Oil prices drop to $0 and below

There has been a major drop in demand for oil, with airlines mostly grounded around the world, public and private transport greatly reduced due to lockdowns in many countries, and industrial use also reduced.

This has resulted in a drop of oil prices.

Reuters:  U.S. crude crashes below $0 for the first time in history

U.S. crude oil futures turned negative for the first time ever as billions of people stay home to stop the spread of coronavirus, causing a global supply glut that has led to storage space filling up.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, also slumped, but that contract was nowhere near as weak because more storage is available worldwide.

While U.S. oil prices are trading in negative territory for the first time ever, it is unclear whether that will trickle down to consumers, who typically see lower oil prices translate into cheaper gasoline at the pump.

As billions of people around the globe stay home to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, physical demand for crude has dried up, creating a global supply glut.

Most prices in Dunedin currently range from $173.9 to $189.9 per litre for 91 and go as low as $100.9 for diesel.

Negative US media coverage

Quite a bit is being said and claimed about political media bias in the US, and negative bias against President Donald Trump.

A new Harvard study calculated that no less than 80 percent of the media’s coverage of President Trump during his first 100 days was unfavorable.

The Trump administration is “setting a new standard for unfavorable press coverage of a president,” according to a new study by professor of government and the press Thomas E. Patterson at the Harvard Kennedy School and Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.

The Fox report has this graphic:

But the study doesn’t prove ‘media bias against Trump’, if found more negative than positive coverage.

Is this because much of the media is biased against Trump?

Or is Trump doing a lot of notable negative stuff, dumb stuff, genuinely concerning stuff,  and getting appropriate coverage.

Fox News at times looked like they were campaigning for trump during last year’s election. In that context 50/50 positive/negative might indicate even they have a lot to complain about Trump’s performance.

Should media try to aim for 50/50 positive/negative coverage regardless of the big news and regardless of the performance of the president? That would be a bit ridiculous.

Is Trump directly responsible for greater than normal negative coverage due to his at times absurd and at times provocative tweets?

There’s a contrast of headlines on this.

From Zerohedge: Harvard Study Reveals Huge Extent Of Anti-Trump Media Bias

A major new study out of Harvard University has revealed the true extent of the mainstream media’s bias against Donald Trump.

To Forbes: Trump’s Getting Killed In The Media, But Not Because Of Bias

If your favorite football team gets destroyed by another team, and the local newspaper writes a story about the game, is the resulting news story–which paints an ugly picture of your team’s performance–an example of the newspaper’s bias against your beloved team?

Of course not.

But that’s essentially what some conservative media believe when it comes to coverage of the Trump White House. In their view, since most coverage of Trump is negative, that proves the media is biased against the president.

“Harvard Study Reveals Huge Extent of Anti-Trump Media Bias” screams a headline by Heatstreet that was picked up by The Drudge Report Friday:

Academics at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy analyzed coverage from Trump’s first 100 days in office across 10 major TV and print outlets.

They found that the tone of some outlets was negative in as many as 98% of reports, significantly more hostile than the first 100 days of the three previous administrations.

Well, yes, the “tone” of stories about Donald Trump have tended to be fairly negative overall. But the negative tone is no more proof of bias than coverage of Trump’s presidency could be considered proof of bias in favor of the president.

Didn’t people during the campaign say that any coverage was good coverage for Trump?

But isn’t CNN, at the top of the list with 93% of its stories deemed negative, clearly biased? InfoWars sure thought so, calling the study proof of “overwhelming anti-Trump media bias,” while the American Thinker said the study’s results proved “a shocking level of media bias against President Trump…the extreme percentage of negative coverage of the president is absolutely breathtaking.”

But breathtakingly negative media coverage doesn’t equate to “a shocking level of media bias.” Remember, the study looked at tone. Here’s how the researchers defined it:

Tone is judged from the perspective of the actor. Negative stories include stories where the actor is criticized directly. An example is a headline story where Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer criticized Trump when the Labor Department’s April economic report showed that fewer jobs were created than had been predicted. Schumer was quoted as saying, in part: “Eleven weeks into his administration, we have seen nothing from President Trump on infrastructure, on trade, or on any other serious job-creating initiative.” Negative stories also consist of stories where an event, trend, or development reflects unfavorably on the actor. Examples are the stories that appeared under the headlines “President Trump’s approval rating hits a new low”and “GOP withdraws embattled health care bill, handing major setback to Trump, Ryan.”

Is it bias to report that the president’s approval ratings are historically low, or that Trump’s efforts to enact his policies have been delayed and overwhelmed by constant questions about Russia, the firing of FBI Director James Comey and other self-inflicted wounds?

The Harvard report actually says:

“The fact that Trump has received more negative coverage than his predecessor is hardly surprising.

The early days of his presidency have been marked by far more missteps and miss-hits, often self-inflicted, than any presidency in memory, perhaps ever.”

Here is the Shorenstein report: News Coverage of Donald Trump’s First 100 Days

Findings include:

  • President Trump dominated media coverage in the outlets and programs analyzed, with Trump being the topic of 41 percent of all news stories—three times the amount of coverage received by previous presidents. He was also the featured speaker in nearly two-thirds of his coverage.
  • Republican voices accounted for 80 percent of what newsmakers said about the Trump presidency, compared to only 6 percent for Democrats and 3 percent for those involved in anti-Trump protests.
  • European reporters were more likely than American journalists to directly question Trump’s fitness for office.
  • Trump has received unsparing coverage for most weeks of his presidency, without a single major topic where Trump’s coverage, on balance, was more positive than negative, setting a new standard for unfavorable press coverage of a president.
  • Fox was the only news outlet in the study that came close to giving Trump positive coverage overall, however, there was variation in the tone of Fox’s coverage depending on the topic.



Dunne on Labour, Little and poll responds

In his weekly blog post Peter Dunne has criticised Labour for being too negative and having lost their soul.

Sadly, today’s Labour Party is but a shadow of its bold predecessors. There is no sense of future direction or purpose, and even in its rare positive moments, the Party’s best offerings seem to be a hankering for yesteryear.

The boldness in politics is now coming from the National Party – formed primarily to oppose the first Labour government – with no more striking example than its Budget decision this year to lift basic benefit payments, the first such upward adjustment in over 40 years(including the 3rd to 5th Labour Governments). Labour, the traditional friend of the beneficiary, was left gasping in its wake.

Labour’s challenge today is to recover its soul and its place. In this post market age, there is a still a role for a radical reforming party of the left, if it is prepared to be bold.

There is the opportunity to pull together the threads of the Labour heroes and promote a new commitment based around strengthening New Zealand’s national identity through constitutional and social reform, and encouraging diversity.

There is still a place for a progressive party promising a new, more co-operative economic approach in today’s globally digitally and free trade connected world. And there is still a place for a progressive party to promote new, innovative approaches to education and social services.

But rather than grasp these opportunities, Labour has become predeterminedly negative. While it supports a new New Zealand flag, it opposes the current referendum process, essentially because it is a National Prime Minister’s idea.

Its approach to economic policy is stalled because it cannot make up its mind on the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Its stigmatising of people with Chinese sounding names buying property in Auckland has robbed it of any credibility in the diversity stakes, and its capacity to champion meaningful education reform is zero while it remains the plaything of the PPTA.

Andrew Little responded – Stuff reports Little says Labour’s job is to ‘contest and challenge’ the Government:

Little rubbished Dunne’s comments saying in Opposition there was a job to be done and that is to “contest and challenge what the Government of the day is doing”.

“This is from a man who left the Labour Party and is now a party of one,” he said from Sydney where he is visiting New Zealand-born detainees at Villawood Detention Centre.

“You’ve got a job also to come up with the alternative ideas but you’ve got situations like this, a bunch of Kiwis who are looking for a voice, and somebody’s got to step in,” Little said.

And Dunne responded to that on Twitter:

Poor old angry Andy, just proves my point

And Stuff have run an online poll (take with a grain of salt):

Has Labour lost it’s way?

  • Yes, it’s too negative 26%
  • Yes, It’s not innovative or bold enough 12%
  • Yes, both of the above 41%
  • No, it’s fine 21%


Duncan Garner: destructive politics ‘age old strategy isn’t it?’

In a Live Chat I asked Duncan Garner:

Do you have any concern that the current Banks fiasco seems to be a result of a concerted Opposition attempt to disrupt and if possible destroy the Government?

He responded:

Duncan Garner:

I’m not concerned Pete, it’s politics, same as what Labour did to Tuku, the same as what the Nats did to Benson Pope, Field etc, they all do it … labour has clearly identified this as the Govt’s weak point .. like Clark’s defence of Peters … age old strategy isn’t it?

This is a very common response to the question.

Because it’s an age old strategy and the same as what they have all done, does it make it acceptable? I don’t think so.

Destructive, nasty, corrosive, contagious politics continues because it is allowed to continue, unquestioned and often aided and abetted by media. But that doesn’t make it right, nor does it make it good for our democracy.

Outside political circles there is widespread public disillusionment, even hatred, of excessive negative politics.

Will anyone in media or in parliament have the gumption to confront it and demand better standards of those who are supposed to be leaders?

Or just accept continued crap, and wallow in and wail about all the political shit fighting.

Destructive politics may be age old, but it doesn’t have to continue. And it won’t continue if we have enough decent MPs speaking up and standing up against it.

MPs on ‘gotcha’ politics

I am contacting all MPs and asking the following:

Do you support “gotcha” politics where attacks and accusations are made to try and damage parties and to discredit and potentially end the careers of fellow MPs? Yes/No?

A comment is welcome. This will be published online.

NOTE: The question refers to what is beyond holding Government and parties to account, it is negative politics aimed at scoring political points and inflicting political damage regardless of the personal consequences and regardless of the reasonable democratic process.

Voters elect MPs and choose preferred parties. It should not be up to party strategists and dirty tricks operatives to try and determine who they want to be forced out of their place in our House of Representatives.

I will post all responses here.

Name Party Yes/No Comment
Adams, Amy NAT
Ardern, Jacinda LAB
Ardern, Shane NAT
Auchinvole, Chris NAT
Bakshi, Kanwaljit Singh NAT
Banks, John ACT
Barry, Maggie NAT
Bennett, David NAT
Bennett, Paula NAT
Blue, Jackie NAT
Borrows, Chester NAT
Bridges, Simon NAT
Browning, Steffan GRE
Brownlee, Gerry NAT
Calder, Cam NAT
Carter, David NAT
Chauvel, Charles LAB
Clark, David LAB
Clendon, David GRE No Personality driven politics  based on personal attacks is seldom helpful and can further alienate people from the political process..  There is a responsibility to reveal and critique behaviour that does not meet the standards that people might reasonably expect of MPs, but in general we should seek common ground where possible, and debate policy differences otherwise, but steer clear of point scoring and denigration.
Coleman, Jonathan NAT
Collins, Judith NAT
Cosgrove, Clayton LAB
Cunliffe, David LAB
Curran, Clare LAB
Dalziel, Lianne LAB
Dean, Jacqui NAT
Delahunty, Catherine GRE
Dunne, Peter UF NO Most certainly not. There is plenty of substance in the issues to be debated, without descending to gutter politics.
Dyson, Ruth LAB
English, Bill NAT
Faafoi, Kris LAB
Fenton, Darien LAB
Finlayson, Christopher NAT
Flavell, Te Ururoa MAO
Foss, Craig NAT
Genter, Julie Anne GRE
Goff, Phil LAB
Goldsmith, Paul NAT
Goodhew, Jo NAT
Graham, Kennedy GRE
Groser, Tim NAT
Guy, Nathan NAT
Hague, Kevin GRE No Certainly not as an end in its own right, although it is important to hold Government and Members (particularly Ministers) to account for their behaviour. For example, it was legitimate to expose Ministers who misused their credit cards or used parliamentary travel for personal business interests. It was legitimate to expose a Minister who intervened inappropriately in the case of a friend dealing with a department that was accountable to him. It would not be legitimate to publicise the fact that an MP was having an extra-marital affair, as this would have nothing to do with that MP’s performance of his or her role.
Harawira, Hone MAN
Hayes, John NAT
Heatley, Phil NAT
Henare, Tau NAT
Hipkins, Chris LAB
Horan, Brendan NZF
Horomia, Parekura LAB
Hughes, Gareth GRE
Huo, Raymond LAB
Hutchison, Paul NAT
Jones, Shane LAB
Joyce, Steven NAT
Kaye, Nikki NAT
Key, John NAT
King, Annette LAB
King, Colin NAT
Lee, Melissa NAT
Lees-Galloway, Iain LAB
Little, Andrew LAB
Logie, Jan GRE
Lotu-Iiga, Peseta Sam NAT
Macindoe, Tim NAT
Mackey, Moana LAB
Mahuta, Nanaia LAB
Mallard, Trevor LAB
Martin, Tracey NZF No
Mathers, Mojo GRE
McClay, Todd NAT
McCully, Murray NAT
McKelvie, Ian NAT
Mitchell, Mark NAT
Moroney, Sue LAB
Ngaro, Alfred NAT
Norman, Russel GRE
O’Connor, Damien LAB
O’Connor, Simon NAT
O’Rourke, Denis NZF
Parata, Hekia NAT
Parker, David LAB
Peters, Winston NZF
Prasad, Rajen LAB
Prosser, Richard NZF  No  See below
Robertson, Grant LAB
Robertson, Ross LAB
Roche, Denise GRE
Ross, Jami-Lee NAT
Roy, Eric NAT
Ryall, Tony NAT
Sabin, Mike NAT
Sage, Eugenie GRE
Shanks, Katrina NAT
Sharples, Pita MAO
Shearer, David LAB
Simpson, Scott NAT
Sio, Su’a William LAB
Smith, Lockwood NAT
Smith, Nick NAT
Stewart, Barbara NZF
Street, Maryan LAB
Taylor, Asenati NZF
Tirikatene, Rino LAB
Tisch, Lindsay NAT
Tolley, Anne NAT
Tremain, Chris NAT
Turei, Metiria GRE
Turia, Tariana MAO
Twyford, Phil LAB
Upston, Louise NAT
Wagner, Nicky NAT
Walker, Holly GRE
Wall, Louisa LAB
Wilkinson, Kate NAT
Williams, Andrew NZF
Williamson, Maurice NAT
Woodhouse, Michael NAT
Woods, Megan LAB
Yang, Jian NAT
Young, Jonathan NAT

Richard Prosser:

No I don’t support it.

Whilst there are, by definition and indeed of necessity, always going to be
differences of opinion and philosophy in politics, it behoves us as Parliamentarians
to play the ball and not the man (or woman), and to address such differences, and
attempt to influence policy, through reasoned debate and by keeping an open mind,
and above all by having regard to the wishes of the voting public and the best
interests of the nation.

While we may not agree with the views or positions of any particular Member or
Party, it has to be remembered that most MPs enter Parliament with genuinely held
beliefs and with honourable intentions, and we owe it to the future of our
Parliamentary democracy to respect that fact.

Beyond holding Members and Parties to account as regards their current and intended
actions, and their present and past indications of character, we have a duty to be
fair in our dealings, and to conduct our affairs in the dignified manner which the
public has a right to expect.

Best regards

Richard Prosser