Jacinda Ardern ‘opinion’ in NY Times

An opinion piece from Jacinda Ardern has been published in the New York Times. This isn’t available from the official Beehive news release website, so I presume it’s intended as a message to the world rather than to the people of New Zealand.

Her aim (as stated) is not as some people claim, to shut down free speech or to stop critics from speaking. There is absolutely no evidence as some claim that Ardern is fronting some sort of UN conspiracy to take over the world and subjugate the world population.

She says:

Our aim may not be simple, but it is clearly focused: to end terrorist and violent extremist content online. This can succeed only if we collaborate.

The vast majority of us, nearly all of us, are not terrorists or violent extremists, so we hopefully have little to fear from what she is trying to achieve internationally.

A terrorist attack like the one in Christchurch could happen again unless we change. New Zealand could reform its gun laws, and we did. We can tackle racism and discrimination, which we must. We can review our security and intelligence settings, and we are. But we can’t fix the proliferation of violent content online by ourselves. We need to ensure that an attack like this never happens again in our country or anywhere else.

Of course it is up to us here in New Zealand to engage with discussions over free speech and hate speech and terrorism and extremism and attempts to promote violence online, to help ensure that social media regulations are intended for the extreme minority and shouldn’t affect the rest of us.


Social media needs reform. No one should be able to broadcast mass murder.

By Jacinda Ardern
Ms. Ardern is the prime minister of New Zealand.

At 1:40 p.m. on Friday, March 15, a gunman entered a mosque in the city of Christchurch and shot dead 41 people as they worshiped.

He then drove for six minutes to another mosque where, at 1:52 p.m., he entered and took the lives of another seven worshipers in just three minutes. Three more people died of their injuries after the attack.

For New Zealand this was an unprecedented act of terror. It shattered our small country on what was otherwise an ordinary Friday afternoon. I was on my way to visit a new school, people were preparing for the weekend, and Kiwi Muslims were answering their call to prayer. Fifty men, women and children were killed that day. Thirty-nine others were injured; one died in the hospital weeks later, and some will never recover.

This attack was part of a horrifying new trend that seems to be spreading around the world: It was designed to be broadcast on the internet.

The entire event was live-streamed — for 16 minutes and 55 seconds — by the terrorist on social media. Original footage of the live stream was viewed some 4,000 times before being removed from Facebook. Within the first 24 hours, 1.5 million copies of the video had been taken down from the platform. There was one upload per second to YouTube in the first 24 hours.

The scale of this horrific video’s reach was staggering. Many people report seeing it autoplay on their social media feeds and not realizing what it was — after all, how could something so heinous be so available? I use and manage my social media just like anyone else. I know the reach of this video was vast, because I too inadvertently saw it.

We can quantify the reach of this act of terror online, but we cannot quantify its impact. What we do know is that in the first week and a half after the attack, 8,000 people who saw it called mental health support lines here in New Zealand.

My job in the immediate aftermath was to ensure the safety of all New Zealanders and to provide whatever assistance and comfort I could to those affected. The world grieved with us. The outpouring of sorrow and support from New Zealanders and from around the globe was immense. But we didn’t just want grief; we wanted action.

Our first move was to pass a law banning the military-style semiautomatic guns the terrorist used. That was the tangible weapon.

But the terrorist’s other weapon was live-streaming the attack on social media to spread his hateful vision and inspire fear. He wanted his chilling beliefs and actions to attract attention, and he chose social media as his tool.

We need to address this, too, to ensure that a terrorist attack like this never happens anywhere else. That is why I am leading, with President Emmanuel Macron of France, a gathering in Paris on Wednesday not just for politicians and heads of state but also the leaders of technology companies. We may have our differences, but none of us wants to see digital platforms used for terrorism.

Our aim may not be simple, but it is clearly focused: to end terrorist and violent extremist content online. This can succeed only if we collaborate.

Numerous world leaders have committed to going to Paris, and the tech industry says it is open to working more closely with us on this issue — and I hope they do. This is not about undermining or limiting freedom of speech. It is about these companies and how they operate.

I use Facebook, Instagram and occasionally Twitter. There’s no denying the power they have and the value they can provide. I’ll never forget a few days after the March 15 attack a group of high school students telling me how they had used social media to organize and gather in a public park in Christchurch to support their school friends who had been affected by the massacre.

Social media connects people. And so we must ensure that in our attempts to prevent harm that we do not compromise the integral pillar of society that is freedom of expression.

But that right does not include the freedom to broadcast mass murder.

And so, New Zealand will present a call to action in the name of Christchurch, asking both nations and private corporations to make changes to prevent the posting of terrorist content online, to ensure its efficient and fast removal and to prevent the use of live-streaming as a tool for broadcasting terrorist attacks. We also hope to see more investment in research into technology that can help address these issues.

The Christchurch call to action will build on work already being undertaken around the world by other international organizations. It will be a voluntary framework that commits signatories to counter the drivers of terrorism and put in place specific measures to prevent the uploading of terrorist content.

A terrorist attack like the one in Christchurch could happen again unless we change. New Zealand could reform its gun laws, and we did. We can tackle racism and discrimination, which we must. We can review our security and intelligence settings, and we are. But we can’t fix the proliferation of violent content online by ourselves. We need to ensure that an attack like this never happens again in our country or anywhere else.

 

 

The US “Deserves a Leader as Good as Jacinda Ardern”

Jacinda Ardern has been widely praised around New Zealand for how she has handled the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque terror attacks – with a lot of dignity, compassion and understanding.

At the vigil in Dunedin on Thursday night the large crowd was receptive to good speeches and a series of prayers from different religious leaders.

One of the most noticeable reactions was when Otago Muslim Association chairman Mohammed Rizwan mentioned Ardern – there was an immediate buzz that quickly swelled into a round of spontaneous applause.

Ardern has also had very positive coverage from around the world. For good reason.

She has featured in a NY Times editorial:  America Deserves a Leader as Good as Jacinda Ardern

The murder of 50 Muslim worshipers in New Zealand, allegedly by a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist, will be long scrutinized for the way violent hatreds are spawned and staged on social media and the internet. But now the world should learn from the way Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, has responded to the horror.

Almost immediately after last Friday’s killings, Ms. Ardern listened to her constituents’ outrage and declared that within days her government would introduce new controls on the military-style weapons that the Christchurch shooter and many of the mass killers in the United States have used on their rampages. And she delivered.

On Thursday, Ms. Ardern announced a ban on all military-style semiautomatic and automatic weapons, parts that can be used to turn other rifles into such weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. “It’s about all of us,” she said, “it’s in the national interest and it’s about safety.”

Earlier in the week, she told Parliament that social media sites must address the ease with which the internet can be used to spew hate and images of violence. “We cannot simply sit back and accept that these platforms just exist and that what is said on them is not the responsibility of the place where they are published,” she said. “It cannot be a case of all profit, no responsibility.”

…the display of what one deranged man can do with weapons designed for combat seemed to persuade a majority of New Zealanders, and a strong majority in Parliament, of the need to ban rapid-firing weapons.

That attitude stood in stark contrast to the way the National Rifle Association and its political allies in the United States have resisted any restrictions on weapons like the AR-15, the semiautomatic rifle used in several mass killings.

I have seen this point made time and again on Twitter, often highlighting the contrast between the usual ‘thoughts and prayers’  repeated after each major mass shooting in the US, followed by the NRA runing a campaign against change, and nothing changing apart from the identity of the next mass murderer.

In New Zealand, it took one mass shooting to awaken the government. In the United States, even a string of mass killings — 26 dead in a school in Newtown, Conn.; 49 in a nightclub in Orlando; 58 at a concert in Las Vegas; 17 in a school in Parkland, Fla. — has not been enough. Nor has the fact that 73 percent of Americans say that more needs to be done to curb gun violence, according to recent polling.

The ban on terrorists’ weapon of choice was only one of the areas in which Ms. Ardern showed what leadership looks like in time of crisis. In lieu of trite messages, she donned a black head scarf and led a group of politicians to visit victims’ families; speaking without a script to a school some of the victims attended, she urged the pupils to “let New Zealand be a place where there is no tolerance for racism. Ever.”

She told grieving families, “We cannot know your grief, but we can walk with you at every stage.”

In the same week Donald trump has had a running battle on Twitter with the husband of one of his advisers, and has lashed out yet again at John McCain, who is unable to respond from his grave.

After this and any such atrocity, the world’s leaders should unite in clearly condemning racism, sharing in the grief of the victims and stripping the haters of their weapons. Ms. Ardern has shown the way.

 

Ardern has been supported all the way by most of the rest of Parliament. Hopefully this cooperative approach to politics continues.

But she deserves a lot of credit herself – she has stepped up in a time of rel adversity and risk, and has got most of the country and much of the world applauding her with pride and admiration.

Also from NY Times: Why Jacinda Ardern Matters

New Zealand’s prime minister is emerging as the progressive antithesis to right-wing strongmen like Trump, Orban and Modi, whose careers thrive on illiberal, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Like any political leader she has a range of challenges ahead of her, but where it as really mattered she has been impressive.

 

Trump’s campaign of pressure and intimidation against investigations

If this is anywhere near accurate it is alarming – and it is obviously at least partly true as Trump has openly attacked aa number of aspects of investigations into what he and his campaign have done.

This examination by , , and reveals the extent of an even more sustained, more secretive assault by President Trump on the machinery of federal law enforcement unlike any before seen in American history.

Interviews with dozens of current and former U.S. government officials and others close to President Trump, as well as a review of confidential White House documents, reveal numerous unreported episodes in a 2-year drama.

The White House and the Department of Justice declined to comment for this article. Matthew Whitaker referred inquiries to the Justice Department.

Our reporting details how President Trump has attacked the law enforcement apparatus of his own government like no other president in history, and how he has turned the effort into an obsession.

President Trump has publicly attacked the federal inquiries into contacts between his campaign and Russia more than 1,100 times, according to our analysis of nearly every public statement or tweet that he has made while in office

During a lunch with one of his longtime allies, Chris Christie, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, Mr. Trump said that firing Mr. Flynn would end the Russia inquiry.

“This Russia thing is all over now because I fired Flynn,” Mr. Trump said, according to a new book by Mr. Christie.

Mr. Christie disagreed with that assessment. “This Russia thing is far from over,” Mr. Christie wrote that he told Mr. Trump, who responded: “What do you mean? Flynn met with the Russians. That was the problem. I fired Flynn. It’s over.”

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was also at the lunch with Mr. Christie and viewed the firing the way his father-in-law did. “That’s right, firing Flynn ends the whole Russia thing,” Mr. Kushner said, according to Mr. Christie’s book.

So Trump and Kushner thought he had successfully stopped the investigation into himself. That the president should even attempt to stop investigations into himself is bad enough (but seems to be largely accepted as just what trump does), but thinking he had done something to stop the investigation completely shows clear intent to put himself above and beyond the law,

That should be alarming.

So should Trump’s predictable response.

This is a pathetic continuation of his attempts to paint himself as the victim of persecution, and to paint media who investigate him and hold him to account as enemies. The only thing not alarming about this is that he has done it so often it has become normal behaviour from him.

Media have been far from perfect in how they have dealt with the Trump phenomenon, and the investigations, but Trump’s attacks against them, and his attempts to discredit any media that doesn’t laud and applaud him, and his attempts to make his own Twitter feed as the only authority on him, is quite disgraceful in a supposed open democracy and free society.

Despite his success in trivialising serious matters and creating a numbness in response to his ongoing outrageous behaviour, it is gradually backfiring on Trump. He has many loyal supporters but his support is not increasing to a popular level, Poll ‘approval’ has not been above 45% since just after he took over in early 2017, and disapproval has not been below 50% (RCP).

Much of his entrenched support is because the people wanting certain things done want them done regardless of democracy or proper process so are willing to excuse his attempts to abuse his power. But he is gradually disappointing different groups through his failures and his u-turns and his excuses.

His attacks on media are forcing them to be more accurate in their investigations of him. And he has challenged and provoked them into doing better investigations. This is exposing him as a bullying buffoon who would be dangerous if the US checks on power and a compliant media allowed him.

Ardern risks being hoist by her own celebrity PR petard

Jacinda Ardern has received international attention since becoming Prime Minister. Some of this is legitimate news, but some of it seems to be jacked up PR, usually more personal pap than political analysis.

This probably shouldn’t be unexpected, international media seems more interested in superficial celebration of so-called celebrities generally, and there is usually little interest in New Zealand politics.

But what is Ardern trying to achieve? She is receiving attention, but she risks being entrenched as a superficial celebrity without political substance.

She should try to sort out her leadership and Government in New Zealand before taking on the world.

Ardern seems to have favoured status at the UK Guardian which at times seems to be a PR arm of Ardern’s office. here are some recent efforts:

Is she planning on standing for election in the United Kingdom?

And not just Ardern, her partner Clarke Gayford is amping the PR as well.

And, suggested by some as preparation for a trip to the United States, Ardern has featured in a New York Times promotion:

SUNDAY REVIEW

Lady of the Rings: Jacinda Rules

Jacinda Ardern, one of the young, progressive leaders countering Donald Trump, talks about being only the second world leader to give birth.

Global hype continues to paint Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as a cliche

Jacinda Ardern was an MP for nine years before becoming Labour’s saving grace.

Yet a new piece the in New York Times was still focused on her shorts-wearing partner and the happiness club she founded when she was eight.

Well-known for her coverage inside the Trump White House, columnist Maureen Dowd labelled Ardern as “Lady of the Rings”.

In an instant, Dowd meshed together a retrograde label with a 15-year-old movie reference and proved we haven’t moved past the shallow caricatures that have come to define us as a nation.

It just seems the international media can’t get past our leader’s novelty value.

Dowd presents our PM as having perpetual sunniness and being someone who would call Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then yell: “OMG, Justin! Are you seeing this?”.

But where is the political meat you would expect from sit-down interviews with an international leader?

The real “Jacindamania” is not the rush of enthusiasm that swept her into leadership.

Rather, it’s the permanent psychosis that has taken hold of global media, preventing real debate of our country’s policies and role in the world.

It leaves Ardern battling a caricature of herself and New Zealand still stuck at the kids’ table where we are described through the lens of a “hip” liberal leader and, inevitably, a few Lord of the Rings references.

Based on the myriad of international media coverage, she is just that unwed working mother representing the “anti-Trump” in the Trumpian age.

Reporters with extraordinary access like Dowd should use that privilege to ask real questions to inform.

Everything else is a disservice.

So why would Ardern go along with this sort of lightweight coverage?

Gayford is a willing partner in this:

 In a sartorial triumph, Ardern wore a feathered Maori cloak to meet Queen Elizabeth at a black-tie dinner in London.

“It was highly coveted among the princesses at the dinner,” Ardern’s partner, Clarke Gayford, told me. “They made a beeline for her, and I’m surprised she managed to leave wearing it, to be completely honest.”

The boyish and charming Gayford, the 40-year-old host of a TV fishing show who smiles with delight no matter how many times he is asked “Is Jacinda your greatest catch?” would be the stay-at-home dad who would show the way for modern men.

She calls Gayford Huckleberry Finn, because he often wears shorts, even for interviews, and wanders around with a fishing pole.

On another day, when I came to interview Gayford, Ardern’s mother, Laurell, is there, helping with the baby.

President Trump will be presiding over the United Nations Security Council when the General Assembly meets in New York later this month. The prime minister will be trying to combine mothering and traveling again, this time hopefully with less ludicrous commentary. She will be juggling more than 40 events in seven days, with Neve and Gayford as part of the entourage.

Gayford also appears to be embracing the celebrity style coverage.

She (Dowd) gets what? She gets how Ardern and Gayford want to be seen, as a modern celebrity couple and parents who manage to fit in a bit of running the country when not being interviewed by sycophant reporters?

Like a significant number of Americans will support Trump no matter how crazy he seems, Ardern is sure to keep a solid level of support in New Zealand based on her celebrity (Woman’s Weekly) style coverage.

But if she continues to look subservient to Winston Peters, and fails to deliver on her promises to deal to child poverty and other ‘revolutions’ that are little more than empty rhetoric so far, and if she fails to live up to her claims of being open and transparent (she has been severely challenged on that lately), she may find that her party’s popularity doesn’t hold up as well as her celebrity status.

Ardern may find it difficult to move from celebrity saccharine to serious leadership. She may end up being hoist by her own celebrity PR petard.

Claim that Trump tried to fire Mueller

The New York Times claims Trump Ordered Mueller Fired, but Backed Off When White House Counsel Threatened to Quit

President Trump ordered the firing last June of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, according to four people told of the matter, but ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive.

The West Wing confrontation marks the first time Mr. Trump is known to have tried to fire the special counsel.

After receiving the president’s order to fire Mr. Mueller, the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, refused to ask the Justice Department to dismiss the special counsel, saying he would quit instead, the people said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation.

One could ask why this leak has come out, purportedly from four different sources.

Mr. McGahn disagreed with the president’s case and told senior White House officials that firing Mr. Mueller would have a catastrophic effect on Mr. Trump’s presidency. Mr. McGahn also told White House officials that Mr. Trump would not follow through on the dismissal on his own. The president then backed off.

A typical fake news’ response from Trump:

“Fake news, folks,” Mr. Trump said. “Fake news. A typical New York Times fake story.”

But also, from Fox News: Trump was talked out of firing Mueller last June, source says

President Trump told top officials this past June that he wanted to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, but was talked out of doing so by White House counsel Don McGahn and other aides, a source close to the White House told Fox News late Thursday.

The source could neither confirm nor deny a New York Times report that Trump ordered Mueller’s dismissal, but backed down when McGahn threatened to resign instead.

However, the source added that then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steven Bannon believed last summer that Trump would fire Mueller and were very worried about the political fallout.

“They said, ‘This is going to blow up,'” the source recounted to Fox.

White House lawyer Ty Cobb declined to comment on either the source’s account or the New York Times report “out of respect for the Office of the Special Counsel and its process.”

Another day, another Trump controversy.