Collins unrepentant over fake news link

The dangers to politicians of being active in social media were highlighted again today when Judith Collins used an online ‘news’ article to demand a response from Jacinda Ardern.

This is known to be a conspiracy web site, and this was pointed out to Collins along with the real legal situation in France.

Stuff:  Judith Collins defends linking to fake news article on France consent laws

Senior National MP Judith Collins is standing by a tweet linking to a an article that made false claims about France’sage of consent laws.

France had already made sex with any children younger than 15 an offence, but it did not automatically classify all such sex as rape – neither does New Zealand.

The new law makes it far easier for prosecutors to do so by introducing a new offence of “abuse of vulnerability”. Critics have argued that the new law does not go far enough, but not that the law goes backward.

Collins responded to those on Twitter who asked why she was tweeting out fake news by tweeting to reputable news sources covering the same topic, but in a deeply different way.

She told Stuff she didn’t necessarily “agree” with every article she tweeted but wanted to draw attention to the issue.

“I’m just concerned about the story about France itself,” Collins said.

Collins said she didn’t buy into “conspiracies” about liberals pushing paedophilia worldwide, despite sharing the article which suggested liberals were doing just that in its first paragraph.

And:

It would have been embarrassing, but admitting a mistake and apologising would have been better than digging deeper into the world of real fake news and conspiracy mongering.

Football world cup – Belgium versus France

Belgium and France are now playing the first semi-final in the football world cup.

These are the top ranked teams to reach the semi-finals. Just prior to the tournament Belgium was ranked 3 and France 7.

I’m neither picking a winner nor backing either team. May the best team on the day win.

France, Belgium win world cup quarter finals

It probably wasn’t a surprise to see France beat Uruguay in a Football World Cup quarter final this morning, but it would have shocked many, especially in South America, when Belgium edged out cup favourites Brazil. Belgium led 2-0 until late in the game, and Brazil could only close up with one goal.

France has eliminated both Argentina and Uruguay, and with Brazil out too now there are no South American teams left in the running.

Tomorrow morning (NZ time) the other two quarter finals will be played:

  • Russia versus Croatia
  • Sweden versus England

Despite Germany crashing out early, and also Italy, Spain and Portugal, Europe is dominating this world cup.

Rankings prior to the cup starting:

Top 20 rankings as of 7 June 2018[1]
Rank Change Team Points
1 Steady  Germany 1558
2 Steady  Brazil 1431
3 Steady  Belgium 1298
4 Steady  Portugal 1274
5 Steady  Argentina 1241
6 Steady   Switzerland 1199
7 Steady  France 1198
8 Increase 2  Poland 1183
9 Steady  Chile 1135
10 Decrease 2  Spain 1126
11 Steady  Peru 1125
12 Steady  Denmark 1051
12 Increase 1  England 1051
14 Increase 3  Uruguay 1018
15 Steady  Mexico 989
16 Steady  Colombia 986
17 Increase 2  Netherlands 981
18 Increase 3  Wales 953
19 Increase 1  Italy 951
20 Decrease 2  Croatia 945
*Change from 17 May 2018
Complete rankings at FIFA.com

 

French outrage over Trump comments on Paris attack

President Trump has offended the French after making some typically bizarre comments in a speech to the National Rifle Association  in Dallas, Texas.

Trump is well known for making stupid and insensitive comments. This just adds to the list.

RNZ: French outrage after US President Trump mimics Paris attackers

What did Trump say exactly?

“Paris, France, has the toughest gun laws in the world…” he told the NRA.

“Nobody has guns in Paris, nobody, and we all remember more than 130 people, plus tremendous numbers of people that were horribly, horribly wounded. Did you notice that nobody ever talks about them?

“They were brutally killed by a small group of terrorists that had guns. They took their time and gunned them down one by one. Boom! Come over here. Boom! Come over here. Boom!

“But if one employee or just one patron had a gun, or if just one person in this room had been there with a gun, aimed at the opposite direction, the terrorists would have fled or been shot.”

The French foreign ministry…

…called for the victims’ memory to be respected.

“France expresses its firm disapproval of the comments by President Trump about the attacks of 13 November 2015 in Paris and asks for the memory of the victims to be respected,” the foreign ministry said.

François Hollande, who was French president at the time of the attacks…

…said Mr Trump’s remarks were “shameful”. They “said a lot about what he thinks of France and its values”, he added.

Manuel Valls, who was France’s prime minister in 2015…

…tweeted: “Indecent and incompetent. What more can I say?”

That may sum up Trump very well.

He also prompted responses from London after saying:

“I recently read a story that in London, which has unbelievably tough gun laws, a once very prestigious hospital, right in the middle, is like a warzone for horrible stabbing wounds,” he said. “Yes, that’s right, they don’t have guns, they have knives, and instead there’s blood all over the floors of this hospital. They say it’s as bad as a military warzone hospital.”

Trump stabbed the air several times with an imaginary knife and muttered: “Knives, knives, knives.

Guardian: Trump’s knife crime comments are ridiculous, says London surgeon

The suggestion by Donald Trump that guns are part of the solution to knife crime in London is ridiculous, a trauma surgeon in the capital has said. The US president told the National Rifle Association convention in Dallas on Friday that a “once very prestigious hospital” in London was like a “warzone”.

He appeared to be referring to reported comments by Martin Griffiths, a lead trauma surgeon at the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, who likened the spate of stabbing victims coming through the doors to scenes in a military hospital.

Prof Karim Brohi, another surgeon at the hospital and the director of London’s major trauma system, said knife violence was a serious issue for London. “We are proud of the excellent trauma care we provide and of our violence reduction programmes,” he said in a statement on Saturday. “The Royal London hospital has cut the number of our young patients returning after further knife attacks from 45% to 1%.

“London hasn’t been used to that. They’re getting used to it. Pretty tough. We’re here today because we recognise a simple fact. The one thing that has always stood between the American people and the elimination of our second amendment rights has been conservatives in Congress willing to fight for those rights. We’re fighting.”

Charlie Falconer, a former justice secretary, said:

“Trump makes Londoners dislike him more, and the US dislike London more. Mutual dislike is not good as the UK leaves the EU. Trump gives the impression he couldn’t give a fig.”

Trump’s reception when he visits England in July was always expected to be far less receptive to him than the NRA or the staged ego stroking rallies he has in the US.

Macron: No planet B rebuke to Trump

A day after putting on a show of bonhomie and unity with Donald Trump the French President Emmanual Macron switched to plan B in a speech to the US Congress, criticising a number of Trump policy positions.

Macron spoke against isolationism and nationalism, and one of his biggest rebukes was over climate change, saying there was no planet B.

RNZ: Macron attacks nationalism in speech to US Congress

French President Emmanuel Macron has used his speech to the joint houses of the US Congress to denounce nationalism and isolationism.

Mr Macron said such policies were a threat to global prosperity.

The speech was seen as rebuking Donald Trump, who has been accused of stoking nationalism and promoting isolationism through his America First policies.

Mr Macron said the US had invented multilateralism and needed to reinvent it for a new 21st Century world order.

The French president was given a three-minute standing ovation as he took his place in the chamber for his speech.

On isolationism, withdrawal and nationalism:

Mr Macron said isolationism, withdrawal and nationalism “can be tempting to us as a temporary remedy to our fears. But closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution of the world. It will not douse but inflame the fears of our citizens”.

He added: “We will not let the rampaging work of extreme nationalism shake a world full of hopes for greater prosperity.”

He said the UN and the Nato military alliance might not be able to fulfil their mandates and assure stability if the West ignored the new dangers arising in the world.

On trade…

…Mr Macron said that “commercial war is not the proper answer”, as it would “destroy jobs and increase prices”, adding: “We should negotiate through the World Trade Organization. We wrote these rules, we should follow them.”

On Iran…

…Mr Macron said his country would not abandon a nuclear deal with Tehran that was agreed by world powers when President Barack Obama was in office but which Mr Trump has branded “terrible”.

Mr Macron said: “This agreement may not address all concerns, and very important concerns. This is true. But we should not abandon it without having something more substantial instead.”

Iran shall never possess any nuclear weapons. Not now. Not in five years. Not in 10 years. Never.”

On the environment…

… he said by “polluting the oceans, not mitigating CO2 emissions and destroying biodiversity we are killing our planet. Let us face it, there is no Planet B”.

Trump has not responded yet. Prior to Macron’s speech:

I haven’t heard that reported anywhere. Instead Washington is abuzz with Macron’s plan B.

On Ardern’s fence sitting on Syrian attacks

Jacinda Ardern stood out from allies by not giving a strong endorsement of the US/UK/French missile attack on Syria. Neither did she take a stand against violence and war.

Her careful positioning on a wobbly fence may have disappointed both sides of a bitter war argument.

Chris Trotter points this out in Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has a bob each way on bombing Syria

The latest strike against Syria marks a further deterioration in the conduct of international affairs. Of more concern, however, is the quality of the response it elicited from Jacinda Ardern. The New Zealand Prime Minister’s remarks were not the sort to inspire either confidence or respect.

In matters of this kind, a prime minister has two viable choices. Either, she can line up behind New Zealand’s traditional allies and deliver a hearty endorsement of their actions. Or, she can take a stand on principle and distance her country from the justifications, decisions and actions of the nation’s involved.

What a leader should not do is attempt to have a bob each way. Why? Because, as the Ancient Greek storyteller, Aesop, pointed out some 2500 years ago: “He who tries to please everybody, ends up pleasing nobody.”

Ardern may not have strongly annoyed anyone by her middling muddy response, but pleasing nobody could be a bigger problem on the left, where her support comes from.

Had Ardern denounced the vetoing, by the United States, of a Russian Federation proposal for an international inquiry into the alleged chemical warfare attack on Eastern Ghouta, as well as the Russians’ tit-for-tat vetoing of a similar proposal put forward by the US, she would have elicited widespread support from UN member states.

That support would have grown if she had further declared her disappointment that military action had been initiated by the US, France and the United Kingdom (all permanent members of the Security Council) before inspectors from the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had been given a chance to examine the scene of the alleged attack, gather samples, and make their report.

Perhaps Ardern had other international considerations (Prime Ministers always do). She may wanted to appear to stay onside with France and the UK ahead of her European trip this week.

She could also have announced that, if the Eastern Ghouta incident was confirmed by the OPCW as a chemical attack, then New Zealand would be seeking a vote explicitly condemning its perpetrators at the UN General Assembly, as well as a re-confirmation of the UN ban against the deployment and use of chemical and biological weapons.

Such a course of action would have identified New Zealand as an outspoken defender of the UN Charter and encouraged other small states to take a stand against the precipitate and unsanctioned military actions of the United States and the two former imperial powers most responsible for the century of instability which has beset the nations of the Middle East –  France and Britain.

At a more pragmatic level, such a response would undoubtedly have strengthened New Zealand’s relationship with that other permanent member of the Security Council, the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese have consistently and vehemently opposed unsanctioned and unprovoked military attacks against the sovereign territory of fellow UN member states.

Such would have been the high road for New Zealand: coherent, consistent and principled.

Alas, it was not the road Ardern chose to take.

Instead, having lamented the Security Council’s veto-induced paralysis, the statement issued by New Zealand’s prime minister went on to say:

“New Zealand therefore accepts why the US, UK and France have today responded to the grave violation of international law, and the abhorrent use of chemical weapons against civilians.”

Using fewer than 30 words, Ardern telegraphed to the world that New Zealand’s fine words about diplomacy and multilateralism should be dismissed as mere rhetoric. In reality, her country is perfectly willing to set aside its commitment to the peaceful resolution of conflicts between nation states, and the rule of international law, if the United States, the United Kingdom and France ask them to.

Rather than take an unequivocal stand for peace, the UN Charter and the rule of international law, New Zealand’s prime minister has chosen to talk out of both sides of her mouth. An opportunity to assume moral leadership and demonstrate political courage has been heedlessly squandered.

That’s fairly harsh criticism from a fairly left leaning commentator – and it’s not the first time Ardern has been accused of talking out of both sides of her mouth.

This may blow over most voters unnoticed, but it also has risks for Ardern.

I wonder what Trotter and the left think of the trade deals Ardern is trying to progress in Europe and the UK.

France pledges support for NZ-EU trade agreement

In their first meeting French president Emmanuel Macron has pledged support alongside Jacinda Ardern for a European trade agreement with New Zealand.

RNZ: France supports NZ-EU trade negotiations

France has come out in support of allowing trade negotiations between New Zealand and the European Union to go ahead.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French president Emmanuel Macron have issued a joint declaration, after an hour-long meeting.

Ms Ardern says she was struck by the close alignment of their views which proved they were “natural partners”.

Mr Macron says he hopes an EU-NZ free trade agreement could reflect a “new generation of trade deals”.

Their written declaration included a commitment to promoting a progressive trade agenda, and an agreement to enhancing bilateral trade.

The pair’s meeting comes roughly a month before the EU member states decide whether to greenlight negotiations for a trade deal with New Zealand.

This is a positive step, and a good start to Ardern’s European trip.

On to Germany next, where support for a trade deal has already been indicated.

Stuff: Jacinda Ardern meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel to talk trade, education and visas

That’s a misleading headline, they have not met yet.

Trade wars and the threats of protectionism, as well as climate change, will be priority discussion points between Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, when the pair sit down for formal talks tomorrow.

Trade is set to be a key theme, however Germany has been publicly supportive of a free trade deal between New Zealand and the European Union (EU) and making the case for it was less likely to dominate the talk in way it would with Macron.

New Zealand would have common ground in that area, said Ardern.

“When it comes to trade, for me it’s about raising the international environment.

Ardern said she would also be discussing ways to potentially increase movement between New Zealand and Germany.

“Particularly around our education exchanges, and also over our working holiday visas.”

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Germany is New Zealand’s sixth largest trading partner, representing $5.2 billion in two-way goods and services trade.

Nearly 80,000 German tourists visit New Zealand each year, and the country was also New Zealand’s 6th largest education market and its largest in Europe. About 3500 students study each year here, and about 15,000 young Germans are granted visas under a working holiday scheme.

Following her meeting with Merkel, Ardern would be giving a major speech on trade at Berlin’s Friedrich Ebert Foundation, overnight, New Zealand time.

She will then head to London for talks with Theresa May, a private audience with the Queen and to attend the Commonwealth heads of Government meeting with about 50 other world leaders, including Canada’s Justin Trudeau and Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull.

This is a big tour of Europe for Ardern.

Macron says France has proof of Syrian chemical attack

Syria and Russia have denied accusations there was a chemical attack on the town of Douma, but President Macron of France claims to have proof that chemical weapons were used.

BBC – Syria ‘chemical attack’: France’s President Macron ‘has proof’

France’s President Emmanuel Macron says he has “proof” that the Syrian government attacked the town of Douma with chemical weapons last weekend.

He said he would decide “in due course” whether to respond with air strikes.

Urine and blood samples from victims of the attack have tested positive for chlorine and a nerve agent, media reports quote US officials as saying.

Western states are thought to be preparing for missile strikes. Russia strongly opposes such action.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov urged against “any steps which could lead to an escalation of tensions”.

President Donald Trump keeps making steps that could easily lead to escalation. He tweeted on Wednesday that missiles were “coming:

But has since sent a more confusing tweet.

Trump seems obsessed with wanting recognition for being great and for thanks for what he claims to have done.

The guy acts like a moron – and given the stakes in the international games of words he plays, a dangerous moron.

GOP senators versus Trump’s TPP and trade tirades

Yesterday in New Zealand the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) was released. Next month it is likely to be signed by the eleven countries who renegotiated some parts of the agreement after Donald Trump pulled the United States out soon after becoming president.

Trump had strongly criticised the TPP during the presidential campaign. It’s hard to know whether he thought it was a ‘bad bad deal’ or it was an attempt to sound tough on trade in order to get more favourable deals.

If it was a bluff it failed, because the TPP is proceeding without the US.

Last month (26 January 2018) Trump appeared to soften his stance on the TPP in an interview with CNBC while at DAVOS: Read President Trump’s full remarks on trade deals to CNBC

  • In an interview with CNBC, he says he could rethink the Trans-Pacific Partnership if the U.S. can secure a better deal.

Trump’s remarks on the TPP:

Trump: I like bilateral, because if you have a problem, you terminate. When you’re in with many countries — like with TPP, so you have 12 if we were in — you don’t have that same, you know you don’t have that same option. But somebody asked me the other day, ‘Would I do TPP?’ Here’s my answer — I will give you a big story. I would do TPP if we made a much better deal than we had. We had a horrible deal. The deal was a horrible deal. NAFTA’s a horrible deal, we’re renegotiating it. I may terminate NAFTA, I may not — we’ll see what happens. But NAFTA was a — and I went around and I tell stadiums full of people, I’ll terminate or renegotiate.

(NAFTA is an agreement between the US and two TPP countries, Canada and Mexico. Trump insisted on it being renegotiated, but that appears to be bogged down. See below.)

Kernen: So you might re-enter, or? Are you opening up the door to re-opening TPP, or?

Trump: I’m only saying this. I would do TPP if we were able to make a substantially better deal. The deal was terrible, the way it was structured was terrible. If we did a substantially better deal, I would be open to TPP.

Kernen: That’s interesting. Would you handicap … ?

Trump: Are you surprised to hear me say that?

Kernen: I am a little bit, yeah, I’m a little taken aback.

Trump: Don’t be surprised, no, but we have to make a better deal. The deal was a bad deal, like the Iran deal is a bad deal, these are bad deals.

Yesterday the Washington Post reports: 25 GOP senators urge Trump to restart TPP trade talks, a deal he called a ‘disaster’

Twenty-five Republican senators, including Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.), sent President Trump a letter Friday asking him to “re-engage with the Trans-Pacific Partnership.” It’s the latest attempt by Republican lawmakers to get Trump to take a softer stance on trade, even though his administration is gearing up to erect more trade barriers. Trump withdrew from the TPP in his first week in office after calling the trade deal a “disaster” and a “rape of our country” during his presidential campaign.

“We encourage you to work aggressively to secure reforms that would allow the United States to join the agreement,” the senators wrote. “Increased economic engagement with the 11 nations currently in TPP has the potential to substantially improve the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, support millions of U.S. jobs, increase U.S. exports, increase wages, fully unleash America’s energy potential, and benefit consumers.”

There is a sharp divide between congressional Republicans and the Trump administration on how to handle trade. Trump blasted America’s trade deals during his campaign and vowed he would either renegotiate many deals or scrap them, but many senators believe harsh action on trade would backfire, causing the loss of U.S. jobs and businesses.

Ripping up the TPP was a key talking point of Trump’s campaign. He portrayed it as a deal that President Barack Obama and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton concocted. It would lower tariffs — better known as taxes — on goods traded between the United States and 11 other countries in the Pacific Rim (Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Brunei).

Supporters of free trade, including many Republicans, worried that Trump had made a mistake. They feared the United States was giving up its leadership role and ceding even more power to China. China was excluded from the TPP in an attempt to counter the communist country’s growing influence on the global economy.

After the United States pulled out of TPP in January 2017, Canada took over the leadership role.

Actually Japan probably took over more of a leadership role, and Canada caused a few hiccups in Vietnam last November, but eventually agreed on the CPTPP.

Many of the GOP senators who signed the letter are from states with a lot of agriculture, including Joni Ernst of Iowa, John Barrasso of Wyoming and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

“Farm states were a lot of the big losers from the United States not going ahead with TPP,” said Chad Brown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “TPP would have lowered agriculture tariffs in a couple of countries where they had been high.”

Perhaps the best example is that Japan was willing to lower its tariffs on U.S. beef, opening a potentially lucrative market for American farmers. But now that the TPP is moving forward without the United States, Australian and New Zealand farmers probably will be the biggest beneficiaries.

Yesterday the Canadian Globe and Mail reported in Where do NAFTA talks go from here?:

“We got a blunt and sobering message last week from Steve Verheul, Canada’s head NAFTA negotiator, telling us that negotiations with the Americans are bogged down and, apart from some agreement on peripheral things, there’s absolutely no movement on the really tough issues.

The fundamental problem, Mr. Verheul said, is that the United States isn’t approaching the negotiations with the objective of concluding a balanced deal. The Trump administration’s position is “America First” and “America Only,” reflecting the tone of the President’s bellicose inaugural address.

As a result, the United States has tabled one-sided, intransigent positions, non-starters for Canada from day one. U.S. negotiators have no room to compromise because of orders from the White House. It’s clear that there’s a long, slow and painful road ahead in trying to achieve a North American free-trade deal, with agreement pretty remote at this stage.”

The US also faces trade problems in Europe. Forbes – EU Tells Trump: No Paris Climate Deal, No Free Trade

When Donald Trump took office last year, the assumption was that the transatlantic trade and investment partnership was dead.

The controversial free trade deal between the EU and the U.S., known as TTIP, was already years in development and was a big focus in Europe, particularly with left-wing protesters who said the EU would necessarily have to lower its environmental, health and safety standards to American levels. When Trump was elected on an anti-free-trade platform in 2016, these activists found themselves in the uncomfortable position of being on the same side as the new U.S. president.

Work on TTIP has come to a halt, although the European Commission has been keen to stress that it is not officially dead and talks could continue if the U.S. administration were to indicate interest. No such signal from Washington has been forthcoming.

It is in this context that France’s foreign affairs minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne told the French Parliament last week that his country will insist that TTIP never be revived if Trump carries through on his promise to leave the Paris Agreement.

“One of our main demands is that any country who signs a trade agreement with EU should implement the Paris Agreement on the ground,” Lemoyne said. “No Paris Agreement, no trade agreement. The U.S. knows what to expect.”

The US under Trump’s leadership is at risk of isolating itself on trade as the rest of the world continues to negotiate and make trade agreements.

Easy win for Macron in French election

French state TV vote estimate: Macron 65.1%, Le Pen 35.9%

That’s no surprise, opinion polls had suggested a result close to that.

 

Previously:

The results of Sunday’s French presidential election run off  are expected from about 6 am New Zealand time.

Missy:

Initial reporting suggests a high abstention in the French election.

Two weeks ago the French voting in London had to wait up to 3 hours to vote, however, reports this morning suggest that the queues were much shorter today.

Results are expected around 7pm BST (about 6am NZ time)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/07/french-election-live-marine-le-pen-emmanuel-macron-presidency/


From live coverage from The Guardian:

If turnout projections of about 74% are correct, it would be the lowest in the second round of a French presidential election since 1969.

This is not unexpected in a contest as unique as that between the independent centrist Macron and far-right Le Pen, neither of whom have the formal backing of a mainstream political group, say analysts.

Yves-Marie Cann of pollsters Elabe told L’Express that the 1969 election, when the rate of abstention was a record 31.1%, was similarly exceptional, featuring two centre-right candidates: Georges Pompidou and Alain Poher.

How does France’s system of vote estimates work?

https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2017/may/07/french-presidential-election-emmanuel-macron-marine-le-pen