So that’s how you do it

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An actual sign, indicating the risk of the “technically blind”

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Latest news headlines from Reuters

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Labour wants to double New Zealand’s refugee quota

Andrew Little in cat apron PHOTO-facebook

via Facebook

After getting conned into going to the Middle East, Labour are trying hard to turn it into a positive.

Labour has committed to doubling New Zealand’s refugee quota at a cost of $60 million a year.

It comes after Labour leader Andrew Little visited the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan as part of his trip to meet with New Zealand Army trainers deployed in Camp Taji, Iraq.

Mr Little told The Nation doubling New Zealand’s refugee quote from 750 to 1500 would be about right in terms of its global contribution. Read more »

Hooton on the rise of King Peters

Matthew Hooton was one of the first to posit that Winston Peters is aiming for a big swansong to leave politics.

The polls are pointing to that conclusion.

He’s never been Prime Minister, but wants to at least have some time in the job.

Sceptics of the Peters’ plan all miss two important points. The first is that the people of New Zealand simply aren’t stakeholders in post-election negotiations. No one voted for Mr Peters to become Jim Bolger’s treasurer in 1996 or Helen Clark’s foreign minister in 2005. On both occasions, voters would have considered the very idea laughable – and, indeed, I was laughed at on Radio New Zealand’sNine to Noon in 2004 when I first raised the idea of Mr Peters becoming foreign minister.

More recently, it’s doubtful New Zealanders have really wanted United Future’s Peter Dunne to have responsibility for tax collection or drug policy, or Act’s David Seymour to set up charter schools. But, immediately after an election, the next is a political lifetime away and the politicians go for whatever they can get, regardless of what voters think.

The second point is that a Peters-chaired government would not be seeking a second term anyway. If Mr Peters’ aspirations could be negotiated back to a single year, Andrew Little or a new National leader would have to wait just 12 months to become prime minister and would then have two full years to refresh the government and make a pitch for re-election. Sir Winston would be safely packed off to Observatory Circle or New Zealand House.

Ambitious politicians would have little doubt they could get voters to forget about the controversial origins of their government in that timeframe. Do you recall what the political controversy du jour was even six months ago? (Hint: in early November I wrote about the Royal New Zealand Navy’s invitation to the US to send a vessel to its birthday party later this year.)

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Claire Trevett on how Andrew little got blindsided in Iraq

Andrew Little, helped by the Media party, is claiming triumph on his blitzkrieg tour of Iraq…in the shadow of Gerry Brownlee.

Claire Trevett explains why he’s been done like a dinner by those dastardly Nats.

At first blush, the Government’s invitation to Labour leader Andrew Little to visit the troops in Iraq appeared to be a trick.

The question is not so much why Little took up the invitation to go along with Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee. Despite having criticised Prime Minister John Key’s own visit to Iraq as a photo op, Little had no qualms about brandishing photos of himself striding manfully around Taji in his flak jacket.

The bigger question is why the invitation was issued in the first place.

A superficial interpretation of the Government’s motivations is that it put Little in an awkward situation. Politically, it was a risky move for Little. Labour vehemently opposed sending the troops to Iraq last year, yet there Little was, meeting those very same troops.

It is not unheard of for Opposition leaders to visit troops on deployment. Last year, Australian Labor leader Bill Shorten visited the troops at Taji.

The difference between him and Little was Shorten was able to stand before the troops and assure them they had Labor’s bipartisan support.

Little’s message to the troops was somewhat more complex. It appeared to consist of telling those troops he thought they were doing a good job while sticking to his line that the job they were doing was futile.

Should Little oppose future deployments, he has handed his rivals an encyclopedia of photos and gushing comments with which to lambast him.

The prospect of watching Little squirm in front of those whose deployment he had opposed may well have been the cherry on the top for National.

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So how are Australia’s restrictive gun laws helping stop criminals get guns?

So, Australia has vastly more restrictive gun laws. How’s that working out for them?

Not that well, by the looks of things. Criminals with guns. Drive-by shootouts.

It’s kind of hard to see how the gun laws are working. They haven’t stopped criminals getting or using firearms.

A bloody war between rival crime gangs is about to escalate following the execution of convicted killer and standover man Wally Ahmad at a Bankstown shopping centre yesterday.

Ahmad, 40, was shot dead outside the Crunch Fitness gym on the rooftop carpark of Bankstown Central in Sydney’s south when an unknown person opened fire just before midday.

Two others, including a 53-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman, sustained non-life-threatening gunshot wounds and are both in a stable condition at Liverpool Hospital tonight.   Read more »

Forget bikes; driverless vehicles are our saviour

I’ve been saying this for years and now someone else has piped up and provided a good article on why driverless technology will save us from loopy rail projects and stupid cycleways.

Ian Apperly writes at NBR:

Debate over the past two years has argued cycleways are either a good solution to traffic woes or an over-hyped solution put forward by self-interested industry groups and a left-leaning local politics environment.

The reality is that cycleways are going to vanish as is a lot of industry, as autonomous vehicles take over.

In 2010, Uber launched. It connected drivers with riders. Over the past few years Uber has been more commonly thought of as a taxi service but it is not. It’s a lot better and a lot safer.

In 2015, nearly half of all “taxi” rides in the US were Uber-driven. Uber is valued at about $50 billion, half the value of all the global taxi companies.

That new model is already “disrupting” and is set to “super-disrupt” as autonomous vehicles appear.

It’s long been known Google has a stake in Uber and that the end goal of Uber is to go driverless.

In July 2015, Uber preordered 500,000 vehicles from Tesla.

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Mental Health Break