What is a “strong budget”?

Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski – an earlier budget

 

Prime Minister John Key is signalling an ongoing enthusiasm for the job and is promising a strong government Budget this month.

He’s been leader of the National Party for ten years and Prime Minister of the country for eight.

“I am just as excited about the year ahead as I have ever been,” he said in a speech to National’s central North Island regional conference in Waikato.

The next step is setting out the Government’s future plans in the Budget on May 26. Read more »

This is the guy inquiring into anti-semitism in the Labour party

Jeremy Corbyn has initiated an inquiry into anti-semitism in the Labour party.

He has his own anti-semitism problems.   Read more »

Photo Of The Day

Zdenka Fantlova, who had been a prisoner at Belsen, met for the first time George Leonard, a British soldier who had been among those liberating the concentration camp seven decades ago. Photo BBC.

Zdenka Fantlova, who had been a prisoner at Belsen, met for the first time George Leonard, a British soldier who had been among those liberating the concentration camp seven decades ago. Photo BBC.

An Incredible Survival Story

The Tin Ring

Somehow, the remarkable Zdenka defied all the odds, all the horrors of the Holocaust Concentration camps, and somehow survived.

Somehow, she retained and has never been separated from the tin ring which Arno, the boy she loved, had secretly passed to her in the camp.

And, somehow, this troth serves as a repudiation of the visceral hatred and violence represented by Auschwitz, Treblinka, Bergen Belsen and all the other monstrous Nazi extermination centres.

Zdenka Fantlová’s childhood in Czechoslovakia was one of great happiness and love and her life was like that of any other teenager. However, her peaceful existence was soon to be shattered and she was sent to Terezín concentration camp. Here she was given a home-made tin ring by her first love Arno with ‘Arno 13.6.1942’ engraved on it. When he gave her the ring he said, ‘That’s for our engagement. And to keep you safe. If we are both alive when the war ends I will find you’. Arno was sent East on a penal transport later that same day; she never saw him again. After surviving six concentration camps, risking her life for the tin ring and death marches Zdenka found herself, in the last chaotic days of the war, at the hell that was Bergen Belsen.

Zdenka is one of the few living eye-witnesses to the horror of the Holocaust. She survived six concentration camps, lost her entire family and endured unimaginable horrors.

When she was just 17-years-old a simple tin ring made for her by her boyfriend became central to her will to live, until he was selected for one of the early trains “to the east.’’ Though her boyfriend died, Zdenka clung to the simple tin ring as a symbol of hope. Her tin ring that she risked everything to keep through all the horrors till liberation, until she was surrounded by the dead and dying and close to becoming one of them herself.

“Then, everyone was on his own,’’ she says. “What most people are interested in [now] is the art of survival, and there is a secret to it. . . . I was 17, I was young, healthy, I was single, I was in love – and that is a tremendous power. To be in love and to have hope was something that gives you strength.

“It’s actually quite simple. Most people who came in felt like a victim. If you feel like a victim you become one. It takes a lot of energy out of you. You are afraid, you worry about what’s going to happen,’’ she says. “I never felt like a victim. I actually felt as though it has nothing to do with me. I was an observer looking out at the barbed wire, the guards, and the dogs. And if you don’t feel like a victim you have a chance.’’

Read more »

Can Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton?

Well, the pundits say no, or have said no up until recently.

They all thought he would get spanked by the GOP machine but it turns out it was Trump dishing out the spankings.

Now the pundits are having to recast their thinking. They are starting to realise that all head to head polling to date hasn’t accounted for Donald Trump directly attacking Hillary Clinton. He will start doing that soon…he’s already got a nickname for her ‘Crooked Hillary’.

How would Donald Trump fare in a general election against Hillary Clinton? The conventional wisdom is that he wouldn’t stand a chance. The GOP is divided. His campaign, despite a recent spate of landslide primary wins, appears to have its own civil war going on. His favorability numbers are at historic lows for a nominee.

The case against Trump’s electability is strong. But it is also perhaps overstated. The Manhattan billionaire does have a narrow path to the White House. In fact, he may be the GOP’s most electable option at this point, at least among the candidates who are actually still running for the job.

John Kasich argues he’s the only guy who can beat Clinton, an idea mostly predicated on his performance in head-to-head election polls. But head-to-head polls this far out, historically speaking, are not all that predictive, and Kasich has struggled to turn his on-paper attractiveness into actual votes at the ballot box.

Ted Cruz, meanwhile, would likely be the most right-wing nominee since Barry Goldwater. His act appears to have worn thin among even the Republican grassroots, his natural constituency. Cruz might somehow still manage to pull the nomination away from Trump, but there’s approximately zero reason to believe he can win over the swing voters who typically decide presidential contests.

So back to Trump, who still has a few things going for him. His general election strategy, such as it is, seems to be predicated on two strategies: pivot left as far as possible and launch a scorched earth campaign against Clinton.

Read more »

Vic Crone and Penny Bright both break the law

And they don’t give a toss. To be honest, why should they? Not a single political candidate has ever suffered financially, or by being disqualified after the fact, for breaking election by-laws. They know it is open season.

Ms Crone and another mayoral candidate, Penny Bright, believe the Bill of Rights overrides a bylaw which prohibits “election signs” until August 6, nine weeks out from the local body elections on October 9.

“I don’t consider our billboards any more distracting than a billboard of Dan Carter in his boxers,” Ms Crone said.

The businesswoman unveiled two billboards in the CBD and Parnell in March. They stated “Vic Crone for Auckland” and referred to her website “vic4mayor.co.nz”– an apparent breach of the Auckland Transport Election Signs bylaw.

At the time, Auckland electoral officer Dale Ofsoske said in his view the billboards were an election sign.

Ms Crone took the signs down when the rental period expired, She has since taken legal advice on the issue.

The advice, she said, was the bylaw was unlawful and unjustifiably breached the Bill or Rights Act.

“It looks to me that the bylaw is being selectively applied to political campaigns as some kind of political censorship.

“That’s exactly the type of nonsense that Aucklanders are sick and tired of.

Not at all. It is people trying to be cute and not paying their rates or putting up signs and then pretending it is some kind of moral stance instead of what we all know it really is: attention grabbing and being a dick.   Read more »

Public transport is for other people…

I loathe public transport. The only redeeming feature of it is loads of other people take it…and aren’t on my roads or in my way.

Politicians love to push people on to public transport…but it seems more and more are ignoring their pleas, especially millennials.

More than a quarter of U.S. government spending on surface transportation goes to mass transit, and yet mass transit accounts for less than 2 percent of total trips taken nationwide. The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Marc Scribner attributes this eye-popping mismatch to a persistent “falsehood peddled by the transit lobby:” If you build it, they will come.

A stunning chart put together by the University of South Florida’s Steve Polzin illustrates how transit supply has failed to create its own demand.

The blue line represents transit ridership; the red line shows the expansion of the country’s mass transit infrastructure going back to 1970. Their divergence is a “report card on productivity that mom and dad would hardly be proud of,” Polzin writes. It’s also a statistical representation of a sad yet all-too-familiar scene in American cities: empty light rail trains chugging along main streets in deserted downtowns.   Read more »

Shhh…don’t tell anyone but Gerry Brownlee is in Israel

Gerry Brownlee in Israel

Gerry Brownlee travelled to Israel after his visit to Iraq. He’s also tried to keep it very quiet, with it not even being reported in NZ media.

Pity, he went for a visit with ‘Bogie’ Ya’alon though and the Israelis know how to use Facebook.   Read more »

Unions reflect on their loss of power

[Yesterday was] International Workers’ Day, celebrating the labour movement and the eight-hour day.

The day is a public holiday in many countries.

New Zealand has its own Labour Day holiday in October, marking the anniversary of this country adopting an eight-hour working day.

However, many organisations still celebrate solidarity between workers on what is colloquially known as May Day.

Council of Trade Unions economist Bill Rosenberg said people’s working conditions in New Zealand were not improving.

“There’s no effective protection in the law and for many people, if they do work long hours, there’s no recognition in higher rates of pay or overtime pay,” he said.

Something salaried people have been used to for a long time. And lots of self-employed people also know that the extra hours don’t always translate into extra money. Somehow, “workers” expect more.   Read more »

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Judith Collins on gangs and gun control

081111. Photo Maarten Holl/Fairfax Media, The Dominion Post. NEWS. Police College. New firearms, etc, training simulator. minister of Police Judith Collins gets trained by Vince Anthony, Lockheed Martin (US)

Photo Maarten Holl/Fairfax Media, The Dominion Post.

Police Minister Judith Collins is signalling tighter controls on the licensing of firearms to gang members.

“I was really shocked the other day to find that being a gang member doesn’t preclude someone from having a firearms licence, because, apparently, you’re still a fit and proper person,” Ms Collins told Q&A today.

She says “this is the sort of nonsense that we need to change the law on”.

Parliament’s law and order select committee is holding an inquiry into the illegal possession of firearms.

It is looking at how widespread firearm possession is among criminals, including gangs, and how criminals, gangs and those who do not have a licence come into possession of firearms.

The public clearly expect any firearms held by gangs to have been obtained illegally. To discover that some of the gang members have a bona fide firearms licence has been a shock to many.   Read more »

A ban on junk food advertising? How is that going to work then?

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Pies at New World Warkworth

Health groups are calling for a ban on junk food advertising and sports sponsorship in a bid to mimic the success of the ban on tobacco ads.

Several groups have made the call in submissions to the Advertising Standards Authority, which is reviewing its code for advertising to children.

Health groups said although big sports events such as rugby or league games might not be solely targeted at children, they were family affairs and children would be influenced by marketing.

They said such selling was one of the many ways children were bombarded by junk food messages.

Medical Association chair Stephen Child said even though such marketing is now common, sport would survive without it. Read more »