Kiwis flocking to Queensland in growing numbers, census reveals

New census data has revealed 35,068 more New Zealanders live in Australia than five years ago.

The Australian Government today released the first major batch of data from its 2016 census results.

It found there are now 518,466 people living in Australia who were born in New Zealand, compared to 483,398 in 2011.

However, the proportion of Kiwis across the Tasman has not changed, remaining at 2.2 per cent of the population.

England and New Zealand remain the most common countries of birth after Australia, though the number of England-born residents (907,570) has dropped slightly since 2011.

The data also revealed more than one in three (35 per cent) New Zealanders who have arrived in Australia since 2011 have settled in Queensland.

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Let Billy Slater play declares Sharks stalwart: 'I don't know what our game would be coming to'

Cronulla's Luke Lewis has leapt to the defence of Billy Slater, implying the game's gone soft if the Melbourne superstar is banned for his farewell NRL grand final.

Slater faces a nervous wait to see if he is sanctioned for a shoulder charge on Sosaia Feki, after he was penalised for throwing his body at the Sharks winger to save a try in Storm's 22-6 preliminary final win.

A charge would attract 200 demerit points, enough to rule him out of next Sunday's decider against South Sydney or the Sydney Roosters.

The former Kangaroos and Queensland fullback would need to successfully fight the punishment at the NRL judiciary to have any hope of ending his career in the ANZ stadium showpiece.

But Lewis was adamant his former Australia teammate shouldn't face any time on the sidelines for the offence.

"What do you want him to do?" Lewis said.

"He's one of the best defensive fullbacks in the game and you have to stop a try and put your body on the line.

"If someone was to miss a game for something like that, I don't know what our game would be coming to. It's a contact sport.

"I don't think there was anything in it to be honest. If there's anyone I want see play on grand final day, it's Billy Slater."

Lewis and Slater remain close from their time together in Kangaroos camps, and both came into Friday's game with the potential of it being their last if their team lost given their impending retirements.

Slater said after the match he wasn't concerned that he would be charged over the tackle.

"I wasn't worried at the time," Slater said, without having seen a replay.

"When it was a penalty I thought what was the penalty for, but then I realised I got my body in an awkward position.

"It's pretty hard to make a conventional tackle when you're going across at top speed trying to save a try like that ... It was just a collision."

He was also backed by coach Craig Bellamy, who hadn't seen replays when quizzed after the match.

"I didn't think straight away that I'm worried about that," Bellamy said.

"I didn't think there was too much in it from that."

"But having said that I haven't suffered it closely."

If Slater was to be charged, he would follow in the footsteps of captain Cameron Smith who missed the 2008 grand final due to a suspension.

Former South Sydney hooker Issac Luke is the last big name to be ruled out of a grand final at the judiciary after being charged with a dangerous throw in 2014.

The retiring Storm star could face suspension for this hit on Sosaia Feki. Source: SKY

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Mormon church breaks ties with Boy Scouts over decision to allow gay members

The Mormon church's new youth program, which will roll out in 2020 when it cuts all ties with Boy Scouts of America, will still include outdoor and adventure activities even as the initiative becomes more gospel-focused, the faith confirmed Friday.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided a few more details about the initiative in a news release that said a full and detailed description will come later because different aspects of the program are still being tested.

The Utah-based faith announced in May it was leaving the Boy Scouts of America at the end of next year in a move that ends a nearly century-old relationship between two organisations that were originally brought together by shared values but diverged in recent years.

Amid declining membership, Boy Scouts of America recently opened its arms to openly gay youth members and adult volunteers as well as girls and transgender boys. The Mormon faith, which has long been the biggest sponsor of Boy Scout troops in the United States, has clung to its opposition of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

The church has also seen significant expansion in countries outside the U.S. where Boy Scouts wasn't offered and said it wanted to create its own uniform youth program it could use around the world and tailor specifically to its gospel. More than half of the church's 16 million members live outside the U.S. and Canada.

The news release reiterates that the faith's program will be similar to Scouting with an emphasis on outdoors, service work and character building. It won't have a ranking system like the one culminating in an Eagle Scout recognition that many generations of Mormons strived to achieve as a life milestone. It will be for boys and girls.

"Camps and other outdoor activities have always been and will continue to be a prominent part of gospel learning, building relationships, and strengthening faith in Jesus Christ," the release said. "Leaders, youth, and parents will be empowered to identify and provide outdoor activities that invite spiritual experiences and meet the unique needs of their children, young women, and young men."

For now, the faith is referring to the program as its new "children and youth development initiative."

The May announcement that it was unhitching from Boy Scouts didn't come as a major surprise. The faith removed 185,000 boys between the ages of 14 and 18 last year, signalling that an end to the long-time alliance was near. The remaining 425,000 boys will end Scouts at the end of 2019.


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Watch: Hundreds of metres of Greek coastline blanketed by spider webs

 It's not quite the World Wide Web - but the spiders of Aitoliko in Greece have made a good start.

Spurred into overdrive by an explosion in the populations of insects they eat, thousands of little spiders in the western Greek town have shrouded coastal trees, bushes and low vegetation in thick webs.

The sticky white lines extend for a few hundred meters along the shoreline of Aitoliko, built on an artificial island in a salt lagoon near Missolonghi, 250 kilometres west of Athens.

Experts told local media that the numbers of lake flies, a non-biting midge, have rocketed amid humid late summer conditions. Spiders, which fancy the flies, reproduced fast to take full advantage of the feast.

Residents say the extensive spider webs have another benefit: keeping down mosquitoes.


A recent increase in the mosquito population has resulted in perfect conditions for spiders to thrive and multiply. Source: Associated Press


White high school student accused of putting noose around a black student's neck in Louisiana

A white high-school student has been accused of putting a noose around a black student's neck in northeast Louisiana.

A teacher at West Ouachita High School saw the incident and immediately took the white student to administrators at the school in West Monroe, Ouachita Parish Schools Superintendent Don Coker said.

Coker said the student was disciplined, but student privacy laws forbid him to release details.

Deputy Glenn Springfield, a spokesman for the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office, said a juvenile student at the school was arrested on a hate crime battery charge. Springfield said he could not give or confirm other details because both students are juveniles and the case is now with the district attorney's office.

"We don't tolerate any of this. We will never tolerate any of this," Coker said. He added, "This was during Homecoming Week. I don't know if he was trying to make a practical joke or it was truly a hate crime. I know it was handled extremely quickly and very well by our school."

District Attorney Robert S Tew was out of his office Friday and unavailable for comment.

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Source: istock.com