Bird’s Eye News

Up here, we see everything – Gabriel Pollard

Whalers flee Australian waters, head for New Zealand’s

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Japanese whalers have left Australia’s Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ), and are now heading for the waters of the Ross Dependency, which is under the claim of New Zealand. The Sea Shepherd, an environment conservation group, said that the three whaling vessels are now heading eastward.

Sea Shepherd’s Captain, Paul Watson, said, “They are now in the waters of the Ross Dependency and the Steve Irwin is in pursuit.”

The Steve Irwin is their Netherlands-based vessel and has been monitoring the harpoon vessel Yushin Maru #2, the spotting vessel Kaiko Maru and has observed and tracked the Nisshin Maru from the air since December 20; which has brought them many close encounters, Mr Watson said.

“What is now good news for the whales in Australian waters is now bad news for the whales in the waters south of New Zealand,” said Mr Watson.

Sea Shepherd claim that the whalers are in violation of international conservation law and the principles of the United Nations World Charter for Nature as the Ross Dependency waters are an established whale sanctuary. Mr Watson said, “We will continue to pursue, harass and intervene against their blatantly illegal lethal assaults on the whales.”

On board the Steve Irwin are around 40 volunteers and Animal Planet filming the second season of Whale Wars. The Japanese claimed this was endangering their lives and lambasted both Sea Shepherd and Animal Planet for their alleged attempts at making more exciting television.

Steve Irwin is at the moment currently heading to New Zealand to refuel and replenish other provisions. Mr Watson said, “We don’t have the luxury of refuelling at sea like the Japanese fleet has.”

After refuelling at the closest port, they will head back to the expected position of the Japanese ships to prevent more whale deaths and “to continue to pursue, harass and intervene against illegal Japanese whaling activities,” Mr Watson said.

However, the Japanese Whaling Association has called for the Australian and New Zealand Governments to refuse port access to the Steve Irwin under the claim that the Sea Shepherd is committing “terror” on the sea. “Otherwise these countries will be complicit in any further attacks,” they said.

The Japanese whaling fleet plans to kill about 1,000 whales this summer, using a loophole in a 1986 global whaling moratorium that allows “lethal research” on the ocean giants. So far, Sea Shepherd have successfully stopped the Japanese from culling any whales this season, and last year cost them $70 million in lost profit while saving over 500 endangered whales.

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Written by Gabriel Pollard

5 January, 2009 at 10.19 pm

People turn to friends rather than counsellors

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A New Zealand Families Commission report has revealed that New Zealanders often prefer turning to family and friends for help in preference to seeking support from professional counsellors when it comes to their relationships.

The study, titled Reaching Out: Who New Zealanders turn to for relationship support, spoke to 50 New Zealanders at in-depth level and asked them who they spoke to when it came to dealing with relationship problems.

The Families Commission said that when they sought help, they not only sought it from their friends and family, but from professionals they trusted too, such as GPs, nurses, school teachers, church ministers and community elders. This differs from international research which indicates people turn to counsellors more than professionals.

The report said the main reason for a different Kiwi attitude is down to people “often looking for a ‘listening ear’, practical advice, and sometimes an intervention.” However, it was also due to cost, scepticism and a general lack of awareness of the options available to them via counsellors. Some people also see counselling as their “last resort”.

“It is a concern when we see that cost is one of the main barriers to people seeking counselling support for their relationship in the Families Commission report,” Relationship Services said.

“Most people who are going through relationship difficulties are eligible for free counselling, which is funded by the Family Court,” Relationship Services’ national practice manager of relationship services Cary Hayward said.

Chief Families Commissioner Jan Pryor said, “Our study found that people who distrust formal counselling services, who keep problems to themselves, or have limited social networks were more likely to open up to professional people they already had trust in such as GPs, Plunket nurses and midwives.” If professional people suggested that they receive counselling help, they’d open up more to that idea.

“We recognise that people are often reluctant to seek help from counsellors. Many people look for ideas in books or on the internet,” Mr Hayward said.

There is practical advice available on Relationship Services’ website, http://www.relate.org.nz, and have 75 offices located nationally around New Zealand.

Written by Gabriel Pollard

3 January, 2009 at 2.38 pm

Animal Planet endangers lives at sea: Japanese whalers say

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Japanese whaling ships are currently being targeted by environmental activists aboard the Steve Irwin ship in Antarctic waters. The Japan Whaling Association (JWA) say they fear for the lives aboard the whaling vessel.

The activists group is called Sea Shepherd, and they are being filmed by Animal Planet on board the Steve Irwin for a show called Whale Wars on the actions they take against the Japanese whalers.

It is against an international moratorium to hunt whales commercially, but the Japanese do so under the guise of “scientific research”. Hundreds are killed a year. The meat finds its way to dinner plates still however.

President of the JWA, Keiichi Nakajima, said, “We expect more dangerous and criminal activity will be carried out by the Sea Shepherd-Animal Planet crew because they want to make an exciting television series and this fills us with very great concern for the lives of the Japanese crews and scientists.”

A Japanese government-backed whaling body claimed that the activists’ ship rammed into the left side of the Japanese vessel, damaging a bulwark, while the Sea Shepherd accused the whaling boat of steering into it.

“Paul Watson even orchestrated a fake event to make it look like he was shot, all of which was aimed at denigrating Japan and boosting the ratings of the Animal Planet un-reality TV series,” Mr Nakajima said.

Paul Watson is the captain of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel Steve Irwin and says that despite the grumblings of the JWA, they have prevented the Japanese from killing any whales in the last nine days.

Mr Watson denies the claims that they are endangering anyone, “Our critics should just shut up because we’ve been doing this for five years, we haven’t been charged with anything, we’ve not broken any laws, we’ve not injured anybody.”

Mr Nakajima said, “Animal Planet will try to deny it has any influence on what Sea Shepherd extremists plan and carry out, but the fact is the very presence of the film crew on board is enough to provide a causal link between them and the events that occur in the Antarctic.”

Written by Gabriel Pollard

1 January, 2009 at 9.05 pm

‘Smacking law has not made a big difference’ – Police; lobby group claims otherwise

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The latest six month review of the repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act (commonly referred to as the “anti-smacking law”) has shown the amount of police intervention to claims of a ‘smack’ has remained minimal. However, lobby group Family First claim that the law is a “spectacular failure”.

The repeal of Section 59 was enacted in June 2007, and since then the Police have monitored any signs and effects this has had on the public of New Zealand.

The third review covers the time from 5 April 2008 to 3 October 2008 which showed 258 call outs for Police on “child  assault” claims. Nine were smacks and 49 were classed as “minor acts of physical discipline”. The New Zealand Police said in a press release, “One smacking event was prosecuted, but subsequently withdrawn when the primary witness declined to give evidence. There were 4 prosecutions of ‘minor acts of physical discipline’, 3 resulting in convictions with one still to be resolved through the court.”

National Director of Family First NZ Bob McCoskrie said, “Most concerning is that parents have been prosecuted or referred to CYF for minor smacking. Our fears of prosecutions have been confirmed.”

“Research conducted by the Children’s Issue Centre and the Office of the Children’s Commissioner shows that more parents understand that hitting children is not effective and are moving towards positive discipline methods,” the Chief Executive of Barnardos New Zealand Murray Edridge said.

“They understand the law and support it.”

The latest review confirms that the numbers are decreasing. In the September 2007 to April 2008 review there were 288 child assault events, of which 13 were smacking and 69 was minor physical discipline.

Mr McCoskrie said, “Sadly, the rate of ‘child assault’ prosecutions is decreasing and actual child abusers are not being caught and the ‘roll of horror’ of child abuse deaths continues…” He cites cases such as when three year old Nia Glassie, 16 month old Sachin Dhani, and more died due to abuse.

However, Mr Edridge said, “The law is working well. There is no significant increase in the numbers of parents being prosecuted, which clearly shows that the Police are exercising discretion and only prosecuting serious incidents under the law.”

“Activity remains ‘business as usual’ for Police and confirms Officers are continuing to use a common sense approach to child assault events,” Deputy Police Commissioner Rob Pope said.

One more review remains to be conducted by the Police.

Written by Gabriel Pollard

20 December, 2008 at 4.11 pm

Overseas Kiwis change election results

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It is somewhat ironic that analysis of the overseas New Zealand votes has shown that the Green Party’s increase of one seat in Parliament is owed to Labour, due to discrepancies between the New Zealand voters and the overseas New Zealand voters. This is despite the fact that once the special overseas votes were counted the Greens gained one seat at National’s expense.

The analysis between home support and international support for each party was conducted by Kea New Zealand.

Kea’s press release states, “Overseas voters changed Parliament’s makeup because they differed markedly in how they supported the three largest parties in the new Parliament.”

National had a ratio of votes 2:1 (52.3% versus 27.8% respectively) over main political opponent Labour which is the main reason why Labour lost one seat.

The turnout for overseas voters was record breaking (excluding war time votes; and having 28,000 in 2005 and about 17,000 in 2002), with Kea running a campaign overseas to make sure “Every Vote Counts”. “We are pleased with the impact of our campaign, given that it was mounted on a small budget by a non-profit organisation,” says Ivan Moss, the Chief Executive of Kea New Zealand.

Mr Moss claims that, “Every Vote Counts directly reached well over 20,000 people and was responsible for initiating at least 7,000 voting enrolments.”

32,000 people cast special votes originating from different countries rather than New Zealand.

Mr Moss says, “But we remain concerned that overseas Kiwis have the lowest enrolment rate of any group of eligible New Zealand voters. The 60,000 who enrolled to vote this year is only about 12% of the estimated 500,000 New Zealanders overseas who are eligible.”

Written by Gabriel Pollard

18 December, 2008 at 7.58 pm

Posted in New Zealand, Politics

13 airlines accused of cartel behaviour to be prosecuted

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New Zealand’s Commerce Commission has filed proceedings in the High Court of New Zealand against 13 international airliners for alleged cartel  behaviour for more than seven years. Seven airline staff of a high level in their respective companies also face prosecution.

In a press release the Commerce Commission said, “Airlines throughout the world colluded to raise the price of freighting cargo by imposing fuel surcharges for more than seven years. This affected the price of cargo both into and out of New Zealand.”

The Commerce Commission said that between 1999 and 2000, the 13 airplane operators entered into an illegal agreement imposing fuel surcharges for six years until 2006. Following the 9/11 attacks on America, a security surcharge was also imposed, according to the New Zealand Government’s competition regulatory agency.

The allegations also involve a series of regional price fixing agreements.

Around 60 airline operators are involved, but only 13 are being focussed on; including Air New Zealand, British Airways and Australian-based Qantas Airways. More staff could be involved too.

The agency bringing the charges have claimed that the anti-competition colluding has “extensively” harmed the New Zealand economy. It is estimated that the price fixing generated a revenue of NZ$2.9 billion over seven years.

Commerce Commission Chair Paula Rebstock said, “Participation in cartel activity is internationally regarded as one of the most egregious forms of anti-competitive behaviour.

“Many New Zealand businesses and every consumer will have been directly affected by the increased air freight costs over many years. It will have resulted in increased costs for exporters and importers and higher overall prices for many consumer goods.”

State owned Air New Zealand’s general counsel John Blair says the Commission is merely “grandstanding” and they will defend the charges before them outright.

International equivalents of New Zealand’s Commerce Commission are already investigating, with several companies already being issued massive fines amounting to tens, even hundreds, of millions of dollars each.

Ms Rebstock said, “New Zealand is a long way from its overseas markets and so the harm to our economy and our ability to compete internationally will have been disproportionately greater than in other jurisdictions in which the conduct took place.”

The Commerce Commission were tipped off from an industry insider, whose airliner have been granted immunity from prosecution.

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Written by Gabriel Pollard

15 December, 2008 at 2.04 pm

Microsoft gets heavy on pirates

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Microsoft has found two Auckland-based sellers onselling pirated Microsoft products such as Office and Windows Vista, and have launched an international investigation against those accused.

Respective American and Australian auctions sites iOffer, OZtion and New Zealand’s biggest and most popular auction website TradeMe are involved in both of the cases where bidders thought they were buying genuine software, only to find it did not work as expected.

One such buyer was Tina Tweedie who bought her software from dlive Limited, run by Xu Lei and Liao Yaopei. She said that she assumed it was genuine, “But when I loaded the software I realised that I had been duped into buying counterfeit.”

Microsoft described the dlive counterfeit software as “high-quality” and the Australasian-centred investigation took from July 2007 until October 2008.

Jun Li, Gong Qi and Jingtao Jin were part of an international investigation that took up to nine months to complete for selling Microsoft products illegally. It is alleged the software is sourced from China.

iOffer and TradeMe received numerous complaints against the sellers, and informed Microsoft. Microsoft reviewed 27 pieces of software and found them all to be of a high standard worth $22,000; a drop in the bucket for the $48 billion pirates cost Microsoft each year.

Mr Li, Mr Qi and Mr Jin were also found to have been supplying fake discs to numerous countries like The Netherlands, Canada and The United Kingdom.

All traders are being taken to court by Microsoft. Mr Li already faces a NZ$100,000 fine and is required to pay all legal costs. Other traders have had their bank accounts frozen while their trial awaits.

Microsoft does have some final words of advice, “Consumers should exercise great care in purchasing software from Internet auction sites, as some online traders are disreputable and there is usually no opportunity to inspect the product prior to purchase,” Vanessa Hutley, senior corporate attorney and director, Intellectual Property at Microsoft Australia said.

Written by Gabriel Pollard

7 December, 2008 at 10.54 am

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