We can make a meal of irksome politicians at one end of the protest spectrum – or leave them shell-shocked at the other

Forget about cracking eggs over the heads of politicians with whom you have a difference of opinion.  As Brits were reminded the other day, in the 17th century a mob of Dutch protesters hanged and mutilated prime minister Johan de Witt and – so it is said – ate bits of his body.

A Brexit campaigner who worked for Boris Johnson recalled this extreme form  of Dutch protest when he shared a meme joking that Theresa May should be killed and eaten, it was revealed last week. 

Economist Gerard Lyons, who backs a ‘clean’ No Deal, was rebuked after he forwarded on the ‘extreme’ message on a WhatsApp group that also contains some Tory MPs.

Mr Lyons, who was an adviser to Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London, claims he shared the message on the ‘Brexit outreach group’ by accident and said today: ‘I do not endorse it’.

The offending message was a picture of 17th-century Dutch prime minister Johan de Witt, with the caption: ‘In 1672, a mob of angry Dutch killed and ate their prime minister. Options. Just sayin’ .’ Continue reading “We can make a meal of irksome politicians at one end of the protest spectrum – or leave them shell-shocked at the other”

The Brady break-in – unresolved inquiry may be a matter of case not proven

What do we make of PM Jacinda Ardern’s pushback against reports that Chinese intelligence agents were behind the break-ins at the Christchurch home of Canterbury University Professor Anne Marie Brady?

Consider her words.

Four Corners, an Australian current affairs TV show, reported:

Government sources have confirmed to Four Corners that intelligence assessments identified China’s spy service as the prime suspect behind the intimidation of Brady.”

Ardern, the minister responsible for national security, says she had seen no such assessment. Continue reading “The Brady break-in – unresolved inquiry may be a matter of case not proven”

Extremism and intelligence: NZ should not be shortsighted about the benefits of Five Eyes

As New Zealand grapples with the enormities of the Christchurch terrorist attack and their implications for the country’s diverse social fabric, security and law and order, some issues are paramount.

High on the list is the importance to NZ of the Five-Eyes intelligence network, no matter what some the government’s coalition partners might think.   Five-Eyes has been forwarding significantly important information in recent months. Without it, NZ would be bereft.

For example, the presence of a noxious NZ Islamist in Iraq has been monitored carefully over several months, extending to the ​presence there of other New Zealanders, not extremists,  working in various nursing and assistance roles ​in precarious situations.

None of this important information could be provided to the prime minister without Five-Eyes. Continue reading “Extremism and intelligence: NZ should not be shortsighted about the benefits of Five Eyes”

While NZ debates cannabis law reform, a link is drawn between the drug and UK’s knifing epidemic

Among commentators pushing for legalising marijuana, broadcaster Jack Tame has argued the best way to stop “the stoner kids” from damaging their brains isn’t to increase penalties or punish them for being found with a joint.  The best way to protect our young people, he insists, “is to legalise it”.

Tame was contributing to a debate which will culminate in New Zealanders voting in a binding referendum on the personal use of cannabis at next year’s general election.

Massey University drug researcher Chris Wilkins and his colleagues say it is important that Kiwis are given rigorous and balanced information on cannabis legalisation before they vote.

They have challenged a study on cannabis legalisation which estimated net social benefit of a commercial cannabis market in New Zealand at $225m a year

The risks of legalising cannabis in New Zealand have been understated, they say.

In particular, they rebut the assumption that a legal cannabis market will not result in an increase in harm. Continue reading “While NZ debates cannabis law reform, a link is drawn between the drug and UK’s knifing epidemic”

Studies find exam results turn to pot when students turn to cannabis

Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick chided the National Party on its drugs policy earlier this year but said she hoped its involvement in public debate was positive.

Her comments followed National announcing deputy leader Paula Bennett’s appointment as the party’s first drug reform spokesperson and Bennett’s thoroughly reasonable insistence that she wanted to know more about the implications of legalising marijuana –

 “I want to know, ‘What does it mean for the illicit drug trade? What does it mean for drug driving? How do we meet our goals of being smoke free if we’re saying it’s okay to have a joint?’ “

 Swarbrick, the Green’s spokesperson on drug reform, said National was portraying themselves as “rational sceptics” but drew a distinction between “constructive criticism and obfuscation which stifles change”.
Continue reading “Studies find exam results turn to pot when students turn to cannabis”

Pap from PAPA about police, tearaway teenagers and public safety

The police are under pressure – not for the first time – to allow teenage miscreants to steal cars and drive through red lights at 130kph.

People Against Prisons Aotearoa today issued a statement which describes itself as a community group “opposed to police violence”.

It is calling for police pursuits to be banned after three teenagers were killed in a crash in Christchurch.

The car, which had hit road spikes laid out by police, crashed into a tree and caught fire with the teenagers trapped inside.

“Every death in a police pursuit is a preventable death,” says PAPA spokesperson Emilie Rākete. 

It’s hard to disagree.  But she contends the fault lies not with people who have broken the law and are threatening the lives of innocent citizens but with police whose duty is to maintain law and order and protect the public: Continue reading “Pap from PAPA about police, tearaway teenagers and public safety”

Health and safety laws come to the rescue of Aucklanders threatened by words

The cancellation of a public talk by two controversial Canadians accused of hate speech is a triumph for … Well, for what or for whom, exactly?

For the dubious application of the country’s health and safety legislation, perhaps.

Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux, typically described as being “best known for their far-right alternative views on everything from feminism, gender and immigration to Islam”, had been set to speak at the Bruce Mason Centre on 3 August.

Lobbying by left-wing activists and Islamic leaders to bar them from speaking was successful.

While immigration authorities were still assessing whether they should intervene under the Immigration Act and Immigration Instructions … Continue reading “Health and safety laws come to the rescue of Aucklanders threatened by words”