Ben Cross 16.12.47 – 18.8.20

19/08/2020

Actor Ben Cross has died:

. . . He was born Harry Bernard Cross in London to a working-class Catholic family.

After graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (Rada), he moved from the stage to screen and took a minor role in the 1977 war film A Bridge Too Far, which starred Sir Sean Connery and Sir Michael Caine.

He became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in the same year, before gaining wider acclaim as Billy Flynn – the lawyer representing murderer Roxie Hart – in a 1978 version of the stage musical Chicago.

It was a performance that was widely believed to have earned him his role in 1981’s Chariots Of Fire, which went on to win four Oscars including best picture.

Cross played Jewish runner Harold Abrahams in the film, which was based on the true story of two British men racing for Olympic gold in 1924.

BBC religion editor Martin Bashir said Cross’s portrayal of Abrahams had “captured the burden of being an outsider”. . . 


Word of the day

19/08/2020

Skelm – a raskal, rogue, scoundrel, villain; sly; wicked.


Sowell says

19/08/2020


Rural round-up

19/08/2020

COVID-19: Time for a rethink on priorities – Doug Edmeades:

The Government needs to put environmental goals on the back burner whilst managing debt from COVID-19, according to Dr Doug Edmeades.

New Zealand’s Government has spent about $50-odd billion to-date to counteract the ravages of the COVID virus.

It is an enormous debt. Somehow, someday, we must repay it. But how?

Unfortunately, our tourism industry is also a casualty of the virus. This leaves agriculture as the only industry large enough to muscle-down this debt over time. . . 

Ruminant methane under the spotlight:

For over 20 years New Zealand’s farmers have been unfairly harangued and vilified for their animal’s ruminant methane emissions and a new farming group says it wants to set the record straight.

A recently established organization named “FARM”, which stands for Facts About Ruminant Methane, has been set up by concerned farmers and scientists to present the facts about ruminant methane to challenge unjustified, unscientific emissions reduction requirements imposed by the Government.

FARM says the politics is running away from commonsense and science with current climate policy based on flawed input data about ruminant methane’s impact. . . 

Long way from being out of the woods yet – Allan Barber:

The sense of calm and normality pervading the country for over three months has been shattered by the latest cases of community transmission the country. Until today New Zealanders have been going about their everyday lives, most of them still with jobs and being paid, at least until the wage subsidy ends, while the major concerns appeared to be what Judith’s raised eyebrows say, which political poll is closer to reality, and how many more people would break out of quarantine. Suddenly the media has a lot more than the election to get its teeth into.

Cars have been selling faster than ever, house prices remain steady, people have been able to eat out and travel round the country, enjoying local tourism experiences instead of flying round the world, and agricultural export prices have held up reasonably well. It seemed at first glance as if all was right in our little corner of the world. But the latest events have proved this may just be the calm before the storm which could be brewing in any number of different ways. While optimism is great, it would be as well to anticipate some of the risks facing New Zealand and ensure there are strategies to manage them. . . 

Fonterra confirms appointment of Teh-han Chow:

Fonterra is pleased to confirm the appointment of Teh-han Chow to the role of Chief Executive Officer, Greater China.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says since December 2019, Teh-han has been at the helm in an acting capacity, overseeing the Co-op’s overall Greater China business, including Ingredients, Foodservice, Consumer Brands and China Farms.

“He’s made an impressive contribution. It’s certainly not been a steady-state. Teh-han has been responsible for implementation of our new strategy across the Greater China business, and over the course of this calendar year, has shown outstanding resilience, resourcefulness and empathy in getting his team and our China business through the ongoing challenge of the COVID-19 global pandemic. . . 

Growing Food Through COVID-19 – Nutrient Services Essential (again) :

As farming gears up for a busy spring, farm nutrient provider Ravensdown has been given the green light as an essential service as it was during previous levels 3 and 4.

Back in autumn, farmers were catching up on fertiliser and feed as they tried to recover from a crippling drought. A potentially COVID-disrupted spring places different demands on the farm nutrient and environmental experts as soil tests, fertiliser recommendations, nutrient budgets and farm environmental plans need to be generated.

“Our network will be operating as before ensuring the essential nutrients remain available as farmers grow the food for people and livestock,” said Bryan Inch General Manager Customer Relationships. “The team of on-farm advisors will try to do what they can remotely, but unlike the last lockdown, on really important occasions they will need to visit a farm. Of course, they will check ahead and comply with the relevant government advice around safe interaction.” . . 

Derecho: Assessing damage – Rob Swoboda:

Across a wide swath of central and eastern Iowa, people are dealing with the heartbreaking aftermath of a rare derecho windstorm that has turned what was looking like a big corn and soybean crop into deep losses for many farmers.

The Aug. 10 storm flattened cornfields and destroyed or damaged barns, machine sheds, livestock buildings, grain bins, and homes. Central and eastern Iowa were hit by winds up to 100 mph. A derecho is an inland hurricane with ferocious straight-line winds and varying amounts of rain.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig traveled the area to get a firsthand look at the damage, listening to farmers and other folks affected. He held a phone conference with reporters Aug. 12 after viewing fields in central and west-central Iowa. . . 


If this is the new normal . . .

19/08/2020

Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern wants the politics taken out of the Covid-19 response:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called for politics to be taken out of the Government’s COVID-19 response as Opposition leader Judith Collins grilled her on the lack of testing of border workers.

The Prime Minister acknowledged in Parliament on Tuesday that the Opposition has contributed to constructive criticism of the Government’s response, paying tribute to National’s health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti.

“I have to concede that in my view that at these times I absolutely expect as a Government we should be held to account. That is why we are here,” Ardern said.  . .

That criticism has included valid questions over shortcomings which have put Auckland in level 3 lockdown and the rest of the country at level 2.

But the Prime Minister hit out at the Opposition over criticism of the Government’s testing regime and previous calls to ease lockdown restrictions.

When the testing regime hasn’t even met the government’s own expectations it is absolutely in order for the Opposition to question it. It is also valid to ask for an easing of lockdown restrictions so that exceptions are based on what can be done safely rather than the arbitrary definition of what’s essential.

“There are areas where I think it would be useful if we took the politics out of the response.”

That might have more sway had she not declared this will be a Covid election which put politics firmly into anything to do with the response.

“We have always prepared for this scenario because no one has managed to get themselves to a situation where they haven’t experienced a second wave – no one.”

If not testing all frontline workers, having so few testing stations people have to queue for hours, and forcing essential workers to queue for hours to get out of Auckland is being prepared they need to seriously reassess what is adequate preparation.

Even if she hadn’t said it was a Covid election and that they were prepared, the Opposition should be questioning the Government’s handling of the response which, as Kate Hawkesby points out has shown a marked lack of competence:

If we’re weighing up competence, what’s our most recent example of it? The border. The testing, the lack of testing, the failure to check things are being done that they say are being done.

That sheets back to the lack of commercial and private business experience in this Government. It is not used to the measures, checks and balances that a robust business in the private sector would have in place. It is not used to demanding higher standards, or running things efficiently.

Health Minister Chris HIpkins has followed his predecessor’s example of blaming the DG of Health.

Hipkins may have some grounds for that but not sufficient to excuse his own failure to check that what the government had requested to happen was happening, especially when there had been similar failings so recently.

If, as the government has told us, this is the new normal, they need to urgently address their preparation for, and ability to cope with, it and to accept that the Opposition’s criticism, political or not, is valid.


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