Word of the day


Psephology -the  statistical study of elections and trends in voting; academic study of elections and electoral behaviour.

Hat tip: Bowalley Road.

Streets, roads and swearing


Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass this afternoon was sparked by:

* What’s the difference between a street and a road?


* How to swear without swearing.

Rural round-up


Dairying drives region’s growth – Neil Ratley:

The agricultural industry ensured Southland was one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing regions during the global financial crisis, new figures show.

Statistics New Zealand this week released the first official measure of regional economies, analysing 15 regions between 2007 and 2010.

Although the figures are three years old, Venture Southland enterprise services manager Alistair Adam said agriculture and manufacturing remain the two biggest drivers of Southland’s economy.

The conversion to dairy has strengthened the agricultural industry while the global financial crisis impacted on the manufacturing industry, he said.

“In the past 18 months, it has been a difficult time for manufacturing but we are seeing some good growth in the industry in Southland,” Mr Adams said. . .

Feed an issue as cows lose condition – Tony Benny:

Saturated paddocks are making it difficult for Canterbury dairy farmers to feed their stock and cow condition is suffering as a result.

“The amount of feed wasted over the last 10 days to two weeks has just been phenomenal,” said South Canterbury sharemilker Ben Januay. “We’re probably only getting 50 per cent utilisation and we’ve lost two weeks of putting condition on cows so we’re now right behind the eight-ball.”

Januay milks 2200 cows on a farm near Rangitata but the herd is being wintered on a runoff at Waihao Forks, near Waimate. “We’re the same as every farmer I think in the region – flooded paddocks, flooded rivers and mud up to your waist. Every farmer I talk to says they’re just struggling to get into paddocks to feed stock.” . . .

Acting Director-General of Ministry for Primary Industries announced:

State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie has today announced the appointment of Scott Gallacher as Acting Director-General and Chief Executive of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Mr Gallacher is currently MPI’s Deputy Director-General Resource Management and Programmes. He will take up the position from 29 July 2013 when the current Director-General, Wayne McNee, leaves MPI to take up a role in the private sector.

Mr Gallacher joined the Ministry of Fisheries in January 2009 as Chief Legal Adviser. He moved to become Director Strategy, Planning and Governance in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in early 2011 before taking up his current role in MPI in late 2011. . .

New chair for dairy industry awards:

SOUTH AUCKLAND sharemilker Gavin Roden is the new chair of the Dairy Industry Awards organisation.

Roden has been on the executive committee since 2011 and takes over from Southland farmer Matthew Richards who’s chaired the awards for the usual three year term.

“It’s business as usual for the awards this year,” Roden told Rural News. “The focus is the 25th anniversary of the Sharemilker competition.” . . .

Trophy treasured – Sally Rae:

When Outram stock agent and farmer Geoff Edgar won the Doug Lindsay Memorial Trophy in the annual Otago-Southland beef competition, he admitted it gave him ”a bit of a kick”.

Mr Edgar described the late Taieri cattleman as a ”grand old gentleman”. He had learnt a lot from him.

Mr Edgar received the trophy for winning champion on the hoof with a Limousin steer, which was described as having tremendous quality and finish. He also won reserve champion on the hoof with another Limousin steer. . .

Future of farming – robo hamster balls:

The hamster ball. Great for exercising hamsters, bringing stress levels down in humans and, according to Spanish scientists, the future of farming.

The Robotics and Cybernetics Research Group from the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid have devised a robot that can effectively check moisture levels of farm soil.

Watch the robo ball in action below . . .

Argument against publicly funded lobbying


A cautionary tale from Britain:

An ‘independent’ celebrity-backed campaign to increase foreign aid was secretly engineered by Whitehall, it was claimed yesterday.

The IF movement recruited David Beckham, Orlando Bloom and Mo Farah to ensure the Government made good on a pledge to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on overseas help.

But internal documents reveal plans were cooked up by ministers and advisers at Whitehall and the Tory party conference two years ago.

At one of the first summits, an aide of David Cameron met representatives of five charities which between them receive more than £60million a year from the taxpayer via the Department for International Development. . . .

The government gave lobby groups money to lobby it to do something it wanted to do.

There’s no better argument against public funding of lobby groups.

It reinforces the wisdom of changes made here so that groups whose primary focus is political or lobbying no longer get charitable tax status.

Hat tip: Tim Worstall.

UK pushes EU to embrace GM


Britain is pushing the European Union to relax restrictions on genetically modified crops as growing scientific evidence shows they’re safe.

The move comes as 61 per cent of UK farmers now say they would like to grow GM crops after a disastrous 12-month cycle of poor weather that is expected significantly to reduce harvest yields. Senior government officials said that ministers are increasingly concerned that the potential moral and ethical benefits of GM are being ignored by costly and bureaucratic licensing regulations.

With one-twelfth of global arable land under GM cultivation they have privately warned that Britain faces being left behind in an important technology that has the potential to improve crop yields, help the UK’s agricultural industry and provide benefits to human health through vitamin fortification.

Government sources added that GM also had applications beyond food including the potential to combat diseases such as ash dieback and in developing new medicines.

“The point about GM is not simply about food production,” they said. “There are wider potential environmental and economic benefits to the technology both in the UK and internationally.

“What we want to do is start a dialogue within Europe on GM based upon the science.” . .

Genetically modified crops are widely used in many countries and none of the fears raised by the anti-science, anti-business opponents to their use have been realised.

On top of the advocated benefits of improving yields and cutting down on costs such as pesticides, the increasingly extreme weather has concentrated farmers’ minds on the need to guard against climate change.

“The weather has definitely had an impact,” said Martin Haworth, director of policy at the National Farmers Union. “Farmers are becoming more and more aware that climate change doesn’t mean a gradual rise in temperatures but rather a stream of extreme weather events. GM technology is one possible way of mitigating this.

“Last summer was disastrous for potatoes, for example. The potential for growing potatoes resistant to blight has had an impact on some farmers’ attitudes,” he said, adding that farmers were “very frustrated” at not being able to grow GM crops. . .

This will be tricky for the antis.

They’ll be pleased that farmers are acknowledging the impacts of climate change.

But they can’t insist we accept the science on that if they’re not willing to accept the science on genetic modification.

Labor’s lessons for Labour


Political leaders almost always get the blame for their poll woes but Luke Malpass points out there is a lot more to Labor’s problems than its former leader.

. . .  it’s often overlooked that Mr Rudd was dumped in large part because many of his policies were either poor quality or unpopular and his administration inept.

Many “policies” were either mismanaged, or simply never materialised.

Climate change topped the list of Rudd policy failures. Despite bloviating that it was “the greatest economic, moral and social challenge of our time”, Mr Rudd quickly abandoned doing anything when it became unpopular.

An ineffective fiscal stimulus was still being spent in school halls years after the global financial crisis had passed, while a home-insulation disaster came complete with house fires, deaths, and a ruined industry.

He presided over an abandoned laptops-in-schools programme. He introduced an unworkable and punitive mining-super-profits tax.

He legislated the Fair Work Act, taking industrial relations back to the 1970s. He dismantled the “Pacific solution” for asylum seekers, helping restart the odious people-smuggling trade, and 100 boat people are now arriving daily.

For this reason Mr Rudd’s elevation will probably make little difference. The policies are the same, and are still unpopular.

The basic conceit, under which Labor has operated since 2009, is that it is no good at “selling its message” – the notion that people might just not like the policies is never countenanced.

The policy failures, political ineptitude, blatant spin and deceit under both Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd have been staggering. . .

There are lessons in the Australian Labor Party’s mistakes for the New Zealand labour Party.

The inability for its leader to gain traction is part of its problem.

But that is compounded by its chasing the Green Party to the left and obvious internal instability.

David Shearer’s leadership has never been secure and gets less so with every bad poll.

But just as a change of leader for Labor didn’t improve its policies, dumping Shearer won’t make Labour’s prescription any more palatable.

It has criticised every move National has made to rein in public spending, make the public service more efficient, reduce the burden of the state, encourage people from welfare to work, and other policies which have helped the country weather economic storms and track back to surplus.

Criticism is one role for an opposition. But it also needs to come up with compelling alternatives that make it look like a government in waiting.

Labour has failed to do this and like Labor, failed to see that people simply don’t like its policies.

Crown Irrigation Investments ready for business


Crown Irrigation Investments Limited is now established and ready to work with backers of new irrigation schemes.

This is very good news from Ministry for Primary Industries Nathan Guy.

“The company will act as a bridging investor for regional water infrastructure projects, helping kick-start projects that would not otherwise get off the ground. The Government has set aside $80 million in Budget 2013 for this purpose,” says Mr Guy.

All members of the establishment board have been appointed to the new Board of Crown Irrigation Investments Limited.

The Board will be chaired by Alison Paterson, with members Don Huse (Deputy Chair), Debbie Birch, Lindsay Crossen, Chris Kelly, Graeme Sutton, and Michael Webb.

“Crown Irrigation will invest where it is considered necessary to get a project underway. It will be a minority and targeted investor.

“This is another important step towards unlocking the massive opportunities that water storage and irrigation can create for New Zealand.

“There is potential for another 420,000 hectares of irrigated land to be available for a variety of uses over time. Research from NZIER suggests exports could be boosted by $4 billion a year by 2026, which would support thousands of new jobs.

“More consistent river flows in summer will also have real benefits for the environment, with improved habitats for fish and birdlife.

“After the extreme drought that most of the country suffered earlier this year, the need for better water storage is obvious,” says Mr Guy.

CII’s role is not to enable uneconomic schemes to go ahead.

It will provide bridging finance in the early stages of a scheme’s development to enable it to get off the ground.

The money will be repaid as initial shareholders increase their investment or new ones join the scheme.

A time to die


To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; . . .

The author of Ecclesiastes was right.

There is a time to die.

There is also a time to let those we love die and I am saddened by the report which says Nelson Mandela’s former wife, Winnie, and their daughter, Zindzi, say they’ll never agree to just let him go, as he struggles for life.

There is a time when letting go is humane and an act of love, when refusal to do so is an act of selfishness.

I have on two occasions had to make the decision to let a child go.

The first time Tom was only 20 weeks old.

We’d been told a month earlier that he had a degenerative brain disorder and was unlikely to live long.

He’d stopped breathing, been resuscitated but was in a critical state.

His doctor asked me what I wanted the medical team to do.

I said if he was able to help himself they should do all they could but if it was a matter of prolonging the inevitable they should let him go.

The doctor said they’d done all they could, handed Tom to me and he stopped breathing a few minutes later.

Seven years later I faced a similar decision.

Our second son Dan had the same brain disorder that had killed his brother. He was in hospital for an operation and got an infection which he wasn’t able to fight.

When he stopped breathing the doctor asked the nurse to summon the crash team but I said no. Dan’s paediatrician had said if ever something like this happened it would be best to let him be.

The doctor asked if I was sure, I said yes and he respected that decision.

This isn’t quite the same as the imminent death of an elderly man but the principle is.

There is a time when it is right to fight for life and a time when it isn’t.

There is a time to die and a time to let those we love die.

Sharples resigning


Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples is to resign from the leadership today and will leave parliament at next year’s election.

Clinging to the co-leadership as he had been wasn’t good for the party and could well have contributed to its poor showing in Saturday’s by-election.

However, his retirement could make it more difficult for the party to hold his seat.

It will have to find a strong candidate who will attract wide support as his successor in Tamaki Makaurau.


July 2 in history


626 In fear of assassination, Li Shimin ambushed and kills his rival brothers Li Yuanji and Li Jiancheng in the Incident at Xuanwu Gate.

706 Emperor Zhongzong of Tang had the remains of Emperor Gaozong of Tang, his wife and recently-deceased ruling empress Wu Zetian, her son Li Xian, her grandson Li Chongrun, and granddaughter Li Xianhui interred in a new tomb complex, the Qianling Mausoleum, located on Mount Liang.

963  The imperial army proclaimed Nicephorus Phocas to be Emperor of the Romans.

1298  The Battle of Göllheim between Albert I of Habsburg and Adolf of Nassau-Weilburg.

1489  Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, was born  (d. 1556).

1494  The Treaty of Tordesillas was ratified by Spain.

1555  Turgut Reis sacked Paola.

1561 Menas, Emperor of Ethiopia, defeated a revolt in Emfraz.

1582  Battle of Yamazaki: Toyotomi Hideyoshi defeated Akechi Mitsuhide.

1613 The first English expedition from Massachusetts against Acadia led by Samuel Argall.

1644 English Civil War: the Battle of Marston Moor.

1679  Europeans first visited Minnesota and saw headwaters of Mississippi in an expedition led by Daniel Greysolon de Du Luth.

1698  Thomas Savery patented the first steam engine.

1776  The Continental Congress adopted a resolution severing ties with Great Britain.

1777 Vermont became the first American territory to abolish slavery.

1823  Bahia Independence Day: the end of Portuguese rule in Brazil, with the final defeat of the Portuguese crown loyalists in the province of Bahia.

1839 – 53 rebelling African slaves led by Joseph Cinque took over the slave ship Amistad.

1871  Victor Emmanuel II entered Rome after its conquest from the Papal States.

1877  Hermann Hesse, German-born writer, Nobel laureate, was born (d. 1962).

1881 Charles J. Guiteau shot and fatally wounded U.S. President James Garfield.

1897 Italian scientist Guglielmo Marconi obtained patent for radio in London.

1900 The first zeppelin flight took place.

1903   Alec Douglas-Home, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born. (d. 1995).

1903  King Olav V of Norway, was born (d. 1991).

1917 Murry Wilson, American musician and producer (The Beach Boys), was born (d. 1973).

1917  The East St. Louis Riots ended.

1929 Imelda Marcos, First Lady of the Philippines, was born.

1930 Carlos Menem, former President of Argentina, was born.

1934 Tom Springfield, British singer and songwriter (The Springfields), was born.

1934  The Night of the Long Knives ended with the death of Ernst Röhm.

1937  Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan awee last heard from over the Pacific Ocean while attempting to make the first equatorial round-the-world flight.

1938  The electrified rail line between central Wellington and the northern suburb of Johnsonville was officially opened by Minister of Railways Dan Sullivan and Wellington Mayor Thomas Hislop.

Electric trains come to Wellington

1939 Paul Williams, American singer (The Temptations), was born (d. 1973).

1940  Indian independence leader Subhas Chandra Bose was arrested and detained in Calcutta.

1950  The Golden Pavilion at Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto burned down.

1953 Mark Hart, American musician (Crowded House and Supertramp), was born.

1954 Pete Briquette, Irish musician (The Boomtown Rats), was born.

1956 Jerry Hall, American actress and model, was born.

1962  The first Wal-Mart store opened for business in Rogers, Arkansas.

1966  French military explodeed a nuclear test bomb codenamed Aldébaran in Mururoa, their first nuclear test in the Pacific.

1976  North and South Vietnam, divided since 1954, reunited to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

1985 Andrei Gromyko was appointed the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union.

1987  Nilde Iotti was named as the first female President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies.

1993 – 37 participants in an Alevi cultural and literary festival were killed when a mob of demonstrators set fire to their hotel in Sivas during a protest.

2000 Vicente Fox Quesada was elected the first President of México from an opposition party, the Partido Acción Nacional, after more than 70 years of continuous rule by the Partido Revolucionario Institucional.

2001  The AbioCor self contained artificial heart was first implanted.

2002 Steve Fossett became the first person to fly solo around the world nonstop in a balloon.

2003  Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of Italy, insulted German MP Martin Schulz by calling him a “kapo” during a session of the European Parliament.

2004 ASEAN Regional Forum accepted Pakistan as its 24th member.¨

2005 – Live 8 took place in London’s Hyde Park and other locations around the world.

2008  Ingrid Betancourt, and 14 other hostages held by FARC guerrillas, are rescued by the Colombian armed forces.

2010 – The South Kivu tank truck explosion in the Democratic Republic of the Congo kills at least 230 people.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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