366 days of gratitude

August 2, 2016

We’ve had an unusually warm winter but the last few days have reminded us which season it is.

Sunday was showery, yesterday was one of those cloudy days with a southerly straight from Antarctica and we woke to a heavy frost this morning.

But the sky was cloudless, the sun shone all day and at last we’re getting more daylight hours for which I’m very grateful.


Word of the day

August 2, 2016

Inculpate – to charge with fault; blame; accuse;  involve in a charge; incriminate.


Not guilty not necessarily innocent

August 2, 2016

Justice Minister Amy Adams has confirmed that David Bain’s application for compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment has been concluded:

“This case has been one of the most complex, unique and high profile cases New Zealand has ever known,” says Ms Adams.

Ian Callinan QC, a former Justice of Australia’s highest court, was appointed by Ms Adams on 19 March 2015 to provide advice on Mr Bain’s claim. Mr Callinan’s report was received by the Minister on 27 January 2016.

“Mr Callinan’s report found that Mr Bain has not established his innocence on the balance of probabilities. As such, no statement of innocence or compensation payment will be made to Mr Bain.

“However, the Crown recognises that the compensation application process has lasted nearly six and a half years and that this has been an incredibly difficult and complicated case for all involved. Reaching this point has taken longer than anyone would have wanted it to.

“In addition, since receiving Mr Callinan’s final report it has become evident that Mr Bain and his advisors didn’t accept Mr Callinan’s findings. They made it absolutely clear that they intended to legally challenge that report, leading to considerable further cost and delay in this matter.

“While the Crown is confident in the strength of its position in any such review, it’s clearly desirable to bring finality to this case and avoid the cost and uncertainty of further proceedings.

“In my view, no one benefits from this matter continuing to drag on. In light of that, the Crown has agreed to make an ex gratia payment of $925,000 in recognition of the time involved and expenses incurred by Mr Bain during the compensation process, and the desirability of avoiding further litigation.”

Mr Bain has accepted this payment in full and final settlement of all matters.

“This resolution is a pragmatic one that recognises the unique circumstances of this case and a desire on all sides to bring this matter to a close,” says Ms Adams.

“While many New Zealanders hold strong views on the case, the complexities of the evidence and the opinions that evidence has given rise to, are such that those views are likely to continue to be firmly held without clear resolution.”

“While the issue has divided opinion in New Zealand, I am satisfied that the matter has at least now been concluded.”

The Minister is quite clear the payment is an ex gratia one and not compensation but that won’t stop others using it as a precedent.

The two Callinan reports are  here and here.

From part way down page 114 in the first one, Mr Callinan lists objective or otherwise incontestable facts.

From page 118 he lists contestable facts.

From page 138 he gives his conclusion and the reasons for it.

New Zealand juries are required to find people guilty or not guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If the jury has reasonable doubt as to the accused’s guilt it has to opt for not guilty.

Being found not guilty beyond reasonable doubt doesn’t mean the accused has been proven to be innocent.

Unlike in a court, Bain and his supporters had to provide enough evidence to find him innocent and Mr Callinan found they were unable to do so.


Rural-round up

August 2, 2016

If bees go, so does our agricultural sector – study :

New Zealand’s agricultural sector stands to lose up to $700 million a year if bee numbers continue to fall, according to a new study.

Beehives have been declining in numbers across the world in recent years, including New Zealand, in a process known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). It’s not yet known what’s behind CCD.

Rather than calculate the financial impact using “desktop calculations around the value of crops and the dependency of those crops on pollinators”, researchers at Lincoln University instead went out to commercial fields and covered some of the plants, to see what impact it had in seed yields and fertilisation. . . 

NZ’s tech and agriculture crossover – building the talent pool – Sophie Stanley:

Agriculture used to be New Zealand’s main bread and butter.

Our small Pacific nation at the edge of the earth was bred on a “number eight wire” mentality, where ingenuity and resourcefulness was at the core of what we did, and the number of sheep was 10-fold the number of people.

Turning pieces of scrap metal into revolutionary ideas that caused the world to stand up and take notice is something we have always prided ourselves on. 

William Gallagher, one of the many legendary innovators who invented the trusty electric fence and lead the way in taking NZ agriculture into the future, personifies the very meaning of number 8 wire mentality. . . 

Irish shearer Ivan Scott breaks Kiwi Dion King’s world record

An Irish shearer has stolen the world record away from a Kiwi by just one lamb.

Ivan Scott broke a New Zealander’s world record with a total of 867 strongwool lambs in the UK on Sunday (local time).

The 35-year-old from Donegal, who has made New Zealand home for the shearing season, secured the title with a band of Kiwi helpers. . . 

Farmers quitting in droves and not happy about it – Andrew Marshall:

Agriculture’s fortunes might look pretty good for many at the moment, but more than a quarter of Australia’s farmers are likely to leave their farms by the end of this decade.

Ongoing research by the University of Canberra has also found farmers who are contemplating leaving their farming roles report “poorer wellbeing” compared to those who have no immediate thoughts of retirement or changing careers.

The university’s regional wellbeing study of 3000-plus farmers in 2014 found the 20,000 slump in producer numbers in the five years to 2011 (down to about 157,000) reflected a clear trend set in recent decades which was not slowing as productivity efficiency measures and farm sizes increased or farm income prospects looked up. . . 

Mackenzie Country closer to Heaven – Catherine Pattison:

A weekend away in the Mackenzie Country was just what the doctor ordered for motoring writer Catherine Pattison.

I am not a spiritual person in a religious sense but it was hard not to feel the presence of something divine after a weekend in the Mount Cook Village and the Mackenzie region.

Perhaps it was the peace and quiet, combined with the majesty of the surrounding peaks, including New Zealand’s highest mountain, the village’s namesake.

The tiny settlement has long held an appeal for tourists and mountaineers alike – enticed up the remote access road by the promise of stunning scenery or epic adventure. Nowadays the adventures are to be found within the thriving tourism industry operating from Mount Cook village. In the past, just reaching the destination was a feat of endurance. Displays at the Hermitage Hotel’s Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre describe the tourists who made the journey in 1906 as “arriving jolted almost insensible after a two-day coach trip from Fairlie”. The same journey 110 years later is a comfortable 90-minute car ride. . .

Going with the flow – Derek Grelewski:

I t’s been suggested that it’s the bicycle — not the iPhone, space shuttle or even the silent dishwasher — that is Western civilisation’s highest technological achievement.

The benefits are immeasurable: the fresh-air fitness and the wind in your hair, the scenery and peace, and the sheer pleasure of flowing along the trail at speed, leaning into corners, feeling your lips getting tired from the perpetual grin on your face.

When I moved to New Zealand in the mid-1980s, a mountain bike was one of the first things I got. I fitted it with panniers, a small tent and mobile kitchen, and clocked over 10,000km touring, ostensibly to choose a place to live.

This was how I first saw this land, and how I first came to Aoraki Mt Cook. So there is a memory-lane element to being here, looking at the mountain from a bike again, to sample the pleasures of the 300km Alps to Ocean Trail (the A2O) connecting Aoraki with Oamaru, flowing as the water does, from the mountains to the sea. . . 


Price crashes and higher taxes don’t build houses

August 2, 2016

Green co-leader Metiria Turei’s suggestion of dropping house prices by 50% was described by Prime Minister John Key as ‘barking mad’.

It would make some houses less unaffordable but it wouldn’t build more houses which is the only way to solve the problem of too few houses for the number of people wanting to rent or buy.

Crashing prices, no matter how slowly it was done, would reduce existing homeowners’ equity.

That would only be a paper loss for people who had a low or no mortgage. They’d still have their homes they just wouldn’t be worth as much.

For people with large mortgages, whether they borrowed to buy their home, set up a business or to buy other things, a price crash could leave them with no equity at all, or worse still owing more than the value of what they owned.

If they were forced to sell their houses those properties would be more affordable for some people but the sellers would have nothing with which to buy another house. All that would be have been achieved would be previous owners losing to new owners with major damage to the economy and no increase in the supply of housing.

Greens are also keen on a capital gains tax.

I’m not opposed to that in principle, as long as it was comprehensive and other taxes were lowered so the net tax take remained much the same.

But capital gains taxes don’t build houses and in other countries which have them they have done nothing to make houses more affordable.

Meanwhile schools in Auckland are finding it difficult to recruit teachers.

A survey of Auckland’s primary schools paints a picture of severe teacher shortages across the city and at every school decile level.

The struggle to recruit teachers is being described as “a nightmare” by principals who blame it largely on the high cost of housing in the city. . . 

In a statement, the Ministry of Education told RNZ News that it met regularly with Auckland’s principals to respond to their concerns about teacher supply.

A range of potential solutions were being explored, but in the meantime the ministry was working to smooth the way for overseas teachers to work in New Zealand and helping schools which had hard to fill vacancies.

Diane Manners has talked through possible solution with ministry officials said they would help, but only around the edges.

She wanted greater urgency in dealing with the problem, especially with a growing population that will mean more children needing more teachers. . . 

One solution that won’t work is to get an Auckland differential in the pay scale.

Teachers are paid the same wherever they teach. Paying Auckland teachers more would help those who already own a house but it won’t increase the housing supply. What it will do is give teachers more to spend and therefore, like any other measure which increases buying power without addressing supply, further inflate prices.

The housing problem is simply one of supply and demand.

The solution is equally simple – increase supply and/or lower demand.

The easiest way to do that is to build more houses and for some people living in areas of high demand and low supply to move to areas where demand is lower and supply is higher.

That will get supply and demand back into kilter without the collateral damage which crashing prices and increasing taxes would inflict.

P.S.

A Cromwell man has come up with an affordable, albeit compact, answer to more affordable homes:

They are warm, quiet, easily moveable and cost a fraction of a regular house to buy and Cromwell’s master of small spaces, Darryl Taylor, reckons his tiny shipping container homes could help solve Central Otago’s temporary accommodation woes. 

Taylor does admit it requires a mental leap in many people’s thinking to see a big metal box as a desirable home but following much research and experimentation, he says his converted containers are as comfortable to live in as a regular house. . . 

The containers have a “warrant-of-fitness” and are all still cargo-worthy. . . 

Some people wanted new, others liked the rustic look, Taylor said.  Built inside a warehouse, they are issued with a code of compliance from the Central Otago District Council before they go on site.

Considerable research and trial and error had gone into fitting the units out so some details would remain trade secrets, Taylor says.  He had consulted experts in engineering and other fields to help perfect the conversions, particularly in relation to ventilation. Bernice is in charge of painting the units and the pair continue to fine-tuning the finishings.

“We can now fit out a twenty footer in around six weeks and they go out the door fully code compliant. There is no condensation, they’re all double-glazed, insulated and ventilated.  They actually exceed council requirements but you do still need a building consent for your foundations.”

Ship containers were already watertight, bulletproof and resistant to earthquakes and extreme weather.  Inside Taylor added sound-deadening insulation, wooden lining, tiny bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms of all specifications.  Drop-down decking using an electric winch could be added, or normal decking built on, once the container was in place. . . 

Taylor says he sells the 6m containers for about $42,000 fully converted for small-space living.  

A 12m would cost closer to $75,000 and two this size can be bolted together to form a four bedroom home. . . 


Quote of the day

August 2, 2016

Giving women education, work, the ability to control their own income, inherit and own property, benefits the society. If a woman is empowered, her children and her family will be better off. If families prosper, the village prospers, and eventually so does the whole country.  –  Isobel Allende who celebrates her 74th birthday today.

She also said:

For women, the best aphrodisiacs are words. The G-spot is in the ears. He who looks for it below there is wasting his time.

And:

We don’t even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward. In times of tragedy, of war, of necessity, people do amazing things. The human capacity for survival and renewal is awesome.

And:

What I fear most is power with impunity. I fear abuse of power, and the power to abuse.


August 2 in history

August 2, 2016

338 BC  A Macedonian army led by Philip II defeated the combined forces of Athens and Thebes in the Battle of Chaeronea, securing Macedonian hegemony in Greece and the Aegean.

216 BC Second Punic War: Battle of Cannae – The Carthaginian army lead by Hannibal defeated a numerically superior Roman army under command of consuls Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Terentius Varro.

1377 – Russian troops were defeated in the Battle on Pyana River, while drunk.

1610  Henry Hudson sailed into what it is now known as Hudson Bay, thinking he had made it through the Northwest Passage and reached the Pacific Ocean.

1798 – French Revolutionary Wars: Battle of the Nile (Battle of Aboukir Bay) concluded with a British victory.

1835 –  Elisha Gray, American inventor and entrepreneur, was born (d. 1901).

1869 Japan’s samurai, farmer, artisan, merchant class system (Shinōkōshō) was abolished as part of the Meiji Restoration reforms.

1870  Tower Subway, the world’s first underground tube railway, opened in London.

1895 – Matt Henderson, New Zealand cricketer was born (d. 1970).

1903  Fall of the Ottoman Empire: Unsuccessful uprising led by the Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization against Ottoman,TUrkey, also known as the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising.

1916  World War I: Austrian sabotage caused the sinking of the Italian battleship Leonardo da Vinci in Taranto.

1923  Shimon Peres, Israeli politician, Prime Minister of Israel and the ninth President of Israel, was born.

1924  James Baldwin, American author, was born (d. 1987).

1924  Carroll O’Connor,  American actor, was born (d. 2001).

1925  Alan Whicker, British journalist and broadcaster, was born.

1932 Peter O’Toole, Irish-born actor, was born.

1932 – The positron (antiparticle of the electron) was discovered by Carl D. Anderson.

1934 Gleichschaltung: Adolf Hitler became Führer of Germany.

1937 The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed in America, essentially rendering marijuana and all its by-products illegal.

1939 Albert Einstein and Leó Szilárd wrote a letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt, urging him to begin the Manhattan project to develop a nuclear weapon.

1942 Isabel Allende, Chilean author, was born.

1943  Rebellion in the Nazi death camp of Treblinka.

1943  World War II: PT-109 was rammed by the Japanese destroyerAmagiri and sank. Lt. John F. Kennedy, future U.S. President, saved all but two of his crew.

1944  Birth of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia.

1945 World War II: Potsdam Conference, where the Allied Powers discussed the future of defeated Germany, concluded.

1964  Vietnam War: Gulf of Tonkin Incident – North Vietnamese gunboats allegedly fired on U.S. destroyers, USS Maddox and the USS Turner Joy.

1967  The second Blackwall Tunnel opened in Greenwich, London.

1968  The 1968 Casiguran Earthquake hit Casiguran, Aurora, Philippines killing more than 270 people and wounding 261.

1973 A flash fire killed 51 at the Summerland amusement centre at Douglas, Isle of Man.

1980  A bomb exploded at the railway station in Bologna, killing 85 people and wounding more than 200.

1983 USS Texas was met by anti-nucelar protesters while visiting  Auckland.

Protest as USS Texas visits Auckland

1985 Delta Air Lines Flight 191, a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar crashed at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport killing 137.

1989  Pakistan was re-admitted back into the Commonwealth of Nations, for restoring democracy.

1989  1989 Valvettiturai massacre by Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka killing 64 Tamil civilians.

1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait.

1992 Barbara Kendall won gold at Barcelona.

2005 –  Air France Flight 358, landed at Toronto Pearson International Airport, and ran off the runway causing the plane to burst into flames. There were 12 serious injuries but no fatalities.

2014 – At least 146 people were killed and more than 114 injured in an explosion at a factory near Shanghai.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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