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Seven Morning News -

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supermaxi 'Wild Thing' banned
from this year's Sydney to Hobart. A bargain-hunter's paradise
as the Boxing Day sales begin. And Michael Clarke overcomes
an injured hamstring to play in the Boxing Day Test. VOICEOVER: This is Seven News,
morning edition, with John Mangos. Good morning. Controversy has hit
this year's Sydney-to-Hobart with maxi 'Wild Thing' barred
from the start of the race. Talitha Cummins is on a boat
in the middle of the harbour where the yachts are starting
to jostle for position and joins us now on the phone. Talitha, what led to this
morning's bad news for 'Wild Thing'?

Hello, to you, John. We haven't borded the boat just yet. Grant Wharington and his crew from 'Wild Thing' have just turned up to protest the disqualification, which there was a press conference called earlier where it was announced 'Wild Thing' was disqualified because Grant Wharington failed to hand in paperwork that related to modifications made to the yachts. 76 yachts will start, the CYC is adamant 'Wild Thing' will not start. This is what the commodore, Howard Piggott had to say earlier.

It's disappointing. We've made every effort though,
we assure you. We want to see boats race
and it's disappointing. However, it's out of our hands. We must comply
with notice of race and ensure our safety standards
are maintained. And while I say I'm disappointed, I believe you just go to get on with
it now and go out and yacht race. Talitha, what are conditions like
out there and what can the competitors expect
as the day unfolds?

Yes, sure, well, we just had the final weather briefing. Conditions are looking pretty good, favouring the 60 footers and upwards. The start of the race, a stiff sow easterly, turning to a true south-easterly outside of the heads at 15 to 20 knots. Downward sailing tomorrow for a tomorrow for a -- before a westerly change sweeps through tomorrownectomy or Friday. That change will be critical as if any records are broken. 'Wild Oats XI' holds that record, the winner would need to arrive Friday 70:40 and 9 seconds.Those conditions, does it mean the race record could be under threat? Are they good conditions? Nun of the yachties like to say. Nun of the yachties like to say. The skippers like to down play. Anything could happen. The weather is the wildcard in this race. But there is the potential there.OK, thank you very much indeed. Talitha Cummins there on a very busy
Sydney Harbour, thank you. Check your local guides. Hundreds of bargain-hunters
have lined up before dawn to be first in line
for the Boxing Day sales. They have been lured with discounts
of up to 70%. Retailers are hoping shoppers will
spend close to $2 billion today. It's a Christmas tradition that continues to defy the laws
of a good sleep in on Boxing Day. ALL: Three, two, one. (CHEER)

While most of us
are still feeling the effects of yesterday's overindulgence, hundreds of people managed
to pull themselves out bed to line up for the Boxing Day sales. Some didn't make it to bed at all. We've been here 6:30 yesterday, pm -
6:30 yesterday. Got here about 3am.

Really early, we came here
about 3:30 in the morning. Myer and David Jones
opened their doors at 5am in Sydney and Melbourne. Plenty of time for bargain-hunters to hand over an estimated
$1.8 billion today. The predicted spend for the entire
post Christmas sale period is $14.8 billion.

Despite the fact there was
a great deal of sale activity in the run-up to Christmas, retailers pulled out the stops again and you are seeing
these massive discounts. The biggest discounts
are in electrical, homewares, clothing and cosmetics. And just in case
any dads missed out yesterday... I just bought a pair of socks - $5.
Can't go much cheaper than that. It's not only the sales on today,
there's also a rush on returns. Millions of unwanted presents
are set to be handed back. But shoppers beware -
cash backs are not guaranteed. Unless a product is faulty or it's not working,
it doesn't do what it's meant to do than you're not covered by the
Australian consumer guarantee laws. The advice from Choice -
have a proof of purchase. If not a receipt, at least a tag.

Let's check in on the sales. Sarah Coates is in Pitt Street Mall
in Sydney. Hi, Sarah.
Are retailers happy with the crowds?

John, the Retailers Association says the numbers are good. But we have seen bigger crowds in previous years. Now, I guess we won't know until the sales figures are released in a few weeks time. As Penny mentioned earlier, shoppers are expected to hand over $ expected to hand over $14. expected to hand over $14.Ate billion. After a flat year of retail, it is certainly needed. John, the weather is a bit of a god send for retailers, the touchy rain is forcing people indoors when normally on Boxing Day they would be out enjoying the sunshine.Thank you.

A Victorian family
is in mourning today after a taxidriver was killed
in a Christmas Day crash yesterday evening. The cabbie was stopped
at traffic lights in Geelong when it was hit by another car. The taxidriver died at the scene. The driver and passenger
in the other car were not hurt. Police want any witnesses
to contact them. At least three people have died
on New South Wales roads today. Two people died when a four-wheel drive crashed
on the Hume Highway at Holbrook. And in Sydney, a man died when two cars collided
on Richmond Road at Marsden Park. One driver died at the scene. The man driving the other vehicle
has been taken to hospital. A Queensland family has had
a Christmas they'd rather forget with fire destroying their home
at Eagleby, near Brisbane. It's believed the fire was started by a young boy playing
with a cigarette lighter. Chloe Baker has the latest. John, neighbours say they saw smoke
and heard some strange noises before they heard a little boy
screaming for help. When they ran down to the house, the 9-year-old showed them where
the fire had started under the house and he said his parents
were still trapped inside, along with another man, we believe owns the house
and was renting it to the family. Thankfully they were able
to escape the fire. A short time later
they ran down the back stairs. Neighbours say
the flames were so intense, they were unable
to fight the fire. They did try,
they grabbed the garden hose which was wrapped around a bike
in the front yard So all they could do
was watch the fire take hold. The family had to escape without
grabbing any of their possessions and watch their house
go up in flames. Here's what one of the residents
who tried to save them had to say. We were just having Christmas in the
house up the road, two doors up, and we saw the smoke out the window. Just had to watch it go up
and it took minutes. So police say they believe the little boy
had been playing with a lighter under the house when somehow the couch caught fire
and the flames took hold. This is such a tragic end
to Christmas Day for this family and we believe
they do no have insurance. Perth is in the grip of a heatwave with sweltering conditions expected
to last for the rest of the year. Temperatures edged
towards 40 degrees yesterday. Hospitals, firefighters and surf
lifesavers are all on high alert. This was the fifth hottest
Christmas Day on record. The fourth hottest was 2010. Temperatures over the next five days
are tipped to soar above 37 degrees. It's been a sombre Christmas for the small community of Newtown
in the US. the 26 children and teachers
killed in the Sandy Hook Massacre 11 days ago.

In Newtown, Connecticut, it was
a day of lingering heartache - empty stockings hung
as reminders of loss, now filled with gifts. First responders from surrounding
communities gave their time so the town's police could spend
the day with their families. Just the right thing to do.
It's why we're here. It's something needs to be done,
glad to be here. It's a pleasure to help them out. Police officers giving
police officers time off, I just think that you probably couldn't ask
for a better Christmas gift. In the New York area, where hundreds are still without
homes because of Hurricane Sandy, volunteers tried to deliver
some holiday spirit... ..handing out food, toys
and blankets at relieve centres. I think what's important really is
for people to help people. You can't put a price on that and
can't buy that either. Across the nation, Americans
attended church services and spent time with family
and friends.

At the Mitchell Offling home outside Chicago, even young members of the extended family said this Christmas felt different.I like being with my family, not presents. It's just family what matters to me.Let's go! A day for giving and giving thanks for what we have every day.

The Queen and members
of the British royal family have attended a traditional
Christmas church service in Sandringham. Well-wishers gathered outside and were greeted
by Prince Charles and Camilla. Children presented flowers
and gifts to the Queen. Prince William and his pregnant
wife, Kate, were absent - instead spending the day
with her parents. The pope has used his traditional
Christmas Day message to appeal for an end
to the bloodshed in Syria. Pilgrims, tourists and Romans
packed St Peter's Square and erupted in cheers

when Pope Benedict XVI
appeared on the central balcony. May the birth
of the Prince of Peace remind the world
where its true happiness lies and may your hearts
be filled with hope and joy for the Saviour has been born
for us. The 85-year-old also urged
Israelis and Palestinians to find the courage to negotiate. Next in Seven News - a poignant
anniversary for chef Matt Golinski. Also, new details on the shooting that claimed the lives
of firefighters in America.

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Police have revealed the gunman who lured two
firefighters to their deaths on Christmas Eve in New York state left a note
bragging about killing people. The firemen were shot as they arrived at a house fire
the gunman set as a trap. Police say the Christmas Eve ambush
of four volunteer firefighters attacked as they arrived
to battle a massive house fire in Webster, New York... It was a raging inferno out there. ..was spelled out by
the suspected arsonist and shooter in chilling, typewritten detail. Quote, "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." Authorities say
62-year-old William Spengler, who served prison time for killing
his grandmother over 30 years ago, shot at first responders
who arrived at his burning house, the fire spreading
to six other homes. We're being shot at, multiple
firemen down, multiple firemen shot.

He was equipped to go to war
to kill innocent people. Officials say the gunman was well
fortified with weapons and ammo - a .38 calibre handgun,
12-gauge shotgun and a bushmaster .223 rifle -

the same model used in the Newtown,
Connecticut school shooting. Firefighters Tomasz Kaczowka
and Mike Chiapperini were killed, two others were hospitalised. Spengler, police say,
killed himself. And later today they revealed human remains were found
in Spengler's burned house and authorities suspect
they belong to his missing sister. Motive is always
the burning question and I'm not sure
we'll never have... We'll never really know
what was going through his mind. Police are investigating whether the death of Spengler's
91-year-old mother in October, and donations she may have made
to the Fire Department, could help explain the motive for
her son's Christmas Eve shootings. A year ago today, celebrity chef Matt Golinski
lost his wife and three daughters in a house fire
on the Sunshine Coast. He was also severely injured but is battling his way
back to full fitness. His friends say
he's determined not to give up. For Matt Golinski, running
has become a form of therapy. (CHEERING) Just four months out of hospital he pushed himself
to complete a 10km fun run, now he's pushing mates as he trains
for a half marathon next year. He was the one
providing the motivation. You know, the "Come on let's go." Never afraid of a challenge, celebrity chef and friend Alastair
McLeod admits he couldn't keep up. It says a lot about
his state of mind, doesn't it, how he is getting through it? Oh, definitely does. Running's more your head
than it is your legs. He has a strong head,
he knows where he wants to be. It's that strength
which has helped him since the Boxing Day fire last year which killed his wife, Rachel, and their three girls -
Sage, Willow and Starlio. I just can't believe they're gone. It's not fair. The one-time star chef
missed the funeral - he was still in hospital with third degree burns
to more than 40% of his body. He woke from a 5-week induced
coma knowing his family was dead. Still every day
he's got hours of gym and physio and occupational therapy
and all sorts of treatment. He's still got surgery
that has to happen. But despite limited mobility
he's not only back exercising, but cooking and playing guitar. He seems to be looking
to the future, Leisa. He doesn't seem to be wanting to... And he's spoken about this - it's very easy just to wallow in it and feel sorry for yourself,
you know? But he said
there's no value in that and it's certainly not what Rachel
and the girls would want him to do. His friends are also
planning for the future. Alastair, one of six
of the country's top chefs who've helped raise
more than $500,000 which Matt has shared
with other burns victims. He's very clear, I think,
on what his pathway is and he's working towards it. He'll never forget,
he'll never forget and this is a very challenging time
of the year. A severe cold front
is sweeping across parts China and while many humans
struggle to stay warm, it's a different story
for the wildlife. These pandas at a zoo
in the country's east ventured out into the heavy snowfall to climb on branches
and swing through tyres. They even took some time out
from their play to crunch on big hunks of ice. The Siberian tigers
weren't bothered either, looking very comfortable
lazing in the thick powder. And some hardy Germans
have celebrated Christmas by taking a plunge
into a very cold river. About 40 people entered the water as part of a tradition
which dates back to 1984. But unseasonably warm weather
left many of the Berlin Seals a little disappointed. They're hoping for more ice
on New Year's Day when they'll do it all again. To finance and Wall Street is closed
because of the Christmas holiday. Next in Seven News - Michael Clarke
fit to play in the Boxing Day Test. And debutant Jackson Bird
takes his first Test wicket.

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It wouldn't be Boxing Day
without test cricket, and play is already underway. Nathan Templeton is at the MCG. So Nathan, most important question
first: Is Michael Clarke playing?

And how come?Good morning, John. Yes, the big news from the MCG is the Australian captain, Michael Clark, has lined up in the Boxing Day test. He has been the centre of attention all week. We have been following his ever move since he hurt his hamstring in that Hobart test. He put through fitness test after fitness test and he has been put through the ringer. He has been declared fit. Of course, there is a risk taking an injured player into a match but he has assured officials and fans he is right to go.

I call myself 100%. As I said yesterday
in the press conference, if I couldn't turn up today
and perform at my best for the team, I wouldn't have been playing.

The other big selection news is young paceman Jackson Bird playing his first test match, what a place to make your debut, the MCG on Boxing Day. He received the baggy green from Australian great Laurie XP green. He does play for Tasmania but plays in the big bash for the Melbourne stars. So right now, we will claim him as a Victorian. And what man than to receive your baggy green from Laurie. The most vociferous of them all. There is a big Sri Lankan contingent living in Melbourne. The crowd looks healthy, between 40 and 50,000 already. It is a fantastic time of year to be a cricket fan in Melbourne. It forms a huge part of the Christmas period down here. Of course, a full wrap up in the day's play in our afternoon news and at 6:00.

So just recapping, Sri Lanka won
the toss and put Australia in to bat but it didn't go the tourists' way. COMMENTATOR: Catch. Got him? Yes, he has. Bird gets his first. What a moment. Listen to the roar of the crowd. Fellow opening paceman Mitchell
Johnson kept Sri Lanka on the ropes. The morning session
belonging to the locals. A win in Melbourne will secure
the series for Australia.

Joining the cricket on what most Australians consider
the best sporting day of the year - the Sydney-Hobart
is just hours away. The international crews enjoyed
a visit from Santa yesterday, taking time off
from frantic race preparations to enjoy the festive season. Soon they'll be part of a fleet
of 76, with 'Wild Things' absence attempting the 630 nautical-mile
Bluewater Classic to Tasmania. And live coverage of the race
is right here on Seven today. Check your locals guides
for the start time. Brisbane Roar players
spent Christmas auditioning for their futures after being put on notice
by new coach Mike Mulvey. There were no grumbles
about training on what's a day of eating and
drinking for most Australians. Instead, the only present the
defending champs are keen to unwrap is three points tonight
against Adelaide. after just two wins
from their last 10 starts. It's a new start for everyone.
Reputations don't mean a thing. I think everyone's future
is uncertain in a way. I think you have to prove yourself
again and I think you have to impress
the new gaffer. Defender Matt Jurman is the only
change to take on the Reds. And Sydney FC was back on the
training paddock this morning, preparing for tomorrow's home clash
with the Central Coast Mariners.

We've got to get to the standard which I expect our players to be, both training and playing. Training this week has been pretty good, considering it is the Christmas period and whatever. I have been pretty happy with it but we've got to show it now on the park.

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

Drifting carriages, an icy slope.
Against bitter winds. Just like I did on Everest. But you have a Mars Bar, son. VOICEOVER: With a Mars
comes great responsibility. ARGH!

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The all-important look
at the national weather now and a trough over eastern Australia is bringing rain
to north-eastern New South Wales and could possibly trigger
severe thunderstorms in south-eastern Queensland. A high is building over
the south-east of the continent, Around the capitals -

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 John Mangos.
Thanks for your company. Goodbye. Supertext captions by
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