Not guilty, not proven not an option

July 3, 2012

Ewen Macdonald has been found not guilty of the murder of his brother-in-law Scott Guy.

He admitted burning down a farmhouse  and vandalising a new home on the Guy property but that doesn’t make him guilty of the murder.

In Scotland juries have the option of a not-proven verdict which neither clears nor condemns the accused but does leave the option of a retrial should fresh evidence be found.

That option isn’t available here and the jury might not have used it had it been. They found Macdonald was not guilty beyond reasonable doubt and he’s been acquitted.

The verdict won’t bring closure for the people involved, it still leaves the question of who committed the murder.

In spite being found not guilty, Macdonald will live under the shadow of the crime and trial until/unless someone else is proved to have done it.

Regardless of the verdict the Guy family is left without a husband, father, son and brother.

Their business and family life has been paraded in front of the court. I hope the media now respect their plea for privacy.

Footnote: RadioNZ reported earlier today that a judge had lifted suppression relating to Macdonald’s accomplice in the arson and vandalism. However, the link no longer works:

Queenstown suppression orders lifted – Radio New Zealand

 


Word of the day

July 3, 2012

Bloviate: speak or write in a pompous manner; to discourse verbosely and windily; talk at length in an inflated or empty way.


Overeating cues & sleep deprivation

July 3, 2012

Discussion topics on Critical Mass with Jim Mora today:

How external cues make us overeat

and

How little sleep can you get away with?


Crime fighting action plan

July 3, 2012

Justice Minister Judith Collins launched an action plan to reduce crime and reoffending today:

“We’re focusing on six key areas, with a series of specific actions under each. We’re going to target high-crime locations, provide strong support for people at risk of repeat victimisation, improve interventions for vulnerable youth, reduce the availability of alcohol, increase availability of alcohol and drug treatment – both in prison and in the community – and invest in reintegration and rehabilitation for offenders.

“We’re throwing the weight of the justice sector – 22,000 staff and a budget of $3.8 billion each year – behind these targets. They are particularly ambitious given the reductions already gained, as continuing to reduce crime will get more difficult every year.”

Ms Collins says the plan is about locking in success and keeping crime falling.

“2011 saw the lowest crime rate in thirty years. Resolution rates continue to increase, and even violent crime – which had been rising – has stabilised. But for a victim of crime, that one crime is too many. Even on top of recent gains, achieving these targets will mean 112,000 fewer crimes between now and 2017 – and thousands fewer victims.

“We know a lot about crime – where it tends to occur, who it tends to affect, and the underlying factors that contribute to criminal behaviour. We’re taking what we know and turning it into comprehensive action across the justice and wider social sectors,” Ms Collins says.

The facts:

  • Location is one of the strongest predictors of crime – particularly property crime, such as burglary, vehicle theft and shoplifting, which makes up two-thirds of all crime.
  • 6 per cent of adults experience 54 per cent of all crime – this small group are victimised five or more times.
  • The earlier a person begins offending, the greater their odds of reoffending. 17-19 year olds appearing in the adult court system for the first time are 2.3 times more likely to reoffend if they have a youth court history.
  • 51 per cent of crimes are committed under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. Alcohol is implicated in 35 per cent of apprehensions for assaults, 18 per cent of apprehensions for sexual assaults and 49 per cent of apprehensions for disorderly conduct.
  • Over 60 per cent of prisoners are unemployed prior to imprisonment and 90 per cent of prisoners have high literacy needs. Unemployment is also very high among offenders serving their sentence in the community. 65 per cent of sentenced offenders have a drug or alcohol problem.

The government has  set goals for the public service in five key areas, one of which is crime reduction.

Prime Minister John Key said:

“By 2017 we want to see the crime rate reduced by 15 per cent, the violent crime rate by 20 per cent, the youth crime rate by 5 per cent, and the reoffending rate by 25 per cent.

“These would represent meaningful results for New Zealand – 112,000 fewer crimes, 19,000 fewer violent crimes, and 1500 fewer young people appearing in court over the next five years.

Reducing crime has social and economic benefits.

Even people who aren’t directly affected as victims of crimes or through relationships to criminals are better off with safer homes and communities.

A separate initiative is the expansion of social workers in schools.

Extra Social Workers in Schools (SWiS) will begin in schools as the next term starts this month says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett

“The first fifty additional social workers will cover 95 schools in Northland, South Auckland and Hawke’s Bay, starting in the third school term.”

Minister Bennett announced the expansion to SWiS to all decile 1-3 schools last year, with coverage planned to increase from 285 to 673 schools.

‘’We said we’d phase the extra social workers in and these are the first 50 of 149 extra SWiS workers,” says Mrs Bennett.

“School staff can be the first to notice when something isn’t right with a child and with problems increasingly complex and difficult, qualified social workers are needed to address these issues with children and families.”

“Protecting children is an absolute priority and we need enough qualified social workers focused exclusively on children to do that,” says Mrs Bennett.

Helping children in need is worthy by itself and also as part of crime detection and prevention. Some children’s problems occur because they are victims of crimes. Regardless of what causes the problems, troubled children are more likely to have learning problems and therefore less likely to get work when they leave school which in turn makes it more likely to commit crimes.

It won’t be cheap but it is far better to spend money on the causes and prevention than on dealing with crime and its consequences.

 


Rural round-up

July 3, 2012

Agribusiness Man of the Year shares secrets of his business success – Caleb Allison:

Craig Hickson had no idea he would win agribusiness person of the year at the Federated Farmers awards in Auckland this week.

The Hawke’s Bay sheep farmer wasn’t there to receive the award as he is in Australia attending a lamb industry conference, but he told NBR ONLINE winning is a pleasant surprise nonetheless.

Modestly, he says he doesn’t know why he won, but says innovation has long been a focus of his company, Progressive Meats, which he started with his wife in 1981.  . .

Outlook is green for primary industries – Burce Wills:

Today, I am going to take a look at where we might be in the year 2020 and touch on some challenges ahead. 

A lot can change in eight years but much can also stay the same. 

In 2004, eight years ago, the Iraq war was one year old and Afghanistan was in turmoil.  Despite this petrol was under $1.10 a litre.  Meanwhile exporters faced a Kiwi dollar that was US$0.67 in January but ended 2004 at $US.71.  Some things never change.

For the year ending June 2004, our agricultural, horticultural and forestry exports came to around $18.5 billion.  In the year to March 2012, exports for the primary industries came to almost $32 billion. . .

That is a remarkable increase of almost 73 percent. 

Environmentally good practice wins – Sally Rae:

Blair and Jane Smith might have won the 2012 national Ballance Farm Environment Awards – but they reckon their    farming journey is just beginning.   

The North Otago couple were awarded the Gordon Stephenson Trophy during a function at Parliament Buildings that celebrated people farming in a manner that was environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. . .

Dairying needs to connect – Sally Rae:

Public perceptions of dairy farmers are probably better than farmers might think, but there is still room for improvement, DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says.   

A panel discussion, entitled Perception is Your Reality, was  held as part of the South Island Dairy Event in Dunedin.   

Public perceptions were important and DairyNZ surveyed the      New Zealand public twice a year and also held focus groups in the main urban centres. There was still “a fair amount of support out there for us”, Dr Mackle said.   

But farmers must “get things right” on the farm. . .

Horsing around serious pastime – Sally Rae:

Ask Tara McConnell how she fits everything into her day    and the answer is simple – with a head-light.   

Miss McConnell (24), of Flag Swamp, works as a shed-hand for      a shearing gang four days a week, but the rest of her time is      consumed with horses. . .

Key Opens New Zealand’s Advanced New Infant Dairy Formula Facility to Supply Global Demand:

After over 12 months preparation, New Zealand’s most advanced pharmaceutical grade infant dairy formula production facility opens to supply soaring demand overseas. .

The new facility was officially open by Prime Minister John Key on Friday 29th July 2012 and addresses a rapid increase in global demand and a shortage of high quality wet dairy infant formula products. By the end of 2012 it expects to annually produce over 20 million cans of infant formula for the export market.

Building a facility that provides pharmaceutical standard dairy formulas on a scale large enough to meet international demand was not easy.  It required over a year’s planning and a large investment in infrastructure, experience and technology. GMP pharmaceuticals already New Zealand largest pharmaceutical manufacturing and testing facility specializing in health supplements, was in a good position to meet the significant logistical requirements. . .

Harvest disaster hits wine price – Greg Ninness:

The days of quality Marlborough sauvignon blanc being available for less than $10 a bottle are ending as this year’s disastrous grape harvest starts to push wine prices higher. 

This year’s sauvignon blanc harvest was down 19 per cent on last year’s, and total production of all varieties in Marlborough, the country’s main wine region, was down 23 per cent. 

There are signs that this year’s much smaller vintage is already starting to lift wine export prices from recent lows. . .

Court slams Te Awamutu farm for illegal effluent discharge– Aaron Leaman:

A Te Awamutu farming company has with been hit with almost $32,000 in fines for dirty dairying after a helicopter monitoring flyover raised red flags with their operation. 

    Wyebrook Farms Ltd, owner of a farm in Candy Rd, west of Te Awamutu, has been fined $31,875 and ordered to pay $491 costs following a hearing in the Hamilton District Court. The company pleaded guilty to two Resource Management Act charges. . .

Fourth time lucky for Central Otago viticulture competition winner:

Central Otago viticulturist David Salmon took the honours at the regional Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year competition on Friday (29 June).  This was Mr Salmon’s fourth attempt at the title, finishing runner-up last year, and was “over the moon” to win the competition.

“It has been an ambition of mine for a long time,” says Mr Salmon (30).  “This was my last attempt as I’ll be too old for the competition next year.  I’ve fought hard for this and it’s been my dream to represent Central Otago at the nationals,” he says.

Mr Salmon, who works at Kawarau Estate, Cromwell, took out the award against seven other local wine industry hopefuls, competing in a range of activities including wine taste-testing, pruning, hanging gates, fixing irrigation, testing their machinery handling abilities and finally delivering a speech on a given topic.

Michelle Dacombe from Felton Road Wines came second, improving on her third placing last year, and third place went to Jake Tipler from Peregrine Wines.  This was Mr Tipler’s first entry into the competition. . .

Pesticide programme pays off:

A research project to reduce the use of chemical pesticides on apple orchards has had a huge pay-off for the pipfruit industry.

Analysis by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research has shown that the Apple Futures programme has been worth up to $113 million in export earnings in the past four years, for a research cost of just over $3 million. . .

The March edition of Countrywide is online here.

Aussie farm blogs many styles, many perspectives – Talking Fairleigh links to 50 farm blogs.


Fired pot smoker gets compensation

July 3, 2012

A man who was fired for smoking pot received $6760 in lost wages and $6000 in compensation for unjustifiable dismissal.

The Employment Relations Authority found that Mr O’Connell was unjustifiably dismissed, as he was not been given details of the allegation or the opportunity to respond.

In plain English that doesn’t mean the employer wasn’t justified in sacking the employee, it just means s/he didn’t get the process right.

Most employment contracts have drug use as a sackable offence but you still have to go about it the right way.

But if you can sack people for using drugs while working it isn’t unreasonable to test them before they start.

The left are upset about the plan to cancel benefits for people who won’t take jobs that require drug tests, or who fail tests.

But it’s not an unreasonable requirement:

Prime Minister John Key said on TVNZ’s Breakfast today that taxpayers should not be supporting drug-users who refuse jobs      that involve drug testing.   

“If we’re paying you a benefit; your responsibility is to be work ready, and to be work ready means that you can go along      and actually pass that drugs test. Otherwise we’re sending  completely that wrong message – we’re actually condoning  illegal behaviour.”   

Mr Key said this morning people would turn down jobs because  they knew they would not pass a drug test.   

 “The young person will often say there’s no point in sending me along. I know they drug test at those organisations; I      will fail the test because I smoked marijuana on Saturday  night. We’re all meant to sit back and say ‘well that’s fine,  we’ll just carry on paying your benefit and everything is  fine.’ Well I don’t think that’s acceptable to hardworking Kiwis who are paying for that benefit,” he said.   

 “Choosing to take drugs and expecting not to be work tested  solely for that reason alone is unacceptable.”

People on most benefits are supposed to be work-ready. Not passing a drug test isn’t being work ready.

What’s wrong with having a consequence for that?


NZ’s drinking problem

July 3, 2012

New Zealand has a drinking problem.

This one isn’t drinking too much alcohol but too little milk.

Paediatric dietitian Lea Stening, told the South Island Dairy Event New Zealand’s drinking problem is the declining consumption of milk.

Despite the benefits to health, the annual growth rate in milk consumption had dropped during the past decade, while  the sale of carbonated drinks remained high.   

The New Zealand dairy industry, while focusing on producing      dairy commodities, could not afford to ignore the potential growth in the marketplace for liquid milk products and the      opportunity to improve the health of New Zealanders, she said.   

Outlining the health and nutritional benefits of milk, Ms Stening said it should be easy to sell. It was “the most fantastic product” and had many advantages.   

 She believed Fonterra’s free milk in schools programme, which      is being trialled in Northland, was “brilliant”, but for it to be sustainable, the milk-drinking habit had to transfer      from schools into homes.   

There needed to be a lot more national advertising on the importance of drinking milk, and nutritional education targeting parents was important, she said.

Fonterra’s trial re-introduction of milk in schools in Northland has been successful and the company plans to extend the service to the rest of the country next year.

This is good for children’s health and learning.

It will also introduce milk to children who might not have it at home. There is a risk some parents might think the milk their children get at school is enough. But that should be outweighed by the benefits for the children and the potential for more sales through increased demand from those who get some at school and want more at home.


Ag entry to ETS postponed to 2015

July 3, 2012

Changes to the ETS announced by the government are designed to maintain incentives for emission reductions, without loading large extra costs onto households, employers and exporters.

“Today’s decisions are a reflection of the balanced and responsible approach this Government has taken to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  They offer Kiwi exporters, employers and households certainty in a challenging and changing world economy,” Climate Change Issues Minister Tim Groser says. . .

“We have considered in-depth the recommendations of the ETS Review Panel, listened to what those affected by the ETS are saying, and reviewed what our trading partners are doing.  We also considered feedback through community consultation, including written submissions, a series of regional meetings, and hui.

“The National-led Government remains committed to doing its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it is worth noting that we are the only country outside Europe with a comprehensive ETS.  In these times of uncertainty, the Government has opted not to pile further costs on to households and the productive sector.

“The Government remains an active and engaged participant in the on-going discussions focused on global agreements, and the changes announced today offer us useful flexibility to adapt in the future, while still demonstrating our commitment to doing our fair share,” says Mr Groser.

Not surprisingly the left reckon this is disastrous.

However, Business NZ says the government has taken a reasonably balanced approach to carbon pricing in its amendments.

The protections – companies having to surrender carbon units for only half the carbon they emit, and a cap of $25 per tonne in the price of emissions –recognise the fact that New Zealand is ahead of most of the world in accepting a price on carbon.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly says the changes will maintain incentives for emissions reduction while shoring up New Zealand companies’ ability to compete against companies in other countries.

“The move recognises the financial constraints not only on businesses but also on consumers.  It guards against increases in the price of electricity and fuel that would otherwise occur because of an unequal international playing field.

“This is not a softening of the ETS.  The changes announced today will not reduce the costs currently faced by New Zealand business and consumers.

“We should remember that the current cost of carbon, although relatively low, is still more than is being faced by our trade competitors, and will doubtless increase as the global economy recovers.

“While these amendments do not make the environment harder for business, neither do they make it easier.  Moreover the frequent reviewing of the scheme’s design also loads uncertainty costs onto New Zealand business.

 Federated Farmers says the changes, which include delaying the entry of agriculture into the scheme, are one step towards reality:

The New Zealand Emissions Trading scheme (ETS) has taken a big step towards forward, yet remains the harshest treatment of any agricultural production system on earth.

“The Government realises even tougher measures would hurt not just agriculture but the wider economy,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President and climate change spokesperson.

“Both our Chief Executive, Conor English, at the Rio+20 Earth Summit  and our President, Bruce Wills, at the World Farmers Organisation, got the same message; targeting primary food production in ETS-type policies is anathema to sustainable primary food production.

“In a world preoccupied with the survival of their economies and with food security, there is no point in trying to lead where others will not follow.

“Yes biological emissions account for some 47 percent of New Zealand’s emissions profile.  They also represent 68.1 percent of our merchandise exports and indeed, 100 percent of the food we eat. 

“New Zealand is able to not only feed itself, but produces enough food to feed populations equivalent of Sri Lanka. 

“This is why it is positive the Government has listened to Federated Farmers and will keep agricultural biological emissions out of the ETS until at least 2015. 

“We have retained the one-for-two surrender obligation we asked for, along with the $25 fixed price option. Federated Farmers also wanted offsetting for pre-1990 forests and opposed the reduction of pre-1990 forest allocations. The Government has listened to that too, but those who do offset will be penalised. 

“We are pleased the Government has chosen not to further complicate matters by imposing additional restrictions on the importation of overseas emissions units.

“Despite what some Opposition parties are likely to say following these changes, our ETS remains the harshest on any agricultural production system, anywhere in the world. 

“Unlike other countries where agriculture is given special treatment, farmers here, just like every other business and family, pay the ETS on the fuel and energy we use.  This not only impacts a farm’s bottom line, but the cost of turning what we produce into finished goods for export.   

“Australia’s new Carbon Tax is really aimed at Australia’s 300 largest companies.  Meanwhile, Australian farmers are being financially rewarded for boosting soil carbon levels on-farm. 

“Since 1 January, all agricultural processors in New Zealand have been filing emission returns accounting for agricultural biological emissions.  We are still counting emissions no other government is contemplating, including our cousins across the Tasman.

“While agriculture emissions here grew 9.4 percent between 1990 and 2010, the dollar value these generated for NZ Inc exploded almost five-fold.  Our sector’s emission growth needs to be put into context alongside a 59 percent increase in electricity emissions and 60 percent for transport.

“What’s more former Labour Cabinet Minister, the Hon David Caygill, found emissions in every single unit of agricultural product have fallen some 1.3 percent each year, for the past 20 years. 

“We do not need an ETS to improve our productivity.  Global competition has done that for us. 

“That New Zealand’s farmers are among the world’s most carbon efficient, is an inconvenient truth New Zealanders are not hearing from Opposition politicians. 

“We can do more but that will be through productivity gains and research leadership exemplified by the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases.

“In a world of increasing food deficit, our hope is for Opposition parties to realise being a carbon efficient food exporter is global leadership,” Dr Rolleston concluded.

The Kyoto Protocol was the triumph of politics and bureaucracy over science and negotiations have yet to reach agreement on its successor.

There is nothing to be gained for the environment and a lot to be lost from the economy if agriculture is forced into the scheme when none of our competitors faces similar costs.


July 3 in history

July 3, 2012

324  Battle of Adrianople Constantine I defeated Licinius.

987 Hugh Capet was crowned King of France, the first of the Capetian dynasty.

1608  Québec City was founded by Samuel de Champlain.

1728 Robert Adam, Scottish architect, was born (d. 1792).

1754  French and Indian War: George Washington surrendered Fort Necessity to French forces.

1767 Pitcairn Island was discovered by Midshipman Robert Pitcairn on an expeditionary voyage commanded by Philip Carteret.

1767  Norway’s oldest newspaper still in print, Adresseavisen, was founded and the first edition published.

1775 American Revolutionary War: George Washington took command of the Continental Army.

1778 American Revolutionary War: British forces massacred 360 people in the Wyoming Valley massacre.

1819 The Bank of Savings in New York City, the first savings bank in the United States, opened.

1839  The first state normal school in the United States, the forerunner to today’s Framingham State College, opened in Lexington, Massachusetts with 3 students.

1844 The last pair of Great Auks was killed.

1848  Slaves were freed in the Danish West Indies (now U.S. Virgin Islands) by Peter von Scholten in the culmination of a year-long plot by enslaved Africans.

1849  The French entered Rome to restore Pope Pius IX to power.

1852  Congress established the United States’ 2nd mint in San Francisco, California.

1863  U.S. Civil War: The final day of the Battle of Gettysburg culminated with Pickett’s Charge.

1866  Austro-Prussian War was decided at the Battle of Königgratz, resulting in Prussia taking over as the prominent German nation from Austria.

1884  Dow Jones and Company publishes its first stock average.

1886  Karl Benz  officially unveiled the Benz Patent Motorwagen – the first purpose-built automobile.

1886  The New York Tribune became the first newspaper to use a linotype machine, eliminating typesetting by hand.

1898  Spanish-American War: The Spanish fleet, led by Pascual Cervera y Topete, was destroyed by the U.S. Navy in Santiago, Cuba.

1913  Confederate veterans at the Great Reunion of 1913 reenacted Pickett’s Charge; upon reaching the high-water mark of the Confederacy they were met by the outstretched hands of friendship from Union survivors.

1937 Tom Stoppard, Czech-born, British playwright, was born.

1938  World speed record for a steam railway locomotive was set in England, by the Mallard, which reaches a speed of 126 miles per hour (203 km/h).

1938  President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Eternal Light Peace Memorial and lights the eternal flame at Gettysburg Battlefield.

1940  World War II: the French fleet of the Atlantic was bombarded by the British fleet, coming from Gibraltar, causing the loss of three battleships: Dunkerque, Provence and Bretagne, and death of 1200 sailors.

1944 World War II: Minsk was liberated from Nazi control by Soviet troops during Operation Bagration.

1947 Dave Barry, American humorist and author, was born.

1950 – Ewen Chatfield, New Zealand cricketer, was born.

1951  Richard Hadlee, New Zealand cricketer, was born.

1952  Puerto Rico’s Constitution was approved by the Congress of the United States.

1952  The SS United States set sail on her maiden voyage to Southampton. During the voyage, the ship took the Blue Riband away from the RMS Queen Mary.

1959 Julie Burchill, British journalist and author, was born.

1960 Vince Clarke, British songwriter (Depeche Mode, Yazoo, and Erasure), was born.

1962  Tom Cruise, American actor, was born.

1962  The Algerian War of Independence against the French ended.

1963 In New Zealand’s worst internal civil aviation accident, all 23 passengers and crew were killed when a DC3 crashed in the Kaimai Range. Helicopters were used for the first time in the search and rescue operation that followed.

DC-3 crashes in Kaimai Range

1964 Joanne Harris, British author, was born.

1969  The biggest explosion in the history of rocketry occurred when the Soviet N1 rocket exploded and destroyed its launchpad.

1970 The Troubles: the “Falls Curfew” began in Belfast.

1970  A British Dan-Air De Havilland Comet chartered jetliner crashed into mountains north of Barcelona killing 113 people.

1977 The Senegalese Republican Movement was founded.

1979  US President Jimmy Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul.

1986  US President Ronald Reagan presided over the relighting of the renovated Statue of Liberty.

1988  United States Navy warship USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655 killing all 290 people aboard.

1988 Winston Reid,   New Zealand– Danish Football Player, was born.

1988  The Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey was completed, providing the second connection between the continents of Europe and Asia over the Bosporus.

1994 The deadliest day in Texas traffic history when 46 people were killed in crashes.

1996 Stone of Scone was returned to Scotland.

2001 A Vladivostok Avia Tupolev TU-154 jetliner crashed on approach to landing at Irkutsk, Russia killing 145 people.

2004  Official opening of Bangkok’s subway system.

2005  Same-sex marriage was legalised in Spain.

2006 Valencia metro accident left 43 dead.

2006  Asteroid 2004 XP14 flew within 432,308 kilometres (268,624 mi) of Earth.

2009  Mark II.5 Skytrain cars entered service in Metro Vancouver.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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