UK to review medicinal cannabis use

Like here are elsewhere in the world pressure has been growing in the UK to allow the use of cannabis products for medicinal use. Sick children have been used to highlight the issue, and the UK government has now announced a review of drug laws.

BBC: Medicinal cannabis use to be reviewed by government

The use of medicinal cannabis is to be reviewed, which could lead to more prescriptions of drugs made from the plant, the home secretary has said.

Speaking to the House of Commons, Mr Javid said the position “we find ourselves in currently is not satisfactory”.

The decision was prompted by recent high-profile cases of children with severe epilepsy being denied access to cannabis oil to control seizures.

The review would be held in two parts, Mr Javid told MPs. The first will make recommendations on which cannabis-based medicines might offer real medical and therapeutic benefits to patients.

In the second part, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs will consider whether changes should be made to the classification of these products after assessing “the balance of harms and public health needs”.

He said: “If the review identifies significant medical benefits, then we do intend to reschedule [change the rules].”

He said the cases of Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell had made him conclude it was time to review the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

He also announced that Alfie, from Kenilworth in Warwickshire, was being issued with a licence to receive cannabis-based drugs. The six-year-old has a very rare form of epilepsy that causes up to 150 seizures per month,

His family had originally applied to the government in April, saying his condition improved after using cannabis oil in the Netherlands.

Sounds similar to what has been happening here.

But Sajid Javid stressed the drug would remain banned for recreational use.

Separating medicinal use from recreational use is tricky – fears of opening the floodgates for recreational use often hold back politicians from acting on medicinal use, but that’s ridiculous given the widespread recreational use now.

It’s bizarre that recreational product is widely available but medicinal product is difficult to obtain.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott welcomed Mr Javid’s statement, telling MPs that it was “long overdue”.

Lady Meacher, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group for drug policy reform – which two years ago called for cannabis-based drugs to be legalised – said the move was a “no brainer” which could benefit many people.

She said: “About one million people, probably, could benefit from medical cannabis – people with severe pain, obviously children with terrible epilepsy.

“There are 200,000 people in this country with uncontrolled epileptic seizures; MS sufferers, people with Parkinson’s, people with cancer.

“So there are just so many people who must be celebrating today, and I’m celebrating with them.”

She compared cannabis with morphine, and said it was “much, much safer, less addictive and has much, much less in the way of side effects”.

As we know here, opposition MPs can talk big reforms, but seem to get cold feet when in power.

The incoming Government here introduced the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill

This Bill amends the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. The Bill will introduce an exception and a statutory defence for terminally ill people to possess and use illicit cannabis and to possess a cannabis utensil; provide a regulation-making power to enable the setting of standards that products manufactured, imported, and supplied under licence must meet; and amend Schedule 2 of the Act so that cannabidiol (CBD) and CBD products are no longer classed as controlled drugs.

This is currently at Select Committee stage. The limitation to “terminally ill people” has been strongly criticised. Hopefully sense will prevail after the committee considers public submissions.

 

 

US-China trade war escalates

The on again, off again trade war between the US and China is escalating, with more tariff threats from both countries.

Trump aims to hit China as tit-for-tat tariff war erupts

A top U.S. trade adviser said China has underestimated President Trump’s resolve to press ahead with tariffs, in comments that undercut the chances of settling a looming trade war between the economic superpowers.

The threat of a growing trade conflict with China hit financial markets hard, with Beijing vowing a firm response after Trump on Monday said he would implement tariffs on an additional $200 billion of imports from China if Beijing went ahead with reprisals over an initial set of U.S. tariffs.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, a sharp critic of Chinese trade actions, said China has more to lose from any trade war.

“The fundamental reality is that talk is cheap,” Navarro told reporters on a conference call, again accusing China of “predatory” trade policies.

When it comes to stoking a major trade war talk could be quite expensive to both countries, and potentially to others including New Zealand.

The threat of new tariffs against China pits the world’s two largest economies against each other and looks set to disrupt global supply chains for the tech and auto industries, two sectors that rely heavily on outsourced components.

In total, Trump has now threatened up to $450 billion in Chinese imports with tariffs, including another $200 billion in Chinese goods if Beijing retaliates after the step Trump announced on Monday.

Mounting concerns over the U.S.-China dispute sent global stock markets skidding and weakened both the dollar and the Chinese yuan on Tuesday. Shanghai stocks plunged to two-year lows.

The Dow Jones is still trading in the US Tuesday and is currently down 1.18% for the day. That isn’t a drastic drop.

This could all have significant impact in this part of the world – From the Aussie to soybeans and cars: what’s at risk in a trade war?

The Aussie dollar takes a thumping, soybean prices swing and German carmaker shares are stuck in reverse.

Countries with open economies reliant on global trade are most at risk when disputes over international commerce hit.

The Australian dollar ticks those boxes. Australia counts China as its biggest trading partner and its currency is heavily correlated to global growth. Many investors see the currency, known as the Aussie, as a better global trade bellwether than the Canadian dollar, which has been buffeted by negotiations over NAFTA, the North American trade pact.

This week, the Aussie fell to its lowest level in 13 months, and the positioning of options signal more weakness ahead.

If Australia is badly affected that must have an impact here. New Zealand is also at risk directly with US and Chinese trade upheaval.

New name for ACT party?

It looks like the ACT party are considering renaming themselves. They have to do something to turn their lack of support around, they are virtually nothing but the MP for Epsom.

Frank Newman: ACT re-branding

…David Seymour says they are looking at a possible name change.

In an interview on Radio NZ on 15 June he said he did not want to give anything away about the new name, but he did mention various options were being considered, like Liberal Party or something more radical like Reason Party.

Well, he actually has already given a fair bit away on this topic.

On the 8th of October 2017 he registered the domain names, liberalparty.org.nz and liberalparty.co.nz. He has not registered domain names involving Reform Party or Reason Party, and those domain names remain.

The registrations were modified recently. But it’s still only ‘possible name change’ at this stage.

The question is whether changing the name will change the public’s perception of the Party.  Changing the name of a dead horse from Jake to Jack, does not bring the horse back to life.

It will take more than a name change – it needs other people involved who look like they could contribute to a party in Parliament, and one of the first hurdles is being seen as serious prospects by media, who are effectively the gatekeepers of any new entrance into politics.

Being rich and eccentric seems to be a prerequisite. Kim Dotcom, Colin Craig and Gareth Morgan all spent millions of dollars and attracted significant media attention, but that didn’t get them over the MMP line (5% threshold).

Seymour has a significant advantage though. If he holds on to Epsom the threshold doesn’t matter, thanks to the failure of the last (National) government to make MMP fair.

History of ACT party vote and MPs:

  • 1996 – 6.1%, 7 list MPs
  • 1999 – 7.04%, 9 list MPs
  • 2002 – 7.14%, 9 list MPs
  • 2005 – 1.51%, 1 electorate MP (Rodney Hide) and 1 list MP
  • 2008 – 3.65%, 1 electorate MP (Rodney Hide), 4 list MPs
  • 2011 – 1.07%, 1 electorate MP (John Banks)
  • 2014 – 0.69%, 1 electorate MP (David Seymour)
  • 2017 – 0.50%, 1 electorate MP (David Seymour)

So even a step up to one more MP will require a tripling of their 2017 party vote unless they can win another electorate.

I thought that Seymour had a fairly good first term considering he had to set up as an electorate MP and set ACT up inn Parliament with no prior experience. But ACT lost ground.

Seymour is trying a dancing stunt to get attention at the moment, but I don’t know whether that will help ACT’s chances. Perhaps his dance party will run as deputy leader.

Antarctic ice melt accelerating

One of the fears of global warming was that past a ‘tipping point’ the warming and the effects of the warming could accelerate. A report suggests this could be happening.

DW: Rate of Antarctic ice melt triples since 2012, study finds

The rate of ice loss in Antarctica has tripled since 2012, causing global sea levels to rise at their fastest rate in 25 years, a new study published by an international team of experts said Wednesday

Over the last quarter century, about 3 trillion tons of Antarctic ice melt made ocean levels rise by 7.6 millimeters (0.3 inches), according to the study published in the journal Nature.  About two-fifths of that rise, or 3 millimeters, has occurred since 2012.

The study of Antarctic ice mass changes by scientists working for NASA and the European Space Agency is the most comprehensive to date. It combined 24 satellite surveys and involved 80 scientists from 42 international organizations.

The study found that from 1992 to 2011, Antarctica lost about 83.8 billion tons (76 billion metric tons) of ice per year, causing an annual sea level rise of 0.2 millimeters. Between 2012 and 2017, ice loss per year tripled to 241.4 billion tons, amounting to a 0.6 millimeters sea level rise per year.

“Under natural conditions we don’t expect the ice sheet to lose ice at all,” said lead author Andrew Shepherd of the University of Leeds in England. “There are no other plausible signals to be driving this other than climate change.”

Scientists said much of the retreating ice shelf is caused by ocean-induced melting, when warmer water causes melting from the edges and below ice sheets.

No doubt some will continue to argue against ‘climate change’ but evidence suggests that is increasingly untenable.

The signs look increasingly ominous.

Stuff:  ‘Grim future’ on the horizon as Antarctic ice melt triples

Scientists are uncertain whether this acceleration will continue at the same rate but fear unless political decisions are made to protect Antarctica the results could be catastrophic.

Sea level contribution due to the Antarctic ice sheet between 1992 and 2017, from data gathered by international ...

Better understanding in recent years about ice loss means they now also believe that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase as they have done in the past, sea levels could rise by up to two metres by the end of the century – double the previous estimates – putting half a billion lives at risk.

Professor Tim Naish, of the Victoria University of Wellington, who contributed to the study, said the scenario had “sent shockwaves around the world” and painted a “grim future”.

But he said there is still hope if there is concerted global collaboration to tackle global warming.

“There is still time to prevent major meltdown of the ice sheets, and other far-reaching dangerous impacts if nations collectively reduce their emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement target of 2C warming above pre-industrial levels,” he said.

“I think the acceleration from Antarctica represents the beginning of the effect on the ocean, which we haven’t seen until about a decade ago.

“But there is still a very valid question as to how we predict that into the future, and whether we can keep that acceleration going for 100 years or whether that part of Antarctica will stabilise a little bit and things will slow down.”

A one to two metre rise in sea levels by the end of this century would have major implications for places like Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga and Auckland.

There are already issues with the current sea level. ODT: Edgar Centre warped by subsidence

Dunedin’s Edgar Centre sports complex is being lifted and lowered by the tide, as water strips away sand and leaves voids in the reclaimed land beneath the complex, reports show.

…they also showed the entire complex was being warped by subsidence, having dropped by up to 1m, and being affected by the tide as water washed through the sedimentary layers of reclaimed land the venue was built on.

And ‘Bill’ raises a valid concern at The Standard in Let’s Build a Hospital! – they are planning to build a new hospital in Dunedin on reclaimed land, but new buildings – like the stadium, have foundation piles driven down to solid rock.

How much of a rise would be needed to cut Auckland off from New Zealand? It probably isn’t the biggest issue there if the sea rises a metre or two.

Other parts of the world have much bigger worries if they take the increasing amount of scientific evidence seriously.

 

17 year old Amanda Kerr breaks cricket records

It has to be said that the White Ferns New Zealand women’s cricket team has absolutely smashed Ireland in a three game series, but the effort by 17 year old Amanda Kerr is still amazing.

Records were broken in the first two games – from White Fern makes cricket history

In game one, the Ferns recorded the biggest score in ODI history, smashing 490, and in game two, Sophie Devine blasted the fastest ODI century by a New Zealand woman.

But Kerr starred with both bat and ball in the third.

17-year-old White Ferns all-rounder Amelia Kerr has blasted a record-breaking 232 not out against Ireland – the highest score in the history of women’s One Day Internationals.

She then completed arguably the greatest individual performance in ODI history by taking 5-17 with the ball as Ireland were bowled out for 135 as New Zealand coast to a 305-run victory.

Kerr scored nearly a hundred more runs than the Ireland 11.

The caveat about oppositional strength does have to be mentioned – Ireland have been hopelessly outclassed, to the point where the Ferns could decimate their bowling attack with two batswomen who before this series had never batted above number seven in ODI cricket.

But those caveats would perhaps be more of note if Kerr has simply blasted another quickfire 80. When you become the youngest double centurion in the history of the game, there cannot be many diluters.

Amelia Kerr’s records:

  • Biggest score in a women’s ODI (Second highest in any women’s format, third in all ODIs)
  • Biggest partnership for the second wicket in women’s ODIs (Second highest for any wicket)
  • Biggest partnership in White Ferns ODI history
  • Most fours in a women’s ODI innings
  • Most boundaries in a women’s ODI innings
  • Youngest New Zealander to hit a hundred
  • Youngest double centurion in all cricket

Cricket form can be fickle, but Kerr has made an impressive start to her career.

US sanctions Russians for cyber attacks

The US has announced sanctions on three Russian individuals and five companies, who have been cited as ‘malicious actors working at the behest of the Russian Federation and its military and intelligence units to increase Russia’s offensive cyber capabilities’ against the US ‘and it’s allies’ – which could include New Zealand.

Reuters: U.S. sanctions Russians over military, intelligence hacking

The U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on three Russian individuals and five companies on Monday, saying they had worked with Moscow’s military and intelligence services on ways to conduct cyber attacks against the United States and its allies.

“The United States is engaged in an ongoing effort to counter malicious actors working at the behest of the Russian Federation and its military and intelligence units to increase Russia’s offensive cyber capabilities,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

“The entities designated today have directly contributed to improving Russia’s cyber and underwater capabilities through their work with the FSB and therefore jeopardize the safety and security of the United States and our allies,” Mnuchin said, using an acronym for Russia’s Federal Security Service.

The Treasury said Russia’s “malign and destabilizing cyber activities” included the NotPetya attack last year, which spread across Europe, Asia and the Americas. The White House in February blamed Russia for the attack, saying it caused billions of dollars in damage and was part of the Kremlin’s effort to destabilize Ukraine.

The Obama administration sanctioned Russia’s FSB in December 2016, citing the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the 2016 presidential election.

Washington imposed additional sanctions against the intelligence services in March, when President Donald Trump’s administration slapped sanctions on 19 individuals and five entities.

At the time, the administration publicly blamed Moscow for the first time for a campaign of cyberattacks that targeted the U.S. power grid, including nuclear facilities, and stretched back at least two years. Russia has denied trying to hack into other countries’ infrastructures.

There’s a good chance Russia will retaliate with sanctions of their own.

GCSB (February 2018): New Zealand joins international condemnation of NotPetya cyber-attack

The Director-General of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) Andrew Hampton has today added New Zealand’s voice to international condemnation of the NotPetya cyber-attack.

NotPetya caused wide spread damage and disruption to computer systems around the world in June 2017.

Mr Hampton says the GCSB’s international partners have today attributed the NotPetya cyber-attack to the Russian Government.

“While NotPetya masqueraded as a criminal ransomware campaign, its real purpose was to damage and disrupt systems,” Mr Hampton said.

“Its primary targets were Ukrainian financial, energy and government sectors. However, NotPetya’s indiscriminate design caused it to spread around the world affecting these sectors world-wide.

“While there were no reports of NotPetya having a direct impact in New Zealand, it caused disruption to some organisations while they updated systems to protect themselves from it.

“This reinforces that New Zealand is not immune from this type of threat. In a globally connected world our relative geographic isolation offers no protection from cyber threats.

“We support the actions of our cyber security partners in calling out this sort of reckless and malicious cyber activity.”

In the 12 months from June 2016 to June 2017 nearly a third (122) of the 396 serious incidents recorded by the GCSB’s National Cyber Security Centre involved indicators that have previously been linked to state-sponsored actors.

I think it’s unlikely New Zealand will join the US with sanctions.

Record ODI score for White Ferns

New Zealand’s White Ferns have scored a record 490 runs in a 50 over One Day International. While the opposition (Ireland) will have contributed, this is especially impressive as women cricketers are not as big a hitters as men.

New Zealand women 490 for 4 (Bates 151, Green 121, Kerr 81*)
beat Ireland women 144 (Delany 37, Kasperek 4-17) by 346 runs

There were only 7 sizes in that total, but a whopping 64 fours – more than one per over on average. Ireland side scored only 18 boundaries, while Bates alone hit 26.

Notably, this match was played on the same pitch where New Zealand had chased down 137 in 11 overs without losing a wicket on Wednesday.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18508/report/1145891/ireland-women-vs-new-zealand-women-1st-odi-new-zealand-women-tour-of-ireland-and-england-2018

Ireland abortion vote puts New Zealand law to shame

Ireland has just resoundingly voted to modernise their abortion law, giving women the choice the should have.

This highlights New Zealand’s shameful persistence with law that is not fit for purpose to the extent that it is virtually ignored in practice, although it forces women into a demeaning process.

We should add abortion to the referendum list for next year, along with personal use of cannabis and euthanasia.

The last Government was not interested in addressing the abortion anomaly.

Abortion was not addressed in either the Labour-NZ First or Labour-Green governing agreements.

However Jacinda Ardern campaigned against the current law – Abortion ‘shouldn’t be a crime’ (September 2017):

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says abortion should not be in the Crimes Act and she would change the law.

Access to abortion is governed by the Crimes Act 1961 and the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977.

“It shouldn’t be in the Crimes Act. People need to be able to make their own decision. People need to be able to make their own decisions. I want women who want access to be able to have it as a right.”

At the same time Bill English supported the law as it is but also supported a conscience vote:

Prime Minster Bill English, a conservative Catholic, said he supported the law as it was and he would be opposed to liberalisation. He described the current set-up, where a woman has to get a certificate from two separate medical professionals saying she needed an abortion, was “broadly acceptable” and was working.

However, English said it would be a “conscience decision”, so his MP could vote freely on it.

Why not let the people vote on it?

February 2018: Labour moves to legalise abortion

Andrew Little surprised observers today when he revealed that a draft referral on reforming New Zealand’s abortion law had been circulated to New Zealand First and the Greens. Little said today that he received a letter from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after the coalition was formed directing him to begin the process of reforming the law.

Once the two parties give feedback, the referral will be sent to the Law Commission to make a recommendation.

New Zealand is not just out of step with modern law, it is also out of step with modern practices.

New Zealand is an outlier among OECD countries for the time it takes to get an abortion and the way abortions are provided to patients.

In New Zealand, a patient must be referred to two specialists to sign-off on the abortion. If one refuses, the woman may need to find a third specialist. The average time from referral to procedure is 25 days.

In other countries the it can take just a week from referral to procedure. This makes it more likely for New Zealand patients to require a surgical, rather than a medical abortion, as they have passed the nine week mark.

In New Zealand, only 15 percent of abortions are medical abortions. By contrast, 62 percent of abortions in the UK are medical abortions and 45 percent of abortions performed before nine weeks (two-thirds of the total number) in the United States are medical abortions.

Terry Bellamak, President of the Abortion Law Reform Association…

…said that she would like to see abortion wiped from the Crimes Act and the restrictive grounds for abortion abolished.

Currently, abortion can be granted on the grounds that the pregnancy is a risk to the physical or mental health of the mother; that there is a substantial risk the child will be seriously handicapped; that the pregnancy is a result of incest; or that the woman is deemed to be “severely subnormal”.

Bellamak said she would like New Zealand’s law to be reformed along the lines of Canada.

“Canada has absolutely no abortion laws and no regulations around abortion. They simply trust women,” she said.

Andrew Little refused to give much detail on what reform might look like…

…but suggested it might be broader than taking abortion out of the Crimes Act.

“There are more issues than just what’s in the Crimes Act … it’s also the hurdles that have been put in the way of women who are faced with making that decision”.

The vote would be a conscience vote, meaning MPs would be given the ability to vote freely without following a party line.

Why not a people vote, in a referendum along with cannabis and euthanasia?

Ardern and Little support reform.

Greens have actively campaigned on reform: Abortion – it’s time to decriminalise

The Green Party supports the decriminalisation of abortion because we trust women to make decisions that are best for them and their whānau/family. We want to ensure equal access to all potential options are available to pregnant women.

We want to change the abortion laws because:

  • The fact that 99% of abortions are approved on ‘mental health’ grounds reveals the dishonesty of the current legal situation.
  • The time taken to see two consultants means abortions happen later in the pregnancy. This is more dangerous for the woman, and it makes it difficult to access medical abortions (those which are conducted using medicine rather than surgery), which can only be performed at under 9 weeks’ gestation.
  • Rape (sexual violation) is not grounds for abortion under NZ law.
  • To reduce the stigma and judgement that happens over the reasons a woman chooses to have an abortion (e.g. rape being seen as more justified grounds for abortion than poverty).
  • Abortion’s continuing criminal status helps reinforce geographical variations in access to abortion services.
  • The current laws are discriminatory towards people with disabilities.

We also want to change the presumption that currently exists within medical culture and wider society, encouraged by the wording in the legislation, that if there is a significant disability diagnosis then an abortion is assumed to be desirable.

While English supported an MP conscience vote on abortion Simon Bridges could be different. In February when he became National leader:

Bridges told Mediaworks abortion should be “rare, safe and legal and I think the emphasis there is on rare. I think that’s where the vast majority of New Zealanders are”.

If that’s his view I think Bridges is out of touch with new Zealand.

Vice have noted he: “Voted to appoint a doctor strongly opposed to abortion to the Abortion Supervisory Committee.”

In principle NZ First supports people deciding things by referendum. In March last year Tracey Martin pointed this out in Politically, Abortion change rests with NZ First so what does that look like?

What’s our view on abortion legislation?

Abortions should be safe, legal and rare.

We have a policy of citizen-initiated binding referendum, held at the same time as a general election – a policy we have had for 23 years – this is one of those issues for such a referendum. It should not be decided by temporarily empowered politicians but by the public.

We need a 12 to 18 month conversation around this issue and then let the people have their say.

Topics that we would be suggest be associated with this discussion would include: Moving the issue from the Criminal Act to the Health Act, ensuring women get the best possible advice, getting more research into “why” women find themselves needing to seek this service and how can we assist them to avoid having to seek this service.

It makes more sense to me to have a referendum a year before the election. It separates issues decided from the politics of general elections, and is a very good way of engaging the public in democracy.

 

Google and other problems with NZ suppression law

Court suppression orders are difficult to deal with in the Internet age.

In the past media like newspapers had court reporters who were aware of what cases were suppressed and complied with suppression orders where appropriate.

But social media has introduced major problems – it is easy for just about anyone to say things (publish) online, but it is impossible for most of us to know what is suppressed, so we don’t know what can’t be legally published.

And another big problem is that major online content providers/publishers are based out of New Zealand, like Google, Facebook and Twitter. And Google says they are not bound by New Zealand law.

NZH: Google ‘thumbs its nose’ at New Zealand courts – lawyer

In high-profile cases covered by the Herald in recent months, Google NZ along with New Zealand’s major media outlets have been served with orders which suppress details and require the removal of content that infringes on privacy or fair trial rights.

However, Google says it’s “not in the business of censoring news” and won’t comply because its search engine is bound by the laws enforced at its home, the Googleplex, in California’s Silicon Valley.

The result means some information suppressed by New Zealand’s courts can be revealed in a Google search.

The problems and Google’s place in New Zealand’s courtrooms was an issue last year during the High Court retrial of double-killer Zarn Tarapata.

An interim take-down order for all content related to Tarapata’s first trial was made to protect his fair trial rights and suppress evidence which was ruled inadmissible.

The Herald and other media organisations opposed the order but were ultimately forced to comply and removed stories about Tarapata’s first trial to avoid being held in contempt of court.

However, despite having an Auckland office, Google NZ said it couldn’t remove details of the stories from its searchable records.

In an affidavit to the court, Google NZ software engineer Joseph Bailey, wrote: “Google New Zealand Limited has no ability to comply with the interim orders.”

He explained that the Google search engine, Google LLC, was a separate legal entity incorporated in the US, meaning New Zealand’s courts and laws held no power over it.

The company also said it would require a “perpetual review” to find the “trillions of webpages currently existing on the web, but also those which are subsequently created” that breached the court orders.

…a Google spokesman said: “We don’t allow these kinds of autocomplete predictions or related searches that violate laws or our own policies and we have removed examples we’ve been made aware.”

He said while Google NZ was bound by New Zealand laws, Google LLC was not.

“Google LLC prefers for news publishers to make their own decisions about whether their content should be available online,” he said.

Even for small publishers it can be a daunting task trying to monitor all content, especially when not knowing what is suppressed by court orders.

Prominent human rights and privacy lawyer Michael Bott said Google was “thumbing its nose” and “expressing a high-degree of arrogance” at court orders, threatening fair trial rights and due process.

Bott accepted however it was a “fine line” between attempting to control Google – like China – and protecting the foundations of a liberal democracy.

“In a liberal democracy we have the rule of law. If Google doesn’t follow take-down orders on the basis that it’s an international company based in California, well that maybe true, but it also ignores the reality of the internet,” he said.

But there’s another significant problem – take down orders, even if you can get one, can take quite a bit of time, and even if successful can be like shutting the stable door well after the story has bolted around the Internet.

I think that most people accept that suppression in some cases is important, especially when protecting the identity of victims of crime, especially children.

But I think that protecting the right to a fair trial via suppression can be virtually unworkable in the Internet age. Courts need to find a different way of dealing with this.

While I understand the argument for protecting rights to a fair trial i think that it needs to be reviewed, taking into account the practicalities of the use of the Internet.

There was recent example of failed suppression in Dunedin recently when a young woman was murdered. The name of the accused was published and circulated in social media before a suppression order was issued by the Court.

I have personal experience with abuse suppression in the courts. It was used to gag me while running an online campaign of harassment and defamation against me online, and if I confronted this online I was threatened with prosecution for breaching suppression, while the group attacking me claimed immunity because they claimed their publications were not in new Zealand, so therefore immune from New Zealand law.

So they used New Zealand law to gag me, while publishing offshore to avoid new Zealand law.

I am still gagged on this. I hope that that will be ending soon, but given the blatant hypocrisy of those involved they may try to keep their legal and personal abuses secret.

The Google (and Facebook et al) problem with suppression is not adequately addressed by New Zealand law and court practices, and neither is the use and abuse of suppression on a smaller and wider scale.

 

EU to start trade talks with New Zealand, Australia

The European Union has announced it will open trade talks with new Zealand and Australia in June.

Reuters: EU agrees to start Australia, New Zealand trade talks

European Union countries cleared the way on Tuesday for the bloc to begin free trade talks with Australia and New Zealand in a drive to forge new alliances as trade tensions with the United States increase.

The European Commission, which negotiates on behalf of the 28 EU members, said EU trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom would visit both countries to open talks in June before negotiators convene in Brussels in July for a first round of discussions.

The EU forecasts that ambitious and comprehensive agreements could boost its exports to the two countries by a third in the long term, although there are caveats about opening up EU markets to farm produce such as butter and beef.

The bloc is the third largest trade partner of both Australia and New Zealand.

Trade Minister David Parker: EU and New Zealand to start free trade talks

A free trade deal between New Zealand and the European Union (EU) has taken a major step forward with the announcement overnight that the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council has approved its negotiating mandate.

Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker has welcomed the news, saying it opens the way for a free trade deal with one of the largest economies in the world that will boost jobs and incomes.

“Credit must go to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern whose strong advocacy for New Zealand’s interests during her recent trip to Europe helped tip the balance,” David Parker said.

“It is also an endorsement of our strong backing for the talks as the next priority on our extensive free trade agenda, that includes the CPTPP, the Pacific Alliance and RCEP.

“These negotiations offer significant economic gains for New Zealand and the EU. They are an example of like-minded countries working together at a time when the world faces a rising tide of protectionism,” David Parker said.

“The EU is our third largest trading partner, with two-way trade worth more than $20 billion. Even excluding the UK, our trade with the EU is worth about $16 billion annually.

“Our recently-announced inclusive and progressive Trade for All agenda aims to benefit all citizens – an approach in line with the EU.

“At the start of negotiations, we’ll be releasing a package of information outlining our negotiating priorities for this agreement and how we will be engaging with New Zealanders as negotiations progress,” David Parker said.

A good step in the right direction with the EU on trade, but with 28 countries involved it will take some time to negotiate and approve, if successful.