NZ nuclear and peace activism

Today’s ODT editorial looks back at New Zealand’s nuclear free stand, and notes far less activism now on peace and nuclear issues.

Most activist attention is now on internal issues.

ODT: Giving peace a chance

The 30th anniversary of a defining moment in New Zealand’s recent history is being marked this week.

On June 8, 1987, “God’s Own Country” became a nuclear-free zone, after Parliament passed the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act.

It was a national statement that put our small and isolated country on the modern map. It heralded a proud, independent and values-driven stance, and a willingness to stand up to the “big boys”.

It became a label that unified New Zealanders and has continued to do so through the years.

It was one small stand for the world but a giant stand for New Zealand.

The US downgraded New Zealand’s status from ally to friend,  but National eventually got on board with the policy. France eventually halted its nuclear testing in 1996.

The US didn’t send another naval ship to our shores until last November, when it did so as part of the NZ navy’s 75th anniversary celebrations. It was widely seen as an official symbol of reconciliation.

It took 30 years for the US to accept New Zealand’s position as firmly entrenched.

There was some protest when the USS Sampson visited last year but that was quickly muted when it joined the assistance to Kaikoura after the earthquake there.

NZ Herald:  Fleet of international warships to help out with earthquake response

A fleet of international warships is bypassing Auckland’s historic naval celebrations and heading for Kaikoura to assist with the earthquake response.

The fleet includes the first United States warship to visit New Zealand in 33 years. The USS Sampson was due to enter Auckland Harbour today for the International Naval Review as part of celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the Royal New Zealand Navy.

The historic visit is the first since the Anzus rift in the 1980s sparked by New Zealand’s landmark anti-nuclear policy. However Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee confirmed that New Zealand had accepted offers of help with the quake recovery from five nations attending the International Naval Review – the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan and Singapore.

Protests against the USS Sampson are unlikely to have been much more than token anyway.

ODT:

Today, there seems much less of the activism that led to such significant political change, less too of the leadership on such issues, and less in the way of forthright challenges to our powerful friends.

Yet the challenges remain. The US Trump Administration is involved in a nuclear standoff with North Korea, as the United Nations attempts to negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. History is still in the making.

But how big a deal is the threat of nuclear war now? There’s not much we can do about it from here.

What about promoting peace? It just doesn’t seem to be much of a priority here now.

NZ Debt $528.7 billion

New Zealand debt is now over half a trillion dollars, with nearly half of it household debt. Government debt is $96.9 million.

Sounds a lot.

Tillerson in New Zealand

There was nothing dramatic about US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to New Zealand yesterday. There were some protests against him and the US but Tillerson is not Trump, and regardless of who is in power in the US New Zealand has to maintain relations with them..

NZ Herald:  US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: US not giving up on NZ, Pacific

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has dismissed New Zealand’s concerns about its future role in the Asia-Pacific and the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, saying it reflected the will of the American people.

Prime Minister Bill English raised New Zealand’s disagreement about the decision to withdraw from the climate change accord in a meeting with Tillerson on Tuesday.

Tillerson was in New Zealand as an add-on to his trip to Australia, meeting with English and Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee at Premier House before jetting out again five hours after he landed.

He is the first senior member of the US Administration to visit New Zealand and US media travelling with him reported people in Wellington gave the one-finger salute at his motorcade in an apparent show of disgust over the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

He said there was no suggestion the US was stepping away from such issues, trying to isolate itself or giving up on the Asia-Pacific, pointing to recent visits to the region by US Vice-President Mike Pence and Defence Secretary Mattis.

“One of the reasons I’m in the region … is to reaffirm to everyone that the United States views this region of the world as extremely important to both our national security interest and our own economic and prosperity interests.

“I think you can expect to see an elevated level of engagement to that you saw over the past eight years.”

NZ Herald:  Top US diplomat reassures English that engagement will increase

Tillerson defended Trump from a New Zealand reporter’s description of him as “unpredictable” in relation to the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal and from the Paris Accord on climate change.

But Tillerson did not defend the indefensible: Trump’s tweet criticising London mayor Sadiq Khan for warning citizens there would be extra police on the streets because of the terrorist threat and not to be alarmed.

I think that it was a bit silly asking Tillerson about controlling Trump’s tweeting. But Trump’s very public interactions mist be a headache for the Secretary of State.

It was an illustration of the impossible mission for Trump’s foreign-focused Cabinet members, Tillerson and Defence Secretary James Mattis – for every step forward they make in reassuring friends and allies that the US has not gone gaga, it is two tweets back.

But there was serious business to discuss as well.

English welcomed the Tillerson visit and his reassurances as though he had ridden in on a white charger.

With only five visits to New Zealand in the past 20 years, more often than not Secretaries of State have taken the short-cut home after a visit to Australia.

The fact that Tillerson made the visit to New Zealand so early in his term is evidence of what he said at his press conference – that the US intends to elevate its presence in the region.

NZ Herald:  Fact or fiction: Tillerson on the United States’ ‘unparalleled’ climate change record

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson defended his country’s record on climate change during a whistle-stop visit to Wellington today.

“The United States has an extraordinary record of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, possibly unparalleled by anyone else.

“Our greenhouse gas emissions are at levels that were last seen in the 1990s.

“That’s been done with 50 million more energy consumers that we had in the 1990s, with an economy that’s twice as large.”

Fact or fiction?

Environmental Protection Agency records show that US greenhouse gas emissions in 2015 were 3.5 per cent higher than in 1990.

They were 6.7 per cent lower in 2015 than the highest point in the 1990s, in 1999.

The US population actually grew by closer to 76 million people over this period, going from 249 million in 1990 to 325 million in 2017 – an increase of 30.5 per cent. Its GDP nearly doubled from $8.9 trillion to $16.8 trillion.

So Tillerson’s statement that US emissions were now at “1990 levels” despite large demographic and economic growth stacks up.

However, his claim that the US record on reducing emissions is “unparalleled” is not as accurate.

English and Brownlee played things straight and diplomatic with Tillerson, as they must.

 

 

Complicating Middle East split

Five Middle East countries have severed ties with Qatar, complicating an already very complex situation there, and and making things awkward for the US which has a major military base there.

NY Times: 5 Arab States Break Ties With Qatar, Complicating U.S. Coalition-Building

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and three other Arab countries severed all ties with Qatar

early Monday, in a renewal of a four-year effort to isolate it and in a sign of a new boldness after a visit to the region by President Trump.

In an abrupt and surprising move, the five Arab states not only suspended diplomatic relations, as they have in the past, but also cut off land, air and sea travel to and from Qatar. All but Egypt, which has many thousands of people working there, ordered their citizens to leave the country.

Qatar, like other monarchies in the Persian Gulf, is a close ally of Washington, and it hosts a major American military base that commands the United States-led air campaign against the Islamic State.

As such, the feud among regional allies threatens to stress the operations of the American-led coalition and complicate efforts in the region to confront Iran — but could also be a heavy blow to Tehran’s regional ambitions, if Qatar is forced to sever ties.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson offered to broker the impasse on Monday in the hope of preserving the Trump administration’s efforts to create broad coalitions against Iran and terrorist groups in the Middle East.

“We certainly would encourage the parties to sit down together and address these differences,” Mr. Tillerson said.

Tillerson’s visit to New Zealand may be little more than some time out from difficult and complex issues elsewhere in the world.

The severing of all connections by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen created an immediate crisis for Qatar. Qatari diplomats were given 48 hours to leave their posts in Bahrain, while Qatari citizens were allotted two weeks to depart Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia said it was taking the action to “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism.” The Foreign Ministry of Qatar released a statement saying the action had “no basis in fact” and was “unjustified.”

The Iranian government criticized the Saudi-led action against Qatar in a diplomatically worded rebuke. “Neighbors are permanent; geography can’t be changed,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on his Twitter account. “Coercion is never the solution,” Mr. Zarif said. “Dialogue is imperative, especially during blessed Ramadan.”

Why make this move, and why now?

It was not immediately clear why the five countries decided to take this action now. Last month, Qatar’s state news media published comments attributed to the emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, referring to tension with Washington over Iran policy and saying Mr. Trump might not be in power for long. Qatar denied the comments, saying it had been the victim of a “cybercrime.”

But most analysts pointed to President Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia.

But the move also creates potential complications for the United States — raising questions about whether the Trump administration knew it was happening; if they understood the pitfalls; if they attempted to counter it and could not.

Everything is a complication in the Middle East.

In another indication of how the Trump visit may have emboldened Gulf monarchies, Bahrain has cracked down on opposition from its Shiite majority over the last two weeks.

In international affairs even the best intentions rarely achieve their aims without at least some adverse reactions and effects.

Its actions are a study in contradictions. Qatar has good relations with Iran, but hosts the American air base, is helping to fight the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen and supports insurgents against the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, which is backed by Tehran. And yet, the Qatari emir once gave Mr. Assad an Airbus plane.

Home to some Israeli officials, Qatar has also given refuge to Khaled Mashal, a leader of Hamas, the hard-line Islamist group in Gaza that advocates the destruction of Israel.

Tensions had been building for years, beginning with Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and through the broadcasts of the Pan-Arab news network Al Jazeera, which Qatar funds.

Qatar’s rivals have also faulted it for condoning fund-raising for militant Islamist groups fighting in Syria, although several of the other Sunni-led monarchies in the region have played similar roles.

So the US has a military base that it uses to fight ISIS in a country that allegedly supports fund raising for ISIS.

Qatar’s opponents have recently added a third allegation to those grievances: that it is conspiring with their regional rival, Iran.

In his visit to the Middle East Trump named Iran as the main enemy of peace in the Middle East.

However the crisis is resolved, if at all, Mr. Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who appeared in their first joint news conference, in Sydney, Australia, after talks with their Australian counterparts, insisted that it would not undermine the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Tillerson will visit New Zealand today. I doubt whether political protests against Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord – see Futile protest against US climate stance – will be very high on Tillerson’s list of concerns.

Cannabidiol (CBD) can now be prescribed by doctors

A small but important step towards making it easier to access the medicinal cannabis extract cannabidiol (CBD), which is a non-hallucinogenic extract and believed to be beneficial for a number of ailments and for pain relief.

There are very few products available in New Zealand, but was they become available the way is clear for doctors to prescribe them. Currently approval has to be sought through the Ministry of Health.

Australia has already dome something similar so it will allow New Zealand to access the same CBD based drugs that become available in Australia.

Peter Dunne has driven this, getting the approval of the National dominated Cabinet.

Beehive notice:


Government to ease restrictions on Cannabidiol

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne says New Zealand is to remove restrictions around cannabidiol (CBD), in line with international developments.

CBD is a substance found in cannabis that has potential therapeutic value. It has little or no psychoactive properties, yet it is currently a controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

“At present CBD products for therapeutic use are only available if approval is given by the Ministry of Health.

“I have taken advice from the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs (EACD) that CBD should not be a controlled drug and am pleased Cabinet has now accepted my recommendation to make this change.  Therefore, I am now taking steps to remove restrictions accordingly.

“In practical terms, the changes mean CBD would be able to be prescribed by a doctor to their patient and supplied in a manner similar to any other prescription medicine.

“Australia has already taken a similar step while other countries are also responding to emerging evidence that CBD has a low risk of harm when used therapeutically.

“This change is about future-proofing access to CBD products, as the reality is that there will continue to be barriers beyond New Zealand’s control to people accessing such products from overseas,” says Mr Dunne.

Currently there is a limited range of CBD products made to a standard where prescribers can be sure the products contains what is claimed – and strict import and export restrictions on products sourced from other countries, which will continue to impact the supply of CBD products in New Zealand.

“However, we do know of at least one CBD product in development made to high manufacturing standards that will contain two per cent or less of the other cannabinoids found in cannabis,” said Mr Dunne.

The changes will include removing requirements for:

  • Ministerial approval to prescribe;
  • pharmacies, prescribers, and wholesalers to have an import licence, and to meet certain requirements for storage, and the maintaining of controlled drug records and stock keeping.

Prescriptions would be allowed for up to three months’ supply, rather than one month. These measures can be achieved by amending the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1977 in the first instance, pending any future amendment of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Afghan attack, and arms supply

At about the same time a huge terrorist bomb went off in Kabul a top US general has confirmed that Russia is supplying arms to the Taliban.

Newshub: Kabul in mourning after fatal bomb blast

Kabul is mourning the victims of a truck bomb that killed at least 80 people and wounded hundreds amid growing public anger at the government’s failure to prevent yet another deadly attack in the heart of the Afghan capital.

Wednesday’s blast, at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, ripped through a traffic-clogged street packed with people on their way to school or work during the morning rush hour, causing hundreds of casualties in an instant and sending a tower of black smoke into the sky.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani made a televised address late on Wednesday, calling for national unity in the face of the attack, which his National Directorate for Security blamed on the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network, but he faces an increasingly angry public.

“For God’s sake, what is happening to this country?” said Ghulam Sakhi, a shoemaker whose shop is close to the site of the blast.

“People leave home to fetch a loaf of bread for their children and later that evening, their dead body is sent back to the family.”

There has been no claim of responsibility but Afghanistan’s National Directorate for Security blamed the Haqqani network, a Taliban affiliate directly integrated into the militant movement, and said it had been helped by Pakistan’s intelligence service.

The Taliban have denied involvement.

Regardless of whether the Taliban were responsible the murkiness of the perpetual civil war in Afghanistan was highlighted by this from the Washington Post: Russia is sending weapons to Taliban, top U.S. general confirms

The general in charge of U.S. forces in Afghanistan appeared to confirm Monday that Russia is sending weapons to the Taliban, an intervention that will probably further complicate the 15-year-old war here and the Kremlin’s relations with the United States.

When asked by reporters, Gen. John Nicholson did not dispute claims that the Taliban is receiving weapons and other supplies from the Russians.

“We continue to get reports of this assistance,” Nicholson said, speaking to reporters alongside Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. “We support anyone who wants to help us advance the reconciliation process, but anyone who arms belligerents who perpetuate attacks like the one we saw two days ago in Mazar-e Sharif is not the best way forward to a peaceful reconciliation.”

A senior U.S. military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence on the issue, said the Russians have increased their supply of equipment and small arms to the Taliban over the past 18 months.

“Any weapons being funneled here from a foreign country would be a violation of international law unless they were coming to the government of Afghanistan,” Mattis said, speaking during his first visit to Afghanistan as defense secretary. He added that it would have to be dealt with as such.

In the past, Nicholson has criticized Russia’s contact with the Taliban, saying that it has given “legitimacy” to a group that has undermined the elected government in Kabul.

New American: Kabul Bomb Blast Could Be Used to Justify Increase in U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

A powerful bomb hidden inside a sewage tanker truck exploded during the morning rush hour in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, on May 31, killing at least 80 people, wounding hundreds more, and damaging nearby embassy buildings.

Some have speculated that this bomb attack might influence U.S. policy on increasing troop strength in Afghanistan.

A few days agoGovernment considering sending more troops to Afghanistan at request of US

A decision on whether to send more Kiwi troops to Afghanistan at the request of the United States will be made in a matter of weeks.

Prime Minister Bill English confirmed at his weekly media briefing on Monday that the US on behalf of NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) has asked that New Zealand send an additional two personnel – taking the total team to 12 in the region.

A 20% increase in NZ troops! Only two more, not many, but one has to wonder if Afghanistan can ever be fixed. Peace is unlikely to to be able to be imposed by outside countries.

South Island from 330 km-ish

The International Space Station orbits at a mean altitude ranging of 330 (it needs periodic boosts to restore it’s altitude).

Here is a photo of the South Island of New Zealand posted on Twitter by @Thom_astro:

dap5_37xsaac41g

Thomas Parquet:

Européen Français, pilote de vaisseau spatial à l’ESA en mission pour six mois sur l’ISS / Euro-French spacecraft pilot at ESA, now on 6-month ISS mission

More interesting pics of different parts of the planet from him  here.

 

The white tangata whenua

Last week the Northern Advocate published some revised history claiming that white people from Europe settled Aotearoa before Maori came here.

Northern Advocate (NZ Herald): Pre-Maori faces created from skulls, says Northland historian

A Northland historian has released what he says are forensic reconstructions of pre-Maori Northlanders that support his theory that Chinese and European seafarers came to New Zealand centuries before Polynesians.

Kaipara based historian Noel Hilliam says a forensic expert from Edinburgh University has reconstructed features using skulls retrieved from heaps of ancient human bones that were once piled in caves at several sites around the Kaipara.

The faces depict a blond woman with Celtic characteristics common in Wales and a man of Mediterranean appearance.

Kaipara skeletons were found with strands of red hair and a London pathologist who examined them in 1997 did not consider them Polynesian.

In a message to Mr Hilliam, the Edinburgh pathologist said his examination of skulls and skeletal remains from four sites showed they were from two races.

“People known in your country as Turehu originated from Wales over 3000 years ago and those known as Waitaha originated from the Mediterranean,” the pathologist said.

“The two skulls you randomly uplifted from one site – the female, which I named Henrietta, is Turehu of 23 years of age and 1.3m tall going on the average height of skeletons I examined. She originates from Wales.

“The Waitaha male is 34 years old 1.65m tall, average among the skeletal remains examined, and originates from the Mediterranean.”

The historian has not disclosed the names of the pathologist and forensic expert because he expected controversy over their findings.

These sorts of claims are not new. From Dargaville and Districts News (Stuff) in 2012: `Greeks got here first’

New Zealand history is going to be turned on its head when the book To the Ends of the Earth is launched next month, co-author Noel Hilliam says.

The controversial book, written by researcher Maxwell C Hill with additional information from Dargaville shipwreck explorer Noel Hilliam, Gary Cook and John Aldworth, looks at what they say is evidence that Greeks, Spanish and Egyptians travelled to New Zealand before Maori.

The 378-page book explores a variety of evidence from ancient maps to ancient rock formations, giant human skeletons, cave drawings, oral history and a multitude of other physical evidence.

“Our contention is that ancient Greek navigators were the first to sail down under, landing in New Zealand before the Christian era began, to become the first inhabitants of the islands,” Mr Hilliam says.

Now Hilliam claims it was the Welsh who got here first.

Newshub details other claimed discoveries: From a non-Māori Maui to Spanish shipwrecks: Who is Noel Hilliam?

And reports: Amateur historian admits grave-robbing Maori burials

Noel Hilliam told the Northern Advocate he had found skulls that pre-date Māori.

However Mr Hilliam’s research, which has no academic basis, has been widely criticised.

“The statement that the young adult woman is from Wales is ludicrous. There is no way to find that information out from the skull size and shape, nor is it possible to tell that a person has blue eyes and blonde hair from skeletal features,” University of Otago bio-archaeologist Dr Siân Halcrow told Vice.

Worse, his actions have been condemned as racist and illegal.

“It is the violation of a sacred site. Them raiding urupā and acquiring ancestral heads – they haven’t said where from – makes me really concerned,” Auckland University senior lecturer Dr Ngarino Gabriel Ellis told Vice.

“Taking from urupā, just like from anyone’s [grave], is a violation of our funeral practices. These are our ancestors. They were not intended to be removed and distributed.

“It’s also illegal to go and tamper with anyone’s grave – so why aren’t there criminal charges being pressed?”

Mr Hilliam has refused to name the ‘experts’ he talked to, and told Vice that while he knew he was breaking the law, he did it because the law was unjust.

The Northern Advocate has since removed the article.

I couldn’t find the article yesterday but it is back on the Herald’s beta site.

The Spinoff: The white tangata whenua, and other bullshit from the ‘One New Zealand’ crew

Over the past 30 years a growing a minority of New Zealanders has decided that the first inhabitants of their country had white rather than brown skin. They believe that one or more European peoples emigrated to these islands thousands of years ago, and established a populous and technologically sophisticated civilisation here. This pigmentopia was invaded and conquered by the ancestors of Māori. The warlike Polynesians slew the white men they found, took the women as wives, and appropriated the indigenes’ greenstone carvings.

Mike Barrington’s article may have talked nonsense about New Zealand history, but it did provide a reasonably accurate narrative of the careers of the country’s pseudo-historians.

Hilliam has made other remarkable claims over the years. In 1982 he said he had found the remains of an old Spanish ship on a beach near Dargaville, but the wreck vanished before he could show it to anybody. In 2008 he told Radio New Zealand that he had found a Nazi submarine off the Northland coast. The submarine had supposedly left Germany in the last days of the Third Reich, loaded with gold. Hilliam never made good on his promise to reveal the location of the submarine wreck.

The notion of a white tangata whenua promised to relieve Pakeha of their status as latecomers to New Zealand, and to counter Māori talk of historical injustice. But the theory had, and still has, a problem: a complete lack of evidence.

In recent years a series of scholars have run DNA tests on Māori, in an effort to trace their ancestry. These tests confirm that Māori are a Polynesian people, and that Polynesians have their origins in coastal Asia thousands of years ago. There is no genetic evidence for ancient contact between Polynesians and Europeans.

The believers in an ancient white civilisation are undeterred by the lack of evidence for their claims. They insist that a conspiracy of Māori leaders, politically correct academics, cowardly Pākehā politicians and sinister international organisations is working to conceal and destroy the physical legacy of New Zealand’s first inhabitants. They claim that the stone city in Waipoua forest has been closed to visitors by Department of Conservation staff and local Māori. Elsewhere teams of explosives experts are blowing up the stone houses of the first New Zealanders and sealing burial caves. Ancient European bones and artefacts are being quietly removed from museums, and roads are being built through the sites of Celtic observatories.

I guess the Herald will remove the article from their beta site as well.

 

Japan and NZ aim for TPP progress

Trade Minister Todd MaClay has visited Japan with Prime Minister Bill English, and both countries have announced a willingness to progress the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement despite the withdrawal of the United States.

Newshub: English’s Japan trip breathes new life into TPP

Prime Minister Bill English has been meeting with his counterpart Shinzo Abe. He says he’s looking forward to working with Japan to move the TPP forward, without the United States.

“Acknowledging the leadership of Prime Minister Abe, I’m taking it forward. Like Japan, New Zealand has ratified the agreement, and we look forward to working together to progress the TPP.”

The 11 countries left negotiating the agreement after the United States pulled out will meet in Hanoi, Vietnam, this weekend.

New Zealand and Japan remain the only countries to have ratified the TPP.

It’s likely the text that was signed last year will be revised, now the US has left, before it’s agreed to by all member countries.

Japan Times: Japan and New Zealand agree to aim for progress on TPP by November

Japan and New Zealand confirmed they will aim to reach an agreement with other signatories to move the Trans-Pacific Partnership forward by November despite the withdrawal of the United States.

“What is important now is whether the (remaining) members can share a view about the future direction of the TPP … and we hope to make efforts to reach an agreement” by November when a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum will be held in Vietnam, economic and fiscal policy minister Nobuteru Ishihara told reporters after talks Monday with New Zealand trade minister Todd McClay in Tokyo.

Japan and New Zealand are among the 11 remaining Pacific Rim countries pursuing the TPP free trade pact without U.S. involvement, but some countries, including Vietnam and Malaysia, which hope to boost exports to the United States, are believed to be reluctant to put the agreement into force without the world’s biggest economy.

“It is extremely important that the 11 countries unite and be clear about the future of the TPP” despite the “differences in the ideas and motives of the member countries,” said Ishihara, Japan’s point man on TPP negotiations.

The two ministers met as representatives of the 11 states will try to narrow their differences at a TPP ministerial meeting, set to take place Sunday in Hanoi alongside an APEC trade ministers’ meeting that starts Saturday.

“The TPP meeting in Hanoi will be an important meeting as we look to discuss the direction of the TPP,” Ishihara said, adding that Japan and New Zealand will seek to “lead the discussions.”

New Zealand formally ratified the TPP deal Thursday, becoming the second signatory country to do so after Japan, which completed domestic ratification procedures in December.

So a revamped TPP could still go ahead without the US.

Election quiz

A New Zealand election quiz to “to see how your political beliefs match the political parties and candidates in the September 2017 general election”.

My results:

PartiesISideWith

But this is only part of the story.

Policies that I rate as more important than most in the survey weren’t in there.

And it doesn’t address competence of leaders, competence of parties nor compatibilities of parties – for example if I liked Labour I might not like Labour +NZ First or NZ + Greens as a coalition option.

And it doesn’t take into account tactical voting. I’ve voted Green before not because I thought they were the best party to lead a government but because I thought the election was a foregone conclusion and I think that a decent dollop of Green voice in the mix is health for our Parliament.

This survey is an interesting exercise but gives no indication of who I might vote for.