All you need to know this morning curated by 95bFM and VICE NZ.
Wellington Landlords Drive Rents Higher
Landlords in Wellington are explicitly operating tender processes on rentals in a bid to drive up prices. While rent prices increase every year, this year has seen a particular increase, in part due to the increased student allowance introduced this year. Some landlords are including sections on flat applications that explicitly ask how much a tenant would be willing to pay above and beyond the stated price of a given listing. Steve Watson, the acting general manager of housing and tenancy services for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, says there is nothing in the Residential Tenancy Act that prevents such a question being asked.
Government Wants To Reduce Kiwi Waste
The government vows to reduce the waste Kiwis generate after new statistics show New Zealand is one of the highest in the developed world. New Zealanders generate 734kg of waste annually, increasing by 20 percent over the past three years. Associate Environment Minister, Eugenie Sage, is calling for a review of the Waste Minimisation Act. Sage says "We need to change our throw-away culture and we need to do more re-use and recovery and we need to think about what we're buying in terms of reducing what we're actually using." Zero-waste New Zealand director, Jo Knight, says the act clearly doesn't work and a review is overdue.
Debt Collection Firm Has To Return $1.4m
Debt collection firm Receivables Management has been found in breach of the Fair Trading Act and will have to refund $1.4 million to customers. The company claimed that it had the right to charge interest, costs and fees against loan balances after the recovery of debt. The competition and consumer general manager, Antonia Horrocks, says this was a breach of the Fair Trading Act, as lenders cannot repossess goods and continue to charge interest and fees. Borrowers who believe they are owed a refund should contact the companies directly.
Fishing Industry Avoids Scrutiny
The fishing industry wants any video footage gathered from their commercial fishing to be exempt from the Official informations Act. The government is considering installing cameras to monitor illegal fish dumping and by-catch. A letter to the Ministry of Primary Industries from five fishing industry heads is requesting the prevention the public release of this footage. It warns the footage could be used to paint the industry in a bad light. The letter was written in July of last year but recently obtained by Forest and Bird under the Official Information Act. Forest and Bird chief executive, Kevin Hague, says concerns about privacy and commercial sensitivity are a smoke screen for reasons the industry wants to keep the footage secret.
Bannon Gets Served (With a Subpoena)
President Trump's former chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, has been served with a subpoena by Robert Mueller, former director of the FBI. This comes off the back of Mueller's ongoing investigation as special prosecutor into possible links between Donald Trump's administration and Russian officials. However, legal experts have claimed that it is unlikely Robert Mueller actually intends to take Bannon to court. They believe it is more likely that the subpoena will be used as a means of negotiating one-on-one talks behind closed doors.
Japanese Broadcaster Sends a False Alarm
The Japanese public broadcaster issued a false alarm about a potential North Korean missile threat. The alert, published on the NHK website last night, said that North Korea appeared to have launched a missile, and urged people to take shelter inside buildings or underground. The broadcaster corrected the error five minutes later, saying that equipment to send a news flash had been incorrectly operated. The mistake comes at a tense time in the region, and a similar mistake during a civil defence test occurred in Hawaii last Saturday.
Blood Shortage in Uganda
A six-day national blood collection drive has been launched by the Ugandan government. This follows a statement released by the Ugandan Medical Association, which claimed that blood shortage levels were "almost at crisis level". The Ugandan Medical Association's secretary-general, Mukuzi Muhereza, has stated that the lack of blood units available for transfusions is quickly becoming a national problem, with some hospitals being forced to defer operations until a later date. Uganda requires around 340,000 units of blood annually, but received only around 200,000 units this year.
Kosovan Politician Assassinated
Oliver Ivanovic, leader of the Citizens Initiative Party in Kosovo, was shot and killed outside of his political headquarters early yesterday morning. The death has put an end to political negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo, after Serbian officials walked out of EU-mediated talks. Kosovo broke away from Serbia in 2008, when the Assembly of Kosovo formally adopted a declaration of independence. Since then, 112 UN states have officially declared Kosovo an independent country, despite Serbia's repeated refusal to acknowledge it as such. The talks, since ended, were an attempt to normalise relations between the two countries.
Women Testify Against Serial Gymnastics Abuser
Ex-Team USA gymnastics sports doctor, Larry Nassar, is being sentenced for sexual abuse cases this week. Nearly 100 women are to testify against Nassar as his sentencing unfolds. Nassar pleaded guilty last November to molesting females at his home, a gymnastics club and in his Michigan State University office. Prosecutors expect at least 40 years in prison and Judge Rosemarie Aquilina is expected to decide his sentence by Friday. Nassar has already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography crimes.
Reporting by Reilly Hodson, Dan Meech, Tess Barnett.