Word of the day

March 5, 2014

Tyromancy – divination involving observation of cheese as it coagulates.


Searching for candidates

March 5, 2014

One of the good points of MMP is that it ought to make it easier to find candidates to stand in electorates they have little if any hope of winning.

When it’s the party vote that counts, maximising that is more important than winning a seat and the candidate who does well campaigning in tiger territory has a better chance of entering parliament on the party list.

That’s the theory but it doesn’t seem to be helping Labour in practice:

The Labour Party is still without a candidate for the Rangitata electorate for this year’s general election.

A party spokesman said it had extended the deadline for another month after it did not receive any applications before the February 28 cut-off date.

Julian Blanchard stood unsuccessfully against incumbent Jo Goodhew of the National Party in 2008 and 2011, but has said he has no intention of standing this year.

Mrs Goodhew won by 8112 votes in 2008 and 6537 votes in 2011. . . .

Labour shouldn’t take any comfort for the drop in her majority.

Local support for Allan Hubbard in the face of SFO investigations, which was beyond the MP’s control, accounts for that.

So much for David Cunliffe’s claim that Rangitata was winnable for Labour.

That the party opened nominations without a likely candidate doesn’t say much for its organisational ability and problems with that are showing in Invercargill where they still don’t have a candidate either.

Lesley Soper was the only one nominated but the party re-opened nominations when sitting  National’s MP Eric Roy announced his retirement.

Michael Gibson is now contesting the Labour nomination against Soper  but the party has yet to announce which of the two it will be.

Whoever, it is, won’t find it easy to challenge National’s candidate, Sarah Dowie. While Labour’s still sorting out who will run, she has begun her campaign.

She was selected on Friday evening and hit the ground running  or more literally walking – spending a good part of the weekend competing in the Relay for Life.

Given Labour’s dislike of Soper and its policy to have an equal number of men and  women MPs, neither she nor Gibson can expect the reward of a list place for the work they do in the electorate.


Can’t run themselves, can’t run the country

March 5, 2014

Labour’s bad week has got worse.

Labour has confirmed that documents on its ICT strategy accidentally sent to the Government came from David Cunliffe’s office, not Clare Curran’s as widely reported yesterday.

Yesterday Curran, the Dunedin South MP, supplied Parliamentary media with copies of an email saying they had been accidentally sent from her office to that of Communications Minister Amy Adams.

The document contained a large number of policy ideas as well as speech notes signalling plans to announce free individual devices for pupils in low decile schools.

However late last night Labour’s chief press secretary Simon Cunliffe confirmed that the email sent in error actually came not from Curran’s office, but from that of the Labour leader.

While Simon Cunliffe would not say who the particular staffer was, Fairfax has been told it came from Rob Egan, a former communications manager for the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. . .

Was this a deliberate and misguided attempt to take the heat of Cunliffe over the untrustworthy trust donations debacle at the expense of the not-universally popular Curran?

Why did Curran say her office was responsible when it wasn’t?

Whatever the answer to those questions is, this is another example of Labour’s inability to run itself which shows it’s far from ready to run the country.


Rural round-up

March 5, 2014

Good news keeps on coming for New Zealand dairy farmers with record prices and production figures – Jeff Smith:

Record production and milk prices bode well for confidence in dairying areas and will overcome some of the problems in areas affected by dry conditions.

Rural communities across the country will be celebrating record milk production as well as an increase in Fonterra’s forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the 2013/14 season by 35 cents to a record level of $8.65 per kilogram of milksolids.

“Milk production across the country is looking great for most areas, with Bay of Plenty in particular up nine percent on the drought reduced production in 2012-13. Production in Canterbury is also seven percent up on last year, but some of this extra milk is from more cows being milked,” says DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle. . .

Kansas farm boys put ag in national spotlight with parody videos – Karoline Rose :

“We are seriously just normal guys,” said Greg Peterson, the oldest of the three “Peterson brothers.” The Kansas farm boys have put agriculture in the national spotlight by producing and starring in farming parody videos of top music hits.

Peterson said the boys think it is “hilarious” that fellow agriculturalists are treating them like celebrities. “We are just down-to-earth Kansas farm kids,” he said.

It all started June of 2012, when “I’m Farming and I Grow it” hit YouTube.com. Greg, an agricultural communications major at Kansas State said, “Professors were always challenging us to find new ways to advocate for agriculture. I was browsing YouTube one day and noticed that the most popular YouTube videos were music videos. At that point I decided I wanted to make a farming music video with my brothers.” After hearing “I’m Sexy and I Know it,” Greg jokingly changed it to “I’m Farming and I Grow it.” The idea caught fire and after writing the song, he took it home to his brothers and they filmed their first humorous mock video. . . .

Ballance signals CEO’s retirement plans:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Chairman David Peacocke has announced that Larry Bilodeau will be retiring as Chief Executive of the co-operative at the end of September. His retirement will end 17 years with the co-operative, 14 of them as Chief Executive.

Mr Peacocke said that under Mr Bilodeau’s leadership Ballance had evolved from a fertiliser business to a co-operative covering the full spectrum of farm nutrient requirements.

“Larry has always ensured our co-operative has stayed one step ahead of our shareholders’ and customers’ needs. He developed and led our strategy and ensured we earned our place as a trusted name in complete farm nutrient management. That trust is reflected in our consistent financial performance.” . . .

Comvita looks to new manuka types:

Honey and natural health products company Comvita expects plantings of manuka to make a significant contribution to increasing the supply of the sought-after honey.

The company, which produces and markets manuka honey for medicinal as well as culinary use, has been running trials of new varieties of the tree, with the aim of establishing plantations to supplement naturally growing stands.

Gathering manuka honey.

Gathering manuka honey.                                                                                                                     Photo: PHOTO NZ

Chief executive Brett Hewlett says crosses of indigenous varieties and special varieties are making progress.

“We’ve got some 25 different planting programmes and trials around the country where we’re studying the behaviour of these unique varieties. . .

Hamilton-based SummerGlow Apiaries – what you need to know about medical grade manuka honey:

TE KOWHAI’S SummerGlow Apiaries believe a recent UK television show has done a great job in showing consumers the difference between medical grade manuka honey and the honeys you eat.

Food Unwrapped presenter Jimmy Doherty recently investigated whether manuka honey has any medicinal properties.

He found that while all honey – even that which you buy in the supermarket – could have benefits, only medical grade manuka honey should be used to treat wounds, cuts, scratches, burns and skin ulcers as it has a naturally present activity not found in other honeys. . .

te Pā strikes again: Gold Medal at Royal Easter Wine Show:

Wairau Bar based vineyard, te Pā, has been awarded again for its 2013 Sauvignon Blanc with a Gold Medal win at the 2014 Royal Easter Show Wine Awards, racking up a double Gold record in just four months.

The Royal Easter Wine Show win follows up te Pā’s almost perfect score in the Air New Zealand Wine Awards in November, where the Sauvignon Blanc was awarded 19 points out of a possible 20.

Winemaker at te Pā Liam McElhinney says of the win: “The 2013 Sauvignon Blanc offers a rich, full and honest taste, which is due in part to the fact that we source our grapes from a single site. Because of te Pā’s unique position on the Wairau Bar, the soil and climate creates the ideal conditions for the highest quality wine. We create limited volume because we’re about quality and perfection – and this second Gold nod in just a few months shows that critics and consumers love what we are doing.” . . .


Dutch trio take top cheese awards

March 5, 2014

 Dutch influences have made their mark on New Zealand cheese, with three supreme awards at the 2014 NZ Champions of Cheese Awards directly related to a Dutch heritage.

A Dutch-style cheese made in Akaroa – Aged Gouda by Barrys Bay Traditional Cheese, has won the coveted Countdown Champion of Champions Award for large cheese producers.

Another Dutch-style cheese – Very Old Edam produced by Mahoe Farmhouse Cheese has won the Cuisine Champion Artisan Cheese Award for smaller producers for the third year running.

Completing the Dutch trio is Jeanne Van Kuyk of Aroha Organic Goat Cheese who won the Milk Test NZ Champion Cheesemaker Award. Her company also took out the Tuatara Brewing Champion Goat Cheese Award for its Aroha Raw Milk Rich Plain cheese. Emigrating from Holland, Van Kuyk now makes award-winning organic, specialty cheese from her own herd of goats on the family’s rural Waikato farm.

Over 430 New Zealand specialty cheeses were entered in this year’s competition, with winners announced at a gala dinner and awards ceremony at The Langham, Auckland on Tuesday 4 March.

Twenty eight of New Zealand’s most experienced cheese connoisseurs made up the expert judging panel. They were led by one of Australasia’s most experienced international cheese judges and renowned cheese educationalist, Russell Smith.

“New Zealand cheese ranks with the best in the world, with certain styles indisputably world-class,” Smith said
“The diversity of flavour profiles, the quality of cheese making and high presentation of the majority of cheese was fantastic. It’s incredibly encouraging to see the bar being raised each year.

Each cheese was examined by a technical and an aesthetic judge as a duo, and strictly graded to pre-determined gold, silver and bronze standards.

This year saw a higher percentage of gold medals being awarded, which attests to the increasingly high quality of cheese being made in New Zealand and exhibited this year, Smith said.

Barrys Bay Traditional Cheese, which produces traditional hand-crafted cheese including cheddar, gouda and maasdam, is celebrating its first Champion of Champions title.

Smith described Barrys Bay Traditional Cheeses’ Aged Gouda as beautifully presented with a superb texture and tropical fruit flavours. “This is a great example of this style of cheese and was the popular choice of the judging panel,” he said.

Kerikeri-based family business, Mahoe Farmhouse Cheese, has pulled off an impressive hat trick by winning the Cuisine Champion Artisan Cheese Award for the third year running.

Mahoe’s Very Old Edam was described by Smith as a superbly flavoursome cheese. “This cheese is so good that you don’t want to put anything else in your mouth for some time.”

Iconic Kiwi cheese brand Kapiti was also outstanding in their year’s NZ Champions of Cheese Awards. Kapiti cheeses scooped up more Champion awards than any other brand, taking home four major trophies. Kapiti Kikorangi once again proved New Zealanders’ affection towards blue cheese, claiming the New World Champion Favourite Cheese Award (voted for by the public) for the third year running.

“That our shoppers have once again chosen Kapiti Kikorangi must surely make this fine blue cheese a new New Zealand icon!,” Foodstuffs Delicatessen Sales & Operations Manager, Anthony Joseph, said.

New cheese company Dairyworks has marked its introduction to the awards with a win for its Dairyworks Kids Range in the Caspak Champion Cheese Packaging Award.

Smith said Dairyworks has done great job of encouraging kids to eat more cheese with its kids range. The use of story-telling and fun characters is a clever way to engage with young Kiwis. Judges noted the pack design is strong and production is consistent across every print process. . .

Delicious as these cheeses no doubt are, my champion is Whitestone Cheese, which has many awards to its credit, though it wasn’t among the winners this year.


Milk price down 4%

March 5, 2014

What goes up can also go down and the price index dropped 4% in this morning’s GlobalDairyTrade auction.

 

gdt change

 

gdt 10 yrs

 

The price of anhydrous milk fat fell 3.5%; butter increased 3.9%; butter milk powder dropped 5.8%; cheddar increased .7%; milk protein concentrated dropped 3.3%; rennet casein increased 2.9%; skim milk powder dropped 3.9% and whole milk powder fell 5.7%.

gdt 4.3.14

 

 

 

 

 

 


The measuring class

March 5, 2014

Finance Minister Bill English points out the difference between National and Labour in yesterday’s finance review debate:

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Mr Chairman—

Hon Damien O’Connor: What can we trust?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, it is interesting to hear the interjection from the Labour side asking the question: “What can we trust?”, because I can tell you whom those members cannot trust, and that is their leader with his trust. That is the answer to the question. Damien O’Connor asked, today of all days: “What can you trust?” The answer, if you are a Labour member who voted against David Cunliffe, as most of them did, is that they cannot trust their leader with his trust. This is the leader who says: “I’m going to pay back the money to the people, whom I cannot identify, who gave it to me.” So that is what is going to happen.

David Cunliffe’s contribution to the economic debate today is: “People gave me money confidentially to a trust so I could avoid declaring it on the pecuniary interests register. And now that I’ve said I’m going to pay it back, I’m going to pay it back to people whose names I don’t know.” His own members of his own caucus do not believe that. Of course, the real shame of all this is that many New Zealanders who used to rely on the Labour Party to protect and advance their interests, including those who show they are on below 60 percent of the median wage, now find that the Labour Party is enmeshed in a tangle of its own making over whether its own leader is trying to get around the pecuniary interests of MPs. And who is left? Who is left to advance the interests of the lowest-paid New Zealanders? The John Key – led, National-led Government. That is who. We spend more time talking about the most vulnerable and those on the lowest incomes, because we are the Government, which last week, working with aspirational, low-income New Zealanders, got 1,200 of them off a welfare benefit and into a job. And if there is one thing Labour does not like, it is people getting off welfare and into work, because they might become ungrateful. They might become more interested in lower taxes than in higher benefits. Is that not a risk? Those people might start saying: “We want decent education for our kids because we understand the power of work.”, whereas Labour would rather they stayed on welfare and accepted mediocre education, because if you are disadvantaged, you cannot expect to learn. And that is another big difference. The National Party believes that the point of a public education system is precisely to overcome disadvantage. The Labour Party believes that the point of a public education system is to make sure that those who are disadvantaged do not learn. Because you cannot teach them. They are beyond hope. They do not deserve aspiration. They cannot learn. And then you can rely on them voting Labour, if that is their situation. Well, the evidence is that more and more of the people who used to vote Labour when Labour was a working-class party now do not believe that Labour can advance their interests. In the old days Labour was a working-class party; now it represents the measuring class.

Hon John Banks: Who?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The measuring class—people with tertiary education who spend all their time telling us how much misery there is in our community. Labour knows even less than ever about what to do about it. Who is doing something about it? The National Party. We are not sitting around spending for ever arguing over measuring the misery; we are trying to break the patterns that locked it in. That is what is behind the whole-of-Government approach to this financial review. It is a National Government focused on getting results and working with people who have got hope and aspiration, and this year we are going to get to argue with a party that believes that none of those things can be achieved because people are too disadvantaged to be able to get ahead. We do not write them off; we work with their aspirations and their hope.

Labour and its potential coalition partners on the left – the Green and Mana Parties, want to throw money at problems without trying to solve them.

National has put a lot of effort into understanding the causes of the problems and directing money where it will do most good.

The left want people to stay dependent, National is helping people become independent.

The left would make work for the measuring class but keep the poor in need.  National is helping people get real work to enable them to help themselves, give them choices and prosper.

Labour and its friends favour the soft options which entrench dependency and poverty.

National understands the importance of education and the power of work to break the patterns that lock in poverty and all the social and economic problem which go with it.


How to lose friends and votes

March 5, 2014

Is the Green Party being accused of defamation by Colin Craig or is it one of  its co-leaders?

This media release  says:

The Green Party has launched an appeal to cover the costs of defamation action being taken against the party by Conservative Party leader Colin Craig. . .

“The Green Party will defend the defamation action being brought by Colin Craig because we believe in the freedom of political speech and we believe in an inclusive and tolerant society,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman. . .

That’s very clearly stating the action is being taken against the party.

But the NZ Herald thinks it’s Norman against whom action is being taken:

Mr Craig confirmed this morning that he would start defamation proceedings against Greens co-leader Russel Norman, but with a narrower scope than originally planned.

Mr Craig would first seek a retraction from Dr Norman regarding his statements about the place of women in New Zealand. A claim against Dr Norman’s comments on gays would be delayed. . .

The party has been advised that defending the case was likely to cost around $70,000.

It will launch a campaign today to raise money for Dr Norman’s legal fees. . .

That is clear that it is Norman, not the party, against whom the action is being taken but the party is soliciting donations to help fund the defence.

They might think the co-leader and the party are so intertwined it makes no difference, but members and supporters might feel differently.

When Labour asked its members to help repay the money the party had illegally misspent on its pledge card they were less than impressed.

Many were on low to modest incomes but still happy to raise funds for the party to help it win elections. They were not at all happy about being asked for money to make amends for the consequence of a decision made by senior MPs and party officers.

The action against Norman isn’t in the same league and I think Craig is wrong to pursue it. I agree with the many commentators who’ve said he should harden up.

But Norman could stop the waste of time and money by apologising.

He says it’s about freedom of speech, I think it’s more about his pride and he, and the party, are asking supporters to pay for that.

They are free to do so, and maybe some will.

But others will feel, as Labour supporters did, that their precious spare time, energy and money would be better spent on the cause they believe in, not on an expensive sideshow.

Burning off the goodwill of supporters is never a good idea but the danger doesn’t stop there.

There’s only so much space for news and any attention Norman and his party get for this nonsense is attention not given to matter voters will regard as far more important.

Allowing the action to continue could well lose him and his party friends and votes.


Meanwhile what matters

March 5, 2014

While the sideshows are going on, the government is focussed on what matters – and getting results:

Under National, New Zealanders are getting faster emergency treatment when they need it: www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=43177

 

Under National, New Zealanders are getting faster emergency treatment when they need it: 

Public hospitals are delivering emergency department treatment faster than ever before, according to the latest quarterly health target results released today.

“In the last quarter, 94 per cent of patients across New Zealand were either admitted, discharged, or transferred from an emergency department within six hours of arriving. This is up almost 2 per cent on the previous quarter and close to the national target of 95 per cent,” says Heath Minister Tony Ryall.

“This is the highest result since targets began, meaning that public health services are providing New Zealanders with emergency healthcare faster than ever before.

“Among the DHBs, Waikato and Capital and Coast stood out as the biggest improvers – up 6.9 per cent and 6.2 per cent on the last quarter, respectively. MidCentral also made significant progress – up 4.9 per cent on the last quarter,” says Mr Ryall.

The update also shows that four health targets have been met with:

  • DHBs delivering 79,785 elective surgery discharges in the year to date – 3554 more than planned;
  • 91 per cent of eight-month-olds fully immunised;
  • all cancer patients who were ready-for-treatment waiting less than four weeks for radiotherapy or chemotherapy;
  • and 95 per cent of patients who smoke offered support to quit when seen by a health practitioner in a public hospital.

“There will always be room for improvement across some targets, but overall, Kiwis can have confidence in continued progress across a range of key health targets from their public health services,” says Mr Ryall.

The government had the courage and belief in itself to set these targets and was willing to be measured against them.

 


Schadenfreude

March 5, 2014

David Cunliffe’s many mistakes over the use of a trust to hide donations to help  his leadership campaign have provided his opponents with the opportunity to accuse him of all sorts of things, including hypocrisy.

Probably none relishes this more keenly than John Banks who can be forgiven for more than a wee bit of schadenfreude:

ACT MP John Banks labelled Mr Cunliffe and former leader David Shearer, who initially failed to declare an overseas bank account, as hypocrites.

“These are the same people who paraded in the house as paragons of virtue and railed against me day after day, week after week and month after month. They should look at themselves – these people are hypocrites.” . . .

Duncan Garner also employs the h word:

. . . David Cunliffe is a former high-flying business consultant – his wife is a top lawyer – they know how these things work. His friends are business people. His wife knew about it and kept all this secret. How on earth did she think they were going to get away with this approach? Their collective judgement on this is woeful.

Where was he when Labour rallied against National’s use of trusts to fund its many elections campaigns? It’s why Labour changed the law and brought in the Electoral Finance Law. Was he not in the Parliament at the time? No, he was there. Did he speak up against National’s use of secret trusts? Oh yes he did.

Labour politicians of all shapes and sizes criticised National for months for receiving secret money. Cunliffe was in there, boots-‘n’-all. Trevor Mallard went further and claimed there was a ‘secret American bag-man.’ It was never proved.

I’ll never forget Labour climbing into National over electoral finances. Now Cunliffe looks like a complete hypocrite despite the apology. National has every right to pile into him on this. Just like Labour piled into National over secret trusts and campaign donations.

I’m starting to wonder just who Cunliffe is. What does he stand for? Is he anti-business or pro-business? Does he care about the poor? Or hang out with the rich? My big question really is this: Who is the real David Cunliffe?

Is he a fake?

That’s an f word no politician can afford to have directed at them, especially when more than half his caucus will also be feeling more than a wee bit of  schadenfreude.


March 5 in history

March 5, 2014

1046 Naser Khosrow began the seven-year Middle Eastern journey which he will later describe in his book Safarnama.

1133 – King Henry II of England, was born (d. 1189).

1324  King David II of Scotland, was born (d. 1371).

1326 Louis I of Hungary, was born (d. 1382).

1496 King Henry VI  issued letters patent to John Cabot and his sons, authorising them to explore unknown lands.

1766 Antonio de Ulloa, the first Spanish governor of Louisiana arrived in New Orleans.

1770 Boston Massacre: Five Americans, were killed by British troops.

1784 Thomas Townshend, 1st Viscount Sydney was named President of the Board of Trade.

1824 First Burmese War: The British officially declare war on Burma.

1830 The outbreak of the Girls’ War  at Kororareka.

Outbreak of the Girls' War at Kororāreka

1836 Samuel Colt made the first production-model revolver, the .34-caliber.

1850 The Britannia Bridge across the Menai Strait between the Isle of Anglesey and the mainland of Wales opened.

1860 Parma, Tuscany, Modena and Romagna voted in referenda to join the Kingdom of Sardinia.

1868  A court of impeachment was organized in the United States Senate to hear charges against President Andrew Johnson.

1868 – Mefistofele, an opera by Arrigo Boito receives its première performance at La Scala.

1872  George Westinghouse patented the air brake.

1904 Nikola Tesla, in Electrical World and Engineer, described the process of the ball lightning formation.

1908  Sir Rex Harrison, English actor, was born  (d. 1990).

1912 Italian forces were the first to use airships for military purposes, using them for reconnaissance behind Turkish lines.

1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared a “bank holiday”, closing all U.S. banks and freezing all financial transactions.

1936 Canaan Banana, first President of Zimbabwe, was born (d. 2003).

1937 Olusẹgun Ọbasanjọ, President of Nigeria, was born.

1940 Members of Soviet politburo signed an order for the execution of 25,700 Polish intelligentsia, including 14,700 Polish POWs, known also as the Katyn massacre.

1942  United States Navy Seabees established.

1942 Felipe González, Prime Minister of Spain, was born.

1943 First flight of Gloster Meteor jet aircraft in the United Kingdom.

1946 Winston Churchill used the phrase “Iron Curtain” in his speech at Westminster College, Missouri.

1946 Hungarian Communists and Social Democrats co-founded the Left Bloc.

1948 Elaine Paige, English singer and actress, was born.

1949 The Jharkhand Party was founded in India.

1952  – Alan Clark, English keyboardist (Dire Straits), was born.

1958 The Explorer 2 spacecraft launched and failed to reach Earth orbit.

1960 The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis originated when Alister Hardy publicly announced his idea that ape-human divergence may have been due to a coastal phase.

1962 Charlie and Craig Reid, Scottish musicians (The Proclaimers), were born.

1965 March Intifada: A Leftist uprising erupts in Bahrain against British colonial presence.

1966 BOAC Flight 911 crashed on Mount Fuji  killing 124.

1970 John Frusciante, American musician (Red Hot Chili Peppers), was born.

1970 The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty went into effect after ratification by 43 nations.

1973 Donald DeFreeze, the future Symbionese Liberation Army leader, escaped from Vacaville Prison.

1974 Yom Kippur War: Israeli forces withdrew from the west bank of the Suez Canal.

1975 First meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club

1978 The Landsat 3 was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

1979 Soviet probes Venera 11, Venera 12 and the American solar satellite Helios 2 were hit by “off the scale” gamma rays leading to the discovery of soft gamma repeaters.

1979 – Voyager 1‘s closest approach to Jupiter, 172,000 miles.

1982 Daniel Carter, New Zealand rugby player, was born.

1982 Venera 14, a Soviet satellite, arrived at Venus.

1984 –  6,000 Miners in the United Kingdom began their historic strike at Cortonwood Colliery.

1999 Paul Okalik was elected first Premier of Nunavut.

2001 In Mecca, 35 Muslim pilgrims were crushed to death during the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

2003 17 Israeli civilians were killed by a Hamas suicide bomb in the Haifa bus 37 massacre.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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