8 Friday news bites + Week in Pics (Sep 16).

Authorities have evacuated areas of Canberra amidst toxic smoke fears from an industrial fire

1. Toxic fire fears in Canberra.

Canberra residents are being warned to stay indoors amidst toxic smoke fears as fire fighters battle a chemical fire at an industrial site in the city’s north.   There are no reports of any injuries, but residents living in close proximity to the Mitchell blaze have been evacuated and others within 300 metres have been asked to stay indoors and close their windows. Some schools will close for the day. Witnesses reported seeing flames and explosions up to 200 metres into the air throughout the night. You can check live updates on the fire here.

2. Ouch. NZ bus driver tells PM Julia Gillard to board the bus for spouses.

At a Pacific Islands forum in New Zealand, a bus driver stopped Prime Minister Gillard from boarding a leader’s bus and told her to opt for the ‘spouses’ bus instead. The mix up was immediately corrected, the driver was not used again during the Auckland Forum and Ms Gillard was later overheard joking about the incident. Do you think she should be offended?

3. FBI told that mainstream Muslims are ‘dangerous’.

Leaked documents have revealed how the FBI trains its agents to treat everyday Muslims. One presentation explains that tendencies towards violence: “may not be a ‘radical’ threat as much as it is simply a normal assertion of the orthodox ideology. “The strategic themes animating these Islamic values are not fringe; they are main stream.”

4. Cleric resigns from the Federal Government’s Health Commission

Monsignor David Cappo, the man chosen by the Federal Government to lead its mental health commission, has stepped down amidst allegations he failed to investigate sexual abuse allegations against a fellow priest. His appointment had been questioned by independent senator Nick Xenophon, who earlier this week named Monsignor Ian Dempsey as the man who allegedly molested the current South Australian Anglican Archbishop John Hepsworth. For the record, Monsignor Cappo rejected “”any suggestion that I or the church handled the complaint by John Hepworth with anything other than proper and due diligence” but he said the matter “has the potential to distract from the important work of the newly formed mental health commission. I cannot allow that to occur.”

5. Is Australia the ‘dumb blonde’ of the world?

Well that’s how the rest of the world might view the land down under, according to business culture expert Patti McCarthy. She said shows like Neighbours and movies like Crocodile Dundee had influenced the world’s perception of Australia, and our laid-back attitude and sport culture had led foreigners to doubt Australia’s corporate power. But she said overseas visitors generally changed their attitudes when they arrived here. “I guess we look great and our lifestyle’s great. People just don’t expect us to have a brain as well,” she said.


6. Abbott’s direct action on climate change would double carbon costs.

A mining and manufacturing lobby group has backed treasury findings that the opposition’s plans to reduce emissions by 5 per cent though domestic-only action would at least double the cost. And that cost could be as much as $1300 a year for the average Australian household, according to the Prime Minister. Tony Abbott has previously labeled the Federal Government’s carbon tax as ‘pointless’ because it allowed companies to buy credits overseas, but the Australian Industry Greenhouse Network chief said the cheapest way to cut emissions was to have flexibility overseas.

The FBI is hunting Scarlett Johansson's phone hacker

7. FBI investigate celebrity phone hackings

Another day, another phone scandal, another nude celebrity photo scandal. This time the victim is Scarlett Johansson. The images, allegedly taken by the Lost in Translation actress herself, appeared on celebrity gossip websites yesterday amid rumors that photos of Justin Timblerlake, taken by Friends with Benefits co-star Mila Kunis, were also leaked by the same hacker. The FBI are investigating who hacked the images from Ms Johansson’s phone after a series of similar incidents involving Hollywood celebrities. The question is, why were the photos taken the first place? Does everyone take nude photos?

8. Laughter really is the best medicine

UK researchers have found that laughing for a period of 15 minutes could increase people’s pain thresholds. The Oxford University researchers separated willing participants into two groups for the study, subjecting  one group to live comedy shows and clips of Mr Bean, and the other to more ‘factual’ footage, like golf tournaments. Pain tolerance tests following found that laughing in a social setting increased participants’ ability to withstand pain by an average of 10 per cent.

News brought to you by Lucy.

And here is the week in pics.