Hard News by Russell Brown


Another Big Day

Is it wrong for me to be looking forward to Super Tuesday a lot more than Waitangi Day? At Waitangi, Tame Iti will present himself as a hero while he still can, John Key will get good, soft press and Helen Clark, having cut herself off from any real achievement in favour of managing risk, won't do much of anything.

I guess it will be interesting to see how this plays:

Mr Horomia is also hoping for a boost today with the announcement of an agreement in principle on a customary rights deal on the foreshore and seabed with Ngati Porou. It seeks to recognise that, but for the 2004 foreshore legislation, Ngati Porou subtribes would have won claims for customary rights in their territories.

The agreement in principle will be announced by Treaty Negotiations Minister Michael Cullen as political leaders gather at Waitangi for celebrations today and tomorrow.

Stateside, however, it's a thriller. On the Democratic side, the polls have been converging thrillingly over the past few days. Hilary probably has an advantage yet, but I'm all about Obama. I normally err on the side of political managers and policy detail, but I'm won over by his charisma, even at this distance. I sense that he might what what America needs.

Or is it just because Obama's a Mac and Hilary's a PC?

If Hilary wins the nomination and takes on McCain (the Republican candidate who is -- by miles -- least offensive to me) there is decent polling evidence that she will be undone by her negatives; that she can't win. Even if she does, and as capable as she is, it will be hard to feel unalloyed joy: important democracies aren't supposed to be dynastic.

That most reliable trigger of cultural cringe, net migration to Australia, has come around again, with a figure in the year to December of 28,000; the highest raw number since the net loss of 33,400 in 1988. The two hardly bear comparison, however, when you take into account population growth. The per capita net migration to Australia was 50% greater in 1988 than it was in 2007 -- one in every hundred versus one in every 152.

The Statistics New Zealand bulletin is here. It includes data on net migration with respect to various other countries. The Population Clock indicates we experience a net migration gain of one New Zealand resident every 29 minutes and 26 seconds.

I was at the trade show in Singapore last year where Kordia had a stand and where it might even have inked the joint venture with a Thai company that are got it in the headlines for doing business in Myanmar. I wrote a column for Unlimited about telecommunications, Myanmar and democracy last year too:

The remarkable political potency of modern communications technology — even in a country where home internet penetration stands at 1%, and where content is tightly filtered — was demonstrated by the flood of text reports and pictures that reached news media as close as Malaysia and as far as Britain, where the BBC website ran a riveting page of citizen reports.

Mobile phone networks were cut off, internet cafes shut down, and the state-sponsored ISP ordered to throttle traffic to make it harder to send pictures. Eventually, it all got too much: the junta pulled the plug on Myanmar’s internet altogether. Indeed, Myanmar disappeared from the internet altogether: its .mm country code became unknown to the system after two of its three root servers, which hold the authoritative information about the domain, became unreachable, and a third, located in Amsterdam, started returning error messages.

This blackout couldn’t go on. Not because the generals were intimidated by the head of the International Telecommunication Union issuing a statement declaring internet access to be a human right, but because even dictators want to do business, and you can’t do that in Asia without electronic communications.

Meanwhile, Public Address reader Anjum Rahman has joined the blogosphere, and Geoff Lealand finally got that Big day Out review up on Kiwiboomers.

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