Phelps racing ‘shark’ leaves viewers fuming

The 100m race was set up for Discovery Channel’s 29th edition of Shark Week – an annual programming block featuring shark-based shows.

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A program schedule released by the channel claimed “the world’s most decorated athlete” would take on “one of the fastest and most efficient predators on the planet”.

The title for the show ‘Phelps vs Shark: Great Gold vs Great White’ left many eager to watch the race.

However, instead of racing against a real shark like many anticipated, Phelps was matched against a computer-generated shark with a simulated speed. 

Phelps and the shark also swam at separate times – with Discovery researchers first recording the time of the shark before letting Phelps swim by himself in the waters off the coast of South Africa.

Sharks are able to reach around 40km/h with ease, while humans typically reach a top speed of 8km/h in the water.

Phelps was given a wet suit to maximise his speed, however the shark still won by two seconds.

He hinted at a rematch, but many took to social media to voice their anger.

Rematch? Next time..warmer water. #SW30 @Discovery @SharkWeek

— Michael Phelps (@MichaelPhelps) July 24, 2017Should I feel silly that I thought Michael Phelps would actually be racing a shark??…in the water with an actual shark

— Alex Holley (@AlexHolleyFOX29) July 24, 2017smh Michael Phelps isn’t actually racing a shark. He’s just racing a simulation of a shark. Biggest scam of 2017

— Marcus ¬ (@M_Frosti) July 24, 2017Turns out “Michael Phelps races a shark” was really just “Michael Phelps swims alone and then compares his time to a shark’s time.”

— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) July 24, 2017find me a better metaphor for the state of western civilization than michael phelps losing to a digital simulacrum

— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) July 24, 2017

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Qld minister counselled over foul rant

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says she’ll make Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne apologise to the disability sector after he launched an expletive-laden tirade directed at her office.

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Mr Byrne reportedly called Ms Palaszczuk’s staff “f—tards” in response to their request he travel 60km to attend a media opportunity with the premier in far north Queensland earlier this month.

Mr Byrne has since apologised for the language used, saying his speech can be “more suited to the battlefield than the boardroom”.

“I can’t recall the precise words I used, but it may come as no surprise to those who know me that from time to time, colourful language does pass my lips,” he said in a statement.

Mr Byrne also denied he had intended to disparage developmentally disabled people by using the suffix “-tard”

“I categorically refute the allegation that I have at any time used language intended to insult or denigrate the disabled,” he said.

Ms Palaszczuk said the language used by Mr Byrne was unacceptable, and she had counselled him.

“I have made it very clear that I do not want to see that happen again and I don’t think he should be speaking like that to anybody,” she said

The premier said Mr Byrne had apologised to her personally, and was “quite sure” he would be happy to apologise to the disability sector as well.

It’s understood the outburst prompted the resignation of Mr Byrne’s chief-of-staff, his fourth since becoming a minister in 2015.

It’s not the first time Mr Byrne’s rambunctious style has raised eyebrows.

There were calls for him to stand down last year after it emerged he shot at rats at his Rockhampton home in the 1990s.

However, the premier stood by the then police minister, saying any offence would be outdated.

Mr Byrne was also pulled into line by the premier in 2015 after it was revealed he had enlisted dumped Labor MP Billy Gordon to appear in his place at official events.

The issue comes on the same day the state’s chief scientist was stood aside after being charged with fraud, and after Energy Minister Mark Bailey was last week sidelined over corruption allegations.

Ms Palaszczuk admitted it wasn’t an ideal time for the minority government.

“I would prefer these issues not to be occurring, I expect high standards from my ministers and I expect people to treat one another with respect.”

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said the issues showed Labor had lost control of its internal processes.

“While this government lurches from crisis to crisis … they’re not governing for Queensland,” he said.

Tap and gone: Aussies waving cash goodbye

Australia’s age of paper payments is in definite decline with tap and go technology helping cards become the most frequent way to pay and ensuring Aussie wallets continue to get thinner.

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According to new data from the Reserve Bank’s triennial consumer payments survey, while the use of cards has doubled in little under a decade, the big change in the way Australians pay has been the rise and rise of contactless, ‘tap and go,’ transactions.

Over 60 per cent of all point-of-sale card payments were contactless last year, the RBA said.

By monitoring participants’ payments details over a week, the survey provides a snapshot of the fundamental changes Australians are making in their use of cash and their digitisation as card-carrying consumers.

The bank has found tap and go cards are now largely ubiquitous, with 85 per cent of consumers waving them on a daily basis compared with two-thirds of respondents in 2013.

With around 33 per cent of all point-of-sale payments contactless in 2016 – compared to 11 per cent in 2013 – the way people pay is shifting and cash has become the first casualty of convenience.

Cash purchases have evaporated from 69 per cent in 2007 to just 37 per cent in 2016 – and the Aussie wallet is on average $15 lighter.

According to the RBA, last year an Australian wallet contained $40, down from $55 in 2013.

Consequently, Australians also aren’t hitting the ATM as frequently.

In all four of the previous surveys, Australian’s ‘topped-up’ their cash one-and-a-half times a week, now they don’t even do it once a week.

The central bank said the increasing use of cards for cheaper, daily transactions – 40 per cent of in-person payments under $20 in 2016, compared with just 10 per cent in 2007 – reflects the normalisation of contactless technology throughout the economy.

“Cards are now the most commonly used payment method for all but the lowest-value transactions and as a result, the median value of card payments at the point of sale continued to decline from $40 in 2007 to $28 in 2016,” the bank said.

Pay cut threat to home visits: doctors

Doctors are warning after-hours home visits will come to a screeching halt if their pay is cut in line with recommendations by an independent taskforce.

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The federal government’s review of Medicare items has investigated a boom in urgent after-hours home visits following concerns by professional medical bodies, and official data showing a huge growth in costs.

In an interim report the review has recommended restricting the rebate paid for urgent services – but doctors say this will mean a “savage” pay cut of 60 per cent to just $45 an hour.

The review found growth was being driven by a boom in medical deputising businesses which provide after hours care.

It said some are claiming taxpayer-funded benefits for “urgent” services worth $153 for matters that could be dealt with in the daytime by a regular GP at a quarter of the cost.

The taskforce wants rebates for urgent after-hours services to be restricted only to GPs who normally work during the day, but are recalled after-hours for a patient in need of urgent assessment.

Medical deputising services would still be able to access the non-urgent after-hours rebate, worth $75.

Umberto Russo has been making after-hours home visits for 26 years, but says he will give it away if the “insulting” 60 per cent pay cut becomes reality.

“These patients definitely will end up in hospital emergency departments because I won’t be seeing them and many other doctors will not be working for $45 an hour to be seeing these sorts of patients,” the spokesman for the National Association for Medical Deputising told AAP.

“It’s a savage cut – there is no way our doctors will work for such a rate.”

The association has warned the taskforce home visits would immediately disappear in cities like Hobart and Darwin, and regional centres such as Townsville, before impacting major cities including Sydney and Melbourne.

The taskforce report says the use of urgent after-hours services swelled 150 per cent in the five years to 2015/16. Meanwhile, the benefits paid increased 170 per cent – from $91 million to $246 million.

Claims that the growth of urgent after-hours home visits had a significant impact on hospital emergency departments were not convincing, it said.

But the association insists usage has now plateaued, after it temporarily boomed while the sector rapidly expanded in recent years.

It says one in three calls received are not billed – with patients instead told to see their GP the following day – meaning a higher proportion of the patients treated are urgent cases.

It insists independent modelling by Deloitte shows states and territories will be coughing up $724 million over four years if home visits dwindle and patients instead present at hospital emergency departments.

The taskforce will make final recommendations to the government later this year.

Trump teaches 40,000 teenagers about ‘fake news’ at Scout jamboree

Donald Trump has railed against the “fake news” and the Washington “sewer” in front of 40,000 chanting and cheering Boy Scouts in West Virginia.

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“Who the hell wants to speak about politics?” Trump boomed, telling the boys he wanted to talk about how to achieve their dreams.

But politics proved too hard for Trump to resist on a day he spent pleading for Republican senators to vote to advance his long-promised health care overhaul and watching his son-in-law Jared Kushner being grilled on Capitol Hill about contacts with Russia.

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It didn’t take long for Trump to veer from inspiration to denigration. The teenaged boys loved it, cheering wildly at each sick burn, hooting and hollering like they were at a wrestling match.

“Tonight we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, DC you’ve been hearing about with the fake news and all of that,” he told the teenaged boys.

“You know, I go to Washington and I see all these politicians and I see the swamp and it’s not a good place,” said Trump.

“In fact, today I said we ought to change it from the word ‘swamp’ to the word ‘cesspool’ or perhaps to the word ‘sewer.’ It’s not good. I see what’s going on and believe me, I’d much rather be with you, that I can tell you,” Trump said.

He told the boys that the media were dishonest and would not show the size of their jamboree on television.

“Fake media, fake media,” Trump said, eliciting a chorus of boos and cheers.

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Trump recounted his election night victories, state by state, the boys from Wisconsin cheering when they heard their state mentioned, the boys from Michigan doing the same.

I’m an Eagle Scout. Trump using the 30,000 BoyScouts as his props tonight was a scene out of Triumph of the Will. Shocking abuse of children

— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) July 25, 2017

Trump said he has 10 former Boy Scouts serving in his cabinet and White House, and brought a few on stage as examples of Boy Scout leadership in action, including Tom Price, his health secretary.

“Hopefully he’s going to get the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare,” Trump said, as the boys booed.

“He better get them, otherwise I’ll say, ‘Tom, you’re fired!'” he said, borrowing the catch phrase from his reality television show, The Apprentice.

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