Word of the day

May 24, 2013

Eclaircissement – clarification of an obscure point; explanation; enlightenment.


Rural round-up

May 24, 2013

Agribusiness Innovation and Growth 2013:

New Zealand’s agritech sector is a $3 billion industry, generating export sales in excess of $700 million a year. Top players in the sector are gathering in Hamilton on the night before Fieldays for a mini-symposium on agribusiness and innovation. It’s a Universities New Zealand event, hosted by the University of Waikato on behalf of the University Commercialisation Offices of NZ (UCONZ), and it’s open to the public by online registration.

The keynote speakers will be the Minister for Economic Development Hon Steven Joyce, Wayne McNee, Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries, and Fonterra Nutrition’s Managing Director Sarah Kennedy. . .

Fieldays Innovations Centre brings to life Kiwi can-do attitude:

The Fieldays Innovation Centre Competition is the perfect forum for inventors to introduce their primary industry themed, ‘homegrown’ designs to a local and global audience.

By creating an opportunity for inventors to showcase their designs and prototypes, which are then critiqued by key industry leaders, it’s the ideal way for Kiwis to get past the first, crucial step to gaining commercial success in New Zealand and beyond.

With a serious prize pool available for inventors in the following categories; Grassroots, Launch NZ and International (covering local and global, individual and company entrants), they must wow judges to be in with a chance of winning financial and mentoring support. The goal: to establish their invention across local and global territories and gain commercial success. . . .

Fertiliser Company Helps Curb Pollution in Rural Red Zone:

A group of South Island farmers have rallied together to improve their environmental practises and protect their land and waterways.

Environment Canterbury (ECAN) has declared the Upper Waitaki region a red zone because the nutrient levels in the Ahuriri River are too high.

At a farm field day organised by fertiliser and lime company,Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate Ltd, ECAN told farmers in the Ahuriri Valley that the community wants to see clean water in local rivers and streams and farmers need to better manage their nutrient application. . .

‘Farmy Army’s’ John Hartnell Honoured:

John Hartnell, the driving force behind Federated Farmers’ ‘Farmy Army’, received the New Zealand Order of Merit today.

Following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, John organised farmers from around the region, now coined the ‘Farmy Army’, to assist in clearing liquefaction, delivering food parcels and providing general assistance to vulnerable families.

“It is a real honour to be recognised in this way by the Governor General, I am truly humbled,” says John. . .

Exports to China back on track:

Federated Farmers is hugely relieved the meat export impasse in China has been resolved, but believes New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) need to take a hard look in the mirror.

“Can we say thank you to the Minister, our trade officials and the Chinese authorities for solving a big problem,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President and its trade spokesperson.

“China is our largest market for lamb by volume and in the first quarter of 2013, surpassed Britain in terms of value for the first time ever. This is what was at stake so it is embarrassing to discover the fault lay here in New Zealand.

“It feels as if we have been ankle-tapped by a member of our own team. . .

MIE secures farmer mandate for meat industry reform:

A week after meetings in Te Kuiti and Gisborne, Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) has secured a farmer mandate to pursue a value and growing meat industry.

“Having concluded a series of meetings from Gore to Gisborne, MIE now has the confidence to push forward with red meat industry reform,” says Richard Young, Meat Industry Excellence chairman.

“Farmers realise there must be change in our industry if we are to arrest the loss of farms and farmers to other land uses, like dairying and these days, forestry. The only way you achieve this is to make red meat an attractive commercial proposition.

“That is why all industry stakeholders need to be part of the positive change our industry is desperately crying out for. Something MIE is here to champion. . .

New president for Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo:

Following Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo Annual General Meeting, Alan Wills has been elected provincial president following the retirement of Neil Heather.

“What Neil has done over the past few years will be a hard act to follow but I shall give it my best,” says Alan Wills, Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo provincial president.

“The positive contribution made by Federated Farmers and Neil is exemplified by the Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective. Known as the Otorua Accord, this was signed in February between Federated Farmers, DairyNZ, Te Arawa and our councils. . .

New Technology to Boost Sustainable Fisheries Research:

 Deep sea technology that will provide some of the world’s most accurate and useful marine sustainability research is being launched today.

In a world-first, New Zealand fishing company Sealord has invested more than $750,000 in a new multi-frequency Acoustic Optical System (AOS).

At an event on-board Thomas Harrison, prior to the vessel taking the new equipment on its first sea-trial, Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy launched the new AOS which will provide a boost to the science that contributes to New Zealand’s world recognised Quota Management System. . .

Dollar Pushes up Local Wool Prices:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the local market lifted significantly for the 10,400 bales on offer at the South Island sale this week. The weakening NZ dollar, particularly against the US dollar which was down 4.97 percent compared to the last sale on 9th May and the weighted currency indicator down 3.91 percent was the principal market influence. This was supported by recent strong purchasing interest and a seasonal limited wool supply.

Mr Dawson advises that a nominal offering of Mid Micron Fleece were firm to 3 percent dearer. . .


Friday’s answers

May 24, 2013

Andrei supplied the questions for Thursday’s quiz:

(1) Who said “What good is the warmth of summer, without the

cold of winter to give it sweetness.”

(2) Which city is known as the coldest city on Earth? And you can

count on it, no matter how cold it gets this winter at your place it will

be positively balmy compared to this town where the temperature in

winter has been known to drop below -60 °C

(3) It is froid in French, freddo in Italian,

frio in Spanish and холодно (holodno) in Russian –

what is it in English?

(4) Who was the leader of the Great Siberian Ice March?

(5) How will you keep your house warm this winter?

He wins an electronic chocolate sponge for stumping us all.

It can be claimed by leaving the answers below.


Where’s the science?

May 24, 2013

People who oppose genetic engineering will be protesting in several cities around New Zealand in support of a global March Against Monsanto.

But where’s the science which supports their contentions?

Can they refute the claim by former anti-GMO activist Mark Lynas?

I think the controversy over GMOs represents one of the greatest science communications failures of the past half-century. Millions, possibly billions, of people have come to believe what is essentially a conspiracy theory, generating fear and misunderstanding about a whole class of technologies on an unprecedentedly global scale.

This matters enormously because these technologies – in particular the various uses of molecular biology to enhance plant breeding potential – are clearly some of our most important tools for addressing food security and future environmental change.

I am a historian, and history surely offers us, from witch trials to eugenics, numerous examples of how when public misunderstanding and superstition becomes widespread on an issue, irrational policymaking is the inevitable consequence, and great damage is done to peoples’ lives as a result.

This is what has happened with the GMOs food scare in Europe, Africa and many other parts of the world. Allowing anti-GMO activists to dictate policymaking on biotechnology is like putting homeopaths in charge of the health service, or asking anti-vaccine campaigners to take the lead in eradicating polio.

I believe the time has now come for everyone with a commitment to the primacy of the scientific method and evidence-based policy-making to decisively reject the anti-GMO conspiracy theory and to work together to begin to undo the damage that it has caused over the last decade and a half. . .

It shouldn’t be hard for scientific methods and evidence-based policy making to triumph over a conspiracy theory, generating fear and misunderstanding about a whole class of technologies.

But emotion beats facts which is why people will be marching.

 

 

 


Good news for the Coast

May 24, 2013

Conservation Minister Nick Smith’s decision to allow access to Bathurst Resources for its Escarpment Mining Project on the Denniston Plateau, near Westport is very good news for the West Coast.

“This approval is for an open-cast mine on 106 hectares of the 2026 hectares that comprise the Denniston Plateau. This area is not National Park, nor Conservation Park nor does it have any particular reserve status. It is general stewardship land, which is the lowest legal status of protection of land managed by the Department of Conservation. The area does have conservation values although there has been some disturbance from previous mining including roads, bulldozer tracks and an artificial reservoir. The area also has some infestation from weeds like gorse and broom,” Dr Smith said.

It’s not a big area and it’s not pristine land.

“The loss of conservation values is compensated by a $22 million package by Bathurst Resources. This will fund pest and predator control over 25,000 hectares of the Heaphy River catchment in the Kahurangi National Park, 4,500 hectares on and around the Denniston Plateau, as well as for historic projects on the Plateau itself. This is the largest ever compensation package negotiated by DOC for a mine or other commercial venture.

“I am also satisfied that the comprehensive conditions associated with this access agreement covering rehabilitation of the land, enhancement of water quality, health and safety, debris, rubbish and fire hazards, will minimise the adverse effects of the mine. The agreement also contains detailed provisions for monitoring environmental effects, bonds and insurance.

“I wish to signal, that in giving this approval, I do not consider it is acceptable to open-cast mine all of the Denniston Plateau. The plateau does have unique biodiversity and landscape values from its raised elevation, high rainfall and unusual land form. I wish to see some of the high value areas reserved and put into permanent protection.

“I am encouraged by the constructive discussions that have been taking place between mining companies, environmental, historic and recreational groups over recent months. A better way forward than having long protracted legal proceedings would be for the parties to come to a common agreement on the remaining areas of the plateau that should be set aside permanently for conservation and for mining.

“The Government will be working with all parties to try and find a ‘bluegreen’ long term plan for the whole Denniston Plateau that balances conservation protection with the need for jobs and development,” said Dr Smith.

While the usual suspects are unhappy with the decision, Economic Development and Energy Ministers Steven Joyce and Simon Bridges point out the benefits.

The decision today by Conservation Minister Nick Smith to approve the access agreement for Bathurst Resources’ Escarpment Mine near Westport is good news for jobs and economic growth on the West Coast, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges say.

The announcement follows an interim decision by the Environment Court in March that it was likely to grant resource consent to the open-cast mine subject to appropriate conditions being agreed.

“The decision by the Minister under the Crown Minerals Act is a significant step forward for this project and will be welcomed by many West Coasters as balanced and pragmatic,” Mr Joyce says.

“Once open the Escarpment Mine is expected to create 225 direct jobs and approximately $100 million each year will go to employees, suppliers, contractors and transport providers.

“This will be a significant injection into the economies of Buller, the West Coast and New Zealand.”

Mr Bridges says the mine will produce high-quality coking coal that can be exported overseas for the production of steel.

“The project aims to inject almost $1 billion into the New Zealand economy over six years and provide $45 million each year in royalties and taxes that the Government can invest back into key infrastructure such as schools and hospitals,” Mr Bridges says.

“Unlike what opponents might say, this is exactly the type of business investment New Zealand needs to grow jobs and incomes for New Zealanders.”

The Coast has had a series of economic blows.

The ending of sustainable logging more than a decade ago led to a loss of employment. More recently there’s been the tragedy and subsequent closure of the Pike river mine, job cuts by Solid Energy and the downstream job losses which resulted from all of this.

This decision will bring economic and social benefits with the environmental cost mitigated by the compensation package and strict requirements on how the company operates.

 


Sleepy

May 24, 2013

Just trying to work out why the brain that was wide awake at 3.30am decides it’s sleepy now.


May 24 in history

May 24, 2013

15 BC  Germanicus Julius Caesar, Roman commander, was born (d. 19).

1218 The Fifth Crusade left Acre for Egypt.

1276  Magnus Ladulås was crowned King of Sweden in Uppsala Cathedral.

1487  Lambert Simnel was crowned as “King Edward VI” at Dublin.

1595  Nomenclator of Leiden University Library appeared, the first printed catalog of an institutional library.

1621  The Protestant Union was formally dissolved.

1626  Peter Minuit bought Manhattan.

1689  The English Parliament passes the Act of Toleration protecting Protestants.

1738  John Wesley was converted, essentially launching the Methodist movement; the day is celebrated annually by Methodists as Aldersgate Day.

1798 Irish Rebellion of 1798 led by the United Irishmen against British rule began.

1819 Queen Victoria was born (d. 1901).

1822  Battle of Pichincha: Antonio José de Sucre secured the independence of the Presidency of Quito.

1830  ”Mary Had a Little Lamb” by Sarah Josepha Hale was published.

1830  The first revenue trains in the United States began service on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad between Baltimore, Maryland and Ellicott’s Mills, Maryland.

1832  The First Kingdom of Greece was declared in the London Conference.

1844  Samuel F. B. Morse sent the message “What hath God wrought” (a Bible quotation, Numbers 23:23) from the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the United States Capitol to his assistant, Alfred Vail, in Baltimore, Maryland.

1846 Mexican-American War: General Zachary Taylor captured Monterrey.

1854 New Zealand’s parliament sat for the first time in Auckland, with 37 MPs.

Parliament's first sitting in Auckland

1856  John Brown and his men murdered five slavery supporters at Pottawatomie Creek, Kansas.

1861 American Civil War: Union troop occupied Alexandria, Virginia.

1870 Jan Christiaan Smuts, Prime Minister of South Africa, was born (d. 1950).

1883 The Brooklyn Bridge  was opened to traffic after 14 years of construction.

1887 Edward “Mick” Mannock, Irish WWI flying ace was born (d. 1918).

1895  Henry Irving became the first person from the theatre to be knighted.

1900 Second Boer War: The United Kingdom annexed the Orange Free State.

1901  Seventy-eight miners died in the Caerphilly pit disaster in South Wales.

1915  World War I: Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary.

1921  The trial of Sacco and Vanzetti opened.

1930  Amy Johnson landed in Darwin, Northern Territory, becoming the first woman to fly from England to Australia.

1935  The first night game in Major League Baseball history was played in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the Cincinnati Reds beating the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 at Crosley Field.

1940  Igor Sikorsky performed the first successful single-rotor helicopter flight.

1941 Bob Dylan, American singer and songwriter, was born.

1941  World War II: In the Battle of the Atlantic, the German Battleship Bismarck sank the then pride of the Royal Navy, HMS Hood, killing all but three crewmen.

1943 – Turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic  – Germany’s Admiral Dönitz, alarmed at the heavy losses inflicted by increasingly strong Allied escort forces (a total of 41 U-boats were sunk that month), ordered the temporary withdrawal of U-boat ‘wolf packs’ from the North Atlantic.

1943  Josef Mengele became chief medical officer of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

1945 Priscilla Presley, American actress, was born.

1956 Conclusion of the Sixth Buddhist Council on Vesak Day, marking the 2,500 year anniversary after the Lord Buddha’s Parinibbāna.

1956 The first Eurovision Song Contest was held in Lugano, Switzerland.

1958 United Press International was formed through a merger of the United Press and the International News Service.

1960 Kristin Scott Thomas, English actress, was born.

1960 Guy Fletcher, British keyboardist (Dire Straits), was born.

1960  Cordón Caulle began to erupt.

1961  American civil rights movement: Freedom Riders were arrested in Jackson, Mississippi for “disturbing the peace” after disembarking from their bus.

1961  Cyprus entered the Council of Europe.

1962 Project Mercury: American astronaut Scott Carpenter orbited earth three times in the Aurora 7 space capsule.

1967  Egypt imposed a blockade and siege of the Red Sea coast of Israel.

1968 FLQ separatists bombed the U.S. consulate in Quebec City.

1970  The drilling of the Kola Superdeep Borehole began in the Soviet Union.

1973  Earl Jellicoe resigned as Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the Lords.

1976  The London to Washington, D.C. Concorde service began.

1980  The International Court of Justice called for the release of United States embassy hostagesin Tehran.

1982  Liberation of Khorramshahr, Iranians recapture of the port city of Khorramshahr from the Iraqis during the Iran–Iraq War.

1988  Section 28 of the United Kingdom’s Local Government Act of 1988, a controversial amendment stating that a local authority cannot intentionally promote homosexuality, was enacted.

1989 Sonia Sutcliffe, wife of the Yorkshire Ripper, was awarded  £600,000 in damages (later reduced to £60,000 on appeal) after winning a libel action against Private Eye.

1990  A car carrying American Earth First! activists Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney exploded in Oakland, California, critically injuring both.

1991  Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia.

1991  Israel conducted Operation Solomon, evacuating Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

1992 The last Thai dictator,  General Suchinda Kraprayoon, resigned following pro-democracy protests.

1994  Four men convicted of bombing the World Trade Center in New York in 1993 were each sentenced to 240 years in prison.

2000  Israeli troops withdrew from southern Lebanon after 22 years of occupation.

2001 Fifteen-year-old Sherpa Temba Tsheri became  the youngest person to climb to the top of Mount Everest.

2001  The Versailles wedding hall disaster in Jerusalem, killed 23 and injured over 200 in Israel’s worst-ever civil disaster.

2002  Russia and the United States signed the Moscow Treaty.

2004  North Korea banned mobile phones.

Sourced from NZ History Online and Wikipedia.


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