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Open mike 08/12/2020

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, December 8th, 2020 - 127 comments
Categories: open mike - Tags:

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For announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose.

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Step up to the mike …

127 comments on “Open mike 08/12/2020 ”

  1. WeTheBleeple 1

    Kiss all concern for life goodbye. Water now trading as a commodity.

    This will bring violence and desperation like never before. Time to invest in crowd control armaments?

    Time to eat the rich.

    “Sellers are water districts with surplus supply, for example farmers and municipalities in other parts of the state.”

    Very bad.

    P.S. It’s not like the rich could send up weather satellites and rig the whole game. Right?

    https://edition.cnn.com/2020/12/07/investing/water-futures-trading/index.html

    • Andre 1.1

      "Water now trading as a commodity."

      Now??? It has been for a long long time. The only surprising thing about a futures market starting up is that it didn't happen a long long time ago.

      When it comes to California and other western states, as far as I'm concerned a massive price increase in water would actually be a good thing. It might get them to be a bit more careful in how much they use.

      Twenty years ago on return to NZ, I was shocked at how high Auckland's water prices were compared to San Diego's. But I should have been shocked in retrospect at how low San Diego's price was. Considering a lot of San Diego's water comes from the Colorado River, around 500km and a mountain range away.

      This piece takes a look at how much water cost is embodied in food from California:

      https://news.berkeley.edu/berkeley_blog/the-cost-of-irrigation-water-and-urban-farming/

      More about how much water goes into food:

      https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/01/almonds-nuts-crazy-stats-charts/

      https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/02/wheres-californias-water-going/

      • WeTheBleeple 1.1.1

        Err, you're assuming to educate me on water use? That's rich.

        As prices rise (that which you think is a good thing) guess who gets to have water, and who does not?

        This is ridiculous. What they need is a future, not a fucking futures market.

        • Andre 1.1.1.1

          In your case, the knowledge deficit appears to be in the area of water law, water economics, and the engineering of water supply in western US states.

          For a lot of other readers though, an occasional reminder of how much water actually goes into food supply might be useful. Particularly when that food supply comes from places where adequate water doesn't just fall from the sky. For instance, the 150g bag of almonds I just bought represents as much water as I use in my house in three weeks.

          So when prices rise in western states, the first things to go will be the low value crops with disproportionately high water demand. Cotton. Alfalfa to be shipped to Saudi Arabia. Rice. Other water users producing higher value crops will adopt ways of using less water.

          Cities will also adapt to lower water use, through means such as discouraging lawns and swimming pools by regulation and and progressive pricing structures and reusing treated sewage water for applications that don't require drinking water. That's already happening, for instance in San Diego the first 11 cubic metres per month costs about $1.90/cu m, over 50 cubic metres per month the charge is $4.22/cu m. But realistically, personal water use is pretty small compared to the vast amounts agriculture consumes.

          • WeTheBleeple 1.1.1.1.1

            Of course, how stupid of me, the market will fix everything.

            • WeTheBleeple 1.1.1.1.1.1

              What's gonna happen when investors buy water and hold onto it till it's scarce? Fair play?

              I saw a company in US yesterday selling what was basically a roof mounted solar powered dehumidifier that pulled in only a few litres per day – for drinking water. The cost was up around 4K per unit. The interesting bit was what drove them to make it. Many Americans do not have safe, or secure, drinking water.

              Agriculture/hort has very high use, but also very high land area for water collection. But do we see them making simple earthworks to retain water? Do we see in areas of low rainfall crops suited to the area?

              Business is solving nothing till impending (financial) doom forces their hand. Impending planetary doom not a concern.

              You buy almonds? Boo. Grow some macadamias. They’re free and require no maintenance.

              • Andre

                Investors and speculators have a long history in water supply issues. Owens Valley in California provides just one example of the sordid dealings that have gone on. But just a quick google turns up plenty of info that suggests they aren't currently considered much of a problem, and may even be stabilisers.

                eg, looking at the Murray-Darling system in Australia: https://theconversation.com/investors-and-speculators-arent-disrupting-the-water-markets-69492

                Outta curiosity, what kind of water allocation and distribution would you set up, and how would it be paid for, if you were handed the magic wand?

                The problem of lack of access to safe drinking water for personal use is much more an infrastructure cost issue. Because personal water needs are so tiny, compared to agricultural use. That's where spending 4K for a system to pull water from the air (a link for that assertion would be useful BTW) can make more sense than paying tens of thousands to get a pipe laid to your house. It's possible that was also in a state where collecting rainwater from your roof was illegal, because someone else has been allocated rights to that water.

                • WeTheBleeple

                  What would I do. I've neither the time or inclination to write that book here and now.

                  I'd make landowners collect and store water in the ground.

                  I'd demolish any nonsense e.g. rainwater belongs to someone else. Then I'd encourage home collection including sections.

                  I'd have street and impervious surfaces of water running into land storage with only overflow making it into waterways.

                  I'd establish rules around what can/cannot grow in specific rain zones.

                  I'd have a whip and take to these money grubbing charlatans.

                  • Chris

                    …and nationalise NZ's electricity industry…

                  • weka

                    every new build has to have water collection.

                    • Tricledrown

                      The govt has relaxed the rules on how much water you are allowed to store on your property .

                      But it has to meet the building code plus the water would have to be filtered and your collection system kept clean for potable water.

                      With the amount of pollution in built up areas it would be expensive for individuals to keep a clean safe water supply.

                      Dust would be a much bigger problem than you would expect I have worked in the building industry for most of my life and as the number of cars trucks etc have increased over the years the amount of dust ending up on roofs and in spoutings is unbelieveable the closer you get to high traffic areas the bigger the dust build up so much so that spoutings need cleaning every year just to work properly.

                    • weka

                      Fair points. At the least, any property that has plants on it needs its own water catchment system. We're going to need urban farms as well as home gardens.

                      There will be solutions to the dust issue: plant more trees and wind brakes. We should be transitioning to less traffic anyway.

                  • Andre

                    That's all very nice. It might even have some effect on groundwater levels in built-up areas and improve water quality in the waterways draining those built-up areas. I can't see how that results in secure supply for industrial users, let alone agricultural. Nor do I see any proposed mechanism for paying for it or pricing supply to industrial and agriculture.

                    Do that in California, and the Central Valley and Imperial Valley will revert back to the dusty near-deserts they were before the massive importation of water from elsewhere (mostly the Colorado River), instead of being the massively productive area it is now. Because there simply isn’t enough water supply falling from the sky and running off the surrounding hills to sustain water-needy agriculture there.

                    • greywarshark

                      edit
                      Andre @11.55am

                      Do that in California, and the Central Valley and Imperial Valley will revert back to the dusty near-deserts they were before the massive importation of water from elsewhere (mostly the Colorado River), instead of being the massively productive area it is now.

                      A NZr Wendy Campbell Purdie got fired up by St Barbe Baker (who lived in NZ later to his death in 1982). She ended up planting many trees which enabled crops to grow with protection from the hard sun.

                      She wrote: Trees I planted in Tiznit, Morocco, in January and December 1960 are now twice as tall as a man. One of the thousand trees I planted near Bou Saada in March 1964 is now taller than the large Conservator of Forests in Algeria. He was startled.” https://internationaltreefoundation.org/women-heart-men-trees/

                      And I think that the system she used was to space the trees so they formed a canopy giving an umbrella overstory and then crops were planted in rows underneath in the understory, and evaporation and sun scald was limited.

                      And there is much work that has been done to recover from desertification and alleviate drought which seems to have largely been ignored by developed nations like the USA who allow business to decimate the land if its cheaper than following the right practices for agriculture.

                      Such as (from a report from Food and Agriculture Organisation in their work against desertification and in facilitating food growing #84, 1967. – http://www.fao.org/3/55408e/55408e0a.htm)

                      Denmark. – The countryside of Middle Jutland has been completely changed over the last century: large stretches of heathland have disappeared. Protective shelterbelts divide the land into squares, and there are small and large plantations everywhere. Average production on sandy fields in Jutland is now on a level with production in the rest of the country.

                      Experience has shown that, depending on the density, protective and forest plantations reduce by 20 to 40 percent the force of the wind which blows eastward across Jutland.

                      The right kind of protection around a field reduces, for example, evaporation: 1 mm less evaporation means that about 32 million cubic meters more water is available for the crops. (HAR SKODSHØJ).

                    • Andre

                      @greywarshark – if you've got the answers on how to make that land productive without a shitload of imported water, then there's a fuckload of money to be made doing it.

                      Without access to imported water, you can buy land there for under a thousand bucks an acre. $1500 an acre if you want a natural streambed running through the middle of it. But if it's got access to imported water, the land is worth ten times as much.

                      https://www.landsofamerica.com/Imperial-County-CA/all-land/

                    • WeTheBleeple

                      You are so ecologically illiterate engaging any further is a waste of my time. Also an opportunity for you to talk more nonsense which we'd be better off without.

                      Storing groundwater will revert ecosystems to dusty near deserts? FFS.

                      You do not see the things you wish to see because I can't be fucked with your nonsense.

                    • weka

                      Dunno Bleeple, it is kind of useful to see the thinking laid bare. Money is the premier driver, and the degree of ecological illiteracy is probably not even recognised. Which tbf is pretty much why we're in the situation we're in.

                    • greywarshark

                      Andre @ 1.41pm I was not talking about real estate values in the deserts in California that have flourished with imported water. It is taken for granted that cannot carry on.

                      I was saying that all is not lost for growing something there. It may be a different crop grown in a different way. But one thing is certain, that the previous profitability has gone. Are you a USA born person? You seem obsessed with the politics there and more interested in the goings on there than ours.

                    • Andre

                      @ greywarshark The thread starter was about water markets in California. The differential in real estate value depending on access to water is an integral part of the whole water system in western US.

                      Yes, I was born in the US, spent about a third of my adult life working there, and still have extended family there. Some of whom are involved in farming in western states. Also, one of my rellies made his living for a while in western water law, and is now practicing at the intersection of water law and engineering.

                      So western US farming and water supply and US politics are all topics on which I do have some insight beyond just keyboard warrioring from a remote small island in the middle of a big ocean.

                • weka

                  Allocating rain water that falls on someone else's is peak insanity and comes from the capitalist mindset that refuses to work with nature but instead treats it as a resource and/or commodity.

                  Bleeple pointed to the solution above: transition to ag that intentionally holds water in the soil. This is the basis of regenerative agricultures.

                  Also peak insanity: growing milk in dry climates like Otago and Canterbury via water extraction from the water table or rivers, shipping that milk to a factory and using coal to burn off all the water, then shipping the powder overseas, all to make money. We're also a net exporter of soil fertility that will take time to reinstate once we are forced into regenag.

                  Making Fonterra or farmers pay for the right to farm so destructively is what society does when it can't regulate itself. Letting people make water an item of the financial sector's greed frenzy doubles down on all the issues and makes things like conservation, just transition, regeneration so much harder.

                  I don't think NZ has a better example of the failure of capitalism and democracy than that, and later generations will look at us with bafflement and anger.

          • weka 1.1.1.1.2

            That's interesting Andre, but you do realise that nothing in that negates what Bleeple said?

            Your points are useful for the vegan zealots who think we can substitute NZ beef and lamb for imported almond milk and soy.

            • Phillip ure 1.1.1.1.2.1

              @weka..

              as opposed to those flesh–addictcd 'zealots'..

              who don't give a fuck about the cruelties/environmental damage caused by their addictions to flesh/fat..

              and who claim to be 'green'..?

              pausing only to wipe the animal fat from their lips ..?

              'cos that really is the mark of the 'zealot '…isn't it..?

              not caring a jot about the harms done.

              in the following of their 'beliefs'..

              how in this day and age…at this crossroads..they just don't care…

              the force of their addiction denies/flys in the face of green-logic..

              • weka

                "as opposed to those flesh–addictcd 'zealots'.."

                No, as opposed to local food people who say that it's not what we eat that matters but how it is produced. That includes but isn't limited to animal welfare.

                By all means make an ethical argument for eating almonds imported from California over mutton from the farmer down the road, I'm all ears. You can save yourself the trouble if it's just killing animals is always wrong/eating plants is always right.

                • Phillip ure

                  you really just don't care about the suffering of the animals..?

                  have you ever been to an abbattoir…and seen what is done in your name..?

                • Drowsy M. Kram

                  Love eating well-done chicken (and Xmas turkey), pork (hmm, bacon), lamb (shanks for the memories) and (what's the) beef, moreso now I've cut down, but "vegan zealots" seems tad pejorative. Live and let live I reckon, unless you're a production animal of course.

                  It’s amusing to see push back against promoting a lifestyle choice such as veganism (and to a lesser extent vegetarianism) – after all it's not compulsory, although Thunberg apparently 'persuaded' her father into it.

                  Greta Thunberg's father: 'She is happy, but I worry'
                  "I did all these things, I knew they were the right thing to do… but I didn't do it to save the climate, I did it to save my child," Mr Thunberg said.

                  "I have two daughters and to be honest they are all that matter to me. I just want them to be happy," he added.
                  https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-50901789

                  Fwiw, eating plants is always right – I eat fewer veges than is healthy, but it's tough, you know. Wonder if almond trees would crop OK in NZ.

                  • weka

                    You know I wasn't talking about vegans but the vegans who are zealots, right? The ones who do want everyone to be vegan even if it means ecocidal almond orchards or monsantoed soy fields.

                    • Phillip ure

                      many of them around..?

                      I have been vegan for quite a long time..and I have met many other vegans..

                      not once have I heard advocacy for 'monsanto soy'..

                      nor for 'ecocidal almond orchards'…

                      know a lot of vegans do you..?

                      what percentage of all these vegans you know..pimp for 'ecocidal almond orchards'..?

                      in fact have you ever heard a vegan do that. .?

                      or is this just a chimera you have whipped up in yr head…?

                      (it sure walks and barks like it is..)

                      to in some way excuse your constant slighting of vegans..?

                      did you get a bad lentil-burger one time..?

                      and have found it hard to forgive/forget..?

                      what to explain your virulence..

                      toward those who are only trying to end the suffering of animals..and to help save the environment..?

                      and you sit there chewing flesh..and hurling abuse..

                      why does that mess with you so much…

                    • Phillip ure []

                      it takes over 6,000 litres of water to make one litre of almond milk….

                      it is the most ungreen drink you can buy..

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      Thanks Weka – no, I didn't know that you weren't talking about all vegans, but rather only about vegans who are zealots and "who do want everyone to be to be vegan even if it means ecocidal almond orchards or monsantoed soy fields."

                      I thought you'd made your opinion of those who, for whatever reason, promote the benefits of a vegan diet quite clear. To me, it even comes across in the above quote, but maybe I'm guilty of a little too much reading between the lines smiley

                    • weka

                      Or maybe projecting? Why would you assume that 'vegan zealots' = all vegans?

                      I'm good with people making personal choices to be vegan where that doesn't impact on others. I was vegetarian for a long time, so I appreciate the ethical positioning. There is however a big difference between individual choice and a movement that is actively working against actions needed to get us out of the massive climate and ecological crisis. And the zealots who support that.

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      "Projecting" – meaning I might subconsciously consider (all) vegans to be zealots? It's possible – certainly wouldn't 'convert' voluntarily.

                      I don't consciously consider (the growth of) NZ veganism a threat, nor share your opinion that the 'vegan movement' "is actively working against actions needed to get us out of the massive climate and ecological crisis". And, if you're right, there's still a good chance there are even greater threats to a sustainable future for humanity than vegan zealots.

                      I've yet to meat one of these rare beasts – they'd tell me, right? wink

                  • solkta

                    Commercial growing of almonds is limited to areas where no or little frost hazard because of their early blossoming but with the renewed interest in healthy foods and because of the quantities imported it is an undeveloped crop in New Zealand. Suitable areas would be parts of Hawkes’ Bay, Nelson, Canterbury and Otago where humidity is not a problem.

                    https://treecrops.org.nz/crops/nut/almond/almond-factsheet/

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      Thanks solkta (and Stuart), I see from the link that one variety, ‘Fabrin’, is suitable for dry climates only; explains “ex Manawatu” smiley

                    • solkta

                      There is so much more that we could grow here with all the micro-climates and soil types we have. So much wasted on cows.

                      Macadamia nuts are back in season at the Whangarei Growers Market and will be my Saturday breakfast while they are (way yummier than almonds).

                    • weka

                      Hazelnuts and walnuts are the nuts of choice further south. Recently harvested hazelnuts are another world compared to the long stored ones we usually can buy.

                    • solkta

                      I have a friend in the Waikato who grows walnuts semi-commercially. He used to give me a whole big box full each year when i lived there, mmmm. Can get them also at the market here which i do sometimes as well as the macadamia.

                      Agree that all nuts are heaps better when not stored too long.

                  • Stuart Munro

                    They grow like weeds around Nelson/Marlborough.

                    • Robert Guyton

                      My nursery is swelling with sweet chestnut seedlings, as the nuts I collected and planted in autumn grow and show themselves in their beds for me to transfer them to pots and grow-on. I'd like to see them planted extensively throughout the region/rohe, along with hazels, similarly grown (it's too, too easy!). Imagine a "thin-forest" of nut-trees across Southland/Otago/Canterbury etc…

                      I'm encouraging gevuina as well; I've just 10 or so, but learning…

            • Andre 1.1.1.1.2.2

              Did WTB make any points beyond expressing generalised horror at the idea of markets for water? It sure didn't look like it to me.

              If vegans want to argue against irrigating unsuitable areas for beef and dairy, where that irrigation lowers water tables and dries up watercourses, and the cows fill what's left full of nitrates and fecal lurgies, I'll be right with them. But over most of New Zealand, enough water falls from the sky to allow reasonable stocking rates with minimal additional water. If vegans want to argue against overstocking because of the resulting environmental damage, I'll be right with them on that, too.

              If people want almond milk, that's totally fine with me. Whatever their motivations may be. But if almond growers has to pay a reasonable price for water, the price of almond milk would go waaay up.

              When it comes to soy, well, yes, vegans do in fact have a good argument that much less land and other inputs would be needed to feed humans if humans ate the soy directly instead of wasting most of the nutrients in the soy by converting most of it to cow shit and cow piss and just a tiny bit of cow meat. IIRC, only about 1/20th of the inputs would be needed if humans ate the soy directly, instead of eating it in the form of dead cow. For me personally, though, the taste and texture etc of soy products are just so wrong that it's too high a price to pay.

              • WeTheBleeple

                Oh do shut up don't speak about what I have to say if you're too stupid to follow it.

                • Andre

                  You need to show that you actually have something useful to add to the topic of discussion. Otherwise you're just an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

                  [lprent: should we find you two a room to work it out in? Pretty boring listening. ]

                  • WeTheBleeple

                    Do you not understand I am utterly bored trying to inform a fool with his fingers in his ears.

                    I'm also not here to trot out information at your request.

                    Nobody has answers that satisfy anything you disagree with, ever. You just take part of a sentence and run up many paragraphs of nonsense then demand answers to your garbage.

                    [lprent: should we find you two a room to work it out in? Pretty boring listening. ]

                • Shanreagh

                  Mmmmmmmm, how to win friends and influence people, not. The fact that we may not all share your views or even your particular knowledge base makes us all the more interesting I would have thought and doesn't deserve a 'shut-up' or telling someone they are 'stupid'.

                  • greywarshark

                    Actually Shanreagh Bleeple is flat out getting information, developing ideas etc to ameliorate climate change. He is fully extended studying, thinking, worrying and can get annoyed when people miss the urgency of the matter, and we as a country and elsewhere, are so slow to get started on new methods and argue instead. If we don't share his views then we probably don't understand what is actually going on.

                    So getting a bit tetchy goes with the situation and it would be good if you don't start taking people to task because you don't 'share their views' or approach. We are into more than interesting, idle discussion here, we are trying to gather information and get a handle on what we can do to survive in the world. As adults here most recognise the serious commenters and we need to be a bit tolerant when tempers flare. remembering that thoughtful people are under a lot of stress.

                    • Shanreagh

                      The most learned and thoughtful people in the world are the ones who are able to multi-task ie express their views plus not getting snarly at others…On here it is just a matter of proof reading and we all do that don't we?

                      I understand perfectly what is going on. I don't need it coated with a heap of grumpy to understand it better. No exceptions are needed for the so-called ‘serious commentators’ as that is all of us isn't it?

                      To go much further down your track is close to the old 'ends justify the means trick'…..you are allowing an exception because you agree with the subject matter.

                      I sense a bit of head patting here and that is definitely not needed.

          • Tricledrown 1.1.1.1.3

            Andre a fault in your economics of water the flat playing field why do residents pay more than farmers.

            Look at what's happened in our electricity market prices just keep going up to where they are unaffordable for most.

            • Andre 1.1.1.1.3.1

              Domestic water costs much much more than agricultural water because of the cost to treat it to make it safe and taste ok, and the massive cost of piping it to every house.

              Similarly, for domestic electricity, the cost of the wiring to get it to every house is a large component of the electricity price. Between Transpower and local lines charges, getting it to the house is a bigger component of the bill than the actual electricity. Similarly, domestic customers get rorted for huge marketing and administrative costs for all the different retailers.

          • Tricledrown 1.1.1.1.4

            Andre your almonds or almond milk will be highly tainted by glyphosate.

            Then the bees needed to pollinate the almonds are dying out because of widespread use of glysophate.

            So your almonds could be a very expensive luxury given the rapid increase in temperature in the growing areas in the US.

            The free market needs Welfare every 10 years to survive .

            So anyone who pushes this free market theory cause that's all it is, Is making shit up no where in this world does the free market exist it's a myth pushed by the wealthy to keep the poor poorer .

            • Andre 1.1.1.1.4.2

              Well now, glyphosate is waaaay down the list of concerns in almonds. Even for those that have bought into the false demonising of glyphosate.

              Personally, I'd be more worried about my almonds coming from a batch that for some reason had regressed to a natural high amygdalin content that has been genetically modified out of the ancestors to almonds. (My concern level about that is indistinguishable from zero).

              Neonicotinoid insecticides on the other hand …

              Just outta curiosity, if you've got a problem with a market model for water allocation in areas where it's a scarce resource, what kind of allocation and cost recovery model would you impose if you were handed a magic wand?

              • Tricledrown

                Andre they use glyphosate to keep the grass and weeds down between the almond trees.there are only a small number of organic growers.

              • Rosemary McDonald

                …those that have bought into the false demonising of glyphosate.

                Right.

                Like these numpties…https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal-articles/carcinogenicity-ofa-glyphosate-why-isa-newa-zealand-sa-epaa-losta-in-the-weeds

                But hey, if it floats your boat to stand with the poisoners.

                • Andre

                  If you're a worker spending all day every day exposed to it, then you should probably be concerned enough to take some rudimentary precautions to reduce exposure. At massive levels of exposure, there aren't many substances that aren't likely to cause harm of one kind or another.

                  In terms or what the risk really is, a few studies suggest workers at the highest levels of exposure may have a slightly increased risk of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. (Other credible studies find no increased risk). Like maybe 30% increased risk of a rare-ish cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Reminder, these are workers with the highest exposure, they're the ones spending all day mixing and spraying it. But realistically, the absolute numbers of people involved in the studies are so low that there remains a high chance the claimed elevated risk (reminder, it's only the small number of workers with the highest exposure level that show any elevated risk) is just noise rather than true signal.

                  If the risk is so low for workers with the highest levels of exposure to the stuff, what does that mean for the rest of us whose exposure is many orders of magnitude less? It means that while it may indeed be unwise to take a weekly swig from the bottle of Roundup in the garage, but if you can refrain from that, there really isn't anything to be concerned about.

                  Something that amuses me (in a black humour way) about the glyphosate demonisation is that most growers that feel pressured to not use it then go on to substitute something else. Often that something else is something that has much more significant questions against its use, such as dicamba. But for the growers, the pressure is off until the whatever else they've changed to catches the attention of the loony brigade.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    Assessing the effects of glyphosate on animals must be quite tricky, don't you think – so many potential effects to consider.

                    Glyphosate may affect human gut microbiota
                    More than half of bacterial species in the core of the human gut microbiome are potentially sensitive to glyphosate, shows new research. Researchers introduced the first bioinformatics resource to determine and test the potential sensitivity of organisms to glyphosate.
                    Classification of the glyphosate target enzyme (5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase) for assessing sensitivity of organisms to the herbicide

                    Separating the Empirical Wheat From the Pseudoscientific Chaff: A Critical Review of the Literature Surrounding Glyphosate, Dysbiosis and Wheat-Sensitivity [20 Sept 2020]
                    Future long-term studies examining physiologically relevant doses in both healthy and genetically susceptible populations are warranted to determine the real risk posed to human health.

                    Impact of Glyphosate on the Honey Bee Gut Microbiota: Effects of Intensity, Duration, and Timing of Exposure
                    https://msystems.asm.org/content/5/4/e00268-20.abstract

                    Best to keep an open mind, and I wonder about the utility of the "loony brigade" label – after all, while our collective knowledge is increasing in leaps and bounds, it's evident that behavioural and ‘institutional’ quirks can delay optimal responses to some new knowledge.

                    Not to mention that 'unknowns' will always outnumber 'knowns'.

                    • Andre

                      It may this, it may that … Arguing like that is just making up one's mind that they don't like something and are making up all kinds of shit that may be true, but don't really care whether or not it is true as long as the fear and doubt created is enough to create opposition to whatever it is they don't like.

                      Meanwhile, many large studies have been done which have found zero evidence that glyphosate causes harm in the vast majority of people exposed to it, with a very weak possibility of slightly increased risk of a rare harm in the very small portion of the population with extremely high exposure to it.

                      I'd call that very good reason to continue using it until something else comes along that has received equal scrutiny and been found to have a better effectiveness/risk profile. That's going to be tough because the actual demonstrated risk of glyphosate is somewhere between very very very low and zero.

                      Right now, the specious fear,uncertainty, doubt whipped up by the loony glyphosate antis have the effect of increasing the use of alternatives that are much higher risk of harm. That's just dumb.

                    • WeTheBleeple

                      From the study abstract:

                      "A conservative estimate from our results shows that 54% of species in the core human gut microbiome are sensitive to glyphosate"

                      The results are interesting in that some gut species are resistant (to glyphosate), while others are sensitive – imbalances in the gut microbiome will very likely result. Evolution baby, happens fast for microbes, way slower for humans.

                      Science uses terms like may, could, likely… until further evidence is at hand. Conclusions should not be grabbed at, nor should possibilities be ignored.

                      The human gut microbiome has a profound effect on human development, health and disease outcomes.

                      But we could always pretend everything's fine because glyphosate is very useful and convenient. Should it turn out to be altering the evolution of the human gut, no biggie right?

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    Thanks Andre; the use of glyphosate has many benefits.

                    When planning, conducting and analysing the results of scientific research, really does pay to keep an open mind, IMHO and experience. I hope that doesn’t make me a ‘loony‘, or ‘dumb‘ in your eyes, but even if it does it’s too late for me to change now. Maybe too late for us both. smiley

                    • Andre

                      In this case, plenty of studies of actual humans exposed to the substance of interest have been done from which a reasonable conclusion can be drawn.

                      That reasonable conclusion is that for the vast majority of exposure scenarios, there is zero evidence of harm. For the worst exposure case, there might be a tiny blip of risk, or the numbers are so small that's it's also fairly likely to be a statistical artefact from how widely the net was cast.

                      A reasonable open mind is also capable of accepting when enough has been investigated to come to a conclusion that there really is nothing there. Until new good evidence of a different conclusion becomes available.

                      Glyphosate is certainly in the category of enough investigations have been done to conclude it is safe, with maybe a tiny question mark against highest exposure workers. In any reasonable world, the burden of proof would now shift to those asserting (currently without evidence) that it is harmful to those exposed to tiny residual amounts.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    There’s a vast body of historical scientific research on the safety of glyphosate in animals, including research that was conducted carefully by scientists with no conflicts of interest. All research has limitations – IMHO it's prudent to remain open-minded about potential and/or as yet poorly recognised side effects of such a large-scale (global) experiment. Such concerns may prove to be unfounded, but that previous quote sums things up (for me), and we can agree to disagree.

                    Future long-term studies examining physiologically relevant doses in both healthy and genetically susceptible populations are warranted to determine the real risk posed to human health.

                    DDT was highly effective in keeping the mosquito vector of malaria in check, and that wasn’t its only use. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DDT

                    • Andre

                      DDT was originally used and tested for spraying on surfaces as a contact poison, and it's highly effective and low risk used that way.

                      Had it stayed within that method of application and use, it would likely never have developed the bad name it now has. The problems came about when they started spraying enormous quantities of it indiscriminately outdoors more or less anywhere a flying insect might be, before any investigations had been done of what its effects in the wider ecosystem might be.

                      When the problems became obvious, it was banned. At the cost of enormous human suffering from malaria that could have been reduced had it been reverted to its original use on indoor surfaces.

                      But DDT is now making a bit of a comeback, strictly limited to application to indoor surfaces. Which is a good thing. It will alleviate a lot of suffering from malaria, at least until the local mosquito populations develop resistance.

                      Dunno why the problems from spraying massive amounts of DDT into the environment without prior testing is relevant to glyphosate. They are totally different situations. Glyphosate has been extensively studied across humans and many other lifeforms, and negligible harm has been detected, except to the targeted pest plants and nearby plants that cop unintended overspray.

                    • Rosemary McDonald

                      @Andre

                      …plenty of studies of actual humans exposed to the substance of interest have been done

                      "Plenty", and yet you cite absolutely none.

                      Funny that.

                    • Andre

                      @Rosemary the conversation with DMK was philosophical in nature around the relationship of results from studies and the acceptance (or not) of vague hypothetical undemonstrated risks from those substances after tests have been done.

                      But if you want links, here's just the first one that popped up from my search:

                      Conclusions: In this large, prospective cohort study, no association was apparent between glyphosate and any solid tumors or lymphoid malignancies overall, including NHL and its subtypes. There was some evidence of increased risk of AML among the highest exposed group that requires confirmation.

                      https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29136183/

                      Note that the "some evidence" was for a different kind of cancer than the non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cited elsewhere. The one-off appearance of weak evidence for different effects in different studies is a strong indication of statistical noise rather than real effects. That statistical noise should be expected when dredging large data sets, which is effectively what these studies are doing when looking for evidence of some previously unknown harm from a substance.

                      This piece from The Conversation has a good walk through the evidence, and what the different organisation statements really mean and how they should be interpreted.

                      https://theconversation.com/stop-worrying-and-trust-the-evidence-its-very-unlikely-roundup-causes-cancer-104554

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    Relevance? "Problems from spraying massive amounts of DDT into the environment" were recognised only after the event. 'We' are learning, but there's always room for improvement, if the spirit is willing.

                    Would you be oppsed to “Future long-term studies examining physiologically relevant doses in both healthy and genetically susceptible populations“?

                    • Andre

                      No I wouldn't be opposed to doing more studies.

                      I'm just of the opinion that the evidence from the large number of studies already done on actual humans is sufficient to conclude the risk of harm is negligible (except maybe for the highest exposure workers).

                      So now, as far as I'm concerned, the burden of proof has clearly shifted to those that continue to baseless assert risk against the huge amount of evidence of negligible harm that has already been gathered. And that it's quite appropriate to continue using it in the meantime.

                    • Andre

                      Note that glyphosate was first introduced in 1974, and has been very extensively used since the 90s. The complete lack of field evidence of harm so far is quite strong evidence for safety.

                      It's also a clear point of difference with DDT where the harms became evident from the field quite quickly, and were quickly and easily confirmed in lab studies.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    Excellent! A brief, balanced and appropriately cautious editorial opinion (in JNCI) on the 2017 study you cited about a possible association between glyphosate exposure and (only) cancer. Worth a read.

                    Evaluating the potential for glyphosate exposure to increase cancer risks in humans is important due to its widespread and increasing use in the United States and globally and indications of potential carcinogenicity from toxicologic and epidemiologic studies. Epidemiologic studies have inherent limitations with respect to cancer prevention as they generally detect elevated cancer incidence and mortality cancer hazard decades after carcinogen exposure begins. The timeline for identifying cancer hazards in prospective cohort studies may be accelerated by incorporating biomarkers that may reflect carcinogenic hazards earlier than cancer incidence or mortality outcomes. Expansion of current efforts to collect biological samples from AHS participants would increase the potential to provide timely evidence to evaluate the potential for glyphosate and other pesticides to cause cancer in humans.
                    https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article/110/5/446/4633859

                    • Andre

                      Translation: We didn't find anything, but give us more money to keep looking because we think it's important. BTW doing this stuff is hard coz there's lots of factors, so we need more money to keep trying to figure it out.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    Is that the best way to bolster your position? To be fair to the author, I doubt she's after more money, but maybe you know her circumstances better than I?

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_M._Ward

                    Figuring and not figuring things out is what people, including scientists, do. Sometimes that takes money – go figure!

                    • Andre

                      There's nothing in that piece that argues against my position. They didn't find anything suggesting harm from glyphosate. They included a lot of waffle about benzene (a well-known serious risk), for some reason that's not at all clear to me, but didn't attribute any harm to glyphosate. None.

                      It's just a collection of maybe this, maybe that … we need to keep looking to be sure.

                      Ward is an epidemiologist. The piece argues for more epidemiological studies. Studies need funding. If that funding comes through, it may create more employment for Ward and/or her colleagues.

                      A lot of my immediate family are and were academics. That funding treadmill is one of the many reasons I had zero interest in following them into academia.

                      edit: although in hindsight maybe I should have followed up my interest in Paul Callahan’s MRI machine a bit more, at Massey. That was a seriously interesting bit of kit, and the math to work out what it could tell us was really fascinating too.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    Seemed to me that you were having a go at the author (Ward) for her money grubbing ways, but maybe I misread.

                    Ward is indeed an epidemiologist, with some expertise in the epidemiology of cancers – that's probably why she was considered an appropriate scientist to write an editorial on a primary research paper that might be expected to have real-world implications.

                    Ward's work is heavily centered around "cancer disparities, cancer treatment and outcomes, cancer surveillance, Occupational cancer and environmental cancer.

                    Presumably that particular expert on cancer epidemiology (Ward) believed it was relevant, but if the reason for the benzene ‘wafflegenuinely eludes you then there's really little point in further discussion. Over and out.

                    • Andre

                      Sorry about the crap wording on my part.

                      I'm disgusted at how the "publish or perish" of decades ago seems to have morphed into something like "you're only as good as the overhead portion of your latest grant" and it came out as a personal dig at Ward.

                      As far as benzene goes, I really can't see a scientific purpose for including that waffle. Hell, even the American Petroleum Institute way back in 1948 said the only safe exposure level to benzene is zero. At a time when tetraethyllead was still the wonder additive.

                      So the only purpose I can see is to slip it in there is in support of a potential grant application as a "see, here's another substance where there were inconclusive results, so that's why we need to do more studies".

                      That tactic ignores the vast body of evidence of harm from benzene, which is obvious as soon as anyone looks into it. There's just no plausible equivalence about risks from benzene, and risks from glyphosate (which are very very low if not zero).

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    The evidence to date suggests that glyphosate exposure poses at worst a very slight, and at best an insignificant cancer risk to humans – apart from tonight I'm certainly not losing any sleep over it here in NZ, although maybe I should be.

                    Carcinogenicity of glyphosate: why is New Zealand's EPA lost in the weeds?

                    An Oct 2019 NZEPA article on Use of Glyphosate in NZ states:

                    In 2015 an International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) report classified glyphosate as “2A probably carcinogenic”. Other things that fall under that same classification include hot drinks (over 65degC) and acrylamide – which are the crispy burned proteins from the barbecue or chips.

                    Glossing over the known toxicity of those lovely "crispy burned proteins" does make you wonder about the scientific integrity of the NZEPA, and that's coming from someone who loves his chippies.

                    It's interesting (to me) that a very recent review of the available literature claims there is a paucity of data on actual human exposure to glyphosate, i.e. studies that measure glyphosate levels in humans remain quite limited in number.

                    Update on human exposure to glyphosate, with a complete review of exposure in children [12 Nov 2020]
                    The literature on glyphosate exposure levels, especially in children, remains limited. Without more data collected in a standardized way, parsing out the potential relationship between glyphosate exposure and disease will not be possible.

                    I believe the point Ward was making by referencing benzene is that our understanding of the risk of (different types of) cancer due to benzene exposure has enlarged over 30+ years, from early studies in the 80s, through a review in 1997, and a further review in 2007, to a 'final' WHO review in 2012 (all referenced in Ward's editorial).

                    In short, it's best (scientific) practice not to jump to conclusions, nor to clutch at convenient answers – that can be left to the market. I don't personally believe that it's prudent to conclude that glyphosate poses no significant risk to human health, but don't worry about it because that multi-billion dollar horse (est. US$7.8 billion in 2020) has bolted.

                    Down on the farm glyphosate is becoming less effective – time for another herbicide? Why not just use more – we've all gotta eat!

                    Use Of Controversial Weed Killer Glyphosate Skyrockets On Midwest Fields [27 May 2019]

                    "Sometimes if you timed it just right, you could get away with just one spraying. Now we’re spraying as often as three or four times a year," he said.

                    Benham said farmers continue to spend more on seed and chemicals but aren't seeing more profit.

                    "That puts the farmer in that much more of a crisis mode. Can’t do without it, can’t hardly live with it,” he said.

                    • Andre

                      Oh boy, now we come around to acrylamide.

                      That piece you've linked doesn't show any evidence that dietary acrylamide poses any risk. It merely asserts that, in several different ways. Although it looks like it is linked to references in that paragraph where it repeated asserts this, all those links just go back to itself.

                      As for the substance of the paper, it's excellent fodder for anyone wanting to have a crack at scientists for wasting huge amounts of time and money to demonstrate the bleedin' fucken obvious, The bleedin' fucken obvious being demonstrated is that a fried potato dish contains wildly different amounts of acrylamide depending on how it's prepared. IgNobel level stuff, if it weren't so banal.

                      Back to whether acrylamide is indeed a risk via dietary administration in dietary quantities, it seems that there actually is significant dispute over whether there are risks. The piece below from Harvard is the most readable overview that came up on a quick search, there's plenty in a similar vein from more recently but they weren't as readable:

                      https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/acrylamide-no-longer-such-a-hot-potato

                      It appears to be another case where acrylamide is a chemical with industrial uses, so it's quite reasonable for workers exposed to massive amounts to query its safety. As it turns out, at massive exposures it is outright toxic as well hints of carcinogenicity. But it's a helluva stretch to go from there to claiming ill effects from the tiny quantities in food.

                      But if anyone is taken in by the scaremongering, that's fine. They can easily make dietary choices to avoid acrylamides without affecting anyone else. If they decide the only cooking method they're comfortable with is boiling, it doesn't limit anyone else's choices. Well, not unless they turn into rabid zealots about it and insist that everyone else do the same.

                      Thing is, I'd wager a dedicated scaremonger could take just about any food, and drill down to find some constituent that is harmful at massive exposures, complete with lab animals studies to "prove" it. The "banana equivalent dose" for radioactivity illustrates this.

                      If your explanation of Ward's reason for mentioning benzene is close, it is still deeply deceptive. Benzene has long been known as bad bad shit to keep well away from. The understanding of the precise nature of some of the edges of that badness has evolved a bit over time, in ways of interest only to a very small subset of epidemiologists, toxicologists and cancer specialists. That evolution in understanding hasn't in the slightest changed the general understanding of benzene as bad shit to keep well away from. Including benzene in a discussion about glyphosate, where the question is whether risk is effectively zero for everybody or whether there may be a small risk for the small number of highest exposed workers, is disingenuous at best and more likely deliberately deceptively trying to paint a false equivalence.

                      As for keeping an open mind, that's a circle back to where we were in the thread back here: https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-08-12-2020/#comment-1770148

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    Polyacrylamide's very useful in the lab, but we do apply the precautionary principle and treat the monomer with respect, largely out of concern for its neurotoxic effects. Can't imagine that there's any risk from regularly ingesting tiny quantities (although I wouldn't swear to it) – maybe it could even ward off the COVID smiley

                    There are (a small number of) irresponsible scientists, in both public and private sectors, and it’s best to keep an open mind on who the worst offenders might be. But when it comes to industrial-scale scientific misconduct, always "follow the money".

                    The past suppression of industry knowledge of the toxicity of benzene to humans and potential bias in future benzene research
                    Petrochemical industry representatives often withhold information and misinterpret positive evidence of toxicity of benzene, even from their own research, also discouraging or delaying disclosure of findings of adverse effects to the public. They now appear to be attempting to influence study results in industry's favor by offering predetermined conclusions about study results as part of an effort to draw financial support for the studies. The American Petroleum Institute is currently raising funds for benzene research being conducted in China for which it has already announced the intended conclusions.

                    Benzene-induced Cancers: Abridged History and Occupational Health Impact
                    Further to Peter Infante’s excellent investigative exposé of the truth behind some of the benzene industry’s malpractices and abuses (e.g., withholding incriminating data) and resultant OSHA standard-setting issues, there were similar shenanigans surrounding the experimental findings from benzene-exposed animals. Following a series of early, albeit patently inadequate, bioassay experiments on benzene—too few animals, lack of control animals, low and short-term exposures, incomplete pathology often looking only for leukemias – the more modern animal bioassay data clearly confirm and extend the possible cancer hazards of worker and consumer exposures to benzene.

                    I do try to keep an open mind regarding the possibility that some scientists are scaremongering for personal gain, just as I try to keep an open mind on the risks associated with the deliberate release of huge quantities of unnatural chemicals into the environment. I urge you (and others) to do the same, but understand that it’s a personal choice.

                    "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
                    – Santayana

            • Phillip ure 1.1.1.1.4.3

              I have steered clear of almond milk…

              after learning how much water is used to make 1 litre of the stuff ..

  2. Phillip ure 2

    I would like to alert those looking for economic answers/viable alternatives to the recently published book by yanis varoufakis..

    varoufakis was the finance minister in greece when the greek govt melted down..

    this book is called 'another now' (subtitle) 'dispatches from an alternative present'..

    and that subtitle explains the premise of the book..(230 pages)

    it is set in 2025…and posits that after the gfc in 2008..the world underwent serious reform..leading to a world almost unrecognisable…it is so different to the neoliberal tyranny we suffer under..

    varoufakis presents a clear brace of ideas/formula for change..

    but this is no weighty/dry tome..

    the conceit used is conversations between people from our neoliberal future..and those living in this much better/changed world..

    and this is how varoufakis explains his ideas…and I found his ideas both exciting and viable…

    I am totally smitten with/by this tome..

    to the extent I got it out from the library..and am doing a version of the returning rich/ex-backpacker tourist..

    ..in that I am going to purchase my own copy..(that I can loan to interested parties)

    and I am sure that many on this forum will find his ideas 'interesting' to say the least..

    and I am looking forward to hearing the reactions from other readers..

    • mikesh 2.1

      I went to hear Colin James' address at Wellington's Baptist Church last evening. He pointed out that, when Keynesianism collapsed, there was Milton Friedman sitting on the shelf with ideas waiting for adoption. He asked who was sitting on the shelf now that neoliberalism was collapsing – nobody as far as he could see. Perhaps he should have considered Syriza's former finance minister.

      • roy cartland 2.1.1

        Yanis Varoufakis – one of my heroes. Smart guy.

        • greywarshark 2.1.1.1

          I'm with you there. He is big enough and robust enough to look at the Great Pretenders trying to dominate the world.

          I thought this was an interesting piece in the list under the link about a clamp on economic discussion in UK education. From September 2020.
          https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/sep/27/uk-schools-told-not-to-use-anti-capitalist-material-in-teaching
          Schools in England told not to use material from anti-capitalist groups

          Idea categorised as ‘extreme political stance’ equivalent to endorsing illegal activity
          Department for Education (DfE) guidance issued on Thursday for school leaders and teachers involved in setting the relationship, sex and health curriculum categorised anti-capitalism as an “extreme political stance” and equated it with opposition to freedom of speech, antisemitism and endorsement of illegal activity.

          This sounds as if they are aligned with the Labour officials who resiled from supporting their leader as they should have. Psychologically thinking, it is an example of the Karpman triangle where at any one time someone can be moving between three positions which makes it impossible to argue for a point, as you will always be wrong from another two POV. The UK seems to be getting very sly with extreme concern about some people’s sensitivities which will mean in the end that matters will not be revealed on the excuse it would be upsetting. Sort of we can’t tell the people about something or it would start a riot.

      • gsays 2.1.2

        I watched the Colin James/Tamatha Paul/Fabian stream. Very encouraging.

        Local and organised was the take home for me.

        Local solutions to our problems. As a workforce we need to organize. Join a union.

    • Tiger Mountain 2.2

      Not that keen on Yanis after he dropped his bundle when negotiating with the EU on austerity measures, though that is easy to say from a distance and there was rather a lot of pressure on him. Academics are well known for vacillating, but in Greece OXI should mean OXI.

      Should check out his book regardless to keep up, as many people still rate him.

      • mikesh 2.2.1

        The Greek word for "no" should be "ohi" when transcribed into English. The Greek "X" is actually a sort of gutteral "h".

        • Tiger Mountain 2.2.1.1

          yes, a Greek guy I know told me that, and gave a demo, but I just liked the look of the X on the signs at demos etc.

      • Phillip ure 2.2.2

        my understanding is that he was the finance minister….

        and that all around him in cabinet caved to the demands around any bailout..that he argued against 'till the end..

        he has also written a book about how all that went down..

    • Tricledrown 2.3

      While Yanis was the Greek leader he could only do incremental change sound familiar

      He was held to ransom by the EU and Goldman Sachs who defrauded Greece so the Fox was left in control of the henhouse.

      So what solutions does Yanis Varoufakis to undo the monopolistic hegemony.

  3. roy cartland 3

    Can anyone help explain?

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/300176880/taxpayer-grants-to-lord-of-the-rings-represent-significant-fiscal-risk-to-government-finances

    I hate subsidising Bezos as much as anyone, but if a production brings in $5, they take back $1, doesn't that leave the country with $4 in hand? Is the author suggesting that the prod's would come here without subsidies (if so, why wouldn't he say that)? How can the subsidies 'cost' us, when they attract four times as much as they pay? Or is it that those $4 just go into private accounts, not the government's, i.e. is it the tax on that $4 that we should be counting?

    • Phillip ure 3.1

      star-struck politicians..

      (of all stripes)..?

      • Tricledrown 3.1.1

        Goldman Sachs loan shark vulture capitalist corruption of the Greek political elite is what lead to Greeces economic collapse.

        Yet after Goldman Sachs were also deeply involved in most of the Ponzi scheme collapses 2008 one of their chief executives was made governor of EU finance .

        Nothing changed Trump reprieved all the safe guards against bank under capitalization allowing ponzi schemes to flourish again.

        These vulture capitalists have more power than any govt and no amount of legislation or reform in NZ can undo it.

        The big trading blocks are all in it together protecting the power brokers print money to bail them out while they have their money hidden away in corrupt tax havens.

        The panama papers only scratched the surface the whistle blower ends up in jail while the proceeds of crime are laundered back through the big international banks where nobody has been prosecuted.

    • Sabine 3.2

      tax?

      That is for the working class, not the investor class. Bezos wants and gets hit tax hand outs and his tax incentives and his negative tax rates and his tax returns. Thank eew very much.

    • WeTheBleeple 3.3

      It's an absolute rort. We are subsidising the richest man in the world to make fantasies for adult children.

      Cos living in fantasy land has worked out great so far. All my peers who are more concerned with a film franchise than the planet. Screw this industry it's part of the keep em distracted with nonsense strategy.

      Take the $4 and tax it. What does govt get? Less than they're spending. And all that spending is to make profits, not art.

      Why do you think this is causing concern? It's not because it's a gravy train. We are being rorted, and nobody's got the nuts to stand up to the rich.

      • greywarshark 3.3.1

        So? Can we make money from it. And keep on the world's mind-map. Down 'Here at the End of the World we Learn to Dance' sort of thing. We will have less tourists here soonish and out of sight is out of mind so often. Don't get in a tizz about Peter please Standardistas – he seems a man people love to hate. There are plenty of Slytherins around as alternatives.

        • WeTheBleeple 3.3.1.1

          I have no idea if NZ is contracted in as a shareholder of profit in these enterprises. I've found no evidence that we profit from any of this.

          What is the cost of these big players?

          Sinking tremendous resources into light entertainment as the world burns is utter nonsense. Propping up the richest people on the planet while our people are homeless.

          There's no job security these are contractors here to make a buck, and when the tap's turned off they'll leave. Then there'll be a press release about how Bezos has been picked on and unfairly denied the ability to shower us with his blessings.

  4. Pat 4

    "Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she would like to see small increases in houses prices, acknowledging most people “expect” the value of their most valuable asset to keep rising."

    https://www.interest.co.nz/property/108301/pm-jacinda-ardern-says-sustained-moderation-remains-governments-goal-when-it-comes

    "According to the latest 1 News-Colmar Brunton poll (conducted between November 28 and December 2), Labour is up seven percentage points since the last poll on October 15, with 53% support, while National is down six percentage points to 25%.

    Ardern is also up three points in the preferred prime minister ranks to 58%."

    • Sabine 4.1

      Well and here in Rotorua a rental manager called 'renting a privilege'. Who needs National when you can have a majority Labour Government. Same homelessness and misery, but kinder and gentler.

      • arkie 4.1.1

        Ardern pledges to care 9% more by 2030

        Jacinda Ardern has responded to a surge in house prices, concerns about carbon emissions and calls for action on child poverty by pledging to care more about these issues. The pledge comes after a week of harsh criticism and opposition attacks, and in response to them Ardern has promised to drastically raise the already high levels at which she cares.

        Some economists and political commentators question whether these levels of care are sustainable, predicting that Ardern will risk straining her neck and run out of adorable children to do Facebook livestreams with long before she reaches her new goals, while others have suggested Ardern’s majority government should do actual things to reduce house prices and carbon emissions and improve the lives of children, a suggestion Ardern has dismissed as anti-caring.

        ‘This will be the kind and compassionate caring that New Zealanders expect from their government,” a statement from Ardern’s office read. “As prime minister for all New Zealanders I will put caring at the heart of everything I do. I make no apologies for that.”

        https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/24-11-2020/ardern-pledges-to-care-9-more-by-2030/

        Danyl Mclauchlan with some good satire.

      • Tricledrown 4.1.2

        Sabine a problem in the making for 40 years the low tax mantra is the problem no body wants to pay more tax to fix the problem.

        Bringing in people to fill gaps in our work force because we make education unaffordable when we have had shortages for decades and no sign of those shortages being locally filled because the education system doesn't have the capacity to train specialist's .

        IT,teachers,builders,doctors surgeons other medical professionals Nurses.Builders electricians plumbers engineers road construction workers etc.

        No longterm planning by successive govts just election to election thinking.

        It's cheaper to steal workers from other countries than to fix a longterm problem.

      • greywarshark 4.1.3

        Do they supply thick cardboard cartons in the shop doorways for the homeless to use? Thoughtful.

  5. Adrian Thornton 5

    Here is a good piece on Obama that makes me wonder if a similar piece will be written on Ardern in a few years, who like all Liberals can never ever deliver the changes they promise because it always becomes a conflict of ideology, and the Liberal ideology has NO empathy for Humans or the Planet if it becomes a case of picking one or the other, the extreme centrist liberal will always conform to the market before considering people or the planet…every time.

    Barack Obama & the Death of Idealism

    https://consortiumnews.com/2020/12/07/barack-obama-the-death-of-idealism/

    " Over the next five years, Obama administration officials vigorously fought a Senate investigation into Bush torture abuses, and Obama personally defended the CIA after it was caught illegally spying on the Senate to thwart the inquiry. The Obama administration also torpedoed every lawsuit by a torture victim in U.S. court."

    • Tricledrown 5.1

      Adrian Obama as any president is only a figure head who can veto or make a meaningless executive orders.

      The Power lies in the house of Representatives and the Senate with the supreme court having some power as well.

      The republicans controlled those houses 6 out of 8 years of his presidency and filibustered the other 2 years so blaming Obama for failures is a failure to understand how US politics works.

      • Tricledrown 5.1.1

        Obama has to follow not lead the people who control the US have more power than any politician to stay in power you have to be a lapdog .

        Similar in NZ if you go to far from the Neo liberal ideology you will be targeted by the powers that control the media .

        • Phillip ure 5.1.1.1

          one of the major fails of obama – aside from Libya – was his failure to appoint judges when he had the chance ..

          I was quite shocked to find he had only appointed 85 judges during his term of office..

          leaving trump to fill all those vacancies with his people..

          I mean..w.t.f..?…obama..?

          • greywarshark 5.1.1.1.1

            I'm sure this has come up before. Perhaps in the archives?

          • Andre 5.1.1.1.2

            A quick google would quickly tell you why that came about. It's not a failing of Obama's. You would really do well to develop a few fact-checking skills of your own instead of lazily jumping to conclusions.

            Judges have to be confirmed by the senate. For the first two years of Obama's term, Dems had a supermajority and were mostly able to confirm judges. Then they lost their supermajority in 2010, and Repugs used the filibuster to block all judges.

            Finally in November 2013, Dems in the senate get frustrated enough by the Repug blockade that they nuked the filibuster for judicial appointments below Supreme Court level, and they were able to confirm a few more.

            Then the Repugs took a senate majority in 2014, and refused to confirm any judges from that point onwards.

            Since 2016, the Reepugs have had a senate majority, so have been able to push appointment confirmations through. Even Supreme Court appointments after they nuked the filibuster for Supreme appointments that the Dems had left in place.

            • Adrian Thornton 5.1.1.1.2.1

              Obama's enters the White House on the back of promises of Hope and Change and then after eight years of his utter failure to deliver or even seem like he wanted to deliver = straight line to Trump….simple, and then to prove how narcissistic the Democrats are, they don't learn even one lesson from their historic loss in 2016…oh no they make up some bullshit about the Russians to divert attention and avoid any self reflection whatsoever instead….and almost lose a second time.

              • Andre

                All that relates to the simple problem of things don't happen when you you don't have enough votes … exactly how?

                Also, Mueller was a lifelong Republican, appointed by a lifelong Republican (Rosenstein), who was appointed by by Donnie Dorko himself. Dunno why you're completely obsessed by the false idea that the Russia investigation is a Dem thing when all the key players are Republicans. Did Sean or Rupert set up your news feed for you?

  6. Tiger Mountain 6

    NZ Labour won’t set a course to port willingly. Efforts must obviously be made however in the material interests of the working class. It is torture watching an unencumbered Govt. with the power to build thousands of state houses and apartments, and to make all the sadists at WINZ/MSD reapply for their own jobs, not do it.

    Long time Labour loyalists say it is too soon, and hint knowingly that us “maddies” should “wait and see”. I say lets start door knocking all the new Labour MPs, picketing MSD offices, and running united campaigns among the NGOs that do some of the Govts job for them. Jeeze, in Whangarei the Hare Krishna kitchen provides several thousand lunches per week to local schools.

    The largely middle class professionals and neo liberal managerialists that make up much of NZ Labour Wellington staff and MPs seem to have less idea of the lot of the underclass and working class as the years since 1984 roll on.

    Roger Douglas used to bully unionist Sonia Davies and call her “granny” as an MP, union MPs still get deselected like happened to Sue Moroney, who NZ women can thank for improvements to PPL. There used to be a joint Council of Labour where the FOL would meet directly on workers issues with the Labour Party, till Douglas and Prebble got to work! So really Labour tops have effectively tried to weaken if not sever the relationship with organised Labour, only a handful of unions remain affiliated.

    Jacinda and Robbo have only ever known the monetarist, contract out, governance, flog it off, model–so don’t look to them to retire neo liberal hegemony. The NZ People, grass roots, and boomer* replacement generations are going to have to do that! At least we have three years to get busy and not deal with National attacks, but if this Govt. stays passive, the right will be back–likely in a populist Trumpish form.
    * I’m in the boomer ‘cohort’, but have been a life long socialist, not a grumpy reactionary tory.

    [TheStandard: A moderator moved this comment to Open Mike as being off topic or irrelevant in the post it was made in. Be more careful in future.]
    [lprent: if you want to write about a topic that is completely different to the post topic, then do it here. Don’t waste my time. ]

  7. Robert Guyton 7

    I wrote a poem for an evening poetry event in the village; perhaps someone here will enjoy it.

    Trees aren’t people

    Trees aren’t people

    It’s pretty obvious.

    They don’t have, say, mouths and breathe the way we do,

    Though I suppose the tiny holes under their leaves, stomata, their “little mouths”, do breathe,

    But not deeply, into lungs, as people breathe.

    Nor do they have a brain, complex and multi-branched like the amazing organ inside of our heads,

    Though you might see a resemblance to their root-systems, complex and multi-branched;

    But if you accept that as a brain; sure, it passes chemical messages the way ours does, but in the soil??

    A brain without a skull? How is that possible?

    If that were true, it would mean the tree is upside-down; head in the ground, body in the air!

    Or that we were upside down, I suppose…

    But trees can’t talk; communicate with each other.

    Well, other than through their roots, as scientists claim they can;

    Warning each other of approaching herbivores or clouds of hungry leaf-eating insects.

    But they don’t have complex family relationships like people do;

    Though foresters do say there are grandparent trees in the old-growth forests that nurture vulnerable saplings,

    Sending nutrients and water through those same root-networks,

    Keeping them alive through droughts and restoring them to health following fires;

    But it’s not real family though, is it?

    Not like ours.

    Trees do reproduce though, don’t they?

    And their “bits”; their reproductive parts, flowers with their stamens and pistils, anthers and ovaries, for goodness sake, they’re so much like ours,

    Ovaries! Really!

    But that’s most likely coincidence,

    Because trees aren’t people.

    Trees can’t hear, of course; they have no ears,

    Though vibrations, well, okay, yes, they do detect and respond to vibrations;

    The sensitive mimosa shows us that,

    But that’s not hearing, is it?

    Vibration-detection?

    Is that hearing?

    Perhaps it might be,

    At a stretch.

    A blood-stream?

    A network of tiny tubes that carry their life-fluids throughout their body?

    I suppose they do have that,

    Sap, where we have blood.

    But a heart, that rhythmically beats,

    Trees have no heart,

    True, it has been found that trees pulse, in a rhythm that confounds researchers

    But we don’t know yet where that comes from.

    Yep.

    I’m fairly confident in saying,

    That trees aren’t people.

    It’s pretty obvious.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 7.1

      Thanks Robert, informative and fun, with a nice rhythm – hope it goes/went well aloud.

    • gsays 7.2

      Thought of recording that Robert?

      Spoken word or with a mellow musical accompaniment.

      Perhaps the wind moving thru branches and leaves…

      • Robert Guyton 7.2.1

        I hadn't, gsays, till now and am thinking, thanks to your suggestion, of a lovely set of wind-chimes I was given that have an especially melodious sound to them that perhaps might make a good sound back-drop 🙂

  8. greywarshark 8

    The tree that is outside my place is annoying. It is always dropping little cones with sharp points. I have picked up 200 at one time so I can mow the berm without dulling the blades, and anyway they break up and would leave sharp bits that when children run across the grass would hurt them.

    It has largish leaves with pointy edges like a star, they look so fresh and green in spring and turn delicate shades of pale lemon or ruddy red in winter. Then they fall and I sweep up the ones on the road and call for the road sweeper to make sure our street is on their route. The others I pop in the compost with a few in the Greenwaste. It is time consuming but they demand attention because of their numbers – how many? Hundreds of thousands?

    It keeps the hot early morning sun from heating the house in summer, and in winter is bare and doesn't block the welcome light and warmth. I want some of the horizontal branches trimmed so its more compact and doesn't drop leaves in guttering and on the footpath which many pedestrians and folks with wheels use. The council person does not take my request for more soil seriously and suggests I organise it myself. I am taking umbrage at the idea that they impose the care for it on me. After Christmas I plan to make a move to encourage co-operative not autocratic behaviour from them. If I have the energy.

    It has a sort of yellow bleeding coming from high up in the trunk and I have looked it up on google. It is a liquidambar, (sweetgum) and prone to this it seems if I have understood it right. I have mentioned this to the contractors and will have to see if it is in their contract to take an interest and how much time their money allocation allows for, to attend to such matters.

    This is an example of how government can just limit its work and responsibilities, get someone else to do a prescribed list of things, and other matters fall between the cracks. When the cracks are wide as after the Christchurch earthquake, bigger more important matters causing great distress can fall in the bigger cracks. That is why we should try and get our governments back again to do directly what they are paid to do and with direct accountability.

    I like my tree but nothing is ever simple and straightforward in this marvellous modern age.

    Just a note for myself and interested others about roots: https://www.burkesbackyard.com.au/fact-sheets/in-the-garden/gardening-tips-books-techniques-and-tools/liquidambar-roots/

    The trunk is oozing moistly. Apparently it could be slime flux or bacterial wetwood. https://www.extension.iastate.edu/news/2007/jun/070801.htm .
    Cankers – liquidambars are susceptible and can rot the tree from inside: https://www.hunker.com/12256839/liquid-amber-tree-diseases .
    and – https://counties.agrilife.org/cooke/files/2018/05/White-flux-disease-7-2017.pdf

    When it comes to feeding your liquidambar tree, any all-purpose fertilizer or manure should do the trick, but there's one thing more important than plant food that will help your tree thrive. Adding an inch or two of mulch to the top of the soil in which your liquidambar tree is planted will help maintain the proper water levels needed for your tree to grow. https://homeguides.sfgate.com/care-for-a-liquid-amber-tree-13429278.html

    • WeTheBleeple 8.1

      I had a storm damaged sweetgum drop a massive branch a couple of years ago to reveal the heartwood infected by fungi. It had to go. Now it's trying to resprout off the root system which was extensive. I trim them back. In it's place so far are many coprosmas and karo popping up naturally, and a few exotics planted by myself.

      I used the branches to make garden beds, landscape features, birdbaths, seats and benches. I used to the mulch to fill the garden beds. It was a windfall for the section.

      I will not miss the sharp objects on the ground, but having a massive tree on the property was a source of joy. We congregated under it, made swings and huts, collected leaves and watched the birds who used it as a lookout in winter.

      It took me months to get over losing that tree. I nurture the new trees growing where it was. I look out with pride at the many species now growing from the recycling of one.

      • greywarshark 8.1.1

        Definitely a windfall! I noted that the wood was good though it said it was hard to work or something. How very productive you are with your carpentry.

        • WeTheBleeple 8.1.1.1

          Carpentry? Chainsaw…

          The materials will break down over time but in the interim it builds soil, and holds things in place as new tree roots grow.

  9. Muttonbird 9

    The white supremacist who massacred dozens of worshippers at two Christchurch mosques was treated in hospital in the months leading up to the terrorist attack after accidentally shooting himself.

    Stuff understands the accidental shooting happened because the bullet was not quite chambered, the shooter was trying to dislodge it, and it discharged when the firing pin connected with the bullet.

    There was damage to the ceiling of his rental property, later requiring repairs by his landlord.

    Unfortunately this will be the part of the story which outrages most New Zealanders.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-shooting/123623166/march-15-terrorist-accidentally-shot-himself-months-before-mosque-attack

    • greywarshark 9.1

      Surely it is reasonable for NZrs to be ropeable at a system that can enable a crazed man or woman to dabble in guns, and give him medical attention for a gunshot, for free? – he is Australian – and shoot a hole in the ceiling of his dwelling. It is so lax not reporting it to the police, who then one would hope, would have followed up and checked on him and his activities.

      They certainly did with a Russian ex-military type who came into their radar in Christchurch in a number of ways; for legal infractions, breaking road rules, and he also had guns, and was I think affected by PTSD. The police came down hard on him so much that when he was dying his wife and son were not allowed to speak to him.

      At one time the Russian used an imitation pistol – the mosque shooter had a number of real guns. If the police had known about the hospital and house damage incidents they would have had warning bells after their experience of nutty male psychology with the Aramoana affair and David Gray coldly shooting them and others.

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/111622101/russian-man-found-dead-after-christchurch-police-standoff-was-intimidating-and-coldIn 2000, Dubovskiy was jailed for four years after a burglary in which the returning householders, who recognised him, disarmed him of an imitation pistol.

  10. aom 11

    How long is this BS going to continue?

    According to the E3, “If Iran is serious about preserving a space for diplomacy, it must not implement these steps. Such a move would jeopardise our shared efforts to preserve the JCPoA and risks compromising the important opportunity for a return to diplomacy with the incoming US Administration. A return to the JCPoA would also be beneficial for Iran. We will address Iran’s non-compliance within the framework of the JCPoA.” The Guardian.

    This from the mongrels who have not complied in any material sense with their side of the JCPoA. Worse still, they have in the most cowardly way, demurred in the face of the threats of US sanction which to all intents and purposes as applied to Iran, should be regarded as war crimes. Up until recently, Iran has been fully compliant and ratcheted up the measures they have every entitlement to do under the JCPoA.

  11. greywarshark 12

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/432364/debt-reduction-and-saving-crucial-over-next-year-says-cfc

    Commission for Financial Capability's Jane Wrightson told Morning Report those in precarious situations would need to show flexibility and a willing to train, while building financial resilience over the next year or so….(I wonder if they are to be given an education grant not a loan, that will pay for their childcare, and transport, and with an opportunity for payment for more than one training period as it may require a number of skills to be worked on?)

    found working families in blue and "pink-collar", or working women occupations, were among the hardest hit….
    The highest percentage of households suffering smaller incomes were those where the main person being surveyed was aged between 55 and 64.

    Wrightson said the survey found the situations of couples aged between 18-54 with children most vulnerable.
    "The category that we were most concerned with was, generally speaking, couples between the ages of 18 and 54 with children.

    This is another woman who is a good little performer in following the norm. The epitome of the university-trained receiving every word as from the God of All-Knowing and never deviating from The Knowledge. Sounds sour I know. But that is my knee jerk reaction to the advice from Commission for Financial Capability's Jane Wrightson.

    There was or is another one on about Retirement and Superannuation who was recommending that the age should go up to 67, The knee jerk reaction of the herd follower who follows the mainstream thinking that we can't afford super and so limiting the age of attainment is the best thing to do.

    The compliant educated well-dressed affluent woman without a hint of rebellious difference from the accepted norm, seems to be the epitome of the female advancement that has arisen from the effort that feminists put in to improve women's lot.

    However, poor mothers are despised, working women with low educational attainment are unworthy of having time at home with their children – away to work at entry-level jobs without the option of having a weekend to see family, friends, community activity. Single women are still paying market price for everything, while receiving an 80% calculation of men's wages; similar to a special higher price for the undeserving woman. And the poor treatment of maternity these days – almost a hate of the irresponsible female, not having babies to order, being humanly feckless which means responding to life as an average female, unlike the calculating, careful ladies who behave 'properly'. And children are not treasured and cared about by the women with power over parents, who almost have adopted the old-fashioned ideas of lords who were said not to bother with their children till they were about three and able to talk.

    • greywarshark 12.1

      Parents might have to neglect their children's health to go to work either because WINZ says so, or because they need to keep their job and keep up their income. They should be able to stay home with young children, and do a little part-time work to keep in the workforce and retain that bit of extra money. But be free to leave working when it is necessary to help their youngest.

      Norovirus is highly contagious, and just one child with the illness can spread it to many other children, staff and their families at home, Dr Harrower said.

      "While most people make a quick and full recovery, very young children can become unwell enough to need hospital care.

      "It can be difficult for whānau to take time off work when they have sick children, but it is important to remind parents and caregivers that tummy bugs are very contagious. It is highly likely your child will infect others, and outbreaks can lead to centre closures."

      https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/432371/spike-in-norovirus-outbreaks-at-auckland-early-learning-services-under-investigation

      Why can't we love and nurture our young parents, to enable them to pass on the same feelings to their children. A society of cold, callous, demanding people will find that the children under this regime will develop similarly. Isn't that what we are often seeing now. It's time for a change.

      • greywarshark 12.1.1

        https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/432397/mosque-attacks-report-families-let-down-by-agencies-in-aftermath
        …Death certificates with spelling errors, family members having to work as translators for police interviews and widows being advised to put their children in care to apply for jobs are just some of the problems highlighted in the commission's report…

        Many told the commission the direct aftermath caused more grief and trauma as they were not told where their loved ones were.
        Some resorted to watching the terrorist's video of the attack to try and figure out if their loved ones were alive or dead.

        "An acquaintance of my parents said that she had seen [my brother] in operating theatre," a relative told the commission. "Mum and dad rushed to the hospital with this news and after waiting outside Al-Noor Mosque for four hours, they then proceeded to wait at Christchurch Hospital for another six hours.
        "After this, they found out that the person my parents were waiting for, patient number 13, was not at all [my brother]. They were finally told my brother was unaccounted for."..

        Many victims raised questions about the police's response on the day.
        They told the commission the fact medical staff were not allowed inside the mosques straight away due to police cordons led to more deaths.

        Since 15 March, victims and families have struggled to get help, telling the commission they had to recount their experience of the attack over and over to different agencies…
        "Where there should have been active listening, there is a deluge of information, where there should be advocacy there are endless meetings," a victim told the commission.

        Some witnesses told the commission they were not eligible for financial support from the Accident Compensation Corporation as they had not suffered any physical injuries….
        "Witnesses to the attack have suffered severe mental trauma, which some describe as a feeling of physically debilitating pain."

        But, but this is not us. We aren't like that. We are however good at feeling short periods of grief and emotion, and then 'get on with our lives' and expect the traumatised to do so also.

        • Treetop 12.1.1.1

          Having to deal with different government agencies or the same one over and over again is draining for anyone who has a mental injury. The grief process is complicated by how loved ones died. When it comes to the coronial inquests this will be a long process due to how slow the coroners office is. With some hope the coronial inquests can be managed in such a way to reduce distress.

          The 1982 – 1992 ACC Act had cover for mental injury when no physical force occurred. This act is online. There are other articles on the subject of taking cover away as well. It is not my intention to inflame the situation. I am pointing out that ACC is not fit for purpose when it comes to exceptional circumstances which need to be covered.

          • greywarshark 12.1.1.1.1

            I think you are indicating that we have a serious problem with ACC. The more stressful the government makes life, the more it diminishes living conditions for people, the more it takes away what supports used to be provided in better times. It is a pernicious process and amoral.

            NZ Government, Queen says something about you:

            • Treetop 12.1.1.1.1.1

              Yes serious problems with ACC for a mental injury.

              I left a reply to your 2.1111 comment late last night on open mike with some of the concerns I have about ACC. I have a lot more.

              The average person has got no idea on how ACC determine what and what not to include when it comes to cover for a mental injury.

              The government is going to get a wake up call from the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care on how shit ACC are for a mental injury and the damage done from organisatonal failure.

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