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Wednesday's news in under 5 minutes.

1. Victims found ‘holding hands’ in the sea after the AirAsia crash.

A piece of the plane wreckage is recovered.
A piece of the plane wreckage is recovered.

The pilot of the search and rescue plane who first spotted the debris of AirAsia flight QZ8501 has said three of the bodies were found ‘holding hands’.

“There are seven to eight people. Three [of them] again hold hands,” he said.

As divers now search for the wreckage of the aircraft and the all-important black box, a search and rescue mission for the remaining passengers of the flight continues.

In terrible scenes, grieving relatives have had to be treated by teams of medics when confronted with images of bodies floating in the sea shown on local television.

At least three bodies have been recovered after debris from the missing AirAsia jet QZ8501 was found in the Karimata Strait 110 nautical miles southwest from Pangkalan Bun last yesterday.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said last night, “To the relatives, I feel your loss, and all of us pray that all of the families are given the strength and fortitude during this incident.”

A statement from the airline which confirmed the debris was indeed from the missing plane read ”AirAsia Indonesia regrets to inform that The National Search and Rescue Agency Republic of Indonesia (BASARNAS) today confirmed that the debris found earlier today is indeed from QZ8501, the flight that had lost contact with air traffic control on the morning of 28th. The debris of the aircraft was found in the Karimata Strait around 110 nautical miles south west from Pangkalan Bun. The aircraft was an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC. There were 155 passengers on board, with 137 adults, 17 children and 1 infant. Also on board were 2 pilots, 4 cabin crews and one engineer.”

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Divers and searchers today are looking for the all-important black box to tell us what really happened to the plane.

For more read this post here.

2. WA Bushfires downgraded to watch and act

By ABC A home and three sheds have been destroyed by a bushfire south of Toodyay, about 85 kilometres north-east of Perth, but the alert level has since been downgraded.

The fire has been burning along both sides of Salt Valley Road, moving in an easterly direction.

DFES spokesman Russell Jones said a homestead was destroyed in the flames, but he did not believe it had been lived in for some time.

An emergency warning was issued on Tuesday afternoon, but by 7:40pm (AWST) the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) had downgraded the alert level for the blaze to a watch and act.

Firefighters were able to bring the blaze under control and consolidate containment lines as weather conditions improved. However DFES warned there was still a possible threat to homes.

Water bombers have left the fire ground, but will return at first The speed of the fire front had dropped by 6:30pm.

“Conditions have eased off considerably, [the] wind’s coming in probably at around 20 kilometres per hour,” Mr Jones said. “We’re certainly hoping to have it contained and controlled by midnight, all going well.”

Mr Jones said about 60 per cent of the fire’s nearly six-kilometre perimeter had been contained.

A version of this story was originally published on ABC and has been republished with full permission.  For the latest bushfire advice go to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

3. New Years Eve

New Year's Eve celebrations promised to be big.
New Year’s Eve celebrations promised to be big.
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Big celebrations are planned for New Years Eve tonight right across Australia.

Sydney: Police are hoping for a rather sober New Years Eve in Sydney with new alcohol free zones and wet weather predicted for the $7.2 million fireworks.

There will be three separate firework displays planned — at 9pm, 10.40pm and midnight.

Fireworks will be launched from 130 spots on the Harbour Bridge, as well as from barges on the water, the Opera House and other locations.

The Harbour Bridge centrepiece which always remains a secret until it lights up will be linked to this year’s theme — ‘inspire’.

Melbourne: More than 500,000 people are expected to converge on Melbourne’s CBD tonight.

7.5 tonnes of fireworks will be fired off during the evening from 21 different sites throughout the city. Early fireworks will start at 9:30pm in Yarra Park and Footscray Park.

Four live entertainment sites at Treasury Gardens, Flagstaff Gardens, Docklands and Kings Domain will run from 9pm to 1am.

Brisbane: There are two ten-minute fireworks shows this year at South Bank, at 8.30pm and 11.59pm with ten tonnes of fireworks and 40,000 individual pyrotechnic displays.

Adelaide: In Adelaide there will be two fireworks displays a 10-minute presentation at 9pm and a 15-minute spectacle at midnight.

More than 30,000 people are expected at Elder Park for the city’s official celebrations. In Perth, Darwin, Canberra and Hobart revelers are urged to celebrate safely as they attend their city’s celebrations.

 4. Police presence on New Years Eve

There will be an increased police presence this evening.
There will be an increased police presence this evening.
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Meanwhile increased terrorism chatter since the Sydney siege – which was reveled by the Prime Minister just before Christmas  – has promoted an increased police presence on our streets tonight.

The Australian reports Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Lucinda Nolan said police had revised procedures after the Lindt cafe siege.

“It has certainly made us very vigilant in terms of security risk assessment. We certainly, due to the heightened alert and the chatter, have made significant changes to the way we do business.”

In Sydney more than 3000 police officers will patrol the streets.

Queensland’s Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said yesterday that those our tonight “should be reassured by the heightened police presence”.

 5. “I could have stopped the Lindt gunman”

Man Haron Monis
Man Haron Monis

Fairfax Media reports that than Mamdouh Habib, the Australian citizen released from Guantanamo Bay after the United States wrongly accused him of being an “enemy combatant” has claimed he could have stopped Lindt cafe gunman Man Haron Monis.

He told Fairfax Media that Monis had no intention of killing any of his 18 hostages during the siege.

“This man is not violent,” Mr Habib said. “I know him very well.”

He said that Monis was “sick and disturbed” and wanted attention over his court cases.

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“I believe this man, in this situation, prepare himself to be shot – but he doesn’t want to shoot somebody. He is prepared to be killed but he doesn’t want to kill anybody. He is prepared to be harmed but he doesn’t want to harm anybody.”

Fairfax Media reports that other Muslim leaders offered to help police during the siege but that they were unwilling to allow untrained civilians to have any contact with the gunman.

 6. Sony hacking inside job

The New York Post has reported that the hacking scandal which surrounded the Sony company and forced the delay of the film The Interview was masterminded by a disgruntled former employee and not North Korean cyberterrorists.

According to the report the US cybersecurity experts say they have has narrowed their list of suspects to a group of six people including at least one Sony veteran.

The FBI stands by its claim that North Korea was behind the hack saying “The FBI has concluded the Government of North Korea is responsible for the theft and destruction of data on the network of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Attribution to North Korea is based on intelligence from the FBI, the U.S. intelligence community, DHS, foreign partners and the private sector.”

 7. US president Barack Obama calls newlywed couple to apologise for wedding day disruption

By ABC

US president Barack Obama has surprised a newlywed couple by calling to apologise after his golfing schedule forced them to change their wedding plans.

Two US army officers, captains Natalie Heimel and Edward Mallue, had planned to get married on Sunday at the Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course located on a US marine corps base in Hawaii.

But they were forced to relocate the ceremony when they found out Mr Obama was scheduled to play a round of golf at the same time.

At the new location, on the lawn of the base commander’s residence, the couple took a phone call from Mr Obama who congratulated them and apologised for disrupting their special day.

“Obama just personally called my sister and her new husband to apologize for foiling their wedding venue golfing. Amazing!” said Ms Heimel’s sister on Twitter.

The phone call “totally made their day,” Becca Dryer, a friend of the bride who attended the wedding, told the New York Daily News.

Mr Obama has been on holiday in Hawaii for nine days, during which he has reportedly played golf six times.

On Christmas Eve, he played a round with Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.

A version of this story was originally published on ABC and has been republished with full permission.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOjCv3GqnNE

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8. Play-doh forced to apologise after over penis shaped toy

Play-doh has been under social media attack after a play-doh cooking kit which contained a penis shaped icing tool called the extruder was sold for Christmas.

Some parents took to Facebook to claim the toy had “ruined” their kid’s Christmas.

For more (oh and to see the “extruder”) read this post here.

9. Parents could be fined if kids late to school

education starts at home
Hurry Hurry don’t be late.

An initiave by the Victorian government to encourage punctuality in school students could see parents fined if their kids are stragglers.

News Limited reports that the Education Department directive, issued early last month stresses the importance of punctuality to families.

“School attendance is vital for all children and young people to succeed in education and to ensure they achieve their full potential both academically and socially,’’ spokesman Simon Craig said.

“Young children who regularly miss school or are late for the start of the school day will often continue to miss classes in the later years, and receive lower test scores than their classmates.”

The “Every Minute Counts” initiative come after an introduction last year of $70 fines for parents whose children are absent for at least five days in a year without a reasonable excuse.

University of Melbourne Assoc Prof Kay Margetts told News Limited being late could upset the rest of the day.

“Getting to school late creates stress for the children — and that stress upsets the brain,’’ Assoc Prof Margetts said.

“They’re not really just losing 10 or 15 minutes by being late. They’re also losing time in calming down and being able to participate appropriately in what’s going on.”

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 10. Darwin police seek singed offender

Police in Darwin have released CCTV of a masked man trying to rob an ATM, but things didn’t go quite to plan for the mastermind criminal.

Police said “Detectives reviewed CCTV footage from the location which shows a man attend the location, light an explosive and within seconds the item exploded, knocking the man over backwards.

The man then ran from the scene.

“The offender is described to be a male of caucasian appearance, medium build and at the time of the incident he was wearing dark coloured knee length shorts, a dark T-shirt, a dark hat, thongs and wore a light coloured shirt over his face.” Oh, and singed eyebrows.

11. 5-year-old Sydney boy used as a drug mule by his uncle.

A 34-year-old man has been charged after he allegedly used his 5-year-old nephew to sell heroin.

Police allege the boy, from Sydney, was seen on numerous occasions to be collecting money from the drug transactions.

The police raid was carried out on the man’s home in Kings Cross, located in Sydney’s inner-city area.

The man has been charged by police with a string of offences, including the ongoing supply of a prohibited drug, five counts of supplying a prohibing drug and three counts of procuring a child to take part in the process.

He has been refused bail.

12. Man dies at Falls Festival in Byron Bay.

By ABC

A Brisbane man has died while attending the Falls Music and Arts Festival in northern New South Wales.

The man in his 20s was found dead about 7:30am (AEDT) at a camp site set up for the annual Byron Bay music festival, police said.

Police said they were not treating the death as suspicious.

They said a post-mortem examination would be carried out to determine how the man died.

Festival organisers confirmed the man’s death in a Facebook post, saying they were extremely sad about the news.

“The deceased has been identified and relatives have been notified,” the post said. “Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this terribly sad time.”

The sold-out festival continues in Byron Bay until January 3. The festival is also being held at Marion Bay in Tasmania and Lorne in Victoria.

Mamamia News wishes all our readers a Happy New Year and a wonderful 2015. Stay safe this evening.

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