ミニヘッドライン 2011/12/05



Holmes Consulting Group director John Hare told the commission this morning he supported the firm's two engineers who inspected the building after the September 4 quake and declared it "safe to occupy". He repeated earlier assertions by his colleagues that the inspections were focused on assessing damage after the September quake. "What they were doing at that stage was about determining diminished capacity of the building and not the overall capacity," he said. However, commission lawyer Marcus Elliott said engineers' distinction between inspecting the building's diminished capacity and not its overall strength had been "heart-breaking" for families of the victims.




Sanford's oyster processing plant at Kaeo in Northland is to close with the loss of 66 jobs after a virus decimated young oysters destined for future harvests. Sanford managing director Eric Barratt said staff at the plant were told of the decision today. The closure affects 15 permanent employees and 51 seasonal jobs. Although the plant ceased processing last month, the fishing company said the decision to close it permanently was based on a lack of oysters to process. ''The OsHV-1 virus ... has decimated the young oysters that we were growing for harvest in the next two years,'' it said.



Building activity is at another 10-year low, with a drop in commercial building work in the September quarter while housing work was steady at an 18-year low. Building activity fell 2.3 per cent in the September quarter after adjusting for price and seasonal effects, Statistics New Zealand said. The latest quarter's fall again brings building activity to the lowest level in 10 years. A drop in non-residential building activity led to the latest quarterly fall, while residential building activity was unchanged. Residential building activity was at its lowest level in 18 years. This coincided with consents issued for new homes also hitting a near-record low earlier in 2011.



Prime Minister Mario Monti has unveiled a €30 billion (NZ$51.6b) package of austerity measures, raising taxes and increasing the pension age in a drive to shore up Italy's strained finances and stave off a crisis that threatens to overwhelm the euro zone. Packed into a single emergency decree which comes into effect before formal parliamentary approval, the measures followed growing pressure for sweeping measures to restore confidence in the euro zone's third-largest economy. Monti said the package, divided between €20b of budget measures over 2012-14 and a further €10b in measures to boost growth, was painful but necessary. As well as an end to inflation indexing for many pensioners, the measures will see the minimum pension age for both men and women raised in stages to 66 by 2018 with incentives to keep workers in employment until 70.




The New Zealand Transport Agency has written off more than $700,000 worth of debt incurred by motorists dodging payment on Auckland's Northern Gateway and hasn't taken a single toll-dodger to court. And one fine-dodger has racked up a $2650 debt, not paying for 1384 trips. To June 30, 2011, $22 million has been collected from toll-paying motorists using the road between Orewa and Puhoi, but during the same period $722,821 of debt has been wiped, according to figures released under the Official Information Act. The biggest debt is for $2654.30 which is the result of a single motorist dodging payment for 1384 trips, in three different cars, during the past two years. The next worst debt is $2608.70 for 905 trips and the third largest is $2151.70 for 677 trips since April 2010.



The man in charge of safety at the Pike River mine twice handed in his resignation after enduring extreme pressure, an inquiry has heard. "We had very little buy in into safety or to training from the engineering department. They said they didn't have any time." Earlier, Mr Couchman revealed trainee miners had voiced concerns about safety practices inside the Pike River mine. They had told him the safety procedures they learnt during their training and induction were not always practiced underground, he said.



The former chairman of Pike River Coal will front up to the Royal Commission for the first time today, as the final hearings into the disaster get under way. Meanwhile the former chief executive of the company has been criticised for refusing to appear at the Greymouth District Court hearings.



New Zealand's banking system outlook is still stable and should be supported by the slow grind out of recession, but delays to the reconstruction effort in Canterbury and the threat of another global downturn should keep the central bank's monetary settings accommodative in the coming 12 to 18 months, Moody's said in a report on the nation's banking system. The report comes just four days before Bollard reviews the official cash rate, and analysts expect he will keep the benchmark interest rate at a record-low 2.5 per cent.



Treasury has cut the growth forecasts for New Zealand's economy it gave in its pre-election update (PREFU) because of the worsening European sovereign debt crisis. "Although the outlook is still well above the indicative downside scenario outlined in PREFU, it has weakened to the extent that we now expect New Zealand's economic growth in the year ending March 2013 to be closer to 3 per cent than the 3.4 per cent we had forecast in the Pre-election Update," Treasury said.



A man has been charged with assaulting a woman using a large plastic toy car. Fijian-born Roneel Ritesh Lal is also charged with assaulting a child. Lal entered no plea when he appeared briefly in Auckland District Court today. He was arrested after the alleged assault on the woman and four-year-old child on Saturday.



Property sales in Auckland surged 23 per cent in November, according to the region's biggest real estate firm, Barfoot and Thompson. The company, releasing its November sales figures today, said that prices were up 2.5 per cent for the month, with a 18.9 per cent jump in new listings from the month before. Company managing director Peter Thompson said the top end of the market was once again extremely active, with 75 homes changing hands for $1 million or more. The turnover of 894 sales was up a third from November last year.



Workers in the Auckland region received the highest pay increases in the country this year, rising to 3.8 per cent from 2.5 per cent in 2010, according to an annual Mercer survey. The survey released today showed the national median pay rise was three per cent, picking up pace from last year's 2.5 per cent. While Wellington was consistent with the national median at three per cent, Christchurch employees had the most conservative pay increase of just two per cent, a reflection of the instability in the region.



Telstraclear customers were warned and they got what they were promised when the internet service provider lifted data traffic caps at the weekend. Residential customers were offered unmetered access to the web from 6pm Friday until last night. But they were also warned that the extra demand could mean some customers experienced slower than normal connection speeds. Sure enough, there were problems and the company sent out a tweet on Saturday saying it was sorry that some people might be experiencing intermittent or slow internet access. TeltraClear communications manager Diane Robinson said there would be some users, notably gamers, who would have been disappointed by the slow internet speeds. She could not say how much more internet had been used over the weekend, whether the promotion had been a success, or if the promotion would be run again.




For anyone who needed official word, a new study confirms that many of us - and the majority of young adults - go online for no good reason at all. The report from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project found that on any given day, 53 percent of 18 to 29 year-olds go online just to have fun or pass time. Only 12 percent of people over 65 say they went online the previous day for no particular reason. Of those aged 50 to 64, the study found 27 percent answered yes to the same question. In all, 58 percent of all adults said that they use the internet to pass time or have fun at least occasionally. Of adults who use the internet, nearly three-quarters surf the web for no reason. The survey didn't define "fun," so people could interpret it broadly. For some people, gossip blogs might be fun, for others, they're serious research.



New Zealanders are flocking to mobile broadband, connecting to the internet via their phones or computers equipped with USB dongles, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. It said New Zealand had 54.3 mobile broadband subscriptions for every 100 people during the six months to June. That ranks New Zealand 12th in the 34-nation OECD, up from 16th place six months earlier. The OECD attributed the increase to the entry of new mobile operator 2degrees. The OECD also drew attention to strong growth in fixed broadband subscriptions in New Zealand, which had the 10th fastest growth rate in the OECD over the six month period. Despite the growth, New Zealand remained ranked 17th for fixed and wireless internet subscriptions with 26 connections per 100 people, sandwiched between Japan and Austria. Fibre-optic connections accounted for 0.3 per cent of internet connections in the country and 3.3 per cent within the OECD as a whole. Fibre has become the dominant technology in Japan and Korea. The only other parts of the world where fibre accounted for more than 10 per cent of internet connections were parts of Scandinavia and Eastern Europe and in Iceland.



People are spending so much time on their smartphones and tablet computers they are starting to come down with the "high-tech blues" and suffering from gadget-induced injuries, a recent study shows. Doctors are treating people with ailments like "text neck" and "text thumb injury" and are urging people to spend less time using their tech gadgets, AFP reports. Staring at small screens and tapping tiny keys for long periods at a time causes strain injuries and can be debilitating, doctors warn. Experts say these ailments are treatable, but advise gadget lovers to keep their smartphone use to under 40 minutes a day, unless they want to get the "high-tech blues".



A Sunday drive has ended in a $3.5 million nightmare, with eight Ferraris, three Mercedes-Benzes and a Lamborghini involved in a 14-car pile-up in Japan. Police said the pile-up happened on the Chugoku Expressway in Yamaguchi Prefecture about 10.15am yesterday, with 10 people hospitalised with minor injuries. Japan's largest English language newspaper, The Daily Yomiuri, reported the crash happened on a curve of the road and one Mercedes-Benz was driving in the oncoming lane.The cars involved included at least two Ferrari F430s (one was the race-ready Scuderia, these days worth more than $400,000), two Ferrari 360 Modenas (each worth almost $200,000), two Ferrari F355s (each worth about $150,000) and a Lamborghini Diablo (one of the most expensive supercars of the 1990s and still likely worth upwards of $200,000). There was also a Nissan GT-R - the only current Japanese supercar - while the cheapest invovled in the crash was a Toyota Prius hybrid, worth closer to $20,000.



A dry spring is turning into a humid summer. WeatherWatch.co.nz reports a wet and rainy La Nina weather pattern for December. Head weather analyst Philip Duncan says just like last year, there's been a big jump in rain and humidity for dry parts of the country. He says it'll be muggy over the next few weeks, especially for northern regions.



A post-World War II epic set in Japan is set to start filming in Henderson next month. Auckland Council Investments confirmed today that US production Emperor will be filmed at Auckland Film Studios - the largest production lot in the country. The historical drama, set in 1945, follows a US army general charged with deciding whether Japan's emperor should be tried and hanged for war crimes. 



It's shaping up to be the coldest start to summer in Sydney in more than 50 years. If forecasts prove accurate - and Sydney stays below 23 degrees until Wednesday - it will be the coldest first week of summer since 1960. It's already the coldest in 44 years, John Fisher, a senior meteorologist at Weatherzone, said. In the summer of 1960, each of the first 10 days was cooler than 22 degrees. Today's forecast temperature of 18 degrees is seven below the average for this time of year. The additional chill brought by projected 30-40km/h winds will make the city feel like 11 degrees, Fisher said.



A US has received an early Christmas gift: A five-metre-tall inflatable Santa Claus stolen from his yard has been returned with US$100 (NZ$123) and a note of apology. Jason McClaren tells The Herald Times that someone returned the deflated Santa to his Unionville yard in Indiana early Saturday in a trash bag that also contained the money and note. He says the anonymous note makes it clear that the person who returned the Santa wasn't the thief who took it and two 2m-tall penguins this past week. The penguin decorations are still missing. The typed note states: "Returning your property is the right thing to do, and apologies for the thief who took it in the first place."



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