Independence Day

July 4, 2013

It’s the fourth of July here which is Independence Day in the USA, except it’s only July the third there.

It’s still the third in Egypt where a full military coup has ousted President President Mohamed Mursi.

Egypt’s army deployed tanks and troops close to the presidential palace in Cairo on Wednesday after a military deadline for Islamist President Mohamed Mursi to yield to street protests passed without any agreement.

Mursi’s national security adviser said a military coup was under way as armed forces commander General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met political, religious and youth leaders.

Egypt’s state-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported on its website that the army told President Mohamed Mursi at 7 p.m. (1700 GMT) that he was no longer head of state. It quoted a presidential source.

Meanwhile the state news agency MENA said they would make a joint announcement of a roadmap for a new transitional period and new elections two years after the overthrow of autocratic ex-president Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising. . .

Hopes were high that the Arab Spring would bring democracy, and prosperity, to Egypt.

Two years later those hopes have yet to be realised.

Happy Independence USA.

Good luck Egypt.


Former Eqyptian president Mubarak declared dead – updated

June 20, 2012

As Egyptians rallied in Cairo to protest against a decision by the ruling military council to assume new powers  the country’s former president, Hosni Mubarak, was declared dead.

He’d been sentenced to life imprisonment a few weeks ago for complicity in the killings of protesters during the uprising that ended his 30-year rule.

One dictator has gone but Egyptian’s still face an uncertain political future.

UPDATE: There are now conflicting reports and Reuters is saying that Mubarak is unconscious and on a respirator but not dead.


Does the army rule ok?

February 12, 2011

It’s a poor reflection on Egypt when rule by the army is regarded as a cause for celebration after 30 years under ex-President Hosni Mubarak.

Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, who is now in charge, will have a period of grace while decisions are made on where-to-from-here.

But change by itself does not necessarily bring improvement and the removal of a dictator does not automatically result in democracy or stability.


February 22 in history

February 22, 2010

On February 22:

1495 King Charles VIII of France entered Naples to claim the city’s throne.

1632 Galileo‘s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems was published.

 

1732 George Washington, First President of the United States, was born.

1744 War of the Austrian Succession: The Battle of Toulon started.

Action off toulon 4.jpg

1797 The Last Invasion of Britain started near Fishguard, Wales.

1819 James Russell Lowell, American poet and essayist (, was born.

1819 By the Adams-Onís Treaty, Spain sold Florida to the United States for $US5m.

 

1847 Mexican-American War: The Battle of Buena Vista – 5,000 American troops drive off 15,000 Mexicans.

Battle of Buena Vista Nebel.jpg

1855 Pennsylvania State University was founded as the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania State University seal.svg

1856 The Republican Party opened its first national meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

"Republican Party Elephant" logo

1857 Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell, English founder of the Scout movement (, was born.

Robert Baden-Powell

1862 Jefferson Davis was officially inaugurated for a six-year term as the President of the Confederate States of America in Richmond, Virginia.

1879 Frank Woolworth opened the first of many of 5 and 10-cent Woolworth stores.

1882 The Serbian kingdom was refounded.

1889 Olave Baden-Powell, English founder of the Girl Guide, was born.

1902 The Kelburn cable car opened.

Kelburn cable car opens

1904 The United Kingdom sold  a meteorological station on the South Orkney Islands to Argentina.

 

1908  Sir John Mills, English actor, was born.

1915 Germany instituted unrestricted submarine warfare.

1918 Robert Wadlow, American tallest ever-human, was born.

Robert Wadlow compared to his father, Harold Franklin Wadlow

1922 Britain unilaterally declared the independence of Egypt.

1924 U.S. President Calvin Coolidge was the first President to deliver a radio broadcast from the White House.

1926 Kenneth Williams, English actor, was born.

1943  Members of White Rose were executed in Nazi Germany.

 Members of the White Rose, Munich 1942. From left: Hans Scholl, his sister Sophie Scholl, and Christoph Probst. Courtesy of United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

1928 Bruce Forsyth, British entertainer, was born.

1944 American aircraft bombard the Dutch towns of Nijmegen, Arnhem, Enschede and Deventer by mistake, resulting in 800 dead in Nijmegen alone.

1948 Communist coup in Czechoslovakia.

1950  Julie Walters, English actress, was born.

1958 Egypt and Syria joined to form the United Arab Republic.

1959 Lee Petty won the first Daytona 500.

 

1962  Steve Irwin, Australian herpetologist, was born.

197 An  Irish Republican Army car bomb was detonated at Aldershot barracks, killing seven and injuring nineteen others.

1974 Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) summit conference started in Lahore.

1979 Independence of Saint Lucia from the United Kingdom.

1980 Miracle on Ice: the United States hockey team defeated the Soviet Union hockey team 4-3, in what is considered to be one of the greatest upsets in sports history.

 

1983 The Broadway flop Moose Murders opened and closed on the same night at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre.

 

1986 Start of the People Power Revolution in the Philippines.

 

1994 Aldrich Ames and his wife Maria del Rosario Casas Dupuy, were charged by the United States Department of Justice with spying for the Soviet Union.

1995 The Corona reconnaissance satellite program, was declassified.

 

1997 Scottish scientists announced that an adult sheep named Dolly had been successfully cloned.

 

2002 Angolan political and rebel leader Jonas Savimbi was killed in a military ambush.

 

2006 At least six men staged Britain’s biggest robbery ever, stealing £53m (about $92.5 million or 78€ million) from a Securitas depot in Tonbridge, Kent.

 Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Bad press for pigs depressing for pork farmers

April 30, 2009

New Zealand pig farmers are already concerned about the impact imports of pork and associated products will have on their business and now they’re worried that swine flu will put people off bacon, ham and pork altogether.

It’s already happening in the USA where the price of pigs has fallen and  several countries have taken the opportunity the outbreak offers to impose non-tarrif barriers by banning imports from Mexico and parts of the USA.

As goNZo Freakpower  noted:

You can’t get pig flu from eating pork, but banning imports does help favour domestic interests.

But fear doesn’t worry too much about the facts and if people are worried about swine flu they might take the better safe than sorry approach to pig meat regardless of where it comes from.

The European Union Health Commission is trying to stem the tide against pork by changing the flu’s name:

“Not to have a negative effect on our industry, we decided to call it novel flu from now on,” European Union Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou told reporters in Brussels.

I don’t think that will work. Swine flu strikes me as a very appropriate name for an illness which, what ever you call it is a pig of a thing and has already given rise to a rash of jokes .

Not that it’s a laughing matter and the over reaction in Egypt where an order has been made to cull all pigs  is no joke.

It’s not going to stop the spread of the virus and while it will certainly reduce the supply of pig meat, fear of flu will also depress demand – even though there is no risk of infection from eating pork.

There’s no comfort in that for pig farmers here, but their loss may lead to gains for sheep and beef farmers. Lamb sales increased when outbreaks of BSE put people off beef and people who stop eating pork because of swine flu might turn to beef and lamb instead.


His story

April 25, 2009

My father came to New Zealand, from his home country, Scotland, in the late 1930s. He worked for relatives on a station in the Hakatarmea Valley.

 

While there he joined the Otago Mounted Rifles as a territorial. When war broke out Dad enlisted with the 20th Battalion and went overseas to fight in Egypt and Italy.

 

He was badly burnt when a tank exploded and spent a fortnight in a saline bath. He was later taken prisoner but managed to escape and find his way back to allied troops. Dad was one of the soldiers described by Battalion commander Jim Burrows as those magnificent men after the break out from Minqar Qaim.

 

He didn’t talk much about what the war was like – but we do have a photo of Dad and four others which illustrates it: They were part of the company of 120 who started the battle of Ruweisat Ridge, and those five in the photo were the only ones left on survivors’ parade at the battle’s end.

 

When his active service finished after the Battle of Casino, Dad stayed with the New Zealand army and was posted to London as a driver. One night he was called to take Lord and Lady Freyberg to the Dorchester Hotel. The only vehicle available was a three tonne truck so he put a chair in the back for the General and Lady Freyburg sat in the cab.  When he pulled up outside the Dorchester, beside Eisenhower’s car, the doorman rushed up to direct him to the tradesman’s entrance. However, Dad ignored his agitated “round the back Chum”, helped his passengers out and drove off leaving the doorman speechless.

 

After the war Dad sailed back to New Zealand. He was manpowered to the freezing works at Pukeuri where he worked 18 hour days, six days a week. Then he got an adult apprenticeship as a carpenter in Oamaru.

 

Dad died in 1999 and as I wrote on the earlier post about my mother’s memories, I have lots of questions I regret not asking him.


Anchor’s ahoy in Egypt

April 8, 2009

Fonterra is launching its Anchor brand in Egypt through a five-year deal with Arab Dairy.

Egypt has the highest population in the Middle East – 80 million people, over a third of them under the age of 14 – and consumes 470,000 tonnes of dairy product a year.

But Fonterra also views Egypt as a regional low-cost production centre which can act as a gateway to over a billion people in other parts of the Middle East and Africa.

Egypt has free trade agreements with regional markets which will reduce the import duties paid on Anchor products.

This deal will open doors to new markets for our produce but we may face opposition from local producers:

Separately, the Egyptian Government is reported to be preparing to pay local dairy farmers 100m Egyptian pounds in subsidies over three months, because farmers claim they cannot afford to reduce milk prices below the current price of 2.7 Egyptian pounds (NZ83c) per kilogram.

Yet another illustration that subsidies distort market signals.

How much easier it is to ask for a government handout than work out why your produce costs too much. It works in the short term but it’s expensive in the longterm becasue subsidies cost everyone twice – first as taxpayers and then again when they’re forced to pay more as consumers. 


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