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Daily Archives: November 15, 2019
The Hi-Tech Traditionalist: From Samizdat To Memetics What Is Similar And What Is Different Between Soviet And American Dissidents – Tsarizm
Posted: November 15, 2019 at 1:48 pm
Americans are late to come to terms with their loss of freedom and its consequences. Most choose to remain inside the Matrix.
Amazingly, I remember them still. Their fragile pages of carbon copy paper fraying at the edges from use by many hundreds if not thousands, use that should have shredded them to pieces a long time ago. The bindings, if you can call it that, pieces of black or green poster board sewn to the pages with simple needle and thread as if they were socks that needed darning. Inside, faint blue letters, copies of copies of copies, with the words of Alexander Solzhenitsyn or Natan Sharansky or a few lines of Hebrew text with Russian transliterations.
They made furtive appearances in our small Kiev apartment, these fleeting guests, much admired, revered almost, hidden from view, only appearing on our living room coffee table at night when special guests like the lonely Jewish jazz musician who practiced his base playing late at night in his upstairs apartment came to visit. They were read out loud, if one can call loud barely audible whispering and each passage was endlessly pored over, discussed, passionately argued.
The existence of places out there in which any book could be printed, sold, bought, and read in the open was postulated, but never really fully believed. That these same places had blue jeans and winter coats made out of synthetic materials rather than cotton wool and canvas and could be closed using (GASP) zippers, was way too much to give any credence to.
You see, my friends, in the 1970s USSR many books and other writings were forbidden to print, disseminate, and even possess. Among them were writings by those who exposed the brutality of the Soviet system and its utter incompetence in allowing the Germans to attack Russia in June of 1941 and in prosecuting the ensuing war for the first to years. There were pamphlets by prominent regime critics like Sakharov and Jewish community leaders who wished to leave the USSR and repatriate to Israel, like Sharansky and Edelshtein. For those who, like my parents, dreamed that such an impossible dream may one day become a reality and wished to be prepared, there were Hebrew language textbooks, also forbidden in the communist Russia.
The hunger for these illicit words was so large, the market demand as we might call it in the West, so strong, that an underground publishing network was born. This anti-regime, anti-communist network got a very communist name, a portmanteau, a word mashup: Samizdat. Made up from the words sam (myself) and izdatyelstvo (publishing house), Samizdat was a loose network of brave souls who had access to carbon copy machines at their place of work and who, at much personal risk to their freedom and livelihoods spent nights copying copies of forbidden books that someone had dropped off for them. The copies would then be passed from user to user, never permanently given away let alone sold, lent for a short time before they had to move on.
Samizdat was riddled with KGB infiltrators and many of its producers and users were discovered. The producers, those nocturnal copiers and binders, got prison terms. The users, like my parents, would more typically get expelled from their universities, fired from their jobs, get notes in their ever-present permanent records that would make it impossible for them to find other employment or other places to study. Quite often, their privileges of living in large cities like Kiev or Moscow or Leningrad were revoked and they had to eke out a marginal existence in the periphery, in Central Asia or in Siberia.
This happened often; Samizdat people hardly well-trained operatives. They were just secretaries and lab assistants, and grad students, but the network grew until it won the war with the regime and earned its own redundancy. Alas, things did not turn out, in the most part, as the Samizdat people had thought they would. Many of the Jewish or pretend-Jewish folks left the USSR, some in the 1970s when it was dangerous, others in the 1990s when it was safe, some to settle in Israel, others in Brighton Beach. Non-Jews stayed on through the terrible deprivations of the 1990s and on to Putins klepto-oligarchy of today.
But what about that magical place at the other end of the rainbow, the place of blue jeans and rock n roll, of freedom to print and read anything we want?
It did seem for a while that such a place had indeed existed, didnt it? I well remember my fathers great sigh of relief when on a grey chilly morning in November of 1973 our train crossed the miles upon miles of razor wire that was the East German Austrian border. This was the West! We were finally free.
Nearly half a century had passed since those giddy days and it was not kind to the original inhabitants of the Land of Freedom. They took for granted the freedom that so many in the USSR were willing to give their very lives for and they squandered it. They sold it for cheap drugs, cheap porn, cheap government handouts. They treated it like a crack whore, this precious gift of liberty that was handed down to them by the blood of generations upon generations of their ancestors. They flooded their countries with countless foreigners to whom the concept of freedom was as foreign as gay marriage would have been to the Founding Fathers.
Liberty is not a bird that long lives where it is not wanted, so it has long since departed the lands of the West, perhaps all the lands of Men and returned, Tolkien-like, to its abode somewhere far beyond the setting sun. The America of today, that erstwhile bastion of freedom, that shimmering mirage that glimmered over the western skies of my childhood and did battle with the Soviet jammers on short wave radio when I was a kid is no longer any more free than the USSR used to be, though it is still far more prosperous. Just like in the early days of the Bolshevik revolution, the American Bolsheviks are engaging in a frenzy of statue destruction and book banning. Just like in the old Soviet bloc or in todays China, faceless apparatchiks are lording it over us every second of every day from their sinecures at the Deep State and its metastatic arms, the corporate HR departments.
Just like there, in the East, we in the West are forced to believe and publicly profess things that are obviously false, though here they are, perversely, of predominantly sexual nature. Things that were and should be abhorrent to every human throughout history like sodomy and the sexual exploitation of children are celebrated in the public square, any opposition to them earning you the Soviet treatment of losing your job, your university admissions, your livelihood, your career, your electronic platform.
Signs of resistance are appearing. American dissidents like Laura Loomer, brave souls who are willing to risk much are standing up to be counted. An American Samizdat of sorts, adjusted for the 21st century is being born in the shape of memetics, images and short video clips that cut through the chase with scathing humor and deadly accuracy. Because the creation of these communiques requires a free and even rebellious spirit, our grey masters suck at this medium. No one they can hire can do it well simply because the condition of hire is unquestioning allegiance to Loshanqua from HR and daily recital of diversity is our strength and men can menstruate. People like that cannot meme and will never be able to.
Pepe the Frog is a great symbol of freedom from the rule of the world elites, but let yourself not be fooled, he is more of a sanctioned safety valve variety than a true revolutionary. All totalitarian regimes have safety valves, means for the enslaved masses to express their discontent, to grumble, to have an illusion of agency, a mirage of freedom. It is simply cheaper to maintain these safety valves than to engage in Stalinist full-scale nonstop repression. A population that is, Matrix-like, manipulated to think that it is (or may one day be) free is a more peaceful, compliant, and productive population than one that has no hopes for a better life and has only experienced beatings. Plus, repeated beatings have a problem with diminished returns as populations subject to them develop an ever-higher threshold for pain.
Samizdat was to a large degree a safety valve. The KGB could have shut it down in a minute. The communist party simply didnt want them to. They were ordered to play a cat and mouse game which convinced the Samizdat people that they were doing something exceptionally brave and that things were getting better because of them, but was never intended to shut them down.
The much more sophisticated totalitarian rulers of America have developed a system of two complimentary safety valves. First and foremost they have a stable of bought and paid for mainstream resistance leaders who go on Fox and some other media channels and utter strong words from behind fat contracts and daily briefings that set out in excruciating detail just how stunningly brave they are allowed to be. These are the Laura Ingrahams, the Sean Hannitys, the Tucker Carlsons and the Ben Shapiros of the world. They could be called controlled opposition, if they were any kind of opposition rather than simply the loyal employees of the ruling technocracy. This safety valve is now operating at near 100% efficiency and its efficacy is unmatched.
Yet the highly advanced American ruling elites, having built themselves up on the shoulders of high technology, are not satisfied with this valve alone. To supplement it, they have allowed, on the margins, a Samizdat-like grassroots resistance movement that produces memes and wacko conspiracy theories and constantly pats itself on the shoulder for being so amazingly, so stunningly brave. Just like Samizdat, the folks in this movement, the likes of Jack Posobiec and many others do not work for the elites, but they might as well be because they provide Americans with an illusion of freedom, a simulacrum of it, and most regrettably with an excuse not to see the truth and start developing real strategies for coping with it.
Just like the KGB could shut Samizdat down at will, so can the the American techno-oligarchy shut down Pepe and his disciples within moments from being ordered to do so. Not a single 1 or 0, neither a solitary electron, nor a lonesome photon goes from one place to the next in America without express permission of the elites. Of that we can be certain. So the truth, my friends, is much worse than it appears to be. But wait! There is more! Not content with creating the best let-the-steam-out social safety valves that have ever existed, the American ruling classes have created historys most powerful social control instrument: fiat money.
You see, money does not exist anymore. What exists are 1s and 0s that our rulers have made us believe to be money. And since they control everything about these 1s and 0s, they control everything about money. Dont believe me? Ask yourself what would happen to your mortgage payments if interest rates go up by a couple of percent.
So here is the bottom line, folks. That glimmering, shimmering mirage that was the West, with its freedom and liberty and blue jeans did exist for a while, but it didnt put up much of a fight and sold itself out for a few fake dollars. Now what remains to us is what the real dissidents in the USSR had: the freedom of the mind. Consuming, uncritically, the 1s and 0s that come at us from any source including this one does not make you free or brave. Think for yourself. Become an intellectual. Read old books before they are banned and destroyed. Watch old movies and try to get into the minds of Americans from decades past, Americans who really were free. Understand what has been lost. Mourn it. When repeating the mantras that our rulers demand of us, keep a strong mental reservation. Acknowledge to yourself that they are false, ridiculous even, but repeat them nonetheless. After all, you still have a mortgage to pay and kids to put through college.
Speaking of kids, have them. Have many kids and teach them that once there was freedom and maybe, if they are lucky they may yet experience it for themselves one day though that day may be far, far away.
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Posted: at 1:46 pm
The New Zealand Parliament voted in favor of legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide Wednesday, sending the bill to a referendum next year.
The End of Life Choice Bill was passed November 13 by a vote of 69-51.
It would allow terminally ill persons who have six months or fewer to live to be euthanized or to themselves take a lethal dose of prescribed drugs, on the condition that two doctors agree the person is well-informed.
An earlier version of the bill would have allowed those with severe or incurable conditions to seek euthanasia or assisted as well.
The bill was introduced by David Seymour of ACT New Zealand, a crossbench, libertarian party.
It is supported by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of the New Zealand Labour Party.
Maggie Barry, a member of parliament of the opposition New Zealand National Party, said the bill is dangerous and permissive, according to Reuters.
A 2017 inquiry prepared by the health committee of the 51st New Zealand Parliament (which was controlled by the National Party) did not recommend the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Weve tried to distil all the arguments and our recommendation to both the Parliament and the people of New Zealand is to read this report and come to a deeper understanding of whats been asked around assisted suicide and euthanasia, Simon OConnor, then-chair of the health committee, said in August 2017.
When the National Party was governing, it concluded that the public would be endangered by legalization of the practices.
Submissions cited concern for vulnerable people, such as the elderly and the disabled, those with mental illnesses, and those susceptible to coercion. Others argued that life has an innate value and that introducing assisted dying and euthanasia would explicitly undermine that idea. To do so would suggest that some lives are worth more than others. There were also concerns that, once introduced, eligibility for assisted dying would rapidly expand well beyond what was first intended, the report of the health committee of the 51st parliament read.
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Posted: at 1:46 pm
On Wednesday night, New Zealand MPs voted to adopt the end of life choice bill despite any number of warnings that it is a dangerous piece of work. It is risky to disabled people and unsafe to all.
In 2016, Canada passed euthanasia legislation and a consortium of appalled disabled Canadians fought a desperate rearguard action to bring in a vulnerable persons standard (VPS). Wed not need that sort of thing, I thought. Clearly I was complacent. Disabled Australians, Canadians and Americans are appalled at euthanasia bills while British, Irish and Scots are incandescent.
I feel betrayed by Parliaments vote. Do we need something like a VPS here, for disabled New Zealanders I wonder?
Now all that stands between us and this bill is a referendum scheduled to coincide with our next general election, in 2020. Then there may be no way for the community of disabled people like me (25% of New Zealands population), to feel safe from wrongful death.
The law creates a risk to individuals in our community of disabled people and to our community as a whole. How can any MP be able to agree to a measure that endangers a whole community that they are not a member of? Our legislative safeguards have stepped into the shadows and too many MPs think thats an acceptable trade-off. A friendly QC commented on my vulnerability to the law thus: Youre toast. Me and how many other disabled people?
Our concerns about the bill are many. They include that the bill cannot and does not make firm distinctions between personal illness and disability or between terminal illness and chronic conditions, or between terminal illness and depression or other mental illness. It relies on prognosis and diagnosis, which are imprecise arts. It doesnt protect against coercion, competency or consent abuses.
It doesnt allow for a cooling-down period like Oregon or Victoria have. Safeguards are vague and lax. Worse still, theres a sense that a certain level of wrongful death is acceptable.
Nearly 39,000 people wrote public submissions as the bill went through the parliamentary processes, and over 90% of them said: No, no legalising euthanasia thanks. From a total population of nearly 5 million, it was the largest number of submissions ever to any proposed New Zealand law. But even this clear response had painfully little impact on MPs, who seemed to respond to other stimuli or were mired in their individualistic tragedy narratives. The suffering they knew of somewhere else, the individual stories or the 10% who said Yes change it was much more important.
Yes, there are many individual stories both for and against this bill. All deserve respect because telling them takes effort. But theres more to good law than basing it on individual stories. Its about the collective impact on our community. It should be good, safe law for all. Thats what MPs are there to do but didnt.
And theres the referendum to come. The question in it just says, do you support this bill? Too vague.
Its to be hoped that the population at large can do a sound job, but that depends on the quality and range of information they get. MPs had a huge range of sound, factual information. But judging from their voting record, many clearly disregarded heaps of it. Instead leaving Janet and John Voter to do the work.
Who knows if they will get good information to enable choice. Maybe theyll vote yes because they think this bill allows things that are already legal, like adequate pain relief. Polls on the issue show worrying levels of awareness. So I hope the information providers can do a great job for Janet and John Voter, who really need it.
I convene Not Dead Yet Aotearoa, the nationwide disabled-people-run network. We have opposed the legalisation of euthanasia for some years now. The opposition we express is consistently based on concerns that society is full of negative, biased and discriminatory attitudes and behaviours, so that people think disabled lives are less worthy. Given this attitude as a basis, the state provides really limited support for us to live well. So its disturbing when laws are put up that mean the state will provide the means to die, not live. But thats where we are now. We arent dead yet and we dont want state-sanctioned death support.
As NZ votes on euthanasia bill, here is a historical perspective on a ‘good death’ – The Conversation AU
Posted: at 1:46 pm
This week New Zealands parliamentarians will vote on the third reading of the End of Life Choice Bill.
Much public discussion on the merits of euthanasia has centred around the role of the medical practitioner as healer. Some doctors and conscientious objectors worry that physician-assisted suicide will alter the relationship between doctors and their patients. They argue it is unethical, often invoking the Hippocratic oath.
The oldest code of medical ethics, the oath dates to around the fourth century BC and is still sworn by doctors today. It specifically forbids physicians from administering lethal drugs, among its other precepts.
Some critics of the bill present religious and moral objections against euthanasia, while proponents have focused on the trauma and pain of terminally ill patients and their families. All these arguments have a long history.
Read more: In places where it's legal, how many people are ending their lives using euthanasia?
Like the Hippocratic oath, euthanasia (in its literal meaning of good death in ancient Greek) first appeared around the fourth and third century BC. Ancient Roman emperors, at deaths door, were known to consume wine, drugs and other palliatives to ease their dying. Good emperors were believed to deserve a dignified death, and often staged them.
In pre-modern Europe, experiencing a good death and intentionally shortening the agony of dying were separate matters. From 1400 on, there was a thriving trade in advice books on the art of dying. These instructed readers on how to prepare their souls for a good death and the Christian afterlife.
Prayers, rituals and information about what to expect offered practical guidance for attaining salvation. Christian theologians saw euthanasia as a blessed and peaceful death of the faithful.
Whether and how people sought to hasten or ameliorate death is less clear. Scholars only began considering the doctors role in enabling euthanasia in the late 16th century.
In 1605, English lawyer, statesman and natural philosopher Francis Bacon wrote that the physicians office extends to matters of health as well as dying. In his words, a physician ought not only to restore health, but to mitigate dolours, and torments of Diseases. If there was no hope of the patients recovery, everything should be done to make a fair and easie passage out of life.
Bacon called this fair and easie passage euthanasia. Importantly, he distinguished between outward euthanasia and the souls peaceful transition to the afterlife. While the latter remained the purview of the spiritual realm, Bacon placed the former within medicines province.
Until recently, historians believed active euthanasia did not exist in pre-modern Europe, but historian of medicine Michael Stolberg has challenged this notion.
A physician in 1660s Antwerp, Michiel Boudewijns, wondered whether doctors could help their terminal patients die. While moved by patients in agony, Boudewijns urged Christian doctors to observe the fifth commandment and the Hippocratic rule of do no harm. He cautioned his colleagues against undertaking risky procedures and acting on compassion to expedite death in hopeless cases.
Read more: How hypothetical designs can help us think through our conversations about euthanasia
Physicians also feared patients would lose trust in them if they knew they shortened dying patients lives. It was not until the late 17th century that facilitating dying sparked public debate among scholars. In 1678, Caspar Questel, a Silesian lawyer active in Saxony, wrote about assisted dying in the homes of ordinary people.
Methods to accelerate dying ranged from acts of faith and folklore to illegal actions. Questel had discovered that family members, nurses, nuns and other carers removed the pillow from under the head of the dying person. It was a widespread custom that was believed to quicken death.
Other forms of assistance included opening a window so the soul of the dying person would be encouraged to leave the body and meet God, placing lit candles around the gravely sick and placing the dying on the ground or putting them outdoors. More fatal actions involved suffocating the dying with a pillow or cutting their veins. Exercising empathy for the suffering of the dying was weighed against the risk of being charged for their premature deaths.
In present-day New Zealand, if this weeks vote is in favour of euthanasia, the option for assisted dying will still need to be ratified in a referendum next year.
Clearly, cultural customs, prevailing medical ethics and beliefs about death and the afterlife have evolved over time. Today discussions about euthanasia involve a wider range of participants than in pre-modern Europe. The distance between learned professionals and everyone else has narrowed. Civil rights, legal precedents and protections have given us a new language and ethics through which to understand fraught issues concerning our health, body and death.
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OPINION:Now that New Zealanders have been passed the responsibility of decidingwhether euthanasia is to be legalised it is time to take the passion out of an impassioned debate.
Between now and when the referendum is held next year we have a moral duty to put aside our prejudices andlisten with an open mind to all sides.
We need to be conscious there will be those in thisdebateseeking to hijack ouremotions. Yet we also need to understand they'll be doing sofrom a position of absolute sincerity.
At its most basic it appears an easy choice. Should we be allowed to end our lives when we are terminally illand death is just six months away, or should we not.
READ MORE:* Euthanasia bill passes 69-51,the final decision a referendum* Historic right to die bill passes first hurdle* Should Kiwis have the right to die with 'dignity'?* Jackson: Dying with dignity should be a right
The issue is much deeper than that. Itbelies the simple yes or no answer a referendum requires.
It's the right to dignity in your final days versus therisk of being coercedinto ending it.It's individual freedom versus thestate's duty to protect the individual and the ability of medical scienceto keep us alive versus a subjective judgment on what quality of life we must have to make it worth living.
David Seymour celebrates his euthanasia bill passing on Wednesday night. It will now be included on a referendum at next year's election.
It could also bethat once you've familiarised yourself with the details of the billyou realise you support euthanasia yetreject thisapproach as flawed. The same could be true for the reverse.
Thereare certainly cases where denying someone theability to end their own life appears cruel and unusual. Few could argue lawyer Lecretia Seales' last days alive weren't made more painful by her inability to end it.
The manner of herdeath was heartbreaking. Not just because of the pain she was inbut also because of how much she sacrificed pushing for change, even when it was clear she would never benefit from that change.
Her death will certainly be used to argue for the right to end your life. Suffering like that endured by Sealesis often compared to how we treat sick animals, a demonstration that animals are treated more humanely.
Yet such a statement that so aggressively grabs for your sense of outrage must also include that this "humanity" is largely extended to avoid personal cost.
Each year millions of animals die grislydeaths in this country. From any objective viewpoint they are not treated better than humans. Not even close.
Being open to understanding the gravity of this decision meansacknowledging the validity of qualified opinions, no matter how much they clash with your values.
As a GP, National MP Shane Reti's views must be recognised as having insights those outside the medical field may not be able to appreciate.
When he says he would not want the spectre of euthanasia hanging over every consultation, we should take that on board as reasonable and consider how this bill could change the doctor-patient relationship.
Yet his other comment that the world would have lost some "brightness" had Beethoven ended his life six months earlyto relievethe suffering his cirrhosis was causing, is an appeal to our emotions rather than our logic.
Euthanasia will not result in a dearth of high culture. And surely, as a nation, we don't want to prolong an individual's suffering simply to increase the range of amusements available to us.
Whatever decision the referendum yields, that we are even having it shows the current system is not meeting our needs.
It is time to talk about what those needs are. Strip away the fears, strip away the emotions, look past the simplistic arguments, keep it reasonedand be prepared to listen.
Then let your decision come from that.
Posted: at 1:46 pm
In 2014, my terminally ill wife, Lecretia Seales, informed me that she would like to have a choice about how she died. She was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2011, and after three years, her treatments were no longer effective. She had come to accept that her death was inevitable.
She had watched Terry Pratchetts lecture, Shaking Hands with Death, and she believed, like Pratchett, that she should be able to have a say about how her death might happen.
I am not afraid of dying, but I am petrified by what may happen to me in the lead-up to my death, Lecretia said at the time. My greatest fear is that my husband will have a mad wife to deal with, like Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre. As far as Im concerned, if I get to a point where I can no longer recognise or communicate with my husband, then for all intents and purposes, I will already be dead.
Lecretia was an accomplished law reformer who had worked for two New Zealand prime ministers. She sensed an injustice, and she decided to challenge the government for the right to be assisted to die.
In May 2015, Seales v Attorney General was front page news. My wife was pulled into a media maelstrom, and her family and I were reluctantly dragged in with her.
By the time the court case ended, Lecretia was confined to a wheelchair and in rapid decline. It took seven days for the final ruling to be delivered to her, and it was provided to us under a 24-hour embargo. She did not get the ruling she sought. And that night, the last of her energy expended, she died, aged 42.
Although the case did not go her way, Justice Collins made several significant and helpful rulings:
Between 5% and 8% of all suicides in New Zealand are attributable to people avoiding the worst of their terminal illnesses. An assisted dying law might help prevent people taking their own lives.
Evidence from both sides showed that palliative care could not alleviate all suffering. Like medicine, palliative care is not perfect and will occasionally fail us.
Lecretia was a competent individual who was not vulnerable. If a law were available, her desire to use it should be respected, and her competence not questioned.
On Wednesday night, the end of life choice bill passed its third and final reading, with 69 votes in favour and 51 against. David Seymour the bills sponsor and leader of a party-of-one has achieved an unprecedented outcome, though not without compromise.
MPs from National and Labour, the two major parties, had a range of concerns and were free to vote according to their conscience, while the Green party insisted that their eight votes would be given only if the bill were restricted to the terminally ill. In response, Seymour narrowed the focus of the bill to ensure support without losing its general tenor.
The final version of the bill restricts access to assisted dying to terminally ill New Zealanders, who are suffering intolerably, who are mentally competent, who are over 18, and whose death is reasonably foreseeable within six months. All of these criteria must be met.
A doctor is not allowed to suggest assisted dying. The request must be initiated by and pursued by the patient. The doctor is obliged to stop the process should they have even the slightest suspicion the patient is being coerced. Doctors who fail to follow the letter of the law would face criminal sanctions.
Anyone attempting to coerce someone would continue to be guilty of a serious crime.
New Zealand First, another minority party, pledged their nine votes on one condition: that the bills enactment is subject to a general referendum. This condition was attached to the final version of the bill last month, and that bill was passed into law on Wednesday night.
New Zealand will have a referendum on the end of life choice bill within the next 12 months. New Zealanders are being asked to vote on a fully drafted law that has been forged in the fire of two years of heated parliamentary debate. They can either accept the law as written, or reject it.
If public support holds, it should pass. In 2018, a University of Otago researcher reviewed the history of all assisted dying polls in New Zealand and concluded that support for some form of assisted dying legislation averages at 68%, with 15% opposed.
Today, Lecretia is back on the front pages of New Zealands newspapers, almost five years after her death. When I look at her now after so long, I see two women: the woman I knew and loved, and the woman now widely known to many as a symbol of compassion and personal freedom. She was so brave. She took a deeply personal time in her life and made it public. On Wednesday, her actions helped change history, and I couldnt be more proud of her. She may yet change the world.
Matt Vickers is the widower of assisted dying campaigner Lecretia Seales, and the author of Lecretias Choice (Text Publishing)
Posted: at 1:46 pm
By Peter Wilson*.
Analysis: The government moves cautiously on new gun laws, a politically acceptable education shake-up is announced, there's a solution to the Indian partner problem and Parliament sends the End of Life Choice Bill to a referendum.
It's been another busy week in politics. Photo: 123RF
The government began the week by cautiously proposing new gun control laws.
The Firearms Prohibition Orders it wants to put in place are intended to stop those with serious convictions from possessing, using or being anywhere near guns. That's going to raise human rights issues, and Police Minister Stuart Nash knows it.
Several times during Monday's press conference he emphasised the importance of public consultation on where to draw the line, what sort of previous convictions should make a person eligible for an FPO and the extent of police powers to monitor and enforce them.
Explaining the need for FPOs, Mr Nash laid out grim statistics: the number of guns stolen in burglaries increased from 440 in 2010 to 771 last year, in the past 15 months nearly 1050 were stolen. Every month, police were turning up at 200 events where guns were involved.
The consultation process goes on until year end and legislation will have to be drafted fairly smartly after that to get FPOs in law before the election.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins revealed the government's response to the recommendations of the education review it ordered soon after coming into office, and there was no sign of the controversial regional hubs which the report suggested should take over nearly all the functions of school boards.
He has instead chosen to take zoning and enrolment away from schools and put the ministry in charge of it through a new support agency. There will be new criteria for principals and there will be changes to the way school property is managed, but otherwise it's more or less business as usual.
Mr Hipkins was mainly worried about zoning and enrolment. "We've actually got to do a better job of this if we're going to make sure that every kid can attend their local school," he said.
His decision to remove it from schools followed concerns some were manipulating their zones to include wealthy neighbourhoods while excluding closer, disadvantaged areas, RNZ reported.
National's Simon Bridges, always suspicious of the government's intentions, said it seemed ministers were still looking for ways to centralise power and control over education.
There doesn't appear to have been either strong or unfavourable reactions from within the sector, and the Dominion Post summed it up like this in an editorial: "The overall impression is of a response that leaves no-one particularly happy Hipkins will no doubt be happy he has found a solution that is at least politically palatable."
Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway also appears to have found a politically palatable solution to the arranged marriages problem.
Changes initiated by Immigration NZ in May to strictly enforce the rules around visas for spouses coming from India after arranged marriages made it much more difficult to get them, and caused outrage. There were threats to punish Labour at the ballot box and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the change would be reversed - despite support for it from coalition partner New Zealand First.
A neat way has been found to get around this potentially damaging situation. Arranged marriage spouses will be granted three-month culturally arranged marriage visitor visas so they can live here and demonstrate to Immigration NZ's satisfaction that they are in a genuine and stable relationship.
Previously, the culturally arranged visas had applied only when marriages took place in New Zealand, now they will cover marriages in other countries. The department will be making sure those overseas marriages followed cultural tradition.
On Wednesday night Parliament made its final decision on the End of Life Choice Bill. On a vote of 69 to 51 David Seymour's bill passed its third reading and its supporters celebrated in the debating chamber, but whether it becomes law will be decided by a referendum held at the same time as next year's general election.
That will take place alongside a referendum on legalising cannabis, which has raised questions about how much voters can handle at the same time as choosing a government.
Justice Minister Andrew Little is worried about the torrent of information, and misinformation, that supporters and opponents of both issues are going to pour out.
In a bid to counter this, teams of officials in his ministry will prepare neutral, factual information on the End of Life Choice Bill and legalising cannabis.
However, they won't be reporting on misinformation. That will be up to the activists, and they're likely to take exception to much of what their opponents have to say. Mr Little says the Advertising Standards Authority will handle the complaints, and he's far from confident it will make a good job of it.
"The ASA might wise up between now and the early part of next year. I hope they do," he told the New Zealand Herald. "I just hope they understand they have a responsibility when they are regulating advertising for the purposes of a general election and or a referendum."
Mr Little recently lost a case and he cited another: "Somebody complained about an ad that said ice cream made you happy, and they ruled that the ad had to be removed because it was factually incorrect," he said. "You've got to wonder where their heads are at I want to meet the person who had an ice cream and it hasn't made them happy."
Mr Little said the two decisions in quick succession "show they are possibly operating on a different planet". The authority's chief executive, Hilary Souter, said the ASA recognised free speech and differences of political opinion. She was surprised by the minister's comments.
*Peter Wilson is a life member of Parliament's press gallery, 22 years as NZPA's political editor and seven as parliamentary bureau chief for NZ Newswire.
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‘No place’ for euthanasia in NZ, doctor says as End of Life Choice bill’s third reading looms – TVNZ
Posted: at 1:46 pm
Just days before the End of Life Choice Bill is read a third time in Parliament, one doctor told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning there is no place for euthanasia in New Zealand.
Dr Sinead Donnelly is one of 1500 doctors who has signed an open letter to Parliament, which opposes the End of Life Choice Bill.
"In my view and in our view of the 1500 doctors there is no place for a doctor intentionally ending the life of another person. Our duty is to care, to serve and to advocate for people," Dr Donnelly said.
She said the view is not just isolated to New Zealand.
"We stand with the World Medical Association that actually represents 114 countries and nine million physicians who say it's not the role of a doctor to end someone's life.
"I truly believe that we can care for people who are suffering and facing death very well and can improve all the time."
While she is against doctors taking up the role of ending someone's life, she said someone else could be trained up to do it, but she's opposed to that idea.
"It's very sad for me to even think of that but I can imagine it would be possible."
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