Mum 'was drinking' before body found

Written By komlim puldel on Senin, 31 Desember 2012 | 20.01

Police believe a body recovered from Sydney Harbour is that of a 49-year-old woman who went missing from a boat overnight

A MOTHER of two was a competent swimmer but had been drinking with her family before police found her body in Sydney Harbour.

The 49-year-old mother of two from Sydney's north shore was last seen around midnight this morning on the deck of her family's 12-metre cruiser anchored about 500m offshore from Rose Bay wharf.

Police suspect the woman, her husband and their son, 14, and daughter, 12, picked the vantage point in preparation for the New Year's Eve fireworks.

The woman, who stayed on deck while her family went to sleep, had been drinking during the night, police said.

Her husband woke at 2am and raised the alarm when he could not find her on the vessel.

A search commenced with a Westpac Rescue Helicopter, two police boats and around 20 officers combing the nearby shoreline.

Police retrieved her body from under a jetty, adjacent to Catalina Restaurant at Rose Bay around 6.15am.

"We have information the lady was drinking prior to going missing," Detective Inspector Darren Schott from Marina Area Command told reporters on Monday.

"We just want to remind everyone that boating and alcohol don't mix."

A number of boats were anchored in the area but so far police do not have any witnesses who saw the woman just before she went into the water.

The Homicide Squad has been alerted to the incident, as standard practice, and police said it was too early to determine if there were any suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.

Police would not comment on how much the woman had to drink, why she stayed up late and what caused her husband to awake at 2am.

She was a competent swimmer, Det Insp Schott said, and police will know more once an initial forensic examination of the boat concludes at the scene.

The vessel will then be towed to Marine Area Command in Balmain where it will undergo a more detailed examination.

A body was found at 6.30am this morning. Police have yet to formally identify the body.

The boat has been towed to Balmain for examination.

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Future of Tinkler's stable in serious doubt

The future of Nathan Tinkler's Patinack Farm horse training stud is in doubt. Picture: Nic Walker Source: Supplied

OFFICIALS from Nathan Tinkler's Patinack Farm have hit out at reports the mining magnate's racing empire is on the brink of collapse.

Four Patinack Farm horses were scratched from Brisbane racing on Saturday, fueling speculation the embattled former billionaire was about to pull the pin on his lavish racing operation.

However, Tinkler Group spokesman Tim Allerton this afternoon told The Courier-Mail minor flooding at Patinack's Canungra base, and not financial pressure, was the reason behind Saturday's scratchings.

"There was a wash-out at the track some weeks ago and horses have not been able to train properly," he said.

"We didn't want to race horses that were only half-fit."

He said work was being done to repair the Canungra track work facility, which should be fully operational again by the end of the month.

"Until that is back up and running we will only be racing a minimum number of horses over the next few weeks," said Mr Allerton.

Nathan Tinkler's Patinack Farm base at Canungra.

Earlier, The Courier-Mail reported that racing stewards were believed to have conducted a raid on Patinack Farm's Canungra stables this morning to check on the condition of Nathan Tinkler's horses.

The raid follows the surprise scratching of Patinack's four runners at Doomben on Saturday, with Count Encosta, Boys On Tour, Reflectance and Sookie all taken out.

Speculation on the Queensland arm of the business has been growing following several below par performances in recent weeks from Patinack trained runners, which had previously been performing in superb form under the guidance of Thompson and Queensland stable manager Brett Killion.

Racing industry insiders claim the Newcastle Knights owner is set to place his Queensland operations on ice until his business empire bounces back from mounting debts.

More than 30 people are employed at Patinack's Canungra base in the Gold Coast hinterland and many are already reportedly looking for new jobs as speculation continues that Mr Tinkler's racing empire is on borrowed time.

The mogul has closed his Melbourne stables and speculation continues that Queensland will be next to go.

Patinack Farm has 15 horses listed for sale at next month's Magic Millions carnival after more than 300 were offloaded in a fire sale earlier this year.

Retail king Gerry Harvey has confirmed loaning Mr Tinkler millions of dollars.

A win to Ferment in NSW at the weekend was a rare bright spot for Patinack on the same day four horses were scratched at Doomben, sending the racing rumour mill into overdrive.

No Patinack horse has won in Brisbane for 28 starts, placing further financial strain on the business.

Patinack Farm is easily the biggest employer at Canungra, but locals say many staff have had enough.

"It's already come out that a lot of them weren't getting their super and a lot of them are looking for new jobs," a Canungra trader said.

"They can see the writing on the wall and it's been the talk of the town."

Another trader said it would be a sad end to a sorry saga if Mr Tinkler closed Canungra's Patinack operations.

"It's sad because when he set up Patinack out here everyone thought of him as a saviour who was going to drive the economy for the whole town," he said.

"But he got a lot of people offside right from the start."

Some contractors and suppliers contacted by The Courier-Mail yesterday said they were paid up to date, but others have cut their losses.

Mr Tinkler bought his Canungra holdings three years ago for a reported $28 million, but real estate agents said he would be lucky to get close to $20 million for it now.

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Baby 'Kimye' on the way

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have announced they are having a baby. Photo by Aaron Davidson/FilmMagic Source: Supplied

  • Kim Kardashian pregnant
  • Her boyfriend Kanye West announces news on stage
  • Twitter goes into meltdown over baby Kimye

KIM Kardashian apparently had "no idea" Kanye West was planning to reveal she is pregnant.

Last night the rapper announced the couple were expecting their first child during a concert in Atlantic City, while his reality TV girlfriend sat in the audience.

Everyone reacted with excitement and surprise - reportedly including Kim herself.

Sources tell TMZ that Kim had "no idea" Kanye would break the news in such a public way and the pair hadn't discussed the announcement.

The website reports the socialite had not planned to say anything until the baby bump started showing.

According to insiders, Kanye decided to tell the world they were expecting as Kim's mother, Kris Jenner, and several of his own relatives were among the 5,000-strong crowd.

Despite the element of surprise, Kim seemed happy with the announcement, crying tears of joy as one of her favourite songs, Lost in the World, played.

Since the big news is now out in the open, excited celebrities have taken to Twitter to congratulate the happy couple.

"So happy for you @KimKardashian.. Love you SO much and I'm so excited to babysit!! Miss you girly.. Once again... SO happy for you!!! Xox (sic)," Demi Lovato gushed.

Kim's family were also quick to show their elation at the news finally being made public.

Her sisters Kourtney and Khloé both revealed they are thrilled to be able to talk about the upcoming addition to the Kardashian clan, as did her mom Kris.

"Im a happy girl !!!!!!!!! Wowza! Oh BABY BABY BABY (sic)," proud grandmother-to-be Kris tweeted.

Meanwhile, Kim has used the social networking site and her blog to recount her favourite moments of 2012.

At number two on the list, she cites her surprise birthday trip to Italy, which was her gift from Kanye in October.

"An unforgettable trip!(sic)" she wrote. 

The Kardashian clan has struggled to keep the news quiet on Twitter. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

It's understood little Kimye is expected in the world some time during the US summer, as Kim is rumoured to be around 12 weeks pregnant.

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Six wannabe-cops die from fitness test

Written By komlim puldel on Minggu, 30 Desember 2012 | 20.01

Six people are believed to have died of dehydration while doing a fitness test to join the South African police force. South African police are pictured here with striking mine workers in September. Source: AP

SOME 34,000 South Africans applied for 90 trainee traffic police posts and at least six died during the recruitment fitness test.

Six applicants are thought to have died from dehydration during a KwaZulu-Natal traffic department trial at a stadium in Pietermaritzburg this week, according to reports by state broadcaster SABC news and news agency SAPA.

"More than 34,000 applicants qualified for the 90 trainee posts which were advertised," department executive council member Willies Mchunu said in a statement.

"Scores of them could not cope with the hot weather and collapsed," he said, adding many were taken to hospital.

"We regret any injuries or (loss) of lives."

Another person was reported to have committed suicide in frustration after the test, the SABC said.

South Africa's unemployment rate rose to 25.5 per cent in the third quarter of 2012, up from 24.9 per cent in the previous quarter, the government statistics agency said last month.

Unemployment is the biggest challenge facing Africa's largest economy. The rate is estimated to be close to 50 per cent when discouraged job seekers are included.

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India gang-rape victim was to marry

The body of a gang-rape victim has arrived back in New Delhi after her death sparked a wave of protests.

  • Six men face murder charges
  • Police chief calls for calm
  • Delhi city centre sealed off

THE victim of a gang-rape which triggered an outpouring of grief and anger across India has been cremated at a private ceremony in New Delhi as it emerged she was planning to get married in February.

The unidentified 23-year-old, the focus of nationwide protests since she was brutally attacked on a bus in New Delhi two weeks ago, died on Saturday of her injuries in a Singapore hospital where she had been airlifted for treatment.

She was cremated today away from the public glare only hours after her body was repatriated.

The funeral pyre was lit after traumatised relatives and friends said their final prayers at a ceremony in southwestern Delhi, according to mourners who revealed she had been due to wed her boyfriend, who was injured in the same attack.

India's treatment of women has been denounced as police charge the men accused of a gang-rape, with murder.

''They had made all the wedding preparations and had planned a wedding party in Delhi'' for February, said Meena Rai, a close friend and neighbour.

''I really loved this girl,'' she said. ''She was the brightest of all.''

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the main ruling Congress Party, were at Delhi airport to console the victim's parents as they arrived home on a chartered plane with their daughter's body at 4am (0930 AEDT) today.

Indians hold candles as they mourn the death of a gang rape victim in New Delhi, India, on Saturday. Picture: AP

The victim's death has prompted government promises of better protection for women and deep soul-searching in a nation where gang-rapes are a daily occurrence and sexual harassment is routinely dismissed as ''Eve-teasing''.

Waves of protests have erupted across India since the attack on the night of December 16 when the woman was not only repeatedly raped but also sexually assaulted with an iron bar, leaving her with terrible intestinal injuries.

Thousands took part in late-night candlelit vigils on Saturday after Singh led appeals for calm to prevent a repeat of the sometimes violent protests.

Indian police patrol outside the cremation ground in New Delhi today. Picture: AFP

As police said the six accused of murdering the unnamed woman could face the death penalty, there was a widespread determination that the killing would serve as a tipping point for how the nation deals with violence against women.

''We are aware that this is not the first case, nor will it be the last case of gang-rape in India, but it is clear that we will not tolerate sex crimes any more,'' said Bela Rana, a lawyer who joined a rally in central Delhi.

The city has been dubbed the ''rape capital'' of India.

Indians shout slogans and march on a street as they mourn the death of a gang rape victim in New Delhi, India, on Saturday. Picture: AP

A report in Sunday's Hindustan Times said more than 20 women had been raped there since December 16.

According to police and prosecutors, the murder victim's ordeal began when six men lured her and her male companion onto a bus that they thought would take them home.

Instead a group of joyriders, who had been drinking heavily, launched a savage attack lasting some 40 minutes that only ended when the victims were thrown off the bus.

An ambulance transporting the body of a gang-rape victim is seen outside her residence in New Delh.The woman's body was flown back to India after the 23-year-old died of her injuries ina Sinmgapore hospital. AFP /Sajjad Hussain

The attack has prompted intense debate among Indians who had grown almost inured to an epidemic of violence against women.

Gang-rapes are so common that they rarely get a mention in the newspapers.

Victims are often deterred even from reporting them for fear of shaming their families or receiving a brush-off from police.

Doctors say a young Indian woman who was gang-raped and severely beaten on a bus in New Delhi has died at a Singapore hospital.

The Times of India said in an editorial today that two key questions must be addressed in the aftermath of the incident: ''What exactly will the government do now to make the country a safer and better place for all women? And what will all of us do to tackle deeply entrenched prejudice and misogyny in our society?''

The government has already promised to bring in tougher sentences for the most extreme sex crimes and speed up a notoriously slow justice system.

A statement issued by United Nations spokesman Martin Nesirky said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ''offers his sincerest condolences'' to the victim's family and ''utterly condemns this brutal crime''.

An Indian police convoy escorts an ambulance transporting the body of an Indian gang-rape victim towards her residence in New Delhi after it arrived back in India from Singapore. AFP/Sajjad Hussain

''Violence against women must never be accepted, never excused, never tolerated,'' the statement said.

''Every girl and woman has the right to be respected, valued and protected.''

Ban urged the Indian government to take steps to deter such crimes and bring perpetrators to justice, and to ''strengthen critical services for rape victims'', the statement said.

Funeral workers in Singapore unload the body of the young Indian woman who died after injuries from a brutal gang-rape on a bus.

An Indian ties a black band as he arrives to attend a gathering to mourn the death of a 23-year-old gang rape victim, in Mumbai. The incident has galvanised Indians to demand an end to sexual crimes against women.

A man attends a candlelight vigil in memory of the young woman who died after being gang-raped by six men on a bus in New Delhi.

Indians lie down on the ground mimicking dead bodies as they mourn the death of a gang rape victim in New Delhi.

An Indian woman protests against the brutal gang-rape of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi.

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Lucky escape as plane debris hits car

Cars hit by plane debris, wheel, hurtling onto motorway from runway crash that claims 4 lives in Russia.

HEART-stopping video has emerged of how close one motorist came to becoming another victim of the deadly Moscow plane crash.

The incredible video shows how a casual weekend drive could have resulted in catastrophic consequences when a  passenger airliner careered off the runway at Russia's third-busiest airport while landing, broke into three pieces and caught fire, killing at least four people.

The driver's camera captures the moment the plane crashes into the highway, and you can even make out one of the plane's wheels hurtling into the vehicle in front.

The vehicles travel on the highway next to Vnukovo Airport, just seconds before the plane crashes.

After a screeching of brakes and loud impact noise, the driver casually brings the car to a halt by the side of the road.

State television news channel Vesti showed a photo of the wrecked plane's fuselage with the livery of the low-cost Russian Red Wings airline. Its nose, including the cockpit area, appeared sheared off.

The frightening moment when a large piece of debris from the doomed airliner strikes a car on a highway. Miraculously, nobody in the car was hurt.

Government officials believe the cause of the crash could be pilot error.

Witnesses said heavy gusts accompanying a light snowfall were swirling over the airport at the time the plane came in for landing on Saturday afternoon.

The car ploughs through a rain of debris as the plane crashes just metres away.

But on Sunday, a security source said investigators had brushed aside poor weather conditions or pilot error and were focusing on technical problems with the Tupolev as the most likely cause.

"According to preliminary information, the Vnukovo catastrophe may have been caused by problems with the plane, which became exposed in difficult weather conditions," the unnamed official told the Interfax news agency.

The car ploughs through a rain of debris as the plane crashes just metres away.

The Russian-made Tu-204 jet was flying in from Pardubice, in the Czech Republic after dropping off tourists and then returning to its home Moscow base with just crew on board. 

Officials said there were eight people aboard the Tu-204 belonging to Russian airline Red Wings that was flying back from the Czech Republic without passengers to its home at Vnukovo Airport.

The car comes to a halt, the driver and occupants lucky to be alive.

Emergency officials said in a televised news conference that four people were killed and another four severely injured when the plane rolled off the runway into a snowy field and partly onto an adjacent highway, then disintegrated.

Russian medics on Sunday began identifying the bodies.

Rescuers work at the site of a Red Wings Tu-204 plane that careered off the runway at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow.

Rescue workers recovered the flight recorders from the four-year-old Tu-204 late on Saturday as Russia began mourning its latest post-Soviet crash.

"The plane touched down in the proper landing area but for some reason was unable to stop on the strip," Federal Air Transport Agency chief Alexander Neradko said in televised remarks.

Moscow 24 TV airs dramatic footage of rescuers helping survivors after plane crash on highway.

The plane's impact with the highway embankment sent the severed nose sliding over the icy road while the rest of the jet rested just past the airport's fence - its tail linked to the rest of the body by only a tangle of wreckage.

The plane's cockpit area was sheared off from the fuselage and a large chunk gashed out near the tail.

A passenger jet has careered off a runway at Russia's third-busiest airport, killing at least four people.

Russian state television showed live footage of rescuers climbing into the wreck with search lights as night fell over Moscow with the plane still blocking traffic on the busy Kiev Highway.

''According to updated information, four people were killed and four more were injured,'' the interior ministry said in a statement.

Rescuers work at the site where a plane careered off the runway at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow.

A health ministry official said the four survivors were being treated for head injuries at various Moscow hospitals.

The Interfax news agency said both pilots were among the dead.

The crash occurred amid light snow and winds gusting up to 15 metres a second, but other details were not immediately known.

A spokesman for Russia's top investigative agency, Vladimir Markin, said initial indications were that pilot error was the cause.

But Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said all possible causes were being explored, including pilot error, the weather or a technical malfunction.

Several state media outlets speculated only hours after the incident that something might be wrong with the brake system of the Tu-204 planes.

The state news agency RIA Novosti cited an unidentified official at the Russian Aviation Agency as saying another Red Wings Tu-204 had gone off the runway at the international airport in Novosibirsk in Siberia on December 20.

The agency said that incident, in which no one was injured, was due to the failure of the plane's engines to go into reverse upon landing and that its brake system malfunctioned.

On Friday, the Aviation Agency sent a directive to the Tupolev company's president calling for it to take urgent preventive measures.

They cited a letter sent by the state aviation security watchdog Rosaviatsya to the jet's Tupolev maker on Friday expressing concern over last week's incident.

The manoeuvre is required for the plane to slow down quickly upon touchdown.

Czech officials stressed that the plane was in fine working order when it landed at an airport 100kmeast of Prague earlier in the day.

Vnukovo airport spokeswoman Yelena Krylova said it had enough personnel and equipment to keep the runway fully functional on Saturday.

The airport resumed receiving planes after a break of several hours.

Prior to Saturday's crash, there had been no fatal accidents reported for Tu-204s, which entered commercial service in 1995.

The plane is a twin-engine midrange jet with a capacity of about 210 passengers.

Vnukovo, on the southern outskirts of Moscow, is one of the Russian capital's three international airports.

Red Wings - which serves destinations in Russia and abroad as well as offering charter flights - is owned by Russian businessman Alexander Lebedev whose assets also include the London Evening Standard and The Independent in Britain.

Red Wings owner Lebedev said the jet had passed a meticulous check in November.

"Plane number 47 had accumulated 8500 flight hours and underwent its last serious check on November 23," Lebedev tweeted.

He also suggested that traffic controllers' initial refusal to authorise landing - requiring the plane to complete several circles over Vnukovo - might have been a contributing factor.

"All machinery has its limits, even when it is new," Lebedev wrote.

 Air safety in Russia is a major headache for the authorities following a severe deterioration in the quality of domestic services following the Soviet Union's collapse.

Officials blame most problems on pilot inexperience as well as poor maintenance by small and poorly regulated airlines that sprouted up across Russia in the past two decades.

The images of the stricken plane stranded on the motorway are a major embarrassment for Russia as it seeks to promote an image as a safe country ahead of its hosting of the 2014 Winter Olympics and 2018 World Cup.

The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin had been personally informed about the accident while Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered an investigation into its causes.

The incident also risks causing travel chaos as Russians depart from the capital in hordes for the country's lengthy New Year holidays.

Flights were diverted for several hours to Moscow's two other major airports after the crash.

The accident came days after all 27 people on board a Kazakh military jet were killed in a crash in the south of the former Soviet Central Asian state.

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Truck wedged under servo canopy

Written By komlim puldel on Sabtu, 29 Desember 2012 | 20.01

A truck has wedged itself under the canopy at a Shell petrol station at Kerrimuir. Picture: Norm Oorloff Source: Herald Sun

A TRUCKIE has chosen an unusual parking spot for his rig today, finding himself in a bit of a jam.

The driver pulled into a petrol station in Box Hill when his truck become wedged under the service station canopy.

Firefighters said they were scratching their heads as to how to get the truck out of the jam.

"Every time we move the truck backwards or forwards the canopy is moving with it," a MFB spokesman said.

A truck is stuck under the canopy at a Shell petrol station. Picture: Norm Oorloff

The truck is wedged under the roof of the Shell service station on the corner of Middleborough and Springfield roads.

A truckie got himself into a jam at a Shell service station.  Picture: Norm Oorloff

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Rapists charged with murder

Hospital staff carry the body of the Indian gang-rape victim to the police morgue vehicle at the Mount Elizabeth hospital in Singapore.

  • Six men face murder charges
  • Police chief calls for calm
  • Delhi city centre sealed off

INDIAN police charged six men with murder, after a woman who was gang-raped and beaten on a bus in New Delhi died in a Singapore hospital.

New Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said the six face the death penalty if convicted, in a case that has triggered protests across India for greater protection for women from sexual violence, and raised questions about lax attitudes by police toward sexual crimes.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was aware of the emotions the attack has stirred, adding it was up to all Indians to ensure that the young woman's death will not have been in vain.

The victim "passed away peacefully" yesterday at Mount Elizabeth hospital in Singapore with her family and officials of the Indian Embassy by her side, Dr. Kevin Loh, the chief executive of the hospital, said in a statement.

After 10 days at a hospital in New Delhi, the Indian capital, the woman was brought Thursday to Mount Elizabeth, which specialises in multi-organ transplants. 

Doctors say a young Indian woman who was gang-raped and severely beaten on a bus in New Delhi has died at a Singapore hospital.

Dr Loh said the woman had been in extremely critical condition since Thursday, and by yesterday her condition had taken a turn for the worse, with her vital signs deteriorating.

"Despite all efforts by a team of eight specialists in Mount Elizabeth hospital to keep her stable, her condition continued to deteriorate over these two days," Dr Loh said.

"She had suffered from severe organ failure following serious injuries to her body and brain. She was courageous in fighting for her life for so long against the odds, but the trauma to her body was too severe for her to overcome."

The woman and a male friend, who have not been identified, were on a bus in New Delhi after watching a film on the evening of Dec. 16 when they were attacked by six men who raped her. The men beat the couple and inserted an iron rod into the woman's body, resulting in severe organ damage. Both were then stripped and thrown off the bus, according to police.

India's high commissioner to Singapore T.C.A Raghavan speaks to journalists at the Mount Elizabeth hospital after the announcement of the death of the Indian gang-rape victim in Singapore. Picture: AFP/Roslan Rahman

Indian police have arrested six people in connection with the attack, which left the victim with severe internal injuries, a lung infection and brain damage. She also suffered from a heart attack while in the hospital in New Delhi.

Indian High Commissioner, or ambassador, T.C.A. Raghavan told reporters that the scale of the injuries the woman suffered was "very grave" and in the end "proved too much."

He said arrangements were being made to return her body to India later today.

The frightening nature of the crime shocked Indians, who have come out in the thousands for almost daily demonstrations.

The Indian gang-rape victim has died at  Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital. Picture: AFP/Roslan Rahman

As news of the victim's death reached New Delhi yesterday, hundreds of policemen sealed off the high-security India Gate area, where the seat of India's government is located, in anticipation of more protests. The area is home to the president's palace, the prime minister's office and key defence, external affairs and home ministries.

The area had seen battles between protesters and police for days after the attack.

Ten metro stations in the vicinity also were closed, Mr Bhagat said.

Police were allowing people to assemble at the Jantar Mantar and Ramlila grounds, the main areas allotted for protests in New Delhi, he said.

An Indian woman protests against the brutal gang-rape of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi.

Mourners began gathering at Jantar Mantar to express their grief and demand stronger protection for women and the death penalty for rape, which is now punishable by a maximum of life imprisonment. Women face daily harassment across India, ranging from catcalls on the streets, groping and touching in public transport to rape.

They put a wreath studded with white flowers on the road, lit a candle and sat around it in a silent tribute to the young woman. Members of a theatre group nearby played small tambourine and sang songs urging the society to wake up and end discrimination against women.

Dipali, a working woman who uses one name, said the rape victim deserved justice.

"I hope it never happens again to any girl," she said.

Indian demonstrators shout slogans and wave placards as they move towards India Gate in New Delhi on Thursday during a protest calling for better safety for women following the rape of a student in the Indian capital.

Dozens of students of Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi marched silently to the bus stop from where the rape victim and her friend had boarded the bus on Dec. 16. They carried placards reading "She is not with us but her story must awaken us."

Nehra Kaul Mehra, a young Indian studying urban and gender policing at Columbia University in the US, said "We come from a feudal and patriarchal set-up where we value men more than women."

"We kill daughters before they are born. Those who live are fed less, educated less and segregated from boys," she said with a black band of protest around her mouth.

Sonia Gandhi, the governing Congress party chief, assured the protesters in a statement that the rape victim's death "deepens our determination to battle the pervasive, the shameful social attitudes and mindset that allow men to rape and molest women and girls with such an impunity."

Indian police officials stand behind a barrier as demonstrators move towards India Gate in New Delhi on Thursday.

The protesters heckled Sheila Dikshit, the top elected leader of New Delhi state, when she came to express her sympathy with them and forced her to leave the protest venue. They blamed her for the deteriorating law and order situation in the Indian capital.

Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said the woman's death was a sobering reminder of the widespread sexual violence in India.

"The outrage now should lead to law reform that criminalizes all forms of sexual assault, strengthens mechanisms for implementation and accountability, so that the victims are not blamed and humiliated," Ms Ganguly said.

Prime Minister Singh said he understood the angry reaction to the attack and that he hoped all Indians would work together to make appropriate changes.

"These are perfectly understandable reactions from a young India and an India that genuinely desires change," Mr Singh said in a statement.

"It would be a true homage to her memory if we are able to channel these emotions and energies into a constructive course of action."

He said the government was examining the penalties for crimes such as rape "to enhance the safety and security of women."

"I hope that the entire political class and civil society will set aside narrow sectional interests and agendas to help us all reach the end that we all desire - making India a demonstrably better and safer place for women to live in," Mr Singh said.

Mamta Sharma, head of the state-run National Commission for Women, said the "time has come for strict laws" to stop violence against women. "The society has to change its mindset to end crimes against women," she said.

The tragedy has forced India to confront the reality that sexually assaulted women are often blamed for the crime, forcing them to keep quiet and discouraging them from reporting it to authorities for fear of exposing their families to ridicule.

Police often refuse to accept complaints from those who are courageous enough to report the rapes, and the rare prosecutions that reach courts drag on for years.

Indian attitudes toward rape are so entrenched that even politicians and opinion makers have often suggested that women should not go out at night or wear clothes that might be seen provocative.

On Friday, Abhijit Mukherjee, a national lawmaker and the son of India's president, apologised for calling the protesters "highly dented and painted" women who go from discos to demonstrations.

"I tender my unconditional apology to all the people whose sentiments got hurt," he told NDTV news.

Several Indian celebrities reacted with sadness over the woman's death. Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan tweeted, "Her body has passed away, but her soul shall forever stir our hearts."

Separately, authorities in Punjab state took action Thursday when an 18-year-old woman killed herself by drinking poison a month after she told police she was gang-raped.

State authorities suspended one police officer and fired two others on accusations they delayed investigating and taking action in the case. The three accused in the rape were arrested only on Thursday night, a month after the crime was reported.

"This is a very sensitive crime, I have taken it very seriously," said Paramjit Singh Gill, a top police officer in the city of Patiala.

The Press Trust of India reported that the woman was raped Nov. 13 and reported the attack to police Nov. 27. But police harassed the girl, asked her embarrassing questions and took no action against the accused, PTI reported, citing police sources.

Authorities in the eastern state of Chhattisgarh also suspended a police officer on accusations he refused to register a rape complaint from a woman who said she had been attacked by a driver.

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Tony Greig dies aged 66

Cricket legend Tony Greig has died following a suspected heart attack. Greig, 66, was battling lung cancer.

CRICKETING legend Tony Greig has died after a suspected heart attack.

Greig, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in October, was rushed to St Vincent's Hospital by ambulance from his Vaucluse home this morning between 10 and 11am.

A St Vincent's hospital spokesman, David Faktor, said Greig arrived at hospital in a "critical'' condition and died of cardiac arrest.

"The staff at the emergency department worked on Mr Greig to no avail and he passed away at a quarter to two this afternoon," he said.

He added: "I understand his family were with him when he passed away."

Legend: Tributes have been pouring in for cricketer Tony Greig who died today from a heart attack.

Vivian Greig confirmed her husband had passed away.

"Our family wants to extend our gratitude for the support and condolences we have received and would ask for privacy at this very sad time," she said in a statement released by the Nine Network.

David Gyngell, chief executive of Nine Entertainment, said Nine had lost part of its extensive cricketing DNA with the tragic passing of the legendary Greig.

"It's a deeply upsetting time for his family and for everyone associated with Tony at Nine, and indeed for many, many others who came to know and love the man,'' Mr Gyngell said in a statement released this afternoon.

Former Test cricketer Adam Gilchrist reacts to the passing of cricket legend Tony Greig

"Tony has been part of Nine's commentary team since 1979. He's not only been part of our family, but he's had a seat at the head of the table," he said.

 Gallery: Life and times of Tony Greig

Mr Gyngell said the former England captain was "one of the terrific characters of the game both as a player and then a commentator".

He said Greig was "never short of an opinion but always a generous man with a big heart".

Tony Greig during the World Series cricket Supertest Grand Final match against Australia at the SCG.

"He will be sadly missed, and our special thoughts go out to Vivian, and Tony's daughters Samantha and Beau, and sons Mark and Tom," Mr Gyngell said.

The Nine Network will screen a special tribute to Greig tonight at 6.30pm.

Richie Benaud conveyed the sad news to Greig's fellow commentators, in particular his old sparring partner Bill Lawry, Mr Gyngell said.

Greig was a key figure in recruiting English and other international players for media tycoon Kerry Packer's breakaway World Series Cricket which was staged from 1977 to 1979 and sent shockwaves through the arch-conservative sport.

Arguably the two most influential figures of modern cricket, Tony Greig with Kerry Packer at London's Dorchester Hotel in 1977. Picture: UPI

Packer's rebel series was his response to the Australian Cricket Board's refusal to give Packer's Nine Network exclusive Test broadcast rights.

WSC helped improve remunerations for players and dragged the sport into the modern age of day-night matches.

In the 1980s, the South African-born Greig became a high-profile member of the Nine Network's cricket commentary team and continued in the role until ill health sidelined him only a couple of months ago.

James Packer today paid tribute to Greig, describing him as a larger-than-life figure who "played an absolutely pivotal role in the success of World Series Cricket, which changed the game forever for the better.''

Tony Greig and his wife Vivian. Picture: Tim Hunter

"Tony stood shoulder to shoulder with my father at times when it was not always fashionable'' Mr Packer said in a statement.

"And together with the backing of other key players and supporters they forged a brave new age for both cricketers and spectators alike. For that alone, every fan of the game is in Tony Greig's debt.

"But he was much more than that. Our cricket enemy turned our mate - his famous car keys stuck in the pitch to demonstrate its hardness, and his legendary but friendly on-air barneys with the great Bill Lawry. We shall miss him dearly."

Distraught family members gathered at the cricketer's home in Sydney's eastern suburbs earlier today after he was rushed to hospital.

Greig's son Mark told The Sunday Telegraph his father's cancer had progressed to "stage four''.

"He's in the best place and is getting the best possible care," Mark said earlier today.

It was only in October that Greig announced he was battling lung cancer.

In November he underwent an operation and chemotherapy to fight the condition.

Former Australian captain Bill Lawry said he was devastated at the loss of one of his closest friends.

"We are absolutely shattered that he is no longer with us," Lawry said.

"I have been fortunate to be his friend for 33 years.

"It's a sad moment for world cricket."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard called Greig a "wonderful example of someone who came to Australia from somewhere else in the world and embraced his adopted country as his own".

"As a superb all-rounder, ambitious national captain and authoritative commentator over the best part of half a century, Greig's standing in the game is matched by very few others," Ms Gillard said in a statement.

"Australia has lost one of the iconic voices of sport."

Ms Gillard said Greig's life in cricket "wasn't always without controversy, but no one could doubt his passion and commitment to the sport he loved".

Australian coach Mickey Arthur was among the many media and sporting personalities to pay tribute to Greig on social media sites

Satirist Billy Birmingham, who famously impersonated Greig, took to Twitter to express his sadness. 

"Thanks to everyone tweeting their fave 12th Man /Tony Greig moments. His death has hit me hard and I'm smiling thru tears with you all a bit," he wrote.


Tests: 58
Runs: 3599
Average: 40.43
100s: Eight
Highest score: 148
Wickets: 141
Bowling average: 32.20
Best bowling: 8-86
Catches: 87

One Day Internationals: 22
Runs: 269
Average: 16.81
Highest score: 48
Wickets: 19
Bowling average: 32.57
Best bowling: 4-45
Catches: 7

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Haunting message found in Kmart package

Written By komlim puldel on Jumat, 28 Desember 2012 | 20.01

Copy of the letter found in a box of Halloween decorations. Picture: Facebook

  • Woman finds note inside kit of Halloween decorations
  • 'Help, we're imprisoned in a labour camp'
  • Man reveals he works 15 hours every day for under $2 a month

A Chinese labourer has hidden a note detailing his desperate circumstances inside a 'graveyard kit' from KMart.

It was like a fortune cookie, only the news was all bad.

Julie Keith opened her box of Halloween decorations only to find a letter from a Chinese labourer telling how he is tortured, beaten, and being paid less than $2 a month.

The unsigned note was a message in a bottle from the other side of the world to this woman in Oregon, begging for help and asking whoever found it to send it on to the "World Human Right Organization".

"People who work here (at the Mashanjia Labour Camp in Shenyang, China) have to work 15 hours a day without Saturday Sunday break and any holidays," the handwritten note says.

"Otherwise they will suffer torturement, beat and rude remark, nearly no payment (10 yuan/1 month)."

The Chinese Government operates many forced-labour camps for criminals – but 'criminals' can include political dissidents or 'cult adherents' who follow specific religions and are imprisoned without trial.

"People who work here suffer punishment… without court sentence… many of them are Falun Gong practitioners, who are totally innocent," the letter continues. Falun Gong is a spiritual practice and its members are often targeted by the Communist regime.

According to The Oregonian, Human Rights Watch could not confirm the origin or authenticity of the note, but said "it is fair to say the conditions described in the letter certainly conform to what we know about conditions in re-education through labour camps."

Ms Keith found the note taped to some Styrofoam gravestones – a graveyard kit she bought for her daughter's Halloween party and says she believes it's real. If not, it's one hell of an April Fool's joke.

Kmart and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations are looking into the matter.

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Turtle fail: Experiment exposes dark human psyche

Experiment proved people don't like turtles as much as they say. Picture: Liam Driver Source: The Daily Telegraph

A US university student who set out to determine how to help turtles cross the road ended up getting a glimpse into the dark souls of some humans.

Nathan Weaver put a realistic rubber turtle in the middle of a lane on a busy road near campus. Then he got out of the way and watched over the next hour as seven drivers swerved and deliberately ran over the animal. Several more apparently tried to hit it but missed.

"I've heard of people and from friends who knew people that ran over turtles. But to see it out here like this was a bit shocking,'' said Weaver, a 22-year-old student at Clemson's School of Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences.

To seasoned researchers, the practice wasn't surprising.

The number of box turtles is in slow decline, and one big reason is that many wind up as roadkill while crossing the asphalt, a slow-and-steady trip that can take several minutes.

Sometimes humans feel a need to prove they are the dominant species on this planet by taking a two-ton metal vehicle and squishing a defenseless creature under the tires, said Hal Herzog, a Western Carolina University psychology professor.

"They aren't thinking, really. It is not something people think about. It just seems fun at the time,'' Herzog said. "It is the dark side of human nature.''

Herzog asked a class of about 110 students getting ready to take a final whether they had intentionally run over a turtle, or been in a car with someone who did. Thirty-four students raised their hands, about two-thirds of them male, said Herzog, author of a book about humans' relationships with animals, called "Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat.''

Weaver, who became interested in animals and conservation through the Boy Scouts and TV's "Crocodile Hunter'' Steve Irwin, wants to figure out the best way to get turtles safely across the road and keep the population from dwindling further.

Among the possible solutions: turtle underpasses or an education campaign aimed at teenagers on why drivers shouldn't mow turtles down.

The first time Weaver went out to collect data on turtles, he chose a spot down the road from a big apartment complex that caters to students. He counted 267 vehicles that passed by, seven of them intentionally hitting his rubber reptile.

He went back out about a week later, choosing a road in a more residential area. The second of the 50 cars to pass by that day swerved over the center line, its right tires pulverizing the plastic shell.

"Wow! That didn't take long,'' Weaver said.

Other cars during the hour missed the turtle. But right after his observation period was up, before Weaver could retrieve the model, another car moved to the right to hit the animal as he stood less than 20 feet (6 meters) away.

"One hit in 50 cars is pretty significant when you consider it might take a turtle 10 minutes to cross the road,'' Weaver said.

It takes a turtle seven or eight years to become mature enough to reproduce, and in that time, it might make several trips across the road to get from one pond to another, looking for food or a place to lay eggs. A female turtle that lives 50 years might lay over 100 eggs, but just two or three are likely to survive to reproduce, said Weaver's professor, Rob Baldwin.

Snakes also get run over deliberately. Baldwin wishes that weren't the case, but he understands, considering the widespread fear and loathing of snakes. But why anyone would want to run over turtles is a mystery to the professor.

"They seem so helpless and cute,'' he said. "I want to stop and help them. My kids want to stop and help them. My wife will stop and help turtles no matter how much traffic there is on the road. I can't understand the idea why you would swerve to hit something so helpless as a turtle.''

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Politics a factor in moving rape victim

Indian members of NGO 'Aastha' hold placards during a protest in Mumbai for better safety for women following the rape of a student in the Indian capital. Picture: AFP/ Punit Paranjpe Source: AFP

AN INDIAN gang-rape victim was "struggling against the odds" to survive after suffering a heart attack and brain injuries, as medics criticised a decision to fly her to Singapore.

In a bulletin issued the day after her arrival in Singapore, doctors at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital said the 23-year-old was battling an infection in her lungs and remained critically ill after the December 16 assault in Delhi.

"The patient is currently struggling against the odds, and fighting for her life," Kelvin Loh, chief executive officer of Mount Elizabeth Hospital where she was airlifted to from India, said in a statement.

"Our medical team's investigations upon her arrival at the hospital yesterday showed that in addition to her prior cardiac arrest, she also had infection of her lungs and abdomen, as well as significant brain injury," he added.

"A multi-disciplinary team of specialists has been working tirelessly to treat her since her arrival, and is doing everything possible to stabilise her condition over the next few days."

On Thursday night, the hospital revealed that the woman, who is a student in Delhi, had undergone "three abdominal surgeries and experienced a cardiac arrest in India" as it gave the first detailed rundown of her condition.

An Indian demonstrator holds a placard during a protest calling for better safety for women following the rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi. The woman has been flown to Singapore where doctors are fighting to save her life.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been treated in Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital since she was thrown off a bus in the capital after six men took turns to rape her at the back of the vehicle on December 16.

She also suffered severe intestinal injuries as a result of being assaulted with an iron bar, according to police and prosecutors.

The decision to fly her in a special air ambulance was taken at a meeting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's cabinet on Wednesday, the government having already promised to pay all her medical bills.

But while ministers have insisted that the decision was taken purely on medical grounds, newspapers have suggested that authorities who have struggled to retain nationwide protests over the attack were keen to have her transferred out of the country.

An unnamed doctor who was part of a team of experts consulted about the transfer told The Hindu newspaper that they had only been asked whether it was safe to move her rather than if it was the best course of action.

"The question was not whether there were any deficiencies in treatment that would be met by moving her... She was being given the best possible care."

Samiran Nundy, chairman of the organ transplant and gastro-surgery department of Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told the paper that the transfer made little sense.

"I just can't understand why a critically ill patient with infection in blood and body, high grade fever and on the ventilator is being transferred," he said.

"It will take weeks in this case to even look into the possibility of an intestinal transplant so why hurry and take the patient out from a facility which works so well. It seems more of a political move."

Singh has ordered an official inquiry into the gang-rape and promised new laws to protect women as well as stiffer penalties for the worst sex crimes.

The government announced that it would post the photos, names and addresses of convicted rapists on official websites to publicly shame them. The campaign will begin in Delhi, which has been dubbed India's "rape capital".

"Our prayers are with the brave young girl. The best possible medical care is being provided to her," the premier told reporters.

"You have my assurance that our government is committed to bring the guilty to justice as soon as possible."

His comments were echoed by Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the main ruling Congress party and India's most powerful politician.

"Our only wish today is that the victim recovers and culprits are punished and no time is lost in bringing perpetrators of such barbarous and heinous crimes to book," she said alongside Singh.

The woman's family has flown to Singapore to keep a vigil at the hospital.

Although they have not spoken to reporters, Singapore's Straits Times newspaper quoted an official who had spoken to her father and two brothers.

"These are simple, rustic people, who have never dreamt of boarding an aircraft, much less travel to a foreign country in an air ambulance," said the source.

"The father said he is reassured that the best is being done for his daughter and the rest lies in the hands of God."

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Houston 'murdered by drug dealers'

Written By komlim puldel on Kamis, 27 Desember 2012 | 20.01

Investigator: Was Whitney Houston murdered by drug dealers? Source:

A HOLLYWOOD private eye says he has 'video evidence' that singer Whitney Houston was murdered.

Paul Huebl said he had uncovered "evidence that points to Whitney being a victim of a high-powered drug dealers who sent thugs to collect a huge debt she owed for drugs."

He claims surveillance footage shows two unknown men showing up repeatedly at the Beverly Hilton, where Houston was staying when she died, and hanging out with her entourage.

The day before her death, Houston reportedly received a cocaine delivery but was later heard to say, "I'm tired of this sh*t."

Huebl says she was, in fact, alluding to ongoing harassment by dealers chasing a drug debt, which had reached $1.5 million.

On February 11, the day of her death, Houston was left alone in her hotel room for 45 minutes. Huebl says it was during this time that the killer or killers acted and that he has the footage to prove it.

The coroner concluded the singer died from drowning while having a bath after consuming drugs and ruled out foul play.

But Huebl claims a closer look at the coroner's report shows Houston sustained "classic defence wounds that would have occurred while she was battling for her life" and that there were signs of a struggle in the hotel room.

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Kate Winslet got married to who?

Kate Winslet has reportedly married beau Ned Rocknroll (born Abel Smith) in secret. Source: Supplied

Titanic director James Cameron remembers casting Kate Winslet in the lead role

Winslet's screen test from "Titanic," which pairs her with "Law & Order" actor Jeremy Sisto as Jack Dawson

KATE Winslet has reportedly married her boyfriend Ned Rocknroll.

The 37-year-old Oscar winner has been dating the 34-year-old nephew of Virgin billionaire Richard Branson since late last year.

According to UsWeekly, the couple secretly exchanged vows in New York City earlier this month.

"They were surrounded by a small group of friends and close family members," an insider said.
A spokesperson for the actress has not responded to requests for comment.

Winslet and Rocknroll have not publicly acknowledged plans to marry. It was rumoured he had proposed in January.

Their nuptials would mark third trip down the aisle for the actress.

She was married to director Jim Threapleton for three years until 2001. The former couple share a 12-year-old daughter.

She married director Sam Mendes in 2003. They were married for seven years and share a nine-year-old son.

Rocknroll, born Abel Smith, was previously married to British socialite Eliza Cowdray.

He settled down with Kate earlier this year when the couple purchased a home in West Sussex, England, about one year after they met on his uncle's Necker Island, according to reports.

Winslet spoke about her feelings on marriage earlier this year.

"I still believe in the beauty of committing yourself to another person and, at least, in the idea of marriage as an expression of that commitment," she said.

"Living with someone will always be a challenge, but you hope to be able to find someone whom you can spend the rest of your days."

The Daily Mail reports that it was her Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio who gave her away.

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US gun owners show off Xmas 'toys'

This man's Yuletide celebrations involved him obtaining a large weapon. Picture: Instagram Source:

CHRISTMAS was good for gun owners in the US even after the Newtown school massacre with gun owners posting photos of themselves on social media with their new "toys".

The Perch: No accounting for bad taste

The trend of showing off guns on social media was noticed by The Verge and reported by The Atlantic Wire.

Despite widespread horror after the massacre of schoolchildren in Connecticut and calls for stricter gun  laws, Christmas Day was a gun fest for many US citizens who happily posed for photos with their weaponry under the Christmas tree.

A woman poses with the powerful weapon she received for Christmas. Picture: Instagram

200 Utah teachers flock to concealed gun training instruction

Thanks to Instagram we see people standing in front of Christmas trees with their brand new guns. There were also a plethora of pics to be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Firearm sales in the US have sky-rocketed since the Newtown school massacre, as debate over gun control rages and enthusiasts fear certain assault weapons and high-capacity magazines could be banned.

A semi-automatic Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle was used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in which a disturbed local young man shot dead 20 young children, six adults and his mother before taking his own life.

Instagram users have celebrated receiving assault weapons for Christmas. Picture: Instagram

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Rogue P-plate driver comes forward

Written By komlim puldel on Rabu, 26 Desember 2012 | 20.01

A driver activates cruise control, while his feet hang out the window as he travels on the Eastern Freeway. Source: Supplied

A ROGUE P-plater photographed hurtling down a Melbourne freeway with both legs outside the driver's window has come forward to police.

Police said the man had "made contact" with them, but they would not elaborate on whether he would be charged with an offence.

More inquiries would be made this evening, a Victoria Police spokeswoman said.

Police had earlier appealed for the driver to turn himself in, saying they had identified the owner of the vehicle, and that they would be coming for him if he did not front a police station today.

Shocked motorists snapped the "ludicrous" Volkswagen golf driver literally putting his feet up as he cruised down the Eastern Freeway, near the Blackburn Rd off-ramp about 7am on Christmas Eve.

Inspector Bernie Rankin from the Major Collision Investigation Unit said the incident was "no joke".

"This young man, his behaviour without any further examination is conduct endangering life - that's a very serious criminal charge," Insp Rankin said.

"You might be thinking it's funny or it might be a joke, or you might be showing off in front of your friends, but at the end of the day if you hurt someone or if someone sees what you're just remember that."

Motorist Stewart (last name withheld), from Heathmont, photographed the driver speeding down the Eastern Fwy on Monday morning.

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I thought: if his right foot's outside the window, how is he accelerating? Then I saw both feet out of the window and I thought: bloody hell," Stewart said.

He said he saw the driver travelling over the speed limit before he pulled up next to the packed car, when the driver pulled his feet in just before the EastLink tunnel.

"He looked very young. This guy's a risk to my safety. I don't want to share the road with people like that," Stewart said.

Insp Rankin had earlier said: "The local police will be following this matter up, and what I'd encourage the driver of that vehicle to do - his vehicle and his images have already been on the media - I'd suggest he walk into his local police station and speak to us, because we're certainly in the situation where we know who is in charge of the vehicle.

"We'll certainly be knocking on his door if he doesn't present himself today at some stage."

The legless driver isn't the only example of reckless behaviour on Victoria's roads this holiday season.

A woman was photographed reading a book while doing 100km/h on the Monash Freeway last week.

"This is a constant in your face reminder that there are people out there who just don't listen and don't really obey the law," Insp Rankin said.

"We're really horrified with the toll: five dead since Sunday. All of them…avoidable collisions and, really, if we don't slow down and start doing the right thing this is going to be a horrendous Christmas-New Year period for us.

"We've got to really get the message out there people have just got to slow down."

Insp Rankin said the man's "selfish behaviour" meant he would be unable to control his vehicle in case of an emergency.

"Assuming he was on cruise control - which is an assumption - he couldn't brake, he couldn't stop the vehicle; he'd even have difficulty turning the wheel, so absolutely ludicrous behaviour."

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Body found in home of fireman killer

The suspect in firefighter ambush killings leaves note

POLICE have found human remains in the burned-out home of the ex-con who killed two firefighters and believe the victim is the gunman's sister.

Police Chief Gerald Pickering said Tuesday the remains were found in the charred house that 62-year-old William Spengler shared with his 67-year-old sister, Cheryl. A medical examiner will need to determine the identity.

Mr Pickering said Tuesday that 62-year-old William Spengler, who served 17 years in prison for the 1980 hammer slaying of his grandmother, armed himself with a revolver, a shotgun and a semiautomatic rifle before he set his house afire to lure first responders into a death trap before dawn on Christmas Eve.

Pickering says Spengler "was equipped to go to war."

Two firefighters were shot dead and two others are hospitalised. Spengler killed himself as seven houses burned around him Monday on a narrow spit of land along Lake Ontario.

One of the weapons recovered was a .233-caliber semiautomatic Bushmaster rifle with flash suppression, the same make and caliber gun used in the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, Mr Pickering said.

A house burns in Webster, New York. Police say the man who set the blaze and then opened fire on firefighters left behind a note saying he wanted to kill and burn down the neighbourhood.

The chief said police believe the firefighters were hit with shots from the rifle given the distance but the investigation was incomplete.

The ex-con also left a typewritten note saying he wanted to burn down the neighbourhood and "do what I like doing best, killing people," police said.

The two- to three-page typewritten note left by Spengler didn't give a motive for the shootings, Mr Pickering said.

He declined to divulge the note's full content or say where it was found, but read one line from it: "I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighbourhood I can burn down, and do what I like doing best, killing people."

William H. Spengler Jr., 62, who set a house and car ablaze on Xmas eve in Webster, N.Y., and then opened fire, killing two firefighters and wounding two others. After exchanging gunfire with police, Spengler also killed himself. AP/Monroe County Sheriff's Department

Mr Pickering said authorities were still looking for Spengler's 67-year-old sister, Cheryl Spengler, who lived in the house with him. Their mother, Arline, also lived there until she died in October.

About 100 people attended an impromptu memorial vigil Monday evening in Webster, a suburb of Rochester. Dozens of bouquets were left at the fire station, along with a handwritten sign that said, "Thanks for protecting us. RIP."

Spengler fired at the four firefighters when they arrived shortly after 5.30am local time Monday to put out the fire, Mr Pickering said. The first police officer who arrived chased the gunman and exchanged shots.

Authorities said Spengler hadn't done anything to bring himself to their attention since his parole. As a convicted felon, he wasn't allowed to possess weapons. Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley said Spengler led a very quiet life after he got out of prison.

Audio has been released of the shooting of New York firefighters in the US. Fox News reports.

A friend said Spengler hated his sister. Roger Vercruysse lived next door to Spengler and recalled a man who doted on his mother, whose obituary suggested contributions to the West Webster Fire Department.

"He loved his mama to death," said Mr Vercruysse, who last saw his friend about six months ago.

Mr Vercruysse also said Spengler "couldn't stand his sister" and "stayed on one side of the house and she stayed on the other."

The West Webster Fire District learned of the fire after a report of a car and house on fire on Lake Road, on a narrow peninsula where Irondequoit Bay meets Lake Ontario, Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn said.

Firefighters gather around a burning house after they were let back into the area follwoing the fatal shooting. Picture: AP/Democrat & Chronicle, Jamie Germano

Emergency radio communications capture someone saying he "could see the muzzle flash coming at me" as Spengler carried out his ambush.

The audio posted on the website has someone reporting "firefighters are down" and saying "got to be rifle or shotgun - high powered ... semi or fully auto."

Two of the firefighters arrived on a fire engine and two in their own vehicles, Mr Pickering said. After Spengler fired, one of the wounded men fled, but the other three couldn't because of flying gunfire.

The police officer who exchanged gunfire with Spengler "in all likelihood saved many lives," Mr Pickering said.

Lieutenant Michael Chiapperini, who volunteered as a firefighter in his spare time, was one of two firefighters killed in a Christmas Eve ambush in New York state.

A police armoured vehicle was used to recover two men, and eventually it removed 33 people from nearby homes, the police chief said. The gunfire initially kept firefighters from battling the blazes.

The dead men were identified as police Lt. Michael Chiapperini, 43, the Webster Police Department's public information officer; and 19-year-old Tomasz Kaczowka, also a 911 dispatcher.

Mr Pickering described Chiapperini as a "lifetime firefighter" with nearly 20 years in the department, and he called Kaczowka a "tremendous young man."

Kaczowka's brother, reached at the family home Monday night, said he didn't want to talk.

Firefighters battle a blaze after they were let back onto the site outside Rochester. Picture: AP/Democrat & Chronicle, Jamie Germano

The two wounded firefighters, Joseph Hofstetter and Theodore Scardino, were in stable condition overnight at Strong Memorial Hospital, the chief said. Both were awake and alert and are expected to recover.

Hofstetter, also a full-timer with the Rochester Fire Department, was hit once in the pelvis, and the bullet lodged in his spine, authorities said. Scardino was hit in the chest and knee.

Cathy Bartlett was at a vigil Monday night with her teenage son, who was good friends with Kaczowka. Bartlett's husband, Mark Bartlett, has been a firefighter there for 25 years but missed the call this morning.

"Thank God my husband slept through the first alarm and didn't get up until the second one went off," she said.

A gunman has shot dead two firefighters when he ambushed them at the scene of a housefire in a suburb of Rochester, New York.

The shooting and fires were in a neighbourhood of seasonal and year-round homes set close together across the road from the lakeshore. The area is popular with recreational boaters but is normally quiet this time of year.

"We have very few calls for service in that location," Mr Pickering said.

"Webster is a tremendous community. We are a safe community, and to have a tragedy befall us like this is just horrendous."

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the State Police and Office of Emergency Management were working with local authorities.

"Volunteer firefighters and police officers were injured and two were taken from us as they once again answered the call of duty," Mr Cuomo said in a statement.

"We as the community of New York mourn their loss as now two more families must spend the holidays without their loved ones."

Webster, a middle-class suburb, now is the scene of violence linked to house fires for two Decembers in a row.

Last December 7, authorities say, a 15-year-old boy doused his home with gasoline and set it ablaze, killing his father and two brothers, 16 and 12. His mother and 13-year-old sister escaped with injuries. He is being prosecuted as an adult.

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Skipper goes wild at no-sail ruling

The race committee of the Sydney-Hobart announces it won't accept the entry of Wild Thing just hours before this year's race kicks off.

Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards says there's a good chance the super-maxi will break its own Rolex Sydney Hobart race record.

Rival skippers Mark Richards from Wild Oats XI and Syd Fischer from Ragamuffin Loyal anticipate a good Sydney To Hobart battle.

Skipper Grant Wharington will not race Wild Thing in today's Sydney to Hobart. Source: Herald Sun

FOR years she has been the Sydney to Hobart's highest-profile drama queen.

And yesterday skipper Grant Wharington's Wild Thing again took centre stage.

The 100-footer was sensationally denied a place in the race just three hours before the start when officials ruled its connections had not properly submitted their paperwork.

A shattered Wharington was adamant his 100-footer could have won both line and handicap honours in the great race.

On an extraordinary day of drama, a devastated Wharington labelled a compromise offer to sail to Hobart instead of racing an insult.

Gallery: Incredible pics from the race

He said he was heartbroken for his crew, who were kept on shore as Wild Oats XI led the fleet out of Sydney Harbour and into open sea.

Declaring "I will be back", Wharington said he would consider legal action over the late scrubbing of his yacht from the 68th sailing of the ocean classic.

Wharington left the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia just before 10am yesterday to head to the start line, believing he had completed all the required paperwork relating to his entry.

An hour later he heard his yacht - recently modified and extended to become a 100-footer - had been ruled out of the start.

Rolling story: Sydney to Hobart latest

He rushed back to the club to make a last-minute - but unsuccessful - plea to race officials to clear his entry.

"I am heartbroken for the crew. They worked so hard," said Wharington, who was to have sailed in his 25th Hobart in a crew of six women and 13 men.

"I just can't believe this. I'm shattered.

"I will be back for sure but this could have been the year. "We could have potentially taken the double (line and handicap), maybe even the treble (with race record)."

Earlier, the race committee said it would not accept Wild Thing's entry due to issues with paperwork "dealing with documentation to be lodged for verification of construction requirements". Yachts must lodge paperwork covering their construction, modifications, their rating and compulsory safety checks before being approved to start the 628 nautical mile race.

Cruising Yacht Club of Australia commodore Howard Piggott said: "The race committee has no option but to not accept the entry of Wild Thing."

Late yesterday Wharington maintained his documentation relating to Wild Thing's modifications was up to scratch and that the yacht should have been allowed to race.

"We are absolutely devastated to be told at the 11th hour that we are unable to race to Hobart," Wharington said.

"Would you believe we have been offered the ability to race down or sail down the course and we can go in on the radio skeds (reports) and leave the tracker on, which is an insult. We are a bit stuck for words as to why it has happened in this situation.

"We have provided the documentation. I have got it in my hand.

"We were given an approval on Wednesday (that) we were able to go and subsequently (that was) withdrawn, so we are obviously devastated by the news.

"It's pretty disappointing for us and our team who have worked so hard to get this incredible boat to the position it is now."

After surging to an early lead in the race yesterday, super maxi Wild Oats XI was well clear of the pack last night in southeasterly breezes of about 15 knots.

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Mass dating event flooded by men

Written By komlim puldel on Selasa, 25 Desember 2012 | 20.01

Thousands of eager men flooded Seoul's Yeouido park for a mass dating event on Christmas Eve, only to meet other guys. Picture: Kim Jae-Hwan Source: AFP

SOUTH Korea's "battle of the singles" - a highly-anticipated mass dating event organised on Facebook - fizzled out yesterday, with thousands of lovelorn men at the venue but few women in sight.

The event was triggered last month after two young men jokingly floated the idea on the social networking site and eventually prompted more than 36,000 Facebook users to sign up.

But only about 3500 people - mostly men in their 20s or 30s - turned up. Many of the women who did show up brought male partners just to watch the event.

"Apparently most of the participants were young men ... many left fairly quickly as the place was increasingly filled with guys," a police officer in Seoul told AFP.

Romantics who braved temperatures of around minus 10 degrees Celsius mostly milled aimlessly around the venue in a city park during the two-hour event.

Women had been asked to dress in red and men in white when they gathered at the park in Seoul's Yeouido financial district.

The two groups were asked to stand facing each other a few metres apart until the event started at 3pm, then walk towards a potential date and grab his or her hands.

But the face-to-face fizzled out after it became clear that there were simply not enough women to cater for a horde of men.

"Where the hell are the girls? I can't find any," said Kim Sung-Sik, a 23-year-old college student, describing the event as "utterly disappointing".

"This is awful... I didn't come all this way to get stuck in a bunch of smelly guys," said another male participant who declined to be named.

"It looks like there are more doves flying around here than there are girls ... I feel like I'm in the army again," he said, referring to the two years of military service mandatory for all South Korean men.

Similar male-dominated scenes have been reported in other cities where the same "battle of the singles" events were arranged.

Out of a population of some 50 million, South Korea - one of the world's most-wired nations - has 31 million smartphone users and nearly 20 million users of either Facebook or Twitter.

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Track Santa's progress online

The progress of Santa Claus and his reindeers around the world can be tracked online courtesy of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

SANTA Claus is coming to town - and the organisation responsible for monitoring North American airspace is helping your kids track him as he completes his whirlwind journey around the globe.

The Santa tracker set up by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), a US-Canada joint operation, said that at 1515 GMT, Santa and his overworked reindeer had just passed over the Philippines' capital Manila.

The website,, is available in eight languages and allows children to find Santa's location and upcoming stops on his trip. It also tracks the number of presents left for children. So far? More than 1.2 billion.

After leaving the North Pole, Santa will criss-cross the world until 0900 GMT Tuesday, when all the gifts will have been placed under Christmas trees.

NORAD normally has the very serious task of protecting the United States and Canada, detecting any attacks from the air or the launching of nuclear weapons. But each year, it uses its powerful technology to provide Christmas cheer.

NORAD pulls out all the stops to locate Saint Nick, stopping at no fewer than four high-tech systems: radar, satellites, "Santa Cams" and, yes, fighter jets. After all, Santa travels "faster than starlight."

Volunteers take phone calls from children asking where Santa is and when he will deliver presents to their house, during the annual NORAD Tracks Santa Operation. Picture: Brennan Linsley

"We're the only organisation that has the technology, the qualifications, and the people to do it. And, we love it! NORAD is honored to be Santa's official tracker!" NORAD says on its website.

The first shift of Santa tracker volunteers started taking calls early Monday, telling children - and some adults - when Santa is due at their house. The last shift won't end until nearly 24 hours later.

Some kids wanted to know more than where Santa was and when he would be at their house.

"How old is Santa?" one caller asked. The answer to that one is in the FAQs that NORAD hands out to volunteers: "It's hard to know for sure, but NORAD intelligence indicates Santa is at least 16 centuries old."

Other questions require the volunteers to think fast:

"How do reindeer fly?"

"How many elves does Santa have?"

"Does Santa leave presents for dogs?"

One little boy from Missouri phoned in to ask what time Santa delivered toys to heaven, said volunteer Jennifer Eckels, who took the call. The boy's mother got on the line to explain that his sister had died this year.

"I think Santa headed there first," Eckels told him.

NORAD suggests its volunteers tell callers that Santa won't drop off the presents until all the kids in the home are asleep. The response depends on the caller's age.

"Ohhhhhhh," said an 8-year-old from Illinois, as if trying to digest a brand-new fact.

"Thank you so much for that information," said a grateful mother from Michigan.

NORAD's Santa tracking tradition dates back to 1955, when a department store ad in a Colorado newspaper, which offers to connect children with the cheerful Christmas icon, included an incorrect phone number.

It mistakenly directed them to the hotline of NORAD's predecessor, the Continental Air Defence Command (CONAD).

To avoid disappointing the little ones, the director of operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, ordered his staff to check the radar to see where Santa might be and update the children on his location.

US Air Force Brigadier General Richard Scobie volunteers at the annual NORAD Tracks Santa Operation. Over a thousand volunteers handle more than 100,000 thousand phone calls from children around the world every Christmas Eve.

CONAD officers played along, and word spread that this Cold War military command charged with guarding the US against an attack by the Soviet Union was also telling kids where Santa was.

Since then, NORAD Tracks Santa has gone global, progressing through bulletins on AM radios and black-and-white TVs to updates on Facebook, Twitter and smartphone aps.

Last year, volunteers answered almost 102,000 calls, nearly 25 per cent more than the previous year. They also answered more than 7,700 emails (

The NORAD Tracks Santa website attracted 18.9 million unique visitors from 220 countries and territories during December 2011.

This year, the program has more than 1 million likes on Facebook and more than 114,000 followers on Twitter days before the tracking operation got under way.

NORAD maintains that Santa is the real deal.

"Mountains of historical data and more than 50 years of NORAD tracking information leads us to believe that Santa Claus is alive and well in the hearts of people throughout the world," it says.

And it warns children that Santa's route "can be affected by weather."

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Attack on firefighters caught on radio

Audio has been released of the shooting of New York firefighters in the US. Fox News reports.

CHILLING audio has emerged of the gunman who ambushed four volunteer firefighters responding to a house fire outside Rochester, New York before killing himself.

Emergency radio communications capture someone saying he "could see the muzzle flash coming at me" as a gunman ambushed firefighters responding to a blaze in Lake Ontario he had set to trap them.

In pictures: Horror attack

A gunman has shot dead two firefighters when he ambushed them at the scene of a housefire in a suburb of Rochester, New York.

The audio draws a chilling picture of the attack police say William Spengler carried out Friday morning in the Lake Ontario community of Webster. Spengler ambushed the four volunteer firefighters responding to an intense pre-dawn house fire killing two before ending up dead himself, authorities said.

The gunman fired at the firefighters when they arrived shortly after 5.30am at the blaze near the Lake Ontario shore in Webster, town police chief Gerald Pickering said.

Lieutenant Michael Chiapperini, who volunteered as a firefighter in his spare time, was one of two firefighters killed in a Christmas Eve ambush in New York state.

The audio posted on the website has someone reporting "firefighters are down" and saying "got to be rifle or shotgun."

The first Webster police officer who arrived chased the suspect and exchanged gunfire with him, authorities said. Police used an armoured vehicle to evacuate more than 30 nearby residents.

Firefighters gather around a burning house after they were let back into the area follwoing the fatal shooting. Picture: AP/Democrat & Chronicle, Jamie Germano

"It does appear it was a trap" for the first responders to the fire, Mr Pickering said at a news conference.

Police in New York state say the  62-year-old gunman who ambushed the firefighters had served 17 years for manslaughter in the death of his grandmother.

This image taken from video provided by WHAM13-TV, shows homes on fire in Webster, where a gunman ambushed four volunteer firefighters responding to a house fire.

Mr Pickering said Spengler was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.

Police don't know a motive yet nor if anyone died in the fire itself.

A screen grab from WHAM-TV's live coverage of the scene in Webster, New York.

One of the dead firefighters was also a town police lieutenant; it wasn't clear whether he returned fire. An off-duty police officer who was driving by was injured by shrapnel, Mr Pickering said.

"These people get up in the middle of the night to go put out fires; they don't expect to be shot and killed," Mr Pickering said.

Firefighters battle a blaze after they were let back onto the site outside Rochester. Picture: AP/Democrat & Chronicle, Jamie Germano

The fire started in one home and spread to two others and a car, officials said. The gunfire initially kept firefighters from battling the blazes. Police say four homes were destroyed and four damaged.

The West Webster Fire District learned of the fire early on Monday after a report of a car and house on fire on Lake Road, on a narrow peninsula where Irondequoit Bay meets Lake Ontario, Monroe county sheriff Patrick O'Flynn said.

The fire appeared from a distance as a pulsating ball of flame glowing against the early morning sky, flames licking into treetops and reflecting on the water, with huge bursts of smoke billowing away in a brisk wind.

Two of the firefighters arrived on a fire engine and two in their own vehicles, Mr Pickering said. After the gunman fired, one of the wounded men managed to flee, but the other three couldn't because of flying gunfire.

A police armoured vehicle was used to recover two of the men, and eventually it evacuated 33 people from nearby homes, the police chief said.

The dead men were identified as Police Lt. Michael Chiapperini, 43, the Webster Police Department's public information officer; and Tomasz Kaczowka, also a 911 dispatcher, whose age was not released.

Mr Pickering described Chiapperini as a "lifetime firefighter" with nearly 20 years with the department, and called Kaczowka a "tremendous young man."

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The two wounded firefighters, Joseph Hofsetter and Theodore Scardino, were in a guarded condition in the intensive care unit at Strong Memorial Hospital, authorities said. Both were awake and alert and are expected to recover.

Mr Hofsetter, also a full-timer with the Rochester Fire Department, was hit once in the pelvis, and the bullet lodged in his spine, authorities said. Mr Scardino was hit in the chest and knee.

Yesterday's shooting and fires were in a neighbourhood of seasonal and year-round homes set close together across the road from the lakeshore. The area is popular with recreational boaters but is normally quiet this time of year.

"We have very few calls for service in that location," Mr Pickering said. "Webster is a tremendous community. We are a safe community, and to have a tragedy befall us like this is just horrendous."

Mr O'Flynn lamented the violence, which comes on the heels of other shootings including the massacre of 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

"It's sad to see that that this is becoming more commonplace in communities across the nation," Mr O'Flynn said.

Webster, a middle-class suburb, has now been linked to house fire violence two Decembers in a row.

Last year on December 7, authorities say a 15-year-old boy doused his home with gasoline and set it ablaze, killing his father and two brothers, aged 16 and 12. His mother and 13-year-old sister escaped with injuries. He is being prosecuted as an adult.

Local newspaper, the Democrat and Chronicle, reports that the flag outside the West Webster Fire Department was lowered to half-staff at 10.45am. Fire district commissioners, Pat Morris and Billy Gross, described a sombre scene inside. 

"Each one of the firefighters is comforting each other," Mr Morris said. The Monroe County stress management team is working with the firefighters, the commissioners said, and local businesses are donating food.

"These firemen are part of our family. You go into a fire with these guys. To see them go down with something like this is totally unexpected. We are in shock," Mr Gross said, adding help was coming from all sides.

"Because of the shock and stress inside, you can't expect us to go and fight (another) fire," he added.

FBI spokeswoman Maureen Dempsey said the FBI was assisting law enforcement with whatever needs they had. "We have people on the scene. Members of our joint terrorism task force."

Webster is a middle-class, lakeside suburb. "I'm not aware of anything like this happening in Webster, obviously not a firefighter being fired upon," Webster fire marshal Rob Boutillier said.

Authorities remain on the scene evacuating residents. They are being searched by New York state police and other authorities before being taken to a bus.

Resident Michael Damico, whose son woke him up at 8am to tell him about the fire, was among those evacuated. He told the Democrat and Chronicle that "The whole strip's been evacuated. They're evacuating all of the houses and going through them," he said.

"We looked out the window and we saw the SWAT team and everyone around. Some people on this bus already watched their houses burn. They're not happy," Mr Damico said.

The debate about gun laws in America continues, in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings on December 14, which killed 26 people including 20 children.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is sticking to its stance on guns, calling for an armed guard in every school across America. National Rifle Association chief executive officer Wayne LaPierre said on Friday: "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

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Prince Harry 'kills Taliban chief'

Written By komlim puldel on Senin, 24 Desember 2012 | 20.01

Captain Prince Harry of Wales has allegedly killed his first Taliban commander in Afghanistan. No narration

IN what is likely to change his reputation as a Playboy Prince, Harry has allegedly killed his first Taliban commander in Afghanistan.

The 28-year-old gunship co-pilot unleashed a missile strike to eliminate the terrorist leader in late October, The Sun reports.

Harry has proved to be very popular among his comrades in Helmand, Afghanistan, and has been given the nickname Big H.

A defence insider told The Sun: "Big H is a legend. We were on patrol and the Apache helicopters were called in. We heard this posh voice come over the radio and knew it was Big H. They were tracking a Taliban leader - he was commander level.

"The Apache then let off some Hellfire missiles and its 30mm cannon and 'boom'. It was Big H all the way."

The Royal is a front seat co-pilot, which means he is the mission controller and operates the craft's main weapons. The Apache pilot sits in the back seat under the command of the mission controller and is tasked with manoeuvering the craft. Apaches, also called "mosquitoes" because of their unique sound, are among the world's most sophisticated and deadly helicopters and have terrorised the Taliban for the last five years, The Sun reports.

Captain Prince Harry of Wales as he prepares his Apache helicopter to go out on a mission in El Centro, California in undated photo issued by British Ministry of Defence.

Harry is on tour in Helmand and has been flying daily combat missions helping "troops in contact", the code given when ground forces are engaged by enemy fighters.

"He's like a normal squaddie," the source told The Sun. "All the guys in Afghan have so much respect for him and love him.

"Big H is a legend, he's been out in Afghan and he's doing the business. All the guys love him - he's Big H. He likes a drink and a laugh and he's one of the lads."

However, news of the strike reveals the danger Harry is in on the front line. Prince Charles recently spoke of his anxiety for his son at The Sun's Military Awards. Charles, 64, said: "The younger one is at this moment in Afghanistan. Fortunately, he rings me every now and then.

"And from time to time I've even persuaded him to write me a letter.

AN Apache attack helicopter takes off after refueling during a several-hour firefight against the Taliban, in Zhari district, Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan.

"Because, I keep saying, if you write me a letter and not just an email or a text or something, in 30 years' time or 40 years' time that will be interesting history."

Prince Charles said: "I just make this point because I really do understand the worry of service families when their loved ones are away serving in somewhere like Afghanistan. It's almost easier for those serving away than for those left behind because you worry all the time.

"So I do appreciate the extraordinary resilience and the unbelievable support provided by the families back here who encourage and remind their loved ones that they are there for them, despite what they are having to put up with."

Harry's recent tour of duty is the second undertaken by the prince in Helmand. Harry secretly served 77 days on the front line between 2007 and 2008 before switching to choppers.

In 2011 he passed the gruelling Apache fliers' course and was deployed in September. After 18 months of rigorous training, Harry was also crowned his class's Top Gun pilot in February.

An AH-64 Apache prepares to escort a CH-47 Chinook helicopter waiting to lift off as part of the Shah Wali Kot Offensive.

Harry is the first Royal to serve in a war zone since his uncle, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, who served for more than 20 years as a Royal Naval officer and flew as a second pilot in Sea King helicopters in the 1982 Falklands War.

Andrew and Charles' father, Prince Philip, was in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and the Queen, then 18, also served in uniform during World War Two.

Prince Harry examines the 30mm cannon of an Apache helicopter with a member of his 622 Squadron in Helmand Province. The Sun newspaper is reporting the Royal killed a Taliban chief in October.

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