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New Zealand Herald

Flatmate Murder – East Timor – Lotto – Ansett – Tauranga Nurses Strike – Cannabis – Internet Satire – Henare On Nats

FL:ATMATE MURDER: The families of murder victim Malcolm Beggs and the disturbed teenager who killed him with an axe are both appalled at the failure of the mental health system. They spoke yesterday of their grief at what they believe were preventable deaths. Mr Beggs' body was found in his bed at his Henderson home on Monday. He was killed while he slept. Nineteen-year-old Lachlan Alexander Jones was found in the garage, dead from carbon monoxide poisoning.

EAST TIMOR: Dili resembled a war zone last night as hundreds of anti-independence militiamen took control of the East Timorese capital, sealing off roads, setting fire to houses and laying siege to the main United Nations compound. About 100 heavily armed Indonesian riot police were firing at Aitarak militia in defence of the compound, where 300 UN officers, 60 international journalists and 500 pro-independence refugees were sheltering.

EAST TIMOR: I went up to the trouble in a rented Toyota Landcruiser and parked it down the road from the UN compound facing away from the crackle of gunfire around the corner. With other colleagues I went up to the gate of the UN main compound and looked down the road to where militia members could be seen running with long knives.

LOTTO: The head of former National Party president Geoff Thompson may be the next to roll in the Lotteries Commission pay row. Its chief executive, David Bale, resigned yesterday with a swipe at Prime Minister Jenny Shipley for criticising his $400,000-plus salary.

ANSETT: Ansett New Zealand was in disarray last night: pilots threatened with lockout were calling in sick, dozens of flights were cancelled and reservations staff were suggesting that customers try rival Air New Zealand if they wanted certainty. The travel plans of about 1000 people were disrupted yesterday when 25 of the 146 pilots called in sick and 50 flights were cancelled. Similar numbers are expected to be hit today.

TAURANGA NURSES STRIKE: Nursing groups and health officials are cooperating to deal with the nursing shortage said to be at the root of a wave of nurses' strikes at North Island hospitals. Nurses at Tauranga Hospital entered the second day of their 48-hour strike today.

CANNABIS: "At first glance it looks like mint, but it certainly smells like cannabis," said Senior Sergeant Tony Wakelin, after his staff uncovered an elaborate indoors operation where 23 plants of the alleged new variety were flourishing. The plants had been growing in soil in a shed for about six weeks and were small, but bushy. They had been well tended and fed generously with fertiliser.

INTERNET SATIRE: An Internet site mocking National MPs as a group of white, male, born-to-rule Tories who have wives as kitchenhands and mistresses for the bedroom is outraging party officials. It says Tories have more fun - "our parties always have better whisky, more Cuban cigars ... "

HENARE ON NATS: Mauri Pacific leader Tau Henare accuses National of hypocrisy, but will continue to back it despite the Government's scrapping plans to legislate before the election for tax cuts. "I am not going to spit the dummy because I couldn't get what I wanted," Mr Henare said after Prime Minister Jenny Shipley blamed excessive demands by some MPs, including Mauri Pacific's, for National's backoff.

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