New Zealand’s new abortion legislation passes first read in Parliament

WORLD NEWS New Zealand's new abortion legislation passes first read in Parliament

hidesy/iStock(LONDON) — New legislation that would decriminalize abortion in New Zealand passed its first reading in the Parliament with 94 votes to 23 Thursday.

The legislation, which was announced on Monday by the Justice Minister Andrew Little, is the first update to New Zealand’s abortion law in over 40 years.

“The biggest change is taking [abortion regulations] out of the criminal code, which is very positive,” Jackie Edmond, the chief executive of Family Planning, a New Zealand non-profit national sexual and reproductive health provider, told ABC News. “Abortion services are still managed through the Ministry of Justice, even though it’s a health service.”

Under current rules, abortion is only legal in the nation with the approval of two doctors, who must agree that continuing with a pregnancy poses a serious risk to the life or health of the mother, or in cases of incest, “mental sub normality”, or fetal abnormality. After 20 weeks of pregnancy, the criteria become stricter.

In the last 10 years, 2,566 women have been told that their request for an abortion was unjustified, according to a report from Stuff Circuit, an investigative reporting group, that obtained data from the country’s Abortion Supervisory Committee.

Introducing the new legislation on Monday, Little said, “Abortion is the only medical procedure that is still a crime in New Zealand. It’s time for this to change.”

Apart from removing abortion from the criminal code, the government’s proposal would remove the statutory test under 20 weeks, allowing women access abortion services without the need for approval.

“This Bill will modernise the laws on abortion, by removing it from the Crimes Act and bringing the law into line with many other developed countries,” Little said.

“It certainly will make [abortion] less complex and more timely, and easier to access,” said Edmond. “And women can self-refer.”

There has never been a criminal conviction under current abortion rules in New Zealand – a fact that MPs opposing the changes have brought up. But that is not the point, according to Edmond.

“It’s not that people have been prosecuted,” she said, “it’s about human rights and bodily autonomy.”

Now that it has passed its first reading in Parliament — where the vote was treated as a conscience issue, meaning Members of Parliament were not directed by their party on how to vote — it will be sent to a parliamentary Select Committee who will review the legislation and conduct consultations. After this, there will likely be a second and possibly third reading in Parliament, and the legislation is expected to be passed into law in about six months.

Decriminalizing abortion was one the Labour leader Jacinda Ardern’s campaign promises prior to her election as New Zealand prime minister in 2017. There were some delays in getting the bill to Parliament, but they’re working pretty quickly now, Edmond said.

An Ipsos poll published in June this year showed that 51 percent of New Zealanders said that abortion should be permitted whenever a woman said she needed one.

“Attitudes are changing in New Zealand,” said Edmond. “There are more women in Parliament, that’s had an impact, there are more conversations happening.”

Abortion is one of the most commonly performed gynecological procedures in New Zealand according to a January 2018 report from the Abortion Supervisory Committee, and abortion is free for most New Zealand residents.

Speaking from New York, the International Women’s Health Coalition told ABC News they strongly supported New Zealand’s proposal to decriminalize abortion.

“Access to safe and legal abortion services — including self-managed abortion — should not be criminalized or restricted,” said a spokesperson. “IWHC is hopeful that New Zealand will join the more than 30 nations that have liberalized their abortion laws since 2000.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 08 Aug 2019

Date set for Cuba Gooding Jr. sexual misconduct trial

Entertainment News  Date set for Cuba Gooding Jr. sexual misconduct trial


iStock/Pattanaphong Khuankaew(NEW YORK) — Cuba Gooding Jr.’s sexual misconduct trial will begin September 3.

A New York City judge announced the date Thursday. The Boyz n the Hood star had sought to dismiss the forcible touching case, arguing that a video of his encounter with the woman whose accusations form the substance of the charges shows he did not grab her breast.  

The judge declined to dismiss the case, writing in his opinion, “The conflicting factual allegations between the criminal court information and the defendant’s motion should be resolved at trial.”

Gooding pleaded not guilty to one misdemeanor count each of forcible touching and sexual abuse in the third degree.  The charges stem from the 51-year-old actor’s alleged groping of a woman’s breast inside Manhattan’s Magic Hour Rooftop Bar on June 9.  Gooding has denied the claim.

The complaint itself asserts Gooding “forcibly touched the sexual and other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading and abusing such person, and for the purpose of gratifying the defendant’s sexual desire; the defendant subjected another person to sexual contact without the latter’s consent.”  

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Posted On 08 Aug 2019

Yankees, White Sox to play game at ‘Field of Dreams’ in Iowa

Sports News Yankees, White Sox to play game at 'Field of Dreams' in Iowa

cmannphoto/iStock(DYERSVILLE, Iowa) — And that’s exactly what’s going to happen in 2020 as Major League Baseball announced Thursday that the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox will play a game on the site of where the classic 1989 film Field of Dreams was shot.

The American League teams will face off in Dyersville, Iowa, on Aug. 13, 2020. It’s the first ever MLB game that will be played in the Hawkeye State.

A temporary 8,000-seat ballpark will start to be constructed next week on the Dyersville farm, reports.

“As a sport that is proud of its history linking generations, Major League Baseball is excited to bring a regular season game to the site of Field of Dreams,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “We look forward to celebrating the movie’s enduring message of how baseball brings people together at this special cornfield in Iowa.”

Field of Dreams stars Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones and Amy Madigan. In the film, Costner’s character constructs a baseball field on his farm.

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson – played by Ray Liotta — and the 1919 White Sox appear from the outfield cornfields to play on the field.

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Posted On 08 Aug 2019

‘Game of Thrones’ creators ink reported $200 million overall deal with Netflix

Entertainment News  'Game of Thrones' creators ink reported $200 million overall deal with Netflix


Netflix(LOS ANGELES) — Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss have left HBO, their home for more than 10 years, and are headed to Netflix.

The duo has reportedly signed a $200 million multi-year overall film and TV deal with with the streamer, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

“We’ve had a beautiful run with HBO for more than a decade and we’re grateful to everyone there for always making us feel at home,” said Benioff and Weiss in part, in a joint statement obtained by THR.  “Netflix has built something astounding and unprecedented, and we’re honored they invited us to join them.”

“We are thrilled to welcome master storytellers David Benioff and Dan Weiss to Netflix,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos in the statement. “They are a creative force and have delighted audiences worldwide with their epic storytelling. We can’t wait to see what their imaginations will bring to our members.”

Amazon seemed to have the inside track in snatching up the duo until July, when Netflix came up with a competitive offer. Disney, with whom Benioff and Weiss are currently working on a Star Wars trilogy for the studio’s Lucasfilm division, were also in the hunt.

The pair will reportedly be credited as executive producers on any and all Game of Thrones prequel series, while declining to have any hands-on involvement.

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Posted On 08 Aug 2019

Texas couple drowns in Turks and Caicos, teen daughter survives

WORLD NEWS Texas couple drowns in Turks and Caicos, teen daughter survives

mikolajn/iStock(HOUSTON) — A Texas couple drowned in Turks and Caicos while on vacation with their teen daughter, family and friends said.

Loved ones identified Irma Barrera, 33, and Roy Perez, 38, as two of the three people who died Monday in the waters of Bambarra Beach.

“Yes…they were victims,” Victor Mendieta, a former classmate of Perez’s, told ABC News on Thursday.

Family members confirmed to ABC Houston station KTRK that Barrera and Perez died in the drowning incident.

Their 15-year-old daughter was with them at the time but she managed to survive.

The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force said three people drowned but did not release their identities. Police did say one of the victims was a 33-year-old woman.

It was not immediately clear what led to their deaths, but Police Commissioner Trevor Botting said in a statement they “got into difficulties in the waters.”

All three of their bodies have been recovered. The identity of the third victim was not known.

Two female minors were also rescued at the scene and are currently in the care of Social Welfare, police said. One of the females was related to two of the adults who died, while the other was related to the third adult, police said.

“The Turks and Caicos suffered a very human and terrible tragedy when five tourists from two families got into difficulties in the waters off Middle Caicos,” Botting said.

Family members are trying to bring Barrer’s and Perez’s daughter back home, they told KTRK.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help fund embalming of the couple’s bodies for a return to the states. As of Thursday morning, it had raised $21,525 out of its $50,000 goal.

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Posted On 08 Aug 2019

Danny Trejo rescues special needs child from overturned car after L.A. car accident

Entertainment News  Danny Trejo rescues special needs child from overturned car after L.A. car accident


Disney Channel/Image Group LA(LOS ANGELES) —  While he spent his career playing tough guys on the big and small screen, Machete series star Danny Trejo showed his tender side Wednesday, when he crawled into a flipped-over car, and helped rescue a special needs child who was trapped inside. 

KABC-TV reports that Trejo, 75, happened to be in the area when two cars collided in Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon, after one car ran a red light and smashed into the one the child’s grandmother was driving, which rolled over from the impact.

Trejo crawled into the overturned wreckage from one side, but couldn’t unfasten the kid’s car set, which the actor said undoubtedly saved the boy’s life. Another good Samaritan crawled in from the other side and unlocked the buckles, allowing Trejo to pull the child to safety.

Meanwhile, firefighters had to use equipment to free the boy’s grandmother.

Trejo, who works with special needs children, said he kept the child distracted while the rescuers did their work. “I kept facing him away from the accident,” the actor and entrepreneur noted.

“He was panicked,” Trejo said, explaining how he got the boy out of the wreckage. “I said, ‘OK we have to use our superpowers.’ So he screamed ‘superpowers’ and we started yelling ‘superpowers.’ I said, ‘Do this, with the muscles.’ He said ‘muscles.'”

Neither occupants were seriously hurt.

Trejo summed up his actions to the ABC News affiliate, “Everything good that has happened to me has happened as a direct result of helping someone else. Everything. It’s how I live my life.”

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Posted On 08 Aug 2019

Here’s how ‘Empire’ will address Jussie Smollett’s absence in the final season

Entertainment News  Here's how 'Empire' will address Jussie Smollett's absence in the final season


Chuck Hodes/Fox Broadcasting Co.(NEW YORK) — We now know how Empire will deal with the departure of Jussie Smollett’s character, Jamal, from the series, following accusations the actor staged a hate crime against himself back in January.

“He’s on his honeymoon! [Show co-creator] Lee [Daniels] has spoken a lot about this situation and this story will reflect it,” Charlie Collier, CEO of Fox Entertainment, said Wednesday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, mirroring Daniels’ comments that Smollett won’t be returning. 

“You’ll see pictures of him in the background. He’s on his honeymoon in the storyline. Lee and the team have talked a lot about what they’re going to do, and there are some surprises at the beginning of this season that you’re going to love. And I really think Empire is going to go out just on a high.”

Daniels announced back in June that Smollett would not return for the show’s sixth and final season, premiering September 24.

Smollett was indicted on 16 counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report, though all charges were eventually dropped. That decision is currently being reviewed by a special prosecutor, including the actions of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, whose office dropped the charges.

21st Century Fox, which produces Empire, is now a part of Disney, ABC’s parent company.

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Posted On 08 Aug 2019

UN: 25% of Earth’s ice-free land subject to ‘human-induced degradation’

WORLD NEWS UN: 25% of Earth's ice-free land subject to 'human-induced degradation'

krungchingpixs/iStock(NEW YORK) — About one-quarter of all non-ice land on the planet has been subjected to “human-induced degradation,” with soil eroding up to 100 times faster than it forms and many natural resources being exploited at rates never before seen, according to the United Nations.

“Climate change exacerbates land degradation, particularly in low-lying coastal areas, river deltas, drylands and in permafrost areas,” according to a summary of a report released Thursday by the International Panel on Climate Change. “Over the period 1961-2013, the annual area of drylands in drought has increased, on average by slightly more than 1% per year.”

People in southern and eastern Asia, northern Africa and the Middle East likely will bear the brunt of the effects from continued depletion of vital water and land resources, according to the summary.

The report is part of a series the U.N. plans to produce on climate change in the buildup to a climate summit next month in New York.

Zeke Hausfather, an analyst will the non-profit research group Berkeley Earth, said it’s important to look at the impact of climate change on land separately from global averages because that will affect people the most.

“The whole world has warmed by about 1.1 degrees Celsius, 2 degrees Fahrenheit, from the pre-industrial period, but if you look at the land areas they warm about 50% faster,” he told ABC News, adding that the difference is partly because oceans have more capacity to absorb heat.

Berkeley Earth’s analysis of land-surface temperatures over the last 250 years have found that those temperatures have increased about 1.5 degrees Celsius in the same time period, with about 0.9 degrees of that occurring in the last 50 years.

He said warming in the Arctic or Alaska would be better indicators of the impact of warmer temperatures on land, where, he said, some areas have seen average increases as high as 3 or 4 degrees Celsius. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced this week said the temperatures in Alaska this July were the highest on record, almost 5.5 degrees hotter than the average summer month.

Hausfather said that while most of the focus in the U.S. tends to be on domestic impacts of climate change, it’s the countries that contribute less greenhouse gases that are the most impacted by the warming climate through drought, increased heat stress or flooding from sea-level rise.

“One of the big challenges of climate change is the many ways the people who are least responsible for climate change are the most affected,” he said. “You can build a sea wall around Manhattan — it’s a lot harder to build one in Bangladesh.”

Previous reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have raised concerns about the world’s progress to meet the goal set in the Paris Agreement to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius. A report released by the panel of hundreds of scientists last year has often been cited for warning that greenhouse gas emissions need to be drastically reduced as quickly as possible to limit warming from reaching levels where the effects could become “irreversible.”

The last five years have been the warmest in recorded history, according to NOAA.

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Posted On 08 Aug 2019