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No teething troubles for Palmersauria

Written By komlim puldel on Minggu, 17 Maret 2013 | 23.08

COURSE HAZARD: Clive Palmer's dinosaur on the golf course at Coolum. Source: The Courier-Mail

THE world's biggest dinosaur park, dubbed Palmersauria, will roar to life sooner than expected on the Sunshine Coast.

The dream of eccentric mining billionaire Clive Palmer, the attraction is coming together in the grounds of the Palmer Coolum Resort.

It features more than 150 replica animatronic prehistoric creatures, imported from China.

Resort general manager Bill Schoch said while an official name had not been settled on, there was little doubt "Palmer" would be in the title, building on a brand that already included Palmer Resort, Palmer Golf, Palmer Grill and Palmer Motorama vintage car museum.

All of the creatures can make sounds and some will move, such as "Jeff" the resort's towering T. rex.

Airborne dinosaurs will swoop down on a flying fox, while a canopy walk will provide a unique perspective.

SNACK: One of Clive Palmer's dinosaurs provides a very graphic depiction of life in the jungle.

"There is some paperwork to finalise with council, but we will now be able to get it up and going much quicker than previously thought. I would say within six months to be safe, but it should be sooner," Mr Schoch said.

"This will be unique in the world and provide a very up close and personal experience. I think it will create lasting memories for children and families.

"Some dinosaurs may look ferocious, but touch them and they are as cuddly as a koala."

Mr Palmer, known for his hands-on approach to projects, personally put in stakes with photographs across the site last weekend to show workers where he wanted certain dinosaurs to be placed.

Mr Schoch said there would be an educational guide to the creatures and a souvenir shop.

Jeff the tyrannosaurus rex overlooks the 10th tee at Coolum. Picture: Glenn Barnes

There would also be a fence "to keep the dinosaurs in".

23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

My name is Angela and I'm a tiger mum

Play me a tune. Photo: Thinkstock Source: news.com.au

There's a beautiful sound in our house - a riff of soft strumming, snaking down the hall and into the kitchen where I stand rolling meatballs.

Then a song: I belong with you, you belong with me, you're my sweetheart.

Either The Lumineers have moved into our front bedroom or my daughter has taught herself to sing. I dry my fingers and find her cross-legged on the bed, leaning over a ukulele that, hitherto, has served as a science project into dust particle accumulation.

"Play it again," I urge. "And sing. You're so clever."

"Er, Mum, no disrespect to the band, but it's only four chords."

My child is clearly gifted. I should have known. Her grandfather was a chorister at Eton - well, until his voice broke. Her aunt is the mellifluous voice of the BBC and her Dad sings in the shower. Damn, I've been raising the next Adele and I've failed to notice. Infuriatingly, she's already 12. And they've canned Young Talent Time.

What? You didn't realise? Yes, I'm a tiger mum – the only one in the country, apparently, since no one else will own up. Those classes full of kids doing Kumon? "I use them for babysitting while I nip through Coles," one mother tells me. The eight gymnastics sessions a week? "Oh, Seraphina's got to burn her energy off somewhere."

I call them the cheater, sorry, cheetah mums because, as I discovered during the mammal project (we got an excellent), cheetahs do not roar. Unlike the big cats, cheetahs only purr. They are the stealthy version of the tiger mums, advancing their children through secret tutoring and 6am jogging sessions in the lead up to the athletics carnival. "Oh Josh darling, what a surprise," they feign when the ten-year-old in his box-fresh Skins takes out the 200 metres. Except Josh has told his mates about the training. And the mates have told their mums.

Anyway, tiger or cheetah, it's time to fess up because only by acknowledging you're a hard-driving, over-invested, talent-grooming mum can you see how moronic that is.

Me first: She was our first and I only wanted the best for her. In spite of the questionable gene pool, she seemed reasonably co-ordinated. So, of course, we fostered her talent: Gymbaroo, Nippers, swimming lessons and some bonkers $200-a-term music lessons half way across town which we could have replicated with some pots at home.

"She's very good," said the swimming coach, stirring a pride within me that felt as unsavoury as it was beguiling. I could see how effortlessly her skin slid through water, but my child was telling a different story: "Just because I'm good at it, doesn't mean I like it."

Then she overheard another parent offer her child $50 to break her personal best. Disgust rolled like thunder over my daughter's innocent face.

She gave up swimming. Fortunately, there was a panoply of other activities to excel at. So I drove her – in both senses of the word - to zone, regional, state. She seemed happy enough but everything felt frantic, squeezed; we weren't a family, we were a schedule. There was no time for normal childhood chores; no larking with the hose.

Then therapist Lori Gottlieb's article How To Land Your Kid In Therapy dropped like a face slap into my inbox. Lines jumped out: "Our children are not our masterpieces" and "parental overinvestment is contributing to a burgeoning generational narcissism that's hurting our kids".

Gottlieb was seeing a new generation of kids who felt lost and unsure of themselves despite having loving and encouraging parents. "What if the parents," she asked, "are too attuned? What happens to those kids?"

That was more than a year ago. You've never seen a tiger back off faster. My daughter, I now know, will love what she will love. Every day she plays that ukulele; every day she sings. She's seen the school note about the choir; she knows they're going to Rome in 2016.

But, for now, she wants neither stage nor showcase - just to be a girl in her bedroom singing a song. I don't know where I belong. But I can write a song. It softens the whole house; draws smiles out of all of us. Ho Hey.

Find Angela Mollard on Twitter: @angelamollard

23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Son arrested over double shooting

The bodies of John and Doug Streeter were discovered at their property in Natte Yallock on Thursday. Source: Herald Sun

THE son of one of the brothers murdered on a Victorian farm remains under police guard in hospital after being arrested.

Detectives are waiting to question Ross Streeter, 30, over the shooting deaths in central Victoria of respected sheep farmers Doug and John Streeter.

Doug was the father of Ross and John, his uncle.

The arrest was a dramatic development in the tragedy, which came to light with the discovery of the brothers' bodies at their property at Natte Yallock on Thursday.

Ross Streeter, from Bendigo, was taken into custody in nearby Avoca about noon.

Police have arrested a 31-year-old man in relation to the shooting deaths of two Victorian brothers.

He was found with what police described as "non-life-threatening, self-inflicted injuries" near a water tower only metres from his father's home in Barnett St.

An ambulance sent to the scene took Mr Streeter under police escort on the two-hour trip to the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Mr Streeter is in a stable condition and is expected to remain in hospital for at least another day. He is yet to be interviewed by police.

Locals said there had been nothing to indicate the brothers felt under threat or had been troubled in the period before the tragedy at the Streeter Lane property.

Police and SES scour the crime scene. Picture: Mark Dadswell

A family member told the Sunday Herald Sun he believed police had identified a suspect early in their investigation.

 "You never know. You don't know what's around the corner," the relative said.

The relative said the brothers were good men.

"It's all a mystery. It's unbelievable. We're dumbfounded."

Two men aged in their 60s have been found dead in a property in regional Victoria.

Earlier, homicide detectives confirmed a wallet found at a recycling plant in Bendigo on the day of the murders belonged to John Streeter.

A worker at the Vatmi recycling plant, 70km from the crime scene, discovered the wallet three hours before the brothers, aged in their 60s, were found dead.

Homicide detectives believe the brothers' killer dumped the wallet and other items somewhere between the crime scene and Bendigo, but it was picked up in a bin collection.

The recycling worker was trying to reunite the wallet with its owner when he saw reports of the Streeters' deaths, checked the driver's licence and contacted police.

The water tower where Ross Streeter was found. Picture: Mark Dadswell

Homicide detective Sgt Sol Solomon said the wallet could hold vital DNA and fingerprint evidence.

"He (the recycling worker) was in the process of trying to track the person down, heard the news of the murders in Natte Yallock and recognised the driver's licence of Mr (John) Streeter," Sgt Solomon said.

"To find a wallet among so much rubbish in the depot, it is a very lucky break."

The men were killed between 8am and noon on Thursday, at least six hours before Doug Streeter's wife, Helen, discovered the bodies of her husband and brother-in-law.

Investigators have called for witnesses who saw anyone acting strangely around the Streeter Lane area on Thursday morning.

Police and SES volunteers sifted through piles of rubbish for other items belonging to the two brothers.

Sgt Solomon said the town of Avoca was reeling after the murder of the "two highly respected citizens".

"It is an absolute tragedy for their families and an absolute tragedy for the Avoca community to lose two outstanding people," he said.

Police have questioned a number of people about the crime and were still trying to pinpoint a motive, Sgt Solomon said.

No firearms were found at the property.

Ross Streeter is believed to be newly married and the father of at least one child.

Locals say he regularly returned to the farm to help his father.

- with Rebekah Cavanagh

23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Hungover? You have to read this

  • Drink water
  • Avoid the fry up
  • Wear sunscreen

WE'VE all been there, and I defy anyone to say they haven't. Well, I've got some just-for-the-guys tips, to make it easier for you to front up and look fresh, all day long.

1. Water
Drink the largest glass of water that you can find, the second you get out of bed. Make sure it's at room temperature, or warmer, and add the juice of half a small lemon to it (that helps to remove the toxins you ingested last night).

2. Eat a green breakfast
Skip the stodgy bacon and egg roll. It makes you feel good short-term, but in the long run, it will upset the acid-alkaline balance in your body further. Instead, reach for alkalising, organic foods, to counter the acid-forming alcohol you consumed last night.

Slice up half an avocado and sprinkle it with lemon juice. Steam a few mushrooms and then blanche a handful baby spinach by pouring boiling water over it. Add a couple of certified free range, cage-free eggs – boiled or poached. If you want toast, ensure it's wholemeal and go easy on the butter. Serve the lot with a side of organic baked beans, and you've got yourself a pretty healthy, and delicious, hangover breakfast. It will make you feel better, give you energy to last until lunch time and contribute to a healthy pH of your body.

3. Take a warm-to-cold shower
Take a warm shower and do all you need to do in your daily shower … shave, exfoliate, whatever. Then turn up the hot water a little, and allow the showerhead to run over your lower back for a few minutes.

After a few minutes, turn the hot tap on low and the cold tap on high. Allow the cold water to run over your lower back now for a further few minutes, then let it run over your face, the back of your neck and under your arms, etc.

The lower back is where your adrenal glands kidneys sit. Aside from producing hormones, one of the tasks of these glands is to regulate kidney function. By stimulating them in this way, you assist your kidneys in flushing out the booze you inhaled last night.  It works. I promise.

4. Face First
Your face is probably looking puffy. The cold water from the shower should've helped, but you might need to go a bit more hardcore.

Fill the sink with cold water and throw in a couple of trays of ice. Next, dip your face in for as long as you can hold your breath, then remove it and take a few deep breaths to regulate your breathing. Repeat this ten times. It will add energy to your face, and improve oxygen flow to your lungs.

5. Moisture plus Radiance
Combine your regular moisturiser with a boost of vitality. Pick a product with energising ingredients like, Biotherm High Recharge Energy Shot, $65, www.biotherm.com.au, which uses ginseng, vitamin B5, vitamin E, magnesium, copper and zinc, to bring life back into your skin.

6. Bright Eyes

Ok you're on the home stretch and can almost safely head out the door. Just make sure your eyes get treated. You may wish to douse them with Visine, depending on the level of red veins apparent, but what you sure want to do is apply a soothing, de-puffing eye cream. I love Clinique Skin Supplies for Men Anti-Fatigue Cooling Eye Gel, $52, www.clinique.com.au. Its medical grade stainless steel roller ball offers a draining massage, which will move away all the fluid that's causing your eyes to bloat up like that. At the same time, it deposits a liquid gel-serum, which cools the skin on contact, and absorbs quickly to address dark circles.

7. Take the red out
Finally, before you step out the door, tone down the red in your skin with a high SPF sunscreen that has a slight tint, like Ultraceuticals Ultra Protective Daily Moisturiser SPF30+ Sheer Tint, $65, www.ultraceuticals.com. Don't worry it's not make-up. It simply adds a sheer tint to your skin that knocks out any redness and uneven tone, so you turn up to work looking fresh faced.

Want more great health tips? Head to Body+Soul

How do you deal with a hangover? Reveal your secrets below.

23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

TV ratings war set to get ugly

Ricky Martin is set to draw a big audience to Season Two of The Voice Australia. Source: Supplied

CHANNEL 10 is set to fire the first shot in what could be one of the bloodiest TV ratings battles in years when it launches The Biggest Loser: The Next Generation tonight.

Ten has re-vamped its weight-loss show, hosted by Hayley Lewis, to focus on parents and kids that are fighting the fat.

Bitter rivals Seven and Nine will unleash a torrent of new shows after Easter as they try to gain ratings supremacy.

Foxtel will weigh in with new Aussie drama Wentworth, a re-imagining of cult classic Prisoner, and the third season of cult hit Game of Thrones.

"The competition will be intense and the margin between Seven and Nine, especially, is likely to narrow," media analyst Steve Allen says.

Seven has been the big winner in the first quarter of 2013 thanks to My Kitchen Rules, which has averaged around 1.8 million viewers nationally.

Nine is set to hit back with the second season of ratings monster The Voice with new judge Ricky Martin.

The talent show averaged upwards of 2 million viewers per episode last year.

"The Voice will do well - close to 90 per cent of last year's ratings," Maxus Global's Mark McCraith says.

See what score the experts gave the shows below

Nine's biggest risk is The Great Australian Bake Off, hosted by Shane Jacobson and Anna Gare.

Contestants bake everything from bread to cakes, biscuits and scones.

Bake Off is Nine's first attempt at a prime time cooking show - a market that is already dominated by Seven's MKR and Ten's MasterChef Australia.

Seven is taking risks of its own. One of the biggest is new renovation show House Rules, hosted by Johanna Griggs.

Six state-based couples switch keys and given the challenge of renovating each other's homes.

Seven management hopes that House Rules, from the producers of My Kitchen Rules, will replicate the ratings success of Nine's renovation hit The Block.

"I expect House Rules to rate based on the winning formula of My Kitchen Rules but it will skew heavily to the 55-plus market," Mr McCraith says.

Vote on which show you won't miss below

Another wild card is new Aussie drama A Place to Call Home from Packed to the Rafters and Winners & Losers creator Bevan Lee.

A family saga set in the 1950s, A Place to Call Home stars Noni Hazlehurst, Brett Climo and Marta Dusseldorp.

Seven also has high hopes for the return of The Mole as well as Celebrity Splash which, as its title suggests, features well-known celebrities attempting to dive gracefully into a swimming pool.

Overseas versions of Celebrity Splash have rated strongly.

Nine will also screen a second season of hit Aussie drama House Husbands, with Gary Sweet, Firass Dirani and Julia Morris. Nine's new US shows include Kevin Bacon hit The Following and super hero drama Arrow.

Seven will also screen new British dramas Mr Selfridge, starring Entourage's Jeremy Piven, and Mrs Biggs, with Sheridan Smith as Charmaine Biggs, wife of Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs.

Channel Ten is likely to begin a new series of MasterChef Australia in June. Nine will roll out Celebrity Apprentice Australia and Underbelly: Squizzy in coming months.


Channel 7

House Rules (8 out of 10)
Aussie renovation show where contestants switch keys to each other's houses.
Verdict: This is from the makers of My Kitchen Rules so storytelling will be strong. Likely to nail viewers.

Celebrity Splash (6 out of 10)
Celebrity-based diving show
Verdict: Overseas versions don't inspire confidence. Could take on water quickly. Likely to sink.

The Mole (7 out of 10)
Revamped Aussie reality show where contestants have to discover a traitor.
Verdict: New host Shura Taft is in his element. Expect ratings similar to The Amazing Race Australia.

A Place to Call Home (8 out of 10)
1950s family saga features a cast including Noni Hazlehurst, Brett Climo and Marta Dusseldorp.
Verdict: Created by Bevan Lee, the man behind Packed to the Rafters and Winners & Losers. You can't beat that track record.

Mr Selfridge (6 out of 10)
British Period Drama about department store tycoon Harry Gordon Selfridge
Verdict: Parade's End showed that it is hard for any other UK period drama to replicate Downton Abbey ratings.

Mrs Biggs (7 out of 10)
British drama about Charmaine Biggs, wife of Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs
Verdict: Partly filmed in Australia, Mrs Biggs should resonate with local audiences keen to learn more about the personal impact of the Great Train Robbery.

Channel 10

The Biggest Loser: The Next Generation (8 out of 10)
Weight loss reality show featuring parents and kids
Verdict: A ratings perennial that has been given a compelling makeover.

Channel 9

The Voice (9 out of 10)
Aussie talent show
Verdict: Will Ricky Martin be as popular as Keith Urban? Yes. Expect an encore of those 2 million-plus ratings.

The Great Australian Bake Off (7 out of 10)
Aussie cooking show
Verdict: More specialised than MasterChef and My Kitchen Rules, and that could limit Bake-Off's appeal.

The Following (7 out of 10)
US drama stars Kevin Bacon as FBI agent hunting serial killers
Verdict: Mainstream audience likely to flinch at the violence. Will appeal to fans of Criminal Minds and Law & Order: SVU.

Arrow (7 out of 10)
US super hero saga starring Stephen Amell as costumed crime fighter.
Verdict: Superheroes dominate movies but have struggled on the small screen. Hard to see Arrow being a breakout hit.


Wentworth (9 out of 10)
Reimagining of classic Aussie drama Prisoner. Cast includes Danielle Cormack and Nicole da Silva.
Verdict: The first episode is a cracker – every bit as good as Underbelly.

23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Woman in lucky escape from kidnap plot

A PASSING motorist distracted a would-be kidnapper from dragging a woman into a waiting car at Annerley last night.

Police are now looking for witnesses to the frightening attack.

The woman was walking along Ayr St near the intersection of Brisbane St around 9pm when she was approached by a man.

He said something to her before grabbing her shoulder and pressing a sharp object into her side.

"He threatened her and told her to get into a vehicle parked in Brisbane St," a police spokesperson said.

"The woman noticed another man standing beside the car."

The woman, 36, managed to free herself and run away as a car drove by. The weapon left a small scratch on her side.

The man took off on foot and was last seen heading towards Ipswich Rd.

Both men had dark complexions, were wearing jeans and hooded jumpers.

One was about 173cm tall, had a solid build and was clean shaven with a vertical scar on the bottom of one cheek.

The second man was standing with a white, silver of grey square-shaped sedan, possibly a Nissan.

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23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Is this the beginning of the end for Down syndrome?

Nicholas Love. Photo: Russell Shakespeare Source: The Courier-Mail

Annie Love and Nicholas. Photo: Russell Shakespeare. Source: The Courier-Mail

Annie Love and Nicholas. Photo: Russell Shakespeare. Source: The Courier-Mail

Photo: Russell Shakespeare Source: The Courier-Mail

  • Prenatal testing for Downs gives parents choice
  • 5.3 per cent of pregnancies with Downs are continued
  • Most women want risk-free testing

IT rained the day they got the news. Big, pelting drops, as if some screenwriter well-versed in melodrama was dictating the scene. Annie Love couldn't take the call.

She'd been going "slowly nuts" waiting for diagnosis day to arrive and was only just holding herself together. Her husband, Ben, answered the phone. He nodded. Then he mouthed the words. "It's positive. Baby has Downs."

They cried. Huge, heaving sobs to rival the rain. In the days and weeks that followed, they'd pull themselves together, then lose it all over again. And they grieved. This was not the picture they had of their family.

This baby was meant to be "normal" just like Sam, then 3, and Charlie, then 2. Now the view had changed, fuelled
by stereotypes: an overweight kid with a bad haircut being teased, a life on the fringes.

But they'd already decided – after many heart-wrenching talks in the preceding four weeks between suspicious scan and confirming amniocentesis – that they would have the baby. If he had Down syndrome, they'd paint a new picture.

So they prepared. Grief gave way to a readiness and a joy. Everyone close to them knew their baby would be born with Down syndrome. Now it was time to get on with it. They wrote a birth plan. No-one in that delivery room was to be negative. This was their baby and they were happy. He arrived at 2.55am on March 20, 2012. Nicholas Fenton Angus Love, 3.8kg, 52cm long.

And here he sits on the floor right now, goo-gah-gurgling as he plays with his toy with gusto. Plump, healthy, with a knockout grin. And "chromosomally enhanced", as his mother likes to say.

As she looks at Nicholas playing at their home in Gordon Park, on Brisbane's northside, it's hard for Annie, a Catholic, to admit she considered abortion. So did Ben. "From a relationship perspective it was probably one of the hardest things we've ever had to go through," says Annie.

That the Loves decided to have Nicholas after the amniocentesis confirmed Down syndrome makes them a rarity. Most don't. Only 5.3 per cent of pregnancies where there is a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome are continued. This figure comes from a respected Victorian study, the only (now-defunct) research in Australia that followed the link from prenatal diagnosis to live births of babies with Down syndrome.

Released in 2008 and based on figures from 1986 to 2004, the study was co-authored by associate professor Jane Halliday, a public health genetics expert with Melbourne-based Murdoch Children's Research Institute. "The vast majority, 95 per cent, were terminated," she says.

It's similar across the Western world. About 90 per cent of foetuses with a diagnosis of Down syndrome are terminated in New Zealand, about 92 per cent in the US, about 93 per cent in the UK.

Now, a new element in the vexed issue of Down syndrome and reproductive choice is entering the fray. From this year, non-invasive prenatal testing is available in Australia. The existing invasive methods of diagnosis – amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS) – are taken up by about six per cent of pregnant women, generally after an abnormal scan.

They carry the risk of miscarriage – the main reason women do not seek the test. But the new blood tests, although prohibitive at a cost of up to $2000, do not pose such risks.

Which raises the very real question: Is this the beginning of the end for Down syndrome?

As he wandered the corridors of Earlswood Asylum for Idiots in Dickensian England, John Langdon Haydon Down mused about how some of those under his care had the physical characteristics of Ethiopians, some Malay. And some looked Mongolian.

The medical superintendent sat down and penned a 1260-word article entitled "Observations on an Ethnic Classification of Idiots". Of the "Mongolian idiots", Down's 1866 report said: "The face is flat and broad … The eyes are obliquely placed … They are humorous."

By all accounts, Down was a liberal thinker, but his choice of descriptor would hound those he analysed for more than a century. Mongolism and Mongoloid became accepted terminology, often shortened to "mong". Words like idiot, imbecile and subnormal also were used. The Nazis killed them; the US sterilised them. We hid them away in institutions until the 1970s.

Only in the 1960s did lobbying by scientists – and Mongolian leaders – lead to the condition being called Down's syndrome, now Down syndrome. Sensitivities about terminology remain. Support groups such as Down Syndrome Association of Queensland insist their members are not Down syndrome people (and certainly not sufferers or victims) but people with Down syndrome.

Medical parlance about the "risk" of a baby having Down syndrome is frowned upon. Chance is preferred. And they are not, despite popular belief, always happy; they experience the range of human emotions.

It may seem like pedantry, but when future generations of the people you know and love are coming under the microscope – or ultrasound – and being aborted, hypervigilance by the Down syndrome community is understandable.

Down syndrome in the modern day is a study in changing social values and choice. It's about the fight by people with Down syndrome to be truly included – and valued – in a society that proclaims a respect for diversity, and the fight by women to choose their own reproductive journey and have access to safe abortion. It's about science: the science that discovered in 1958 that Down syndrome was caused by an extra copy (or part copy) of chromosome 21, the constantly evolving science that tells us, pre-birth, if a foetus has a chromosomal anomaly. And it's about how the hard fought for, deeply personal reproductive choices of women (and their partners) are having a collective effect on the number of babies being born with Down syndrome.

When Michael Cox burst into the world 21 years ago with Down syndrome, today's level of prenatal analysis was not part of the medical model. Diagnostic amniocentesis for women of advanced maternal age, when the chance of having a child with Down syndrome increases markedly – women aged 25 have a one in 1383 chance of a child with Down syndrome, while at 40 the chance is one in 84 – had been around since the '70s. But mum Nikki was 34 when Michael was conceived, and it was not suggested. Nikki and husband Simon were told then that the number of babies born with the condition was 1 in 600. Today, the figure is 1 in 1150.

"Big shift," says Simon as he sits on the couch at the family's Jindalee home in Brisbane's western suburbs, flanked by Michael and daughter Bekki, 23, and son Andy, 20. "Particularly given that people are having their babies later." (Another big shift is the life expectancy of those with Down syndrome. In the 1950s it was 15, now it approaches 60.)

As Michael has been growing up, diagnostic tests have improved while screening or scans (less precise, giving an indication of birth anomalies) have become commonplace among all childbearing age brackets. Second trimester maternal serum screening arrived in the mid-1990s and first trimester combined screening in the early 2000s. The combined test involves the ultrasound – which produces that black and white fuzzy photo of a baby in formation – that many women and their partners now look forward to enthusiastically. But for some, it comes with a mind-numbing result they had not bargained for.

"There was no pressure on us for the choice we didn't make," Simon says. "But now there must be. It puts huge pressure on young people to have the test and then to make a decision about the results of the test, and then to live with that consequence." Brisbane-based clinical genetic specialist Michael Gattas agrees that, "rightly or wrongly", screening has become normalised and "if you were a woman who was pregnant who didn't do [the first trimester scan], probably you'd be seen as being abnormal in some way".

Screening can produce false positives but the new generation, non-invasive diagnostic tests– to rival the slightly risky and highly accurate amniocentesis and CVS – boast a 99-plus per cent accuracy. Martin Delatycki, the director of clinical genetics at Austin Health in Melbourne, and Ma spokesperson for the Human Genetics Society of Australasia, says women want risk-free testing.

"It's a cost issue at the moment … but I am absolutely certain that will disappear and testing will become cheaper," Delatycki says. He says while "we are seeing a decline in the number of babies [with Down syndrome] born because of screening in pregnancy", it will not disappear because some people will reject testing on religious grounds or personal beliefs, or because of poor access to doctors. Those people and their children must be supported. But, he says, the debate has been had.

"This is something society has discussed over many years and the conclusion that society as
a whole has made is that it is acceptable to women and couples to have the choice to find out if their baby has Down syndrome or many other conditions and to make a decision whether or not to continue the pregnancy," Delatycki says. "It is a significant minority who disagree with that and think it unethical to do so but overall, society has made that decision."

The Coxes wonder how much people really know about Down syndrome. Simon calls it a "so-what" disability. "For Michael, it's just the beat of the world is just a little bit too quick," says Simon. Michael has a number of factors on his side. He is "high-functioning", escaped the heart conditions that about 50 per cent of people with Down syndrome need to manage by surgery or medication, and comes from a secure, middle-class family. He attended a mix of mainstream and special schooling, catches a bus (but will never drive), makes his own lunch, and is a lifesaver at the local pool. He loves fashion and likes to dance: "Dancing's one of my absolute favourite things to do," Michael says. "I love hip hop, breakdancing."

And he's an Australian representative swimmer, having competed in Down syndrome championships in Italy, Portugal and Taiwan. He's the Australian backstroke champ, but prefers freestyle, and hopes to make the team bound for Mexico City next year. He's blitzed all his parents' expectations. When Nikki learned of Michael's condition, she worried he wouldn't speak. "He can talk the leg off an iron pot," she says, laughing. And Simon admits to disappointment that his son would never play rugby for Australia. "I remember feeling terrible driving to work one day and thinking, it's an absolute tragedy that my son won't have that opportunity," Simon says. "Well, he's the only one [of five children] who has represented Australia."

The Coxes know many people see Down syndrome through old stereotypes – a fully dependent child with poor social graces, clinging to the hand of a carer. Simon says they should come along to some Down syndrome swimming championships. "If you see Mike's swimming team out in Italy, all wearing casual clothes, happy, you do a double-take before you work out they've got a disability." He says you can see a split in attitudes between older parents of people with Down syndrome – who have a memory of institutionalisation and segregation – and younger parents who encourage their children to be more outgoing. Michael often goes out to pubs with Andy, who says "more people respect it than target it".

Generation Y Bekki lends weight to a belief held by DSAQ executive officer, Louise Lloyd, that because people with Down syndrome have been integrated into the school system and other social outlets, upcoming generations of parents will be less concerned about bringing a baby with Down syndrome into the world.

"It's not something I see as debilitating; I don't see it as a disability, because Michael's so capable," Bekki says. "There is no way I would ever abort a child based on a disability." She looks across at her brother, who she admits to protecting from bullying in the schoolyard, and smiles. "I mean, he swims internationally; that's something I will never achieve in my life."

Proud mum Nikki says Michael is an inspiration. "It would be really very sad to see that go, there's a loss of general compassion in the world, of slowing down, trying to think in different ways. If we try to make everybody
the same, we're going to lose something very basically, fundamentally important in humans."

Sean Fisher, with father Terry, mother Lisa and younger brother Declan. Source: news.com.au

One word came out of Lisa Bridle's mouth as she came to after an emergency caesarean and heard the doctor say her son had Down syndrome. Fear, loss, shame washed through her and she screamed: "No!"

Eighteen years on, she cries as she admits to being upset with husband Terry Fisher for telling his workmates they'd chosen the name Sean Patrick. In those dark early days, she wished they'd kept that quiet so the carefully chosen name could go to a "proper" baby.

"That feels like such a shameful admission," the bravely honest Bridle says now, wiping away the tears. "To think that you could be so rejecting of your own child." Sean's the young adult in the suit on a noticeboard above us, the one whose picture graces the 18th birthday invitation Bridle hands me later. "He's pretty delightful," says the mother from Dutton Park, in Brisbane's inner south.

When Sean was born, Bridle was 30, a social worker and already a mother to Milly, then 2. (Declan, now 11, came later.) Bridle thought she was broadminded, not one to discriminate. "It was a big wake-up call to say, 'Actually, I have all these prejudices that I would never have owned up to'," says Bridle. "And that's one of my strongest feelings about prenatal testing; we think our culture is a whole lot more tolerant of diversity than it is and people think they're making choices in a fair and balanced way. Because of my own reactions, I absolutely get that people go into a panic."

But Sean was here, he was sick and she was his mother. Maternal instinct kicked in. By the time Sean was one, his health battles were over. There have been other skirmishes, and Bridle is not one to sugarcoat the fact that a parent of a child with Down syndrome needs to be a strong advocate for their needs and rights. "No matter how much we love and value Sean, we know he has been and will continue to be rejected by some," says Bridle.

Bridle's own delivery room reaction haunted her and spearheaded her decision to do a PhD in bioethics and prenatal testing. She spoke with 17 mothers of children with Down syndrome. They were devastated at first, thought their lives were over. Now, they found those ideas foolish. Their children had brought them joy and were more capable than they'd expected. Mothers found previously untapped strengths and were more adventurous than before. Many came to accept that life was full of uncertainties and parenthood was one of its biggest gambles.

"There's a lot that can happen to your child when you become a parent and you can't protect them or yourself from all of the possibilities," Bridle says. The idea that prenatal diagnosis and a "normal" result would somehow "future-proof" a child intrigued Bridle. Most disabilities are acquired, she says.

Bridle accepts that advances in prenatal diagnosis are not pushed by "crazy scientists" working in a vacuum. "There's a demand and people want it." People like Nicholas's mother, Annie Love, who thought she'd never have an amniocentesis – until her suspicious scan. "We were going a bit insane from not knowing; I felt it would allow us to prepare either way," Love says. She has mixed feelings, though, about the ease with which mothers will be able to get a diagnosis in future through non-invasive testing, and so does Bridle. Will seeking a diagnosis – and taking action on the result – involve a less rigorous decision-making process when the risk of miscarriage is gone?

And, says Bridle, if mothers want prenatal diagnosis, so do governments. It helps the bottom line. Every woman who makes the choice to terminate a foetus with Down syndrome saves the government money, according to a range of cost-benefit studies. Bridle's thesis quotes a 1993 report by renowned Australian geneticist Grant Sutherland that put the figure at a saving of $1 million per child.

Bridle included counter-arguments, too, such as that from British emeritus professor Sue Buckley, of the University of Portsmouth, who asked: "Do we look at ordinary babies at birth and calculate potential costs of accidents, unemployment, prison, addiction or chronic illness?"

Some see sinister motivations behind prenatal testing. In New Zealand, an organisation called Saving Downs has taken its government's prenatal screening program to the International Criminal Court, saying it is persecutory. It considers prenatal testing a form of eugenics, the bio-social philosophy associated with, but pre-existing, Nazism, that espouses breeding out "inferior" humans. Geneticist Halliday dismisses the eugenics argument as "far-fetched" because "people make all sorts of choices in life and this is just another choice. It's not politically motivated at all, which is what eugenics was about, reforming a population."

Bridle holds judgement on master race theories but does wonder where our compulsion to learn about – and control – what is going on in the womb will stop. Scientists are working on prenatal tests to pick up markers for autism, a multi-spectrumed condition which can be heartbreaking but also produces some great minds. Will they work out how to identify those with a genetic predisposition to addictive behaviour? What then?

Brody Logan, 5. Source: news.com.au

The refrains of "I'm a little teapot" coming from Brodie Logan's iPad are starting to get a bit too loud. Mum Angela suggests the five-year-old turn it down. Brodie shoots her a look as if to say 'Party pooper!' and keeps the volume where it is. On the second request, Brodie considers her options and turns it down. Yep, just like most five-year-olds.

Angela smiles at her daughter's chutzpah and continues reeling off Brodie's achievements. "She's writing her own name. She can count well into her teens. She loves to learn, she loves to be with other kids and be involved and play. She packs her lunch [for a mainstream school], wants to help cook dinner. She's independent, fiercely so."

That's not the picture that was painted for Angela and husband Ben, of Ipswich, when Brodie – their first, followed by Harvey, 3, and Sammie, 18 months – was born with Down syndrome. Angela says while the medical care at a major Brisbane hospital was top-class (Brodie needed a heart operation at 11 weeks), she was shocked by the "overwhelmingly negative" advice from medical staff and social workers about life with Down syndrome. The then 26-year-old was told Ben would leave her, friends would drop away and "basically my life was over". She insists one midwife said to her: "You know you don't have to take her, you can leave her and just go."

If such attitudes are expressed to mothers once they've had a child with Down syndrome, asks Angela, what are pregnant mothers with a positive diagnosis told? "That sort of negative bombardment takes its toll," she says. Lisa Bridle found in her Down syndrome research that a number of pregnant women were given very dark assessments of their future and that of their child. One woman told Bridle she was encouraged to terminate her pregnancy the same afternoon of her diagnosis. Geneticist Jane Halliday strongly denies the medical world is more inclined to suggest termination of a foetus with Down syndrome.

Angela's not convinced. She says advice about the positives of a life with a child with Down syndrome has to be as available and promoted as the drawbacks. Raising a child with a disability "is not a life for everybody". But with the advent of prenatal non-invasive diagnosis, it's more important than ever to show that raising a child with Down syndrome is "not all doom and gloom".

"This test is here, it's a fact, but the education has to come along with it," she says. "Because those negative things are so powerful, it's so emotional and so raw that you could make a knee-jerk decision that you can't take back."

So here is Angela Logan's assessment of life with Brodie: "My life isn't ruined; if anything, it's expanded," says Angela, who has returned to university to study social work. "I couldn't give you a bad thing. That's completely honest. There's stress, it can be frustrating, but parenthood gives you that. Brodie's determination, everything she is and she stands for, she's worked for and I think she's just amazing. I will fight tooth and nail to clear a path for her. She's one of the best things that ever happened in my life because she changed my life. And I would like people to know that." 

This story originally appeared in QWeekend Magazine. Get it every Sunday in The Courier Mail.

23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Busker faces probe over heckler punch

The street performer who took a swipe at an annoying man has told Nine News he's sorry. Vision Nine News/Richard Choeun/youtube

AN official investigation has been launched into a Surfers Paradise busker who became an internet sensation after punching a drunken street pest in the mouth.

Human statue David Mulder made world headlines after punching the passerby who was taunting him in Cavill Mall.

After being poked, prodded and having a saliva-soaked finger stuck in his ear, Mr Mulder - a 50-year-old devout churchgoer - snapped and hit the young agitator who was left bleeding in front of stunned onlookers.

A mobile phone video of the incident, posted to YouTube by a Brisbane university student, went viral and Mr Mulder was swamped with international media attention.

Despite widespread public support, Mr Mulder has apologised for his actions and vowed to keep his cool from now on.

But the Surfers Alliance, which hires street performers, said it was investigating.

"While I sympathise with the busker, it's clear both parties didn't behave as best they could. Harassment and assault are not welcome in Surfers Paradise,'' Alliance chair Laura Younger said.

"We will be investigating the situation this week.

Mr Mulder's wife, Andrea, said her husband planned to meet with Alliance officials today to tell them his retaliation was a one-off.

"He will tell them that this sort of behaviour is extremely rare and is not something he'd like to repeat,'' she said, speaking on behalf of her husband who was back working in Cavill Mall yesterday.

"He's been hassled before but doesn't normally come out swinging - it takes a lot to provoke him.

"It happened in a split second - it was like 'get out of my space'. He didn't even think he was going to punch the guy but it just happened.

"Dave certainly doesn't condone his actions and isn't proud of them.

"He'd like to apologise to the young fellow he punched too - and maybe have him apologise to Dave - but he's probably feeling a bit sheepish.''

Mrs Mulder said she normally kept a close eye on her husband while he was performing to ensure he was not harassed.

She said it would be impractical to hire security guards to protect buskers but police were usually close by and Cavill Mall was also monitored by surveillance cameras.

Mrs Mulder said her husband was receiving 'overwhelming' public support back out on the street.

"He's had comments like 'don't mess with the statue','' she said.

Surfers Paradise Alliance boss Mike Winlaw could not be contacted for comment.

Earlier, it was reported that the video of Mr Mulder punching the heckler in the face had gone viral and racked up more than 400,000 views in a matter of hours.

In the 35-second YouTube video,Mr Mulder is shown doing his routine on Surfers Paradise shopping strip Cavill Ave, before being taunted by a male passer by.

After being poked and prodded for 20 seconds, even receiving a saliva-soaked finger in his ear, Mr Mulder finally snaps and punches the young man in the face, to gasps from the crowd.

The ultimate professional, Mr Mulder did not miss a beat and immediately resumed his statue routine.

The man taunted the busker on Cavill Ave in Surfers Paradise.

Mr Mulder was back at his post in Cavill Ave last night and said he was not proud of lashing out but could only take so much.

"He was in the wrong, but at the same time I was in the wrong for striking out," he said.

"Violence is never vindicated."

He said he would even apologise to the man if they crossed paths again. Mr Mulder has been busking in Surfers Paradise for five years and has encountered few problems in the past.

The man poked and prodded the busker as he performed for shoppers.

Other street performers said the bizarre incident was the inevitable result of years of tolerating antagonistic antics from hecklers and pests.

"We put up with so much crap," said one.

"It was probably only a matter of time before somebody popped."

Brisbane student Richard Choeun, 21, said he was "shocked" to capture the incident while filming his 12-year-old cousin interacting with the busker on a family holiday last Saturday.

After being taunted for about 20 seconds, the busker lost it and punched the man in the face.

"When it happened we stopped recording because we were a bit concerned, the guy was bleeding from the mouth,'' he said.

"He walked over to his friends, he stood there for a bit and then he just walked away. I think he knew he was being an idiot.

"The busker pretty much just went back to his performance, he was great.

"Everyone in the crowd was really shocked, they didn't say anything, they were really surprised. I think they knew that he deserved it so they didn't really care.''

Statue busker David Mulder back on the street after becoming an internet sensation after punching a heckler in Surfers Paradise after being tormented. Picture: Adam Head

Mr Choeun said he was "very surprised'' when the video went viral, prompting phone calls and emails from global media organisations such as NBC and The Huffington Post.

"I only uploaded it for fun to show my Facebook friends, then I wake up and there's like 10,000 views on it and I'm being contacted by media,'' he said.

23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More
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