Balloon industry left to fly kite

A growing body of research charges that mass balloon releases are littering beaches, interfere with power lines and kill animals. Environmental groups aren't happy about this. Cue The Balloon Council, which was set up by those with a vested interest in balloons to be a voice against anti-balloon environmental laws. One such law brought before the New Jersey House and Senate this month is aiming to prohibit the "intentional release of balloons inflated with lighter-than-air gases". The balloon industry has had its image challenges ... In 1987 Susan and Peter Hibbard, a pair of married high-school biology teachers dissected a dead, washed-up leatherback turtle in New Jersey and determined the cause of death was a balloon in his innards. And the year a world record attempt in Cleveland, which involved releasing more than 1.5 million helium balloons, went horribly wrong. Hundreds of thousands of balloons landed in Lake Erie, hampering an unrelated search-and-rescue effort for two lost boaters, who were later found drowned. But the heavily funded PR push from The Balloon Council minimised the evidence of dying animals, declaring it "overblown". The bill so far has been unsuccessful.

Wake-up call for older listeners

Wonder how many Aucklanders will remember this one?" writes Brian Bangs. "It was played by Merv Smith at 7am every weekday morning in the early 1960s. When radio stations were local. "You're on 1ZB on your radio. And you're listening to the happy breakfast show. You've got to go to work. Isn't that a pity. The time 7 o'clock, in the Queen City."

Friends in low places

"My friend works for a hot tub company, the CEO was friends with Leslie Nielsen. This is on the wall." Photo / Supplied

Part-Maori girl first in line as succession law changes

Chalk this one up for Maoridom: a part-Maori girl, not Princess Charlotte, was the first member of the British royal family to benefit from the law change that lets females keep their place in the line of succession to the throne even when a younger brother is born. Senna Kowhai Lewis is the granddaughter of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and daughter of former Gisborne builder and shearer Gary Lewis and his wife, Lady Davina (nee Windsor). Senna, now 7, was behind her brother, Tane Mahuta Lewis, 5, in the line, but their positions were reversed when the new law came into effect, according to the latest NZ Woman's Weekly.

Video Pick

One family's encounter with distracted driving..

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