After nearly 15 months being held captive by suspected Islamic militants in the southern Philippines, Warren Rodwell is emaciated, exhausted but delighted to be free at last.
Philippine authorities found Rodwell, a 54-year-old Australian, early Saturday in the port city of Pagadian on the island of Mindanao.FULL STORY
The anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd said ships from the Japanese whaling fleet attacked its vessels, ramming them and hurling concussion grenades.
"There's been the most outrageous attack on the Sea Shepherd Australia ships today," said Bob Brown, a member of the board of directors of Sea Shepherd Australia, describing it as the "worst incident" the group had experienced since one of its vessels sank two years ago.
In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Brown said that a large Japanese factory ship, the Nisshin Maru, had repeatedly rammed Sea Shepherd ships in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica where it was trying to refuel and that a Japanese government escort vessel had directed water cannon and lobbed concussion grenades at the activists.FULL STORY
After a week of international controversy, Israel says it will investigate the case of an Australian-Israeli citizen known as 'Prisoner X' - a man whose detainment and death in an Israeli cell remain cloaked in mystery.
A parliamentary committee announced the inquiry Sunday, saying it will look into all aspects of the case involving the prisoner, who died in December 2010.
The announcement came the same day Israel's prime minister said an "overexposure of security and intelligence activity" could harm state security.
The case of Prisoner X has sparked widespread debate in Israel over government censorship and the country's prison system.
The prisoner's name has never been revealed by Israel.FULL STORY
Authorities in Australia have arrested a man they say conspired with a convicted international arms dealer known as the "Merchant of Death."
Richard Ammar Chichakli, a U.S. and Syrian citizen, was arrested Wednesday by Australian authorities at the request of the United States, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said Thursday.
The DEA alleges Chichakli once conspired with convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout to buy airplanes to illegally transport weapons to conflict zones.FULL STORY
Soaring temperatures and strong winds have combined to create a "catastrophic" fire threat across the southeast Australian state of New South Wales.
Residents have been warned to remain vigilant as temperatures rise towards a predicted high of 43 degrees (109 degrees Fahrenheit) in the state capital of Sydney.FULL STORY
The Australian radio station which made a prank call to a UK hospital that apparently resulted in the death of a nurse said Tuesday that it would donate at least 500,000 Australian dollars (US$524,000) to a fund for the nurse's family.
Jacintha Saldanha apparently committed suicide after being duped by the prank call from two DJs seeking information on Prince William's pregnant wife, Catherine.FULL STORY
Australia's Great Barrier Reef has lost 50% of its coral since the mid-1980s, much of that because of a ravenous species of starfish that can each consume some 12 square yards (10 square meters) of coral in a year, scientists reported Tuesday.
According to a study by the Australian government's Institute of Marine Sciences and the University of Wollongong, the coral cover on the world's largest coral reef ecosystem suffered damage from tropical cyclones (48%), the crown-of-thorns starfish (42%), and coral bleaching (10%).
If current trends continue, the reef will lose another 50% of its coral in the next 10 years, the scientists said.
Stopping the starfish infestation is the one thing humans can do that can save the reef, they said.
"We can't stop the storms, and ocean warming (the primary cause of coral bleaching) is one of the critical impacts of the global climate change," John Gunn, chief executive officer of the institute, said in a press release. "However, we can act to reduce the impact of crown of thorns."
"The study shows that in the absence of crown of thorns, coral cover would increase at 0.89% per year, so even with losses due to cyclones and bleaching there should be slow recovery," Gunn said in the release.
Reacting to the study, the World Wildlife Fund said Australia must reduce fertilizer runoff as a first step to controlling the crown-of-thorns starfish.
Australian police say they have busted a major drug ring after seizing a record haul of methamphetamine and heroin worth $526 million (500 million Australian dollars) that was stuffed into terra cotta pots.
More than 674 pounds of crystal methamphetamine and 555 pounds of heroin were seized as part of an operation that began a year ago when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration tipped off officials that an international crime syndicate was planning to import drugs to Australia. Police targeted two massive cargo containers containing 3,200 terra cotta pots coming from Thailand.
X-rays of the containers showed what was probably drugs heavily packed into 100 pots, officials said Tuesday in Australia.
The pots were sealed with a putty-like substance to conceal the drugs, officials said.
"The actual concealment itself wasn't particularly sophisticated: terra cotta pots concealed in bulk on pallets within cardboard boxes and then shrink-wrapped," said Mike Pezzullo of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.
Officials from the two investigating agencies in Australia said it was the largest seizure of methamphetamine in the country's history and the third largest of heroin.
Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner of Operations Andrew Colvin said that through the course of the investigation, authorities kept close watch on suspects as they tracked the shipment.
Four suspects from Hong Kong and three Australians were arrested as part of the operation, the Australian Federal Police and Australian Customs and Border Protection Service announced. The men face a maximum penalty of life in prison on charges of possession or attempting to possess commercial quantities of methamphetamine or heroin.
“This operation follows the AFP’s most successful year in terms of drug seizures," Colvin said in a news release. “In the 2011/12 financial year, the AFP and its partner agencies seized almost 14 tons of illicit substances bound for drug distribution networks across Australia."
Colvin said that was in large part due to the collaboration between international intelligence groups.
A ship carrying about 150 people has sunk in the waters between Australia and Indonesia, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said Wednesday. Two merchant vessels are trying to rescue people where the ship went down, about 107 nautical miles north of Australia's Christmas Island, the authority said.
Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
Azaria Chamberlain was just 2 months old when she disappeared from a tent during a family trip to Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock. A coroner ruled Tuesday that a dingo, a wild dog native to Australia, caused her death. The girl's mother, Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, was sentenced to life in jail; the conviction was later overturned. Meryl Streep starred in a movie about the incident, burning the cries of "the dingo's got my baby" into popular consciousness. Chamberlain-Creighton said she was "relieved and delighted to come to the end of this saga."
Readers debated the case, the animal in question, justice and popular culture references to the case.
For many, this new development in the dingo saga brings a sense of closure.
Leigh2: "What a hard life that poor woman has had. You can see it in her face. She and her husband may have won money from a lawsuit, but she and her family have paid dearly themselves over the accusations of murdering their own baby. Besides their child being snatched by a big canine and knowing their baby died a horrible death, that all had to be an immense strain on them. I saw the movie based on what happened years ago. It was a very emotional and upsetting movie. One that I vowed to only view once. So sad. "
Plenty of other readers talked about the impact of "A Cry in the Dark," the movie about the incident.
dfwenigma: "When I saw 'A Cry in the Dark' I was completely overwhelmed. This couple was simply trying to make a go of it. Personally I think living out there in the middle of nowhere was probably not a great decision for a couple with a baby, however, they absolutely had the right to do so ... let's lay off the politics in these postings - a child lost her life thirty years ago - and the mother is finally vindicated. That calls for celebration for her - and mourning for the poor child."
NanookoftheNorth: "I feel the same about 'Sophie's Choice' ... only saw it once and it has left a life-time impression on me. Like 'A Cry In The Dark', both movies starred the young and just starting out in her career, Meryl Streep. We could see then that brillant actress was going places ... the Katharine Hepburn of our time !"
This reader was critical of the way the case was portrayed. FULL POST
Prospective U.S. military recruits have long been told "Uncle Sam wants you!"
Well, Stars and Stripes reports Tuesday that Australia wants you even more and is willing to pay for it.
"The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) welcomes enquiries from both officers and sailors who are interested in a new career and new life in Australia," the Australian Navy's website says.
The U.S. ally down under is seeking everything from submariners to doctors at ranks from enlisted to officers in all branches of its services and salaries can be substantially higher, according to the Stars and Stripes report.
A staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force with six years of service makes $31,946 while a corporal in the Royal Australian Air Force makes $57,277 in U.S. dollars, Stripes reports. The difference is pay for an officer is less, but Australia still comes out on top, with a U.S. Air Force captain earning $63,263 and the Australian equivalent, a flight lieutentant, making $66,417 in U.S. dollars.
Stripes points out that Australia's economy, boosted by Chinese demand for its mineral exports, is in better shape than many other areas of the world.
Australia is seeking experienced applicants only and has a program in place to grant permanent residency to foreign passport holders.
Australia has signed on about 500 foreigners from the U.S., Canada, Britain and New Zealand in the past five years, according to the report.
Imagine the fear of losing control and falling unexpectedly to the ground - or even underground. CNN.com has compiled video of people who have survived such incidents captured on camera. You've gotta watch how they make it through their rough landings.
A man falls from a tower scaffold during a music festival in Sydney and lives to tell the story.
An 18-year-old sits on the handrail of an escalator, loses his balance and falls 20 feet.
A girl chatting on her cell phone in China falls through a sidewalk weakened by water.
Editor's Note: This post is a recap of the top five videos on CNN.com from the past week. So in case you didn't catch our best videos during the week, here is your chance to see what you missed.
The top videos on CNN.com this week featured a jaws-like shark swarm, a new high-tech Dreamliner, the story of a mother's dramatic reunion and some horrifying video of torture and death in Syria as the uprising there reaches the one year mark. Click below to see the videos that impacted so many others this week.
Sharks off the coast of Australia go on a feeding frenzy. Australia's Network Ten reports.
CNN's Arwa Damon reports on torture captured on video carried out allegedly by Syrian soldiers.
In Syria, a rescue operation to retrieve bodies of a massacred family turns up a child who lived. Arwa Damon reports.
Dr. Drew talks to Auboni Champion-Morin, whose son was found after being kidnapped 8 years ago.
Lizzie O'Leary reports on whether the new Boeing 787 is everything it's cracked up to be.
A 3-year-old girl had emergency surgery after 37 of them perforated her stomach and intestines. A 12-year-old Australian had her bowel torn in four places after swallowing five of them.
They are powerful pea-size magnets marketed as stress relievers for harried adults but called a safety risk for children by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The magnets are sold under the brand names Buckyballs and Nanospheres among others.
"We want parents to be aware of the danger associated with these innocent-looking magnets," safety commission Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in a November statement. "The potential for serious injury and death if multiple magnets are swallowed demands that parents and medical professionals be aware of this hidden hazard and know how to treat a child in distress."
The Consumer Product Safety Commission then reported 22 incidents involving the magnets from 2009 through October. "Of the reported incidents, 17 involved magnet ingestion and 11 required surgical removal of the magnets. When a magnet has to be removed surgically, it often requires the repair of the child's damaged stomach and intestines," the commission statement said.
Kevin Rudd, the Australian foreign minister, has resigned, his office said Wednesday, amid speculation that he may mount a leadership challenge to Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
The Australian news media has been abuzz in recent days with reports that Rudd was considering contesting Gillard's leadership of the governing Labor Party.
Gillard unseated Rudd as prime minister in June 2010 after he lost support within the party.
Ranya Alkadamani, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, confirmed that Rudd had resigned while in Washington.FULL STORY
Authorities were using military helicopters and a C-130 cargo plane Sunday to evacuate thousands of residents stranded by rising floodwaters in the eastern Australian state of Queensland, the government said.
Heavy rains in recent weeks have swollen rivers beyond their banks, threatening a number of communities in Queensland and New South Wales.
Authorities were using the plane and helicopters to evacuate patients from a hospital in particularly hard-hit Queensland town of St. George, where officials were warning about 4,000 residents to get out of the path of what officials say will be a record-breaking flood.
"This is a very serious situation and I urge people to cooperate," Queensland Premier Anna Bligh told CNN affiliate Nine Network.FULL STORY
There's something captivating about an attempt to break a previously set world record. We've looked before at Guinness World record holders with some of the most unique talents. A recent video of 145 water skiers pulled by one boat got us thinking, what about other records set by large groups of people?
145 skiers pulled by one boat - We've seen water-skiing pyramids, we've seen water-skiing Santas and we've even seen a water-skiing squirrel. Yawn. How about 145 water skiers pulled by one boat? The previous world record of 114 was shattered by what started out as 154 skiers (Nine fell. They're ok) in Australia. The record is still being confirmed by officials, but the video is impressive, nonetheless.
100 skydivers attempt to break record - It's pretty amazing to see professional skydivers link up to create formations thousands of feet in the air. But these thrill-seekers take it to another level by attempting to break the previous world record with 100 skydivers from 16 different countries. Were they successful at getting all jumpers linked up at once? Watch and find out!
Security officers escorted Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard out of a Canberra restaurant Thursday after an angry mob of protesters surrounded the building during a luncheon ceremony, police said.
Gillard and federal opposition leader Tony Abbott were taken out of the building after a group of between 50 and 100 protesters from a nearby ceremony gathered around the building, bashing windows and brandishing sticks and rocks, according to federal police.
The prime minister was presenting medals to emergency service workers during an Australia Day celebration. In a nearby venue, a spontaneous protest erupted with an Aboriginal rights group. The group was commemorating the 40th anniversary of an Aboriginal "tent embassy."FULL STORY
Tropical Cyclone Heidi slammed into northwestern Australia as a Category 2 storm early Thursday morning, dousing the region with torrential rain as residents remained on "red alert" over reports of strong winds and flooding, officials said.
The storm system, which prompted several major ports and oil fields to shut down in anticipation of tidal surges, packed gales of up to 145 kilometers per hour (90 mph) as it headed inland, according to Neil Bennett, a spokesman for the country's Bureau of Meteorology.
It has since weakened to a Category 1 storm and continues to lose steam as it moves farther inland, Bennett said.
Several sea ports were shut down ahead of the storm, from Port Hedland - a major iron ore exporting center - down to the more southern terminals at Dampier, according to Steed Farrell, a spokesman for the Port Hedland Port Authority.
"It's in the hands of mother nature," he added.
The agency activated contingency plans, which removed all nonessential personnel from the ports and obliged major vessels to relocate.
Some 3,600 residents in the Port Hedland area were left without power Thursday after the storm rolled through, according to the region's electricity provider, Horizon Power.
The country's largest oil and gas firm, Woodside Petroleum, also closed operations in several offshore oil fields.FULL STORY
An Australian man sentenced to 500 lashes and a year in prison after his conviction on blasphemy charges in Saudi Arabia has been pardoned and is headed home, officials said Thursday.
Mansor Almaribe was arrested and convicted in November in the city of Medina.
"Saudi Arabian authorities have granted Mr AlMaribe a pardon from his prison sentence, and his corporal punishment was also greatly reduced and administered in a way that did not cause physical harm," the Australian foreign ministry said in a statement.
The ministry did not elaborate on how the lashing was carried out.
It's unclear what the 45-year-old Shia Muslim from Victoria state said or did to get arrested, but Australia had appealed for leniency after his sentence.
Australian officials said they were told Almaribe made comments "insulting to prophet Mohammed's relatives."
"I don't think my dad would even survive 50 lashes not 500," his son said last month. "He goes to the doctor every week for checks ups. He has knee injuries and back injuries from a car accident and he also has diabetes and high blood pressure."
The family spent weeks searching for the Iraqi-born father of five after he went missing in early November while performing the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
Blasphemy is punishable by up to a death sentence under the strict Muslim law in Saudi Arabia.FULL STORY