Middle East Changes

Written By: - Date published: 1:58 pm, August 27th, 2017 - 70 comments
Categories: afghanistan, International, iraq, jacinda ardern, labour, Syria, us politics, war - Tags:

Interesting to hear Jacinda Ardern is highly sceptical of further New Zealand troop deployments. And good to hear her confirming that she would be guided by United Nations mandating before doing so.

Advice from the United Nations will be needed reasonably shortly, as ISIS appears territorially on the run.

Are we beginning to see some dust clear in the middle of the Middle East? With the Syrian civil war  winding down, and Islamic State reduced to much smaller collectives along the banks of the Euphrates, it could feel slightly worse than it has been.

Syria

In the immediate aftermath of the Islamic State’s defeat in eastern Syria, the emerging winners will be the existing Syrian regime and its Iranian ally. For the cost, see here.

Actual prospects for Syria? Needs a decades-long state partner to rebuild itself, at least in the major cities and coast. And in the meantime, needs the rest of the world to take care of its people because much of the cities and towns are in ruins.

The Kurds

The ongoing Syrian arrangement with the Kurds in cities like Raqqa and Manbij is temporary at best and will eventually break down, causing continued instability and uncertainty in the region. Regrettably, I think the United States will eventually abandon its temporary Kurdish friends. The United States influence in Syria relies on the People’s Protection Units (YPG), with close ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). PKK are at war with Turkey. Turkey is a NATO partner. But YPG rules much of northern Syria, and is a major U.S. military partner against the Islamic State. Yet if Islamic State becomes sufficiently degraded as they appear to be, I think the U.S. will lose interest in supporting YPG. I don’t think it will be quick, but that’s the mean summarised logic.

Iran

The counter argument is that the YPG gives the United States proxy influence in Syria, which in turn gives them some limited leverage against Iran. Iran, on the other hand, is motivated to expand and solidify their influence by encouraging the Syrian government to continue pushing the YPG back into northern Iraq. So far, Iran is winning, and the only home for the Kurds is a semi-autonomous region inside Iraq. Iran, now less shackled by sanctions and better globally integrated, will flourish in its manufacturing, agricultural and non-oil sectors.

Turkey

Bathe me in the tears of Ataturk. The United States faces the task of reviving a very difficult relationship with a vital NATO partner, run by a near-tyrant. U.S. leaders are meeting there this week with Erdogan.

The consequences of Erdogan’s comprehensive civil society purges after the near-coup have a trajectory that is exceedingly dark socially. Economically, the E.U. may expand a customs union agreement into one that includes agriculture, thereby strengthening prospects. Who knows, maybe the BREXIT divorce will help EU-Turkey relations. Erdogan still faces re-election in 2019.

The United States

President Trump’s administration is weighing four competing priorities: minimising open-ended commitments abroad, repairing its strained alliance with Turkey, protecting against jihadi resurgence, and countering Iranian and Russian influence. Meaning: continue Obama’s work. On balance I don’t see the U.S. wanting to strengthen any one people against either Turkey, Iran, or from inside Iraq. It’s functionally a slow withdrawal. In most places you look west of Afghanistan, the weakened role of the United States gets weaker. With exceptions.

Under Trump I see a better chance that the United States and Russia will accept that there has been little gained by intensifying conflicts in proxy wars, which simply unleash the very chaos and sectarianism from which terrorism is born and on which it thrives. I hope they pull back from everyone else’s business unless U.N. mandated, accept the changes in influence that they each now have, and settle into the new diplomatic order in which Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran sort more things out between each other.

Jihadism in general?

The Islamic State, which has been around in one form or another since 2006, will almost certainly survive. So will al Qaeda. Neither will swallow the other, neither will unify into something greater. And they won’t apologise either. The conflicts they foment will be degraded not deleted.

As for the Islamic State specifically, while it will be defeated comprehensively on the battlefield, its ideology remains strong online. It is a foreseeably chronic disease to the wider world.

The United Nations is going to get called upon to hold Syrian postwar conferences, but the international invasions over so many years will mean rejection of imposed plans. For a tiny country like New Zealand, I hope a future government will simply build schools and water supplies, not send troops.

Hundreds of thousands dead in Syria, and multiple millions of its population scattered to the wind. Same in Iraq. But there’s currently less dust in the air.

70 comments on “Middle East Changes ”

  1. Agora 1

    What was that about fools rushing in where angels fear to tread ?

  2. Exkiwiforces 2

    New Zealand should stay out of the shit fight called the Middle East Region full stop and concentrate in the South Pacific Region, the Souther Ocean, the South East Asia Region or help those Commonwealth Nations in Africa.

    One only needs to talk us veterans of the MER or read about Irish Army or the Fijian Army operations in and round Beruit about the problems of operating in MER.

  3. The US has a few other problems:

    1. It’s finding that it can’t project power the way it thought it could
    2. China is getting very aggressive in their push for territorial acquisition
    3. Russia has pretty much told them to go fuck themselves
    4. Syria and Iran’s relationship with Russia has pretty much stopped the US plans for taking all the resources from the ME
    5. The rest of the world is really starting to question the idea that the US is the Shining Light on the hill or a really deep, dark pit.
    6. Capitalism is failing.

    Things are not going the way that the oligarchs in the US planned.

    • tc 3.1

      Yup and Russia is continuing its multi faceted strategic war on the west in general to destabilise where possible.

      Branched into cyberspace disrupting and eavesdropping now to go with their tried and trusted Cold War pre internet techniques.

      Those Canadian oil sands better deliver also for USA or there’s more pressure.

  4. One Anonymous Bloke 6

    What can we do for the Middle East?

    Build more houses and accept more refugees, because it’s going to become uninhabitable.

    Climate change is already affecting the Arab World in dire ways…

    The World Bank.

    • Exkiwiforces 6.1

      Yes, Janes Information Services said sometime ago that the start of the Syrian civil war was the first climate change war as the wheat crop failed as a result the price of bread going up as the price of bread and wheat was subsidise by the central government along with price of cooking oil went up at the same which set off a chain reaction throughout Syrian society thence the civil war.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1.1

        Yep.

        In 2003, before the drought’s onset, agriculture accounted for 25% of Syrian gross domestic product. In 2008, after the driest winter in Syria’s observed record, wheat production failed and the agricultural share fell to 17%. Small- and medium-scale farmers and herders suffered from zero or near-zero production, and nearly all of their livestock herds were lost…

      • Ad 6.1.2

        I always thought the Syrian War started because Quwait wanted to build a gas pipeline direct to the Mediterranean through Iraq and Syria, and so Saudi Arabia got its proxy radicals to stop that threat by making Iraq and Syria unsafe for the foreseeable future. 🙂 Run the conspiracy mill one more time …

        http://www.middleeasteye.net/essays/pipelineistan-conspiracy-why-war-syria-was-never-about-gas-144022537

        • Stuart Munro 6.1.2.1

          Unlikely – Kuwait is not a particularly ambitious player. Conceivably someone else wanted such a pipeline however, and Russia certainly didn’t want it.

          • Ad 6.1.2.1.1

            Exactly.
            The link sets out how absurd looking for this kind of causality really is.

            • Stuart Munro 6.1.2.1.1.1

              Some wars you can put your finger on it – the War of The Stray Dog for example, or WW1, which happened because someone shot an ostrich called Archie. The ME is not short of factions, but a major driver of Syrian unrest has apparently been AGW caused drought.

              • Ad

                Personally I blame Obama and his dreadful “Arab Spring” speech in Cairo. That ill-fated “Spring” began when the Tunisian leader fell, then Egypt’s Mubarak. 2011. Back in the day.

                Then smallish protests started in Syria after 15 boys were detained and tortured for having written graffiti in support of the Arab Spring. One of them died from torture.

                So Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad, responded to the protests by killing hundreds of demonstrators and imprisoning many more.

                In response in July 2011, some of the military defected and started the the Free Syrian Army, a rebel group aiming to overthrow the government ……

                ………. and there it went; the Syrian slide into civil war.

                • Brigid

                  Nope. Not correct at all. The Proxy Syrian war was initiated by those who destroyed Libya.
                  And financed by US NATO and Saudi Arabia

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Absurd causality indeed 🙄

                • reason

                  No mention of usa or british foreign policy Ad ???

                  Let me fix your incorrect white-wash ……

                  “The causes of the Manchester atrocity, in which 22 mostly young people were murdered by a jihadist, are being suppressed to protect the secrets of British foreign policy.”

                  http://johnpilger.com/articles/terror-in-britain-what-did-the-prime-minister-know

                  “WikiLeaks Reveals How the US Aggressively Pursued Regime Change in Syria, Igniting a Bloodbath”

                  http://www.truth-out.org/progressivepicks/item/33180-wikileaks-reveals-how-the-us-aggressively-pursued-regime-change-in-syria-igniting-a-bloodbath

                  “The numbers confirm that, as independent analysts have suspected, the U.S. military has conducted a deliberate campaign to publicly underestimate the number of civilians it has killed in its bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria.

                  Propaganda Campaign

                  The only rational purpose for such an extensive propaganda campaign by U.S. military authorities is to minimize the public reaction inside the United States and Europe to the killing of tens of thousands of civilians so that U.S. and allied forces can keep bombing and killing without political hindrance or accountability.”
                  http://www.globalresearch.ca/covering-up-the-massacre-of-mosul/5605392

                  • Ad

                    The John Pilger link is about Libya. Libya would need a post by itself.

                    The US and many others have been pretty open about wanting Syrian leadership change. Can’t see how Wikileaks adds to that.

                    Fully agree about US military propaganda.

                    • reason

                      Actually the John Pilger link was about ‘blow-back’ ….. from supporting Al-Qaeda ‘rebels’ ….. or if we are to describe them a bit better ….. head chopping Islamic mercenary terrorists.

                      Their role in Syria is clearly mentioned in the article. http://johnpilger.com/articles/terror-in-britain-what-did-the-prime-minister-know

                      “The alleged suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, was part of an extremist group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, that thrived in Manchester and was cultivated and used by MI5 for more than 20 years.” …..

                      “when Theresa May was Home Secretary, LIFG jihadists were allowed to travel unhindered across Europe and encouraged to engage in “battle”: first to remove Mu’ammar Gaddafi in Libya, then to join al-Qaida affiliated groups in Syria.”

                      “This imperial marriage reaches back to the Second World War and the early days of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The aim of British policy was to stop pan-Arabism: Arab states developing a modern secularism, asserting their independence from the imperial west and controlling their resources.”

                      “The Manchester atrocity on 22 May was the product of such unrelenting state violence in faraway places, much of it British sponsored. The lives and names of the victims are almost never known to us.”

                • Stuart Munro

                  While US policy folk have been expecting an Arab spring for probably half a century, Tunisia at least was spontaneous. Egypt is a different kettle of fish – with progressive Egyptians fleeing all over the place to escape the resumption of the dead hand of military rule.

                • Exkiwiforces

                  Syrian President Bashar al Assad, had kept the lid on the civil unrest within Syria over the food shortages, but once Obama made that speech in Cairo and the people of Syria could see what was happening with the MER at time. The Syrian people had enough and the genie was let out of bottle and once it was out it bloody hard to stuff it back in bottle.

                  The Middle East is a very interesting place to place to visit, but awfully complex when you throw in religion, the diversity of people and that’s before you have the US and Russia sticking it fingers in places, ottoman rule and its aftermath of its defeat by the British and the politics post WW1.

                  NZ should stay the hell away from the region it as I said before, yes by all means trade with them, but don’t get involved militarily or politically it’s just not worth it.

                  • Ad

                    Agree and agree.

                  • Brigid

                    Where on earth do you get your information from? BBC?
                    The Guardian? What journalists working for both have visited Syria since 2011?

                    • Exkiwiforces

                      My Information comes from time spent in the MER, reading from such authors as David KilCullen aka his books and his assessments, Janes information Services, research and cross referencing all from above including open media, blogs etc.

                  • Stuart Munro

                    MSF manage to operate in the region – we could do worse than to provide aid in parallel with their efforts – wouldn’t make us many enemies and might do some good.

                    • Exkiwiforces

                      I think supporting such NGO’s or UN agencies could work and some good may come off. Yes, I got a offer to work for MSF while I was a PTSD clinic a couple of mths though a contact with one of the staff at clinic. Needless I turned it down as I’ve got sort my own shit first.

      • CoroDale 6.1.3

        All wars start as financial wars. Only exception in history was German-NATO booming of Yugoslavia. Balkanization is humanitarian 😉 And so long as weapons keep getting sold and used, the independence of Kurdistan will take it’s time.

        But that was the dark old days, tides are turning slowly to peace, as neo-liberals like the Israeli are running out of trustworthy money.

        • Ad 6.1.3.1

          I’d like to go all West Wing and Syriana on it all, particularly on the Kurds. I really would.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTa2PTcycyI

          Hoping with you that peace gets more likely in Syria – if nothing else than through exhaustion.

          • Brigid 6.1.3.1.1

            There is peace in most of Syria. Please do try to keep yourself up dated.

            • Ad 6.1.3.1.1.1

              The link provided in the post showed where the battle lines were.
              It’s as up to date as the Wikipedia maps can be.

              I would be interested to hear from people in Syria to measure whether they think peace has arrived. I suspect those millions of refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey would take some persuading of your claim.

              • francesca

                Ask the 600,000 who have made their way back so far, 67% to Aleppo and Aleppo city since the “rebels ” have gone to Idlib, where they are currently battling it out between salafist factions

                http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/08/11/542828513/u-n-more-than-600-000-syrians-have-returned-home-in-2017

                https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-idlib-idUSKBN1A40VN

              • Brigid

                I’m disheartened there’s still so much ignorance about Syria
                Some websites for your perusal:
                http://www.globalresearch.ca
                http://21stcenturywire.com

                • Brigid

                  By the way, Wikipedia is exactly what it says it is.
                  What I Know Is….
                  It doesn’t make any claims that all reports are factual..
                  The page on the Syrian war is egregiously false.

                  • francesca

                    The confidence in news media like NYT, WAPO, Guardian ,Reuters etc is pretty depressing. Particularly when it comes to coverage of the ME, Venezuela, Ukraine, Eastern Europe in general, the major news outlets absolutely fall into line with the foreign policy objectives of the US and its cronies.They all use the same narrow sources, and ignore first hand accounts of life in Syria at the time of the first protests.Classic colour revolution stuff, text book execution
                    Robert Fisk and Patrick Cockburn ,John Pilger old ME hands, say the coverage of Syria is the worst they’ve experienced, for propaganda, and unreliable sources.
                    The only sources given a voice within Syria (East Aleppo for instance) have been the extremist Islamist elements whitewashed as “moderates” and “activists”.Too dangerous for western journalists to embed in the “rebel ” areas
                    The same lies were told about Iraq and Gadaffi.
                    Last year a UK parliamentary committee on Libya found that Gadaffi was most unlikely to commit genocide in Benghazi, that news reports to the contrary, his record had been to spare civilians as much as possible while defending Libya against the same sectarian fascists who later went to Syria
                    The MSM lie and lie and lie again in promotion of war , and still apparently , we believe them

                  • McFlock

                    The page on the Syrian war is egregiously false.

                    Thing is, all I have for that is your say-so. Similar claims in wikipedia stand out if they don’t have supporting footnotes (specific pages, not entire websites, and the dates they were downloaded, or citations of printed material) or flags such as “contested” or “citation required”, and a separate discussion page.

                    As for the sites you suggested for “perusal”: I especially loved the headline VID – Katy Perry Meltdown: MK Ultra Explained in 80s Film Predicting SJWs. It was right below the thing about the Illuminati.

          • Agora 6.1.3.1.2

            West Wing and Syriana were *fiction* .. as is a significant degree of media commentary.

          • CoroDale 6.1.3.1.3

            Hey, it was very fair and well written for the ordinance. I’m not complaining about the article. A better summary than that is very hard to find. Unless you want a summary that includes spiritual or other aspects from outer-space.

            Yeah, peace is slowing breaking out, that was my impression too.

          • CoroDale 6.1.3.1.4

            Hang on dude. I replied without viewing your link. Did you just link to Jewish propaganda? Sorry, I mean, Hollywood. I mean, is that a spade? It’s a spade. It’s a spade! It’s a fucken spade, dude!

  5. One Anonymous Bloke 7

    Under Trump I see a better chance… I hope they pull back from everyone else’s business

    I think you see about as far as the end of your nose, which, as the saying goes, may yet grow long enough to encompass your vision.

    • Ad 7.1

      Afghanistan would be a post all by itself.

      As i pointed out, the US won’t have much choice in Syria because anything it seeks to further impose will be rejected. The US lost, and they know it.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1.1

        No, in fact you didn’t point that out, whether or not you believe it or can offer any evidence in support.

        • Ad 7.1.1.1

          ” the international invasions over so many years will mean rejection of imposed plans.”

          There won’t be evidence until there’s a conclusion to the war.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1.1.1.1

            Pointers call attention to facts. Empty assertions point to nothing.

            • Ad 7.1.1.1.1.1

              No imposed plans have worked in Syria in quite a while.

              That’s sufficiently factual.

              The assertions are for the future. Where facts haven’t occurred yet.

              I’d be happy to be proven wrong, for Syria’s sake.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Logic from the Ken Ring school of reckons.

                • Ad

                  There are few facts on the ground in Syria. Only the next movement of front lines, the next diplomatic exchanges.

                  It’s becoming clearer, but it’s got a long way to go.

                  The post began and ended solely with the premise that the dust was beginning to clear, but that’s as close to a reckon as it was prepared to go.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    So first, you set up a false frame: the “imposition” in your reckons (as though no-one has tried to broker any settlement on the ground). Then, you make vague unfalsifiable predictions based upon your initial false assertion.

                    • Ad

                      Nope. I provided three links.
                      The first was to the most recent diplomatic efforts.
                      The second was to the most recent territorial estimates.
                      The third was to wikipedia on the impact of the war.
                      You can argue with those ones all you like.

                      No post-war settlement has been proposed or indeed reckoned, because the war hasn’t ended yet.

                      Predictions aren’t verifiable. Until they occur.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Which one of the links supports your false frame re: imposed solutions? Quote the passage(s) you’re referring to rather than wasting my time.

    • CoroDale 8.1

      Ya gotta to put your weapons somewhere.

      Stop making weapons is ideal plan. But better to story them in the North Pacific, than in the Middle East. US is slowly learning. Positive signs of change, especially for those who can read beyond the MSM/Wiki reality as presented here in The Standard.

  6. Michael 9

    The principle that NZ should intervene militarily only when the UN authorises the use of force is a good one that any future government should follow. It is very much in our interests that a rules-based international order prevails.

    • Stuart Munro 9.1

      I’m not sure we shouldn’t invade Manus Island and bust the people out.

    • CoroDale 9.2

      Hmmmm, I’m sure the Pope would agree with you whole-heartedly. But the idea of a one-world-govt seems a bit too easy to corrupt, or? Do we truly believe the UN pros out-weight the cons? Cause I could quickly dig out a long list of cons.

      • Agora 9.2.1

        Your last posts have been made at 1.47 am, 8.30 , 6.48 am, and 1:42 am
        .. are you on a night watch or something .. ?

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    Long ReadKey Summary: Although National increased the health budget by $1.4 billion in May, they used an old funding model to project health system costs, and never bothered to update their pre-election numbers. They were told during the Health Select Committees earlier in the year their budget amount was deficient, ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    2 days ago
  • Might Kamala Harris be about to get a 'stardust' moment like Jacinda Ardern?

    As a momentous, historic weekend in US politics unfolded, analysts and commentators grasped for precedents and comparisons to help explain the significance and power of the choice Joe Biden had made. The 46th president had swept the Democratic party’s primaries but just over 100 days from the election had chosen ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    3 days ago
  • Solutions Interview: Steven Hail on MMT & ecological economics

    TL;DR: I’m casting around for new ideas and ways of thinking about Aotearoa’s political economy to find a few solutions to our cascading and self-reinforcing housing, poverty and climate crises.Associate Professor runs an online masters degree in the economics of sustainability at Torrens University in Australia and is organising ...
    The KakaBy Steven Hail
    3 days ago
  • Reported back

    The Finance and Expenditure Committee has reported back on National's Local Government (Water Services Preliminary Arrangements) Bill. The bill sets up water for privatisation, and was introduced under urgency, then rammed through select committee with no time even for local councils to make a proper submission. Naturally, national's select committee ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Vandrad the Viking, Christopher Coombes, and Literary Archaeology

    Some years ago, I bought a book at Dunedin’s Regent Booksale for $1.50. As one does. Vandrad the Viking (1898), by J. Storer Clouston, is an obscure book these days – I cannot find a proper online review – but soon it was sitting on my shelf, gathering dust alongside ...
    3 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell On The Biden Withdrawal

    History is not on the side of the centre-left, when Democratic presidents fall behind in the polls and choose not to run for re-election. On both previous occasions in the past 75 years (Harry Truman in 1952, Lyndon Johnson in 1968) the Democrats proceeded to then lose the White House ...
    WerewolfBy lyndon
    3 days ago
  • Joe Biden's withdrawal puts the spotlight back on Kamala and the USA's complicated relatio...

    This is a free articleCoverageThis morning, US President Joe Biden announced his withdrawal from the Presidential race. And that is genuinely newsworthy. Thanks for your service, President Biden, and all the best to you and yours.However, the media in New Zealand, particularly the 1News nightly bulletin, has been breathlessly covering ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    3 days ago
  • Why we have to challenge our national fiscal assumptions

    A homeless person’s camp beside a blocked-off slipped damage walkway in Freeman’s Bay: we are chasing our tail on our worsening and inter-related housing, poverty and climate crises. Photo: Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: The top six things I’ve noted around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    3 days ago
  • Existential Crisis and Damaged Brains

    What has happened to it all?Crazy, some'd sayWhere is the life that I recognise?(Gone away)But I won't cry for yesterdayThere's an ordinary worldSomehow I have to findAnd as I try to make my wayTo the ordinary worldYesterday morning began as many others - what to write about today? I began ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    3 days ago
  • A speed limit is not a target, and yet…

    This is a guest post from longtime supporter Mr Plod, whose previous contributions include a proposal that Hamilton become New Zealand’s capital city, and that we should switch which side of the road we drive on. A recent Newsroom article, “Back to school for the Govt’s new speed limit policy“, ...
    Greater AucklandBy Guest Post
    3 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Pick 'n' Mix for Monday, July 22

    TL;DR: My pick of the top six links elsewhere around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day or so to 7:00 am on Monday, July 22 are:Today’s Must Read: Father and son live in a tent, and have done for four years, in a million ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    3 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Journal of Record for Monday, July 22

    TL;DR: As of 7:00 am on Monday, July 22, the top six announcements, speeches, reports and research around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day are:US President Joe Biden announced via X this morning he would not stand for a second term.Multinational professional services firm ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    3 days ago
  • 2024 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #29

    A listing of 32 news and opinion articles we found interesting and shared on social media during the past week: Sun, July 14, 2024 thru Sat, July 20, 2024. Story of the week As reflected by preponderance of coverage, our Story of the Week is Project 2025. Until now traveling ...
    4 days ago
  • I'd like to share what I did this weekend

    This weekend, a friend pointed out someone who said they’d like to read my posts, but didn’t want to pay. And my first reaction was sympathy.I’ve already told folks that if they can’t comfortably subscribe, and would like to read, I’d be happy to offer free subscriptions. I don’t want ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    4 days ago
  • For the children – Why mere sentiment can be a misleading force in our lives, and lead to unex...

    National: The Party of ‘Law and Order’ IntroductionThis weekend, the Government formally kicked off one of their flagship policy programs: a military style boot camp that New Zealand has experimented with over the past 50 years. Cartoon credit: Guy BodyIt’s very popular with the National Party’s Law and Order image, ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    4 days ago
  • A friend in uncertain times

    Day one of the solo leg of my long journey home begins with my favourite sound: footfalls in an empty street. 5.00 am and it’s already light and already too warm, almost.If I can make the train that leaves Budapest later this hour I could be in Belgrade by nightfall; ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    4 days ago
  • The Chaotic World of Male Diet Influencers

    Hi,We’ll get to the horrific world of male diet influencers (AKA Beefy Boys) shortly, but first you will be glad to know that since I sent out the Webworm explaining why the assassination attempt on Donald Trump was not a false flag operation, I’ve heard from a load of people ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    4 days ago
  • It's Starting To Look A Lot Like… Y2K

    Do you remember Y2K, the threat that hung over humanity in the closing days of the twentieth century? Horror scenarios of planes falling from the sky, electronic payments failing and ATMs refusing to dispense cash. As for your VCR following instructions and recording your favourite show - forget about it.All ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    5 days ago
  • Bernard’s Saturday Soliloquy for the week to July 20

    Climate Change Minister Simon Watts being questioned by The Kākā’s Bernard Hickey.TL;DR: My top six things to note around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the week to July 20 were:1. A strategy that fails Zero Carbon Act & Paris targetsThe National-ACT-NZ First Coalition Government finally unveiled ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • Pharmac Director, Climate Change Commissioner, Health NZ Directors – The latest to quit this m...

    Summary:As New Zealand loses at least 12 leaders in the public service space of health, climate, and pharmaceuticals, this month alone, directly in response to the Government’s policies and budget choices, what lies ahead may be darker than it appears. Tui examines some of those departures and draws a long ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    6 days ago
  • Flooding Housing Policy

    The Minister of Housing’s ambition is to reduce markedly the ratio of house prices to household incomes. If his strategy works it would transform the housing market, dramatically changing the prospects of housing as an investment.Leaving aside the Minister’s metaphor of ‘flooding the market’ I do not see how the ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    6 days ago
  • A Voyage Among the Vandals: Accepted (Again!)

    As previously noted, my historical fantasy piece, set in the fifth-century Mediterranean, was accepted for a Pirate Horror anthology, only for the anthology to later fall through. But in a good bit of news, it turned out that the story could indeed be re-marketed as sword and sorcery. As of ...
    6 days ago
  • The Kākā's Chorus for Friday, July 19

    An employee of tobacco company Philip Morris International demonstrates a heated tobacco device. Photo: Getty ImagesTL;DR: The top six things I’ve noted around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy on Friday, July 19 are:At a time when the Coalition Government is cutting spending on health, infrastructure, education, housing ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Pick 'n' Mix for Friday, July 19

    TL;DR: My pick of the top six links elsewhere around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day or so to 8:30 am on Friday, July 19 are:Scoop: NZ First Minister Casey Costello orders 50% cut to excise tax on heated tobacco products. The minister has ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • Weekly Roundup 19-July-2024

    Kia ora, it’s time for another Friday roundup, in which we pull together some of the links and stories that caught our eye this week. Feel free to add more in the comments! Our header image this week shows a foggy day in Auckland town, captured by Patrick Reynolds. ...
    Greater AucklandBy Greater Auckland
    6 days ago
  • Weekly Climate Wrap: A market-led plan for failure

    TL;DR : Here’s the top six items climate news for Aotearoa this week, as selected by Bernard Hickey and The Kākā’s climate correspondent Cathrine Dyer. A discussion recorded yesterday is in the video above and the audio of that sent onto the podcast feed.The Government released its draft Emissions Reduction ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • Tobacco First

    Save some money, get rich and old, bring it back to Tobacco Road.Bring that dynamite and a crane, blow it up, start all over again.Roll up. Roll up. Or tailor made, if you prefer...Whether you’re selling ciggies, digging for gold, catching dolphins in your nets, or encouraging folks to flutter ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    6 days ago
  • Trump’s Adopted Son.

    Waiting In The Wings: For truly, if Trump is America’s un-assassinated Caesar, then J.D. Vance is America’s Octavian, the Republic’s youthful undertaker – and its first Emperor.DONALD TRUMP’S SELECTION of James D. Vance as his running-mate bodes ill for the American republic. A fervent supporter of Viktor Orban, the “illiberal” prime ...
    6 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Journal of Record for Friday, July 19

    TL;DR: As of 6:00 am on Friday, July 19, the top six announcements, speeches, reports and research around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day are:The PSA announced the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) had ruled in the PSA’s favour in its case against the Ministry ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • The Hoon around the week to July 19

    TL;DR: The podcast above of the weekly ‘hoon’ webinar for paying subscribers last night features co-hosts and talking with:The Kākā’s climate correspondent talking about the National-ACT-NZ First Government’s release of its first Emissions Reduction Plan;University of Otago Foreign Relations Professor and special guest Dr Karin von ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #29 2024

    Open access notables Improving global temperature datasets to better account for non-uniform warming, Calvert, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society: To better account for spatial non-uniform trends in warming, a new GITD [global instrumental temperature dataset] was created that used maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) to combine the land surface ...
    7 days ago
  • We're back again! Join us for the weekly Hoon on YouTube Live

    Photo by Gabriel Crismariu on UnsplashWe’re back again after our mid-winter break. We’re still with the ‘new’ day of the week (Thursday rather than Friday) when we have our ‘hoon’ webinar with paying subscribers to The Kākā for an hour at 5 pm.Jump on this link on YouTube Livestream for ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    7 days ago
  • Gut Reactions.

    Trump Writes His Own Story: Would the “mainstream” media even try to reflect the horrified reaction of the MAGA crowd to the pop-pop-pop of the would-be assassin’s rifle, and Trump going down? Could it even grasp the sheer elation of the rally-goers seeing their champion rise up and punch the air, still alive, ...
    7 days ago
  • Dodging Bullets.

    Fight! Fight! Fight! Had the assassin’s bullet found its mark and killed Donald Trump, America’s descent into widespread and murderous violence – possibly spiralling-down into civil war – would have been immediate and quite possibly irreparable. The American Republic, upon whose survival liberty and democracy continue to depend, is certainly not ...
    7 days ago
  • 'Corruption First' Strikes Again

    There comes a point in all our lives when we must stop to say, “Enough is enough. We know what’s happening. We are not as stupid or as ignorant as you believe us to be. And making policies that kill or harm our people is not acceptable, Ministers.”Plausible deniability has ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    7 days ago
  • The Kākā's Chorus for Thursday, July 18

    TL;DR: The top six things I’ve noted around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy today are:The inside stories of KiwiRail’s iRex debacle, Westport’s perma-delayed flood scheme and Christchurch’s post-quake sewer rebuild, which assumed no population growth, show just how deeply sceptical senior officials in Treasury, the Ministry of ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • What's that Jack Black?

    Ah-rah, deeSoo-guh-goo-gee-goo-geeGoo-guh fli-goo gee-gooGuh fli-goo, ga-goo-buh-deeOoh, guh-goo-beeOoh-guh-guh-bee-guh-guh-beeFli-goo gee-gooA-fliguh woo-wa mama Lucifer!I’m about ready to move on, how about you?Not from the shooting, that’s bad and we definitely shouldn’t have that. But the rehabilitation of Donald J Trump? The deification of Saint Donald? As the Great Unifier?Gimme a bucket.https://yellowscene.com/2024/04/07/trump-as-jesus/Just to re-iterate, ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • June 2024: Earth’s 13th-consecutive warmest month on record

    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Jeff Masters and Bob Henson June 2024 was Earth’s warmest June since global record-keeping began in 1850 and was the planet’s 13th consecutive warmest month on record, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, or NCEI, reported July 12. As opposed to being focused in ...
    1 week ago
  • Connecting the dots and filling the gaps in our bike network

    This is a guest post by Shaun Baker on the importance of filling the gaps in our cycling networks. It originally appeared on his blog Multimodal Adventures, and is re-posted here with kind permission. In our towns and cities in Aotearoa New Zealand, there are areas in our cycling networks ...
    Greater AucklandBy Guest Post
    1 week ago
  • Webworm Down Under Photos!

    Hi,I wanted to share a few thoughts and photos from the Webworm popup and Tickled screening we held in Auckland, New Zealand last weekend.In short — it was a blast. I mean, I had a blast and I hope any of you that came also had a blast.An old friend ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    1 week ago
  • The Kākā’s Pick 'n' Mix for Thursday, July 18

    TL;DR: My pick of the top six links elsewhere around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day or so to 6:30 am on Thursday, July 18 are:News: Christchurch's sewer systems block further housing developments RNZ’s Niva ChittockAnalysis: Interislander: Treasury, MoT officials' mistrust of KiwiRail led ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • The Kākā’s Journal of Record for Thursday, July 18

    TL;DR: As of 6:00 am on Thursday, July 18, the top six announcements, speeches, reports and research around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day are:Verbatim: Climate Change Minister Simon Watts held a news conference in Auckland to release the Government’s Emissions Reduction Plan, including ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • The politics of managed retreat

    Climate change deniers are now challenging the Government over a key climate change adaptation policy. That begs the question of whether New Zealand First will then support Government moves to implement processes to deal with a managed retreat for properties in danger of flooding because of sea level rise and ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    1 week ago
  • Some changes are coming

    Warm welcome again to those who are here. The Mountain Tui substack was officially started on the 2nd of July. I wrote about what led me here on this post. Since then, it’s been a learning to navigate the platform, get to meet those in the community, and basically be ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    1 week ago
  • About fucking time

    The US Supreme Court has been rogue for years, with openly corrupt judges making the law up as they go to suit themselves, their billionaire buyers, and the Republican Party. But now, in the wake of them granting a licence for tyranny, President Biden is actually going to try and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: False accounting and wishful thinking

    National released their draft 2026-2030 Emissions Reduction Plan today. The plan is required under the Zero Carbon Act, and must set out policies and strategies to meet the relevant emissions budget. Having cancelled all Labour's actually effective climate change policies and crashed the carbon price, National was always going to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The Enemies Of Sunshine And Space.

    Our Houses? The Urban Density debate is a horrible combination of intergenerational avarice and envy, fuelled by the grim certainty that none of the generations coming up after them will ever have it as good as the Boomers. To say that this situation rankles among those born after 1965 is to ...
    1 week ago
  • Still the 5 Eyes Achilles Heel?

    The National Cyber Security Centre (NZSC), a unit in the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) dedicated to cyber-security, has released a Review of its response to the 2021 email hacking of NZ members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC, … Continue reading ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Britain's Devastating Electoral Slip.

    Slip-Sliding Away: Labour may now enjoy a dominant position in Britain’s political landscape, but only by virtue of not being swallowed by it.THE BRITISH LABOUR PARTY’S “landslide victory” is nothing of the sort. As most people understand the term, a landslide election victory is one in which the incumbent government, or ...
    1 week ago
  • Gordon Campbell on why right wingers think all governments (including their own) are incompetent

    Since open denial of climate change is no longer a viable political option, denial now comes in disguise. The release this week of the coalition government’s ‘draft emissions reductions plan” shows that the Luxon government is refusing to see the need to cut emissions at source. Instead, it proposes to ...
    WerewolfBy lyndon
    1 week ago
  • The Kākā's Chorus for Wednesday, July 17

    TL;DR: The top six things I’ve noted around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy this morning are:Chris Penk is set to roll back building standards for insulation that had only just been put in place, and which had been estimated to save 40% from power costs, after builders ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • Open Letter to Pharmac

    All this talk of getting oldIt's getting me down, my loveLike a cat in a bag, waiting to drownThis time I'm coming downAnd I hope you're thinking of meAs you lay down on your sideNow the drugs don't workThey just make you worse but I know I'll see your face ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago

  • Kiwis having their say on first regulatory review

    After receiving more than 740 submissions in the first 20 days, Regulation Minister David Seymour is asking the Ministry for Regulation to extend engagement on the early childhood education regulation review by an extra two weeks.  “The level of interest has been very high, and from the conversations I’ve been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 hours ago
  • Government upgrading Lower North Island commuter rail

    The Coalition Government is investing $802.9 million into the Wairarapa and Manawatū rail lines as part of a funding agreement with the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA), KiwiRail, and the Greater Wellington and Horizons Regional Councils to deliver more reliable services for commuters in the lower North Island, Transport Minister Simeon ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 hours ago
  • Government moves to ensure flood protection for Wairoa

    Local Government Minister Simeon Brown has announced his intention to appoint a Crown Manager to both Hawke’s Bay Regional and Wairoa District Councils to speed up the delivery of flood protection work in Wairoa."Recent severe weather events in Wairoa this year, combined with damage from Cyclone Gabrielle in 2023 have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    19 hours ago
  • PM speech to Parliament – Royal Commission of Inquiry’s Report into Abuse in Care

    Mr Speaker, this is a day that many New Zealanders who were abused in State care never thought would come. It’s the day that this Parliament accepts, with deep sorrow and regret, the Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care.  At the heart of this report are the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    21 hours ago
  • Government acknowledges torture at Lake Alice

    For the first time, the Government is formally acknowledging some children and young people at Lake Alice Psychiatric Hospital experienced torture. The final report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in State and Faith-based Care “Whanaketia – through pain and trauma, from darkness to light,” was tabled in Parliament ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    21 hours ago
  • Government acknowledges courageous abuse survivors

    The Government has acknowledged the nearly 2,400 courageous survivors who shared their experiences during the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State and Faith-Based Care. The final report from the largest and most complex public inquiry ever held in New Zealand, the Royal Commission Inquiry “Whanaketia – through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    21 hours ago
  • Half a million people use tax calculator

    With a week to go before hard-working New Zealanders see personal income tax relief for the first time in fourteen years, 513,000 people have used the Budget tax calculator to see how much they will benefit, says Finance Minister Nicola Willis.  “Tax relief is long overdue. From next Wednesday, personal income ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Paid Parental Leave improvements pass first reading

    Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Brooke van Velden says a bill that has passed its first reading will improve parental leave settings and give non-biological parents more flexibility as primary carer for their child. The Regulatory Systems Amendment Bill (No3), passed its first reading this morning. “It includes a change ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Rebuilding the economy through better regulation

    Two Bills designed to improve regulation and make it easier to do business have passed their first reading in Parliament, says Economic Development Minister Melissa Lee. The Regulatory Systems (Economic Development) Amendment Bill and Regulatory Systems (Immigration and Workforce) Amendment Bill make key changes to legislation administered by the Ministry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • ‘Open banking’ and ‘open electricity’ on the way

    New legislation paves the way for greater competition in sectors such as banking and electricity, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Andrew Bayly says. “Competitive markets boost productivity, create employment opportunities and lift living standards. To support competition, we need good quality regulation but, unfortunately, a recent OECD report ranked New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Charity lotteries to be permitted to operate online

    Minister of Internal Affairs Brooke van Velden says lotteries for charitable purposes, such as those run by the Heart Foundation, Coastguard NZ, and local hospices, will soon be allowed to operate online permanently. “Under current laws, these fundraising lotteries are only allowed to operate online until October 2024, after which ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Accelerating Northland Expressway

    The Coalition Government is accelerating work on the new four-lane expressway between Auckland and Whangārei as part of its Roads of National Significance programme, with an accelerated delivery model to deliver this project faster and more efficiently, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says. “For too long, the lack of resilient transport connections ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Sir Don to travel to Viet Nam as special envoy

    Sir Don McKinnon will travel to Viet Nam this week as a Special Envoy of the Government, Foreign Minister Winston Peters has announced.    “It is important that the Government give due recognition to the significant contributions that General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong made to New Zealand-Viet Nam relations,” Mr ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Grant Illingworth KC appointed as transitional Commissioner to Royal Commission

    Minister of Internal Affairs Brooke van Velden says newly appointed Commissioner, Grant Illingworth KC, will help deliver the report for the first phase of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into COVID-19 Lessons, due on 28 November 2024.  “I am pleased to announce that Mr Illingworth will commence his appointment as ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • NZ to advance relationships with ASEAN partners

    Foreign Minister Winston Peters travels to Laos this week to participate in a series of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-led Ministerial meetings in Vientiane.    “ASEAN plays an important role in supporting a peaceful, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” Mr Peters says.   “This will be our third visit to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Backing mental health services on the West Coast

    Construction of a new mental health facility at Te Nikau Grey Hospital in Greymouth is today one step closer, Mental Health Minister Matt Doocey says. “This $27 million facility shows this Government is delivering on its promise to boost mental health care and improve front line services,” Mr Doocey says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • NZ support for sustainable Pacific fisheries

    New Zealand is committing nearly $50 million to a package supporting sustainable Pacific fisheries development over the next four years, Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones announced today. “This support consisting of a range of initiatives demonstrates New Zealand’s commitment to assisting our Pacific partners ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Students’ needs at centre of new charter school adjustments

    Associate Education Minister David Seymour says proposed changes to the Education and Training Amendment Bill will ensure charter schools have more flexibility to negotiate employment agreements and are equipped with the right teaching resources. “Cabinet has agreed to progress an amendment which means unions will not be able to initiate ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Commissioner replaces Health NZ Board

    In response to serious concerns around oversight, overspend and a significant deterioration in financial outlook, the Board of Health New Zealand will be replaced with a Commissioner, Health Minister Dr Shane Reti announced today.  “The previous government’s botched health reforms have created significant financial challenges at Health NZ that, without ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Minister to speak at Australian Space Forum

    Minister for Space and Science, Innovation and Technology Judith Collins will travel to Adelaide tomorrow for space and science engagements, including speaking at the Australian Space Forum.  While there she will also have meetings and visits with a focus on space, biotechnology and innovation.  “New Zealand has a thriving space ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Climate Change Minister to attend climate action meeting in China

    Climate Change Minister Simon Watts will travel to China on Saturday to attend the Ministerial on Climate Action meeting held in Wuhan.  “Attending the Ministerial on Climate Action is an opportunity to advocate for New Zealand climate priorities and engage with our key partners on climate action,” Mr Watts says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Oceans and Fisheries Minister to Solomons

    Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones is travelling to the Solomon Islands tomorrow for meetings with his counterparts from around the Pacific supporting collective management of the region’s fisheries. The 23rd Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Committee and the 5th Regional Fisheries Ministers’ Meeting in Honiara from 23 to 26 July ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government launches Military Style Academy Pilot

    The Government today launched the Military Style Academy Pilot at Te Au rere a te Tonga Youth Justice residence in Palmerston North, an important part of the Government’s plan to crackdown on youth crime and getting youth offenders back on track, Minister for Children, Karen Chhour said today. “On the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Nine priority bridge replacements to get underway

    The Government has welcomed news the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has begun work to replace nine priority bridges across the country to ensure our state highway network remains resilient, reliable, and efficient for road users, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.“Increasing productivity and economic growth is a key priority for the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Update on global IT outage

    Acting Prime Minister David Seymour has been in contact throughout the evening with senior officials who have coordinated a whole of government response to the global IT outage and can provide an update. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has designated the National Emergency Management Agency as the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New Zealand, Japan renew Pacific partnership

    New Zealand and Japan will continue to step up their shared engagement with the Pacific, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.    “New Zealand and Japan have a strong, shared interest in a free, open and stable Pacific Islands region,” Mr Peters says.    “We are pleased to be finding more ways ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New infrastructure energises BOP forestry towns

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