Word of the day

October 29, 2012

Transhumance – The action or practice of moving livestock from one grazing ground to another in a seasonal cycle, usually to lowlands in winter and higher country in summer.


Bureaucracy rules not OK

October 29, 2012

If it moves, tax it is supposed to be a tongue in cheek remark, but someone at the Canterbury City Council took it literally by imposing £16 walking permit on people who accessed their homes through a car park:

The council compulsory purchased land to the rear of Cromwell Road, Whitstable, in 1995. It then turned it into what is now known as Bisson’s Car Park. Residents who enter the car park to access the rear of their homes received letters from the council informing them if they wanted to continue doing so they would have to pay for it. Amazingly, someone thought it was a good wheeze to attempt to charge local residents £16 a year for a pedestrian licence; £122 a year for a vehicle licence; get everyone to sign a 13-clause licence agreement; and on top of that require each household to purchase £2 million worth of public liability insurance. . .

Not surprisingly residents weren’t amused and let the council know.

It responded:

. . . Our intention was to regularise existing access to the rear of their properties by granting access licences across the residents’ car park.

However, concerns have been expressed about the proposal so we are going to pause and take time to discuss the situation with them to allow us to find a way forward that meets the needs of all parties. . .

Any utterance which includes the words regularise, find a way forward and meets the needs of all parties in a single sentence should be regarded with extreme caution.

But in this case I think it means they know they’ve got it wrong and are trying to get it right.

 

 


Rural round-up

October 29, 2012

Agricultural debt an economic winner – Brian Gaynor:

New Zealand has a strange attitude towards debt. We criticise the agriculture sector for having too much debt even though it generates the bulk of the country’s export earnings.

Meanwhile individuals are encouraged to take on more and more debt albeit this generates little economic activity and makes residential property less and less affordable for new home buyers.

This weird situation is highlighted in a recent report by the Ministry of Primary Industries, an amalgam of the old agriculture, forestry, fishing and food safety ministries. It also comes through in a major report by ANZ Bank, “Greener Pastures: The Global Soft Commodity Opportunity for Australia and New Zealand”. . .

Farmers may be pressured to trade shares for cash:

Dairy farming representatives have suggested that some highly indebted farmers may find themselves under pressure from their banks to sell the economic rights to some of their Fonterra shares for cash.

Fonterra has released details of the shareholders fund which it’s launching next month as part of its Trading Among Farmers plan.

TAF will allow outsiders to invest in the dividend earnings from shares that farmers deposit in the fund, in exchange for the cash value of the shares. . .

Scientist pursuing life-long fascination – Sally Rae:

Julie Everett-Hincks’ fascination with sheep breeding and lamb survival began at a young age.

Now a senior scientist at AgResearch Invermay, Dr Everett-Hincks grew up on a sheep farm in South Otago and, as soon as she could walk, she was out with her father on the farm.

Even as a young girl, she wondered “why some sheep made better mothers than other sheep”. . .

Ministry boss operation focussed – Tim Fulton:

The petrol-head running the Ministry for Primary Industries loves his engines, although he’s been known to pad around Pastoral House in a sports jacket and the most modern of casual shoes. This man you could have just met at a BBQ is Wayne McNee, a leading driver of the country’s economic growth.

He’s spending a fair bit of private time getting ready to marry for a second time and has only just quit ploughing plenty into his son’s motor-racing career.

Jamie McNee is a top New Zealand hope, having excelled in Toyota Racing formula four and then the Toyota Championship where he finished third, winning a couple of races.

McNee senior says motor-racing is one of his passions but it got to a point with Jamie, spending roughly $150,000 a year, where he couldn’t sustain the cost of funding his career. . .

Sheep take over Spanish streets:

Spanish shepherds led a flock of more than 2,000 sheep through central Madrid on Sunday in defence of ancient grazing, migration and droving rights threatened by urban sprawl and modern agricultural practices.

Many tourists and residents were surprised to see traffic cut to allow the ovine parade to bleat its way across some of Madrid’s most upscale urban streets.

The right to use droving routes that wind across land that was open fields and woodland before Madrid grew from a rural hamlet to the great metropolis it is today has existed since at least 1273. . .

Community Activities and Bass Guitar Balance Busy Farming Lives:
Southland farmer Euan Templeton is not a big TV watcher.As well as running a 545ha sheep and beef farm at Waimatuku, east of Riverton, Euan and wife Linda are involved in a host of off-farm activities that “keep us young”.Music and gardening are key hobbies for the couple. Euan is captain of the local Boys Brigade company, a church elder and a member of the Lions Club. He also sings in the Southern Sounds Barber Shop Chorus and plays bass in a rock band.

All this makes for a busy life, but Euan reckons they have achieved a fairly good balance between the demands of their coastal farm and their off-farm interests. . .


Is it good enough?

October 29, 2012

New Zealand’s education system isn’t world class.

This is the opinion of Ministry of Education chief executive, Lesley Longstone.

[She] wrote in the ministry’s annual report that New Zealand cannot claim to be world class because Maori and Pasifika children and children from poor communities are underperforming. . .

Not surprisingly teacher unions have gone on the defensive but they’re missing the point.

It doesn’t matter how our education system ranks in the world, what matters is whether it’s good enough.

When one in five leave school without basic literacy and numeracy skills and some students who get to university need remedial help it’s not.

The blame for that can’t all be laid on the system or teachers.

If children get to school without pre-reading skills, shift schools often, have insufficient encouragement and support from home and/or don’t have enough food or sleep the best of teachers will struggle to make a difference.

But some children make good progress in spite of the disadvantages they face while others don’t.

What makes the difference?

If the education system was as good as it needs to be it would not only know the answer to that question but how to apply what makes the difference where it’s lacking.

 

 


Crime prevention best

October 29, 2012

Quote of the day:

“. . . . My view has always been that if you can prevent crime it is the best thing you can do.” Justice Minister Judith Collins.


Dare we hope?

October 29, 2012

The Sunday Star times reports that New Zealand has been tipped to quit the Kyoto Protocol.

Kiwiblog points out that isn’t the case. We’ve committed to the five-year period which ends in 10 weeks.

There is no international agreement for any commitment after that.

There is growing speculation the Government’s silence is because it could save face internationally by waiting for big players like China and the US to refuse to sign up to the second Kyoto round, before following suit.

Of course, as it would be economic and environmental madness to have an agreement without them (or India).

But not unilaterally agreeing to a future binding commitment, is vastly different to walking away from a current commitment. If reporters can not understand this, then here’s an analogy.

If I lend you $1,000 and you agree to pay me back $200 a year, and then after five years you have paid me back, are you walking away from your commitment if you don’t keep giving me money in the future?

But OM Financial carbon broker Nigel Brunnel thinks New Zealand will sign up to new commitments in Doha, but then delay ratifying them. That could buy time to pursue aligning with a group of Asia-Pacific partners, and adopting voluntary emissions targets outside of Kyoto.

That fits into two of the Government’s climate-change themes, New Zealand doing its share, and not damaging competitiveness by enforcing heavy carbon payments on businesses when trading partners like the US and China do not.

Because of that, about 85 per cent of world carbon emissions are not covered by international reduction agreements, and it is said in government circles that China’s emissions increase daily by New Zealand’s entire annual carbon output.

It is simple. Any agreement which doesn’t include binding targets by China is worthless in an environmental sense.

The Kyoto Protocol was the triumph of politics and bureaucracy over science and common sense.

It was riddled with inconsistencies for example the liability for some products fell on producers, for others on consumers.

It also used a blanket approach which took no account of individual countries’ differences. The clause which required trees to be replanted where previous ones had been cut down might have made sense if the aim was to preserve native forests. But it made no sense in New Zealand where it might be better to use flat land where pine trees had been felled for pasture and plant trees on steeper land where they would prevent erosion.

It also took a local approach to a global problem which could have perverse consequences. New Zealand has a very high proportion of carbon emissions from animals but we’re also leaders in efficient production of food. Nothing would be achieved for the environment if costs here led to lower production here and higher production from less efficient farmers elsewhere.

So the SST is wrong. We’re not quitting Kyoto but dare we hope New Zealand won’t make any commitment for a second phase and instead put scientific efforts and money into initiatives that really will help the environment without wrecking the economy?


October 29 in history

October 29, 2012

539 BC – Cyrus the Great entered the city of Babylon and detained Nabonidus.

437  Valentinian III, Western Roman Emperor, married Licinia Eudoxia, daughter of his cousin Theodosius II, Eastern Roman Emperor in Constantinople unifying the two branches of the House of Theodosius.

1268 Conradin, the last legitimate male heir of the Hohenstaufen dynasty of Kings of Germany and Holy Roman Emperors, was executed with his companion Frederick I, Margrave of Baden by Charles I of Sicily, a political rival and ally to the hostile Roman Catholic church.

1390  First trial for witchcraft in Paris leading to the death of three people.

1422 Charles VII of France became king.

1467 Battle of Brustem: Charles the Bold defeated Liege.

1618  Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded for allegedly conspiring against James I.

1658  Action of 29 October (Naval battle).

1665  Battle of Ambuila, Portuguese forces defeated the forces of the Kingdom of Kongo and decapitated king Antonio I of Kongo, also called Nvita a Nkanga.

1675  Leibniz made the first use of the long s (∫) as a symbol of the integral in calculus.

1740  James Boswell, Scottish biographer of Samuel Johnson was born (d. 1795).

1787  Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni received its first performance in Prague.

1863  Eighteen countries meeting in Geneva agreed to form the International Red Cross.

1863   American Civil War: Battle of Wauhatchie – forces under Union General Ulysses S. Grant warded off a Confederate attack led by General James Longstreet.

1886 The first ticker-tape parade took place in New York City when office workers spontaneously threw ticker tape into the streets as the Statue of Liberty was dedicated.

1891 Fanny Brice, American singer (d. 1951), was born.

1894 SS Wairarapa was wrecked off Great Barrier Island.

SS <em>Wairarapa</em> wrecked on Great Barrier Is
1897  Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda, was born (d. 1945).

1918 The German High Seas Fleet was incapacitated when sailors mutinied on the night of the 29th-30th, an action which triggered the German revolution.

1921  The Link River Dam, a part of the Klamath Reclamation Project, was completed.

1922   Victor Emmanuel III, appointed Benito Mussolini Prime Minister.

1923  Turkey became a republic following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.

1929   The New York Stock Exchange crashed in the Crash of ’29 or “Black Tuesday”, ending the Great Bull Market of the 1920s and beginning the Great Depression.

1941  Holocaust: In the Kaunas Ghetto over 10,000 Jews were shot by German occupiers at the Ninth Fort, a massacre known as the “Great Action”.

1942  Holocaust: Leading British clergymen and political figures held a public meeting to register outrage over Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews.

1944  Denny Laine, English musician (Moody Blues, Ginger Baker’s Air Force, Wings), was born.

1944  The city of Breda in the Netherlands was liberated by 1st Polish Armoured Division.

1945 Getulio Vargas, president of Brazil, resigned.

1946  Peter Green, English guitarist (Fleetwood Mac), was born.

1947 Richard Dreyfuss, American actor, was born.

1948  Safsaf massacre.

1953  BCPA Flight 304 DC-6 crashed near San Francisco, pianist William Kapell was among the 19 killed.

1955 The Soviet battleship Novorossiisk struck a World War II mine in the harbor at Sevastopol.

1956  Suez Crisis began: Israeli forces invaded the Sinai Peninsula and pushed Egyptian forces back toward the Suez Canal.

1956 Tangier Protocol  signed: The international city Tangier was reintegrated into Morocco.

1956 Kafr Qasim massacre: Israeli Border Police (Magav) shoot and kill 48 Arab civilians for unknowingly disobeying curfue orders imposed by Israeli army in Kafr Qasim, an Arab village.

1957  Israel’s prime minister David Ben Gurion and five of his ministers were injured when a hand grenade was tossed into Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.

1961  Syria left the United Arab Republic.

1964  Tanganyika and Zanzibar united to form the Republic of Tanzania.

1964 – A collection of irreplaceable gems, including the 565 carat (113 g) Star of India, was stolen from the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

1966 National Organization For Women was founded.

1967  London criminal Jack McVitie was murdered by the Kray twins, leading to their eventual imprisonment and downfall.

1967 Montreal’s World Fair, Expo 67, closed.

1969  The first-ever computer-to-computer link was established on ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet.

1969  US Supreme Court ruled that school districts must end segregation “now and hereafter”.

1980  Demonstration flight of a secretly modified C-130 for an Iran hostage crisis rescue attempt ended in crash landing  leading to cancellation of Operation Credible Sport.

1983  More than 500,000 people demonstrated against cruise missiles in The Hague.

1985  Major General Samuel K. Doe was announced the winner of the first multi-party election in Liberia.

1986  British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher opened the last stretch of the M25 motorway.

1991 The American Galileo spacecraft made its closest approach to 951 Gaspra, becoming the first probe to visit an asteroid.

1995 The Hoax film Forgotten Silver screened.

Forgotten Silver film hoax screened

1998  Apartheid: In South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission presented its report, which condemned both sides for committing atrocities.

1998 – Space Shuttle Discovery blasted off on STS-95 with 77-year old John Glenn on board, making him the oldest person to go into space.

1998 – ATSC HDTV broadcasting in the United States was inaugurated with the launch of STS-95 space shuttle mission.

1998 A Turkish Airline flight with a crew of 6 and 33 passengers was hijacked by a Kurdish militant who ordered the pilot to fly to Switzerland. The plane instead landed in Ankara after the pilot tricked the hijacker into thinking that he was landing in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia to refuel.

1998 – Hurricane Mitch, the second deadliest Atlantic hurricane in history, made landfall in Honduras.

1998 The Gothenburg nightclub fire in Sweden claimed 63 lives and injures 200

1999  A large cyclone devastated Orissa, India.

2002  Ho Chi Minh City ITC Inferno, a fire destroyed a luxurious department store where 1500 people shopping. Over 60 people died.

2004  The Arabic news network Al Jazeera broadcast an excerpt from a video of Osama bin Laden in which the terrorist leader first admitted direct responsibility for the September 11, 2001 attacks and references the 2004 U.S. presidential election.

2004  In Rome, European heads of state signed the Treaty and Final Act establishing the first European Constitution.

2005  Delhi bombings killed more than 60.

2008 Delta Air Lines merged with Northwest Airlines, creating the world’s largest airline and reducing the number of US legacy carriers to 5.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikiepda


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