Word of the day

December 5, 2017

Thongophone –  a percussive musical instrument. formed by a series of hollow PVC pipes of varying lengths, the ends of which are struck with a rubber clapper such as a thong.


World Soil Day

December 5, 2017

Today is World Soil Day.

 


Rural round-up

December 5, 2017

Oil-infused lucerne chaff a winning feed – Sally Rae:

Difficulty finding quality lucerne chaff has led to a busy enterprise for Waianakarua couple Graeme and Henrietta Purvis.

The couple, who are well known on the rodeo circuit, recently added a New Zealand-first product to their business — chopped lucerne infused with cold-pressed rapeseed oil.

Now, whether it was a winning race-horse fuelled by their lucerne or a pet lamb being reared on it, they were equally delighted to hear success stories.The story began about 20 years ago when Mr Purvis had a sick horse and could only find poor quality chaff to feed it.

“I thought, I could do better than that”, he recalled. . . 

Some vineyards struggling to cope with dry weather – Adriana Weber:

Some vineyards are desperately trying to find enough workers to cope with the workload brought on by the dry spell.

An Otago grape grower and viticulturist, James Dicey, said the hot conditions had meant there had been a huge amount of early growth.

He said that had resulted in the vineyard quickly falling behind in the work normally done at this time of year.

Mr Dicey said the conditions were very rare for so early in the season.

“Relentlessly hot and relentlessly dry. Since the beginning of September, we have effectively, apart from one 20 millimetre rainfall, been bone dry,” he said. . . 

NZ farmer confidence remains at net positive levels overall:

New Zealand farmer confidence remains at net positive levels overall, but has dropped sharply from the record highs recorded in the previous two quarters, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.

While more farmers expect the rural economy to improve than those expecting it to worsen, the overall reading dropped sharply to a net confidence measure of +13 per cent from +38 per cent last survey.

The survey – completed last month – found the number of farmers expecting the rural economy to improve in the next 12 months had fallen to 29 per cent (down from 46 per cent last quarter), 49 per cent were expecting similar conditions (up from 42 per cent) and the number expecting the rural economy to worsen rose to 16 per cent (up from 8 per cent). . . 

Lynch family:

When it comes to running their dairy and livestock operation Kate and Gerard Lynch are less concerned with ensuring they have the most high tech gadgets and more concerned with getting the basics right, day in, day out.

It’s a commitment the couple share although Kate is the first to admit that some days it’s easier than others. “We’ve tried to instil across the business how important it is to do things well every day, on the days when you’re sloshing through mud in sleeting rain as well as on the nice, sunny days,” she said.

“Agriculture is the same as anywhere, if you are running your own business, every dollar counts so you can’t afford to just let things slide. Whether it’s paying attention to every cow to ensure they’re in peak health, clearing up the shed in the evening or ensuring machinery is serviced on time, the simple things make a big difference.” . . 

Public invited to Lincoln University Dairy Farm for Fonterra Open Gates Day:

The Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF) its opening its gates, along with a number of others, on December 10 to show off its environmental management.

It is holding an Open Day as part of the Fonterra Open Gates Day which is highlighting how farmers, along with the rest of New Zealand, care about what is happening with our waterways and the environment. . . 

Fonterra open gate days a missed opportunity to mix with Greenpeace, Safe and other critics – Gerald Piddock:

Fonterra and their farmers deserve a pat on the back for organising the open gate days on farms taking place on December 10.

It’s a good initiative and will hopefully be well supported.

The only concern I have is the people who will go are either fellow farmers or those associated with the industry. That’s preaching to the converted.

They are not the people the industry needs to reach. . .

Like it or not Africa’s future lies in GM crops – Karen Batra:

Short-sighted opposition to biotechnology leaves farmers across the continent at the mercy of pests, disease and worse, writes Matt Ridley in The Times:

An even more dangerous foe than Robert Mugabe is stalking Africa. Early last year, a moth caterpillar called the fall armyworm, a native of the Americas, turned up in Nigeria. It has quickly spread across most of Africa. This is fairly terrifying news, threatening to undo some of the unprecedented improvements in African living standards of the past two decades. Many Africans depend on maize for food, and maize is the fall armyworm’s favorite diet.

Fortunately, there is a defense to hand. Bt maize, grown throughout the Americas for many years, is resistant to insects. The initials stand for a bacterium that produces a protein toxic to insects but not to people. Organic farmers have been using the bacterium as a pesticide for more than five decades, but it is expensive. Bt maize has the protein inside the plant, thanks to genetic engineers, who took a gene from the bacterium and put it in the plant. Bt maize has largely saved Brazil’s maize crop from fall armyworms. . . 


For the sake of the other families

December 5, 2017

Each time I read or hear reports about Pike River families agitating for a retrieval of the bodies of the men who were killed there I wonder about the other families.

You’d not know it from most reports, but some of the bereaved families have accepted that their men are dead and the mine where they died will be their grave.

How hard it must be for them to get on with their lives when time and time again the disaster and the ongoing saga of re-entry hit the headlines.

The latest news is that the liability for anything that goes wrong in a re-entry will like with the Pike River chief executive, not the Minister for Pike River, Andrew Little.

Documents on the Pike River Recovery Agency show that while the Minister will decide whether a re-entry goes ahead, it will be the agency’s chief executive who will be liable if any re-entry goes wrong, National Party Workplace Relations Spokesperson Amy Adams says.

“This Government has continued to make entering Pike River a political decision but this is patently wrong. While there’s been lots of talk about how Mr Little will be responsible for his decisions, it will be some poor senior public servant who carries the can.

“It is wrong to put a Chief Executive in this position. He or she will have to carry out what their political masters decide in a very unsafe environment. Why would any sensible person put their hand up for that job?”

Sensible or not, a CE would have to resign rather than carry out a directive in the knowledge he or she was putting lives at risk.

Ms Adams says the Coalition went against official advice which was to make the final decision-maker independent of politicians.

“That would have been the responsible approach which fairly reflected the dangers of re-entering the mine. This undermines the very health and safety laws which were strengthened in the wake of the Pike River disaster to try and ensure it never happens again.”

The one good thing to come out of the disaster was the strengthening of health and safety laws. It would be a travesty if they were to be breached by order of a politician.

Ms Adams also notes that the mission of the agency has changed from the Government’s pre-election commitments.

“Up until now all their talk has been about manned re-entry into the mine. Now the papers tell us it’s about achieving manned re-entry of the drift only, all bar 400 metres of which has already been explored.”

The families’ quest for answers is understandable but that quest can’t risk more lives.

John Armstrong writes that Little’s real role as Minister is to let the families down gently:

Little will have to judge what level of risk is acceptable. The answer to that question has been staring Labour in the face. The answer is none.

It is both morally reprehensible and incomprehensibly stupid to place another human being in an environment where death and injury have already proved to be beyond human control.

Rather than humming the Red Flag in solidarity with the miners’ families, Little should be engaged in quiet persuasion that their wish to be reunited with their loved ones risks others’ loved ones suffering the same fate.

At most —and purely to save everyone’s face — a recovery team might be permitted to go part way up the drift.

For his own and Labour’s sake, the minister responsible for Pike River Re-entry needs to become the minister for No Re-Entry to Pike River, if not in name then most definitely in actions.

It is his job to gently puncture the over-inflated hopes of the families.

He needs to get the families to take ownership of the reality that re-entry cannot be a happening thing. He needs to lull them into believing they made the decision —not him nor a faceless bureaucrat chosen to run the Pike River Recovery Agency.

Executing what would be the Mother of All U-turns will require some very deft politics on Little’s part.

Thursday’s Supreme Court’s ruling that WorkSafe’s decision to withdraw its prosecution of Pike River mine boss Peter Whittall, in exchange for payments to the victims’ families, was unlawful provides an unexpected opportunity for everyone to come to their senses.

The families should rejoice in at last receiving the justice so long denied them. They should view it as a cue to drop their demand for re-entry.

That won’t happen. The families are victims alright. They are victims of politicians who have exploited their emotions without caring one jot for the consequences.

There can be no sympathy for Little even if he has deluded himself into believing he is doing the right thing by the families. . . 

The right thing by all the families is to accept, as some of them have, that the risks of re-entry are too high.

A former union head, in what’s supposed to be the workers’ party should know that safety is paramount and each new announcement is a move in that direction.

Each new announcement from the government is a step away from the original irresponsible rhetoric of unconditional re-entry.

Each new announcement includes ifs, buts and acknowledgements that safety must come first.

The honourable and sensible course of action now would be to admit that no-one can guarantee that re-entry would be safe and in doing so to help those families still stuck in the early stages of grief to accept, as the others have, that the mine where their men died is their grave.

When my first son died we waited months for the post mortem results. He’d been dead for longer than he’d lived when they finally arrived and they were somewhat of an anti-climax.

That was partly because we’d hoped the post-mortem might uncover some clues to the condition which killed him that the numerous tests during his life had not and it didn’t.  But it was also because it made me realise that regardless of what the report said, he was still dead and nothing could make that better.

The death of a baby as a result of illness for which no-one was to blame, is different in many ways from deaths in an unsafe workplace for which someone should have, but has not, been held responsible.

But no matter how it happens, death is death and it only compounds the loss if those who survive are stuck, focusing on what they’ve lost and in doing so losing what they’ve got.

Continuing to pretend that a re-entry would be possible is continuing to perpetuate a lie and it’s helping to keep some of the families stuck.

For their sakes and the sakes of the other fmailies who are no longer stuck, the government needs to be honest, stop wasting money and prolonging the inevitable announcement that any risk of life is too high.


Quote of the day

December 5, 2017

What are heavy? sea-sand and sorrow. What are brief? today and tomorrow. What are frail? spring blossoms and youth. What are deep? the ocean and truth. – Christina Rossetti  who was born on this day in 1830.


December 5 in history

December 5, 2017

63 BC Cicero read the last of his Catiline Orations.

663 – Fourth Council of Toledo.

1360 The French Franc was created.

1408 – Emir Edigu of Golden Horde reached Moscow.

1484  Pope Innocent VIII issued the Summis desiderantes, a papal bull that deputised Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger as inquisitors to root out alleged witchcraft in Germany and led to one of the most oppressive witch hunts in European history.

1492  Christopher Columbus became the first European to set foot on the island of Hispaniola, now Haiti.

1496 – King Manuel I of Portugal issued  a decree of expulsion of “heretics” from the country.

1590 – Niccolò Sfondrati became Pope Gregory XIV.

1766  James Christie held his first sale.

1830 Christina Rossetti, English poet, was born  (d. 1894).

1839 George Armstrong Custer, American general, was born (d. 1876

1848 California Gold Rush: US President James K. Polk confirmed that large amounts of gold had been discovered in California.

1859 John Jellicoe, British admiral, was born (d. 1935).

1872  Harry Nelson Pillsbury, American chess player, was born  (d. 1906).

1879 Clyde Cessna, American aeroplane manufacturer, was born (d 1954).

1890 New Zealand’s first one-man-one-vote election took place.

First 'one man one vote' election

1901 Walt Disney, American animated film producer, was born (d. 1966).

1932  German-born Swiss physicist  Albert Einstein was granted an American visa.

1932  Little Richard, American singer and pianist, was born.

1933 Prohibition in the United States ended when : Utah ratified theTwenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution, thus establishing the required 75% of states needed to enact the amendment (this overturned the 18th Amendment which had made the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcohol illegal in the United States).

1938  J. J. Cale, American songwriter, was born (d. 2013).

1943  Abyssinia Crisis: Italian troops attacked Wal Wal in Abyssinia, taking four days to capture the city.

1936 The Soviet Union adopted a new constitution and the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic was established as a full Union Republic of the USSR.

1945 Flight 19 was lost in the Bermuda Triangle.

1955 E.D. Nixon and Rosa Parks led the Montgomery Bus Boycott

1957 Sukarno expelled all Dutch people from Indonesia.

1958  Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) was inaugurated in the UK by Queen Elizabeth II when she spoke to the Lord Provost in a call from Bristol to Edinburgh.

1958 The Preston bypass, the UK‘s first stretch of motorway, opened to traffic for the first time.

1963 Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards, English ski jumper was born.

1964 Captain Roger Donlon was awarded the first Medal of Honor of the Vietnam War.

1983  Dissolution of the Military Junta in Argentina.

2005 – The Lake Tanganyika earthquake caused significant damage, mostly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

2005 – The Civil Partnership Act came into effect in the United Kingdom, and the first civil partnership was registered there.

2006 Commodore Frank Bainimarama overthrew the government in Fiji.

2007 – Westroads Mall massacre: A gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at an Omaha mall, killing eight people before taking his own life.

2012 – At least 8 people were killed and 12 others injured after a 5.6 earthquake struck Iran’s South Khorasan Province.

2013 – Militants attacked a Defense Ministry compound in Sana’a, Yemen, killing at least 56 people and injuring 200 others.

2014 – The first flight test of NASA’s Orion spacecraft launched successfully.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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