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Nelson Wharf Picket – Masterton Toddler Murder – Petrol Prices – Galapagos Oil Spill – PM Visits Ratana – E-Sale Babies – Heavy School Packs

NELSON WHARF PICKET: This evening the Labour Department announced that mediation has been agreed in the dispute on Nelson waterfront over the loading of logs. This morning police formed a flying wedge to help workers onto the port. Police claimed that picketers were drunk. Green MP Keith Locke says he will be asking for an apology for the slander. Police are standing by their claims. “We could smell liquor on the breaths of picketers.” The workers working on the loading say they have faced intimidation including tyre slashing. The Union says it knows nothing of any intimidation. The Union says it will be back on the picket-line tonight in spite of the mediation.

MASTERTON TODDLER MURDER: A 23-year-old man has been charged with the murder of a two-year-old in Masterton. The man who has name suppression was staying with family in Masterton. The mother of the toddler, Thomas, popped out for a few minutes when Thomas died. He man is an unemployed pruner.

PETROL PRICES: A price war has broken out at petrol pumps with BP calling off two cents of its price rise. BP says it is not embarrassed by the back down. Shell announced this morning a smaller 5 cent price rise. Mobil says it will continue to hold out with present prices as do Challenge and Gull. Shell claims its decision had nothing to do with BP. Motorists are pleased with the competition.

GALAPAGOS OIL SPILL: The oil spill on the Galapagos Islands is now the size of Los Angeles. Oil continues to leak from the stricken tanker Jessica. Hundreds of people gathered to help with the clean up. The Galapagos are hallowed ground for scientists. Wind and current appear to be carrying most of the spill away from land.

PM VISITS RATANA: The PM was forced to give as good as she got when she fronted up to Maori at Ratana today. The PM was accompanied by several MPs and Ministers. The message from Maori was that a “sanitised” version of Closing the Gaps is not wanted. The PM says all that has been dropped is the slogan. The PM says she will come back next year to report solid progress. Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia is under fire for his performance. He says he is experienced with working on the ground.

E-SALE BABIES: A British Court has refused to allow a Welsh couple to keep two children they bought on the internet. Mrs Kilshaw says she is going to fight the government and wants public support. The final decision on whether the children will be made wards of the court may be made in several weeks. In the meantime the children will remain with foster parents. The US based natural mother now wants the twins back.

HEAVY SCHOOL PACKS: Some children are having problems with bad backs due to heavy school bags. A UNITEC researcher is going to put research equipment inside school bags to find out how much problems heavy bags cause. Packs should be worn on both shoulders says the researcher.

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