Monthly Archives: January 2019

NZ baby to get life-saving treatment

A sick baby has been put under the guardianship of New Zealand’s High Court so she can receive life-saving blood transfusions.

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In August, doctors found a large cancerous tumour in the right side of the 10-month-old’s chest and she was diagnosed with stage four cancer in her bones.

She has been given a 90 per cent survival rate with treatment, but is likely to need a blood transfusion and her parents will not consent because they are Jehovah’s Witnesses.

There is a high risk she would develop life-threatening complications if she was unable to have a transfusion.

In a recent decision, the High Court granted the Auckland District Health Board’s application to place her in the guardianship of the court for nine months to allow her to receive transfusions.

The baby had already received an urgent transfusion when doctors biopsied her tumour, which is permitted by law in emergency situations.

The baby’s parents have consented for her to have chemotherapy, then surgery to remove a tumour, but were unable to consent to a blood transfusion because of their religious beliefs.

Justice Helen Winkelmann has appointed them as general agents of the court for the child for all purposes other than the administration of blood.

“Their ongoing support and care for (the child) is crucial, and making these orders, I hope, resolves the difficult position they presently find themselves in,” she said.

She appointed doctors as agents of the court for the administration of blood.

The baby and her parents have name suppression.

In July 2012, a two-year-old girl from Auckland suffering a rare kidney disease was put under High Court guardianship.

Her Jehovah’s Witness parents would not consent to blood transfusions that would accompany a life-saving kidney and liver transplant.

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Islander must wait on refuge appeal ruling

A Kiribati islander, seeking refuge in New Zealand from rising sea levels, will have to wait to find out if he has another chance at getting refugee status.

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Ioane Teitiota, who has been living in New Zealand illegally since his work visa expired at the end of 2010, is seeking leave to appeal an immigration tribunal decision denying him refugee status.

Teitiota and his wife moved from South Tarawa six years ago to New Zealand, where their three children were born.

He did not want to return home because of the combined pressures of over-population and sea-level rise.

In the High Court at Auckland on Wednesday, Teitiota’s lawyer Michael Kidd said the tribunal failed to take into account the position of Teitiota’s three children in making its decision.

Kidd said Teitiota’s children would suffer serious harm if they had to return to Kiribati, where salt water is affecting crop growing areas and climate change is resulting in overcrowding and land shortages.

“If he was to go back with his wife and children, where would he go?” Kidd said.

However, lawyer for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Rebecca Savage, told the court there had been no error of law or approach in the tribunal’s decision.

“The tribunal correctly applied the law as it currently stands,” she said.

The tribunal said in its June decision that it found the man credible.

“The tribunal finds that the limited capacity of South Tarawa to carry its population is being significantly compromised by the effects of population growth, urbanisation, and limited infrastructure development, particularly in relation to sanitation,” the tribunal said.

“The negative impacts of these factors on the carrying capacity of the land on Tarawa atoll are being exacerbated by the effects of both sudden onset environmental events (storms) and slow-onset processes (sea-level-rise).”

But the tribunal found there was no evidence that conditions on Kiribati were so bad that the man and his family would face imminent danger should they return.

Justice John Priestley reserved his decision, which he expects to make within the next two weeks.

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John Key welcomes new Aussie PM Abbott

Prime Minister John Key says he’s looking forward to working with Australia’s Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott.

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Mr Abbott, leader of the Liberal Party, claimed victory at about 10.15pm (AEST) on Saturday, 40 minutes after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd publicly conceded.

Mr Rudd has also stepped down as leader of the Labor Party.

Mr Key said he had passed his congratulations on to Mr Abbott on Saturday night and would congratulate him in person on Sunday.

“I look forward to working with Australia’s new prime minister to build on the close unique relationship that exists between New Zealand and Australia.”

They would have several opportunities to meet during the next few months, he said.

“Australia is our most important relationship. Our common interests span trade, economic, defence and security matters and we co-operate closely in our region and on the international stage.”

Mr Key thanked Mr Rudd and his predecessor Julia Gillard, who had ensured the relationship between the countries strengthened.

“I look forward to this continuing during Tony Abbott’s prime ministership.”

“When Australia changes horses, New Zealand needs to take stock,” New Zealand’s Herald on Sunday editorial said.

Questions of interest to New Zealand did not feature in the election campaign and Mr Abbott ducked a question about the plight of New Zealand migrants, while reminding people he was married to a New Zealander.

“The value of family ties cannot be overstated. But the chemistry between Prime Ministers will count for more,” the Herald on Sunday said.

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NZ party leader rejects fraud claims

The leader of New Zealand’s ACT party, John Banks, is vowing he’s innocent of electoral fraud and says he’ll prove it in court.

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“I would never knowingly sign a false election return. I wouldn’t do it and I didn’t do it,” the former Auckland mayor told reporters in Wellington on Thursday.

“I’m going to go through the process of law and prove it.”

Banks on Wednesday resigned his ministerial portfolios after a District Court judge ruled he must stand trial, accused of breaching the Local Electoral Act by filing a false return on his campaign donations after his 2010 Auckland mayoralty campaign.

Banks declared in his 2010 electoral return that donations from casino operator SkyCity and internet mogul Kim Dotcom were from anonymous sources.

But evidence in this week’s court hearing was that he received the cheques himself and knew where they came from.

Banks’ defence argued the MP signed the return without reading all of it.

Banks has a support agreement with the National government which guarantees he will support it on confidence votes.

Prime Minister John Key accepted Banks’ resignation and says he will reinstate him if he isn’t convicted.

Banks, defiant when he faced the media at parliament, said he would clear his name and stand for his Auckland seat of Epsom in next year’s election.

“I have nothing to fear, I have nothing to hide. All this will be well past us by the time of the next election.”

Banks said his legal team was considering what to do next – one option is to appeal the decision handed down by Judge Phil Gittos.

“We believe he was totally wrong, but we respect his decision,” Banks said.

“We’re not going to sit back and just take it. We don’t quite know yet how we’re going to manage this and we’re looking at many legal options.”

Banks said he would be voting for the bill that allows SkyCity to have more pokie machines in its casino in exchange for building a national convention centre.

Opposition parties say Banks should abstain from voting on the bill because of donations his party received from SkyCity.

His vote is critical, and Banks said he had no intention of abstaining.

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Pike River mine re-entry operation starts

Work has started on the Pike River mine re-entry operation and an air force helicopter is helping remove debris from the top of a ventilation shaft.

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It’s nearly three years since explosions in the New Zealand coalmine killed 29 men and their families have been trying since then to persuade the government and the mine’s owner, Solid Energy, to retrieve their bodies.

A technically feasible plan was worked out earlier this year and the government agreed to put up $NZ10 million ($A8.87 million) so it could go ahead.

The big problem has been safety, because there is still methane gas in the mine.

Re-entry work began on Sunday and the first step is sealing off the ventilation shaft in the main entry tunnel.

When that has been done nitrogen will be pumped into the tunnel to force out the methane, and mine experts will be able to walk down the 2.3km shaft to a rockfall.

Most of the bodies are believed to be in tunnels beyond the rockfall.

“Safety is paramount and the project will be carefully managed with a risk assessment undertaken at each stage,” Energy Minister Simon Bridges said on Monday.

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman says an air force NH90 helicopter, supported by air lift personnel, has removed nearly 25 tonnes of debris from the top of the ventilation shaft.

“The NH90 has twice the lifting capacity of civilian helicopters,” he said.

“It is state-of-the-art technology and they expect to transport up to 20 loads this week.”

Mr Bridges says at this point the operation doesn’t include entering the main mine workings beyond the rockfall.

“The government can’t speculate on re-entering the main mine until the tunnel re-entry has been successfully achieved.”

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Sugar bowl murderer jailed for 18 years

A 39-year-old New Zealand man has been jailed for at least 18 years for the “execution-style” murder of his aunt and uncle, after they complained about him using a teaspoon in the sugar after first using it to stir coffee.

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Edwin Maheno, was sentenced in the High Court at Whangarei on Tuesday after admitting the murder of Ivan, 44, and Carmen Maheno, 38.

His mandatory life imprisonment term attracted a non-parole period of 18 years.

On May 19, Maheno shot the couple multiple times with a .22 calibre rifle after an argument about a coffee teaspoon being used in the sugar.

In sentencing, Justice Geoffrey Venning described the killings as a callous execution-style killing where Maheno acted with a high level of cruelty and callousness.

Maheno lived in the house with his uncle and aunt and the court heard that on the morning of the killings Maheno went into a rage after they complained about him using a teaspoon in the sugar after using it to stir coffee.

The argument got heated with Maheno first challenging his uncle to a fight. Both Maheno and the couple returned to their rooms where Maheno loaded ammunition into his .22 calibre rifle.

Maheno then walked into his uncle and aunt’s room and shot his uncle in the face as he pleaded for his life.

His aunt then struggled with Maheno as he was reloading. He struck her with a closed fist and she ran from the house.

Maheno followed her, shooting her in the back of the head and in the buttocks before going back into the house and, on finding his uncle alive, shooting him again in the head.

Ivan Maheno died at the scene while Carmen Maheno died later in hospital.

The court heard that a dispute over inheritance and a personality clash were largely behind the shooting.

Tension had been building up in the household since Ivan Maheno had been bequeathed the property from Edwin Maheno’s grandmother in 2009.

Justice Venning noted that Maheno had considered killing himself before deciding that killing his victims would be more of a service to the family as the property would go back into the family.

“This murder was committed with a high level of cruelty and callousness,” he said.

“It’s not going too far as describing your actions as similar to execution style killings.”

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Shareholders ditch NZ mine disaster payout

Corporate greed drove New Zealand Oil and Gas shareholders to vote against paying $NZ3.

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4 million ($A2.99 million) reparation to the families of the Pike River mine disaster victims, a Labour MP says.

“New Zealanders will be appalled by the latest insult dished out to 29 grieving families,” said West Coast Tasman MP Damien O’Connor on Thursday.

“There has been a complete absence of corporate accountability in this sorry disaster – this is another example of a growing culture of corporate greed across New Zealand.”

NZ Oil and Gas was the major shareholder in Pike River Coal, the company that owned the mine when explosions killed 29 men in November 2010.

In July, Judge Jane Farish ordered Pike River Coal to compensate the families of the victims, and two survivors, $NZ110,000 ($A96,840) each.

She also fined the company, which is in receivership, $NZ760,000. ($A669,072)

The receivers said it didn’t have the money to pay the fine.

On Tuesday NZ Oil and Gas held its annual meeting and shareholders declined a motion that it should investigate and report on whether it should pay the reparations ordered by the judge.

Its shareholders overwhelmingly rejected the motion with almost 135 million votes against it and just 260,000 supporting it.

“I’m shocked but not surprised that 99 per cent of the shareholders voted not to investigate paying the families of the victims,” O’Connor said.

“Children have lost fathers, wives have lost husbands, families have lost loved ones and yet the corporate owner and manager of the mine is refusing to acknowledge that loss.”

The company has already contributed $NZ25 million ($A22.01 million) to the cost of the receivership and has given $NZ1 million ($A880,360) to two trusts set up for the victims’ families.

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Silk Road breeds ambitious clones

A quiet, 29 year-old programmer from San Francisco, Ross Ulbricht, is alleged to be Silk Road’s infamous Dread Pirate Roberts.

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But in the vaccum left by the Silk Road site, Andy Park looked at the new sites scrambling to fill its place.

 

For a man whose sole objective was to protect anonimity, it’s ironic that the alleged Silk Road mastermind was outed for trying to hire hit men to kill those who threatened to expose him.

Now that Silk Road has closed for business, its vendors and buyers are potentially exposed or at the very least compromised.

So, where will the illegal transactions said to be worth up to one billion dollars go?

Illegal sites are vying for Silk Road’s shady business.

 

However, it’s not just illegal drugs that popularised dark web-sites, promising untraceable and anonymous services.

There’s data services, like software and copyright piracy, and hacking and encryption tools and services.There’s criminal offerings, like fraudulent credit card credit information, money laundering, logistics and sex services like prostitution.There’s diamonds, gold, guns and ammo.

But of course illegal drugs, precoursers and drug making equipment formed the mainstay of the now defunct Silk Road site.

 

A site that euthenasia advocate Dr Phillip Nitschke says was even used by elderly Australian’s to source reliable quantities of the “end-of-life” drug, Nembutal.

 

So, it’s much more than just drugs that dark websites offer, all under the so-called security of TOR encryption software.

 

But as any freemarket economist will tell you, demand without supply means that market forces are like a Hydra cut of it’s head and several others will grow in it’s place.

 

The Sheep Market Place is one such website enjoying a boost in trade since Silk Road’s demise. The number of products available trippled at the end of last week.

The site’s not been around for long, so some are wary that it could be a sting set up by federal agents or a scam.

It also lacks the one feature that Silk Road had, an escrow function, sort of like paypal using digital currency such as bitcoins.

 

But Black Market Reloaded does offer that, and in addition, lists over 2000 drug-related products.

One site administrator said they received more than 3000 new users since Silk Road’s closure.

Watch: The full report above.

The Feed airs weeknights at 19:30 on SBS 2. You can also follow us on Twitter at @TheFeedSBS2, or ‘LIKE’ us on Facebook to stay in the loop.

 

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Pilot’s cannabis use may have led to NZ balloon crash

New Zealand’s transport accident watchdog investigating a fatal hot air balloon crash is demanding a massive shake-up of drug and alcohol regulation for the industry to prevent future deaths.

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Eleven people died in January last year when their balloon crashed in Carterton in the North Island’s Wairarapa region after hitting power lines and catching fire – the second-worst such disaster worldwide at the time.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission on Thursday said the crash was caused by errors of judgment by pilot Lance Hopping, who was found to have cannabis in his system.

The balloon plummeted to the ground in flames after hitting power lines, killing all aboard – Stephen Hopkirk and Belinda Harter, Howard and Diana Cox, Desmond and Ann Dean, Johannes Jordann and Alexis Still, cousins Valerie Bennett and Denise Dellabarca, and Hopping.

The commission wants the government to change rules for the aviation, rail and maritime – including recreational boating – sectors to stop people operating aircraft, trains and boats while impaired.

It was highly likely Hopping had smoked cannabis on the morning of the flight, before making deadly errors of judgment while flying, the commission said.

He let the balloon get below the level of power lines in a paddock he was unlikely to land in and then tried to climb higher than the power lines.

Best practice for pilots is to initiate a rapid descent to ensure any contact with power lines was with the envelope (the actual balloon) rather than its basket.

He also failed to make an emergency deflation when a collision was inevitable.

The commission said the level of cannabis in Hopping’s system likely resulted from long-term and recent use, and he could have been impaired at the time of the crash.

“Although it cannot be concluded definitely that the cause of the accident was the pilot smoking cannabis, the possibility that it did contribute to the accident could not be excluded,” the report says.

Chief Commissioner John Marshall QC told media it was “totally unacceptable” for someone in such a role to be working while impaired, whether the substance was legal or not.

The report called for new legislation or rules to:

* require operators to introduce drug testing and deterrence regimes

* prevent people operating craft while under the influence

* set maximum alcohol limits.

In its response to the report, the Ministry of Transport said it had commissioned research on drug testing before moving to change the rules.

Marshall was disappointed with that response.

“I would observe that alcohol and drug-testing – including random testing – is accepted practice in road transport, and in other modes in other jurisdictions,” he said.

“Substance impairment has again been highlighted as an issue. We have made yet another recommendation. It is time for public debate and action.”

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High risk areas in NZ city identified

New Zealand scientists have now identified the most dangerous parts of Christchurch’s Port Hills where further landslips caused by earthquakes or heavy rainfall could see people killed.

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GNS Science says it has identified 46 preliminary areas in the hills – where thousands of houses have been built and where there has been mass movement following the 2010 and 2011 quakes – and classed them in order of danger.

There are 15 areas, where 134 houses are under threat, where more research is “a top priority as further mass movement could see lives lost”.

Homes and/or critical infrastructure may be severely damaged, the report said.

The remaining 31 areas – affecting about 570 houses – need more study but are not a priority as further mass movement is unlikely to cause loss of life.

Christchurch City Council has written to the homeowners to tell them whether their property is located either completely, or partly, within the areas.

The council’s Mike Theelen says the report will help the council when planning, and could mean stricter control of earthworks, surface and subsurface water control, vegetation clearance and retaining walls in the Port Hills.

The council understood people would be frustrated by the ongoing uncertainty, but decisions involving people’s lives and homes needed to be well informed and based on good quality science, he said.

“The Port Hills is a dynamic landscape, and this investigation process following the earthquakes has, and continues to be, complex and time consuming.”

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says public meetings are planned for people most affected, and council staff will be available to meet with people one on one to discuss what the report means for them.

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