Coral bleaching threat increased - and more 8am Zedlines:

The coral bleaching threat level will be increased to its highest level after researchers reported the worst extent of bleaching in fifteen years. (Image Source: Google images - Creative Commons)

Coral bleaching threat increased:

The coral bleaching threat level will be increased to its highest level after researchers reported the worst extent of bleaching in fifteen years.

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt suggests the reef is still three-quarters strong despite the alarming report and the United Nations' World Heritage Committee is still monitoring the reef closely, refusing to label it as “in danger”.

The Federal Government have funded an upcoming survey of the area following a UQ Global Change Institute survey of forty sites in the far northern regions of the reef in 2014.

Quirk returned as Lord Mayor

Graham Quirk has been returned as Lord Mayor for a further four years as counting continues across the state.

Mr Quirk’s Labor rival Rod Harding called on Saturday evening to concede defeat, with Mr Quirk holding a 52% majority this morning as counting nears 70%.

New mayors have been elected in 27 Queensland councils with six races still too close to call, while mayors in Ipswich, Gold Coast, and the Sunshine Coast also retained their positions.

Plans for logging Tasmanian Heritage area scrapped:

The Tasmanian Government has abandoned plans to selectively log its Wilderness World Heritage Area after UNESCO recommended against it.  

The Government had plans to open up just under two-hundred thousand hectares of the Heritage area for logging purposes, with an aim to provide specialty species timber.

However, Environment Minister Matthew Groom said the Tasmanian Government accepts UNESCO’s recommendations, specifically the UN Mission’s disapproval of special species timber harvesting.

Privacy rule ammendements for NSW:

New South Wales opposition are looking to amend privacy rules where customers are left without any external protection from misuse of personal information by some of New South Wales’ largest utility companies.

A bill introduced on Friday by shadow attorney-general Paul Lynch aims to amend the current New South Wales Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act which covers state owned corporations

New South Wales Parliament sits again from today with debate on the bill set to resume at a later date.

Controversial new stem-cell research has some calling for stricter sanctions:

A controversial report from the Australian Academy of Science suggests new stem-cell treatment techniques could allow scientists to harvest animal organs for human transplants.

The report suggests cross-species organ production could have a positive impact on human health, and could provide crucial insights into early human development that may be key to solving problems of infertility or treating developmental disorders.

But others are calling for stricter sanctions to be placed on what they describe as “rogue” stem cell treatments, suggesting they could be potentially unbeneficial or even harmful to patients.

US President Barack Obama arrives in Cuba:

President Barack Obama has arrived in Havana, Cuba, marking the first visit by a US President to the country in 88 years.

The three day trip is the result of a diplomatic opening announced by Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro in December 2014.

Republicans and human rights activists are criticising the visit, citing the lack of political, media and economic freedom in Cuba.