Cyclone Gita warning – “highly impactful” likely in NZ

Metservice Severe Weather Outlook

Cyclone Gita is expected to approach New Zealand from the northwest early next week.There remains uncertainty with regards to the speed and track of Gita, but the passage of this system across New Zealand on Tuesday and Wednesday is likely to bring a period of highly impactful severe weather.

There is high confidence of severe gales and heavy rain spreading across central and northern New Zealand on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In addition, winds associated with Gita are likely to cause large waves to affect some coastal places, and the expected storm surge allow run-up of waves in some low-lying coastal places, particularly at high tide.

map showing severe weather outlook

NZ Herald – Cyclone Gita: MetService warns ‘it’s best to prepare’

MetService is urging people to prepare for Cyclone Gita as it makes its way to New Zealand.

Risk areas are yet to be identified- they will be earmarked closer to Gita’s arrival – but MetService says the tropical cyclone is likely to bring with it “highly impactful severe weather”.

WeatherWatch has advised people to postpone any non essential outdoors activities on Tuesday and Wednesday, especially hikers and trampers.

People are asked to check their emergency kits are up to date with enough food, water, batteries and cellphone chargers.

Gutters should be cleared in preparation and pets should be provided for too.

NIWA meteorologist Chris Brandolino said it would be a fast-moving ex-tropical cyclone.

“New Zealand looks like it will get an impact, but the question remains over whether it will be more of a central North Island event, or is it going to be more of an upper South Island kind of event.

“The more reliable models are pegging the Kāpiti Coast up to the Taranaki region, east to southern Hawke’s Bay and down to the Wairarapa but that doesn’t exclude other areas”.

Cyclocane: Gita Tracker

NZ Herald: Everything you need to know about Cyclone Gita including how it might affect NZ

 

Sweden warn’s about “security situation in neighborhood”

Sweden is bringing back conscription and is sending out leaflets urging citizens to prepare for “different kinds of attacks on society and Sweden”.  One concern is “Russia aggression”.

CNN: Sweden to publish leaflets warning citizens over potential war

Sweden is preparing to issue leaflets to 4.7 million households this spring amid growing fears it could be dragged into the perils of war.

The leaflets, which urge citizens to prepare for “crisis and catastrophes in peacetime, but also for different kinds of attacks on society and Sweden,” is the latest step in the country’s revamped defense strategy in response to perceived Russian aggression.The pamphlet is prompted partly by the “security situation in our neighborhood,” meaning the Baltic area, a Civil Contingencies Agency spokesperson told CNN on Wednesday.

The leaflets, which will be published later this year, aim to educate Swedes on how to prepare in case “their world gets turned upside down,” and ask municipal regions to ready previous Cold War bunkers.

According to a spokesperson for the Civil Contingencies Agency, the literature will also provide practical tips to ensure citizens have all the necessary food, water and blankets stocked at home.

The country suspended conscription in 2010 and instead adopted a recruitment system which relied on volunteers.
But it changed tack in March 2017, announcing conscription would return in 2018.

In May 2017 Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist told CNN: “The Russian regime has showed they are ready to use military powers to fulfill political goals.”

We often don’t appreciate how lucky we are here on the other side of the world.

Scientists’ warning to humanity over health of planet

More than 16,000 scientists from 184 countries have published a second warning to humanity advising

In 1992, 1,700 independent scientists signed the “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity.” The letter warned that “human beings and the natural world are on a collision course” and if environmental damage was not stopped, our future was at risk.

25 years on many scientists (and some politicians and others) believe that the world still faces major environmental challenges. So environmental scientist William Ripple and his colleagues created a new letter. Since it was published in the journal BioScience on Monday, hundreds more scientists have signed on.

The letter:


Twenty-five years ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists and more than 1700 independent scientists, including the majority of living Nobel laureates in the sciences, penned the 1992 “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity”. These concerned professionals called on humankind to curtail environmental destruction and cautioned that “a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided.”

In their manifesto, they showed that humans were on a collision course with the natural world. They expressed concern about current, impending, or potential damage on planet Earth involving ozone depletion, freshwater availability, marine life depletion, ocean dead zones, forest loss, biodiversity destruction, climate change, and continued human population growth.

They proclaimed that fundamental changes were urgently needed to avoid the consequences our present course would bring.

The authors of the 1992 declaration feared that humanity was pushing Earth’s ecosystems beyond their capacities to support the web of life. They described how we are fast approaching many of the limits of what the biosphere can tolerate without substantial and irreversible harm.

The scientists pleaded that we stabilize the human population, describing how our large numbers—swelled by another 2 billion people since 1992, a 35 percent increase—exert stresses on Earth that can overwhelm other efforts to realize a sustainable future.

They implored that we cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and phase out fossil fuels, reduce deforestation, and reverse the trend of collapsing biodiversity.

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of their call, we look back at their warning and evaluate the human response by exploring available time-series data. Since 1992, with the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse.

Especially troubling is the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change due to rising GHGs from burning fossil fuels (Hansen et al. 2013), deforestation (Keenan et al. 2015), and agricultural production— particularly from farming ruminants for meat consumption (Ripple et al. 2014).

Moreover, we have unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century.

Humanity is now being given a second notice, as illustrated by these alarming trends.

Trends over time for environmental issues identified in the 1992 scientists’ warning to humanity. The years before and after the 1992 scientists’ warning are shown as gray and black lines, respectively.

Panel (a) shows emissions of halogen source gases, which deplete stratospheric ozone, assuming a constant natural emission rate of 0.11 Mt CFC-11-equivalent per year.

In panel (c), marine catch has been going down since the mid-1990s, but at the same time, fishing effort has been going up (supplemental file S1).

The vertebrate abundance index in panel (f) has been adjusted for taxonomic and geographic bias but incorporates relatively little data from developing countries, where there are the fewest studies; between 1970 and 2012, vertebrates declined by 58 percent, with freshwater, marine, and terrestrial populations declining by 81, 36, and 35 percent, respectively (file S1).

Five-year means are shown in panel (h).

In panel (i), ruminant livestock consist of domestic cattle, sheep, goats, and buffaloes.

Note that y-axes do not start at zero, and it is important to inspect the data range when interpreting each graph. Percentage change, since 1992, for the variables in each panel are as follows:
(a) –68.1%; (b) –26.1%; (c) –6.4%; (d) +75.3%; (e) –2.8%; (f) –28.9%; (g) +62.1%; (h) +167.6%; and (i) humans:
+35.5%, ruminant livestock: +20.5%.

We are jeopardizing our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption and by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats (Crist et al. 2017).

By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperilled biosphere.

As most political leaders respond to pressure, scientists, media influencers, and lay citizens must insist that their governments take immediate action as a moral imperative to current and future generations of human and other life. With a groundswell of organized grassroots efforts, dogged opposition can be overcome and political leaders compelled to do the right thing. It is also time to re-examine and change our individual behaviors, including limiting our own reproduction (ideally to replacement level at most) and drastically diminishing our per capita consumption of fossil fuels, meat, and
other resources.

The rapid global decline in ozone depleting substances shows that we can make positive change when we act decisively. We have also made advancements in reducing extreme poverty and hunger (www.worldbank.org). Other notable progress (which does not yet show up in the global data sets in figure 1) include the rapid decline in fertility rates in many regions attributable to investments in girls’ and women’s education (www.un.org/esa/population), the promising decline in the rate of deforestation in some regions, and the rapid growth in the renewable-energy sector.

We have learned much since 1992, but the advancement of urgently needed changes in environmental policy, human behavior, and global inequities is still far from sufficient. Sustainability transitions come about in diverse ways, and all require civil-society pressure and evidence based advocacy, political leadership, and a solid understanding of policy instruments, markets, and other drivers.

Examples of diverse and effective steps humanity can take to transition to sustainability include the following (not in order of importance or
urgency):

(a) prioritizing the enactment of connected well-funded and well-managed reserves for a significant proportion of the world’s terrestrial, marine, freshwater, and aerial habitats;

(b) maintaining nature’s ecosystemservices by halting the conversion of forests, grasslands, and other native habitats;

(c) restoring native plant communities at large scales, particularly forest landscapes;

(d) rewilding regions with native species, especially apex predators, to restore ecological processes and dynamics;

(e) developing and adopting adequate policy instruments to remedy defaunation, the poaching crisis, and the exploitation and trade of threatened species;

(f) reducing food waste through education and better infrastructure;

(g) promoting dietary shifts towards mostly plant-based foods;

(h) further reducing fertility rates by ensuring that women and men have access to education and voluntary family-planning services, especially where such resources are still lacking;

(i) increasing outdoor nature education for children, as well as the overall engagement of society in the appreciation
of nature;

(j) divesting of monetary investments and purchases to encourage positive environmental change;

(k) devising and promoting new green technologies and massively adopting renewable energy sources while phasing
out subsidies to energy production through fossil fuels;

(l) revising our economy to reduce wealth inequality and ensure that prices, taxation, and incentive systems take into account the real costs which consumption patterns impose on our environment; and

(m) estimating a scientifically defensible, sustainable human population size for the long term while rallying nations and leaders to support that vital goal.

To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual. This prescription was well articulated by the world’s leading scientists 25 years ago, but in most respects, we have not heeded their warning.

Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. We must recognize, in our dayto-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home.

Full letter with supplemental files:

http://scientists.forestry.oregonstate.edu/sites/sw/files/Warning_article_with_supp_11-13-17.pdf

Economist warning on global financial markets

ANZ economist Sharon Zollner was interviewed on Q+A on Sunday.

A stark warning came from ANZ Economist Sharon Zollner.

“I think it’s fair to say that some things are starting to smell a bit like 2007 out there in global financial market land”, she said.

Whilst she acknowledges there are “still plenty of tailwinds” to the so called ‘rock star economy’, she says, “a number of those tailwinds seem to be running out of puff.”

“Our major vulnerability, I’d say, is Auckland house prices – how stretched they are. And also consumer debt, mostly mortgage debt, is now at a record high relative to income.”

Video: Q + A – Food exports

Corin Dann and Sharon Zollner from ANZ discuss current exporters’ success in overseas markets

Transcript:

CORIN Statistics New Zealand released its latest stats this week showing that food prices had increased 3% in the year to September. That follows a 2.3% increase in the year to August. The main culprits? Dairy exports, butter, fresh milk, cheese and yoghurt, were all more expensive, which isn’t great for your household budget, but it is a sign of the good prices our food exporters are getting in their overseas markets. How long will that last?

It’s a good question for my next guest – Sharon Zollner, a senior economist at ANZ Bank.

That is one bright spot, isn’t it, for the economy – that our export prices have held up pretty well recently, haven’t they?

SHARON Yes, that is true, and they’ve held up better than hard commodity prices, for example. So the price of our main dairy export, whole milk powder, is holding up better than iron ore, for example – Australia’s main single commodity export. So that’s been showing up in our cross rate.

CORIN In saying that, though, what’s the outlook for the next government, as they come in and they’re confronted with their first briefing from Treasury on the state of the economy. It is looking a little softer going forward, isn’t it?

SHARON I think that’s probably fair. Yes, the summary would probably say the economy’s doing rather well and that’s still plenty of tailwinds, and that is true. But a number of those tailwinds seem to be running out of puff a little bit at the same time – not in terms of necessarily falling, but in terms of their growth flattening out a little bit.

CORIN So, that’s your– Obviously, strong immigration, tourism, construction – the big three. They all– Is the outlook for them all coming off a little bit?

SHARON A little. It’s flattening off. The housing market is another one I would add to that list. Obviously, it’s tied in with construction. House prices are actually falling in Auckland at the moment.

At the moment, we’re seeing consumers remaining remarkably resilient, at least when you survey them about how they’re feeling, how they’re– about their own finances, about the economy as a whole. They sound very confident, but what we’ve actually seen is some weakness in actual spending, so maybe they’re not putting their money where their mouth is.

CORIN Talk to me about housing markets. So, there will be some people at home, and I know they will be thinking, “Oh, it’s the election. It’s the uncertainty of an election, and it’s all going to bounce back into life. We’ll get its late-Spring bounce.” Is that going to happen?

SHARON I’m sceptical. Auckland house prices are very, very high relative to incomes. I mean, they’re world-beating on a metric you don’t really want to be leading the world in, and that’s a real risk for the economy, and I think the LVR restrictions, the restrictions on high loan to value ratio lending for investors have really made a big difference.

We’ve seen investor lending pull back sharply. At the same time, the banks are also pulling back on that lending, and it’s not clear that that’s all going to free up any time soon.

CORIN So why are the banks–? I notice two- and three-year fixed mortgage rates are coming down. Is there a bit of a mortgage war starting up in that space? What’s going on there?

SHARON I think things have eased up a little bit. It’s very clear the Reserve Bank is on an extended holiday. We’ve pencilled in an OCR hike in the second half of next year, but it’s in a 6B pencil. It’s really with an eraser on the end. It’s not a strong-conviction view. So, you’ve got monetary policy on hold.

You’ve got global funding costs have stabilised. And now I think banks are starting to compete a little bit more for some of that mortgage lending.

CORIN I wonder if the next government – it’s going to be New Zealand First flavoured regardless of what shade it is. But there is going to be some spending promises, and it would imply that we might see some more spending from a government – let’s call it ‘a government’. How is the economy likely to respond to that? Is that actually going to be, perhaps, welcomed? When you look at the Reserve Bank governor, he’s probably looking for a bit of inflation, isn’t he?

SHARON Yes, but what we’ve seen in recent years is that more activity hasn’t necessarily flowed in to more inflation. So that whole model that the inflation targeting is based on, that’s stronger than sustainable activity leads to stronger inflation, and you can kill two birds with one stone by raising interest rates – that model seems to have broken. It’s not just in New Zealand. It’s around the whole world.

And that’s a conundrum from monetary policy everywhere. But it is certainly true that if some of the other drivers of activity are coming off, then that’s not bad timing for a little bit of a fiscal boost, perhaps.

CORIN Do we need…? Is there, sort of, an amount that we need? Or is it just… Will the economy roll with it?

SHARON Yeah, the economy does its own thing to a large extent. I think there’s a bit of a tendency for people to give the government more credit and more blame than it perhaps deserves for the business cycle, which is more driven by exchange rates, interest rates, commodity prices, more than actual fiscal policy.

Of course, government policy is very important for the long-run, in terms of education and productivity and competitiveness, and all those sorts of things that determine your long-run trend, sustainable growth rate. But in terms of the business cycle, it’s really not an easy thing to try to steer.

CORIN Are markets, foreign investors, businesses, whatever, going to be freaked out if there is radical change to our monetary policy settings? Personally, I don’t think there will be radical change, but, I mean, is that a risk?

SHARON If we did see radical change, then, yes, I think there is a risk that markets could do a bit of a double-take. I think, in some sense, there’s a bit of an expectation that New Zealand is no longer the rock star, that we might be coming off that particular pedestal, so any negative news might have a larger impact than otherwise. I think perhaps people are looking for a reason to sell the New Zealand dollar, rather than buy it at the moment, just because the rest of the globe is doing better, and consistently so.

The range of growth rates around the countries in the world is very narrow at the moment – unusually narrow. And it’s looking like New Zealand, just as we led into the upswing, may be the first to peak in terms of growth rates as well.

CORIN Let’s talk about some potential shocks that this new government could face. We’ve obviously got– There’s always a risk around China and its debt, and, I guess, the US stock market, including our stock markets, have had a huge run. Are there some sort of, you know, scary risks out there that we need to think about?

SHARON Certainly, there are. I think it’s fair to say that some things are starting to smell a bit like 2007 out there in global financial market land. ‘There’s been a bull market in everything,’ as the Economist called it.

And that’s completely understandable, because the price of borrowing money has been at record lows for a very long time, and so the price of anything you could borrow money to buy has been pushed up, whether that’s equities, commercial property, residential property, collector cars, fine art – you name it, it has all benefited from this extreme monetary policy stimulus.

CORIN Just not wages?

SHARON Just not wages, not inflation. It’s been a bizarre time, but it is probably fair to say that the quality of the growth that we’ve seen since 2008 has not been great. It’s been fuelled by debt and by leverage. And at some point, that debt has to be paid back.

CORIN Well, the question then is – how well prepared is New Zealand for that?

SHARON That’s an interesting question. In some ways, we’re in better state than we were in 2007. In particular, our current account is very contained. We haven’t got–

CORIN Our debt to the world, if you like?

SHARON In a way, yeah. The cumulative addition to the debt in our debt to the world. Our net foreign debt is low. It’s lower than Australia. It’s much lower than it was in 2007. But our major vulnerability, I’d say, is Auckland house prices – how stretched they are. And also consumer debt, mostly mortgage debt, is now at a record high relative to income.

So the best-case scenario is that that dampens growth going forward in a very smooth, even fashion. The worst-case scenario is that everybody’s tomorrow arrives all at the same time and consumers go into something of a panic about their mortgage payments.

CORIN So, we need Auckland house prices– Or the next government would quite like Auckland house prices just to sit flat and for wages to catch up – that’s the best-case scenario?

SHARON It is. It’s not historically what tended to happen, but that is certainly–

CORIN So what’s historically tended…?

SHARON Well, real house prices, at least, tend to– Well, they go up, and they go down.

CORIN What are you forecasting for the Auckland housing market, then?

SHARON Well, we don’t forecast Auckland house prices specifically, but I guess, unless you get some sort of negative shock, then, yes, they should hold up OK; unless we get migration dropping sharply or a big outflow of people to Australia.

But what’s happening there with the Australian government making it increasingly uncomfortable for New Zealanders living over there, would suggest that we may see a change in the historical drain that we’ve had to Australia, because, for example, parents with children who are approaching university age may not be able to afford to stay there.

CORIN That’s interesting, because that means that even if a new government was to put curbs on immigration, they can’t stop New Zealanders or Australians coming back here, can they? Won’t affect that flow.

SHARON No, that is true. It is very difficult, actually, to target any kind of net migration number, because New Zealand passports come and go as they wish, and there’s a lot of New Zealand passports in Australia, for example.

CORIN So, the government’s in reasonably good position, obviously, with its debt to deal with any potential crisis, They’re in reasonable– That’s right, isn’t it? Not too bad, are they, in terms of government debt?

SHARON Yeah.

CORIN But the Reserve Bank doesn’t have a lot of room to move this time around if we were to get in to a lot of trouble, does it?

SHARON No, and our official cash rate is at record lows. It’s lower than it was at the absolute trough of the recession following the global financial crisis, which is quite a remarkable statistic, but in that kind of situation, but that doesn’t, unfortunately, mean that our situation is any better.

It just means we’re all in the same boat, but last time, when the GFC hit, the OCR was over eight, and we cut it down to two. So we cut it by 600 basis points. Now we could cut it maybe 100. And I don’t think we could do the kind of money printing, quantitative easing…

CORIN Can’t go below zero.

SHARON …that¬– No. I think we’d be laughed out of town as a small, very risky– well, nation that is seen as risky, because we’re a small commodity exporter. We’re not the nation’s default asset like the US Treasury bond market. We don’t have that kind of power.

 

 

No imminent ‘large aftershock’ threat

The multi region structure of Civil Defence showed it’s weakness again yesterday when West Coast Civil Defence warned people to prepare for a ‘large aftershock’, but this was talked down by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Geonet, who said their information had been misinterpreted.

West Coast Civil Defence have since retracted their warning.

Aftershocks are normal after large earthquakes. So far there have been over 5,000 aftershocks following the Culverden-Kaikoura-Seddon M7.8 earthquake on Monday last week.

6.30am update: 7 eq in last hour, 156 eqs in last 12 hrs ( only 2 over M4) and 5456 eqs since the M7.8 Kaikoura Earthquake – @Geonet

They seem to be following a normal pattern of reduced frequency and size with a few bigger  blips.

Geonet have made general predictions of aftershocks based on statistics, which includes the likelihood that there will be large aftershocks some time. But it is not possible to accurately predict how big, nor when.

Regardless of the uncertainty people throughout New Zealand should be prepared for any earthquake event.

Newshub: National Civil Defence says no imminent ‘large aftershock’ threat

West Coast Civil Defence Public Information Manager Andy Thompson earlier said the aftershock activity in the area been “suspiciously quiet”.

“The GeoNet seismograph drums have been very quiet for the last day or so and the normally higher aftershock sequence of large quakes has not been occurring in the Kaikoura area,” said a statement from West Coast Civil Defence.

West Coast Civil Defence regional manager Chris Raine said another worry is that an area in Arthur’s Pass slightly west of the divide has experienced a number of small tremors in the last few days.

He said it’s an area they have been monitoring closely, with Mr Thompson describing it as “highly sensitive”.

West Coast Civil Defence has staff on duty this weekend to be available in the case of aftershocks and the forecasted heavy rain that is expected to start tomorrow morning.

They are urging locals to stock up on enough food, water, cash and medicine to last a week, and to ensure they have an emergency plan in place.

“If an earthquake is so strong that people can’t stand up, or rolling lasts more than a minute, they should evacuate inland,” regional manager Chris Raine said.

 The problem isn’t with the advice, but with the warning of an imminent large aftershock in their region.

But GeoNet say the science they’re using to authenticate the warning is simply incorrect.

“Just because the drums have been quiet for a day means absolutely nothing,” GeoNet seismologist John Ristau said.

“We kind of want to distance ourselves from this – we don’t know why they’ve gone out and done this.”

Mr Ristau says it is not usually Civil Defence’s policy to issue a warning without checking in with them first.

“Civil Defence would talk to us, we advise them, and they would never release anything without talking to us.

“What [West Coast Civil Defence] have done is looked at our [seismograph] drums, and taken the information we’ve put out and made their own interpretations.”

The Ministry of Civil Defence’s head office was also bemused by what was put out by the West Coast offshoot when contacted by Newshub, with a spokesperson saying they’re not aware of any increased risk of a strong aftershock.

The spokesperson reiterated that they are in regular contact with GeoNet, and would seldom issue a warning without consulting them first.

@Geonet tweeted at 7:13 last night:

Reminder: We produce forecasts and scenarios NOT specific eq warnings regarding aftershocks. if you see an eq warning, it’s not from GeoNet

Followed by

Contrary to some reports the Ministry of Civil Defence has not issued an earthquake threat warning for West Coast

On Facebook yesterday at 7:18 pm::

Please share this with anyone you know who is worried.

Contrary to some reports there is no “imminent threat” to the West Coast from earthquakes. Neither have we issued an earthquake threat warning.

After a large earthquake there is always an increased likelihood of aftershocks, some of which may be large.

Remember: drop, cover and hold until the shaking stops.

If you feel a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand up, or a rolling earthquake that lasts longer than a minute, or observe strange sea behaviour such as the sea level suddenly rising and falling, or the sea making loud and unusual should move immediately to high ground, or as far inland as possible.

Since Monday GeoNet have been issuing earthquake forecasts based on the best science they have available – their most recent one can be found here: http://info.geonet.org.nz/…/M7.8+Kaikoura+Quake%3A+Future+S…

 And they followed up at 22:05 pm:

On our previous post: West Coast Civil Defence Emergency Management have retracted their urgent warning around large aftershocks on the West Coast. Media ran their stories in good faith and we thank them for running clarifications.

Remember – after a large earthquake there is always an increased likelihood of aftershocks, some of which may be large. Check out our previous post for more advice on what to do in quake.

You can find the latest earthquake forecasts from the good folk at GeoNet

The disjointedness between Geonet, national Civil Defence and all the Civil Defence regions is messy and needs to be tidied up.

West Coast Civil defence have now retracted their urgent warning.

Stuff: Large aftershocks a possibility, but there are no ‘urgent warnings’

West Coast Civil Defence Regional manager Chris Raine initially refused to answer questions from the media about the release, saying he was not prepared but was dealing with the fallout with the ministry. 

From his home in Greymouth, he said he accepted people were concerned after the release was issued and apologised.

“I apologise. It was done in the best interests of the West Coast people,” he said.

“I withdraw the urgent warning completely.”

He added Thompson, who issued the release, may have “misinterpreted” the risk of aftershocks.

This is ridiculous. The only thing missing is a full moon.

Each local emergency management office was responsible for its region, Clifford said. The Ministry for Civil Defence was a “central coordinator” for emergency responses, she said.

“The West Coast have a responsibility for their community and they have acted in what they think is the best for their community,” Clifford said.

She urged people to follow the information and advice issued by GNS Science and the Ministry of Civil Defence.

“The press release that has come from West Coast was not sent on behalf of the ministry,” she said.

The current disjointed way that Civil Defence advises the public is hopeless. And poor.

The West Coast Civil Defence website gives no obvious indication of any of this, it seems to have all happened via media.

This is hopeless. Where should we look for up to date information and warnings on earthquakes? I have no idea.

The national Civil Defence website has general information but nothing specific. Their last News and events ‘new update’ is remarkably dated 10 November, before any of these earthquakes occurred.

We should all know exactly where to go online for the latest information and advice.

Merkel congratulates and warns Trump

Angela has done the diplomatic thing and congratulated Donald Trump, but has also warned him about “shared values”.

Deutsche Welle: Merkel congratulates Trump as politicians express shock

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has congratulated Donald Trump on his win in the US presidential election, before underlining the importance of their countries’ relationship and reminding the president-elect of their shared values.

“Whoever the American people elect as their president in free and fair elections, that has a significance far beyond the USA,” the chancellor said in Berlin on Wednesday.

“Germany and America are bound by their values: democracy, freedom, the respect for the law and the dignity of human beings, independent of their origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political position,” she added. “On the basis of these values I offer the future president of the United States, Donald Trump, close cooperation.”

Perhaps Metiria Turei and the Greens could learn something from this approach. See Greens versus Donald Trump.

The initial cooperation between the two countries is likely to be tense. At one point in his election campaign, Trump described Merkel’s immigration policy as “a total disaster,” and the immediate reaction to his victory across Germany’s political spectrum was shock and uncertainty.

Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen put a brave face on as she became the first senior member of Merkel’s government to offer her comments. Trump’s win, she said, was a “heavy shock.”

“Of course, we Europeans know as NATO partners that Donald Trump will ask himself what we are contributing to the alliance,” the conservative member of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) told TV network ARD. “But we will also be asking, what is your position on the alliance? Many questions are open. A responsible and open America is in our interests.

“I also think that Donald Trump knows that this wasn’t an election for him, but against Washington, against the establishment,” von der Leyen added.

Many did vote for Trump, he had an enthusiastic and strong support base, but anti-Clinton and  anti-Washington votes clearly made the difference between losing and winning.

Since Trump was confirmed as president elect he has moderated his comments substantially, even praising Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama.

He will have to learn that international diplomacy is a very different skill to business wheeling and dealing, and also to ‘reality show’ television.

Merkel is under pressure in Germany politically but she has a lot of experience dealing with difficult leaders and awkward and complex international issues.

Tsunami warning

Following this morning’s earthquake off the east coast of the North Island there’s been a few complaints about the delay in Civil Defence issuing a tsunami warning.

Newstalk ZB, in Civil Defence response to tsunami threat questioned, detailed the timing:

NZ:Timeline of earthquake response

4.37am earthquake strikes
4.41am – The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management receives initial notification of a magnitude 6.3 earthquake from GNS Science
4.53am – GNS upgrades quake to a 7.1
These earthquakes did not meet the threshold for automatic issuing of a potential tsunami threat, ministry says
5.10am – Ministry issues an earthquake notification
Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre finds no tsunami threat in their initial assessment
5.33am – Ministry issues national advisory for a potential tsunami threat. Says it’s proactive while awaiting confirmation from scientists
5.58am – A tsunami warning is issued
8.30am – Cancellation message sent at 8.30am.

I think common sense should be used:

If you feel an earthquake take cover as soon as you can – it’s called Drop, Cover, Hold but just immediately protect yourself as well as you can.

Once the shaking has finished take care in case anything has been loosened or weakened.

If you are anywhere near the seashore treat it as a tsunami risk until you fond out otherwise – assume danger unless you are confident it’s safe.

When you can check online or on TV or the radio to see what warnings may have been issued, but if you don’t find any warnings or all clears continue to take care.

Official advice may help, eventually, but don’t rely on it, use common sense.

If I get clobbered by an earthquake or wiped out by a tsunami I would put it down to bad luck, or not being sensible and taking responsibility for myself.

An earthquake should be sufficient warning of potential tsunami risk.

Firearm purchase warning

The Police have given what are now Newshub staff (from Story on what was TV3) a warning over the forgery involved in illegally purchasing a firearm to demonstrate how it could be done.

This is about when Heather du Plessis Allen and Story forged a police signature to obtain approval to purchase a firearm.

And Newshub have apologised for what they did.

I think this is a reasonable result, as long as it’s seen as a warning to journalists not to break the law in doing stories or prosecutions could eventuate next time.

The police statement from Superintendent Richard Chambers – District Commander, Auckland City District:

Outcome of investigation into TV3/MediaWorks staff

Police in Auckland City District have concluded the investigation into the actions of some TV3/MediaWorks staff involved in the purchase of a firearm for a television report broadcast in October 2015.

Police became involved as a result of those staff seeking to surrender a firearm that had been illegally purchased from a licensed Auckland firearms dealer.

The Police investigation focussed on the actions of staff members in the creation of a forged document and the use of the document to obtain a firearm.

Having completed a thorough investigation, an independent review of the case has been undertaken by a Detective Superintendent.

Police have now issued formal warnings to three TV3/MediaWorks staff.

In reaching this decision, the Solicitor-General Prosecution Guidelines were considered, together with independent legal advice.

Police are satisfied that in this instance, there is no evidence that the acquisition of the firearm was for a sinister purpose, a factor which was taken into consideration in reaching this decision.

Police is aware of some commentary suggesting that the television report was in the public interest and should not have been investigated.  Police would like to make it clear that for any investigation, public interest considerations are applied at the conclusion of an investigation and in accordance with the Solicitor-General Prosecution Guidelines, when prosecution is being considered. The public interest test does not determine whether Police should commence a criminal investigation or not.

Police view this case as no different to any other matter where criminal offending is disclosed.  The circumstances of individual cases are routinely assessed to ensure that an appropriate investigation is initiated.

We would also like to be clear that the freedom of journalists to report on any matter is fully accepted without question by Police. The law, however, applies equally to everyone, including members of the media and Police do not accept that it is appropriate to commit a criminal offence purely to publicise the ease with which something can be done.

The outcome of the investigation has been communicated to the individuals involved and to TV3/MediaWorks, which brings this matter to a conclusion.

END

There will be no further Police comment or interviews on this matter.

Media note: A formal warning does not result in a criminal conviction against an individual. However a record of the warning is held by Police and may be used to determine eligibility for any subsequent warnings, and may also be presented in court during any future court proceedings.

So no prosecution or conviction but a warning on their records. And a warning to other journalists and media organisations.

And Newshub have apologised in this report:

MediaWorks warned over Story’s gun item

Police have decided not to lay charges over an item on TV3’s Story programme last year in which a firearm was purchased online.

A number of MediaWorks staff have been warned, and the Story team has apologised to Gun City, the store at the centre of the item, and its owner David Tipple.

“The intention behind the story was to put a spotlight on an issue rather than any one individual business,” a MediaWorks spokesperson says in a statement.

“Story regrets any impact that may have inadvertently been caused to Mr Tipple as a result of the story.”

Superintendent Richard Chambers says there is no evidence to suggest obtaining the firearm was for “a sinister purpose”.

He says police are aware of suggestions the television item was “in the public interest” and shouldn’t have been investigated.

“The public interest test does not determine whether Police should commence a criminal investigation or not.

“Police view this case as no different to any other matter where criminal offending is disclosed.”

Following the item, which aired in October, police were quick to close the highlighted loophole.

That there was no malicious or ”sinister’ intent will have helped kept this at a warning level.

Identity theft warning

While most people commenting at Your NZ do so responsibly there has been a problem over the last couple of weeks in particular with a small number of people commenting with obvious malicious intent.

One of the worst offences has been posting comments using another person’s identity – this is called identity theft and is a serious breach of blog protocol.

Someone did this yesterday  using a well known identity and it included using the person’s email address.

I contacted this person and they confirmed to me that it wasn’t them who had commented.

So here’s a warning – anyone found to have used another person’s identity foregoes any rights to privacy. I may pass on what I know about any such people to the person whose identity was misused, or for law enforcement.

And as these people are obviously legally ignorant I suggest they read this from NZ Police:

About online identity theft

Identity theft is when someone assumes another person’s identity, such as their name, bank account details or credit card number, to commit fraud or other crimes.

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing areas of crime across the world and has no geographical boundaries – victims and offenders can be on opposite sides of the world. This makes it difficult for Police to investigate the crime, catch the perpetrator or help the victim.

Not so difficult in recent cases here is identifying the culprits through their commenting style and malicious motives.

If anyone sees that a comment has been made using their identity here please advise me as soon as possible so I can take appropriate action.

Goff apologises, media warned over leak

Phil Goff has given a “full and unreserved” apology for leaking details of the Gwyn report. And the media has also been warned, presumably for their complicity.

Goff apologises for leak

Labour MP Phil Goff will not face any sanctions for leaking the details of a report by the spy watchdog a day before it was publicly released.

Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Cheryl Gwyn said this morning she had accepted Mr Goff’s “full and unreserved” apology.

“The Inspector-General will not take the matter any further,” she said in a statement.

Mr Goff breached a confidentiality order last month by disclosing details about her report on the Security Intelligence Service’s release of information to blogger Cameron Slater.

Ms Gwyn said no classified information was disclosed, but Mr Goff’s leak led to premature media reporting on the content of the report, “to the detriment of other witnesses to the inquiry, particularly those adversely affected by the report”.

This looks like a warning slap over Goff’s knuckles and a warning that tolerance of political leaking has changed substantially. Goff has a record of leaking with impunity over the years.If he does it again it would deserve severe sanctions.

The Inspector-General would be taking steps to ensure greater clarity around release protocols for future reports, and had also written to media organisations to remind them of their obligations under the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act.

“The Inspector-General has significant powers to inquire into sensitive matters, and make adverse findings which may have a material impact on individuals.

“The obligations around confidentiality are necessary to ensure natural justice and fairness. It is important these obligations are respected.”

And that looks like a strong warning to the press, who have been complicit in leaks probably since Gutenberg’s day.

The media have a responsibility to be fair in their reporting. They knowingly reported cherry picked aspects of a report they would have known was still confidential, in effect enabling Goff’s illegal misuse of the report.

The Inspector-General seems intent on enforcing compliance and has effectively warned Goff (and all MPs) plus the media.

If reports are leaked illegally in the future strong action will need to be taken against offenders or we will revert to impunity as usual.

It’s worth remembering Goff’s initial reaction to his leaking of the report:

“I gave an outline of some relevant points that I said cleared my integrity,” he told Radio New Zealand.

“What I did was perfectly appropriate. If the journalists decided to run information given to them in confidence, then you should raise it with your colleagues.”

Without apology he openly admitted leaking and tried to blame it all on the media.