Abuse of power confirmed, but does it warrant impeachment?

More evidence (from John Bolton) seems to confirm what others have alleged, that Donald Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine until they announced an inquiry into a political opponent of Trump’s, Joe Biden.  I think that this would clear have been an abuse of power. But does that justify impeachment?

I think that even on the Trump scale it’s certainly very poor presidential behaviour, but the impeachment decision effectively is in the hands (and votes) of 53 Republican senators, and being politicians enough of them may choose to lower the standards expected of presidents even more than they are currently and refuse to call witnesses for the trial, which in itself would be a remarkable thing – a trial that refuses to call for testimonies from witnesses would be a farce.

But farce is what Washington politics has become.

NT Times:  Trump Tied Ukraine Aid to Inquiries He Sought, Bolton Book Says

President Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton.

The president’s statement as described by Mr. Bolton could undercut a key element of his impeachment defense: that the holdup in aid was separate from Mr. Trump’s requests that Ukraine announce investigations into his perceived enemies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, who had worked for a Ukrainian energy firm while his father was in office.

Mr. Bolton’s explosive account of the matter at the center of Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial, the third in American history, was included in drafts of a manuscript he has circulated in recent weeks to close associates. He also sent a draft to the White House for a standard review process for some current and former administration officials who write books.

Bolton’s lawyer has denied that draft copies of the books were circulated to ‘close associates’, but confirms the claim made by Bolton in the book.

Over dozens of pages, Mr. Bolton described how the Ukraine affair unfolded over several months until he departed the White House in September. He described not only the president’s private disparagement of Ukraine but also new details about senior cabinet officials who have publicly tried to sidestep involvement.

For example, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged privately that there was no basis to claims by the president’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani that the ambassador to Ukraine was corrupt and believed Mr. Giuliani may have been acting on behalf of other clients, Mr. Bolton wrote.

Of course Trump has denied and diverted by attacking Bolton:

I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens. In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book.

But Trump has a long record of doing that, so I think his counter claims can’t be taken seriously – Trump has lived by the sword of blatant lying, so his credibility dies by that sword.

With that being said, the transcripts of my calls with President Zelensky are all the proof that is needed, in addition to the fact that President Zelensky & the Foreign Minister of Ukraine said there was no pressure and no problems. Additionally, I met with President Zelensky at the United Nations (Democrats said I never met) and released the military aid to Ukraine without any conditions or investigations – and far ahead of schedule. I also allowed Ukraine to purchase Javelin anti-tank missiles. My Administration has done far more than the previous Administration.

Trump has refused to testify properly (bull by Twitter can’t be taken seriously), and he has told witnesses to defy subpoenas requiring them to testify.

NY Times:

Mr. Bolton’s lawyer blamed the White House for the disclosure of the book’s contents. “It is clear, regrettably, from the New York Times article published today that the pre-publication review process has been corrupted and that information has been disclosed by persons other than those properly involved in reviewing the manuscript,” the lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, said Sunday night.

The submission to the White House may have given Mr. Trump’s aides and lawyers direct insight into what Mr. Bolton would say if he were called to testify at Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial. It also intensified concerns among some of his advisers that they needed to block Mr. Bolton from testifying, according to two people familiar with their concerns.

The White House has ordered Mr. Bolton and other key officials with firsthand knowledge of Mr. Trump’s dealings not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. Mr. Bolton said in a statement this month that he would testify if subpoenaed.

Trump is again abusing his power trying to run a defence via Twitter but refusing to allow cooperation with the impeachment process.

Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, said the Bolton manuscript underscored the need for him to testify, and the House impeachment managers demanded after this article was published that the Senate vote to call him. “There can be no doubt now that Mr. Bolton directly contradicts the heart of the president’s defense,” they said in a statement.

But if less than four Republican Senators vote to exclude witnesses from the impeachment trial then it will fizzle out, but the controversy will rage on into the US election year.

It’s inevitable that Bolton will be dumped on Trump and his helpers, just as other witnesses who corroborate Bolton’s claims have been dumped on – and some dumped from their jobs. Trumps smashing machine has had plenty of practice. If he is acquitted by the Republican senators the question will become how many Americans will also give Trump a pass and vote for him.

If Trump is impeached I think that Republicans would still hold power in the White House, with Vice President Mike Pence stepping up into the tainted breach until the election in November and the inauguration of a new president next January – unless an impeached president can stand for office again, and win.

It’s quite possible that Trump could contest the presidency against Joe Biden, and it’s feasible that he could win a second term. There seems to be a significant number of people willing to make excuses for his transgressions and support him, defend him, regardless.

I think it is clear that Trump has abused his power as president, but many supporters don’t seem to care as long as he’s still there.

Trump at Davos last week.

I consider what I’ve done here, with this whole witch hunt, from day one — with the insurance policy; with the horrible statements made between Strzok and Page; and McCabe; and Comey, who lied to Congress and did so many other bad things. He lied and he leaked. When I finish, I think that this is going to go down as one of the greatest things I’ve done for our country. These are bad, corrupt people. These are bad people, and very bad for our country.”

Some suggest he is projector in chief.

Image

Coronavirus concerns

There are worldwide concerns over the coronavirus outbreak in China as it spreads to other countries, including Australia.

Reuters – Coronavirus contagion rate makes it hard to control: studies

Each person infected with coronavirus is passing the disease on to between two and three other people on average at current transmission rates, according to two separate scientific analyses of the epidemic.

Whether the outbreak will continue to spread at this rate depends on the effectiveness of control measures, the scientists who conducted the studies said. But to be able to contain the epidemic and turn the tide of infections, control measures would have to halt transmission in at least 60% of cases.

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak jumped to 41 on Saturday, with more than 1,400 people infected worldwide – the vast majority in China.

Reuters – Hong Kong bans entry of visitors from China virus province

Residents of China’s Hubei province, where the new coronavirus outbreak was first reported, will be banned from entering Hong Kong from Monday as China tries to halt the rapid spread of the outbreak.

Health authorities around the world are racing to prevent a pandemic after more than 2,000 people were infected in China and 56 have died.

A handful of cases of infection have been reported in other countries, including Thailand, Australia, the United States, France and Canada. No fatalities have been recorded outside China.

The newly identified coronavirus has created alarm because much about it is still unknown, such as how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people. It can cause pneumonia, which has been deadly in some cases.

The virus, believed to have originated late last year in a seafood market in Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife, has spread to cities including Beijing and Shanghai.

The World Health Organization this week stopped short of calling the outbreak a global health emergency, but some health experts question whether China can contain the epidemic.

Reuters – Latest on the coronavirus spreading in China and beyond

Here is what we know so far:

** As of midnight in Beijing (1600 GMT) on Jan. 25, the death toll in China had risen to 56, authorities reported. Some 1,975 people in China had been infected with the virus.

** The coronavirus transmission ability is getting stronger and infections could continue to rise, China’s National Health Commission said.

** China temporarily bans wildlife trade nationwide in markets, supermarkets, restaurants, and e-commerce platforms, authorities said.

** The previously unknown coronavirus strain is believed to have emerged late last year from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in Wuhan.

** Thailand has reported eight infection cases; Taiwan, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia have reported four; the United States, France, Japan three; Vietnam and South Korea two apiece and Canada and Nepal one.

** No reported fatalities outside China

** The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that while the outbreak was an emergency for China, it was not yet a global health emergency.

** Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

** China says the virus is mutating and can be transmitted through human contact.

** Two separate scientific analyses of the epidemic say each person infected is passing the disease on to between two and three other people.

** Those most affected are older people and those with underlying health conditions.

** Three research teams have begun work on developing potential vaccines, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations said. Scientists hope to be testing the first possible vaccines in three months’ time.

** Beijing will delay reopening the city’s kindergartens, schools and universities, state-owned China National Radio (CNR) said on its official Weibo page.

** China may “appropriately” extend the Lunar New Year holiday, state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing a working group meeting hosted by China’s premier Li Keqiang.

** Taiwan further tightens restrictions on visitors from China, suspending entry for many apart from business travellers and a few other exceptions.

** Hong Kong’s popular amusement parks Disneyland and Ocean Park are closed from Jan. 26, state media CCTV reported.

** Wuhan, a city of 11 million, is under severe travel restrictions, with urban transport shut and outgoing flights suspended.

** Tourist access to Beijing’s Forbidden City closed and large gatherings cancelled, including two Lunar New Year temple fairs, and closed part of the Great Wall.

** Hong Kong has declared an emergency and will extend school holiday closures until Feb. 17. The city also cancelled all official Lunar New Year celebrations and official visits to mainland China.

** Airports around the world have stepped up screening.

** Some experts believe the virus is not as dangerous as the 2002-03 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that killed nearly 800 people, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which has killed more than 700 people since 2012.

RNZ – Government alert to coronavirus but not alarmed, says Minister

Health staff will meet flights arriving in New Zealand from China tomorrow, looking for signs of the Wuhan strain of coronavirus, after four confirmed cases in Australia.

Health Minister David Clark announced this afternoon that public health staff will be on the ground in Auckland and Christchurch International Airports to take the temperature of incoming passengers who felt unwell.

David Clark said he had been advised the risk of an outbreak in New Zealand remained low and said the government was active and alert, but not alarmed.

“At this stage we have said that we are very alert to any potential risks. The evidence is that so far there have been no cases of communication person to person outside of China but this is a rapidly developing situation and that’s why we’re taking such a cautious and prepared approach.”

He said anyone displaying symptoms will be appropriately contained and any contact with others will be traced.

Dr Clark said the checks were a precaution, but public health staff would remain at the airports for the foreseeable future.

He is urging people to reconsider any travel plans to China and said unnecessary travel to areas of infection should be avoided.

Dr Clark will take a paper to cabinet on Tuesday, to make the novel coronavirus a notifiable disease.

The Ministry of Health said New Zealand laboratories should be ready to test for the novel coronavirus later in the week.

Stuff – What does the coronavirus epidemic mean for New Zealand?

This epidemic is already having an impact on New Zealand that is likely to grow over time. There is grief and worry for those at the centre of the epidemic in China.

There is the risk of imported and sustained disease in this country. And also the economic impact that is already being manifested in financial markets and may impact on tourist flows to New Zealand.

Of these concerns, the threat of importing disease to New Zealand is probably receiving most attention, as it is one risk that we have the ability to manage. It is stating the obvious to say that we live in a highly connected world with most countries just one or two flights away from China.

If spread continues to occur we are likely to see imported coronavirus cases in New Zealand, just as such cases are being detected in Australia and a growing number of other countries.

The future course of this epidemic is unpredictable. New Zealand is fortunate in having a number of advantages in combating this threat.

Another protective factor for New Zealand is timing. Respiratory viruses of all sorts are highly seasonal and conditions in summer (eg people spending less time indoors) reduce their transmission.

New Zealand has an established pandemic plan and experience with rolling this out during the last influenza pandemic in 2009.

One limitation is that the ‘keep it out’ component of our pandemic plan remains under-developed. Our very small national and regional public health capacity could be easily swamped if a coronavirus epidemic became established here.

Another major challenge for New Zealand is to ensure it does not export this coronavirus to Pacific Islands, where it could be devastating. Now is the time to be thinking about how to minimise this risk.

One good thing in our modern world is this information and scrutiny of what is happening gets around very quickly, with protections and precautions able to be put in place to contain the spread.

But with a lot of rapid world wide travel something like this could be difficult to contain.

And the coronavirus is having an impact here before any known cases in New Zealand.

RNZ – Coronavirus will have impact on Queenstown tourism, says mayor

The deadly coronavirus outbreak has come at the worst possible time for tourism operators in the middle of summer and the Chinese New Year, Queenstown’s mayor says.

Chinese tourists accounted for more than $220 million of spending in the Queenstown Lakes District in the year to October.

Tourism operators are already reporting cancellations as China suspends overseas and domestic group tours as the outbreak worsens.

Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said it was too early to know what effect the outbreak would have on tourism in the area but it would be significant.

“The timing couldn’t be worse because this is probably the biggest week of the industry with Chinese New Year. I guess it’s not a complete disaster because a number of them are already here but the issue will have a significant effect on the tourism industry,” he said.

New Zealand Chinese Travel and Tourism Association chair Simon Cheung said he woke this morning to find tours from China had already been cancelled and other operators would be in the same boat.

Impact on travel and tourism and business is an unfortunate side effect, but limiting the spread is more important – if there was an outbreak of coronavirus in Queenstown or anywhere in New Zealand the impact would be far greater.

Stuff – China arrivals to be checked

Public health staff will begin meeting flights from China from Monday to look for signs of coronavirus.

 

Open Forum – 27 January

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you, or you think may interest others.. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts. Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts. Comments from other forums can be repeated here, cut and paste is fine.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.

FIRST TIME COMMENTERS: Due to abuse by a few, first comments under any ID will park in moderation until released (as soon as possible but it can sometimes take a while).

Sometimes comments will go into moderation or spam automatically due to mistyped ID, too many links (>4), or trigger text or other at risk criteria. If they pass muster they will be released as soon as possible (it can sometimes take hours).

Ardern’s positive politics pledge

I’m all for more positive politics (and less negative, dishonest and divisive politics), so Jacinda Ardern’s pledge for “a positive, factual and robust campaign” sounds very good. But, unfortunately, Ardern has a history of not matching rhetoric with actions.

From labour.org.nz:

Running a positive, factual and robust election campaign

This week Labour MPs descended on Martinborough for the annual Labour Caucus retreat. It was here that Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern set our intention for the year ahead – to run a positive, factual and robust campaign.

Speaking to caucus, Jacinda Ardern said: “New Zealanders deserve a positive election. I don’t want New Zealand to fall into the trap of the negative fake news style campaigns that have taken place overseas in recent years.”

In light of this, Jacinda Ardern took the opportunity to announce that the Labour Party is signing up to Facebook’s new advertising transparency rules.

“It means voters can see who is behind paid advertising online, how much they are spending and who they are targeting. The measures help avoid anonymous fake news style ads,” said Ardern.  “These rules are compulsory in the US, UK, Canada and the EU amongst others, but not here. We think it’s the right thing to do to voluntarily adopt them anyway and set a clean tone for the election.”

Ardern also confirmed Labour will have its major election policy costings independently verified so voters can be sure of what they are voting for.

So, sounds good – in theory.

But I hope that this time, Ardern (and Labour MPs and the party) deliver.

At this same time last year Ardern promised a ‘year of delivery’ – “”For us domestically it doesn’t really matter what the international community does or says, it only matters what we deliver”.

“2019 I think for us as a team is going to be characterised by the word ‘delivery’. 2018 was obviously a huge year for us: bedding in as a new Government, setting up the infrastructure for a significant change in direction for New Zealand, reinvesting in those core services – health and education and housing in our budget.”

“That work has now been set in place. 2019 is now the year that a lot of delivery will be required of us and is actually already underway.”

“We do not claim perfection but we do claim a considerable advance on where we have came from.”

The Government has delivered on some things, as any government does. But at least as notable are the things that haven’t been delivered. The big election promise and post election commitment, Kiwibuild, has largely been a failure and has been dumped. The light rail commitment seems to have been so lightweight it has floated away.

Ardern campaigned last election on ‘openness and transparency”. In her government’s first year Ardern was embarrassed by her minister of Openness and Transparency, Clare Curran, being secretive and misleading. Ardern dumped her.

This government seems no better than the last in it’s abuse of the Official Information Act that is supposed to ensure openness and transparency.

Ardern seems impotent when it comes to the negativeness and determination not to be open by NZ First ministers Winston Peters and Shane Jones, but she should have an influence on her own Labour ministers and MPs.

Will there be no more Labour MP references to ‘9 years of neglect’ and misleading claims of National Government reduced spending?

Will Labour MPs more openly share facts with the public, especially when asked?

Will this year see a turnaround of the toxic politics of the past? Will we get a positive campaign, by Labour at least?(National’s negative attack politics is another disappointing story).

I hope so. Ardern has time to plan her campaign this year, and time to make it clear to her MPs, candidates and party promoters that she wants a positive, factual campaign. She has no control over some in social media like on Twitter and The Standard, but her and her party’s campaigning really is positive and factual perhaps that will filter down and influence the actions of Labour leaning activists.

Perhaps she can lead by example, and lift the quality and tone of this year’s election. If she and Labour can deliver on that it is likely to improve their vote and their chances (and Greens), especially if it contrasts with NZ First and National attack campaigning.

The impeachment, Ukraine, Russia and election interference

Donald Trump’s impeachment trial continues in Washington. It is far more political than legal. Just about everyone expects the Republican dominated Senate to acquit Trump,

Regardless of the outcome, Trump is likely to remembered as a president who was impeached, just like it is one of the first things people remember Bill Clinton for (he was also acquitted).

The Democrats may lose this battle but they are trying to win a bigger war, this year’s election. The target of Trump’s Ukraine pressure is Joe Biden, who has a good chance of competing with Trump for the presidency (that is why Trump tried to pressure the new Ukraine to dump on Biden). So the impeachment attempt is likely to be a major influence on a geriatric face off.

There’s bigger issues involved, in particular the Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

Here’s one take on that – allegations that Trump was promoting Russian fake news that it was Ukraine that interfered in the 2016 election.

Note first that the writer of this has Ukraine connections “Kenneth Foard McCallion is a former organized crime and counterintelligence expert with the U.S. Department of Justice, and has been counsel for former Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and numerous other Ukraine pro-democracy leaders and businessmen.”

RealClear Politics – A Key Impeachment Fact: Trump Pushed Russian Disinformation

Article One of the Articles of Impeachment now pending before the Senate is primarily focused on President Trump’s extortionate demand that Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky announce an investigation into the Bidens.

However, it should be kept well in mind by the House managers as they present their case on the Senate floor that Trump has also been impeached for improperly using the powers of his office to pressure Ukraine into investigating, in the words of Article One, “a discredited theory promoted by Russia’s disinformation machine, alleging that Ukraine — rather than Russia — interfered in the 2016 United States Presidential election.”

Russian and right-wing media propaganda, and Trump himself, have wrongly claimed that CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm hired by the Democratic National Committee in 2016 to investigate the massive hack of its server, is “owned by a very rich Ukrainian” and is hiding evidence that could clear Russia of any wrongdoing in regards to the 2016 U.S. election.

U.S. Intelligence agencies agree that this discredited theory, which deftly shifted blame for the cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system away from Russian and squarely onto Ukraine and CrowdStrike, originated as a Russian intelligence talking point before it gained traction in right-wing media outlets and, ultimately, in the White House.

Ukraine could not give into Trump’s demands for an “investigation.” Announcing an investigation of a leading U.S. presidential contender would have been harmful to Zelensky’s reputation, and an investigation by Ukraine into its own government for U.S. election interference would have been crippling to the Zelensky administration. Furthermore, the Ukraine government well knew that once it gave in to Trump’s extortionate demands for announcement of these two bogus investigations, the demands and the extortion would not stop.

Given Ukraine’s extensive experience with predatory Russian practices, the Ukraine government strongly suspected that Putin and his U.S. crony in the White House were capable of neutering and ultimately dismantling Ukraine as an independent pro-Western democracy. Due to the fortuitous public disclosure of the whistleblower complaint and the ensuing impeachment investigation, Ukraine was not forced to subject itself to this destabilizing humiliation.

Make no mistake, the Russians will not hesitate to manipulate the 2020 U.S. election in the same way they did in 2016. They know U.S. election machinery in key swing states is vulnerable, and that many electronic voting machine systems in these states are fully hackable.

The Democratic leadership is understandably hesitant to call Trump’s abuse of power what it is: TREASON. However, the House has at least given its managers the tools to explain to the American people during the impeachment trial that Trump was not just crassly seeking to further his own political interests at the expense of U.S. national security interests, but that he was also trying to do Russia’s bidding while, at the same time, selling out the United States and one of its staunchest allies. The House managers must not ignore this crucial fact.

(Parts of this are edited).

While the impeachment is likely to fizzle out, the issues surrounding it may swirl around the US election all year.

New Zealand tops 2019 Human Freedom Index

We mightn’t be quite as healthy as some other countries – see World’s healthiest countries (NZ ranked 18th) – but we are ranked top of a Freedom index.

Cato Institute: Human Freedom Index

Top ten:

Thee bottom countries were Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Venezuela and Syria.

New Zealand was also ranked top of the 2018 index, up from 3rd in 2017 (3rd also in 2017, 5th in 2016).

The Human Freedom Index presents the state of human freedom in the world based on a broad measure that encompasses personal, civil, and economic freedom. Human freedom is a social concept that recognizes the dignity of individuals and is defined here as negative liberty or the absence of coercive constraint. Because freedom is inherently valuable and plays a role in human progress, it is worth measuring carefully. The Human Freedom Index is a resource that can help to more objectively observe relationships between freedom and other social and economic phenomena, as well as the ways in which the various dimensions of freedom interact with one another.

The report is co-published by the Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute, and the Liberales Institut at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.

The Human Freedom Index – 2019

The index published here presents a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. This fifth annual index uses 76 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas:

  • Rule of Law

  • Security and Safety

  • Movement

  • Religion

  • Association, Assembly, and Civil Society

  • Expression and Information

  • Identity and Relationships

  • Size of Government

  • Legal System and Property Rights

  • Access to Sound Money

  • Freedom to Trade Internationally

  • Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business

Full Report PDF

Country Profiles PDF

World’s healthiest countries (NZ ranked 18th)

The Bloomberg Global Health Index grades and ranks the health of countries around the world – These Are the World’s Healthiest Nations

Spain tops the chart, followed by Italy, Iceland, Japan and Switzerland.

Australia is 7th, New Zealand 18th and USA is 35th.

The index grades nations based on variables including life expectancy while imposing penalties on risks such as tobacco use and obesity. It also takes into consideration environmental factors including access to clean water and sanitation.

Spain has the highest life expectancy at birth among European Union nations, and trails only Japan and Switzerland globally, United Nations data show. Spain by 2040 is forecast to have the highest lifespan, at almost 86 years, followed by Japan, Singapore and Switzerland, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

“Primary care is essentially provided by public providers, specialized family doctors and staff nurses, who provide preventive services to children, women and elderly patients, and acute and chronic care,” according to the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies 2018 review of Spain, noting a decline the past decade in cardiovascular diseases and deaths from cancer.

Eating Habits

Researchers say eating habits may provide clues to health levels enjoyed by Spain and Italy, as a “Mediterranean diet, supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts, had a lower rate of major cardiovascular events than those assigned to a reduced-fat diet,” according to a study led by the University of Navarra Medical School.

Life expectancy in the U.S. has been trending lower due to deaths from drug overdoses and suicides.

Sub-Saharan economies accounted for 27 of the 30 unhealthiest nations in the ranking. Haiti, Afghanistan and Yemen were the others. Mauritius was the healthiest in Sub-Sahara, placing 74th globally as it had the lowest death rate by communicable diseases in a region still marred by infectious mortality.

We know that our diets are important for improving our chances in the health lottery.

Instead of moving to Spain or Italy we could move more of Mediterranean style diet. I have done this to an extent over the years, and have substantially reduced how much I eat of meats and potatoes – as a child I never had savoury rice nor proper pasta, now I have them as much as potatoes. And the mutton fat of my childhood is distant history, now olive and canola oil are staples.

I don’t do supplements, which get heavily promoted these days. I think that food is best in it’s natural state rather than concocted and concentrated, and manufactured diet additions via pills are only good for exception situations, not standard diet.

Open Forum – 24 January

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you, or you think may interest others.. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts. Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts. Comments from other forums can be repeated here, cut and paste is fine.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.

FIRST TIME COMMENTERS: Due to abuse by a few, first comments under any ID will park in moderation until released (as soon as possible but it can sometimes take a while).

Sometimes comments will go into moderation or spam automatically due to mistyped ID, too many links (>4), or trigger text or other at risk criteria. If they pass muster they will be released as soon as possible (it can sometimes take hours).

New District Court judges increase number and diversity

Twenty one new District Court judges have been appointed, which will increase the total from 155 to 172 (some are retiring but 10 positions are new). This sounds like a lot of judges, but the courts are under a lot of pressure, with delays in proceedings common. Increasing ethnic and gender diversity is a given these days.

RNZ: Diverse intake of 21 new District Court judges

Another 21 new District Court judges have been appointed in a move the government says is to improve access to justice and boost diversity in New Zealand’s courts.

The appointments include 11 judges filling the positions of judges who have retired from the District Courts but 10 positions are new, as provided for in last year’s Budget.

The appointees include 10 new Māori judges, eight Pākehā, one Māori/Chinese and two Samoan. Twelve of them are women.

Attorney-General David Parker said there was an increasing workload for District Court judges.

“It’s partly because of population increase, partly because the trials are more complex than they used to be and partly because we’re trying to take an approach to therapeutic courts where we’re trying to deal with the underlying drug and addiction issues of some of the offenders so they don’t reoffend.”

The names of 14 of the new judges were released today, with the rest to be announced later this year.

If the gender and ethnicity are known then all the appointees must be decided on. I don’t know why seven names won’t be announced until later in the year.

Labour’s election support by district under threat?

From Harry Jamieson@graveyjones5

The Labour party managed to form a coalition government after this election, making @jacindaardern the 2nd youngest PM in NZ history. They performed best in cities (Dunedin, Wellington, Nelson ect) as well as in rural areas with large Maori populations (East Coast).

Image

This excludes special votes but should be approximately the same.  It is done per district rather than per electorate.

Māori support was strong, but that could be challenged this year.

RNZ: Whānau Ora head warns minister over funding allocation

Whānau Ora minister Peeni Henare can kiss Māori progress goodbye if he continues to allow other agencies to dip into its funding, the organisation’s head has warned.

It comes as distinguished Māori leaders seek an urgent Waitangi Tribunal hearing over the government’s handling of Whānau Ora funding.

It received an $80m funding boost over four years in the 2019 Budget, but North Island commissioning agency chair Merepeka Raukawa-Tait said not all of that money was going to Whānau Ora.

“From what we have seen, particularly in the last 12 months, we believe that the government is starting to undermine Whānau Ora,” Raukawa-Tait told RNZ’sCheckpoint.

She – along with Dame Naida Glavish, Dame Tariana Turia, Lady Tureiti Moxon and Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi – wrote to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in November last year expressing their concerns, but said they had not had a response.

They are now seeking an urgent Waitangi Tribunal hearing, claiming the government has breached the Treaty of Waitangi by refusing to adequately and transparently fund Whānau Ora.

Of the $20m extra funding Whānau Ora was promised last year, only about $5m was received by the commissioning agencies.

Raukawa-Tait said that did not make any sense, and she had a message for the Minister of Whānau Ora, Peeni Henare.

“Be the minister that we want to have confidence in. At this present moment we do not.”If he does not understand his role and our expectations of him than you can kiss Māori progress goodbye for the next two decades.”

She said if he continued to allow government agencies to use its funding, Whānau Ora faced destruction by stealth.

Henare denied any of the Whānau Ora funding was going to other government agencies, and said the move was politically motivated.

He’s referring to the move to challenge the funding of Whānau Ora – of course there’s politics involved, that’s how the Government is lobbied, especially in an election year.

It’s hard to know how Labour support will be generally this year, but it should actually increase. In the 2017 election they got 36.89% of the party vote, but since then have mostly polled in the 40s:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_2020_New_Zealand_general_election

That trend my be a bit of a concern for Labour.

Their poll support peaked at 50.8 in June 2019 (Newshub/Reid Research), but the same pollster had them at 41.6% in October and three polls since then (two from Colmar Brunton and one from YouGov) were 40%, 41% and 39%.

A generally sound economy with promises and money available for big spending boosts this year will be in Labour’s favour, but influential coalition partner NZ First is best known this term for dishing out dollops of money to the regions, and the Greens are pushing for even higher levels of borrowing and spending,

Labour will need to try to get the balance right between buying voter support (with voters’ money) without appearing too financially reckless.