Chinese dairy companies apologise

October 13, 2008

Three Chinese dairy companies have apologised for their part in the melamine poisoning of milk used for infant formula.

Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group, Mengniu Dairy and Bright Dairy Group were earlier found to have produced milk contaminated with melamine.

The scandal has savaged the companies’ share prices and prompted Seattle-based coffee chain Starbucks to pull Mengniu milk from its 300-plus stores last month.
  
Chinese health officials say nearly 10,700 infants and children are still in hospital after drinking milk and formula contaminated with melamine.

Still no more than four dead – I hope that is the true number and not a result of censorship.


Everything comes at a cost

October 13, 2008

More in your pocket may come at a cost.

This is the headline on an ODT opnion piece by Elizabeth Mackie, a Dominican Sister, who is writing on behalf of the Dominican Mission and Justice Committee.

She concludes by saying:

I’d like to offer a simple checklist to help us vote beyond the rhetoric of tax cuts.

If tax cuts come with increased government borrowing and debt, the cost is too high.

If tax cuts further limit the resources available for protecting species, or taking care of national parks and wild places, or protecting the Earth itself, the cost is too high.

If tax cuts mean that fewer resources will be applied to address climate change, the cost is too high.

If the billions spent on tax cuts mean that less is available to meet historic Treaty claims, the cost is too high.

If tax cuts result in increased numbers of children living in poverty, the cost is too high.

If tax cuts are achieved through reduction in health, education and social support services, the cost is too high.

If tax cuts reduce the nation’s capacity to habilitate prisoners and compensate victims, the cost is too high.

If tax cuts deepen divisions in the social fabric of this nation, the cost is too high.

What price tax cuts? We all need to be sure about the real costs before we tick the boxes on November 8.

If those are her priorities, then it is not only the cost of tax cuts which is too high, so too is the cost of everything else which doesn’t address the issues she’s raised.

If we look back at the last nine years of Labour’s mis-management we can see that, by Elizabeth’s criteria, the costs of much of their policy has been too high.

And today we have another one – a universal student allowance.

Keeping Stock notes the country is broke and asks: where is the money coming from?

Everything comes at a cost but good policy also brings benefits which justify the cost.

A universal student allowance is not good policy and the benefits to the few who receive it will not justify the cost to the many who pay for it.

It certainly woudn’t get any ticks when measured against Elizabeth’s checklist.


Those were the good old days

October 13, 2008

Remember way back to 2003?

Where did all the money go?

The cartoon is from20 Years of Garrick Tremain, Politics fromt he pen of a leading cartoonist, published by New Holland.


Save power without sacrificing shower

October 13, 2008

There must be better ways to save power than endangering our physical and mental wellbeing by reducing the flow in our showers to a dribble.

So here’s your chance to give free rein to your inner environmentalist, show you don’t have to sacrifice clean to be green and come up with ideas that will save the planet without sacrifcing personal hygiene and comfort.

First prize gets the biggest laugh, and to get things started here’s my contribution:

The fashion industry could take a lead by promoting the crumpled look. There must be lots of watts wasted by wanton de-wrinkling.

If the fashionistas were to press for less pressing, make the dishevelled look de rigeur and say that creases are cool we could not only save power but also the time wasted by needlessly ironing the crinkles from clothes.


Cracker crackdown is crackers

October 13, 2008

If I’m missing something here about the danger to life and limb, then please feel free, as the government always does, to save me from myself.

But I haven’t until now regarded the humble Christmas cracker as a potentially dangerous weapon.

However, Customs is reminding importers:

that under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, Christmas crackers are covered by the definition of, and controls on, the importation of fireworks.

As such Christmas crackers require a completed Certificate to Import Explosives from Erma (the Environmental Risk Management Authority) New Zealand before they may be imported into New Zealand,” the circular states.

“It is estimated that only approximately 60 percent of Christmas crackers being imported into the country obtain the required certificates.”

Christmas can be a flash point for failing family relationships and sparks do fly when the season of good will doesn’t live up to its name.

But grievous bodily harm with a bon-bon sounds more pathetic than the jokes in the average cracker.


15 farm sales fail

October 13, 2008

Neal Wallace reports that 15 farm sales fell through last week because the would-be purchasers were unable to secure finance.

A real estate company told the Otago Daily Times funding that had previously been arranged could not be secured in time.

Some of the contracts were unconditional when funding became unavailable, which meant the buyers lost their deposits, in some cases worth several hundred thousand dollars, or had to pay penalty interest. The agent asked not to be named.

For each sale that failed to settle, up to four other land and property deals were affected.

“You have to be in a really strong position to settle a rural real estate deal at the moment,” the agent said. The uncertainty had placed many farmers under enormous stress and strain.

The price of farm land has been driven up by last season’s dairy boom but steep prices weren’t only being paid for dairy farms and those suitable for conversion or dairy support. Sheep and beef farm prices also rose until they were well out of kilter with what could realisticly be made from them.

Westpac Bank chief economist Brendan O’Donovan told Jamie McKay on The Farming Show that banks wouldn’t be worrying about existing customers providing they could service their debts. But they would be looking much more closely at applications for new loans and tightening their criteria for those.


Benson-Pope not standing

October 13, 2008

David Benson-Pope is not going to stand for Dunedin South.

However, the MP did not go without a fight.

Mr Benson-Pope (58) lost the Labour Party nomination for the electorate to Dunedin public relations consultant Clare Curran in a bitter battle that continues to split the electorate.

“I acknowledge the widely-held view that the candidate selection was not in the best interest of the electorate and that little regard has been given to the very high level of voter support that I have received in five terms as a [city] councillor and three terms as the parliamentary representative of this electorate,” he said.

“In the end, however, I cannot respond to the disloyalty of a few by allowing any personal sense of betrayal to stand in the way of my political philosophy.”

His decision not to stand came after a long and difficult consideration. He urged voters to cast their party vote for the Labour Party.

His loyalty to the party doesn’t stretch to the candidate Clare Curran though because he only mentioned the party vote.

Dene Mackenzie  said Benson-Pope gave no hints about what he’d do now but options include public office – either a board appointment or election to the Dunedin City Council.

The grapevine has suggested before that he might take a tilt at the mayoralty.


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