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Hospital Funding – Community Services Card – Drought – Taiwan’s Champion – Phoenix Too Cute To Kill

- HOSPITAL FUNDING: The country’s major hospitals say they face an effective funding cut under next month’s budget. The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists says elective surgery, treatment and outpatient services will be affected. Michael Cullen and Annette King would not comment today, and say budget day is time to talk to the media.

- COMMUNITY SERVICES CARD: The Government is also under pressure over who should get a community services card. Opposition leader Jenny Shipley has said that it isn’t fair that beneficiaries get the card but low income workers don’t. The coalition backbenchers are privately up in arms over the decision that excluded low income workers from eligibility.

- DROUGHT: The drought in parts of the South Island is now being called the worst in a century and NIWA warns that it may not ease until spring. South Canterbury rainfall is the lowest since 1882. A total hosing ban is in force. The rural sector is under extreme pressure. There are water restriction 60 rivers in Canterbury alone.

- TAIWAN’S CHAMPION: George W. Bush has said America will defend Taiwan if China attacked, further fraying the difficult relations between the US and China and worrying Americans with his provocativeness. In explicitly saying America would defend Taiwan the President broke a pattern of ambiguity over the matter.

- PHOENIX TOO CUTE TO KILL: Britain’s foot and mouth crisis has a new focus tonight. Phoenix the calf escaped a mass cull. Officials said she must die and the slaughtermen were sent in, but the farmer’s son had become attached to the calf. Phoenix’s plight went all the way to Downing St, and Prime Minister Tony Blair ordered a pardon for the bovine baby.

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