Everything you need to know about the world today, curated by 95bFM and VICE NZ.
National Decision Made Today
The National party caucus will meet today to vote for the party's new leader. At the meeting the five candidates, Simon Bridges, Amy Adams, Judith Collins, Mark Mitchell and Steven Joyce, will each make a five minute speech and the 56 National MPs will vote for their preferred leader in a secret ballot. Political Editor for Radio NZ, Jane Patterson, says "the real race is between Amy Adams and Simon Bridges", who already have the confirmed support of some MP's. One candidate needs to reach a majority of 29 votes to be declared the new leader of the party. If this majority is not reached then it will go to a progressive vote, where the lowest polling candidate drops out each round and the MP's vote again until a majority is made.
Tyre Fire Cuts Off Water Supply
North Canterbury residents remain with a limited water supply, after a tyre fire yesterday forced the council to turn off the main bore. With 500 tyres were ablaze, fire and emergency managed to restrict the damage before it reached a yard of another 200,000 tyres. To avoid environmental contamination from run–off, the fire was left to burn itself down without water or foam. The decision to turn off water supplies came because of the chance debris could land in reservoirs. An announcement on the reopening of the water supply will be made this morning.
Greens Call for Māori Representation on Councils
The Green Party is reiterating its call to remove provision in legislation that allow for referendum on the establishment of Māori–only wards. Māori Development Spokesperson Marama Davidson says councils are showing leadership in having Māori representation in local government, and the Government needs to recognise this. “Councils deciding to show their leadership around the country because they understand the benefit and the value to everybody of having Māori at the decision making table. And it is a Te Tiriti obligation to ensure that there is good Māori representation at the council table.“ Davidson presented the previous Parliament with a Bill which would have removed this provision from the Local Electoral Act, but it was voted down.
Ardern Unoffended by Interview
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she was not concerned about her interview with Australia's 60 Minutes, much of which focused on her pregnancy. Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford were interviewed by Australian journalist, Charles Wooley, to talk about New Zealand's new leadership. Viewers have called Wooley's interviewing line "repugnant and patronising", with questions about Ardern's due date and conception date. Ardern says that during the interview she was a bit thrown but did not find it sexist or offensive. 60 Minutes responded in a statement to 9Honey saying that Wooley came away from the interview in awe of Ardern's "poise, intelligence, and everyday charm, which was reflected in the full story".
Sugar Tax 'Insignificant' Think Tank Says
The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research has found that imposing a sugar tax on sugary drinks does not significantly reduce obesity. Chief executive Laurie Kubiak, says that their independent research found that there is no evidence that a sugar tax has led to a significant drop in consumption. He says while a sugar tax may slightly reduce consumption levels, New Zealand needs an effective and efficient way to reduce obesity levels.
Humanitarian Corridor Opens in Syria
Vladimir Putin has announced that along with its ally, the Syrian Government, Russia will be granting a daily "humanitarian corridor" to allow civilians in Eastern Ghouta to leave. Heavy bombing from the Russian and Syrian governments began in 2013 in Eastern Ghouta, which is the largest rebel stronghold near Syria's Capital, Damascus. An estimated 393,000 Syrian civilians are currently trapped in the district, where a monitoring group says over 550 people have been killed in the last 8 days. This comes after the United Nation Security Council voted for a 30–day nationwide ceasefire from all parties to allow for aid to be delivered.
Qatar Blockade Continues
Qatar's foreign minister has asked that the United Nations Human Rights council step in to stop the Saudi blockade imposed on the nation around nine months ago. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain are accusing Qatar of terrorism and have cut all diplomatic contact, as well as imposing a land, sea and air blockade. Qatar's foreign minister wrote that the perpetrators must be held accountable for this racist course of action. He says the nations imposing this "baseless" blockade should no longer be part of the UN human rights council.
East Africa Aims For Old Clothing Ban
The plan to ban all imports of second-hand clothing in Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda in order to strengthen the textile industry has been knocked back, with the US threatening consequences. East African Community leaders have agreed to compromise, with larger taxes to be placed on imported second hand clothes. The logic behind the plan is to increase the demand for new garments, which will see East Africa go head to head with Asia as the main contributor of textiles.
Homeless Community in Belgium Forced Indoors
Homeless people in Brussels could be forced into shelters as temperatures drop to -10 degrees in the Belgian capital. Police have been asked to remove people from the streets in the city centre and the suburb of Etterbeek for their own protection. Etterbeek Mayor Vincent De Wolf says that the aim of the order is to "protect homeless people who would put themselves in danger by refusing accommodation". De Wolf added that where absolutely necessary, people would be moved into heated shelters and seen by a doctor who will assess whether they can safely return to the streets. The order will be in force until March 8 and will be extended if the extreme temperatures continue.
Plane Passenger Does a Runner
An American man is facing charges after opening the emergency exit of a plane and leaving the aircraft shortly before takeoff. US authorities say the passenger, who had just boarded a plane at a New Jersey airport, opened the emergency exit and went down the slide. He was quickly detained by airline staff and police after reaching the tarmac at Newark Liberty International airport. The flight was delayed several hours, eventually using a different plane to make the trip to Tampa, Florida. It remains unknown why the 25–year–old decided to leave the aircraft.
Additional reporting by Reuben McLaren, Grace Watson, Daniel Meech