Quote of the day

May 22, 2018

I think that if you shake the tree, you ought to be around when the fruit falls to pick it up. Mary Cassattwho was born on this day in 1844.

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May 22 in history

May 22, 2018

334 BC The Macedonian army of Alexander the Great defeated Darius III of Persia in the Battle of the Granicus.

1176 The Hashshashin (Assassins) attempted to murder Saladin near Aleppo.

1377  Pope Gregory XI issued five papal bulls to denounce the doctrines of English theologian John Wycliffe.

1455 Wars of the Roses: at the First Battle of St Albans, Richard, Duke of York, defeated and captured King Henry VI of England.

1724 Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne, French explorer  was born (d. 1772).

1762 Sweden and Prussia signed the Treaty of Hamburg.

1807 A grand jury indicted former Vice President of the United StatesAaron Burr on a charge of treason.

1807 Most of the English town of Chudleigh was destroyed by fire.

1809 On the second and last day of the Battle of Aspern-Essling (near Vienna), Napoleon was repelled by an enemy army for the first time.

1813 Richard Wagner, German composer, was born (d. 1883).

1819 The SS Savannah left port at Savannah, Georgia, on a voyage to become the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

1826  HMS Beagle departed on its first voyage.

1840 The transporting of British convicts to the New South Wales colony was abolished.

1842 Farmers Lester Howe and Henry Wetsel discovered Howe Cavernswhen they stumbled upon a large hole in the ground.

1843 Thousands of people and their cattle headed west via wagon train from Independence, Missouri to what would later become the Oregon Territory . They were part of the Great Migration.

1844 Persian Prophet The Báb announced his revelation, founding Bábism. He announced to the world the coming of “He whom God shall make manifest”

1844 – Mary Cassatt, American painter and educator, was born (d. 1926).

1846 – Rita Cetina Gutiérrez, Mexican poet, educator, and activist, was born (d. 1908).

1848 Slavery was abolished in Martinique.

1856  Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina beat SenatorCharles Sumner with a cane in the hall of the United States Senate for a speech Sumner had made attacking Southerners who sympathized with the pro-slavery violence in Kansas (“Bleeding Kansas“).

1859  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, British physician and writer, was born  (d. 1930).

1871  The U.S. Army issued an order for abandonment of Fort Kearny in Nebraska.

1872  Reconstruction: U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Amnesty Act of 1872 into law restoring full civil rights to all but about 500 Confederate sympathizers.

1884  The first representative New Zealand rugby team played its first match, defeating a Wellington XV 9-0.

First NZ Rugby team in action

1897 The Blackwall Tunnel under the River Thames was officially opened.

1903 Launch of the White Star Liner,  SS Ionic.

1906 The 1906 Summer Olympics, not now recognized as part of the official Olympic Games, opened in Athens.

1906  The Wright brothers were granted U.S. patent number 821,393 for their “Flying-Machine”.

1907 Laurence Olivier, English stage and screen actor, was born  (d. 1989).

1915 Lassen Peak eruptsed.

1915 Three trains collided in the Quintinshill rail crash near Gretna Green,, killing 227 people and injuring 246.

1936 Aer Lingus (Aer Loingeas) was founded by the Irish government as the national airline of the Republic of Ireland.

1936  M. Scott Peck, American psychiatrist and writer, was born  (d. 2005).

1939 World War II: Germany and Italy signed the Pact of Steel.

1942  Mexico entered World War II on the side of the Allies.

1942 The Steel Workers Organizing Committee disbanded, and a new trade union, the United Steelworkers, was formed.

1943 – Betty Williams, Northern Irish peace activist, Nobel Prize laureate, was born.

1946  George Best, Northern Irish footballer, was born  (d. 2005).

1947  Cold War: in an effort to fight the spread of Communism, U.S. President Harry S. Truman signed the Truman Doctrine granting $400 million in military and economic aid to Turkey and Greece, each battling an internal Communist movement.

1958  Sri Lankan riots of 1958: a watershed event in the race relationship of the various ethnic communities of Sri Lanka. The total number of deaths is estimated to be 300, mostly Sri Lankan Tamils.

1950 Bernie Taupin, English songwriter, was born.

1955 Iva Davies, Australian rock star (Icehouse), was born.

1960 An earthquake measuring 9.5 on the moment magnitude scale, now known as the Great Chilean Earthquake, hit southern Chile – the most powerful earthquake ever recorded.

1962  Continental Airlines Flight 11 crashed after bombs explode on board.

1963  Assassination attempt of Greek left-wing politician Gregoris Lambrakis.

1964 U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the goals of his Great Society social reforms to bring an “end to poverty and racial injustice” in America.

1967  The L’Innovation department store in the centre of Brussels burned down – the most devastating fire in Belgian history, resulting in 323 dead and missing and 150 injured.

1968 The nuclear-powered submarine the USS Scorpion sank with 99 men aboard 400 miles southwest of the Azores.

1969  Apollo 10‘s lunar module flew within 8.4 nautical miles (16 km) of the moon’s surface.

1970 Naomi Campbell, British model and actress, was born.

1972  Ceylon adoptseda new constitution, ecoming a Republic, changed its name to Sri Lanka, and joined the Commonwealth of Nations.

1980  Namco released the arcade game Pac-Man.

1990  Microsoft released the Windows 3.0 operating system.

1992  After 30 years, 66-year-old Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Showfor the last time.

1995 – Waikato-Tainui signed a Deed of Settlement with the Crown.

Waikato-Tainui sign Deed of Settlement with the Crown

1997  Kelly Flinn, US Air Force’s first female bomber pilot certified for combat, accepted a general discharge in order to avoid a court martial.

1998 Lewinsky scandal: a federal judge ruled that United States Secret Service agents could be compelled to testify before a grand jury.

2002 – A jury in Birmingham, Alabama, convicted former Ku Klux Klan member Bobby Frank Cherry of the 1963 murders of four girls in thebombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.

2003 Annika Sörenstam became the first woman to play the PGA Tour in 58 years.

2004  Hallam, Nebraska, was wiped out by a powerful F4 tornado (part of the May 2004 tornado outbreak sequence) that broke a width record at 2.5 miles (4.0 km) wide, and killed one resident.

2008  The Late-May 2008 tornado outbreak sequence unleashed 235 tornadoes, including an EF4 and an EF5 tornado, between 22 May and 31 May 2008. The tornadoes struck 19 US states and one Canadian province.

2011– An EF5 Tornado struck the US city of Joplin, Missouri killing 161 people, the single deadliest US tornado since modern record keeping began in 1950.

2012 – Tokyo Skytree was opened to public. It is the tallest tower in world(634 m), and the second tallest man-made structure on Earth, after Burj Khalifa (829.8 m).

2013 – British soldier Lee Rigby was murdered in a London Street.

2014 – General Prayuth Chan-ocha of the Royal Thai Armed Forces announced a military coup d’état, following six months of political turmoil.

2014 – An explosion occurred in the city ofÜrümqi, the capital of China’s far-western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, resulting in at least 43 deaths and 91 injuries.

2015 – The Republic of Ireland became the first nation in the world to legalise gay marriage in a public referendum.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


365 days of gratitude

May 21, 2018

As electronic communications proliferate, less and less comes through the post.

But magazines to savor are best of the printed variety and one of those came with today’s mail.

I haven’t had time to read it yet, but anticipation adds to the pleasure and I’m grateful for that.


Word of the day

May 21, 2018

Quire – four sheets of paper or parchment folded to form eight leaves, as in medieval manuscripts; a section of printed leaves in proper sequence after folding; gathering; any collection of leaves one within another in a manuscript or book; 25 (formerly 24) sheets of paper; one twentieth of a ream; choir.


Rural round-up

May 21, 2018

Disease reaches ‘crisis point’ – Annette Scott:

Mycoplasma bovis has reached crisis point and it’s time the Ministry for Primary Industries handed it back to farmers and support them to manage it, Mid Canterbury dairy farmer Frank Peters says.

The Peters family last week had 450 of their 1400-cow herd trucked to slaughter after just one cow tested positive for the cattle disease, now running rampant across the country.

Peters believes a lack of knowledge about M bovis is the biggest threat the disease poses to the dairy industry. . .

Farming and the Fight Against Climate Change – Veronika Meduna:

Climate friendly sheep could soon be romping around as part of the national flock as farmers take action to help reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture.

As the interim climate commission begins its work, one of its most controversial tasks is to determine how agricultural greenhouse gas emissions could be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme. At the same time, farmers have an increasing number of options to curb emissions.

On a farm south of Invercargill, a small flock of ewes that burp less methane – a potent greenhouse gas that makes up 76 per cent of emissions from the primary sector – is part of a research project to mitigate agricultural emissions. . . 

Tukituki catchment project aimed at curbing N-leaching big challenge :

A project aimed at determining how Tukituki catchment farmers will operate under new nitrogen leaching targets has found significant changes will have to made to achieve the reduced levels.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Plan Change 6 outlines Land Use Capability (LUC) nitrogen leaching rates for all farms, depending on their physical characteristics and attributes, that have to be achieved by May 2020.

Farmers unable to reach these rates could apply for resource consents provided they stay within 30 per cent of the prescribed rate. . .

Farmer plea to politicians: talk to us not at us – Andrew McGiven:

It certainly is an interesting time to be a farmer now and not necessarily for all the right reasons.

The declaration from Environment Minister David Parker that regulation is his chosen path for dealing with intensive dairying is just the latest salvo from this government that principles and ideology reign supreme over co-operation and common sense.

This comes on top of the Green element of the coalition doing all it can to include agricultural animal emissions in an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), uncertainty around the Tax Working Group and the potential requirements that Plan Change One Healthy Rivers will heap on us.

I am not surprised to see so many farms on the market right now. . .

Technology is getting CRISPR –  Daniel Kelley:

The future of farming just got a lot brighter.

On March 28, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that his department won’t add a new layer of regulations to crops that scientists have enhanced through a cutting-edge method of selective breeding. This wise decision will encourage innovation, helping producers and consumers alike—and it even holds the potential to usher in the next great revolution in food.

After half a century of farming in Illinois, I’ve endured every kind of challenge, from droughts, floods, and diseases to insect invasions and weed infestations. But what I’ll remember best about my career—and the thing for which I’m most grateful—is the stunning technological progress. Today, we have hybrid seed corn that delivers bumper crops, computer databases that overflow with information, and precision agriculture driven by satellites in the Global Positioning System. Compared to what I knew as a boy, these are incomprehensible, head-spinning technologies. . . 

Crop disease: waging modern war against an ancient foe – John Ward:

The problem of world hunger is complex and the threats to our global food supply are many. They include growing populations, loss of arable land, dwindling water supplies, and climate change.

As if these present-day challenges weren’t enough, there is another – far older – adversary that farmers have grappled with for centuries. Crop disease.

Crop losses due to pests and plant pathogens continue to rob world markets of much needed food and cost farmers billions of dollars every year.

But innovators like Ad Bastiaansen, believe that modern information technology might finally help turn the tide of battle against this ancient foe. . . 


New fund for biosecurity?

May 21, 2018

Finance Minister Grant Robertson is considering a fund like EQC to cover biosecurity breaches.

He told Mr Dann he has asked Treasury and the Ministry of Primary Industries to investigate the possibility of creating a fund that could be funded partly by the government and partly by industry.

“We can’t just sit there and wait for these things to happen. We know they’re happening more regularly and I want us to get ahead of that,” he said.

“We are in a very reactive stance when they come in. We have this with Mycoplasma bovis, and we scramble around both as a government and the industry, trying to find the money to respond to them.”

“What I’d like to see is for us to get ahead of those. . .

A Border Clearance Levy was introduced in 2016:

The introduction of the levy allows the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the New Zealand Customs Service to manage resourcing of border clearance activities as passenger numbers go up or down.  This will mean the right resources are in place to keep New Zealand safe from harmful pests, people and dangerous substances and maintain current levels of service.

That’s supposed to stop biosecurity risks at the border, it doesn’t cover dealing with, and compensating for, anything which gets past the border.

The EQC levy and a Fire Service levy,  are imposed on all insurance policies. That does let people without insurance away without paying but the rest of us pay.

While the Canterbury earthquakes have raised issues with EQC, most of us pay the levies without complaint in the knowledge that any of us could be victims of natural disasters or fires.

Farmers, horticulturalists and orchardists, and native species are those most at risk from a direct biosecurity incursions which are very different from earthquakes and fires.

There’s no way to levy our flora and fauna. It would be easier to levy farmers and growers of fruit and vegetables.

The problems and costs of dealing with and compensating for M. bovis show the need for change.

Keith Woodford identifies some of the problems in the way it’s been and is being handled:

As I write this on 20 May 2018, New Zealand is at a crucial point in deciding how to manage Mycoplasma bovis. There are no good options. The worst option is for the Government to try and be the boss.

So, who should try to manage Mycoplasma bovis?

At the national level, the answer is ‘no-one’.  Farmers must make their own business decisions and take responsibility for those decisions.

Elsewhere in the world, governments do not try to manage Mycoplasma bovis. It is up to farmers to do this.

The role of our Government should be to continue monitoring at the national level using sampling techniques. But trying to identify all infected animals so as to eradicate the disease, and even trying to limit stock movements, this will be counter-productive.  Government has neither the resources nor the expertise. And the mess will just get bigger and bigger. . . 

Gypsy Day is in a couple fo weeks, thousands of cows need to be moved for winter feed or to new farms.

Some commentators have been suggesting that we should manage the disease in the short term but still work towards long term eradication. However, the epidemiology of this particular disease is such that this is unlikely to happen. No other country of the world – and Mycoplasma bovis is present in all the main dairy producing countries – is attempting to do this.  Unless some new technologies come forward, this disease is always going to be with us.

In the long term, it may be possible to produce a vaccine for Mycoplasma bovis. However, I do not know of anyone currently working on this.

The hard reality is that all farmers now need to manage their own situation, supported by advice by their veterinarians and other rural professionals with whom they work.  We know the risk factors. It is simply a case of making sure that these risks continue to be communicated, and then decisions must be made for each farm in the context of its specific situation. . .

The M. Bovis outbreak has been mishandled from the start when MPI worked on forward tracing – of cattle going from the farms where it was first identified, rather than backward tracing to find out where it had originated.

MPI now accepts that Mycoplasma bacteria were present in New Zealand at the start of 2016. But among my informal networks, there is no-one who is confident that this is time zero. The debates that we have, based on various pieces of evidence, include whether time zero was around 2014, or whether time zero was even earlier than that.

With hindsight, it seems that the battle between Mycoplasma bovis and MPI was always going to be a victory for Mycoplasma bovis. For it to be otherwise, MPI Biosecurity would have either had to stop its first entry to New Zealand, or else have identified the first incursions before they had spread.

Clearly there have been major deficiencies in NAIT (the national animal tracing system) but this is not the reason that Mycoplasma is currently out of control. Much more fundamental to the issue is that Mycoplasma had a head start, probably of several years.

There will also need to be hard questions asked about MPI itself – not the individuals but the system. Within my networks, which include people working directly on the Mycoplasma project, there is frustration that field-level understandings get lost as messages flow up the chain.

I would like to see MPI staffed at the highest levels by specialists rather than by managers drawn from totally different fields of expertise. From the website, I can see a ten-member senior leadership team with military experience, social development experience, communications experience and even a love of ballet. But apart from one forester and one agricultural economist, I cannot see any signs of people with experience of how things actually happen out in the field, nor an understanding of relevant sciences which determines how different diseases must be attacked differently. If the expertise is there, it is not evident.

I have significant doubts as to whether lack of funding is a key cause of the current situation. More likely, it is about organisational culture. It also needs to be recognised that generic management taught in MBA type programs may not be the ideal training for a Biosecurity Unit.

Anyone who has been affected by the disease and the way it’s been handled would second this.

Questions now have to be asked as to whether or not we have appropriate systems in place in case of a foot and mouth disease outbreak. I cannot answer that.

Foot and mouth disease would play out very differently than Mycoplasma bovis. If Mycoplasma bovis is a stealth bomber, then foot and mouth disease would be a nuclear event.

With foot and mouth disease, there would need to be immediate 100 percent accurate tracing of animal movements of the preceding days and possibly weeks, but not long term historical movements. There would need to be immediate and total lockdown on all animal movements across the country. Emergency vaccinations may need to be part of the toolbox.  All scenarios would need to have been thought through in advance.

With Mycoplasma bovis, it is evident those scenario analyses were not in place, so perhaps they are also not in place for foot and mouth disease.

Coming back to the immediate issues of Mycoplasma bovis, the key constraint going forward may well be for Government itself to recognise that it does not have the capacity to either eradicate or manage Mycoplasma bovis. The idea that ‘we are the Government and we are here to help you’ may well be an oxymoron.   Can Government understand this?

There might be a case for a fund partly paid for by farmers and growers.

But not as a knee jerk reaction to problems caused by the mishandling of M. bovis.

Unless those are addressed the fund would look more like another way to sneak in a new tax.


Quote of the day

May 21, 2018

Punishment is not for revenge, but to lessen crime and reform the criminal.  – Elizabeth Fry who was born on this day in 1780.


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