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National Radio Midday Report

Food Prices – School Leavers – Power Prices – Power Savings – Montana Shares – Macedonia – Suicide Bombing – School Arson – Northern Ireland – Aid Workers Held – Pacific Forum – Virus Alert – Trampers Spotted

FOOD PRICES: Food prices have risen again – Statistics New Zealand figures showed overall food prices were 5.8 per cent higher in July than in the same month last year. Growers say fruit and vegetables are still value for money, and the jump in prices for those products is largely due to low prices last year.

SCHOOL LEAVERS: Secondary school principals say poor literacy and numeracy levels in primary schools are causing one in five secondary students to leave school without any qualifications. Education Minister Trevor Mallard says falling unemployment is a major factor in students opting to leave school early to work. He says the Government is looking at ways to encourage kids to stay at school longer.

POWER PRICES: Most major power retailers say they don’t intend to follow Mercury Energy, which has told customers power price increases can come with only 48-hour notification, rather than the months notice previously.

POWER SAVINGS: Power savings are not expected to improve over the next few days as a cold snap hits the country.

MONTANA SHARES: Brewer Lion Nathan has suffered a setback in its bid to maintain control of Montana Wines, with the High Court this morning refusing to extend a deadline for Lion Nathan to sell a 19 per cent stake in Montana.

MACEDONIA: Western mediators in Macedonia say they have successfully brokered a cease-fire between Government military and Ethnic Albanian rebels.

SUICIDE BOMBING: The Radical Palestinian group Hamas has praised a suicide bombing near a Northern Israeli port which killed the bomber and injured 20 others. The Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility.

SCHOOL ARSON: Four young people appeared in the Hamilton Youth Court to face charges of arson over a fire at Hamilton High School on Saturday that destroyed a gymnasium nearing completion and is estimated to have done $5 million worth of damage.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Republicans are warning a decision to briefly suspend Northern Ireland’s power sharing assembly may have jeopardised the IRA’s commitment to disarm.

AID WORKERS HELD: Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers say that Western diplomats won’t be able to meet foreign aid workers held on charges of trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.

PACIFIC FORUM: Prime Minister Helen Clark says Pacific Island countries will be disappointed that Australian PM John Howard is not going to the pacific Forum in Nauru.

VIRUS ALERT: GPs are being urged to be more on the alert about a debilitating respiratory virus that affects small children.

TRAMPERS SPOTTED: Police say a helicopter crew have sighted a group of trampers in the Tararua Ranges near the Otaki river, that are likely to be the group reported missing from yesterday.

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