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Foot in Mouth Award – Nicky Wagner, because disabilities issues are such a drag on a nice day

24 June 2017 1 comment

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Bennett had it (and probably still does)…

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Key had it;

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… still had it;

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Aaron Gilmore had it;

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Steven Joyce has it;

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Alfred Ngaro has it;

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And it seems Minister Nicky Wagner has it;

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Yes, indeed, Ms Wagner, we’re sure you’d rather be out on the harbour rather than having to mess around with boring disability issues. After all, it’s not your responsibility if some people  ‘choose’ to stay indoors rather than go sailing because they happen to have a disability.

Oh, wait, you’re Minister for Disabilities.

Yes, indeed, another National member of Parliament has revealed her innermost thoughts and feelings about us plebes. We are an inconvenience. Especially on a fine, sunny day.

Ms Wagner soon received a barrage of criticism for her 15 June ‘tweet’;

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1h1 hour ago

really? your response to backlash is to double down and refuse to apologise?? I hope you end up on the news for this.

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4h4 hours ago

Replying to

Then resign and give your position to someone with integrity and compassion. Shame on you.

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14h14 hours ago

Replying to

So would everyone with a disability but not everyone gets that choice…

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2h2 hours ago

Replying to

I suggest you step down then. Our communities deserve someone who wants to be there and makes a difference.

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3h3 hours ago

Replying to

find a new job as a fisherman if representing our disabled community is too much of a chore

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12h12 hours ago

Replying to

You tweet this? Clearly your judgement is poor. Make the most of your good fortune

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2h2 hours ago

Replying to

I hear you- I hate it when our daughters disability gets in the way of our sailing. And biking. And overseas travel. Ugh

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12h12 hours ago

Replying to

Well sorry for taking up your precious time by having a disability. I’d rather not have to think about it either. Ugh.

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2h2 hours ago

Replying to

Oh my gosh. Your my mp. From my area. You told me disability was your most important thing to you. You lied to me.

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9h9 hours ago

Replying to

Resign from your ministerial position. Such a flippant attitude when your meant to be meeting critical stakeholders of your portfolio! Shame

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7h7 hours ago

Replying to

i can tell this tweet isn’t going to age well over the next few months…

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And this (amongst many more) which sums things up in a nutshell;

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10h10 hours ago

Replying to

No worries, sweetie, after September 23 you can spend as much time on the harbour and away from pesky work as you like. 😀

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One hapless National Party supporter tried – without much success – to mitigate matters;

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8h8 hours ago

Replying to

Nicky you might pay to reread your tweet slowly & listen to your words.The delivery of this measage is appalling. Goodluck defending it oops

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Followed by,

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Good try – but stop digging, Geoff.

Ms Wagner quickly realised the enormity of her blunder and attempted to make good with two follow-up ‘tweets’, about eleven minutes apart;

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But by then, at least one representative from the msm had noticed the twitterstorm that had blown up around Minister Wagner;

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8h8 hours ago

Replying to

We will all stand by and watch for your ‘clarification and apology.’ See Alfred Ngaro for further help.

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8h8 hours ago

Replying to

Ummmm.. awkward. You could always resign if you don’t like your job! I know a bloke who does good harbour tours to the whales and dolphins.

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Garner’s description as “awkward” would be an understatement.

Perhaps, as National Party supporter Geoff Booth said, “We all make mistakes“. But National ministers and mps have a track record of occasionally letting slip what they really think of  us serfs. And it isn’t very flattering.

If this is how Ms Wagner feels about spending time on disability issues, perhaps it explains why we have had three housing ministers – simultaneously – and yet we still have rising homelessness and worsening housing affordability.

Perhaps it explains why we have chronic health underfunding, including  over-stretched mental health services.

Perhaps it explains why we still have high youth unemployment of NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, or Training), and allowing 70,000 migrants to come to New Zealand because we are “short of skilled workers”.

Perhaps it explains why – when the economy is supposedly growing – wages have stagnated.

Obviously, National ministers would rather be doing something else.

In one way, former disgraced MP, Aaron Gilmore was the most honest out of the entire National parliamentary caucus; he really did express the innermost feelings of how the Born-To-Rule view us. I suggest Ms Wagner resign from Parliament and Aaron  Gilmore take her place. At least he’s more upfront and we know what we’re getting.

The rest of his National colleagues can also take a long, long cruise out onto the Auckland harbour.

 

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References

Radio NZ:  Bennett ‘would consider another privacy breach’

NZ Herald:  Key – US journalist Greenwald ‘a loser’

NBR:  ‘Dotcom’s little henchman’

Mediaworks:  ‘Do you know who I am?’ – Aaron Gilmore

NZ Herald: Minister to students: ‘Keep your heads down’

NZ Herald:  Associate Housing Minister Alfred Ngaro reprimanded, apologises to PM over Willie Jackson comments

Parliament: Nicky Wagner

Twitter: Nicky Wagner

Twitter: Nicky Wagner – would rather be out on harbour

Twitter: Nicky Wagner – follow up on harbour tweet 1

Twitter: Nicky Wagner – follow up on harbour tweet 2

Previous related blogposts

Foot in mouth award – Former ACT MP exposes flaw in free-market system

Foot in mouth award – another former ACT MP plumbs new depths of dumbness

Foot in mouth award – Bill English, for his recent “Flat Earth” comment in Parliament

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 June 2017.

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= fs =

Trumpwatch – How Elon Musk can overcome Trump’s climate-change obstinacy

23 June 2017 1 comment

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Fun Fact #1:According to an ongoing temperature analysis conducted by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8° Celsius (1.4° Fahrenheit) since 1880. Two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade.” – NASA, Earth Observatory

Fun Fact #2:Atmospheric CO2 concentration started to increase at the time of the Industrial Revolution and has been increasing rapidly since 1900. This increase is in proportion to the usage of fossil fuels. Therefore, reducing consumption of fossil fuels in order to reduce CO2 emissions has become a crucial countermeasure for global warming.” – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

Fun Fact #3: In 2011/13, China had 78 million  cars. In 2014, there were 154 million cars in China. By 2015, that number had risen to 172 million. A year later, another 28.3 million were sold, taking the figure to around 200.3 million private cars. By 2050, the estimated number of private vehicles in China is estimated to be between 464.9 to 557.7 million.

Fun Fact #4:The global number of cars on the road and kilometers flown in planes will nearly double by 2040 […] Cars are projected to reach the two billion mark by 2040.” – World Economic Forum

Fun Fact #5:A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.”  – US Environmental Protection Agency

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Until recently, Canadian-American businessman,  engineer,and inventor, Elon Musk was an Advisor on  Donald Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum.

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Elon Musk

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Musk’s appointment to this Forum on 14 December last year joined the likes of;

  • Stephen A. Schwarzman (Forum Chairman), Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder of Blackstone;
  • Paul Atkins, CEO, Patomak Global Partners, LLC, Former Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission;
  • Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO, General Motors;
  • Toby Cosgrove, CEO, Cleveland Clinic;
  • Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co;
  • Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO, BlackRock;
  • Travis Kalanick, CEO and Co-founder, Uber Technologies;
  • Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company;
  • Rich Lesser, President and CEO, Boston Consulting Group;
  • Doug McMillon, President and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.;
  • Jim McNerney, Former Chairman, President, and CEO, Boeing;
  • Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo;
  • Adebayo “Bayo” Ogunlesi, Chairman and Managing Partner, Global Infrastructure Partners;
  • Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President, and CEO, IBM;
  • Kevin Warsh, Shepard Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Economics, Hoover Institute, Former Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System;
  • Mark Weinberger, Global Chairman and CEO, EY;
  • Jack Welch, Former Chairman and CEO, General Electric;
  • Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winner, Vice Chairman of IHS Markit;

A formidable Who’s Who of American capitalism’s “Captain’s of Industry”.

Trump’s propaganda website, “Great Again” stated;

Members of the Forum will be charged with providing their individual views to the President — informed by their unique vantage points in the private sector — on how government policy impacts economic growth, job creation and productivity. The Forum is designed to provide direct input to the President from many of the best and brightest in the business world in a frank, non-bureaucratic and non-partisan manner.

Trump was more effusive;

You’re doing well right now and I’m very honored by the bounce. They’re all talking about the bounce … Anything we can do to help this go along, and we’re going to be there for you. And you’ll call my people, you’ll call me. It doesn’t make any difference. We have no formal chain of command around here.

Musk’s appointment to the Forum had been unforeseen, as he had voiced criticisms of Trump and his victory at the elections;

The announcement came as a big surprise to many, considering Musk has been very critical of Donald Trump before and after the election. Before Trump became President-elect, Musk said in an interview with CNBC that the Republican nominee was “not the right man for the job” and that “he doesn’t seem to have the character that reflects well on the States.” After the business tycoon won more electoral votes than Hillary Clinton, Musk also lamented that the outcome “not the finest moment in our democracy in general.”

Before the election took place, Musk also stated that Hillary Clinton’s economic and environmental policies were better. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering Musk has made much of his fortune from harnessing renewable energy. He’s also a proud advocate of environmental sustainability. Trump, on the other hand, believes climate change is a “hoax” invented by the Chinese.

Musk holds strong views regarding human civilisation’s impact on the planet’s environment;

We’re running the most dangerous experiment in history right now, which is to see how much carbon dioxide the atmosphere … can handle before there is an environmental catastrophe.” – 17 April 2013

We are going to exit the fossil fuel era. It is inevitable. Right now we have an incentive structure that is designed to slow it down [transition from fossil fuels]. If countries decide to do a carbon tax or cap and trade, and it is real and not watered-down and weak, I think we can see a transition that is in the 15 to 20 years time frame as supposed to 40 to 50 years time frame. By putting a price on carbon, we are fixing a pricing error in the market. Any price will be better than the close to zero we have right now. ” –  2 December 2015

Burning oil is like taking furniture from your house and setting it on fire for heat.” – 1 July 2016

By definition, we must at some point achieve a sustainable energy economy or we will run out of fossil fuels to burn and civilization will collapse. Given that we must get off fossil fuels anyway and that virtually all scientists agree that dramatically increasing atmospheric and oceanic carbon levels is insane, the faster we achieve sustainability, the better.” – 20 July 2016

“  CO2 isn’t exactly pollution, but it does cause warming and slight acidification of water if very large quantities are dug from deep underground and added to the surface cycle. The problem is the age-old tragedy of the commons. The common good being consumed is atmospheric and oceanic carbon capacity, which currently has a price of zero. This results in an error in market signals and far more CO2 is generated than should be. We won’t ever go to zero CO2, but the rate over time should be dropped far below what it is today.”  – 26 January 2017

Musk’s views are clear. They are also in direct stark contrast to Trump’s own, stated belief, that global warming was a “hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to hobble American industry“.  By participating in Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, Musk appears to be an optimistic believer  in being inside the enemy’s tent pissing out, rather than vice versa.

At best, it was a naive belief.

On 27 May, Trump used his favourite medium to announce that he was going to… make an announcement;

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On 28 May, rumours began to circulate that Trump had already made up his mind and was going to make good on his threat to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord;

President Trump has privately told multiple people, including EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, that he plans to leave the Paris agreement on climate change, according to three sources with direct knowledge.

Publicly, Trump’s position is that he has not made up his mind and when we asked the White House about these private comments, Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks said, “I think his tweet was clear. He will make a decision this week.”

The same report claimed that “… the EPA staff are quietly working with outside supporters to place op eds favoring withdrawal from Paris“. Evidently, the more unpopular/unreasonable a political decision is, the more ‘spin’ is required to ‘massage the message’ and lull the masses back to sleep.

Trump’s appointee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, and fellow climate-change denier, Scott Pruitt, had been advocating since April for the US to withdraw from the Paris Accords;

Scott Pruitt, the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, has said that the US should back out of its commitment to the Paris climate agreement, the landmark plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions in a bid to limit global warming to below 2˚C.

This follows President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to cancel the agreement, with a decision on whether he will do so expected within the next month.

“It’s a bad deal for America,” Pruitt told cable news show Fox & Friends last week. “China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030.”

Pruitt  was being willfully disingenuous (ie; lying his head off);

“That statement is either deliberately misleading or woefully uninformed about what the Paris agreement is and what it does,” says Alden Meyer at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

China and India have already taken action to reach the goals they set for 2030, and China has committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by a higher percentage than US commitments. “Pruitt is really off the mark here,” Meyer says. “It’s very clear that China is going to overachieve its Paris objectives.”

Han Chen of the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York says that China implemented its first mandatory national cap on coal consumption last year and added three times as much wind capacity as the US in 2016.

“China already suspended over 100 planned or under-construction coal projects last year,” says Chen. “Meanwhile, the Trump administration wants policies that favor highly polluting fossil fuels. It’s no question which country is more ambitious on climate action at the moment.”

On 31  May, just days before Trump was due to officially announce what the entire world already knew, Elon Musk issued his own announcement;

 Tesla CEO Elon Musk threatened Wednesday to stop advising President Donald Trump if the White House withdraws from the Paris climate accords.

Asked on Twitter what he would do if Trump pulled out of the landmark global deal to curb emissions, Musk said…

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Musk, who also founded SpaceX, is on Trump’s manufacturing jobs council, his strategic and policy forum, and his infrastructure council. Musk has defended his role advising Trump in the face of some criticism from anti-Trump activists, arguing that they should want his voice in the discussions to offer views that differ from those of the president’s other advisors.

Sure enough, on 2 June (New Zealand time), Trump did not fail to disappoint an entire planet of  7.3 billion humans;

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Without any hint of self-awareness of irony, Trump stated;

“ The United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction, on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers.”

Trump’s arrogance was such that even the North Korean leadership (who are also a signatory to the Paris Accord) was moved to say the right thing at the right time;

A spokesman for the North Korean government described the move as the “height of egotism and moral vacuum seeking only their well-being even at the cost of the entire planet, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

“[The US] is ignorant of the fact that the protection of the global environment is in their own interests,” the spokesman added.

“The selfish act of the US does not only have grave consequences for the international efforts to protect the environment, but poses great danger to other areas as well.”

Following on from Trump’s announcement, Elon Musk  made good on his warning that he would not be a collaborator to any undermining of the Paris Accord;

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Musk further tweeted;

Under Paris deal, China committed to produce as much clean electricity by 2030 as the US does from all sources today

Musk was correct. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman,  Hua Chunying, declared  China’s intention to  persevere with the Paris Accord;

“ Climate change is a global challenge. No county can place itself outside of this. At the same time, we will continue to resolutely be a protector and promoter of the global climate system process, proactively participating in the multilateral climate change process. We are willing to work with all sides to jointly protect the Paris agreement process, promote the actual rules and regulations of the agreement in follow-up talks and effectively enact them, and promote global green, low carbon, sustainable development.”

China has strong motivation to reduce atmospheric pollution generated by human industrial activity;

China had fought previous attempts by foreign governments to limit carbon emissions, claiming it should be allowed the same space to develop and pollute that industrialized nations had.

But with its capital often choked by smog and its people angry about the environmental degradation that rapid development has wrought across the country, Beijing has become a strong proponent of efforts to halt global warming.

The consequences of runaway climate change could be devastating for China, it’s people, and it’s economy. According to Climate Scientist, Benjamin Strauss;

Roughly a quarter of the world’s people who live on land at risk from 4C warming are living in China. That is more that twice as many as who live on vulnerable land in Europe and the US combined. The Shanghai region by itself has more than 20 million people living on land that could be lost.

Spokesman for the Russian Federation, Dmitry Peskov, added his country’s voice to endorsing the Paris Accord;

“ President Vladimir Putin signed this convention when he was in Paris. Russia attaches great significance to it. At the same time, it goes without saying that the effectiveness of this convention is likely to be reduced without its key participants.”

Meanwhile, many Trump supporters; alt. right purveyors of lies and conspiracy-theories such as ‘Infowars‘ and ‘Brietbart‘;  and assorted right-wing conservatives like Anne Coulter and Mark Levin were falling over each other in their scramble to praise their Dear Leader for taking the planet closer to ecological melt-down. The American Right seem to be the only ones supporting Trump.

Ironically, big corporations have parted company with Trump and the American Right, siding instead with the science community;

Major U.S. corporations and leading business figures are raising an eleventh-hour appeal to President Donald Trump, urging him to not pull the country out of the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

[…]

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff tweeted Wednesday an image of an earlier joint open letter from over 20 top companies based in the U.S. or having business stateside, in which they made a business case that the U.S. should remain a part of the accord.

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In the face of  an intransigent anti-science cabal that now occupies the White House, aided by Republicans in control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the rest of Planet Earth has no choice but carry working to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, nitrous oxide, and methane).

People of influence such as Elon Musk must now reassess their options.

By fortuitous coincidence, one option is already available to Musk and is stated on his Tesla website;

Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.

Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.

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Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.

We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.

Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.

Musk has given away his electric car patents, promising “not [to]  initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.

He has indeed joined the Open Source movement. Open Source is described as “a decentralized development model that encourages open collaboration“. There is an element of socialist co-operative behaviour with OS.

However, simply stating that Musk will not stand in the way of  anyone who “wants to use [Tesla]  technology” is not enough.   This is an opportunity for Musk to counter Trump’s refusal to act decisively on climate change. This is Musk’s opportunity to show leadership where Trump – and other Republicans and conservatives – will not.

This is the proposal I have sent to Elon Musk, via Twitter;

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Frank Macskasy
New Zealand/Aotearoa – @fmacskasy

 

Kia Ora Mr Musk,

I wish to congratulate you on your principled decision to withdraw from Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum. Withdrawing the United States from the Paris Accord on climate change shows a disturbing lack of understanding by Trump and a refusal to understand the science behind climate change, and it’s impact on Planet Earth.

By rejecting the science and claiming that climate change is a “Chinese orchestrated hoax” implies that the Chinese government has exercised full-spectrum dominance and control over NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), American Geophysical Union (AGU), American Meteorological Society, American Physical Society, Geological Society of America, and many others. This is patently laughable.

Mr Musk, you are in a unique position to take a measure of leadership on this critical problem confronting humanity and the entire planet.

On your Tesla website, you have stated that you intend to allow people to use your electric car technology without any impediments created by patent-rights;

“Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.

Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”

Your generosity in removing patents to Tesla technology is the seed to which the Paris Accord can move forward with a giant leap.

Instead of just allowing access to Tesla technology, I propose that you engage with the Chinese government to set up Tesla car-manufacturing plants throughout the Chinese People’s Republic. You could stipulate that the only two provisos would be;

1. Each plant must be powered by renewable energy. No fossil fuel energy sources to be used.

2. All electric vehicles will be for domestic consumption only (if you so wish).

With the number of private vehicles in China estimated to each 464.9 to 557.7 million by 2050 (ref: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/251560842Modeling_future_vehicle_sales_and_stock_in_China) and with each typical car emitting approximately 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year (ref: https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/greenhouse-gas-emissions-typical-passenger-vehicle-0), it does not take much maths to work out how much extra CO2 will be pumped into the atmosphere by just one nation alone.

Your leadership on this problem would rival that of your SpaceX programme and ambitions for Mars.

You can achieve what Trump has failed in such a dismal fashion.

This would be a spectacular act of international co-operation with the future of the entire planet and our species at stake.

Mr Musk, you can be the visionary. If China is to have 557.7 million cars by 2050, let them be electric. Let them all be Teslas.

Best wishes,
-Frank Macskasy

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Solving the crisis of climate change will take a titanic, collective effort from us all.

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References

NASA: World of Change – Global Temperatures

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries:  History of Fossil Fuel Usage since the Industrial Revolution

Huffington Post:  Number Of Cars Worldwide Surpasses 1 Billion – Can The World Handle This Many Wheels?

Wall Street Journal:  China Soon to Have Almost as Many Drivers as U.S. Has People

News.Cn:  China’s car ownership reaches 172 million

South China Morning Post: China 2016 car sales surge at fastest rate in three years

Researchgate:  Modeling future vehicle sales and stock in China (p26)

US Environmental Protection Agency:  Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle

World Economic Forum: The number of cars worldwide is set to double by 2040

Wikipedia: Elon Musk

The Hill:  Trump names Elon Musk, Uber CEO to advisory team

Great Again:  President-Elect Donald J. Trump Announces Travis Kalanick of Uber, Elon Musk of SpaceX and Tesla, and Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo to Join President’s Strategic and Policy Forum

The Guardian:   The Minute – Trump promises Silicon Valley ‘bounce’

True Activist:  Donald Trump Appoints Elon Musk As Strategic Presidential Advisor

Twitter: Donald Trump – global warming Chinese hoax

USA Today: Icons – Elon Musk doesn’t let up at Tesla, SpaceX

Reuters:  Tesla’s Elon Musk says transition from fossil fuels inevitable

Twitter: Elon Musk – burning fossil fuel

Tesla: Master Plan, Part Deux

Gizmodo:  Gizmodo Chats With Elon Musk About Climate Change And Donald Trump

Twitter: Donald Trump – global warming Chinese hoax

Twitter: Donald Trump – Decision on Paris Accord

Axios:  Scoop – Trump tells confidants U.S. will quit Paris climate deal

New Scientist:  Environment chief says US should exit Paris climate agreement

CNBC:  Elon Musk threatens to leave White House advisory councils if Trump drops Paris accord

Twitter: Elon Musk – will have to resign from councils

Radio NZ:  Donald Trump withdraws US from Paris climate deal

RT News:  ‘Height of egotism’ – North Korea blasts US withdrawal from Paris climate accord

Twitter: Elon Musk – departing presidential councils

Twitter: Elon Musk – China committed to producing clean electricity

Scientific American: Ahead of Trump Decision, China Says It Will Stick to Paris Climate Deal

China Dialogue:  Chinese cities most at risk from rising sea levels

RT News: Russia confirms commitment to Paris climate change agreement amid fears of US pullout

Media Matters:  Right-wing media cheer Trump withdrawing United States from the Paris climate agreement

Fortune.Com: Top CEOs Are In a Last Ditch Bid to Persuade Trump to Stick with the Paris Climate Deal

Twitter: Marc Benioff – Decision on Paris Accord

Tesla: All Our Patent Are Belong To You

Wikipedia: Open Source Model

Twitter: Frank Macskasy – sharing Tesla

Previous related blogposts

Trumpwatch: One minute closer to midnight on the Doomsday Clock

Trumpwatch: What’s a few more nails in the planet’s coffin?

 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 June 2017.

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= fs =

The Scalise Shooting: this solves nothing!

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A few days ago;

Congressman Steve Scalise, the No. 3 Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, was in critical condition on Wednesday night after he and three others were shot as they practiced for a charity baseball game.

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Also wounded were a congressional aide and one former aide who now works as a lobbyist, officials said. One Capitol Hill police officer suffered a gunshot wound and another officer twisted an ankle and was released from a hospital, police said.

Reports indicate that the gunman, who was shot and killed, was a Bernie Sanders supporter;

It quickly emerged the [gunman], had posted anti-Trump messages on his social media accounts and campaigned on behalf of Mr Sanders, the Left-wing Senator who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Whatever my  thoughts and feelings toward those on the Right – including this current Trump Administration – the actions of the shooter (who will  not be named here) in Washington D.C. cannot be condoned. In fact, when news of the shooting came through on Radio NZ, I felt sick in my stomach.

For at least three reasons, political assassination must never be allowed to become a social norm;

  1. The person who resorts to a weapon to silence an opponent has lost the contest of ideas. It elevates the value of  an assassinated person’s ideas. In effect, they have been martyred, and history is full of examples, whether it be Ghandi or Martin Luther King Jr.
  2. Whatever one thinks of a political opponent, they too have families who will mourn their violent death. Their partner and children do not deserve such a tragedy in their lives.
  3. It’s just plain wrong.

As well, the gunman has undermined and damaged his own ideology. Supporters of Bernie Sanders will now share the odium of one disturbed assassin’s crime.

Already, those inclined toward conspiracy theories have jumped on this shooting for their own agenda;

It didn’t take long for some to connect the shooting to Sanders himself. One person in particular, Jack Posobiec — a Trump supporter who has pushed the conspiracy theory surrounding DNC staffer Seth Rich’s death — especially fueled that idea.

“Just 4 days ago Bernie Sanders ordered his followers to ‘take down’ Trump,” he tweeted.

However,

Sanders did not say that. Posobiec seemed to pull it from a CNN headline that describes Sanders’ nearly hourlong speech at Sunday’s People’s Summit.

The headline, “Sanders to faithful: Take down Trump, take over Democratic Party,” refers to Sanders’ message of resistance to the establishment rule, one that he campaigned on and since has reiterated, and his strong criticism of Trump.

Sanders called Trump “perhaps the worst and most dangerous president in the history of our country” in his speech and ended by saying, “I want you to think about the incredibly brave heroes and heroines in our history against unbelievably daunting odds who risked their lives for social justice, for economic justice, for racial justice.”

But he did not at any point say anyone should “take down” the president.

If  this blogger were of a mind to resort to invented fantastical conspiracy theories, one could posit that the Scalise shooting may have been a “false flag” black-ops carried out by Trump supporters to (a) undermine Sanders’ credibility and (b) create sympathy for Trump.

Conspiracy theories are easy to invent; they require a simple idea; a small element of truth (or a mutated variety of it); and a strand of apparent logic.

But there is zero evidence for such a conspiracy.

The plain truth of the matter is that one disturbed, angry, frustrated individual, with typical American-style access to firearms, took it upon himself to decide who lives and who dies based purely on his own prejudices.

That is unacceptable.

It was unacceptable when successive US governments assassinated political enemies in foreign lands, or the Putin government assassinated it’s critics domestically or abroad.

As a self-professed “leftie” myself, I dis-own the actions of one man. He does not speak nor act for me. If I ‘attack’ Trump and his party, it will be with words and ideas. If I ‘attack’ Trump, it will be on issues; his policies; and  his actions (or non-actions). If I ‘attack’ Trump, it will not be in such a way as to cause his family to grieve his death.

For example, I will criticise Trump because of his apparent selective morality;

Mr Trump later visited the hospital where Mr Scalise was recovering. The president then tweeted: “Rep. Steve Scalise, one of the truly great people, is in very tough shape – but he is a real fighter. Pray for Steve!”

The president, accompanied to the hospital by his wife Melania, sat by Mr Scalise’s bedside and spoke with his family.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer describeD the scene in the intensive care unit as “emotional.”

It is disconcerting that – as far as this blogger is aware – Trump never visited the sole survivor of three men who stood up to a racist bigot threatening two young women in Portland;

Pressure is mounting on Donald Trump to address the fatal stabbing of several men who tried to protect a Muslim teenager from being subject to a racist rant on a train.

53-year-old Ricky Best and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche were killed after they tried to stop Jeremy Christian from hurling abuse at two women, one of whom was wearing a hijab.

A third passenger, 21-year-old Micah David-Cole Fletcher, was wounded.

Ted Wheeler, the Portland mayor, and the FBI have condemned the killings.

The President has not mentioned the attack by Christian, a man who has been described as a white supremacist, yet Mr Trump has continued to actively use social media.

Tweets since the attack include his “big results” from the trip to Europe, “fake news” and health care, and he has even praised the newly-elected Republican representative in Montana who allegedly assaulted a Guardian journalist at a campaign event. 

Veteran journalist Dan Rather made an appeal on Facebook for the President to name the “brave Americans” killed in the attack, and his post has been commented on and shared more than 340,000 times.

“I wish we would hear you say these names, or even just tweet them,” Mr Rather said. 

When there was a comment from the White House, the supposed tweet from Trump was – irony of ironies – apparently  “fake”. It was most likely written by a White House staffer;

After pressure mounted on Donald Trump to comment on the racist attack in Portland, Oregon that left two men dead on Friday, the president said on Monday the attack was “unacceptable”.

Trump’s words were broadcast on the @POTUS Twitter account, rather than the more commonly used @RealDonaldTrump, on Monday morning, shortly before Trump marked Memorial Day with a speech at Arlington national cemetery in Virginia.

“The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable,” the tweet read. “The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them.”

The @POTUS  tweet does not sound like Trump’s style of writing on that particular medium.

Have I ‘attacked’ Trump?

Yes I have. And for damned good reason. But no violence was used.

No one died. No blood was spilled.

This is how a contest of ideas should – must! – take place in a civilised society.

Otherwise we are still cave-swelling barbarians – albeit with high-tech weapons, reality tv, and delusions of civility. To be a gun-wielding maniac, whether from the Right or Left, is to surrender to our worst urges. No intelligent thought, creative imagination, or insights required.

When one of “Our Own” from the Left or Right resorts to violence, we have to own that person. In this case, the Left has to take ownership of the Washington gunman and remind ourselves; this is not the way.

When a  Norwegian neo-fascist terrorist murdered seventyseven people in his own country, we demanded that the Right take responsibility for his actions.

The Left should  do no less.

Final note

After the attempted assassination of President Reagan, on 30 March 1981, US Congress passed into law the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. The Act restricted access to firearms and was supported by President Reagan, and passed into law by President Clinton on 30 November 1993.

After this attack on one of their own, Republican lawmakers might re-visit their recent history when it comes to gun-control.

A bullet makes no distinction between Republicans and Democrats. Only the person wielding the gun does that.

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References

Reuters: Scalise in critical condition after attack by gunman at baseball field

The Telegraph:  Donald Trump visits Steve Scalise in hospital after Republican congressman shot at baseball practice

The LA Times: How fake news starts – Trump supporters tie Bernie Sanders to Alexandria shooting using a fake quote

The Independent:  Portland attack – Calls mount for Donald Trump to address fatal stabbing of ‘brave men’ who tried to protect Muslim teenager on train

The Guardian:  Portland attack – Trump says victims stood up to ‘hate and intolerance’

Wikipedia: Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act

Previous related blogposts

The Portland Heroes – the indomitable human spirit at its finest

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 June 2017.

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Letter to the editor – Bill English admits immigration driving economy

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from:      Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:           Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date:      12 June 2017
subject: Letter to the editor

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The Editor
Dominion Post

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On 16 June last year, then-Finance Minister, Bill English attributed our growth to “other sectors” of the economy;

“Despite the dairy sector continuing to be under pressure, other sectors are performing well and contributing to an overall solid rate of economic growth.”

He never acknowledged the role played by massive immigration in our so-called “economic growth”. To do so would admit that our “growth” was artificial and unsustainable, and putting pressure on housing and social services.

As Labour unveiled it’s new immigration policy this week, English was forced to concede;

“A 30,000 reduction in migration right now will stall the economy, it’ll deprive businesses of the skills they need to enable them to make the investments they want to make, to grow New Zealand. “

It’s official: our “growth” is an illusion.

Like a “sugar hit” from junk-food, immigration is not really energising our economy. On 18 March last year, English admitted that real national disposable income-per-capita fell by 0.4%. Again, he put the blame anywhere but at immigration;

“You’ve got a big drop in national income, because dairy prices are down.”

Again he let slip;

“At the same time you’ve had surprisingly high migration numbers. So it’s not surprising that when you work the figures you get a drop in national disposable income.”

Like Auckland’s ballooning house-bubble prices, economic “growth” based on migration is a mirage. Eventually those balloons will burst and we’ll be left to tidy up National’s nasty mess.

It beggars belief how National ever gain it’s reputation for “sound economic stewardship”.

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-Frank Macskasy

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[address and phone number supplied]

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References

Fairfax media:  Labour unveils plans to stop foreign students’ ‘backdoor immigration’ rort

Radio NZ:  Incomes dropping despite GDP growth, English admits

Fairfax media:  New Zealand’s economic growth driven almost exclusively by rising population

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 June 2017.

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National continues to panic on housing crisis as election day looms

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The Grand Announcement!

On 3 June, National announced with great fanfare that additional state housing would be made available in Tauranga  and  Papamoa;

Almost 220 new social and transitional places are on the way for Tauranga and Papamoa, the Government has today confirmed.

“We’re on track to have 68 short term transitional housing places available in Tauranga and Papamoa by the end of the year. This will mean we can support up to 272 families in Tauranga and Papamoa every year while long term solutions are found,” says Ms Adams.

“Of those 68 places, 21 places are already open.

“Across the wider Bay of Plenty region, we will be providing a total of 146 transitional housing places meaning we’ll be able to help 584 families every year,” says Ms Adams.

“These houses are in addition to the 290 social houses we’re planning to secure in the Bay of Plenty. These new properties will be a welcome addition to the region, which is an area of growing need.”

Minister Amy Adams emphasised,

“We are working hard alongside providers to address the demand on social housing and help those most in need of warm, safe housing.”

Except…

Which would be fine – except that in December last year, National signed an agreement to sell off 1,138 state houses to IHC subsidiary, Accessible Properties;

Accessible Properties has signed a contract with the Government confirming it will acquire and manage 1,140  [actually 1,138] state homes in Tauranga, and plans to add 150 more houses to its portfolio.

The 1140 homes are currently with Housing New Zealand and will transfer on April 1, 2017. The contract was signed today and Housing New Zealand tenants are receiving letters this week explaining the change of ownership.

It was a similar deal to the one  the Salvation Army walked away from in March 2015;

The Government’s plan to sell off unwanted state houses to community housing providers has been dealt a massive blow with the Salvation Army walking away from the negotiation table.

The Salvation Army announced today it lacked the expertise, infrastructure and resources to deal with the number of houses and tenants that the Government wanted to offload.

[…]

Salvation Army social housing spokesman Major Campbell Roberts said the Government had underestimated the complexity of the task.

“I don’t think there has been enough thinking gone into it.”

Roberts said the current “Housing New Zealand monopoly” wasn’t working, but handing social housing over to single community organisations, like the Salvation Army, would fail.

Community Housing Aotearoa director Scott Figenshow rightly pointed out;

“ Last month the Government confirmed $1.2 billion of deferred maintenance on the state housing stock. Why would a provider want to purchase a liability? ”

IHC/Accessible Properties showed no such hesitation and on 1 April this year the sale was completed. Accessible Properties’ CEO,  Greg Orchard, appeared very pleased with the deal;

“The properties have been assessed as being at a very good standard – we will maintain this and seek to make improvements.”

The sale of the properties took place at the same time that Tauranga was experiencing a housing crisis similar to Auckland’s;

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Which means…

National’s “grand plans” for 220 new social and transitional places remains woefully short of the 1,138 houses that National sold off to IHC’s Accessible Properties at the end of March.

It is also unclear what is meant by “ transitional places“. Are these actual houses? Or motel units, à la Auckland-style;

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Only National would have the brazenness to sell off 1,138 state houses and then announce one-fifth of that number of “new houses” as some sort of “stunning achievement”.

Worse still is National’s over-all record when it comes to State housing;

In 2008, Housing NZ’s state housing stock comprised of  69,000 rental properties.

By 2016, that number had fallen to 61,600 (plus a further 2,700 leased) – a dramatic shortfall of 7,400 properties.

No  wonder we have families living in cars in the second decade of the 21st Century.

Where did those state houses end up?

Promises made…

In September 2009, then-Housing Minister, Phil Heatley, announced that state house tenants would be allowed to purchase the state houses they were living in;

From today those state house tenants in a position to buy the house they live in can do so, says Housing Minister Phil Heatley.

[…]

Over the next week, Housing New Zealand will be approaching about 3,800 state tenants who pay market rent and live in a home that is available for purchase, to make them aware of the opportunity.

[…]

To ensure a property is not on-sold to developers, a tenant who purchases their state house will be unable to reapply for a state house for three years from the date of purchase.

Heatley specifically made clear his opposition to state houses ending up in the hands of anyone but occupying tenants.

In January 2015, our then-Dear Leader, Key, repeated National’s plans to sell state houses – but only to social service providers;

We’ll then look to sell between 1,000 and 2,000 Housing New Zealand properties over the following year for use as social housing run by approved community housing providers.

In doing so, we’ll use open and competitive processes.

Community housing providers may want to buy properties on their own, or they may go into partnership with other organisations who lend them money, contribute equity, or provide other services.

Properties will have to stay in social housing unless the government agrees otherwise, and existing tenants will continue to be housed for the duration of their need.

Selling properties in this way doesn’t reduce the number of social housing places. It just means more of the tenancies will be managed by a non-government housing provider rather than Housing New Zealand.

We’re very conscious that the sale of properties has to work for taxpayers.

We’re looking to get a fair and reasonable price for these properties, bearing in mind they’re being sold as ongoing social houses with high-need tenants.

We’re not selling them as private homes or rentals.

Note his unequivocal guarantee; “We’re not selling them as private homes or rentals”.

As with many of Key’s statements, he was somewhat ‘loose’ with truthfulness.

Promises broken.

By May this year, it became very apparent where many of the 7,400 state houses sold off by National had ended up;

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The article by Virginia Fallon makes this extraordinary revelation;

While the Devon St sale gives buyers the chance to choose their neighbours, it marks a bittersweet ending for Kay Hood, who once owned 80 per cent of the street.

“I would have liked to have bought the sixth one, that’s the only eyesore,” she said.

Over 20 years, Hood and husband Peter bought five houses on the street, and she wishes the last one never got away.

“We bought them off Housing Corp and I did approach them for the last one, but we never got it.”

We bought them off Housing Corp…”?!

So while entire families are camping out in cars, garages, or  –  if they are lucky – motel rooms, private investors have ‘snapped up’ State House properties.

In this case, the Hoods on-sold their investments (ie, former state houses), and were candid in their plans;

“ We’re going to go skiing and spend the children’s inheritance. ”

Personally, I hold no antipathy toward the Hoods. In our current social climate of  hyper-individualism  combined with a degree of moral ambiguity, many of our fellow New Zealanders have exploited opportunities for speculation such as this.

But I do hold 100% responsible John Key and his fellow Ministers-of-the-Crown who allowed this travesty to occur.

More so John Key, who benefitted from a state house in his youth;

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The over-powering stench I can smell is either a dead, rotting whale on my front lawn – or Key’s appalling hypocrisy.

The sound of a train-wreck hurtling toward you

It is abundantly clear that National is panicking over the issue of housing.

Whether it is homelessness or over-crowding by poor families, or home unaffordability for middle-class Millenials, National has managed to spectacularly cock this up.

New Zealanders may be able to tolerate poverty. This country has had varying degrees of poverty since the Year Dot.

But the notion of homelessness is more than they can stomach. Homelessness strikes at the very core of the “Kiwi Dream”, where a roof over your head and a place to raise a family is one of our strongest values. (The other being the now-mythical notion of egalitarianism. That social ideal had the life throttled out of  it after 1984.)

Housing-related problems (I refuse to call them “issues”) for National keep mounting in a Trump-like way.

On 8 June, on Radio NZ, Major Campbell Roberts (the same Maj. Roberts who, in 2015, had thoroughly rejected National’s invitation to buy properties from Housing NZ)  from the Salvation Army’s social policy unit, had been invited by then Finance Minister English to become part of National’s Housing Shareholders Advisory Group.

Maj. Roberts revealed that now-Dear Leader, Bill English, had described a looming housing crisis as far back as 2010;

“ He [Mr English] said a couple of things; one, the use of of the $15 billion asset of Housing New Zealand, and the second was that he was seeing a major crisis in Auckland in housing in five or six years.  It was a passing comment – but it was one of the reasons for setting up the shareholders group.

English’s prediction has eerily come to fruition;

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Unsurprisingly, English rejected Maj. Robert’s revelations using a highly effective technique from his predecessor. One of English’s tax-payer funded spin-doctors said,

The Prime Minister was having a number of such conversations on housing reform at the time, including with a housing advisory group which included the Salvation Army, and he doesn’t recall exactly what he said.

Who else had memory problems when it came to potentially embarrassing gaffs and scandals?

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Meanwhile, in a latest move to dampen the ballooning housing market, the Reserve Bank is contemplating adding a new “tool” to it’s regulatory powers. The RBNZ wants to cap  debt-to-value ratios at five times a borrower’s income;

The Reserve Bank wants to be able to stop people taking out mortgages that are too big compared to their incomes.

It wants debt-to-income restrictions (DTIs), which limit the amount that people can borrow to a multiple of their income, added to its macroprudential toolkit, alongside loan-to-value (LVR) restrictions.

The restrictions are used in other markets around the world, such as Britain, where borrowers must have a loan no bigger than 4.5 times their income. The Reserve Bank is suggesting a limit of five times.

The size of New Zealand mortgages compared to incomes has increased sharply over the past 30 years. The Reserve Bank said increases since 2014 partly reflected the drop in interest rates over that time, but it was possible that rates could rise again in future.

The RBNZ estimates debt-to-income restrictions could prevent 8,800 investors from buying a property. But 1,600 First Home buyers  would also be caught up in stringent DTI restrictions and locked out of  owning their home.

The Bank’s chief agenda is to prevent a massive housing crash that would impact on the economy; cause mass unemployment; and result in thousands losing their homes through mortgage defaulting;

The housing market could collapse if mortgage rates rise to 7 percent, given the increasing numbers of households heavily in debt, the Reserve Bank says.

The Reserve Bank stress-tested the ability of borrowers to cope with mortgage rates at 7 percent, which is close to the average two-year mortgage rate over the past decade.

It found 4 percent of all borrowers, and 5 percent of recent ones, would be put under severe stress where they could not meet day-to-day bills for food and power.

Auckland borrowers appear particularly vulnerable to higher rates, with 5 percent estimated to face severe stress.

[…]

“So that if a downturn comes, you don’t get a whole lot of forced sales coming onto the market that depresses house prices even further, and create a risk for the banking system and also the broader economy.”

All because National ignored a crisis that Bill English predicted seven years ago, and could have dampened with a capital gains tax equivalent to company tax, and stopping investors from claiming tax deductions on mortgage interest payments.

It is bizarre and inequitable that tax-payers are in effect subsidising investor/speculators on their investments. Especially when, after two years, those properties can be on-sold with little or no capital gains tax paid.

If the RBNZ introduces a debt-to-income ratio of five times a person’s income, it may well succeed in dampening down the property bubble.

But as usual, it will be those at the bottom (or near the bottom) who pay the price. They will be the ones who continue to be locked out of the property market and denied a chance to enjoy the Kiwi Dream of home ownership.

The resentment and anger this will cause cannot be over-stated.

The sound in Bill English’s ear is the roar of a train wreck bearing down on him and his hopeless, self-serving ‘government’. ETA for the crash: 23 September.

All because National stubbornly refused to act to curb property speculation.

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References

Scoop media:  More social housing coming on board in Tauranga & Papamoa

NZ Herald:   Government sells off Tauranga’s state housing portfolio to Accessible Properties

Accessible Properties:  What is happening?

Fairfax media:  Salvation Army says no to state houses

Bay of Plenty Times:  Accessible Properties takes over state homes

TVNZ News:  Housing crisis hits Tauranga, forcing families into garages and cars

Bay of Plenty Times:  Tauranga’s homeless problem at ‘crisis point’

Sunlive: Housing crisis under the spotlight

Radio NZ:  Housing situation critical – Tauranga principal

Tauranga Budget Advisory:  City’s Rental Housing In Crisis

NZ Herald:   Govt to buy more motels to house homeless as its role in emergency housing grows

Housing NZ: Annual Report 2008/09

Housing NZ: Annual Report 2015/16

Beehive:  State houses available to buy from today

Fairfax media:  John Key Speech – Next steps in social housing

Fairfax media:  Can’t afford your own island? How about buying your very own street?

NZ Herald:  Prime Minister John Key’s childhood state house up for sale as Government offers 2500 properties to NGOs

Radio NZ:  PM spoke of housing crisis in 2010 – Sallies

Otago Daily Times:  Auckland housing crisis expected to drag on

Fairfax media:  PM talked of major housing crisis – Salvation Army

Dominion Post:  Editorial – Prime Minister’s bad memory embarrassing

Fairfax media:  Debt-to-income ratio would stop thousands from buying houses – RBNZ

RBNZ: Consultation Paper – Serviceability Restrictions as a Potential Macroprudential Tool in New Zealand  (p26)

Radio NZ:  Housing market could collapse on 7 percent mortgage rates

IRD: Residential property

IRD: Taxation (Bright-Line Test for Residential Land) Act 2015

Additional

NZ Herald: Key admits underclass still growing

NewstalkZB: Demand for food banks, emergency housing much higher than before recession

Previous related blogposts

Budget 2013: State Housing and the War on Poor

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 10 June 2017.

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Kiwis say ‘no’ to Trump’s climate denial – Wellington protest at Tillerson visit

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Wellington, NZ, 6 June 2017: Global warming has not entirely eliminated cold, wet Wellington wintry-days. With the capital city shrouded in grey cloud-cover, and washed with a constant chilly drizzle, New Zealanders ignored their discomfort to stand on Parliament’s grounds. They were protesting the visit of US secretary of State and former Exxon-Mobil CEO, Rex Tillerson.

The lunch-time protest started with a small handful of hardy souls;

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog The Daily Blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com trump - rex tillerson - climate change - paris accord - global warming

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The very first placard came from Jo;

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The  Bernis indeed not a happy fellow after Trump’s announcement to pull out from the Paris Accords;

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“ President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement is an abdication of American leadership and an international disgrace. At this moment, when climate change is already causing devastating harm around the world, we do not have the moral right to turn our backs on efforts to preserve this planet for future generations.

The United States must play a leading role in the global campaign to stop climate change and transition rapidly away from fossil fuels to renewable and more efficient sources of energy. We must do this with or without the support of Donald Trump and the fossil fuel industry.”

Jo was joined by Max and Barbara with their home-crafted placards;

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Others were arriving and the protest group numbers swelled, despite the rain. Chad and Jack voiced their views clearly on their placards;

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Note the hashtag, #exxonknew – more on that point shortly.

Journalists from the msm started to arrive;

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(Another) Jack, and Kate, with one sign adapting Trump’s election-campaign slogan to better effect. Would it be asking too much from Bill English and Gerry Brownlee to take Kate’s hint?

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There was a wide range of ages, reflecting the reality that climate change affected us all, and none are exempt;

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Nearly every placard was individually hand-made. Very few were mass-produced printed. Clustered around a sign written obviously by grandparents, Robbie and Keith (holding “Grandkid’s earth sign) and Eva and Lynn, charging Tillerson to be a climate criminal;

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An appearance by The Donald himself. Or a doppelgänger. Hard to tell the difference;

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This woman reminded us of the struggle by Native American tribe Standing Rock Sioux  to oppose the Dakota Keystone XL oil pipelines;

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog The Daily Blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com trump - rex tillerson - climate change - paris accord - global warming

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As reported by  The Guardian;

After more than a year of protests at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, thousands of Native Americans and activists brought the fight to the nation’s capital to demand indigenous rights and raise awareness about issues affecting the communities.

The event, the culmination of a four-day protest in the capital, was led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has been involved in a longstanding dispute with authorities over the construction of an oil pipeline in North Dakota, culminating in a two-mile march through Washington and rally in front of the White House.

[…]

Opponents of the $3.8bn pipeline say the project threatens their water supply from the Missouri river, crosses sacred land and was approved without proper consultation with tribal leaders and without a thorough study of impacts.

[…]

LeeAnn Eastman, of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe on the Lake Traverse Indian reservation in South Dakota, doubted Trump was standing at the window watching their protest – but she said their message was breaking through.

“They woke up a giant when they told us they were just going to put this pipeline through our land, our sacred land,” she said. “We do everything peacefully, prayerfully, but we’re not going to let him just walk all over us like that and contaminate our water.”

Within half an hour, numbers had swelled to a couple of hundred people. Not bad for a miserable day;

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog The Daily Blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com trump - rex tillerson - climate change - paris accord - global warming

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The Green Party was very much a visible presence. For the Green movement, confronting atmospheric pollution and subsequent climate change is their raison d’être;

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Labour’s Grant Robertson and Green Party co-leader, James Shaw, sheltering under a green umbrella. This was perhaps more symbolic than intended, suggesting the evolving ‘greening’ of political parties worldwide;

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Hugh held up a sign which held more relevance than most people might have been aware of;

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According to a report from Scientific American, Exxon has known for the last forty years that fossil fuels were leading to climate change. They kept it a secret;

Exxon was aware of climate change, as early as 1977, 11 years before it became a public issue, according to a recent investigation from InsideClimate News. This knowledge did not prevent the company (now ExxonMobil and the world’s largest oil and gas company) from spending decades refusing to publicly acknowledge climate change and even promoting climate misinformation—an approach many have likened to the lies spread by the tobacco industry regarding the health risks of smoking. Both industries were conscious that their products wouldn’t stay profitable once the world understood the risks, so much so that they used the same consultants to develop strategies on how to communicate with the public.  

Experts, however, aren’t terribly surprised. “It’s never been remotely plausible that they did not understand the science,” says Naomi Oreskes, a history of science professor at Harvard University. But as it turns out, Exxon didn’t just understand the science, the company actively engaged with it. In the 1970s and 1980s it employed top scientists to look into the issue and launched its own ambitious research program that empirically sampled carbon dioxide and built rigorous climate models. Exxon even spent more than $1 million on a tanker project that would tackle how much CO2 is absorbed by the oceans. It was one of the biggest scientific questions of the time, meaning that Exxon was truly conducting unprecedented research. 

[…]

One thing is certain: in June 1988, when NASA scientist James Hansen told a congressional hearing that the planet was already warming, Exxon remained publicly convinced that the science was still controversial. Furthermore, experts agree that Exxon became a leader in campaigns of confusion. By 1989 the company had helped create the Global Climate Coalition (disbanded in 2002) to question the scientific basis for concern about climate change. It also helped to prevent the U.S. from signing the international treaty on climate known as the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 to control greenhouse gases. Exxon’s tactic not only worked on the U.S. but also stopped other countries, such as China and India, from signing the treaty. At that point, “a lot of things unraveled,” Oreskes says.

But experts are still piecing together Exxon’s misconception puzzle. Last summer the Union of Concerned Scientists released a complementary investigation to the one by InsideClimate News, known as the Climate Deception Dossiers. “We included a memo of a coalition of fossil-fuel companies where they pledge basically to launch a big communications effort to sow doubt,” says union president Kenneth Kimmel. “There’s even a quote in it that says something like ‘Victory will be achieved when the average person is uncertain about climate science.’ So it’s pretty stark.”

Rex Tillerson joined Exxon in 1975 and rose through the ranks, becoming CEO of ExxonMobil from 2006 to 2016.

On 2 June this year, CNN announced;

The office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says it has evidence that ExxonMobil misled shareholders about how carbon regulations may impact the company’s business.

And possibly even more damaging, the prosecutor says company document indicate that ex-CEO Rex Tillerson, who is now Secretary of State, knew all about it.

In documents filed in court Friday, investigators say they found “secret, internal figures” that indicate the company purposefully understated the financial damage that climate change regulations could have on its business, and potentially did so as far back as 2007.

The filings also allege there is evidence that appears to confirm Tillerson knew about the deception, and condoned it.

The CNN report contained an unusual revelation about Tillerson’s alleged shady activities;

Tillerson has been a big part of Schneiderman’s probe into the oil and gas company since it began in 2015. One of its bombshell revelations was that Tillerson used a fake email under the name “Wayne Tracker,” to discuss climate change internally.

A new filing posted Friday suggests that the new Exxon chief, Darren Woods, also has an alias corporate email account. He allegedly goes by the name of J.E. Gray. Exxon confirmed the account was set up for Woods, but it was intended to “manage a high volume of messages” and has never been used.

So much for Trump “draining the swamp”.  New species of swamp-critters have well and truly returned to the White House.

Protestor, Frances, held no illusions as to the nature of Trump and his appointee, Rex Tillerson;

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Frances remarked that far from being “anti-establishment”, the Trump Administration was a continuation of the Establishment owning politicians in the US.

Roger’s sign became even more appropriate under the circumstances. Note the small print;

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‘350’ organisers Allan and Jesse welcomed the people and thanked them for turning up on such a cold, miserable day;

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First speaker was Mahinarangi Baker – Te Atiawa, Ngatoa, Raukawa;

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Mahinarangi warned of the effects of climate change here in Aotearoa, with  more extreme weather events; increasing coastal erosion; and environmental disasters such as  Edgecumbe. She said that climate change  put all our communities at great risk and demanded that government put the safety of our people before the interests of the  fossil fuel industry.

Mahinarangi was contemptuous of the response from government representatives, which she described as  “atrociously weak”. Mahinarangi was not impressed with Climate Change Minister, Paula Bennett saying  “she respected the decision that Trump has made”; Foreign Affairs ministers, Gerry Brownlee saying  he would  help Trump renegotiate the Paris agreement, and nothing but total silence from Prime Minister,  Bill English.

Mahinarangi criticised government subsidies for the  oil exploration industry.

Mahinarangi was followed by Green Party co-leader, James Shaw, who received strong applause from the crowd;

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Shaw told the protesters;

“ New Zealand is at risk of more fires, more floods, and longer and deeper droughts. That is a risk to us and to our way of life here in New Zealand and in the Pacific and around the world. It’s not good enough merely for our government to stand around and say, ‘well, they’re a democratically government, they can pull out if they want to’.

He added,

“ As a country with an independent foreign policy we have an ability to stand with our close friends, the Americans, and take them aside and to say, ‘this isn’t good enough, you know’. And we should have the strength of character to do that.

Shaw told the protesters that he was inspired by them, especially for coming out on such a cold, wet day to make a point. He said he  condemned the actions of the American administration and  referred to Tillerson as ‘T-Rex, the climate dinosaur’.

Shaw was followed by Grant Robertson;

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Robertson described the Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Accords as immoral and a crime against future generations. He said,

“ In this country today we have a government that is not taking climate change seriously, that put up a pathetic offer at the Paris agreement. So the one good thing we can take out of today and what the US has done, that it is a chance for NZ to say once and for all, we will have a low carbon future; we will do what it takes to reduce our emissions; we will play our part, as we have before on the world stage as a leader. So the clear message I am sending on behalf of the Labour Party today, to the United States, ‘you are on the wrong side of of history, you need to get on the right side of the Future for every generation to come.

His speech was met with loud cheers and clapping and was in stark contrast to the muted  response  that National had thus far given. Grant Robertson’s speech harked back to the  1970s when New Zealand took to the world stage to oppose French atomic-bomb testing and the apartheid regime in South Africa.

As the speakers and protesters  inter-acted, another event was taking place on the Parliamentary forecourt, where three policemen stood. Note what one of them held in his hands, covered by a blue cloth;

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It was a camera with what appeared to be a long telephoto  lens;

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The policeman was obviously taking surreptitious photos of the protesters;

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As the policeman noticed that he was being observed, and  his actions photographed, he turned and walked away, escorted by one of his colleagues;

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Governments that fear or distrust their own people often use their security forces to monitor and record details of dissident citizens. New Zealand has obviously  become one of those nations.

Tasers and  and surreptitious  photographing? The  former Stasi  would nod approvingly at these unnecessary methods.

The question arises; what will the police do with those images?

Tim held up the the one word Trump loves to use in his Twitterings. It also happens to sum up Trump’s presidency and his apparent total abdication to address critical problems confronting the environment;

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Meanwhile, back at Wellington Airport…

Tillerson’s jet was parked on the tarmac, adjacent to the RNZAF terminal;

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The high-pitched whine of the parked aircraft’s engines could be clearly heard from a distance. Perhaps the engineers were keeping the turbines warm in the cold, damp air for optimum performance.

Or a fast getaway.

 

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References

The Independent:  Bernie Sanders tears into Trump for pulling out of Paris Agreement – ‘It is a disgrace’

The Guardian:  Native Americans take Dakota Access pipeline protest to Washington

Scientific American:  Exxon Knew about Climate Change almost 40 years ago

Wikipedia: Rex Tillerson

CNN:  Under Tillerson, Exxon may have misled investors on climate change, NY claims

Additional

BBC:  US diplomat in China quits ‘over Trump climate change policy’

Contact

350 Aotearoa

350 Aotearoa Facebook

Previous related blogposts

Anti-Deep Sea Drilling Wellingtonians Take To The Streets (part tahi)

Key’s challenge to Deep Sea Oil Drilling Protesters

Anadarko: Key playing with fire

Citizens face Police armed with tasers at Wellington TPPA protest march

Citizens march against TPPA in Wellington: Did Police hide tasers at TPPA march?

Trumpwatch – What’s a few more nails in the planet’s coffin?

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

Acknowledgement

Thank you to Deborah L  for allowing me to use her Nikon D3200 camera for the event.

 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 8 June 2017.

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The Portland Heroes – the indomitable human spirit at its finest

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Nine years ago, a so-called “ordinary” New Zealander,  Austin Hemmings, 44, came to the aid of a woman being assaulted in an Auckland street. In the fracas, he was mortally wounded and died;

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Austin Hemmings

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The woman Austin Hemmings died trying to save says he stood in front of her to shield her from a knife-wielding attacker and ordered her to run just moments before he was stabbed to death.

“Who does that? Who dies for someone they don’t know?” the woman told the Sunday Star-Times yesterday in her first interview since her September 25 ordeal.

 The 26-year-old West Auckland woman, who has name suppression, calls Hemmings her guardian angel and says he stayed calm as he tried to talk to the attacker.

The woman had taken a break from her job at the call centre in a downtown Auckland office block to talk to a male friend on her cellphone when she was approached by a man she recognised as her cousin. She waved at him and he started talking to her. “It was really confrontational, up in my face.”

Frightened, she told the friend on the phone to call the police. “I just got frozen and all that came out of my mouth was `Help, can somebody help me?’ And there was no one until Austin came.”

She said she saw Hemmings, who had just left work, out of the corner of her eye.

“I said, `Excuse me, sir, can you please help me?’ He just stood in the middle of myself and [the accused] and just said to him, `What’s going on here?’ And [the accused] ignored him and said `Get out of the way, it’s none of your business’.

“And Austin was like, `I’m sorry, I can’t do that, I can’t leave you to do what you’re doing’ sort of thing.

Less than a minute later, Hemmings turned to her.

“All I can remember is him saying, `Run!’ And I get to the lift and it’s so unreal, you press the elevator and it’s not there. I remember thinking, `Are you serious?’ And [the accused] was running after me, and I prayed that someone would be in the elevator, and it comes. No one. My heart sank, and I thought, `Is this what it’s meant to be’?”

The doors opened. They fought in the lift. “I prayed not to black out … I pushed him out with all that was left in me.”

He fell, got up and ran, and the lift doors closed. They opened again on the floor of her work. “All I remember is our receptionist’s eyes wide open. I said, `Call the cops’.”

Her nose and lips were bleeding. Her colleagues wiped her down with paper towels before police arrived and took her back down to the street.

She says she asked people if they knew what happened to the man who’d helped her. “No one answered me.”

Then she was checked over by an ambulance officer. “I said, `How’s that man?’ and he stopped for a second and looked at his clipboard and said `Oh, he’s dead’.

“I broke down. I’m just crying because I’m like, `Who does that? Who dies for someone that they don’t know’?”

Austin Hemmings’ killer – whose name does not merit repeating, nor remembering – was sentenced to a minimum of sixteen years in prison.

On 27 July 2011, the late Mr Hemmings was posthumously awarded the New Zealand Bravery Star by the Governor-General, Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand, and Lady Susan Satyanand. The medal was presented to Mr Hemmings’ wife, Jennifer Hemmings;

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Jennifer Hemmings

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Eight years later, in Portland, Oregon, United States, three “ordinary” Americans stood up against another thug. This time two courageous men lost their lives to a violent, knife-wielding, foul-mouthed, bigot. The two heroes were Taliesin  Meche and Ricky  Best;

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Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche (23) and Ricky John Best (53)

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Two men were stabbed and killed in Portland on Friday after they tried to intervene while a man shouted racial slurs at two women, one of whom was wearing a hijab, police said. 

Police on Saturday identified the victims as 53-year-old Ricky John Best and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche. Best died at the scene, and Meche died at a hospital, police said. Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, of Portland was also stabbed in the attack and is in serious condition at a Portland hospital, police said. His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening, police said. 

In a press conference Saturday, Mayor Ted Wheeler said the victims were heroes, CBS affiliate KOIN reports. 

“They were attacked because they did the right thing,” Wheeler said. “Their actions were brave and selfless and should serve as an example and inspiration to us all. They are heroes.”

Ricky Best was a father of four, three teenage sons and a 12-year-old daughter. He was a public servant, working for Portland’s  Bureau of Development Services, and a U.S. army veteran. He had survived tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(Note the irony that he was murdered by a fellow American, whilst protecting two muslim women.)

Taliesin Namkai-Meche was a  Portland native and had recently graduated at Reed College in economics. His tutor, Professor Kambiz GhaneaBassiri,  described Namkai-Meche;

“I still remember where he sat in conference and the types of probing, intelligent questions I could anticipate him asking. He was thoughtful, humble, smart, inquisitive, and compassionate.”

A third man who intervened, Micah David-Cole Fletcher (21), was treated for serious knife-injuries but is expected to heal.

The assailant was a low-level criminal with right-wing, white supremacist racist views. He was filmed at a far-right “free speech” rally giving  Nazi salutes and screaming “Die Muslims. Die fake Christians. Die Jews“.

The assailant, a stocky male, towered over the two young muslim women,  threatening and abusing them verbally.

The assailant will also not be named here.

Instead, I pay tribute to people like Namkai-Meche,  Best, and Fletcher who valiantly stood up to bigotry. They did not know the two young women being threatened, but they knew it was not right.

Just as Austin Hemmings did in 2008, these  men stood up to what they saw as unacceptable thuggish behaviour. They refused to stay silent and look the other way.

There is an impulse in human nature to do good; to be altruistic; to stand up and help others even though they may be total strangers. It is this indomitable spark of humanity  which is perhaps our single,  most powerful,  saving grace. If we, as a species survive, it will be due to that innate impulse to act altruistically even when we may personally not benefit. Or even face personal danger.

That is why I hold the belief that, in the end, bigotry will not triumph. Prejudice runs counter to our inner impulse for fairness and acting decently in the face of brutish bigotry.

As a blogger researching the events which swirl around us in the second decade of the 21st century, I often read depressing things which makes me wonder if our children and their children will survive to see the dawn of the 22nd century and the marvels of art, architecture, music, science, literature, and technology to come. And if we will live to further understand, appreciate, and respect the delicate inter-woven intracacies of our natural blue-green world and the myriad of other creatures we share it with.

Writing stories like this is soberingly sad, but it also offers hope. Hope that everything we do has not – will not –  be in vain.

In the end, sometimes, that is what we have left to guide us and reaffirm our humanity: hope.

 

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References

NZ Herald: Farewell to a man who did the right thing

Governor-General: Austin Hemmings

CBS News: Father of four, recent college grad named as victims in deadly Portland stabbing

The Guardian: ‘He will remain a hero’: families and friends mourn victims of Portland stabbing

Related

Facebook: Dan Rather

Previous related blogposts

Blogger’s Lament – The Ultimate Sacrifice for Freedom

RIP, ‘White Mouse’

Peter Thomas Mahon, QC (1923 – 1986)

Kiwi Hero: Jazmine Heka

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 31 May 2017.

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