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Seven Early News -

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This program is captioned live. This morning - saying goodbye - the first of the victims in
the Connecticut school shooting laid to rest

as the US President vows
to change gun laws. Path of destruction -
tourists trapped and homes lost as Cyclone Evan rips across Fiji. Farewell to a dame - the nation prepares to say farewell
to Dame Elisabeth Murdoch in true style.

Good morning.

Families devastated by the school
massacre in Newtown, Connecticut are beginning to say goodbye
to some of the young victims today. It follows an emotional visit
by the US President - who has promised to do
everything he can to prevent another shooting
like this from happening. packed full with people trying
to make sense of the unimaginable. You keep asking why and...there's no
answer. No answer. This afternoon, families
of some of the youngest victims will say goodbye. 6-year-olds Jack Pinto
and little Noah Pozner will be laid to rest. Chase, Jessie, James,

God has called them all home. Last night, President Obama
joined the grieving and promised their deaths
would not be in vain. We can't tolerate this anymore.

These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. He gave us a lot of hope in knowing that there's something
that's gonna be done. Police are trying to determine
a motive. They say the shooter
killed his mother then broke into Sandy Hook
Elementary School Friday morning, killing 20 children and 6 woman
using an assault-style rifle. We are using all the expertise
in the forensic laboratory that is required
to analyse all the evidence and we certainly hope
to paint a complete picture as to why and how this occurred. Without answers,
this community waits. It's just unimaginable. You know, it's horrible.

Hearts heavy as many question how
to celebrate the Christmas holiday just one week away.

The Sandy Hook shooting
has communities on edge and there's been another security
scare south-west of Newtown - schools in Ridgefield
were put into lockdown after a report of an armed man
at a nearby train station. Police have interviewed a man, but
he's been released without charge and the lockdown
has now been lifted. And Australia is being held up as an example on
taking action on gun laws. The US President
is under pressure to make changes. The Sandy Hook mass shooting is the
15th under President Obama's watch. I have their parents and
all the others lost and loved ones in my thoughts. As for the policy issues involved, that is for others to comment on
at this stage. Two million guns were sold
in the USA just last month. Fiji has been buffeted
by hurricane-strength winds as the most destructive cyclone
to hit the region in 20 years hammers the coast. Thousands have been left
without power and water supplies
have been cut off. For some, Tropical Cyclone Evan
has been terrifying. Very strongest one I've seen,
I've ever met, since my life. For others, devastating as they watched everything they own
be destroyed. Winds of up 270km/h battered Fiji,
flattening homes... ..bringing down trees

..and forcing people
to run for their lives. Some holiday-makers chose
to stay at their resorts. I think we'll be OK,
I'm not worried too much. We're gonna hide in the bathtub
with a mattress over our head. (BOTH LAUGH) Others left the island just in time. I heard the other schoolies, sadly for them they had to leave
a day early. But it's good we left when we left. Thousands more spent the night
at evacuation centres with power and water supplies
cut off. The cyclone has already claimed
four lives in Samoa with 10 fishermen still missing. Others were lucky - this man tied
himself to debris in the ocean. The cyclone is now expected
to turn south, moving away from the island
this afternoon. Forecasters say its next target
could be New Zealand. Thousands of mourners have gathered to say goodbye to the nurse
duped by a prank phone call by an Australian radio station. Jacintha Saldanha was remembered as
a loving person and dedicated nurse at her funeral service in India.

(WOMEN SING HYMN)

In a small town in south-west India,
they came in their thousands to say goodbye. Jacintha Saldanha left this part
of the world 12 years ago for a new life in Britain. Today, they gathered to honour her. (SINGS PRAYER)

The victim of a hoax call
meant for the Duchess of Cambridge, Jacintha Saldanha was found dead at
the hospital's nursing accommodation 10 days ago. Ahead of the funeral this morning, her husband visited the place where
later today she will be buried. Jacintha's death has deeply affected
many living in this part of India. So many people turning up
for the service this morning that extra security was brought in
by officials. But at the centre of today's funeral
was Jacintha's family - followed by Jacintha's coffin. The family are devout Catholics. During these dark days it seems
they hope they can draw some comfort from their faith.

Thousands of people are expected
to attend a memorial service in Melbourne today to pay tribute
to Dame Elisabeth Murdoch. The service will be held
at St Paul's Cathedral and will also be shown on
big screens at Federation Square. Dame Murdoch was a celebrated
philanthropist, supporting more than
100 charities a year. She died earlier this month
at the age of 103. A woman and her children have fled
a home on the Gold Coast overnight after a number of shots were fired. It's believed as many as five shots
were fired towards the Labrador home just before midnight.

A dark-coloured car was seen
leaving the area. No-one was injured.

Christmas party celebrations have
turned to tragedy in Queensland after a light plane crashed,
killing the pilot. Police say
the Cessna clipped powerlines before crashing and bursting
into flames near Hervey Bay. A friend of mine was driving past
when it happened. He reckoned the wings folded up
and she fell to the ground. The 59-year-old pilot Immigration Minister Chris Bowen
insists the Government's asylum seeker
policy is working, despite grim warnings predicting
more deaths at sea. The Government's expert asylum
seeker panel revealed at least 200 people have died since its report was released
four months ago and they're bracing for more. When we're sitting down
with families, enjoying our Christmas time
together, there will be people
going down in boats. The expert panel is predicting up
to 30,000 boat arrivals next year. Firefighters are strengthening
containment lines around a huge blaze near Noosa. The 4km firefront
in the Great Sandy National Park is expected to continue
to burn for days. Holiday-makers at a nearby
campground have been moved as a precaution. Luckily we've got the wind
in our corner so we're pretty right. The blaze has been difficult
to monitor from the air because of billowing smoke. The number of people accessing
homeless services in Australia is on the way down but thousands of Aussies are still
sleeping rough every night. more than 19,000 people sleep
in crisis accommodation. Around 128,000 people using
special services are at risk of homelessness - 29% of those are children
under the age of 17. The online shopping boom has lead to a massive increase
in the number of parcels sent through the post
this Christmas. Australia Post expects to deliver
3 million more parcels this December than it did last year. It's also hired 2,000 more staff
to help handle the extra load. Around 70% of parcels delivered by
Australia Post are ordered online. Now for your first look
at Tuesday's weather. Around the capitals - a few showers and some gusty storms
in Brisbane today.

Some morning showers
around for Hobart.

Coming up on 'Sunrise' at 6am -
social media miracle - the mother who posted
her baby's photo on Facebook which ultimately saved his life. But next on Seven Early News - why a Perth cabbie could be sacked
despite making a brave arrest. And, going, going, gone -
the Big Red Car sold at auction.

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A Perth taxidriver
who performed a citizen's arrest
on an alleged armed bank robber has an uncertain future
after his licence was suspended. Tony Vaisi was labelled a hero after
managing to restrain the woman. The driver says
she also held him at knifepoint. She pulled the knife out His licence was suspended following
information from WA Police but Tony says he has no idea
what that could be.

10 young girls have been killed
by an old Soviet landmine in eastern Afghanistan. The girls, aged between 9 and 13
years old, were gathering firewood, when one of them accidentally
struck the mine with an axe. Two other girls
were seriously wounded and are in a critical condition
in hospital. While UN figures show millions of old explosive devices
have been destroyed, Afghanistan remains one of the most heavily mined
countries in the world. Switzerland's Zurich Insurance Group has become the latest
to provide insight into the financial impact
of superstorm Sandy - expecting net claims
of nearly $700 million. That's almost $195 million more
than originally projected but still significantly less than what major US insurers
are paying out. Financial experts say the industry
as a whole could face a bill of up to $24 billion.

It's been confirmed the inquest into the death
of British singer Amy Winehouse will be reopened. An investigation found the Australian-trained coroner
who conducted the hearing wasn't properly qualified
for her job because she hadn't served
long enough as a lawyer in the UK. Assistant deputy coroner
Suzanne Greenway resigned one month after finding 27-year-old Winehouse died
of accidental alcohol poisoning. The new hearing begins
in early January. Your first finance this Early News - Wall Street trading higher
this morning.

And you could soon spot
the Wiggles' iconic Big Red Car zipping around the streets after it was sold last night. The bright red soft-top
sold for $37,500. Around 61 people were bidding
for the car online. All the money raised
from the auction will be donated
to the SIDS and Kids organisation. The Wiggles are retiring after performing 7,000 shows
over two decades. Coming up on 'Sunrise' at 6am - we meet the brave mates who helped
chase down a group of thieves. But next on Seven Early News -
a depleted Australian side pushes for victory over Sri Lanka
in Hobart. And Newcastle Knights' heavy hitters
go into bat for their cash-strapped owner,
Nathan Tinkler.

The stories we're following
on the Early News - the first of the funerals for the young victims of the
Connecticut school shooting will be held today. Jack Pinto and Noah Pozner will be
farewell at special services. Thousands of Aussie tourists
remain stranded in Fiji after Cyclone Evan
battered the coast. And firefighters in Queensland
will be keeping a close eye on a huge blaze near Noosa. Crews have been working to strengthen containment lines
around the fire. Now it's over to Mark Beretta
with all the day's sport. Thanks, Nat. Good morning. Brad Haddin will be considered
for a shock Boxing Day recall if Michael Clarke is unable to
recover from his hamstring injury. The skipper will soldier
on in Hobart, looking to guide Australia to
its first test win of the summer. Sri Lanka will begin the final day
at 2/65, chasing 393. On a crumbling pitch, Australia
wanted quick runs from Dave Warner. COMMENTATOR: (LAUGHS) That's what
he loves, that's what he loves! ...and Ed Cowan. That's what Cowan loves. Their second-century stand
in 19 innings included a Warner switch hit. It's unfair, it's unfair. Look, it's brilliant,
there's no doubt about it. Warner fell for 68 and Cowan, 56,
starting a collapse. Shane Watson made a scratchy five while Matthew Wade's elevation
above Michael Clarke backfired. The skipper pushed hard,
smashing the lead past 350. He's gone again.
The crack out of his bat was good. Clarke strained a hamstring
running for his 50 and retired hurt, leaving Australia two bowlers short. If he's done it badly,
the immediate future, not good. Yep, it's the right hamstring. Australia was all out for 278, leaving Sri Lanka 393
to win in four sessions. Oh! What a good one, yes! Watson removed Dilshan
with his first delivery and wasn't the only one
on the attack. The seagull's
not happy there, is he? Clarke did return to lead his side but dropped Kumar Sangakkara
on three. He's...caught harder ones than that. Mitchell Starc
took Australia's second wicket, bowling much better
than Ravindra Jadeja, who delivered this shocker in
India's fourth test against England. Ben Cutting is out to remind test
selectors of his ability in tonight's Big Bash League clash
against the Perth Scorchers at the Gabba.

Australia's injury-ravaged pace
bowling stocks have opened the door for Cutting who says he's a better bowler
than when he was named twelfth man against the Kiwis last year. It was probably a learning curve
for me that, like I said before, I'm just trying to have some fun now and not try and take it
too seriously. Windies speedster Kemar Roach is
finally set to debut for Brisbane after getting lost in transit
on his way to Australia last week. Mining magnate Nathan Tinkler is still the owner
of the Newcastle Knights Representatives
of the Hunter Sports Group met with the Knights Members Board
last night to reaffirm Tinkler's long-term
commitment to the club. They're adamant Tinkler's
well-documented financial woes aren't endangering the club. I'm very comfortable
with our financial position

The.I'm confident, from 25 years histrow and knowing this club it will survive.

The Members Board has urged Tinkler
to be more transparent about his financial position. 'Wild Oats XI' could slash the
Sydney-Hobart race record in half following some cutting-edge changes
to the super maxi. The 5-time line-honours winner
will be sporting a revamped keel on Boxing Day - inspired by 1983 America's Cup
winner 'Australia II'. The speed is improved
under all conditions, I think, and I'm very confident
in the boat's ability. I always have been. 'Wild Oats' could finish
inside 24 hours - her previous race record
is just under 43 hours. Daniel Popovic's
Australian PGA victory has earned the Victorian
an invitation to next year's $6 million
Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio where he'll tee it up alongside
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. His father, Radi,
is suffering incurable bone cancer and couldn't travel to Coolum. But he never stopped believing. Remember the name, he'll win the major,
he's got it in him. Radi encouraged Daniel to play on when he was working at
a pizza shop and almost quit golf.

dad's advice, Nat, can't go much better.Isn't it a great story? Thanks very much. Next, a closer look at how the weather is shaping

at how the weather's shaping up
around the country.

And that's Seven Early News
for this Tuesday. I'm Natalie Barr.
Stand-by now for 'Sunrise'. Supertext captions by
Red Bee Media - www.redbeemedia.com.au