The Australian
– and indeed all the major dailies – splashes with the release of Australian hostage Douglas Wood in Iraq. The Oz also reports that Australian combat forces could be back in Afghanistan by early next year to help stabilise the country and continue the fight against al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. And rogue trader
Luke Duffy has been sentenced to more than two years’ jail for his role
in last year’s trading scandal that cost the bank $360 million.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on Douglas Wood’s release under the headline: “Alive and free after 47 days.” Also on the front page is the news that Deputy Commissioner,
Dave Madden, will not become NSW’s next top cop following the Police
Integrity Commission’s finding he made “significant errors of judgment”
in connection with the Bulldogs rape inquiry. And just over 60% of
Australians believe the cost of the Iraq war has not been worth it
according to a survey by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

The Age
front page is dominated by Wood’s release, relegating the acquittal of gangland identity Dominic Gatto
over the murder of underworld hitman Andrew “Benji” Veniamin to the
bottom of the front page. But the saga is not over yet for Gatto who
will now be investigated over allegations of perjury as evidence he gave during his Supreme Court murder trial appeared to contradict his previous sworn testimony.

The Daily Telegraph manages to fit in the headline “DOUG WOOD FREED” under a large picture of local hero Andrew Johns
in action, who established himself as “the greatest of NSW Origin
players” last night “inspiring” a 32-22 win against Queensland by his
starring role. The Tele also reports that the prime minister
has kept a diary over the last 30 years “loaded with intimate
observations on political life” and he’s considering putting them into
a book when he leaves Parliament.

The Herald Sun headline simply reads “RESCUED” above a large photo of the freed Aussie. The Hun also devotes five pages to the Gatto verdict, complete with photos from the Gatto family’s welcome home party and a warning from the sister of murdered hitman Andrew Veniamin that the ledger would one day be squared before a higher power.

The Courier-Mail
reveals that questions have been raised over a $500,000 federal grant
which was given to a topless pub in north Queensland to help the
Atherton tablelands develop a new image. The Advertiser reports that the cost of building opening bridges over the Port River had blown out by $42 million. Similarly in WA, The West reports the government is facing a potential $50 million blow-out in delivering Perth’s new multi-purpose indoor stadium.

The Mercury
says Premier Paul Lennon has conceded there’s concern over prime
agricultural land being turned into plantations for a pulp mill planned
for northern Tasmania. And the NT News
reveals that a proposed plan to connect the Territory to the national
electricity grid would not guarantees it would lower power costs.

In the UK, The Daily Telegraph
publishes a strange and sad obituary following the death of the
youngest of South Africa’s rain queens – 27-year-old Queen Modjadji.
Rain queens are “believed to have been bestowed with the powers to
control the rains and rivers,” explains the paper, and Modjadji was
crowned two years ago by the royal council of the Balobedu people,
despite having already found a long-term partner and given birth to a
son. The Guardian
reveals that detectives in LA are investigating whether they can rein
in a new breed of paparazzi with criminal charges, following fears that
photographers hunting for the “money shot” are increasingly out of
control. The LAPD may start charging photographers and their agencies
with “conspiracy” instead of the “misdemeanours” they are usually
charged with. And The Times
reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has
criticised web-based media for “paranoid fantasy, self-indulgent
nonsense and dangerous bigotry” in a lecture to media professionals,
politicians and church leaders.