Word of the day

December 23, 2014

Cocker – a small spaniel of a breed with a silky coat; to pamper, spoil or coddle.


Rural round-up

December 23, 2014

New Zealand-Korea FTA initialled:

Trade Minister Tim Groser welcomed today’s initialling by Chief Negotiators of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.

“Initialling marks the end of the text’s legal verification process. It’s another milestone as we progress towards bringing the FTA into force,” says Mr Groser.

“The next step is translation of the text into Korean, which will be completed early next year. Following translation, the FTA will be signed.

“This FTA will deliver real economic benefits to both our countries. It will secure our position in the Korean market and will create more opportunities for traders as tariffs are gradually removed.” . . .

 

Stay safe on the farm this summer:

On average, 850 people each year are injured riding quad bikes on farms. Five die.

It is because of these unacceptable statistics that Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment inspectors will visit farms this summer to ensure key quad bike safety steps are recognised and understood.

Rural Women New Zealand joins the Ministry in urging farmers and their families to take extra care on the farm over summer, particularly when it comes to quad bike safety.

As it gets closer to the holiday season the pace of work picks up and more tasks are fitted into the longer days.

“Long hours can lead to fatigue and an increase in accidents,” says the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s General Manager – Central, Ona de Rooy.

There is also a real need for vigilance once the school holidays begin and children are spending more time around the farm. . .

Signs of new interest in soil science:

Soil scientists worried about a decline in the numbers working in that field have taken heart at signs that interest may be growing among a new generation of scientists.

Science Strategy Manager at Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Warwick Catto said a national soil science conference in Hamilton earlier this month was notable for the number of younger scientists attending.

And he was hoping that showed interest was on the rise, because as he pointed out, the soil and what it produces was the basis for much of the country’s economy .

“There were a lot of young people in the audience, which is either a reflection that I’m getting older, or that there are lot of people looking at careers in soil science and I think the latter is that there are issues going on with soil, be it nitrogen leaching, soil erosion into water water ways. . .

Scientists breed cattle to thrive in tropics:

Livestock improvement co-operative LIC sees South America, Asia and possibly Africa as potential markets for a new breed of heat tolerant dairy cattle it is developing.

LIC has started a breeding programme crossing the Senepol breed from the Caribbean with New Zealand Holstein-Friesian dairy cattle.

The programme came about, ironically, from scientists’ investigations into a genetic mutation in one of its breeding bulls that produced very hairy off-spring, prone to over-heating. . .

New Zealand’s Food Safety Regulations Are Not About Food Safety, But Rather International Trade & Politics – Milking on the Moove:

New Zealand’s food safety regulations are not simply about food safety. It’s also about international trade & politics.

Once I understood that, the regulations & procedures around dairy products begins to make sense to me.

I’m going to be quite charitable to the regulators in this post.

Biddys Story

Last night Seven Sharp did a follow up story on Biddy and her micro cheese making business. You can view the 7 minute video here. http://bit.ly/1xRsYT8

Biddys story is, she milks 3 cows and makes the milk into cheese. She has won international awards etc etc. 5 years ago she was featured on Country Calendar. This alerted the authorities to her small operation and she was required to meet the dairy regulations.    . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Director Elections:

Nominations have now closed for two farmer-elected positions on the Beef + Lamb New Zealand board.

A director election in the Northern North Island electorate will not be required. James Parsons (incumbent) is elected unopposed.

Two nominations have been received for the Northern South Island electorate. The candidates are Nigel Harwood of Takaka and Phil Smith of Culverden. . . .


Sallies do tough love

December 23, 2014

The headline suggests a sob story: Kids to go without Christmas, mum says:

An Invercargill couple say their six young kids will go without on Christmas day and it’s the Salvation Army’s fault.

However, the Salvation Army says the parents are to blame for their family’s predicament because they have relied on handouts rather than trying to help themselves.

Shelly Edwards and Leo Hewett said their six children aged 3-10 will get no presents and have a diet of chicken and bread on Christmas day because the Salvation Army failed to help them in their time of need.

“How can we tell the kids there’s nothing for Christmas?” Shelly asked from their south Invercargill state house yesterday.

Shelly said she was on the invalid’s benefit and received a working for families benefit, while her partner was unemployed and seeking employment at the meatworks. Their weekly income was $631 but just $15 was left over after paying for their rent, bills, food and petrol.

Struggling to afford a decent Christmas for their kids, they thought it was sorted when the Nga Kete trust referred them to the Salvation Army scheme called adopt-a-family, which sees businesses and individuals sponsor struggling families during Christmas by providing them with a hamper filled with food and treats.

The family had been on the same scheme last year and received presents for their children, a supermarket voucher and a food hamper, they said.

However, when Shelly failed to turn up to a budget advice meeting early this month she was told she had been taken off the adopt-a-family scheme this year, she said.

She said she did not go to the meeting because she had no petrol money for their vehicle and it would have been difficult to take her six kids, one of whom is disabled, on public transport to the meeting. . .

Some people don’t have family, friends or neighbours to turn to for child minding, but surely there was an alternative to simply failing to turn up.

Salvation Army spokeswoman Brenda King said the family had never been put on the adopt-a-family scheme this year, effectively because they had failed to help themselves.

Shelly had been using the services of the Salvation Army for about two years and when she received more than three food parcels in one year she was referred to a budget advice centre to receive financial planning assistance, King said.

However, Shelly had not engaged with the budget advisory service so was not put on the adopt-a-family scheme, King said.

The Salvation Army’s aim was for its clients to get to the point where they could look after themselves and be self sufficient.

“If we keep handing out we are enabling them to stay in the situation they are in. We aren’t actually helping them at all in the long run.”

Shelly and her partner had six children and they were responsible for them, King said.

“I have been in touch with her budget advisor and she assures me they do have money. Like everyone Shelly has known Christmas is coming.”

Jubilee Budget Advisory Service manager Sharon Soper confirmed Shelly had been on its books in the past but said she had not called in to see the a budget advisor since July 11 and she had failed to front for a meeting on December 4. . . .

I’m on the side of the Sallies who do a lot of good work with very vulnerable people.

Their time and resources are limited and cannot be wasted on people who won’t take up the help that’s available to help themselves where they can.

Benefits aren’t designed to cover more than the basics, though Kiwiblog calculates they’re getting more than $631 a week:

Incidentally I think their estimate of their income is low. I make it:

  • Invalids Benefit (couple rate) $217.75
  • JobSeeker (couple rate) $174.21
  • Family Tax Credits (for six kids) $414.00

So that is a total of $805.96 a week net, not $631. On top of that it is highly likely they get the accommodation supplement or a statehouse subsidized rent. . .

Should the children suffer because of their parents?

In general no. But this isn’t depriving children of basic needs.

They’re missing out on extras for Christmas in a family where, if what’s reported is accurate, the parents haven’t done everything they can to help themselves.

The Sallies aren’t being heartless, they’re demonstrating tough love.


Joe Cocker 22.5.44 – 22.12.14

December 23, 2014

Joe Cocker has died:

The Sheffield born singer-songwriter had a career lasting more than 40 years with hits including You Are So Beautiful and Up Where We Belong.

His agent Barrie Marshall said Cocker, who is reported to have been battling lung cancer, was “simply unique”.

Sir Paul McCartney said he was a lovely guy who “brought so much to the world”.

Known for his gritty voice, Cocker began his singing career in the pubs and clubs of Sheffield in the 1960s before hitting the big time.

He was propelled to pop stardom when his version of The Beatles’ With A Little Help from My Friends reached number one in 1968.

He performed the song at the famous Woodstock Festival in New York state a year later.

His duet with Jennifer Warnes, Up Where We Belong – from An Officer And A Gentleman – hit number one and went on to win both a Grammy and an Academy Award in 1983.

He was made an OBE in 2007. . .

 


DCC fraud failure

December 23, 2014

The ODT says the investigation into fraud at the DCC offers a salutary lesson:

Deloitte’s report into fraud at the Dunedin City Council has proved as damning as suspected.

Not only did it involve the pocketing of money from the sale of 152 vehicles, but it appears former team leader Brent Bachop was at the ”centre of” other potential issues.

The debacle is an indictment on the council and a serious warning to others.

Supposedly, the council had systems and checks, but they failed spectacularly.

It is almost beyond belief that suspect dealings worth at least $1.59 million, and possible considerably much more, took place.

What makes it worse is the way several ”red flags” were ignored or investigated insufficiently.

These included Mr Bachop’s excessive lifestyle as well as questions over the years, including from Cr Lee Vandervis.

While these flags were flying, down the road at the then Otago District Health Board, Michael Swann’s place in a $16.9 million fraud was being uncovered and receiving extensive publicity.

His case should have acted as a sharp warning to other large organisations.

Clearly, in the council’s case, it did not.

In a city renowned for its Presbyterian roots and canny business people it is hard to understand how two cases like this went undetected for so long.

The council, including Mr Bachop’s managers, generally has had good and competent staff.

But something went wrong.

Were they too slack, too trusting, too complacent?

All of the above?

A classic instance concerns the finding Mr Bachop spent $102,908 on a council card – which was also used for vehicle serving and maintenance – on miscellaneous items, including soft drinks, chips, milk, chocolate biscuits, bread and fuel for personal vehicles.

Mr Bachop’s manager regularly signed off those expenses. Giving the benefit of the doubt, it would appear the manager simply did not check the details.

Mr Bachop himself, and the council says no-one else in the council was found to be directly dishonest, was well liked and capable.

That just goes to show that other councils, institutions and organisations have to be on guard.

They not only need appropriate systems, but must follow them. . . .

Complaints about compliance costs – in both financial and time terms –  are rife in an age where it too often looks like exercises box ticking ant butt covering.

But no organisation can be too careful about checking expenses and expenditure, especially when the money at stake is the public’s.

This sorry sage reflects very poorly on the council and its systems and does as the ODT says, provide a salutary lesson not just for the council but everyone with the responsibility for anyone else’s money.


December 23 in history

December 23, 2014

484 – Huneric died and was succeeded by his nephew Gunthamund, who became king of the Vandals.

558 – Chlothar I was crowned.

583 – Maya queen Yohl Ik’nal was crowned ruler of Palenque.

679 – King Dagobert II was murdered in a hunting accident.

962 – Arab–Byzantine Wars: Under the future Emperor Nicephorus Phocas, Byzantine troops stormed the city of Aleppo.

1572 – Theologian Johann Sylvan was executed in Heidelberg for his heretical Antitrinitarian beliefs.

1688 – As part of the Glorious Revolution, King James II of England fled England to Paris after being deposed in favor of his nephew, William of Orange and his daughter Mary.

1732 Richard Arkwright, English industrialist and inventor, was born (d. 1792).

1822  Wilhelm Bauer, German engineer, was born  (d. 1875).

1867  Madam C.J. Walker, American philanthropist and tycoon, was born (d. 1919).

1893 The opera Hänsel und Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck was first performed.

1913 The Federal Reserve Act was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, creating the Federal Reserve.

1914  World War I: Australian and New Zealand troops arrived in Cairo, Egypt.

1925  Rayner Unwin, British book publisher, was born (died 200).

1933 Akihito, Emperor of Japan, was born.

1937  First flight of the Vickers Wellington bomber.

1938  Discovery of the first modern coelacanth in South Africa.

1947 The transistor was first demonstrated at Bell Laboratories.

1951  Anthony Phillips, British musician (Genesis), was born.

1953 Queen Elizabeth II arrived in New Zealand, the first reigning monarch to visit.

Queen Elizabeth II arrives for summer tour

1954  The first human kidney transplant is performed by Dr. Joseph E. Murray at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.

1958  Dedication of Tokyo Tower, world’s highest self-supporting iron tower.

1964 Eddie Vedder, American musician (Pearl Jam), was born.

1970 The North Tower of the World Trade Centre in Manhattan was topped out at 1,368 feet (417 m), making it the tallest building in the world.

1972 The Nicaraguan capital of Managua was struck by a 6.5 magnitude earthquake which killed more than 10,000.

1972 The 16 survivors of the Andes flight disaster were rescued after 73 days, having survived by cannibalism.

1986  Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, lands at Edwards Air Force Base in California becoming the first aircraft to fly non-stop around the world.

1990  In a referendum, 88% of Slovenia‘s population vote for independence from Yugoslavia.

2002 A MQ-1 Predator is shot down by an Iraqi MiG-25, making it the first time in history that an aircraft and an unmanned drone had engaged in combat.

2004  Macquarie Island in the Southern Ocean was hit by an 8.1 magnitude earthquake.

2005  Chad declared war against Sudan following a December 18 attack on Adré, which left about 100 people dead.

2007 – An agreement was made for the monarchy of Nepal to be abolished and the country to become a federal republic with the Prime Minister becoming head of state.

2010 – A monsoonal trough crossed the northeastern coast of Australia from the Coral Sea, bringing mass flooding across Queensland.

Sourced from NZ History Online and Wikipedia.


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