Friday, February 5, 2016

Jane Kelsey: All pain, no gain – why not a TPP-free zone?

Café Pacific
video of the TPP protest in Auckland this week by Del Abcede/PMC

OPINION: By Professor Jane Kelsey
In New Zealand, we dared to declare ourselves nuclear-free in the 1980s – dire warnings that ditching the Anzus alliance would make us a pariah, isolated and ridiculed never came to pass. Instead, we were celebrated as a small, independent nation with the guts to decide our own future. Why can’t we do the same with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)?

The National government ignored widespread opposition from ordinary New Zealanders when it signed the secretly negotiated deal. Doubtless we’ll continue to be fed the old Anzus line that New Zealand can’t afford to not to be at the table.

National’s glitzy new “TPP fact” page is bad wine repackaged in new bottles. Here’s a few facts they don’t tell you: The projected economic gains of 0.9 per cent of GDP by 2030 are within their own margin of error, even before costs are factored in and disregarding unrealistic modelling.

More than 1600 US companies, the most litigious in the world, will gain new rights they can enforce through private offshore tribunals if/when regulation damages their value or profits.

The agreement guarantees foreign states and corporations a right of input into regulatory decisions, which Maori, trade unions, small businesses and local government would not have.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Asia Pacific Report - a new venture for independent journalism

Alistar Kata's video about the Pacific Media Centre.

By David Robie

Comments from the and video launch in Auckland tonight.

OUR new adventure really began back in 2007 when Selwyn Manning joined the Pacific Media Centre as the founding advisory board chair, but really took a big leap forward when he initiated the Pacific Scoop concept and we developed that together, launching it at the 2009 Māori Expo.

Over the next six years, Pacific Scoop played an inspiring role in independent journalism alongside the main Scoop Media website, providing a range of Asia and Pacific stories and analyses.

A significant core of this project was its role as the official output from AUT’s postgraduate Asia Pacific Journalism course. We have sent students all over the Pacific on key story and research assignments over the years. Some of these stories have won awards.

While at AUT, Selwyn did two innovative postgraduate honours degrees – producing ground-breaking documentaries for both, Morality of Argument and Behind the Shroud, which are featured on AsiaPacificReport.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2015: The year Charlie Hebdo was hailed, blasted and misunderstood

This picture taken on January 18, 2015 shows a giant half-broken pencil
near the headquarters of French satirical newspaper  
Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Image: Joël Saget/AFP/France 24
By Benjamin Dodman in France 24

IN THE 12 months since the gruesome attacks on its Paris office, Charlie Hebdo has been praised, mourned, cursed and debated by a global panel of commentators, politicians and religious zealots - most of whom have never read it it, let alone understood it.

By all accounts it has been a tumultuous year for the satirical weekly – one that began with carnage, brought the cash-strapped paper fame and scrutiny, and left its traumatised survivors holed up in a bunker with more subscribers than they ever dreamt of having.

Charlie had been a household name in the French media landscape, its notoriety surpassed by that of its most illustrious cartoonists, including Jean Cabut (known as Cabu) and Georges Wolinski, two icons of French popular culture, both of whom were murdered a year ago by jihadist gunmen, along with six other staff members.

And yet its actual readership, barely reaching the tens of thousands, was a tiny – and shrinking – minority in a country where few people still read the papers, least of all in print.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

#COP21: Global climate deal shows end of fossil fuels is near - but injustice is still ingrained

Greenpeace activists create a solar symbol around a world-famous Paris landmark, the Arc de Triomphe.
© Greenpeace
OPINION: By Kumi Naidoo in Paris
THE WHEEL of climate action turns slowly, but in Paris it has turned. There’s much in this deal - the so-called Paris Agreement -  that frustrates and disappoints me, but it still puts the fossil fuel industry squarely on the wrong side of history.

Parts of this deal have been diluted and polluted by the people who despoil our planet, but it contains a new temperature limit of less than 2C degrees.

That single number, and the new goal of net zero emissions by the second half of this century, will cause consternation in the boardrooms of coal companies and the palaces of oil-exporting states and that is a very good thing. The transition away from fossil fuels is inevitable.

Now comes our great task of this century. How do we meet this new goal?

The measures outlined simply do not get us there. When it comes to forcing real, meaningful action, Paris fails to meet the moment.

We have a 1.5 degree wall to climb, but the ladder isn’t long enough. The emissions targets outlined in this agreement are simply not big enough to get us to where we need to be.

Friday, December 11, 2015

#COP21: '1.5 to stay alive', historic climate deal but not good for the Pacific

A creative Fijian response to COP21 ... "no more Facebook. No more rugby ... and we're no more!'

From Pacific Media Watch:

By Makereta Komai, editor of Pacnews, in Paris

THE three major oil and gas economies - Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela - have emerged as the main stumbling block to the push by Pacific and Small Island Developing States to limit global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius at the climate negotiations in Paris.

Climate Action Network, an association of more than 100 powerful civil society groups around the world that follow the negotiations, said the three countries refused to shift their positions, citing their own vulnerabilities.
 BREAKING NEWS: Historic deal praised – but criticised by Pacific commentators
    Pacific commentators were quick to criticise the 31-page pact dubbed the “Paris Agreement” with Fiji-based Islands Business editor Samisoni Pareti tweeting from Paris: “Not a good deal ... 2 watered down, no below 1.5, no loss n (sic) damage, God save the Pacific!"

“As you can understand the economies of Russia, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia are dependent on fossils. Clearly what the small islands are asking for – to phase out oil and gas will affect their economies big time," said Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace.

Saudi Arabia argued that, like the small islands, it is also faced with extreme weather events like flooding, heat waves and drought.

“The small and vulnerable nations have stood their ground of 1.5 degrees in the negotiations despite the attacks by Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela," said Kaiser.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Beirut and Paris: Two terror attacks with different tales

Mourners at the Auckland, New Zealand, vigil for Paris at the weekend. Photo: David Robie
By Belen Fernandez

AS NEWS arrived of terror attacks in Paris that ultimately left more than 120 people dead, US President Barack Obama characterised the situation as “heartbreaking” and an assault “on all of humanity.”

But his presidential sympathy was conspicuously absent the previous day when terror attacks in Beirut left more than 40 dead. Predictably, Western media and social media were much less vocal about the slaughter in Lebanon.

The Independent's weekend front page, UK.
And while many of us are presumably aware, to some degree, of the discrepancy in value assigned to people's lives on the basis of nationality and other factors, the back-to-back massacres in Beirut and Paris served to illustrate without a doubt the fact that, when it comes down to it, “all of humanity” doesn't necessarily qualify as human.

Of course, there's more to the story than the relative dehumanisation of the Lebanese as compared with their French counterparts. There's also the prevailing notion in the West that — as far as bombs, explosions, and killings go — Lebanon is simply One of Those Places Where Such Things Happen.

The same goes for places like Iraq, to an even greater extent, which is part of the reason we don't see Obama mourning attacks on all of humanity every time he reads the news out of Baghdad.

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