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April, 2019

Blanchett shares AACTAs spotlight with Mad Max

Blanchett was given the Longford Lyell Award for outstanding contribution to Australian screen at the AACTA awards ceremony in Sydney on Wednesday and took the opportunity to call for more Australian actors to be cast.

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“It needs to be fought for,” she said.

Backstage, Blanchett said the Australian industry should be celebrated for being small and unique, and should stop trying to emulate other industries around the world.

The leading lights of Australia’s entertainment industry are being celebrated tonight with the #AACTA awards.Who’s expected to be the big winner tonight?

Posted by SBS News on Wednesday, December 9, 2015

“I love this industry so deeply and am so very proud to be a part of it that it always pains me so much that we talk ourselves down,” Blanchett said.

“We are a small industry and that’s a virtue, I think it makes us unique.”

Another Kate was awarded on the night, British actress Kate Winslet who won best lead actress for her role in The Dressmaker.

The Dressmaker also won the people’s choice film of the year, while Mad Max:Fury Road picked up the two big gongs: best director and best film.

@alyshiagates speaks with #AACTA recipient Cate Blanchett on the red carpet @SBSNews pic.twitter杭州桑拿会所,/RpWZsqQ5t8

— Manny Tsigas (@mantsig) December 9, 2015

Michael Caton won his first AACTA for best actor for his part in Last Cab To Darwin while Hugo Weaving picked up best supporting actor for The Dressmaker.

The big winner in TV was the miniseries about the late entertainer, Peter Allen: The Boy Next Door.

The Seven Network show picked up several gongs including best telefeature or miniseries and best supporting actress, which went to Sigrid Thornton.

Fourteen-year-old Ky Baldwin won best supporting actor for his role as the young Allen. Miller was given his best director gong by his original Max, Mel Gibson, who is back in town to make his film Hacksaw Ridge. “It’s great to be back,” he said. 

The #AACTA Red Carpet starting to get a little crowded as the countdown to the ceremony continues… @SBSNews pic.twitter杭州桑拿会所,/MyR4V4LHP5

— Manny Tsigas (@mantsig) December 9, 2015

Climate talks rare mishmash of all sorts

There are few places in the world where you might walk past Prince Charles, Barack Obama and Sean Penn in the space of an hour.

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COP21 – the insider name for major United Nations climate talks in Paris – is one of them.

A makeshift conference centre on the fringes of Paris has hosted 40,000 people from across the world for almost two weeks.

The 195 nationalities are well represented, which in itself creates a fascinating milieu as people share stories and ideas from home.

The UN bubble also temporarily houses some of the world’s top scientists, academics and diplomats, while lending space to activists, green groups and young aspiring politicians.

High profile leaders, like Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Obama, were there for day one to deliver national statements alongside around 150 others.

Prince Charles has made an appearance, as has Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin and Richard Branson.

There’s also 3000 journalists, photographers and cameramen.

It’s the high-level negotiations on a potential global climate change deal that bring the tens of thousands to the little-known Paris suburb of Le Bourget.

Negotiators have spent hours in large halls filled with rows of desks brandishing country name tags and shoot-off meeting rooms with blank walls.

But the venue, which has its own souvenir shop and could be the centre of a small town, has more going on than painstaking diplomacy.

Each country has it’s own pavilion – some understated and some lavish.

The resources poured into the stall doesn’t appear to reflect the country’s commitment to climate change.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt seems proud Australia didn’t bother decorating its space – bragging that not one taxpayer dollar had been spent on glitz.

India wins the title of most impressive pavilion.

It boasts a spectacular water feature that display the words “India @ COP21 Paris” and “Fifth largest wind energy producer in the world”.

Inside, its sci-fi looking display points to the nation’s wind and solar investment through flashy television screens.

Germany has arguably the most popular stall, but that may be because the nation offers free coffee from a restaurant-quality machine – which is sorely lacking elsewhere in the centre.

On the walk in each morning, conference goers are confronted with two options: free apples or free chocolate.

Of course, the “change chocolate” is carbon neutral. And you can opt for both.

“This change chocolate is our gift to you for making sweet climate history in Paris,” the inside of the wrapper reads.

There are demonstrations, although small, and hundreds of young people eagerly anticipating the final agreement.

Australian Youth Climate Coalition member Jaden Harris, 20, is one of them. He’s in Paris to tell leaders they need to do more.

“If we don’t take action now we’ll be the ones who have to clean up the mess,” he told AAP.

Raphaelle, from the French Young Greens, is one of dozens walking around the conference with a black ring painted over one eye.

She tells AAP it’s to “look negotiators in the eye” and call for net zero emissions by 2050.

The thousands of journalists sprawl over two levels of desks and lamps, but the workspace is accompanied by a lounge zone for relaxed meetings and the occasional much-needed nap.

But it’s the negotiators who are likely the most tired, with talks going through the night and speculation they won’t end by the deadline of Friday night.

At the heart of it all are two documents known as the draft texts, which have been whittled down from 54 to 29 pages over 10 long days and nights.

The final words in those documents will determine if the world will be finally bound to reduce global carbon emissions.

COP21 President Laurent Fabius summed it up on Wednesday.

“We’ve made progress but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” he said.

Abbott gets leave pass to speak out

Malcolm Turnbull is comfortable with Tony Abbott remaining “connected” with the government and making public comment.

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But the prime minister has taken issue with Mr Abbott’s suggestion one of the causes of extremism is the Islamic faith has not properly integrated into society.

Mr Abbott, who was ousted by Mr Turnbull in September, has launched a media blitz in which he defended his legacy in government as well as remarking on the “massive problem” of Islam not fitting in with the modern world.

He’s also vowed not to decide on his parliamentary future until at least April, which would avoid a by-election in his northern Sydney seat of Warringah but leave Liberal colleagues guessing about his ambitions.

Mr Turnbull, who toured Western Australia on Wednesday, said he was keeping in touch with Mr Abbott.

“I had a very good discussion with him a week or so ago and I’m sure I will meet with him again in the future,” Mr Turnbull said.

While Mr Abbott was entitled to his opinion on extremism, almost all Muslims were appalled by it and the leaders of the major Muslim nations such as Indonesia had spoken out against it, the prime minister said.

Indonesia demonstrated the Muslim faith could be compatible with a democratic, open and tolerant society, Mr Turnbull said.

“The one thing we need to be very careful not to do, and I’m sure Tony agrees with this, is play into the hands of our enemies and seek to tag all Muslims with the responsibility for the crimes of a few,” Mr Turnbull said.

Mr Abbott has urged Australians to promote the West’s culture while calling on Muslims to do more to denounce terrorism and reclaim their faith.

“We’ve got to work closely with live-and-let-live Muslims because, as (Egyptian) President Al-Sisi has said, there needs to be a religious revolution inside Islam,” Mr Abbott told Sky News on Tuesday.

In a News Corp column on Wednesday, Mr Abbott said Australians should stop being apologetic for values which have made their country free, fair and prosperous, because some cultures were not equal.

“We should be ready to proclaim the clear superiority of our culture to one that justifies killing people in the name of God,” he wrote.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Turnbull should pull Mr Abbott into line.

“Inflammatory language undermines efforts to build social cohesion, mutual respect and has the potential to harm the efforts of national security agencies to keep Australians safe,” he said.

The Australian Muslim community had been working closely with police and security agencies.

Mr Abbott also defended his economic policies including the Medicare co-payment, university fee deregulation and waiting times for the dole.

Liberal frontbencher Jamie Briggs said it was no surprise Mr Abbott should want to defend his legacy, but the media were making too much of his comments.

DuPont, Dow soar on reports of merger

Shares of Dow Chemical and DuPont are trading sharply higher amid reports that the two chemical giants are in advanced merger discussions.

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The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that the companies were planning to merge and then split into three companies focused on agriculture, specialty chemicals and materials.

Shares of Dow Chemical, based in Midland, Michigan, rose almost 11 per cent to $US56.40 in afternoon trading on Wednesday after hitting an all-time high of $US56.88 earlier in the day.

Shares of DuPont, based in Wilmington, Delaware, were up 11.4 per cent at $US74.38.

The two companies, both with strong positions in the agriculture sector, declined to comment on media reports of a possible merger and an official announcement was possible as early as Thursday.

A merger of DuPont and Dow, each with a market capitalisation of more than $US60 billion ($A83.15 billion), would create the world’s second-largest chemical company, behind BASF SE.

DuPont employs more than 60,000 people worldwide, while Dow has more than 50,000 employees.

A merger likely would result in significant job cuts because of overlapping businesses.

“DuPont has always been a great partner with our state, and we expect the lines of communication to remain open if anything significant were to materialise,” said Kelly Bachman, a spokeswoman for Delaware Governor Jack Markell.

Dow was founded in 1897 by Canadian-born chemist Herbert Dow to produce bleach using new technology he had developed to extract chlorine from brine.

DuPont was founded in 1802 by French immigrant E.I. DuPont, who established a gunpowder manufacturing operation along the Brandywine River in Wilmington.

In the years since, the two companies expanded into a wide range of specialty and commodity chemical operations resulting in a variety of iconic products, from the Ziploc sandwich bags and Saran wrap developed by Dow to Dupont’s Teflon coatings and Kevlar body armour.

In recent years, however, both companies have focused on agriculture, as global demand for increased food supplies has driven sales of genetically engineered seeds, fertiliser, herbicides and pesticides.

‘Sensitive Santa’ brings Christmas joy to children with autism

When Santa first appeared in her local shopping centre, Kirri Cottrill knew it would be too much for her two-year-old son Jack to handle.

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“He eyeballed him from the corner of his eye. He covered his ears and turned his head and it was too much noise, too much happening, over stimulation,” she said. “Jack wasn’t coping at all.”

Jack was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder last August. As the holiday season approached, Kirri had been worried about how he’d cope with all the noise and festivities surrounding Christmas.

But she said that changed after meeting Sensitive Santa.

“It was beautiful. It was magical for him,” she said.

“He connected with Santa, he looked into his eyes, he touched his hand, and he wasn’t scared.”

The program is run at the Mill Park Library, north of Melbourne. Santa’s cove has low lightening, minimal decorations and no music. Santa doesn’t force contact with the children, instead he’ll lay on the ground and play until the children are comfortable enough to make contact.

Photographers don’t use flashes and all the volunteers have undergone training to interact with children who have Autism.

Each family has a 30-minute time slot and Sensitive Santa is equipped with a cheat sheet of what each child likes and dislikes before they meet.

Mill Park Library branch manager Kylie Carlson calls each parent for an interview to ensure each meeting with Santa is as smooth as possible.

“All our volunteers on the day – the photographers and staff – all know the specifics about that child and talk to that child. It might be Thomas the Tank Engine they love so Santa will talk to them about Thomas the Tank to make them feel comfortable.”

It’s been so popular the 2013 pilot program has led to Sensitive Santa sell-outs every year since.

With one in every 100 Australian children diagnosed with autism, Amber Smith from Nillumbik Shire Council said it’s hoped the Sensitive Santa program would be expanded.

“Rotary of Eltham continue to fund the project and Metro Access across the three Shires are putting in some money as well. It’s not a particularly expensive project, but I think that it has the capacity to grow and it will need additional funds to do that,” she said.

That’s a suggestion the big man himself agreed with.

Santa said many children with Autism are unable to cope with noisy shopping centres and loud Christmas displays, and as a result their siblings also miss out.

He said getting that first-ever picture on Santa’s knee can be an emotional experience for parents with Autistic children.

“The biggest response comes from the parents and siblings. Obviously some of the children have never had that experience with Santa before, and mum and dad have a few tears and Santa has to hold them back too,” he said.

Now Kirri Cottrill said instead of dreading Christmas, the whole family is looking forward to it.

“I worry for Jack every day [and] how’s he going to go today compared to tomorrow. But having seen Sensitive Santa, I’m excited for Christmas.”