It’s protein but . . .

September 5, 2013

I have no compunction about eating animal protein.

We rarely do home kills but it doesn’t worry me eating something we’ve raised, unless it was a pet.

Protein is protein but I draw the line at eating something I’ve known by name.

This view is based on the normal run of the mill farmed protein varied with a little of the wild sort if someone’s been hunting.

I’ve never knowingly  been faced with the dilemma  of eating protein not regarded as usual fare here though acceptable in other countries.

Though there was a bar well away from the usual tourist traps in Nadi where we could hear dogs barking outside until a few minutes before our meal arrived and we did wonder if that was just coincidence.

Would I knowingly eat dog? My head tells me it’s just protein but my heart and stomach aren’t quite so open to the thought of eating it.

Maybe that explains why my first reaction to this story was one of sympathy for the dogs.

A dog meat vendor in Hunan province died after accidentally shooting himself with a poisoned dart fired from a crossbow that he used to kill dogs, mainland media reported.

The man was reportedly demonstrating how to use the toxic dart to other members of his meat-selling operation in June, when the crossbow went off and hit him in the leg, and he died on his way to hospital, several mainland media outlets said. . .

 


5/10

September 5, 2013

Only 5/10 in today’s Money week quiz.


Word of the day

September 5, 2013

Smouch – a slobbery smacking kiss; to smutch; to soil; a dark soil or stain; to pilfer, steal, take without permission.


Thanks Met Service

September 5, 2013

Members of the Pastoral management Group, to which we belong, shared experiences of June’s snow storms.

Everyone paid tribute to warnings from the Met Service which allowed stock to be moved and preparations made, both of which minimised the damage done.

Met Service has been equally accurate with its forecasts for the last few days. Thanks to that farmers and orchardists were able to prepare for the polar blast which reminded us yet again that the weather doesn’t observe the calendar.

August was mild but we’ve had a cold start to September about which Met Service warned us. I can see fresh snow on the Kakanui Range from my kitchen window and the temperatures are more wintry than spring-like.

Weather forecasting is not an exact science and we only ever know if forecasts are right after the event.

We’re quick to complain when they get it wrong but on these two occasions, Met Service was right when it mattered and their forecasts made a difference.


Rural round-up

September 5, 2013

Biological industries big winners – Hugh Stringleman:

Nitrate leaching, sheep milking, and new hops and beers were among the diverse research proposals that have attracted medium-term, contestable Government funding, Hugh Stringleman found out.

Biological industries have received 80% of the Government’s 2013 allocation of contestable research funding and the proposed Lincoln Hub has been conspicuously successful.

Lincoln Hub partners AgResearch, DairyNZ, Landcare Research, Lincoln University, and Plant & Food Research secured grants totalling $133 million for 21 new research projects. . .

Genotyping chip a milestone for sheep industry:

An international team has developed a powerful new tool that can be used to test a sheep’s genetics and predict its productivity and meat quality.

FarmIQ in conjunction with Illumina and the International Sheep Genomics Consortium (ISGC) are have announced completion of the “Ovine Infinium® HD SNP BeadChip”.

This new chip is capable of identifying up to 600,000 points across the sheep genome (otherwise known as single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs). It is one of the first high-density chips developed for sheep and follows the release in January 2009 of the OvineSNP50 BeadChip, which can identify over 50,000 points. . .

Zespri wins top award in Asia for marketing:

Zespri has been recognised for the quality of its marketing programmes across Asia at the inaugural Asia Fruit Awards in Hong Kong.

Zespri’s president of global sales and marketing Dan Mathieson was presented with the Marketing Campaign of the Year award at the Asia Fruit Awards, which were presented by Asiafruit Magazine and Asia Fruit Logistica as part of the annual Asia Fruit Logistica and Asiafruit Congress event.

Asia Fruit Logistica is the leading trade exhibition for Asian fresh produce business and is attended by about 6000 buyers and trade visitors from more than 60 countries. . .

Research to look at pasture production and profitability:

New researchby AgResearch will get down to the grass roots, or more accurately, clover roots of New Zealand farming.

A $7 million programme aims to increase pasture production and profitability by improving the ability of legumes such as white clover to fix nitrogen in the soil.

Bacteria called rhizobia, which live in the nodules on clover roots, are an essential part of that nitrogen-fixing process.

The natural nitrogen supplied into pastures in this way has been referred to as New Zealand’s competitive advantage in farm production. . .

Bacterial toxins harnessed for bioinsecticides and medicine:

New Zealand and Australian scientists have found a new way in which bacteria store and release toxins, and their discovery may be harnessed to develop new bioinsecticides for crop pests and even new medicines.
 
The team, led by Dr Shaun Lott from AgResearch and The University of Auckland and Dr Mark Hurst at AgResearch in Lincoln, studied how the bacterium Yersinia entomophaga kills crop pests such as grass grubs, diamondback moths and porina caterpillars. . .

Ballance user testing “more sophisticated” nutrient technology:

Farmers will soon have a tool to help them deal with areas of the farm that are more likely to be the source of nutrient losses.

The emerging technology from Ballance Agri-Nutrients is one of the initial outcomes of the co-operative’s research and development programme, which is being co-funded by the Government’s Primary Growth Partnership.

User testing and validation is now underway for the “precision decision” model, which will give farmers access to information about how they can reduce nutrient losses while getting the best response from their fertiliser use, says Ballance’s Research and Development Manager, Warwick Catto. . .


Thursday’s quiz

September 5, 2013

1. Who said: There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.?

2. By what name was the singer Yusuf Islam before he converted to Islam?

3. It’s chouchou in French, beniamino in Italian, mascota in Spanish and poti  in Maori, what is it in englishE

4. What is ailurophobe?

5. Cat, dog, other, no pet at all?


NZ up good, Aust down bad

September 5, 2013

More good news. We're on the right track.

For the first time in the history of the World Economic Forum’s competitiveness index, New Zealand is ranked higher than Australia.

New Zealand has outperformed Australia on the latest Global Competitiveness Index for the first time, according to an annual report compiled by the World Economic Forum.

New Zealand climbed five places from last year to come in at 18th on the overall ranking of global competitiveness, while Australia slipped one place to drop out of the top 20 for the first time with a score of 21.

The annual Global Competitiveness Report is compiled from 111 indicators, categorised into 12 pillars of competitiveness in four main sub-indices: basic requirements, efficiency enhancers, and innovation and sophistication factors.

Dr Oliver Hartwich, Executive Director of the New Zealand Initiative – which helped compile the survey data – said the improvement reflected the steady recovery of the local economy and prudent pro-growth policies that have been put in place to support it, helping New Zealand hold its competitive ground while other countries slipped back amid a weaker global growth outlook.

That contrasted with Australia, which is New Zealand’s second biggest trading partner, where deteriorating labour market conditions (ranked 54th globally, down 12 places from last year) and a heavy regulatory burden (ranked 128th in the world) weighed on the country’s competitive ranking.

“The performance is more startling when you consider that just five years ago New Zealanders were staring at ballooning deficits and a deep recession while the Australian government was debt free and riding the tailwind of a mining boom,” said Dr Hartwich.

New Zealand was ranked among the top 10 in the world for the quality of its institutions, health and primary education, higher education, goods and labour market efficiency, and financial markets development.

Dr Hartwich cautioned against complacency, noting that the country had failed to make any improvement on its innovation and business sophistication factors, ranking 27th globally – behind both Puerto Rico and Qatar.

“We need to focus on boosting our capacity to innovate and in areas of the economy besides our traditional agricultural strengths,” Dr Hartwich said. “The urgency for this is underscored when you consider that Switzerland, which was ranked second in the world for both innovation and business sophistication, was named the most competitive economy in the world for a fifth year straight.”

The next most competitive countries were Finland, Japan, Germany, Sweden, the United States, the Netherlands, Israel, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

New Zealanders enjoy beating Australia but we shouldn’t let trans-Tasman rivalry blind us to the down side of these results.

That New Zealand’s competitiveness has improved is good but Australia going backwards is bad for them and us.

They are our closest neighbour and one of our most important trading partners.

If their economy is less competitive it makes it more difficult for our companies which trade there.

Our improvement and Australia’s backslide can largely be credited, or blamed, on different government policies.

In a column at the New Zealand Initiative, Hartwich, writes:

. . . Many of our New Zealand members have extensive business relations across the Tasman and are intimately connected to the Australian economy. It has been palpable in recent months how their perceptions of the two economies have changed. While they have become more and more buoyant about New Zealand’s domestic prospects, their assessment of the Australian economy has gradually deteriorated. . .

The survey of Australian business leaders, conducted by the Australian Industry Group, revealed that the most problematic factors for doing business in Australia are restrictive labour regulations, inefficient government bureaucracy, tax rates and tax regulations.

New Zealand, on the other hand, shows an altogether more promising picture. The greatest objective difficulties are macroeconomic circumstances and, unsurprisingly, market size. However, the country scores high for the quality of its institutions, its education and health systems, its goods and labour market efficiency as well as the development of its financial markets. The areas in which kiwi business leaders see the greatest need for improvement are infrastructure, the education of the workforce and the country’s capacity to innovate.

Again, I would take issue with the WEF’s macroeconomic assessment. On New Zealand, it seems too pessimistic to me.

There are some obvious macroeconomic dangers for the New Zealand economy, in particular an overheating property market. On the other hand, fiscal policy has been going in the right direction for the past five years. The current government has maintained spending discipline in the most adverse circumstances.

When Bill English became Minister of Finance in 2008, he not only had to confront the repercussions of the global financial crisis, but also inherited an economy in recession, a collapsed non-bank finance sector and the prospect of deficits for years to come. To make matters worse, two earthquakes destroyed the CBD of the country’s second largest city, Christchurch.

Despite this, the New Zealand government remained committed to returning the budget to surplus while trying to provide some stimulus through income tax cuts. The strategy worked: The New Zealand budget will be in surplus from next year and growth is steady.

This macroeconomic outlook directly translates into the economic mood. According to the ANZ Business Outlook survey, a net 48.1 percent of New Zealand firms expect general business conditions to improve in the year ahead, down from a 14-year high of 52.8 percent in July. In contrast, last month’s National Australia Bank’s survey of Australian business confidence fell to its lowest level since November 2012.

Just this week, Newport Consulting revealed that almost 60 per cent of Australian business leaders believe that Canberra is working against them. Only 13 per cent of New Zealand business leaders said the same about their own government in Wellington.

The same survey also showed that a vast majority of Australian executives experienced a slow-down in the Australian economy, whereas only 37 per cent of New Zealand corporate leaders said the same about their own economy. . .

This reflects well on New Zealand and the National-led government’s policies but there is absolutely no room for complacency here.

The policies which helped New Zealand’s competitiveness have been consistently criticised by the opposition and the policies promulgated by Labour’s aspiring leaders are those which are doing the harm in Australia – restrictive labour regulations, inefficient government bureaucracy, tax rates and tax regulations.

The improvements in New Zealand’s economy which have boosted our competitiveness have taken a long time and a lot of hard work. that isn’t finished yet but all the good could be undone in a very short time with a change of government.

If we don’t have a government determined to maintain spending discipline and focussed on policies which make it easier to do business and employ people, we’ll be following Australia backwards.


Living wage will cost jobs, kill businesses

September 5, 2013

A “living wage” is one of many expensive policies based on emotion rather than research which Labour’s aspiring leaders are promising to implement.

Prime Minister John Key said the policy would cost about $2.6 billion and predicts 26,000 jobs would be lost.

The Motel Association said the introduction of a living wage will cost jobs in the motel sector, with some owner-operators indicating they do not have the capacity to pay more in wages, and would instead lay off staff.

. . . While it’s all well and good for politicians to talk about raising wages, but thought needs to be given to the businesses that end-up footing the bill, MANZ Chief Executive Michael Baines says.

“It’s a simple equation, raising the minimum wage to the so-called ‘living wage’ level of $18.40 will cost jobs. That is a fact,” Mr Baines says.

“Motels are being hit on one side with sharply increasing costs, often in the form of rating and compliance costs that are forever being cranked higher by greedy local government. On the other side we are facing competition from the likes of B&Bs and holiday homes which are untaxed, unregulated and can dodge these compliance costs.”

The majority of motels are owner-operated, so when costs increase but revenue does not, usually the only option is for the owner to lay off staff and do more of the work themselves. This is what will happen under the living-wage scenario.

“If politicians wanted small business owners such as in the motel sector to have the capacity to raise wages then they should cut the red tape, reduce compliance costs and create an even playing field across accommodation providers,” Mr Baines says.

 

“If you create an environment where quality businesses can flourish, especially small businesses, then the rewards will flow for everyone.”

Max Whitehead, CEO of the Small Business Voice said the policy would cause economic disaster for working New Zealanders:

Mr. Whitehead says that 97% of New Zealand enterprises employ less than 20 people — mum and dad businesses struggling to keep afloat.

“These are Kiwis who mortgage their homes to have a go at running a small business. They give people in the dole queue a job and hope for the future. If their businesses go well, then you’ll find that employees’ wages, along with job security, will increase too.”

Mr. Whitehead says a 34% wage increase will hit these business’ hard. David Cunliffe and Grant Robertson’s over-generous declaration with “other people’s money” will most certainly bring many of the small businesses down and, ironically, cost jobs.”

The costs will be put back to the consumer; inflation will go up; the Reserve Bank will respond by raising interest rates and, in turn, mortgage rates will go up.

“ The very people this bribe is designed to please will be the ones who suffer. Is this what Labour wants?

Eric Crampton at Offsetting Behaviour runs an economists eye over the proposal:

. . . Were the government promising an $18.40 minimum wage across the board, things would be rather worse. The median hourly wage in the 2012 NZ Income Survey was $20.86. A minimum wage that’s 88% of the median wage would be rather, well, breathtaking. Recall the median wage is the one where half of all wage earners earn more and half earn less. Workers vary in ability; a minimum wage at 88% of the median would disemploy anyone who cannot produce value equal to just a bit less than the median worker. This would obviously be very bad. Recall that unemployment weighs far more heavily in disutility than do wages. . .

The proposal here isn’t for an $18.40 minimum wage but rather for a living wage mandate for government workers. The effects then are more minor. . .

The main effect will be an increase in the cost of providing some government services. At the margin, this should mean that we have a few fewer things done by government, albeit within the context of an expansion in the size of government under a future Labour government. There would also then need to be an increase in taxes to fund it, or reduced spending in other areas to compensate, or higher deficits. I suspect Labour would bridge the gap via tax.
Bereft of ideas which would foster economic growth and so increase the tax take, one of few tools it has to fund its wild spending is to increase tax rates.
There will be some transitional unemployment as marginal jobs undertaken by government get shifted away from the government sector. If some of these workers were earning substantial rents in the government sector and are not employable above the legal minimum wage in the private sector, there could be some increased longer-term unemployment from that. . .
Another important effect: contractors will enjoy less of a cost advantage relative to government departments; we could easily read the policy as a way of trying to knock out contracted services to benefit public sector unions.. .
A policy that benefits unions but costs jobs – where’s the economic and moral argument for that?
If you want to increase the wages of the working poor, you hardly should be starting with government workers, who earn more on average than those in the private sector and who typically also enjoy greater job security and flexibility. And if you want to run transfers to the working poor, generalised wage subsidies are the least distortionary way of doing it. Labour’s proposed mechanism would be likely to reduce the efficiency of government services by pushing away from contracting out, and to skew the optimal balance between government services and other goods and services by increasing public sector costs. . .

That would increase the burden of government and  make it more difficult for businesses outside government to compete for staff.

Improving incomes is a laudable aim but imposing a “living wage” is not the way to do it.

Sustainable wage increases must be based on productivity and profitability, not government dictate.


No single cause

September 5, 2013

When something goes badly wrong, everyone wants to pin the blame on someone or something.

However, often there isn’t a single person or thing at fault, but a series of mistakes and this is what Fonterra has found in the operational review in the wake of the debacle over the precautionary recall of products containing why protein concentrate.

In an email to shareholders, chair John Wilson said:

The Review found that there was not one single cause of the precautionary recall. It was the result of a number of separate and unrelated events occurring in an unforeseen sequence:

  • The decision to reprocess the original WPC80 and not downgrade the product, in combination with the use of an item of non-standard equipment, was the cause of the contamination.
  • A one-off lapse in information sharing across two parts of the business led to delays in testing.
  • This issue should have been escalated to CEO-level earlier.
  • A major upgrade of the computer systems at some of our sites immediately prior to the recall resulted in product tracing taking longer than it should have.
  • Although Fonterra has clearly established domestic and international product recall systems, the size and complexity of the WPC80 recall was a factor, particularly given the product had itself become an ingredient in the products of multiple customers.

Having established what went wrong, the company is determined to improve its practices to prevent a repeat of the problem.

Business Improvements
To help prevent an incident like this happening again, Fonterra will:

  • Ensure our world-class food production standards continue to be maintained at all times, across all sites, in areas such as quality control, testing, and product specifications.
  • Further increase the business’ focus on quality and safety across the end-to-end supply chain.
  • Increase transparency, internally and externally, to improve information flows and the speed of escalation. 
  • Ensure Fonterra strengthens its product recall and supply management systems which allow the tracing of all product that is in its control, and collaborates with customers on how to link different supply chains and quickly trace products.

The business is now making changes based on the lessons learned in this review, including:

  • Establishing the new role of Group Director of Food Safety and Quality reporting directly to the CEO.
  • Strengthening the remit and scope of the Food Integrity Council.
  • Launching an internal Food Safety and Quality Hotline for staff and contractors to escalate any concerns about potential food safety risks.
  • Quality audits have been completed at our sensitive nutritional plants, including Hautapu.
  • Comprehensive staff training on use of an upgraded computer to efficiently trace products across our entire supply chain has been completed.

Other actions to follow involve a review of any upcoming system changes, strengthening our crisis management capability, and reviewing our traceability systems in our global businesses.

The business is also introducing additional authorisation requirements for non-standard processing and testing, and conducting specialised audits of our global manufacturing plants and product quality standards.

We’ll also be looking to implement any findings from the Board’s independent inquiry.

Everything in our power is being done to rebuild absolute confidence in our processes and products, and to strengthen New Zealand’s already strong food safety and quality system – and make Fonterra even stronger for the future.

Now that tests have confirmed there was no botulism risk the company is being criticised for “crying wolf” but it was right to act when there was a risk that babies’ health might be at risk.

Food safety must always come first.

However, while the precautionary recall was necessary, so too was far better communication than the company provided.

Fonterra  did the right thing but it communicated what it was doing and why badly and that is where it let itself, its shareholders, customers and the country down.

Lessons learned from what went wrong must result in improved practices to prevent a repeat and far better communication if there is another problem.


September 5 in history

September 5, 2013

1661  Fall of Nicolas Fouquet:  Louis XIV’s Superintendent of Finances was arrested in Nantes by D’Artagnan, captain of the king’s musketeers.

1666  Great Fire of London ended: 10,000 buildings including St. Paul’s Cathedral were destroyed, but only 16 people were known to have died.

1698  In an effort to Westernize his nobility, Tsar Peter I of Russia imposed a tax on beards for all men except the clergy and peasantry.

1725 Wedding of Louis XV and Maria Leszczyńska.

1774  First Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1781  Battle of the Chesapeake.

1793 French Revolution the French National Convention initiated the Reign of Terror.

1798  Conscription was made mandatory in France by the Jourdan law.

1800 Napoleon surrendered Malta to Great Britain.

1812 War of 1812:  The Siege of Fort Wayne began when Chief Winamac’s forces attacked two soldiers returning from the fort’s outhouses.

1816  Louis XVIII had to dissolve the Chambre introuvable (“Unobtainable Chamber”).

1836 Sam Houston was elected as the first president of the Republic of Texas.

1839  The First Opium War began in China.

1840  Premiere of Giuseppe Verdi’s Un giorno di regno at La Scala, Milan.

1847  Jesse James, American outlaw, was born (d. 1882).

1850 Jack Daniel, Creator of Jack Daniel’s, was born (d. 1911).

1862  James Glaisher, pioneering meteorologist and Henry Tracey Coxwell broke world record for altitude whilst collecting data in their balloon.

1877  Indian Wars: Oglala Sioux chief Crazy Horse was bayoneted by a United States soldier after resisting confinement in a guardhouse.

1882  The first United States Labor Day parade was held in New York City.

1887  Fire at Theatre Royal in Exeter killed 186

1905  The Treaty of Portsmouth, mediated by US President Theodore Roosevelt, ended the Russo-Japanese war.

1914 World War I: First Battle of the Marne begins. Northeast of Paris, the French attack and defeat German forces who are advancing on the capital.

1915 The pacifist Zimmerwald Conference began.

1918 Decree “On Red Terror” was published in Russia.

1927  The first Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon, Trolley Troubles, produced by Walt Disney, was released by Universal Pictures.

1929 Bob Newhart, American actor and comedian, was born.

1932  The French Upper Volta was broken apart between Ivory Coast, French Sudan, and Niger.

1938  A group of youths affiliated with the fascist National Socialist Movement of Chile were assassinated in the Seguro Obrero massacre.

1939 Prime Minister, Michael Joseph Savage, declared New Zealand’s support for Britain and attacked Nazism.

PM declares NZ's support for Britain

1939 John Stewart, American musician (The Kingston Trio), was born (d. 2008).

1939 George Lazenby, Australian actor, was born.

1940 Raquel Welch, American actress, was born.

1942  World War II: Japanese high command ordered withdrawal at Milne Bay, first Japanese defeat in the Pacific War.

1944 Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg constituted Benelux.

1945 Al Stewart, Scottish singer and songwriter, was born.

1945  Cold War: Igor Gouzenko, a Soviet Union embassy clerk, defected to Canada, exposing Soviet espionage in North America, signalling the beginning of the Cold War.

1945 – Iva Toguri D’Aquino, a Japanese-American suspected of being wartime radio propagandist Tokyo Rose, was arrested in Yokohama.

1946  Freddie Mercury, Zanzibar-born English singer and songwriter (Queen), was born (d. 1991).

1951 Michael Keaton, American actor, was born.

1960 Poet Léopold Sédar Senghor was elected as the first President of Senegal.

1969  My Lai Massacre: U.S. Army Lt. William Calley was charged with six specifications of premeditated murder for the death of 109 Vietnamese civilians.

1972 Munich Massacre: “Black September” attacked and took hostage 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games. 2 died in the attack and 9 die the following day.

1977  Voyager 1 was launched.

1978 Chris Jack, New Zealand All Black, was born.

1978 Camp David Accords: Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat began peace process at Camp David, Maryland.

1980 The St. Gotthard Tunnel opened in Switzerland as the world’s longest highway tunnel at 10.14 miles (16.224 km) stretching from Goschenen to Airolo.

1984  The Space Shuttle Discovery landed after its maiden voyage.

1984  Western Australia became the last Australian state to abolish capital punishment.

1986  Pan Am Flight 73 with 358 people on board was hijacked at Karachi International Airport.

1990 Eastern University massacre, massacre of 158 Tamil civilians by Sri Lankan army.

1991 The  Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989, came into force.

1996 – Hurricane Fran made landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina as a Category 3 storm with 115 mph sustained winds

2000 The Haverstraw–Ossining Ferry made its maiden voyage.

2005 Mandala Airlines Flight 091 crashed into a heavily-populated residential of Sumatra, killing 104 people on board and at least 39 on the ground.

2007 – Three terrorists suspected to be a part of Al-Qaeda were arrested in Germany after allegedly planning attacks on both the Frankfurt International airport and US military installations.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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