Coal train dust report ‘doctored’

THE NSW government changed adverse findings of a report on coal train pollution to suit its political goals, a community action group says.

Five months after emissions monitoring ceased and only six days before it was released, the report on dust from Newcastle coal trains was altered contradicting initial findings that ‘‘coal trains are much more polluting’’, the Coal Terminal Action Group says.

Spokesman James Whelan says 15 of the 18 findings in the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s (ARTC) Particulate Emissions from Coal Trains report had been changed.

‘‘In three instances, the opposite conclusions were stated,’’ he said in a statement.

‘‘By deleting or inserting the word ‘no’ or ’not’, a very different picture of the impacts of coal trains on air quality in Newcastle and the Lower Hunter is reached.

‘‘Other conclusions were modified to significantly downplay the pollution levels associated with coal trains.’’

Three new conclusions were added, he said.

The ARTC said the report had gone through a final review process to ensure it was accurate.

‘‘The environmental consultants that prepared this report discovered an error in the calculations while preparing the final report and they adjusted the findings accordingly,’’ it said in a statement.

It said despite the changes both versions of the report made substantially the same finding that loaded coal trains on the Hunter network didn’t have higher particle emissions than other trains.

But Dr Whelan said the report had been changed to ‘‘suit the ARTC and NSW government agenda … to do nothing about dust from coal trains and pander to the coal industry’’.


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Not so plastic fantastic

PARIS, FRANCE – JANUARY 22: A detail of the Hailee Steinfeld’s bag pictured during the Chanel Spring/Summer 2013 Haute-Couture show as part of Paris Fashion Week at Grand Palais on January 22, 2013 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julien M. Hekimian/Getty Images) Photo: Julien M. Hekimian Fashion student Bronson Jack fitting model Mollie Miles with a latex/rubber leotard. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Plastic clothes and accessories featuring on catwalks this northern spring might be turning the heads of fashionistas, but the proliferation of PVC is also putting the environmental credentials of high-end style under the spotlight.

While H&M and Stella McCartney have chosen to incorporate recycled plastic bottles into their latest collections, many fashion houses appear less inclined to embrace environmentally friendly materials.

See-through plastic garments were recently shown by Charlotte Ronson, Jean Charles de Castelbajac and Givenchy, while Margiela and Michael Kors toed the line with perspex shoes.

Plastic has also featured in the accessory collections of Valentino and Gucci, and is the central feature of Burberry Prorsum’s kitschy ”doctor” bag. Resembling a chunky, oversized Lego piece, a brightly coloured plastic clutch designed by Chanel head honcho Karl Lagerfeld can be yours for about $10,000.

Used extensively in packaging, car parts and building materials, PVC – polyvinyl chloride or “vinyl” as it is commonly known – has become the third-most widely produced plastic in the world, with demand projected to reach 49 million tonnes by 2017.

In fashion, the material is an economical replacement for rubber and leather and contributes gloss to garments. Connie Gialouris, the national wholesale manager for Australian label Shakuhachi, said customers were attracted to plastic and synthetic materials for their affordability.

“Buyers are becoming more price conscious and savvy, looking for the runway looks at affordable prices,” Ms Gialouris said.

Greenpeace says PVC is the single most environmentally damaging of all plastics. But Sophi MacMillan, the chief executive of the Vinyl Council of Australia, said that contention was outdated.

Since Greenpeace put PVC under the spotlight 20 years ago scientific advances and industry efforts had vastly improved manufacturing processes and the life cycle of PVC, Ms Macmillan said.

“PVC’s environmental performance is comparable to – or even better than – alternative materials”, she said.

Jeff Angel, the executive director of green group Total Environment Centre, said plastics, however they were used, needed to be evaluated on the environmental impact of their source material, and what happened at the end of their lifespan.

“Plastic fashion has to ask itself: are the raw materials sourced in a sustainable manner and how are the clothes disposed and where – the recycle bin or landfill or dumped? Finally, are there more environmentally responsible alternatives?” Mr Angel said.

The principal scientist at Greenpeace Research, Paul Johnston, said the organisation would oppose further use of plastics in clothes.

”Use of plastics involves use of oil as a feedstock which is a non-renewable resource, and some serious questions remain about the impacts of plastics … which would only be added to if they became widely used in clothes,” Dr Johnston said.

Some Australian labels, such as jewellery and homewares brand Dinosaur Designs, take pride in sourcing recycled material.

“The type of resin we use is a byproduct from the oil industry, which would usually be discarded,” said designer Louise Olsen.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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Who’s afraid of the “transgender” cartoon character?

New Animated Series “SheZow” Premiering June 1 on Hub Network. (PRNewsFoto/Hub Network)Channel Ten is home to some of the most socially regressive television in the country. A big hello to The Bolt Report, The Biggest Loser and MasterChef. But for once it’s on the cutting edge of promoting progressive social change with its cartoon SheZow.

SheZowfollows the adventures of a 12-year-old boy, Guy Hamdon, who finds a magic ring that belonged to his dead Aunt Agnes. When he wears the ring he transforms into female superhero SheZow.

The show, which was funded by Film Victoria and Channel Ten, along with a Canadian backer, was picked up in June by US children’s network The Hub. And it’s causing quite a kerfuffle.

One Million Moms, an offshoot of the American Families Association, has the show and the network firmly in its sights. In a letter to its supporters, One Million Moms warns parents that the “superhero character will confuse kids”.

Now, with a name like “One Million Moms” you would think that its members would have some experience with children. But the suggestion that a boy who turns into girl will confuse children suggests that they have never met a human child.

For example, my daughter regularly watches Peppa Pig — a show that features a walking, talking pig and its nuclear family (go figure) doing such things as going to school, shopping and driving cars.

While our house could often be confused with a pigsty, I’m quite sure that my three-year-old does not think she is a pig. Rather than being confused, my daughter takes it in her stride. No confusion whatsoever.

And if One Million Moms thinks that a boy turning into a girl might be confusing to children, then what must it think of Spider-Man? Here’s a young man who dresses in spandex and swings around the city like a spider. And then there’s Batman; a billionaire playboy who dresses up as a bat to become a vigilante.

And what’s better? Watching a boy who turns into a girl and saves the world, or a man who turns into an inarticulate, green, steroided Hulk with anger management issues?

I suspect the real reason why One Million Moms finds SheZow confronting isn’t so much that SheZow is transgender, but that the show features a girl saving the world.

As the organisation goes on to explain in its letter calling for action: “Children desire to be just like superheroes and will mimic a superhero’s every action, even to the point of dressing up in costumes to resemble the characters as much as possible. It won’t be long before little boys are saying, ‘I want to be a girl, so I can help people and save the world!”’

A little boy wanting to be a girl to save the world! Won’t somebody please think of the children?

For years, little girls have aspired to be male characters and dress like male characters, or female versions of male superheroes (see Batgirl, Supergirl, Spider-Woman), and organisations such as One Million Moms have barely uttered a whisper. But when a boy aspires to be a courageous girl, well, get out the placards.

SheZow’s creator Obie Scott Wade has denied any agenda. In an interview with pop culture website Nerdist, Wade said: “I just set out to make a comedy. Commenting on gender roles was never my goal. I just wanted to make a TV show that I’d imagined as a kid.”

No doubt he did, but we shouldn’t underplay the potentially positive role that such shows as SheZow can play.

Comics and cartoons have a long history of championing progressive social change. For example, Marvel’s X-Men comics coincided with the emergence of the US civil rights movement in the 1960s, and both the comics and the films regularly tackle themes of diversity and acceptance of difference.

The comics and films feature transgender, bisexual and gay characters. Earlier this year, Marvel featured a same-sex marriage as X-Man Northstar married his partner Kyle Jinadu. More recently, DC re-imagined Green Lantern as a gay man.

SheZow is firmly in the tradition of ground-breaking, socially progressive cartoons that work because they’re fun and kids like them.

A big thank-you to One Million Moms for raising the profile of this little show. I’ll be sure to look out for it in the TV schedule.

Kasey Edwards is the best-selling author of 30-Something and Over It, 30-Something and The Clock is Ticking, OMG! That’s Not My Husband and OMG! That’s Not My Child. www.kaseyedwards杭州夜网m

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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Robo-patients give medicos the edge

RN Anthony Mansfield, left, Dr Richard Accurso, MP Sharon Bird and nurse educator Paola Sheridan-Moules with one of the high-tech training manikins. Photo: ROBERT PEETSource: Illawarra Mercury

A family of robot-type patients that can spurt blood, breathe, blink and give birth on demand is being used to train Illawarra’s medicos.

The lifelike dummies reside in one of two “Sim Labs” inside the recently opened Illawarra Shoalhaven Health Education Centre, on Wollongong’s Loftus Street.

The facility was built using almost $5 million in federal government funding, announced in 2010, and began operating last month.

Its most sophisticated addition is a $95,000 SimMan 3G – a wireless, high-fidelity patient simulator capable of mimicking a raft of bodily reactions.

SimMan 3G yesterday played the part of an emergency patient who had fallen from a ladder.

As he lay on the bed, blood spurted unexpectedly from his head while trainers looked on to see how a team of doctors, nurses and other health professionals would respond.

Trainers looked for details including whether the team would remember to use hand sanitiser.

They observed from a control room concealed behind mirror glass, with the trainees’ every move and sound relayed through an extensive network of cameras and microphones.

The dummies can make programmed noises – SimWoman is capable of painful-sounding birthing sounds – or the trainers can speak for them.

Veeru Jagarlamudi, a trainer at the facility, said the manikins could be used for laparoscopic surgery and could deliver a baby.

“People can collect blood from them, they can give fluid, they can put a drip in,” he said.

“This facility has a complete, fully fledged simulation environment. We need it to be as similar to real life as possible.”

The centre’s nurse educator intensive care, Paola Sheridan-Moules, said it would be used by new doctors, nurses and allied health professionals and as part of ongoing training.

“Everything’s best practice, so when things change we need a safe environment to learn in,” she said.

The centre will allow for four or five different scenarios to run at once and is a significant upgrade of the previous training facility, which allowed for a single scenario at a time.

It is for use by medicos from all hospitals in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven, with sleeping accommodation upstairs for trainers and students who need to stay the night.

The centre’s manager, Pauline Gaetani, said it was an important addition.

“What attracts a lot of [doctors, nurses and allied health professionals] to the hospitals is their teaching and training facilities,” she said.

“If we have got supported teaching and training programs they’re more likely to come here and stay here.”

Funding for the facility came from the $90 million Innovative Clinical Teaching and Training Grants Program, announced in June 2010.

Illawarra MPs Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones toured the site yesterday as part of its official launch.

Health Workforce Australia has contributed $863,000 for the fit-out of the facility, and $500,000 towards staffing costs, administered through the NSW Health Education and Training Institute.

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VIDEO: Filmmaker wows Cannes

A still from Rodd Rathjen’s short film Tau Seru, the story of a nomadic sheep herder and his son living in the Himalayas.Source: Bendigo Advertiser

Rodd Rathjen always wanted to make films.

But growing up in the central Victorian town of Colbinabbin, the opportunities to make his dream a reality were limited. So he decided to move to Melbourne.

Now at age 31, he is the only Australian filmmaker to screen a film at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

His film Tau Seru was selected to screen in the critics week selection at Cannes, the famous French film festival.

Currently in London, Mr Rathjen described the festival as a football trip that didn’t end.

“It was an amazing experience,” he said.

“It was a great chance for me to network and to get some exposure.

“There was always something happening, the films and then there was the parties at night.

“It was great to see my film be so well received, I was privileged to be a part of the event.”

The Victorian College of the Arts graduate said his eight-minute film was about a nomadic sheep herder and his son living in the Himalayas.

“I went backpacking through India and the Himalayas in 2011. That is how I came up with the idea of the film,” he said.

Tau Seru Trailer from Rodd rathjen on Vimeo.

Mr Rathjen shot the film with a small team last year.

“It was challenging,” he said.

“We shot the film at an altitude of 4000 metres and then there was the language barrier.”

On Monday, the film had its first Australian screening at the Sydney Film Festival.

Mr Rathjen said he was currently working on his first feature film script.

“I plan to spend a month in Greece and do some writing before I go to a screening in Paris,” he said.

“After I do all the writing it will take some time to get funding for it.

“I will probably have to go back to Colbinabbin and work on the farm for a while.”

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