Watch: Michelle Obama dances with two-year-old fan in adorable video

An adorable US toddler whose picture of her transfixed by a portrait of Michelle Obama went viral online last week, got to meet the former first lady in person today and even take part in a dance party with her.

Two-year-old girl Parker Curry was snapped staring at Ms Obama's portrait in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, with the picture grabbing the attention of Ms Obama soon after it was shared online.

In an Instagram post today Ms Obama shared video of her and Parker dancing up a storm together to Taylor Swift's Shake it Off in her Washington office.

"Parker, I'm so glad I had the chance to meet you today (and for the dance party)! Keep on dreaming big for yourself...and maybe one day I'll proudly look up at a portrait of you," the post was captioned.

The young girl's mother, Jessica Curry, talked to CNN last week about the viral image of her daughter.

"Parker was in front on the portrait, and I really wanted her to turn around so I could get a picture with her, and she genuinely, honestly would not turn around," Ms Curry said.



Clean-up begins after Typhoon Mangkhut slams into Philippines coast with wind gusts of up to 255km/h

Typhoon Mangkhut slammed into the country's northeastern coast early Saturday, with witnesses saying the storm's ferocious wind and blinding rain ripped off tin roof sheets and knocked out power at the start of the onslaught.

The typhoon made landfall before dawn in the coastal town of Baggao in Cagayan province on the northern tip of Luzon island, an agricultural region of flood-prone rice plains and mountain provinces often hit by landslides.

More than 5 million people were at risk from the storm, which the Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Centre categorizes as a super typhoon with powerful winds and gusts equivalent to a category 5 Atlantic hurricane.

Typhoon Mangkhut slammed into the country's northeastern coast, with witnesses saying ferocious wind and blinding rain ripped off tin roof sheets and knocked out power. Source: Associated Press

There were no immediate reports of major damages or casualties in the region, where a massive evacuation from high-risk areas was carried out over two days.

Associated Press journalists in a hotel in Cagayan's capital city of Tuguegarao saw tin roof sheets and other debris hurtle through the air and store signs crash to the ground. Cars shook as wind gusts pummelled a parking lot.

With a huge raincloud band 900 kilometres wide, combined with seasonal monsoon rains, the typhoon was expected to bring intense rain that could set off landslides and flash floods. Storm warnings have been raised in almost all the provinces across the Luzon, including the capital, Manila, restricting sea and air travel.

Before it hit the island, Mangkhut was tracked late Friday with sustained winds of 205 kilometres per hour and gusts of up to 255km/h, forecasters said.

Even if the typhoon weakens slightly after slamming ashore, its winds will remain very destructive, government forecaster Rene Paciente said.

"It can lift cars, you can't stand, you can't even crawl against that wind," Paciente told reporters late Friday in Manila.

In Cagayan's capital city of Tuguegarao, residents braced for the typhoon's fury by reinforcing homes and buildings and stocking up on food.

"It was busy earlier in the hardware store and people were buying wood, nails, tin wire, plywood and umbrellas," said Benjamin Banez, who owns a three-story hotel where workers were busy hammering up wooden boards to protect glass panels.

A super typhoon wrought heavy damage to Banez's hotel and the rest of Cagayan in 2016.

Ninia Grace Abedes abandoned her bamboo hut and hauled her four children to a school building serving as an emergency shelter. The 33-year-old laundrywoman said the 2016 typhoon blew away their hut, which they abandoned before the storm hit.

"If we didn't, all of us would be dead," Abedes said.

More than 15,300 people had been evacuated in northern provinces by Friday afternoon, the Office of Civil Defence said.

Concerns over massive storm surges that could be whipped inland by the typhoon's winds prompted wardens to move 143 detainees from a jail in Cagayan's Aparri town to nearby towns, officials said.

The typhoon hit at the start of the rice and corn harvesting season in Cagayan, a major agricultural producer, prompting farmers to scramble to save what they could of their crops, Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba said. The threat to agriculture comes as the Philippines tries to cope with rice shortages.

After the Philippines, the Hong Kong Observatory predicts Mangkhut will plough into the Chinese mainland early Monday south of Hong Kong and north of the island province of Hainan. Though it is likely to weaken from a super typhoon to a severe typhoon, it will still pack sustained winds of 175km/h, it said.

The observatory warned of rough seas and frequent heavy squalls, urging residents of the densely populated financial hub to "take suitable precautions and pay close attention to the latest information" on the storm.

The gambling enclave of Macau, near Hong Kong, suffered catastrophic flooding during Typhoon Hato last August that left 10 dead and led to accusations of corruption and incompetence at its meteorological office.

On the Chinese mainland, the three southern provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan are coordinating preparations, including suspending transport and moving people to shelter inland, the national meteorological agency reported.

Guangdong, China's manufacturing hub, has set up 3,777 shelters, while more than 100,000 residents and tourists have been moved to safety or sent home.

The province has recalled more than 36,000 fishing boats to port, while train services between the cities of Zhanjiang and Maoming have been suspended and all ferry services between Guangdong and Hainan have been put on hold. Fujian province to the north of Guangdong is also closing beaches and tourist sites, the agency reported.

Philippine forecasters said the shifting typhoon could possibly blow toward Vietnam after it exits late Saturday or early Sunday.

In an emergency meeting Thursday, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte asked Cabinet officials from the north to help oversee disaster-response work and told reporters it was too early to consider seeking foreign aid.

"If it flattens everything, maybe we need to have some help," he said.

Mangkhut, the Thai word for mangosteen fruit, is the 15th storm this year to batter the Philippines, which is hit by about 20 a year and is considered one of the world's most disaster-prone countries.

Typhoon Haiyan left more than 7,300 people dead or missing, flattened villages, swept ships inland and displaced more than 5 million in the central Philippines in 2013.

Ferocious winds and rain tore off tin roof sheets and knocked out power through Baggao, in Cagayan province. Source: Associated Press

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Melbourne man who murdered girlfriend's baby in 'brutal' attack jailed for 34 years

A Melbourne ice user who murdered his girlfriend's baby boy in a "ferocious, brutal and sickening attack" has been jailed for 34 years, it can now be revealed.

Dwayne Lindsey, 35, killed six-month-old Chayse Dearing at a home in Glenroy in June 2016 and was later found guilty by a jury of murder.

Lindsey was jailed in the Supreme Court in May to 34 years with a non-parole period of 27 years, but this could not be published until today, when a judge lifted a suppression order.

Dwayne Lindsey. Source: Victoria Police.

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Flooding begins as Hurricane Florence hits coastal regions of North Carolina

The National Hurricane Center said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected over portions of the Carolinas as Hurricane Florence inches closer to the US East Coast.

Areas of coastal North Carolina began to experience flooding today.

The now Category 1 storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to 135 kph by nightfall. But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Governor Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.

As of 2 am EDT (0600 GMT), Florence was centered about 55 kilometres east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement increased slightly to 9 kph.

Hurricane-force winds extended 150 kilometres from its centre, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 315 kilometres.

Forecasters said the combination of a life-threatening storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.

The National Hurricane Center said this ‘catastrophic’ freshwater flooding was expected. Source: Associated Press


'We haven't given up hope' - orca whale declared dead but US feds refuse to stop search

Efforts to find a sick young orca from a critically endangered population of killer whales in the Pacific Northwest came up empty, and a scientist who tracks the animals declared her dead — though federal authorities said they'd keep looking.

The grim news means scientists believe just 74 whales remain in a group that has failed to reproduce successfully in the past three years. The orcas have struggled with pollution, boat noise and, most severely, a dearth of their preferred prey, chinook salmon, because of dams, habitat loss and overfishing.

"We're watching a population marching toward extinction," said Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research. "Unless we do something about salmon recovery, we're just not going to have these whales in the future."

The whales are in such bad shape that experts prepared last-ditch efforts to save the emaciated nearly 4-year-old known as J50. A sharpshooting veterinarian fired an antibiotic-filled dart into her, crews dropped live salmon in front of her to try to get her to eat, and scientists even mulled capturing her so they could diagnose and treat her.

J50 has not been seen since last Friday. As teams scrambled to find her today, she failed to appear with her pod once again, despite favorable sighting conditions. Balcomb, who tracks the whales for the US government, declared her dead late this afternoon.

Michael Milstein, a spokesman for NOAA Fisheries, said the agency gives great weight to Balcomb's assessment of the whales, given his long experience monitoring them. But, he said the US and Canadian governments plan to continue searching Friday on the chance she's still alive.

"We want to make the most of it to make sure that if J50 is there, we haven't missed her," Milstein said. "We haven't given up hope."

Crews in a US Coast Guard helicopter, 10 vessels, whale watch crews and other resources on both sides of the border were involved in the search. Authorities also alerted a network of people who respond when marine mammals wash ashore.

Whale experts feared the orca was dead earlier this month when J50 lagged behind her family and went missing. But she later turned up and was seen with her family.

The distinctive black-and-white orcas, known as southern resident killer whales, have struggled since they were listed as an endangered species in the US and Canada well over a decade ago.

The orcas' numbers are now at their lowest in more than three decades.

Another whale in the same pod, known as J35, triggered international sympathy this summer when she kept the body of her dead calf afloat in waters for more than two weeks.

The message, the Center for Whale Research said in a website post, is that extinction is looming "while the humans convene task forces and conference calls that result in nothing, or worse than nothing, diverting attention and resources from solving the underlying ecological problems."

Scientist began to be concerned about J50 in July. Teams dropped live salmon from a boat as J50 and her pod swam behind — a test to see whether fish could be used as a means of delivering medication.

Drone images taken earlier this month showed J50 much thinner than she was last year. Her mother, J16, has also declined in condition in the past month.

Orca whale
Orca whale. Source: Getty