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Tonight - earth tremors, the

United Nations warns of a

global recession. The power

and the passion to ban plastic

shopping bags. I reckon that

Australia as a whole, all of

us, everyone in every State, is ready to take these

steps. After the flood, the

drama of insurance coverage.

And, one game back on track,

now it's tennis attacking umpires. I feel like the

cricketers, I think. What's

going on with all the refs

these days? They're

useless. Good evening, Joe

O'Brien with ABC News. There's

been a dire economic warning

from the United Nations. The UN says problems in the United

States could trigger a world

recession, while the Australian

economy remains strong, the

global credit crunch continues

to take a toll on Australia's

retail banks and home buyers.

The subprime mortgage crisis in

the United States has

economists around the world

increasingly worried. It's

increasingly obvious that the

US is teetering on the brink of

recession. Investment house

Goldman Sachs has become the latest top Wall Street bank to

agreement There's a range of economic indicators out of the

US over the last week and

they're all pretty negative. The United Nations

says there's a 50% chance it'd

lead to a global recession. It

led the Treasurer to ring his

US counterpart to discuss the

world economy. We are

well-placed to ride out the

turbulence, but we're not

immune from it. Since the

credit crunch emerged

Australia's big banks have been playing down their exposure,

but it's been reported and big

four have a $1 billion

investment in US mortgage group

Country Wide Financial, which

is rumoured to be close to

collapse and the Commonwealth

Bank has become the third

lender to lift its variable home loan interest rates in

response to the crisis. Any

exposure to that subprime

market is causing nervousness

across the board for obvious

reasons. It's really up to the

banks to be more open and

accountable. The banks'

increase has come independent

of any action by the Reserve

Bank, but Australian home

buyers could be hit up once

again. Recent strong economic

data may influence the Reserve

Bank to lift official interest

rates next month. The Reserve

Bank is between a rock and a

hard place. On the one hand

strong retail sales and so on, inflationary pressures are

arguing for a rate hike. On

the other hand, the global

economy is slowing rapidly. The

telling figure will be the next

set of inflation figures out in

two weeks' time. They're a

part of daily life for many of

us, but not for much longer.

The plastic shopping bag is on

notice. The Federal Government

wants the State to agree on a

gradual ban on the bags to

start within 12 months but

retailers say outlawing them is

heavy-handed and customers will

pay a price. Australians churn through four million plastic

shopping bags every year. I've

got one at the moment. I tend

to use my recycle bag, but I

guess you forget them a

lot. It's a habit Peter Garrett

wants to wean the nation off.

He's keen to introduce a

gradual ban on plastic shopping

bags before the year's

out. Well, I reckon this is

something Australians are ready

for. I'd say get rid of them,

for sure. Get rid of plastic

bags, you don't need them. It's

estimated 40 million plastic

bags are already littering the

nation's rivers, and bushland

and beach. Mr Garrett's

pushing for a total ban rather

than a plastic bag levy. I

personally don't think we need

another tax in this country.

We need to phase them

out. Retailers say supermarkets

have halved and number of bags

they doll out and it's durms

who'll pay for the prohibition

on plastic. Anyone who thinks

you can save the planet is off

the planet. Australia's not

alone in a bid to tackle its

mountains of rubbish, China's

just announced a ban on free

plastic shopping bags and

ultra-thin bags will be outlawed completely. Other

countries can do it, Australia

can too. Plastic bags aren't

the only thing being dumped by

the Rudd Government. John

Howard's pet project to impose

a compulsory Australian history

course is headed for the

scrapheap , too. Julia Gillard wants some history to be mandatory, but will work with

the States to try to achieve

it. What the Rudd Labor

Government has to do is

convince all States to come in

on a consensus on what's a proper curriculum. That could

be easier said than done. I

want to make sure that West Australian students learn a lot of West Australian

history. Politicians and

politics should be out of the

history curriculum. History

wars, all over again. Rain,

floods, now the devil's in the

detail of insurance policies.

As they count the cost from

last week's deluge, residents

on the State's north coast are

striking problems with payouts

and some are having to turn

elsewhere for help. As the

clean-up continues in Kyogle,

there's confusion and anger

among flood affected residents

about whether they're covered

by insurance. It's very

strange, and the wording at the

start of the policy it says you

are covered and then right at

the end of it, it says you're

not. So um, we're fighting

with them at the moment. A concern that I have with

differentiation between the insurance is the potential

water coming up and water

coming down. As residents try

to figure out if insurance

companies will pay for flood

and or storm damage, the

Community Services Minister

offered some support. First and

most importantly, they need to contact their insurance company

and then if they have further

issues, certainly they're

welcome to deal with the

disaster recovery centre. People have started

dropping into the centre to get

help after losing just about

everything. Oh, all me clothes,

TV, personal items. The hard

work is far from over, as

residents pick through their

ruined homes. And it just

destroyed everything. Rex Brown

was surprised by the speed and strength of the flood

waters. This is probably about

the seventh flood I've ever

been in, but I've never seen so

much damage. The minister was

given a first-hand account of

just how high the waters

rose. I mean, that basketball's

hoop's been bent down by kids

squiming in it. Charlie Dlask

had his belongings packed and

ready to move when the storms hit. It could have been worse,

everybody's alive. It's going

to take some time before

everybody's lives return to normal. George W. Bush has

arrived in Israel for a

landmark visit. It's his first

official trip there as President. Talking up

prospects for peace, he urged both Israeli and Palestinian

leaders to seize what he called

" a historic opportunity".

Middle East correspondent David

Hardaker. It's taken seven

years for the US President to

arrive, and when George W. Bush touched down in Israel, it was

to a hero's welcome. You are

our strongest and most trusted

ally in the battle against

terrorism. Mr Bush's visit to

Israel is his first as

president. The President's

visit has come two months after

he hosted a Middle East peace

conference in Annapolis. It

was smiles all round there.

Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas shook

hands on trying to agree to

peace terms by the end of this

year. Since then, though, it's

been a different story. It's

under no illusions, it's hard

work. Talks have stalled over

Israel's decision to build new

homes in a disputed area and

there's been Palestinian anger

over Israel's failure to remove illegally-built outposts in the

occupied West Bank. Despite

the problems, the US President

said he was optimistic about

the chances for peace and he

said it was time Israel removed

its illegal outposts. We've

been talking about it for four

years. The agreement was, get

rid of illegal outposts and they ought to go. President

Bush has made it clear he wants

to see a two-State solution to

the long-running conflict here,

with Israel and the Palestinians living

side-by-side in security.

However, there are plenty of

sceptics on the ground who

believe that with only 12

months left of his presidency,

Mr Bush has left it too late to bring about a peace deal

between Israel and a

Palestinian people, who are

more deeply divided than ever.

The United States has been

accused of fabricating a video

that allegedly shows Iranian

speed boat s. The iryanian

State-controlled English news

channel has quoted Iran's

Revolutionary Guard saying the

video is a fake . The footage

consistented of file pictures

and the audio had been

fabricated. The video condenses

with US Navy officials say was

a stand-off lasting about 20

minutes. And in America, the

pollsters are still scratching their heads over Hillary

Clinton's upset win in the New

Hampshire presidential primary.

The victory has ignited and

race for the Democratic

nomination and sparked intense

debate over why the polls got

it so wrong. North America

correspondent, Mark Simkin. New Hampshire is returning to

normal, but the shockwaves will

be felt for weeks. Pollsters

are trying to work out how they

got it so spectacularly and

embarrassingly wrong. In my

experience, this is

unprecedented, to have this

many polls all be wrong all in

the same direction, all in the same race on the same

day. Women flocked to Hillary

Clinton at the last-minute.

Did this emotional moment on

the eve of the primary have

something to do with it. I just

don't want to see us fall

backwards. Some Clinton critics

say it was a stunt and others

say it made her look weak.

Others believe it humanised a

candidate seen as cold. Even

though I don't support it, it's

like, you go girl. I felt I

finally could convey that to

people and that they heard me

and we connected in a really

personal and profound

feeling. The emotion must be contagious. This was Hillary Clinton's husband after the

stunning win. Two States, two

different winners, the contest

is by no means over. Barack

Obama says he's going to fight

back aggressively. My voice is

a little hoarse. My eyes are a

little bleary. My back is a

little sore. But my spirit is

strong. For the Democrats, the

next stop is Nevada and few

pundits are willing to bet on

the outcome. A father in the

American state of Alabama has

confessed to throwing his four

young children off a high-rise

bridge after a domestic

dispute. The 37-year-old fish

Ehrmann has been charged with

four counts of murder. Efforts

to find the bodies have been

hampered by strong currents and

fog. Police say they believe

the man threw his children from

the 24 metre high bridge and

then reported them missing. We

really are in a recovery stage at this point, we don't believe

the chances of someone in the

water right here being alive is

very good. The youngest of the

children is just several

months, the oldest is 3. Why

didn't somebody notice? That's

the question being asked after

the grisly discovery of a man's

body in his unit a year after

he died. The State Government

is being accused of neglecting

its public housing tenants, but

the community is also under

fire for failing to check up on

a neighbour. It took a year

for anyone to notice that the

man who lived in this unit had

died. Today, many are

wondering why. I can't understand people who are

closer to him, like living

closer to him didn't smell, or

notice anything. The

64-year-old's rent was still

being paid by direct-debit, but

his letterbox was overflowing,

and it's understood his

electricity supply was cut in

July last year. In 2006, there

were several similar deaths.

The bodies of seven elderly

people were found in their

homes in Sydney. Some up to

eight months after they had

died. The Opposition says that

at the time the Government

promised to visit elderly

public housing tenants every

six months. Had the Government

undertaken what it promised to

do, perhaps this man's tragic end may have been

different. But today, the

Housing Minister didn't seem to

know whether the policy even

existed. The program now is a

care core program and a Good

Neighbour Programme.

REPORTER: Why were the visits

scrapped? The Government has

sought tenders for a care core

program which would ensure

tenants living alone would have

telephoned regularly. In this

case, there was no phone.

Groups representing elderly

people say it's a sign of the

times. In today's fast-moving

automated world, it becomes

very difficult and very easy to

overlook people. Neighbours are

being encouraged to make time

for one another.A 14-year-old boy has been charged with the

rape of a 13-year-old boy in

the southern suburbs of

Adelaide on Sunday. The

incident allegedly happened at

a public toilet. It's believed

the victim and his alleged

attacker were at a nearby skate

park earlier in the day. The

14-year-old has been released

under strict bail conditions.

Police haven't ruled out

further arrests. A bus company

has suspended services to a

western Sydney suburb after a

15-year-old boy allegedly threw

a beer bottle at one of its

buses. Police say the teenager

was part of a group of drunken

youths who targeted the bus in

Wilmot early this morning. The

bottle missed the windscreen

but cracked its destination

display. The driver says the

area has become a no-go zone

after a spate of attacks.

We're used to going into Wilmot and going in defence

mode. Now I've had a brick

through my window about six

months ago. The youth has been

charged with affray and causing

malicious damage. You're

watching ABC News. Tonight's

top story - the United Nations

has warned America's financial

problems could trigger a global

recession. Still to come -

Australia's captain paying a high price for the crisis in cricket. cricket.

Friends and family are

gathering in New Zealand , as

the epic trans-Tasman voyage of

two Australian Kayiacers draws

to an end. Sydneysiders James Castrission and Justin Jones

are expected to paddle into New

Plymouth south of Auckland, on

Sunday morning. There's just

100 kilometres to go, but they

might have to deal with 10

metre waves as they near the

coast. I pray every day and ask

God to give them a hand and,

you know, make them success

back and land again. We hope that they will be able to do

the journey quickly, but it's

been fairly harrowing, drawnout

like this, very harrowing. Vision taken yesterday shows the pair apparently in good condition

and paddling strongly after two

months at sea. A team of

international scientists is on

a mission to unlock the secrets

of the deep Southern Ocean and

to find out if global warming

is a new ne no more no-one. An

unmanned robot will go to new

depths to map and take pictures

more than 3.5 kilometres under

the ocean's surface. It's a

modern-day explorer, traversing

waters deeper than any robot

before it, from the southern

Atlantic to the Pacific ocean

and the Tasman Sea. Tomorrow,

'Abe' the automatic Benthic

explorer will leave Hobart on board Australia's marine

research vessel for the

Southern Ocean, where it'll

explore more unchartered

depths. We're mapping the sides

of underwater mountains, so you

look at the terrain around here

in Hobart, that sort of terrain

although much taller

mountains. It'll be dropped

overboard at three sites

hundreds of kilometres south of

Tasmania. Previous robotic

equipment has only reached

depths of 1800m. We have no

sampling, no idea what's deeper

than this. The 'Abe' will go

to 3.5 kilometres. We'll be going as far as we've gone

before and then going twice

that much again. It'll give

scientists their first ever

depth of life at that depth

that far south. It'll allow

them to locate and collect

samples of deep sea corals. The

current regimes down there and

the water mass variability is

really important in terms of predicting what climate change

is going to do to the world and

how fast it's going to

happen. The corals are known as

long-range indicators of

environmental change. Tests

back in the lab are expected to reveal any climate variability

in the past, giving scientists

an indication of whether global

warming is a new ne no more

no-one. In finance, the

Australian sharemarket ignored

a better performance on Wall

Street, and focussed instead on

subprime fears closer to home.

Here's Phillip Lasker. The

Macquarie Dictionary's

considering new words. Here's

one for this week -

recessionist, those believing a

US recession is inevitable and there's a growing number of

converts. The preachers of

doom ensured and All Ordinaries

Index fell yet again, so did

report s that our big four

banks have lend money to

Countrywide Financial. The

banks deny its direct exposure

to subprime, but direct,

indirect, who cares? It's the

word 'exposure' that investors

are worried about. The Centro

vehicles plunged more than 20%

on reports that the corporate

regulator ASIC is concerned the

group might be understating its

debt problems, alumina blamed a

stronger dollar for a 17% cut

in full-year earning forecast

and despite the rising currency

Australia's trade deficit narrowed for the first time in

four months to November to

$2.25 million.toys, cars and

Christmas no doubt played a big

part on the import side. Trade

and the weak US dollar's

positive impact on America's

economy is often forgotten in

all this recession talk. The

yellow line shows the housing

investment contribution to

economic growth, the red line shows net export's

contribution. The weaker

dollar is helping US exporters

so you'll see the red exports

line pointing up making a

positive contribution. It's

almost cancelling out the falling housing investment

yellow line. Still, the forces

dragging on US growth go beyond

housing investment. On

commodities market s gold

bullion took a breather from

its spectacular run-up and the

Australian dollar is boosted by

interest rate perceptions. In

other words, higher rates here

and lower rates in the US and

UK. And that's finance.

The fallout from the spiteful

Sydney cricket Test is getting

more personal. The parents of

the Australian captain Ricky

Ponting have been forced to

change their phone number after

a series of abusive calls. But

the Indian team resumed its

tour without incident today,

taking the field against an ACT

invitational side in Canberra.

Ricky Ponting's reputation and

leadership standing suffered after the Sydney Test, but he

never expected it to affect his

family. My mum and dad got some

fairly abusive phone calls on

their home phone and were

forced to um, go out and change

their phone number at

home. Indian cricket fans

responded with relief to their

team's return to action in a tour that at one stage looked

terminal. It's good for

cricket, it's good for

Australia, good for India, good

for Canberra, good for local

business, good for ABC, good

for me and you. The Indians

haven't sheltered spinner

Harbhajan Singh whose racial

abuse controversy, the captain

says, could have been settled

through a conversation with his

opposite number. Having played

cricket for this long, such an allegation would definitely

spiral into what it has now. I

anticipated that, and I

envisage that it would spiral

into a larger issue. So that

was the only reason. Ponting is

satisfied he acted appropriately on that issue,

but concedes Australia's

reactions to umpiring decisions

could have been better. Maybe I

should have reacted differently here, and Michael Clarke might

be saying the same thing and a few of the guys might be all

looking at what we've done that

last game. Australia has named

an unchanged team for the Test.

This Canberra game could decide

the make-up of the Indian

decide. Opener Virender Sehwag

missed his chance to push for

selection. Wasim Jaffer

starred with 92 in India's

total of 9 declared for 925.

The Indian batsmen will need

the practice. The pitch

curator in Perth is predicting

a feast for fast bowlers next

week. Pace and bounce is our

overriding characteristic that

we look for in a wicket at the

WACA. The third Test starts in

Perth on Wednesday. Cricket's

not the only sport having a go

at umpires. Teps officials are

copping a serve. Lleyton

Hewitt has blamed a drop in

umpiring standards for his

straight sets loss at the

Sydney International. There's

a school of thought that

Lleyton Hewitt is at his best

when he's angry. If that's the

case, he's in good form heading

into next week's Australian

Open. I feel like cricketers, I

think... what's going on with

all the refs these days?

They're useless. Hewitt staged

a running battle with the chair

umpire during yesterday's

loss. Central umpires have

probably gone into their shell

more so since Hawkeye has come

in. Um, which OK that's fine

and in major tournaments, but at the smaller tournaments

where you don't have Hawkeye

then they've still got to stand

up and make decisions. It's a

view that has some support. You

can't say that the people are

getting worse and worse, the

game is getting faster and

faster. It's impossible to see

some of the balls. I think we

all have good matches and

matches where sometimes the

umpiring is suspect. But I

guess it's a matter of

opinion. But Open organisers

have dismissed the comments as being in the heat of the

moment. And often a player is

going to have a comment during

the match or after the match

relative to tum pierg, but we

have full confidence in our

umpiring crew. Andy Roddick

handled the heat at Kooyong,

advancing to Saturday's final.

The American enjoyed and tough

conditions and has called on

Australian Open organisers to

leave the roof of Rod Laver

Arena open on hot days. That's what you have two months to

train for, to get yourself in

shape. I don't come to

Australia to play tennis in the

airconditioning. Roddick will

play the winner of tomorrow's

match between Chilean Fernando

Gonzales and Cypriot Marcos

Baghdatis. Mount Vesuvius

buried Pompeii in volcanic ash.

Now 2,000 years later, nearby

Naples is being buried under a

mountain of rubbish. More than

100,000 tonnes of the stuff is

rotting in the streets as a

dispute of garbage collection

drags on. European

correspondent Jane Hutcheon

says the row is also causing

political headaches. Naples -

situated on Italy's stunning

western coast, these days

there's an added feature on the

landscape, stinking, rotting

rubbish. Mountains and

mountains of it. For several

days, residents have held angry

demonstrations. They say the

local government has ignored

the mounting refuse problem for

the past 14 years. We are here

because Naples is a disaster

for Italy, for all Europe. Our

mayor is for us, a criminal

that destroyed our city and our dignity. Local officials in

this city of six million blame

the Mafia for controlling and

profiteering from waste

collection. And Italy's Prime

Minister said the Mafia's

stronghold on the waste

industry was about to end. They

shall not depend upon the

blackmail of transportation of

the criminality. They control

the garbage system. But Mr

Prodi said the government now

planned to intervene. He's

already called in the army to

clear some of the refuse and

designated new incinerate ors

and extra dump sites. But with

more than 100,000 tonnes of

rubbish still lining the

streets of Naples, locals have

resorted to burning it. The EU

has warned Italy to clean up

its act, or face sanctions in

the European Court of Justice.

Let's take a look at the

weather now. Here's Graham

Creed. Away from the north-east corner of the State

there hasn't been much rain in

the past week. That's had an

impact on Sydney dam levels.

this week recorded the first falls since 22 November.

These falls aren't surprising

when you look at today's

weather in Sydney.

The cloud in the Bight is a

cooler change. That will move

into Adelaide overnight.

Further north the monsoon is

active. All that heat in the

south won't affect eastern NSW.

As the winds are more north to

north-east. That's pumping in

humidity and not heat. Inland

they're turning more north-west

and that's tapping into the hot air mass over Central

Australia, and that will keep

temperatures high. The Southern

Alps are the most likely area

to see rainfall tomorrow.

Isolated light showers expected about the north-east corner of

the State.

Tonight's top stories again - the United Nations says the

economic slowdown in the United

States could trigger a global recession. The Federal

Government hopes to phase out

plastic shopping bags by the

end of the year. And,

insurance delays are frustrating residents trying to

get back on their feet after

the floods on the State's north

coast. That's ABC News for

now. We'll leave you with a

polar bear cub which is being

hand-reared in a German zoo.

Have a great night. Closed Captions by CSI

Tonight on the 7.30 Report -

Indonesia goes nuclear. 10

years from about now for

Indonesia sounds realistic. The

potential fallout from building

a nuclear plant on one of the

most earthquake-prone regions

will be dangerous for in the world. It's not only

Indonesian people, but also for

Australians, as well. And, dead

for a year, but nobody knew,

not even his neighbours. I

can't understand that people

didn't smell or notice anything

that was unusual. The tragic

story raising questions about

the way we treat the

elderly. We've lost a lot of

the community that we used to

have. CC

Welcome to the program, I'm

Heather Ewart. Indonesia's