‘Idiots of the century’ pose, smile inside Queensland croc trap

Four men who swam inside a baited croc trap not far from the scene of a fatal attack are contenders for the “idiots of the century award”, a Queensland mayor says.

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Photos have surfaced of the men swimming around the trap and then sitting inside it, behind a trap door designed to slam shut if a croc takes the bait.

The photos were taken at the Port Douglas Marina, not far from where disoriented dementia sufferer Anne Cameron, 79, was taken by a 4.3-metre croc less than two weeks ago.

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is investigating and the men could each face fines of $15,000 if convicted of tampering with the trap.

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is set to investigate the men who took this picture after getting inside a crocodile trap.Stacy W Clayton/Facebook

One Facebook user, Stacy W Clayton, shared the photos on October 20, with the message: “Only way t (sic) check a croc trap to ensure the live bait stays alive.” It’s unclear if he was one of the men.

Douglas Shire Mayor Julie Leu says she’s stunned by the stupidity of the four, and the council didn’t yet know if they were tourists or locals.

“That’s exactly where you might find a crocodile because that’s were the bait is,” she told AAP on Tuesday.

“These fellows are vying for the idiots of the century award.”

Environment Minister Steven Miles said the men were pictured swimming around the trap, climbing onto it and also venturing inside, where they posed for pictures wearing broad smiles.

“It appears they’ve … swum under a sign that says it’s illegal to tamper with this trap and put themselves literally where we put the bait,” he told reporters.

“I’ve seen some pretty ridiculous things in my time as environment minister, particularly when it comes to crocodiles, but this one takes the cake.”

Ms Leu said the photos were taken close to where Ms Cameron was attacked earlier this month, and while that croc was caught and killed, the area around the marina was a well known croc habitat.

Dr Miles said it was dumb but not illegal to swim around croc traps.

“You can’t make everything that’s stupid illegal,” he said.

But any attempt to interfere or tamper with traps would expose offenders to hefty fines.

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Facebook tests splitting its News Feed

Facebook is testing the idea of dividing its News Feed in two, separating commercial posts from personal news in a move that could lead some businesses to increase advertising.

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The Facebook News Feed, the centrepiece of the world’s largest social network service, is a streaming series of posts such as photos from friends, updates from family members, advertisements and material from celebrities or other pages that a user has liked.

The test, which is occurring in six smaller countries, now offers two user feeds, according to a statement from the company: one feed focused on friends and family and a second dedicated to the pages that the customer has liked.

The change could force those who run pages, everyone from news outlets to musicians to sports teams, to pay to run advertisements if they want to be seen in the feed that is for friends and family.

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The test is taking place in Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia and Sri Lanka, and it will likely go on for months, Adam Mosseri, the Facebook executive in charge of the News Feed, said in a blog post.

Mosseri said the company has no plans for a global test of the two separate feeds for its two billion users.

Facebook also does not currently plan to force commercial pages “to pay for all their distribution”, he said.

Facebook, based in Menlo Park, California, frequently tests changes big and small as it tries to maximise the time people spend scrolling and browsing the network. Sometimes it makes changes permanent, and other times not.

Depending on how people respond, two news feeds could mean that they see fewer links to news stories. News has proved to be a tricky area for Facebook, as hoaxes and false news stories have sometimes spread easily on the network.

Coalition positions for economic fight

Treasurer Scott Morrison has set the scene for a political stoush over the economy, painting Labor’s social justice agenda as “class warfare” and the coalition’s focus as more jobs and higher wages.

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Mr Morrison on Tuesday spoke at the launch of a new Productivity Commission report, which calls for a fresh wave of reform in the areas of health, education and cities.

The treasurer said more jobs could be created and wages boosted if many of its recommendations were taken seriously by local, state and federal governments of all political persuasions.

However, reform was difficult because some wanted to take the “class warfare” road.

“From a Liberal-National perspective we are coming to this quite differently from our political opponents,” Mr Morrison told a business forum.

“This isn’t about social justice – this is about more and better paid jobs because I think that is the best justice for anyone. This is about lifting living standards.”

Earlier, shadow treasurer Chris Bowen told reporters being fair and inclusive was crucial, as was highlighted when the coalition cut billions of dollars in spending to health and education in the 2014 budget.

“Labor has always understood that investment in people and our human capital is the key to economic growth,” Mr Bowen said.

“(The report) is humiliating for Scott Morrison. All he has got it is a corporate tax cut.”

The report, ‘Shifting the Dial’, says lifting productivity is not about “extracting more sweat from the brow of an already hard-working Australian”, but rather improving investment in businesses, not opposing the trialling of new ideas and not defending outmoded regulation.

In the health area, the commission said changes ranging from more health care delivered over the phone and computer to cutting down on some surgery types could deliver a $200 billion economic benefit over the next two decades.

Linking university funding to the success of students rather than research could also deliver benefits.

One of the more radical ideas is shifting from a clunky system of car registration, fuel excise and various state taxes paying for roads – at an average cost to motorists of $1300 a year – to road-user charging based on how much roads are used and at what times.

The commission said this could deliver an average economic benefit of $20 billion a year.

Such reforms coupled with a lower tax rate for all businesses and a new energy policy were crucial if Australia is to lift its productivity, Mr Morrison said.

If Australia maintains the 1.8 per cent rate of productivity growth seen in the past five years it won’t be enough to offset the expected slowdown in workforce participation from an ageing population.

“We need growth of around 2.5 per cent to maintain the growth in our living standards,” he said.

Mr Morrison will hold talks with his state and territory colleagues about the commission’s findings at a meeting in Sydney on Friday.

McCain critiques Trump on war service

US Republican Senator John McCain left no doubt that he was thinking of President Donald Trump as he criticised the draft system during Vietnam for forcing low-income Americans to serve while the wealthy could avoid war with a doctor’s note.

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McCain, a former Navy pilot and prisoner of war, stopped short of labelling Trump a “draft dodger” for getting five draft deferments. But the senator’s comments came with Trump already immersed in controversy over how he honours US troop deaths, and underscored the remove between the billionaire president and the military system he now controls as commander-in-chief.

McCain’s criticism also continued a long-running clash between the two men on the eve of a visit by Trump to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to court Senate GOP votes for his tax plan, a meeting that could contain more than a few awkward moments.

“I don’t consider him so much a draft dodger as I feel that the system was so wrong that certain Americans could evade their responsibilities to serve the country,” McCain said on ABC’s The View.

He was being pressed about comments in a C-SPAN interview aired on Sunday where he lamented that the military “drafted the lowest income level of America and the highest income level found a doctor that would say they had a bone spur”.

One of Trump’s deferments came as a result of a doctor’s letter stating he suffered from bone spurs in his feet. Trump’s presidential campaign described the issue as a temporary problem.

McCain, meanwhile, spent five years as a prisoner of war after his plane was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967. Yet during last year’s presidential campaign Trump said McCain was not a war hero because “I like people who weren’t captured”.

The senator made clear during Monday’s interview that he had been referring to Trump in making his C-SPAN comments. When one of the hosts remarked that people thought he was talking about Trump because the president had sought a medical deferment, McCain interjected, “More than once, yes”.

McCain, 81, is battling brain cancer.