Lunchtime news wrap: Friday November 16, 2012
By Kim Choe
Tension over the Gaza Strip intensifies, piles of stolen mail are found in Arrowtown, and Ruapehu is looking more likely to erupt. Here is your lunchtime news wrap – bite-sized updates of local and international news delivered fresh every afternoon.
Gaza dispute intensifies
Israel has begun positioning tanks near its border with the Gaza Strip, raising the possibility of a ground invasion into the Palestinian territory. The development came after Palestinians fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, some aimed at the city of Tel Aviv, in retaliation for Israel’s killing of a Hamas military chief.
As casualties mount on both sides, Israel and Hamas have also launched into a fierce battle on social media, exchanging fiery tweets in a war to influence public opinion.
BP executive charged over Gulf oil spill
BP has pleaded guilty to a raft of criminal charges over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and will pay NZ$5.5b to the US government – the largest criminal penalty in US history. David Rainey, BP’s vice president of exploration in the Gulf of Mexico at the time of the 2010 oil spill, is being charged for allegedly lying to authorities during the environmental disaster. Two other BP employees have been charged with manslaughter for repeatedly disregarding warning signs leading up to the spill.
Cop shooter jailed for more than eight years
Murray Toleafoa has been jailed for eight years and three months for shooting at a policeman in Auckland in April. Toleafoa left the officer with gunshot burns when he fired the gun from a car. After more than a week on the run he was arrested in the carpark of a central city supermarket.
Thousands more stolen letters found in Arrowtown
Queenstown has suffered from an extreme case of mail getting lost in the post, allegedly due to an errant New Zealand Post contractor. Police have discovered thousands of letters, parcels and postcards at a storage facility in Arrowtown, adding to the 3,000-plus items already discovered at the contractor’s Queenstown home last week. A 32-year-old woman has been charged with theft and will appear in the Queenstown District Court next week.
Ruapehu’s alert level raised
GNS Science says an eruption at Mount Ruapehu is growing increasingly likely, due to a suspected blockage in the volcano’s vent that would increase pressure beneath the crater lake. The agency has raised its aviation alert level from green to yellow and says eruptions are more likely over the next weeks to months. Ruapehu last erupted in 2007.
Odd bite: Uruguay’s government to peddle pot?
Got the munchies? Uruguay’s government may soon become the country’s leading marijuana dealer, with a proposal before congress to create a National Cannabis Institute. It would authorise users to form clubs that were allowed to grow and stockpile pot for recreational, medical and industrial uses.