Beware all of those women who choose to fly in comfort…
“What is happening today is the writing of a history written by every Syrian citizen.”
Surely things have gone too far…
The Kanye saga keeps getting weirder and weirder…
A duffel bag containing weapons and drugs was allegedly thrown from Brown’s house.
“For their own safety, women foreign tourists should not wear short dresses and skirts.”
“I saw bodies flying like bowling pins along its route.”
Right now, Australia doesn’t know who will be Prime Minister.
The World Health Organization’s declaration will trigger funding for research.
“His words are not comical, his words are not funny. His words are poisonous.”
The number of dead victims is currently unknown.
A woman has been convicted of killing her 5-year-old son with copious amounts of salt after blogging and using social media to publish her ‘findings’ on the dangers of sodium to children.
Lacey Spears was said to have revelled in the attention of her son, Garnett-Paul’s illness and her actions were described by the Assistant District Attorney, Patricia Murphy, as “nothing short of torture”.
“The motive is bizarre, the motive is scary, but it exists.”
Doctors testified at the trial that there was no known medical explanation for the high sodium levels found in the boy’s bloodstream that led to death.
Despite Spears’s defence stating there was no direct evidence of a crime, two feeding bags were found at the family home that were excessively tainted with salt. One had approximately equal to 69 teaspoons.
Spears was convicted of second-degree murder.
Images via AP and facebook
The recent fires in Adelaide have served as a grim reminder that bushfires aren’t just a concern for country residents. There are plenty of suburbs around the country which are literally a disaster waiting to happen. I recently sat down with Brian, a lifelong rural resident with exceptional acknowledge and a survivor of the tragic Black Saturday fires of 2009.
While he spoke, it became startlingly obvious that if I was ever caught in a bushfire, I’d be in serious trouble. More apparent was the fact that I probably wouldn’t be alone. There are so many aspects of bushfires that most city and suburban dwellers just aren’t aware of. So, when Brian shared his experience about escaping the Black Saturday bushfires, his life saving information prompted me to write this article in a quest to spread the word and hopefully save some lives.
Now, most of us would have heard the warnings about pre-planning and deciding whether to stay or go BEFORE a fire approaches? How many of us in the city or suburbs really take notice? I’ll admit that I’ve never really considered it. I’ve assumed those warnings are mainly for residents in fire prone areas. Naive really, because bushfires can strike anywhere.
During the conversation, I realised that my naivety would have cost my life and the lives of my family. I don’t know if you recall, but during the Black Saturday fires, people were found burned alive in their cars? What a terrifying thought and my heart goes out to their loved ones. I assumed it was because the fires surrounded them, leaving no way to escape. In reality, it may have been something very different.
Imagine a combustion heater and the way it works. Without fuel and oxygen, they just go out. Most have a lever which oxygen levels can be adjusted to reduce or increase the heat. A bushfire works exactly the same way. The more fuel and oxygen it can get, the hotter and more deadly it becomes.
Cars also need air to circulate around the engine to keep running. Without it the car ceases, just like running out of petrol. So like me, if your plan would be to wait until the last minute and jump into your car to escape an oncoming fire, you would very likely die. At some point the engine would cease and you’re brilliant escape plan would actually put you right in harms way.
Thankfully, a car can still roll if you’re on a downward slope. Brian explained that his car’s engine ceased on the way down a hill toward safety, during Black Saturday. He let the car roll and tried to restart the engine. Luckily, as he approached the base of the hill, the engine restarted. Apparently the air concentration was greater at the lower altitude, plus the distance from the fire had also increased. Without this knowledge, Brain could have very likely become trapped in his car and become another fatality.
My conversation with Brian was a massive wake up call. I hadn’t ever considered the way bushfire works or how incompatible an escape in a car would be. Despite seeing the commercials and billboards about planning for a bushfire, I’d neglected to understand the significance of the message; plan to stay or go BEFORE the fire.
Now I know why, the message really hits home. There’s no escape in a vehicle once the fire gets close. Due to the intensity of the heat, the safest option is to leave the area well and truly before a fire rips through. Your home and belongings can be replaced, but your life and that of your loved ones can’t. Please share this information in a quest to make all bushfires, fatality free.
Image via media.news.com.au
A lot happened in 2014. The world lost some amazing talent, Aussies got a royal visit and experienced terrorism first hand. Plus, the world readied itself for the spread of Ebola and flying via Malaysia Airlines became a risk many wanted to avoid. We spare a few moments on this final day of the year to take a look back at some of the big events which got our attention during 2014.
The Ukraine and Crimean Crisis
Political events in Ukraine and Russia seemed to dominate global news from late 2013 and continued for most of 2014. Crimea announced its independence from Ukraine on March 17 and over 300 000 Ukraine protesters gathered in Kiev’s Independence Square, against the decision. The authorised slaughter of over 100 protesters saw the fall of Ukraine’s President, who fled the country to avoid criminal charges. The residents of Ukraine elected themselves a new President with the hope of stopping the civil and political unrest, however tension in the region remains.
In February, the spread of Ebola – which began in West Africa – startled health officials as they scrambled to contain the outbreak. Fearing the next AIDS epidemic, the World Health Organization implemented treatment protocols as health care workers began contracting the deadly virus. Thankfully Ebola hasn’t progressed to be the global epidemic, many health officials had feared.
The trial of Oscar Pistorius
The world watched on as the Oscar Pistorious trial began is South Africa on March 3rd. Accused of killing his lover, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14 2013, the trial took many months, concluding with a guilty verdict of culpable homicide. Sentenced to five years imprisonment, the former Paralympian is said to be appealing his sentence.
The mystery of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 began on March 8, when the plane disappeared with 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board. A massive search and rescue operation was performed, but failed when the plane and its occupants literally vanished from the sky.
The Australian Royal Visit
In April, Aussies got a glimpse of William, Kate and little Prince George. For die-hard Royalists, it was an opportunity too good to miss. There was a little controversy about the royal trio skipping Melbourne on their travels, but all in all the royal visit was reasonably well received.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over the Russian/Ukraine border on July 17, on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 283 passengers and 15 on board lost their lives. Officials are currently investigating and the report is due to be released in August 2015.
The death of Robin Williams
The world was stunned by the sudden death of Robin Williams on August 11. Most of us had a tear to shed and fondly remembered the talented actor/comedian. His much loved characters were forever immortalised in history by his passing and quotes like “Captain, my Captain”, “Good Morning Vietnam” and of course “nanoo nanoo” reigned across social media.
Terror in Sydney
On December 16, Australians experienced a first-hand account of terrorism. A lone gunman stormed a local Sydney coffee shop in Martin Place, holding hostages and the city captive. Aussies across the nation watched breaking news in disbelief as events unfolded. The following day, the resilience of Australian residents was revealed to the world. Millions of flowers were laid in honour of the two victims who tragically lost their lives and displayed sheer determination as they reclaimed their beloved city.
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“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
“I’m not racist, I just hate Chinese people – oh and all the Muslims, of course.”
A heinous outlook, isn’t it? I’m not kidding – someone recently said this appallingly racist, stupid and ignorant statement to my face.
And in the wake of Monday’s 16-hour Sydney siege – which saw three people die, including two innocent hostages and the gunman at the centre of the siege at the Lindt Chocolate Café, Martin Place, in Sydney’s CBD – let’s look at Australia’s dark, ugly underbelly of racism, which has once again surged to the fore of public consciousness.
The siege, when ended in tragedy in the early hours of last Tuesday morning, has caused an outpouring of public grief and inevitable finger-pointing and conflicting opinion.
On the positive, the site of the siege has now become an ever-expanding sea of beautiful floral tributes as far as the eye can see. And the widely supported #illridewithyou hashtag, in support of peace-loving Muslims now scared of public retaliatory attacks and abuse on public transport, reflected great solidarity in the face of terror and mad extremism.
But nothing can bring back the dead – the innocent victims of the bloody siege – café manager Tori Johnson, 34, and barrister and mother of three Katrina Dawson, 38.
Their loved ones must be experiencing unimaginable grief and our hearts go out to them. And some of the 17 hostages held during the siege have returned to the scene of their terrifying ordeal to leave tributes. But their lives will never be the same – it will take great courage and strength to put this torment behind them.
But at a time for the nation’s sorrow, reflection and unity – and respect for the siege victims and their families – those who peddle racial vilification found a new hate target.
“All muslims are evil!” ranted some. And: “Refugees should go back to where they came from!” And the old racist’s standby: “You’re type aren’t welcome in our country!”
Police have also reported an increase in anti-Muslim sentiment and racial attacks since the siege. I like to think and hope that the majority of Australians will not tolerate such senseless, rampant racism peddled by the stupid, uneducated, prejudiced and uninformed.
Let’s all rise up to defend fellow peace-loving citizens in our community, no matter what their culture, race, religion or creed.
For the terrible atrocities committed by a mad, evil and lone Muslim gunman with a violent past is no excuse to let senseless and vile hatred infiltrate our lives. Many many peace-loving and law-abiding moderate Muslims live among us and have condemned the Sydney siege.
And sure, standing up to racist bullies isn’t easy – especially if it’s someone you know, as in my case – but we owe it to ourselves and our children to do what’s right.
Let’s hope the inherent good in most people triumphs over illogical, blind, bitter and baseless racial vilification.
For racism has no place in multicultural, modern Australia. I won’t stand for it. Will you?
What do you think?
COS (Collection of Style) will open their first Australian store on Friday 28th November in Melbourne. The much-loved international label is renowned for it’s essentials which include both an extensive mens and women’s collection.
The first store in the Southern Hemisphere will follow in the COS design aesthetic, and bring modern sophistication to Australian’s all year round. Similarly, the store will follow with a minimalist approach; the exterior will use glass and steel, and create a welcoming environment to customers once it opens.
Marie Honda, COS Managing Director says of the expected opening;
“Opening our first store in Australia and the first in the Southern Hemisphere is an exciting step for the brand and we hope that people will enjoy exploring and experiencing the brand”.
Where: The Strand Melbourne
Elizabeth Street and Little Bourke Street
Time: Friday 28th November, 12pm
Share with us some of your purchases by commenting below!
American Apparel mannequins in New York have been stopping passers-by in their tracks thanks to their more ‘natural’ appearance.
Yep, the mannequins are sporting pubic hair. And it’s been a few weeks since Ms. Mannequin has had a waxing appointment too.
The mannequins in American Apparel’s Valentine’s Day-themed windows in their Lower East Side store are showing off something we haven’t seen on mannequins before – generous 1970’s-style pubic hair under their sheer white lingerie.
“American Apparel is a company that celebrates natural beauty, and the Lower East Side Valentine’s Day window continues that celebration,” the company said in a statement to Elle.com.
“We created it to invite passerbys to explore the idea of what is ‘sexy’ and consider their comfort with the natural female form.
“So far we have received positive feedback from those that have commented and we’re looking forward to hearing more points of view.”
Publicity stunt, sure, but is it cool or confronting? What do you think of the American Apparel mannequins?
We love any technology that helps women protect themselves, so we were really excited to hear about a new app – created by an Australian grandfather! – called GotU, which is the new essential app for all women.
GotU turns the table of attackers by capturing and transmitting photographic evidence of any threat or attack, within seconds to only the user’s chosen trusted recipients. The message received includes a tamperproof image of the situation, a map and GPS co-ordinates, date, time and other data.
And it couldn’t be easier to use. Just one touch, and the photo and data are recorded and sent.
GotU was conceived by Keith Jolly, a 72-year-old semi-retired IT professional, and a grandfather of five from rural New South Wales. In 2011 he and his wife witnessed an assault on a Sydney train. As the attack took place in front of horrified passengers, Mr Jolly realised he needed an app on his smartphone that immediately transmitted evidence of a crime to secure locations, before any offender had time to take or destroy his phone, and without becoming a target himself.
Mr. Jolly said GotU is also intended to record, and potentially deter other harmful incidents. These include alcohol induced violence, bullying, sexual harassment, workplace and campus harassment and assault, taxi violence, racial crime, stalking, abduction, rape, mistreatment of the elderly and disabled, assault and institutional persecution. GotU can also be a useful tool for witnessing violations of restraining orders and AVOs.
We think GotU is an essential app for any smartphone user, and at only $1.99, it’s a no-brainer. Download it for yourself, your kids, or gift a friend.
Mr Jolly and his colleagues are donating a percentage of proceeds to global anti-violence organisations. GotU is not an alternative to calling the emergency services but an app Mr Jolly says he wished he had had on his smartphone that day on the train in 2011.
GotU was launched globally to coincide with the UN’s 16 Days of activism against gender violence, and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. According to the World Health Organisation’s first global study into the prevalence of violence against women released in July, nearly 30% of women globally have suffered sexual and/or physical violence, often at hands of their partner.
Visit www.gotutech.com to download the app now.
Squats in exchange for free public transport – sound like a good thing?
That’s the idea that’s been implemented in Moscow to promote the upcoming 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Passengers who do 30 squats will get a free train ticket.
Train stations in the Russian capital have installed new machines which track your squats and dispense a train ticket once your 30 are done.
And it’s not just those lazy squats most of us try and get away with – the machines make sure you do proper, butt-burning squats. You’ll be sure to feel it on your commute home, that’s for sure.
So a free train ticket and a tight butt without stepping foot into the gym – we think that’s a pretty good deal!
As an Australian, it would be fair to say Americans hardly think of us at all. We are quick to call them culturally insular for this oversight, but consider the fact they have 320 million people of their own to consider. We see them through the kaleidoscope of American TV, and they do much the same thing with us. Steve Irwin is largely responsible for the perception of Australia as a land filled with poisonous animals. There is some residual fear they’ll be met at Arrivals by a gigantic spider and stabbed through the heart. Most people have seen the Australian version of Kath and Kim and they like our accent. They’ve heard of Tim Minchin and they’ve listened to ACDC. They say we never stop complaining about how expensive video games are in Australia and they admire our liberal use of the c-word. Then they usually say the c-word aloud. They say it just the once because they’ve always wanted to try it out. I usually nod and don’t bother explaining we’re not that liberal with it.
They say they would like to visit but don’t expect they ever will. And this is where the conversation gets wistful.
They ask about healthcare… ‘Is it true you have socialised medicine over there?’ They ask about long waiting lists and people dying of cancer, unable to access oncology doctors in time. No, I tell them, if it is urgent enough treatment will begin right away. That’s when they sit back in their chairs and start blinking. The TV show, Breaking Bad, ran for five seasons in the US as Walt raised the money to pay his medical bills by cooking meth. I like to tell Americans if they made the show in Australia it would go something like, ‘You have lung cancer.’ ‘Well, I’d better get chemo.’ End of season. Walt could have received subsidised chemo from a less reputable doctor his health insurer covered, but his wife wanted the best. There would still be deductibles and leave without pay, putting them in the red.
Healthcare is expensive for the self-employed, but often covered by an employer in the US. They take poorly paid jobs, ‘with great benefits.’ The major benefit is their medical bills will be covered by the employer. If they need to see a specialist, they’ll be assigned only those doctor covered by their insurer. If they want an expensive procedure like an MRI, the doctor will weigh a patient’s request against how much money it will cost their practice, should the health insurer not cover it. The patient will seek a second and third opinion, because they know treatments get denied because of the expense. The doctor bills the health insurance company at inflated rates to cover their own personal liability costs, in case they get sued for malpractice. Everybody is doing advanced math. When I call a doctor in the US, I haggle with the receptionist. “How much will he do a blood test for…What if I pay cash?” Usually, I do it on-line and pay a doctor I’ve never met in Texas for the referral.
The next line of enquiry is about college. If you have watched American TV, ‘saving for college’ is a plot device that comes up a lot. According to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2012, the average US student graduates with $24,000 of debt. That is a four-year bachelor’s degree, a Master’s program can run it into six figures. Over 40% of people paying back loans are between 30 and 50 years of age. 17% are over 60.
The debt is a mix of government and private loans and here is where it gets ugly: the interest rate varies between 3.8 to 10 percent on these loans. These loans cannot be defaulted on, even with bankruptcy. Americans watched on television as houses slid into the canals of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and I heard one woman say, “And you know, they are still going to have to pay back their student loans.” If you are injured and receiving a government disability cheque, they will garnish this income. If you default on your student loan and your future employer runs a credit check, you might not get the job with a poor credit history.
But the taxes are low. The food and petrol is cheap. It has to be. It is the most wonderful place to visit for the diversity and the natural beauty and their courage, which looks a lot like cheerfulness. I admire the cheerfulness of the old man packing my grocery bags with his gnarled hands. It’s not what he expected to be doing at his age, but cheerfulness is the enemy of entitlement. It says, I’m getting on with it.
So they see us funny and laid-back. Our humour is blunt and we take the piss, which sometimes confuses them. Making fun of an American is a bit like teasing the girl with an anxiety disorder. She looks bewildered at first and then her feelings get hurt. And they see Australia as a place they wouldn’t mind living but can’t afford to visit and they hope to get here someday and know they probably won’t.
Vivienne Walshe is an Australian playwright and screenwriter. Her plays have been highly awarded and published by Currency Press. As an actress she appeared on The Secret Life of Us and many other television shows and performed in plays at the Melbourne Theatre company, Sydney Theatre company and Queensland Theatre company.
When the reports come in of a school shooting in the US, as an Australian I would wonder how a gun ever got into the hands of a teenager? How that teenager could drive themselves to a school and press the trigger down on a semi-automatic weapon and spray bullets at children? Too many levels of unfathomable to take in. A teenager with a gun. Who drove himself to high school. Who wants to kill children. It becomes something that happens in the US and we file it away under Crazy Shit Americans Do.
When I visited my sister who lives in California, the first thing she said was, “Let’s do something you want to do and then something I want to do”. I really wanted to visit Berkeley campus and see where Alan Ginsberg first read ‘Howl’ aloud. It was still an unfinished poem and in the recording, you can hear the audience murmur and shout back with all the unsaid things, heard for the first time. My sister replied, “Whatever. Then we’ll go to a shooting range.” An indoor range is terrifying for the noise and the strange collection of people who are taking it seriously. I shot a single bullet. My hands trembled and then I was done. In the cubicle next to me, a boy of ten or eleven blasted away at a rifle. I wanted to leave as soon as I got there.
When I finally moved to the US, I had a cup of tea with a lovely yoga devotee, the first date I’d been on – an American date with an American man! Whilst we sat cross legged on his couch drinking herbal tea, I asked him what the vault across the room was for? “My gun safe,” he said and looked sheepish. How many guns were in there, I asked. “Six or seven,” he lied. It turned out to be ten rifles and ten handguns. Glocks, Berettas, M1A, and my personal favourite for its sheer butchness, a fancy sawn off shot-gun called The Alaskan. He had enough ammo to supply a militia and that’s where I learned something about the second amendment and the American psyche. They are woven together in a way that’s hard to understand, looking in.
The second amendment gives every American the right to bear arms and form a militia. The sentiment with so many Americans is that government is a group of people elected to perform an impossible task: managing three hundred million people with two porous borders. Americans often feel it can’t be done to good effect and that they are alone. They watched the images from Hurricane Katrina, people stranded for days on the top of their house, waving listlessly at the helicopters. It confirmed their fears: you will not be rescued in your time of need. In most of the houses I’ve been welcomed into in America, there are emergency provisions; enough canned food to last three or four days, torches and water. It’s tucked away in the garage without much fanfare. Other houses have full on bug-out bags stocked with enough gear to last three or four months if they have to scurry into the hills. Hell, Mormons are required to stock enough food and water to last two years and outlive the rapture. As an Australian, if you’ve ever wondered what would happen in a drought/flood/fire that left you stranded, I would like to think we’d co-operating with our neighbours, at least before the chaos set in. In America, it’s game on. No one is coming to get you and if they do, it might be for the water in your swimming pool and they’ll kill you if they have to. That’s when you’ll need a gun.
You can’t really hold a handgun or a shotgun in your hands without considering the circumstances of when you would use it. You don’t fasten on a pair of skis and never consider the snow. What you weigh in your mind, as you hold that gun in your hand, is whether or not you could pull the trigger on another human being. Going to the gun range, you’ll find the elderly Vietnamese man, the young tough guy, the Persian, the father and son combos. I don’t know how they feel about killing a person, but the idea has been squared away because of so many handguns on display, and you don’t shoot a deer with one of those.
I think I’d rather die than live knowing I killed a person, but that’s what the Americans call a Victim Mentality and so I tried getting into the spirit of things. If I was robbed by someone with a gun? Nope, I probably wouldn’t. What if my beloved was about to get shot? Okay, maybe then. To hold a gun is to feel out your moral boundary and see where the lines are drawn. For a lot of the men at the range, it’s to play out the hero scenarios on high rotation, at least it was for the guy I was dating. Is it the culture that’s emasculated them or the gun that plants the idea?
Americans are perceived as being disingenuous; both friendly and cunning is the cultural identity. International politics and multinational interests, the NSA, the Iraq/Afghanistan war, the aggressive free-trade agreement with Australia, that’s a lot of cunning. But as an Australian living in the US, I understand why Americans are this way with each other. They have nothing to fall back on and they are alone. It’s a very thin social fabric here, the taxes are low but the roads are poor, the food is cheap but public school are funded by local council rates on their homes; wealthy area = wealthy school, poor area = poor school. Wouldn’t you make nice-nice and take care of your own interests under these circumstances? The other day, my GPS took me through Skid Row in Los Angeles’ downtown area and I got to see what happens when you fall through the cracks. This isn’t just a row, it goes on for blocks and blocks and it’s the stuff of horror films. You can’t have a Skid Row in the middle of downtown and not feel it echo through the rest of the city. The sky really is limitless in the US, but the fall is Wile E. Coyote over the canyon’s edge. Beep, beep. Whistle.
What surprised me about the people in America is that if you are trusted and loved by a friend, the bond is deep; survival deep. You only have each other after all and in a way, you form your own militia. And the gun. You have the gun. And if you want to throw a couple of rifles into the back of a pick-up and drive through endless national forest, no one can damn well-stop you. Americans fight to maintain as much personal freedom as they can, as if they were still on the wagon, riding it over the plains. Freedoms I didn’t know I had the right to exercise in Australia, because they’ve already been taken away. But I think they get it wrong on the guns.
What do you think about gun control in the USA vs Australia?
Glee star Cory Monteith died of a “mixed drug toxicity” of heroin and alcohol, officials say.
“At this point there is no evidence to suggest Mr. Monteith’s death was anything other than a most-tragic accident,” the BC Coroners Service said in a statement.
“There was evidence in the room that was consistent with a drug overdose,” confirmed police spokesman Constable Brian Montague.
An autopsy and toxicology tests were performed on Monteith, 31, after he was found dead in a Vancouver hotel on Sunday morning.
Monteith had been out with three people the night before, but returned to his hotel room alone in the early hours.
The Canadian-born actor had recently completed a month-long stint in rehab after a lifelong battle with substance abuse.
Meanwhile girlfriend and co-star Lea Michele has been grieving with Monteith’s family.
“Lea is deeply grateful for all the love and support she’s received from family, friends, and fans,” she said in a statement issued today.
“Since Cory’s passing, Lea has been grieving alongside his family and making appropriate arrangements with them.
“They are supporting each other as they endure this profound loss together.”