Everything you need to know about the world today, curated by 95bFM and VICE NZ.
New Bill Would Give Police Drug-Testing Powers
A proposed new law would give police power to stop and drug-test drivers at any time, as they currently do with alcohol-testing. Under the proposed bill, police could test for marijuana, methamphetamine or MDMA. National MP for Wairarapa Alastair Scott, who lodged the bill, said in a statement that “Too many fatal crashes involving drugs have highlighted the need to crack down on those who get behind the wheel while under the influence of illegal substances.”
Scott says the current law “doesn’t do enough to deter drug-impaired people from getting behind the wheel—Police must have good cause to suspect that a driver is impaired by drugs before requiring them to stop and take a behavioural test, like walking heel to toe in a straight line”.
Dodgy Fuel Made Tanks Seem Fuller than They Were
Batches of dodgy fuel sold at NZ petrol stations were causing petrol gauges to register higher levels than they actually had. Batches of 91 and 95 petrol sold by BP, Z Energy and Mobil have been discovered to have had elevated sulphur levels, which would falsely boost gauges.These batches, sold between November and mid-December last year, led to an increase in the number of callouts to the AA, and may have damaged the cars that used it. BP, Z Energy and Mobil have all announced plans to compensate those who have been affected. If you believe you may be eligible for compensation, contact the companies directly.
Labour’s 100 Day Plan Expires
It’s the final week of the Labour government’s first 100 day plan, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has revealed her plans for the remainder of the period. Ardern says we can expect to see greater focus on mental health and employment laws in the coming days, with a mental health inquiry scheduled to begin soon. She also intends to spend five days at Waitangi, starting from next Thursday, in an effort to foster relationships between the Crown and Northland. The announcement comes as Ardern prepares to enter the last week of her 100 day plan.
Surf Lifesavers Ignored
Surf lifesavers say their safety advice at Auckland’s most popular beaches is being ignored. In the last two days there have been 35 rescues from Muriwai, Piha and Bethells Beach combined. Surf lifesavers say the high numbers are mainly due to people venturing too far out in the water and not remaining between the flags. Water Safety chief executive Jonty Mills says that "the sector is stretched beyond capability and we know there is increased demand and expectations from organisations like Surf Life Saving". Water Safety New Zealand hope the government will soon funding for the sector.
Cycling on the Rise
Recent reports from Auckland Transport show more people are using bikes to get around. In 2017, the amount of bike trips recorded increased 6.2 percent compared to 2016. Auckland Transport Safety Manager, Kathryn King says, cycling transportation had increased earlier in the year compared to previous year.
“Usually that happens in March when everyone comes back to work and students return to university,” King says. “We saw that in November—which signals to us the start of a trend of more people cycling that I anticipate [we] will see throughout 2018.” King said infrastructure was becoming a problem, and needs to be dealt with in order to keep cyclists safe.
Freedom Campers Beware
The Mayor of Queenstown, Jim Bolt, has announced plans to crack down on freedom campers in the area. This comes after residents launched a petition to ban freedom camping in Lake Hayes Reserve, which saw 113 cars take up residence on New Year's Eve. Queenstown issued 3,300 infringement notices last year, an increase of almost 25 percent from 2016. Bolt has said he expects to bring in more camping bans and heavier fines for non-compliance by the middle of this year.
Turnbull Announces $60 Million Barrier Reef Plan
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has unveiled a $60 million plan to help rejuvenate the Great Barrier Reef. The announcement came after the reef suffered from mass bleaching last year, during which large swathes of vital algae were killed off by warmer ocean temperatures. Turnbull claims the money will be spent on offsetting erosion, culling crown-of-thorns starfish, and employing more field officers to educate people about the effects of "bleaching". However, critics have derided the announcement as too little too late, with Greenpeace decrying Turnbull's ongoing commitment to mining along the reef.
Facebook is being accused of affecting the democratic election process in several countries including the US. Facebook product manager Samidh Chakrabarti describes Russia's interference with the last US election using Facebook as "abhorrent". Adding "we’re working to make politics on Facebook more transparent". The New York Times reported that trustworthy news shared on Facebook has decreased in Cambodia, Slovenia, Bolivia and Sri Lanka. A recent study in the UK
revealed that higher educated senior executives over forty were most likely to avoid the news altogether due to its untrustworthiness. Ed Williams, head of Edelman UK says "It's frightening that the professional classes, the people we rely on to take an interest in social affairs and to hold politicians to account, are the most pronounced news avoiders."
US Doubles Down on Moving Embassy to JerusalemUS Vice President Mike Pence has announced that the US Embassy in Israel will move to Jerusalem by the end of 2019. Pence made the announcement in a speech to Israeli Parliament on Monday that the embassy would be making the move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem earlier than many expected. U.S Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had previously stated the move would take at least three years. A group of Arab MPs briefly interrupted Pence's speech with banners saying Jerusalem is the Capital of Palestine.
Pope Apologises for Sexual Abuse Comments
Pope Francis has issued an apology after making comments defending a bishop accused of being involved in covering up sexual abuse. Chilean Bishop Juan Barros is accused of covering up and witnessing another priest, Fernando Karadima, molest teenage boys in Santiago through the 1980s. On Thursday, during his trip through Chile and Peru, Francis said victims who were accusing Barros were committing slander. Speaking with journalists on a plane back to Rome, he announced his rare apology for his choice of words. Despite acknowledging his words were like a slap in the face to sexual abuse victims, The Pope does still insist that Barros is innocent and there is no evidence to support the claims.
Reporting by Harry Willis, Grace Watson and Ollie Powell