US clinic plans first face transplant

Posted by s8KR2i on March 20, 2019 - 2:33 am

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

US doctors are to interview 12 patients with a view to performing the first ever transplant of a human face.

The Cleveland Clinic will choose between seven women and five men to find the person most suited for the experimental procedure, which is a radical and controversial solution to extreme facial scarring or disfigurement.

Having practiced the procedure on bodies donated for medical research, the Cleveland Clinic team believe they have a 50% chance of success. The procedure will not live up to science-fiction predictions and give the recipient the appearance of the donor; the underlying bone structure is the deciding factor in the final appearance. The new face will end up resembling neither the donor nor recipient.

Surgeons in several other countries have announced being ready to perform this procedure in the past. However, the risk and non life-threatening nature of disfigurement have meant that gaining approval for the groundbreaking surgery has been difficult. Like many other transplant operations, the recipient would be required to take drugs to prevent tissue rejection for the remainder of their life. These drugs can have side effects and carry their own risks involving the patient’s immune system.

United States Senate prepares for floor vote on net neutrality

Posted by s8KR2i on March 20, 2019 - 2:23 am

{{tasks|news|re-review}}Tuesday, January 9, 2018

On Monday, Democrats in the United States Senate announced they had gained enough sponsors to perform a congressional review of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s December 2017 reversal of previous rules regulating Internet service providers, commonly called Net Neutrality.

Under the Congressional Review Act, if 30 senators co-sponsor the action, United States Congress can vote on whether to overrule a decision made by a federal agency such as the FCC. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate would have vote in favor, and President Donald Trump would have to sign the review.

On Monday, Claire McCaskill of Missouri announced she was the 30th senator to agree to sponsor the floor vote. “What I’ve heard from the thousands of Missourians who’ve contacted my office is simple — consumers should have protected, free, and open access to the online content of their choosing,” she said in a statement.

The Obama-era Net Neutrality rules were revoked last month. On December 14, as protesters gathered in Washington D.C., the United States Federal Communications Commission under Chairman Ajit Pai voted 3-2 to overturn the 2015 decision, which forbade Internet service providers (ISPs) such as Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T from blocking individual websites or charging websites or customers more for faster load times.

Specifically, the 2015 decision placed the Internet under Title II of the 1934 Telecommunications Act, which established that Internet access must be regulated under the same rules as a utility. Currently, in the U.S., telephones are regulated in this way, but cable television is not. Cable providers can offer bundled services and otherwise select which channels to offer customers; they do not have to offer access to every channel the way ISPs have offered access to the whole Internet. The new rules voted on December 14 transfer the Internet from the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission to the Federal Trade Commission, which means instead of being forbidden from blocking websites or offering different access speeds, ISPs will only be required to disclose having done so.

Telecom analyst Gigi Sohn, who worked with Pai’s predecessor Tom Wheeler in 2015, said, “There are going to be fast lanes and slow lanes[…] As a consumer, that means some of your favorite websites are going to load more slowly, and it also may mean some of your favorite content goes away because the provider just can’t pay the fee.”

Former Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson said, “Net neutrality allowed something like Etsy to hang out a shingle on the web and give it a try”.

Supporters of the new rule argue Net Neutrality regulations were unnecessary. Commissioner Michael O’Reilly pointed out the Internet “has functioned without net neutrality rules for far longer than it has without [sic] them.”

“Quite simply, we are restoring the light-touch framework that has governed the internet for most of its existence,” said Chairman Pai, who argued removing the rules would make the Internet freer and more open.

“[T]he internet will continue to work tomorrow just as it always has,” promised AT&T Senior Executive Vice President Bob Quinn, who said his company would not block websites or discriminate with respect to content.

Opposition was organized almost immediately and was not limited to plans for congressional review: The Attorneys General for the states of New York and Washington have both announced plans for lawsuits against the new rules.. The United States Congress also has the authority to overrule the FCC’s decision by passing legislation. One such bill, House Resolution 4585, or the “Save Net Neutrality Act of 2017,” was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives on December 7.

According to a poll conducted the week of December 6 by the University of Maryland, more than 80% of registered U.S. voters opposed the repeal of Net Neutrality, 75% of registered Republicans, 89% of registered Democrats, and 86% of independents, those not registered to either party. Before the vote, the FCC had accepted comments on the measure from the public through its website, FCC.gov. However, there have been allegations that many of the comments offered in support of the rollback were fakes. Before the vote took place, attorneys general from seventeen states and the District of Columbia sent a letter to the FCC asking the vote be delayed until the matter could be investigated.

The FCC’s decision must be published in the U.S. Federal Register before congressional review can take place or any lawsuits filed.

[edit]

Woman killed on amusement park ride in New York

Posted by s8KR2i on March 19, 2019 - 2:40 am

Sunday, July 1, 2007

A young woman was killed Friday night after an accident occurred on a gyrating ride at the Playland amusement park in Rye, New York in the United States. The woman, Gabriela Garin, was a worker at the amusement park, and had worked there for the past seven years.

The accident occurred near the end of Garin’s shift; as she was loading riders onto the ride. The ride’s new operator, unaware of Garin’s presence, started the ride while Garin was still on it. The new operator then noticed Garin, and shut the ride down in 20 seconds, but Garin had already been ejected from the ride and killed, according to a park spokesperson.

The ride is an attraction that spins people around in two-seat cars, inside a darkened tent to flashing lights and music.

This incident is not the first in the ride’s history. In 2004, a seven-year-old from Connecticut managed to free herself from the ride’s restraining bars, and climb onto the front edge of her seat. She fell soon after the ride started. A safety precaution was put in place after this incident, however, the spokesperson acknowledged that it was not followed when Garin was killed.

The company which owns the ride shut it down, along with two other rides it owns at the park.

This is the fourth fatality in the park’s history. The park features more than 50 rides, a pool, and a beach. It attracts more than 1 million visitors annually.

Chemical firm LyondellBasell collapses

Posted by s8KR2i on March 19, 2019 - 2:04 am

Friday, January 9, 2009

 Correction — January 17, 2009 

LyondellBasell did not collapse. Although the United States units and an affiliate registered in Germany filed for voluntary bankruptcy protection, the rest of the group, including the Netherlands parent, is operating normally. Sources:

Global chemical manufacturer LyondellBasell — the third-largest private chemical company in the world — has collapsed. The firm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States, as well as the Dutch equivalent. They had failed to meet a January 4 deadline on postponed debt payments, and talks with creditors failed.

Headquartered in The Netherlands, LyondellBasell is owned by private equity tycoon Len Blavatnik, who had already refused the company a loan to help deal with debt resulting from a $12.7 billion merger between Basell International Holdings and Lyondell Chemical to create LyondellBasell Industries.

The company had already appointed Kevin McShea from Alix Partners to restructure the firm. McShea was assigned speculatively prior to the bankruptcy filing. Access Industries, Blavatnik’s company, refused to extend credit as part of a loan deal brokered in March, a decision Lyondell Chemicals Company, a subsidiary of LyondellBasell, stated they were unhappy with.

LyondellBasell had postponed $280 million worth of interest payments, which Standard & Poor said placed it in “selective default” with a “rapidly weakening liquidity position”. S&P also said that LyondellBasell have debts of $26 billion in a report on the company prior to the firm’s collapse.

LyondellBasell responded with a press release, issuing the following statement: “Standard & Poor’s definition of ‘selected default’ related to our corporate credit rating should not be misinterpreted to suggest that LyondellBasell is currently in default of its bank agreements. As they stated in their press release, ‘This is a default in our opinion according to our definitions and criteria.’ LyondellBasell is not currently in default according to its agreements with its lenders.”

The company met with high oil prices shortly after the expensive merger. This was followed by a general tail-off in demand caused by the ongoing financial crisis. Investors were continuing to bet before the collapse that the firm would restructure under bankruptcy protection, leaving lenders with big losses, potentially over 90% of their investments. The cost of credit protection for LyondellBasell bonds had soared. The creditors include Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, ABN Amro and UBS.

On Thursday, an interim allowance was made by a judge for LyondellBasell to seek up to $2.167 billion of loans. There is also an emergency loan paid out of $100 million. As well as LyondellBasell, 79 affiliates have become insolvent. Citigroup has said the collapse will set them back $1.4 billion in unpaid debts.

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer makes 2005 Budget speech

Posted by s8KR2i on March 18, 2019 - 2:19 am

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The United Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Right Honourable Gordon Brown PC MP, in a speech to the British House of Commons today presented his ninth Budget, what is very likely to be his last Budget before the next UK General Election. This opened the parliamentary debate on the 2005 Finance Bill, and was followed by responses from the opposition parties.

In a 48 minute long speech, the Chancellor presented a Budget of “tax cuts that are reasonable, spending that is affordable, and [economic] stability that is paramount”, that was “the prudent course for Britain”. There were few surprises that had not already been indicated in his 2004 pre-Budget report. The increase in the threshold on stamp duty was greater than that forecast by commentators, as was the amount of the Council Tax rebate to households with pensioners.

Contents

  • 1 The Budget in detail
    • 1.1 Duty
    • 1.2 Taxes
    • 1.3 Benefits
    • 1.4 Business
    • 1.5 Employment
    • 1.6 Savings
    • 1.7 Spending
    • 1.8 Memorials
  • 2 Responses from opposition parties
    • 2.1 Conservative
    • 2.2 Liberal Democrat
  • 3 Sources

Reports of at least fourteen dead this week due to gun-related suicides in the United States

Posted by s8KR2i on March 17, 2019 - 2:08 am
 Correction — February 6, 2013 This article does not conform to our neutrality policy, due to its manner of presentation of an out-of-context selection of facts. The lapse appears to have been unintentional by all parties involved. We apologize for the error. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A number of suicides as a result of self-inflicted gunshot wounds took place around the United States this week with reports of deaths in Arizona, California, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina and Washington.

Last Saturday in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alston Badger died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 51 years old.

On Monday in Clark County, Nevada, Jody Sherman, the Ecomom founder and CEO, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Another suicide occurred Monday in New Jersey. Chester and Rosaria Andraka died after Chester allegedly shot Rosaria before killing himself. Chester was a former police officer and there were few signs of trouble in the relationship prior to their deaths.

Another murder-suicide shooting took place on Monday. This one occurred in Elmont, New York, where 58-year-old Audley Dennis is believed to have shot his 46-year-old wife, Karen Rodgers-Dennis, before he shot himself. The couple allegedly had a history of fighting, with a family friend telling the New York Post, “They had their altercations. They would argue and yell, have outbursts.”

In Greensburg, Indiana on Tuesday, local police Lieutenant Larry G. Dance committed suicide, dying from a self-inflicted gunshot. He had joined the police force on January 1, 1995. He left behind by a wife and two daughters.

On Tuesday in Waldorf, Maryland, local police reported an attempted murder-suicide with sixty-four year old Linda Lindsey believed to have shot her husband before fatally shooting herself. Her husband was reported to have survived and be in critical condition.

Devin Peterson, a twenty-two year old, allegedly committed suicide with a state trooper’s shotgun following his alleged theft of a police cruiser, another car and a police chase on Interstate 80 in Nevada on Wednesday.

A seventy-year-old man from Renton, Washington died from a self-inflicted gun shot wound on Wednesday shortly after he called 911 to tell the dispatcher he was planning to take his own life.

On Wednesday, three people died in a murder-suicide in Oxnard, California that involved at least one gun. The deceased included two women and the suspected male shooter.

On Thursday, Lee Vining Fire Chief Tom Strazdims reported an Oregon man likely commited suicide by shooting himself in the parking lot of the town’s visitor center.

Also on Thursday, the body of a suspected gunman accused of killing a call center CEO and injuring a lawyer was found dead of a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound in Mesa, Arizona. Police had been searching for the man since Wednesday following the shooting at a mediation session over a lawsuit.

In another reported suicide on Thursday, this one in the Baltimore area, a man was found dead in the parking lot of the Timonium gun range of a self-inflicted gun shot wound.

In Radcliff, Kentucky on Thursday, alleged burglar Michael Strand exchanged gunfire with police after they attempted to bring him in for questioning. Following a lull of approximately an hour, police entered the apartment and found the man dead from an alleged self-inflicted gunshot wound.

In Medina, Ohio on Thursday, United States Marine Andrew Baumgartner, who served in Afghanistan and had been discharged several months ago, got into an altercation with Sgt. Scott Schmoll after Schmoll felt a gun on Baumgartner’s person. Following this, Baumgartner hid in nearby woodlands, emerged to knock on the door of a local home to tell the resident he had been hit by a car, only to disappear into the woods again. He subsequently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police discovered his body alongside items they believed he had stolen.

The problem of suicide by self-inflicted gunshot wound is recognized by some gun groups. The Royal Oak shooting range in Michigan stopped renting guns this week following after twelve people having attempted to kill themselves with guns rented from the range since 2001 (five of them were successful). Three of the incidents occurred in the past four months, with two of them fatal.

These suicides take place against a backdrop of gun control discussion in the United States Congress, where former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and an NRA spokesperson appeared before the body this week to discuss the possible need for stricter gun control laws.

According to the Maine Center of Disease Control and Prevention, guns are used in 85% of male suicides in the state. Debate has continued this week in the state about gun control as it relates to suicide. Iran’s PressTV published an opinion piece claiming that for every gun owner who uses their weapon in their home for self-defense, there are eleven suicide attempts involving a weapon. In the United States, veterans are more likely to use guns in acts of suicide than acts of homicide. The number of daily suicides by veterans is currently 22.

Guns are often used in suicide attempts, with PolitiFact reporting on Wednesday that there were 4,643 non-fatal gun involved suicide attempts in 2010. This number contradicts testimony by Wayne LaPierre of NRA to the United States Congress regarding unintentional deaths cause by firearms as LaPierre cited 600 deaths. Australia instituted tougher gun control regulations in 1996, including gun buy back programs. According to a study by Andrew Leigh of Australian National University and Christine Neill of Wilfrid Laurier University, these programs correlate to an 80% drop in suicides involving guns at a time when other methods of suicide remained consistent.

Similar research done in the United States has similar results. A 1991 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found stricter gun control in the District of Columbia was a likely cause of a reduction in the number of suicides by gun shot in D.C. compared to surrounding areas.

Pakistani President signs bill to merge Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Posted by s8KR2i on March 17, 2019 - 2:03 am

Saturday, June 2, 2018

On Thursday, Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain signed a bill to merge the country’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with the neighbouring province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

The “Federally Administered Tribal Areas Reforms Bill, 2018”, seeking to end the colonial-era rules which are applicable to the five million people living in FATA, was approved by the federal lower house, the National Assembly, on May 24, the upper house — the Senate — on May 25 and the KP Provincial Assembly on May 27. The bill was presented to the president by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani on Tuesday for the president’s assent. President Hussain’s approval for the 25th Constitutional Amendment will remove mention of “FATA” from the Constitution.

Since Pakistani independence from British rule in 1947, the Pakistani President had been appointing “Political Agents” to govern FATA, who exercised near-complete autonomous control over the areas. These agents were responsible for providing government and judicial services under Article 247 of the Pakistani Constitution. Before January 12, when a bill extended the writ of both the Pakistani Supreme Court and Peshawar High Court to FATA, the tribal areas were outside the jurisdiction of the Pakistani courts. Instead, the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) was the applicable law of FATA. Per this regulation, dating back to the colonial era, collective punishment of a tribe was possible, and FATA citizens did not enjoy all the rights under the Constitution of Pakistan that other Pakistanis were entitled to.

Along with the purging of “FATA” from the Pakistani constitution, the merger bill affects Article 1 of the constitution which defines Pakistan’s territories. The bill includes changes in the legislative area. KP is to have 55 seats in the country’s National Assembly, and the Senate size is to be decreased to 96 from 104 by 2024. The bill also adds 21 new seats — sixteen general ones, four exclusively for women and one for a non-Muslim candidate — for the FATA citizens in the KP Provincial Assembly; it previously had 124 seats.

The president is yet to sign the 31st Amendment of the Constitution resulting in the usurpation of Article 247 of the Pakistani Constitution which lays down directions for administering the federally and the provincially administered tribal areas of the country. KP is to receive a “FATA Interim Governance Regulation” once the president signs the 31st Amendment. However, the removal of Article 247 would lead to Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) citizens losing certain privileges and incentives. Members of the KP Provincial Assembly from the Malakand division (the PATA) including Inayatullah Khan, Sardar Babak, Dr Haider Ali, and Muhammad Ali Shah expressed their dissatisfaction with the purging of incentives for PATA. Those assembly members also asked for exemption of taxes for PATA citizens. Outgoing Chief Minister of KP, Pervez Khattak said he would raise the concerns with the Federal Government, requesting a ten-year tax exemption for PATA citizens.

After approving the bill, the president said this move is to “open up an entire era of prosperity and development for its people and help them progress in all spheres of life”. He added, saying, “The nation needs to work together to fully benefit from this historic opportunity.”

The merger bill was proposed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, and passed with 229–1, 71–5, and 92–7 in the National Assembly, Senate and the KP Provincial Assembly respectively. The Jamiat Ulema-e Islam (F) and Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party were the two parties to oppose the merger in both, provincial and national assemblies.

Scientists grow beating rat heart in lab

Posted by s8KR2i on March 14, 2019 - 2:31 am

Monday, January 14, 2008

Scientists from the University of Minnesota have successfully created a beating heart in a lab. The team was led by Dr. Doris Taylor, director of the University’s Center for Cardiovascular Repair, used a process called “decellularization” in which the hearts were taken from newborn rats and stripped of their cells. The resulting non-living mass, called an extracellular matrix or ECM, contains no cells and therefore will not be rejected by its new owners. New muscle and endothelial cells are then injected into the ECM and stimulated electrically.

The first micro-contractions occurred within two days of the new cells being injected into the ECMs and visible contractions began to occur within seven to eight days. The rat hearts beat strongly enough to pump fluid out the aorta, although the force at which they beat was only equivalent to 2 percent of a normal adult rat or about 25 percent of a 16 week old human fetus.

The researchers will next be testing the process of pig hearts for which ECMs have already been created. A pig heart is roughly the size of a human heart. The eventual hope of the project is to be able to use the process on human hearts taken from cadavers or pig hearts with human cells injected, though it remains to be seen whether or not the process will work on a heart from a larger animal, such as a pig or human. The team also plans to experiment with the process on other organs such as kidneys, livers and lungs.

Peruvians sue Newmont Mining Company over mercury poisoning

Posted by s8KR2i on March 14, 2019 - 2:23 am

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Peruvians living near the site of a release of mercury are preparing to sue a U.S. mining company, announcing last Saturday that they will bring their case before a Denver judge.

On June 2, 2000, a serious accident in the province of Cajamarca, in Peru, poisoned many residents with mercury, a highly toxic heavy metal. A truck from Newmont Mining Company dumped two metal canisters of mercury along an Andean highway, in the communities of San Juan, Choropampa, and Magdalena. Curious townspeople (mostly children) picked up the silvery droplets, and some even drank some of it. Many residents became sick from severe mercury poisoning. Some of those who came in contact with the mercury suffered blindness, and one even had a purplish rash on her body.

Over 300 people directly suffered the effects of mercury poisoning.

As the owners of the Yanacocha mine which produced the mercury, Newmont Mining offered up to US$6 thousand to more than 700 local residents, but over 1,100 others are still engaged in a legal battle with Newmont over the case.

In today’s global economy, many international businesses have looked overseas to maintain their profits, but environmental law professor James Otto is asking about the cost to the environment and public health. “Any company that wants to mine internationally now must not only have the legal right to mine but also a ‘social license’ to operate,” he said. “Peru has been a wake-up call.”

As the Peruvian residents gear up for their lawsuit against Denver-based Newmont Mining, the world’s largest gold mining firm, some of these important questions may finally be answered. After the breakdown of mediation talks with Newmont on January 20, the residents and their lawyer decided to stop negotiating behind closed doors and take their case to the public. Last Saturday, March 5, 2005, they announced that they are bringing their suit before Denver District Judge Robert Hyatt. “If successful,” states Ken Krowder who represents the plaintiffs, “[this] would mark the first time an American firm is held accountable for environmental damages overseas.”

This is not the first time Newmont Mining has had trouble with an emerging Third World environmental movement. Recently, in August 2004, a US$543 million lawsuit was filed against Newmont Mining by the Indonesian Environmental Ministry and local villagers. They claim that pollution caused by the company’s mining activities has caused serious illnesses and other health problems, including skin disease, tumors, birth defects, and a decline in fish stocks, a staple food. One particular mining practice used frequently by Newmont Mining in Indonesia is submarine tailings disposal, a waste disposal method for mercury and arsenic that is outlawed in the United States.

At least six Newmont Mining managers, including an American and an Australian, face up to 15 years in a Jakarta prison for environmental and corporate crime in that case.

The local Peruvian residents are continuing their fight for safer mining practices and compensation for existing damage and injuries. Thousands of local townspeople protested against the Yanacocha mine last fall, demanding protection for the local water supply.

Newmont Mining officials have blamed the June 2000 mercury spill on a contractor, and have lost the battle to keep the case out of the American court system.

Wikinews interviews Australian blind Paralympic skier Melissa Perrine

Posted by s8KR2i on March 13, 2019 - 2:40 am

Monday, December 10, 2012

Vail, Colorado, United States — Yesterday, Wikinews sat down with Australian blind Paralympic skier Melissa Perrine who was participating in a national team training camp in Vail, Colorado.

((Wikinews)) This is Melissa Perrine. And are you like Jess Gallagher and just here training and not competing?

Melissa Perrine: I’m not competing right now.

((WN)) And you competed in 2010 in Vancouver?

MP: I did. Yeah.

((WN)) And who was your guide?

MP: Andy Bor.

((WN)) Why a male guide? He’s got to have different skis, and he can’t turn exactly the same way.

MP: I think that with me it was just that Andy was the fittest person that was with the team when I came along. He used to be an assistant coach with the team before I started with him.

((WN)) And you guys have a good relationship?

MP: Yeah!

((WN)) Like a husband and wife relationship without the sex?

MP: No, not at all. (laughs) Older brother maybe. Good relationship though. We get along really well.

((WN)) So have you ever lost communications on the course in an embarrassing moment?

MP: We ski courses without communications. (unintelligible)

((WN)) You’re a B3 then?

MP: I’m a B2.

((WN)) So you can see even less than Jessica Gallagher.

MP: Yes.

((WN)) How do you ski down a course when you can’t even see it?

MP: Andy!

((WN)) You just said you had no communications!

MP: Oh, I just have to be a lot closer to him.

((WN)) So if he’s close enough you can overcome that issue?

MP: Yeah.

((WN)) Why are you doing skiing?

MP: Why? I enjoy it.

((WN)) You enjoy going fast?

MP: I love going fast. I like the challenge of it.

((WN)) Even though you can’t see how fast you’re going.

MP: Oh yes. It’s really good. It’s enjoyable. It’s a challenge. I love the sport, I love the atmosphere.

((WN)) I’ve asked the standing skiers, who’s the craziest Paralympic skiers? Is it the ones who are on the sit skis, the blind ones or the ones missing limbs?

MP: I probably think it’s the sit skiers who are a bit nuts. I think we all think the other categories are a bit mental. I wouldn’t jump on a sit ski and go down the course. Or put the blindfold on and do the same thing.

((WN)) B1 with the black goggles. Is your eye sight degenerative?

MP: No, I’m pretty stable.

((WN)) Not going to become a B1 any time soon?

MP: Oh God, I hope not. No, I’m pretty stable so I don’t envision getting much blinder than I am now unless something goes wrong.

((WN)) And you’re trying for Sochi?

MP: Definitely.

((WN)) And you think your chances are really good?

MP: I think I’ve got a decent chance. I just have to keep training like I have been.

((WN)) Win a medal this time?

MP: I’d like to. That’s the intention. (laughs)

((WN)) Do you like the media attention you’ve gotten? Do you wish there was more for yourself and winter sports, or of women athletes in general?

MP: I think that promoting women in sport and the winter games is more important than promoting myself. I’m quite happy to stay in the background, but if I can do something to promote the sport, or promote women in the sport, especially because we’ve got such a small amount of women competing in skiing, especially in blind skiing. I think that’s more important overall.

((WN)) Most skiers are men?

MP: There’s more men competing in skiing, far more. The standards are a bit higher with the males than with the females.

((WN)) The classification system for everyone else is functional ability, and you guys are a medical classification. Do you think you get a fair shake in terms of classification? Are you happy with the classification?

MP: I think I’m happy with it, the way it’s set out. With vision impairment I’m a B2, against other B2s. It may be the same category, but we have different disabilities, so there’s not much more they can do. I think it’s as fair as they possibly can.

((WN)) You like the point system? You’re okay with it? Competing against B1s and B3s even though you’re a B2?

MP: The factors even all that out. The way they’ve got it at the moment, I don’t have any issues with them, the blind categories.

((WN)) What was it that got you skiing in the first place?

MP: An accident, basically. Complete by chance. A friend of mine in the Department of Recreation used to run skiing camps in the South West Sydney region, and she had a spare spot at one of the camps. Knew that I was vision impaired, and: “Do you want to come along?” “Yeah, why, not, give it a go.” This was back when I was about twelve, thirteen. I went, and I loved it. Went back again, and again, and again. And for the first five or six years I just skied for like a week a season sort of thing, like, you’re on a camp. Fell in love with the sport; my skiing and the mountain atmosphere, I love it, and then, when I finished my HSC, I decided to take myself off to Canada, and skiing Kimberley, the disabled race program that was run by the ex-Australian who coaches Steve Boba, and I’d heard about it through Disabled Winter Sports Australia. And I thought I’d spend some time in Canada, which is for skiing, and had a year off between school and uni, so… first time I ran through a race course actually. It was pretty awesome. So I went back again the next year, and Steve [Boba] recommended me to Steve [Graham], and he watched me skiing in September in the South Island, and invited me on a camp with the Australian team, and I trained for Vancouver, and I qualified, and I said “sure, why not?” And here I am!

((WN)) So you liked Vancouver?

MP: It was just an amazing experience. I came into Vancouver… I had quite a bad accident on a downhill course in Sestriere about seven weeks out from the games, and I fractured my pelvis. So, I was coming into Vancouver with an injury and I had only just recovered and was in quite a lot of pain. So it was an amazing experience and I was quite glad I did it, but wish for a different outcome.

((WN)) So you are more optimistic about Sochi then?

MP: Yes.

((WN)) One of the things about skiing is that it’s really expensive to do. How do you afford to ski given how expensive it is? And the fact that you need a guide who’s got his own expenses.

MP: I’m lucky enough to rank quite high in the world at the moment, so due to my ranking I’m awarded a certain amount of funding from the Australian Sports Commission, which covers my equipment and expenses, and the team picks up training costs and travel costs. All I’ve got to pay for is food and my own equipment, which is good, so I’ve managed to do it a budget.

((WN)) What do you do outside of skiing, because you look kind of young? And you being not like, 30 or 40?

MP: I’m 24. I’m a student still.

((WN)) Which university?

MP: University of Western Sydney. It’s my third university degree. I’ve completed two others prior to this one that I’m doing now.

((WN)) Which degree? That you’re currently pursuing.

MP: Currently, physiotherapy.

((WN)) Because of your experience with sport?

MP: Not really, except that my experience with sport certainly helped my interest and kind of fueled a direction to take in the physiotherapy field when I’m finished my degree, but more the medical side of injury, rehabilitation that got me interested in physiotherapy to begin with, burns rehabilitation and things like that.

((WN)) You view yourself a full-time student as opposed to a full-time professional skier.

MP: Not really. I’m a student when uni’s on and when uni’s finished I’m a skier. The way that the term structure is in Australia it gives me all this time to ski. The uni starts at the end of February and goes to the beginning of June, and then we’ve got a six or seven week break until beginning or mid-August, and uni starts again then, and we go up to mid way through November, and then we’ve got a break again. Skiing fits in very nicely to that.

((WN)) What’s the route for qualification to Sochi for you.

MP: Just maintaining my points. At the moment I’ve qualified. I just need to maintain my points, keep my points under, and then I qualify for the Australian team.

((WN)) So there’s a chance they could say no?

MP: If I’m skiing really badly. An injury.

((WN)) Or if you’re like those Australian swimmers who had the guns…

MP: I’ve no sign of picking up a gun any time soon. Giving a blind girl a gun is not a good idea. (laughs)

((WN)) It just seemed to us that Sochi was so far away on out hand, and yet seemed to be in everybody’s mind. It’s on their program. Sixteen months away?

MP: Yes, something like that. Sixteen. I think it’s been on our mind ever since Vancouver was over and done with. Next season, that was that, it was like: “what are our goals for the next four years?” And it was, “What are our goals for the next three years and two years?” And subsequently, next season, it’s Sochi. What we need to work on, what we need to accomplish for then, to be as ready as possible.

((WN)) What is your favourite event of all the skiing ones? You like the downhill because it’s fast? Or you like Giant Slalom because it’s technically challenging? Or…

MP: I prefer the speed events. The downhill; frightens me but I do love the adrenalin. I’m always keen to do a downhill. But I think Super G might just be my favourite.

((WN)) Do you do any other adrenalin junkie type stuff? Do you go bungee jumping? Jumping out of airplanes? Snowboarding?

MP: I don’t snowboard, no. I have jumped out of a plane. I thought that was fun but downhill has got more adrenalin than jumping out of a plane, I found. I do mixed martial arts and judo. That’s my other passion.

((WN)) Have you thought of qualifying for the Summer [Para]lympics in judo?

MP: As far as I know, Australia doesn’t have a judo program for the Paralympics. But, if I ever get good enough, then sure.

((WN)) They sent one.

MP: They’ve sent one, and he’s amazing. He beats up blind guys, able bodieds, quite constantly. I’ve seen video of him fight, and he’s very very good. If I ever reach that level, then sure, it’s something I’d look into it.

((WN)) Does judo help with your skiing?

MP: Yes, it increases my agility and balance, and strength, for sure.

((WN)) I want to let you get back to changing. Thank you very much.