Step 1: Chemical weapons captured Step 2: MIG fighters Step 3: Chemical weapons used

…or so it is claimed.

The play to get the world behind boots on the ground action is marching on.

Dizzy, vomiting and struggling to breathe, 11 Iraqi police officers were rushed to a government hospital 80km north of the capital last month. The diagnosis: poisoning by chlorine gas. The perpetrators, according to the officers: Islamic State extremists.

The chlorine attack appears to be the first confirmed use of chemical weapons by the Islamic State on the battlefield. An Iraqi Defence Ministry official corroborated it, and doctors said survivors’ symptoms were consistent with chlorine poisoning.

I love the “appears to be” leading to the use of “confirmed”.  It’s skillful, no?

It is one of three crude chlorine attacks that Iraqi forces say have occurred since the extremists seized vast tracts of Iraqi territory this summer, although details on the other two incidents remain sketchy. The reported assaults raise concerns that the militants are attempting to hone their chemical weapons capabilities as they push to seize more ground.

Say to  have occurred.   Read more »

Finally a minister who gets that driverless cars and not trains is our future

Simon Bridges appears to get it.

That our future lies in enabling technologies not restrictive technologies.

Trains are constrained by tracks and are not at all versatile, whereas driverless vehicles are enabling in many, many ways.

The prospect of cars travelling New Zealand highways with no one behind the wheel is moving closer says new Transport Minister Simon Bridges. Officials are reviewing legislation allowing for the testing of umanned autonomous vehicles on public roads.

Mr Bridges has pledged to work with environmental interests while also pursuing the Government’s road building programme.

Mr Bridges said he was committed to “a balanced approach” and ongoing investment roads were important even from a green perspective, “over time as we move to electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles”.

Mr Bridges said the Government was not doing a great deal to accommodate autonomous vehicle technology, “but I don’t think there’s any doubt that if you look at what’s going on internationally, maybe not in the next couple of years, but over time we will see driverless vehicles and that will have implications, like for example less congestion because vehicles can travel closer together”.

Read more »

In times of trouble you find out who your real friends are, often they are the ‘enemy’

I can relate to this:

Barry Cohen is a lovely man and as a Hawke Government Minister summed up the best of Labor – compassionate but practical, romantic but no dreamer, improver not revolutionary. Add, of course, he’s a man with great faith in Western civllisation.

He today writes that he has dementia and has had had to move into a nursing home:

When word got out that I had joined the list of dementia sufferers one of the first calls I had was from an old “friend”.

“A Mr Howard calling,” was the message from the nurse.

“I don’t know a Mr Howard, unless it’s the former prime minister.”

“That’s the one,” said the nurse.

I was deeply moved that a lifelong opponent had taken the trouble to ring to find out how I was and whether he could do anything to help. After a lengthy conversation, I told him, “This is what makes Australia a great country.”

Great men and women help make a great country. You’ve just heard about two of them.

Read more »

Face of the day

Police Association President Greg O’Connor

Police Association President Greg O’Connor

The public and indeed the NZ Police have resisted them being armed for a long time now.Times have changed however and it is clear that we need to change too. You don’t send a man armed with a knife to a gun fight yet we are currently expecting our Police to go unarmed to a gun fight. At least things have improved a little and they can now access weapons from locked compartments inside their vehicles. However, separate them from their vehicle and you have disarmed them and they stand unprotected against an armed terrorist or common criminal carrying a shotgun or other weapon.

The Government’s refusal to arm police means police officers are ill-equipped to defend themselves or others, whether from terrorists or other armed criminals, Police Association President Greg O’Connor said today.

Read more »

Face of the day

The face of Freedom?

The face of Freedom?

“A month ago I was walking from my college to my house when I was abducted in the street by three men. They dropped acid in my face and on my legs. They cut all my hair off while hitting me in the face many times telling me it’s the price for not obeying Allah’s wish in using the veil,” Hania Abdul-Jabbar, a 23-year-old university student, recounted.

“Today I cannot see out of one eye because the acid made me lose my vision. I am afraid to leave my house. Now I am permanently disfigured with a monster face,” she added with tears rolling down her swollen and scarred cheeks.

“Our country is a Muslim country and women should respect this by wearing veils and long cloaks. I’m against the use of acid against them but something should be done to force them into wearing the clothes,” Sheik Hussein Abbas, a radical Shi’ite leader in the capital, said.

To read the quoted article in full go here.

One would think that forcing women to wear a Burqa could not be in any way seen as a Feminist choice of day wear. Unfortunately that it is not the case. In Australia it has actually been defended as almost a banner for Feminism!


In this febrile, hyperbolic and downright surreal moment in national affairs, every appalling action has a facile and opposite reaction. So it was with last week’s burqa controversy. Extremists in the Coalition tried to whip up fear against a vulnerable minority. In reaction, it seems we must now smother any hint of debate about the burqa. We veered from the toxic dog whistle about burqa-clad ne’er-do-wells, to near-blanket affirmation of the Muslim face veil as a measure not just of our tolerance, but of our support for women’s freedom. A symbol of the oppression of women in fundamentalist regimes, the burqa in Australia has all but metamorphosed into a banner for feminism.

On the Guardian Australia website Gabrielle Chan implied that on the subject of the burqa we fall into two camps: “the freedom camp or the fear camp“. In a similar vein Fairfax journalist Peter Hartcher lacerated Abbott for having missed an opportunity to demonstrate leadership “with a powerful affirmation of the freedom of women“. An Australian prime minister should be a forceful champion of freedom, “including the freedom of women in Australia to wear what they choose, whether burqa or bikini“. This affirmation was necessary, Hartcher said, “as the barbarians of the so-called Islamic State” impose oppression and sexual violence on women.

How something so clearly oppressive could be twisted into a right to choose day wear astounds me. I cannot imagine a true 70’s feminist sitting back and letting her fellow sisters be oppressed like this yet the pale so called Feminists that pass for Feminism these day actually SUPPORT the Burqa as a choice? Have they ever worn one? I have and it is the most disgusting thing you could ever imagine. You have to re breathe  your own damp and stale air under there. It doesn’t take long till it stinks under there. You can barely see and a blinkered horse would have better vision.

Yet we also know that IS’s oppression of women includes forcing them to wear a burqa, reportedly favouring one as thick as carpet lest it blow in the wind and reveal a glimpse of face.

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So we’re fighting for a woman’s right to choose … a burqa? I have trouble getting my head around the notion that “a powerful affirmation of the freedom of women” means endorsing their freedom to lock themselves in a mobile cage.

I was so aghast at the short-lived proposal to segregate behind sound-proof glass those burqa-clad women who wish to observe our great democracy at work — so undecided about which was scarier, the proposal itself or the fact these politicians believed they could get away with it — that it took a while before a sad irony dawned on me. The woman who wears a face veil is already segregated, her individuality erased and her voice muffled, albeit by choice. A choice that— revealingly—only women are called on to make.

In the United Kingdom, for instance, a family has petitioned the courts to allow a young girl to wear the niqab in school. If we genuinely embrace the live-and-let-live philosophy then the prospect of girls spending their formative years in a moving tent shouldn’t bother us one bit. If we’re secretly disturbed at the idea, if we quietly wish for the state to intervene to give that child the same opportunities as her peers, then our professed “tolerance” simply masks rank hypocrisy of the kind that would keep others locked in some sentimental notion of “culture” so the rest of us can parade our virtue. Is it at all conceivable that in allowing women to conceal their faces we might begin to erode the principle of gender equality in public space, subtly undermining the freedom of all women? Isn’t this a pertinent question?

No, said a chorus of ministers and politicians after last week’s debacle. The burqa is a non-issue. It is not in the least confronting. It is a sign of our confidence in multiculturalism. Who made us the fashion police?


Several Muslim commentators here and overseas have weighed in against the burqa, stressing that it has no basis in Islamic doctrine. Some like Ameer Ali even advocate a European-style ban. In 2010, Ali, vice-president of the Regional Islamic Da’wah Council of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, described face veils as “the lingering relics of a patriarchal, misogynistic and tribal culture”.

Provided it is respectful, robust debate is rarely “unfortunate”. Unlike the burqa, it is a freedom worth fighting for.

To read the quoted article in full go here.


Can we have a political party that promises to do nothing?

Think about it for a moment, politicians always promise to DO something about some particular issue or cause.

Almost always their promise elicits massive taxpayer spending, a few committees and then a solution that suits no one.

Perhaps we could have a party that promises to do nothing, or at the very least, less than the others.

The in-built urge for state politicians to do something — about anything — is strong. Respected British political journalist Andrew Neil theorised during his visit to Australia in April that the popularity of the powerless royals is a form of anti-politics, because Australians are over-governed, and the thought of another layer of politicians is too much to bear. Because they deliver services, states have become synonymous with action, and state governments see stepping backwards as an existential threat.

The Liberal Party has had 11 of its MPs resign, step down, or move to the crossbench this year due to ICAC investigations, yet it still seems implausible the NSW government will lose the next election.

Winston Churchill noted in 1949 that if you make 10,000 regulations, you destroy all respect for the law. If it wants to be fitting of the Liberal name, and distinguishable from the chaos and corruption scandals of ­recent times, it should reduce the size and scope of state government.   Read more »

Proper national level weapons grade sledging


Kevin Pietersen has written a book about his time playing cricket for England.

It sounds like it is really just a big long-winded TL;DR whinge and a sook.

For someone with South African heritage he really comes across as a blouse, moaning about sledging and bullying.  Read more »

Face of the day


Dorothy Lee Barnett,

A former North Shore woman charged with kidnapping her daughter has been extradited to America.

She is face of the day because after reading the article I realised one thing. I am sexist. Because she was the mother of the baby I immediately assumed she must have had a good reason to do what she did but in fact no such evidence was mentioned in the article. I then asked myself how would I have reacted if it was the Father who had done it? I realised that I would have been furious that he denied the Mother the right to be in her daughter’s life for 20 years. Not only that but she would have had 20 years of heart ache not knowing where her daughter was or if she was safe. I then realised what a horrendous thing it was.

I also have seen the horrible things parents have done to each other after a break up. I have seen them use their children to hurt the other parent. What if this was the ultimate punishment that Dorothy doled out to her husband, the pain of never being a part of his daughters life?

Read more »

As ISIL reaches Australia, muslims face their own terror

Lawyer Mariam Veiszadeh from the Islamophobia Register told reporters that in recent days a pig’s head had been impaled on a cross, mosques vandalised and threatening messages spray-painted on property and cars.

“A number of women, particularly in hijab, and children have been verbally abused and threatened,” she said.

“In one case a western Sydney mother and her baby were spat on and her pram kicked. In another, a man in Perth tried to rip the scarf off a woman’s head.”

Australia has raised its terror alert and is tightening its counter-terror laws, aware that some 60 of its citizens have gone to fight alongside militants in Iraq and Syria and could return.

On Tuesday a Muslim teenager was shot dead by police in Melbourne after stabbing two officers, just days after authorities carried out raids in Sydney and Brisbane to disrupt an alleged plot by Islamic State supporters to abduct and behead a member of the public.

Muslim immigrants communities that do not integrate will eventually end up clashing with their hosts.      Read more »


NZ top of the list for Luxury travel too

You’d think listening to opposition parties and politicians that New Zealand sucked.

The problem with that is visitors love our country.

And now we have been rated top spot to visit by luxury travellers.

New Zealand has topped leading US luxury travel agency Virtuoso’s annual ‘Hot List’, winning the honour for the biggest year-on-year growth in luxury travel.

The announcement was made at Virtuoso Travel Week, held in August, in front of 4,420 delegates, attending from 92 countries – the largest delegate attendance ever.

New Zealand topped the list by a wide margin, with a staggering increase of 196 per cent growth year-on-year. Chile followed in second place, with an increase of 103 per cent, while Indonesia, Hungary and Hong Kong made up the remainder of the top five.    Read more »