Soaring Pacific maternal deaths prompt NZ-led emergency training programme

Three women die every day in the region from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Source: 1 NEWS



Opposition party vows to reject May's Brexit deal

Britain's main opposition Labour Party announced Tuesday it will reject Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May's proposed divorce deal with the European Union when it comes to a vote in Parliament and might support a new Brexit referendum.

The party's chief Brexit spokesman accused May's government of offering the country a choice between "really bad and even worse."

If Britain and the EU agree on a deal, it must be approved by the British and European parliaments before Britain leaves. The math on the U.K. vote looks ominous for May's government, however, because it lacks an overall majority.

Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer told Labour's annual conference that the party would vote against a Brexit deal along the lines that May is proposing because it does not meet "six tests" it has set, including protecting workers' rights and retaining access to European markets.

"We do not accept that the choice is between whatever the prime minister manages to cobble together and no deal ... between really bad and even worse," Starmer said.

Starmer said that if Parliament rejected the deal, there should be a new election on Brexit.

"If that is not possible, we must have other options," he said. "Our options must include campaigning for a public vote — and nobody is ruling out 'remain' as an option."

Starmer's suggestion that a new referendum could reverse Britain's 2016 decision to leave the EU — which wasn't in the advanced printed text of his speech — drew a standing ovation from many delegates in the conference hall.

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has long opposed the idea of a new Brexit referendum, saying the party must respect voters' decision to leave.

Most of the party's 500,000 members voted in 2016 to remain in the EU, but many of its 257 lawmakers represent areas that supported Brexit. Brendan Chilton of the pro-Brexit group Labour Leave argues that the party would "hemorrhage votes" if it tried to stop Britain from leaving the 28-nation bloc.

But with Britain due to leave the EU in six months, on March 29, and negotiations at an impasse, Corbyn is under intense pressure from party members to support a new public vote.

Conference delegates are expected later Tuesday to back a compromise motion leaving the option of a second Brexit referendum open but not calling for it directly.

EU leaders last week rejected the British government's blueprint for future trade ties at a fractious summit in the Austrian city of Salzburg.

May's plan seeks to keep the U.K. in the EU's vast single market for goods but not for services, in order to ensure free trade with the bloc and an open border between the U.K.'s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. But EU officials say that amounts to unacceptable "cherry-picking" of elements of membership in the bloc without accepting all the costs and responsibilities.

The Salzburg rebuff left May under siege from Brexit-supporting Conservatives, who want her to seek a looser relationship based on a bare-bones free trade agreement that would leave Britain free to strike new deals around the world.

For now, May is sticking by her plan. After a meeting of her divided Cabinet on Monday, May's Downing St. office said hers is "the only plan on the table ... and she remains confident of securing a deal with the EU."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Tuesday that time is tight. An EU summit next month is seen as a make-or-break moment for a Brexit deal.

Speaking in Berlin, Merkel said there were "six to eight weeks of very hard work in front of us in which we must take the political decisions."

"Of course, to a significant extent, this also depends on what Britain really wants — the discussion isn't so clear here," she said.

Ms May is sticking to her plan for cooperation with the EU, but European leaders says it won’t work.
Source: 1 NEWS


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Bill Cosby's day of reckoning arrives

Facing the possibility of prison at 81, Bill Cosby arrived at a suburban Philadelphia courthouse Tuesday to learn his punishment for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman over a decade ago in what led to the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era.

Prosecutors on Monday asked a judge to give the comedian five to 10 years behind bars, while his lawyers asked for house arrest, saying the legally blind Cosby is too old and helpless to do time in prison.

Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said the former TV star planned to remain silent when given the opportunity to address the court. Cosby did not testify at either of his two trials.

The once-beloved entertainer dubbed America's Dad for his role as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the top-ranked, 1980s-era "Cosby Show" faced anywhere from probation to 10 years in prison for violating Temple University women's basketball administrator Andrea Constand at his estate near Philadelphia in 2004.

In the years since Constand first went to authorities in 2005, more than 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, though none of those claims have led to criminal charges.

Tuesday's sentencing was a reckoning accusers and prosecutors said was decades in the making.

"The victims cannot be un-raped. Unfortunately, all we can do is hold the perpetrator accountable," said Gianna Constand, the victim's mother, who testified Monday that her daughter's buoyant personality was forever changed after the attack.

The hearing was set to conclude Tuesday after testimony from a defense psychologist who says Cosby is no longer a danger, given his age, and should not be branded a "sexually violent predator."

Defense lawyer Joseph Green Jr. urged the judge ignore the protests and activism surrounding the case and send Cosby home.

"The suggestion that Mr. Cosby is dangerous is not supported by anything other than the frenzy," Green said as demonstrators gathered outside the courthouse.

Being labeled a sexually violent predator would make Cosby subject to mandatory lifetime counseling and community notification of his whereabouts.

On Monday, Kristen Dudley, a psychologist for the state of Pennsylvania, testified that Cosby fits the criteria for a sexually violent predator, showing signs of a mental disorder that involves an uncontrollable urge to have nonconsensual sex with young women.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said Cosby would no doubt commit similar crimes if given the chance, warning that the former TV star seemingly gets a sexual thrill out of slipping women drugs and assaulting them.

"To say that he's too old to do that — to say that he should get a pass, because it's taken this long to catch up to what he's done?" Steele said, his voice rising. "What they're asking for is a 'get out of jail free' card."

Cosby, he said, has shown repeatedly that he feels no remorse over his actions. And he said the sentence should send a message.

"Despite bullying tactics, despite PR teams and other folks trying to change the optics, as one lawyer for the defense put it, the bottom line is that nobody's above the law. Nobody," the district attorney said.

After testifying for several hours at two trials, the first of which ended in a hung jury, Constand spoke in court Monday for just two minutes.

"The jury heard me. Mr. Cosby heard me. Now all I am asking for is justice as the court sees fit," said Andrea Constand, who submitted a much longer victim-impact statement that wasn't read in court.

The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, which Constand and other accusers have done.

Cosby's side didn't call any character witnesses, and his wife of 54 years, Camille, was not in court Monday.

Cosby became the first black actor to star in a prime-time TV show, "I Spy," in 1965. He remained a Hollywood A-lister for much of the next half-century.

The proceedings took place as another extraordinary #MeToo drama continued to unfold on Capitol Hill, where Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces allegations of sexual misconduct from more than three decades ago.

Bill Cosby Source: Associated Press


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Victoria University student told she couldn’t return to hostel after she tried to kill herself

Warning: This story discusses details of assault and suicide that may be triggering.

A first-year Victoria University student was evicted from her hostel the day after she tried to commit suicide.

Dani tried to end her life in October 2017 at Cumberland House, in Wellington.

Her father flew down from Tauranga to be with her.

Hours after being discharged from hospital the next day, the hall manager told her she could not stay because of health and safety reasons.

"Me and dad went back to the hall and the hall manager asked to meet with us. She did the whole mandatory 'are you okay' thing, but was then like 'okay, you can't stay here, we don't want you to stay here'".

"I understood it as there were exams going on which were stressful, obviously a lot of gossip, but my dad asked 'whose health and safety are we talking about here?'."

In a statement Victoria University Student and Campus Living Director Rainsforth Dix said the hall environment was not conducive to Dani's recovery.

"The University has to weigh up the rights of individuals against the collective good of the hall community and the potential impact on other students," she said.

"In this case, following an incident, the Head of Hall met with the student and a parent. They were told that after a critical incident, the counselling service recommends a period of respite before returning to the hall.

"They were also advised that in this case, the hall environment was not considered conducive to the student's recovery."

The hall also kept the remaining weeks of her rent which she had paid in advance.

After her father emailed university management, the money was refunded.

"That was only because my dad pushed. They were willing to keep my money that I'd paid up until November 18. They run it as a business."

Accepting a place at Cumberland House in October 2016, she filled out all the paperwork - including disclosing under the medical conditions section - that she had been clinically diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, depression and anxiety.

Dani said the hall staff and Residential Assistants were ill-equipped to deal with the "real and gritty" issues she had faced.

At the start of 2017, a few weeks after she moved in, she was sexually assaulted.

A short time after that she requested a room change due to a falling out with her roommate.

She was moved three doors down from the person who had assaulted her at the start of the year.

Some months passed and Dani started dating another student; shortly after she became pregnant, and miscarried.

"I had to go through this experience on a really gross student hall bathroom floor, it wasn't fun. And I didn't feel that I could go to any of the staff and be like - 'hey this has just happened, what do I do'."

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson said evicting someone because they have had a mental health crisis was not appropriate.

He said people under 25 were the age group that experienced the highest levels of psychological distress and that the highest rate of suicide in New Zealand was among those aged between 15 and 24.

He said the eviction likely caused significant distress at a time when Dani needed kindness and understanding.

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

By Emma Hatton

rnz.co.nz

Dani had a tough first-year at University. Source: rnz.co.nz


Iran video threatens missile strikes on UAE, Saudi Arabia

A semi-official news agency in Iran believed to be close to the country's hard-line Revolutionary Guard has published a video threatening the capitals of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with missile attacks.

The Fars news agency tweeted and then later deleted the video today, just days after the weekend attack on an Iranian military parade that killed at least 25 people and wounded over 60.

The video shows file footage of previous ballistic missile attacks by the Guard, then shows a graphic of a sniper rifle scope homing in on UAE's capital, Abu Dhabi, and also on Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The video also threatens Israel.

Iranian officials have blamed regional Sunni Arab countries for backing the Arab separatists they say carried out Saturday's attack in Ahvaz.

TEHRAN, IRAN, may 13, 2018: Iranian missiles outside the Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense Museum, Tehran
Iranian missiles outside the Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense Museum, Tehran. Source: istock.com