Everything you need to know about the world today, curated by 95bFM and VICE NZ.
Birth Certificate Names Both Parents as ‘Mother’
New Zealand’s first birth certificate to name two women as ‘mother’ has been issued. Parents Jess and Stacy were left disappointed as the Department of Internal Affairs denied their initial request to both be named the mother of their daughter, who was conceived via assisted reproductive technologies. After lodging a complaint with the Human Rights Commission, the Department of Internal Affairs settled on naming both women as 'mothers', a first for New Zealand. By the end of 2018, it is expected all parents registering a child conceived by assisted reproductive technologies will have the choice of being selected as ‘father’, ‘mother’, or ‘parent’.
Dangers of Asthma are Underestimated in Northand
Asthma in Northland region repeatedly goes untreated and is under-diagnosed. Respiratory specialist, Dr. Christine Bradley says that the problems are so prevalent that wheezing and coughing are seen as normal. More than 300 people are hospitalised and 20 people die from asthma attacks in Northland every year. Bradley advises for people to simply use their inhalers in order to reduce the high number of asthma related deaths.
Midwives Protest at Parliament
Yesterday, hundreds of midwives marched to the steps of the Beehive demanding better pay and working conditions. Joined by members of the community and young mothers with their babies, they handed over a petition with more than 12,000 signatures to Health Minister David Clark. College of Midwives spokesperson Andrea Sarty says some rural midwives were earning just $7.23 an hour and city midwives earning just $12.83 an hour. In two weeks' time the the profession could potentially receive more funding from the Government after the budget is passed.
Poor Prison Conditions Could Result in Riots, Investigation Warns
An investigation into the Waikeria Prison has left human rights groups fearing for a riot by inmates. Independent inspectors who examined the prison last year report low standard-of-living conditions, including damp and dark cells. People Against Prisons Aotearoa spokesperson Emily Rakete says it is the final nail in the coffin and shows the prison is not fit to live in. Rakete went on to say "People who were in there 10 years ago were complaining about how bad it is, conditions in Waikeria Prison mirror the conditions in Springhill Prison just before the riots". Correction minister Kelvin Davis agrees with the assessment by the inspectors and says the government is considering its options.
Cosby and Polanski Expelled From Oscars Academy
The US Academy that runs the Oscars has expelled Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski. The US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made the announcement this morning, stating that their Board ‘encourage ethical standards’. The TV star Bill Cosby was convicted of sexual assault weeks ago, and film director Roman Polanski admitted to statutory rape of a 13-year-old in 1977. The Academy also removed film producer Harvey Weinstein from its members last year after reports on alleged sexual assaults.
Australian Scientist Flies Switzerland for Euthanasia
A top Australian academic left for Switzerland yesterday, in order to peacefully end his life. Doctor Dave Goodall, a 104-year-old botanist and ecologist received $18,000 from euthanasia advocacy group Exit International which fundraised for him to make his last journey. Goodall can no longer walk, see, taste or smell and says his diminishing independence that comes with his age has been key to his decision. Victoria is the only Australian state that currently supports assisted dying, but only if the person is terminally ill. Euthanasia is currently illegal in New Zealand.
French President Macron to Visit New Caledonia Ahead of Independence Referendum
French President Emmanuel Macron is visiting New Caledonia before a historic referendum on independence. Next November, New Caledonians will vote to decide whether or not their island will become fully independent from France. New Caledonia is already autonomous in many aspects of the local policies. President Macron’s visit comes exactly 30 years after the killing of 19 Kanak independence fighters by the French forces during a hostage taking. He is expected to stay impartial on the referendum vote, a position that sparks criticism from those who advocate to stay in the French Republic. Macron will also give back to New Caledonian authorities the document that France wrote in 1853 to state their control over the island 1500 kilometres north of New Zealand.
Hawaii to Ban Sunscreen Dangerous to Coral Life
Hawaii is to ban sunscreens that contain chemicals harmful to coral reefs. State lawmakers passed a bill that will ban the sale of sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate. Studies proved that these two chemicals contribute to coral bleaching and cause "genetic damage to coral and other marine organisms", according to the bill. More than eight million tourists come to Hawaii each year, raising questions amongst scientists of the effectiveness if passed. Some opposed the bill, like the pharmaceutical company Bayer who said there is no similar ingredients to replace oxybenzone. If the bill is signed by the Governor, the ban will be effective from 2021 in the state of Hawaii.
Former Volkswagen CEO Charged with Fraud
Former CEO of Volkswagen has been charged with fraud in the United States over diesel emission scandal. Martin Winterkorn is part of a group of the German carmaker executives to be indicted by a federal court in Detroit for their responsibility in the diesel emission scandal. Volkswagen installed a software in millions of cars to artificially reduce their emissions during tests to have better results. The former CEO faces charges of conspiracy to defraud the US and violating the Clean Air Act by omitting information in order to ‘unlawfully enrich VW and themselves’ said the court. The car group already pleaded guilty for similar charges and paid US$4.3 billion in penalties.
Additional reporting by Oliver Powell, Ulysse Bellier, and Angus Grant.