Word of the day

January 31, 2018

Erudite – characterised by, having or showing great knowledge or learning; earned or scholarly; possessing or displaying erudition.


Pat Booth OBE

January 31, 2018

Pat Booth, one of New Zealand’s great investigative journalists, has died.

Booth spent nearly 40 years at the now defunct Auckland Star, becoming editor, and is most renowned for his tireless work on the Arthur Allan Thomas miscarriage of justice case and the Mr Asia Crime syndicate.

The stories were scandalous and horrifying and were reported by Booth and a team of his reporters in a depth rarely achieved.

As part of the campaign for a pardon for Thomas, Booth wrote a book, Trial by Ambush. . . 

Booth’s eight-year crusade resulted in Thomas, wrongly jailed for double murder, receiving a full royal pardon.

Booth also helped reveal an international drug ring during the notorious Mr Asia investigations. He wrote a book on the international drug smuggling ring, The Mr Asia File: The Life and Death of Marty Johnstone. . . 

The Mr Asia File was compulsory reading at Canterbury University’s journalism school. The author was one whose example we were urged to emulate.

Journalism has lost a star and the loss will be even greater for his family and friends to whom I offer my sympathy.

Rural round-up

January 31, 2018

Southern farmers feel the heat as crops fail – Simon Hartley:

Rural Otago and Southland continues to bear the brunt of the heatwave and farmers are facing hard decisions on destocking and replanting failed winter feed crops.

A smattering of rain across the North Island and upper South Island was allowing farmers there to consider holding on to stock for further fattening.

But in Otago and Southland meat processors are working to capacity as stock is sold off, according to Federated Farmers Otago province president Phill Hunt of Wanaka.

“The pasture has taken a hiding, dying in places. That will have to be replaced over the next two years, at a significant cost,” he said when contacted yesterday. . .

Southern drought meeting requested with minister – Rachael Kelly:

Southland and Otago Rural Advisory groups have written to Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor requesting him to declare a drought for both provinces.

Sweltering temperatures and little rainfall have put pressure on farmers as dry conditions have reached levels not usually seen in January.

Both Southland and Otago have formed drought committees with rural stakeholders including Rural Support Trusts, Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ, Beef and Lamb NZ, Fonterra, regional councils and MPI, and they are asking the Minister to declare a medium-scale adverse event classification.

Regions get drought  classification  – Sally Rae:

Drought in Southland and parts of Otago has been classified as a medium-scale adverse event following a request from drought committees and rural communities.

Yesterday, Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor announced the classification – already in place in parts of the North Island and the Grey and Buller districts – had been extended to all of Southland, plus the Queenstown Lakes, Central Otago and Clutha districts.

That triggered additional funding of up to $130,000 for rural support trusts and industry groups to co-ordinate recovery support. . .

Two more farms found with Mycoplasma bovis in the South Island:

Mycoplasma bovis has been found on on two more farms, lifting the total number of infected properties from 18 to 20, the Ministry for Primary Industries has confirmed.

One of the new farms is in the Waimate district and the other is in Gore, Southland.

M bovis causes illness in cattle including mastitis, abortion, pneumonia, and arthritis. This illness is hard to treat and clear from an animal. Once infected animals may carry and shed the bacterium for long periods of time with no obvious signs of illness.

There are 11 infected properties in South Canterbury (Waitaki and Waimate Districts), six in Southland, two in Mid-Canterbury and one in Hawke’s Bay. . . 

A straight talking farmer with an appetite for risk – John King:

“I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it,” said late comedian Jonathan Winters.

North Cantabrian James Costello has a similar attitude farming sheep on 300ha of alluvial flats at Hawarden next to the Hurunui River.

His business remained profitable during three years of drought while many in his district did not.

James has a reputation for being an innovator and is active in the Hurunui/Waiau Water Zone committee and Landcare group. He knows you cannot be passive when faced with overwhelming odds. . .

The future of farming – Grant Leigh:

Younger generations are growing up surrounded by technology and the advancement of these technologies is ferocious.

Along with being frightening and daunting to most of us, it is also exciting, challenging and now more than ever necessary.

The biggest hurdle will not be the appetite for young farmers and supporting industries to do the job, it will be capital and viability. . . 

Federated Farmers’ Katie Milne opens up about the changing times – Michelle Hewitson:

After breaking a 118-year history of male leadership of Federated Farmers, Katie Milne wants to convince townies that rural folk are the same at heart.

When you take the head of Federated Farmers, Katie Milne, out for lunch, it’s redundant to ask if we’re going to eat meat.

“Ha! Yeah. You know what I saw on there,” she says, gesturing at the menu, “and wanted to have a go at and share? That crackling.” Have a go at! She’s a West Coast sheila through and through. I ordered the crackling. She had the beef and bacon burger and chips; I had black pudding and spuds. We were having a health lunch. “We are. We are,” she says. “It’s Friday. It’s a mental health day when you’re eating great stuff like this, isn’t it?” We cracked into the crackling. . . 

Soil health comes first then grass and livestock – Burke Teichert :

In recent columns, I’ve touched on the following topics:

• Empowered people, because everything in our businesses happens because of and through people – usually those closest to the business, land and livestock.

• Sustainability, because it’s such a buzz word and people outside of our business will have an impact, whether we like it or not. Also, ranchers don’t know all we should about the environment, particularly the ecosystem – its complexity and interconnectedness, and how it reacts to our management actions.

• Planning strategically first, and then developing tactics and operational schedules and methods to accomplish the strategic objectives. Too often, we do it backwards – starting with operations, then tactics, letting strategy be determined by default – with tactics defining our strategy. . . 


365 days of gratitude

January 31, 2018

It was 36 degrees when I drove into town this afternoon.

On the long list of things I didn’t want to do in that heat was cook dinner and I didn’t have to.

We went to Cucina with friends, where we’re always assured of delicious dinner.

Someone else did the cooking, did it superbly and I”m very grateful for that.

Empathy no substitute for effectiveness

January 31, 2018

The child poverty legislation introduced by Jacinda Ardern yesterday is long on intention and very short on substance:

The Government’s proposed child poverty legislation is predictably full of positive intentions but contains no substance to address the drivers of deprivation, National Party leader Bill English says.

“The Prime Minister has announced plans to introduce legislation that requires Ministers to report publicly on the number of children in poverty, to set targets, and to develop a strategy.

“National shares the Government’s goal of reducing child poverty. But you don’t need new legislation for any of this. In fact, the public service is already reporting publicly on the exact measures the Government is proposing.

Thanks to National’s economic stewardship, the Government has had the luxury of being able to allocate surplus cash to lift family incomes, picking up National’s Family Incomes package, with some additions.

“But what is much harder is changing the lives of our most vulnerable families trapped in deprivation by long term benefit dependence, low educational achievement and recidivist crime. Poverty isn’t just about lifting incomes.

The causes of poverty are complex and solving the problem takes a lot more than giving families more money.

Inexplicably, the Government last week announced it will abolish the Better Public Services targets we designed to tackle these issues, seemingly for no other reason than they were National’s initiatives.

“The targets we designed focused the public service on reducing benefit dependence, increasing educational achievement and reducing crime, to name just a few.

These measures addressed the causes rather than just treating symptoms.

“During our tenure we found the ability to eyeball the specific Minister or public servant responsible for delivering a particular target drove significant change. I’m enormously proud to say we reduced the number of children living in material hardship by 85,000 over the last five years by taking that approach.

“By getting rid of these targets, the Government has thrown away the very tools to attack these drivers of poverty.

“But the Government’s new proposals are so high level and general that they refer to no one in particular, and no one will be held responsible for any lack of progress.

“A plan that will really, truly tackle child poverty must address the drivers of social dysfunction and hold the public service accountable, not just rely on the Government’s good intentions.

“The National Party is committed to reducing child poverty, achieving tangible results and promoting evidence-based policies that actually work. . .

The Taxpayers’ Union says the Bill will deliver socialism rather than better lives for children:

Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says, “Tying poverty measures to the median income is simply a target for socialism. It means that as long everyone is equally poor, Labour will have met their goal.” . . .

“The saddest thing about these proposals is they suggest Labour’s claimed concern for kids in hardship was fake all along. This is leftist ideology with no mention of economic growth, getting people of welfare, productivity, employment, and entrepreneurship.”

David Farrar pointed out that when she was in opposition Jacinda Ardern had two members bills, neither of which got anywhere for very good reason:

. . .Her first bill on adoption was a press release pretending to be a bill. It merely instructed the Law Commission to go write the real bill and have the Government introduce it. The bill was so bad even the Greens voted against it. It actually undermined the real work done cross party by Kevin Hague and Nikki Kaye who met with all the stakeholders, with law professors, adoption groups and wrote a detailed law reform bill.

Her latest bill is much the same. It is labelled the Child Poverty Reduction and Eradication Bill. It basically sets up a a Child Poverty Reduction Board! That’s it. It’s a sound bite not a serious law.

In no way do I think Jacinda doesn’t care about gay adoption and child poverty. She does. But the consistent pattern in her career has been that she prioritises empathy over effectiveness. . . 

With all the resources available now she’s Prime Minister, she ought to have done much better with the child poverty bill.

Instead it looks like she is continuing to prioritise empathy over effectiveness in government.



Quote of the day

January 31, 2018

Love of man for woman – love of woman for man. That’s the nature, the meaning, the best of life itself. – Zane Grey who was born on this day in 1872

January 31 in history

January 31, 2018

1606  Guy Fawkes was executed for his plotting against Parliament.

1673 Louis de Montfort, French catholic priest and saint, was born (d. 1716).

1747 The first venereal diseases clinic opened at London Lock Hospital.

1797 Franz Schubert, Austrian composer, was born (d. 1828).

1814 Gervasio Antonio de Posadas became Supreme Director of Argentina.

1849 Corn Laws were abolished in the United Kingdom (following legislation in 1846).

1862 Alvan Graham Clark discovered the white dwarf star Sirius B, a companion of Sirius, through an eighteen inch telescope at Northwestern University.

1865 Confederate General Robert E. Lee became general-in-chief.

1865  Henri Desgrange, Founder of the Tour-de-France, was born (d. 1940).

1872 Zane Grey, American Western writer, was born.(1939)

1876 The United States ordered all Native Americans to move into reservations.

1881  Anna Pavlova, Russian ballerina was born  (d. 1931).

1884 Theodor Heuss, 1st President of Germany (Bundespräsident), was born (d. 1963).

1918 A series of accidental collisions on a misty Scottish night led to the loss of two Royal Navy submarines with over a hundred lives, and damage to another five British warships.

1919 The Battle of George Square took place in Glasgow.

1919  Jackie Robinson, American baseball player,  first black player in Major League Baseball, was born (d. 1972).

1921 New Zealand’s first regular air mail service began with a flight by the Canterbury Aviation Company from Christchurch to Ashburton and Timaru.

NZ’s first regular airmail service begins

1921 Carol Channing, American actress and singer, was born.

1921 Mario Lanza, American singer was born (d. 1959).

1923 Norman Mailer, American writer and journalist, was born  (d. 2007).

1929 The Soviet Union exiled Leon Trotsky.

1930 3M began marketing Scotch Tape.

1938 – Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, was born.

1943 German Field Marshall Friedrich Paulus surrendered to the Soviets at Stalingrad, followed 2 days later by the remainder of his Sixth Army, ending one of World War II’s fiercest battles.

1944 – Connie Booth, American-English actress and psychotherapist, was born.

1945 US Army private Eddie Slovik was executed for desertion, the first such execution of a US soldier since the Civil War.

1946 Terry Kath, American musician (Chicago), was born (d. 1978).

1946 Yugoslavia‘s new constitution, modelling the Soviet Union, established six constituent republics (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia).

1950 President Harry S. Truman announced a programme to develop the hydrogen bomb.

1951 Harry Wayne Casey, American singer and musician (KC and the Sunshine Band), was born.

1953 A North Sea flood caused over 1,800 deaths in the Netherlands.

1956 John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten, English singer (Sex Pistols, Public Image Ltd.), was born.

1958  Explorer 1 – The first successful launch of an American satellite into orbit.

1958  James Van Allen discovered the Van Allen radiation belt.

1960 – Željko Šturanović, Montenegrin politician, 31st Prime Minister of Montenegro, was born (d. 2014).

1961 Mercury-Redstone 2 – Ham the Chimp travelled into outer space.

1966 The Soviet Union launched the unmanned Luna 9 spacecraft as part of the Luna programme.

1968 – Nauru became independent from Australia.

1971 Apollo 14 Mission – Astronauts Alan ShepardStuart Roosa, andEdgar Mitchell, aboard a Saturn V, lifted off for a mission to the Fra Mauro Highlands on the Moon.

1971 – The Winter Soldier Investigation, organised by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War to publicise war crimes and atrocities by Americans and allies in Vietnam, began in Detroit.

1990 The first McDonald’s in the Soviet Union opened in Moscow.

1996 An explosives-filled truck rams into the gates of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in Colombo killing at least 86 and injuring 1,400.

2000 Alaska Airlines flight 261 MD-83, experiencing horizontal stabilizer problems, crashes in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Point Mugu, California, killing all 88 persons aboard.

2001 In the Netherlands a Scottish court convicted a Libyan and acquitted another for their part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 which crashed into Lockerbie in 1988.

2003 The Waterfall rail accident near Waterfall, New South Wales.

2009 – At least 113 people were killed and over 200 injured following an oil spillage ignition in Molo, Kenya.

2010 – Avatar became the first film to gross more than $2 billion worldwide.

2011 – A winter storm hit North America for the second time in the same month, causing $1.8 billion in damages across the United States and Canada and killing 24 people.

2013 – An explosion at the Pemex Executive Tower in Mexico City killed at least 33 people and injured more than 100.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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