366 days of gratitude

August 15, 2016

The first of our calves have moved out of the sheds in which they’re sheltered and fed when they’re very young and a small herd of them is now in the paddock outside my kitchen window.

They spend much of their day attending to the serious business of eating and drinking but every now and then they pause to play – running, jumping and obviously enjoying themselves.

They’re the first sign of spring. They’re also a reminder of the joy of play and I’m grateful for that.


Word of the day

August 15, 2016

Fain – pleased or willing under the circumstances; gladly; compelled by the circumstances; obliged.


NZ on top per capita

August 15, 2016

New Zealand is on top of the Olympic medal tally on a per capita basis according to Statistics NZ:

On a medals per capita basis, New Zealand now ranks at the top of the table with two gold medals and six silver at the Rio Olympics, Statistics NZ said today.

With eight medals overall at the half way stage at Rio, New Zealand is the highest performing country, with the equivalent of 1.77 medals for every one million people.

Slovenia is second on 1.45 medals for every one million people. Hungary and Denmark are third and fourth respectively, with Fiji coming in fifth based on its one gold for the men’s rugby sevens win.

However, on a per capita basis for gold medals alone, Fiji tops the table, with its one gold for a population of just under 900,000. On that basis, New Zealand’s two gold medals leave it in sixth place, with a population of more than 4.5 million.

During the weekend, Mahe Drysdale’s single sculls gold medal was the high point for the New Zealand team.

On Saturday, New Zealand won two silver medals, for shot-putter Valerie Adams and at the rowing where Genevieve Behrent and Rebecca Scown also picked up a medal in the pair.

 Graph, Gold medals per million population, provisional count (15 August 2016), Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Graph, Medals per million population, provisional count (15 August 2016), Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Olympic Medals Per Capita   also ranks countries by medals per GDP.

1 Grenada 1 0.82 0.82
2 North Korea 6 22.00 3.67
3 Fiji 1 3.81 3.81
4 Mongolia 2 8.56 4.28
5 Jamaica 3 15.07 5.02
6 Kyrgyzstan 1 5.92 5.92
7 Georgia 2 14.37 7.18
8 Ethiopia 4 31.71 7.93
9 Uzbekistan 5 45.36 9.07
10 Hungary 13 140.03 10.77
11 Kenya 3 33.62 11.21
12 Cuba 5 60.81 12.16
13 Belarus 4 55.14 13.78
14 Lithuania 3 42.73 14.24
15 New Zealand 8 130.68 16.33
16 Slovenia 3 49.54 16.51
17 Kosovo 1 18.84 18.84
18 Croatia 3 63.85 21.28
19 Bahrain 1 21.90 21.90
20 Estonia 1 22.18 22.18

It also gives a weighted medals per capita where where gold is worth four points, silver two and bronze one:

1 Grenada 2 106,825 53,412
2 Fiji 4 892,145 223,036
3 New Zealand 20 4,595,700 229,785
4 Slovenia 7 2,063,768 294,824
5 Jamaica 9 2,725,941 302,882
6 Hungary 31 9,844,686 317,570
7 Croatia 10 4,224,404 422,440
8 Denmark 13 5,676,002 436,615
9 Kosovo 4 1,859,203 464,800
10 Australia 47 23,781,169 505,982
11 Great Britain 99 65,138,232 657,961
12 Bahrain 2 1,377,237 688,618
13 Switzerland 12 8,286,976 690,581
14 Lithuania 4 2,910,199 727,549
15 Netherlands 23 16,936,520 736,370
16 Sweden 13 9,798,871 753,759
17 Puerto Rico 4 3,474,182 868,545
18 Slovakia 6 5,424,050 904,008
19 Mongolia 3 2,959,134 986,378
20 Belgium 11 11,285,721 1,025,974

Rural round-up

August 15, 2016

Unreliable rain reduces sheep numbers – Kate Taylor:

The seasons are changing at Patoka Station and less reliable rainfall is affecting the way it’s farmed. Kate Taylor reports.

It looks green but the grass is much shorter than normal for late winter on Patoka Station in Hawke’s Bay.

That picture is about to change, though owners Ben and Suzie Crosse are unaware of it as they discuss their upcoming lambing, starting from August 31. A storm is approaching the central North Island and will dump 190mm of freezing-cold rain on the 1200ha farm.

The farm has monthly records going back to 1948 but the rainfall hasn’t been reliable lately, Ben says. . . 

Biggest year’ ever for avocado growers

With avocados back on the menu, New Zealand growers are gearing up for their best season ever.

That’s according to John Carroll, director of the country’s largest exporter Avoco, who says his firm expects to ship off about 3.2 million trays of the fruit in the coming months.

In total, 5.1 million trays, about 28,000 tonnes, are predicted to depart our shores, mainly bound for Australia and Asia. . . 

Forest industry’s challenge to manage supply fluctuations:

The pan forest and timber processing industry organisation, the New Zealand Wood Council (Woodco) says there is a supply challenge for many regions in the domestic processing industry.

Woodco Chair, Brian Stanley says timber processors are being hindered by a current lack of logs, especially in the higher grades.

He says small scale woodlot owners are being enticed into quick export contracts instead, where the buyers are not providing the domestic processors with an opportunity to purchase these logs. . . 

Deputy PM Bill English visits Blue River dairy factory – Dave Nicoll:

It was a bit surreal for Deputy Prime Minister Bill English to see award winning cheeses named after places his mother grew up.

English made a special visit to the Blue River Dairy factory in Invercargill on Friday as part of a trip to the Southland region.

Blue River Dairy produced a number of award winning cheeses, and milk powder from sheep milk and has expanded into exporting sheep milk baby formula into China. . . 

Fonterra Announces New Palm Products Sourcing Standard:

Fonterra has adopted a new standard for sourcing of palm products as part of its commitment to sustainability.

The standard was developed in consultation with key supply partners, and it follows discussions with Greenpeace that began in December 2015 to strengthen Fonterra’s existing sustainable palm products sourcing procedures.

“The new standard requires us to purchase only segregated supply palm oil by 2018, and to work with suppliers of palm products to ensure that plans are in place for full traceability to plantation by 2018,” said Fonterra’s Director of Social Responsibility, Carolyn Mortland. . . 

Action to help farming productivity in Manawatu-Whanganui:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says $465,000 towards primary sector initiatives in the ‘Accelerate 25 Manawatū-Whanganui Economic Action Plan’ launched today will make a real difference to the region.

“Manawatū-Whanganui has the largest sheep flock and beef herds of any region in the country, and half of New Zealand’s lamb exports come from within two hours’ drive of Feilding. We need farming to do well to drive economic prosperity here,” says Mr Guy.

Speaking at Ross and Wendy Humphrey’s farm in Cheltenham, Mr Guy says much of the funding will be used for information sharing to lift productivity.   . . 

Report shows good results from flood recovery money:

A report on Government assistance to farmers following the June 2015 Taranaki-Horizons storm shows that good results were achieved, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“These storms had a major impact on the region and caused widespread damage, so it’s pleasing to see that Government funding has made a real difference,” says Mr Guy.

“The storm on 18-20 June 2015 brought widespread heavy rainfall, flooding and erosion to the Taranaki and Horizons regions. Hill sheep and beef farmers were particularly affected by flooding of river margins and damage to tracks and fences, with damage also to dairy land and young forest plantations.” . . 

Wools of New Zealand well set for end of grower-funding

Wools of New Zealand (WNZ) Chairman Mark Shadbolt says the company is making strong commercial progress with an expected maiden profit for the 2016 financial year.

Shadbolt was responding to a recent shareholder comment in a local rural newspaper that the company would “almost certainly fail” without income from farmers’ Wool Market Development Commitment (WMDC).

“To the contrary, WNZ is making investments that are reducing the company’s reliance on the WMDC.” . .

Commission releases draft report on Fonterra’s 2015/16 base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2015/16 dairy season. The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays to farmers for raw milk and it is currently set by Fonterra at $3.90 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2015/16 season just ended. The report does not cover the forecast 2016/17 price of $4.25 that Fonterra recently announced.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation each year at the end of the dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

Deputy Chair Sue Begg said Fonterra’s calculation of the 2015/16 base milk price is consistent with both the efficiency and contestability purposes of DIRA. . . 


Shareholders back SFF

August 15, 2016

Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders have backed the board in its plan to enter into partnership with Shanghai Maling:

A strong majority of 80.4% of votes in favour of the 50/50 partnership with Shanghai Maling reinforced Silver Fern Farms Board’s position that the partnership is in the best interests of shareholders and the Co-operative.

The resounding support from shareholders came at a Special Meeting requisitioned by Messrs John Shrimpton, Blair Gallagher and a group which included 31 other shareholders who supported a statement stating they wanted to stop the $261m investment into Silver Fern Farms.

The 80.4% of shareholders’ votes in support of the partnership follows the result of the October 2015 vote, where 82% of votes cast supported the transaction. Both vote results exceeded the 75% Special Resolution threshold put forward by the Requisitioners. Chairman Rob Hewett said it was pleasing shareholders remained overwhelmingly supportive of the partnership.

“While the Board has clearly stated its view that the outcome of this meeting could not bind the company given the valid and binding approval last October, it is pleasing to see shareholders reaffirm their support and maintain their confidence in this exciting opportunity to create a sustainable Silver Fern Farms,” Mr Hewett said.

Mr Hewett said the partnership would create a strong Silver Fern Farms.

“This partnership will enable us to generate higher, sustainable returns for our shareholders.

“Shareholders have again made it clear they want progress for their company. They want meaningful change and are genuinely excited about the prospects presented through this significant investment and partnership with Shanghai Maling.

“The Board has strongly disagreed with the negative stance on the transaction taken by Messrs Shrimpton and Gallagher. They have caused significant disruption and their actions have been damaging to the company. Their allegations have proven to be entirely unfounded. Independent reviews by both the Financial Markets Authority and the Registrar of Companies have found no issue with the information provided to shareholders in October 2015 or the actions of the Directors.

Chief Executive Dean Hamilton said the process to complete the transaction had continued with all outstanding information now with the Overseas Investment Office for its consideration.

“We remain confident that we will achieve OIO approval prior to 30 September, and proceed to complete the transaction by 4 January 2017 as previously announced.

“The clear message from the voters is to get on with it, and realise this opportunity ahead of us.”

2610 shareholders voted representing 62.15% of eligible votes.

John Shrimpton says he accepts that shareholders have spoken.

New Zealand First which has also been a very vocal opponent of the plan continues to show it doesn’t understand the issue:

New Zealand First says Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders will regret selling majority control of their co-op to the Chinese but expects the Overseas Investment Office will greenlight it at breakneck speed.

“Today was the owners of Silver Fern Farms last chance to preserve one of New Zealand’s great assets for present and future farmers,” Mr Peters says. . . 

“How is it that foreigners can see value in what we produce, but the producers and this government can’t? Meat progressively joins forestry and increasingly dairying to condemn farmers as price takers at the bottom of the heap. . . 

This was a matter for shareholders not politicians.

SFF needs a large investment if it is to survive. Shareholders weren’t prepared to invest more and the company wasn’t able to get other investment from within New Zealand.

If the partnership doesn’t go ahead the company has no future, and even if it does get OIO approval, SFF has a lot of work ahead of it.

The deal leaves Alliance Group as the only co-operative in the meat industries, farmers who prefer that model can choose to support that company.


Glyphosate unlikely to cause cancer – EPA

August 15, 2016

Glyphosate,  is unlikely to cause cancer in people, according to a new safety review by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

It’s a herbicide widely used in agriculture and by gardeners, and one of the most common brands using it is Roundup which has been targeted by people and organisations opposed to sprays.

The report commissioned by the EPA concludes that based on the weight of evidence, ‘the broad-spectrum herbicide is unlikely to be carcinogenic and should not be classified as a mutagen or carcinogen under the HSNO Act’. This is the latest in a long line of technical and scientific reports by expert bodies and regulators confirming the safety of glyphosate.

Agcarm chief executive, Mark Ross says, “I urge our councils and communities to take heed of this report and rest assured that the use of glyphosate in our parks, gardens and play areas poses no threat to the health of our people, pets or children.

“Glyphosate is an efficient and cost-effective means to keeping our country weed-free, our agricultural economy growing, and our environment protected.”

Agcarm commends the EPA for conducting this review and addressing the concerns that the public has raised about the herbicide. The results help to curtail the fear-mongering around the use of crop protection products – which are among the most highly-regulated substances in the world.

Experts from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) recently concluded that glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet.”

The European Food Safety Authority, an independent agency funded by the European Union, also concluded that glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans”.

“I anticipate that we can put this matter to bed and continue to use a very practical, economic and safe solution – so we can keep our parks and gardens weed-free,” says Ross.

Glyphosate has recorded over 40 years of safe use and has been the subject of over 800 studies, all of which confirmed its safety. It continues to be rigorously tested by regulators in New Zealand and throughout the world, with more than 160 countries approving its safe use.

Unlikely to be carcinogenic  is unlikely to satisfy those most strongly opposed to glyphosate but there are few absolute certainties in these matters and it is virtually impossible to say anything is 100% safe. Even water, on which all life depends, can kill if ingested in sufficient quantities.

Agcarm is the industry association of companies which manufacture, distribute and sell products which include glyphosate and is not a disinterested party but the EPA is unbiased and bases its finding on research.

Its report is here and concludes that there is no convincing evidence of an association between glyphosate exposure and the development of cancer in humans. .


Having problems commenting?

August 15, 2016

An email from a reader has alerted me to problems with comments:

When typing in the comment box it just freezes sometimes as early as the second letter entered.

 Sometimes solved by closing the page and restarting at scratch.

This isn’t happening at other sites which suggests it’s this site not the reader’s computer.

If you’re having problems could you please let me know so I can alert the fix-it people at WordPress.

If you can’t do that by leaving a comment you’ll find my email address on the about page.


Quote of the day

August 15, 2016

One hour of life, crowded to the full with glorious action, and filled with noble risks, is worth whole years of those mean observances of paltry decorum, in which men steal through existence, like sluggish waters through a marsh, without either honor or observation. Sir Walter Scott who was born on this day in 1771.


August 15 in history

August 15, 2016

778 The Battle of Roncevaux Pass, at which Roland was killed.

927 The Saracens conquered and destroy Taranto.

982  Holy Roman Emperor Otto II was defeated by the Saracens in the battle of Capo Colonna.

1018 Byzantine general Eustathios Daphnomeles blinded and capturedIbatzes of Bulgaria by a ruse, ending Bulgarian resistance against Emperor Basil II’s conquest of Bulgaria.

1040  King Duncan I was killed in battle against his first cousin and rivalMacbeth.

1057  King Macbeth was killed at the Battle of Lumphanan by the forces of Máel Coluim mac Donnchada.

1185  The cave city of Vardzia was consecrated by Queen Tamar of Georgia.

1248  The foundation stone of Cologne Cathedral, built to house the relics of the Three Wise Men, was laid.

1261 Michael VIII Palaeologus was crowned Byzantine emperor.

1309  The city of Rhodes surrendered to the forces of the Knights of St. John, completing their conquest of Rhodes. The knights establish their headquarters on the island and renamed themselves the Knights of Rhodes.

1461 The Empire of Trebizond surrendered to the forces of Sultan Mehmet II – regarded by some historians as the real end of the Byzantine Empire. Emperor David was exiled.

1534 Saint Ignatius of Loyola and six classmates took initial vows, leading to the creation of the Society of Jesus in September 1540.

1599  Nine Years War: Battle of Curlew Pass – Irish forces led by Hugh Roe O’Donnell successfully ambushed English forces, led by Sir Conyers Clifford, sent to relieve Collooney Castle.

1760  Seven Years’ War: Battle of Liegnitz – Frederick the Great’s victory over the Austrians under Ernst von Laudon.

1769  Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, was born (d. 1821).

1771  Sir Walter Scott, Scottish novelist and poet, was born (d. 1832).

1824 Freed American slaves founded Liberia.

1843  The Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu, Hawaii was dedicated.

1843  Tivoli Gardens amusement park  opened in Copenhagen.

1869  Henrietta Vinton Davis, American elocutionist, was born (d. 1941).

1863 The Anglo-Satsuma War began between the Satsuma Domain of Japan and the United Kingdom.

1875 Samuel Taylor-Coleridge, English composer, was born (d. 1912).

1893 Leslie Comrie, New Zealand astronomer and computing pioneer, was born (d. 1950).

1907 Ordination in Constantinople of Fr. Raphael Morgan, first African-American Orthodox priest, “Priest-Apostolic” to America and the West Indies.

1909  A group of mid-level Greek Army officers launched the Goudi coup, seeking wide-ranging reforms.

1912  Julia Child, American cook (d. 2004)

1912 – Dame Wendy Hiller, English actress (d. 2003).

1914  Julian Carlton, servant of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, set fire to the living quarters of the architect’s home, Taliesin, and  mudered seven people.

1914 The Panama Canal opened to traffic with the transit of the cargo ship Ancon.

1924 Robert Bolt, English playwright and screenwriter, was born (d. 1995).

1935 Will Rogers and Wiley Post were killed after their aircraft develops engine problems during takeoff.

1939  13 Stukas dived into the ground during a disastrous air-practice at Neuhammer.

1940  An Italian submarine torpedoed and sank the Greek cruiser Elli at Tinos harbour, marking the most serious Italian provocation prior to the outbreak of the Greco-Italian War in October.

1941  Corporal Josef Jakobs was executed by firing squad at the Tower of London making him the last person to be executed at the Tower for treason.

1942  Operation Pedestal – The SS Ohio reached the island of Malta barely afloat carrying vital fuel supplies for the island’s defenses.

1944 : Operation Dragoon – Allied forces landed in southern France.

1945  Victory over Japan Day – Japan surrendered.

In New Zealand VJ Day was celebrated. Sirens immediately sounded, a national ceremony was held, and the local celebrations followed.

The war is over! VJ Day

1945 – World War II: Korean Liberation Day.

1947  India gained independence from the United Kingdom and becomes an independent nation within the Commonwealth.

1947 – Founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah was sworn in as first Governor General of Pakistan at Karachi.

1948 The Republic of Korea was established south of the 38th parallel north.

1950 Princess Anne, Princess Royal, was born.

1951 The troop ship Wahine  was wrecked en route to the Korean War.

Troop ship Wahine wrecked en route to Korean War

1954 Stieg Larsson, Swedish writer, was born (d. 2004).

1954 Alfredo Stroessner began his dictatorship in Paraguay.

1952 A flashflood in Lynmouth,Devon, killed 34 people.

1960  Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville) became independent from France.

1961Conrad Schumann fled from East Germany while on duty guarding the construction of the Berlin Wall.

1962  James Joseph Dresnok defected to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea after running across the Korean DMZ.

1963 Execution of Henry John Burnett, the last man to be hanged in Scotland.

1963  President Fulbert Youlou was overthrown in the Republic of Congo, after a three-day uprising in the capital.

1965 – The Beatles played to nearly 60,000 fans at Shea Stadium in New York City, in an event later seen as marking the birth of stadium rock.

1969 The Woodstock Music and Art Festival opened.

1971  President Richard Nixon completed the break from the gold standardby ending convertibility of the United States dollar into gold by foreign investors.

1972 Ben Affleck, American actor, was born.

1973 Vietnam War: The United States bombing of Cambodia ended.

1974  Yuk Young-soo, First Lady of South Korea, was killed during an apparent assassination attempt on President Park Chung-hee.

1975  Bangladesh’s founder Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and most members of his family were killed during a military coup.

1975 Miki Takeo made the first official pilgrimage to Yasukuni Shrine by an incumbent prime minister on the anniversary of the end of World War II.

1977  The Big Ear, a radio telescope operated by Ohio State University received a radio signal from deep space; the event is named the “Wow! signal” from the notation made by a volunteer on the project.

1984 The PKK in Turkey started a campaign of armed attacks upon the Turkish military

1998  Omagh bomb in Northern Ireland, the worst terrorist incident of The Troubles.

1999  Beni Ounif massacre in Algeria; some 29 people were killed at a false roadblock near the Moroccan border.

2007  An 8.0-magnitude earthquake off the Pacific coast devastated Ica and various regions of Peru killing 514 and injuring 1,090.

2013 – At least 27 people were killed and 226 injured in an explosion in southern Beirut near a complex used by Lebanon’s militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon. A previously unknown Syrian Sunni group claimed responsibility in an online video.

2013 – The Smithsonian announced the discovery of the olinguito, the first new carnivoran species found in the Americas in 35 years.

2015 – North Korea moved its clock back half an hour to introduce Pyongyang Time, 8½ hours ahead of UTC.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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