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Archive for November, 2019

15
Nov

Category:May 16, 2010

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Pages in category “May 16, 2010”

15
Nov

New environmental housing regulations for Western Australia

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Western Australian Government has announced that after September 1, 2007 all construction approvals for new homes must comply with new Environmental regulations. The new regulations known as Five Star Plus will be implemented in two stages.

Michelle Roberts, minister for Housing and Works, announced that the first stage would increase the cost of a new house by approximately AU$1000 with a second stage to commence next year, at a further cost to homeowners of $1000. “People building new houses should remember these costs would be offset by ongoing savings in water and energy bills of up to $750 per year,” she said.

The first stage aims to reduce greenhouse gas omissions by 129,000 tonnes over five years. “This is the equivalent of taking 30,000 cars off the road, and (has) the same benefit achieved by planting 15 trees per household,” said Roberts. The first stage will require house to have a range of measures including Solar, or five star rated gas or heat pump hot waters systems.

“It is estimated that if all homes in Western Australia upgraded to the Five Star Plus standards, there would be water savings of 30 gigalitres over five years,” said Roberts. The standards will require water efficient taps, showerheads and dual flush toilets. As well, all new swimming pools will be required to have a pool blanket to reduce evaporation.

The second stage of Five Star Plus will require the design to include alternative water supplies such as rain water tanks and grey water diversion systems.

Concerns from staff within government have been raised about the influence of the Housing Industry Association (HIA) on the government’s environmental initiatives. According to news source, The Age, a senior government official suggested that a more rigorous “building sustainability index” had been developed, but was dropped after intensive lobbying by Western Australia’s HIA. “It was canned at the last moment after huge lobbying,” said the anonymous government employee. “The HIA was very obstructionist.”

9
Nov

Australia: Victorian government to trial driverless vehicles on public roads

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Yesterday, the state government of Victoria, Australia announced their decision to trial self-driving vehicles on two of the state’s major connecting motorways, the CityLink and Tullamarine Freeway. The trial is to use autonomous vehicles from automobile companies including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and Tesla. The two-year trial is to have three phases.

The cars are to drive alongside commuters, but in public testing a driver is always to be present, as Victorian law requires drivers always keep a hand on the steering wheel. However, in occasional closures of the Burnley Tunnel, with no other drivers to endanger, the cars are to be tested with nobody in the vehicle.

Lane assist, cruise control, and recognition of traffic signs are in the trial’s first phase, expected to complete before the end of the year. This includes monitoring how the driver-less cars respond to road conditions, including lane markings and electronic speed signs.

“Victoria is at the forefront of automated vehicle technology — we’re investing in this trial to explore ways that this technology can be used to reduce crashes and keep people safe on our roads”, said Luke Donnellan, the Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety. He noted, “Ninety per cent of the fault of accidents is human error […] so we know that if we can take out human error we will have less accidents”.

Tim Hansen, Victoria Police’s Acting Assistant Commissioner, said that police had founded a project team to investigate how self-driving vehicles would change policing on roads. “Can we intercept vehicles more safely to avoid pursuits and ramming?”, he asked.

The trial is a partnership between the state government, Victoria’s road management authority VicRoads, owner of the CityLink toll road Transurban, and insurance company RACV.

5
Nov

Puppies used to smuggle heroin

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Ten puppies with bags of liquid heroin surgically implanted into their bellies were having seizures in a drug bust in Medellin, Colombia, said authorities.

“They utilized a wide range of smuggling, the most repulsive of which was the use of puppies,” said John P. Gilbride, head of the DEA’s New York office.

“There have been cases of animal cruelty that have led to the discovery of drug labs, but not to the extent of an animal being used to carry drugs, especially a puppy,” said ASPCA spokeswoman Jo Sullivan.

Investigators believe that the dogs were used to smuggle heroin into New York on commercial flights. The drugs were then to be distributed and sold along the East Coast.

“Ten puppies, including Labrador retrievers, were rescued during a 2005 raid on a farm in Colombia,” said the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) on Wednesday. The Agency also announced that they had made more than 30 arrests.

Authorities believe that a veterinarian, Andres Lopez Elorez (who is also believed to be a fugitive in Spain), opened the bellies of at least six of the ten puppies, inserted 500 mL bags of liquid heroin, and then stitched them back up. Three puppies had died due to infections after the drugs were removed. A total of 3 kg of heroin were recovered from six puppies. The bags were found using ultrasound.

“The surviving dogs are still alive and well, we’re told,” said Gilbride. “I think it’s outrageous and heinous that they’d use small, innocent puppies in this way. This investigation identified the individuals who were responsible for overseeing and smuggling millions of dollars worth of heroin from Colombia to the East Coast.”

The investigation revealed that the smugglers, whose ring was based in Medellin, not only used people and puppies to conceal their drugs, but also body creams, aerosol cans, and the linings of purses and luggage.

A tipster is said to have led authorities to the puppies.

It is not known how many puppies were actually used in the smuggling operation.

Three dogs were adopted by Colombian police. At least one of those puppies will be trained to sniff for drugs.

About 24 kilograms of heroin was seized in recent raids in Colombia which have resulted in more than 20 arrests and another ten in custody in New York. A total of at least 24 kilograms have been seized in these raids.