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This Program is Captioned Live.Tonight - firefighters injured and homes destroyed as the bushfire season arrives early in Sydney's west. Syria's defiant President told he can avoid a missile chemical
strike if he hands over his chemical weapons. Four Indian men found guilty of the fatal gang rape of a student in New Delhi last year. And later on 'The Business', signs of a recovery in China as the world's second biggest economy gathers steam. Live across Australia, you're watching ABC News 24. Hello, I'm Juanita Phillips.The fire crisis across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains has eased with authorities downgrading the threat level. At the height of the emergency, property was lost, firefighters injured and residents evacuated as fires swept through parts of Sydney's west and the lower Blue Mountains. Authorities have confirmed at least one home has been destroyed at Marsden Park. Another has been lost at Winmalee in the Blue Mountains. Seven firefighters have been injured with five two sustaining minor burns.Emergency warnings have been downgraded to watch and act for the fires at Winmalee and act for and at Castlereagh. Watch and act alerts are also in place for a grass fire at Marsden Park in the Blacktown area and for a fire at Park in the Blacktown for a fire at Richmond. Let's go live to Lucy McNally at Winmalee. We can blame today's hot windy weather for the early start to the bushfire season? That is right. This is certainly the last thing that firefighters wanted before the start of the season. Today we have seen flames leap across highways from national parks and scrub into areas of suburbia. Out here in Sydney's west or on the western outskirts and that has happened in places like the Blue Mountains, at Castlereagh near Penrith, in Hawkesbury and many other parts of the State. High winds and hot temperatures. It was the perfect storm firefighters had feared.Residents in Winmalee had little warning of what was about to hit them.Came through really quick. One minute it was green and next minute it was all gone.Andrew Hardie lost his house in the '94 fires. This time he has been lucky.Lost a couple much soils
sheds, tractor, some gear, soils and wood shed. I have to cut again next year.It has been hard.Even firefighters were caught by surprise.A fire truck was unable to get out in time.Several firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation.There is some damage to the back of the truck, a bit of damage to some of the panelling and so forth but overall not in too bad a shape.At Marsden Park, a frantic dash for water.I pulled up and this bloke is trying to keep his house from going up on his own and about 20,000 people drove straight past him.The house is empty.Emergency services went from house to house, telling people to leave.Residents didn't need to be told twice. In Penrith, children from two primary schools were evacuated. Nerves had been on edge from early this morning and with good reason.We have seen temperatures in the early 30s but it is the strong wind causing firefighters some issues .By lunchtime the mercury had reached 31 degrees. In Castlereagh, the battle was on to save 50 homes.Hoping to get through, get in there and get paperwork, try and get photos, just the pets are already out. So is my mum and daughter. They are in Richmond. They are stuck at that end of town and we are up hoping to get soon.Ever you lived in the area a long time? Yes, about 20 years. Last year we went through the floods and lost a bit of property and now the fires. We just hope it is not as bad.We have volunteer as bad.We have volunteer and paid firefighters out there working hard. I commend them for their efforts.This was the price firefighters feared we would have to pay for the warmest winter on record. Little rain to speak of since the middle of June. Some rain is expected in the coming days. This could be just a taste of what is to come, with a tough fire season predicted. And Lucy, we are being told by authorities that the emergency is easing. We are also hearing reports of a wind change. What is the situation where you are right now? There are still a lot of residents gath yeerd here at the road block in Winmalee in the Blue Mountains who can't get down the road to where their houses are to check on their properties and pets, collect vital documents. Although we are hearing that the threat is easing, it is moving down the road a bit. A couple of hours ago we were taken into this blocked off part, we saw flames from tree to tree in the national parks. We saw blackened scrub and the smog was heavy. We have talked to a lot of residents who are keen to get inside their homes but at the same time they are remaining positive and they are very grateful to the 150 firefighters who have been battling this blaze here at Winmalee.Lucy McNally reporting there.Let's go to Nick Grimm at the Rural Fire Service headquarters.The situation has improved as Lucy was just reporting, the threat has eased tonight as cooler temperatures have come through. Joining me now is Rob Rogers. He is the Deputy Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service. A big breath of relief I guess has been breathed tonight here at A big breath of relief I guess
has at the Rural Fire Service because things could have been a lot worse but for a lot of people out there in Sydney's west it was probably bad enough today? Certainly. The conditions today were pretty horrendous and obviously we don't want to see this going on all summer. I think the fact that we had such good dedication from crews from RFS and fire rescue protecting those peoples' homes is a credit to the firefighters. Now the conditions have eased and obviously now the work starts of trying to get containment on all the fires now. The ones in Western Sydney will probably be a little easier but the ones in the Blue Mountains, around Winmalee, Yellow Rock, that will be a real problem fire. As well as the 40 fires around the State that are still burning. The work is by no means over.What is tomorrow likely to bring us? Tomorrow is going to be cooler and milder temperatures but certainly no rain. There is a potential for rain on Thursday night but they are talking about potential and only 5 ml, so very little. No meaningful rain on the horizon and we need some meaningful rain. You ever a lot of NSW that haven't had rain for seven weeks.No rain for seven weeks, no rain on the horizon. The situation is going to keep getting worse before it gets better? It will. Without meaningful rain, you will see, as the temperature starts to increase as we go into spring proper and more towards summer, you will get more consistent hot dryer days and then we will see strong winds and obviously then we will have fires again and we will see a repeat. It is really a wake-up call for people to make sure they have a bushfire survival plan. They do the basic housekeeping around the home, cleaning out the gutters and removing com bustables and having a fire plan and knowing what they are going to do is the most important thing to make sure they stay alive.How pleased were you with the response today of members of the public to their job. Some to this emergency? People their job. Some people want to
leave the their job. Some want
leave the area. Other people want to stay their job. Some people want to leave want to stay and fight. Unless it is a dire situation, we like to let people make their own choices but sometimes there is situations where we situations where we do say people need to leave. Today was one of those ones where we put it to people to make their own choices and in some cases, indeed certainly for Winmalee and Yellow Rock it was too late to leave so we told people it stay in their home and prepare to defend your home.At one stage in the afternoon there was confusion about the instructions being given to members of the public. The advice went out not to head to the Penrith Whitewater Stadium after people were told to evacuate to that area even though it was in the path of danger? That is why we have official warnings that come from the fire service, they are the ones that give the warnings to
to say this is what we need you to do, we are aware as best we can of where the fires are and the last thing we want to do is send people into harm's way. That is why the decision to relocate people and evacuate them has to be very carefully considered.Rob Rogers, Deputy Fire Service
Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service thanks for talking to us.The situation there, you have heard, much improved
tonight with a cooler change coming through but firefighters will have to remain on their guard as the weather continues to be hot and dry into the future.Nick Grimm with the latest on the bushfire situation.To other news - Labor's bruising loss in Saturday's election has pack a punch for one of its elders. The incoming Government has stripped former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks of his Consul-General's job in New York weeks before he was due to start. Here is Mark Simpkin in Canberra.The Coalition always said it would immediately axe the tax. It has moved #1yu69 as quickly to axe Bracks.Labor gave the post to Steve Bracks in May after Julia Gillard named her election date. The former Labor Premier officially started last month, quitting his Australian job and getting briefings from foreign affairs officials. He still hadn't moved to New York. That is why the Coalition terminated his commission so quickly.I won't get into that. I was available, I was appointed democratically by a Government through executive counsel and the new government has a different view.I think it is a petty and vindictive act on the part of the incoming Government as its first official decision to remove Steve Bracks from the position of Consul-General.Caucus meets on Friday to fill an even more important position, the Labor leadership. There is still not a declared candidate. Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese are weighing their options and doing their numbers but the process is complicated by the new leadership rules. Labor's rank and file will also get a significant say and Labor sources believe Albo, as he is known, will command enough of those votes to win, assuming he stands and you can't assume that just yet. As for the last Labor leader, some senior demanding Kevin
depig yurs in the party are demanding Kevin Rudd quit politics altogether. The ABC's been told that is very unlikely.Mr Rudd doesn't want to cause a by-election Labor would almost certainly lose.Tony Abbott's chief of staff has escaped punishment for drink driving. Peta Credlin says she made a mistake when she chose to drive home in Canberra following the Budget are supply speech in may. She pleaded guilty to a low level letter of drink driving charge. In a letter of support incoming Attorney-General Senator George
Brandis told letter of support Brandis told the court that Credlin is highly respected Credlin is highly respected in politics and of exemplary character.I haven't made any excuses, I have fronted the court like everybody else. I did the wrong thing. I made a mistake and I ask for the matter to be dealt with in the usual way which it has been done today. Now that the matter's resolved, you will understand I have no further comment to make.Magistrate Maria Doogan recorded no conviction and didn't suspend Credlin's licence but did fine her $69 in court costs. Her lawyer told the court the intense media coverage of the case was probably punishment enough.The US President Barack Obama has opened the door to a possible breakthrough in the Syrian crisis. Syria's main Bashar
ally Russia has urged President Bashar al-Assad to hand over his chemical weapons to be destroyed. If it succeeds, it may avert not only a military strike but a political disaster for Barack Obama as well. Ben Knight has the latest. Outside the White House, Syrian/American protesters urged one of their Presidents not to attack the other one.Bashar, a person who loves
families, he loves one.Bashar, a families, he loves children.I am worried families, am worried about my family and my people back home, am worried about my family everybody.The march to a military crisis in Syria seemed unstoppable, even as Barack Obama faced a humiliating defeat in Congress. But suddenly a Russian plan to avoid a US strike by having Syria hand over its chemical weapons for destruction, has the ear of the President.This represents a potentially positive development and my preference consistently has been a diplomatic resolution to this problem.It has been a remarkable turn of events that began in London with a throw away answer to a question about how Bashar al-Assad might avoid a US military strike.Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week. Turn it over. All of it.Within hours, Russia's Foreign Minister had jumped on the idea. Then, Syria's Foreign Minister said is
he welcomed the suggestion. It is likely many Americans will too, even those who weren't marching.80% of Americans believe that the Syrian regime was behind a chemical attack on Syrian civilians but less than 40% believe the United States should conduct a military strike.The Senate has now put its vote on hold. Barack Obama is not ruling outgoing ahead with military action if the Russian proposal fails. He is not worried about Bashar al-Assad's warnings of retaliation.Syria doesn't significant capabilities to retaliate against us. Iran does, but Iran is not going to risk a war with the United States over this.Back from the brink, for now. Throughout the Middle East there is a glimmer of hope yet a good deal of doubt that Syria could possibly giver up its chemical correspondent
weapons. Middle East correspondent Matt Brown is in Beirut.The Middle East will be as divided over this proposal as it is over Syria itself. The likes of Saudi Arabia and Turkey while welcoming the idea of getting rid of Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons, deep down just want him gone.And they know an American strike would help that along. Neighbours like Iraq and Lebanon will be pleased that the prospect of a stries escalating into a full-blown war may be averted. Israel would be pleased about that too but it will be deeply sceptical and concerned about the lesson this holds for more powerful enemies like Iran.The US-based group Human Rights Watch is the latest to say that the evidence does point to the Syrian military's use of chemical weapons last month.Is Bashar al-Assad now really going to be punished for that? In the middle of a civil war will it really be possible to come up with a system to be sure that he has given up all his weapons and that they're destroyed? And given he faces a more powerful enemy in Israel and that he built these weapons in defiance of international norms and in secret is he going to agree to a system that is enforceable? Where others are allowed to step in if he is deemed to be holding out.In New Delhi four men could face the death penalty after being found guilty of the last year. The rape and murder of a student outrage last year. outrage around the world widespread outrage around the world and
widespread protests India. Here's Michael Edwards. As India. Here's Michael As you can see from this scrum of As you can see from scrum of journalists, there is scrum of intense media interest in this
case.

was a fast-tracked court that has been set up especially for this case, the four men have been found guilty of rape and murder of the 23-year-old woman known here in inside Yass ANerbia last December. The facts are brutal. The woman and her male friend were taken aboard the bus where they were set upon by five men and one teenager. The four adults are liable for the death penalty and we will know in the next couple of days whether they will receive this. This case prompted the Indian Government to bring in a whole range of new laws stiffening the penalties for sexual sult. The outrage about the case has burnt strongly since when the initial assault took place. There ever been protests and riots across the country with people fed up with the poor treatment of women and demanding that police and the Government do something about the situation. Six police officers could face charges over the assault of an Aboriginal man on the NSW north coast. The police corruption watchdog has recommended they are pros accused after the ABC aired video of the bashing. It has been a two-year legal battle and this is a big win for Corey Barker, the 24-year-old who is an indigenous man from the north coast was arrested in 2011 for throwing a plastic bottle at the police. Officers claimed he punched a policeman back at Ballina police station. They charged him with assaulting police and maintained their story for more than a year before the courts. There was video footage of the incident from CCTV, now that was damaged. But when it was finally repaired it appeared to show it was the other way around. A court found that police had thrown Corey Barker into a wall, into the floor then punched and kicked him repeatedly then punched and repeatedly before dragging him head first to a cell where he was left for more than an hour and a half with his injuries. The police integrity commission launched an inquiry. It has handed its report to State Parliament today, finding that six of the eight officers involved should be charged with fabricating false evidence or perverting the course of justice. It has also recommended charges, including perjury and assault. Four of them are on restricted duties. One of them has been suspended from the force and another one has left the force. It is not over for them and it is not over for Corey Barker and his family. I have spoken to them tonight and they are overjoyed. They have described this as a David and Goliath battle and they say the little man is winning.An Australian soldier blinded by a road side bomb blast in Iraq hopes his trek from Sydney to Canberra will help raise awareness about support for returned servicemen and women. Private Liam Haven lost 98% of his sight when he was hit by shrapnel in blast.My dad has this joke about what happened to me. He says that I didn't duck. It is just humbling for people to walk up to me and call me a hero for copping shrapnel in the face.He will be accompanied by his guide dog and a team from the support network Soldier On for the 350km journey. Time for sport with Amy Hetzel. A guilty verdict handed down by the judiciary tonight? That is right. Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will miss this weekend's semifinal against Manly after being found guilty of dangerous contact at the judiciary. After holding sway over Manly twice already this season, the Roosters are aiming to keep the Sea Eagles at bay without one of their enforcers. At Brookvale Sunday, Manly gave up a 16-point lead, falling meekly to the opinion thers. It was a last round loss which guaranteed the Sea Eagles would meet the Roosters on Saturday in the finals - Panthers. It is an outcome it is understood Manly preferred to a Friday night Olympic Stadium clash with Souths.I am sure if that is true. We would have had to play a quality team anyway. It is Manly and we need to prepare well and I am sure we will do that.We love playing Manly, it should be a physical game. The boys are pumped to play them.Manly has been to the finals in nine successive seasons and is keen to front up to the Sonny Bill Williams-inspired minor premiers.The body is good, mind is good. A couple of weeks off was freshening for me and I am hungry and ready.Watmough's knee has been a cause for concern in recent will be given every chance to
prove concern in recent weeks. He will be given every chance prove his fitness.Won't any decisions there. We are fortunate to finish in the top four and we don't four and we don't want to risk any players this game.The Rabbitohs will be desperate to lift. They were flat during their show down with the Roosters, something they can't repeat hosting the storm Storm.It was lacking all over the field. We didn't have many runs from the outside backs and our defence wasn't up to the standards that we set ourselves. We have to look to improve that.A couple of halves are playing well and Reynolds has a good kicking game and out the back, we all know what they can do. They have a giant forward pack. They are strong across the board.The Tigers have released veteran dual international Lote Tuqiri, the 33-year-old Fijian-born winger is off to Ireland to play rugby union. As the AFL trade and draft frenzies loom, Collingwood has made major changes to its playing roster. In the wake of Port Adelaide and coach Nathan Buckley's comments that the club needs to move on from the 2010 club needs to move on from 2010 premiership era, the Magpies have delisted two players.For the second straight day in lieu of any end of season celebrations, Collingwood players reported to club headquarters for another meeting with the Magpies mood
football department.While the mood was no doubt far from jubilant yesterday, for six players it got considerably worse this morning with the club announcing some major delistings including 2010 premiership duo Alan Didak and Darren Jolly. Andrew Krakouer and Jordan Russell were also on the hit list.It comes on the back of Nathan Buckley's comments that his club needed to move on.If we have any person or anyone or have any thoughts at all that we need to cling onto what we have had, this is the last blow that lets that go.For Sydney it say possible in that continues to draw a lot of attention, with star Adam Goodes training at the SCG today and his team-mates appear hopeful.Definitely it will get the boys up. He has been out for a long time. It get him back, it will give us a lift and get the energy back. He is a super player, dual premiership player and Brownlow Medallist. To get him back is a massive result.Geelong's Corey Enright has lost his bid to have a striking charge dismissed, the tribunal has banned him from playing in this weekend's semifinal against Port Adelaide, it is a moot point, his knee injury would have prevented him from playing anyway. Rafael Nadal has won the US Open men's singles fietel for just the second time. He claimed the first and third sets before breaking Djokovic twice in the fourth to win the title. The victory gives second seed Nadal, also this year's French Open champion, his 13 del grand slam title and first at Flushing Meadows since 2010.My team knows how much this means, the against
match today for me. Playing against Novak it is a special feeling. Probably nobody brings my game to that limit like he does. Congratulations for you - you're an amazing player.The World Anti-Doping Agency has announced the introduction of a steroid passport for athletes as the latest weapon against Olympic
drug cheats. The International Argentina this week to discuss Olympic Committee is meeting in several topics Argentina this week to several topics including
doping. WADA is several topics doping. WADA is also set to doping. double the ban for drug cheats from two double the ban from two to four years for
first

ensure the credibility of the ensure the IOC and our IOC and our sport's competition that IOC and our sport's that means zero tolerance that means zero tolerance with regard to regard and corruption.German Olympic
chief and former fencing champion Thomas Bach is one champion Thomas Bach is one of the favourites to replace Jacques Rogge as IOC President. John Coates will be elected Vice President after his only rival from Syria rith drew.More big announcements yet to come from Buenos Aires. Seekers singing Judith Durham says she has fully recovered from a recent health scare and is preparing to return to the stage. The group was forced to suspend its jubilee tour in May when Durham suffered a cerebral haemorrhage. They are reviving the tour and are renaming it the stress free holiday tour.The fans, bless them, instead of asking for their money back which they should have, none of them did, they have all been in good faith that the tour was going to happen at some point.Her voice is better than it was on the tour. Maybe the rest did you a lot of good.Their first show will be in Perth in early November. A group of disadvantaged musicians is preparing to take their struggles to the stage. Hobart's choir of high hopes is spreading its sounds with a State-wide tour set to touch hearts and change minds. They once felt voiceless but these musicians no longer struggle to be heard.Some have battled homelessness, mental illness and disability but solidarity in song.The best thing is that the choir is all incloous. The door is always open and it doesn't matter who comes in regardless of your race, colour or creed.They are sharing their stories through a musical production called Journeys, written by the members themselves.It is great to hear what people have to say and to have people open up about what they have struggled with.Those struggles are presented in songs, poems and suitcases decorated with stories of the baggage they bear.I had a very big nervous break down or I developed what is called schizoaffective disorder which is a combination of schizophrenia and depression.Things got worse for me because of all the name calling and being told I would never amount to anything until it got to the point where I wanted to end it all.Both women overcame their struggles with support and song. They now hope to inspire others to do the same.We are one voice and if I touch one person out there in the audience with my story or with anybody else's story, that is a good thing.Reaching out as they begin a new journey. That is the news for now. will be back with the headlines shortly, then it is time for 'The Business'. Captions by CSI Australia

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Live.The top stories from ABC News -The fires burning across western Sydney in the Blue Mountains have eased with fire authorities downgrading the threat level. A wch and act alert level has been issued for fires burning in the areas around Winmalee, Hawkesbury Londonderry and Marsden Park.At the height of the emergency, a home at Marsden Park near Blacktown was destroyed by fire as was a house on Hawkesbury Road at Winmalee in the Blue Mountains. The Rural Fire Service says the cause of the fires is unknown but it will be investigated. Around 800 firefighters and water bombing helicopters have been fighting the blazes today. Several firefighters suffered minor injuries and smoke inhalation. Authorities are asking motorists to avoid the affected areas.The former Victorian Labor Premier Steve Bracks says he can't see any