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Americas Cup Yacht Loses Keel – US Elections – Bone Marrow Donors Sought – Property Relations Bill – ACC Safety Measures – Parole Bill – NSW Floods – Chalotte Church Law Suit

AMERICAS CUP YACHT LOSES KEEL: The Americas Cup yacht owned by the world’s second richest man is in trouble on the Hauraki Gulf. The Oracle lost its keel while practicing for the challenger series due to start 2003. The Oracle base radioed Coastguard for help. Oracle is crewed mainly by NZ and American sailors. The team is headed by Paul Cayard. Oracle is under tow and is expected back well after midnight. Oracle is saying they didn’t hit anything and thinks that it isn’t a big deal.

US ELECTIONS: The Florida Supreme Court has thrown Vice President Al Gore a lifeline. By unanimous vote three counties have been authorised to continue hand counts. Al Gore says democracy is the winner. Experts believe the recounts could bring the poll into Al Gores favour.

BONE DONORS SOUGHT: A plea is being made for Maori and Pacific Islander bone-marrow donors to save six young Maori and Pacific Island leukemia patients. There is a small pool of Maori and Pacific Island donors.

PROPERTY RELATIONS BILL: Parliament has voted in favour of a bill that will put defacto couples and same-sex couples on the same footing as married couples. There are nearly 240,000 people in relationships who will be affected by the new law. A common misconception driving the bill is that defacto couples have the same rights as married couples. A family lawyer says she expects the act to lead to a flurry of legal actions.

ACC SAFETY MEASURES: ACC has set up a secret unit to deal with potentially dangerous customers. It has been two years since the death of an ACC staff member at the hands of a client. The new secret unit is run from a secret location. Case-workers will only ever speak to their clients over the phone. ACC believes WINZ may adopt a similar scheme.

PAROLE BILL: The government is being accused of a go-slow over its promises to get tough on violent offenders. ACT MP Stephen Franks is hoping to introduce a private members bill that will mean that anyone who offends on parole back in jail to complete their sentence. Corrections Minister Matt Robson does not support the bill.

NSW FLOODS: Heavy rain is again falling in New South Wales where one third of the state has been declared a disaster zone. Vast areas of the state resemble inland seas. Crop damage is estimated at $700 million. The Federal Government has announced an aid package but some farmers are expected to be forced off the land.

CHARLOTTE CHURCH LAW SUIT: Charlotte Church is being taken to church by her former manager. Jonathan Challot claims he was sacked callously and out of the blue. Challot says he worked around the clock and invested his own money in promoting Church.

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