Everything you need to know about the world today, curated by 95bFM and VICE NZ.
National Party Leadership Fight Coming
A leadership contest is brewing in the National Party, with MPs expected to declare their intentions today. National Party leader Bill English announced yesterday that he would leave politics later this month. English has not revealed a preferred successor, and will leave it to National MPs to elect a new leadership team. Judith Collins was the first to officially announce her intention to run this morning, saying “We’re going to need strong & decisive leadership if we’re going to win in 2020. I’m that person.” Other potential contenders include Simon Bridges and Amy Adams.
Substandard Housing Creating Health Issues
A new housing report shows a number of children are going to hospital with illnesses caused by poor housing conditions, Poverty Action Group says. Over 100 children per day are admitted to hospital due to substandard housing. Innes Asher, health spokesperson for Child Poverty Action Group told 95bFM that children are suffering, with the problems only increasing: “The National government said there wasn’t a crisis, and clearly there is. [High] numbers of children are homeless or inadequately housed, in a way that’s very bad for their physical and mental health and safety.” Child Poverty Action Group would like to see the number of children admitted to hospital halved.
Salvation Army Puts Out State of the Nation Report
The latest State of the Nation report has shown rising methamphetamine crime, prison population and rents. The report, issued by the Salvation Army, monitors New Zealand's social progress in 25 key areas. While the latest report shows solid economic growth, with 15 percent more jobs, this coincided with only a slight increase in real wages. Ian Hutson, the Director of the Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit at the Salvation Army, says it is important to remember the people behind the statistics.
Measles Outbreak Confirmed
A third measles outbreak has been confirmed according to the Canterbury District Health Board. An 18-year-old woman was admitted to Christchurch hospital on Saturday and residents are being warned about the effects of this contagious disease. Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Alistair Humphrey told 95bFM people need to be educated about how important vaccinations are: “We try and maintain a vaccine coverage of about 95 percent,” he said. “As soon as you drop below that level, and you don’t have to drop very far, you start to lose herd immunity which means cases can be transmitted from one unvaccinated person to the next.” The Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine is free and readily available
Fletcher Building Lost Billions Through Mismanagement
It is estimated that mismanagement of Fletcher Building may have destroyed up to $2.7 billion in wealth over the past nine years. University of Auckland Professor Jilnaught Wong claims the company suffered the loss in wealth as a result of not earning enough to cover the cost of its capital. Fletcher Building has extended the halt on trading of its shares here and across the Tasman, as shares were just $7.70 on Monday compared to $10 this time last year. Options for recapitalising Fletchers' balance sheet include asset sales, suspending dividends, or raising equity.
Cape Town About to Run Out of Water
Cape Town is still experiencing a serious drought, as day zero looms in the future. ‘Day Zero’ refers to the day that the city’s water supply will hit 0 litres. The South African city, which has a population of 4 million, was recently predicted to run out of water by April 12. Mmusi Maimane, leader of South Africa's Democratic Alliance, announced today that Day Zero predictions have been pushed back until the June 4. Each citizen is being allocated just 50 litres of water per day, which represents one toilet flush, a short shower and a weekly washing machine load.
Ice Sheets Keep Melting
New research shows that the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland are melting at an accelerated rate. Based on current melting rates, it is predicted that the ocean will be on average 60cm higher by the end of the century. However the new reports suggest that this milestone could be passed sooner. Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist from Germany says sea levels were stable for 3,000 years until the 20th century, when they have risen increasingly quickly due to global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels.
Jacob Zuma Asked to Resign
South Africa's governing African National Congress has issued a formal demand that President Zuma resign. Zuma's deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, replaced him as leader of the ANC in December but Zuma has resisted increasing pressure to quit. South Africa's opposition parties have expressed reservations about the effectiveness of the formal demand, stating that the only way to remove Jacob Zuma as president would be through a motion of no confidence. Zuma's presidency has been overshadowed by allegations of corruption which he has vehemently denied.
Russia Expected to Keep Meddling
US intelligence officials have told the Senate that Russia is likely to interfere with the coming midterm elections. According to intelligence chiefs, the Russian government believes that it succeeded in its aim to weaken faith in American democracy through interfering in the 2016 elections. As a result, it is likely to continue its efforts, through social media bots and fake personalities, to push propaganda on Americans. President Donald Trump maintains there was no interference in the 2016 election.
Italy’s Most Popular Party Accused of Corruption
Italy's most popular party has been accused of corruption just three weeks before the general election. An investigation into The Five Star Movement, which has always pledged zero tolerance for corruption, found that a certain number of its MPs had failed to reimburse up to 1.4 million euro. Polls indicate the party could win around 28 percent of the vote, but the corruption scandal could harm its image and its prospects. Italy faces a three-way electoral battle between the Democratic Party, the Five Star Movement and a centre-right alliance led by Silvio Berlusconi. Given the corruption scandal, the most likely outcome is a hung parliament.
Israel’s Prime Minister Accused of Corruption Too
Israeli police are expected to recommend charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in corruption cases. Netanyahu has been under investigation for months for reportedly receiving bribes and gifts and extorting a major Israeli paper for positive coverage. Now police are recommending that Netanyahu be indicted on these charges, which could fuel calls for him to step aside. Netanyahu has denied the accusations and says he will continue to lead Israel. Netanyahu has been Prime Minister for 9 years in his current term, previously holding the position for three years in the late 1990s.
Additional reporting: Reilly Hodson, Issy Walker and Leonard Powell.