Labour’s health petition whopper

This week’s petition from Labour is aimed at fixing our tax system. Perhaps Labour should aim at on fixing their honesty, or their research or maths.

Sign this petition

To the New Zealand Government

Fund our health system properly so New Zealanders can get the treatment they need.

That’s hopelessly vague. More detail:

Sign the petition to fix our health system

In just six years, National has cut a whopping $1.7 billion from our healthcare system.

Every day we hear stories of how these cuts are impacting Kiwis’ lives. Stories of struggling to pay for the GP; missing out on the medicines they need; and health professionals who are exhausted and overstretched. It’s not right and we have to fix it.

To fix our system, we need to make sure Kiwis know this is a vital issue and they need to vote to change the Government at the election next year.

To make sure health is an election issue, we need to build a massive campaign calling on the Government to ensure the health system can provide the services Kiwis need. A huge petition can’t be ignored and together we can make sure health gets the attention it needs.

A petition this vague, huge or otherwise, will be easily ignored. Health funding is a big issue but this won’t do anything to help our health system.

Plus there is nothing from Labour about how they might ‘fix’ our health system.

Has the Government cut a whopping $1.7 billion from our healthcare system?

The Budget Economic and Fiscal Update 2016 (BEFU) published on 26 May 2016, health spending from Treasury’s Core Crown Expense Table (billions):

  • 2011 – $13.753
  • 2012 – $14.160
  • 2013 – $14.498
  • 2014 – $14.898
  • 2015 – $15.058
  • 2016 – $15.635
  • Forecast for 2017 – $16.214

That’s an increase of $2.461 billion, not a decrease of $1.7 billion as claimed in the petition.

Perhaps Labour is using some different numbers, but with no details it’s impossible to tell how they have come up with a whopping reduction.

It looks more like a whopper of a lie.

Final presidential debate

The final debate in the US presidential election will be held today (2 pm New Zealand time).


Wallace has announced the topics, which will be discussed in six 15-minute segments.

  • Debt and entitlements
  • Immigration
  • Economy
  • Supreme Court
  • Foreign hot spots
  • Fitness to be President

The chosen topics may be altered depending on news events leading up to the event.

Donald Trump’s path to the presidency has narrowed considerably in recent weeks amid campaign trail controversies, with the latest Fox News electoral ratings showing reliably red states coming into play – a trend that only ups the pressure on the Republican nominee to tilt the race at the third and final presidential debate Wednesday night.

The debate in Las Vegas, moderated by Fox News’ Chris Wallace, will mark the last face-off between Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the home-stretch of the presidential campaign.

Both candidates are dealing with their share of controversies – Trump, facing multiple allegations of groping dating back decades; and Clinton, grappling with embarrassing revelations from leaked emails and now the allegation in an FBI file that a top State Department official offered a “quid pro quo” with the bureau to alter a Clinton server email’s classification.

Trump has seized on the latter revelation in the run-up to the debate. But so far, his poll numbers have taken a bigger hit than hers – and the latest Fox News Electoral Scorecard reflects this.

In a significant shift, the scorecard shows the rating for Texas being changed from “solid Republican” to “lean Republican.”

According to the latest Fox News ratings, if Clinton won all the “solid” and “lean” Democrat states, she’d have 307 electoral votes – well over the 270 needed to win.

If Trump won all the “solid” and “lean” Republican states, he’d have just 181 electoral votes. That means even if he won all the pure “toss-up” states – Arizona, North Carolina, Ohio and Utah – and their 50 electoral votes, he’d still be short of 270.  He’d have to flip some states currently leaning Democrat back into his column.

The pressure now is on Trump to not only win the toss-up states and turn blue-ish states red, but to prevent states like Utah and Texas from abandoning the Republican ticket for the first time in years.

Will Trump be in damage control? Or will he try to inflict as much damage as possible? The former will be a virtual concession, the latter high risk, as he has damaged his own chances significantly over the last few weeks.


It’s probably far too much to expect Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton to be fair and balanced, given how their campaigns have been run, regardless of how the debate is moderated.

Parmjeet Parmar standing for National in Mt Roskill

In very unsurprising news it has been announced that current list MP Dr Parmjeet Parmar will stand for national in the Mt Roskill by-election. She stood in the same electorate in the 2014 general election.

She has joined Michael Wood standing for Labour to replace Phil Goff, and the People’s Party which was launched recently has confirmed Rohan Nauhria will stand as their candidate.

Greens won’t stand a candidate to try and help Labour, and ACT won’t stand a candidate to try and help National.

Over 40% of voters in Mt Roskill were born overseas. Immigration, law and order and housing are expected to be high profile issues.

The official announcement:

National selects Mt Roskill candidate

Parmjeet Parmar has been selected by the National Party to contest the Mt Roskill by-election.

Dr Parmar entered Parliament following the 2014 election. Since then she has worked as National’s List MP based in Mt Roskill.

“This election is about ensuring people in the Mt Roskill electorate have a dedicated local MP to stand up for their interests. I’m really excited to be running,” Dr Parmar says.

“Despite no Government ever winning a by-election off the Opposition, and the deal done by Labour and Greens for the seat, I will run a strong campaign to offer a clear choice to Mt Roskill voters.

“Mt Roskill is an area I’m passionate about because it truly reflects the best about Auckland and New Zealand. It’s full of diverse families who care about one another and work hard. There are a huge range of businesses, large and small, providing job opportunities for people from right across the city.

“Like any part of Auckland, it also has challenges. Local residents need an electorate MP who understands their concerns and advocates tirelessly for them to   ensure both central and local government is delivering results.

Dr Parmar says the National-led Government has worked hard to deliver more for Mt Roskill and her campaign would give a strong account of that work.

“From National’s strong economic management, to the comprehensive plan that is increasing the housing supply, to record investment in vital infrastructure like transport and health.  

“I’ve been working hard in Parliament for the people of Mt Roskill for the last two years, so this by-election is a fantastic opportunity to talk about the issues that I know people care about.”

Biographical Notes – Dr Parmjeet Parmar

Dr Parmjeet Parmar is a scientist, businesswoman, broadcaster and community advocate.

She was born in India and migrated to New Zealand in 1995. A proud mother of two sons, she lives in Auckland with her husband Ravinder.

Dr Parmar holds a PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of Auckland, as well as Bachelor and Masters degrees in Biochemistry from the University of Pune in India.

Prior to entering Parliament, Dr Parmar was the Operations Director of her family’s Auckland-based Kiwi Empire Confectionery, a confectionery and natural health product manufacturing enterprise. She knows first-hand the challenges of running a small business.

Naturally community-minded, Dr Parmar has also served as a Families Commissioner, a Community Representative on the Film and Video Labelling Body, and as Chair of the NZ Sikh Women’s Association.


Is Labour sliding towards oblivion?

This question is being asked tonight when Simon Wilson chairs a Spinoff debate at Ika Seafood Restaurant about the future of the Labour Party.

Wilson writes Look, there goes the Labour Party – sliding towards oblivion.

What is the point of Labour? Is it a twentieth century phenomenon sliding into oblivion in the twenty-first?

If you’re an urban progressive, the Greens look like a more natural home. If you’re worried about modernity in any or all its forms, New Zealand First is ready and waiting. If you’re a Māori activist, you can choose from the Māori Party and the Mana Party.

If you’re working class? Any of the above, isn’t it?

In reality, Labour gets votes from all those groups. That’s a good thing: major parties need broad appeal. But Labour doesn’t always treat it as a good thing. They let the inevitable contradictions of being a broad church undermine them – this is expressed through absurdly frequent leadership battles – rather than becoming a source of strength.

Actually, there is a point to Labour and it’s a really important one. They’re there to win elections. Labour is the main party of opposition and therefore is likely to be the majority party in any centre-left government. So they have to look credible. They have to be credible.

If they’re not, the whole centre-left suffers. A vote for the Greens is a vote for a Labour-led government. Votes for NZ First and the Maori Party are also votes for the possibility of such a government.

In New Zealand, it’s generally accepted that Labour’s main job right now, working with the Greens, is to win the next election.

But it’s not obvious this view is shared throughout the Labour Party, where many people clearly prefer to have a leader they agree with, or feel is “one of us”, rather than a leader with great electoral appeal.

And that, in a nutshell, is the tragedy of the Labour Party. They don’t understand the importance of personality. They don’t have a leader capable of charm and because they changed the voting rules to get rid of the last one they did have, David Shearer, they don’t have the ready means to get another one. It’s not that they can’t win, but they have made it a lot harder for themselves.

It’s fashionable to say charisma shouldn’t matter, that personality politics is a scourge. That’s such nonsense. There’s a good reason voters want to feel we can like and trust our leaders: our trust commits us to the political process, commits politicians to us and helps give legitimacy to lawmaking.

So, what are the prospects for Labour heading into election year? Andrew Little will remain leader so they have to double down on becoming the voice of the future. That’s about policy and articulating a vision. Becoming the champion of the compact city in all its forms – from decent affordable housing to creating a cycling city – is a heaven-sent opportunity.

Will they grasp it? What’s their future if they don’t? On the positive side, there’s only one John Key. When he retires, National will lose its charm advantage. On the negative side, it’s only a matter of time before the Greens find an immensely charismatic leader of their own. When that happens, if Labour hasn’t done the same, they really could be annihilated.

There’s no sign of a charisma threat from Greens at the moment, nor does charisma seem to be lurking in their ranks.  So the left in general seem to have a problem, but Labour has been suffering the most.

Tonight’s debate should be interesting.

Tonight at Ika: Labour WTF? – why, what and how is Labour as it turns 100? Simon Wilson chairs a discussion with Labour president Nigel Haworth, former Greens chief of staff Andrew Campbell, commentator and Labour candidate Dr Deborah Russell and third placed Auckland Mayoral candidate Chloe Swarbrick. The Spinoff will livestream the event via ye olde Facebook page from 7.30pm

That’s a distinctly left wing panel, but it’s their problem so it’s up to them to show they recognise the challenges they face, if they do.

Chloe Swarbrick seems to be the in person in politics these days, she has been picked up by media and pushed. But it will be a while until she can lead whatever party she may eventually join, if she does.

Excusing Trump’s behaviour

While Donald Trump still lags in the polls he still has a sizeable level of support, including in media. There are people who are willing to play down and excuse his temperament and behaviour.

Alarmingly Conrad Black claims This is how democracy is supposed to work.

He may be over the top in criticising Clinton but makes some valid points:

Hillary Clinton, though she would probably be an improvement on the recent past, represents continuity of what has been the most catastrophic 20 years of misgovernment in American history.

I think that’s debatable.

She was there, as first lady, senator, secretary of state, or candidate, for the housing bubble and Great Recession, the terrible drain of Middle East war that delivered most of Iraq to Iran and produced a colossal humanitarian tragedy, the doubling of the national debt in seven years to produce one per cent annual economic growth while 15 million people dropped out of the work force, and the terrible fiascoes of the abandoned red line in Syria and the cave-in to Iranian nuclear military ambitions with a fig leaf of (unverifiable) deferral.

She has been part of a government that has overseen serious problems, both domestic and international.

But she is an able person, still carrying the torch of feminism, and she isn’t Trump.

Fair summary.

This is why what is happening is not surprising: she represents the continuity of misgovernment that has angered and frightened Americans; a sure recipe for defeat, except that the alternative is so radical a change of pace and personality he gives the forces of change pause.

And the alternative:

Trump’s strength is that he has never sought public office, elected or otherwise and has brilliantly made himself the evocator and the voice of all Americans who are outraged at what has been done to their country.

I would say successfully rather than brilliantly. He has been far from brilliant, especially in the last couple of weeks.

He is not at all the sociopath that is claimed, or even the boor he sometimes seems. Personally, his conversation is a good deal less coarse than Hillary Clinton’s, and his demeanour is more equable. But he is a vintage American blowhard. This has sometimes extended to locker-room, towel-snapping bravura, and the Democrats have levered on that to claim that he is a sexist, a racist, and now, a molester of vulnerable females.

This is inexcusable excuse making. And ignoring how ‘a vintage American blowhard’ might get on in international diplomacy, the scariest part of a Trump presidency.

Imagine if Trump wins the presidency, WikiLeaks turns on him and he thinks the Russians are involved? His reactions to attack have been very ugly in the campaign. A lot more would be at stake on international relations.

Trump is not a racist; he just dislikes Muslim terrorists and illegal migrants. He is not a misogynist; he just expresses his sexual appreciation of them crudely, as men (and women) often do.

FFS. That is horrible excuse making.

And quite inaccurate – for example most people dislike Muslim terrorists, but Trump goes much further, saying he will shut out all Muslims, and ostracise those who currently live in the US. Same with ‘illegal immigrants’.

And ‘expresses his sexual appreciation of them crudely’ is a pathetic description.

Some of his coarseness was tactical, to energize and bring out immense numbers of lower-income, limited education yahoos who don’t normally vote. Some of it is his dislike of political correctness, and some part of his nature is emotional immaturity and hyper-sensitivity. It doesn’t remind anyone of Washington or Lincoln, but it doesn’t make it more likely that he will blow up the world.

He would, as a talented and historically bipartisan deal-maker, get the give-and-take system with the Congress working again and get it past the recent impasse between the use of unconstitutional executive orders and constant threats to shut down the government.

Talented and historically bipartisan deal-maker? He has torn the Republican Party apart, and has blamed the Democrats and the media of rigging the election, and worse. Much worse.

This is not the end of America or a serious blow to democracy. Either of these two candidates will be better than many U.S. past presidents and than most of the other current leaders of important countries. Vulgar though it is, if this campaign wasn’t an engrossing spectacle, we wouldn’t bother watching it.

It may not be the end of American democracy but it is dragging it down to new lows. US credibility has taken a serious hit.

Sorry Alan. While Conrad Black makes valid points his excuse making for horrible behaviour and his describing a terrible campaign as ‘how democracy is supposed to work’ is terrible.

And Black is not alone in his promoting of Trump’s chances.

Tom Howell Jr at Washington Times: Trump within striking distance of Clinton despite groping allegations

Donald Trump’s allies tried their best Sunday to tamp down an eruption of stories accusing the Republican presidential nominee of untoward sexual advances against women, as national polls showed the billionaire businessman still within striking distance of Hillary Clinton after a horrendous week.

The poll gap has eased a bit but it is still an uphill battle for Trump, – and up a fairly slippery slope.

His running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, said he “couldn’t be more proud” to stand shoulder to shoulder with Mr. Trump, despite the rising tally of women who have accused the presidential candidate of groping and other unwanted advances over the past few decades.

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani also vouched for the real estate developer.

“I believe my friend Donald Trump when he tells me he didn’t do it,” he told CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “I know Donald. I have been with him for 28 years. I have never seen him do anything like that.”

No mention of the growing number of complainants, just parading a couple of excusers.

Mr. Trump has three weeks to make up ground lost in must-win battleground states before voters have their say on Nov. 8.

He has a lot of making up to do.  Real Clear Politics had him easing to -5.7% over the weekend but have just bumped the gap back up to 6.4%.

Are Black and Howell part of a pro-Trump conspiracy?  I don’t think so, they just promote him over Clinton and make excuses for him.


Post-truth and posting lies

‘Post-truth’ is contradicted on blogs which which often seem to post distortions and lies.

This is sometimes as the agents of political parties, or as volunteer lie posters who think they are helping a cause.

This can  be through deliberate attempts to mislead, but sometimes may be through ignorance, and some could be through an inability to interpret without prejudice.

Post-truth politics has been mentioned recently in the UK with the Brexit campaign and also in the current US presidential campaign where blatant lying has reached new lows.


RNZ Toby


Post-truth politics (also called post-factual politics) is a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored. Post-truth differs from traditional contesting and falsifying of truth by rendering it of “secondary” importance.

It has also come up in in a New Zealand context over the last few months.

  • Andrea Vance at 1 News: Opinion: A post-truth era in politics
    The campaigns of Donald Trump and the Brexiteers have been a triumph of emotional populism over cold, hard facts. In this distorted reality there are imaginary MSD squads flying in to help the homeless, and new emergency beds that already existed.
  • RNZ: Is a ‘post-truth’ era upon us?
    The government has shrugged off events and evidence contradicting claims made by ministers recently, frustrating many journalists. Are we really in a “post-truth” period where the facts don’t matter any more? If so, do the media share the blame?
  • RNZ: Toby & Toby on… post-truth politics
    The condition has also been observed in lands as distant as the Pacific paradise of Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Stuff: Are NZ politicians joining the international tide of post-truth politics?
    But are we any different down here on the edge of the world? Is the New Zealand body politic keeping itself trim on a stern diet of facts and evidence, or are we, too, choosing the sugar-rush of anecdata, the greasy mouthfeel of a racist porky, the finger-licking goodness of unsupported rumour?

Is it getting worse in New Zealand? Politicians have probably lied since politicians. The Stuff article looks back:

As long as there’s been politics there have been lies. In Ancient Greece the Athenians talked about “demagogues” – rabble-rousers who appealed to emotion and prejudice rather than fact and reason.

In his deranged autobiography Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler spoke of the propaganda value of the “big lie”: saying blatantly untrue things so loudly and often that the populace can’t believe you’d have dared make it up.

In the past decade though commentators have been picking a new trend – not so much that lies are being told, but that the old counterbalances, research, empirical evidence – were losing their corrective power.

The immediacy of Internet reporting plus it’s reach and lack of checks and balances and commenting has contributed to lie spreading.

Jonathan Swift (1710): “Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it; so that when Men come to be undeceiv’d, it is too late; the Jest is over, and the Tale has had its Effect…”

Thomas Francklin (1787): “Falsehood will fly, as it were, on the wings of the wind, and carry its tales to every corner of the earth; whilst truth lags behind; her steps, though sure, are slow and solemn, and she has neither vigour nor activity enough to pursue and overtake her enemy…”

‘A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on’ and variants were used through the 1800s, and since.

Lying in New Zealand politics is more than suspected, with Winston Peters’ ‘NO’ sign from 2008 still being mocked. Surprisingly this isn’t mentioned on his Wikipedia page but the Parliamentary censure is: The Privileges Committee returned a report on 22 September recommending that Peters be censured for “knowingly providing false or misleading information on a return of pecuniary interests.

Posting lies on political blogs is a common accusation. A high profile case between Colin Craig and Cameron Slater is due in court next year to test claims of lies.

Whale Oil is well known for making claims that will never be substantiated, like:

And so it begins…

By Cameron Slater

Make no mistake, this is a deliberate undermining of Andrew Little by Twyford.

Post-truth in relation to blogging came to mind over the last few days with a string of questionable posts at The Standard.

Racist Nats Attack Chinese Grannies Shock!

Written By:

National have slammed the door shut on the parents of already settled migrants who wish to move to NZ to complete the family unit. Minister Michael Woodhouse accuses elderly Asians of bludging off the NZ taxpayer. You won’t believe the howls of outrage from the right!

The crime spike

Written By:

Who would have thought that a surge in homelessness would result in a spike in crime, and that a dramatic increase in the number of people with no or compromised housing situations would cause an increase in burglaries, robberies and assaults.

I see a poverty of ideas and a poverty of Government responsibility

Written By:

Judith Collins yesterday said that child poverty is the fault of parents and not the fault of her Government.

Housing Corp is running out of money


It seems that the strip mining of Housing Corporation so that the Government could declare a surplus is reaching its logical conclusion.  Treasury is forecasting Housing Corp to be out of money by next February.

There is no surplus

Written By:

In Year Eight of this National government, the idea of a budget surplus is a joke. They’ve promised it for nearly a decade. They’ve fiddled the books. The truth is, there is no surplus.

The truth is that Rodgers is is wrong, either deliberately or out of ignorance. And most of the comments on her post continue the misconceptions and misinformation.

It’s difficult to know when the lies are deliberate, and when they are repeated so often amongst their political peers they come to believe they are true.

Regardless, there may never have been an era of truth in politics but in the Internet age the perpetuation of lies has become far more obvious.

New Zealand surely can’t slide to the lying lows of the US presidential campaign but the signs of untruthfulness look ominous for the political future.

Is there any chance that democracy can avoid self destruction?

Tax ‘cuts’ essential

Now that a sizeable cash surplus has been announced there has been a lot of conjecture about what should be done with this surplus and potentially future surpluses.

There have been calls for more spending on the police, on education, on health, and on the poor. Probably about ten times as much expenditure as surplus, but opposition parties can get away with that.

One very contentious issue is whether there should be tax cuts or not. National have been saying they would like to cut taxes further for years.

I think at least modest tax cuts are essential – not actually cuts, but reinstating tax rates that have gradually slipped away through bracket slippage.

One reason why Helen Clark’s government (with Michael Cullen as Finance Minister) ended up getting rejected by voters was due to growing annoyance that effective tax rates had gradually increased during buoyant a financial time period. We were gradually taxed more, and Cullen was too late to react.

National have been constrained by deficits, until now.

They should at least change income tax brackets to adjust for wage inflation, so we are at least back to where we were in 2009.

Tax brackets should be indexed to wage inflation and adjusted regularly, otherwise they will continue to be used as tax increases by stealth.

The Nation on immigration and wrongful convictions

This morning on The Nation:


Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse and Green Party co-leader James Shaw on migration levels. Are the Government’s move to clamp down on a some categories this week a knee jerk reaction?

Immigration Minister says this week’s changes to immigration rules won’t affect the pressure on Auckland.

The data about health care costs used when the Govt closed off the migrant’s parent category is 3-4 years old.

Gower says that the parent category changes look like a cheap shot.

The community felt that closing the parent categories is to shut out Indian and Chinese parents.

Gower says that the changes look like a reaction to polls and to public pressure. Woodhouse denies it.

James Shaw “we think the country needs a more sustainable immigration policy” and would make immigration numbers 1% of the population, which is around 45,000 but that would include returning New Zealanders.

Shaw saws that the top line net immigration figure would be 17,000 (down from 70,000).

Shaw says they will turn the tap on and off to balance Kiwi movements. I don’t think immigration is easy to adjust at whim.

“The whole idea here is to smooth out the peaks and troughs”.

Immigration figures would need to be eased down slowly to prevent negative effects on growth.

Now Shaw says they would need to “manage it down slowly”.  He talks about “smoothing it down”. I think that’s easier in their than in practice.

Shaw says Labour “seems comfortable” with the Green plans. Is Labour on board with the Green’s new policy? “You’d have to ask them”.

There is a petition online from the Chinese community wanting the Government to reconsider the parent category


Wrongful Convictions

Is the way our justice system deals with wrongful convictions good enough? has a story you won’t want to miss

Lawyer Julie-Anne Kincade says tunnel vision can sometimes be a problem for Police.

And they remember Helen Kelly.

But the emails…

WikiLeaks continues to drip feed emails into the US presidential campaign.

Fox News: Emails show ’08 Clinton camp probed Obama vulnerability on Muslim father, cocaine use

Another day, another batch of WikiLeaks emails – this time, showing the 2008 Hillary Clinton campaign’s efforts to test then-Sen. Barack Obama’s potential vulnerabilities, including on deeply personal matters like his father’s Muslim faith and his own past cocaine use.

WikiLeaks say they will keep leaking ‘daily’ but this is a continuation of stuff that is not getting the attention of the Trump sexual assault stories. It’s mostly very dry and convoluted, and is failing to make many headlines.

Often of more interest is why WikiLeaks is effectively campaigning against Clinton.

From the UK Guardian: From liberal beacon to a prop for Trump: what has happened to WikiLeaks?

How did WikiLeaks go from darling of the liberal left and scourge of American imperialism to apparent tool of Donald Trump’s divisive, incendiary presidential campaign?

Robert Mackey of The Intercept website wrote in August: “The WikiLeaks Twitter feed has started to look more like the stream of an opposition research firm working mainly to undermine Hillary Clinton than the updates of a non-partisan platform for whistleblowers.”

The seeming alliance between Trump and WikiLeaks is an astonishing role reversal. In 2010 it was lauded by transparency campaigners for releasing, in cooperation with publications including the Guardian, more than a quarter of a million classified cables from US embassies around the world. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange became a hero to many.

At the time, Republican politicians expressed outrage at WikiLeaks, but now some are seizing on its revelations as potential salvation for Trump’s ailing candidacy.

Conversely, liberal activists have expressed dismay at the hack of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email account and the calculated timing of the release.

Last week US intelligence officials blamed Russia for previous hacks. It is not yet known whether Podesta’s emails were hacked by the Russians, but US officials say the attack fits the same pattern. Russian president Vladimir Putin has denied the allegation.

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told reporters on Thursday: “The Department of Homeland Security took the unprecedented step of saying … beyond any doubt that this hack and then the leaking of the emails was perpetrated by the Russian government for the purpose of intervening in the election and trying to affect the outcome in favor of Donald Trump. This is getting closer and closer to the Trump campaign itself.”

All of which raises the question: do Assange, Putin and Trump form a triangle? Are they in communication with each other or merely exploiting a coincidence of interests?

Trump has praised Putin and numerous links with Russia have emerged this year. But on Wednesday he denied any business interests beyond staging Miss Universe there. He has contradicted earlier statements about knowing Putin.

Some observers argue that Assange’s war on Clinton is personal: she was secretary of state at the time of the diplomatic cables leak. Her perceived secrecy and hawkish foreign policy represents the antithesis of his anti-US imperialist worldview. The capricious, nihilistic, non-ideological Trump might seem like a kindred spirit by comparison.

Alina Polyakova, deputy director of the Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, said: “My impression of Julian Assange is that he sees US hegemony in the international world order as the biggest problem facing us today. In his attempt to bring ‘transparency’, he ends up siding with the very regimes that deny transparency and human rights. That’s the irony of my enemy’s enemy is my friend.”

So far WikiLeak’s campaign against Clinton has been largely ineffectual.

If the Republicans had chosen a safer traditional type candidate they could have chugged away and let Wikileaks damage Clinton.

But they have Trump, who has used the media adeptly to get the nomination, but that has now turned dramatically against him.

Trump versus New York Times

A New York Times story from Wednesday (US time):

Two Women Say Donald Trump Touched Them Inappropriately

Donald J. Trump was emphatic in the second presidential debate: Yes, he had boasted about kissing women without permission and grabbing their genitals. But he had never actually done those things, he said.

“No,” he declared under questioning on Sunday evening, “I have not.”

At that moment, sitting at home in Manhattan, Jessica Leeds, 74, felt he was lying to her face. “I wanted to punch the screen,” she said in an interview in her apartment.

More than three decades ago, when she was a traveling businesswoman at a paper company, Ms. Leeds said, she sat beside Mr. Trump in the first-class cabin of a flight to New York. They had never met before.

About 45 minutes after takeoff, she recalled, Mr. Trump lifted the armrest and began to touch her.

According to Ms. Leeds, Mr. Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt.

Ms. Crooks was a 22-year-old receptionist at Bayrock Group, a real estate investment and development company in Trump Tower in Manhattan, when she encountered Mr. Trump outside an elevator in the building one morning in 2005.

Aware that her company did business with Mr. Trump, she turned and introduced herself. They shook hands, but Mr. Trump would not let go, she said. Instead, he began kissing her cheeks. Then, she said, he “kissed me directly on the mouth.”

It didn’t feel like an accident, she said. It felt like a violation.

Following that a letter from Trump’s lawyer:


The New York Times has responded:


This probably won’t help Trump turn his ailing campaign around, although he try playing the ‘me against the media ‘ card some more.