Just wondering . . .

June 29, 2011

. . . why, when I’ve had two weeks to write a column I’ve left it until two days before deadline even though I’ve known that both those days would be very, very busy?

And why, in spite of knowing that I’m writing this blog post instead of the column?


Word of the day

June 29, 2011

Warison – bugle call ordering attack; reward or gift given by a superior.


Local produce not always cheaper. . .

June 29, 2011

Complaints about the price of milk here are based on the theory that locally produced goods should be cheaper.

A good example of how that isn’t necessarily so can be found across the Tasman.

A reader emailed me to say that bananas in Australia are selling for $A14 to  $A16 a kilo – and there is no GST on “fresh” food.

Summer floods damaged trees and crops in Queensland. The Farming Show’s Australian correspondent Chris Russell said the problem has been exacerbated by very cold temeratures in the state  and as no bananas are imported into Australia there isn’t an alternative to local produce.

My correspondent says even before the shortage bananas were selling for around $A4 a kilo in Melbourne.

The ones in the supermarket I frequent came from the Philippines and cost $2.99 a kilo, inclusive of GST. 

I presume the bio-security risk  is used to ban imports. But if we judge the Australians by the strong fight they put up against New Zealand apple imports then the ban on bananas from other countries could well be protecting domestic farmers from competition rather than protecting the crop from disease.

Either way, the consumer is paying very dearly.


Men can care too

June 29, 2011

The fuss over the stupid comments on women’s “sick problems” has sidelined the real issue.

Why are women still more likely to take time off work to care for other people than men?

Only women get pregnant and only women can breast feed. But once the children are a little older or if it is another relative, for example an elderly parent in need of help, what stops men doing some of the caring?

If mothers and daughters can care for children and parents why not fathers and sons?

Is it because although women are generally accepted in what were once seen as men’s jobs but there is still not the same acceptance of men in areas which used to be regarded as the preserve of women?


Not proven

June 29, 2011

If ever there was a case which needed the ability to make a judgement of not proven, which they have in Scotland, it was the one against Chris Kahui.

He was the father of twins Chris and Cru whose tragic lives and deaths are  currently the subject of an inquest.

Kahui was acquitted of murder but let’s not confuse that with innocence. All it means is the jury found the case against him was not proven beyond reasonable doubt.

That doesn’t mean he killed his babies but nor does it mean he was cleared of the violence which plagued their lives and eventually caused their deaths.

Now Ian Wishart has written a book telling the story of the twins’ mother, Macsyna King. I won’t be buying it but nor will I join the call to boycott it

That isn’t the same as banning it but it’s close.

Free expression requires that the author and his subject must also be free to tell, and sell, the story even if we don’t want to, and won’t, read it.


Does state really need to own rat bait company?

June 29, 2011

This week’s Listener makes a very good point about opposition to National’s plans to sell minority shares in some SOEs  and Labour’s bill to require 75% of parliament to support the sale of any asset:

. . . the premise behind the bill is essentially that the commercial enterprises the Crown owns are a perfect use of public funds. There is, Labour implies, no single better use that can be found for the public’s money invested in the businesses listed in Schedule 1 and 2 of the State-Owned Enterprises Act. The money tied up in 100% ownership of SOE shares could never be better used, for example, to buy other commercial or public assets, or to pay off some of the Crown’s debt to foreign lenders.

Put like that no reasonable person would want to hog-tie a future government, especially when you consider some of the assets still owned by the state:

Apart from the best-known ones, such as Meridian, Genesis, Solid Energy and Television New Zealand, they also include Animal Control Products, which is, according to its website, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of rodent baits. And what’s not to like about that? Rats, unless pets, are not generally life-enhancing.

But is it the best use of government money to own 100% of a rodent-bait company? Might it be better if, say, 24% or 49% or 100% of the company was sold and the proceeds were applied to rebuilding schools in Christchurch, funding more public hospital operating theatres, repaying government debt or buying shares in other New Zealand companies?

I can’t think of any reason to justify state ownership of a rodent bait company now. Even if there was a good reason to hang on to it for a while longer, who could argue that there might not be a time in the future when there’d by better use for the capital than animal control?

It is quite legitimate to argue the Crown’s portfolio of commercial assets is optimal for New Zealand at the current time. People can agree or disagree with this argument and the debate should be had. But it is a hard argument to sustain that the current portfolio will always be the best use of those billions of dollars and that nothing could change that.

Labour senses a public reluctance about asset sales and is campaigning against National’s plan to sell minority shares in a few SOEs. That’s what opposition parties do.

But attempting, even half heartedly, to keep all state assets in state ownership for ever is the triumph of politics over logic.


June 29 in history

June 29, 2011

On June 29:

1149 Raymond of Antioch was defeated and killed at the Battle of Inab by Nur ad-Din Zangi.

BattleOfInab.jpg

1194  Sverre was crowned King of Norway.

1444 Skanderbeg defeated an Ottoman invasion force at Torvioll.

Skanderbeg woodcut.jpg

1534  Jacques Cartier made the European discovery of Prince Edward Island.

1613 The Globe Theatre in London  burned to the ground.

1644 Charles I defeated a Parliamentarian detachment at the Battle of Cropredy Bridge, the last battle won by an English King on English soil.

1659  Battle of Konotop: Ukrainian armies of Ivan Vyhovsky defeatedthe Russians, led by Prince Trubetskoy.

 

1749  New Governor Charles de la Ralière Des Herbiers arrives at Isle Royale (Cape Breton Island).

1786  Alexander Macdonell and more than five hundred Roman Catholic highlanders left Scotland to settle in Glengarry County, Ontario.

 

1850  Coal was discovered on Vancouver Island.

1850   Autocephaly officially granted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to the Church of Greece.

1861 William James Mayo, American physician, was born (d. 1939).

1864  Ninety-nine people were killed in Canada’s worst railway disaster near St-Hilaire, Quebec.

1874  Greek politician Charilaos Trikoupis published a manifesto in the Athens daily Kairoi entitled “Who’s to Blame?” in which he laid out his complaints against King George.

 

1880  France annexed Tahiti.

1891  Street railway in Ottawa commenced operation.

1895  Doukhobors burned their weapons as a protest against conscription by the Tsarist Russian government.

1900 Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, French writer, was born (d. 1944).

1901 Nelson Eddy, American singer and actor, was born (d. 1967).

 

1914  Jina Guseva attempted to assassinate Grigori Rasputin.

1916  Sir Roger Casement, Irish Nationalist and British diplomat was sentenced to death for his part in the Easter Rising.

Roger Casement.jpg

1922  France granted 1 km² at Vimy Ridge “freely, and for all time, to the Government of Canada, the free use of the land exempt from all taxes.”

 

1925 Canada House opened in London.

1926  Arthur Meighen returned to office as Prime Minister of Canada.

 

1927  First test of Wallace Turnbull’s Controllable pitch propeller.

 

1928 The Outerbridge Crossing and Goethals Bridge in Staten Island, New York opened.

1937  Joseph-Armand Bombardier of Canada received a patent for sprocket and track traction system used in snow vehicles.

 

1943 Little Eva, American singer, was born  (d. 2003).

1945  Carpathian Ruthenia was annexed by Soviet Union.

 

1972  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the death penalty could constitute “cruel and unusual punishment”.

1974  Isabel Perón was sworn in as the first female President of Argentina.

1976 Bret McKenzie, New Zealand musician, (Flight of the Conchords) was born.

1976  The Seychelles became independent from the United Kingdom.

   

1990 Dr Penny Jamieson became the first woman in the world to be appointed an Anglican bishop.

World's first female Anglican bishop appointed

1995  Space Shuttle program: STS-71 Mission Atlantis docks with the Russian space station Mir for the first time.

 

1995  The Sampoong Department Store collapsed in Seoul, killing 501 and injuring 937.

2002  Naval clashes between South Korea and North Korea led to the death of six South Korean sailors and sinking of a North Korean vessel.

2006  Hamdan v. Rumsfeld: The U.S. Supreme Court rules that President George W. Bush’s plan to try Guantanamo Bay detainees in military tribunals violated U.S. and international law.

2007  Two car bombs were found in the heart of London at Picadilly Circus.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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