May 13 in history

May 13, 2015

1373  Julian of Norwich had visions which were later transcribed in her Revelations.

1497 Pope Alexander VI excommunicated Girolamo Savonarola.

1515 Mary Tudor, Queen of France and Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk were officially married at Greenwich.

1568 Battle of Langside: the forces of Mary, Queen of Scots, were defeated by a confederacy of Scottish Protestants under James Stewart, Earl of Moray, her half-brother.

1619 Dutch statesman Johan van Oldenbarnevelt was executed in The Hague after being convicted of treason.

1648  Construction of the Red Fort at Delhi was completed.

1730  Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born (d. 1782).

1779 War of Bavarian Succession: Russian and French mediators at the Congress of Teschen negotiated an end to the war.

1780  Cumberland Compact signed by leaders of the settlers in early Tennessee.

1787 Captain Arthur Phillip left Portsmouth with eleven ships full of convicts (First Fleet) to establish a penal colony in Australia.

1804 Forces sent by Yusuf Karamanli of Tripoli to retake Derne from the Americans attacked the city.

1830 Ecuador gained its independence from Gran Colombia.

1842 Arthur Sullivan, English composer, was born(d. 1900).

1846 – Mexican-American War: The United States declared war on Mexico.

1848  First performance of Finland’s national anthem.

186  American Civil War: Queen Victoria issueds a “proclamation of neutrality” which recognised the breakaway states as having belligerent rights.

1861 – The Great Comet of 1861 was discovered by John Tebbutt of Windsor, New South Wales.

1864American Civil War: Battle of Resaca began with Union General Sherman fighting toward Atlanta, Georgia.

1865 American Civil War: Battle of Palmito Ranch – in far south Texas, more than a month after Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender, the last land battle of the Civil War ended with a Confederate victory.

1880 Thomas Edison performed the first test of his electric railway.

1883 Georgios Papanikolaou, Greek doctor, inventor of the Pap smear, was born (d. 1962).

1888 With the passage of the Lei Áurea (“Golden Law”), Brazil abolished slavery.

1907  Dame Daphne du Maurier, English author, was born (d. 1989).

1909 The first Giro d’Italia took place in Milan. Italian cyclist Luigi Ganna was the winner.

1912 The Royal Flying Corps (now the Royal Air Force) was established in the United Kingdom.

1913 Igor Sikorsky became the first man to pilot a four-engine aircraft.

1917 Three children reported the first apparition of the Virgin Mary in Fátima, Portugal.

1922 Beatrice Arthur, American actress, was born (d. 2009).

1936 NZ National Party was formed.

New Zealand National Party logo.svg

1937 Trevor Baylis, English inventor (wind up radio) was born.

1939 The first commercial FM radio station in the United States was launched in Bloomfield, Connecticut – it later became WDRC-FM.

1940 Bruce Chatwin, British writer, was born (d. 1989).

1940 World War II: Germany’s conquest of France started as the German army crossed the Meuse River. Winston Churchill made his “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” speech to the House of Commons.

1940  Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands fled the Nazi invasion in the Netherlands to Great Britain. Princess Juliana took her children to Canada.

1941 World War II: Yugoslav royal colonel Dragoljub Mihailović started fighting with German occupation troops, beginning the Serbian resistance.

1943 World War II: German Afrika Korps and Italian troops in North Africa surrendered to Allied forces.

1947 Francis Hodgkins, the first New Zealand artist to exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts, died.

Death of Frances Hodgkins

1947 – Mabel Howard became New Zealand’s, and the Commonwealth’s,  first female Cabinet Minister.

1948 Arab-Israeli War: the Kfar Etzion massacre was committed by Arab irregulars.

1950 Danny Kirwan, British musician (Fleetwood Mac), was born.

1950 Stevie Wonder, American singer and musician, was born.

1950 The first round of the Formula One World Championship was held at Silverstone.

1952 The Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India, held its first sitting.

1954 Johnny Logan, Irish singer and songwriter, was born.

1954 Anti-National Service Riots, by Chinese Middle School students in Singapore.

1958  During a visit to Caracas, Vice President Richard Nixon‘s car was attacked by anti-American demonstrators.

1958 The trade mark Velcro was registered.

1958 – May 1958 crisis: a group of French military officers lead a coup in Algiers, demanding that a government of national unity be formed with Charles de Gaulle at its head in order to defend French control of Algeria.

1960  Hundreds of UC Berkeley students congregated for the first day of protest against a visit by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Thirty-one students were arrested, and the Free Speech Movement was born.

1967 Dr. Zakir Hussain became the third President of India – the first Muslim President of Indian Union.

1969  Race riots in Kuala Lumpur.

1972  Faulty electrical wiring ignited a fire underneath the Playtown Cabaret in Osaka, Japan. Blocked exits and non-functional elevators cause 118 fatalities, with many victims leaping to their deaths.

1972 – The Troubles: a car bombing outside a crowded pub in Belfast sparked a two-day gun battle involving the Provisional IRA, Ulster Volunteer Force and British Army. Seven people were killed and over 66 injured.

1980  An F3 tornado hit Kalamazoo County, Michigan.

1981  Mehmet Ali Ağca attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

1985 Police stormed MOVE headquarters in Philadelphia to end a stand-off, killing 11 MOVE members and destroying the homes of 250 city residents.

1986 Alexander Rybak, Norwegian Eurovision Song Contest winner, was born.

1989 Large groups of students occupied Tiananmen Square and begin a hunger strike.

1992 Li Hongzhi gave the first public lecture on Falun Gong in Changchun, China.

1994 Johnny Carson made his last television appearance on Late Show with David Letterman.

1995 – New Zealand won the Americas Cup for the first time.

NZ wins the America's Cup for the first time

1996 Severe thunderstorms and a tornado in Bangladesh killed 600 people.

1998  Race riots break out in Jakarta,  shops owned by Indonesians of Chinese descent were looted and women raped.

1998 – India carried out two nuclear tests at Pokhran.

2000 In Enschede, the Netherlands, a fireworks factory exploded, killing 22 people, wounding 950, and resulting in approximately €450 million in damage.

2005 The Andijan Massacre in Uzbekistan.

2006 A major rebellion occurs in several prisons in Brazil.

2007 – Construction of the Calafat-Vidin Bridge between Romania and Bulgaria started.

2011 –  2011 Charsadda bombing: in the Charsadda District of Pakistan, two bombs exploded, resulting in 98 deaths 140 wounded.

2014 – An explosion at an underground coal mine in south-western Turkey killed 301 miners.

2014 – Major floods in Southeast Europe killed at least 47 people.

 

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Checking out but not leaving

May 12, 2015

The weekend’s National Party Mainland conference was my last as Southern Regional chair.

It was the end of six years in the position and I chose not to seek re-election for several reasons.

I believe you should step down before you lose the enthusiasm and energy needed for what you’re doing.

The year after an election is the best one in the cycle for a change in chair, allowing the new one plenty of time to come to grips with the job before having to work on candidate selections and the election.

One important measure of success is the quality of your successor and I had one who was ready, willing and able to take over.

It’s been a privilege and pleasure to work with other volunteers, MPs and party staff over the last six years. In that time the party has increased its membership, strengthened its financial base and continued to earn the sort of support in polls few parties attain let alone maintain.

That is due to several factors which include the leadership of the parliamentary wing, the volunteers and staff.

It’s not just party faithful like me who admire our leader and the Prime Minister John Key. To be in a third term in government and still attracting similar levels of support in polls to that when first elected requires someone special at the head of a very good team.

Government and governance are never smooth sailing.

In spite of all that’s been thrown at them, the PM and his team have concentrated on what matters to voters – the economy,  education, health and law and order. They also continue to respect and value the voluntary wing.

I’ve been involved in the party for around three decades and have never known such cohesion between and performance by MPs, staff and volunteers.

Judy Kirk was president when I became regional chair. Her successor Peter Goodfellow has built on the foundation she laid.

I have had all the support and communication from the board I could have wished for. On the few occasions I had concerns I needed to talk to Peter, or other board members about, I was taken seriously and got action.

The strong financial position the party is  in is due to the work of the president, the board and strong membership.

One of the reasons membership has grown is the encouragement and support volunteers have had from the board and the service centre.

General manager Greg Hamilton changed the name of headquarters to the service centre and it wasn’t just window dressing. He and his staff provide amazing service to activists and work very hard to ensure members get value for their loyalty.

The importance of that can’t be overstated.

National is, sadly for democracy, the only party left in New Zealand that has a broad based membership of tens of thousands.

Leading those in the south has provided a few challenges, meant a lot of work but also been very rewarding.

I stepped down and have been succeeded by a woman who has the passion, personality and skills to do all that’s required and more.

I’m looking forward to working with her. My two immediate predecessors were women who provided good role models not only for the position but also for continuing to be involved after retiring from it.

Besides, the party is a bit like the Hotel California. I’ve checked out of the office but I won’t be leaving the building.

We’ve got an election to win in 2017 and earning the votes required to do that requires hard work and a team to do it.


Quote of the day

May 4, 2015

But if there is one thing we have learned about being in government, it is that the electorate is always looking forward and not back.

Yes, they want us to implement our election commitments. They want us and in fact expect us to keep our word, and we will.

But more than that, the voters expect a forward-looking agenda from the Government.

. . . They expect a programme that will keep pace with the times and the challenges that they and their families face every day.

That is why is there is no room for complacency.

There is no room for sitting back and thinking that because progress is good that the job is somehow done.

There is always more to do.

And part of that work is staying connected with the electorate – both cities and regions alike – to understand voters’ aspirations and their expectation of government.

Both the Caucus and the party organisation have important roles to play in staying connected. 

My expectation of MPs is that they will work closely with the party to ensure that our connections with local communities are as close as they possibly can be.

Party membership remains at the core of this, and I know that growing membership is a key priority of the Board.

Encouraging more members to become active in campaigns is also important as we head towards seeking a fourth successive election mandate.

So as a party we have a lot of work ahead of us. . . John Key


Let’s get back on-message

March 31, 2015

One of the big disappointments of the Northland by-election was that National went off-message.

Until then the message was clear and consistent – a growing economy is the means for improved services and infrastructure, without compromising the environment, and National’s recipe for that is working.

We’ve had sustained growth, without inflationary pressure, in spite of the financial and natural crisis the government has faced.

That has been achieved by careful management of public finances while looking after the most vulnerable.

A big part of the plan, and its success, is addressing the causes of long-term problems and thereby reducing the costs which go with them.

This is why National has increased money for education and put more in to helping those most at risk from long term welfare dependence.

It is why it has made delivering Better Public Services one of its priorities.

To do this, we set 10 specific measurable targets in 2012 that we expected the public service to achieve over four to five years to improve the lives of New Zealanders, particularly the most vulnerable.

These 10 targets are in areas that have been challenging to governments, not just in New Zealand but all around the world – such as welfare dependency, crime, child abuse, and educational achievement.

This focus on results, and being accountable for achieving them, is changing the way the public service is thinking and operating.

Three years on, we are making progress on all 10 targets and it’s now starting to make a difference that improves the lives of New Zealanders.

In February 2015, we released our twice yearly update on the Better Public Service programme.

Key highlights of the latest update include:

  • Immunisation rates of young babies have reached an all-time high.
  • Rheumatic fever rates have dropped considerably.
  • Crime numbers continue to fall – the crime rate is now at a 35-year low.
  • Last year nearly 5,000 people came off long-term JobSeeker Support benefits and into work.
  • More 18-year olds are achieving NCEA Level 2.
  • More young people are achieving higher qualifications.
  • And the number of children who experienced substantiated physical abuse has decreased by almost 200, or 5.6 per cent, over the past year.

There’s still a lot of work to do and we will continue to focus on making strides on the things that matter to New Zealanders and their families.

These matter everywhere in New Zealand, including the provinces.

But there is no doubt Northland had an itch to which Winston Peters applied his usual prescription of charm without substance.

It is possible that no matter how good a campaign National ran it wouldn’t have been able to counter Peters’ persuasion.

But there would have been a better chance of success had it stuck to its message and it must get back on to it.

It has the right prescription and it must keep applying it everywhere including those parts of the country which, fairly or not, feel it isn’t yet addressing their ills.

 

 


One against too many

March 29, 2015

The Northland by-election delivered a 4,000 vote majority for Winston Peters which is being described as a hiding for National.

But how could our candidate, Mark Osborne, counter all of the left plus some of the centre and centre right who might, or might not, not have understood the consequences of their voting?

One against too many others united in opposition to him was too much.

Given what he was up against and how little time he had, he did well, but sadly not well enough.

I’m not pretending this is anything but bad for National. The party will be doing serious soul-searching and must learn from this.

But National isn’t the only loser.

After the knee-capping by Labour leader Andrew Little, that party’s candidate wasn’t expected to do well but just 1,315 votes must be galling for Willow-Jean Prime.

What does the result say for the left as a whole? The Green party didn’t stand and Mana scraped up only 55 votes.

This wasn’t a win for the left who have lost any moral high ground they might have had from which to criticise National for not campaigning to win electorates.

Previous Labour leaders struggled against Russel Norman who did a better job in Opposition and now Little will have to counter a stronger Peters.

What does this result do for Northlanders? They’ve now got an MP who doesn’t live in the electorate and who will be distracted by his party-leadership responsibilities.

They’ve got two and a half years to work out whether that’s what they need.

And New Zealand, after nearly getting a majority government on election night is back to where it was in the last term with National dependent on Act and the votes of at least one other party to pass legislation.

Ah well, that’s politics and today we’ve got sport to enjoy – Go the Black Caps.

 


What makes a good local MP?

March 27, 2015

Trusty, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind . . .

These are the character traits a Scout or Guide is supposed to demonstrate. They are also essential character traits for a good MP.

Local MPs haven’t been so local anymore since that MMP has decreased the number of electorates and thereby increased their size but that makes availability and commitment to the electorate and its people even more important.

All of this makes me wonder what the people of Northland are thinking if the TV3 poll is right and 54% of them want Winston Peters as their MP when 48% don’t trust him and 9% don’t know if they trust him.

Why would people vote for someone they don’t trust, who doesn’t live in the electorate,  who will be at least as interested in courting the rest of New Zealand as party leader as he is in the people of Northland and who is coming to the end of a political career distinguished at least as much by controversy as accomplishment?

Contrast that with National’s candidate Mark Osborne who lives in the electorate, is in partnership with his wife in a business in the electorate, has children at school in the electorate and as a backbench MP at the start of a political career would have the time and commitment to serve the people of the electorate.

It is even more puzzling when getting Peters as a part-time electorate MP would give more power to both Peter Dunne and the Maori Party.

. . .Those who vote in Northland tomorrow will not remove National from power whatever happens, but they could shift the balance of power in Parliament from Epsom’s David Seymour, who is safely in National’s pocket, to Peter Dunne and the Maori Party. They will be the real winners if Northland elects Winston Peters. . .

And the losers will be all of New Zealand which needs a strong, stable government and the people of Northland who need a good local MP.


Little hints

March 9, 2015

Labour leader Andrew leader can’t quite bring himself to tell Northland voters not to vote for his party’s candidate Willow-Jean Prime but he’s dropping little – or should that be Little? – hints:

Mr Little told TVNZ One’s Q+A programme that Labour will not pull its candidate Willow-Jean Prime from the by-election contest, despite a Q+A Colmar Brunton poll showing Mr Peters would win if she was not in the running.

However, he called for left voters to be “realistic” with their candidate choice.

“They’ve got a vote they should use it. If they want to vote to send a message to the Government …

“They are intelligent enough to see how they can do that.” . .

Every election Labour has criticised National for electoral accommodations in Epsom and Ohariu but now he thinks it would be too his advantage, Little is indicating he’s willing to do just that.

He’s throwing his candidate under the wheels of Peters’ bus, not to help Labour or Northland but, as Rodney Hide points out, to get a New Zealand First list MP in Invercargill and give more power to Peter Dunne:

. . . A Peters win would destabilise the Government and power up a Wellington electorate MP. Ohariu would benefit – not Northland. On winning Northland, Peters would resign as a list MP to clear the way for the next candidate on New Zealand First’s list. That candidate is Ria Bond … from Invercargill.

That’s right. In choosing Peters, Northland voters would be electing an MP from Invercargill.

Those in the Far North would elect a candidate from the deep south.

But it gets better.

Peters lives in Auckland. Parliament is in Wellington. That’s how he divides his time. Kerikeri is 250km north of Auckland. So Peters is asking the people of Northland to vote for an Aucklander to elect an MP from Invercargill and empower an MP from Wellington. . .

This would not bring down the government but it would make it more difficult for it to pass legislation and give Dunne and the two other government partners – Act and the Maori Party – a lot more bargaining power.

That won’t help Labour this term, nor will it make it any easier for it and its potential coalition partners to gain enough seats to govern next term.

In fact it might make it more difficult because the Little hints make him look downright shifty.

When National campaigns in Epsom and Ohariu it is open about campaigning only for the party vote and it ensures its candidates are high enough on its list to get into parliament.

Little isn’t being open, he’s trying to have a bob each way. He hasn’t clearly said voters should ditch Prime for Peters but nor has he said they shouldn’t. Yet he’s prevaricating enough to handicap his candidate and there’s no list seats up for grabs in a by-election to compensate her for her wasted efforts.

And what’s in this political playing for the people of Northland?

. . . Peters is 70 this year. It’s a long way from Auckland to Northland. It’s even further across the electorate. Peters will be bogged down and busy doing the bare minimum needed to be local MP. I doubt the region will be much troubled by him.

And he would lose in 2017. Northland will return a National candidate in a General Election.

It has been 40 years since Peters stood for Northern Maori. He’s late in rediscovering the north but his campaign is exciting.

I believe he prefers a close second. Winning would be altogether too much work.

Little is willing to sabotage his candidate to help Peters who will have neither the will nor the energy to service the large Northland electorate and its many communities while also attending to the demands of party leadership.

We can but hope the people of Northland will have learned from Tauranga voters who saw through him and send both him and Labour a message: they need an MP who lives in the electorate who will be in government and who will represent them well and work hard for them.

There’s only one of those standing – National’s Mark Osborne.

 

 


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