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Savage Beatings – Boy Dead – Stagflation/Brain Drain – Middle East Violence

- SAVAGE BEATINGS: A 14-year-old boy was attacked in Levin, while walking to a friend’s house on Sunday. He is currently slipping in and out of consciousness in hospital, after surgery to relieve pressure on his brain – his skull was broken in the attack. Police have made an arrest for the attack, and say they are not looking for anybody else.

Nearby in Otaki, two 13-year-old girls were dragged into a block of toilets by a mob, had their noses broken and their heads smashed against a wall. Locals blame the attacks on two gangs, the Eastsiders and Westsiders. Teenagers in Otaki are unimpressed with the attacks. Others say small town boredom, exacerbated by the school holidays, is behind the attacks.

- BOY DEAD: A 5 year old boy was found dead at home in Otara today. It is believed to be another case of fatal child abuse. His mother is now in custody, charged with assault.

- STAGFLATION/BRAIN DRAIN: The Government is under attack for its handling of the economy, as well as the brain drain. An advertisement in the Herald, calling for action to stem the tide of talented young people overseas, has had the Government crying foul. They are claiming the far right is behind the ad, and say it is funded by the Business Roundtable. The Roundtable hasn’t denied funding the advertisement, they say they contributed $10,000.

Finance Minister Michael Cullen has declined to comment on Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash’s comments warning of stagflation for the economy. Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton said he thought “not much” about Mr Brash’s warning. Mr Cullen agrees that unions must not push for unsustainable wage increases, despite rising petrol prices.

- MIDDLE EAST VIOLENCE: Israeli and Palestinian leaders talked peace in Paris today, but words have failed to stop the fighting in the Middle East. A nine-year-old boy was amongst the casualties today. Hospitals are filling up fast, as are graves, as a result of the fighting. Today’s violence was on a lesser scale than the fighting in the past few days. Both sides agreed to pull back to the positions they were at eight days ago, before the latest violence erupted. Talks are set to continue in Egypt tomorrow. At one point Yasser Arafat tried to storm out of talks, but was held back by US Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

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