Word of the day


Slick– smooth and glossy; sleek; smooth in manners, speech; suave; sly; shrewdly adroit; ingenious; cleverly devised; slippery, especially from being covered with ice, water, or oil;  floating film of oil; trail of garbage;  paddlelike tool for smoothing a surface,  implement used to make a surface slick, especially a chisel used for smoothing and polishing; a wide tyre without a tread, used in racing;  magazine, usually of large popular readership, printed on high-quality glossy paper; unarmed military aircraft, especially a helicopter; to make smooth, glossy, or oily;  make neat, trim, or tidy.

ACC levy reductions


A glimmer of light amidst the economic gloom – ACC levies will be reduced in the wake of ACC’s healthy surplus.

ACC Minister Nick Smith said:

Zealanders and will assist with our economic recovery,” ACC Minister Nick Smith said.

“The levy on wage and salary earners is reduced by 17% – or $170 a year for someone on the average wage. The levy on employers and the self-employed is reduced by 22% – a saving of $1120 a year for the average small business with seven employees.

“These levy reductions are possible because of the huge improvements in ACC finances from the deficits of $2.4 billion in 2007/08 and $4.8 billion in 2008/09, to surpluses in 2009/10 of $2.5 billion and today’s announcement of a $3.5 billion surplus in 2010/11.

“This financial turnaround and levy reductions has been achieved by major improvements in rehabilitation rates and better management of costs. Rehabilitation rates steadily declined from 2005 to 2008, but have consistently improved since with 20% fewer people on long-term compensation. ACC’s claim costs rose 58% from $1.93 billion in 2005 to $3.06 billion in 2008, but have since been trimmed back by 15% to $2.58 billion in 2010/11.”

ACC has been working with long term claimants and encouraging short-term ones back to work sooner.

As part of that businesses have been encouraged to help injured staff return to work, even if not to their usual role. The longer people are off-work the greater the chance of them not returning and this policy has helped ensure short term claimants don’t turn into long term dependents.

List MPs still seen as 2nd class


A letter to the editor of the Listener has a way to improve MMP:

There is little the matter with MMP that fine tuning will not fix. Fifty two of the 121 MPs are unelected, neither chosen nor approved the by public at large.

These list MPs represent only votes to their respective partier and there is really no need for their expensive presence in Wellington.

To judge from Freeview channel 22, few of them bother to attend Parliament, anyway. It is surely better to tell them to stay at home and save their largely unearned salaries.

It is difficult to detect irony on the written page. Whether or not this correspondent has his tongue in his cheek, he is making an oft repeated criticism of MMP.

While I’m no fan of the system, I think that criticism is unjustified. Some, probably most, list MPs work hard and not being in parliament when  television cameras are filming doesn’t mean they’re not doing something useful.

The import of the letter, though, is not what is says but what it shows – that after 15 years of MMP too many people don’t understand how it works and regard list MPs as second class representatives.

Match body parts to players


Good grief – what will they think of next? Stuff has a match the body parts to the players quiz – (it’s okay it’s safe for work).

I got 5/10, all but the one with the eyes were guesses.

They also have a Rugby World Cup facts quiz in which I managed only 7/2- – all but two of which were guesses.

And I got 13/15 in the kid’s quiz – I didn’t think about the insect question and  music let me down again.

Interim quake report requires higher standards


The Royal Commission on the Canterbury earthquakes has released its interim report.

Commission chair Justice Mark Cooper said:

The timing has, of necessity, meant that the Royal Commission has not been able to produce a lengthy list of recommendations. However, this Report does make some recommendations which reflect our view that urgent action is required in respect of some aspects of current building design practice, both in Christchurch and elsewhere, to make some buildings’ elements (particularly stairs and floors in multi-storey buildings) more resilient.

 The Royal Commission is also of the view that immediate action is necessary to strengthen parts of unreinforced masonry buildings that could fail, causing injury or loss of life, in earthquakes that are less severe than the Canterbury earthquakes were. We have made recommendations accordingly.

Its recommendations include  soil analysis and appropriate foundation design, changes to some structural design standards and construction practices, and use of new building technologies.

Other issues which will be addressed in the final report including lessons to be learned from the failures of the CTV and PGC buildings where the majority of victims of February’s quake died.

Some recommendations are directed only at Christchurch but others will apply to the rest of the country as well.

Earthquake strengthening requirements have often been regarded as overly onerous but the February earthquake demonstrated the importance of high standards for design and building.



ALCP gives reason to vote National


The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party is telling drug using beneficiaries to vote for them or risk using their benefits:

Party Leader Michael Appleby said the only way for beneficiaries to continue using cannabis was to ensure the ALCP was elected on November 26 to fight for their rights.

The Government’s Welfare Working Group led by economist Paula Rebstock, aims to tackle drug addiction by introducing drug testing for those on the benefit.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said she supported the move.

“We expect it for people who are in work so why shouldn’t we expect it for people who are looking for work? Frankly, I don’t think that is too much to ask,” she said.

This plea might appeal to those beneficiaries who use cannabis.

But there will be a lot more people who work to pay the taxes that provide the benefits that support these people who will see it as a very good reason to vote National.

Expecting standards from teachers is bullying?


The Ministry of Education has been accused of bullying for expecting schools to meet their legal requirements to adopt National Standards.

Now Invercargill MP Eric Roy has been accused of bullying for expecting teachers to meet a very reasonable standard of behaviour.

Fernworth School teacher Terry Guyton asked candidates what they would do to “repair the damage caused by national standards”.

Mr Guyton said the standards were forcing teachers to label five-year-olds as failures.

Mr Roy took exception to Mr Guyton’s comment.

“If you are a teacher telling five-year-olds they are a failure you should not be teaching,” he said. “You should not even be testing them.”

What’s wrong with that?

Any teacher who tells a five year old he/she is failing is failing him/herself. But that’s not how Labour sees it:

Labour candidate Lesley Soper took the platform after Mr Roy and promptly accused him of bullying.

“You have just seen an example of the bullying … the Ministry of Education has used on teachers in this country.”

When did expecting anyone to do what’s legally required become bullying?

There could be many reasons for a child not reaching a standard but you have to know where they are before you can work out why and then help them.

The standards aren’t about passing or failure, they’re a tool to identify progress, or lack of it, which then enables the school and family to help children – and it’s working.

Just yesterday a father gave a story which shows this. His son’s first report was all about what a lovely child he was. The second, after the introduction of National Standards showed he had a reading problem. The school and parents gave him extra help and the third report showed he had caught up.

That is exactly how the standards should work, and will if teachers put the children’s education ahead of their own politics.

UPDATE: Mr Guyton’s father has a different view.

Govt still commited to surplus by 2014/15


The government remains committed to a return to surpluses by 2014/15 in spite of the impact Canterbury’s earthquakes have had on the deficit.

The Crown’s accounts for the year to 30 June 2011 show net expenses of $9.1  billion for the Canterbury earthquake last year made up almost half of the  Government’s $18.4 billion operating deficit before gains and losses.

“This is an unusually large deficit, but it includes the significant costs of  the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Fund and the updated assessment of Earthquake  Commission costs,” Mr English says.

“Setting aside the earthquakes, we’ve made good progress compared to  estimates five months ago in the Budget. A combination of higher than forecast  revenue and lower than forecast spending has reduced the underlying deficit by  about $2.8 billion.

“However, this was more than overshadowed by the higher earthquake  costs.”

The deficit is concerning. But given the country was in recession before the rest of the world; that growth from about 2004 was the result of debt-fuelled spending; and that this government has faced an unprecedented series of natural and financial disasters, it could have been a lot worse.

Despite the Canterbury earthquakes, Treasury notes economic growth was better  than expected in the first half of 2011, driven by a recovery in domestic demand  and higher export prices.

“This flowed through to tax revenue, which rose for the first time in three  years due to higher income, private consumption and business profits,” Mr  English says. “And despite the earthquakes, management of public sector finances  continues to improve.

That is a significant achievement given the continuing difficulties in Canterbury which accounts for about 10% of the economy and we need more of this government’s economic medicine.

“In the current uncertain global environment, it’s important the Government  remains focused on its plan to return to surplus faster and building a  competitive economy so we can sell more to the world. This is certainly not a  time to be promising to borrow more, spend more and tax more.”

In spite of all the set backs it’s faced, National has stuck to its plan to reduce government spending and deliver on its promise of polices which promote savings, investment and export-led growth.

Normally a deficit this size so close to an election would be good news for the opposition. But when Labour squandered the good years and its Finance Minister Michael Cullen boasted about spending the lot after his last Budget few outside its core supporters, believe they should be trusted back in government.

October 12 in history


539 BC – The army of Cyrus the Great of Persia took Babylon.

1216 King John of England lost his crown jewels in The Wash.

1279  Nichiren, a Japanese Buddhist monk founder of Nichiren Buddhism, inscribed the Dai-Gohonzon.

1398  The Treaty of Salynas was signed between Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas the Great and the Teutonic Knights, who received Samogitia.

1492  Christopher Columbus‘s expedition landed on The Bahamas. The explorer believed he has reached South Asia.

1654  The Delft Explosion devastated the city, killing more than 100 people.

1692  The Salem Witch Trials were ended by a letter from Massachusetts Governor William Phips.

1773 America’s first insane asylum opened for ‘Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds’ in Virginia

1792  First celebration of Columbus Day in the USA held in New York

1793  The cornerstone of Old East, the oldest state university building in the United States, was laid on the campus of the University of North Carolina.

1810  First Oktoberfest: Bavarian royalty invited the citizens of Munich to join the celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.

1822  Pedro I of Brazil was proclaimed the emperor of the Brazil.

1823  Charles Macintosh, of Scotland, sold the first raincoat.

1866 Ramsay MacDonald, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom,was born (d. 1937).

1871  Criminal Tribes Act (CTA) enacted by British rule in India, which named over 160 local communities ‘Criminal Tribes’, i.e. hereditary criminals.

1872 Ralph Vaughan Williams, English composer, was born (d. 1958).

1892  The Pledge of Allegiance was first recited by students in many US public schools, as part of a celebration marking the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage.

1901  President Theodore Roosevelt officially renamed the “Executive Mansion” the White House.

1915 World War I: British nurse Edith Cavell was executed by a German firing squad for helping Allied soldiers escape from Belgium.

1917 World War I: The First Battle of Passchendaele resulted in the largest single day loss of life in New Zealand history.

NZ's ‘blackest day’ at Passchendaele

1918 The arrival of the Niagra was blamed for introducing a deadly new influenza to New Zealand.

<img src="http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/files/images/flu3.preview_0.jpg&quot; alt="Niagara‘s arrival blamed for flu pandemic” />

1918  A massive forest fire killed 453 people in Minnesota.

1928 An iron lung respirator was used for the first time at Children’s Hospital, Boston.

1933  The United States Army Disciplinary Barracks on Alcatraz Island, was acquired by the United States Department of Justice.

1935 Luciano Pavarotti, Italian tenor, was born (d. 2007).

1942 Melvin Franklin, American singer (The Temptations), was born (d. 1995).

1942 World War II: Japanese ships retreated after their defeat in the Battle of Cape Esperance with the Japanese commander, Aritomo Gotō dying from wounds suffered in the battle and two Japanese destroyers sunk by Allied air attack.

1945  World War II: Desmond Doss was the first conscientious objector to receive the U.S. Medal of Honor.

1948 Rick Parfitt, British musician (Status Quo), was born.

1953 “The Caine Mutiny Court Martial” opened at Plymouth Theatre, New York.

1960  Cold War: Nikita Khrushchev pounded his shoe on a desk at United Nationa General Assembly meeting to protest a Philippine assertion of Soviet Union colonial policy being conducted in Eastern Europe.

1960  Inejiro Asanuma, Chair of the Japanese Socialist Party, was assassinated by Otoya Yamaguchi, a 17-year-old.

1962 Columbus Day Storm struck the U.S. Pacific Northwest with record wind velocities; 46 dead and at least U.S. $230 million in damages.

1964 The Soviet Union launched the Voskhod 1 into Earth orbit as the first spacecraft with a multi-person crew and the first flight without space suits.

1968 Equatorial Guinea became independent from Spain.

1976 China announced that Hua Guofeng was the successor to the late Mao Zedong as chairman of Communist Party of China.

1979 The first in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy comedy science fiction series by Douglas Adams was published.

1979 The lowest recorded non-tornadic atmospheric pressure, 87.0 kPa (870 mbar or 25.69 inHg), occurred in the Western Pacific during Typhoon Tip.

1983 Japan’s former Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei was found guilty of taking a $2 million bribe from Lockheed and was sentenced to 4 years in jail.

1984  Brighton hotel bombing: The Provisional Irish Republican Army attempted to assassinate Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet. Thatcher escaped but the bomb kills five people and wounded 31.

1988 Jaffna University Helidrop: Commandos of Indian Peace Keeping Force raided the Jaffna University campus to capture the LTTE chief and walked into a trap.

1988 Two officers of the Victoria Police were gunned down executional style in the Walsh Street police shootings.

1991  Askar Akayev, previously chosen President of Kyrgyzstan by republic’s Supreme Soviet was confirmed president in an uncontested poll.

1997  Sidi Daoud massacre in Algeria; 43 killed at a fake roadblock.

1999  Pervez Musharraf took power in Pakistan from Nawaz Sharif through a bloodless coup.

1999 – The Day of Six Billion: The proclaimed 6 billionth living human in the world is born.

2000 The USS Cole was badly damaged in Aden, Yemen, by two suicide bombers, killing 17 crew members and wounding at least 39.

2002 Terrorists detonated bombs in Paddy’s Pub and the Sari Club in Kuta, Bali, killing 202 and wounding over 300.

2005  The second Chinese human spaceflight Shenzhou 6 launched carrying Fèi Jùnlóng and Niè Hǎishèng for five days in orbit.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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