Claims of defeat of ISIS in Iraq, Syria

Iraq claims to have driven ISIS out of the country, and Russian claims to have defeated ISIS in Syria.

Reuters: Islamic State completely ‘evicted’ from Iraq, Iraqi PM says

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Saturday that Iraqi forces had driven the last remnants of Islamic State from the country, three years after the militant group captured about a third of Iraq’s territory.

The Iraqi forces recaptured the last areas still under IS control along the border with Syria, state television quoted Abadi as telling an Arab media conference in Baghdad.

Several squadrons of Iraqi helicopters flew over Baghdad carrying Iraqi flags at noon, in an apparent rehearsal for a victory parade that Iraq is planning to hold in the coming days.

“Commander-in-Chief @HaiderAlAbadi announces that Iraq’s armed forces have secured the western desert & the entire Iraq Syria border, says this marks the end of the war against Daesh terrorists who have been completely defeated and evicted from Iraq,” the federal government’s official account tweeted.

In a separate tweet later, Abadi said: “Our heroic armed forces have now secured the entire length of the Iraq-Syria border. We defeated Daesh through our unity and sacrifice for the nation. Long live Iraq and its people.”

New Zealand has helped with the training of Iraqi military in their fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh: Announcement of New Zealand Defence Force personnel being deployed in a non-combat training mission to Iraq

On 24 February 2015, the government announced that the New Zealand Defence Force will deploy to Iraq in a non-combat training mission to build the capacity of the Iraqi security forces to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Up to 143 New Zealand Defence Force personnel were approved by Cabinet to deploy on a training mission, with the main body of the deployment expected to deploy in May 2015. The training of Iraqi security forces at Taji will cover a broad range of individual and organisational military skills so that Iraqi security forces can eventually assume responsibility for delivering their own training programmes.

Extension of the Iraq Deployment

On 20 June 2016, the Government decided to extend New Zealand’s contribution to the Building Partner Capacity mission to 30 November 2018.

The Minister of Defence’s press release regarding the extension.

Rudaw: Russia declares Syria ‘completely liberated’ from ISIS

Russia’s defence minister has informed President Vladimir Putin of the defeat of ISIS in Syria and the “complete” liberation of that country.

“All ISIS formations in Syria have been defeated. Syria has been liberated from terrorists,” General of the Army Valery Gerasimov stated Wednesday evening, adding that Minister Sergei Shoigu informed Putin of this “about an hour ago.”

Announcing the liberation of four villages in Deir ez-Zor province, “there are no territories controlled by ISIS in Syria today,” Gerasimov said.

The military operations were overseen by Russian military advisers “operating in every grouping of the government troops,” according to a statement from Russia’s Ministry of Defence.

“Units of Kurdish militia and tribes from the East Euphrates operating under the leadership of the joint staff and Russian military advisers have made a large contribution to the liberation of territories located to the east from the Euphrates,” Gerasimov added.

On Sunday, in a joint press conference with Russian military officials, the Kurdish armed force YPG announced the defeat of ISIS in the rural areas of Deir ez-Zor province, east of the Euphrates River.

These are major victories and will have significantly reduced the power and influence of ISIS, but I doubt it will be the end of ISIS related terrorism, which may now be be one of it’s only ways of trying to continue their aims.

Medicinal cannabis oil available in NZ

There is improved availability of medicinal cannabis oil in New Zealand, with it now being available for GPs to prescribe. It is a cheaper option but could still be prohibitively expensive.

RNZ: Medicinal cannabis oil arrives in NZ

The arrival of a new, cheaper medicinal cannabis product in New Zealand is good news for patients but will still be prohibitively expensive for many, advocates say.

The cannabis oil, produced by Canadian company Tilray, was first granted an export licence to New Zealand in February, but until now has only been shipped to Middlemore Hospital in Auckland.

However, the first shipment that will be made available for GPs to prescribe has now arrived in the country.

It contains cannabidiol (CBD) – a cannabinoid that has been shown to have therapeutic properties, but is considered a class B drug under New Zealand law so cannot be advertised or promoted by the company.

Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand coordinator Shane Le Brun said the product had arrived “in the last week or so”.

“It is now available for GPs to prescribe… [but] as an unregistered medicine they can’t make therapeutic claims and as a controlled drug they can’t advertise … so it’s kind of snuck in under the radar.”

Since September, doctors have been able to prescribe CBD products without needing approval from the Health Minister.

The often unfairly maligned ex-MP Peter Dunne deserves some credit for this.

Trials are underway to test Tilray products’ effectiveness for treating childhood epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder and nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients.

Paediatric doctors here did not want to over-sell the benefits of the oil, “but certainly it does play a role for some of the severe [epilepsy] patients”, Mr Le Brun said.

“Without there being substantial evidence, they still think it’s worth a shot.”

Because it’s one of the few options that offer hope of improvement. But it is still very expensive.

The wholesale cost of a single bottle of the oil was about $600 – about half the cost of the only other widely available medicinal cannabis product in New Zealand, Mr Le Brun said. However, he expected the retail mark-up would probably put the price to patients at between $900 and $1000 a bottle.

Because Tilray was not a registered medicine, it was ineligible for Pharmac funding.

“Depending on the weight of a child for epilepsy, that bottle might only last three or four days, so without a political solution on the cost it still doesn’t change anything for the patients who are most in need.”

Most parents will not be able to afford that.

A much larger evidence base would be needed to get the product registered as a medicine and seek Pharmac subsidies, he said.

Labour has made medicinal cannabis one of it’s first 100 days priorities:

  • Introduce legislation to make medicinal cannabis available for people with terminal illnesses or in chronic pain

As well as this commitment they have the legacy of Helen Kelly to honour – Kelly openly talked about using cannabis products to ease her suffering as she died of cancer.

The Greens should also support it. They have an agreement with Labour to take cannabis law further, but later – “and have a referendum on legalising the personal use of cannabis at, or by, the 2020 general election”.

However Parliament needs a majority. Labour are committed, as are the Greens, but either NZ First or National (unlikely given their past lack of fortitude on medicinal cannabis) to get it passed into law.

New Zealand remains reliant to a large extent on progress in research of medicinal cannabis internationally.

A major anomaly remains – it is legal to drown your sorrows and self medicate with alcohol, but puffing away your pains is policed and punishable.

Slight drop in NZ child ‘poverty’

There has been a drop of 1% of NZ children measured to be in ‘poverty’.

RNZ: Number of children in poverty dropping, but still severe – report

The Child Poverty Monitor, released today, revealed 290,000 children up to the age of 17 are living in homes where money is tight and 135,000 are lacking basic items.

I’m surprised there aren’t more in households “where money is tight”. Money was always tight in the home I grew up in, and it was usually fairly tight in the home my children grew up in.

There has been a one-percent drop in the number of children living in poverty in the past year.

That’s a bare minimum change, but at least it’s in the right direction.

The Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft said it’s one of many small steps needed to wipe out child poverty.

He added that he was encouraged by the previous government’s commitment to child poverty measures, as well as the Labour-led Government’s proposed Families Package, Best Start, and increases to Paid Parental Leave will make a real difference.

So not some praise for the last Government.

 Child Poverty Monitor: 2017 Technical Report

Key Points

“Poverty is not just about having “less than” it is about “not having enough” 6

Child poverty measures

Income poverty

The number and proportion of dependent 0–17 year olds living in income-poor households increased significantly between 1988 and 1992, and these figures remain high.

The number and proportion of dependent 0–17 year olds living in households with the most severe income poverty have not declined since 2012.

To meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal target New Zealand must achieve at least a 50% reduction from 2015 levels in all indicators of income poverty by 2030.

  • In 2016, 27% of dependent 0–17 year olds were living in households with equivalised incomes below 60% of the contemporary median income after housing costs, approximately 290,000 children and young people.
  • Using a more severe poverty threshold, 19% of dependent 0–17 year olds were living in households with equivalised incomes below 50% of the contemporary median income after housing costs in 2016, approximately 210,000 children and young people. Thirteen percent of dependent 0–17 year olds were living in households with the very lowest incomes, below 40% of contemporary median after housing costs, approximately 140,000 children and young people.
  • Using a fixed line indicator, 20% of dependent 0–17 year olds were living in households with equivalised incomes below 60% of the 2007 median income after housing costs, approximately 220,000 children and young people.
  • Using a more severe fixed-line indicator, 7% of dependent 0–17 year olds were living in households with equivalised incomes below 50% of the 2007 median income before housing costs, approximately 75,000 children and young people. With inclusion of housing costs 14% of dependent 0–17 year olds were living in households with equivalised incomes below 50% of the 2007 median income after housing costs, approximately 155,000 children and young people.

Material hardship

In 2016 the New Zealand Household economic survey included child-specific items for the first time. Over half of New Zealand 6–17 year olds experienced no lacks in 12 selected child-specific items.

  • Among the 20 percent of 6–17 year olds living in households with the highest levels of material hardship, 42% experienced restrictions in 2 or more items; 28% in 3 or more and 19% in 4 or more. The restrictions most commonly experienced were lack of good access at home to a computer and internet for homework (33%), lack of two pairs of shoes in good condition and suitable for daily activities for each child (23%), involvement in sport had to be limited “a lot” (20%), lack of fresh fruit and vegetables daily (21%) and lack of a meal with meat, fish or chicken (or vegetarian equivalent) at least each second day (20%).
  • These restrictions were experienced even more strongly among the ten percent of children living in households experiencing the most severe material hardship. In this group 49% of children lacked 2 or more of the 12 items; 41% lacked 3 or more; 29% lacked 4 or more.
  • The 2016 household economic survey also included the general household items used to construct a material hardship time series.
  • Since 2015 there has been a slight decline in the number and proportion of 0–17 year olds living in households experiencing forced lacks in seven or more essential items listed in DEP-17, and in households experiencing forced lacks in nine or more essential items.

    In 2016 12% of 0–17 year olds lived in households experiencing forced lacks of seven or more essential items, approximately 135,000 children and young people.

  • Using an indicator of more severe material hardship, 6% of 0–17 year olds lived in households experiencing forced lacks of nine or more essential items, approximately 70,000 children and young people.
  • To meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal target New Zealand must achieve at least a 50% reduction from 2015 levels in all indicators of material hardship by 2030.
  • If New Zealand meets the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal target of reducing material hardship levels to 50% of 2015 national measures, the percentage of children will reduce to 7% in material hardship and 4% in severe material hardship by 2030.

Persistent poverty

The lack of longitudinal data about New Zealand does not have a current longitudinal survey that collects income data from the same households over time. This is a serious lack in official data to measure indicators of income poverty.

The material hardship list:



“We should be an independent republic”

A challenge to the new Parliament to “Seize the moment now, and begin the process of wider constitutional reform by committing to our next Head of State being the first President of the Republic of New Zealand.”

I strongly believe the time has well past for us to have severed the umbilical cord to Grandmother England.

We should be an independent republic within the Commonwealth – like India, or South Africa and the majority of other Commonwealth nations.

It is not just my Irish heritage, but more my sense of pride and confidence in our country and what it can be that is why I am so staunchly of the belief we can do so much better than continue to bend our knee to a hereditary monarch on the other side of the world.

We have consistently shown over the last thirty years or so, that we can produce many quality New Zealanders to serve as our Governor-General.

There is no reason why we could not do likewise with a non-executive President in that role, and frankly the time for change is long overdue.

So, let me conclude with a challenge to our new Parliament.

You are in the main the millenials whom will shape our future for the next generation and beyond.

Seize the moment now, and begin the process of wider constitutional reform by committing to our next Head of State being the first President of the Republic of New Zealand.

From Peter Dunne’s ‘valedictory’ address to the Victoria University of Wellington’s post-election seminar.

I agree with Dunne on this, but I’m not sure that the time is right for Parliament to address it. There seems to be a reluctance of parties to address important issues like this for fear of being unpopular with some voters.

The flag change process was, unfortunately, a political debacle. If parties couldn’t deal with that sensibly then I don’t like the chances of them properly progressing a discussion on becoming a republic in the Commonwealth.

It will take more than prompting from an outgoing old MP to get a republic discussion going, it will take a bold young leader unencumbered by an older old MP holding the balance of power.


Criticism of defence lawyers unacceptable

There’s been some fair questions asked of Golriz Ghahraman over what was involved in her international work as a lawyer, and how that was described by her and by the Green Party.

And there has been a lot of over the top and at times ridiculous claims and accusations.

The Law Society has come out in defence of defence lawyers – criticism of what Ghahraman


Implied criticism of defence lawyers unacceptable

Implied criticism of defence lawyers unacceptable

The right to a lawyer is a fundamental part of our justice system and any criticism of lawyers for defending people charged with heinous crimes is not acceptable, the New Zealand Law Society says.

“The current comments on Green MP Golriz Ghahraman appear to be over her alleged failure to state that she had both defended and prosecuted people charged with war crimes,” Law Society President Kathryn Beck says.

“Some coverage has, however, also seemed to imply that there is something wrong in a lawyer acting for a person who is being tried for serious crimes.

“It is natural that people might be angry and distressed by such cases and the perpetrators, but it is totally wrong to identify the lawyer with the client’s actions.”

Defence lawyer and convenor of the Law Society’s Criminal Law Committee, Steve Bonnar QC, says there is often misunderstanding of the role of a lawyer.

“Our law requires lawyers to uphold the rule of law and to facilitate the administration of justice in New Zealand. The general rule is that lawyers must be available to act for the public and must not, without good cause, refuse to accept instructions from any client or prospective client for services within that lawyer’s fields of practice.

“Therefore, often a lawyer does not have a choice as to what cases to accept. The personal attributes of the prospective client and the merits of the matter upon which the lawyer is consulted are not considered good cause for refusing to accept instructions.”

Mr Bonnar says the rules of Conduct and Client Care which bind all lawyers say that as far as possible, the defence lawyer must protect the client from being convicted.

“The defence lawyer is required to put the prosecution to proof in obtaining a conviction, regardless of any personal belief or opinion of the lawyer as to the client’s guilt or innocence. It is not the role of the lawyer to determine a client’s guilt or innocence – that is the role of the Tribunal, Judge or jury hearing the case,” he says.

“New Zealand is fortunate to have a strong and dedicated community of lawyers who are available to defend anyone, no matter what they are accused of. It would be of great concern if the essential job they do came under attack.”

Surge in New Zealand confidence rating

Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating: 146.5 pts (up 15.5 pts)

This is the highest confidence rating since January 2010, which was in the first term of the John Key led National government.

 “Generally speaking, do you feel that things in New Zealand are heading in the right direction or would you say things are seriously heading in the wrong direction?”

  • Right direction 66.5% (up from 58.5%)
  • Wrong direction 20% (down from 27.5%)
  • Can’t say 13.5% (little change from 14%)

That’s a positive shift.

National supporters may generally still have confidence while Labour/Green/NZ First supporters will have gained confidence.


Roy Morgan: New PM Jacinda Ardern drives surge in New Zealand Government Confidence



‘Recession likely’, or not

Different views on the likelihood of a recession.

Forbes: New Zealand, An Economic Success Story, Loses Its Way

On September 23, the people of New Zealand elected 37-year-old Jacinda Ardern as prime minister, the youngest prime minister in New Zealand’s history. Ardern has brought youthful energy to New Zealand politics, but her scary rhetoric during the campaign (like calling capitalism a “blatant failure”) has some people wondering if she will take the country back to the bad old days of the 70s and early 80s.

One of Ardern’s first acts as prime minister was to ban foreign ownership of residential real estate; New Zealand has, by anyone’s measure, one of the biggest housing bubbles in the world. Banning foreign ownership of property sets the country up for a possible real estate crash.

Ardern also opposes high levels of immigration, along with her coalition partner, Winston Peters. It is set to drop dramatically. Immigration, especially skilled immigration, has been a big contributor to economic growth over the years.

It seems likely that New Zealand will experience a recession during Ardern’s term. Nobody is predicting a return to the bad old days of the 70s, but New Zealand will probably lose its status as one of the most open, free economies in the world. It takes decades to weaken an economy, just like it takes decades to strengthen it. But investors will probably want to avoid New Zealand for the time being.

Jared Dillian is the author of All the Evil of This World, and the editor of the 10th Man newsletter for Mauldin Economics.

Liam Dann (NZH): What Recession? Local economists pick good growth

The verdicts are in and despite what Forbes contributor Jared Dillian says, there are no economists picking a recession for Jacinda Ardern’s Government.

Most of New Zealand and Australia’s major economics teams have now reassessed their economic forecasts to factor in the effect of the new Government.

The loose consensus – bearing in mind no two economists ever agree – seems to be that GDP growth is going to be less flash than previously expected next year.

But it’s not crashing through the floor either. Growth forecasts between 2.4 per cent and 3.2 per cent for 2018 still look pretty good by international standards.

Apart from a few random think pieces though – written by offshore commentators who can’t quite believe New Zealand changed Government with the accounts in such good shape – most of the economic and financial community still seems pretty relaxed about the new regime.

It’s very early days to see what the Government will do, and what the economy will do.

And as far as the economy is concerned, it is most at risk from overseas influences.

New Zealand lose to Fiji in League World Cup

Last week New Zealand lost to Tonga in the league World Cup.

Tonight they lost to Fiji in the quarter final. They couldn’t score a try – the final score was 4-2 to Fiji. Good for them, woeful for the Kiwis.

That’s a terrible outcome, but the whole tournament has not been riveting. I guess the only plus so far is there are more than two or three teams that are capable of getting into the final.



The lead story on Australia's

NZH: Reaction is swift and savage to Kiwis’ shock loss to Fiji

Rugby league fans and world media are reacting to the Kiwis’ shock loss to Fiji, calling it disappointing and embarrassing.


New Zealand lose to Peru

New Zealand’s All Whites had a praised 0-0 home draw in the first leg of a Football World Cup qualifier, but were undone 0-2 by Peru in Lima. Given the big difference in world rankings this was creditable albeit disappointing loss for New Zealand.

It was always going to be difficult for the All Whites. They don’t have the benefit of playing much together – whoever happens to be available are collected from around the world not long before big games. This is far from ideal for team building.

Peru was ecstatic, it will mean their first world cup appearance for three decades. Reports suggest it was a deserved win for them. Good on them.

The All Whites are likely to continue to struggle in a very competitive football world, with our best players spread around the globe. They are ranked currently 122 – Peru is 10, so a two nil loss doesn’t seem too bad.


Manus Island refugees

There is a lot of coverage of Manus Island refugees. From RNZ:

PNG govt hints Manus deadline won’t be enforced

13 Nov 2017
101st daily protest 101, 9-11-17.

The Papua New Guinea government is hinting that the deadline for refugees to leave the shuttered Manus Island detention centre will not be enforced.

PNG minister says no to NZ on Manus

13 Nov 2017

Papua New Guinea’s immigration minister says he will not deal directly with New Zealand to resettle up to 150 refugees on Manus Island. AUDIO

To push or not to push Australia over Manus Island refugees

13 Nov 2017
A banner from 104th day of protest on Manus Island

Gerry Brownlee says not to push Australia too hard over Manus Island refugees AUDIO

Manus Island refugees refuse to budge

13 Nov 2017

Personnel from the PNG immigration department inside the detention centre.

None of the refugees occupying the former detention centre on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island left the facility today, despite pressure from authorities.

Manus detainees stay put as new deadline passes

14 Nov 2017<

Another deadline has passed for refugees on Manus Island to leave the detention centre there which was officially slated to close on October 31. But around 300 men are still refusing to leave the… AUDIO

 Listen duration4′ :44

People smugglers see new Govt as easy target – reports

14 Nov 2017
The report says this photo was taken by an asylum seeker and shows a two-deck boat from Indonesia before it was intercepted by Australia in May 2015.

Australian authorities have intercepted four boats bound for New Zealand, run by people smugglers emboldened by the change of government, according to media reports. Jane Patterson reports. AUDIO

Don’t take them – warning from a former Manus Island guard

14 Nov 2017
Don't take them - warning from a former Manus Is guard: RNZ Checkpoint

A New Zealand man who worked at the Manus Island refugee detention facility is warning the government against taking any refugees, saying the ones still at the centre are dangerous men.   VIDEO, AUDIO

PM denies NZ becoming a soft target for people smuggling

14 Nov 2017
NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with her Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney.

The Prime Minister has hit back at claims New Zealand has become a soft target for people smugglers with the change of government, saying this country is helping to combat the problem on the ground.

Manus detainees reject NZ guard’s claims they’re criminals


Refugees occupying the former detention centre on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island have rejected the claims made by a New Zealander who says he worked at the centre. The man, known as Ian, says he was… AUDIO

NZ to give $3m for Manus refugee aid

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

New Zealand will give Papua New Guinea and aid agencies up to $3 million to help care for Manus Island refugees. VIDEO