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Morning Briefing July 20: Govt accuses China of major cyber attack

NZ joins other countries in accusing China of a major cyber attack, climate scientists warn Kiwis to expect more intense rainfall in future, and frustrations grow over MIQ bookings.

Source: Getty

The New Zealand Government has joined the US, UK and European Union in accusing China of carrying out a major cyber attack earlier this year.

Thousands of computers in New Zealand were targeted in May after Chinese state-sponsored actors allegedly attacked Microsoft Exhange’s email servers.

The GCSB also says around 30 per cent of attacks on New Zealand-owned businesses can be linked to various state-sponsored actors. 

GCSB Minister Andrew Little says the malicious activity undermines global stability and security and is urging China “to take appropriate action in relation to such activity emanating from its territory”. 

China has previously denied hacking allegations.

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Coping with a warmer climate

As farmers and homeowners again count the cost of flooding following severe rain over the weekend, attention is turning to why these kinds of extreme weather events are becoming more frequent.

Climate scientists say Kiwis should expect more intense rainfall as warmer temperatures through winter create more moisture – and that conversations on how to cope with this need to get underway now. 

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett says a revamp of infrastructure is needed to protect vulnerable areas as storms become more severe.

Wellington Council’s head of resilience Mike Mendonca also weighed in on the issue yesterday, saying those in the capital need to get used to future large rainfall events. He says mitigating and managing the risks of severe downpours is now making up a large part of the city’s future resilience planning. 

Meanwhile, climate scientists in Europe also say the link between extreme weather and global warming is “unmistakable” and that the issue needs addressing urgently.

Their comments follow the weekend’s deadly flash flooding in Germany that shocked politicians with its intensity. The death toll from that event has now passed 150.

Frustrations over MIQ bookings

The head of New Zealand’s managed isolation system is urging caution for those using a third party to book a voucher spot.

It comes amid growing frustration with the booking system as some people are forced to hit refresh all day. Journalist David Farrier has detailed that long and seemingly impossible process here.

MIQ spots are currently booked out until November with some websites charging thousands to secure a voucher on behalf of desperate Kiwis.

MIQ boss Megan Main says they’re now looking at new ways to alert people that spots are available.

Her comments come as a further 530 MIQ spaces are set aside for Kiwis stranded in New South Wales. The pause in the travel bubble with the state continues as it records more community cases of Covid-19 and another coronavirus death, this time a woman in her 50s.

Meanwhile, the pause in quarantine-free travel with Victoria was extended last night as another 13 Covid cases were recorded there.

The Government is also now monitoring the situation in South Australia following a new coronavirus case in the community. ABC reports the state is introducing widespread restrictions but hasn’t enacted a full lockdown.

RSV crisis deepens

Pharmac says New Zealand's supply of the oral medicine used to treat children with RSV is critically low.

Demand for the steroid medication Prednisolone skyrocketed in June with concerns pharmacies may soon be unable to access the drug. Pharmac says it’s working to secure more supplies before the end of the month. 

It comes as cases of RSV continue to increase, prompting Hawke's Bay DHB to ban all visitors under 16-years-old at its hospitals.

Healthcare workers have also spoken to the Wairarapa Times-Age about the pressure the RSV outbreak is putting on an already stretched system. They’ve described the situation as worse than Covid-19 for the region

Ageist car rental policies exposed

Fair Go reports some New Zealand car rental companies have refused to rent vehicles to people over a certain age even if they had a valid driver’s licence.

The show examined the issue after a 77-year-old woman encountered two separate rental companies who said she was too old to use their services. You can read more about that investigation here.

Other news of note this morning:

- UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced only fully vaccinated people will be allowed to enter the country’s nightclubs and other big events from the end of September.

- Two crew members onboard a container ship under quarantine in Bluff have tested positive for Covid-19.

- The Royal Commission of Inquiry into care has begun hearing stories from the Pasifika community as it aims to lift the lid on decades of mistreatment.

- Animal welfare groups are taking the Government to court in hopes of banning rodeo in New Zealand.

- A small Bay of Plenty marae has told the United Nations’ special forum on the rights of indigenous peoples that "chemical violence" by heavy industry is having serious health effects for whānau.

- A nurse has been reprimanded for attempting to cover up her mistake in giving a six-week-old baby the wrong vaccine.

- TJ Perenara has returned to the All Blacks after being named in Ian Foster's Rugby Championship squad.

- Prince Harry is writing what his publisher is calling an "intimate and heartfelt memoir".

- And Seven Sharp asks: Do we need vitamin and mineral supplements - or are they a waste of time?

And finally...

Rhys Mathewson attempts 'Yes Day'. Source: Seven Sharp

Run out of ways to entertain the kids these school holidays? Then perhaps a “Yes Day” might be in order.

Seven Sharp conducted such an experiment by giving comedian Rhys Mathewson a child for six hours and instructing him to do whatever he asked.

Sure, it’s not a new concept. But it’s still fun watching a grown man be subjected to the savage whims of a seven-year-old - which you can do right here.