Tikanga could be appropriate for posthumous appeals law?

From Gezza:

Peter Ellis, controversially convicted of child sexual abuse in the Christchurch Civic Creche case, died of advanced bladder cancer before his appeal, seeking to clear his name, could be heard.

Courts in commonwealth countries have traditionally considered that someone’s interest in an appeal ends when they die, as it will not affect them either way.

But Justice Joe Williams threw a curveball into the arguments from both sides when he suggested that New Zealand didn’t need to follow decisions set in any other country, and could establish an entirely new rule based on tikanga Māori.

“There’s nothing to say that the appellant’s case dies when they do … This is a very western idea that on demise you have nothing to protect.

“If we are serious about tikanga, should New Zealand divert from that very anglo approach?” he said. “In a tikanga context … an ancestor has even more reputation to protect. There’s more tapu, more mana to protect.”

This generated some heated discussions across the bench, as Justices debated whether that would open the floodgates for too many cases to be brought forward, and asked for someone to find some statistics.

Neither had prepared arguments either for or against a tikanga approach when preparing for the hearing, though the Crown did concede that it was something “the court must be open to”.

The case was adjourned for five weeks to allow both sides to bring submissions addressing the issue of tikanga, and will continue in the new year.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/117435500/peter-ellis-appeal-derailed-by-legal-curveball-on-possible-tikanga-mori-approach
… … …
This is an interesting development. Given that not just Peter Ellis is affected by his conviction, if in fact he was wrongly convicted. His family are too.

The only other circumstances I can think of off hand where a person subsequently held to have been wrongfully convicted has had their convictions effectively quashed – long after their deaths (by execution) – have occurred as pardons, as part of Treaty Settlements (Mokomoko, Kereopa Te Rau).

Rua Kēnana was wrongfully convicted of sedition & sentenced to a year in prison, then released. Eventually Rua moved to Matahi, a community he had founded on the Waimana River in the eastern Bay of Plenty in 1910, where he lived until his death on 20 February 1937, and was survived by five wives, nine sons, and 13 daughters. – Wikipedia

These pardons haven’t generated a flood of requests for posthumous pardons as far as I know.

I think the suggestion that NZ could develop its own law around this situation, rather than simply follow British law – as I assume we do – is a good one & look forward to seeing the Court’s eventual decision & reasoning.

Gang Membership on the rise

Guest  post from Gezza:


Stuff – Patched gang members increase: Opposition says Government soft on crime

Despite police efforts to up the ante on tackling gang-related crime, patched membership has increased.

The Opposition has put the increase in gang affiliation down to the Government taking what it says is a “soft on crime approach” and putting too much effort in reducing the prison population.

The figures supplied to National by Police Minister Stuart Nash, show about 1400 more people have joined a gang since the Government took office in 2017 and National leader Simon Bridges blames a lack of action by the Government.

The latest female extension of the Mongrel Mob, brazen meetings in public places like Te Mata Peak and gang members refusing to hand in illegal firearms was concerning, he said.

The Government’s focus has been on reducing prison numbers at any cost, but it has no plan to reduce crime. An increase in gang membership means an increase in crime in our communities and more victims,” he said.

“It’s no secret. We hate gangs… we are thinking about how we can crack down on gangs,” [Bridges] said.

[Police Minister Stuart] Nash has repeatedly said there was a focus on gangs and organised crime, which had been identified as a priority area in the Coalition Government Agreement. Extra police were being deployed to target organised crime.

Last week, he announced a new batch of graduating constables would be tackling gang-related crime and working to reduce harm from drugs like methamphetamine.
In May, he said a gang focus police unit being set up in Hawke’s Bay would go some way to curb the rise of gang violence in the region.

In April he said police had dealt a major blow to the Comanchero gang with the arrest of senior gang leaders and seizure of nearly $4 million of assets. Police efforts reflected the Government’s commitment to go hard on organised crime, he said…

I must admit I’m with Bridges on this. Current measures to tackle the gangs continually infesting, intimidating & sometimes effectively controlling access to, our communities are tinkering around the edges. The time for society, and Maori society in particular, making excuses for putting up with this blight upon the nation, & all the shocking donestic violence & other negative impacts & social statistics they bring to townships & suburbs, should be over.

What do we do about them? How do we get them socially shunned, & young folk dissuaded from getting sucked into their thuggery & their false & distorted sense of “family” akin, in my view, to that of the Sicilian & American mafiosi?

People vs Parliament

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9881074/election-choice-johnson-corbyn-majority/

A report from Missy in the UK


At the beginning of September Parliament returned from summer recess and boy has it been interesting. First of all is the news that after a summer of threatening a Vote of No Confidence Jeremy Corbyn, (as I predicted), bottled it and failed to table a Vote of No Confidence, however, it doesn’t mean that Parliament has been short of drama.

The opposition managed to take control of the order paper with the assistance of a number of Remain supporting Conservative MPs, and they passed the Withdrawal Act 2 (also known as the Benn Act), immediately after this passed in the House of Commons the PM tabled a motion for a General Election to be held on 15 October which was defeated.

This Act states the PM must ask for an extension to Article 50 by 19 October, and that it has to be until 31 January at the earliest, however, it also states that if the EU offer a longer extension he must accept it unless Parliament rejects it within 3 days. At first many thought it would be defeated as the Conservative Lords were heading for an epic filibuster on the Thursday and Friday, however, all of a sudden the filibuster was called off amidst reports that Corbyn agreed to vote for a General Election if the bill passed. The bill duly passed and the motion for a General Election was tabled again, however, Corbyn reneged and voted against it, prompting accusations of him being a chicken, the reality is most likely that Corbyn is aware of how badly he is doing in the polls and that Boris Johnson would get a good majority.

Whilst the Party Conferences were taking place after Prorogation, a number of court cases were taken out against the PM for the proroguing of Parliament. In Scotland a number of MPs went to court, and the Scottish High Court found in favour, ruling not only that the Prorogation was illegal but that the PM had lied to the Queen, though how they could say he lied to the Queen without actually calling the Queen as a witness to know what he said to her I don’t know. In England Gina Miller took a case to the High Court, which ruled that proroguing Parliament is a prerogative power making it a political process and therefore non justifiable. Both cases were appealed and last week the Supreme Court ruled that the proroguing of Parliament, whilst legal in itself, was prorogued for an excessive period of time and was therefore unlawful (as opposed to illegal). This means the Supreme Court have set a new legal precedent, and have made the proroguing of Parliament for excessive length of time unlawful.

So, last Wednesday Parliament resumed and despite the MPs saying they had to return to urgently debate Brexit they didn’t spend any time on Brexit. MP after MP lined up to have a pop at the PM and Attorney General, Boris however managed to still get the better of them. On a day that the Leader of the Opposition should have been able to have the PM on the ropes, it was the Leader of the Opposition that was on the back foot and the PM that came off the best.

Corbyn kept saying that the PM should resign, and called on Boris Johnson to resign several times, the response of the PM was to refuse to resign and tell Corbyn that if he wanted to get rid of him to agree to a General Election. The PM gave a one time offer that he would accept a Vote of No Confidence from any party that had the courage to call it, many were hoping the DUP would gazump Corbyn and call the vote, they didn’t however. Despite all opposition MPs saying that Boris Johnson should resign and wasn’t fit to be PM they stopped short of calling a Vote of No Confidence to trigger an election. The Government tabled a motion to recess Parliament for their Party Conference next week, they are the only party who have yet to have their Conference, and predictably the opposition spitefully blocked it, however, the Conservatives will go ahead with their conference in spite of it, but it is rumoured that the opposition will do everything they can to disrupt it.

It was reported today that the SNP have come to an agreement with Labour whereby they will support a Government of National Unity with Jeremy Corbyn as PM in return for Corbyn approving a second independence Referendum. This Government will be formed for a period time to gain an extension, have a second referendum which they hope will vote Remain so they can then revoke Article 50 before holding a General Election. This of course will have to depend on rebel Conservative MPs (who have mostly indicated they would abstain or vote against the Government, some even saying they would prefer a hard left Marxist Government to leaving the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement), and the Liberal Democrats who have indicated they wouldn’t support Jeremy Corbyn as PM, but would support someone else. And here is where we get into the most likely campaign strategy for the Government if they can force a General Election in the next couple of months. Whether or not they extend Article 50 the Government’s strategy is most likely going to be the people vs Parliament angle, with Boris Johnson and the Conservatives on the side of the people and the rest the elitist establishment who want to tie the UK into the EU Empire.

This strategy could work, and I am sure those working in Number 10 are gathering the soundbites, videos etc to use, and the most useful for them will be from the Liberal Democrats. Jo Swinson, the Lib Dems leader, has already stated on the record that she would not accept a second referendum outcome for Leave, which most are using as justification for not supporting a second referendum as they believe she would not implement such a vote if she was leader, further the Liberal Democrats have voted to revoke Article 50 if they become Government without a vote, (so this contradicts their previous policy of a second referendum), lastly Guy Verhofstadt spoke at the Liberal Democrat Conference and his speech talked about the future EU Empire, now it is hard to know if the words were chosen incorrectly due to English being his second language, but regardless it does play into Leavers hands on the future empirical ambitions of the EU.

Boris Johnson’s reference to the Benn Act as the Surrender Act is, I believe, part of them positioning for a General Election campaign, it angers the opposition and the more it angers them the more that the PM uses that phrase and the more support he gets. Surrender Act was trending on Twitter when Boris used it, and many Leavers (not just Conservatives) are using the phrase. That is a key thing, May did not have the ability to bring together people from different political views, Boris however is managing to do that, a number of voters in the North of England who are being interviewed are saying they have never voted Conservative, but will vote for Boris.

All in all, I believe that sometime in the next 2-3 months there will be an election in the UK, and the Conservatives will be using the People vs Parliament strategy, it won’t be a formal or official slogan (that is most likely to be Get Brexit Done – which has also been trending on Twitter) but everything said by the Conservatives will be underpinning that message.

 

A Christian reconsiders the Resurrection of Christ

Post from Kimbo:


The Christian faith, of its own admission, stands or falls on the bodily resurrection of Christ. As per the words of the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians chapter 15, if Christ did not rise again the Christian faith is “useless”, “false witness”, “futile” and “pitiable”. You maybe have a whole host of doubts, objections and flat-out dismissals concerning the resurrection of Christ. Fair enough, but as a Christian I’ll explain what I find the number one challenge to believing the fantastical claim that a man rose from the dead.

To put my challenge in its necessary context, I’ll first outline what I think is fairly certain about the wider Jesus story. The interests of brevity do not permit a detailed explanation why, but I think by the reasonable standards of historical inquiry and inference from the written record of the New Testament Gospels, and the discernible oral traditions from which much of them were derived, the following is likely factual:

  1. There was a Jewish man named Jesus of Nazareth who lived in 1st Century Palestine.
  2. He had an itinerant ministry in Galilee and Judea, which attracted a following, with a core group at the centre.
  3. Central to the message of that ministry was the Jewish apocalyptic expectation of the imminent arrival of God’s kingdom on earth, with Jesus at the centre in some way.
  4. Jesus’ ministry culminated in a dispute with the Jewish authorities who administered the temple in Jerusalem, and who concluded Jesus was, among other dangerous activities, a blasphemer.
  5. As a result, Jesus was put to death by means of crucifixion at the hands of the occupying Romans, whose involvement in his demise was aroused by the additional charge of sedition.
  6. At the time of Jesus arrest and detainment before death, one of Jesus’ followers, Cephas/Simon Peter publicly denied any association with him.
  7. Another of Jesus’ followers, Judas Iscariot, was alleged to have played a part in that arrest.
  8. After Jesus’ death some women attached to his group claimed his body was no longer where it was left after had died.
  9. From that beginning the belief quickly arose among the group that Jesus had risen from the dead, then appeared to them, before ascending to heaven. Also, he was Israel’s long-hoped for Messiah who would one day return to usher in the kingdom of God.
  10. A few years later, Saul of Tarsus, a zealous Jew and former persecutor of the Jesus-movement claimed Jesus had appeared to him in a vison. As a result, Saul became a believer and eventual leader within the Jesus-movement, and he played a key role in expanding the movement beyond Jews to Gentiles throughout the Roman Empire.

You’ll notice I said that the group believed Jesus rose again, not that he necessarily did. For us, who are expected according to Scripture to believe their account, the primary weakness in taking that additional step lies in the nature of that group. First, with the death of their leader they would have been struck with a combination of fear, confusion and grief.

Everyone remember the Kubler Ross grief cycle? First comes denial, then comes anger, then comes bargaining. Whatever else the early church may have been, it was indisputably a first Century Jewish apocalyptic sect. History is full of examples of similar sects whose hope in the end of the age was dashed, and due to a combination of denial and bargaining, they rationalised and recalibrated to keep the hope and movement alive. What became the Seventh Day Adventists are one example, and what became the Jehovah’s Witnesses are another. Both expected the return of Jesus in 1844-45 and 1914 respectively, and when he failed to show up both resorted to “invisible heavenly” actions by Jesus to explain the failed prophecy.

Indeed, from the perspective of orthodox Judaism that’s what Christianity looks like – a sect that put its eggs in the basket of a false Messiahship-claim. Why don’t Jews believe in Jesus? Among other reasons for many Jews the idea of a dead Messiah is an oxymoron. Messiahs don’t die, much less on a cross which is a sign of God’s curse according to Mosaic law. Instead the Messiah ends death by ushering in the resurrection at the end of the age. So, from the Jewish perspective, the purported resurrection of Jesus looks like the denial-and-bargaining process of an apocalyptic sect, trying to rationalise away the fact that they got it wrong…and then they suckered a gullible bunch of Gentiles, too ignorant to know what genuine Judaism was.

The second feature of the original Jesus-was-resurrected group was that they were precisely that – a group. We are, of our very nature, social beings. There is a reason that the New Testament counsels believers to fellowship together, teaching, encouraging, strengthening and rebuking one another as required. That’s how groups, all groups operate to some extent. They keep one another in line so they can fulfil their function or purpose. That doesn’t necessarily have to be the pejorative “group-think” of George Orwell. However, the reality is that to fit in with the expectations and culture of the group and maintain tolerable social comfort levels, people will, in the right circumstances, tow the party line. Like, say, when some of the women come telling the rest of the group that Jesus’ dead body was not where it was left. And then another mentions that a bystander confirmed to them that Jesus wasn’t there. And then another says…Jesus appeared to her. And then someone thinks, what would it mean if Jesus did rise again, how would that fit with the possibility he was the Messiah, and then…

The third feature of the religious group that seems to have genuinely believed in the resurrection story in contradiction to normal expectations is, yet again, they were precisely that – a religious group. I’ve heard Christian apologists make the blanket claim that there is no way that the purported post-resurrection appearances of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew, Luke and John can be psychotic episodes because psychosis is a personal, not a group phenomenon. Ok, but even if that is so, what about phenomena that does affect groups that doesn’t fit the diagnosis of psychosis but involves the distortion of ordinarily-accepted reality?

Leaving aside John Marco Allegro’s now generally discredited magic mushrooms theory, maybe there was some ancient Palestinian version of LSD that lead them off on a group resurrection-trip. But more likely is that if you look for group-induced distortions of reality that mirror some of the elements of psychosis, they aren’t too hard to find. Especially among the religious. I mean, come on! How many suicide bombers getting in early for their 72 virgins, or Jonestown suicide pacts do you need to confirm the fact that, in the right circumstances, especially in a group setting religious people will believe and do anything! I’ve seen it, indeed to my embarrassment I’ve at one time done it – religious people full of zeal who claim to see and drive out demons, lengthen legs and straighten backs. Or worship, or clap or howl at the Pavlovian prompting of a shyster using all the usual party tricks of clairvoyant cold readings, group hysteria and carefully crafted-group pressure.

So, is that what happened with the original Jesus-group? Or is it at least a reasonable possibility. I’d say, yes. From the perspective of New Testament critical scholarship, it solves some problems, like how the thus-far observed laws of nature were contradicted in Jesus’ alleged resurrection. However, it would also raise some others. Including and especially how the likely very primitive confessional formula that Paul recited in I Corinthians 15: 3-8a came to be:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born…

Not just one, or a small group, but over five hundred? The quick-and-easy “the Bible is just made up and was written years after the events it records” is too simplistic in the case of I Corinthians 15, but again space prohibits explaining why here. Suffice to say, it seems that irrespective of whether Jesus rose again or not, the belief he was seen by over five hundred of his followers is genuine. So how did that work? Maybe there could have been someone who looked like Jesus, standing at a distance from the crowd (The Life of Brian, “Blessed are the cheesemakers”, anyone?). Add in denial-bargaining, group-think, religious hysteria and rationalising that the movement has to carry on, and maybe that’s the answer. Put it this way – contrary to the assurances of Christian apologists, I don’t think it can be easily dismissed.

So yeah, it’s a real possibility the resurrection of Jesus was genuinely-believed but mistaken by his original followers. But is it the most likely? Well, from the perspective of modern scepticism, which via the scientific method has rid the world of small pox, sent human beings to the moon and made an assortment of discoveries that would amaze the Iron Age inhabitants of 1st Century Palestine, it is indeed probably the best explanation. So am I rationalising and seeking to work back from my desired conclusions to a method that will furnish them if I note that scepticism is not the only valid starting point? Or that I’m not yet ready to give up my faith?

What does Jesus save us from?

Post from Gezza:

What does Jesus save us from?

This a question that has puzzled me from the first time that I began to wonder, whenever I heard the constantly uttered slogan from Believers in Christianity that Jesus is our Saviour. Saviour from what?

Fortunately this is answered, reasonably comprehensively, in my view, in this summary here:


Jesus is the most important figure in all of human history. He is God in flesh (John 1:1,14; Col. 2:9), physically risen from the dead (John 2:19-21), Lord (Luke 24:34), and Savior (Acts 5:30-32). He came to die for sinners (Rom. 5:8) and to deliver people from the righteous wrath of God upon us.

Are you a sinner?

Have you ever lied, stolen, lusted, coveted, or been angry with someone unjustly? If so, then you have broken the Law of God. God has said, “You shall not steal; You shall not lie; You shall have no other gods before Me; You shall not murder, etc.,” (Exodus 20). He has given the standard of righteousness and if you have broken any of God’s commandments then you have fallen short of that standard and are under the inevitable judgment of God. When you die, you will face Him and on the Day of Judgment, He will punish all sinners.

Jesus is the One we all need to be saved. Him alone. Not your works (Rom. 3:10-12; Isaiah 64:6). Not your sincerity. Not your goodness. You have nothing to offer God except your sinfulness. It is only by the love and grace of God found in Jesus and His sacrifice that you can be delivered from the righteous wrath of God upon all who have broken His law. Jesus saves you from God.

God’s wrath on the Day of Judgment is upon sinners

On the Day of Judgment God will judge all people for their sins against Him. He will judge all who have lied, stolen, cheated, lusted, dishonored their parents, etc. He will do this because He is holy and righteous. God must punish the sinner. God cannot and will not ignore the person who has broken His righteous law. The Law is a reflection of the character of God. Therefore, to break God’s law is to offend God and deny the holiness of His character. He will be vindicated. He will judge.

The Bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). That means that your sins have caused a separation between you and God (Isaiah 59:2) and the result is death (Rom. 6:23) and wrath (Eph. 2:3). The only way to be saved from the wrath of God, is to be saved from it by faith in Christ (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 5:1). You must trust in what Jesus did on the cross to forgive you of your sins and not trust anything else, not even your own sincerity or works. It is Jesus and only Jesus who can turn away the righteous judgment of God upon the sinner.

The Gospel

The gospel is that Jesus died for sinners on the cross, was buried, and rose from the dead (1 Cor. 15:1-4). His death was a sacrifice that turns away the wrath of God (1 John 2:2). This is the only way to be saved.

Jesus is the one who died for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). He is the only way to the God the Father (John 14:6). He alone reveals God (Matt. 11:27). He has all authority in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18). It is only through Him that you can be saved from God’s wrath (Eph. 2:3). He can forgive you of your sin (Luke 5:20; Matt. 9:2). He can remove the guilt that is upon your soul. Jesus can set you free from the bondage of sin that blinds your eyes, weakens your soul, and brings you to despair. He can do this because He bore sin in His body on the cross (1 Peter. 2:24) that those who trust in Him would be saved.

If you are not a Christian and want to be delivered from the righteous judgment of God upon you due to your sin against Him, then you must come to the One who died for the sins of the world. Come to the One who died for sinners (Matt. 11:28). Turn from your sins. Believe and trust in Jesus. Receive Jesus, who is God in flesh, who died and rose from the dead (1 Cor. 15:1-4) as your Lord and Savior. Ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins. Receive Christ (John 1:12). Only He can wash you clean from your sins and only Jesus can deliver you from the righteous judgment of a holy and infinite God. Pray to Jesus. Seek Him. Ask Him to save you.
He will.
… … …
PS: By the way, please note that the writer of this material states that: the Jesus of Mormonism (the brother of the devil), the Jesus of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (an angel made into a man), the Jesus of the New Age (a man in tune with the divine consciousness), etc., cannot save you from your sins. That Faith is only as good as the person in whom you put it… the Jesus of the Bible. Jesus is God in flesh, the creator. God is a trinity and Jesus is the second person of the trinity.


My considered opinion on all that

I’m sorry but, looked at in the cold, clear light of rationality, modern education, plain common sense, and in the context of the modern world (or any “world” which has never had, or which long ago outgrew the foolish notion in more primitive societies that sacrifices must be made to propitiate vengeful, powerful, human-like gods) in my view, this is a really, obviously, long-out-of-date – understandable – but silly idea.

Even if you want to believe there’s some sort of supernatural, scientifically undetectable or empirically-unprovable creator – what intelligent, educated person these days can seriously be expected to still believe in this very old idea? That of sacrificing animals, plants, even humans, to placate, thank, or feed imagined gods – which it was quite reasonably thought back then must somehow be responsible for natural phenomena whose causes and mechanisms were otherwise incomprehensible at the time – that seems to have been widespread among ancient, primitive, uneducated societies everywhere ?

Even the Aztecs, who seem to have had some knowledge of astronomy, are reported to have also been in to killing & sacrificing willing or unwilling unfortunates to gods. But, like the ancient Kingdom of Israel, their civilisations eventually crumbled or were eclipsed by other peoples’, with other gods, who just ignored theirs & took over.

And even if it is accepted that Jesus of Nazareth was one of many – usually blokes – who had during their lifetime, observed the behaviour of their fellows & concluded there must be a better way for humans to live to make a kinder, nicer, more generous, more gentle, more tolerant society – thought about it, & began to formulate, teach & preach his ideas – there’s nothing particularly unusual about this.

It’s kind of common sense stuff, once you abandon the idea a primitive imaginary god – that some persuasive person or leader had thought up, & which (or who) they’d convinced others, had given them not just 7 practical common sense “laws” to prevent common causes of disharmony, violence & rage, disruption & vengeance in societies everywhere, but also dozens of other unnecessary rules, customs, & rituals to govern simple tribal peoples living relatively unsophisticated lives in places like the Middle East.

I remember realising one day that it wasn’t just my parents & my Christian upbringing, nor empathy, that had embedded in me notions of fairness, compassion, charity, self-control, patience, good & bad, right & wrong, belief in looking & working always for the triumph of virtue over evil & cruelty. As a young child, I was an avid reader of children’s books. And Many Stories, Fairy Tales, Fables, & Wise Proverbs, from many parts of the world, had done exactly the same thing.

Isn’t it much more likely that this was ALL that a wise man, Jesus of Nazareth, did? Teach his theory of better behaviour? And that the rest of it is just embellishment by his disciples & later converts who never knew him – initially just to help them sell his ideas to folk who still believed in their original imaginary god, Jaweh?


This post has been added to the Your NZ menu for easy access. If there is continued interest in this it may be continued, or there may be further linked posts.

This post and discussion may be confronting for some people – if you don’t like your religious beliefs challenged then it may not be for you.

The usual rules on decent debate and no abuse apply – this is a debate on the concepts of gods and religion, and is not an opportunity for free shots at specific groups of religious followers. Comments that I think are inappropriate may be edited or deleted.

Other guest posts will be considered on this topic, but they need to be aimed at encouraging debate and should not try to preach a particular religious position.

Why do people believe in a non-existent Abrahamic God?

From Gezza:


Everybody knows that in various parts of the world there have been cruelties, multiple murders, mass executions, mass shootings, beheadings, suicide bombings, sectarian killings – all carried out by fanatical followers of what is usually claimed to be severe, but utterly perverted, versions of Islam.

And they know that by far the most of their victims have been Muslims, often members of other sects, or innocent people who, for example, just happened to be there, or passing by, when an IED went off.

But many victims in the recent past have been Westerners – Christians, Jews, people of other faiths, or no religious faith. And these attack & victims often seem to attract far more attention in Western media than the multiple murders of so many other victims of the constantly currently ongoing Islamic extremist terrorist attacks & in Africa, Afghanistan, & some Middle Eastern countries, to name a few.

Many Christians & their leaders, as well as what are frequently called, these days, moderate or ordinary Muslims, claim that this is not Islam. This is not what Allah, who communicated the Quran, through the angel Gabriel, to Muhammad, & thereafter, to all believers, ever intended to happen. That these murderers, like the Christchurch mass murderer are deluded, dreadfully misguided, or just simply plain evil.

Christians & Jews & Muslims, however, all believe that their own version of the same, sole, & only Creator God, Jaweh is the true & correct one.

And, they also believe all sorts of patently untrue claims about them, including that, as God, each one – the same one in some form or other – has communicated with ancient, bronze age, iron age, & medieval age, scientifically & educationally ignorant, goat herders, shepherds, song writers, wandering prophets, kings, warriors, warlords, a Merchant Camel Caravan trader – & god knows who else (so to speak).

Communicated in all sorts of diverse ways, nearly all of them, in my view, ridiculous. To tell them how the world, and they, were created. And what this non-existent, mythical God expects, & wanted – and still wants – them to do.

Creating also phantasmal places of eternal punishment – to scare them into obeying its sometimes cruel & bizarre, originating-culture-driven, rules & commands. And creating equally unbelievable temptations of a rapturous reward in a veritable heaven on earth-type utopia after death, or at the forthcoming (completely imaginary) Last Day, the Day of Judgement, if they do so.

Throughout history, at many places & various times, all, or many of the believers in, and followers of:

The Israelites’ Jaweh – the original, Old Testament model (sticking with this spelling, for simplicity) the Jewish God

and

The Christians’ Father (Jaweh), his Son, Jesus, & the Holy Spirit entity – who popped up in the New Testament along with Jesus – the mythical 3-in-1 God; the Trinity – version 2, new & improved

and

The Muslims’ Allah, who instructed Muhammad about everything humans needed to know that mattered, & corrected all the misinterpretations & misrepresentations that had happened with the Jews & Christians over time such that they had now got his messages & information about “life, the universe, & everything” – including his requirements for humans – all screwed up

have carried out, sanctioned, or just ignored or not cared about, countless outrages, cruelties, killings, invasions, repressions, inquisitions, tortures, & resistances to reason or knowledge, by their fellow believers or leaders – simply because they, incredibly, actually believe in the existence & claimed supernatural abilities, & loving, beneficent nature of this bizarre, contradictory, confusing, confused, failure of a god; this non-existent entity.

For God’s sake! WHY?

There is NO convincing, reasoned, logical proof or actual tangible, physical evidence this god even exists. None.

They are claiming something exists that is invisible & empirically indemonstrable, & that it has wonderful properties, that it has given advice, wisdom, knowledge & ultimate rules to humans – that the very holy books & other scriptures these believers use to promote these myths as a viable theory – plus history, plus science, plus simple logic, & observation – all, clearly, utterly disprove.

Why is this “thing” needed? What on earth makes people believe in it?

Is it fear? Are they just afraid that, when they die, that’s the end of their existence? Do they need to believe there’s a way their being, their essence, personality,  consciousness, their “soul” (i.e. they) will live forever?

Are they driven by a psychological need to believe they will one day be everlastingly perfect, & see their dead loved ones, also perfect, again?

Are they convinced that without fear of a post-mortem everlasting punishment, and/or the expectation of a rapturous paradise for believing & obeying – they’d be bad, cruel, horrible, uncharitable, uncaring people, & so will everyone else?

Do they need to believe bad, evil people will one day get sentenced to everlasting torment as punishment? That “too bad, the bastards bloody deserve it – and more !”

Are their current lives miserable ones, & they can’t for some reason expect or act to change them? Is accepting their poor lot as “God’s will” making it something that can be endured more easily, because they really think there’s a mythical paradise, a beautiful, better, everlasting life – with no fears, no worries, just pleasure, satisfaction, peace, calm, no stress, no unmet needs at all to come, one day?

Are they just scared that, despite all the things we have now learnt about how the universe, the earth, plants, animals, humans – the real world, really work – there are so  many, many things we still don’t know? Can they not live with not knowing, but that it doesn’t matter?

I was raised a Christian. It’s the religion I know the most about & have read & thought & debated & argued the most about. I don’t know whether there is a single, sole creator of the universe, but I see no evidence that, if there is one, it has ANY interest in actively intervening in the operation of the Cosmos, or in human affairs, or that it has ever done so.

I know lots of people – apparently rational, sane, educated, knowledgeable, intelligent people – still believe in it. And that at least as many of the same kind of intelligent people, (maybe, hopefully, now a lot more) don’t.

I can say that I have NEVER, EVER seen ANY irrefutable, empirical evidence, or ANY convincing hint of evidence, or any truly convincing argument that the Abrahamic God does, really, actually exist.  Only tortuous attempts at arguing that it does, from the start point of doggedly-committed, already-believing followers, that it does, trying to think up & argue any thing they can to justify already believing in something that’s clearly not even there.

So, I often wonder why some people need to believe it exists? What does it do for them? What need does it meet that the rest of us who know it’s a myth don’t have?

Interested to hear from anyone what they think, and why?


This post has been added to the Your NZ menu for easy access. If there is continued interest in this it may be continued, or there may be further linked posts.

This post and discussion may be confronting for some people – if you don’t like your religious beliefs challenged then it may not be for you.

The usual rules on decent debate and no abuse apply – this is a debate on the concepts of gods and religion, and is not an opportunity for free shots at specific groups of religious followers. Comments that I think are inappropriate may be edited or deleted.

PG

Can Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa NZ help save the world?

Reposted as requested:

Extinction Rebellion was established in the United Kingdom in October 2018 as a movement that aims to use tactics of nonviolent direct action in order to avert the effects of climate change. Since its formation it has rapidly spread to at least 35 other countries, including New Zealand, who have recently carried a few headline-grabbing protests, with the promise of more to come.

Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement are encouraged by the fact that the movement has managed to tap into the sense of alarm over climate change, and mobilised many people not previously involved in protest, and we do not want to undermine the important work that they are doing, but we feel that there is a conversation that needs to be had about some of their demands.

While we support the means of using direct action tactics it is their ends that needs greater examination. Extinction Rebellion is essentially a reformist movement, whose earnest activists lack a real vision of what is needed if we are serious about halting the damage to our environment. Instead, they are pinning their hopes on merely making adjustments to the present system which is destroying our world.

We argue that this isn’t enough, and the only way to effectively campaign to halt climate change is to impart a true picture of a capitalism whose insatiable hunger for profit is not only undermining the working and living conditions of hundreds of millions of working people but the basis of life itself. The future of our planet depends on building a livable environment and a movement powerful enough to displace capitalism.

Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa NZ are guilty of thinking that their demands can create an idyllic capitalism, managed by the state, that can end the destruction being caused to the Earth’s environment They see their role as just needing to make enough noise to wake up political and business leaders. Theirs is a view which sees capitalism moving towards sustainability and zero growth. It is the idea that capitalism can be reformed to become a green system. In this model of capitalist society lifestyles change and infrastructure are reformed while technical green advances are applied. It supposes that all would be well if we all bought organic food, never took a holiday anywhere which would involve flying, and put on more clothes in winter rather than turn up the heating. Green capitalism presumes it will be enough to replace fossil fuels with renewables, whilst leaving the overall system intact.

We argue that such a scenario completely ignores the way capitalism operates, and must operate, and is therefore hopelessly utopian. The present capitalist system is driven by the struggle for profit. The present system’s need for infinite growth and the finite resources of Earth stand in contradiction to each other. Successful operation of the system means growth or maximising profit, it means that nature as a resource will be exploited ruthlessly. The present destruction of the planet is rooted in the capitalist system of production and cannot be solved without a complete break with capitalism. Yet ending capitalism is something that Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa NZ does not appear to be prepared to countenance, they are only attacking the symptoms rather than the cause. They see their green capitalism as a type of capitalism worth fighting for.

We, rather, see the need to create a different form of social organisation before the present system destroys us all. The entire system of production based on wage labour and capital needs to be replaced with a system which produces for human needs. All the half measures of converting aspects of capitalism to limit the damage to the environment, while the fundamentals of capitalism remain in place, are just wishful thinking, and to pretend they could solve our problems is deception on a grand scale.

The fact is that before production can be carried out in ecologically-acceptable ways capitalism has to go. Production for profit and the uncontrollable drive to accumulate more and more capital mean that capitalism is by its very nature incapable of taking ecological considerations into account properly, and to be honest it is futile to try to make it do so.

A sustainable society that is capable of addressing climate change can only be achieved within a world where all the Earth’s resources, natural and industrial, are under the common ownership of us all, as well as being under grassroots democratic control at a local and regional level. If we are going to organise production in an ecologically sound way we can either plead with the powers that be or we can take democratic control of production ourselves, and the reality is to truly control production we have to own and control the means of production. So, a society of common ownership and democratic control is the only framework within which the aims of Extinction Rebellion can be realised. In reality, to achieve their wish of halting climate collapse, those within Extinction Rebellion should be anarchists.

One of the demands of Extinction Rebellion is a call for participatory democracy, and yet they also talk of giving governments emergency war-time powers. It’s not altogether clear what they mean by this. Does it mean, for example, seizing fossil fuel industries and shutting them down? Enforcing new low-carbon, low-travel, and low-meat shifts in consumption? Or imposing sanctions against companies or countries trafficking in fossil fuels? Will it see imprisonment for those whose protest when they feel their interests may be compromised by green government legislation?

In the past, warlike conditions and major disasters typically were seen to justify the temporary abolition of democratic liberties, but how long will they last for this fight, what will be the endpoint, or will the special war-time powers last indefinitely? Would such a suspension of democracy be easy to reverse anyway? These are big questions, and, for those of us that value the limited freedoms we have, they need to be addressed.

Giving more power to the state is also a case of putting all your eggs in one basket as there is no one simple response to fixing climate change. Climate change will bring many issues, those that we can have a go at predicting, but also many unforeseen. Increasing the powers of the state reduces its ability to be flexible and capable of learning from policy mistakes. The fight against climate change must be associated with greater local democracy. We need more democracy, strengthening local and regional capacities to respond to climate change. For those in Extinction Rebellion who think that there can be only one pathway to addressing climate change, the erosion of democracy might seem to be “convenient.” History, however, tells us that suppression of democracy undermines the capacity of societies to solve problems.

Those campaigning with Extinction Rebellion are no doubt sincere and caring people who want something different for themselves and future generations. In their own lifestyles they probably have made genuine changes which are in line with a more ecologically sustainable way of living. So have we, but we are well aware that our individual lifestyle changes are not going to change the fundamental nature of the social system which is damaging the planet. Millions of us might give up using products which destroy the environment, but what effect do we really have in comparison with the minority who own and control the multinational corporations. Just 100 companies have been responsible for 71% of global emissions since 1988. They, and all businesses, have an interest in keeping their costs down, and profits up. If their profits come before the long-term interests of people, who can blame them for sacrificing our needs? They can act no other way.

We do not have faith that capitalists, or their parliamentary representatives, can act in time to limit climate change in a meaningful way, but when we make a call for revolution, the answer we mostly get is that the lesser evil of piecemeal reforms will take less time to achieve than our grand anarchist aims. However, we think it is an ill-advised attitude to take that small improvements are more worthy of support than realisable big ones. There is unlikely ever to be a government passing meaningful green legislation. Governments may pass a few minor reforms to appease green voters, the business owners themselves may realise that some of their brands may be harmed by a lack of environmental concern, and greenwash their product, but ultimately these acts will be a sticking plaster when what is required is major surgery.

If anyone concerned with Extinction Rebellion read this and grasps the impossibility of what they are asking for, then we would say it’s time to keep the methods of direct action that you are advocating, but change the demands. If Extinction Rebellion ever wants their arguments to carry any force, then they need to campaign to abolish capitalism and create a system of grassroots democracy.

In the UK a Green Anti-Capitalist Front has been created to work alongside Extinction Rebellion but with a greater focus on the capitalist roots of climate catastrophe. We feel that such a coalition is needed here in Aotearoa / New Zealand. If anyone is interested in working with us to create such a group we can be contacted via our e-mail address.

http://awsm.nz/2019/03/12/can-extinction-rebellion-aotearoa-nz-help-save-the-world/

10 Step Guide to Detecting Conspiracy Theories & Bullshit

Guest post by Pink Panther (also posted here).


When the Internet made its appearance there was a lot of talk about the information super highway in which people would be able to click on a few buttons and get whatever information they were looking for.

Cue forward to 2019 and the information super highway is looking a lot more like the information rubbish tip. While its undeniable there is some good solid stuff out there, it’s also true that not only is some of the information irrelevant to what we’re looking for (as anyone who has used Google Search can attest to) but it is also unreliable. One of the reasons is the number of charlatans such as conspiracy theorists who have made the Internet their home.

Despite what you might think, lots of different kinds of people can be sucked in by conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, it is becoming all too common for people who should know better, to fall victim to this nonsense. This matters because we can only fight back against the very real material and political problems of the world as it is, by understanding reality. Once we know what is really going on, we will have a sound basis for organising resistance to it. So how can we detect if what we are reading is nonsense or a conspiracy theory? The ten step guide below is what I use to sift fact from fiction or half-truths. When that fails I turn to sites like www.skeptoid.com and www.snopes.com which are both non-partisan debunkers of bullshit, no matter what side of the political spectrum it comes from.

I. Use of Vague Statistics.

Any claim that uses a statistic like “One in three people are…” should always be treated with great scepticism because they’re meaningless. Without knowing anything like the number of people who were studied or surveyed, the terms of reference for the study or research undertaken or the people or organisation who conducted the research, we cannot determine if the statistic is real or made up. More often than not studies which use such vague references are made up or conducted by highly partisan groups trying to convince people that “research” backs what they say.

II. Awe with Percentages.

How many times have you read a poll that claims that “40% of Americans support Trump” or something similar? Most polls conducted by a polling company tend to interview between 1000 and 1500 people over a given time period and are chosen from electoral or other voting rolls. It’s not hard to realise that it is impossible to determine what millions of people think about anything on the basis of what 1000 or so people say. You also have to consider that such a sample excludes people who aren’t on electoral rolls for various reasons. Despite the claims that such polls are scientific no one has been able to explain just what part of the polling process actually involves science. Percentages without context are another problem. Informing us that the average house price has increased by 35% in a particular area doesn’t tell us anything. Telling us that the average house price in that area was $250,000 back in 2012 then telling us that house prices in that area have increased by 35% gives us information that is useful.

III. Emotive Manipulation.

In some news networks there is a lot of pressure to try and get as many people to support a certain viewpoint or to galvanise support for a particular cause. One way this is done is to get a hysterical parent wailing about how her child is a victim of a certain social or other evil in order to rally support for that cause. The problem with such news stories is little, or no, attempt is made to find out if anything the said parent has claimed is true, false or an combination of both. Also, no attempt is made to put things in context.

The problem with anecdotal, human interest and other stories of this nature is they exaggerate the extent of a social evil in the minds of the public.
An example of this is when a child is snatched off the streets and murdered. Parents stop letting their children walk to school out of fear the same thing will happen to their own children. This is despite the fact that crime statistics from the United States and other countries repeatedly show that the chances of anyone, let alone a child, being snatched from the streets and killed by strangers is very rare. For example, according to the New York Times (August 17th, 2016), the FBI reported that only 1,381 of the 11,961 homicides reported within the United States in 2014 involved people who were unknown to the victims.
Emotionally manipulative news items can also have serious consequences. U.S President Donald Trump’s crack down on undocumented immigrants and his so-called “Muslim ban” was largely the result of emotive hysteria whipped up by Fox News about crimes committed by undocumented migrants and terrorist acts by Islamic State in Europe.

IV. The Defying of Reality.

Let’s be blunt. Most conspiracy theories and incorrect news stories are exposed as such because they fail to pass the most basic test of “Is it practical or realistic that such a thing could happen?” The 9/11 Truthers often come unstuck on this one. They would have us believe that multiple American government agencies conspired to murder thousands of their fellow Americans so that George W Bush could justify invading Afghanistan for its oil and gas reserves.
There’s at least four major problems with that:
1. A plot to kill thousands of people would’ve required a degree of co-operation between various government agencies that did not exist at the time – and still doesn’t. U.S government agencies are notorious for jealously guarding their jurisdictions and tend to avoid co-operating unless circumstances or the law requires them to do so. It was the lack of co-operation between government and intelligence agencies that enabled the 9/11 hijackers to enter the United States despite the terrorists involved in the hijackings being on known or suspected terrorist watch lists. It was to ensure better information gathering and sharing between these agencies that the Department of Homeland Security was created. Yet, despite this, co-operation between various government agencies is the exception rather than the rule.
2. American civil servants are required to take an oath to uphold the U.S Constitution. As the U.S Constitution forbids extra-judicial killings (of which plotting to kill thousands of Americans would be an obvious breach of said Constitution) public servants would’ve had the legal requirement to come out and denounce such behaviour.
3. Afghanistan was not invaded for either gas or oil because Afghanistan has neither. It was invaded because George W Bush believed that the Taliban were harbouring the man they believed was responsible for orchestrating the 9/11 attacks.
4. Genuine whistle-blowers go to credible news organisations like CNN, ABC or NBC or newspapers like the L.A Times, Washington Post or New York Times. They don’t go to websites like InfoWars or tabloids like National Inquirer.

V. Ignorance of basic facts.

Conspiracy theorists often lack a basic understanding of the relevant fields they are lecturing about. None of the 9/11 Truthers or so-called “Scholars for 9/11 Truth” have relevant qualifications or expertise in the fields that would be most relevant in any investigation into the 9/11 terrorist attacks such as building demolition, structural engineering, air crash investigation, architecture, disaster management, building and construction or even chemistry. Instead, the 9/11 Truthers are made up of people like celebrities, religious scholars, former intelligence officers, ex-military officers and sports stars. In other words, people who simply don’t have the expertise or knowledge to answer if a building can collapse pancake-style from causes other than an explosion or if molten steel would contain thermite independent of any explosives. That’s why air crash investigators, arson investigators and police detectives don’t just look for one or two things when they suspect damage might’ve been caused by a bomb. They look for many things because sometimes explosive residue can be found at the site of a disaster that has been caused by something else.

For example, explosive residue was found on Partnair Flight 394 which crashed off the coast of Denmark on September 8th, 1989. Many people, particularly in Norway, initially believed it was a bomb because of reports of a loud explosion and because the Prime Minister of Norway had recently flown on the same aircraft. The reason why explosive residue was found on the wreckage was the result of contamination resulting from military ordinance littering the sea floor from various naval battles fought in the area. The cause of the crash was the failure of counterfeit aircraft parts used during aircraft maintenance.

VI. Confusing Authority with Expertise.

Yes, there is a difference between authority and expertise. Authority is gained from one’s position or title within a group or organisation. Expertise is gained from learning, working in and mastering a particular skill, trade or area of knowledge.

Among conspiracy theorists there is a tendency to ignore the experts in their chosen fields in favour of authority figures. The more common authority figures they listen to are celebrities, ex-wrestlers like the former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, former military officers and former police officers.
Few conspiracy theorists see the absurdity of debunking authority figures who have the expertise to back up what they are saying by claiming they’re all in cahoots with the evil, omnipresent government or Big Something-or-other but not the authority figures who go along with their conspiracies.

VII. Playing on prejudices.

They play on people’s prejudices to advance their nonsense. Despite what the moral relativists may claim it’s not necessary to be a white heterosexual male to indulge in stereotyping. Stereotyping is attributing to all persons within a certain group attributes – both negative and positive – that may or may not be held by many people within that group. Some of the more obvious stereotypes are the hard working and well educated Asians who are all work and no fun, the Muslim terrorists who want to impose Sharia law upon us, the lazy drug addicted welfare queen… I’m sure there’s many other stereotypes that one can think of. Stereotyping often comes about as the direct result of selective reporting about certain groups within both traditional and social media that is picked up and used to vilify anyone who belong to those groups. All arguments presented by anyone from those groups will be greeted with comments like “Oh you would say that because you are one of them!” and people who defend those being stereotyped will be attacked with comments like “That’s what we expect from an apologist for these people.”

VIII. Treating the masses with contempt.

For people who claim to speak for the ordinary person in the street or who desire to “educate” them the conspiracy theorists regularly abuse and vilify the masses by labelling them “sheeple”, “muppets”, “ignorant” or “liars”. Rarely, if ever, do they assume the masses might have enough intelligence to work out the facts for themselves. A search on YouTube for anything to do with debunking anti-vaccination campaigns, 9/11 Truthers or Pizzagate will provide ample examples of this contempt in the Comments section.

IX. The Obsession with the word “Big”.

An obsession is prefixing any sector of society they dislike with the word “Big” as in “Big Pharma”, “Big Agriculture”, “Big Business” and “Big Government”. Everything they say and write ends up being about how something prefixed with the word “Big” is behind everything they dislike. Accusing people of belonging to Big Something-or-other is a sure-fire way to try and discredit anyone who challenges the claims made by a conspiracy theorist.

That leads us to the single biggest indicator that something is wrong or a conspiracy theory.

X. Using supposedly “Anti-Establishment” sources because they provide “alternative sources of news”.

A British conservative may be happier reading The Times while a liberal counterpart may be more contented with reading The Guardian but both newspapers contain the same basic content. What separates the two newspapers is their bias. The former is biased towards its conservative readership and the latter is biased towards its liberal readership. Bias doesn’t make a news story fake or the news organisation a fake news peddler or a bunch of conspiracy theorists.
While both The Guardian and The Times are Establishment publications they employ editors, sub-editors, fact checkers, reporters and journalists who actually go out and find out if what is being told to them is true. They usually come back with different interpretations of what has happened but they don’t differ when it comes to the basic facts. They also distinguish between opinion pieces where a writer peddles their viewpoint and the news. Most supposedly “Anti-Establishment” or alternative news sources have none of these things. They don’t distinguish between facts and opinions. They don’t bother to find out if what is being written or broadcast is true or false. They only care that what they produce fits in with their world view. That usually means they cite from sources of like-minded groups and individuals.

‘All’ that most multi-billion dollar media companies want us to do (which is bad enough in itself!) is read stories while they harass us with endless advertising and marketing campaigns that keep the money rolling in for these companies. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is the multi-billion media empire it is because it encompasses newspapers, magazines and websites that have at least some diversity of opinions. That correspondingly brings in at least some diversity of readers and viewers whom Murdoch’s advertisers can harrange with advertising. They have a vested interest to tell us the truth most of the time, even if it’s usually biased in favour of Capitalists and Capitalism.

Don’t be fooled by the news charlatans and conspiracy theorists. They aren’t providing you with ‘alternative facts’ from alternative news sources. They make up what they say and they’re playing you for suckers as they laugh all the way to the bank with the money they got from hacking your personal data when you clicked on their site. You might find it temporarily comforting to believe you’ve been handed the mysteries of the universe via a website run by somebody living in his Mum’s garage. Spending hours listening to podcasts about chem-trails, our alien lizard overlords, the flat earth or the moon-landing ‘hoax’ etc. will perhaps provide psychological distraction from wondering how you’re going to pay this week’s rent. What it won’t do is give you the tools necessary to overcome and struggle effectively against the hard, cold and sometimes ‘boring’ realities of the world we really live in

Is Winston Peters playing the PM on foreign policy?

Guest post from Gezza


Interesting Opinion Piece by Patrick Smellie:

US and Chinese officials met in Beijing this week for the first talks since both countries’ presidents agreed a trade war ceasefire at last month’s G-20 summit in Argentina.

By early March, they need a plan that simultaneously softens the impact on China of the US’s new embrace of protectionism while starting to deal with China’s rampant intellectual property theft and subsidies that make its state-backed corporations unfair global competitors.

In doing so, both leaders will be seeking a win for their respective domestic audiences.

Getting there will be no mean feat. The Chinese ‘long view’ of history is a powerful organising principle for the Middle Kingdom’s global ambitions. Unlike Trump, its leadership is capable of thinking long-term.

I don’t know if that’s a fair assessment. Trump is capable of thinking long-term. He just isn’t capable of seeing other viewpoints and considering them, or of understanding what motivates others, or of adapting his negotiation strategies when it’s evident he could approach things differently. Or of concentrating enuf on details to foresee adverse consequences or opposition that could work against him.

He’s a rich kid who’s always done whatever it takes to get what he wants. And that includes lying, going bankrupt, and paying people to arrange for him to then profit from the misery & poverty that’s sometimes caused others. His narcissism works well for him when he’s in total control & surrounded by sycophants who will do his bidding. Or when he can cheat and lie & get away with it because he can bankrupt less wealthy opponents or victims, and for him the ends (getting what he wants) has always justified any means.

But now he’s not in total control. So he’s often chaotically flailing around in pursuit of long-term plans that he might deliver, but might screw up because he’s so flawed he makes people want to get rid of him to stop the chaos and division and wrecking of America’s standing in the world.

The talks also occur against a backdrop of heightened competition for defence and security influence around the world.

There has been questionable co-ordination between Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Foreign Minister and deputy Winston Peters over our relationships with China and the US.
The US-led initiative to keep Chinese-built Huawei and ZTE componentry out of Western 5G mobile networks represents the sharp point of intersection in trade and security tensions.

Nations try to pursue security and trade agendas on separate tracks, but one inevitably bleeds into the other in ways. At best, at a global level, these current tensions may be bad for global economic growth. At worst, they could become the catalyst for conflict, which an American president desperately seeking to project strength might embrace.

For New Zealand, this simultaneous escalation of trade and security tensions between our traditional western ally and our largest trading partner is fraught with the risk of becoming collateral damage in the ensuing contest of empires. As a member of the Five Eyes cyber-spying network, New Zealand sits on the US side of the anti-Huawei fence. But it also seeks an upgraded free trade agreement and legitimately worries that Beijing could turn off the tap on agricultural exports, international students, Chinese tourists – or all three.

Australia has already suffered for its more emphatically pro-US stance.

We should never put all our eggs in one basket. Both the US and the Chinese can punish us economically for simply pursuing our own issues-based foreign policy when they want to bully us into siding with them or opting out in disputes between their economic and foreign policy initiatives and engagements.

Wider free trade with as many other nations as possible is clearly desirable, but trade in what? As other countries are forced by Trade Agreements to become more productive and competitive with our major food exports, what else do we have?

Clearly, the New Zealand government needs to pursue any rebalancing in the relationships to the two biggest protagonists in our region with great care.

Just before Christmas, there were worrying signs to suggest such care is, if not absent, then lacking, with questionable co-ordination between Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Foreign Minister and deputy Winston Peters.

The Ardern approach embraces multi-lateralism, ‘progressive’ free trade agreements that do more to protect national sovereignty than in the past, and a new demonstration of leadership on climate change. On the world stage, Ardern has shone as a beacon of optimism and inter-generational leadership change.

That may be how she is portrayed here but apart from US female talk show hosts, who else in the world cares? So she’s a minor celebrity abroad with people who don’t count. What impact will she have on other world leaders? How many other young intergenerational leaders are there who will hearken to her siren song and make the world a kinder place? Isn’t her government rather chaotic and it’s benefits and drawbacks & objectives all rather fuzzy? Could it all just crash and burn? Hope not, but I just don’t know until we know what the werkinggruppes produce for them to make (or justify) policies from – and what they ignore.

Meanwhile, Peters and NZ First Defence Minister Ron Mark have made the running on defence and security policy in ways that are pulling New Zealand much closer to the US.

Mark’s defence strategy paper saw New Zealand explicitly criticise China’s expansionism in the South China Sea for the first time and his announcement of a multi-billion dollar upgrade of air force surveillance capability to include potential for anti-submarine weaponry were highly significant nods to Washington DC.

Peters took that a step further last month. In a speech to an elite US audience on the Pacific region shortly before meetings with deputy vice-president Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Peters said: “We unashamedly ask the United States to engage more and we think it is in your vital interests to do so.”

Time was “of the essence” as “larger players are renewing their interest in the Pacific with an attendant level of strategic competition”. These and other parts of the speech represented serious new lines in the sand for New Zealand foreign policy.

We probably should want the US to engage more in the South Pacific. China’s interest is self-interest. And the degrading of American influence & power is vital to that. But do we want to engage more with the US under Trump? Really? Trump’s interest is American self-interest. Hopefully when Trump is gone – which may be by 2020 – sanity and a more careful, thoughtful President will make them take more of an interest in promoting & protecting the interests of free speech democracies in the South Pacific on both moral & shared interests grounds.

But when asked whether she had read the speech prior to delivery, let alone whether the Cabinet had discussed it, Ardern gave an almost breezy dismissal.

That is deeply worrying.

Regardless of whether Peters is articulating a revised foreign policy stance that the whole coalition government agrees with, such revisions require the active engagement of both the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.

Failing to insist on that fuels the narrative that Peters is successfully playing Ardern not only on domestic policy issues, but on foreign policy as well, leveraging his party’s impacts far beyond the mandate implied by its 5 per cent support at the 2017 election.

Ok. Maybe. So what? Is National likely to have any more of a coherent foreign policy or to do anything different?

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/109828977/is-winston-peters-playing-the-pm-on-foreign-policy

Free speech battle brews between feminist and trans-activist groups

From Gezza:

A company has pulled posters commemorating women’s suffrage after pressure from LBTGI youth groups who say the feminist blogger behind the poster campaign holds transgender exclusionary beliefs.

Phantom Billsticker’s managing director Jamey Holloway says the company previously hung posters for Wellington writer and activist Renee Gerlich as part of women’s suffrage projects. This year marks 125 years since women gained the right to vote in New Zealand.  At issue this year were complaints triggered by the tagline “suffragists worked for the female sex – stop rewriting history” that appeared on Gerlich’s posters – a statement some see as denying transgender women’s right to identify as women.


One of Wellington activist Renee Gerlich’s posters commemorating women’s suffrage. The tagline has been criticised by some as promoting the rejection transgender women’s right to identify as women.

Tabby Besley, national co-ordinator for InsideOUT – a group that advocates for young people of minority genders and sexualities – says the tagline displayed a subtle transphobia.

Phantom asked InsideOUT for advice after receiving complaints about Gerlich’s posters. Her understanding was the posters were harmful to trans and gender diverse people. “It’s a platform for what we see as hate speech … her blog is full of incredibly harmful words,” Besley says.

WRITING BY RENEE: https://reneejg.net/
Trigger warning: feminism, women’s rights

Holloway says many posters had been ripped down around Wellington and a “large number of people” had asked the company not to poster Gerlich’s campaign – but there were also calls in support of Gerlich.  Holloway says while it was not his job to “police a fight between marginalised groups” quashing anyone’s right to free speech was something the company was loathe to do.

“It’s an easy decision with clear hate speech or denigration, this is a lot more difficult – and I don’t necessarily think I’m best placed to make the call, but someone has to,” Holloway says. Gerlich had said she would take the matter up with the Human Rights Commission – a move the company welcomes.

The core issue was not the posters themselves, but Gerlich’s blog, Holloway says. In it Gerlich criticises a lack of voices in media from gender critical feminists on gender identity, while saying the promotion of gender self-identification was constant.

Questioning trans-activism often resulted in a backlash especially the use of the label TERF – trans-exclusionary radical feminist. “This slur is today’s ‘witch’ and is often accompanied by other insults as well as threats of violence, ostracism and loss of livelihood,” Gerlich said.

More ….
https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/106356864/free-speech-battle-brews-between-feminist-and-transactivist-groups
… … … …

For heaven’s sake. The RadFems & The Intersexers collide. I guess Jordan Peterson would have some predictable views on all of this.

Now the latest Gender Fluid fad is starting to run smack bang into the Pro-Fem/Anti-Men fad AND Transgender Rights AND the Free Speech thing!

Gawd luv a duck ! Stop the world. I want to get off.

⚔ Sir Gerald 🛡