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New Zealand Herald

Killer Mites - Cricket Fixing:- Bottrill Inquiry - Rotorua Murder - Shrapnel Chin - DNA Sample - Kidnapper Hunted - NZ’s Severe Sentencing - Samoan Murders - NZ Driver - Tax Rates - Goff On Indonesia - Utility Money - Motorway Support

KILLER MITES: A honey bee mite threatening New Zealand's billion-dollar horticulture industry has almost certainly spread to the South Island. The mite, which can wipe out whole colonies of bees in a few years, was discovered on Tuesday in the hives of an amateur beekeeper in South Auckland.

CRICKET FIXING:The International Cricket Council has reacted to the worst scandal in the sport's history by launching a full inquiry into the match-fixing scandal that has rocked the "gentleman's game." ICC president Jagmohan Dalmiya has told the South Africans they must conduct a swift inquiry into the controversy which led to the sacking of popular captain Hansie Cronje.

BOTTRILL INQUIRY: Recommendations from a powerful think-tank investigating a cervical screening programme were ignored, a top health official has told the Gisborne cancer inquiry. Dr Bob Boyd, the Ministry of Health's chief medical adviser (safety and regulatory), told the hearing yesterday that in 1989 a working party had recommended an "executive" body with decision-making and financial powers be formed to run a national screening programme.

ROTORUA MURDER: A 30-year-old man appeared in the Rotorua District Court yesterday charged with murder after the fatal stabbing of a woman at her home. The slain woman has been identified as Joanna Elizabeth Monk, aged 55.

SHRAPNEL CHIN: One year on, a Tauranga teenager wounded in a freak shotgun discharge in a busy city street still has shrapnel embedded in her chin. The then heavily pregnant bystander, 17-year-old Chanel Sullivan, was struck in the face when a loaded gun handed over by a Tauranga arms officer unexpectedly went off as its owner was putting it into his ute.

DNA SAMPLE: Lawyers for two men charged over the armed holdup of the Pukekohe TAB claim scientists botched their forensic tests and wrongly labelled a DNA sample. One of two forensic experts alleged to have made the blunders, Simon Walsh, also led an earlier probe in Wellington believed to have been marred by a mistake, the Auckland District Court heard late yesterday.

KIDNAPPER HUNTED: A man hunted by police for trying to abduct two young children in Northland may have struck the week before in the Bay of Plenty. Police in Whakatane want to question a man for hotel fraud and alleged sexual offences on children.

NZ’S SEVERE SENTENCING: A senior judge has spoken out on sentencing, defending the Judiciary's record of dealing with violent offenders and rejecting calls for longer prison terms. Judge Ron Young, the Chief District Court Judge, produced statistics yesterday showing New Zealand courts were already severe in their sentencing and said handing out longer sentences would not work.

SAMOAN MURDERS: A panel of assessors will resume deliberations this morning to decide the fate of two men accused of plotting to murder Samoan Public Works Minister Luagalau Levaula Kamu. Women's Affairs Minister Leafa Vitale, aged 54, and former Communications Minister Toi Aukuso Cain, 68, have been on trial for the murder of Auckland University-educated Luagalau at a political function last July 16.

NZ DRIVER: A New Zealand lawyer and company manager drank alcohol at a business lunch in New Zealand, had more drinks on a seven-hour flight from Auckland to Western Australia, then began a 270km drive which ended in the death of a 19-year-old woman. He has jailed in Perth this week for two years, after admitting dangerous driving causing death and drink driving.

TAX RATES: The Government plans to lower the 33c tax rate on business when the country's coffers are healthy enough, says the Minister of Finance, Michael Cullen. "We would like to reduce it as fiscal conditions permit, although we do not anticipate that will be possible within this parliamentary term," he said in notes for a speech to an Asia Society lunch in Hong Kong.

GOFF ON INDONESIA: Foreign Minister Phil Goff last night urged Indonesia to deal with those responsible for the violent deaths that followed East Timor's vote for independence. "Effective action by Indonesia would reduce the need to set up an International War Crimes Tribunal," Mr Goff told the Institute of International Relations in his first major speech on foreign affairs.

UTILITY MONEY:The first cracks are appearing in Auckland's unity on using $950 million of public assets to unchoke roads and improve waterways. Auckland City has broken ranks from other councils by calling for public transport projects to be made the number one priority with the kitty from Infrastructure Auckland.

MOTORWAY SUPPORT: Council support for an extension of the Southwestern Motorway has been put on hold while a revolutionary light-rail scheme is investigated. Transit New Zealand yesterday asked the Auckland City Council transport committee for approval to lengthen State Highway 20 from Hillsborough Rd to Richardson Rd, but was knocked back after public transport campaigners presented their Greenway light-rail project.

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