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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Shimon Peres On The Job Hunt

Former Israeli President Shimon Peres recently completed his seven year term as President. But because he is still in his prime years he is out on the job hunt to find out what he can do next.

Even though Peres may be 91, there is not sign of him slowing down yet.

Here is a neat video out of the Peres Centre for Peace that ask the questions "What is next?" for Peres:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's UN Speech

On Monday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood before the United Nations and warned the world that Hamas and ISIS (Islamic State of Iran and Syria) are "branches of the same poisonous tree.”

Highlights From Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahus Blistering Speech to UN: ‘We Must Remove This Cancer’

But before he started, Netanyahu had the guts, for lack of a better term, to tell the assemble that "I've come here to expose the brazen lies spoken from this very podium against my country and against the brave soldiers who defend it."

Netanyahu then went on to draw an image of how these terrorist organisations differ from our free democratic world. He said "You know the famous American saying: "All politics is local"? For the militant Islamists, "All politics is global." Because their ultimate goal is to dominate the world."

"Now, that threat might seem exaggerated to some, since it starts out small, like a cancer that attacks a particular part of the body. But left unchecked, the cancer grows, metastasizing over wider and wider areas. To protect the peace and security of the world, we must remove this cancer before it's too late. Last week, many of the countries represented here rightly applauded President Obama for leading the effort to confront ISIS. And yet weeks before, some of these same countries, the same countries that now support confronting ISIS, opposed Israel for confronting Hamas. They evidently don’t understand that ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree.

"ISIS and Hamas share a fanatical creed, which they both seek to impose well beyond the territory under their control.

"Listen to ISIS’s self-declared caliph,Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. This is what he said two months ago: A day will soon come when the Muslim will walk everywhere as a master… The Muslims will cause the world to hear and understand the meaning of terrorism… and destroy the idol of democracy. Now listen to Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas. He proclaims a similar vision of the future: We say this to the West… By Allah you will be defeated. Tomorrow our nation will sit on the throne of the world."


"So when it comes to their ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas."

Quite clearly, these two terrorist organisations are the same with different names. They're being supplied weapons by the same people, they are being funded by the same people and they have the same ultimate goal.

Netanyahu then outlined how there are two clear goals by these extremist and they result in taking the world back before the medieval era. An era where minorities have no freedoms and will not be tolerated:

"Some are radical Sunnis, some are radical Shi'ites. Some want to restore a pre-medieval caliphate from the 7th century. Others want to trigger the apocalyptic return of an imam from the 9th century. They operate in different lands, they target different victims and they even kill each other in their quest for supremacy. But they all share a fanatic ideology. They all seek to create ever expanding enclaves of militant Islam where there is no freedom and no tolerance – Where women are treated as chattel, Christians are decimated, and minorities are subjugated, sometimes given the stark choice: convert or die. For them, anyone can be an infidel, including fellow Muslims."

He then reminded us that the threat of Iran generating a nuclear bomb has not gone away. That we shouldn't be fooled by their manipulative smooth talking by their new leaders, it's just a distraction to get world pressures off them.

The Prime Minister said: "The Islamic Republic is now trying to bamboozle its way to an agreement that will remove the sanctions it still faces, and leave it with the capacity of thousands of centrifuges to enrich uranium. This would effectively cement Iran's place as a threshold military nuclear power. In the future, at a time of its choosing, Iran, the world’s most dangerous state in the world's most dangerous region, would obtain the world’s most dangerous weapons.

"Allowing that to happen would pose the gravest threat to us all. It’s one thing to confront militant Islamists on pick-up trucks, armed with Kalashnikov rifles. It’s another thing to confront militant Islamists armed with weapons of mass destruction. I remember that last year, everyone here was rightly concerned about the chemical weapons in Syria, including the possibility that they would fall into the hands of terrorists. That didn't happen. And President Obama deserves great credit for leading the diplomatic effort to dismantle virtually all of Syria's chemical weapons capability. Imagine how much more dangerous the Islamic State, ISIS, would be if it possessed chemical weapons. Now imagine how much more dangerous the Islamic state of Iran would be if it possessed nuclear weapons. Ladies and Gentlemen, Would you let ISIS enrich uranium? Would you let ISIS build a heavy water reactor? Would you let ISIS develop intercontinental ballistic missiles? Of course you wouldn’t. Then you mustn't let the Islamic State of Iran do those things either.

"Because here’s what will happen: Once Iran produces atomic bombs, all the charm and all the smiles will suddenly disappear. They’ll just vanish. It's then that the ayatollahs will show their true face and unleash their aggressive fanaticism on the entire world. There is only one responsible course of action to address this threat: Iran's nuclear military capabilities must be fully dismantled. Make no mistake – ISIS must be defeated. But to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war.

"To defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war."
(emphasis added)

The Prime Minister then went onto talking about the 50 days earlier this year where Hamas fired thousands of rocket at Israel, outlining that many of them were supplied by Iran. 

"I want you to think about what your countries would do if thousands of rockets were fired at your cities. Imagine millions of your citizens having seconds at most to scramble to bomb shelters, day after day. You wouldn't let terrorists fire rockets at your cities with impunity. Nor would you let terrorists dig dozens of terror tunnels under your borders to infiltrate your towns in order to murder and kidnap your citizens. Israel justly defended itself against both rocket attacks and terror tunnels. Yet Israel also faced another challenge. We faced a propaganda war. Because, in an attempt to win the world’s sympathy, Hamas cynically used Palestinian civilians as human shields. It used schools, not just schools - UN schools, private homes, mosques, even hospitals to store and fire rockets at Israel.

"As Israel surgically struck at the rocket launchers and at the tunnels, Palestinian civilians were tragically but unintentionally killed. There are heartrending images that resulted, and these fueled libelous charges that Israel was deliberately targeting civilians.

"We were not. We deeply regret every single civilian casualty. And the truth is this: Israel was doing everything to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties. Hamas was doing everything to maximize Israeli civilian casualties and Palestinian civilian casualties. Israel dropped flyers, made phone calls, sent text messages, broadcast warnings in Arabic on Palestinian television, always to enable Palestinian civilians to evacuate targeted areas.

"No other country and no other army in history have gone to greater lengths to avoid casualties among the civilian population of their enemies. This concern for Palestinian life was all the more remarkable, given that Israeli civilians were being bombarded by rockets day after day, night after night. As their families were being rocketed by Hamas, Israel's citizen army – the brave soldiers of the IDF, our young boys and girls – they upheld the highest moral values of any army in the world. Israel's soldiers deserve not condemnation, but admiration. Admiration from decent people everywhere.

"Now here’s what Hamas did: Hamas embedded its missile batteries in residential areas and told Palestinians to ignore Israel’s warnings to leave. And just in case people didn’t get the message, they executed Palestinian civilians in Gaza who dared to protest.

"No less reprehensible, Hamas deliberately placed its rockets where Palestinian children live and play. Let me show you a photograph. It was taken by a France 24 crew during the recent conflict. It shows two Hamas rocket launchers, which were used to attack us. You see three children playing next to them. Hamas deliberately put its rockets in hundreds of residential areas like this. Hundreds of them.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is a war crime. And I say to President Abbas, these are the war crimes committed by your Hamas partners in the national unity government which you head and you are responsible for. And these are the real war crimes you should have investigated, or spoken out against from this podium last week."

Highlights From Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahus Blistering Speech to UN: ‘We Must Remove This Cancer’
The Prime Minister then outlined that Israel was using it missiles to protect its children, Hamas were using it children to protect its missiles.

He then confronted the UN for turning its own laws upside down and accused them of betraying their mission:

"By investigating Israel rather than Hamas for war crimes, the UN Human Rights Council has betrayed its noble mission to protect the innocent. In fact, what it’s doing is to turn the laws of war upside-down. Israel, which took unprecedented steps to minimize civilian casualties, Israel is condemned. Hamas, which both targeted and hid behind civilians – that a double war crime - Hamas is given a pass.

"The Human Rights Council is thus sending a clear message to terrorists everywhere: Use civilians as human shields. Use them again and again and again. You know why? Because sadly, it works.

"By granting international legitimacy to the use of human shields, the UN’s Human Rights Council has thus become a Terrorist Rights Council, and it will have repercussions. It probably already has, about the use of civilians as human shields."

The Prime Minister took a cheeky hit at the UN Human Rights council by saying that it's an oxymoron. 

He then talked about how he sees the possibility of peace between Israel and Palestine:

"I believe the partnership between us can also help facilitate peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Many have long assumed that an Israeli-Palestinian peace can help facilitate a broader rapprochement between Israel and the Arab World. But these days I think it may work the other way around: Namely that a broader rapprochement between Israel and the Arab world may help facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian peace.

"And therefore, to achieve that peace, we must look not only to Jerusalem and Ramallah, but also to Cairo, to Amman, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and elsewhere. I believe peace can be realized with the active involvement of Arab countries, those that are willing to provide political, material and other indispensable support. I’m ready to make a historic compromise, not because Israel is occupying a foreign land. The people of Israel are not occupiers in the Land of Israel. History, archeology and common sense all make clear that we have had a singular attachment to this land for over 3,000 years.

"I want peace because I want to create a better future for my people. But it must be a genuine peace, one that is anchored in mutual recognition and enduring security arrangements, rock solid security arrangements on the ground. Because you see, Israel's withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza created two militant Islamic enclaves on our borders from which tens of thousands of rockets have been fired at Israel."

The Prime Minister said that where ever the negotiation may lead, the one thing that he would protect are Israel's boards being in a position where Israel is able to defend itself. The 1967 boards left Israel sitting at the bottom of the mountain range where terrorist would easily target Israel from above, leaving the state is a completely defenceless position. But he did acknowledge that any peace agreement would "obviously necessitate a territorial compromise."

He then finished by showing off the bright side of Israel saying "we have a record of making the impossible possible. We’ve made a desolate land flourish. And with very few natural resources, we have used the fertile minds of our people to turn Israel into a global center of technology and innovation."

And then he outlined how peace would enable Israel to reach its full potential and bring promising futures for Israel, Palestine and the world.

The Prime Minister made a compelling speech where he said it as it is. He didn't sugar coat the truth to be likeable. He went to the UN to talk for the people of Israel and the real threats that the world are facing from the terror world and if they generate nuclear weapons.

He has outlined the real mission, and the world needs to take that on board because we want to win the war for the security of the world. We don't want to "win the battle and lose the war."

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Texas Court Okay's "Upskirt" Photographs

The highest criminal court in Texas struck down part of a law banning “upskirt” photos earlier this month. The judges argued that taking photos in public without permission are entitled to be protected by the First Amendment. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals panel ruled that outlawing “improper photography or visual recording” would be a violation of federal free-speech rights and a “paternalistic” effort to regulate the photographers’ thoughts.

Texas court throws out "upskirt" photo law, because banning creepshots is "paternalistic"“The camera is essentially the photographer’s pen and paintbrush,” Judge Sharon Keller wrote in the court’s 8-1 opinion. “A person’s purposeful creation of photographs and visual recordings is entitled to the same First Amendment protection as the photographs and visual recordings themselves.”

The Houston Chronicle has reported that the case involved Ronald Thompson, who was charged with 26 counts of improper photography in 2011 after taking underwater photos of swimsuit-clad children at a San Antonio water park. Thompson challenged the constitutionality of the improper photography ban before his case even went to trial, claiming that “a plain reading of the law would place street photographers, entertainment journalists, arts patrons, pep rally attendees and ‘even the harmless eccentric’ at risk of incarceration.”

Prosecutors argued that the law’s intent (for example, trying to do something unlawful like taking an illicit photo of someone without their consent) should place the “expressive activity” outside the bounds of First Amendment protection. But, according to the appeals panel, protecting citizens from being made the subject of “expressive” surreptitious photography unknowingly or without permission is actually the government’s way of protecting them from being thought of sexually, which runs the risk of infringing upon other people’s First Amendment rights.

“Protecting someone who appears in public from being the object of sexual thoughts seems to be the sort of ‘paternalistic interest in regulating the defendant’s mind’ that the First Amendment was designed to guard against,” Keller wrote. “We also keep in mind the Supreme Court’s admonition that the forms of speech that are exempt from First Amendment protection are limited, and we should not be quick to recognize new categories of unprotected expression.”

The court has made the ultimate decision to loosen the law so that any form of photograph taken in public is called ‘art’, and is an expression of their thoughts and creativity. So we mustn’t restrict photos taken in public because their images are protected under their First Amendment right. The court has made a giant leap and has left a lot of unprotected grey area. People should be able to express themselves through photography in public, but their right to do so shouldn’t infringe on others rights.

You have the right to more or less do anything you want, express yourself through a range of interactions and presentations, as long as those actions don’t intrude on someone else’s right to not have to you interfere in their life. While they have said it is okay to take photos of clothed, swimming children, they have also said it is okay to take photos up female skirts and down their blouses. Should that be right?

Which was once a crime is now legal.

You have to go to great efforts of secrecy and camera positioning to get away with taking these crude and unwanted images. When these women get up in the morning and decide to put a skirt on they weren’t sending everyone an open invitation to take very low angle images up their skirts. So why should people taking these images get these images labelled as an expression through art?

I completely understand that fact that there is nothing stopping each and every one of us from having crude thoughts about complete strangers we see on the street. While those images can figuratively stay in our minds doesn’t mean we should go to arm’s length to make a hard copy.

The situation here all along is whether people’s actions are intruding on someone else’s personal freedom. And when someone has to make great efforts to portray someone as they didn’t intend to be portrays when they left their home that morning, well that is an invasion of their personal rights and freedom.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Election 2014 – Three More Years of Stable Centre-Right Government

Last night’s victory will be recorded in history as a mile stone for New Zealand politics. National did what they shouldn’t have achieved under MMP; they’ve achieved the ability to govern alone – 61 seats in the 120 seat parliament (of 121 if United Future is an overhang).

We have three more years of stable centre-right government.

Overall it was a victory for the centre right, not just because of Nationals self-governing victory but because of the loss of the Internet-Mana party. A party that came out with such personal hatred towards John Key and the National Party with a lot of funding couldn’t return their candidate or reach the 5 percent threshold to return to parliament.

The left bloc now needs to review themselves if they want to win the next election. Labour and the Greens are the two parties that need to work together to be able to form a stable left wing government. Unfortunately they keep splitting apart and fracture their vote making it more of a challenge for them to get the numbers to govern.

But there is no doubt that the country preferred a right wing government. With National at more than 48% of the votes and Conservatives just above 4% shows a clear majority before you add on the single membered parties. Although the Conservatives haven’t made it into parliament, they are the reason that National are able to govern alone because their vote was wasted.

National ran a campaign that was risky. They did it three years ago as well and only just managed to form a government, and they have done it again this year and historically did even better. MMP was created by the German’s after WWII to make it very hard for a single party to be able to govern alone, because single parties just don’t tend to get half the vote (especially when there are so many parties).

Three years ago National weren’t clear about whether they supported ACT in Epsom which left ACT voters unsure of whether to vote ACT, so they tended towards the Conservatives because they were polling better (ACT voters don’t like to waste their vote). ACT was going to win in Epsom anyway, but it was the public confidence that reduced their party vote turning a party with five MPs into a party of one.

Looking ahead to the next election, if the National want to keep governing they will need to work with their friends in the minor parties to secure the government, or they can continue to play a risky campaign and go all in.

If the Conservatives stay around for the next election they need to play as a team. Whilst both the Conservative and ACT Party are only campaigning for voters on the right instead of convincing those on the left, there is going to be a little competition between each other for the party vote, but they could help each other in the electorates.

The Conservatives caused more damage in this election than good. Firstly they played a strong game in Napier, a good National seat, but they didn’t get anywhere. They split the right wing vote and allowed for an easy Labour victory. They cheated the people of Napier out of having a representative in the government. And then with their party vote, where they could have been eligible for 4-5 seats, it was wasted and those seats were redistributed to the eligible parties – not all would have gone to National.

While the right wing bloc is stronger than the left, the support for the small parties have dwindled which is a concern for the future of centre-right governments.

MMP is here to stay; we had a chance to change that last time and said no. So this is the style of campaigning and government formations we have to work with.

While we are just getting started with a fresh government term, there are going to be a few parties going into recovery mode to gain a better result at the next election.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Washington DC School's Outrageous Homework

Who ever drew this up, and all the teachers who handed it out to their students must have no self respect, pride or integrity.

A Washington DC public school handed this piece of homework out to 6th graders to complete.

Their task was to compare George W. Bush to Hitler.

Now I don't care if you opposed ever aspect of President Bush's tenor as President. I really don't care. To compare him to Hitler through tacky art during street protest is disgraceful enough, but to actively compare similarities in a public school, you've got to be clinically ill.

Who ever put that sheet together should be fired, and the teachers who gave it out should be cut loose.

President Bush didn't enter into office to go to war, he entered into office to be an education President and better children across the US. But it was yesterday, September 11, that changed the course of his leadership.

Whether you agree with his actions or not, he was doing everything he could to protect the future of the US from terror attacks. And during his time in office he succeed, no questions asked.

This comparison is a disgrace, and even more of a disgrace being from the US school, even more a public school.

This really made my heart sink - shame on you for putting this together.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Are You Already Bending Over? Get Out And Vote!

With less than two months to the election, have you decided who to vote for? Even more, are you going to vote?

The first question I want you to ask yourself, do you know your Member of Parliament?

Alright, do you know who else wants to represent you and your electorate?

Now that you know who to talk to in your electorate, check out the parties. Which party do you like? Will that party work well with the candidate you’re backing in your electorate?

If you have ignored those last few questions, let me tell you, it isn't too late to make a difference. And by taking a little bit of time to review those questions could help.

With more people voting means that we have a better represented country. Your voice can be heard, but only if you cast your vote.

Voter turnout was low last time and that resulted in a tight government, nearly 50/50, we could have had three years where nothing happened, it could have stalled our country, cost the country for nothing.

Voter turnout can still be improved.

Enough people stayed at home at the last election that could have changed the results. You could have strengthened our current government or completely changed the winning team.

Many young people may feel like saying “I can’t be bothered to vote cause none of the parties say stuff I’m interested in.”

That’s because you don’t vote!

That’s like saying “I’ll stop flicking soggy cornflakes at you when you stop looking so annoyed and, ah … milky.”

The reason why is because, aside from money, the only things that politicians need are votes.

If you’re not a source of votes then they don’t care about you, they’re not going to listen to your wants, needs or demands.

I vote for the same reason I’d punch a bear that was trying to eat me. I don’t think it would make a difference to the outcome, but at least that way it doesn't look like I don’t want to be eaten by a bear.

There are many dead beats running in this election that could get some traction because you stayed home.

Just like I don’t think you should give a gun to a parrot, if someone else gave a gun to a parrot, I would watch!

It is probably not the best choice for the country, but in the run up to the election watching the parrot with a gun would be great entertainment. But it is our job to ensure that parrot is disarmed after the election.

If some keeps stirring up the fear of ghost, the way to deal with that is by turning on the lights and saying “there is no such thing as ghost!”

But parties trying to buy you will go: ‘We’ll be tough on ghost as well!’

They don’t want to lose your vote; they don’t want to tarnish that vote. You've got to look through the hazy mist and find reality within your party choice.

So please, please vote. Let’s show the world how it is done. I don’t care who you vote for. I don’t care if you don’t vote for a party. Spoil your ballot, write ‘none of the above’ on it, whatever (within reason), at least you are sending some sort of message. Cause if you don’t vote the only message you’re sending is ‘do what you want, I'm already bending over.”

Material mostly by Nick Doody.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Israel Isn't The Bad Guy

I’ve now reached the point where I get personally angry when I see anti-Israeli remarks, and they seem so crude and hurtful.

Their number one argument is simply not enough Israelis have died compared to those living in Gaza. That is it; if there were more Israeli blood shed everyone would be happy. But that is ungodly of us, to call for the death of one race to justify another.

More Israelis haven’t been killed because they installed the Iron Dome defence shield which aims to destroy rockets before they hit Israeli infrastructure. Israel has rocket sirens that give their people 10 – 15 seconds to take cover, shelter on the side of the road or run to one of the many rocket shelters set up across the country.

Israel has invested wisely in protecting their people as best they can.

Hamas, on the other hand, don’t care about the people living around them. They use them as political toys to look like the targeted one.

When Israel sends warning to the people of Gaza to evacuate before the Israeli Defence Force takes out their target, Hamas gets everyone to stay and brings children nearer to the attack sight. There is no justification in any of the actions Hamas make.

If the leading forces in Gaza wanted to protect their citizens then why haven’t they built rocket shelters? Why don’t they have warning systems in place? Why aren’t they stopping the terrorist amongst them from firing rockets upon their neighbours?

It is because the leaders amongst them don’t care about their people, they just care about destroying Israel. Any deaths on their side are mere sacrifices in their eyes, Allah would be proud, I guess.

Because Hamas won’t look after the people they live around, Israel has too. It is Israel who is ensuring supplies are still in the region; it is Israel who has set up medical facilities to treat those who need help; and it is Israel who is warning the Gaza people before conflict strikes. Not Hamas.

I just don’t understand how Israel can default to being the bad guy here. They just seem to do a better job defending their people than their neighbours.

All Israel wants is peace, and they’ve been willing to relinquish control of land before for peace, but the Palestinian leaders didn’t accept their offer in 2000 and responded by sending suicide bombers into Israel to cause destruction.

Israel has given up control of land before; they returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt when they agreed for peace in the 1970s. Israel is a country of their word.

Oh, and when it comes to humanitarian response is it Hamas officials aiding in Japan after the tsunami? Was it Hamas soldiers in Haiti helping after their earthquake? Did Hamas soldiers also go to Christchurch, NZ and Chile it assist in their earthquake recovery need? No. It was specified Israel Defence Force officials who came to assist.

Israel is always one of the first to send foreign aid to any disaster. They sent water purification units with doctor to Japan; they set up hospitals in Haiti; and sent trauma experts to Boston after the marathon bombings.

Israel has got the worlds back, even though the world doesn’t have Israel’s.

Israeli Defence Force officials have set out to try and end the 9 year building conflict from Hamas. They are going to cripple their weapon storage facilities and lock off their underground network of tunnels to prevent them getting to Israel.

Israel is doing their job as a nation, they’re protecting their people and, in the long run, they’re protecting those who live in Gaza. The international community may have been blinded from the thousands of rocket that have been launched at Israel, and have only noticed the ones Israel as accurately pin pointed to take out Hamas rocket and weapon storing sights. But Israel will keep defending herself, and will continue to help the people of Gaza where their leaders can’t.

All of this conflict can end with a peace agreement. Cease fires have been made, but they have been broken, because Hamas wants Israel to be dead and that is what is stopping peace in the Middle East.

Israel have been the first to lay down their guns before, they have reached out their hand to offer peace. But quickly have the guns been pointed back at Israel just as they’ve put theirs down to try and destroy them in a window of vulnerability.

This is a battle between one side wanting peace, and the other wants the other side dead.

Israel isn’t the bad guy.