Word of the day

October 17, 2012

Apocryphal – of doubtful authenticity, although widely circulated as being true; often considered to be true, but probably false; of questionable authorship or authenticity; erroneous; fictitious; of or belonging to the Apocrypha.


Rural round-up

October 17, 2012

Meanwhile back at the ranch – Fran O’Sullivan:

Is Fonterra’s Sir Henry van der Heyden staying on past his use-by date as the dairy co-operative’s chairman to protect chairman-elect John Wilson from a boardroom coup?

That question was doing the rounds even before Fonterra confirmed on September 27 that van der Heyden would not step down from the board as expected this December when he hands over the chairmanship to John Wilson at the co-op’s AGM.

Van der Heyden will instead stay on for an unspecified period – expected to be much less than the December 2013 period when his term as an elected board member runs out – to ostensibly “provide continuity around the board table” until after Trading among Farmers (Taf) is up and running. . .

Maintaining lifestyle balance – Sally Rae:

Keri Johnston was about halfway through her final year at St Kevin’s College, in Oamaru, when she decided to pursue an engineering degree.

Ms Johnston had always loved science and mathematics but laughingly recalled how she hated the sight of blood, which ruled out anything in the medical profession.

After hearing a talk from a lecturer from the University of Canterbury School of Engineering, she decided engineering was something she might like to do. . .

Rabobank Australia & NZ country banking head appointed CEO of US Rabo AgriFinance:

Rabobank Australia and New Zealand Group country banking division head Neil Dobbin has been appointed to run Rabobank’s United States agri banking business, Rabo Agri Finance (RAF).

Mr Dobbin – a veteran of 25 years with Rabobank in Australia and New Zealand, the past decade as group executive Country Banking Australia & New Zealand – has taken on the role of chief executive officer for RAF.

Announcing the appointment, Rabobank Group executive board member Berry Marttin said during Mr Dobbin’s stewardship of its Country Banking operations in Australia and New Zealand, Rabobank had grown to become the leading food and agribusiness bank in the region. . .

New voice for local farmers

The new president of Federated Farmers in Wairarapa is aiming to make sure local farmers have their voice heard.

Bideford’s Jamie Falloon was voted in on Tuesday night by the executive committee to replace outgoing president Paul McGill, who is taking up a position at Landcorp in Wellington.

Mr Falloon, 43, lives in Bideford with his wife Georgie and three children Joe, 9, John, 6 and Anabelle, 4. . .

Blue sky thinking from green fingered finalists:

Ideas that cut the cost of heating propagation beds to grow plants and turn frost fans into power generators are just two of the six projects being developed by the finalists for the Agmardt Market Innovation project in the 2012 Young Horticulturist of the Year Competition. Other innovation ideas include collapsible crates for freighting small plants, an instant rollout flower mat, and a design that takes weeding to a new level.

Six finalists from around New Zealand who have won their industry sector competitions are preparing for the intensive two day competition on November 14 and 15 in Auckland.

“The standard this year is amazing; I think the judges will have difficulty selecting the winner,” says Nicola Rochester, Chair of the RNZIH Education Trust, which manages the competition. . .


Live stream Obama Romny debate 2

October 17, 2012

The second debate between Presidential nominees Barack Obama and Mitt Romney  will be live streamed by the Washington Post here.


Err?

October 17, 2012

Question 2 in parliament today:

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Minister responsible for the GCSB: Specifically, have there been staff issues associated with the Government Communications Security Bureau and Dotcom affair brought to his attention by the Government Communications Security Bureau or members of the New Zealand Police, in which such staff members no longer work in their previous capacity for the Government Communications Security Bureau or any government agency; if so, what were the circumstances?

I think I know what he mean but he’s said it in such a convoluted way that it leaves him wide open for an answer he might wish he’d never sought.


Dying for education

October 17, 2012

Waitaki Girls’ High School celebrates its 125th anniversary today.

It is, I think, the fifth oldest girls’ secondary school in New Zealand.

Otago Girls’ High was the first girls’ secondary school in the country, opening in 1871. Christchurch Girls’ opened in 1877, Nelson Girls’ College in 1883, New Plymouth Girls’ in 1885 and Waitaki opened in 1887.

Secondary education for girls wasn’t considered necessary back then.

The Honour of Her Name, The Story of Waitaki Girls’ High School, 1887 – 1987  begins:

It was assumed that a girl would marry and if she could cook, sew, rear children and keep her husband happy, no more was required of her. Elementary education would have given her skills in reading, writing and numbering sufficient to carry her through life and she might not even make use of them. . .

The idea that girls don’t need education thankfully belongs to history here but that is not so in all other parts of the world.
There are still some places where education for girls isn’t considered necessary and others where it can be dangerous.
Fourteen year-old Malala Yousufzai, is recovering in a British hospital after being shot by the Taliban last week.

Malala was flown from Pakistan, via the United Arab Emirates in an air ambulance, a week after she and two other schoolgirls were attacked as they returned home from school in Mingora in the Swat valley.

She became widely known as a campaigner for girls’ education in Pakistan after writing a diary for BBC Urdu about life under the Taliban, when they banned girls from attending school.

The National Youth Assembly has appealed to the government to nominate appealed the government to nominate Malala for a Nobel Peace Prize.
“As an international symbol of freedom, peace and education, she deserves the most for this prestigious award,” said NYA President Hanan Ali Abbasi while talking to Agency here on Monday.

“Malala, also a member of the NYA, is the most precious asset of the NYA and “we have launched a global campaign on social media for her justifiable projection and right,” informed Hanan. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, in a statement and a message to the world said, “Malala is a role model not only for your country, but for our world,” adding that education was a fundamental right for everybody.”

The people who worked so hard for the right for girls to be educated here more than 100 years ago would no doubt be delighted with the opportunities they have today.
We should be grateful to the pioneers and also mindful that access to education still isn’t universal. Some girls still risk dying for education.

Fewer WoFs, safer cars?

October 17, 2012

When the flashing lights came on behind me I knew I hadn’t been speeding but there was no other car in sight so I pulled over.

The police officer stopped behind me, came up to the window and said only one of my rear lights was working.

I told him I’d only just got a warrant of fitness.

He replied, that meant the car was fine on the day, it didn’t mean it would stay that way.

I’ve been thinking about in light of the conversation about proposed changes to Warrants of Fitness regulations.

The Motor Trade Association is urging caution:

With WoF and CoF inspections acting as a trigger for vehicle maintenance for many owners, it plays a key role in maintaining the state of our fleet at a very basic level. MTA will be providing a strong submission to Government to retain current inspection frequencies, but believes the inspection process can be improved to take into account the many new safety technologies in today’s vehicles.

There should be no changes to the current system unless there is a stronger commitment to education on maintaining vehicles and significantly more police enforcement. While that might be achievable in the longer term, it is likely to result in a transfer of costs from motorists to government thereby defeating the very aims the reforms set out to achieve.
Stronach says “While you might save $45 a year and perhaps 40 minutes out of your day, there may well be increases in other costs, including higher insurance premiums. We think all motorists want to have confidence that every vehicle on the road is safe, not just theirs, regular and comprehensive inspections are a good value for money way to achieve this.”

The Automobile Association thinks the changes could improve road safety:

“Some of the opponents of change to the WoF system seem to be cherry-picking information and not mentioning the time and cost benefits for motorists from a revised testing scheme nor the changes we can make to improve vehicle safety,” says AA spokesperson Mark Stockdale.

As part of the AA’s analysis of the changes being proposed, we looked at the data on every fatal crash in New Zealand over five years from 2007-2011. We did this to understand the possible safety impacts of any changes.

The crash data showed that out of 1640 crashes, there were 89 (or 5.4%) where a vehicle fault or factor was found that may have contributed to the crash.

Of the vehicles in those 89 crashes, 39% did not have a current WoF and 52% had a tyre fault.

Analysis of overall NZ road crashes indicates that vehicle faults contribute to about 2.5% of all fatal and injury crashes and to 0.4% where the fault is the sole cause of the crash.

To put that in some context, the most common factors contributing to fatal crashes are alcohol or drugs (36%), a driver losing control (34%) and going too fast for the conditions (32%).

“Vehicle faults do play a part in a small number of road crashes but it’s misleading to simply claim that changing the WoF frequency will lead to that number increasing,” says Mr Stockdale.

“Nearly 40% of the vehicles with faults that were involved in fatal crashes didn’t have a WoF anyway, so how frequently they are supposed to be getting one is not the issue.

“Worn tyres are another key factor in crashes but there are other ways to target this than solely through a WoF.

“Rather than having a regime that is testing the majority of motorists excessively we need to focus more on enforcement to get vehicles without WoFs off the road and investigate ways to better monitor tyre condition.”

Less regular checks would put more responsibility on drivers to check tyres and keep up with other maintenance that we ought to do anyway.

That could make vehicles safer because as I found out getting a warrant doesn’t mean everything keeps working as it ought until the next one.

The AA has more information on the issue on its website.


GDT milk price up 1.8%

October 17, 2012

The trade weighted price went up 1.8% in this morning’s GlobalDairyTrade auction.

 

The price of anhydrous milk fat dropped 3.2%; butter milk increased 4.3%, cheddar dropped 9.9%, milk protein concentrate was up 4.2%, rennet casein was down 2.2%, skim milk powder was up .8% and whole milk powder increased 9.2%.

 


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