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Top 10: The week’s most popular stories

As millions prepared for Christmas this week, it was a tiny island off Australia with the same name as the Christian holiday that held the attention of news audiences worldwide.


The deaths of 48 Iranian, Iraqi and Kurdish aslyum seekers, including women, children and infants, made the front pages of major papers and the lead items of news bulletins around the globe.

However, it was not the story of the crash itself that drew clicks; rather, it was a riot that broke out in the detention centre on Christmas Island, apparently when some detainees were asked to identify the bodies of the drowned asylum seekers.

It emerged later that a power outage may have triggered the riot, but while its cause remained unclear, the pain and anger in the wake of the catastrophe was palpable. Politicians waited three days before turning the tragedy into a political football.

Taking out the top spot was what many have been awaiting since WikiLeaks released its first secret cable: the moment Wikileaks hit out at a bank.

Unfortunately, it was not as it seemed.

Though founder Julian Assange has promised a ‘megaleak’ on financial institutions next year, the headline actually referred to his fury at Bank of America, as it cut payments to the whistleblower website citing ‘inconsistencies with its internal processes.’

If there are any bankers out there disposed to offering a translation – we’d love to hear from you in the comments section!

Assange took number three himself, telling an interviewer that two women who have accused him of sex assault were just ‘in a tizzy’ due to their fears he may have given them an STD.

In possible testimony to his immense popularity, the remark caused very little fuss.

Empathy turned out to be a strong theme throughout the list, with the tale of Aussies and Kiwis stuck Heathrow ‘hell’ – unable to catch flights home for Christmas as snow paralysed transport hubs across Europe – taking out fourth.

Thousands of people faced a potential Christmas morning on airport floors with foily thermal blankets instead of holiday cheer to warm them.

A WikiLeaks revelation that China did not oppose the arrest of Omar al-Bashir came in at fifth.

Readers’ surprise at the headline probably dissipated upon reading that the Asian superpower’s oil interests were protected, no matter the fate of its Sudanese ally’s leader.

Taking a break from the hard news, readers reminisced with our image gallery of the week that saw Oprah visit Sydney, and Hugh Jackman not see a lighting rig that he slammed into as he arrived at her show by flying fox.

In seventh place, the censoring of Pentagon journalists – who were banned from consulting cables leaked by you-know-who – sparked outrage.

A lunar eclipse made a memorable solstice for star-gazers in the northern hemisphere, but Aussies missed out on seeing the whole thing. That didn’t decrease interest in the once-in-300-years event, with the story coming in eighth.

Julian Assange reappeared in ninth place, but this time on the other end of the stick. He was complaining about being the victim of a leak , slamming UK newspaper The Guardian for obtaining unauthorised access to a Swedish police report detailing sex charges against him.

In tenth place, South Korea’s fresh live-fire drill on its contentious and tense border with its northern neighbour certainly drew a reaction from our readers, but fortunately it drew none from Pyongyang.

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