Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holy Row Over Mary And Joseph Bed And Board

We've been holding off commenting on the ridiculous bickering over the distinctly westernised and 21 century depictions of a dejected Joseph and a resigned Mary lying between crisply laundered sheets outside an Auckland church, until now.

The boards were supposed make people think about the 'true' meaning of Christmas (True? let's not go there) but both were vandalised within hours of being erected.

Just how the boards were supposed to spark a debate over the meaning of Christmas  is unclear as the obvious message seemed to be that religious fervor was to blame for raging impotence in men and for sexual frustration in women, who are therefore doomed to an eternity of virginity.

The church's vicar, Archdeacon Glynn Cardy said
"What we're trying to do is to get people to think more about what Christmas is all about. Is it about a spiritual male God sending down sperm so a child would be born, or is it about the power of love in our midst as seen in Jesus?"
What it should have done is spark a debate about the true meaning of the cult of Christianity.

It's largely gone unnoticed during this time of Advent that an 80 year old man has just pleaded guilty in an New Plymouth courtroom to assaulting a child. He said he believed he was following the Bible when he used an length of alkathene pipe to punish a child for stealing $1000 from him. The man said he'd been "seeking to correct him in the manner described in the Bible" but he obviously hadn't got to the passage yet about "suffering the little children".

In a true display of how not to turn the other cheek the church's communication manager (churches have communication managers now) who obviously wasn't feeling the power of love in his midst that day, told press that a video recording of the vandalism was to be passed to police and a complaint laid.

Well, at least something got laid.

Today's posts - click here

Albany Armed Robbery Same Day As Paremoreomo Prison Escape

News outlets have recently been given details of an armed robbery that took place at the Westfield shopping mall at Albany, North Shore last Wednesday. The robbery of a security van came within hours of the escape of a prisoner from a nearby prison.

Police are downplaying a possible link between the two events but it does seem strange that news of the hold-up wasn't released to the media until Friday, two days after the event.

Two heavily disguised men robbed the van at around 10.20am and made their get away in a car that had been stolen from Mairangi Bay and which was later found in the underground car park at The Warehouse.

The route from Auckland prison to Albany

View Larger Map
Other armed robberies in Albany this year include the National Bank in August and the ANZ in July. For more details of these and many, many other similar crimes please see "Armed robberies in NZ"

Today's posts - click here

"The Greatest Debate On Earth" BBC Responds To Key's 'Displacement'

 It didn't take long for a canny journalist to find out why Key was dropped from BBC World's "Greatest Debate on Earth. See our blog post yesterday "John Key dumped from climate change debate" for background.

A report has appeared on ABC news saying
"The New Zealand media is reporting that Mr Key has been elbowed out by Mr Rudd.
A spokesman for Mr Key admitted the government was very disappointed with the BBC's decision.
"The spokesman said he had an idea why the BBC changed its mind but he "wasn't going to do their explaining for them".

The BBC has apologised to the New Zealand government but have denied the claim Mr Key was dumped from the debate in favour of Mr Rudd.

"When we approached various people to appear we were told by some, including Mr Key, that they were unavailable," a BBC spokesman said.

"This decision was later changed and we were told Mr Key was available. By this time we had already approached other countries, including Australia, and Kevin Rudd had agreed to join the panel.
"We were then in the difficult position of having two leaders from Australasia on a panel designed to represent global opinion. In the end we accepted the offer of the Australian PM and had to turn down Mr Key."
Which rather suggests that it was Mr Key himself that said he was unavailable and he then changed his mind for some reason. If so it all seems rather odd then for such a fuss to have been made yesterday. Perhaps there was a bit of a mix-up between Key and his press staffers over his availability? if so, are 'heads going to roll'?

Where the truth lies in all this we have no idea but the resulting mud slinging has done little to either enhance NZ's reputation at Copenhagen, or improve the way NZ regards Australia.

No doubt good sense will prevail in the end, we're expecting to see an a very cordial (and very public) display of mutual black slapping shortly between the two leaders.

Today's posts - click here

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bus Slogan Generator

E2NZ has been having fun with a Rule The Web gadget that enables people to make up their very own bus slogan. 

What also caught our eye was the Bullshit Detector. It's based on a list of 200 words which the British Local Government Association says should not be used by councils. On it are subversive words and phrases, for example
  • Blue sky thinking
  • Can do culture 
  • Cohesive communities  
  • Thinking outside of the box 
  • Welcome
  • Worklessness 
 Not all of them are unique to British local government speak are they?

Today's posts - click here

John Key Dumped From Climate Change Debate

 "The Greatest Debate on Earth"

John Key has been bumped from BBC World's Greatest Debate on Earth, however some NZ news outlets are using the word "dumped". Dumped is an emotive word, surely "dropped" would've sounded better?

"Dumped" suggests that someone is deeply embarrassed by the exclusion, there is an element of petulance about it, there is the suggestion of a failed romantic relationship - of a love won and lost. One wonders if the word comes from journalists covering the conference or it it was first used by the PM's press office. Feelings are obviously running high:
"In a move that may stoke trans-Tasman rivalries, Key has been elbowed out of the BBC World (Service) "Greatest Debate on Earth" on Thursday by his Australian counterpart, Kevin Rudd."
 What was the reason for NZ being dropped from the debate - because it has nothing much to add to the debate perhaps (see 'NZ isolated on key Copenhagen issues: Key') or does Rudd just make for better TV? we may never know.
"The spokesman said Key's office was told why the BBC made the decision but preferred it came from the British state broadcaster."
"state broadcaster"?  we do have the makings of an international incident here.

One does have to wonder if Key's recent U turn on his decision not to attend the Copenhagen conference had anything to do with an offer to appear in the BBC's debate. If so, no wonder people are hopping mad.

Watch the trailer

Other bloggers are also thing along the same lines as us, this is taken from
"It was New Zealand  former Prime Minister Helen Clark who was a key player on climate change globally on the leaders’ stage. But sadly Key isn’t, and never has been, despite the PR spin on New Zealand’s news coverage making NZ better than it really is at this year’s Climate Change talks. That should give you a clue about how climate change friendly the government’s so called climate change legislation really is.What his initial inclusion in the BBC debate reveals, however, is how well connected his press secretaries and PR stuff are with the rest of the world’s media..."

For the BBC's response see:
"The Greatest Debate on Earth" BBC responds to Key's 'displacement'

Today's posts - click here

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

At Least One Sex Assault In Palmerston North Every Week

A particularly shocking statistic was released today in an article in the Manawatu Standard when it was revealed that there are 1 or 2 sex attacks in Palmerston North every week and it leaves us wondering is Palmerston North the rape capital of NZ?

Women are warned to be vigilant whilst walking home alone over the Christmas period when it is likely the attack rate will increase, note there is no mention of increasing police patrols over the holiday season:
"Walking home alone after a night on the town could have disastrous consequences for Palmerston North residents during the Christmas and New Year period. 

There are one or two sexual assaults in Palmerston North each week, but police believe the high number of alcohol-fuelled parties over the festive season could lead to an increase in these offences.
Recent attacks in Palmerston North have revealed just how vulnerable to attack women can be while walking the streets at night. 

A man sexually violated a 22-year-old woman on Fitzherbert Ave about 3.30am on May 22.
She fought him off with her stilettos but was left bruised and shaken by the attack.

The man was described as 182cm tall, clean-shaven, of medium to thin build, in his late 30s or early 40s, with medium-length wavy brown hair.

Police are also searching for a man who indecently assaulted a 25-year-old woman on Shamrock St at 8.20pm on October 29.

The man indecently grabbed the woman twice but she managed to fight him off after a short struggle.
He is described as dark-skinned, thin, between 17 and 19 years old and Middle Eastern in appearance. Detective Sergeant Tim Moffatt said attacks were rare but did occur. (ed. at least one a week is rare?)
"Certainly if there is a young, drunk woman walking through the darkened streets of Palmerston North at 2am in the morning, she is a potential victim." (ed. & also at 8.20pm)

Police have also advised people to guard their drinks against spiking at bars. "My recommendation is don't leave your drink lying around," Mr Moffatt said."

 According to Statistics NZ data Palmerston North had a total of 98 reported sex attacks (city 64, rural 34) during 2008, a massive jump from 68 in 2007 (city 44, rural 24) so the news article is correct - an average of 1-2 a week.

But the assaulted aren't always on the streets. In November of last year a 99 year old woman was hospitalised after a savage sex attack and robbery in her Rangiora Avenue home. She later died in hospital. Glen Patrick Joseph Walsh, 20, is to be tried for indecent assault, assault and burglary

Other attacks in the town include:
A female who was seriously assaulted in the Burger King car park
An attack on a 12 year old child
A solider who preyed on a young child
a 17year old who was raped by a national boxing champion near Main Street
Two 14 year old girls who were raped at the Rangitikei Hotel

For other posts about Palmerston North click here 

Today's posts - click here

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Robert Winston Says NZ Fears Technology & Has Poor Values

British Lord Robert Winston, is in NZ for the 2nd International Symposium of Performance Science hosted at Auckland University, the brave man has been voicing his opinions about New Zealand society to the local press. Here are some snippets

TV3 News
"New Zealand is a wonderful country, but it is also a country which I think has some very poor values as well...The fact is that you still rate things like the America's Cup, the All Blacks and the cricket (as) being far too important when actually they don't fundamentally improve human wellbeing...You do some fantastically good science and it's really sad that at the moment your Kiwis are in my laboratory. You are exporting the wrong things, you're exporting your talent, the very talent which might prop up your economy. But there's no future for them in this country"

Stuff (Dom Post)
"New Zealand celebrates attributes which really aren't that important...You do it with sportsmen and you don't do it particularly with intellectuals, for example. In New Zealand, being an intellectual is slightly disadvantageous (ed. only slightly?) and is often seen by the press as being something which is rather well, not to be celebrated."On the other hand, if you are a great rugby player, maybe parts of your private life which are pretty appalling, will go ignored. It is a society which tends to be driven by sailing, by the All Blacks and by the Bledisloe Cup."

Ok Robert, so tell us something we didn't already know! What you are saying will ring a bell with most migrants from developed countries in New Zealand.

What makes for far more interesting reading are the comments from the article caused on Yahoo News' web pages:

Terence Patrick
"Not to put down our sports stars, but the man is absolutely right. I'd go further and say that if you don't play along with the accepted dogma in this country you can almost be vilified. I think it's called " dumbing down " the population. Individual excellence is almost anathema!"

"New Zealanders also, I've noticed, seem to suffer from what is known as 'Tall Poppy Syndrome'. If there is a rising academic or generally clever person, everyone does their best to smother them with things like 'You need to be like everyone else', 'You won't make any friends that way', and the more subtle: 'You should play/watch rugby more.' And then people get confused when I leave the room whenever these things are ...

"i do strongly agree with Lord Winston. Being sports minded is good, i got nothing against that. but i did notice that excelling in sports is more glorified, more prestigious in schools, than excelling in the academics, where you have the thinkers. my boys don't feel as confident in topping tests, they don't want to be called geeks, but it's a different feeling for sports. this is a very debatable topic, depending on which side you prefer. my own opinion though is ..."

"I quite agree with Lord Winston!! Not very long after arriving in New Zealand from London, I was a little more than surprised in fact "gobsmacked", to be told one day during conversation that, "you will never get a job in New Zealand, with an accent like that!!". Did they mean? that my English diction was too good, and that maybe I should sound a little bit more inarticulate??"

Today's posts - click here

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cubicle Dairy Farm Consents Progressing

In line with what we predicted it seems as if the plans to build massive cubicle dairy 'factory' farms are progressing well. Despite what looks like posturing from both the government and Fonterra (the latter already has a similar unit in China) a report in yesterday's Timaru Herald states that resource consents have already been granted for some of the work:

"Waitaki District Council is standing by its decision to grant land-use consent to a proposed series of controversial cubicle dairy farms.
Five Rivers, South Down Holdings and Williamson Holdings have all lodged consent applications with Environment Canterbury for land, air and water use in the Upper Waitaki sites.
The proposals have been criticised by dairy exporter Fonterra, and Prime Minister John Key has said the Government does not support the idea, which would collectively have more than 17,000 cows in 18 cubicle farms for 24 hours a day for eight months of the year, and 12 hours a day for the remaining four months. 

However, the Waitaki District Council, in October, granted land-use consent for intensive farming – collectively involving more than 100ha of earthworks – to all three companies. Five Rivers also received a certificate of compliance to install underground pump stations and pipeline from Lake Ohau.
Planning consents manager David Campbell said as the proposals were not within areas classified as outstanding natural landscapes, the environmental effects these consents would have on the area were considered to be less than minor. "Our plan allows for farming activity within the rural scenic zone, and we did not feel the triggers were reached."

He said because the farms were a long distance away from any nearby property, the council did not feel there were many affected parties..." Read more Here

Which is rather strange considering that 1,500 objections have been lodged, some of them from as far away as Britain and France. Local residents in the area are deeply concerned about the impact on the fragile ecosystem of the Mckenzie Basin, DOC has a 400ha. reserve at Glen Eyre Down and the Aoraki Conservation Board has concerns: From the  Mckenzie Guradians' - Plea to Preserve Paradise

"According to its consent application, Five Rivers hopes to convert about 3800ha near Ohau Downs into dairy farming. The company will establish seven stand-alone dairy farms, which will house the cows up to 300 days of the year. It estimates a total of more than 54,000 litres of dairy effluent will be discharged daily. It proposes to mitigate any harm to water quality through an extensive management plan, including storage ponds.

Southdown Holdings has already lodged consent applications to take water to irrigate Glen Eyre Downs as part of the Upper Waitaki Consent processes and plans to establish six separate stand-alone dairy farms over more than 2100ha. The farms will be able to hold up to 7000 cows in total, leading to a possible daily discharge of more than 93,000 litres of effluent.

The Glen Eyre Downs site is also home to a 400ha Department of Conservation reserve, which acts as a wetland habitat for black stilts, while three watercourses cross the property.

The consent application noted that Southdown Holdings had done significant work in protecting the environment, removing millions of wilding pines in the last two years.

Agricultural research scientist and Aoraki Conservation board member Dr John Keoghan said he was concerned by the developments. “These areas are very fragile,” he said. “The depleted Mackenzie soils have high soluble aluminium levels, and these are intensive operations above and beyond anything that has been done before in the region. “I would like to know how much actual field research, as opposed to modelling, has been done on the effects such intensified farming would have on the region.” Dr Keoghan said that, although he had no problem with dryland farming practices in the region, he was wary at the move towards dairying.

“Even before you get to the issue of nitrate leaching, there are concerns about the visual pollution as well. This can’t be overestimated. One of the appeals of the basin is its tawny tussocks and unique dryland qualities.”

Should Williamson Holdings’ consent application to establish a dairy farm at Killermont Station be accepted, it would cover more than 3600ha and have a maximum of 3850 cows. In its consent application, the company said it was unlikely that leaching or seepage from irrigation would be excessive. (ed. by definition some leaching is likely?)

“Given the rate at which soil is lost from the plains area in the absence of a vegetation cover, this is a positive ecological outcome. The alternative to irrigation is to leave the land as it is and continue to graze or crop it in the absence of additional water. The current status of the land is unproductive.”
The Guardians website posted this update on 9 December:
Opponents of a plan for intensive dairy farming in the MacKenzie Basin have told a consent hearing the irrigation would irreparably destroy the landscape.
Three companies are applying to establish 16 new farms in the upper Waitaki area, with plans to house nearly 18,000 cows in cubicle stables part of the year.
The MacKenzie Guardians environmental group has told a panel of commissioners that the applications are an inappropriate use of an outstanding natural landscape.
Lawyer Phernne Tancock said the proposal would have a significant effect on the ecology and destroy the landscape which was a drawcard for tourists and film companies.
The hearings began two months ago and will continue next year.
One of the companies, Five Rivers Limited, whose director is Kees Zeestraten, wants to establish seven dairy farms with up to 7000 cows at Ohau Downs near Omarama.
Another dairy company owned by Mr Zeestraten, Union Station Dairies in Southland, was this year fined $25,000 for breaching discharge consents.
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says granting the Five Rivers consent applications would be madness, given Mr Zeestraten’s history."
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

For background see NZ farmers plan to 'factory farm' dairy cows

Today's posts - click here


Related Posts with Thumbnails