“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.” Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Zealand news

Remember my blog about the NZ woman who was accidentally murdered by her family because she was supposedly cursed? The family was finally sentenced: no jail, only community service. I am disgusted by this, but I suppose there are worse things that happen in other cultures. Still, I don't want to see it happen here. Here's the article from the NZ Herald:

The Crown will not appeal the sentences given to five people found guilty of manslaughter after a Maori curse-lifting ceremony went wrong.
Janet Moses, a 22-year-old mother of two, died in a small Wainuiomata flat in 2007 during the ceremony performed by more than 30 whanau members.
Ms Moses drowned as water was forced into her eyes and mouth in an attempt to flush out demons. (note from me: they didn't call authorities until 9 hrs after her death)
The five found criminally responsible for her death received community-based sentences on Friday prompting calls from some quarters that Justice Simon France had been too lenient.
Crown prosecutor Grant Burston told Radio New Zealand the guidelines for sentencing in manslaughter cases were not as strict as for other charges.
It was within the sentencing discretion available to the court to give the community sentences and therefore the Crown would not be appealing.
Prominent defence lawyer Barry Hart believed the sentences were lenient but would not comment on whether race had played a part in the five avoiding jail terms.
Labour MP Trevor Mallard, however, sparked debate with a post on Labour Party blog site Red Alert titled 'It would have been prison if they weren't Maori'.
When challenged on whether a death during any religious or cultural ceremony would have been treated similarly Mr Mallard cited the conviction of Luke Lee in 2001.
A woman died during an exorcism performed by Lee. She appeared to have been strangled.
The self-styled Korean pastor was sentenced to six years' jail despite his claim he was attempting to force a demon out of the woman.
Mr Mallard, who lives in Wainuiomata, told Radio New Zealand he was surprised to receive criticism from fellow politicians for commenting on a court matter.
He said both Prime Minister John Key and Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia had spoken in support of the sentences.
"Both have said it's appropriate. I don't understand why they say it's not on for me to comment but it's okay for them to support it."
Mr Hart also supported discussion of sentencings.
"It's part of the democratic process. The judge can't sit in a vacuum."
(My Jazzcat in the photo above)
A few weeks ago, hundreds of dead fish washed up on some north Auckland beaches. No cause was immediately apparent. When a few dogs died after visiting the beaches, and apparently some dolphins, people paid attention. Determining the cause has taken what seems like ages. It still isn't fully understood. The blame is being put on some sea slugs that may have fed on some dead pufferfish, which contain a deadly tetrodotoxin. The puzzle just doesn't fit. The council put up warning signs, but the total dog deaths is up to 5 now. From the New Zealand Herald:

Another dog dies on 'toxic' Auckland beach
7:38PM Thursday Aug 20, 2009
The public should continue to keep children and dogs away from beaches in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf while the source of a mystery toxic poison is investigated.
Five dogs have died and 14 fallen ill after visiting the beaches.
Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) said tetrododoxin, a potentially fatal and extremely poisonous neurotoxin found in puffer fish, has been found in dead sea slugs and the vomit of one dead dog.
The latest dog died after exercising at Stanmore Bay during the weekend.
Government scientists were investigating the death.
"We don't know the cause yet, but this new death may be linked to death and illness in other dogs," ARPHS clinical director Dr Julia Peters said.
ARPHS's advice to the public:
- Children should not be taken to Hauraki Gulf beaches;
- dogs should not be taken to the beaches;
- other visitors to the beaches should not handle any marine life;
- people should not swim at beaches, but swimming off boats is considered safe; and
- people should not collect shellfish from the beaches.
"We know that going to the beach is a favourite pastime for Aucklanders so these warnings are not made lightly," Dr Peters said.
"We understand people's frustration at this constraint on their lifestyle but our overriding concern is to protect public health."
Poisonous sea slugs were a new risk and the service was concerned for people's safety, Dr Peters said.
"If a child eats or puts one of these creatures in their mouth it could be potentially fatal."
Sea slugs live on the sea bed. They are found in shallow and deep water and may be washed up.
It was not known how the slugs collected from Narrow Neck beach had acquired the poison.
Anyone exposed to sea water or life who develops symptoms within one to two hours should seek immediate medical attention.
There are no restrictions on recreational fishing at the beaches.

This is a photo of Ruby. She is cuddled up on at least two pillows on the sofa. She and Fargo are off to the kennel on Saturday, so Darin and I can get away on a vacay to Niue (pronounced Nu-way). We just celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary! How is that possible?