Word of the day

May 13, 2013

Excrescence – distinct outgrowth or enlargement on a human or animal body or on a plant, especially one that results from disease or abnormality; a disfiguring or unwanted mark, part, or addition.


Rural round-up

May 13, 2013

Chinese bounty comes with warning – Nigel Stirling:

China has overtaken Britain as the biggest market by value for New Zealand’s sheep meat industry.

But the historic moment has been overshadowed by fresh food scandals in the country and has prompted senior meat industry figures to question NZ’s increasing reliance on the Chinese market.

New figures from the Meat Industry Association show $204 million of sheep meat was exported from NZ to China in the first three months of this year.

That exceeded the $198m exported to Britain. It was the first time NZ’s traditional number one market had been trumped by China or any other country in a three-month period. . .

World Bank, IFAB pledge $1.9bn to boost agriculture in Nigeria:

The World Bank has said that it would commit one billion dollars to support Nigeria’s agricultural sector in the next five years. Ms Marie-Francoise Marie- Nelly, its Country Director, said this at a workshop on Gender and Agriculture Technical Dialogue in Abuja.

Also the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said that it would support the Federal Government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) with new programmes that would cost $88.5 million. President of IFAD, Dr Kanayo Nwanze, said this in Abuja when he led a delegation on a visit to Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. . .

 Taking aim at NZ beef Goliaths – Tim Fulton:

Red Oak Angus owner Ric Orr has added heat to the bull sale season by putting up an alternative to the “massive engine” of estimated breeding values (EBVs).

The North Canterbury breeder and finisher has enlisted top livestock evaluator Ken Moore, who is resigned to his initial findings being shot down in flames by supporters of the Australian-designed Breedplan.

Orr accepts his views will rub roughly against some farming titans, including the leadership of the New Zealand Angus Association.

Moore, meanwhile, describes his work for Orr so far as a “quick and dirty” response to breeders who are unimpressed, or just plain bamboozled, by the results they get from the widely used Breedplan system. . .

Angry farmers walk out of aid meeting with Minister – Debbie James:

Welsh farmers whose businesses have been jeopardised by the freak March blizzards walked out of a heated meeting with Wales’ farm minister after demanding his resignation.

Alun Davies faced hundreds of angry farmers at a meeting in north Wales, one of the regions worst hit by snow and strong winds.

Many of the farmers are struggling financially after thousands of their sheep and cattle were buried in snow but the Welsh government has remained steadfast in its refusal to directly compensate them for their losses. . .

Forget the pub test, apply the farm test, farmers tell Coalition :

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed a move towards greater flexibility in workplace arrangements under the Coalition’s industrial relations policy, but says it does not go far enough on support for small businesses, including farms.

NFF President Duncan Fraser said it was good to see the Coalition releasing its policy well ahead of the election, but farmers would like to see greater detail and a commitment to action prior to 2016.

“People are agriculture’s most important resource – both on and off the farm. As a sector, we have identified that we need to build our workforce, develop our skills and expertise, and allow for greater flexibility to compete with the high wages offered by other sectors,” Mr Fraser said. . .

Reduced EU demand for lamb – Patsy Hunter:

UK sheep prices may be on the up in the UK due to reduced supplies, but it appears the opposite holds true on the Continent, where the economic problems being experienced by many countries in southern Europe are having a significant effect on the trading patterns of sheep and sheep meat.

With reduced demand for lamb and sheep meat in the Mediterranean, due to the poor economic climate, sheep meat imports in these countries fell considerably in 2012.

At the same time exports generally rose as the domestic market could not absorb home production levels. This occurred despite sheep meat production falling in these countries, meaning there was less for the home market to take in the first place.

In Spain, domestic sheep meat production fell 6% year on year in 2012, having totalled 122,800 tonnes. . .

Who deserves this support? – Gordon Davidson:

IF THE Scottish Government is wondering how best to spend the £6million it has found for emergency weather aid, Jim Simmons, of the New Entrants Group, has an easy answer – give it to the 1200 Scottish farmers currently farming without an SFP cash cushion.

Mr Simmons this week rounded on the ‘established farmers’ claim that the weather had left them ‘facing the biggest crisis since foot and mouth’, saying that their winter problems did not match those of the unsupported.

“Have these farmers not received their historically-based payments annually over the last eight years, the most recent being last December?” asked Mr Simmons.

“Are they not due another lump sum in six or seven months time? If these farmers are in this ‘crisis’, then what is the state of the genuine new entrant business in Scotland who has started in the last 10 years and has had little or no SFP payment up to now? . .


Can conservation and devleopment co-exist in Mackenzie?

May 13, 2013

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith and Environment Minister Amy Adams have welcomed a report proposing a way to manage the contentious land intensification, water, landscape, and biodiversity issues in the Mackenzie Basin.

“This report is the result of a collaborative process by more than 30 groups and individuals working together to develop options for the future of the basin,” the Ministers say.

“The focus has been on investigating ways the biodiversity and special character of the land can be enhanced, while ensuring tourism and farming continue to develop.”

This collaborative process was initiated in preference over protracted court proceedings for development proposals in the district.

“It is far more constructive to have diverse interest groups working together on a shared vision for an area than having years of protest, court proceedings and community tensions.

“The report makes a number of recommendations for both central and local government. The Ministry for the Environment and the Department of Conservation will now take time to consider the report and its recommendations. . .

Getting more than 30 groups with very different views on what’s best for the area together was a major undertaking.

David Bruce  says goodwill is key to the future:

The ”Mackenzie Agreement” has been described as ”innovative” and ”unique”, but announcing the details tomorrow is only the first step in achieving a collaborative approach to issues facing communities in the region.

The agreement, signed by 22 local and national organisations, is a shared vision and strategy for the future development of land and water resources in the region. Details are being kept under wraps until tomorrow.

But what will happen from now on will determine whether it is a success, a template for use in other areas of New Zealand.

While its title is the ”Mackenzie Agreement”, it in fact covers the Mackenzie, Ohau and Omarama Basins and has been developed under the auspices of the Mackenzie Sustainable Futures Trust, set up in 2011 by Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, who is also its chairwoman.

The aim was to bring together local people and groups and national organisations with an interest in the future of the three basins.

It was an attempt to end a growing divide between people who lived and relied on the region for their livelihoods and those from outside the area who opposed any extensive development.

Mrs Dean has described the agreement in glowing terms, a way forward for an area that became a battleground between those who wanted progress, and those who opposed it.

But its success will depend on the goodwill continuing in the future. . .

As the ministers said, collaboration is preferable to court proceedings and community tensions.

But it will require continued good will and good communication to ensure the promise of the plan is realised and show that conservation and development can co-exist.


Was it MMP’s fault?

May 13, 2013

MMP has been given some of the blame for the inability to kick Aaron Gilmore out of parliament.

Is that fair?

No.

Both list and electorate MPs can be sacked from their caucus and party but if they don’t resign they stay in parliament until the next election when voters give their verdict.

However, while a voters can ensure an MP doesn’t win an electorate they have no influence on where a candidate is on their party’s list. That means they can vote for someone else in the electorate but still find the person they rejected has got into parliament.

This is an aspect of the system on which many people submitted to the review of MMP, arguing that if an MP loses a seat, or contests it and fails to win it, s/he should not be able to enter parliament on the list.

I disagree with that.

Standing in an electorate ensures candidates face the voters and get to know the people whose support they are soliciting and learn about their concerns.

If they take it seriously, and given it’s the party vote which really counts they’d be stupid not to, they gain an understanding of the individuals, groups and communities on whom their policies will impact.

The goods ones don’t just stand in an electorate they stay in touch with it, working with and for the people in it. And failing once or twice doesn’t prevent later success.

Eric Roy* and Nicky Wagner, for example, failed to win electorates but got in on the list, worked hard, earned the support of the people and won Invercargill and Christchurch Central respectively.

Others like Chris Finlayson and Michael Woodhouse have stood in dark red seats they have little hope of winning, but even those who don’t share their political views would be hard pressed to criticise their performance as MPs and Ministers.

I have no doubt that standing in electorates has helped them in their work.

That not all list MPs who stand in seats perform well in parliament is not a reason to change the rules to prevent dual candidacy.

MMP is not my preferred electoral system but the advantages of dual candidacies outweigh the disadvantages.

One valid criticism of the system is that list MPs aren’t directly answerable to constituents. Dual candidacy at least means they have to front up to voters.

Good MPs will ensure they don’t squander the goodwill they earn by doing so by continuing to work in electorates whether or not they have any chance of winning them.

But to return to the original question of whether it’s MMP’s fault that Gilmore could have stayed in parliament had he not chosen to resign.

It’s not. But it is the system which enabled him to be there in the first place and that system has given less power to people in electorates and more to parties.

If parties get an electorate selection wrong, voters can ensure the candidate doesn’t get into parliament. They can’t do that with an individual list MP.

* Eric first entered parliament in 1993 by winning the seat of Ararua which disappeared when MMP was introduced. He stood unsuccessfully for Invercargill twice but stayed in parliament as a list MP. He missed out on the electorate and list in 2002 but won the seat in 2005.


The other side of the sale story

May 13, 2013

Opponents of the partial sale of a few state assets are still peddling their emotive arguments against the policy and in doing so are telling only half the story.

They’re saying we’ve lost Mighty River Power but we haven’t.

The state still owns 51% of the company; those shares are worth more now than they were before the partial float and all dividends will be taxed.

Opponents to the policy would have us believe the 49% of shares floated have gone with nothing in return.

That’s not the case. The government now has $1.7 billion to put to more productive use.

As Finance Minister Bill English said in parliament on Thursday:

There has been, I think, a misunderstanding that somehow in selling shares the Government and the taxpayer are losing an asset. In fact, we are swapping shares for cash, and by tomorrow night, the Government will have $1.7 billion in its bank account ready to invest in those projects that will be outlined in the Budget through the Future Investment Fund. Future proceeds of asset sales will also go into that fund. Parties that want to buy back the assets, or not sell them, will have to borrow the same amount of money from foreign bankers if they want to invest in the same way this Government plans to invest in infrastructure, in hospitals, in schools, and in better public services.

Jacqui Dean: What are the benefits of the Government’s share offer programme?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: There are many benefits. In the first place, the Government achieved its objective of widespread New Zealand ownership, so 86.5 percent of this company remains owned by New Zealanders. Secondly, it has provided an opportunity for New Zealand savers to invest their money in the share market, many of them for the first time. Thirdly, we have collected $1.7 billion in cash proceeds, which are available to the Government for reinvestment in public assets. And, finally, it is a significant move in reinforcing our public capital markets, where Mighty River Power will list as the fifth-biggest company on the stock exchange. A strong public capital market is one of the ingredients for higher incomes and more jobs.

That’s the other and more important half of the Mixed Ownership Model story.

It makes far better reading than more debt and less investment in other areas where there’s greater need for public money than energy companies.


Half glass

May 13, 2013

“You’re a glass half-full woman,” he said.

“Thank you,” she said. “Though I don’t think the fullness or otherwise of your glass matters too much providing you emptied it willingly, enjoyed doing it and you’re able to fill it again.”

“All of which proves me right,” he said.


May 13 in history

May 13, 2013

1373  Julian of Norwich had visions which were later transcribed in her Revelations.

1497 Pope Alexander VI excommunicated Girolamo Savonarola.

1515 Mary Tudor, Queen of France and Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk were officially married at Greenwich.

1568 Battle of Langside: the forces of Mary, Queen of Scots, were defeated by a confederacy of Scottish Protestants under James Stewart, Earl of Moray, her half-brother.

1619 Dutch statesman Johan van Oldenbarnevelt was executed in The Hague after being convicted of treason.

1648  Construction of the Red Fort at Delhi was completed.

1730  Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born (d. 1782).

1779 War of Bavarian Succession: Russian and French mediators at the Congress of Teschen negotiated an end to the war.

1780  Cumberland Compact signed by leaders of the settlers in early Tennessee.

1787 Captain Arthur Phillip left Portsmouth with eleven ships full of convicts (First Fleet) to establish a penal colony in Australia.

1804 Forces sent by Yusuf Karamanli of Tripoli to retake Derne from the Americans attacked the city.

1830 Ecuador gained its independence from Gran Colombia.

1842 Arthur Sullivan, English composer, was born(d. 1900).

1846 – Mexican-American War: The United States declared war on Mexico.

1848  First performance of Finland’s national anthem.

186  American Civil War: Queen Victoria issueds a “proclamation of neutrality” which recognised the breakaway states as having belligerent rights.

1861 – The Great Comet of 1861 was discovered by John Tebbutt of Windsor, New South Wales.

1864American Civil War: Battle of Resaca began with Union General Sherman fighting toward Atlanta, Georgia.

1865 American Civil War: Battle of Palmito Ranch – in far south Texas, more than a month after Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender, the last land battle of the Civil War ended with a Confederate victory.

1880 Thomas Edison performed the first test of his electric railway.

1883 Georgios Papanikolaou, Greek doctor, inventor of the Pap smear, was born (d. 1962).

1888 With the passage of the Lei Áurea (“Golden Law”), Brazil abolished slavery.

1907  Dame Daphne du Maurier, English author, was born (d. 1989).

1909 The first Giro d’Italia took place in Milan. Italian cyclist Luigi Ganna was the winner.

1912 The Royal Flying Corps (now the Royal Air Force) was established in the United Kingdom.

1913 Igor Sikorsky became the first man to pilot a four-engine aircraft.

1917 Three children reported the first apparition of the Virgin Mary in Fátima, Portugal.

1922 Beatrice Arthur, American actress, was born (d. 2009).

1936 NZ National Party was formed.

New Zealand National Party logo.svg

1937 Trevor Baylis, English inventor (wind up radio) was born.

1939 The first commercial FM radio station in the United States was launched in Bloomfield, Connecticut – it later became WDRC-FM.

1940 Bruce Chatwin, British writer, was born (d. 1989).

1940 World War II: Germany’s conquest of France started as the German army crossed the Meuse River. Winston Churchill made his “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” speech to the House of Commons.

1940  Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands fled the Nazi invasion in the Netherlands to Great Britain. Princess Juliana took her children to Canada.

1941 World War II: Yugoslav royal colonel Dragoljub Mihailović started fighting with German occupation troops, beginning the Serbian resistance.

1943 World War II: German Afrika Korps and Italian troops in North Africa surrendered to Allied forces.

1947 Francis Hodgkins, the first New Zealand artist to exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts, died.

Death of Frances Hodgkins

1947 – Mabel Howard became New Zealand’s, and the Commonwealth’s,  first female Cabinet Minister.

1948 Arab-Israeli War: the Kfar Etzion massacre was committed by Arab irregulars.

1950 Danny Kirwan, British musician (Fleetwood Mac), was born.

1950 Stevie Wonder, American singer and musician, was born.

1950 The first round of the Formula One World Championship was held at Silverstone.

1952 The Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India, held its first sitting.

1954 Johnny Logan, Irish singer and songwriter, was born.

1954 Anti-National Service Riots, by Chinese Middle School students in Singapore.

1958  During a visit to Caracas, Vice President Richard Nixon‘s car was attacked by anti-American demonstrators.

1958 The trade mark Velcro was registered.

1958 – May 1958 crisis: a group of French military officers lead a coup in Algiers, demanding that a government of national unity be formed with Charles de Gaulle at its head in order to defend French control of Algeria.

1960  Hundreds of UC Berkeley students congregated for the first day of protest against a visit by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Thirty-one students were arrested, and the Free Speech Movement was born.

1967 Dr. Zakir Hussain became the third President of India – the first Muslim President of Indian Union.

1969  Race riots in Kuala Lumpur.

1972  Faulty electrical wiring ignited a fire underneath the Playtown Cabaret in Osaka, Japan. Blocked exits and non-functional elevators cause 118 fatalities, with many victims leaping to their deaths.

1980  An F3 tornado hit Kalamazoo County, Michigan.

1981  Mehmet Ali Ağca attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

1985 Police stormed MOVE headquarters in Philadelphia to end a stand-off, killing 11 MOVE members and destroying the homes of 250 city residents.

1986 Alexander Rybak, Norwegian Eurovision Song Contest winner, was born.

1989 Large groups of students occupied Tiananmen Square and begin a hunger strike.

1992 Li Hongzhi gave the first public lecture on Falun Gong in Changchun, China.

1994 Johnny Carson made his last television appearance on Late Show with David Letterman.

1995 – New Zealand won the Americas Cup for the first time.

NZ wins the America's Cup for the first time

1996 Severe thunderstorms and a tornado in Bangladesh killed 600 people.

1998  Race riots break out in Jakarta,  shops owned by Indonesians of Chinese descent were looted and women raped.

1998 – India carried out two nuclear tests at Pokhran.

2000 In Enschede, the Netherlands, a fireworks factory exploded, killing 22 people, wounding 950, and resulting in approximately €450 million in damage.

2005 The Andijan Massacre in Uzbekistan.

2006 A major rebellion occurs in several prisons in Brazil.

2007 – Construction of the Calafat-Vidin Bridge between Romania and Bulgaria started.

2011 –  2011 Charsadda bombing: in the Charsadda District of Pakistan, two bombs exploded, resulting in 98 deaths 140 wounded.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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