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News of Zealand

News of Zealand: Fixing Auckland's Transport Woes

Plus the high price of a low-carbon economy, and Vecto's major data breach.
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Everything you need to know about the world today, curated by 95bFM and VICE NZ .


New Transport Plan “Not Enough”
The government's new transport plan is being criticised for not being enough. The plan, announced yesterday, is expected to cost $28 billion dollars. But some South Aucklanders say it is still inadequate: the heavy traffic on motorways and the growing population means road improvements are not enough and commuters will need to take the train. Mayor Phil Goff says he hopes to have an express train from south Auckland into the city.
Meanwhile, yesterday's announcement has left Northland roading advocates disappointed. After the government canned plans to rebuild State Highway 1 last week, Northland regional transport committee chair, John Bain, says it's devastating to hear the Auckland's high budget project. Bain says State Highway 1 to Northland is crucial to the economy but it is dated and unsafe. He says funding has been secured for Auckland at the expense of other regions.

High Price for a Low-Carbon Economy
For New Zealand to shift to a low-carbon economy, the Productivity Commission says there will be a substantial jump in fuel and energy prices. New Zealand produces only 0.2 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions but is among the highest per capita due to farming. In achieving the goal of net zero emissions by 2050, it's estimated emission prices could increase to $250 a tonne from the current $21 a tonne. Murray Sherwin, spokesperson of the Productivity Commission says with stable climate policy established now, New Zealand will be prepared for the risks of transitioning to a low-carbon economy.


Vector Provides More Than Just Power
Thousands of customers unknowingly had their data shared by power company Vector's outage app. The app is used for reporting and receiving updates on power outages. Nikhil Ravishankar, chief digital officer at Vector, says names, phone numbers, and email addresses were accessible due to a breach. No banking or financial information was stored in the app. Vector says they are making efforts to see which of the 35,000 customers were affected, and will not ask for identifying information or include links in communication.

Water-Bottlers Opposed
Today, people will be rallying in Christchurch against water-bottling plants in the area. Water-bottling businesses Rapaki Natural Resources and Cloud Ocean Water have permits for water-bottling in the Belfast area. In total, up to 24 million litres of water could be taken daily. Environment Canterbury will be presented with more than 115,000 signatures today, asking to revoke these permits. Petition organiser Genevieve Robinson says it's not about charging for water—it's about the environmental impact of taking it.

Architects at Middlemore Defend Their Work
Architects who worked on the leaky buildings at Middlemore hospital are defending their work. Chow Hill architects designed the KidzFirst children's hospital, Manukau SuperClinic, and the McIndoe Building. Each of the buildings has high moisture levels, with some places reaching 98 percent, when they should be around just 18 percent. Toxic mould and brown rot has also been found. A director at Chow Hill and New Zealand Health Design Council, Darryl Carrey, says the buildings were built to the highest standard and not designed for a short life. Chow Hill has also worked on Waikato and Thames hospitals, Christchurch Women's Hospital and the Christchurch Acute Services Building.



Bill Cosby Guilty of 1/50 Allegations
Bill Cosby has been found guilty of three charges of sexual assault. Cosby faces up to ten years in prison for each account against Andrea Constand in 2004. The trial in 2017 was declared a mistrial after the jury failed to reach an unanimous decision. Of the 50 or so women who have come forward with allegations against Cosby, only Constand's was recent enough to be prosecuted.

Peace for Korea?
The two Korean presidents are about to meet along the border between the two countries. South President Moon Jae-in will welcome his counterpart Kim Jong-un in the southern part of the demilitarised zone for talks with officials from both countries. The summit is expected to focus on the denuclearisation of the peninsula, as the North recently indicated suspension of nuclear and ballistic missiles test.

Confirmed US Senate Secretary of State
The United States Senate confirmed former CIA director Mike Pompeo as the new secretary of state. President Trump appointed Pompeo as the country's top diplomat after sacking his predecessor Rex Tillerson. Mike Pompeo built a close relationship with the president during his year as CIA director.

Trump Won’t Move on Iran Deal: Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron says he probably failed to persuade President Trump to keep the nuclear deal with Iran. During his three days state visit in Washington, the French President tried to convince Donald Trump to keep the existing deal, but he believes Trump won't move for "domestic reasons". Trump has always criticised the deal as "disastrous”, and wants tougher control on Iran nuclear facilities. In a major speech at the US Congress two days ago, Macron supported the deal again. “This is true that this agreement may not address all concerns,” he said, “But we should not abandon it without having something substantial, more substantial, instead.”

India-China Summit
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to visit Chinese President Xi Jinping today in central China. This two-day summit, claimed by India, aims to reset the relationship between the two most populous nations in the world. Prime Minister Modi wants to limit China’s expanding influence in the region as he prepares for next year's Indian election.

Transformers Becoming a Reality
Japanese engineers have created a sports car that can transform into a humanoid robot. CEO of Brave Robotics and longtime fan of anime, Kenji Ishida, says he grew up believing that robots had to be capable of such things. The robot, called J-deite RIDE, is 3.7 metres tall and can carry two passengers while it transforms, and is capable of walking 100 metres an hour or driving like an ordinary car.

Additional reporting by Tess Barnett, Ulysse Bellier, and Angus Grant