News of Zealand: Euthanasia Bill Makes it Through First Reading

Plus new research into mental health programmes for Māori and Pacific youth, DNA checks in China and—is that you, ET?
ACT MP David Seymour. Image via Wikimedia Commons

Everything you need to know today curated by 95bFM and VICE NZ.


Euthanasia Bill Passes First Reading
The End of Life Choice Bill has passed its first reading in Parliament. Proposed by Act MP David Seymour, the bill will enable qualified patients to end their own lives via euthanasia. The vote was 76 to 44. The conscience vote held in parliament last night did not have to be party aligned.

Indigenous Knowledge for Youth Mental Health
Culturally focused mental health programmes for Māori and Pasifika youth will be the focus of new research. Dr Kahu McClintock, of Te Rau Matatini has been awarded $800,000 funding from the Health Research Council of New Zealand and the Ministry of Health. Mental health issues, she says, have increased dramatically for the group in the last 10 years. This suggests mainstream health services have not been effective. Researchers will partner with three community programmes currently active in Tauranga, Hamilton and Wellington. Dr McClintock says evidence in favour of the programmes will provide an opportunity for indigenous knowledge to improve health outcomes for everyone.


Native Kanuka to Heal Eroded Land
Wild Kanuka trees are set to be planted to help heal erosion prone land. Hikurangi Enterprises will receive funding from the ministry for Primary Industries to plant the native tree and extract the oil. Managing Director Panapa Ehau says planting natives is better for the land than Pine and can also be done in economic ways.


Muslim Leaders Want East Jerusalem as the Capital of Palestine
The leaders of 57 Muslim nations are urging the world to recognise East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. The Organisation of Islamic Co-operation issued a statement declaring President Trump's decision to recognise the city as Israel's capital "null and void". The Muslim leaders have accused the US of deliberately undermining peace efforts. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said it would be unacceptable for the US to be the mediator, as it is biased in favour of Israel. The communique stated Washington will be fully liable for all the consequences of not retracting from this illegal decision.

Torture Still Continues at Guantanamo Bay
An inmate at the US detention facility, Guantanamo Bay is still being tortured. Guantanamo Bay was first set up in 2001 after 9/11, where inmates are detained indefinitely without trial. In 2009, former US president Barack Obama ended the 'enhanced interrogation techniques' via executive order. One of the inmates. Ammar al-Baluchi was named 153 times in the US Senate's 2014 torture report. However, al-Baluchi is still an inmate at Guantanamo Bay and continues to suffer torture and ill-treatment.


Jacob Zuma Keeps on Losing
South African President Jacob Zuma lost two cases in one day, both linked to corruption allegations. Pretoria's High Court ordered President Zuma to set up a judicial inquiry calling him seriously reckless. In the second case, a judge ruled Zuma abused the judicial process by trying to block a report on corruption. Next week, Zuma will quit as the leader of African National Congress, but will remain as President until elections in 2019.

DNA Checks in China
Chinese authorities are collecting DNA samples from residents in Xinjiang. The data is to be used for surveillance of persons because of ethnicity, religion, opinion or other protected exercise of rights. Xinjiang is home to 11 million Uighurs, a Muslim Turkic minority. Although the checks are voluntary, one Uighur said the local body has demanded they participate in the physicals. Sophie Richardson, the China Director at Human Rights Watch stated this is a gross violation of international human rights. Richardson stated the physical exams should be renamed 'Privacy Violations for all'.

Democrat Wins Senate Seat in Deep Red Alabama
Democrat Doug Jones beat Republican Roy Moore overnight for the Alabama state seat in the US Senate. Moore, who was endorsed by President Trump during his campaign, faced allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls. The Democratic victory is seen as step forward for many Trump adversaries. However, it is questioned whether the outcome results from slackening Trump support or a Republican candidate too terrible to vote for. It is the first time in 25 years a Republican has not held the senate seat for Alabama. Democrats now hold 49 seats to the Republicans’ 51.

Is That You, ET?
A team of scientists are using high tech scanners to uncover whether or not a long cigar shaped object flying through space is, in fact, an alien craft. The Breakthrough Listen team of scientists in Virginia are using the world's largest directable radio telescope to track the object. The 80m wide object, named Oumuamua will be followed for 10 hours in order to determine the output of electromagnetic signals. It is reportedly travelling "cleanly" at almost 320,000 km/hr and has no space dust trailing it, raising astronomers' suspicions that it is an extraterrestrial vehicle.

Yemen Under Attack
35 people have been killed in Saudi led airstrikes in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa.The strikes targeted a military police facility holding hundreds of prisoners. A 19-nation military coalition has been fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen since 2015. The coalition is largely being supported by the US and the UK but is led by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. Despite this, the US has called on Saudi Arabia to end its blockade of Yemeni ports, disrupting aid to civilians.

Reporting by Darashpreet Johal, Jenn Tamati and Leah Garcia-Purves.