O Holy Night

December 24, 2012

Phew!

December 24, 2012

Just back from my last trip to town before Christmas and keeping to the spirit of our keeping-it-simple celebration managed to get round the supermarket with only a basket.

There’s just a bit of tidying up to do at home then tomorrow with extended family to look forward to.

Thanks to all of you who read, extra special thanks for all who leave a comment which adds to the interest of the blog, and blogging.

May your Christmas be happy and may 2013 be kind to you and yours.

P.S.

If you want some pre-Christmas reading, I commend Remembering the Night: Christmas Story 2012 at Bowalley Road.


Co-leader conundrum

December 24, 2012

Sharing the leadership can only work for the wee parties because they know they’ll never be in a position for their leaders to be Prime Minister.

I’m not sure what difference having two co-leaders rather than a leader and deputy makes in practice but it can produce a conundrum when party rules dictate the need for gender balance.

It is especially problematic for wee parties who don’t have enough candidates, or possibly talent, in their ranks, to elevate a sitting MP to the position.

The Green Party faced this problem when Russel Norman became co-leader outside parliament when he wasn’t the next MP on the list.

The Maori Party now have a similar problem.

Tariana Turia has announced she’s not standing again in 2014 and will consider stepping down from the leadership before then.

She’s also asking her co-leader Pita Sharples to step down as leader in favour the party’s only other MP Te Ururoa Flavell.

There may well be good arguments for Sharples to step-down anyway.

But if the party didn’t require gender balance in the co-leadership succession could take place without the need for Sharples to step down.


It’s an OSH issue

December 24, 2012

When Labour was preparing for the introduction of smoke free legislation banning smoking in pubs their message was it was a health issue for smokers.

That isn’t up for debate but it would have been much better to sell it simply as an OSH issue for the health and safety of staff.

Smokers’ health is their business but employers and the government have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of workers.

The same logic should apply to prisons.

A prisoner has won a High Court ruling that a smoking ban in Auckland prison is unlawful.

. . . The Corrections Department has not yet decided if it will appeal the ruling, but Corrections Minister Anne Tolley says she is considering a law change to maintain a smoke free environment in prisons.

Despite the legal victory, prisoners can still not smoke due to a recent change to Corrections regulations making tobacco contraband, which this ruling has no effect on.

If a law change is needed it should be based on health and safety.
The right of prison staff, visitors and non-smoking prisoners to a smoke-free  environment should trump prisoners’ right to smoke.
Banning matches and lighters because of the potential for them to be used to start fires is another legitimate argument against smoking in prisons.

USA dairy cliff

December 24, 2012

The looming fiscal cliff isn’t the only problem facing the USA, it’s heading for a dairy cliff too:

. . . In order to keep dairy farmers in businesses, the government agrees to buy milk and other products if the price gets too low. The current agriculture bill has a formula that means the government steps in if the price of milk were to drop by roughly half from its current national average of about $3.65 a gallon.

Problem is, the current bill expired last summer, and Congress had been unable to agree on a new one. Several protections for farmers have already expired, and several more are set to do so over the next few months. One of them is the dairy subsidy, which expires January 1.

But instead of leaving farmers entirely out in the cold, the law states that if a new bill isn’t passed or the current one extended, the formula for calculating the price the government pays for dairy products reverts back to a 1949 statute. Under that formula, the government would be forced to buy milk at twice today’s price — driving up the cost for everyone. . .

Sky-high milk prices wouldn’t necessarily be good for dairy farmers either, according to Chris Galen, a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation, which represents over 30,000 dairy farmers.
While it might provide a short term boost to profits, there’s a fear that consumers would either cut back on dairy or opt for imported dairy products. It could also force food makers to search for alternatives to dairy, like soy.

“We call it the dairy cliff,” Galen said. . .

This shows the dangers of government intervention between willing buyers and sellers.

It would be better for consumers, and efficient producers, if the government got rid of subsidies and removed tariffs which artificially inflate the price of imports.

Hat tip: Bulaman who left the link in yesterday’s soapbox.


December 24 in history

December 24, 2012

1754 George Crabbe, British poet and naturalist, was born  (d. 1832).

1777  Kiritimati, (Christmas Island) was discovered by James Cook.

1814  The Treaty of Ghent was signed ending the War of 1812.

1822 Matthew Arnold, British poet, was born (d. 1888).

1865  Several U.S. Civil War Confederate veterans formed the Ku Klux Klan.

1880  Johnny Gruelle, American cartoonist, children’s book writer and creator of Raggedy Ann was born (d. 1938).

1893  Harry Warren, American composer and lyricist (Chattanooga Choo Choo – I Only Have Eyes for You), was born (d. 1981).

1905 Howard Hughes, American film producer and inventor, was born (d. 1976).

1906  Reginald Fessenden transmitted the first radio broadcast; consisting of a poetry reading, a violin solo, and a speech.

1914  World War I: The “Christmas truce” began.

1922 Ava Gardner, American actress, was born (d. 1990).

1923 George Patton IV, American general, was born (d. 2004).

1924  Albania became a republic.

1927  Mary Higgins Clark, American author, was born.

1941  World War II: Hong Kong fell to the Japanese Imperial Army.

1943 General Dwight D. Eisenhower became Supreme Allied Commander.

1946  France’s Fourth Republic was founded.

1948 Frank Oliver, New Zealand rugby player, was born.

1951 Libya became independent from Italy. Idris I was proclaimed King.

1953 Tangiwai railway disaster – The worst railway disaster in New Zealand’s history occurred on Christmas Eve 1953 when the Wellington-Auckland night express plunged into the flooded Whangaehu River, just west of Tangiwai in the central North Island. The accident happened after a railway bridge was destroyed by a lahar.

Tangiwai railway disaster

1955  NORAD Tracked Santa for the first time in what will become an annual Christmas Eve tradition.

1957 Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, was born.
1961 Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, was born.
1968 The crew of Apollo 8 entered into orbit around the Moon, becoming the first humans to do so. They performed 10 lunar orbits and broadcast live TV pictures that became the famous Christmas Eve Broadcast, one of the most watched programs in history.
1969 – Ed Miliband, leader of the British Labour Party, was born.

1974  Cyclone Tracy devastated Darwin.

1979 – The first European Ariane rocket was launched.

1997 – The Sid El-Antri massacre (or Sidi Lamri) in Algeria killed 50-100 people.

2000 – The Texas 7 held up a sports store in Irving, Texas,  Police officer Aubrey Hawkins was murdered during the robbery.

2003 – Spanish police thwarted an attempt by ETA to detonate 50 kg of explosives at 3:55 p.m. inside Madrid’s Chamartín Station.

2005 – Chad–Sudan relations: Chad declared a state of war against Sudan following a December 18 attack on Adré, which left about 100 people dead.

2008 – Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan rebel group, begins a series of attacks on Democratic Republic of the Congo, massacring more than 400.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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