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Botswana Plane Crash – Ric Oram Appeal – US Death Penalty Poll – Budget Blow Out – Human Genes In Cows – Tetanus - Internet Defamation

BOTSWANA PLANE CRASH: The three NZers who died in a plane crash in Botswana have been identified. The plane was returning from the Okavanga Delta for a tourist excursion when it crashed. The cause of the accident is not known. The three NZers and one Australian were part of a safari group travelling across Southern Africa. Staff from the NZ High Commission in South Africa flew to the site of the accident today. The Okavanga Delta is considered the jewel of the Kalahari. Relatives of the dead are arriving in Botswana tonight.

RIC ORAM APPEAL: A Trade Union is warning today that a Court of Appeal decision in an employment case could have wide repercussions. Ric Oram lost his job at the NZ Herald because his front page story had the wrong picture. Oram says the system was also at fault. A union secretary says the decision is harsh. Andrew Little says it is harsh to be sacked for a single mistake. Oram says he is disappointed and is planning an early retirement in the South Island.

US DEATH PENALTY POLL: Timothy McVeigh has 13 days left alive. As he waits to be killed by the state a poll has found the majority support for the death penalty in the US is waning. 68% of people say they are concerned about the possibility of executing an innocent person. 23 audio tapes of executions have been released. In one of these the condemned man was not killed by an initial bout of electrocution, it took 19 minutes for the condemned man to die.

BUDGET BLOW OUT: The Minister of Finance announced today he has not been able to keep to his $5.9 billion spending cap for the government’s three year term. He blames the previous National government. Michael Cullen announced the budget blow out at a business lunch. National’s Bill English says Cullen has failed by his own measure and is particularly shocked that Cullen did not tell his own colleagues about his decision to extend the spending cap.

HUMAN GENES IN COWS: An experiment in which a human gene was added to a cow embryo has been declared illegal by the High Court. The Green Party says the GE calves involved in the experiment will have to be put down. The High Court has found that ERMA failed to properly follow its procedures. The experiment is designed to try to create a bio-pharmaceutical for multiple sclerosis. The Greens say the decision brings into doubt all experiments approved by ERMA.

TETANUS: The first case in 15 years of a child with tetanus (lockjaw) has been reported in Northland.

INTERNET DEFAMATION: The country’s first Internet defamation case has begun in a Palmerston North court over an email posted on an Internet list. Patrick O’Brien says he was defamed in the message sent by Alan Brown. Derogatory comments posted on the Internet have been in the news before. Two IHUG employees were sacked for comments they made.

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