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New Zealand Herald

Todd Alllegations - Drug Lord - “Creepy” Flatmate - Hired Torchers - Brain Drain - Pill Clots - Tv3 Rugby - People’s Bank - Popular Bank - St. Stephens Fight- Defence Review - Robson’s Ideas

TODD ALLLEGATIONS: A British tabloid has a tape-recording of gold medal equestrian Mark Todd allegedly snorting cocaine with a gay lover as part of its sex and drug "sting." The Sunday Mirror last night stood by its expose claiming that Todd took cocaine at a four-star country hotel in Britain while his wife, Carolyn, was setting up a new home for the family's return to New Zealand this year.

DRUG LORD: An Auckland businessman organised a record heroin shipment while deputy chief of an Asian drug syndicate, United States detectives claim. The shipment into California organised by Hing Hung Wong totalled 486kg of heroin worth hundreds of millions of dollars, they say.

“CREEPY” FLATMATE: Henderson man Malcolm Beggs joked with his sister that his strange new flatmate might be planning to kill him, just four days before he was hacked to death with a knife and axe. Mr Beggs' feeling of foreboding was revealed in the Auckland District Court yesterday during the start of a coroner's inquest into his death and that of flatmate Lachlan Jones.

HIRED TORCHERS: A group of "torchers for hire" are behind many of the car fires plaguing Auckland and firefighters who say they are stretched to their limits are powerless to stop them. Nearly 400 cars have been set alight in Auckland this year and senior firefighters say, contrary to popular belief, they are not just the work of joyriding hoons.

BRAIN DRAIN: CANBERRA - Tasmania is poaching skilled New Zealanders in a bid to fill the key gaps left in its resurgent economy by an exodus of its own talent to Melbourne and Sydney. Capitalising on a flight of Kiwis that already has alarmed policymakers in Wellington, headhunters in Australia's smallest state are now processing a raft of applications gained after only two North Island seminars.

PILL CLOTS: Health experts fear unplanned pregnancy and abortion rates may rise after a flurry of publicity about the number of women dying from blood clots. The Family Planning Association says abortion rates rose 3 per cent last year after research was released showing nine women on the pill had died from blood clots, which begin in the legs before dislodging and making their way to the lungs.

TV3 RUGBY: The first All Black test screened on TV3 finally seems to have lured the free-to-air rugby audience enjoyed by TVNZ in the past. Friday night's 102-0 thrashing of Tonga attracted a greater audience share than last year's first test - against Western Samoa and also played on a Friday night at North Harbour Stadium - broadcast on TV One.

PEOPLE’S BANK: Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton claims a full-service state-owned bank is the best commercial option and is the one backed by New Zealand Post. The cabinet yesterday approved further planning work on two broad options for a "Kiwi Bank" run by NZ Post.

POPULAR BANK: More than 30 per cent of the adult population are likely to put money into a "people's bank," a poll completed yesterday shows. The typical customer of Jim Anderton's Kiwi Bank will be a young male earning a moderate income. But the proposed bank has potential depositors in all social groups.

ST. STEPHENS FIGHT: St Stephen's pupils keen to keep their school open could soon be taking their message around the country in an effort to boost student numbers. Parents, old boys and students devastated by the decision to close St Stephen's School in Bombay are working on ways to ensure it stays open.

DEFENCE REVIEW: The Government's long-awaited defence review delays or shelves hard decisions on re-equipping the armed forces. Yesterday's Defence Policy Framework puts a modernised Army at the core of the Defence Force, backed by reliable transport ships and troop-carrying aircraft.

ROBSON’S IDEAS: Labour is annoyed at Alliance minister Matt Robson again, this time for raising the prospects of a selective amnesty for overstayers with Pacific Islanders. And while ministers are trying to avoid the term "amnesty," officials are looking at ways that might allow selected illegal overstayers to become legal residents.

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