United States: A Utah sheriff's deputy said today that he was desperate and numb from the cold as he punched and stomped his way into a frozen pond on Christmas Day to pull out an 8-year-old boy who had fallen through the ice while chasing his dog. Sergeant Aaron Thompson said at a news conference that rescuers believe the child was in the 2.7C water for about 30 minutes. "I couldn't feel anything. I didn't notice anything when I was doing it," Thompson said. "I knew that time was of the essence. I had a very short window to get that child out of the water." The boy is in hospital in Salt Lake City. The boy fell through the ice in the town of New Harmony. The deputy stomped to break through the ice and work his way deeper, pounding with his hands and fists. "As the ice got thicker, I couldn't break it with my arms and my fists anymore, so I had to jump up on top of the ice, putting my weight on it, and then pound on it to get it to break." When he went into the water, his toes brushed against reeds growing on the bottom of the pond and water reached his neck. He swished his arms and legs around before finding the boy beneath the ice about 7m from the shoreline. Thompson was treated for symptoms of hypothermia and released from a hospital yesterday. Sheriff Cory Pulsipher said: "He hates having the spotlight on him, but he's a hero."
Australia: Four people have come forward professing to own a freshwater crocodile found roaming the streets of Melbourne on Christmas Day but the man who caught him says their claims are a load of crock. Snake hunter Mark Pelley says would-be owners of the metre-long runaway reptile came out of the woodwork after police requested he remove it from a Heidelberg Heights front yard on Christmas Day. "I'm not inclined to believe any of them though because they all were saying 'no need to get the authorities involved' and they all said they could take it off my hands straight away," Pelley said. It is legal to keep a crocodile as a pet in Victoria if you have a licence and in some circles they're considered a status symbol, Pelley said. "They're worth a lot of money so I can see why they'd give it a shot." Pelley will now hand the reptile over to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. Anyone who wants to stake a claim will have to prove they are the croc's rightful owner, a department spokesperson said. Where the creature came from remains a mystery.
United States: A man accused in the Christmas Day shooting of his estranged wife and their two children was held without bail on three counts of first-degree murder following an afternoon of violence that culminated in a night-time shootout with police officers. Maricopa County Superior Court records show Anthony Milan Ross, 45, was also charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault and assault against a police officer. Police responding to a report of gunfire arrived at the Phoenix apartment complex to find the body of Ross' estranged wife, 38-year-old Iris Ross, outside. Officers later found the bodies of their 11-year-old son Nigel Ross, and their 10-month-old daughter Anora Ross inside the apartment where the father had barricaded himself. After a brief gunbattle, he was taken into custody.
North Korea: The younger sister of Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator, appears to have cemented her position at the heart of his inner circle after making a rare public appearance next to top officials at a Worker's Party congress. A photo which appeared in the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed Kim Yo Jong, believed to be 28-30, in the front row of an all-male line-up of senior party officials, clapping as her brother addressed the room. Kim is seen next to Choe Ryong Hae, her brother's right-hand man and party vice-chairman, reported the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.
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Australia: Residents in Western Australia's remote north are being told to get ready to shelter from an oncoming cyclone. A yellow alert has been issued for people in or near Cape Leveque to Wallai with a tropical low likely to bring squally winds and heavy rain over the west Kimberley coast during today and tomorrow as it tracks southwest. The system is estimated to be 160 km north northeast of Broome and 35 km southwest of Cape Leveque sustaining winds near the centre of 45km/h with gusts to 85km/h, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services warns.
Peru: A former South American football official was acquitted in the FIFA bribery scandal and walked out of the courtroom saying he's finished with the world's most popular sport. The verdict clearing Manuel Burga, former president of Peru's football federation, of a single racketeering conspiracy charge came days after prosecutors won guilty verdicts on multiple charges against two other former soccer officials. "God bless America. That's all I can say," the 60-year-old Burga said with eyes still wet from tears minutes after the verdict was delivered in Brooklyn federal court. Burga was the first person to be acquitted among over 40 people and entities in the world of global football charged in the US with a scheme to extract hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. Of those, 24 pleaded guilty.
United States: A big Mastiff mix with droopy eyes that endured a heartbreakingly long stay at a Kansas City animal shelter has finally found a home. After 445 days at the Kansas City Pet Project shelter, where more than 10,000 pets pass through annually, Polina was finally adopted. The Kansas City Star wrote about Polina's plight earlier this month. She was sweet but always left behind when one prospective pet owner after another adopted other rescue animals, largely because Polina is scared of other dogs and children. But after the Star story, several people stepped forward to adopt Polina. Ultimately, she went to a Kansas City home where she can roam 1.2ha of land and sleep on a large, warm bed. Staff had worked hard to build Polina's confidence, which had been drained. She was found wandering along a street in October 2016.
Yemen: Witnesses and security officials say a Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a crowded market has killed at least 25 people, including children, in Yemen. They say today's strike in the western province of Taiz wounded at least 30 others. The coalition could not immediately be reached for comment. International rights groups have accused the coalition of bombing civilian gatherings, markets, hospitals and residential areas across Yemen since the beginning of its air campaign against Iran-backed rebels, known as Houthis, in March 2015.
Libya: A Libyan official says militants have bombed a pipeline pumping crude oil to the port of Sidr. Colonel Muftah Amgharief, from the security force guarding oil facilities in eastern Libya, says the bombing appeared to have been carried out by Isis, which is active in the area. He says the attack could reduce Libya's oil production by up to 100,000 barrels a day. The country is currently producing 970,000 barrels per day, down from 1.6 billion before the 2011 uprising.
Conservation: Starfish are making a comeback on the West Coast, four years after a mysterious syndrome killed millions of them. From 2013 to 2014, Sea Star Wasting Syndrome hit sea stars from British Columbia to Mexico. The starfish would develop lesions and then disintegrate, their arms turning into blobs of goo. The cause is unclear but researchers say it may be a virus. But now, the species is rebounding. Sea stars are being spotted in Southern California tide pools and elsewhere, the Orange County Register reported today. "They are coming back, big time," Darryl Deleske, aquarist for the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in Los Angeles, said.