Friday, December 11, 2009

Libby Templeman Remembered On The Anniversary Of Her Death

Family and friends have gathered to mark the anniversary of the tragic death of British schoolgirl Libby Templeman who was murdered in the small Northland town of Kerikeri on 1 November 1 2008.

Her mother Rebecca told the press
"This past year has felt like 10 years, going so slowly yet it only feels like a couple of months ago that we last saw and heard our beautiful, vibrant daughter. Her ‘surround sound’ is greatly missed," says Rebecca.

"Each day we wake up, and just breath in and out in the hope that we have the strength to make it through another day. Trying not to suffer the pain in which Libby was taken from us so violently. "We live her last few minutes every day, like a looped recording, reeling in the disbelief, pain and humiliation in which she suffered.

"So many emotions, so many unanswered questions, but the main one being: ‘Why’. Never shall we understand or accept and nor should we. No one should."
 Our heart goes out to them for their awful loss and for the pain they must endure every day.

A boy, who was 14 at the time of Libby's passing, was arrested 5 days after she was found and has been charged with indecent assault and murder. He is due to stand trial on February 8, has name suppression and is in the custody of Child, Youth and Family in Auckland. Posters on Libby's Bebo page have already named the boy who they think is being held, they say he was at school with Libby in Kerikeri and helped look for her after she disappeared.

"Friend of murdered Brit Liberty Templeman charged": Article in the UK Daily Mirror
"Boy, 14, charged with Liberty's sex murder": Article in the UK Sun

Bebo Tribute Page for Libby - link

Today's posts - click here

Another British Migrant May Be Forced To Leave NZ

It looks as if there is evidence that the colloquially named "Jobs for kiwis" policy may still be being implemented in New Zealand. A highly regarded British employee may be forced to leave the country because his work permit may not be renewed despite his employer being unable to find someone to fill the post. This is from an article by Rhonda Markby in the Timaru Herald 
Boss can't find worker to replace Brit

"Timaru businessman Stuart Cushing has not found himself a new employee.

And his former employee, a man he would happily still be employing, still hopes to convince Immigration Services he should not have to leave New Zealand. The problems started for Mr Cushing and his employee of one year, Robin White, a month ago when Mr White was told his year-long work permit would not be renewed. Mr White and his family came to New Zealand from Britain for the start of what they expected to be a new life. 

Mr Cushing had advertised a job vacancy, Mr White had applied, and the pair had worked together successfully.The problems started when Mr White applied for his work permit to be extended.
It was not renewed as the Immigration Service believed there were New Zealanders available to take up the position, which involved carrying out building alterations for those with disabilities.
Winz has been unable to find a suitable employee for Mr Cushing.

He then advertised the vacancy, but of the four or five who applied, none wanted to work fulltime. As Mr Cushing does not have all the skills required to carry out the alterations himself, he is considering closing his company.

Mr White has contacted Rangitata MP Jo Goodhew and Immigration Services to investigate options that would enable him to get a new work permit. That permit would also allow his family to remain in New Zealand after January 20."
Another article by the same reporter "Temporary visa gives no guarantee" adds the following information:
"Though about 30 per cent of all temporary workers gained permanent residency within five years, only 22 per cent of temporary workers from Britain did so. "
Head of Immigration New Zealand is reported as having said:
"The service's policy had always been based on ensuring New Zealanders had the first opportunity to fill job vacancies."
But, as we've maintained before, if Kiwis were available/willing/able to do the work migrants would not have been brought in to New Zealand in the first place. Why force out gainfully employed migrants to free up their jobs for New Zealander's?

How important is migration to the NZ economy? the words "life and blood" immediately spring to mind. In a recent conference on the Economic Impact of Migration in New Zealand Jonathan Coleman said
"If we closed off immigration entirely the consequences for our economy would be profound. Without current levels of inward migration, within 15 years, both our population base and economy would shrink dramatically. The statistics speak for themselves.

By 2021, our population would drop by 9.6 per cent.

Our GDP would drop by 11.3 per cent.

There would be a 10.9 per cent drop in the available labour force.

The export sector would be savaged with volumes dropping by 12.9 per cent.

And to complete the picture, GDP per capita would fall by 1.8 percent - $1,000 for every man woman and child in New Zealand.

That is a frightening picture of a blighted future that illustrates in the starkest terms why immigration matters. If any doubts about this still persist, they must surely be extinguished by the findings of this very important report..." read more here
 So why take such a hard line on forcing migrant out of stable and secure jobs as their permits expire? on the off chance that there may be a New Zealander somewhere in the country that may fancy having a stab at doing it?

For posts about other migrants similarly affected see label :  Jobs for Kiwis
See also:
Migrants' Tales - excerpts from migrant accounts about the issues they face in NZ and a UK Daily Mail article "Expat's paradise lost in NZ's job crisis"

Today's posts - click here

Karmail Singh Refused Entry To Club Because He Wore A Turban

In an incredibly dehumanising and insensitive example of both religious and racial bigotry gentleman Karnail Singh turned up to a lunch at the Manurewa Cosmopolitan Club (ed. cosmopolitan?) to honour his service to the community and was forced to return home because "headwear" was not allowed in the club. According to Hannah Norton of the Manukau Courier:

"Club staff told him the turban was "headwear" and wearing headwear in the club’s bar is against the club rules.He could wear the turban in the club’s function room but he would have to go through the bar to get to it. 

 photo Neil Duddy
But Mr Singh says taking his turban off was out of the question – it’s a religious requirement that’s seen him wear it since he was six years old. He even wears a small one when he goes to bed. "This is not headwear – this is part of my religion," he says. "
the article concluded with the following:
"When approached by the Manukau Courier, cosmopolitan club manager Patricia Rangi refused to comment claiming the paper covered "only bad news"."We don’t have a comment – it’s old news and the guy is wrong."

No. He wasn't.

He was being asked to submit to the equivalent of a strip search before being allowed to enter a social club, it's only a special brand of warped logic that can accuse him for being at fault.

But surely Pat Rangi's point of view isn't typical of many other New Zealander's?  I hear you ask. The story attracted pages and pages of responses from Herald readers and many of them supported both her and the club's stance. There are some very poor comments about religious tolerance and immigration. Here's the link if you want to read them, we won't be repeating them here.

 Today's posts - click here

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

NZ Farmers Plan To 'Factory Farm' Dairy Cows

Reports are saying that farming companies and the government are locking horns over applications to set-up 16 factory diary farms in NZ.

"Three companies* have applied to set up 16 new farms in the central South Island's Mackenzie Basin, keeping up to 18,000 cows in cubicle stables** 24 hours a day for eight months of the year

In Parliament yesterday Prime Minister John Key said the Government didn't support it and Agriculture Minister David Carter had asked for urgent advice about how it was affected by the animal welfare code. (ed. we hope this is better for cows than for NZ's sows in stalls)

Federated Farmers said the "so-called factory farming" cut costs, was environmentally friendly and would not tarnish New Zealand's international reputation."

Are they living on the same planet as the rest of us?

Ads like the above and images of "Anchor" cows merrily munching through acres of pristine green, green grass have been used for decades to sell NZ dairy to the world. It's naive to imagine that the average consumer, who already searches out free range eggs and poultry in the supermarket and is starting to do the same with pork products, is going to buy dairy from cows kept in stalls for the majority of the year. One can only guess what these penned cows will be fed on...palm kernel cake perhaps? NZ already buys 1.1 million tonnes of the stuff, second only to the whole of the EC.

 "We are lucky cows..."

Ah but wait...New Zealand has a precedents for this. Dairy "giant" Fonterra (who have 'come out' against the proposal) already has a 35ha Chinese farm in Tangshan, Hebei province, east of Beijing. 3000 Freisian heifers arrived on the farm from NZ in May 2008 and the herd now has more than 4858 animals. The cows are milked three times a day, producing enough milk to fill 2  30-tonne tankers each day. It is a containment system, not pastoral, so the cows live inside and do not graze grass. See "Fonterra's feedlot farm in China underway". The construction of the farm was managed by Beca International, an employee owned independent company founded in NZ over 8o years ago.

When John Key visited China recently with his "Gang of Seven" to drum up business for New Zealand the group included Fonterra chairman Henry van der Heyden and  Beca Group chairman Robert Durrant. We leave you to draw your own conclusions.

And some farms in New Zealand already have the barns in place, such as this north Otago dairy farm at Papapkaio near Oamaru. It's only a 600 unit facility, but there's no indication of how long the cows will stay in the barn for each year. So are the current advertising campaigns already stretching the point?

 "there's no such thing as the great indoors, only our cows are free to roam all year round"

Given the massive profits that dairy farming, in both NZ and China, generates for the NZ economy every year the politicians' objections sound like nothing other than political grandstanding. We predict that it is highly likely these plans will go ahead, and if the practice is shown to be successful many more farmers will follow suit.

* Southdown Holdings, Five Rivers, and Williamson Holdings (source)

** TechniPharm - "BIG Farms, BIG Sheds, BIG Results" (click on link to see photos) are said to be supplying the massive concrete floored, cubicled sheds.

They design units for herds of 100-3,000 cows. The cost of a 600 cow unit is thought to be $2-2.5 million. The largest shed is 135m (1.5 times the length of a rugby field) by 34m - 5,000sqm (4,590 sqm to be exact) Based on the given figures for the maximum shed and herd sizes (5,000/3,000) that seems to equate to a space of 1.53 - 1.6 square metres per cow, not allowing for walkways and channels, which seems very small.

The argument that cubicled cows must be 'happy' otherwise they would simply stop producing milk is an invalid one - sows crammed into tight stalls bear multiple litters to full term and keep lactating despite their confined conditions and battery hens would've been phased out years ago if they failed to produce eggs.

Later reports in the Timaru Herald stated that "The cows would be installed in cubicles for 24 hours a day for eight months of the year, and 12 hours a day for the remaining four months." and that the government were planning to stay out of the debate for the time being.

See also:
Cubicle dairy farmer fined 3 times:
"Cornelis Zeestraten, also known as Kees, is the director of Five Rivers Ltd, which wants to build seven dairy farms near Omarama, with plans to keep up to 7,000 cows in cubicle stables 24 hours a day for up to eight months of the year. Zeestraten is also the director of Union Station Dairies Ltd, which owns a Tussock Creek (Central Southland) farm that was fined $25,000 by the Environment Court in August for unlawfully discharging dairy shed effluent to land. The company was fined $5000 in 2004, and $15,000 in 2007, for similar offending."

"Plea to preserve paradise"
Fragile ecosystems in the Mckenzie Basin are threatened by dairying expansion.

"Dairy Farming - The factory farmed fool's gold"
Page with links and resources from SAFE

18 March 2010
Dairy farms getting dirtier: Some regions in NZ have pollution compliance rates as low as 39% with significant damage caused to the environment.

Today's posts - click here

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Zealand's Double Accounting On Carbon Credits

The Guardian columnist Fred Pearce has published a response to the NZ government's rebuttal of his report last month about the country's shameful attempts at Greenwashing. (See 100% pure myth exposed by British press for background)

In his most recent report he has accused the government of keeping two sets of carbons accounts. Even though he accepts that New Zealand is absorbing more carbon today than it was in 1990, he states that it is only a"bit more" and not enough to bring it under Kyoto compliance. He goes on to say that a spokesman to climate change minister Nick Smith told him that
"those are not the only numbers. "The convention inventory includes a wider set of activities than under the Kyoto protocol." In a nutshell, the Kyoto protocol allows New Zealand to ignore what is happening across the wider landscape and simply report the growth of its 600,000 hectares of new forests, planted mostly during the 1990s.

That sounds dodgy, though within the Kyoto rules. Even so, if these "Kyoto forests" had been specifically planted as part of a genuine policy to cut the country's long-term contribution to global warming – we might still applaud.

Unfortunately it is not quite like that. Those forests are not long-term sinks; they are commercial plantations. As Smith's spokesman told me, they "are likely to be harvested in the 2020s". And, he added: "The government has no intention to ban the harvest." When they are harvested their carbon will return to the atmosphere."
 Which means that New Zealand is simply passing on the problem to a future generation to deal with when the forests are felled in 2020, a time in which even deeper cuts in emissions will be required.
"The government's own civil servants seem to agree. The New Zealand Treasury recently called the carbon accumulating in the Kyoto forests a "contingent liability". It warned that negotiators should take this into account when agreeing future emissions targets – such as a Copenhagen deal on 2020 emissions.

There is a final problem for New Zealand's carbon credentials. The government's scientists have, in the past couple of years, been reassessing all their figures in a way remarkably beneficial to the government. Last April, they reported to ministers of the incoming government that emissions from deforestation were almost 10m tonnes a year less than previously supposed "due to new data showing smaller trees being felled". Meanwhile, they said, the Kyoto forests were absorbing a quarter more carbon than previously supposed "due to the trees not being thinned and being planted on better soils.

Cheat's Charter
Very handy. But even Smith was moved to note the "volatility" of the numbers.
A number of scientists have been pointing out for some years that the Kyoto rules on forests were an Achilles heel in the protocol. "If [countries] plant sink forests and make inflated claims for them, they know it will be impossible to either prove or disprove those claims. It really is a cheat's charter," warned Michael Obersteiner of the forestry division of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), a thinktank based in Laxenburg, Austria, back in 2000.
It may not be cheating, but New Zealand seems determined to prove him right."

Only brave soul has leaped to New Zealand's defence by stating that carbon will be sequestered in construction timber, whilst this may be true to a certain extent New Zealand households burn one heck of a lot of wood to keep warm every winter. One study of a large Lyttleton house with a floor area of 330 sq m, showed it used little electricity but more than 53,000KWh worth of firewood each year whilst another promoted as a zero energy home used an LPG heater and a log burner with a wetback. See NZ's high winter death rate and burning wood to keep warm

In June of this year  the Environment Minister Nick Smith admitted that 10 NZ cities and towns are unlikely to meet air quality targets by the year 2013, saying that the overwhelming proportion of pollution is caused by home fires. And the solution to not meeting those targets?.....the goal posts will be moved.

No doubt they too were made of wood.

Today's posts - click here

Genital Mutilation Of Children In New Zealand, Botched Circumcision Puts Child In Hospital

We were all shocked to hear that genital mutilation is still carried out on children in the 21st Century in New Zealand. In a series of events that would not have been out of place in an account by Christopher Hitchens, a boy of 4 years old has been hospitalised after a circumcision operation  severed an artery in his penis, another boy aged 14 screamed in pain as his operation was performed. TV3 has reported:

"The botched operation, which saw the (4 year old) boy require emergency hospitalisation, was performed at an unnamed medical centre in January by a general practitioner, assisted by a doctor unqualified to practice in New Zealand and the doctor's wife.

The commissioner's report recommended the doctor in charge of the operation review which patients he performed operations on - "giving particular consideration whether he should undertake circumcisions in boys aged older than six months.

"This case illustrates what can happen when a doctor is unfamiliar with, or chooses not to follow, recommended guidelines for a surgical procedure. It also highlights why patients (or their parents) need to be provided with adequate information so they can make an informed choice and give their informed consent."
Informed consent? whose informed consent....the child was given no chance to withhold his consent, informed or otherwise. Such are the rights of the child in New Zealand.

There would have been a national outcry and a swift prosection if this had been a genital circumcision and infibulation (botched or otherwise) of a female child, outlawed by Part 8: Crimes Against the Person of The Crimes Act 1961.

The rest of the report is deeply disturbing and some readers may find the following distressing:
"On arriving at the medical centre, the parents and the young patient were directed to the waiting room, with the doctor busy performing a circumcision on another patient, a 14-year-old boy.

The family were concerned to hear the screams of the older boy.

The clinic's manager, and wife of the operating doctor, told them, although the 14-year-old had been given the maximum dose of morphine, he was "too sensitive and could not handle the pain", the report said.

The boy's mother told the commissioner the child was taken into the operating room, was given an injection, then cut into seconds later, before the painkiller had time to take effect.

Seeing her son in pain caused the mother to start crying, at which point she was ordered out of the room by the doctor, apparently for passing her anxiety onto the child and disturbing him. About 10 minutes later, the boy's father was also ejected from the room.

"We could hear our son crying for help and begging us not to leave him there by himself. He kept asking them to let us in but they wouldn't listen," she said.

These unfortunate children were coerced, operated on and traumatised when it was evident that consent was neither properly informed nor maintained. No-one should have the "right" to inflict this on children in this day and age.

Under the Crimes Act there is no defence that the person on whom the act was done consented to that act, or that the person charged believed that such consent had been given. But this only applies to female genital mutilation, we think it's time that the law is amended to include circumcision of males below the age at which they are able to give a proper, fully considered consent and that protection be afforded to all children in New Zealand.

Some of New Zealand's closest neighbours have already introduced measures to limit the practice of child circumcision. The Australian states of Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania have stopped the practice of non-therapeutic male circumcision in all public hospitals.  with the Tasmanian President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Haydn Walters, stating that "the AMA would support a call to ban circumcision for non-medical, non-religious reasons" (Wikipedia)

Further afield, in Canada "the Fetus and Newborn Committee of the Canadian Paediatric Society posted "Neonatal circumcision revisited" in 1996 and "Circumcision: Information for Parents" in November 2004. The 1996 position statement says that "circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed" and the 2004 information to parents says: 'Circumcision is a "non-therapeutic" procedure, which means it is not medically necessary. Parents who decide to circumcise their newborns often do so for religious, social, or cultural reasons. [...] After reviewing the scientific evidence for and against circumcision, the CPS does not recommend routine circumcision for newborn boys. Many paediatricians no longer perform circumcisions.

The British Medical Association provides "that “male circumcision is generally assumed to be lawful provided that it is performed competently; it is believed to be in the child’s best interests; and there is valid consent” from both parents and the child, if possible." The BMS stipulates that “competent children may decide for themselves; the wishes that children express must be taken into account; if parents disagree, non-therapeutic circumcision must not be carried out without the leave of a court; consent should be confirmed in writing."

As far as we are aware virtually all of the 100,000 Tongan and Samoan males in New Zealand are circumcised. The procedure is not routinely available through the public health system so children are operated on in private surgeries and health clinics, at a cost of around $400. It is considered to be a “a solemn ritual” and an important male rite of passage carried out between the ages of seven and 15 years. “Being circumcised is sign of manliness and sexual prowess. Not to be circumcised can bring shame on a man and his partner and family.” source. It should be noted that it does not seem to be a 'religious' practice for many people and that it was being carried out in the Pacific Islands before the arrival of Europeans.

Today's posts - click here


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