Teens spend ‘$30 a week on alcohol’

HALF NSW’s teenagers believe their friends spend up to $30 a week on alcohol, a new survey has found. And 16 per cent of teenagers say the weekly grog spend is even higher.
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The thirst for alcopops also shows no sign of drying up, despite the Federal Government’s tax hike. Commissioned by NSW Health, the research will add to the controversy over alcopops and whether governments are fuelling moral outrage against youth drinking for political purposes.

Professor Sandra Jones from the University of Wollongong studied 1263 respondents aged between 12-17 years as part of research into the impact of ready-to-drink spirit beverages on young people. Teenage drinking patterns replicated other national surveys of the same target group, she said, with just under 90 per cent reporting they had consumed alcohol.

More than 40 per cent said they had consumed a drink in the past four weeks.

She said the survey results suggest alcohol consumption is seen by adolescents as normal behaviour, even condoned by parents. More than 60 per cent of young people believe alcohol use is common among their friends.

Up to 70 per cent of teenagers surveyed believe their parents support them trying alcohol, although fewer than one in 10 approve of them getting drunk.

“Ready-to-drink beverages remain popular and extremely affordable for young people despite the tax increase this year,” Professor Jones said.

“The research found drinking rates in this country among young people are very high … girls drink them because they feel they can control the rate of consumption and they like the taste. Boys drink them because they are cheap and easy to drink quickly for getting drunk.”

Health Minister John Della Bosca said the NSW Government has to tackle teenage drinking but he rejected suggestions the Government is creating a moral panic for political purposes. He said alcohol abuse is a genuine issue because it places pressure on busy emergency departments and can lead to chronic disease.

Mr Della Bosca said the Government has launched an interactive website to raise awareness among young people and their parents about the risks of binge drinking.

“This situation is serious enough for us to start looking at a major cultural shift in our attitudes towards alcohol and the way advertisers and the alcohol industry promotes alcohol products,” he said.

[email protected]南京夜网.au PARENTS BEWARE A survey of 12 to 17-year-olds reveals:

* Almost 90 per cent have consumed alcohol at least once;

* More than 40 per cent had consumed a drink in the past four weeks;

* 64 per cent believe alcohol use is common among their friends;

* Males prefer cola-based drinks; females, milk- or cream-based drinks.

Ogilvy’s elegance sadly blown away by the breeze

THE best players make sport look easy. Think of Mark Waugh gliding that shot off his pads or Roger Federer’s grace on the court. And think Geoff Ogilvy, Australia’s top-ranked golfer.
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He has a fluent motion that allows him to hit the ball long without apparent effort – enough to make an amateur puke.

More than that, the world No.11 has become the consummate professional in recent years. There is nothing that he does that especially well by the high standards of the players around him. There is nothing he does poorly.

And the Victorian has the X-factor – he knows how to win.

The pre-tournament favourite started yesterday needing to do something special and it soon seemed possible.

He began the third round on the 10th tee and birdied, then hit a beautiful trap shot at the 13th to set up another birdie and holed a four-metre putt at the par-three 15th for another.

At the par-five 16th, he attacked the flag, cut left beside a deep swail. His pitch landed, almost held up on the edge of the green but disappeared into the collection area, leaving him a tricky chip. Ogilvy whipped out his lob wedge and hit the flag with his shot, making a safe par.

At the long par-three 17th, his tee shot disappeared into one of the hollows beside the green.

He chipped it close and made the one-metre par putt.

Then at the 18th he conjured a shot of exquisite beauty, a short iron approach that pierced the wind, landed a metre from the cup and stopped. Another birdie, and just 32 shots for his first nine holes, and Ogilvy was back in the tournament at five-under-par.

That he is out of contention tonight at three-under is due to a particular ailment. Ogilvy has failed to capitalise on Royal Sydney’s par-fives.

And with the wind whipping up, last week’s PGA champion drifted further down the leaderboard .

Let the good times roll

Australia will look back on this year as a pretty successful one for the Wallabies. We can look to the future with optimism and, although things can quickly change, we are heading in the right direction on the international stage. We managed to win three out of five Tests on the spring tour – plus the win against the Barbarians – which gave us a tally of nine from 14 for the year. The good news is that we’re a team on the way up and those stats could very well improve.
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There is a lot of upside to the Australian team at the moment. Robbie Deans, Michael Foley and Jim Williams have done a great job. When I came into the job, the first thing that struck me was the lack of depth in the team. In the modern game, that’s a killer, particularly when players are involved in rugby for up to 10 months of the year. You have to operate on a squad system, something that has taken Australians a while to get their head around. It enables players to perform fresh, while the coaches can put some pressure on players who are competing for spots. We’ll continue to see the Wallabies team being tweaked from week to week in the years to come. Many people dub it the "rotation system" but it’s all about putting the best team on the field. There is little difference between some players and freshness, state of mind and form all come into the reckoning.

We’ve seen the likes of Drew Mitchell, Benn Robinson, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Hugh McMeniman and Stephen Moore all become genuine Test players after taking some time to settle in. The first-year success of Peter Hynes and Dean Mumm has been encouraging. Not everyone can be like John Eales, Jason Little and Tim Horan, who were genuine Test players from the moment they stepped into the international arena. In the modern game, for some it can take a year or two.

Our front-row stocks are stronger than ever, with the likes of Ben Alexander, Robinson, Sekope Kepu and even Al Baxter, who at the age of 31 still appears to have a good year or two left in him. One underrated player for us over a number of years has been Matt Dunning. He had a good year while adapting from loose to tight head. We should hope his recovery from his Achilles injury is swift.

In the lock position, it’s fair to say that Nathan Sharpe, at the age of 31, appears not to be one of Deans’s favourites. However, I think he’s had an outstanding year. When you’ve got guys like Mark Chisholm, McMeniman, James Horwill and Mumm if needed, it’s a good sign. All bar Sharpe and Baxter, they are not older than 27 and all have a number of big years left in the game. With David Pocock ready to take over from George Smith and Phil Waugh, and the emergence of Richard Brown sitting behind Wycliff Palu at No.8, our back-row stocks also look strong.

Our forward improvement has been out of sight. When we talk about forward stocks, we’ve still got the likes of Greg Holmes and Stephen Hoiles trying to force their way into the Wallabies squad. What has been required in the past few years has been a greater focus on technique and skill, which is happening.

There is also promise in the backs. With Sam Cordingley gone, Luke Burgess has come in. He is a talented young man who has struggled for consistency. He can produce a 10/10 performance one week and then throw in a 2/10 the next. He’s definitely more suited to the short-arm penalties of the Super 14, where his running game comes into play. But, at times, his kicking and passing have come under scrutiny at Test level. Like fellow 25-year-old McMeniman, he has had an outstanding first year in the big time after suffering a spate of injuries. If Burgess can string a couple of seasons together, he can be the Australian halfback for a long time. Deans will be scouring the Super 14 for Burgess’s back-up.

At five-eighth, Matt Giteau is still Australia’s best and most dominant back. His goalkicking this year has been magnificent under pressure. Still, I’m not convinced he’s as comfortable at No.10 as he can be but time will solve that. Deans also has Berrick Barnes, Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale as back-up options. For 20 years, the Australian five-eighth scene was dominated by Stephen Larkham and Michael Lynagh. When one of those was hurt, it was always a struggle. We remember the agonising decisions Rod Macqueen had to make taking the punt on Larkham because of the lack of depth. It turned out to be a masterstroke. While depth is always an issue, that’s a position we’ve got covered now.

In the midfield, Stirling Mortlock and Ryan Cross are 31 but you would expect them to play for another couple of years. Cooper and Barnes are also comfortable at No.12, with Ashley-Cooper having an outstanding game against the Barbarians in that position. He’s an outstanding midfield option for the future. We always thought his best position was 13 or 14 but he showed in the Barbarians game that he’s more than comfortable at 12 and he’s playing with a tremendous amount of confidence. Another player on the way up.

Mortlock has grown tremendously as a captain. He fits the job at the moment. I remember talking to Eales about the captaincy and he said it’s something you have to work as hard at off the field as on it. Walking down the tunnel, Mortlock was always the guy you wanted to play with but he had some work to do away from the paddock. That’s something he’s worked at and he’s done a pretty good job this year.

With a good Super 14 season, Australian supporters can look positively to the future. We’ve got some good times ahead.

For sale: absolute waterfront … on a king tide

DEPENDING on which bit of the city you were in, the arrival of biannual king tides yesterday brought either a mood of great buoyancy, or a sinking feeling.
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For Brad Mooney, a member of the Cooks River Motorboat Club it was a chance to take to Bay Street, Tempe, in a boat and have “a bit of a laugh and a galah about” in view of the club founded in 1917 opposite the spot where Captain James Cook’s anchor was found. Mr Mooney was pretending “to set out a new course in the back street” for the racing season.

He said he attracted a bit of attention from a “couple of old guys looking over the fence”.

But while it was all plain sailing in Tempe, the king tides arrived at Kurraba Point, Neutral Bay, with a crash when residents were given only minutes to flee two blocks of units on Saturday after high tides and a strong chop driven by southerly winds demolished a seawall.

“They said you’ve got two minutes,” said Brian Walton. “I asked when can I come back. They said you might not be coming back. And when I tried to get in a bit later, they wouldn’t let me in.”

Overnight the 2.1 metre king tides, abetted by strong winds, made small work of the waterfront soil and grass, and between 7am and 11am yesterday a further 1.5 metres of foreshore subsided into the harbour, leaving a tangle of rubble and exposing one of the building’s cracked concrete foundations.

“It was all soil and rock this morning but now it’s been washed away,” said Dan Begley, 29, whose unit is directly above the subsidence. “I can fish directly into the harbour from my balcony.”

The seawall had been in danger of collapse for up to two years, but residents said some owners had been slow to act. “If there’s anything good at all that can came out of this, it’s that the strata groups have to learn to be more proactive and less reactive,” Mr Walton said.

Seawall falls in ‘perfect storm’

THE COLLAPSE of a harbourside seawall in Neutral Bay has put all owners of Sydney waterfront units on alert that they must be prepared to dip into their pockets to maintain the whole property, or risk those properties dipping in value, if not dipping into the harbour itself.
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The seawall, at Kurraba Point, collapsed on Saturday, and police ordered an immediate evacuation of adjoining blocks of units at No. 21 and No. 23 Baden Road.

Yesterday a further metre and a half of waterfront slid into the harbour in front of No. 23, exposing that building’s cracked concrete foundations, and threatening the integrity of the shared waterfront.

"What we have here is a lesson for strata groups all around the harbour," said Mark Bryant, who owns a unit next door.

"Just as it takes five or six things to go wrong for a plane to crash, a few different things had to go wrong for this to happen. We had the king tides, the wind and all the rain. But there’s drainage issues here, and leaky pipes, which gives you a potential for subsidence. And there’s concrete spoilage, which you get all around the harbour [and] affects a building’s structural integrity."

The seawall, which crumbled before 2.1 metre king tides and a strong southerly chop, had been in a serious state of neglect for a long time. "It was at an angle leaning out toward the water for at least the past eight months," said Dan Begley, 29, who rents a unit in No. 23.

"Last week I heard one tenant say it was only a matter of time before it went in. And then it did."

"We’d been trying to do something about the seawall for two years," said Mark Foley, 44, who owns a unit in No. 23.

"One of the owners had said that fixing it was too dear. He owns 10 units and the levies are a lot to pay, so it got held up. But two months ago we exchanged contracts and I’d been at them to get started. And the agreement was they were going to start on Monday."

Mr Bryant said strata owners needed to act for general good rather than procrastinating out of self-interest.

"The lesson here is [that] executives of a body corporate need to accept responsibility and act on issues in a timely fashion.

"Waterfront property is expensive, and it costs money to maintain it and to maintain its value. But sometimes you get people who are just investors and don’t want to spend. And sometimes you get a complacent executive. It was a perfect storm of things for a perfect mess."

Mr Begley’s unit in No. 23, the worst affected of the two blocks, is situated right above the subsidence. "I can fish directly into the harbour from my balcony. The water has gone under the concrete, under the flooring of the building, so it’s all hollowed underneath … the concrete block is cracked and it looks like it’s going to fall into the harbour."

Two separate structural assessments were made on Saturday, one by a North Sydney council engineer and another by an engineer contracted by Body Corporate Services, the company that manages strata for the adjoining blocks. Both engineers declared the buildings safe.

The king tides, an annual feature of Sydney summers, were expected to peak even higher last night at 2.2 metres. With more strong winds in the offing, residents were anxious.

Despite assurances that the knowledge the buildings are founded on secure bedrock, there was still room for anxiety, and a little humour, too.

Mr Foley said he phoned the engineer contracted by Body Corporate Services yesterday morning after he saw how much more land had slid into the harbour. "They told me that if the engineer had said it was safe, then there’s no need for him to come out again. But he should see it … I wish I hadn’t sold my surf ski now."

Dad’s the word on discrimination

MEN have been prevented from taking on greater responsibilities at home by the Sex Discrimination Act, the legislation designed to break down gender inequality.
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A review of the legislation has found it should be overhauled to reflect the changing workplace and people’s needs for greater flexibility to allow them to meet caring responsibilities for children and aged or sick relatives.

The Federal Government is considering a three-stage overhaul of the Sex Discrimination Act as recommended by the Senate’s legal and constitutional affairs committee. Its chairwoman, the Labor senator Trish Crossin, said that although there was widespread support for the act, now nearly 25 years old, the suggested changes would ensure it remained "modern and relevant".

The committee heard evidence that men had found it difficult to get flexible working hours. Amending the act would make it easier for men to take action against recalcitrant employers and help speed up the process of achieving equality between men and women, the committee heard. The Productivity Commission has recommended to the Federal Government a system of paid maternity leave with some paid time off for new fathers.

But there is doubt that such a scheme will be adopted because of the Government’s concern about the slowing of the economy.

The existing legislation assumes the person seeking flexible hours is a woman.

Also among the committee’s recommendations is specifically outlawing discrimination against breastfeeding. This is now covered by the more general area of sexual discrimination. Sexual harassment and sex discrimination should also be generally outlawed, the committee recommends, because the current legislation does not cover all circumstances. For example, customers of businesses, volunteer workers and independent contractors cannot be prosecuted for sexual harassment.

The Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, was shocked to hear numerous stories of overt sexual harassment while on a recent tour of the country.

At one workshop she attended, Ms Broderick told the Herald , half the women told of being harassed in their first or second jobs. This included supermarket checkout operators being told to wear see-through blouses or women being asked for sex by their bosses.

Labor members endorsed a suggestion by the Australian Human Rights Commission that there no longer be separate pieces of legislation covering discrimination in such different areas as sex, race and disability.

Instead, they see merit in the possibility of a National Equality Act encompassing all areas.

Greater powers for the Sex Discrimination Commissioner are also recommended. These include giving the office the power to investigate complaints and initiate legal proceedings. Parents are under constant strain to balance their work and family commitments, a struggle likely to get worse as the economy slows and workers fear for their jobs.

The Federal Government promised to introduce "right to request" laws that would allow parents to have one year of unpaid leave after the birth of a child.

Parents would also then be able to request flexible work arrangements with the onus on the employer to demonstrate why such conditions would then not be possible.

Boom to bust: Rudd’s strip club hits bottom

FOR evidence that nothing is recession-proof, look no further than the imminent demise of that Manhattan landmark and one-time host to the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, the Scores strip club on Upper East Side.
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Scores will not see out the year, its owners have declared, attributing its closure at least partly to the failing economy.

The economy is not entirely at fault. The Scores chain took a big hit this year when its West Side club lost its liquor licence after a police raid resulted in prostitution charges. Undercover police were offered oral sex and "more exotic acts" for $300 to $1100. Authorities are believed to be preparing to revoke the liquor licence of the more prominent East Side location as well.

Scores’s menu of nudity and sex has not always guaranteed its financial success, at least not accounting for the under-the-table cost of forking out for mafia "protection". Scores, which opened on East 60th Street in 1991, sought to trade out of bankruptcy a decade ago after making pay-offs to the Gambino crime family of $1.6 million.

An FBI probe into the extortion resulted in a prison term for John "Junior" Gotti, and the club’s original owners being admitted to a witness protection program until they, too, were jailed on fraud charges.

But until this week Scores had survived the police raids, rezoning attempts to curtail adult entertainment and the killings of a waiter and a bouncer during an early morning party in 1996, when the club was widely regarded as a Mafia hangout.

The club is still promoting its "diamond dollars", which are used in-house to buy lap dances, but the end is near, a

co-owner, Elliot Osher, has told US media.

Even if it was always on the periphery of prostitution and touched by violence, Scores managed to glamorise and even normalise tabletop dancing with a publicity campaign of gossip column sightings of celebrities.

The actors Russell Crowe, Colin Farrell and Lindsay Lohan were reported as regulars in the self-proclaimed "man’s paradise" of juicy steaks, fat cigars and naked women. George Clooney had a birthday party there. Madonna was a regular in its early days.

Rudd was introduced to this masculine fantasy by the Australian editor of the New York Post , Col Allan, in 2003. Rudd was the opposition spokesman on foreign affairs at the time. News of the visit briefly threw Labor’s election campaign last year, although Osher said Rudd left soon after realising the sort of club he was visiting.

Explaining his attendance, Rudd said he had had too much to drink when Allan suggested visiting the club. "With the benefit of hindsight, I should not have gone on for a further drink," he said.

While Rudd escaped unscathed from his brush with Scores, others who stayed longer were not so lucky.

The club has been hit with writs from customers who woke the morning after with six-figure credit card bills.

A Missouri businessman, Robert McCormick, ran up a bill of $370,000 on his corporate charge card in one drunken splurge at Scores. While he did have the help of three friends, McCormick claimed he spent a mere $30,000 and his company claimed he was a victim of fraud. American Express, which paid out on the bill, then sued McCormick for the money.

A Bangladeshi diplomat to the United Nations was recalled home after her husband, Tauhidul Chaudhury, ran up a bill of almost $200,000 at Scores East. For his money, Chaudhury bought bottles of Dom Perignon and Krug and lap dances from a harem of more than a dozen strippers. And he tipped lavishly.

That, supposedly, is an every night occurrence, according to a club spokesman who justified such hefty bills with the claim that high rollers tipped up to $15,000 for dances.

But Chaudhury regretted his generosity and sued the club over the bill, claiming it had taken advantage of his drunkenness.

Still another customer sued Scores over a bill of almost $40,000. Dozens of staff, including a barman and strippers, have also sued the club because management was allegedly raking off a percentage of their tips.

Maybe it is something about Scores’s somewhat seedy location, under the grimy steel stanchions of the Queensboro Bridge, but new owners, without the liquor licence problems confronting Scores management, are already in place to take over the site.

Australian steps down as Britain’s exams chief

RESIGNED: Ken BostonONE of Britain’s most highly paid and powerful public servants, the former NSW education chief Ken Boston, has resigned his £328,000 ($873,000)-a-year post after a chaotic round of national curriculum tests.
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Dr Boston, who began his career as a teacher in Victoria and was in his sixth year at the helm of the British schools testing watchdog, announced that he believed in public officials "taking responsibility when things go wrong".

Thousands of British children aged 11 and 14 received late – or incorrect – Standard Assessment Test results this year after the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority outsourced their administration to an American company, ETS, which signed a £156 million contract for the job. The British Government sacked the company in August.

Known as SATs, the tests are given at the end of years 2, 6 and 9 and are designed to measure children’s progress in comparison with peers born in the same month. The mess led the Government to drop the tests for 14-year-olds and there has been debate about scrapping the tests for 11-year-olds.

An inquiry by Lord Sutherland was launched into the disastrous round of SATs three months ago and is widely predicted to contain serious criticisms of the authority. The report is due to be handed down in London tomorrow.

Dr Boston, 65, was instrumental in delivering many reforms to the NSW education system during the early 1990s under Dr Terry Metherell. He has headed the British authority since 2002.

He said at the weekend that the performance of ETS had been "quite unacceptable" and repeated an apology issued to the 1.2 million students who took the tests and their teachers at the end of the summer term in Britain.

Criticism of Dr Boston has been tough since the disastrous results and he has come under pressure about his salary package, which includes the use of a £1 million apartment in London’s fashionable Chelsea district as well as six business-class flights a year back to Australia. London newspapers have also made an issue of his ownership of a yacht in Sydney.

Dr Boston said in his statement: "I have reflected since the summer on the delivery failure and on the difficulties associated with key stage testing.

"I have always believed in public bodies and public officials taking responsibility when things go wrong. In the light of that reflection and that belief, and in view of the challenges facing the QCA in the coming year, I believe it would be in the authority’s interests to find new leadership."

It is not known whether Dr Boston’s resignation has been considered or accepted by the authority’s board. His contract is due to expire early next year.

Dr John Dunford, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, described Dr Boston’s resignation as a "tragedy" and praised the work he had done at the authority.

Clark talks down Proteas

FAST bowler Stuart Clark has skittled suggestions the world No.2-ranked South Africans represent the greatest threat to Australia’s impressive home record.
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The last time Australia lost a series here was in 1992-93 when the West Indies triumphed 2-1. However, with no Glenn McGrath or Shane Warne in Ricky Ponting’s attack, there is a popular view South Africa mightn’t succumb to the same pressures that have sunk them on previous tours.

Clark, who is zeroing on 100 Test wickets, confessed last year’s siege of a series against India was the toughest time he’d endured since making his Test debut in 2006.

"They’re a strong team, but they’re not unbeatable," he told The Sun-Herald , speaking of the Proteas. "There are quite a few familiar faces [in the squad]; ones we’ve beaten and played against. Some of them have a lot more confidence than the last time we met because they’ve had a little bit of success.

"But I think India last summer was a tough series. It was the toughest I’ve played here. South Africa are No.2 in the world so they’ve obviously done very well. On the previous occasions they’ve been here they haven’t been so successful … but they’ll be tough if they can play as well as India did."

Clark, whose wife, Michelle, gave birth to the couple’s second child, a girl named Sophie, on Wednesday, starts the Test series on Wednesday 10 victims shy of the 100 wickets milestone. While McGrath sweated on his personal wicket tally, Clark shrugged his shoulders when asked about the impending achievement.

"I don’t really think much of it," he said. "There’s been talk of the 100 wickets but at the end of the day it is just a number to me. It’s a personal achievement and it’s not something that’ll affect the team in terms of winning."

Since taking match figures of 9-89 on debut against South Africa, Clark has established himself as a vital member of the Australian attack. After taking 20 South Africa wickets at an average of 15.85 during his debut Test series, he has maintained his consistency and his 90 wickets have come at a skinny average of 22.97, putting him on par with McGrath (21.64).

Yet, the 33-year-old was reluctant to celebrate the type of statistic that sends cricket tragics into a headspin.

"It’s something I don’t think much about," said Clark who has been studying his Masters of Commerce degree at Sydney University. "It’s something I don’t talk about … but I’m as surprised [by it] as anyone."

While Clark might have dismissed any suggestions South Africa were the most serious threat to Australia’s home record, he didn’t follow McGrath’s psychological ploy of predicting a series whitewash. Though, he didn’t need to; the old master was up to his tricks at the SCG during a promotion for the McGrath Foundation.

"South Africa has some quality batsmen and bowlers but I still back our boys," McGrath said before predicting a 3-0 shellacking.

Cricket Australia announced during the week that the third day of the Sydney Test, traditionally known as Ladies Day, will now be called Jane McGrath Day in honour of his late wife who lost her battle with breast cancer earlier this year.

Just what the doctor ordered

A BOX of chocolates and a bottle of wine could be the healthiest Christmas present you get this year, with an increasing amount of evidence that a diet rich in antioxidants can help prevent heart disease.
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Sydney GP and wine historian Phil Norrie has developed his own range of plonk specially formulated with very high doses of resveratrol, a polyphenol antioxidant found in the skin of red grapes.

Laboratory and animal studies have reported anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, blood-sugar-lowering and other beneficial cardiovascular effects of resveratrol.

Dr Norrie, who has a PhD in "Wine and health through the ages" from the University of Western Sydney, has produced a chardonnay and a shiraz under his Wine Doctor label.

The 2006 vintage has more than 100 times the concentration of resveratrol per bottle than a standard white or red wine.

Dr Norrie, of Elanora Heights, said the wine acts as a "vascular pipe-cleaner" by keeping arteries free of fatty deposits that cause heart attack and stroke.

"Wine has been used as medicine for the last 5000 years and we’ve made it healthier by enriching the antioxidants," he said.

After almost 30 years in general practice, Dr Norrie said moderate consumption of resveratrol-enhanced wine could help the incidence of lifestyle diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and dementia.

"Getting people to stop smoking, exercise and lose weight, is a nice idea but in reality it doesn’t happen. Drinking two glasses of wine is realistic, enjoyable and also good for you and I’ve made it even healthier," he said.

At RMIT University in Melbourne, PhD student Indu Singh studied several antioxidants, including cocoa, olive leaf extract and vitamin E – and found they could potentially reduce the risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

She found antioxidant supplementation improved glucose uptake in healthy people and had a positive effect on blood lipid profile (cholesterol and triglyceride levels) and combated oxidative stress-induced cardiovascular disease.

"A diet that includes a good amount of olive oil, nuts and green leafy vegetables – and some high-quality dark chocolate – will help you lower your risk of developing heart disease," Dr Singh said.

However she said the right doses for both healthy people and those with chronic disease were still unknown.

So close: ocean rower misses epic goal and wife

ITALIAN adventurer Alexandro Bellini just wanted to hold his wife, Francesca Urso, in his arms again after spending nearly 10 months alone at sea rowing almost 18,000 kilometres across the Pacific Ocean.
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Mr Bellini, 30, came agonisingly close to completing his epic goal of rowing from Peru to Australia.

Having left Lima in February, he called for help after hitting stormy weather on Friday, about 130 nautical miles north-east of Newcastle.

He had planned to reach Sydney this week.

“I’ve been on the verge of giving up many times but this was one of the lowest I’ve reached,” Mr Bellini said yesterday after being reunited with his wife in Newcastle. “Being away from my wife was one of the biggest challenges. I missed her so much; seeing her again was one of the best moments of my life.”

Mr Bellini docked in Newcastle Harbour aboard a New Zealand-registered tugboat, Katea, at 9.30am.

Ms Urso could not wait for the tugboat to berth and stretched out to hug her dishevelled, thin, bearded husband as the vessel was mooring.

He had been surviving on dried food and desalinated water before his voyage went awry. He had spoken to his wife regularly via satellite phone until last month, when his four-metre rowboat capsized.

Ms Urso, 29, said her husband of just over a year had a “love for the extreme” and would not let his thwarted passage to Australia stop another attempt in the future.

“This is his first time here [in Australia] and, even though not everything went to plan, I’m glad to have him back again,” she said. “We were following his position hour by hour and our meteorologists warned of bad weather, including 30-knot winds. There was no reason to battle the weather.”

Mr Bellini ate pizza, steak, a box of biscuits and peanut butter out of the jar when rescued on Friday night after 296 days at sea.

“Physically he seemed OK but he was very skinny,” Katea’s engineer, John Coulson, said. “He had a huge appetite when we rescued him. We had no idea who he was. We thought he was just some rower from New Zealand who’d got lost.”

Mr Bellini crossed the Atlantic in 2005, rowing from Italy to Brazil, and has crossed Alaska twice on foot. He had planned to row through Sydney Heads and be greeted by a flotilla of spectators.

Australia blamed as progress on new deal fizzles

A CALL-TO-ARMS by former US vice-president Al Gore and a contentious European deal to cut its greenhouse emissions have overshadowed an anti-climactic finale to UN climate talks in Poland.
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Critics said the talks made only tentative steps to a new global treaty.

Promised as a stepping stone towards a post-Kyoto climate deal to be signed in Copenhagen next year, the Poznan talks edged towards conclusion yesterday amid accusations that developed nations, including Australia, had blocked progress on greenhouse targets.

As expected, there was no deal on how to share the responsibility of cutting emissions even though developed countries acknowledged that scientists recommended cuts of between 25 and 40 per cent.

But the go-ahead was given to a number of technical projects, including a fund to help poor countries adapt to climate change, further work on a joint plan between wealthy and poor countries to cut emissions from deforestation and a legal framework for a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, who left early for Canberra and the release of the Government’s 2020 greenhouse target and the final details of its emissions trading scheme tomorrow, said the Poznan summit had been a step forward.

"There have been encouraging signs of momentum," she said.

Much of the momentum came from a rousing appearance by Mr Gore, acting as an unofficial envoy during meetings with ministers and officials, including Senator Wong, after a lengthy briefing with the US president-elect Barack Obama last week.

A Nobel laureate for his work combating climate change, Mr Gore called on world leaders to hold several meetings next year to ensure a new treaty by the December deadline. He said Mr Obama had assured him that combating the "greatest challenge humankind has ever faced" would be a top priority of the new US administration.

Mr Gore acknowledged negotiations were "painfully slow" but noted such positive signs as pledges by Western nations to invest in green jobs and China investing $US600 million ($903 million) in green projects over the next two years.

"I believe that the causes for hope and optimism are greater than the causes for doubt and discouragement and I believe the road to Copenhagen is now clear," he said.

"We have to overcome the paralysis that has prevented us from acting and focus clearly and unblinkingly on this crisis rather than spending so much time on O.J. Simpson and Paris Hilton and Anna-Nicole Smith," he said.

His speech punctuated an otherwise pessimistic mood. Environmentalists were concerned the world had moved no closer to a new climate deal.

Greenpeace International climate campaigner Stephanie Tunmore said little had been done to set up a framework for a new deal. She blamed "the usual suspects" including Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand for not committing to ambitious targets.

The European Union was heavily criticised for watering down its ambitious climate and energy plan by accepting concessions demanded by Italy, Germany, Poland and Hungary to help their big polluting industries cope with the financial crisis.

Rich pickings as Pacific Islander trial bears fruit

SOUTH Pacific Islanders will be brought to Australia to pick fruit in the Riverina because farmers cannot get enough local workers.
Nanjing Night Net

The unskilled workers will come from Kiribati, Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea and will be allowed to stay for seven months under a Federal Government trial seasonal worker scheme.

Farmers will pay half the cost of the air fares and the workers will be paid award wages.

After the initial trial with 100 workers, which organisers hope will begin before Christmas, 2400 seasonal worker visas will be available for Pacific Islanders from July.

The National Farmers’ Federation said there is a nationwide shortage of 22,000 seasonal workers in horticulture alone and bringing in the Pacific Islanders was important to enable farmers to continue producing food.

Federation president David Crombie said the Pacific Islands had a ready, willing and able workforce, happy to make the trek into regional Australia to fill the positions.

"Australian farmers are ready to welcome them with open arms," he said. "They are loath to see another season of fruit rotting on trees."

Australian Workers Union assistant national secretary Ben Swan said there was a recognised shortage of labour in the horticultural industry.

"We are 100percent behind the [Pacific] Islander scheme," Mr Swan said.

He said the workers would get the same pay, terms and conditions as Australians with rates beginning at $14.30 an hour for full-timers.

Mr Crombie said he encouraged Australians to take up any of the 22,000 vacancies.

"This scheme is not a replacement for local jobs; it supplements local labour shortfalls."

Farms at Griffith and Leeton are urgently in need of pickers for valencia oranges and other produce such as melons, pumpkins and onions.

Anna Berry of Summit Personnel said the Pacific Islander scheme had been in the pipeline for some time but the previous federal government had rejected it.

Ms Berry, who was born in Vanuatu, said the problem was that a lot of Australians didn’t want to go to places such as Griffith to work in what they thought was a barren land.