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Christmas Island Refugee Crisis – Auckland Murder – Air New Zealand – Gateway Shuts – NZ Herald Strike – Israel – Rafting Death – Fee Freeze – Ocker Haka

CHRISTMAS ISLAND REFUGEE CRISIS: Armed Australian troops have seized control of a Norweigian container ship after it set course for Christmas Island against ocker instructions. The boat is now in Australian territorial waters. Prime Minister John Howard said the Australian government had been left with no choice. Canberra has responded to the call for humanitarian aid with supplies of medicine and food and troops. The Norweigian ship’s officers said they were powerless in the face of huge numbers of refugees on board who threatened to jump ship if they did not sail for Christmas Island.

AUCKLAND MURDER: A car belonging to missing Auckland man Michael Coffin has been found and inspected by police. As a result the missing persons inquiry has been upgraded to a homicide inquiry. Coffin hasn’t used his cellphone or bank accounts for three weeks. Coffin’s car was found in Te Atatu. Police believe the car was dumped there last night. Michael’s family are praying for his safe return.

AIR NEW ZEALAND: The battle for Air New Zealand is dragging on with a postponement in the announcement of what are expected to be poor financial results. Details of the proposed recapitalisation are expected to take too long to meet the earlier September 4th deadline. Analyst Brian Gaynor says he thinks the result when it is finally released on September 13th could be a loss of $200 to $600 million. He says the company needs to announce a recapitalisation programme at the same time. ACT believes Singapore Airlines is the front-runner to take over Air New Zealand and that if it is successful it will be bad for the national carrier. Monday’s planned decision by Cabinet could be simply a decision in principle with no detail because of the delays.

GATEWAY SHUTS: Gateway computers has closed its sales operations in New Zealand and Australia as part of a global cut back in operations.

NZ HERALD STRIKE: Journalists from the country’s biggest newspaper the NZ Herald are walking off the job again tonight.

ISRAEL: Israeli forces have moved into the Palestinian village of Beit Jala, close to Bethlehem. Virgin Mary St has been echoing with gunfire all day. This historic Christian village has been reduced to a battle ground. The occupation of Beit Jala was intended to stop Palestinian gunmen shooting on Jerusalem. The US has called for the Israeli forces to withdraw.

RAFTING DEATH: A young rafter who drowned in rapids near Queenstown was the victim of a freak accident investigators think. The woman was trapped underneath the raft she had earlier been thrown out of. The family are traumatised as are the rafting company. There are now four investigations underway into the tragedy. At the time of the accident the Shotover River was operating at a “cruisy” level. The tragedy is the first since a spate of accidents in the mid 1990s. The Maritime Safety Authority says rafting will always be dangerous.

FEE FREEZE: With just two days to go it appears nearly all the countries tertiary institutions have accepted the Government’s offer of a 2.6% funding rise in return for a fee freeze.

OCKER HAKA: An Ocker Haka could be off before it has begun. The OKA was the brain child of an Australian radio station. It has brought complaints from several people on both sides of the Tasman. All Black fans are not impressed either. Most Maori however seem to be taking the OKA as a joke.

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