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UNITED STATES

UNITED STATES

Sheen takes Anger role

LOS ANGELES. Four months after getting axed from the TV show Two and a Half Men when he publicly attacked his bosses, actor Charlie Sheen (left) was officially announced as the star in Anger Management, a proposed sitcom based on the 2003 movie starring Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler.

Sheen will play the Nicholson character, a provocative doctor with some odd therapeutic techniques.

"I chose Anger Management because, while it might be a big stretch for me to play a guy with serious anger management issues, I think it is a great concept," Sheen said in a statement.

It is not clear when filming will start, who his co-stars or lead writers will be or which US network might air the project.

NEW ZEALAND

Sole inspector on watch

GREYMOUTH. The New Zealand Department of Labour has only one staff member to check the safety of mines, the royal commission of inquiry on the Pike River Coal mine disaster has been told.

Department health and safety inspector Michael Firmin yesterday told the commission investigating the deaths of 29 workers, including two Australians, at the West Coast mine last November that he was currently the department's sole mine inspector, but ideally there would be four.

He was asked by James Wilding, counsel assisting the commission, whether companies were notified in advance of any mine inspections.

He replied that there had been no unannounced visits to underground coalmines, as far as he was aware.

INDONESIA

ASEAN ministers meet

BALI. Territorial disputes in the South China Sea are expected to dominate talks at Asia's largest security forum this week.

Foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of South-East Asian Nations arrived at a tightly guarded five-star hotel in Bali for their annual get-together yesterday.

They will be joined later in the week by officials from the wider Asian region, Europe and the US for the ASEAN Regional Forum.

Australia's Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, will take part tomorrow. Other key topics are expected to be the North Korean nuclear crisis, concerns about the slow pace of democratisation in military-dominated Burma, and the Cambodia-Thailand border dispute.

NEW ZEALAND

Amorous bird rugby-ready

WELLINGTON. A kakapo parrot who became an internet sensation after he was filmed getting frisky with a New Zealand zoologist is set to go on tour during the rugby World Cup.

Sirocco will visit Orokonui Ecosanctuary in Dunedin and Zealandia in Wellington during September and October to promote the work of the Kakapo Recovery Program.

Thought to be New Zealand's most famous bird, Sirocco developed an international following after attempting to mate with zoologist Mark Carwardine's head in 2009. Carwardine was in New Zealand with English actor Stephen Fry filming the BBC documentary series Last Chance to See.

A You Tube internet video of Sirocco and Carwardine has been viewed more than 3 million times.

UNITED STATES

Shuttle farewell in space

WASHINGTON. The crew of the Atlantis have farewelled astronauts on the International Space Station, wrapping up the final visit by a space shuttle to the orbiting outpost.

As the shuttle age draws to a close after 37 dramatic encounters, their crews held a moving ceremony, exchanging embraces and kisses before shutting for a final time the hatches separating them. Astronauts then placed an American flag seal over the passageway separating the shuttle and the space station, in a poignant gesture to symbolise the end of one era of US space flight and the dawn of a new one.

The shuttle was to fly home on Friday Melbourne time before its retirement, which marks the end of the 30-year US space shuttle program.


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