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Waikato Player Suicide - Herald Online Technical Problems - Skyhawks For Sale - Third World Defence - Rodney Council Problems - Rugby Ancestry - Transatlantic Row Row - Executive Pay - Sausage Millionaire - Modern Apprenticeship - Whistle Blowers - Rat Plague - Paniani Trial - Not Defence Bludging - Self Drive Car - Editorial: F16 Aftermath

WAIKATO PLAYER SUICIDE: A serious concussion in a Ranfurly Shield match last year may have been the beginning of the end for an experienced Waikato player who took his life in Australia on Monday. Friends and family are stunned by the revelation that Ryan Wheeler, a top provincial player who dreamed of being an All Black, committed suicide in Sydney.

HERALD ONLINE TECHNICAL PROBLEMS: Over the past day or two, many people have been unable to access the Herald Online due to a technical problem with our web server. Our staff are working to resolve the problem as quickly as possible.

SKYHAWKS FOR SALE: The "For Sale" tag could be attached to the Air Force's Skyhawks within a year, meaning New Zealand will be left without combat aircraft much earlier than expected. The fast-track timetable emerged yesterday, just a day after the Government shot down the deal with the United States to buy 28 F-16s.

THIRD WORLD DEFENCE: New Zealand will join the ranks of the Third World if it ends up without a jet fighter force. In the developed world, only Ireland has no combat aircraft - and it is trying to obtain them. Those with no fighters include some nations of central America and some of the smaller Pacific islands to our east.

RODNEY COUNCIL PROBLEMS: Rodney District Council lurched nearer to self-destruction yesterday, after five months of strife, when Mayor Doug Armstrong and five councillors resigned. The mass resignations, unheard of in New Zealand local government history, came on the eve of a meeting to frame a reply to a ministerial inquiry that had recommended its sacking and replacement by a commission.

RUGBY ANCESTRY: KAEO - Shane Howarth's Maori stepfather has emerged as the key figure in the latest twist to the international rugby ancestry row. Howarth has been stood down after birth documents revealed none of his parents or grandparents were born in Wales.

TRANSATLANTIC ROW ROW: As relationships deteriorated in their small rowing boat during a record-shattering transatlantic crossing in 1997, Rob Hamill feared his partner, Phil Stubbs, would kill him. Things got so bad during their 41 days at seas for the 3000-nautical mile race that they were barely on speaking terms.

EXECUTIVE PAY: Whether it's the infamous tall poppy syndrome or a genuinely cash-starved business environment, research has found Kiwi senior executives are suffering from the lowest pay increases in five years. Two surveys hot off the press from Sheffield Consulting Group show the median pay increases for chief executives at 3.8 per cent and senior executives 4 per cent last year - the lowest since 1994.

SAUSAGE MILLIONAIRE: Six years ago Steve Outtrim was collecting the dole. Today at just 27 years-old he stands to be the country's richest man - worth nearly $900 million. The founder and main shareholder of Sausage Software Ltd is poised to collect the title through a merger with Solution 6, Australia's biggest supplier of accountancy software.

MODERN APPRENTICESHIP: The Government has decided to pump $5.5 million into a "Modern Apprenticeship" scheme aimed at eventually attracting more than 3000 trainees. Prime Minister Helen Clark is due to unveil the scheme in Wellington today, moving on a pledge that provoked some of the strongest applause at town meetings during the election campaign.

WHISTLE BLOWERS: Private-sector employees will have the protection of a new law if they approach outside authorities about serious wrong-doing by their bosses. Changes were lodged in Parliament yesterday to bring private companies under the powers of a law designed to shield whistle-blowers.

RAT PLAGUE: Maybe the end-is-nigh brigade are on to something, after all. First we get the plague of rats in Remmers and Epsom. Next came last Thursday morning's magnitude-four earthquake.

PANIANI TRIAL: A High Court judge aborted the Paniani murder retrial yesterday, saying that it was prejudiced by material contained in a report in the Herald. The retrial of Maurice Teina Paniani, aged 36, began on Monday after a Court of Appeal judgment. The retrial was expected to take two weeks.

NOT DEFENCE BLUDGING: We shall not bludge on the seas and the oceans, we shall not bludge on the beaches, the landing grounds, the fields, the streets, the hills. In fact, New Zealand shall never bludge.

SELF DRIVE CAR: Prime Minister Helen Clark's frugality drive starts at the top. The new crop of cabinet ministers have limited themselves to one "self-drive" car, despite being entitled to two, after an edict from their boss.

EDITORIAL: F16 AFTERMATH: There is something awry about politicians sitting around a cabinet table to decide technical elements of defence, much as cabinets of a previous era used to choose the equipment for national airlines. True, defence is a direct charge on the taxpayer and its equipment can be horrendously expensive, but questions such as those raised by the F-16 jet fighters are best left to military minds.

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