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Showing posts from 2014

Merry Christmas

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone, and remember why we celebrate this great Christian feast - it's because God came to earth, really and truly. I haven't been posting much for a while, but I have been Tweeting. I've added my Twitter feed to the top right of this blog, so you can keep track of me from here, or just by following me on Twitter itself.

Spiked Author: Yes Abortion Kills A Baby But Is Trumped By A Woman's Choice

I am more-often-than-not in agreement with what SP!KED author Brendan O'Neill writes, especially in regard to free speech and gay marriage. I am afraid I have to disagree with his column this week (based on a debate that eventually never happened), in which he says he agrees with the fact that abortion destroys an unborn life, or potential life, but that a woman's freedom of choice trumps that. He writes - Some pro-life campaigners say, `Ah, but this "act of autonomy" is different to all others because it harms and ultimately destroys another human life - that of the fetus'. I don't deny this. I do think there are massive questions to be asked regarding when a fetus becomes fully human, but I don't deny that a fetus is at least a potential human life and that abortion ends that potential human life. But I have made a moral judgement, and I've decided that it is worse - infinitely worse - to force a living, breathing, autonomous individual to do so

The 'Female Priest' Who Isn't

I've just been reading an article on the website of The Guardian about an ex-nun, who says she is both a female Catholic priest and a Bishop and wears a Bishop's ring. She was 'ordained' by a renegade Catholic Bishop and, along with six other women, has been excommunicated by Rome. She hasn't let that stop her, however, from performing baptisms, funerals, and marriages. The article also mentions her doing a funeral Mass. Ms Mayr-Lumetzberger, it seems, chooses to ignore her excommunication because she doesn't agree with it. Excommunication, though, is surely a heavy price to pay. “It doesn’t touch me,” she says serenely. “The canon [church] law used against me was an unjust law made by celibate men who rule over people whose lives they do not really know, and who give no explanation as to why these negative laws should be followed. Except fear.” With all due respect, you can't be something if you do not have the authority from the governing body of the

Putin wanted Poland to help him dismember Ukraine in 2008 [UPDATE!]

Back as far as 2008, Putin suggested to Poland’s prime minister on his first visit to Moscow that Russia and Poland divide Ukraine between them: Putin offered to divide Ukraine with Poland: Polish ex-minister “ He wanted us to become participants in this partition of Ukraine … This was one of the first things that Putin said to my prime minister, Donald Tusk, when he visited Moscow.” “He (Putin) went on to say Ukraine is an artificial country and that Lwow is a Polish city and why don’t we just sort it out together,” Sikorski was quoted as saying in the interview dated Oct. 19. Before World War Two, Poland’s territory included parts of today’s western Ukraine, including some major cities such as Lwow, known as Lviv in Ukraine. According to Sikorski, who accompanied Tusk on his trip to Moscow, Tusk did not reply to Putin’s suggestion, because he knew he was being recorded, but Poland never expressed any interest in joining the Russian operation. “We made it very, ve

German Intelligence find that MH17 downing possibly a war crime

From De Spiegel ( German Intelligence Claims Pro-Russian Separatists Downed MH17 ): After completing a detailed analysis, Germany's foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), has concluded that pro-Russian rebels were responsible for the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 on July 19 in eastern Ukraine while on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. In an Oct. 8 presentation given to members of the parliamentary control committee, the Bundestag body responsible for monitoring the work of German intelligence, BND President Gerhard Schindler provided ample evidence to back up his case, including satellite images and diverse photo evidence. The BND has intelligence indicating that pro-Russian separatists captured a BUK air defense missile system at a Ukrainian military base and fired a missile on July 17 that exploded in direct proximity to the Malaysian aircraft, which had been carrying 298 people. ... BND's Schindler says his agency has come up

Russian spies arrested in Poland

From the BBC : The authorities in Poland have arrested a Polish army officer and a lawyer for espionage, amid reports that they allegedly spied for Russia. Prosecutor General Andrzej Seremet said they had been detained after months of investigation and were suspected of "hurting Poland's interests". He did not say which foreign state was involved, but a Polish MP and Polish media said it was Russia. Marek Biernacki, a member of the Polish parliament's intelligence committee, told reporters: "Actions are being taken in respect of two agents of the Russian state." The two unnamed detainees, he said, had worked for the GRU, Russia's military intelligence agency. The lawyer, who reportedly has joint Polish-Russian citizenship, is understood to have worked in Warsaw, specialising in economic matters, Polish radio said. This makes me wonder if it is at all connected to the taping of Radosław Sikorski, who used to be Poland's Foreign Minister (

Think of the Walruses. Especially the child Walruses.

The headline blared: "If These 35,000 Walruses Can't Convince You Climate Change Is Real, I Don't Know What to Tell You" [ Photographic Proof ] Sounded like a double dog dare, too good to resist. About 3 minutes later, I was done. A blogsite called "Polar Bear Science" produced documented evidence that such events as described in the above scare mongering have been common for hundreds of years. [ Not a new thing ] Either way, so what do these people think the appropriate response to reverse the change of climate? The common responses so far are a very small tax applied to New Zealanders (Green Party) to population reduction on a global scale (Green Party) to banning the use of coal (Green Party) to banning the use of coal, gas, oil and nuclear power (Green Party), to car-less days (Green Party) to calling National and Labour evil (Green Party) to paying a lot more tax to a UN funded body that would ensure World Wide Regulations preventing the rich

Age of majority over

With the special votes counted, National are one seat short of a majority in the House. They now rely on the support of ACT, United Future or the Maori Party. They all become relevant again for 3 years. Meanwhile, it was the Greens that gained an extra seat. They are the new Labour. National has lost its outright majority in Parliament after the counting of special votes and the declaration of the final count. Compared to election night National Party lost one list seat and now has 60 seats in total in a 121 seat Parliament. The Green Party gained one list seat compared to election night, and now has 14 seats in total.

What a ceasefire looks like during a Russian invasion

According to the angle of inclination, it is very likely that the rocket has been launched from the south-west — Paul Gypteau (@paulgypteau) October 1, 2014 From The Interpreter ( Ukraine Liveblog Day 227: Fighting Rages Around Donetsk Airport : We geolocated the scene on Google Street View which is near the Sarepta Pharmacy and also showed the separatists' positions in the southwest. If OSCE is saying that the shelling is coming from the south, it is even less likely that the rockets were fired by the Ukrainian army at the airport. The airport is where Ukrainian forces are. The way the shell landed shows that it could not have been fired from the airport, instead it was most likely fired AT the airport, but fell short, killing civilians instead. There is supposed to be a ceasefire, yet the rebels/Russian army have not let up on trying to drive the Ukrainian army out of the airport at Donetsk. From the Interpreter's website ,

More on Soviet Era Statues being pulled down and what they mean to people

From The Guardian: Why Soviet monuments should be protected Red Army monuments are a reminder of the astounding Soviet sacrifice during the war. You find them not only in the ex-communist bloc but in western Europe too – Berlin and Vienna being most prominent. Those two cities even feature quotations from Stalin, which remain in place without harassment. The degree of the Soviet sacrifice seems to be appreciated there. The Soviet army played a major role in saving this part of Europe from the realisation of Hitler’s master plan in the east, which proposed the colonisation, enslavement and eventual extermination of the Slavic population. [...] In some areas of the former USSR that are keen to shrug off Moscow’s influence, Russia’s role in the second world war is seen largely through the initial collaboration with Hitler. But it is the Soviet Union’s later actions and subsequent role in the defeat of the Nazis in Europe that should be dominant. Well, there you have it. Sovie

Left versus Right

Here is an image of a left hand. Each finger represents a political party. The thumb is Mana, the index finger Greens, then Labour, Maori Party and National. National can now be painted as a party of the extreme right. Whilst still being found on the left hand. Sure, the analogy can be debated. My point though is that sometimes the frame has already narrowed the perspective. In NZ, sometimes the phrases "far right" and "extreme right", in NZ politics, still apply to the left hand. Perhaps that makes sense. The right hand has sometimes been described, in economic terms, the invisible hand. Certainly, it's something invisible to the left.

101 uses for euthanasia

Next man makes a move, the nigger gets it! A rapist and murder sentenced to jail time has decided euthanasia is a better way to pass the time: Finally Van Den Bleeken had enough of the red tape and three years ago he applied for euthanasia. "If people commit a sexual crime, help them to deal with it," he said. "Just locking them up helps no one: not the person, not society and not the victims. I am a human being, and regardless of what I’ve done, I remain a human being. So, yes, give me euthanasia." His request has been accepted, so his mortal coil will be shuffled off. Ironically, capital punishment was abolished in Belgium in 1966. Nevertheless, the criminal can insist on the State carrying out Capital Punishment in spite of it being against the law.  Yes, I can see the difference.  It's still ironic. His crimes cannot be wiped, and even being held accountable and responsible for his crimes is something the criminal can decline. Come see the subt

Elections and the Media

In the inevitable post election analysis, seems to me the mainly left leaning media are the ones most shocked at the result. For some strange reason, the hundreds of hours spent on Hager's Dirty Politics and Kim Dot Com's spying revelations and various other side issues, National still came in on top. The question the media could consider in their election analysis was did National win in spite of the media frenzy, or because of the media frenzy? If the latter, then they need to consider how to become something more than print bloggers.

Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania Form Joint Military 'LITPOLUKRBRIG' Brigade

This of course, has everything to do with increased Russian aggression against Ukraine.  Related links: Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania Form Joint Military 'LITPOLUKRBRIG' Brigade Polscy żołnierze w jednym szeregu z Litwinami i Ukraińcami. Powstaje LITPOLUKRBRIG

Putin has threatened to invade Poland, Romania and the Baltic States

A private threat, but a threat none the less. From The Telegraph : President Vladimir Putin privately threatened to invade Poland, Romania and the Baltic states , according to a record of a conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart. "If I wanted, in two days I could have Russian troops not only in Kiev, but also in Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw and Bucharest ," Mr Putin allegedly told President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine, reported Süddeustche Zeitung, a German newspaper. If true, this would be the first time that Mr Putin has threatened to invade Nato or EU members . Any threat to send Russian troops into the capitals of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland and Romania would cause grave alarm among Western leaders. If Mr Putin were to act on this, Britain could find itself at war with Russia. All five countries mentioned in this alleged conversation are members of both the EU and Nato . They are covered by the security guarantee in Article V of Nato's foundin

Poland marks 75th anniversary of Soviet Invasion in 1939

President Komorowski unveils huge epitaph to over 20,000 Polish officers murdered by the Stalinist secret service, known as the Katyn Massacre': photo - PAP/Jacek Turczy At 3.30 am on 17 September 1939, the Polish ambassador in Moscow was handed a note, in which Moscow announced that the Polish state had ceased to exist . In the wake of the Soviet invasion, mass arrests and deportations were carried out. By June 1941 over one a half million Poles were herded into trains, to work as slaves and forced labourers near the Arctic Circle and in the steppes of Kazakhstan. My Dad's family was swept up in the deportations.  They were sent to Siberia in trains normally used to transport cattle, in the middle of winter.  Many died on that journey. In Poland, the invasion has often been described as a ‘stab in the back’, which Poland received from the Soviet Union seventeen days after the Nazi attack and less than a month after the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact between Nazi Germany a

Colin Craig is a disappointment

At a time when our democracy is under attack by foreign criminals (DotCom/Greenwald/Snowden/Assange), Colin Craig is disappointing, to say the least, in his response: Conservative Party leader Colin Craig told RNZ the core issue was whether Mr Key could be trusted. "I have to say, I have doubts." Mr Craig believed on balance there was mass surveillance of New Zealanders. "I think John Key's been, shall we say, vague at best around the truth. "And I think that matters, because we want to know that we can trust our leaders, trust our politicians and most importantly that our prime minister is at least either going to tell us the truth, or if he can't tell it because it's far too secure, maybe he can say, 'Guys, I can't tell you the answer to that'." Colin Craig is either showing he cannot be trusted or is totally oblivious to the danger DotCom has exposed NZ to. Related link: Answers needed on mass surveillance - minor parties

Single Issue Voting - The Abortion Issue

Right Reason has highly amusing post about single issue voting in NZ: Single Issue Voting and Killing Poor Coloured People . Though, "poor coloured people" is not a normal phrase commonly used in NZ, but then maybe that was the point. A highlight: As we travel further towards the right, we reach the heavily populated centre zone. Before reaching the middle, we encounter the Naybour Party, arrayed in red. The Naybours’ focus on good old-fashioned social democratic values: Good social services and strong welfare, giving everybody a fair go no matter where you come from. Social engineering (i.e. progress) towards the Naybours’ vision of utopia is what this party is about. I think Glenn is missing his calling as a satirist. He really ought to do more of this stuff and give The Civilian a serious run for his money. In all seriousness, though, Glenn's post is about the validity of single issue voting, whereby "poor coloured people" are presumably substituted

Minto Madness

Total madness. Or do some people think it's just the amount we need to debate? For one thing, Lotto sales would fall off. So where should the appropriate maximum income be set? Paul Reynolds's obscene $5 million income is close to 200 times the minimum wage. My pick would be to set the maximum income at 10 times the minimum wage. This would mean a maximum income of $250,000. The easiest way to enforce this would be setting a 100 per cent income tax rate for the combined income from all sources (including share allocations, allowances etc) above this level. Linking the maximum salary to the minimum wage would have the added advantage of providing an incentive for the highest paid to lobby for increases in the minimum wage, unlike the present situation where the corporate sector argue for the lowest minimum wage possible. Minto Madness You can vote for the Mana Party next week, and John Minto is ranked number 4 on the list.

Should John Key make it easier for the Conservatives to get into Parliament

John Armstrong seems to think they should in Key needs to offer hand up to Conservatives : If John Key wants to avoid having to govern with Winston Peters perched constantly and awkwardly on his shoulder, he is going to have to help Colin Craig get his Conservative Party across the 5 per cent threshold. That is the unambiguous message to National's leader from today's Herald-DigiPoll survey. National's support is starting to slowly slide below the 50 per cent mark. Key would still be able to govern with Act's and United Future's two MPs - plus any Maori Party MPs who survive the election. Key would still want some insurance, however, should his party slip further during the eight days left until election day. Well, given that NZ First in Parliament this time around has been all but completely useless (I voted for them last election because I thought they'd add a counterbalance to the mix), it looks like the fear of the gold card voters is starting to set

Is Russia Cold War Communist or Imperialist Tsarist? Part II

Continuing what I started with answering the question whether or not Russia is Cold War Communist or Imperialist Tsarist earlier this week , I've found an article on the Moscow Times titled Russia Is Scared of the 21st Century — For Now , which I discuss: As the dust settles over eastern Ukraine, the consensus is solidifying that the conflict there was the first battle of an attempted Cold War revival . A Cold War requires a Soviet Union, and the government of President Vladimir Putin has finally embraced it as a role model, more than a decade into his reign. It is a strange Soviet Union : sans communism, but with religion thrown into the mix . It owes as much of its official ideology to the pre-revolutionary Russian Empire, with its state-dependent capitalism and traditionalism. Added to bans on political freedoms and grassroots activity, Internet censorship spreading like cancer and a crackdown on LGBT rights (admittedly mild, compared to Soviet times), this is, in essence, a

Australian PM Tony Abbott to visit Ukraine

It's heartening to see a real connection being made between Australia and Ukraine, after the horrific shooting down of passenger jet MH17 by Russian backed rebels a couple of months ago. From the Sydney Morning Herald : Prime Minister Tony Abbot is planning to visit Ukraine, according to the country's president. Mr Abbott phoned Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday, the president's press service reported. During the phone call Mr Abbott promised to send military equipment to Ukraine's army, the president said. A week ago Mr Abbott told parliament that Australia would send "non-lethal military assistance" to Ukraine such as military winter clothing, blankets and first-aid kits. According to the president's press office, Mr Abbott told Mr Poroshenko "Australia will consider the opportunity of enhancing military-technical cooperation and, as the first stage, will send the lot of military equipment and means of warming. &quo

NZ Russian man wounded in Ukraine - who is he?

Is New Zealand embarrassed that one of our own country men was off in Ukraine, fighting with the pro-Russian separatists, and is now back being treated for a gunshot wound and concussion? What if he had come back from Iraq after being wounded by fighting for ISIS? Maybe that wouldn't be a big deal either. From Stuff : A New Zealand Russian has been wounded fighting in Ukraine , community sources say. The man, who has flown from the conflict wounded is being treated by the New Zealand health services. Sources say he suffered a gunshot wound to the leg and concussion after a firefight in eastern Ukraine . He had left New Zealand several months ago to fight with the Russian-backed separatists, which are trying to break away from the Kiev government to create separate states, or to join Russia. "His wounds are not difficult, he was hurt by gunfire in Ukraine," a source said. Leading members of the Russian community in Auckland were angry at attempts to contac

Is Russia Cold War Communist or Imperialist Tsarist

Last week it was asked on this blog whether or not Russia is Cold War Communist or Imperalist Tsarist.  It wasn't really something that could be answered without a bit of research, hence the delay. In summary, I now think the Putin and the elites of Russia are trying to be both Soviet and Tsarist to a certain extent, yet are also neither.  I've linked to articles exploring this and related ideas, with the more relevant and interesting parts quoted below: Putin Accepts Only ‘Imperial-Militarist’ Component of Soviet Inheritance Vladimir Putin is often accused of wanting to restore the Soviet system or at least its core values, but in fact, the Kremlin leader is interested in promoting the its “imperial-militarist” element and not its “revolutionary” component , a pattern that has the effect of limiting Russia’s ability to deal with the rest of the world, according to Vadim Shtepa. In a new commentary, the Petrozavodsk-based federalist thinker notes that as a result of thi

Russia has threatened Ukraine with nukes if they continue to resist

I am so disgusted and outraged and horrified by the sneaky invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and now what is escalating into a full scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia, complete with threats of nuclear weapon use, that I will now be deleting any trolling comments to do with this subject. Any comments on the rightness or justness of the invasion by Russia will also be deleted. As will any comments on how the "evil fascists" of Ukraine had it coming, because those especially, just feed into the Russian propaganda machine. Anyway, now Russia is threatening Ukraine with nuclear strikes if Ukraine continues to resist the Russian invasion that can no longer be hidden. From The Interpreter : Ukrainian Defence Minister Says Russia Has Lost Hybrid War, Begun Invasion, And Threatened Nuclear Strikes 16:06 (GMT) Interfax-Ukraine reports that Valeriy Heletey, the Ukrainian defence minister, has written on his Facebook page that Russia has lost its "hybrid war" against U

Is James Foley a Martyr?

Pia de Solenni has written a post on whether or not James Foley is a martyr. I tend to think he is, as I doubt he would have been murdered had he converted to Islam. Anyway, here is some of her reasoning, and her blog post has more: So, is James Foley a martyr? According to his siblings, Katie and Michael, who were interviewed on the Today Show, when Pope Francis spoke with the family by telephone, he said that their brother James is a martyr : The brother and sister also spoke in slight detail about what the Pope said to the family when he called on Thursday afternoon. Michael said that the pontiff labeled James an martyr, who sacrifice would not be forgotten. Has the Pope canonized James Foley? No. Do we know that he officially said this? Nope. Did he say this in a formal pronouncement? Negative. Do I think the Pope could’ve said it? Yep. Absolutely. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. Here’s why: We know that IS/ISIS/ISIL generally offers its captives a choic

More evidence of Russian troops active in Ukraine

Troops of the Pskov Air Assault Division outside Belbek air field in Crimea Evidence of Russia's 76th Guards Air Assault Division in Southeast Ukraine 15:09 (GMT) A number of recent stories indicate that the 76th Guards Air Assault Division of Russian Airborne Troops from Pskov has been continuing to fight in Ukraine. A decree published on the Kremlin's website , a report of documents seized in battle by Ukrainian forces , and a report of a Pskov soldier's death have come together to help validate recurring reports of Russian military presence in southeastern Ukraine. The 76th Guards were first sighted in Crimea in March. As we reported at the time, they were first noticed missing from their barracks by Lev Shlosberg, a deputy from from the Yabloko party in the regional legislature, who protested against their deployment abroad to forcibly annex the Crimea and was denounced by the Pskov Region governor. Now the official Kremlin web site h

Britain Exporting Jihad

The growing problem of British Jihadists: It is the now familiar nightmare image. A kneeling prisoner, and behind him a black-hooded man speaking to camera. The standing man denounces the West and claims that his form of Islam is under attack. He then saws off the head of the hostage. Why did Wednesday morning’s video stand out? Because this time the captive was an American journalist —James Foley— and his murderer is speaking in an unmistakable London accent . The revulsion with which this latest Islamist atrocity has been greeted is of course understandable. But it is also surprising. This is no one-off, certainly no anomaly. Rather it is the continuation of an entirely foreseeable trend. Britain has long been a global hub of terror export, so much so that senior US government officials have suggested the next attack on US soil is likely to come from UK citizens. All countries — from Australia to Scandinavia — now have a problem with Islamic extremists. But the world could be fo

Ukraine - More heavy weaponry being sent over the border from Russia

A 2S19 Msta , a 152mm howitzer with a maximum firing range of 29-36 kilometers From The Interpreter (Day 183 LiveBlog): This weapon was reportedly photographed near Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, headed toward Russian Donetsk (map), the location of the Izvarino border crossing. The separatists have never acquired this weapon, to our knowledge, so if this shows up in Ukraine it will be a clear indication that Russia sent it there. It will also be a significantly dangerous addition to the separatist arsenal. Also, something else of note that has been noticed with regards to how Russia operates: The pattern has always been that Russia escalates its interference in Ukraine at the same time that it elevates its diplomatic overtures. If the leaders of Russia and Ukraine are scheduled to meet on August 26th, it is likely going to be a very dangerous 7 days.

Dirty Politics has helped me decide to vote National

Nicky Hager's book, Dirty Politics and the fallout from it has helped me decide to vote National in this election. It looks like I'm not the only one if the latest Roy Morgan poll is anything to go by. National's picked up two percentage points to give it a rating of 48, while Labour's down two to put it on a rating of 27.5 percent. The Greens have also dipped slightly on 11.5 percent and coupled with Labour they're still nine percent shy of National. With any luck, anything else Kim DotCom might have planned may turn into an own goal. If a petition were circulated for his extradition, I wonder how many would sign it? Related link: 'Dirty Politics' fallout only increases National's standing - poll ~ NewsTalkZB

Managed to fill in Vote Compass this time

Despite giving up on Vote Compass the first time around, I was inspired (by Terry) to just fill the damn thing in and not worry about it being not specific enough. Even though some of the questions just didn't make sense to me, such as whether or not I thought Maori should be in charge of their own affairs. Such a bizarre question. It does show the inadequacy of the questions asked given it places me pretty close to National in the social conservative right quadrant, especially when National annoys me in not being socially conservative enough. Oh well, I've given them my twitter handle and they can study my small impact in twitter, which I don't really use, except for automatic notification of my blog posts.

Vote Compass - couldn't do it

David Farrar has recommended some sort of questionnaire that determines who you should vote for based on your answers to some questions. So I thought I'd give the New Zealand Vote Compass a try. A snapshot of the Vote Compass website and some of my open tabs I ran into problems with Question 2. "Up to what age should the government fund GP visits for children?" They don't give the current age of funding, yet they ask if it should stay the same or be younger or older.  There is no option for no funding of GP visits for children.  In order to answer the question and move to the next, I had to choose "same as now" or "I don't know", which were the closest to my opinion. "I don't know" implied cluelessness or lack of opinion on my behalf, so I couldn't choose that. "Same as now", implied I was happy with the status quo - which is what I chose, yet I don't know what the status quo is. It was annoyin