Gareth Vaughan on Francis Fukuyama & identity politics, Silicon Valley & the radicalisation of the world, Corbyn the Trotskyite, Goldman Sachs cops a kicking, Bolsonaro & the Amazon & more

This Top 10 is by interest.co.nz's own Gareth Vaughan. 

As always, we welcome your additions in the comments below. If you're interested in contributing a Top 10 yourself, contact gareth.vaughan@interest.co.nz.

See all previous Top 10s here.

This Top 10 was written against the backdrop of the US midterm elections. At the time of writing the results were unknown. So here's a cartoon.

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker, Politico.

1) Francis Fukuyama tackles identity politics.

Francis Fukuyama, who famously proclaimed the end of history in 1989 because after the fall of communism, free-market liberal democracy had won out and would become the world's "final form of human government," has published something of a mea culpa. 

This comes via a lengthy article in Foreign Affairs entitled Against Identity Politics The New Tribalism and the Crisis of Democracy. The article was published before the US midterm elections. It covers a lot of familiar ground such as the reasons for the election of Donald Trump in the US, Brexit, immigration in the West, various groups feeling marginalised, political correctness, white nationalism, the role of the internet and social media etc. But it's still a thought provoking and interesting read.

Fukuyama notes democracy has retreated in virtually all regions of the world with authoritarian countries, led by China and Russia, becoming more assertive. Countries that had seemed to be successful liberal democracies in the 1990s such as Hungary, Poland, Thailand, and Turkey - have slipped back toward authoritarianism. Meanwhile, the Arab revolts of 2010–11 disrupted dictatorships but yielded little in terms of democratization, Fukuyama says, as despotic regimes clung to power, and civil wars hit Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen.

He argues the success of populist nationalism was even more surprising in elections held in 2016 by two of the world’s most durable liberal democracies being the United Kingdom, where voters chose to leave the European Union, and the United States, where Trump scored a "shocking electoral upset."

All these developments relate in some way to the economic and technological shifts of globalization. But they are also rooted in a different phenomenon: the rise of identity politics. For the most part, twentieth-century politics was defined by economic issues. On the left, politics centered on workers, trade unions, social welfare programs, and redistributive policies. The right, by contrast, was primarily interested in reducing the size of government and promoting the private sector. Politics today, however, is defined less by economic or ideological concerns than by questions of identity. Now, in many democracies, the left focuses less on creating broad economic equality and more on promoting the interests of a wide variety of marginalized groups, such as ethnic minorities, immigrants and refugees, women, and LGBT people. The right, meanwhile, has redefined its core mission as the patriotic protection of traditional national identity, which is often explicitly connected to race, ethnicity, or religion.

Fukuyama delves in-depth into the left versus right battles tearing the US apart, and why Trump has appealed to white working class people, especially men, who traditionally were Democrat voters. Fukuyama points out life expectancy for white American men fell between 2013 and 2014, describing this as a highly unusual occurrence in a developed country. Meanwhile, the proportion of white working-class children growing up in single-parent families rose from 22% in 2000 to 36% in 2017.

A reliance on identity politics also has weaknesses as a political strategy. The current dysfunction and decay of the U.S. political system are related to extreme and ever-growing polarization, which has made routine governing an exercise in brinkmanship. Most of the blame for this belongs to the right. As the political scientists Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein have argued, the Republican Party has moved much more rapidly toward its far-right wing than the Democratic Party has moved in the opposite direction. But both parties have moved away from the center. Left-wing activists focused on identity issues are seldom representative of the electorate as a whole; indeed, their concerns often alienate mainstream voters. 

I like the following point about "hypercentralization and endless fragmentation."

Our present world is simultaneously moving toward the opposing dystopias of hypercentralization and endless fragmentation. China, for instance, is building a massive dictatorship in which the government collects highly specific personal data on the daily transactions of every citizen. On the other hand, other parts of the world are seeing the breakdown of centralized institutions, the emergence of failed states, increasing polarization, and a growing lack of consensus over common ends. Social media and the Internet have facilitated the emergence of self-contained communities, walled off not by physical barriers but by shared identities.

2) Silicon Valley and the radicalisation of the world.

Ryan Broderick of BuzzFeedNews has written a fast paced and informative article on what he describes as the strange new forces that dictate the very fabric of our lives. He starts off in Brazil as Jair Bolsonaro is elected president. He describes how political groups, especially with right wing leanings, are successfully using the internet and social media to further their causes. It makes for sobering reading.

All of this has become so normalized in the three years since it first began to manifest that we just assume now that platforms like Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, and Twitter will exacerbate political and social instability. We expect they will be abused by ultranationalist trolls. We know they will be exploited by data firms. We wait for them to help launch the careers of populist leaders.

To be sure, populism, nationalism, and information warfare existed long before the internet. The arc of history doesn’t always bend toward what I think of as progress. Societies regress. The difference now is that all of this is being hosted almost entirely by a handful of corporations. Why is an American company like Facebook placing ads in newspapers in countries like India, Italy, Mexico, and Brazil, explaining to local internet users how to look out for abuse and misinformation? Because our lives, societies, and governments have been tied to invisible feedback loops, online and off. And there’s no clear way to untangle ourselves.

The well travelled Broderick argues it doesn’t matter what country you’re in, saying "the dance is the same everywhere you go."

Chances are, by now, your country has some, if not all, of the following. First off, you probably have some kind of local internet troll problem, like the MAGAsphere in the US, the Netto-uyoku in Japan, Fujitrolls in Peru, or AK-trolls in Turkey. Your trolls will probably have been radicalized online via some kind of community for young men like Gamergate, Jeuxvideo.com ("videogames.com") in France, ForoCoches ("Cars Forum") in Spain, Ilbe Storehouse in South Korea, 2chan in Japan, or banter Facebook pages in the UK.

Then far-right influencers start appearing, aided by algorithms recommending content that increases user watch time. They will use Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to transmit and amplify content and organize harassment and intimidation campaigns. If these influencers become sophisticated enough, they will try to organize protests or rallies. The mini fascist comic cons they organize will be livestreamed and operate as an augmented reality game for the people watching at home. Violence and doxxing will follow them.

He concludes that what's happening probably won't last but the damage will.

The democracies they destabilize, the people they radicalize, and the violence they inspire will most likely have a long tail. Hopefully, though, it won’t take us a hundred years to try to actually rebuild functioning societies after the corporations have moved on.

3) Are people losing faith in what technology has to offer?

This World Economic Forum article suggests people in many countries are losing faith in technology's ability to solve the world's problems. It cites the Digital Society Index from Dentsu Aegis Network and Oxford Economics, and includes the chart below.

Innovators and tech brands need to focus their efforts on winning over the hearts and minds of consumers, while governments need to put in place frameworks to safeguard privacy and security. Failure to meet customer expectations where these issues are concerned risks a continuing erosion of trust, which will affect the rate at which people will try, buy, and recommend new digital products and services. In turn, if user adoption rates slacken there will be a fall in demand for the tech sector’s outputs that could damage the overall health of an increasingly important sector, and even dissuade investors from backing new initiatives.

4) Corbyn the Trotskyite.

Steve Eisman, a fund manager who predicted the US sub-prime mortgage market meltdown and featured in Michael Lewis' Big Short book and the film of the same name, is now shorting two British banks because he thinks the UK will leave the European Union without a deal, Bloomberg reports.

“I’m shorting two stocks in the U.K., but I’ve got a screen of about 50, and I might short all 50 if I think Jeremy Corbyn is going to be prime minister,” Eisman said. “Corbyn’s a Trotskyite. Now I know my Trotskyites well and I know you don’t want to be invested in the U.K. if a Trotskyite is prime minister.”

While Eisman didn’t give any clues as to which lenders he’s targeting, Metro Bank Plc and CYBG Plc are the most shorted financials in the FTSE 350 Index, according to data from Markit. Metro has 7.9 percent of its outstanding shares shorted, double the ratio at CYBG.

5) China's massive internment and indoctrination camps in the Muslim dominated Xinjiang region.

An ABC News investigation, with research collated by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank, details 28 detention camps said to be part of a massive program of subjugation in the Chinese Xinjiang region.

Analysis of the data shows that since the start of 2017, the 28 facilities have expanded their footprint by more than 2 million square metres. In the past three months alone, they’ve grown by 700,000 square metres - that’s about the size of 35 Melbourne Cricket Grounds.

The province is home to about 14 million Chinese citizens mainly belonging to Muslim ethnic groups, the ABC reports.

Xinjiang, which means “new frontier”, has long been the epicentre of ethnic unrest. At the heart of the conflict is a separatist movement which seeks to establish an independent Uighur homeland called East Turkestan.

Beijing, which views the region as an incubator of terrorism, has responded by reinforcing local security forces, expanding the network of police stations and checkpoints, and supercharging its electronic surveillance network.

“What we’re seeing here is a breach of human rights that is of such a scale that we haven’t seen since the post Tiananmen Square crackdown in China,” said Fergus Ryan, an analyst and China expert at ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre.

An estimated two million Uighurs and other Muslims have been rounded up and detained in these camps where they are forced to undergo patriotic training and “de-extremification”, according to witnesses and human rights groups.

6) A random crime or something more sinister?

Whilst there has rightly been much coverage in the local media of the brutal murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, there has been a lot less coverage of the murder of Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova. The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, however, is on the case.

Police say it was a random crime, and the arrested perpetrator has confessed.

But the victim of the brutal rape and murder was Bulgarian television journalist Viktoria Marinova — and her last broadcast was about the theft of hundreds of millions of euros from European Union-funded programs in her country.

7) Goldman Sachs cops a deserved kicking for its role as an enabler of Malaysia's IMDB fraud.

Sarawak Report has done a sterling job over recent years reporting on Malaysia's 1MDB scandal. To jog the memory, 1MDB is a state-owned investment fund at the centre of a series of international criminal and regulatory investigations casting an unfavourabole spotlight on financial deal-making, election spending and political patronage under ex-Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. A Malaysian parliamentary committee has fingered at least US$4.2 billion said to be irregular transactions related to 1MDB. 

Now, as Sarawak Report puts it, the boys in blue have caught up with the masters of the Universe at Goldman Sachs.

In the process of facilitating all this theft, Goldman Sachs made one of the biggest series of profits in the history of banking out of three questionable bond issues for 1MDB, surreptitiously raised via opaque off-shore instruments to the detriment of transparency over the handling of public finances.  The details are now laid out in the US criminal indictment, matters which were ignored for nearly a decade by the bank’s own hierarchy.

Although the financial world had politely wondered at the enormous payments secured by Goldman Sachs in raising $6.5 billion for 1MDB ($600 million in fees), no one at the bank appears to have examined or reviewed the deals arranged by their Asia Golden Boys, Tim Leissner and Roger Ng – any more than they had checked ‘Dr’ Leissner’s fake academic qualifications.

America’s most powerful bank at the very least failed to adequately scrutinise these eye-watering deals, which are now acknowledged to have been criminal by Leissner, who has pled guilty and agreed to cooperate.

The likelihood is worse, that some of the most senior figures were complicit (the bonuses that year were exponential all round) and/or there were systemic problems at the bank, that caused money laundering alerts to fail. Such systemic problems could hardly have been hard to detect by such a major institution concerned to stay within the law.

There's more detail here from the US Department of Justice. And there is, of course, a New Zealand angle.

8) A Foxconn & Trump con with no return for taxpayers until 2042.

The New Yorker recently took a look at the move by Foxconn, the Taiwanese company infamous for worker suicides at its Chinese iPhone making factories, to build a factory in the US state of Wisconsin. The announcement of Foxconn's plans was trumpeted by President Trump and Wisconsin's (now former) Republican Governor Scott Walker when announced last year. Foxconn was to build a 21.5 million-square-foot manufacturing campus, invest up to US$10 billion dollars in Wisconsin, and hire up to 13,000 workers at an average wage of US$54,000 a year.

But as the public has become aware of the spiralling costs for these jobs, the Foxconn deal has become something of a political liability for Walker, particularly among voters outside of southeastern Wisconsin. Those costs include taxpayer subsidies to the company totalling more than $4.5 billion, the largest subsidy for a foreign corporation in American history. Since Wisconsin already exempts manufacturing companies from paying taxes, Foxconn, which generated a hundred and fifty-eight billion dollars in revenue last year, will receive much of this subsidy in direct cash payments from taxpayers. Depending on how many jobs are actually created, taxpayers will be paying between two hundred and twenty thousand dollars and more than a million dollars per job. According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, a nonpartisan agency that provides economic analysis to the Wisconsin state legislature, the earliest citizens might see a return on their Foxconn investment is in 2042.

Other costs of the deal include those to the environment.

There are other costs that have contributed to public skepticism over the Foxconn deal. At Walker’s request, Scott Pruitt, then the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, overruled the objections of his staff to grant most of southeastern Wisconsin an exemption from limits on smog pollution. (Walker declined to respond to interview requests for this article.) 

And it sounds like many of the promised jobs will go to robots.

But the company recently changed the type of factory it plans to build, downsizing to a highly automated plant that will only require three thousand employees, ninety per cent of them “knowledge workers,” such as engineers, programmers, and designers. Almost all of the assembly work will be done by robots. Gou, Foxconn’s chairman, has said he plans to replace eighty per cent of Foxconn’s global workforce with “Foxbots” in the next five to ten years. The company still says it will hire thirteen thousand employees in Wisconsin, but it has fallen short of similar promises in Brazil, India, and Pennsylvania, among other places. Foxconn has already replaced sixty thousand workers who were earning roughly $2.50 an hour in China. 

9) But where will the animals go?

The electoral victory of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil has got environmentalists, including my six year-old animal loving son, very worried. When I told him of Bolsonaro’s campaign pledge to unwind protection of the Amazon rain forest, (not in those exact words), he asked; "But where will the animals go?" 

 National Geographic probes here whether Bolsonaro will be able to deliver on his campaign pledges to rollback protections of both the rain forest and indigenous rights.

Sloth picture by Luke Vaughan aged 6.

The dramatic video below comes from the YEARS Project, which describes itself as a global storytelling and education effort to inform, empower, and unite the world about climate change.

10) Armistice Day, the 100th anniversary. 

This Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, Armistice Day. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the guns finally fell silent in 1918 after four terrible years of war. Here's a humorous and moving scene of the men going over the top from Blackadder Goes Forth.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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73 Comments

That Blackadder video gets me every time, poignant, amusing, one of the great endings to a series. We will remember them.

And I. Soldiering, despite being one of the Four Core Activities (Food, Shelter, Transport, Security) is not well appreciated nowadays.

I have done my duty, I wonder how many others here have.

What about the U turn by the government to allow the Kiwibuild lottery owners to onsell the house as soon as they like (previously min 5 years ownership) and and penalise the vendors only if caught by asking them to pay 30% of the profit to the government, therefore keeping 100% if not caught or 70% if caught?

Doesn't feel like providing affordable houses for those in need anymore.

It was always going to be a Tax Payer funded lottery.

My only regret is I don't qualify for a ticket.

You can’t build economically in NZ with a cartel style duopoly on your building materials which has reigned forever basically. Add in the stupidity of green belts fencing a city like Auckland a narrow isthmus which is set between the natural barriers of ocean anyway
Add in many years of foreign speculation & you have Auckland housing crisis
This with only a city of 1.5 mill it’s crazy there’s a problem at all

The Brazilian rain forest suffered a 29% increase in deforestation in 2016, to the highest levels of a decade. In 2017 Michel Temer dissolved the Renca reserve (size of Denmark) to boost the economy.

The degree to which the previous government protected the Amazon may have been a little exaggerated.

As it is Friday and Presidential Trump is asserting himself, again I would like to add a few words, not to parrot or paraphrase others, not to make a bigger recusative Sessions of what went before, not to put a finer point on CNN reporter being a touchy feely man, like The Presidential incumbent refutes to be, no here is the latest from overseas not to parody, but to parrot what others have said closer to the seat of power.
I think this may have come direct from the Powers that be...those who sit on the right hand of God,,,,but I may be wrong....It has a certain ring about it. Getting ones own back, is a 1st Lady thing, Wifey type thing...

And I do not blame her, just wish her well in sickness and in health till death do impart...or impeach.
Remember...Friday is always a joke..this may not be. You decide.

THE PARROT

During a dull White House dinner, Melania Trump leaned over to chat with The Secretary of State,

"I bought Donald a parrot for his birthday she said. That bird is so smart, Donald has already taught him to say over two hundred words!"

“Very impressive," said The Secretary, "but, you do realize he just speaks the words. He doesn't really understand what they all mean.”

"Oh, I know", replied Melania, “but neither does the parrot."

Many a true word, spoken in jest.

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Well...those Chinese camps, eh. Sure am glad our politicians are not blithely open to the financial and other influence of the Chinese Communist Party.

A chaotic street, community, suburb, town, city, province, country or a peaceful and orderly one?

1.4 billion Chinese ppl all know what they prefer.

Do you think that giving millions of citizens good reason to hate the state will improve matters in the long run?

"millions" is certainly an exaggeration.

If a group of person's primary interests are to divide a country by using extreme violence at the cost of all other people in the country, then that group of person need to be put into jail.

What if they wish to divide a country with zero violence. How would Ghandi make headway in China?

Chinese soldiers in Tibet should be put in jail?

If you have a better estimate of the numbers please let me know, I'm going from this article:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/China_hidden_camps

"Cross-referencing this information with other media sources, Zenz suggests that at least several hundred thousand and possibly over a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities could have been interned for re-education."

Now multiply the numbers interned by the number of friends and relatives who will be upset that people close to them have been detained for 'reeducation'.

It will fail in the same way as the Western approach of winning 'hearts and minds' in the middle east failed. Too many people will be given a reason to hate the occupiers.

An entire group should be put in jail in case they commit a violent act in rebellion to the emperor? Not just the ones who have committed a crime, but ones who because they are of a certain race the authorities have decided could commit a crime.

That's pretty disturbing to hear you defending that idea. Perhaps you unintentionally highlighted the importance of our politicians resisting the influence (including possible money for MPs) of the CCP.

Or perhaps apply a recent bit of Chinese history and run 'em down with tanks...

By force or by choice? If the answer is by force then it is no different or better and if it's so great why aren't you there?

CCP in Beijing there’s 850,000 retired people wearing red jackets or arm belts & what do you think they’re doing Xingmowag ?
You know what they’re doing
Watching all that goes on in their neighbourhoods & ??
Reporting it all back to central intelligence Chinese Communist Party
My Chinese neighbours loved the freedom of New Zealand
I see you do too

that's a very good drawing from a 6 year old

Nice Gareth. Lots to ponder - the decline of democracy issue being one or urgency I feel.
They're right, things are becoming increasingly extreme with the middle ground being ever-more vacated.
Ironically, that's what's happening financially or wealth-wise, as well. I'm not sure of the answer to a happy ending here. The only ending I can see is not a very happy one.
I think if we look at the ideals of democracy, there is a flaw, & that is what we're seeing, a polarising of attitudes (& actions) lawfully permitted under the great 'democratic ways' of free speech & the rights of the individual. Where it breaks down perhaps is in the jealous often bitter arguments of one side, against the completely opposite understanding of the other. In other words, there are many ways in which to understand an issue, but each side is now quite vitriolic & becoming openly violent towards the other's perspective. This is the sign of a civilised society in the early stages of breakdown.
Mr Putin must be laughing all the way up the long corridors to his master suite in the palace. Once you understand his position & his agenda, which is to have us tear our own society apart, things couldn't be going better for him just now. Sure there are the sanctions, but he & his fellow thugs won't be starving, you can put your money on that. The sanctions from the rest of the world are hurting the poorest of the Russian people, of which there are many millions, as we know.

It's interesting the democratization that's happened with the advent of the internet, it's allowed free exchange of information, we have pretty much the entire world's knowledge at our fingertips (instead we choose to watch cat videos, but that's a moan for another time!) but equally misinformation. It's allowed us to become more insular, whilst at the same more connected which is a strange dichotomy. For the many we can re-affirm our opinions and surround ourselves with other believers, which no doubt entrenches mindsets and makes the middle ground hollow, particularly as with the situation we find ourselves with in the states; you're either one or the other.

Which is why I rather like our parliamentary system, we do need another centre right, or more right wing party (not down the fascism route but not overtly centrist like National are) that has some credibility.

Nothing new within USA at all actually
It always has been this way before social media
Just the pace has picked up
NZers have no idea although that never prevented them thinking they do

I recently read an article from a research fellow, Fan Yong Qiang, from Fu Dan University in Shanghai.

He asks three questions regarding democracy especially the form in the USA.

Q1: People have votes but no choices. Would you call it a democracy?

Q2: People are brainwashed by media controlled by money and cooperate interests on the daily basis. With such a voting base, would you call it a democracy?

Q3: Political parties are heavily infiltrated, influenced, even controlled by money and cooperate interests. Would you call it a democracy?

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Meanwhile ......

"China’s legislature has unanimously approved the reappointment of Xi Jinping as president with no limit on the number of terms he can serve.

Xi’s reappointment was approved by all 2,970 members of the NPC in attendance, while there was only one vote against Wang’s appointment."

Love it that there was one dissenting vote!!

And so very interestingly,

the quality of "leaders" and governments 'elected' by all the people (voting participation rate of 40%?), produced by the very magnificent democratic system, declined one election after the other.

Good governance is becoming more and more a pipe dream.

I would judge the quality of political leaders by GDP per capita and how the country handles its disadvantaged. On the latter we can judge China failing because it seems to hold a significant fraction of its Muslim minority behind bars and if we judge the former by comparing China with Taiwan - well Taiwan like Korea and Japan has double the GDP per capita.
If China had democracy and a free media then it would ask Taiwan to take it over.

Where are you getting your 40% voting participation rate from? I see only one country with below 40% of the eligible population voting and that's Switzerland, the average looks like 60-70%. In every country, voting rates decline and rise over time. The US midterms a few days ago had the highest turnout for midterms since 1970.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/05/21/u-s-voter-turnout-trails...

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Q1 - in USA they usually have two realistic choices for every election from President to Police chief.
Q2 - If the people are brainwashed by media in the USA how did Trump win - almost all the media were stridently against him.
Q3 - If political parties are influenced by money how did Trump spending less than Mrs Clinton win? Go back 70 years and how did Truman win when all the money went the other way?

USA politics has many faults but from the little I know of China they too have a a media that expressed a single line - devotion to the CCP. And the CCP is reported to have serious interest in money and corporate interests too.

Q3 : Always amuses me how many people here shout "US politics is broken ! MONEY is the root of all evil ! NZ must not go the same way ! etc." - while the correlation between election spending and success in the US is actually pretty low.

Clinton outspent Trump 2-fold . Beto o'rourke outspent Ted Cruz 3-fold in the Texas Senate race .

Why do you always choose the USA as your example of democracy? They have a terrible system that much of the democratic world laughs at.

In what way? The US system is designed to be inefficient so regardless of who’s in they can’t screw it up too much.

Majority of elections use a first-past-the-post system rather than something more representative, the Senate gives as much representation to the 1/2 million Wyoming residents as it does the 40 million California residents, redistricting tends to be controlled by partisan interests rather than a fair civil authority, there is significant political effort put into making voting more difficult rather than promoting it, and the judiciary is also partisan.

But yes, if your goal is to not achieve much it works pretty well as the 3 branches only get their ducks in a row very occasionally.

You mean can't evolve beyond the 1700's

Can we leave the propaganda to CCP HQ ?
NZ must watch itself it doesn’t let China entrap it in a debt trap like it uses on other nations e.g African nations
Malaysia woke up thank heavens & their leader rejected the fake one belt one road China dogma

#collapse. ..
If 40% sets off alarm bells, what should 5% do? ??????
#run for the exit

Today's B&Ts auctions... 1 out of 20. ..... new record

Wow, that's one grunty Top 10 Gareth, lots to unpack & ruminate, thanks.

Cheers. And let me know if you ever fancy doing one.

I fear that right wing nut job Bolsonaro could turn Brazil into Pinochet's Chile, mark II

people from Brazil are always complaining about corruption and violence, perhaps he's seen as the man to fix that.

He has already stated that he doesn't give a damn about the native Brazilians who still inhabit the Amazon and live their life as they choose, as they have since forever, and that he would allow the forest to be burned or cut down around them, and that they stink. Not holding much hope about how he intends to go about fixing anything.
Out of poverty and overpopulation there will always be corruption and violence, same as anywhere else, it's just that poor people are too poor to cover their tracks.

That’s interesting, I spent 7 months in Chile approx and a lot of the older gen quietly approved of Pinochet for that exact reason. Could be spot on.

I guess none of their friends or relatives were murdered.

Although Pinochet was a bad man and a few thousand people disappeared, compared to what was going on in Argentina at the time they got off lightly.

All totalitarianism is bad, usually involves death for dissenters whether left or right.

Of course there were those who approved, but it didn't start that way, most must have not as a socialist govt was ELECTED? And what business did the US have, interfering, other than that is what they do?

Your six year-old reminds me of a Milligan story; talking about war with someone whose small daughter asked what it was?

'That's when two groups of men (it's historic) show up and fight until one group wins.

'What if nobody shows up?'

"What if they gave a war but nobody came?" - John Lennon I believe, probably paraphrasing Milligan or vice versa,depending on the timeline

Where's the "What Happened Friday" article? Did nothing happen today?

Been wondering the same. Can't be anything I need to know before I go home

Maybe we could start our own.

Today I ate my lunch and that’s about it. Thanks work!

Beef cheese tom cwusonte :) nzd stable? Swap rates? David C carced it? Heart attack? Did he do cwusontes too?

I assume they're doing IT things n having issues...

Imagine China ruling the world the way the USA has since 1950.
We would have web cameras on every corner, a one-way of thinking in our universities & public squares, monitoring and data collection of all financial transactions, a ‘credit rating’ on all citizens, citizens either in the megacities or outside the cities, stricter border control, favoured offshore money laundering proxy states, .....etc.... oh, wait, we have all this already!

Over 50 years ago Robert Ardrey in an interview said everything is motivated by Survival, Curiousity or Identity and the greatest of the three is Identity. That idea remains the best way of explaining a crazy world. Examples: why would a NZ especially a Maori enlist to fight in WW1? Partly curiousity to see the world but mainly in those days young men identified as subjects of the crown. Why when I arrived in NZ many young women had exposed middriffs - because identifying as fashionable was more important than being cold and for fat girls looking bad. Why did more Jews survive in monarchies than in republics in countries conquered by Hitler? Because the public identified Jews as fellow subjects which was stronger than the sub-identity of Jewishness. Why belong to a biker gang when the negatives are so obvious - Identity wins again.
So if identity is so important it is critical you choose it not let anyone else assign it or define it. Beware identity politics - it is dividing us.

WWI would have looked a whole lot different if people had even just an inkling of what they were in for

you mean would never have happened. by mid 1915 letters home would have told everyone. but still they enlisted. my grandfather tried to enlist but his mother reported him as underage and he was very angry. changed his mind when his older brothers were casualties.

Yes I do mean that. And I imagine mail was censored even then

We have had identity politics for a very long time yet now that men, specifically European men, are starting to identify with one another for support and protection it suddenly becomes "dysfunctional" and "decayed".

It's no wonder that every day we become more divided and every day our contempt grows.

May I remind you of this not so old expression "When you are accustomed to privilege, equality can feel like oppression".

Some platitude found on a blog somewhere I believe. Anyway, if the British royal family can have privilege I don't see any reason why I cannot have some as well. If providence has seen fit to bestow these privileges upon me I feel it is my duty to maintain them to the best of my abilities because, who knows, they may form some vital component to the smooth functioning of our world. I'd rather be safe than sorry concerning this.

We have a queen, are you one as well?
Of course you want to feel safe, but you have no more right to it than anyone else.

Is that a double entendre PocketAces?

I still don't see why I cannot have more right to it than anyone else. It's not a fundamental law of nature. In fact what you are suggesting is anti-nature and not even possible. If it is offered I will take it.

The fact is because I obey the rules of our society I get special rights. It appears, though, that some people want to change the rules. I may lose some rights because I am obeying rules, written and unwritten, that are now deemed outdated. for example, losing the right to speak because you are male, or white, or old, or straight, or wealthy or a nationalist.

Double entrende? If you are so superior and smart you should be able to figure it out for yourself.
Rules change, even the All Blacks obey new rules. Oh and obeying rules is not the exclusive preserve of white males but if the rules favour white males, then they have to change, tough t*t.
You can speak all you want, just don't expect everyone else to take what you have to say lying down and if sometimes it might feel like your voice is being suppressed, all I can say to that is, maybe it's your turn, especially if what you have to say suggests that others rights should be suppressed but not yours, thinking particularly of people with different sexual orientations to what used to be regarded as the norm.
I am white, and yes the future bothers me a lot, mainly concerning the environment as without it we don't have any place to live, but I can at least expand my mind enough to be able to see how Europeans have exploited others for centuries to get where they got, but now the exploited are not quite so prepared to be used in such ways.

I'm just surprised you would think that was an effective insult. I took my mother to see Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Disappointing, smh.
Saying it's my turn to have my voice suppressed seems a bit inflammatory don't you think?

I know, that young white guy I saw last night with no teeth, homeless on Queen St and high as a kite on meth is so privileged.

Our society is so screwed over it's unbelievable. Segregated parties/clubs/groups are 100% okay as long as you're not white. Heaven forbid you speak out, "you're a Nazi".

I'm a third generation Scottish immigrant, yet I've been told countless times my ancestors screwed over the Maori (mainly because I have pasty skin). No, my ancestors didn't screw over the Maori but what they did do is successfully defeat several English invasions because we weren't push overs. What we also did, is move on with life.

Everyone just needs to STFU and do something with their lives. It's as simple as that. Be grateful there is a Treaty, any problems have a chat to Ngai Tahu.

The Scottish were always invading England. In 1513 while the the English were valiantly struggling against the French, James IV decided to give the French some help by invading England. He was defeated and slain at the Battle of Flodden. We weren't push overs either!

Anyway your comment is weird, especially the last paragraph. Is it supposed to be satire?

An outstanding Top10, like the Top10's used to be. Any chance that Gareth could do them every week? However they do take a long time to read. What about a Top 5 twice a week, or a Top 2 five times a week?

Calling "fake news" on the high suicide rate at Foxconn:

....although the number of workplace suicides at Foxconn is large in absolute terms, the suicide rate is actually lower when compared to the overall suicide rate of China....In 2010, the worst year for workplace suicides at Foxconn with a total of 14 deaths, its employee count was a reported 930,000 people. - Wikipedia

Li Ming referenced in the link and who suicided in January this year had only worked at the company for two months. Something else other than working at Foxconn going on in his life I'd say.

mini fascist comic cons

What the hell is that? An Internet search reveals nothing when you look for this. Anyone know when the next one's happening?

nationalist internet trolling has become a global pandemic -(from a link)

Feels good man.

This comment is from "Earthling" (access issues)

An outstanding Top10, like the Top10's used to be. Any  chance that Gareth could do them every week? However they do take a long  time to read. What about a Top 5 twice a week, or a Top 2 five times a  week?"

I might also ask why anybody takes Francis Fukuyama seriously after he  writes about the end of history. He made this  extreme claim in order to  attract attention. Did nobody notice that it is ludicrous? Why don't  people laugh at fruitcakes like him and Elon Musk ?

Plenty of people laugh at Elon Musk. Tesla would be the last place I'd invest. Most of his so called innovation is fantasy. He is living in cloud cuckoo land.
Hyperloop will NEVER happen. Tesla Semi's for long haul trucking will never happen. Then there are the Tesla cars. In current form are not capable of level 5 autonomy (contrary to what Musk says), has battery technology by panasonic, has poor build quality and extraordinary repair costs. You sure can fool some of the people all the time.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GotA_1dIRhs