Word of the day


Zeptosecond – one sextillionth  sextillionth (10−21 ) of a second; a trillionth of a billionth of a second, or a decimal point followed by 20 zeroes and a 1.

Hat tip: Kiwiblog

Rural round-up


The carbon price marches on – Keith Woodford:

NZU investors are now driving the price of carbon as they play the market

As I write this in late January 2022, the carbon price in the open market is $75, with this measured per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). That is an increase of just over 10 percent since the last auction of units by the Government less than two months ago in December 2021. It is also 95 percent higher than the price of carbon this time last year.

The most recent 10 percent increase may not sound much. But the fact that the market price has now breached $70 is significant. It means that there is a developing consensus among players in the carbon market that, at the next auction on 16 March, the Government’s seven million NZU cost-containment reserve for all of 2022 will be exhausted.

If the reserve is exhausted in March, it is likely to be onwards and upwards from there for the carbon price, with three further auctions in 2022 unconstrained by any cost-containment reserve. . .

Economic boost of almost $14bn comes from lift in Fonterra milk payment – Point of Order:

While  most   of  the  economy  is  struggling  with the  impact  of the Covid pandemic, the dairy industry  is  riding  a  prosperity  wave.

In the  wake  of  high prices recorded at  last week’s Global  Auction,  the  big  co-op Fonterra has lifted its forecast milk payment to farmers for this season to a new record level  between $8.90 and $9.50kg/MS.. That’s up from its forecast in early December of between $8.40 an d $9kg/MS..

The midpoint of the range, which farmers are paid off, increased to $9.20kg/MS from $8.70, the highest level since Fonterra was formed in 2001. The co-op paid farmers $7.54kg/MS last season, and its previous record was $8.40kg/MS in the 2013/14 season.

Global dairy prices hit an eight-year-high at auction last week, as tight milk supply has strengthened  demand for New Zealand’s most  significant export commodity. Prices have been supported this season by weaker milk production in this  country   because  of poor weather and higher feed costs. . . 

Alliance launches premium Wagyu beef offer for farmers :

Alliance has launched a premium Wagyu beef offer to farmers in a bid to increase value and meet consumer demand in its international markets.

The red meat cooperative is partnering with Southern Stations Wagyu who will provide the genetics from its Australian based Red Wagyu bulls to farmers here.

Farmers can sign a supply contract for cattle with a minimum of 50 percent red or black wagyu genetics.

Red wagyu and black wagyu are different breeds of Japanese cattle, both known for their high intramuscular fat content and marbling ability. . . 

A2 Milk share price surges on back of speculation of takeover by Canadian dairy giant – Gyles Beckford:

Rumours that the embattled specialty dairy company A2 Milk is being eyed as a possible takeover target is being credited with driving its shareprice more than 7 percent higher.

The Australian newspaper has linked A2 Milk to the Canadian dairy giant Saputo, which is reported to be close to making a big acquisition.

A2 has been [https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/business/454339/a2-milk-changing-growth-strategy-after-china-infant-formula-market-forces-adaptions touted as a possible takeover target over the past year as it struggled to restore its earnings, profits and share price in the face of disrupted sales channels, excess stock and a slide in sales of infant formula in the key Chinese market.

A2 declined comment on the speculation. . . 

Traffic stopping sunflower field in Tararua a sight to behold – George Heagney:

A field blooming with thousands of sunflowers, intended to subdue speeding motorists, appears to be having the desired effect.

The striking sight even has travellers pulling off the country road to pose and take photos with the radiant backdrop.

Abbe​ Hoare planted 47,000 sunflower seeds in a half-hectare block near the roadside of her farm at Mangamaire, south of Pahīatua.

The sunflowers started flowering about 10 days ago and now the field is filled with bright yellow heads all facing east, which are expected to last until the end of February. . . 

World’s first CRISPR-edited sugarcane developed in Brazil – Daniel Azevedo:

Scientists from Embrapa Agroenergia in Brazil have developed the first sugarcane varieties edited using CRISPR gene editing technology. The edited sugarcane varieties are called Cana Flex I and Cana Flex II. The respective distinctive features are easier cell wall digestibility and higher sucrose concentration in plant tissues.

The edited plants are considered non-transgenic, or DNA-Free, according to Normative Resolution No. 16 (RN No. 16) of the National Biosafety Technical Commission (CTNBio), issued on 12/9/2021. Both developments used the CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), a “Nobel prized” and revolutionary gene manipulation technique discovered in 2012.

They respond to one of the biggest scientific challenges in the sugarcane sector: easy enzyme’s access into sugars trapped in cells, which facilitates ethanol production (first and second generation), and better extraction of other bioproducts.

In the case of Cana Flex I, the CRISPR technique silenced the gene responsible for the rigidity of the plant cell wall, in order to increase its “digestibility”. This means the enzymatic hydrolysis process – a chemical process that extracts compounds from plant biomass – is more efficient. . .

Sowell says


Distance doesn’t always lend enchantment


Distance proverbially lends enchantment to the view, but Dan Wooton, an ex-pat Kiwi, looking home from London is less than impressed:

. . . Many Kiwis have become so brainwashed by Ardern’s incessant spin – swallowed whole by a compliant liberal media – that they reacted with a mere shrug when her government at the weekend revealed citizens who are household contacts of anyone who tests positive for Covid will have to self-isolate for a whopping 24 days as part of her ‘stamp it out’ policy approach. 

Has anyone in government stopped to think about the impact this would have on hospitals, schools, other workplaces and supply chains if – as is very unlikely – people actually did this?

After just nine confirmed Omicron cases, Ardern then plunged the entire country into red alert, a form of lockdown that bans large gatherings, enforces mask mandates, makes Covid passports compulsory if you want to live normally as part of a ‘two-tier society’, and reintroduces work from home orders.

Ardern even cancelled her long-planned wedding to TV star fiancé Clarke Gayford in the ultimate act of virtue signalling aimed at showing New Zealanders she’s going through the hell of lockdown too.

While most governments have tried to quell public panic over Omicron, given the proven mild nature of the variant, Ardern’s regime has done the opposite.

Once again the government has failed to prepare and instead is stoking panic.

Parliament’s Speaker Trevor Mallard – an Ardern loyalist from the ruling Labour party – warned panicked citizens to prepare as if they were facing an ‘earthquake’ by stocking up on emergency supplies, which helped spark an inevitable run on toilet paper.

He also tweeted criticism of Wootton, contravening the convention that the Speaker doesn’t indulge in political point scoring.

Remember panic buying? While the rest of the world is finally waking up to the need to live with Covid long-term, New Zealand remains trapped in March 2020, with terror and paranoia enveloping a country that was once famous for producing hard men like Everest conqueror Sir Edmund Hillary, fearless rugby giant Jonah Lomu and bunjee jump inventor AJ Hackett.

Rather than preparing for the inevitable over the past two years, socialist Ardern is hamstrung by a creaking health system with less than 200 intensive care beds to service five million citizens.

Perversely, she has banned international doctors and nurses from travelling to New Zealand – even Kiwi ones wanting to return home to work – meaning there are chronic staff and resource shortages.

The health system was ailing before the pandemic. The government’s failure to allow health professionals already here to stay, and to fast track immigration for others overseas has exacerbated it.

It’s not just hospitals that are understaffed., rest homes have empty beds because they can’t employ enough carers and nurses.

And while Ardern will never admit it publicly, she’s gripped with the terror that her decision to pursue a Zero Covid policy long-term is unravelling.

New Zealand has virtually no natural immunity, making the country far more vulnerable to Omicron than other countries.

Meanwhile, Kiwis have bought into Ardern’s message that eliminating the virus is not only desirable but possible.

Even a 90 per cent vaccinated country is not enough to reassure most Kiwis who have been manipulated by Ardern into believing that Covid is some sort of black plague that leaders like Boris Johnson have allowed to run rampant, to hell with the consequences.

Illness and deaths from Covid-19 have been much worse in most other countries, but at least some of the credit for the low toll here was down to our isolation and luck rather than good management.

Finally, the world is waking up to the insanity of the New Zealand approach as Ardern’s policies become increasingly draconian.

Keeping passport holders like me out of the country is also illegal, given the country’s Immigration Act guarantees that ‘every New Zealand citizen has, by virtue of his or her citizenship, the right to enter and be in New Zealand at any time’.

Instead, Ardern has instituted a sick Squid Game-like national lottery that dictates whether we can return home at all. . . 

Grounded Kiwis’ legal challenge has been delayed but Kiwiblog has the story of the family who managed to stay in Auckland after arriving in transit, and the opinion of two lawyers who confirm New Zealanders have the right to come home at any time.

What’s most sickening is that to keep locals happy, foreign DJs, musicians, performers, sportspeople and film stars have been allowed in to continue with the veneer of life as normal.

Miraculously, the Kiwi superstar singer Lorde was able to win one of the spots in Ardern’s Squid Game lottery (my poor mum didn’t), which meant she was able to return to the country just in time to perform at Ardern’s now-cancelled summer wedding spectacular. Forgive me for being cynical about whether the lottery is fair.

The Herald had a story correcting social media claims Lorde had skipped MIQ. But it ignored the question of whether or not she got a priority spot. It is possible she struck it lucky in the MIQueue lottery when 10s of thousands of others have not, but if that’s the case, why wasn’t that part of the story?

Meanwhile, a lobby group called Grounded Kiwis has crowd-funded to sue the government, while stranded citizens are now considering using sail boats from Australia as the only means to return to the country with all flights cancelled.

Many New Zealanders will think I’m deeply disloyal for writing this column.

Some will troll me on social media, just as they have attacked helpless Kiwis overseas throughout this pandemic. We chose to live out of the country, after all, they say. Or, if you’re to believe many calls to local talk radio, we’re ‘sewer rats’ intending to infect healthy Kiwis with the dreaded ‘rona.

The local media used to cover my every achievement like a proud distant relative. They revelled in the fact I broke the bombshell story of Megxit in my parent’s living room in Wellington over Christmas in 2019, the last time I was able to return to my birthplace.

But since I have been critical of Ardern’s cruel Covid policies, if I am referenced in the media at all, it is as a ‘foreigner’.

Instead of addressing the message, they criticise the messenger.

Any criticism of Ardern and her policies is taken as a direct attack on New Zealand itself.

Civil resistance and protests are strong and common, but all dissenters are either ignored in the largely pro-Ardern media or portrayed as mad anti-vaxxers.

There is no perspective; no analysis of the data or the economic consequences of her decisions; only hysteria that Ardern has tapped into as some sort of smirking soothsayer. . . 

Rumours abound that Ardern hopes to let the border closures go on as long as possible because if she manages to keep Kiwis out of the country for over three years they will be unable to vote in the next general election, where they are widely expected to try and boot her from office.

Throughout the Covid crisis Ardern has attempted to bring New Zealanders together using the hackneyed phrase, ‘We’re a team of five million.’

She is factually wrong, however, because there are six million Kiwis across the globe.

A million of them have been effectively banned from their own country for over two years – and we’re never going to forget it.

The time has come for the international media to stop presenting Ardern as a Covid hero.

Her policies have been nothing short of wicked for Kiwis trapped overseas and her country now provides proof that the isolationism of Zero Covid is downright dangerous. 

Our media has delighted in stories of overseas praise for Ardern from people who are famous for being well-known, and quelle surprise, yesterday when Wootton’s opinion piece was covered, there was another one from a fan.

Distance is leading enchantment to some views, it won’t nearly as rosy for those desperate to return home, a policy that makes New Zealand stand out in the world for a very wrong reason.

Not all of us here are following the pro-Ardern party line. We are worried about not just the lack of preparedness for the Omicron variant, the control freakery that stopped us trying to look after ourselves with rapid antigen tests, and its heartless disregard for citizens stuck overseas, but other problems of the government’s making or on which it has made no progress too.

In no particular order that includes inflation which is predicted to reach the highest level in 30 years, ridiculously high house prices, the lack of action on the appalling rate of child abuse, the $50m plus wasted on the bike bridge to nowhere. . .

Then there’s the time and money being wasted on changes to the health system instead of addressing much-needed improvements to services and the three waters debacle, both of which are made worse by the government’s racist agenda which is creating two types of citizenship where some are a lot more equal than others.

Those praising as they view from afar, are seeing what the government is happy for them to see. Others, like Wootton, and at least some of us here, haven’t bought into the enchantment and have very real concerns about the state of our nation and its abandonment of citizens abroad.

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