Biggest Loser, eat your heart out

MONTERREY, Mexico – Manuel Uribe, who once weighed a half ton but has slimmed down to about 317.5kg, celebrates his 43rd birthday on Wednesday with a simple wish for the coming year: to be able to stand on his own two feet to get married.
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Interviewed at his home in northern Mexico, where he can still do little more than sit up on a bed, Uribe said more than two years of steady dieting have helped him drop about 249.4kg from his Guinness record weight of 560.1kg.

He hopes Guinness representatives will confirm in July that he holds a second title: The world’s greatest loser of weight.

But Uribe is still unable to walk his fiancee, Claudia Solis, down the aisle.

"It frustrates me a little, because it is not easy to get out," said Uribe, who has not been able to leave bed for the last six years.

His most recent attempt to escape the house—to attend Solis’ 38th birthday party in March—fell through when a flatbed tow truck brought to transport his reinforced bed got caught beneath an underpass.

But Uribe vowed not to be deterred: "We are in love, and this year my birthday wish is to be able to stand when we get married," he said.

Uribe said he met Solis, a 38-year-old hairdresser, four years ago. They have been together for the last two.

"We are a couple," Uribe said. "We have sex, and in the eyes of God we are already married."

Proudly showing off her sparkling engagement ring, Solis said life with a heavyweight is not always easy.

"I bathe him every day, and we get along very well," she said. "At times, yes, people say things … that it’s a fake relationship, but what we have is real."

Solis said her family initially opposed the match with Uribe, because her first husband, who was also obese, died of respiratory failure.

"They were worried about me being involved with another fat man, because they thought another husband would die on me," she said.

Uribe, a former auto parts dealer, said his birthday party Wednesday will be a low-key dinner with the family.

"We were going to go out, but the last time out scared me so much," he said. "When we crashed into the lighting conduits on the underpass, I thought we were going to get an electric shock."

Uribe said his weight problem spiraled out of control after he moved to the United States for a few years in 1988 and indulged in a nonstop diet of junk food and soft drinks.

A botched liposuction that damaged his lymph nodes left him with giant tumors on both legs weighing a total of 99.8kg. The tumors are the main reason he is unable to walk.

"It is all because of the junk food," he said.

About two years ago, a team of doctors stepped in to help Uribe change his eating habits and tackle his extreme obesity.

Today he says he eats small portions of food five times a day, including chicken, ham, egg-white omelets, fruit and vegetables. Sitting in bed, Uribe exercises his arms with pull-ups and by pedaling with his hands.

Hoping his struggle will inspire others, he plans to launch the Manuel Uribe Foundation this year to educate people about nutrition and to combat obesity—a growing problem in Mexico.

Solis is focused more on the present.

"It is a miracle he is still alive," she said. "He’s going to turn 43, and that is something we have to celebrate."


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Jim and family to bid city farewell

Chiropractor Jim Karagiannis loves living in Dubbo where “you can walk down the street and know everyone”.
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He loves the city’s geographical expanse, not to mention the ease of commuting from home to work and vice versa.

But most of all the young professional, who has called Dubbo home for six years, just can’t speak highly enough about what he sees as the city’s greatest asset – its people.

“I’m absolutely captivated by the openness of people here in terms of kindness and generosity,” he said yesterday during a break from attending to patients at his practice in Bultje Street.

But there’s something else this Dubbo fan loves and misses – his family back in Melbourne.

Yesterday Mr Karagiannis confirmed that with his wife Bettina, also a chiropractor, he had made the decision to pack up and move back to the Victorian capital.

Since the birth of their sons, Sebastian, 4, and Xavier, 14 months, the couple has come to realise that living near relatives is in the best interests of their little ones.

Mr Karagiannis said yesterday that he and his wife were “family-orientated”.

“I’ve got a Greek background – I’m sure I’m related to half of Melbourne,” he joked.

In fact what brought the couple to Dubbo in the first place was a desire to be closer to Victoria and loved ones.

They had been working in Darwin and did plenty of research before choosing “the fastest-growing area in country NSW”, Dubbo, to buy an existing chiropractic clinic and start a family.

The couple was immediately welcomed into the community and responded by working their way into the fabric of the city.

Early on Mr Karagiannis served as president of the Newtown Cricket Club before joining South Dubbo Rotary Club and throwing himself into such projects as Operation CINOAH which saw “children in need of a holiday” hosted in Dubbo earlier this year.

Yesterday Mr Karagiannis said he and his wife would “never forget” their children’s place of birth.

“It’ll always be a big part of us,” he said.

“Really we’re not leaving Dubbo – we’re just moving on to something else.”

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Probe into regional radio comes to end

The capacity of country radio stations to broadcast emergency weather, fire and flood warnings has emerged as a key concern at a parliamentary inquiry into regional broadcasting.
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House communications committee chairman Paul Neville said a gradual increase in networking had led to some stations being unstaffed overnight, at weekends or after midday.

Programs were broadcast from a hub sometimes hundreds of kilometres away, and emergency calls and faxes to the local station could go unnoticed, Mr Neville said.

“It’s a problem we didn’t expect to find and it’s confirmed wherever we go,” he said, as the committee wound up a gruelling program of public hearings in remote communities and regional centres.

“I don’t think it’s deliberately cavalier … it’s happened more insidiously. It’s quietly occurred over time as each program has dropped off … no protocols have been put in place.”

The committee heard evidence from the NSW State Emergency Service, the Country Fire Authority and the Bureau of Meteorology that it was harder to get emergency warnings broadcast since the advent of networking.

But Mr Neville said some stations had excellent emergency systems, with a staff contact list circulated to local authorities and the station remaining an integral part of the community disaster management plan.

While he could not pre-empt the committee’s recommendations, due in June, he said the main concerns lay with commercial stations, as the ABC had a policy of broadcasting live in cyclone regions.

“But the ABC listenership fluctuates between about 20 and 25 per cent … I suspect more come on during cyclone emergencies, but you’ve got to ask yourself, what are the other 75 per cent of people doing for information?” he said.

The committee has also been asked to recommend minimum local content hurdles, a return to enshrining service obligations in licence conditions and a freeze on new licences. Networked stations account for 86 per cent of the 251 commercial radio licences.

Operators have complained of shrinking revenues during a 65 per cent increase in licences issued during the 1990s.

Mr Neville said it was possible to have viable, locally-based radio stations and said many regional listeners were being short-changed.

“If you listen to a lot of the talkback, even on the ABC, you get the capital city problems, and why should you have to listen to the shock jocks when a local presenter talking about local issues would be equally relevant,” he said.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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$1.2 billion to fix traffic woes

Lord Mayor Campbell Newman will throw an unprecedented $1.2 billion at the city’s worst traffic congestion hot spots, including intersection and level crossing overhauls.
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Kingsford Smith Drive, Wynnum Road at Wynnum West, Progress Road in Wacol and Blunder Road in Doolandella are among the bottlenecks and black spots to be targeted as part of Cr Newman’s $2.66 billion Brisbane City Council budget announced today.

The four-year "Road Action" spending plan does not include an estimated $137.7 million council will fork out for the Trans Apex suite of tunnel and bridge projects.

Cr Newman said the suburban-focused roads budget would fund $100 million-plus upgrades to level rail crossings at Geebung, Bald Hills and Wynnum West.

And $44 million would be spent on road intersection upgrades.

"By targeting these congestion hot spots I hope to see improvements to Brisbane’s overall roads network," Cr Newman said.

Record dollars will also be ploughed into public transport.

Cr Newman will spend $60 million each year on buses for the next four years as part of his promise to put 125 new vehicles on the road each year.

Two new City Cats will be built in the new financial year at a cost of $3.7 million, while $5.4 million will go towards upgrading the Bulimba, Hawthorne and St Lucia City Cat terminals.

Willawong bus depot will be completed with a $39 million injection and design work will kick off on two more depots on the city’s north and south.

And to begin work on the council’s planned $100 million bikeway network, Cr Newman has allocated $25 million in this coming financial year alone.

"To put this in context, council spent $25.9 million on bikeways over the past four years, so we’re effectively spending in one year what we just did in four," he said.

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Austin rewarded for 40 years of dedication

The public service is not a “cushy” job according to Dubbo resident Austin Jupp, who has just been rewarded for more than 40 years work in the public sector.
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Mr Jupp was presented with the State Government’s long-service medallion at a ceremony in Sydney recently and said the perception of the public service as a laid-back career was mistaken.

“The public service is very accountable for its time, cost and performance and if you don’t measure up you’ll be shown the door,” he said.

Mr Jupp started work in Sydney on February 17 1959 with the Valuer-General’s Department and retired in Dubbo in December 1999.

He was recommended by the department for the medallion, given out for meritorious service.

“Not everyone who works for 40 years gets one so I was very honoured – I didn’t expect it,” Mr Jupp said.

“It is a satisfying reward for years of commitment and dedication.”

Despite starting his career in Sydney Mr Jupp soon moved to country areas and said he loved every minute of it.

“I’ve worked in the north-west and central coast of NSW as well as the central west,” he said.

“I’ve always worked with rural people and those people, plus the places I have been, are the real highlights of my career. I was promoted and came to Dubbo in 1987 and I only decided to come here because I could still work with country people.”

Mr Jupp agreed these days it was unusual for people to stay in the one job for such a long period.

“Managers now would probably look for someone who had changed jobs and tried different things,” he said.

“But when I started out I certainly expected to be working for 40 years and I had no intention of going anywhere else – I was extremely happy where I was.”

Since his retirement Mr Jupp said he had been enjoying life to the full.

“I’m still doing a bit of contract valuing work for private companies but mostly I have been enjoying time with my grandchildren and growing orchids,” he said.

“My wife and I are also involved with Holy Trinity Church which is great.

“I loved my work but after 40 years I was definitely ready to retire.”

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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