Monday, October 17, 2016

UN Picks Wonder Woman Over Helen Clark

The United Nations recently rejected seven female candidates vying for its leadership, one of whom was NZ's own Helen Clark.
Now, to promote women and girls, it's picked a cartoon character as its mascot: Wonder Woman! Yeup, the comic book figure.
Wonder Woman
Dozens of countries pushed this year for a woman as the next Secretary General, pointing out that the UN pledges to promote gender equality and arguing that it needs to "lead by example". But after months of internal jockeying, the Security Council picked António Guterres, who ran the UN refugee agency for ten years, to be the world's top diplomat.
Now the UN has announced it'll appoint Wonder Woman as an honorary ambassador for "the empowerment of women and girls"! That appointment will be made official on Oct.21, when Wonder Woman turns 75, only slightly older than the UN itself.
Too bad Wonder Woman will not actually walk through the halls of the UN. If she did, she'd have to sort out a few internal issues, like peacekeepers who sexually abuse civilians and major military powers that bomb schools. Instead, president of DC Entertainment, Diane Nelson will accept the designation, along with "surprise guests". No word on whether Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman on tv, will be there...
Scary Woman
Wonder Woman's avatar (er, that's "image" for those of us who were not born yesterday) will be used on social media to promote important messages about women's empowerment, including gender-based violence and fuller participation of women in public life... ironic, considering nine out of ten senior UN leadership jobs last year went to men. Not to mention, a woman has never led the UN.
Wonder Woman's not the only fictional character to be celebrated by the United Nations: Winnie the Pooh was its honorary Ambassador of Friendship in 1998 and Tinker Bell its honorary Ambassador of Green in 2009.
Not that those factoids or magic bracelets will make Helen Clark any happier about missing the cut...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Killers Stalk British Countryside

What many citizens have suspected for some time: leopards and pumas are breeding in rural Britain.
New data shows more than one big cat sighting is being reported to UK police every week! There've been 455 sightings of big cats between 2010-2015. Accounts of a black panther stalking Norfolk and Suffolk have featured regularly in news reports.
Since the UK's Dangerous Wild Animals Act came into law in 1977, people have not been allowed to keep big cats as pets. Many big cat sightings are of animals that were kept as pets and released, or perhaps ones that escaped from zoos or were purposely released into the wild.
But big cats must be breeding, as they don't live 40 years in the wild: puma last 8-13yrs and leopards 12-17yrs. There've also been occasional sightings of females with cubs.
There're an estimated 2,000 sightings each year, the vast majority of which are not reported to UK authorities. Some have been dismissed as hoaxes, however a DNA test on hairs found in Lincolnshire found they did come from the leopard family.
Leopards and pumas in the wild live in countryside quite similar to the UK: there're pumas in North America and leopards as far north as Siberia.
So, given that the existence of these big cats seems no longer in dispute, I wonder what the UK approach will be, when one of them is cornered? Police supposedly liaise with the RSPCA...but these particular cats are somewhat more dangerous than your average stray moggie!
One hopes police sharpshooters won't kill them on sight...but what will the fate of these once-legendary rural stalkers be?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

An End To "The Big O.E."?

For many New Zealanders, "the Big OE" was their young adult initiation into the big wide world. Their "Overseas Experience" consisted of a few years in the land of their ancestors, gaining working visa entry to Britain through parental or grand-parental links...
But, in the post-Brexit anti-immigrant panic, Britain is slamming the door on international students and foreign workers. A harsh new policy will stop overseas workers from "taking jobs British people could do", in moves that could affect kiwis and aussies wanting to live, work and study there.
Students and skilled workers from countries including NZ and OZ, foreign cab-drivers and Europeans convicted of minor crimes will all be targeted, as part of a tough stance aimed at reducing migrants to just "tens of thousands" (down from 300,000 this year).
UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd: "There's no question that recent immigration levels motivated a large part of the Brexit vote." Net migration from EU countries is 184,000, just short of the 188,000 from non-EU countries combined. Rudd says it will not be possible to reach the much lower target by curbing EU migration alone: "We have to look at all sources of immigration if we mean business."
Rudd describes as "generous" the current rules allowing working rights to the families of international students, and bemoans that foreign students studying English language degrees "don't even have to be proficient in speaking English." NZ and OZ skilled workers and uni students are in the firing line too, with the UK
considering tightening rules for companies recruiting from abroad.
Well, so much for historical ties between the Home Country and its Colonies! Obviously our loyal support in so many areas counts for naught.
But two can play. Hasn't the old battler Winston Peters – NZ First politican - constantly advocated jobs for kiwis ahead of migrants? So let's consider tightening our rules too. Maybe NZ should no longer accept Englanders as a matter of course simply because they're English, or because they cross a financial threshold. Let's face it: so many of them come here, and then moan about it being too hot, or the beer being too cold, or "Eh, by goom, it weren't like this Back Home, like…!" Ok, then maybe consider staying back home.
Britain's for the British? Have it your way - you voted for it. But forget emigrating to our beautiful land then…