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The week that was 5 November 2020

With the US election livestreaming in the background (still too close to call) our week that was covers unemployment in New Zealand, being the most ‘Islamic country in the world’, a Twitter poll gone badly wrong, the passing of a respected foreign correspondent and, because we haven’t had enough of voting, the Bird of the Year.

Unemployment grows, but falls short of worst fears

Labour market economists say Aotearoa looks likely to avoid a “labour market disaster,” even as unemployment reaches 5.3% after its sharpest ever rise.

“This is not to downplay the fact that labour market conditions are still likely to deteriorate further. And the unemployment rate is likely to remain above current levels for at least the whole of 2021. But the unmitigated disaster that was feared now seems eminently avoidable,” said BNZ Head of Research, Stephen Toplis.

Chart showing New Zealand Employment Rate by quarter since March 2005

When considering the impact of changes in participation rates it’s often helpful to look at the employment rate, rather than unemployment. Statistics NZ Data shows the employment rate is down, but only to 2016 levels.

New Zealand ranked the most 'Islamic country in the world' in annual index

New Zealand has been named the country that most fits Islamic ideals for the second year in a row, well ahead of any Muslim-majority countries. While the headline will make many blink, it’s well worth taking a moment to reflect on this article – NZ has been ranked the country that most fits Islamic ideals in the latest Islamicity poll (for the second year running). New Zealand is considered the most Islamic country, well ahead of the top-ranking Muslim majority country, the UAE at 44th. Say that again?

To paraphrase the article, speaking truth to power is a fundamental aspect of Islam, and not all Muslim-majority countries allow that. Islamicity founder, economist Hussein Askari, explains it well:

“I think my index shows which countries would look like a Muslim country that did the things that Islam says you should do,” he said.

“I’m leaving out the praying and all that kind of stuff. And if you look at that list, the Muslim countries do miserably.

“The thing they do worst at is in political and human rights. Islam is very, very clear, God gave mankind freedom. If God gave us that freedom, what right has a political dictator to take that away?”

While New Zealanders do still have some way to go on creating a financial system that aligns with Muslim values, such as not profiting from interest on mortgages, insurance and savings accounts, and our drinking culture is also a key point of difference, Jacinda Ardern’s famous “You are Us” quote seems to sum up the findings.

We also noted that as the world waited to hear who won the US presidency, Americans are already exploring their options, including a move to the Land of the Long White Cloud. Google trends have shown a massive spike in searches on "how to move to New Zealand".

Oreo Builds Doomsday Vault to Protect Its Famous Recipe

Oreo (#client) could be predicting some troubling times for the Earth as the cookie brand has just announced a Global Oreo Vault.

Located just down the road from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the announcement comes with a mockumentary-style video that follows a Norwegian architect named Markus Thorland who must design and build the vault in 30 days (it took over two years for the Svalbard Global Seed Vault). Orea says that the vault is “really real” and that a large stockpile of biscuits along with the original Oreo recipe is stored there in case of an apocalypse.

Robert Fisk, veteran Middle East correspondent of The Independent, dies aged 74

More than one Acumen team member commented on the passing this week of Robert Fisk. As The Independent in the UK says, “Fisk was renowned for his courage in questioning official narratives from governments and publishing what he uncovered in frequently brilliant prose.” He also interviewed Osama Bin Laden three times. The world of journalism has lost a fine writer and informed commentator.

Shell goes into meltdown with its climate change poll

Last week we commented that some retweets are better left in the draft. This week we learned that some Twitter polls are better left there too.

A climate poll on Twitter posted by Shell backfired spectacularly, with the oil company accused of gaslighting the public. Though it received a modest 199 votes the poll that asked “What are you willing to change to help reduce emissions?” still went viral – but not for the reasons the company would have hoped. The US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was one high-profile respondent, posting a tweet that was liked 350,000 times. 

Xbox Coolly Responds To Memes By Releasing An Actual Series X Fridge

When Microsoft (#client) dropped the Xbox Series X, it knew the design wasn’t going to appeal to all gamers and simply embraced the memes. It was so chill, it created a meme based on comparisons between the console and a refrigerator. So chill, it took the cold joke even further and built a full-fledged Series X Fridge. The six-foot appliance is a scaled replica of the original, complete with an Xbox icon that lights up when it’s plugged in.

Harley-Davidson goes electric

You know it is more than a fad when Harley-Davidson make an e-bike. Named after the earliest known Harley built in 1903 and nicknamed "Serial Number One", the Serial 1's white tires, black frame, and leather sprung seat are all references to the original. Serial has been spun off from Harley itself solely as an electric bike company and plans to start production in March 2021.

Bird of the Year is back!

Just in case an election and two referenda weren't enough, it's back! Forest & Bird’s Bird of the Year gives you another chance to vote and in the words of Forest & Bird it is an opportunity “to you give your favourite bird a voice”. Not that the tūī around our house need any help.