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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No fairytale for Nyngan after defeat by CYMS

Dubbo CYMS prevented Nyngan from writing their own fairytale by defeating the Tigers in their first official match as part of Group 11 on Sunday.
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CYMS made the trip to Larrikin Oval for the first official trial for both clubs, the Dubbo team handling the wet conditions best to run out 34-12 winners.

Justin Yeo, the Group’s leading try scorer and player of the year last season, picked right up from where he left off by scoring two tries for CYMS, second rower Alton Oates also crossing twice.

In front of a good home-town crowd, who turned out to support the fledgling team despite the persistent rain, Nyngan scored first in the match to take a 6-0 lead.

But that only stung the visitors into action who scored four unanswered tries before half-time to take a 22-6 lead into the break.

Prop Nic Wilson, who barged over after taking an inside ball from halfback Luke Jenkins, Oates, Robbie Dunn and Yeo all found their way over the tryline – Yeo’s four pointer a simple show of strength with the powerful centre too strong for the Tigers defence from 10 metres out.

Oates scored again at the start of the second half and in almost a mirror image of his first try Yeo then crashed over again, the captain-coach setting the example for his players.

CYMS were caught short out wide and Nyngan scored a consolation try late in the match, but it wasn’t enough to prevent an impressive CYMS from taking honours.

The win has set the scene for an intriguing local derby this Friday night when CYMS and Macquarie clash in the last of their official Group 11 trials.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Rixon urges debutant Pilon to relax

New South Wales cricket coach Steve Rixon wants Pura Cup debutant Nathan Pilon to treat the crucial match against Victoria starting this week as just another day at the office.
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Rixon yesterday acknowledged the pressure the St George wicket-keeper would be under when he walked on to the SCG turf on Friday in the four-day match.

Pilon, 24, replaces regular keeper Brad Haddin, who arrived in India on Monday to fill in for the injured Adam Gilchrist in Australia’s three-day match against a Board President’s XI starting yesterday.

But it will be a tough initiation.

The Blues moved to six points behind Pura Cup leaders Queensland and Victoria (28 points) on the Pura Cup table with their outright victory over the Bulls at the SCG on Monday.

NSW will play both these sides in a bid to make the final on March 23 to 27.

Rixon said Pilon, originally from Dubbo, would perform better in the pressure cooker atmosphere of first class cricket if he relaxed.

“The best results come from those who are most relaxed,” Rixon said.

“My emphasis will be on him just going about his job like another day’s play.

“If we start to think of it as anything but another’s day play, it’ll start to build pressure that’s not needed.”

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Dam close, but ‘near enough not good enough’

Short of significant rainfalls this week, the combined dam levels, currently at 39.45 per cent, won’t get to the restriction-easing 40 per cent mark, water authorities said .
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Queensland Water Commission CEO John Bradley said today that"near is not good enough. There will be no easing of the water restrictions because half a per cent represents 10 billion litres of water, or half a day’s supply. I’m sure the community will understand."

Brisbane residents may now have to wait until this summer for the dams to pass the threshold.

"We would need 35 to 40mm sometime this week to get up to 40 per cent," said Mike Foster, a spokesman for SEQ Water.

"If we don’t get those, the catchments will start to dry out again."

Bureau of Meteorology Senior Forecaster Vikash Prasad said although falls of 30mm are expected with late showers on Friday, Brisbane will only have isolated showers during the week.

"The catchments might get a few millimetres, but confined to a few places [in the catchment]," he said.

Mr Foster said the recent rain had been a welcome surprise, as winter is typically a low-rainfull period for the region.

"Usually we’re gearing up for a dry spell," he said.

Not reaching 40 per cent has doused hopes that water restrictions might be eased.

Mr Foster said the easing of restrictions from Level 6 to Level 5 would have meant residents could have used 170 Litres a day, up from the current 140 Litres

He addded that they would have also been allowed minimal watering of gardens with a hose and bucket.

Even though water releases from the dams are expected to overtake inflows on Monday, the past week of rain Mr Foster said the recent rain has added between eight to ten weeks.

"This [rain ] has been a great benefit," he said. Source: The Sun-Herald

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We’ll find a solution

The Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) has reaffirmed its commitment to find a solution for a family of six living in an asbestos-riddled home in South Dubbo.
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AHO chief executive James Christian yesterday reiterated the offer to rehouse Wayne and Angela Wilson and their four children who have lived in the potential death trap for almost three years.

Both the AHO and Department of Aboriginal Affairs have also offered to cover demolition costs of the three-bedroom house. But the family is refusing to budge without guarantees they can return to a new house on the same Bennett Street site.

The issue was brought to light this week by the property manager, Dubbo Koori Housing Corporation, which said the AHO “should come to the party” and pay for the rebuilding.

Mr Christian described talks with the corporation as “ongoing” although the allocation of funding for this year’s capital works had been finalised.

In a carefully-worded statement he also referred to the “effective management” of housing properties but refused to say whether the running of the corporation had itself raised concerns.

“The AHO’s funding decisions are firstly based on need and then the identification of an appropriate organisation to manage housing assets,” Mr Christian said.

“Sometimes this involves funding being provided to an Aboriginal community housing organisation or a lands council.

“But this is only after they are able to demonstrate that they can provide appropriate and effective management of property and tenancies.

“If there are any concerns that the organisation is experiencing management difficulties the office will not consider providing capital funding and will instead offer assistance with management training.”

Housing authorities have known for more than a year about floating asbestos fibres from the Bennett Street property but concerns date back much further than that.

In 1994 a Dubbo City Council inspection rang alarm bells about “extensive weathering” of the roof surface.

A recommendation to seal the surface was, however, ignored by a previous corporation.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Court delays due to underfunding: Oppn

The risk of inexperienced lawyers handling complex issues remains in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions because of chronic underfunding, Shadow Attorney General Mark McArdle said last night.
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Queensland’s Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions remains "seriously compromised" by underfunding after it was given $3.5 million over four years for extra staff in yesterday’s Budget, Mr McArdle said.

It had requested $17.8 million extra over three years to boost its $32 million budget to $47.8 million in a draft report to the Government, leaked by Mr McArdle last month.

"The report makes it quite clear that inexperienced lawyers will be handling complicated legal matters and these lawyers are the ones that represent the interest of the public," Mr McArdle said.

He said the risk to the public was a possible miscarriage of justice.

"The person in the street is facing long delays. Their interests may not be best served because the lawyers acting in their interest are not sufficiently trained and the risk of miscarriage of justice significantly rises," he said.

The report leaked by Shadow Attorney General Mark McArdle last month recommended the ODPP could recruit an extra 49 Crown Prosecutors over the next three three years with that funding.

However the report was never adopted by the State Government, though a final report has now been given to the Department of Justice and Attorney General.

A spokesman for Mr Shine today said the extra $3.5 million would allow the ODPP to employ four new prosecutors and four new legal officers during 2008-09.

However Mr McArdle said the funds were not a meaningful response to what he described as Queensland’s "justice crisis".

"By its own assessment the ODPP is in crisis and recommended a funding boost of $5.9 million per year for the next three years to better represent the interests of victims of crime – and the broader community – in Queensland courts," Mr McArdle said.

The Shadow Attorney General said the funds in yesterday’s Budget were simply not adequate.

However Mr Shine said he had asked for the report to be prepared by the former director of the Office of Public Prosecution, now Judge Lane Clare.

"I asked her office to prepare a comprehensive report on those issues for my consideration, because the efficient operation of the criminal justice system is so fundamental to our system of democratic government," Mr Shine said.

"That report made a number of suggestions as to areas where improvements could be made or where alternative systems may help to improve the operation of the system."

Mr Shine said the report was part of an overall review of Queensland’s justice system.

"One such matter relates to the jurisdiction of the various courts for criminal offences," he told State Parliament.

"At present, certain matters can be dealt with in the Supreme Court or in the District Court," he said.

"Often it is at the election of the defendant in which court the matter is dealt with. My department is looking at ways in which at times those matters, particularly pleas of guilty, may be able to be dealt with in the Magistrates Court, thus reducing pressure on the DAB."

He said the Queensland Law Society and the Queensland Bar Association were also being consulted.

Mr Shine also disagreed that it was fair to judged Queensland’s prosecutors salaries on those in New South Wales.

"For example, the types of matters that the New South Wales DAB dealt with are only the most complex 40 per cent of matters that Queensland’s DAB deals with," he said.

"The other 60 per cent of matters dealt with in Queensland are committal in the Magistrates Court and minor charges that are no longer dealt with in the higher courts of New South Wales. The point is that a straight comparison of numbers is, in fact, misleading.

"We are not necessarily comparing apples with apples."

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