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People’s Bank – Dioxin Scare – Dennis Corrin – Israel – Vet Strike – Canterbury Fires – Boating Death – Mark Middleton – Harbour Bridge Walk – Many Tree Hill

PEOPLE’S BANK: The People’s Bank has been given a Green light by the Greens. But National leader Jenny Shipley has released part of the business plan that seems to say that if there are too many low-end customers then fees will need to be hiked. Shipley says the papers show this is not about low income NZers at all. Jim Anderton says that the release of information is selective and that even if fees are raised they will still be low. The Greens say they will support the $70 million capitalisation of the bank. Jim Anderton says his bank will be worth $500 million in a decade.

DIOXIN SCARE: Details have been leaked from a report that shows dioxin levels in NZ are unusually high. Residents of a town near New Plymouth say they have identified 21 people with multiple sclerosis all living in a small area near a chemical factory. Green MP Sue Kedgley visited the plant today to ask them to fund soil and plant tests. They said maybe. A Government report says that dioxin levels in NZ are 70 times higher than the Environment Protection Agency recommends. There is anger in the air here now.

DENNIS CORRIN: A new ray of hope for kidnapped NZer Dennis Corrin. Ecuadorean authorities have announced that a ransom agreement has been reached for the release of the Kiwi helicopter pilot and his fellow captives.

ISRAEL: Seven soldiers have been killed in Israel when a bus driver deliberately ran into a crowded bus-stop. This is the deadliest single incident since 1997. Four of the dead were women. Police monitored the getaway by helicopter and then shot the driver. The driver has worked for an Israeli company for years. 20 people were injured in the attack. There is no sign of reconciliation here. Yasser Arafat says that the attack was a response to Israeli escalations in its military operations.

VET STRIKE: Last minute talks are underway to head off a strike by 120 freezing-works vets. The meeting is expected to last several hours.

CANTERBURY FIRES: A rash of fires burning in Canterbury was caused by a sudden change in the wind as several burn-offs were underway.

BOATING DEATH: A boating accident has claimed the life of a man off the Wairarapa coast in Ngawhi bay.

MARK MIDDLETON: A nationwide protest is planned for tomorrow the day Mark Middleton will be sentenced on charges of threatening to kill murderer Paul Daly if he is released on parole. Extra security is planned around the country where 61 rallies will be held. Tomorrow is eight years to the day after a huge petition calling for tougher sentences was presented to Parliament.

HARBOUR BRIDGE WALK: A company has been awarded a contract to take tourists up the Auckland Harbour Bridge’s arches.

MANY TREE HILL: The treeless one tree hill will be planted with a grove of Totara and Pohutukawa trees. Before the replanting goes ahead there is plenty of red tape ahead.

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