Religious minority victims of violence


TV3 reports  that people from a religious minority have been victims of violence in India.

Indian church leaders have said that Christians killed in recent clashes were “sacrificial lambs” targeted by hard-line Hindus seeking an advantage in upcoming national elections.

The All India Christian Council said the toll after nearly two months of sporadic violence has reached 59 dead and 50,000 displaced. Officials in the eastern state of Orissa, site of the worst violence, say 34 people have been killed.

The recent violence began after Hindu activists blamed Christians for the slaying of a Hindu leader killed in Orissa on August 23. Retaliatory attacks left scores dead, dozens of churches destroyed and thousands of people homeless, despite the government’s claim that Maoists killed the Hindu leader.

I’d have thought a religion which holds cows sacred might have a similar regard for people. But then, is there any greater hypocrisy than that which prompts people to use a creed that promotes the sanctity of life as an excuse for violence?

But I thought it was . . .


The mispronunciation of anemone as an enemy several times in a TV programme has inspired John Ansell to compile a list of the most mispronounced words in the English language.


I entered the conversation with a little hesitancy because there are a few words I mispronounced for years.


I was well into adulthood before I discovered halcyon was not haleycon (which I’d somehow associated with Haley Mills starring in a movie as a woman called Summer).


It was only while doing a radio book review that I realised it was badinage and not as I’d always read it bandiage (because I associated it with bandying words).


I could perhaps blame those two on the fact I’d seen them written but hadn’t heard them spoken. But that doesn’t explain why I thought the prayer my brothers & I recited every night was asking God to pity mice implicitly and not pity my simplicity.


Nor does it explain why I thought Puff the Magic dragon had a friend called Frolicin the Ottumis until someone pointed out to me that Peter, Paul and Mary had been singing frolicked in the autumn mists . . .  

Saturday’s smiles


This seemed an appropriate story for the middle of an election campaign:

An old man and a young boy were travelling through their village with
their donkey.


The boy rode on the donkey and the old man walked.  As they went along they passed some people who remarked it was a shame the old man was walking and the boy was riding. 


The man and boy thought maybe the critics were right, so they changed positions.  Later, they passed some people who remarked, “What a shame, he makes that little boy walk.”

They then decided they both would walk. 


Soon they passed some more people who thought they were stupid to walk when they had a decent donkey to ride. So, they both rode the donkey. 


Now they passed some people who shamed them by saying “how awful to put such a load on a poor donkey”.

The boy and man said they were probably right, so they decided to carry the donkey.  But as they crossed a bridge, they lost their grip on the animal and he fell into the river and drowned.

The moral of the story?

If you try to please everyone, you might as well kiss your ass good-bye.


Clean, green and childfree


If you thought it was getting a bit too personal when they got into our showers, it’s getting worse – now they’re getting in to bed with us.

The Green Party population policy isn’t only telling us how many children we should have, it wants to tell us how to space them.

The policy proposes setting a level of population New Zealand could sustain and leaving room within that for climate change refugees from Pacific Islands.

It also wants parents educated about the impacts of population growth when they are planning their family size and how far apart to have children.

The policy is off the planet, so too is the explanation by Keith Locke when he says the policy has been misinterpreted.

“There is no way the Green Party would ever dictate to any parent how many children they should have,” he said. “Every child is a loved and wanted child. It would also be racist to try to dictate family size, given that the various ethnic groups in our society have different birthrates.”

Sadly, Keith, not every child is loved and wanted but that’s a social problem not an environmental one. And ethnicity is irrelevant. If you think something which would be of environmental concern if caused by one group, wouldn’t be if it’s caused by another it’s you who’s being racist.

New Zealand isn’t over populated. As Kiwiblog points out, if we have a population problem at all it’s that our fertility rate is below the 2.1 children per woman needed if the population is to remain static so we’re already going backwards.

This policy also sabotages their billboards because they now give a new message: vote for me – just one child, just like China – not for us.

It also reinforces the message the Greens are for the planet but not for people. Their perfect world would be clean, green and childfree.

Best case worst case


Idealog interviewed David Skilling, chief executive of the NZ Institute on his views on the economy.

You can read it in full here, so I’ll just give a taste with his view of the worst case outlook for New Zealand:

I think the worst case is not terrible, catastrophic, Third World status. Worst case, I think, is probably Fiji with snow: bit of agriculture, a bit of tourism, friendly people, half-decent rugby team. And that’s pretty much New Zealand. So it’s not terrible.

But on current course and speed, there’s going to be a 60 percent income gap between ourselves and Australia in 20 years’ time.

And the best:

I don’t see any reason we couldn’t overtake Australian incomes within the next 20 years or so. Australia only overtook us 30 years ago. If we wanted to invest heavily in our primary and secondary industries, but also in education, R&D, and high speed broadband; if we had a real view about growing firms and attracting firms from overseas; and if we create an environment that’s conducive to the growth of scale firms, then, yeah, I think it’s possible.

It’s really up to us. Many of the trends globally are breaking in our direction. We need to seize the opportunities.

Rhetoric not realised


Remember Labour’s 1999 promise to transform the economy?

Victor Heeringa looks at what’s happened in reality and he’s not impressed.

The greatest failure, in my view, is that Labour’s rhetoric about transformation has proven to be just that. Fancy talk.

He was writing in the September-October issue of Idealog which is now on line so you can read it  in full by following the link above.

Playing politics to retain power


Inquiring Mind covers a column by Fran O’Sullivan (which isn’t on line) which accuses Helen Clark and Michael Cullen of playing politics to retain power.

There’s nothing unusual about that, but some things should be above politics and economic stability is one of them.

RESERVE Bank Governor Alan Bollard must openly tell the Government to stop playing politics and guarantee the trading banks’ foreign funding lines, before they ration lending and stall the New Zealand economy.

Labour has put politics before principle on numerous occasions and politicised the public service but the consequences of that have never been as serious as they are now.

So far, this Government has reduced Bollard to a well-paid eunuch as it announces policies for political effect on the election campaign trail, instead of forming a statesmanlike response to the international crisis.

You can read more at Inquiring Mind.

Update: Fran O’Sullivan’s column is now on line here.

Generation gap 2


John Roughan’s column is worth reading in full  .

It’s one of few realistic views on student fees, allowances and costs I’ve read and concludes:

Announcing their living allowance would gradually lose its parental means test, Helen Clark said her “dream has always been to enable our young people to have the kind of support that my generation had”.

Her dream is unduly romantic; our generation did not live as well at university as today’s students do. A student of today dropped into a campus of 1970 would notice the clothing, vehicles, bookshops, cafeteria food and general surroundings much plainer and poorer.

About the only thing more lively in 1970 was the politics and it would strike today’s students as immature. It was generationally embarrassing in Tuesday night’s television debate when Helen Clark could not believe John Key had not taken sides on the 1981 Springbok Tour.

It is not hard to believe a 20-year-old commerce student with conservative views and a new girlfriend was among those not particularly interested. He spans the generation between me and my kids and makes mine seem suddenly dated.

When I consider the economy we have given them, it is not tertiary costs and their debt that I regret, it is the housing debt they face because the baby boomers never learned to invest in anything more productive. Most of my generation never learned to invest in themselves. That’s the difference.

And is one of the reasons too many of my generation – for I’m a baby boomer – didn’t invest in themselves is because we were brought up with governments doing too much for us?

I think that’s part of the problem and one of the reasons we should be very careful of Labour and other parties on the left who think the government should do more because we’ll pay dearly for it.

Generation gap 1


The Herald editorial points out that the issues of one generation are lost on another.

Since the 1981 Springbok tour, there has, in fact, been no episode that any generation could regard as being of a similar defining nature. Could it be that such a signal event has now arrived?

Generations have been able to immerse themselves in a world dominated by computer technology, the web, galloping globalisation, deregulation and a rising Asian influence without economic hardship or even fear of its intrusion.

The dramatic events of the past few weeks have changed all that. Governments have remade the economic landscape. The worst may be yet to come. If so, this could, indeed seem to be an episode of unarguable importance. But will it be so when prosperity returns? And will questioning during a 2035 leaders’ debate of a candidate’s attitude to it appear largely beside the point?

I’d disagree with the statement that there has been nothing of a defining nature since 1981 because the ag-sag of the mid to late 80s was a defining issue for me.

But that proves the Herald’s point that what was important for some wasn’t  and isn’t necessarily for others, especially if they were young or not even born when it happened.

Alliance expands in north


The Alliance Group has bought a second meat plant in the North Island, Levin Meats.

This is expected to double the company’s sheep and lamb killing capacity in the north and allow it to process cattle there for the first time.

Long term plan needed


The ODT is looking for a long term plan to get us out of the economic mire but isn’t impressed by either National or Labour:

Both major parties in this country are embarked on a short-sighted spending spree to buy votes at a time when the country cannot afford it and may be even less able to meet the cost in the years ahead, if the official forecasts are to be believed.

It is not a responsible approach to the looming problems, nor is it indicative of a sense that the parties have a clear plan to ensure growth in the economy is going to be backed by the production of exports.

So far Labour’s plans concentrate on more redistribution.

But National’s philosophy and policies are firmly fixed on the need for economic growth.

Boutique cheese growing business


Whitestone Cheese opened a new 300sq metre distribution centre and chiller last night and today launches three new cheeses.

The goats milk cheeses will be launced at Riverstone Kitchen tonight.

The varieties all have North Otago names – Parson’s Rock (near Otematata) is a brie-style, Danseys Pass is a pressed white mould and Duntroon a pressed wax.

Organised crime behind melamine milk poisoning


Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefing papers suggest organised crime was behind the melamine poisoning of milk in China.

“The Chinese milk supply has been targeted by Chinese organised crime, which has been adding as a byproduct of the chemical industry, melamine, to raw milk supplied to processing plants,” the paper said.

“The harmful impact on consumers, particularly Chinese infants who are the most at-risk group, is the most serious concern,” the paper said.

. . . San Lu which makes infant formula and in which Fonterra has a 43% stake was one of the companies chich inadvertently used poisoned milk.

The document has been released to the Weekend Herald under the Official Information Act, although large chunks of the report had been deleted.

Among the deleted sections was one on New Zealand’s “international responsibilities”, while another missing piece covered the response by Chinese authorities to Fonterra’s concerns about the milk.

However, part of the paper indicates tension between Fonterra and Chinese authorities.

“Fonterra advises that by mid-September all of the adulterated product should have been accounted for or consumed,” the paper told the Government.

“This suggests that despite the authorities’ reticence to support a full product recall, Sanlu/Fonterra have managed to achieve a similar outcome through a variety of other methods.”

That supports Fonterra which says they did everything they could once they knew there was a problem.

The company has always said its first concern was the chidlren who were poisoned and their families but there were also concerns over its, and New Zealand’s reputation.

However, The Hive  quotes from another Herald story (which isn’t on line) that says that in China it’s Australia which is being associated with the scandal rather than New Zealand.

Perhaps we can thank Cactus Kate for that.

21 more sleeps . . .


. . . until the election and Labour’s pledges are $3.65 billion more expensive  than National’s.

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