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Entertainment, New Zealand - Mar 12, 2014 16:25 - 0 Comments

‘Beam me up Scotty!’ – Star Trek’s Captain Kirk arrested in land of hobbits

Actor Chris Pine, who plays Captain James Tiberius Kirk in the Star Trek movie reboots, will need more than the help of Bones and Spock to get him out of his latest mess.

New Zealand’s Ashburton Guardian newspaper is tonight reporting Pine is cooling his heels in the foothills of the Southern Alps, where the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed, after being picked up by local police for driving under the influence last weekend.

It’s understood Pine had just wrapped filming Z for Zachariah when he got caught.

Other celebs in the area included his girlfriend Iris Bjork Johannesdottir and Wolf of Wall Street star Margot Robbie, although they were not directly involved in the incident according to reports.

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New Zealand, World - Aug 30, 2014 14:26 - 2 Comments

Judith Collins forced to resign – the fallout

Justice Minister Judith Collins has been forced to walk the plank by Prime Minister John Key in  what appears to have been the deliberate scuttling of her ship, rather than the result of enemy attack.

2014-08-30 13.33.16

An ‘anonymous’ source whose identity the Prime Minister admits is known to his office sent the PM’s chief of staff a copy of an email originally written by blogger Cameron Slater in 2011. The leaked email did not appear in Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics book, yet if Hager had seen it there is no doubt he would have used it, as the allegation was far more serious than the email he did use about Collins leaking the name of a civil servant to Slater.

NZ First leader Winston Peters told TV3’s Patrick Gower this afternoon that the email appears to have been leaked from within National circles in a bid to force Key to remove Collins – although Peters claims the motivation was to divert attention from his own allegation that a Collins’ supporter was making quiet approaches about a possible leadership bid.

Either way, it seems likely that Collins has taken a direct hit from within, rather than without. It’s not the first time a story of infighting within National has emerged.

Turning to the email that broke the PM’s back, Slater claims to have had a lengthy phone conversation that day with Collins and reported to his other contacts that the Minister was “gunning” for Serious Fraud Office boss Adam Feeley, who’d been caught up in a scandal over a champagne bottle.

As Collins had stated on other occasions, Feeley was “operationally independent”, so any inference of the Minister taking part in a campaign to “undermine” the head of the SFO was a constitutional no-no.

READ THE EMAIL HERE Email

Read John Key’s statement:

Judith Collins resigns as a Minister

Prime Minister John Key today announced that Hon Judith Collins has resigned from Cabinet.
Mr Key says the resignation of Ms Collins followed the receipt of new information that raises allegations about Ms Collins’ conduct as a Minister.

“The relationship between a Minister and their Chief Executive is vital, and goes right to the heart of a trusted, effective government.

“This new information suggests Ms Collins may have been engaged in discussions with a blogger in 2011 aimed at undermining the then Director of the Serious Fraud Office. Ms Collins was the Minister responsible for the SFO at the time.

Mr Key released an email which had been recently been provided to his office.

“I have spoken with Ms Collins about the matters in the email, and she strongly denies any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour on her part.

“Ms Collins accepts these are serious allegations and that resigning as a Minister is the honourable step to take in these circumstances.

Mr Key says Ms Collins resignation takes effect immediately, and Hon Christopher Finlayson will be Acting Minister of Justice, Hon Craig Foss will be Acting Minister for ACC, and Hon Hekia Parata will be Acting Minister for Ethnic Affairs.

READ JUDITH COLLINS’ STATEMENT:

This morning I informed the Prime Minister that I am resigning as a Minister from Cabinet.

A new allegation has come to light from an email conversation from 2011 between Cameron Slater and others suggesting I was undermining the then Director of the Serious Fraud Office. I was not party to this email or discussion and have only today been made aware of it.

“I absolutely and strongly deny this and any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour. I am restrained in clearing my name while I am still a Minister inside Cabinet and I believe the right thing to do is to resign as a Minister so I am able to clear my name.

I have asked the Prime Minister for an Inquiry into these serious allegations so that my name can be cleared. I will, of course, cooperate with any Inquiry.”

“The Election should be focused on the issues that matter such as law and order, health, education and the economy and I do not want this matter to be a distraction for the Prime Minister or the National Party during the campaign.

“I am a strong advocate for the people of Papakura and I will continue to put the same passion and energy into representing them.

“I am getting on with my job as MP for Papakura and will campaign strongly for re-election this year.

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New Zealand - Feb 25, 2015 20:30 - 2 Comments

Fluoride linked to depression and weight gain – new study

Fluoride in drinking water may trigger depression and weight gain, warn UK scientists.
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) in women was at least 30% more likely in areas with fluoride levels in excess of 0.3 mg/l, confirms new research just published in Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. Hypothyroidism causes weight gain and depression, among other things. The NZ Ministry of Heatlh recommends fluoride chemicals be added to water at 0.7mg/L to 1mg/L.

According to the researchers “In many areas of the world, hypothyroidism is a major health concern and in addition to other factors such as iodine deficiency fluoride exposure should be considered as a contributing factor. The findings of the study raise particular concerns about the validity of community fluoridation as a safe public health measure”.

“People have always been concerned about fluoridation’s ability to lower thyroid activity since it was known that doctors in Argentina, France and Germany used fluoride to lower thyroid function in people with hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Finally we have solid research confirming these fears”, says Dr Paul Connett, an international expert on fluoridation who is touring New Zealand at present.

“This clears up two mysteries. Many people who report being sensitive to fluoride have the same symptoms as those with hypothyroidism. Secondly, this offers an additional explanation as to why fluoride lowers IQ in children”, adds Dr Bill Hirzy, former senior scientist at the US Environmental Protection Agency, who is touring with Dr Connett.

Hypothyroidism is a huge problem in New Zealand with thousands of women being diagnosed every year. Iodine deficiency is also prevalent. Hypothyrodism during pregnancy can lower the child’s IQ by 7 points, according to 1999 research published by the US National Institute for Child Health and Human Development . The same 7 point IQ drop was shown by a Harvard University meta-analysis of 27 IQ studies in 2012,.

“This research invalidates the conclusions of the recent New Zealand Fluoridation Report that claimed fluoridation is safe”. says Mary Byrne, National Co-ordinator of health advocacy group Fluoride-Free NZ.

“The 23 New Zealand councils (out of a total of 67) that are still fluoridating need to stop immediately. There is no justification for continuing to add fluoridation chemicals to their community’s water supply when they cannot guarantee safety and now we have evidence of harm at this level. The claimed reason for fluoridation to reduce dental decay is now out-dated since promoters admit the primary benefit is from contact to the outside of the tooth, not from swallowing. So there is not even a benefit /risk to weigh up since fluoridation is all about risk. And even if it weren’t, thyroid function is far more important to a person’s overall health than a dental filling”, says Ms Byrne.

Effective, education based programs for reducing dental decay as used in Scotland and Wales, along with similar programs in NZ, provide safe, effective oral health improvements without the unacceptable health risks of water fluoridation now confirmed by solid research. The Childsmile program in Scotland has more than halved the cost of treating dental disease by reducing the number of hospital admissions required.

The UK thyroid research was based on complete data provided by 7935 (out of 8020) UK general practices. The researchers also carried out a secondary analysis, comparing two built up areas, one of which (West Midlands) was supplied with fluoridated drinking water, and the other of which (Greater Manchester) was not. They found general practices in West Midlands were twice as likely to report high hypothyroid prevalence.

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