The Jackal

30 May 2017

MI5 failed to stop Manchester bomber

Today, Stuff reported:

Missed chances to catch Manchester bomber Salman Abedi will be investigated the Home Secretary said as it was claimed that US officials warned MI5 that he was planning an attack.

As the security services faced growing questions over the failure to prevent Abedi from killing 22 people in the Manchester Arena, Amber Rudd said that whether there were "signals" that were not picked up on would be examined.

Despite the terror threat being reduced from critical to severe on Saturday, she confirmed that members of Abedi's terror network could still be at large.

She spoke after claims that the FBI had told MI5 earlier this year that Abedi was part of a north African terror cell based in Manchester looking to launch an attack.

Why didn’t MI5 act on the intelligence? They could have prevented this terrible attack.

US federal agents had been monitoring Abedi since last year and had passed on information from Libya and from intercepting his communications, it was said.

"Following this US tip-off, Abedi and other members of the gang were scrutinised by MI5. It was thought at the time that Abedi was planning to assassinate a political figure.

MI5 thought Abedi was going to assassinate a political figure, but just let him gather the items he needed to make a bomb anyway? Unbelievable!

I wonder who Abedi’s political target was or if he actually had one. Perhaps MI5’s failure to properly act on intel to stop Abedi was because of who they thought his target was?

"But nothing came of this investigation and, tragically, he slipped down the pecking order of targets," a source told The Mail on Sunday.

Abedi was also reported to authorities by residents at least five times in five years.

Reported five times to authorities and they did nothing! It appears that Theresa May's police funding cuts did in deed put Manchester and national security at risk.

Clearly English authorities could have acted on intelligence and therefore prevented the deaths of 22 innocent people. Why they didn’t should be the topic of a thorough inquiry.

29 May 2017

Lack of Brexit virus coverage

You’ve really got to wonder why the government would increase the risk of people getting Hepatitis E from imported pork products, being that HEV can cause serious illness and even death.

On Saturday, the NZ Herald reported:

Brexit virus in pork could already be in New Zealand

In Britain they're calling it the "Brexit virus", a potentially deadly bug linked to pork and smallgoods that has caused people to fall ill, some seriously.

The implications for New Zealand are difficult to gauge but the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) is warning people to cook pork products thoroughly.

The virus, a mutant strain of hepatitis E (HEV), has infected pig herds in various European countries including France, Holland, Denmark and Germany.

New Zealand's pork farmers this week expressed alarm that 65,760 tonnes of pig meat imported into the country every year could threaten the local industry.

Besides the NZ Herald article there was little other coverage. Why the MSM haven't done their jobs properly and informed the public of the risk is beyond me. Hepatitis E is a serious illness after all and any risk to the general population should be widely reported on.

The National led government was warned about the dangers of imported pork products ages ago. They chose not to heed that advice and now we have situations where consumers can no longer trust the pork they want to buy. This will be bad for the entire pork industry as a whole, which is perhaps a reason for the lack of coverage.

If I was a New Zealand pork farmer I would be livid! Not only did the government ignore the industries concerns, the imported pork products have eaten into Kiwi profits and the risk of consumers getting hepatitis E has undoubtedly put more people off eating pork in general.

If a disease like HEV is found to be in lots of imported products and somehow spreads into New Zealand's pigs, there’s a risk it could shut down the entire pork industry here. Clearly National have learnt nothing from the foot and mouth disease outbreaks that crippled the beef industry worldwide.

As usual MPI is downplaying people's valid concerns by incorrectly claiming that the Hepatitis E virus was already in New Zealand pork products and people should just cook their pork thoroughly. That's a bit like saying it's OK with people having to boil their water all the time. What a complete joke of a government.

28 May 2017

A way forward on the vaccination debate

I can see why people have formed strong beliefs for and against the use of vaccines. On one hand you have people suffering preventable diseases and on the other you have people suffering from prescribed medications. In this post I will explore some of the reasons why vaccination is a good and bad idea.

In my opinion, the people currently hollering the loudest are perhaps the worst suited to be promoting or campaigning against vaccines. Many medical professional's are clearly in the pocket of big pharmaceutical companies and it’s likely that the money and perks they receive has clouded their judgment.

Likewise, some anti vaccination campaigners have a financial vested interest in promoting alternative products and sometimes base their arguments on incorrect information.

One of the loudest campaigners for vaccination is Dr Lance O’Sullivan. I don’t mean to be critical of the New Zealander of the year winner, but he simply shouldn't have approached the debate with such anger nor claimed that there’s been a noticeable drop in immunisation rates in Northland this year because of the anti-vaccination movement.

 Yesterday, One News reported:

The anti-vaccination film Vaxxed which has caused an uproar this week isn't turning people away from immunisation, according to the Immunisation Advisory Centre.

The Immunisation Advisory Centre believes the film screenings will have little impact.
"We have no evidence in New Zealand that this movie is turning anybody away from immunisation," said Dr Nikki Turner of the centre.

"What we find is that people just get their entrenched positions. So somebody that didn't support the New Zealand immunisation program in the first place feels very good about this movie."

Within reason, O’Sullivan should of course be allowed to say whatever he wants to, just like the anti vaccination campaigners. Clearly wanting to ban a movie just because people don’t agree with what it says is preposterous! It would be a clear breach of the right to free speech and shows that certain people have learnt nothing from history.

Likewise, the people who’re talking about taking away people’s right to choose if they or their children are vaccinated need to have their heads read. Furthermore, naming and shaming people's children who aren't vaccinated isn’t a practical solution to reducing preventable diseases through vaccination. These are not acceptable arguments to be having in a democratic society people.

Despite the screaming match of a debate the benefits of some vaccines cannot be ignored. Vaccines in general, and it seems most arguments concerning this topic are very generalised, have saved many lives and the pros of using vaccines intelligently do in fact outweigh the cons.

Having said that, the danger of some vaccination products causing adverse side effects, some of them very serious, is real and shouldn’t be ignored. What hasn’t been publicly acknowledged by much of the medical fraternity in New Zealand is that vaccinations aka biologics are the most recalled product of any type of drug currently on the market.

A company on a voluntary basis usually removes problematic vaccines from the market. However, recalls also occur because of a lack of proper drug testing before the product is released. Sometimes the percentage of adverse side effects in the general population is different to the test group and is no longer acceptable. When a product has been shown to have serious adverse side effects such as seizures or death that violate current laws and FDA regulations, authorities will usually remove it. The pro vaccination campaigners who’re trying to paint all vaccine as safe for everybody shouldn't be ignoring these cold hard facts.

There is no question that some people have valid reasons for not using vaccines. In fact the US federal agency Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that some people shouldn’t use certain vaccines. This advice actually applies to every vaccine currently on the market and is why people’s right to choose shouldn’t be removed. Simply put, all vaccines aren’t safe for everybody.

Best practice would be that people should be educated and not feel pressured into being vaccinated without having the opportunity to learn about whether the particular vaccine being promoted by their doctor is right for them and safe for their children. In respect to this, drug companies should not be allowed to control the information that is provided.

Sure, there will be a small amount of people who miss out on beneficial vaccines, but there will also be less adverse reactions through a blanket approach and therefore less outcry against vaccination in general. The upshot is that you simply cannot fix the growing amount of dysfunction surrounding health issues related to poverty in New Zealand by ever increasing levels of vaccination. There are far better long-term solutions to our diabolical and growing rates of preventable diseases.

26 May 2017

National ignores prisoner voting rights

You might recall the National party introducing the Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill in 2010 to take away prisoners’ right to vote.

Apparently their justification for the stupid law change was that people who're serving a jail sentence had somehow breached their social contract FFS!

Despite a clear majority of submissions against the law change and legal advice that said such a change was highly questionable under section 7 of the Bill of Rights Act 1990, the government brought the law into effect anyway.

It’s little wonder then that National putting an end to prisoner’s voting has also been found wanting by the Court of Appeal.

Today, The NZ Herald reported:

Court upholds ruling on 'inconsistent' prisoner voting ban

A decision labelling a ban on prisoners voting a human rights breach has been upheld in the Court of Appeal.

Parliament passed a law to prevent all prisoners from voting in 2010. Previously, only those jailed for more than three years were unable to vote.

Long-time prisoner Arthur Taylor and four others successfully sought a High Court "Declaration of Inconsistency" in 2015, saying extending the ban to all prisoners infringed the right to vote in the Bill of Rights Act.

The Crown then asked the Court of Appeal to overturn that declaration, but in a judgment released today, the appeal was dismissed.

Once again the National led government is wasting public money and precious court resources fighting against the law instead of just doing what’s right.

The declaration alone does not mean Parliament must repeal the ban - the High Court previously noted that even where it finds Parliament has placed unjustified limits on rights, it still has to apply that law.

In that decision, Justice Paul Heath said the purpose of the declaration was to send a formal message that the law was "inconsistent with a fundamental right".

OMG! Finally the Court of Appeal gets something right. Read the full decision here (PDF).

It’s not just a fundamental right that prisoners be allowed to vote, it’s also a legal right that would be beneficial to our democratic process in general. The Bill of Rights is a legally binding act after all.

People in prison are already isolated away from family and society. By taking away their right to vote the Crown is effectively further isolating prisoners and ensuring many don’t give a damn about what’s happening in the real world.

By isolating prisoners away from politics the government is assuring more releasees won’t care about who’s in power and simply fail to participate in local and general elections. This dynamic is assuredly contributing to our very low voter turnout in New Zealand.

It’s doubtful such considerations or Court of Appeal decisions will change the never-ending political fantasy that tough on crime policy is going to make New Zealand a better place though.

Consecutive governments are clearly ideologically blinded by their own lock em up and throw away the key rhetoric… and I’m sure this election campaign will be no bloody different.

Change the god damn blasphemy law

There’s no doubt that a clear majority of New Zealander's won’t mind if the blasphemy law is changed. Like our so-called representatives, most people probably weren’t even aware that they were breaking the law, often on a weekly if not daily basis, by uttering profanities.

Keeping the blasphemy law on the books while the government runs around in circles is just stupid! It's a pitiful decision that will only waste time and money. But don’t tell that to the decrepit old fools in the out-dated National party.

On Wednesday, Stuff reported:

Good heavens! Blasphemy law remains in New Zealand after National and Maori Party vote down repeal

New Zealand's blasphemy law will remain after the National and Maori parties voted against removing it (file photo).

OMG, could this be true? It's still illegal to blaspheme in New Zealand.

Parliament had the opportunity to remove decades-old anti-blasphemy laws but, heaven's above, bailed out on Tuesday night.

Labour MP Chris Hipkins introduced an amendment to remove anti-blasphemy laws but both the National Party and the Maori Party voted against throwing it out of the Crimes Act.

So much for the current government standing for less bureaucracy then.

It's understood National changed its mind about dealing with the law quickly and with the help of the Maori Party stopped it going through.

Instead, the government wanted to go through the process of select committee and give the public the opportunity to submit on the potential law change.

The intention was to include the blasphemy law in the next Crimes Act Amendment Bill, which was being worked through but there was no specific timeframe for when it might make it to Parliament.

On Wednesday English said his preference was to "go through the proper process rather than just spontaneous amendments on the floor of the House".

Instead of removing the draconian blasphemy law, which is never applied, the National and Maori parties have ensured that Parliament’s time and resources are wasted on a debate that doesn’t need to occur.

Clearly the only people who will submit on keeping the law are religious nutters, who are obviously a small minority in New Zealand. They do not represent public opinion and the law should have simply been changed because it needs to be changed and will be changed.

National’s real reason for not supporting the law change? Well they just didn’t want to vote for an amendment put forward by a Labour MP, which just goes to show how childish and inefficient the current government is. What a bunch of policy wonks!