ANZAC DAY SPECIAL

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, and is commemorated by both countries on 25 April every year to honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I. It now more broadly commemorates all those who died and served in military operations for their countries. Anzac Day is also observed in the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tonga.



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STORM STRIPPED OF TITLES


The Melbourne Storm have been stripped of two National Rugby League championship titles and fined $A1.5 million ($NZ1.96 million) after being found guilty of long-term salary cap breaches.


NRL chief executive David Gallop also said today that Melbourne would not accrue any competition points in the 2010 season.

Gallop said the Storm had been found to have exceeded the salary cap by at least $A1.7m ($NZ2.21m) over five years.

Melbourne were stripped of their titles from the 2007 and 2009 seasons, but losing grand finalists Manly and Parramatta would not assume those titles.

The Storm were also stripped of three minor premierships for finishing first in the regular season.

"They had a long-term system of effectively two sets of books and the elaborate lengths they have gone through to cover this up has been extraordinary," said Gallop.

"The club has furthermore been fined $A500,000 ($NZ651,000) and will be forced to return $A1.1 million ($NZ1.45m) in prizemoney, with the prizemoney being distributed evenly among the other 15 clubs."

The club last month opened its books to salary cap auditor Ian Schubert after it emerged the NRL was concerned with several issues regarding player payments, including a third-party television deal involving skipper Cameron Smith.

Gallop said the Storm confirmed that undeclared promises of extra payments were stored in a secret file.

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CHILD SINKS HOLE IN ONE


A five-year-old will be the envy of all golfers after sinking a hole in one during a juniors tournament.

England's Eleanor Gamble pulled off the ace on a 78-metre par three, avoiding a lake and several bunkers and sinking the shot on just one bounce.

Eurosport reports that Eleanor was playing with her 10-year-old brother at the time as part of a juniors tournament at the Cambridge Lakes Golf Course. She said: "I was very excited. I am going to keep playing golf, and see if I will be better than my brother.

Her father is now seeking entry into the Guinness Book of Records for the youngest person to sink a hole in one.

"She keeps saying: 'I can't believe I got a hole-in-one'," he said. "We had her great grandparents over from Ireland and we took them to the course to show off our son Jacob, who is 10.

"He is really quite good but Eleanor has stolen his limelight. There were about 15 people on the tee watching.

"She got the ball over the water and then it hopped over a bunker and someone shouted that she had got it in. We were all quite speechless really.

"I think she might have broken a record because the youngest female hole-in-one golfer listed on the Guinness World Records website is by an eight-year-old from America.

"Eleanor has smashed the record by three years. We submitted an application and now we're waiting to hear back from them."

The owner of the nine-hole course did admit that the course records a lot of aces because all of the holes are par threes within short distance of the tee.

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PHEONIX EXTEND CONTRACT


The Wellington Phoenix has been granted a five-year license extension to play in Australian football's A-League until at least the end of the 2015-2016 season.


Today's announcement by Football Federation Australia ended speculation over the future of the Phoenix, caused by the Asian Football Confederation's apparent reluctance to have a team from the Oceania Confederation continue in the Australian-based league.

The FFA, which governs the 10-team A-League, became a member of the Asian Football Confederation in 2006, while New Zealand remained part of the Oceania Confederation. AFC president Mohamed bin Hammam said in November he could not see an Oceania-based side continuing in the A-League beyond 2011.

The AFC's position apparently softened after a recent meeting between bin Hammam and OFC head Raynald Temarii, leading to the license extension announced Tuesday.

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WORLD CUP VILLAGE

A temporary facility will be built on Auckland's Queens wharf to host 'party central' for the Rugby World Cup, Murray McCully confirmed today.


The Rugby World Cup Minister announced the plans at a media conference in downtown Auckland this morning.

Mr McCully said the structure was "most assuredly not a tent" and would be built out of steel and glass.

The Government would pay $9 million for the "cost-effective building" and Auckland regional ratepayers would pay $10 million for the upgrade of the wharf, Mr McCully said.

He said the Queens Wharf development would feature a fanzone with an international media lounge providing backdrops of the harbour and downtown Auckland. It would also act as a cruise terminal.

The structure would take up between 5.5 and 6 acres on the site - about 20 per cent of the wharf.

Mr Mccully said earlier temporary options involving two 98-year-old cargo sheds on the wharf were "prohibitively expensive".

Auckland Regional Council (ARC) chairman Mike Lee confirmed both of the sheds were going, subject to consultation with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

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RESCUED FROM RUBBLE

Woman, girl rescued from rubble after 5 days
Rescuers pulled out a four-year-old girl and a Tibetan woman alive from the rubble of an earthquake more than five days after they were trapped, as trucks carrying aid and equipment rolled into this shattered town in western China.


China Central Television said the pair had been trapped under a bed in a collapsed mud-built house in a village about 20 kilometers from the hardest-hit town of Jiegu, until rescuers dug them out Monday morning.

Relatives kept Wujian Cuomao, 68, and Cairen Baji alive by sending them food and water through gaps in the rubble with the help of bamboo poles, state broadcaster CCTV said. The report showed the white-haired woman waving her arms as she was lifted onto a stretcher and put in an ambulance.

She was in critical condition, CCTV said, while the child was suffering from heart problems due to trauma.

The death toll from the quake in Qinghai province rose to 1,944, the official Xinhua News Agency said Monday. More than 12,100 people were hurt. At least 1100 bodies were cremated or buried by Saturday, according to the provincial civil affairs department.

In Jiegu, work mostly shifted from rescue to rebuilding Monday as many search teams left. Thousands of Tibetan Buddhist monks stayed, however, picking at rubble with shovels, performing funeral rites and throwing food from the backs of trucks.

Convoys of military supply trucks were at a standstill, backed up for miles on the main road headed into town. At a supply depot set up on the town's edge, huge stacks of bottled water were piled up outside a warehouse. More relief goods rumbled past mountainside hamlets where residents pitched government-provided tents along a two-lane highway that is the only connection between Jiegu and the provincial capital of Xining.

Bedraggled survivors streamed from their tents and chased the trucks, the women scooping bread rolls and packets of instant noodles into the aprons of their traditional fur-lined robes.

Army trucks sprayed water on roads to reduce dust, and mobile toilets arrived - just in time as the spread of diseases was becoming a concern after more than five days without running water.

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INDIAN BOMBINGS

The safety of New Zealand sportsmen and women in India is again in the spotlight after two bombs exploded at an IPL cricket match in Bangalore.


Ten people are believed injured, but it could have much worse and there are now fresh concerns about the Commonwealth Games later this year.

The explosions were powerful enough to blast a hole in a brick wall, injuring several police officers and security guards.

They exploded outside Chinniswamy Stadium as thousands of cricket fans packed in to watch the Mumbai Indians play the Bangalore Royal Challengers, featuring Black Caps star Ross Taylor.

Two small bombs detonated while a third on the roof of the ticket office failed to explode.

The match went ahead after a delayed start, but the blasts sent shockwaves through the Black Caps as they prepared to fly to Australia for 20/20 World Cup warm up matches.

And there are renewed fears for the New Delhi Commonwealth Games in October, with the New Zealand Olympic Committee saying it is talking to government security experts about the potential danger.

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ASH COVERS EUROPE


Millions of people face worsening travel chaos as a volcanic ash cloud from Iceland moves further south and east, forcing European countries to extend flight bans.

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Britain has extended a ban on most flights in its airspace until at least 7pm on Sunday (0400 AEST Monday) due to the volcanic ash cloud, air authorities announced.

"The volcanic ash cloud from Iceland shows continued and extensive cover of the UK," the National Air Traffic Services said in a statement on Sunday.

"Based on the latest information from the Met Office, NATS advises that the restrictions currently in place across UK controlled airspace will remain in place until at least 1900 (UK time) today."

NATS said it would continue to provide information from the Met Office national weather service and would provide a further update about 9am on Sunday (1800 AEST).

The Met Office said it had detected evidence of ash dust over Britain and had reports of it reaching the ground.

"We continue to look for weather windows that will allow air space restrictions to be lifted," it said.

A research flight on Friday found "three distinct layers of ash, from fine particles at low levels to large particles around 8,000 feet (2,400 metres)," it said.

"All these observations are consistent with our forecast plumes for where the ash cloud would spread and how it would mix through the atmosphere."

France has decided to shut the three airports in the Paris area and others in the north of the country until 8am (1600 AEST) on Monday due to the ash cloud that has caused the biggest airspace shutdown since World War II.

German airspace will remain closed until 8pm on Sunday (0400 AEST Monday) because of the volcanic dust cloud from Iceland, a spokeswoman for the national air safety agency DFS announced.

Europe's biggest airline Lufthansa announced earlier that it was cancelling all its flights until the same time.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be unable to attend the funeral later on Sunday of president Lech Kacynski in Poland because of the travel turmoil, a government spokesman said late on Saturday.

Merkel had been due back in Berlin on Friday afternoon from a trip to the United States, but was diverted to Lisbon because German airspace was closed.

She spent the night to Saturday in the Portuguese capital and then flew to Rome from where she was due to travel to Germany by car.

Italy also says it won't allow any flights until 0600 GMT (1600 AEST) on Monday, Ireland has shut its airspace until 1200 GMT (2200 AEST) on Sunday and Britain and Germany have lengthened bans on most flights in their airspace until 0600 GMT (1600 AEST) on Sunday.

Winds blowing the massive cloud eastward from Iceland to Russia will continue in the same direction for at least two days and could go on until the middle of the week, the Icelandic Meteorological Office said on Saturday.

"The ash will continue to be directed towards Britain and Scandinavia," Teitur Arason, a meteorologist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, told AFP.
"That's the general situation for the coming days... more or less for the next two days or maybe the next four or five days," he said.

The volcanic ash cloud is heading towards Greece as it moves further south as well as east into Russia, Britain's meteorological group the Met Office said on Saturday.
Other European nations have also moved to extend their flight bans, including Austria to 0000 GMT (1000 AEST) on Sunday and Belgium to 1200 GMT (2200 AEST) on Sunday.

Poland says it's shutting its airspace "until further notice".

VOLCANO PICTURES

See the latest images from Iceland's Volcano. Thousands of passengers are stuck as ash covers most of Europe.
Click here for the latest pictures from Iceland's Volcano



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CYCLE FOR YOUR FOOD

A Danish hotel is pioneering a pedal-power electricity generation scheme it hopes will catch on in other countries.


The Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers, 15 minutes from the centre of the Danish capital and five minutes from Scandinavia's main airport, is installing two exercise bicycles hooked up to generators.

Guests will be invited to jump on and start pedalling -- and if they produce enough electricity they will be given a free meal.

From June, they will be able to race against the 366-room hotel's solar panel system in a bid to produce the most electricity.

"Anyone producing 10 watt hours of electricity or more for the hotel will be given a locally produced complimentary meal encouraging guests to not only get fit but also reduce their carbon footprint and save electricity and money," the hotel said in a statement.

Hotel spokeswoman Frederikke Tommergaard said the free meal offer applied only to paying guests, not passers-by.

The value of the meal -- any one of the main courses on the hotel restaurant or lobby bar's menu -- is about 240 Danish crowns (28.50 pounds), she told Reuters.

The electric bikes will be up and running from April 19 and the plan is to test the idea for a year with a view to expanding it to more Crowne Plaza hotels, part of the InterContinental Hotels Group.

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THIEVING OCTOPUS

A diver chased a thieving octopus underwater off the Wellington coast for more than five minutes to retrieve his new digital camera.


Wellington man Victor Huang was diving near the Wahine Memorial between Breaker Bay and Moa Point on Wednesday when he spotted the octopus.

The Weta digital animator swam closer to get a better picture of the octopus when it suddenly grabbed his camera with one of its tentacles and swam off, Fairfax media reported.

Mr Huang gave chase and caught up with the thief while the camera was still recording.

With the help of a speargun placed beneath the octopus, he managed to wrench the camera free from the creature's mouth.
However, the octopus grabbed the speargun and refused to let go, Mr Huang said.

He swum around a bit with the octopus in tow and as he neared the shore, the octopus let go.

Mr Huang moved to Wellington from San Francisco six years ago to work on animation in the King Kong movie, and said he had fallen in love with the lifestyle in New Zealand.

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SHREK IN 3D

Fans of Shrek will be pleased to hear that all of the films are going to be converted into 3D.


Shrek, Shrek 2 and Shrek the Third will all be made into 3D Blu-ray to watch at home.

And the fourth Shrek movie, called Shrek Forever After, will be released in 3D at the cinema when it comes out in July this year. Dreamworks Studios, which makes Shrek, said it's confident the 3D films will look good and please fans.

The final film sees Shrek get conned into signing a contract which puts him into a different version of Far Far Away, where lots of things have changed.

All of the favourite characters are back for the last instalment, including Shrek, Donkey, Fiona and Puss in Boots.

The film-makers hope they'll make more money by releasing the fourth movie on DVD, as film companies are losing money because people are buying pirate copies.

The Shrek films have made more than £1.3 billion since the first release in 2001.