Tag Archive | hockey gear

RSPB makes a killing

The RSPB is making hundreds of thousands of pounds from the wind power industry – despite the turbines killing millions of birds every year.

Golden eagles, hen harriers, Corn Buntings and other rare and threatened species are especially at risk, conservationists say.

Yet in its latest  ‘partnership deal ‘, the bird charity receives 60 for every member who signs up to a dual-fuel account with windfarm developer Ecotricity.

It also receives 40 each time  a customer opens an account  with Triodos Bank, which finances renewable industry projects including wind turbines.

In a previous partnership with Southern & Scottish Electricity (SSE), which invests in wind and other renewable energy, the RSPB admits to having made 1 million over ten years.

The charity claims that windfarms play an important role in the battle against climate change, which  ‘poses the single greatest long-term threat to birds and other wildlife ‘, and that wind turbines caused only  ‘significant detrimental effects ‘ when poorly sited.

But critics argue there is no such thing as a well-sited windfarm and that the charity has been taken over by green zealots.

Conservationist Mark Duchamp, whose international charity Save  The Eagles monitors bird deaths caused by wind farms, said:  ‘The fact that such an organisation [the RSPB] is not taking this problem seriously is scandalous.’

‘They are supposed to  protect birds. Instead they are advocating on behalf of an industry which kills birds. What could be more wrong and absurd than that? ‘

Dr John Etherington, former reader in ecology at the University of Wales and author of The Wind Farm Scam, said:  ‘It seems to me that for some time now a green faction has penetrated a whole range of bodies and that the RSPB is one of them.’

Some members have complained that the RSPB isn ‘t nearly as active  as it ought to be in fighting turbine applications – even in sites of ornithological value.

‘Instead of giving the turbine people hell, they usually end up giving them the green light, ‘ said Peter Shrubb, an RSPB member of  30 years, who is particularly appalled by the organisation ‘s plans to erect a 330ft turbine at its own headquarters in Sandy, Bedfordshire.

As an example of the danger, two hen harriers were killed by turbine blades in April last year at the Griffin windfarm at Aberfeldy in Scotland, run by the RSPB ‘s former partner SSE.

The charity waited eight months to announce the news but made no criticism of its former partner. Instead it said:  ‘It is important to remember that climate change still poses one of the biggest threats to birds and other wildlife. ‘

BUT according to research  by the ornithological society SEO/Birdlife, each wind  turbine kills between 110 and 330 birds a year. This means that worldwide, wind turbines kill at least 22 million birds  a year.

The RSPB has disputed these figures, insisting: ‘Our own research suggests that a well-located wind farm is unlikely to be causing birds any harm.’

A spokesman for Ecotricity said that at one of its test sites near the Bristol Channel, the turbines had killed no more than four birds in five years. Conservationists claim the wind industry has a vested interest in  covering up the true extent of bird deaths.

Wildlife biologist Jim Wiegand recently wrote that the industry has known since the early Eighties that  ‘propeller-style turbines ‘ could never be safe for birds of prey.

Mr Wiegand added:  ‘With exposed blade tips spinning in open space  at up to 200mph, it was impossible. Wind developers also knew they would have a public-relations nightmare if people ever learned how many eagles are actually being cut in half.

‘To hide this awful truth, strict windfarm  operating guidelines were established – including high security, gag orders in leases and other agreements, and the prevention of accurate, meaningful mortality studies. ‘


Retiring from a ‘dying breed’ of costumer designers

When Christine Pawlicki was three, she sewed her finger on her mother’s sewing machine instead of her dolls’ clothes. Her mother pulled out the needle and put a Band-Aid on the wound and young Christine went straight back to sewing.

At least, that’s how her mother tells it. Pawlicki, now 49, doesn’t remember the incident. But given subsequent events, it could well have happened.

Pawlicki is opening her new shop, Christine’s Place, on Saturday, February 2, with a big sale of materials and clothing as well as costumes she has made for Canberra theatre shows, including kimonos from The Mikado and Queen Victoria’s dresses from The Department of Heaven.

Pawlicki sees herself as one of a dying breed of old-school, versatile costume and clothing makers who made garments to last. For many years she worked out of the garage at her home but now her husband has his “man-cave” back, she says.

“Between the musical theatre I love to sew for, my gorgeous bridal and formal gowns, the dancing girls and all the costumes I make I needed to make the decision to move out.” And she wants to clear some space for her new venture.

Pawlicki was born in Corowa but has lived most of her life in Canberra. Her mother, a tailor, taught her about making clothes. She remembers when she was six that she was sewing patches on her two-and-a-half-year-old sister’s skirt – while her sister was wearing it.

“I kept stabbing her, several times. She was wiggling – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.” Her first professional job came when she was 15: she made a formal dress for a friend and made $40.

Pawlicki received further instruction from a textiles teacher at school whom she didn’t like – the woman’s nickname was Steel Wool, on account of her hair – but says she learned a lot. “She taught me the most fantastic things I still use today: she was such a perfectionist.”

When she left school, Pawlicki worked in a series of jobs, each of which taught her something that would come in handy. From a florist, she learned about colour coordination and how to place things; from a dry cleaner she learned about speed.

“You had to move. I could put a zipper into a pair of jeans in 15 minutes: I still can.” And from a curtain shop she learned measuring and cutting skills and the importance of precision.

Working at a Singer Sewing Centre and a fabric shop also added to her body of knowledge. She married her husband, Alex, in 1985 and had two children, Kirsten in 1989 and Christian in 1991.

When her daughter was five and studying at Legs Dance Studio she started designing costumes for the children but eventually, she says, she got “sick of the mums” and went to work at Aldi for a few years. But the September 11, 2001 attacks made her realise she didn’t want to do that for the rest of her life and she went back into clothes-making – wedding dresses, outfits for formals, and much more besides.

The costume budget for a show is usually between $1000 and $2000 but sometimes she will supplement it if she wants to make something special. Some companies have kept the costumes; other times she will keep them and rent them out herself. She makes sure they can easily be taken in and out to fit different bodies.

Among her many other projects have been designing outfits for Canberra Pops concerts, ensuring conductor Ian McLean and guest artists such as Jon English, Rob Guest and Queen Van De Zandt (“my favourite!”) looked good and working backstage at the Australia Day concerts.

“Making sure all the acts are dressed and looking fabulous is such a highlight of my year.”

Harking back to her childhood, Pawlicki says she recently managed to “sew” herself again recently, this time with an industrial sewing machine. “I pulled it out with a pair of pliers myself and stuck my finger in a bottle of Dettol … it hurt like hell,” she says.

Ford ‘Escapes’ Compact-SUV Boredom

The old Ford Escape was a likable-enough little brute, if a bit of a tin can. In the clunker buy-back program, during the desperate days of the financial crash, that Escape was one of the most popular vehicles that people traded up to, particularly in the light truck category. However, with this fresh, new version, Ford has entered an entirely different dimension of compact SUV.

The 2013 Escape is a vehicle that we actually want, not one we feel we should make do with. It might even seduce some happy RAV4, CR-V and Tiguan owners.

It’s surprisingly sophisticated. The styling, especially its long nose and overbite face, has a touch of upper-class Brit to it, just like today’s Explorer, Focus and Fusion. And who doesn’t like how Jags, Range Rovers and Astons look? On the inside, though, it’s pure American Moderne: all synthetic materials, save for leather seat covers, presented well and apparently put together well, and comfortable and functional. The cabin and cargo area are larger than in the old Escape and there’s no more metallic echo. This is a nice place to inhabit.

I have “issues” with the optional InSync voice-command system, which doesn’t seem to hear me, but I’m content with the various buttons and knobs instead. I did learn to use MyFord Touch, mostly to control the stereo and satnav; I don’t care to get text messages in my car. And the attractive layout, colors and typeface on the computer screen impress me.

Then there’s the available hands-free liftgate: Stick a foot under the back bumper and, if the electronic key fob is in your pocket, presto! A genie unlocks and opens the hatch so we can dump a double armload of groceries or hockey gear into the cargo bay. The same process closes the hatch. It’s clever and convenient, although a few times I had to wave my leg around like a tango dancer.

Ford will also equip the Escape with active park-assist, which cancels out our parallel-parking phobias, and my favorite safety features, blind-spot and cross-traffic monitoring. These things all work well, at least in decent weather.

Such features put the Escape out front, tech-wise, but if you check all these boxes on the order form, prepare for the same sort of learning curve demanded by a new smartphone.

Happily, the 2013 Escape’s over-the-road demeanor requires no extra study. Bearing in mind that it is a compact crossover “truck” and not a sports sedan, the Escape is satisfying to drive. The structure is stiff and feels gratifyingly solid, and little wind or tire noise gets inside.

This is a top-line, $36,000 “Titanium” 4WD model, so it has Ford’s 4-cylinder 2-liter Ecoboost engine, good for 240 horses and even more torque. This translates to about 25 miles per gallon overall and a tow rating up to 3,500 pounds, as well as decent acceleration and quiet highway cruising. For better mileage but less power, a cheaper 1.6-liter Ecoboost engine is available. A third engine option is a non-turbocharged 2.5-liter four rated at 168 horsepower. All come with the same 6-speed automatic transmission and a choice of front-wheel or “intelligent” all-wheel drive, which can send up to 100 percent of the power to either axle, as determined by slip sensors.

There’s no hybrid Escape, which makes us wonder if a small, high-efficiency diesel might be in the works. (35 MPG!) On the subject of being green, Ford says the entire vehicle is 85 percent recyclable.

Never mind what we were told in the election campaign: It wasn’t union contracts that sank Detroit, it was that Detroit was making crap cars and bad decisions. Their labor obligations just ran Ford, Chrysler and GM out of money sooner, which (among other things) forced them to sit up and start building cars we really want to own. Such as this Escape.