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mosque Zealand

New Zealand mosque attack victims confront gunman in courtroom – The Washington Post

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — The gunman who attacked worshipers at two New Zealand mosques last year, killing 51 people and injuring 49, faced his surviving victims and relatives of the deceased in a courtroom on Monday as harrowing new details of the killing rampage emerged.

A judge this week is determining the sentence for Brenton Tarrant, who pleaded guilty in March to dozens of counts of murder and attempted murder and one count of committing a terrorist act in connection with the March 15, 2019, massacres at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Center in Christchurch. The 29-year-old Australian had posted white-supremacist views online and live-streamed the slaughter on Facebook.

The attacks — the worst acts of violence in New Zealand’s modern history — shocked a nation accustomed to low crime rates and little history of terrorist activity, and spurred Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to tighten gun laws.

As the hearing began Monday under social distancing restrictions and with police snipers positioned on the court’s roof, prosecutor Barnaby Hawes said Tarrant had studied the mosques’ layouts and exit routes to maximize casualties and had contacted his family about his planned deeds shortly before he began his assault.

Tarrant sat impassively in the dock, his head often bowed, as details of his crimes were read out. He glanced occasionally around the courtroom but showed little reaction as survivors relived the horror.

“The gunman and I looked into each other’s eyes. . . . I was shot nine times,” said Temel Atacocugu, looking at Tarrant as he recounted the carnage at the Al Noor Mosque.

“I laid under bodies in the mosque, thinking I was going to die,” he said. “I tried to lie as still as possible when the gunman came back a second time. I could feel the blood and brains of the person above me running down my face and neck. I couldn’t move or make a sound, as the gunman would have executed me.”

Gamal Fouda, the mosque’s imam, who was delivering a sermon on the day of the attacks, said he had “lived with the nightmare” of what he witnessed, explaining how he had tried to be strong for his community despite his trauma.

“We are a peaceful and loving community who did not deserve your actions,” he told Tarrant. “If you have done anything, you have brought the world community closer with your evil actions.”

Tarrant carried six weapons with him for the assault, including rifles and semiautomatic shotguns. The youngest victim of Tarrant’s rampage was 3 years old.

Previously unreported details came to light Monday, including information from Tarrant’s interview with police after his arrest in which he described his actions as terrorist attacks motivated by his ideological beliefs. Hawes said Tarrant told investigators that he wished he had killed more people and that he intended to use incendiary devices found in his car to burn down the mosques following the massacre.

Mohammad Atta Ahmad Alayan, who was shot in the head and shoulder, recited the Muslim al-Fatiha prayer in court before weeping as he described the “devastating” news of learning, three days after the attacks, that his son Ata had died.

Maysoon Salama, Ata’s mother, asked Tarrant to look up her son’s name, so he would “know the huge loss you caused.”

“I can’t forgive you,” she told the gunman. “You thought you could break us; you failed miserably.”

But Janna Ezat said she had forgiven the man who killed her son, Hussein al-Umari.

“I weep every day for him and for my family’s loss,” she told the court. “I decided to forgive you, Mr. Tarrant, because I don’t have hate, I don’t have revenge. Hussein will never be here [again], so I have only one choice: to forgive you.”

Earlier, Judge Cameron Mander began by noting that many of the victims’ relatives had been unable to attend the hearing at the Christchurch High Court because of coronavirus restrictions, acknowledging that this had contributed to their stress. He also outlined restrictions on reporting for those registered to view proceedings either in person, in overflow courts or remotely through a live stream.

Tarrant, who changed his initial plea to guilty earlier this year, faces a maximum possible sentence of life in prison without parole. The judge is expected to hand down the sentence by Thursday.

Before the hearing, Abdul Aziz Wahabzadah, who fought off Tarrant at the Linwood Islamic Center, said in a telephone interview that it was important for him to be in court on Monday to see the attacker whom he managed to frighten away, saving lives in the process.

“He came and killed all the innocent women and children with a gun, but when his turn came [for a beating], he ran away like a coward,” Wahabzadah said.

He said he wanted to see Tarrant attempt to explain “why his life is more important than the lives of those kids.”

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Election Zealand

New Zealand Election Postponed Amid New Coronavirus Outbreak – The New York Times

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the September national election scheduled would be delayed by four weeks, citing voter safety and a lockdown in Auckland that would make it difficult to campaign.

Credit…Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Damien Cave

SYDNEY, Australia — New Zealand on Monday said it would postpone its national election by four weeks as a cluster of new coronavirus cases continued to spread through the city of Auckland despite a lockdown.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has the sole authority to determine when people cast ballots, said she had consulted with all the major parties before delaying the vote, originally scheduled for Sept. 19, to Oct. 17.

Ms. Ardern called the decision a compromise that “provides sufficient time for parties to plan around the range of circumstances we could be campaigning under, for the electoral commission to prepare and for voters to feel assured of a safe, accessible and critical election.”

She also ruled out further change. Even if the outbreak worsens, she said, “we will be sticking with the date we have.”

The shift keeps Election Day within the time frame allowed under the law — the latest possible date is Nov. 21 — but it also highlights the national concern as a cluster of at least 58 new cases frustrates investigators, clears the streets of Auckland and suspends scheduled campaign events.

Ms. Ardern’s approval ratings skyrocketed after the country’s first lockdown, in late March, led to what health officials described as the elimination of the virus and a return to life verging on normal, with crowded restaurants, stadiums and schools. Now, she faces greater scrutiny over what went wrong and how long the country will have to endure another round of restrictions.

“If it transpires that there was a considerable oversight, lax regulation or flawed implementation, that could have a very significant impact on the narrative,” said Richard Shaw, a politics professor at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand.

But, he added, “there is a deep reservoir of good will toward the prime minister,” and it is possible that the way she has handled the election delay will only bolster her chances.

“She might have just added 5 percent to her polling by making an announcement that many New Zealanders will think is reasonable, fair and sensible,” Mr. Shaw said.

He added the election delay was inevitable in part because the September date would have required the dissolution of Parliament on Monday to allow for a month of campaigning. Parliament will now be dissolved on Sept. 6.

“She needed to be seen as responding to this,” he said of Ms. Ardern. “It’s a straightforward political decision.”

New Zealand’s election is far from the first to be postponed because of the pandemic. Hong Kong cited the virus in delaying by a year a Legislative Council vote; more than a dozen U.S. states moved the date of their primaries, as did New York City. And though President Trump floated the idea of delaying the general election, he was promptly shut down by members of Congress and his own party.

In the short-term, Ms. Ardern’s delay will allow her government to focus primarily on the virus. Health officials in New Zealand are still scrambling to test thousands of workers at airports and other points of entry, along with quarantine facilities and a frozen food warehouse, to try to determine how the virus re-emerged last week after 102 days without known community transmission.

On Sunday, officials announced 12 new cases tied to the cluster of four from last Sunday. On Monday, they announced nine more.

Pressure on Ms. Ardern and her Labour Party to change the date had been building over several days. A New Zealand Herald-Kantar poll taken over the weekend showed that 60 percent of New Zealanders favored a delay.

The leaders of other major parties also argued that the Level 3 lockdown in Auckland, the country’s largest city, prevented campaigning and would have made a free and fair election impossible on the original date.

Winston Peters, the deputy prime minister and leader of the New Zealand First Party, Ms. Ardern’s coalition partner, said in a letter to Ms. Ardern last week that until the alert level dropped in Auckland, the “playing field is hopelessly compromised.”

The National Party’s leader, Judith Collins, has said that she would prefer that the election be moved to next year, which would require approval from 75 percent of Parliament.

On Monday, Ms. Collins said the focus must be on determining what led to the current outbreak “so we can be sure it won’t happen again.”

What the delay means for Ms. Ardern and her party’s prospects in the election may depend on the vicissitudes of the virus.

In the announcement on Monday, Ms. Ardern sought to portray the delay as an example of her willingness to listen to the public and make tough decisions.

“Covid is the world’s new normal,” she said. “Here in New Zealand, we are working as hard as we can to make sure our new normal disrupts our lives as little as possible.”

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Dollar Zealand

New Zealand Dollar Forecast: Kiwi in Focus as RBNZ Decision Looms – DailyFX

NEW ZEALAND DOLLAR EYES RBNZ MEETING ON DECK: NZD/USD, NZD/JPY, AUD/NZD, EUR/NZD, GBP/NZD – LEVELS TO WATCH

  • New Zealand Dollar implied volatility pushes extremes ahead of the RBNZ decision due
  • NZD/USD price action is expected to be most volatile with an overnight IV reading of 22.3%
  • The RBNZ could weigh negatively on the Kiwi if the central bank jawbones the currency lower

The New Zealand Dollar could be due for heightened market activity on Wednesday. This is judging by NZD implied volatility readings, which are extremely elevated, as FX traders gear up for a scheduled monetary policy update from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ).

RBNZ INTEREST RATE DECISION DUE 12 AUGUST 2020 AT 02:00 GMT

New Zealand Dollar Price Chart RBNZ Rate Decision August 2src2src

Chart Source: DailyFX Economic Calendar

The RBNZ interest rate decision is due Wednesday, August 12 at 02:00 GMT and a press conference spearheaded by RBNZ Governor Adrian Orr will follow. Market consensus expects the RBNZ to keep its benchmark policy interest rate unchanged at 0.25%. That said, it is possible that the Reserve Bank of New Zealand takes the opportunity to try and jawbone the Kiwi lower as they did with their prior monetary policy press statement by detailing that “appreciation of New Zealand’s exchange rate has placed further pressure on export earnings.”

NZD PRICE OUTLOOK – NEW ZEALAND DOLLAR IMPLIED VOLATILITY TRADING RANGES (OVERNIGHT)

NZD Price Chart New Zealand Dollar Forecast NZDUSD NZDJPY AUDNZD EURNZD GBPNZD Trading Ranges

As one might expect around central bank meetings, there often is a material increase in the potential for currency volatility. The upcoming RBNZ decision provides a good example of this as New Zealand Dollar overnight implied volatility readings spike to extreme highs headed into Wednesday’s interest rate decision.

NZD/USD is anticipated to be the most volatile New Zealand Dollar currency pair during tomorrow’s trading session. This is judging by NZD/USD overnight implied volatility of 22.3%, which ranks in the top 97th percentile of measurements taken over the last 5-years, and is above its 20-day average implied volatility reading of 11.6%.

Correspondingly, spot NZD/USD price action is anticipated to fluctuate within a 154-pip trading range between 0.6504-0.6658 over the next 24-hours. Statistically speaking, this options-implied trading range of technical support and resistance is estimated to contain spot price action 68% of the time.

Keep Reading: NZD/USD Outlook Hinges on RBNZ Amid Failure to Test January High

— Written by Rich Dvorak, Analyst for DailyFX.com

Connect with @RichDvorakFX on Twitter for real-time market insight

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Auckland Zealand

New Zealand city of Auckland prepares for lockdown as mystery COVID cases emerge – Reuters Africa

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealanders on Wednesday scrambled to stock up on essentials as the country’s biggest city prepared to go into lockdown again, following new cases of the coronavirus that ended a 102-day record run without any new infections.

FILE PHOTO: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks during a joint press conference held with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at Admiralty House in Sydney, Australia, February 28, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott/File Photo

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced overnight that she was shutting down Auckland after four new cases of COVID-19 were discovered in the city from the same family, despite the international borders’ being shut to foreigners and returning New Zealanders put in mandatory quarantine.

The government has said the source of the new infections was unknown so far.

Long queues were reported outside supermarkets in Auckland and across other parts of the country, as people raced to stock up on food and other essential items before the new restrictions took effect from noon.

New Zealand’s biggest city will move back into alert level-3 lockdown, which would mean people should stay away from work and school, and gatherings or more than 10 people would again be restricted. The restrictions will be in effect for three days, until Friday.

The rest of New Zealand will move into level 2, meaning social distancing measures would be applied and mass gatherings would be limited to 100 people.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins told Radio New Zealand on Wednesday that the government was considering making mask wearing mandatory for Aucklanders.

New Zealand’s successful fight against COVID-19 was hailed globally, and the Pacific island nation of 5 million was seen as one of the safest places, as the pandemic raged globally.

It marked 100 days without a domestic transmission of the coronavirus on Sunday, but warned against complacency as countries like Vietnam and Australia which once had the virus under control now battle resurgences.

Calls have grown to postpone the national election scheduled for Sept. 19, as political parties suspended campaigns due to the new restrictions.

“It’s going to be very difficult to have an election in mid-September when we are now mid-August,” opposition National Party leader Judith Collins told Newshub.

Ardern, who is seen winning comfortably, according to opinion polls, has said she has not yet considered the impact of the new restrictions on the polls.

Reporting by Praveen Menon; @

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Eliminated Zealand

How New Zealand ‘Eliminated’ Coronavirus – Forbes

TOPLINE

Due to a mixture of strict quarantine, travel restrictions and widespread testing, New Zealand has reported no new coronavirus cases for 17 days and has no active cases. The country plans to lift nearly all of its restrictions Tuesday.

New Zealand Government Considers Easing Of COVID Alert Level Restrictions

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – JUNE 08: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a post … [+] cabinet press conference at Parliament.


Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

KEY FACTS

The last community-transmitted case occurred 40 days ago and New Zealand hospitals currently have no Covid-19 cases.

Beginning Tuesday, the country will allow schools and offices to reopen with no limitations on domestic travel or gathering size, though international travel remains restricted, per CNN

“This freedom from restrictions relies though heavily on the ongoing role that our border controls will play in keeping the virus out,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a Monday press conference.”The virus will be in our world for some time to come.” 

New Zealand had one of the toughest and earliest lockdowns: With no deaths and just over 100 cases in mid-March, the country closed all non-essential businesses, schools (though children of essential workers were permitted to continue attending) and cancelled all gatherings and events. 

From March 24 to April 9 the country entered its strictest lockdown, allowing non-essential workers to only leave home for essential exercise within close proximity to their residences.

Adern also said that New Zealand has one of the highest testing rates per capita globally. 

Crucial Quote

“We are confident we have eliminated transmission of the virus in New Zealand for now, but elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort,” said Ardern on June 7.

Key Background

Under the country’s reduction to Alert Level 1, citizens are not restricted in personal movements but are encouraged to “maintain a record of where they have been” and authorities will aim to carry out rapid contact tracing of any new cases that are identified. 

Further Reading

Alert system overview (New Zealand Government)

With no active Covid-19 cases, New Zealand is lifting almost all its coronavirus restrictions (CNN)

Coronavirus Infections Are On The Rise In 21 U.S. States, With Cases Spiking In California, Arizona And North Carolina (Forbes)

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claims Zealand

New Zealand claims ‘elimination’ of coronavirus with new cases in single digits – CNN

(CNN)New Zealand claimed Monday it had “eliminated” the coronavirus as the country announced the easing of restrictions from “level four” to “level three,” with new cases in single figures.

At a news conference, New Zealand reported one new case, four “probable cases” and one new death.
Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand’s Director General of Health, said the low number “does give us confidence that we’ve achieved our goal of elimination, which — that never meant zero but it does mean we know where our cases are coming from.”
He added: “Our goal is elimination. And again, that doesn’t mean eradication but it means we get down to a small number of cases so that we are able to stamp out any cases and any outbreak that might come out.”
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the coronavirus was “currently” eliminated but that the country needed to remain alert and could still expect to continue to see new cases.
“So as we have said elimination means we may well reach zero but we may well then have small numbers of cases coming up again, that doesn’t mean we have failed, it just means that we are in the position to have that zero tolerance approach to have a very aggressive management of those cases and keep those numbers low and fading out again,” she said.
Ardern said that in the past few days, cases had been in the single digits, calling the numbers “incredible” while sending her sympathies to those who had lost loved-ones during the pandemic.
She praised the efforts of New Zealanders, saying: “It’s been nearly 5 weeks living and working in ways that just two months ago would have been impossible. But we did. And we have done it together.”
The “level three” alert that goes into effect at the start of Tuesday will allow businesses to partially reopen with some restrictions, including requiring physical distancing of two meters outside of home.
Schools are to reopen with limited capacity, and work such as manufacturing and forestry will resume, although people are encouraged to work from home unless that is not possible.
People will be able to buy takeaway food, and take part in low-risk recreational activities including swimming at the beach. Up to 10 people will be allowed to gather for weddings and funerals.
Public venues such as libraries, museums, gyms are still going to remain closed and the measures will be reassessed in two weeks on May 11.
According to Johns Hopkins University, New Zealand has a total of 1,469 confirmed novel coronavirus cases and 19 deaths.

What New Zealand did to contain the virus

New Zealand confirmed its first case of coronavirus on February 28, well over a month after the United States confirmed its first infection. On March 14, when the country had six cases, Ardern announced that anyone entering the country would need to self isolate for two weeks, which was at the time among the toughest border restrictions in the world. Foreign nationals were banned from entering the country on March 20.
On March 23 — when there were 102 confirmed cases, and no deaths — Ardern announced the country was entering “level 3” lockdown. Non-essential businesses were closed, events and gatherings canceled and schools closed to all children except those of essential workers.
Employers were told to allow working from home where possible, public transport was reserved for essential workers, and discretionary domestic air travel between regions was banned.
At midnight on March 25, New Zealand moved to the strictest level 4 lockdown, with people told not to leave home except for essential exercise near the home, while maintaining 2 meter distancing.
New Zealand also brought in widespread testing, with 123,920 carried out to date among a population of just under 5 million people. Ardern said on Monday that New Zealand had one of the highest testing rates per capita in the world, with the capacity to process up to 8,000 tests per day.
On April 9, despite a decline in cases, Ardern tightened border restrictions so that all citizens and permanent residents arriving in New Zealand were required to spend two weeks quarantined in an approved facility rather than at home.

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