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.


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