Mad Hatters’ tea party

October 21, 2013

Quote of the day:

 . . . “You guys have spent your careers trying to analyse what he says and you’ve got more sense out of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. He talks in riddles, he doesn’t stick to what he says, it’s a waste of time having discussions that are about a bottom line.

“There are no bottom lines with Winston Peters. He will do a deal with who he feels like doing a deal with. . . ” John Key.

The USA has the Tea party. In Peters we’ve got the Mad Hatter.


Word of the day

October 21, 2013

Snudge – a miser; a sneaking fellow; to lie snug or close to; to be stingy and niggardly; to cheat especially in competition; to go about hunched over or as if in deep thought; to stride around as though you’re terribly busy, when in fact you are doing nothing.


Rural round-up

October 21, 2013

Merger on agenda – Alan Williams:

Meat co-operative merger is back on the agenda for the election of directors at Silver Fern Farms (SFF) in mid-December.

Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group chairman Richard Young and executive member Dan Jex-Blake have stood down from their roles to contest the two seats up for grabs at the SFF annual meeting.

They will be campaigning for a merger of SFF with Alliance Group as a first step in meat-industry consolidation.

The MIE group is also expected to stand two candidates in the Alliance director election. . .

Changes to dairy welfare code

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) says it is addressing concerns about the long-term housing of dairy cattle.

NAWAC is seeking public consultation on proposed changes to the Animal Welfare (Dairy Cattle) Code of Welfare 2010.

NAWAC chair Dr John Hellström says that off-pasture management systems for dairy cattle, including purpose-built housing, are becoming increasingly common in New Zealand. . .

Visits part of celebrations – Ruth Grundy:

Angus cattle enthusiasts from around the globe began their month-long celebration of the breed in the South Island last week.

It is expected up to 500 will attend the four-day PGG Wrightson World Angus Forum and the celebration of 150 years of Angus cattle in New Zealand which began in Rotorua, on Sunday. It will be followed by a tour of prominent North Island studs and was preceded, last week, with visits to well-known South Island breeders. . . .

Study commissioned on renewable fuel for farms – Johann Tasker:

Scientists are looking at ways to increase the use of renewable fuels made from crops and agricultural waste in farm vehicles.

The Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) has commissioned a new report to study the potential for innovative low carbon transport technologies and fuels in rural areas and on-farms.

The study is called Re-fuelling the Countryside: Sustainable Farm and Rural Transport.

It will investigate the potential and practicalities of farm-sourced renewable fuels and innovative transport technologies using a mixture of industrial applications, research and case-studies. . .

Company’s strategy set out for shareholders:

”Exciting opportunities” have been outlined to Wools of New Zealand shareholders at a roadshow criss-crossing the country.

Chairman Mark Shadbolt updated the company’s progress since it was capitalised in March, with more than 700 applications for shares worth just over $6 million.

”The important thing is you now own Wools of New Zealand and we’ve got a vehicle to go forward with,” Mr Shadbolt told the 14 people at the Oamaru roadshow meeting on October 1. . .

Wool becoming more interesting – Sally Brooker:

Wool has a vital role to play in the European textiles market, an English expert says.

Camira Fabrics development director Cheryl Kindness spoke at the Wools of New Zealand roadshow in Oamaru on October 1. Her company makes fabrics for upholstery used in public places, including buses and trains.

With a testing and manufacturing site in Huddersfield, a plant in Lithuania and a Nottingham facility that makes ”knit to fit” covers for chairs, it has more than 600 employees and a turnover last year of 455 million ($NZ875 million). . .

New milk provides closer-to-farm-gate taste experience:

Lewis Road Creamery is expanding its premium offering down the dairy aisle with the launch of a range of organic Jersey milks that are a first for New Zealand and provide a ‘from-the-farmgate’ taste experience.

Lewis Road Creamery Organic Jersey Milk is the first 100 percent Jersey milk to be available on supermarket shelves. Jersey milk is renowned for being richer and creamier in taste and texture, and combined with being organic, whole milk that is free from both permeate and palm kernel expeller, delivers a top quality product that surpasses standard milk.

“It’s milk the way it should be,” says Lewis Road Creamery founder Peter Cullinane. . .


Cat smuggles to cat burglar?

October 21, 2013

Prison guards discovered a cat was smuggling pot into a prison in Moldova.

The report doesn’t say if the feline was delivering the contraband to a cat burglar, nor if it was called Smokey.

 

 


Can sharpest town be Gigatown? #gigatown #oamaru

October 21, 2013

Oamaru, New Zealand’s sharpest town, is vying to be the fastest town, and not just in this country but in the southern hemisphere.

The town, and it’s people, are doing their best to win Chorus’s  competition to become the first in the southern hemisphere to receive one-gigabit per second broadband speeds.

‘Welcome to Gigatown’ will be a year-long competition led by ultra-fast broadband (UFB) infrastructure company Chorus. The competition aims to spark innovation and mobilise the potential of UFB to transform local economies and services to drive better outcomes for New Zealand communities.

Chorus Head of Marketing and Sales, Victoria Crone says the one-gigabit fibre broadband will be deployed to the New Zealand town that shows New Zealand it has the most desire to be Gigatown.

“Over the course of a year we’re going to ask New Zealand communities to get creative, get online and tell New Zealand why their town should receive this gigabit connection,” says Crone.

“Over the next couple of months we will work with local communities and councils, as well as the rest of the telecommunications industry, to make sure we deliver a great competition that gives the widest possible range of communities the chance to be New Zealand’s Gigatown.”

All communities covered by Chorus’ Ultra-fast Fibre build plans will be eligible to enter the competition. Welcome to Gigatown is expected to launch on Labour Day 2013, with the winning town announced in early 2015.

Crone says that Welcome to Gigatown aims to encourage New Zealanders to start thinking about UFB as a huge opportunity to transform our country’s economy and also deliver great social outcomes.

Two international UFB experts are in New Zealand to support the announcement of Welcome to Gigatown and provide commentary on the potential of New Zealand’s unique fibre model.

According to Sheldon Grizzle, an innovation lead at CO.LAB in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the power of Gigabit fibre to transform a town’s economy has been clearly demonstrated as Chattanooga transformed from the most polluted city in the USA to one of its most innovative digital economies.

“The Chattanooga story can happen in New Zealand because it is one of the few countries around the world that is on track to provide fibre connectivity to the majority of its country’s homes, schools and businesses,” says Grizzle.

“It is absolutely possible that the Gigatown project will enable one New Zealand town to transform itself into a leading digital innovation hub for New Zealand and beyond,” he says.

Joining Grizzle in New Zealand is Benoit Felten, an international fibre specialist and founder of the French research and consultancy firm, Diffraction Analysis.

Felten has an incredible breadth and depth of expertise on fibre, from the technology through to industry dynamics, propositions, business models and applications. . .

Chatanooga shows the benefits of ultra fast broadband.

Previously shamed as one of the most polluted and unliveable cities in America, Chattanooga was one of the first cities in the world to roll out a fibre to the premise (FTTP) network offering gigabit connection speeds to homes and businesses. This has been credited with playing a role in attracting a swell of economic investment into Chattanooga, including the expansion of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant and the establishment of Amazon.com facilities. Chattanooga has also become a digital innovation centre that is driving development of next generation fibre applications.

Chattanooga’s fibre optic network has been emulated by a handful of other cities in the US and it is studied internationally as a model of how to build the smart cities of the future. . .

The competition requires towns to rally their communities to vote.

Winning Chorus’ gigatown competition is at the top of the agenda for a group of Oamaru people who are behind the local campaign.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the town to access a one gigabit per second internet connection.

Lance Streeter, Derek Golding and Nicolas Erdody held a meeting on Wednesday night to discuss strategy plans on how to ensure Oamaru wins the competition.

The competition requires communities to rally together to vote for their town.

For a vote to be counted, Oamaru residents will have to take to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and use #gigatown and #oamaru together in a post.

Entries will be evaluated on the size of the town’s population to allow for a fair competition.

Facebook page was set up on October 10 and when I checked a few minutes ago already had 779 likes.

Then there’s twitter #gigatown#oamaru

The internet provides opportunities for people to work away from main population centres. An engineer lives not far from us and works on projects all around the world from his home through the internet.

Faster connections are better connections and becoming a Gigatown would make work like this even easier.


State of emergency declared in NSW

October 21, 2013

We spent a couple of days in rural Victoria last week.

A strong, not wind was blowing, it felt like a nor wester at home, but the fire danger was low. Pastures were green and lush with spring growth and dams were full.

victoria

 

But blackened trees showed where bush fires had raged and our hosts told us of days spent fire fighting as their farms and homes were threatened.

They were counting their blessings as they listened to news of fires further north.

A week later New South Wales premier Barry O’Farrell has declared a state of emergency across the whole state as bush fires worsen.

Mass forced evacuations affecting tens of thousands of people are possible as hotter and drier than expected conditions combine with huge fire fronts already burning.

”This is not out of the realms of possibility,” NSW Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said. ”We are expecting the potential for the series of these fires to come together, to extend right down Bells Line of Road.

”They have the very real potential to go right out to the eastern end of the Hawkesbury, right down into the north-west area of Sydney including Richmond. . .

The Sydney Morning Herald has live updates.


Exhibiton Express

October 21, 2013

Kiwirail is celebrating 150 years of rail in New Zealand with a tour of the country by its Exhibition express.

A powerful KiwiRail engine is pulling new scenic carriages and four themed containers, each packed with fascinating displays about rail in New Zealand. Stopping at 12 locations across the country, there will be family fun, prizes and giveaways. Entry is free and everyone is welcome.

The schedule is at the link above.

The train will be in Oamaru today from 10 – 4.


Waiting leaves voters in dark

October 21, 2013

Winston Peters will again leave voters in the dark over his post-election intentions.

We have this old fashioned perception of democracy and that is we wait until the votes are counted.

This isn’t more democratic, it’s less.

Letting voters know a party’s position about potential coalition partners gives them information on which they can make an informed decision.

Some voters might support a party that will support one party but not another.

But what Peters says is irrelevant anyway.

This is the man who said he wouldn’t accept the baubles of power then not only did but clung onto them after he’d been stripped of his ministerial power.

Like Humpty Dumpty, what Winston says means just what he chooses it to mean so an indication of what he’d do after the election would be worthless anyway.


ACC levies down, pay up

October 21, 2013

Finance Minister Bill English says ACC levies could drop more than first thought and pay rates will increase:

The Government is planning to reduce ACC levies by as much as $2 billion over the next two-three years, Finance Minister Bill English said today.

Speaking to Corin Dann on TV ONE’s Q+A, Mr English said that ACC has “by combination of things, including just doing a better job of rehabilitating people sooner” given the Government the opportunity to reduce levies substantially – “the equivalent of a four cent cut in the company tax rate.”

Mr English also told Corin that in the same two-three year time-frame, New Zealanders can look forward to higher pay increases.

““The good news for the punter is that business confidence is at the highest it’s been at for many years.  That indicates that in their workplaces, there’s growing confidence that they can sell more, that profits are going to be up, that pay rises are coming.             

“There are some things that will force them to do it.  One is just their need to get hold of skilled people.  We’ve already got skill shortages in some areas.  As employment— As new jobs grow, you’re going to see more of that,” Mr English says.

ACC levies and pay rates are related. Lower levies leaves more money with businesses which makes them better able to afford wage increases but the positive outlook is based on much more than that.

The economy is growing and businesses are doing better.

They will have several priorities for increased earnings including reducing debt and investment in their businesses. Included in that investment will be pay increases for staff.

The full interview is here.


NZ First’s Kiwifund threat to super

October 21, 2013

Winston Peters has let his distrust of business and ignorance design a flawed superannuation investment policy:

A new superannuation fund to save billions of dollars for KiwiSaver contributors over the next thirty years will be a central plank for New Zealand First at the 2014 General Election. . . .

 Mr Peters told delegates that private funds managers were sucking the lifeblood out of KiwiSaver, and in five short years had already taken $325 million in management and investment fees.
 
“Independent forecasts show that over the next thirty years these funds managers will take more than $22 billion from KiwiSavers and there is no government guarantee that the remaining funds will be safe.
 
“There is huge pressure from the finance industry to get their hands on more retirement funds. The figures show these companies will make spectacular profits at the expense of people saving for their retirement. 
 
“Our plan is to change KiwiSaver so that it is a truly government-backed and managed retirement fund. Because of the economies of scale, and the elimination of hordes of ticket clipping fund managers, costs will be greatly reduced. People who pay into KiwiSaver will get their full return.”

Has he any idea of the cost of this? Can he guarantee the bureaucrats who will be managing the funds will be any less expensive and any better at investing than private fund managers?

Under the New Zealand First plan, KiwiFund will be government-guaranteed and it would invest substantially in New Zealand.
 
“People saving through KiwiFund will be buying back New Zealand.  KiwiFund will invest in buying back farmland, state assets and critical infrastructure. Funding will also be provided to support smart local companies to develop new products and create jobs.

A government guarantee passes the risk to taxpayers.

Super funds invest overseas for very good reasons. Funds based only, or substantially, in New Zealand would be vulnerable to natural or financial disasters here, some overseas investments insulates funds from that.

Having financial eggs is several baskets is a sound and sensible investment strategy.

Landcorp, the state owned farm company, makes less than 1% return on assets. How will KiwiFund’s farms do better than that?

Who will pick these smart, local companies and what guarantees will there be that they will provide sustained returns necessary to make superannuation sustainable?

“We have to invest in our own future. Overseas pension funds and corporate investors can hardly believe their luck – and are buying up everything they can in New Zealand.

“New Zealand First says its time to stop this sell out. We are already well down the road to serfdom in our own country.” . . .

Other people risking their money in our businesses isn’t a sell-out. It’s welcome inward investment which boosts share prices.

How much does he think these assets would be worth without overseas investment?

Mr Peters warned there would be “howls of outrage” from the private funds managers who would “fight to the death” to retain their $22 billion gravy train.
 
“In the United States, private funds managers lost billions of dollars of pension funds during the 2008 financial crisis. We simply cannot afford to let that happen to the retirement savings of New Zealanders.

And how would he guarantee that public funds wouldn’t do the same in the next financial crisis?

“KiwiFund will enable us to build a high performance economy from which all New Zealanders will get the benefit,” said Mr Peters.

KiwiFund would nationalise private savings.

It would jeopardise superannuation and threaten its sustainability by increasing the risk and reducing returns.

Investment policy must be based on sound financial sense not xenophobia and populist bias against business.

Peters says KiwFund will be a bottom line in coalition negotiations.

Labour and the Green Party might be stupid enough to agree to it, National wouldn’t.

But history tells us what Winston says is a bottom line now and what actually is if he’s in a position to negotiate after next year’s election won’t be the same thing.


October 21 in history

October 21, 2013

1096 People’s Crusade: The Turkish army annihilated the People’s Army of the West.

1520  Ferdinand Magellan discovered the strait which was named after him.

1600 Tokugawa Ieyasu defeated the leaders of rival Japanese clans in the Battle of Sekigahara, which marked the beginning of the Tokugawa shogunate that ruled Japan until the mid-nineteenth century.

1772 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, British poet, was born (d. 1834).

1797  In Boston Harbor, the 44-gun United States Navy frigate USS Constitution was launched.

1805 Battle of Trafalgar: A British fleet led by Vice Admiral Lord Nelson defeatd a combined French and Spanish fleet off the coast of Spain under Admiral Villeneuve.

1805 Austrian General Mack surrendered his army to the Grand Army of Napoleon at the Battle of Ulm.

1816 The Penang Free School was founded in George Town, Penang, by the Rev Hutchings. It is the oldest English-language school in Southeast Asia.

1824  Joseph Aspdin patented Portland cement.

1833  Alfred Nobel, Swedish inventor and founder of the Nobel Prize, was born(d. 1896).

1854 Florence Nightingale and a staff of 38 nurses were sent to the Crimean War.

1861 American Civil War: Battle of Ball’s Bluff – Union forces under Colonel Edward Baker were defeated by Confederate troops.

1867  Manifest Destiny: Medicine Lodge Treaty – Near Medicine Lodge, Kansas a landmark treaty was signed by southern Great Plains Indian leaders. The treaty required Native American Plains tribes to relocate a reservation in western Oklahoma.

1879 Using a filament of carbonized thread, Thomas Edison tested the first practical electric incandescent light bulb.

1892 Opening ceremonies for the World’s Columbian Exposition were held in Chicago, though because construction was behind schedule, the exposition did not open until May 1, 1893.

1895 The Republic of Formosa collapsed as Japanese forces invaded.

1902 In the United States, a five month strike by United Mine Workers ended.

1917  Dizzy Gillespie, American musician, was born (d. 1993).

1921 Sir Malcolm Arnold, British composer, was born (d. 2006).

1921 President Warren G. Harding delivered the first speech by a sitting President against lynching in the deep south.

1921 George Melford’s silent film, The Sheik, starring Rudolph Valentino, premiered.

1929 Ursula K. Le Guin, American author was born.

1931 Vivian Pickles, English actress, was born.

1940  Geoff Boycott, English cricketer, was born.

1940  Manfred Mann, English musician, was born.

1942 Judy Sheindlin, American judge (“Judge Judy”), was born.

1944 The first kamikaze attack: A Japanese plane carrying a 200 kilograms (440 lb) bomb attacked HMAS Australia off Leyte Island, as the Battle of Leyte Gulf began.

1945 Women’s suffrage: Women were allowed to vote in France for the first time.

1945 Juan Perón married Evita.

1952 Trevor Chappell, Australian cricketer, was born.

1953  Peter Mandelson, British politician, was born.

1956 Carrie Fisher, American actress and writer, was born.

1959 The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, opened to the public.

1964 Peter Snell won a second gold at the Toky Olympics.

Peter Snell wins second gold in Tokyo

1965  Comet Ikeya-Seki approached perihelion, passing 450,000 kilometers from the sun.

1966  Aberfan disaster: A slag heap collapsed on the village of Aberfan, killing 144 people, mostly schoolchildren.

1967 Vietnam War: More than 100,000 war protesters gathered in Washington, D.C..  Similar demonstrations occurred simultaneously in Japan and Western Europe.

1969 A coup d’état in Somalia brought Siad Barre to power.

1973 John Paul Getty III‘s ear was cut off by his kidnappers and sent to a newspaper in Rome.

1978 Australian pilot Frederick Valentich vanished in a Cessna 182 over the Bass Strait, after reporting contact with an unidentified aircraft.

1979  Moshe Dayan resigned from the Israeli government because of strong disagreements with Prime Minister Menachem Begin over policy towards the Arabs.

1983  The metre was defined at the seventeenth General Conference on Weights and Measures as the distance light travels in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458 of a second.

1986  In Lebanon, pro-Iranian kidnappers claimed to have abducted American writer Edward Tracy.

1987 Jaffna hospital massacre by Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka killing 70.

1994 North Korea and the United States signed an agreement that requires North Korea to stop its nuclear weapons program and agree to inspections.

1994  In Seoul, 32 people were killed when the Seongsu Bridge collapsed.

2003  Images of the dwarf planet Eris were taken and subsequently used in its discovery by the team of Michael E. Brown, Chad Trujillo, and David L. Rabinowitz.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipeda


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