It’s interesting seeing these images (great photography Clinton) having just finished reading the geo-political thriller 2017 : War with Russia. The book is one of the most interesting pieces of bad writing I have come across recently; it makes Tom Clancy look like a Booker Prize winner. The writing is as clunky as hell but the reason so many people are paying attention to it is that the author is General Sir Alexander Richard Shirreff, the recently retired former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in Europe. His premise is frighteningly believable; NATO has run down its non-nuclear forces to such an extent that it runs the risk of not being able to respond to a Russian invasion of the Baltic States.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Ukraine became the third-largest nuclear armed state in the world. In 1994, the signing of the Budapest Memorandum saw an agreement signed between Russia, the USA and the UK (with France and China also having a hand in) that if the Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal, their sovereignty and territorial borders would be protected and guaranteed by all. The Ukraine signed up, gave up its nuclear weapons which were disposed of, and 20 years later Russia invaded, annexed Crimea and the world sat back and did f-all.
Shirreff’s concern is that Russia may try this again with the Baltic States and even though they are NATO members, his concern is whether the West would be willing to retaliate when the Baltics have traditionally been seen as being within the Russian sphere of influence. Russia is developing masses of new conventional weaponry, much of which is far more advanced than anything coming out of the West (check out the T-14 Armata tank sometime; it's frightening).
Shirreff's feels that the west probably wouldn't hit the red button in response to a Baltic invasion, running the risk that NATO is seen as no longer being fit-for-purpose and essentially collapses.
The 20-page introduction of the book is worth reading for anyone interested in the state of east-west geopolitics should you happen to see a copy in an airport bookshop or similar
He has also just become the first sitting president to publish a scientific paper in a peer-reviewed journal (Journal of the American Medical Association).
Just to note a couple of things about some of the nomenclature being used in this discussion. The AR15 which dominates in the US civilian rifle market and which has been used in several recent mass killings is not an assault rifle but a military-style semi-automatic. The M16 (the military version of the AR15) is an assault rifle because it is a “select fire” weapon (i.e. it can shoot single shots, full-auto or a three-round burst). However assault rifles are generally not available for purchase by civilians in the United States without a special license issued by the Federal Government which relatively few people have. Also the detachable bit that holds the ammunition is called a magazine, not a “clip” (a clip is different). The incorrect use of these terms by the media doesn’t make them correct.
This is important when entering into any discussion with or about the gun lobby or pro-2a individuals as they will generally ignore any argument when basic terms are used incorrectly. The same applies to when discussing an issue with people from a military background; e.g. get the word “battalion” confused with the word “company” and they will often ignore everything else you say regardless of how sound and rational your point of view is.
i've done a few retunes of both my freeview (satellite) decoders and can only pick up the radio (without pictures)
Yes; RNZ's PR machine doesn't appear to realise that their Checkpoint radio-with-pictures TV simulcast is only on Freeview UHF / terrestrial.
Freeview Satellite users miss-out (partly because Sky TV has snaffled so much of the Optus D1 satellite's bandwidth); something RNZ could be doing a better job of making people aware of.
I've been yelling repeatedly at the radio over the past few days at the often reported "fact" that this is the "deadliest violence to strike France since World War II". It's a terrible event for sure and I would never belittle it BUT the above statement conveniently ignores the Paris Massacre of 1961 which has been swept under the carpet of collective memory due to the fact that the perpetrator was the French State via Maurice Papon.
"Canada did OK by continuing to protect dairy / poultry,"
The small fraction of Canada that work in the dairy or poultry industry did ok. The other 99.9%, lost out by continuing to overpay for food.
And we don't? A quick check of a couple of Canadian supermarkets with on-line sales show their retail prices for milk and eggs being lower than in NZ.
Here we drop all subsidies and protectionist measures but the domestic consumer still gets shafted.
The first thing that went through my mind when I heard the story on the news this morning was "Black Mirror". A quick scan of the UK media indicates that a few million Brits thought exactly the same thing. Life imitates art.
The Black Mirror series didn't get much of a look-in in New Zealand but it had a big impact in the UK. The episode in question is called "The National Anthem" (it should be easy enough to find on-line) but note that the Black Mirror series is "not for those of nervous disposition".
Another interesting historic example I've recently come across is the film Secrets of Life.
The attached image shows crowds outside the Embassy Theatre in Wellington in May 1950. The film was screened to segregated audiences (women and girls at 2pm and 6pm, men and boys, 8.30pm, all youth to be over 14) and was supposedly about the dangers of venereal disease. It was written by American "sex therapist" Elliot Forbes who presented a Q&A session at the end of each screening.
In reality, the whole thing was a sexploitation fraud. The film was marketed in a titillating way to give the impression that there would be some serious rumpy-pumpy to be seen so the distributor deliberately introduced segregated screenings and included the Q&A session to turn it into a sex-education "event" (thus avoiding the ire of the film censor). "Elliot Forbes" never actually existed and was one of several actors that travelled with the film around Australasia, the idea being that they would get in and out of town before word of mouth spread that the film was complete rubbish.
The Wellington dawn service was very big and the only two speakers aside from the padre running the show were the two Governors General. Aside from the size the service was exactly the same as all those I have attended...
That and the fact that it was held at the new National War Memorial Park for the first time did make it quite special and I thought quite different from the dawn services normally held at the Wellington Cenotaph. We parked up at the southern end of the Terrace at about 5.10am. Walking down Abel Smith Street there were a few others strolling in our direction - and then we hit Willis Street to see literally hundreds of people walking down from Aro Valley. We were then joined by another couple of hundred students coming up from the hostels in lower Willis Street. With little traffic, many streets closed off to cars and most people walking near silently it was quite surreal experience. By the time we got to Pukeahu it was the largest crowd (c. 40k) I have seen on Wellington's streets since the LOTR premiers. The large screens made everything easy to see and though the NZ GG said a couple of things that made me wince, I'm still glad I went.
Even better though was the service at the Ataturk memorial on Wellington's south coast in the afternoon; small, intimate, very moving and equal consideration given to the Turkish side of the story.
Tapping still works folks, though alas not with pay phones (when you can find one). I recall trying it a year ago on a home phone in a fit of nostalgia and was surprised that it still worked. The exchanges can still read pulses for the few remaining old phones which still use them (some 1980s Telecom push-button "PERT" phones had a switch on the bottom with which you could select either tones or pulses). All you need is a home land-line and an old-school (wired and corded) phone that doesn't use any auxiliary power. Every home that has a land-line should have such a "dumb" phone anyway for emergencies and power outages (cheap as chips from the Warehouse etc).
Our exchanges still interpret pulses back-to-front from the international standard, so take your number, subtract each figure from ten (best to write the whole thing out), grab your land-line and tap the resulting number rapidly on the "hook" button with a short pause between each figure. I called my mother earlier this evening to check if it would still work and it still goes fine (and it felt as if I was 12 years old again!). I had a huge grin on my face when the call went through and my mum picked up the phone.