USA shut down

October 1, 2013

An impasse between the USA’s  Republican House and Democrat Senate has shut down the government:

. . . Shortly before midnight, the White House budget office issued a memo instructing agencies to “execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations.”

The impasse means 800,000 federal workers will be furloughed Tuesday. National parks, monuments and museums, as well as most federal offices, will close. Tens of thousands of air-traffic controllers, prison guards and Border Patrol agents will be required to serve without pay. And many congressional hearings — including one scheduled for Tuesday on last month’s Washington Navy Yard shootings — will be postponed.

In a last-minute ray of hope for active-duty troops, Congress on Monday approved and sent to the White House an agreement to keep issuing military paychecks. But Obama warned that the broader economy, which is finally starting to recover from the shocks of the past six years, would take a substantial hit if congressional gridlock shutters “America’s largest employer.” . .

If our government shut down the rest of the world might not notice but what happens in the USA will have an international impact.

It’s already boosted our dollar.

The New Zealand dollar held its gains against the greenback on speculation a prolonged US government shutdown and an more weighty debate about the debt ceiling this month will sap demand for US dollars.

The kiwi traded at 83.04 US cents at 5pm in Wellington, holding its gains through the day from 82.84 cents late yesterday. The trade-weighted index was at 77.32, up from 77.19 the previous day.

It went past midnight in Washington, with no apparent agreement between the White House and Republicans, meaning the White House Office of Management and Budget would have ordered state agencies to begin shutting down services the government can’t pay for. A bigger threat is this month’s
deadline to lift the US$16.7 trillion debt ceiling or face possible default on debt payments. . .

There’s been several positive announcements on the New Zealand economy this week and expectations of reasonable growth.

But no matter how well we’re doing here, we’re not big enough to counter major problems in the rest of the world.

 


Word of the day

October 1, 2013

BIWI – because I’m worth it; a state in which sufferers believe the world owes them a living; the belief someone has of deserving something without earning it; a mutant strain of eligibility that promotes self interest and erodes the will for self sufficiency; entitilitus.

Hat tip: Eye to the Long Run


Rural round-up

October 1, 2013

Dairy farm effluent to electricity plan – Tim Cronshaw:

A new effluent processing system could be working on a Canterbury farm as early as next year as a result of a Nuffield scholarship tour to 21 countries by Meridian Energy agribusiness manager Natasha King.

King is the first person from the energy sector to win a Nuffield scholarship and used the five-month trip she returned from five weeks ago to research whether farmers should use effluent to generate electricity.

She said a possible solution had been found, but this was being kept under wraps until a cow shed trial was operating.

The effluent processing trial would be carried out on a 1000-cow dairy farm to see if dairy effluent could be turned into a fuel source, she said. . .

Ministers welcome new MPI Director General:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye are welcoming Martyn Dunne CNZM as the new Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

“Mr Dunne has an outstanding record of service in the military, the public service and as a diplomat,” says Mr Guy.

“His appointment signals a fresh start for MPI. I look forward to working with him on important issues like biosecurity and doubling our exports by 2025.”

Mr Dunne is currently New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Australia, and is a previous Chief Executive of the New Zealand Customs Service. He also has a distinguished record of 27 years’ service in the military, where he attained the rank of Major General and was the commander of New Zealand forces in East Timor. . .

Candidates For Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election Confirmed:

Candidates for the Fonterra Directors’ Election were announced by the Returning Officer today, following the completion of the Candidate Assessment Panel (CAP) process.

This year there are five candidates standing for the Board of Directors.  They are Eric Ray, Donna Smit, Michael Spaans, Malcolm Bailey and Ian Farrelly.

As in previous years, the CAP process was available to assess the capabilities, experience and qualifications of Director candidates and provide Fonterra shareholders with more information to help in making an informed vote.  While the CAP process is open to all Director candidates, it is not compulsory.  This year four of the five candidates went through CAP. . .

14 October closing date for Whey Inquiry submissions:

People who want to make submissions to stage one of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident have until 14 October to do so.

Stage one of the Inquiry will review the regulatory framework governing food safety in the dairy industry, and the recognised practices that apply in New Zealand, including a comparison with other comparable jurisdictions.

Stage two will investigate the incident that originated at Fonterra’s Hautapu plant in 2012 and developed in 2013. This part of the Inquiry is suspended until after completion of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ compliance investigation.

Chair of the Inquiry, Miriam Dean, says the Inquiry is largely inquisitorial in nature. . .

Sir Maarten Wevers joins PGP panel:

Primary Industries Nathan Guy has announced Sir Maarten Wevers as the sixth and newest member of the Primary Growth Partnership’s Investment Advisory Panel (IAP).

“This appointment reflects the growing profile and importance of the Primary Growth Partnership,” Mr Guy says.

Members of the IAP are responsible for providing advice on the investment decisions of PGP funds, and to help ensure that PGP investments achieve the aims of economic growth.

“Sir Maarten brings a wealth of experience to this role, having held a number of senior public sector and commercial roles spanning 35 years. . .

Tatua delivers a stunner:

Despite the high kiwi dollar, the Waikato based dairy cooperative, Tatua, has delivered an excellent result for its shareholding farmers with a cash payout after retentions of $7.40 per kilogram of milk solids (kg/MS).

“Tatua has always been a high performer and this is more than impressive. It is stunning,” says David Fish, a Federated Farmers member and Tatua shareholder.

“An after retention payout of $7.40 kg/MS leaves every other dairy processor trailing in our wake.  Fonterra, after all, announced last week a combined milk and dividend payout of $6.16 kg/MS. . .

Stubble fires seen as part of crop rotation:

A review of stubble burning on Canterbury grain farms has defended the practice as an essential part of crop rotation:

But it has also reminded farmers of the need to operate within the rules when they burn the residue after harvesting.

Canterbury Regional Council commissioned the Foundation for Arable Research to do a report on stubble burning as part of a council review of its air plan.

FAR research director, Nick Poole says Canterbury, as the main grain growing region, produces about 700,000 tonnes of crop residue per year, . . .

No.1 Family Estate’s Cuvee Adele 2009 takes Trophy for Champion New Zealand Sparkling Wine:

The New Zealand International Wine Show, New Zealand’s largest wine competition, has awarded Cuvee Adele 2009 the trophy for Champion New Zealand Sparkling Wine.

Made by winemaker Daniel Le Brun at his company No.1 Family Estate in Marlborough, the Cuvee Adele 2009 was launched in late 2012 as a proud tribute to his wife, Adele on her 60th birthday.

Daniel comments, “I can think of nothing better than an endorsement of this nature regarding this unique wine. It’s very special and I am truly delighted.” . . .


Nerdy book club, face recognition and annoying husband

October 1, 2013

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

* Nerdy Book Club – by and for people who love reading, and reading books for children and young adults in particular. The post heartprints by JoEllen McCarthy resonated in particular because I love Peter H. Reynolds’ books too.

He blogs at Stellar Cafe and Creative Juices and you’ll find out more at his website.

* Thanks to Richard, who comments here, for pointing me to the Mail Online’s story on Scotland Yard’s elite squad of ‘super recognisers’ and this test to determine how good you are at face recognition.

* My Husband is Annoying – she stated the blog in 2009 to vent. Her marriage has survived the blogging  so the vent must work and he mustn’t mind.

 


Favourite sounds

October 1, 2013

A post on Facebook led me to this survey on favourite sounds.

It doesn’t give any explanation on who’s surveying and why but if you’re in the mood for a little work avoidance click the link.

It confirmed I prefer quieter sounds to louder ones, sheep to cows, nature to vehicles.

 


Literally figurative

October 1, 2013

It’s official – literally doesn’t mean literally any more it means figuratively:

. . . the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary have changed the definition of “literally” – so it can now be used in a similar way to “metaphorically.”

Senior OED editor Fiona MacPherson told BBC Radio 5 live’s Breakfast: “If enough people use a word in a particular way… it will find its way into the dictionary.”

It means that literally as it ought to be used is literally dead.

Quite why the concept of literally has been lost defies me but I guess this is linguistic democracy at work.

The power of the people prevails even when the people are literally wrong.


Employment law fails animal welfare

October 1, 2013

Federated farmers is concerned that employment law is failing when it comes to animal welfare issues.

In a recent survey of its members, a clear picture was highlighted, where farm employers feel the legal system prevents them from ensuring livestock are not abused or neglected.

“It is clear from the survey that there is a huge lack of trust in the employment law system. Farmers feel they have been burnt when trying to protect their animals and would now rather “pay-out” staff, who have neglected their stock, in fear of the legal system letting them down,” said Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Employment Spokesperson.

“What we want is for simpler rules and a fair and balanced approach, when it comes to dismissing staff for animal welfare issues. When you have a staff member breaking tails, beating calves or dogs and so on, employment law appears to hinder the employer’s rights to mitigate this from happening.

“Almost 20 percent of those surveyed have had to dismiss an employee regarding animal welfare issues and of those, 64 percent said they paid out the employee because it was easier and less expensive than taking them to court. If there are no repercussions for offender’s actions, it does not bode well for livestock this person may work with in the future.

“It comes down to a matter of fairness; 50 percent of the respondents felt that employment law wasn’t fair to employers, where as just 12 percent felt it was. There is a big divide here and it needs to be acknowledged.

“If farmers don’t trust or understand the employment law system then how are they going to protect themselves from employee’s who are not only killing stock in inhumane ways but behaving aggressively to staff and their employer?” concluded Ms Milne.

Anything which compromises animal welfare ought to be grounds for automatic dismissal.

That is no longer a simple process and I know of a few cases where getting the process wrong resulted in legal action from sacked employees, who won.

The abuse wasn’t disputed but the way the dismissal was handled was deemed to contravene the workers’ rights.

This is why employers will opt for paying out the employee because it can be cheaper in the long run.

That means the employee gets off without having to face the consequences for the abuse.


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