Sunday, May 29, 2005

10 Point Plan to Boost Student Support

United Future's 10 Point Plan to Boost Student Support

1. Access to Allowances

Ensure that students are given equal treatment to young people on the dole by progressively lowering the age at which they are means tested for a student allowance based on their own income, and not their parents, from 25 to 20.
Assess the eligibility of married students under 25 for student allowances based on their own income, not their parents'.
Assess the eligibility for student allowances of students under 25 who have supported themselves for two years based on their own income, not their parents'.

2. Parental Income

Calculate parental income for student allowances by deducting $3000 for every other child in the family that is in study.

3. Accommodation Support

Ensure that students are fairly treated by increasing the accommodation supplement to match that received by young people on the dole.

4. Interest Payments

Recognise the impact of student loan debt on raising a family by freezing interest and writing off a portion of the debt of parents for two years after the birth of a child.
Ensure that the student loan interest rate is set at a level which is fair and meets the costs of running the scheme, and retain the present policy of no interest while studying.

5. Loan Write-Offs & Debt Reduction

Keep graduates in New Zealand and minimise their loan debt by establishing scholarships and loan write-off schemes for those who are qualified in fields facing shortages (e.g. doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers), in return for a continuous period of work in New Zealand.
Allow students to reduce their debt if they work for more than 100 hours as a volunteer for a registered charity (up to a maximum of $500 per annum).

6. Access to Emergency Unemployment Benefit

Restore access to the Emergency Unemployment Benefit for students unable to find work over summer period.

7. Scholarships

Establish a system of scholarships between tertiary providers and the private sector.

8. Voluntary Savings Scheme

Introduce a voluntary long-term savings programme that would allow parents to save for their children's future tertiary education from birth, drawing on contributions from relatives, the child him/herself, and appropriate incentives from the government.

9. Restrictions on Borrowing
Restrict students from borrowing more in student loans for their fees if they have continually failed to pass their courses.

10. Long-term Research

Commission research into the long-term impact of student loan debt on the life choices of graduates

United Future Tax Policy

United Future leader Peter Dunne told his party’s annual conference in Auckland today that the average family household would be $163 a week better off under United Future’s income policies announced today.
Mr Dunne said the proposed changes would bring immediate tax relief to all New Zealanders through:
1. Lifting tax brackets from 1 April 2006 - not 2008 as in the recent Budget.
2. Making the first $3,000 of income tax free - which is great news
for students and all part-time workers
3. Income splitting for all parents raising dependent children
4. Taking GST off rates
Mr Dunne gave some specific examples of how these measures would affect families on different incomes.
“A family earning the average wage of just under $43,000 - a tax cut of $35 a week
A family with an income of $55,000 - the typical middle income family - a tax cut of $66 a week
A family with an income of $65,000 - a tax cut of just under $100 a week
According to Budget figures, current average household gross income from all sources is just over $82,000 - a family with that income will be $163 a week better off under our policies .”
Mr Dunne said “Our commitment to family is practical and realistic - not emotive. The family is society’s cornerstone; the basic nurturing and developmental unit. Our children deserve the security of a loving family.
“We have put family on the political agenda - but the New Zealand family is still under stress.
“From student loan repayments to retirement saving - it’s still hard going for many. No wonder 62% say they pay too much tax.”
Mr Dunne said United Future’s strategy is to deal with each vulnerable point.
“Our student support policy has already been announced and includes:
i. Progressive phase out of parental income test
ii. Bonded schemes for graduates
iii. Voluntary savings schemes for parents
“We’ll soon be releasing policy for older New Zealanders based on restoring the purchasing power of superannuation and recognising the health needs of over 65s through comprehensive biennial free health checks and tax relief on private health insurance premiums for over 65s.
“I was Minister of Revenue the last time taxes were cut by the National/United Government - only to have National back slide a year later
“Labour’s first act in government was to put taxes up - neither can be trusted.
“Labour only moved on tax thresholds this year because Gordon Copeland pushed them.
“That leaves a clear message - put United Future anywhere near government and taxes come down - while others talk, we act.
“United Future is the party of the dynamic centre. Neither left nor right.
“And we have delivered.
“This year’s Budget alone - nearly $1 billion in United Future tax relief and new spending initiatives.
“All the key points of our confidence and supply agreement have been achieved.
“All the key points of our last election policy have been achieved.
“And as Michael Cullen admits, we have kept our own identity, achieved our key policies, voted against the government more often than the Greens, and still ensured the political stability that has delivered New Zealand the most sustained prosperity of recent times.
“Not for us the overriding obsession with trivia - with tennis balls - with stray Iraqis and every passing scandal - the oppressive prism of political correctness and having no policy at all.
“Our challenges are great - our opportunities are immense
“We stand on the brink of government - we are the preferred partner for both Labour and National and we are ready.
“This is my vision:
New Zealand to be the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family. The place we love to call home.
A country and people that is proud and unique.
A country whose diversity makes us the world’s first truly multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society
A country where old values are enshrined, and new ideas embraced
A country where the centre guides the way ahead
A country with United Future in the centre of things!”

Monday, May 16, 2005

Revenge of the Sith

Think you know Star Wars?
Here's your chance to show the world. Answers below.

1. What was director George Lucas' passion in life before he turned to filmmaking?
2. How many Oscars did the original Star Wars win?
3. Star Wars Episode Two:Attack of the Clones was shot on the same stages aswhat other Ewan McGregor film?
4. Which Cheers star appeared in The Empire Strikes Back?
5. How old is Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode One:ThePhantom Menace?
6. What film did George Lucas make immediately before the firstStar Wars movie?
7. What happened to Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) after the filming of Star Wars?
8. What is Princess Leia's full name?
9. Where did Luke Skywalker burn the armor of Darth Vader?
10. Several actors were considered for the role of Han Solo, laterplayed by Harrison Ford? Name one of them.
11. How did Han Solo come into possession of the Millennium Falcon?
12. What clothes did Chewbacca wear?
13. Which famous scientist was the inspirationfor creature designer Stuart Freeborn when it came tocreating Yoda's eyes?
14. What Raymond Chandler novel did the writer of Empire Strikes Back co-script?
15. What Colorado kid played a big role in The Phantom Menace?





Answers
SCORING: 15: The Force is strong in you, Jedi 10-14: You are a Jedi candidate 5-9: Jar Jar Binks knows more than you 0-4: You better hope someone has a force field to protect you

1. Race car driving • 2. 7 (Art direction, costume design, film editing, original score, sound, visual effects, special achievement award for the creation of alien and robot voices • 3. Moulin Rouge was shot there. • 4. Cliffie! John Ratzenberger was a rebel base commander. • 5.9 • 6. American Grafitti (1973) • 7. He was involved in a car accident and had to undergo extensive reconstructive facial surgery for The Empire Strikes Back. • 8. Princess Leia Organa • 9. The forest moon of Endor • 10. Christopher Walken and Nick Nolte were both considered. • 11. Solo won the Millennium Falcon from a young gambler named Lando Calrissian in a sabacc game. • 12. Chewie is covered with fur,so no clothes are needed.But he did sport a bandoleer that carried ammunition and a tool pouch for repairs on the Millennium Falcon. • 13. Albert Einstein • 14. The Long Goodbye • 15. Jake Lloyd played Anakin Skywalker in Phantom Menace. He hailed from Fort Collins.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Bishop Hans Grapje

Now that we have a new Pope, it should be revealed that a particularly qualified and distinguished man was not selected, though insiders at the Vatican say he was a close second. Here's his story...

Bishop Hans Grapje was raised in a Catholic school in the Hague. As a young man, he aspired to become a priest, but was drafted into the army during WWII. He spent two years flying aboard B17s as a co-pilot until, in 1943, his aircraft was shot down and he lost his left arm.

While a POW, Hans spent the remainder of the war as a chaplain, giving spiritual advice and last rights to dying soldiers, allied and enemy. He was renowned for his ecumenical tenderness and compassion. After the war, Grapje became a priest and served as a missionary throughout Africa. In spite of his handicap, he was noted for piloting his own bush plane into the deepest, most primitive villages to spread the church's message and charity to the impoverished.

In 1997, then Archbishop Grapje was serving at an outpost in Zimbabwe when an explosion in one of the country's vast silver mines caused a catastrophic cave-in. The archbishop, in spite of his age and infirmity, went down into several of the shafts to administer last rights to those who would never escape. He was in one of these shafts when it partially caved in, trapping him and several rescuers. Although he was rescued three days later, he suffered several painful injuries, including one that cost him his right eye. Additionally, the silver content in the shaft's air supply had poisoned him, causing his skin to take an indigo hue - a condition known as purpura - that persists to this day.

Although the Cardinal has devoted, and indeed risked, his life in the service of God for nearly 70 years, as a scholar, a mentor, and the epitome of a holy man, church politics preclude his ascension to the Papacy.

Church leaders have made it clear they don't want a one-eyed, one armed, flying, purple, Papal leader.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Prison V's Work

Just in case you ever get these two environments mixed up, this should makethings a little bit clearer.

IN PRISON..........you spend the majority of your time in an 10X10 cell.
AT WORK............you spend the majority of your time in an 8X8 cubicle.

IN PRISON.........you get three meals a day.
AT WORK...........you get a break for one meal and you have to pay for it.

IN PRISON..........you get time off for good behavior.
AT WORK............you get more work for good behavior.

IN PRISON..........the guard locks and unlocks all the doors for you.
AT WORK............you must often carry a security card and open all the doors for yourself.

IN PRISON..........you can watch TV and play games.
AT WORK...........you could get fired for watching TV and playing games.

IN PRISON.........you get your own toilet.
AT WORK..........you have to share the toilet with some people who pee on the seat.

IN PRISON..........they allow your family and friends to visit.
AT WORK............you aren't even supposed to speak to your family.

IN PRISON.........all expenses are paid by the taxpayers with no work required.
AT WORK............you get to pay all your expenses to go to work, and they deduct taxes from your salary to pay for prisoners.

IN PRISON..........you spend most of your life inside bars wanting to get out.
AT WORK ...........you spend most of your time wanting to get out and go inside bars.

IN PRISON .........you must deal with sadistic wardens.
AT WORK...........they are called managers.

The Worlds Biggest Hamburger

I like the occasional hamburger, but this one takes the "cake"......

CLEARFIELD, Pa. - The burger war is growing. Literally. Denny's Beer Barrel Pub, which lost its crown as the home of the world's biggest burger earlier this year, is now offering a new burger that weighs a whopping 15 pounds.

Dubbed the Beer Barrel Belly Buster, the burger comes with 10.5 pounds of ground beef, 25 slices of cheese, a head of lettuce, three tomatoes, two onions, a cup-and-a-half each of mayonnaise, relish, ketchup, mustard and banana peppers — and a bun.

It costs $30.

"It can feed a family of 10," said Denny Liegey Sr., the restaurant's owner.

Denny's Beer Barrel Pub had offered a 6-pound burger — with 5 pounds of toppings.

In February, a 100-pound female college student became the first to eat the burger within the three-hour time limit. Kate Stelnick, of Princeton, N.J., was awarded a special certificate, a T-shirt and other prizes and Leigey picked up the $23.95 tab for the burger.

One month later, the Clinton Station Diner in Clinton, N.J., introduced a 12.5-pound burger dubbed Zeus.
So Liegey responded, and the Belly Buster was born.

Over the weekend, four men took the challenge, but couldn't get through the entire burger. They opted for doggie bags, instead.

"It's a little too much for me to handle," said Steve Hepburn, of Clearfield. "It's like trying to eat half a cow."

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