Month: December 2018

  • Bat-like dinosaur with membrane wings discovered in China

    The first bat-like dinosaur has been uncovered in China. Photo: Zang Hailong/IVPP The first bat-like dinosaur has been uncovered in China. Photo: Zang Hailong/IVPP
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    The first bat-like dinosaur has been uncovered in China. Photo: Zang Hailong/IVPP

    The first bat-like dinosaur has been uncovered in China. Photo: Zang Hailong/IVPP

    You don’t need feathers to fly: just look at bats and planes . . . and now, dinosaurs.

    Chinese scientists have discovered a new variety of dinosaur that had wings made of a skin membrane rather than feathers.

    The creature was only slightly larger than a pigeon, and while palaeontologists don’t know for certain it could fly, its bizarre wing formation raises questions about how flight may have evolved.

    The creature, named Yi qi, which means “strange wing” in Mandarin, was unearthed in rocks from the Jurassic period, about 160 million years ago, in north-east China.

    Lead researcher Xing Xu, from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, said the name seemed appropriate given no other bird or dinosaur had a wing of the same kind.

    “We don’t know if Yi qi was flapping, or gliding, or both, but it definitely evolved a wing that is unique in the context of the transition from dinosaurs to birds,” Professor Xu.

    While Yi qi belonged to a group of dinosaurs that were closely related to primitive birds, there was no evidence they could fly themselves until the group published their findings in the journal Nature this week.

    As well as finding evidence Yi qi had membrane wings, it also possessed a long, slender bone, or cartilage, on each wrist, which researchers inferred was used to support the wing, like in bats and flying squirrels.

    Since the 1990s, scientists had been discovering dinosaurs with feathers or feather-like structures, mostly in China, said American palaeontologist Kevin Padian, who was not involved in the research.

    “They cemented the hypothesis of the dinosaurian origin of birds and provided spectacular evidence about the origin of flight and the primordial functions of feathers,” Professor Padian wrote in a commentary piece for Nature.

    While the dinosaur did have feathers, their narrow and thread-like structure was not suitable for flight.

    If Yi qi did fly – and there’s not enough evidence to confirm it did – it suggests the origin of flight in dinosaurs didn’t rely exclusively on feathers.

    Flinders University palaeontologist John Long, who was not part of the research, said: “The amazing thing about Yi qi, the totally bizarre new flying squirrel-like dinosaur with bat-like wings and feathers, is that it shows how much evolutionary experimentation went on in dinosaurs before they settled on the right formula for flight, and then evolved into birds.”  

  • #TattooGate: Apple Watch malfunctions on some tattooed arms

    The photo of the malfunctioning Apple Watch posted by a Redditor. Photo: Reddit / guinne55fan The Apple Watch emits a green light when measuring the wearer’s heart rate.
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    Qantas suffers Apple Watch failApple can’t keep up with demand for new watchApple Watch “essentially impossible” to repairWearables: full coverage

    Reports are surfacing from some Apple Watch early adopters that the new device is not working properly when worn on wrists with heavily tattooed skin.

    One such account emerged on the social news website Reddit where one anonymous user posted two photos and a detailed explanation of their experience with wearing an Apple Watch on their tattooed wrist.

    The user said that the watch did not receive notifications for incoming text messages and emails when worn over their tattoo.

    “I was about to give up and call Apple tomorrow when I decided to try holding it against my hand (my left arm is sleeved [with a tattoo] and where I wear my watch is tattooed as well) and it worked,” the Redditor wrote.

    “My hand isn’t tattooed and the Watch stayed unlocked. Once I put it back on the area that is tattooed with black ink the watch would automatically lock again.”

    The Apple watch is designed to shut down when left idle for a few seconds and, unless it is worn against the skin, can only be woken up if you type in a pass code.​

    The Redditor​ said they had reported the issue to Apple and that, after speaking with a customer representative, “it seems like I’m not the only one”.

    Since that post, other tattooed users have emerged on Twitter with similar complaints. Many have been using the hashtag #TattooGate, a reference to earlier Apple-related product malfunctions, notably #AntennaGate with the iPhone 4 and #BendGate with the iPhone 6 Plus.

    Apple Watch #tattoogatehttp://t/ExXUrjFvyA— Wylsacom (@wylsacom) April 28, 2015

    Not all tattoos causes the watch to malfunction, however. A Redditor with lighter coloured tats has given the watch the all clear while the issues are not being reported by wears with naturally darker skin.

    Speculation is that the problem lies with the sensors at the back of the watch that is used to detect skin contact and activate the watch, as well as to measure blood flow so that it can give a reading on the wearer’s pulse.

    The sensors are designed to pulse light onto the skin in order for readings to be taken. But in the case of very dark tattoo ink, it would absorb the light much better than any natural skin tones, meaning the watch could be duped into thinking it was not being worn.

    That, at least, is the theory.

    Fairfax Media

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  • Panthers may be demolished for seniors’ high-rise

    Panthers may be demolished for seniors’ high-riseTHE Panthers Newcastle club site in King Street could become an ‘‘over-55s living’’ complex under its new owners, The Wests Group.
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    Wests chief executive Philip Gardner formally announced the club’s intention to buy the property on Wednesday.

    The announcement followed a March 20 report in the Newcastle Herald, when Panthers chief Warren Wilson confirmed a ‘‘handshake agreement’’ to sell the Newcastle property.

    Mr Gardner said Wests had paid about $19million for the Newcastle site, which covered more than 14,000square metres on the corner of King Street and Union Street, Newcastle.

    Stressing that long-term plans were yet to be finalised, Mr Gardner said people should be aware that ‘‘somewhere in this process it could lead to demolition’’ of the existing club building.

    ‘‘The over-55s living is a natural part of the evolution of The Wests Group,’’ Mr Gardner said.

    ‘‘We can go to at least 15 storeys in Newcastle, and while there will always be a club somewhere on the site, it could involve demolition and rebuilding.’’

    Mr Gardner said Wests saw great value in the potential re-use of the Newcastle site.

    ‘‘The inner-city location provides an excellent expansion opportunity for the WestsGroup, and reflects our confidence in the city.’’

    He said the club was looking at over-55s accommodation in line with a state government ‘‘SEPP’’ (or State Environmental Planning Policy) for seniors’ housing.

    Mr Gardner said Wests members would vote on the Newcastle purchase at an extraordinary general meeting on Sunday, May 31, at Wests New Lambton headquarters.

    He expected that vote, and a corresponding vote of Panthers members to sell the Newcastle club, would go ahead without any problems.

    Mr Gardner said Panthers put its two Hunter clubs – Cardiff and Newcastle – up for sale in 2013, and Wests put in expressions of interest for both.

    Panthers eventually accepted a Wests offer of about $11million for Cardiff, but it rejected the club’s offer for Newcastle and ‘‘went seeking interest from other parties’’, Mr Gardiner said.

    ‘‘Then they came back to us, we went up a bit on what we were offering, they came down a bit on what they wanted, and we eventually reached a compromise.’’

    Mr Gardner said the sale was a ‘‘walk in, walk out’’ deal that gave Wests ownership of the land, the club and its assets, which included 160 poker machine licences that ‘‘stay with the venue’’.

    He said the land had recently been valued at $18.2million so Wests were happy with the price they paid.

    The sale guaranteed entitlements for all of the Newcastle club staff and redundancies were being offered to those with more than 10years service.

    Historically, the Newcastle club out-traded its Cardiff counterpart, but Mr Gardner said it appeared that Newcastle was earning about $1million a year before income tax and depreciation, while the comparable figure for Cardiff, under Wests’ management, was about $2.5million.

    Mr Gardner said a memorandum of understanding governing the sale was available on the Wests website or from its New Lambton headquarters.

  • The Block 2015: Who are Australia’s biggest TV game show winners?

    The Block’s Darren and Deanne’s place sold for $835,000 above reserve and they also took home $100,000 in prize money. Photo: Martin PhilbeyBetween them the four couples on The Block Triple Threattook home $3,165,000 from the sale of their South Yarra properties.
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    It is an amount that Nine claims is the biggest sum of money given away on a single episode of TV anywhere in the world, ever.

    It’s quite a claim, and one that ABC Fact Check will surely make it top priority to dissect in the coming days.

    But how do Melbourne’s Darren and Deanne Jolly rank in the pantheon of Australian game show winners?

    1) $2,000,000 – Simon and Jules, The HotHouse, 2004

    This show involved 14 couples renovating a Queensland island dream home, getting eliminated one by one until only two people remained. Their prizes included the titular house, two cars and a boat. A second season did not eventuate. YouTube seemingly bears no record of the show’s existence.

    2) $1,016,000 – Andrew Skarbek, Million Dollar Minute, 2015 

    Andrew Skarbek became the biggest single game show winner in Australian history after correctly answering the question “”The Burke and Wills expedition left Melbourne in which year?” He credited his lifelong habit of reading The Age (among other things) as the key to his wide range of general knowledge.

    3) $1,000,000 – Rob Fulton, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, 2005  

    Fulton became the first person to win the million, more than six years after the Eddie McGuire-hosted show debuted in Australia.

    For his final question, Fulton was asked which popular ’60s TV show premiered first: Bewitched, Get Smart, Hogan’s Heroes or I Dream of Jeannie.

    4) Martin Flood, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, 2005

    Little more than one month later, the show crowned a second instant millionaire. Flood spent four years studying to boost his general knowledge and developed his own program to help with the dreaded ‘fastest finger first’ elimination round.

    5) $1,000,000 – Trevor Butler, Big Brother, 2004

    Trevor Butler had to spend 86 days in the Big Brother house to win the $1 million prize, which seems like adequate compensation.

    Big Brother was not as generous with the prize money in later seasons, deducting considerable amounts from the $1 million when housemates misbehaved.

    6) $935,000 – Darren and Deanne, The Block, 2015

    Darren and Deanne’s place sold for $835,000 above reserve and on top of that they also took home $100,000 in prize money.

    Their South Yarra apartment sold for $2.29 million at auction.

    7) $932,577 – Yolanda Stopar, Temptation, 2006

    Yolanda was the revived version of Sale of the Century’s first grand champion and in one episode won by a margin of $100 over her evidently slow-reflexed and slow-reflexed opponents.

    8) $857,655 – Tracey Korsten, Temptation, 2006

    9) $836,000 – Greg Mathew, Big Brother, 2005

    He could have taken home one million, but more than $150,000 was docked from the $1 million because of fines accrued by him and his misbehaving fellow housemates. He fared better than 2006’s Big Brother winner, who found more than half the prize money had been frittered away by the time he returned to civilisation. Mind you that was the year the infamous Turkey Slap incident happened, which presumably was rather costly.

    10) $736,000 – Steve O’Donnell and Chantelle Ford, The Block (Season Eight), 2014

    These two did okay, but they’re no Darren and Deanne.

    11) $701,241 – Rob O’Neill, Temptation, 2005

    12) $672,357 – Stephen Hall – Temptation, 2005 

    13) $664,667 – Joanne Segeviano, The Price is Right, 2005

    She didn’t win this amount in cash, but Joanne’s mega showcase – which included a Sunshine Coast apartment, a speedboat and an Alfa Romeo – was worth over $600,000. “Australian television history is made, for ever and ever,” host Larry Emdur said at the time.

    14) $663,738 – Brigid O’Connor, Temptation, 2005 

    15) $638,068 – Sunil Badami, Temptation, 2007

    16) $603,002 – Blair Martin, Temptation, 2007 

    17) $569,747 – Laurie Dennis, The Price is Right, 2004

    The second mega showcase win. As well as the obligatory apartment and Alfa Romeo, Laurie also won a gold pen and some bikinis in the showcase. “Another piece of TV history,” host Larry Emdur said at the time.

    18) $568,316 – Marisa Tamboro, The Price is Right, 2004

    The first of The Price is Right’s mega showcases to be given away, one week before Laurie’s win. “You have been part of Australian television history,” host Larry Emdur said at the time.

    19) $535,000 – Dougal Richardson, Million Dollar Minute, 2014 

    20) $510,500 – Jonathan Maher, Million Dollar Minute, 2014

    But nobody in Australia has come close to reaching the $4.5 million scooped up by American Jeopardy ace Brad Rutter, who remains the world’s biggest game show money winner.

    And as for the smallest prize ever:

    1. 50 cents, several unfortunate contestants such as this guy, Deal or no Deal

    Sometimes the briefcases contained $200,000. Other times they didn’t.

    But of course, there are some TV game show prizes that transcend crude, materialistic dollar values and lead to much more long-term happiness. So when it comes to the best ever prize there can only really be one.

    1.  A Game Boy and the chance to run through the maze – lots of 90s kids, A*mazing, 1996ish

    There was also something about winning stuff for your school but nobody cared about that. Pity the poor kids who only got that Yoho Diabolo thingy as the consolation prize (those were the ones who clearly didn’t watch the show because they didn’t check behind the cactus).

  • The Jinx: a twisting, turning and disturbing tale

    Accused murderer Robert Durst in New York’s Times Square in The Jinx.At first glance, the story of accused murderer Robert Durst reads like it has spilled from the pages of a crime bestseller. The more you delve into it, however, the more disturbing it becomes. Durst’s first wife, Kathie, vanished in 1982 with no explanation. His friend Susan Berman was murdered in her home in California in 2000. And his neighbour Morris Black was found dismembered in Galveston Bay, Texas, in 2001.
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    In 2010, American filmmaker Andrew Jarecki thought the twisted tale fascinating enough to spin a piece of fiction out of it, the film All Good Things, about a property heir who was a suspect in the mysterious disappearance of his first wife and the death of two other people.

    But a year later the man on whom the film was based – New York property heir Robert Durst – contacted him, first, rather disturbingly, to compliment him on the film, and second to offer himself as a subject for a documentary. To tell, he said, his side of the story.

    “I was always interested in Bob Durst, because I’m kind of interested in monster stories,” Jarecki says. “Whenever I hear someone say, this person is crazy, they’re capable of anything, I think, well, there was probably a different person there, at some point.”

    The two men agreed to meet, though Jarecki notes there were rules of engagement. “I was never afraid of him,” he says. “I was careful with him.” To his mind, Durst simply wanted to put something on the record. “He didn’t say, ‘I want you to exonerate me’. He said, ‘I want there to be something out there from me’.” More than 20 hours of interviews followed, filmed in 2010 and 2011, and cut at first into a two-hour documentary for HBO, and finally, when the original edit simply could not be contained, a six-part documentary series, The Jinx, which created headlines around the world when it aired in the US this year.

    “It was just bursting at the seams,” Jarecki says. “So we’d show a little piece of his wife, and people would say, wait, there’s a wife? And they’d say, ‘no, we’re not going on, I want to know who this person is. I need to know what’s motivating her. What’s going on? Is she important?'”

    The weekly format, Jarecki adds, also allowed the audience to undertake the journey on their own terms. “

  • Ageing population need not be a drain: thinktank

    Australia’s demographic time-bomb in which an ever-growing proportion of older people rely on welfare in later life, is not inevitable and need not be the threat to prosperity widely predicted, according to a new study released on Thursday.
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    The progressive policy think tank Per Capita has proposed a series of image-changing initiatives aimed at adding a fourth P of policy to the three Ps normally discussed in economy and budget deliberations about the future: population, participation, and productivity.

    The body says declining taxation revenue as a result of population ageing is a constant feature of Australia’s economic debates which “feeds into the narrative presenting ageing as a threat and a burden on our society”.

    Its report “Spaces for All Ages” aims to redress an ageist bias in discussion by focusing on policy development towards improved “economic participation by older Australians”.

    Among its proposals are “a network of local jobs hubs” to place older Australians in jobs in their local community, to be called the SilverStart Employment Network.

    “This is based on a model of jobs hubs rolled out in Japan over the last thirty years which has been successful in lifting mature-age labour force participation, with over 800,000 members across 1600 centres,”  Per Capita research fellow,  Emily Millane, said.

    Also suggested is a public art prize focusing on ageing and participation, and an additional class in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards specifically for ‘older adult fiction’ as a counter-balance to the existing category of  young adult fiction.

    The move to make the economy and society more grey-friendly would even extend to urban planning and aesthetics with an emphasis on “regenerating green spaces to create urban environments conducive to social participation by older Australians”.

    “Green spaces like parks and gardens are identified in the World Health Organisation’s Age-Friendly Cities as one of eight elements of an age-friendly city,” Ms Millane said.

    The report aims to kickstart a more sophisticated policy debate about longer more productive and engaged lives which are better for individuals, communities, and the broader economy.

    It comes as the government prepares to unveil its second budget after proposing last year that pensions be indexed at a lower rate from 2017 prompting a widespread backlash from voters.

    Follow us on Twitter  Australian Politics – Fairfax

  • Matt Le Nevez talks about life after Offspring

    In demand: Matt Le Nevez is keeping busy in the wake of Offspring.
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    In demand: Matt Le Nevez is keeping busy in the wake of Offspring.

    In demand: Matt Le Nevez is keeping busy in the wake of Offspring.

    So how has life been post Offspring?

    I think I will always miss Offspring. It was such a pivotal show in my life, such an eclectic and amazing group of people to work with – I don’t know if I’ll ever experience that “lightning in a bottle” again, not only in the making of the series, but even the screening was quite extraordinary – but since my role ended I’ve been quite busy.


    Well, I’m living in Los Angeles but I came back to Australia and shot [the drama] Parer’s War, then did a bit more Offspring [for Nina’s dreams of Patrick] , then I shot Love Child about a year ago and went on to Tasmania for [upcoming Foxtel BBC Worldwide drama] The Kettering Incident, then on to Canada to shoot a couple of episodes of  [Christina Ricci’s drama project] The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, I just finished shooting a pilot in Chicago … so yeah I’ve been quite busy.

    That’s an understatement!

    Yeah and I’m almost ready to come back to Australia to shoot more Love Child. It’s been a crazy year or two but really exciting. Now I just can’t wait for Love Child to come out because this was quite a different show to what I’d done before, so quite challenging.

    Your character in Love Child is very different to Dr Patrick, was that important to you?

    It was, it was. I was always nervous about coming in to play somebody else’s boyfriend or love interest and when I spoke with [the producers] they had very similar views about where they wanted my character to go and how much energy they wanted him to have – which was good because as I said, Offspring was special. To follow up with something that was not as good or a bit weak [meant]  I was very wary of my next project. Clearly Parer’s War was something very different and this is too. The [Love Child] producers had some very clear ideas about what they wanted to introduce into the show to shake it up. They wanted to bring in someone who would have a different energy from not only the actors on board but also the time in which the series is set. They were looking at some of the pivotal people in Australia at the time and some of the things that were going on in the late ’60s to early ’70s and wanted a character who would represent that, in particular the Green Bans that were happening and move the story in that direction. There were young pivotal people who stood up (to protect) parks and buildings and my character is loosely based around that idea. It was a great opportunity and to be involved in a show like Love Child where the scripts are beautiful and telling an epic dramatic journey. And to work with those actors who create that energy. I’m very lucky.

    After this we’ll see you in The Kettering Incident, which is different again.

    This is a series that hasn’t been done in Australia before. Something very much influenced by the scandi-noir dramas like The Killing or The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo films that resonated around the world, but done in an Australian way. I think what has been created is unique in the Australian landscape and I can’t wait for it to come out. The scripts are incredible, the landscape of Tasmania where we shot is a character stronger than any written on the page, it’s just… this is a beautiful, brave piece of television, an amazing project and I’m very grateful to be a part of it.

    And you mentioned a new pilot?

    Yeah I just shot a pilot in Chicago for a new series called Runner, a mystery, drama action story about a family that gets pulled into gun-running across the Mexcian/American border. Like every Australian actor that comes to the US to throw their hat in the ring you hope to get a gig out of an audition, then when you do you hope for it to be a good one, then when it is you hope for the pilot to get picked up… and I hope we get the chance to move to Chicago to continue filming in August!

    Love Child, Nine, Tuesday, 8.40pm

  • ‘Chill’ Virgili left out in cold by home club restructure

    JAMES Virgili thought he had done enough to earn an extra year at the Jets.
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    Before breaking his ankle when changing direction in a training game on January 27, the 22-year-old had strung together four consecutive starting appearances, beginning with a starring effort in the 2-1 round-11 win over Adelaide.

    The injury ended a promising 2015 season for the home-grown winger, who had been in and out of the Jets line-up since becoming the then-youngest A-League player at 16 years and 180 days in January 2009.

    On Tuesday afternoon, Virgili was devastated to find out it was not enough.

    The 57-game Jet joined Taylor Regan, Sam Gallagher and trainee goalkeeper John Solari as players not offered new deals at Newcastle.

    Virgili said he ‘‘was definitely hopeful’’ the club would extend his stay given his form before the season-ending injury.

    ‘‘I had a nice little run there of four starts and I thought I was playing pretty good during that period, then unfortunately my injury came,’’ Virgili said.

    ‘‘When it came I was hopeful, even though I didn’t get to play much this year, that the times I did play this season, I’d done enough to earn an extra year.’’

    The Herald was told a frustrated Virgili fronted Jets coach Phil Stubbinsthree times in the second half of the season to ask for clarity on his future, given he could do no more on the field to push his claims.

    The Herald understands he was given no indication before Tuesday that there was nothing on the table for him.

    ‘‘The last few months I have been trying to find out where my future was, but the meetings weren’t handled too well,’’ Virgili said. ‘‘But there’s not much I could do about that. I’ve just got to look forward now and hopefully move on to good things.’’

    The former Australian under-17 and under-20 representative hopes to complete his radiography degree at the University of Newcastle next year but said he was ‘‘still hungry’’ to further his A-League career.

    Asian club champions Western Sydney Wanderers are believed to be one of the ‘‘few clubs’’ Virgili said had shown early interest in him.

    ‘‘There hasn’t been any offers as yet,’’ Virgili said.

    ‘‘I’m hopeful out of the places who have shown a bit of interest that something will eventuate. Who knows, sometimes a change can be the best thing for you.’’

    The South Wallsend junior was ‘‘obviously pretty disappointed’’ when finally told he was not in the Jets’ plans.

    ‘‘It was always my dream to play for the Jets, and I’m grateful for that opportunity and always will be.

    ‘‘It’s obviously tough. You can’t really beat playing for your home town and being at home with your family and friends watching. It definitely makes it extra disappointing.’’

    Virgili is yet to score an A-League goal but has started in just 22 of his 57 appearances for Newcastle.

    He said he obviously would have liked to score goals for the Jets but added that he was otherwise ‘‘quite happy with how I’ve performed during my time at the club’’.

    He believed he had more to offer at A-League level if given regular game time.

    ‘‘It definitely plays on your mind a bit when you’re in and out of the team for so long,’’ he said. ‘‘But the times I was in the squad for a more than a few weeks, I thought at those times was when I played my best football and I was most consistent.’’

  • Scientists call for action on disease risks from climate change

    Increased risks: Mosquitoes are expected to bring tropical diseases south. Photo: SuppliedA range of tropical diseases will become more widespread in Australia due to climate change, including a dramatic increase in mosquito-borne illnesses, scientists warn. Their research has prompted leading doctors to call for a co-ordinated response from the federal and state governments to the pending crisis.
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    In a paper released on Thursday, the Australian Academy of Science said diseases currently confined to the tropics would be unlocked and travel south. The incubation period for mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue would also be shortened.

    Rising temperatures and changes to water availability were also likely to increase the prevalence of food and water-borne diseases. The scientists forecast an increased risk of respiratory diseases as more people spend time indoors to avoid extreme heat, and population density increases due to population growth.

    “A clear problem facing Australia as it prepares to deal with the problem of the rise in infectious illnesses triggered by climate change is its lack of a single centre through which information about communicable diseases can be co-ordinated and disseminated,” the paper said.

    “Such a disease centre should be considered critical for forecasting and managing future disease risks.”

    The authors said such a centre would speed up detection and disease response efforts, generate tools to predict disease risk, and evaluate the capacity of the health system to cope with the expected increased disease burden.

    Extreme heat would place a significant strain on an already stressed healthcare system, the authors predicted, noting that in the Victorian heatwave of 2009, there were an estimated 374 excess deaths due to heat, more than twice as many as were caused by bushfires. A 2013 federal government report predicted heatwave-related deaths in Australian cities would more than double in the next 40 years.

    Warning that the most vulnerable members of the community, such as the elderly and the poor, would be hardest hit, the authors called for research to identify populations at greatest risk from extreme weather events.

    They predicted ocean acidification would damage livelihoods in fishing as well as in tourism, and threats to the food supply along with forced migration from land rendered uninhabitable by climate change would trigger tension and unrest.

    “Conflict will be inevitable,” the authors warned.

    Australian Medical Association president Brian Owler said the report should be a catalyst for the Abbott government to show leadership on reducing greenhouse gas emissions ahead of the UN climate change conference in Paris later this year.

    Associate Professor Owler backed the report’s recommendation to establish a National Centre of Disease Control.

    “Doctors and other health workers need to be informed by sound up-to-date data. For example, we need to know when a disease that is traditionally found in tropical regions has moved south,” he said.

    “This will allow health authorities to plan and allocate health personnel and services to deal with changing patterns of disease.”

  • Jennifer Lopez launches bizarre #BeTheGirl weight loss competition

    Jennifer Lopez has launched a weight loss competition, which encourages women to lose weight in order to win an audience with … Jennifer Lopez.
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    The #BeTheGirl​ weight loss challenge is being sponsored by Lopez’s supplements company, BodyLab, and will run over 10 weeks

    According to the challenge’s promotional material, as obtained by Refinery 29, participants “will commit to a 10-week program with Jennifer Lopez as their inspiration and motivator along with a team of experts”.

    At the end of the challenge, the five “most successful” participants will win “a stay at one of Jennifer’s favourite hotels, a luxurious spa treatment, and the chance to meet J.Lo herself”.

    (It’s unclear how probable this “chance” of an audience with Lopez, 45, is.)

    According to the challenge’s promotional material, the “most successful” participants will be determined using a criteria that focuses equally on their physical and mental transformation.

    The program promises to provide healthy and easy-to-make recipes, personalised fitness plans and expert nutritional advice, all of which is delivered through the #BeTheGirl​ free app.

    While the app is free, the challenge is definitely not.

    To sign up, participants are required to purchase one of BodyLab’s​ weekly supplement programs, the cheapest of which retails for $US49 ($61) a week.

    “I challenge you to crack the cocoon and find the butterfly; to love yourself more than anything on the menu,” Lopez says in the challenge’s promotional video.

    Lopez’s association with the challenge seems a bit odd, given the American Idol judge has often spoken publicly about the need for women to love their bodies as they are.

    “When I first started on television [as a Fly Girl on In Living Color], people, and even my own manager at the time, would tell me I had to make all of these changes,” she told Cosmopolitan for Latinas in October 2013.

    “But you have to stand up and say, ‘There’s nothing wrong with me or my shape or who I am, you’re the one with the problem!’ And when you can really believe that, all of a sudden other people start believing too.”