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This program is captioned live. This morning - an emotional vigil for victims
of the Connecticut school shooting as President Obama flies in
to meet families.

Thousands of Australian tourists
take cover as a tropical cyclone tracks
towards Fiji.

And the Duchess of Cambridge
resumes her royal duties.

VOICEOVER: This is Seven
Morning News with Talitha Cummins.

Good morning. US President Barack Obama will today
honour the victims and survivors of the Newtown school shooting. An evening vigil is being held to
mourn the 20 children and 6 adults

, The small town is still in mourning, the shattered town has spent the day grieving as it struggles to understand how the massacre happened.

, The residents took solace in houses of worship. This was a time to play. Newtown wanted privacy to remember the 6 adult women and 20 children, just six and Seven years old, gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This town is 60 School. This town is 60 square miles of sadness. 9 days before Christmas, this should be a big weekend for this tree farm but the parking lot is almost empty and the Caroles have been turned off. We kind of just have to go through the motions. That's what I feel like. I don't feel like we have our heart into it. We are just going through the motions. Across the nation, gestures of respect and solidarity. The NBA, champion, Miami heat took the court with their children, with the pull pit of Washington's national cathedral. I can not even begin the grasp the pain experienced by their parents. . Silent night. Instead of a skit, 'Saturday Night Live', opened with the New York City children's choir. Sleep in heavily peace. # The NFL observed a moment of silence before today's games. The New York Giants wore the initials of the Sandy Hook schools on their helmets, the Monday, the painful task of saying good by will begin with the funeral of 6-year-old Noah, posner: Tuesday, Newtown schools will reopen Tuesday, Newtown schools will reopen, all except handy hook. Officials are still searching for a building where the five to ten-year-olds can go back to learning.
We want to keep these kids together. They need the support of each other. As they as the community grief for the 27 lives taken by one man.

Thousands of Australian tourists
and locals are preparing for the strongest
cyclone to hit Fiji in 20 years. It's also forecast
to flood low-lying areas. Hamish Clark sent this report
from Fiji.

It's raining heavily in Nadi, over 3,000 people have been evacuated, north and north Fiji, here and Nadi, the airport is closed. Hundreds, possibly thousands of tourists have been taken off the islands. We went to The Hill tonne hotel, you will see that every window and every room has been taped up in case the winds blow them in. On the ground floor, those living there have been told to put towels down to stop the sea surging in and they have had to fill their baths full of water. They are stocked up and they have been told to sit tight for the next 36 hours. We are as safe as can be in such situations, the major worry is for the Fijians themselves who don't have half the protection we have. It will be slow. Is that good or bad. It will pick everything up slowly. The slower a cyclone travels, the more powerful it gets. It was due to be off Nadi, about 60ks off the coast at 6 PM night. That has been moved back to 8 PM. It means it will be stronger and there will be spring tide, a high tide after 9 o'clock tonight. So, everyone in Nadi, in Fiji is bracing themselves for the effects of the

Some very relieved schoolies
arrived back home last night, leaving Fiji ahead of Cyclone Evan
making landfall. Several groups were scheduled
to arrive home, others cut their trip short. On the last day
it got very overcast and there was a lot of wind
picking up, that was probably the calm
before the storm. The other schoolies, sadly for them
had to leave a day early but it's good we left when we left,
I guess, for safety reasons. Australian tourists as well
as locals have been evacuated from low lying areas.

Returning now to our top story - a memorial service is underway
in Newtown, Connecticut where strong crowds have gathered
to pay their respects

Mike Amor is in Connecticut. The President has arrived and he has met with the victims' family ahead of the service, I understand. We are just waiting for that service to start. It has been delayed because the President was delayed getting here. He spent about an hour with the victims' families and police and paramedics who were first on the scene. You can imagine that must have been an emotional highly emotional meeting. There are about 1,000 people packed into the auditorium of the Newton high school. A lot of people are in Overflow area so a lot of people trying to get into the memorial today. A lot of those family members are in that auditorium waiting for this memorial service to begin. The President has held four types of these memorials in the course of his time as president after mass shootings. He has always today copping a lot of flak over the fact that he hasn't acted against banning these types of assault rifles which were used to kill these stew were used to kill these were used to kill these students. We are hearing some touching tributes for the victims, including the teachers. Yeah, just remarkable stories of the bravery of teachers, not bravery of teachers, not trained really to tackle this type of gun man. But that's what they did. Just the story of just one of those teachers, as an teachers, as an example, 27-year-old Vickery, she was in the second classroom attack so she knew what she classroom attack so she knew what she was facing. She had already heard the students in the classroom next door, 14 little stau dents, aged 6 and 7 who were huddled together. They were all killed. Then the gunman approached her in her classroom. She told her that her students were not inside. She was killed but she was able to save her students. Listen to what some of her relatives students. Listen to what some of her relatives had to say about her bravery. Protecting her kids, doing what she knew to do. Protecting her children. Huddling them in a closet and trying to shield them from the spray of the bullets. It was very emotional but it was also autumn to see how many people this touched and seeing all these people come out for support of my sister and our family. And I know Vickery would have been very happy to see all those people there and supporting her. Yeah, the Heartbreak just continues in this town. The first funeral will be held tomorrow for six-year-old Noa posner, just the start of so many few rans Incredibly sad, thank you, Mike, we will speak to

The last opinion poll of the year who has recorded the worst
disapproval rating for an Opposition Leader in almost 30 years. But it's not good news
for the Labor Party either, which would still lose
if an election were held now.

Wayne Swan went in to today's
meeting with his state counterparts with his mind already made up. We will not be considering any
increase in the rate of the GST. That is the lazy way
to go about tax reform. But the treasurers will be
discussing the findings of a review into the GST. Mr Swan claims
the states are being pressured into trying to change the tax
by Joe Hockey. An idea laughed off
by state treasurers. He doesn't want to talk
about tax reform. He's trying to put out
a red herring. It puts today's meeting off
to a really bad start. But it's been a good start
to the week for Labor with the release of the last opinion
poll of the year. The Nielsen poll shows
the majority of voters are unhappy with Tony Abbott's handling
of the AWU scandal. Mr Abbott's performance rating
has taken a plunge. His disapproval figure sits
at minus 63 - the worst rating
for an Opposition Leader since Andrew Peacock led
the Coalition in 1984. I'm very confident
we can win the next election. I'd much rather be in our position
than in the Government's position. And for good reason - the Coalition still holds
an election-winning lead in the two-party preferred stakes,
ahead 52% to 48%. The Prime Minister can go
into the Christmas break comfortable that she's more popular
than her opponent. But as long as the Coalition
is ahead in the polls, Tony Abbott's leadership is safe.

The body of nurse Jacintha Saldanha
has arrived in India ahead her funeral today. Media crews and security guards
surrounded her coffin as it arrived in Mangalore
in the country's south. Nurse Saldanha took her own life after a radio prank call
about the Duchess of Cambridge.

Her husband and two children
accompanied her body from London.

Thousands are expected
at the funeral in a small village outside the city. A teenage boy has been airlifted
to hospital The 16-year-old was hunting
in a billabong in a remote part of Arnhem Land when he was bitten on the leg
by the one metre croc. He's being treated in Darwin
and is in a stable condition. It follows two fatal crocodile
attacks in recent weeks. A Melbourne driver has been pulled
to safety by brave witnesses just moments before his car
caught fire. Police and firefighters were called
to the Toorak crash last night. Appears to be at great speed,
lost control and ended up through
the front fence of one house and landed into another house, taking out a power pole
on the way through. The vehicle then burst into flames. The man was the only person
inside the car and was taken to hospital
with serious injuries. Police are appealing for witnesses.

Girls have achieved higher marks
than boys in Victoria's VCE results out today but twice as many males than females
have made the state's top rank. Nearly 47,000 students also received
their ATAR results this morning. 25 boys and 12 girls earned rankings
of 99.9-5, the highest score possible. Queensland school leavers
have been able to access their marks since Saturday. New South Wales students
will have to wait until Wednesday.

The Duchess of Cambridge
has resumed her royal duties after being treated in hospital
for severe morning sickness. It was Kate's
first formal public appearance since her pregnancy was announced
two weeks ago. Dressed in a dark green
Alexander McQueen dress, she attended the BBC Sports
Personality of the Year awards to present two honours. The Duchess skipped the red carpet but stopped to chat with athletes
after the ceremony. Next in Seven News -
we check finance. A spike in sick days
this festive season. And a star studded farewell
for the Rolling Stones.

Australia, the only thing
more delicious than this beautiful Coles
Hunter Valley free-range turkey... Grown by me. ..is when they're served with my special golden apricot glaze. Sally, you like gold, don't you? What made you think of that, Curtis? VOICEOVER: For Curtis's tips on
how to carve the turkey, plus more, visit coles.com.au. That turkey is amazing.
You're welcome. CURTIS: How's it taste, guys?
(ALLEXCLAIM) Mmm! My recipe.
My turkey. # It's Christmas time... # ALL: Merry Christmas from Coles!

To finance now and joining me is Bill Evans, global
head of economics from Westpac. Good morning, Bill. How has our market responded to the
weak close in the US on Friday?

Yeah, nervousness about the fiscal cliff helicopters in the US. It was down 0. down 0.3% on the night to be slightly down over the week. We responded with being down 0. responded with being down 0.15% responded with being down 0.15%. Our financials are down about 0. financials are down about 0.3% but the restores stocks are up 0. the restores stocks are up 0.3% the restores stocks are up 0.3%. Obviously the election result in Japan which saw the opposition returned weakened the yen has given some strength to their market. What will be important for markets over the next week? I think it will domestically, we really only have the minutes from the Reserve Bank board meeting of two weeks ago that will come out tomorrow. We think we understand the reasons why they cut rates, around the weakness in the economy, the peaking of the mining boom, the fact that confidence has remained quite low. So I don't expect too many surprises there. I think the Reserve Bank will be very Bank will be very pleased to take a month off with no board meeting and assess the situation over the next two months. We still do expect them to be cutting rates in either February or March next year, particularly after we saw those very soft confidence measures that were released last week. The other big issue will be around the fiscal cliff. There have been market results to suggest that Mr Bainer has offered tax cuts for Americans earning over $ earning over $1 million and Mr Obama is looking for tax increases for people earning more than $ people earning more than $2,000. I think will be -- $ think will be -- $200,000. It will be the main drivers of markets this week. Let's hope for that rate cut next year, thank you,

In Breaking News, a light
plane has crashed near Hervey Bay, on the central Queensland coast. It's believed two people
are on board.

Emergency services are on the way Syrian fighter jets have attacked
a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus. Opposition forces say war planes
shelled a school and a mosque, leaving at least 15 people dead. The air assault follows
a bloody 48 hours, with fighting between rebels
and pro-government militia. There are half a million Palestinian
refugees living in Syria. There's concerns many will flee
to neighbouring countries as fighting escalates.

Rock legends the Rolling Stones have wrapped up
their 50th anniversary tour with a final sold-out concert
in New York. 'The Boss' Bruce Springsteen
joined the band onstage while Lady Gaga shared the spotlight
with Mick Jagger. (SING) # Gimme, gimme shelter # Lord, I'm gonna fade away. #

There was a sombre moment too
when Jagger dedicated 'Wild Horses' to the victims
of the Connecticut shooting.

Workers are expected to take
more sick days than usual

over this Christmas holiday period. Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve
both fall on Mondays, so if employees take the day off, they'll get a 5-day break
for Christmas and four days for New Year. More than a million sickies
are tipped to cost bosses a staggering $350 million.

Next in Seven News - claims
of racial abuse in the A-League and Nathan Tinkler's ownership
of the Knights under threat. Plus, rock legend Jimmy Barnes
dons pink as the Sydney Sixers
are left red-faced.

Australia will be a bowler short for the remainder of the first test
against Sri Lanka in Hobart. Ben Hilfenhaus will find out
the extent of his side strain today but it's already clear he won't take
any further part in the match. David Warner and Ed Cowan returned
to the crease this morning, looking to build on Australia's
overall lead of 141 runs. COMMENTATOR: That's a cracking shot. That's a ripper, Ed's away. Cowan survived a confident appeal
for caught behind on 34. Warner brought up his half century
with a boundary,

Big Bash League champions
the Sydney Sixers have suffered their first defeat
in 13 matches. Rock icon Jimmy Barnes cut
a dejected figure in the dugout at the SCG last night. The home side slumped
to an embarrassing 6/28 and never recovered,
limping to 9 for 113. We were off our game. There's no excuse or hiding behind
that we were poor tonight. The Scorchers were far
from convincing in the run chase, taking until the final over
to clinch a 7-wicket victory. Embattled coal baron Nathan Tinkler is determined to maintain ownership
of the Newcastle Knights, despite his escalating
financial woes. Representatives of Tinkler's Hunter
Sports Group are due to meet with Knights Members
Club directors today. And there's speculation they'll be asked to hand back
the NRL club's license. Tinkler also faces losing
a $20 million bank guarantee that was put in place
as part of the privatisation deal. Hunter Sports Group boss Troy Palmer
insists Tinkler won't be handing
the licence back. Football Federation Australia
is investigating claims Paul Ifill was racially abused
by fans, during Wellington Phoenix's 3-1 loss
to Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium. The incident took the gloss off a
dominant performance from the Reds. Import Marcelo Carrusca showed
his class with a first half double. COMMENTATOR: It's two
for the Argentine and what a sweet left foot he has. Goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic
produced a brilliant double save from a penalty in stoppage time,
to keep the Phoenix at bay.

Chelsea has blown
a golden opportunity to claim its first trophy
under Rafa Benitez, losing the final of the FIFA
Club World Cup to Corinthians. The Brazilian side broke
the deadlock in the 69th minute. COMMENTATOR: And now surely! Corinthians have got their goal! Guerrero scores.

Fernando Torres looked to have
equalised for Chelsea

in stoppage time but the Spaniard was ruled offside. In the Premier League, Tottenham
climbed back into the top four with a 1-0 win over Swansea.

Sport often throws up
inspirational stories, but this one has to be seen
to be believed. At first glance, Zach Hodskins looks like any other
talented teenage basketballer. But if you take a closer look, you'll notice the top half
of his left arm is missing. That hasn't stopped the 16-year-old
from averaging 12 points a game for his American high school team. Hodskins says he just wants
to earn the respect of opponents.

Stay with me
here on Seven's Morning News. I'll be back with all the weather
details after this break.

MAN: When you come to Taronga
Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, you're coming for
magnificent wildlife in wild open plains. And with conservation at the heart
of everything we do, you're coming for rare
and endangered animals. Plus, you can explore the zoo
on our bikes and carts and even stay overnight. For a limited time,
when you buy your tickets online, you'll save 20%
on your next wild adventure. Visit taronga.org.au. Taronga - for the wild.

Checking today's weather - in the capitals, a hot
and sunny day for Brisbane. Showers clearing in Sydney
and Canberra. Mostly sunny
in Melbourne. Possible showers
for Hobart. Partly cloudy
in Adelaide. Sunny in
Perth. Showers and storms
for Darwin. and a memorial service is currently
underway in Newtown, Connecticut. 1,000 people have packed
a school hall to pay their respects
to the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School
shooting. US President Barack Obama
is among the mourners. pledging support over
the coming days and months.

And that's Seven News to now. We'll keep you up to date
throughout the day and in our bulletins at 4:30
and tonight at 6:00. I'm Talitha Cummins. Thanks
for your company. See you soon. Supertext captions by
Red Bee Media - www.redbeemedia.com.au