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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Britain's Excruciating Embrace of Trump

From the Economist

THERESA MAY’S private opinion of Donald Trump goes unrecorded, but she is surely not a natural fan. Before Mr Trump’s election the prime minister called his remarks on Muslims “divisive, unhelpful and wrong”. Fiona Hill, one of her powerful chiefs of staff, declared him a “chump” and Nick Timothy, the other, tweeted: “As a Tory I don’t want any ‘reaching out’ to Trump.” Mrs May flannelled in a television interview on January 22nd when asked about the president’s treatment of women, his disregard for NATO and his protectionism. In temperament the two leaders could hardly be less alike: one brash and operatic, the other cautious and meticulous. So expect the prime minister’s visit to the White House on January 27th to be a study in awkwardness: the mother superior dropping in on the Playboy Mansion.

The trip encapsulates a wider shift in London. Time was, everyone mauled Mr Trump. Boris Johnson, now the foreign secretary, said he betrayed a “stupefying ignorance” and branded him “unfit” to lead America. Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, turned to Shakespeare: “Trump’s a clay-brained guts, knotty-pated fool, whoreson obscene greasy tallow-catch, right?” A year ago MPs were debating banning him from Britain. Even Nigel Farage, whose serial electoral failures in Britain have not troubled his recent reinvention as a presidential cheerleader, used to call Mr Trump “wrong” and list the many things about the man that he “couldn’t support in any way at all”.

Today scorn is out; flummery is in. Mr Farage led the way, pitching up at Trump Tower in December for a cheesy photo with the then-president-elect, whose grasp of the former UKIP leader’s CV seems shaky. Then came Michael Gove’s turn in the golden elevator and the former justice secretary’s fawning newspaper profile of Mr Trump. Now Mr Johnson calls the election result “a good thing for Britain”. The country is even ready to put the queen within grabbing distance of America’s helmsman: plans are afoot for a summer state visit, in which Mr Trump reportedly wants the monarch to watch him golf at Balmoral, her Scottish estate.

This sycophancy is hardly new. Margaret Thatcher put up with Ronald Reagan’s invasion of Grenada, a Commonwealth country. Tony Blair’s eagerness to be close to George W. Bush cost him European allies and took Britain into the Iraq war. But Mr Trump is different. Whereas Reagan and Mr Bush cherished the economic and security order in which Britain was a junior partner, Mr Trump threatens it. So why is Mrs May hurrying to Washington? Because Brexit compels Britain’s leaders to show that the country has powerful allies. And “my Maggie” (as the president calls Mrs May) is desperate to line up a Britain-America trade deal that can be closed as soon as Brexit takes place, probably in 2019.

Whether this will end happily is uncertain. In trade negotiations, size matters. Larger economies can stipulate terms that suit them. Britain, an economy of 60m people, has much less leverage in trade talks than the EU, a market of 500m, or the United States, one of 300m. Mr Trump may promise an agreement “very quickly” and to show other countries that it is safe to leave the EU by giving Britain generous treatment. But more than anything else he is an America First deal-wrangler who knows he has the upper hand. A rushed agreement could see the National Health Service opened up to American firms and environmental and food standards diluted (think hormone-treated beef). Such concessions could upset British voters, who backed Brexit partly because Leavers said it would help the country’s health-care system. They would also frustrate a trade deal with the EU, a much more important export destination.

The curious thing is that Brexit was supposed to be about “taking back control”: immunising the country from foreign whim and interest, while asserting national dignity and independence. Increasingly that looks like a bad joke. The British elite feels it has no choice but to prostrate itself before an American president it clearly finds odious. To keep businesses from moving elsewhere, Britain may have to shadow EU regulations and pay into EU programmes without the chance to shape either. Its trade deals will be forged with a fraction of the negotiating force that has long promoted its interests. That means more concessions to the tariff and regulatory preferences of foreigners. Its application to become a full member of the World Trade Organisation is yet another opportunity for others to impose conditions and costs.
An elusive independence

And pause to contemplate Mrs May’s threat to turn Britain into a tax haven if it gets a poor deal in Brussels. The prime minister is politically almighty. She faces virtually no serious opposition or credible rivals within her Conservative Party, which is close to record highs in the polls. Her premiership’s raison d’être is to make the social safety net stronger for “just about managing” citizens. Yet if foreign leaders decide not to make concessions, she says she will be forced to rip up that plan and do the very opposite: slash public services and regulation. Some “control”, that.

A fact of the modern world, sadly overlooked in the referendum, is bringing itself to bear on Britain: control and autonomy are not the same thing. The country is party to some 700 treaties, member of myriad international organisations and spends tens of billions on a nuclear deterrent unusable without America (this week it transpired that, at Washington’s behest, Parliament had been kept in the dark when a missile went off course in a test). In each of these cases, Britain trades pure self-determination for real influence: the ability to shape its economic, security and environmental circumstances. Its membership of the EU is just one of many such deals. Leaving the club reinstates some control to Britain but requires it to trade away control in other ways. Will the result be a country any more able to chart its own course, as chosen by its own democratically elected leaders? Watch the prime minister’s excruciating embrace of Mr Trump and decide.

Trump is violating the Constitution


Trenchant comment from the New York Review of Books

...Two days after inauguration, his administration announced that Trump would not release the returns even if an audit were complete. Trump has somewhat gleefully asserted that the conflict-of-interest rules don’t apply to the president. He mixed together personal business and official diplomacy during several meetings and conversations with foreign officials during the transition. And despite his widespread private holdings in commercial real estate, condominiums, hotels, and golf courses here and around the world, he has refused to follow the lead of his predecessors by selling his assets and placing the proceeds in a blind trust. Instead, he has transferred management, but not ownership, of the Trump Organization. He retains his ownership in full. And he has assigned operational responsibility not to an independent arm’s-length trustee, but to his sons, Eric and Donald Jr.

As a result, President Trump almost certainly began violating the Constitution the moment he took the oath of office....

In a comprehensive and persuasive report published in December by the Brookings Institution, Norman Eisen and Richard Painter, former ethics experts for Presidents Obama and George W. Bush, respectively, along with the Harvard constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, warned that “never before in American history has a president-elect presented more conflict of interest questions and foreign entanglements than Donald Trump.” In their view, one shared by many constitutional law and ethics experts, the only way for Trump to avoid receiving benefits from foreign governments or their agents, given his far-flung business interests, would be to sell his business and create a blind trust for his assets—as Trump’s predecessors have done upon assuming office.

Trump initially dismissed the idea that there would be any problem with his running the United States and the Trump Organization simultaneously. But as criticism mounted, he promised that he would work out a remedy to the problem before taking office. In a January press conference, he laid out his “solution.” He said he would transfer management of the Trump Organization to his sons. The Trump Organization would engage in no new foreign deals. He would appoint an ethics officer to review any new domestic deals. And he would donate any proceeds from foreign dignitaries staying in his hotels to the American people.

These measures are embarrassingly inadequate to address the constitutional concerns. The emoluments clause prohibits the receipt of any gain from a foreign state or its agent. The clause is obviously not limited to hotel stays. It’s also not limited to new deals or foreign deals. The prohibition extends to any benefit obtained from any foreign agent or state official in any business transaction with a Trump Organization concern, abroad or at home. To ensure that no such payments were made by any foreign official would demand absolute transparency of the Trump Organization’s every lease, contract, guest bill, and golf course fee.

That’s why Eisen, Painter, and many other ethics experts have condemned the Trump plan as insufficient. Walter Shaub, head of the US Office of Government Ethics, pronounced the plan “meaningless.” As the arrangement now stands, Trump retains full ownership in his businesses, and therefore stands to profit from ongoing business with foreign agents seeking to curry favor. Trump knows full well where he has businesses. And he will now be in a position to use the power of the presidency to benefit his own corporate brand. The only thing that is “blind” about this scheme is the fact that virtually everyone outside the Trump family will continue to be in the dark about the details of Trump’s foreign business ties.

Trump’s longtime tax lawyer, Sheri Dillon, who appears to have little or no constitutional law experience, defended these partial measures at the January press conference by claiming that selling the assets would be difficult. Without Trump’s connection, she maintained, the businesses might be far less valuable and would therefore have to be sold at a discount. She claimed that even if Trump sold his business interests, he’d still have the right to receive royalties, although she did not explain why he couldn’t sell those as well. Others have noted that a liquidation of the Trump Organization would have substantial tax consequences. But the fact that Trump might sustain an economic loss or actually have to pay taxes is no justification for violating a constitutional constraint designed to forestall corruption and foreign influence. As we know all too well, foreign influence is not a speculative or abstract concern when it comes to this president.

So what now? Trump has taken the oath, and he is violating the Constitution. What remedies are available? The Framers considered this prohibition so important that they deemed its violation to be grounds for impeachment. But no one expects the Republican Congress to institute impeachment proceedings anytime soon. If the Constitution is to be enforced, it will have to come at the insistence of the people.

The day before the inauguration, the ACLU filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests aimed at bringing to light Trump’s conflicts of interest. Secrecy—some might even say smoke and mirrors—has been Trump’s preferred mode when it comes to his business dealings. But as president, he is subject to transparency obligations that he did not face as a private citizen. And transparency is the first step on the road to accountability.

Trump is also likely to face multiple lawsuits. Already on January 23, Eisen, Painter, and Tribe filed suit on behalf of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, a nonprofit watchdog group, asserting that Trump is violating the emoluments clause. An issue may arise about whether this organization has suffered a sufficiently specific injury to give it legal “standing” to sue. But other suits are likely to follow. The federal courts have recognized that businesses have “standing” where official actions that are allegedly illegal put them at a competitive disadvantage with other businesses. A rival hotel company, real estate developer, or golf course owner could sue over the illegality of Trump’s ongoing arrangements. Whether a particular economic transaction between a foreign official or agent and a Trump business constitutes a constitutionally forbidden “emolument” is a legal—not a political—question, fully susceptible to resolution by the courts. If courts could order President Bush, in an ongoing armed conflict, to subject his detentions of “enemy combatants” to legal review, surely they can order President Trump to conform his business interests to the express demands of the Constitution.

The president of the United States is supposed to serve the American people, not himself, and certainly not the interests of foreign states. President Trump chose to seek this office, and this responsibility. He is trying to have it both ways, serving himself, his family, and his far-flung business interests while simultaneously making foreign and domestic policy decisions that will inevitably have direct effects on his personal holdings. That way lies scandal, corruption, and illegitimacy. Unfortunately, our forty-fifth president has deliberately chosen to undermine the interests of the people he represents in order to further the interests of the one person he cares about most.

Read the whole article

Monday, January 30, 2017

Trump's sinister choice of blacklisted countries.

It's all about the money

From the Sydney Morning Herald

The new President is cravenly political in the countries he decided to put on a refugee and migrant blacklist. And his inclusions and exclusions don't make sense – unless your name is Donald Trump.

Trump claims to be motivated by the horrific September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, but the countries of which the 19 aircraft hijackers were citizens are not on the list – most came from Saudi Arabia and the rest from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon.

Also absurdly absent are Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan – all of them hotbeds of terror. In excluding them, Trump is grovelling to their leaders, not making a gesture to their people.

But there's something a bit more sinister in his choice of targets.
This is a core identity of ours that we are repudiating in a very callous fashion. What do we do — get a new inscription on the Statue of Liberty?
Former US ambassador Ryan Crocker
In the 40 years to 2015, not a single American was killed on US soil by citizens from any of the seven countries targeted - Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen - according to research by the conservative-leaning Cato Institute.

But the same research shows that in the same period nearly 3000 Americans were killed by citizens of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Turkey — most victims of the September 11 attacks.

And oops, wouldn't you know it, Trump has multimillion-dollar business operations in all those countries.

In 2015, he registered eight hotel-related companies in Saudi Arabia, according to The Washington Post; in Turkey, two luxury towers in Istanbul are licensed to use his name; in Egypt, he has two companies; and in the UAE, he has naming and management deals for two golf courses.

Trump's insistence that immigrant vetting must be "extreme" deliberately misrepresents the previous regime as something of a cakewalk.

It was extreme and demeaning for a good number of Muslims, especially for refugees whose lives and connections were picked over for as long three years by the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Defence, the State Department, the National Counterterrorism Centre, and various other US intelligence agencies

And he lies about the fate of Christians seeking entry to the US. "If you were a Muslim [in Syria] you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible," he said in a TV interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network on Thursday. "I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them."

In 2016, the US admitted Christian and Muslim refugees in similar numbers – 37,521 Christians and 38,901 Muslims, according to the Pew Research Centre. But given that the Middle East is overwhelmingly Muslim, the number of Muslims and Christians granted refuge from Syria and Iraq is much more likely to be about proportion than discrimination, as Trump has suggested.

And in singling out the plight of Christians as the victims of Islamic State, Trump is seemingly oblivious to, or just choosing to ignore, the fact that IS has murdered thousands of Muslims around the world.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

George Orwell's dystopia classic zooming in sales

After incorrect or unproveable statements made by Republican President Donald Trump and some White House aides, one truth is undeniable: Sales of George Orwell's 1984 are soaring.

First published in 1949, Orwell's classic dystopian tale of a society in which facts are distorted and suppressed in a cloud of "newspeak" topped the best-seller list of as of Tuesday evening.

The sales bump comes after the Trump administration's assertions his inauguration had record attendance and his unfounded allegation that millions of illegal votes were cast against him last fall.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sabotaging democracy

Back on January 21, the editorial in the Dominion Post meditated about possible consequences of the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House.


Then it went on to say:

Barring any last-minute shock, a Donald Trump presidency begins this morning [New Zealand time].

That is a frightening fact: Trump's campaign was ugly, his transition has been a mess, and quite what his term portends no-one can tell.

"We have no freakin' idea what he's gonna do," as outgoing Vice-President Joe Biden said this week.

Some say Trump lacks legitimacy because he lost the popular vote, or because the FBI director made a partisan intervention late in the race, or because Russia apparently wanted Hillary Clinton to lose.

Actually, on the basis of what's known publicly, Trump won fairly – and that's that.

The really scary comment came at the end --

Trump is the president, and nothing other than handing over the White House to him could have been contemplated, no matter how few of the classified briefings he had read or the inadequacy of his staff.

The real dilemma will come, however, if he attacks the machinery of US democracy – by making it impossible for some people to vote, or censoring the press, or even, worst of all, rejecting the next election's results, as he threatened he might in 2016.

That is the democratic nightmare – an elected leader who doesn't respect the business of elections. It would be a crisis with no easy answer.

Is it possible that Trump would reject the result of the 2020 election, claiming it is invalid?  Could 2017 be the start of an unstoppable Roman-style dynasty?

Surely not.

But why else is he insisting that there must be a fully fledged investigation of so-called voter fraud in the last election?  The popular belief is that he is doing it because he is miffed that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote -- witness, for instance, the report in the New York Times.

But the motive could be a much more ominous one than that

Nothing less than the sabotaging of the democratic process in the United States.

American billionaires buying boltholes in New Zealand




One, the founder of PayPal and a fervent Trump supporter, has somehow even wangled New Zealand citizenship.  Which is covering all eventualities with a vengeance.

How did he do it?  Here is the current speculation from the New Zealand media.

ANALYSIS: Late on Tuesday, while we were basking in the glow of a New Yorker piece that profiled New Zealand as a hiding spot for rich Americans, the news broke that Peter Thiel had gone the whole way and become a citizen.

You'd be forgiven for not caring much. Plenty of rich Americans move here. Why is this guy such a big deal?

Thiel is arguably one of this decade's most interesting, important, and controversial figures.

If you take a close look at the three big forces driving our modern world - media, technology, and an increasingly polarised politics - Thiel always seems to be there, somewhere behind the scenes.

He is an outspoken Trump supporter. He runs a secretive software company that makes software used by spies. He wants young blood so he can become immortal. And last year he helped bring down a media company.

And now he's a citizen here.

Here's a brief rundown of what we know about Thiel's citizenship and why you should care.

Tell me again, who is this guy?

Peter Thiel, 49, is a German/American/Kiwi venture capitalist who rose to fame as the co-founder and chief executive of PayPal.

After PayPal was sold to eBay in 2002 Thiel took the NZ$75m that sale netted him and became one of the world's most successful tech investors - particularly with a US$500,000 investment in a little company called Facebook in 2004. 

This was Facebook's first outside investment. He's since sold most of his shares for around US$1 billion, but still owns a decent chunk of the company.

So he's crazy rich?

Yup. Forbes puts his net worth at NZ$3.7 billion.

Plenty of Silicon Valley people are wild rich. What is it about Thiel?

Thiel is a radical libertarian who wants to see his far-right views gain greater prominence.

How far right? In a 2009 article about how freedom and democracy were no longer compatible, Thiel arguably implied that women getting the vote had ruined democracy, writing that: ​"[s]ince 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of "capitalist democracy" into an oxymoron." He subsequently elaborated by saying it would be "absurd to suggest that women's votes will be taken away or that this would solve the political problems that vex us."
In that same article Thiel advocated for "seasteading" -  the creation of new freedom-focused nations on artificial islands. Thiel has backed a seasteading venture in the past.

Last year, an African-American dorm-mate of Thiel in college came forward to claim he once told her South African apartheid was a "sound economic system" and that "moral issues were irrelevant" to the country's economy. Thiel subsequently said he had no recollection of the conversation and never supported apartheid.

And he donated to Trump?

Yes, Thiel spoke in support of Trump at the Republican National Convention and donated US$1.25m to his campaign in the last month of the election. He was a member of his transition team and organised a very awkward looking meeting between Silicon Valley CEOs and the new President.

What's this software company used for spying?

Thiel launched a private big data analysis company in the early 2000s called Palantir - yes, after that seeing stone orb in The Lord of the Rings.

Palantir's software is used by governments (including potentially our own) to mine large sets of intelligence data and look for threats. In other words, it helps governments and law enforcement analyse all the stuff they collect on people.

What's this media company he destroyed?

You've probably run into a Gawker Media story over the years. The pioneering gossip blog set the standard for internet writing, breaking stories and spawning a network of subblogs like Gizmodo, Kotaku, and Valleywag.

In late 2007, a Valleywag journalist told the world that Peter Thiel was gay. The reporter involved, who is gay himself, has defended this action, telling The New York Times that Thiel's sexuality was an open secret in Silicon Valley, and that keeping it from becoming widely known was "retrograde and homophobic".

Thiel was extremely angry. First, he called Valleywag "the Silicon Valley equivalent of Al Qaeda". Then he got to work completely destroying the company, funding a lawsuit Hulk Hogan took out against Gawker after they published a portion of his sextape.

Thiel's funding of the lawsuit allowed Hogan to really ruin Gawker in a Florida court, winning $140 million in damages. Gawker was confident it could win on appeal but the amount required before then bankrupted the company, its founder, and its editor at the time.

Usually these cases end in a settlement or lawsuit insurance kicks in, but Thiel's funding and an adept lawyer made sure that couldn't happen.

Thiel's funding of the lawsuit was secret until midway through the 2016 trial, when Forbes broke the news. Thiel described the funding as "less about revenge and more about specific deterrence." He refused to confirm or deny whether he was funding other lawsuits against Gawker operated by the same lawyer, including one by a man who claims to have invented email.

And he wants young blood? What?

Thiel is very interested in immortality. He sees society's acceptance of the inevitability of death as a failure of the imagination.

One his many life-extending investments is in a "parabiosis" company called Ambrosia, who are currently researching what happens when blood plasma from people under the age of 25 is transfused into people older than 35. The idea is that the young blood heals the ravages of aging in the old.
In an interview with Inc, Thiel described this practice as "underexplored."

"I'm looking into parabiosis stuff, which I think is really interesting. This is where they did the young blood into older mice and they found that had a massive rejuvenating effect. And so that's ... that is one that ... again, it's one of these very odd things where people had done these studies in the 1950s and then it got dropped altogether."

So he's a New Zealand citizen now. How did we find out?

Reporter Matt Nippert was looking into Thiel's purchase of a Wanaka lakefront estate on Tuesday, and asked the Overseas Investment Office about whether they had assessed this purchase of "sensitive" land by a foreign citizen.

The office came back to say they hadn't because Thiel was not a foreign citizen - he's now a Kiwi.

How did he get his citizenship? When?

Thiel became a citizen in June of 2011, the Department of Internal Affairs have said.

The "how" is yet to be seen.

Getting residence in New Zealand as a super-rich person is fairly easy - you really just need to invest more than NZ$1.5m in the country, a drop in the bucket for someone like Thiel.

But citizenship requires a bit more. If you and your family aren't born in New Zealand, then you need to spend 240 days of every year for five years in New Zealand before being granted citizenship, or be granted special permission by the government

Thiel definitely wasn't born here, and his parents are reportedly German. Given his hectic schedule running a huge software company it would seem unlikely he has spent the majority of a five-year period in New Zealand.

That leaves the special grant, which the Minister of Internal Affairs can grant if the citizenship "would be in the public interest because of exceptional circumstance of a humanitarian or other nature" or because the person would otherwise become stateless.

Thiel doesn't seem to be facing humanitarian persecution in either Germany or the USA, and he's at no risk of suddenly becoming stateless. Is there some other way that the Government has decided Thiel's citizenship is in the public interest - as they do with musicians and sporting stars from time to time?

We have requested comment from Thiel's lawyers and the Department of Internal Affairs concerning his citizenship.

In the mean time, NZ First leader Winston Peters has questioned the decision, and accused the government of "selling citizenship" to rich foreigners.

Okay, that's a lot of law stuff. Any more fun details?

Yes. Thiel prefers Star Wars to Star Trek because he thinks Star Trek is too communist. Not because of lightsabers like the rest of us.
 - Stuff

Now that the media and the politicians are running with the story, it is going to get very interesting indeed.  Meantime, one can't help but wonder how well a man like Thiel would fit into an egalitarian, liberal, multi-cultural society.  


Amazon launches 20,000-pound Indie prize

From the Telegraph

Online retailer Amazon UK has taken on big awards such as the Man Booker and Costa Book Awards by launching its own literary prize – for self-published ebooks.

The Kindle Storyteller Prize carries a cash award of £20,000: far smaller than the £50,000 Man Booker Prize, but equal to the winner's purse offered by the country's two biggest poetry book awards, the TS Eliot Prize and Forward Prize.

The prize is open to any author who publishes their book through Kindle Direct Publishing between February 20 and May 19 this year. Etries from any genre are eligible – including fiction, non-fiction and collections of short stories – so long as they are more than 5,000 words and previously unpublished. Once published, individual printed copies of any of the books can also be ordered via Amazon's print-on-demand service.

The announcement follows a number of high-profile success stories in recent years: EL James's best-selling erotic novel 50 Shades of Grey began life as a self-published ebook, while thriller writer Rachel Abbott's first six self-published Kindle novels have together sold more than 2.5 million copies worldwide.

"Great books deserve to be celebrated and that’s what we want to do with the Kindle Storyteller competition,” said an Amazon spokesperson. "Publishing a book has never been easier, and the Kindle Storyteller Award will reward the author whose story resonates most with both readers and literary experts." Amazon will use readers' interest in different titles online to help decide the shortlist, before the winner is chosen by an as-yet-unannounced panel of "both Amazon experts and literary authorities."

The new initiative could be seen as an attempt to shore up the Kindle, Amazon's electronic reading tablet, after a reported decline in sales: in 2015, Waterstones chief James Daunt said Kindle sales had "disappeared to all intents and purposes”.

Sales of digital books are also less healthy than before. A 2016 survey of major publishers showed ebook sales were in decline for the first time on record, having shrunk 2.4% over the previous year.
Estimates vary for the market value of Britain's self-published ebooks, but in 2015 Neilsen put the annual total of self-published UK book sales (both in print and online) at £58 million.

Entries for the Kindle Storyteller Prize open on February 20:

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Trump repeats a lie

So what about the Republican sycophants?  A "beautiful, beautiful relationship?"  Do they have tin ears?

From the New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump used his first official meeting with congressional leaders on Monday to falsely claim that millions of unauthorized immigrants had robbed him of a popular vote majority, a return to his obsession with the election’s results even as he seeks support for his legislative agenda.

The claim, which he has made before on Twitter, has been judged untrue by numerous fact-checkers. The new president’s willingness to bring it up at a White House reception in the State Dining Room is an indication that he continues to dwell on the implications of his popular vote loss even after assuming power.

Mr. Trump appears to remain concerned that the public will view his victory — and his entire presidency — as illegitimate if he does not repeatedly challenge the idea that Americans were deeply divided about sending him to the White House to succeed President Barack Obama.

Mr. Trump received 304 electoral votes to capture the White House, but he fell almost three million votes short of Hillary Clinton in the popular vote. That reality appears to have bothered him since Election Day, prompting him to repeatedly complain that adversaries were trying to undermine him.

Moving into the White House appears not to have tempered that anxiety. Several people familiar with the closed-door meeting Monday night, who asked to remain anonymous in discussing a private conversation, said Mr. Trump used the opportunity to brag about his victory.

As part of that conversation, Mr. Trump asserted that between three million and five million unauthorized immigrants voted for Mrs. Clinton. That is similar to a Twitter message he posted in late November that said he would have won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

Voting officials across the country have said there is virtually no evidence of people voting illegally, and certainly not millions of them. White House officials did not respond to requests for a comment on Mr. Trump’s discussion of the issue.

Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland, who attended the meeting, said that Mr. Trump also talked about the size of the crowd for his Inaugural Address.

“It was a huge crowd, a magnificent crowd. I haven’t seen such a crowd as big as this,” Mr. Hoyer told CNN, quoting Mr. Trump. He added that Mr. Trump did not “spend a lot of time on that, but it was clear that it was still on his mind.”

The president’s comments about the election results and his inauguration came as he gathered the bipartisan leadership of Congress for a White House reception. He also sought to build support for an ambitious legislative agenda, despite days earlier castigating the very institution he needs to approve it.

Mr. Trump has said he intends to press Congress to move quickly to repeal and replace Mr. Obama’s health care law, pass a large investment in the nation’s infrastructure, make changes to the country’s immigration laws and overhaul the tax system.

Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, called the meeting a “good sort of get-to-know-you session” and noted that “relationships count for a lot in this business.”
Mr. Cornyn said he thought such sessions would be more frequent while Mr. Trump is in office than they were during Mr. Obama’s tenure. Mr. Obama famously disliked socializing with members of Congress.
Referring to Democrats, Mr. Cornyn said, “They said they’d never been over to the White House for anything like this before.”
Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, said it was an “interesting” meeting. Along with health care and infrastructure, she said they discussed China and currency manipulation, as well as issues involving intellectual property rights, which she said were a point of agreement.

“We talked about the Affordable Care Act and said what the Affordable Care Act has been successful in doing is improving quality, expanding access and lowering costs,” she told reporters. “And any proposal that they might have that does that, we’d be interested in hearing about.”

Even with Republicans in control of Congress, Mr. Trump will have to build relationships in a city that he spent more time mocking than praising during his campaign.

In his Inaugural Address, the president criticized the political establishment, saying the people assembled behind him — including the leaders he met with on Monday — had “reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.”

White House officials said the meeting was designed to press the lawmakers on the need to move quickly.

The reception included, among others, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, as well as Ms. Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.

“The American people are frustrated with the lack of progress here in Washington, and the president wants no delay in addressing our most pressing issues,” said Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary. “He’s taking every opportunity to forge strong bonds with congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle.”

As the group sat around a dining room table for photographs, Mr. Trump described his interactions with lawmakers.

A “beautiful, beautiful relationship,” Mr. Trump told reporters.

That has not always been the case. Before Mr. Trump secured the Republican nomination, Mr. Ryan pointedly declined to endorse him. At one point, Mr. Ryan said he was “not ready” to back Mr. Trump after his remarks about women and Hispanics and because of his divergence from Republican orthodoxy.

That relationship slowly improved after Mr. Trump became the party’s nominee and later won the election to become the 45th president. Monday’s reception, officials said, was another step in that process.

NZ Media unhappy with Trump

Trump signals one-on-one NZ trade deal but English says his terms are 'unattractive'

Bill English says NZ will remain a positive advocate for open trade.

United States President Donald Trump has dangled the possibility of a one-on-one trade deal, but a likely 30-day "out clause" if we "misbehave" is one reason the Government is cool on the idea.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Trumpism predicted in classic novel

Review in the New York Times


The anxiety began well before the Cleveland convention, where the candidate of the “Forgotten Men,” the one who declared Americans “the greatest Race on the face of this old Earth,” seemed likely to clinch his party’s presidential nomination. Doremus Jessup, the protagonist of Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel “It Can’t Happen Here,” sees something dark and terrible brewing in American politics — the potential for “a real fascist dictatorship” led by the up-and-coming populist candidate Berzelius Windrip. Friends scoff at this extravagant concern. “That couldn’t happen here in America, not possibly!” they assure him. But Jessup, a small-town Vermont newspaper editor and a “mild, rather indolent and somewhat sentimental liberal,” worries about the devastation ahead. “What can I do?” he agonizes night after night. “Oh — write another editorial viewing-with-alarm, I suppose!”

When Election Day comes to pass, Jessup learns that his editorials have not done the trick. The reality of the new situation feels unspeakably awful, “like the long-dreaded passing of a friend.” Jessup faces the presidential inauguration in a state of high distress, convinced that the nation is careering toward its doom, but that nobody — least of all his fellow liberals — can do much to stop it.

“It Can’t Happen Here” is a work of dystopian fantasy, one man’s effort in the 1930s to imagine what it might look like if fascism came to America. At the time, the obvious specter was Adolf Hitler, whose rise to power in Germany provoked fears that men like the Louisiana senator Huey Long or the radio priest Charles Coughlin might accomplish a similar feat in the United States. Today, Lewis’s novel is making a comeback as an analogy for the Age of Trump. Within a week of the 2016 election, the book was reportedly sold out on

At a moment when instability seems to be the only constant in American politics, “It Can’t Happen Here” offers an alluring (if terrifying) certainty: It can happen here, and what comes next will be even ghastlier than you expect. Yet the graphic horrors of Lewis’s vision also limit the book’s usefulness as a guide to our own political moment. In 1935, Lewis was trying to prevent the unthinkable: the election of a pseudo-fascist candidate to the presidency of the United States. Today’s readers, by contrast, are playing catch-up, scrambling to think through the implications of an electoral fait accompli. If Lewis’s postelection vision is what awaits us, there will be little cause for hope, or even civic engagement, in the months ahead. The only viable options will be to get out of the country — or to join an armed underground resistance.

Lewis’s second wife, the journalist Dorothy Thompson, provided much of the inspiration for “It Can’t Happen Here.” In 1931, she interviewed Hitler, scoffing at his “startling insignificance” when encountered face-to-face. Back in the United States, Thompson interviewed Huey Long, who had vowed to challenge Franklin Roosevelt for the presidency in 1936. She noted that Long’s populist message and swaggering style reminded her of Hitler, and according to Lewis’s biographer, Richard Lingeman, Lewis took the message to heart. A recent Nobel Prize winner, known for his superhuman productivity, Lewis churned out the entire manuscript of “It Can’t Happen Here” between May and August of 1935. The novel arrived in bookstores that October.

By that point, some of the immediate threat had passed. (On Sept. 8, 1935, Long was assassinated at the Louisiana State Capitol, one of the great political traumas of the 1930s.) Lewis’s book nonetheless sold 320,000 copies, becoming his most popular work to date. Reviewers agreed that the book’s success had little to do with its literary merits; though “a vigorous anti-fascist tract,” one critic noted, it was “not much of a novel.” What propelled its popularity was a sense of urgency, the worry that the United States — like the nations of Western Europe — might contain dark forces yet to be unleashed.

A slightly different sense of urgency seems to be fueling the book’s latest surge in popularity. We have already experienced some of what Lewis describes in the first third of the book: a blustery populist candidate rising, against all odds, to the presidency of the United States. Now the great question is whether or not we are moving into Lewis’s terrifying future.

The novel’s Everyman candidate, Berzelius (Buzz) Windrip, is hardly a perfect stand-in for Trump. A creature of the Great Depression and a Democrat, Windrip sweeps into office as a quasi-socialist, promising $3,000 to $5,000 for every “real American family.” His movement style evokes the hyper-militarization of Nazi Germany rather than the anonymous jabs of the Twitter mob.

Still, there are enough points of resonance to cause palpitations in the heart of any anxious 21st-century liberal. Like Trump, Windrip sells himself as the champion of “Forgotten Men,” determined to bring dignity and prosperity back to America’s white working class. Windrip loves big, passionate rallies and rails against the “lies” of the mainstream press. His supporters embrace this message, lashing out against the “highbrow intellectuality” of editors and professors and policy elites. With Windrip’s encouragement, they also take out their frustrations on blacks and Jews.

The architect of Windrip’s campaign is a savvy newsman named Lee Sarason, the novel’s closest approximation of Steve Bannon. It is Sarason, not Windrip, who actually writes “Zero Hour,” the candidate’s popular jeremiad on national decline. Sarason believes in propaganda, not information, openly arguing that “it is not fair to ordinary folks — it just confuses them — to try to make them swallow all the true facts that would be suitable to a higher class of people.”

This is where the novel comes to rest by Inauguration Day: Through a combination of deception and charisma, the feared Windrip ascends to the presidency while the nation’s liberals tremble. It is only after the inauguration, though, that “It Can’t Happen Here” takes a truly dark turn. Upon moving into the White House, Windrip immediately declares Congress an “advisory” body, stripped of all real power. When members of Congress resist, he locks them up without the slightest semblance of due process, the beginning of the end for American democracy.

The rest of the book describes one long, disorienting nightmare, a national descent into labor camps and torture chambers and martial law. The novel gains its energy from Jessup’s internal struggle, his regret at having done so little to stop it all while he still could. “The tyranny of this dictatorship isn’t primarily the fault of Big Business, nor of the demagogues who do their dirty work,” he realizes. “It’s the fault of Doremus Jessup! Of all the conscientious, respectable, lazy-minded Doremus Jessups, who have let the demagogues wriggle in, without fierce enough protest.” With this heavy hand, Lewis seeks not only to satirize American liberals, but to induce them to pay attention before it’s too late.

While the book skewers Jessup’s passivity, however, it does little to suggest viable modes of engagement under the Windrip regime, short of abandoning home and family and fleeing to Canada. Every time Jessup attempts some modest act of resistance, he is met with the ruthless repression of the state. When Jessup prints a righteous editorial, Windrip’s goons arrest him and murder his son-in-law. Jessup ends up as a toilet-scrubber in a concentration camp, beaten down but determined to carry on. Six months into his sentence, he escapes and joins the underground movement percolating in Canada — where, the book implies, he should have gone in the first place.

The one bright spot for the anti-Windrip forces is that things don’t work out particularly well for anyone else. Windrip never follows through on his pledge to restore prosperity and redistribute wealth, fueling conflict with his early supporters, who mostly end up dead or in jail. Even Windrip himself gets little of what he wants. As president, he insists on absolute obedience, “louder, more convincing Yeses from everybody about him.” After two years of this treatment, his crafty aide Sarason maneuvers the president into exile, only to be deposed himself a month later in a military coup.

By the book’s closing pages, Jessup has returned to the United States as a disciplined resistance fighter, organizing armed rebellions throughout the Midwest. His transformation illustrates Lewis’s most powerful message: When it happens here, everyone should be prepared to resist. But Jessup’s story also underscores how difficult it can be to sort out what to do at moments of swift political change and social confusion. In our brave imaginations, we undoubtedly do the right thing when fascism comes to America. In reality, we might not recognize it while it’s happening.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Most borrowed books, January 2017

From the Library Journal

Best Sellers: Books Most Borrowed, January 2017

Library Journal’s Best Sellers is compiled from data on books borrowed and requested (placed on hold) at public libraries throughout the United States. It includes statistics from urban, suburban, and rural libraries. We thank the many contributing libraries as well as The Library Corporation (TLC), Polaris Library Systems, and SirsiDynix. (c) Copyright 2017 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc.
1 The Whistler. John Grisham. Doubleday. 
ISBN 9780385541190. $28.95. – / 1
2 The Wrong Side of Goodbye. Michael Connelly. 
Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316225946. $29. – / 1
3 Small Great Things. Jodi Picoult. Ballantine. 
ISBN 9780345544957. $28.99. – / 1
4 Night School. Lee Child. Delacorte. ISBN 9780804178808. $28.99. 15 / 2
5 The Underground Railroad. Colson Whitehead. Doubleday. ISBN 9780385542364. $26.95. 2 / 3
6 Commonwealth. Ann Patchett. Harper. 
ISBN 9780062491794. $27.99. 3 / 2
7 The Girl on the Train. Paula Hawkins. Riverhead. 
ISBN 9781594633669. $26.95. 1 / 20
8 Escape Clause. John Sandford. Putnam. 
ISBN 9780399168918. $29. – / 1
9 Woman of God. James Patterson & Maxine Paetro. 
Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316274029. $28. – / 1
10 Missing. James Patterson & Kathryn Fox. Grand Central. ISBN 9781455596683. $35; pap. ISBN 9781455568147. $15.99. – / 1
11 Two by Two. Nicholas Sparks. Grand Central. 
ISBN 9781455520695. $27. – / 1
12 A Man Called Ove. Fredrik Backman. Washington Square: Atria. ISBN 9781476738024. $16. 6 / 4
13 No Man’s Land. David Baldacci. Grand Central. 
ISBN 9781455586516. $29. – / 1
14 Home. Harlan Coben. Dutton. 
ISBN 9780525955108. $28. 9 / 2
15 Turbo Twenty-Three. Janet Evanovich. Bantam. 
ISBN 9780345543004. $28. – / 1

1 Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. J.D. Vance. Harper. ISBN 9780062300546. $27.99. 2 / 4
2 The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo. Amy Schumer. Gallery: S. & S. ISBN 9781501139888. $28. 1 / 4
3 Born To Run. Bruce Springsteen. S. & S. 
ISBN 9781501141515. $32.50. 3 / 2
4 Killing the Rising Sun: How America Vanquished 
World War II Japan. Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard. Holt. ISBN 9781627790628. $30. 6 / 2
5 Filthy Rich: A Powerful Billionaire, the Sex Scandal That Undid Him, and All the Justice That Money Can Buy—The Shocking True Story of Jeffrey Epstein. James Patterson 
& others. Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316274050. $28. – / 1
6 Love Warrior. Glennon Doyle Melton. Flatiron: Macmillan. ISBN 9781250128546. $25.99. 5 / 3
7 Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. Trevor Noah. Spiegel & Grau. ISBN 9780399588174. $28. – / 1
8 Alexander Hamilton. Ron Chernow. Penguin Pr. 
ISBN 9781594200090.$35; pap. Penguin. 
ISBN 9780143034759. $20. 9 / 6
9 When Breath Becomes Air. Paul Kalanithi. Random. 
ISBN 9780812988406. $25. 4 / 9
10 Between the World and Me. Ta-Nehisi Coates. 
Spiegel & Grau. ISBN 9780812993547. $24. 7 / 14
11 Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning 
on the American Right. Arlie Russell Hochschild. New Pr. ISBN 9781620972250. $27.95. – / 1
12 The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese 
Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Marie Kondo. 
Ten Speed. ISBN 9781607747307. $16.99. 10 / 20
13 Scrappy Little Nobody. Anna Kendrick. Touchstone. 
ISBN 9781501117206. $26.99. – / 1
14 The Magnolia Story. Chip & Joanna Gaines & Mark Dagostino. Thomas Nelson. ISBN 9780718079185. $26.99. – / 1
15 Settle for More. Megyn Kelly. Harper. 
ISBN 9780062494603. $29.99. – / 1

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Refugee in bid for a seat in the New Zealand Parliament

She was an Iranian refugee who found a haven in New Zealand.  She became a world class barrister.  And now she hopes to be elected to a seat in parliament.

It's a heartwarming success story.

From the New Zealand Herald

A Green Party candidate is aiming to be the first refugee to become an MP in New Zealand.

Auckland barrister Golriz Ghahraman, originally from Iran, has been confirmed as a candidate for the general election.

She says electing a refugee to Parliament would send a strong message during a global refugee crisis and at a time of rising anti-refugee and immigrant sentiment.

"It would be historic for New Zealand and I think it will mean something at this particular moment in a time when we are seeing one of the worst humanitarian disasters in a lifetime in the Middle East," Ghahraman said.

"To say that someone fleeing that part of the world could actually be so accepted, that she could take part in a democratic society, would be really meaningful.

"Especially with the rhetoric of Donald Trump and Brexit, I got to the point where I thought some of us who are witnessing this actually need to put our hands up and be at the table in the higher levels of governance."

The Dominion Post gives more details.

Originally from the Shia holy city of Mashhad in north-eastern Iran, near the Afghanistan border, Golriz's family fled in 1990, when she was aged nine.  They headed for Malaysia, and from there bought tickets to Fiji, a country that did not demand a visa.  The flight included a stopover in Auckland, where the family had relatives who had won asylum in New Zealand.  Gambling that they might find the same charity, they reported that they were political refugees, and waited to see what would happen.

"It was amazing," said Ghahraman. "They were much more concerned if we had fruit products on us.  The next question was 'are you hungry and do you have somewhere to go?'"

And so they settled.  Her father was Shia and an agricultural engineer, and her mother was a Kurdish Sunni child psychologist who had never practised, because she refused to take the Islamic exams or wear Islamic dress, so religion played little part in Golriz' upbringing..  Like many migrants, the couple set up a restaurant, and concentrated on a good education for their offspring.  Golriz went to Auckland Girls' Grammar and Auckland University, where she studied history and law.  She said she never suffered from racial discrimination, and only felt vulnerable because the family was poor.

After graduating she worked for the United Nations in Rwanda and what used to be Yugoslavia.  After getting her masters degree in International Human Rights Law at Oxford University she also worked on the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Cambodia.

After returning to New Zealand in 2012, she became an advocate for family caring for profoundly disabled relatives.  And now she has entered the world of politics.

"I am a political animal," she said. "I think you have to try all the different routes to try and bring about change."

Convinced to join the Greens by a former flatmate, she has worked as the party's Auckland convenor and sat on its national executive. She now wants to run in an Auckland seat, possibly Kelston, New Lynn or Te Atatu.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Trump prediction from 1987

EIR is the Executive Intelligence Review.

It's story reads like something from John Le Carre -- a web of twists and turns.  What you might glimpse is not actually what is there.

Founded in 1974 by activist and economist Lyndon LaRouche, EIR and its sister magazines have gone through a number of editors who seem to have met unfortunate fates.

EIR is one of a number of publications owned by the LaRouche movement.

Others include The New Federalist; 21st Century Science and Technology; Nouvelle Solidarité in France; Neue Solidarität, published by LaRouche's Bürgerrechtsbewegung Solidarität in Germany; and Fidelio, a quarterly magazine published by the Schiller Institute, also in Germany.

The New Solidarity International Press Service, or NSIPS, was a news service credited as the publisher of EIR and other LaRouche publications.

The New Federalist suspended publication in 2006 as a result of money troubles; Fidelio magazine published its last number in 2006 because editor Kenneth Kronberg decided to stop working on it; in April 2007 he committed suicide. New Solidarity International Press Service was supplanted by EIR News Service because New Solidarity newspaper was shut down in 1987, after the massive 1986 Federal raid on LaRouche's headquarters in Leesburg, VA.

It is known as an extreme rightwing publishing enterprise, on the level of  Breitbart news, a huge distributor of anti-Liberal propaganda -- 

So why publish this story on a man who was relatively unknown then, but was "outed" (THIRTY YEARS AGO) as a presidential prospect worth cultivating by the Russians?

Very strange.  But certainly relevant today.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Write a bestseller and still be broke

They say that the only way an ordinary person can make a fortune, these days, is by writing a bestseller.

But, as Slate reports, that ain't necessarily so.

In 2012, a month after the publication of her memoir, Wild, Cheryl Strayed was on a book tour, soaking up the wonder of her first big success as an author, when her husband texted her to say that their rent check had bounced. “We couldn’t complain to anyone,” Strayed told Manjula Martin, editor of the new anthology Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living: “My book is on the New York Times best-seller list right now and we do not have any money in our checking account.

Few connections are more mysterious than the one between writing books and making money. Strayed most definitely did make money on Wild, which was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film with Reese Witherspoon, but she didn’t get her first royalty check for it until 2013, “so it was almost a year before my life actually changed.” Yes, there was that $400,000 advance—an amount to make any aspiring memoirist’s eyes go dreamily unfocused—but Strayed and her husband had run up so much credit card debt that almost all of the money went to paying it off and supporting her family while she finished writing the book.

Book advances, which are advances against the royalties that will be earned after the book is published, aren’t forked out in one lump sum, either. The payments come parceled out in (typically) three or four checks paid on signing the contract, on delivery of the manuscript, and on publication. The writer’s literary agent then takes a percentage of that. When Strayed sold her first novel a few years earlier for the seemingly handsome sum of $100,000, the advance amounted to, as she puts it, “about $21,000 a year over the course of four years, and I paid a third of that to the IRS … it was like getting a grant every year for four years. But it wasn’t enough to live off.” 

So how do writers avoid death from starvation?

By teaching people how to write, more often than not! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Style tips for 2017 from my favorite designer

From the Dominion Post

It's nice if you look like that naturally, but this beauty designs clothes, too.


Fashion rules are meant to be broken, says style guru Paula Ryan. "There are no rules anymore – it's not like the 1940s."

We quizzed her, along with Fairfax fashion editor Karlya Smith and Witchery women's apparel business manager Gavin Gage, about fashion's supposed rules – and found many of them no longer apply.


* Show Off Legs Or Cleavage - But Not Both

"They say 'less is more' for a reason. Accentuate your best features, not all your features," says Gage.

* Wear Tight On Top With Loose On Bottom, And Vice Versa
"As a rule of thumb this usually works, if you're trying to dress in a flattering manner," says Smith.

Ryan adds "if you have wide hips or strong thighs go for floaty pants with width. If you have a fuller bust, V-necks or a scoop necks look better than crew necks."


* Better To Be Overdressed Than Underdressed
Ryan agreed with this, as did Gage. "Why not always look fabulous? Fashion can empower you and dressing up will give you confidence," he says.

But Smith believes it's a personal thing. "I have no problem being over-dressed, but it would make many people feel self-conscious. Dress to make yourself feel good. That might include dressing to fit in."

* Don't Wear Pantyhose With Open-toe Shoes
Both Ryan and Smith think pantyhose are fine with peep-toes shoes, but not so attractive (and quite slippery) with strappy sandals. Smith says toeless hose can be a good option, though.

* Invest More In Shoes And Bags Less On Trendy Items
Smith advises buying "the best quality you can afford. Buy better, but buy less."

Ryan agrees with the principle of spending cautiously on one-season wonders.

But Gage says that "mixing 'high/low' fashion is far more creative and lends to individual style," who thinks it's fine to have fun with trendier, inexpensive footwear.


* Shoes Should Match The Bag
Not necessarily, says Ryan. "Black dress, black bag, orange shoes. Yay!"
"Opposites attract," says Gage, a fan of mixing it up.

* Sequins Are Only For Evening
"Wear them when and where it feels appropriate to you," says Smith.
Unless they are "rhinestones on mass," Ryan also gives them the thumbs up.

* Don't Wear Minis Past Age 30

"I'm against any rule that puts an age limit on clothes. The mutton/lamb line is so insulting. What's the men's equivalent?" says Smith. "If your legs are your favourite body part, you should show them however and whenever it suits you."

Ryan's mantra is to dress the body, not the age. "Just look at Jane Fonda in Grace & Frankie on Netflix. She's 78 and looks amazing when she wears above-the-knee skirts with black hose."

* Always Take Off One Item Before Leaving The House

"Wear it all and just own it," says Smith.

Ryan doesn't bother with this either. "It only applies if you overdress, over style or overdo!" she says.


"Trends come and go, but a well-edited outfit with clean lines is forever chic," says Gage.

Ryan's mantra is "if in doubt – don't."

"Good taste and a quality mirror always provide you with the answer," she says.

Buying Paula Ryan in Wellington

Friday, January 6, 2017

Sail of the century

From the DominionPost

A 1944 Staysail Schooner boat, currently moored at Wellington's Chaffers Marina, is up for auction with a starting price and reserve of just NZ$1.      
A yacht with more than 70 years of history and an insured value of $800,000 is up for grabs on TradeMe – with a starting price and reserve of just $1.

Following her divorce in 2015, Wanaka-based woman Fiona Campbell decided it was time to sell a 1944 Staysail Schooner she had bought for her former husband and start 2017 with one less thing to worry about.

Campbell said the vessel – known as Ruah – had been moored at Chaffers Marina in Wellington for too long and she hoped someone with a passion for boats would win the auction.

Cambell and her former husband spent many years renovating the 73-year old boat.

Campbell and her former husband spent many years renovating the 73-year old boat.
"It needs somebody who loves it, knows about it and is there to keep her in tip-top shape," she said.

"It should be out there in some magic bay with a family on it having a great time."

Ruah, a long-distance cruising vessel originally designed and built for the Australian Navy in 1944 , is being sold on ...

While Campbell had gifted the boat to her "seafaring" former husband in 2012, she took ownership following the divorce.

The listing has only been up a few days and has already attracted more than 5000 views and bids in the low six-figures.

While Campbell said the schooner has a lot of sentimental value and memories attached to it, she was ready to let it go for whatever price the auction ended at, hence the $1 reserve.

The 20-metre long vessel has six private cabins in total.
The 20-metre long vessel has six private cabins in total.

"I would love to get what she's worth but trying to assess the worth of the boat is hard. I just want to find her a good home for a good price."

Campbell, who was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2010, is based in Wanaka but has been holidaying on the Kapiti Coast, allowing her to meet with interested buyers keen to tour the boat.

Ruah is a long-distance cruising vessel that was designed and built for the Australian Navy in 1944 as a survey ship.

The 1944 Staysail Schooner boat has made several long-distance journeys including successfully making it across the ...
The 1944 Staysail Schooner boat has made several long-distance journeys including successfully making it across the Tasman in trying conditions.

Over the past 15 years, Campbell said the boat had undergone an extensive "high-quality conversion to become a supremely capable and comfortable private yacht".

She hoped someone would get as much joy from the "approachable beauty" as she had during her four years of ownership.

"We used to anchor up at some beautiful spot and kayakers would come up to us and start a conversation, hop aboard and we'd give them a tour. It was pretty magic," Campbell said.

Seller Fiona Campbell hoped the auction winner would love the boat as much as she had over the past four years.

Seller Fiona Campbell hoped the auction winner would love the boat as much as she had over the past four years.

She was looking forward to not having to worry about the boat and hoped the auction winner would love it and keep it in good condition.

"She's like a fine wine, she gets better and better with age. If she's maintained she just gets more and more awesome, historic and lovely."

The auction closes January 16.