cease fire. But I can't forget, even when there weren't any bombings in the area, the nerve-racking sound of Israeli drones buzzing above your head. It is enough to give you a perpetual sense of danger. Reminding you that no matter when or where you are in Gaza, you’re not safe. Trying to sleep with that sound over your head is a different nightmare altogether. Lives ruined, families [...]

May 23rd, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: Israel’s master plan for Palestine has failed

The hope that the Palestinian issue was safely sidelined has proved to be a delusion, says the Financial Times’ Gideon Rachman. Israeli air strikes hammered the Gaza Strip before dawn, causing widespread power cuts and damaging hundreds of buildings. (Photo: AFP/Mahmud Hams)     LONDON: Until about a week ago, it looked like Benjamin Netanyahu had a good chance of disproving the adage that “all political careers end in failure”. His grip on power in Israel was weakening. But even if he lost office, Netanyahu would still leave politics as Israel’s longest serving prime minister ever – and one of its most consequential. Last year, Netanyahu secured a historic breakthrough in the Jewish state’s relations with the Arab world. The Abraham Accords normalised relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Israel under Netanyahu was at peace, prosperous and breaking out of its international isolation. The long and often bloody struggle with the Palestinians was out of the headlines. A world-beating COVID-19 vaccination programme had further burnished the country’s image. There was just the small matter of avoiding conviction in a corruption trial and a possible jail sentence – and his legacy would be secure.   But over the past week, Netanyahu’s plan for securing Israel’s future has collapsed. The Israeli prime minister’s hope that the Palestinian issue was safely sidelined has proved to be a delusion. A dispute which started with clashes between Israeli police and Muslim protesters in Jerusalem has escalated – with rockets being fired at Israeli cities, Israel bombing Gaza [...]

May 19th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: COVID-19 unlikely to become a thing of the past anytime soon

More mutations of the virus can be expected if large outbreaks continue and much depends on vaccination rates and whether more effective treatments can be developed, say Duke-NUS Medical School researchers. Pedestrians wearing protective face masks along Singapore's Central Business District. (File Photo: Calvin Oh)   SINGAPORE: The first known case of COVID-19 occurred well over a year ago. Countries around the world, including Singapore, then rolled out a suite of measures aimed at controlling the spread of the virus. There have been extraordinary efforts to bring safe and effective vaccines to market in record time. Countries, including Singapore, are making concrete progress with their vaccination plans. To date more than 850,000 individuals in Singapore and 235 million worldwide are now fully vaccinated. Despite these big strides in fighting the pandemic, new SARS-CoV-2 infections worldwide have remained at an all-time high for the past week, at highs surpassing last year’s record. The pendulum may now be swinging to the other side. In Singapore, less than one month after the latest easing of COVID-19 restrictions on returning to workplaces and the resumption of larger activities, we saw new COVID-19 clusters emerge, which prompted the Government to tighten its safety measures rapidly. There is some relief here when just two community caseswere detected on Thursday (May 6). Still, these developments raise several uncomfortable but real questions we will be forced to address, not the least of which is: Will life ever get back to the pre-COVID-19 normal or will we have to settle for a “new normal” for a much longer [...]

May 6th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The Pacific went a year without Covid-19, now it’s all under threat

Opinion - For most of the last year, the Pacific Islands have been remarkably isolated from the devastating effects of the Covid-19 crisis. By walling themselves off early from the outside world, most Pacific nations remain completely Covid-19 free.   The Gaston-Bourret Hospital Center dispenses Covid-19 vaccine injections in Noumea, New Caledonia. Photo: AFP   Historians will look back on this as a remarkable achievement by Pacific nations, and a great credit to the swift actions taken by their leaders. While isolation has proven itself to be an effective preventative strategy, it is not a perfect one. Border closures have taken an severe toll on these nations' fledgling economies. And even the most robust border and quarantine control systems can break down. In the Pacific, the cracks are now starting to show. Localised outbreaks and lockdowns The most obvious case is in Papua New Guinea, where caseloads started surging exponentially two months ago. With a porous land border with Indonesia and weak quarantine controls, it's remarkable the virus did not get out of control sooner. However, it is now running unchecked in the capital, Port Moresby, and has spread to every province in the country. The health system came very close to complete breakdown in March, and despite hopeful signs of case numbers stabilising in the capital (now at a much higher level), the country remains in dire need of further assistance. Fiji was the most successful nation in the region in containing community transmission a year ago. It, too, is now showing cracks in the [...]

May 4th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Rich countries close their eyes to the global Covid surge at their own peril

The pandemic’s death toll is now being felt most gravely in developing nations. This virus is not done yet   ‘Without oxygen it’s impossible to treat a severely ill Covid patient, but there’s a global shortage.’ People queue to refill oxygen cylinders in New Delhi, India, 23 April. Photograph: AP Is there one pandemic, or two? That was a question being asked a year ago, when wealthy countries accounting for only 15% of the global population had 80% of the Covid deaths. Could it be that the rich world was more vulnerable, somehow, because its populations were older, or more individualistic, or had forgotten to be scared of infectious disease? Even then, some were warning that the worst was yet to come, once the disease took hold in poorer countries. World Bank analysts Philip Schellekens and Diego Sourrouille, for example, predicted a “massive shift” in disease burden to the developing world. Just in terms of demography, they said, you’d expect those countries to account for around 70% of deaths. As things stand they account for a little over half of it, which is probably an underestimate due to variations in data quality – and the pandemic is far from over. Last week saw more than 5.8 million new cases of Covid globally, the highest number yet. More than 3 million people have now died from Covid, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which also reports that infections and hospitalisations in those aged 25 to 59 are increasing at an alarming rate. “It took nine months [...]

April 27th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

To defend Democracy, we must protect truth online

© Getty Images   In his inaugural address, President Biden called on the country to “reject a culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.” We have every reason to believe the troubling trend of disinformation to deceive will continue with regard to online content. Visual deception and disinformation are powerful. The use of even rudimentary image and video manipulation, known as “cheapfakes,” has been proven to increase perceived truth and is a common tool for fueling online visual disinformation. The advent of synthetic media that is manipulated or wholly generated by artificial intelligence (AI), commonly referred to as “deepfakes,” makes the dangers of such distortions more significant. Deepfake videos are getting better and becoming virtually undetectable by forensic mechanisms. Though the most popularly shared deepfakes have been benign, there have been several real-world examples of malicious use. The use of deepfakes in creating non-consensual pornography underscores how easily they can be weaponized. Last month the FBI warned of deepfakes as a growing threat to private industry and in terms of "emulation of existing employees." This week, it was alleged that deepfakes were used to emulate Russian opposition members to deceive various European Members of Parliament. ADVERTISEMENTLegislators across the country have acted with speed to pass new laws to address this threat. At least five states have adopted laws to ban deepfakes in some contexts. At the federal level, the U.S. Congress passed several laws in quick succession on deepfakes, including the Deepfake Report Act, sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). These are important [...]

April 26th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Zoe Strimpel: Covid restrictions mean Australasians have never looked so imprisoned

The antipodes may be sunny and lovely, but their coronavirus control freakery means their inhabitants are locked down in perpetuity, writes UK columnist Zoe Strimpel The other evening, a normally robust, stiff-upper-lipped friend came round for a nocturnal picnic in a nearby communal garden. Suddenly, almost in tears, she let rip about the terrible toll of being stuck in a tiny flat with her husband and (now) 2-year-old for a year, all bar a week in Scotland in the summer. I'll never forget the moment when, glassy-eyed, she stared ahead and said: "I need a holiday. I need to get out." And by out, she meant out of the UK. No staycation gives you the resuscitation my friend needed. She needs – we all need – to leave from time to time, and immerse ourselves in a different culture, different food. And no, Yorkshire and Norfolk don't cut it. Six60 wows a 50,000 strong crowd in at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday. Photo / Supplied by Eden Park / Maria Robinson - PR Mushroom Group   Thankfully, my friend will be able to take just such a trip soon. This is more than can be said for the residents of Australia and New Zealand, countries that chose the path – much lauded by the everyone-must-suffer-to-the-max control freaks of the Left – of total imprisonment in perpetuity. Countries which, as the rest of the world looks for ways to return to normal in the Covid era, have chosen to remain prisons, with nobody out and very [...]

April 26th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Opinion: Real climate leadership rests with hardest hit indigenous communities

Opinion - This week US President Joe Biden invited 40 leaders to his inaugural climate summit. As part of the Pacific Voices project, the Pacific Cooperation Foundation asked 22-year-old indigenous climate activist Brianna Fruean to share her perspective and she concludes that inaction speaks louder than words.   Small Pacific nations such as the Tokelau islands have lived in harmony with nature for centuries, Brianna Fruean writes. Photo: kunilanskap/123RF The world is buzzing as President Biden hosts his big climate change summit. With this buzz there is a lot of big talk on how the attending climate leaders are leading the way towards climate action. This summit should make me feel hopeful, yet I cannot help but feel a sense of déjà vu. These big talks happen all the time, and when the leaders sign out, they go back home to little or no action. New Zealand did not take the opportunity to announce new nationally determined contributions which fellow Pacific nations and developed world leaders - the US, Canada, Japan - already have. Year after year we see low targets, dirty lobbying, tokenistic speeches, and broken promises. It is not that I am pessimistic about change, it is that I am tired of mainstream media painting these big nations like they are the "climate leaders" who will save us when it is the young people, activists, movement organisers and indigenous communities that are showing true climate leadership. There is so much that Biden's summit can learn from frontline villages, organisers and activists, and there are [...]

April 25th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Pacific plan on how to decarbonise global shipping by 2050

Opinion - An effective way to achieve US Climate Envoy John Kerry's stated goal of decarbonising the global shipping industry is to make it cheaper to go green by the International Maritime Organisation introducing a greenhouse gas levy.   Photo: 123RF   Climate Envoy John Kerry announced yesterday that the US is committed to getting the global shipping industry to net zero emissions by 2050. This is a crucial step, but an uphill battle: shipping is one of the world's most polluting sectors. If it were a country, it would be the sixth largest greenhouse gas polluter in the world. To solve this problem, Kerry should look to those that have the most at stake. Here in the Pacific Islands, shipping is our most important link with the world, providing us with imported food, medicines, and more. Our micro-economies, at the centre of the world's greatest ocean have the longest, thinnest, most expensive, and most vulnerable transport lines. And these lifelines are almost exclusively run on fossil fuels. The shipping industry that our people and economies rely on is also driving the climate crisis - the greatest existential threat we face. We cannot survive without the shipping industry, and yet we also cannot survive with the contributions it makes to climate change. John Kerry is right that we need to take real action and we need to take it now. To do that, we must put a price on shipping emissions. The Marshall Islands has joined with the Solomon Islands to put forward a solution at [...]

April 25th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Government must get tough on gangs

Gang violence is getting out of control in Auckland with another week of gang shootings and violence including a shooting at the Sofitel Hotel in downtown Auckland. This increase in gang violence is making our city less safe and is causing Aucklanders to become more worried about their safety. It is only a matter of time before an innocent member of the public is shot in the crossfire. Whilst gangs are not new, since Labour came to office in 2017, gang membership has ballooned, growing 48 per cent. More gang members means more meth being sold in our streets and more gang violence being perpetrated. The Government must get tough on gangs – and give the police the tools they need to address this growing problem. One of the tools the police need is the ability to put in place firearm prohibition orders (FPO) on dangerous gang members. This law change which I am progressing through Parliament as a Member’s Bill would mean a gang member subject to a FPO will not be allowed to possess a firearm, get a firearms license or be on a property where firearms are present. It would also be a serious offence to supply firearms to someone subject to a FPO. Additional search powers would also be given to the police to ensure they can crack down on gang members with illegal firearms. I am calling on the Government to support this legislation to give the police new tools they need and to send a powerful message to gangs that [...]

April 21st, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

What did 20 years of western intervention in Afghanistan achieve? Ruination

Britain’s justifications for invading were having influence and deterring terror. They are just neo-imperialist platitudes ‘Tony Blair sent Clare Short to eliminate the poppy crop. Whatever she did, it increased production from six provinces to 28.’ Poppy growing in Helmand, 22 March 2021. Photograph: Ghulamullah Habibi/EPA   The longest, most pointless and unsuccessful war that Britain has fought in the past 70 years – its intervention in Afghanistan – is to end in September. I doubt anyone will notice. Nations celebrate victories, not defeats. Twenty years ago the United States decided to relieve its 9/11 agony not just by blasting Osama bin Laden’s base in the Afghan mountains, but by toppling the entire Afghan regime. This was despite young Taliban moderates declaring Bin Laden an “unwelcome guest” and the regime demanding he leave. The US then decided not just to blast Kabul but invited Nato to launder its action as a matter of global security. Britain had no dog in this fight and only joined because Tony Blair liked George W Bush. American and British troops roamed the country, signing up warlords or setting up new governors. Visiting Kabul at the time, I was told of Nato’s ambition to wipe out terror, build a new democracy, liberate women and create a “friend in the region”. I had an eerie sense of Britain in 1839 embarking on the First Afghan War. Most Americans at the time wanted to get out, and concentrate on nation-building in Iraq. It was the British who were eager to stay. Blair even [...]

April 19th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Covid 19 coronavirus: Why billionaires are snapping up second homes in New Zealand

New Zealand has announced it will form a corridor with Australia from April 18, allowing free travel between the two countries. While the rest of the world may have to wait until 2022 to be allowed into New Zealand, when the majority of the country has been vaccinated and its success rate has had a chance to prove itself, it remains a firm favourite among billionaires the world over, who have long seen it as the ultimate escape. It's been a few years since we first began reading about Silicon Valley executives becoming "Doomsday preppers" by buying vast tracts of land in New Zealand and installing underground bunkers on them, to escape to should Armageddon strike. But that's been going on ever since. Billionaire German-American PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel made headlines when it was discovered he had bought at least two estates, one in Queenstown with a house and panic room, the other, a 193ha estate on the shores of Lake Wanaka and been granted citizenship in New Zealand. Then there's Canadian director James Cameron, who fell in love with the place filming the first Avatar movie, owns multiple estates and is now a resident. "It's not difficult to see the appeal of New Zealand for the super-rich," says Auckland-born Susie Marquis, founder of UK-based The Luxury Travel Book. "It's absolutely beautiful, the lifestyle is relaxed, the food and wine is excellent, the standard of living is very high and there is lots of space and privacy due to the small population." Understandably fed up with [...]

April 13th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: Continued US trade war with China could stoke inflation

The only real inflationary danger comes from those fanning the flames of war with China, says Professor James K Galbraith. China US Tech Sanctions   AUSTIN, Texas: The scale of US President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) – US$1 trillion in spending for this year, another US$900 billion after that, plus a US$3 trillion infrastructure and energy program that has been promised – has spooked many macroeconomists. Are their fears justified? The bank and bond-market economists, having cried wolf before, can be disregarded. A year ago, many of them warned that the US$2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act would incite hyperinflation by massively increasing the money supply. It didn’t happen. More notable among the critics are neo-Keynesians like Lawrence H Summers of Harvard University and his numerous acolytes. Summers has a different analysis. It was his uncle, Paul Samuelson, who with fellow future-Nobel laureate Robert Solow launched the Phillips curve in 1960. This simple model offered some of the most successful empirical predictions in economic history during its first decade, and has been an economic rule of thumb ever since. Drawing on data from late 19th century Britain and the post-war United States, the Phillips curve postulated an inverse relationship between inflation and unemployment: As one fell, the other would rise. This is what seems to be bothering Summers today. IS THE PHILLIPS CURVE ACCURATE? The various rescue and federal support packages are indeed enormous, with the ARP alone accounting for about 6 per cent of GDP. The full scale of [...]

April 13th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Government Needs To Come Clean On Foreign Buy-ups Of NZ

  The current government needs to instigate far stricter controls on foreigners buying up New Zealand’s countryside says the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations as well as keeping the New Zealand public informed of the extent of outsiders buying up country-side. “Frustratingly figures are few and far between to make an accurate assessment but the public should be given regular and accurate statistics on an issue which most New Zealanders feel strongly about,” said CORANZ chairman Andi Cockroft. Most Kiwis Opposed Past opinion polls indicated as many as 90 percent of New Zealanders were opposed or concerned he said. In late 2019 it was revealed by Radio NZ that the four largest private landowners in New Zealand are all foreign-owned forestry companies. The investigation found, despite a clampdown on some overseas investment, including a ban on residential sales to offshore buyers, the Labour-led government has actively encouraged further foreign purchases of land for forestrythrough a streamlined "special forestry test". Fewer Jobs Since the 2017-20 coalition, Labour-led government was formed, the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has approved more than $2.3 billion of forestry-related land sales - about 31,000 hectares of it previously in New Zealand hands and often sheep and beef farms. A 2019 analysis of Wairoa, where 8,486 hectares of sheep and beef farmland was converted to forestry, showed forestry provides fewer jobs in rural communities than sheep and beef farms. Andi Cockroft said the environmental effects of turning the New Zealand hill country into monocultures of pines were detrimental. Silt Deposits The clear felling practices [...]

April 13th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Why Biden Needs to Counter North Korea’s Cyber Crimes

Joe Biden has several tools by which he can respond to North Korea hacks that gain hard cash for the sanctioned regime. Former President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un may have shared a “deep and special friendship,” but it’s become abundantly clear in the last few months that the North Korean government feels no similar warm fuzzies toward Joe Biden. Between supposedly “ghosting” the new administration’s calls, launching ballistic missiles and warning the United States “not to cause a stink,” North Korea is doing its best to play hardball with the new administration, choosing to a strike a tone of bravado and intimidation as opposed to one of collaboration. This will undoubtedly hinder U.S. efforts to check North Korea’s nuclear program through diplomatic methods. But summits and talks aren’t the only way to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. Biden can still achieve a foreign policy win by cracking down on the country’s state-sponsored cybercrime—crime that directly supports the nuclear program. It’s often tempting to dismiss North Korea as a small, impoverished nation who likes to rant and rave. But this problematic caricature blinds us to the legitimate threats posed by North Korean hackers. Based out of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, North Korean hackers have reportedly been busy with everything from attacking banks to attempting to steal information about coronavirus vaccines. Despite its poverty and relatively small size, North Korea likes the idea of punching above its weight. And thanks to its state hackers, when it comes to cyber, Pyongyang finally can. Although experts [...]

April 11th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The GOP Needs Its Very Own ‘Infrastructure’ Plan

The Republican Party must do more than merely denounce the “American Jobs Plan,” or it risks falling further out of touch with its constituents. It must offer its own constructive vision for infrastructure to rebuild America. President Joe Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure bill, the so-called “American Jobs Plan,” received a hostile reception from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last week. “This is not going to be, apparently, an infrastructure package,” McConnell told reporters after Biden briefed him on the bill. “It’s like a Trojan horse,” he warned. “So, it’s called infrastructure, but inside the Trojan horse is going to be more borrowed money and massive tax increases.” Biden’s wooden pony comes saddled with the Made in America corporate tax plan, which, his administration claims, would fully fund his infrastructure program within the next fifteen years and reduce future deficits. The corporate tax rate would rise from 21 percent to 28 percent as a result. Ben Mathis-Lilley, a senior writer at left-leaning Slate magazine, more or less agrees with McConnell’s woes. Biden’s plan, he writes, is “ostensibly related to infrastructure,” but it’s “really just a plan for trying to fix everything.” Like McConnell, he takes umbrage with the fact Biden “wants it financed by tax increases on wealthy individuals and corporations.” But what’s actually in the bill? McConnell is right that the attractively named “American Jobs Plan” contains a litany of items unrelated to what most Americans consider infrastructure. Funding for roads, bridges, waterways, airports, and ports constitutes an estimated $115 billion of the $2.25 trillion total price tag. “Infrastructure,” in this [...]

April 11th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

How Japan should deal with China’s new coast guard law

A new law governing the actions of the China Coast Guard is said to stem from Chinese leader Xi Jinping's wish to respond to the needs of national defense and military development. | ANTARA FOTO / M RISYAL HIDAYAT / VIA REUTERS The China coast guard law, which makes clear the missions and authority of the China Coast Guard, has been criticized as being in violation of international law, with parts that are deliberately left ambiguous, leading many to have doubts over the legislation. I would like to discuss the impact that the law, which was put into force on Feb. 1, could have on Japan in maintaining maritime order, in comparison with China’s activities in the South China Sea. Political scientist Shigeo Hiramatsu points out that there exist two types of national borders in China — geographical borders and strategic boundaries. While geographical borders are internationally recognized limits of land territory, territorial waters and airspace, strategic boundaries have geographical and spatial scope related to China’s national interests and are actually controlled by the country’s military forces. Such strategic boundaries can be expanded when China is equipped with military forces backed by comprehensive national power. A typical example of China expanding its strategic boundaries is its effective occupation of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. China had been making claims to islands in the South China Sea ever since the nation’s founding in 1949, but it had never effectively controlled any of the land features, although it had been pressing the legitimacy of its [...]

April 10th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: Japan’s slow-mo vaccination programme has a lot riding on it

With few mandatory restrictions, and national leaders focused on holding the Tokyo Olympics, vaccination should be a top priority and even that has been very slow, says Yuka Hasegawa.          Screengrab of COVID-19 cases in Japan. (Source: Google)   OSAKA: For all the talk about how orderly, societally conscious and efficient Japan is, the country should be a shining example of how to get the coronavirus under control but remains a cautionary tale in the pandemic a year on. Just look at the endless waves of coronavirus plaguing it, including record-breaking new infection numbers reached just this past week, with 878 new cases in Osaka on Wednesday (Apr 7) and a positive test rate of 8.6 per cent, causing the prefecture to declare a state of medical emergency on the same day. Even Tokyo with its shocking 555 looks better off. Hospital resources are coming under strain with 90.8 per cent of Osaka’s ICU in use, and constraints on medical staff numbers limiting opening up more beds.   SOFT MEASURES Osaka city officials have been described as prescient when “quasi-emergency measures” went into effect just two days ago on Apr 5 in Osaka. Restaurants and bars had to close earlier by 8pm, with fines for non-compliance. Authorities too urged residents to stay home and refrain from heading out on Wednesday. But the problem is these bear striking resemblance to conditions imposed during the State of Emergency, which have been widely acknowledged to be toothless in the face of a raging pandemic. Here, you [...]

April 9th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: The Quad has a plan and it’s not all about China

Countries of the Quad are moving forward in concrete cooperation that benefits the Indo-Pacific region as a whole. That is a positive direction it should continue with capacity building at its core, says Shruti Pandalai.   President Joe Biden just wrapped up the first summit speaking with his counterparts in Japan, Australia, and India. (Photo: AP) NEW DEHLI: It was war — a war of words in Alaska, as United States and China sat down to talk for the first time in March under the Joe Biden administration. For those tracking US-China relations outside the states, any expectations of a reset in ties have been buried, while the shock is yet to wear off. It was quite the show—negotiations cheekily dubbed “Anchor-rage” by media and twitter commentators alike. The strategic messaging for the global audience was clear - the Biden administration was intent on calling China out for its unrestricted unilateralism, while an unapologetic Beijing confident of its stride to the global centre stage was very derisive in its assessment of Washington’s “decline”. The plummeting Sino-US ties impact all geographies and for those watching closely this did not come as a surprise though it may have made strategic options clearer. THE QUAD IS MOVING FORWARDJuxtapose this with the contrasting images that came out from the much talked about Quad Summit held virtually just before the Alaska meeting. Indian Prime Minister Modi, called the summit “a coming of age of the Quad". A joint statement from leaders of United States, India, Japan and Australia — speaking of [...]

April 6th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Why China’s space program could overtake NASA

(CNN) China has a good chance of becoming the dominant space power in the 21st century, and it's not just looking to copy NASA on the way to the top. Instead, the country is paying close attention to what innovative US companies like SpaceX are doing as well. To get ahead in space, communism is learning from capitalism. In the summer of 2019, a small Chinese rocket launched from an inland spaceport in the southern part of the country. Close-up photos, posted afterward on Chinese social media accounts, showed small grid fins affixed to the upper part of this Long March 2C rocket for the first time. They were virtually identical in design to the grid fins SpaceX uses to steer its Falcon 9 rocket through the atmosphere for landings on its ocean-based drone ships. A year after this test, China's main space contractor revealed plans to develop the ability to reuse its Long March 8 booster, which is powered by kerosene fuel, the same type of power that fuels SpaceX rockets. By 2025, Chinese officials said, this rocket would be capable of landing on a sea platform like SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster. And it is not just the Chinese government contractors that are emulating SpaceX. A growing number of semi-private Chinese companies have also announced plans to develop reusable rockets. Chinese firms such as LinkSpace and Galactic Energyhave released schematics that seem to mimic SpaceX technology. None of this should be particularly surprising. Government-launched enterprises in both Russia and Europe also recently revealed plans to develop [...]

April 2nd, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

A global pandemic treaty won’t work until leaders realise the benefits of solidarity

After a year of nationalist approaches to Covid, securing world cooperation on disease control is unlikely to be easy   A sign at the Port of Dover after France closed its borders over concerns about a new coronavirus variant, December 2020. Photograph: Vickie Flores/EPA     Boris Johnson, alongside 24 other world leaders, has announced a pandemic treaty, a legally binding mechanism to protect against future pandemics and their impact on economies and societies. While the content of the treaty is not yet agreed, the aim is to bring political commitment to health security compliance between governments, using the language of global collaboration, cooperation and solidarity for mitigating future pandemics. This appears to be a much-needed tonic for multilateralism after a year of nationalist approaches to pandemic control. However, for meaningful pandemic preparedness we need to address the elephant in the room: why did governments not abide by international law and the norms for pandemic management that were already in place? The International Health Regulations (IHR) provide the legal architecture outlining what governments must do to prevent, detect and respond to outbreaks of infectious disease: this includes sharing information about emerging pathogens with the WHO; implementing public health interventions to prevent disease transmission; and in the longer term developing capacity within health systems to be able to identify and respond to emerging disease threats. Alongside this, political norms of global health security have emerged through groups such as the Global Health Security Agenda, the G7 and multiple regional efforts such as the Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance [...]

April 1st, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

How Black and Asian American women are working together to overcome racism

Black and Asian women know what it means to be “othered.” We have each had harmful stereotypes cast upon us that continue to affect our lives today.   Women of color have suffered greatly during the pandemic. Whether it is being among the most highly infected with COVID-19, being forced out of jobs at an alarming rate due to lack of childcare and support, or making up a large portion of the essential workers who put themselves at risk to keep the country going, women of color continue to bear the brunt of inequality and our nation’s broken systems. So it was another substantial blow when six Asian and Asian-American women were murdered in a mass shooting on March 16 in Atlanta at their places of work. In the immediate aftermath of the shootings, police officers described the white male assailant as having a “bad day” and naming his sex addiction as a potential motive. This initial assessment from law enforcement was massively disappointing if not surprising, least of all to Black women. After all, days before the shooting, thousands mobilized to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of Breonna Taylor, who senselessly died at the hands of police officers. Yet, despite this shared understanding and mutual experience of what if feels like to be targeted for who you are, a dangerous media narrative has re-emerged. In the wake of a recent spike of anti-Asian violence and with little evidence, many have begun to point to a divide between Black and Asian Americans as the real issue [...]

April 1st, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: Suez Canal incident reveals why global trade depends heavily on shipping with few alternatives

While the ship in the narrow Suez Canal may be cleared soon, the financial repercussions and serious discussions of alternatives are just beginning, says NUS’ Associate Professor Goh Puay Guan.   A view shows Ever Given container ship in Suez Canal in this Maxar Technologies satellite image taken on March 28, 2021. Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS   SINGAPORE: The Egyptian authorities revealed on Monday (Mar 29) that the traffic through the Suez Canal had resumed after the tanker called Ever Given, which had been grounded for almost a week, was refloated. Although there was general relief about this development, the incident has overall sparked a rethinking about what could have been done to avoid this ugly mess. Much as businesses hope the episode is an exception, corporate boardrooms all over the world will be tearing apart how things can be done better.   IMPLICATIONS FOR GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS For one, the repercussions on shipments, oil and commodity prices, and availability of goods have been huge. Those in Europe have heard the news that they may face a shortage in instant coffee, as the ingredients could not be shipped over. Container shipping costs have soared by four times year-on-year, continuing a years-long trend accelerated by COVID-19. While the ship has been freed and the jam will eventually be alleviated – no matter how long that may take - what are the potential ramifications for global supply chains? At stake are liabilities for missed deliveries, lost sales, manufacturing down time, expired products, and insurance claims. This is not only for the Ever [...]

March 30th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

What we’re getting wrong in the conversation about mental health

Increased use of psychiatric language means ordinary distress is being medicalised, while the seriously ill are not being heard   “Don’t feel you have to take on a psychiatric diagnosis, or consider there’s something medically wrong with you, unless you really do find that framing helpful.” Photograph: Getty Images     Many years ago, in the fading hours of a house party, I sat outside in the garden with an old friend. From inside came the distant thud of music and pockets of laughter – a thousand miles from the conversation we were having. My friend’s relationship had ended a few weeks previously, and that night his heartbreak was palpable and raw. He told me how disconnected he felt from the people inside the house, from his life, and then he said something that made my heart sink. “When I look into the future,” he said, avoiding eye contact, “I can’t see anything ahead of me.” At that moment – I thought – something became clear: he was clinically depressed. Over the following days and weeks, I told my friend what I knew about the disorder, and the benefits of therapy and antidepressants, and encouraged him to go to the doctor. Even though he was reluctant, I was sure of how much he would benefit, so I persisted. But then, after about a month of checking in with him, something strange happened: he started to feel better, without any professional help at all. I distinctly remember the moment, a disintegration of what I thought I understood [...]

March 30th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

ECQ 2021: Been there, done that but commuters still suffer

MANILA, Philippines—One year should have been sufficient to prepare public transport rules in another chapter of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) but what greeted commuters on the first day of ECQ 2021 was confusion, according to a transport economist on Monday (March 29). In an interview with Inquirer, Jedd Ugay, chief mobility officer of advocacy group AltMobility, said a disconnect among the Department of Transportation (DOTr), transport operators and commuters caused confusion on the first day of ECQ 2021 in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan and Rizal. “Operators and commuters who have no access to social media and news may have thought that public transportation would be banned in ECQ, which resulted in the fewer number of public utility vehicles (PUVs) plying the roads,” Ugay said. On Monday (March 29), the first day of ECQ in the “NCR Plus bubble”, commuters on their way to work found fewer rides and blamed the DOTr for announcing public transport guidelines too late. The government announced that NCR Plus would be on a week-long ECQ, the most stringent lockdown level, on Saturday (March 27) and the DOTr released the guidelines in the afternoon of Sunday (March 28). ECQ in 2020 in Metro Manila included a ban on public transportation to discourage people, except essential workers, from leaving their homes. Carl Lamiel, who works for a retail company as its digital head, recalled that he had to wait one and a half hours in San Mateo, Rizal, for a bus to Quezon City, where [...]

March 29th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

On Why China’s Pact With Iran Is A Big Deal, And Why A Vaccination Target Isn’t

  One of the most significant developments in global politics in a generation has flown in almost entirely beneath the radar of the Western media. On Saturday, Iran and China officially signed a 25 year, $400 billion co-operation pact. As one expert regional analyst has said, this deal will give East Asia its biggest presence in the Middle East since the Mongol invasion seven hundred years ago. It marks another major diplomatic setback for the United States, which is still reeling from the harm done by the Trump administration. Instead of opening up Iran to trade with the West – as US President Barack Obama had hoped to do with the 2015 nuclear deal – the reverse has happened. By tearing up the nuclear deal, and joining forces with Saudi Arabia in demonising Iran, Donald Trump succeeded only in pushing Iran straight into the arms of China, which has seized the opportunity with both hands. As Middle East expert Juan Cole says: China’s entry into Iran in such a big way is the most consequential change in the geopolitics of the Middle East since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, which made the US the sole Middle East superpower (this was visible in the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 unilateral US war on Iraq). Moscow’s return as a patron for the Baath regime in Syria is small potatoes in comparison. So far, the Biden administration has been unable to decide how to re-configure its Iran policy, in order [...]

March 29th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

From ‘taking out the trash’ to ‘abdicating responsibilities’: Does Australia care about its relationship with NZ?

Watch: Australia deports teenage boy alone to New Zealand. Credits: Video - Newshub; Image - File     New Zealand's long-standing alliance with Australia is considered one of the closest in the world, but recent events have resulted in a war of words - and an apparent hindering of the relationship. National leader Judith Collins last week said she feared the relationship between the two countries was at its lowest point in decades. So, does Australia even care about its relationship with New Zealand? While recent rhetoric suggests they don't, leading international relations experts believe they do. Stephen Hoadley, an associate professor in politics at the University of Auckland, agrees the relationship is at a low point - but not its lowest. He believes there's still plenty of common ground. "We just need to keep calm and carry on," he told Newshub. "Good relations will continue despite the rhetoric and minor irritants." University of Otago politics professor Robert Patman thinks Australia does care about its relationship with New Zealand but notes its Government has a "hierarchical" view of the world. "Their major concerns, at the moment, are both the United States and China - Australia's always seen itself as closer to the United States than New Zealand has," Prof Patman says. "I think it's not so much they don't care - I think we just don't appear on their radar screen as much as they appear on ours."   A brief history of the trans-Tasman relationship We're arch-rivals on the rugby field and cricket pitch, but [...]

March 28th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

“Vaccine Nationalism” Is the West’s Infringement on Mankind

The largest scale vaccination in human history is in progress, but the most unfair vaccination is happening meanwhile. Rich countries with smaller number of Covid-19 infections are hoarding most vaccines, while poor countries with large number of infections have weak fiscal capacity to purchase the vaccines.     The White House openly declared on March 10 that "We will first make sure that Americans are taken care of."  The President of the European Council, Charles Michel censured of this “totally banning the export of vaccines or vaccine components produced on its soil." The selfish and parochial approach of the U.S.A hurt the international cooperation in the battle against the coronavirus and impeded the containment of the pandemic in the rest of the world, thus it has received strong condemnation from the international community. A report released at the end of last year by "People's Vaccine Alliance", an international vaccine monitoring agency composed of a number of international organizations, stated that the population of developed countries is about 14% of the world’s total population, but they are possessing more than half of the vaccines in the world. In 67 poor countries, only 10% is expected to receive a dose of vaccine by the end of 2021. The developed countries are being blamed for violating their declared human rights commitments. An article of NBC quoted Philip Clark, an expert on health economics from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, saying that inspite of the poor countries who are eagerly expecting the vaccines, the developed countries including [...]

March 28th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Mutually destructive sanctions will help no one

The diplomatic fireworks in Anchorage turned out to be a prelude to a new round of sanctions war between China and the Western alliance. Just as the Americans’ profession of defending universal values and a rules-based international system was met with a fierce response from the Chinese side in Alaska, so an extraordinarily coordinated effort by the United States, Britain, Canada and the European Union to impose sanctions on China was met with a tit-for-tat retaliation from Beijing. Ostensibly, the Western sanctions are over China’s alleged ill-treatment of Uygur Muslims in Xinjiang. But the unmistakably intended message, to China and the world, is that the Western alliance is back, and the allies don’t mind if it is led by the US – against China. After four years of Donald Trump and his brand of unilateralism, China has been told not to bother trying to divide and conquer by playing one bloc or country against another. But what is equally significant is that Beijing has been ready to fight back immediately with formal sanctions, something it had avoided until recently. Traditionally, China has been reluctant to use sanctions as a formal tool against foreign entities or countries, for both ideological and practical reasons. A key principle of Chinese diplomacy has been respect for the sovereignty of nations, and Beijing has long considered sanctions to be a tool of Western countries, especially the US, to interfere with the internal affairs of other, usually weaker, nations. Practically, until recently, China did not have the clout to weaponise economic or [...]

March 24th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Barry Soper: Jacinda Ardern seems to have a ‘la la la’ moment when it comes to Trevor Mallard

Speaker Trevor Mallard. Photo / Mark Mitchell     OPINION: It seems the Prime Minister's had a "la la la" moment when it comes to Parliament's Speaker Trevor Mallard. It seems Jacinda Ardern simply wants to drown out the noise surrounding her mate. If she stopped and listened, she may start to see the wood for the trees. The shabby episode involving Mallard and the grossly incorrect claim that a Parliamentary worker sent packing was a rapist is a classic example of having power over the powerless. Ardern is a nice woman, probably seeing the best in most people. But she seems to be unable to acknowledge there can be another side to some people. In the Mallard case, he knew within 24 hours the man he called a rapist wasn't one, but he continued with the claim, right through to his own defence of a defamation action brought by the man. In a statement of claim, the man's lawyers received a letter from Mallard's much more expensive legal team saying he wouldn't apologise, wouldn't pay damages, didn't accept the man had been defamed and claimed his statement was either the truth or honest opinion. The man was threatened that, if he persevered with his defamation case, "the question of his reputation and his conduct will be very much the centrepiece of any public proceeding". Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo / Mark Mitchell It makes you wonder who would have been on trial. In the end Mallard and his lawyers obviously saw it was a lost [...]

March 24th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

America Should Have Walked Away From Its Meeting With China

Both in the past and now recently, American officials held fruitless summits—meetings without a clear cut agenda in which they would have been wiser to walk away from.       If you weren’t thinking “Kennedy and Khrushchev at Vienna” while following the just-concluded Alaska meeting between top diplomats from the United States and China, you need a quick tutorial in Cold War history. For at a time of burgeoning Sino-American tensions over any number of genuinely crucial stakes (like the fate of Taiwan, which for the foreseeable future will be the manufacturer of the world’s most advanced semiconductors), the parallels are chilling. After all, both the June 1961 summit between John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev, and the sessions between Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, and their two senior Chinese counterparts, came near the start of U.S. administrations. Both meetings were also arranged in haste. In 1961, Kennedy was desperate to convey some credibility to Moscow following the failed U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. Today, President Joe Biden himself has said that his administration is still in the middle of conducting comprehensive reviews of China policy both on the trade and national security fronts. Also neither meetings had any set agenda or goals. And at both, relatively green American leaders were verbally mugged—or at least ambushed—by their much more experienced interlocutors. Most troubling of all: At the end of the Khrushchev meeting that Kennedy himself bemoaned as a disaster, the Soviet leader demanded an allied withdrawal from Berlin that resulted [...]

March 24th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Targeting New Zealand’s property speculators is popular, but won’t fix the housing crisis

Jacinda Ardern’s announcement will hit investors hard, but more needs to be done A house for sale in Christchurch in February. The New Zealand government has targeted property speculators in its latest attempt to cool the housing market. Photograph: Mark Baker/AP     Property speculators have become public enemy number one in New Zealand’s rampant housing affordability crisis. Those buying, selling and renting out multiple properties have become wealthy at the expense of those in the middle and at the bottom of the market, who are paying high rents and struggling to afford to buy decent housing. It is no surprise therefore that the housing announcement by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her colleagues on Tuesday was firmly focused on reigning in those investors driving up the prices – with the most significant elements of the package designed to hit investors with increased tax responsibilities. The economic goal is to cool down rising house prices. And the political goal is to lay the blame for the housing crisis firmly at the feet of investors. The first weapon in this assault on investors is a de facto capital gains tax – those selling investment properties now need to pay tax on their house sale profits if their investment is sold within 10 years instead of just five. This has already got the most publicity. It has been especially controversial because the party ruled it out on the campaign trail in last year’s general election. Labour’s second tax weapon against property speculators is much more surprising and significant: [...]

March 23rd, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

A public inquiry is the only way Britain can prevent another crisis like coronavirus

People have a right to know the government mistakes that led to the highest mortality rate in Europe   Ambulances outside the Royal London hospital, 13 February 2021. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA When coronavirus first entered the UK, the country was on the back foot and ill-prepared. The NHS was already facing record waiting times for operations, cancer treatments and GP appointments. Successive cuts to mental and social care, and severe workforce shortages, had left health services exposed and unable to properly function in normal times, let alone during a pandemic. As a result, the NHS was forced to cease routine services to treat the overwhelming surge of Covid-19 patients. Wards were repurposed for critical care and NHS staff were rapidly redeployed. There were around 2.5m fewer first outpatient appointments and 280,000 fewer urgent cancer referrals between April and June 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Fewer than half the expected number of operations were completed, creating a backlog of care and a current record-high waiting list of 4.6 million, with more than 220,000 patients now waiting more than a year for non-Covid treatments. While daily government press briefings have focused on the alarming mortality numbers from Covid-19, we shouldn’t overlook the wider toll on our population. An estimated 12,000 excess deathsoccurred as a result of non-Covid conditions during the first wave. Understanding the wider effects of Covid-19 on the population is exactly why we need a public inquiry into the management of the pandemic. This would help us to understand what went wrong during [...]

March 18th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: Myanmar learnt the wrong lessons from Indonesia’s political transition

The Myanmar generals may have been inspired by Suharto’s coup to oust powerful political foes in the 1960s but should look instead at Indonesia’s democratic transition, says Dr Nehginpao Kipgen. Composite photos of Myanmar Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and former Indonesian President Suharto. (Photos: Reuters, AFP)     NEW DELHI: Before Myanmar transitioned to a quasi-civilian government in 2011, the military leadership closely studied the model of Indonesia’s democratic transition. Indonesia had been a fellow ASEAN member state and both sides shared very similar historical experiences. Forged in the crucible of a struggle for independence, the militaries of both countries had played a decisive role in the creation of their nation-states. They expanded their roles into state administration, civilian life and business conglomerates that provided some semblance of national stability. Such an exercise could have bright spots. After all, Indonesia’s emergence as a modern democracy, with a flourishing civil society and a well-respected armed forces that enjoys higher levels of trust from the public than even its own president, makes it a model worthy of emulation. The gradual reduction of its military’s role in politics and transfer of power to a civilian government, despite burgeoning racial tensions and separatist concerns, could be instructive for Myanmar. But it seems Myanmar left out lessons from this second chapter of Indonesia’s history. SUHARTO AS THE INSPIRATION? Indeed, Myanmar’s coup to restore order and national unity in the country might have taken heed of Indonesia’s example. General Suharto’s coup in the 1960s came on the back of a power struggle [...]

March 17th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Ally or no, New Zealand must stand up to callous Australia over 501 deportees

Aotearoa has a proud history of protesting human rights abuses on the world stage. Now that means pushing back against our traditional trade partner   Australian prime minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern Composite: Getty Images/AFP via Getty Images     Today a 15-year-old waits alone in a New Zealand quarantine facility, facing an uncertain future. Deported from Australia, he is not ordinarily resident here, and government agencies normally engaged for child protection are making plans for his care. Although Australia was his home, he was not Australian enough to be simply sanctioned in that nation for whatever infraction he is deemed to have committed. This dehumanising treatment is what passes for necessary hard-line immigration policy in Australia. In its very high human cost, failure of binding child rights standards, and international criticism, it is very much in line with Australia’s longstanding approach to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Australia has been thought of as outside human rights norms and any moral standard of fairness for some time. In fact, our neighbour has been repeatedly found to be enforcing policy that amounts to literal torture on its offshore prison islands. So when will New Zealand, and the rest of our so called “like-minded nations” in the international community, begin to treat Australia the way we would any rogue nation – to shame and sanction them into compliance with the international rules-based order? The Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is one of the most widely ratified international treaties. Australia and [...]

March 17th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: The US’ greatest asset in East Asia may be Japan

The US and Japan will need to shore up their economic heft and pursue a shared commitment towards setting the rules on trade, says Titli Basu.   Composite pictures of Jo Biden and Yoshihide Suga. (Photos: AFP)     NEW DELHI: For US President Joe Biden, restoring normalcy amid polarisation in American democracy, and rebuilding the economy during a pandemic, is as pressing as repairing liberal internationalism. As pillars of the US-led liberal order eroded under Trump’s America First legacy, what will it take to repair American alliances? Regaining trust as a credible security guarantor is important. Biden, in his first key foreign policy speech, has set the right tone analysing alliances as America’s “greatest asset”. Regaining trust as a credible security guarantor is important. Biden, in his first key foreign policy speech, has set the right tone analysing alliances as America’s “greatest asset”. Revitalising contested multilateralism, global governance, imbalances in globalisation is a tall order of expectations from Biden. Team Biden rightly assess that America cannot solve common global challenges alone and revitalising alliances are important. The East Asian theatre will be key in Washington’s grand strategy. STRATEGIC BARGAIN HOLDS America established its primacy in the global balance of power underpinned by security alliances, open markets, and multilateral institutions. Alliances in East Asia are a product of US’s post-war imperative to engineer a favourable strategic order, and project power without overstretching itself. Japan has over the years positioned itself as a stabiliser of the US-led system. But, Beijing has viewed American alliance architecture as geared towards containing [...]

March 10th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The U.S. Immigration System Is a Dehumanizing Mess

  Out of incompetence, corruption, and expediency, both parties have failed to establish the kind of long-term, structural changes needed to protect the dignity and safety of foreign nationals and American citizens alike. Thus far, President Joe Biden seems intent on exacerbating the problem. The awful sound of crashing metal and screeching tires shattered the morning calm on a two-lane highway near the U.S.-Mexico border. As the dust settled, bodies littered the road beneath the sun. Some passengers tried to crawl out from a ruined 1997 Ford Expedition, crushed against a tractor-trailer, while others wandered through nearby fields. This was the scene in Holtville, California, on March 2, when an SUV carrying twenty-five Mexican nationals collided with a semi-truck. The crash left thirteen dead. They ranged in age from fifteen to fifty-three, male and female. Customs and Border Protection sources told reporters that the incident happened after someone cut an opening in the border fence near Calexico. Authorities suspect human trafficking played a part in the fatal wreck. Now and then, an incident like this highlights that there is something fundamentally wrong with our immigration system. Out of incompetence, corruption, and expediency, both parties have failed to establish the kind of long-term, structural changes needed to protect the dignity and safety of foreign nationals and American citizens alike. Thus far, President Joe Biden seems intent on exacerbating the problem. Former President Donald Trump attempted to effect change in the system Biden now oversees. But his agenda suffered setbacks due to poor personnel choices and a lack [...]

March 7th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Israel’s military courts for Palestinians are a stain on international justice

I’ve defended people in this profoundly discriminatory judicial system. It needs dismantling – and the UK can help 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi in the Ofer military court in the West Bank village of Betunia, January 2018.Photograph: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images The overwhelming majority of Palestinians in the West Bank were born into, and have spent their entire lives under, an Israeli military occupation that violates their right to self-determination. A new report by the UK charity War on Wantexposes how a core part of what sustains that occupation is a military judicial system characterised by violations of international law. The report – Judge, Jury and Occupier – is a deep dive into the diverse ways in which Palestinians’ rights are being violated – from arrest, through interrogation, conviction and jail time. It reflects the experiences of Palestinian lawyers and human rights groups. The prisoners’ rights organisation I lead, Addameer, was proud to contribute evidence. One of the report’s important contributions is to make clear that, despite the Oslo accords and establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) for Palestinians in the West Bank, there has been, and remains, no escape from Israel’s military judicial system. Regardless of the existence of the PA penal code and judiciary, which operate with limited autonomy in parts of the occupied territory, all Palestinians, wherever they reside in the West Bank, remain subject to the jurisdiction of Israel’s military courts if they fall foul of certain laws. The impact of this military judicial system is far-reaching, and profoundly discriminatory. Since 1967, for example, Israel [...]

March 7th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

China’s military presence in Indo-Pacific region could be Australia’s next big threat

Aggressive behaviour by China is being pushed back by Canberra but worrying developments in the Indo-Pacific could give them the ability to coerce Australia, warn experts. Distant. Insignificant. Safe. But Australia’s place in the world has changed. And trouble’s reaching into our backyard. On the global stage, Australia’s sticking its neck out. “It is heartening to see that Australia as a leading middle power is once more playing an important role in upholding the global rules-based order in the region,” says Professor Sascha-Dominik (Dov) Bachmann, with the Morrison government displaying “awareness of Beijing as a source and originator of current threats to regional (and global) rule of law, security, and stability”.   Prime Minister Scott Morrison may feel threatened by China’s growing cyber and influence operations. Picture: Peter Lorimer/NCA NewsWireSource:News Corp Australia But Canberra’s also feeling threatened. “China’s influence eroding the sovereignty of (Australia and New Zealand) has been known for years, and the Morrison government has been at the forefront of countering Beijing’s such grey zone or hybrid activities,” he writes. But Beijing’s ability to act beyond cyber and influence operations is growing. “Historically, the region has not been a leading source of ‘traditional’ military threats,” argues Pacific Forum analyst Tom Corben, “but America and Australia can no longer afford to overlook the (Pacific) as a locus of Chinese security activity”. China has already hinted at its desire to establish a permanent military presence in the region. This could give Beijing the ability to coerce island nations, including Australia, and sever critical supply lines with [...]

March 6th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

China’s Military is Massive: Can Taiwan Count On America If They Invade?

Despite a recent spike in tensions, China-Taiwan relations are still massively improved, exchanging university students and business investments rather than artillery shells and aerial bombs. However, the capabilities of the PLA have drastically increased in the interval as well. Here's What You Need To Remember: In the event of military conflict, most believe China would use the modern equivalent of the tactics used at Yijiangshan: a massive bombardment by long-range missile batteries and airpower well before any PLA troops hit the shore. In 1955, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army embarked on a bloody amphibious landing to capture a fortified Nationalist island, only about twice the size of a typical golf course. Not only did the battle exhibit China’s growing naval capabilities, it was a pivotal moment in a chain of events that led Eisenhower to threaten a nuclear attack on China—and led Congress to pledge itself to the defense of Taiwan. In 1949, Mao’s People’s Liberation Army succeeded in sweeping the Nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) government out of mainland China. However, the Nationalist navy allowed the KMT to maintain its hold on large islands such as Hainan and Formosa, as well as smaller islands only miles away from major mainland cities such as Kinmen and Matsu. These soon were heavily fortified with Nationalist troops and guns, and engaged in protracted artillery duels with PLA guns on the mainland. In 1950, the PLA launched a series of amphibious operations, most notably resulting in the capture of Hainan island in the South China Sea. However, a landing in Kinmen was bloodily repulsed by Nationalist tanks in the Battle of Guningtou, barring the way for a final assault on Taiwan itself. Then events intervened, as the [...]

February 27th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

How to Vaccinate A Rogue State Like North Korea Against Coronavirus

Increased South Korean and American contributions to COVAX will help many countries like North Korea accept aid and also help prevent the emergence of worse mutant coronavirus strains. Despite the confrontation between the international community and Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons program, ensuring that North Korea is vaccinated needs to be a global priority. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it is in the interest of the global community to ensure that a new variant of the coronavirus does not develop in North Korea. Such a development would lessen the effectiveness of the world’s current vaccination efforts. South Korea is leading discussions on how to vaccinate North Korea. Proposals from Seoul have ranged from providing North Korea with excess vaccines produced for South Korea to buying Russian vaccines produced at a South Korean facility. But there is a better way to vaccinate North Korea. One which could benefit not just North Koreans, but the populations of other low and middle income countries. While North Korea’s claim that there had not been a single case of the coronavirus remains unverified, at a minimum the lockdowns imposed by Pyongyang appear to have prevented a significant outbreak domestically. But rather than accept assistance extended by South Korea, Pyongyang has so far indicated a preference for international assistance and perhaps hacking its way to a solution. With Pyongyang reluctant to accepting bilateral assistance from South Korea, the United States, or others, an international solution is the best path to vaccinating North Korea. Many wealthy nations have [...]

February 27th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

From Syria to China, dictators are still getting away with murder

Faced with evidence of crimes against humanity, we can’t rely on the glacial pace of international law to provide justice A video screengrab shows bound and blindfolded Uighur men at a railway station in south-east Xinjiang, China, in August 2018. Photograph: War on Fear It’s a scene that’s been played out both in high drama and a blockbuster thriller, in Death and the Maiden and in Marathon Man – a victim chancing many years later upon their tormentor – but in Berlin in 2014 it happened for real. Anwar al-Bunni was in a grocery shop when he ran into a fellow Syrian émigré whose face was familiar. It took him a while to realise that the man was a former intelligence officer who, al-Bunni was sure, once interrogated and jailed him. That encounter led to a trial in a Koblenz court of both that officer and an underling, and this week the more junior of the pair, Eyad al-Gharib, was found guilty of aiding and abetting a crime against humanity inside one of Bashar al-Assad’s jails, a crime that included torture. The verdict was hailed as a first encouraging crack in the impunity of the Assad regime, which has not yet faced justice for the hundreds of thousands of Syrians it killed as it suppressed an uprising that began a decade ago. Optimists detect a pattern. In Washington on Friday, Joe Biden decided to release a CIA report, long blocked by Donald Trump, implicating Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler, [...]

February 27th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The “Wuhan Bat T-shirt” Incident: A Diplomatic Scandal

In mid February, Canada took the initiative in a joint efforts with the United Kingdom, the U.S.A, Australia and the European Union to launch the "Declaration Against  Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations". Soon, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs retorted that it was the best evidence of arbitrary detention of foreign citizens that Canada performed on the illegal detaining of Meng Wanzhou, making the Declaration appear more like Canada's "written confession". Diplomatic conflicts between Canada and China have been bubbling up recently. The latest one was ignited by the "Wuhan Bat T-shirt" incident, a diplomatic row occurred in February that led to the recurrence of tense relations of the two nations since "Meng Wanzhou Incident" and the "Canadian Spy Incident". An online store manager in China revealed that Chad Hensler, a staff member of the Canadian Embassy in China, had successively ordered ten T-shirts with his design expressing Wuhan and a bat logo from the store in July last year. The design was deemed to insinuate the Covid-19 as the "Wuhan virus."  The design was said to imitate the logo of the American hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan, drawing fierce condemnation from the Chinese on social media. The spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized Canada for linking the virus to a specific country, an act of stigmatization and labeling.     The act of the Canadian diplomat provoked outrage among the Chinese people, and Chinese foreign affairs officials regarded the incident as a violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and meanwhile a formal complaint was logged over the incident. A spokesperson for Canada's foreign service made an explanation next day, saying it was a misunderstanding, the design was not meant to represent a bat, just the stylized "W" in the logo of Wu-Tang Clan. According to the spokesperson, the T-shirts were created for the team of embassy staff who were working to repatriate Canadians from Wuhan in early 2020. However, Chinese netizens [...]

February 25th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Australia’s move to tame Facebook and Google is just the start of a global battle

Governments around the world should now act together to dismantle the monopolies that threaten journalism Google Australia managing director, Mel Silva, appears via video link before the Australian senate inquiry.Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP     Facebook and Google have become accustomed to an open world of information on which to build their closed ecosystems. Not any more. Australia is proceeding with a new media code that will force platforms to pay for news and bargain with news publishers. While Google has complied, Facebook called the regulators’ bluff by banning Australian news from its platform, before reaching a deal with the Australian government that allows it to avoid the new code, but only if it signs agreements with key publishers. The new law is a bold move that shows that countries are realising they have more to gain by regulating the digital titans rather than bowing to their might. But it will be ineffective unless regulators around the world address the source of the problem: the dominance of Facebook and Google, and the concentration of power of the old media empires, which together undermine international, national and local journalism. As a regulatory experiment, Australia’s new law was a success before it even came into force. Facebook’s temporary news ban was poorly implemented. “News” was interpreted broadly, with the Australian weather agency, public health services, domestic violence charities and trade unions all blocked from the platform. These pages are now due to be reinstated, but the action has exposed Facebook’s power as a news source and its willingness to [...]

February 25th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Commentary: Has Myanmar coup sparked rethinking on non-interference among ASEAN countries?

Stronger words from Indonesia, Singapore and other ASEAN countries may seem new but do not supplant the important and consistent behind-the-scenes diplomatic work, says Dr Nehginpao Kipgen, Myanmar Commander in Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing salutes as he attends an event marking the anniversary of Martyrs' Day at the Martyrs' Mausoleum in Yangon on July 19, 2016. (Photo: REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun) NEW DELHI: It’s no surprise Myanmar’s coup is testing the patience of the international community. Protesters have called for external intervention, following three deaths. After being sprayed by water cannons, rubber bullets and more, they expect an imminent use of more lethal force by the military. But the international community has – unsurprisingly – been unable to launch a coordinated approach, apart from the expected strongly worded statements from the UN Security Council on Feb 4 and the UN Human Rights Council on Feb 12. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and other world leaders may have condemned the military’s brutality over this past week. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the media during a joint news conference in Berlin, Germany, Dec 17, 2020. (File photo: Michael Sohn/Pool via REUTERS) But that only went as far as to elicit a response from the Myanmar foreign ministry on Feb 22 that authorities were “exercising utmost restraint” in refuting the condemnations and calling them a “flagrant interference” in Myanmar’s internal affairs as a sovereign country. STRONGER WORDS FROM ASEAN What has raised some eyebrows, however, is the stern, finger-wagging words of Myanmar’s closer Southeast Asian compatriots. Malaysia views the [...]

February 25th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Tackling child poverty a mountain that keeps getting steeper

Opinion - Tackling child poverty is like climbing a mountain that gets steeper with every step: easy at first, far harder as you enter the final push. So although the government should be cheered by yesterday's child poverty statistics, it must realise the scale of the task ahead. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's foundational change policies need to be coherent and significant to tackle problems ahead. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas       In the two years since Jacinda Ardern's policies began to take effect - that is, from mid-2018 to just before last year's lockdown - child poverty fell on every single one of the nine measures the prime minister has set for herself. Take, for instance, the proportion of children living in households with less than half the typical (median) income - households, in other words, who cannot afford the things necessary to participate in mainstream society and live with dignity. That proportion has fallen from 16.5 percent in 2017-18 to 14.6 percent in 2019-20. Looking at the same measure but after housing costs have been included, the fall has been from 22.8 percent to 18.2 percent. That's 45,000 fewer children in poverty. Consider, too, material hardship - the proportion of children in families who report they struggle to afford basic items like heating and decent clothes. That has fallen from 13.3 percent to 11 percent. These are real achievements, and the government should be congratulated for them. Fewer children in poverty means less misery, less stifling of talent, less of a long-term burden [...]

February 25th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Embarrassing no-shows at China’s summit are a sign Europe is charting a new course

Something went badly awry when China’s President Xi Jinping called together the leaders of 17 nations of central and eastern Europe this month. The event was the annual 17 + 1 summit – that’s 17 Europeans and one China. The one easily outweighs the 17 in its sheer economic bulk. Not only is its economy seven times the size of all the European members put together, it also brings a sack of cash and promises of huge economic benefits each year. It’s Xi’s primary pathway for driving his colossal Belt and Road infrastructure juggernaut, also known as the “new silk road”, across Europe’s poor periphery and into its wealthy core. Six European leaders snubbed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent summit.CREDIT:AP     The initiative “demonstrates that China has already become a fully fledged European power” said Emilian Kavalski, a professor of silk road studies at the University of Nottingham campus in Ningbo, China, in 2019. And the Chinese Communist Party’s media has hailed the 17 + 1 as a “pioneering feat of great power diplomacy with Chinese characteristics”. So what would you call the 17 + 1 minus six? An embarrassment, at the very least, when six of the European leaders stayed away from the latest summit. It “looked decidedly like the 11 + 1,” said Politico’s Stuart Lau, “when half of the 12 EU national leaders invited to the club failed to show up to pay homage to Chinese President Xi Jinping. It’s a stinging diplomatic setback for Xi.” Even the lure of access to [...]

February 23rd, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

What is driving the frostiness between Australia and New Zealand?

Jacinta Arden fields questions after accusing Australia of abdicating its responsibilities by cancelling the citizenship of a dual national linked to Islamic State. Cricket and rugby union are traditional grounds of discontent between Australia and New Zealand. Things are no different in the weekly phone calls between prime ministers Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern where the two will jokingly spar about the performance of their respective sporting teams before getting down to business. It’s a dynamic the pair also share in public: while both leaders will periodically criticise the actions of the other, they enjoy a warm, friendly and good working relationship. But the historical closeness of the two countries and their leaders is being tested like never before. Ardern last week sensationally accused Australia of abdicating its responsibilities by cancelling the citizenship of a dual national linked to Islamic State. Melbourne woman Suhayra Aden , who has not lived in New Zealand since she was six, was detained trying to cross the border from Syria to Turkey with her two young children. It was only the latest incident that demonstrates how strained trans-Tasman relations have become. ADVERTISEMENT Advertise with Stuff Just hours after the New Zealand Prime Minister’s comments, she was on the phone with her Australian counterpart. JAMES D MORGAN/GETTY IMAGES Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has clashed with his NZ counterpart Jacinda Ardern over visa cancellations and the public comments of some of her ministers. While Morrison agreed to keep working on the issue with Ardern, he made no concessions publicly. At a [...]

February 22nd, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

What does the Facebook news ban in Australia mean for NZ?

A battle across the Tasman between the Australian government and Facebook has come to a head with Australian Facebook users now restricted from viewing news content. The restrictions are in response to the Australian government's proposed media laws. RNZ Mediawatch's Hayden Donnell joined Afternoons to talk about what's going on and the implications for New Zealand. Photo: 123RF He tells Jesse Mulligan it’s a big moment not just for Australia, but countries around the world who are watching with interest Australia’s efforts to make Facebook and Google pay for the content shared on its platform. “There was probably at least plans underway to implement similar legislation in other countries, so now they’re seeing the ramifications of that kind of legislation.” The Australian government planned to institute a ‘media bargaining code’ – a new law that would force Facebook and Google to negotiate with news companies for the right to link to their content. “They’d be asked to negotiate these fees in good faith and if they didn’t come to an agreement, it’d be sent to an arbitrator and that arbitrator would listen to the cases of the news company and Google and Facebook and decide what the appropriate amount is to pay per year. “Facebook and Google, unsurprisingly, hated the idea of having to pay news publishers anything and they’ve been threatening to just walk away and remove news links entirely.” However, in the past few days Google has caved into the legislation and worked out deals for annual payments to many of the major media companies [...]

February 19th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Great Power Rivalry in the Arctic Circle is Heating Up

Great power rivalry has come to the Arctic and there’s telling where it will lead. The signs of intensified rivalry are obvious. According to a recently updated Congressional Research Service report, Russia has dramatically expanded its military footprint in recent years, establishing “new Arctic commands, new Arctic brigades, refurbished airfields and other infrastructure, deep water ports, new military bases along its Arctic coastline, an effort to establish air defense and coastal missile systems, early warning radars, and a variety of other things along the Arctic coastline.” China has also entered the arena, deploying an icebreaker to the region, establishing research stations in Iceland and Norway, and is reportedly considering deploying submarines to the Arctic as a deterrent against nuclear attack. And the United States has also beefed up its Arctic military presence, reestablishing the 2nd Fleet for North Atlantic and Arctic operations, initiating freedom of navigation operations in Arctic waters, deploying B1-B bombers to Norway, and mobilizing NATO countries to enhance their own military deployments to the region. The growing intensity of this jockeying for wealth, power, and security is attributable to two factors. At one level, it is the product of increased access to the region’s vast natural resources. The accelerating rate of melting sea ice has opened up new sea lanes through the region and increased accessibility to the vast resources it contains. And these resources are indeed vast. Various studies show that the Arctic contains an estimated 22 percent of the world’s undiscovered fossil fuel resources, with perhaps 90 billion barrels of oil [...]

February 17th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Myanmar coup – a response from diaspora in New Zealand

Myanmar community members gather in Auckland Photo: Han Htet The UK, EU and Australia are among those to have condemned the military takeover, while New Zealand has suspended political and military ties with Myanmar except for humanitarian aid to people on the ground. New Zealand's suspension of ties was one of the first major international responses to the army's takeover in Myanmar. The coup was staged as a new session of parliament was set to open and Aung San Suu Kyi is currently under house arrest. Since the army’s seizure of power, tens of thousands of people have joined street protests. Early 14 February saw armoured tanks moved into cities - a full show of the military's power, while homes of government workers who joined the civil disobedience campaign have been surrounded by security forces as well. Myanmar community members gather in Auckland Photo: Han Htet   In New Zealand, the Burmese community has been organizing solidarity marches and protests in Auckland and Wellington demanding an end to military rule, a return to democracy and the release of their elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Ei Mon Thinn Kyu arrived in Auckland two years ago. She comes from a family that's all too familiar with uprisings - her father, who lives in Myanmar was a political prisoner for 16 years following the uprising of 1988 in Yangon. "People need to know that we're not just fighting for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi but for true democracy." Ei Mon at the solidarity gathering Photo: Han Hte     Ei Mon has been at the front [...]

February 16th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Trump Senate impeachment trial forces hard choices on Republicans and Democrats alike

I was one of the lawyers defending President Clinton in his 1999 Senate impeachment trial. Collegiality then was in short supply. Can it continue now?   When it came to drafting the rules for conducting former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, an outbreak of collegiality apparently occurred in the Senate. All the parties, including the House managers and Trump’s legal team, came to easy agreement on the procedural rules for the trial. They got to this result by deciding not to decide until a later vote one of the most important issues of the entire process — whether witnesses will be called to testify. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell nevertheless deserve credit for reaching an agreement, and with 24 hours to spare. I was one of the lawyers defending President Bill Clinton in his Senate impeachment trial 22 years ago, and collegiality then was in short supply. But can it continue now? What will Trump's trial look like? The Senate schedule envisions a quick trial. That the sides could agree to such an abbreviated timetable suggests that neither sees benefit in a drawn-out proceeding. Trump, believing he already has the votes for acquittal, wants to get it over with. The Democrats might well conclude that rather than reliving the assault on the U.S. Capitol, precious floor time is better spent doing the country's business, such as passing President Joe Biden’s "American Rescue Plan" on COVID-19.   Two days to convince Senate jurors The first day, Tuesday, was spent arguing and resolving the question of whether a former president can be tried in the Senate “notwithstanding the expiration of his term in that [...]

February 12th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The stock market is on a ‘highway to the danger zone,’ Jim Cramer says

KEY POINTS "You wouldn't know it from the sedate action in the averages" but Wall Street is on "a highway to the danger zone," CNBC's Jim Cramer said. "In a frothy market, stocks will have enormous rallies that are totally disconnected from the underlying fundamentals," the "Mad Money" host said. "I am not saying sell everything. I am simply begging you to exercise some discipline and sell something because nobody ever got hurt taking a profit," he said. CNBC's Jim Cramer sounded the alarm Wednesday saying that the stock market is inching closer to a frothy environment, where investors pay up for stocks while ignoring fundamentals. "You wouldn't know it from the sedate action in the averages ... but this is starting to feel a little bit like a Kenny Loggins market," he said after the close on "Mad Money," "We're on — I'm going to say it — a highway to the danger zone." The comments come after a mixed session of trading with the S&P 500closing lower for a second straight trading day and the Nasdaq Composite taking a breather for the first in four. Despite the 0.03% dip to 3,909.88 in the S&P 500, the benchmark remains within six points of Monday's record close. The tech-heavy Nasdaq slipped 0.25% to close at 13,972.53 after making a habit of setting new highs over the past week. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished 62 points higher at 31,437.80, a new record, resuming its uptrend after breaking a six-day winning streak in Tuesday's session. The [...]

February 12th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Forget 5G, the US and China are already fighting for 6G dominance

The first to develop and patent 6G will be the biggest winners in what some call the next industrial revolution.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI     WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Most of the world is yet to experience the benefits of a 5G network, but the geopolitical race for the next big thing in telecommunications technology is already heating up. For companies and governments, the stakes could not be higher. The first to develop and patent 6G will be the biggest winners in what some call the next industrial revolution. Though still at least a decade away from becoming reality, 6G - which could be up to 100 times faster than the peak speed of 5G - could deliver the kind of technology that has long been the stuff of science fiction, from real-time holograms to flying taxis and Internet-connected human bodies and brains. The scrum for 6G is already intensifying even as it remains a theoretical proposition, and underscores how geopolitics is fuelling technological rivalries, particularly between the United States and China. "This endeavour is so important that it's become an arms race to some extent," said Mr Peter Vetter, head of access and devices at Nokia's research arm Bell Labs. "It will require an army of researchers on it to remain competitive." Years of acrimony under the Donald Trump administration have hit Chinese technology companies hard, but that has not stopped the country from emerging as the leader in 5G. It has the world's largest 5G footprint, and - despite multiple attempts by the US to [...]

February 9th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

WHO says COVID-19 unlikely to have leaked from China lab

A World Health Organization-led team investigating the origins of COVID-19 determined Tuesday that it’s “extremely unlikely” the virus leaked from a Chinese lab. The team that visited the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak first emerged at a seafood market in late 2019, said more work is needed to identify the source of the novel virus that has killed 2.3 million people worldwide. “Our initial findings suggest that the introduction through an intermediary host species is the most likely pathway and one that will require more studies and more specific targeted research,” WHO food safety and animal diseases expert Peter Ben Embarek said. “However, the findings suggest that the laboratory incidents hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus to the human population,” he added.   Embarek said that the possibility that the virus was manufactured in a lab, such as the Wuhan Institute of Virology, would not be encouraged as an avenue for further study. This aerial view shows the P4 laboratory on the campus of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.AFP via Getty Images Bats were a probable source of transmission, but it’s unlikely they were in Wuhan, Embarek said. He said investigators are also looking at the possibility that the virus was transmitted through the sale of frozen animal products. “So there is the potential to continue to follow this lead and further look at the supply chain and animals that were supplied to the market,” he said. “We know the virus can survive in conditions that are found in [...]

February 9th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Before you compare the Covid vaccines, here are five things to know

Trial data can’t tell us everything about how effective vaccines are: we need to wait to see the real world impact   Vaccinations against Covid-19 at Cwmbran Stadium, Wales. Photograph: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images   The delivery of Covid-19 vaccines continues apace in Britain and around the world, and soon we will have a lot of data on their initial effectiveness. Vaccines are vital tools that will help to rescue us from the pandemic, and most people accept them as part of everyday life. But many people have differing opinions about how they should best be used, and there is concern that vaccines won’t be as effective against new variants. Indeed, one study (which has not yet been peer reviewed) suggests that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine provides only minimal protection against illness caused by the South African strain of Covid-19, meaning people may need a third jab later in the year to protect them from other variants. In any case, we need to understand what vaccines are, how we measure how well they work, and what they can and cannot do. 1. Vaccines and the diseases they prevent are all different Although there are many general principles we use to understand infections, each one is unique. They even change over time and vary from place to place. This creates a lot of uncertainty and means we constantly have to monitor what is going on. This work is called surveillance and without it, you can’t deploy vaccines effectively or adjust what you are doing to maximise their effects. This [...]

February 8th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Our Truth, Tā Mātou Pono: How the Treaty of Waitangi relates to Covid-19

OPINION: At the heart of Te Tiriti o Waitangi is a foundational relationship between the authority granted to the Crown and the authority retained by Māori. Under Te Tiriti, the Crown was granted ‘kāwanatanga’, meaning ‘governmental authority’. Māori were guaranteed ‘tino rangatiratanga’, that is, ‘absolute chieftainship’. Those two concepts were central to the treaty relationship created in 1840, and they remain central to that relationship today, even as we grapple with responding to a global pandemic. The centrality of that relationship has sometimes been obscured. Over the past 40 years or so, much of the discussion about Te Tiriti o Waitangi has focused on the meaning of the English text as compared to the Māori text. For example, when Māori leaders agreed to grant to the Crown the powers of ‘kāwanatanga’ (governmental authority), was this the same as ‘sovereignty’? But these language issues don’t need to confuse that central relationship. The Waitangi Tribunal has been clear in its finding rangatira who signed Te Tiriti did not give up the sovereign authority of their own communities. Instead, by allowing the Crown to exercise kāwanatanga , the rangatira were agreeing to the Crown exercising governmental authority over the Crown’s subjects, British settlers making a home here in Aotearoa. SUPPLIED Dr Carwyn Jones, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Te Herenga Waka–Victoria University of Wellington. So, to get to grips with the meaning of Te Tiriti, and particularly what it means for us today and in the future, we should focus not on how the concept of sovereignty relates to [...]

February 6th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

New Zealand’s Māori women have more to contend with than ordinary sexism

Colonisation has had a particular effect on Indigenous wahine that disadvantages them to this day   New Zealand is often praised as a forerunner of women’s rights but Māori women suffered more political oppression after colonisation Photograph: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images   The Mana Wahine Kaupapa Inquiry hearings will begin this week, investigating claims regarding the specific tiriti violations of the crown that have led to injustice against wahine Māori across social, physical, spiritual, economic, political and cultural dimensions. It has been a long time coming, having first been filed in 1993 and led out by the Māori Women’s Welfare League, and then initiated as an inquiry in 2018. While it can be said that all Waitangi inquiry hearings are traumatic, frustrating and difficult, it’s expected that this one in particular will reveal a history that is as foundational, on a national scale, as it is disturbing. The hearings are taking place against a backdrop of social extremes for wahine Māori, who are at once recognised globally for their leadership in Indigenous academia, business, justice, environmental advocacy and education, but who are also significantly underpaid for their work, experience numerous barriers to adequate healthcare and social assistance, and suffer one of the highest incarceration rates for women in the world. In order to understand the role of the crown in the injustices faced by wahine Māori, we must first understand the roles they held prior to European contact. Aotearoa New Zealand is often lauded as a global forerunner in women’s rights, praise which is usually rooted in [...]

February 5th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

After Trump disgrace, Biden reopens door to refugees and Americans who want to help them

President Joe Biden just threw a lifeline to victims of one of the modern world’s greatest tragedies: He announced his administration's intention to raise the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program's annual cap to 125,000 people. That's up from the 15,000 set by the Trump administration, and it restores America's commitment to welcoming the world's most vulnerable for resettlement. U.S. policy on this issue under former President Donald Trump limited resettlement to an all-time low of 11,814 people in the year that ended last Sept. 30, and gutted a 40-year bipartisan tradition. But the actions that abruptly shut America’s doors triggered an outpouring of support. Individual citizens inundated resettlement agencies with offers of assistance. Groups of friends, organizations and businesses hosted dinners for refugees to hear their stories, connect and help. “In response to Trump’s harmful policies, there was an unprecedented surge of support for refugees,” said Danielle Grigsby, Director of Policy and Practice at Refugee Council USA, a coalition supporting refugees and asylum seekers. Rolling the dice with harm and death Protecting lives in present danger is the heart of America’s resettlement program. There are, for example, thousands of interpreters who served U.S. military forces abroad and are consequently under constant threat; unaccompanied children kidnapped by traffickers facing torture and death or enslavement; parents in the United States frantic to reunite with children in dangerous circumstances. For those waiting, each day means rolling the dice with harm and death. Immediate action in such cases is urgent. Doing nothing is a stain on our national conscience. Under President Biden’s leadership, we have a unique opportunity to reimagine the resettlement system and realign federal policy with grassroots will. The Biden administration [...]

February 5th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

What I Saw During Myanmar’s Coup

It felt like being transported back to the old, isolated country. In Yangon, Myanmar, a soldier stands guard outside a Hindu temple.Credit...Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket, via Getty Images YANGON, Myanmar — At 6 a.m. on Monday, my phone rang mercilessly. I ignored the first call, assuming that a Taiwanese friend had forgotten about the time difference. I was still struggling to sleep, and then I saw my mother’s name flash on the screen. My mother, who lives in Mandalay, in the middle of Myanmar, about 400 miles from Yangon, never calls that early in the morning. A few hours later, Myanmar’s recently elected parliament was expected to convene its first session. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy had won more than 80 percent of the vote in the November elections and was about to start its second term in government. The military, which is led by Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, had been contesting the validity of the elections. Throughout the weekend, most of the conversations I had were with friends and family debating the probability of a coup. When I saw my mother calling, I knew: There has been a coup. “Go stay with your aunt,” my mother told me. Gather with your family and trust no one else. My paternal grandparents, who were from a vulnerable minority, hid in the home of various family members during the 1962 coup, when the military, led by Gen. Ne Win, replaced the civilian government of Prime Minister U Nu in a coup. During the [...]

February 3rd, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Aleksei Navalny Is Resisting Putin, and Winning

The opposition leader was sentenced to prison, but he has mobilized a vast movement that’s not done growing.   Aleksei Navalny was in the prisoner’s dock, but it was Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and his corrupt cohort who were really on trial.Credit...Simonovsky District Court, via Reuters A Russian court on Tuesday opened a new and fateful stage in the gripping power struggle between Aleksei Navalny, Russia’s tough-talking and internet-savvy opposition leader, and President Vladimir Putin, by sentencing Mr. Navalny to his first serious stint in prison. On the face of it, this would appear to be a clear victory for Mr. Putin, who has effectively proclaimed himself president for life. With his total control of the courts, the police, the official media and all sorts of sophisticated tools — including lethal chemical agents — Mr. Putin can keep Mr. Navalny in prison forever or arrange a fatal “accident” if he chooses to. But in this David v. Goliath saga, the 44-year-old Mr. Navalny has succeeded through raw courage and perseverance in putting Mr. Putin on the defensive. The imprisonment was Mr. Navalny’s move. Mr. Putin had tried for years to give him only brief sentences to avoid making him a martyr. But by voluntarily returning from convalescence in Germany, and then releasing a devastating YouTube video showing the obscenely opulent palace Mr. Putin was building himself on the Black Sea, Mr. Navalny left the president little choice but to dispatch him to a labor camp, and thus transform him into a powerful symbol of resistance. The [...]

February 3rd, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Five Early Unforced Joe Biden Foreign Policy Errors

  President Joe Biden was scheduled to deliver his first major speech on foreign policy today. Instead, it was postponed “due to inclement weather.” Apparently, the two inches of snow that fell on the capital this weekend made travel too risky. It’s just as well that the speech was rescheduled. President Joe Biden was scheduled to deliver his first major speech on foreign policy today. Instead, it was postponed “due to inclement weather.” Apparently, the two inches of snow that fell on the capital this weekend made travel too risky. It’s just as well that the speech was rescheduled. After all, Biden doesn’t have much to brag about on the foreign relations front. Indeed, in his first week in the Oval Office, the president seemed determined to elevate partisan politics over good policy. Here are five frustrating moves he has made that delight the radical left but bode ill for American prosperity and security. #1. Cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline. This energy project would have more than doubled the nation’s pipeline capacity to import Canadian crude oil efficiently, economically and safely via pipeline. Biden blocked it on day one. That’s bad climate policy. The oil will now be transported via alternative means that will create more greenhouse gasses. It’s bad economics. The cancellation will kill thousands of jobs and raise energy costs in the U.S. and Canada. It’s bad strategy, undermining U.S. energy security. And it is, above all, bad foreign policy—a financial body blow to America’s closest ally. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called the move [...]

February 3rd, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Covid-19 has illustrated New Zealand’s hypocritical attitude to Māori health

Prioritising Māori for the vaccine would be a concrete sign the government is committed to improving our health Waka Ama crew members welcome each other with a hongi (nose press) on the beach as they celebrate Waitangi Day. Many Māori have the co-morbidities which make Covid-19 more serious. Photograph: Jason Oxenham/Getty Images   AMāori doctor on the government’s immunisation implementation advisory group, Dr Rawiri Jansen, said recently that Māori would be prioritised in the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out. A predictable outcry ensued, with familiar protestations about “race-based policy” and convenient ignorance displayed about the other priority groups being discussed – the elderly, those with known risk factors, front-line workers. New Zealand’s first Covid-19 community case in months was confirmed two weeks out from Waitangi Day. The new case is awkwardly located in Northland This was compounded for Māori living in rural areas with the urban/rural healthcare provision inequity heaping on more risk. The community checkpoints have been a source of contention since they were first mooted – Māori are called vigilantes for using our limited resources to protect our communities, but those opposed offered little in the way of solutions about how we might effectively protect those communities instead. This is a conundrum. On the one hand, people are unhappy that the government might consider acting in a way that is consistent with what was agreed to under Te Tiriti o Waitangi; exchange of governorship of the land in return for equal treatment of Māori. A vaccine implementation strategy that is compliant with the treaty would be [...]

February 1st, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Joe Biden talks tough on putting the world to rights. But can he deliver?

The new US president faces a series of intractable foreign policy problems that won’t be solved by signing executive orders President Joe Biden at work in the Oval Office. The difficulty with his ‘blizzard of executive orders is that they are postures, not policies’. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP Those who remember Joe Biden as a senator who preferred compromise to confrontation may have been surprised by his first hectic days as president. Biden offered a stiff finger to the leaders of China and Russia, kicked the stool from under cosy Trump-era relationships in the Gulf, fired a shot across Israel’s bows, and propelled the international climate crisis to centre stage. This is fighting talk. The difficulty with Biden’s blizzard of executive orders is that they are postures, not policies, mainly intended to overturn or freeze the most damaging aspects of Donald Trump’s legacy. There is no sign yet of long-term answers to the complex global questions Biden identifies. This is less Truman Doctrine, more feelgood attitudinising. Declaring the “US is back” is easy. New ideas are harder. The risk is that in seeking to reassert American influence and restore positions abandoned by his predecessor, Biden may make existing problems worse. Last week’s exchange with Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, was instructive. Biden made a point of stressing “unwavering commitment to the defence of Japan … which includes the Senkaku islands”. The islands in the East China Sea are claimed by Beijing, which calls them the Diaoyu. Trump bequeathed multiple China flashpoints, over trade, the pandemic, Taiwan, and [...]

January 31st, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Biden inauguration: A rich tapestry of marvels and the mundane

Opinion: In a ceremony that was at once ordinary and extraordinary, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr was inaugurated as the 46th American president on 20 January just before noon Eastern Standard Time. Joe Biden is sworn in watched by his wife, Jill, who is holding their family Bible. Photo: AFP       As Ronald Reagan had noted in his own inaugural address 40 years earlier, "in the eyes of many in the world, this every-four-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle." Given that the US Capitol Building had been physically invaded by right-wing insurrectionists two weeks prior to Biden taking his oath of office, the fact of a public inauguration on those very steps was perhaps miraculous enough. But the day was abundant with history: a rich amalgam of uplifting marvels, sombre remembrances, and the last gasp of a norm-busting predecessor. Most notable was the elevation of the first woman and the first person of colour to the office of the vice presidency. Resplendent in purple to honour Shirley Chisholm - the first Black woman to run for president - Senator Kamala Harris was administered the oath of office by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina on the nation's highest court. The riot of Harris' hue and the joyousness of her moment in history stood in sharp contrast to the empty National Mall, normally a heaving mass of a million or more souls. On Wednesday it was instead filled with 200,000 flags. Kamala Harris is sworn in as vice-president [...]

January 22nd, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Russia is part of the U.S. response to China’s European campaign

© Getty Images The European Union (EU) recently announced an investment dealwith China, concluding seven years of negotiations, and coinciding with the end of Germany’s term as president of the Council of the EU. The agreement was not met with universal acclaim, with many critics noting that China’s minor concessions, such as vague commitments to improve labor rights, did not include agreeing to open public tenders, signing the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement, or accepting an investment court system for handling investor disputes. Even the EU-friendly Financial Times recognized the deal as China’s “strategic victory.” It’s not a done deal yet, as the approval process may take to 2022. The agreement has to pass legal muster, be translated into the different languages, and be officially approved by EU governments, the European Parliament, and national parliaments. The U.S. has time to make clear to Europe the consequences of lashing itself to China. The U.S. should explain the futility of trying to hold China to the agreement, while China demands technology transfer, steals the technology that isn’t given to it, and violates the labor standards that it kinda-sorta pledged to uphold. The Americans know from experience what a fool’s errand it is. Failing that, the U.S. should remind Europe that its China-linked (or China-infiltrated) technology firms will receive special attention in their dealings in the U.S. or if they try to list on U.S. stock exchanges. A hint of the EU’s attitude to the U.S. is in its efforts to regulate U.S. technology companies in order to [...]

January 10th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Opinion: Trump loses control of his own deluded narrative

Opinion - 'I can't believe this is happening.' 'I knew this was going to happen.' These two conflicting thoughts are being repeated thousands of times around the world today, as Washington DC collapses into violence and anarchy. Donald Trump. Photo: AFP The scenes unfolding in America's capital today are like something from a bad action movie, with bearded, shambling blokes in camouflage gear as the stars. At least one person has died as I write this. There's one man responsible for this chaos and anarchy, and regrettably, for the next 14 days, he's the President of the United States, who has pushed and pushed his false narrative until he's utterly lost control of it. This feels like the natural endgame for a president who has systematically woven his own reality for the past four years, culminating in the increasingly deranged insistence that he won an election he lost by 7 million votes. President-elect Joe Biden's margin of victory in the Electoral College is identical to Donald Trump's in 2016; his popular vote gap is larger than Barack Obama's definitive win against Mitt Romney in 2012. It's really not that close. Dozens of lawsuits alleging fraud have been thrown out, but sycophants and enablers have fostered the notion that Trump somehow was cheated out of re-election rather than the reality - he was voted out by a firm majority of people utterly sick of him and the chaos he creates. As the designated "American explainer" guy among my New Zealand friends, I keep saying the same words [...]

January 7th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Russia hack requires new cybersecurity paradigm

© Thinkstock As the full extent of the damage of Russia’s hack into private sector and government computer systems continues to be investigated – with the recent revelations that Russian cyber operators may have stolen the source code for pervasive Microsoft products – there has been little effort to bring various stakeholders together to determine what long-term and strategic technical and policy solutions are needed. There are various options to pursue, including decoupling the leadership and organizational structures of the National Security Agency (NSA) and U.S. Cyber Command (USCC), which we have already advocated as a prudent, albeit contentious step. We recognize that there are valid concerns about the timing of such a move, including from congressional leaders who have highlighted the dangers of doing so during an unprecedented cybersecurity crisis. We do not disagree that the rash implementation of such a split could cause significant harm to ongoing national security efforts. But we believe that this moment presents an opportunity for a deliberate path to splitting the two agencies’ leadership that will enhance not only each organization’s abilities to conduct their missions but also cybersecurity and cyber operations efforts writ large. Such a path requires concerted efforts across both executive agencies and congressional overseers over the next few months to develop, execute and manage processes in three distinct areas: internal decoupling, interagency coordination and rigorous oversight. Clearly defining the necessary outcomes and the processes that will lead to them will minimize mission disruption, enhance national security outcomes and avoid the can-kicking on an NSA-USCC split [...]

January 5th, 2021|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Why Joe Biden Must Engage China

      If the Biden administration were to attempt a complete reboot of American strategy towards China, it could chart a new path while picking up concrete benefits for the American economy and chipping away at Trump’s political base. JOE BIDEN’S hands are tied. Even if he wants to shift course and adopt a more moderate or nuanced policy towards China, he won’t be able to do it. A massive bipartisan consensus against China has developed in the American body politic. With Donald Trump receiving over 70 million votes, and Republican gains in the House, the Republicans don’t feel chastened. They feel energized. They will pounce on Biden if he appears soft on China. Biden must therefore keep up his sharp rhetoric on China. His speeches must continue with a tough line. Yet, underneath that negative public rhetoric, he must explore for opportunities to meet some of his key goals, to jumpstart the American economy after Covid-19 and to chip away at the solid Republican base that Trump has accumulated. If he is careful, shrewd and calculating, he will find that an economically vibrant China offers a wealth of opportunities that no other country can offer. Trump was dead wrong about the trade war with China, especially when he said “Trade wars are good, and easy to win.” The U.S. trade deficit with China barely went down, from $375 billion in 2017 to $345 billion in 2019. There is evidence that China exporters gamed the system by shifting exports to the United States from other [...]

December 26th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Full assault on European democracy, freedom, and human rights by Iranian terrorist diplomats

These days, the world is witnessing one of the most important cases of terrorism in the 21st century, which is now being examined and evaluated in Europe in the small town of Antwerp, Belgium. The reason for this most important court case is nothing but the attack on freedom, democracy, and human rights in Europe by Iranian regime’s terrorist under diplomatic cover. According to Iranian regime ‘s logic and reasoning, assassination is just a political tool thatIranian regime can decide to use when faced with an obstacle to defend its interests. In June 2018, Belgian police defused a bomb that Assadollah Asadi, a senior diplomat at the Iranian embassy in Austria, handed over to two of his accomplices at a pizzeria to take with them to a gathering of the Iranian Resistance in Paris. This mullahs’ state terrorist attack was carried out under the command of President Rouhani with approval of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and plotted by Iranian Ministry of Intelligence. The step by step details of the attack was directed and managed by Assadi through the Iranian Embassy in Austria. The Tehran regime had taken a huge risk to carry out this assault, but why?! What were the facts that made mullahs’ regime to take such a risky decision? In Dec 2017, a large-scale uprising took place in Iran. After this uprising, Khamenei and other regime officials concluded that they should take revenge and attack the main source of this uprising. Plan ”A” for revenge included a large explosion in Albania during the Iranian [...]

December 10th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Australia-China spat a tricky one for NZ

  Opinion - Staying out of the unfolding Australian-China diplomatic clash is not going to be an easy political option for the New Zealand government. The Jacinda-Ardern led government should express its willingness to back Australia's right to go to the WTO to dispute recent Chinese tariffs, Robert Patman writes. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone       New Zealand's policy of hedging between the world's two superpowers - the US and China - is now directly challenged by escalating tensions between Australia and China and the prospect of a more demanding Biden administration. In the years since signing a landmark Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China in 2008, New Zealand governments have significantly improved their relations with both Washington and Beijing without aligning too closely with either. To the US, New Zealand has signalled it shares a commitment to democratic values and human rights, and is willing to raise these issues when dealing with the leaders of China's one-party system. To China, New Zealand has emphasised mutually beneficial trade ties, and that it is a friendly but independent democratic country that is unwilling to be an extension of the US. During the last decade, New Zealand has maintained its strong support for the Five Eyes alliance - a US-led intelligence sharing arrangement involving Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand - and signed agreements such as the 2010 Wellington Declaration and the 2012 Washington Declaration that restored military cooperation between New Zealand and America. Meanwhile, China became an increasingly important trade partner of New Zealand. In [...]

December 9th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Mosque attacks: The Christchurch commission’s call to improve social cohesion is its hardest — and most important — recommendation

Thousands of mourners attended the national remembrance service in Hagley Park, Christchurch. Photo / Dean Purcell         COMMENT Perhaps most surprising in the Christchurch report is the suggestion that the likeliest thing to have prevented the attack would have been to do with social cohesion, writes Alexander Gillespie for The Conversation. The most fundamental obligation of any state is the safety of its citizens. On March 15, 2019, New Zealand completely failed in this obligation. The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Terrorist Attack on Christchurch Mosques was designed to tell us why and how this happened — why 51 people were murdered, and what steps need to be taken to prevent such acts recurring. In a nutshell, the commission concluded no one was solely to blame. It was a collective failure, divided between the security agencies, the police and a population lacking social cohesion and with a fear of speaking out. The failure of the security agencies was unremarkable in the commission's analysis. They were alienated, under-resourced and overly focusing counter-terrorism resources on the threat of Islamist extremism. While the agencies were aware of right-wing extremism, their intelligence was underdeveloped — but even if it had been better, the outcome may not have been different. The primary reason the terrorist was not detected, the commission concludes, was due more to "the operational security that the individual maintained, the legislative authorising environment in which counter-terrorism operates, and the limited capability and capacity of the counter-terrorism agencies." Intelligence and police failures So, there was [...]

December 9th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Opinion: China ‘playing cat-and-mouse game’ with Australia

Opinion - In the moment, Scott Morrison's angry denunciation of the offensive Chinese tweet about alleged Australian war crimesseemed a reasonable response. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (file) Photo: AFP In retrospect, it was probably ill-judged. This is so even though the response had bipartisan support. The Chinese immediately knew they'd touched a raw nerve, and kept pressing it, through their hyperbolic mouthpiece The Global Times, and their embassy in Canberra. They grabbed an opportunity to get their own back at a country inclined to focus on their bad human rights record. In trying to show strength, the Australian government had exposed its sensitivity. Morrison probably realised this. Twenty-four hours after calling his "virtual" news conference (he was still in quarantine at The Lodge following his Japanese trip) he told the coalition party room (remotely) that the government's response to the tweet did not need amplification. On Thursday he wouldn't even be drawn about the Chinese social media platform WeChat taking down a message of reassurance to the Australian Chinese community he had posted. The digitally-contrived image of a soldier with a knife to a child's throat tweeted by China's foreign affairs spokesman was the equivalent of a highly objectionable cartoon. With hindsight, Morrison might have been better to send out a minister to respond to the tweet, or simply to dismiss it with a brief condemnatory line and minimum elaboration. The tweet was part of the cat-and-mouse game the Chinese are playing with Australia. This might hurt their international image - it certainly should. But [...]

December 5th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Covid 19: 32,000 ‘life years’ saved in NZ compared to OECD, new research finds

Professor Michael Baker,department of public health, University of Otago, was part of the study group. Photo / Supplied     Some 2000 New Zealanders could have been killed by Covid-19 if the Government had taken the same approach as some of New Zealand's closest allies, according to Otago University health experts. The group of health academics from Otago University – including Nick Wilson and Michael Baker – calculate that 2000 lives were saved in New Zealand, compared to the OECD average. That, according to those experts, is the equivalent of 32,000 "life years" saved. But despite New Zealand's health success story when it comes to handling the virus, the Government could have done better when it comes to the economic impacts of Covid-19, the experts said. In their highly regarded public health blog post, they say New Zealand has the best health outcomes when compared to the 36-country OECD average. New Zealand has had 25 Covid-19 deaths compared with a population of five million – that's five deaths per million. The OECD average, according to the health experts, is 406 per million. If New Zealand has the same average, more than 2000 people would have died from Covid-19. "Assuming an average of 16 lost life-years per death from Covid-19 in high-income countries, this represents the prevention of around 2000 deaths and a saving of 32,000 life-years in New Zealand compared to the OECD average." Although New Zealand had the lowest Covid-19 death rate in the OECD, the Otago University research shows one country fared better in [...]

December 5th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Why New Zealand is perfectly placed to broker a truce between China and the Five Eyes alliance

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in April 2019. Photo / AP     OPINION: With tension escalating between China and members of the Five Eyes security alliance, most recently over a Chinese tweet that used a doctored image to attack Australia, New Zealand is arguably in a prime position to broker a kind of truce. Someone needs to take the initiative. Right now, things are deteriorating, as the  trade stand-off with Australia demonstrates. With China having already reacted to Five Eyes criticism of its Hong Kong policies by threatening that "their eyes will be plucked out", the situation is combustible: a large, tinder-dry pile of disputes, with both sides flicking matches of angry rhetoric at each other. On one side we have the Five Eyes allies - America, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In the minds of many in the West, this is a family of nations in which peoples, culture and values are tightly interwoven. On the other side is China, with which New Zealand has had an official relationship since the turn of the 20th century. While the two countries fought on the same side in World War II, once China became communist their paths diverged. They were on opposite sides in the Korean and Vietnam wars. These days, of course, New Zealand and China are friends and important trading partners. Deepening cultural, scientific, environmental and social exchanges support their economic relationship. New Zealand in the middle When it comes to its security interests, New Zealand is [...]

December 3rd, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Has the pandemic made Bitcoin mainstream?

Is the pandemic transforming Bitcoin into a conventional investment option and potentially a mainstream medium of exchange? The jury is still out on both those questions, but it is apparent that the cryptocurrency is gaining wider acceptance on both fronts, moving from a speculative plaything for millennials to a financial asset of interest to conventional investors. The impact of the pandemic on all things digital, but particularly payments, during the widespread lockdowns and the boom in online commerce and communications has generated increased interest in digital currencies. At the same time, the explosion in debt has caused investors to consider whether Bitcoins represent a safe haven for stored value. Bitcoin is gaining wider acceptance, moving from a speculative plaything for millennials to a financial asset of interest to some conventional investors.CREDIT:BLOOMBERG     Some of the world’s largest investment managers and hedge funds are now advocating Bitcoin as an investment, even those once sceptical of cryptocurrencies, while online payments giant PayPal now allows users of its platform to buy, sell, hold or use Bitcoin as a medium of exchange. Bitcoin’s value has always been volatile – in 2017 its value soared from less than $US1000 to nearly $US20,000 before collapsing to less than $US4000 a year later – but, whereas in the past that caused it to be dismissed as a quite risky vehicle for speculation, this year all forms of investment have been volatile. This week, Bitcoin’s price hit a record $US19,850 before easing back to around $US18,950. It started this year at about $US7180 [...]

December 3rd, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Disputing Trump, Barr says no widespread election fraud

FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2020, file photo Attorney General William Barr speaks during a roundtable discussion on Operation Legend, a federal program to help cities combat violent crime in St. Louis. Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday, Dec. 1, that the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud and has seen nothing that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File) WASHINGTON (AP) — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared Tuesday the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election. Barr’s comments, in an interview with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month’s voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House. Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.” The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president’s most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail. More to Trump’s liking, Barr revealed [...]

December 2nd, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Trump: FBI and DOJ ‘Missing in Action’ During Investigation of Alleged Voter Fraud

President Donald Trump is accusing the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ of failing to act during his campaign’s investigation into widespread voter fraud allegations. During his first television interview since Election Day with Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo, she asked Trump whether the FBI and DOJ have been investigating his claims. “Missing in action, can’t tell you where they are. I ask are they looking at it, everyone says, ‘Yes they’re looking at it.’ Look where are they with Comey, McCabe and all these other people?” Trump said. He added, “I said I’ll stay out of it. I wish I didn’t make that statement. There’s no reason really why I have to.” Trump accused Comey, McCabe, and Brennan of lying to Congress and spying on his campaign. “Missing in action. Can’t tell you where they are.”@realDonaldTrumpsays the FBI and DOJ are MIA, and asks “where are they with Comey, with McCabe, with Brennan?… They lied, they leaked, they spied on our campaign… where’s Durham?” pic.twitter.com/Yyh3iDE4px — Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) November 29, 2020 Trump said career employees the FBI and DOJ “keep moving along and they go on to the next president.”

December 2nd, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Only 3% of Trump Voters Believe Joe Biden Legitimately Won the Election, 72% Say They Would Leave GOP For a ‘Trump Party’

Only 3% of President Donald Trump voters believe that Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 election. Additionally, 72% said they would leave the GOP if Trump started his own party. It’s clear that the fraud, anomalies, and shady practices during the election have irreparably harmed the public’s trust in the U.S. electoral system. It is also clear that the president should keep fighting. According to a new CNBC/Change Research poll, a staggering 73% of respondents consider Trump the legitimate winner. Just 3% believe that Trump should concede and begin to transfer power. Two-thirds, or 66%, think Trump should never concede. “The vast majority of Trump voters — 81% — said they would not give Biden a chance as president. Only 19% said they would,” the pollsters found. “Loyalty to Trump runs deep among the respondents. Asked with whom they would identify if the president left the GOP, 72% responded Trump’s party, while 28% answered the Republican Party.”

November 27th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Feature of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine ‘puzzling’ scientists

Scientists worldwide are “scratching their heads” about one particular effect of a much-hyped COVID-19 vaccine that just doesn't make sense. Early trials of one of the key vaccines that could bring the coronavirus pandemic under control have proved promising, but an aspect of the results is “puzzling” experts. The vaccine produced by British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca and Oxford University, 30 million doses of which will be produced in Australia, appears to be more effective the less of it is administered to recipients. It is one of the three leading COVID-19 vaccines under development alongside others by Moderna of the US and a joint US-German vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech On Monday, AstraZeneca and Oxford University announced its vaccine had an average efficacy of 70 per cent. That is lower than those by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna which have come in above 90 per cent. The Oxford vaccine was only 62 per cent effective if administered in two equal doses. However, its efficacy grew if those on the trial were given an initial half dose followed by a full dose. UK science journal Nature said that the vaccine should offer more protection if it was given in a lower quantity was both “puzzling scientists” and “head scratching”. Multiple theories have now sprung up as to why this might be. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is so far said to be 70 per cent effective. Picture: JOEL SAGET / AFP.Source:AFP     One theory is that simply more testing needs to be done. The early results are based on so-called phase III trials, [...]

November 24th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Bill Gates Says Half of Business Travel to Disappear Even After Pandemic

“My prediction would be that over 50 percent of business travel and over 30 percent of days in the office will go away.” Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates believes that even when the coronaviruspandemic eventually subsides, it will still fundamentally change how people travel and conduct business in the future. “My prediction would be that over 50 percent of business travel and over 30 percent of days in the office will go away,” the Microsoft co-founder said during the livestreamed New York Times Dealbook conference this week. Gates added that from now on, businesses will have a “very high threshold” for traveling to conduct in-person meetings. Like Facebook, Twitter, and other large tech companies, Microsoft has already announced a permanent work-from-home policy for eligible employees. The workers also have the option to choose from a hybrid model in which they can commute to the office on some days. Gates, who has been warning about the threat of a global pandemic since 2015, noted that he has already held five virtual roundtables this year with pharma executives—meetings that are usually done face-to-face in New York City. “We will go to the office somewhat, we’ll do some business travel, but dramatically less,” he said. Airlines in the United States have taken a huge financial hit for much of the year as the ongoing pandemic has caused travelers to cancel or postpone flights. Compared to last year, domestic air travel is down 62 percent and international air travel 79 percent, according to the industry group Airlines for America. In a [...]

November 24th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Rockets are latest reminder that we need to leave Iraq

U.S. troops' presence in Iraq is not making relations with Iran any better. It's actually spurring Iran to more violence, showing its time to withdraw. After the Trump administration’s consideration of military strikes on Iran for its nuclear program, the rocket attacks in Iraq’s Green Zone, where the U.S. embassy is located, on Tuesday have the potential to draw the United States closer to a conflict with Iran. But President Trump should keep military retaliation off the table. Military action has incentivized — not deterred — Iran and its proxies in the past, endangering U.S. personnel. Military force hasn’t made American personnel safe. In the last bout of hostilities with Iran, Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iran-aligned militia group in Iraq, conducted arocket attack in December 2019 which killed a U.S. contractor. In response, the U.S. hit Kata’ib Hezbollah hard, striking five of the group’s facilities. If military action could deter further attacks, that should have been the end of it. But it wasn’t. Escalating tit-for-tat attacks Instead, a cycle of escalation ensued, with Kata’ib Hezbollah supporters attacking the U.S. embassy that same month. The U.S. then pursued the most aggressive option on the table, killing Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and the leader of Kata’ib Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in January. Rather than prevent further attacks, the move prompted Iran’s direct retaliation, with Iran’s ballistic missile attack injuring over 100 U.S. personnel. What happened in the aftermath of this standoff also underscores the failure of a military response to solve the problem. Attacks continued throughout the year, only stopping [...]

November 23rd, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Survey: New Zealanders want parliamentary term increased

New Zealanders want the parliamentary term increased from three to four years and 90 percent of them have full trust and confidence in the democratic process. New Zealand parliament. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson That is according to the latest survey from Research New Zealand which looked at the length of New Zealand's parliamentary term, the desirability of compulsory voting and the trust in democracy. Research NZ Partner Emanuel Kalafatelis said it was after the US election that they decided to seek the opinion of New Zealanders on how our democratic processes line up with those around the world. He said the vast majority of New Zealanders do have confidence in the country's democratic system. "We got 90 percent and that is significantly higher than the level of opinion with regard to the democratic processes of Australia, 66 [percent], the United Kingdom at 55, the US at 23 and Hong Kong - less than 10, specifically 8 percent." Kalafatelis said 61 percent of people wanted the parliamentary term to be increased from three years to four. "I think we should not discount that result, I think we should keep an eye on that because obviously a significant proportion of New Zealanders are in support of that for one reason or another." Younger respondents were less in favour of changing the parliamentary term than older respondents, he said. "Older respondents obviously have had more experience of the electoral process you could say and, therefore, they could have an opinion that three years isn't enough for a government [...]

November 22nd, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

China’s taste for more trade a plus for NZ – specialist

A New Zealand trade specialist is welcoming Chinese President Xi Jinping statements about his desire to open trade doors with the world. Chinese President Xi Jinping also says he doesn't want a trade war with the US. Photo: AFP Addressing Apec leaders yesterday Xi promised he will cut tariffs and indicated he wants to forge new partnerships. Xi said he has even reached out to the United States - declaring China doesn't want to get caught up in a trade war with America. Pat English, formerly New Zealand's trade commissioner in China and also a former executive director of the New Zealand China Council, said while there have been "ripples" in this country's trade with China, the announcement was positive. Asked on Morning Report if Xi's comments were credible, he said if the policy was being outlined in the Apec forum there was no doubt it was true, even if it would be interpreted and implemented in a Chinese way. New Zealand has 0.2 percent of global trade and .6 percent of China's total imports, so any positive statement from China on trade could be welcomed, English said. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has threatened to "pluck the eyes out" of the Five Eyes group - which includes New Zealand - for objecting to new rules allowing elected representatives to be sacked from the Hong Kong legislature. In a statement issued overnight, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman warned countries to stay out of China's affairs saying: "They should be careful or their eyes will be plucked out. [...]

November 20th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

China’s Love-Hate Relationship with the United States

Yet alongside triumphalism, anger, and disappointment there remains admiration for America. Amid an ongoing trade war, an escalating struggle for technological supremacy, and intensifying strategic competition Americans and Chinese at least agree that 2020 has been a bad year for the United States. This summer a Wall Street Journal poll of Americans found that 80 percent feel their country is “spiraling out of control.” Gathering public opinion data in China is a difficult business, but the available evidence suggests that the average U.S. favorability rating in China has declined significantly this year. But that general Chinese perception masks a characteristically huge diversity of views among 1.3 billion people. It is easy for politically and epidemiologically exhausted Americans to imagine that China is laughing all the way to the bank at America’s travails, but in reality, they are confused about America too. America’s political and social unrest and failure to control the coronavirus pandemic have certainly given added force to pre-existing perceptions of American decline, especially against the backdrop of China’s successful pandemic response. The Trump administration in general and its chaotic pandemic response, in particular, are broadly seen as having damaged American prestige to China’s benefit. Hence the tongue-in-cheek nickname bestowed on President Donald Trump by Chinese social media: “Trump who builds China.” Hu Xijin, the hard-line nationalist editor of the Global Times state newspaper, urged Americans to reelect Trump because the hawks around him strengthen China’s “solidarity and cohesion.” On the other hand, accelerating decline is seen as bolstering American determination to contain or encircle [...]

November 16th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

70% of Republicans say election wasn’t ‘free and fair’ despite no evidence of fraud – study

78% of Republicans who alleged unfairness said mail-in ballots spurred fraud, while 72% believed ballot tampering occurred A supporter of Donald Trump holds a sign during a rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photograph: Bastiaan Slabbers/Reuters According to a new survey, 70% of Republicans do not believe the presidential election was “free and fair”, even though multiple news outlets have called it for Joe Biden. There has been a dramatic decline in Republican voters’ faith in the system. Before the election, in the same Politico/Morning Consult poll, 35% of Republicans thought the vote would not be free and fair. More Democrats voiced trust in the election, 90% saying they thought the results were “free and fair”, up 52% from the pre-election poll. Among Republicans who thought the election wasn’t fair, 78% thought mail-in ballots spurred extensive voter fraud, while 72% believed ballot tampering occurred. Donald Trump and his supporters continue to allege such problems, without offering any substantiating evidence whatsoever. On Monday the attorney general, William Barr, authorized federal prosecutors to investigate “substantial allegations” of voter irregularities, a decision which marked a sharp turn from Department of Justice policy and was made without citing any evidence of voter fraud. The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, reiterated Trump’s refusal to concede and repeated accusations of voter fraud. Fox News, which has historically treated Trump more charitably, cut away from her press conference. Among Republican voters surveyed by Politico and Morning Consult, 84% said the election helped Biden. Before election day, 18% of Republicans said they thought results would [...]

November 11th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Why did so many people vote for Trump? Like it or not, he is a ‘safe space’ for millions

The only surprise was that we were shocked. Donald Trump had long signalled his intention to both pre-emptively claim victory, and to denounce the election as a fraudulent, corrupted process, just as soon as it looked like he would lose it. Illustration: Reg LynchCREDIT: Yet still, it was shocking to see the leader of the free world make baseless claims that undermined the democracy he claims to champion. It was shocking to see his supporters marching on polling venues with a chant, not just of “Stop the count”, but in some cases, “Stop the vote”. The situation was so changeable that much of what I read this week contained the caveat “at the time of writing”. Now I need to deploy it myself - at the time of writing, Trump had resoundingly lost the popular vote and it was virtually impossible for him to win the electoral college vote. Which turns the transfer of power into a game of chicken. The other theory cleaves close to Harris’ - that Trumpism is an identity marker, a protest against the social forces of liberalism. It is about identity and feeling, having little to do with rational economic forces. Joe Biden has character – he has devoted his life to public service and it is generally agreed he is a man of decency and integrity. But Trump has something better, in the eyes of his supporters – he has style. It is a style they enjoy watching – bombastic, iconoclastic, a f--k you to the morals and niceties of [...]

November 10th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Donald Trump or Joe Biden, whoever wins the election, China loses

Both have promised to take tough measures on the communist country. There will be at least one good outcome of Election Day: Whoever wins, communist China will lose. Whether it’s Joe Biden or Donald Trump, the next president of the United States will likely take a hard line on China. Both candidates have staked out claims to have the tougher policy. This competition is good for American interests — China is the greatest threat to America’s security, economy and values — and while it should have happened years ago, it’s better late than never. How did this bipartisan unity come about? Much of the credit goes to the American people. While the political class has spent the better part of four decades cozying up to China and expanding diplomatic, economic and cultural ties, Americans have maintained a steady hostility toward the world’s communist standard-bearer. With rare exceptions, public opinion has been unfavorable toward Beijing for 30 years straight. Following the coronavirus pandemic and the Chinese crackdown on Hong Kong, that opposition has reached a record, with two-thirds of Americans now holding an unfavorable view of China. Trump's dealings with China Donald Trump was the first to follow the American people’s lead. He made China a centerpiece of his campaign in 2016. As president, his record has been a mixed bag, both in words and deeds, but on the whole, he has shifted America’s China policy in a much more aggressive and assertive direction. The bad must come first. Trump has rhetorically put his friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping above America’s interests — even though his verbal [...]

November 2nd, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Election 2020: A vote for Trump is a vote for economic progress for African Americans

Before the pandemic, African Americans were thriving economically. Looking ahead, Trump's promises are ambitious, but his track record is impressive. With just days until the election, some Black voters may still be grappling with whether to cast their vote for former Vice President Joe Biden or President Donald Trump. Biden said, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you 'ain’t Black,” because apparently, he owns the Black vote. But Blacks are not a monolith, and they are not indebted to Joe Biden nor to the Democratic Party. If their final decision comes down to which candidate will continue the economic progress that lifted median Black household incomes to their highest levels on record and pushed Black unemployment rates and poverty rates down to their lowest levels, then there is really just one choice: President Trump. A president’s words are powerful, and people often view him in light of his rhetoric. Insensitive and offensive language is off-putting. Yet that does not diminish what he accomplishes for the people he serves. Numbers don't lie Consider that the man who championed the 1957 Civil Rights Act, then-Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson, referred to it as "the (N-word) bill.” As president, he signed into law pivotal legislation that dismantled segregation and disenfranchisement of Blacks: the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Yet, according to biographers and personal accounts, he still referred to Blacks of every stature — from Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to his own chauffeur — as the N-word. [...]

November 2nd, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

US Election 2020: Why Donald Trump will win again on November 3

Forget the polls, ignore the experts and buckle up your seatbelts because Donald Trump is going to shock the world in just a few days.   OPINION The year before Donald Trump was first elected, I was lucky enough to take a meandering trip through the United States over several months. My wife and I had rented a car, which we put through its paces as we traversed a nation we thought we’d learned so much about through films, books and popular music. While the timeless landscape of its great mountains, canyons and deserts were forever etched into my brain, one moment altered my perception of the States and it plays increasingly heavily on my mind at this critical juncture in history, five years later. It took place while I was sitting in a dive bar in Philadelphia where, unlike Aussie pubs where we sit with the mob we came in with, everyone was perched along the bar — fuelling drunken conversation between strangers. I pulled a tall stool up, ordered a Pabst Blue Ribbon and – as seemed obligatory in the States – sparked up a conversation with the fella sitting next to me. We talked about my trip, where I was from and a bit about what there was to see and do in Philly aside from eating cheesesteaks. We left the bar shortly after someone threw up on the table.Source:news.com.au I cracked loudly with laughter as he shared a few anecdotes about his life and the city he called home, which he claimed [...]

October 28th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

China loses trust internationally over coronavirus handling

YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project shows most people believe China was not transparent A man works in a laboratory of Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech, which is developing a potential coronavirus vaccine. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters China appears to have comprehensively lost the international battle for hearts and minds over its handling of coronavirus with most people believing it was responsible for the start of the outbreak and was not transparent about the problem at the outset. The findings come from the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project, a survey of 26,000 people in 25 countries, designed with the Guardian. It is the widest survey of global public opinion on China’s handling of the pandemic, and the overwhelmingly negative attitude will disappoint Chinese diplomats, who have expended huge energy to deflect blame and paint the country as altruistically helping others to recover. Overall, the poll suggests there is a receptive global audience for the next US president, if he chooses, to construct an international alliance to challenge China’s growing political dominance, and to question the moral values of its leadership. There is no sense in the findings, however, that the US would be able to exploit its handling of the crisis to take on that leadership role. The survey shows that in every country surveyed, apart from China, the public overwhelmingly believe that coronavirus was first detected in China. Nigeria had the highest rate (98%), closely followed by Greece and South Africa (97%) and Spain (96%). The countries with the lowest rates, apart from China, were Saudi Arabia, where 83% thought China was [...]

October 28th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Donald Trump has 87% chance of winning the election, stock market researcher says

President Donald Trump has a very good chance of winning the 2020 presidential election against Joe Biden, if a more than 200-year overview of the stock market is to be believed. That's according to research from the Socionomic Institute, a group that has long used the stock market to predict electionsand economic and cultural trends. The research, going back to George Washington, found 16 times in U.S. history when an incumbent president ran for reelection and the stock market was up more than 20% in the preceding three years. In 14 of those 16 times, the incumbent won reelection, giving a success rate of 87%. If the trend holds, Mr. Trump could be No. 15. The two times it didn't work out, for reference, were George H.W. Bush, who lost to Bill Clinton in 1992 even though the stock market was up 38% in the preceding three years, and John Adams, who didn't win his reelection bid in 1800, despite the fact that the value of capital in U.S. chartered banks had risen by 30% in the previous 5 years. (At the time, federally chartered banks were the only publicly traded stocks in the young republic.) "The stock market is an indicator of social mood," said Matthew Lampert, who is the director of research of the group. "Historically, a more positive trend in the market and social mood is associated with a win for the incumbent." That gives Mr. Trump a pretty clear historical edge. But there are some huge caveats to consider before concluding that [...]

October 28th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

China’s investment in Western elites really paid off

                               © Getty Images     Threat deflation is a rare thing in international politics. Many governments have a tendency to overestimate threats, not underestimate them. The rise of the People’s Republic of China is the poster child of how threat deflation — or underestimating threats — can be done expertly. It explains how China was able to prevent effective balancing against its aggression for decades. As Sino-American security competition increases and the bilateral relationship worsens, this issue likely will receive greater interest. China has successfully deflated its threat in the West through two discrete and effective tactics.  The first is an ancient one: rewarding the avarice of political leaders and opinion-makers is as old as recorded history. China’s investment in Western political, business, intellectual and opinion elites is complicated but is, fundamentally, an investment in the personal financial success of these elites, including their families, friends and partners. In turn, this results in a personal investment in China’s success — of the growth of its economy, closer economic ties, and ever-expanding political power and influence. Lamentably, this can cause a lack of a serious examination of the deleterious consequences of China’s rise on the West’s national security interests. This investment — in essence, a stake in China’s growth — results in the implicit message from the elites to the leadership and rank-and-file members of the national security bureaucracies, as well as to other institutions, that the negative implications of China’s rise [...]

October 28th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Biden leads Trump by 7 in Michigan: poll

© Getty Images   Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has a 7-point lead over President Trump in the crucial swing state of Michigan just days before the Nov. 3 election, according to a new poll. The former vice president has 51 percent support among likely voters in the Great Lake State, compared to Trump’s 44 percent in the ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Wednesday. Biden also leads Trump among women, 60 to 36 percent, among moderates, 67 to 25 percent, and among independents, 52 to 37 percent. The only demographic in which Trump enjoys a slim lead is among suburban voters, 49 to 46 percent. Trump flipped Michigan four years ago, narrowly winning it over then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by less than a percentage point. However, his handling of the coronavirus pandemic is proving to be his largest hurdle toward reelection in the rustbelt states. In Michigan, 56 percent of registered voters said they are very or somewhat worried that they or someone in their immediate family may catch COVID-19 and 55 percent said they disapprove of how the president has handled the health crisis.Approximately 53 percent said they trust Biden to handle it, compared to Trump’s 39 percent. There have been 164,274 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michiganand 7,239 deaths as of Wednesday, according to the state's health department. The new survey also showed Biden ahead in Wisconsin, leading 57 percent to Trump’s 40 percent. It mirrors other polls released this week that show the Democrat leading in former “blue wall states.” One released on Tuesday found Biden leads by 10 points, 52 to [...]

October 28th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Russia never stopped trying to sway elections and sow mistrust. Best thing to do is vote.

Federal agencies say votes were not changed in previous Russian hacks, but just the perception advances Trump's false claim that 2020 is rigged against him. Last week, 12 days before the presidential election, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency alerted the public that Russia had targeted dozens of government and aviation networks, including some housing voter information, and had successfully stolen data from at least two servers. This breach should certainly raise alarm bells, but it comes as no surprise to the disinformation community. Both the Mueller report and federal indictments detail how Russia has been systematically targeting voter information for years, including in 2016 when it attacked voter equipment manufacturers and hacked into county-level government computer systems in Florida and Illinois. While political parties argue over whether or not Russian interference occurred in 2016, Russian influence operations have proceeded unchecked: Russia has used botnets to propagate false information, launched coordinated disinformation operations, and developed a network of fake journalists for hire to write articles critical of former Vice President Joe Biden. And those are just the things we know about publicly. Russia is a relentless adversary By sowing seeds of doubt in the American populace, nation-state actors like Russia further magnify political divides, targeting our nation’s vulnerabilities and undermining our national security. While there is still much more that needs to be done to stop foreign interference in our elections, the United States has taken some steps to prevent a repeat of 2016. During the 2018 midterm elections, U.S. Cyber Command ran a [...]

October 26th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The week in polls: Trump gains in 9 of 12 swing states, but Biden still leads in 10 of them

With just eight days to go before the election, both national poll and swing state surveys make it clear the race is tightening. President Donald Trump gained on his Democratic challenger Joe Biden in national polling averages, and in nine of 12 contested states. But Biden still holds a sizable lead in the national polls and is still ahead of Trump in 10 of the 12 states that could decide the election. Biden's average lead is only 3 percentage points or more in five of the swing states, but those include the crucial states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that Trump flipped in 2016. And while Trump grew his modest lead in Ohio and cut Biden's leads in Arizona, Florida and Georgia further down to size, he also lost ground in Texas and Iowa. The USA TODAY average of averages is based on the polling averages calculated by RealClearPolitics (RCP) and FiveThirtyEight. Last week:Trump roars back in Florida, Biden gains in Georgia National average USA TODAY average of averages: Biden 51.4%, Trump 42.9% (Biden +8.6) Last week: Biden 51.9%, Trump 42.1% (Biden +9.8) Net change: Trump +1.2 RCP: Biden 50.8%, Trump 42.8% FiveThirtyEight: Biden 52.0%, Trump 42.9% At this point in 2016: Clinton +5.6 Swing state averages Arizona: Biden +2.7 USA TODAY average of averages: Biden 48.8%, Trump 46.1% Last week:  Biden 49.3%, Trump 45.5% (Biden +3.8) Net change: Trump +1.1 Florida: Biden +1.9 USA TODAY average of averages: Biden 48.9%, Trump 47.0% Last week: Biden 48.7%, Trump 46.0% (Biden +2.7) Net change: Trump +0.8 Georgia: Biden +0.5 USA [...]

October 26th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The intrigue behind Pope Francis’ “bombshell” comments on same-sex civil unions

The remarks were a bombshell. In "Francesco," a new documentary that premiered in Rome on Wednesday, Pope Francis departed from Catholic teaching and endorsed same-sex civil unions. Seated on a gold chair in his residence, the documentary showed Francis saying gay people were "children of God." "You can't kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this," he said. "What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered." Predictably, this deviation from church doctrine thrilled liberal Catholics and LGBT activists, and infuriated Catholic conservatives. But this issue wasn't entirely new to Francis. He had already expressed support for gay civil unions when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, but only as an alternative to gay marriage.  This was the first time a pope had spoken publicly in support of such a controversial issue. The 20-second clip in question, however, didn't just raise eyebrows. It also raised suspicions. The setting, framing and lighting — even the slightly-askew position of the pope's pectoral cross — appeared identical to those in an interview by veteran Vatican reporter Valentina Alazraki for Mexican broadcaster Televisa a year and a half earlier. That broadcast, however, had not contained the explosive comments, nor had an official Vatican transcript of the interview. But the Vatican transcript did contain a clue. Although no trace could  be found of the call for civil unions, the pope had indeed said the other phrases. But there was an important distinction: He had not uttered them consecutively, and [...]

October 25th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The Fight Over the World Trade Organization Has Begun

Will China be able to increasingly dominate the international system? Even repentant “panda huggers” and liberal internationalists have acknowledged that the World Trade Organization (WTO) is no longer up to the task of dealing effectively with the full range of challenges Beijing presents today’s global trading regime. There’s no point in debating whether Beijing should have been admitted to the WTO in the first place. It’s in. And the United States shouldn’t just pull out and leave the field there free to China. So, what now? China has used its economic power to bully, bribe, corrupt, and steal its way up the global economic supply chain, with only limited resistance from the WTO. It is past time to plug the loopholes that allow this. International organizations have become battlegrounds for today’s great power competition. The United States must act to protect its interests and foster equitable global norms—just as it did in the 1990s. After the Soviet Union collapsed, America was guiding international organizations to establish responsible rules for international relations. But that effort has been short cut by the rise of great power competition, in which we see nations like China trying to exploit organizations to their advantage. Beijing’s strategy of attempting to infiltrate and control key international organizations is well documented. There are two prominent and very different views on how to deal with this challenge. One is to just cut and run, decoupling from China and disengaging from international organizations. But a “take your ball and go home” approach makes no sense. It [...]

October 24th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Delisting Sudan From Terrorism List Will Drive Democratic And Economic Reforms

A democratic and economically robust Sudan is an incredible asset for Western democracies in Northern Africa. Ever since the first terrorist attack against the World Trade Center in 1993, the United States has designated Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism. However, since then, particularly over the past year and a half, Sudan has undergone significant democratic reforms, including a recent victory and step towards internal peace and stability in Juba, South Sudan. Even former Obama Administration officials agree with the move. Cameron Hudson remarked that “[Sudan] needs to have this label removed… Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism is a ‘vestige’ of its past.” And, the 9/11 Commission, an independent and bipartisan body, concluded that Sudan was not responsible, expropriating all of Osama bin Ladin’s assets when he left in 1996. In a historic move, President Donald Trump announced on Monday that the State Department would remove Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, in addition to unleashing new, sweeping economic and humanitarian assistance to continue their economic development plans. In response, Sudan is also formalizing plans to normalize their relations with Israel. The move comes at an especially important time. Although Sudan has undergone major democratic reforms and worked hard to expel terrorist links, the sanctions that had been in place since 1993 were crippling its economic and investment activities. According to Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, “there was no guarantee the transition to democracy would stay on course until elections scheduled for 2022.” Hamdok’s detractors have been attacking him at [...]

October 24th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Trump vs. Biden: USA TODAY Opinion contributors assess the final presidential debate

The USA TODAY Opinion section asked new members of our Board of Contributors to share their impressions of how President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden performed in Thursday night's presidential debate. Here are their answers: The setting and rules reflected Trump's failures: Christian Schneider Before the candidates walked out to take part in the debate, Biden had already won it. As with any debate, the actual words spoken by the candidates are ephemeral — but the visual for this debate will be permanent: Each candidate limited by a mute button because the incumbent president cannot control his emotions. And each candidate standing a half mile away from the other because of the president's failure to address a deadly viral disease that hit America nearly nine months ago. As for the actual debate, the candidates largely drew even on style, but that usually signals a win for the guy leading in the polls. Trump was in an impossible situation — go full-on aggressive, and you risk a replay of the first debate. Sit back and behave, and you miss the chance to provoke Biden into a campaign-altering gaffe. Trump finally acted like an adult, but in doing so, failed to change the race in any way. Christian Schneider is a senior reporter at The College Fix and author of “1916: The Blog.” Follow him on Twitter: @Schneider_CM If you brag about being 'least racist,' you might be the most: Erroll G. Southers Anytime someone tells you they are the least racist person in the room, they might be the most racist person in the room. Those [...]

October 24th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Trump or Biden: which does big business want to be the next US president?

This administration is full of plutocrats, CEOs and lobbyists. Yet the 1% see the modern Republican party as a threat   Joe Biden (left) and Donald Trump: the chamber of commerce has endorsed a cluster of Democrats in tight House races Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images  What has kept Donald Trump in the presidential race is his electoral base. It consists of white men, rural and small-town voters and small-business owners. The big bucks for the campaign come from a coterie of wealthy loyalists. This bloc will stick with Trump whatever he says or does. But the attitude of other groups that one might expect to be Trump’s natural supporters, such as big business, financial markets, a lobby like the chamber of commerce – “capital”, in other words – is far less clear cut. If anything, as Joe Biden’s lead has stabilised, so too has their optimism. With an eye to an impending shift of power, the Chamber of Commerce has endorsed a cluster of Democrats in tight House races, provoking outrage from the president. These unexpected alignments point to the scrambling of assumptions that is characteristic of the Trump era. The GOP is normally the party of business. The president himself is a businessman. His administration has been stacked with plutocrats, CEOs and lobbyists. It has delivered tax cuts and deregulation. The tax-collecting IRS is a shell of its former self; the Environmental Protection Agency has been gutted, and financial regulations slashed. Trump has packed the courts with judges who will deliver judgments against labour rights, [...]

October 22nd, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

China to make ‘necessary response’ after US approves $1.8bn arms sale to Taiwan

Female soldiers of an artillery unit take part in the live fire Han Kuang military exercise, which simulates China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) invading the island, in Pingtung, Taiwan, May 30, 2019. © Reuters / Tyrone Siu Beijing has warned that the US State Department's approval of a potential $1.8 billion arms sale to Taiwan would have "a major impact' on China-US relations, while Taipei says it's not seeking an arms race with the Chinese. China will issue a necessary response as the situation develops, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters on Thursday. Taiwanese Defense Minister Yen De-fa said earlier in the day that Taipei will not seek an arms race with China, and only needs a defensive combat capability. Yen thanked the US for the new weaponry that potentially includes sensors, missiles and artillery. The arms could help Taiwan deal with the "enemy threat and new situation," the minister said, but reiterated that it is not looking for confrontation with Beijing. We will not engage in an arms race with the Chinese communists. We will put forward requirements and build fully in accordance with the strategic concept of heavy deterrence, defending our position and defensive needs. The modernization of its armed forces, which centers on the development of asymmetrical warfare, remains a priority for Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. The 'asymmetrical' missile program focuses on the use of non-traditional weapons against a more powerful potential adversary in case of a cross-strait conflict. The Pentagon said on Wednesday that the US State Department has approved the [...]

October 22nd, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Mike Pence: Reelect President Donald Trump to renew America’s promise

Opposing View: For the last four years, I have stood with President Trump as he kept his promises to the American people. When Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president, he launched a movement to restore the promise of America. Since taking office, President Trump has delivered record-breaking results for all Americans. For decades, president after president, Republican and Democrat alike, failed to execute the agenda that they promised voters. For the last four years, I have stood with President Trump as he kept his promises to the American people, even when facing unprecedented attacks from the permanent Washington political class and their allies in the mainstream media. President Trump delivered historic tax cuts and tax reform, majorly rolled back burdensome federal regulations, unleashed America’s energy sector, and fought for free and fair trade. Throughout our first three years, businesses large and small created nearly 7 million jobs, including 500,000 manufacturing jobs. Unemployment rates for African Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans hit their lowest levels ever, and we achieved the lowest unemployment rate for women in 65 years. President Trump delivered America-First trade reform. He replaced NAFTA with the USMCA — the most significant and balanced trade agreement in history. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the Republican National Convention on Aug. 24, 2020, in Charlotte, North Carolina. CHRIS CARLSON/AP     President Trump oversaw the world’s greatest economy before the coronavirus struck our shores. Because of the strong foundation established through his economic policies before the global pandemic, America is on track to bounce back bigger [...]

October 21st, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Biden leads Trump by 9 points nationally: poll

    Democratic nominee Joe Biden leads President Trump by 9 points nationally, according to a new poll. The latest New York Times-Siena College survey finds Biden at 50 percent and Trump at 41. Biden led the same poll from September by 8 points. The Democratic nominee is benefitting from a massive gender gap. Biden leads by 23 points among women, while Trump leads by 6 points among men. The economy, which has long been a strength for Trump, is now a split issue, with 48 percent saying the president is the better leader and 47 percent saying Biden. Biden leads by 19 points on who would better unify the country, by 12 points on who would better manage the coronavirus, and by 6 points on law and order. Biden has a 28 point advantage among the youngest group of voters and a 10 point advantage among the oldest. He also leads by 8 points among voters aged 30 to 44 and by 3 points among voters aged 45 to 64. The president has a 6 point advantage among white people, while Biden leads by 44 points among nonwhites. The president holds a 23 point lead among white people without a college degree, which is less than his margin of 37 points over Hillary Clinton in 2016. The New York Times-Siena College poll of 987 likely voters was conducted between Oct. 15 and Oct. 18 and has a 3.4 percentage point margin of error.

October 20th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Trump calls Biden family a ‘criminal enterprise’ as crowd chants ‘lock him up’

At a Nevada rally, the president doubles down on his claim the Democratic nominee is a 'corrupt politician' President Trump told a raucous Nevada rally on Sunday that he believes Joe Biden's family is a "criminal enterprise" as the crowd chanted "lock him up." "They're corrupt people. But Joe Biden is from a failed and corrupt political class," Trump said as he referenced recent stories alleging emails show Hunter Biden traded on his father's name to earn millions overseas when Joe Biden was vice president. "Joe Biden is and always has been a corrupt politician," the president added. "He always has been. And as far as I'm concerned, the Biden family is a criminal enterprise. It really is." President Trump told a raucous Nevada rally on Sunday that he believes Joe Biden's family is a "criminal enterprise" as the crowd chanted "lock him up." "They're corrupt people. But Joe Biden is from a failed and corrupt political class," Trump said as he referenced recent stories alleging emails show Hunter Biden traded on his father's name to earn millions overseas when Joe Biden was vice president. "Joe Biden is and always has been a corrupt politician," the president added. "He always has been. And as far as I'm concerned, the Biden family is a criminal enterprise. It really is." The New York Post published several stories last week citing alleged emails discovered on a laptop at a Delaware repair shop, including one that stated Joe Biden had met with an official from a corrupt Ukrainian gas copany that paid Hunter Biden to be a board member. Twitter and Facebook have [...]

October 20th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

VIDEO: Trump Isn’t EFFING Around Anymore: Responds ‘Lock up the Bidens, Lock up Hillary,’ After Crowd Chants ‘Lock Them Up!’

    OPINION – President Trump knows what is on Hunter’s infamous hard drive and from the sounds of it, there are some major bombshells yet to come. His speech at his rally in Georgia likely has Joey B and his boy sweating bullets. If there is one thing that the many Democrats and Republicans agree on, it is that Trump has worked hard to keep his campaign promises. He got us out of the TPP, he renegotiated NAFTA, he has been pulling troops out of endless wars for corporate profit. However, there are some things, major things he is yet to deliver on, although not for lack of trying.  It appears that it took President Trump about 3 years to realize that he is a man on an island in Washington.  The swamp is murkier and deeper than he could have ever imagined.  Trump promised to ‘drain the swamp’ and tossed Sessions out on his ass after he failed to go after the DS, rather stepping aside to allow coup plotters to try and further undermine him. Trump then appointed Attorney General Barr, who appointed Durham and Bash, all of which have proven to be horrific failures thus far. Hillary Clinton is still above the law and there is little hope that anything will be done to seriously investigate her foundation or email scandals. The other big promise that we are waiting to be fulfilled is ‘the wall.’  While Trump can point to the fact that 321 miles of wall have been constructed during his Presidency, according to Wikipedia, that is no where near what was promised.  It has not been [...]

October 20th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Hungarian Trade Minister BLASTS Crooked Joe Biden After He Calls Poland and Hungary Totalitarian Regimes

Last week during his patty-cake town hall on ABC Joe Biden smeared US allies Poland and Hungary as totalitarian regimes like Belarus. This was an ignorant and disgusting attack on our NATO allies to score cheap political points. On Saturday Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade DESTROYED Joe Biden in his official response. Péter Szijjártó called on Joe Biden to explain his corrupt family business stealing from the Ukrainian people. Hunter Biden wheeling and dealing for big money from Ukraine. Via the Hungarian Government Website: We may still remember the kind of Central European policy the democrats pursued for 8 years; we may still recall the continuous lecturing, accusations and attacks,” FM Szijjártó began his video statement, reminding viewers that, during his term as Vice President, Joe Biden was “particularly busy” with foreign policy. “We, Hungarians, have experienced this firsthand,” Szijjártó said, referring to occasions when members of the U.S. diplomatic corps in Budapest openly took part in opposition protests and published “extraordinarily biased” statements with the aim of supporting left-liberal parties and attacking the Hungarian government. There was a period during his term as VP, the Hungarian FM continued, when, and I exaggerate a bit, Biden spent more of his time outside D.C. in Ukraine than in rural America. “This was the time when his son happened to be a chief executive at a key Ukrainian energy company; this was also the time when there were deals in the Ukrainian energy sector that were suspected of being corrupt,” FM Szijjártó said in the video [...]

October 20th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Comment: Total power, total responsibility – Jacinda holds both in her hands after 2020 election

Opinion - With total power comes total responsibility, and Jacinda Ardern holds both in her hands. Jacinda Ardern's first words on Saturday night were: "We will be a party that governs for every New Zealander". Photo: Getty Images Her government can do whatever it wants for the next three years. No need for deals with support parties because Labour has the numbers to pass legislation on its own. The prime minister has 64 Labour seats to command in the 120-member Parliament. With the Greens holding 10, the centre-left has an unprecedented 74 seats. While there is no one to get in the way of what the government decides to do, there isn't anyone to blame either. This is Ardern's show, and she will be held accountable for anything that goes wrong. The prime minister and her senior Cabinet ministers will be acutely aware of that. National was hammered in this election, but not as badly as it was in 2002 when it came away with just 27 seats compared with the 35 it holds now. Three years later, it very nearly won the next election. Voters have thanked Ardern for keeping the country safe from Covid-19. They won't do it again. The next three years will be about economic recovery and the way the government deals with it, a very different challenge and arguably a more difficult one. They have also punished National for its own mismanagement. The slide began with the coup against Simon Bridges and the Todd Muller debacle made it worse. Judith Collins [...]

October 18th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

NEWS Text messages show raw and intimate exchange between Joe and Hunter Biden

Hunter and Joe Biden   A raw series of text messages show Joe Biden offering fatherly comfort as his son, Hunter, lamented from a rehab facility about being a “f–ked up addict who can’t be trusted” and had damaged his dad’s political career. The intimate family exchange took place on February 24, 2019, two months before Joe launched his campaign for the White House. “Good morning my beautiful son. I miss you and love you. Dad,” the elder Biden wrote at 6:57 a.m. Hunter responded with a lengthy diatribe about his ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, and his father’s political advisers, and he also complained bitterly about a conversation with his sister-in-law-turned-lover, Hallie Biden. “For f–ks sake hallie for the first time [in] 17 days talks to me to say im an embarrassment. To MY family,” Hunter wrote. He then admitted, “Well dad, the truth is as you and hallie point out — I am a f–ked up addict that cant be…Trusted relied upon nor defended.” View Gallery “If you don’t run ill never have a chance at redemption,” he added. About three hours later, Joe sent Hunter an encouraging burst of short texts. “I’ll run but I need you. H is wrong. Only focus is recovery. Nothing else,” he wrote. Joe also praised Hunter for raising his three daughters, Naomi, Finnegan and Maisy. “Your girls are so smart truly amazing. Very focused. Naomi very upset with K,” he wrote. “When you can and feel like it call. Positive my text etc a target. Love.” The Bidens’ formerly [...]

October 17th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Exclusive poll: Biden up in Mich., Pa., tied with Trump in Fla.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leads President Trumpin Pennsylvania and Michigan, but the two candidates are tied in Florida with just more than two weeks to go before Election Day. A new Hill/Harris poll finds Biden opening up a double-digit lead in Michigan, which Trump won narrowly in 2016. The race is closer in Pennsylvania, where Biden has a 5-point advantage among likely voters. The perennial swing state of Florida, a must-win for Trump, is a pure toss-up heading into the home stretch. Trump is dragged down by his handling of the coronavirus, which is the top issue on the minds of voters in all three battleground states. The economy remains the president’s best issue, although a majority of voters in these states believe the economy is headed in the wrong direction. Trump’s backers are passionate — a strong majority are casting ballots in favor of him, while many Biden voters say they’re casting ballots against Trump. But Biden is running strong among some of the key demographic groups that powered the president’s 2016 campaign, including seniors, independents and suburban voters. Biden is also doing better than expected on issues that Trump has sought to make his own, such as policing, law and order and China. “Trump has pulled even in Florida and that indicates some momentum and the capability to win against long odds here,” said Hill/Harris pollster Mark Penn. “But his prior stronghold in the Midwest is where he is in trouble. In those states, he has lost some of his critical constituencies, especially seniors, and the chief [...]

October 17th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Nagorno-Karabakh: Not all politics are local

© Getty Images Is the eruption of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh the world’s first COVID war? The three co-chairs of the Minsk Process – France, Russia and the United States – that have been trying to resolve the conflict since 1992 are each distracted by rising infection numbers, not to mention the approaching American election. It has been an opportune moment for combatants on both sides to push to improve their strategic positions, before winter sets in in the Karabakh highlands and probably pauses the fighting. Given the failure of the recently Russian-brokered ceasefire, any pause will be temporary. The question is whether future fighting can be contained and a larger confrontation, drawing in outside forces, can be prevented. At stake is a territory, approximately the size of Delaware, populated by ethnic Armenians but recognized internationally as integral to Azerbaijan. The roots of the problem are deep. In antiquity the region belonged to the ancient Kingdom of Armenia but over the centuries changed hands between Tatars and Mongols, Russians and Persians, in the embattled fragmentation of the Caucasus. The Bolsheviks wanted to assign it to Armenia, but in 1921 Stalin, in all his wisdom, peremptorily gifted it to Azerbaijan as the “Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast.” As the Soviet Union collapsed 70 years later, ethnic conflicts between Azeris and Armenians erupted. The Armenians tried to secede from Azerbaijan as the “Artsakh Republic,” which currently controls the region. Prospects for a diplomatic resolution are in the hands of the OSCE Minsk Group, aspiring to implement the “Madrid Principles,” including a withdrawal [...]

October 17th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

China, Russia, terrorism are UK’s biggest long-term threats, says new MI5 boss

London: The new head of MI5 says China poses the greatest long-term threat to Britain because while Russia is responsible for "bad bursts of weather," it is China that is "changing the climate." In a speech at the Home Office in London, Ken McCallum called for a "broad conversation" across government and crucially beyond, to reach wise judgements around how the UK interacts with China on both opportunities and risks." Police at the scene in Londonderry, Northern Ireland in 2019, following the death of 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee who was shot and killed in a flare up of partisan violence.CREDIT:AP "Sometimes our role is to spot the hidden state hand in the pursuit of promising UK companies whose acquisition might dent our future prosperity and security," he said. His comments follow Britain's torturous debate over whether or not to involve China's Huawei in the rollout of the country's 5G networks. Prime Ministers Theresa May and Boris Johnson wanted to include the Chinese firm but were eventually forced to introduce a plan to phase out Huawei equipment after a rebellion by Conservative MPs and intense lobbying by the Trump Administration as well as privately from Australia. McCallum welcomed plans by the British government to tighten its foreign investment and foreign agent rules - changes which Australia has already implemented to counter Chinese interference. The UK has been the site of a major battle over Huawei's participation in the country's 5G network. CREDIT:AP   "Current legislation leaves gaps; some of the most damaging activity we have to confront [...]

October 15th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The king and I: the student risking jail by challenging Thailand’s monarchy

Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul believes she has a duty to speak out about her country’s politics   Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul at a rally in Bangkok. Photograph: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters When Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul decided to risk going to jail by calling for reforms to Thailand’s powerful monarchy, she had no idea how people would respond. In the hours before, she felt like she might faint. After turning to her friends for reassurance, she walked on to the stage of a major protest rally in Bangkok and calmly delivered a speech that would shake the country. In front of thousands of students, she called for the power and wealth of Thailand’s king to be curbed – challenging an institution protected by a strict lèse-majesté law and long considered untouchable. Its budget should be reduced, the king’s private funds should be separated from the crown assets and the king should not endorse any further coups, she said, reading from a 10-point list. Criticism of the monarchy should not be forbidden, she added. “If the people [disagreed], it was over,” said the 21-year-old student, looking back on that day in August. Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul speaking during a Bangkok protest in August. Photograph: Sakchai Lalit/AP In September, tens of thousands of people gathered for another, student-led demonstration, at which Panusaya not only reiterated demands for curbs to the monarchy’s power, but dramatically hand delivered them to the king’s privy council. Another protest is planned for Wednesday, when students intend to assemble at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument and march to Government House. Ultra-royalist groups have announced plans to [...]

October 14th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Report card: Jacinda Ardern’s government graded on the past three years

As the election approaches, 12 experts and commentators in New Zealand give their view on where Labour has succeeded and failed New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern has had to manage a broad coalition during her three years in power. Photograph: Mark Baker/AP   When Jacinda Ardern took over leadership of New Zealand’s Labour party less than two months before the 2017 election she had the country’s social woes firmly in her sights, blaming nine years of a National party-led government for child poverty rates and housing unaffordability. Ardern promised a government of transformation, pledging to do better on the climate crisis, tackle mental health and suicide rates, and build tens of thousands of new homes.Her ability to respond in a crisis – such as the Christchurch terrorist attack in March 2019, the deadly volcanic eruption at Whakaari, and Covid-19 – is well-documented and has drawn global praise. But domestically, she has had a political coalition as well as a pandemic to manage: Labour has been in power along with the Greens and New Zealand First. She promised a strong and empathetic government and a “fairer, better New Zealand”. How has her government performed on its promises of sweeping change? The Guardian asked two experts or political commentators in each field for their assessments. The environment Kera Sherwood-O’Regan (Kāi Tahu), a climate justice advocate, and co-founder of social impact agency Activate Grade: C+ Her introduction was strong with Ardern proclaiming climate change her generation’s “nuclear-free moment”, but unfortunately, getting climate change on the agenda is not the same [...]

October 12th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Irregular warfare with China, Russia: Ready or not, it’s coming — if not already here

© Getty Images   Last week, amid the hubbub of the presidential debate, revelations about President Trump’s taxes, the “SCOTUS War” and the COVID-plagued White House, something important happened that almost everybody missed. The Defense Department released the unclassified summary of the Irregular Warfare Annex to the 2018 National Defense Strategy. The strategy tells our armed forces how to prepare for and win the next war, which almost certainly will be an “irregular war” fight. The military uses terms such as “irregular,” “unconventional,” “asymmetrical,” “hybrid” and “gray zone” to describe any style of combat not resembling the Battle of the Bulge (aka, “regular” war). What makes warfare “regular”? No one knows. However, we do know what it looks like: state-on-state armed conflict, in which militaries are like gladiators battling for the fate of the world. Combatants are expected to wear uniforms, have patriot zeal, and honor peace treaties. It’s what famed military theorist Carl von Clausewitz envisioned, and what the “Laws of War” seek to regulate. There’s just one problem: No one fights this way anymore, except us. No wonder Afghanistan is the longest war in American history. Since 1945, the overwhelming majority of armed conflicts have been irregular: insurgencies that seek to topple governments, narco-wars that seize countries — “narco-states” — as booty, genocides fought between ethnic groups, and terrorists who wish to burn down the world. Ironically, there’s nothing more irregular today than “regular war.” Of the hundreds of armed conflicts since World War II, you could probably count the number of regular wars [...]

October 12th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Is China shifting the world order?

© Getty Images While the United States spends 2020 drawing and quartering itself, China continues to solidify internally then view outward. It has thrown its weight around the South China Sea and poured plenty of capital into the Belt and Road Initiative, a multinational infrastructure project valued at seven times the Marshall Plan after the Second World War. It has subtly tried to remove the liberal democratic “bias” from international rules. What is China up to with all this global assertiveness? Some experts say that it is simply flexing its new muscles, as the United States did in the early 20th century when it bullied countries in Central America and the Caribbean Sea. But others worry that China is in the early stages of the sustainable strategy to use its rising wealth and technology to supplant the United States and to dominate on the world stage. In fact, Xi Jinping and the ruling party are doing what the United States and other great powers have often done by shaping their international environment to favor the survival of their own domestic regime. United States administrations tended to use authority to bias the international system toward democracy. The ruling party of China is trying to build a bias for autocracy into the same international system. A clue to this ultimate goal comes from the ruthless suppression of all potential dissent in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, even at the cost of broad international condemnation. The leaders of China perceive the hostile environment of meddling democracies and many liberal international [...]

October 12th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Biden leads Trump by 6 points in Michigan and Nevada, race tied in Iowa: poll

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden holds a steady lead over President Trump in the key battlegrounds of Michigan and Nevada, while the race remains a dead head in Iowa, according to a new poll. A CBS News-YouGov tracking poll taken between Oct. 6 and Oct. 9 found Trump trailing Biden by 6 points among registered voters in Michigan and Nevada, 52 percent to 46 percent in both states. In Iowa, both candidates registered support from 49 percent of registered voters. The polls paint a bleak picture for the president, whose 2016 victory was largely made possible by a narrow win in Michigan, while former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) won Nevada by less than 3 points. Trump won Iowa comfortably in 2016. Democrats also hold the edge in two Senate races measured by the CBS-YouGov poll. In Michigan, Sen. Gary Peters (D) leads Republican challenger John James 47 percent to 44, while in Iowa, Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield leads incumbent Sen. Joni Ernst (R) 47 percent to 43 percent. Biden is buoyed in Nevada by a 2-to-1 advantage over the president among Hispanic voters, according to the poll, and he holds a 9-point lead among independent voters in Michigan. The CBS-YouGov poll surveyed 1,048 registered voters in Iowa, with a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points; in Michigan, 1,215 were polled, with a 3.2 percentage point margin of error; and in Nevada, 1,052 answered, with a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points.    

October 12th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Azerbaijan’s assault against Armenia threatens Democracy everywhere

© Getty Images On September 27, Azerbaijan began a coordinated full-scale aerial and missile attack on Artsakh, Armenia. Turkey has played an especially active role by not only supporting, but also driving much of Azerbaijan’s aggression. It has provided its proxy with foreign mercenaries and the full extent of its military arsenal, including its F-16s . In fact, shortly after the assault on Artsakh began, Turkish President Recep Erdogan announced his full support for Azerbaijan and called for the overthrow of the Armenian government. These tactics are not new: Erdogan has employed them countless times, from its intervention in Libya to its dispute with Greece in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, some actors in the international community have dismissed Azerbaijan's role as the aggressor, calling both sides to “prepare populations for peace.” But if Armenia was never in search for war in first place, what more do they have to prepare for? In contrast, Azerbaijan has been preparing its population for war over the past two decades — institutionalizing anti-Armenian sentiment, stockpiling military assets purchased from Turkey and Israel, and steadily sidelining efforts for a negotiated solution to the conflict. In fact, Azerbaijan recently disavowed the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group peace process when President Ilham Aliyev called the Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) mediation efforts “pointless” and threatening to resolve the issue militarily. What’s happening now shouldn’t come as a surprise to the international community — Azerbaijan telegraphed it all along. Azerbaijan and Turkey have been working strategically to influence international public opinion, especially [...]

October 11th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Eric Trump says his dad ‘literally’ saved Christianity

Eric Trump claimed that his father, Donald Trump, "literally saved Christianity" during a radio show interview in North Dakota last week. He made the comment while giving a list of the achievements he attributes to his father. "He literally saved Christianity, there's a war on faith in this country by the other side. I mean, the Democratic Party, the far left, has become the party of the quote-unquote atheist, they want to attack Christianity, they want to close churches, they want to - they're totally fine keeping liquor stores open, but they want to close churches all over the country," he said, before continuing his list of accomplishments. Even with Eric Trump's clarification, it was not immediately clear what he meant when he said his father "literally saved Christianity." While it was clear that Eric Trump's gripe seemed rooted in coronavirus-related church closures, the decision to re-open places of worship was largely in the hands of state and local officials, not the president. Eric Trump's reference to liquor stores is likely based on the conservative complaint that churches were forced to remain closed while businesses like grocery stores and liquor stores were allowed to re-open. Religious gatherings - particularly those that occur indoors - often last for an hour or more and often emphasise community, whereas purchases made at a liquor store often involve person-to-person interaction that lasts less than a minute. New research also suggests that the overwhelming number of coronavirus infections are driven by "super spreader" events in which a disproportionate number of infected [...]

October 9th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Kamala Harris vs. Mike Pence: USA TODAY opinion contributors assess the VP debate Both the vice president and Democratic nominee Kamala Harris suffered from a tendency to retreat into talking points rather than answer questions.

Both the vice president and Democratic nominee Kamala Harris suffered from a tendency to retreat into talking points rather than answer questions. USA TODAY asked a diverse group of contributors to its Opinion section their impressions of how Democrat Kamala Harris and Republican Mike Pence performed in Wednesday night's vice presidential debate. Here are their answers: Pence couldn't defend an indefensible record: Ellis Cose Vice President Mike Pence’s relatively calm demeanor reminded us that the White House executive suite is not peopled solely by raving maniacs of the sort Donald Trump became during the first presidential debate. But, unfortunately for Pence, that was not his only task. He had to defend Trump’s record and his own. And valiantly as he tried to make sense out of (or rhetorically revise) the nonsensical and the negligent, he was no more successful at that than the president himself. Both the vice president and Democratic nominee Kamala Harris suffered from a tendency to retreat into talking points rather than answer questions, although Pence was much clumsier at it. With all the polls going against the president, Pence had the biggest challenge, and he simply didn’t have a good story to tell. It’s difficult to spin an out-of-control pandemic, a collapsed economy, a decline in international standing and an apparent indifference to suffering. Pence did his best to change the subject, but his soothing words could not change the dispiriting record he was tasked to defend. Ellis Cose, a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors, is author of “The Short Life and Curious Death of Free [...]

October 8th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Election 2020 poll: Labour, Act steady, National, Greens dip

Jacinda Ardern has dropped in the preferred PM stakes while Judith Collins is steady   Labour's support has stuck on 47 per cent in the latest 1 News Colmar Brunton poll, while National has slipped one point to 32 per cent. Act is also still on 8 per cent while the Greens have dropped to 6 - close to the 5 per cent threshold. NZ First has nudged up to 2 per cent, but still well short of the 5 per cent threshold despite leader Winston Peters' predictions of a "surge". On these numbers Labour would be one seat shy of being able to govern alone. Labour leader Jacinda Ardern's popularity has taken a 4 per cent hit which sees her on a rating of 50 per cent in the preferred Prime Minister stakes compared with Judith Collins steady on 23 per cent. Ardern said she was keeping an eye on the polling "but I'm pretty happy with those numbers". Collins said she believed it was still anybody's race. Green Party co-leader James Shaw said the numbers showed there was a risk of one party being able to form a Government alone. Thirteen per cent of voters polled were still either undecided or would not say how they would vote. On that poll result National would have 41 seats in Parliament - down from 54 now. Labour would have 60. The poll sampled 1007 voters between October 3-7 and has a margin of error of 3.1%. The percentage numbers have changed little since the last poll [...]

October 8th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

ASPI Is Not A Politically Neutral Research Body

  The Australian Institute for Strategic Policy (ASPI) released a report on March 1 this year titled "Uyghurs for Sale" containing the topic of re-education, forced labour and surveillance beyond Xinjiang. The authors of this lengthy report attempted to demonstrate an untenable conclusion by garbling and fact distorting, which is accused by the Chinese officials and the public for charging the Chinese government with the fake evidence. It is obvious that ASPI and the authors aimed to demean China and to stigmatize the Chinese government's policies on Xinjiang. As the impact of the ASPI report, many members of the US Congress have jointly proposed the "Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act", and then US President Trump has signed the "Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020" into law. On July 10, 2020, the U.S. Customs seized a batch of products exported from Xinjiang to the U.S. on the grounds of “forced labor”. The action drew forth China's fierce opposition. ASPI used to be a less eye-catching research body over the years. Formed in 2001, it claims to be an independent, non-partisan research think tank. Its purpose is to provide the Australian government with fresh ideas on Australia’s defense, security and strategic policy choices. ASPI is responsible for informing the public on a range of strategic issues, generating new thinking for the government and harnessing strategic thinking internationally. According to its annual report, among the yearly funding of more than 9 million Australian dollars, 4 million dollars is provided by the Australian Department of Defense, and the rest [...]

October 7th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Negative views of China soar in western countries, poll finds

Survey in US, UK, Australia and 11 other nations shows unfavourable opinions about Beijing regime are highest ever, Pew says Donald Trump has accused Xi Jinping and China of failing to contain the coronavirus, leading to rising ant-China sentiment in the west. Photograph: Damir Šagolj/Reuters   Unfavourable views toward China have soared in the past year in the United States and many other advanced economies, according to a survey of 14 countries conducted by the US-based Pew Research Center. The survey, conducted between June and August this year and released on Tuesday, found that a majority in each of the countries polled had an unfavourable opinion of China. In all, 14,276 adults The report said perceptions of Beijing’s handling of the pandemic had coloured people’s overall views of China, with those who thought it had done a bad job much more likely to have an unfavorable view of the country. The same applied to people’s confidence in Chinese president, Xi Jinping, with a median of 78% across the 14 countries saying they had “not too much or no confidence in Xi to do the right thing regarding world affairs”. Even among those who rated China’s coronavirus outbreak response positively, no more than four in 10 said they trusted Xi, Pew said. Despite concerns about Xi’s rise, the survey found that in most countries more had faith in him than in Trump. In Germany, 78% said they had no confidence in Xi – but 89% said the same of Trump. When it came to perceptions of economic [...]

October 7th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

James Carafano: Trump hospitalized for coronavirus – what’s the impact on US foreign policy?

In times of crisis, America's adversaries looks for ways to weaken or threaten the US The president has been hospitalized. As always, America’s adversaries will examine this unusual development, looking for ways to use it to their advantage – either to weaken or threaten the United States. Fortunately, they won’t find much to work with. For starters, they’ve watched America weather COVID for over six months. They’ve seen that it’s had near zero impact on U.S. foreign policy. American soldiers and Marines remain deployed around the world. Our ships are on station. Our planes are flying. American diplomacy is as robust as ever. In fact, this week while the president recuperated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Defense Secretary Mark Esper was wrapping up a four-country tour of Northern Africa and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, newly returned from South America, went back on the road to Japan. Further, any adversary worthy of the name who has studied the U.S. knows that America has robust means to ensure continuity of operations in the federal government and an ironclad legal system to ensure presidential authority is unaffected by illness, calamity or malicious activity. In particular, post-9/11, much was done to update and strengthen the U.S. protocols that ensure continuity of government. We have come a long way from the days when Vice President Dick Cheney had to be tucked away at an undisclosed location. From the White House bunker to Air Force One, the government’s ability to communicate – both domestically and with friends and allies across the globe –  is far more resilient, secure [...]

October 6th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Biden leads by 10 points as majority of Americans say Trump could have avoided coronavirus

       Joe Biden has maintained an early advantage in securing the national popular vote.PHOTO: AFP       NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Democrat Joe Biden opened his widest lead in a month in the United States presidential race after President Donald Trump tested positive for the coronavirus, and a majority of Americans think Trump could have avoided infection if he had taken the virus more seriously, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Sunday (Oct 4). The Oct 2-3 national opinion poll gave little indication of an outpouring of support for the President beyond Mr Trump's core group of followers, some of whom have gathered outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre, where he has been hospitalised. Mr Trump has repeatedly dismissed the severity of the pandemic, painting it as something that would disappear on its own, and chiding Biden as recently as last week for wearing a protective mask, even as the coronavirus has killed more than 200,000 people in the United States, infected millions of people and forced businesses and schools to close. Among those adults who are expected to cast ballots in the Nov 3 election, the poll found that 51 per cent were backing Mr Biden, while 41 per cent said they were voting for Mr Trump. Another 4 per cent were choosing a third-party candidate and another 4 per cent said they were undecided. Mr Biden's 10-point edge over Mr Trump is one to two points higher than leads Mr Biden posted over the past several weeks, though the increase is still within the poll's precision limits [...]

October 5th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

China is winning the war for global tech dominance

           © iStock illustration When the United Kingdom announced in July that it no longer would allow the Chinese technology firm Huawei to be part of its 5G telecommunications network, it was considered to be a success for the Trump administration’s lobbying of its closest ally. Other countries such as Australia and Japan also have effectively banned the company, echoing Washington’s fears of a potential national security threat. Unfortunately for those hawkish on Huawei, the vast majority of the world remains open to using the company’s technology. Huawei has a presence in more than 170 countries, including dozens in Europe, and even Canada has yet to be persuaded to block the Chinese Communist Party-linked company. This is a reflection of the reality that America finds itself in today — namely, that China appears to be winning the war to build the world’s technology infrastructure. China’s push to dominate technology is being coordinated through a program called the Digital Silk Road (DSR), a subset of the more widely known Belt and Road Initiative. Launched in 2015, the DSR is a private-sector agenda heavily supported by the state with the aim of extending China’s digital presence abroad, and thereby enhancing its commercial and political influence. The DSR is answering the demand for connectivity from Asia to Africa to Latin America. Chinese companies have built out much of the world’s digital foundations, including fiber-optic cables and telecommunication network schemes. Data centers have been constructed, and projects set up in smart education and online surveillance. The [...]

October 5th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

On President Donald Trump and COVID-19, just tell the truth to the American people

Our View: Dr. Sean Conley says he'd 'rather not' disclose specifics. Dr. Conley, the nation would rather know more than less. This editorial, originally published Oct. 3, has been updated. When it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration has hardly been transparent or truthful. On numerous occasions, top officials, and President Donald Trump himself, have withheld, underestimated, downplayed and outright lied. But when actual scientists and medical professionals have been allowed to speak, they have generally been as accurate as possible. That ended Saturday when the president's physician, Dr. Sean Conley, refused to provide meaningful disclosure on the president's condition during a late morning briefing with reporters. Conley delivered the reassuring and welcome news that the "president is doing very well" and doctors are "extremely happy" with his progress. But the doctor undercut his credibility by saying he'd "rather not" give information on such questions as Trump's fever before admission and where and when the president contracted the virus. Conley was evasive when pressed about the use of supplemental oxygen. The next 48 hours Actually, Dr. Conley, the American people would rather that you do provide information. In fact, they insist on it. The health of the president is of urgent national and international security concern. All you have to do is tell the truth, without spin or evasion. The opaqueness of the response was even more troubling when, minutes after Conley concluded his briefing, an administration official (later identified as White House chief of staff Mark Meadows) told pool reporters at the hospital that the president was actually in worse health than [...]

October 5th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Jobs, health and climate: what Australians want the budget to pay for

With the economy in a Covid crisis, we ask people across states, sectors and stages of life where their priorities now lie Kuda Mangoma: ‘I’ve had a hit of depression, and so mental health is one of my biggest concerns.’ Photograph: Alana Holmberg/The Guardian  Australians are hoping to see extended financial support for workers in industries crippled by Covid-19 restrictions, as well as policies to make renewable energy cheaper and more accessible. While the government has indicated job creation will be at the centre of Tuesday’s federal budget, Guardian Australia spoke to Australians across several states, sectors and stages of life about where they want the government to spend money. Kuda Mangoma, 28, artist, inner Melbourne, Victoria After leaving his office job in September last year, Kuda had begun working at a cafe part-time so he could focus on a career as an artist. Kuda had been planning to move to Zimbabwe in late March with his wife. He had family there, and the pair wanted to open an art gallery and cafe. However, Covid-19 border closures saw their flight postponed indefinitely only days after his wife had finished working her notice period at her job. Shortly after, gathering restrictions saw the cafe Kuda was working at forced to shut. Unable to find other employment, Kuda has been relying on jobseeker payments since the beginning of the pandemic, with demand for his work as a freelance artist shrinking. “The higher rate of jobseeker has been very liveable,” he says. “For the first time in consecutive months [...]

October 4th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Pope denies audience with Pompeo; Vatican warns against playing politics over China

ROME (Reuters) - The Vatican said on Wednesday it had denied a request from Mike Pompeo for an audience with Pope Francis, and accused the Secretary of State of trying to drag the Catholic Church into the U.S. presidential election by denouncing its relations with China. The extraordinary remarks from the two top diplomatic officials at the Vatican came after Pompeo accused the Church in an article and a series of tweets this month of putting its “moral authority” at risk by renewing an agreement with China over the appointment of bishops. Pompeo, who was in Rome on Wednesday and due to meet Vatican officials on Thursday, repeated his denunciations of China’s record on religious freedom at an event hosted by the U.S. embassy to the Holy See. The Vatican’s two top diplomats, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Foreign Minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher, said Francis had declined a request from Pompeo for an audience, as the pope avoids meeting politicians ahead of elections. “Yes, he asked. But the pope had already said clearly that political figures are not received in election periods. That is the reason,” Parolin said. The Vatican’s two-year-old agreement with Beijing gives the pope some say over the appointment of Chinese bishops. It was due to expire next month, but is expected to be renewed. Officials in the Holy See say the agreement is not perfect but call it a step forward, after decades during which Chinese Catholics who recognise the pope were driven underground. Parolin and Gallagher both described Pompeo’s [...]

October 4th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

EXCLUSIVE: Clinton Investigators Moynihan & Doyle Drop a NEW Bomb on the Clinton Foundation & THE FEDS — And All Holy Hell Breaks Out Inside DOJ & IRS

Famed Clinton Foundation investigators John Moynihan and Larry Doyle have the Justice Department and IRS — as well as the Clinton Cartel — running for cover. The investigative duo just quietly dropped a massive bomb on all parties, as detailed exclusively on the Thomas Paine Podcast. And now the FEDs are scurrying to help cover up yet another massive national scandal. And covering for the Clinton’s. Again. Buy why? Paine has the dirt. Truly incredible NEW Intel. Listen Above Listen to the insightful Thomas Paine Podcast Below --

October 3rd, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Chris Wallace Just Gave The Most Embarrassing Moderator Performance In History

'Well, first of all, I guess I’m debating you, not him,' Trump said to Chris Wallace during Tuesday's 2020 presidential debate. Fact check: True. Debating one person is difficult, especially if he’s had oodles of alone time in his basement to prepare while you’ve been a little busy leading the country. Debating that person and a partisan media hack at the same time is just BS. That, however, was President Donald Trump’s exact plight Tuesday night at the first 2020 presidential debate, when he was treated to a two-on-one showdown with his actual opponent Joe Biden and his honorary rival, Fox News moderator Chris Wallace. Wallace, a registered Democrat, failed to maintain any control over the debate. Even members of the left pointed out what a chaotic “disgrace” the whole ordeal was. But after a while, it was hard to pay attention to anything but Wallace’s Biden bias. Media moderators playing favorites with presidential contenders is nothing new, but Wallace’s persistent partisanship reached a new low. From interrupting Trump but not Biden at nearly every turn, blocking the incumbent before he could correct mischaracterizations and flat-out lies from Biden, to full-throated arguments with the president despite lobbing soft-ball questions — or no questions at all — to the former vice president, Wallace’s presentation was appalling. Wallace Did the Left’s Bidding Who needs the leftist media swarming to fact-check Trump’s claims from this debate when you have Wallace to recycle long-debunked claims? “Vice President Biden, you say that President Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville three [...]

October 1st, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

From interruptions to insults: 5 takeaways from first Trump-Biden US presidential debate

The debate at times descended into name-calling and insult-hurling.PHOTO: AFP   WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden faced off on Tuesday (Sept 29) in the first presidential debate, just over a month from Election Day on Nov 3. There will be two more debates between Mr Trump and Mr Biden and one between the vice-presidential nominees Mike Pence and Kamala Harris. Here are five takeaways from the debate in Cleveland, Ohio. 1. EXTREME MESSINESS OF THE DEBATE Tuesday night was less a debate and more a spectacle. Mr Trump, 74, did the lion's share of interruptions, frequently talking over Mr Biden, 77, and heckling him with short, sharp comments and questions. Mr Biden, who often could barely get a word in, was occasionally thrown off balance. "Will you shut up, man?" he said at one point, adding: "This is so unpresidential...keep yapping, man." This would have played differently to different audiences. Mr Trump's supporters are likely to see him as strong and Mr Biden as a weak opponent who needed the moderator to stand up for him, while the President's detractors will call him a bully. It remains to be seen whether Mr Trump's combative approach will endear him to undecided voters and white suburban women, whom he needs to win over to close in on Mr Biden's lead. Mr Biden's strategy of addressing the camera at times, directly asking the audience whether their life experience contradicted the miraculous pandemic recovery extolled by Mr Trump, was very much in line [...]

September 30th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Big tech firms may be handing Hong Kong user data to China

Allegation follows new law that lets Hong Kong ask for sensitive data if deemed to threaten national security Hong Kong data. Composite: Leah Millis/Reuters  Big technology companies may already be complying with secret Chinese requests for user information held in Hong Kong and ought to “come clean” about the vulnerability of the data they hold there, a senior US state department official has said. The allegation of possible secret cooperation between major companies and Hong Kong authorities follows the implementation of a sweeping and controversial new national security law that allows Hong Kong authorities to demand sensitive user data from companies if it is deemed to threaten national security. While some tech and social media companies, like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, said in the immediate aftermath of the law being implemented in June that they would put a “pause” on complying with any Hong Kong data requests, interviews with activists, legal experts, and a current and former US government official have raised doubts about their ability to fend off such legal demands and their right to disclose if they have received them. The state department official said: “There is a possibility that things are happening but because of the restrictions put on by the Hong Kong authorities, they [companies] would not be able to divulge this.” The official added that if the request was “detoured” into the mainland legal system it would fall into a “black hole”. “The company would be told by mainland authorities ‘you will be breaking the [law] if you reveal the fact [...]

September 30th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Jacinda Ardern tipped to win Nobel Peace Prize despite competition from Thunberg, Trump

A political betting analyst has tipped New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to win the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, despite facing stiff competition. Photo / File   A political betting analyst has tipped New Zealand Prime Minister to win the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, despite facing stiff competition. According to Joe Short from gambling.com, Jacinda Ardern's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and her inspirational leadership sees her a strong contender to take it out. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is the current favourite according to Irish bookmakers Paddy Power, coming in at odds of 2/1. But Short believes Ardern, who is the third favourite according to Paddy Power at 5/1 odds, will be named winner of the prestigious award. “Its failings [WHO] over the past nine months have also been exposed. And there are calls for the WHO to be dramatically improved if the planet is to fight off another such virus in the future.“ "And that is why PM Ardern is probably the smartest choice for the Prize right now. At 5/1 the Labour Party leader has barely seen her price budge since the nominees were announced earlier this year. "Her Government has been credited with implementing an efficient crusade against the virus, using strong health messaging, widespread testing and effective lockdowns to combat the disease. "New Zealand had recorded just 25 deaths from Covid-19, with fewer than 1,900 cases identified across a country of 4.8m people. Donald Trump is the fifth favourite (12/1 odds), while the Black Lives Matter movement is the seventh favourite [...]

September 29th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

How the American “National Treasure” Was Removed from His Family Clan

Miles Maochun Yu, 58, was born in Chongqing, China. In 1979, with the honor of the top scorer in the college entrance examination in Chongqing Yongchuan Middle School, he succeeded to enroll in Nankai University and took major in History. In the Wenqu Square of Yongchuan County, where his alma mater is located, there is a stela on which the names of the top scorers in the college entrance examination in the region are inscribed. Recently, Yu's name has been eradicated from the stela. People of Shouxian County, Anhui Province, the hometown where he was born, are calling him a shame of the family clan. They recently decided to remove Yu from his family tree that is a book recording names of the family clan. Miles Yu is currently the principal China policy and planning adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and as the key man of a "Chinese Team", partnered with Assistant Secretary of State David Stilwell for East Asia and Pacific Affairs. Yu is considered to be one of the few people who can decode Chinese political terminology, understanding much more China’s soft underbelly than those American "China experts". He helps promote the great change of U.S. China policy not only from the academic perspective but also from policy practice. In the deteriorating U.S.-China relations in recent years, Miles Yu is regarded as part of the powerful behind-the-scenes force within the U.S. government reshaping U.S. policies toward China, which has been redefined as America's most significant strategic adversary. According to China’s political ethics, [...]

September 29th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Election 2020: New poll shows Labour could govern alone

A new Newshub-Reid Research poll has landed, with Labour polling 50.1 per cent and National 29.6 per cent. Photos / Mark Mitchell The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll shows Labour could govern alone three weeks out from the election. Labour polled 50.1 per cent, while National is on 29.6 per cent, according to the new figures. Labour is down 10.8 points from the previous Newshub-Reid Research poll - taken at the height of the Covid-19 recovery. Act was on 6.3 per cent, the Greens on 6.5 per cent and New Zealand First languished on 1.9 per cent. The latest poll may indicate that National has been hurt by its $4 billion fiscal error in its alternative budget. Judith Collins said her internal party polling showed something different to the Newshub-Reid Research poll. Collins told Newshub she was "getting a very good vibe on the ground" and said she wouldn't resign if she lost the election. "Certainly not," she said. She said her party would understand they'd "been through some difficulties". PM Jacinda Ardern told Newshub there hadn't been an MMP election in which a party was able to govern alone but it was premature to assume that would happen. David Seymour's Act party surged by 3 percentage points to 6.5 per cent, meaning it would no longer need the safety net of Seymour winning the Epsom electorate Seymour said the poll result energised their campaign. NZ First leader Winston Peters told Newshub he still thought he was going to get back into Parliament. "I don't have any [...]

September 27th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Sam Clench: Real reason Trump’s refusal to guarantee a peaceful transfer of power is dangerous

President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at Harrisburg International Airport. Photo / Getty Images COMMENT: No, Donald Trump will not be able to stay in office if he loses to Joe Biden in the upcoming US Presidential election. It is extraordinary that such a sentence even needs to be written, but after the collective freakout in response to Trump's remarks this week, we should be clear about this. The US President does not control the election result. He does not get to decide whether or not he leaves the White House. It is, quite simply, not up to him. If Biden wins, he will be inaugurated next January, and Trump will go back to being a private citizen, albeit one with very loud opinions and millions of fans eager to hear them. Still, the President's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power was as dangerous as it sounded, for reasons we'll get to in a bit. "Win, lose or draw, will you commit here today for a peaceful transferral of power after the election?" a reporter asked Trump at Wednesday's White House media briefing. There is only one acceptable answer to this question in a democracy, and Trump did not give it. "Well, we're going to have to see what happens," he responded. "You know that I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots. And the ballots are a disaster." "But people are rioting. Do you commit to making sure there is a peaceful transition of power?" the reporter pressed. "Get rid of [...]

September 27th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Joe Biden should enact critical government reforms if he wins

© Getty Images If Joe Biden wins the election, one of his first orders of business has to be to enact his proposed package of ethics reforms to ensure that no future president can replicate the abuse of power by the current administration. We must return independence to the Justice Department, tackle conflicts of interest, restore ethics in government, hold lobbyists and policymakers accountable, and reduce the influence of money in politics. A recent article by Jonathan Chait makes the case to prosecute Donald Trump after he leaves office. But Chait frames this as a choice between “the rule of law and mutual toleration.” Do we hold leaders accountable? Or do we ensure a peaceful transition of power? Chait ultimately selects the rule of law, which in this case is prosecution. While I would support a prosecution, I think the framing of this situation is not complete. The rule of law and mutual toleration do not have to be in tension if we run strong ethics reforms, including the independence of prosecutors. Chait defines the principle of mutual toleration as leaders accepting the legitimacy of their opponents. In times of clear criminal activity, however, the impact of accepting legitimacy is an erosion of the rule of law. Chait cites the pardon of Richard Nixon, which is hailed as an act of unification by Gerald Ford, but has also played a critical role in accepting legitimacy in certain actions by Trump. Chait offers instances from other countries, where acceptance of impunity by their leaders also preceded the [...]

September 27th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

There is now more evidence than ever that China is imprisoning Uighurs

Our findings from satellite images reveal 380 detention camps in Xinjiang, pointing to a campaign of ethnic replacement • Nathan Ruser is a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute   ‘All the trainees … have returned to society,’ said Xinjiang’s governor last year. An education centre near Kashgar, Xinjiang. Photograph: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images     Since 2017, Xinjiang in China has been reeling from a brutal crackdown outlawing both public and private displays of Uighur culture or identity, not to mention political dissent. A cornerstone of this repression, and the foundation upon which all other coercive measures are built, is an intense and unparalleled carceral regime: a network of hundreds of political indoctrination camps, detention centres and prisons. This has forced the region’s inhabitants not only into obedience but also into a chilling silence. By most estimates, about 10% of Uighurs and other Muslim nationalities in Xinjiang have found themselves arbitrarily detained in these camps. While researching human rights in Xinjiang at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a non-partisan thinktank based in Canberra, I’ve spent two years scouring satellite imagery and working with journalists, researchers and survivors to locate as many of these secretive camps as possible. The results are shocking, and a direct contradiction to official claims. On Thursday we released the full findings on a newly launched website, the Xinjiang Data Project. In total, we have found 380 separate detention facilities that have either sprung out of the deserts and oases, or expanded from smaller detention facilities since 2017. We don’t believe that [...]

September 26th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Harvard Medical deans: Push for COVID-19 vaccine must put health above politics

We are profoundly concerned that avoidable missteps could undermine the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. The COVID-19 pandemic — and its enormous social and economic consequences — poses the greatest threat to human health and welfare of our lifetimes. The fields of medicine and biomedical science to which we have devoted our careers are the most effective means to counter this scourge. Alongside preventative public health measures and treatments for the infected, developing a safe and effective vaccine to ward off SARS-Cov-2 infection is a critical national priority. Urgency has motivated progress with unprecedented speed, and government investment and unprecedented collaboration among scientists within academia and at several biopharmaceutical companies have catalyzed the most rapid timeline for vaccine development in human history. A return to our normal way of life will require public acceptance of the vaccine and delivery to a sufficient percentage of the population to achieve herd immunity. Yet a recent Pew Research Center public opinion poll shows that almost half of the U.S. population definitely or probably would not get vaccinated at this time, indicating widespread vaccine skepticism. And 77% worry that a COVID-19 vaccine will be approved before safety and efficacy are rigorously established. We are profoundly concerned that avoidable missteps could undermine the rollout of this essential vaccination campaign. Vaccines are among the most important achievements of modern medicine, yet vaccine hesitancy — delay or refusal by the public to accept vaccines — has been increasing. This unfortunate phenomenon has many causes, ranging from complacency, to inconvenience, to misinformation and a lack [...]

September 25th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

‘Mr Brexit to Mr U-turn’: German commentators befuddled by Johnson’s zig-zagging

Media criticise PM’s Covid strategy, as UK adopts job support scheme similar to Germany’s own Die Welt’s veteran British commentator says Britons feel ‘Boris Johnson is the wrong man to cope with an emergency’. Photograph: Frank Augstein/AP The UK followed in the footsteps of the German government by adopting a jobs support scheme on Thursday. The announcement came as German commentators spoke of their confusion at the zig-zag approach to tackling the coronavirus, describing a nation caught up in feelings of panic, disbelief and disillusionment. “Military intervention to control coronavirus rules a possibility,” ran one banner headline in the business daily Handelsblatt this week, while an editorial in the Süddeutsche Zeitung was titled: “Johnson’s skittishness endangers his country.” Brexit remains the dominant topic among those with an eye on UK affairs, but increasingly the current administration’s virus-fighting policies have been receiving more attention. For some, the two issues are intertwined. The main TV news recently said Johnson had “switched from being Mr Brexit to Mr U-turn”. The Wirtschaftswoche weekly business magazine said “one of the main reasons for the ongoing coronavirus chaos” in Britain was Johnson’s decision “to occupy lots of ministerial posts with Brexit hardliners”. “The perplexity of the British public is rising,” wrote Thomas Kielinger, the veteran Britain watcher for the conservative Die Welt. “Its government appears to be stumbling through a forest of lunacy ... and it’s dawning on many that Boris Johnsonis the wrong man to cope with an emergency.” Kielinger calls the punishments for those who do not abide by the [...]

September 25th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

New Zealand is in a ‘shecession’ – so where is the much-needed ‘she-covery’?

Both major parties are pinning their hopes on jobs for the boys to lead the post-coronavirus economic recovery New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern visits a construction site in Taupo. Labour is borrowing to invest in large-scale private sector infrastructure projects, which overwhelmingly benefit men. Photograph: Ben Mckay/AA  Some may have heard the terms “shecession” or “pink recession”; words associated with the worldwide trend for pandemic-related job and income losses to affect women more than men. In New Zealand, we saw it in the June quarter unemployment figures. Ninety percent of the 11,000 New Zealanders who had at lost their jobs due to Covid-19 were women. These statistics were shocking but perhaps not surprising. New Zealand’s early pandemic response was gendered when it came to which industries were, and weren’t, considered “essential”. In the highest alert levels (3 and 4) work in the personal care industries (hairdressers, manicurists, beauticians, domestic cleaners, personal trainers, gymnasiums) – largely done by women – was not allowed. Business owners and workers in these industries were told they could not offer services which involved face-to-face or sustained close personal contact; the risk of Covid transmission was too great. Meanwhile, tradies, construction workers, street repairers, telecommunication technicians – a male dominated workforce – were amongst the “essential” workers that were allowed to return to work first under alert level 3. They were advised to keep two metres separation from each other; a distance that, from my unscientific survey around my neighbourhood, was honoured more in the breach than the observance. That early [...]

September 25th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Covid 19 coronavirus: China comes out of pandemic ‘absolutely laughing’

Bill Birtles said the government had almost eliminated domestic transmission among a population of 1.4 billion people. Photo / Getty news.com.au An Aussie journalist who fled China says the difference between what you hear about Covid-19 there compared to elsewhere is unfathomable. A journalist who was recently forced to flee China on the advice of the Australian government says the country has come out of Covid-19 "absolutely laughing". Bill Birtles, who was the ABC's China correspondent in Beijing from 2015 until a few weeks ago, said it was a "parallel world" between what was being heard about Covid-19 there compared to elsewhere. "It is almost unfathomably different," he told a Lowy Institute webinar discussion about Australia's fractured ties with China. Birtles said the government had almost eliminated domestic transmission among a population of 1.4 billion people, compared to countries like India, the US and Brazil, which was an "extraordinary achievement". He said the US also gave China a "gift" with its terrible handling of the virus, which had been "absolutely exploited for all political gain domestically" in China through the state media. ” People who kind of say 'maybe this is China's Chernobyl' or something, they really underestimate the many levers of political control, and media control, and information control that the party now has. "I can't imagine a stronger position for the party to be in, except of course for the US trade war. "But certainly on Covid, they've come out of it absolutely laughing." Michael Smith, who was the Australian Financial Review's China correspondent [...]

September 25th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Vladimir Putin’s UN Speech: Will Russia Head A New Nonaligned Movement?

Putin has made an implicit proposal—to the Europeans and to the major powers of the global South—to avoid becoming involved in any emerging U.S.-China cold war. Russian president Vladimir Putin did not quite deliver the address he expected he would at the September United Nations General Assembly meeting—in fact, he wasn't even physically present at Turtle Bay! This is a far cry from his stated plans, whereby 2020 would serve as a triumphant milestone for Russia, celebrating the seventy-fifth anniversary of Moscow's role in defeating the Nazi menace and in creating the postwar international system—and where Putin, arriving in New York, would bring the other four permanent members of the Security Council to hold a global summit. The coronavirus pandemic upended those plans—but echoes of these aspirations remained in the text Putin delivered from the Kremlin. Nevertheless, the speech remains important for understanding Putin's state of mind as he considers the global system and the role he expects Russia to play in the 2020s—as well as the implicit warnings to the United States. Putin has always stressed the desirability of a “concert of great powers” system to manage world affairs, and he reiterated his vision of the United Nations and especially its Security Council as such a forum. Properly utilized, “it helps prevent unilateral actions that may result in a direct military confrontation between major states, and provides an opportunity to seek compromise or at least avoid solutions that would be completely unacceptable to others ...” Beyond the United Nations and its “G5” (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom [...]

September 23rd, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Here’s the company that Bill Gates thinks is the clear coronavirus vaccine leader

The billionaire philanthropist thinks one company could have a coronavirus vaccine ready by November. Bill Gates isn't an epidemiologist. He has no medical training. But when the billionaire philanthropist talks about vaccines, it pays to listen. He and his wife founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. Since then, the nonprofit foundation has invested heavily in vaccine development across the world. Gates has personally championed making vaccines available to people in developing nations. When the coronavirus outbreak began, he was an early advocate of using science to prevent the virus's spread. The Gates Foundation quickly began funding initiatives to develop vaccines, treatments, and diagnostic tests for COVID-19. CNBC interviewed Bill Gates about his thoughts on the state of COVID-19 vaccine development. His comments indicate that he believes one company is a clear leader in the race to develop a coronavirus vaccine: Pfizer(NYSE: PFE). Bill Gates' reasoning Gates doesn't think a coronavirus vaccine will be available by Election Day, as President Trump has suggested. He told CNBC, "None of the vaccines are likely to seek approval in the U.S. before the end of October." However, Gates sounded optimistic that "at least two or three" coronavirus vaccines could seek emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration by December or January. He didn't hesitate to identify the company he viewed as the leader. Gates stated in the CNBC interview, "The only vaccine that, if everything went perfectly, might seek the emergency use license by the end of October, would be Pfizer." Pfizer and its [...]

September 23rd, 2020|Categories: Opinion|Comments Off on Here’s the company that Bill Gates thinks is the clear coronavirus vaccine leader

US election: Data guru Bela Stantic says Donald Trump on track to win again

news.com.au   A data scientist who correctly predicted Donald Trump's shock victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016 says the US President is currently on track to win again. Professor Bela Stantic is the founder and director of Griffith University's Big Data and Smart Analytics Lab, where he analyses social media data and sentiment to predict voters' behaviour. In the past, those predictions have been extraordinarily accurate. Four years ago, Stantic successfully picked the winner in 49 of the 50 American states. His lab also nailed the result of both the 2016 Brexit referendum and the Australian federal election last year. In all three cases, public opinion polling pointed to the opposite result. Professor Bela Stantic is director of the Big Data and Smart Analytics Lab. Photo / Griffith University  At the moment, the polls show Trump trailing his opponent, Joe Biden, by an average of 6.2 per cent at the national level. They're a bit closer in the key battleground states, where Biden leads by 3.9 per cent. It looks like a comfortable lead for the Democratic Party's nominee. But, just like Clinton's lead four years ago, it could be a mirage.p Stantic recently conducted a preliminary, draft analysis of the upcoming US election. His lab's complete analysis, along with a final prediction of the result, will come closer to polling day on November 3. "It is obvious again that Trump will lose the popular vote," he told news.com.au. "However, he's tracking really well in the crucial states. Florida is a coin toss, but he's slightly [...]

September 20th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

New evidence makes Hunter Biden’s ‘business’ deals reek worse than ever

Foreign entities looking to influence American politics sometimes devise lucrative commercial deals involving a politician’s family. While the deals can, and do, ensnare politicians of all stripes, those involving the Biden family are particularly troubling: The transactions implicate US national security. While Joe Biden served as vice president, his son Hunter received offers from foreign governments and oligarchs in areas where he had little or no expertise. That his foreign partners included a rival state, Communist China, makes these arrangements particularly brazen, even by Washington’s swampy standards. Newly released Secret Service travel records for Hunter paint a clearer picture of how extensive these efforts were. The documents, reviewed by Judicial Watch, show that between 2009 and 2014, Hunter made 411 trips across 29 countries. While some of those trips were perhaps leisure and others related to his volunteer work for the World Food Program, many of them appear to be connected to deals that he or his associates either secured or sought with foreign governments and oligarchs. For example, Hunter visited China five times between 2009 and 2014. Most notoriously, he traveled with his father aboard Air Force Two in December 2013 as part of an official visit with Chinese officials. Ten days after their return to Washington, Hunter and his associates partnered with the state-owned Bank of China to formally establish BHR, a new, first-of-its-kind fund aimed at making investments outside China through the newly established Shanghai Free Trade Zone. When this deal was first revealed in Peter Schweizer’s book “Secret Empires,” Team Biden attempted [...]

September 19th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Soros-Backed Coalition Preparing for Post-Election Day Chaos

AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta  Under the guise of seeking to “prevent a constitutional crisis,” a massive network of well funded left-wing activists and progressive groups are training, organizing, and planning to mobilize millions of Americans should President Trump “contest the election results,” refuse to concede, or claim an early victory. More than 80 advocacy groups and grassroots organizations have joined in a broad coalition calling itself “Protect the Results” and proclaiming that “we cannot ignore the threat that Trump poses to our democracy and a peaceful transition of power.” The coalition is a joint project of Indivisible and Stand Up America, two left-wing groups founded in response to President Trump’s 2016 election and whose goals are “to organize and resist Trump’s dangerous agenda” and “to defeat Trump and his enablers.” Seeking to “protect” election results by use of its millions of members, the coalition calls to “take coordinated action” and “prepare for a potential post-election crisis.” “Be prepared,” warns a video on its homepage. Both founding groups of the coalition (Indivisible and Stand up America) are part of the Soros-funded Democracy Alliance (DA), the largest network of donors dedicated to building the progressive movement in the U.S. DA’s large body of donors aggregates resources for “focused investment,” marshalling as much as $80 million per year. In 2017, DA developed a “resistance map” — a mix of anti-Trump groups it recommends its members donate to, many of which are now part of Protect the Results. Other Soros-funded coalition groups include MoveOn, Women’s March, the Working Families Party and [...]

September 19th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The US election could be a danger for Taiwan, an opportunity for China

© © Getty Images Taiwan staged several military exercises in its regional waters this past week. Although the Taiwanese defense ministry would not disclose what it tested, it is likely — considering the “unlimited” flight ceiling that it mandated, and the involvement of Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology — that the exercises included Taiwan’s most advanced anti-ballistic missile or short-range ballistic missile capabilities. Either missile would be critical in a confrontation between the mainland People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Taiwanese Republic of China (ROC), by mitigating the ferocity of a Chinese first-strike or giving Taiwan precision retaliatory capabilities. Either missile would be critical in a confrontation between the mainland People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Taiwanese Republic of China (ROC), by mitigating the ferocity of a Chinese first-strike or giving Taiwan precision retaliatory capabilities. China, however, did not remain idle. Its air force violated Taiwanese airspace at least twice during the exercises, deploying Su-30MKK air superiority fighters and Y-8 transport aircraft. This force composition deserves greater emphasis. The Su-30 is one of China’s front-line combat aircraft, comparable to the U.S. F-15 and capable of defeating Taiwan’s most advanced F-16s in an aerial dogfight. The Y-8, a Chinese version of the Soviet An-12 heavy-lift transport, can be used to deploy paratroopers or as a maritime surveillance, electronic warfare, and drone deployment aircraft. While the Y-8 variant that China deployed remains unknown, the central point is clear enough: In a cross-strait conflict, a Chinese “strike package” will look very much like the [...]

September 19th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The Sexual Revolution, Not Racism or Capitalism, Ruins the Lives of the Poor

An interview with Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute.       Jennifer Roback Morse is a scholar, wife, mom, and author. She founded perhaps the best comprehensive pro-life, pro-family thinktank, the Ruth Institute. Her work documents the devastating impact of the Sexual Revolution on society’s weakest, most vulnerable people, especially children. The Stream’s John Zmirak interviewed her about her sobering book,  The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives and Why the Church Was Right All Along.   John Zmirak: You founded the Ruth Institute. Can you please explain its mission? Jennifer Morse: The Ruth Institute is an international interfaith coalition defending the family and building a civilization of love.   In your book The Sexual State you make a bold claim: the Sexual Revolution is a totalitarian movement. Why do you say that? The key insight is that the goals of the Sexual Revolution are Utopian fantasies. The Revolutionaries promote the belief that a good and decent society should do everything possible to separate sex from babies, separate both sex and babies from marriage, and eliminate all distinctions between men and women. But all these goals are impossible. Sex actually does make babies. Children do need their parents. Life-long marriage between their parents does protect the needs of children. Men and women are really different. The Revolutionaries can demand unlimited power, once they have convinced people that these high-minded but impossible goals are non-negotiable and unambiguously good. After all, doing the impossible takes a lot of power to achieve as well [...]

September 18th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Biden platform would raise taxes by $3.4T, study says

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has laid out a multitrillion-dollar spending plan that would raise taxes by $3.4 trillion on mostly wealthy Americans and corporations over the next decade, according to an analysis released Monday. The former vice president's campaign platform would raise federal spending by about $5.4 trillion — or roughly 24% of gross domestic product by 2030, according to new findings from the Penn Wharton Budget Model, a nonpartisan group at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. The spending plan, which is more than double what Hillary Clinton proposed during the 2016 campaign, would be funded by a slew of new taxes, including a corporate tax hike. Biden's trillion-dollar proposals signal that he'll continue the unprecedented level of government spending that began in mid-March as American life came to a grinding halt because of the COVID-19 crisis. Biden has pledged to hike the corporate tax rate on "day one" of his presidency if he wins the Nov. 3 election. Increasing the tax rate to 28% from 21% would generate more than $1.4 trillion, making it the largest revenue-raiser in his proposal, the analysis showed. In addition, Biden has said he plans to reverse changes made to individual income rates for households earning more than $400,000 under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. By repealing those changes, the top income bracket rate would revert to 39.6% from 37%, raising an estimated $944 billion. He would also seek to increase investment and payroll taxes for those households earning more than $400,000, raising roughly $993 billion. Almost 80% of the tax increases backed [...]

September 18th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Catholic Group Launches $9.7 Million Campaign To Expose Biden’s ‘Anti-Catholic Record and Policy Agenda’

"For Catholics who cherish the Faith and their freedom to live it, a Biden presidency represents an existential threat." Democratic U.S. presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, stand together during a community meeting at Grace Lutheran Church after a week of unrest in the aftermath of the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S., September 3, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque CatholicVote, a national faith-based advocacy organization, is targeting Catholic voters in swing states in its $9.7 million campaign against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. In efforts to “expose Joe Biden’s anti-Catholic record and policy agenda,” the organization on Tuesday announced its plans on reaching more than 5 million Catholics in crucial swing states. According to the organization, the campaign includes digital advertising, parish-by-parish canvassing, direct mail features, and GOTV initiatives in six states. CatholicVote also released a full report detailing Biden’s career from a Catholic perspective and where he stands on issues including “the sanctity of life, religious liberty, judges, education, the dignity of work, and other core issues.” The group will send the report along with a condensed voter-guide version to 5 million Catholic voters. The campaign will begin with a $350,000 digital ad in Pennsylvania and Michigan. The ad urges Catholic voters to “learn the truth about Joe Biden’s radical stance on abortion.” It alleges, “Joe Biden would force American Catholics to pay for abortions, sacrificing his Catholic values, to kneel before the leftist mob.” CatholicVote President Brian [...]

September 18th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Neilytics: Ray Dalio Warns the U.S. Dollar Will Be Replaced — Here’s Why I Still Love It!

When Trish Regan asks me a question, it makes me think. This morning’s question was no exception. She asked if I had seen Ray Dalio’s comments on the possible demise of the reserve status of the U.S. Dollar and did I have any thoughts on the matter? (Trish for her part believes there’s really no other game in town…and thus, we shouldn’t fear a declining dollar.) As I thought about it…I decided to approach her question from the standpoint of whether, at present, there are any viable alternatives waiting in the wings. Let me first say, given Mr. Dalio’s rather impressive track record, his investing advice is usually worth taking. He has been concerned about the US Dollar for quite some time…and he raises some very real issues; he suggests that fiscal spending and monetary injections are debasing the currency perhaps past the point of no return. He points out “[t]here is so much debt production and debt monetization.” And, to be honest, I have also worried about the consequences of such behavior, particularly vis-à-vis our government’s reckless spending, for a long time. Having said that, the question is whether fiscal spending and indebtedness, particularly relative to GDP, is sufficient to remove the U.S. currency from its exalted position. The U.S. Dollar’s “Magic Potion” First, I asked myself what goes into the magic potion that makes the Dollar so special. I came up with a lot of really good reasons, so many that I am not sure I can even rank them. There is certainly the [...]

September 18th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The U.S. Air Force Has ‘Built’ and ‘Flown’ Potential 6th Generation Fighter

Details of this sixth-generation aircraft were in a word: sparse.   While the U.S. military is still "addressing" a few problems with its Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, efforts are apparently well underway to develop the next-generation fighter jet. The U.S. Air Force secretly designed, built and even flew a prototype of the fighter of the future. "We've already built and flown a full-scale flight demonstrator in the real world, and we broke records in doing it," Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logisitics told Defense News in an interview ahead of this week's Air Force Association's Air, Space and Cyber Conference. "We are ready to go and build the next-generation aircraft in a way that has never happened before." Few details were shared about the jet, which is part of the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program, the Air Force's effort to develop a family of connected air warfare systems. This group of systems won't be just piloted aircraft, but will include unmanned drones and other platforms that could operate in the air, space and even in cyberspace. Details of this sixth-generation aircraft were in a word: sparse. Roper didn't disclose how many prototype aircraft have flown or even which defense contractors were involved in their/its manufacture. Nor did he disclose when or where the mystery flight even occurred. No details on whether it was crewed, optionally crewed or even unmanned, or whether it has stealth capabilities. What Roper did say was cryptic. "We're going after the [...]

September 17th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Donald Trump Should Withdraw All U.S. Troops from Afghanistan Now

From the author:  "We have tried stealth and surge, over 100,000 boots on the ground and fewer than 10,000. None of it has “fixed” Afghanistan, nor will it. Afghanistan’s conflict is ultimately a political (and religious and more broadly cultural) problem in need of a local, political solution developed by the people who must live with its results." Diplomacy is moving slowly in Afghanistan since the U.S.-Taliban peace agreement was made in February. Each point of progress is followed by some setback, each positive headline by a negative one. Even with the Taliban and Afghan officials meeting in Doha for direct dialogue, violence steadily continues. One term of the U.S.-Taliban deal was a limited ceasefire: The Taliban would not attack U.S. and NATO coalition forces, and U.S. forces would only strike the Taliban in defense of Kabul’s troops. Though this arrangement has mostly held, breakaway factions within the Taliban network don’t always abide by its leadership’s commitments, and the Taliban continues to regularly attack the Afghan military. Taliban territorial control is on a years-long growth trend, and it remains unclear when intra-Afghan talks may begin—let alone conclude—or whether the U.S. drawdown timeline will be preserved. All American forces are supposed to leave Afghanistan by the summer of 2021, but at least one recently disbanded U.S. base has been re-established on a smaller scale, while another due to be closed is instead becoming a “strategic hub.” In short, it remains an open question whether the “peace deal” deserves that name. And given that the answer to that question depends significantly on the Taliban (hardly trustworthy) and Kabul [...]

September 17th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Bahrain’s diplomatic agreement with Israel is a building block toward Middle East stability

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at left, and King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain. (Ronen Zvulun/AFP/Getty Images) With Bahrain’s announcement Friday that it will join the United Arab Emirates in establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, dominoes are falling in the Middle East in the right direction for a change. Bahrain’s decision to join the UAE is a second solid gain for the Trump administration’s efforts to bridge the gap between Israel and Arab states. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser on the Middle East, said during an interview that the move shows that “a lot of the leaders in the region are tired of waiting for the Palestinians” before recognizing the reality of Israel. The significance of Bahrain’s action is partly that it wouldn’t have happened without the blessing of Saudi Arabia, which is joined by a causeway to the small Persian Gulf state. The Saudis have historically exercised what amounts to a veto over Bahraini policy. In this case, the Saudis silently endorsed their tiny neighbor’s decision, rather than vetoing it. Kushner believes the Saudis are waiting to see how the normalization process plays out before making the move themselves. He thinks an eventual Saudi normalization is inevitable, if not imminent. The Saudis gave tacit approval to the UAE’s decision last month by publicly announcing they would allow commercial jets traveling between Israel and the Emirates to fly over Saudi territory. President Trump will have a prized photo opportunity next week when he hosts Bahraini, UAE and Israeli leaders at a White [...]

September 16th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Concerns over Chinese data collection on influential NZers

Data leaked by a Chinese company on prominent New Zealanders could be linked to attempts to influence New Zealand politics and business, says Canterbury University professor Anne-Marie Brady.                  Canterbury University professor Anne-Marie Brady. Photo: RNZ / Jane Patterson The names of 793 New Zealanders have been found in data leaked from Zhenhua Data to an American academic. The company is believed to be owned by China Zhenhua Electronics Group, which is owned by a state-owned enterprise, China Electronic Information Industry Group (CETC), meaning "it's part of the military industrial complex in China", Brady said. A specialist in political interference from China, Brady said the Chinese Communist Party was trying to cultivate relationships with economic and political leaders worldwide. The leaked data included lists of New Zealanders identified by the Chinese company as "politically exposed" and of "special interest". "Only 10 percent of the data has been recovered, so there's quite a few things we're scratching our heads about," Brady said. "But we can see the pattern here very clearly: many of the individuals on the list... are very clearly some of the most influential people in New Zealand. "There's our senior court judges, there's our former ambassadors and present ambassador to China, there's China desk people... What's really heartbreaking is to see our most senior politicians family members there." The Chinese intelligence gathering on New Zealanders and people from other countries was followed by plans of action, which was "very concerning", Brady said. "It's happening on a grand [...]

September 16th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Election 2020: How much can you trust the polls?

Comment - Is the 2020 election result really the foregone conclusion that the polls and commentators are suggesting? Josh Van Veen suggests otherwise, pointing to some of the shortcomings of opinion polling, which could have some politicians saying "bugger the pollsters" on election night.   The complexities of human psychology mean political parties can take nothing for granted, Josh Van Veen writes. Photo: RNZ   In November 1993, opinion polls foretold a comfortable victory for the incumbent National Party. But there was no clear outcome on election night. For a brief moment, it appeared that the Labour Party of Mike Moore could reclaim power with support from the new left-wing Alliance. The upset led then-prime minister Jim Bolger to exclaim, "Bugger the pollsters!" To his relief the final count gave National a one-seat majority. Twenty-seven years later, polling suggests that Jacinda Ardern is on the cusp of forming her own single party majority government. Bolger was the last prime minister to enjoy such a mandate. The 1993 general election ushered in a new era of multiparty politics. A succession of coalition and minority governments would follow - right up to the present. But this era could soon be over. At the time of writing, Labour is projected to win more than the 61 seats needed to govern alone. Statistician Peter Ellis calculates a 0.1 percent chance that National can form the next government. These numbers may sound fanciful, whatever your politics, but they are based on highly credible data from the country's two most successful polling [...]

September 14th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Trump’s ‘law and order’ message expands electoral map to unlikely battleground state

Hundreds of protesters gather outside Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s official residence, Friday, April 17 President Trump has put Democratic challenger Joseph R. Biden on the defensive in Minnesota, an unlikely battleground that hasn’t voted Republican in a presidential election since 1972. It’s a rare opportunity for Mr. Trump to expand the electoral map and potentially capture Minnesota’s 10 electoral votes to offset a potential loss in Michigan or Wisconsin, two states that he narrowly won in 2016. Mr. Trump came close to winning Minnesota four years ago. He lost the state to Hillary Clinton by a little more than 1.5 percentage points. This time, his law-and-order message has been amplified by months of unrest and riots in Minneapolisafter the death of George Floyd, a Black man, in police custody. The president’s momentum prompted Mr. Biden’s team to spend millions of dollars on advertising in the state. “President Trump has tapped into an organic enthusiasm from Minnesotans who are tired of career politicians’ lip service with no results, and we see an opportunity to win Minnesota with voters who want four more years of the president’s ‘America First’ agenda,” said Samantha Zager, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign. The polling in Minnesota is mixed. Several polls show Mr. Biden with a solid lead, and the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls in the state puts Mr. Biden ahead by 5.8 percentage points. A recent Emerson poll, however, shows the president outperforming his 2016 exit polls for men and women, and among younger voters and voters without [...]

September 14th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Jack Tame: We need bravery from our PM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo / Supplied COMMENT: Is it better to do what you think is right? Or better to do what is popular? Political leaders have to work with that tension every day. But it's in times like this, the midst of an election campaign when policies are laid bare, that we really get to scrutinise our main party's values. Labour's new tax policy once again shows they're more interested in doing what is popular than what many of their members and supporters think is "right". As some of my colleagues have pointed out over the last few days, their proposed new top tax rate is softer than what Don Brash proposed as National leader.   The policy isn't going to cost Labour much support in the election. But it isn't going to win them much, either. It's certainly not going to bring in much revenue for the government coffers. It's a middling policy by a party which is forever terrified of being criticised as taxing and spending too much. The mere title of their policy tells you everything. It's not a "tax" policy. It's a "revenue" policy. What's the bravest thing Labour and the Prime Minister have done during their first term in Government? What was the last truly difficult issue for which you saw Jacinda Ardern make a public stand? As Labour leader and Prime Minister, has she ever backed a big policy where the majority of voters weren't on her side? Maybe gun reform ... maybe? No, I don't think so. [...]

September 14th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Zuckerberg warns of post-election violence

Mark Zuckerberg tells "Axios on HBO" that Facebook is imposing new election rules to deter use of the platform to spread of misinformation and even violence, and to help voters see the results as "legitimate and fair." Driving the news: The new measures, announced Thursday, include throwing a flag on posts by candidates who claim premature victory, and forbidding new ads within a week of Election Day. "There is, unfortunately, I think, a heightened risk of civil unrest in the period between voting and a result being called," Zuckerberg told Axios' Mike Allen. "I think we need to be doing everything that we can to reduce the chances of violence or civil unrest in the wake of this election." The big picture: Facebook is under fire from all sides. New York Times opinion columnist Charlie Warzel writes: "Facebook is too big for democracy. ... Its size and power creates instability, the answer to which, according to Facebook, is to give the company additional authority." Between the lines: President Trump has repeatedly suggested that the heavy use of voting by mail this year, driven by the pandemic, could lead to a "rigged election" — despite the long history of voting by mail in the U.S. without fraud. Zuckerberg said that since the outcome may not be known on election night, Facebook and the media need to start "preparing the American people that there's nothing illegitimate about this election," even if it takes "additional days or even weeks to make sure that all of the votes are counted." [...]

September 13th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

POLL: 86% Of Americans Think The Media Is Biased

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images The vast majority of Americans think that there is political bias in news coverage, a new Gallup/Knight Foundation poll found. 86% of Americans said that the media is biased, with 49% of respondents saying that there is “a great deal” of political bias in news coverage and 37% saying there is “a fair amount” of bias, according to the poll. People are more concerned with other people’s news sources than they are with their own; when given a choice, 69% of Americans were concerned about bias in the news that other people were viewing, while 29% were concerned about the bias in their own news sources. 56% of respondents agreed that there was political bias in the news source that they relied on the most, the poll found. The poll found that Americans are divided along party lines when it comes to trusting the media. Republicans distrust the media more than Democrats – 71% of Republicans reported viewing the media “very” or “somewhat” unfavorably, while 22% of Democrats and 52% of independents said the same. President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized “fake news” and media bias, and Democrats and Republicans differ in their views of such attacks. They agree that the media is under attack, but 70% of Democrats who agree that the media is being attacked say that it is not warranted, while 61% of Republicans who think the media is under attack say that it is justified. The poll also found that Americans viewed political bias in news as a “major [...]

September 12th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Brexit: UK negotiators ‘believe brinkmanship will reboot trade talks’

Plan has enraged EU and many Tories but sources say No 10 thinks it will move talks along David Frost, Britain’s chief negotiator, arrives in Downing Street on Friday. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA Britain’s Brexit negotiators believe Downing Street’s plan to break international law, pushing the trade and security negotiations to the brink, may have helped reboot the talks by offering Brussels a reality check about the looming danger of a no-deal outcome. The publication of the internal market bill on Wednesday, under which key parts of the withdrawal agreement agreed last year would be negated, has enraged the EU and prompted an internal rebellion within the Conservative party. Brussels has set Boris Johnson a three-week deadline to ditch his plans or face financial and trade sanctions, with the clear suggestion that negotiations over a future relationship will fail unless the most contentious parts of the proposed legislation are removed. In a sign of the EU’s anger at Johnson’s move, a committee of MEPs coordinating the European parliament’s stance on Brexit, issued a statement on Friday stating they would refuse to ratify any trade and security deal if the UK government had breached the withdrawal agreement or threatened to do so. A Tory rebellion against Johnson’s bill is gathering pace: an amendment to the internal market bill by the former minister Bob Neill would give parliament a veto on overriding the UK-EU divorce deal. Late on Friday afternoon, the prime minister sought to quell discontent among some Conservative colleagues over the bill by addressing MPs on the [...]

September 12th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

China Has A Long History of Non-aggression

  Aningo (Malaysia) I'm from Malaysia. China has traded with Malaysia for 2000 years. In those years, they had been the world's biggest powers many times. Never once they sent troops to take our land. Admiral Zhenghe came to Malacca five times, in gigantic fleets, and a flagship eight times the size of Christopher Columbus' flagship, Santa Maria. He could have seized Malacca easily, but he did not. In 1511, the Portuguese came. In 1642, the Dutch came. In the 18th century the British came. We were colonised by each, one after another. When China wanted spices from India, they traded with the Indians. When they wanted gems, they traded with the Persian. They didn't take lands. The only time China expanded beyond their current borders was in Yuan Dynasty, when Genghis and his descendants Ogedei Khan, Guyuk Khan & Kublai Khan conquered China, Mid Asia and Eastern Europe. But Yuan Dynasty, although being based in China, was a part of the Mongolian Empire.  Then came the Century of Humiliation. Britain smuggled opium into China to dope the population, a strategy to turn the trade deficit around, after the British could not find enough silver to pay the Qing Dynasty in their tea and porcelain trades. After the opium warehouses were burned down and ports were closed by the Chinese in ordered to curb opium, the British started the Opium War I, which China lost. Hong Kong was forced to be surrendered to the British in a peace talk (Nanjing Treaty). The British owned 90% of [...]

September 11th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Trish: Biden Policies Would Destroy U.S. Economy

Former Vice President Joe Biden is finally hitting the campaign trail, hightailing it to Michigan for the first time since accepting his party’s nomination. We were provided with minimal but nonetheless, key details, on his economic plan–a plan that would send America straight back to the low growth years of the Obama-Biden administration. In typical socialist class-warfare style, Biden has already promised to effectively stick it to American business with higher taxes…promising to increase the President’s 21% tax rate on business, to 28%. In addition, he is announcing his intention to level a 10% tax on any U.S. company making products overseas that ship them home. He would, however, offer a 10% tax deduction to companies that make their goods at home…saying, “i don’t accept the defeatist view that the forces of automation and globalization mean we can’t keep good-paying union jobs here in america, and create more of them,” he said to michigan voters wednesday evening. “i don’t buy for one second that the vitality of american manufacturing is a thing of the past.” Well, that’s a new one! Because Joe Biden was singing a very different tune in June 2010. Back then, the Vice President told his audience of supporters at a Russ Feingold fundraising event in Milwaukee Wisconsin, “there’s no possbility to restore 8 million jobs lost in the great depression.” No possibility? The New Normal Meanwhile, at the same time, President Barack Obama was pitching his idea of a “new normal.” Low economic growth, according to the Obama-Biden administration, was just a [...]

September 11th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Vatican Coup? George Soros Funds Jesuit NGOs with $1.7 Million

Guest post by Collin McMahon Three Jesuit charities close to Pope Francis have received more than $ 1.7 million in recent years from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, reveals veteran Vatican journalist Marco Tosatti. The Jesuit Refugee Service received $ 176,452 from Soros in 2018 to “support migrant rights” in Latin America. The Spanish Jesuit Migrant Service received $ 75,000 since its founding in 2016 and $ 151,125 in 2018. Jesuit Worldwide Learning USA received $ 890,000 in 2016 and another $ 410,000 in 2018, the only Catholic NGO to list Open Society as one of its “partners” on its website, Tosatti writes. In total, George Soros’ donations to Jesuit foundations totaled $ 1,702,577 over the past four years. The funding is particularly controversial due to Open Society’s aggressive support of abortion, gay marriage, drug liberalization and Islamization of the West. Over the past four years, the Soros Foundation has donated nearly $ 12 million to the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and its US political arm, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. In 2016, it became known that the Soros foundation gave $ 1.5 million to quash the scandal over the Planned Parenthood harvesting of organs and tissues from aborted babies. In 2017, the Irish government ordered Amnesty International to return more than $ 160,000 donated by Open Society to legalize abortion in that country. In mid-July it emerged that the Jesuit archbishop of Santiago del Guatemala, Monsignor Gonzalo de Villa y Vásquez, has been linked to Soros’ now-defunct Guatemala Foundation since the 1990s. US Catholic [...]

September 11th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

I’m a licensed gun owner but I haven’t carried in years. Why? I’m Black and I’m scared.

Open carry and concealed carry are white privilege at protests and everywhere. I'm a Black, trained, licensed veteran afraid authorities will kill me. I am an Army combat veteran and an NRA-certified pistol instructor. I own guns for hunting and personal protection. I have possessed concealed carry licenses in Virginia and North Carolina. I believe in the Second Amendment, but I won’t even consider carrying a firearm openly in public. I haven’t exercised my right to carry a concealed handgun in more than four years. The reason: I am Black. It has become clear to me that open carry and concealed carry are white privileges — permit or not. Despite having a license: I am afraid of being killed by police if I carry a gun in public. I have good reason to be afraid. In 2016 in Minnesota, a Black school cafeteria worker named Philando Castile was killed during a routine traffic stop after merely mentioning the fact that he was legally in possession of a concealed firearm. Tamir Rice, a 12-year old Black boy in an open-carry state, was murdered by officers in just seconds for holding a toy gun. John Crawford III was murdered in a Walmart holding a BB gun that was for sale in the store. There are too many more to mention. White protesters intimidate with guns On the other hand, just last month, when a 17-year old white male shot three people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, killing two, police wouldn’t even accept his surrender. Despite the fact that he was [...]

September 9th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Pandemic requires partnerships like never before

© Getty Images As the fall semester just begins, we have already seen colleges and universities try to open only to reverse course, while others undertake extraordinary measures to try to stay open. All the while, coronavirus cases keep rising around the country. As school leaders grapple with what to do, they must recognize their decisions have massive health implications for the cities and towns in which they reside — regardless of whether college students themselves are at serious risk of the disease. There are, for example, 154 counties scattered around the country that are home to large colleges and universities, and 18.6 million people. In our home city of Ithaca, New York, alone, each fall brings nearly 30,000 students back to Ithaca College, Cornell University and Tompkins Cortland Community College — in a county with slightly more than 100,000 residents. And these learners come from across the nation and around the world, including many regions struggling with COVID-19. The plans of our campus leaders affect everyone in our region. That is why Ithaca College and city leaders met regularly before the college decided it is simply not sufficiently safe for our students, faculty and staff or our town for the college to reopen. As much as opening would have financially benefitted the college, the pandemic and America’s response to it have become too unpredictable to plan safely otherwise for our campus or city. As colleges everywhere have had to revert to virtual modes, we are increasingly convinced that our town-gown planning — a partnership that [...]

September 9th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

China’s Man in Washington, Named Trump

Our president is bolstering a nation, but it’s not the United States. President Xi Jinping of China with President Trump in Beijing in 2017.Credit...Nicolas Asfouri/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images “Nobody has been tougher on China than me,” President Trump has declared repeatedly, and he is trying to exploit anti-China feelings for his re-election. He portrays Joe Biden as soft on China, and his backers have run ads denouncing “Beijing Biden.” All that is preposterous, for it is Trump who has been China’s stooge, a sycophantic flatterer and enabler of President Xi Jinping. If that wasn’t already evident, John Bolton’s new book, “The Room Where It Happened,” portrays Trump as practically kowtowing to Xi. The kowtow meant prostrating oneself before the emperor or a patriarch and knocking one’s head on the ground. Today it takes the form of a fawning American president publicly declaring, “President Xi loves the people of China” and hailing Xi’s “very capable” handling of the coronavirus. I’ve been gasping as I read an advance copy of Bolton’s book, particularly his chapter on relations with China, because China policy perfectly captures Trump’s soaring hypocrisy wrapped in venal incompetence. The passage in the book that got the most attention concerns a telephone conversation between Trump and Xi last year. “He [Trump] then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton writes. The government clearance process redacted Trump’s exact words, but Vanity Fair says he told [...]

September 9th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Donald Trump’s Strange Labor Day Press Conference: A Sign of Trouble Ahead?

How Trump will fare this fall remains an open question. But with his campaign in dire financial straits and pulling ads off the air in Arizona, his prospects do not appear auspicious. As the election looms larger, his predicament is unlikely to ease. It was vintage Donald Trump at the White House on Labor Day. Even as Joe Biden was campaigning in Pennsylvania to beef up his outreach to union members, Trump ambled out to the North Portico of the White House for a press conference, where he addressed the subject of his postmaster general Louis DeJoy—and promptly threw him to the wolves. Asked if DeJoy should be investigated, Trump didn’t hesitate: “Sure, sure, let the investigations go.” Really? This from a president who has spent much of his tenure assailing a variety of investigations directed at the White House? When it comes to his subordinates, however, Trump does not appear to feel the same degree of outrage. DeJoy, he indicated, should be tossed out “if something can be proven that he did something wrong.” When the most that Trump can say about you is that you’re “a very respected man,” you know that trouble looms. Soon Trump may allege that he never even really heard of DeJoy. If DeJoy, who allegedly shook down his employees as CEO of New Breed Logistics for campaign donations to the GOP, has only himself to blame for his joyless predicament. Anyone who signs up to work for Trump knows full well that loyalty to his subordinates is not among [...]

September 8th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

New York City Residents Flee In Mass Exodus – So De Blasio Doubles Down With Call For ‘Redistribution Of Wealth’

After voting for left-wing Democrats like Bill de Blasio, rich liberal New Yorkers are fleeing in droves. Even Governor Cuomo has admitted it’s a problem, and they won’t fix it by scaring people away. The way the liberal government handled the pandemic and riots seems to have driven many residents to move away. Things only appear to get worse, as de Blasio refuses to turn things around. In fact, it appears he wants to make things much worse—embracing even more socialism: “Mayor de Blasio made a public plea Friday for taxing the rich and redistributing their money even as the Big Apple reels from a coronavirus-induced budget crisis that’s already caused well-heeled New Yorkers to head for the hills. “Help me tax the wealthy. Help me redistribute wealth. Help me build affordable housing in white communities if you want desegregation,” de Blasio said on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer” show after a caller asked about integrating public schools. Even though his leadership is a train wreck, de Blasio is pushing some of the most radical ideas since Bernie Sanders.

September 7th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

ALERT: Occupy Movement Recruiting Enlistees For ‘Siege’ Of The White House

  OPINION – You may recall that it was Adbusters that was behind the 2011 Occupy movement in NYC.   Lacking any form of centralized control, the protests went by a variety of names, “Occupy Wall Street,” “American Autumn,” “The 99 Percent.” The one commonality was they derived their impetus from a disillusioned Canadian adman. Adbusters is an anti-consumerism magazine based in Vancouver, British Columbia. In the summer of 2011, it proposed the “occupation” of Wall Street, and the idea caught fire. According to an October 20, 2011 article in NPR, Adbusters never claimed any control over the protests seeing itself “more as an idea shop, sort of an “anti-advertising firm” that takes special glee in creating fake ads to subvert the message of real products.” Adbusters is back and calling for a siege of the White House… From Adbusters website… “We will lay siege to the White House. And we will sustain it for exactly fifty days. Are you ready for the revolution.” “Fifty days — September 17th to November 3rd…we’ll inspire a global movement of systemic change — a Global Spring — a cultural heave towards a new world order.” So who are the anarchist-Marxists that are a part of this revolution? Nick Arama, who has been following the Occupy movement since its inception writes that with each new iteration of the “leftist movement” the same general core of anarchist-leftists move from one movement to the next. “… if you check many BLM folks, many of them were also involved in Occupy.” Anarchists, Marxists, [...]

September 6th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The Facebook Prime Minister: How Ardern became NZ’s most successful political influencer

COMMENT "Kia ora, everyone. I'm standing against a blank wall in my house – because it's the only view in my house that is not messy." So begins a 2020 campaign message posted by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. She speaks directly into her phone at the day's end, in a comfortable sweatshirt and with tousled hair, inviting Instagram viewers into her home as she lays out plans for the week ahead. Voters and fans view her message from their phones and smart devices: just over 22 per cent of her 1.4 million Instagram followers watched the two-minute video. She is candid, approachable, tired and funny. Facing a resurgence of Covid-19 just days later, the tone changes to one of concern. But the approach is the same in a 13-minute Facebook livestream, during which 34 per cent of her 1.3 million followers tune in. In the run-up to the October 17 election, Ardern's Facebook following alone is four times greater than those of the other seven main party leaders combined. Politician or not, this makes her a serious influencer by anyone's metrics. A natural communicator While the Opposition leader's husband has recently been feeling the heat for his anti-Ardern Facebook posts, Ardern's own activity is almost relentlessly positive. It's been that way since she began turning up regularly on live after-dinner Facebook feeds not long after becoming Labour leader seven weeks out from the 2017 election. Her organic appeal and clear comfort with the format helped her own the space. By the time she was [...]

September 5th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Investors Fear Constitutional Crisis

What a week.  This Labor Day weekend we have reason to celebrate and reason to be very, very concerned. The good news first: our economy is rebounding. Employment is increasing with 1.4 million jobs being added in August. This is significant and far more than many economists had anticipated. As such, the unemployment rate dropped to 8.4%! OUTSTANDING. But the mainstream media can’t give credit where credit is due. Hey, even the financial media outlets which typically try to provide a more in-depth analysis are trying to counter this great report with negativity. CNBC commentators made some obvious remarks about how we still have a long way to go…(no kidding.) Let’s cut to the chase—this is GOOD news for America. But, anything that is good for America these days seems to be quite bad for Joe Biden and therefore, the media acts accordingly. I discuss it all in my podcast so please make sure you subscribe for free. Meanwhile–one should be asking: why is the market so fragile, so volatile, and so DOWN given the positive signs in the economy? I’ll tell you why–investors have figured out that we are heading towards a constitutional crisis. Consider the evidence; ·      Hillary Clinton telegraphed through her former communications director in an interview on Showtime’s “The Circus,” that Joe Biden should “not concede no matter what.” That’s a pretty strong statement. She believes the Biden camp needs to fortify itself with lawyers and be prepared to contest the election. ·      Hawkish, a data analytics firm funded by billionaire and Biden supporter Michael Bloomberg, [...]

September 5th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

How Taiwan — with US assistance — can deter China’s overt aggression

© Getty Images Crucial to maintaining peace and stability in East Asia is protecting Taiwan’s thriving democracy. After the enactment of Hong Kong’s National Security Law and subsequent domination of Hong Kong’s democracy by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Chinese government undoubtedly has refocused its rapacious gaze upon democratic Taiwan. As the only functioning Chinese language democracy in the world, Taiwan’s democracy and freedoms pose an existential threat to the CCP’s authoritarian rule over the Chinese people. The United States must stand with democratic Taiwan as it continues to confront China’s efforts to take over the island. Taiwan’s geopolitical importance to the United States stands without question. Enjoying one of the world’s freest societies, Taiwan’s population of approximately 23 million is roughly the same as Australia’s. Taiwan is a world leader in advanced technology, particularly in the semiconductor industry. CCP control of centers of technological excellence, such as Taiwan Semiconductor, would give China an enormous technological boost, potentially resulting in a strategic disaster for the United States. Geographically, Taiwan sits astride one of the busiest trade routes in the world. The government that controls Taiwan also thereby controls Japan’s and the Korean Peninsula’s sea lines of communication. Should China succeed in its designs to take over the island, it would not be surprising to see People’s Liberation Army (PLA) submarine bases spring up in order to deploy submarines into the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean, a move that likely would complicate U.S. Navy efforts to locate them. Taiwan must improve its national security posture. It needs to strengthen its internal security [...]

September 4th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Political Roundup: The Greens’ private school funding scandal

Green Party co-leader James Shaw. Photo / File COMMENT: Was it just a terrible stuff-up? Or a reflection of the political direction the Green Party is shifting in? The announcement this week by co-leader James Shaw that he had secured nearly $12m for a private school has angered educationalists and raised significant questions about the Greens and what they now stand for. The decision to give this huge amount of money to an environmental school in Taranaki is further evidence for many that the Greens have either lost their way, making poor and unprincipled decisions in power, or are simply shifting towards a more "green capitalism" approach. Anger from the education sector In a time of heightened concern about economic inequality and the run-down state of New Zealand schools, the decision to put such a large amount of money into a new for-profit school was always going to be controversial. It's not surprising to see the whole of the public education sector speaking out angrily against Shaw's funding announcement. One of the strongest reactions has come from a decile 2 school in the same area. New Plymouth's Marfell School acting principal, Kealy Warren has written an open letter to the Prime Minister saying: "This action makes the rich richer and says loud and clear that you have little regard for the state school system. You have given to those who already have so much and yet again left us hanging" – see Rachel Sadler's New Plymouth principal writes scathing letter to Jacinda Ardern over 'elitist' funding [...]

September 1st, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The Mystery of The Fort Detrick Laboratory

The global pandemic of coronavirus pneumonia is still in a rage and has caused more than 700,000 deaths and 20 million infected cases, which remains in the peak in most countries, especially in the United States where the daily number of new cases keeps around 50,000. The federal government is literally negligent on necessary measures such as closing communities and increasing testing. The actual and unmentioned herd immunity is being performed, while the Trump Administration is calling to open up economic activities and force schools to open to help the rapidly declining economy and the volatile presidential race. But the anti-open emotion in communities is strong, and the government is in policy difficulty. Who should be responsible for the failure to fight the pandemic? The five former directors of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agreed in an interview with ABC in early August that the government had ignored science and information coming from the administration which is the key reason why the United States is deeply caught in the epidemic crisis. They believe that the responsibility of the leadership is the only and biggest factor. The government failed to prioritize science and make good use of top global scientists in the fields of public health and epidemics. It is necessary to tell the truth to the American people, let scientific evidence show the truth of the COVID-19 to control the pandemic, instead of caring about what is best for political interest. The experts even regarded the Trump administration as an enemy in the [...]

August 31st, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Boris Johnson faces Tory wrath as party slumps in shock poll

Party in despair, senior MP says, as Labour draws level in wake of exam chaos and Covid U-turns The prime minister visiting Castle Rock school in Coalville, Leicestershire, on 26 August. Photograph: Jack Hill/AFP/Getty Images   The recent exams fiasco and other sudden policy reversals, most recently over the wearing of face masks in schools, led many Tory MPs to believe that Johnson and his cabinet ministers have lost their grip. Conservative MPs, including many ex-ministers with extensive experience inside government, are also increasingly angry that their voices and concerns, and those of senior Whitehall officials with many years of service, are being ignored and dismissed as power and decision-making is increasingly centred on a tight but inexperienced group within Downing Street. Today, in a further blow to Conservative morale, a poll by Opinium for the Observer shows Labour is now level-pegging with the Tories for the first time since last summer, before Johnson was leader. In just five months since the full lockdown was imposed by the prime minister, the Conservatives have lost a 26-point lead over Labour who now stand neck-and-neck with the Tories on 40%. The Liberal Democrats under their new leader Ed Davey, who was elected last week, are on 6%. Adam Drummond of Opinium said: “This is the first time Labour have drawn level since July 2019 when both main parties were in freefall and losing votes to the Brexit party and the Liberal Democrats. “Since Boris Johnson became prime minister the Tories typically had a double digit lead, peaking in [...]

August 30th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

A Cold War with China?

The CEO of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft believesAmerica is “sliding seamlessly into the next decades-long era of superpower competition”. And that can only mean one nation: China. Lora Lumpe, the CEO of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, believes the United States is “sliding seamlessly into the next decades-long era of superpower competition”—this time with China. For Washington to fall into another globe-spanning military confrontation would be a strategic blunder of our own making, warned Lumpe in an interview on the national security podcast, Press The Button. “There’s no doubt that we’re in a competitive relationship, but it’s a technological competition,” she said. “It’s not an effort by the Chinese military to exert dominance around the rest of the world.” What’s more, a wide-ranging contest with China “will drain resources away from the real threat, which, as most people acknowledge, is climate chaos.” Instead of leaning into a new Cold War, “what we really need to do is take down the military-industrial complex and clear the way for the green-industrial complex,” urged Lumpe. This won’t be easy, she readily admitted. Tension with China, after all, provides a useful raison d'être for the defense sector at a time when the War on Terror is winding down and the Pentagon budget faces increasing scrutiny. Problem China's J-20 Stealth Fighter Doesn't Have a Gun Even more concerning, the American national security apparatus itself—constructed in the early days of the Cold War and retaining its basic form ever since—is expressly designed for such an armed standoff with Beijing. [...]

August 30th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Covid 19 coronavirus: Experts call for rethink on Auckland’s move to level 2

Professor Shaun Hendy says we need to rethink plans to move Auckland down to alert level 2 on Monday. Photo / Greg Bowker A day before Auckland is due to come out of lockdown, experts are calling for a rethink on the city's Covid-19 restrictions as new cases of the virus across the city show no sign of slowing down. The Ministry of Health reported 13 new cases today including 11 in the community, the highest number for almost two weeks. Auckland University Professor Shaun Hendy, whose modelling has guided the Government's response to date, said ministers should reconsider moving Auckland to alert level 2 on Monday - and if the change still goes ahead, employers should keep workers at home if possible. "If you can work at home, you should continue to do so for the next few weeks," he said. Otago University Professor Michael Baker said Auckland should stay at least at a heightened "level 2.5" with the planned limit of 10 on social gatherings and everyone wearing masks in all indoor spaces outside their own homes. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declined to comment today but is due to confirm alert levels at 1pm tomorrow. Her office said she noted this week that "there was an expectation of additional cases from the cluster". The Ministry of Health said 10 of the 11 new community cases today "are clearly epidemiologically linked to the Auckland cluster". Six cases are associated with the Mt Roskill Evangelical Church – four in the same household and two who attended [...]

August 29th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The Backstory: Our journalists’ top takeaways from the Democratic and Republican conventions

I'm USA TODAY editor-in-chief Nicole Carroll, and this is The Backstory, insights into our biggest stories of the week. If you'd like to get The Backstory in your inbox every week, sign up here. Susan Page has covered 10 presidential elections and all 20 political conventions. At her first in Detroit in 1980, she was such a junior reporter she was assigned to stay in a hotel in Canada. "I had to cross the border twice a day," she says. I asked Page, USA TODAY's Washington bureau chief, for her takeaways from the Democratic and Republican conventions over the past two weeks, Nos. 19 and 20for her. "These are the first conventions I’ve covered from various rooms in my house. Does that still count?" she asks. "The food is better at home, but I miss the serendipity of in-person conventions — the chance to catch the spontaneous reaction of the crowd, like Bernie Sanders’ supporters booing the DNC chair in 2016, and Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama igniting the hall in 2004." The conventions every four years are the Super Bowl for political journalists. As soon as host cities are announced, planning begins. We were ready for Milwaukee(Democrats) and Charlotte (Republicans). Then things changed (President Donald Trump to Jacksonville), then changed again (maybe Gettysburg) and changed again (the White House). Meanwhile, Joe Biden and the Democrats centered on Wilmington, Delaware, with feeds from all states and territories. White House correspondent John Fritze said that usually there is much action off the stage. "Which up-and-comers are addressing the Iowa delegation breakfast? What’s on the minds of the delegates or alternates — the party [...]

August 28th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

We should be free to talk about racism without being penalised

Historian David Olusoga talked of being isolated and devalued in the TV industry. It shouldn’t have to be such an act of courage. ‘David Olusoga’s candour and courage prompted widespread media coverage.’ Photograph: Jack Clark/PA British television is failing us. It’s excluding stories, talent, on and offscreen, and promoting only a “pathetic” number of people from minority-ethnic backgrounds to positions of power. These are not my contemporary thoughts. They’re the verdict of broadcasting chiefs back in 2000, when I was still in my teens. Twenty years ago all Britain’s major broadcasters were together promising to radically improve diversity and representation, to stop the “endless meetings” and to reflect the “plain realities of life”. It was an era when David Olusoga – a man now recognised as one of the best historians and presenters on British TV – found himself, in his own words, “sidelined, dismissed and desperately unhappy”. Giving the MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh TV festival this week, he disclosed that the racism and prejudice he encountered had left him “so isolated and so devalued that I twice slipped into clinical depression”. Olusoga’s candour and courage prompted widespread media coverage. That he described his experience so eloquently on such a prestigious platform was certainly news; yet the content of that experience, for many other minority-ethnic people who work in TV, was not. The subtext was important. Olusoga admitted his reluctance to expose himself so honestly before what he described as “the tribes of television”, because it was a genuine unknown to him if, at the [...]

August 27th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Covid 19 coronavirus: Heather du Plessis-Allan – I no longer trust Government to keep virus out

COMMENT: Can you believe that the Government still isn't doing the day three testing? After all those times they promised us they're testing people coming back into the country twice before they're let into the community, they're still not testing everyone on day three. I couldn't believe my ears when I heard Chris Hipkins admit that in today's 1pm press conference. Mostly, because we've been here before. Mid-June, they were busted not doing the testing when Thelma and Louise left their Auckland hotel without being tested. Following that, the Prime Minister went on her Facebook Live and told us her expectations hadn't been met. But we were assured everyone would now be tested. Twice. Day three and day 12. But fast forward two months and their assurances aren't worth the time we spend listening to them. Still not happening. Now, before they start spinning you that day three tests are not important, yes they are. That's why they assured us that day three tests would be done. Day three tests are important so they can find the people who have Covid and move those people to other quarantine facilities so they're not still mixing with other people in the managed isolation hotel lobbies without face masks – like we're seeing in the pictures - and making them all sick too. Because, by the way, if some of these people get sick just before leaving the hotel and coming into the community, their day 12 tests may not necessarily pick up the Covid which takes 5-6 days [...]

August 26th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Comment | Can a surging economy push Donald Trump to the greatest comeback in history?

COMMENT: Momentum appears to be shifting: The American president can and will boast of a record third-quarter recovery, writes Russell Lynch Donald Trump shared his own novel theory on the origins of coronavirus in a recent Minnesota stump speech to supporters. Forget Wuhan laboratories, or 5G broadband conspiracies: According to the president, "God was testing me." A tongue-in-cheek (one assumes) Trump said the Almighty was punishing him for his hubris in boasting about building "the greatest economy in the history of the world". So one pandemic later "now I have to do it again", he quipped. Just four months ago, when Covid-19 put more than 20 million Americans out of work, the thought of Donald Trump fighting November's election on the economy seemed farcical. Photo / AP Just four months ago, when Covid-19 put more than 20 million Americans out of work, the thought of Trump fighting November's election on the economy seemed farcical. A proud presidential record, including an unemployment rate at a 50-year low of 3.5 per cent, was in tatters.   A brutal April-June quarter saw the world's biggest economy shrink a record 9.4 per cent. But now that picture is changing. A look at the recent data suggests that the "Big Mo" beloved of US politicians is behind him. Suddenly, the bookmakers are shaving their odds on the property mogul becoming the first president since Calvin Coolidge almost a century ago to win a second term in the teeth of a recent recession. Take housing, for example. Even with unemployment at 10.2 [...]

August 26th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Sam Clench: Kimberly Guilfoyle’s speech sums up the 2020 US election

COMMENT: "THEY WANT TO DESTROY THIS COUNTRY AND EVERYTHING THAT WE HAVE FOUGHT FOR AND HOLD DEAR," Kimberly Guilfoyle bellowed. "THEY WANT TO STEAL YOUR LIBERTY, YOUR FREEDOM, THEY WANT TO CONTROL WHAT YOU SEE AND THINK AND BELIEVE, SO THAT THEY CAN CONTROL HOW YOU LIVE. "THEY WANT TO ENSLAVE YOU TO THE WEAK, DEPENDENT, LIBERAL VICTIM IDEOLOGY, TO THE POINT THAT YOU WILL NOT RECOGNISE THIS COUNTRY, OR YOURSELF."   OK, first of all, I want to stress that the whole all-caps thing is not me being facetious. It is my honest attempt at accurately transcribing Guilfoyle's speech at the Republican National Convention today, which was delivered with the volume - and the crazy - cranked up to 12/10. Despite the irreparable damage my eardrums and brain cells have suffered, I have to say, I appreciated the former conservative TV commentator's bluntness. It captured the spirit of this year's election campaign pretty well. Last week, the Democrats spent much of their own convention telling Americans four more years of the Trump presidency would be a threat to their democracy. "Character is on the ballot. Compassion is on the ballot. Decency, science, democracy, they're on the ballot. Who we are as a nation, and most importantly, who we want to be. That's all on the ballot," Joe Biden said in his speech accepting the Democratic Party's nomination. "That's what is at stake right now. Our democracy," former president Barack Obama said the night before. Today, the Republicans got their turn, and they decided to go [...]

August 26th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

To anyone familiar with Thailand, what’s happening is breathtaking

It's a recurring scene in politics through the last century and into the 21st – masses of demonstrators turning out to tear down a president or a prime minister. But mass protests against a king or queen seemed to be a relic, a very 20th-century thing. Until now. Growing numbers of Thais last month started taking to the streets to protest against not only their prime minister but also against their king. The case against a prime minister who seized power in a military coup seems pretty conventional. But a king? King Maha Vajiralongkorn was never popular. CREDIT:BUREAU OF THE ROYAL HOUSEHOLD VIA AP Why are tens of thousands of Thais, in protests that have now spread across most of the country's provinces, risking jail to demand that the Australian-educated King Vajiralongkorn, also styled Rama X, be deprived of his powers and privileges? Especially when we have long heard of the godlike reverence in which the Thai people hold their king. But the old king is dead. Reverence for the quarter-millennium reign of the Chakri dynasty appears largely to have gone with him. Apart from the Thais on the streets, more than 1 million have joined a Facebook group, Royalist Marketplace, to debate the future of the monarchy. To anyone familiar with Thailand, this is breathtaking. There wasn't just a taboo against criticising the monarch, there was – and still is – a 15-year jail term for the crime of lese-majeste. The police have arrested a few of the main organisers and unsuccessfully tried to force [...]

August 25th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Three things President Donald Trump and the GOP need to do at their convention

What Donald Trump needs to do at the Republican National Convention this week is, among other things, to keep it Trumpian. That's not difficult advice for the president to take. Indeed, for four years he has resisted the counsel of others to do anything else – to dial down his provocative tweets, for instance, or to reach out in a serious way to those Americans who didn't vote for him in 2016. That said, there was a reason he won the biggest upset in modern times four years ago – actually, a complicated combination of reasons – and with his current course heading toward defeat, he needs to remind millions of reluctant voters why they backed him in the first place. Trump now trails in national polls by an average of about 8 percentage points and in battleground state surveys by narrower margins. With his support at about 50%, Democratic nominee Joe Biden has the steadiest and strongest standing of any contender challenging an incumbent president at this point in modern times – a lead that is significant but not insurmountable. In the final 10 weeks of the campaign, the GOP's biggest opportunities to change that trajectory are during the four-day convention and in the fall debates. The setting was the message:For Democrats, a stark convention for a stark moment "Trump perceives all elections as base elections, so much of the convention will be about exciting that base and reminding them why they shouldn't abandon him," predicted Nicole Hemmer, a Columbia University historian who has studied the rising conservative movement. "But [...]

August 24th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The persistence of ineffective disaster planning

© Getty Images After five months of “managing” the COVID-19 pandemic, what have we learned? For readers of The Wall Street Journal’s “A Deadly Coronavirus Was Inevitable. Why Was No One Ready?,” for viewers of the recent ABC News Special “American Catastrophe,” or for readers of the recent Johns Hopkins report, “Resetting Our Response,” the answer, sadly, is: nothing. Nothing, that is, that we shouldn’t have known from before day one, nothing that we shouldn’t have anticipated for years before the pandemic exploded. The elements of this catastrophe described at length in those reports — response plans left unexecuted, relegation of the issue to a lesser national security priority, early warnings from experts that were ignored, and muddled messaging that amplified confusion and frustrated a strategic approach — were both foreseeable and foreseen. These fatal defects are not limited, however, to the planning for pandemics discussed in those recent reports; they are intrinsic to the way governments have planned for and responded to a range of emergencies and disasters. The COVID-19 pandemic may seem to have little in common, for example, with the 9/11 terrorist attacks or with Hurricane Katrina. But the responses to these three very different disasters share this fundamental feature: The planning protocols in place prior to the events were abandoned immediately, and for a similar reason. Put simply, the plans the government developed to respond to the events bore little resemblance, in each case, to the way the events actually would be experienced, and thus became immediately irrelevant. The planning in place [...]

August 24th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Covid 19 coronavirus: Columnist blasts NZ’s elimination strategy, claims Kiwis ready to rebel

New Zealand's effort to beat coronavirus is being slammed internationally today, with the plan to stamp it out being likened to childish ambition and lockdown measures reminiscent of an authoritarian regime. Sunday Telegraph columnist Madeline Grant has poured scorn on New Zealand's elimination strategy and the means taken to achieve our low rates of Covid-19 in a scathing article that warns the United Kingdom not to follow suit. Dubbing New Zealand's eradication strategy as a "cautionary tale", the article, which was published on Sunday in the United Kingdom, slates our Government's response as little more than vapid political virtue-signalling. Her claims have been dismissed by a political commentator here as a "beat up" that grossly mischaracterises New Zealand's situation. Aucklanders social distancing at Takapuna Beach as the region lives under Covid-19 level 3 lockdown. Photo / Dean Purcell Grant opines it will only be a matter of time before the public turn against its young, charismatic, female leader Jacinda Ardern, who has enjoyed "fawning media coverage surpassing even the high water-mark of Trudeau-mania". She also believes if New Zealand intends keeping Covid at bay, the country faces years of indefinite isolation, with domestic lockdowns a fixture of life and a loss of Western-style freedoms. "We should be under no illusion- this is no model for New Zealand to follow, let alone a sophisticated global economy like ours. "New Zealand has contained the virus, for now at least, registering the lowest mortality rates in the OECD, but it has taken genuinely draconian policies and great economic pain [...]

August 23rd, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The Guardian view on the US Democrats: Biden seized his moment

This year’s virtual convention gave the party’s presidential nominee an opportunity which he took with skill and stubborn decency. Joe Biden speaking during the Democratic convention. ‘His offer of hope and light is well crafted for such dark times.’ Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters There have never been two campaign gatherings like this week’s US Democratic convention and next week’s Republican one. Stripped to their essentials by the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 conventions cannot match the energy of normal years. Yet the big speech by the presidential candidate at the convention remains a defining campaign moment, and this year is no different. The greater severity imposed by the virtual convention is also appropriate. For this is not a normal US election year. It is one in which the central contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden will define the future of the United States and the world like few others. Because of the constraints, the Democratic convention lacked true razzmatazz. In that respect it was tailor-made for Mr Biden’s decent, stubborn but markedly unexciting political message. And yet the lack of glitz had certain advantages. It meant that the nightly coverage offered to American voters this week was more serious-minded. The televised broadcasts were full of ordinary people’s video accounts of what they are going through as a result of the pandemic, recession and racism. The format also meant that Mr Biden could use his acceptance speech to cut to the chase about the issues at stake in November’s election, rather than play up the rhetoric that would [...]

August 21st, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Democrats must understand that hugs and empathy can’t defeat Trump

Mr Nice Guy Joe Biden looks like he’s no match for a president who has repeatedly shown how low he will go. ‘Tear-jerking speeches informed us that Joe Biden is a nice man.’ Photograph: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images Imissed the balloons, the streamers, the strutting around the stage. I missed the lines carefully calibrated for applause and the veering off-script. I missed the theatricality. But the revolution is now streaming. The pandemic meant the Democratic convention was televised online, in four nights of two-hour party political broadcasts. There was no pizza big enough for this endurance test. The convention felt like a charity marathon without an audience, punctuated with unfunny comedy and sob stories. Tear-jerking speeches informed us that Joe Biden is a nice man. John Legend supplied the light entertainment, John Lewis the heroic archive. What a mishmash it all was. The US is standing on the faultline of a pandemic, a deepening recession and a racial divide, but the convention still subjected us to endless speeches about how great and good the country is. Though all nations sing their own praises, the US tends to do so for longer and with far bigger production values than others. Of course, I am biased: I’ve been to actual conventions and rallies in the US, and am familiar with their grandiosity, their pomp, and their insane security details. You go for the parties and the gossip that, as with Britain’s party conferences, always takes place offstage: the plots, the snubs, the affairs, the desperation. On stage, everything is [...]

August 21st, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Dynamic Joe Biden takes command in making his case to an America in crisis

Our View: Laying out how Donald Trump is a loser against coronavirus and unrest, Democratic nominee appeals to Americans to let him lead. Joe Biden had three main missions Thursday night in his speech accepting the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. The first was to show Americans that despite his age — Biden would be 78 at a swearing in if elected, the oldest president in U.S. history — he has the vigor and mental acuity to lead a nation stricken by twin medical and economic crises. That job was relatively easy in this new age of virtual convention, where Biden only had to read from a teleprompter in an audience-free conference room in Wilmington, Delaware, without any major gaffes. (A heavier lift on the cognitive-agility front awaits late next month, when the presidential debates begin, and in unscripted interviews.) But in this speech, billed as the candidate's biggest in nearly a half-century of politics and a decades-long pursuit of the White House, Biden displayed a command of his material and an emotional dynamism as if he could hear a packed convention hall cheering. 'No miracle is coming' The second challenge was to convince viewers that he could do a better job than President Donald Trump in battling the coronavirus pandemic that has killed nearly 175,000 Americans, shattered the economy and upended everyday life, producing this year's "unconventional" conventions, shorn of balloon drops and delegates in funny costumes. Without referring to Trump by name, the Democratic nominee called out the president for failing to plan or take the virus seriously. "No miracle is coming," Biden said, building a case for [...]

August 21st, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Five takeaways on Bannon’s indictment

Stephen Bannon, President Trump’s former top White House adviser and 2016 campaign chief, was arrested and charged on Thursday for his role in an alleged fundraising fraud. Bannon is accused of helping to funnel money from a charity that was soliciting donations for a privately-built border wall. According to court filings, he allegedly used hundreds of thousands of dollars for personal expenses and to secretly pay the co-founder of the organization We Built The Wall. The charges mark a stunning reversal of fortune for the man who once orchestrated Trump’s improbable election, making him the latest in a series of the president’s allies who have faced criminal charges over the past three years. Here are five takeaways from today’s indictment: Criminal charges are casting a shadow over Team Trump Bannon is the second former White House official and sixth member of the president’s inner circle to face criminal charges, casting a shadow over Trump’s administration and his 2016 campaign. Bannon has been credited with ushering that campaign to a general election victory after taking over as its CEO in August 2016. Paul Manafort, who served as the campaign’s chairman, is serving more than seven years in prison on various fraud charges. Manafort’s deputy on the campaign, Richard Gates, entered a plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller to cooperate with the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Last year, Gates was sentenced to 45 days in jail and three years of probation for his role in Manafort’s fraud schemes. Roger Stone, the longtime Republican operative and former [...]

August 21st, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Poisoning of Putin opponent could test US-Moscow relationship

      The alleged poisoning of a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin this week drew immediate rebukes from U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and will likely serve as another key test for President Trump’s relationship with the autocratic leader. Alexei Navalny, considered the unofficial leader of the Russian opposition and a noted Putin critic, is reportedly in a coma and intensive care after drinking tea laced with poison. The news of his illness was a shocking reminder of Moscow’s brutality and a possible warning that the government is becoming increasingly bold in its actions against the opposition. A senior Trump administration official called the reports “deeply troubling” and said the White House is following the situation closely. The circumstances surrounding the suspected attack on Navalny is still unclear, although poisonings are viewed as a familiar tool used by Putin against opposition figures, said Thomas Pickering, a former senior State Department official and a former ambassador to Russia. “If it were a poisoning, then almost everybody will believe it goes back to Putin,” he said, “and there is a very significant possibility that that is a correct judgement.” Navalny’s spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, wrote on Twitter that this is the second time the opposition figure has suffered a poisoning, the first time occurring while he was in a detention center a year earlier. Both Democrat and Republican lawmakers expressed outrage over the fate of Navalny, a prominent anti-Putin figure who has built a reputation on exposing corruption among Russia’s political elite. They [...]

August 21st, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

How the twin disasters of climate change and Covid-19 could transform our cities

The existential emergencies we face require a wholesale reimagining of how we live, work and play in urban spaces Tower Works, Leeds. ‘We should be using public investment to build a network of new parks with playgrounds and sport and leisure facilities on underdeveloped sites in the city centre.’ Photograph: Paul Leach/Alamy Stock It’s  often been said that we’re living through an unprecedented moment. But in city centres, the coronavirus crisis has merely accelerated trendsthat have been unfolding for some time. In Leeds, where I live, many major banks and building societies, cinemas, shops and department stores declined or disappeared as society shifted online. The pandemic has caused the job market to contract, and many more people are now working from home. But in cities across the country, traditional office spaces have long been shrinking, as technology reduces the need for face-to-face contact and a growing number of self-employed people opt for co-working spaces.Despite the economic boom that some UK cities have experienced in the last 20 years, the centre of Leeds, like many other city centres, has not yet recovered from industrial decline. Vacated banking halls have supplied glamorous homes for bars and restaurants in regeneration areas, and housing has returned to the centre, albeit in the limited form of small apartments and poorly designed student accommodation. But the continuing trend of “meanwhile use” and sprawling ground-level car parks across the city are evidence that supply still exceeds demand. Coronavirus has accelerated these processes, but they aren’t new. Neither is Leeds a novice in dealing [...]

August 18th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Belarusians are speaking as one: Alexander Lukashenko’s time is up

More than a week after a sham election, public rage has not died down   ‘Growing from small night-time proteststo general strikes and the gathering of several hundred thousand peaceful protesters during the day, they are already making Lukashenko squirm.’ Photograph: Yauhen Yerchak/EPA “And what is it, what is it that they want / Centuries despised: those deaf, blind ones? / To be called people.” These words by Janka Kupala, Belarus’s national poet, published in the early 1900s, have come to mind in recent days as protests have rippled through the nation. Twenty-six years after Alexander Lukashenko came to power in the Republic of Belarus’ first and last democratic elections – almost immediately stripping the country of any ambitions to recover its national language, democratic process or historic myths and symbols after more than 70 years under the Soviet yoke – Belarus and Belarusians are seeing for the first time a fighting chance at meaningful politics and civic rights. Make no mistake, a people once described as the “dark, despised ones” (ciomny, pahardžany narod) have crossed a point of no return. Olga Shparaga, a leading Belarusian political philosopher (whom I work alongside at the European College of Liberal Arts), described the emotions of fellow protesters in a phone conversation last Wednesday morning: “People are completely infuriated, ready to go wherever they need. This is not the time to think, but to act.” The protests followed the sham election on 9 August: the election commission gave Lukashenko approximately 80% of the vote when in all likelihood the [...]

August 18th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

China’s Xi Jinping facing widespread opposition in his own party, insider claims

Exclusive: Cai Xia, who has been expelled from the elite Central Party School, says president’s ‘unchecked power’ has made China ‘the enemy of the world’ Transcript: ‘He killed a party and a country’ Cai Xia said Chinese president Xi Jinping’s ‘unchecked power’ had led to the coronavirus crisis. Photograph: Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images A former professor at China’s elite Central Party School has issued an unprecedented rebuke of the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, accusing him of “killing a country” and claiming that many more want out of the ruling Chinese Communist party. Cai Xia, a prominent professor who taught at the school for top officials, was expelled from the party on Monday after an audio recording of remarks she made that were critical of Xi was leaked online in June. The school said in a notice that Cai, a professor at the party school since 1992, had made comments that “damaged the country’s reputation” and were full of “serious political problems”. In her first interview with English-language media since her expulsion, Cai told the Guardian she was “happy to be expelled”. Why is Xi Jinping pitting China against the world? “Under the regime of Xi, the Chinese Communist party is not a force for progress for China. In fact, it is an obstacle to China’s progress,” she said. “I believe I am not the only one who wants to leave this party. More people would like to withdraw or quit this party,” she said. “I had intended to quit the party years ago when there was no [...]

August 18th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The Conversation: Creating a Covid 19 coronavirus vaccine is only the first step

Most countries are awaiting a vaccine to save them from the pandemic. But a viable vaccine needs manufacture and distribution. Photo / 123RF The world is hoping a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine will soon become available. So far, more than 160 candidate vaccines are in development. Some 31 of these have entered human clinical trials. One of them is Russia's "Sputnik V", which was granted approval by the country's health ministry last week. But the World Health Organisation (WHO) and a large number of international experts have urged Russia to conduct more testing to ensure the vaccine's safety before using it. But even if this candidate and others are proven to be safe and effective, developing the vaccine is just the first step. Challenge 1: manufacturing the vaccine The first major challenge after a vaccine is developed is to produce enough of it to start vaccination programmes. One estimate puts global vaccine production capacity at up to 6.4 billion doses per year, though this is based on single-dose influenza vaccines. But some of the Covid-19 vaccines currently in development require two or three injections. This means, if the same technology for Covid-19 vaccines is required as for influenza vaccines, global production is severely reduced. It has been estimated that to achieve sufficient levels of immunity among the global population with a two-dose vaccine, we would need between 12 billion and 15 billion doses – roughly twice the world's current total vaccine manufacturing capacity. Shifting to exclusively manufacture a Covid-19 vaccine will also mean shortages of [...]

August 18th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The Conversation: If we can get groceries under lockdown, we can vote under lockdown

               Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo / Mark Mitchell COMMENT If we can do our grocery shopping under lockdown, we can vote under lockdown too. As much as supermarkets and pharmacies, the general election is an essential service and it must continue. There are ways and means to safely exercise our democratic rights during lockdown. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern left it open at a press conference as to whether the election (currently scheduled for September 19) might be delayed and, if so, to what future date. While such a move is legally possible, it only defers the uncertainty about public safety at the polls. No one can predict whether one month later, for example, will be more or less safe than the scheduled date, or indeed any other reasonable date. Democracy delayed is democracy denied The dissolution of the 52nd parliament was deferred at the last moment on Wednesday until today. No later than seven days after dissolution, the governor-general issues the writ for the next election, including its date. This is all done on the advice of the prime minister, by long-established convention. Under emergency circumstances, it may be wise for the Prime Minister to consult leaders of other parties about the election date – but this is not mandatory. National Party leader Judith Collins has already accused the Prime Minister of a "lack of transparency" over the date. Collins called for a late November election, or even pushing it out to next year. It would be a shame [...]

August 17th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Letters: Elections, shop closures, small business and dictatorship

Checkpoints across Auckland have been stopping traffic leaving the city. Photo / Khalia Strong Letter of the week: Politically motivated Judith Collins' call for the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, not to front media presentations about Covid-19, is clearly politically motivated, and is potentially very dangerous for the whole country in my opinion. It must be called out for what it is. The reason given, that it is inappropriate during the pre-election period, is specious in my view, given the situation of a global pandemic and our recent second outbreak. The true reason appears to be that Collins knows that Ardern is a highly skilled communicator, and fears that this will affect the election and reduce her own chances of success in that election. She is clearly more concerned about that than about the welfare of her fellow citizens. For we all know that it was due in part to the Prime Minister's caring and calming influence in media conferences, each day, that we in New Zealand generally obeyed the lockdown rules, and achieved the great result we did. To propose not having that media presence on a daily basis to inform us simply and clearly of the situation and to allay our fears during the second outbreak, which has now been identified, shows Collins' true colours and her real priorities at this time. Claire Taylor, Parnell Small businesses We have all been exhorted to be fair and be kind. What is fair or kind about forcing the local, butcher, baker, greengrocer etc to close under level [...]

August 16th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Could the Beirut Explosion Be a Turning Point for Lebanon?

Chronic corruption must be rooted out. Demonstrators waved Lebanese flags during protests near the site of the blast at Beirut's port area on Tuesday.Credit...Goran Tomasevic/Reuters The appalling negligence that left more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate sitting for more than six years at Lebanon’s port in Beirut, just waiting to explode, perfectly if tragically encapsulates the official corruption and incompetence in a country where almost everything that can go wrong does go wrong. The huge explosion that resulted last week killed at least 200 people and left 300,000 homeless and a vast landscape of destruction. Beyond the human carnage, the blast also struck a devastating blow at a country already on the brink. A government structure designed decades ago to balance Lebanon’s mosaic of religions and cultures had become a coterie of sectarian cliques more interested in protecting turf than running the country. Exacerbated by the pandemic, the chronic corruption and misrule had brought the economy to ruin. For months now, prices have been soaring. Bread and medicines are in short supply, trash has been piling up, the currency has lost 80 percent of its value since October and a once-glittering middle class has been sinking into poverty and despair. On the day of the explosion, protesters tried to break into the energy ministry to protest daily power cuts, which often limit electricity to a few hours a day. It is no wonder that furious protests erupted, with demonstrators demanding no less than a clean sweep of the country’s ruling elites, up to the president [...]

August 15th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Barry Soper: Lack of contact tracing to blame for new Covid-19 outbreak

COMMENT: It's easy with hindsight to say I told you so. And it gives me no pleasure at all that the country is now facing the prospect of another lockdown, simply because contact tracing wasn't taken seriously. Someone close to the pit face in the Beehive's inner circle fighting Covid-19 confided some time ago that contact tracing was a shemozzle and that another Covid outbreak was inevitable. Even director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said as recently as last week it was not a matter of if, it was a matter of when we'd be hit again. Now we are seeing how a South Auckland family of four, through no fault of their own, inadvertently pulled the trigger on the country after testing positive and we are now all facing the consequences. This could all have been avoided. More than two months ago the Ministry of Health launched a Covid tracer app which on the face of it was simple to use. It was as easy as swiping a supermarket item's barcode across the automatic checkout. ine was downloaded then but going into bars, restaurants and retail outlets it was impossible to find a barcode, or what they call a QR code, to swipe. Few had bothered to put the poster up and reading the feedback to the ministry's website I wasn't alone. One woman said after downloading the app also said there wasn't anywhere she could use it, including her local MP's office! She, like many other users wanting to take responsibility and play their [...]

August 15th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Why Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would be a disastrous duo in the year of George Floyd

America needs a fix to our criminal justice system, not a glaring reminder of who broke it. SAN DIEGO — When campaigning for president, choosing a running mate tells Americans about your priorities, judgment and decision-making. It also tells us whether you’ve been paying attention. We need to know whether you’re in tune with what the country is going through or whether you’re locked away — or quarantined — within your own bubble. President Donald Trump is at a disadvantage. This is not the time for his divisive brand of politics, which pits “us” vs. “them” and drives wedges between groups. This is not the moment to engage in racial politicking, look for scapegoats and stoke fears. Such tactics worked four years ago, and Trump won by encouraging half the country to dislike the other half. But a lot has changed in this country in just the past four months. Given the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department in May, and the pain and destruction it caused, I’ll bet that a lot of Americans have lost their taste for the red meat of racial division. All this would normally be good news for Joe Biden. That is, if the likely Democratic nominee doesn’t botch his pick for vice president. Biden's 1990s crime record If the attack line against Trump is going to be that he is out of step with the moment, then it would be foolish for Democrats to put a presidential ticket that hearkens back to an earlier time. Like the 1990s, when — amid skyrocketing crime [...]

August 14th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Mike Hosking: ‘Covid election’ needs to be delayed if Auckland stays in lockdown

COMMENT: Didn't the week start well? The Warriors had won twice in a row from a lockdown of their own, the Crusaders wrapped up the rugby a week early, and we had the sell-out at Eden Park this weekend. Those were the days when we had sport, crowds and cafes sold you coffee.   By Tuesday that was shattered. A lot was shattered, like the delusion that an elimination strategy can actually work. The big question going forward - and once again one we ask - is, what's our plan? Beyond taking this day by day, and oiling the squeaky wheel with welfare money we don't have, how are we going to face the world? Deal with the world? Be a part of the world? Especially in a world where elimination, short of a vaccine, isn't happening, and we sit isolated with a failed policy. Or are we happy with the way we are doing this? Is this week's disappointment and despondency, not to mention anger and frustration, just the way it is? A couple of months of freedom, then a lockdown. Start your business, stop your business. Do we think we can afford that? Which is why we should also talk about the election. It needs to be delayed if Auckland goes beyond level 3 tonight. Level 2 is hardly the end of the world, but level 3 is no longer a level playing field. Campaigns need to be run, policies released, debates had, questions asked, and examinations conducted. That is how we do it, [...]

August 14th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Covid 19 coronavirus: Genomic tracing used to find source of latest outbreak

Dunedin scientist Jemma Geoghegan says four Covid-19 cases at the centre of the latest outbreak in NZ - at this stage at least - do not seem to be linked to earlier cases in managed isolation or quarantine facilities. Dr Geoghegan is using genomic tracing technology to try to solve the riddle of how the four Auckland family members became infected with Covid-19. It was hard to be definitive, but the viral genomes seemed to be linked with genomes from English data bases on the Sars-cov-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, and checks were continuing with Australian viral genomes. “It's really important that we find the source of this outbreak," she said. As before, the samples are being referred to ESR for genomic sequencing," she said. "It is vital that genomics is part of this response to enable us to track where these cases may have arisen and to estimate the size and number of clusters present. "By comparing the virus genomes from these cases to those from both the quarantine facilities and the global population, we can determine their likely origin and how long they have been circulating in the community." As before, the samples are being referred to ESR for genomic sequencing," she said. "It is vital that genomics is part of this response to enable us to track where these cases may have arisen and to estimate the size and number of clusters present. "By comparing the virus genomes from these cases to those from both the quarantine facilities and the global population, we [...]

August 14th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Covid 19 coronavirus: BusinessNZ boss warns ‘there isn’t really anyone who believes it’s going to only go on for three days’

BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope said businesses were in a weakened state compared to the first lockdown. Photo / Michael Craig BusinessNZ is calling on the Government to reveal more information about the outbreak of Covid-19 in Auckland, with its chief executive warning the lockdown is unlikely to be over this week. "Constraining information right now is probably one of the worst things they can do," Hope, the chief executive of BusinessNZ, told the Herald this morning. Hope added that businesses are weakened by the first lockdown and warned he did not believe the current restrictions would end on Friday. "There isn't really anyone who believes it's going to only go on for three days". On Tuesday night the Government would not say which businesses were potentially impacted by the outbreak, in which at least four people are infected. Hope called for more information to be released. "What we certainly need out of Government is much more information about the situation that we are currently in and how we got there, so that people are aware, particularly in Auckland, people who have been in contact with people who are infected and have been around the businesses," Hope said. "That information needs to be made public ... There are too many people's livelihoods that are at risk to constrain information. The Government needs to be really transparent about what's going on and enable people to be able to respond really quickly." While he acknowledged concerns about privacy, Hope said there was a risk that the situation worsened [...]

August 13th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Winston Peters – Isolation facilities need to be managed with ‘military style precision’

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says the Government needs to get to the bottom of the recent cases of community transmission, which plunged Auckland back into lockdown. Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Peters – who is also the Deputy Prime Minister – said that "everything is on the line". And he's also concerned that some of New Zealand's managed isolation facilities are not up to scratch. He said that their effectiveness needed to be guaranteed – "that means we need military-style precision." The rest of the country will be in level 2 over the same period. Peters said he wants to know that the assurances the Government is being given by those running the facilities "day after day" were, in fact, a reality. "We have to know with precision what we're being told in every area is, in fact, 100 per cent plus operational." Asked about his reaction upon hearing community transmission was back yesterday, he said he was "brassed off". His comments came very soon after Auckland went into level 3 lockdown – where it would stay until at least midnight Friday. Brassed off at the circumstances, he said, adding that the Government needs to know "how it happened" – in regards to the new cases of community transmission. He also called for testing facilities across the country to be improved as well. Peters added that the Ministry of Health needed to make sure that people aren't waiting for hours to get a test and the process was as quick as possible. Meanwhile, he [...]

August 13th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Covid 19 coronavirus: World reacts to New Zealand being 100 days free of community transmission

The world has praised New Zealand's successful efforts at maintaining Covid-19, as the country marked 100 days of no community transmission yesterday. However, media have reported that the country's milestone comes with warnings that the country is becoming too complacent as the pandemic continues to spread across the world. The Ministry of Health said yesterday that there were no new cases of Covid-19 to report. It is the fourth straight day of no new daily cases. In a statement, director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield thanked every person who had been tested. "Achieving 100 days without community transmission is a significant milestone," he said. The Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield during the Covid-19 media update. Photo / Mark Mitchell The statement echoed across the globe, as the world heaped praise on Kiwis, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the New Zealand Government. Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama also congratulated New Zealand on its achievement. "Fiji and New Zealand are now among the only countries on Earth to go 100 days or more without cases of #COVID19 in our communities," he posted on Twitter. "Well done to the New Zealand Government and people - your friends in Fiji have all been rooting for your success." Fiji and New Zealand are now among the only countries on Earth to go 100 days or more without cases of #COVID19in our communities. Well done to the New Zealand Government and people –– your friends in Fiji have all been rooting for your success.https://t.co/VHjbeFkIwZ — Frank Bainimarama (@FijiPM) August 9, 2020 [...]

August 10th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

NZ Election 2020: Labour’s first campaign policy is revamped National policy

And they're off - the Labour Party has declared the election campaign officially underway. Jacinda Ardern kicked things off on Saturday with a policy to help get people back into work, and she's promising 40,000 jobs. But the first of her party's policies for the campaign is just a revamped version of National Party policy. Labour's campaign launch began with kapa haka and a performance from Tami Neilson. Her song 'Big Boss Mama' was fitting because Labour is hinging its hopes for three more years on their big boss mama - Jacinda Ardern. The Labour leader was introduced by her partner and some backhanded compliments. "[She has] drive that sees me getting a bit growly at midnight when Cabinet papers are still being read in bed, it's worse than toast crumbs," Clarke Gayford told the crowd. But forgiven her sins by her very loyal, loved-up followers, lapping up her every word and reflecting on the launch of 2017. "If you'd told me that we would have just completed a term in Government with both New Zealand First and the Greens, I'd assume you'd been watching excessive amounts of Stranger Things on Netflix," Ardern said. But it's round two she's after, and you couldn't miss the pitch. "But for all of that, there is more to do… And still there is more to do… And yet still there is more to do… But still, there is more to do." Luring voters with the first of Labour's campaign promises. "A wage subsidy to help employers hire those on [...]

August 9th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

The Key Reason DC Hates President Trump – It’s a Big Club, and He Ain’t in It…

Something 99% of American voters do not understand.  Congress doesn’t actually write legislation. The last item of legislation written by congress was sometime around the mid 1990’s. Modern legislation is sub-contracted to a segment of operations in DC known as K-Street.  That’s where the lobbyists reside. Lobbyists write the laws; congress sells the laws; lobbyists then pay congress commissions for passing their laws. That’s the modern legislative business in DC. CTH often describes the system with the phrase: “There are Trillions at Stake.” The process of creating legislation is behind that phrase. DC politics is not quite based on the ideas that frame most voter’s reference points. " alt="" aria-hidden="true" /> With people taking notice of DC politics for the first time; and with people not as familiar with the purpose of DC politics; perhaps it is valuable to provide clarity. Most people think when they vote for a federal politician -a House or Senate representative- they are voting for a person who will go to Washington DC and write or enact legislation. This is the old-fashioned “schoolhouse rock” perspective based on decades past. There is not a single person in congress writing legislation or laws. In modern politics not a single member of the House of Representatives or Senator writes a law, or puts pen to paper to write out a legislative construct. This simply doesn’t happen. Over the past several decades a system of constructing legislation has taken over Washington DC that more resembles a business operation than a legislative body. Here’s how it [...]

August 9th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

UK: Teacher fired from school for saying Muhammad was a false prophet

If he had said that Jesus Christ was not the Son of God, would he have been let go? Of course not. In shattered, staggering, dhimmi Britain, we’re all Muslims now. One simply does not say anything negative about the prophet whom everyone accepts and reveres. “Transgender row teacher calls Muhammad a false prophet,” by Liam Rice, ThisIsOxfordshire, August 2, 2020: AN OXFORD teacher who was forced to leave a school for calling a transgender pupil a girl was let go from a second school just months later after he said Muhammad was a false prophet, it can be revealed…. It can now be revealed that Joshua Sutcliffe left The Cherwell School in Oxford and reportedly began teaching at a London school. Mr Sutcliffe says he was then suspended because of comments made in a video he uploaded to YouTube. In the 12-minute video, titled ‘what does the Bible say about false prophets?’, Mr Sutcliffe says Muhammad is a false prophet. “I know this is controversial and I know that people might be offended by what I’m saying but I do it in love and because I want to speak the truth,” he says. “I believe Muhammad is a false prophet, I would suggest that Muslims have a false understanding of God because they’ve been led by a false prophet. “Jesus is the only true prophet because he is God in the flesh, he is the voice of God, he brings true revelation and understanding because he is God. “We have other false prophets in this [...]

August 8th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Trump Lays Out His 6 Promises To Americans For His Second Term

President Donald Trump laid out six initiatives he plans to pursue if he wins a second term on November 3. Trump announced the list during an appearance at the Whirlpool Corporation in Ohio, highlighting the promises he kept from his 2016 campaign while laying out new ones for his next term. Trump’s first promise was to defeat the coronavirus, saying his administration was using all its resources to develop therapies, a vaccine, and medical equipment to limit the spread of the virus. His second promise was he would return the economy to pre-coronavirus levels of success, saying employment would was already on the rise. (EXCLUSIVE REPORT: The Inside Story Of How The Trump Team Is Rebuilding Our Supply Chain Preparedness) Third, he promised to use the gains in America’s medical manufacturing capacity to turn the U.S. into the world’s top producer of medical products such as ventilators and pharmaceuticals. Fourth, Trump promised to rein in U.S. supply chains in other industries as well, ensuring for national security reasons that American companies don’t have to rely on other nations. His fifth promise was to use every tool at his disposal – including tariffs – to bring American manufacturing jobs back to the United States. He took the opportunity to announce new tariffs on Canadian-produced aluminum as well.  His final promise was to always put American workers first. The speech came hours after he signed a “Buy American” executive order aimed at onshoring America’s production chains. White House advisor Peter Navarro, who was present at the signing, praised [...]

August 7th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

BLM Release List of Demands for ‘White People’

This didn’t start with George Floyd, Chanelle Helm insists. Black Lives Matter just updated their list of demands for “white people” to comply with that Helm produced a couple years ago. To make the connection to George Soros a little less conspicuous, they used an independent group as a front. Concerned Citizens DC issued a list. A front group to release the demands George Soros is a little upset with the bad publicity he’s been getting lately. His name keeps coming up every time someone wonders who’s paying for the signs, the gasoline, and the media hype. When BLM put out a list of demands a couple years ago, the whole idea went down in flames so this time, they got a front group to release a polished press release with their real intentions glossed away. We know how they really feel from what Helm put out the last time. “It started 600 years ago when white supremacy was a tool for destruction,” the leader of Louisville, Kentucky’s branch of Black Lives Matter said recently. People of color are simply at “the boiling point of that outrage and frustration.” Chanelle Helm is demanding an end to the “broken system of policing that disproportionately hurts people of color.” If white people haven’t changed their minds in 600 years then its safe to assume that Black Lives Matter hasn’t changed theirs in the past two years. They still want the same things. In 2017 Helm wrote, “Commit to two things: Fighting white supremacy where and how you can [...]

August 7th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Twins’ letters to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: Please let our dad in the country

If Hollywood stars can enter New Zealand, why can't our dad? That's what Tauranga twins Sophia and Michelle Toolen-Hemsley asked Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in heartfelt letters pleading with her to let him into the country. The 10-year-old Kiwi citizens have now spent more than six months away from dad Richard Toolen, who is locked out of the country by the Covid-19 border closures - despite intervention from MP for Tauranga Simon Bridges. "He's my superhero": Tauranga 10-year-old Sophia Toolen-Hemsley with her dad Richard Hemsley. Photo / Supplied The girls lived in London with British and US passport-holding Toolen and mum Kiwi Donna Hemsley. The family had been in the very final stages of permanently moving to New Zealand when the pandemic hit in March. They had put Sophia and Michelle into school in July last year in Tauranga. Toolen stayed back in the UK to run the financial services company he owned in Switzerland. The family then spent Christmas and January together in New Zealand before buying a home in Mt Maunganui. Toolen flew back out to Europe to pack the rest of their belongings and ship it in a container to New Zealand. Having always been able to fly in and out of New Zealand on a tourist visa, his plan was to start his residency visa application once living in the country.

August 6th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Singapore’s prime minister has a message for the US: Don’t choose China confrontation or Asia withdrawal

US President Donald Trump signs a memorandum of defense with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong prior to their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York City, New York, U.S., September 23, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst Key takeaway: Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister of Singapore, worries that Washington’s increasingly tense relationship with Beijing and domestic pressures to reduce its commitments abroad will force US policymakers to choose either a path of “colliding with China” or “deciding that you have no stake in the region and leave us to our own defenses.” In an Atlantic Council Front Page event on July 28, Lee told moderator and co-founder of the Carlyle Group David Rubenstein that his country and other East Asian allies fear a confrontation between China and the United States, but also want to ensure that Washington is able to play its traditional role in the region “and tend to your many interests, and your many friends, and your many investments … Otherwise, a part of the world which has been crucial to you since the Second World War I think may become a problem rather than an asset to you.” Here’s a quick look at what else Lee said on the escalating confrontation between the United States and China in his region, what his country has learned from combating the COVID-19 pandemic, how he views China’s actions in Hong Kong, and his future as Singapore’s leader. 2020 election may not calm US-China conflict A corrosive relationship: Lee acknowledged [...]

August 5th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Sultanate of Sulu asserts Philippine claim to Sabah

THE Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo on Tuesday asserted the Philippine claim to Sabah after the nations’ top diplomats sparred on Twitter over ownership of the Malaysian state. “The people of Sulu have lived on these islands for 600 years and will continue to do so in the centuries to come,” the Sultanate said in a statement. It also said the 35th Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo is being recognized in Portugal, Serbia and Yugoslavia, Ethiopia and Poland, among other countries. The Philippines and Malaysia last week revived a long-standing dispute after Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishamuddin Hussein summoned the Philippine ambassador over his Philippine counterpart’s statement that Sabah is not in Malaysia. Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. kept his position and moved to summon the Malaysian ambassador in Manila. Malaysia has stopped paying cession money worth RM5,300 or about P61,300 a year since 2013,  Malaysian news agency Bermara said in a July 22 report. The Sultanate appealed to the Malaysian government and the international community to settle the conflict  through diplomatic means. “We hope the government of Malaysia understands the plight of the thousands of underprivileged and indigenous families of Sulu, who barely survive in Sabah especially during this pandemic,” according to the statement. “We aspire for an amicable solution to the predicament that affects us all in this region.” The oil-rich state of Sabah, a territory that is part of Malaysia’s northern Borneo, has been a thorny issue between the Philippines and Malaysia for decades. About 200 armed followers of a [...]

August 5th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Majority of Americans approve of deploying federal law enforcement to protect federal buildings

Just 34% disapprove of the policy. A majority of Americans say that sending federal law enforcement to protect federal property under threat from violent protesters is appropriate action, a new Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen shows. In the context of the recent weeks of unrest and violence in Portland, Oregon, 51% of voters said it was "appropriate to deploy federal law enforcement officials to protect federal buildings from protesters," according to the poll. Just 34% of respondents said such measures were not appropriate, while 16% said they were "not sure." The favorable response to the much debated White House policy of sending federal police to assist besieged federal institutions could indicate that the public is growing concerned with the steady procession of sometimes-violent and chaotic demonstrations in Portland and some other American cities. The national survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted Jul. 30 - Aug. 1, 2020 by Scott Rasmussen, a polling veteran. The margin of sampling error is +/- 2.8% for full sample. To see the full demographic cross-tabulations for this polling question, click here. To see the methodology and sample demographics for this polling question, click here.  

August 5th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Poll: 7-in-10 Support Trump Excluding Illegals in Congressional Apportionment

  Win McNamee/Getty Images About 7-in-10 United States registered voters support excluding illegal aliens when it comes to determining representation in Congress, a new poll reveals. A poll by Rasmussen Reports and Just the News Daily finds that voters overwhelmingly support excluding illegal aliens from congressional apportionment counts, which determine how many representatives each state receives in Congress. Last month, Trump signed a memorandum that ensures American citizens receive proper representation in Congress without being minimized by apportionment counts inflated by the illegal alien population. Overall, about 70 percent of all voters said they support excluding illegal aliens from such counts — including nearly 30 percent who want only citizens counted. Less than a quarter said they want illegal aliens included in the counts.   Across party and racial lines, Trump’s decision is hugely popular. About 72 percent of white Americans, 67 percent of black Americans, and 57 percent of Hispanic Americans said they supported counting either only citizens or citizens and legal residents when determining congressional representation for the states. A majority of Republican voters, 52 percent, said they support counting only citizens in the counts, while 57 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of swing voters said they support excluding illegal aliens. Liberals are the most likely of any group to say illegal aliens should be counted in congressional apportionment counts, while conservatives are the most likely to want only citizens counted. About 43 percent of liberals said illegal aliens should be counted. Conservatives, on the other hand, said by a 53 percent majority that only citizens [...]

August 4th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

NZ election 2020 electorate changes: Adjusted boundaries, new names

Many New Zealanders will find themselves voting in a different electorate at this year's election as a result of the country's growing population. A recent review found the population in each electorate has grown since 2014 and as some have grown at a greater rate than others, changes to boundaries have been needed. Regularly adjusting the electorate boundaries makes sure each electorate has about the same number of people. Thirty-six electorates are unchanged, 30 general and five Māori electorates have been adjusted and one new electorate has been created in south Auckland. Originally proposed as Flat Bush, the new electorate's name will be Takanini. The Representation Commission, which has set the official electorate boundaries for the next two elections, has made changes mainly in Auckland, Waikato, Christchurch, Otago and Southland, with 7 percent of the population in a different electorate to 2017. Most of the boundary changes were signalled in the proposed electorates report published in November 2019, when it was confirmed that there will be a new electorate resulting in one fewer list seats in Parliament than at the 2017 election. When the Representation Commission proposed Flat Bush it received 22 objections, with some objecting to the name, suggesting alternatives such as Takanini, Flat Bush-Takanini, Manukau South, Manurewa East, Totara and Totara Park - but Takanini has won the crown. The number of electorates will increase from 71 to 72, meaning in a 120-seat Parliament - excluding any overhang - there will be 72 electorate and 48 list seats. Each electorate must not exceed 5 [...]

August 4th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Democrats Urging Biden Not To Debate Trump

Democrats around the country have begun to pressure the Biden campaign to call off all debates with Donald Trump due to the coronavirus pandemic, they say. In truth, the reason they don’t want Biden to debate Trump is that they don’t think Trump will play by their rules. The president would take over the debate and make it about what he wants, not what Biden wants. Democrats are also worried about Biden’s mental stamina and his ability to remain engaged for an hour and a half during a debate. Newsweek: Democratic strategists and supporters of Vice President Joe Biden are urging him not to debate President Donald Trump in the lead-up to Election Day, citing Trump’s publicity stunts and disregard for the rules in 2016. Meanwhile Biden backers, including some conservatives, applauded the University of Notre Dame and the University of Michigan for cancelling their scheduled debates over COVID-19 concerns. Former White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart joined several Democratic Party strategists in bluntly advising Biden, “whatever you do, don’t debate Trump.” Speaking on CNN Saturday, Lockhart said Trump shouldn’t be given another platform which will enable him to “repeat lies,” which he said occurred in the 2016 debates against Hillary Clinton. Trump has a knack for exaggeration and hyperbole that Democrats don’t like. It’s very effective in debates and Biden would spend most of his time on the defensive. Trump has a knack for exaggeration and hyperbole that Democrats don’t like. It’s very effective in debates and Biden would spend most of his time on [...]

August 2nd, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Is This the Beginning of a New Cold War With China?

The clash between Washington and Beijing could be the start of a new ideological confrontation—or the inevitable fallout from a power transition. Policemen march in front of the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, China on July 26. The Chengdu mission was ordered shut in retaliation for the forced closure of Beijing's consulate in Houston, Texas. NOEL CELIS/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES Matthew Kroenig: Hi, Emma. Is it really almost August? Usually Washington, D.C., would be slowing down for summer this time of year, but things seem as busy as ever. Emma Ashford: We’re around day 30 of a heat wave, so is it any wonder everyone is staying inside? Another change from the average summer: Unlike most election years, there won’t be any big party conventions. When Joe Biden finally decides on his choice for vice president, I guess we’ll learn about it on Zoom? MK: He was recently photographed holding notes with bullet points about Kamala Harris, increasing speculation that the California senator will be the pick. Guessing the next VP makes for a fun parlor game, but the running mate doesn’t usually matter much in elections beyond their home state, and the leading candidates are mostly from places like California and Massachusetts or Washington, D.C., that are already safely in the Democrats’ camp. EA: I doubt this election is going to ride on the VP choice! There’s just too much else going on. But from the point of foreign policy, it’s hard to know what to think about the two supposed top choices. Susan Rice might [...]

August 1st, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

‘Total failure’: Government defends charging some returnees for quarantine

A new law to charge some Kiwi returnees will recoup not even 2 per cent of the $0.5 billion cost of the managed isolation operation. National has slammed the legislation as a "failure" and NZ First has called it "dreadful public policy" but Housing Minister Megan Woods has said it is "absolutely critical". She told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking today that introducing a flat fee of $3000 for every returnee was "not that simple". She said no one was mooting a system that did not accommodate waivers or exemptions. If we did that we would have made ourselves so vulnerable to a judicial review on the basis that it was unreasonable. The Government could then be forced to re-make the decision. "I am not prepared as the minister in charge of this to introduce anything that undermines the stability or the ability to do long-term contracting around these facilities." Hosking told Woods he had been advised that the Government was paying $410 a night for a room at the JetPark Hotel in Auckland - when the normal rate was $90. Woods said she did not know the specific numbers for that hotel, but that the cost would include paying for security and the presence of police and the Defence Force. "We have negotiated good rates," she said. The new bill sets out a co-payment scheme for Kiwis coming home for a trip shorter than 90 days or those who leave after the law comes into effect. It will be rushed through Parliament under urgency, meaning by [...]

July 30th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Iran’s Regime Disgraceful Act in Handing Over Island to China: Sign of Mullahs’ Desperation and Deadlock

Reports from Iran indicate the regime is handing over some Iranian islands to China in an unpatriotic 25–year agreement. This is a desperate move by a regime which is reaching its end and trying to hold its grasp on power at any cost. The regime is handing the Kish island to China in exchange for military, regional and international support. Particularly, the mullahs’ regime fears the upcoming decision of the United Nations Security Council over an extension of the arms embargo on the regime.   Meanwhile, the regime has not disclosed the details of this agreement, because it fears that this unpatriotic agreement could trigger protests by the Iranian people, who are grappling with poverty and the COVID-19 crisis while the regime auctions their wealth, and the regime is unable to control a possible uprising.  The regime has never stopped its relations with China. At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the regime was the only government that continued its flights from and to China. The Mahan Air airline, which is affiliated to the regime’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), continued transferring Chinese passengers, prioritizing economic goals over the Iranian people’s lives. There were numerous protests to this action. Therefore, fearing an uprising, the regime was forced to stop its flights or at least pretend it had for a very short period of time.   The Oil Price website, in an article on July 6, 2020, wrote: “Last week, the Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei] agreed to the extension of the existing deal to include new military elements that were proposed by the same senior figures in the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] and the intelligence services that proposed the original deal, and this will involve complete aerial and naval military co-operation between Iran [...]

July 28th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Inside Iran’s crumbling economy, increasing prices and housing crisis!

Shahrokh Tavakoli July 27, 2020 Iran’s failing economy and the unprecedented fall of its national currency has further aggravated the living conditions of most Iranians. According to Hesam Oghbaie, the Vice President of the Real Estate Advisors Union, Tehran residents can no longer afford rent due to the country’s 30% inflation. Speaking to state-run media, Oghbaie said that many tenants who lived in northern Tehran in affluent neighborhoods have relocated to the center of Tehran. Those who lived in the middle of Tehran, relocated to poorer neighborhoods in southern Tehran.  Residents of southern Tehran have now moved to the outskirts of the capital, most likely in slums.   According to Khabar Online website, around 15-20% of the population of tenets were forced to relocate. State-run media also reported that families were now living two to a house to lessen the burden of rent. However, Oghbaie denied this report because according to Islam, “those who are not mahram with each other cannot live under one roof.” His reaction angered many people who accused him of being concerned with Sharia more than the poverty that is crushing Iranians under its weight. The cost of almost everything in Iran, from rent and home prices, to chicken, eggs, and home appliances has greatly increased. Iranians say that products that have not increased in price have lost their quality. A state-run daily said that even the price of “rooftop sleeping” in Tehran’s Region 22 has doubled since last year, increasing from 25,000 tomans to 50,000 a night. Sleeping on rooftops, near cemeteries, and [...]

July 28th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Global warming’s impact: Not worst-case but still deadly, if we don’t act

Climate change is real, caused by human activity and a serious problem that needs to be addressed. In a new study published last week, which one of us helped author, we’ve gotten a better understanding of exactly how serious. The good news is that some of the worst-case scenarios seem a bit less likely than before. The bad news is that it's clearer than ever that warming will not be mild or modest in a world where we fail to cut emissions rapidly. Climate scientists have been trying to narrow down how, exactly, the climate will respond to increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) for well over a century. We call this “climate sensitivity” — in essence, how sensitive the climate is to our emissions. In 1979 a major report suggested that global surface temperatures would ultimately rise somewhere between 2.7 and 9.1 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 and 4.5 degrees Celsius) if the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere was doubled. Thirty-five years later, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gave the same range in their most recent assessment report. A four-year effort led by 25 experts in the field has finally been able to give us a better understanding of how sensitive the climate actually is. By combining lines of evidence from physics-based studies, historical temperature records and records from the Earth’s more distant past — such as during the last ice age — we find that if the amount of CO2 doubles in the atmosphere, the world will likely warm between 4.7F and 7F (2.6C and [...]

July 28th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Australia should yield neither to Xi nor Trump

The Trump administration has invited Australia and all the countries of the free world to join a great campaign. Including, quite possibly, a war. Top US officials have given a series of stern speeches on China, culminating in a battle cry for freedom by the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, late last week: "Today China is increasingly authoritarian at home, and more aggressive in its hostility to freedom everywhere else. And President Trump has said: enough." US-China relations have plunged since Donald Trump and Xi Jinping met at the G20 in June last year.CREDIT:THE NEW YORK TIMES The speech was designed to be a historic one. Pompeo delivered it at the birthplace and library of Richard Nixon, the former president. It was Nixon who began the era of US engagement with China in 1972. The point of Pompeo's speech was to end it. "If we want to have a free 21st century, and not the Chinese century of which Xi Jinping dreams, the old paradigm of blind engagement with China simply won't get it done. We must not continue it and we must not return to it." He offered US policy on the South China Sea as an example: "We reversed, two weeks ago, eight years of cheek-turning with respect to international law in the South China Sea." It was a reference to a US statement that rejected as "unlawful" China's claims to huge swathes of the sea. Pompeo called for action. He didn't explicitly call for the overthrow of the Chinese Communist Party's rule. The [...]

July 28th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Philippine Embassy welcomes Anti -Terrorism Law

The Embassy welcomes the gatherings with reference to Philippine Republic Act (RA) 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). The Philippine Government remains committed to the exercise of our freedoms guaranteed under Philippine national legal frameworks and international law. Likewise, The Embassy sees this as an opportunity to be able to explain the facts fundamental to this issue. While Southeast Asia in general has been grappling with terrorism, the Philippines has been among the countries most affected by this menace. It has struggled with terrorism for decades and multiple elements are even taking advantage of this pandemic to sow terror. Threats originate, among others, not only from • the Maute Group a.k.a. the Islamic State of Lanao; • the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) linked before with Al-Qaeda, now to Islamic State; • pro-IS Bangsamoro Freedom Fighters (BIFF); • external extremist networks themselves like ISIS and the Southeast Asian terror group, Jemaah Islamiyah; but also from • the New People’s Army (NPA) of the Communist Party of the Philippines, National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF) which is listed as a terrorist organisation by the US, EU, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. It is apparent that quick fixes will not work. The Government, which has the duty to protect the security and integrity of the nation and safeguard its citizens from savagery and ruthlessness a more long-term, comprehensive and integrated strategy in countering violent extremism (CVE). The ATA aims to protect life, liberty, and property from domestic and foreign terror attacks deemed as “inimical and dangerous to the national security [...]

July 28th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Deteriorating relations with China put US companies on edge

American businesses are wary of the growing animosity between the U.S. and China, particularly as Trump administration officials are starting to name and shame companies they see as bowing to Beijing. The business community is closely tracking speeches and other public remarks from officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and they’re increasingly concerned over rhetoric in recent weeks that paints China as the number one national security threat to the U.S. But firms aren’t making any quick moves to exit the world’s second-largest economy. While the global COVID-19 pandemic has prompted some businesses to seek additional supply chains elsewhere, they’re still hopeful Washington and Beijing will find a way to patch things up. “In general, American companies oppose the Trump administration’s views on China,” said Shaun Rein, founder of the China Market Research Group. “They make a lot of money here, they don’t want to leave. The only time they want to leave is to duplicate supply chains.” Administration officials, however, are putting public pressure on several high-profile companies by characterizing competition between the two countries as an ideological battle for the future of the free world. In doing so, they have pointedly attacked American companies doing business with China. “In Hollywood, not too far from here – the epicenter of American creative freedom, and self-appointed arbiters of social justice – self-censors even the most mildly unfavorable reference to China,” Pompeo said Thursday during a speech in California. Attorney General William Barr, in remarks delivered in Michigan on July 16, singled out Disney, saying failure [...]

July 27th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Pandemic has exposed weaknesses in our economy… and society

For decades we rolled along, loosening up our economy, deregulating workplace laws, privatising services and hooking ourselves into global capital flows and supply chains. Good times followed. True, we took some body blows in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2008 but quick action by the Rudd government staved off recession, something that many countries in the northern hemisphere could not avoid. People queue outside Centrelink in Melbourne in March.CREDIT:GETTY IMAGES So we kept going, counting on what had worked before to keep working. Politically, most of us bought into the Coalition's high-decibel campaigning against increased levels of public debt and budget deficits and voted for three different Liberal leaders at three successive elections to get us back into surplus. This was what we wanted. But the model that we'd installed wasn't exactly running like the clappers. Sure, at the start of 2020 the federal budget looked like moving into the black – just – but wages were stagnant, productivity growth was sluggish, and the economy was just ticking over. Then came the pandemic and everything that had been treated as gospel on the budget front for the previous 20 years went out the window. In the space of a mere four months, just to keep our economy going and our society together, the government has run up a bill that will take 30 years to pay off – if everything goes well. Illustration: Jim PavlidisCREDIT: Anybody who tells you that we can get things back to "normal" in the medium term at the [...]

July 27th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Trump’s Nakedly Political Pandemic Pivot

President Trump during a news conference at the White House on Wednesday.Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times After mocking people for wearing masks, refusing to publicly wear one himself and holding rallies and gatherings where social distancing was not required, President Trump has shifted his tone. He has canceled his convention activities in Jacksonville, Fla., after moving the events from North Carolina when that state’s governor raised public health concerns about such a large indoor gathering. He has resumed briefings, ostensibly about the coronavirus, after canceling them and trying to move on to other matters, as if the virus would simply vanish if he sufficiently ignored it. Trump is in real trouble. With the election passing the 100-day-away milestone, he is down in the polls, people don’t trust or approve of his handling of the pandemic and he faces a real uphill battle to re-election. Apparently, the reality of his dire straits has begun to pierce his inner circle of perpetual affirmation. There is a reality lurking that can’t be lied away. If the election were held today, he wouldn’t win. But Trump is a political chameleon: He can alter himself to suit his environment, to reflect it. He may not be fond of apologies, but he is open to course reversal, for survival. Indeed, that is the maleficent marvel of it all: He has changed his position to the opposite of what it once was and argued that the new direction is the one he’s always embraced. Only a person with an utter contempt for the [...]

July 27th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

If the second wave hits Sydney, let’s cut to the chase on masks

troubling week in the life of Sydney Town. Every day we look to what is happening south of the Murray with the COVID crisis, and see a second wave that looks suspiciously like the one we saw in the Poseidon Adventure, wondering if it will indeed crash on our shores too. So far, the results have been nothing less than remarkable. While their rate of new infections has been in the 300s and 400s daily, in NSW we have kept it to somewhere between a mere handful, and four hands at most. Can that last? Perhaps, if we work towards it. Masks should be part of the solution if things get worse in Sydney.CREDIT:GETTY But if that second wave does hit, can I make a plea for the bleeding obvious, and suggest we avoid the palava that Victoria is going through right now when it comes to masks? Let’s just make them mandatory early, and get on with it. Yes, the likes of Alan Jones will scream loudly and carry on about “alarmism”, “infringement of rights” and all the rest, but that is just a beautiful bonus. Let’s just, as a population, accept the stark staring facts. 1. The coronavirus is deadly serious. 2. No one wants to go back into full lockdown. 3. The mild hassle of wearing masks diminishes the rate of infection, and makes it possible for life to go on in rough resemblance to the way it was. Any questions? Yes, yes, yes, I know, but I am ignoring the squawking and [...]

July 26th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Ben Shapiro: America Is Hitting the Self-Destruct Button

  The American flag swirls in the wind. (Photo credit: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)   On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal released the results of a poll performed in conjunction with NBC News. The poll found that 56 percent of Americans believe American society is racist. Seventy-one percent believe race relations are either very or fairly bad. Most troubling, 65 percent of black Americans say that racial discrimination is built into American society, “including into our policies and institutions.” The notion that America is systemically racist bodes ill for the future. It’s also a dramatic lie. American history is replete with racism; racism was indeed the root of systems ranging from slavery to Jim Crow. But the story of America is the story of the cashing of Martin Luther King Jr.’s promissory note: the fulfillment of the pledge of the Declaration of Independence to treat all men equally, to grant them protection of their inalienable natural rights. America has worked to extirpate the nearly universal sin of bigotry in pursuit of the fulfillment of the declaration. The story of America is 1776, not 1619; it’s Abraham Lincoln, not John C. Calhoun; it’s Martin Luther King Jr., not Robin DiAngelo. It is particularly true today that American society does not deserve the scorn being heaped upon her head. American society is decidedly not racist: According to Swedish economists from World Values, America is one of the most racially tolerant countries on Earth. American law has banned discrimination on race for two generations and more than half a century; in fact, the only racially [...]

July 26th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

‘I was devastated’: Trump reflects on becoming President

Washington: Donald Trump has suggested that he was "devastated" when he won the US presidency because he had such a great life before entering the White House. With just over 100 days before the US election, Trump has given a glimpse of how things were better for him before he won the election, noting that the best day of his life was the one before he announced he was running for office. Trump said that, before he became President, he "was in so many rap songs".CREDIT:BLOOMBERG "I love doing it [being President] but there was this phoney deal, that I was devastated when I won because I couldn't have my life. I had a great life, I did," he said, in a candid interview with American sports and pop culture blog Barstool Sports. "The best day of my life in terms of business, and life, and everything, was the day before I announced I was running for president. Everything was good. The company was good, I had finished up a lot of jobs that were very successful. And then I said I want to do this. I’m really glad I did but I was treated very unfairly, with fake Russia. Russia, Russia, Russia, and Ukraine, Ukraine - all fake stuff. It’s a very vicious business." The interview with Barstool’s president David Portnoy took place on the grounds of the White House and provides an insight into the President’s views of life before the Oval Office. Before taking on the job, he claimed, "I was in so [...]

July 25th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

U.S. policies are pushing our friends in China toward anti-American nationalism

A man walks past a video screen showing Chinese President Xi Jinping speaking in Beijing on June 30. (Mark Schiefelbein/AP) The “Rabbit Chairman” is the author of a popular Chinese blog with 1.5 million readers. He is one of several influential Chinese bloggers I knew when they were students. In one of his recent posts, the Chairman quoted Sun Tzu, the famous war strategist — “If you know yourself and know your enemy, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles” — to explain how Americans are losing their conflict against China because we don’t “know the enemy.” The Rabbit Chairman argues that the United States lost the war in Vietnam because many Americans mistakenly thought the North Vietnamese were old-fashioned communists. In fact, after they took power and were responsible for governing the country, they became nationalists. U.S. officials are now attacking the Chinese Communist Party — and reportedly weighing a sweeping travel ban against members — without realizing its complexity and diversity. It is no longer the party that exemplifies the communist goals of Stalin or Mao. After Deng Xiaoping came to power in 1978, the party was transformed into an organization to represent the nation. The Party includes people who have been pro-American, including business people, scientists and intellectuals. But when Americans attack the Communist Party as a whole, members — particularly those who would like to see more democratic procedures — rally to support the Party and, by extension, the nation. In the half century since I became a professor [...]

July 24th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Trump’s China policy has no strategy — except to boost his reelection campaign

A FedEx employee removes a box from the Chinese consulate in Houston on Thursday. (David J. Phillip/AP) THE UNITED STATES should be leading democratic nations in resisting China’s tightening totalitarianism and escalating belligerence. Instead, President Trump is pursuing a reckless, incoherent and unilateral offensive against Beijing that appears designed to boost his reelection campaign, not manage the complicated challenge posed by the regime of Xi Jinping. The State Department’s abrupt order shutting down the Chinese Consulate in Houston this week is a case study in Mr. Trump’s counterproductivity. It will inevitably lead to the permanent closure of a comparable U.S. mission in China — probably in Wuhan, where the covid-19 epidemic originated. That will reduce channels of communication and diminish U.S. understanding of China’s domestic situation, while doing next to nothing to address the offensive activities of the Xi regime, from its crackdown in Hong Kong to its attempts to spy on Americans and steal U.S. technology. U.S. officials are describing the Houston consulate as a nest of espionage activities, though they have offered no evidence to back that up. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo portrayed the closure as sending a message: “We are setting out clear expectations for how the Chinese Communist Party is going to behave, and when they don’t, we’re going to take actions that protect the American people, protect our security, our national security, and also protect our economy and jobs.” That’s good campaign rhetoric — but closing consulates won’t accomplish those aims. Most Chinese hacking and spying is directed from China, not [...]

July 24th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Operation Legend

President Trump is expanding Operation Legend --surging Federal law enforcement to communities plagued with violence and crime. This effort will help restore peace and protect Americans. However, Democrats are moving a step beyond national debate over defunding the police, questioning whether crime is a bad thing at all. During the past month, three leading Democrats have all issued statements blessing criminal acts. Instead of focusing on keeping Chicago citizens safe, mayor Lightfoot is attacking POTUS for his commitment to restoring law and order. It's time left wing mayors stop turning their backs on law enforcement and start protecting their communities. Portland mayor even joins violent "protest ", booed by protesters, tear gassed by Feds. People have surrounded the mayor, cursing him and calling for resignation.

July 24th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

We are in Deep Crisis

    145 000 dead #Coronavirus out of control 11% Unemployment #RussianBounties on US troops #Russia trying to steal #COVID19 US vaccine data. #Trump? Playing golf. But please... ... give us more conspiracy theory stories to defend #Trump We are in worst crisis since 1929 recession, but, few people realize this situation. The society is divided into the left and the right, and fight each other in the streets.

July 22nd, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

A Filipina in New Zealand

I am Marivic Abrera Murray. I was born on November 10, 1976 in Brgy. II Pasig Daet, Camarines Norte in the Philippines. I attended my primary finishing at Top 1 at Abaño Pilot Elementary School. They say primary schooling is the best year for any school kid, but I reckon nothing really beats high school! I graduated my secondary (with honours) not without it’s fair share of teenage struggles. Camarines Norte National High School is where I started to form friendship from schoolmates, batchmates and even teachers. Those pink and blue dresses and slightly curled hair at JS Proms are all but vivid! With the help of my siblings, I completed my tertiary education (achieved with honours) with a degree of Bachelor of Secondary Education Major in English from Mabini College. Straight after college I became one of the pioneer Academic Instructors of AMA-CLC in Daet Camarines Norte. Not long after my first job, I met and married a New Zealander and moved to New Zealand in 2001 and started a family. I now have 2 children, Maria Victoria 18yo and Vaughn Mitchell 13yo. I stopped pursuing my career in teaching as I find it tedious to be taking home work and looking after children at the same time hence a career in sales/retail became a convenience. I am the current President of the UragoNZ, a Bicolano organization in NZ and also an active Management Committee Member of The Filipino Society Inc. in Auckland where Welfare, Media and Public Information are in my portfolios. My amazing [...]

July 16th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

India’s Hideous Behavior and Hegemonic Evil in the Pandemic

According to Indian media reports, the Indian Supreme Court on June 3 rejected an application for changing the country name of India. It was earlier applied to change India's country name India to Bharat or Hindustan, on the grounds that the word India is derived from a foreign language, and the above two names are more reflective of Indian historical traditions. Over the past two months, 40,000 people have starved to death in India. As of June 10, more than 270,000 people in India have been infected with the coronavirus, ranking fifth in the world. More than 7,700 people have died. Although Indian Prime Minister Modi ordered the implementation of a national lockdown at the end of March, the pandemic has not only been brought under control, but also has deteriorated, moving towards an uncontrollable situation. Under this circumstance, some people still have the mood to take care of the country's name. It was the populism that put Modi to the state power. Indian government declared in August last year canceling the unique status of the Indian-controlled Kashmir, while the troops were increased on the border between India and Pakistan, and India imposed military control on the Indian-controlled Kashmir, cutting off the traffic with outside world and even the Internet. It was criticized as "Kashmir is back in the Stone Age." At a webinar entitled "Indian Malevolence and Regional Peace" held in Pakistan in early June, participants unanimously condemned India's brutal human rights abuses against Kashmir during the pandemic. A Pakistani general highlighted in his speech [...]

July 9th, 2020|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments