Video: 'It's crazy! It's crazy!' - Hyped up Hurricane Irma reporter gets his moment to shine

An enthusiastic reporter on the Caribbean island of Antigua has given an exuberant description of Hurricane Irma as winds and heavy rain whipped around him.

Steve Freeland was reporting for ABS TV as the storm hit, saying "It's crazy, it's crazy".

"She's ready, Irma is on her way," he said.

Victoria University Professor James Renwick says hurricanes like Irma feed off warmer seas, so are more likely with rising temperatures. Source: Breakfast

"In the next update we should be feeling the full wrath of Hurricane Irma... I'm good."



Elizabeth Smart outraged over planned release of one of her kidnappers - 'Do I believe she's dangerous? Yes'

Elizabeth Smart said today the news that one of her kidnappers will be released from prison next week was "a big shock", and she hopes there is a way the woman can be committed to a treatment facility since there is no legal recourse to keep her behind bars.

Wanda Barzee is expected to be freed next week after 15 years in custody, including time at the state hospital, after Utah authorities said they had miscalculated the amount of time the 64-year-old woman should serve.

Standing on the steps of the Utah state capitol, Ms Smart, now 30, recalled some of the horrors she experienced when she was snatched from her home in 2002.

"She is a woman who had six children yet could co-conspire to kidnap a 14-year-old girl, and not only sit next to her while being raped but encourage her husband to continue to rape me," Ms Smart said. "So do I believe she's dangerous? Yes."

She said Barzee "saw me as her slave. She called me her handmaiden. She never hesitated to let her displeasure with me be known."

Barzee is expected to be freed next week Her attorney questioned at a hearing in June whether her release date took into account time she'd served in a federal prison, and earlier this week the board agreed that she had served her sentence.

Attorney Scott Williams has said Barzee has been diagnosed with several mental illnesses, but he's not concerned about her being a danger to the community. Mr Williams did not immediately return a message seeking comment today.

"I only found out shortly before everybody else," said Ms Smart, who is now a married mother and activist for victims' rights. "And yes, it was a big shock. Only months ago, I was on my way to a parole hearing and was told she would never be let out before 2024."

Her father Ed Smart also questioned why authorities didn't give her more warning about the impending release.

Ms Smart said she is taking unspecified steps to protect her family, but that she refuses to live in a "state of fear."

If Barzee had shown more clear signs of rehabilitation, she would likely feel differently about her release, Ms Smart said.

"I do believe in forgiveness. I am a Christian," she said. She also urged authorities to reconsider release decisions, and take the possibility of further threat into considering rather than simply the time they've served.

Ms Smart was abducted from her Salt Lake City bedroom at knifepoint by street preacher Brian David Mitchell, who came in through an open kitchen window. The kidnapping triggered waves of fear around the country.

Ms Smart was found while walking with Barzee and Mitchell on a street in the suburb of Sandy, Utah, by people who recognised the couple from media reports.

Mitchell is serving a life sentence after being convicted of kidnapping and raping Ms Smart. He and Barzee were married at one point.

Barzee was convicted of both state and federal crimes, and transferred to the Utah state prison in April 2016 after finishing a federal sentence in Texas. She will be under federal supervision for five years after her release from prison.

If she violates the conditions of her release, which will include mental health treatment and an order not to contact Ms Smart's family, she could go back to prison, said Ms Smart's attorney Brett Tolman.

Mr Tolman was previously the US Attorney for Utah who prosecuted Mitchell, and is now in private practice.

Barzee's family could also request a possible civil commitment to a mental-health facility, if that's warranted, he said.

Wanda Barzee helped kidnap Smart from her Salt Lake City bedroom in 2002. Source: Associated Press

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'I know a lot about dicks' - Australian politician's joke video rejected by Snapchat

Social media platform Snapchat may be known for lewd photo swapping but a risque joke by a Victorian politician has proved too much.

Reason Party Leader Fiona Patten launched a video ad, in which she talks about knowing a lot about "dicks" but although the audio was bleeped out and the subtitle changed to "D!@#S", it was rejected by Snapchat.

Ms Patten said the matter was "laughable" and the uncensored version had been approved for YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and even the Victorian parliament.

The ad shows Patten walking towards the camera, saying: "I know a lot about dicks, but not for the reason you would think."

"It's because I deal with politicians acting like them every day."

 Despite being censored, Ms Patten said she was advised by Snapchat the ad would be rejected due to the "usage/allusion to the word 'dicks'".

"This is laughable, particularly given that Snapchat is renowned for nude pictures," Ms Patten said.

"I'm still waiting to hear from anyone that has been offended by it.

"One of the reasons I came to politics was because of a deep frustration with censorship. Ten years on, it looks like I am still fighting it."

The social media platform may be known for lewd photo swapping, but a risqué joke by Victorian politician Fiona Patten has proved too much.


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Gas blasts destroy dozens of homes in US as panicked communities evacuate - 'You can't even see the sky'

A series of gas explosions caused fires at more than 20 homes across three communities north of Boston today, forcing entire neighbourhoods to evacuate as crews scramble to douse the flames and shut off gas and electric lines in an attempt to prevent further damage.

Massachusetts State Police say troopers have been dispatched to Lawrence, Andover and North Andover to secure scenes and help traffic that has snarled roads as panicked residents attempt to flee their neighbourhoods amid the afternoon rush hour.

In this image take from video provided by WCVB in Boston, firefighters battle a large structure fire in Lawrence, Mass, a suburb of Boston, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. Emergency crews are responding to what they believe is a series of gas explosions that have damaged homes across three communities north of Boston. (WCVB via AP)
A police chief said there are so many fires "you can't even see the sky". Source: Associated Press

Joseph Solomon, the police chief in nearby Methuen, said 20 to 25 homes were on fire in Lawrence. Solomon, who responded to Lawrence to help, said there are so many fires "you can't even see the sky".

The cause wasn't immediately clear. The Columbia Gas company had announced earlier today that it would be upgrading gas lines in neighbourhoods across the state, including the area where the explosions happened. It was not clear whether work was happening there today, and a spokeswoman did not immediately comment.

Town officials in Andover are advising all residents and businesses to evacuate and to shut off their gas, if they know how to safely. The town of 35,000 residents is about 40 kilometres north of Boston near the New Hampshire border.

In this image take from video provided by WCVB in Boston, flames burn through a home in Lawrence, Mass, a suburb of Boston, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. Emergency crews are responding to what they believe is a series of gas explosions that have damaged homes across three communities north of Boston. (WCVB via AP)
Flames burn through a home in Lawrence. Source: Associated Press

In neighbouring North Andover, town Selectman Phil Decologero said that his entire neighbourhood had gathered in the street, afraid to enter homes. He warned anyone with concerns to leave their houses and head to North Andover High School, which is being set up as a gathering point.

"It's definitely a scary situation at the moment," he said. "It's pretty severe."

Entire neighbourhoods were being evacuated in Lawrence. City Councilor Marc Laplante said authorities were shutting off electric power and urging residents in the Colonial Heights neighbourhood to head to Parthum elementary and middle schools.

In this image take from video provided by WCVB in Boston, flames consume a home in Lawrence, Mass, a suburb of Boston, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. Emergency crews are responding to what they believe is a series of gas explosions that have damaged homes across three communities north of Boston. (WCVB via AP)
Emergency crews are responding to what they believe is a series of gas explosions that have damaged homes across three communities. Source: Associated Press

"People need to get out of this area safely, and it's really difficult because the traffic right now is horrendous," he said.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said staff members were heading to Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, along with state fire investigators.

They've left at least four people injured.


No warning signs before five bodies found dead in Perth home, relatives say - 'Part of me didn't think it was real'

A Perth father accused of murdering his three daughters, wife and mother-in-law showed no warning signs that his family was in danger and their deaths are unfathomable, relatives say.

Anthony Robert Harvey, 24, allegedly used a blunt instrument and knives to kill three-year-old Charlotte, two-year-old twins Alice and Beatrix, his wife Mara Lee Harvey, 41, and mother-in-law Beverley Ann Quinn, 73, at a Bedford home in Perth.

Brother-in-law Alan Tottman yesterday said that there was never any indication Ms Harvey was in danger.

"It's just a very raw time, it's just unfathomable," he said.

"We can't come to terms with what's happened, we don't know why it's happened.

"There was no indication of trouble, problems."

Harvey, who ran a Jim's Mowing franchise, gave no hint of financial or emotional problems over the past few months, Jim's Group managing director Jim Penman similarly said earlier this week.

Mr Tottman and his wife Taryn said the family would never recover from their loss.

"This will be forever. Time will heal certain pain but this will just go on forever," he said.

Ms Tottman said the last time she saw her older sister was on August 27 at a funeral and she seemed fine.

She found out about the five deaths via the television, saying part of her "didn't think it was real".

Ms Tottman said her two youngest children did not understand what had happened but her son understood some of it.

"There's only a certain amount he understands, so his innocence makes it easier," she said.

"He didn't want to go to grandma's anymore, he didn't like it because she's not there."

The couple also thanked the community for their support.

"Complete strangers have been amazing, overwhelming. My mum would have been humbled," Ms Tottman said.

"Everybody has been so supportive and so encouraging ... it's nice to know people care."

Police say Harvey stayed in the house for days after the alleged murders before travelling about 1500km north, then turned himself in on Sunday.

A GoFundMe page has so far raised more than $NZ19,690 for the family's funerals.

It is the third family mass murder in WA in four months, representing 15 of 23 domestic violence-related deaths in the state this year.

Taryn Tottman, whose mother and sister were killed, said part of her “didn’t think it was real”. Source: Nine