Nikki Haley resigns as US ambassador to UN

In what appears to be a shock announcement Nikki Haley has resigned as US ambassador to the UN. She has been seen as very competent at the UN, standing out amongst Trump appointments. She has also been suggest as a good future political candidate, including for the presidency, but she has emphatically said she won’t be standing in the 2020 election. (Is that because Trump has told her he wants to stand again?)

Gezza has been doing some middle of the night coverage.


Aljaz TV reporting:

US PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS ACCEPTED RESIGNATION OF UN AMBASSADOR NIKKI HALEY.

TRUMP SAYS SHE WILL LEAVE HER POST AT THE END OF THE YEAR.

New York Times: Nikki Haley Resigned as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

A lot of head-scratching about why she has resigned at this time, just before the mid-term elections. Reasons unclear. Trump’s apparently told her he hopes she returns to the administration & can have pretty much any job she likes. Doesn’t seem to be a disagreement with Trump ?

Showing Nikki speaking to press, sitting with Trump, in those yellow chairs now.

Doesn’t have any set plans. Reviewed all the US has achieved,including getting NATO pay more various other things Trump has pursued like Iran, making the US respected again – if not liked by everybody at least respected & is satisfied. Going out on a high.

She told the president earlier in the year maybe two years would be long enuf. Not leaving until the end of the year, plenty of time to hand over to next UN Ambassador. Thanks Mr President, it’s been an honour. No she’s not running for 2020. She’s campaigning for 2020 supporting the president.

Haley’s & Trump’s press conference.

(Nikki: Jared is a genius & Ivanka is a great friend they do a lot behind the scenes wishes more people knew about. 🙄 ? )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le6eR5cSPsk

Interesting comments from Aljaz UN political editor. Word around the UN is that she is politically ambitious, very politically astute, gone along with Trump because his pro-Israel and other political positions match hers. Very well placed to run in the future as a Republican candidate for first woman President, should she choose to do so and should Trump not be in the running.


That last comment may be the key – ” should Trump not be in the running”. It could be a long political game by Haley.

Fox News:Haley abruptly steps down as UN ambassador in surprise decision, vows she won’t run in 2020

Haley called her time at the U.N. a “blessing,” but offered no reason for leaving other than a belief that government officials must know “when it’s time to step aside.”

Nikki Haley abruptly announced her resignation Tuesday as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, catching staff and lawmakers by surprise and leaving Washington guessing about the next move for one of the administration’s most prominent figures.
Speaking in the Oval Office alongside President Trump, who accepted the resignation, Haley said she would serve through the end of 2018. She preemptively sought to mute speculation she might run against her old boss, stressing that she will support Trump and will not campaign for the White House in 2020.
Haley called her time at the U.N. a “blessing,” but offered no reason for leaving other than a belief that government officials must know “when it’s time to step aside.”

Trump told reporters that Haley did “an incredible job” and is a “fantastic person.” He said she had told him six months ago that she wanted to take a break “maybe at the end of the year.”

Haley called her time at Turtle Bay the “honor of a lifetime” and said there was “nothing set on where I am going to go.” She also praised the work of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, particularly Kushner’s role in re-negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). She called Kushner a “hidden genius.”

“Now the U.S. is respected. Countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do,” she said, citing a number of achievements of the Trump administration.

“The U.S. is strong again, it’s strong in a way that should make all Americans very proud,” she told reporters.

On why it’s time to leave, Haley said she’s a believer in term limits and believes it’s good to rotate new government officials in from time to time.

There may be a hidden reason, but sometimes people in high profile, demanding jobs just want to have a break from it.

Also from Fox:

Reuters: Trump’s U.N. envoy Haley quits, denies 2020 ambitions

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, is resigning “to take a little time off,” President Trump said, as she became the latest in a long line of high-profile departures from the administration.

Haley, 46, is the latest in a long line of high-profile departures from the administration, such as former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was fired in March, and Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, who left in August 2017.

So interest will now turn to who Trump replaces her with at the UN. Was she signalling a role for Jared Kushner?

 

Stardust in New York but Ardern’s New Zealand garden needs urgent attention

There has been a huge contrast between Jacinda Ardern wowing the world with her week in New York, and they stuttering struggles of her government back in New Zealand.

On New York

NZ Herald editorial: Stardust and substance – PM Jacinda Ardern at the United Nations in New York

Although embattled Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been facing flak on various fronts at home this week, there can be little doubt she has delivered both “stardust” and substance in New York.

She has certainly been in demand on the sidelines, undertaking interviews with media and talk show heavyweights CNN and The Late Show, meeting UN goodwill ambassador and actress Anne Hathaway, and generating media interest the world over with pics of her baby Neve in tow in those hallowed halls.

The images of a smiling, capable, young, progressive female leader and young mum are priceless PR. Some of the engagements may have seemed trivial, but Ardern has ensured mention of motherhood and even hobbits have presented an opportunity to highlight New Zealand as a tourist destination and a progressive, supportive, inclusive society.

She has met other heads of state, taken part in a range of substantive meetings, discussions and panels on issues such as climate change, trade and the sustainable development goals. She has talked about refugees, steel tariffs, foreign investment, foreign aid, gender equality, child poverty, compassion and collaboration.

She has been nothing but diplomatic about US President Donald Trump in the face of difficult meetings on trade and many testing questions – not to mention outright contempt from the General Assembly floor in what must be one of the most extraordinary scenes in that chamber ever witnessed.

Ardern has effectively and memorably presented New Zealand’s interests and values to world leaders and a global audience. Job done.

And generally, done very well. Good on her for that.

Duncan Garner: Jacinda Ardern was masterful in trumping the Don

The prime minister returns from New York this weekend as the big apple in the eyes of her many international admirers.

Her international stocks are high, she’s played her limited cards superbly, and she made dancing through the foreign affairs minefield look effortless.

In reality, it’s not as easy as she made it look, especially with America (well, Trump) all passive-aggressive, and isolationist. In short, Ardern smashed it out of the park.

But she also painted a rosier picture than reality back in New Zealand.

And guess what? The PM got away with not telling the world how we have failed spectacularly to curb our carbon emissions and how they continue to grow at unsustainable levels.

We also don’t punish our big polluters, we don’t punish pollution from transport, we don’t have incentives to drive electric cars, and we can’t swim in 60 per cent of our rivers.

Imagine if Ardern had told the truth about us overseas.

She wouldn’t have been so lauded and applauded if she had.

She didn’t go to Woodstock while she was in the US, but some lyrics come to mind.

We are stardust
We are golden
But we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden

Ardern now has to get herself back to the New Zealand garden, where the pests and weeds look like getting out of control.

John Armstrong:  Jacinda Ardern must stop the rot in ‘drunken sailor’ Government

Stop the rot. And stop it quickly. That has to be Jacinda Ardern’s absolute priority on her return from overseas.

The incumbent three-party governing arrangement was displaying all the coherence and co-ordination of the proverbial drunken sailor long before the Prime Minister left for the relative sanctuary of a Winston Peters-free New York.

The unwieldy contraption has since appeared to be even more sloshed in her absence as its components stumble from one mini-crisis to the next minor scandal with such regularity that you can almost set your watch by it.

This three-headed hydra needs to go on the wagon — and pretty darned soon.

Viewed in isolation, each blunder or botch-up has not amounted to very much in the grand scheme of things.

Viewed in total, however, the various mishaps and miscues add up to a fair-sized catalogue of catastrophe.

Voters will soon forget the details of who was involved in each episode of woe and what happened and when.

What will stick in their minds from this epidemic of embarrassment will be the hard-to-erase impression that Ardern’s regime is riddled with incompetence.

It will leave the public wondering whether Ardern has lost control. That is where the damage is really being done.

Ardern’s has fiddled with aplomb on the world stage, while her government shows increasing signs that it risks crashing and burning.

In her Speech from the Throne last November Ardern said something that highlights the gulf between some of her rhetoric and reality: “This government will foster a more open and democratic society. It will strengthen transparency around official information”

NZ Herald editorial: Govt’s greater transparency vow nowhere to be seen

The Government’s domestic woes continue this week even as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern continues to bask in the global limelight in New York.

First there was the fallout from Derek Handley’s released communications in the chief technology officer saga, then there were allegations in Parliament which reminded the public about the investigations regarding recently appointed Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha.

Now, the Department of Internal Affairs is set to investigate how the draft report of the investigation into the Meka Whaitiri incident was leaked to the Herald.

The draft report finds it was agreed Whaitiri did have words with her press secretary for not alerting her to a photo opportunity with the PM during a function in Gisborne. It showed the staff member was allegedly left with bruising to her arm.

Although Whaitiri denies touching the staffer, David Patten, the lawyer who conducted the inquiry, found on the balance of probabilities the staff member’s version that she was grabbed was the more likely explanation of what happened.

That is damning — and clearly what led to Ardern’s sacking of Whaitiri as a minister last Thursday, a day after seeing the draft report.

So why the ongoing secrecy?

At the very least it raises questions about anger management and suitability for public office. And, for those who believe the alleged incident is minor, teachers now have strict new rules that prohibit manhandling pupils.

The public had the right to know exactly why Whaitiri was stripped of one of her roles. It would still be helpful to know why she was deemed okay to remain the Māori caucus co-chair, or whether there was any thought of expulsion from the party.

This Government promised to usher in a new level of transparency and openness. But there has been little evidence it is any more transparent than any other administration it seeks to better.

So returning from the euphoria of a very successful trip to New York Ardern has a lot to do in her real job, as Prime Minister in a government that looks lacking in leadership beyond Winston Peters’ wagging of the Labour dog, with the Green flea clinging on.

Ardern only had a temporary gig at the United Nations, for now at least.  She will return to a far more difficult job as Prime Minister of New Zealand.

The stardust of New York won’t keep masking the garden back home looking increasingly unkempt.

Jacinda Ardern at UN General Assembly

This does sound like a concerted Ardern versus Trump approach to politics.

Full text: PM’s speech to the United Nations

Trump to UN: “We reject the ideology of globalism and accept the ideology of patriotism”

Donald Trump has just finished his speech to the United Nations General Assembly.

Full text of Trump’s speech here.

Today, I stand before the United Nations General Assembly to share the extraordinary progress we’ve made.

In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.
America’s — so true. (Laughter.) Didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s okay. (Laughter and applause.)

The audience was quite different to his usual self-lauding rallies where his grandiose claims are accepted without question or sniggering.

America’s economy is booming like never before. Since my election, we’ve added $10 trillion in wealth. The stock market is at an all-time high in history, and jobless claims are at a 50-year low.

We have passed the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history. We’ve started the construction of a major border wall, and we have greatly strengthened border security.

We have secured record funding for our military — $700 billion this year, and $716 billion next year. Our military will soon be more powerful than it has ever been before.

In other words, the United States is stronger, safer, and a richer country than it was when I assumed office less than two years ago.

We are standing up for America and for the American people. And we are also standing up for the world.

That’s a bit contradictory.

This is great news for our citizens and for peace-loving people everywhere.

Each of us here today is the emissary of a distinct culture, a rich history, and a people bound together by ties of memory, tradition, and the values that make our homelands like nowhere else on Earth.

That is why America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination.

His attempts at coercion and his threats receive more attention than cooperation.

With support from many countries here today, we have engaged with North Korea to replace the specter of conflict with a bold and new push for peace.

I would like to thank Chairman Kim for his courage and for the steps he has taken, though much work remains to be done. The sanctions will stay in place until denuclearization occurs.

There is a lot still to be done in US-North Korean relations.

In the Middle East, our new approach is also yielding great strides and very historic change.

That’s highly debatable.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have pledged billions of dollars to aid the people of Syria and Yemen. And they are pursuing multiple avenues to ending Yemen’s horrible, horrific civil war.

The ongoing tragedy in Syria is heartbreaking. Our shared goals must be the de-escalation of military conflict, along with a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people. In this vein, we urge the United Nations-led peace process be reinvigorated. But, rest assured, the United States will respond if chemical weapons are deployed by the Assad regime.

Two brutal ongoing civil wars does not look like progress, and that’s just the current violence besetting the Middle East.

Every solution to the humanitarian crisis in Syria must also include a strategy to address the brutal regime that has fueled and financed it: the corrupt dictatorship in Iran.

Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death, and destruction. They do not respect their neighbors or borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond.

No progress there.

This year, we also took another significant step forward in the Middle East. In recognition of every sovereign state to determine its own capital, I moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

That may have been progress applauded by the Israeli government, but it was not widely supported and did nothing to resolve the Palestinian problems.

The United States is committed to a future of peace and stability in the region, including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That aim is advanced, not harmed, by acknowledging the obvious facts.

Yeah, right.

America’s policy of principled realism means we will not be held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies, and so-called experts who have been proven wrong over the years, time and time again. This is true not only in matters of peace, but in matters of prosperity.

We believe that trade must be fair and reciprocal. The United States will not be taken advantage of any longer.

Instead under trump they are trying to use their size and power to force trade agreements favourable to the US.

For decades, the United States opened its economy — the largest, by far, on Earth — with few conditions. We allowed foreign goods from all over the world to flow freely across our borders.

Yet, other countries did not grant us fair and reciprocal access to their markets in return.

“Few conditions” and the one-sideness of this is debatable.

For this reason, we are systematically renegotiating broken and bad trade deals.

Trade deals done in good faith between the US and other countries.

Last month, we announced a groundbreaking U.S.-Mexico trade agreement. And just yesterday, I stood with President Moon to announce the successful completion of the brand new U.S.-Korea trade deal. And this is just the beginning.

Many nations in this hall will agree that the world trading system is in dire need of change. For example, countries were admitted to the World Trade Organization that violate every single principle on which the organization is based. While the United States and many other nations play by the rules, these countries use government-run industrial planning and state-owned enterprises to rig the system in their favor. They engage in relentless product dumping, forced technology transfer, and the theft of intellectual property.

But those days are over. We will no longer tolerate such abuse. We will not allow our workers to be victimized, our companies to be cheated, and our wealth to be plundered and transferred. America will never apologize for protecting its citizens.

The United States has just announced tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese-made goods for a total, so far, of $250 billion. I have great respect and affection for my friend, President Xi, but I have made clear our trade imbalance is just not acceptable. China’s market distortions and the way they deal cannot be tolerated.

Trump has openly precipitated (and bragged about winning) a trade war that may have serious repercussions to trade around the world, including New Zealand. Slapping on massive tariffs is not a great way of “systematically renegotiating” trade deals.

As my administration has demonstrated, America will always act in our national interest.

That’s pretty much the aim of any country.

I spoke before this body last year and warned that the U.N. Human Rights Council had become a grave embarrassment to this institution, shielding egregious human rights abusers while bashing America and its many friends.

So the United States took the only responsible course: We withdrew from the Human Rights Council, and we will not return until real reform is enacted.

For similar reasons, the United States will provide no support in recognition to the International Criminal Court. As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority. The ICC claims near-universal jurisdiction over the citizens of every country, violating all principles of justice, fairness, and due process. We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy.

Trump wants no international accountability on human rights and international justice.

America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism.

Around the world, responsible nations must defend against threats to sovereignty not just from global governance, but also from other, new forms of coercion and domination.

Here in the Western Hemisphere, we are committed to maintaining our independence from the encroachment of expansionist foreign powers.

It has been the formal policy of our country since President Monroe that we reject the interference of foreign nations in this hemisphere and in our own affairs.

Highly ironic given the history of US interference in other countries.

The United States is also working with partners in Latin America to confront threats to sovereignty from uncontrolled migration. Tolerance for human struggling and human smuggling and trafficking is not humane.

Illegal immigration funds criminal networks, ruthless gangs, and the flow of deadly drugs. Illegal immigration exploits vulnerable populations, hurts hardworking citizens, and has produced a vicious cycle of crime, violence, and poverty. Only by upholding national borders, destroying criminal gangs, can we break this cycle and establish a real foundation for prosperity.

But it’s not this simple. Many of those trying to immigrate into the US are trying to escape human struggling and suffering. The US has a right to stop illegal immigrants, but that doesn’t address a lot of suffering.

Ultimately, the only long-term solution to the migration crisis is to help people build more hopeful futures in their home countries. Make their countries great again.

A good ideal, but Trump’s actions don’t fit with helping with this.

Virtually everywhere socialism or communism has been tried, it has produced suffering, corruption, and decay. Socialism’s thirst for power leads to expansion, incursion, and oppression. All nations of the world should resist socialism and the misery that it brings to everyone.

That doesn’t fit with “I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions.”

We are grateful for all the work the United Nations does around the world to help people build better lives for themselves and their families.

The United States is the world’s largest giver in the world, by far, of foreign aid.

Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends. And we expect other countries to pay their fair share for the cost of their defense.

That won’t do anything towards making broken countries ‘great again’.  It exacerbates ‘them versus us’.

The United States is committed to making the United Nations more effective and accountable. I have said many times that the United Nations has unlimited potential. As part of our reform effort, I have told our negotiators that the United States will not pay more than 25 percent of the U.N. peacekeeping budget. This will encourage other countries to step up, get involved, and also share in this very large burden.

Perhaps paying and doing less will leave gaps for other countries to step up into, but I’m not sure that will lead to outcomes that the US will want to see.

Only when each of us does our part and contributes our share can we realize the U.N.’s highest aspirations. We must pursue peace without fear, hope without despair, and security without apology.

One of the biggest problems with the Security Council is the power of veto by the US and six other countries. No sign of addressing that.

The whole world is richer, humanity is better, because of this beautiful constellation of nations, each very special, each very unique, and each shining brightly in its part of the world.

In each one, we see awesome promise of a people bound together by a shared past and working toward a common future.

As for Americans, we know what kind of future we want for ourselves. We know what kind of a nation America must always be.

In America, we believe in the majesty of freedom and the dignity of the individual. We believe in self-government and the rule of law. And we prize the culture that sustains our liberty -– a culture built on strong families, deep faith, and fierce independence. We celebrate our heroes, we treasure our traditions, and above all, we love our country.

Inside everyone in this great chamber today, and everyone listening all around the globe, there is the heart of a patriot that feels the same powerful love for your nation, the same intense loyalty to your homeland.

The passion that burns in the hearts of patriots and the souls of nations has inspired reform and revolution, sacrifice and selflessness, scientific breakthroughs, and magnificent works of art.

Our task is not to erase it, but to embrace it. To build with it. To draw on its ancient wisdom. And to find within it the will to make our nations greater, our regions safer, and the world better.

This sounds very written. It doesn’t sound at all like Trump at his rallies.

To unleash this incredible potential in our people, we must defend the foundations that make it all possible. Sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle where freedom has ever survived, democracy has ever endured, or peace has ever prospered. And so we must protect our sovereignty and our cherished independence above all.

When we do, we will find new avenues for cooperation unfolding before us. We will find new passion for peacemaking rising within us. We will find new purpose, new resolve, and new spirit flourishing all around us, and making this a more beautiful world in which to live.

So together, let us choose a future of patriotism, prosperity, and pride. Let us choose peace and freedom over domination and defeat. And let us come here to this place to stand for our people and their nations, forever strong, forever sovereign, forever just, and forever thankful for the grace and the goodness and the glory of God.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the nations of the world.

A pity about the God references.

There is a lot of carefully thought through and written rhetoric in this speech. There is nothing particularly new or divisive or derisive. It’s hardly ground changing or world changing.

There is a clash between two things – patriotism and self interests for individual nations (particularly the US), and the need for international cooperation. A functional peaceful world requires a balance of both. I’m not sure that Trump himself understands balance.

 

 

 

129 countries support Trump’s war on drugs, but not New Zealand

Reuters: Some 129 countries sign up to Trump’s pledge at U.N. to fight drugs

Some 129 countries at the United Nations signed on to a U.S.-drafted pledge to fight the global drug problem on Monday that U.S. President Donald Trump warned presented a public health and national security threat.

In order to attend the brief U.N. event with Trump, countries had to sign the one-page “call to action on the world drug problem.” Trump held a similar event at the annual gathering of world leaders in New York last year, focused on U.N. reform.

Countries signing the nonbinding U.S. statement pledged to develop national action plans to reduce demand for illicit drugs through education, expand treatment efforts, strengthen international cooperation on justice, law enforcement and health, and cut off the supply by stopping production.

“If we take these steps together, we can save the lives of countless people in all corners of the world,” Trump said in brief remarks.

“Illicit drugs are linked to organized crime, illegal financial flows, corruption and terrorism. It’s vital for public health and national security that we fight drug addiction and stop all forms of trafficking and smuggling that provide the financial lifeblood for vicious transnational cartels,” he said.

But New Zealand gets a mention in opposition:

Among countries that did not sign the U.S. drugs pledge was New Zealand. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern noted that the United States itself was particularly focused on tackling opioids.

“We have a number of challenges that are quite specific to New Zealand and the particular drugs that are present, but also on taking a health approach. We want to do what works and so we’re using a strong evidence base to do that,” Ardern told reporters on Sunday.

Addiction to opioids – mainly prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl – is a growing U.S. problem, especially in rural areas. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in more than 49,000 deaths in the country last year.

The biggest drug problems here are synthetic concoction alternatives to cannabis and P (methamphetamine).

UN support for trump (CBS News) – Trump to U.N.: “We commit to fighting the drug epidemic together”

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres applauded Mr. Trump for “focusing a global spotlight on the world drug problem,” adding, “we have never needed it more.”

Global production of opioids and cocaine has reached an all-time high, with 31 million people around the world requiring treatment for drug use and 450,000 people dying every year from overdoses or drug-related health issues, Guterres told the conference. He called the U.S. opioid crisis “heartbreaking.”

Sharing intelligence among member states, he said, will help the crackdown, and Guterres urged U.N. members to work together to deny safe haven to drug traffickers, pursue kingpins and dismantle their networks.

But Trump’s talk doesn’t match his actions:

Despite campaign promises and a high-level focus on international drug trafficking, Mr. Trump has slashed the U.S. counter-narcotics budget by cutting back on personnel at the State Department and other agencies who fight the international drug trade.

“One of the clearest constraints imposed by these cuts is on our ability to counter global threats, including narcotics,” Brett Bruen, a former White House official who now teaches at Georgetown University, told CBS News.

RNZ yesterday quoted criticism from Simon Bridges in Jacinda Ardern rejects Trump’s call for war on drugs

National leader Simon Bridges said a government led by him would sign up to the US document.

He said Ms Ardern was distancing New Zealand from more than 120 countries – including Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada – who had all signalled their intention to take part.

“The Prime Minister’s excuse for not signing up, that the government is taking ‘a health approach’ isn’t good enough. The strategy calls for countries to do more to address addiction and provide more treatment as well as working more closely together to clamp down on manufacturing and supply.

“Taken together, that’s how we will deal with the drug problem.

“But by distancing New Zealand from that work the Prime Minister risks making New Zealand an easy target and sending the message that her government is soft on crime and drug dealers.”

That’s a repackaged attack Bridges and Judith Collins have been repeating.

Mr Bridges said National would support people with drug and alcohol problems, but would also hold those who peddle drugs to account.

Which is what happens under the current Government. The methods and balance are flawed, much like under the previous government that Bridges was a minister in.

Ardern needs to step up and her Labour-led needs to do better and more in addressing insidious drug abuse problems and casualties (ruined lives and deaths). Bridges should be working positively with the Government on this, not mudslinging on the sidelines.

Refugee quota to lift just before next election

Jacinda Ardern, with Winston Peters at her side, has announced that the refugee quota will be increased from 1000 to 1500 in July 2020, just before the next election. This year’s budget has already allowed for enlarging refugee facilities.

After Peters’ recent grandstanding on refugees the timing of the increase is curious.

The official announcement:


New Zealand will lift the refugee quota from 1000 to 1500 within this political term, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

“I’m proud that the Coalition Government has today agreed to make such a significant and historic increase to the annual quota of refugees,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“This is the right thing to do. It fulfils New Zealand’s obligation to do our bit and provide a small number of people, displaced by war and disaster each year, a place to call home.

“The quota increase will take place from July 2020. In the meantime, we will work to increase the number and spread of refugee resettlement and support services.  We need to make sure we’re prepared for this change in policy.”

“This will change lives and not just for refugee families. Refugees become great citizens, who bring valuable skills and experience to New Zealand and help make our country a more diverse and vibrant place.”

For 30 years New Zealand’s refugee quota sat at 750 people per year, leading to calls to double the quota. In 2016 the previous government announced an increase to the quota to 1000, which took effect in 2018. All three parties in the government had policies to increase the number of refugees New Zealand accepts.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said the quota increase was made possible through a significant boost in funding for refugee services in Budget 2018.

This included money to build and operate two new accommodation blocks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre to extend the lifespan of the complex, meet the demands of the current intake of 1000 and help enable an increase in the refugee intake.

“An additional six settlement locations will also be needed around New Zealand on top of the recent re-establishment of Christchurch as a settlement location.

“The number of intakes of refugees and the size of each intake will also be changed from July 2020 while the current six-week reception programme at Mangere will be shortened to five weeks.

“Additional resources will also be provided to ensure that quota refugees are able to live in safe, secure, healthy and affordable homes which best suit their assessed needs.

“The Government will fund the expansion of public housing supply for around 150 extra refugee families at an estimated total cost of $32.5 million over three years,” Iain Lees-Galloway said.

Refugee details

  • The Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment forecasts annual net migration to New Zealand to decline by 22 per cent to 51,000 in the June 2020 year when the increase in the refugee quota will take effect.
  • Budget 2018 provided $6.2 million of new operating funding over the next four years, and $7.7 million of new capital to build and operate two new accommodation blocks at the Centre.
  • There are now eight settlement locations in New Zealand where quota refugees are settled after they have completed the reception programme at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre: Auckland region, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington region, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill.

This increase was Labour policy for last year’s election, and they indicated they wanted to implement it but Peters appeared to put a spoke in the wheel last month.

Peters now says “this is about people, not about politics”.

Stuff: Refugee quota lifting to 1500 by 2020

The announcement ends several weeks of speculation that NZ First would shoot down any attempt by the Government to raise the quota, and fulfils a Labour campaign promise to raise the quota within their first term of Government.

Labour campaigned on doubling the quota from 750 to 1500 in their first term of Government, and seemed confident that this policy would make it through Cabinet as recently as August.

But early this month Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters cast doubt on this, saying he wanted the Government to help Kiwis in strife before raising the quota.

“We never made a commitment to double the refugee quota,” Peters said when questioned by reporters.

When it was suggested Labour had, Peters said: “Labour’s not the government.”

“We’ve got 50,000 people who are homeless back home, and I can show you parts of the Hokianga and elsewhere, parts of Northland, where people are living in degradation.

Peters, who appeared alongside Ardern at the announcement on Wednesday, said he was now sure the Government was already addressing the issues in New Zealand, pointing specifically to Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s “explosion in house-building.”

There hasn’t been a sudden change in how housing issues are being addressed, so this looks like a sudden change in Peters’ position of refugees.

The decision was made in a cabinet subcommittee on Wednesday.

Ardern said there had been no “quid pro quo” to get NZ First to agree to the deal, while Peters rejected the idea that his party had ever horse traded on any policy in its history.

This looks like a win for Labour and a backdown from Peters, unless he was just playing politics when he upstaged Ardern at Nauru.

The timing of this announcement looks to be convenient for Ardern’s visit to the United Nations in New York soon.

UN Human Rights Council votes for investigation into Israel’s killing of Palestinians

The UN Human Rights Council has voted strongly in favour of an investigation into Israel’s killing of Palestinians during protests on the Gaza border this week.

  • For – 29 votes
  • Against – 2 votes (USA and Australia)
  • Abstained – 14

A television screen at the UN Human Rights Council shows how countries voted on a resolution approving an investigation into Israel's handling of deadly clashes on the Gaza border, on May 18, 2018. (Foreign Ministry)

New Zealand must not be on the Human Rights Council.

The Times of Israel: UN Human Rights Council votes to investigate Israel for Gaza protest deaths

The UN Human Rights Council on Friday voted to establish an investigation into Israel’s killing of Palestinians during protests along the Gaza border, in a move Israel rejected as being an attempt to undermine Israel’s right to self-defense.

The council voted 29 in favor and two against with 14 countries abstaining. Australia and the US were the two countries to oppose the decision. The council also condemned “the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians.”

The “independent, international commission of inquiry” mandated by the council will be asked to produce a final report next March.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the vote and the council as “irrelevant.”

It’s not irrelevant if there is good cause to investigate indiscriminate violence and killing – this applies to both the Palestinians and the Israelis. The investigation should look at whether either or both sides acted illegally. If Human Rights may have been breached then it is appropriate to investigate.

Next March is a long to wait for a result. A lot is likely to have happened in Gaza and Israel by then.

 

US to cut UN funding

The timing of an announcement that the US has negotiated to cut United Nations funding may be cynical and playing to a domestic audience given it closely follows threats by President Donald Trump that failed to avoid scant US support in a UN vote over Jerusalem, but there could be some justification for trying to reduce the bloat.

AP Press: US says it negotiated $285M cut in United Nations budget

The U.S. government says it has negotiated a significant cut in the United Nations budget.

The U.S. Mission to the United Nations said on Sunday that the U.N.’s 2018-2019 budget would be slashed by over $285 million. The mission said reductions would also be made to the U.N.’s management and support functions.

U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said that the “inefficiency and overspending” of the organization is well-known, and she would not let “the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of.”

She also said that while the mission was pleased with the results of budget negotiations, it would continue to “look at ways to increase the U.N.’s efficiency? while protecting our interests.”

There could be a fine line between reducing inefficiency and overspending, and trying to financially coerce favourable outcomes (or avoid unfavourable outcomes).

The timing of the announcement seems cynical, and suspiciously like an attempt to publicly reprimand.

There may be an aspect of re-prioritising US spending as well, on RCP immediately after the above item is this: Trump administration set to unveil $1 trillion infrastructure proposal in 2018

During the 2016 campaign, Trump first promised to deliver a $1 trillion infrastructure plan to improve the condition of U.S. roads, bridges, airports, and other public works.

Although the administration is working to address the nation’s infrastructure, several major question marks hang over the plan, such as funding.

“The cost is going to be an issue, that’s going to be a large topic of debate,” a senior committee aide told the Washington Examiner.

Saving $285 million on UN spending won’t go far towards that. Neither will the tax cuts that have just been decided on.

NY Post: Nikki Haley negotiates $285M cut in ‘bloated’ UN budget

Haley added that the “historic reduction” in spending is a step in the right direction and that the US would make many other moves toward a more efficient and accountable UN.

“In addition to these significant cost savings, we reduced the UN’s bloated management and support functions, bolstered support for key US priorities throughout the world and instilled more discipline and accountability throughout the UN system,” the statement said.

The new deal for the 2018-2019 fiscal year is $285 million less than the world body’s staggering $5.4 billion budget for fiscal year 2016-2017.

A ‘more accountable UN’ has an ominous ring to it. If the US genuinely wants to make the UN more accountable then it should campaign to remove the veto power of five nations on the Security Council.

“The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out in this assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation,” Haley told member nations ahead of their vote.

That was contrary to international law.

“We will remember it when, once again, we are called up to make the world’s largest contribution to the UN, and we will remember it when many countries come calling on us to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”

Announcing a budget cut just after making a statement like that could be seen as cynical.

 

Trump threatens over UN Jerusalem move, NZ to vote regardless

President Donald Trump has threatened to cut funding to countries that vote against the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

New Zealand is likely to vote against Trump regardless.

AP: Trump threat to cut aid raises stakes in UN Jerusalem vote

President Donald Trump’s threat to cut off U.S. funding to countries that oppose his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has raised the stakes in Thursday’s U.N. vote and sparked criticism at his tactics, which one Muslim group called bullying or blackmail.

Trump went a step further than U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley who hinted in a tweet and a letter to most of the 193 U.N. member states on Tuesday that the U.S. would retaliate against countries that vote in favor of a General Assembly resolution calling on the president to rescind his decision.

Haley said the president asked her to report back on countries “who voted against us” — and she stressed that the United States “will be taking names.”

At the start of a Cabinet meeting in Washington on Wednesday, with Haley sitting nearby, Trump told reporters that Americans are tired of being taken advantage of and praised the U.S. ambassador for sending the “right message” before the vote.

Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, tweeted after Trump’s comments: “Our government should not use its leadership at the UN to bully/blackmail other nations that stand for religious liberty and justice in Jerusalem. Justice is a core value of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.”

The Palestinians and their Arab and Islamic supporters sought the General Assembly vote after the United States on Monday vetoed a resolution supported by the 14 other U.N. Security Council members that would have required Trump to rescind his declaration on Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and not move the U.S. Embassy there.

NZ Herald:  NZ likely to vote against Trump and the US in UN vote on Jerusalem tomorrow

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has signalled that New Zealand will criticise US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in a United Nations vote tomorrow.

But she stopped short of calling him a bully, as Trump threatened to cut US aid money to countries that voted against him.

Ardern was critical when Trump first recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital earlier this month, saying it “will make things difficult” for peace.

Today she said the logistics around tomorrow’s vote were still being ​worked through, but New Zealand’s position had not changed.

“Some of the things we saw by international actors like the US recently, those are decision that should only be made in the context of a [UN] resolution around a two-state solution. It took us backwards, not forwards.”

Asked about possible aid sanctions, she said: “I would push back strongly and say New Zealand has and will always have an independent foreign policy. We base our decisions on principle, not on being bullied.”

She was not concerned by his threats to cut off aid.

“We’ve always made decisions that represent our beliefs and our position, and we’ll continue to do that. We’ve done it on things like nuclear issues before and we’ll continue to do so.”

Asked if she thought Trump was a bully, she said: “People make their own interpretations.”

UPDATE: New Zealand voted in favour.

“…no choice but to totally destroy North Korea”

In his first speech to the United Nations President Donald Trump blasted ‘rogue regimes’ including North Korea, Iran and Syria and threatened to ‘totally destroy North Korea’.

He has promoted his threat on Twitter:

“The scourge our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the United Nations is based. They respect neither their own citizens, nor the sovereign rights of their countries. If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.”

North Korea’s “reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life.”

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

“Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

How ironic is that?

On the Middle East:

Iran is “another reckless regime, one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.”

“The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it, believe me.”

He even slams the United States.

The president called for the de-escalation of the Syrian conflict and a “political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people.”

His speech does not seem to have de-escalation as it’s primary function.

“We will stop radical Islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation and indeed to tear up the entire world. We must deny the terrorists safe haven, transit funding and any form of support for the vile and sinister ideology.”

Idealistic rhetoric that will please some.

“Just as the founders as this body intended, we must work together and confront together those who threaten us with chaos, turmoil and terror.”

“As president of the United States, I will always put America first. Just like you, as the leaders of your countries, will always and should always, put your countries first.”

“The United States will forever be a great friend to the world and especially to its allies. But we can no longer be taken advantage of or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return.”

There’s a number of contradictions in his speech.

Totally destroying a country of 25 million people sounds like a bit of a one-sided deal.

From Fox UN Speech: Trump Says ‘Rocket Man’ Kim Jong Un on ‘Suicide Mission,’ in Broadside at ‘Rogue Regimes’