Day: September 24, 2019

In Indy op-ed, Omar Barghouti blames Israel for his UK visa delay

In a Sept. 23rd Independent op-ed, BDS leader Omar Barghouti, who rejects Israel’s right to exist, responded to the fact that he was unable to speak at the Labour Party conference in Brighton (due to his visa request being delayed) by peddling a conspiracy theory.

I was set to take part in a Labour Party conference fringe event this weekend talking about my work advocating for Palestinian rights – but was unable to travel to Brighton because of a peculiar delay in the processing of my UK visa application. I suspect that Israel’s far-right government has once again outsourced its desperate war of repression against those supporting Palestinian rights to another western government.

Barghouti’s suggestion is clear: that his visa application delay was not the fault of the UK Home Office, or even Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but, rather, the government in Jerusalem – an allegation…

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The IDI and government data linking

croaking cassandra

Browsing on The Treasury’s website the other day, it was the title that caught my eye: “Talkin’ about a revolution”.   I’m rather wary of revolutions.  Even when –  not always, or perhaps even often –  good and noble ideas help inspire them, the outcomes all too often leave a great deal to be desired.   There are various, quite different, reasons for that, but one is about the failure to think through, or care about, things –  themselves initially small or seemingly unimportant – that the revolution opens the way to.

This particular “revolution” – billed as “a quiet and sedate revolution, but a revolution nonetheless” – was sparked by Statistics New Zealand’s Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI).   Here is the Treasury author

The creation of Stats NZ’s IDI (or Integrated Data Infrastructure), a treasure trove of linked data, sparked the revolution, and its ongoing development drives it…

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Book Review

A Blog on Winston Churchill

Faith in appeasement, the central tenet of British foreign policy throughout the 1930s, remained strong among the most devout long after it had been exposed as entirely bankrupt. Even as it lay in tatters with the German military massing on the Polish frontier for the invasion of Poland in the late summer of 1939, the virtually disloyal British ambassador to Berlin Sir Nevile Henderson recommended the Polish government concede to Hitler’s demands, while in London R.A.B. Butler, member of parliament, despaired that the British Foreign Office was displaying an unwarranted “absolute inhibition” to pressure the Poles to negotiate. After the German invasion of Poland, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and his government prevaricated one last time before finally declaring war on Germany.

Appeasement was “the attempt by Britain and France to avoid war by making ‘reasonable’ concessions to German and Italian grievances.” The long list of “reasonable concessions” when finally catalogued included…

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No Punches Pulled

There’s a lot of silliness currently being talked about building industry sub-contractors being left unpaid following the failure of building companies. Calls for builders to maintain trust funds ignore practicalities.

But let’s get one thing straight. Being left out of pocket through commercial failure goes with the territory of running any business. My company here and abroad would lose on average over a decade, 5 to 10 million dollars through lessee failure. So too suppliers to retailers, and retailers themselves through hire purchase failures, theft, unsold stock and so on. Publishers produce books which bomb, retailers buy a line of goods customers reject, and so it goes. No‑one is immune, even professionals when their clients go belly‑up.

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My @DomPost op-ed on viewpoint discrimination in the abortion bill restrictions on clinic protests @familyfirstnz @NZFreeSpeech


Policy costings office: a perspective from Australia

45 staff to run spreadsheets with no dynamic scoring!

croaking cassandra

Over the years I’ve written a fair bit here about the idea of some sort of independent fiscal analysis body (most recent post here, with links to earlier ones).   There are ever-increasing numbers of such agencies around the world, partly because the EU says each of its member countries has to have one.  As I’ve argued here, I think there is a reasonable case for some sort of such body here – small and focused on all macro policy rather than just fiscal policy – but I’ve become increasingly sceptical of the sort of direction the current government has chosen to take.   They seem to be looking at something that serves mostly as free research for MPs costing policies, perhaps most closely resembling the Australian Parliamentary Budget Office set up a couple of election cycles ago.

The Treasury yesterday held an excellent guest lecture on the issue…

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Malcolm Gladwell and other authors who make big errors in their books

Why Evolution Is True

When I started writing books for the general public (“trade books”, as they call them), I was surprised to find out that I alone was responsible for the accuracy of their content. While publishers do have their legal departments vet books that may violate laws against libel, or cause other legal troubles, publishers have neither the time nor the money to have books thoroughly fact-checked. This is one reason why authors put references for many factual statements at the end of the book, as I did with my two.

Even so, errors slip in, and sometimes those errors are numerous.  A new piece in the New York Times cites some serious or numerous mistakes in popular books. Here are four that are highlighted:

Accusations of sloppiness and journalistic malpractice now quickly explode on social media. Ms. [Jill] Abramson was pilloried on Twitter by sources and other journalists this year for…

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