Word of the day

February 13, 2014

Phatic – denoting or relating to language used for general purposes of social interaction, rather than to convey information or ask question; of, relating to, or being speech used to share feelings or to establish a mood of sociability rather than to communicate information or ideas.


Rural round-up

February 13, 2014

Farming confidence bodes well for Southern Field Days – Diane Bishop:

Southern Field Days is the place to be.

That’s according to 789 exhibitors who will showcase their wares at the South Island’s largest rural expo – the Southern Field Days – which starts at Waimumu near Gore today and continues tomorrow and Friday.

Schouten Machines managing director Marcel van Hazendonk said it was his second time exhibiting at the field days.

“You’ve got to be here. It’s important for exhibitors because if you’re not here you could be missing out on business,” Mr van Hazendonk said.

Southern Field Days chairman Mark Dillon expected there would be a “mad rush” this morning as exhibitors completed their sites in readiness for the crowds. “As long as the weather stays like this it will be fantastic,” he said. . .

Not much in farming qualifies as natural – Doug Edmeades:

The word “natural” and its derivatives such as “nature’s way”, “nature’s own”, “grown naturally”, a “product of nature” and “naturally organic” are tossed into product advertising like minties at a lolly scramble.

They convey a feeling that something, a product or a process, is honest and true, as in the way Mother Nature intended, and not artificial or false, in the sense of being man- made.

The implication is always that nature’s way is better than man’s way or more specifically, mankind has screwed nature and we must now bow our heads in penitential shame.

I thought it was time to play with this idea. Is our clover-based pastoral system natural? . . .

LIC’s half-year profit dips – Alan Williams:

Sales were higher but costs of a rebuild of the database and technology platform bit into LIC’s half-year profits.

The dairy genetics company reported today an after-tax profit of $26.9 million for the six months ended November 30 on sales of $135m.

In the same period a year earlier the profit was $30m on sales of $131.2m. Earnings per investment share slipped to 91.3c from $1.01.

High milk prices and stable weather had encouraged farmers to increase investment in a range of information management tools, chairman Murray King said. . . .

 

Solid Energy farm blocks for sale – Lauren Hayes:

More than 2000 hectares of farmland has been put on the market in Eastern Southland.

The land is owned by Solid Energy and is being sold, as one of the largest offerings of New Zealand dairy land, through PGG Wrightson Real Estate.

PGG Wrightson Real Estate general manager Peter Newbold said the block was made up of nine farms, three of which were dairy farms and six of which could be dairy support properties or dairy conversions. . .

 

Progress For Wool:

Over 100 New Zealand wool industry members gathered in late January to listen to international wool leaders discuss the significant progress being made on a global scale by both the Campaign for Wool and International Wool and Textile Organisation (IWTO).

Peter Ackroyd the President of the International Wool and Textile Organisation (IWTO) and Chief Operating Officer of the Campaign for Wool and Ian Hartley, the Chief Executive of the British Wool Marketing Board shared the stage.

Ackroyd shared the background and benefits of the International Wool and Textile Organisation including internationally recognised procedures which are fundamental to trade and manufacturing, coordinated environmental standards, and standardising environmental “foot printing”. . .

February 2014 – Rabobank Agribusiness Monthly & Rural Economics Monthly:

The Rabobank Agribusiness Monthly provides timely information and analysis on agricultural conditions, commodity price updates and commentary on the latest sectoral trends and developments. In conjunction, the Rural Economics Monthly provides a useful overview of the key macro developments in the local and global economies while also covering specific economic developments relevant to New Zealand and Australian agricultural sectors.

Key highlights
Agribusiness Monthly

• Beef – Strong Chinese demand drives growth in beef exports

• Dairy – Chinese supply issues to drive commodity markets in 2014

• Other costs – Baltic Dry Index weak as global economy takes wrong turn

• Fertilizer – All eyes on demand fundamentals in 2014

• Climate – Mostly normal outlook for New Zealand

• Currency – New Zealand dollar supported by solid economic growth . . .

The full report is here.

Nitrogen management made easy by new farming app:

A next-generation product for nitrogen management on-farm will be launched by the innovative Kiwi start-up company, Regen, at the Southern Field Days in Waimumu beginning this Wednesday the12th of February.

Regen, who successfully launched “ReGen Effluent” are now bringing to market “ReGen Nitrogen” – a powerful yet simple product that assists farmers make real-time decisions about fertiliser application.

“ReGen Nitrogen uses on-farm data such as climate and soil information. It calculates the expected response from nitrogen application on any given day and advises the farmer for or against application and the reasons why. The product calculates the kilograms of dry matter likely to be achieved from each kilogram of nitrogen, given the prevailing climate and soil conditions. It also calculates how many cents per kilogram of dry matter that response rate would equate to,” says Bridgit Hawkins, Chief Executive Officer & Director at Regen. . . .


Thursday’s quiz

February 13, 2014

1. Who said: Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.?

2.  What was the film in which Shirley Temple sang The Good Ship Lollypop?

3.  What do uncopyrightable and subdermatoglyphic have in common?

4. What’s the longest English word with a single vowel?

5. What’s the last book you read?


Case for FTAs

February 13, 2014

Trade Minister Tim Groser puts the case for Free Trade Agreements:

Over the last 30-40 years, NZ has suffered grievously, perhaps more than any other developed economy, from lack of trading opportunities. This is the consequence of massive protectionism and subsidies on the products where we are internationally competitive.

This was not an issue for NZ until 1973. That was the year when our dominant market, the UK, which had been completely open to us, joined the then EEC. From that date, protectionism became a huge constraint on our growth and incomes. I have no doubt this is one major reason why NZ was still the 6th richest country in the world in 1975 but then started to slip sideways in the last quarter of the 20th Century. As a consequence, Trade Policy has been a very large part of any sensible NZ economic policy over the past decades. And frankly, to anticipate what I am going to say, we did not need then (or need now) any econometric model to tell any responsible NZ Government that they needed to negotiate new trade agreements to provide our people with opportunities and space to compete.

A simple way of looking at it is that NZ tends to sell what we do best to middle income and high-middle income consumers. In the past, by and large, they lived only in Europe and North America and there we faced historically huge barriers and massive unfair subsidisation, until successful trade negotiations in the last GATT Round, the Uruguay Round, started to chip away at these trade barriers. But NZ is no longer totally dependent on what happens in Europe and North America and thus access to their middle class customers. Today, the middle class of Asia is emerging. It is estimated today around 500 million and as soon as 2030 will be some 3.5 billion. This is simply a phenomenal opportunity and what is driving NZ Trade Policy.

But economic opportunity is one thing. As an exporter you still need access to those consumers and this is about trade agreements.

To the New Zealanders present, I will put it bluntly. We will never persuade certain people who are trying continually to foment opposition to NZ’s participation in these agreements in spite of New Zealand’s demonstrable need for trade opportunities and a fairer deal in world trade. They have been opposed to the GATT and WTO. They opposed the NZ/Singapore FTA, the origin of both TPP and the AANZFTA Agreement which is merging the contiguous FTAs of Australia/NZ with the ten countries of ASEAN. Some of them opposed the recent deal with Taiwan and most of all – because it involves the United States – they are opposed to TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. When they wake up and realise there is another TPP-like negotiation going on – RCEP, or Regional Closer Economic Partnership Agreement which involves 16 countries including crucially China – I am sure they will be opposed to that too.

I am not going to talk about them directly, because they are not my concern. In fact, I can go further: I think they feel the same way about us – we are not their concern either. I don’t believe for a minute that either I, as Trade Minister, or the National-led Government of which I am a part, is their real audience. They are trying to influence other people, and other political constituencies. They are hoping that they would, if given the political opportunity, take NZ in a different direction on trade, when historically NZ has had a strong and highly successful bipartisan approach to trade for at least three decades.

It is not that we, and people with the same pro-trade views, have not thought closely about the issues. Start, not with models, which try to look forward, but with empirical work done on the link between open trade policies and growth, which looks backward to measure practical results.

The Gains from Trade: Empirical Work

The most comprehensive survey of hundreds of scholarly articles over the last decade or two was put together in 2011 in a collective study by the world’s pre-eminent international economic institutions – the OECD, the World Bank, the WTO, the ILO, UNCTAD. It was called ‘Policy Priorities for International Trade and Jobs’.

I only have time to give you their overall conclusion. Their conclusion is dripping in irony, which is rare for such organisations:

“Despite all the debate about whether openness [on trade] contributes to growth, if the issue were truly one warranting nothing but agnosticism, we should expect at least some of the estimates to be negative…The uniformly positive estimates suggest that the relevant terms of the debate by now should be about the size of the positive influence of openness on growth….rather than about whether increased levels of trade relative to GDP have a positive effect on productivity and growth”.
Even that will not stop some outlier academic coming out with a different view. But such views are extreme views. The overwhelming majority of economists support open trade policies. As the OECD caustically said, the debate should be only about the size of the positive gains from trade. . .

This is a relatively small extract from a long speech which concludes:

. . . Trade is vital to jobs, to a growing economy that can provide New Zealanders with a range of good choices. NZ is a country which has suffered grievously from the sovereign right of other countries to cut us out of their markets, to subsidise relentlessly their companies and competitive sectors not just in their domestic markets but in other markets through export subsidies, and to refuse to recognise our technical or quarantine standards as legitimate for sale to their consumers.

Protectionism has been a disaster for NZ over the past 30-40 years. Thanks in part to these pretty well designed trade agreements I am very optimistic about this country’s long term future. We are in a much better space today and I see every reason to believe it will get better still.

Tariffs and other protectionist measures restrict choice, add costs for consumers and taxpayers, reward inefficiency and encourage corruption.

Free trade is fair trade and without it New Zealand’s economy would be stuffed.


The heart of the issue

February 13, 2014

Answer of the day:

Hon PAULA BENNETT: For me this gets to the heart of the actual issue. So the member thinks that it is only the Government’s throwing money around and getting into every household and giving them 60 bucks a week for a newborn baby that is going to make the difference. I actually think it is not about just the Government; it is about the Government, community, and parents themselves actually putting their children first in many instances. It is about what is happening in the streets. It is about what organisations like the Salvation Army do. So I do not think it is a D for the Government. In fact, what the Salvation Army did say was that “as a national community,”— and I quote—“we have made credible and worthwhile social progress. It is important to acknowledge and celebrate this because, for the most part, it is intentional and hard won. The Government should be applauded for its contribution to this progress.” Paula Bennett

She was responding to a question on child poverty and she’s right.

Children are living in poverty for several reasons and there is no single or simple solution.

The government is helping with no assistance from the opposition who have resisted every measure to reform welfare which is one of the most effective ways to lift families from poverty.

However, government can’t replace parents who don’t put children first.

But it can make matters worse as Lindsay Mitchell observes on similarities between Maori and African American families on welfare:

. . . Both ethnicities had large families. So payments per child could mount up. The sums may have seemed relatively small to middle class families, but for people coming from a paltry income base – Maori from subsistence and African Americans from the abiding legacy of slavery – the sums were meaningful.

From there it is all too easy to understand how the male of these two cultures became increasingly dispensable. The state would provide a steady and guaranteed income if he disappeared. His absence might sometimes be  ‘manufactured’  but in the final analysis, his financial utility was deeply degraded. He had a heavy weight competitor in the government.

(And still some politicians want to continue and even increase these types of ‘needy’ children policies ignoring the damage that visits on the family structure which best supports those kids financially and emotionally.)

One of the reasons for children in poverty is the breakdown of families and the replacement of a wage earner by a benefit.

The solution to that isn’t more welfare.


Greens no longer so clean

February 13, 2014

The Dotcom reverse Midas touch has struck again – taking the lustre off the Green Party’s reputation for being not just green but clean:

It is bad enough that the Greens are naive enough to sign up to the fan club which accords Kim Dotcom the folk hero status he clearly craves, but scarcely deserves as some modern-day Robin Hood of cyberspace.

Much worse, however, is that it now turns out that party is blithely willing to play politics with New Zealand’s courts, the country’s extradition laws and its extradition treaty with the United States.

Were John Key to allow some right-wing businessman facing extradition to stay in New Zealand in exchange for him abandoning his plans to establish a political party which might drain votes off National, then the Greens would be climbing on their high horses at break-neck speed and leading the charge in slamming the Prime Minister in no uncertain terms. And rightly so.

Yet the Greens seem to be so blinded by Dotcom’s aura that they seem to see nothing wrong with Russel Norman talking to Dotcom about the risks of the latter’s yet-to-be-launched Internet Party wasting centre-left votes, only for the party’s co-leader to subsequently declare that the Greens will probably fight Dotcom’s extradition.

It is all very murky and hypocritical – at best.

By appearing to countenance such a massive conflict of interest through political interference in Dotcom’s potential ejection from New Zealand, Norman has instantly disqualified his party from having any ministerial posts in a coalition with Labour which involve responsibility for the extradition process.

In fact, Norman has probably disqualified his party from having any role in the Justice portfolio full stop. . .

This isn’t the behaviour of anyone wanting to maintain New Zealand’s first place in Transparency International’s corruption index nor is it the actions of a party trying to look like a viable partner in a government in waiting.

It is the case that many people have enjoyed Dotcom’s irreverence whereby he has been the political equivalent of a banana skin upon which the Prime Minister has slipped and fallen.

Amidst all the fun, a lot of people seem to have forgotten Dotcom faces extremely serious allegations in the United States that he has made millions out of copyright theft. . .

It’s the old,  the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Dotcom shares the Green’s dislike of John Key and National.

Norman saw a potential ally because of that but appears to be blind to the danger of dirtying himself and his party with what looks like a decidedly dodgy deal.


February 13 in history

February 13, 2014

711 BC  Jimmu, Japanese emperor, was born (d. 585 DC).

1322 – The central tower of Ely Cathedral fell on the night of 12th-13th.

1462 – The Treaty of Westminster was finalised between Edward IV of England and the Scottish Lord of the Isles.

1503 Disfida di Barletta challenge between 13 Italian and 13 French knights near Barletta.

1542 – Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VII , was executed for adultery.

1575 Henry III of France was crowned at Rheims and married Louise de Lorraine-Vaudémont on the same day.

1633 Galileo Galilei arrived in Rome for his trial before the Inquisition.

1668 Spain recognised Portugal as an independent nation.

1689 William and Mary were proclaimed co-rulers of England.

1692 Massacre of Glencoe: About 78 Macdonalds at were killed early in the morning for not promptly pledging allegiance to the new king, William of Orange.

1728 John Hunter, Scottish surgeon, was born (d. 1793).

1743 Joseph Banks, English botanist and naturalist, was born (d. 1820).

1815 The Cambridge Union Society was founded.

1835 Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, was born ( d 1908).

1849 Lord Randolph Churchill, British statesman, was born (d. 1895).

1869 A Ngati Maniapoto war party led by Wetere Te Rerenga attacked Pukearuhe. They killed  Lieutenant Gascoigne, his wife and three children and a Wesleyan missionary John Whiteley.

Killings at Pukearuhe

1880 Work began on the covering of the Zenne, burying Brussels’s primary river and creating the modern central boulevards.

1880 – Thomas Edison observed the Edison effect.

1881 The feminist newspaper La Citoyenne was first published in Paris by the activist Hubertine Auclert.

1891 Kate Roberts, Welsh nationalist and writer, was born (d. 1985).

1894 Auguste and Louis Lumière patented the Cinematographe, a combination movie camera and projector.

1914 The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers was established to protect the copyrighted musical compositions of its members.

1920 The Negro National League was formed.

1934 The Soviet steamship Cheliuskin sank in the Arctic Ocean.

1942 Peter Tork, American musician and actor (The Monkees), was born.

1944 Jerry Springer, American television host, was born.

1945 The siege of Budapest concluded with the unconditional surrender of German and Hungarian forces to the Red Army.

1945 World War II: Royal Air Force bombers were dispatched to Dresden to attack the city with a massive aerial bombardment.

1950 Peter Gabriel, English musician (Genesis), composer and humanitarian, was born.

1955 Israel obtained 4 of the 7 Dead Sea scrolls.

1960 With the success of a nuclear test codenamed “Gerboise Bleue“, France became the fourth country to possess nuclear weapons.

1960 Black college students staged the first of the Nashville sit-ins at three lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee.

1967 American researchers discovered the Madrid Codices by Leonardo da Vinci in the National Library of Spain.

1970 Black Sabbath, arguably the first heavy metal album, was released.

1978 Hilton bombing: a bomb exploded in a refuse truck outside the Hilton Hotel in Sydney, killing two refuse collectors and a policeman.

1979 An intense windstorm struck western Washington and sank a 1/2-mile-long section of the Hood Canal Bridge.

1982  Río Negro massacre in Guatemala.

1981 A series of sewer explosions destroyed more than two miles of streets in Louisville, Kentucky.

1984 Konstantin Chernenko succeeded the late Yuri Andropov as general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

1990 German reunification: An agreement was reached on a two-stage plan to reunite Germany.

1991 Gulf War: Two laser-guided “smart bombs” destroyed the Amiriyah shelter in Baghdad.

2000 The last original “Peanuts” comic strip appeared in newspapers one day after Charles M. Schulz died.

Peanuts gang.png

2001 An earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter Scale hit El Salvador, killing at least 400.

2004 The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced the discovery of the universe’s largest known diamond white dwarf star BPM 37093. Astronomers named this star “Lucy” after The Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”.

2008 Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made an historic apology to the Indigenous Australians and the Stolen Generations.

2011 – For the first time in more than 100 years the Umatilla, an American Indian tribe, were able to hunt and harvest a bison just outside Yellowstone National Park, restoring a centuries-old tradition guaranteed by a treaty signed in 1855.

2012 – The European Space Agency (ESA) conducted the first launch of the European Vega rocket from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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