Homeopathy vs ebola?

October 31, 2014

Understatement of the year:

Green MP Steffan Browning says giving his support to a call for the World Health Organisation to deploy homeopathic remedies to combat the Ebola epidemic in West Africa was ‘probably pretty unwise’.

Just a little unwise?

Mr Browning this week signed a petition started by Australian Fran Sheffield which calls on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to “End the suffering of the Ebola crisis. Test and distribute homeopathy as quickly as possible to contain the outbreaks.” . . .

Asked whether he thought homeopathy could cure Ebola, Mr Browning said: “It’s not for me to go down that track at all.

The World Health Organisation, world health authorities are doing that.”

“They will be considering I hope absolutely every possible options to this very concerning disease.”

Asked whether that should include homeopathy, he said “Why not?”

“Internationally homeopathy is considered in some places.. I am not an expert but I assume they will look at that as much as a number of other options.” . .

You don’t have to be an expert to know this:
Embedded image permalink


Flexibility not to be feared

October 31, 2014

Employment reforms which passed into law yesterday are part of  National’s plan to create a fairer, more flexible labour market that helps lift earnings and create more jobs.

They are necessary reforms for:

1. More flexible work arrangements

Our employment law reforms will extend the rights of employees to ask for flexible work arrangements, including from the start of their employment. Current legislation only provides this option for those with caregiving responsibilities.

The law needs to reflect the diversity of different people’s employment needs in the modern, fast-changing economy in which we live. We believe all employees and employers should be able to agree on flexible work practices that suit both parties.

2. More jobs

Lowering compliance costs for small-to-medium sized businesses helps them to focus on expanding their business and creating more jobs. Last year 83,000 more jobs were added to the New Zealand economy, our unemployment rate continues to be lower than most OECD countries, and we have raised the minimum wage every year we’ve been in office. We need to keep building that momentum to help even more Kiwis into work.

3. More choice for employees

A return to good faith bargaining during employment negotiations will help prevent unnecessary, fruitless, and protracted collective bargaining that can create uncertainty for employees and employers. Our changes will give new employees more choice by no longer being forced to take union terms and conditions for their first 30 days of employment.

4. A stronger economy and higher incomes

Requiring parties to provide notice of a strike or lock-out will mean both employees and employers aren’t able to unduly disrupt the running of a business.

Enabling employees and employers to agree on flexible arrangements that work for both parties will help to lift productivity, growth, and incomes.

5. Protecting fairness at work

We’re maintaining the key protections for employees at work. Contrary to the politically-motivated claims of opponents, relaxing the current over-prescriptive and often unworkable provisions around rest and meal breaks does not override any requirements for breaks to be provided. We’ll also place clearer expectations on the Employment Relations Authority to ensure rights are upheld and timely resolution of disputes.

The opposition and unions are doing their best to show that workers should fear the changes. On the contrary they should celebrate the flexibility.

It is possible that a few employers will use changes to exploit staff.

That is always a risk but it’s not a reason to handicap the majority of employers and their staff with inflexible rules which add costs and hamper productivity.


October 31 in history

October 31, 2014

475  Romulus Augustulus was proclaimed Western Roman Emperor.

1517  Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

1587  Leiden University Library opened.

1795  John Keats, British poet, was born (d. 1821).

1822  Emperor Agustín de Iturbide attempted to dissolve the Mexican Empire.

1860 Juliette Low, American founder of the Girl Scouts (d. 1927)

1861  American Civil War: Citing failing health, Union General Winfield Scott resigned as Commander of the United States Army.

1863  The Land Wars resumed as British forces in New Zealand led by General Duncan Cameron began their Invasion of the Waikato.

1864  Nevada was admitted as the 36th U.S. state.

1876  A monster cyclone ravaged India, resulting in over 200,000 deaths.

1887  Chiang Kai-shek, Nationalist Chinese leader, former Republic of China president, was born(d. 1975).

1908 Muriel Duckworth, Canadian activist, was born (d. 2009).

1913 Dedication of the Lincoln Highway, the first road across the United States.

1913 – The Indianapolis Street Car Strike and subsequent riot began.

1917  World War I: Battle of Beersheba – “last successful cavalry charge in history”.

1918  Banat Republic was founded.

1920  Dick Francis, British jockey-turned-novelist, was born (d. 2010).

1923 The first of 160 consecutive days of 100 degrees at Marble Bar, Western Australia.

1924  World Savings Day was announced in Milan by the Members of the Association at the 1st International Savings Bank Congress (World Society of Savings Banks).

1926 Magician Harry Houdini died of gangrene and peritonitis that developed after his appendix ruptured.

1931  Dan Rather, American television journalist, was born.

1938  Great Depression: In an effort to restore investor confidence, the New York Stock Exchange unveiled a fifteen-point programme aimed to upgrade protection for the investing public.

1940   The Battle of Britain ended.

1941  After 14 years of work, drilling was completed on Mount Rushmore.

1941   The destroyer USS Reuben James was torpedoed by a German U-boat near Iceland, killing more than 100 United States Navy sailors.

1943  World War II: An F4U Corsair accomplished the first successful radar-guided interception.

1949  Bob Siebenberg, American drummer (Supertramp), was born.

1954 Algerian War of Independence: The Algerian National Liberation Front began a revolt against French rule.

1956 Suez Crisis: The United Kingdom and France began bombing Egypt to force the reopening of the Suez Canal.

1963  An explosion at the Indiana State Fair Coliseum (now Pepsi Coliseum) in Indianapolis killed 74 people during an ice skating show.

1968  Vietnam War October surprise: Citing progress with the Paris peace talks, US President Lyndon B. Johnson announced  he had ordered a complete cessation of “all air, naval, and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam” effective November 1.

1973  Mountjoy Prison helicopter escape. Three Provisional Irish Republican Army members escaped from Mountjoy Prison aboard a hijacked helicopter.

1984 Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two security guards.

1985 Keri Hulme’s novel The Bone People won the Booker Prize.

Keri Hulme’s Bone people wins Booker Prize

1986  The 5th congress of the Communist Party of Sweden was inaugurated. During the course of the congress the party name is changed to the Solidarity Party and the party ceases to be a communist party.

1994  An American Eagle ATR-72 crashed in Roselawn, Indiana, after circling in icy weather, killing 68 passengers and crew.

1996  Fokker F100  TAM Transportes Aéreos Regionais Flight 402 crashed into several houses in São Paulo, Brazil killing 98 including 2 on the ground.

1998 Iraq disarmament crisis began: Iraq announced it would no longer cooperate with United Nations weapons inspectors.

1999  EgyptAir Flight 990 crashed off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts, killing all 217 on-board.

1999 – Yachtsman Jesse Martin returned to Melbourne after 11 months of circumnavigating the world, solo, non-stop and unassisted.

2000   Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-400 Flight 006 collided with construction equipment upon takeoff in Taipei, Taiwan killing 79 passengers and four crew members.

2000 – A chartered Antonov An-26 exploded after takeoff in Northern Angola killing 50.

2000 – Soyuz TM-31 launched, carrying the first resident crew to the International Space Station. The ISS has been continuously crewed since.

2002 A federal grand jury in Houston, Texas indicts former Enron Corp. chief financial officer Andrew Fastow on 78 counts of wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice related to the collapse of his ex-employer.

2003 – Mahathir bin Mohamad resigned as Prime Minister of Malaysia and was replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, marking an end to Mahathir’s 22 years in power.

2011 – The global population of humans reached seven billion. This day is now recognised by the United Nations as Seven Billion Day.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Word of the day

October 30, 2014

Efflorescence – the action or process of developing and unfolding as if coming into flower; blossoming, blooming, period or state of flowering; fullness of manifestation;  the loss of water (or a solvent) of crystallization from a hydrated or solvated salt to the atmosphere on exposure to air; a whitish, powdery deposit on the surface of rocks or soil in dry regions; the process of efflorescing and the powder or crust so formed; a redness of the skin or an eruption (as in a rash).


Rural round-up

October 30, 2014

The rising star of beef - Keith Woodford:

With so much focus on the current dairy downturn, it is easy to miss the rising star of beef. This year beef prices have been hitting record highs, both in US and NZ dollars. Young steers and bulls are fetching anywhere between $1100 and $1600 at slaughter, depending on weight and category.

The key driver has been demand for hamburger beef from the United States. Demand from China has also been increasing.

The New Zealand Meat Industry Association has reported beef exports of 380,000 tonnes earning $2.2 billion dollars for the year ending June 2014. Since 2001, these exports have fluctuated between about 325,000 tonnes and just over 400,000 tonnes with no clear trend. Cull cows from the dairy industry have been contributing an increasing proportion of total production. . .

Launch of renewable energy initiative in Southland:

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges has today welcomed the launch of New Zealand’s first region-wide wood energy heat hub that will help fuel the Southland economy.

Wood Energy South is a joint initiative between the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and Venture Southland that will partner with local businesses, schools and healthcare facilities to help them convert to cleaner, renewable wood burning technology.

“Southland’s strong forestry and wood processing industry creates a rich source of wood fuel for the region. This project will help local businesses realise the renewable energy potential in their own back yard. . . .

Lee Valley Dam must be affordable:

Federated Farmers is urging the Government to support the Tasman District Council’s (TDC) Waimea Dam Project to prevent the critical shortage of water for urban and farming development.

“It’s not a matter of whether the dam goes ahead, it is how it goes ahead,” says Martin O’Connor, Federated Farmers Nelson provincial president.

“We are living in a catch 22, because the build is likely to cost irrigators $520 per hectare and increase rates by 11 cents per cubic metre a year, but our rural and urban communities cannot survive without it. . .

 Testing the mobile cow shed – Milking on the Moove:

It’s been a busy month testing out the mobile cowshed. I took this video about a month ago & I have only now found the time to put it up. I’ve been getting a few requests for a video.

It’s just a quick look at how the system works. I’m still in the testing phase & we are ironing out all the little issues. 

At the moment I’m only milking 8 cows & the neighbours are taking the milk to feed to their calves.
I can’t start selling our milk until I have been approved by the ministry of primary industries. That journey is turning out to be a bit of a drama, but I’ll write about that another day. . . .

Sanford takes on KiwiNet Business Challenge to uncover new processing technologies for mussels:

Sanford Limited is taking on a KiwiNet Business Challenge to uncover novel proposals for high-speed automated technologies that will help it process its current daily rate of 1.5 million mussels. Today, researchers at New Zealand’s public research organisations will be pitching ideas to improve mussel processing in Nelson at the Aquaculture NZ Research Workshop in a bid to win $5,000 of prototype development funding and the opportunity to work with Sanford to develop their solution for commercial application.

Sanford’s Aquaculture Manager Ted Culley says, “Processing as many molluscs as we do presents all sorts of challenges. This a great opportunity for us and others in the aquaculture industry to uncover some novel ideas with commercial potential. While we’re looking for a winning idea, we’re keen to investigate all good ideas, so we may end up with more research projects.” . . .

New fund to assist the growth of New Zealand dairy farming:

Dairy farmers looking to grow their family business will soon have access to a new source of funding, with the launch of an innovative new investment vehicle, the NZ Dairy Farming Trusts.

The Trusts – a joint venture between New Zealand farm investment company MyFarm Limited and German alternative-fund manager Aquila Capital – is seeking to raise up to $100 million from international and domestic wholesale investors. **

The initiative is aimed at providing the New Zealand dairy industry with much needed new capital in order to realise its economic potential. The fund plans to lend money at interest rates tied to milk and land prices, providing dairy farmers with alternative to taking on equity partners. . . .

Ballance moves to science specialisation:

With New Zealand farming systems as diverse as farmers themselves, Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ Science Extension team is making the shift to specialist roles to better support the changing requirements of farmers working with different climates, topography, soil types and farm types.

Science Extension Manager Ian Tarbotton says knowledge about soils, fertiliser, forages and nutrient budgets is fundamental to support farmers in reaching their goals, and the demand for more specialised knowledge is growing rapidly.

“We have two driving factors. First, higher environmental demands mean farmers are now working within tighter controls around nutrient management and protecting water quality. There is no one simple solution for each farm and it is not just a case of managing fertiliser. Feeding regimes, stocking rates, stock movements and soil types all have an influence and they will vary from farm to farm. . .

 

Ballance Ward B Election draws record field:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ call last month for director nominations for its Ward B has yielded 9 candidates hoping to replace Dean Nikora who resigned as a director ahead of taking up an international posting.

Ballance Chairman, David Peacocke, says he is delighted that Ward B shareholders have such a strong field of candidates to choose from and he believes that 9 is a record.

“The strong field indicates that we have shareholders who recognise this is an excellent opportunity to contribute to the governance of our co-operative, which is close to being a $1 billion business in terms of revenue. Having high quality candidates for director vacancies is vital to the success of our co-operative, and the response to our call for nominations has certainly achieved that. We have a very good mix with six men and three women seeking election. . .


Thursday’s quiz

October 30, 2014

1. Who said: Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.?

2. Who wrote the poem Dulce et Decorum Est and what is its final line?

3. It’s pays in French, paese in Italian, pais in Spanish and whenua in Maori, what is it in English?

4.  When  was New Zealand’s current flag officially adopted?

5. Do you want a new flag and if so what should it look like?


Immoral’s not illegal

October 30, 2014

Young men boasted about raping drunk teenagers on Facebook.

Police investigated but have decided not to lay charges.

Police have completed a multi-agency investigation, Operation Clover, into the activities of a group calling themselves “The Roast Busters”. The 12 month enquiry focused on incidents involving allegations of sexual offending against a number of girls in the Waitemata Police district and wider Auckland area.

Following a lengthy and complex investigation, charges are not being laid by Police at this time regarding 8 incidents involving 7 victims and 5 suspects.

The officer in charge of Operation Clover, Detective Inspector Karyn Malthus, says this is a carefully considered decision taking into account a range of factors:

“These include the evidential test as required under the Solicitor General’s prosecution guidelines. These state that there must be a reasonable prospect of conviction for police to initiate a prosecution. Other factors included the wishes of individual victims, the admissible evidence available, the nature of the offence and the age of the parties at the time of the offending.

A substantial review of the cases has also been undertaken by the Auckland Crown Solicitor, which has been taken into account by Police in reaching its decision.

“Throughout the investigation the priority was for the welfare and privacy of the girls involved, and ensuring that all support options were made available to them.

“We have emphasised to both the victims and suspects that there is no time limit for reporting sexual offending.

“This is an important message to potential victims who have decided not to seek police assistance at this time.” said Ms Malthus.

Detective Superintendent Andy Lovelock, who provided oversight of Operation Clover, says Police is taking the rare step of releasing the investigation overview report written by Ms Malthus:

“We are doing this to provide transparency and assist the public in understanding the complexities involved, plus the steps taken by the Operation Clover team.

“The investigation was a sustained focus for 12 months and I am satisfied that every investigative avenue available to the team has been fully explored.

“Should any further disclosures be made they will be assessed on a case by case basis and investigated appropriately.” said Mr Lovelock.

Investigation approach

Operation Clover commenced in November 2013 with support from Child Youth and Family (CYF), and the Auckland service provider HELP- Support for Sexual Abuse Survivors.

At its peak, the multi-agency team comprised over 20 staff, including 13 specialist police investigators.

Operation Clover adopted a mass allegation framework for the canvassing of all girls. Child Protection Protocols between Police and CYF were followed for girls under 17. The Adult Sexual Assault Investigation protocol was followed for girls over 17.

Canvassing phase

• 110 girls canvassed.

• 44 girls re-approached for clarification.

• 25 girls invited to provide formal statements.

• 5 girls provided formal statements.

Operation Clover began with an extensive analysis of social media. This identified girls who appeared to be engaged in online discussions that were cause for concern. As a result of this analysis and other referrals 110 girls were identified for follow up action.

Forty-four of these 110 girls were then re-approached to better understand the information or disclosures obtained.

This resulted in formal interviews being requested from 25 of the 44 girls. Following extensive consideration by these 25 girls and their parents/caregivers, the majority declined to engage in a formal interview process.

Formal complaints

• 8 incidents involving 7 victims were identified and investigated, including 2 of the complaints received prior to the commencement of Operation Clover.

While no offences were excluded, the principal offences investigated were:

1) Sexual Violation – Rape and Unlawful Sexual Connection. (S128B Crimes Act 1961)

2) Sexual Conduct with young person under 16 (S134 Crimes Act 1961)

Persons of interest and suspects phase

• 30 persons of interest identified as persons of interest.

• 5 males identified as suspects

In total 35 males were considered by Operation Clover. Persons of interest were those against whom formal complaints had not been received, however their behaviour was of interest and warranted further enquiry.

We want to be clear that the basis for interviews of the majority of these individuals was hearsay and rumour. There is little evidence in existence to accuse the majority of persons of interest of being engaged in criminal sexual offending.

Of the 35, the culpability of 5 suspects was considered for prosecution.

Other investigative activity

The investigation included the analysis of computers, smart phones, internet accounts and social media activity and evidence gathered by way of search warrants and production orders. Support for the investigation team included the police Online Child Exploitation Across New Zealand (OCEANZ) team, and the police Electronic Crime Laboratory (ECL).

Wider issues arising from Operation Clover

Detective Inspector Malthus says Operation Clover has highlighted some significant issues for New Zealand:

“The investigation overview report cites research by the Auckland service provider HELP- Support for Sexual Abuse Survivors in partnership with the Tu Wahine Trust. Their research suggests that there are many barriers which young people feel in relation to the disclosure of sexual violence to adults.

“The prevalence of alcohol in the lives of the teenagers interviewed, both male and female, was a concern to the Operation Clover team.

“There was also a poor understanding amongst the males and females spoken to as what ‘consent’ was. In addition there was an equally poor understanding by these teenagers as to the role alcohol consumption played in potentially negating the ability to consent.

“It is suggested that sexual education programmes may be enhanced by raising the emphasis around the issues of consent particularly when linked to alcohol and drugs and the ability of individuals to provide informed consent.” said Ms Malthus.

 

 

Police Commissioner Mike Bush says:

Operation Clover has been a priority investigation which has utilised all the expert resources needed within Police and our support agencies.

I have taken a close interest in this investigation and I am confident police have conducted a thorough and professional enquiry in what has been a challenging and complex case. The Operation Clover team has ensured that victims have been the primary concern throughout.

I accept that the decision not to lay charges will prompt a range of reactions. The behaviour of this group caused a significant public response and there was a strong expectation in the minds of many that a prosecution would result.

I also acknowledge that questions remain around the initial handling of the investigation prior to the commencement of Operation Clover. We must await the outcome of the IPCA investigation into these matters before we can address these questions. We put victims at the centre of everything we do and we will consider the IPCA report very carefully.

The investigation overview report of Detective Inspector Karyn Malthus, together with the research report from the service provider HELP – Support for Survivors of Sexual Abuse in partnership with Tu Wahine Trust, highlights some difficult issues for our communities. An example is the barriers which young people experience in disclosing unwanted sexual activity to adults. . . .

These are complex issues and I am committed to ensuring that, with our focus on prevention, police will play its part in addressing them with our partner agencies.

We know that sexual assault in all age groups is under-reported. I am committed to ensuring that victims of all ages have trust in police and they can be assured their complaint will be thoroughly and professionally investigated.

I would like to acknowledge Detective Inspector Malthus and the Operation Clover team for their commitment to this 12 month enquiry. I would also like to thank our support agencies including CYF and HELP – Support for Survivors of Sexual Abuse for their expert assistance and support.

The police report is here.

It appears that reluctance on behalf of at least some victims could have made it difficult for police to gather enough evidence to be confident of gaining a prosecution.

This  isn’t uncommon in rape cases.

It’s easy for those of us not involved to judge the perpetrators guilty from the information that has been made public.

But immoral behaviour isn’t necessarily illegal and something that looks like illegal behaviour isn’t necessarily enough to secure a conviction.

There might not be sufficient evidence to prosecute, but there is enough in the public domain to justify calling the whole episode shameful.

There are also lots of questions left unanswered, some of which are difficult to canvas without appearing to blame the victims.

Whatever the provocation, there is no excuse for rape and being too drunk to say no is too drunk to give consent.


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