Thursday, May 22, 2014

My top 10 #nzpol Tweets of this week

Interestingly, the US Military often goes and helps in natural disaster zones so they're probably one of the few orgs who have seen the effects of climate change first hand all around the world.
Dotcom has dominated the news because of the Banks trial and Key has tried very hard to gloss over the facts. But the facts are certainly very interesting!
Child Poverty Action Group have gone to the Court of Appeal in the past regarding the arguably discriminatory policy that is Working for Families. Always remember, children are non-voters.
I love these above two tweets on Budget 2014 - because the surplus is basically an accounting exercise. It has very little real meaning. In the last 5 years so much essential services have been cut or reduced in the name of "tightening our belts" post financial crisis and they will never be restored. The "surplus" is meant to hide the transfer of large amounts of public wealth to the private.
The last two - ha ha!

10 Rules of Top 10
1. Tweets must be funny or thoughtful or informative or display critical analysis 
2. What is funny or thoughtful or informative or display critical analysis is subjective and determined by me.
3. I may provide commentary on the tweet if it particularly strikes my fancy
4. They are not ranked from 1-10
5. Disclosure: I *am* particularly looking to highlight gender and racial minority voices
6. If you want to point me to the direction of a good tweet, please do it!
7. Using the #nzpol/#nzqt/#nzvotes is helpful but not required
8. I hope to get better about this as the weeks progress
9. I am a big fan of correct spelling and grammar (but I know mistakes happen too!)
10. Let's try to use social media for good and raise the level of debate!  

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Prime Minister and Drones

The Prime Minister says that he is comfortable with the GCSB aiding the US in its drone strikes program.

There’s just a few problems with that:
  1. The Prime Minister’s “level of comfort” has no constitutional or legal mandate. 
  2. The UN has repeatedly asked for explanations re many drone strikes and they are basically are not satisfied with them, let's remember they have been made ‘legal’ by secret legal memo that nobody has seen. (Unless the PM has seen in it?)
  3. If we are aiding the US in its drone strikes problem, we are potentially breaking international law and the PM has to be accountable for that. 
  4. He says that people are “putting themselves in harm’s way”. No they are not, they may be doing something illegal in which case they deserve a trial and due process not extra-judicial deaths. There are some (many?) drone deaths that are non-combatant deaths – what about them?
  5. We don’t know how many because an amendment to require the President (of the United States) to disclose combatant and non-combatant deaths was removed even though it was approved in committee.
  6. The Prime Minister also said that "drone strikes are an effective way of prosecuting people". I don't know what world he is living in but that is NOT how you prosecute people. Someone needs to talk to him about trials and due process. Definition of prosecute: institute legal proceedings against a person/organization.  
  7. Another extraordinary comment the PM made was that he did not know what the GCSB information was being used for by the United States and he seemed to think the use of such intelligence to aid in the Afghan war and the Drone strikes are the same thing. Just because the US was attacked by a terrorist group in 2001 does not give western nations the right to carte blanche kill people forever and ever for the rest of time and eternity. 
  8. The PM has repeatedly said that GCSB acts within the law. This is completely false. If they had, then we would not have to retrospectively pass legislation making acts of theirs legal, which were illegal. (We did the same for the Police after the Tuhoe trials) 
  9. By taking a blasé approach to drone strikes and the killing of potentially innocent people overseas, there is now more of a target on NZ’s back than ever before. Remember that chilling bin Laden quote: "Free people do not relinquish their security. This is contrary to Bush's claim that we hate freedom. Let him tell us why we did not strike Sweden, for example". New Zealand will be seen as the UK is seen by terrorists group. Why would we Kiwis want that kind of a reputation with people who kill innocent civilians without a second thought? 
  10. It is the government’s job to keep us safe – yes. But they should do so by ensuring our privacy, by ensuring our right to not be subject to illegal search and seizures, by not breaking international law, by being subject to the rule of law, and above all by being accountable and transparent to the public. If they are having a hard time figuring out how to do that they need to hire more intelligent humans because they are not trying hard enough.

I would like to see the families of drone strikes victims in front of the New Zealand Intelligence and Security Select Committee. If we as a nation are so comfortable with it (via our PM), I want us to look into the eyes of the children whose innocent family members were killed without trial or reason just for being at the wrong place at the wrong time in their own country for the sake of our security (apparently) and tell them we are comfortable killing their families for our security. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Just wondering....

Update: Documents from OIA show that trip was planned. h/t POLITY. The stated purpose of the trip was:
"To increase the profile of a successful importer and distributor of New Zealand products into China". 
Well I don't think any of my questions really matter now do they? But I guess this answers why a BORDER OFFICIAL was at the dinner. I think we can add two and two.

1. Cabinet Office: Why wont the Cabinet Office advice be released? John Key said there was no conflict of interest and no endorsement back in March (in response to visit to Oravida HQ) but now today he says that Collins was not careful enough for there to be a perception of conflict of interest (in response to new info about dinners).

2. Close Personal Friends: Minister Collins said she met with close personal friends who are the managing director and chairman of Oravida and that's why we can't know anything about it. Fine. But was the border official a close personal friend of hers too? Or was the border official their friend? Why was the border official there? We also know she asked the NZ Ambassador to China to attend who refused. Why would you ask the ambassador to attend a private dinner? Is the ambassador a close personal friend too? Why would you feel the need to update the ambassador after a private dinner?

3. Official Business: Her office requested a briefing from MFAT which was later cancelled. What made her office think that a private dinner was official? Do Ministers put their private lives on official calendars? We know the $30+K trip to China was part of official business in her capacity as Minister of Justice. How much can you extend taxpayer funded trips for non-official trips that result in 30K donations for the party?

4. High Ethical Standards: The Cabinet Manual says that Ministers have to be seen to be upholding the highest ethical standards. If there is perception of conflict of interest as Key himself said today, is that still holding the highest ethical standards? What is his definition of highest ethical standards? And does that include making threats to the press?

All these questions just make me wonder one thing. What does Collins have on Key that's stopping him from firing her? 'Cause I bet Ministers have resigned for much less. Remember Phil Heatley and a few bottles of wine? This seems much much much much much much worse!