Word of the day


Hierogram – a sacred inscription, letter, symbol or writing;  hieroglyph.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


Lobby group 50 Shades of Green calls for pause on blanket forestry – Heather Chalmers:

The Government needs to hit the pause button on policies which have led to thousands of hectares of hill country farmland being converted to blanket forestry in the last year, a newly-formed lobby group says. 

50 Shades of Green spokesman Mike Butterick said significant land use change was happening and its speed and scale had caught everyone by surprise.  

“It has snowballed so quickly that we need to hit the pause button and ask whether this is what we intended to happen.  . . 

Too much regulation can bring unintended consequences – Simon Davies:

Although you may not think some regulations apply to your farming business you’d be wrong, writes Federated Farmers Otago provincial president Simon Davies.

Regulation is part of life.

But the thing is I really did not appreciate how much of my life, and more importantly my farming business, was captured by legislation and regulations.

This can’t be highlighted better than since the last election. . .

Farmers own’t forget Jones’ outburst – Steve Wyn-Harris:

So now Shane Jones has decided to put the boot into farmers.

I thought he was touting and self-styling himself as the champion of the regions.

There’s his party doing everything it can over the last few years to portray itself as a reinvented country party and even getting grudging respect from the rural rump as the handbrake on the potential excesses of a centre-left government.

Then. in one manic outburst, he ensured not many farmers or rural folk will consider voting for him or his party next year. . . 

Tough times ahead :

Dairy farmers will be under pressure from the low start to Fonterra’s new season advance rates, Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says.

“Cash is king for farmers because of seasonal conditions, demands for debt repayment from the banks and the rising tide of on-farm costs,” he said.

The forecast of the fourth $6-plus season in a row is welcome but farm working expenses have gone up 50c a kilogram of milksolids over the past couple of years and margins are tight. . . 

From potatoes to coffee, plant breeders are changing crops to adapt to an uncertain climate future – Sam Bloch:

We tend to view the effects of climate change through the lens of the worst and most dramatic disasters, from hurricanes and floods to forest fires. But farmers have a more mundane fear: that as weather becomes more extreme and varied, their land will no longer support the crops they grow. We’ve grown accustomed to living in a world where salad greens thrive in California, and Iowa is the land of corn. But even in the absence of a single, catastrophic event, conventional wisdom about what grows best where may no longer apply.

“People who depend on the weather and hawk its signs every day know it’s getting wetter, warmer, and weirder, and have recognized it for some time,” Art Cullen, Pulitzer Prize-winning editor of The Storm Lake Times, a twice-weekly Iowa newspaper, wrote for us in December. “The climate assessment predicts more of it and worse. Ag productivity will be set back to 1980s levels unless there is some unforeseen breakthrough in seed and chemical technology.” . . 

Industry urged to seize opportunities to communicate with public:

People working in every part of the Scottish red meat industry were today (Friday 24th May) urged by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) to support forth-coming campaigns and seize every opportunity to communicate the industry’s positive messages.

Speaking at a briefing to announce QMS’s ambitious activity plans for the year ahead, Kate Rowell, QMS Chair, emphasised a key focus of the organisation’s activity for the 2019/20 year will be to upweight the important work it does to protect, as well as promote, the industry.

“The work we do to protect and enhance the reputation of the industry has never been more important,” said Mrs Rowell. . . 


Business matters


Farmers ought to be reasonably happy.

Prices for almost every product except strong wool, are at least reasonable and some are much better.

But farmer confidence is in the doldrums fuelled by anti-farmer sentiment and policies from the government.

The wider business community isn’t very happy either and that mood wasn’t improved by the Prime Minister’s pre-budget speech to Business NZ.

Liam Dann said she played heart strings not purse strings:

. . . But while the event was crowded there was still space for an elephant in the room.

Ardern made a point of acknowledging the “elephant in the room” in her first post-election speech to a business crowd.

That elephant was the business confidence surveys, she said in February 2018. . . 

And so today the gloomy pachyderm sat quietly in the corner, as the PM addressed undeniably important issues such as homelessness and family violence. . .

No-one argues about the importance of these issues but the government doesn’t appear to understand that the money to deal with them comes from businesses.

Where the economy, and the current slow down in GDP growth was addressed, the blame was pointed squarely off-shore.

“The tariff war between the US and China has flared up again,” she said. “The US economy is also showing signs of slowing. And uncertainty in Europe due in large part to Brexit is ongoing adding further to the global economic headwinds we face.”

These things are true but, if the strong export returns and record stock market levels are to be believed, they are yet to have had a significant impact on the local economy.

The slowdown this winter is domestically led and business confidence seems to be a big driver. . . 

As a warm up for the well being Budget next week the PM hinted at a broad and bold vision for a fairer and more inclusive country.

It may resonate well with the wider public and certainly will with Labour’s base.

But while this was a speech for Business NZ it wasn’t really a speech for business.

Rebecca Stevenson said expectations were low and lack of detail disappointed:

“Nothing for business” and “disappointing” were common refrains around the room as the PM wrapped-up her holistic vision for next week’s first wellbeing budget.

While sure, it was nice she came (along with Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi), some of the attendees were still left underwhelmed, even though expectations were low. . . 

Warren Green, chief executive officer of Active Roofing, summed up the sentiment.

“It was a bit disappointing,” he said.

“It was more like a Labour Party ideological fairytale. But she’s a great orator.”

Active Roofing has about 40 employees. It used to have a strong apprentice scheme. It doesn’t anymore, Green said. The Government’s choice to do away with the 90-day trial law put paid to that, he said. 

That can’t be laid at the door of ill winds from abroad. It’s government policy which makes it much more risky to take on a new employee.

The company had only let one person go under the law, but without it, and with the changes coming down the line to industry training, it’s just too big of a risk now. So they’re not doing it anymore.

“We’re hugely disappointed with the new training model,” Green said, “the existing model works.”

He was pretty typical of employers in his view on his workers. It’s not an adversarial relationship. The company recently helped one of its staff get dental work. “We’re like a bank for some people,” he mused. . . 

Government policy appears aimed at saving workers from really bad employers and in doing so is making business much harder for good employers.

There is goodwill for this Government, despite a feeling they are disjointed and not always clear on what they are trying to do, and how the changes they make will play out (see the new break law and issues with bus drivers), but with some sectors it is wearing thin. 

There is real concern about a lack of progress on infrastructure projects, concern about the training changes coming, and concern that the Government doesn’t really understand business.

Ardern can hit the key talking points a business audience wants to hear with aplomb; economic headwinds, trade war, more trade agreements, helping more Kiwis into work. There is no question she is polished, astute and an excellent Labour politician.

But when you can barely bring yourself to mention the b word, that goodwill will only go so far.

Businesses need certainty and confidence to take the risks to grow.

The government doesn’t understand that, even though it’s being reflected in a slowing economy.

Warm words don’t change the cold fact that business matters. If business isn’t happy the economy stutters and economic wellbeing is the foundation on which social wellbeing is built.

Quote of the day


Oh, you’re born with it,[passion] and then hopefully you get to cultivate it, if it’s not squished by your parents, or by misfortune, or by war. There is luck involved.Thea Musgrave who celebrates her 91st birthday today.

May 27 in history


893  Simeon I of Bulgaria crowned emperor of the first Bulgarian empire.

927 Battle of the Bosnian Highlands: Croatian army, led by King Tomislav, defeated the Bulgarian Army.

927  Simeon the Great, Tsar of Bulgaria, died.

1120  Richard III of Capua was anointed as prince two weeks before his untimely death.

1153 Malcolm IV became King of Scotland.

1328  Philip VI was crowned King of France.

1626 William II, Prince of Orange was born(d. 1650).

1703 Tsar Peter the Great founded the city of Saint Petersburg.

1798 The Battle of Oulart Hill took place in Wexford.

1812  Bolivian War of Independence: the Battle of La Coronilla, in which the women from Cochabamba fought against the Spanish army.

1813  War of 1812: In Canada, American forces captured Fort George.

1837 Wild Bill Hickok, American gunfighter, was born  (d. 1876).

1849  The Great Hall of Euston station in London was opened.

1860  Giuseppe Garibaldi began his attack on Palermo, Sicily, as part of the Italian Unification.

1863  American Civil War: First Assault on the Confederate works at theSiege of Port Hudson.

1878 Isadora Duncan, American dancer ws born (d. 1927).

1883 Alexander III was crowned Tsar of Russia.

1895  Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for sodomy.

1896 The F4-strength St. Louis-East St. Louis Tornado killed at least 255 people and causing $2.9 billion in damage.

1905 Russo-Japanese War: The Battle of Tsushima began.

1907  Bubonic plague broke out in San Francisco, California.

1907 – Rachel Carson, American biologist, environmentalist, and author, was born (d. 1964).

1908  Maulana Hakeem Noor-ud-Din was elected the first Khalifa of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

1909 – Tasmanian-born confidence trickster Amy Bock was sentenced in the Dunedin supreme court.

Amy Bock sentenced in Dunedin Supreme Court

1911  Hubert H. Humphrey, 38th Vice President of the United States,  was born (d. 1978).

1912  John Cheever, American author, was born (d. 1982).

1915 Herman Wouk, American writer, was born.

1919  The NC-4 aircraft arrived in Lisbon after completing the first transatlantic flight.

1922  Sir Christopher Lee, English actor, was born.

1923 Henry Kissinger, 56th United States Secretary of State, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, was born.

1927  Ford ceased manufacture of the Ford Model T and began to retool plants to make the Ford Model A.

1928  – Thea Musgrave, Scottish-American composer and educator, was born.

1930  The 1,046 feet (319 m) Chrysler Building in New York City, the tallest man-made structure at the time, opens to the public.

1933 New Deal: The U.S. Federal Securities Act is signed into law requiring the registration of securities with the Federal Trade Commission.

1933 – The Walt Disney Company released the cartoon The Three Little Pigs, with its hit song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

1933 – The Century of Progress World’s Fair opened in Chicago.

1935  New Deal: The Supreme Court of the United States declared the National Industrial Recovery Act to be unconstitutional in A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, (295 U.S. 495).

1937  The Golden Gate Bridge opened to pedestrian traffic, creating a vital link between San Francisco and Marin County, California.

1940  World War II: In the Le Paradis massacre, 99 soldiers from a Royal Norfolk Regiment unit were shot after surrendering to German troops.

1941 World War II: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed an “unlimited national emergency”.

1941 – World War II: The German battleship Bismarck was sunk in the North Atlantic killing almost 2,100 men.

1942  World War II: In Operation AnthropoidReinhard Heydrich was assassinated in Prague.

1943 Cilla Black, English singer and presenter, was born (d. 2015).

1954 Pauline Hanson, Australian politician, was born.

1957 Toronto’s CHUM-AM, (1050 kHz) became  Canada’s first radio station to broadcast only top 40 Rock n’ Roll music format.

1958 Neil Finn, New Zealand singer and songwriter (Split Enz, Crowded House), was born.

1958  The F-4 Phantom II made its first flight.

1960  In Turkey, a military coup removed President Celal Bayar and the rest of the democratic government from office.

1962 The Centralia, Pennsylvania mine fire started.

1965 Vietnam War: American warships began the first bombardment of National Liberation Front targets within South Vietnam.

1967  Australians voted in favour of a constitutional referendum granting the Australian government the power to make laws to benefit Indigenous Australians and to count them in the national census.

1967  The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy was launched  Jacqueline Kennedy and her daughter Caroline.

1968  The meeting of the Union Nationale des Étudiants de France (National Union of the Students of France) took place. 30,000 to 50,000 people gathered in the Stade Sebastien Charlety.

1971 The Dahlerau train disaster, the worst railway accident in West Germany, killed 46 people and injured 25.

1975 Jamie Oliver, English chef and television personality, was born.

1975  The Dibble’s Bridge coach crash near Grassington, North Yorkshire killed  32 – the highest ever death toll in a road accident in the United Kingdom.

1980 The Gwangju Massacre: Airborne and army troops of South Korea retook the city of Gwangju from civil militias, killing at least 207.

1987 Artist Colin McCahon died.

Death of Colin McCahon

1995 Actor Christopher Reeve was paralysed from the neck down after falling from his horse in a riding competition.

1996 First Chechnya War: Russian President Boris Yeltsin met Chechnyan rebels for the first time and negotiated a cease-fire.

1997  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Paula Jones could pursue her sexual harassment lawsuit against President Bill Clinton while he was in office.

1999  The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia indicted Slobodan Milošević and four others for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Kosovo.

2005 Australian Schapelle Corby was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in Kerobokan Prison for drug smuggling by a court in Indonesia.

2006 The May 2006 Java earthquake devastated  Bantul and the city of Yogyakarta killing more than  6,600 people.

2009 – A suicide bombing killed at least 35 people and injured 250 more in Lahore, Pakistan.

2009 – Soyuz TMA-15 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

2016 – Barack Obama was the first president of United States to visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and meet Hibakusha.

2018 – 2018 Maryland flood throughout the Patapsco Valley causing 1 death, destroying the entire first floors of buildings in Main St, Ellicott City and causing cars to overturn.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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