Trump's sham shamrock

The US President was at his best for St Patrick's Day. He even had a version of his "Make America Great" cap manufactured in green and adorned with an Irish shamrock. They went on sale on his website for 50 bucks each. Only problem was ... it wasn't a shamrock. It was a four-leafed clover -- which has nothing to do with Ireland. They are, however, used by Italian car-maker Alfa Romeo as a logo on their racing cars, and by a Scottish football team, and are the subject of a song written by a bloke in New York in 1927. The caps were subsequently withdrawn from the President's website.

Meeting with the Irish Prime Minister, Trump said, "As we stand together with our Irish friends, I'm reminded of that proverb -- and this is a good one, this is one I like. I've heard it for many, many years and I love it: 'Always remember to forget the friends that proved untrue, but never forget to remember those that have stuck by you'." Only problem is ... nobody in Ireland had ever heard that old Irish proverb. Turns out it's from a poem by a (Muslim) Nigerian bank manager.

After the Irish PM left the White House, the Creepy Tweeter's team posted a video montage of photos of the visit, complete with a lovely Irish soundtrack. Only problem is ... the "Irish" soundtrack was (badly tuned) Scottish bagpipes -- the music of Ireland's protestant invaders. The tune? Amazing Grace -- words written by an English poet and Anglican clergyman, played by an American band.


This is not fake news. It's just another case of "alternative facts" from Donald and Mickey In The White House. I can't wait for the NZ Prime Minister's next visit to the Land of the Free -- when we will no doubt learn that Kupe composed Sailing (later plagiarised by Rod Stewart) whilst competing in one of the earliest America's Cup races -- a race which was won, of course, by a yacht named Geronimo. Sadly, Kupe came second in that race, inspiring him to write that famous Maori waiata, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.


River a person?

I was always taught that there are three types of physical beings -- animal, mineral or vegetable (plants).

I'm not sure what the river is now that it is a being with a legal identity? All I know that this nonsense is going to come back to bite us.


Abortion debate

With an upcoming election, it is interesting that we are seeing the abortion debate resurfacing in the political consciousness.

While the Labour Party may have a point when they say that abortion should not be viewed as a crime, nevertheless there is an important moral issue at stake. Andrew Little has said abortion should be the free choice of the women involved. Abortion advocates have trotted out the same cliched argument for decades: "It's my body".

Yes, the body of a pregnant woman is involved, and anyone treating her medically has to have her permission. But there is another body involved -- that of the unborn child. No one asks its permission, and that is the difficulty that makes "it's my body" a meaningless argument.

Whether we like it or not, an unborn child is a human being with rights that are all too often ignored in this debate. Anyone who knows anything about foetal development knows that an unborn child is recognisable as a human being from a very early stage in its development. It is a small clump of cells for a very short time before organs start to develop.

When we realise that an unborn child is a human being, killing it becomes a problem, and we must face the fact that abortion is the killing of an unborn child. I could call it "murder", but that would introduce an emotional bias into a debate where rational, wise decisions need to be made.

It is probably obvious by now that I do not favour abortion. I believe that it should only be permitted if serious emotional trauma of the mother is likely. This would probably occur if the woman involved was pregnant as a result of rape, for example.

Serious emotional trauma should not include the fear of not being able to provide for the child. It seems that in today's world, adoption is rarely considered, even though there are plenty of childless couples who would love to adopt.

All too often babies are aborted because they are just "inconvenient".


Flood protection

It's refreshing to read a number of letters from people who have some understanding regarding flooding.

M Hughes (letters, March 6) makes some valid points regarding a commercial property owner asking for greater flood protection in Taupo Quay.

This is little different from a person who buys a badly flooded Wanganui East home then goes public, demanding increased stopbanks for his now-restored house. In other words, he wants the ratepayers to increase the value of his property.

Anzac Pde roadway and the houses coming off this road are in what was the old riverbed and flood plain. Side roads coming off Anzac Pde, you will notice, all go uphill out of the flood plain.

When I was on the regional council, I asked the local district council why were they still issuing building permits for houses in a flood plain and not implementing "managed retreat". The CEO fired straight back: "Managed retreat is not on our agenda". This showed the mindset of most of the council. It was in the too-hard basket that flood banks don't work and flooding was increasing worldwide. Palmerston North has massive 500-year stopbanks, and some of the more intelligent people are asking Horizons "What next?" Residents are complaining of the sun being blocked out of their houses and gardens and people walking along the tops of these banks looking into their homes.

Finally, I will not respond to letter-writers who don't understand the concept of flood plains and wasting money on stopbanks. There is enough information worldwide on so-called stopbanks bursting or "overtopping". Take time to study it before you burst into print. (Abridged)