Wednesday afternoon's news in under 5 minutes.

We’ve rounded up all the latest stories from Australia and around the world – so you don’t have to go searching.

1. Study finds smoking “epidemic” likely to kill two out of three Australian smokers.


Two out of three smokers, or about 1.8 million Australians, will die because of their habit, the first large-scale Australian study on the link between smoking and mortality shows.

The study, published in the international journal BMC Medicine, found the smoking “epidemic” reduced a smoker’s life expectancy by 10 years on average.

Scientists from the Sax Institute in Sydney and the University of Melbourne followed 200,000 smokers over the age of 45.

Two out of three smokers will die because of their habit, new research suggests. (Image: iStock)

Professor Emily Banks, the lead author of the study, said smoking was a “very, very powerful addiction” and she hoped the findings would give people the information they needed to really consider whether they should continue to smoke.

Related content: Watch: This is how far behind the rest of the world is to Australia on Tobacco laws. 

“Even though we’ve been incredibly successful at tobacco control in Australia we still have 2.7 million smokers,” Professor Banks said.

“And 1.8 million of those smokers will die from their habit if they don’t quit.”

Those who smoke 10 or more cigarettes per day double their risk of a premature death.

The three main conditions that kill smokers are cardiovascular disease, cancer and chronic lung disease.

Professor Banks said those who smoked 10 cigarettes a day doubled their risk of premature death and that figure was much higher for heavy smokers.

The study found those who gave up the habit before the age of 45 could mostly avoid the major risks associated with smoking.

This story was originally published by the ABC, and was republished here with full permission.


2. Julie Bishop has described Myuran Sukumaran’s mother begging her to save her son’s life.

Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, has told of a moment when the mother of Bali Nine inmate Myuran Sukumaran begged her to save her son from execution.

Ms Bishop said Raji Sukumaran hugged her “so tightly I could hardly breathe.”

“She begged me to do all I could to save the life of her son whose own life had been rehabilitated in such an extraordinary way,” Ms Bishop told The Today Show.

“No person could fail to be touched by the anguish of the families.”

Myuran Sukumaran’s mother Raji, pleaded with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to save her son from the firing squad.

The news comes as Lawyers launch another appeal to overturn the court’s decision to not overturn President Joko Widodo’s decision not to grant clemency to Sukumaran and fellow death row inmate, Andrew Chan.

The foreign minister also said the government was still pushing to have their executions stayed.

“We continue to appeal to President Joko Widodo’s sense of generosity and his sense of forgiveness and hope that he will consider these clemency pleas and that there will be a stay of execution,” she said.

3. Google is set to ban sexually explicit content from its Blogger platform.

Google has announced that, as of next month, sexually explicit content or “graphic nudity” will be banned from its blogging platform. has reported, the changes come as part of an update to Google’s policies which state any blogs containing explicit content can remain on the platform but will be made “private,” so they are only accessible to those who have been given the link.

Google is pushing to bar nude content from its subsidiary companies.

Nudity will still be allowed on the platform “if the content offers a substantial public benefit, for example in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts.”

*Related content: How to keep your kids safe online.

If users don’t want to continue using the Google blogging platform ‘Blogger’, they can export their blog to another platform.

The update follows changes to Twitter’s Vine platform policy, which banned explicit videos last year.

4. A one-year-old baby will go to prison with his mother

A one-year-old boy is going to jail with his mother in the Northern Territory.

Former prison guard, Sarah Rudd, recently had her sentence extended from two-and-a-half to five years, for involvement in a prison drug ring.

A one-year-old boy will go to prison in the Northern Territory. Image via iStock

Her baby will spend nine months of this sentence in prison with his mother, The Herald Sun has reported.

The Court of Criminal Appeals found there were “appropriate arrangements” at the prison to accommodate the child.

Rudd was convicted for engaging in corruption while working as a guard at Berrimah prison.

5. Scott Morrison has flagged changes to disability welfare.


Social Services Minister Scott Morrison says wholesale changes to the welfare system are “necessary”, but he has signalled they will be introduced slowly and in stages.

A wide-ranging review commissioned by the Government has called for a simplified payment system and tighter eligibility conditions for disability support payments.

Mr Morrison said the proposals could be implemented in the medium to long-term.

Social Services Minister, Scott Morrison, says changes to welfare could be implemented in the long term.

“They do point a way forward, I believe, for the next generation of necessary change in this area,” he said at the National Press Club (NPC).

“The changes proposed and the way to achieve them are not revolutionary but medium to long-term change that can be achieved incrementally.”

However, he acknowledged the Government would be battling a widespread lack of “appetite for change” and called for an “upgrade” in the political debate about levels of welfare support.

Related content: Report: Child welfare payments should be dependent on vaccinations.

“My concern is that right now there seems to be no appetite for the change that is necessary,” he said.

“Whether that’s in the community, the parliament, the Opposition, some members of the cross bench even.

“But unless this does change, unless we are able to move to a better system that better reflects the needs of the next generation and even this one, then change – even incremental change – will not be possible.

“We don’t have to make this change overnight. Right now we can still manage and define the pace of change but only if we commit to it now.”

The Opposition said it will look at the report, however Labor leader Bill Shorten emphasised the importance of Australia’s welfare safety net in protecting the poor.

This story was originally publiushed by the ABC, and was republished here with full permission

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