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Lunchtime news wrap: Monday November 19, 2012

Monday 19 Nov 2012 12:46 p.m.

By Kim Choe

The Labour Party leadership battle takes another twist, the death toll continues to climb in Gaza, and Rowan Atkinson wants Mr Bean to take a hike. Here is your lunchtime news wrap – bite-sized updates of local and international news delivered fresh every afternoon.

Cunliffe backs Shearer but faces demotion

After refusing to confirm or deny his support of David Shearer at the weekend’s Labour Party conference, David Cunliffe is today trying to put the issue behind him, telling TV3’s Firstline he would back Shearer if a vote was held in the next few weeks. But he was again non-committal about whether that support would continue through to a vote due to take place in February.

Political Editor Duncan Garner says Cunliffe’s pacifying efforts will not be enough to stave off “certain demotion”. Labour Party sources say Shearer is poised to kick Cunliffe off his front bench role as economic development spokesman.

Pike River: Two years on

Two years after the explosion that killed 29 miners, their families say they cannot yet move on. They are frustrated that the Government appears to have abandoned any attempt to recover the bodies of their loved ones, despite international experts saying they believe it is possible. A private memorial service will take place at the Pike River mine site this afternoon, with a minute’s silence at 3:45pm – the time of the explosion.

Israeli missile kills 11 Palestinians

Israel and Palestine continue to exchange fire over the Gaza Strip, with an Israeli missile killing 11 civilians when it hit a two-storey house in Gaza City. It’s the single deadliest incident in the five days of the Israeli operation, and may raise international pressure to halt the offensive.

Meanwhile Gilad Sharon, the son of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, has written an inflammatory piece in The Jerusalem Post saying Israel must “flatten all of Gaza”. Gilad Sharon says Gaza residents are not innocent, because they elected Hamas.

Flashmob haka takes over Trafalgar Square

Tourists in Trafalgar Square got more than they bargained for when a surprise haka took over the landmark. The flashmob haka phenomenon first emerged in the lead-up to the 2010 Rugby World Cup but this was the first time it had been performed in London, intriguing tourists and locals.

Rowan Atkinson is sick of Mr Bean

Is this the end of the road for the lovable, bumbling fool? British actor Rowan Atkinson says playing Mr Bean has become “childish and sad”, and he’d rather focus on more serious acting roles. Mr Bean debuted on television in the UK in 1990, running for five years and spawning two successful movies and a cartoon spinoff. His most recent appearance was a cameo at the London Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.

Odd bite: Twinkies become endangered

Urban myth has it that iconic American snacks Twinkies last forever. That’s no longer the case, with their manufacturer Hostess Brands filing for bankruptcy last week. Twinkies, Devil Dogs and Ding Dongs are all flying off the shelves in the United States – some of them heading for eBay with reserve prices in their thousands. But the panic may be premature – it’s likely Hostess will sell its brands to another company so the Twinkie can live on.

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