Open Mike 01/05/2018

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, May 1st, 2018 - 137 comments
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137 comments on “Open Mike 01/05/2018”

  1. One thing that has puzzled me over the past months is why Iran has been singled out as the bogey-man of the middle east, the funder of terrorists, the purveyor of extremist religious views?

    I mean, at the very least, that role should be held by Saudi Arabia, shouldn’t it?

    Until I heard Lee Camp (yes, on RT, automatically fake views, so I won’t link to it) point out that Iraq moved away from the petro-dollar shortly before WMD were ‘discovered’ in the country, which necessitated regime change.

    And that Libya under Gaddafi was trying to bypass the dollar and the euro and set up a gold dinar for Africa. Which is why NATO and America needed to ‘liberate’ the country from a brutal dictator.

    Now, Iran has begun trading in euros, bypassing the dollar. Which might explain why Macron defended the anti-nuclear agreement with Iran that Trump seems hell bent on scrapping. Now Israel has absolute ‘proof’ that Iran has been reneging on its nuclear deal! Regime change coming for Iran?

    I have to ask, it this all about preserving America’s world banking domination? The almighty dollar? Or is this view too simplistic?

    • Ed 1.1

      You are spot on.
      China has also done the same and is creating the petro yuan.
      We are looking at an Empre fighting to preeserve its preeminent position – at the end of its Empire.

      https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Experts-Chinese-Petro-Yuan-to-Threaten-US-Petrodollar-Dominance-20180407-0010.html

    • McFlock 1.2

      It’s possibly a small factor.

      As in: some people in the decision-making loop would think about the weakening of US soft power and the strengthening of European soft power, as represented by their currencies being hard currencies of international choice.

      But it’s a massive stretch to regard it as being a significant motivator for invasion, because very few decision-makers would give a damn about it to that degree. Maybe a few State Department folks with a bee in their bonnets about the soft power value of USD being traded in Timbuktu, but not most people. The primary motivators are hard power: access to bases, access to resources (especially oil), access to markets, and having allied buffer states to head off other global powers.

      And, in the case of Iran and Libya, hurt balls because those countries told the yanks to go fuck themselves.

      • My question at the end of my post was rhetorical.

        I think you’re underestimating the importance to America of having the world’s ‘reserve currency,’ It enabled them to print money during the GFC with, up to now, no really bad effects.

        But take away that position of strength, and America becomes just another indebted nation – so indebted that it could lead to the collapse of their monetary system.

        The consequences to the bankers are enormous, well worth a few million deaths and untold suffering of ‘other people.’

        • McFlock 1.2.1.1

          What enabled them to print money was having the biggest pool of consumers in the world. Their hiccup dragged everyone else down, too, so the USD didn’t lose as much ground as it might have done, relative to other nations.

          And half of corporate america like a weaker dollar, because it makes their offshore profits look better when transferred to the US.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.2.2

        As in: some people in the decision-making loop would think about the weakening of US soft power and the strengthening of European soft power, as represented by their currencies being hard currencies of international choice.

        Except for the fact that they’re not hard currencies. Hard currencies would be backed by gold.

        But it’s a massive stretch to regard it as being a significant motivator for invasion, because very few decision-makers would give a damn about it to that degree.

        And what would happen if the US$ suddenly dropped to half it’s value?
        How would USians respond when they could no longer afford to buy inexpensive imported stuff? National has a point about a decrease in exchange rates being a drop in wages.

        So, yeah, I’m pretty sure that every single law maker in the US looks at way to keep the US$ as the Reserve Currency and to keep it highly valued. And as it’s been the Petro-dollar since the US dropped the Gold Standard against international agreements that means ensuring that all oil is priced in US dollars.

        Which all means that invasion to keep it that way would definitely be a play that the US lawmakers would make.

        • McFlock 1.2.2.1

          What people speculate a currency is worth is no less or more abstract than what people speculate gold is worth.

          Sure, dropping to half its value is an issue for an import-dominated economy. But we, for example (because you brought up national) to better with a low dollar. More export dollars flowing through the economy from the regions, while import dollars largely circulate around the urban and financial centers.

          So there are swings and roundabouts to exchange rates. But even if being the primary reserve currency is an advantage, is it more or less of an advantage than guaranteed arms exports to a client state, market access, having a forward base for your forces, and your client state giving your companies cheap access to the state’s natural resources? Would all foreign policy decisionmakers prioritise primary reserve currency status ahead of all of those other factors?

          • Draco T Bastard 1.2.2.1.1

            Well, considering that the US’s seems to use invasion to get a client state as well as to control oil then it certainly looks like it’s a major part of it.

            • McFlock 1.2.2.1.1.1

              They don’t need the oil for the reserve currency. They need the oil for its own sake.

              • Draco T Bastard

                The US needs oil to be traded in US$ to maintain the demand for US$ so as to maintain Reserve status. Kill oil being traded in US$ and the demand for US$ drops and it’s reserve status questioned and, finally, dropped.

                As I say, in reality it’s Reserve status should have been dropped when the US dropped the Gold Standard. Freely floating currencies don’t have any need for a Reserve Currency.

                • McFlock

                  Yeah they do – they’re a hedge. Your lira goes down to levels unsuitable for your economy but you think it’ll bottom out soon, you can raise the seabed a little and temporarily by buying up lira with the francs you have in your vault. And vice versa.

                  Just like physical gold reserves. Nice shiny bricks.

                  Doesn’t help if your economy is tanking completely, but does help provide a modicum of stability, which makes your economy stronger in the long term.

    • Exkiwiforces 1.3

      We also need to remember that old Saddam tried to or did trade his oil in EUR dollars quite successfully until he was knocked off. If we going back prior to the 2nd or 3rd gulf war (depending on who you read on the subject btw). You would find that Iraq/ Saddam was getting more money from trading in EUR than if he was trading in USD which is the international norm for trading in commodities. The result was US was the biggest loser not in the short term, but when we now include the cost of resulting War as well then the US has been the biggest loser with Iraq 2nd by a nose so far and I get the feeling we haven’t heard the last of this either from economic POV or a further outbreak of conflict within the greater Middle East Region.

      Even from Australian and New Zealand POV we have also have taken our eye off the ball within the Sth Pacific, Sth East Asia and Antarctic Regions as our focus has on the MER from an Aid, Trade Climate change and Defence POV.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.4

      I have to ask, it this all about preserving America’s world banking domination?

      Nope. That’s about it.

      Thing is, the US$ should have stopped being the world’s Reserve Currency when the US dropped the Gold Standard in 70/71. As soon as they did that the US$ was no longer the Gold Reserve that the Bretton Woods agreement called for.

  2. Sanctuary 2

    Can you post images here? Because the Sunday Times front page from the UK has to be seen to be believed…

  3. Jenny 3

    “Jesus would have done it”

    I seriously doubt it. (Craven images and all that. Not to mention the potential to cement in bitter sectarian animosities with its construction).

    Will the grotesque “I have come to save the world” statue of Jesus erected in Saydnaya which towers over the whole area including the notorious death camp, (even being visible from Jordan and Israel), become as notorious in the Moslem world as the ‘Work Makes Free’ sign in Auschwitz Poland. Both symbols being the last things that condemned prisoners saw before entering these two prospective death camps.

    https://themoscowtimes.com/articles/muscovite-builds-record-breaking-jesus-statue-in-syria-28831

    Though commissioned before the war, the regime ceased all military activity in the region to allow for the statue’s construction.

    Amnesty International: Sednaya

    Syria’s torture prisons

    Wikipedia: Sednaya Prison

    • Ed 3.1

      Another day.
      Another day of head chopping Jihadist propaganda.

      Very few people on this site are saying Assad’s regime is pleasant.
      But they aren’t taking sides.

      And the alternative is way worse.

      The headchopping Jihadists aren’t doing Syrian civilians any favours.
      Imagine an ISIS style Syria.
      The barbarism would be something else.

      And if Assad falls they take over.
      Do you want that?

      When Assad wins, he knows he is in debt to Russia.
      And I would imagine Putin will move him on and find a replacement.

      • Jenny 3.1.1

        Project organiser Samir al-Ghadban said it was worth erecting the statue, created by an Armenian sculptor, because “Jesus would have done it”.

        https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/02/statue-jesus-erected-syrian-hilltop

        Yeah maybe, the Jesus of psychopaths.

        As usual Ed, you ignore and gloss over the fact that this giant statue to religious sectarianism is built outside the town of Saydnaya* within eyesight of the notorious Saydnaya extermination camp. Which in my opinion is about as brutal an act of sectarian triumphalism, as if the Germans built a big statue to Jesus in the Polish town of Auschwitz, within eyesight of the Auschwitz death camp at the height of the time that they were murdering people of Jewish faith there.

        *There are several versions of the Arabic to English translation of this town’s name.

      • Jenny 3.1.2

        Another day.
        Another day of head chopping Jihadist propaganda.

        Ed

        So Ed, going by the intemperate bigotted Islamphobic slur directed at me by you; Are Amnesty, by your reckoning, also, “head chopping Jihadist propagandists”?

        “HUMAN SLAUGHTERHOUSE: MASS HANGINGS AND EXTERMINATION AT SAYDNAYA PRISON, SYRIA”
        Amnesty International

        A chilling new report by Amnesty International exposes the Syrian government’s calculated campaign of extrajudicial executions by mass hangings at Saydnaya Prison. Between 2011 and 2015, every week and often twice a week, groups of up to 50 people were taken out of their prison cells and hanged to death. In five years, as many as 13,000 people, most of them civilians believed to be opposed to the government, were hanged in secret at Saydnaya.

        Human slaughterhouse: Mass hangings and extermination at Saydnaya prison, Syriaalso shows that the government is deliberately inflicting inhuman conditions on detainees at Saydnaya Prison through repeated torture and the systematic deprivation of food, water, medicine and medical care. The report documents how these extermination policies have killed massive numbers of detainees.

        These practices, which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, are authorized at the highest levels of the Syrian government.

        “The horrors depicted in this report reveal a hidden, monstrous campaign, authorized at the highest levels of the Syrian government, aimed at crushing any form of dissent within the Syrian population,” said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International’s regional office in Beirut.

        Let us know your view.

        I know you won’t. And that you limit your ad hominem abuse to personal attacks only, rather than address the issues raised.

        But surprise me.

      • joe90 3.1.3

        And I would imagine Putin will move him on and find a replacement

        Imperialism bad, Russian imperialism good, huh?

        /

    • Muttonbird 4.1

      A tragedy for kids. How are National’s environmental credentials looking now?

      • Incognito 4.1.1

        National’s environmental credentials are like a mayfly: it undergoes many changes and has a very short-lived latest form or stage but they do make good fish food.

        • Muttonbird 4.1.1.1

          More National party voters work on the environment here. Canterbury farmer Brent Thomas destroys a threatened native, a third of the surviving population in order to plant oats for feeding dairy herds.

          Over-riding National’s environment policy is business. We’ll think about the environment and long as it doesn’t get in the way of business.

          http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/356316/it-s-tragic-farmer-destroys-threatened-native-shrub

          • mauī 4.1.1.1.1

            How pathetic have DOC become. From what I can make out there was only some old gentleman’s agreement to protect an endangered species from being wiped out.

            Another organisation is bringing prosecution, not DOC infact they are calling the guy a ‘good guy’ basically for his actions. Now DOC propose to reward the farmer by giving him money so he doesn’t own other land that he will potentially destroy.

            • Muttonbird 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Agree, they are an embarrassment at the moment. Nats got DOC doing the tourist thing earning cash, yet reduced their scope and ability to y’know conserve.

            • Sam C 4.1.1.1.1.2

              DOC isn’t bringing a prosecution because, just like Forest & Bird, it isn’t a relevant party to any proceedings.

              And on the face of it, what Thomas has done isn’t illegal, so there is that too.

              • mauī

                So the Department of Conservation can’t do anything if someone wants to nearly wipe out an endangered species on their own land? That’s ridiculous. The fact it rings true in this case shows how much they’ve dropped the ball.

          • Southern Man 4.1.1.1.2

            Muehlenbeckia astonii is not rare or threatened although local populations on Kaitorete Spit may have been affected by the reported development. The ideologues in DoC persist in trying to preserve flora and fauna in geographically limited locations whereas history shows diversification (of locations) has proven more successful.

            • Muttonbird 4.1.1.1.2.1

              So spraying the local population to make way for oats is the right thing to do? Sounds like a National Party approach to conservation.

            • mauī 4.1.1.1.2.2

              In that case let’s kill off the remaining panda in the wild and just breed more of them in zoos because they do better under our watch 🙄

              And the plant is endangered, look it up.

              • Southern Man

                The NZ Plant Conservation Network does list the plant as endangered but don’t state their criterion for that assessment. One can buy seed by the kilogram and I grow thousands of M. astonii a year for my revegetation projects – so in my view, the plant is not rare or endangered.

                For a number of reasons, DoC has had limited success in conserving habitats. That of course should be the priority. But given the reality, growing the plant in a number of different locations, including botanic gardens, is preferable to extinction.

                • mauī

                  The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has a classification for species that are ‘extinct in the wild’, that classification comes after ‘endangered’ and ‘critically endangered’.

                  In conservation terms, if you have to put a species in a cage or in some potting mix to keep it alive then it’s basically extinct.

                  Some people buy a rare species like kakabeak at a garden centre and then go and put it in their garden. I’m sure some of these people think they’re doing a good thing by increasing their numbers, but all they’re doing is gardening, not anything to do conservation.

                  • Southern Man

                    The IUCN also recognise the role of ‘conservation horticulture’ in the management of rare, threatened and endangered flora. I guess that’s why DoC have their Motukarara plant nursery. Sometimes, intervention is more effective than the alternative.

                    If you send me your postal address, I’ll courier you 10 Muehlenbeckia astonii that you can plant in your garden so you’ll be able to feel your restricted definition of ‘conservation’ is less futile.

        • dukeofurl 4.1.1.2

          2017 election results

          Epsom party vote Green 3263

          Mangere party vote Green 760

          Why wouldnt national go after a share of the ‘well off greens’ party vote?

          • Incognito 4.1.1.2.1

            If National is or had been more environmentally conscious and genuinely committed it might attract a greater share of the so-called (well off) green vote. On the other hand, National is much more conscious of and committed to votes, first and foremost, and will ‘adjust’ any policy and ‘adopt’ just about anything to get those votes – the end justifies the means. National has it all back to front: profit & growth before social equality and justice, businesses & economy before the environment & climate change, greed & entitlement before compassion & social welfare, and, above all, power & control. So, I respectfully disagree with you.

            • cleangreen 4.1.1.2.1.1

              100% Incognito;

              National wont care about the environment as they showed this for nine years and we now have poor water quality worse than other countries do.

              I hoped that with Simon Bridges at the lead of national, they may become more environmentally savvy but no they haven’t sadly for NZ.

            • dukeofurl 4.1.1.2.1.2

              I think they are doing green camouflage too.

              I was just pointing out why they are doing it. The reality is a lot of Green party votes come from very well off electorates which could be susceptible to going to them.
              But will it work ?

              • Sacha

                “The reality is a lot of Green party votes come from very well off electorates”

                Interesting – do you have a link for that?

                • dukeofurl

                  Look up the election votes online , or do it by looking at Wikipedia for the electorates names. Most have the last few election results in detail.

                  Surely you dont have blinkers on to what has been plain for ages, its not a startling revelation.
                  Are Auckland Central and Wellington Central teeming with poverty and disadvantage or covered with $1.5 mill plus homes.

                  Another place to look is the huge difference in Dunedin North and Dunedin South. The poorer electorate has half the greens vote of its better off neighbor.

              • Incognito

                But will it work ?

                No, I don’t think so. In fact, raising awareness among those so-called blue-green voters might even cause blue voters to go green. They will have to run an extremely subtle and highly targeted campaign to make it work IMHO and I don’t believe the current Opposition as a whole can pull that off.

                In my view, the well-off Green voter in Epsom will be well-off regardless of who’s in government. I think they generally are high & dry and likely to be more concerned about the future of the environment for their children and grandchildren. They realise that their vote is much more important for the Green Party and that this party is more likely to make policies that are positive for the environment than National. Think about it, your vote counts more for a small party like the Greens than for the largest party (National). Nobody likes to be just a number on an electoral role; we all want to make some kind of impact …

  4. AsleepWhileWalking 5

    Racism in action. Huri seems like a good man who cares for the community

    https://i.stuff.co.nz/national/103137846/police-politics-and-race-long-and-anguished-tale-of-constabularys-relationship-with-mori

    (Wait.. “mori”?!)

    • dukeofurl 5.1

      You should include the conclusion to make it clear for those just flicking through

      ie “Measures designed to reduce the prosecution of maori for smaller offences seem to benefit pakeha more”

    • alwyn 5.2

      “mori”.
      I suspect it may be a problem with the macron in the word.
      It may not be acceptable in the link to the article. Anyone actually know what the limitations are?
      I see that the macron is present throughout the article in the paper.
      Might have been better to use the spelling “maori” without the macron though in the link.
      https://stackoverflow.com/questions/30401962/what-are-the-legal-and-illegal-characters-in-url-link

      • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1

        The link is probably automatically generated upon the name of the article and also automatically removes illegal characters.

        • alwyn 5.2.1.1

          Yes. That would certainly make sense.
          It fits exactly with the heading in the paper.

  5. mauī 6

    Man from the 1840’s debates Māori democratic representation with future race relations commissioner. Juddy you’re the man!

    http://www.maoritelevision.com/news/politics/don-brash-and-andrew-judd-debate-maori-equality

  6. OnceWasTim 7

    Have you ever considered putting an apostrophe after the ‘o’ in your handle Mister Duke?
    It’d more accurately describe that dainty wee disposition ( complete with its ideology ) you come from (going forward)
    Duke o’ Furl perhaps ?

  7. Ankerrawshark 8

    Still no sign of weka I think. Hope she’s ok.

    And don’t recall oAB being around for a bit either

    • Stunned Mullet 8.1

      Bloke and Bill got involved in some biffo – he’s still on a ban I believe.

      Re – Weka hope she’s fine, she may just have got fed up with the site and the moderating which is quite understandable.

      • dukeofurl 8.1.1

        Last post was the election of Marama , which she was excited about.
        Maybe shes now working for Marama ??

  8. Jenny 9

    Two Syrias

    I came across this video, the footage taken in Damascus and this reporter’s experience of Damascus, which one person she spoke to likened to 1984, reminded me very strongly of my time in pre war Latakia. The suffocating presence of the dictator’s image everywhere. Weirdly the video footage filmed in Latakia of people holidaying at a beachside resort, is something that I don’t recognise at all as being of Latakia. Not even Latakia in peace time. The version of Latakia in this video is completely alien to me.

    Not saying that this side of Latakia wasn’t there, I just never saw it. Of course this might be because I shared my time between the Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Latakia and the city centre and the featurless working class suburbs. Funnily enough the refugee camp in Latakia where I spent most of my time, was also on the seashore. No one spent anytime there however, and I never saw anyone swimming, maybe because the makeshift sewers from the camp flowed straight into the water.

    Seeing the version of this other Syria in this video, I wouldn’t have minded spending a little time there, just to get away from the dreary and repressive reality of the rest of this town.

    • Gabby 9.1

      How did you get out alive?

      • Jenny 9.1.1

        Hi Gabby, I was in Syria prior to the war, not during it. But even then there were a couple of times, I worried about that. Unnecessarily, as it turned out. But still, the all pervading claustrophobic almost suffocating feeling of being in a police state, that I felt, is well captured by this reporter’s visit to Damascus. The dictator’s image everywhere, the ever present armed police and army presence everywhere. The need by the citizens to pledge allegiance to the dictator at the mere mention of his name. If it wasn’t so tragic it would be funny, The rather portly man who pulls out a picture of the dictator and lays it on the hood of a car at a wedding, and feeling the camera on him, feels compelled, rather awkwardly I thought, to salute the dictator’s image, (presumably just in case he wasn’t perceived as being loyal enough).

    • Draco T Bastard 9.2

      Was it like that before the US started a civil war there?

      • McFlock 9.2.1

        The US started the civil war?

        • Draco T Bastard 9.2.1.1

          Indications are that they certainly had a hand in it:

          The U.S. State Department acknowledged Monday it has been funding opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad, following the release of secret diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks that document the funding.

          The files show that up to $6.3 million US was funnelled to the Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based dissident organization that operates the Barada TV satellite channel, which broadcasts anti-government news into Syria. Another $6 million went to support a variety of initiatives, including training for journalists and activists, between 2006 and 2010.

          Asked point-blank by reporters whether the United States is funding Syrian opposition groups, State Department spokesman Mark Toner told a news conference Monday, “We are — we’re working with a variety of civil society actors in Syria with the goal here of strengthening freedom of expression.”

          Then pressed to specify whether the U.S. provides satellite bandwidth for Barada TV’s broadcasts, Toner said: “I’d have to get details of what exactly technical assistance we’re providing them.”

          Toner insisted the financing is not aimed at overthrowing Assad’s rule. “We are not working to undermine that government.”

          However, an April 2009 diplomatic cable from the U.S. mission in Damascus recognizes the risky optics of the funding.

          “Some programs may be perceived, were they made public, as an attempt to undermine the Assad regime.… The Syrian Arab Republic government would undoubtedly view any U.S. funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime change.”

          Whistleblower website WikiLeaks provided the cables to the Washington Post newspaper, which first reported on them. The files are part of a haul of 251,000 secret U.S. diplomatic documents the website says it has obtained. It began disclosing them in November through partner media outlets and so far has released nearly 7,000.

          So, if the US hadn’t funded the opposition would there still have been a civil war?

          • McFlock 9.2.1.1.1

            It takes more than a TV station and a journalist to shoot hungry protestors.

            • Draco T Bastard 9.2.1.1.1.1

              The US has been supporting the FSA since sometime near the beginning as well as other armed groups.

              • McFlock

                Supporting groups after they’d armed themselves and started shooting isn’t starting the civil war, is it?

                By that logic the Russians and Hezbollah started the civil war, too.

      • Jenny 9.2.2

        You mean, was it like that before the people revolted?

        Yes it was.

        • Draco T Bastard 9.2.2.1

          So, a civil war that has raged for 6+ years has made absolutely no difference?

          Yeah, no.

          • Jenny 9.2.2.1.1

            Draco,

            What I was referring to, was the stifling police state atmosphere captured by this video in Damascus, which I found very reminiscent of my time in Latakia, the omnipresence of dictator’s image everywhere, the omnipresence of police and army everywhere. This was the reality of Syria which I was familiar with and which, one off camera, Syrian likened to, being Winston Smith in George Orwell’s 1984.

            What you are referring to, is the destruction wrought by the regime on the Syrian people in revolt, captured in the link you supplied.

            And thanks for supplying this.

            From the link you supplied:

            Syria ‘before and after’ photos reveal war’s terrifying toll
            “WE’VE been accused of ignoring what’s going on in this once “normal” city. But the before and after photos are pretty hard to forget.”

            With more than 300,000 Syrians killed and six million people who have fled or displaced, the war in Syria was last night described on Q&A as “the biggest story on the planet”. Host Tony Jones said “we rarely get to talk about it (because it) seems like a long way to affluent people”.

            The war it seems, is also a long way from affluent people, even in Syria. The images of Latakia captured in the video I supplied, was of people holidaying at a luxury beach resort untouched by the war. This was a revelation to me, these images were completely alien to anything I experienced in Latakia. They were scenes completely unlike anything I ever saw during my time in that city, even in peace time.

            To me Latakia was the grim featureless tower blocks in the working class suburbs with out a park or bit of greenery, or child’s playground, and the jumbled over-crowded Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of the city which was later strafed and shelled by the regime from warships off the coast, which I witnessed as it was happening by live feed back in Auckland. (And don’t dare tell me that this live feed was faked, I knew this camp well).

            More from the link you supplied:

            Syria descended into full-scale civil war in 2012, causing about half the country’s pre-war population to be displaced as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those opposed to his rule battle each other and jihadists.

            And while the world now sees a country devastated by years of war and left in ruins, it wasn’t always this way……

            …..Today Aleppo, one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, has all but been obliterated by barrel bombs, bullets, chemical attacks and air strikes in the war.

            Once the beating heart of Syria’s industrial and commercial industries, it has witnessed some of the most brutal violence of the country’s six-year war.

            Before and after photos of the Old City of Aleppo, a UNESCO World Heritage site, show the full extent of the catastrophic destruction which has taken place.

            Aleppo was pummelled by air strikes last December, shrinking the rebel enclave just days ahead of parallel talks in France and Switzerland which aimed to save the Syrian city from “complete” destruction.

            The city’s east — a rebel stronghold since 2012 — has been the target of a major assault by forces loyal to President Bashar’s Russian-backed regime.

            During last December’s air strikes, Ibrahim Abu al-Leith, spokesman for the White Helmets rescue force inside Aleppo described the terror many left behind faced.

            “The streets are full of people under the rubble. They are dying because we can’t get them out,” he told AFP.

  9. The Chairman 10

    Grant Robertson promises a surplus
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/103510950/grant-robertson-promises-a-surplus-and-defends-budget-responsibility-rules

    Wonder if that will appease the half a million or so Kiwis who can’t afford to see a doctor? 

    • Pat 10.1

      “Keep that impatience in mind. Because after nine years of media complacency about the systematic underfunding of the health system by the National government – as signified by the steady erosion since 2010, of the share of GDP devoted to Vote Health – we are now being invited to have a cow because the coalition government isn’t fixing all the problems in public health within nine months!

      Yes, on the campaign trail last year Labour had aimed to make doctors’ visits cheaper by July 1st 2018. But because of the raft of other problems that National left behind them in public health, this aim may need to be delayed a tad by the coalition government until sometime later during its first term. At that rate, it will still be achieving in one term what its predecessor failed to do in triple that time.”

      http://werewolf.co.nz/2018/05/gordon-campbell-on-health-promises-bp-and-the-white-house-correspondents-furore/

      Chill Homer

      • The Chairman 10.1.1

        I merely asked a question, Pat. Therefore, it is you that requires to chill.

        But as for your defensive response, I’ll address it.

        I don’t think most were expecting changes over night, but considering Labour are fully aware investing in primary care helps to avoid health problems worsening to the point where they need expensive hospital treatment, I think most would have expected it to be a high priority.

        Leaving it to fester will add to the cost of public health Labour are trying to get on top of.

        • joe90 10.1.1.1

          I merely asked a question, Pat.

          /

          .
          Sea lioning (also spelled sealioning and sea-lioning) is a type of Internet trolling which consists of bad-faith requests for evidence, or repeated questions, the purpose of which is not clarification or elucidation, but rather an attempt to derail a discussion or to wear down the patience of one’s opponent

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_lioning

          • The Chairman 10.1.1.1.1

            Cut out the troll crap. What’s your position on the matter?

          • The Chairman 10.1.1.1.2

            Cat got your tongue, Joe?

            Seeing as it seems you don’t want to partake in a discussion on the matter. Some may think you only posted that troll crap to derail the discussion.

            • Ed 10.1.1.1.2.1

              That’s joe.
              Usually a barbed comment about Russia.

            • In Vino 10.1.1.1.2.2

              Not those who have read your concern trolling for a while, Chairperson. They will think the video quite apt.

            • joe90 10.1.1.1.2.3

              You’re JAQing off.

              • The Chairman

                That little jab merely confirms my point, Joe. Thanks.

                • joe90

                  You post under the guise of I merely asked a question, Pat, so you fit the bill, you’re a concern troll JAQing off.

                  • The Chairman

                    Labour claim they believe they have the balance about right, hence the question was relevant, thus legit. Presenting an opening for a discussion, which you attempted to derail with your off topic troll crap. And you are persisting to do so. Therefore, if anybody is trolling here, it’s you Joe.

    • McFlock 10.2

      Maximising the good.

      The govt probably figure that improving the lot of those half million but phasing in direct action on GP fees has a higher chance of keeping the government stable and continuing those improvements after reelection, than lowering all those fees and being portrayed by you and other tories as forcing the country into bankruptcy through fiscal lunacy, losing the election, and having a nat government reintroduce those fees and then increase them further still.

      Option a) concernobot says “half a million kiwis abandoned”;
      Option b) concernobot says “country on brink of bankruptcy, TINA!!!”

      • The Chairman 10.2.1

        As I highlighted above, leaving it to fester will add to the cost of public health Labour are trying to get on top of.

        Which, as you put it, would be fiscal lunacy. Thus, would be more likely to attract the insinuation of bankruptcy you’re concerned about.

        • McFlock 10.2.1.1

          But it didn’t, did it? You and national expressed concern for the poor, not the economic feasibility of the nation. The belated mention of cost was certainly not made in relation to the overall budget, maintainiing a surplus, or anything else.

          Very different to option b.

          • The Chairman 10.2.1.1.1

            “But it didn’t, did it?”

            It’s yet to happen. Moreover, attracting the insinuation of bankruptcy was your concern, not mine.

            • McFlock 10.2.1.1.1.1

              It’s not a concern, as such.

              It’s simply an observation that no matter what this government does, the nats and you find something to moan about. Today, a fiscally responsible act is criticised for supposedly hurting the poor. Tomorrow, a policy that helps the poor will have some other criticism levelled at it.

              • The Chairman

                “Today, a fiscally responsible act is criticised for supposedly hurting the poor”

                No, it’s far from fiscally responsible. Investing in primary health care now helps avoid health problems worsening to the point where they need expensive hospital treatment. And Labour know this.

                • McFlock

                  Yes indeed. I’m shocked, shocked that you didn’t raise this very serious and honest concern immediately.

                  Why are you so lax on fiscal issues? If you want to be taken seriously when you raise these important concerns, you really shouldn’t make the amateurish mistake of leaving these very important issues until other people directly confront you.

                  I’m only pointing out your neglect of this issue so you can lift your game and really make an impact on political discourse in the country. The nation deserves better.

                  • In Vino

                    I can only agree with McFlock’s fair and accurate assessment of your abysmal failings, Chairman.

  10. Kay 11

    Satire and reality are getting really blurred- Brilliant work by Dave Armstrong, but would it register with the people it needs to register with?
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment/columnists/103487100/dave-armstrong-the-reasons-why-work-and-income-doesnt-work

  11. Ad 12

    This is the Minister’s speech from this morning.
    It is solid.

    He remains confident that definitely has the money.

    He also remains confident that he can achieve almost all of his campaign promises while also lowering debt.

    http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/1805/Grant_Robertson_preBudget_speech_1_May.pdf

    There’s plenty to argue about in it, but also plenty that is rock solid.
    I think that’s OK to expect in the first budget.

    • The Chairman 12.1

      “He can achieve almost all of his campaign promises”

      “Almost all” doesn’t sound all that “solid” to me.

      Labour believe they have the balance (between debt repayment and expenditure) about right, hence it will be interesting to see if voters confirm that.

      • Ad 12.1.1

        It’s definitely all on Roberston in 17 days.

        But his performance was solid this morning.

        He knows he has a lot of money to spend and he’s going to make a difference.

        My mental framing assisted if I think of this government located on a spectrum between Clark and English: nowhere near as bold or programmatic as Clark and Cullen, both National and Labour happy to spend public funding if it can be proven to work, but like English in that they are sufficiently fiscally disciplined to reach for surpluses. It’s impossible for any MSM commentator to disagree with.

        They are very clearly going to throw everything they have at housing, transport, health, and education.

        They are going to do little of note in tax.

        They don’t have a integrated plan for government or for New Zealand.

        They are going to spend towards what they state on the tin:
        strong public services and networks.

        The country will be sufficiently agreeable to that.

      • Incognito 12.1.2

        To me “almost all” means what it says; to National it means 44.4%.

        There has never been and there never will be a budget that pleases each and every voter.

        How and when will voters confirm your concern?

        • The Chairman 12.1.2.1

          “To me “almost all” means what it says”

          Exactly, hence the problem.

          No one expects them to please everybody. But many generally expect a promise to be kept.

          “How and when will voters confirm your concern?”

          From the decline in support we have seen in the polls before and will no doubt see again.

          • Incognito 12.1.2.1.1

            How many promises did they (Labour, NZF, and Greens as individual parties) make during the election campaign?

            How many promises did they keep after the election and which they collectively agreed on in the coalition agreement and C & S agreement?

            And remember, not all promises are equal.

            Yes, I expected you to mention the polls; public polls, internal polls, anecdotal polls, personal feedback polls, C & W polls, etc.

  12. Gabby 13

    He might argue that ‘if elected, a labour govmnt will…’ promises would have more moral force had a labour govmnt been elected, which it wasn’t chairie.

    • james 13.1

      LOL brilliant – we cannot be held to any promised made by “labour” because a labour government has not been elected.

      Best argument ever Gobby – I would love for them to come out and say that.

      oh – and just to burst your bubble – it is a labour covernment – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sixth_Labour_Government_of_New_Zealand

      So yeah – labour were elected. They just are continuing to break promises.

      • Sacha 13.1.1

        It’s MMP. Labour’s promises as a government are in the agreements they signed with NZ First and the Greens.

        No party gets to implement their whole campaign platform, as the Nats and their supporters seem to be struggling to learn.

        • james 13.1.1.1

          Yeah sure – try and convince yourself that is what the normal person on the street thinks.

          • Sacha 13.1.1.1.1

            “try and convince yourself that is what the normal person on the street thinks”

            Oh there’s obviously scope for a public education campaign, including for a fair few ‘journalists’ editors and publishers who should know better by now.

          • Barfly 13.1.1.1.2

            Trolling glee? You are coming across a bit desperate James.

            • james 13.1.1.1.2.1

              Not really glee.

              But – if you are happy with the broken promises – then good for you.

              • Fireblade

                James, your comments are becoming increasingly ridiculous. You really need to think more clearly if you want anyone to take you seriously.

              • dukeofurl

                James.
                The election policy said:
                Reduced Doctors fees From July 2018

                Its politics to expand the policy ‘from’ whenever

                • james

                  or by NOT doing it ‘from’ July 2018 is a broken promise.

                  Simple really.

      • Gabby 13.1.2

        Jus puttin on my Ponyboy’s not the PM hat jimbo, I ashleigh don’t find wikipeda personally credible. Enithiday.

        • james 13.1.2.1

          okaaaaaaaaaaay …. so you dont believe that that the country is being run by the 6th Labour government – then who is?

          • Incognito 13.1.2.1.1

            The Sixth Labour Government is the current government of New Zealand. It is headed by Labour Party leader and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. It took office on 26 October 2017. [my bold]

            From your link, James.

            You know what “heading” means here, James?

            And you know what a “coalition government” is, James, and a “confidence and supply agreement”?

      • Incognito 13.1.3

        National has failed to deliver on all its election promises so far.

        • The Chairman 13.1.3.1

          Are you disappointed? I’m not. I didn’t vote for them.

          • Incognito 13.1.3.1.1

            Quite frankly, I am shocked by this blatant breaking of election promises when they got a vote majority (44.4%) and are the single largest party in Parliament. This is not good for democracy, I say.

            I save my disappointments and concerns for my own personal shortcomings and missteps in life of which there are too many to mention. Life is one hell of a journey without destination …

            • The Chairman 13.1.3.1.1.1

              Questioning and expressing political concern is part of a healthy democracy.

              • Incognito

                I agree, it is a part but on its own it is rather inefficient and ineffective. Democracy can be so much more than justquestioning and expressing political concerns to others and waiting for an answer or reply from them. Do you see what I’m getting at and where I’m going with this?

                • The Chairman

                  It’s tends to be far more effective when large numbers express their concern or outrage. Thus, if we all took your personal stance of not expressing it, it would be totally ineffective.

                  And yes, a healthy democracy is more than that, hence why I said it was part of it.

    • The Chairman 13.2

      “Promises would have more moral force had a labour govmnt been elected, which it wasn’t chairie.”

      When Labour made that promise, it was largely accepted they wouldn’t govern alone.

      • Incognito 13.2.1

        Which is confirming the point that Gabby made @ 13.

        • The Chairman 13.2.1.1

          No, it doesn’t. It highlights they knew there was little chance of them governing alone when the promise was made.

          • Incognito 13.2.1.1.1

            They didn’t even know they were going to have the numbers to form a government of some description! NZF held the balance of power; only they were reasonably confident of being in the next government. That is the point. Once in Government you make different kinds of ‘promises’ because you can reasonably expect to be able to deliver on them.

            • The Chairman 13.2.1.1.1.1

              “They didn’t even know they were going to have the numbers to form a government of some description!”

              Yes, but they also knew there was little to no chance of them governing alone when the promise was made. Which is the point.

              Once in Government there was no mention the promise wouldn’t be upheld until the other day when we were given some indication it is likely to be phased in. And this is after they made more from the tax take than was expected.

              The way Labour are going (delaying policy implementation) they’ll be largely campaigning on the same policies at the next election as they did in the last one.

              • Incognito

                Yes, but they also knew there was little to no chance of them governing alone when the promise was made. Which is the point.

                I see, they must only make promises that they are absolutely 100% certain and guaranteed to keep, no matter what, Scout’s Honour.

                Actually, I can see where you’re coming from but it is way too rigid and legalistic to be practical. I think it would be less confusing if they campaigned more on values as the basis of policy decisions; the value system underpins everything.

                • The Chairman

                  “I see, they must only make promises that they are absolutely 100% certain and guaranteed to keep, no matter what, Scout’s Honour.”

                  If they want to maintain their credibility, thus future support and not disappoint, then yes.

                  • Incognito

                    I don’t think binary thinking is a fruitful pursuit in general and most certainly not in politics.

                    How do you cope with the consensus approach of the Green Party?

                    • The Chairman

                      In politics if a party promises something then fails to keep that promise, they lose their credibility, disappoint their supporters, thus risk losing their support.

  13. Sacha 14

    Act’s productivity commission has proposed penalising owners of older gas guzzlers to subsidise new electric vehicles as part of transitioning NZ to a lower-carbon economy. Not so fast, writes Bernard Hickey:
    https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2018/04/30/106833/help-the-old-bomb-owners-this-time

    “No Government should again make the mistake of launching economic reforms without a plan to compensate and help the losers. We are still living with the legacy of failing to help those who lost out in the last big reforms.”

    • Gabby 14.1

      Poor people will have trains to look at. Chuff chuffing off to where they don’t work.

    • The Chairman 14.2

      “Act’s productivity commission has proposed penalising owners of older gas guzzlers to subsidise new electric vehicles as part of transitioning NZ to a lower-carbon economy”

      Yes, and the Greens seem rather supportive and are considering it. Leaving their commitment to social justice looking rather hollow.

  14. cleangreen 15

    Why do we need to seriously curtail our carbon emissions?

    Rail not road freight is a start here.

    Firstly take a look at this startling video by a prominent scientists projection data just recovered from satellite long term data from 2008 till now.

    Pine Island Bay off South America.
    This Pine Island glacier” is the size of Texas. – Total collapse will cause a 11ft of sea level rise.
    We should all become seriously worried about why national never moved forward on rail or reducing CO2 emissions as they knew this study has going on since 2006 when it begun.

    That was why Labour got serious on freight and bought back and was alleviated by this report National produced ; – called “The value of rail in New Zealand” Government report that was hidden by national 2 yrs ago but labour found it again. The study shows rail saves the country $1.5 Billion a year as is but would save vastly more if more rail was used. Report was produced for NZTA/Kiwirail in 2016 by Ernest Young accountants.

    http://www.kiwirail.co.nz/uploads/Publications/The%20Value%20of%20the%20Rail%20in%20New%20Zealand.pdf

    Labour should be admired and complimented by buying back our National rail system in 2008, but national has done nothing to move freight back to rail rather they spent their entire 9 yrs closing rail down.

  15. Observer Tokoroa 16

    Our Own Mess

    May I ask why on earth we are going on about dictators in Arabia, Assassins in Russia, Egotists and Atomic Bombers in the USA,…..

    when we have got awful problems of our own here in New Zealand.

    Particularly in sluggish dead Auckland. Drugs, Murder, Violence; Illiteracy; Dishonesty in Parliament ; Obesity; Drugs; Drunkenness; Child neglect; Rape; Fraud; Inability to Build and construct ; Road Carnage; Foul Rivers nationwide; Prisons; Prisons and prisons.

    Whilst all the time Aucklanders are pretending it is not happening.

    We have a once in 70 yr opportunity to fix NZ up, with a new and young Government.
    Let’s get out of the Auckland stupor. National Incompetence. Why on earth stuff around with old half pie wealthly dumb bums of old.

    • Barfly 16.1

      Can you please bin the anti Auckland diatribe – we like all other parts of NZ are composed of individuals with different values, beliefs and behaviours. I hope our new government can work to rectify the damage caused by the Natzional regime and hey I live in Auckland – please neuter that Bee stuck in your bonnet my friend.

    • Draco T Bastard 16.2

      I see more people from rural NZ ignoring the problems than I do those from Auckland.

      Aucklanders know that we have problems. We also know that the rural areas have problems like dairying.

  16. Gabby 17

    Can we please not be invited to any more Auckland Goff parties?

  17. Observer Tokoroa 18

    Hi Barfly

    It is good that you are facing the facts. I admire you for that.

    Our biggest city is defective – and need not be. Only Aucklanders can turn things around.

  18. Morrissey 19

    BLASTED LIMBS, BROKEN DREAMS

    Israeli gunfire is taking a severe toll on the lower limbs of Palestinian protesters

    http://normanfinkelstein.com/2018/04/30/even-awful-washington-post-better-than-the-new-york-sturmer-times/

  19. Tuppence Shrewsbury 20

    That didn’t take long. A labour / nz first government up to its old tricks

    https://i.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/103508670/labour-mp-ruth-dyson-error-led-to-wrongful-spending-accusation

    So easy to just pull it out of the drawer, dust it off, implement the plan but forget about the reaction

  20. The Am Show here we go all the negative storys about farms is just softening up small farmers to sell to big foreign corporation’s that will cut all the trees down destroy mother nature just to make a buck.

    https://i.stuff.co.nz/business/103518908/wealthy-australian-buys-more-rural-land-near-gisborne

    The Labour lead Coalition Government will deliver a budget that will deliver to all the peoples NEED’s and the wants mite have to wait a bit.

    Yes that negative gearing is just handing more money to people who already have alot of money it needs to be stopped you know how it is the asset owners pay little tax on there income . and the wage earners pay the most.

    Duncan my wife is my soul m8 we have been through our ups and downs but we see the big picture in my view and OUR mokopunas and children come first and the rest follow I know that I have a great future ahead of me leading us down the sustainable path it is my destiny.

    Albatross are one of my favorite birds I use to watch them for ages gliding above Tangaroa they are great magnificent create who we need insure they have a great future. Ka kite ano .

    • eco maori 21.1

      Newshub Its good news that the ownership of the Warriors Rugby League club is staying in New Zealands hands as We are the only ones that have the best interest for the game and the club and players to prosper Ka pai.
      Yes we need to keep up with the Jones on any technology and Artificial Intelligence will be a game changer the Government needs someone like Rod Jury to advise them on this new Technology or we will be left behind in the dust.
      Kanye West either needs to take his meds or he is taking to much meds or he is bored and just boosting his twitter hits he has learnt the Trump way of getting noticed .
      Eco Maori backs minimum alcohol pricing that will save lives.
      One nite Eco Maori felt Ruaumoko in Rotorua the thing was no one else felt him.
      Ka kite ano . P.S is that how much PEE is in New Zealand that that University is advising young people how to cope with it after use WTF.

      • eco maori 21.1.1

        The Crowd Goes Wild I have followed Eric Watson for a few years hes A good Kiwi Business man Many thanks to Eric for doing the right thing for the club game and players by selling to Kiwis ka pai.
        James are you sure its your bunions that needs healing there was a episode of Mysfits that British comedy were a girl could heal it did not ened up very good
        for her she caught his ailments lol.
        That Turkish guy must realy love his soccer getting that crane so he could watch the good game hes a bit like Eco Maori never give up ka pai.
        It will be good for the Kiwi run Americas cup having Dean Barker as helmsman for the New York yacht club the rivalry will be there and help promote the races . Ka pai
        Ka kite ano P.S thats mean all right that guy riding down a skie slop on his bike

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