Separation just got harder

July 27, 2010

It’s not easy being in the SAS for the soldier or his family.

His wife and young children are at home while he’s in Afghanistan.

They prepared for his absence as best they could, including making videos of him reading stories which the children can play while he’s away.

But it’s not easy for his wife being a semi-solo mother. It’s not easy for the children who miss their father. It’s not easy for his parents, siblings, wider family and friends who miss him and worry.

It’s not easy for him either, being away for so long in a place where danger is ever present.

Thanks to Wikileaks it’s just got harder.

As Andrei says:

. . . Now Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks is basking in his moment of glory, feted by the media and casting himself as a truth teller.

But he is a traitor, whose actions will undermine the war in Afghanistan and reveal to our enemies our strategies for defeating them.

Hands up anyone thinks the world will be a better place if Afghanistan is lost?

Now if Mr Assange had revealed to the world the Taliban’s strategies and cruelties or Iranian ones that would be something.

Mind you anyone who did that would be gutted (literally not metaphorically) . . .

Leaking what is very sensitive information wasn’t striking a blow for freedom of expression; nor will it help bring peace.

It was playing politics with potentially serious consequences for the people who are trying to make a very troubled corner of the world a safer place.

Assange may have had a higher goal in mind but that will be no comfort at all to the soldier and his family for whom the war isn’t an abstract concept but a day to day reality.


You’re in the wrong place

July 27, 2010

To the unusually large number of people who’ve landed here after searching with a phrase including the word wasp, you’ve come to the wrong place.

In spite of a penchant for cryptic clues, it means nothing to me and even if it did I wouldn’t be saying anything.

Our name suppression laws appear to be inconsistent and sometimes unfair (see Keeping Stock on The Prominent Palmerstonian suspended , for example).

But breaking the law isn’t the best way to change it.


The Morning After

July 27, 2010

Happy birthday Maureen McGovern, 61 today.

The Poseidon Adventure was the first disaster movie I watched, it didn’t make crossing Cook Strait any more enjoyable.


Tuesday’s answers

July 27, 2010

Monday’s questions were chosen for Maori language week:

1. What do maui and katau  mean in English?

2. What do maunga, whenua and moana,  mean in English?

3. What do nota, hauta, rawhiti, and rato mean in English?

4. What are the Maori words for the numbers 1-10?

5.  What  do kata and aue mean in English?

(Apologies to pursits for the absence of macrons, I don’t know how to do them).

David got four right and a bonus for reasoning.

Gravedodger and G get an electronic boquet each for a clean sweep.

Robert gets a bonus for added information.

PDM got 9/10s (overloooking the spelling) and a bonus for humour and lateral thinking.

Bearhunter got 2 and 4/9s and a humour bonus.

The answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


Sab

July 27, 2010

This Tuesday’s poem is extracts from Sab  by Maria McMillan.

The sidebar has links to other Tuesday poets.

I was moved by Cheers – the poem and the explanation which followed – by Harvey McQueen at Stoatspring.

And was charmed and impressed by both Where She Comes From by Clare Beynon and the story behind it.

 This doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the other offerings, just that these two stood out.


Two hands up for Dunedin North

July 27, 2010

The race for the Labour Party candidate for Dunedin North has started with two people putting their hands up for selection so far.

Glenda Alexander,  the New Zealand Nurses Organisation national industrial adviser anounced her intention last week:

Asked why she planned to stand for the position, the convener of the Otago Local Affiliate Council of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions said the Labour Party had a positive affirmation policy for women, and women made up a significant percentage of the demographic.

 Selwyn College warden David Clark,  is also seeking selection. The ODT says:

Dr Clark will appeal to a wide range of Labour Party members and supporters in the electorate, having ties with the University of Otago and having worked for both Mr Parker and Treasury.

Dunedin North is one of the reddest seats in the country. Pete Hodgson, who has announced he will retire next year, held the seat with a majority of 7,155 in 2008.

 The selection will take place in September.


Meat sector strategy urgent

July 27, 2010

Returns to sheep farmers seem to be defying the normal rules of supply and demand.

Sheep numbers have dropped and the demand for lamb is high which ought to mean good returns to farmers but although they’re not as bad as they were they’re not as good as they ought, and need, to be.

The relatively high exchange rate and dismal returns from wool, pelts, tallow and other by-products are partly to blame. Other factors include over capacity in the meat industry and changes in eating and cooking trends.

The result is a difference between profits of $600 a hectare from sheep farming and $3,500 to $4,000 for dairying which is encouraging more dairy conversions.

However, not every sheep farm is suitable for conversion and not all farmers who could change to dairy want to. They’ll be hoping that the meat sector strategy delivers.

The initiation of the meat sector strategy is a critical step towards improved profitability within the sector, according to project Co-chairs Meat Industry Association (MIA) Chairman, Bill Falconer and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Chairman, Mike Petersen.
 
Mr Petersen says the concept of developing an overarching strategy for the meat sector was championed by the organisation previously known as Meat & Wool New Zealand during last year’s referendum debate, when farmers expressed frustration at volatile and marginal profitability.
 
“We are delighted that through the Meat Industry Association, the processor/exporter part of the sector also sees the need to do this, and is prepared to work alongside farmers in identifying the opportunities for step-change improvement.”
 
B+LNZ, MIA, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and MAF have agreed terms of reference and funding for Phase one of a two stage strategy process, which entails an overarching ‘umbrella’ study of the issues and opportunities across the sector from market to farm. Mr Petersen and Mr Falconer are optimistic that there will be a number of ‘quick-wins’ identified from that Phase one process.
 
In Phase two, willing industry participants will collaborate to adopt and implement initiatives to drive change. These may include research & innovation, market development or whole of supply-chain initiatives.
 
Mr Falconer expects Phase one to be complete in the first quarter of 2011.

Federated Farmers is backing the strategy:

“There’s a hell of a lot hinging on the meat industry strategy for New Zealand’s meat farmers,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“The really important thing is that farmers and the marketers are both seeing the highest ever in-market prices for Kiwi lamb, but they’re not benefiting from those prices. 

“The meat companies tell me they could sell double the lambs we currently produce and at these record prices too, but that’s where a massive disconnect between ‘there’ and ‘here’ kicks in.

“On-farm, sheep farmers are exiting the industry because there’s little or no profitability.  Sheep farmers are voting with their business plans in order to survive.

“We’ve now got a consensus among farmers and the processors that the industry is broken and it needs shape and form to go forward.

B+LNZ is forecasting a lamb crop of only 21 million – two million fewer than forecast last December.

That’s not only concerning for farmers because the meat industry still plays an important role in the eocnomy:

  • The New Zealand meat industry (lamb, beef, mutton, veal and co-products) is unique in the world with the great majority of production exported to overseas markets (more than 90 per cent of lamb and over 80 per cent of beef exported).
  • The New Zealand meat industry generated $5.8 billion in export revenue in 2009 – 15 per cent of New Zealand’s merchandise exports.
  • In 2009, New Zealand meat products were exported to 119 different countries.
  • Total meat production (on a bone-in basis) was 1.2 million tonnes for year ended 30 September 2009.
  • Total labour employed in the New Zealand meat industry is 72,000, which is 5 per cent of the total labour force (according to New Zealand’s 2006 Census).
  • It’s very unlikely we’ll get back to the days at the height of subsidies when we had 70 million sheep, but if  the strategy succeeds we could look forward to modest improvements in the sheep population. 

    That will  come on the back of better returns for farmers which will in turn help those who service and support them, people involved in processing and the wider economy.


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