Watch: Quick-thinking Aussie teens save kangaroo stuck deep in mud flats up to its neck

A pair of Aussie teens have got their hands dirty in a spur of the moment rescue mission to save a kangaroo stuck deep in mud flats on the outskirts of Sydney.

Jack Donnelly and Nick Heath, both aged 19, were riding their motorbikes near the Nepean River yesterday when they came across the marsupial wailing in distress and stuck in the mud up to its neck.

Unfortunately the roo couldn't be initially reached by the teens, so they went home quickly to grab rope, Nine News reported

Arriving back to the stranded animal, Nick Heath ventured out into the mud flat with the rope tied around him to where the kangaroo was partially submerged.

"You got the cargo," Jack Donnelly can be heard as he films the rescue effort.

After extracting the kangaroo, Nick can be seen holding and patting the exhaused creatrue.

"The roo's life was important to us so we went out on an arm and leg and got it," Nick said.

"We think he went searching for water there and it was really muddy so he got himself really stuck.

"It's a pretty patriotic thing to do and we're proud of what we did. If we saw something like that again, we'll do it all over again."


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Deaths of two young girls using bouncy castles were not isolated incidents, BBC investigation finds

A BBC investigation has found that the death of two young girls using bouncy castles were not isolated incidents.

In the past eight years, 22 people across Britain have been seriously hurt on the inflatable devices.

Last month, seven-year-old Summer Grant was killed in Gorleston-on-Sea in Norfolk when she was thrown from one of the castle, prompting fears over their safety.

That incident took place just two weeks after three-year-old Ava-May Littleboy died in similar circumstances.

Two fairground workers were successfully prosecuted for manslaughter in her case, but in others, no one is held to account.

In another such case recently, Summer Wronieki broke her thigh bone and received a head injury after the inflatable device she was on lifted off in high winds.

It was later found that the device had been set up in conditions where the wind speed was above what was recommended the device be used in.

The UK's Health and Safety Executive couldn't tell the BBC how many spot checks they have carried out on inflatable toys.

It did, however, say it customarily turns up to fair grounds and the like unannounced to check on the practices.

The highest wind speed allowed by law is 24mp/h (38km/h), but in two of the aforementioned cases, it was found that the wind speed was gusting significantly higher.

An HSE spokesperson told the BBC: "We use a variety of methods to identify where risk exists that is so we can respond to concerns raised by members of the public or others and that the guidance in relation to the law itself is kept under continual review".

In the past eight years more than 20 people across Britain have been seriously injured or hurt while using inflatable play equipment. Source: BBC

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Limo involved in crash that killed 20 people failed safety inspection last month, wasn't properly licensed

The driver of a supersized limousine involved in a crash that killed 20 people outside an upstate New York country store wasn't properly licensed, and the limo failed a state safety inspection just last month and shouldn't have been on the road, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said overnight.

The state ordered the owner, Prestige Limousine, shut down while an investigation continues into what caused Saturday's wreck in Schoharie.

"In my opinion, the owner of this company had no business putting a failed vehicle on the road," the governor said while attending a Columbus Day Parade in New York City. "Prestige has a lot of questions to answer."

A call to the company's office in Gansevoort rang unanswered. Federal records show the company has undergone five inspections and had four vehicles pulled from service in the last two years.

The crash killed two pedestrians and 18 occupants of the limousine, which was headed to a birthday party. Among the victims were four sisters.

Authorities didn't say whether the limo occupants were wearing seat belts, give the speed of the limo or speculate what caused the limo to run a stop sign at an intersection and slam into a parked SUV by the Apple Barrel Country Store and Cafe. Autopsies were being performed, including on the driver, to see if drugs were alcohol were a factor.

The intersection is a known danger spot that has long worried locals, even after an overhaul following a deadly 2008 accident there, according to Apple Barrel manager Jessica Kirby.

Since the reconstruction, three tractor-trailers have run through the same stop sign and into a field behind her business, she said. Officials worked with the state to outlaw heavy trucks, she said, but there are still wrecks.

"More accidents than I can count," she said in an email. "We have been asking for something to be done for years."

The 2001 Ford Excursion limousine was traveling southwest on Route 30 in Schoharie, about 270 kilometres north of New York City when it failed to stop at a T-junction with state Route 30A, state police said. The limo went across the road and hit an unoccupied SUV parked at the Apple Barrel, a local institution and popular stop for autumn leaf-peepers. The impact killed two pedestrians standing nearby.

Relatives said the limousine was carrying four sisters and their friends to a 30th birthday celebration for the youngest.

"They did the responsible thing getting a limo so they wouldn't have to drive anywhere," their aunt, Barbara Douglas, said. She did not want to name them publicly but added: "They were wonderful girls. They'd do anything for you and they were very close to each other and they loved their family."

Valerie Abeling, the aunt of victim Erin Vertucci, said her 34-year-old niece and her niece's new husband, 30-year-old Shane McGowan, were victims.

"She was a beautiful, sweet soul; he was, too, they were very sweet," Abeling said. "They were two very young, beautiful people" who "had everything going for them."

The crash appeared to be the deadliest land-vehicle accident in the U.S. since a bus ferrying nursing home patients away from Hurricane Rita caught fire in Texas 2005, killing 23.

And it is the deadliest transportation accident overall since February 2009, when a plane crash near Buffalo, New York, killed 50 people, said Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. The Board is investigating the crash, including whether the limo had any mechanical problems.

There was no information Sunday on the limousine, its origin or its integrity. But safety issues on such vehicles have arisen before, notably after a wreck on Long Island in July 2015 in which four women were killed.

They were in a Lincoln Town Car that had been cut apart and rebuilt in a stretch configuration to accommodate more passengers. The limousine was trying to make a U-turn and was struck by a pickup.

A grand jury found that vehicles converted into stretch limousines often don't have safety measures including side-impact air bags, reinforced rollover protection bars and accessible emergency exits. That grand jury called on Cuomo to assemble a task force on limousine safety.

Limousines built in factories are already required to meet stringent safety regulations, but when cars are converted into limos, safety features are sometimes removed, leading to gaps in safety protocols, the grand jury wrote.

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Security concerns cloud Facebook’s first electronic device - a camera-equipped gadget for making video calls

Facebook is launching the first electronic device to bear its brand, a screen and camera-equipped gadget intended to make video calls easier and more intuitive.

But it's unclear if people will open their homes to an internet-connected camera sold by a company with a questionable track record on protecting user privacy.

Facebook is marketing the device, called Portal, as a way for its more than 2 billion users to chat with one another without having to fuss with positioning and other controls. The device features a camera that uses artificial intelligence to automatically zoom as people move around during calls.

Since Echo's release nearly four years ago, both Google and Apple have followed Amazon in releasing smart speakers designed for use with their other digital services — some of them, at least. These speakers can serve as hub-like controllers for "smart" homes as people install appliances, lighting and security systems that can be controlled over the internet.

Portal represents Facebook's entry into that fray. But pointing an artificially intelligent camera into peoples' homes could well raise other privacy questions.

"The first thing consumers are going to wonder is 'how much sensitive data is this collecting about me?'" said John Breyault, vice president of public policy of telecommunications and fraud at the National Consumers League, a Washington-based consumer advocacy group that has received donations from Facebook and other tech companies.

Earlier this year, Facebook had to acknowledge that as many as 87 million people may have had their data accessed by Cambridge Analytica, a data mining firm that worked for the Trump campaign and aimed to use the data to influence elections. More recently, Facebook revealed that hackers managed to pierce its security to break into 50 million accounts .

Facebook says it won't "listen to, view or keep the contents " of video calls, adding that the Portal camera won't use facial recognition or identify people in the video calls. The device will allow users to disable the camera and microphone with a single tap and to lock it with a numerical passcode. There's also a physical camera cover to prevent recording.

Portal will not display Facebook ads "at this time," the company said, although it noted that third-party services such as music streaming might embed their own ads the same way they do on other devices.

"This is going to gain (Facebook) not only a place in the smart home, but also data they may not have been able to collect before or understand before," said ABI Research analyst Jonathan Collins. This includes people's location, activities and interests — "all the reasons companies want to get into the home."

Facebook will offer Portal in two sizes — a $US199 model with a 10-inch horizontal screen and a $US349 "Plus" version with a 15.6-inch screen that can switch between vertical or horizontal orientations.

Both models also include an internet-connected speaker that includes Amazon's voice-activated digital assistant, Alexa. Portal connects calls through Facebook's Messenger app, meaning that it can connect calls with people who aren't using Portal.

A publicity photo for Facebook's Portal device.
A publicity photo for Facebook's Portal device. Source: Facebook


Nauru arrests suicidal refugee - report

Refugee advocates says police in Nauru have arrested a 36-year-old Iranian refugee for attempting suicide.

The Refugee Action Coalition said the refugee attempted to kill himself at the Anibare camp on Monday afternoon.

The Coalition's Ian Rintoul said although the man was in obvious distress, police arrested him rather than calling an ambulance.

It follows a government edict made last week that any refugee who threatens or attempts suicide be arrested.

Mr Rintoul said it was not known if the police sought medical assistance for the refugee.

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

- RNZ.CO.NZ

Refugees held in Nauru.
Refugees held in Nauru. Source: Supplied/RNZ.CO.NZ