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“Don’t marry him”: Bride-to-be shares wild altercation with her future in-laws over her wedding dress

<p dir="ltr">A woman has been told to “run” from her fiancé after sharing a wild conversation she had with her future in-laws about her wedding dress. </p> <p dir="ltr">The bride-to-be shared that ever since she was a child, she wanted to wear her mother’s wedding dress on her own big day. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, the woman was then confronted by her soon-to-be in-laws, with drama ensuing over her wedding dress.</p> <p dir="ltr">Taking to Reddit’s “Am I The A**hole?” page, the woman explained, "My mother's wedding dress has been passed down for generations and I remember being a little girl dreaming of walking down the aisle in it."</p> <p dir="ltr">Despite her wishes to wear the family heirloom on her big day, she said things went south at a dinner at her sister-in-law’s (SIL) house when she  "tapped her spoon against the glass and said that she had to make a toast."</p> <p dir="ltr">"She then said she would be right back before going into another room and returning with a large plastic bag," the bride continues.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Everyone seemed to be excited but I just felt confused."</p> <p dir="ltr">As she "awkwardly smiled", her SIL opened the bag to reveal her wedding dress from her wedding two years earlier as her in-laws began clapping, as her future sister-in-law announced she wanted the bride to wear her dress at her upcoming nuptials.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I tried to smile but I guess I didn't do a good job of hiding my disappointment and everyone began asking me what was wrong," the bride-to-be continues, adding that she tried to explain that she wanted to wear her mother's wedding dress.</p> <p dir="ltr">At this point, her SIL began to cry and her in-laws began berating her, causing the bride to burst into tears and run outside.</p> <p dir="ltr">"My fiancé didn't even come after me and after crying my eyes out on the steps for what felt like hours, he finally came outside and yelled at me to get into the car," she says.</p> <p dir="ltr">Confused, she got into the car only for her fiancé to berate her for making "such a big scene" leaving him feeling "embarrassed in front of his family."</p> <p dir="ltr">"He sounds so mad and he even said he couldn't believe he chose to marry such a 'bitchy c--t' (his exact words)."</p> <p dir="ltr">The woman tried to explain how important it was to her to wear her mother's dress and that she had already promised her mother she would be wearing it on her big day.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I felt like my fiancé's family planned this and put me on the spot thinking I wouldn't stand up for myself and just agree to wear SIL's dress," she continues.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I don't think I did anything wrong but a part of me thinks I should have just gone along with it and then told SIL in private that I wouldn't be wearing the dress."</p> <p dir="ltr">Hundreds of people were quick to comment on her post, suggesting that she “run” not only from her in-laws, but from her partner as well. </p> <p dir="ltr">"Ma'am you need to leave that whole family behind including your fiancé," one said. "You just had a peek into your future if you carry on with this relationship."</p> <p dir="ltr">"Don't you dare marry that man!!!" another said.</p> <p dir="ltr">"The problem doesn't exist as the wedding shouldn't be happening anymore," another added.</p> <p dir="ltr">One Redditor suggested she "be thankful that he is showing you who he really is before you marry him."</p> <p dir="ltr">"You have just had a glimpse of what your future is going to look like if you go through with your wedding."</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p> </p>

Family & Pets

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Sombre Aussie site tops global list of most unusual abandoned places

<p>Each year, thousands of people travel to famous abandoned buildings and hotspots to explore what were once important landmarks. </p> <p>Some deserted sites are more popular than others, as these ten sites received tens of thousands of visitors each year. </p> <p><strong>Buzludzha, Bulgaria</strong></p> <p>The Buzludzha Monument in central Bulgaria has been dubbed the tenth most famous abandoned place in the world, each year welcoming over 18,000 people. </p> <p>The site was constructed in 1981 and used by the Bulgarian communist government, and was in use until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989.</p> <p><strong>Ohio State Reformatory, USA</strong></p> <p>After first opening in 1898, the goal of the Ohio State Reformatory was to truly "reform" and rehabilitate its inmates.</p> <p>The facility was closed in 1990, and each year attracts more than 21,000 visitors.</p> <p><strong>Gereja Ayam, Indonesia</strong></p> <p>The uniquely shaped house of prayer in Central Java continues to be a popular tourist attraction in Indonesia, welcoming more than 50,000 travellers each year. </p> <p>Construction on the church was never completed after work was halted in 2000.</p> <p><strong>Lago di Resia Bell Tower, Italy</strong></p> <p>The 14-century sunken bell tower can be found near the border of Switzerland, emerging from the water from a sunken village where travellers claim they can hear bells tolling, even though there are no bells in the tower. </p> <p>The lonely (and probably haunted) tower receives more than 54,000 tourists each year. </p> <p><strong>Canfranc, Spain</strong></p> <p>The abandoned railway station is located in the Spanish municipality of Canfranc, close to the French border and once was a major hub for cross-border railway traffic.</p> <p>It first opened in 1928, but closed its doors by 1970 before it was reimagined as a hotel.  </p> <p><strong>Beelitz Military Hospital, Germany</strong></p> <p>The large hospital complex was first built in 1898 as a sanatorium, but was transformed into a hospital at the beginning of WWI and has been abandoned since 1990. </p> <p>It's understood Hitler was treated here after being wounded in the Battle of Somme, which could be the reason more than 64,000 travellers flock there each year. </p> <p><strong>Eastern State Penitentiary, USA</strong></p> <p>The prison in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is described as one of the country's most historic prisons and has housed some famous prisoners such as Al Capone.</p> <p>The prison was closed in 1971 and is tagged on social media by more than 79,000 every year. </p> <p><strong>Croix-Rouge, Paris</strong></p> <p>Also known as the Red Cross, this Paris train station has been abandoned since 1939 after France entered WWII.</p> <p>The station was only functional for 16 years, and welcomes more than 95,000 curious travellers each year. </p> <p><strong>Teufelsberg, Germany</strong></p> <p>Teufelsberg was one of the largest listening towers in the world during the Cold war.</p> <p>The site was closed in 1972, but still receives around 128,000 every year. </p> <p><strong>Port Arthur, Australia</strong></p> <p>More than a quarter of a million visitors travel to Port Arthur in Tasmania each year.</p> <p>The site itself was first opened as a timber station in 1830 and is known as a symbol of the country's convict past.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

International Travel

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What the fox! Driver finds wild animal trapped in his car

<p>A motorist has shared the startling moment a fox got trapped in the front grill of his car, after he accidentally hit the wild animal while travelling at 80km/h. </p> <p>While driving down a country road in South Australia on Saturday night, the man behind the wheel said he was shocked when he felt something slam into the car. </p> <p>When he later checked the vehicle, he was astonished to find the angry fox trying to break free from behind the front grill of the car. </p> <p>“Y’all thought you had a bad day,” he can be heard saying while filming the animal furiously biting the front grill in an attempt to escape.</p> <p>In a series of videos posted to TikTok, the man documented the fox's attempts at escape, before informing his followers that he had enlisted the help of a local vet to help free the animal. </p> <p>“Took him to the vet, they sedated him and we got him out safely, the poor guy,” he said, adding he was glad — and impressed — the fox was alive after such a high-speed impact.</p> <p>Throughout his videos, many took to the comments to offer their advice to free the fox, as one person suggested "popping the lid", with the driver explaining that he did but “couldn’t even see him through the bonnet”.</p> <p>The saga has been viewed more than 400,000 times in the past 24 hours, with numerous people saying they were stunned the fox wasn’t seriously injured. “How does this even happen?” one person wondered.</p> <p>“What in the fox is going on here!” another joked, while others pondered how the man would explain the incident to his insurance company.</p> <p>“Insurance would never believe you if you didn’t have that video,” someone else added.</p> <p><em>Image credits: TikTok</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Why do we love to see unlikely animal friendships? A psychology expert explains

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/shane-rogers-575838">Shane Rogers</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p>The internet is awash with stories and videos of unlikely animal friendships, often with many millions of views. This content typically shows animals from different species showing affection to one another, signifying a bond or even a “friendship”.</p> <p>These relationships have been captured in people’s homes, such as with <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-10/meet-unlikely-friends-peggy-the-dog-and-molly-the-magpie/100447022">Molly the magpie and Peggy the dog</a>, in zoos, <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-04/bear-lion-and-tiger-make-an-affectionate,-gentle-family/7222462">such as with</a> Baloo the bear, Leo the lion and Shere Khan the tiger, and even <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BvB0182xag&amp;t=2300s">in the wild</a>, such as one case of <a href="https://www.huffpost.com/entry/fox-cat-friendship_n_4268629">a fox and cat living together</a> in Turkey.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fdxU6CpvUgg?wmode=transparent&amp;start=19" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>A plethora of research on <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-66407-w.pdf">primates</a>, <a href="https://blog.mybirdbuddy.com/post/can-birds-form-friendships">birds</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-social-lives-of-kangaroos-are-more-complex-than-we-thought-213770">kangaroos</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/male-dolphins-use-their-individual-names-to-build-a-complex-social-network-97780">dolphins</a>, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/8/11/191">horses</a>, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/12/1/126">cats</a> and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-05669-y">dogs</a> has shown many non-human animals can develop deep social bonds with their own kind.</p> <p>And while inter-species bonding hasn’t been studied to the same extent, videos like those mentioned above show animals from different species displaying the same affection to each other as they would to their own, such as through cuddling, playing and grooming.</p> <p>Why do we, as people, find these stories so enjoyable? Answering this question requires us to consider some of the nicer aspects of our own nature.</p> <h2>When animals reflect us</h2> <p>Witnessing animals get along well together isn’t just cute, it can also make us feel like we have things in common with other species, and feel more connected with the other life on the planet. <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/psychology/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00976/full">Decades of research</a> reveals how feeling connected to nature fosters happiness in humans.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/PrJi-P61aLY?wmode=transparent&amp;start=7" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>While the mechanisms behind inter-species bonding are not fully understood, <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnbeh.2022.994504/full">one 2022 research review</a> suggests the mechanisms that operate in other animals’ brains during social interactions with their own are similar to those that operate in human brains.</p> <p>The researchers suggest that, due to the evolution of common brain mechanisms, animals engaged in social interaction may experience similar emotions to humans who engage with their own friends or loved ones.</p> <p>So while it’s very hard to know what this subjective social experience is like for other animals – after all, they can’t report it on a questionnaire – there’s no reason to think it isn’t similar to our own.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZVMsdz7aZpk?wmode=transparent&amp;start=102" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>Humans like co-operation and pleasant surprises</h2> <p>Humans have <a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2022.0128">evolved to enjoy co-operation</a>, which might also help explain why we enjoy seeing co-operation between different animal species. <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/listen/programs/lifematters/competition-versus-cooperation:-which-human-instinct-is-stronge/10291360">Some scholars</a> suggest the human instinct for co-operation is even stronger than our instinct for competition.</p> <p>Another reason we may be drawn to unlikely animal friendships is that they are, in fact, so unlikely. These interactions are surprising, and research shows humans <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/neuroscientists-learn-why/">enjoy being surprised</a>.</p> <p>Our brain has <a href="https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/239331/study-reveals-human-brains-have-evolved/">evolved to be incredibly efficient</a> at categorising, solving problems and learning. Part of the reason we’re so efficient is because we are motivated to seek new knowledge and question what we think we know. In other words, we’re motivated to be <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4635443/">curious</a>.</p> <p>Inter-species friendships are indeed a very curious thing. They contradict the more common assumption and observation that different species stick with their own kind. We might think “cats eat birds, so they must not like each other”. So when we see <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGsN7jzp5DE">a cat and a bird</a> getting along like old pals, this challenges our concept of how the natural world works.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bGsN7jzp5DE?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Neuroscientists have documented that, when surprised, humans experience a release of brain chemicals responsible for making us <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/unexpected-brain-chemistry-is-behind-the-element-of-surprise/">more alert</a> and <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0896627320308539">sensitive to reward</a>. It is this neurochemical reaction that produces the “pleasantness” in the feeling of being pleasantly surprised.</p> <h2>A desire for peace and harmony</h2> <p>Perhaps another explanation for why humans are so intrigued by inter-species friendships is because they feed a human desire for peace and harmony.</p> <p>These connections may be symbolic of what many people yearn for: a world where differences can be put aside in favour of a peaceful co-existence. These friendships might even prompt us to imagine, consciously or subconsciously, a future in which we become more enlightened as a species.</p> <p>One could argue a key reason behind the success of the TV series <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANnFNfVuZeM">Star Trek</a> is its <a href="https://jacobin.com/2023/08/star-trek-solidarity-utopianism-technology-postcapitalism">optimistic take on the future of humanity</a>. Inter-species co-operation is a central theme of the show.</p> <p>Inter-species friendships may serve as a concrete example of breaking free of the “natural” way of being for a more peaceful way of being. And while it might only be a dream, it’s nice to watch cute animal videos that help us feel like this dream might be possible.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/230548/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_BvB0182xag?wmode=transparent&amp;start=1880" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/shane-rogers-575838">Shane Rogers</a>, Lecturer in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-do-we-love-to-see-unlikely-animal-friendships-a-psychology-expert-explains-230548">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Family & Pets

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“Australia is a sadder place": Shock as John Blackman's death confirmed

<p>Australian radio legend and star of <em>Hey Hey it's Saturday</em> John Blackman has passed away at the age of 76. </p> <p>Entertainment reporter Peter Ford broke the sad news on <em>The Morning Show</em> on Wednesday morning, saying, “Australia is a sadder place with this news."</p> <p>"John was an incredible man. In the past years, he has put up a huge cancer fight,” Ford said.</p> <p>Blackman had been battling cancer for many years, undergoing numerous operations on his face and skull to remove cancerous tumours.</p> <p>John’s was first diagnosed with cancer in 2018 after visiting his doctor about a seemingly minor blemish on his chin, and he was shocked to learn he had an aggressive form of skin cancer in his mouth and jaw.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/C70CkAEORnX/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C70CkAEORnX/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Sunrise (@sunriseon7)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>In a 12-hour operation, John’s lower jaw and teeth were removed, and his jaw was replaced with a part of his thigh bone.</p> <p>“It’s like I ploughed into a tree and my life changed forever,” he told the <em>Herald Sun</em> at the time. </p> <p>Blackman became a household name after his time on <em>Hey Hey It's Saturday</em>, and was known and loved for voicing the cheeky stick puppet Dickie Knee. </p> <p>John is survived by his wife Cecile and their adult daughter. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook / Seven</em></p>

Caring

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"A bit weird": David Koch's new career move

<p>Former Sunrise co-host David Koch has revealed a new career move a year after resigning from the breakfast TV show. </p> <p>On Thursday, Koch was announced as the new chair of the South Australian Tourism Commission, the peak body promoting tourism to SA. </p> <p>Koch is replacing Andrew Bullock, who has been the chair of the commission since 2019. </p> <p>“A passionate South Australian and media professional, Kochie is a leading advocate for small business and a high-profile finance commentator,” the SATC said in a statement. </p> <p>Koch, who was born in Adelaide but has been living in Sydney, said he won't be moving back to SA for the role. </p> <p>Some South Australians questioned his high-profile appointment, as they believe that a local should've been chosen for the job. </p> <p>"It's a little bit weird that he doesn't live in SA - that he's not living here but being the head of it," one said.</p> <p>"It would be nice to have someone embedded in SA, living in SA, part of the community in SA as well," another added. </p> <p>However, Premier Peter Malinauskas has defended the decision,  citing Koch's national profile and financial expertise as a valuable aspect in advertising  smaller businesses in the tourism sector.</p> <p>"We as a state have punched above our weight in regards to tourism and hospitality but there is a lot more growth to be had," Malinauskas said.</p> <p>As the chair, Koch will work alongside the SATC board to  “set the strategic agenda for the commission”.</p> <p>He will hold the role for three years from July 2. </p> <p>“We do the best food and wine in the nation, and we have some of the nation’s most spectacular regions,”  he said after his new role was announced. </p> <p>“We also retain a reputation for delivering first class major events and festivals.</p> <p>“More recently, the perceptions of Adelaide and South Australia have shifted significantly on the east coast – and we have an opportunity to capitalise on this momentum to grow our tourism sector even further.”</p> <p><em style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #323338; font-family: Figtree, Roboto, 'Noto Sans Hebrew', 'Noto Kufi Arabic', 'Noto Sans JP', sans-serif; background-color: #ffffff; outline: none !important;">Image: Nine</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Common mistakes pet owners make

<p>While most pet owners have the best of intentions, sometimes not everyone is aware of the mistakes they are making or the things they could be doing better. Here’s a list of common mistakes pet owners make. How many are you guilty of?</p> <p><strong>Lack of exercise</strong><br />While each breed and species is different in reference to their specific exercise needs, one thing stays the same: every animal requires daily exercise. When working out what is the correct amount for your animal, you need to look at their age, species and breed.</p> <p>And before you go thinking of daily exercise at a chore, remember this: exercise should be fun! It can include play time, walks, jogs, runs, agility training and more. Always consult with your local vet if you want to know the specific exercise guidelines for your pet.</p> <p><strong>No behavioural training</strong><br />When bringing a new animal into your home and family, adequate training is so important. Does your animal know how to take commands? It’s important to be able to teach your pet things and that they respect you.</p> <p>Remember the saying: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Well, that’s right. Investing the time to go through behavioural training from the start will help save you time and frustration in the long run.</p> <p><strong>Your pet is bored often</strong><br />Just like humans, pets too get bored. Playing games with your furry friend – such as teaching them tricks or providing them with the toys and space to do interesting things – will do wonders in ensuring their mind is constantly developed.</p> <p>If your pet is stimulated, it should stop them from destroying the house, and your things, when you’re out.</p> <p><strong>Poorly looked after teeth</strong><br />A common mistake a lot of pet owners make, is not brushing often enough – or at all – their pet’s teeth. After all, dental hygiene is one of the most important health issues animals face. The good news is this is avoidable by regularly brushing your pet’s teeth and checking on their oral hygiene.</p> <p>Anything out of the ordinary may be an indication of infection, but when caught early, can be more easily treated. So ensure you book in regular visits at the vet to check your furry friend’s mouth too.</p> <p><strong>Not enough trips to the vet</strong><br />Just as it is important for humans to go to the dentist and doctor for check-ups and shots regularly, visiting the vet and keeping up with a vaccination schedule is equally as important.</p> <p>If not more so, as pets cannot tell you when something is wrong. Booking into to see the vet every so often will ensure your pet is healthy and blossoming for years to come. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

Family & Pets

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Molly the magpie carers rescue another native bird

<p>Molly the Magpie's carers have rescued another native bird. </p> <p>Juliette Wells and Reece Mortensen, who went viral for the interspecies friendship between their two staffies and a magpie named Molly, shared the update on Facebook. </p> <p>“Meet Charlie the vulnerable little kookaburra,” the family wrote on Tuesday.</p> <p>The Mortensen's explained that Charlie had been in their care since the new year period, after a neighbour discovered him unable to fly following wild weather. </p> <p>“He was found by neighbours huddling at the bottom of a tree, they watched for a day and he was all alone and too young to face the world with many dangers around including a stray cat ready for its next feed we were called over to check out the situation,” they wrote.</p> <p>“Reece was in training for his wildlife licence so with the direction and support of wildlife carers specialising in kookaburras we were able to bring this little kookaburra back to our place.”</p> <p>Unlike Molly who developed a special bond with the family's dogs, Charlie was rehabilitated outside, with his own kin watching over him. </p> <p>“We kept him outside as much as possible so the kookaburras knew exactly where he was and could come in and feed him which they did,” they explained.</p> <p>“At times we would count 14 kookaburras keeping an eye on this little one. He would try to fly and achieved short distances but needed practice with his landing.”</p> <p>The family shared the update after Charlie “found the confidence” to return to the wild.</p> <p>“It was such an exciting thing to witness and to be part of,” the family wrote.</p> <p>It has been a wild year for the Queensland family, after Molly was <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/family-pets/outcry-after-authorities-seize-internet-famous-magpie-from-queensland-family" target="_blank" rel="noopener">voluntarily surrendered </a>to the Queensland Department of Environment, Science and Innovation in March, when authorities found the couple were not permitted to care for native wildlife.</p> <p>Over a month later, the Department of Environment, Science and Innovation (DESI) announced that they would return Molly to the family with a few special conditions, including obtaining a license and meeting specific requirements to ensure her ongoing health and wellbeing.</p> <p>The reunion was definitely one to remember with followers and animal lovers across the country over-joyed at the <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/family-pets/first-pics-of-molly-the-magpie-reunion" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reunion</a>. </p> <p><em>Images: Facebook</em></p>

Family & Pets

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5 tips to keep your dog happy when indoors

<p>The cooler months are well and truly here and the dreary weather is enough to make anyone a little sad, including our furry friends. According to a study by veterinary charity People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, one in three dogs experience a downturn in mood during winter months. If the rain is preventing you getting out and about, here are five tips to keep your pooch happy and healthy when indoors.</p> <p><strong>1. Stair work/treadmill/indoor pool</strong></p> <p>Use what you have in your home. If you live in a multi-storey place, playing fetch up or down the stairs is a fun way for your pooch to get a workout. Alternatively, if you have a treadmill at home, use it to walk your dog on a rainy day. Swimming is also a great physical activity, particularly if dogs have joint problems.</p> <p><strong>2. Obedience training</strong></p> <p>Dust off the training books and work with your pooch to improve their obedience skills. It will keep your furry friend mentally active and dispel any boredom.</p> <p><strong>3. Hide and seek</strong></p> <p>Dogs need their senses stimulated – it’s why when they’re outside they will listen, sniff and dig out anything that’s out of the ordinary. Keep your furry friend entertained with a game of hide and seek. Place healthy treats around the house to get your pooch curious and exploring old surrounds.</p> <p><strong>4. Rotation diet</strong></p> <p>Rotating proteins (meats, fish, and poultry) and mixing in different forms of food (wet, dry and raw) will keep your dog interested in food and eating. Consult your vet about the type of diet your dog should be on for optimal health.</p> <p><strong>5. Play time</strong></p> <p>Interactive toys are a great way to pass time, stimulate and entertain your pooch inside. Puzzle toys, Kong balls with treats stuffed inside or just some one-on-one indoor play time will keep your four-legged friend happy.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Woman baffled by mother-in-law’s insane ask over baby name

<p dir="ltr">A woman has gone head-to-head with her mother-in-law over the name she has chosen for her unborn child. </p> <p dir="ltr">The pregnant woman took to Reddit to share her unusual predicament, explaining how her mother-in-law has demanded she change the name of her baby. </p> <p dir="ltr">The soon-to-be mum shared how she recently had dinner with her husband’s family, where she decided to reveal the baby’s gender and name. </p> <p dir="ltr">She had been keeping the information secret, but with only a few weeks of her pregnancy left, she decided to share the happy news that she was having a baby boy and had chosen the name Shawn for her son. </p> <p dir="ltr">But not everyone shared her happiness over the moniker, as her mother-in-law went pale with shock and demanded she choose a new name. </p> <p dir="ltr">“My in-laws got quiet for a moment before asking if there were other options we'd considered. Apparently, Shawn is the name of my 17-year-old sister-in-law Ashley's former bully who tormented her [for years],” the pregnant woman explained on Reddit.</p> <p dir="ltr">While she empathised with her in-laws, she didn’t want to change the name as it was the only one her and her husband agreed on for their son. </p> <p dir="ltr">She also explained that she hadn’t known about the family connection when they picked the name, and hadn’t picked it out of any malicious intent. </p> <p dir="ltr">“We took forever to pick a name,” she said. “Shawn is the only one we could agree on.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The dinner party soon ended after the argument began, but the mother-in-law didn’t back down, sending the expecting mum demanding messages.</p> <p dir="ltr">“She texted me and my husband again to ask us to find a new name for Ashley's sake.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“Would I be the a**hole for not wanting to change it? We were only able to agree on it a few weeks ago.”</p> <p dir="ltr"> Commenters were torn over the subject, with many rushing to the pregnant woman’s defence, saying she can pick whatever name she wants for her son. </p> <p dir="ltr">“My spouse and sibling have the same name. Somehow, you just compartmentalise it,” one shared.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I feel like if a new baby in my family shared a name with my bully I'd just adapt,” another wrote. “After all, Shawn is a VERY common name, so I can't freak out every time I hear it and survive in this world.”</p> <p dir="ltr">However, a select few sided with the mother-in-law, sharing how stunned they were that the couple couldn't find enough compassion to pick another name.</p> <p dir="ltr">One person said, “I understand the difficulty of finding a name that feels right, but for me, after learning this, Shawn would quickly become another name that didn't work. It's only been decided on it for a few weeks so I'd just go back to the drawing board.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Elephant tourism often involves cruelty – here are steps toward more humane, animal-friendly excursions

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michelle-szydlowski-1495781">Michelle Szydlowski</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/miami-university-1934">Miami University</a></em></p> <p>Suju Kali is a 50-year-old elephant in Nepal who has been carrying tourists for over 30 years. Like many elephants I encounter through my <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/10888705.2022.2028628">research</a>, Suju Kali exhibits anxiety and can be aggressive toward strangers. She suffers from emotional trauma as a result of prolonged, commercial human contact.</p> <p>Like Suju Kali, many animals are trapped within the tourism industry. Some venues have no oversight and little concern for animal or tourist safety. Between 120,000 and 340,000 animals are used globally in a variety of wildlife tourism attractions, including <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0138939">endangered species</a> like elephants. Over a quarter of the world’s <a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/7140/45818198">endangered elephants</a> reside in captivity with little oversight.</p> <p>Wildlife tourism – which involves viewing wildlife such as primates or birds in conservation areas, feeding or touching captive or “rehabilitated” wildlife in facilities, and bathing or riding animals like elephants – is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/14724049.2022.2156523">tricky business</a>. I know this because I am <a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=YbweA2MAAAAJ&amp;hl=en">a researcher studying human relationships with elephants</a> in both tourism and conservation settings within Southeast Asia.</p> <p>These types of experiences have long been an <a href="https://kathmandupost.com/money/2021/06/17/tourism-is-nepal-s-fourth-largest-industry-by-employment-study">extremely popular and profitable</a> part of the <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1002074">tourism market</a>. But now, many travel-related organizations are urging people not to participate in, or <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2018/04/27/animal-welfare-travelers-how-enjoy-wildlife-without-harming/544938002/">calling for an outright ban on, interactive wildlife experiences</a>.</p> <p>Tourism vendors have started marketing more “ethical options” for consumers. Some are attempting to truly improve the health and welfare of wildlife, and some are transitioning captive wildlife into touch-free, non-riding or lower-stress environments. In other places, organizations are attempting to <a href="https://www.fao.org/documents/card/es/c/b2c5dad0-b9b9-5a3d-a720-20bf3b9f0dc2/">implement standards of care</a> or create manuals that outline good practices for animal husbandry.</p> <p>This marketing, academics argue, is often simply “<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2017.11.007">greenwashing</a>,” <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13683500.2023.2280704">applying marketing labels to make consumers feel better</a> about their choices without making any real changes. Worse, research shows that some programs marketing themselves as ethical tourism may instead be widening economic gaps and harming both humans and other species that they are meant to protect.</p> <h2>No quick fix</h2> <p>For example, rather than tourist dollars trickling down to local struggling families as intended by local governments, many tourism venues are owned by nonresidents, <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.3126/japfcsc.v2i1.26746">meaning the profits do not stay in the area</a>. Likewise, only a small number of residents can afford to own tourism venues, and venues do not provide employment for locals from lower income groups.</p> <p>This economic gap is especially obvious in Nepalese elephant stables: Venue owners continue to make money off elephants, while elephant caregivers continue to work 17 hours a day for about US$21 a month; tourists are led to believe they are “<a href="https://www.cabidigitallibrary.org/doi/book/10.1079/9781800624498.0000">promoting sustainability</a>.”</p> <p>Yet, there are no easy answers, especially for elephants working in tourism. Moving them to sanctuaries is difficult because with no governmental or global welfare oversight, elephants may end up in worse conditions.</p> <p>Many kindhearted souls who want to “help” elephants know little about their biology and mental health needs, or what it takes to keep them healthy. Also, feeding large animals like Suju Kali is pricey, <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14010171">costing around $19,000 yearly</a>. So without profits from riding or other income, owners – or would-be rescuers – can’t maintain elephants. Releasing captive elephants to the jungle is not a choice – many have never learned to live in the wild, so they cannot survive on their own.</p> <h2>Hurting local people</h2> <p>Part of the problem lies with governments, as many have marketed tourism as a way to fund conservation projects. For example in Nepal, a percentage of ticket sales from elephant rides are given to community groups to use for forest preservation and support for local families.</p> <p>Increasing demand for <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Tourism-and-Animal-Ethics/Fennell/p/book/9781032431826">wildlife-based tourism</a> may increase traffic in the area and thus put pressure on local governments to further limit local people’s access to forest resources.</p> <p>This may also lead to <a href="https://www.worldanimalprotection.org/latest/news/un-world-tourism-organisation-urged-create-better-future-animals/">increased demands on local communities</a>, as was the case in Nepal. In the 1970s, the Nepalese government removed local people from their lands in what is now Chitwan National Park as part of increasing “conservation efforts” and changed the protected area’s boundaries. Indigenous “Tharu,” or people of the forest, were forced to abandon their villages and land. While some were offered access to “buffer zones” in the 1990s, many remain poor and landless today.</p> <p>In addition, more and more desirable land surrounding conservation areas in Nepal is being developed for tourist-based businesses such as hotels, restaurants and shops, <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.3126/japfcsc.v2i1.26746">pushing local poor people farther away</a> from central village areas and the associated tourism income.</p> <p>Some activists would like humans to simply release all wildlife back into the wild, but <a href="https://www.cabidigitallibrary.org/doi/book/10.1079/9781800624498.0000">there are multiple issues</a> with that. Elephant habitats throughout Southeast Asia have been transformed into croplands, cities or train tracks for human use. Other problems arise from the fact that tourism elephants have <a href="https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315457413">never learned</a> how to be elephants in their natural elements, as they were <a href="https://www.pugetsound.edu/sites/default/files/file/8342_Journal%20of%20Tourism%20%282009%29_0.pdf">separated from their herds</a> at an early age.</p> <p>So tourism may be vital to providing food, care and shelter to captive elephants for the rest of their lives and providing jobs for those who really need them. Because elephants can live beyond 60 years, this can be a large commitment.</p> <h2>How to be an ethical tourist</h2> <p>To protect elephants, tourists should check out reviews and photos from any venue they want to visit, and look for clues that animal welfare might be impacted, such as tourists allowed to feed, hold or ride captive wildlife animals. Look for healthy animals, which means doing research on what “healthy” animals of that species should look like.</p> <p>If a venue lists no-touch demonstrations – “unnatural” behaviors that don’t mimic what an elephant might do of their own accord, such as sitting on a ball or riding a bike, or other performances – remember that the behind-the-scenes training used to achieve these behaviors can be <a href="https://doi.org/10.21832/9781845415051-014">violent, traumatic or coercive</a>.</p> <p>Another way to help people and elephant is to to use small, local companies to book your adventures in your area of interest, rather than paying large, international tourism agencies. Look for locally owned hotels, and wait to book excursions until you arrive so you can use local service providers. Book homestay programs and attend cultural events led by community members; talk to tourists and locals you meet in the target town to get their opinions, and use local guides who provide wildlife viewing opportunities <a href="https://nepaldynamicecotours.com/">while maintaining distance from animals</a>.</p> <p>Or tourists can ask to visit <a href="https://www.americanhumane.org/press-release/global-humane-launches-humane-tourism-certification-program/">venues that are certified</a> by international humane animal organizations and that <a href="https://www.su4e.org/">do not allow contact</a> with wildlife. Or they can opt for guided hikes, canoe or kayak experiences, and other environmentally friendly options.</p> <p>While these suggestions will not guarantee that your excursion is animal-friendly, they will help decrease your impact on wildlife, support local families and encourage venues to stop using elephants as entertainment. Those are good first steps.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/219792/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michelle-szydlowski-1495781">Michelle Szydlowski</a>, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Project Dragonfly, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/miami-university-1934">Miami University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/elephant-tourism-often-involves-cruelty-here-are-steps-toward-more-humane-animal-friendly-excursions-219792">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Travel Tips

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"There's no place like home": Marcia Hines and her amazing cat share sweet message

<p>Australian music icon and <em>Australian Idol</em> judge Marcia Hines recently took to social media to express her heartfelt gratitude to those who supported her during a <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/marcia-hines-rushed-to-hospital" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recent medical incident</a>. The beloved singer and performer shared a touching message on Instagram, reflecting on the challenges she faced and the overwhelming support she received from healthcare professionals, family, friends and fans – but mostly from her amazing-looking cat, Sistah!</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/C5AeYisL9Pu/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C5AeYisL9Pu/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Marcia Hines (@themarciahines)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The incident unfolded backstage at Sydney’s Coliseum Theatre just before last Sunday night’s <em>Australian Idol</em> finale. Hines, known for her vibrant presence and insightful critiques on the talent show, collapsed, prompting concerns among the show's crew and audience. As a result, she had to miss the episode, with fellow musician Guy Sebastian stepping in as a guest judge.</p> <p>Following her collapse, Hines was swiftly taken to the hospital, where she received treatment for head injuries, including stitches. Despite the setback, she was able to make a remarkable recovery <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/entertainment/tv/marcia-hines-returns-as-australian-idol-fans-cry-foul-over-upset-win" target="_blank" rel="noopener">in time to return</a> for the Grand Finale show on Monday night.</p> <p>In her Instagram post, Hines expressed profound gratitude for the exceptional care she received during her hospital stay, particularly praising Brad Ceely and the entire team at Blacktown Hospital.</p> <p>"There’s no place like home….." Hines wrote. "Especially when Sistah is here to greet me 🐾 What an action-packed week ❤️ I’ve experienced so much care and love, and none moreso than the exceptional treatment that Brad Ceely and his entire team at Blacktown Hospital gave me during my stay with them.</p> <p>"We are so fortunate to live in a country with such incredible healthcare, and the amazing facilities we have in our Western Sydney suburbs - wow! I’m so grateful to all of the hospital staff - from the tireless nurses to the wonderful administration staff. A special thanks to all of the staff at Mount Druitt Emergency Department, all of the Ambulance teams who got me safely to-and-from hospitals this weekend, and of course Dr Kit Rowe for stitching me up so nicely after my fall. Ouch lol 🤕Thank you for being you and keeping us all safe 🫶🏾</p> <p>"Thank you also to Kyle, Amy and all the team at @australianidol for your love, and also to my @greaseoztour family who I’ll be seeing soon. Thank you also to my family and friends - you’re always there when I need you most 💝"</p> <p>The response to Hines' message was overwhelmingly positive, with fans and well-wishers flooding the comments section with messages of support, encouragement and excitement for her upcoming projects. Many expressed relief at her recovery and eagerly anticipated her return to the stage, particularly in her role in <em>Grease the Musical</em>. </p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Caring

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10 million animals die on our roads each year. Here’s what works (and what doesn’t) to cut the toll

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/graeme-coulson-1378778">Graeme Coulson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helena-bender-98800">Helena Bender</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>There’s almost no warning. A dark shape appears on the side of the road, then you feel a jolt as something goes under the car. Or worse, the shape rears up, hits the front of your vehicle, then slams into the windscreen. You have just experienced a wildlife-vehicle collision.</p> <p>This gruesome scene plays out <a href="https://www.bbcearth.com/news/australias-road-kill-map">every night across Australia</a>. When these collisions happen, many animals become instant roadkill. An <a href="https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstream/handle/2123/23121/Thesis%20updated%20for%20library%20submission.pdf?sequence=1">estimated 10 million</a> native mammals, reptiles, birds and other species are killed each year.</p> <p>Others are injured and die away from the road. Some survive with <a href="https://theconversation.com/10-million-animals-are-hit-on-our-roads-each-year-heres-how-you-can-help-them-and-steer-clear-of-them-these-holidays-149733">terrible injuries and have to be euthanised</a>. The lucky ones might <a href="https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/who-should-i-contact-about-injured-wildlife/">be rescued</a> by groups such as <a href="https://wildliferescue.net.au/">Wildlife Rescue</a>, <a href="https://www.wildlifevictoria.org.au/">Wildlife Victoria</a> and <a href="https://www.wires.org.au/">WIRES</a>.</p> <p>Wildlife-vehicle collisions also increase the risk to whole populations of some threatened species, such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1071/WR17143">Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo</a> on the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland.</p> <p>People are affected, too. Human <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/1742-6723.13361">deaths and injuries</a> from these collisions are rising, with motorcyclists at greatest risk. Vehicle repairs are <a href="https://www.mynrma.com.au/-/media/wildlife-road-safety-report--final.pdf">inconvenient and costly</a>. Added to this is the distress for people when dealing with a dead or dying animal on the roadside.</p> <p>How can we reduce the wildlife toll on our roads? Many measures have been tried and proven largely ineffective. However, other evidence-based approaches can help avoid collisions.</p> <h2>Evidence for what works is limited</h2> <p>Many communities are worried about the growing impacts of wildlife-vehicle collisions and are desperate for solutions. Recent reports from <a href="https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1822182/FULLTEXT01.pdf">Europe</a> and <a href="https://westerntransportationinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/4w7576_Huijser_etal_WVC_ConnectivityLiteratureReview_PooledFundStudyFinalReport_2021.pdf">North America</a> review the many methods to reduce such collisions.</p> <p>Do these findings apply to Australia’s unique fauna? Unfortunately, we don’t have a detailed analysis of options for our wildlife, but here’s what we know now.</p> <p>Well-designed fences keep wildlife off our highways but also fragment the landscape. Happily, animals will use crossing structures – overpasses and <a href="https://theconversation.com/good-news-highway-underpasses-for-wildlife-actually-work-187434">underpasses</a> – to get to food and mates on the other side of the road. Fences and crossings do work, but are regarded as too costly over Australia’s vast road network.</p> <p>As for standard wildlife warning signs, drivers <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4494358/">ignore most of them</a> after a while, making them ineffective. Signs with graphic images and variable messages get <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390/ani3041142">more attention</a>, but we need road trials to assess their effect on drivers and collision rates.</p> <h2>Whistling in the dark</h2> <p>Some drivers install cheap, wind-driven, high-pitched wildlife whistles on their vehicles. Tests in the United States 20 years ago found humans and deer <a href="https://doi.org/10.1121/1.1582071">could not hear any whistling sound</a> above the road noise of the test vehicle. Yet these devices are still sold in Australia as kangaroo deterrents.</p> <p>The Shu-Roo, an Australian invention, is an active wildlife whistle. It is fitted to the bumper bar, producing a high-pitched electronic sound, which is claimed to scare wildlife away from the road. Sadly, <a href="https://rest.neptune-prod.its.unimelb.edu.au/server/api/core/bitstreams/3c3154e0-2f48-5b73-a6cd-a7423c2a75ee/content">our tests</a> show the Shu-Roo signal can’t be heard above road noise 50 metres away and has no effect on captive kangaroo behaviour.</p> <p>We also recruited fleets of trucks, buses, vans, utes and cars to field test the Shu-Roo. Nearly 100 vehicles covered more than 4 million kilometres across Australia over 15,500 days. The drivers reported just over one wildlife-vehicle collision per 100,000km travelled, but <a href="https://doi.org/10.7882/AZ.2021.042">there was no difference in the rate</a> for vehicles fitted with a Shu-Roo versus those without one.</p> <p>The virtual fence is the latest attempt to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions. It uses a line of posts spaced along the roadside, each with a unit producing loud sounds and flashing lights aimed away from the road. Vehicle headlights activate the units, which are claimed to alert animals and reduce the risk of collision.</p> <p>Early results from Tasmania were encouraging. A 50% drop in possum and wallaby deaths was reported, but <a href="https://doi.org/10.1071/AM19009">this trial had many design flaws</a>. Recent trials in <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/9/10/752">Tasmania</a>, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/12/10/1323">New South Wales</a> and <a href="https://www.redland.qld.gov.au/downloads/download/292/virtual_fence_to_reduce_vehicle_collisions_with_wallabies_on_heinemann_rd_-_final_report_2020">Queensland</a> show no effect of virtual fencing on collisions with possums, wallabies or wombats.</p> <p>Our concern is that this system is being <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-02/wildlife-fence-trial-underway-in-queensland-and-phillip-island/12268110">rolled out</a> in <a href="https://www.townsville.qld.gov.au/about-council/news-and-publications/media-releases/2023/june/councils-innovative-trial-helping-keep-local-wildlife-safe">many</a> <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-10-26/nsw-south-coast-council-first-virtual-fence-to-protect-wildlife/101571600">parts</a> of <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/the-stealth-tech-aiming-to-stop-roos-from-becoming-roadkill-20231222-p5etda.html">Australia</a>. It gives the impression of action to reduce collisions with wildlife, but without an evidence base, solid study design or adequate monitoring.</p> <h2>A very messy problem</h2> <p>The problem has many dimensions. We need to consider all of them to achieve safe travel for people and animals on our roads.</p> <p>At a landscape level, collision hotspots occur where wildlife frequently cross roads, which can help us predict the collision risk for species such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/aec.13465">koalas</a>. But the risk differs between species. For example, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2021.e01530">on Phillip Island</a> most wallaby collisions happen on rural roads, while most involving possums and birds are in urban streets.</p> <p>Traffic volume and speed are key factors for many species, including <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.2306">kangaroos</a>.</p> <p>Driver training and experience are also important. In the Royal National Park in New South Wales, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/6/6/40">half the drivers surveyed</a> had struck animals, including wallabies and deer. Yet most still <a href="https://theconversation.com/10-million-animals-are-hit-on-our-roads-each-year-heres-how-you-can-help-them-and-steer-clear-of-them-these-holidays-149733">weren’t keen</a> to slow down or avoid driving at dawn and dusk.</p> <p>Road design has a major influence on wildlife-vehicle collions too, but the planning process too often <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fenvs.2022.959918">neglects wildlife studies</a>.</p> <p>Smarter cars are <a href="https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1822182/FULLTEXT01.pdf">being developed</a>. One day these will use AI to spot animal hazards, apply automatic emergency braking and alert other drivers of real-time risk.</p> <p>To explore potential technological solutions, Transport for NSW is running a <a href="https://www.eianz.org/events/event/symposium-using-technology-to-reduce-wildlife-vehicle-collisions">symposium</a> at the University of Technology Sydney on May 21. The symposium will cover wildlife ecology and the evidence base for options to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions in Australia.</p> <hr /> <p><em>If you see an injured animal on the road, call <a href="https://www.wildliferescue.net.au/">Wildlife Rescue Australia</a> on 1300 596 457. for specific state and territory numbers, go to the <a href="https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/who-should-i-contact-about-injured-wildlife/">RSPCA injured wildlife site</a>.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/222367/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/graeme-coulson-1378778"><em>Graeme Coulson</em></a><em>, Honorary Principal Fellow, School of BioSciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helena-bender-98800">Helena Bender</a>, Senior Lecturer, Environmental Social Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/10-million-animals-die-on-our-roads-each-year-heres-what-works-and-what-doesnt-to-cut-the-toll-222367">original article</a>.</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Why we need to stop being so judgemental – and the 4 steps to do it

<p>As a society, we've become increasingly judgmental. We tend to judge not only others but ourselves as well. From a person's physical appearance to their actions, we criticise and judge everything. Everyone is too fat, too thin, too old, or too young, creating an environment where nothing seems to be good enough. This constant pattern of judgment is now harming our mental, emotional, and physical well-being.</p> <p>When we judge, we compare ourselves to others, leaving us emotionally vulnerable. Through this judgement, we seek to establish a sense of security and control over our lives and surroundings, often without even realising it. However, by increasing our emotional resilience and sense of control, we become consciously aware of this behaviour and can take steps to change it. So, is it possible to become less judgemental? </p> <p>As an educator and researcher, I developed an Emotional Resilience language (ER). It introduces simple changes that can reduce judgment, foster empathy, compassion, and personal responsibility, and bolster emotional intelligence and resilience when integrated into everyday life. Using a driving metaphor, ER simplifies the intricate world of emotions, providing an innovative way to integrate emotional vocabulary into daily life. It enhances understanding and establishes new neural pathways and healthier thought patterns.</p> <p>The following outlines the initial steps of ER, which can effectively manage judgement towards yourself and others. Though the changes may appear simplistic, they are instrumental in establishing lasting transformation.</p> <p><strong>1. Removing judgement towards how you or others may feel:</strong> Instead of labelling emotions as good or bad, view them as rough or smooth emotional roads. Just as roads serve different purposes, so do emotions. Rough emotions build resilience, while smooth emotions promote well-being, removing the need to lift everyone off a rough road. This makes it easier to recognise and accept emotions without feeling like a failure when things aren't going smoothly. You don’t know why someone is on a rough road, so resist the temptation to judge them.</p> <p><strong>2: The metaphorical steering wheel</strong> in ER represents emotional control and the power of choice in navigating life's challenges. As in a car, you should be the only one controlling your emotional steering wheel. Rather than judging yourself and others, this logical approach empowers you to regain control over your focus, emotions, and destination. Just because someone else is on a rough road doesn’t mean you must join them, fostering resilience and responsibility. </p> <p><strong>3. Shifting judgement and blame to responsibility</strong> involves removing phrases such as "You are making me angry, " which inadvertently hands your emotional steering wheel to others. Replace it with, "I am choosing to feel angry in response to this situation." This subtle alteration, substituting "making" with "choosing," helps reclaim ownership of your steering wheel rather than relinquishing control to external factors. Assigning blame—"It's your fault, it's the government's fault, it's my partner’s fault"— leaves you feeling like a victim, and you then resort to judgement and retaliation to regain control. </p> <p><strong>4. The importance of taking control:</strong> Understanding that judgement cannot be contained nor emotional resilience built when you are out of control on either road is crucial. Out-of-control scenarios activate the amygdala, the brain's fight, flight or freeze mode, disabling the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for thinking and creativity. It is only possible to discuss a situation once the involved parties have regained control and can access the thinking part of their brain. Therefore, regaining control is essential for reducing judgement, as then you can have productive discussions that help maintain emotional well-being. This includes your conversations with yourself, which can often be the harshest!</p> <p>ER helps reduce judgement by developing your emotional resilience. Awareness of the emotional state of yourself and others fosters emotional intelligence, while learning to regain control builds resilience. Recognising that navigating rough emotions is crucial for growth alleviates the pressure from always needing to be on a smooth road and judging yourself and others if they aren’t. It shifts focus from dwelling on challenges and comparing yourself to others to being able to understand and manage your responses. Incorporating language changes into daily life builds new neural pathways, creating new thought patterns that reduce judgment and blame. </p> <p>By avoiding the tendency to judge yourself or others, you take back control of your reactions to people and circumstances. This leads to better mental and emotional well-being and fosters positive relationships with yourself and others. Does this mean you will never judge again? Of course not. You’re human. It’s what you do with the judgment that can make all the difference. </p> <p><strong>Dr Jane Foster is a leading educator, researcher, presenter and author of <em>It’s In Your Hands; Your Steering Wheel, Your Choice</em>. Combining her educational skills with neuroscience and positive psychology, Jane equips people with strategies to help build emotional resilience and manage their daily stresses, successfully changing perspective and creating new neural pathways. For more information, visit <a href="https://www.emotionalresiliencetraining.com.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">www.emotionalresiliencetraining.com.au</a></strong></p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Mind

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Bunnings has toppled Woolworths as Australia’s most ‘trusted’ brand – what makes us trust a brand in the first place?

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/louise-grimmer-212082">Louise Grimmer</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p>Think of some of the world’s biggest brands: Nike, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Apple. With what do you associate them? Are they positive associations? Now consider, do you trust them?</p> <p>Brand trust is a measure of how customers <em>feel</em> about a brand in terms of how well the brand delivers on its promises. Trust is an important measure for any organisation, large or small.</p> <p>Whether or not customers trust a brand can be the difference between choosing that brand’s products or services over another.</p> <p>In Australia, Woolworths <a href="https://www.roymorgan.com/findings/9472-risk-monitor-quartely-update-december-2023">held the title</a> of our most trusted brand for three and a half years. But recent cost-of-living pressures have put supermarkets in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.</p> <p>Roy Morgan Research’s <a href="https://www.roymorgan.com/findings/9472-risk-monitor-quartely-update-december-2023">most recent trust rankings</a> show Woolworths has slipped to number two, handing its crown to hardware behemoth Bunnings.</p> <p>It’s clear that trust is fragile and can be quickly squandered when brands lose touch with those they serve.</p> <p>So what makes us trust a brand in the first place? And why do we trust some more than others?</p> <h2>What makes us trust a brand?</h2> <p>According to customer experience management firm Qualtrics, <a href="https://www.qualtrics.com/au/experience-management/brand/brand-trust/">brand trust</a> is</p> <blockquote> <p>the confidence that customers have in a brand’s ability to deliver on what it promises. As a brand consistently meets the expectations it has set in the minds of customers, trust in that brand grows.</p> </blockquote> <p>There are many ways to go about measuring brand trust. A typical first step is to ask lots of people what they think, collating their general opinions on product quality and the brand’s customer service experience.</p> <p>This can be strengthened with more quantifiable elements, including:</p> <ul> <li>online ratings and reviews</li> <li>social media “sentiment” (positive, negative or neutral)</li> <li>corporate social responsibility activities</li> <li>philanthropic efforts</li> <li>customer data security and privacy.</li> </ul> <p>Some surveys go even deeper, asking respondents to consider a brand’s vision and mission, its approaches to sustainability and worker standards, and how honest its advertising appears.</p> <h2>Is this a real and useful metric?</h2> <p>The qualitative methodology used by <a href="https://www.roymorgan.com/findings/9472-risk-monitor-quartely-update-december-2023">Roy Morgan</a> to determine what Australian consumers think about 1,000 brands has been administered over two decades, so the data can be reliably compared across time.</p> <p>On measures of both trust and distrust, it asks respondents which brands they trust and why. This approach is useful because it tells us which elements factor into brand trust judgements.</p> <p><a href="https://roymorgan-cms-prod.s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/07035120/9472-Risk-Monitor-Quartely-Update-December-2023-1-1.pdf">Customer responses</a> about the survey’s most recent winner, Bunnings, show that customer service, product range, value-for-money pricing and generous returns policies are the key drivers of strong trust in its brand.</p> <p>Here are some examples:</p> <blockquote> <p>Great customer service. Love their welcoming staff. Whether it’s nuts and bolts or a new toilet seat, they have it all, value for money.</p> <p>Great products and price and have a no quibble refund policy.</p> <p>Great stock range, help is there if you need it and it is my go-to for my gardening and tool needs. Really convenient trading hours, and their return policy is good.</p> </blockquote> <p>In addition to trust, there are three other metrics commonly used to assess brand performance:</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>brand equity</strong> – the commercial or social value of consumer perceptions of a brand</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>brand loyalty</strong> – consumer willingness to consistently choose one brand over others regardless of price or competitor’s efforts</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>brand affinity</strong> – the emotional connection and common values between a brand and its customers.</p> </li> </ul> <p>However, trust is becoming a disproportionately important metric as consumers demand that companies provide <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernhardschroeder/2020/01/16/from-the-traditional-to-the-outrageous-four-brands-that-use-honest-transparency-to-build-loyal-customers-with-non-traditional-marketing-and-branding/?sh=6689f81320a1">increased transparency</a> and exhibit greater care for their customers, not just their shareholders.</p> <h2>Why do Australians trust retailers so much?</h2> <p>Of Australia’s top ten most trusted brands, seven are retailers – Bunnings, Woolworths, Aldi, Coles, Kmart, Myer and Big W.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=279&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=279&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=279&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/582082/original/file-20240314-28-h0xdf4.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=350&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="table shows that Bunnings is now Australia's most trusted brand, and Optus the least trusted brand." /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">The latest changes to Australia’s most trusted and most distrusted brand rankings.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.roymorgan.com/findings/9472-risk-monitor-quartely-update-december-2023">Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia)</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>This <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90901331/america-most-trusted-brands-companies-report-2023-morning-consult">stands in contrast</a> with the United States, where the most trusted brands are predominantly from the healthcare sector.</p> <p>So why do retail brands dominate our trust rankings?</p> <p>They certainly aren’t small local businesses. Our retail sector is <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/retail/in-the-shopping-trolley-war-the-supermarkets-have-to-give-20240122-p5ez4k">highly concentrated</a>, dominated by a few giant retail brands.</p> <p>We have only two major department stores (David Jones and Myer), three major discount department stores (Big W, Target and Kmart) and a <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-23/a-history-of-the-duopoly-coles-woolworths/103494070">supermarket “duopoly”</a> (Coles and Woolworths).</p> <p>It’s most likely then that these brands have been enjoying leftover goodwill from the pandemic.</p> <p>As Australia closed down to tackle COVID-19, the retail sector, and in particular the grocery sector, was credited with enabling customers to <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/inside-story-how-woolworths-and-coles-joined-forces-to-avert-covid-19-disaster-20200611-p551lk.html">safely access</a> food and household goods.</p> <p>Compared with many other countries, we did not see a predominance of empty shelves across Australia. Retailers in this country stepped up – implementing or improving their online shopping capabilities and ensuring physical stores followed health guidelines and protocols.</p> <p>Now, with the pandemic behind us and in an environment of high inflation, the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-20/woolworths-coles-supermarket-tactics-grocery-four-corners/103405054">big two supermarkets</a> face <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/feb/20/do-coles-woolworths-specials-actually-offer-savings-choice-survey-supermarket-price-gouging-inquiry">growing distrust</a> and a <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Supermarket_Prices/SupermarketPrices">public inquiry</a>.</p> <h2>Lessons from the losers</h2> <p>After <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/nov/20/optus-scandals-network-outage-cyberattack-ceo-resignation-kelly-bayer-rosmarin">two high profile disasters</a>, Optus finds itself the most distrusted brand in Australia.</p> <p>Its companions in the “most distrusted” group include social media brands Meta (Facebook), TikTok and X.</p> <p>Qantas, Medibank Private, Newscorp, Nestle and Amazon also made the top 10.</p> <p>The main reason consumers distrust brands is for a perceived failure to live up to their promises and responsibilities.</p> <p>For example, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2023/09/18/amazon-working-conditions-safety-osha-doj/">worker conditions at multinational firm Amazon</a> are seen by some consumers as a reflection of questionable business practices.</p> <p>Other brands may have earned a reputation for failing to deliver the basics, like when chronic <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/transport/compensating-travellers-for-cancelled-flights-long-overdue-20240212-p5f45c">flight delays and cancellations</a> plagued many Qantas customers.</p> <h2>Lessons from the winners</h2> <p>On the flip side, consumers have rewarded budget-friendly retailers with increased trust in the most recent rankings.</p> <p>Aldi, Kmart and Bunnings have improved their standing as trusted brands, no doubt in part because they have helped many Australian consumers deal with tight household budgets.</p> <p>As discretionary consumer spending continues to tighten, we may see a more permanent consumer shopping <a href="https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/retail/rise-of-the-value-shopper-as-budgets-are-crunched-a-threat-and-opportunity-for-retailers/news-story/9b7a355cfb3866ec60d2ee42b7cbd567">shift towards value for money</a> brands and discounters.</p> <p>Trust is a fragile thing to maintain once earned. As we move through 2024, Australian companies must pay close attention to their most important asset – strong relationships with those they serve.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/225578/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/louise-grimmer-212082">Louise Grimmer</a>, Senior Lecturer in Retail Marketing, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/bunnings-has-toppled-woolworths-as-australias-most-trusted-brand-what-makes-us-trust-a-brand-in-the-first-place-225578">original article</a>.</p>

Money & Banking

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“My sister-in-law announced she was pregnant at my child’s funeral”

<p dir="ltr">A woman has asked for advice on how to navigate her relationship with her sister-in-law, after the woman overheard an inappropriate conversation at her child’s funeral. </p> <p dir="ltr">The grieving mother, a 28-year-old named Melissa, took to Reddit to share the heartbreaking story of how her toddler passed away after a battle with cancer. </p> <p dir="ltr">Melissa described the time as the “hardest in my life”, explaining how she felt she lost “a part of herself” after the funeral.</p> <p dir="ltr">While Melissa expected her toddlers’ memorial service to be difficult, she never predicted a family member would make it even harder. </p> <p dir="ltr">The mother said that when she heard her sister-in-law telling people about her pregnancy, she thought the move was just cruel. </p> <p dir="ltr">“She didn't make a big announcement but more than ten people at the service 'heard' and it's what everyone was talking about. To understate it, I was livid,” Melissa wrote on Reddit.</p> <p dir="ltr">Melissa’s post then asked social media users for advice, as she was unsure how much of a relationship she wanted to have with her sister-in-law after the stunt. </p> <p dir="ltr">The 28-year-old shared that she had fallen pregnant herself, and was facing pressure to have a party in celebration, but she didn’t want her whole family in attendance. </p> <p dir="ltr">“I've been working on who I want to invite, and I really don't want my SIL there,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Besides what she did, she's a vindictive and mean person and I cannot stand her.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“I mentioned it to my husband and he says he couldn't care less whether she's there or not. But for the sake of saving face, I want opinions before I do this.”</p> <p dir="ltr">She asked the online forum if she would be “an a**hole” for not inviting her, addin that she would still be inviting her husband's other sister and husband's brother's wife. </p> <p dir="ltr">“The original SIL will be the only one not invited,” she clarified.</p> <p dir="ltr">The post was flooded with comments as many backed up Melissa, slamming the sister-in-law for her selfish behaviour. </p> <p dir="ltr">“I wouldn't want someone like that around me. Announcing a pregnancy at a child's funeral is insane,” one said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Cut her off and ignore everyone close to her. You are right to have nothing to do with her. She's totally classless.”</p> <p dir="ltr">However, others encouraged her to have an adult conversation with her sister-in-law in an attempt to mend their relationship.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Please let it go,” one person began. “This happened on a terrible day during a bad time for you. It's possible that could be clouding how you're looking at this, she may not have been malicious at all.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

Family & Pets

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The cheapest places to travel in 2024

<p dir="ltr">With the cost of living continuing to rise, many people are looking for cost-friendly ways to travel the world in 2024. </p> <p dir="ltr">Some destinations are more economic than others, with these somewhat overlooked holiday hotspots showcasing the best of travelling without breaking the bank.</p> <p dir="ltr">If you’re looking for a new adventure this year, these corners of the globe are the cheapest places to travel in 2024.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>The Philippines</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">The underrated gem located only a few hours northeast of Australia is one of the cheapest destinations in Asia, it's a wonder why more tourists don’t visit. </p> <p dir="ltr">Not only is it home to over 7,500 picturesque islands, six UNESCO World Heritage Sites and an endless chain of pristine beaches, it's also very affordable with resort accommodation under $100 a night is not hard to find.</p> <p dir="ltr">On top of accommodation, day tours and activities (snorkelling, for example) will set you back around $30 to $40.</p> <p dir="ltr">Flights are also reasonable in cost, with return flights from Sydney to Manila coming in around $600 per person. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Turkey</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Travellers can get to Istanbul from Melbourne and back for approximately $1,300 per person, to visit some of the world’s most historical sites. </p> <p dir="ltr">Turkey is a paradise for those travelling on a budget, with mouthwatering meals can be found regularly for as little as $5, and even less for street food.</p> <p dir="ltr">To make it even better, striking accommodation in the historic Galata region can be as low as $50 a night. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Hungary</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Hungary is regularly dubbed one of Europe’s cheapest tourist destinations, with  accommodation, dining and entertainment costs significantly lower than the neighbouring countries.</p> <p dir="ltr">Expect to part with $60 to $100 a night for a pretty-as-a-picture hotel in the city centre, around $10 to $15 for meals in restaurants, and anywhere between $7 to $30 for activities. </p> <p dir="ltr">There are also tourist passes available that make these costs even cheaper. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Albania</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Located on the western part of the Balkan peninsula, this destination is often overlooked by tourists, making it an ideal budget-friendly destination. </p> <p dir="ltr">The stunning country is home to UNESCO World Heritage sites and turquoise beaches, all while keeping your budget in mind. </p> <p dir="ltr">Beachside accommodation can be found for as little as $70 a night, with prices comparable to Turkey for restaurant meals. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p> </p>

International Travel

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8 places you should never keep your phone

<p><strong>In your pocket</strong></p> <p>Keeping your phone in your pocket seems logical, but you could be doing more harm than good. According to Dr Lilly Friedman, this is actually the worst place to store your phone. “When phones are on, connected to a wireless network, and placed in a pocket, the radiation is two to seven times higher than if it were placed in a purse or holster,” she says.</p> <p>There is a correlation between radiation from a mobile phone and tumour growth, she adds. Plus, radiation can change the structure of DNA and affect male fertility, according to Dr Friedman. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer also found that mobile phone radiation is additionally carcinogenic to humans. Merely sitting on your phone could cause health issues such as sciatica or back problems.</p> <p><strong>In your bra</strong></p> <p>Some research and case studies show that keeping your phone in your bra could be linked to breast cancer due to the radiations and vibrations from the phone. That said, there is not enough evidence to establish a definite relationship between the two. Still, keeping your phone in your bra, especially a sports bra, is a bad idea due to the skin-irritating bacteria it could harbour, Muscle &amp; Fitness reports.</p> <p><strong>In your bed or under your pillow</strong></p> <p>Sleeping with your phone is a bad idea for a few reasons. First, keeping your phone under your pillow could build up heat and present a potential fire hazard, especially if your phone is charging or has a defect. It’s also known that the LED light from phone screens can disrupt melatonin production and circadian rhythms, hurting your sleep quality, according to the National Sleep Foundation.</p> <p>And, of course, there’s also radiation to consider. The amounts of radio frequency radiation mobile phones give off are the same ones emitted from microwaves. There is also concern about the safety of mobile phone use with respect to cancer and brain tumours, per the American Cancer Society.</p> <p><strong>Plugged in</strong></p> <p>Keeping your phone plugged in when it has a full battery causes damage to the battery itself, according to pcmag.com. It’s not that your phone ‘overloads’ with power, but heat build-ups from stacking things on top of your phone or keeping it under your pillow, making your phone hotter and damaging your battery.</p> <p><strong>Close to your face</strong></p> <p>Keeping your phone close to your face means bacteria transfers to and from your phone, making your skin and phone dirtier. This combination leads to more acne, skin irritation and even wrinkles, according to Allure. Try using ear pods instead to keep the surface of your phone at a distance from your face.</p> <p><strong>In your glovebox</strong></p> <p>Extreme temperatures are the worst conditions for your phone. So keeping your device in your car’s glovebox during the extremely hot or cold months of the year could lead to problems. According to Time, excess heat can cause everything from data loss or corruption to battery leakage. The cold weather presents just as many issues for your device. In cold temperatures, many smartphones shut off, have display problems, shortened battery life and in rare cases screen shattering.</p> <p><strong>On your beach towel </strong></p> <p>Notice a theme here? The extreme sun and heat at the beach is a recipe for phone disaster. Protect your device after you finish taking beautiful beach pictures. Hot and sunny conditions could, again, cause your phone to overheat – and getting sand in your phone won’t help either.</p> <p><strong>Anywhere in the bathroom</strong></p> <p>Although phones could arguably be the new newspaper, it’s not a good idea to take yours into the bathroom. Even if you keep your device on a counter or away from the toilet, anything within a metre of a flushing toilet could mean bacteria or viruses in the air end up on your phone, according to a study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.</p> <p>“The detection of bacteria and viruses falling out onto surfaces in bathrooms after flushing indicated that they remain airborne long enough to settle on surfaces throughout the bathroom,” wrote the study authors.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/8-places-you-should-never-keep-your-phone" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Technology

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14 best places to travel in 2024

<p>If you’ve been to an airport recently, what we’re about to tell you will come as no surprise: Travel is back in a BIG way. Travellers are hitting the skies – and the rails, roads and seas – in record numbers, looking for the best places to travel.</p> <p>So what does that mean for 2024? “We’re looking at a wave of excitement over travelling with family and friends,” according to Heather Heverling, managing director of Audley Travel. “One thing we’re seeing a lot of is ‘skip-gen’ travel,” when grandparents take their grandkids on holidays but leave the parents at home. (We say: Those are some lucky kids!)</p> <p>And while domestic travel will certainly be popular, people are also looking to expand their horizons. Interest in Japan is booming, says Heverling. And there’s a desire to leave the crowds behind and find hidden gems in spots like France, where many people will be headed to watch the Olympics this summer.</p> <p>We know – there are so many amazing places to go and cool things to see, and it’s hard to narrow things down! To help you pick the perfect spot, we’ve rounded up some of the best places to visit in 2024, whether you’re looking for quick trips, beach getaways, cheap places to travel, city experiences or far-flung adventures. Read on to get a whole year’s worth of inspiration!</p> <p><strong>South Island, New Zealand</strong></p> <p>Wondering which hot spot to visit first? Our pick for 2024 is South Island, New Zealand. Christchurch is considered the base camp for South Island explorations. During the day, kayak in the emerald waters of Abel Tasman National Park, bike or hike to gorgeous hot springs, or sample New Zealand’s best pours at spots like Tussock Hill Vineyards (where you can also spend the night in new luxury suites nestled in the vineyard). When the sun goes down, it will be time for spectacular stargazing at Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, which recently became the first Dark Sky Reserve in New Zealand.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> Find a hotel that puts you right in the heart of Christchurch and within walking distance of restaurants, shops and the Botanical Gardens.</p> <p><strong>Paris, France</strong></p> <p>Everyone is talking about visiting France this year, and for good reason. Paris will be hosting the Summer Olympics, with events held throughout the City of Lights and the surrounding area – including boating and swimming events on the Seine River and dressage events at Versailles. (According to France’s tourism office, 95 per cent of the Olympic and Paralympic events will be held in existing locations for a more sustainable world event.) The city is in full-throttle preparation mode, with new hotels opening, art exhibits launching and plenty of projects underway to make Paris shine even brighter than usual.</p> <p>And that’s not all France has going on. June 6, 2024, is the 80th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy. To get the most context out of a visit, it helps to go with a guide who can take you through the area and bring the past to life through storytelling and interactive exhibits.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> If possible, base yourself in the ever-popular Left Bank neighbourhood in the 6tharrondissement of the city, where you’ll be able to enjoy views right across the river of the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral, which is set to reopen in late 2024 after its devastating 2019 fire. Like we said, it’s a big year!</p> <p><strong>Cambodia</strong> </p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> More ways to explore and two new airports to reach the country</p> <p>Cambodia is a bucket-list destination for many travellers. “With the addition of luxury lodges and resorts, travellers can now enjoy a true luxury immersion in Cambodia – blending ancient ruins and culture, cuisine and handicrafts, rainforest and jungle, and ending with a sublime beach stay,” says Brady Binstadt, CEO of GeoEx, an adventure-travel company. In the little-visited Cardamom Forest Protected Area, options for hiking, mountain biking, boating and bird-watching abound, says Binstadt, who also recommends boating through lush forest to Tatai village, where visitors can walk by the river, kayak through mangroves and listen to the symphonic sounds of wildlife from a floating lodge.</p> <p>You’ll also want to visit Angkor Wat, famed for its glorious temples. Happily, reaching Angkor Wat just became a lot easier with the brand-new, $1 billion Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport, which is just a short drive from the UNESCO Heritage Site temple complex. Later in 2024, the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, will also unveil a new $1.5 billion airport, providing even more ways to reach the country.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> Shinta Mani Wild in the Cardamom Mountains is a luxury jungle retreat about three hours from Phnom Penh; it boasts its own zip line over the waterfalls and river where the remote lodge is located. Another unique option is Six Senses Krabey Island off the southern coast, where 40 glass-front villas are tucked into the dense foliage of this romantic resort. Indulge in a treatment at the luxe spa after exploring the nearby Kbal Chhay waterfalls and the waterways of Ream National Park.</p> <p><strong>Los Angeles, California </strong></p> <p>Yes, we know, you hear “LA” and think beach and sand. But for 2024, replace that with cool art and culture, since Los Angeles will be hosting two awesome openings. When it opens in February, Destination Crenshaw will be the largest Black art program in the US, with a two-kilometre stretch of Crenshaw Boulevard in South LA, containing 100 commissioned works by Black artists displayed within beautifully landscaped community spaces.</p> <p>And September will see the launch of Getty’s colossal PST ART: Art &amp; Science Collide. The latest edition of the initiative (previously known as Pacific Standard Time) will include more than 50 exhibitions across the Los Angeles area, including iconic spots like the Griffith Observatory, the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Getty Center. The exhibits aren’t just paintings and sculptures. They are intersections of art, science and the natural world – including “Color in Motion: Chromatic Explorations of Cinema” at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures; “From Fire We Are Born,” which explores Native American culture at the Fowler Museum at UCLA; and “Seeing the Unseeable: Data, Design, Art” at the ArtCenter College of Design.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> No matter which room or suite you book at the InterContinental Los Angeles, you’ll be greeted with what feels like a never-ending view. You’ll see everything from the Pacific Ocean to the Hollywood sign and downtown skyscrapers. And not only is it the tallest building west of Chicago, but the location puts you right in the middle of all the arts action.</p> <p><strong>Okavango Delta, Botswana </strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> Sustainable new safari camps deep in the Delta.</p> <p>Always dreamed of going on safari? Botswana should be at the top of your 2024 travel list. A decade after being designated the 1000th site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, Botswana’s watery Okavango Delta remains a captivating marvel of nature that differentiates it from other safari destinations. The intricate network of waterways, lush greenery and diverse ecosystems presents amazing opportunities to observe animals like elephants, impala, kudu, zebra and more from a mokoro, or dugout boat, as you float silently through the area.</p> <p>For an intimate stay in the wilderness areas, try the new tented camps. If that’s not your thing, there are also fancy, all-inclusive hotels that wrap game drives into their included offerings.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> First, there’s the Natural Selection’s Tawana Camp, which is set to open in May 2024 in the Moremi Game Reserve. It will combine modern luxury (think: multi-bedroom, free-standing suites with private pools) with intimate safari experiences. Bonus: This corner of Botswana is known for its high population of lions and leopards.</p> <p>Atzaro Okavango from African Bush Camps opens in March 2024, offering sustainable luxury in the heart of the Delta. This eco-friendly property is made from recycled materials and powered entirely by solar energy. Guests stay in air-conditioned suites with their own plunge pools and will be treated to year-round sightings of elephants, buffalo, lions, leopards, giraffes, hippos and other African wildlife.</p> <p><strong>Turks and Caicos </strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> Because kiteboarding will be the thing to do in 2024 – and Turks and Caicos is also heaven on earth.</p> <p>We’re calling it: When kiteboarding makes its official Olympic debut in 2024, the sport will surge in popularity. But don’t go to Paris to do it. Instead, head to Turks and Caicos, a fabulous warm-weather winter getaway that offers some of the best kiteboarding conditions in the world. “The island’s consistent trade winds, shallow warm waters and large areas of flat, uncrowded riding make it an ideal destination for this thrilling water sport,” says Vasco Borges, the owner of Beach Enclave Turks and Caicos and a passionate kiteboarder.</p> <p>Swimming and snorkelling are popular activities on the island as well, and avid divers love the mammoth undersea coral wall off Grand Turk. Plus, Turks and Caicos is home to some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world. In other words, it’s always one of the best places to travel!</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> New for 2024, Beach Enclave will offer new beach houses with privacy, tranquility and an oceanfront private pool on the North Shore. The Grace Bay location of the multi-location resort is introducing contemporary villas with a blend of indoor and outdoor living, called the Reserve at Grace Bay. And finally, at the resort’s Long Bay location, which is known as a kiteboarder’s haven, you’ll find new beach houses along the pristine white-sand beachfront, ideal for families and water-sports enthusiasts.</p> <p><strong>Belize</strong></p> <p>Have you heard of the Great Barrier Reef? We thought so. How about Belize’s Barrier Reef? Not so much, right? We’re here to tell you that in 2024, it’s time to put this natural wonder on your must-visit list. The world’s second-largest barrier reef (behind Australia’s), it is actually the biggest reef in both the northern and western hemispheres. The snorkelling here is magnificent, and so is the diving – plus, it’s not as crowded as the better-known Australian alternative.</p> <p>If you’re looking for the perfect home base while visiting, consider Belize’s largest island, Ambergris Caye. The Belize Barrier Reef is just a 400-metres offshore, and you’ll definitely want to check out the protected Hol Chan Marine Reserve, which is just a 10-minute boat ride from the main town of San Pedro. When you’re not snorkelling or swimming, spend your days popping into Belizean art galleries and souvenir shops or just lounging on the white sand.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> Try the Alaia Belize, an Autograph Collection hotel in the island’s historic town of San Pedro. This beachfront hotel is just 600 metres from the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve and has stunning views of the Caribbean Sea. Plus, it has an on-site dive shop and three pools, including Belize’s first-ever suspended rooftop pool and a lounge with 360-degree views.</p> <p><strong>Paros, Greece</strong></p> <p>Have you heard of destination dupes? According to Expedia, these are “places that are a little unexpected, sometimes more affordable and every bit as delightful as the tried-and-true destinations travellers love.” One of our favourites on Expedia’s list is this stunning Greek island that usually sails under the most travellers’ Mediterranean radars in uncrowded bliss while the hordes of tourists head to Mykonos and Santorini.</p> <p>Visiting the island, which is about a two-hour ferry ride south of well-known party island Mykonos and right next to Naxos, is one of the best things to do in Greece, since it means enjoying idyllic beaches framed by the azure waters of the Aegean Sea. While you’re here, explore the winding streets and charming villages of Naoussa and Lefkes, and sip whipped coffee frappes or ouzo at the picturesque port of Parikia (the island’s capital), home to whitewashed houses adorned with vibrant bougainvillea.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> You can’t go wrong at the newly opened Minois hotel, where the whitewashed walls hold luxurious touches, such as decadent dining at Olvo and pampering spa treatments. But the best part may be simply floating in the infinity pool with views of the sea spread out in front of you.</p> <p><strong>Kyoto, Japan</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> An array of new luxury hotels and the opening of the first Nintendo Museum.</p> <p>“One thing we can say for sure is that interest in visiting Japan is not slowing down,” says Audley Travel’s Heverling. Japan finally welcomed visitors back in 2023, and the numbers are soaring. And for 2024, we’re seeing cool new openings and numerous developments that will make your trip even easier. Kyoto, especially, will be the city to watch in the new year, when the world’s first Nintendo Museum opens in spring 2024 in the former Nintendo Uji Kokura factory site in Kyoto. This will be a big draw for pop-culture lovers and gamers.</p> <p>Even if you don’t know a controller from a cruller, though, Kyoto will enthral you with ancient temples and beautiful architecture that make it look like a real-life fairy-tale town. Plus, there are four amazing new hotels opening in Kyoto in 2024, where you can happily rest, relax and enjoy.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> Luxury brand Banyan Tree Higashiyama Kyoto will feature a private onsen bath; elegant Six Senses Kyoto will have a spa and zen-like rooms situated around seasonal gardens; and the 313-room Hilton Kyoto will be the brand’s first flagship hotel in Kyoto. Finally, the new Regent Kyoto (an IHG property) is opening a resort-like property in a hundred-year-old garden complex that’s also home to a Michelin-starred restaurant.</p> <p><strong>Northern Territories, Canada </strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> An almost-guaranteed opportunity to see the northern lights during the “solar max”.</p> <p>There are two truths about seeing the northern lights: They’re beautiful, and they’re elusive. Unlike the solar eclipse, there’s no date or time that you’re guaranteed to see the night-time spectacular. You do need, however, to go north… in winter… and then wait. That’s why we’re so excited about the news from the Northern Territories of Canada, where a “solar max” cycle is going to make it possible to see the aurora borealis with new ease. According to the Canada Tourism Board, in the Northwest Territories, “travellers have a 98 per cent chance of witnessing the spectacle” during a three-night stay November through March, when longer hours of darkness each day and clear nights make it easier to spot the lights.</p> <p>The jewelled green, purple and gold lights can be seen due to the perfect combination of clear nights, flat landscape, low humidity and the location beneath the earth’s auroral oval. Even better, 2024 is the peak of the 11-year solar cycle, which means the light show will be even more dramatic than usual.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay: </em></span>The main gateway to the area is Yellowknife, the location of Aurora Village, an entirely Indigenous-owned experience that leads guided night-time tours and where you can go dog sledding and snowshoeing. You can also spend the evening in a cosy teepee, complete with a wood stove, which makes it easy to pop out and see the aurora borealis when it lights up the sky.</p> <p><strong>Mexico City</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> Tour tourism for live-music lovers – and Madonna fans!</p> <p>Expedia predicts that “tour tourism,” following a favourite artist on their headlining tour, will thrive in 2024. “In 2023, the cultural impact of the Eras and Renaissance tours was undeniable, driving ticket sales but also travel and tourism,” according to Expedia Brands travel expert Melanie Fish. Perhaps driven by ticket prices, 30 per cent of travellers told Expedia they would travel outside of their home city for a concert because tickets were cheaper elsewhere, with Mexico City coming out near the top of that list. We’re totally in on the trend, especially since Madonna will play four dates the Palacio de los Desportes in 2024, making Mexico City a live-music hot spot for the coming year.</p> <p>And as an extra bonus, Mexico City is an affordable warm-weather destination, not to mention a hub for art, culture and cuisine. Translation: There’s plenty to do and see when you’re not rocking out. Check out the Colonia Roma neighbourhood, called CDMX – often referred to as “the Williamsburg of Mexico City” for its hipster vibe and cool architecture, art galleries and restaurants.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> The new boutique hotel Colima 71 features hundreds of authentic Mexican art pieces, a craft coffee bar with an on-site barista and plenty of communal spaces perfect for mingling with fellow travellers. Located in the heart of artsy CDMX, it’s also a super convenient and central location.</p> <p><strong>Washington, D.C.</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> To watch democracy at work during an election year… and visit some cool museums, too.</p> <p>Following a record year of tourism to the US capital, 2024 will likely see visits continue to rise, thanks to the upcoming presidential election in November. But even if you’re not a pollster, there are plenty of other attractions in the nation’s capital that make it one of the best places to travel year-round. First, travellers will be happy to hear that it’s easier to get into the heart of the city now that the Metro added service to Dulles International Airport with direct service on the Silver Line of the underground train system – and it’s never more than $6!</p> <p>While you’re in town, check out the newly renovated and reopened National Museum of Women in the Arts, which spotlights women artists from the 17th century to the present. And in 2024, the Smithsonian’s contemporary art museum, the Hirshhorn, will be celebrating its 50th anniversary with a collection of new exhibits. Also, remember: Nearly all D.C. museums are free, so the sightseeing part of your trip will be super affordable.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> Book a room at The Dupont Circle, a hotel that successfully walks the line between feeling luxurious and homey. It’s steps away from dozens of art galleries and museums, and it boasts an impressive art collection of its own. Don’t miss brunch and dinner at the delicious new American on-site Pembroke restaurant.</p> <p><strong>The Pekoe Trail, Sri Lanka</strong> </p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> To check out amazing new hiking trails and old cultures.</p> <p>The newly opened Pekoe Trail in Sri Lanka is a fantastic way to explore the country’s varied landscapes. Ten years in the making, the Pekoe Trail is the first collection of destination-based walking trails that aims to support remote communities, promote cultural heritage and showcase Sri Lankan scenery. Most of the trails opened in the fall of 2023, with a few more opening at the beginning of 2024.</p> <p>The 300-kilometre route starts in the central city of Kandy, famous for the Temple of the Tooth, and meanders through to stunning mountain views of Ella. Audley Travel, says Heverling, can arrange treks to the most scenic parts of the Sri Lanka trail. Hikers will walk on the region’s famed tea trails, as well as through forests, jungle and remote towns and villages.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay:</em></span> The experts at Audley recommend Mountain Heavens for its fantastic infinity pool that will make you feel like you’re literally floating over the valley. Big, comfy beds and modern amenities, not to mention a delicious included breakfast, all add up to a very luxurious end to a hike.</p> <p><strong>Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates </strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Why you should go:</em></span> Seaside vibes in Dubai’s under-the-radar neighbour to the north.</p> <p>Dubai is always popular, and always full of flashy new attractions and frenetic energy. But if you want an Emirates vacation that’s a little more relaxing, head 40 minutes north of the city to this under-the-radar gem. Well, under the radar until 2024, that is, when the luxury Anantara Mina Al Arab Ras Al Khaimah Resort opens and more people realise that it’s one of the best places to travel. It’s set amid the area’s stunning mountains and mangroves in the seaside neighbourhood of Mina Al Arab, which is quickly becoming a trendy destination, with new openings and plenty of sunshine.</p> <p>Ras Al Khaimah is a great spot for outdoorsy types, who can snorkel or swim in the crystal-clear turquoise waters, then head off for a quad biking adventure in the desert or soar over the desert on the world’s longest zipline. And speaking of world records: If you get a chance to spend New Year’s Eve here, don’t miss it. The Emirate holds multiple Guinness World Records for its spectacular fireworks performances held during its New Year’s celebrations.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Where to stay: </em></span>The Anantara Resort here is more than just a getaway from the bustling city. It also boasts Bali-style overwater bungalows for an over-the-top romantic getaway.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/flightstravel-hints-tips/14-best-places-to-travel-in-2024?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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The sky’s the limit: A brief history of in-flight entertainment

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/olusola-adewumi-john-1490381">Olusola Adewumi John</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-regina-3498">University of Regina</a> </em></p> <p>As the winter holidays draw near, many of us are already booking flights to see friends and family or vacation in warmer climates. Nowadays, air travel is synonymous with some form of in-flight entertainment, encompassing everything from the reception offered by the aircrew to the food choices and digital content.</p> <p>These services all add value to flying for customers. Passengers are now so familiar with in-flight entertainment that to travel without it is unthinkable.</p> <p><a href="https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2023/10/19/2762903/0/en/In-Flight-Entertainment-Connectivity-Market-to-Worth-21-03-Bn-by-2030-Exhibiting-With-a-15-9-CAGR.html">The in-flight entertainment and connectivity market grew to US$5.9 billion as of 2019</a>, a testament to its economic impact on both the airlines and the GDP of countries with airline carriers.</p> <p>In-flight entertainment is so ubiquitous that, even if all other airline services were offered, <a href="https://travel.stackexchange.com/questions/19427/will-airlines-compensate-me-if-my-entertainment-system-is-not-working">the airline ensures a refund is made to the passenger affected</a> if television content cannot be accessed.</p> <h2>A brief history</h2> <p>In-flight entertainment has evolved significantly over the years. Before in-flight entertainment media was introduced, passengers entertained themselves by reading books or with food and drink services.</p> <p>The original aim of bringing in-flight entertainment into cabins was to attract more customers, drawing inspiration from a variety of sources, including the theatrical and domestic media environments. It was not initially for the comfort and ease of travelling, as it is today.</p> <p><a href="https://www.academia.edu/5023683/A_History_of_INFLIGHT_ENTERTAINMENT">Inflight entertainment began as an experiment</a> in 1921, when 11 Aeromarine Airways passengers were shown the film <em>Howdy Chicago!</em> on a screen hung in the cabin during the flight. Four years later, another experiment was carried out in 1925 when 12 passengers on board an Imperial Airlines flight from London were shown the film <em>The Lost World</em>.</p> <p><a href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/air-space-magazine/when-did-inflight-movies-become-standard-on-airlines-180955566/">It wasn’t until the 1960s</a> that in-flight movies became mainstream for airlines. Trans World Airlines became the first carrier to regularly offer feature films during flights, using a unique film system developed by <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1962/06/02/inflight">David Flexer, then-president of Inflight Motion Pictures</a>.</p> <p>Starting in 1964, in-flight entertainment evolved to include various media types like 16-mm film, closed-circuit television, live television broadcasts and magnetic tape. In the 1970s, for example, airplanes might feature a large screen with a 16-mm projector in one part of the plane, while small screens hung overhead in another section.</p> <p><a href="https://www.smh.com.au/traveller/reviews-and-advice/when-did-airlines-install-seatback-entertainment-20190711-h1g51b.html">Seatback screens were introduced in 1988</a> when Airvision installed 6.9-centimetre screens on the backs of airline seats for Northwest Airlines. They have since morphed into the larger screens we are familiar with today, which are found on nearly every airline.</p> <h2>In-flight entertainment today</h2> <p>Most airlines nowadays have personal televisions for every passenger on long-haul flights. On-demand streaming and internet access are also now the norm. Despite initial concerns about speed and cost, in-flight services are becoming faster and more affordable.</p> <p>In-flight entertainment now includes movies, music, radio talk shows, TV talk shows, documentaries, magazines, stand-up comedy, culinary shows, sports shows and kids’ shows.</p> <p>However, the rise of personal devices, like tablets and smartphones, <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/comment/the-weird-and-wonderful-history-of-in-flight-entertainment/">could spell the end for seatback screens</a>. A number of U.S. airlines, including American Airlines, United Airlines and Alaska Air, have <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-10-09/airline-seatback-screens-may-soon-become-an-endangered-species">removed seatback screens from their domestic planes</a>.</p> <p>This decline is par for the course. To arrive at the complex system used by aircraft today, in-flight entertainment went through a number of different stages, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-0641-1_10">as identified by aviation scholar D.A. Reed</a>.</p> <p>It started with an idea phase, which saw the conception of the idea, followed by an arms race phase where most airlines adopted some form of it. Currently, airlines are facing challenges in the final — and current — phase of evolution, and are dealing with failures linked to business concept flaws or low revenue.</p> <p>Now that most air travellers carry electronic devices, fewer airlines are installing seatback screens. From an economic standpoint, this makes sense for airlines: removing seatback screens <a href="https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/01/01/business/airlines-travel-entertainment.html">improves fuel costs</a> and allows airlines to <a href="https://www.flightglobal.com/systems-and-interiors/united-ups-757-density-with-new-slimline-seats/126574.article">install slimmer seats</a>, allowing for more passengers.</p> <h2>More than entertainment</h2> <p>At some point in the evolution of in-flight entertainment, it started to serve as more than just a form of entertainment or comfort. Now, it’s also a competitive tool for airline advertisements, and a form of cultural production.</p> <p>In-flight entertainment has become an economic platform for investors, business people, manufacturers and entertainment providers, especially Hollywood. It also plays a key role in promoting the national culture of destination countries.</p> <p>However, the evolution of in-flight entertainment hasn’t been without its challenges. As a form of cultural production, it often reflects the interests of advertisers, governments and business entities. It also follows that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-0641-1_10">certain ideas, products and cultures are sold to passengers</a> via in-flight entertainment.</p> <p>The lucrative practice of capturing and selling passengers’ attention to advertisers was not limited to screens, either. In-flight magazines have always been packed with advertisements, and by the late 1980s, these advertisements had spread to napkins and the audio channels.</p> <p>Despite its shortcomings and precarious future, in-flight entertainment still offers passengers a sense of comfort, alleviating concerns about being suspended over 30,000 feet above sea level. If you end up flying during the holidays, remember your comfort is partly thanks to this innovation.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/218996/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/olusola-adewumi-john-1490381"><em>Olusola Adewumi John</em></a><em>, Visiting Researcher, Centre for Socially Engaged Theatre, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-regina-3498">University of Regina</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-skys-the-limit-a-brief-history-of-in-flight-entertainment-218996">original article</a>.</em></p>

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