Word of the day

21/02/2014

Purgation – purification, purging or cleansing; the act of cleansing or exonerating one’s self of a crime, accusation, or suspicion of guilt by denying the charge on oath or by ordeal; evacuation of the bowels brought about by taking laxatives.


Rural round-up

21/02/2014

Draconian sharemilking clause to be deleted:

Federated Farmers is to delete the outdated ‘set-off’ clause from its industry standard Herd Owning Sharemilking Agreement.  This move will be welcomed by Sharemilkers and Sharemilker Employers alike.

“The set-off clause is outdated, against common law and is downright draconian,” says Tony Wilding, Chairperson of Federated Farmers Sharemilker Employers section  

“The set-off clause gave farm owners the ‘right’ to instruct their dairy company to withhold up to 75 percent of the milk payment due to a sharemilker during a dispute.  These funds are instead transferred into the farm owner’s solicitor’s Trust Account. 

“I know the set-off clause is only supposed to be used after conciliation of the dispute has failed and the dispute is in arbitration, but too often, I have heard it being misused and this is causing sheer misery. 

“Sharemilkers end up with little money to feed their family, let alone their cows, when the correct dispute resolution process hasn’t been adhered to. . .

Young herdsperson wins three times on the trot–  Yvonne O’Hara::

Samantha Hall (14), of Stirling, has won the Southern Rural Life Young Herdsperson of the Year for the third year in a row.

Jorja Robertson (13), of Wyndham, was second, after placing third last year.

Samantha won the Southern Rural Life trophy and $100, while Jorja received $50. . .

 

Honeybee disease infecting bumblebees:

Scientists in Britain say they’ve found evidence that diseases found in commercially-kept honeybees are increasingly spreading into wild populations of bumblebees.

Populations of bumblebees are in steep decline around the world.

The insect is an important part of the countryside, but over the last 50 years numbers have plummeted, the BBC reports.

Scientists from Royal Holloway at the University of London believe that a virus and a fungal parasite, usually carried by honeybees have spread to bumblebees. . .

Consultation on draft EEZ regulations underway:

The Government is seeking feedback on draft regulations for the dumping of waste and the discharge of harmful substances under the EEZ Act, Environment Minister Amy Adams announced today.

“These activities already occur within New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. They are currently regulated by Maritime New Zealand under the Maritime Transport Act 1994, but will be transferred to the Environmental Protection Authority when the new regulations come into force,” Ms Adams says.

The proposed regulations will cover discharges of harmful substances from offshore structures and from production facilities on board mineral mining ships, as well as the burial of human remains and the dumping of waste. . .

Farm accountancy puzzle solved:

A missing piece of the farm accountancy puzzle has fallen into place with the launch of Figured – an online farm financial package launched at Xerocon today.

As a former partner in a rural accounting firm, and a farmer, David Marshall felt for a long time there had to be a more efficient way of managing farm finances.

Working with farm investment company MyFarm, which is responsible for managing more than 50 farms, Marshall says he became increasingly frustrated at not having the right financial information at his fingertips.

“We were trying to communicate how well the farms were running or if there were issues looming but we seemed to be reporting different results, using different systems and getting different answers.” . . .

Xero to launch ‘Farming in the Cloud’ service mid-year:

Significant partners on board

Online accounting software company Xero has announced today that its new ‘Farming in the Cloud’ solution, which brings real-time, single ledger reporting to the farm for the first time, will be ready to go to market mid-year 2014.

The solution allows farmers and their accountants, banks and rural service companies to work together from the same set of online, real-time data, and will provide one centralised home for key accounting and farm management tools.

Key to the solution is a growing eco-system of farming software partners that are fully integrated with Xero’s beautifully simple online platform, and has the potential to be a major boost for farmers, and for the country. . .

Finalists Recognised for Maori Excellence in Farming:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) would like to congratulate the three finalists, and all entrants of the 2014 Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming award.

“It’s great to be a major sponsor of a competition that celebrates and encourages Māori farmers who are committed to pursuing new and innovative approaches,” says MPI’s Deputy Director-General Ben Dalton.

“Māori agribusiness is a major contributor to New Zealand’s primary sector, and the wider New Zealand economy. These finalists should be proud of their achievements and I’m sure they will go on to be leaders in their sector,” says Mr Dalton.

The three finalists announced at an event in Parliament last night are:

  • Putauki Trust –Himoana Farm Bay of Plenty
  • Ngati Awa Farms Ltd – Ngakauroa Farm – Bay of Plenty
  • Te Rua o Te Moko Ltd – Taranaki . . .

 


Friday’s answers

21/02/2014

Andrei posed Thursday’s questions and can claim an electronic box of stone fruit for stumping us all by leaving the answers below.


12/13

21/02/2014

12/13 in the Pew Research Centre’s science and technology quiz.


Extraordinary results

21/02/2014

The Auckland Chamber of Commerce adds to the good news:

A survey of more than 800 business’ over the last 48 hours in Auckland reveals some extraordinary results.

71% of survey respondents believe that the general business situation in New Zealand will continue to improve over the next six months, an increase from 61% last quarter. This response is also matched by 68% of respondents believing that their own personal business situation will see a direct improvement in the coming six months, another rise in confidence from the last survey in Nov 2013 which reported 63%.

“Businesses are gearing up for a greater investment of time, increased profitability and are looking ahead to improved export opportunities” Michael says “But it seems we still have a long way to go to resolve the problems around skilled staffing shortages”.

The survey also revealed:

Intentions to employ UP
Hours to be worked UP
Costs UP
Selling Prices UP
Profitability UP
Sales UP
Exports UP

Confidence begets confidence which is good for business, the people they employ and the whole economy.

However, there is concern over a shortage of skilled labour:

Securing workers with the right skills and experience is becoming increasingly difficult for business in Auckland.

Survey results across the past 12 months show a growing concern amongst business about the challenges of finding skilled staff. February 2013 saw 25% of respondents having difficulty employing specialist staff, increasing to 32% in our most recent survey.

“We need strategies to offset this issue fast, business needs to place a greater focus on training existing staff for the specific needs of their business and work hard on making sure their business is where top staff will want to stay” says Chamber Chief Executive Michael Barnett

“It also sends out a clear message to the Department of Immigration. We need to look at getting some flexibility into our Immigration policy to help bring into New Zealand skilled workers to fill these gaps. If Auckland and New Zealand are to achieve deserved economic growth there needs to be policy that actually helps deliver these much needed skills to our work force now”.

The policy to employ locals first is sensible but when there are no locals with the right skills, and attitude, it would be helpful if immigration policy was sufficiently flexible to help businesses employ the staff they need and do so quickly and easily.


COOL doesn’t have to be compulsory

21/02/2014

The pork industry is pushing for country of origin labelling:

New Zealand consumers want to know where their food comes from and NZPork believes they have a right to that information, CEO of NZPork, Owen Symmans told the Primary Production Select Committee today (this week).

“Many New Zealanders believe that as a food producing country the food they buy is grown here. They want to support local produce. Most will be surprised this is not actually the case, 49% of the pork and pork products consumed here is imported, for example. Our research tells us that people generally believe the bacon, ham or pork they are buying is local. And often the labelling, while legal, is misleading.”

Mr Symmans said that with some products, such as ham and bacon, the only ‘kiwi’ components might be the water or the “Manuka” smoke used during processing.

“The major ingredient – the meat – is imported from somewhere else such as Mexico or Canada.”

Despite being a signatory to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Agreement (FSANZ), New Zealand has not adopted the same approach to labelling as its partner, Mr Symmans said. Australia requires CoOL (country of origin labelling) for fresh products (single ingredient product).

“NZPork has recommended to the [Primary Production] Select Committee hearing submissions on the Food Bill that CoOL labelling requirements be introduced for single ingredient products under the FSANZ standard. We should not continue to ‘opt out’ of our responsibility to ensure consumers can make an informed decision about the food they are buying.

Mr Symmans said that rules also need to be amended so that the country of origin of the main ingredient of a processed (multiple ingredient) product is identified in a clear and obvious manner.

“New Zealanders have a right to know and be able to then make an informed decision when buying their food.”

The Primary Industry Select Committee is hearing submissions on the Food Bill, which is expected to be reported back to parliament this year.

People’s purchasing decisions are based on a variety of factors, one of which is where food comes from.

I almost always check the country of origin and sometimes won’t buy a single-ingredient product if it’s not obvious where it originated.

But COOL doesn’t have to be compulsory.

New Zealand producers can clearly label their goods as such and use that as a marketing tool. They could also lobby supermarkets to label single ingredient produce with its country of origin – as most do already for a lot of goods – without the need for the compliance costs involved with compulsion.

People who care will respond and those who don’t probably value another factor, such as price, more highly than country of origin anyway.


Periodic monopoly

21/02/2014

Quote of the day:

‘‘A government is a periodic monopoly that needs the threat of other entrants to get it going.’’Bill English


Does Labour want to win?

21/02/2014

Labour’s rule change over leadership selection got the party the man the unions and members preferred but he wasn’t the first choice of the majority of MPs.

The caucus was tired, stale and divided before the leadership change and David Cunliffe hasn’t been able to make a noticeable difference yet.

He’s still got only one MP who’s announced his retirement, the divisions are still obvious and the caucus still doesn’t look like a government in waiting.

Cunliffe needed to make a strong start to the year and he didn’t.

He made a mess of his first big announcement by fudging the figures on the baby bribe and his caucus was noticeable by its absence in the aftermath of that.

This week, while he was getting attention for all the wrong reasons for musing on conspiracy theories upsetting a photographer and trying to downplay his wealth this week, one of the two men who contested the leadership against him, Shane Jones, was getting attention for the right reasons with his allegations about supermarket skullduggery.

The Commerce Commission has launched a formal investigation into the allegations.

. . . The investigation will involve seeking a wide range of information from a variety of sources, including organisations from all areas of the supermarket sector. The investigation is expected to take a number of months.

The Commission will not be making any further comment on this active investigation.

Anyone who has information relevant to the allegations is encouraged to contact us on 0800 943 600. They can request that the Commission keep their identity and/or the information provided confidential. The Commission will not disclose the identity and/or information unless consent is given or the Commission is required to by law. If confidentiality is a concern then it should be raised when first contact is made with the Commission.

The election could well be over by the time the investigation is finished but that doesn’t matter.

Raising the issue wasn’t the end for Jones but the means for him to promote himself and provide a positive contrast to the leader he’ll be hoping to replace.

It would be a desperate act to depose Cunliffe in the next few months and go into the election with the fourth leader since the party’s big defeat in 2011.

But Cunliffe couldn’t survive another loss and maybe that’s why it looks like Labour doesn’t want to win.

Party members and the unions do.

But the caucus looks like it neither wants to win nor is capable of winning.

And maybe that’s the plan – lose the election, and if Cunliffe doesn’t jump he would be pushed by the vote of confidence the party rules require after the election.

That won’t guarantee caucus get the leader they want, because the unions and members will be able to vote them again.

But maybe they’ll be satisfied by ABC – Anyone But Cunliffe.


February 21 in history

21/02/2014

362 – Athanasius returned to Alexandria.

1245 Thomas, the first known Bishop of Finland, resigned after confessing to torture and forgery.

1440 The Prussian Confederation was formed.

1543 Battle of Wayna Daga – A combined army of Ethiopian and Portuguese troops defeats a Muslim army led by Ahmed Gragn.

1613 Mikhail I was elected unanimously as Tsar, beginning the Romanov dynasty of Imperial Russia.

1743 The premiere of George Frideric Handel‘s oratorio “Samson” took place in London.

1804  The first self-propelling steam locomotive made its outing at the Pen-y-Darren Ironworks in Wales.

1842 John Greenough was granted the first U.S.A. patent for the sewing machine.

1848 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published the Communist Manifesto.

1875 Jeanne Calment, French supercentenarian and longest-lived human on record, was born (d. 1997).

1879 An explosion in a Kaitangata coal mine killed 34 men.

Kaitangata mining disaster

1885 The newly completed Washington Monument was dedicated.

1903 Anaïs Nin, French writer, was born (d. 1977).

1907  W. H. Auden, English poet, was born  (d. 1973).

1910 Douglas Bader, British pilot, was born (d. 1982).

1913  Ioannina was incorporated into the Greek state after the Balkan Wars.

1916 Battle of Verdun started.

1918 The last Carolina parakeet died in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo.

1919 Kurt Eisner, German socialist, was assassinated.

1921 Constituent Assembly of the Democratic Republic of Georgia adopts the country’s first constitution.

1924 Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbambwe, was born.

1925 The New Yorker published its first issue.

1927 Erma Bombeck, American humorist, was born  (d. 1996).

1927 Hubert de Givenchy, French fashion designer, was born.

1933  – Nina Simone, American singer, was born (d. 2003).

1935  Mark McManus, Scottish actor, was born  (d. 1994).

1937  Initial flight of the first successful flying car, Waldo Waterman’s Arrowbile.

1937 – The League of Nations banned foreign national “volunteers” in the Spanish Civil War.

1945 Kamikaze planes sank the escort carrier Bismarck Sea and damaged the Saratoga.

1947 Edwin Land demonstrated the first “instant camera,” the Polaroid Land Camera, to a meeting of the Optical Society of America.

1952 The British government, under Winston Churchill, abolished identity cards in the UK to “set the people free”.

1952 In Dhaka, East Pakistan (present Bangladesh) police opened fire on a procession of students that was demanding the establishment of Bengali as the official language, killing four people and starting a country-wide protest which led to the recognition of Bengali as one of the national languages of Pakistan. The day was later declared as “International Mother Language Day” by UNESCO.

1953  Francis Crick and James D. Watson discover the structure of the DNA molecule.

1958 The Peace symbol was designed and completed by Gerald Holtom, commissioned by Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, in protest against the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment.

1960 Cuban leader Fidel Castro nationalised all businesses in Cuba.

1965 Malcolm X was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam.

1970 A mid-air bomb explosion in  Swissair Flight 330 and subsequent crash killed 38 passengers and nine crew members near Zürich.

1971 The Convention on Psychotropic Substances was signed at Vienna.

1972 President Richard Nixon visited the People’s Republic of China to normalise Sino-American relations.

1972 The Soviet unmanned spaceship Luna 20 landed on the Moon.

1973  Israeli fighter aircraft shot down Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 jet killing 108.

1974 The last Israeli soldiers left the west bank of the Suez Canal pursuant to a truce with Egypt.

1975 Watergate scandal: Former United States Attorney General John N. Mitchell and former White House aides H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman were sentenced to prison.

1986 Charlotte Church, Welsh singer, was born.

1995 Steve Fossett landed in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada becoming the first person to make a solo flight across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon.

2004 – The first European political party organisation, the European Greens, was established in Rome.

2007 Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi resigned from office. His resignation was rejected by the President Giorgio Napolitano.

2013 – Two bomb blasts in Hyderabad, India, killed at least 17 people and injured more than 100 others.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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