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Bunkle and Hobbs Cleared – Allowances Rethink – Mercury In Fish – Petrol Price Rise – Exorcism Death – Jesse Jackson Scandal – Clinton Says Goodbye – Inauguration Day – Big Day Out

BUNKLE AND HOBBS CLEARED: The Alliance’s Phillida Bunkle and Marian Hobbs have been cleared of claiming allowances they were not entitled to. Bunkle and Hobbs say they feel vindicated by the Parliamentary Services report. The report says it was okay to receive the allowance because there was no link between the Electoral Act and the funding stream. ACT claim the report is a white wash. National whip John Carter questions the integrity of the MPs claiming the money even if they get off on a technicality. The PM says that the two minister’s integrity is intact. The PM says that the rules now need a good look at. National has referred the matter to the Auditor General.

ALLOWANCES RETHINK: The government is calling for the rules on allowances to be further examined and clarified. Two MPs, Lockwood Smith and Georgina Beyer are living in apartments in Bowen House. The Greens have a scheme to use their allowances and super contributions to pay mortgages on city apartments. Allowances for MPs are considerable. The Green scheme is likely to be examined in any review of allowances.

MERCURY IN FISH: The American Food and Drug Administration is researching mercury levels in fish and says that pregnant women should eat fish only once a week. Australian and NZ authorities are skeptical about the findings and say four serves a week is okay. They also say fish is good for you.

PETROL PRICE RISE: BP announced a 7 cent rise in petrol today blaming OPEC’s decision to cut production. Other companies have not yet matched the price rise.

EXORCISM DEATH: A pastor who performed an exorcism on a Korean woman in Auckland who then died has been charged with manslaughter. He has been remanded for psychiatric assessment.

JESSE JACKSON SCANDAL: US Politician Jesse Jackson has made a shock confession of sexual infidelity and fathering a love child. Jesse Jackson fathered the child while counseling Bill Clinton for his sexual infidelity. Jackson is a Baptist minister with five children. In a statement today he said he was sorry for his actions. The mother is an author of a book on his foreign policy initiatives. Jackson allies are planning to support him. Critics are very critical. Jesse Jackson Jr. has asked for privacy. Jackson himself is planning on taking time out to be with his family.

CLINTON SAYS GOODBYE: President Clinton has formerly said goodbye to the American people in a TV address. He says he is confident that in the years ahead the US will continue to prosper.

INAUGURATION DAY: Meanwhile it is party-time in Washington in the countdown to Inauguration Day on Jan 20th. The FBI are preparing for massive protests from anti-bush demonstrators.

BIG DAY OUT: More than 30,000 people are at the Big Day Out in Auckland and police say many people are being arrested carrying drugs. The rest of the crowd has been well behaved. Fashion is interesting and much fun is being had.

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