Word of the day

September 7, 2012

Demotic – denoting or relating to  ordinary people; of or pertaining to the ordinary, everyday, current form of a language; vernacular; popular or colloquial;  of, relating to, or written in a simplified form of the ancient Egyptian hieratic writing.


Two NZers too many for WTO?

September 7, 2012

Trade Minister Tim Groser has confirmed he’s keen on taking the top job at the World Trade Organisation.

With his background in negotiations and more recently politics he would be well qualified for the position, but qualifications aren’t the only consideration.

Geography counts too and there’s a feeling two from New Zealand could be one too many:

. . . So far, only two have said they want the job.

One is New Zealand’s Trade Minister Tim Groser, who starts with a double disadvantage: most diplomats say it is the “developing countries’ turn”, and New Zealand has already held the job once in the WTO’s 17 year history.

One trade negotiator said it would be “very peculiar” for two of the WTO’s first six chiefs to come from the same small, rich country.

Another said he regularly met Groser and said he was “very down to earth. But another New Zealander? I don’t think so.” . . .

Former Prime Minister Mike Moore headed the WTO from 1999 – 2002 and was generally regarded as doing it well. But his relatively recent tenure could handicap Groser’s bid.


Friday’s answers

September 7, 2012

1. Who said: “Women have got to make the world safe for men since men have made it so darned unsafe for women.”?

2.  No Safe Harbour  is a book for young adults about which New Zealand maritime disaster and who wrote it?

3. It’s sûr in French, sicuro in Italian,  seguro in Spanish and haumaru in Maori, what is it in English?

4. Legislation enacted in 1972 made the use of what compulsory in New Zealand?

5. Sir William Gallagher made what to keep his car safe from a horse?

Points for answers:

Freddy got three – though yesterday was Thursday all day, unlike last week when I muddled it with Friday.

Andrei got three and the answer to #1 is worth a bonus for effort.

Alwyn wins an electronic bunch of daffodils with five right.

Grant got four.

Gravedodger got four too with a  bonus for extra information, no sign of mental degradation.

Answers follow the break.

Read the rest of this entry »


ECan commissioners to stay

September 7, 2012

Local Body and Environment Ministers David Carter and Amy Adams have announced that commissioners will continue to govern Environment Canterbury after 2013:

A Bill to extend Commissioner governance until the 2016 local authority elections, with a ministerial review in 2014, will be tabled in Parliament today.

“The Commissioners, under the leadership of Dame Margaret Bazley, have proved highly effective in addressing urgent problems with water management in Canterbury and in rebuilding key stakeholder relationships,” Mr Carter said.

“Their strong governance through the earthquake response and rebuild planning has been excellent and it is vital that this work continues. The disruption caused by the earthquakes has made the Canterbury situation unique, and the focus must now be on ensuring the region can maximise its full economic potential as Christchurch rebuilds.

“In the interests of Canterbury’s progress, and to protect the gains the Commissioners have made, the Government has decided the best option is to continue with the current governance arrangement,” Mr Carter said. . .

Environment Minister Amy Adams says it is imperative that Canterbury’s freshwater resources continue to be managed and governed effectively.

“The Canterbury region has significant economic growth potential but also faces significant challenges. It is critical for New Zealand that the planning governance structure for Environment Canterbury is stable, effective and efficient,” Ms Adams said.

“To keep the freshwater management work on track, we intend to retain the limited appeal rights on decisions made by Environment Canterbury on plans and policy statements relating to freshwater management.”

The Ministers thanked the Commissioners for their efforts over the past two years.

“In the face of enormous challenges, the Commissioners have done a great job of managing Canterbury’s vital freshwater and natural resources. We look forward to further progress for Cantabrians and the continued growth of the region,” the Ministers said.

One measure of the change at the council since commissioners took over governance is processing consents.

ECan had the worst record for processing consents under the dysfunctional council, it is now one of the best.

Postponing elections for another three years is a big step but it’s justified by the size of the task facing ECan.

The earthquakes have given the council a lot more work and made it even more important that it works well.

 


MMP submission close today

September 7, 2012

Submissions on the Electoral Commission’s recommendations for the review of MMP close at 5pm today.

I voted against MMP each time there’s been a referendum.

The majority view differs from mine.

Last year a small majority voted for MMP again – but who knows exactly what they were voting for?

Was it the status quo or a review, the outcome of which they could influence but not control?

The process was flawed but we can’t change that. We do however, have one last chance to give our views.

The submission form is here.

I’ve just completed my submission – opting for the status quo.

I don’t like MMP but I like the proposed recommendations even less.

I am also disappointed the commission didn’t address one of  MMP’s biggest flaws – poorer representation for individuals because of the size of electorates.

Increasing the population tolerance from 5% to 10%  when boundaries are set would enable the bigger seats to be geographically smaller and give greater scope for the Boundaries’ Commission to take account of community of interest.


First they came for the apples

September 7, 2012

Australian apple growers spent years trying to keep New Zealand apples out of their country on biosecurity grounds.

Now their potato growers are following their example:

AusVeg, the national industry body for vegetable growers,  says it’s “dismayed” the federal government has so far failed to block New  Zealand potato imports that puts $A1.5 billion ($NZ1.9b) of production at risk  from tomato-potato psyllid, “a destructive insect wreaking havoc in New  Zealand”.

“The processing sector in New Zealand has stated recently  that potato production in the North Island is on a knife’s edge as a result of  this pest,” AusVeg spokesman William Churchill said in a statement.

“Why are we willing to roll the dice and play games with our  primary industries and food manufacturing sector?”

Who can blame them?

Growers here would try the same tactic if they were worried about imports, whether they were motivated by biosecurity concerns or fear of competition.


Do we still need to feed the world?

September 7, 2012

New Zealand is regarded as a leader in farming but we’re at risk of being left well behind if we don’t adopt 21st century biotechnology.

Crop-enhancing biotechnology is the world’s best hope of feeding a population expected to double by 2050, but scientists at an international conference in Rorotua this week warned NZ is in danger of missing the bus as resistance to genetic modification blocks development. AgResearch scientist Tony Conner said the amount of land planted with GM crops worldwide last year was 6 times the size of NZ. “If we continue to not adopt this technology, we run a huge risk of being left behind..In another decade we could be dealing with yesterday’s crops.”

No GM crops are grown in NZ, despite the vast potential for improved output from homegrown GM pastures, alongside exported products such as tomatoes, capsicum and squash. The loss in not embracing GM has been put at $1.5bn.

The reason we’re not embracing GM is that opposition based on emotion rather than science is dominating the discussion.

Caution with anything new is sensible but the blanket ban on genetic modification is blinkered.

Green MP Steffan Browning who helped lead a protest against the conference contends NZ should rely on organic and traditional means of producing food. “Rather than going for volume we need to be going for best value and not compromise our brand.” A research study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine could find little evidence food produced organically, without artificial fertilisers or other chemicals, is healthier or the vitamin content was any different.

Genetic modification might help farmers reduce the need for artificial fertilisers and pesticides, it would definitely enable us to produce more.

Food security is one of the biggest issues facing the world.

Although we export most of the food we produce, it’s not a lot on a global scale. Genetic modification could enable us to produce more food with better nutritional value.

If we could do more to feed the world, should we, or is it acceptable to keep the blinkers on, worry only about our little corner and let someone else concern themselves with feeding the hungry?


September 7 in history

September 7, 2012

1191 Third Crusade: Battle of Arsuf – Richard I of England defeated Saladin at Arsuf.

1524 Thomas Erastus, Swiss theologian, was born (d. 1583).

1533 Queen Elizabeth I, was born(d. 1603).

1652 Around 15,000 Han farmers and militia rebelled against Dutch rule on Taiwan.

1776  World’s first submarine attack: the American submersible craft Turtle attempted to attach a time bomb to the hull of British Admirl Richard Howe’s flagship HMS Eagle in New York Harbour.

1812 Napoleonic Wars: Battle of Borodino – Napoleon defeated the Russian army of Alexander I near the village of Borodino.

1818 Carl III of Sweden-Norway is crowned king of Norway.

1819 Thomas A. Hendricks, 21st Vice President of the United States, was born (d. 1885).

1821 The Republic of Gran Colombia was established, with Simón Bolívar as the founding President and Francisco de Paula Santander as vice president.

1822 Dom Pedro I declared Brazil independent from Portugal.

1860 Grandma Moses, American painter, ws born (d. 1961).

1860 Steamship Lady Elgin sank on Lake Michigan, with the loss of around 400 lives.

1862 Sir Edgar Speyer, American-born British financier and philanthropist, ws born (d. 1932).

1868 Prussian soldier of fortune Gustavus Ferdinand von Tempsky was killed during the assault on Titokowaru’s pa in south Taranaki.

Von Tempsky killed at Te Ngutu-o-te-manu

1887 Edith Sitwell, British poet and critic, was born (d. 1964).

1893  The Genoa Cricket & Athletic Club, to become the first Italian football club, was established by British expats.

1895  The first game of what would become known as rugby league was played, in England, starting the 1895-96 Northern Rugby Football Union season.

1901 The Boxer Rebellion in China officially ended with the signing of the Boxer Protocol.

1906 Alberto Santos-Dumont flew his 14-bis aircraft at Bagatelle, France for the first time successfully.

1907 Cunard Line’s RMS Lusitania set sail on her maiden voyage from Liverpool, England to New York City.

1909 – New Zealand’s heaviest gold nugget was found by Messrs Scott and Sharpe at Ross on the West Coast.

1909 Eugene Lefebvre (1878–1909), while test piloting a new French-built Wright biplane, crashed at Juvisy France. He died, becoming the first ‘pilot’ in the world to lose his life in a powered heavier-than-air craft.

1911 French poet Guillaume Apollinaire was arrested and put in jail on suspicion of stealing the Mona Lisa from the Louvre museum.

1913 Anthony Quayle, British actor and director, was born (d. 1989).

1916 Federal employees won the right to Workers’ compensation by(Federal Employers Liability Act (39 Stat. 742; 5 U.S.C. 751)

1920 Two newly purchased Savoia flying boats crashed in the Swiss Alps en-route to Finland where killing both crews.

1921 – The NZ Maori  team played the Springboks for the first time.

1921 The first Miss America Pageant, a two-day event, was held.

1922 Independence of Aydin, from Greek occupation.

1925 Laura Ashley, British designer, was born (d. 1985).

1927 Eric Hill, British children’s Author, was born.

1927  The first fully electronic television system was achieved by Philo Taylor Farnsworth.

1929  Steamer Kuru capsised and sNk on Lake Näsijärvi, Finland with 136 lives lost.

1936 The last surviving member of the thylacine species, Benjamin, died alone in her cage at the Hobart Zoo.

1936 Buddy Holly, American singer (The Crickets), was born (d. 1959).

1940   The Blitz – Nazi Germany began to rain bombs on London, the first of 57 consecutive nights of bombing.

1940 Treaty of Craiova: Romania lost Southern Dobrudja to Bulgaria.

1942  8,700 Jews of Kolomyia (western Ukraine) sent by German Gestapo to death camp in Belzec.

1942  First flight of the Consolidated B-32 Dominator.

1943  A fire at the Gulf Hotel in Houston, Texas, killed 55 people.

1945  Japanese forces on Wake Island, which they had held since December of 1941, surrendered to U.S. Marines.

1949 Gloria Gaynor, American singer, was born.

1951 Chrissie Hynde, American guitarist and singer (The Pretenders), was born.

1953 Nikita Khrushchev was elected first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

1957 Jermaine Stewart, American pop singer (Shalamar and Culture Club), was born (d. 1997).

1970 – Bill Shoemaker set record for most lifetime wins as a jockey (passing Johnny Longden).

1977 The Torrijos-Carter Treaties between Panama and the United States on the status of the Panama Canal were signed.

1978  While walking across Waterloo Bridge in London Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was assassinated by Bulgarian secret police agent Francesco Giullino by means of a ricin pellet fired from in a specially-designed umbrella.

1978 British Prime Minister James Callaghan announced that he would not call a general election for October, considered to be a major political blunder.

1979 The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, ESPN, made its debut.

1979 – The Chrysler Corporation asked the United States government for USD $1.5 billion to avoid bankruptcy.

1986  Desmond Tutu became the first black man to lead the Anglican Church in South Africa.

1986  Gen. Augusto Pinochet, president of Chile, escaped attempted assassination.

1988 Abdul Ahad Mohmand, the first Afghan in space, returned aboard the Soviet spacecraft Soyuz TM-5 after 9 days on the Mir space station.

1999 A 5.9 magnitude earthquake rocked Athens, rupturing a previously unknown fault, killing 143, injuring more than 500, and leaving 50,000 people homeless.

2004 Hurricane Ivan, a Category 5 hurricane hit Grenada, killing 39 and damaging 90% of its buildings.

2005 First presidential election was held in Egypt.

2008  The US Government took control of the two largest mortgage financing companies in the US, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

2010 – A Chinese fishing trawler collided with two Japanese Coast Guard patrol boats in disputed waters near the islands. The collisions occurred around 10am, after the Japanese Coast Guard ordered the trawler to leave the area. After the collisions, Japanese sailors boarded the Chinese vessel and arrested the captain, Zhan Qixiong.

2011 – A plane crash in Russia killed 43 people, including nearly the entire roster of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Kontinental Hockey League team.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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