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  1. Australia's western coast is being battered by a huge storm, with strong winds buffeting the main city of Perth. Torrential rains and waves of up to eight metres (26ft) are forecast in some areas. The severe weather is the result of the remnants of tropical cyclone Mangga interacting with a cold front, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. A senior official in the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) said it would be a "once-in-a-decade" storm. Read more:
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    REUTERS/ EDWIN VAN BRUGGEN
  2. Sam Ballard was left in a state of paralysis after he swallowed a garden slug for a dare. He died, aged 28, from rat lungworm in Australia.
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  3. (CNN)How many cups of coffee does it take to get you going in the morning? If the answer is many, the invention of a turbo-powered superbrew that is so strong it comes with a health warning might put your habit into perspective. A cafe in Adelaide, Australia, is serving the "Asskicker," a concoction of four espresso shots, two different strengths of cold drip and milk that its inventor says contains 80 times the amount of caffeine of a standard shot. The drink, designed to be sipped slowly over three to four hours, promises to keep coffee lovers buzzing for up to 18 hours. While a normal espresso, as defined by the US Department of Agriculture, packs around 63 milligrams of caffeine, this drink has 5 grams, according to its creator. The US Food and Drug Administration and USDA note that 400 milligrams is the limit not generally associated with dangerous, negative effects. Viscous Coffee, Adelaide Turbo coffee Steve Benington, owner of Viscous Coffee, developed the drink for a local emergency room nurse who needed something to keep her going during unexpected night shifts. "We had to tone it down a bit because it kept her up for a total of three days," said Benington, adding that the nurse sipped it over two days. The barista, who opened his cafe a year and a half ago after a career in the Australian Navy, said the turbo coffee has become very popular in recent weeks. However, he actively discourages customers interested only in a gimmick, and advertises it with a warning for those with high blood pressure or heart conditions. "I have a quite detailed talk with people before they actually purchase one. If I can talk someone out of it, they're not ready for the drink," said Benington. Warning signs of coffee overdose include shakes and sweats, dilated pupils, stammering over your words, vertigo and nausea. "If you keep going, those symptoms will get worse," said the coffee-loving business owner. "If you stay within the guidelines, you're fine." The Asskicker experience will set you back around $12 ($16 AUD) for a 16 ounce cup.
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  4. Australia’s parliament has legislated for marriage equality, passing a bill almost unanimously to allow two people, regardless of sex, to marry. On Thursday the House of Representatives passed a cross-party bill after an unprecedented national postal survey gave unstoppable momentum to legislate the historic social reform. Australia, which changed the law in 2004 to say that marriage is only between a man and a woman, now becomes the 25th country to recognise same-sex marriage. Read more:
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  5. Australian transmission operator Transgrid has announced that it will install a 250 kilowatt, 500 kilowatt hour Powerpack installation in New South Wales to better manageme fluctuating energy demand and prevent blackouts. Transgrid operates the high voltage electricity transmission backbone for NSW and the ACT which connects the generators, distributors and large scale consumers of power. It is looking to energy storage as a means to smooth power spikes caused by renewables like solar which at the grid level, creates a spike in generation at midday that does not always correspond to usage. Unlike fossil fuel fired generation which can be throttled up or down as needed, solar systems generate electricity when the sun is shining and when it is gone, it’s gone. Tesla won a contract with Transgrid to provide its Powerpacks to several sites last year of which this is the first. Transgrid is using the installation to explore the potential of grid scale batteries on its network before adding more. In March, Tesla CEO Elon Musk threw down the gauntlet with an Australian billionaire on Twitter, guaranteeing that Tesla could restore stability to Australia’s regional grids with several hundred megawatts of Powerpacks in just 100 days or Tesla would install the system for free. This pilot installation could be the crack in the floodgates, as Australia’s unstable grid and high electricity prices prove to be fertile ground for grid scale batteries. Source: AFR (paywall)
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  7. Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Source: @CARoyalComm/Twitter More than one in five members of the Christian Brothers order were alleged child sexual abuse perpetrators and 7% of Australian Catholic priests have allegedly perpetrated abuse since 1950, the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse has been told. The commission reopened in Sydney today for its 50th case study, looking into the policies and procedures of Catholic church authorities. Six archbishops from across Australia have been called to give evidence in the coming weeks. It’s the 16th time the four-year-long inquiry has looked into the Catholic church and the first time figures have been released on abuse levels. Senior counsel assisting, Gail Furness SC, outlined shocking levels of child sexual abuse in her opening address, saying 4,444 people were allegedly abused between 1980 and 2015 in around 1000 different institutions. “Of priests from the 75 Catholic Church authorities with priest members surveyed, who ministered in Australia between 1950 and 2010, 7.9% of diocesan priests were alleged perpetrators and 5.7% of religious priests were alleged perpetrators,” Furness said. “Overall, 7% of priests were alleged perpetrators.” The average age of the victims was just 10.5 for girls and 11.6 for boys. On average, it took around 33 years from the incident before claims of abuse emerged. The widespread levels of abuse outlined by Furness over the last four decades include the Marist Brothers, which like the Christian Brothers, runs schools, and 20% of the order were perpetrators. The figure climbed to a staggering 40.4% in the St John of God Brothers order. Among the abusers, nearly 1,900 have been identified, but another 500 are still unknown. Among the perpetrators, 32% were religious brothers, 30% were priests, and 29% were lay people, with religious sisters at 5%. Data suggested 21.5% of priests from the Benedictine Community of New Norcia were alleged perpetrators. There were regional hotspots of abuse, most notably in Sale and Sandhurst in Victoria, with around 15% of priests allegedly responsible, followed by Port Pirie in South Australia, and Lismore and Wollongong in NSW. Nearly four in every 10 private sessions (37%) held with abuse survivors involved the Catholic church. Furness said accounts of abuse survivors “were depressingly similar”. “Children were ignored or worse, punished. Allegations were not investigated. Priests and religious (members) were moved,” she said. “The parishes or communities to which they were moved knew nothing of their past. Documents were not kept or they were destroyed. Secrecy prevailed as did cover ups. “Priests and religious (members) were not properly dealt with and outcomes were often not representative of their crimes. Many children suffered and continue as adults to suffer from their experiences in some Catholic institutions.” The abuse claims were made to 93 Catholic Church authorities and the Holy See blocked attempts by the royal commission to find out what action was taken by the church against priests suspected of abuse. Furness said Rome refused to release any documents on the issue, telling the commission in 2014 that it was “neither possible nor appropriate to provide the information requested”. The commission also sought documents on a named Australian priest but “was told that ‘to avoid compromising the integrity of the canonical proceeding’ it was not possible to provide all of the documents requested”. Today Furness revealed a number of senior Catholic officials who initially accepted invitations to appear before the commission have pulled out in recent weeks. Among them was the US head of child protection in the church, Deacon Bernard Nojadera, who subsequently refused to even provide a signed statement. The royal commission will spend the next three weeks on this final look at the Catholic church and its responses to abuse allegations before turning its attention to a range of other religious groups later this year, including the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Uniting and Anglican churches and Yeshivah Melbourne and Yeshiva Bondi.
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  8. “Breakfast congee” with maple granola, blueberries,and poached strawberries. Photo: Melissa Hom Australians have contributed many things to the New York coffee shop, flat whites and avocado toast among them. And as of next week, the Good Sort brings something new to the category: sweet and savory congees, the rice porridge commonly consumed in China for breakfast. This makes sense, since the shop is co-owned by Australian expat Eddy Buckingham and his Chinese-born partner Jeff Lam, and is adjacent to their restaurant, Chinese Tuxedo. There’s a turmeric-and-coconut congee with Champagne-poached cranberries; a mushroom congee with braised shiitake and jicama, served with the Chinese cruller called youtiao; and even “Aunt Kate’s pear crumble congee.” There are also Chinese teas, espresso drinks, and come spring, fresh juices, all categorized by color. Another innovation: Everything is vegan, including the pastries and the “milks” (oat, coconut, almond) in the lattes. Clockwise from top left: Aunt Kate’s pear crumble congee with poached pears. Turmeric-and-coconut congee with Champagne-poached cranberries. “Breakfast congee.” Not a congee: pandan tapioca with kaffir-and-palm-sugar caramel, lychee, pineapple, and puffed rice. Photo: Melissa Hom Color-coded vegan lattes, made with non-dairy “milks” and no coffee: Red (beet), Black (sesame and activated charcoal), and Gold (turmeric). Photo: Melissa Hom Algae-enhanced Blue latte. Photo: Melissa Hom The Green Latte, with matcha. Photo: Melissa Hom Prior to becoming a Sino-Australian vegan coffee shop, the space was a Chinatown liquor store. The espresso machine is Italian; the Vittoria coffee beans come from Australia. Photo: Melissa Hom The shop is next to Chinese Tuxedo on Chinatown’s most atmospheric block. Photo: Melissa Hom The name refers to Aussie slang for “a person you like and would like to spend more time around,” according to co-owner Eddy Buckingham. Photo: Melissa Hom
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  9. Warning: You can't unseen this footage! An Australian street artist has made headlines with his portrait of Hillary Clinton. He painted a wall in Melbourne with an image of the U.S. democratic presidential candidate wearing a rather skimpy swimsuit. However, the city complained that the mural violates gender equality principles. So, to avoid legal action, the artist painted a niqab over Hillary. Finally, the artist posted a photo of the wall online, after it had been painted completely black, with the caption "Looks like the council wins". RT caught up with the artist.
  10. The mass coral bleaching event smashing the Great Barrier Reef has severely affected more than half its length and caused patches of bleaching in most areas, according to scientists conducting an extensive aerial survey of the damage. “The good news with my last flight is that I found 50 reefs that weren’t bleached, so that may be the southern boundary,” said Terry Hughes from James Cook University. Hughes is the head of the national coral bleaching task force, which has been conducting flights over the length of the reef, mapping bleached areas and recording the severity of the damage. Climate change and a strong El Niño have caused hundreds of kilometres of the reef to bleach, as the higher water temperatures stress the coral, and they expel their symbiotic algae. If the bleaching is bad enough, or the temperatures remain high for long enough, the corals die, putting the future of reefs at risk. The mass bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef is part of what the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has called the third global bleaching event – the first occurred in 1998. Initial reports suggested only the most northern and remote areas of the Great Barrier Reef were bleaching, but as aerial surveys have continued, scientists have struggled to find a southern boundary. The latest find of a stretch of unaffected reefs around Mackay was a small piece of good news, Hughes said. But he said its significane would be unclear until reefs further south were examined. “It may be a false southern boundary,” Hughes said. The reefs around Mackay have unusually large tides, which might have pulled in cooler water and saved the coral there. So far, the surveys reveal there are severely bleached reefs almost as far south as Cairns, and patchy bleaching almost to Mackay. Morgan Pratchett from James Cook University said there was some bleaching even further south. “There is reasonable levels of bleaching as far south as the Keppels, which is even more than we suspected initially,” Pratchett said. Hughes planned to fly over another 150 reefs, creating a total of about 900 surveyed. Only then will the group have a complete picture of how bad the bleaching is. The next step will be to examine how much of that bleached coral has died. “If the corals are severely bleached, then a lot will die. If they are lightly bleached, which is the case with a lot of reefs south of Townsville, then they’ll regain their colour over the next couple of months and there won’t be much mortality,” Hughes said. Two weeks ago, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority reported half the coral in the northern parts of the reef were dead. Hughes said that was consistent with reports from divers north of Port Douglas. Hughes said this was by far the worst bleaching event to have hit the Great Barrier Reef. He said it was three to four times worse than in 1998 or the second great bleaching in 2002. Last year, the Great Barrier Reef narrowly escaped being listed as “in danger” by Unesco, even though environmental groups said it clearly met the criteria. Hughes said the “outstanding universal value” of the reef was now “severely compromised”. Ariane Wilkinson, a lawyer at Environmental Justice Australia, said the bleaching might cause Unesco to reconsider its decision. “[Unesco] weren’t scheduled to examine the reef this year but in light of the terrible bleaching it is entirely possible that they may decide to look at the reef,” she said. “If the World Heritage system is to have any value, it must address the most serious threats to the most iconic examples of world heritage,” she said. “If any site falls into this category, it is the ... Great Barrier Reef.” Source:
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