Word of the day

May 31, 2012

Procellous – stormy, tempestuous.


Thursday’s quiz

May 31, 2012

Once more I’m leaving the questions up to you with a bag of electronic baking to anyone who asks a question which stumps everyone.

But one question from me: do you want me to keep leaving the questions up to you, would you like me to go back the asking the questions, or would you prefer a mix of both?


World smokefree Day

May 31, 2012

I have several vices but smoking  isn’t one of them.

Hand on heart, I can say that not a single cigarette – tobacco or anything eLse has ever touched my lips.

Now, more than ever I’m thankful for that.

The latest tax increases make it a very expensive habit:

A pack of cigarettes costs about $14 and A daily pack habit will cost over $5,000 a year.

That is set to rise to $20 a pack by 2016.

Smoking is also  an increasingly difficult habit to maintain as smokefree initiatives restrict.

Difficult to maintain though it is, most people find it even more difficult to give up.

But today is World Smokefree Day,  when tobacco addicts are implored to reclaim their lungs and stub out the habit.


Refocus for Families Commission

May 31, 2012

The Families Commission was a post-election coalition trophy for United Future and I have never been convinced it did anything of sufficient value to justify its existence.

However a new focus announced by Social Develop Minister Paula Bennett could change that:

The Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor Professor Sir Peter Gluckman has identified a gap in monitoring, evaluation and research in the social sector.

“This restructure will see the Families Commission take on a new role providing for independent monitoring, evaluation and research to measure the effectiveness of initiatives for families and society,” says Mrs Bennett.

Of the $32.48 million funding the Families Commission receives over four years, the Government will reprioritise a minimum of $14.2 million over four years to set up a new Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (SuPERU).

This unit will provide independent monitoring, evaluation and contracting of research on key issues and social sector programmes and interventions.

“There will be a single Commissioner, down from the original seven and the organisation will be governed by a board comprising public sector, philanthropic and academic representatives,” says Mrs Bennett.

The restructure will see the Families Commission’s core function, which is to advocate for families, streamlined through a leaner, more focused structure.

A new Family Status Report will be developed to measure how New Zealand families are getting on.

A further $4 million over four years will be redirected to fund extra parenting programmes and relationship education in schools and the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health programme.

The Government also announced the transfer of responsibility for managing the Growing Up In New Zealand longitudinal study to the new unit.

The study will receive an additional $1.8m from Vote Social Development 2012/2013 financial year.

A focus based on science rather than feel-good factors is a good place to start in ensuring the Commission achieves something worthwhile and gives value for the money it costs.


AG to investigate Jones’ immigration decision

May 31, 2012

Auditor General Lyn Provost is to carry out an inquiry into the decision by the former Associate Minister of Immigration, Shane Jones, to grant citizenship to Yong Ming Yan (also known as Yang (Bill) Liu).

It will be led by Francis Cooke QC.

The link above will take you to an explanation of the background of the case and the scope of the inquiry which will examine:

  • the policies and practices of the Department of Internal Affairs when advising the Minister on applications for citizenship, in particular where the applicant’s ‘good character’ is in question;
  • how and why the Minister decided to grant citizenship to Mr Yan; and
  • any other matters the Auditor-General considers it desirable to report on.

Looking at not just how the decision was made but why is important.

When Labour leader David Shearer requested the AG look at the case he referred to the process but that is far too narrow for an issue of this seriousness.

New Zealand has a very good reputation for lack of corruption in high places. The AG has a very  important role in safeguarding that reputation and any inquiry she undertakes must range as widely as it needs to be in order to get to the bottom of what happened, how and why.

That is not in any way pre-judging the outcome. A full and comprehensive inquiry is just as important if it clears the then-Associate Minister’s name as if it doesn’t.

Hat tip: Keeping Stock


May 31 in history

May 31, 2012

1279 BC – Rameses II (The Great) (19th dynasty) became pharaoh of Ancient Egypt.

526  A an earthquke in Antioch, Turkey, killed 250,000.

1223 Mongol invasion of the Cumans: Battle of the Kalka River – Mongol armies of Genghis Khan led by Subutai defeated Kievan Rus and Cumans.

1578  Martin Frobisher sailed from Harwich,  to Frobisher Bay, Canada, eventually to mine fool’s gold, used to pave streets in London.

1669   Samuel Pepys recorded the last event in his diary.

1678  The Godiva procession through Coventry began.

1759  The Province of Pennsylvania banned all theatre productions.

1775  American Revolution: The Mecklenburg Resolutions adopted in the Province of North Carolina.

1790 Alferez Manuel Quimper explored the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

1790 – The United States enacted its first copyright statute, the Copyright Act of 1790.

1813  Lawson, Blaxland and Wentworth, reached Mount Blaxland, effectively marking the end of a route across the Blue Mountains.

1819 Walt Whitman, American poet, was born (d. 1892).

1859  The clock tower at the Houses of Parliament, which houses Big Ben, started keeping time.

1862  American Civil War Peninsula Campaign: Battle of Seven Pines or (Battle of Fair Oaks) – Confederate forces under Joseph E. Johnston & G. W. Smith engaged Union forces under George B. McClellan outside Richmond, Virginia.

1864 American Civil War Overland Campaign: Battle of Cold Harbor – The Army of Northern Virginia under Robert E. Lee engaged the Army of the Potomac under Ulysses S. Grant & George G. Meade.

1866  In the Fenian Invasion of Canada, John O’Neill led 850 Fenian raiders across the Niagara Riveras part of an effort to  free Ireland from the English.

1872 Heath Robinson, English cartoonist, was born (d. 1944).

1884 Arrival at Plymouth of Tawhiao,  Maori king, to claim protection of Queen Victoria.

TawhiaoNLA.jpg

1889 – Johnstown Flood: Over 2,200 people died after a dam break sent a 60-foot (18-meter) wall of water over the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

1898 Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, American clergyman, was born (d. 1993).

1902 The Treaty of Vereeniging ended the second Boer War war and ensured British control of South Africa.

1910 Creation of the Union of South Africa.

1911  The ocean liner R.M.S. Titanic was launched.

1916  World War I: Battle of Jutland – The British Grand Fleet under the command of Sir John Jellicoe & Sir David Beatty engaged the Kaiserliche Marine under the command of Reinhard Scheer & Franz von Hipper in the largest naval battle of the war, which proved indecisive.

1921 Tulsa Race Riot: A civil unrest in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the official death toll was 39, but recent investigations suggest the actual toll was much higher.

1923 Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, was born (d. 2005).

1924  The Soviet Union signed an agreement with the Peking government, referring to Outer Mongolia as an “integral part of the Republic of China”, whose “sovereignty” therein the Soviet Union promised to respect.

1927  The last Ford Model T rolled off the assembly line after a production run of 15,007,003 vehicles.

1930 Clint Eastwood, American film director and actor, was born.

1935  A 7.7 Mw earthquake destroyed Quetta, Pakistan,: 40,000 dead.

1935 Jim Bolger, 35th Prime Minister of New Zealand, was born.

1938 Peter Yarrow, American folk singer (Peter, Paul and Mary), was born.

1939 Terry Waite, British humanitarian, was born.

1941  A Luftwaffe air raid in Dublin claimed 38 lives.

1942 World War II: Imperial Japanese Navy midget submarines began a series of attacks on Sydney.

1943  Zoot Suit Riots began.

1961 Republic of South Africa created.

1962 The West Indies Federation dissolved.

1962  Adolf Eichmann was hanged in Israel.

1965 Brooke Shields, American actress and supermodel, was born.

1967 Phil Keoghan, New Zealand-born US televison personality, was born.

1970  The Ancash earthquake caused a landslide that buried the town of Yungay, Peru; more than 47,000 people were killed.

1971  In accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1968, observation of Memorial Day occurs on the last Monday in May for the first time, rather than on the traditional Memorial Day of May 30.

1973  The United States Senate voted to cut off funding for the bombing of Khmer Rouge targets within Cambodia, hastening the end of the Cambodian Civil War.

1975 Mona Blades, an 18 year-old htich hiker disappeared, after last being seen in an orange Datsun.

Mona Blades vanishes

1977  The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System completed.

1981  Burning of Jaffna library, Sri Lanka.

1985 Forty-one tornadoes hit Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario, leaving 76 dead.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Word of the day

May 30, 2012

Operose – done with or requiring much toil; laborious; diligent, industrious; very busy, active.


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