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In Brief: Haughey's spin doc is dad at 71

THE former spin doctor of Charles Haughey has become a dad at aged 71.

PJ Mara, one of the best known operators in Irish politics, retired in 2007.

He is reported to have celebrated the birth of a baby daughter in the past two weeks. "I don't want to comment on this at all, I am out of politics, and out of public life now and I am a private citizen," he said.

Businessman Ben Dunne congratulated his old pal, however.

"I am delighted for him and his partner. It's great news and I wish everybody the very best for the future."



Rescuers have given up hope of finding any survivors after a boat carrying at least 55 asylum seekers to Australia capsized in the Indian Ocean.

Bodies, life jackets and debris have been spotted near Christmas Island after the boat's submerged hull was discovered on Friday.

The asylum seekers were still 1,600 miles from Perth, the nearest Australian port.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said no one could have survived that long in the sea.



Several villages are being evacuated and rail lines shut after the swollen Elbe river breached a levee in eastern Germany.

The city of Magdeburg, grappled over the weekend with water levels more than 16ft above normal.

Further downstream, a dike at Fischbeck, west of Berlin, was breached during the night. Officials moved to evacuate 10 villages in the area.



Hobbits, elves and dragons are luring tourists to New Zealand as fans await their first glimpse of the second movie in The Hobbit trilogy.

Tourism New Zealand figures show that international holidays to New Zealand rose 10pc from January to April.

The agency said a survey indicated that 8.5pc of visitors cited The Hobbit as one reason for coming and that 13pc took part in some kind of hobbit-themed tourism like visiting a film set while in New Zealand.