For those wondering how dictators rise to power in a democracy, the recent events in the United States, sadly, provide a case study.
A leader with little or no regard for democratic institutions; elected representatives and officials who pledge fealty to the leader and enable the leader to pursue the assault on such institutions with impunity; and sections of the media that perpetuate falsehoods all conspire to set the table.
The recent actions of many Republicans in Congress reveal their commitment to democracy and their oath of office is wafer-thin or non-existent. For a vibrant democracy in the United States, the actions of this rump bode ill. Let us hope that donors, voters and good people assume the task of removing and replacing them in the near future.
Craig Clark, St Heliers.
There have been at least two letters recently painting suspension of social media privilege as an attack on free speech. This is not the case. When you use social media, and the person in question did so for many years without issue, you agree to a contract. You agree not to post certain types of material.
Break that contract and you will not be able to use that social platform.
That applies to everyone as citizens, irrespective of office.
Breach of contract can lead to suspension of your account without warning, but in this case warnings were given and ignored. It could be argued that you're protecting your customer by stopping possibly illegal activity.
I would be much more concerned about a president who could not control their social media posting, yet still had that big red button marked "Start WW3" on their desk.
Mike Diggins, Royal Oak.
TV channel's role
The world of Donald. J. Trump, the first US president to be impeached twice, is crumbling as he never told the truth. He defined much of the media as fake news yet was aided and abetted by a TV channel that became his "voice" during his presidential term. Fox television defended Trump during the Mueller Russian probe, continued an assault on the integrity of the 2019 presidential election result, thereby stoking the flames that culminated in the storming of the US Capitol building with dire consequences. Their role is as culpable as the President's.
The Australian owners of Fox News should hang their heads in shame.
Peter Edmondson, Tauranga.
It used to be that "whom you know" got you promoted. Now, "whom you know" gets you damned. Reports from Washington DC say that Chris Liddell's department began immediately to prepare for handover once the election results were known, and that, in all probability, his department will be the only one fully ready for handover on inauguration day. I suggest that such actions on his part are completely professional. I find it disturbing that we in New Zealand put post-modern feelings ahead of professional duty.
Gary Kendall, Rothesay Bay.
So we're potentially heading into another lockdown with the likely entry into the community of the more virulent Covid strains. Winston Peters warned Kiwi expats in March to return home before "you might not be able to return". Almost a year later they're still pouring in through our borders.
We no longer have Winston to help protect us, we're not heeding Michael Baker's advice to reduce returnee numbers, and where's Jacinda?
After "going hard and going early" looks like she's leading us down the path of Boris Johnson.
Chris Hayes, Mairangi Bay.
Auckland Transport appears to have given up on repairing, replacing and maintaining footpaths in residential areas.
The former Auckland City Council had a programme of progressively doing this, but Auckland Transport seems more interested in spending millions of dollars on cycleways, some of which are hardly used and couldn't seem to care less about about the safety and convenience of pedestrians.
I walk a lot in the Epsom, Greenlane areas where a significant number of footpaths are broken and uneven, some that people are likely to trip on and which elderly and disabled people must have difficulty negotiating particularly with walkers and mobility vehicles.
It is about time Auckland Transport and the Auckland Council focused on this core responsibility.
Ken Graham, Greenlane.
Your correspondent Vince West should probably do a little of his own research before blaming oversize SUVs for the increase in accidents.
Our population has soared since 2013 but the accident rate hasn't increased as much despite the percentage of SUVs increasing.
Modern SUVs are much safer than older vehicles and are very unlikely to roll over in anything other than extreme events.
Car insurance premiums dropped over Covid due to the reduction in traffic volume and therefore accidents.
Any vehicle driven badly is a loaded gun in the wrong hands.
It is up to the public to drive safely and for the police to remove the idiots.
Brent Murdoch, Greenlane.
Geraldine Taylor, Remuera, your letter (January 16) regarding drug checking services was disappointing and perplexing. You asked why the Government would choose to fund drug checking at festivals. Well, there is a number of reasons, principally because the typical festival reveller doesn't own an FTIR spectrometer. By the way, we're talking about tens of thousands of people every summer.
Moralising doesn't reduce drug harm, identification and destruction of substances known to cause harm does.
Colin Charan, Meadowbank.
All ratepayers levied
Tom Dillane suggests all Auckland ratepayers will be levied to pay for Auckland's decrepit sewerage and stormwater systems, which simply demonstrates how Rodney Hyde's great merger has disadvantaged those who live on the West Coast. We will be paying for something we never use and why should we when we have some of the best beaches in the world?
By putting all ratepayers into one basket we are being milked dry. It's not our sewerage or stormwater that is infecting Auckland City's beaches but we'll be paying as a result of incompetent council planning and for those who have failed to pay over many years.
It is the same as the Auckland City's rail projects. From where I live it is impossible to use public transport without a 15km drive and then it is well over an hour to get to the city. Is it any wonder it is easier, quicker and more economical to drive the entire way?
Yes, I am aware central government is paying part of this project but this comes out of taxation and while I'm more than happy to pay my share of the general roading system and for health services, there is no chance I will ever use the city rail.
I guess we're just seen as ripe for the plucking!
Rod Lyons, Muriwai.
I understand that Donald Trump is arranging a number of public events on January 20 to honour his departure from the White House.
These events are timed to coincide with some other event that is occurring in Washington involving some chap whose name gets mentioned occasionally but that I can't recall for the moment. These events are being arranged with the clear intention that they will be given priority in the American and world press to emphasise Trump's past and continuing self-importance on the world's stage as distinct from that other chap who is alleged to be fraudulently taking over the most powerful position in the world. I can only hope that the press and media will recognise their moral, political and social responsibility by not turning up to or reporting on these alternative events, thereby showing to both Trump and his followers just how unimportant and irrelevant he now is.
Gerald Payman, Mt Albert.
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Short & sweet
On Covid test
So it will be a requirement to have a negative test of Covid before boarding a plane to come here, that's good.
If you arrive here without that test you will get a small fine, that is ridiculous.
Surely a very large fine for the airline that accepted the passenger at the overseas check in would be more sensible.
Vince West, Milford.
I see border (and MIQ staff?) could be vaccinated as early as March, but that is far too complacent of the Government. They should access sufficient vaccine doses now so that the new Covid variants don't break out into the community before March. The extra cost is minimal compared to the cost of a lockdown.
Chris Marshall, Hillcrest.
Should l be shocked by the report in last weekend's sports section that the recreational use of marijuana by combatants will no longer be a worry to the UFC?
John Norris, Whangamata.
Over-priced housing is tangible evidence that our taxation system is no longer fit for purpose, and the need for a pragmatic independent Senate — not confined by any ideology.
Kenneth Lees, Whangarei.
On US elections
Memo to all American voters, current and prospective: never again elect as President anyone who cheats at golf.
Tony Potter, Remuera.