Wednesday, April 30, 2014

P&G Adopts No-Deforestation

Another win for People Power and the planet.
Proctor and Gamble announced this month that, to stop further deforestation, it will cease using palm oil in its products. The world's largest consumer products company made the decision after receiving 400,000 emails from around the world.
The no-deforestation policy promises to remove forest destruction from its palm oil supply chain, by ensuring all its suppliers guarantee no conversion of peat lands, respect local communities and protect high carbon and high conservation value areas. It says all of its suppliers will be 100% forest-friendly by 2020.
Although this sounds encouraging, at this very moment there are 7,300 orangutans, and as few as 400 Sumatran tigers left, which are at risk of being homeless. Both species are on the endangered list and could become extinct if deforestation continues. Six years is a long time to wait when whole species could be lost forever.
P and G joins a group of other palm oil traders and consumers – Nestle, L'Oreal, Colgate-Palmolive, Unilever, Mars, Kellogg, Safeway, Delhaize, Ferrero, GAR and Wilmar – in their commitment to ending deforestation.
Although saving the habitat of wild animals is highly commendable, it would also be wonderful if they saved the animal themselves by no longer using them for product testing...

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Pacific Whaling Begins

Japan began its annual Pacific whale hunt this week.
But - maybe due to its faceslap by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) - it's targeting fewer whales. Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said the Pacific catch target was being slashed by nearly half, from the current 380 to about 210.
Japan also announced it will merely OBSERVE whales in the Antarctic next season, with the aim of later resuming full-fledged commercial whaling.
Last week's announcement shows Japan has NOT dumped plans to continue whaling in both oceans for research purposes AT ALL!
Last month, the ICJ ordered Japan to suspend Antarctic whaling because it was virtually commercial, not "scientific" as Japan claimed. The ICJ said Japan produced little actual research and failed to explain why it needed to kill so many whales in order to study them. The ruling left Japan the option of 'tweeking' its whaling to be more "scientific" (though any new Antarctic plan would face intense scrutiny). Experts said the ruling could be a convenient, face-saving solution for Japan to scale back the research whaling as it struggles with growing stockpiles of whale meat and escalating anti-whaling protests.
The annual spring hunt along Japan's northern coast started this week, the distant northern Pacific expedition rolls out in May, with another coastal hunt planned in the Northern autumn.
Minister Hayashi: "We will continue our research hunts aimed at collecting scientific data and seek to resume commercial whaling. We re-examined the content of our research programmes and came up with the plans that give the maximum consideration to the ruling, and we plan to fully explain that to other countries."
He says Japan will limit next season's Antarctic programme to whale observation, but plans to return to the southern seas with hunting plans under a new programme for the 2015-2016 season. Japan aims to submit new Antarctic and Pacific programmes to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) later this year.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Anzac Day: The First Hundred Years


Today we remember those who put their lives on the line and those who are currently doing the same.
It is a day for honouring those who fell, those who served and those who are serving now.
It is a day to put yourself in someone else's shoes – the wife, the mother, the daughter – and trying to imagine what they experienced when their husbands, sons, fathers went away and did not return... and for those serving now, always praying nothing bad will happen to those they love most.
It is a very emotional day for me. I cannot describe it.
How does one begin to understand...

Dad, 161 Bty., 16 Fld.Rgt., Royal NZ Artillery - Korea, 1950-1952

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Kap'yong Will Never Be Forgotten

+ WHY are NZ school children taught about 'The Anzacs' as if they only fought at Gallipoli...?
+ WHY did the Korean War gradually became "the Forgotten War"...?
+ WHY do so few people know about the Battle of Kap'yong, later described by a newspaper correspondent as "some of the bloodiest and fiercest fighting ever to take place in Anzac history"...?
+ WHY does the NZ Govt STILL not commemorate this battle...?

For the surviving warriors from the Korean War (and especially those who fought at Kap'yong shoulder-to-shoulder alongside my father), I humbly thank you, and hope that wherever you may be right now, someone is affording you the comfort, kindness and gratitude that you deserve.
Bless you.

Monday, April 21, 2014

ET, The Unearthed-ling

Wanna go hunting...for aliens?
This weekend, searchers hope to unearth a legendary dump of millions of unwanted "ET the Extra-Terrestrial" video game cartridges, rumoured to have been buried in a New Mexico landfill in
the early 1980s.
The product spin-off from the classic 1982 movie "ET the Extra-Terrestrial" was a mammoth flop, contributing to a sudden collapse of the video game industry in its early years.
The pending excavation, on the weekend of 26 April, will be filmed for a documentary. Filmmakers (and the rest of Geek World!) want to know if the story of the video game cartridge burial is true.
The game hit shelves in late 1982 as part of a $25m deal with director Steven Spielberg to license his movie idea with Warner Bros, then-owner of game manufacturer Atari. To get the product out by Christmas, the game was developed in a fraction of the time typically needed for design, manufacturing and packaging, and it failed as a result. Atari ended up sitting on the bulk of the 5 million ET game cartridges produced, that either didn't sell or were returned.
According to NYTimes reports at the time, Atari buried the games in the New Mexico desert in the middle of the night. A game enthusiast later tracked down the suspected burial site and spread the word about the location.
The story of the "worst game ever made and what happened to it" became a legend among gamers, one that may soon have its final chapter written...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Polly And Grant Now Bat For The Other Team

Hubby/wife team Polly Gillespie and Grant Kereama are leaving their ZM breakfast show after more than two decades.
But they're not going far - they'll help launch a new breakfast show on Monday 28 April on a new radio station called The Hits, which replaces Classic Hits.
The new format for The Hits will replace the existing Classic Hits model of having local breakfast shows for local areas. Instead, the Polly and Grant Show will air on Breakfast in 20 regions, nationwide on iHeartRadio, plus an hour of daily highlights will play from 6-7pm nationwide. The 9-3pm daytime shows will become local shows instead.
The Hits will capitalise on what's been successful for Classic Hits to date, with an injection of international entertainment star quality: the first interview booked for the brekky show is actor Matthew McConaughey.
The Radio Network (TRN) CEO Jane Hastings says the new format will deliver better entertainment for modern adult listeners, and is aimed at an audience of 30+.
TRN owns both ZM and The Hits.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Global Tamiflu Scam

Readers may recall that, back in June 2009, I warned against the hysterical global over-reaction to Swine Flu (H1N1), which was slated to wipe out a significant portion of mankind.
We were told that mankind's only saviour was a new fast-tracked wonder-drug called Tamiflu, which was being injected into patients without due checks and balances...
Now a University of Auckland researcher says new evidence shows Tamiflu doesn't actually work at all!
Just as I said.
Dr Vanessa Jordan, NZ Cochrane Fellow at Akld Uni, confirms what'd previously been suspected "that there is currently no support for claims that Tamiflu or Relenza reduces admissions to hospital or complications of influenza".
Like most countries that could afford to, NZ stockpiled 750,000 doses of Tamiflu in 2009 (since dumped after expiry).
This new evidence only came out last week so we shouldn't be too harsh on our govt. After all, it - like everyone else - bought into the World Health Organisation's (WHO) panic-causing announcement of a 'pandemic'.
Jordan: "Tamiflu is on the WHO's essential medicines list so our govt is following recommendations at the moment, but it's no doubt those recommendations will change."
Naturally, Tamiflu manufacturer Roche has rejected the Cochrane Report's findings saying it "fundamentally disagrees with the overall conclusions".
Medsafe (responsible for the regulation of medicines in NZ) agrees: "This study alone is not enough for NZ to reconsider its position on stockpiles of Tamiflu as an important precaution in case of future global influenza pandemic."
In other words, until there're multi-tons of other evidence, taxpayers' $$$ will continue to be spent on crap that doesn't WORK!! And that'll keep the Big Pharmaceuticals very happy indeed.
*thinks aloud* Hmmm, wonder if they're allowed to contribute to election funding...?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Secret Whalemeat Delivery

Environmental group Greenpeace says a ship with 2,000 tons of Icelandic whale meat has been scared off from refueling in a South African port.
The group organised a 21,000-signature petition calling on Durban Port and govt depts to not allow the ship Alma to enter the harbour.
Loading Alma in Iceland
The Cypriot-registered freezer ship loaded the largest consignment of whale meat out of Iceland in years, including two species of fin whale, and was en route to Japan.
Greenpeace said boxes with 'frozen whale' written in Japanese were loaded onto Alma last month - the shipment originated with maverick whaler Kristj√°n Loftsson's Icelandic company Hvalur.
Early into its journey, its positioning tracker was switched off. It sailed down the coastline of West Africa - a route familiar to those transporting illegal or dangerous cargo (an easier and shorter way would be to sail through the Suez or Panama canals).
Where is Alma now?
Greenpeace contacted the SA Dept of Environment Affairs and Dept of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, appealing to the depts not to let the ship dock. South Africa is a signatory to Cites and doesn't allow trade in whale meat.
SA's Environment Affairs said however the dept played no role in the matter: "Cites regulations are very clear and none of these was transgressed. There was no request for an import permit here or certificate for introduction from the sea." Fisheries said the vessel had not involved it either, as Alma was not a fishing vessel, its cargo had not been caught locally and it had not intended to offload its cargo at any local port.
Iceland's new quotas allow 229 minke whales and 154 endangered fin whales to be killed annually for the next five years. Fin are listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.
This shipment will increase Japan's aging whalemeat stack by as much as 25%. When so few eat it, WHY does Japan keep stockpiling it???

UPDATE: 14 May 2014 - Alma has reached Japan.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Does Seven-Dull Stand A Chance?

Comedian (his PR's word, not mine) Jesse Mulligan is out.
He's leaving TVNZ news show Seven Sharp at the end of this week.
He was the last original host of the show, which premiered in February last year: "I've had a good time making this show, but now it's time to get back to my comedy roots. Hosting Best Bits has reminded me how much fun a live audience can be, and I leave Seven Sharp confident that Mike and Toni will take the show from strength to strength."
This Thursday 17th is Mulligan's last show, but he'll continue to host Best Bits for TVNZ (I believe Best Bits is meant to be comedy, but it hasn't made me laugh yet).
It was bizarre that a Current Affairs prog, set opposite TV3's Campbell Live and aimed at bringing news to a young adult audience (who have very little interest in news and, if they did, would probably get it via their iphones) should be fronted by a comic - and a dubious one at that! In fact, the entire 7-Dull concept - presenters, style, content, graphics, set - seemed doomed from the start.
Mulligan added nothing to it, neither did Alison Mau - another of the original three - who should've stuck to lightweight consumer shows. The only one with any news talent was Greg Boyed, who saved his career by wisely leaving the show in Sept.2013.
TVNZ is not looking for a replacement for Mulligan, with new arrivals Mike Hosking and Toni Street staying.
Perhaps now 7-Dull may sharpen up...is that remotely possible?

Update: 16 April 2014 - Meanwhile Mike Hosking's been described by Alison Mau as a 'dictator'!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

24: Live Another Day - Season Nine Promo

What can I say?
Here's the next promo from Fox, with more glimpses of what's gonna be a kick-arse 12-episode more intense season than EVER (starting in US, mid-May)!
Rejoice!! Rejoice!!! BAUER'S BACK!!



+ See also my earlier March 2014 posting [spoiler alert].

Monday, April 14, 2014

Should NZ Cough Up For Ko?

Her name is Lydia Ko: she's 16yrs.old.
She plays golf for a living - and she's pretty good at it.
This year Lydia Ko has made $280,000. So far, so good.
But now, Ko and entourage wants the NZ taxpayer to give her even more money than when she was an amateur.
I want it ALL! NOW!!
As an amateur, she received $115,000 from High Performance Sport NZ in 2012 and $185,000 last year...PLUS she pocketed NZ$181,000 for winning the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters tournament in Taiwan last year. NONE of the $181K came back to reimburse NZ. This year, NZ Golf is applying for $208K to pay for her physiotherapy, coaching and mental skills training. Oh, and did I mention that this also includes $115K to pay for transport and accommodation to tournaments for Ko and her mum...
EVEN THOUGH KO IS NOW PRO!
Why? Being a pro means surviving/succeeding by her own abilities. As a pro, she can reap big financial rewards from tournaments, as well as millions in management contracts and endorsement deals. Ko is sponsored by Callaway Golf and ANZ Bank, who pay her performance bonuses on top of a retainer (potentially multi-millions, and that's likely to rise as Lydia's now ranked No.4 in the world).
Endorsements, management deals, accomodation, travel. She'll be getting well looked after by businesses. So why should NZ have to add to her coffers? The moment one turns professional, any amateur support must instantly cease!

Update: 15 April 2014 - While papers report Ko being "rocked by backlash" to this issue, her website is still headed "the official site of #1 woman world golf amateur", and says nothing about bludging amateur support money while she's a pro!
Update: 28 April 2014 - Ko wins her first LPGA Tour victory...and pockets $270,000! Not a bad 18th birthday present...AND CLEARLY NOT AN AMATEUR (she's made over half a million this year)!!!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Bastards Will Be Back!

Within hours of last month's Intl.Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling against Japan's Antarctic whaling programme, top officials said Japan would abide by it.
A day later, the Japanese Fisheries Agency confirmed it would skip the next Antarctic hunt.
Was it all too good to be true? Sea Shepherd thought so. I warned so. We've been proven right.
Japan is set to continue whale-hunts in the Antarctic. It's Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) has filed court papers in the US, stating it intends to return to the Southern Ocean in the 2015-2016 season, with a newly-designed research programme.
Sea Shepherd calls it a blatant defiance of the ruling, and states it'll be ready to return to the Southern Ocean to protest, if/when the nasty Nippons return.
SS doubts Japan's new whaling research programme will fit with the Int.Whaling Commission regulations, because it must use humane methods and not kill whales for commercial reasons. But ya think that'll stop 'em...?
Let's just return to what the govt of Japan publically said:
"Japan will abide by the judgment of the court as a state that places a great importance on the international legal order and the rule of law as a basis of the international community."
And just a few days later, Japan's PM Shinzo Abe personally confirmed there would be no whaling in the 2014-15 summer season.
To then completely reverse it's position within a fortnight, indicates how deep into the whalers' pockets the Japanese government is. It is clearly an administration that has no honour, has caused its country to 'lose face' around the world...and cannot be trusted.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Aratere Is A DOG!

Methinx the kiwi "she'll be right" attitude has run its course, as far as the Interislander ferry is concerned.
Aratere: jinx ship?
The Cook Strait chugger Aratere has been in a Singapore dry dock since February after her propeller broke off last November...and now cracks have been found in the rudder shafts!
The roll-on roll-off ferry was built in 1998. Her history is littered with engine failures and steering faults. She was lengthened in 2011 by 30m...against expert advice (some of whom believe Aratere now can't handle the stresses of Cook Strait crossings). While none of these problems can be linked, crew have often whispered the word 'jinxed'.
KiwiRail has no idea when Aratere will be back in service, but the breakdown is already forecast at $30 million, including lost passenger and commercial revenue and the cost of the replacement ship Stena Alegra.

Stena Alegra: left hand down a bit...
Aratere's problems have had a major impact on the state-owned company's financial position. Surely it's time KiwiRail gives up trying to fix this mutt, and heads to the drawingboard for a brand-new custom-made replacement for the 21st century!
Meanwhile...Stena Alegra is herself out of action while surveyors assess damage to her hull. The ferry sustained a gash at the Wellington ferry terminal this week in extreme weather conditions. In other words, she rammed the wharf, right?
In late 2009, Aratere celebrated her 20,000th crossing of the vicious Cook Strait, having travelled around 2 million kms.
So...isn't it well past time the old dog was PUT DOWN?!

UPDATE: 06 May 2014 - The dog will be back at the end of June...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Little Man - BIG Impact

Mickey Rooney, the diminutive entertainer who was a major film and TV star from the time he was a teen — and whose showbiz career spanned every decade of his long life going back to the 1920s — died last Sunday. He was 93.
Rooney (born Joseph Yule Jnr.) packed more talent into his 5'2" frame than most of his contemporaries, even at a time when singing and dancing were a regular part of the acting life.
He began performing when just 17 months, in a stage show with his parents. He went on to star in over 100 films, including National Velvet, Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Night At The Museum.
He also played instruments, switched seamlessly between comedy and drama and was nominated for four Academy Awards. He took home two honorary Oscars - a 'Juvenile' Academy Award in 1939 and another for his body of work in 1983. He also received two Golden Globes and an Emmy Award.
Despite being a highly successful child actor, Rooney managed to avoid the kind of personal tragedy that comes along with it...mostly. He was married eight times (his first wife being actress Ava Gardner), filed for bankruptcy in 1962, and struggled to shake off his boyish persona after serving in the Army 1944-1946, a tour during which he mostly travelled the world, entertaining the troops abroad.
Rooney's final years saw their share of family strife, too. He accused stepson Chris Aber of elder abuse and stealing money, winning a $2.8m judgment against him just last year.
Mickey Rooney had one of the longest careers of any actor, spanning 92 years actively making films in ten decades, from the 1920s to the 2010s.
He once quipped: "There'll never be another you. It has nothing to do with ego; it happens to be the truth. There will never be another person the same. There'll never be another you. There'll never be another me..."
How right he was.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Welcome To The Big Smoke!

When "down south", it's been easy to laugh at Auckland's traffic woes...until now.
Christchurch's heavily-congested Northern Motorway - feeding commuters from Kaiapoi, Rangiora and surrounding areas - is under strain. Nth.Canterbury's population has grown three times faster than forecast, due to EQ-effected families moving into
Chch's Northern Motorway, on a good day...
the area.
That's bleak news for traffic-weary commuters already facing lengthy waits at peak times. The problem is quite variable: journeys can take 40 minutes one day and then the same journey on a different day, at the same time, can be more than an hour. The 1.2km drive from the old Waimak Bridge to the edge of Belfast last week took 22 minutes! It seems the morning rush hour is now basically any time between 6.15am and 9.30am.
Waimakariri District Council, NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) and Christchurch Transport Operations Centre (CTOC) are scrambling to find interim solutions until the multimillion-dollar motorway project planned for 2017-2020 can be built. NZTA is building a four-lane highway between QEII Drive and the existing Northern Motorway. A western corridor, including a four-lane highway from The Groynes to the centre of Hornby and a bypass around Belfast, is also planned but both are still at the consent stage.
Note that this is not four lanes in either direction - just four lanes in total, a concept which is not future-proofed and is already outdated by the population shift! These extra roads only address feeding traffic to the motorway itself: they do not address the bottleneck that exists from that point onwards!
The reality is that successive councils have ignored taxpayers' calls, for a second river crossing and expanded roading to the west of Waimakariri Bridge, for several decades.
Following the earthquakes, the future is here. Now. And winter is coming. Again...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Once In A Lifetime Experience!!!

Just received advice of pending good fortune!
Forwarded chain mail tells me that this year of 2014 features a month (August) in which there're FIVE Fridays, FIVE Saturdays and FIVE Sundays - shock! horror! probe! Supposedly this'll be the only time I'll see this phenomenon in my lifetime, as it happens only once every 823 years!
The letter reveals that this monumental event is mystical magical Chinese Feng Shui...and if I forward this message to my friends, I'll be swamped with money in four days. Funny how people have their own belief system until a chain letter comes along, and then suddenly everybody believes in Feng Shui! Riiiggghhhttt!!!!
If anyone resending this chain had checked the calendar, they'd see that this is NOT a once-in-a-lifetime event at all. Last March 2013 had five Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. As did July 2011. 2010 had it in January AND October. In the future, May 2015 is another hot potato, and brace your bank manager for an influx of cash in 2016 - January AND July! WOW!!!
If this special phenomenon stuns and amazes you, you'll be astounded to learn that Christmas 2014 WILL fall on 25 December...

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Long-Awaited Return Of Kate Bush

Your memory of Kate Bush may only be of a wafer-thin soprano in her 1978 smash Wuthering Heights, theatrically seeking her beloved Heathcliff.
But for the die-hard UK legions who know all of her ten albums inside-out, the rarer-than-hens-teeth chance to see the multi-award-winner in concert again after 35yrs, was a dream come true. And they snatched the opportunity greedily...
Tickets for Kate Bush's Aug/Sept.2014 comeback have been offered for sale for four-figure sums, only hours after they sold out. All 22 of her London shows sold out in less than 15 minutes! Some of the tickets, originally priced from £49 ($NZ94) and upwards, are for sale online for £1500 ($NZ2884) each! Demand was so high that ticket websites crashed with overload.
The gigs mark the singer's return to the stage 35 years after her one-and-only tour...and to the same venue, the Hammersmith Apollo (then called the Hammersmith Odeon), where she effectively retired from live performances after just six weeks on the road in 1979. She'd topped the charts with Wuthering Heights the year prior - the first
woman to go to No.1 singing one of her own songs.
Over the years, theories about her absence from the stage included her perfectionism, a fear of flying and the death of one of the tour crew during a show. But in a rare interview in 2011, she explained it was simply down to the sheer exertion of performing: her shows relied heavily on dance and mime.
Kate Bush CBE has influenced copious current and past performers, from Tori Amos to Lorde, and her music has uplifted generations of fans. Now aged 56, it's hoped her unique performance style won't burn her out.
I can't imagine what the shows would be like, but it's safe to say they'll be unlike anything most have ever seen. At their heart will be some of the most extraordinary, brilliant, moving, astonishing and incomparable pop songs of all time. And they'll be sung and played (and perhaps even danced?) by a genius.

UPDATE: 27 Aug.2014 - Rave! Rave! Rave!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

FULL STOP!!!!!

This is NO April Fools' joke!
Judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have kicked Japan's "scientific whaling" in the Southern Ocean into oblivion!
The land of the sinking sun...
Tokyo is "deeply disappointed" but will abide by the decision, while activists hope it'll bring closer a complete end to whaling.
The ICJ sided with Australia (which was supported by NZ) by ruling the "scientific" output of the whaling programme did not justify the number of whales killed. To be expected, our Foreign Affairs Munster Womble McCully is crowing that NZ can take "significant credit" for all of this!! After his pathetic bleatings, I can't see why he believes he deserves any kudos…!
The ICJ orders that no further licences be issued for "scientific whaling". Presiding Judge Peter Tomka of Slovakia: "In light of the fact the JARPA II (research programme) has been going on since 2005, and has involved the killing of about 3600 minke whales, the scientific output to date appears limited."
The judgment is an embarrassment to Japan, but Tokyo could continue whaling if it devised a new, more persuasive scientific programme, or if it withdrew from the whaling moratorium or the 1946 Intl.Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.
Womble McCully has stopped short of saying some thanks sould go to Sea Shepherd. Of COURSE he would! After all, it was McCully ALONE who achieved this final harpooning SINGLEHANDEDLY! Riiigghhtt!! Tosser!
Global diplomatic efforts are now needed to ensure that new loopholes are not found to continue whaling operations. Japan meantime will keep buying whale meat from Norway and Iceland...