Sunday, October 07, 2012

An attempted Gore-fraud fails

AN Australian filmmaker refused to sell footage of a firestorm to former US vice-president Al Gore - to use in Mr Gore's climate presentations - because the event was unrelated to climate change.

Chris Tangey from Alice Springs Film and Television recorded the phenomenon on Curtin Springs Station, 360km south-west of Alice Springs, while scouting locations for a film.

The footage has been an international sensation reported widely in global media.

In an email exchange with Mr Gore's office, Mr Tangey said using the footage in a climate-change framework would be "deliberately deceptive", the Northern Territory News reports.

"I am aware that you may have missed the reporting on the very localised nature of this firestorm," Mr Tangey wrote.

"However, in any case, I am confused as to why you would offer to buy a licence to use it at all unless you had conducted even elementary research which might indicate that this Mt Conner event had direct linkage to global warming/climate change."

Joel Lisonbee, manager of the NT Climate Services Centre, agreed and said he would not link such an event to global warming.

"This event was better described as a dust devil within a fire. Most of us have seen dust devils and know they are not uncommon," Mr Lisonbee said.

"You need hot, dry conditions but you get those in desert-like conditions everywhere, regardless of global warming."

Jill Martin, from Mr Gore's office, said the famed American climate change advocate wanted to use the footage for up to five years in his PowerPoint presentations to live audiences worldwide.

"Mr Gore recently saw the amazing footage of the fire tornado taken on September 11, and is interested in showing it during some of the presentations he gives on environmental topics," she wrote.

But Mr Tangey said it was "difficult for me to imagine a fire event less relevant".


Queensland Premier Campbell Newman blocks "Green" energy rating system for new residential units

CAMPBELL Newman has pulled out of a tougher 6-star national energy rating for new residential units to slash an average $1200 from the cost of building an apartment.

The Premier has also scrapped a deal with the Federal Government for mandatory reporting of energy efficiency standards of new buildings in a move he describes as cutting red tape.

But the Federal Government has accused him of making it harder for people to cut their energy bills.

The deals were agreed between Anna Bligh and Julia Gillard as part of a national program of energy efficiency rules.

Mr Newman's decision to pull out is a blow to Ms Gillard's plans to streamline rules through the Council of Australian Governments.

The new 6-star rating would require better minimum levels of insulation and glazing in new apartment buildings to cut energy use for heating and cooling.

But the Premier warned the new rating would drive up the cost of new buildings without getting much return in lower power costs.

The tougher standards are estimated by Queensland to add an average $1200 per unit to construction costs but are only expected to reduce electricity costs by about $54 a year.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Newman said the higher 6-star rating was unnecessary in Queensland and suggested it was designed for the climate in other states.

"The Queensland Government cannot justify the cost of transitioning from 5-star to 6-star requirements, especially given that Queensland's climate makes our 5-star units generally more energy efficient than 6-star units in other states," Mr Newman said in the letter.

The Premier also hit out at plans for mandatory disclosure of energy, greenhouse gas and water performance in new units at the point of sale.

He said the scheme would breach his own election commitment to cut red tape and was "unlikely to increase consumer uptake of sustainability features in homes".

Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change Mark Dreyfus attacked the move.

"Energy efficiency means cheaper electricity bills," Mr Dreyfus said.

But the Premier was backed by the building and property industry.

Master Builders' director, housing Paul Bidwell said the Federal Government "had not proved the benefits outweigh the costs" of the 6-star system.


Immigration crackdown: over 10,000 student visas revoked

THE Immigration Department cancelled more than 10,000 student visas in the past financial year, with many students failing to fulfil course requirements.

The department revoked 2219 student visas in 2011/12 for failure to meet course progress or attendance benchmarks.

Two visas were cancelled on character grounds and 15 visas withdrawn for providing wrong information or bogus documents. A department spokesman said student visas were also cancelled if the holders falsely claimed to be students.

The department cancelled 3107 visas for non-genuine students, breaches of visa conditions and voluntary requests for cancellation. The department is currently compiling figures for the previous financial year.

Earlier this week, The Age reported an underground market for university essays in Australia was proliferating with "online essay mills" targeting international students through Chinese language social media sites.

In the year to August, there were 461,477 enrolments by full-fee paying international students in Australia. But enrolments had declined by 7.6 per cent compared with the same period the year before, according to Australian Education International.

These figures include students studying at university, TAFE and secondary school.

Foreign students make a massive contribution to the Australian economy with international education accounting for $16.3 billion in export income in 2010/11.

But International Association of Universities secretary-general Eva Egron-Polak said international students offered far greater value than income.

Ms Egron-Polak, who spoke at an international education conference in Melbourne this week, said universities around the world needed to foster stronger cultural and academic links with international students. "They really do enrich our lives and our study," she said.

Ms Egron-Polak said Australian universities would face stronger competition to attract foreign students from Asian countries, including China and Malaysia, which were improving the quality of their higher education sectors.

"Those countries have invested heavily in building their own capacity in higher education. China is now almost balancing the number of outgoing and incoming students," she said.


Woman  told that Queensland Health is too busy to fix her broken arm

A BUNDABERG retiree has been told by Queensland Health that it is too busy to operate on her arm, which has been broken for two years.

Carmel Daniel, 67, is in pain and cannot even lift a bed sheet, but Queensland Health has written to the Category 2 patient, telling her it that is very busy and does not know when it can perform surgery on her shattered arm.

To add insult to injury, the letter from the Royal Brisbane Hospital got her name wrong and said she had been on the waiting list since November 2012.

When the 67-year-old broke both her arms when she fell over walking her two cattle dogs in 2010, she had no idea the health system would leave her wanting for so long.

"I'm very, very frustrated. I think I've been patient," Mrs Daniel told The Sunday Mail.  "If you were to put your hand on the top of my shoulder, you can feel my bone jutting in and jutting out.

"I'm scared. What if I have a fall, will the broken bone go through my arm? I've stopped bowling and going for walks.

"What gets me is, if I fell on to the road today or whatever, it would be done today, the hospital would fix me up."

When Mrs Daniel was first injured, doctors at Bundaberg Base Hospital put both her arms in slings, which is considered standard treatment for her type of break.

But after months of physiotherapy, her left arm remained sore and she sought advice from her long-time GP, Lloyd Sussens.

He ordered an X-ray and after seeing the damage he referred her back to the hospital, which referred her to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital.

After an initial consultation in Brisbane, Mrs Daniel was told she would only have to wait a couple of months for the surgery, which would be performed at the RBWH. She was listed as a Category 2 patient on November 2, last year.

"It's not ideal, it's unreasonable," Dr Sussens said.  "If she was being treated in the private would have been done within weeks.  "They will probably need to fuse the bones together...and put a plate across it and do a bone graft."

He said the length of time Mrs Daniel has had to wait would likely make it harder for her to recover.

Former Bundaberg Base Hospital patient advocate Beryl Crosby referred Mrs Daniel's case to Health Minister Lawrence Springborg.

It sparked senior patient liaison officer Alison Love to write to Mrs Daniel to say she was sorry for the delay.

"The reasons for the delay in your surgery are related to your consultant being on leave for three months and the high number of Category 1 (urgent) and trauma patients requiring surgery," Ms Love wrote.

"I have been informed by the orthopedic case manager that your consultant is booked up almost to Christmas with those patients who have been on long wait lists.

"It is regrettable that you are unlikely to have your surgery before Christmas and we are unable to advise you when you will be offered a surgery date at this time."


You can see why 40% of Australians have private health insurance despite the "free" hospital system.  But paying for private insurance is often difficult for the elderly

Teacher suspended after being diagnosed as pathological liar

A TEACHER has been suspended after being diagnosed as a pathological liar who had been leading a fantasy life.

The Brisbane man, who can't be named for legal reasons, taught at various public and private schools before being diagnosed with "pseudologia fantastica" - an uncommon but long-lasting condition often described as pathological or compulsive lying.

The Queensland College of Teachers suspended his registration last month after a psychiatrist's report.

The assessment, filed in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, reveals the sidelined teacher's "unusual behaviour" included telling others of his fictitious involvement in high-level jobs and of top job offers that did not exist, relationships with people later found to be made-up, and links to events that never happened.

The report said it was "potentially dangerous for him to be in a teaching position".


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