6 Tuesday news bites (27 Sep)

Mark Zuckerberg showed off the new Facebook profiles at a conference last week

1. Facebook tracks your online moves – even when you’re logged out

An Australian technologist has caused a global stir after discovering Facebook tracks the websites its users visit even when they are logged out of the social networking site. Wollongong-based Nik Cubrilovic found out that when you log out of Facebook, rather than deleting its tracking cookies, the site merely modifies them, maintaining account information and other unique tokens that can be used to identify you.

Whenever you visit a web page that contains a Facebook button or widget, your browser is still sending details of your movements back to Facebook, Cubrilovic says. “Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit,” he wrote in a blog post. “The only solution is to delete every Facebook cookie in your browser, or to use a separate browser for Facebook interactions.”

2.Cancer patients die waiting for hospital letters

Cancer patients have been kept waiting so long to receive follow-up letters from their specialists that some have died before the advice arrived at their GPs. A backlog of correspondence needing to be typed up at Westmead Hospital means about 700 people have waited up to three years for the letters to be sent.

In one case, a Sydney doctor received a letter from Westmead about a female patient with advanced skin cancer that had been dictated by a specialist on August 21, 2009, but was not typed up until September 16, 2011. By the time it reached Dr Adrian Sheen the woman had been dead for a year.


Health Minister Jillian Skinner has now ordered a full audit to find out which patients are still alive. She has forced Westmead to hire a host of administration staff starting today and given the hospital three weeks to clear the backlog.

3. Telstra unveils 4G wireless network with double the speed

Australian mobile internet downloads will today at least double in speed as Telstra officially launches the country’s first 4G network.

Telstra’s 4G mobile service will only be available to computers rather than mobile phones, however, and the company says only speeds of up to 40 megabits per second will be “typical” using the new network.

Telstra wireless director Anthony Goonan said the company would not promote the network’s top speeds to prevent unrealistic expectations.


4. Qantas will be hit by more strike action this long weekend

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) says members will stop work at all major Australian airports for one hour at 8am on Friday. Qantas says the strike will disrupt the travel plans of thousands of passengers including those flying to Melbourne for the AFL grand finals, New Zealanders headed to Sydney for the NRL grand final and families travelling for the school holidays.


5. Australian couples spend more than $36,000 on their weddings

Couples are spending an average of $36,200 on their dream weddings, a 6.5 per cent increase on 2010/11, business information analyst IBISWorld said.

Venue hire is the highest cost, followed by wedding dresses, clothing and accessories, and then catering. IBISWorld expects the $942 million spent on wedding dresses and clothing to increase by almost 7 per cent over the next five years. People are spending less on photography, taking advantage of cheaper, digital technologies, but what they save there is simply shifted into other parts of the wedding budget.

Betty White

6. Betty White starts a career in rap music

Just when you thought Betty White couldn’t get any more hip and with the kids, here’s proof: the 89-year-old actress has started rapping.

White has been filming the video clip for the song, in which she holds a boa constrictor while sitting on a throne surrounded by six shirtless body builders as she throws out rhymes including: “I will get you sweaty because I’m the big Betty!” and “I may be a senior but so what? I’m still hot.”

Listen to the song here:


Today’s news bites were brought to you by Nat.

In case you missed it, here’s our fashion favourites from last night’s AFL Brownlow medal count.

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