After 9000km, this dog is putting his paws up BUDDIES: Musician Matt McLaren and his Guide Dog Stamford. Picture: Marina Neil
Nanjing Night Net

Matt McLaren and Stamford in Martin Place, Sydney, last year. Picture: Jessica Hromas

Matt McLaren and Stamford in Martin Place, Sydney, last year. Picture: Jessica Hromas

Matt McLaren and Stamford in Martin Place, Sydney, last year. Picture: Jessica Hromas

BUDDIES: Musician Matt McLaren and his Guide Dog Stamford. Picture: Marina Neil

BUDDIES: Musician Matt McLaren and his Guide Dog Stamford. Picture: Marina Neil

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He said having a Guide Dog helped his career, mainly due to the level of mobility Stamford allowed.

“Stamford enabled me to do so much more than I could with a long cane, such as carry music gear and travel confidently to new places,” McLaren said.

But while the two have formed a remarkable bond, 11-year-old Stamford was slowing down and deserved his retirement, McLaren said.

“It’s going to be sad, it’s going to suck to be honest because it is relearning everything again because we have spent the most part of every day together for nine years,” he said.

“It’s going to be challenging but I have to do the best thing by him.”

Despite being retired from active duty when McLaren receives a new Guide Dog from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT in the coming weeks, Stamford will not be going anywhere.

“He’s done a top job, I’ll keep him as a pet so he’ll get to lie around at home watching Netflix,” McLaren said.

Guide Dogs usually retire between eight to 10 years, depending on their health.

McLaren is hosting a retirement party for Stamford on Sunday, with all proceeds going to Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

“I want to celebrate Stamford’s life and his work but I also want to give something back to Guide Dogs,” McLaren said.

“As an organisation they’ve done an incredible amount for me over the years.

“Even before I received Stamford, they gave me orientation and mobility support and a long cane to get around. It’s hard to describe the scope of what they’ve done for me.”

A Guide Dogcosts more than $35,000 to breed, raise and train. Guide Dogs NSW/ACT receives less than 2 per cent of its funding from the government, and is dependent on donations.

Every day 28 Australians are diagnosed with un-correctable vision loss, including nine who become blind.

Stamford’s retirement party is on Sunday, March 26, atCriterion Pub and Kitchen in Carrington from 2pm-6pm. There will be raffles, an auction and a chance to pat Stamford and get a photo with him, something many of his fans want to do on most days, but can not because he normally wears his harness.

“When the harness is on you’re not meant to pat or talk to them or interact with them in any way because they’re doing a job,” McLaren said.

“But his harness will be off on Sunday.”

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House in the middle of a highway in China finally gets demolishedChinese government says no more weird architectureTake a look at mainland China’s most expensive house
Nanjing Night Net

A single house balancing precariously in the middle of a construction site may seem like a doomed and fragile structure. But in China, these residences have become a potent symbol of resistance. Known as “dingzihu” in Chinese – which can be translated as “nail house” or “nail household” – buildings like this represent those who, like stubborn nails, defy state-ordered evictions and demolitions by refusing to vacate their properties.

Nail houses came to global attention in spectacular images published in the lead up to the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing. But the practice began earlier, when homeowners in China were granted inviolable rights to their privately-owned property following two important legal changes in 2004 and 2007.

Nail houses have come to possess a special meaning in a country that perceives urbanisation as a vital political, economic and ideological project. Local economies depend heavily on investment in infrastructure and buildings, and growing middle class consumption is seen as the next engine for China’s economic development. What’s more, urban citizens are considered to be more civilised, or have a higher level of “suzhi” (cultural attainment), and have better access to public services such as education, health care and housing.

But building and expanding cities requires big tracts of vacant land for large-scale developments. This results in the demolition of existing homes, neighbourhoods and villages, which don’t fit the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) vision of an urban future. Courts and compensation

Compensation for families whose homes are on the brink of demolition is always a major source of dispute. Offers are based on current valuations of properties, which is likely to be far lower than any of the residences which replace them. This means that displacement is often inevitable, leading to broken communities and psychological damage from stress and violence and compelling families to demand financial redress.

Petitions by residents face limited success in court. The heavy presence of the CPC in every sphere of social and economic life makes it extremely challenging for residents to make successful claims against the state. Court decisions are rarely made against governments, especially in areas where aspiring local governments have removed regulatory and physical barriers to development.

So instead, nail households endure power cuts, limited services and threats of forced eviction and demolition, in order to gain as much compensation from the government or developers as possible, to ensure their own survival in an increasingly unequal society. Resisting families are often stigmatised as “selfish” for trying to protect their own interests, at the expense of a greater good for their neighbours and the wider public.

Government authorities also feed this perception with posters, like this one from Guangzhou, which reads: “To protect the interest of homeowners, never surrender to nail houses.”

Yet this kind of impasse is not inevitable. Nail households might not go to such extreme measures if they were consulted and provided with informed choices to upgrade their homes and neighbourhoods, without demolition. Families do not become nail households overnight. Nor is a nail house the outcome of some intrinsic “selfishness” on the part of the protesters.

Rather, families often endure long-term harassment and violence, and succumb to despair when they are unable to resolve disputes. Many residents start out by conducting persistent negotiations with local governments or developers, becoming “nail house embryos”. Over time, feelings harden and residents become more determined, until they are willing to take extreme actions to keep their homes. Under pressure

Much of this can be put down to the process. When a neighbourhood is slated for redevelopment, residents face extreme pressure to move: the local government in charge would organise various bureaus – including public security, planning and propaganda offices – to work closely with neighbourhood leaders, to enforce the timely eviction of local residents. Various financial incentives, as well as direct threats and peer pressure, are designed to speed up the process of eviction.

In this context, nail houses symbolise the inequality and unfairness prevalent in contemporary China. Yet a greater awareness of property rights among urban citizens may empower them so that they are no longer subject to whims of the authoritarian state and single-minded for-profit businesses. Enhanced rights consciousness would also enable them to demand for greater participation in urban planning processes that often exclude the voices of citizens.

If governments, developers and other Chinese citizens can acknowledge the plight of nail households, rather than rejecting and alienating them, it could lead to a fairer system for all. Then, no longer will nail houses stand as towering tombstones for vanished communities.

Hyun Bang Shin, Associate Professor in Geography and Urban Studies, London School of Economics and Political Science

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Nanjing Night Net

New letters show Princess Diana made like most brides and used her honeymoon with Prince Charles to sleep.

Like all (un)professional ladies-in-waiting, who would have been one of the late royal’s most trusted confidantes, Jane Parsons will auction off some of the private letters Diana wrote to her and the royal households.

About 25 letters will go under the hammer and span the early years of her marriage, the birth of Prince William and her 21st birthday.

However one note, dated August 15, 1981, has raised the eyebrows of many royal watchers.

Diana wrote to Parsons while on board the Royal Yacht Britannia where she was celebrating her honeymoon.

“The honeymoon was a perfect opportunity to catch up on sleep,” she wrote on the palace’s crested paper.

While some pundits are claiming this is the icing on the cake proving the relationship was doomed from the start, it’s important to remember she was just 20-years-old and the star attraction of the “wedding of the century” to the heir to the British throne. Not to mention they’d only been officially dating for about six months.

The royal wedding saw an unprecedented amount of attention thrust upon the stuffy House of Windsor and the “common” kindergarten teacher’s aide Lady Diana Spencer was at the centre of the media storm.

The “fairytale wedding” was televised and watched by an estimated 750 million on television alone. That’s a lot of pressure, more pressure than just finding the right bunting and creating a snappy hashtag.

She also wore an ivory silk taffeta, antique lace wedding dress and train that was almost 8-metres long. Lugging that around for hours would have been fashion equivalent of a Kayla Itsines workout.

Once the couple returned from their short break they held a press conference where Diana described the honeymoon as “fabulous” and said she could “highly recommend marriage. It’s a marvellous life.” Well said Di. Sleeping is fabulous and a lot of us don’t get enough of it.

Alas, after the lazy honeymoon and wedding at St Paul’s Cathedral in July 1981, the couple separated 11 years later in 1992 and divorced in 1996.

According to her letters she continued to be tired after sleep-stealer Prince William was born.

Following his birth she wrote to the household staff hoping they were not left “exhausted, overworked and underpaid”.

“I know you are being buried under a avalanche of mail…don’t despair, there won’t be another baby Wales until I’ve had a decent rest,” she wrote.

In his letter Prince Charles was “apologetic at all the extra work we are probably going to land on you!”

The palace received 4500 baby presents in the days following William’s arrival.

Official records show Parsons and other ladies-in-waiting then sent our 24,000 thank you letters.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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The latest retro trend making a comebackDecor items you should never splurge onWhy you should give up on DIY
Nanjing Night Net

In an age when three-legged tables and evicted TV units litter our streets come council pick-up day, many people are opting out of “disposable decor” by choosing locally handmade furniture instead.

Trend forecasters such as The Future Laboratory predicted this growing demand for “eternal products”, with an emotional connection and more tactility, was an attempt to counter a fast, digital world.

Even IKEA is taking a handcrafted direction. A recent collection, based on traditional Indonesian and Vietnamese crafts, had IKEA’s design team learning basket-weaving and bamboo-bending before reinterpreting them for mass production.

Buying genuine handmade furniture in Australia, without the cost-cuts of offshore manufacturing, appears financially inaccessible to most, but former property developer Clare Gilligan is on a mission to convince consumers otherwise. She is the brains behind Makers Lane, a digital marketplace where a customer’s design idea is presented online to a large community of small and medium makers who can tender for the business.

“You have to look at lifetime value,” Gilligan says. “It’s actually cheaper to buy well and buy local than this constant commoditisation and replacing.

“You could buy the eight-seater dining table from the big homewares store for $1800, and be prepared to replace it six or seven years later, or you can have it handmade in Australian hardwoods for $2900. And you know that a skilled craftsperson has spent a week or more of their life making your table.”

Makers Lane is a digital marketplace where a customer’s design idea is presented online to a large community of small and medium makers who can tender for the business. Photo: Makers Lane

It would be eye-opening for many households, particularly those with an interest in interiors, to record their average annual spend on decor and furniture that has subsequently felt the blow of an eviction. It might still not compare with, say, $8000 for a Myles Gostelow dining table, destined to become a heirloom for future generations, but it’s food for thought.

Gostelow is a fine furniture maker based in Tharwa, ACT. Being commission-only, his prices are higher than some on Makers Lane but he is never short of work. “It can take up to four months from commission,” he says, “and during that time you can build up a rapport with the client, educate them so they know the story behind the piece and its true value, and they can pass that down to their children.”

Gostelow believes customers need this education in the wake of offshore supply chains that have warped all concepts of what time, skill and materials actually cost. Once you get down to the nitty-gritty of cost reduction overseas, the unsustainable social and environmental impact can’t be ignored.

Fine furniture maker, Myles Gostelow, believes customers need to be educated in the true value of handcrafted furniture.

Gilligan’s model of supporting makers and customers through procurement and beyond, helps to bridge the gap between shop-floor convenience and real-time bespoke. “People are used to walking around shops, touching products and comparing prices,” says Gilligan. “We’ve set up a process that provides transparency and comfort for those new to custom.”

On top of genuinely assured quality is the promise of ongoing maintenance; forget your limited warranties and the worry of planned obsolescence, just ask your maker to re-sand your timber table once the children have stopped scribbling on it.

A long lead time and design collaboration can also inspire an emotional connection with the piece, and that grows deeper if there’s a personal provenance to the design or material. Gostelow is frequently presented with a specific tree, for instance, which he air-dries over a year and mills himself before collaborating with the client on its reincarnation.

Myles Gostelow can even help reincarnate a specific tree or piece of timber at the client’s request.

Gilligan at Maker’s Lane describes a silky oak tree that was cut down in a client’s garden. It had held the children’s swings, their cubby house, and hosted many a climb; now it’s the family’s dining table.

Skilled makers are easier to directly source in the era of Instagram, especially those just starting out who might come with a discount. There are many established woodwork and crafts schools across Australia, including Richard Crosland’s in Alexandria, NSW, and Sturt Gallery in Mittagong, and student exhibitions are a good place to start. Find out about the best craft markets, potter societies or regional craft precincts and stalk your favourite makers before their demand and prices go up.

On top of genuinely assured quality, Makers Lane promises ongoing maintenance in lieu of limited warranties. Photo: Makers Lane

If furniture prices still daunt, kitchenware is a great way to break the ice. You too can own a little piece of Gostelow if you spend $100-200 on a chopping board; it can be made from a favourite felled tree if you’re willing to wait, or a slab of timber your grandpa stored away. He has his own burned brand or you can have a special message engraved by hand.

“I have a view that in this modern consumerist age everybody now actually has enough stuff,” says Gilligan, “and in actual fact what people are seeking is less stuff??? and one or two things that just bring them joy.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Photo: iStockTHE federal health departmenthas released the following information about an EpiPen recall.
Nanjing Night Net

Consumers and health professionals are advised that Alphapharm, in consultation with the TGA, isrecalling four batches of EpiPen 300 microgram adrenaline injection syringe auto-injectors. EpiPens from affected batches can be returned to pharmacies for a refund or exchanged for one from a different, unaffected batch free of charge.

EpiPen is used in emergency situations to treat people who are having a severe allergic reaction (also known as anaphylaxis).

It has been identified that EpiPens from the four affected batches may contain a defective part that could result in the auto-injector failing to activate or a need to apply more force than normal to activate.

The affected batch numbers are:Batch number 5FA665; expiry April 2017Batch number 5FA6651; expiryApril 2017Batch number 5FA6652; expiryApril 2017Batch number5FA6653; expiryApril 2017There have been two confirmed reports of auto-injectors from these batches failing to activate correctly world-wide from approximately 80,000 devices distributed. The proportion of these auto-injectors that have been used is not known.

EpiPens are only used in emergency situations. In the unlikely event the auto-injector fails to activate correctly, there is a risk that the patient may not receive the required dose of adrenaline in a timely manner or they may not get the dose at all. If this happens, it could result in a worsening of the potentially life-threatening symptoms of anaphylaxis or anaphylactic reactions.

Please note that no other batches of EpiPen, including EpiPen Jr 150 microgram adrenaline injection syringe auto-injectors, are known to be affected by this issue and are not subject to this recall.

Information for consumersIf you or someone you provide care for has an EpiPen 300 microgram adrenaline injection syringe auto-injector, check the batch number and expiry on either the label of the EpiPen or on the end of the carton.

[Demonstration of batch number location on EpiPen label and carton]

If your EpiPen is from batch 5FA665, 5FA6651, 5FA6652 or 5FA6653 (all of which expire in April 2017), return it to your pharmacy. Your pharmacist will replace the EpiPen from an affected batch with an EpiPen from a different, unaffected batch free of charge. Alternatively, if you have another unaffected EpiPen available, you can request a refund if you prefer.

While you are advised to return an affected EpiPen as soon as possible, you should keep your current auto-injector until you get the replacement, and use it if required (being mindful that you may need to apply more force than normal to activate it).

If you have any questions or concerns about this issue, talk to your health professional.

Information for health professionalsIf you are treating a patient who has an EpiPen 300 microgram adrenaline injection syringe auto-injector, advise them to check their product’s batch number and to return it to their pharmacy if it is from one of the affected batches.

Please advise patients that, while they should return an affected EpiPen as soon as possible, they should keep their current auto-injector until they get the replacement, and use it if required (being mindful that they may need to apply more force than normal to activate it).

As with all medical emergencies, patients and caregivers should be reminded to remain calm and to not hesitate to call 000 if necessary.

If you have any questions or concerns about this issue, contact Alphapharm on 1800 274 276.

Reporting problemsConsumers and health professionals are encouraged toreport problems with medicines or vaccines. Your report will contribute to the TGA’s monitoring of these products.

The TGA cannot give advice about an individual’s medical condition. You are strongly encouraged to talk with a health professional if you are concerned about a possible adverse event associated with a medicine or vaccine.

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