Word of the day


Operose – done with or requiring much toil; laborious; diligent, industrious; very busy, active.

How strong is a party with too few activists?


The Green Party likes to paint itself as the party of principle but how principled is it to use taxpayer funds to do the work normally carried out by volunteers?

Keeping Stock blogged yesterday on the party  advertising for students in Christchurch to solicit signatures for its petition against the partial float of a few state-owned energy companies.

He followed up that post today with more on rent a petition showing advertisements for six out-of-parliament staff whose primary role is to collect signatures for the petition.

That looks a lot more like party political activism than legitimate out-of-parliament support for MPs.

Such work is normally carried out by members, i.e. volunteers not paid staff.

What this suggests is the party doesn’t have many members.

Another clue to the parlous state of the Green Party’s membership is its campaign donations’ return which shows most of its large donations came from its MPs.

Their money is their own to do with it what they will. But they might not need to be this generous to the party if it had a lot more members paying subs.

Lots of people paying a little maes a stronger and more representative party than a few MPs paying a lot.

That is the way parties ought to get their base funding and it is why I believe that organisations must have at least 2,000 members before they can register as a party.

Democracy requires active participation of the people. Publicly funded employees can and should not replace that.




Need to be in black to be green


The Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) shows that many New Zealand businesses would like to  adopt cleantech principles but the economics just do not add up.

Eugene Sparrow, partner, Privately Held Business for Grant Thornton New Zealand, said:

“It’s a tough environment for many companies and until these businesses can see a cost saving they will be reluctant to adopt cleantech options. Many look upon green philosophies and cleantech principles as discretionary and something they will only adopt if there are clear economic advantages.

“Unfortunately our size is also against us. We are a country of small businesses without the scale to benefit from the adoption of some cleantech options. There is no doubt that these businesses are all mindful of being green and clean, but if it is going to cost, then it will have to wait,” he said.

Businesses have to be in the black to be green and they’re not going to invest in new technology if it doesn’t make economic sense.

I think there is another factor involved – a lack of good research which enables businesses to differentiate between products and practices which do make a positive difference and greenwash.

That said, there are some simple ways in which being greener can be good for the bottom line too. Fonterra has been working with dairy farmers to reduce energy consumption which has both environmental and financial benefits.


Apropos of greenwash, Green is good at the Fundy Post is a good read.

Desperate and stupid


While the sinking of the Rena  and the impact on the Bay of Plenty economy was getting headlines, the far more serious impact of PSA on kiwifruit orchardists was largely under-reported.

People lost not just crops but their whole orchards. Jobs have gone, livelihoods have been destroyed and with them have gone many retirement plans.

Desperate circumstance demand desperate measures, but injecting vines with antibiotics was not just desperate, it was really, really stupid.

Zespri spokesman Dave Courtney said about 40 growers were referred to the ministry and “a majority of them will be in the Bay of Plenty region”.

Mr Courtney said Zespri tested every kiwifruit orchard in New Zealand and 99 per cent were cleared for exports.

But about 0.5 per cent – about 500,000 trays – of this year’s harvest would not be sold as a result of the misuse of streptomycin.

They would be destroyed through mulching.

Mr Courtney said Zespri made it “very clear” to growers that injecting vines was not permitted and there would be consequences for any fruit found with residual antibiotics at harvest.

“It was very well advertised through the industry. However, some people didn’t follow the rules and that’s what has happened here.”

All farmers, be they raising livestock or growing crops, ought to know about what can and can’t be used on their produce.

Injecting vines  didn’t just endanger their own crops. Had it not been discovered it could have done great harm to the industry and New Zealand’s reputation for food safety.

May 30 in history


70 Siege of Jerusalem: Titus and his Roman legions breached the Second Wall of Jerusalem. The Jewish defenders retreated to the First Wall. The Romans built a circumvallation, all trees within fifteen kilometres were cut down.

1416 The Council of Constance, called by the Emperor Sigismund, a supporter of Antipope John XXIII, burned Jerome of Prague following a trial for heresy.

1431  Hundred Years’ War: 19-year-old Joan of Arc was burned at the stake by an English-dominated tribunal. Because of this the Catholic Church remember this day as the celebration of Saint Joan of Arc.

1434  Hussite Wars (Bohemian Wars): Battle of Lipany – effectively ending the war, Utraquist forces led by Diviš Bořek of Miletínek defeated and almost annihilated Taborite forces led by Prokop the Great.

1536  Henry VIII of England married Jane Seymour, a lady-in-waiting to his first two wives.

1539 Hernando de Soto lands at Tampa Bay, Florida,  with 600 soldiers with the goal of finding gold.

1574  Henry III became King of France.

1588 The last ship of the Spanish Armada set sail from Lisbon heading for the English Channel.

1635  Thirty Years’ War: the Peace of Prague (1635) was signed.

1642  From this date all honours granted by Charles I were retrospectively annulled by Parliament.

1757 Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born (d. 1844).

1806 Andrew Jackson killed Charles Dickinson in a duel after Dickinson had accused Jackson’s wife of bigamy.

1814 Napoleonic Wars: War of the Sixth Coalition – the Treaty of Paris (1814) was signed returning French borders to their 1792 extent.

1832  The Rideau Canal in eastern Ontario opened.

1842  John Francis attempted to murder Queen Victoria as she drove down Constitution Hill with Prince Albert.

1846 Peter Carl Fabergé, Russian goldsmith and jeweller, was born (d. 1920).

1854 The Kansas-Nebraska Act became law establishing the US territories of Nebraska and Kansas.

1859 Westminster’s Big Ben rang for the first time in London.

1868  Decoration Day (the predecessor of the modern “Memorial Day) was observed in the United States for the first time (By “Commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic” John A. Logan‘s proclamation on May 5).

1871  The Paris Commune fell.

1876  Ottoman sultan Abd-ul-Aziz was deposed and succeeded by his nephew Murat V.

1879 New York City’s Gilmores Garden was renamed Madison Square Garden by William Henry Vanderbilt and opened to the public at 26th Street and Madison Avenue.

1883  A rumour that the Brooklyn Bridge was going to collapse causes a stampede that crushes twelve people.

1911  At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the first Indianapolis 500 ended with Ray Harroun in his Marmon Wasp becoming the first winner of the 500-mile auto race.

1913  First Balkan War: the Treaty of London, 1913 is signed ending the war. Albania becomes an independent nation.

1914  The new and then largest Cunard ocean liner RMS Aquitania, 45,647 tons, set sails on her maiden voyage from Liverpool, England to New York City.

1815  The East Indiaman ship Arniston was wrecked during a storm at Waenhuiskrans, the loss of 372 lives.

1917  Alexander I became king of Greece.

1922  In Washington, D.C. the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated.

1941  World War II: Manolis Glezos and Apostolos Santas climb on the Athenian Acropolis, tear down the Nazi swastika and replace it with the Greek flag.

1942  World War II: 1000 British bombers launched a 90-minute attack on Cologne, Germany.

1948  A dike along the flooding Columbia River broke, obliterating Vanport, Oregon within minutes. Fifteen people die and tens of thousands are left homeless.

1955 Topper Headon, British musician (The Clash), was born.

1958  Memorial Day: the remains of two unidentified American servicemen, killed in action during World War II and the Korean War respectively, were buried at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.

1959  The Auckland Harbour Bridge, crossing the Waitemata Harbour was officially opened by Governor-General Lord Cobham.

Auckland harbour bridge opened

1961  Long time Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo was assassinated in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

1962 Kevin Eastman, American comic book creator (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), was born.

1963  A protest against pro-Catholic discrimination during the Buddhist crisis was held outside South Vietnam’s National Assembly, the first open demonstration during the eight-year rule of Ngo Dinh Diem.

1966 Former Congolese Prime Minister Evariste Kimba and several other politicians are publicly executed in Kinshasa on the orders of President Joseph Mobutu.

1967 Daredevil Evel Knievel jumped his motorcycle over 16 cars lined up in a row.

1967  The Nigerian Eastern Region declared independence as the Republic of Biafra, sparking a civil war.

1971 Mariner 9 was launched to map 70% of the surface, and to study temporal changes in the atmosphere and surface, of Mars.

1972 The Angry Brigade went on trial over a series of 25 bombings throughout Britain.

1972  In Tel Aviv members of the Japanese Red Army carried out the Lod Airport Massacre, killing 24 people and injuring 78 others.

1989  Tiananmen Square protests of 1989: the 33-foot high “Goddess of Democracy” statue was unveiled in Tiananmen Square by student demonstrators.

1998  A magnitude 6.6 earthquake hit northern Afghanistan, killing up to 5,000.

2002– 272 days after the September 11 attacks, closing ceremonies were held for the clean up/recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site in New York City.

2003 – Depayin massacre: at least 70 people associated with the National League for Democracy were killed by government-sponsored mob in Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi fled the scene, but was arrested soon afterwards.

Sourced from NZ History Online & WIkipedia

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