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In Brief: Families hit by insurance hike

CONSUMERS are to be hit with a further hike in health insurance premiums that will cost many families more than €100 extra a year.

Aviva Health Insurance last night announced increases of between 4 and 7pc on its plans, blaming higher claims costs.

The increases -- which come into force on October 15 -- will add €53 to the Level 2 Health Excess plan, bringing it from €883 a year per person to €936.

The Consumers Association of Ireland slammed the "extraordinary" number of increases which would make it impossible for many families to continue to pay.

Row over teen's kiss with OAP

A concussion kept Jamie Kuntz from suiting up for his first American college football game. A kiss from his much-older boyfriend (65) at that game led the freshman (18) to be kicked off the team, he said.

North Dakota State College of Sciences acknowledges Kuntz was disciplined by the team, but says it was for lying about the kiss.

A teammate apparently saw the kiss and told coaches, Kuntz said. When Parsons confronted Kuntz, he told him the man he kissed was his grandfather.

Inside Statue of Liberty reopens

Visitors to the Statue of Liberty will once again be able to go inside the monument, starting next month.

David Luchsinger, superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, said the interior of the statue would be open to the public again from October 26, the statue's 126th birthday.

The interior has been closed to visitors since last October for renovation.

Taliban sanction regime praised

A new United Nations sanctions regime targeting the Taliban has encouraged overtures by the militant group's leaders, but many obstacles remain before talks with the Afghan government can begin, let alone end the war that continues to rage, a monitoring team said.

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan for five years before being driven out of power in the US-led invasion in late 2001.