Word of the day

December 19, 2014

Ooftish   – money, cash.


Selwyn Ballet Christmas

December 19, 2014

The Selwyn Ballet has been a popular feature of  Otago University’s annual capping show for 86 years.

It’s also part of the university’s Christmas message:

Universities are all about serious study and preparing students for high-flying careers, but Otago University has acknowledged the fun side of student life in its Christmas video message.

The clip features a day in the life of the all-male Selwyn Ballet, set to music from popular Christmas ballet The Nutcracker.

The famous classical ballet troupe is the second-oldest in the world, having started as part of Otago University’s capping show in 1928.

It has now become a firm tradition among first-year male students at Dunedin’s Selwyn College hostel.

Most of the guys have no prior dance experience, but work with a professional choreographer during the year to learn their routines. . .


Rural round-up

December 19, 2014

New tool to test sheep meat quality:

An international project testing the eating quality of sheep meat using DNA measurements will enter its final stage next year, with the tool developed set to be tested on commercial flocks in New Zealand.

In September last year, a sheep genotyping tool known as a SNP (snip) chip was created by an international team of scientists as part of the FarmIQ genetics project.

John McEwan, one of the project’s leaders and AgResearch principal scientist, says the chip measures hundred of thousands of DNA variances and allows a sheep’s performance to be predicted by testing its DNA, rather than extensive progeny testing being needed.

“We take an ear punch out of the sheep – just a very small piece of tissue about three millimetres in diameter – and we extract the DNA out of that from the sheep. Then we place that DNA on this slide or chip and develop it with a set of chemicals and the DNA variance appears as different colours.” . .

Farmer contracts not taxing water-take:

Contracts signed so far to take water from Hawke’s Bay’s Ruataniwha dam and irrigation project added up to only about 13 percent of the commitment needed to make the scheme commercially feasible.

But the company running the project says farmers representing more than half of the minimum water-take required have made the decision to join the scheme and have asked for contracts.

The figures are in a report that the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s investment company presented to the council today.

The company has until the end of March next year to decide whether the dam and irrigation project in the Tukituki River catchment will have enough backing to proceed. That includes having enough farmers signed up to take a minimum of 40 million cubic metres of water a year. . .

Ngai Tahu launches farming diploma:

Ngai Tahu has launched a new Maori Farming Diploma which it hopes will produce the country’s future leaders in agriculture.

Whenua Kura is a partnership between Te Tapuae o Rehua, Ngai Tahu Farming and Lincoln University.

The diploma course is the first of its kind where students will study in a Maori environment and learn how to apply critical Ngai Tahu values such kaitiakitanga (guardianship), manaakitanga (hospitality) and rangatiratanga (self-determination) to land use. . .

It’s always Christmas for farmers – Vincent H. Smith:

It is Christmas time once again and in my part of the world, southwestern Montana, the snow has arrived and will be with us until early March.  Most nights the temperature will fall well below 20 degrees Fahrenheit; some days the thermometer won’t rise above zero.

That’s winter time in the Northern Great Plains and the eastern Rocky Mountains, where cabin fever is a real phenomenon and ranching becomes truly hard work. In this world, cattle can be inconvenient. They need water and calories in places where they can feed and drink, and cows often calve on bitterly cold February and early March nights.

Ranching is also risky in the winter time; herds can be decimated by blizzards and what seem like mile high snow drifts. And ranchers, on the whole, are genuine risk taking entrepreneurs who, for the most part, neither seek nor receive substantial federal bailouts. Most of them also know that country of origin labelling is a bad economic idea that has reduced the prices they are paid by meatpackers and feedlots. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, for example, has recently argued that the US should “reform” and essentially terminate that program rather than appeal a recent WTO finding that the program violates US WTO commitments. . .

A new standard for labelling of export infant formula:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has today issued a new standard to clarify the labelling requirements for exports of infant formula.

“The standard has been developed as part of the infant formula market assurance programme announced by the Government in June 2013,” said Scott Gallacher, MPI Deputy Director-General, Regulation and Assurance.

“It is the first of a set of technical regulatory changes that will be introduced progressively over the next six months to further strengthen our assurance system for exports of infant formula products.

“MPI consulted on the new standard during July and August. The new standard clarifies the information that must be on labels of infant formula intended for export, and information or representations that are restricted or prohibited on these products. . .

New labelling standard for infant formula:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew has today welcomed a new standard under the Animal Products Act that clarifies the labelling requirements for infant formula exports.

“Currently all export dairy products are exempt from New Zealand’s food labelling standards, they instead meet labelling requirements of the importing country,” Mrs Goodhew says.

“Infant formula is a special product. For this reason, the Ministry has put in place this new standard, which applies regardless of where the infant formula is being sent. This will ensure exporters know what information must be on labels, and what information and images are prohibited.  . .

20 years of selling semen and nothing’s a problem:

Te Aroha local, born and bred, Butch Coombe celebrates 20 years working with CRV Ambreed as a field consultant.

Starting out part-time to supplement the income on his 110-acre farm, his sales patch grew and grew and enabled him to buy extra things for farm like a new four-wheeler with his ‘top up earnings.’ When his area grew to the point where it could support his family, he decided to sell the farm and join CRV Ambreed full-time.

It was a big move for Coombe and his wife Heather, who had been farming their whole married life – some 30 years – but he was pleased not to have to leave the industry or cattle completely. . .

 


Thursday’s quiz on Friday

December 19, 2014

Whoops – this week, like the rest of the year, has gone faster than I thought.

I’ll leave the questions up to you.

You don’t need to follow the five-question formula I use.

Anyone who stumps everyone will win a virtual Christmas cake.


Nth Korea and hackers 1 – Sony 0

December 19, 2014

Sony has cancelled the release of a satirical film about a fictional plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un after threats from hackers.

Sony has confirmed it has no plans to release the satirical film The Interview internationally, in any form, following threats from hackers.

Cinemas in the US cancelled screenings of the film, about a plot to kill North Korea’s leader, prompting Sony to shelve it altogether.

But there has been dismay in Hollywood, with Ben Stiller calling the move “a threat to freedom of expression”. . .

Several other famous names have criticised the decision to shelve the movie, accusing the studio of caving in to the hackers’ threats.

Oscar-wining screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who has already attacked the media for spreading information leaked by the hackers, said: “Today the US succumbed to an unprecedented attack on our most cherished, bedrock principle of free speech.”

Actor Steve Carell called the move a “sad day for creative expression”. . . .

It is.

But given the damage the hackers have already done to the company, their threats to destroy it and to the safety of movie-goers I understand why Sony did it.

And Sorkin is right. The media aided the hackers by publishing what they’d leaked.

That happened here too with Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics and the media reports on the hacked emails.

Some of what was published might have been in the public interest but some was private correspondence which was not.

All of it was stolen.

Now that the hackers have succeeded here and there, others will be encouraged to follow suit.

We all need to understand that regardless of the protection we think we have for our computers, anything on them could be hacked and become public.

 


National’s plan’s working for NZ

December 19, 2014

Primary industries made the biggest contribution to the  1% increase in the September quarter:

Gross domestic product (GDP) was up 1.0 percent in the September 2014 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. The growth was driven by primary industries, which increased 5.8 percent

“This is some of the strongest growth in primary industries for 15 years,” national accounts manager Gary Dunnet said. “Milk production had a good start to the season, while oil exploration, and oil and gas extraction also grew.”

The key drivers in the September 2014 quarter were agriculture (up 4.7 percent), and mining (up 8.0 percent). In contrast, forestry and logging was down 4.0 percent.

Manufacturing activity also grew (2.0 percent), led by increases in metal product manufacturing (up 4.9 percent), and machinery and equipment manufacturing (up 3.7 percent).

“Service industries were mixed this quarter, with rises in telecommunications and retail being offset by falls in transport and business services,” Mr Dunnet said.

GDP growth for the year ended September 2014 was 2.9 percent. . .

 Annual growth of nearly 3% is better than most other countries:

New Zealand’s economy remains one of the fastest growing in the developed world, confirming that the Government’s economic programme is taking New Zealand in the right direction, Finance Minister Bill English says.

Statistics New Zealand today reported gross domestic product expanded by 1.0 per cent in the September quarter. This took annual growth – from the September quarter 2013 to the September quarter 2014 – to a revised 3.2 per cent. This is the same as annual growth to June 2014, and equals the highest annual growth rate since September 2007. Average annual growth was 2.9 per cent.

“We are in the unusual but encouraging situation where we have solid economic growth, more employment and higher wages, but few pressures on inflation,” Mr English says. “This suggests New Zealand’s economic growth potential before inflation sets in – essentially the speed limit of the economy – is higher than expected previously.

“Although lower inflation, and the consequent lower tax revenue, is making it more challenging for the Government to return to surplus this year, it is good for businesses and families who are facing lower price increases than would normally be expected at this point in the economic cycle.

“Strong economic growth benefits all New Zealanders. Around 72,000 jobs have been created in the past year, and the average full-time wage is forecast to rise by $8,000 to around $64,000 by mid-2019. But long-term improvement in New Zealanders’ fortunes will occur only if we stick with our successful economic programme,” Mr English says.

Growth in the latest quarter was driven by agriculture (up 4.7 per cent), mining (8 per cent) and manufacturing (2 per cent).

New Zealand’s 3.2 per cent GDP growth in the year to September compares with 2.7 per cent in Australia, 3.0 per cent in the United Kingdom, 2.4 per cent in the United States, 2.6 per cent in Canada, 1.2 per cent Germany, and a 1.2 per cent decline in Japan. Average growth across the OECD was 1.7 per cent.

 Critics of the government keep saying it doesn’t have a plan.

It does and it’s working help the economy, employment and wages grow while keeping inflation in check.

Strong growth equals more jobs and higher incomes. Our plan is #Working4NZ. ntnl.org.nz/1zwlTcK


December 19 in history

December 19, 2014

211 – Publius Septimius Geta, co-emperor of Rome, was lured to go without his bodyguards to meet his brother Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (Caracalla), to discuss a possible reconciliation. When he arrived the Praetorian Guard murdered him and he died in the arms of his mother Julia Domna.

324 – Licinius abdicated his position as Roman Emperor.

1154  Henry II was crowned at Westminster Abbey.

1606  The Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery left England carrying settlers who found, at Jamestown, Virginia, the first of the thirteen colonies that became the United States.

1683  Philip V of Spain, was born (d. 1746).

1820 Mary Livermore, American journalist and women’s rights advocate, was born (d. 1905).

1879 – Universal male suffrage was introduced in New Zealand when the Qualification of Electors Act extended the right to vote (or electoral franchise) to all European men aged over 21, regardless of whether they owned or rented property.

1906 Leonid Brezhnev, leader of the Soviet Union, was born (d. 1982).

1915 Édith Piaf, French singer and actress, was born  (d. 1963).

1920  King Constantine I was restored as King of the Hellenes after the death of his son Alexander I of Greece and a plebiscite.

1923  Gordon Jackson, Scottish actor, was born  (d. 1990).

1924  The last Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost was sold in London.

1925 Robert B. Sherman, American songwriter, was born.

1932  BBC World Service began broadcasting as the BBC Empire Service.

1934  Pratibha Patil, President of India, was born.

1941 The Royal Navy cruiser HMS Neptune struck enemy mines and sank off Libya – more than 750 men lost their lives including 150 New Zealanders.

HMS <em>Neptune</em> lost in Mediterranean minefield

1941 Adolf Hitler became Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the German Army.

1941 – Maurice White, American singer and songwriter (Earth, Wind & Fire), was born.

1944 Zal Yanovsky, Canadian guitarist (The Lovin’ Spoonful), was born.

1946  Start of the First Indochina War.

1972  The last manned lunar flight, Apollo 17, crewed by Eugene Cernan, Ron Evans and Harrison Schmitt, returned to Earth.

1983  The original FIFA World Cup trophy, the Jules Rimet Trophy, was stolen from the headquarters of the Brazilian Football Confederation.

1984 The Sino-British Joint Declaration, stating that the People’s Republic of China would resume the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong and the United Kingdom would restore Hong Kong to China with effect from July 1, 1997 was signed in Beijing by Deng Xiaoping and Margaret Thatcher.

2001  A record high barometric pressure of 1085.6 hPa (32.06 inHg )was recorded at Tosontsengel, Khövsgöl Province, Mongolia.

2001 – Argentine economic crisis: December 2001 riots – Riots erupted in Buenos Aires.

2009 – A 6.4 magnitude earthquake occurred off the coast of Hualian, Taiwan.

2012 – Park Geun-hye became the first female elected President of South Korea

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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