Imagine a drug that costs the Australian economy about $7.
6 billion every year in crime, health problems and lost productivity. A drug that kills between 3,000 and 4,000 of us annually. And a drug that governments across the country are now making much easier to get around the clock. The drug is alcohol – for many of us our drug of choice. But with more and more 24-hour licences being issued, there's increasing concern we may be making booze too readily available.
JENNY BROCKIE: Here is Amanda Collinge with this story, and a warning, some of the language in this story may offend.
24 HOUR BOOZE:
REPORTER: Amanda Collinge
On a clear day Sydney's beachside suburb of Manly sparkles. But at night, the suburb's four large pubs take centre stage. Two have 24-hour licences, and on weekends things can turn ugly.
PETER MACDONALD, MAYOR OF MANLY: It's pretty unpleasant and pretty ugly between the hours of 2:00 and 5:00 in the morning. People come down, there's a binge drinking culture.
Official figures now rate Manly as the second-worst suburb in Sydney for alcohol-fuelled crime. Local police have linked more than 1,000 incidents, including assaults and vandalism, to alcohol abuse last year.
PETER MACDONALD: We've got this concentration of large pubs, large numbers of patrons in a very small area, and that has concentrated the problems.
But there are plenty of patrons who love the late trading hours.
WOMAN: We love the Steyne, yeah. The Steyne is the best.
WOMAN 1: No-one wants to go home like at 3:00 or 2:00 and so it keeps everyone off the streets.
WOMAN 3: What I find if there's a certain cut-off point, like 2:00, that's when a lot of people are in their prime of really in the party mode, so if you kick everyone out at that time, then you'll find there's more fights in the street.
REPORTER: So you tend to stay quite late here?
WOMAN 2: Yes.
REPORTER: How late?
WOMAN 2: Well, they changed the closing time till 6am. We usually stay, like 4:00 in the morning maybe.
WOMAN 1: It actually gives people something to do and, yeah. If you're not here, everyone would be out having punch-ups and, yeah.
WOMAN 4: And loads of fun, everyone's so good here and it keeps everyone out of trouble and stuff.
The Steyne Hotel in Manly has long been linked to incidents of street crime and assault. With nine bars over three floors, the pub can take more than 2,000 patrons a night and has a 24-hour licence.
STEVE QUINLAN, LICENSEE, STEYNE HOTEL: It is an entertainment precinct. You know, if you go overseas to somewhere as beautiful as Manly, you wouldn't go there and find it closed at midnight. The UK want 24-hour trading. It spreads out how long you can get a drink.
REPORTER: So how late you will girls stay?
WOMAN 1: 5:00 in the morning.
WOMAN 4: Shut up. We usually stay like 4:30, to like 4:30.
REPORTER: How old are you?
WOMAN 4: We're 18.
WOMAN 1: I'm 19.
MAN: Really? My name's George. Pleased to meet you, girls.
Alcohol-fuelled violence is on the rise and much of it, according to new surveys, happens in and around late night hotels. The Beach Palace Hotel in Coogee, another Sydney beachside suburb, is one of them.
MAN: Yeah, yeah. Fuck that shit. Four, five, six, seven motherfuckers out here. Watch me fuck their shit. Yeah. A fucking machine, I'm a machine built for killing. I don't get treated like a fucking piece of shit. I spend over 150 fucking dollars in advance. Beat this little pussy ass fucking Lebo motherfuckers out there.
So is Australia's dream of creating modern 24-hour cities turning sour? Alcohol is central to a thriving night-time economy but with binge drinking a national pastime, it's all a far cry from late night continental Europe.
REPORTER: So how much would you normally drink on a night out?
WOMAN 2: Um
WOMAN 3: No comment.
REPORTER: On an average night?
WOMAN 2: Maybe like 10, 10 drinks.
WOMAN 3: I generally lose count. If you can't remember, then you say five.
REPORTER: What do you girls drink?
WOMAN 1 and 2: Vodka and Red Bull. Vodka.
REPORTER: How many a night?
WOMAN 1: A lot. Around 10? Probably about 10. But we drink before we come here as well.
And our drinking culture encourages everyone to drink, even those who don't really want to.
MAN: I think I tried to give up for about four months and, you know, I started, I started really drinking again when I went out with my parents, actually, to dinner, you know, having a few glasses then, and ever since then I thought, you know, whatever. The fact is that it's really, really difficult to be a non-drinker.
REPORTER: Because it's everywhere?
MAN: Pretty much. In Australia it is anyway. I mean, I don't necessarily knock that at all but it's definitely borderline impossible to stop drinking in Australia.
JENNY BROCKIE: Well, welcome, everyone. Thanks very much for joining us. Steve Quinlan, you're the licensee of Manly's Steyne Hotel, which we just saw earlier in that story. Now, you're one of nearly 600 publicans around the country who've been issued with 24-hour licences. 444 of those licences, by the way, are in NSW. Tell me why you think they're a good idea? Why do you think it's a good idea to be able to drink 24/7?
STEVE QUINLAN: I guess speaking for the Steyne and for Manly, if the hotel's actually there's a large number of patrons, as Mayor Macdonald was saying, and we do need to spread out the time that they're there. We don't want to put everyone out on the street at midnight or 1:00 or 2:00 or whatever.
JENNY BROCKIE: But if you put them out at 6:00, they've been drinking for longer, some of them have.
STEVE QUINLAN: I mean, drinking longer is not necessarily a bad thing, because it's rather that than have you know, you've got two hours to drink it in. By 6:00 there's very few people left, the drinking slows down, you know, they're not.. Because you're there longer doesn't mean to say that you actually drink more.
JENNY BROCKIE: Bill Healey, you're the director of Australian Hotels Association. Why do you think 24-hour licences are a good idea?
BILL HEALEY, AUSTRALIAN HOTELS ASSOCIATION: Well, at the end of the day they're a good idea in those precincts where people have customers that want to go to our venues during that time. I mean, you've pointed out there's 600 out of around 7,000 hotels, and there are also clubs around the country that are trading. So only a small percentage of people in very defined precincts are open to that time of night. But ultimately in some ways, we do know that if you close at a set time, you pour a lot of people out on the street, you tax the transport systems of those communities – and that is quite often the cause of problems – so by spreading out your departures you can actually mitigate against problems. The other point, and if we are going to focus on alcohol in this country, 70% of alcohol consumed in Australia today is consumed away from licensed premise.
JENNY BROCKIE: NowWHERE do you get those figures from?
BILL HEALEY: Those figures are based on numbers and sales figures. I mean, generally far more alcohol today is consumed in the home and in other places away from licensed premises.
JENNY BROCKIE: So you don't think hotels are the problem?
BILL HEALEY: Well, we acknowledge that in some precincts a large concentration of people who are partying and who are up late at night and maybe have had too much to drink or maybe also taken some other substances, become hard to control. But what we're saying is that if you're going to look at the alcohol problem in this country, you shouldn't just focus on late night trading. It's a much more complex issue and it really goes to the heart of the acceptance of intoxication.
JENNY BROCKIE: George Newhouse, you're mayor of Waverley in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs. Does having longer hours help the way the hotel industry is suggesting? Does it help spread out people's drinking and therefore make it less of a problem?
GEORGE NEWHOUSE, MAYOR OF WAVERLEY: Well, that's not what we see. The longer people drink the more violence we see in the early hours of the morning. And the evidence is that in Bondi, for example, when we try and shut down the shops outside of the 24-hour pubs, people actually do move on and they move on with a minimum of violence. They end up down at Coogee, which has all-night trading and that's where the problems occur. So I dispute the argument from the hotels that longer hours means less violence. In fact it's quite the opposite.
JENNY BROCKIE: So why are so many of these licences being issued then? Why is there this push? Is it about creating more vibrant cities, about being more sophisticated cities like we see in Europe?
GEORGE NEWHOUSE: I don't think there's anything sophisticated about what you just saw down at Coogee. It's about making money. And the system tends to be weighted towards the hoteliers and against the community.
JENNY BROCKIE: Tanya, I'd like to broaden this out a bit because we're talking quite a bit about NSW here, and that's obviously where a lot of these licences, the bulk of these licences are. But you're from Western Australia and you've spent six years looking at the effects of longer trading hours. What have you found?
DR TANYA CHIKRITZHS, NATIONAL DRUG RESEARCH INSTITUTE: Well, I'm from Western Australia but I have a very national perspective because I work at the National Drug Research Institute. But essentially we looked at what happened in Perth when hotels were allowed were given access to extended trading permits which allowed them about one to two hours extra trading after midnight, which is the standard closing time. Now, the period we looked at was from 1991 to 1997. And we had two very excellent sources of information – we had wholesale alcohol purchase information and all sorts of details that we needed on hotels from the Liquor Licensing Department, and we also had reports of violent assaults, reported by the police. And from that we were able to identify where an assault occurred and to specifically locate it to a particular hotel and name that hotel. The levels of violent assaults in and around their premises increased by 70% on average, and that's over and above the increases that were occurring among the normally or the standard hours trading premises.
JENNY BROCKIE: So there were hot spots?
DR TANYA CHIKRITZHS: Well, yes, there are definitely hot spots.
JENNY BROCKIE: For violence?
DR TANYA CHIKRITZHS: For violence, there's no doubt about that. And I think it's important to recognise that not all hotels are interested in trading for 24 hours or for extended trading hours. It has to be primarily in a business interest in their business interest to do so.
JENNY BROCKIE: Superintendent Frank Hansen, you're in charge of drug and alcohol issues for the NSW Police. Does your experience echo what Tanya's saying in terms of what you're finding and what the police are finding in NSW?
SUPT FRANK HANSEN, NSW POLICE: Yeah, sure. I mean, the relationship between alcohol use and particularly violence and street offences is there is no doubt about that, and the consequences of extended trading means that there are greater increase… a significant increase in offending behaviour around licensed premises. We're able to track people who have come under notice by the police, either as an offender or as a victim, and about 25% of those people have been drinking in licensed premises immediately before the incident.
JENNY BROCKIE: Lee Gilmour, you're a magistrate in this Eastern Suburbs area of Sydney we've been talking about a bit tonight. It covers some of those beach hotels that we saw. How big a feature is alcohol in your court?
LEE GILMOUR, LOCAL COURT MAGISTRATE: It's a huge feature. It would be a good 70% to 80% of the crimes that I see come through the court are alcohol-related. And what you saw is something that we see most Tuesdays and Wednesdays in Waverley Local Court as a result of incidents such as that, in particularly those two hotels that you saw. I don't target them, it's just a fact – that's where the violence is occurring.
JENNY BROCKIE: And is there a pattern to the time the offences occur? Because I'm interested in getting back to this, just around the debate of whether being able to drink these long hours is a good or bad idea.
LEE GILMOUR: Yes, there is a pattern. You find in the facts that come before the court many of the young people don't hit the hotels until about 11:00 at night. Where they've been until then I'm not too sure but usually the facts will start off with, “He arrived at the hotel at 11:00 at night.” The material that comes before the court does indicate to me that between midnight and 3:00 is the time where things seem to get very volatile.
JENNY BROCKIE: So what do you think of the idea of 24-hour licences, as a magistrate?
LEE GILMOUR: I can only speak for myself, of course, I don't speak for others, but I don't approve of it. I see no reason why people need to be in licensed premises beyond midnight. They've got homes to go to, presumably jobs to do the next day. I think, as you indicated in your introduction, the consumption of alcohol has a lot to do to explaining sickness, performance at work, things like that. And I see no reason whatsoever why any hotel needs to be open between 12:00 midnight and 6am.
JENNY BROCKIE: Bill?
BILL HEALEY: Most of the hotels that are opening those late hours, as we've heard earlier, are on Friday and Saturday nights when people are ending up at the end of the week, we don't see it tend to happen right across the working week.
JENNY BROCKIE: But the points that are being raised here are about more serious things. I mean, you've got a police officer worried about violence at that time, you've got a magistrate saying she's worried about violence as well. You've got a researcher saying there's a correlation in terms of the hours and the offences occurring in relation to these late night premises. And we haven't even talked to the health people yet.
BILL HEALEY: I come back to the issue about 24/7 worlds that we live in now in entertainment. There are a number of people who you saw in those licensed premises who were having a good night out and were enjoying themselves and weren't intoxicated and weren't a problem. We did see some instances of people who are intoxicated and create social problems. The bigger issue, the bigger issue for this community is the acceptance of intoxication. And the point that I made earlier about total alcohol – a lot of the problems you're going to talk about later are not happening on a Saturday or a Friday night, they're happening in people's homes every day of the week. And so I think the focus on late night trading really takes the real pressure off the issue in our society which is a culture that accepts intoxication.
JENNY BROCKIE: We're going to talk even… not even about intoxication later, just about health risks that don't involve intoxication. Ian Webster, before we do, you're the chief alcohol adviser to the NSW Government and you're calling for a ban on 24-hour traders. Do you want them all shut down? What do you want to see happen?
PROFESSOR IAN WEBSTER, ALCOHOL EDUCATION AND REHABILITATION FOUNDATION: Well, I certainly don't think that we should increase the numbers and the evidence shows right across the world – in England, Perth, here in Sydney – that where you've got 24-hour opening of hotels, extended hours, and particularly when they're concentrated in particular areas where people come into those areas, you have enormous amount of injury. We've been talking about what happens on Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday night and early Sunday morning in the public hospitals when the emergency departments become crowded out. You've just got to go there to see the extent of trauma and injury. And it is a problem of intoxication, it is a problem of people being out of control. So I think there certainly shouldn't be any new licences issued, in my opinion, and I'd certainly review very closely those that exist and look at the patterns in terms of injury and harm that are occurring in those communities and of course to the individuals. I'd go to the local public hospital and find out what's happening there, St Vincent's, for example, in the centre of Sydney, Liverpool out in south-west Sydney.
JENNY BROCKIE: Steve Quinlan, your response to all the problems Ian's talking about.
STEVE QUINLAN: I guess we keep saying it's the hotels. People go to restaurants, they drink at home, you know. And as Bill was saying, majority, probably 95% of patrons who go to our premises drink responsibly and behave. It's a very small element that don't. I think it needs to be understood that hotels don't go out there to get people drunk. It's not in our best interests.
JENNY BROCKIE: But you're out to make money and the more people drink the more money you make.
STEVE QUINLAN: No, not at all, not at all.
JENNY BROCKIE: You're not out to make money?
STEVE QUINLAN: More responsible drinkers are better revenue than a smaller amounts of people getting on it. A hotel needs to be a safe, comfortable environment so it's having more responsible people. There's definitely no mileage in having, you know, getting people just trucking through the drinks. So I disagree with that completely.
JENNY BROCKIE: Ian?
PROFESSOR IAN WEBSTER: Jenny, could I just comment on that? We don't have the studies in Australia but there was a study done in the United States which showed that the alcohol industry as a whole earns up to 40% of its income from those who are under-age drinkers – the under-age are slightly different in the United States, it's a higher level – but also drinkers who are using it inappropriately, drinkers at risk. So in many ways a lot of the income for the alcohol industry is actually coming from harmful drinking. And it's estimated that something like 80% of the alcohol which is bought and sold in Australia is bought and sold by people who at that time are drinking at a high risk way.
JENNY BROCKIE: In a moment we're going to look at what's happening in other States. And we'll settle once and for all just how much alcohol is safe to drink. You might be surprised by that. And hospital emergency departments in most States of Australia are reporting a growing number of women and teenagers admitted with alcohol overdoses. Here's Amanda Collinge.
REPORTER: Amanda Collinge
REPORTER: What do you drink?
MAN: Jim Beam.
It's Saturday night in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs. It's past midnight and as usual there are plenty of 13- and 14-year-olds out on the street drinking.
REPORTER: So how old are you?
REPORTER: And what kind of things do you do on a weekend?
GIRL: We go to raves, drink.
GIRL 2: Just drink till really confident, you know what I'm saying. Yeah, but not sick.
REPORTER: How old were you guys when you started drinking?
GIRL: About 12, 11.
WOMAN: We go along Tamarama, Bronte Beach.
The Point Zero van is here too. They're on the streets each weekend to help underage drinkers. Tonight they're mainly dispensing food and at times condoms.
REPORTER: What kind of things are you drinking?
GIRL: Jimmy, Woodstock, UDLs, just mainly that.
REPORTER: And how much do you drink?
GIRL: We drink till we're drunk, pretty much.
REPORTER: How do you get it?
GIRL: Off our parents or we get randoms to ask. And Luke's favourite drink is tequila.
REBECCA HOLDMAN, POINT ZERO: Older friends, older siblings, parent's alcohol cabinets. Some of them actually look older than they are and aren't asked for ID so they can purchase it themselves as well.
Rebecca Holdman is a youth worker with Point Zero. She's seen a few teenagers overdose on alcohol, and often it's after drinking spirits.
REBECCA HOLDMAN: One young male had – I think he was approximately 15 years of age – he had consumed an entire bottle of vodka and was passed out. Another young man had been drinking heavily and had fallen and split his head.
REPORTER: What kind of things do you drink?
REPORTER: How much?
BOY: Till it's gone.
JENNY BROCKIE: Stephanie, you're from Point Zero as well, which we saw in that story. How much money do these kids have? And how much are they drinking? I mean, we heard about the bottle of vodka. What sort of quantities are we talking about kids drinking at 12 and 13?
STEPHANIE LENGA, POINT ZERO YOUTH SERVICES: In terms of the money, I guess it depends on, obviously, their background but particularly I guess in the Eastern Suburbs or the more affluent suburbs kids are being given quite a substantial amount of money, sometimes $50 or $100 for the night, parents not asking where it's gone. So that's a lot of money to be able to spend on alcohol and other drugs.
JENNY BROCKIE: And how much are they drinking?
STEPHANIE LENGA: In terms of how much they're drinking, yeah, as Rebecca said, it can be a whole bottle of vodka. We've seen them carrying around wine caskets and drinking the whole thing. So obviously they're sharing it but they're reaching a point where they're passing out and needing to go to the hospital.
JENNY BROCKIE: Do you think it's any different to the way it's always been, what's happening at the moment?
STEPHANIE LENGA: I think that kids are drinking younger, that's what happening. They're starting a lot younger. As the video showed, they're starting 12, 13. And that's a problem. In terms of how much they're drinking, I don't think that that's changed.
JENNY BROCKIE: Bruce, I'd like to thank you very much for joining us tonight. You lost your teenage son some years ago now in Melbourne after he drank particularly strong alcohol at a friend's house. What was it and how did he get it?
BRUCE CLARK: It was something called imitation vodka essence. We believe it was approximately 70% by volume in alcohol. It's now off the market. But a 375ml bottle at the time cost $5 because it was considered a food additive and therefore wasn't taxed.
JENNY BROCKIE: And how old was your son?
BRUCE CLARK: Lee was 15.
JENNY BROCKIE: And what happened?
BRUCE CLARK: He was on his way to an alcohol-free concert that our local council was sponsoring. Apparently because of the weather his friends he was intending to meet didn't turn up and he met up with some other boys that he knew from school who had this stuff back at the house. And he went back with them.
JENNY BROCKIE: And he was only drinking for a really short time, wasn't he?
BRUCE CLARK: They were apparently there for about half an hour. And they left there, went back to McDonald's. Most of group were in a pretty bad state and they were asked to leave. They were hanging around the front of McDonald's. Lee couldn't… he could barely stand up, he was falling over in puddles of mud. It was a very wet, cold night, middle of August. And the majority of the group announced that they were still intending to go to the dance and Lee said, “Look, I'm not well, I want to go home.” So he left. They left him to walk home alone.
JENNY BROCKIE: And he took a short cut.
BRUCE CLARK: He took a short cut behind our local shopping centre, got roughly 300m from where he was last seen and collapsed in the paddock.
JENNY BROCKIE: And was found what, a day and a half later?
BRUCE CLARK: A day and a half later, Sunday afternoon.
JENNY BROCKIE: How did they get this alcohol in the first place?
BRUCE CLARK: It was bought by the mother of one of his friends.
JENNY BROCKIE: Gosh. And what happened to the mother as a result of this?
BRUCE CLARK: She was charged with supplying alcohol to minors, the two boys, and she was subsequently fined $200 in the Bacchus Marsh Magistrates Court.
JENNY BROCKIE: How did you feel about all of that? About that whole..
BRUCE CLARK: Well, there's a lot of issues around this. And one thing on the alcohol itself, it was unlabelled and it was labelled as an imitation, so in some aspect, although she knew she was buying alcohol, she didn't know what she had. Secondly, she supplied alcohol to two kids, not her own children, to two other kids, they were 15 years old, Lee's mates. Why she felt that was OK, I just do not know and I just still don't understand it. It's destroyed a lot of my faith in the trust you place in other parents.
JENNY BROCKIE: And how do you feel when you hear discussions about alcohol and look at those teenagers?
BRUCE CLARK: I just see those kids out there and yeah, it just burns. It really hurts. But the thing that I really want to get across is no-one was charged with supplying alcohol to my son. They can't be charged in Victoria because he obtained that alcohol in a private house. So in Victoria, then and still, it is legal to supply, effectively, a lethal dose of alcohol to anyone else's child in a house.
JENNY BROCKIE: And you'd like to see that change?
BRUCE CLARK: We've been campaigning since 1999 and getting absolutely nowhere with our State Government.
JENNY BROCKIE: Gordon Broderick, you're from the Spirits Industry Council. A lot of the young kids are drinking spirits, as we've heard. We've heard about vodka and we hear about all sorts of other premixed drinks, a lot of which taste like lolly water, frankly. Isn't that giving young kids a taste for spirits?
GORDON BRODERICK, DISTILLED SPIRITS INDUSTRY OF AUSTRALIA: No, I don't think so. I mean, premixed spirits have been around for 30 years. The incidence of them, the consumption has increased considerably in the last couple of years from a very small base. They're not creating new drinkers, what we're doing taking from existing spirit drinkers, or from beer drinkers. And a lot of people…
JENNY BROCKIE: How can you say you're not creating new drinkers? I mean, these kids start drinking things like Passion Pop and stuff, they're not existing drinkers.
GORDON BRODERICK: They were drinking something else before. The National Drug Household survey, which surveys 20,000 homes every three years, show that the incidents of young people drinking – and they're not taking it up at an earlier age and they're not drinking at any more than they were over the last 15 years.
JENNY BROCKIE: But they're drinking at very risky levels. I mean, we hear story after story about these kids drinking large amounts of alcohol, large amounts of vodka, large amounts of mixed drinks.
GORDON BRODERICK: Yes, and that's absolutely extraordinary. They must go home intoxicated. What must their parents be saying when they come home in that state or when they don't wake up the next morning? I can't conceive how anybody can drink a bottle of vodka.
JENNY BROCKIE: So you feel no sense of responsibility about the fact that they're drinking the premixed drinks a lot that your industry supplies and creates?
GORDON BRODERICK: They're not drinking them any more than any other beverage. I don't see the beverage as a problem.
JENNY BROCKIE: Tanya, you wanted to say something?
DR TANYA CHIKRITZHS: The most recent Australian secondary school survey of alcohol, that's 2005, showed that in actual fact among 12- to 15-year-old children – this is a survey of schoolchildren, it doesn't include those who aren't in school at 15 – but among those schoolchildren, the proportion of current drinkers who drink at risky and high-risk levels is higher than ever, and that what they're drinking has changed. And what they're drinking, their drink of preference now is premixed beverages. So they're increasing the amount they're consuming and they've swapped to premixed beverages.
JENNY BROCKIE: Gordon.
GORDON BRODERICK: The fact that they're drinking premixed spirits, there's no more alcohol in a can of bourbon and cola or a vodka premix than there is in a can of beer or in a wine sparkling… small sparkling wine.
JENNY BROCKIE: But it tastes a lot less like alcohol.
GORDON BRODERICK: Well, I remember when I was growing up we used to mix our own. We'd buy vodka and a flagon of orange juice. And that's much more dangerous because people were putting more alcohol in. With the premixed spirit, at least you're getting a measured nip of spirits.
JENNY BROCKIE: Geoff Munro, you lobby for tougher regulation of the industry that Gordon's part of. Is he right when he says that premixed drinks in regulated amounts are better than kids mixing their own?
GEOFF MUNRO, COMMUNITY ALCOHOL ACTION NETWORK: I have to disagree with Mr Broderick because the new generation of premixed drinks, what we call super strength drinks, contain up to 2.7 drinks in a single can, and that's particularly bourbon and cola. And we heard from the girls you interviewed earlier that they're drinking Woodies, which one is one of those brands. No adult, I don't think, is going to buy a can of drink that contains nearly three standard drinks in it when the police tell us we should be drinking no more than one standard drink in an hour. Now, those cans seem to be designed to cater to the people who want to get off their face as fast as possible. And the industry is responsible for producing those products and it just refuses to accept responsibility for the results. The results are quite predictable, we've seen them tonight.
JENNY BROCKIE: Steve Quinlan, I know you've banned drinks called Jaeger Bombs in your hotel. Now, why have you banned that particular drink? And tell us what it is.
STEVE QUINLAN: I guess I was agreeing with the gentleman over here. That drink was designed to be drunk quickly. It's a mix of a liqueur and an energy drink so, you know, it's kind of an up and down in the one glass, if you like. But we saw increased bad behaviour
JENNY BROCKIE: Around that particular drink?
STEVE QUINLAN: We did an analysis on a time frame. We just went, “Well, OK, between this time and this time, things seem to get a little bit sort of untidy,” so we had a look at the sales and these Jaeger Bombs were quite prevalent in, you know, that time period. And I just decided, going back to my earlier argument in that we don't want them to be there for two hours and, you know, drink as many drinks as they can. We like them to spread out the experience and we can control the behaviour better. And so we just took the step to ban them.
JENNY BROCKIE: Let's talk a little bit about how much people drink. Maria and Julie Kendall, you're from Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. How much do you drink on a night out?
MARIA KENDALL: Probably about 10 or 12 drinks maybe.
JENNY BROCKIE: What sort of drinks? 10 or 12 a night?
MARIA KENDALL: Generally it would be vodka and orange.
JENNY BROCKIE: 10 or 12 vodkas a night? And how much would you spend on alcohol?
JULIE KENDALL: I spend about half my pay on alcohol just because it's a culture where I live. I live in Kalgoorlie but I work in Leonora, there's nothing else there.
JENNY BROCKIE: So how often would you drink that much in a week?
JULIE KENDALL: Probably twice a week I drink that much and then I drink throughout the week two or three other nights.
JENNY BROCKIE: And how much would you drink on those other nights?
JULIE KENDALL: Two, three, four, five, anywhere there. Depends on, you know, what's happening.
JENNY BROCKIE: And do the boys drink as much as that? As much as the girls?
MARIA KENDALL: No, not generally, no.
JENNY BROCKIE: Why is that? I'm just interested in why the girls drink so much.
MARIA KENDALL: Pass. You would have to ask boys why they can't keep up with us. Honestly I don't know.
JULIE KENDALL: I suppose a lot of it could be that I don't actually pay for all of my drinks. You know, like I'll drink some that I pay for and other times people will buy me a drink, so they'll buy themselves one and me one – there's an extra drink. You know, like so that could add to it, I suppose.
JENNY BROCKIE: How much do other people here drink? And I'd like you to be honest about this. I wonder how much Shane? Where's Shane? How much do you drink, Shane?
SHANE DEWER: Well, in a night I can drink in excess of 20 drinks, in a night.
JENNY BROCKIE: What would they be, those 20?
SHANE DEWER: Beers, most of time.
JENNY BROCKIE: 20 beers in a night?
SHANE DEWER: Yeah, yeah. Over a long period of time, starting in the early afternoon and, yeah.
JENNY BROCKIE: How often would you do that?
SHANE DEWER: Maybe once a fortnight I'd do that, yeah.
JENNY BROCKIE: And the rest of the time?
SHANE DEWER: I don't really drink during the week at all.
JENNY BROCKIE: So you're a binger?
SHANE DEWER: Yeah, yeah, just when I get the opportunity to.
JENNY BROCKIE: Sharyn, what about you? How much do you drink?
SHARYN KRUGER: Generally if I just go to a pub or something like that, it will just be a couple of glasses of wine, but if I go out for a big night, it could be up to 10 drinks.
JENNY BROCKIE: Up to 10? There's a consistent pattern emerging here, with the girls especially, around 10. Duane, what about you?
DUANE CAREY: On an average night if I'm going out with friends socially, maybe about six beers. On a bigger night I might have up to about 12, that's schooners of beer. But I find for me that it doesn't matter how long I'm out, once I've hit about 12 beers that's saturation point so I pretty much level out from there.
JENNY BROCKIE: I'm not surprised! 12 beers. That's saturation point?
BILL HEALEY: I think you've got to realise that in terms of per capita consumption of alcohol, Australia drinks less today than what we did in the '80s. So while we may be drinking in more concentrated sittings, in actual fact we consume less per capita today than we did 25 years ago. And we've actually increased or improved our position relative to other countries.
JENNY BROCKIE: OK, this is not an improved picture, I'm feeling, in this room right now, though, in terms of the amount we're drinking and the recommended amounts. Ian Webster, I'd like you to tell us once and for all what is the safe level of drinking for men and for women.
PROFESSOR IAN WEBSTER: Well, if the people who have already spoken about their drinking patterns came to me, I'd be very alarmed, But for someone who's drinking quite regularly, we would say for a woman that two standard drinks per day is low risk and as soon as you start getting above that you start increasing the risks to your body and to your mind and to your brain. In men, we would say four standard drinks a day for those who are drinking regularly. And even under those circumstances, we would say to those people you should have at least one alcohol-free day a week.
JENNY BROCKIE: Now, standard drinks, this is what interests me and this is what interested our whole office when we started looking into it. Hold up that wine glass and show us what a standard drink is. Can you hold it up?
PROFESSOR IAN WEBSTER: That's a standard drink.
JENNY BROCKIE: So that's a standard glass of wine? So two of those for a woman a day?
PROFESSOR IAN WEBSTER: Yes, that's 100ml of wine. Of course it would be different with fortified wines, a smaller volume, and for spirits and of course for the regular glass of beer that's normally served, that's on average one standard drink.
JENNY BROCKIE: Can I get you to pour that 100ml of wine into that bigger glass there, which is a glass that a lot of people might be a little more familiar with than the baby one we've had a look at? Can you just pour?
PROFESSOR IAN WEBSTER: So that's the one at home or in the restaurant and this is 100 ml of red wine. Hardly touches the sides.
JENNY BROCKIE: Hold it up for us. So that, everybody, is a standard drink. And a woman can have two of those and a man can have four.
PROFESSOR IAN WEBSTER: The idea of standard drinks is a very important idea. We can make a judgment about the risky drinking just from the volume that they're drinking. And of course we can talk to people about riskier driving. If you drink six standard drinks within a 2-hour period, you're very likely to have a blood alcohol level above the 0.5…0.05, it will be 0.08. So if the people who are presenting here tonight about their drinking patterns, they certainly couldn't drive home and they certainly would be at risk for other perhaps precipitous events that they might get involved in.
JENNY BROCKIE: Can I point out to people at home, by the way, that we didn't choose this audience because they all drank 10 standard drinks. They are actually a cross-section of the community that we've chosen. We just happened to ask everyone how much they drank. And what I want to ask you now, all of you, is a show of hands for how many people have an alcohol-free day a week? OK, well that's a good thing. Gordon, you put your hand up, I'm surprised. I'm surprised. Do you have an alcohol-free day every week?
GORDON BRODERICK: Mostly because I have to drive somewhere so I don't drink when I'm driving.
JENNY BROCKIE: John Crozier, you're a trauma surgeon. Have you seen any changes since 24-hour licensing has become more common, or have you seen any patterns at all that you're alarmed by?
DR JOHN CROZIER, TRAUMA SURGEON: Jenny, over many years in many of the States in Australia, as a medical student all the way through to current practising trauma surgeon, I've been concerned, I guess, with the frequency with which alcohol will be a part of somebody who's injured presenting to the hospital. In the acute presentation, we frequently aren't asking the question, “Have you been drinking? When did you start? When did you stop? And where did you last drink?” So we actually across Australia don't get as clear a snapshot of what is really going on as Tanya's information. Nevertheless, the consistent message is that with a lot of injury, there is a significant relationship with alcohol.
JENNY BROCKIE: In a moment we're going to look at the influence of the alcohol industry and how we can best deal with the growing problems of alcohol abuse. Now, I'd like to talk a little bit about alcohol advertising at this point. Gordon Broderick, the alcohol industry often talks about being responsible and the need to be responsible, and you sit on the Alcohol Advertising Standards Board. There are clear guidelines about linking alcohol to sexual or social success in the advertising and targeting alcohol ads at children. Can you explain to us what you're not allowed to do in advertising for alcohol, or not supposed to do.
GORDON BRODERICK: There are about 10 different clauses, Jenny, ranging from showing people engaged in driving, water sports or in any hazardous activity. You're not allowed to show them drinking under those circumstances. You're not allowed to show that consumption of alcohol leads the sexual business or social success.
JENNY BROCKIE: Let's have a look at a couple of ads. I'd like to have a look at this one first. This is an ad for James Boag's beer. No link to sex there?
GORDON BRODERICK: Well, it depends on how you want to talk about that, quite seriously because, you may well snigger, but that advertisement was subject to a complaint that Geoff Munro lodged and it was adjudicated by the adjudication panel – which is headed up by the Honourable Professor Michael Lavarch who's a former Australian attorney-general.
JENNY BROCKIE: And what did they find about that ad, given that alcohol isn't supposed to be linked to sexual success?
GORDON BRODERICK: What they found is the person – There is no indication of sexual success there. There's no… the person's not shown consuming alcohol, there's no other person in the advertisement.
JENNY BROCKIE: She's got a glass in her hand.
GORDON BRODERICK: With respect, Jenny, I'm just telling you what the independent panel found.
JENNY BROCKIE: Is that sexual failure, is it?
GORDON BRODERICK: The code doesn't prohibit the use of sex, you can be sexy in an advertisement. It's a prohibition of showing that the consumption of alcohol leads to sexual success.
JENNY BROCKIE: Alright, let's look at another ad. This is, I think, an ad for Tooheys. No appeal to children there?
GORDON BRODERICK: My comments on that would be inappropriate because that matter has been complained that ad's been complained against in the last 20 days and adjudication hasn't been handed down yet.
JENNY BROCKIE: So it is being looked at?
GORDON BRODERICK: Absolutely.
JENNY BROCKIE: What do you think about this, Geoff?
GEOFF MUNRO: I think this particular ad looks as though it's been filmed in Toyland. And it's an extraordinary advertisement from an industry that says it will not promote alcohol to young people. I cannot believe that that ad won't appeal to young people. I think it will attract them and it will brand the product in young people's minds and their consciousness.
JENNY BROCKIE: Bill Healey, according to an analysis of the Electoral Commission's figures, in the seven years up to 2005 in NSW alone, the hotel industry gave just under $3 million to the ALP. What do you get back for giving that kind of money to a political party? What does the industry get?
BILL HEALEY: Well, I suppose we give political donations to both sides of politics because that actually gives you the ability to discuss issues of relevance to them. In relation to NSW, during that period there's been the introduction of gaming. There's been the introduction of zoning arrangements in relation to developments in the tourism sector. There's been a whole lot of issues in relation to the regulation of food standards and alcohol.
JENNY BROCKIE: So it buys you influence on issues? That's what you're suggesting.
BILL HEALEY: Well, I think the issue about why people make contributions to political parties means that…it does mean that you can discuss issues of concern with them, whether that's influential or not. I mean in NSW in particular we have ICAC so the level of influence you can have is quite limited.
JENNY BROCKIE: But you can't talk to them without giving them money?
BILL HEALEY: It's an issue of access. It varies from major companies also provide money. I mean some of that is in relation to dinners, it's in relation to major conferences. We recently attended the Labor Party conference as well as we'll be attending the Liberal Party conference. So it's a common practice for a lot of business groups to make contributions to political parties because it does provide access to discuss issues of relevance. Whether that buys influence or not, that's another question. Certainly from our point of view it's primarily focused on access.
JENNY BROCKIE: Geoff Munro.
GEOFF MUNRO: I think the program is entitled Under the Influence and we're sitting here wondering why the industry is allowed to produce those super strength drinks knowing that young people favour them, knowing the damage they're doing. We're wondering why the alcohol industry is allowed to regulate its own advertising. We've seen the result there. I think our politicians must be under the influence of the industry because they are just not taking notice of anything that we're saying.
JENNY BROCKIE: Well, I would actually like to point out that we did very much want to have a government representative here tonight. We invited the NSW Premier and four of his ministers given that NSW has more of these licences than any other State, as well as two other State Labor ministers to join us on Insight tonight. None of them would come on the program. Ian Webster, I know that you support a proposal to ban political donations from the liquor industry. Why?
PROFESSOR IAN WEBSTER: Well, I belong to non-government organisations – the Ted Knoff Foundation, the Alcohol and Drug Council and some other groups. We don't have any money which we can use to pay for influence or access to politicians. We're a bit like David fighting Goliath. When there's a powerful industry with lots of money, lots of access involving alcohol, clubs and hotels and gambling, it's a very powerful influence. And I think as a general principle in a civil society, we should be looking very carefully at political donations and I think we obviously should make them public, like they do in the United States. And I'm very concerned about the access that money buys to political influence.
BILL HEALEY: Can I respond to that? Because I've run two industry associations, one the retail industry and one the hotel industry. I had just as much access when I was running the retailers because both industries employ a large number of people, we're critical commercial activities in regional towns. So we'd have the access because of the nature of our business and the contribution our business has made to community.
JENNY BROCKIE: So why spend $3 million then?
BILL HEALEY: That's an issue for the branches. I mean, I have to say that you keep coming back to 24-hour trading and saying that this is a problem with abuse of alcohol when we've already seen large number of underage drinkers who are getting their alcohol through their parents and you're blaming the hotel sector when this is a much deeper community problem. And I think the..
JENNY BROCKIE: I don't think anyone doubts, Bill, that it's a deeper community problem and that the issue with alcohol goes far greater than hotels but there is certainly enough suggestions from people who have done work in this area that there is a connection between incidences of violence and longer trading hours for it to warrant discussion. Ian, just a quick comment from you, we're going to have to wrap up.
PROFESSOR IAN WEBSTER: It is about our culture of alcohol. And I've looked very carefully at all the budgets of State governments, of federal governments over many years and the word 'alcohol' virtually never appears as a masthead of any program. They'll invest in suicide prevention – most appropriate – they'll invest in a drug strategy but they'll be very proud to say they're dealing with this illicit drug or that illicit drug – and fortunately tobacco got up there – but alcohol hardly ever appears as a masthead of any government commitment. So we must ask a question as to why this is happening. It seems to me that governments in a sense are denying the problem in our society. It's a major social, major medical harm that's occurring in our country and it just hardly gets the headlines in government circles.
JENNY BROCKIE: George Newhouse, you're a member of the Labor Party. You're running against Malcolm Turnbull, I think, in the Federal seat of Wentworth. Will you be taking money from the local alcohol industry or from the alcohol industry for your campaign given your concerns about what's happening in your area?
GEORGE NEWHOUSE: I haven't taken any money from anyone at this stage and I don't plan on taking any from the hotel industry.
JENNY BROCKIE: OK, and what do you think of the idea of political donations from the hotel industry? Is it a good or a bad idea? Your own party takes them.
GEORGE NEWHOUSE: I'm not responsible for the party's policies but I will say this, the hotel industry has a weight of resources behind what they're doing and when we as local councils see them in court, they've always got a bevy of barristers, they've got QCs. The whole system does seem to be weighted in their favour. I'm not suggesting it's for one reason or another but the fact is there's profit to be made, there's a lot of money at stake and the community does seem to suffer and come off second best.
JENNY BROCKIE: Gordon, what do you think the industry could be doing that it isn't doing now?
GORDON BRODERICK: Well, the industry's recently taken a step to fund DrinkWise Australia and we've put agreed to put in $10 million a year for the next five years to establish this independent body to look at how we can change the drinking culture in Australia. What we have to do is make being intoxicated as socially unacceptable as drink driving.
JENNY BROCKIE: Geoff Munro.
GEOFF MUNRO: Jenny, the industry doesn't have to fund DrinkWise. All it has to do is advertise appropriately. It's already spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year advertising its product. Why not simply advertise in a way that promotes responsible drinking, which is what the industry says it wants to do.
JENNY BROCKIE: Final comment from you.
BILL HEALEY: Well, firstly I don't think you've established just how regulated our industry is, particularly at the retail side. We've got very strong penalties if you sell to people under the age of 18, we've got regulation to prohibit us serving intoxicated people and it's already a restricted product. I mean, you just can't open up a retail outlet and sell alcohol.
JENNY BROCKIE: Has a pub ever had its licence taken away?
BILL HEALEY: There have been instances where pubs have been forced to shut for three or four days as a result of not complying with their licences, yes.
JENNY BROCKIE: Three or four days.
BILL HEALEY: In certain circumstances. But generally most of our.. I think most of our hotels regularly attempt to do what they have to do. So we recognise we've got to be part of the solution but the broader problem is as a community that accepts intoxication, and that's the biggest challenge we've got.
JENNY BROCKIE: Ian, a final comment from you?
PROFESSOR IAN WEBSTER: Clearly I think what we're all saying is we've got to change our relationship as a society with alcohol, change the way we drink. And I agree the idea of being safe and drinking responsibly and being concerned about intoxication is at the top of the list but it's only at the top of the list. There are many other issues we have to deal with.
JENNY BROCKIE: And probably many other programs we could do around those issues too. Thank you all very much for joining Insight tonight. Great to have you here.
The 360-page document into the February 7 disaster has been downloaded more than 20,000 times since its release on Monday.
As of Wednesday, users had downloaded over 300 gigabytes of data – the equivalent of downloading 270 DVD movies or watching 2,200 hours of YouTube clips.
That kind of internet traffic for a government report is considered “phenomenal,” says Quentin Fogarty, a spokesman for the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.
The interest came mainly from Victoria, but users have also flocked to the site from as far away as America, the United Kingdom and across Europe.
In total, nearly 30,000 unique users from 65 countries have visited the site over the past few days.
The internet traffic exploded in the hours after the report’s release, forcing the commission’s computers to push out data at a rate of over one gigabyte nearly every two minutes.
In the first four hours of the report being posted, over 100 gigabytes of data was downloaded.
The commission’s IT department was expecting the surge in internet traffic and no computers crashed during the bandwidth surge, Mr Fogarty said.
Residents have also been getting paper copies of the report by calling a government information line, but no data on how popular that method has been is available.
The commission’s report into the February 7 disaster made 51 recommendations, including changes to the “stay or go” policy to emphasise the safest option in a fire is too leave early, or risk death.
The Royal Commission’s hearings will resume on Monday.
While there was a tense standoff between police and demonstrators at one event and a single arrest, the protests were largely peaceful as more than 5,000 police and troops patrolled the city.
Video: Hyde Park protests
Have you got photos of cladshes at APEC? Send your photos to [email protected]
Audio: Businesses suffer during APEC
Activists say the security clampdown for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit had forced them to get creative when making their point, as authorities had restricted traditional activities such as marches.
Without doubt the cheekiest protest was an event called "Bums for Bush", where anti-war organisers say they wanted to lay down the bottom line for visiting US President George W. Bush over the war in Iraq.
They failed to get the 2,000 behinds, or 4,000 cheeks, required to set the world record for mooning but said they made their point with a "21-bum salute" for Bush, with one posterior for every government represented at the summit.
Letters painted on some of the bottoms spelled out "bums not bombs", raising cheers from about 450 onlookers.
"We want to put Bush on his arse," mooning protester Jeff Halliday says as he buttoned up his trousers.
"It's a serious issue but it helps to have a laugh about it."
A group of surfers at Sydney's iconic Bondi Beach kicked off a series of protests by groups concerned over a range of causes, including climate change and the Iraq war, or simply unhappy with Bush's presence Down Under.
About 75 surfers, many wearing wetsuits to ward off the spring morning chill, gathered on the Bondi sands at sunrise around a huge banner demanding APEC endorse binding targets for reducing the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
Greens senator Kerry Nettle maintained the beach theme when she held a press conference in the heart of Sydney's financial district flanked by 21 supporters dressed as surf-lifesavers.
Ms Nettle says police had initially banned her event, even though it is not near the three-metre (nine foot) fence that has been built through the middle of the city to create an exclusion zone for visiting dignitaries.
"The police operation is overkill," she says.
"I'm glad the police, albeit belatedly, saw sense and allowed this peaceful event to proceed."
Veteran against war
Former US marine Matt Howard shares Ms Nettle’s sentiment.
“You’ve literally locked down your whole city, it’s unbelievable. Sydney is Australia’s signature city, but you can’t even go through half of it. “
“There are more police officers here than there are Australian troops stationed in Iraq.”
Mr Howard has been brought to Sydney by the Stop the War Coalition to speak about what he witnessed serving in Iraq.
Mr Howard says the security surrounding APEC is the tightest he’s ever seen.
“I’ve marched on the capitol building itself throughout the White House lawn.
“We have a rich tradition of protest in Washington DC and I’ve never seen anything like the lockdown we’re seeing right now in Sydney.”
The government declared a special public holiday Friday to keep most people out of the centre of town as the presidents and prime ministers whizz about in huge motorcades.
The protests were mostly been peaceful, but there was a minor scuffle when some pro-Bush demonstrators arrived, resulting in a man being arrested and charged with assaulting police.
Have you got exclusive photos of security at APEC? Send your photos to [email protected]
If Hansen, a rider with the Lotto-Belisol team, finishes the race in Madrid on September 15, he will be the first rider since Spaniard Marino Lejaretta in 1991 to complete seven Grand Tours in succession.
Completing two Grand Tours in a single year is considered an exceptional feat for any rider and in cycling history fewer than 40 have managed to finish all three in one season.
Hansen finished the 2011 Vuelta before completing the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Tour of Spain in 2012 and 2013.
“You do get in a routine,” Hansen, a 32-year-old from the Gold Coast who won a stage of the Giro in May, told Reuters when asked if he has ever woken up unsure which Grand Tour he was in.
“But if you can handle the routine, you can handle the Grand Tours and you can handle the racing.
“I like doing big blocks of racing and this year so far so good. I had a good season last year, so I thought ‘why not keep going and do the same again?'”
With three chunks of nearly a month each spent on the road in 2012, Hansen admits to getting homesick for his adopted European base in the town of Frydlandt nad Ostratici in the Czech Republic.
“I spend a lot of time there between the Grand Tours.” he said.
“And before the Giro d’Italia I got a month off. That’s a great thing about the team, they don’t insist on me doing a lot of races as well as the big stage races, so I’m happy doing it.”
Hansen would like to equal Lejaretta’s record next year.
“I already know I’m doing the Giro d’Italia in 2014, I hope I’ll get a place in the Tour de France as well, and I love the Vuelta,” he said.
“The order of the races, given the Vuelta’s more low pressure, does help. Other riders I’ve talked to who’ve come here for the first time are amazed by how relaxed it is in comparison to the Tour de France, how easy it is to get in a breakaway.
“But we take this race very seriously, our team has had a guy in the break every day and I enjoy it. I just hope that the day the breakaway goes, that it’ll stick – a stage win here is what I’d really like. That, and getting to Madrid.”
(Editing by John Mehaffey)
Organisers are rushing to complete the venues for the first Winter Games to be held in Russia, a traditional winter sports powerhouse, before the symbolic start of the Games run-up with the torch lighting at the site of the ancient Olympic Games in Greece on September 29.
With Russia in the eye of a media storm over its recently adopted anti-gay propaganda law that has triggered protests across many countries, work at the Fisht Olympic stadium and the other Games venues continues unabated as workers put the finishing touches to the stadiums and shape the surrounding areas.
“The preparations are going well and everybody is working incredibly hard to make sure that we reach all of our targets,” Games chief Dmitry Chernyshenko said just days ago. “We have received brilliant feedback at every stage.
“The test competitions have passed successfully, which was proved by positive feedback,” he added.
Organisers tested the Olympic venues during the 2012-2013 winter season, with Sochi hosting major events in all 15 winter disciplines, with more than 3,000 athletes taking part.
The Games are divided into two clusters with the city’s Sochi Olympic park and the mountain cluster of biathlon, Alpine skiing and sliding venues some 40 kilometres away.
Sochi will see the Olympic flame land in Russia on October 7 before kicking off what is expected to be the longest torch relay for any Winter Olympics.
The Olympic flame will cover some 65,000 kilometres across Russia and will visit more than 2,900 towns and settlements, carried by more than 14,000 bearers.
The Games will open on February 7 and run to February 23.
(Writing by Karolos Grohmann, Editing by Ossian Shine)
“I swam .
.. in squeaky-clean, ethical fashion,” Nyad told a conference call late on Tuesday that included journalists and fellow marathon swimmers, some of whom have publicly questioned aspects of her challenging journey.
“I honoured the rules,” Nyad said at the start of the conference call. “I was an ethical swimmer.”
A triumphant Nyad, 64, staggered ashore in Key West, Florida, on September 2, after having swum about 53 hours, to become the first person to complete the treacherous crossing without a shark cage.
Nyad’s swim was her fifth attempt and only successful one. The highly publicized crossing sparked a social media debate about whether her journey meets the requirements to break the world record.
Some have questioned how Nyad was able to more than double her pace about halfway to Florida, and have wondered whether she was towed at any points by tracking boats.
Marathon swimmer Evan Morrison was among a number of members of the long-distance swimming community who publicly questioned Nyad’s feat on social media.
“In reading through Diana’s crew’s live-blog, trying to suss out how this incredible swim happened, I was struck by how little information there actually was,” Morrison wrote on the online Marathon Swimmers Forum.
“These details matter because Ms. Nyad is claiming – and the media reporting without fact-checking – a new world record for longest-distance nonstop, unassisted ocean swim,” he said.
Nyad’s pace quickened significantly about halfway through the swim – from her average 1.5 miles per hour (2.4 kph) to nearly four miles per hour (6.4 kph) – a swift pace that continued for about six hours.
She and her supporters have said that she got a significant boost from a favourable Gulf stream current – a contention that independent experts who study the ocean currents in the region agreed with on Tuesday.
Mitchell Roffer, who runs a Melbourne, Florida-based ocean fishing forecasting service, said Nyad caught a swift, north-moving current, and then turned east out of the current at precisely the right moment.
“To me, it was an oceanographic lotto that she hit,” Roffer told Reuters. “You can’t get much luckier than she did.”
“The current, which was pulling her in north-northwestern flow, was as perfect as you could get,” Roffer said. “It would explain why her speed was faster during that period.”
John Bartlett, one of Nyad’s navigators, said on the call that Nyad’s speed for nearly six hours – beginning about halfway through the trek – averaged 3.97 miles per hour (6.39 kph).
Nyad, who was patient and in good spirits while answering numerous detailed questions from colleagues and reporters, said that during “this record-breaking swim I never touched the boat, not even an inadvertent touch.”
But after more than two hours she grew briefly exasperated with her inquisitors. She said that in the eight days since the race, she has had little time to review all the media coverage.
“First of all I was trying to feel some joy,” she said. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do all my life. Most of that joy stopped when, you know … you always expect some questioning but my own peer group, instead of coming to me and asking me questions went to the media.”
Asked why she didn’t better prepare to document the 53-hour swim with more video cameras that could have answered sceptics’ questions, she said that after four failed attempts, most of the world had given up on her.
“My own family were like, ‘Please Diana, just give this up,'” she told reporters. “Nobody wanted to be out there with us.”
She said she wished some of those now requesting so much documentation to prove she broke a record were there before she left Cuba.
At the start of her most recent attempt, she said mockingly to sceptical journalists, “I didn’t get any emails from any of you … saying, you know, you really should have someone from the Obama administration” trailing to document the journey.
The comment drew laughter, but Nyad then grew more serious, and it became clear she was hurt by the scepticism of colleagues in the tiny global community of marathon swimmers.
“I never ever knew that we would not be trusted,” she said.
The previous record was held by Australian Penny Palfrey, who attempted the same crossing without a shark cage in 2012. Palfrey swam about 80 miles (129 km) in 41 hours before adverse currents forced an end to the attempt.
(Reporting By Chris Francescani; Editing by Tim Gaynor and Eric Walsh)
McIlroy sits 36th in the standings, 2,984 points behind leader Tiger Woods, but with 2,500 points available for a win in the FedExCup playoff stages and a re-set before the fourth and final event, positions can be improved dramatically.
Any player in the top five going into the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta from Sep. 19-22 knows that victory there would secure the FedExCup title and the eye-popping bonus of $10 million.
While the odds are against him, McIlroy is not going to throw in the towel just yet. He has this week at the TPC Boston, where he defends his title, and then the BMW Championship in Chicago in two weeks’ time to try to transform his season.
“What I’m trying to get out of this week is just trying to move up in the FedExCup,” world number four McIlroy told reporters on Thursday.
“Going into the little week break that we have next week, playing myself into a nice position, then I can go into Chicago and play well and maybe get myself into the top five in the standings … so I actually have a chance to still win the thing going into Atlanta.
“I know I’ll need to produce a couple of really good finishes to do that, but I feel like I’m playing well enough to do that.”
McIlroy finished tied for 19th at The Barclays last week after sharing eighth place at the PGA Championship but believes he has turned the corner after finishing outside the top 40 at the U.S. Open and missing the cut at the British Open.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong,” the Northern Irishman said. “I’ve played pretty well at times this year. Five top 10s (on the PGA Tour), and I feel like my game is definitely running into a little bit of form.
“I guess I’m a victim of my own success at times. But I know how well I can play … and I want to get back to that level,” added the double major winner.
“All I want to do is just keep trying to improve my position. I’d love to make a big jump this week, and obviously jump into the sort of competitive places going into the Tour Championship.”
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)
Goalkeeper Iker Casillas and playmaker Xavi, who helped Spain win the tournament in Nigeria 14 years ago, reached 150 and 127 caps respectively in Friday’s 2-0 World Cup qualification victory against Finland in Helsinki.
Casillas drew level with former Germany midfielder Lothar Matthaeus in 12th place on the all-time list, while Xavi climbed to second on Spain’s appearances ranking above former keeper Andoni Zubizarreta.
Casillas and Xavi play for bitter rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona but have remained firm friends and have been key performers during Spain’s glittering run since their triumph at Euro 2008.
At Euro 2012 last year, they became the only nation to win consecutive European crowns with a World Cup in between and along with the hosts will be among the favourites at the World Cup finals in Brazil next year.
Xavi, 33, remains a fixture for Barca but the 32-year-old Casillas is going through something of a crisis at Real after losing his place in the starting line-up under Jose Mourinho last season.
Mourinho’s successor Carlo Ancelotti has left him on the bench in Real’s opening three La Liga matches, opting to stick with Diego Lopez, who was bought from Sevilla as cover when Casillas broke a bone in his hand in January.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, who was in charge at Real between 1999 and 2003, has firmly backed his captain and included him in Helsinki on Friday even with Barca keeper Victor Valdes on excellent form.
The defensive-minded Finns barely tested Casillas but he responded well to the sole moment of real danger, saving with his legs when the ball ricocheted off Sergio Ramos towards goal in the 12th minute.
Del Bosque said he had been more concerned about how to break down Finland’s defence than who would play in goal.
Any one of Spain’s three keepers – Casillas, Valdes and Napoli’s Pepe Reina – was perfectly capable of playing, he told reporters.
“At this stage of the season it’s not a problem that Iker hasn’t played,” he said.
“He comes from a pre-season during which he had minutes on the pitch, he is working well in training and he was at an excellent level in our latest sessions. We will see what happens in the future.”
Speaking to Spanish radio about the keeper situation in the run-up to the Finland game, Del Bosque suggested Casillas had lost his starting place at his club because of his role in trying to ease tension between Spain’s Real and Barca players.
Several “Clasicos” in recent years were marred by brawling, accusations of refereeing bias and play-acting and Del Bosque said Casillas had played an important part in making sure the national team was not seriously affected.
“We are obliged to remember some things and we cannot forget what happened because they were difficult moments for the national team and Iker helped a great deal,” he said.
Spain’s comfortable victory in Finland means they have a three-point lead over France at the top of qualification Group I with two of eight matches left.
They play their final two games at home to Belarus and Georgia next month.
(Editing by John O’Brien)
Napoli also made it two victories from two games earlier in the day, overcoming Chievo 4-2 in Verona with two goals from in-form Slovakian Marek Hamsik and Gonzalo Higuain’s first Serie A strike.
Two superb finishes from Vidal in the 14th and 26th minutes looked to have put the game beyond Lazio but German striker Miroslav Klose pulled a goal back to give the visitors some hope.
Mirko Vucinic extended Juve’s lead with a deft finish four minutes after the break before Brazilian midfielder Hernanes was sent off for a second booking following a handball.
Argentine Tevez provided a neat fourth from 20 metres with 10 minutes to go to finish off Vladimir Petkovic’s side.
“This is the Juve that (coach Antonio) Conte wants. We had the same aggression that has marked us out over the last two years,” said defender Leonardo Bonucci after providing two assists.
Alberto Paloschi twice levelled for Chievo in Verona after Hamsik, with a superb long-range strike, and then Jose Callejon, with a tap-in, had put the visitors ahead.
Rafa Benitez’s Napoli seized control in the second period and Hamsik’s close-range volley after a defensive mix-up gave them a deserved lead after 64 minutes.
Argentina international Higuain sealed the points six minutes later when he took Lorenzo Insigne’s through ball and squeezed home his first league goal since joining from Real Madrid in the close season.
“We let them back into the game twice but I knew that if we scored another that we would win,” said Hamsik after taking his tally to four goals in Serie A this season.
AC Milan and Fiorentina are in action on Sunday, the latter travelling to Genoa and the former hosting Cagliari.
AS Roma play their first home game of the season against Hellas Verona with the Curva Sud of the Olympic Stadium closed due to racist chanting from hardcore fans at the end of last season.
(Editing by Stephen Wood)
Sturridge, signed from Chelsea for 12 million pounds ($18.
71 million) in January, was deemed surplus to requirements among Roman Abramovich’s squad of A-list players, but has scored the winner in both Liverpool’s Premier League clashes.
His goal against Aston Villa on Saturday was a combination of deft skill and sublime balance and followed on from his match-winning strike against Stoke City last weekend, a fizzing drive from distance.
Since leaving Stamford Bridge he has been employed in the central striking role that he has always craved, but was frequently made to forego at Stamford Bridge and has now scored 13 goals in his 18 appearances for the Merseyside club.
A player who visibly thrives on confidence and wears the full gamut of emotions on his sleeve, Sturridge says his transformation is a simple matter of being given a platform on which to perform.
“I am just playing my normal game – I have matured a little bit in terms of confidence and playing regularly,” he told Sky Sports on Saturday.
“This is how I have been as a kid, but I’ve now been given a chance to show what I can do in a first-team environment.”
Toure, a title winner with both Manchester City and Arsenal, was released on a free transfer when his deal at the Etihad Stadium came to an end.
Having spent a lot of last season kicking his heels on the bench, he has brought experience to a Liverpool backline shorn of leadership following the retirement of Jamie Carragher at the end of the last campaign.
His presence at the heart of the Liverpool defence was particularly noticeable against Villa where he stood up to the physical threat of powerhouse Christian Benteke and came out on top to help Liverpool keep their second clean sheet in a row.
“He (Toure) has been brilliant,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said.
“Obviously you know Jamie Carragher well and it was very important to get someone in of a similar ilk.
“We need that experience. He’s 32, he’s fit and he’s got that winning mentality and he’s been very influential in the changing room.”
After Liverpool’s win against Stoke on the opening weekend, Rodgers spoke of a renewed sense of optimism within the dressing room.
On Saturday, he spoke about the team’s tactical discipline to subdue a Villa team that had scored three times against Arsenal last weekend and troubled Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
“It was a terrific win for us. I thought first half we had good control of the game and scored an excellent goal,” he said.
“I thought we were calm on the ball in the first half. We were fluid in our game, there was good movement.
“We had half an idea on controlling it, the balance of the team when we have the ball, because if you open up too much against these, they can really hurt you with their pace on the counter-attack.
“I thought our positioning was good, mentality was good and tactically we fell back into our shape very well in the first half. Second half, of course you expect a bit more pressure from them. But, all in all, although Simon (Mignolet) had to make a couple of good saves, it was about the three points today and we got the three.”
Next up for Liverpool is a League Cup clash with Notts County on Tuesday, before they host traditional rivals Manchester United at Anfield next Sunday in what is likely to be the first real test of their top-four credentials.
($1 = 0.6413 British pounds)
(Editing by Rex Gowar)
“The number of positive cases has largely increased compared with that of last year, which sent us a warning,” anti-doping chief He Zhenwen told the Xinhua news agency.
The 11th version of the inter-provincial National Games attracted 15,133 athletes from 46 teams competing in 362 events in 33 sports in Jinan, Shandong Province in 2009.
The quadrennial event, first held in 1959 in Beijing when Communist China was isolated from most of the rest of the sporting world, remains the major way the government appraises the work of provincial sports authorities.
Funding for the provinces is largely based on their success at the Games, which has encouraged cheating through doping and falsifying the age of athletes in the past.
“There always will be someone who risks doping for unfair advantage when the return is lucrative,” He added.
“History taught us that the National Games could well be the reason for cheating.”
China’s women’s 100 metres champion Wang Jing was banned for life after she tested positive for the performance-enhancing metabolites epitestosterone and testosterone after winning the 100m race at the 2009 Games in Jinan, Shandong province.
In 2005, Sun Yingjie, a former world championship bronze medalist, tested positive after finishing second in the 10,000m — a day after winning the Beijing Marathon.
Eleven athletes failed dope tests, while three field athletes and a swimmer pulled out after “abnormal” results in the 2001 edition.
This year’s Games will be held in Shenyang, the capital of the northern province of Liaoning – one of the country’s sporting powerhouses – from August 31-September 12.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Nick Mulvenney)
The 21-year-old, who cost Barca 57 million euros, came on as a second-half substitute and nodded in at the back post as the champions came from behind to draw 1-1 at King’s Cup winners Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup first leg on Wednesday.
Barca coach Gerardo Martino has tried to keep the pressure off the youngster, calling for patience from fans, and has only used him as a substitute in last Sunday’s La Liga opening 7-0 rout of Levante and against Atletico.
The Argentine brought Neymar on in the 59th minute at the Calderon with the side trailing against an abrasive and well-organised Atletico, and he shrugged off the animosity of the home crowd to head the equaliser.
“I score very few goals with my head so for this reason I value them more,” Neymar told reporters.
“I’m pleased with the goal because it helped my colleagues. The important thing is to help the team.”
Neymar arrived at the Nou Camp with a reputation as a flashy dribbler, and touted as a player who would help divert attention and defenders away from World Player of the Year Messi.
However, his first few performances have been relatively subdued as he has appeared keen to show himself to be a team player rather than a show pony.
By scoring an important goal in testing circumstances – Atletico had bettered Barca for best part of an hour – Neymar also displayed a predator’s eye for goal.
Messi was withdrawn at halftime in the Calderon, more as a precautionary measure because of bruising Martino said, and is to undergo further tests on Thursday.
He could be sidelined on Sunday (1900 GMT) or rested ahead of the Super Cup second leg next Wednesday.
FIRST OF MANY
While Neymar could be said to have helped Barca forget about Messi, it was Cesc Fabregas who actually replaced the Argentine, and the in-form former Arsenal captain, along with Neymar, helped turn the game.
“It’s good news he (Neymar) has scored. It will be the first of many,” Fabregas said.
Barca visit a Malaga side rebuilding under Bernd Schuster and who lost their opening fixture 1-0 at Valencia, while Atletico are at home to Rayo Vallecano on Sunday (1700).
Diego Simeone’s side were impressive 3-1 winners at Sevilla last Sunday and caused Barca plenty of problems in the Super Cup, taking the lead though Spain striker David Villa, who netted his first competitive goal for the club against his former team mates.
“David was really motivated and he scored a great goal,” Atletico midfielder Mario Suarez told reporters. “He had other chances too and I am sure he will score a lot more for us.”
Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid have to wait until Monday (1900) for their next outing, when they visit Granada and a ground where they slipped to a surprise 1-0 defeat under Jose Mourinho last season.
Real will be without midfielder Xabi Alonso, who has broken a bone in his foot, and all eyes will be on Ancelotti’s choice of goalkeeper.
Diego Lopez, made number one by Mourinho toward the end of last season, was preferred for their league opener at home to Real Betis last weekend, when they scraped a 2-1 victory, leaving fan favourite and captain Iker Casillas on the bench.
Ancelotti hinted that the first-choice keeping slot was still up for grabs, but if Lopez is chosen again it could be a major blow to Spain’s number one as the countdown to the World Cup finals in Brazil gathers pace.
(Reporting by Mark Elkington, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
The world number two turned on a master class of power and precision as he brushed aside Croatia’s Ivan Dodig 6-4 6-3 6-3 to lead a trio of Spanish men into the fourth round.
French Open runner-up David Ferrer also moved through, beating Mikhail Kukushkin 6-4 6-3 4-6 6-4, while a third Spaniard, Tommy Robredo, ended the Cinderella run of British qualifier Dan Evans, winning 7-6 (6) 6-1 4-6 7-5.
Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki and the 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova were among the high-profile casualties in a women’s draw packed with surprises.
Four of the eight women already through to the fourth round are unseeded and three of the eight are Italian.
Camila Giorgi, who had to come through the qualifiers to reach the main draw, sent Wozniacki packing with a 4-6 6-4 6-3 win on Arthur Ashe Stadium while Flavia Pennetta knocked out the former U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5 6-1. Roberta Vinci also won for Italy.
Nadal has been in great form in the past month, winning warm-up tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati. He has not dropped a single set in getting to the last 16 at Flushing Meadows and believes he is still improving.
“I played better today than in the previous matches. (That’s) always a positive thing,” he said.
Nadal’s next opponent is Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber, who beat towering American John Isner 6-4 3-6 7-5 7-6 (5), with Roger Federer looming as a possible quarter-final opponent.
While Nadal cruised into the next round and most of the men’s results went as expected, a feisty Victoria Azarenka dropped her first set of the tournament before recovering to book her place in the last 16 of the women’s draw.
A finalist last year and one of the favourites to win the title this season, the world number two and reigning Australian Open champion overcame a shaky start to beat Alize Cornet of France 6-7(2) 6-3 6-2.
The Belarussian was given a tough workout from Cornet and allowed her frustrations to boil over when the umpire ordered a point she had won be replayed.
“That was the most ridiculous thing there is,” Azarenka said.
Former world number one Ana Ivanovic had to dig deep to avoid joining the exit queue. The Serbian was on the brink of defeat in her match against American Christina McHale before recovering to win 4-6 7-5 6-4. She plays Azarenka next.
“I know what to expect,” said Ivanovic. “I really want to play against the best and challenge myself, because I’m ready to take them on.”
Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion and seventh seed at Flushing Meadows, fell 6-3 6-0 to American wildcard Alison Riske.
The U.S. Open is the only grand slam where Kvitova has failed to at least make the quarter-finals and the Czech said she was unable to play near her best after contracting a virus.
“Unfortunately I was lying in the bed yesterday and I had a fever,” Kvitova said. “I tried to play, tried to fight. But my body wouldn’t let me fight.”
Riske burst into tears after her win. The 23-year-old, who still travels with a security blanket that was given to her on the day she was born, has had a long road to her first fourth round appearance at a grand slam.
She first tried to qualify for the U.S. Open in 2007 and had never won a main draw match until this year. Now she is through to the last 16, and facing a showdown with Daniela Hantuchova, who saved four match points in her 3-6 7-5 7-6 (4) win over Israeli qualifier Julia Glushko.
“The blankie story is out,” Riske said. “I’m used to it now. I can’t deny it now. It’s getting smaller by the week. It can fit in the palm of my hand.”
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)