Australian women overtake their daughters in risky drinking

Australian women have overtaken their daughters when it comes to risky drinking, with more women in their 50s exceeding the lifetime risk guidelines for alcohol consumption than those aged 18 to 24 for the first time.
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The most comprehensive snapshot of national vice reveals that while younger people are becoming more abstemious when it comes to alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs, their parents and grandparents are taking their habits with them into older age.

The National Drug Strategy Household Survey, released on Thursday, provides cross-sectional data on Australians’ drug use every three years and is used to inform government policy.

It was based on the responses of 24,000 people in the last half of 2016.

Young people aged 12 to 24 were more likely to abstain from tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs than any time since 2001, and those that did consume them are doing so in smaller quantities.

They were also taking up these habits at a later age, with most teenagers experiencing alcohol and cigarettes for the first time at age 16 in 2016 compared with 14 in 1998.

But those aged over 40 were more likely to have used illicit drugs in the past 12 months than they were in 2013, with the proportion rising from 14 to 16 per cent, and more people in their 50s were consuming 11 or more standard drinks on a single occasion.

Eastern Suburbs Mental Health Service clinical lead in old age psychiatry, Brian Draper, said this was largely a function of the big drinking generation getting older, as it was rare for people to develop late-onset drug and alcohol habits with no precedent.

“The baby boomer generation had a much greater use of drugs and alcohol than their predecessors,” Professor Draper said.

“It’s that particular generation, and also it coincided with women getting much more into the workforce and the feminist movement having a big influence on what women could do, so there’s been huge societal changes with that particular generation.

“If you’re a woman or man, say 60 years old, and your friends are drinking and you go out and do things together it influences how you behave.”

Historically, women aged 18 to 24 were most likely to exceed the lifetime risk guidelines for alcohol by consuming an average of at least two standard drinks a day over the past 12 months, but the proportion decreased from 20 per cent in 2007 to 12.8 per cent in 2016.

Meanwhile, the proportion of women aged 50 to 59 exceeding the guidelines rose from 11.2 per cent to 13 per cent.

A similar pattern was observed among men, where those aged up to about 40 improved, while men older than 40 had not changed.

The increase in illicit drug use among people in their 40s was particularly significant among males, whose use increased from 15.6 per cent in 2013 to 20 per cent in 2016.

Curtin University National Drug Research Institute’s Professor Steve Allsop said this could reflect a spike in illegal drug use in the late 1990s, with people then aged in their 20s now getting into their 40s.

Although fewer people were drinking overall, those who did were drinking at harmful levels.

“We’ve got some reporting that suggests some good news but on the other hand we’re seeing more intense use, which is increasing harm,” Professor Allsop said.

“So you’ve got to say, ‘Well, the health message isn’t getting through there’.”

St Vincents Hospital drug and alcohol service clinical director Nadine Ezard said the findings demonstrated the need to get people into treatment earlier.

“There’s an almost 20-year delay for alcohol use disorders and we should be bringing that down,” Associate Professor Ezard said.

Hammondcare general manager residential Angela Raguz said the aged care provider’s general policy was to allow people to drink alcohol to make them feel at home, but illicit drugs would not be tolerated and had not arisen as an issue.

This could be because residents had an average age of 85 and drug users did not live that long.

“We haven’t seen cannabis yet but it may become more of an issue in coming years,” Ms Raguz said.

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How the new NBN pricing plan for retailers affects you

Internet service providers such as Telstra, Optus and TPG have been handed a discount on the price they pay for bandwidth over the National Broadband Network, but there’s one condition.
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Under the new NBN pricing plan, service providers will be rewarded with reduced wholesale charges, provided they increase the average amount of data capacity they provide to their customers.

The model, to take effect from Thursday, is in direct response to Australia’s surging data usage.

Last year the nation downloaded a record 2.5 billion gigabytes of data. NBN-connected homes are downloading 1.2 times the national fixed-line average.

Since the NBN announced the new pricing model three months ago, retailers have increased the average amount of wholesale bandwidth purchased by 11 per cent.

“The discount is absolutely for the retailers but it allows for retailers to control their costs more and provide a greater range of plans for consumers,” Sarah Palmer, NBN’s executive general manager for product and pricing, said.

“We will calculate the discount based on usage from the month before…if retailers choose to pass on their discount to consumers, they can. But regardless, the more capacity they buy, the better the experience for consumers.”

Telstra, however, said NBN had moved in the right direction in lowering wholesale prices, but that the move would not be positive for all consumers.

“The pricing structure means service providers with more low use and voice-only customers will pay a higher price to NBN for all their customers… This gives providers a disincentive to provide services to customers who only use small amounts of data or have voice-only plans,” Telstra spokesman Steve Carey said.

The pricing plan comes as the latest Akamai State of the Internet Report (Q1 2017) revealed Australia’s internet connection speed was now ranked 50th in the world, just up from 51st in the same report last quarter.

Ahead of Australia are the usual suspects in South Korea (1), Switzerland (5) and the US (10), as well as Thailand (21), Ukraine (39) and Kenya (43).

According to Akamai, Australia’s average speed is up from 10.1 Mbps last quarter to 11.1 Mbps this quarter.

Comparatively, the average connection speed in Britain is 16.9 Mbps and in the US, 18.7.

But to Australians disappointed by the result, Akamai’s Asia-Pacific spokesman Vincent Low recommended a “little patience”.

“Australians are some of the highest users of the internet…from last year to this year, even a single digit growth is relatively high,” he said.

“People are using higher quality content, live media broadcasting on different platforms. In the next few years I think it’s going to pop.”

He said Australians should not read into its ranking falling behind nations such as Kenya, which “doesn’t have nearly as many devices” or equivalent broadband penetration.

Mr Lowe added that Australia’s average mobile connection speed of 15.7 Mbps, which leads the Asia-Pacific, was a positive outcome of ongoing investment in the wireless mobile network.

An NBN spokesman said the Akamai report did not provide a full picture of Australia, because it surveyed millions of people who were not yet connected to the network.

“…There may be countries which have reported higher average speeds???[but] some countries do not have extensive broadband networks,” he said.

“The average broadband ranking recorded by Akamai will only see a significant increase if Australians choose to purchase higher speed plans from their retailers on the NBN network.”

A spokesman for the Department of Communications and the Arts said the Akamai results proved that the sooner the NBN was completed, the “better Australia will perform in global rankings”.

“Given the majority of consumers in Australia are still using legacy ADSL connections, it’s difficult to draw conclusions other than the gains being made are coming from the NBN rollout,” he said.

“The speeds measured by Akamai are also influenced by the streaming bitrate at which video and other content is being delivered to Australian homes.”

There are currently more than 2.2 million homes and businesses accessing the NBN. The roll-out is expected to be completed by 2020.

A recent Galaxy survey commissioned by comparison site iSelect found almost 40 per cent of NBN users did not know what speed tier they were currently on. However eight out of 10 connected households were satisfied with their speed.

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Scientists outline blueprint to save Great Barrier Reef

The world’s corals, including the Great Barrier Reef, can be saved but only with concerted efforts to coordinate management, recalibrate research and enact steep curbs to carbon emissions, scientists say.
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In a paper published on Thursday in the journal Nature, researchers led by Terry Hughes from James Cook University argue a narrowing window remains to preserve what’s left of the world’s reefs that have already been altered significantly over the past three decades.

The urgency is driven in part by unprecedented bleaching from marine heatwaves that have triggered the death of about 50 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef’s corals in the past two summers alone.

The impacts have come even though tropical waters have warmed by about 0.57 degrees between 1880 and 2015, well shy of the average global temperature increase of 0.88 degrees. Assuming nations fulfil their Paris climate summit pledges to keep warming to well below 2 degrees, reefs “will be able to secure a future,” Professor Hughes said.

“There’s really no time to lose and the further beyond those [Paris] targets we go, the worse it will be for reefs,” he said.

“Biodiversity is not what needs to be preserved,” Professor Hughes said. “It’s the function of the reef and its capacity to continue to be useful to people, particularly those in poor, developing countries.”

Efforts in Australia had focussed largely on local issues, such as culling coral-munching crown-of-thorns starfish and improving water quality of nearby rivers.

Such spending has to continue because “a dead coral can’t survive climate change,” Stephen Palumbi, director of Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, said.

Instead, management had to extend involvement to limit wider threats, such as from poverty limiting the opportunities of local communities, or coastal development and tourism, Professor Palumbi, one of the paper’s authors, said.

“If you were pick an ecosystem on which human wellbeing pivots, coral reefs would be up there in the top three,” he said, noting half a billion people depend on them.

Professor Palumbi, a geneticist, said scientists should redouble efforts to identify the genes of the most resilient corals to the heat and other stresses and ensure those reefs survive.

Professor Hughes, who is also director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, said scientists had tended to study the impacts of acidification and warming on corals separately. They had also typically assumed fossil fuel emissions would remain at business-at-usual levels.

Research should focus more on how those threats act in concert. Scientists should take a more optimistic view that societies won’t permit temperature increases to hit the 4-6 degrees the higher emission scenarios imply.

At that level it “would certainly be the end of coral reefs but that wouldn’t be too good for people either,” Professor Hughes said.

Expectations are increasing that the Turnbull government will announce further action to address the recent mass die-off of corals.

“The federal government remains concerned about the impacts we are seeing to the Great Barrier Reef from global coral bleaching,” Josh Frydenberg, Minister for the Environment and Energy,” said.

“In light of recent reports of additional bleaching, now – more than ever – all parties must focus on protecting this iconic environmental asset for its intrinsic beauty and its wider value to the nation,” he said, adding the Australian and Queensland governments are planning to spend more than $2 billion over the coming decade as part of the Reef 2050 Plan.

Joshua Cinner, another of the paper’s authors and also at the ARC Centre, said it made little sense to subsidise new coal mines – such as the proposed Adani Carmichael in Queensland – and hope the reef will make it.

“If they’re trying to promote the largest coal mine in the world, and then saying we’re going to invest in killing starfish to offset that, it’s inadequate,” Professor Cinner said. “There needs to be some policy coherence.”

“The majority of people oppose things like the Adani mine and an enormous number of people love the Great Barrier Reef,” he said. “As a society, we’re going to have to make a choice.”

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Flight returns to Melbourne after passenger tried to enter cockpit

A late-night Malaysia Airlines flight was turned back to Melbourne Airport shortly after take-off following a security incident involving a “disruptive” and “threatening” passenger who tried to enter the plane’s cockpit while carrying an unidentified black object, the airline and local police say.
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One fellow passenger described seeing the man behaving erratically and threatening to “blow the plane up” before he was eventually pinned to the floor and subdued by others on the plane. A Malaysian government official later told local media the man had been holding a power bank, or mobile charger, not an explosive device.

Dramatic photographs taken by other passengers on board the flight showed heavily armed security personnel boarding the plane after its return to Melbourne. The aircraft landed safely about 30 minutes after take-off and the passenger was apprehended by airport security.

Flight MH128, which left Melbourne for Kuala Lumpur at 11.11pm, was turned back “after the operating captain was alerted by a cabin crew of a passenger attempting to enter the cockpit”, the airline said in a statement.

In air traffic control audio posted online, a male voice can be heard saying: “We have a passenger trying to enter the cockpit.”

About three minutes later, the same male voice can be heard saying the passenger was “claiming to have an explosive device, tried to enter the cockpit, has been overpowered by passengers”.

“However, we’d like to land and have the device checked,” the voice says.

Victoria Police, who are investigating, said in a statement the man had allegedly threatened the safety of passengers and staff before being subdued.

Former AFL player Andrew Leoncelli was sitting in business class, several seats away from the cockpit, when the incident unfolded. He described seeing a man carrying a large black cylindrical object which looked like speaker, which appeared to have an on/off button and a charging port. iFrameResize({resizedCallback : function(messageData){}},”#pez_iframe_tipstar_409″); iFrameResize({resizedCallback : function(messageData){}},”#pez_iframe_tipstar_408″);

Mr Leoncelli said the passenger was “screaming” at a flight attendant, saying, “I need to see the captain” and walking to the front of the aircraft during take-off.

Mr Leoncelli said the passenger said: “I’ve got a bomb and I’m going to f—ing blow the plane up.”

The flight attendant yelled at the man to sit down and, when he refused, she called out for help.

Mr Leoncelli said at this point he unbuckled his seatbelt and went to confront the man who he said appeared agitated and kept repeating his threat.

“Literally he was eyeball-to-eyeball with me, saying he was going to blow the plane up.

“He looked like a lunatic,” he said.

“For some reason he lost his nerve and he ran … and he headed towards the back of the plane.

“I hadn’t done anything to him except confront him,” he said.

Mr Leoncelli then said others on the plane were able to overpower the man.

Two young Australian men who were passengers “went to work on him and got him in the shackles good and proper, they were the heroes”, Mr Leoncelli said. A picture taken by another passenger and posted to Twitter showed a man lying flat on his stomach on the floor of the plane with his hands bound behind his back with plastic handcuffs. #MH128 guy drunk. In plastic cuffs. Looks like the SWAT team was despatched to the flight @MASpic.twitter南京夜网/FL5TqTEGR3??? saroki (@saroki19) May 31, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Army buys $100m fleet of drones to protect soldiers on battlefield

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Bird-sized drones that can hover over a battlefield feeding vital intelligence will become the norm for Australian soldiers going into combat under a $100 million upgrade.

The Army will buy a fleet of the 1.3-kilogram drones, which have a wingspan of less than one metre and can fit into a backpack disassembled. They can be easily put together and flown ahead of a team of soldiers to send back colour and infrared images, looking over hilltops and other obstacles.

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne and Defence Minister Marise Payne will announce the $101 million purchase on Thursday, continuing a military trend in which machines and software play an ever greater role on the battlefield.

They will initially buy US-designed WASP AE drones, but will tailor them to Australian needs using technology provided by firms in Melbourne and Canberra.

The drones will allow soldiers to “see over the hill, around the corner and down the road”, Senator Payne said in a statement given to Fairfax Media ahead of the launch.

Mr Pyne said the WASP had been successfully used by US Marines and other militaries around the world.

The government would not say how many drones were being purchased, but taking into account maintenance and additional costs such as controllers and communications links, the funding would likely buy at least 200 WASP drones.

It is understood every Australian combat team will have one of the drones once they are rolled out starting in the second half of 2018.

The WASP can fly at a range of up to five kilometres for nearly an hour. It is more robust than the Skylark drone previously used by the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan and has a much more sensitive camera.

“They provide our military with a faster and better understanding of the battlefield than our adversaries,” Senator Payne said.

Mr Pyne said the purchase and ongoing maintenance would create 10 new jobs in Canberra and support more jobs in the supply chain. Australian firms XTEK, Sentient and Mediaware will make modifications to suit the Australian Army and do maintenance.

Defence will get a second generation of the drones – significantly upgraded – within the decade.

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