‘He is an American hero’: Joey Chestnut downs 72 hot dogs in 10 minutes

He certainly stretched that limit on Tuesday, downing 72 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes at the annual wiener-eating contest on New York’s Coney Island, a tradition that marks every Independence Day holiday in the United States.

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Chestnut won the competition for the 10th time and improved on the speed-eating tally he posted last summer.

In the 2016 edition of the eat-fest at the Nathan’s Famous beachside hot dog stand — it began way back in 1916 — Chestnut wolfed down 70 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes to win the title.

His personal record — and the world record — is 73.5 dogs and buns in 10 minutes, but that came during a qualifying round rather than an actual contest. 

After Tuesday’s victory, organizer George Shea praised Chestnut as if he were a warrior returning from a distant battlefield.

“He is an American hero. He stands as a representative of freedom, of the American ideal,” said Shea to the 30,000 people who turned out to watch the competition.

Chestnut spoke of himself in more measured language. 

“I am just a goofy dude who likes to eat. I am a lucky guy, to travel around the world and eat and make people smile,” he told reporters.

And Chestnut — who began eating competitively in 2005 in an asparagus-munching contest — does in fact want to get better for next year.

“I need to work on my condition so I don’t sweat as much, because it slowed me down. I’ll figure it out. I’ll make my body work better. I have to figure out my body so I can push it to the absolute limit,” said Chestnut.

America is famously fat, with obesity affected some one in three adults. So the hot dog contest is perhaps not a great example of healthy habits.

Nor is it easy to watch.

The rules allow the 18 competitors to soak their hot dogs and buns in water to make them easier to choke them down. Using their fingers, they slammed the frankfurters back into their mouths and leaned their heads back to help the food ooze its way south.

Besides the 30,000 on hand to watch the event, many more took in the spectacle on TV. Sports network ESPN carried it live for the 11th straight year.

The event is overseen by a federation called Major League Eating, which holds about 80 such competitions each year in a season that runs from February to September. There are separate bouts for men and women.

Tuesday’s female winner was Miki Sudo, who ate 41 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes.

Pregnant drinking linked to youth deaths

Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder remains a major problem in WA’s Kimberley region and is a driver of the mental health problems that lead to youth suicide, a coronial inquest in to 13 suicides among Aboriginal young people has heard.

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The inquest is examining a cluster of 13 deaths of Aboriginal youths in Western Australia’s far north between November 2012 and March last year, including five children aged between 10 and 13, two of whom were sisters.

While all of the young people had been exposed to trauma and physical abuse, there were strong links between the behavioural and developmental problems they showed in the community and FASD, which is the result of a mother drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

As well as facial and other physical abnormalities, FASD has been linked to brain and behavioural issues including cognitive, communication, executive functioning, impulse control and other problems.

Paediatrician James Fitzpatrick and clinical neuropsychologist Carmela Pestell told the inquest about their research that had found alarming levels of heavy drinking among pregnant women in WA’s far north, with more than half surveyed drinking at dangerous levels.

At least one in three young people in detention in WA had FASD and were in the bottom three per cent for cognitive function, according to a study of mostly Aboriginal male youths.

The problem of drinking during pregnancy was described as a general problem around Australia that affected various ethnic and socio-economic groups.

However the remoteness of Kimberley indigenous communities and lack of “scaffolding and structural” support services led to a greater risk that youths in those areas would not be treated for or diagnosed with FASD, leading to problems and possibly suicide, the inquest heard.

“Sadly I think FASD is one of the most potent drivers of mental health problems that lead to suicide in places like the Kimberley,” said paediatrician James Fitzpatrick, an expert on the condition who says no amount of alcohol in pregnancy is safe.

“One of my great fears is that I will sitting here in 20 years talking about the same problems and solutions, that this is another in a long line of inquiries into this issue.”

Just last week Dr Fitzpatrick said eight out of nine children tested in the Kimberley were diagnosed with FASD, including a boy aged less than 10 who witnessed his own mother take her life and is “verbalising this intent” about himself.

Dr Fitzpatrick described FASD as Australia’s most common preventable cause of disability but it was not on the the National Disability Insurance Agency’s list of recognised disabilities, preventing Medicare access to some support services.

He said there were solutions and the federal-funded “Making FASD history” project he had run in the Fitzroy Valley for six years in collaboration with families, doctors and teachers had reduced alcohol use in pregnancy by 65 per cent to 15 per cent and he would be expanding it.

Bangladesh ends search for survivors as factory blast toll hits 13

Dozens of workers were inside the factory on the outskirts of Dhaka when the boiler exploded on Monday evening, causing a section of the six-storey building to collapse.

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It was unclear what caused the explosion, which occurred during maintenance work on the boiler at a time when most of the factory’s 5,000 workers were off for the Eid holidays.

Authorities called off the nearly 22-hour-long search after rescuers found two more bodies in a toilet next to the destroyed boiler room, bringing the death toll to 13.

“Our fire fighters have completed searching the entire section of the debris,” local administrator Mahmud Hasan told AFP.

The government said it had formed a committee to investigate the explosion, the latest disaster to strike the country’s $30-billion garment industry.

The plant in the Gazipur industrial district is owned by manufacturer Multifabs, which makes clothing for brands including Littlewoods and Aldi according to its website.

The collapse of the nine-storey Rana Plaza factory complex in April 2013 in which more than 1,100 people were killed was seen as a wake-up call for the industry, which supplies clothing for major brands all over the world.

In the wake of the disaster, authorities pledged to improve working conditions at factories but accidents are still commonplace.

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Only a few hundred of the country’s 4,500 textile factories have been certified as safe and last year a fire at a factory just miles from Rana Plaza claimed 34 lives.

A survey this year by global charity Action Aid of more than 1,400 Rana Plana survivors found nearly half were still jobless while roughly 31 percent were too traumatised to work.

There have also been demands for an increase in the basic monthly wage of $68 for the country’s four million garment workers, most of whom are young women.

One of the injured workers receiving treatment at nearby hospitals blamed the factory authorities for not replacing the boiler despite the fact that it was allegedly “beeping danger signals continuously”.

Worker Harunur Rashid told Bangla daily Prothom Alo that the boiler’s safety bulb was beeping danger lights but the device’s operators assured them there was nothing to worry about.

“Within ten minutes after we returned to work, the boiler exploded. It’s absolutely the authorities’ negligence,” he said.

Mesba Faruqui, the operations director of the factory, said the operators were doing maintenance duty as the factory was meant to open on Tuesday after the long Eid holidays.

“If the accident had happened today, God forbid, there might have been many more casualties,” he told AFP.

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Common weedkiller could make cane toads deadlier

Cane toads could become even more deadly because of their exposure to a common weedkiller.

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Scientists in Hungary have found that when toad tadpoles come into contact with the widely used weedkiller Glyphogan, their bodies produce more of the toxic chemicals they use to ward off predators.

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The scientists say their findings, published by ‘The Royal Society’ on Wednesday, are particularly relevant to Australia’s cane toad population which they fear could become even more toxic given they live in a wide variety of habitats that are exposed to pollutants and pesticides.

“Our results indicate that pesticide pollution might exacerbate the problem of invasive toxic species,” study author Veronika Bokony, of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences said.

“For example, in Australia, the survival of native tadpoles is reduced by poisoning from ingestion of toxic cane toad eggs, and predators suffer drastic mortality due to ingesting or mouthing cane toads.”

The scientists tested the effects of the glyphosate-based weedkiller Glyphogan on large batches of common tadpoles in a laboratory and a pond at an experiment station near Budapest.

All the tadpoles produced significantly more amounts of bufadienolides – the toxic steroids used by toads, fireflies, some snakes and plants to poison or deter predators – after being exposed to Glyphogan for between nine days and three weeks.

The scientists said that if toads become more toxic, their predators may switch to other more palatable prey, posing an even greater threat to other animals.

Cane toads store toxins containing bufadienolides in glands on their shoulders, using them to deliver a poisonous blast that can cause heart convulsions or death for predators.

The cane toads have had a huge impact on native animals since arriving from Hawaii in 1935 and spreading across most of northern Australia.

Northern quoll populations were devastated by the toad, whose poison also has been known to kill freshwater crocodiles, snakes and goannas.

Cane toad expert professor Rick Shine, of the University of Sydney, says the new research adds to a growing body of evidence showing how toads develop their defensive chemical “weapons” in reaction to their experiences.

But he says while weedkiller can increase the amount of poison in a toad, it might not necessarily mean the cane toad will have an even greater ecological impact in Australia.

“Most native predators in areas where cane toads live have already learned that toads are deadly, and don’t eat them – or can tolerate the poison, and thus are not at risk no matter how much the toad ramps up its poison content,” he said.

The Hungarian scientists have called for more studies to be done on how environmental contaminants like weedkillers affect the chemical defences in bufadienolides.

Arab nations: we have Qatar’s response

Four Arab nations say they have received Qatar’s response to their demands for ending a diplomatic crisis gripping the Persian Gulf, just before a planned meeting in Cairo.

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Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates said on Wednesday they would respond “in a timely manner”.

The countries did not elaborate on what steps they could take, though credit rating agency Moody’s warned it had changed Qatar’s economic outlook to negative over the turmoil.

The countries cut ties to the FIFA 2022 World Cup host in early June over its alleged support for extremist groups and ties with Iran.

Qatar denies supporting extremists and has defended its warm relations with Iran.

The nations issued a 13-point list of demands on June 22, giving Qatar 10 days to comply.

They later extended the deadline to Wednesday at the request of Kuwait, which has acted as a mediator.

Foreign ministers from the four Arab countries will meet in Cairo later on Wednesday to discuss their next move.

Qatar has called the demands, which include shutting down its al-Jazeera satellite news network, expelling Turkish military forces based in the country and paying restitution, as an affront to its sovereignty.

Earlier, in a move that could affect Australia, Qatar announced plans for a steep rise in liquefied natural gas (LNG) production, suggesting it is ready for a protracted dispute with its Gulf neighbours.

State-owned Qatar Petroleum announced plans to raise LNG capacity by 30 per cent.

The immediate effect of the increase will be to worsen a glut on the LNG market, where Australia, the US and Russia vie.

Reddit user sorry for Trump-CNN clip

A Reddit user has apologised for a doctored video in which US President Donald Trump assaults a man whose head is replaced with the CNN logo, saying the video is “a prank, nothing more”.

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“The meme was created purely as satire. It was not meant to be a call to violence against CNN or any other news affiliation,” user HanAssholeSolo said on Tuesday in a 700-word post on the US-based discussion website.

The user claimed credit for making an initial version of the video.

“I had no idea anyone would take it and put sound to it and then have it put up on the President’s Twitter feed,” the user said.

The user also apologised other for other posts “that were racist, bigoted, and anti-Semitic”.

A post shared on social media believed to be from the same user showed a collection of CNN personality photos, each highlighted with the Star of David, with the words: “Something strange about CNN … can’t quite put my finger on it.”

“I am in no way this kind of person. I love and accept people of all walks of life and have done so for my entire life,” the user wrote in the apology note, saying the actions were “trolling … to get a reaction”.

The user asked others who trolled to “consider your words and actions” and said he or she would no longer post “hurtful or hateful things in jest online”.

Trump’s retweeted the video on Sunday with the hashtags “#FraudNewsCNN” and “#FNN”.

The president has branded the media as “the enemy of the American people”, taking particular aim at CNN.

CNN accused Trump of engaging in “juvenile behaviour far below the dignity of his office”.

Hospitals pull back on antibiotic use

Antibiotic use in Australian hospitals has taken a dip, with medical experts saying the move will help in the fight against superbugs.

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The amount of antibiotics given to hospital patients to treat infections or reduce the risk of them developing fell by more than seven per cent between 2011 and 2015, a report released by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care shows.

The report by the National Antimicrobial Utilisation Surveillance Program found that 916.4 daily doses of antibiotics were given to patients for every 1,000 occupied bed days in hospital in 2015 – a two per cent drop on the previous year and 7.6 per cent lower than in 2011.

The commission’s senior medical advisor Professor John Turnidge said the report indicates hospitals have taken steps to ensure that more patients receive the most appropriate antibiotic treatment.

“Appropriate use of antibiotics will help considerably in slowing the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

Australians are among the biggest users of antibiotics in the world despite experts here and around the globe warning that excessive or unnecessary use helps more bacteria become resistant to the drugs.

The report found Australia has a higher use of antibiotics in hospitals than Sweden and the Netherlands.

Twenty antibacterials, including amoxicillin and azithromycin, accounted for 93 per cent of antibiotics used in Australian hospitals in 2015.

The use of “highly reserved” antibacterials considered to be the last line of defence when treating bacterial infections was found to be low.

The World Health Organisation has called the rise of antibiotic resistance a global crisis.

Many common infections including pneumonia have become harder to treat because the over-use of antibiotics has made them ineffective at fighting certain types of bacteria.

Last month, an emergency summit of 300 infectious diseases experts called for a national body to be set up in Australia to co-ordinate the fight against the spread of superbugs, which they described as a major patient safety issue.

They want a central authority to co-ordinate areas such as infection control, surveillance and the use of antibiotics.

‘We need to talk about sex’: Robot experts on the growing market for ‘sex tech’

Move over blow-up dolls, the sex robots are here.

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Artificial intelligence is making its way into the global sex market, bringing with it a revolution in robotic “sex tech” designed to offer sexual gratification with a near-human touch.

In a report on the growing market in sex robots, the Foundation for Responsible Robotics says rapidly advancing technologies have already led to the creation of “android love dolls” capable of performing 50 automated sexual positions.

They can be customised down to their shape and hair colour and can cost between $US5000 and $US15,000 ($A6566 to $A19,698).

The increasingly lifelike robots raise complex issues that should be considered by policymakers and the public, the report says, including whether use of such devices should be encouraged in sexual therapy clinics, for sex offenders or for people with disabilities.

Noel Sharkey, a professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield in Britain, says it is difficult to predict how far or fast the market will grow or what its effect on societies might be.

“Will these robotic dolls be niche? Or will they change societal norms and become widespread?,” he asked at a news briefing on Tuesday.

“How would (sex with a robot) equate to a truly human intimate relationship?”

The report looks at some of the most contentious issues, asking academics, members of the public and the sex industry for their views on whether, for example, sex robots might be helpful in reducing sexual crimes.

It found “major disagreement” on this question, with some arguing that having sex with a robot would reduce attackers’ desires to harm fellow humans, and others arguing that allowing people to live out their darkest fantasies with robots would have a pernicious effect on societal norms.

On the issue of “meaningful” relationships, the report says that with current AI technology, and even in the foreseeable future, no human-to-robot feelings will ever be mutual.

“The best robots could do is fake it,” it said.

“Robots cannot feel love.”

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Australians detained on Christmas Island ‘by mistake’

The government has admitted two Australian citizens were sent to the detention facility on Christmas Island within recent months by mistake.

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According to a statement from the Department of Immigration and Border protection, the pair had their visas cancelled under section 501 of the Migration Act.

Under the Act, non-citizens visas will be automatically cancelled if they have received a prison sentence of at least 12 months within Australia, or have been found guilty of a crime involving the sexual abuse of a child.

The department adds that “after it was identified that each individual held dual Australian citizenship, arrangements were immediately made for their release from immigration detention”.

The Guardian Australia is reporting the men, born in New Zealand, hold dual Australian citizenship.

Principal solicitor of the National Justice Project, Professor George Newhouse, said it’s “a shocking state of affairs”.

“We have a situation where Australian citizens can be wrongfully detained on the whim, on the decision of a bureaucrat or a government minister,” he said.

Professor Newhouse said he believes the reasons these cases occur is because the system is “unaccountable”, where “you don’t need to be taken before a judge or a court” for visa decisions.

“Mistakes happen when you cut corners and you take away due process,” he said.

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Australian citizen Cornelia Rau was held by authorities for 10 months from 2004-2005, later receiving more than $2 million in compensation.

Prior to this, in 2001, Vivian Solon was wrongfully deported to the Philippines, with Australian authorities believing she was an illegal immigrant. Despite the government realising its error in 2003, it did not come to light until 2005.

A 2005 inquiry conducted by former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Palmer found the department breached its own guidelines regarding dealing with detainees, and slammed its treatment of Ms Rau as “demonstrably inadequate”.

More than 200 cases of alleged wrongful deportation were referred to the then-Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone for review.

But Professor Newhouse said things have changed since the investigation.

“The government’s policies have just got harder, and they’ve eroded the protections recommended by Mick Palmer,” he said, accusing the Australian Border Force of having a so-called “cowboy culture”.

According to the Australian Financial Review, current Border Force head, Roman Quaedvlieg, is on extended leave after an external investigation over his personal behaviour.

The government recently proposed reforms to citizenship, including changing the English language test and introducing a “values” test.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who already has the power to veto decisions on visas by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, also wants his powers extended further.

Professor Newhouse said the minister wants to be “judge, jury and executioner”.

He warned that the situation could get worse.

“We live in a country where Australian citizens can be taken prisoner by their own government, when they’ve committed no offence, and done nothing wrong,” he said.

– with wires

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AFL players who face mental health battles

RECENT EXAMPLES OF AFL PLAYERS FIGHTING MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES:

PRESENT PLAYERS

TOM BOYD, 21: Eight months after starring in the Western Bulldogs’ grand final win, the big-money forward was on Wednesday granted a leave of absence to treat clinical depression.

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He revealed he has been managing the illness for an extended time.

TRAVIS CLOKE, 30: Boyd’s teammate announced in June he is taking time away from the sport to deal with mental health issues, with coach Luke Beveridge saying Cloke hadn’t been enjoying the game. He is likely to return in the reserves this weekend.

ALEX FASOLO, 25: The Collingwood forward took a short break to manage depression, missing their round 11 match this year.

LANCE FRANKLIN, 30: The Sydney star forward withdrew from the 2015 finals due to a serious mental health issue. He returned to the field the following year, kicking 81 goals.

PAST PLAYERS

MITCH CLARK, 29: The key Demons forward stepped away from the AFL in April 2014 after a string of injuries, also revealing he had depression. He returned to play for Geelong for two seasons but was delisted in 2016.

BARRY HALL, 40: The ex-Sydney premiership captain Barry Hall revealed in April he had faced mental challenges in the months after retirement.

COURTENAY DEMPSEY, 29: The ex-Essendon defender revealed in May he felt “like a piece of meat” when he was delisted by the Bombers, with his depression adding to the devastation over 12 teammates’ doping bans.

SIMON HOGAN, 28: The ex-Geelong player revealed his struggle with depression in 2014 to educate younger players about mental illness.

CHAD FLETCHER, 37: Ex-West Coast Eagles midfielder Chad Fletcher revealed “dark clouds” hovered over him during his All-Australian year in 2004.

WAYNE SCHWASS, 48: The North Melbourne and Sydney great, who endured mental health problems in retirement, now advocates for mental health awareness.

NATHAN THOMPSON, 39: The ex-Kangaroos player spoke publicly in 2004 about his experience of depression. He’s since become an ambassador for mental health agency beyondblue to raise awareness of its prevalence.

Australian readers seeking support and information about depression can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.