366 days of gratitude

April 5, 2016

Pablo Picasso said, the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.

Today I’m grateful to the people who produce the works that do that.


Word of the day

April 5, 2016

Hypothecate – to pledge as security without delivery of title or possession;  pledge (money) by law to a specific purpose.

Hat tip: Offsetting Behaviour


Rural round-up

April 5, 2016

Smith takes out NZ top shearing title:

Shearer Rowland Smith won top honours at the New Zealand Open Championship final in Te Kuiti over the weekend.

Mr Smith won by just 0.411 points, John Kirkpatrick came second and Gavin Mutch was third.

Joel Henare won the open woolhandling final, a month after scoring his fourth consecutive Golden Shears Open title.

Doug Laing from Shearing Sports New Zealand said it was a typically exciting final. . . 

IrrigationNZ congratulates Waihao Downs Irrigation:

The opening of Waihao Downs Irrigation Scheme reinforces that irrigation will continue to be a vital ingredient for the health of rural New Zealand, regardless of the fortunes of the dairy industry, says IrrigationNZ.

The $32million Waihao Downs project will be officially opened today  by IrrigationNZ Chairwoman Nicky Hyslop, coinciding with the first day of the industry body’s bi-ennial conference.

More than 400 people will converge on Waitaki District this week to view irrigation infrastructure, hear guest speakers from around the world speak on irrigation issues and attend technical workshops. The conference opens with a Farmer’s Trade Afternoon on Tuesday (3.30pm-5.30pm) where 52 exhibitors will showcase irrigation technology, services and products to farmers and the general public. . . 

IrrigationNZ and Feds ask for scientific integrity:

IrrigationNZ and Federated Farmers say greater scrutiny of claims irrigation causes increased ‘rumbly-gut’ is needed, as recent assertions by Alison Dewes are not scientifically sound.

The industry bodies have joined forces to ask for improved scientific integrity when making claims in the media as “the validity of the argument around increased pathogen losses resulting from irrigation or water storage are not sound,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

“Our understanding is pathogen contamination of a water supply generally occurs through a direct pathway – a point source contamination. Neither irrigation nor water storage create pathogen issues, except through natural means, the increased birdlife around a water storage lake for example. The main causes of pathogen contamination are poor water treatment from domestic discharges or inadequately protected well-heads. ” says Mr Curtis. . . 

Success Helps Southland/Otago Dairy Awards Winners Keep Goals on Track:

The major winners in the 2016 Southland/Otago Dairy Industry Awards, have adapted their business to remain on track to achieve their farming goals.

The couple were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Southland/Otago Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the MLT Events Centre in Gore last night. The other big winners were Wayne Ashmore, who became the 2016 Southland/Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Chloe Mackle, the 2016 Southland/Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year. . . 

Conditions now right for recovery in global dairy prices, ASB economist Penny says – Fiona Rotherham

(BusinessDesk) – Global dairy prices will recover this year as growth in European production has now slowed, says ASB rural economist Nathan Penny.

His comments follow a Fitch Ratings report last week that forecast the modest supply response so far to low global dairy prices would prolong a recovery in prices beyond 2016.

Last month, when announcing Fonterra Cooperative Group’s half-year results, chairman John Wilson said the company and most of its global dairy peers were struggling to make predictions on the direction of global dairy prices but the imbalance in supply and demand could correct itself in the next six months. . . 

Changes to maximum allowable weight of greasy wool bales in industry code of practice:

The National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests Inc comprises associations and organisations involved in the domestic and international trading of greasy and scoured wool. The Council acts as the New Zealand member of the International Wool Textile Organisation, which represents the interests of the wool textile trade at the global level.

The National Council and its members are committed to providing a safe working environment throughout the wool industry. Increasing concerns relating to bales weighing over 200kg (which are estimated to cover approximately 6% of the national clip) have prompted the Council to address the issue. . . 

Farmers Are Awesome's photo.


Setting aside personal and political

April 5, 2016

Prime Minister John Key has announced that the government is nominating Helen Clark for the top bureaucratic job in the world – United Nations secretary-general:

Prime Minister John Key has today announced the New Zealand Government is nominating Helen Clark for the position of the United Nations Secretary-General.

“Having served as the Prime Minister of New Zealand for nine years and held one of the top jobs in the United Nations for the past seven, Helen Clark has the right mix of skills and experience for the job,” says Mr Key.

“There are major global challenges facing the world today and the United Nations needs a proven leader who can be pragmatic and effective.

“Coming from New Zealand, Helen Clark is well placed to bridge divisions and get results. She is the best person for the job.”

Helen Clark was the Prime Minister of New Zealand for three consecutive terms from 1999 to 2008 and has worked as the Administrator of the UN Development Programme for the past seven years.

“Helen Clark has a vast amount of experience in international affairs which will be hard for other candidates to match. She’s a great listener and communicator, and I know she will make a difference if elected.” . . .

There was no love lost between the former and current PM when they were political rivals.

But since she first announced her intention to seek a job in the UN he has backed her and both have put any political and personal differences aside.

The UN is good in theory but often fails to live up to its promise in practice.

The Development Programme (UNDP)’s official report, which Clark led, said much of its annual US$5.7 billion (NZ$6.8 billion) budget is only remotely connected to ending global poverty.

Whether or not the criticism is fair, it highlights the size of the challenge facing the UN and its agencies.

It and they are far from perfect.

But in spite of its failings and inadequacies, there are benefits in having the 193 member states together attempting to find solutions to many, often long-standing, problems.

And there could be benefits for New Zealand to have a New Zealander heading it.

That’s why personal and political differences should be set aside to help the former PM get the post.

I disagree with a lot of her political views but I think she is well qualified for the position of Secretary-General.

 


Too little and too much

April 5, 2016

Oh Dear.

Labour leader Andrew Little still wants to stiff-arm banks:

. . . ‘I stand by the stance I took, which is to get very heavy-handed with the banks. Because the truth is when the banks fail to follow the signal that the Reserve Bank is sending, that’s keeping money out of the back pockets of ordinary Kiwis, and I will always fight for their interests and for their rights. If the banks don’t want to play ball when it comes to the way we run our monetary policy, actually, there’s only one outfit that can really take them on, and that’s the government.’. . .

The Reserve Bank is independent because it’s not the government’s role to set interest rates.

Retail banks are independent businesses and it’s not the government’s role to tell them what interest rates they should charge.

Interest rates are at historically low levels. They are higher in New Zealand than in many other countries which is partly a reflection on overseas investors’ perception of our economic and political stability.

That would be threatened by any stiff-arming of banks by government.

State intervention would also make business more risky for banks, the lenders and their borrowers.

Little’s not the only politician on the left who wants the government to get involved in banking.

Green co-leader James Shaw wants it to give $100m to Kiwibank which Prime Minister John Key described as dangerous:

He told Morning Report he did not support the idea, as the bank would be asked to make “non-commercial loans” – putting it in a weak position.

He said the Greens were using a state-owned enterprise (SOE) to bring about a policy goal.

“But to do that would be highly dangerous, because what you will end up doing is being in a position where you’re effectively asking them to make non-commercial loans, and potentially non-commercial returns.”

Mr Key said that would be “very poor public policy” and could lead you to a situation where the bank had to be bailed out. . . 

Jim Rose at Utopia points out other flaws:

Note well that the $100 million capital injection is to expand in to commercial banking. More aggressive passing on of interest rate cuts may jeopardise credit ratings if this lowers the profitability of KiwiBank. KiwiBank has an A- rating. . .

KiwiBank is minnow in the mortgage market and a pimple in commercial lending. Rapid business expansion is risky in any market, much less in banking. . . 

The proposal to use KiwiBank to lower mortgage rates does not add up. KiwiBank does not pay much in the way of dividends to fund such a foray.  KiwiBank is already far more leveraged than any other New Zealand major bank. 

Rob Hosking points out that while the policy might have political appeal it is bad economics:

Somewhat lost in all this is the risk of a policy that will encourage New Zealanders to take on more debt. . . 

 

New Zealand’s current account deficit has been there since 1974 and although it is now lower than the peak it reached a decade ago, it is still firmly in the red.

The Scandinavian and North European countries might be running larger household debts on their balance sheets, but these are internally funded: Norway and the Netherlands, for example, are running current account surpluses of  around 10% of GDP as opposed to New Zealand’s 3% of GDP deficit.

So they can afford to run up those debts.

New Zealand cannot. And a drive to push interest rates down – a taxpayer-funded drive no less – sounds more than a little foolish given New Zealand’s long-standing economic and financial vulnerabilities. . . 

Shaw’s suggestion of $100m sounds like a lot of money and it is far too much for taxpayers but it wouldn’t be enough to help many people.

Besides, if people can’t borrow money at the current very low rates, it would be a dangerous move for them, the banks, any other creditors and the wider economy, to try to make it easier.

When Labour was in power in the 1980s interest rates were higher than 20%. When it was in power in the noughties, interest rates were in double figures, well above current rates.

There were several reasons for that and the big one which politicians could have influenced was high government spending and mismanagement of public money.

If Little and Shaw want to keep interest rates low they should be supporting the current government’s efforts to keep a tight rein on its spending and developing policies which would continue that.

That is far better policy than either stiff-arming banks or using more taxpayers’ money to prop up Kiwibank.


Quote of the day

April 5, 2016

If we had nothing but pecuniary rewards and worldly honours to look to, our profession would not be one to be desired. But in its practice you will find it to be attended with peculiar privileges, second to none in intense interest and pure pleasures. It is our proud office to tend the fleshly tabernacle of the immortal spirit, and our path, rightly followed, will be guided by unfettered truth and love unfeigned. In the pursuit of this noble and holy calling I wish you all God-speed. – Lord Joseph Lister who was born on this day in 1827.


April 5 in history

April 5, 2016

456 St. Patrick returned to Ireland as a missionary bishop.

1242 During a battle of the ice of Lake Peipus, Russian forces, led by Alexander Nevsky, rebuffed an invasion attempt by the Teutonic Knights.

1254  Willen van Rubroeck, a Flemish Franciscan, meets the Mongolian Khan Möngke

1566 Two-hundred Dutch noblemen, led by Hendrik van Brederode, forced themselves into the presence of Margaret of Parma and present the Petition of Compromise, denouncing the Spanish Inquisition in the Netherlands.

1609 – Daimyo (Lord) of the Satsuma Domain in southern Kyūshū, Japan, completed his successful invasion of the Ryūkyū Kingdom in Okinawa.

1614 Pocahontas married English colonist John Rolfe.

1621 The Mayflower set sail from Plymouth, Massachusetts on a return trip to Great Britain.

1649 – Elihu Yale, American benefactor of Yale University, was born  (d. 1721).

1722 The Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen discovered Easter Island.

1792  U.S. President George Washington exercised his authority to veto a bill, the first time this power is used in the United States.

1804 High Possil Meteorite: The first recorded meteorite in Scotland fell in Possil.

1818 In the Battle of Maipú, Chile’s independence movement – led byBernardo O’Higgins and José de San Martín – won a decisive victory over Spain, leaving 2,000 Spaniards and 1,000 Chilean patriots dead.

1827 Joseph Lister, English surgeon, was born (d. 1912).

1837 Algernon Charles Swinburne, English poet, was born (d. 1909).

1862 American Civil War: The Battle of Yorktown started.

1871 – NZ’s first overseas diplomatic post was created with Isaac Featherston’s appointment as agent-general in London.

1874 Birkenhead Park, the first civic public park,opened in Birkenhead.

1879  Chile declared war on Bolivia and Peru, starting the War of the Pacific.

1897  The Greco-Turkish War, also called “Thirty Days’ War”, was declared between Greece and the Ottoman Empire.

1900 Spencer Tracy, American actor, was born  (d. 1967).

1904 The first international rugby league match was played between England and an Other Nationalities team (Welsh & Scottish players) in Central Park, Wigan.

1908 Bette Davis, American actress, was born  (d. 1989).

1916 Gregory Peck, American actor, was born (d. 2003).

1920 Arthur Hailey, American writer, was born (d. 2004)

1923 Firestone Tire and Rubber Company began production of balloon-tyres.

1928 Tony Williams, American singer (The Platters), was born. (d. 1992)

1929 Nigel Hawthorne, British actor, was born (d. 2001).

1930  In an act of civil disobedience, Mohandas Gandhi broke British law after marching to the sea and making salt.

1932 Champion race horse Phar Lap died.

Death of Phar Lap

1932  Alcohol prohibition in Finland ended. Alcohol sales begin in Alkoliquor stores.

1932 – Dominion of Newfoundland: 10,000 rioters seized the Colonial Building leading to the end of self-government.

1933  U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6102“forbidding the Hoarding of Gold Coin, Gold Bullion, and Gold Certificates” by U.S. citizens.

1936 Tupelo-Gainesville tornado outbreak: An F5 tornado killed 233 in Tupelo, Mississippi.

1937 Colin Powell, U.S. Army General, 12th Chairman of the Joint Cheifs of Staff; and 65th Secretary of State, was born.

1937 Allan R. Thieme, American inventor, was born.

1942 World War II: The Japanese Navy attacked Colombo. Royal Navy Cruisers HMS Cornwall and HMS Dorsetshire were sunk southwest of the island.

1944 World War II: 270 inhabitants of the Greek town of Kleisoura were executed by the Germans.

1945 Cold War: Yugoslav leader Josip “Tito” Broz signed an agreement with the USSR to allow “temporary entry of Soviet troops into Yugoslav territory.”

1946 Jane Asher, British actress, was born.

1946 Soviet troops left the Danish  island of Bornholm after an 11 month occupation.

1949 Fireside Theater debuted on television.

1949 – A fire in a hospital in Effingham, Illinois, killed 77 people and leads to nationwide fire code improvements in the United States.

1950 Agnetha Fältskog, Swedish singer (ABBA), was born.

1955 Winston Churchill resigned as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom amid indications of failing health.

1956 Fidel Castro declared himself at war with the President of Cuba.

1956  In Sri Lanka, the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna won the general elections in a landslide and S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was sworn in as the Prime Minister.

1957 In India, Communists won the first elections in united Kerala andE.M.S. Namboodiripad was sworn in as the first chief minister.

1958 Ripple Rock, an underwater threat to navigation in the Seymour Narrows in Canada was destroyed in one of the largest non-nuclear controlled explosions of the time.

1966 Mike McCready, American musician (Pearl Jam), was born.

1969 Vietnam War: Massive antiwar demonstrations occured in many U.S. cities.

1971 In Sri Lanka, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna launched insurrection against the United Front government of Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

1976 The April Fifth Movement led to the Tiananmen incident.

1986 Three people were killed in the bombing of the La Belle Discothèque in West Berlin.

1991 An ASA EMB 120 crashed in Brunswick, Georgia, killing all 23 aboard.

1992 Several hundred-thousand abortion rights demonstrators marched in Washington, D.C.

1992 Alberto Fujimori,  president of Peru, dissolved the Peruvian congressby military force.

1992 The Siege of Sarajevo began when Serb paramilitaries murder peace protesters Suada Dilberovic and Olga Sucic on the Vrbanja Bridge.

1998 The Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge linking Shikoku with Honshū and costing about $3.8 billion, opened to traffic, becoming the largest suspension bridge in the world.

1999 Two Libyans suspected of bringing down Pan Am flight 103 in 1988 were handed over for eventual trial in the Netherlands.

2009 North Korea launched its controversial Kwangmyŏngsŏng-2 rocket.

2010 – Twenty-nine coal miners were killed in an explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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