Word of the day

December 15, 2017

Threnody – a poem, song or speech of mourning; a lament; wailing ode; dirge.


Rural round-up

December 15, 2017

Fonterra releases first Sustainability Report on environmental and social performance:

Fonterra is proud to publish its first Sustainability Report, detailing its environmental, social and economic performance.

The Sustainability Report follows Fonterra’s recent announcements on emissions and clean water in New Zealand, and highlights the Co-operative’s commitment to an open discussion on how it is taking its responsibilities seriously and where it is making real progress. The report was compiled using the internationally recognised Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework and independently assured. This follows global best practice and underlines the integrity of the report.

The dairy industry is a cornerstone of the New Zealand economy but its environmental footprint is of national significance. The report gives an objective view of Fonterra’s environmental footprint and our contribution to the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand launches drought resources for farmers:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has launched an online resource for farmers affected by the dry conditions.

The resources include a fact sheet outlining strategies to manage and mitigate the effects of drought, coping with stress on the farm and advice on feed requirements and animal welfare during the dry period.

Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb NZ, says with the correct planning and use of tools such as early weaning, body condition scoring and feed budgets, farmers can make the most efficient and effective use of limited feed resources. . . 

Beef + Lamb NZ backs call for beef trade liberalisation:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) strongly supports the International Beef Alliance’s call for Ministers at the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference to agree on a path to trade liberalisation while protecting beef producersâ ™ livelihoods.

The Eleventh Ministerial Conference (MC11) of the World Trade Organization is being held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 10-13 December.

Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ, says: “We back the IBA’s call for Ministers at the WTO Ministerial Conference to reduce or eliminate the use of trade-distorting agricultural subsidies, amongst other production and market distorting measures. . . 

Dairy cattle numbers dip:

The number of dairy cattle dipped 2 percent from 6.6 million in June 2016 to 6.5 million in June 2017, Stats NZ said today.  

The provisional figures are from the 2017 agricultural production census. Final figures will be available in May 2018.

“From 2012, dairy cattle numbers have been relatively unchanged, after increasing over 20 percent or 1.2 million between 2007 and 2012,” agricultural production statistics manager Stuart Pitts said. . . 

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Census mirrors ‘better efficiency, better for environment’ approach:

Relatively small movements in livestock numbers in the year to June 2017 may indicate New Zealand agriculture is reaching herd equilibrium, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson Chris Lewis says.

Figures from Stats NZ’s 2017 agricultural production census show dairy cattle numbers dropped 2 per cent from 6.6m to 6.5m in the 12-month period.

The dairy cattle count has been largely stable since 2012.

“Farmers have a strong and increasing focus on sustainability and further improving their environmental footprint, and that is translating into maintaining or reducing dairy cattle numbers and instead looking for gains by boosting production per head,” Chris said. . . 

Pumpkin & kumara prices at record level:

Pumpkin prices increased 176 percent in the year to November 2017, to reach $5.78 a kilo, the highest price since the food price series began in December 1993, Stats NZ said today. Pumpkin and kumara are typically more expensive in November, but both hit record levels after larger-than-usual increases this year.

“Poor growing conditions due to the wet weather early this year had a huge impact on the supply of pumpkin and kumara,” consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said. “Pumpkin prices have reflected lower supply, with dramatic price increases in the last three months, while kumara prices increased more steadily through the year.” . . 

Low N cow project:

DairyNZ will lead a seven-year $21 million research partnership to contribute to cleaning up rural waterways.

The central idea is to breed cattle with less nitrogen in their urine.

Participating scientists will come from DairyNZ, Abacus Bio, A. L. Rae Centre for Genetics and Animal Breeding, AgResearch and Lincoln University.

The Government has granted $8.4m to the project, $11.5m will come from farmers’ levy payments to DairyNZ, and the balance will come from CRV Ambreed and Fonterra.

A2 CEO Geoff Babidge to leave in 2018, replaced by Jetstar’s Jayne Hrdlicka – Sophie Boot:

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co managing director Geoff Babidge will retire next year, and will be replaced by Jetstar chief Jayne Hrdlicka.

Babidge has been in the role since 2010, and in the past two years has seen the share price jump from around $1 at the end of 2015 to a recent record of $8.75. The shares have soared on the back of successive strong sales, with the company’s infant formula attracting strong demand in China, and have gained recently on scientific evidence about the nutritional value of its milk, which comes from cows selected to produce only A2 beta-casein, unlike most dairy products, which contain both A1 and A2 proteins. . . 

Experienced senior manager joins AVOCO to strengthen market development:

 Steve Trickett has joined AVOCO’s senior management team to expand on market development in Asia and oversee grower communications at home.

A familiar face to many New Zealand avocado growers, Steve has joined the company as Marketing and Communications Manager and is responsible for market planning and performance with focus on new and developing markets where fruit carries the AVANZA brand. He will support the existing sales and marketing team, oversee contestable fund applications and develop AVOCO’s communications and profile among the grower community. . . 

NZ Ag: Why rural marketers need emotional intelligence (EQ) – St John Craner:

I’ve always been fascinated by why people buy since I was a kid. It started when my Dad took me to Twickenham every cold December to watch the Varsity (Oxford Cambridge match) which he’d do every year with his truck drivers as a thank you to them for all their hard work that year. As I sat in the stands I always wondered why did the Tetley, Whitbread or Coca Cola billboards on the pitch influence people to buy.

Over more recent years I’ve noticed rural marketers not sharing the same fascination by recognising and harnessing the power of emotion in their customer’s decision making and buying behaviour. Some continue to treat their customers as if they were predictable and rational which is the same mistake Economists make. If they could understand the emotional state and drivers of their customers more they would be rewarded with closer and more profitable relationships and higher level of referrals, let alone promotions.

Emotional drivers are a powerful force and comes in many forms such as: . . 

Bakers, farmers struggle to make any dough on poor wheat crop – Rod Nickel & Julie Ingwersen:

 Chicago’s iconic sandwiches – Italian beef heroes dripping with gravy, and hot dogs loaded with pickles and hot peppers – wouldn’t be such culinary institutions without the bread.

But this fall, bakers faced a crisis getting the right kind of bread to delis and sandwich shops locally and across the United States.

Gonnella Baking Co – which supplies the buns to Major League Baseball’s Wrigley Field – faced an unusual problem in October when flour from this year’s U.S. wheat harvest arrived at their factories containing low levels of protein. . . 


Friday’s answers

December 15, 2017

Andrea and Teletext get my thanks for posing Thursday’s questions and can claim a virtual batch of Christmas mince pies by leaving the answers below.


What euthanasia isn’t

December 15, 2017

Polls show a sizable majority in favour of euthanasia but a new poll shows many don’t understand what it means.

A new Curia Market Research poll shows New Zealanders are confused about what ‘assisted dying’ even means.

“This groundbreaking poll challenges the validity of most other polls on the issue. It shows that support for euphemisms such as ‘assisted dying’, ‘aid in dying’ or ‘assistance to end their life’ should not be taken as support for a law change,” says Renée Joubert, executive officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ.

The more strongly a person supports ‘assisted dying’, the more likely they are confused about what it includes.

Of those who strongly support ‘assisted dying’:

• 85% thought it includes turning off life support

• 79% thought it includes ‘do not resuscitate’ (no CPR) requests

• 67% thought it includes the stopping of medical tests, treatments and surgeries.

In all three cases a person would die from their underlying medical condition – of natural causes.

These ‘end-of-life choices’ are legal and people can make their wishes known via Advance Care Planning.

This might look like angels dancing on a pin head but there is a very important difference between not doing something to prolong life and doing something to end it, withholding treatment that would extend a life and actively cutting it short.

Dr Amanda Landers is a palliative care doctor in the South Island, caring for people with a range of life-limiting conditions. She also gives presentations to nurses, doctors and the general public.

She says that many patients, and even some doctors, are unaware that stopping life-prolonging treatment and medication is legal and ethically acceptable. This means the person dies from their underlying illness – which is completely different from an intervention which deliberately ends their life prematurely.

“I was caring for a man in his 60s who was on peritoneal dialysis. He thought he would be committing euthanasia/suicide by stopping it. This belief was weighing heavily on his mind as he thought it was morally wrong.

“Once I explained to him that stopping dialysis was acceptable and that it would allow a natural death from his underlying illness, he stopped it.

“His family was unaware of his fears of dying by suicide/euthanasia and that he wanted to stop the dialysis. It was a very emotional moment for them when they heard how he was feeling, but ultimately they supported him in his choice.”

ACT MP David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill proposes ‘assisted dying’ by administering drugs to end someone’s life, either by injection or ingestion through a tube (euthanasia) or by giving a lethal dose to a person to swallow or administer (assisted suicide).

There are subtle differences between suicide, assisted suicide and euthanasia: It’s suicide when a person ends their own life. It’s assisted suicide when a person receives help to access the means to end their life but then takes the final action themselves. It’s euthanasia when the final action is performed by another person.

Only 62% of the 894 respondents polled thought that ‘assisted dying’ includes receiving deadly drugs to swallow or self-administer (assisted suicide).

Only 68% of respondents thought that ‘assisted dying’ includes receiving deadly drugs by injection (euthanasia).

New Zealanders are significantly less supportive of the administration of lethal drugs to end someone’s life than the notion of ‘assisted dying’ as a whole.

This is asking doctors to kill people.

After hearing which practices the proposed Bill would be limited to, support for ‘assisted dying’ dropped from 62% to 55%, opposition rose from 22% to 26% and unsure/refuse responses rose from 6% to 11%.

“We would expect public support to drop even further when people consider the wider implications and unintended consequences of euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation,” says Ms Joubert.

“A case in point is a 2014 UK ComRes poll which showed that public support for the Falconer Assisted Dying Bill dropped as low as 43% when people heard various arguments against changing the law or were provided with certain facts – for example the fact that six out of ten people requesting a lethal prescription in Washington State said a reason for doing so was their concern about being a burden on friends, family or caregivers.”

Assisted dying, euthanasia . . . call it what you will, it is a very emotional issue.

But as Bill English said during Wednesday evening’s debate, the issue for MPs is one of law.

.  . . I’m sure we’ve all had the experience—I know I have—or know about the experience, of witnessing the suffering, the fear, and the anxiety of a dying person and those around them and, sometimes, a difficult death. Alongside that personal connection, we have to weigh up, in our role as law makers—not just as parents or children or siblings or friends of those who we’ve seen die, but as law makers. Our role is not principally to alleviate suffering; our role is to ensure that our society has a set of laws that protect those who most need protection.

Did you know that in our law, section 179 of the Crimes Act, it is a crime to induce the suicide of another person, even if they don’t actually commit it—even if they don’t actually commit it? Why is that there? Because we don’t want people encouraging a depressed disabled young person that their life isn’t worth anything. As law makers, the reason there is a blanket prohibition is because “you” are not always the best judge of the value of your life, and the price that our community pays for enabling a doctor to take your life, free of criminal scrutiny, is that many other people are more vulnerable. Their lives will become more fearful, and they’ll become more subject to the pressure to make the judgment themselves that their life has less value and therefore they should make the decision. It is a slippery slope. That is why this bill, with its cold technical bureaucratic process of death, tries to look like it’s safe.

We have to weigh it up, and every Parliament up to now has said that the balance between what is enabled for an individual and the cost of that enablement to the rest of society is too big a risk to take. I put the case that as law makers that is the question that we need to weigh up: is the gain in personal autonomy—because the research shows people embark on euthanasia principally for autonomy reasons; they may not be suffering that much—worth the broader cost to our community? I don’t think anyone can in their heart of hearts believe that this bill will make life safer for the disabled or that it will make our community more warmly embracing of our ageing population. Who pretends that? It won’t—it won’t.

That is why I will oppose it and invite others to. You know, we’re not creating medical procedure here; we’re creating an exemption from the criminal law against killing for a specified group—that is doctors, who do not want to carry this burden—under some conditions that amount to box-ticking. So I ask the Parliament to consider that very carefully—the removal of the blanket prohibition against taking a life, which should be subject to scrutiny and accountability.

Euthanasia isn’t turning of life support.

It’s not adhering to do-not-resuscitate requests.

It’s not stopping treatment.

All those happen now and are both ethical and legal.

What doesn’t happen now is deliberately acting to end a life.

Proponents of euthanasia talk about a person’s right to die.

We all have the right to die.

What we don’t have is the right to kill and that’s what this Bill would give to doctors if it becomes law.


Quote of the day

December 15, 2017

In our deepest moments we say the most inadequate things.Edna O’Brien who celebrates her 87th birthday today.


December 15 in history

December 15, 2017

37 –  Nero, Roman Emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, was born  (d. 68).

533 – Byzantine general Belisarius defeated the Vandals, commanded by King Gelimer, at the Battle of Tricamarum.

1161 – Military officers conspired against Emperor Hailingwang of the Jin Dynasty and assassinated him in a military camp near the Yangtze River front.

1167 – Sicilian Chancellor Stephen du Perche moved the royal court toMessina to prevent a rebellion.

1256 – Hulagu Khan captured and destroyed the Hashshashin stronghold at Alamut in present-day Iran as part of the Mongols offensive on Islamic southwest Asia.

1467 – Stephen III of Moldavia defeated Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, who was injured thrice, at the Battle of Baia.

1778 – American Revolutionary War: British and French fleets clashed in the Battle of St. Lucia.

1791  The United States Bill of Rights became law when ratified by the Virginia General Assembly.

1832 Gustave Eiffel, French engineer and architect (Eiffel tower), was born (d. 1923).

1863 The mountain railway from Anina to Oravita in Romania was used for the first time.

1891  James Naismith introduced the first version of basketball, with thirteen rules, a peach basket nailed to either end of his school’s gymnasium, and two teams of nine players.

1892 –  J. Paul Getty, American oil tycoon, was born (d. 1976).

1905 The Pushkin House was established in St. Petersburg to preserve the cultural heritage of Alexander Pushkin.

1906 – The London Underground‘s Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway opened.

1915 – Evacuation of Gallipolli began.

1915 – World War I: Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig replaced John French, 1st Earl of Ypres as Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force.

1930 Edna O’Brien, Irish novelist and short story writer, was born.

1933  – Donald Woods, South African journalist and anti-apartheid activist, was born.

1939 Cindy Birdsong, American singer (The Supremes), was born.

1939  Gone with the Wind received its première at Loew’s Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

1942 – Dave Clark, English musician (The Dave Clark Five), was born.

1944 The Finance Act (No. 3) abolished the Chinese poll tax, introduced in 1881, which was described by Minister of Finance Walter Nash as a ‘blot on our legislation’.

Poll tax on Chinese immigrants abolished

1951 The towering Belmont railway viaduct, which bridged a deep gully at Paparangi, northeast of Johnsonville, Wellington, built in 1885 by the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company, was demolished by Territorial Army engineers.

Belmont viaduct blown up

1955  Jens Olsen’s World Clock started by Swedish King Frederick IX and Jens Olsen’s youngest grandchild Birgit.

1965  Gemini 6A, crewed by Wally Schirra and Thomas Stafford, was launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida.

1973  John Paul Getty III, grandson of American billionaire J. Paul Getty, was found alive near Naples, Italy, after being kidnapped by an Italian gang on July 10, 1973.

1978  President Jimmy Carter announced that the United States wouldrecognise the People’s Republic of China and cut off all relations with Taiwan.

1995 –  Otara Millionaires Club (OMC) released How Bizarre.

OMC release ‘How Bizarre’

1997 The Treaty of Bangkok was signed allowing the transformation of Southeast Asia into a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.

2000 The 3rd reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was shut down due to foreign political pressure.

2001 The Leaning Tower of Pisa reopened after 11 years and $27,000,000 to fortify it, without fixing its famous lean.

2006  First flight of the F-35 Lightning II.

2009 – Boeing’s new Boeing 787 Dreamliner made its maiden flight from Seattle, Washington.

2010 – A boat carrying 90 asylum seekers crashed into rocks off the coast of Christmas Island, killing at least 30 passengers.

2014 – – Man Haron Monis took 18 hostages inside the Martin Place Lindt Café for 16 hours in Sydney.
Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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