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National Radio Midday Report

Unemployment Drop – Crash Investigation – Energy Payouts – Licence Plates – Sharon In Jerusalem – White House Shooting – GM Commission – GM Study – Drink Driving Charge – Computers For Kids – Maori Fisheries Meeting – Roaming Birds – GE Cows – Ebola Scare

- UNEMPLOYMENT DROP: The latest household labour force survey for the December quarter shows unemployment has dropped to5.6 per cent, the lowest rate since 1988. The September figure, which also showed a 12-year low, was viewed with scepticism by some observers. But Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey says today’s figures show a firming trend.

- CRASH INVESTIGATION: Waikato Police are preparing an apology after what they are calling an inadequate scene investigation of an accident on State Highway One in November 1999. Further investigation led to a successful prosecution last week of a Melbourne businessman involved in the crash. The prosecution happened after the son of a woman killed in the crash, and who was blamed for it, began a long campaign to clear his mother.

- ENERGY PAYOUTS: Auckland and Christchurch residents are expected to benefit from energy payments from energy companies. In Christchurch, the council is likely to use a $175m payout from the sale of one of its North Island gas works for investment and to service debt repayment. In Auckland, the Auckland Energy Consumers Trust is expected to share out a $150m dividend from lines company Vector, among ratepayers.

- LICENCE PLATES: The Land Transport Safety Authority says it is reviewing the way people use car licence plate numbers to find out about their owners. This comes after a Palmerston North man found out information about female motorists he found attractive using the LTSA database at the Post Office.

- SHARON IN JERUSALEM: Israel’s Prime Minister elect Ariel Sharon has visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall and restated his commitment to Israeli control over the city. The day saw more shots fired between Israelis and Palestinians.

- WHITE HOUSE SHOOTING: The scene at the White House is returning to normal after a shooting outside the gates while the President was inside. A man who turned up at the gates with a handgun was shot in the leg by security after a stand off.

- GM COMMISSION: The Royal Forest and Bird Society has called on the Royal Commission into Genetic Modification to protect New Zealand’s indigenous flora and fauna and to prevent the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment.

- GM STUDY: British researchers say a 10-year study of genetically modified crops show they do not pose a threat to neigbouring vegetation.

- DRINK DRIVING CHARGE: A senior Auckland police officer facing a drink-driving charge reappeared in the Auckland District Court again today. He is remanded at large and has been stood down from duties.

- COMPUTERS FOR KIDS: Laptop computers for disadvantaged students are one project planned through a Government link-up with leading technology companies announced this morning.

- MAORI FISHERIES MEETING: The Waitangi Fisheries Commission is today holding the first of several meetings aimed at settling the disputes over the allocation of Maori fishing assets.

- ROAMING BIRDS: The study of DNA of extinct birds show that early versions of the kiwi and moa may have walked here when New Zealand was part of Gondwanaland

- GE COWS: The High Court has been told that the Environmental Risk Management Authority did not take into account all possible effects when it approved a field trial of genetically engineered cows.

- EBOLA SCARE: A woman isolated in a Canada hospital because it was feared she was infected with the ebola virus now seems unlikely to have the fatal fever.

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