Not such a good idea

July 4, 2013

Stuff asks what people think of Labour’s idea of quotas for women candidates:

Yes, great idea

402 votes, 8.3%

Maybe, would have to see more

291 votes, 6.0%

No, it seems one-sided

3778 votes, 78.0%

Really don’t care

374 votes, 7.7%

Total 4845 votes

It’s not scientific but I’d be very surprised if a proper poll showed any more enthusiasm for the idea,


Word of the day

July 4, 2013

Hardscrabble – returning little in exchange for great effort; yielding a bare or meagre living with great labour or difficulty; earning a bare subsistence, as on the land; being or relating to a place of barren, marginal or barely arable soil; characterised by chronic poverty and hardship.


Rural round-up

July 4, 2013

To be or not to be questions for red meat: Speech by Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson, to the 2013 Meat & Fibre Annual General Meeting, Ashburton

In writing my address to you today, where we will be discussing the biggest change red meat has faced for a generation, the first four lines from Shakespeare’s Hamlet come to mind. Especially since there seems to be something rotten in the state of our red-meat industry.

“To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles…”

Right there I seem to have exhausted my knowledge of Shakespeare!

Suffice to say Hamlet was a tragedy, which is not what we want for New Zealand’s red meat sector. Yet those lines pretty much sum up the position we are in. Do we leave things to chance, or do we do something about it? . . .

New pastoral lease rent system bedding in:

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson says 17 South Island High Country Crown pastoral leases are from this week on a new rent system.

There are 221 pastoral leases and each one has its rent reviewed every 11 years.

“The 17 leases were the first reviewed under new legislation (Crown Pastoral Land Amendment Act 2012) which bases rents on the earning capacity of the land and not on the value of the land exclusive of improvements. . .

Icebreaker Appoints Rob Fyfe as New Executive Chairman:

Rob Fyfe has stepped up his involvement in Icebreaker to become the Executive Chairman in September of this year.

Icebreaker founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Moon says he is thrilled to have Rob Fyfe more involved in the business.

“The chairman’s role is critical and works very closely with the CEO to steer the ship and set the priorities and objectives of the business for the future. I can think of no one better than Rob to be able to do this, given his wealth of experience. . .

Winter storms sends farm feed prices soaring:

Winter storms which which dumped heavy snow through much of the South Island and left some areas under water have sent supplementary feed prices soaring.

Southern farmers have been warned that feed shortages could become an issue if they get hit with more wild winter weather.

Otago Federated Farmers president Stephen Korteweg says farmers in the south did not go into winter with big surpluses of hay or straw. . .

New research trial shows blueberries’ potential:

New research trial shows blueberries’ potential for reducing hyperglycemia, weight gain and cholesterol levels.

“The blueberry’s ability to intervene in conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity is of critical importance,” says trial leader.

The results of a recently published research study highlight blueberries’ potential to play a significant role in helping to manage weight and prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. . .


Quality or quota?

July 4, 2013

Whaleoil has a  final edited list of proposed rule changes for the Labour Party which includes this gem:

New Rule 289A.  For the 2014 election the Moderating Committee shall, in determining the list, ensure that for any percentage of party vote likely to be obtained, and taking into account the electorate MPs likely to be elected with that level of Labour support, the resultant Caucus will comprise at least 45% women.  For the 2017 and subsequent elections the percentage shall be at least 50%.

And this one:

New Rule 248A. An LEC may request that NZ Council determine that only women may nominate for the position of Labour candidate for their electorate. Such approval overrides the right granted in Rule 251 for any member to be eligible for nomination.

Don’t laws against discrimination by gender work both ways?

There are also proposals for the list:

Amendment (deletions and insertions) to existing Rule 287.  The Moderating Committee shall examine the Regional lists and consider the representation across all lists of tangata whenua, gender, ethnic groups, people with disabilities, age and youth, sexual orientations, and the geographical spread and range of skills.  …….

Amendment (deletions and insertions) to existing Rule 290.  The Moderating Committee shall be bound by the need to arrive at a list which:

a)          fairly represents tangata whenua, gender, ethnic groups, people with disabilities, sexual orientations, and age and youth.

Electoral law requires party have a democratic process for list ranking.

I’m not sure if this dictatorial approach would meet the requirement.

Even if it does, this is another lurch to the left which will do nothing to improve Labour’s chances of leading the next government.

When all else is equal there might be grounds to choose a candidate who adds balance to a caucus.

But quality should come well before any quota for the sake of good government.


Thursday’s quiz

July 4, 2013

1. What does He aha te mea nui? He tangata. He tangata. He tangata mean?

2. What is a tīwaiwaka?

3. Who were the earth mother and sky father?

4. What do katau and mauī mean?

5. Do you have a tūrangawaewae?


Right to fresh air and safety

July 4, 2013

The government’s ban on smoking in prisons has been ruled unlawful.

Someone with a better understanding of the law than I have might be able to explain why.

I’d have thought the right for other prisoners and staff to breathe fresh air trumped that of smokers’. The danger to prisoners and staff from fire would be another justification for the ban.

The legal ruling appears to be academic anyway.

Corrections chief Ray Smith says prisons will remain smoke-free.

Law changes that came into force in March make it clear that tobacco products are unauthorised items and therefore it is against the law to bring them into a prison. They also make it an offence to smoke tobacco or any other substance inside a prison.

These amendments also address the issue of prisoners challenging penalties handed out to them for possessing tobacco products ruling out compensation for them.

Implementing smokefree prisons was always going to be a serious challenge and it has gone incredibly well and without major incident. We are the first national prison service to achieve this.

Since the introduction of smokefree prisons on 1 July 2011 our prison staff report a better and healthier work environment for both themselves and prisoners. Independent research has confirmed that air quality in our prisons has improved, and there has been a significant drop in fires.

For many sentenced and remand prisoners giving up smoking has led to a positive improvement in their lives, with better health and savings in money spent on tobacco products.

The ban was preceded by an extensive 12 month campaign led by Corrections and supported by the Ministry of Health and the Quit Group to encourage smoking cessation for prisoners and staff. This gave prisoners and staff the opportunity, support and motivation to attempt to stop or reduce their smoking prior to 1 July 2011. Many took up this opportunity and gave up smoking early.

Since July 2011 prisoners have been able to spend more money on phone cards and increase their contact with family and friends. They have also been engaging more with staff and available activities.

We have been able to provide a healthier, safer environment for staff and prisoners.

Better work environment, improved air quality, fewer fires, more money to spend on phone cards and a healthier, safer environment are all very good reasons for the ban to continue.


Independence Day

July 4, 2013

It’s the fourth of July here which is Independence Day in the USA, except it’s only July the third there.

It’s still the third in Egypt where a full military coup has ousted President President Mohamed Mursi.

Egypt’s army deployed tanks and troops close to the presidential palace in Cairo on Wednesday after a military deadline for Islamist President Mohamed Mursi to yield to street protests passed without any agreement.

Mursi’s national security adviser said a military coup was under way as armed forces commander General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met political, religious and youth leaders.

Egypt’s state-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported on its website that the army told President Mohamed Mursi at 7 p.m. (1700 GMT) that he was no longer head of state. It quoted a presidential source.

Meanwhile the state news agency MENA said they would make a joint announcement of a roadmap for a new transitional period and new elections two years after the overthrow of autocratic ex-president Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising. . .

Hopes were high that the Arab Spring would bring democracy, and prosperity, to Egypt.

Two years later those hopes have yet to be realised.

Happy Independence USA.

Good luck Egypt.


Turning regulation boat around

July 4, 2013

Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson, asks how are we going to turn the regulation boat around?

In his speech to Federated farmers annual conference he identifies the problem:

Regulation is being hijacked by bureaucrats and lawyers. Under the demand of a National Policy Statement, the public submits on it, commissioners listen to the arguments, make a ruling and then the real game of thrones begins in front of the Environment Court. Here, millions of dollars are squandered on lawyers and consultants. All in the fear of a draconian plan that nobody wants, let alone, understands. 

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

There is a disconnect here and if instead all this energy and money was put to a good cause we’d be one of the richest nations on earth, with water bodies the envy of everyone. Rotorua’s formula of “Councils+Farmers+Community = Results” will be outlined tomorrow by my mate Neil Heather at the Plenary Day. There’s a template for progress.

So how can we get some sense in this debacle?

• First off, get involved. Do not sit back and let others clean up the mess. Federated Farmers needs all the brain power we can get to fight the silly behaviour that comes our way because farmer inertia lets it in.

• Second, we must work together as the primary industries. In politics the weak must unite against the strong and we may be 72 percent of the exports but we are a mere 14 percent of the people.

• Third, we must stop infighting on nonsense issues such as the rights or wrongs of PKE. Instead we must influence those we elect to put in place policies that give us what we need to farm better and more productively.

• Fourth, it’s “the science stupid”. We need science to tell the truth not activists twisting it for a quick headline. Science helps to get some factual sense in the debate while giving farmers the tools we need.

• Fifth, get on the front foot with the bureaucrats before they design plans locking us into 2072. We need horizon visions for our own industry so policy makers can take us into account about where we want to go and how we intend to get there.

• Sixth, education. Maybe this should be the first to create a new generation of smart educated and articulate farmers. We see them at our awards but we need the award standard needs, to become the new normal. We also need a lot more scientists and academics to create a smarter New Zealand.

Regulations are usually made with good intentions but they’re not always practical and can have perverse outcomes.

Manawatu Whanganui regional Council has been forced to admit some requirements of its One Plan are unachievable.

Manawatu Wanganui Regional Council says no farmer will be stopped from intensive farming in the meantime, after it heard some were on suicide watch over its proposed environmental regulations.

Chairman Bruce Gordon said it has become clear some of the demands of its One Plan are unachievable, and that has resulted in groups of farmers being placed on suicide watch.

The One Plan said to reduce farm-nutrient loss and to improve freshwater quality and boost biodiversity in the region.

Mr Gordon said the council’s announcement is designed to alleviate some of the pressure on those who are “stressed to the max”.

“The council had to do something to give them certainty, and to give them a reason for getting out of bed and going to work in the morning.” . . .

Mr Gordon said farmers who meet the nitrogen leaching targets will be granted consents for 20 to 25 years.

Those who are working towards those targets will get a consent for 15 to 20 years. Those who have done nothing to reduce leaching will still receive consents of three to five years to give them time to come up with mitigation measures.

Mr Gordon said farmers in the area have done a huge amount to reduce their impact on the environment.

He said the region had 900 dairy farms discharging effluent from their sheds directly into waterways a decade ago. Today, he said, there are none.

Few would argue about the aims of the One Plan but it’s requirements must be achievable and balance economic, environmental and social needs.


July 4 in history

July 4, 2013

836  Pactum Sicardi, peace between the Principality of Benevento and the Duchy of Naples.

993  Saint Ulrich of Augsburg was canonized.

1054  A supernova was observed by the Chinese  the Arabs and possibly Amerindians near the star Tauri.

1120  Jordan II of Capua was anointed as prince after his infant nephew’s death.

1187  The Crusades: Battle of Hattin – Saladin defeated Guy of Lusignan, King of Jerusalem.

1253  Battle of West-Capelle: John I of Avesnes defeated Guy of Dampierre.

1456 The Siege of Nándorfehérvár (Belgrade) began.

1534 Christian III was elected King of Denmark and Norway.

1569  The King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Sigismund II Augustus signed the document of union between Poland and Lithuania, creating new country known as Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

1610  The Battle of Klushino between forces of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Russia during the Polish-Muscovite War.

1744  The Treaty of Lancaster, in which the Iriquois ceded lands between the Allegheny Mountains and the Ohio River to the British colonies, was signed.

1754 French and Indian War: George Washington surrendered Fort Necessity to French Capt. Louis Coulon de Villiers.

1774  Orangetown Resolutions adopted in the Province of New York, one of many protests against the British Parliament’s Coercive Acts

1776  American Revolution: the United States Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress.

1778 American Revolutionary War: Forces under George Clark captured Kaskaskia during the Illinois campaign.

1790 George Everest, Welsh surveyor, was born (d. 1866).

1802  At West Point, New York the United States Military Academy opened.

1810  The French occupied Amsterdam.

1816  Hiram Walker, American grocer and distiller, was born (d. 1899).

1817 Construction on the Erie Canal began.

1826 Stephen Foster, American songwriter, was born (d. 1864).

1827  Slavery was abolished in New York State.

1837  Grand Junction Railway, the world’s first long-distance railway, opened between Birmingham and Liverpool.

1840 The Cunard Line’s 700 ton wooden paddle steamer RMS Britannia left Liverpool bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia on the first transatlantic crossing with a scheduled end.

1845 Thomas Barnardo, Irish humanitarian, was born (d. 1905).

1845  Henry David Thoreau embarked on a two-year experiment in simple living at Walden Pond.

1855  In Brooklyn, New York, the first edition of Walt Whitman’s book of poems, titled Leaves of Grass, was published.

1862 Lewis Carroll told Alice Liddell a story that grew into Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequels.

1863 American Civil War: Siege of Vicksburg – Vicksburg, Mississippi surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant after 47 days of siege.

1863 A Confederate Army was repulsed at the Battle of Helena, Arkansas.

1865  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published.

1868 Te Kooti escaped from the Chatham Islands.

Te Kooti escapes from the Chathams

1868  Henrietta Swan Leavitt, American astronomer, was born (d. 1921).

1872  Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States, was born (d. 1933) .

1878 Thoroughbred horses Ten Broeck and Mollie McCarty ran a match race, immortalized in the song Molly and Tenbrooks.

1879  Anglo-Zulu War: the Zululand capital of Ulundi was captured by British troops and burnt to the ground, ending the war and forcing King Cetshwayo to flee.

1881 In Alabama, the Tuskegee Institute opened.

1882 Louis B. Mayer, American film producer, was born (d. 1957).

1883 Rube Goldberg, American cartoonist, was born  (d. 1970).

1886 The people of France offered the Statue of Liberty to the people of the United States.

1886 – The first scheduled Canadian transcontinental train arrived in Port Moody, British Columbia.

1887 The founder of Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, joined Sindh-Madrasa-tul-Islam, Karachi.

1892  Western Samoa changed the International Date Line, so that year there were 367 days in this country, with two occurrences of Monday, July 4.

1894  The short-lived Republic of Hawaii was proclaimed by Sanford B. Dole.

1898 Gertrude Lawrence, English-born actress, was born (d. 1952).

1902 The NZ Boxing Association was formed.

NZ Boxing Association formed at Christchurch

1903 Dorothy Levitt was reported as the first woman in the world to compete in a ‘motor race’.

1910 African-American boxer Jack Johnson knocked out white boxer Jim Jeffries in a heavyweight boxing match sparking race riots across the United States.

1911 Mitch Miller, American musician, singer and record producer, was born (d. 2010).

1917 Manolete, Spanish bullfighter, was born (d. 1947).

1918 King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV of Tonga was born (d. 2006).

1918  Ann Landers, American advice columnist, was born (d. 2002).

1918 – Abigal Van Buren, American advice columnist, was born.

1918 Ottoman sultan Mehmed VI ascended to the throne.

1918 – Bolsheviks killed Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family (Julian calendar date).

1924 Eva Marie Saint, American actress, was born.

1927  Neil Simon, American playwright, was born.

1927  First flight of the Lockheed Vega.

1934 Leo Szilard patented the chain-reaction design for the atomic bomb.

1938   American singer and songwriter, was born.

1939  Lou Gehrig, recently diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, told a crowd at Yankee Stadium that he considered himself “The luckiest man on the face of the earth” as he announced his retirement from major league baseball.

1941  Nazi Germans massacred Polish scientists and writers in the captured city of Lwów.

1946  After 381 years of near-continuous colonial rule by various powers, the Philippines attained full independence from the United States.

1947  The “Indian Independence Bill” was presented before British House of Commons, suggesting bifurcation of British India into two sovereign countries – India and Pakistan.

1950 The first broadcast by Radio Free Europe.

1959  The 49-star flag of the United States debuted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1969  The Ohio Fireworks Derecho killed 18 people and destroyed more than 100 boats on Lake Erie.

1976  Israeli commandos raided Entebbe airport in Uganda, rescuing all but four of the passengers and crew of an Air France jetliner seized by Palestinian terrorists.

1982  Iranian diplomats kidnapping: four Iranian diplomats were kidnapped by Lebanese militia in Lebanon.

1987  In France, former Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie (aka the “Butcher of Lyon”) was convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life imprisonment.

1993  Sumitomo Chemical‘s resin plant in Nihama exploded killing one worker and injuring three others.

1997  NASA‘s Pathfinder space probe landed on the surface of Mars.

2004 The cornerstone of the Freedom Tower was laid on the site of the World Trade Center in New York City.

2005  The Deep Impact collider hit the comet Tempel 1.

2006  Space Shuttle program: STS-121 Mission – Space Shuttle Discovery launched.

2006  North Korea tested four short-range missiles, one medium-range missile, and a long-range Taepodong-2.

2008  Cross-strait charter direct flight between mainland China and Taiwan started.

2009 – The Statue of Liberty‘s crown reopened to the public after eight years of closure due to security concerns following the September 11 attacks.

2009 – The first of four days of bombings on the southern Philippine island group of Mindanao.

2012 – The discovery of particles consistent with the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider was announced at CERN.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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