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Cop Killer – Indonesia – Drink Drive Ads – Student Loans – Labour’s Campaign – Radio Row –Reincarnation – Bendon - Editorial

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COP KILLER: The man who kicked Constable Murray Stretch to death in Mangakino had just finished a jail term for assaulting three other policemen. Carlos Namana was sentenced in August last year to 12 months in prison for punching the senior Tokoroa officers. He served six or seven months.

COP KILLER: This is the text, uncorrected, of a letter Carlos Namana wrote while he was on the run from the police after killing Constable Murray Stretch. Addressed to "Anybody," it was shown to the New Zealand Herald by a relative in Mangakino shortly before Namana was caught. A condition of our viewing the letter was that all names would be deleted before publication. My head is clear, all I can think about is my death. My intentions of killing someone never came to my mind, but the damage has been done. Alcohol just got the best of me.

INDONESIA: Riots erupted in Jakarta last night, shortly after an ailing Muslim leader was elected President by the National Assembly, dashing the hopes of the people's favourite, Megawati Sukarnoputri. In one of the worst incidents, a car exploded as more than 5000 Megawati supporters clashed with security forces who blocked them from the Assembly building.

DRINK DRIVE ADS: A Labour government would do away with gory drink-drive television adverts to focus on other traffic hazards, such as slow drivers. Speed and alcohol - targeted in the ads - contributed to only a third of the road toll, said Labour's transport spokesman, Harry Duynhoven, who released the party's transport policy yesterday.

STUDENT LOANS: National has tried to dampen criticism of the student loans scheme by bringing forward a reduction in interest rates for students who are still studying, but has stopped well short of Labour's no-interest promise. Under the changes - which students and opposition parties condemned as an election stunt - most students will from next year pay 5.7 per cent interest on their loans compared with 7 per cent now.

LABOUR’S CAMPAIGN: Labour is rethinking its tactics and injecting more negativity into its campaign after being forced onto the back foot by a series of National ploys. Rising public approval of Prime Minister Jenny Shipley since Apec, business sector groups attacking Labour's industrial relations policy and spoiling tactics by National have taken the wind out of Labour's sails.

RADIO ROW: The elders of the country's largest Maori tribe will be asked to tune out of Waitangi Day celebrations in protest at a Government decision to auction off mobile radio frequencies. And the Maori Council will go to court to stop the sale of the 2GHz radio spectrum, and plans to take the issue to the Privy Council.

REINCARNATION: The thumping in the next room sounds very much like a youngster leaping off furniture. But the two men in flowing robes don't seem to notice as they solemnly explain what is happening here. A seven-year-old New Zealand boy has been recognised as the incarnation of a high Tibetan lama who died in the 1950s. He is not just any New Zealand boy, of course, but the son of Tibetan parents living at Karma Choeling Buddhist Monastery at Kaukapakapa - and he is the first Tibetan lama to have been born in the Southern Hemisphere.

BENDON: The news of her redundancy had barely sunk in, but yesterday afternoon Bendon worker Debbie Sosich was already applying for other jobs. The Te Aroha mother-of-two is keen to beat the rush as 98 women look for work in the small Waikato town that has already lost all its other major employers, including Power New Zealand, Inland Revenue and the local catchment board.

BENDON: Bendon, the underwear company formed in New Zealand more than 50 years ago, is closing its factories with the loss of up to 390 jobs and moving its manufacturing to Asia. It had to close its factories in Te Aroha, Te Rapa and East Tamaki, it said, because it could no longer afford to produce in this country.

EDITORIAL: Until recently, Auckland's mayors were as one in wanting to improve the region's suburban train services. Negotiations with Tranz Rail over access to urban rail corridors were full of admirable purpose. Sadly, the accord didn't last; history suggests, perhaps, that it couldn't last. All it took was the mayoral forum's decision to accept Wellington's offer of a Government mediator. The Mayor of Manukau demurred. Surely, he said, this was an issue to be sorted out by Auckland's leaders. Sir Barry Curtis might have added, but naturally enough did not, that successive leaders have had a far from unblemished record in dealing with the region's woes.

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