Word of the day


Eirenicism/Irenicism – act or state of mind  promoting peace; theology aimed at religious unity.

Twice as many civil servants as needed


New Zealand isn’t alone in needing to trim the public service.

In Britain, Labour Peer, Lord Sugar, says the civil service has twice as many staff as it needs:

The close confidant of ex-prime minister Gordon Brown said that private companies’ use of multitasking made them much more efficient, and also suggested that a more hard-nosed approach to government procurement could save taxpayers £1billion a year.

“They employ God knows how many million civil servants, and if you spent the time that I spent in Whitehall, you do have to ask yourself sometimes what half of them are doing,” said Lord Sugar, in an interview in this week’s Radio Times. “When I compare it to my commercial organisation, we have people who multi-task, and if you applied that multi-tasking philosophy within the civil service you would cut the labour force by half.”

The public service isn’t directly comparable with private enterprise but our government’s directive to move resources from the back office to front-line services shows improvements can be made.

Interestingly Lord Sugar’s view shows some consensus between the left and right in Britain on the need to rein in the public service.

The left here is still to realise the wisdom of reducing the burden the state imposes on taxpayers.

Hat tip: Taxpayers Alliance.

Wee drop in milk price


The trade weighted index price dropped .1% in Fotnerra’s latest globalDairyTrade auction.

Changes in Price Indices Contract 1
Contract 2
Contract 3
All Contracts
Anhydrous Milk Fat (AMF) -4.9% -4.6% -4.0% -4.6%
Butter Milk Powder (BMP) n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
Skim Milk Powder (SMP) 11.5% -0.1% 0.3% 2.8%
Whole Milk Powder (WMP) -0.1% -1.5% -2.7% -1.7%
All Products (Trade-Weighted) 4.3% -1.2% -1.6% -0.1%

Hone’s having second thoughts


Hone Harawira announced on Saturday that he’d be resigning yesterday and forcing a by-election.

He’s now having second thoughts:

. . . yesterday he said he would now probably not decide until after he had further consulted his supporters in Northland.

“The people back home make the decision on where and when. So I will be taking it back to them to get their views.”

What’s happened between Saturday afternoon and now?

Could it be that Harawira is discovering that establishing a political party and fulfilling the requirements of registration take considerably more organisational ability than he’s got?

Or has he done the maths?

Being a leader of a party in parliament would give him considerably more money than being an independent. 

But if he resigns he loses his salary and expenses immediately.  A couple of months or more with no income wouldn’t be easy either personally or politically. 

Campaigning is a lot more difficult, and expensive for someone who isn’t an MP, especially one who’s gone from an MP’s income to zero.

Then there’s the difficulty of explaining to would-be supporters why he wants to waste $500,000 on a by election when there’d be only 21 sitting days left after the winner was sworn in before parliament rises for the general election.

How big is Act’s constituency?


Act’s new leader Don Brash thinks his party should be polling above 10%.

If previous election results are anything to go by, how realistic is that?

1996: electorates: 1;  party vote: 6.1%; total seats: 8.

1999: electorates 0; party vote: 7%; total seats: 9.

2002: electorates: 0; party vote: 7.1%; total seats: 9.

2005: electorates: 1; party vote: 1.5%; total seats: 2.

2008: electorates 1; party vote: 3.6%; total seats: 5.

To markedly increase its vote Act has to take support from other parties.

Its policies on Maori issues might find favour with some who are supportive of New Zealand First. Every party gets votes from the bewildered and disgruntled so some of those will go from any other party to Act too.

Most of its votes are likely to come from the right and it will get some from National. But if Act could only get 7.1% when National was at its nadir, how likely is it to take a significant number of voters from the bigger party when it’s so popular?

History suggests Acts constituency isn’t very big. A new leader could make a difference but past election results indicate it would be difficult to get much above 7%.

May 4 in history


On May 4:

1008 Khajeh Abdollah Ansari, The Persian Sufi was born (d. 1088).

 Tomb in Herat

1256  The mendicant Order of Saint Augustine was constituted at the Lecceto Monastery when Pope Alexander IV issued a papal bull Licet ecclesiae catholicae.

1343 The four Estonian kings were murdered at the negotiations with the Livonian Order.

1415 Religious reformers John Wycliffe and Jan Hus were condemned as heretics at the Council of Constance.


1471  Wars of the Roses: The Battle of Tewkesbury: Edward IV defeatsed a LancastrianArmy and killed Edward, Prince of Wales.

MS Ghent - Battle of Tewkesbury.jpg

1493 Pope Alexander VI gave most of the New World to Spain via the papal bull Inter caetera.


1494 Christopher Columbus landed in Jamaica.

1626  Dutch explorer Peter Minuit arrived in New Netherland (present day Manhattan Island) aboard the See Meeuw.

1655 Bartolomeo Cristofori, Italian maker of musical instruments, was born (d. 1731).


1675  King Charles II  ordered the construction of the Royal Greenwich Observatory.


1715 Richard Graves, English writer, was born (d. 1804).

1722 1772 French explorer Marion du Fresne arrived in the Bay of Islands.

Marion du Fresne arrives in Bay of Islands

1776  Rhode Island became the first American colony to renounce allegiance to King George III.

Flag of Rhode Island State seal of Rhode Island

1799 Fourth Anglo-Mysore War: The Battle of Seringapatam: The siege of Seringapatam ended when the city was assaulted and the Tipu Sultan killed by the besieging British army, under the command of General George Harris.

Tipu death.jpg

1814 Emperor Napoleon I of France arrivesdat Portoferraio on the island of Elba to begin his exile.

Cartoon of Napoleon sitting back to front on a donkey with a broken sword and two soldiers in the background drumming 

1814 – King Ferdinand VII of Spain signed the Decrete of the 4th of May, returning Spain to absolutism.

1855  William Walker departed from San Francisco with about 60 men to conquer Nicaragua.

1859  The Cornwall Railway opened across the Royal Albert Bridge linking the counties of Devon and Cornwall.

The Royal Albert Bridgethat carries the Cornwall Railway across the River Tamar

1863  American Civil War: The Battle of Chancellorsville ended with a Union retreat.

 Battle of Chancellorsville.png

1869 – The Naval Battle of Hakodate took place in Japan.

Naval battle of Hakodate

1886 Haymarket Square Riot: A bomb was thrown at policemen trying to break up a labor rally in Chicago, killing eight and wounding 60.


1904  The United States began construction of the Panama Canal.


1904  Charles Stewart Rolls met Frederick Henry Royce at the Midland Hotel in Manchester.


1910 The Royal Canadian Navy was created.

Canadian Blue Ensign.svg

1912  Italy occupied the Greek sland of Rhodes.

Palace of the Grand Master in the city of Rhodes

1919  May Fourth Movement: Student demonstrations in Tiananmen Squarein Beijing protesting the Treaty of Versailles, which transferred Chinese territory to Japan.


1932  Mobster Al Capone began serving an eleven-year prison sentence for tax evasion.

1942 World War II: The Battle of the Coral Sea began with an attack by aircraft from the United States aircraft carrier USS Yorktown on Japanese naval forces at Tulagi Island in the Solomon Islands.

An explosion aboard USS Lexington

1945 World War II: British forces liberated Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg.


1945 – World War II: The North Germany Army surrendered to Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.

Bernard Law Montgomery.jpg

1946  U.S. Marines stopped a two-day riot t which killed five people at Alcatraz federal prison .

1949 The  Torino football team (except for one player who did not take the trip due to an injury) was killed in a plane crash at the Superga hill at the edge of Turin, Italy.


1950 – Darryl Hunt, English musician (The Pogues)

1953  Ernest Hemingway was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea.

Original book cover

1961 American civil rights movement: The “Freedom Riders” begin a bus trip through the South.

1970 Vietnam War:  Kent State shootings: the Ohio National Guard, sent to Kent State University after disturbances in the city of Kent the weekend before, opened fire killing four students and wounding nine others.


1972 The Don’t Make A Wave Committee, a fledgling environmental organisation founded in Canada in 1971, officially changed its name to “Greenpeace Foundation“.


1974 An all-female Japanese team reached the summit of Manaslu, becoming the first women to climb an 8,000-meter peak.

1979 Margaret Thatcher beccame the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

A professional photograph of a lady with ginger-blonde hair, sitting in a traditional style and wearing jewellery.

1980  President Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia died in Ljubljana at the age of 87.

1982  Twenty sailors were killed when the British Type 42 destroyer HMS Sheffield was hit by an Argentinian Exocet missile during the Falklands War.

HMS Sheffield (D80).jpg

1987 United States Supreme Court building was designated a National Historic Landmark.

1988 The PEPCON disaster rocked  Henderson, Nevada, as tons of space shuttle fuel detonates during a fire.


1989  Iran-Contra Affair: Former White House aide Oliver North was convicted of three crimes and acquitted of nine other charges. The convictions are, however, later overturned on appeal.


1990  Latvia proclaimed the renewal of its independence after the Soviet occupation.

1994  Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo accords regarding Palestinian self-rule in the Gaza Strip and Jericho.

Palestinian territories

1996 José María Aznar was elected Prime Minister of Spain, ending 13 years of Socialist rule.

1998 Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski  ws given four life sentences plus 30 years after Kaczynski accepted a plea agreement sparing him from the death penalty.

A man in a jacket with handcuffs

2000  Ken Livingstone became the first Mayor of London.

2001 – The Milwaukee Art Museum addition, the first Santiago Calatrava-designed structure in the United States, openedto the public.


2002  An EAS Airlines BAC 1-11-500 crashed in a suburb of Kano, Nigeria shortly after takeoff killing more than 148 people.

2007  Greensburg, Kansas was almost completely destroyed by a 1.7mi wide EF-5 tornado.

2007 –The Scottish National Party won the Scottish general election and became the largest party in the Scottish Parliament for the first time ever.

Yellow ribbon logo.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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