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New Zealand Herald

Election Date – No Food Guru – Reading Editorial – East Timor (Darwin) – Digital TV – Rugby Death – Youth Radio – Pie Order

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ELECTION DATE: The sprint to the ballot box to decide the last New Zealand government of the millennium has begun - and the Prime Minister cleared the election decks yesterday with a hand-shaking Auckland waterfront blitz and hints of a pre-poll trip to the Timor frontline. Within minutes of setting November 27 as the election date, Jenny Shipley hit the voters' trail beside America's Cup boats moored in the Viaduct Basin.

ELECTION DATE: So much for firing up the country with election fever. The alarm clock is back on snooze. There are still two months to go. Why did the Prime Minister showcase a special Sunday afternoon caucus meeting at the American Express NZ Cup Village - only to put the country back to sleep by announcing election day is November 27. Are Aucklanders deemed that impressionable?

ELECTION DATE: Party leaders clicked swiftly into campaign mode with the announcement yesterday of a November 27 election date. Prime Minister Jenny Shipley brushed aside polls showing a National-led coalition trailing the Labour-Alliance centre-left grouping.

NO FOOD GURU: A spiritualist who says she has not eaten for five years and whose teachings have been linked with the deaths of followers overseas is now spreading the word in Auckland. Jasmuheen - who says she lives on light and does not need food for nourishment - was lecturing in the city at the weekend as Scottish prosecutors questioned her teaching's part in the death of a woman found half-naked in bleak moorland.

READING EDITIORIAL: Books are unlikely to be a priority item in households that have to wonder where the money for the next meal will be found. Understandable as it is, there is no doubt material poverty can trigger poverty of the mind. There is an increasing danger the condition is spreading across generations. The threat is real. That is why there is a focus on the needs of those children who are deprived of access to books and a realisation of their value. The demands of homes where the weekly rent, the nightly meal and a jersey or shoes for winter quickly eat up the family income are acknowledged. Programmes like Alan Duff's Books in Homes are addressing the pressing requirement to reach children caught in such circumstances and impress on them the value of reading.

EAST TIMOR - DARWIN : "Soldiering's in your blood," Dave Benfell's mum, Eliza, told him, choking back the tears as she saw the 21-year-old off to war. "You were meant to be a soldier." Dave's dad, Gordon, had done it before him: Regular Force cadet at 16, section commander in Vietnam in 1969-70, sniper, and back in service now as a major on a three-year specialist contract and manager of the Army shooting team.

EAST TIMOR - DARWIN - The dead hand of Indonesian bureaucracy continues to frustrate efforts to send aid to the stricken population of East Timor, even as Indonesian troops prepare to pull out. Under its agreement with the United Nations, Jakarta still insists that all aid workers and journalists obtain visas from its Darwin consulate at a cost that has gone from $A40 to $A100 since the crisis began.

EAST TIMOR - DARWIN -- New Zealand infantry will almost certainly move into East Timor without the protection of armoured personnel carriers, as the massive buildup of supplies and equipment continues. Although the timing of Victor Company's deployment from Darwin remains uncertain, it is expected to leave within days. The more than 200 soldiers will operate initially as light foot infantry, equipped only with Steyr rifles and machineguns.

DIGITAL TV: Television New Zealand subsidiary BCL will spend $30 million building up its digital network, setting the stage for the free-to-air broadcasters to move into digital technology. TVNZ's board announced yesterday that it had approved the investment, which BCL's managing director, Geoff Lawson, says will bring about a six-fold increase in transmission capacity.

RUGBY DEATH: Waikato rugby is mourning the loss of a second rising star in less than a year, this time as a result of an after-match car crash. James Andrew Sweetman was killed instantly when his vehicle smashed into a steel pole on the road to Raglan just after 4 am on Saturday.

YOUTH RADIO: National is expected to announce plans today for a youth radio network and a body to raise the profile of the New Zealand music industry. Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, Treasurer Bill English and Culture and Heritage Minister Marie Hasler will make a grab for the youth vote at an Auckland recording studio.

PIE ORDER: An Auckland businessman has been ordered to pay more than $575,000 to three franchisees who bought into the "King Pie" business. In the High Court at Auckland Justice McGechan found that South African-born Dirk Reindhert Verbeek had made misleading representations and, in one case, was deceitful.

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