The fight to save Africa’s ‘lost Eden’

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Bob Poole in Africa

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Bob Poole has filmed a six-part series on the Gorongosa National Park in partnership with PBS and National Geographic. (Supplied: Gina Poole)

(Supplied: Gina Poole) Photo:
Conservationists are trying to restore the elephant population in the Gorongosa National Park.
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Hippos frolic in Africa. (Supplied: Piotr Naskrecki)

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Bob Poole said illegal mining and logging still threatened the park in Mozambique. After 30 years of war, it was really decimated,” he said.”The habitat was still there but the wildlife was almost all gone.”When civil war broke out in Mozambique in the late 1970s the Gorongosa National Park became a key battleground between opposing forces.Elephants were killed for their ivory, which was traded for guns and ammunition, and zebras and other animals were hunted for their meat.”The park was pretty much left for dead,” Poole said. (Supplied: Gina Poole)
He first visited the Gorongosa National Park in 2008 and said he was staggered by how the wildlife had been killed or driven out.”It was one of Africa’s greatest national parks. Photo:
The elephant population in the Gorongosa National Park is recovering after years of poaching. (Supplied: Gina Poole)
These days, Poole said illegal mining and logging still threatened the park, but new initiatives had given him reason to hope things could slowly improve.Specifically, a public-private partnership struck between the Mozambican Government and a team led by philanthropist Greg Carr in 2008 had seen a noticeable turnaround in the park’s fortunes.The 20-year deal sees Carr, the Government and international bodies work to conserve the park and attempt to bring back wildlife that has been lost. exploded back onto the scene,” he said.”If you come back in 20 years and go to the centre of that national park, it will be incredible.””If we just give it a chance or give it a bit of help — especially in a place like Africa, where nature is so resilient — it can bounce back.Poole said the message he will be spreading on his tour around Australia this month was: “Conservation in Africa is a tough job, it just never goes away.””This is hope for African wildlife if we all care about.” The way that the wildlife just … For wildlife as well as conservation,” he told ABC News Breakfast.Poole grew up in East Africa, where his father was the director of the Peace Corps and later the African Wildlife Foundation. The fight is on to save Africa’s “lost Eden”, a national park buried in Mozambique recovering from decades of civil war, documentary-maker Bob Poole says.Poole, an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker for National Geographic, has spent years documenting conservation efforts in the Gorongosa National Park.He is in Australia for the Nature Roars Back tour to share what he has discovered.”Gorongosa roughly translates to a place of danger, and in some ways that rings true. Photo:
The Gorongosa National Park is recovering from years of civil war. (Supplied: Gina Poole)
Poole said the difference for the park in just eight years was impressive, but it had to be sustained.”What I saw in my time there was extraordinary.

(Supplied: Gina Poole) Photo:
The Gorongosa National Park is a stunning piece of Mozambique.

(Supplied: Piotr Naskrecki) Photo:
Lions are slowly coming back to the Gorongosa National Park.
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Mozambique

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Documenting the fight to save Gorongosa National Park. (Supplied)

ABC News Breakfast

By

Patrick Wood

Updated

August 09, 2016 16:34:59

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National Geographic filmmaker Bob Poole on saving Africa's "lost Eden"
(Supplied: Gina Poole) Photo:
Elephants roam the Gorongosa National Park.

Brazilian rugby player gets surprise on-field wedding proposal from girlfriend

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(AP: Themba Hadebe) Posted

August 09, 2016 20:24:43

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“I have to make this special”: Cerullo’s partner surprises her on the rugby pitch.
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Brazilian rugby player Isadora Cerullo has been surprised with an on-field wedding proposal following Australia’s win in the first women’s rugby sevens event in Olympic history at Rio’s Deodoro Stadium.Cerullo’s partner of two years, 28-year-old Marjorie Enya, walked onto the pitch as the crowd were dispersing following the final, and popped the question.Enya, who is a manager at the venue, grabbed a microphone and delivered an emotional speech before embracing her partner to the cheers of onlookers, the BBC reported.”I know rugby people are amazing and they would embrace it,” Enya told reporters.”She is the love of my life.”
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Isadora Cerullo tweet from Danielle Warby
The couple live in Sao Paulo, where Cerullo has been focussing on training for the inaugural Olympic event.Cerullo, who is a dual US and Brazilian citizen, was reportedly studying medicine in the United States before she was selected for Brazil’s Olympic squad.”As soon as I knew she was in the squad I thought I have to make this special,” Enya told the BBC.Twitter erupted with congratulations from around the world for the newly minted couple, with well-wishers tweeting photos, rainbows and hearts.Same-sex marriage has been legal in Brazil since 2013.Hosts Brazil beat Japan 33-5 to finish in ninth place overall in the 12-team women’s draw.
Multi-sport athletes star in Aussie Olympic rugby sevens gold

Best in show: Judges lip-smacking search for Perth’s top ice-cream and gelato

Judging cheese and chocolate at the Perth Royal Show
(720 ABC Perth: Emma Wynne)
“You have to get the right sugar levels, the flavour levels and the really good quality ingredients in there.”I think because it’s such a difficult one, I really love it when I get one where I go: ‘oh wow, that is just a fantastic vanilla’.”I really appreciate the workmanship that has gone into it.”And for those that long to eat ice-cream for a living, there is hope. Photo:
Karen Reid will taste over 50 ice-creams in a few hours of judging. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.Judges have spent a day at the Perth Showgrounds Dairy Pavilion tasting an array of ice-creams and gelatos, looking for the best in show.Although the Perth Royal Show does not kick off until September 28, entries have already closed for the many food, produce and cookery competitions and judging is well underway.On Tuesday, two teams of judges taste tested just over 100 entries. Photo:
An ice-cream flavoured with dried apricot. Photo:
Each category is judged by three people. Sometimes no entries in a class will get a medal, and sometimes several will.At the end of the class judging, overall best ice-creams and gelatos will be chosen.”We will really see some fantastic product when we get to that,” chief judge of the dairy and cheese competition Russell Smith said.’Very picky to find the best’The Perth Royal Show provides ice-cream makers a rare opportunity to have their product professionally evaluated. “Where you are tasting milk, milk is all the same product.”When you taste strawberry, vanilla buttermilk cake, shiraz, wild berry and cracked pepper in gelato it is hard to rule out personal preference and just judge on the technical aspects.”

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Chocolate, mint and red velvet cake ice-cream competing at the Perth Royal Show. “We are just being very picky here to find the best ones.”What’s the trickiest flavour?According to Mr Smith, one of the hardest flavours to make was plain vanilla. (720 ABC Perth: Emma Wynne)
“I think the main thing is to have it peer reviewed, to see where the quality of their product sits against all their competition in the marketplace,” Mr Smith said.”I don’t think it can go horribly wrong in ice-cream — even the ones that aren’t terribly good, a lot of people are still going to enjoy them. “There is nowhere to hide with vanilla,” he said. “They are always looking for new judges,” Ms Reid said.”You do need experience in the dairy industry, and an interest.” (720 ABC Perth: Emma Wynne)
And just like wine tasters, the judges spit and avoid swallowing.”It is a bit gross, isn’t it?” ice-cream judge Karen Reid said.”But when you taste 50 odd dairy products, if you eat them all, by the time you get to the third session your tastebuds are dead.”Spitting is required, as is water and eating water crackers in between classes.”Occasionally an entry was unexpectedly awful and “and that is when the spit bucket is really handy,” Ms Reid said.Buttermilk, pepper and wine flavoursIn the ‘gourmet gelato with real fruit, excluding any chocolate’ class, the judges were presented with a wide variety of flavours.”It’s difficult in a class like gelato where you get completely different flavours,” Ms Reid said. (720 ABC Perth: Emma Wynne)
Judges award scores out of 20 for each entry, giving points for flavour, aroma, texture and appearance.An entry has to score over 18 to get a gold medal.
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10 things that never change at the Perth Royal Show
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Emma Wynne

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August 10, 2016 09:19:58

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Chief judge Russell Smith tastes a gelato (720 ABC Perth: Emma Wynne)
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‘This is why we do the Olympics’: North and South Korean gymnasts pose for selfie

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Olympic diving pool's strange green water overshadows events
(Reuters: Dylan Martinez) Updated

August 10, 2016 09:49:47

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Lee Eun-ju of South Korea takes a selfie with Hong Un-jong of North Korea.

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It is being touted as a photo that defines the spirit of the Olympics — North and South Korean gymnasts posing for a selfie at the Rio Games.During a practice session, 17-year-old Lee Eun-Ju of South Korea and 27-year-old Hong Un-Jung of North Korea laughed and chatted and took a photo together.The moment was captured by another photographer and shared around the world on social media by users including political scientist Ian Bremmer, who tweeted: “This is why we do the Olympics.”The photo has been praised for capturing a moment of sportsmanship and unity, amid hostile relations between the two countries, which technically remain at war because was no peace treaty signed at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.In 2008, Hong became the first female gymnast from North Korea to win an Olympic gold medal, while Lee made her Olympics debut in Rio.Lee was eliminated in Sunday’s preliminary competition, while Hong will go on to compete in the vault final. (Reuters: Dylan Martinez) Photo:
Lee Eun-Ju made her Olympics debut in Rio.

Facebook post attracts hairdresser to Blackall

a lot of people went away to get their hair done, and every boy had a haircut by their mother.”It’s just good to have someone in town.”Mayor delighted by Facebook response

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Blackall-Tambo mayor Andrew Martin shows the Facebook post that helped to attract a hairdresser to Blackall. One little Facebook post has made a huge difference to the outback Queensland community of Blackall, helping to attract a hairdresser to town.Blackall had been without a permanent hairdresser for several months, meaning locals were forced to travel hundreds of kilometres for a professional cut.Blackall-Tambo mayor Andrew Martin posted on Facebook in June, asking for hairdressers to contact the council about moving to town and setting up a business.The post caught the attention of Rockhampton hairdresser Tiffiany Kraatz, who lived in Blackall for several years as a child.Within weeks, Ms Kraatz, her husband Jeremy, and their four children had moved to town.She said locals had been overwhelmingly positive about her new salon.”They’re all really supportive. we wanted a different lifestyle for the kids,” she said.”They’ve been able to ride to school and they play a lot of sport, and just have the freedom they wouldn’t have had growing up in Rocky.”You couldn’t ask for a better lifestyle out here.”

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Blackall-Tambo Mayor Andrew Martin says there is a feeling of optimism around Blackall after a difficult few years. Everyone’s come in, and everyone’s really happy with their hair,” she said.”I’ve had some really good compliments from the locals and the tourists. Everyone seems so supportive, so it’s good.”Ms Kraatz said the relaxed Blackall lifestyle was what had attracted her and her family back to the bush.”Rocky’s obviously really busy … (ABC Western Queensland: Blythe Moore)
Hairdressing a vital service in bush townsMs Kraatz said she believed access to a hairdresser was important for people in small towns.”Everyone likes to look nice and tidy,” she said.”I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to look scruffy around the place, and people have events they’ve got to go to in other towns.”I think most towns should have a hairdresser.”She said the absence of a hairdresser had impacted Blackall in a variety of ways.”On my first day a little boy came in with his mum, and his mum had cut his hair and she asked me to fix it,” she said.”[It is] hard because if they have no one to do anything like that, it shows.”Blackall local Amanda Turlan said she was delighted to see a hairdresser back in town.”Everyone’s happy, everyone’s got good hair now,” she said.”I think girls just waited … (ABC Western Queensland: Blythe Moore)
Cr Martin said he had been inundated with responses to his Facebook post.”I got a Facebook reply from a girl in Russia, several from Indonesia, Port Macquarie, Melbourne, Perth, Townsville, and this wonderful woman from Rockhampton, called Tiffiany Kraatz,” he said.Cr Martin said he hoped the new salon was the beginning of a positive trend for Blackall.He said the town had suffered from the drought and the demise of the wool industry in recent years.”The history of Blackall, as you well know, over the last decade has been people leaving town and kids leaving the school,” he said.”And all of a sudden one little Facebook article and [we have] four kids back in town and a girl going into business.”After his successful Facebook post, Cr Martin said he had become a social media convert.”It’s a great way of disseminating information when your nearest neighbour is 100km away,” he said.”As a council, we’re now looking at doing our own Facebook page for the councillors and myself.”
Welcome to Blackall — the town with no hairdresser
(ABC Western Queensland: Blythe Moore) ABC Western Qld

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Blythe Moore

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August 10, 2016 14:52:09

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Tiffiany Kraatz straightens Amanda Turlan’s hair in her new salon in Blackall.

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Retired farmers recruited to help tree changers

(ABC Central Victoria: Larissa Romensky) ABC Central Victoria

By

Larissa Romensky

Posted

August 10, 2016 16:56:13

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Retired farmer Noel Jenner has become part of the Connors’ family.
“Well, I’m off the land, what else do I do?” she recalled.”That’s when This Farmer Needs a Farm was born.” The idea coincided with a local government community funding scheme that Ms Connors successfully applied for.”I have found this project is just really needed within the community. A community project that enlists the help of retired farmers to assist tree changers on their land and help improve connections has been started in Kyneton.When Melissa Connors and her family moved to their 4-hectare property in Kyneton four years ago, they did not know much about hobby farming.Having previously come from a small block in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, they needed a different set of skills to tackle livestock, fencing and water management.”We did things backwards. I think most people do, and just keep in your little circle,” Mr Jenner said.But a chance meeting between Mr Jenner and Ms Connors changed both their lives for the better.Even though they waved to each other twice a day when Mr Jenner went past the property on his daily walks, Ms Connors said it took him three years to finally “warm up” to her and have a conversation.Ms Connors was curious about his dedication to walking, and Mr Jenner’s response to her question was the catalyst for the project. (ABC Central Victoria: Larissa Romensky)
Mr Jenner, 78, is well equipped for the job, having previously worked on his wife’s family’s 56-hectare dairy farm in Gippsland. That’s the constant feedback I get,” Ms Connors said.”This is basically a platform for [farmers] to butt in and help, because we need their help.”We get up here and we have these dreams of this beautiful idyllic property, then the reality hits.”Ms Connors said many young families were moving to the country and buying land, and in some cases the husband was away working.”If things go wrong and David’s not home, I have to take care of it,” she said.Farmer now part of the family

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The Connor family (from back left) David, Eire, Melissa, Neil Jenner, (front left) Aidan and Siobhan. We’d come out and they’d be on the road,” Ms Connors said.”We knew nobody and we didn’t know what to do.”We just found ourselves on a really steep learning curve.”After meeting and befriending local retired farmer Noel Jenner, the idea for community project This Farmer Needs a Farm was born.”It’s about creating a platform for tree changers, like myself and my family, who have moved up to our plots of land and know absolutely nothing about working them, getting our retired farmers to share their knowledge and build our farms into what we want them to be,” Ms Connors said.She said the farmers could be involved as much as they wanted, taking the form of a one-on-one partnership or within a group, depending upon the different needs of the community.”The bottom line is, it’s getting this knowledge out of these guys’ and women’s heads,” Ms Connors said.She said the project was trying to tap into an existing knowledge base by creating connections and encouraging people to talk.”Rather than sitting behind your computer screens to find the answers,” Ms Connors said.Feeling isolated after leaving the farm

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Melissa Connors and Noel Jenner have formed a friendship after three years of waving hello to each other. We get on very well together, and we do lots of things together and it keeps me busy,” he said.He hopes more retired farmers get involved in the project.”They’ve got nothing else to do. They should get involved and come on board,” he laughed. We put six black Angus steers on it before even looking at the fences. Although he does not miss rounding up cattle in the dark, moving off the farm and into town proved harder to maintain connections, leaving him feeling isolated.”As you get older you sort of stick to your own and just keep to yourself mainly. We have a lot of good times together,” Mr Jenner said.Ms Connors said Mr Jenner even walked the family dog, and her children enjoyed his company.”It’s been a fantastic and unexpected friendship, and I’m really lucky to have Noel in our lives,” Ms Connors said.Mr Jenner said it was important he was making a difference and had found something meaningful in his own life.”It’s a lovely relationship. (ABC Central Victoria: Larissa Romensky)
The relationship has been more than just Mr Jenner providing general farming advice around the property and recommending tradespeople.The pair has also developed a strong friendship.”We’re very good friends.
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How running is transforming a Torres Strait island community

(ABC Rural: Charlie McKillop)
Training for a marathon in seven monthsIt is a path Elsie knows only too well. With Elsie encouraging from the sidelines — “C’mon bala, you can do it! “For the majority of people who come here and choose to be a part of the program, 60 seconds of non-stop running is massive for them,” Elsie said.”So you imagine me telling them they’ve all run three minutes, and you see how they celebrate, the joy and excitement.”

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Elsie Seriat never imagined the positive change running would make in her island community. Keep pushing hard” — they dare not stop until her piercing whistle sounds again.These are members of the TI Deadly Runners beginners’ group, who together are embarking on the road to positive change, one step at a time.At first, the improvements are incremental, but the self pride is evident. Now I can run a full kilometre without stopping,” said Carolyn, who has lost eight kilograms since starting with the Deadly Runners. Rural news in your inbox? “Before, I couldn’t run for 10 metres. Photo:
Elsie Seriat and Harold Matthew after completing the New York Marathon in 2014. Today she has brought along her friend, who readily admits “running is not my thing”.”The first whistle’s hell,” her friend laughed. Barriers to healthy living are complexStatistics show the Torres Strait mirrors the alarmingly high rates of obesity on the mainland — more than two-thirds of people aged over 15 are obese — and diabetes and heart disease are primary health concerns.The barriers to losing weight on TI can be complex. As the group sets off together, some walk, some run, some shuffle. When she and Harold Matthew became the first Thursday Islanders to join the Indigenous Marathon Project three years ago, she never imagined what they would achieve. (Supplied)
“It’s a mixed emotion for me, yeah, because I can see myself in that same situation when I first started running — coming from a zero running background in seven months to be able to run a marathon,” Elsie said.”So you know, coming back into the community is a perfect example for my people to see if I can do it, they can do it, too.” When Elsie crossed the finish line of the New York marathon in 2014, it was only the beginning, not the end of her journey. Photo:
It is all smiles after another session for the TI Deadly Runners beginners’ group. “But the second whistle’s good because you get to walk again!”But amid the laughter and mock protests, each runner has their own reason for being here, and everyone is pushing to their limits. (ABC Rural: Charlie McKillop)
Marathon training was a lonely path for the young trailblazers.Today, the Deadly Runners group is gaining momentum, with up to 60 members attending beginner and advanced sessions.Even Elsie’s partner and mum have become regular runners.In the local general store in the main street, a new sports section has replaced aisles of electrical goods as a growing band of runners vote with their feet.”My word of encouragement to others is just to get off the couch; that’s what it’s all about, people choosing to do that,” Elsie said. For example, when Elsie’s fellow marathon buddy Harold began training, friends noticed his weight loss and were worried he was sick and needed more kai kai (food). Subscribe to get the national headlines of the day. She returned home to TI determined to help others to embrace the healthier, active lifestyle she had discovered.
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ABC Rural

By

Charlie McKillop

Updated

August 18, 2016 09:40:29

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Members of the TI Deadly Runners group stretch out after a regular interval training session (ABC Rural: Charlie McKillop)
The shrill of Elsie Seriat’s whistle cuts through the pre-dawn stillness of her island community.It signals the start of an interval training session for the 20 or so people who have gathered on the foreshore at Thursday Island (TI), a small island in the far northern waters of Australia.

A Big Country: Islanders embrace a healthy lifestyle

(ABC Rural)

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Pull on your running shoes to join the Thursday Island Deadly Runners for interval training

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Dubai plane crash survivor wins $1m in airport lottery

Updated

August 11, 2016 07:13:47

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Mohammad Basheer Abdul Khadar was on this Emirates plane when it crashed and burned in Dubai (AFP: Gulf News Dubai/Ahmed Ramzan)
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“I live a simple life, and now that it’s my time to retire, I feel like God gave me a second life when I survived the plane crash, and blessed me with this money to follow all this up by doing good things,” he told Gulf News. It has been an eventful few days for Mohammad Basheer Abdul Khadar, an Indian living in Dubai. Key points:Mohammad Basheer Abdul Khadar bought a lottery ticket on his way to IndiaComing back to Dubai, he was on board an Emirates jet which crashed and burned on the runwayHe says some of his $US1m will go to help impoverished kids in Kerala
In the space of a week, he survived a crash-landing at Dubai airport then won $US1 million in a lottery organised by the airport’s duty free operator, Gulf News reported. Video: The Emirates plane burns on the runway

(ABC News)
Mr Khadar has lived in Dubai for 37 years and is married with two children, one of whom is paralysed after a fall early on in his childhood, reported Gulf News.Mr Khadar said he was planning to return to Kerala to retire and would use the money to help children in Kerala who need financial support.He said he earned around $US2,200 a month, and would continue to work as long as he could.”Nothing else can give you the satisfaction of your hard-earned money,” he said. Video: Chaotic scenes as passengers try to evacuate burning Emirates plane

(ABC News)
AFP The 62-year-old was flying home from holidays with family in India when the Boeing 777 in which he was travelling caught fire on landing with 300 people on board.The accident last week shut down the Middle East’s busiest airport for several hours, forcing authorities to cancel hundreds of flights.All the passengers and crew escaped unharmed, but a firefighter died tackling the blaze.Just six days later, Mr Khadar discovered that the lottery ticket he had bought on the way to India was now worth $1 million.A fleet administrator with a Dubai car dealership, Mr Khadar told Gulf News he habitually bought a lottery ticket on his way to visit family in the southern Indian state of Kerala.Ticket number 845 in the Millenium Millionaire draw at the airport’s Dubai Duty Free proved to be his winning shot.

On-the-job training for people with disability through the Yellow Door

“I like helping people and interacting with people,” he said.Paula Ryan is a volunteer with the shop, and said it was very rewarding to see the trainees building their skills.”The interaction the clients have with the general public, their improved sense of humour, seeing them manage the EFTPOS and computers, it’s very rewarding to see that capacity building,” she said.Ms Ryan said as far as the customers were concerned, service at Yellow Door was just like any other local shop.”For the general public, it’s not an issue, and that’s the key point — it’s not an issue.”Mr Searles said the aim was to see their clients move on to other paid work or volunteering roles in the community.”As we progress with the program the intent is to look for local businesses who might partner with us to give placements to people with disability, so they can test out the skills they’ve learned at Yellow Door Books in other retail settings,” he said.Mr Searles said HSA did not currently receive funding to run the program, and the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme could mean a promising future.”The program at Yellow Door Books is targeted at motivated individuals who have identified gaining employment, paid or unpaid, as one of their goals,” Mr Searles said.”The retail program provides formal training in a supportive environment that’s also a functioning business.”Therefore it offers real on-the-job training, with real customers, rather than simulated training.”In the future under the NDIS when people have their own funding and they’d like to use that for skills development, this would be one of the programs they may consider as an option.”Certainly from the feedback we’ve had we think it’s a program that could be quite attractive.” Photo:
CEO of the Home Support Association Grant Searles (left) with Yellow Door Books staff member Jenny Reeve and Ben Kelly from Rockhampton who is in training at the shop. A social enterprise on Queensland’s Capricorn Coast is giving people with a disability an opportunity to get job-ready and build their confidence and skills.Yellow Door Books in the coastal town of Yeppoon is a social enterprise run by Central Queensland non-profit Home Support Association. Six people with disabilities are currently in training at the shop, learning everything from social skills to technology.Their jobs include sorting, cataloguing and preparing for sale books donated to the shop, customer service, cash handling and using EFTPOS terminals.Home Support Association (HSA) CEO Grant Searles said they took on Yellow Door Books as a means of providing training for people with disability.”To see the growth in our clients as individuals is proof enough the program’s working,” Mr Searles said.”Confidence would be the biggest change we see.”When people first start the program they can be reluctant to be involved, particularly in customer service, but soon that’s a part of the program they really look forward to.”I have discussions weekly with clients, and that’s the first thing they want to talk about — how many sales they’ve made, and how they’re able to use the technology.”Ben Kelly from Rockhampton is currently in training at Yellow Door.He said the social interaction was the highlight of the job.
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ABC Capricornia

By

Chrissy Arthur

and

Jodie van de Wetering

Updated

August 12, 2016 08:30:36

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Yellow Door Books volunteers Yvonne White and Paula Ryan say the increase in confidence in the clients coming through training at the shop is wonderful to see.

Paralysis partly reversed using brain-controlled robotics

Key points:Doctors upgrade patients’ status to “partial paralysis” in four casesOne woman unable to walk for more than a decade, walks with help of bracesStudy combines techniques to stimulate dormant parts of brain
Six men and two women who had completely lost the use of their lower limbs all made significant progress, scientists reported in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports.In four cases, doctors were able to upgrade their status to “partial paralysis”, an unheard-of level of improvement using non-invasive techniques.One of them — a 32-year-old woman paralysed for more than a decade — may have experienced the most dramatic transformation.At the outset of the trial, undertaken at a clinic in Sao Paulo, Brazil, she was unable to stand, even with the help of braces.Within 13 months, she could walk with the help of braces and a therapist, and could produce a walking motion while suspended from a harness.”We couldn’t have predicted this surprising clinical outcome when we began the project,” said Miguel Nicolelis, a neuroscientist at Duke University in North Carolina and the main architect of the rehabilitative research.”Until now, nobody has seen recovery of these functions in a patient so many years after being diagnosed with complete paralysis.”

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A person wears a cap lined with electrodes to record their brain activity. “She could feel the contractions.”The innovative therapy combined several techniques to stimulate parts of the brain that once controlled the patients’ long-inactive limbs.The underlying — but still unproven — theory is that this process provokes changes not only in the brain, but in the damaged spinal cord as well.Mr Nicolelis took the global spotlight in June 2014 when a paraplegic wearing a robotic bodysuit he co-designed delivered the symbolic first kick at football’s World Cup in Brazil.Patients imagine walking while immersed in a digital 3D world
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Walk Again Project led by Dr Miguel Nicolelis
In the new trials, rehabilitation began by learning how to operate a digital Doppelganger, or avatar, within a virtual reality environment.At the same time, patients wore snug caps lined with 11 electrodes to record their brain activity through EEG, or electro-encephalography.Initially, when they were asked to imagine walking while immersed in a digital 3D world, the parts of the brain associated with motor control of the legs failed to light up.”If you said, ‘use your hands’, there was brain activity,” Dr Nicolelis said. Photo:
A person in a harness tries to take some control of their posture during the study. (AASDAP and Lente Viva Filmes)
“But the brain has almost completely erased the representation of their lower limbs.”After months of training, these long-dormant parts of the brain started to wake up.At that point, the patients graduated to more challenging equipment that required some control over their posture, balance and ability to use upper limbs, including overhead harnesses — common in physical therapy centres — that carry the body’s weight.They also used exoskeleton robotics not unlike the articulated, high-tech armour of comic book hero Iron Man.Through all of this, the patients wore an arm sleeve equipped with a touch-technology, called haptic feedback, that uses a range of unique vibrations — something like the buzzing jolts gamers feel in hand-held controllers — to help train the brain.When an avatar walks on sand, for example, the patient feels a different pressure than for grass or asphalt.The patient’s brain creates the illusory feeling that he or she is walking without the assistance of devices.What exactly happens in the body to allow for these improvements is still not clear.Brain creates the illusory feelingAt least one previous study, Dr Nicolelis said, has shown that a large percentage of patients who are diagnosed as having complete paraplegia may still have some spinal nerves left intact.”These nerves may go quiet for many years because there is no signal from the [cerebral] cortex to the muscles,” he speculated.”Over time, training with the brain-machine interface could have rekindled these nerves.”Even a small number of remaining nerve fibres “may be enough to convey signals from the motor cortical area of the brain to the spinal cord”, he suggested.High-tech imaging confirms activity in the brain during training. Patients long paralysed from spinal cord injuries have shown unprecedented gains in mobility and feeling through virtual-reality training and the use of brain-controlled robotics, scientists say. (AASDAP and Lente Viva Filmes)
One of the women sufficiently recovered sensation — on her skin and inside her body — “that she decided to deliver a baby”, Dr Nicolelis said. External Link:

Paraplegic man in robotic suit kicks off World Cup 2014
However, the scanning cannot be used to scrutinise the spinal cord due to the presence of reconstructive metal in the damaged area.In 2014, three young paraplegics were able to voluntarily flex their knees, ankles and toes after US scientists placed implants in their lower spine, hailed as a breakthrough at the time.And earlier this year, a US man paralysed in the arms was able to use his right hand to swipe a credit card and stir coffee thanks to a surgically-inserted chip that allowed his brain to communicate with a computer linked to an electrode sleeve.But the new results may be the first achieved without the use of any invasive devices.With the eight patients now into their second year of training, Dr Nicolelis is preparing a follow-up study looking at changes in their quality of life.Most them recovered some degree of control of basic bodily functions, including bladder control and bowel function.”There has also been improvement in sexual performance for the men,” Dr Nicolelis said.AFP
Updated

August 12, 2016 05:31:06

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Top Brisbane chef to cook food in children’s hospice

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Hummingbird House is due to open by the end of 2016. The head chef at one of Brisbane’s most awarded restaurants has hung up his fine-dining hat to cook for sick children and their families.Mat Fury resigned from the acclaimed Restaurant Two to take over the kitchen at Queensland’s only children’s hospice, Hummingbird House, at Chermside in Brisbane’s north.Mr Fury said he wanted to use food to create memories for sick children.”Food is actually the way to break down the wall to vulnerability,” he said.”With the food that I create with lots of love, it actually supports these people to just sit down, have a chat and just relax.”Not having to cook a meal, not having to think of what you’re going to prepare – instead there’s a chef here that’s going to put up an amazing meal they can just enjoy.”Hummingbird House will open at the end of the year, offering paediatric palliative care for children and their families.It will be the third children’s hospice in the country.Mr Fury said he had already begun designing menus and “special food events” to distract children from their illness.”We’ll have a foundation menu that will run seven days a week and people can order from that,” he said.”Or if children or families want something different, we can do it.”So for an example a child might like to make their mum and dad dinner – I’m the middle point and can help create an experience for that child.”Mr Fury said he saw the job as a chance to give back to the community and help families in need. (Facebook: Hummingbird House)
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Mat Fury wants to create memories for sick children. (Facebook: Hummingbird House)
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Allyson Horn

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August 12, 2016 06:45:58
Anonymous $3 million donation gives Queensland's first children's hospice solid start
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Story dog Lollipop helps kids improve their reading skills

(936 ABC Hobart Carol Rääbus) 936 ABC Hobart

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Carol Rääbus

Posted

August 12, 2016 09:48:09

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Logan reads with Jacqui Brown while Lollipop takes a break from story dog duties.
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Logan reads to Lollipop the story dog. (936 ABC Hobart: Carol Rääbus)
“It’s not a difficult thing to do,” Ms Brown said.”You get a very warm welcome from the schools.”Each dog is assessed by the organisation for its temperament, while the dog’s owner gets support and training with literacy skills.At the moment Lollipop is the only story dog in southern Tasmania.Ms Brown said they were keen to recruit more calm pooches to the cause.”Boxers are well known for loving people, especially children … (936 ABC Hobart: Carol Rääbus)
Story Dogs started in 2009 and has teams working with primary schools all over Australia.The program focuses on children from grade two and up who need a boost with their confidence and reading skills.”Last year we had a boy who was in grade six, he didn’t know all his letters,” Ms Brown said.”He was Lollipop’s first client and by the time he left he was able to read a newspaper, he could read a bus timetable, he could use a computer.”Lollipop made a big difference to him.”Non-judgmental dogs help improve confidenceWhereas a child might be scared or embarrassed to make a mistake reading in front of a human, the dog gives them no judgment and just seems pleased to be with their efforts.Ms Brown and Lollipop work at Austins Ferry Primary School.They have scheduled mornings when they spend time with children one on one. but any dog that’s calm would be wonderful.”More information on how to become a Story Dogs volunteer is available on its website. Lollipop sits looking at Logan as he reads a book about baboons to her.Lollipop is a story dog, tasked with helping kids improve their reading skills in a fun and non-threatening environment.Jacqui Brown is Lollipop’s owner and the Hobart coordinator for Story Dogs.”Many children have emotional upsets in their day,” Ms Brown told Bridget Hickey on 936 ABC Hobart.”The dog is something that calms them.”

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Lollipop the boxer has been a story dog for two years.
Story Dogs program given the lick of approval

Australian Wagyu producer to defend World Steak Challenge title

Wagyu exporter hopes Japanese live trade will resume soon
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Managing director Patrick Warmoll cooks the world’s best steak. If you’ve got five and the world wants five, you’re in trouble.”Australian Wagyu database becoming globally recognisedAccording to the Australian Wagyu Association, which attracted a record 400 producers to its recent annual conference, the world market is unlikely to become over saturated.Chief executive officer Graham Truscott said the greater risk — with Australian Wagyu joinings set to grow to about 820,000 in five years — was from inferior genetics being used by new players. Photo:
Wagyu steak, with the distinctive marbling that gives it its flavour. It may not have the prestige or the following of the Olympic Games, but the hopes of the nation will rest on the broad shoulders of a carefully prepared entrant at a different kind of international event in London in September.New England-based Wagyu beef company, Jack’s Creek, will defend its title as producer of the best steak in the world.With its German partner, Jack’s Creek beat more than 70 producers from 10 nations at the World Steak Challenge last year.Its winning entry came from a Wagyu beast bred at the company’s eponymous farm at Willow Tree in NSW, which was carefully and slowly fattened for about 30 months to achieve the high marbling that gives the Japanese breed its famous full flavour.”When I found out we actually won I gave out a hell of a big cooee,” said Jack’s Creek co-founder David Warmoll.Phillip Warmoll started the company with his brother David in 1990. They had been partners in a family cropping enterprise at Breeza in NSW and were carting grain to feedlots preparing Angus and Jersey cattle for the Japanese Kobe beef market.”I said ‘Well why don’t you use Wagyu?’ and they said ‘You cant get it, they’re protected, it’s a national treasure, you can’t get the semen out of Japan, we have no protocols,’ but the idea was planted in our heads,” Mr Warmoll said.”Years later my brother was in a doctor’s surgery reading Time magazine and he saw there were some bulls in the University of Texas, and he asked me ‘What do you think, do you want to have a go, should we have a go?’ and I said ‘Get onto it’, and we started from there.”‘We are worried about over production’Phillip Warmoll’s sons Patrick, Robert and Stuart are now helping run the export-focused business, producing 12,500 tonnes of Wagyu and Angus beef a year.”We now sell Wagyu to 20 different destinations direct via air freight or sea freight, chilled, frozen, boneless, bone in; we pack four different marble score grades, 27 or 28 different cuts from the carcass, so there’s a lot of different codes being produced and we ship them all over the world these days,” Patrick Warmoll said. (ABC News: Sean Murphy)
“If we don’t get the right genetics in there then of course the product at the end of the supply chain won’t perform, and that’s an issue for us with this very high rate of growth,” Mr Truscott said.Wagyu registrations with the association were growing by about 30 per cent a year, he said, and producers from 25 countries were now registering their Wagyu genetics in Australia.”The Australian database is actually becoming well recognised globally as really the only place to get genetic analysis done and so the world is really looking at Australia in a rather unique way to be able to service the world for the genetic analysis of Wagyu,” Mr Truscott said.See the story on ABC Landline this Sunday at noon. (ABC News: Sean Murphy)
There was room for further growth in the market he said, but with a 30 per cent increase in Australian-bred Wagyu forecast for each of the next five years, there was a risk of over production.”Markets take time to develop sustainably so it’s still a step by step approach by our company and others in the field,” he said.”There’s been a significant expansion of Wagyu breeding and that raises some concerns for us that there’ll be a crash at some point.”David Warmoll agreed that over supply threatened the high prices attracting new producers.”We are worried about over production, if we grow this too quick, the market won’t be there, we’ve got to grow it steadily, steadily,” he said.”It’s like in everything, if you’ve got four of something and the world wants five, you’ve got a market.
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By Sean Murphy

Updated

August 12, 2016 17:21:09

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Jack’s Creek last year won the World Steak Challenge, and is looking to defend their title.
Incredible drone footage captures saltwater muster

Breaking Barriers inspiring Aboriginal youth in western Sydney

Young Indigenous men have highest suicide rate in world
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(702 ABC Sydney: Amanda Hoh)
‘We aren’t scary, we are people’Local police have developed a close relationship with the Mount Druitt Indigenous community and will often alert elders like Mr Hamilton if they notice local youths “going down the wrong track”.The relaxed relationship between the young attendees and police officers was reflected in the calls of some boys who yelled out, “Bye Aunty Jules” to Sergeant Julie Underwood as they left the pool deck.”I think that’s absolutely fabulous; they do treat you like you’re the big aunt,” she said. Photo:
Breaking Barriers aims to improve the health, fitness and confidence of local Indigenous youths. It was started three years ago as a spinoff from Clean Slate Without Prejudice, a boxing program for kids in Redfern. Photo:
Sergeant Julie Underwood with (from left) Kelemete Anderson, Ethan Lewis and Dominic Whitton. (702 ABC Sydney: Amanda Hoh)
Breaking Barriers is a fitness and mentorship program overseen by Indigenous elders and Mount Druitt police who hope to inspire young Aboriginal people to avoid a life of crime. (702 ABC Sydney: Amanda Hoh)
While Sergeant Underwood usually attends the morning sessions in civilian clothes, she will occasionally come dressed in her uniform to remind the kids of her day job.”Unfortunately, a lot of the kids have beliefs with police in relation to older members in their family or in their family circle,” she said.”We’re trying to break that down to say we’re not that bad, we aren’t scary, we are people. It takes away that stigma.”Reducing Aboriginal youth crimeAccording to the most recent report of youth detention by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 54 per cent of all those in detention were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.Mr Hamilton said the community elders were determined to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous youth in the juvenile justice system. When 15-year-old Carly Bates attended her first session at Breaking Barriers, an Aboriginal youth program in western Sydney, she had low confidence and feared the police.Two years later, her attitude towards authorities has turned around.”At first it was really scary when they said the police were involved and we didn’t know what to do,” Carly said.”But the police say they’re here to help us, and if we’re scared to go to them. (702 ABC Sydney: Amanda Hoh)
“Our motto is: Choices we make will affect our tomorrow.”The real reason we do it is to make sure our kids understand that a life of crime is not what they need in their life.”We talk to them about making better choices.”That’s the message getting through to 11-year-old Jamal Wallace, who gave Sergeant Underwood a wave as he walked past.”[The police are] good leaders for the young kids,” Jamal said.”They’re good and teaching us not to be bad.” We also have all our aunties and uncles here that we can go to whenever we want.”

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Carly Bates says the mentors at Breaking Barriers have helped her become more confident. Photo:
The kids race each other across the pool during a fitness session. Breaking Barriers not only creates a social space for the local community through weekly fitness sessions, but it aims to make the young attendees comfortable with talking to authorities.”There’s always a stigma between Aboriginal people and the police that they don’t get along,” Darryl Hamilton, Aboriginal elder and mentor at the program, said.”We’re trying to break those barriers down and make sure our kids are comfortable around police officers instead of being scared by police or not having trust in police.”The group meets every Tuesday and Thursday morning at Emerton Leisure Centre.At one session, about 30 primary and high school students were in the swimming pool balancing on coloured noodles and being put through their paces by a fitness instructor.Afterwards the students were served a healthy breakfast before heading to school.
(702 ABC Sydney: Amanda Hoh) 702 ABC Sydney

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Amanda Hoh

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August 12, 2016 10:44:19

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Young Aboriginal youths are mentored by Mount Druitt police and Indigenous elders.

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Students break record for world’s largest science lesson

Students explore future careers in science and technology at ANU
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(612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe) this is what makes our state great.”I urge you to keep up the science lessons.”

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Students work on the world record attempt in Brisbane
A total of 2,895 students from years five to 10 came together for the lesson.Teacher Anne Brant taught them how magnetic fields worked using the humble paperclip.The record was previously held by students in Durban, South Africa, where 2,102 students attended a lesson.Queensland’s Chief Scientist, Dr Geoff Garnett, said it was great to see how excited the students were to learn about science.”Most teachers would say teaching a class of 30 is a challenge, so teaching 3,000 students is a big challenge.”These children can now look back on their careers and life and say that they were part of a world championship-beating event.”That’s pretty special.”

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Chief Scientist Geoff Garnett says the students will remember the record-breaking day. Photo:
Shambhavi Mishra and Johannes Faller took part in the record attempt. (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
Students Shambhavi Mishra and Johannes Faller said the lesson was conducted without a hitch.”All aspects of science are important in life and we’re so glad we got to help the primary school kids learn more about science too,” Shambhavi said. (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“It’s amazing to think we’ve been part of a world record-breaking event,” Johannes added.Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the world record proved Queensland was strong in the science field.”We had children represented here today from Cairns, Bundaberg and the Sunshine Coast … Thousands of Queensland students have used their love of learning to break the Guinness World Record for the largest ever practical science lesson.
(612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe) 612 ABC Brisbane

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Jessica Hinchliffe

Posted

August 12, 2016 13:33:24

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Students celebrate becoming record holders for the world’s largest science lesson.
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