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Seven Morning News -

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(generated from captions) record in the Sydney-Hobart. from an Australian man in the Philippines. after being targetted by fire bombs. morning edition, with John Mangos.

XI' and 'Ragamuffin Loyal' from their first night at sea as the fleet races down
the east coast. Better conditions are now favouring
the supermaxis with 'Wild Oates' extending its lead
and reaching race-record speed.

As the sun rose over
the Sydney-Hobart fleet, Wild Oats XI was keeping
Ragamuffin Loyal at bay. It was a pretty rough start
and a pretty challenging night for the guys. We hit a log, I think,
at pretty high speed and did a bit of damage there. But we've got that under control and yeah, we're just trucking
along now at about 20 knots. It's been a drag race
between the two from the start. COMMENTATOR: And you can
just see the distance between Wild Oats and Ragamuffin. Other skippers are said
to be seething after Ragamuffin escaped penalty
for a false start that will now be looked at
by an international jury. The signal at five minutes
after start appears not to be properly given to notify the skipper of Ragamuffin
that he'd broken the start. Yesterday, the leaders
were well off record pace but a strong nor-easterly
this morning has helped them gain speed
as they head towards Bass Strait. It's a battle on the high seas but there's a battle
brewing on shore as well after Wild Thing was prevented
from starting just hours before the race. Owner Grant Wharington falling foul
of the racing committee which claims he didn't submit
the appropriate paperwork on time. He now claims there was a campaign
to get him scrubbed from the race. It's hard enough to get
to the start line let alone having competitors
ringing other competitors,

In some breaking news - police have made an arrest over
a particularly violent assault in Sydney. Robert Ovadia was there for
the arrest. Rob, what's happened?

Morning, John, as you say, it was a violent arrest. In the past hour or so, police from fair felled have moved in on a house here in Sydney's southwest. There they arrested a man in his 20s. His name is Adam Saleba. He is accused of walking into a hair salon and committing the most horrific of assaults on a hairdresser. They used a baseball bat. There is CCTV vision of the attack bat. There is CCTV vision of the attack which I'm told is too horrific to screen. Police are still looking for those other three people. Adam himself, as I found out this morning is quite a colourful character. He has been shot before by a very well known Sydney gangsters and entertained not only us but the news New South Wales Police Force as he was being arrested. Where is all the crimes commission money? Buy a new van. You have to turn it off to open it. Are you serious? Do you want to take my car, take me in my car. So Adam So Adam Saleba there. They are three other people that police want. They are confident worse catch them. If anyone can help, they are asked to call Crime Stoppers. Thank you,

A Sydney family has had
a narrow escape after a fire bomb was thrown
into their house overnight. They managed to put out
a small fire before it caused major damage. The family thinks a feud
over a bad debt may be the reason behind the attack. Hugh Whitfeld has the details. Good morning, John. This attack has left the family
inside this South Granville home pretty shaken and with some
cleaning up to do today. An elderly couple and their two
adult children were inside the home at about 10:30 last night. The elderly lady tells us that she
was actually praying at the time when the Molotov cocktail was thrown
inside through a bedroom window, smashing inside
and sparking a small fire. It's essentially
a crude bomb-like device. It certainly scared those inside,
especially the elderly couple. Let's have a listen
to what they told us. All of a sudden we hear a big bang
and a glass breaking. We thought like something happened
in my son's room. My husband screamed, "Raymond, are
you alright? What's happening?" Then my daughter,
she ran out of the bedroom and she saw the fire
and she start to scream and she went out
and she got the hose. And she put the fire down. Witnesses have told police
two men were outside the property when the Molotov cocktail
was thrown through the window. They ran off. Police are looking for them
but the family here says they've got a fair idea of who did
this or who might be behind this. There's been a dispute brewing between the adult son
and a nearby neighbour over the last couple of weeks, possibly over a bad debt
about $1,500. As I say, police are yet
to charge or arrest anyone but the family here has a fair idea
of what's going on. John.

A man is appearing
in a Melbourne court today charged with two counts of murder. Emergency crews responded
to a house fire last Saturday and found the bodies
of an elderly couple, at Yarraville
in Melbourne's inner west. 24-year-old Ross Konidaris
of Sunshine West was charged with two counts
of murder and one court of arson late yesterday.

An Australian man being held hostage
in the Philippines says he has no hope
of being released in a new video posted online. Warren Rodwell has been held
by Muslim extremists for more than a year. The Australian government says it's
concerned by his ongoing captivity.

This is the first time
Warren Rodwell has been seen since last May. Video clip today is to say
that I am alive... It was filmed on December 16. He holds a copy
of the local newspaper. I have been held prisoner, kidnapped
by Abu Sayyaf Muslim terrorist group for over one year,
actually 53...54 weeks today. The 54-year-old was taken from his
home in the southern Philippines on December 5 last year. He lived there with his wife. The new video could be part
of negotiations for his release. Abu Sayyaf initially demanded
a $2 million ransom but that's now been reduced. The Australian Government says,
"We do not pay" 'cause if we pay once, every Australian around the world
is likely to be kidnapped. But there are intermediaries so obviously the purpose
of this video is to say, "Yes, this man is still
alive, give us the $23,000." This is the third video released
by the Australian's kidnappers. He appears in good health,
despite his long ordeal. I'm surprised he's still alive,
to be quite honest. He was kidnapped a year ago,
he's in rugged jungle, lot of Dengue fever and malaria
still there. I personally hold no hope at all
for being released. I do not trust Abu Sayyaf. I do not trust
the Australian Government. I just don't trust anyone.

Authorities say information passed on through
the National Security Hotline has helped prevent terrorist attacks
on Australian soil. As the hotline celebrates
its 10th birthday, we're being reminded
to report any suspicious activities.

The Crisis Coordination Centre where
tips from the public are received

about suspicious behaviour. Which have ultimately prevented
terrorist attacks occurring here in Australia. It's been 10 years since
the National Security hotline was established, set up after the 2002 Bali Bombings, to collect information on threats
to Australia's security. This advertisement encouraged
Australians to speak up. Be alert but not alarmed. Together let's look out
for Australia. If you see something suspicious,
call 1800 123 400. And they did.

Around 170,000 calls have been made
from the public to the hotline about people purchasing chemicals or people accessing
extremist websites or having very extreme views
about terrorism. That information is often acted on,
and quickly. In some instances, it may only
be a matter of hours from when information is received till we've actually got police
on the ground actually doing something about it. 10 years on, we're being
told not to let our guard down. Authorities want any suspicious
information, no matter how small,
passed on through the hotline. You might think its
a small piece of information but when our investigators see it
as part of a whole puzzle, it can often lead to a breakthrough. A breakthrough which could prevent
a future terror attack.

Several birds, worth $16,000, have been stolen
from a wildlife park in Sydney over the Christmas break. A man broke into Featherdale
Wildlife Park at Doonside early on Christmas morning,
taking 10 animals from the site. Among the stolen birds
were two blue and yellow macaws. We're absolutely devastated
by the loss. The macaws
are a breeding pair of macaws and are worth in excess of $12,000. Police say the birds
were carefully targeted and the thief appeared to have
a good knowledge of the park. Gerry Anderson, best known
as the creator of 'Thunderbirds', has died in his sleep,
at the age of 83. The film and television producer
had suffered for several years with dementia.

VOICEOVER: Five. Four.

Three. Two.

One.

Thunderbirds are go. Those words all that's required
to launch a generation of adults back into childhood - the work of Gerry Anderson, the man
who invented supermarionation. Mention 'Thunderbirds' to people
and they know what you mean. They always can sing
the theme tune or they start walking around
like puppets. So it is there,
it's in our psyche, absolutely. (CLEARS THROAT) Ah, sorry
to hurry you, my lady, but you did say as how you wanted
to look at your sheep before retiring for the day. So I did, Parker. I'm ready now. Lady Penelope and the rest, puppets who kindled
the imagination of children obsessed by adventure,
action and space travel in the days before special effects. Anderson's own views
on his methods, perhaps surprising. I hated working with puppets. I mean, I simply tried
to make the puppet shows look as close to a live action show
as I could because that is what I really
wanted do. And that is what
I eventually got to do but I would never have
chosen puppets. And I would never go back
to puppets. Far too difficult. He did eventually work
with human actors but the millions of happy memories
of exploding models may be the best memorial to him.

Next in Seven News - President Obama
cuts short his holiday to address the looming problem
of the fiscal cliff. And how two orphaned bear cubs were
rescued from the forests of Russia.

The Boxing Day sales are on again, but this year, think bigger than new shoes,
a new TV or a fancy new barbecue. Think this big. This year, your Holden dealer is having a Big Boxing Day Sale until
December 30. Get the Boxing Day bargains
you really want - new cars,
demonstrators and used vehicles all priced to clear
with huge factory bonuses. Get down
to your Holden dealer today and don't
miss out. Holden's Big
Boxing Day Sale is on now, but must end
December 30.

Dad's spraying flies again.

What on earth are you doing? Trying to lure him
into my kill zone. Don't want to spray
near the kitchen! Oh, give that here.
This is Mortein NaturGuard. Ah. Oh, no! Nowhere is safe for me! With 90% natural ingredients
and eucalyptus extracts, Mortein NaturGuard Eucalyptus
is tough on pests, not on people. Mortein NaturGuard. Also available
for crawling insects with a six-month
barrier protection.

A man who was photographed driving at high speed with his feet
sticking out of his car window has contacted Melbourne police after they announced
they knew who he was. The dangerous stunt follows
an horrific 24 hours on Australian roads, including the death of a taxidriver,
hit by an out-of-control vehicle near Geelong.

this is going to be a horrendous
Christmas-New Year period for us. Police say this man's stunt amounts
to a criminal offence of conduct endangering life.

Former South African president
Nelson Mandela has been discharged from hospital where he was being treated
for a lung infection. The 94-year-old also underwent
surgery to remove gallstones after doctors discovered them
during his stay. Mr Mandela spent almost three weeks
in hospital - his longest visit since his release
from prison 22 years ago. He's been in frail health
for several years, retiring from public life in 2004. He'll be staying at his home
Johannesburg, where he'll continue
to receive medical care. President Barack Obama is about
to break his Christmas holidays to try to save the US economy
from the so-called fiscal cliff. He's facing a deadline
of January 1 to secure a deal
with his political rivals which would stop tax increases
for middle Americans.

President Obama will be leaving
the warmth of Hawaii and return to stormy Washington,
Thursday, to try and stop the country
from going over the fiscal cliff. But right now there is
no specific deal on the table. Democrats blame Republicans
for not agreeing last week to end tax cuts
for the wealthiest Americans. Basically what they said is that we are not going to let the rich
pay one dime more. There's something awfully wrong
with that picture. And I think the American public
is seeing that. Republicans won't agree
on ending tax cuts for people making over $250,000. But say there may be room
for compromise. I'd be for no-one
having a tax increase but I know that I'm not
in the majority in the United States Senate and so I just think we've got to sit
down and hammer something out. If no deal is reached
by the end of the year, Americans will see
their income taxes go up and over 2 million people
will lose their jobless benefits. $110 billion in spending cuts
will hit many federal agencies. Analysts also predict
fewer companies will hire. As a result that paralysed
the level of activity will translate into consumption,
lack of hiring, lack of business investment
collectively supporting us moving towards
a economic contraction. Analysts also fear
that without a deal, Wall Street will struggle
as worried consumers and businesses greatly reduce their spending.

The Australian share market
had a slow start this morning. The ASX 200 resumed
from its Christmas Break but it's virtually unchanged
in morning trade.

A top Syrian military commander has apparently defected
from the Assad regime. A video posted online shows the head of Syria's military police
announcing his defection and accusing the army of having
turned into a murderous gang. It comes
as Syria's government forces are accused of another civilian
massacre in the town of Raqqa. At least 20 people were killed,
8 of them children. The UN has failed to make headway
in the conflict, despite recent reports
President Bashar al-Assad may have been planning
to step down from power.

Tourists have been evacuated
from a resort in Thailand after a fire ripped through
a building in Phuket. No-one was injured in the blaze but several guests
lost all their belongings. The fire destroyed several rooms
at the boutique hotel. It took emergency crews just under
an hour to control the blaze. It's believed the fire started in a building which houses
the hotel's restaurant.

Memorial ceremonies
have been held in Thailand for the victims
of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami which killed nearly
a quarter of a million people. Candles were lit and placed in a trench on the beach,
spanning nearly three kilometres, as mourners paid respect
to the victims. The tsunami was triggered
by a 9.3 magnitude earthquake off Sumatra. 26 Australians were killed
in the disaster. Two bear cubs have been rescued
in Russia's far east after their mother
was killed by hunters. The 3-month-olds would have died The cubs have been named
Mashka and Mishka and will stay with rangers
until they get bigger.

Next in Seven News - AFL players
thrown out of the cricket. And Australia continues
to dominate Sri Lanka at the MCG.

Several AFL players were thrown out
of the MCG yesterday in ugly scenes
in the infamous Bay 13. The current and former
Melbourne footballers were enjoying the cricket until things turned sour
later in the day. Pictures show Jeremy Howe
putting his singlet back on before being escorted out
by security. Current Geelong player Jared Rivers
needed holding back after being told to leave. While Richmond's Ricky Petterd
paid special attention to some of the other MCG patrons. The AFL is yet to investigate
the incident. To the action on the field and Australia has taken a first
innings lead early on day two. The hosts resumed just six runs
short of the Sri Lankan total and have built on their overnight
foundation of 3/150. A win in Melbourne will secure
the series for Australia.

The score at the MCG
could have been mistaken for the Big Bash League yesterday but the actual Twenty20 match
was at the SCG. The world champion Sydney Sixers
were restricted to 154. Ben Laughlin bagging four wickets as the locals struggled
to break free of their recent slump. Former Australia captain
Ricky Ponting again enjoyed batting on Boxing Day though not in the baggy green
this time. COMMENTATOR: And again.
Into the deep. That should go over the ropes. 50 up for Ricky Ponting. Ponting finished unbeaten
with 63 runs off 52 balls in a man-of-the-match performance. The Sixers are now
all but out of title contention.

As mentioned at the top of the news 'Wild Oats XI' is setting
a cracking pace in the lead of the Sydney-Hobart. Helped by favourable
north-easterly wins, the supermaxi has been averaging
over 20 knots per hour this morning. If she can maintain that speed,
she'll smash her own race record but a change in conditions
is expected this evening. 'Ragamuffin Loyal' remains second,
around 20 nautical miles back with 'Lahana' in third.

Brisbane has edged away from
the bottom of the A-League ladder with a 1-0 victory on the road
in Adelaide. The Roar had the best opportunities
of the physical game at Hindmarsh Stadium, seeking their fourth win
of the season. It wasn't until the 65th minute that Brazilian forward Henrique
broke the deadlock. COMMENTATOR: Henrique! (CROWD ROARS) And Brisbane, finally. The loss is second-placed
Adelaide United's second in a row.

Manchester City's hopes of
back-to-back Premier League titles took a hit with a shock 1-0 loss
to Sunderland. COMMENTATOR: He shoots.
And he scores, does he? Yes, he has!

It's the third consecutive time City
has lost at the Stadium of Light. Cross-city rivals Manchester United
survived a scare against Newcastle coming from behind three times
to steal the points 4-3. The Red Devils now sit seven points
clear on top of the ladder.

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

Seven News
is now on your iPhone and iPad so you'll never be out of touch. Australia's number one news
is just a tap away.

To the weather now and a trough over Queensland
and northern New South Wales has the potential for severe storms. A ridge of high pressure
is creating dry conditions for the south-east
of the continent. Around the capitals - a possible shower
in Brisbane. Mostly sunny
in Sydney. Canberra,
mostly sunny. Cloud increasing
in Melbourne. Showers
in Hobart. Adelaide,
sunny. A possible thunderstorm in Perth,
and another hot day with 41. And for Darwin,
thunderstorms.

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
Red Bee Media - www.redbeemedia.com.au