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Ten Morning News -

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(generated from captions) This program is captioned live. Safe and well - wanted to do the first thing an Aussie hostage from his Palestinian captors. after being released harpooning off the Australian coast. Greenpeace take on Japanese whalers celebrity wedding of the year. And the most controversial Ten News with Natarsha Belling. But first this morning by Palestinian rebels an Australian teacher kidnapped has been released unharmed. by his captors Brian Ambrioso says he wasn't hurt

and Jews and is pleading with both Arabs and live in peace. to put down their guns at gunpoint After 12 hours of being held Brian Ambrosio walks free...

APPLAUSE and asking for his wife. ..exhausted, emotional I would like to see my wife. A little bit shaken up. American International School The deputy principal of the elite and his Dutch headmaster had been ambushed by an armed gang yesterday morning. on their way to school Their blue Honda civic held up. vehicle and driven away. The teachers forced into another It was still quite traumatic. to help Gaza and Palestine We told the people that we were here and that's why we're here. that they would harm us. At no time did they indicate as the Popular Front The rebels identified themselves for the Liberation of Palestine. the teachers to make a video While in captivity they forced PFLP comrades. asking for the release of jailed and friends staged a demonstration At their school, students, teachers demanding their release. It is a major crime. before, but enough is enough. I know it has happened several times originally from Victoria, Mr Ambrosio, for 18 months. has lived and taught in the region He says it's time for peace. get away from this violence and guns I just think we need to somehow and things like that. for Mr Ambrosio's family It's been an anxious time and brother. as they waited for news of their son

this morning They spoke to him at 9:00

he's safe and well. and say they're relieved and grateful also has welcomed the release. The Australian Government

Leonie Mellor, Ten News. A rescue mission's under way off the Tasmanian coast. to collect a seriously ill sailor

But there's controversy. He works on a Japanese whaler. a minke whale in Australian waters A Japanese whaling boat harpoons off the Antarctic coast. they'll slaughter this year, It's just one of hundreds are doing their best but protesters from Greenpeace their easiest catch of the day. to make sure this isn't The whalers this year

We intend to put ourselves between

the harpoon and it the whale to We intend to put ourselves between

provide a shield for the whales and the harpoon and it the whale to avoid them being

harpoons. avoid them being shot by the provide a shield for the whales and

The whalers this year

of minkes to more than 900 expect to double their catch

and, for the first time, to their list. they're adding endangered fin whales inflatable speed boats, Dispatched into the crew of the 'Nisshin Maru'. protesters attempt to confront whale being brought on board. Their aim is to stop a harpooned

They succeed for a while. for for this kind of force. But are no match in Australian waters The hunt is the first Whaling Commission called since the International for an end to annual slaughter it's all in the name of science. but Fisheries Japan say Environmental activists claim commercial whaling in disguise. it's nothing more than Over the next two years, to the annual kill 40 more fin whales will be added along with 50 humpback whales. Liz O'Gorman, Ten News. Fire crews are on high alert across New South Wales. with a horror weekend expected A total fire ban is in place and strong winds expected to continue with soaring temperatures until Christmas Eve. In an unprecented move, Phil Koperberg NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner

three days in advance has called the ban concerning authorities the most. with conditions on Christmas Eve

Fire crews spent the night of the season fighting the State's first bushfire on Sydney's northern beaches. hose down roofs and gardens. Residents forced to frantically was burnt About 15 hectares of bushland to get the flames under control. before fire crews managed It was right up to the back fence. I can't tell you how scary it was.

before it go up here. I'd been hosing for a long time

Really scary. Very high flames. It started right down the end. really dry, a lot of broken branches There's a lot of fuel, the bush is

and it's still now over. Anything can happen now. a sweltering 38 degrees Christmas Eve is forecast to reach bringing strong gusty winds. a late change on Saturday afternoon Commissioner Phil Koperberg And NSW Rural Fire Service joins us this morning. Good morning, Commissioner. Good morning, Natarsha. extraordinary measures Mr Koperberg, you've had to take already across NSW. putting a total fire ban in place to become this weekend? How bad do you expect conditions will certainly see Well, Friday and Saturday which is conducive the onset of weather to very high levels of fire danger. will be under the influence Much of NSW, if not all of it, strong winds, low humidities of very high temperatures, danger across most of the State which will produce an extreme fire ban for 72 hours is a prudent move so the imposition of the total fire the number of fires to try and minimise will have to deal with that firefighters difficult conditions for them. under which will be extremely those extremely difficult conditions, Commissioner, faced with you have this weekend what are the main areas of concern to protect those areas? and what's the Brigade doing we have are by and large contained Well, the 20 or so fires that their positions and firefighters will consolidate and early tomorrow morning. during the course of today

Hunter urban bushland interface The Sydney, Illawarra, concerned about. is always one that one has to be The Blue Mountains certainly. But further inland the drought-breaking rains have been very much a two-edged sword and have produced profuse levels of grass fuel, most of which has died off, has cured, and already we've seen some very large fires - 1,000-hectare grass fires around Condobolin and Wheaton. And that situation will deteriorate in the next few days as it gets hotter and windier and we will have a very severe grass fire problem emerging in central and western parts of NSW right down to the Riverina and the Victorian border right throughout Christmas and perhaps to the end of February. Thank you Mr Koperberg. NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Phil Koperberg. Australia's third richest man has declared he'll fight price-fixing allegations that could lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in fines. The Competition and Consumer Commission accuses Richard Pratt and his cardboard empire, Visy Group, of colluding with rival firm Amcor for four years. Well, I'm confident that the evidence will show I had no part in any market sharing agreement or understanding with my competitors. Amcor has been spared from prosecution in return for information about the alleged deals. The case is listed in the Federal Court in February. A controversial celebrity wedding in London. Sir Elton John and long-term partner Canadian David Furnish joining the rush to tie the knot.

They were among 700 same-sex couples who signed civil partnerships across England and Wales. Definitely one for the album. The two men arriving for their big day and Windsor's second big union of the year. CROWD CHEERS After Charles and Camilla it was the turn of Elton and David - show biz royalty - cheered by hundreds of well-wishers

and with a comforting arm to steady the nerves. As everyone strained to see this most glamorous of gay unions, the two men beamed ahead of the formal moment, the signing of a personalised civil partnership witnessed by eight people including their parents. That meant a 40-minute wait for those watching outside and a chance to hear their divided views on same-sex partnerships. It's just wonderful. I think it's lovely. I love his music. I've been a fan all these years, so why not?

I wanted to support Elton, mainly about his commitment, you know, that he wants to do this as a commitment to love. No, I don't agree with it at all. No. I've been happily married for 43 years and that's not a marriage if you're two men, two women. There were plenty of others believing they tied the wedding knot today, nearly 700 in all, including Debbie Gaston in Brighton. After 16 years together she was getting ready to sign up with Elaine Gaston who's already changed her surname by deed poll ready for a lifetime together. It cements the relationship and it says to the world, you know, "This is what I want to do, this is who I am "and this is who I'm in love with." Back in Windsor, Elton John and David Furnish were geting ready to start their life together. After 12 years of commitment, they wanted to be among the first to get an official seal of recognition. As they headed back to their home the couple who already had it all now have everything. More bad boy claims dog one of rugby league's high profile stars. That story when the morning news returns. And what finally brought this dramatic police chase to an end. Saddam Hussein has accused Americans of torturing him while he's been in custody. The former dictator made the accusations during an angry outburst at his war crimes trial. Saddam Hussein began the day surprisingly calm after boycotting the last court sitting. But it didn't last. "We were beaten by the Americans" he says. "We were tortured, every one of us". The former dictator pointing to all seven of the co-accused

in his war crimes trial. He went on to say every part of his body is scarred from the torture but that he's not complaining about the Americans. US officials are also protesting. The White House accusing Saddam Hussein of "grand standing" saying it knows of nothing that would substantiate his claims. I think these are bogus claims designed to ambush the court.

The judge isn't allowing that to happen. In a rare show of courage, one witness even confronted Saddam face to face describing how Iraqi captives were tortured by having their skin ripped off.

" They took me down the stairs." I hear screams and shouting and after that the shouting stopped and a body bag went out. In another twist to the day's proceedings, Saddam told the court he knew how the US found him two years ago and who betrayed him. In the United States, Leisa Goddard-Roles, Ten News. A judge has threatened to jail leaders of New York's transport strike which is causing widespread chaos for a second day. New York streets are choked with traffic as millions struggle to get to and from work. With buses and most trains idle,

commuters have little choice but to walk in the bitter cold.

Despite already being fined $1 million a day, strikers refuse to go back until talks resume. But mayor Michael Bloomberg says there'll be no negotiating until the strike ends. The workers have to go back to work then they can go back to the bargaining table as far as I'm concerned. Stores report a dramatic slump in sales and the only ones apparently benefiting are the city's cabbies. A sixth sense saved the lives of three would-be passengers on Monday bound to board a seaplane that exploded mid-air over Miami Beach. Investigators now say they've found cracks in the main support beam of the wing that fell off the aircraft shortly after it took off on a flight to the Bahamas. They say the damage on the 58-year-old aircraft

may have gone undetected for some time. All 20 people on board were killed. But the toll would have been greater except for an eerie feeling of one intending passenger. I suddenly just felt it. I had a strange feeling - "let's go!" Investigators are checking the plane's flight recorder for more clues to cause. Amazing pictures of a high-speed car chase in Texas that looked more like a demolition derby. The police tried everything to stop the speeding car but the driver was determined to just keep on going. When his car had eventually had enough, he took off on foot but was caught a short time later.

It all started when police tried to flag him down over a minor traffic violation. Another first for French surgeons after successfully separating 15-month-old twins joined at the spine. The twins were born three months premature and weighed only 800 grams each. They were joined at the lower back sharing part of the spinal cord. That concerned doctors who feared any damage to it could leave one or both twins paraplegic. But after extenstive tests they went ahead with the operation. When the babies came out of their anaesthetic their surgeons were thrilled to see them move both their legs and toes. Ahead - allegations of drunken behaviour by an NRL star at a charity golf event. That's when Ten's Morning News returns. And another wild exit for an Olympic skiing great. Which one are you interested in? during the 2005 model clearance. Mazda6 Classic now clearing from just $29,990. The 2005 model clearance will really do it for you. In finance news - the Australian share market is strong this morning. And at Commonwealth Securities is Craig James. The market's winning run continuing, Craig.

Yes, a strong performance

especially when you consider the

solid gains of yesterday to record

highs and leading the way today

again is the mining and energy

again is the mining and energy sector. Shares of reo tipto and BHP

Billiton at fresh record highs.

Billiton at fresh record highs. Woodside shares are up 1.5% today

on higher oil prices overnight.

Shares in Woodside petroleum have

Shares in Woodside petroleum have basically doubled over the last 12

months. A takeover bid by Alco for

Wattle is valuing the paint-maker

at $275 million and says it has

undergone costly restructures over

the last cup of years but is still

providing disappointing earnings.

As yet though Wattle hasn't respondsed to the bid. More reports of drunken behaviour from NRL players. This time one of the games best, Penrith and Kangaroo star Craig Gower. Gower is accused of inappropriately touching the daughter of a league legend in Queensland. at a charity golf tournament in Queensland. It was Craig Gower's alleged behaviour at Jack Newton's charity golf day on the Sunshine Coast that has brought the latest round of allegations over poor conduct under the influence of alcohol. The allegations surround the daughter of league legend Wayne Pearce. Pearce is making no comment but Gower's club Penrith are launching a full investigation into the matter. I'll be talking to as many people as I can to either substantiate or unsubstantiate the rumours. The results of the review will be passed on to the NRL. Witnesses have told Ten News Gower was drunk before 11:00am and was warned to tone down his behaviour. Gower releasing a statement saying he's disappointed that a night on the drink with a few mates had lead to what he described as absurd rumours. Manager Greg Willett defending Gower's character. He's the same guy that everyone's now pounding at a testimony

and gave all his money to the kids at a street - a church at Penrith. Neil Cordy, Ten News.

South Africa has touched down in Melbourne to prepare for Boxing Day's second Test at the MCG. And the visitor's confidence is high after their Perth draw with their best player set to return for cricket's biggest match of the year. Things are on the up and up for South Africa. A morale-boosting draw in Perth the perfect Christmas present. The Boxing Day Test suddenly looks less daunting with the Series all square. I think we carry a lot of momentum into the Melbourne Test and hopefully by the end of that we can walk out as winners at the end of the day. Jacques Rudolph played a career-defining innings and with Jacques Kallis almost certain to return, the visitors have a nice dilemma - who to leave out in Melbourne. The one certainty is it won't be Rudolph. Oh, I would definitely say so.

I think if you take the opposition you play against and the situation um, a lot of pressure during the day and I think for us a great momentum shift coming into the Melbourne Test. The Aussies have been on the back foot since the Perth draw. Ricky Ponting's declaration a hit with Brad Hodge

but not with his critics. Ricky did float around the boys so it wasn't a decision he made by himself and all the guys were happy.

Meanwhile, Ponting has given fans a dressing down after South Africa lodged an official complaint over racial abuse hurled at a number of players during the Test. There's no room in sport for racism whatsoever and as I've said, the players are all aware of that and if the crowd could be aware of that as well and try and just go to the game and enjoy it for what it is

Security was stepped up at the WACA as a result and is sure to be tight when the two teams meet again at the MCG on Boxing Day. Rob Waters, Ten News. Tennis player Mariano Puerta has been handed the longest suspension in the history of professional tennis - an 8-year ban following a second positive drug test. The Argentine, ranked 13th in the world, tested positive for a banned stimulant after finishing runner up at this years French Open. He had previously served a 9-month suspension for steroids. The ban is likely to end the 27-year-old's career. He is considering an appeal. Skiing great Hermann Meyer

has emerged unscathed from a nasty fall just two months out from the Winter Olympics. The Austrian legend was competing in the Giant Slalom

at a World Cup race in Slovenia when he lost control. The two-time Olympic gold medallist with a history of spectacular crashes lay face down in the snow for a minute but suffered no serious injury. American favourite Bode Miller also had a scary moment and failed to finish the course. The event was won by Austrian Benjamin Rach.

We'll look ahead to the weather details when the Ten News returns. Here's a Christmas present for the whole family. We've extended our offer until Christmas Eve,

so you can still get FOXTEL Digital installed in metro areas

and your first month for just $10. FOXTEL Digital. Call 131 787 now. Now for a look at the national weather and for the rest of the day. There's just three sleeps till Christmas and Santa is on his way. After packing up presents at his cabin in North Pole, Santa has saddled up Rudolph and set off for his annual trip around the world. (Sings) # Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one-horse, open sleigh # Jingle bells, jingle bells jingle all the way. # Santa has lodged a preliminary flight plan with Air Services Australia. He'll use a Flex Track flight path to harness high-level tail winds putting him in Australia late Christmas Eve. That brings you up to date with all the news. Stay with Ten for updates throughout the day

and the full details in Ten's news hour tonight. I'm Natarsha Belling. Good afternoon. Supertext Captions by the Australian Caption Centre.