Rubio channels JFK, Obama’s trade agenda stalls, and the unending Iraq war: US national blog round up for 6 – 12 June

President Obama, the Democratic Party, and the GOP 

This month is crucial for President Obama, writes Wonkblog, who preview three of the White House’s most important projects: the House’s expected vote on the president’s trade agenda, the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare, and the deadline for an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program. Delving into the Supreme Court and Obamacare, The Atlantic wonders on Wednesday if the President is trying to sway the Court, after he made comments that there is no reason why Obamacare’s federal exchanges should be overturned in the courts, and that the case should not have even been taken up.

The Daily Signal this week examines what they say is the ‘real trouble’ with Obama’s rhetoric. They argue that the President is better suited to fighting abstractions such as climate change than more specific threats such as ISIS in the Middle East.

Hit & Run is critical of a planned change by the Obama administration to which American workers are eligible for overtime pay. They say that by increasing the current $23,660 threshold to $52,000, the government is aiming to boost incomes, but might actually end up lowering employment.  Still on the subject of jobs, Perrspectives writes on Monday that Obama has actually created six times more jobs than President George W. Bush did.

Moving over to the Republican Party, Outside the Beltway looks at the slow trend that is seeing the GOP become less socially conservative. 

Elections and the road to 2016 

Looking at the general GOP side of the presidential horse race, United Liberty says that if the party is to be beat former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton (the Democrats’ likely nominee), then it needs to nominate someone reasonable, avoid the temptation to go negative, and ‘radiate youthfulness and vigor’. Clinton already has the GOP’s field of candidates in a difficult spot – Americablog comments that they have tried and failed to respond to her call last week for 20 days of nationwide early voting and automatic voter registration. FiveThirtyEight, meanwhile, looks at what Fox News isn’t saying about its upcoming GOP debate, and what determines which ten GOP candidates will be participating. Looking at some of those candidates more closely:

  • Florida Senator Marco Rubio Credit: Gage Skidmore (Flickr, CC-BY-SA-2.0)

    Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker won’t rule out another Iraq invasion (Crooks & Liars).

  • Florida Senator Marco Rubio is channeling the rhetorical style of JFK (National Journal)…
  • …even though he’s terrible with money (Get There).
  • Former Senator, Rick Santorum had a *small* meeting in Iowa this week (FreakOutNation).
  • Former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, kicked off a European tour this week (The Atlantic)…
  • …while his ‘non-existent’ campaign has had a few hiccups (Wonkblog)…
  • …and may be panicking after discovering he is not liked by voters (Hit & Run).
  • Is New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, stealing from former presidential candidate, John McCain’s playbook (National Journal)?

Just at the GOP is looking at ways to beat Hillary Clinton, Political Animal looks at how the Democrats can win in 2016 – by staking out a variety of progressive issue positions that have broad support, and embracing these ideas that makes Republican counter spin unresponsive. Looking at the Democrats’ candidates more closely:

  • This week Clinton endorsed the fight for higher minimum wages and expressed solidarity for those who are pushing for it to rise to $15 nationally (Wonkblog).
  • Clinton shouldn’t worry too much about running a nationally unifying campaign, and should not try and target undecided voters, despite what some are saying (Crooks & Liars).
  • Americablog looks at why Clinton and her husband have been such magnets for scandals in recent years.
  • Townhall reckons that Clinton has a plan to ‘stuff the ballot box’ in 2016 by giving felons and non-citizens along with those who can’t prove their identities the vote.
  • Moving on to someone who isn’t a Clinton, The Democratic Truth reports that Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders has won 41 percent support in a straw poll of Wisconsin Democrats. 

Government, the Beltway and Congress’ agenda 

On Monday, The Atlantic covers the story that the FBI has been able to create a ‘small air force’ of surveillance planes in recent years. The planes have been carrying out both video and cell phone surveillance. They say that House members have been frustrated at the lack of transparency over the practices given that the president has recently signed a bill rolling back the bulk collection of phone records by the National Security Agency.

In 2012, the U.S, territory of Puerto Rico held a referendum where 44 percent of voters supported statehood. The Hill’s Congress blog looks at the historic inability of Puerto Rico’s statehood movement to gain an absolute majority.

Credit: Adam Fagen (Flickr, CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0)

This week saw an important decision from the Supreme Court – it held that Congress could not require the State Department to designate ‘Israel’ as the place of birth for U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem. The Volokh Conspiracy says that the decision is a win for the executive branch as its view has trumped that of Congress.

The 2016 campaign has already been fraught with accusations of campaign finance violations as undeclared but active candidates coordinate closely with their SuperPACs. Americablog reports Wednesday that the Chair of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Ann Ravel has filed a petition with the FEC to request that it enforces campaign finance regulations.

Moving on to the Senate, Daily Kos writes this week that Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused a Democratic request for a budget summit – which creates a fiscal standoff over the sequester spending limits set by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

On Friday the House was due to vote on whether or not to give President Obama trade promotion authority – which he would then use to push through the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Hit & Run says that on the eve of the vote, the politics remain twisted, and that the House has approved the rules for debate, with eight Democrats joining the Republicans in voting for the measure. While the House did pass the trade promotion measure, it rejected an associated Trade Adjustment Assistance bill which would provide assistance for workers displaced by trade, says The Daily Signal. Since both bills must be passed to match up with the Senate’s version, President Obama’s trade agenda is now in limbo.

Foreign policy, defense and trade

For anyone who is worried about the U.S. ability to project its military power across the world, Outside the Beltway has two maps – one which shows which countries have American military bases, and one which shows where there are Chinese bases. Last week saw a massive hacking attack on the Office of Personnel Management, something that most officials suggest originated in China. The American Interest writes that the effects of the hack could be ‘exponential’ with the personal details of government employees stationed overseas potentially having been compromised.

On Sunday, The Daily Signal has an assessment of the future of the U.S.-UK special relationship, given the UK’s increasingly close, but fraught, relationship with the EU. They comment that because the U.S. is so friendly to the UK, the fate of the relationship rests with the UK.

This week also saw the Obama administration decide to send up to 500 additional troops to Iraq to train local forces to fight against ISIS. Hit & Run says that given that Congress’ 2002 authorization for the use of military force in Iraq has never been revoked, and that the U.S. didn’t pull out of the country entirely in 2011, the Iraq war never really ended. American Thinker meanwhile looks at the ‘strategic fog’ that has plagued U.S. politicians and generals since the end of the Cold War. They say that the country’s slow slide into strategic confusion probably began with the end of universal conscription and the beginning of an all-volunteer military.

Obamacare and health policy 

In the next few weeks, the Supreme Court will announce its decision in the King v. Burwell case, which revolves whether or not the 2010 Affordable Care Act allows for tax credits for those who obtain health insurance from federal Obamacare exchanges. Red State writes Saturday that we should not cry for large health insurance companies if the Supreme Court rules against federal Obamacare subsidies. They say that health insurance companies have done very well out of Obamacare, and just as the government can give, it can also take away. On Wednesday, Crooks & Liars argues that the supreme irony of King v. Burwell is that not only will red states be the hardest hit if the subsidies are thrown out, but that it is the blue states which have been picking up most of the tab for them. The Daily Signal, meanwhile says that new data for 34 states shows that if Congress eliminated three costly Obamacare regulations, then premiums could drop by hundreds for those who have never gotten subsidies under Obamacare. No matter what, Daily Kos says, a majority of Americans want the Supreme Court to save the federal subsidies.

Credit: Will O'Neill (Flickr, CC-BY-2.0)

On Monday, Hit & Run looks at whether the ‘medical socialism’ of Obamacare is working. They say that many health insurance companies who sell coverage through the exchanges are requesting premium increases for 2016 of over 50 percent, with these likely to be a prelude to much larger increases in the future. Speaking of high costs, The Atlantic has a piece on hospitals that overcharge their patients by over 1,000 percent more than what the federal government thinks that the procedures should cost.

The economy and society

Why do people often lack trust in their government? Political Animal explores the roots of mistrust in government this week, something they say is especially a problem for Democrats. They say that a great deal of why people don’t trust government is down to the GOP’s strategy of sabotaging government’s reputation from the 1980s onward.

This week the news was dominated by coverage of the police’s use of excessive force in breaking up a pool party in McKinney, Texas, with a white officer using obscenities and force against young blacks. The Atlantic uses this as a springboard to discuss the racial history of U.S. swimming pools, which were frequently battlegrounds for desegregation in the 1950s.

The shale extraction revolution has led to plunging oil prices in the U.S. and elsewhere. Liberty Street Economics looks at whether cheaper oil has been good or bad news for the U.S. economy. They conclude that lower prices have had a modest stimulatory impact on the economy, but that these effects will have mostly dissipated by early next year. Staying on the oil industry, PoliticusUSA reveals on Tuesday that it benefits from more than $5 trillion in subsidies annually across the world. While low oil prices might be helping the economy, growth overall has been disappointing, at least according to Roll Call. They say that relatively high taxes are forcing companies to move their economic activity offshore, which in turn affects growth and jobs. Not only is U.S. economic performance lacklustre, employees are getting less done, writes Wonkblog. They say that recent solid job growth may only reflect that employers are hiring more staff because their workers are less productive and more are needed.

And finally… 

This week Republicans in the House of Representatives tried to gut the Migratory Bird Treaty Act which protects bald eagles among other important birds, reports Crooks & Liars. 

In the first three months of the year, a record 1,336 Americans renounced their citizenship, a record high, says The Lonely Conservative. 

Wonkblog looks at the difference between twitter in the Beltway and twitter everywhere else.

Featured image credit: The White House

Please read our comments policy before commenting.

Note:  This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of USApp– American Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics.

Nine Out of 10 Retailers are Pleased With Their E-Commerce Software

If it’s true that keeping loyal customers is less expensive than finding new ones, then providers of e-commerce software are in a good place. A survey of more than 100 software buyers from wide range of Internet sellers conducted by Capterra, a business software review site, found 89% of them satisfied with the platforms powering their Web businesses.

More than a third of retailers surveyed have been using their current platforms for the past two to five years, and cost of the software was fourth on their list of considerations after functionality, ease of use, and supplier reputation. Sixty-four percent of those surveyed say they’ve never switched software platforms. The stability of the e-com software marketplace is most likely due to the fact that Internet retailing is a relatively new phenomenon.

“For retailers with Web storefronts, it can be intimidating to switch. E-com software wasn’t really mainstream until 2007; then the recession hit, so there were a lot of stores that came online in 2009,” says Cara Wood, an e-commerce software specialist for Capterra, which follows some 300 different software categories.

The software programs also tend to be self-categorized by business size. IBM Websphere is far and away the choice of larger enterprises. It’s used by half of companies in the $750 million to $1 billion revenue range and a third of those doing more than $1 billion in sales. Shopify, which helps newbies set up and design commerce sites in a day for fees as low as $300 a year, has 32% of the business of operations doing less than $1 million in sales. The third leading supplier, Big Commerce, is heralded for site optimization and has a strong presence across companies of all sizes.

An odd non-result of Capterra’s survey is that no one mentioned using Magento, long a fixture on the e-commerce SaaS scene. “That surprised me, too,” Wood says. “Magento is an open platform and harder to use. Those surveyed were mostly using hosted platforms.”

Blogging is the most used feature of software that the survey respondents use, with 97% saying they were active bloggers. The next most popular features were social buying programs and drag-and-drop editing systems.

The least-used feature was live chat. A third of respondents said they never used it at all. “It’s shocking that 33 percent of people aren’t using that feature, because it’s known to have an incredible ROI,” Wood says. “Realistically, though, live chat requires manpower, and some Internet retail companies don’t have a lot of people.”

5 Ways to Increase API Adoption


Is your API an extra feature that you’re offering or is it the true added value of your product or service? Does it help develop a strategic partnership or attract new customers? What problem does your API solve?

When looking to increase the adoption rate of your application programming interface, or API, these are certainly a few of the questions you should be asking. While APIs and the developers who use them may be working in a unique and different language from the rest of the business world, there’s no doubt that the formula used to grow the popularity, fan base and brand advocates behind a consumer product is the same when applied to the API economy.

Inspired by the talk given by ex-ProgrammableWeb editor and CenturyLink Cloud developer content lead Adam DuVander at the 2014 APIcon UK, this piece looks to offer you the tried-and-true principles of marketing, sales, customer service and brand advocacy that come together as a sure-fire way to increase your API adoption.

How to Partner Your API

Why do all the work yourself? Creating strategic business development partnerships is a logical way to grow your API adoption. As with all steps for building stellar API attraction, start by thinking about your customers. What do they need? Where does your API fall into their workflow? What languages are they using? Your objective is to find potential partnerships where your customers are, but where your competitors aren’t. Or in cases like, perhaps where both your customers and your competitors are.

The objective is to find strategic business partners with a similar customer base that can add value to your current customers while you add value to theirs. Everything in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) and mobile app space is moving toward the streamlined, build-your-own experience. The API must be the driving force in that seamless world.

According to FreshBooks small-business accounting software, “We find that if our customers use any single integration, they are three times as likely to convert to paid” from the freemium account. With customers reticent to let go of that seamless experience once they have it, it’s no wonder that creating a partner ecosystem exponentially increases product stickiness.

FreshBooks has taken this concept even further as a founding member of the Small Business Web. This is essentially a consortium of software businesses with a shared target audience and an agreement to work together toward a customer-service-oriented open Web.

The Small Business Web looks to create interoperability among its members as much as possible, but, like many clever strategic partnerships, it doesn’t stop there. While constantly thinking about the customers they have in common, they can work on co-marketing, co-branding and even partner sales campaigns that pull together their search engine optimization and financial resources.

DuVander also points to the AccuWeather website as a great example in API partnerships: “ said that their approach to API is partner-first, not ecosystem-first. [Asking] who can benefit from the API they have, instead of being widely available and hoping that bubbles up.” He said a partner strategy is about targeting key players, not casting your net wide in an expensive and risky manner.

How to Sell Your API

Whether you want to or not, you have to pimp that API to your target developer audience. But don’t worry, sales hasn’t changed in two millennia. Always start your sales process — and your design process, for that matter — by asking what your user needs. This is commonly known as selling benefits over features. Then you tailor your sales pitch to position your benefits as a solution to those needs. This is particularly challenging when you have so many great new features you’re dying to show off. But developers don’t care about those shiny new baubles unless they’re presented as a solution to something they or their businesses are lacking.

But sales doesn’t stop there. In API sales it certainly works to offer a test drive. DuVander recommends mimicking the SaaS marketplace with one of its three pricing models:

  • Pay as you go, pay as you grow
  • A tiered payment structure based on volume
  • Freemium

The freemium model is a great way to offer a taste of your product without giving away all the milk for free. When done right, with full customer service, giving users a peek with freemium opens the window for an upsell.

In the IT world, sales is really customer support and customer support is sales. No matter which API sales model you choose, the first couple days of use are essential. From fantastic documentation to responsive tech support online and on social media to intuitive tutorials, onboarding during those first few days should be your utmost priority to close a long-term customer relationship.

How to Market Your API

AdWords is definitely one way to go about promoting your API. With its measurable focus on analytics, it certainly attracts the developer who doesn’t fancy himself or herself a marketeer. But API marketing has to be much more than that. API marketing is building your authority through thought leadership.

Again, you want to help your target audience to understand a problem by focusing on marketing benefits instead of features. “As API providers, we don’t have to go with the boring announcement, but we can go with an approach that actually solves the problem, sharing knowledge, not sharing features,” DuVander said. “Don’t tell someone that this particular thing is announced. Instead, explain what it means to them. Explain how they can use it.”

Of course, in the API world, documentation is actually part of the marketing to developers because that’s where they’re going see how to integrate.

In fact, a survey that ranked what developers thought were the most important factors in choosing an API unveiled these top priorities:

  1. Complete and accurate documentation
  2. Service availability and uptime
  3. Service responsiveness and performance
  4. API or documentation changelog

Graph of important factors when choosing an API

Slide from Adam DuVander’s presentation Top 5 Ways to Increase API Adoption

Making your documentation accurate, public and easily found on your website is a good way to market your API as reliable and conscientious from first click.

Similarly, augment that solid documentation with tutorials and sample apps to help steer developers in the right direction. “Not only show them what’s possible, but show them how to do it using your API,” recommended DuVander, with client libraries and software development kits “built and language-ready in a popular language that the developer already uses,” empowering them to plug right in to your API.

“You can also help your marketing department to speak ‘developer,’ and part of that is making sure your documentation is great and accessible,” DuVander said.

How to Build a Community Around Your API

Don’t forget that your company culture can sell your API just as much as the code behind it. Lure customers in by creating a culture of utter transparency like Buffer, blogging about not only what you’re trying to sell but the sense of community you’re trying to build.

Of course, building a community online and offline is often the most fulfilling step toward increasing your API adoption. This doesn’t mean vomiting everywhere how awesome your API is; it means talking about the problems your API looks to solve on multiple platforms. It means participating in existing online communities like Stack Overflow and Hacker News and creating your own like with a topical LinkedIn group.

And building a community around your API, of course, means still going to events, MeetUps and hackathons — you know, actually being a visible part of the developer community. And while you’re there, make sure your presence is known by constantly taking photos, tagging the people you meet and using the event hashtag or handle to show your support and be memorable. Plus, it’s simply the best way to grow that social following and influence.

How to Open Your API Up

You don’t need to make your API open source on GitHub. That is one way of getting some free press and certainly to appeal to open source zealots, but it’s not a business model that works for everyone.

DuVander advised “open sourcing all you can without your own service.” He said definitely open source your client libraries and probably your documentation. If you are so bold as to go the open source route, he said that if you “open source your secret sauce” then make sure you explain how to use it. It’s important that if you’re going open source that you’re still driving the narrative around your API.

You can also take the route of integrating with other open source services like WordPress and e-commerce plug-ins and add-ons.

No matter what you do, keep in mind that you are working to do good for your current customer base. “You want to be helping those that already use your service, helping them solve a specific problem,” DuVander concluded.

What’s the Right Formula to Increase API Adoption?

Most API teams have the principle of building an API audience ecosystem first. This means being active at hackathons and maybe posting on Hacker News and paying for some AdWords campaigns. We’re not saying you should reinvent the wheel. These go-to resources are also good places to be, but they’ll only get you so far.

By combining your usual API ecosystem tactics with the ones we’ve just offered, you not only attract the right developer audience, you attract brand advocates and long-term customer relationships.

So what is the perfect formula for success? If you’re focusing on how your API is a solution to your target audience’s need, you really can’t go wrong. Then, by finding the right combination of your own ecosystem, your partner ecosystem, marketing, sales, open source and contribution to the greater developer community as a whole, you will find the right combination for your own API adoption success.

The Fantastic Four Movie News: New Trailer

We have everything you need to know about the new Fantastic Four reboot, from trailers to photos to character details, right here.

Can you believe that in the fifty plus year history of the Fantastic Four that nobody has managed to really get it right on the big screen? That is, of course, unless you count The Incredibles, which nailed the spirit of the FF in ways that none of the movies that actually bore their name managed to do. The first attempt was the unfortunate, never-released (unless you’re into the bootleg scene) Roger Corman produced version, then there were Fox’s two big-budget endeavors, Fantastic Four (of course) and Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer. The latter two, while they were met with a reasonable amount of box-office success, failed to really inspire audiences, and the franchise just sort of faded away.

But if 20th Century Fox has proven anything in the last few years, it’s that they know how to keep their cash cows on life support. Did anyone ever imagine that the X-Men franchise would get back on track after the critical disasters that were X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine or the relative commercial dud that was X-Men: First Class? But here we are, not only still enjoying X-Men: Days of Future Past, but anxiously anticipating X-Men: Apocalypse.

Fox recruited Josh Trank, the director of the generally well regarded found footage superhero film Chronicle (and the future director of a Star Wars spinoff movie) to helm the Fantastic Four reboot. With a screenplay by Simon Kinberg (he of both X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse), things looked bright. But somewhere along the line, things appeared to get…weird.

Fans derided the project’s secrecy, and now are deriding what’s been put out in the open. Let’s have a look at all the details, and then you can make up your minds…

Latest News

There’s a new TV spot for the Fantastic Four movie, and it shows off lots of powers…and even a little bit of a sense of humor!

What Makes WordPress the Best Platform for SEO?

With its core installation, open source plugins, theme developers, and ease of use, there's no doubt that WordPress will continue to be the dominant CMS.

WordPress sure has a come a long way since it’s initial release in 2003, hasn’t it? What started out as a simple blogging tool has become arguably the leading content management system in the world.

In fact, WordPress is now used by 23.8% of all websites in the world.

Sites powered by WordPress include brands ranging from NASA, CNN, Forbes, The New York Times, TechCrunch, IZOD, Best Buy, GM, eBay, and even Jay Z’s, to name just a few. Even Google’s Matt Cutts is a fan of WordPress, calling it “a fantastic piece of software.”


If you’re a WordPress user, it’s easy to realize why WordPress is such a powerful platform. It’s easy to use, it’s free, and has more than enough plugins/add-ons to help customize your site or blog to fit your needs.

That’s not to say that other content management systems – such as Joomla or Drupal – aren’t worthy options, it’s just that WordPress is pretty exceptional, especially when it comes to SEO.

Whether you’ve used WordPress in the past, or want to start using it for your business or personal blog, here’s a breakdown of why WordPress is the absolute best platform to use as the foundation of your SEO success story.

Optimized Websites in 5 Minutes or One Click

Creating a website can be a daunting task if you’re new to the development world. A decade ago finding a complex content management system that could handle all of the many tasks that WordPress can offer would have cost you an arm and a leg to get started with, and that’s before even trying to figure out how to use it.

First and foremost, WordPress is free to download. With a little help from the famous “5-Minute Install” method, you only need to be a little tech-savvy to get WordPress up and running on a typical hosting provider. Unzip, fill out the WP-Config file (you’ll need to set up a database first which is also as easy as point-and-click), upload the files, and you should be good to go.

Even over the last few years, most major web hosting providers have dumbed this process down even further by offering a one-click installation. That’s right – you just sign up for hosting, login, click one button, and you can start the process right in your browser. No touching any of the core PHP files!

Open Source Customization

Another important factor is that WordPress is open-source. This is the real reason that WordPress is such a powerful CMS – any developer in the world can create a theme or plugin (more on this soon!) and contribute it to the WordPress community.

Looking for a well-designed theme that’s also designed with current SEO standards? There are literally thousands of them to choose from (both free and paid).

Need your WordPress site to perform a specific SEO function? There are thousands of those, too. The capabilities of your WordPress site are nearly endless, and it’s all because of the open source nature of the community. This allows you to easily update your site to stay on top of Google’s suggested best practices, instead of an alternative proprietary CMS which may take months or years playing catch up.

Basic SEO Out-of-the-Box

One of the many reasons why WordPress is often chosen over its competition is because of its ability to manage on-page SEO fairly well out of the box. We could argue that SEO is a complex practice consisting of hundreds of factors, but at the end of the day a simple WordPress installation will allow you to easily manage the basics without any coding knowledge whatsoever.


After installation, the first thing you’ll want to do is head over to the settings tab and click the drop-down menu, where you’ll find a section called “Permalinks”. There you’ll find the default permalink setting which displays URLs based on a few odd characters and numbers (grabbing the id number of the database entry where your page or post is being stored).

Below you’ll find several other options, the most preferred being the “post name” option (for most installations this is the best option). That’s all you have to do to make sure your URL structure is going to be optimized, with the ability to customize the actual words once you starting editing a blog post or page.

Title Tags & Headings

This takes us to the next set of basic SEO needs, found in the content editor. Once you’re ready to add content, simply head over to “add page/post”, and begin adding your content. First you’ll want to add the title, which typically is coded as an H1 or H2 tag depending on the theme you’re using, which will also act as your web page’s title tag. Under that, you’ll see your URL structure, which again, is easily editable without having to touch a line of code.

Optimized Content

Next, you have the actual content area, where the Visual Rich Text editor allows you to bold and underline words, hyperlink to other internal or external web pages, add additional heading tags, upload images (where you can add image alt tags), but more importantly as a whole, ADD CONTENT, which will easily be crawlable by search engine spiders. All those basic SEO elements are built right in to any default WordPress installation.

Site Speed

Earlier we mentioned using alternative paid or proprietary platforms could be a detriment to your SEO needs, and addressing site speed is a great example of how you could run into such a problem. Over the last few years Google has been making it very well-known that it’s taking your website’s load times as an important factor in your on-page optimization.

What happens when your old, out-dated CMS doesn’t hold up to the big G’s standards?

That’s not a problem with WordPress out-of-the box. A basic installation and standard themes load quickly and efficiently. Now, it is true that the user can slow a site own depending on what types of content they add or what themes they pick (for example, loading web pages with tons of videos or using themes that are image heavy, having too many scripts running on one page, etc), but luckily there are plenty of plugins like Autoptimze and WP Super Cache (as well as other actions you can take) to keep your sites zooming along.

Mobile Optimization

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the last few months, you know in April Google set a deadline for websites to have some sort of mobile optimization in place. That’s right, Google flat-out told the world that if your website wasn’t optimized for smartphones or tablets (in other words, using a responsive design that made the experience of your website better for mobile users), there was a strong possibility that your website would lose high placements for mobile searches.

As with any announcement of this nature, everyone started to freak out, with the exception of most WordPress users. So why weren’t they feeling the heat?

That’s because for most simple WordPress websites, all they had to do was install the popular Jetpack plugin and in just a few minutes were able to comply with Google’s mobile website standards. On the other side of the fence are those WordPress sites using premium, paid themes from marketplaces like Envato, and those users surely weren’t scared because the premium theme marketplace has been cranking out themes that already have built-in responsive capabilities for years! This is perhaps one of the greatest arguments for why WordPress simply is an SEO’s dream come true.

The Versatility of Themes and Plugins

Many times when others argue about their favorite CMS (usually die-hard fanboys of a specific platform arguing their point to a WordPress user), they argue that their CMS is just as customizable as the next. That’s great if you’re a seasoned developer, but for us who want to focus on our SEO skills, we need something easy to develop at the drop of a hat.

Luckily, with thousands of WordPress developers out there, there is a ridiculous number of options to customize your WordPress site, and usually there is a theme or plugin already out there for any feature you can dream up.

Optimized Themes for Any Kind of Website

First, let’s talk about WordPress themes. We’ve already mentioned the basic “twenty” themes that come pre-installed with WordPress, and those are great if you’re just looking to get some optimized blog content out on the web. But what if you’re looking to build something more?

Many people today think WordPress is only good for blogging, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

You can build any kind of website with WordPress, and you can find a theme that completely transforms your installation and allows you to build it – and do so well for optimized for search! Want to build an optimized E-commerce site? No problem. Directory site? That’s easy. Forums, social networks, the list goes on and on.

Did We Mention Plugins?

So we’ve mentioned it a bagillion times so far, but we need to discuss the concept of plugins once and for all to really drive home what makes WordPress so great. Advanced users who started reading this article were probably laughing when we discussed title tags and hyperlinks as reasons why WordPress is such a great CMS for SEO, knowing very well that in your experience, it takes much more to get WordPress SEO just right.

And that’s exactly the point – WordPress isn’t only this super-sophisticated platform that only SEO rockstars can use to rank for highly competitive keywords. The basics could be all a blog needs if what they’re discussing is long tail enough, which is a very powerful thing.

Giving anyone the ability to create a blog with the basics may be all the SEO they need if it were to say, go viral and get tons of highly authoritative links and social signals!

Yet not all of us will get so lucky, and in order to fight the good fight, we need every optimization technique in place. Luckily for us ,the SEO gods have granted us a wealth of plugins to use to our advantage – many of which are free.

There’s the obvious Yoast SEO plugin that allows us to optimize really technical stuff like our Robots.txt file, canonicalization issues, XML sitemaps – stuff a non-developer couldn’t even begin to understand. Then there’s tools like the Broken Link Checker, Redirection plugins, SEO tool widget plugins – really, the list of awesome SEO plugins that you can use to supercharge your SEO is endless.

The point is, whatever your specific SEO plugin needs are, either now or in the future, the WordPress community has your back.


Over the last decade WordPress has taken over the web development world as the platform of choice for many designers, developers, and SEO professionals. With its core installation, its community of open-source plugin and theme developers, and the ease of use for non-programmers, there is no doubt that WordPress will continue to be the dominant CMS in the SEO community for many decades to come.

If you’re a WordPress user, are there any additional reasons we forgot to mention that make WordPress the best platform for SEO?

ETF Preview: ETFs, Futures Weaken Following Producer Price Data; Consumer Sentiment Data Still Ahead

Active broad-market exchange-traded funds in Friday’s pre-market session:

Broad-Market Indicators

Most broad-market exchange-traded funds, including SPY, IWM, IVV and others, were weaker. Actively traded PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) was down 0.6%.

U.S. stock futures were pointing to opening Friday’s regular session in negative territory, following a report that U.S. producer prices prices rose a seasonally adjusted 0.5% in May, matching expectations. The rise was driven by a sharp increase in the wholesale cost of gasoline and other fuels. Excluding food, energy and trade, core prices fell 0.1%. The price of goods rose 1.3%, while services were unchanged.

Still ahead, the University of Michigan will report its consumer-sentiment survey for June at 10 am ET.

Power Play: Consumer

Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP) was down 0.1% while iShares Dow Jones US Consumer Goods (IYK) and Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF (VDC) were inactive.

Consumer Discretionary SPDR (XLY), SPDR S&P Retail (XRT), PowerShares Dynamic Retail (PMR) and Market Vectors Retail ETF (RTH) were flat.

Leapfrog Enterprises (LF) was down 17.9% after it reported late Thursday Q4 sales of $33.9 million, down 40% from year ago levels of $56.9 million and below the analyst consensus of $48.3 million on Capital IQ. Net loss for Q4 was $76.2 million, or $1.08 per basic and diluted share, compared to net loss of $11.8 million, or $0.17 per basic and diluted share, in the prior year period. Non-GAAP loss was $0.56 per share, vs. a year ago loss of $0.17 per share and expectations of a loss of $0.21 per share. The company expects FY 2016 sales to “contract considerably relative to the prior year, and operating losses for fiscal year 2016 to be similar to or greater than fiscal year 2015 losses, excluding goodwill and long-lived asset impairments.”

Winners and Losers


Select Financial Sector SPDRs

was down 0.2%. Daily Financial Bull 3X shares (FAS) was up 0.1% and its bearish counterpart, FAZ, was up 1.1%.

BlackRock (BLK) said Friday that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Infraestructura Institucional, an independently managed, infrastructure investment firm in Mexico. The acquisition expands BlackRock’s infrastructure capabilities in Mexico and deepening its presence in the country. The agreement builds upon BlackRock’s existing $6 billion global infrastructure platform and strengthens the firm’s long-standing Mexico business. The financial impact of the transaction is not material to BlackRock earnings per share. Terms were not disclosed.


Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) , iShares Dow Jones US Technology ETF (IYW), iShares S&P North American Technology ETF (IGM) and iShares S&P North American Technology-Software Index (IGV) were inactive. SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (IPK) was also unchanged.

Semiconductor ETFs SPDR S&P Semiconductor (XSD) and Semiconductor Sector Index Fund (SOXX) were flat in pre-market trading .

Twitter Inc. (


) was up 3% after the micro blogging company announced after-hours Thursday that CEO Dick Costolo will step down from his role effective July 1 and will be succeeded by co-founder and chairman Jack Dorsey on an interim basis. Previously, Dorsey served as Twitter’s president and CEO from May 2007 to October 2008. The company said it will conduct a search to look for a permanent CEO. Costolo will continue to serve on Twitter’s board and Dorsey will also continue to serve as CEO of payments company Square.

In addition, the company reaffirmed its outlook for Q2, with revenues expected between $470 million and $485 million and adjusted EBITDA of $97 million to $102 million. Analysts are expecting Q2 sales of $481.5 million.


Dow Jones U.S. Energy Fund (IYE) was flat while Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) was up 0.1%.

Basic Energy Services (BAS) said it now expects Q2 revenue to be approximately 22% to 24% lower sequentially, worse than its original forecast on April 24 of down 10% to 15%. The company said the worse outlook is due to drilling rig count decreases, pricing competition being greater than anticipated and unprecedented adverse weather conditions. It estimates approximately 40% of this change in revenue projection is due to weather impact that occurred subsequent to its Q1 earnings call. It said May well servicing rig count remained unchanged at 421. Well servicing rig hours were 48,200, producing a rig utilization rate of 50%, compared to 50% and 70% in April 2015 and May 2014, respectively. It said its fluid service truck count decreased by two to 1,006. Fluid service truck hours for the month were 189,900 compared to 190,600 and 213,400 in April 2015 and May 2014, respectively. Drilling rig days for the month were 96 producing a rig utilization of 26%, compared to 34% and 89% in April 2015 and May 2014, respectively.


Crude was down 1.3%. United States Oil Fund (USO) was down 1.1%. Natural gas futures were up 2%. United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) was down 1.2%.

Gold was up 0.8% while and silver was up 0.9%. Among rare metal funds, SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was down 0.03% while Shares Silver Trust (SLV) was down 0.5%.

Health Care

Health Care SPDR (XLV), Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) and iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare (IYH) were flat. Biotechnology fund iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) was down 0.5%.

AVEO Pharmaceuticals (AVEO) tumbled 16% after the biopharmaceutical company said late Thursday that it received a written response from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the company’s questions regarding a proposed pivotal phase 3 trial of tivozanib in colorectal cancer (CRC), stating that “insufficient data exists to determine the appropriateness of this [NRP-1 low] subgroup” for the proposed study. Tivozanib is an oral, potent, selective inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) with a long half-life and activity against all three VEGF receptors. The FDA also recommended that the company continue work on the development of its biomarker assay to address variability between assays presented.

The company said that the FDA’s response was consistent with its current clinical strategy and discussions with cancer research cooperative groups. AVEO plans to evaluate options to confirm the activity of tivozanib and FOLFOX in NRP-1 low CRC through a prospectively defined, randomized Phase 2 study, while continuing to work on the development of a commercially viable assay.

Sony RX10 II, RX100 IV and A7R II announced, view our previous live blog from the press conference

At a press conference in New York, Sony recently announced three new cameras, the Sony RX10 II, Sony RX100 IV and Sony A7R II. We were there, blogging live from the press conference, so follow along below for the events as they unfolded.

Keen to know more? We’ve just published our Sony A7R II preview, as well as our Sony RX100 IV preview and Sony RX10 II preview, giving you hot-off-the-presses insights into both models. (We’re putting the finishing touches on our Sony RX10 II preview as we speak. Update: posted.) If you’d like to find out where these new models stand against their rivals, check out our comparisons at the links below:

  • Sony RX100 IV comparisons
    • Sony RX100 IV vs Sony RX100 III
    • Sony RX100 IV vs Canon G7X
    • Sony RX100 IV vs Panasonic LX100
    • Sony RX100 IV vs Sony RX10 II
  • Sony RX10 II comparisons
    • Sony RX10 II vs Sony RX10
    • Sony RX10 II vs Panasonic FZ1000
    • Sony RX10 II vs Panasonic LX100
  • Sony A7R II comparisons
    • Sony A7R II vs Sony A7R
    • Sony A7R II vs Olympus E-M1
    • Sony A7R II vs Panasonic GH4
    • Sony A7R II vs Fujifilm X-T1
    • Sony A7R II vs Nikon D750
    • Sony A7R II vs Canon 5DS R

Now, without any further ado, let’s hit the press conference:

1:11PM ET: Mike Fasulo, President and COO of Sony Electronics, is on stage and introducing three new products. We’ll be seeing photos shot using the new cameras by Pulitzer prize-winner Brian Smith shortly.

1:14PM ET: As we all know, the still camera market is on a downward trend, but Sony tells us its premium compact and interchangable-lens market share are still growing.

1:15PM ET: Apologies for the slow start, we’re a bit new to this live blogging thing, and our software wasn’t designed with it in mind. 🙂

For its new products, Sony has a brand-new 1.0″-type stacked CMOS image sensor with DRAM chip, said to be a world’s first!

1:19PM ET: Zounds, that’s impressive. 35mm full-frame with 42 megapixels, 4K video support and 100K ISO sensitivity!

1:25PM ET: Here are the cameras being announced…

Sony A7R II
Sony RX10 II


Sony RX100 IV

1:29PM ET: We’re looking at the Alpha 7R, first. Very high resolution from a backside-illuminated full-frame image sensor. Don’t have to give up on sensitivity to achieve it, either.

1:33PM ET: BIONZ X image processor, no low-pass filter and the shutter mechanism is designed to reduce vibration so you can take advantage of the high resolution.

1:35PM ET: Looks like hybrid autofocus has had a pretty impressive upgrade. Five frames per second continuous shooting with autofocus and autoexposure between frames!

1:37PM ET: Five-axis image stabilization for a full-frame image sensor (!!)

1:38PM ET: Records 4K without pixel binning using a Super 35mm sensor crop!

1:40PM ET: Skipping ahead slightly (we’re having a hard time keeping up), we’ve been told that pricing is set at US$1,000 for the RX100 IV, US$1,300 for the RX10 II and US$3,200 for the A7R II.

1:41PM ET: The A7R II has an XGA OLED Tru-Finder, weather-sealed magnesium alloy body, locking mode dial and more…

1:44PM ET: A world’s first, and we can’t wait to get this baby in the lab to see how a full-frame interchangeable-lens camera with a BSI sensor performs! It wasn’t that long ago that a 1-inch BSI sensor was an impressive thing, let alone full frame!

1:46PM ET: We’re moving on to the other cameras now…

1:48PM ET: We’re returning to that interesting stacked 1.0″-type CMOS sensor with DRAM. The small text you probably can’t read identifies the pixel area, hi-speed signal processing circuit and image processing engine.

1:50PM ET: Here’s a tighter crop on that tough-to-read slide

1:51PM ET: While I’m frantically writing and throwing photos online, Production Editor Dave Pardue is going over everything with a fine-toothed comb. His summary of the Sony A7R II

The new Alpha A7R Mark II marks high resolution without the trade-offs. The BSI sensor is “reverse structured” – the heart of the A7R II, with a revised reverse layer of copper wiring delivering faster signal transfer. It houses no optical lowpass filter, utilizes the BIONZ X processor and comes with an all-new shutter unit designed to be twice as quiet as the predecessor. The A7R II can also operate with electronic shutter to avoid vibration when needed.

A newer fast-hybrid AF utilizes up to 399 focal plane PD AF points and provides wide coverage of 45% of the sensor area which is the highest of any current full frame camera. It can work with contrast AF as well, and for the first time a mirrorless camera can focus as fast as one with a mirror using SLR lenses.

The A7R II claims dramatically improved subject tracking ability, and 40% faster AF then in the A7R. It’s also been improved with better support for third-party lenses.

It’s the first camera to capture 4K video on a full frame sensor with no line skipping, and adds a Super35 crop mode.

It’s available in August for US $3200.

1:53PM ET: The new 1-inch BSI chip with DRAM has five times faster readout, says Sony! (Crop of the tiny text to come momentarily.)

1:55PM ET: Yes, it’s DRAM as in memory in that stacked sensor. Perhaps for faster offloading of the sensor data, rather than buffering to a separate chip?

1:57PM ET: 40x slow motion should be fun!

1:58PM ET: The push to ultra high-def 4K video has now arrived in Cyber-shot land! XAVC S format allows 100Mbps bitrate. The RX100 IV is capped at five minute 4K clips, though, probably due to the difficulties of getting heat out of such a compact body.

2:00PM ET: Looks like rolling shutter has been addressed, and there’s a whopping EV-2 to EV19 dynamic range. Nice!

2:02PM ET: The RX10 II has a 24-200mm f/2.8 zoom, and the RX100 IV sports a 24-70mm F1.8-2.8 zoom. Both get Bionz X, but only the RX10 II has Fast Intelligent AF with a claimed 0.09 second time to determine focus lock.

2:05PM ET: A quick recap of the RX100 IV in the image below. You’ll be able to get your hands on one next month!

2:06PM ET: And a recap for the RX10 II. Again, this beauty could be in your hands just weeks from now! This is going to be a fun summer. 🙂

2:08PM ET: This analysis just in from Production Editor Dave Pardue:

In the Cybershot world Sony has really been putting in the engineering time, it seems. Both the popular RX10 and hugely popular RX100 lines boast substantial upgrades in the form of the RX10 Mark II and the RX100 Mark IV. Both models are touting the world’s first 1.0 “typestacked” CMOS sensor with a built-in processing circuit and a large amount of DRAM built into the sensor chip itself!

What does this mean to us camera enthusiasts? A reported ability to shoot up to 860 [Edit: Correction, that’s 960] frames per second for either 2 seconds at “quality priority” or 4 seconds of “shoot time priority”. These are also the first Cybershot cameras to capture 4K video in-camera, both at 100Mbps. Because the RX100 IV is so small it’s limited to 5 minute clips, but the beefier RX10 IV can shoot the standard 29 minute clips without overheating concerns.

Now check this out: The stacked sensor design also allows for a new electronic shutter speed of 1/32,000th of a second! This will surely come in handy for times when conditions are bright but you still want a super-bright aperture for shallow depths of field.

These intriguing upgrades will be available in July 2015. Pricing is set at US$1,000 for the RX100 IV, and US$1,300 for the RX10 II!

2:10PM ET: There’s a nice external monitor accessory for the A7-series cameras, too. 3x or 6x enlargement, focus peaking, S-Log display assist and Full HD resolution…

2:14PM ET: The object of desire. How much do you want one?

2:23PM ET: Here’s the mag-alloy body for the Sony A7R II:


2:26PM ET: It’s the groundbreaking sensors that are the heart of this story — and the heart of these cameras — so we know you’ll want to see them. Here you go, camera fans!

2:29PM ET: Here’s a couple of tighter crops on those sensors.


2:32PM ET: Here’s the Organic LED panel and eyepiece lenses for the Sony A7R II’s electronic viewfinder.

2:33PM ET: And here’s the electronic viewfinder for the Sony RX100 IV.


2:36PM ET: It’s hands-on time! A whole raft of photos just came in from the team in New York. It’ll take a few minutes to process them, so bear with us. Here’s a teaser!

2:46PM ET: Here’s the Sony RX10 II from all angles:





2:54PM ET: Here’s a selection of shots showing the Sony A7R II. Next up, the RX100 IV — bear with us!




3:04PM ET: And following is the Sony RX100 IV. That about wraps it up for the photos, unless we stumble on one we missed uploading. We’re going over our notes now with a fine-toothed comb to see if there’s any more info we missed mentioning during the manic rush!







3:30PM ET: A couple of things about the A7R II that we wanted to call more attention to. First of all, the phase-detection AF points cover 45% of the full-frame image area. According to Sony, that’s more than any other full-frame PDAF system. Also, it bears repeating that the in-body image stabilization system is five-axis. That means it doesn’t just do translational and pitch/yaw stabilization, but also roll stabilization. (That’s exactly the kind of motion you tend to induce as you press the shutter button.) Five-axis stabilization of a full-frame sensor is seriously impressive.

We’re still filtering through our notes to see if there’s anything we missed, and endeavoring to get your questions answered as well. More in-depth writeups of all three cameras are on the way, as well, once we’ve had a moment to get the cameras into our database…

3:40PM ET: Here’s an interesting fact about the Sony A7R II: Its brand-new shutter unit isn’t just better at reducing vibration. It’s also significantly quieter — in fact, Sony tells us it’s twice as quiet as that in the original A7R. And if you need to keep vibrations to the absolute minimum, you can also shoot with an electronic shutter.

Also, the new five-axis image stabilization system is said to have a corrective range of 4.5 stops…

3:45PM ET: Concerned that your lenses might hold you back from taking advantage of the Sony A7R II’s whopping 42-megapixel full-frame sensor? Fear not: Sony tells us that all of its FE lenses were designed with this level of resolution in mind, and won’t limit your resolution below that which the camera is capable of discerning.

3:47PM ET: Another Sony A7R II claim that has us hopping from foot to foot in anticipation of putting this beauty in the lab. Sony is claiming a whopping 40% improvement in autofocus speed, as compared to that of the original A7R. How did they achieve such a big step? It’s down to the higher throughput from the image sensor, apparently. Look for subject tracking to be dramatically better than that of the earlier camera!

And interestingly, Sony tells us there should be a significant improvement with third-party lenses as well, not just first-party glass. In fact, the company is claiming that this is the very first mirrorless camera that can focus using SLR camera lenses just as fast as would the mirror-based camera!

3:58PM ET: Another cool fact for you: According to Sony, the A7R II’s viewfinder optics provide the highest magnification of any full-frame camera in the world today, at 0.78x.

4:15PM ET: Moving on to the Cyber-shot RX-series cameras, we just want to call attention once more to their high frame-rate modes. Depending on whether you’re using PAL or NTSC modes, you can shoot up to 960 or even 1,000 frames per second for as long as four seconds, depending on the resolution. Play back at 24 frames per second — you can choose the playback speed in-camera to encode into the video file — and what’s a four-second clip as you record it could be close to three minutes long once played back!

4:16PM ET: Worried that your reflexes won’t let you take advantage of the high frame-rate shooting to its full? Fear not: You can select between start or end-trigger options. The latter will let you tell the camera when to stop the clip, rather than when to start it, so you don’t have to rely on your reflexes to start capture right before the crucial moment…

4:19PM ET: We mentioned that the Sony RX100 IV and RX10 II are the first Cyber-shot series cameras capable of recording 4K video. We also told you that the RX100 IV was limited to a four-minute clip length, most likely due to heating concerns given its extremely compact body size. What we neglected to mention in the rush earlier on, though, was that the Sony RX10 II should allow you to shoot 4K clips for as long as 29 minutes. (That’s right, our old friend the European camcorder tax rears its head again.)

4:30PM ET: Did we mention that the Sony RX10 II and RX100 IV now allow a top electronic shutter speed of 1/32,000 second, thanks to their new stacked CMOS image sensor? And check this out: When talking about rolling shutter, Sony suggested that its high-speed readout could eliminate this annoying issue entirely. If that’s accurate, it could be a game-changer for anybody shooting from unstable platforms — say goodbye to the nausea-inducing jello effect in shots from imperfectly-balanced drones or cameras mounted on moving vehicles. We’re really hoping this one pans out once we get these cameras in the lab for testing!

4:35PM ET: Another nugget of info that gets us excited: Sony tells us that the RX100 III sports faster autofocus, and can achieve a focus lock in just 0.09 seconds. Even if that’s simply the time taken to determine a focus lock when the camera was already in focus to start off with, it’s pretty impressive! By way of comparison, we timed the RX100 III at 0.011 seconds even when prefocused, and at around 0.15 seconds when autofocus came into play.

4:38PM ET: One final point, as we reach the end of our frantically-typed notes. This one relates to the new CLM-FHD5 monitor which we showed you earlier, and which has a 5.0-inch screen diagonal. Want to know when you’ll be able to get your hands on one? You’ll have to wait just a little longer to find out, as Sony has stated that both pricing and availability for this monitor are still to be determined.

And that brings our live coverage of Sony’s press conference to an end. Our team is still on-site in New York, giving the cameras a close look over and endeavoring to answer your questions. Back here at Imaging Resource headquarters, we’ve just published our hands-on Sony A7R II preview and Sony RX100 IV preview, and now the Sony RX10 II preview is available, as well. We’ve also completed our A vs B comparison pages that pit their specs and features against their key rivals. Check them out below!

  • Sony RX100 IV comparisons
    • Sony RX100 IV vs Sony RX100 III
    • Sony RX100 IV vs Canon G7X
    • Sony RX100 IV vs Panasonic LX100
    • Sony RX100 IV vs Sony RX10 II
  • Sony RX10 II comparisons
    • Sony RX10 II vs Sony RX10
    • Sony RX10 II vs Panasonic FZ1000
    • Sony RX10 II vs Panasonic LX100
  • Sony A7R II comparisons
    • Sony A7R II vs Sony A7R
    • Sony A7R II vs Olympus E-M1
    • Sony A7R II vs Panasonic GH4
    • Sony A7R II vs Fujifilm X-T1
    • Sony A7R II vs Nikon D750
    • Sony A7R II vs Canon 5DS R

Got any questions you want answered? Leave them in the comments below and we’ll be sure to get answers for as many of them as we can, once the press conference is over!

Defiance Recap 6/12/14: Season 3 Episode 1 & 2 Premiere “The World We Seize; The Last Unicorns”

Defiance Recap 6/12/14: Season 3 Episode 1 & 2 Premiere "The World We Seize; The Last Unicorns"

Syfy’s series Defiance continues with an all new Thursday, June 11 season 3 premiere and double-episode tonight called, “The World We Seize; The Last Unicorns.” We’ve got your recap down below! On tonight’s episode, in the Season 3 premiere, Nolan [Grant Bowler] and Irisa [Stephanie Leonidas] are mysteriously rescued from their underground confinement just in time to discover that enemy forces are marching on the town of Defiance, which has fallen on hard times following the collapse of the gulanite mines.

For those of you unfamiliar with the show, the show takes place in the future on a radically transformed Earth containing new species, some having arrived from space, many others the result of contamination by terraforming technology which has transformed native flora and fauna in unforeseen ways.

On last week’s episode, Nolan raced to save Tommy’s life and stopped Irisa; tensions between Amanda and Stahma lead to a showdown. Then season 2 came to a close with Nolan fighting both the Earth Republic and old acquaintances to stop Irisa’s destructive plan from becoming a reality. He was also determined to save his adoptive daughter from the Kaziri forces that had been possessing her before his own friends attempted to kill her. Did you watch the last episode? If you missed it we have a full and detailed recap, right here for you.

On tonight’s episode per say the Syfy synopsis “in the Season 3 premiere, Nolan and Irisa are mysteriously rescued from their underground confinement just in time to discover that enemy forces are marching on the town of Defiance, which has fallen on hard times following the collapse of the gulanite mines. Meanwhile, Datak, Stahma and Rafe run into deadly complications on their quest to reunite their family; and Alak comes to realize just how unstable her mother-in-law is during their journey through the woods.”

Defiance airs at 8 PM on SYFY and we will be live blogging it with all the up-to-the-minute details. So make sure to come back to this spot and spend the evening with us! Make sure to refresh often to get the most current details and updates!


#Defiance begins seven months after we were last there. A ship lurks in space. On board, two discuss that the ship is shutting down to conserve power. The daughter tells her father she’s scared and he says their mission cannot fail. Pods shoot out of the ship heading for earth. They enter the atmosphere and then shoot out lightning as they land. Father and daughter are released. They look around.

They head toward the gulanite and wonder if it’s guarded. In Defiance, Bailey tells Amanda the stasis nets are down and she says the gulanite reserves are down and it had to be done. Bailey says people are scared and Amanda says she is too but not to tell anyone. At the McCawley Mines, the two strangers approach. They head inside with an object in the man’s hand that expands then floats to guide them.

The woman releases some objects that dig into the walls of the mine. In town, human power keeps the record player going. Lambert tells Amanda that Yewell is about to take them for all their cash reserves. Amanda says she’s winning big then raiders show up and tell everyone to empty their pockets. They take Yewell’s winnings and tell Amanda to open the safe. She says she doesn’t know the combination.

They threaten to shoot her and Amanda says okay. Amanda asks if it’s Hap and says things are getting desperate around town. She says this is not the answer and he tells her to shut up and give him the cash. Berlin distracts the guy and Amanda shoots him in the knee twice. Amanda tells her it’s been a day. The father and daughter find the ark but wonder why it’s underground.

They surmise it must have crash landed. They notice that the life pods are losing power. They look around and spot the one still glowing – Nolan and Irisa are inside it. The girl touches it and opens it and they fall to the ground. There are umbilical cord things attached to their heads. The girl yanks them free and sniffs Nolan thoroughly. She snarls and goes to bite him. She has vampire teeth.

Her father says not yet and tells her to remain focused. He says they didn’t come to feed. She says he has too many rules. She takes Nolan’s weapon and he wakes and asks where his daughter is then asks in Itherian if they speak that language. The woman knocks him out. Nolan then wakes in the snow calling for Irisa. She’s nearby. He makes it to her and tries to wake her up.
– –
She wakes and tells him his breath stinks. He tells her to come on and helps her stand. He asks how they got there and they see the arch of Defiance. They are a good ways away. Stahma sits in a car outside Oklahoma City. DAlak asks if she’s seen any movement and she says she hasn’t seen any patrols. He tells her they spotted them. He pulls her out of the car and tells her to bundle up for the walk.

He shows her a house and Rafe waits outside watching through binoculars. He says Pilar’s parents owned the place. He says he hasn’t seen Alak and Christie yet but they spot their grandchild.
– –
Stahma says she will kill Pilar in an excruciating way if she has harmed the kids. DAlak says it will happen no matter what. Rafe doesn’t seem too bothered by this. They head back to the car. Pilar comes back inside with the baby and says grandma’s got Luke. We see that Christie and Alak are chained to the floor. Stahma, Rafe and DAlak creep closer and find that the Votanis Collective have found the car.

Stahma says they can’t let them find the children and Rafe tells DAlak to make it look good. He bashes him with the rifle then takes him to the Votanis. They tell them they’re loyal to the collective and General Rahm Tak comes over to talk to them. DAlak says he knows him as the beast and introduces he and Stahma to Rahm. He asks isn’t DAlak a crime lord. He says his donations to the cause have been meager.

But he seems quite taken with Stahma. She calls him Favi and Rahm asks who’s the pink skin. He says his name is Rafe. She asks Rahm not to kill him and says there’s a bounty on his head in Defiance. Rahm says they’re in luck – he says the caravan is headed to Defiance. DAlak asks what business he has there and he says he’s going to kill all the humans and burn the disgusting place to the ground.

At Yewell’s place, Amanda hands over her winnings and Berlin says she needs it to pay her way across the Badlands. Amanda asks why she’s leaving and she says she’s going to try her luck out west but Amanda says they need her. Yewell says Defiance needs an obituary. She says there is no future there since the mine collapsed then says the stasis nets are down so it’s hopeless.

Amanda says they’ve lost too many but the people who can’t survive the Badlands stayed. Amanda says if she leaves, people will die since she’s the only doctor in town. Yewell says she has work to do and kicks them out. Maybe Amanda got through to her. Nolan tells Irisa the last thing he remembers was pulling her into a life pod when the ceiling collapsed. He says some alien pulled them out.

He says they had purple skin and asks if it rings a bill. She asks about the cut on his head and he says she has one too. They think the aliens did it. They find a hut and start a fire. Irisa says she can’t go back because they’ll lynch her as a mass murderer. She says she killed Tommy and destroyed NYC. Nolan says it was the ark brain and she fought and beat it and saved everyone. He says he’s proud of her.

Irisa says they’ll still lynch her. They see worm hole flares from the Votanis Collective and wonder who they’re talking to. Rahm gets the message that the stasis nets are down in Defiance. He laughs. Rafe is tied up as a prisoner. Rahm tells DAlak that the gulanite shortage means the statis nets are down and says it’s cause for celebration. DAlak says they will overrun them easily. Rahm says Defiance turns hs stomach.

Rafe pulls a knife out of his boot. Rahm says maybe they will put a statue of him in town. He tells Stahma he’s not delusional when he thinks she’s mocking him. Irisa and Nolan creep through the woods looking around carefully as they go. He points out the signaler – a Votanis with a wormhole flare gun. Nolan says they must be spies. They creep the other way and decide who will take out which one.

Nolan creeps up on his his while Irisa creeps on the one who went to take a pee. Nolan snaps the neck of the one and Irisa gets the gun of the other and tells him not to move. He says he knows she’s from Defiance and says they wrote a book about her – the Irathient girl with a human father. He says no shooting and says they’re friends. He gets closer and her hand shakes.

He says she’s trembling then he touches her. He grabs the gun and she runs. He grabs her and says he’ll show her what it means to be a real Votan and tears her shirt. Nolan puts a bullet in him from the ridge then pulls him off her. He asks what happened and she says her weapon jammed. Luke cries and Pilar takes him from Christie and says she’s had three children.

Alak says he’ll check the traps when Quentin doesn’t want to go. She tells Alak that she had to bring them along after his parents threatened to kill her. He says sure. Pilar says they’ll both go and tells Quentin to unchain Alak. Nolan and Irisa drive into town in the spies’ vehicle. He’s worried about the VC. Irisa says Amanda will shoot her but Nolan says Amanda didn’t pull the trigger last time.

Then he agrees she should stay in the car. He heads inside and Amanda wakes at the sound. She grabs her gun and goes to see who it is. She’s stunned to see Nolan. He asks where’s Potinger and she says he’s gone. She says she’s in charge again. She says the town is on his last legs and she’s hanging by a thread. He asks how long they’ve been gone and she says seven months. He’s shocked.

He says Irisa is there too. A guy asks Irisa to sign the book for his boyfriend and asks how it feels to save the world. He says it must be great. Amanda asks what happened to his head and he asks about the stasis nets. He says she has to get the nets up now and says she doesn’t. He shows her the VC communicator and says they’re coming for them. Irisa is stunned by the book and says it’s trash.

Berlin is there and tells Pol to go home. Berlin slams her face onto the car then knocks her out. Nolan looks at the log of weapons left in the armory and he says power is the real issue. He says the war is over without the stasis nets before it starts. Amanda says the mine collapsed and they can’t access it. Nolan says there must be a tunnel since they got out and throws her jacket at her.

He says the purple skins got them out. He finds Berlin beating Irisa and Amanda asks what the hell. Berlin says she killed Tommy but Nolan says the machine killed Tommy and says if she touches Irisa again, he’ll put her in the ground. Amanda, Irisa and Nolan head out to the mine. He asks about the new hardware on the rood and Amanda has no clue about it. They head closer with caution.

There’s a glowing blue alien antenna looking thing on the roof. Inside, Nolan says it looks like Votan tech and says someone set up shop. He says they look like they’re from Irisa’s neck of the woods. She tells him she’s from Denver. Amanda says they have terraformers. Nolan finds his gun. One of the blue spheres comes at them and they try to shoot it. It stuns Amanda and knocks her down.

Nolan and Irisa press on. Rahm gets a message and tells Datak and Stahma to come quickly. The caravan moves. He say they found some humans and it should be educational. In the mines, Nolan and Irisa follows the blue device. He says someone has been busy down there. They hear noise and see glowing lights in the heart of the mine. They wonder what the purple skins want with the gulanite.

The female purple skin finds Amanda on the floor and sniffs her all over then snarls. Amanda wakes alone on the floor some time later. Nolan says he wants to figure out how the drones work so they can what they’re up against. The female leaps at them and Nolan asks why she’s in their mines. The female kicks Nolan then she and Irisa grapple. She’s doing pretty well against them.

Then Irisa hits her with a shocker but then Amanda is there with a gun and shoots the woman twice. She asks if they’re okay. Amanda says she was aiming for the legs but got her in the gut instead. Nolan says she needs a doctor ASAP and says to grab her up. Christie hears the vehicles outside. Quentin says it’s a VC patrol. She tells him to unlock her chain before he goes to talk to them.

She reminds him what the VC does to mixed breed babies and he tells her to find a good hiding place. She runs off after he unchains her. Quentin greets Rahm in his language but then Rahm says boring. He asks if he knows who he is and Quentin says Rahm Tak then says he’s on his side and assassinated Ambassador Tennety for them. He asks his name. Quentin tells him.

Rahm asks why that name is familiar then says he’s never heard of him and shoots him in the head. Rafe screams in anguish. Pilar and Alak hear the shot. Christie sees it out the window and is horrified. Rahm says – oops – then asks Rafe if that was his son. Rafe continues to scream. Datak and Stahma are not pleased either.

Rafe says there was no reason to kill him and says Rahm did it out of spite. Datak says he’s sorry and says they will take vengeance together. They loosen his bonds on the down low then Rahm calls for Datak and Stahma to come to him. They leave Rafe in the vehicle and he quickly unchains himself. Stahma and Datak go into the house and Rahm asks about how they captured McCawley.

He wants to know how they missed the son and Stahma says the humans can be clever. Rahm says maybe Stahma is being clever. Rafe kills a guard and takes his weapon. He looks at his dead son then moves on. A guard hears a noise and checks a closet. Christie hides crying. He grabs her and yanks her out. Rafe rushes in. Christie says they have no right to be there. Rafe runs in shooting.

Christie whispers to Stahma they have to get the soldiers out because of the baby. Rafe grabs Christie’s hand but then the guards drill him full of bullets. She cries for her father who collapses on the floor. She says in their language theat they are all devils. Stahma says she’s in shock. Christie says some unforgiveable curses in their language and Rahm asks if she taught this human the curses.

He hands Stahma Datak’s blade and says to kill the human. She hesitates and he says to do it or he will kill Datak. Pilar and Alak run for the house. Rahm screams at her to make a decision. Christie stands and faces Stahma. Stahma sees the baby’s hand in the closet door and Christie opens her shirt to the neck and says she’s not afraid. Stahma slices her and she goes down.

Rahm is pleased. Stahma thanks him for providing clarity. She says of course the only good human is a dead one. She asks if they can leave now. She says the stench of human death offends. Rahm says to move out. Datak is stunned at what his wife has done. The others walk out and he has to follow. Christie lies still beside her father. The baby begins to cry.

Pilar and Alak come into the house. He cries over Christie in his language. He begs for her to come back. He screams. Then the baby cries and he runs to get his son. Rafe says he’s hungry and tells Pilar their kids used to cry like that when they were hungry but then he stops. Pilar tells him to wake the hell up. He does but he’s gasping. He looks at his grandson and tells Alak to forget what happened there.

He says to forget that day and love the baby like he loved his Christie. Alak says she should have been better and Rafe says he should have been too then he passes away. Alak holds his son and cries. Pilar takes his boots and says waste not, want not. Yewell goes ot her clinic and finds Amanda there who says it’s a secret patient. Yewell sees her and looks horrified. She calls her an unholy taker.

She says she won’t help that thing but Amanda threatens her. Yewell says they have to chain her up before she touches her. Yewell says she’s a predator and eats like a cannibal. She says there was an early Votan race that predated all of them. She says they found an honest to goodness Omec. Nolan says he heard they died out. She says they built arks to escape the sun but the Omec ark failed.

The Omec wakes and curses them. Yewell walks away and Amanda says there’s also a male. Yewell says to kill them both then says they have no idea what they’re dealing with. Nolan brings the creature a jacket. She looks at it then throws it on the floor. He asks if she speaks Casti. Then he says she has a good right hook then gestures ka pow. She repeats ka pow. He sits and offers her the jacket.

She growls. He puts the jacket around her. She looks at it then says she’s Kindzi. He tells her their names. He asks about her being a cannibal. He asks about when she licked him. Irisa is grossed out and leaves. Nolan asks if she was going to eat him. She growls at him then he flinches, laughs and says she must understand him. She smiles.

Amanda asks Ksaruko about the Omec. He says they are devils to use human language. He says they are enchanters, dark gods and takers of the innocent. She asks about cannibalism and he says they don’t each other but other Votans. He shows her a book and she reads about the devils emerging from the stars. He calls it the dread harvest. The male Omec walks into Defiance.

Ksaruko says that every 76 years their planet would come close to their planets and would steal thousands of other Votans in the harvest. They would keep them as slaves until they got bored then would eat them. Monguno says those stories are bogus and he doesn’t believe in Omec. Ksaruko says he’s a foolish boy then tells Amanda the Omec were very real and dangerous.

The Omec comes into the bazaar and the other Votan go running. The man growls. Amanda looks at him. He says in English that he’s there for his daughter. Stahma and Datak sit with Rahm in his tent. Datak says Defiance won’t go down without a fight. Rahm says they have a weapon and says it’s a secret. They talk about Johnny Cash and Datak says his command of human culture is commendable.

Rahm says he likes the filth of humans then points out Lt Bebe and says he wore human skin to infiltrate a mall and kill many of the humans. Rahm says this world is theirs for the taking and asks if Datak knows the term Manifest Destiny. Stahma pours them wine and Rahm says the men are talking. She says she shames herself then walks away. Rahm says he wants them to help the Votan cause.

He tells Datak he will be a saboteur and help bring Defiance to its knees. Stahma says without her there to calm him, Datak is prone to fits of anger and says sending her with him may help him achieve the result. Rahm says they are both treacherous snakes and he can’t send them off together. He says Datak will go to Defiance and do what he says.

Rahm says if he refuses, fails or displeases him, he will cut a piece off his wife’s beautiful body. He says she can end up being one ugly bitch. Pilar and Alak walk with the baby to get away from the Collective. It’s cold and says his terrible Casti grandparents ruined everything then says she’ll protect him. They spot an RV in the distance and Pilar says she’s going to get food for her grandson.

She hands Luke to Alak then heads for the RV. Alak comforts his son and says Pilar will be back. Pilar approaches and knocks on the door. A man steps out with a gun. Pilar sets her gun aside and chats with them. They let her into the trailer. Inside, there are gunshots. Alak is terrified because he can’t see what happened.

The Omec male tells Amanda he found bullets and his daughter’s blood. He asks where she is and Amanda says she’s fine. Amanda says she appreciates his patience and asks his name. He says it’s T’evgin. Nolan asks if his ship is functional. T’evgin says those are invasive questions then says he saved Nolan’s life. He says he the cut was to release him from the pod.

T’evgin says his daughter pleaded mercy on their behalf. They ask why all the gulanite and if they need fuel. He says their ship is low on fuel and in need of repair. He says they will travel into deep space to look for other Omec. Amanda says their town needs gulanite badly and says they can share 50/50. She says his equipment, their mine.

T’evgin smashes the bar and says bring his daughter or he will bathe in their blood until his rage is cleansed. Amanda says his daughter attacked her and she shot her so they brought her there to seek medical care. Amanda says he can have her back when they reach an agreement over the gulanite. T’evgin says she’s a hostage but Amanda says it’s an ugly word.

Kindzi tries to break loose of her bonds and Berlin says that Irisa should be the one chained up. Monguno shows up with pals asking to see the Omec. They go to chase the kids off but one says Irisa is the Goddess of the Badland and asks why she didn’t kill the Omec since she’s a murderer. Berlin chases them off then says Irisa is a murderer.

Monguno is outside looking in and tells the other two it’s totally an Omec. They boost him up to look inside and he peers in. He pokes a stick in and calls to the Omec. Kindzi yanks against her bonds and Berlin and Irisa wonder if she’s loose. Mungono loses his poking stick and Kindzi impales him through the eye with it. Kindzi busts loose of her containment and Berlin goes to see what happened.

Irisa cries over the dead boy. Berlin looks around and sees the Omec is truly gone. Yewell is with Mungono’s body when T’evgin, Amanda and Nolan show up. Yewell says she told them so. T’evgin slaps her. Ksaruko cries out to kill the Omec and Yewell curses the Omec male. Alak and Pilar are in the trailer where she killed the family there. She tells Alak to eat but he says he has no appetite.

He says she sounds like his parents and she says no. He says she murdered them but Pilar says she killed strangers while his parents killed family to take care of themselves. Pilar sits and says she tried to poison her three children and says Christie was just a baby at the time. Alak says he’s heard about it. She says she was sick then says the Votan Monastery Rafe sent her to taught her to look beyond her own needs.

She says she had to suffer so her kids could be safe and Alak says safe from her. She says she took the Castithan abuse to keep her kids safe then Quentin found and forgave her. She says he saved her life. She says her family and children needed a mother so she focused on it and wouldn’t let anything stop her, least of all his parents. She says she’s not his mother, she’s Christie’s mother. She says he can depend on her though and says she will never betray him. He says he wishes he could believe it.

Nolan and T’evgin track Kindzi’s blood trail. He says she must have reopened her gunshot wounds. Nolan says he doesn’t like the amount of blood he’s seeing and tells T’evgin let’s go find her. Kindzi is cornered by a crowd led by Ksaruko who says she killed his son. He beats her with a stick and calls her Devil and Omec. They start to string her up when Nolan shows up with a gun and makes them stop.

Nolan stops T’evgin and says to look after his daughter now. He does. He screams at what he sees. Datak makes a shiv and says he won’t leave her alone with Rahm. He says Rafe deserved better and she says Christie did too. She tells him to make her a weapon too and says it’s better they die together. He says he’ll get to work on it. They are in agreement.

At the trailer, Alak sleeps then wakes suddenly. He calls for Pilar. She’s gone and took the baby. He goes outside and screams her name. He trips over the bodies and screams for his son. He sees her footsteps in the snow and gives chase. He hears a vehicle approaching and then lights shine in his face. He says she took his son. He stares in horror.

Nolan and T’evgin bring Kindzi to Yewell. Nolan tells Kindzi to focus on him. Yewell comes in and says to get the monster out of her place. Nolan holds a gun on her and threatens to kill her. T’evgin says he needs protoform not her medical help. Yewell says to him, she’s just a jar of spackle. He says he needs a strip of skin 6 inches by 3 inches and says the Indogene will live.

He says if his daughter dies, the town will too. Amanda tells Nolan to hold her down. They stun her and Amanda gives her a sedative. She asks Yewell if 20 ccs is enough. She says screw them. They cut the skin off her. Irisa is horrified. Yewell screams as they cut her. Later, Nolan sits outside and Amanda says Yewell is angry and drugged. T’evgin takes the skin and uses it to save Kindzi.

He tells Nolan that protoform is infinitely mutable and can benefit many physiologies. He puts it on the wound on his daughter and it confirms there and heals her. Yewell watches shaking and furious. Kindzi tells her father that she was provoked when she hurt the boy. He says until their ship is ready they cannot antagonize the humans and says there are hundreds of them and just two Omec.

He says they cannot let their race die out. He says when the ship has power and their family awakens, they will conquer this people and settle their score. She smiles at her father. Amanda tells T’evgin their ride is there. He tells Nolan he acknowledges that they helped save his daughter and he says they can share the gulanite. Amanda thanks him. They hear a gunshot as they go to leave.

It’s Ksaruko who is trying to kill them. Nolan and Irisa fire back at him. Irisa approaches the bookseller and says she knows he’s angry. He says his son is dead and they fought to save the life of the devil that killed his son. Irisa says she’s sorry for his life but says Monguno was provoking her and Kindzi was scared and lashed out. Nolan calls out that he’s endangering the entire town and he will shoot him.

Irisa says he’s not a killer and doesn’t know what killing does to you. She says she doesn’t want him to know. The man relents but then he’s shot in the back when he approaches Irisa. She tells Nolan that he was going to surrender. Nolan says if he didn’t, he would have killed Irisa. He says no one forced him to shoot at innocent people. Irisa says – innocent, right… She walks off annoyed.

Stahma and Datak walk through the VC camp. He tells her good luck. They go into Rahm’s tent are trapped by guards. Rahm tells Stahma that they are more formidable together than apart. He says the can go spy as a team. He says they’re thinking there must be a catch. Rahm has Alak captive. He tells Stahma they will work on her cover story. Alak screams as the VC rough them up.

Pilar sings Luke a lullaby by a fire out in the snow. She rocks him and sings. She looks at little Luke and then continues singing. The lights come on in Defiance. Everyone is thrilled. Amanda and Berlin are relieved. Yewell sits alone upset as the lights come on in her clinic. Nolan and Irisa stand at their vehicle. She’s far away from her dad.

Kindzi and T’evgin tread through the snow and he looks up at the sky. Out in space, we see their ship os sleeping Omec. There are thousands of them in stasis – enough to eat all of Earth’s humans and Votans.

Daventry cycling duo ride 1,400 miles for charity

tesco cyclists

Simon Shenton and Karl Hedley are cycling to every distribution centre served by the Daventry depot on a daily basis.

Their 1,400-mile journey which will take them through five countries has been planned to take 20 days.

The co-workers decided to take up cycling over a year ago, to get fit as they reached middle age.

They bought bikes for local runs, but soon progressed to taking part in the 55-mile London to Brighton cycle ride.

Undeterred by suffering scrapes and grazes in training they decided to set themselves a bigger challenge.

They challenged each other to make the same journey as the deliveries from the Daventry centre to all the 14 distribution centres up and down the country.

Simon said: “We have done this for one reason, to raise as much money as we possibly can for the Tesco Charity Partnership.

“With the first few days under our belt, the magnitude of what we have set ourselves has started to sink in.

“We’ve got faith in our training though and hopefully with everyone’s support we can make it through the full 1,400 miles. It will certainly be a challenge!”

The co-workers have been in training for over six months and have recruited the expertise of the Coventry University Sports Therapy Department to help them deal with potential injuries, choosing the right diet, and teaching warm-up exercises.

Four current and former students from the university will also be part of the support team for the event, on hand to provide advice and guidance.

Rider Karl’s dad Peter will be in driving the all important support vehicle with food, drink and the vital moral support.

Karl said: “We’re hugely grateful to everyone that has supported us so far, particularly our friends and family who have had to put up with a lot of dirty clothes and more than a few blisters.

“We’re really excited about giving this a crack and would urge anyone who can to make a donation to help us raise as much as possible for these two great causes”.

Karl and Simon will post updates on their progress on twitter via @Shenton78 and @Karlhedley2. Simon will also be blogging on their website

Northern Territory a state isn’t a priority for his government

The Northern Territory’s roller-coaster bid to become Australia’s seventh state has stalled since an aborted attempt to stage a Constitutional Convention in 2012.

Statehood has again been discussed after the minister responsible, Bess Price, stumbled in estimates hearings at a question about the status of the campaign under the CLP

Treasurer Dave Tollner and Mr Giles have moved to reassure Territorians statehood formed part of the government’s ambitions – but the message wasn’t being reciprocated by the voters.

“Statehood in the Territory isn’t a big issue in people’s minds,” Mr Giles said.

“If it was a burning issue I think we could push it a lot harder but there’s a lot more work to be done.”

Mr Giles said he was taken by surprise at the enthusiasm towards Territory statehood by some premiers at a 2013 Council of Australian Governments meeting.

“They were rock solid behind me immediately …

“It was almost a case of ‘Oh my goodness, this might move quicker than what we’ve talked to the Territory about’,” he said.

He said statehood could be driven at an “accelerated speed through COAG” but the public discussion needed to broaden before a government could take the issue to the Commonwealth.

“I didn’t want to run forward on an issue that I haven’t been talking to the Opposition about and Independents, and that I haven’t been talking to the Territory about,” he said.

“It’s important to take people with you on those sort of journeys … roughly speaking, we’ve started talking about what a draft constitution might look like in a hypothetical setting and then working out any potential communication strategies in the Territory going ahead.

“There’s a thousand ducks to line up in these things.”


FOR a brief moment at the 2013 Council of Australian Government meeting the troubled regress of the Territory’s road to statehood took a turn.

Chief Minister Adam Giles describes it as an “Oh my goodness” moment. “They were rock solid behind me immediately … (I thought) ‘This might move quicker than what we’ve talked to the Territory about’,” he says.

“They” were the premiers from Queensland, WA and NSW and they had just “jumped on” Territory statehood “within seconds” of Giles raising it. Even Prime Minister Tony Abbott was supportive, Giles says.

While Colin Barnett is still premier of WA, Campbell Newman and Barry O’Farrell have been ousted and the dynamic of COAG has changed.

It is the Federal Government, not the states, that has the power to admit the NT as the seventh state. But was it a missed opportunity to move the issue front and centre?

“If it was a burning issue I think we could push it a lot harder but there’s a lot more work to be done,” Giles says.

“The next thing for us was to put a paper forward to COAG…. (but) I didn’t want to run forward on an issue that I haven’t been talking to the Opposition about and Independents, and that I haven’t been talking to the Territory about.”

The issue inevitably re-emerged this month when the minister responsible, Bess Price, failed to coherently answer a question from Deputy Opposition Leader Lynne Walker about statehood’s progress under the CLP.

“Yes, I am the minister responsible and I work closely with the Chief Minister because there’s complex issues that … I (am) involved and statehood is … yes, that’s where I sit with statehood,” Price replied, after a near minute-long pause.

Giles told the NT News this week statehood remained the “number one philosophical priority” of the CLP.

By the reckoning of Ken Parish, lecturer in law at Charles Darwin University, who broadly supports statehood despite blogging recently of self-government’s failures, the CLP has done little to advance the issue.

“They don’t seem to have done anything – I watch it fairly closely and I have not seen anything that explains why they haven’t done anything,” he says. “I’d like to think it’s a priority but I have my doubts.”

The Government’s website about statehood has been down for months, at least.

The conversation has stalled since 2011, when the CLP in opposition teamed with Independent MLA Gerry Wood to kill a planned 2012 vote to find 75 delegates to man a constitutional convention.

The reason given is it would have clashed with Darwin Council elections.

An NT News editorial at the time asked if the government believed Territorians “too stupid to be able to vote on two issues on the same day.” Like previous gains on statehood, the convention quietly died, as did any hard-won momentum.

“In government, what we’ve got to do before we start pursuing those priorities is getting the Government finances right and getting the jobs plan for the future right first,” Giles says.

Nevertheless, he says there is talk behind the scenes about “what a draft constitution might look like in a hypothetical setting.”

Parish says statehood is a no-win for politicians “so the best thing to do is profess your support for it but never actually do anything”.

In practical terms, he says statehood would hardly, if at all, change the day-by-day lives of most Territorians, but it would give their Government more powers to push back against Commonwealth forces.

In 1997, the John Howard Coalition government (spurred by then backbencher Kevin Andrews) not only passed federal laws overriding the Territory’s Rights of the Terminally Ill Act, but legislated to make sure future Territory governments could never pass euthanasia laws again.

Later, needing somewhere to store nuclear waste, the Federal Government deigned the Territory the preferred receptacle after South Australia fought back.

“They (the Federal Government) could have forced it on SA if they had been bothered to fight it long enough,” Parish says. “But the states have more capacity to resist the Commonwealth. The territories have no capacity to resist the Commonwealth. If the Commonwealth wants to prevail, it can instantly, just by passing a law.”

In the end, the Northern Land Council implosion over Muckaty Station prompted the Federal Government to look elsewhere.

Parish says the Howard government intervention into Territory indigenous communities in 2007 could still have been possible under statehood, but “with much more difficulty.”

Territorians have been agitating for inclusion in varying degrees for more than 100 years, but debate as we know it today began in earnest in 1986 under then CLP chief minister Steve Hatton.

Statehood came closest in 1998, when despite polls indicating overwhelming support, a referendum produced a narrow 51.9 per cent to 48.1 per cent loss for the “Yes” vote.

The defeat was largely on the back of the aboriginal vote, who, according to current Northern Land Council chief Joe Morrison, had been treated with “disdain” by successive CLP governments. The principle fear was what statehood could mean for land tenure and indeed the NLC and the Central Land Council boycotted the Statehood Convention in early 1998.

A post-mortem found people were generally uneducated about what statehood would mean. Then chief minister Shane Stone has accepted some of the blame and has acknowledged he went overseas at a crucial time before the vote.

“We muffed it, I’ll take a share of responsibility for that, but Territorians were offered it on a plate and they wanted to split hairs over it,” he told the NT News recently. “Well, sorry folks, game over. Opportunity lost. Tragic beyond belief.”

Others say much of the “No” vote was a direct protest against his chief ministership.

The Labor government under Clare Martin and then Paul Henderson established the Statehood Steering Committee, which explored statehood issues and even conducted well-intended, but poorly attended, “town hall” style meetings up and down the Territory to gauge community sentiment.

It was all leading to the constitutional convention which fizzled out when the CLP took the fifth floor in 2012.

CDU professorial fellow Rolf Gerritsen is contemptuous of statehood talk.

“(The committee) produced reams of papers, some of which I read, and it got nowhere,” he says. “Fundamentally you have to have the Commonwealth to do it and we’re just not on the radar. They don’t think it’s important.”

Gerritsen asks why even discuss statehood when the Territory could never truly be an equal player.

The easiest route to statehood is through s121 of the Constitution, which allows the Federal Government to admit new states to the Federation.

Gerritsen says this means statehood would be an act of the Federal Parliament and, by natural extension, susceptible to manipulation by the Federal Parliament.

“Let’s say they amended the Northern Territory Self Government Act and it became the Northern Territory Statehood Act, then we pass a euthanasia bill,” he says. “There is then nothing to prevent them amending the statehood act to stop us, like they did under the self government act. We won’t achieve sovereignty.”

The other route is through a national referendum, which would almost certainly be voted down.

Then there is the matter of federal representation.

All states have at least five members in the House of Representatives and a guaranteed 12 members in the Senate. This is a considerable leap from the Territory’s current representation of two in the House and two in the Senate. “Everybody could be a member of Federal Parliament,” Gerritsen says.

Those in favour of statehood generally agree the Territory must achieve parity with other states eventually, but not necessarily from day one of statehood.

“Whatever happens, we’re not going to get equal Senate representation with the original states upfront,” Parish says. “We might get some agreement to a formula that moves towards that over time as the population increases.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s office has not responded to repeated NT News questions about statehood. Nor has Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

At a Territory level, moving forward on statehood means getting indigenous Territorians on side.

NLC chief Joe Morrison is clear this would mean protection of the Land Rights Act, which he fears could be manipulated by a Territory government if it was transferred from the safekeeping of the Commonwealth to the Territory upon statehood.

When asked about the Land Rights Act under statehood, Giles said: “Currently it’s an act of the Federal Parliament and that would be discussions you’d have later, but it’s not something I’m actively pursuing … my interest is working with land councils and traditional owners, not mucking around with who’s got what legislation.”

Morrison says the first step is “resetting” the relationship between indigenous Australia at Territory and federal levels.

“History is history, but how do we go on this journey together?” he says.

“If there’s going to be a conversation about statehood then there needs to be a clearer understanding of the protection of people’s rights, their land rights but also their human rights, in terms of dealing with societal challenges.”

Any discussion of statehood must take into account the Territory’s political stability and form.

Morrison hits on some of the concerns. “We haven’t had that level of maturity in the political system here both within the government and oppositions,” he says.

That the Federal Government is always just a vote away from cancelling Territory law is a source of comfort, not injustice, for some.