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(generated from captions) This program is captioned live. Tonight - to overwhelm rescue efforts. Katrina's legacy threatening

Iraq's grief beyond belief as 1,000 people die. State Opposition under Peter Debnam. A fresh start for the And one year on. its lost generation. Beslan remembers

Felicity Davey with ABC News. Good evening. US President George W. Bush says the worst natural disasters Hurricane Katrina is one of in the nation's history. for emergency workers to handle, The scale of the damage is too much over-stretched, with the evacuation effort to collect the bodies of the dead. they're not even bothering the city of New Orleans It now looks like will be un-inhabitable for months. in the thousands Some fear the toll could be

finally recede. when the flood waters On rooftops across New Orleans, are pleading for help. increasingly desperate people thousands more are still stranded. Thousands have been rescued, but

to go around. There aren't enough helicopters

right off the rooftop, TV REPORTER: Blew shingles the amount of power. you could just see a terrible decision, This woman was forced to make she was had to choose were rescued - which children and grandchildren those left behind are now missing. So my daughter told me, take Lexis." she said, "Mama, take my daughter, And she said, "Go, go with Missy." Dead bodies float in the water. saving the living Emergency workers are too busy to retrieve or count the corpses. around and one wonders, We seen dead bodies laying when the water finally does recede, will we find 1,000 dead people, of dead people. or will it be thousands Gas leaks are adding to the danger. no sanitation. There's no fresh water, no power, in short supply. Medicine and food are fresh supplies, Navy ships are bringing five desperate days but there will be at least before they get here. to abandon the city. Officials are ordering everyone are shocking. For Americans, scenes like this in the Third World, It's more like a refugee crisis in the richest country on earth. than something you'd see This is America? in foreign Countries, not here. You hear about this

and dangerous. People are now desperate the streets, looting and shooting. Armed gangs are roaming Hey! Scoot! Drop it!

Drop it! dispatched to keep order. Thousands of soldiers are being Finally some good news - the water has stopped rising, before it starts receding. but it will be weeks of the worst natural disasters We are dealing with one in our nation's history. This recovery will take a long time. The President cut short his holiday, returning to Washington with an emergency task force. for a meeting outside New Orleans. Mark Simpkin, ABC News, And I spoke earlier to Mark Simkin on Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. for the latest the devastation. I asked him to describe through areas Mark, you've been travelling Felicity. It's unbelievable scenes, there are million-dollar houses Just in front of me that are almost totally submerged. There are people living in boats, of people - there's this massive exodus an extraordinary urban exodus. 10, 12 people in the car - People living in cars - people huddled together people walking, and of course, just devastation.

or stripped of all their bark, Not just trees fallen down huge concrete bridges destroyed. but entire houses leveled,

of utter devastation It's just an extraordinary scene utter desperation as well. and increasingly, and troops are on their way. Mark, we hear 30,000 National Guard Presumably their task will be

the shattered infrastructure. to restore isn't it? It's a mammoth task, though, is underestimating It is, and I don't think anyone just how mammoth this task is. that really struck me I mean, one of the things driving in here today of emergency vehicles is we'd pass convoy after convoy at that convoy by itself and yet when you looked

it looked quite big, they're facing, but in the context of that task at the misery and the despair, when you look around it was almost puny. that task. And no-one here is underestimating this is going to take years. Even the President is admitting are saying And a lot of people in this area be the same again. New Orleans could never Mark, how are people coping? as the saying goes, People are keeping their chins up, but it is pretty difficult, inside New Orleans. particularly for the people

every hotel is packed out, The streets around here, crammed in cars, parking lots are full of people sleeping in their cars, the ones who are doing it toughest. but the people in New Orleans are in the refuge of last resort, The conditions the giant sports stadium in there, toilets that didn't work, were abominable - stifling heat, no air conditioning - into Houston. and those people are being bused But on the streets, it's extremely dangerous, people are telling me started looting guns. that the looters have now People are shooting each other. have been threatened with death. Journalists who have been in there how to handle this - Even the police aren't sure they've been overwhelmed. the looters steal food - the police are actually letting because they feel sorry for them - and are feeling utterly inadequate anything else they want. to stop them stealing Mark Simkin, thank you. three days of mourning Iraq's PM has declared in a stampede on a bridge after about 1,000 pilgrims died in northern Baghdad. leading to a mosque It's believed the stampede was triggered in the crowd by rumours of a suicide bomber on the shrine and it followed a mortar attack and left almost 40 wounded. which killed 7 Foreign affairs editor Peter Cave reports. Each year since the fall of Saddam the numbers have grown at the annual festival commemorating the death 12 centuries ago of the Imam Mussa, one of the founders of the Shi'ite faith. This year it's estimated that a million pilgrims were following the green-draped mock coffins, little realising that soon the coffins and the mourning would be a contemporary tragedy. SIRENS WAIL It started with a mortar attack on the surging crowds, then somebody started a rumour that there was a suicide bomber on the bridge across the Tigris. Marshals tried in vain to hold back the worshippers fleeing in panic. But the bridge railing gave way under the tide of humanity and many of those not crushed to death died

after they plunged into the river and drowned. In their grief they looked for someone to blame and as is often the case they blamed their occupiers. "The Americans closed the road here," he says. "All of this was caused by the Americans." As the toll mounted it became clear

that this was the worst day for human loss of life in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. Many of the dead were women and children. An al-Qaeda-linked group has claimed responsibility for the mortar attack saying it was carried out

to punish the genocides commited against Sunnis. Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, who announced a 3-day period of mourning, said evil people had used mortar rounds to pour their anger upon our innocents, but he said such misfortunes and challenges will only boost the people's strength. With three days for the anger to mount, security forces will be on full alert to try to prevent the tragedy sparking further violence between Shi'ites and Sunnis. Peter Cave, ABC News. Just two months after it again rejected calls for a full-time police riot squad, the State Government has changed its mind.

The new 45-member team will be ready for action in any part of NSW before the end of the year. Rebecca Barrett reports. This is the man charged with heading up the new full-time public order and riot squad. If there is public order to be restored in the streets, I will restore it and I will restore it quickly. The Police Commissioner says the hand-picked and specially trained team will be responsible for dealing with the psychology of the mob. of good law enforcement, Patience and tolerance are hallmarks patience and tolerance must stop strict law enforcement. Last year's riots in Redfern and this year's disturbances in Macquarie Fields prompted calls for a dedicated riot squad. They were rejected by both the State Government and the police. But today there was a change of heart. Look I think sometimes you've just got to reconsider positions you take. For the Police Association it's been a long time coming. For probably the better part of two decades, we've had a gap in our capability in terms of responding properly to riots

and serious public order incidents. No longer, says the Police Minister. Carl Scully believe the kind of policing, which secured this week's Forbes CEO conference is the way of the future. I think it's better if you've got too many resources.

I think it's better if you've wasted some effort. And I think we've probably scared off a fair few people. He insists today's announcement

has nothing to do with this month's Macquarie Fields by-election. The Opposition believes it's no coincidence. Rebecca Barrett, ABC News. Peter Debnam has vowed New State Opposition Leader

to get the Liberal Party back to work

after a week of instability and drama. The member for Vaucluse is the Liberal's fourth leader in six years, and has the tricky task of not only challenging the Iemma Government, but keeping his party room united. CAMERA SHUTTERS CLICK With no-one else contesting the leadership, Peter Debnam could afford a smile. I want to thank my colleagues for their support this morning in electing me Liberal leader unanimously. John Brogden's personal and political fall weighed heavily on Mr Debnam as he took up the reins. We're certainly looking forward to John making a full recovery as soon as possible and welcoming him back. Mr Brogden has been offered a frontbench position, but it's not known whether he'll accept. He's still recovering in a Sydney clinic from Tuesday night's apparent suicide attempt. And while the Premier continued to offer John Brogden sympathy...

I wish him a speedy, full recovery. ..he tried to capitalise on Barry O'Farrell's decision to pull out of the leadership race when he appeared to narrowly have the numbers. The people of NSW can make their judgment on a deeply divided party representing extremist views or one getting on with the job of governing New South Wales. Peter Debnam wouldn't answer questions about the increasing influence of the party's right wing, or if sitting MPs were threatened with their pre-selection if they didn't vote for him. Look, I know you're obsessed with disecting party politics. The community aren't. Any other questions? Peter Debnam's first task is to switch the political focus to the Government's weaknesses, and the new Sydney train timetable offers an early opportunity.

That comes in on Sunday, and may signal a return to politics as normal in NSW. Simon Santow, ABC News, Sydney. The Federal Opposition Leader says the election of Peter Debnam marks the rising influence of the Liberal party's right wing in NSW. Mr Beazley says the PM needs to reign in dangerous extremists in his own state branch. The Liberal Party in NSW is being stacked out by 'jihadists' - that's what their nickname is in the NSW operation. Time to give it some focus. In the Liberal Party is made up of overwhelmingly of people of very sensible middle-of-the-road disposion. Some are a little left of centre, some are right of centre - none are extremists. The country's top doctors are insisting

the Federal Government change the official recommendations about pregnant women and alcohol consumption.

Their call comes in the wake of a survey which finds that many Australian women aren't heeding the message to stop drinking during pregnancy. Seth Russell is the human face of a condition

which to many still remains hidden. He was born with foetal alcohol syndrome. I was always a bit slower in learning things than other people were. His mother didn't realise that the two-three drinks she was consuming each day was doing her unborn child so much damage. I took vitamins, I stopped smoking, but never...never even thought

that alcohol could cause harm to my baby. A survey released today by the Salvation Army finds one in four Australian women still drink while pregnant. From the statistics,

it doesn't sound like the message is getting through because 37% of women still are saying that they don't see any need to stop drinking through pregnancy. The reality is that babies born with foetal alcohol syndrome suffer a range of physical, psychological,

and developmental problems, which continue into adulthood. The safest message to women who are planning to become pregnant is to avoid alcohol if they want to avoid harm to their baby. Currently women in Australia are advised to cut down on drinking if they're pregnant and have no more than two drinks a day. But the Australian Medical Association says that simply doesn't go far enough.

They want warning labels on alcoholic drinks, like these bottles of wine from the United States.

The AMA is insisting alcohol guidelines also come in to line with other parts of the world, recommending women abstain from drinking during their entire pregnancy. Sophie Scott, ABC News. To finance now - and Sydney house prices fell sharply in the June quarter, offsetting continuing rises elsewhere around the country. With the details, here's Alan Kohler. We're seeing a clear changing of the guard in the Australian economy. In recent years, it has been entirely supported by households and consumers.

But now businesses are coming to the fore. In the June quarter, business investment jumped by 7.3%, a figure that astounded the analysts, mostly it was due to nearly 13% more investment in equipment. And a survey of investment expectations shows

there's more to come - $56.6 billion for the full financial year, up 15.5%. Against that, house prices across Australia eased slightly in the quarter, but that was all about Sydney, where real estate prices fell more than 3% according to the ABS. Prices in Perth went completely the other way - up 3.8%. Other cities saw values go up by less than 1.5%.

Here's a graph of prices in the main east-coast cities

and it's clear that since 2000, Melbourne prices peaked first. Sydney prices didn't rise as much, but have fallen more. the most and have come to an almost dead stop. The other economic news today was the performance of the manufacturing index, which has fallen sharply to its lowest level for four years. A drop in the oil price by nearly 2% in New York, but a bit less in Singapore, has buoyed sharemarkets around the world.

In New York the main index rose 1%. The All Ordinaries in Australia did the same, led by BHP Billiton and the banks and a huge rise by Coles Myer because of talk of a South African bid for Myer. And speaking of takeovers, the second biggest brewer, Lion Nathan, has launched a $325 million bid for the third biggest, Coopers, of which it already owns 20%. Asian shares went up strongly today, while the Australian dollar soared back above 75 US cents. And that's finance.

After years of sustained criticism of the military commission process the US has changed the way Australian terror suspect David Hicks will be tried. The process will now involve a judge and jury model but the pentagon is denying it's bowed to international pressure. Washington correspondent Michael Rowland reports.

Facing accusations that Guantanamo Bay military trials are being rigged to ensure convictions, the Pentagon is making what it says are a number of improvements. We learned lessons when we started these and these changes are a result of the lessons and the lessons learned. The Pentagon says the military trials will now operate more like a judge and jury model, although the cases will still be heard by military panel. There will be tighter restrictions on the use of military prosecutors of classified information and David Hicks, along with other defendants, will have more opportunities to actually attend the hearings. I don't consider it an admission that the system was flawed. I've maintained consistently that we would try to make those improvements that were necessary to the process as we moved along. David Hicks's military lawyer insists the changes are purely cosmetic and won't do anything to ensure a fair trial. Well, I think we all know the commissions weren't the perfect structure and everyone knows that. This is a last-ditched effort on the Pentagon to try to manipulate the system

to try to convince somebody that it's a fair process. Even though the commission ground rules have changed, The US are admitting to the problem Even though the commission ground rules have changed, the Pentagon doesn't see the need to re-start the David Hicks trial and the US military is hoping to resume hearings as quickly as possible, pending the outcome of civil court action by the terror suspect's lawyers. It's 12 months since the horrors of Beslan school in Russia shocked the world. 331 people were killed, more than half of them children, in a shootout between Russian special forces and gunmen who'd seized the school. ABC correspondent Emma Griffiths, who reported the original siege, is once again in Beslan, as the community relives that terrible day, one year ago. This is the school gymnasium where the hostages were held.

Ever since, it's been a place of pilgrimage. No-one can forget what happened here a year ago. On the first day of school, parents, teachers and students were seized by militants from a Chechen separatist group. The siege ended in a battle with Russian forces. Most of the victims are buried in Beslan's new cemetery. Row upon row of victims attended by the bereaved, still sick with grief.

15-year-old Ina died on the third day of the siege. She left behind her parents and her twin sister, Inga. (Speaks Russian) "My sister was the sort of person who was always willing to help," she says. Now Inga is about to start her final year at high school without her twin and best friend. "I have to study for two now," she says. "For her and for me. "I have to live for two." For some, the grief has turned to anger. Beslan's new political force is a group of mothers who accuse the authorities of inaction and incompetence. (Speaks Russian) TRANSLATION: We turned out to be cannon fodder for the authorities. They treated our children like small change in their political ambitions. There are three separate official inquiries into the events of a year ago, but few here believe they will reveal the truth about the siege and many fear that nothing has been done to stop it from happening again. But amid the anger and pain, life goes on. Little Summer Bechenoz is the first baby born to fill a gap left by the tragedy. The brother he will never know died in the siege. (Speaks Russian) TRANSLATION: When we lost our child I didn't want to live. I lost interest in life and then we decided to give birth to a child in his memory. He is some small hope that the town can move on. Emma Griffiths, ABC News, Beslan. The man charged over the death of David Hookes testified at his manslaughter trial today. Zdravko Micevic told the jury he was scared when he struck out blindly and landed the punch which led to the former cricketers' death.

The former bouncer denied he'd targeted Hookes or that the cricket coach had got under his skin. After evidence from more than 30 witnesses, 23-year-old Zdravko Micevic was finally called on to recount his version of what happened on the night David Hookes was punched outside a St Kilda Hotel

in January last year. Micevic said

it was a Sunday night like any other he'd worked on the door of the Beaconsfield Hotel. He said his friends to finish their drinks at 11:20pm he told Hookes and as the pub was closing. to skull her drink and get out. He denied telling one of the women in a side street He told the court a brawl erupted and the cricketers. between the bouncers that he was scared Micevic told Justice Philip Cummins had landed. and didn't know where the punch that he was an accomplished boxer Micevic admitted to the jury as a 16-year-old who'd won a junior title on a number of other occasions. and had been runner-up

said The prosecution's Ray Elston SC to lay a hand on a patron the bouncers had no authority once they'd left the hotel. He told the court the proper course of action would have been to diffuse the situation and call the police. He said Hookes had got under the bouncer's skin. The trial continues next week.

Caroline Keenan, ABC News, Melbourne. Lleyton Hewitt has had an easy first round win at the US Open but once again he's been left to carry Australia's hopes. a set Mark Philippoussis failed to take from Slovakia's Karol Kucera, in the first and third sets, losing to American Laura Granville. against Spain's Albert Costa. Hewitt dropped only four games Here's Rob Cross. Lleyton Hewitt was anxious to fall in the opening round. not to be the second big name of last year's runner-up But there was no danger on the sidelines. joining Andy Roddick was the gusty conditions, His only obstacle which Hewitt coped with far better Albert Costa. than former French Open champion Tough conditions out there. It's not pretty tennis, a way to get through but you've just got to find and back in the locker room.

Mark Philippoussis failed to capitalise on his wild card entry into the main draw. Karol Kucera missed the first half of the year to injury but was still too sharp for the Australian. Nicole Pratt at least put herself in a winning position only to bow out after a 3-hour struggle. COMMENTATOR: Well, Laura Granville, that surely must be match-winning point. Colombian Catalina Castano Serena Williams breezed past in straight sets.

she finishes in style. Oh, she's in ominous form, US$100 for every ace she serves Williams has pledged to donate for the rest of the year of Hurricane Katrina. to relief efforts in the wake about the hurricane - I was just thinking in New Orleans and Mississippi - the hurricane that happened such a tragedy down there. and it has been to have a comfortable win The Socceroos are expected

over the Solomon Islands qualifiers in Sydney on Saturday. in the first leg of the World Cup But the Australian team won't be holding back as it tries to impress coach Gus Hiddink in his first game at the helm. We play his way and if you don't like it, basically you're out. (Laughs) While the game is a mere stepping stone on the path to a South American opponent for the Socceroos, it's a career highlight for the Solomon Islanders. Every single person in the Solomon Islands now is thinking and talking about this game.

for the game to kick off. Every day, they can't wait Makybe Diva Connections of champion mare will get the chance are yet to decide if the horse to win a third Melbourne Cup. The 7-year-old will carry 58kg, American stallion Kitten's Joy. just 1kg off the top weight, to either tempt or torment. Well it's not my role It's just my job to assess her form.

is a weight that she can with. As I've said, I believe that 58 is the Cox Plate. Makybe Diva's main aim this spring at home in Perth The Sydney Swans are feeling right

qualifying final as they prepare for tomorrow night's against West Coast. But if the Swans lose, they could face a scheduling problem at their home finals venue, the Olympic Stadium. Sydney's decision to head west early in the week was as much about preparation as it was relaxation. After an early morning weights and recovery session the Swans players were given the rest of the day off. It's been good to get over a little bit early and have a good session last night at Subiaco. So, we're feeling pretty at home in enemy territory. even though we are tomorrow night against West Coast Should the Swans lose its home venue for its semifinal. Sydney could be forced to change also being used With the Olympic Stadium Rugby League finals, for the National Sydney might end up at the SCG. so the boys, no problems. It's in Sydney, no matter what - its opposition concerned - Sydney has home ground advantage the Eagles might have and form. but the Swans have momentum I rate Sydney very highly. I mean, as a backman I think they're the most disciplined forward line in the country.

They're a very honest side. Very even across the board. Their forward line is sharp.

Barry Hall is the key to their side. Hall will carry the extra responsibility of Swans captain for the finals campaign. Shaun Giles, ABC News. A brother and sister separated 58 years ago in postwar Europe have been reunited in Sydney with the help of the Red Cross. In 1947, Stefan Kurbel fled a labour camp in soviet-controlled Hungary, in Australia. arriving to a new life He thought his family had perished. Alice Kurbel says that she would find her brother. she never gave up hope To the weather now - and Mike Bailey, than a sniff of spring some would say there was more in the air today. A sniff of wattle too, Felicity. Good evening. Yes, it's officially Wattle Day, but the debate continues

the beginning of spring. over whether 1 September is really

The new month has begun in the rainfall stakes - where the last one ended mostly dry. Overall water levels in Sydney's dams are at 40.6% of capacity, down 0.3 this week. Warragamba's holding 37%, a fall of just 0.1. Temperatures today were back down to around average for the coastal range of 10 to 20 degrees. Around the State:

Interstate: The satellite picture: The rainfall projections:

The forecast: Thanks, Mike. And that's ABC News for this Thursday night. I'm Felicity Davey. I'll be back with news updates during the evening and 'Lateline' is on at around 10:25pm. For now, goodnight. Captions by Captioning and Subtitling International.