Word of the day

November 12, 2012

Consuetudinary – customary; established custom or usage, especially one having legal force; a manual describing the customs of a particular group, especially the ceremonial practices of a monastic order.


Rural round-up

November 12, 2012

Gene research findings borne out – Richard Rennie:

The latest research on mutated gene benefits for lamb carcase yield is borne out by a Southland farmer’s experience.

The “Myomax” gene is a trait carried by the Texel breed, contributing to increased meat yield

on shoulders, loins and leg cuts, but is now delivering benefits across all breed types.

Recent research work by AgResearch scientist Patricia Johnson has shown lambs with a double copy of the gene are delivering significantly increased yields to those without the gene.

Long time Southland Romney breeder Andrew Tripp of Nithdale Station in eastern Southland has been involved in identifying the gene since 2005 when the science was still developing. . .

High inventories in Britain are affecting NZ lamb sales – Alan Williams:

High inventory and low sale levels for French racks and other middle carcase cuts are putting a dampener on an otherwise positive outlook for sheepmeat exports to Europe.

This is the view of Taylor Preston Ltd chief executive Simon Gatenby after his latest sales trip, which included the company exhibiting cuts at the Sial food show in Paris.

Middle cuts such as French racks and loins make up just 5% of a carcase but provide about 20% of the value, and until the inventories are used up and new buying starts there will continue to be a sentiment overhang in the market, Gatenby said. . .

Five Nuffield Farming Scholars named for 2013

Five prestigious Nuffield New Zealand Scholarships have been announced for 2013.

They are spread from Northland to Southland – Dairy NZ regional leader Tafadzwa Manjala from Whangarei, ANZ rural banker Sophie Stanley from Hamilton, rural entrepreneur Lisa Harper from Picton, Meridian Energy national agribusiness manager Natasha King from Christchurch and Northern Southland farmer and retailer Stephen Wilkins from Athol.

The research topics they are likely to cover are faster uptake and application of current and new management practices on farm, the use of social media to boost the New Zealand brand, encouraging innovation in rural businesses, using gas and electricity generation to solve effluent and water management issues and looking into synergies between arable and dairy from a nutrient and effluent perspective.

The Nuffield NZ Scholarship offers the opportunity for overseas travel, study of the latest developments in a number of leading agricultural countries, and provides an entrée to leaders and decision makers not accessible to the ordinary traveller. . .

Warkworth: dog tales shear joy - Dionne Christian:

Our trip to SheepWorld in Warkworth got off to a slightly bad start when Miss Seven threw a tantrum about not being able to take her dog.

“But why do you want to take the dog when there are going to be other dogs there already?” I asked, trying in vain to reason with her. It was no good and she vowed not to smile during the entire visit.

I needn’t have worried about her pity party raining on our parade because she started smiling the moment we turned into SheepWorld and saw pink sheep in the front paddock. . .

What to do with sheep – coNZervative:

Pop over to see extreme sheep LED art.


Finlayson tops Herald’s ministerial rankings

November 12, 2012

Attorney General and Minister for Treaty Negotiations and Labour Chris Finlayson has number one spot in the NZ Herald’s ministerial rankings.

Audrey Young dubs him the Minister for results:

Chris Finlayson has emerged as one of John Key’s most valuable ministers in National’s second term. He has scored the highest rating of all ministers in my report card on the Executive prepared with colleagues in the Herald press gallery team. . .

Mr Finlayson is Attorney-General and Treaty Negotiations Minister. He is also Labour Minister since Kate Wilkinson resigned after the royal commission’s damning report into the Pike River disaster.

On the face of it, that may not seem a natural fit – and it may be just a temporary appointment until the next reshuffle. But Mr Finlayson’s skill set may be the right one to keep the job for the rest of the term. He gets results. He has a big intellect and has a good head for detail. But he is also emotionally intelligent, and was a good choice to send to the West Coast to discuss the report with the Pike River families.

His achievements in Treaty Negotiations are the most notable. Who would have imagined two years ago the Government concluding a deal with Tuhoe?

He doesn’t make a fuss but gets things done and the number of Treaty settlements successfully concluded is worthy of praise.

Health Minister Tony Ryall and Justice Minister Judith Collins scored highly as well. The Opposition has been able to inflict few dents on the Government in health, such is Mr Ryall’s control after four years in the portfolio. Labour has had three spokespeople over four years. . .

At the other end of the ranking was education Minister Hekia Parata.

Education is always a tough portfolio and always seems to be tougher for National ministers.

That is partly due to the strength of teacher unions which are ideologically opposed to the party regardless of the merit of its policies.

Let’s not forget that for all the bad press, the Minister has kept an unrelenting and much needed focus on improving standards, especially for that long tail of under achievers.

Then there’s the Ministry of Education which has obviously learned nothing from the debacle over school closures udner Trevor Mallard in the last Labour government’s first term .

Closing or merging schools is always going to be fraught. Doing it in Christchurch which was already dealing with so much after the earthquakes required extra sensitivity which it didn’t get.

How some of the really silly suggestions, merging Avonside and Christchurch Girls’, and Christchurch and Shirley Boys’ for example which even the minister admits was crazy,  was ever mooted, let alone presented for discussion, is difficult to understand.

And a ministry which says it didn’t gives schools information because it was too complex requires radical surgery.

The full ranking (in Cabinet order) is:

John Key – 7
Prime Minister, Tourism, SIS, GCSB

Bill English – 8
Finance

Gerry Brownlee – 7.5
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, Transport

Steven Joyce – 7
Economic Development

Judith Collins – 8.5
Justice, ACC

Tony Ryall – 8.5
Health, State-owned Enterprises

Hekia Parata – 3
Education

Chris Finlayson – 9
Attorney General, Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Labour

Paula Bennett – 7
Social Development

David Carter – 8
Primary Industries, Local Government

Murray McCully – 7
Foreign Affairs

Anne Tolley – 7
Police, Corrections

Jonathan Coleman – 8
Defence, State Services

Tim Groser – 8
Trade, Climate Change issues

Phil Heatley – 5
Housing, Energy and Resources

Kate Wilkinson – 4
Conservation, Food Safety

Nathan Guy – 6
Immigration, Veteran’s Affairs, Associate Primary Industries

Craig Foss – 6
Commerce, Broadcasting

Amy Adams – 7
Environment, Communication and Information Technology

Chris Tremain – 6
Internal Affairs

Maurice Williamson – 7
Building, Customs, Land Information

Jo Goodhew – 6
Senior Citizens, Women’s Affairs

Chester Borrows – 6
Courts, Associate Justice, Associate Social Development

Simon Bridges – 7
Consumer Affairs, Associate Climate Change, Associate Transport


Finlayson tops Herald’s ministerial rankings

November 12, 2012

The Attorney General, Minister for Treaty Negotiations and now acting Minister of Labour, Chris Finlayson is number one in the NZ Herald’s ministerial rankings.

Chris Finlayson has emerged as one of John Key’s most valuable ministers in National’s second term. He has scored the highest rating of all ministers in my report card on the Executive prepared with colleagues in the Herald press gallery team. . .

Mr Finlayson is Attorney-General and Treaty Negotiations Minister. He is also Labour Minister since Kate Wilkinson resigned after the royal commission’s damning report into the Pike River disaster.

On the face of it, that may not seem a natural fit – and it may be just a temporary appointment until the next reshuffle. But Mr Finlayson’s skill set may be the right one to keep the job for the rest of the term. He gets results. He has a big intellect and has a good head for detail. But he is also emotionally intelligent, and was a good choice to send to the West Coast to discuss the report with the Pike River families.

His achievements in Treaty Negotiations are the most notable. Who would have imagined two years ago the Government concluding a deal with Tuhoe?

I think this is well deserved.  He doesn’t make a fuss but gets things done. The number of Treaty negotiations successfully concluded is in deed notable

Health Minister Tony Ryall and Justice Minister Judith Collins scored highly as well. The Opposition has been able to inflict few dents on the Government in health, such is Mr Ryall’s control after four years in the portfolio. Labour has had three spokespeople over four years. . .

At the other end of the ranking, education Minister Hekia Parata scored only 3.

The education portfolio is always a tough one. That it is tougher for National ministers in part shows the difficulty of effecting change in the face of strong unions which are ideologically opposed to the party regardless of the policy.

In spite of that and opposition from teacher unions at every step,the Minister has kept an unrelenting and sorely needed focus on improving standards, particularly for the long tail of underachievers.

Her work appears to have been handicapped at times by the Ministry of Education which seems to have learned nothing from the debacle over school closures under Trevor Mallard in the last Labour government’s first term.

School closure is always emotionally fraught. In Christchurch in the wake of earthquakes there was even more need for great care. The announcement and some really silly suggestions, such as merging Avonside and Christchurch Girls’, and Shirley and Christchurch Boys’ was, as Hekia Parata herself says crazy.

The loss of more than 9,000 pupils and earthquake damage to school property necessitated change, and major change at that, but a Ministry which handled such a sensitive issue so badly and says it didn’t give schools all the information because it was too complex needs major surgery.

The Herald’s rank (in ministerial order) is:

John Key – 7, Prime Minister, Tourism, SIS, GCSB

Bill English – 8, Finance

Gerry Brownlee – 7.5, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, Transport

Steven Joyce – 7, Economic Development

Judith Collins – 8.5, Justice, ACC

Tony Ryall – 8.5, Health, State-owned Enterprises

Hekia Parata – 3, Education

Chris Finlayson – 9,Attorney General, Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Labour

Paula Bennett – 7, Social Development

David Carter – 8, Primary Industries, Local Government

Murray McCully – 7, Foreign Affairs

Anne Tolley – 7, Police, Corrections

Jonathan Coleman – 8, Defence, State Services

Tim Groser – 8, Trade, Climate Change issues

Phil Heatley – 5, Housing, Energy and Resources

Kate Wilkinson – 4, Conservation, Food Safety

Nathan Guy – 6, Immigration, Veteran’s Affairs, Associate Primary Industries

Craig Foss – 6, Commerce, Broadcasting

Amy Adams – 7, Environment, Communication and Information Technology

Chris Tremain – 6, Internal Affairs

Maurice Williamson – 7, Building, Customs, Land Information

Jo Goodhew – 6, Senior Citizens, Women’s Affairs

Chester Borrows – 6, Courts, Associate Justice, Associate Social Development

Simon Bridges – 7, Consumer Affairs, Associate Climate Change, Associate Transport


Why should the taxpayer pay?

November 12, 2012

Plunket, like most other submitters on a proposed extension to paid parental leave emphasises the benefits if children have more time to form an attachment to their families.

The benefits for children and parents of extending PPL aren’t under question.

What is up for debate is whether taxpayers should pay for it and none of those in favour have yet been able to give any good reasons for that.


There is something in trade

November 12, 2012

Tim Worstall says there seems to be something in this trade idea:

I can’t say that I’ve ever really understood this idea that we must all eat only the things that have been grown in our own region. “Region” of course is a variable thing. It seems to depend on how deep the green of the fool recommending it is. Something from “the nation” to “your back yard” is the spectrum. But as I say, I’ve never really understood the point.

For we know what happens when food supplies are indeed restricted to just the region one is actually in. We’ve been there before, back before we had decent roads. And what used to happen is that when the local crops failed then everyone died of starvation: even if 30 miles away there was a bumper crop. Quite why anyone wants to recreate the bad parts of the Middle Ages I’m really not quite sure. . .

Localists and proponents of yokelnomics – the policies which would take us back to peasant economies of the distant past – pose the greatest danger to food security.

There are good points about buying local but not at the expense of free trade which is an essential part of addressing world hunger.


What counts as a party member?

November 12, 2012

Political parties in New Zealand need only 500 members to be registered and to be eligible for broadcasting money.

But as The Nation discussed yesterday,  parties aren’t required to provide any actual proof that they have the numbers and exactly what constitutes a member varies between parties.

Act, NZ First and Maori Party wouldn’t give their membership numbers. National said it had close to 30, 000; Labour claimed 56,000 but wouldn’t give a figure that didn’t include union affiliates.

The Green Party said it had 4700 members, Mana claimed 2500 and Untied Future said it has 550 members.

But what does member mean and how do we know the count is accurate?

Each April a party secretary has to sign a declaration to the Electoral Commission confirming the party has at least 500 members but no check is made and there is no strict definition of exactly what constitutes a member.

Under MMP parties have a lot of power, they also receive taxpayers money for broadcasting.

Leaving it up to parties to define what constitutes a member and have no check on their numbers is unacceptable.

We need  a definition for paid up individual members. That is the only number which should count for the 500 threshold as distinct from others the parties might now use which could include supporters, those who are lumped in as union affiliates or are on a party data base because for example, they attended a meeting or receive emails.

We also need a proper mechanism for checking the accuracy of the number declared.

That does not mean that members’ names should be made public. There are all sorts of reasons that people might not want others to know they belong to a political party.

But parties could be required to supply membership lists in confidence to the Electoral Commission and/or undergo an audit of their membership.

In the interests of fully informing voters and taxpayers, the number of members should also be public.

The 500 member threshold is a very low hurdle for an organisation which receives public funds and has the potential to wield a lot of power.

It shouldn’t be too much to know how many members parties really have.  At the very least we need to know that membership counts are consistent and accurate.


November 12 in history

November 12, 2012

764 – Tibetan troops occupied Chang’an, the capital of the Chinese Tang Dynasty.

1028 – Future Byzantine empress Zoe married Romanus Argyrus.

1439 – Plymouth, became the first town incorporated by the English Parliament.

1555 – The English Parliament re-established Catholicism.

1651 Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Mexican mystic and author, was born  (d. 1695).

1729 Louis Antoine de Bougainville, French explorer, was born (d. 1811).

1793 – Jean Sylvain Bailly, the first Mayor of Paris, was guillotined.

1840 Auguste Rodin, French sculptor, was born (d. 1917).

1847 – Sir James Young Simpson, a British physician, was the first to use chloroform as an anaesthetic.

1866 Sun Yat-sen, the 1st President of the Republic of China was born  (d. 1925).

1892 – William “Pudge” Heffelfinger became the first professional American football player on record.

1893 – The treaty of the Durand Line was signed between present day Pakistan and Afghanistan.

1905 – Norway held a referendum in favor of monarchy over republic.

1912 Striking worker Fred Evans was fatally injured in a clash with police and strikebreakers during the bitter six-month-long dispute at the goldmining town of Waihi.

Striker fatally wounded at Waihi

1912 – The frozen bodies of Robert Scott and his men were found on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica.

1918 – Austria became a republic.

1920 – Italy and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes signed the Treaty of Rapallo.

1927 – Leon Trotsky was expelled from the Soviet Communist Party, leaving Joseph Stalin in undisputed control of the Soviet Union.

1929 Princess Grace of Monaco (Grace Kelly), was born  (d. 1982).

1933 – Hugh Gray took the first known photos of the Loch Ness Monster.

1934 Charles Manson, American cult leader, was born

1936 – The San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge opened to traffic.

1938 – Hermann Göring proposed plans to make Madagascar the “Jewish homeland”.

1941 – World War II: Temperatures around Moscow dropped to -12 ° C and the Soviet Union launcheed ski troops for the first time against the freezing German forces near the city.

1941 – World War II: The Soviet cruiser Chervona Ukraina was destroyed during the Battle of Sevastopol.

1942 – World War II: The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal began.

1943 Bjorn Waldegard, Swedish rally driver, was born.

1944 – World War II: The Royal Air Force launched 29 Avro Lancaster bombers in one of the most successful precision bombing attacks of war and sinks the German battleship Tirpitz, with 12,000 lb Tallboy bombs.

1944 Booker T. Jones, American musician and songwriter (Booker T and the MG’s), was born.

1945 Neil Young, Canadian singer and musician, was born.

1948 – An international war crimes tribunal sentenced seven Japanese military and government officials, including General Hideki Tojo, to death for their roles in World War II.

1958 – A team of rock climbers led by Warren Harding completed the first ascent of The Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley.

1962 Naomi Wolf, American author and feminist, was born.

1969 – Vietnam War: Independent investigative journalist Seymour Hersh broke the My Lai story.

1970 – The Oregon Highway Division attempted to destroy a rotting beached Sperm whale with explosives, leading to the now infamous “exploding whale” incident.

1970 – The 1970 Bhola cyclone makes landfall on the coast of East Pakistan becoming the deadliest tropical cyclone in history.

1978 – As Bishop of Rome Pope John Paul II took possession of his Cathedral Church, the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

1979 – Iran hostage crisis: In response to the hostage situation in Tehran, US President Jimmy Carter ordered a halt to all petroleum imports into the United States from Iran.

1980 – The NASA space probe Voyager I made its closest approach to Saturn and takes the first images of its rings.

1981 – Mission STS-2, utilizing the Space Shuttle Columbia, marked the first time a manned spacecraft was launched into space twice.

1982 – Yuri Andropov became the general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party’s Central Committee, succeeding Leonid I. Brezhnev.

1982 – Lech Wałęsa, was released from a Polish prison after eleven months.

1990 – Crown Prince Akihito was formally installed as Emperor Akihito of Japan, becoming the 125th Japanese monarch.

1990 – Tim Berners-Lee published a formal proposal for the World Wide Web.

1991 – Dili Massacre, Indonesian forces opened fire on a crowd of student protesters in Dili.

1996 – A Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 747 and a Kazakh Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane collided in mid-air near New Delhi, killing 349. The deadliest mid-air collision to date.

1997 – Ramzi Yousef was found guilty of masterminding the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

1998 – Vice President Al Gore signed the Kyoto Protocol.

1998 – Daimler-Benz completed a merger with Chrysler to form Daimler-Chrysler.

1999 – The Düzce earthquake struck Turkey with a magnitude of 7.2 on the Richter scale.

2001 – American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus A300 en route to the Dominican Republic, crashed minutes after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport, killing all 260 on board and five on the ground.

2001 – Taliban forces abandoned Kabul, Afghanistan, ahead of advancing Afghan Northern Alliance troops.

2003 – Iraq war: In Nasiriya, Iraq, at least 23 people, among them the first Italian casualties of the 2003 Iraq war, were killed in a suicide bomb attack on an Italian police base.

2003 – Shanghai Transrapid set a new world speed record (501 kilometres per hour (311 mph)) for commercial railway systems.

2006 – The region of South Ossetia held a referendum on independence from Georgia.

2011 – Silvio Berlusconi resigned as Prime Minister of Italy due, in large part, to the European sovereign debt crisis.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikiepdia


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