Mandela’s funeral live-stream

December 15, 2013

TV3 is broadcasting a live stream of Nelson Mandela’s funeral here.


Word of the day

December 15, 2013

Biometeorology – The study of the relationship between atmospheric conditions, such as temperature and humidity, and living organisms; study into how weather affects people.


Rural round-up

December 15, 2013

Couple forced off farm so it can be flooded for breeding birds, under EU rules: Miranda Prynne:

A couple have been forced off the land they have farmed for 30 years and planned to pass on to their sons so it can be flooded for breeding birds under EU laws.

Former Army officer Kenneth Hicks said he and his wife Deidre have been told they must leave the 60-acre estate by Eurocrats who put the “rights of birds above humans”.

The couple wanted to pass Harbour Farm (above), in Bembridge on the Isle of Wight, on to their three sons when they took retirement.

But now they claim they are being forced to move “with a gun to their heads” so the RSPB can take over the plot to boost endangered bird populations. . .

Tensions rise as farmers wait on repairs – Tim Cronshaw:

The worst of the irrigators wrecked by the September windstorm have needed $500,000 worth of repairs, and as many as 15 Canterbury farmers are reaching desperation point waiting for expensive parts to arrive from overseas.

Irrigator crews working overtime believe they will have more than 80 per cent of the repairs off their books by Christmas, with one company having finished only 60 per cent.

Some of the worst-hit arable farmers remain without irrigator access to water their crops, and the last of the corner arm repairs may take until March to complete.

Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Andrew Curtis said most companies were confident they would have most of the repairs finished within the next few weeks. . .

Crushed finger leads to vibrating post driver – Penny Wardle:

A Marlborough contractor has invented a safe way of driving vineyard posts into the ground.

John Weatherall said losing his right index finger when it was crushed by a hammer-driver got him thinking about safer ways of doing the job.

“I was holding the post while operating the driver when the top 300mm was crushed with my finger amongst it,” Weatherall said.

Five years and many refinements later he has a vibrating-press driver he is happy with, developed with Hamilton’s Machinery Ltd of Rapaura near Blenheim. . .

Maximum capacity – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra has reached capacity from its mix of processing facilities, resulting in the milk price being pegged and the dividend forecast slashed.

It cannot take any more advantage from soaring world milk powder prices, driven by demand from China.

Farmers’ expectations of a boomer season have been tempered and those of investors dashed.

Despite widespread anticipation of another large increase, fuelled in part by competitors that process solely with powder driers, Fonterra held its forecast milk price last week at a record $8.30 a kilogram. . .

Follow the journey of a Christmas tree – Laura Moss:

What happens to the tree before it reaches your house? Modern Christmas tree farms are often large-scale operations with thousands of employees — and one farm in Oregon even has helicopter pilots.

early 30 million Christmas trees are sold in the U.S. each year, and while they appear in our homes only briefly, growing them is a full-time, year-round task.
 
Large-scale Christmas tree farms like Oregon’s Noble Mountain Tree Farm are massive operations that employ thousands of workers.
 
They’re designed to be efficient, and they rely on both old-fashioned human labor and modern technology.
 
While trees are planted and tended by hand at Noble Mountain, the harvesting process involves helicopters flown by skilled pilots whose speed and precision recently took the Internet by storm in a viral video. . .

Half of Kerry farmers over-claim for payments – Anne Lucey and Stephen Cadogan:

Farmers are required to exclude from their annual payment application all ineligible features, such as buildings, farmyards, scrub, roadways, forests, and lakes.

The Government has this year been able to use the latest crystal-clear satellite technology to take thousands of images of farmers’ land to check how much of the land is eligible for payments.

Now it is going after farmers who have over-claimed.

According to the department, over-claims have no impact for 75% of farmers, because they declare more than enough land to cover payment entitlements.

However, 4,000 farmers in Kerry alone have received letters telling them they were applying for grants for ineligible land. . .


Unheard Music

December 15, 2013

Open large picture

From Story People by Brian Andreas.

Clicking on the link will take you to where you can sign up for an email delivery of a daily dose of whimsy like this.


Welcome progress on TPP

December 15, 2013

Trade Minister Tim Groser has welcomed the significant progress made during the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministerial meetings in Singapore.

“I am pleased to report that we have substantially advanced the negotiation here in Singapore.  My colleagues and I were able to make good progress across the negotiating agenda, keeping true to the objectives Leaders have set for the negotiation.  In many areas we have identified potential landing zones that will guide the final phase of work.”

While more work remains to be done, Mr Groser said that momentum is accelerating in the negotiation and he was confident that conclusion of a comprehensive, high quality, 21st century agreement was in sight. 

“However, we will not short change ourselves.  We will take as long as needed to achieve a deal that eliminates trade barriers for New Zealand exporters and can advance our vision of regional economic integration in the Asia Pacific.  The gains a high quality TPP would generate for the New Zealand economy demand we get this right.”

TPP Ministers and negotiators have agreed to next meet in January.

Business organisations in New Zealand have reacted positively to the announcement of substantive progress.

“If it takes longer for TPP to be concluded so be it,” said Stephen Jacobi, Executive Director of the both the NZ International Business Forum and NZ US Council.

“Trade Minister Tim Groser and his officials deserve congratulations for their perseverance in continuing what we know is a challenging negotiation.”

Mr Jacobi said New Zealand businesses wanted to see a high quality, substantive and comprehensive outcome to TPP.

“It’s positive that Ministers have been able to identify what they call “landing zones” in the majority of areas under negotiation. To land TPP clearly requires additional work. We should continue to do all we can to support the achievement of a TPP that meets New Zealand’s interests and makes a strong contribution to growth and jobs.”

Former Labour leader and former Trade Minister Phil Goff says New Zealand would be a winner with the TPP.

New Zealand would benefit more than most countries from a concluded Trans Pacific Partnership deal, former Labour trade minister Phil Goff told the Herald last night.

“We have the least barriers and therefore we have the least we have to give away,” he said. “Other countries have to give away much more.

“While there are all sorts of problems involved in this negotiation, you have to look at the wider picture and the wider picture is that each country will benefit from a successful conclusion to it but New Zealand will benefit more than most.” . . .

This view isn’t shared by all his colleagues nor by potential coalition partners the Green and Mana Parties.

It’s a pity opponents to the deal can’t see past their ideology to the benefits free trade brings to producers and consumers.

The only losers will be the favoured few businesses which benefit from lack of competition and the bureaucrats and politicians who gain power, and money, from tariffs and subsidies.


Trio of NZers of Year

December 15, 2013

 

The editorial says exceptional talents make one choice impossible:

Dignity, poise and determination to walk their own path are what set Lydia Ko, Lorde and Eleanor Catton apart in a world of copycats.

. . . The choice is never easy, but never has it been more difficult than this year.

Three young New Zealanders made major waves internationally, as well as locally. The achievement of each was, in its own way, so extraordinary and distinct that it would be pointless to try to rank them. This year, therefore, Eleanor Catton, Lydia Ko and Lorde share the accolade.

At a first glance, the feats that thrust the three young women to global prominence appear to have little besides their youth and gender in common.

Eleanor Catton is the youngest author to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize; Lydia Ko scaled the heights of women’s golf while just 16, becoming the youngest person and the only amateur ever to win an LPGA tour event; and Lorde, at the same age, became the first New Zealander to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States.

But they have some characteristics in common, one of which helps to explain why each has been so successful.

It is the way in which their singular ambitions led them to step outside the usual confines of their respective endeavours. . .

It is difficult to overstate the impact of the trio internationally. In sum, they rendered obsolete any sense that this country’s geographic position is in any way an obstacle. . .

In many ways, the three young women also said something about New Zealand as it is today. Of the trio, only Lorde was born in this country, but then of Croatian and Irish ancestry. Eleanor Catton was born in Canada, where her father was completing a doctorate, though she has lived here since she was 6.

But it is the Korean-born Lydia Ko who says the most about New Zealand’s changing face. Having come to this country as a toddler, she has played a significant role in changing perceptions about Asian immigrants. As a captivated nation cheered her on, a study by the Asia New Zealand Foundation found New Zealanders now share a much greater affinity with Asia and immigrants from that region.

It helped that she showed a notable willingness to embrace her adopted country. Never was this better illustrated than in the YouTube video that confirmed she was turning professional.

Customarily, this would be the subject of a staid media conference. But with a quirkiness befitting her youth and character, and this country’s most abiding passion, she announced her decision to the All Black fullback Israel Dagg during a round of golf.

Lorde and Eleanor Catton, likewise, highlighted their New Zealand togetherness when, shortly after their individual triumphs, they posed in a New York bed, channelling the photograph of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s 1969 peace protest.

The three young women were also engagingly similar in the way in which they reacted to success. Global attention at such young ages could easily have led to petulance and an overweening sense of self-importance. But they have all reacted with dignity and poise. . .

These three are exceptional young women who individually and collectively are worthy winners of the title New Zealanders of the Year.


It won’t make sense

December 15, 2013

This is playing to the gallery:

Labour is committed to stopping National’s asset sales programme and reserves the right to buy back assets where that makes sense, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. . .

Inventory 2 shows Labour doesn’t let maths get in the way of its rhetoric but even it must know the sums needed to buy back the shares won’t add up to wise use of public money.

It won’t make sense for the government to buy shares in any companies, let alone those in which it already owns a majority, when it would have to borrow, increase taxes or cut spending elsewhere to do so.

This is just political posturing.

Cunliffe’s making a Clayton’s promise in the knowledge that the if it makes sense provides the out he’ll need when he has to break it.


2014 going to be a cracker

December 15, 2013

Brian Gaynor thinks next year will be a cracker for the economy:

There are strong indications that it will be a once-in-a-generation year, as were 1951 and 1974 when the New Zealand economy grew by 15.6 per cent and 7.2 per cent respectively.

Economic growth is unlikely to be quite as strong as 1951 or 1974 but we now have some similar characteristics, particularly a soft commodities boom and a huge increase in the country’s terms of trade index, which made these standout years. . . .

New Zealand’s economic performance has been disappointing since the mid-1970s, particularly compared with Australia. There have been occasional bursts of heightened economic activity, mainly driven by increases in consumer debt caused by rising house prices, but there has been limited investment in the country’s productive sector.

The economy has been characterised by large net migration outflows as New Zealanders have been attracted by high-paying jobs across the Tasman.

But the economic momentum has swung dramatically over the past twelve months and transtasman migration flows could reverse as Australians are attracted by greater job opportunities in New Zealand, particularly in relation to the Christchurch rebuild. . . .

He lists several reasons the outlook is more like the boom years than those of the past 40 years:

Terms of trade: The country’s terms of trade index rose 7.5 per cent, to 1356, in September, the highest level since December 1973. Australia’s terms of trade have fallen 18 per cent this year.

Dairy: GlobalDairyTrade auction prices have appreciated 52 per cent over the past twelve months and dairy exports surged 49.1 per cent in the three months ended October 31 compared with the same three months in the previous year. Recent surveys show that farmers have significant investment intentions, an important feature of New Zealand’s strong economic performance in the 1950s.

China: It is now New Zealand’s largest export market and is expected to continue to grow by more than 7 per cent a year.

Christchurch rebuild: The inner-city rebuild programme should gather momentum when construction begins on the justice and emergency services precinct from March next year, to be followed by the health precinct in the June or September quarter. These projects, which are mainly funded by the Crown and city, should encourage private sector investment in the inner city.

Migration: The country has had strong net migration inflows in recent months and had total net migration of 17,490 for the 12 months ended October.

This figure is expected to increase steadily over the next few months, and Statistics New Zealand figures show more than 90 per cent of new arrivals settle in Auckland.

Housing: The strong migration inflow should continue to boost the housing market and housing construction, particularly in Auckland.

Government finances: The Crown’s financial deficit is falling and the Key Administration may announce tax cuts in May’s budget. However, large expenditures on the Christchurch rebuild may restrict this option.

Confidence: Business, consumer and farming confidence are all at, or near, all-time highs.

Companies: Most domestic companies have strong balance sheets and plenty of capacity to expand and invest. Rod Drury and Xero have lifted the ambitions of New Zealand companies and we now have a large number of young entrepreneurs with aggressive global aspirations.

KiwiSaver: Last but not least is KiwiSaver, which is giving us a pool of private permanent funds that can be partially invested in the domestic productive sector. KiwiSaver ought to have the same positive effect on the domestic economy as Australia’s compulsory superannuation has had on its economy.

In view of these factors the outlook for the New Zealand economy is exciting, the best it has been since the early 1970s.

The present export- and investment-led upturn could be maintained for several years – as long as dairy prices don’t collapse, the Chinese economy doesn’t go into an unexpected downturn and there isn’t an external shock like that of the mid-1970s. . .

Another threat would be a change of government.

Labour left office in 2008 forecasting a decade of deficits. National has turned that around in spite of the global financial crisis and the Christchurch earthquakes.

Policies espoused by Labour and other opposition parties show they have learned nothing from the mistakes which put New Zealand into recession before the rest of the world.

Gaynor isn’t the only one with a  positive view of the economy:

. . . Harbour Asset Management’s managing director Andrew Bascand says this year’s been a banner year for economic growth but next year’s likely to be even better.

“The outlook for 2014 is for better global economic growth – modestly better – and certainly for even stronger New Zealand economic growth,” Mr Bascand says.

“If there’s one key risk, it’s how households and businesses think of the rising interest rates environment, and a second risk is concerns around uncertainty with an election”. . . .

Reserve bank governor Graeme Wheeler has clearly signalled a rise in the official cash rate next year which will push up interest rates.

But given they are at historic lows that isn’t unexpected and it’s better to have slightly higher interest rates than let inflation get out of control.


Spot the trend

December 15, 2013

Two observations on Facebook:

Obscure political fact. No leader of the Opposition first elected to Parliament before the incumbent Prime Minister has ever beaten the elected incumbent Prime Minister in an election. Only one Leader of the Opposition elected prior to the incumbent PM has beaten that PM, and that was Helen Clark (first elected 1981) who beat Jenny Shipley (elected 1987), and Shipley never won an election as leader. The electorate doesn’t vote tired faces into the premiership.

David Cunliffe was first elected in 1999. John Key was first elected in 2002. Cunliffe is no Helen Clark, and he won’t be Prime Minister at the end of next year.

And:

Since 1949, no government in NZ has lost office campaigning for a third term except a Labour one in 1990. ‪#‎Anyoneseeingatrendhere‬?

I do see the trend here and I like it.

However, there is absolutely no room for complacency.

All signs are pointing to a very close result in next year’s election.


Sunday soapbox

December 15, 2013

Sunday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, to muse or amuse.

“Forgiving is not forgetting; its actually remembering–remembering and not using your right to hit back. Its a second chance for a new beginning. And the remembering part is particularly important. Especially if you don’t want to repeat what happened.”  Bishop Desmond Tutu


December 15 in history

December 15, 2013

37 –  Nero, Roman Emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, was born  (d. 68).

533 – Byzantine general Belisarius defeated the Vandals, commanded by King Gelimer, at the Battle of Tricamarum.

1161 – Military officers conspired against Emperor Hailingwang of the Jin Dynasty and assassinated him in a military camp near the Yangtze River front.

1167 – Sicilian Chancellor Stephen du Perche moved the royal court to Messina to prevent a rebellion.

1256 – Hulagu Khan captured and destroyed the Hashshashin stronghold at Alamut in present-day Iran as part of the Mongols offensive on Islamic southwest Asia.

1467 – Stephen III of Moldavia defeated Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, who was injured thrice, at the Battle of Baia.

1778 – American Revolutionary War: British and French fleets clashed in the Battle of St. Lucia.

1791  The United States Bill of Rights became law when ratified by the Virginia General Assembly.

1832 Gustave Eiffel, French engineer and architect (Eiffel tower), was born (d. 1923).

1863 The mountain railway from Anina to Oravita in Romania was used for the first time.

1891  James Naismith introduced the first version of basketball, with thirteen rules, a peach basket nailed to either end of his school’s gymnasium, and two teams of nine players.

1892 –  J. Paul Getty, American oil tycoon, was born (d. 1976).
1905 The Pushkin House was established in St. Petersburg to preserve the cultural heritage of Alexander Pushkin.

1906 – The London Underground‘s Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway opened.

1915 – Evacuation of Gallipolli began.

1915 – World War I: Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig replaced John French, 1st Earl of Ypres as Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force.

1930 Edna O’Brien, Irish novelist and short story writer, was born.

1933  – Donald Woods, South African journalist and anti-apartheid activist, was born.

1939 Cindy Birdsong, American singer (The Supremes), was born.

1939  Gone with the Wind received its première at Loew’s Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

1942 – Dave Clark, English musician (The Dave Clark Five), was born.

1944 The Finance Act (No. 3) abolished the Chinese poll tax, introduced in 1881, which was described by Minister of Finance Walter Nash as a ‘blot on our legislation’.

Poll tax on Chinese immigrants abolished

1951 The towering Belmont railway viaduct, which bridged a deep gully at Paparangi, northeast of Johnsonville, Wellington, built in 1885 by the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company, was demolished by Territorial Army engineers.

Belmont viaduct blown up

1955  Jens Olsen’s World Clock started by Swedish King Frederick IX and Jens Olsen’s youngest grandchild Birgit.

1965  Gemini 6A, crewed by Wally Schirra and Thomas Stafford, was launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida.

1973  John Paul Getty III, grandson of American billionaire J. Paul Getty, was found alive near Naples, Italy, after being kidnapped by an Italian gang on July 10, 1973.

1978  President Jimmy Carter announced that the United States would recognise the People’s Republic of China and cut off all relations with Taiwan.

1997 The Treaty of Bangkok was signed allowing the transformation of Southeast Asia into a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.

2000 The 3rd reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was shut down due to foreign political pressure.

2001 The Leaning Tower of Pisa reopened after 11 years and $27,000,000 to fortify it, without fixing its famous lean.

2006  First flight of the F-35 Lightning II.

2009 – Boeing’s new Boeing 787 Dreamliner made its maiden flight from Seattle, Washington.

2010 – A boat carrying 90 asylum seekers crashed into rocks off the coast of Christmas Island, killing at least 30 passengers.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

%d bloggers like this: