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New Zealand Herald

Plane Crash - Russian Love Triangle - Free BBQs - F16s - Rugby Jerseys - Beggs Murder - Priestly Spies - Confiscated Cars - Air Force Book - Waitani - Christine Rankin - Commissioner Doone - West Auckland Wish List

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PLANE CRASH: Three men had to be cut from the wreckage of their vintage plane after it slammed into the side of a hill yesterday near Mercer, 56km southeast of Auckland. The three were recovering in Middlemore Hospital last night; one was in a serious condition.

RUSSIAN LOVE TRIANGLE: Vladivostok poet Raissa Moroz had no idea where her husband, Boris Bainov, had got to. Then she read in a Russian newspaper that he had landed in New Zealand - with his girlfriend. Mr Bainov and Renata Pavlenko became local heroes after their 10,000km voyage from Vladivostok to New Zealand.

FREE BBQS: State house tenants could get a free backyard barbecue as a reward for keeping their properties tidy. The Government is considering rewards as a way to cut the soaring bill for damage to state homes. The repair bill has risen from $2.2 million to $9.2 million in three years.

F16S: Foreign Minister Phil Goff will wear an East Timor flak jacket today against any challenge to the Government's F-16s jet fighter rethink from his Australian counterpart, Alexander Downer. High on his agenda for his first talks with Mr Downer will be a first-hand report of strong cooperation between Anzac peacekeepers in the territory laid waste by Indonesian-backed militias.

RUGBY JERSEYS: The blue and white stripes of the new Auckland Blues Super 12 rugby jersey yesterday had critics comparing it to an English soccer team. Others were complaining about rugby-mad youngsters having to fork out $150 to buy the redesigned jersey yet still being faced with a threat that it could be changed again next year.

BEGGS MURDER: The Auckland coroner has gagged the media from publishing any details about the deaths of young Henderson man Malcolm Beggs and his teenage flatmate, Lachlan Jones, last August. The order prevents the Herald writing about how Beggs and Jones died, even though the case has been widely publicised. And it prevents the paper from naming the health professionals who treated Jones, even though the one of them has already been named in the Herald.

PRIESTLY SPIES: An international list of feared communist spies discovered by the Herald includes a second priest, in Australia. The Weekend Herald revealed that Wellington widow Elena Speranta and her husband, Father Gheorghe Speranta, who died two years ago, appear on the list of Securitate (secret police) for the former communist regime in Romania. She denies the spy allegations.

CONFISCATED CARS: Hundreds of people who have lost their cars after driving while disqualified are not bothering to reclaim them. Police are seizing record numbers of vehicles following the introduction of laws in May requiring them to seize and impound for 28 days vehicles driven by disqualified, suspended and forbidden drivers.

AIR FORCE BOOK RETURNED: The family caught in an ownership battle with the Air Force over an Ohakea base wartime visitors' book will seek legal advice after the book was taken from them at the weekend. Alan Piper, son-in-law of Dorothy Parks who had the book for 15 years, said he was "brassed off" with the way police treated her.

WAITANGI: Prime Minister Helen Clark appears to be in a no-win situation over Waitangi Day after a weekend hui failed to produce assurances that she would not be attacked if she attends celebrations at Waitangi. A personal plea by Maori Affairs Minister Dover Samuels to veteran activist Titewhai Harawira not to disrupt Waitangi Day commemorations was rejected on the grounds of kawa (protocol), leaving Helen Clark's programme in doubt.

CHRISTINE RANKIN: The future of Work and Income NZ chief Christine Rankin is on the line again this week, as she awaits a crucial report from the Government's bureaucracy watchdog. State Services Commissioner Michael Wintringham is due to report to her political master, Steve Maharey, on her handling of a secret $100,000 out-of-court settlement with a former manager, uncovered by the Herald last week.

COMMISSIONER DOONE: Police Commissioner Peter Doone yesterday denied a newspaper allegation that he advised a constable against breath-testing his partner. He says he may take legal action over the article.

WEST AUCKLAND WISH LIST: West Auckland residents are finalising a wish-list to protect the popular west coast beaches and Waitakere Ranges in the face of a growing urban population and increasing tourism. A draft West Coast Plan is the result of what began as a vision in December 1997 with the Waitakere City Council asking people who use and visit the area to decide how it should be managed.

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