People do read election flyers

November 20, 2008

I’ve often wondered if anyone actually reads election flyers but at least two people do because they complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about the contents of a couple from Act.

Family Party candidate Samuel Dennis objected to Act’s claim that it was the only party opposed to the Emissions Trading Scheme when his party was too.

The ASA received a complaint from another recipient disputing claims Act made comparing violent crime in New Zealand and the USA.

Both complaints were upheld.


Final sting?

November 20, 2008

Does this mean  The Hive  was only resting or has Queen Been just popped back for a final sting?


Busted Blonde’s v short holiday

November 20, 2008

Just six days ago Busted Blonde announced Roarprawn was going on a blog holiday and would be some time. 

But she’s back already and promising some fishy tales.

Anyone for scampi?


Thou shalt . . .

November 20, 2008

North & South asked readers to invent some new Commandments for the modern age.

They liked Neither wear your jeans too tight nor too baggy but the prize went to W. Johns for several suggestions which included:

Thou shalt not worship thy plasma flatscreen nor covert thy neighbour’s iPhone.

Thou shalt not propagate chain emails (even forsooth the most heartrending ones).

Thou shalt not dominate dinner-party conversations with endless debate over which school to send your children to.

I can see the merits in these and I’ve come up with some more:

Thou shalt RSVP by the due date (thanks for reminding me ex-expat).

Thou shalt return the books you borrow.

Thou shalt not let your cell phone take prescedence over the person you’re with.

Thou shalt not shout in to your cell phone in a public place.

Thou shalt delete addresses on emails before forwarding and blind copy if sending to any more than a few people who know each other well.

Thou shalt accept that politics is a difference of opinion not a war.

Thou shalt accept that being different isn’t necessarily being wrong.

Thou shalt disagree with issues without getting personal.

Though shalt not honk thy horn when approaching a mob of sheep on the road nor shalt thou stop in the middle of it to take photos.

Thou shalt give your name and number clearly at the start and end of a message left on an answerphone.

Thou shalt not speed up when thou gets to a passing lane after travelling below the speed limit before it.

Thou shalt not inflict thy bad mood on innocent bystanders.

Thou shalt offer to let the person behind you at the checkout go first if s/he has just a couple of items and thous hast a trolley load.

Thou shalt remember – and use – your manners.


Wholesome image not sexy enough for sales

November 20, 2008

Hayley Westenra  gets a round of applause from me for resisting demands to present a sexier image to boost sales of her recordings.

Kiwi soprano Hayley Westenra has taken a stand against the music industry, saying she ‘refuses to dress like a tart’ to sell records.

The 21-year-old singer claims she has been in a battle with her record company over her wholesome image.

“Oh there’s definitely the pressure,” says Hayley’s mother Jill. “You’ve only just got to see the artists that are in the media all the time and why they’re in the media and you can see it works.”

Unlike other young performers who have happily morphed from starlet to sexpot, Westenra has staunchly refused.

“Occasionally, I have had to stand my ground on image issues,” she says. “I am not a tarty person and I don’t wear those clothes when I am out, so I don’t wear them to perform or for interviews either.”

Hayley’s not the only star to take a stand against unreasonable demands to conform to an image. Deborah at In A Strange Land found this story on actress Emma Thompson who threatened to quit her role in a movie when she heard co-star Haley Attwell had been told to lose weight for her role. 

In contrast to mainstream cinema’s rollcall of skinny leading ladies with washboard chests, Atwell looks sensual, womanly and normal as a result. “This is where I get a bit fundamentalist, I’m afraid,” says Thompson, a long-time feminist and activist.

“It’s no joke: I would have made a big fat fuss and walked off.” She laments the body fascism of the film industry and, indeed, of society in general. So what can be done?

“Put on weight and say, ‘F..k off!”‘

Her eyes flash. “March into a store that doesn’t stock 38D bras and say, ‘I want a 38D bra or I’m never coming here again!’ If anyone larger than a size eight appears in a film, go and see it. Which is all my films, by the way,” she says with a smile.

“But the fact that Hayley listened to me was the real revolution here. She could have lost confidence and said, ‘I’d better lose a stone’, but she didn’t.”

 

The stands taken by these women are small steps on the long road to the respect for personal modesty and acceptance of healthy body shapes as normal.


Animal protection law could hurt farmers

November 20, 2008

Candaian farmers are concerned that a new law to protect animals could lead to abuses and hurt farmers.

Changes to Ontario’s animal cruelty laws risk giving too much unchecked power to protection agencies and causing problems for farmers trying to do their jobs, critics charged today.

Under a bill passed by the Ontario legislature today, people who abuse animals will face jail, stiffer fines and a lifetime ban on animal ownership. The act also creates exemptions for wildlife, agriculture and veterinary practices.

But Progressive Conservative Randy Hillier said the bill gives police powers to animal welfare officers with no oversight or accountability, and he’s worried that will lead to abuses as well as problems for farmers.

“The (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) enforcement officers only require two weeks of training before they get police powers, and to understand animal husbandry and livestock care takes far greater than two weeks,” said Hillier, who represents Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington. “To convey all this authority onto a novice with two weeks of police training, and take away any political accountability — we’re just asking for trouble.”

Former Conservative Bill Murdoch, now sitting as an Independent for the farming community of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, said he’s not comforted by the exclusion of standard farm practices from the Animal Protection Act because city people don’t always understand what farm work entails.

“It says on the bill you can’t cause distress to an animal. Well, you know, sometimes the farming things we have to do might cause a bit of distress, and somebody from the city wouldn’t even understand that,” Murdoch said. “I’ve heard some of the vets get complaints from people that drive up from the city because the cattle are standing outside in the rain or in the snow, (saying) those animals should be inside. Nowadays, cattle live outside all winter.”

Animal welfare is a top priority for good farmers but some normal practices cause distress.

Tailing is an example, but leaving the tails on lambs risk them suffering from fly strike later which would be far worse than being docked.

And ignnorance can cause a perception of cruelty which is totally unfounded. Tourists sometimes complain that farm dogs aren’t fed properly because they look thin compared with pampered pets. What they don’t realise is that they’re comparing canine athletes with couch potatoes.


PPI inputs and outputs up again

November 20, 2008

The high cost of fuel was the main contributer to the increase in producers’ prices in the September quarter.

Producers’ output prices went up 2.8% and input prices rose 3.7%

The wholesale trade outputs index rose 4.3 percent in the September 2008 quarter. In the year to September the wholesale trade outputs index rose 17.3 percent, the largest annual increase since the series began in the June 1994 quarter.

The wholesale trade inputs index rose 8.1 percent in the latest quarter, with higher imported crude oil prices being the major driver of this movement. In the year to the September 2008 quarter, the wholesale trade inputs index rose 25.2 percent, which is also the largest annual increase since the series began.

Increases in the price of milk at the farmgate and the price of  dairy manufacturing inputs were second to fuel in contributing to the increases in the input and output indexes.

The outputs price for dairying increased 24.4% and the inputs for dairy manufacturing  went up 20.2%.

Overall the PPI outputs index rose 9.8 percent and the inputs index rose 13.6 percent in the year to September.


NZ poorly served by Kyoto negotiators

November 20, 2008

The Emissions Trading Scheme is seriously flawed  and must be deferred engineer John de Beuger says.

There isn’t much low-hanging fruit left to pick when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint.

We already have a high percentage of hydro renewables, and because our animals are free-range and grass fed (not corn fed in feed lots), our agriculture is close to world-best practice.

We can certainly improve in transport, but this will cost.

With no other country even thinking about carbon footprints during the current financial crisis, why are we so hellbent on cutting our throats? This country was very badly served by our Kyoto negotiators.

Take two simple examples – exporting logs and mowing the lawn.

If two ships, one with imported oil and the other with export logs, pass each other outside the Port of Tauranga, under current Kyoto rules we get dinged for both – because we are going to burn the oil, and we have cut down the trees.

Compare this with an oil tanker passing a coal exporter outside Sydney harbour.

Under current Kyoto rules, Australia doesn’t get dinged for exporting coal – which is the main global warming culprit.

Meanwhile New Zealand cops it for exporting plantation forestry trees, which are good news for the planet.

To show how truly stupid the Kyoto Protocol is for food-exporting countries like New Zealand, agricultural consultant Robin Grieve has calculated that mowing a lawn with a motor mower is six times better for the environment than letting sheep graze it. (The environmental impact of sheep, as defined by Kyoto, is 19.65kg carbon-equivalent compared with a lawn mower’s 3.107kg of carbon – i.e., a sheep is 6.3 times worse for the environment than a lawn mower.)

It gets worse. The methane emissions of livestock have been seriously misrepresented because, over time, pasture grass is carbon neutral – whether it is eaten or not.

Grass grows in the spring and summer, and dies back in the autumn after flowering.

If it isn’t eaten, then depending on the decay process, it releases the CO2 it absorbed during its growth back into the atmosphere.

If cattle eat the grass, and live for several years before being slaughtered, they are acting like trees in the sense of temporarily storing carbon that would have been emitted by decay if they hadn’t eaten the grass.

During digestion, a cow discharges methane equivalent to one-third of the carbon consumed, while the other two-thirds is stored in their body until they end up on a hook at the works.

Cows are thus temporary carbon sinks – a simple truth that one might have thought was self-evident to the Kyoto negotiators.

Carbon credits should accrue to grass-fed meat producers, not penalties.

But no, we are dinged for the methane cattle emit because our negotiators misunderstood something as simple as the carbon life cycle of grass.

Under current rules we will be penalised for our agriculture – as well as achieving an own goal by exporting our energy-efficient production to Asia, where the predominant source of energy is coal.

If other countries are not prepared to sacrifice their livelihoods, why should we? In Canada, Stephen Harper has just been re-elected after reneging on Canada’s Kyoto Protocol commitment over synthetic crude oil.

Extracting the dirty oil from Alberta’s tar sands leaves a footprint three times greater than normal crude.

Similarly, in the wake of the global credit crunch, any resolve in Europe to make meaningful emission reductions is crumbling by the day.

Although the European Union ETS only covers about 40% of European emissions, they are fearful that the cost of emission reductions will force energy-intensive industry to exit Europe and set up in parts of the world where there will be no carbon charge.

Never mind about China – they will cheat anyway.

The rules affecting agriculture under the Kyoto Protocol are wrong.

With the agricultural sector being so important to our economy, it is clear that Kyoto 2 seriously needs sorting out.

That’s why deferment of the current ETS is essential.

Act New Zealand’s insistence on setting up a special select committee to investigate the mess is correct.

We can’t afford to get it wrong.

As a small player in this fraught business, it is ridiculous for New Zealand to be a leader – rather than a follower.

It would be lunacy for John Key to adopt a scheme that is so obviously flawed, and shoots us in the foot for no environmental benefit whatsoever.

Agriculture is one of the most important sectors in our economy yet we’re the only country to include it in our Kyoto commitment. The looming economic crisis may well help us because because if other countries put their economies before their Kyoto commitments, many of which will do little or nothing to improve the environment, we will be able to renegotiate our commitments too without being penalised.

We’ve been very poorly served by past negotiations but we can take some comfort from the knowledge that the new Minister for Climate Change negotiations, Tim Groser, has both the will and skills to ensure we’re better served in negotiations from now.


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