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This program is captioned live.33 homes and counting, the fierce bushfire that has surprised locals and fire crews with its ferocity. French fighters send bombs raining down on Mali, but military chiefs say the campaign will be short lived. A call to arms over guns in Australia with a push for tougher gun control here. And Lleyton loses out as he's outclassed Australian Open tonight.

Hello. I'm Manny Tsigas. Welcome to the program. A bushfire continues to burn tonight in northern NSW after destroying at least 33 homes and leaving residents and authorities stunned by its ferocity. The fire forced the evacuation of 100 people around Coonabarabran, along with staff from the Siding Spring Observatory. The telescope was in the direct line of the blaze in the Warrumbungle National Park. Hot, large and fast moving, three elements that created a monster which has left devastation in its wake.I've never seen anything like it and I've been through fires before. The terrible toll includes dozens of homes, at least 40 sheds, farm machinery and livestock. But it is a toll that will almost certainly rise.This fire is believed to have been started by lightning, which ignited dry vegetation and turned it into one of the worst bushfires seasoned experts have seen.The speed with which it developed and moved was absolutely frightening and I had genuine fear for people's lives.It was fanned by strong westerly winds which at the worst possible time suddenly turned southerly. That created a 100 kilometre perimeter and a fire that burned across 40,000 hectares. The smoke plume extended 14 kilometres into the air, preventing aircraft flying overhead. This fire yesterday burned with such ferocity that we have not seen in this state for many years. Embers were being blown ahead of the fire and starting new fires some five kilometres ahead. It became very apparent early in the peace that there was absolutely no stopping that fire.Cameras on the telescopes at the Siding Spring Observatory showed how close it came to devastation. 18 staff managed to escape, taking these pictures as they fled. At least five buildings have been severely damaged.An initial visual assessment shows that there does not seem to be significant damage to the buildings that house the telescopes. We do not know what impact the extreme heat and the ash might have on the telescopes themselves.That, they won't know until they can carry out a full assessment in coming days. There are still 170 fires burning across NSW, 40 remain uncontained, remarkably, no lives have been lost. But there were tributes today for a Victorian firefighter, 61 year-old Peter Cramer, who died while battling a blaze in Tasmania yesterday. Mr Cramer was one of 70 Victorian emergency service workers sent to Tasmania. Go to our website for a map detailing the latest bushfire warnings and updates throughout NSW. The French government says its military campaign in the African nation of Mali will be over in a matter of weeks. Troops from six neighbouring countries are preparing to join French and Malian ground forces. The French Air Force is pounding rebel positions. For a third night French fighter bombers scramble in Chad, their target Islamist strongholds in Mali's north. Together with bombers dispatched from France they have attacked five key townships.

This is the tenth major French military operation in Africa since the 1990s. Its colonial rule ended in the 1960s, but there's still a huge footprint over Africa with more 30 French speaking nations. France has nine military bases in Africa, most of its troops have been deployed from Chad. In the coming days they'll be joined by forces from Nigeria and Niger. From the south Benin, Togo and Burkina Faso. From the west Senegal and to the north Alegeria has opened up its airspace to allow attacks by French bombers. It all makes this a vitally important mission for regional governments. Al-Qaeda backed militants had almost completely overrun northern Mali. Fearing they would soon move south, the Malian government called in French support. Other nations are equally concerned the Islamic militants don't gain a permanent foothold. Britain is proving two C- 17 military transport aircraft. There will be no combat troops on the ground at all and we have no plans to provide further assistance over and above that which has already been announced.Malian authorities say at least 100 Islamist fighters have been killed, rebel leaders claim most were civilians. These people in the capital Bamako have escaped the fighting in the north.

Elsewhere in the capital people line up to donate blood for the war effort, hopeful of the French pledge of a short campaign and a decisive victory. Meantime, it's been claimed tonight that a second French solider has died following a botched rescue operation in Somalia. French forces were sent into southern Somalia late on Friday to try to free intelligence agent Donnie Allex, held hostage since 2009. But the rescue attempt failed and two French officers didn't return. Military chiefs said 17 al- Shabab militants were killed. The rebel group says a second commando has died from gunshot wounds and it plans to show both bodies later. A gunman has fired a volley of shots at the headquarters of Greece's governing New Democracy party in Athens. One of the shots hit an office which is occasionally used by the prime minister, though it was unoccupied at the time. Nobody was hurt in the shooting. Police believe the attacker had at least one accomplice. The top US firearms lobby, the National Rifle Association, claims it has the numbers to defeat any gun control proposals. Vice- President Joe Biden is expected to present his recommendations to Barack Obama on Wednesday, Australian time. In the community, the debate continues to fuel the rush to It was a week cannot run -- weekend run on guns. Some police departments are having a hard time getting ammunition because the public are buying so much. Along with more funding for mental healthcare, Joe Biden is expected to recommend significant gun- control measures. Universal background checks, limiting how many bullets a magazine can hold. At last the waiting pence.Bill Clinton got a ban by two slim majority of Americans oppose such a ricans oppose such a ban.The likelihood is that they are not going to be able to get a ban through this Congress.If even a democratic senator says it will not happen.In the reality we have today, it will not go anywhere.Other provisions may have a chance. Why shouldn't buyers be required to have their background checked?Congress should act to close that loophole and to make more uniform the background check process across the 50 states. Rather than pass laws, is appealing to retailers.When Wal-Mart says we are now doing it, it will make others think twice. And Australia is now involved in the gun debate. A leading gun control campaigner from Sydney is currently in the US. He's there to present research that will help shape President Obama's new policy. Those findings have also led to calls for tougher gun control here. There were 3.2 million guns in Australia at the time of the Tasmanian tragedy that claimed 35 lives. Today, the University of Sydney says the number is back up there.Gradually, over the last ten years the importation has built up and up and now we've replaced the one million guns that we destroyed in Australia.Gun control expert, Philip Alpers, said only time would tell what impact the restocking would have. For now he believes the buyback scheme has saved many lives, a point he'll be making to policymakers in the US this week.

policymakers in the US this week.
They are very interested in what's been done in other countries and Australia, especially the public health approach to firearm injury prevention, just like the approach to the road toll... Tobacco. All of those can be translated to firearm prevention.Former economist and now Federal MP, Andrew Leigh, also believes a more sensible gun culture is keeping Australians safe. Figures show that Australia is on the lower end of the scale with 0.13 gun related deaths per 100,000 people. He believes we need to be concerned about illegal firearms and is lobbying for a towards national register.I suspect it is something that law abiding gun owners throughout Australia would be happy to support.Leading academic Clive Williams agrees and also thinks that ASIO should be part of the background check process.

process.I think thousands of interests, who are is security risk, have the ability to get weapons because there is a loophole. Experts say the gun buyback saves about 200 lives every year, most of those in averted gun suicides. Protests against attacks on Shia Muslims have spread across Pakistan. Thousands are still angry over last week's bombings in Quetta. Scores of people were killed in the attacks, which targeted ethnic Hazaras in the Balochistan Province. Demonstrators say they will only bury their dead if the governor and chief minister of Balochistan are sacked.
A simple ceremony has been held in Haiti to mark the third anniversary of the earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people. Haitian President, Michel Martelly, thanked countries and organisations for their help during the crisis. He also announced a government contest to find the best designed monument to honour those who died. Coming next, another anniversary is marked. One year on candles and lanterns to remember the victims of the Costa Concordia disaster.

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Police are working to prevent a race war in a multicultural community south of Brisbane after a series of violent clashes. At 50 people were involved in a brawl last night with some armed with shovels and wooden planks. Police arrested two young men after calling in back-up and the dog squad. The feud between indigenous and Tongan families flared again this morning.Nine I do not want any more violence.The recent clashes were believed to be an isolated dispute between two groups, but police fear rumours could fuel racial tension. They met with elders from both communities to prevent the violence from escalating. Commemorations have been held to remember the victims of the Costa Concordia disaster. It's been a year since the massive ocean liner with 4,000 people on board ran aground off a tiny Italian island. The ship remains a rotting wreck on Giglio Island and the blame game continues. Just as they did a year ago, crowds lined Giglio port. Not to witness a tragedy, but this time to light the night sky with its painful memory. 32 people died as the Costa Concordia sank. The massive wreck still resting where it ended up. Earlier in the day tears as names of the dead were unveiled on a plaque.

The island's Catholic Church became a safe haven for many survivors. Now a place to reflect on heroes and victims.

and victims. The ship's commander and cruise company must be punished. But it seems nothing in this sorry saga is likely to shift soon. The Opposition is demanding the Government end the secrecy over the mining tax and reveal whether any money has been raised since it began more than six months ago. There are reports the tax has failed to collect anything for the second quarter in a row. Despite the boom it appears the mining tax didn't raise any revenue in the last three months of 2012, the second successive quarter it's failed to deliver.I don't think we should get pre-occupied by a month by month or a quarter by quarter blow on their capacity to produce that kind of revenue.The tax was designed to spread the benefits of the mining boom. The Opposition believes it's damaged the industry without raising a cent. The mining tax is a complete disaster.It's a disaster of Wayne Swan's own making. With another revenue write-down likely, the Greens argue the tax should be rewritten.Block the loopholes, maximise the revenue but go further. We need to raise more revenue.The mining tax was expected to raise $2 billion this financial year. The revenue shortfall makes it that much harder for Labor to pay for the national disability insurance scheme and other reforms. We have an economy that's in the best possible shape. We are managing the fiscal challenges we're currently confronting.It says there are reasons why the tax isn't delivering.Prices are relatively high but firms are a doing a lot of investment which gives them big deductions and lower profits. The Opposition says the Treasurer must open the books.The Government still refuses to tell people how much or how little it has raised. He says Labor should cut its losses and scrap the tax. But there is some good news for Labor. A recent surge in iron ore prices could tip the scales and help Labor get closer to a budget surplus. But is the iron ore rebound enough to boost company tax revenue and deliver a surplus?It's certainly possible and the Treasurer last year didn't rule out a surplus, he just said that one was looking unlikely given what's happened to revenues.The Opposition says there's zero chance Labor will deliver a surplus. Not because of falling tax revenue but because it is spending too much money.

falling tax revenue but because it
is spending too much money. The Australian share market saw little action today rising only slightly. Resource stocks were mixed following news they'll escape paying the government's mining tax for another quarter. The Commonwealth Bank rose. The ACCC is pushing ahead with a review of the bank's move to majority ownership of Aussie Home Loans. Japan's Nikkei was closed today for a public holiday. European stock markets rose at the start of trading. The Australian dollar is just under 106 US cents as data showed job ads have fallen for a tenth straight month, while new home lending fell more than expected in November. And on the commodity markets, both gold and oil

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Lleyton Hewitt has crashed out of the Australian Open tonight, outclassed by eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic. Earlier, Casey Dellacqua lost to American young gun Madison Keys, while cult figure John Millman lost a five set thriller. The first big upset came in the men's draw as 11th seed Juan Monaco was bundled out in straight sets by Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov. And in the past hour, Hewitt joined the exodus. Contesting a record 17th Australian Open, Lleyton Hewitt had the crowd behind him as always. He threw everything he had at eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic, but the Serb had plenty to throw back. The Serb taking the first set in a tie break. The pair continued to slug it out, but whatever Hewitt did, Tipsarevic could do even better. From a break down, the Serb showed his full array of shots. Even when it seemed he was backed into a corner, he always had an answer. The second set sealed in style. Hewitt was unable to make any real inroads in the third set, Tipsarevic mixing power with precision. The Australian's dream of winning his home Grand Slam once again fading away. After three hours on court, Tipsarevic had well and truly spoiled the party.I think it's as tough as it gets to play Lleyton in the first round especially as I'm only fresh in the top ten.Revealing the key to his recent good form.I don't know why, but the moment I got married, I started producing great results, so guys, girls, you know what you need to do to play great tennis.Earlier, Sam Stosur overcame a lack of match practice and some opening day nerves to break a five-match losing streak on home soil. A nervous first set followed by a much stronger second, Stosur safely into round two. Hugh Jackman's dream run playing Jean Valjean in the musical Les Miserables has continued. The actor taking out Australia's only gong at this year's Golden Globes. But the results have flipped the script on who are now considered the front runners heading into next month's Academy Awards. The road to the Oscars is paved with Golden Globes. Now in its 70th year, the ceremony was basking in another milestone. Its first female duo acting as hosts.We honour the television shows that have entertained us all year and the films that have only been in theatres for two days. That's what makes tonight so special. Only tonight do the beautiful people of film rub shoulders with the rat-faced people of

of television.The television category bringing new faces to the mic, with Girls taking out best comedy series and star Lena Dunham winning Best Actress. In drama, Homeland was the big winner claiming Best Series and both major acting gongs for Claire Danes and Damian Lewis. Nicole Kidman was up for best actress in a telemovie, but was bested by Julianne Moore's portrayal of Sarah Palin in Game Change, which won three awards, including Best TV Movie. Kidman was disappointed on the big screen too with Anne Hathaway earning Best Supporting Actress in Les Miserables. There was little doubt surrounding her Aussie co-star Hugh Jackman securing Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy. A role he nearly gave up on during production.I really thought I'd bitten off more than I could chew. My wife talked me off that cliff like she does most days. Baby, I'm going to say it in front of the whole world, thank you for always being right. Naomi Watts was also overlooked, Jessica Chastain crowned Best Dramatic Actress for Zero Dark Thirty. Keith Urban's chance at Best Original Song was ended by none other than James Bond. British songstress Adele just happy to be out of the house.Thanks so much for letting me be part of your world for tonight. We've been pissing ourselves laughing all night.Best Foreign Picture went to Amour, an Austrian drama whose award was announced by a fellow countryman.I never thought I'd get an award in Hollywood from an Austrian.Quentin Taratino's Django Unchained earned Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Christoph Waltz. But the night's big favourite, Lincoln, could only secure Best Actor for Daniel Day Lewis. Steven Spielberg's presidential drama making way for Ben Affleck, with Argo grabbing Best Director and Best Film.I don't care what the award is, when they put your name next to the names she just read off, it's an extraordinary thing in your life. And it could get even more extraordinary, going up against eight others next month for Hollywood's most coveted prize. Staying with the arts, Australia has lost one of its greats. Brisbane actor Billie Brown has died at the age of 61. He appeared in films including Oscar and Lucinda and The Dish. But he's most famous for his stage work, appearing in more than 90 plays and musicals. Subway passengers in New York City have been on a revealing journey with their fellow travellers stripping off on the train. The prank was part of the annual No Pants Subway Ride, organised by a comedic improvisation group. New Yorker's weren't the only ones braving the cold weather, passengers dropped their pants in at least 60 other cities including London and Hong cities including London and Hong
Kong. A monsoon trough lies across the northern tropics and Tropical Cyclone Narelle is located off the West Coast. Clearing skies for the south and east under a ridge. In the major centres, fine across most of the country. However, tropical showers and storms for Darwin and Perth. The odd shower also for Brisbane. Looking further afield, a damp day for New Zealand, with a cooler change for Christchurch. Mostly sunny and warm in Noumea, but unsettled and wet in Samoa and

That's the world this Monday. I'll be back with you at the same time tomorrow. I'm Manny Tsigas. Enjoy the rest of your evening. Goodnight. Supertext captions by Red Bee Media -

(PHONE RINGS) Hey, Graeme. Starting to almost feel (LAUGHS) I just can't have
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