International Politics

Fake news

Staying with Finland, one of the things that inspired the previous post was the news that Finland is planning to move to a four day, six hour work week.

If you follow the news in some way or form, you’ll have probably seen i. This article has been published in major media outlets such as The Guardian and The Independent, not to mention places like Stuff.

The thing is that this story is false. It’s not part of Finnish policy, and the Finnish government has said that there are no plans for such a work week.

How did this story come into existence?

I’ll state the tldr version, but for a full explanation by a proper Finnish outlet, read the article I linked above.

Back in August 2019, would be PM Sanna Marin suggested that a four day six hour work week could raise productivity, but also stated that this was not government policy.

Fast forward to January 2020, and Marin is now PM of Finland. An Austrian and then a Belgian news outlet pick up on the story, and they frame it as if it’s a) government policy, and b) a new initiative that’s only come about since Marin became PM.

Domino effect, and now the whole world thinks that Finland is going to switch to a four day six hour work week.

While there aren’t really any adverse effects from the spread of this story, it’s still scary – if fake news like this can spread so quickly, what would happen if a more sinister story spread like this one?

Finland rocks!

Finland is just the most amazing country, and I felt the need to do a post about why they are so damned cool.

They have the second youngest leader in the world – Sanna Marin, who’s also the world’s youngest female leader.

All five of the parties that make up their government are lead by women – so yay, diversity points!

Well, maybe not exactly diversity points, but you get the idea. Good progress regardless.

Finally, they’re also the only nation in Europe that has their homeless rate going down – all thanks to their new approach to tackling homelessness.

The policy applied in Finland is called “HousingFirst”. It reverses conventional homeless aid. More commonly, those affected are expected to look for a job and free themselves from their psychological problems or addictions. Only then they get help in finding accommodation.

“Housing First”, on the other hand, reverses the path: Homeless people get a flat – without any preconditions. Social workers help them with applications for social benefits and are available for counselling in general. In such a new, secure situation, it is easier for those affected to find a job and take care of their physical and mental health.

When you think about it, it seems obvious. Of course getting a job and freeing yourself from your addictions is going to be easier when you don’t have to worry about where you’ll be sleeping each night.

Four out of five homeless Finns will find themselves on the path to a better life thanks to HousingFirst.

The killer is that long term, it’s cheaper than leaving people on the streets thanks to the costs that come with homelessness existing:

When people are in emergency situations, emergencies are more frequent: Assaults, injuries, breakdowns. The police, health care and justice systems are more often called upon to step in – and this also costs money.

Finland saves 15000 euros a year for every homeless person on the street thanks to HousingFirst.

Finland, you rock. I hope NZ can follow your lead.

Pretending to care

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker was always going to be controversial. But now it’s controversial because of something that really shouldn’t be controversial – gay people’s existence.

Full disclosure – I have not yet been able to see The Rise Of Skywalker so please don’t spoil it in the comments for the two of you that might actually comment.

Anyway, The Rise Of Skywalker features a scene where two minor characters of the gender kiss. From what I can tell from twitter, it’s a moment that’s very easy to miss.

Which isn’t really good enough. However, regardless of being not enough, any LGBT representation is still a step in the right direction. So I would have been happy with Disney here had that scene not been removed for showings in Singapore and Dubai.

That tells you everything you need to know. Disney will act like they care about and support the LGBT community – unless it means they miss out homophobes’ money. This is a company that made 19 billion dollars in 2019’s fourth quarter. They can afford to have the smallest amount of a spine.

I’ll leave you on this tweet that perfectly sums up the situation:

A terrible, terrible, idea

Failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has refused to rule out a third presidential run, stating that she is under pressure from “many, many, many, people” to consider a third attempt.

People. Stop.

Clinton lost in 2016. The American people did not choose her, they chose Trump. Yes, Clinton won the popular vote, but the key people, those who live in Florida and Pennsylvania, did not choose her. What about her is going to make them change their minds? Fresh ideas are needed.

The Democratic field is crowded enough by candidates who’s supporters will turn salty when they don’t win already – like what happened with Sanders in 2016 – and they don’t need another. They’re trying to beat Trump, for god’s sake.

Also, she’d not even be entered into the ballot for some states. No matter what way you look at it, at this late, late, stage it makes zero sense for her to run.

Bernie Sanders shows why the Zero Carbon bill was so important

US presidential candidate and democratic nominee Bernie Sanders has praised New Zealand for our Zero Carbon bill, and has promised to do something similar if he wins the presidency.

This is the power of New Zealand’s action on climate change. This is why the Zero Carbon bill is so important.

Throughout the past few years, people have been questioning why NZ should take action on climate change when NZ produces so little emissions compared to the rest of the world.

While those that say that have a point, yes, NZ introducing measures alone won’t do anything, it’s the setting of an example that matters. New Zealand has just shown to the world that something like this is possible, and other countries can follow our lead.

To have the US, one of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters, even consider following our lead is a gigantic achievement. Hopefully more nations, and their actual governments will also follow our lead in the near future.

The Cook Islands need our help

The Cook Islands have reversed their 2017 decision to decriminalize homosexuality. Given that they are a self-governing territory of NZ, LGBT+ advocates in the Cook Islands have turned to New Zealand for help.

The Cooks reinstated a clause into their crimes act, stating that “indecent acts between men” are now illegal, whilst also moving to gender-neutral language. So no gay sex regardless of gender in the Cooks, thank you very much.

Full disclosure here – I’m not a legal expert, and annoyingly, the article I linked above whilst saying that Cook Islanders were pleading for NZ help, made no mention of how NZ could actually help. So I’m not exactly sure what the Cooks’ LGBT+ activists want kiwis to do.

Regardless, the Cook Islands are clearly in the wrong, because ya know, LGBT+ people are – wait for it – people.

I think Stuff’s description of how (lesbian) Labour MP Louisa Wall felt about all of this sums my position up quite well:

Labour MP Louisa Wall, who was part of the party’s Rainbow caucus, said LGBTIQ+ people had a right to exist and should not be criminals.

So what can we do to stand up with our Cook Island whānau in protest of this atrocious law? Well, some have suggested that travelers boycott going to the Cook Islands. Not gonna lie, if enough people actually do boycott the Cook Islands to make a noticeable difference, I’ll be surprised.

Otherwise, you can sign this petition by Cook LGBT+ activist Sonya Temata to protest the law change.

Sadly, on the individual level, I don’t think there is a whole lot that we can do other than not going to the Cooks and signing the petition. But, they are asking NZ for help, so hopefully, the government or businesses can do something to pressure them into backing down on this law change.

I wouldn’t hold my breath, however.

EDIT: After reading No Right Turn’s post on the same matter, as it turns out, we provide 66 million to the Cooks per year, and it’s a full quarter of their government’s budget. So maybe NZ can use that as leverage. Again, I still wouldn’t hold my breath.

The fine line of international politics

National and the Greens have called for the government to condemn US president Donald Trump’s policy of family separation.

Acting PM Winston Peters, however, has said that while he and all of the cabinet are “concerned” about the policy, they have refused to condemn it.

It shows what a tricky thing international politics is.

There’s always a certain amount of sucking up you have to do to people you might not like. We saw it with Trump and Kim at the Singapore Summit. We see it in pretty much any interaction with China.

And New Zealand remains an ally of the US and within their zone of influence.

Peters and the government can’t risk a backlash from the US which has already imposed tariffs on us.

So, they are forced to remain silent.

What could Irish abortion law reform mean for NZ?

Ireland, traditionally one of Europe’s most socially conservative countries, has voted to legalise abortion in a landslide vote, 68% to 32%.

Given that Ireland is a predominantly catholic country, this a big win for pro-choice candidates.

This also speaks volumes about what might happen when NZ looks to changing abortion laws.

PM Jacinda Ardern has signalled that she wants to change New Zealand’s arbortion laws.

Currently, the only way someone can get an abortion in New Zealand is if two doctors agree that having the baby would cause serious damage to the woman’s physical or mental health.

It’s interesting to note that even though New Zealand is one of the most liberal countries in the world, our abortion laws are some of the most restrictive.

And if a country as conservative and religious as Ireland will vote for reform, then I think pro-choice campaigners in NZ have a lot to be optimistic about.


The alternative reports coming out of Gaza

If you’ve been paying attention to the recent trouble plaguing the Gaza strip, then you will have almost certainly have heard differing reports about what is happening.

Pro-Palestinian supporters say that Israeli troops fired upon peaceful protesters.

Pro-Israeli supporters say that most of the protesters were part of Hamas, a terrorist organisation, who attacked the Israeli forces.

Just what am I supposed to believe here?

If Pro-Palestinian supporters are correct, then what Israel did is horrific and a crime.

If Pro-Israel supporters are correct, then Israel was undoubtedly in the right, they were just defending themselves and their country.

Unfortunately however, I doubt I will ever know the full truth.

Australia’s citizenship crisis continues

Fifteen. That’s how many Australian politicians have been forced to resign thanks to their laws stating that you can’t hold dual citizenship and be a politician. 

Laws like this are, quite frankly, stupid.

Just because your parent was an immigrant, and you still hold the privilege and benefit of being a dual citizen, doesn’t mean you are any less qualified to serve as a politician.

As Australia becomes more multicultural, you’re going to end up with more and more cases like this.

And cases like this are going to result in costly by-elections.

So as well as make just general sense to repeal the law, it also makes economic sense to repeal the law.

Hopefully Australia will do that soon.