Word of the day

May 22, 2015

Analemmaa scale shaped like the figure 8, showing the declination of the sun and the equation of time for each day of the year; a scale (as on a globe or sundial) based on such a plot that shows the sun’s position for each day of the year or that allows local mean time to be determined.


Rural round-up

May 22, 2015

Breaking down NZ fences – Lindy Nelson:

From dairy to red meat, New Zealand agribusiness is undergoing a profound transformation. The expanding markets of Asia bring both new opportunities as well as challenges.

To extract the maximum value from these opportunities the sector needs an injection of new ideas and perspectives and to engage 100 per cent of its available talent. One of the ways this is happening is the emergence of more women in leadership roles.

From boardrooms to the management of New Zealand’s top agribusinesses, women are stepping into roles not traditionally held in our sector. . . .

INZ supportive of budget 2015 allocation to freshwater management:

Irrigation New Zealand supports the government’s budget allocation to assisting councils with the implementation of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and the 2014 National Objectives Framework, and to supporting a new collaborative approach to resolving managing freshwater.

“This will help water policy evolve into even more practical, precise and workable terms and will hopefully make the consenting and regulatory process around water storage and irrigation infrastructure development less costly and lengthy,” says Mr Curtis. “It will also give more recognition to the collaborative processes which are already happening in water catchments about future infrastructure development. . .

Plea to promote good employers:

A rural recruitment specialist says the farming sector should be identifying and celebrating good employers, not naming and shaming the bad ones.

This week Council of Trade Union president, Helen Kelly, has been tweeting links to farm ads which she says are for jobs paying below the minimum wage – and sometimes even below $13 an hour.

John Fegan has been a rural recruitment and HR specialist in the Waikato region for more than 20 years and while he agrees there are bad employers out there, he does not agree with what Helen Kelly is doing.

Mr Fegan believes a system which highlights farmers who have good employment standards is the best way to go about bringing change. . .

Ballance makes key leadership appointments:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has announced the appointment of two general managers as well as appointments to new roles in strategy and agricultural technology.

Chief Executive Mark Wynne said the appointments were aligned with a revised focus for the co-operative on driving value for shareholders from its core fertiliser business, building the capability of its people, and making smarter use of data and technology to support better decision making both within the company and on the farm. . .

 

Low payout, smarter herd management:

“If you want to get the best out of your farming business when payout is low, you need to have the right tools.”

That’s the view of Drury-based dairy farmer Sue Dyer, who recently presented at a series of workshops run by CRV Ambreed to teach farmers how technology can be better used to achieve their herd improvement goals.

Dyer said dairy farmers spend too much time on administration and managing their herd information, and when time is money, farmers have to make a considered decision about the products and services they use and how they use them. . .

Danielle Nierenberg's photo.


Friday’s answers

May 22, 2015

Thursday’s questions were:

1. Which character in which book by which author said: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery. ?

2. What song in which musical starts:

“Dear God, you made many, many poor people.
I realize, of course, that it’s no shame to be poor.
But it’s no great honor either!
So, what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?”

3. It’s too easy in French, preventivo in Italian, presuepuesto in Spanish and putea in Maori, what is it in English?

4. Who was Finance Minister when Bill English was Treasurer and under which Prime Minister were they serving?

5. If you the Finance Minister offered to implement a policy for you, what would it be?

Points for answers:

Andrei got 4 1/2 – #4 had two parts.

J Bloggs wins an electronic jelly sponge with five right (though I don’t agree with the universal allowance).

Grant got four (would have been five if you’d stopped at budget for #3.

PDM got one.

Answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


Flag of the day

May 22, 2015

The Flag Consideration Panel is inviting people to upload designs for a new flag.

There’s more than 1000 in the gallery already.

I plan to feature one most days.

Today’s is Mountains to Sea by Miranda:

flag


Business as usual with surprises

May 22, 2015

The Budget which was expected to be boring was a business as usual one with surprises.

The business as usual bit is continuing focus on the careful management of public money and getting back to surplus without the slash and burn approach which past governments took.

The big surprise was an increase in benefits, above the normal adjustment for inflation, for the first time in more than 40 years.

Even the opposition was struggling to oppose that and balancing the increase is the requirement for sole parents to seek work once their youngest child is three and increased work obligations for those on job seeker benefits helps.

Dene Mackenzie says Bill English has pulled off a master stroke:

He pushed his political opponents off stride by announcing social spending better than anything Labour did during its most recent nine years in Government.

Mr English will continue to be criticised by opponents for not delivering his prized surplus this year, but spending $790 million on a package to help children in some of New Zealand’s poorest families was a touch of genius.

The package included more child-care support for low-income families, a $25-a-week increase in benefit rates for families with children, an increase in Working for Families payments to low-income families not on a benefit, and increased work obligations for sole parents on a benefit.

”This package strikes a balance that offers more support to low-income families with children while ensuring there remains a strong incentive for parents to move from welfare to work,” he said.

He also made it difficult for his political opponents to make any meaningful criticism by lifting benefit rates by more than inflation for the first time since 1972.

The Finance Minister has always been the social conscience of National, right from the days when he was a member of the party’s ”brat pack”.

At political conferences more than 20 years ago, he talked about ensuring a ”truck driver” from Balclutha could earn enough to feed and house his family. . .

The increase to Working for Families at the lower end of income ensures the truck driver and any other parents in paid work will be better off than those on benefits.

I don’t support WFF for families earning well above the average income but can’t think of a better way to ensure there’s a decent gap between income from benefits and low paid jobs.

The Budget at a glance is here.

I was listening to talkback on my way home from Christchurch last night. The cut in the $1000 kickstart for Kiwisaver wasn’t popular but it was less likely to go to those who’d need it most and tax credits and employer contributions remain.

Border security and the risk of biosecurity breeches is of increasing concern with more travellers. Requiring $6 from departing travellers and $16 from incoming ones is a little bit of user-pays.

The Finance Minister’s speech is here.

. . . New Zealand remains one of the faster-growing developed economies, with conditions supporting sustained solid growth, forecast at 2.8 per cent on average over the next four years.

Growth matters. It means more jobs, higher incomes and opportunities for families to get ahead.

By mid-2019, the number of people in work is expected to rise by another 150,000 and the unemployment rate to drop to 4.5 per cent. The average wage is also expected to rise by $7,000 to $63,000 a year.

New Zealand’s positive economic performance, relative to others, is demonstrated by the strength of the New Zealand dollar and the very low number of people leaving for Australia – the lowest, in net terms, since 1992.

Lower dairy prices are a headwind for growth, however, and global uncertainties remain. Monetary policy easing in other countries is helping to keep upward pressure on the exchange rate.

Unusually, given our current growth, New Zealand is experiencing very low inflation.

Annual CPI inflation is only 0.1 per cent, compared to the Budget 2014 forecast of 1.8 per cent.

This is good news for consumers and workers because their income goes a bit further and they get good value for any pay rises.

Low inflation is also keeping down interest rates. The concerns I expressed in last year’s Budget about rising interest rates have largely disappeared.

But lower-than-expected prices also mean that nominal GDP – the size of the economy in dollar terms – is not rising as quickly as previously expected, despite solid growth in the real economy.

This means tax revenue is not rising as quickly either.

Compared to what was forecast in last year’s Budget, nominal GDP is expected to be $15 billion lower in total over this year and the next three years, and tax revenue to be $4.5 billion lower in total over the same period. . .

Government’s fiscal priorities are:

Returning to surplus this year and maintaining surpluses in the future

Reducing net debt to 20 per cent of GDP by 2020, including repaying debt in dollar terms in 2017/18

Further reducing ACC levies

Beginning to reduce income taxes from 2017, and

Using any further fiscal headroom to reduce debt faster.

The Government is making good progress on all these fiscal priorities.

While expenditure is firmly under control, tax revenue – as I mentioned – is not rising as quickly as expected.

This is lowering operating balances across the forecast period, compared to Budget 2014 predictions.

But the overall trajectory has not changed. We have come from an $18.4 billion deficit four years ago to seeing steadily rising surpluses into the future.

A deficit of $684 million is now forecast for 2014/15, which is $2.2 billion better than last year’s deficit.

A surplus of $176 million is expected in 2015/16, followed by $1.5 billion in 2016/17 and rising to $3.6 billion in 2018/19.

As I’ve said previously, the Government has no intention of making spending cuts simply to chase a surplus in a particular year.

The surplus target has been successful in applying greater discipline to government spending.

That discipline has turned the Government’s books around, and the fiscal outlook remains very positive. . .

The government can, and should, control its spending and the disciplined approach to it that has been taken since National came to power in 2008 is the major reason New Zealand is doing as well as it is.

The government can influence the environment which helps the income side, but sustainable growth comes from the private sector.


Quote of the day

May 22, 2015

. . . An enormous gulf has opened up between what used to be the core Labour voter, particularly in provincial regions, and the metropolitan elites, with their state-funded salaries and public sector pensions. The consequence is the current generation of Labour politicians are stumped when it comes to enunciating policies for the delivery of a better life for working people.

There is now a fundamental unease in the NZ population the collectivism inherent in the original concept of the welfare state doesn’t necessarily deliver the results originally envisaged. It is based on evidence the safety net the welfare state was intended to provide has been turned almost into a lifestyle for many who spend years on benefits. Now when the Govt says testing for spending effectiveness (in welfare programmes) will be core to the new processes it is introducing, and funding will be re-prioritised to providers to get results, Labour doesn’t seem to have an answer, or an alternative. . . Trans Tasman


May 22 in history

May 22, 2015

334 BC The Macedonian army of Alexander the Great defeated Darius III of Persia in the Battle of the Granicus.

1176 The Hashshashin (Assassins) attempted to murder Saladin near Aleppo.

1377  Pope Gregory XI issued five papal bulls to denounce the doctrines of English theologian John Wycliffe.

1455 Wars of the Roses: at the First Battle of St Albans, Richard, Duke of York, defeated and captured King Henry VI of England.

1724 Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne, French explorer  was born (d. 1772).

1762 Sweden and Prussia signed the Treaty of Hamburg.

1807 A grand jury indicted former Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr on a charge of treason.

1807 Most of the English town of Chudleigh was destroyed by fire.

1809 On the second and last day of the Battle of Aspern-Essling (near Vienna), Napoleon was repelled by an enemy army for the first time.

1813 Richard Wagner, German composer, was born (d. 1883).

1819 The SS Savannah left port at Savannah, Georgia, on a voyage to become the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

1826  HMS Beagle departed on its first voyage.

1840 The transporting of British convicts to the New South Wales colony was abolished.

1842 Farmers Lester Howe and Henry Wetsel discovered Howe Caverns when they stumbled upon a large hole in the ground.

1843 Thousands of people and their cattle headed west via wagon train from Independence, Missouri to what would later become the Oregon Territory . They were part of the Great Migration.

1844 Persian Prophet The Báb announced his revelation, founding Bábism. He announced to the world the coming of “He whom God shall make manifest”.

1848 Slavery was abolished in Martinique.

1856  Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina beat Senator Charles Sumner with a cane in the hall of the United States Senate for a speech Sumner had made attacking Southerners who sympathized with the pro-slavery violence in Kansas (“Bleeding Kansas“).

1859  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, British physician and writer, was born  (d. 1930).

1871  The U.S. Army issued an order for abandonment of Fort Kearny in Nebraska.

1872  Reconstruction: U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Amnesty Act of 1872 into law restoring full civil rights to all but about 500 Confederate sympathizers.

1884  The first representative New Zealand rugby team played its first match, defeating a Wellington XV 9-0.

First NZ Rugby team in action

1897 The Blackwall Tunnel under the River Thames was officially opened.

1903 Launch of the White Star Liner,  SS Ionic.

1906 The 1906 Summer Olympics, not now recognized as part of the official Olympic Games, opened in Athens.

1906  The Wright brothers were granted U.S. patent number 821,393 for their “Flying-Machine”.

1907 Laurence Olivier, English stage and screen actor, was born  (d. 1989).

1915 Lassen Peak eruptsed.

1915 Three trains collided in the Quintinshill rail crash near Gretna Green,, killing 227 people and injuring 246.

1936 Aer Lingus (Aer Loingeas) was founded by the Irish government as the national airline of the Republic of Ireland.

1936  M. Scott Peck, American psychiatrist and writer, was born  (d. 2005).

1939 World War II: Germany and Italy signed the Pact of Steel.

1942  Mexico entered World War II on the side of the Allies.

1942 The Steel Workers Organizing Committee disbanded, and a new trade union, the United Steelworkers, was formed.

1946  George Best, Northern Irish footballer, was born  (d. 2005).

1947  Cold War: in an effort to fight the spread of Communism, U.S. President Harry S. Truman signed the Truman Doctrine granting $400 million in military and economic aid to Turkey and Greece, each battling an internal Communist movement.

1958  Sri Lankan riots of 1958: a watershed event in the race relationship of the various ethnic communities of Sri Lanka. The total number of deaths is estimated to be 300, mostly Sri Lankan Tamils.

1950 Bernie Taupin, English songwriter, was born.

1955 Iva Davies, Australian rock star (Icehouse), was born.

1960 An earthquake measuring 9.5 on the moment magnitude scale, now known as the Great Chilean Earthquake, hit southern Chile – the most powerful earthquake ever recorded.

1962  Continental Airlines Flight 11 crashed after bombs explode on board.

1963  Assassination attempt of Greek left-wing politician Gregoris Lambrakis.

1964 U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the goals of his Great Society social reforms to bring an “end to poverty and racial injustice” in America.

1967  The L’Innovation department store in the centre of Brussels burned down – the most devastating fire in Belgian history, resulting in 323 dead and missing and 150 injured.

1968 The nuclear-powered submarine the USS Scorpion sank with 99 men aboard 400 miles southwest of the Azores.

1969  Apollo 10‘s lunar module flew within 8.4 nautical miles (16 km) of the moon’s surface.

1970 Naomi Campbell, British model and actress, was born.

1972  Ceylon adoptseda new constitution, ecoming a Republic, changed its name to Sri Lanka, and joined the Commonwealth of Nations.

1980  Namco released the arcade game Pac-Man.

1990  Microsoft released the Windows 3.0 operating system.

1992  After 30 years, 66-year-old Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show for the last time.

1995 – Waikato-Tainui signed a Deed of Settlement with the Crown.

Waikato-Tainui sign Deed of Settlement with the Crown

1997  Kelly Flinn, US Air Force’s first female bomber pilot certified for combat, accepted a general discharge in order to avoid a court martial.

1998 Lewinsky scandal: a federal judge ruled that United States Secret Service agents could be compelled to testify before a grand jury.

2002 – A jury in Birmingham, Alabama, convicted former Ku Klux Klan member Bobby Frank Cherry of the 1963 murders of four girls in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.

2003 Annika Sörenstam became the first woman to play the PGA Tour in 58 years.

2004  Hallam, Nebraska, was wiped out by a powerful F4 tornado (part of the May 2004 tornado outbreak sequence) that broke a width record at 2.5 miles (4.0 km) wide, and killed one resident.

2008  The Late-May 2008 tornado outbreak sequence unleashed 235 tornadoes, including an EF4 and an EF5 tornado, between 22 May and 31 May 2008. The tornadoes struck 19 US states and one Canadian province.

2011– An EF5 Tornado struck the US city of Joplin, Missouri killing 161 people, the single deadliest US tornado since modern record keeping began in 1950.

2012 – Tokyo Skytree was opened to public. It is the tallest tower in world (634 m), and the second tallest man-made structure on Earth, after Burj Khalifa (829.8 m).

2013 – British soldier Lee Rigby was murdered in a London Street.

2014 – General Prayuth Chan-ocha of the Royal Thai Armed Forces announced a military coup d’état, following six months of political turmoil.

2014 – An explosion occurred in the city ofÜrümqi, the capital of China’s far-western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, resulting in at least 43 deaths and 91 injuries.

 

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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