Hurricane Irma: Flock of flamingos guided to safety in deadly storm

Much of the state has yet to feel the full brunt of the storm as Irma barrelled across the Florida Keys on Sunday morning.

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As 6.5 million residents were told to evacuate Florida – a third of the state – incredible footage has emerged of a flock of flamingos being led to safety at Busch Gardens theme park.

More than 25 years on from the famous photo of Hurricane Andrew, showing a flock of flamingos huddled together in the Miami Metrozoo bathrooms, a new video shows birds in 2017 being led to a safety shelter.

Flamingos at Zoo Miami, are shown in a temporary enclosure in a hurricane resistant structure within the zoo, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 in Miami.AAP

A worker from the African-themed animal park can be seen leading the obedient flamingos along a corridor towards a safety shelter as Hurricane Irma was making landfall.

The wiry flamingos appear calm as they walk in a straight line down a corridor towards shelter, as part of a mass movement of animals towards safety.

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The crew at Busch Gardens is in charge of looking after 12,000 animals and moving 300 species.

Another photo showed flamingos at Miami Zoo huddled together in a shelter.Flamingos take refuge in a bathroom at Miami-Metro Zoo September 14, 1999 as tropical-storm force winds from Hurricane Floyd approached the Miami area.Hulton Archive

In 1992, a famous photo emerged from Hurrcane Andrew of flamingos grouped toether in a bathroom for two days.

The trend continued in 1998 with Caribbean flamingos sheltered in the men’s bathroom during Hurricane Georges and in 1999, during Hurriance Floyd.

0:00 Havana neighbourhoods underwater in Irma’s wake Share Havana neighbourhoods underwater in Irma’s wake

Hurricane Irma hit Florida on Sunday with waves crashing over the seawall and high winds damaging homes and buildings.

The hurricane has since been downgraded to a Category 2, despite strong winds and heavy flooding.

Aussies and India to renew rivalry in ODIs

Steve Smith expects tensions between Australia and India will cool during the ODI series that starts on Sunday.

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Smith’s squad has landed in India, where they’ll contest five one-dayers and three Twenty20s before heading home to prepare for the Ashes.

Australia’s previous visit to the country was marred by a series of controversies, the bulk of which involved Smith and/or opposing captain Virat Kohli.

Smith expects a far less fiery contest than the Test series that unfolded in February and March.

“I think it’ll be played in good spirit,” Smith told reporters in Chennai, where his side will face a local XI on Tuesday in their only warm-up before the series starts in the same city.

“It’s always a hard-fought contest playing against India.”

Kohli remarked after India’s 2-1 Test series win over Smith’s side that he is no longer friends with Australian players and never will be.

The firebrand’s antics and words ensured he was a near-constant presence in the headlines earlier this year, but he struggled with the bat.

Kohli managed just 46 runs at an average of 9.2; the superstar has never logged a lower average in a Test series.

He has since returned to form, finishing a recent limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka with knocks of 82, 110no and 131.

“He is obviously a very good player and has a phenomenal ODI record,” Smith said.

“Hopefully we can keep him quiet as much as possible in this series.

“If we do that then hopefully it can go a long way in us having success on this tour.”

Coach Darren Lehmann has returned home, with David Saker to mentor the squad in India.

Smith, who captained Australia to a recent 1-1 drawn Test series in Bangladesh, rejected the notion another month on the subcontinent would hamper his side’s Ashes preparation.

“I don’t think there is a problem with that,” he said.

“I know before the last Ashes series (in Australia, 2013/14) there was a one-day series here as well.

“There is plenty of time when we get back home and play some Shield games also and get ready for the Ashes.”

Robots could replace teachers: UK academic

Inspirational teachers of the future will be intelligent machines rather than humans, according to a British university vice chancellor.

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Within 10 years a technological revolution will sweep aside old notions of education and change the world forever, Sir Anthony Seldon says.

The vice chancellor of the University of Buckingham believes school teachers will lose their traditional role and effectively become little more than classroom assistants.

They will remain on hand to set up equipment, help children when necessary and maintain discipline, he added.

However, the essential job of instilling knowledge into young minds will wholly be done by artificially intelligent (AI) computers.

Sir Anthony, a former master at Wellington College and political commentator who has written biographies of ex-prime ministers David Cameron, Tony Blair, John Major and Gordon Brown, said: “It certainly will change human life as we know it.

“It will open up the possibility of an Eton or Wellington education for all.

“Everyone can have the very best teacher and it’s completely personalised; the software you’re working with will be with you throughout your education journey.

“It can move at the speed of the learner.

“This is beyond anything that we’ve seen in the industrial revolution or since with any other new technology.

“These are adaptive machines that adapt to individuals.

“They will listen to the voices of the learners, read their faces and study them in the way gifted teachers study their students.

“We’re looking at screens which are listening to the voice of the student and reading the face of the student. Reading and comprehending.”

Sir Anthony outlined his vision in a talk at the British Science Festival which took place last week in Brighton.

Minister seeks to protect historic statues

A Turnbull government minister has moved to protect Captain Cook and other historic statues following a spate of vandalism.

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But political opponents have criticised what they see as a return to “history wars”.

Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg has asked the Australian Heritage Council to recommend how to enhance protections for the historic monuments.

Captain Cook’s statue in Sydney was spray-painted with slogans including “change the date” after a renewed public debate about the appropriateness of January 26 as Australia’s national day.

“We shouldn’t be defacing our history,” Mr Frydenberg told Sky News on Sunday.

“When we saw those criminal acts on that Captain Cook statue, the prime minister was very quick off the blocks to condemn it and to remind everyone that we shouldn’t be seeking to rewrite our history.”

The heritage council is expected to give the government its recommendations early next year.

Labor frontbencher Doug Cameron said the government was trying to distract from issues families genuinely cared about.

“I would have thought Frydenberg would have had more important issues on his mind than that,” Senator Cameron told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

“Writing to anyone about statues I don’t think is an example of leadership.”

Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson dismissed it as “just part of the government’s culture wars”.

“It’s part of a short-term strategy to make sure they don’t lose votes to the far right conservatives in this country like One Nation,” he told reporters.

Crossbench senator David Leyonhjelm said Australians’ concern over historic statues appeared derived from similar debates in the US.

“It’s about history wars. Do we try to judge past deeds and past people by modern or contemporary standards?” he asked.

“It’s a bit of a sad reflection on our political immaturity that we can’t think of our own ideas on how to make a political statement.”

But Liberal senator James Paterson said the minister’s request of the heritage council made sense.

“They are part of our history. They are part of our heritage. These are nationally significant monuments and institutions and they should be protected too,” Senator Paterson said.

“We have Bill Shorten out there saying he’s going to chisel footnotes on every statue. That’s just impractical and silly.”

Stronger laws sought for super payments

The Nick Xenophon Team wants stronger laws to help millions of Australian workers claw back billion of dollars of unpaid superannuation from dodgy employers.

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NXT say there are at least 2.4 million workers who have been underpaid their super entitlements, totalling some $3.6 billion in retirement savings.

“If we don’t do something to make it easier for workers to find out that they haven’t been paid their full entitlements, and give them more power to stand up for their rights, that retirement rip-off is going to balloon out to $66 billion by 2024,” NXT MP Rebekha Sharkie says.

Ms Sharkie introduced a private bill into parliament on Monday aimed at assisting workers who feel they are being ripped off.

The suite of provisions includes giving employees a direct legal avenue to recover unpaid super, a more effective way of tracking whether contributions are being made and removing a loophole which allows salary-sacrifice contributions to be claimed as employer contributions.

The bill will remove an exemption that allows workers who are paid less than $450 in a month not to be paid a super contribution, while it also requires the taxation commissioner to conduct a review of employers’ compliance with their super obligations.

“All too often, the employer eventually winds up their business, and manages to avoid paying either most or the entirety of the outstanding amount of superannuation that they owe their employees,” NXT leader Nick Xenophon said.

Fellow crossbench MP Cathy McGowan backed the proposal, saying it addressed a serious problem.

She urged the government to allow the draft laws to be debated and voted on.

“Let’s do something about this,” she told parliament.

Aust road crashes costing $30b a year

The federal government is being urged to do more to reduce the number of road crashes in Australia after a new report found they are costing the economy nearly $30 billion a year.

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The Australian Automobile Association says while the number of people killed on our roads has dropped by a quarter since 2006, the annual cost of road trauma has not fallen by anywhere near as much.

A report commissioned by the AAA estimates the cost of road trauma was $29.7 billion in 2015. In 2009 the cost of road trauma was estimated by the Australian government to be $27 billion. In today’s dollars that’s equivalent to around $35 billion.

AAA chief executive Michael Bradley says the report’s findings suggest that the federal government’s 2011 National Road Safety Strategy, which aims to reduce annual road deaths and serious injuries by at least 30 per cent by 2020, is doomed to fail.

He wants the federal government to re-establish the National Office for Road Safety, which was shut down 15 years ago, to help improve driver education and research about crashes including the roles played by drug driving and mobile phone use.

Mr Bradley also argues the billions of dollars the federal government spends on road infrastructure projects each year should be linked to specific safety targets.

“The government can choose not to act, but choosing not to not only kills a lot of Australians but it costs billions of dollars every year,” he told AAP on Monday.

“Even though fewer people are dying, more are getting injured probably because crashes are getting more survivable thanks to car technologies and airbags so when you have a crash what used to kill you will now just disable you or maim you.

“The cost of that disability care and the income support for carers, that’s a huge part of this.”

The report, prepared by Economic Connections, found while road fatalities dropped by a quarter to 1205 between 2006 and 2015, the number of people needing to be hospitalised rose by nearly the same amount and pushed up overall costs in the process.

The number of road crashes also rose four per cent to 679,359.

It estimates the direct cost to government for just one year’s worth of road trauma is about $3.7 billion, which covers expenses relating to healthcare, emergency services, forgone future tax revenue and income support for the people injured or killed.

In terms of the $30 billion overall cost of road trauma to the economy, fatalities, health and wellbeing are make up the biggest share of the pie at more than $9 billion, followed by vehicle damage at $4.3 billion and $2 billion for disability care.

Mr Bradley said the federal government should be playing a leadership role for the states when it comes to reducing road trauma by co-ordinating the collection of standardised data on crashes so better research can be done to help reduce the road toll.

Injured Pope Francis ends Colombia tour

Pope Francis, his eye bandaged and blackened after a minor accident in the popemobile, has left Colombia after appealing to the country to “untie the knots of violence” after a 50-year civil war.

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His last day in the Andean country got off to a rocky start when he lost his balance and bumped his head while riding in the popemobile. He bruised his cheekbone and cut his left eyebrow, blood staining his white cassock.

The Vatican said he received ice treatment and was fine. A smiling pope continued the trip wearing a bandage over his cut. “I was punched. I’m fine,” the 80-year-old pontiff joked afterward, the bruises on his face clearly visible.

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At the end of the day, when he said Mass for about 500,000 people in the city’s port area, the bruise had swollen and he had a black bag under his eye.

“If Colombia wants a stable and lasting peace, it must urgently take a step in this direction, which is that of the common good, of equity, of justice, of respect for human nature and its demands,” he said in a strong voice in the homily of the Mass, accompanied by Caribbean and salsa music.

“Only if we help to untie the knots of violence, will we unravel the complex threads of disagreements,” he said.

The pontiff left Colombia on an Avianca flight to Rome after watching a “cumbia” troupe perform traditional coastal singing and dancing with President Juan Manuel Santos and his wife, Maria Clemencia.

Cartagena, a top tourist destination famous for its colonial walled ramparts, was the home to Saint Peter Claver, a Spanish priest who ministered to slaves in Colombia in the 1600s, defying Spanish colonial masters who treated them as chattel.

The pope also used the occasion to again decry modern slavery and human trafficking and defend the rights of immigrants.

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Shark attacks surfer on NSW north coast

A Byron Bay surfer was hospitalised on Sunday after an apparent shark attack left him bleeding and his board snapped in half on the NSW north coast.

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The 35-year-old-man was surfing at Main Beach, Iluka, about 6.30am on Sunday when his board was hit hard from below by what he thinks was a shark.

The board snapped and he was thrown into the air.

“He’s told police the shark began to circle and then turned away,” police media said in a statement.

He then grabbed the pieces of his board and swam to shore.

One of Mr McGrath’s friends posted an image of his broken board to Instagram.

“Life could have been very different this morning,” he said.

“So stoked to still have our mate and not witness something far worse.”

He said Mr McGrath limped up the beach after the attack.

An image of the injury posted to Facebook showed Mr McGrath’s wetsuit torn at the hip, exposing a bleeding laceration.

Friends drove him almost 100 kilometres to Ballina District Hospital where he was treated before being sent to nearby Lismore Base Hospital.

Main and Bluff beaches were closed after the incident.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries said a shark biologist would assess the injury and try to determine the size and species of shark involved.

A second shark net trial for the region was announced this month for five beaches in Ballina, Lennox Head and Evans Head.

The department began deploying 25 drum lines daily, as well as drone and helicopter surveillance, in response to several incidents on the same stretch of coastline.

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Paperwork busting plan for NSW principals

NSW principals will be freed up from drowning in paperwork, coordinating school repairs and IT troubleshooting under a $50 million-a-year plan by the state government aimed at getting school leaders back to teaching.

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NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes announced the plan, which aims to give principals more time to focus on actual teaching, curriculum planning, teacher quality and student progress, at Sydney’s Killara High School on Monday.

It comes after a study by Deloitte found that principals in NSW’s 2200 public schools spend just 30 per cent of their day on teaching.

Dealing with the daily deluge of administrative tasks is a struggle said Killara High School principal Jane Dennett who describes it as “being pecked to death by ducks”.

“A typical day can range from anything from negotiating canteen menus to working out what trees are about to fall down or why the water was suddenly cut off,” Ms Dennett told reporters on Monday.

“I know that more time spent with professional development and reflection to drive improvement can only be a good thing, but I just can’t compromise that quality time.”

The NSW government hopes the money will allow government schools to appoint business managers, similar to those in private schools, to take on the bureaucratic load.

The ongoing funding will be distributed among schools based on their scale and complexity, with smaller schools advised to pool their resources to get the administrative support required.

Mr Stokes said principals have been burdened with administrative tasks that has relegated their role to being managers rather than leaders.

“(It is about) providing principals with the capacity to give them back the time so that they can be in classrooms supporting our teachers or they can be in the schoolyard supporting our students,” Mr Stokes told reporters on Monday.

A new team of trained officers also will be established to remove the compliance burden on principals, including annual work, health and safety inspections.

The strategy has been welcomed by the NSW Primary Principals Association and the NSW Secondary Principals Council.

“We believe this is one of the most comprehensive multi-phased strategies put in place to support schools for some time,” Secondary Principals Council President Chris Presland said on Monday in a statement.

Jolie to unveil Khmer Rouge film in ‘second home’ Cambodia

Cambodia’s king and survivors of the communist regime will be among some 1,500 people invited to the debut screening of “First They Killed My Father”, directed by Jolie and based on the memoirs of Loung Ung.

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Loung Ung was five years old when Khmer Rouge troops, led by Pol Pot, swept into Phnom Penh plunging her family into a harrowing ordeal that saw them sent to brutal labour camps before her eventual escape to the United States.

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In its quest for an agrarian Marxist utopia, the regime killed up to two million Cambodians between 1975-79 through execution, starvation and overwork.

It is the second movie by Jolie to tackle the subject of genocide – in 2011 she made a film about the Bosnian conflict featuring mostly local actors. 

But her latest silver screen offering is more personal. 

Jolie adopted her first child Maddox from an orphanage in Cambodia’s western Battambang province in 2002 and she has been given Cambodian citizenship. 

The Hollywood star previously said it was Maddox who pushed her to make the film. 

At a press conference in Siem Reap, Jolie described Cambodia as a “second home”, adding that she chose Loung Ung’s book because she wanted to tell the story of the Khmer Rouge era “through the eyes of a child”.

It also brought her closer to her son, she said.

“I wanted to focus not just on the war but on the love of family and on the beauty of the country and in fact I wanted to understand what my son’s birth parents may have gone through. And I wanted to know him better and I wanted to know this country better,” she said.

Maddox is accompanying his mother on the trip and was seen visiting the Angkor temple complex on Friday.

Local cast and language

In a tribute to those who survived the brutal regime, Jolie has pushed to ensure the film would be both made by Cambodians and accessible to them.

Almost the entire film is in the Khmer language while the cast members and much of the crew were local hires, including the two child protagonists.

The film is also co-produced by Rithy Panh, Cambodia’s most acclaimed filmmaker. 

He lost almost all his immediate family during the Khmer Rouge years but went on to produce searing documentaries that helped break the silence surrounding the genocide.

Loung Ung, who Jolie described as a “family friend”, said that while the film centred on her family’s experience, her story would be familiar to all Cambodians. 

“I view it as the story of all of us,” she told reporters.

Despite the prosecution of a few top Khmer Rouge cadres, the genocide continues to be a controversial subject. 

Strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was a former regime cadre before he defected and has run the impoverished country for more than thirty years, is opposed to any new prosecutions of regime leaders.

But the Cambodian government has welcomed Jolie’s film so far. 

“The movie reflects the brutality of the Khmer Rouge regime,” Sin Chanchhaya, director of Cambodia’s Cinema and Cultural Diffusion Department, told AFP.

“This is a big deal for us. There is a strong interest among the Cambodian people (for the film),” he added. 

The premiere will be followed by screenings across Cambodia, some seven months before the film is released to a global audience on Netflix.

Jolie’s arrival in Cambodia marks a rare public appearance since her high-profile split last year from Brad Pitt.

Together they had brought up Hollywood’s most celebrated family with three of their six children adopted from overseas