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(M A Croft) #685

:smile: It is amusing for those of us who live and grew up in a country most Americans would call “socialist” to see the absolute horror you have for socialism. In fact our system of government is more akin to social democracy, but we are not afraid for instance of a fully funded public Health Care for all. Indeed most NZers would want our government to invest more. There are some who want to have a private Health Insurance and can afford it - but the majority do not. As for accident insurance that again is provided for all, including visitors to our country and is funded through general taxation.
The burden of tax for NZers averages 34.4% whereas for the US the burden of tax is 27.7%. However, note that NZ’ers have no requirement for Medical or Accident Insurance because that is already paid for.

Say you had - an accident and broke a leg or shoulder or suffered 80% burns to your body (as some unfortunate souls did just a fortnight ago when White Island, Whakaari exploded while they were on it) the whole hospital expenses are free, and any subsequent rehabilitation is also fully funded.

It means of course that there is a slightly larger bureaucracy, and funding is via taxation - but in fact the overall savings made (since the need for profit is removed) - means that in the end individuals pay less for essential services such as health, education, etc. And the further benefit is that services can become more standardised with the result that quality control is easer to achieve.

In 1935 following the Depression years NZ elected its first Labour Government. It remained in power for 14 years, such was the mood of the country for the programmes that it implemented.
You can see a complete list here:

Notably the incoming National Government in 1950 promised the electorate that it would not repeal any of Labours Welfare State Policies. And indeed many of the 1935 reforms remained in place until the 1984 election when the economy was turned upside down by a rogue Finance Minister Roger Douglas (later Sir) who introduced the laissez-faire economic theories of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics. We all know now that the so called “trickle down” was in fact a Geyser, with the rich getting very much richer and the poor paying the price. After an initial burst of economic growth, the overall effect of these reforms has been a disaster. From a country which boasted a high level of social cohesion and economic equality, we have now descended to a country where there is high inequality, 23% of our children live below the poverty line after household costs are deducted from income, 1% of our people are homeless. Douglas will not go down in history as a revered politician, whereas Michael Savage, the first Labour leader is the most honoured of all Leaders.

I totally agree with you wrt the need for rules within which capital operates, and I like the Policies being promoted by Elizabeth Warren in this regard. Also I’m all for a more managed economy a la South Korea

I’m sure you will enjoy the book. A few years ago I lent a copy to Helen Kelly, at that time the President of our Council of Trade Unions.

She replied :

Dear M
Thanks for lending me this book it was most interesting and easy to read.
I have purchased my own copy as there are some very useful references in it as well…

Her early death was a great loss to us here. The link above reviews a just released documentary of her final year.


A federal appeals court on Friday upheld former President Barack Obama’s authority to create a marine national monument 130 miles southeast of Cape Cod.

“The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is a spectacularly rich and vibrant marine community,” said Peter Shelley, a senior counsel for the Conservation Law Foundation, one of the groups that intervened in the case to defend the monument.

“The scientific interest was there (to create the monument) and the research done since then has confirmed over and again the wealth of marine life that treats that area as home,” Shelley said.

After extensive research by scientific groups, particularly the New England Aquarium, environmentalists asked President Obama to preserve nearly 5,000 square miles that included five deep-water canyons and four extinct volcanoes, known as seamounts, in two discrete areas bordering the southeastern edge of Georges Bank.

Its remoteness, depth and rugged terrain meant that relatively little bottom trawling had occurred there, and scientists and environmentalists touted it as one of the last pristine spots along the continental shelf. They noted that many migratory marine species, such as whales, dolphins and sharks, used that area, and they were especially interested in preserving deep-water coral, which can take thousands of years to grow and supports a variety of life but is particularly susceptible to bottom fishing.


(David Bythewood) #687

One constant with Trump has been his hatred of Iran and willingness to scapegoat them whenever possible. I am not saying Iran’s government are innocents, but many Trump regime accusations are suspect.

The truth is it’s a rather muddled mess. An American contractor was killed in a rocket attack from an Iraqi-state-supported militia. Many such militias also enjoy Iranian ties. US civilian contractor killed in rocket attack in Iraq on Friday - CNNPolitics
In retaliation, the U.S. launched a series of five air strikes Sunday, against the protests of the Iraqi government, targeting Kataeb Hezbollah, a splinter group related to the Lebanese Hezbollah.
Iraq Decries U.S. Airstrikes Against Kataeb Hezbollah Militia : NPR
The air strikes caused the death of 25 militia members, prompting mass protests after the funerals. Iraqi forces did nothing to stop the protestors from marching on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. There were no casualties, but the embassy was broken into and tear gas deployed to drive them back.

Protesters chanting ‘Death to America’ break into U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad

Trump, meanwhile, blames Iran for this all, though there is no evidence that Iran is directly involved with this chain of events.

In doing so, he ignores the souring of our relationship with Iraq, which could further endanger more Americans in Iraq.

(David Bythewood) #688

Raging wildfires trap 4,000 at Australian town’s waterfront

Wildfires burning across Australia’s two most populous states on Tuesday trapped residents of a seaside town in apocalyptic conditions, destroyed many properties and caused at least two fatalities.

About 5 million hectares (12.35 million acres) of land have burned nationwide during the wildfire crisis, with 12 people confirmed dead and more than 1,000 homes destroyed.

The annual Australian fire season, which peaks during the Southern Hemisphere summer, started early after an unusually warm and dry winter. Record-breaking heat and windy conditions triggered wildfires in New South Wales and Queensland states in September.

In the southeastern town of Mallacoota in Victoria state, around 4,000 residents fled toward the waterside as winds pushed an emergency-level wildfire toward their homes. The town was shrouded in darkness from the smoke before turning an unnerving shade of bright red.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said there were plans to evacuate the trapped people by sea. There also were grave fears for four people missing. “We can’t confirm their whereabouts,” Andrews told reporters on Tuesday.

Andrews has requested assistance from 70 firefighters from the United States and Canada.

Victoria Emergency Services Commissioner Andrew Crisp confirmed “significant” property losses across the region.

Fire conditions worsened in Victoria and New South Wales after oppressive heat Monday mixed with strong winds and lightning.

Police in New South Wales said Tuesday that two men, believed to be father and son, died in a house in the wildfire-ravaged southeast town of Cobargo, while there are fears for another man missing.

“They were obviously trying to do their best with the fire as it came through in the early hours of the morning,” New South Wales Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said. “The other person that we are trying to get to, we think that person was trying to defend their property in the early hours of the morning.”

On Monday, a firefighter was killed when extreme winds flipped his truck. Samuel McPaul, 28, was the third volunteer firefighter in New South Wales to have died in the past two weeks. He was an expectant father.

The state’s Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said a “significant” number of properties had been destroyed.

Some communities canceled New Year’s fireworks celebrations, but Sydney’s popular display over its iconic harbor front was to go ahead. The city was granted an exemption to a total fireworks ban that is in place there and elsewhere to prevent new wildfires.

Sydney’s popular celebrations were expected to attract around a million spectators and generate 130 million Australian dollars ($91 million) for New South Wales’ economy.

(David Bythewood) #689

And of course you knew this comparison would come up:



(David Bythewood) #691

U.S. to send Marines to embassy in Iraq as Trump blames Iran for attack

Trump’s latest. Trump keeps trying to make it about Iran, but it’s not.

It’s about American airstrikes on Iraqi militia the Iraq government backs, which is why they didn’t do anything to stop our embassy from being stormed.

Iran Iran So Far Away
(David Bythewood) #692

It all comes down to greed and death. Infuriating.

Navy SEAL and war criminal Edward Gallagher has launched a lifestyle brand after Trump reversed a military court’s sentence.

Eddie Gallagher isn’t a “lifestyle brand” story: It’s a story about the rise of American fascism

The right’s worship of an accused war criminal is a fascist fable about the redemptive power of violence

Trump’s use of homelessness as a political cudgel exposes his cynical disregard for blue states

It’s not coincidental that he’s making a big issue out of homelessness in California and New York but not in Florida.

(David Bythewood) #693

United Methodist Church is expected to split over gay marriage and LGBT clergy, fracturing the nation’s third-largest denomination.

Note that it’s the SPLINTER group that will disallow this is the one leaving the church to found their own denomination.


Former auto titan Carlos Ghosn, packed into a case typically used for concert audio equipment, was sneaked onto a private jet at an airport in Osaka, Japan, late Sunday, according to people familiar with the matter, in what has become one of the corporate world’s most stunning cases of bail jumping.

His escape from Japan, where he was fighting charges of financial crime stemming from his time at the top of Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA, was months in the making, according to people familiar with the matter, and was put in motion only after Mr. Ghosn became convinced that his trial, slated for later this year, could drag on for years.

Mr. Ghosn, who is 65 years old, has said he arranged his escape on his own, but he was accompanied on his flight from Osaka to Istanbul, these people said, by an expert in the art of clandestine getaways: Michael Taylor, a former Green Beret well-known in the small, tight world of private security contractors.

Just posting this as a cautionary tale. If any judges out there suppose that suspects caught up in Trump’s alleged criminal schemes won’t jump bail, they should think again. This escape shocked Japan. Would we in the U.S. be shocked if Lev Parnas, jumped bail? He was, after all, arrested at the airport with a one-way ticket out of the country. Then, even if he were caught in another country, how long would it take to extradite him back here? Would it take until after the Senate trial (cue a sigh of relief from Trump and his supporters), or would it take even longer, until after the election (cue an even bigger sigh of relief)?

(David Bythewood) #695

4chan white nationalists are launching an effort to pit American blacks and Jews against each other with a horrifyingly stupid “let’s compare slavery to the Holocaust” campaign.

This is a thread worth reading.

21% of men say they’re afraid to hire women after #MeToo. Megan Rapinoe isn’t having it

(David Bythewood) #696

Venezuela’s Maduro Claims Control of National Assembly, Tightening Grip on Power

It was the last political institution in opposition hands. Now President Nicolás Maduro’s has moved closer to total control of the state.

Venezuela’s authoritarian leader, Nicolás Maduro, moved on Sunday to consolidate his grip on power by taking control of the country’s last independent institution and sidelining the lawmaker who had staked a rival claim to the presidency.

As Mr. Maduro’s security forces surrounded the National Assembly building, his supporters blocked the re-election of the opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, as the body’s head. That deprived Mr. Guaidó of the position that allowed him challenge to Mr. Maduro’s leadership.

By the end of a chaotic day, Venezuela’s political turmoil had somehow found a way to worsen.

The country already had two men who claim to be its rightful president and two rival legislatures. Now, one of the legislative bodies has two competing leaders.

After Maduro backers elected their own man on Sunday to lead the National Assembly, Mr. Guaidó’s supporters gathered at a newspaper’s headquarters, and in a dramatic roll call vote, re-elected him to the leadership position.

The political chaos comes at a time when Venezuela is facing economic collapse. Hunger is widespread, and millions have fled the country.

By seizing control of the National Assembly, Mr. Maduro cemented his control over the country. But the move was immediately denounced by members of the Venezuelan opposition, who called it a “parliamentary coup d’état,” and by critics abroad.

“Maduro saw this as an opportunity to take over the only institution still widely regarded as legitimate,” said Michael Shifter, the president of the Inter-American Dialogue. “The international community will not recognize the new National Assembly.”

A year ago, Mr. Guaidó declared himself head of a caretaker government, just two weeks after being elected head of the Assembly. Standing in the streets of Caracas with hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans, Mr. Guaidó asserted that Mr. Maduro’s 2018 election was fraudulent.

Invoking an article of the Constitution that transfers power to the head of the Assembly if the presidency becomes vacant, he claimed the country’s leadership.

That claim was quickly recognized by dozens of foreign governments, including the United States, which backed Mr. Guaidó effort to take power by imposing crippling sanctions on Mr. Maduro’s government.

To maintain his claim the interim presidency, Mr. Guaidó needed to be re-elected as head of the Assembly on Sunday, according to analysts inside and outside the country. His victory was expected, since the opposition controls the legislative body.

But at the last minute, members of the National Guard prevented Mr. Guaidó and other supporters from entering the Assembly’s building. Video footage showed Mr. Guaidó attempting to climb over the spiked metal fence to gain entry to the building where the vote would be held.

Inside, Mr. Maduro’s party swore in as head of the Assembly a legislator named Luis Parra, a former member of the opposition who turned against Mr. Guaidó after the Assembly leader opened a corruption claim against him. There was no vote count.

Mr. Parra then issued a statement calling for a “national reconciliation,” saying that his first goal was to put an end to confrontations “from those sectors that clearly wanted to destroy the Parliament today.”

On national television on Sunday night, Mr. Maduro called the election of Mr. Parra “a rebellion from within the Assembly” and said “the country rejected and rejects Juan Guaidó.”

The United States condemned the move.

Michael Kozak, acting assistant secretary for the Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, said Mr. Guaidó “remains Venezuela’s interim president under its Constitution.” He said that Sunday’s “phony National Assembly session lacked a legal quorum.”

In recent weeks, the opposition and the United States government had accused Mr. Maduro of trying to block Mr. Guaidó’s re-election by bribing and harassing lawmakers. In December, Elliott Abrams, the United States special envoy to Venezuela, accused Mr. Maduro of trying to pay deputies up to $500,000 each to vote against Mr. Guaidó’s re-election.

In an interview just days after Christmas, Mr. Guaidó, 36, insisted that he had the votes for re-election. But he acknowledged that Mr. Maduro was unpredictable and that anything could happen. “There is no manual,” he said, “for battling a dictatorship.”

A year after Mr. Guaidó first stepped onto the national stage, garnering widespread support among Venezuelans, he appeared to be losing ground. Since February, his approval ratings had fallen about 20 points, to 42 percent, according to the Caracas polling firm Datanálisis.

Venezuelans are struggling to deal with unmet expectations.

And in Mr. Guaidó’s own assessment, he underestimated the government’s “ability to inflict harm” — meaning its willingness to threaten those who dissent. He cited the recent disappearance of one member of his party, Gilber Caro, who has not been seen since Dec. 20.

“The persecution is brutal,” he said.

He also gravely underestimated Mr. Maduro’s hold on the armed forces, which are one of the pillars of his government, analysts said.

In late April, in one of the most dramatic moments of the year, Mr. Guaidó gathered his supporters at an air base named La Carlota and called for mass military defections. It was, he said, the final stage of “Operation Liberty.”

“The moment is now!” he said on Twitter. “Together we’re invincible!”

But the troops failed to arrive.

Mr. Maduro had spent years handing privileges and lucrative business connections to high-ranking officers to ensure their loyalty. The officers Mr. Guaidó sought to sway had everything to lose — and at best uncertain gains — if they switched sides.

Manuel Cristopher Figuera, Mr. Maduro’s former head of intelligence and the highest-ranking official to defect last year, said in an interview said that two top officials who had pledged to support Mr. Maduro’s ouster ultimately reneged, helping seal Mr. Guaidó’s fate.

While huge protests in the region have forced out the president of Bolivia and pushed leaders in Chile and Ecuador to respond to citizens’ demands, Venezuelans have mostly retreated from the streets. And President Trump, who once floated the possibility of a military intervention in Venezuela, has turned his attention elsewhere.

“It’s not that the Maduro government is particularly strong, but it survived,” said Margarita López Maya, a longtime Venezuelan political scientist who lives in Caracas. “And this is victory for them: surviving.”


Just breaks the heart to see such devastation :broken_heart:

(M A Croft) #698

The smoke from these fires is to be seen here across the Tasman. A few days ago the evening light was quite surreal. A red glow and the light was quite spooky. Tried to get a photo but it didn’t come out as red as it appeared, like living in a sepia photo.

By now the smoke has reached Chile!

I was in Canberra a year back on my way home from visiting family living in Perth WA. I have never seen such dry conditions - hardly a blade of grass to be seen. And it has apparently been like this for some years. Australia always has its bush fires, but these are truly unprecedented. The warming of the North Indian ocean has meant that the monsoon has not arrived. The rains from the monsoon normally wash down over the Australian Continent but that has not happened. Added to this has been a change in the Southern Antarctic Modulation - the jet stream around Antarctica. This has resulted in a steady flow of warm air washing from the North West of Australia down to the South East. For New Zealand we have had to suffer a persistent stream of South Westerly winds bringing cold air up the country making for a rather cool summer. :worried: But better that I suppose than bush fires. It means I haven’t been able to go swimming with the dolphins that have been visiting the Bay over the past week though.

(David Bythewood) #699

Climate change affects everybody.

66 Die After Flooding in Indonesia’s Sinking Capital City. Here’s What to Know

The disaster, experts say, underscores the impacts of climate change and massive inequality

(David Bythewood) #700

Do you know RBG?
Well she’s cancer free.
Fighting for you and me
And the U.S., you see.

Congratulations, Ruth Bader Ginsburg!

(David Bythewood) #701

Who foresees Trump illegally using this to block resisters from responding?

Twitter will test reply limiting feature to beat back trolls – the feature will allow people to decide who gets to reply to their posts BEFORE sending them.



(David Bythewood) #703

A point to watch:

David Kris is NOT highly controversial, except he criticized the George W. Bush administration’s legal argument that it had authority to conduct warrantless domestic wiretapping due to the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists. So, you know, stuff the GOP hates.

(David Bythewood) #704

The Trump regime has been moving to allow states to decide if they will allow refugees, a move designed to let red states turn them away as part of its overall goal of entirely denying refugees entry into the U.S.

Texas is the only state to turn its back on refugees, and we should be ashamed

Abbott’s decision marks departure from Texas tradition.

Refugees will no longer be allowed to resettle in Texas, Governor Abbott tells feds

Any chance of moving this to the Immigration thread?