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New Zealand Herald

Shares Up - Foster Abuse - GE Research - Cervical Inquiry - John Campbell - Korean Turbulence - Telecom Battle - Warriors Brawl - Catholic Anger - Crazy Aunty - Conflict Of Interest? - GE Moratorium - GE Q&A

SHARES UP: New Zealand shares led a downward spiral in markets around the world yesterday, prompting a warning from Acting Prime Minister Jim Anderton that economic growth could slow. And he made it clear that he would be unimpressed if the Reserve Bank hiked interest rates tomorrow, saying: "I am confident wisdom will prevail."

FOSTER ABUSE: A 10-year-old boy placed in foster care has told of being smeared with fake chicken blood and forced to eat cow dung before being doused with petrol and set ablaze. The Otahuhu District Court heard yesterday how "Jay" (not his real name) spent two terrifying days with Josephine Auai Warren near Whitianga last year after being placed in her care by the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Agency.

GE RESEARCH: Two Auckland scientists have been suspended from their jobs while authorities investigate whether their genetic engineering research broke the law. The scientists were working at Landcare Research's Mt Albert centre, copying the DNA of endangered worms and storing them in soil bacteria.

CERVICAL INQUIRY: A senior health official giving evidence at the Gisborne inquiry has admitted that health reforms in the early 1990s could have made the national cervical screening dysfunctional. Under intensive cross-examination, Judy Glackin, Ministry of Health deputy director-general of prevention policy, agreed that a split in responsibility for the programme after the health reforms may have had a detrimental effect on how well it was run.

JOHN CAMPBELL: TV3 news presenter John Campbell has been named in the coveted role as host of Top o' the Morning. Campbell told the Herald that he was "absolutely stoked" to have been offered the position, which he will begin on May 6.

KOREAN TURBULENCE: Korean passengers smashed into overhead lockers when their New Zealand-bound airliner plummeted up to 100m during severe turbulence. Seven passengers and one crew member suffered chest, neck, back and leg injuries when the Korean Air Boeing 777 struck heavy clear-air turbulence yesterday about five hours after takeoff from Seoul.

TELECOM BATTLE: i4free has won its interim injunction hearing against Telecom, allowing it to continue providing free Internet access until the full case is heard. The chief executive of i4free, Annette Presley, said it was a great moment for New Zealand Internet users because they now had choice.

WARRIORS BRAWL: The Warriors are vowing to defend themselves vigorously at tonight's judicial hearing over incidents in their win over the Queensland Cowboys which put a cheerleader in hospital and landed seven players on charges. The match has sparked tough talking from the National Rugby League, which has ordered a major investigation after repeated video replays showed players from both sides running in to join a melee that left them, cheerleaders and a television cameraman sprawling.

CATHOLIC ANGER: Ultra-hardline Catholics want Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn to recant his qualified support for contraception or be sacked by the Pope. Most Catholics, however, appear to support the bishop, but some are not prepared to say so publicly.

CRAZY AUNTY: I was placed in the care of "Aunty" and her children, J, F, J and A. I slept in the shed with the other boys. (On October 29) Aunty said she was going to chop my head off with an axe. I was scared. Aunty told F to get the axe.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST? - A consultant employed by TVNZ to assess proposals for children's programmes makes her own independent pre-school show for the broadcaster - funded by almost $3 million of public money. Janine Morrell, executive producer for children's television at TVNZ, makes the show Bumble for TV2 through her private company, Whitebait Productions.

GE MORATORIUM: Scientists will be able to apply to the Minister for the Environment to continue genetic engineering work, despite a voluntary moratorium on the research. An agreement between the Government and the biotechnology industry would not stop applications for field trials where scientists could show the country would miss out on health, environmental or commercial benefits if the experiments were delayed until after the royal commission of inquiry into GE.

GE Q&A: 1. Who will run the Royal Commission? Former chief justice Sir Thomas Eichelbaum will chair the four-person inquiry. He has a busy year ahead - also running a solo ministerial inquiry to recommend whether or not convicted paedophile Peter Ellis should be pardoned (reporting date August 31). 2. Who else is on the inquiry? Anglican minister Rev Richard Randerson as an ethics specialist; Otago medical school lecturer Dr Jean Fleming who specialises in biochemistry, physiology and strucural biology; and Auckland general practitioner Dr Jacqueline Allan, who specialises in Maori health policy.

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