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Man books 58 flights for free

<p dir="ltr">A Jetstar passenger has become locked in a legal battle with the Aussie airline after exploiting a promotion to get 58 flights for free. </p> <p dir="ltr">Lawyer Tyrone Barugh was one of many travellers who made use of Jetstar’s promotion that offered people a free return fare.</p> <p dir="ltr">Barugh booked a flight from Auckland to Sydney for $260 and received the free return, although he soon cancelled the outbound flight and was given credit with the airline. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, he did not cancel the return trip. </p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Barugh then used the credit to book another flight, before doing the same thing a further 57 times.</p> <p dir="ltr">The would-be passenger told <em>n</em><a href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/travel/man-locked-in-tribunal-battle-with-jetstar-after-booking-58-free-flights/news-story/1e3f67324c952ce232f3a583575d7ddc"><em>ews.com.au</em></a> that he had not planned to board any of the flights, and has taken Jetstar to the Disputes Tribunal of New Zealand, claiming he is entitled to approximately $4,500 in taxes owed on the flights.</p> <p dir="ltr">“They’re [Jetstar] not out here with the most saintly of intentions,” he said. </p> <p dir="ltr">“They have terms and conditions that are designed to potentially avoid having to do the right thing by a lot of their customers and limit their liability to their customers, and they’re pretty happy to pull those out when it suits them.”</p> <p dir="ltr">He claims he is owed the money as he has paid the Passenger Movement Charge,  which is a $60 fee the Australian Government collects when a person leaves the country. </p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Barugh says he would accept a settlement of a “small flight credit and a toy plane”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“There is a spirit of larrikinism,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">A spokesman for Jetstar declined to comment on the case, saying, “As this is a matter before the Tribunal, we won’t be making any comment.” </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Trouble

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10 questions you must ask before booking a tour

<p>A tour can be a memorable experience, for the right and wrong reasons. Here are 10 questions you must ask yourself before booking one on your next holiday.</p> <p><strong>1. Are there minimum or maximum group sizes?</strong></p> <p>This applies for two reasons. Firstly, you need to decide how many people you’d like to travel with. Small group tours will have no more than a dozen or so while larger tours could be up to 50. The size will drastically impact your tour experience, affecting everything from the mode of transport to the type of meals. Secondly, you need to know if there’s a minimum group size needed for the tour to run. If you’re the only one who books you may find it cancelled.</p> <p><strong>2. What is your cancellation/refund policy?</strong></p> <p>As a rule of thumb, you should ask this question about any kind of travel you book before you hand over your cash. With a tour, make sure you find out their policies around inclement weather, too few passengers or if you need to cancel. And as always, travel insurance is your best friend.</p> <p><strong>3. Are you available for support throughout?</strong></p> <p>One of the good things about travelling with a tour is that you’ll have the services of at least one guide. It’s also good to know if the tour office itself is available for assistance when you’re on the road. This comes in handy if you have to make changes, get sick or are unhappy with the experience.</p> <p><strong>4. Do you have any reviews I can read?</strong></p> <p>If you can’t find the tour company on TripAdvisor or a similar review site, ask the company if they have any testimonials from previous customers. Before you make your final decision, it’s nice to know what other people have said about the tour and its style.</p> <p><strong>5. What experience/qualifications do the guides have?</strong></p> <p>Many tour companies now pride themselves on using locals or people who have lived in a country for many years to guide tours. You don’t want to be stuck with someone who just reads from a guidebook – you can do that yourself for half the price. Find out what they know before you go.</p> <p><strong>6. How active is it?</strong></p> <p>There is a huge spectrum when it comes to tours, ranging from coach journeys with very little walking to active treks where you cover hard ground every day. Make sure you find out exactly what will be involved and if that suits your abilities and fitness level. And be realistic – you and the tour group will suffer otherwise.</p> <p><strong>7. What is the demographic?</strong></p> <p>You don’t want to get stuck on a tour with a bunch of 25 year olds who are just looking for the pub. Most people prefer to travel with people around their own age and in similar demographics (such as solo travellers, seniors, families etc), so make sure you find out who is likely to be in your group before you book.</p> <p><strong>8. Is everything included or will I have to pay for extras?</strong></p> <p>You should be able to get a detailed break down of exactly what is – and what isn’t – included in the price. What looked like a good deal can quickly become very expensive if you have to pay for day excursions, admission fees, alcohol or other surprises.</p> <p><strong>9. How much time do you spend in each place?</strong></p> <p>Are you looking to tick many famous sites off your list or do you want to have the time to immerse yourself in a destination? When you’re looking at an itinerary, ask questions about how long you will actually be spending at each place to ensure that you get enough time to really enjoy it.</p> <p><strong>10. Will I get any free time on my own?</strong></p> <p>After many days as part of a group, it’s nice to have some time on your own. You can explore sites that aren’t on your itinerary, try a new restaurant or just have a well deserved nap. Find out how rigid the schedules are and if there will be some time to do your own thing.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

Travel Tips

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"Finally felt like the right time": John Farnham's huge announcement

<p>John Farnham has announced his triumphant return one year on from his cancer surgery, sharing the news of a highly anticipated project. </p> <p>The 74-year-old Aussie music icon is set to tell his story in his own words with the release of his own candid memoir titled <em>The Voice Inside</em>. </p> <p>The autobiography, which will be released on October 30th, is co-written by Poppy Stockwell, who is the award-winning writer and director of the critically acclaimed biopic Finding the Voice.</p> <p>The book documents Farnham's early life and stardom growing up in Melbourne in the 1960s, to his comeback 1986 album <em>Whispering Jack</em>.</p> <p>It will recall the highs and lows of fame, including when his stellar career stalled, record companies turned their backs and he faced financial ruin.</p> <p><em>The Voice Inside</em> will also detail his shocking diagnosis of mouth cancer in 2022 which turned his life upside down. </p> <p>The book was announced on Farnham's Facebook page, with a statement sharing how he felt it was "the right time" to tell his story. </p> <p><iframe style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fjohnfarnham%2Fposts%2Fpfbid02tZwog7QbEW6AxDUxNMp3Kn5msAghjd9yUQe56optBdyX8ZL1DQFm4qvpUYsSjo2Rl&show_text=true&width=500" width="500" height="728" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>"Having been asked many times, it finally felt like the right time to sit down and tell my story," he said.</p> <p>"It is a very strange feeling looking back on my life, on the good and the bad, and now that I have started, it is all rushing back. I hope the book engages and entertains, because that’s what so much of my life has been about."</p> <p>The book will "chart John Farnham’s very personal and public journey, told in his own words and with his inimitable humour, insight, and humility."</p> <p>The post was quickly flooded with comments from fans eager to get their hands on the memoir, while many shared their well wishes as he continues his lengthy recovery from cancer. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Caring

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Rebel Wilson's memoir "pulled from shelves"

<p>Fans hoping to get their hands on a copy of Rebel Wilson's memoir have been left disappointed after the book has been pulled from shelves in Australia. </p> <p>The book, titled <em>Rebel Rising</em>, was released on Wednesday, although numerous retailers have removed the book from their websites, halting sales indefinitely. </p> <p>One of Australia’s biggest book retailers, Amazon, have made the memoir unavailable to order, and noted to customers: “We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock.”</p> <p>On Booktopia.com the book is currently listed as “Unavailable” with no date listed as to when the memoir will be back on-sale.</p> <p>Wilson took to Instagram to celebrate the release of her book, but her post was inundated with comments from frustrated fans in Australia and New Zealand who were questioning why it was no longer available in the region. </p> <p>“I am in Australia and can’t get a copy,” wrote the frustrated fan. “Just went to my local book store and they said it has been recalled to be possibly be re-printed and have parts redacted!! Can we get it in the US?”</p> <p>Fans in the UK appeared to be having the same issue, with many questioning why they couldn’t pick up the book in their own country either.</p> <p>Many were quick to speculate that the reason the book has been pulled from shelves was due to ongoing legal issues with actor Sacha Baron-Cohen, who Wilson named and shamed in the book for acting inappropriately while they were working on a movie together. </p> <p>When the news broke that Wilson was calling out Baron-Cohen for his alleged behaviour, the Aussie actress claimed that Baron-Cohen "threatened" her over the book's release. </p> <p>Taking to her Instagram, Rebel wrote, “I will not be bullied or silenced with high priced lawyer or PR crisis managers. The ‘a**hole’ that I am talking about in ONE CHAPTER of my book is Sacha Baron Cohen.”</p> <p>"Now the a**hole is trying to threaten me. He’s trying to stop press coming out about my new book. But the book WILL come out and you will all know the truth.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Legal

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Rebel Wilson exposes A-lister who "threatened" her over book release

<p>Rebel Wilson has slammed a Hollywood A-lister for allegedly threatening her over the release of her new memoir. </p> <p>The Aussie actress is set to release her autobiography <em>Rebel Rising</em> on April 2nd, which details her rise to stardom from Australia to the US. </p> <p>In the book, she has dedicated a chapter to one particular actor who she had an unfortunate experience with on the set of a movie in 2014. </p> <p>Now, Rebel claims Sacha Baron-Cohen, husband of Aussie actress Isla Fisher, has "threatened" her about the release of such information in the upcoming book. </p> <p>Taking to her Instagram, Rebel named and shamed the actor, writing, “I will not be bullied or silenced with high priced lawyer or PR crisis managers. The ‘a**hole’ that I am talking about in ONE CHAPTER of my book is Sacha Baron Cohen.”</p> <p>"Now the a**hole is trying to threaten me. He’s trying to stop press coming out about my new book. But the book WILL come out and you will all know the truth.”</p> <p>Sacha Baron-Cohen was quick to release a statement in response to the allegations, with his representative sharing the statement with <a href="https://www.tmz.com/2024/03/25/rebel-wilson-calls-out-sacha-baron-cohen-book-memoir/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>TMZ</em></a>. </p> <p>“While we appreciate the importance of speaking out, these demonstrably false claims are directly contradicted by extensive detailed evidence, including contemporaneous documents, film footage, and eyewitness accounts from those present before, during and after the production of The Brothers Grimsby,” the statement said. </p> <p>Wilson and Baron-Cohen worked on the comedy film <em>The Brothers Grimsby</em> in 2014, where Rebel alleges that Baron-Cohen acted sexually inappropriate towards her for the duration of the shoot. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p> </p> <p> </p>

Legal

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Council accused of "endorsing criminals" after statue vandalised

<p>The Yarra City Council has been accused of pandering to those who <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/captain-cook-memorial-vandalised-ahead-of-january-26th" target="_blank" rel="noopener">vandalised</a> a statue of Captain Cook in the days before Australia Day. </p> <p>In the early hours of the morning on January 25th, a statue of the British colonist was sawn off at the ankles, while "The colony will fall" was spray-painted on the stone column. </p> <p>Now, the Victorian city council will vote on whether to remove the statue for good, with one councillor claiming that replacing it would be a "waste of money".</p> <p>However, a spokesperson for local residents said "giving in" to vandals would only encourage such destructive behaviour.</p> <p>"If you're going to let vandals and criminals win, then you might as well give up altogether," Adam Promnitz, founder of the Yarra Residents Collective, told Melbourne radio station <em>3AW</em>.</p> <p>While Mr Promnitz admitted there were changing conversations around Australia Day in the inner Melbourne are,a he said this was the wrong way to have a discussion about removing the 110-year-old statue.</p> <p>"This isn't the right way to do things," he said.</p> <p>"You don't just get your own way by being destructive and anti-social and causing criminal damage."</p> <p>"How can it be a good outcome for any body when it is basically a green light for vandals and criminals everywhere that we'll let you get away with what you want and you'll get what you want if you behave like this?"</p> <p>Councillor Stephen Jolly said the majority of the council didn't share this view, telling the <em>Herald Sun</em> that replacing the statue would come at a cost that would better spent elsewhere in the community. </p> <p>"Even people who love Captain Cook, who love Australia Day, will see that repairing a statue that costs thousands to fix isn't the most important thing to spend money on," Cr Jolly said.</p> <p>"Residents want better bin services, more childcare services, cheaper swimming pools."</p> <p>"All of these things are a better way of spending the money [than] on a statue that we know is absolutely certain is going to get ripped down again."</p> <p><em>Image credits: 9News</em></p>

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Captain Cook memorial vandalised ahead of January 26th

<p>A memorial honouring Captain Cook in Catani Gardens, St  Kilda has been vandalised ahead of Australia Day. </p> <p>The statue of the British colonialist was cleanly sawn off from its stone base, which was also defaced with red graffiti and the chilling message: “The colony will fall”.</p> <p>The memorial is believed to have been cut down around 3:30 am on Thursday, after members of the public alerted police. </p> <p>“Several people were seen loitering in the area around the time of the incident,” police said.</p> <p>Liberal MP Angus Taylor called the incident an “egregious act of vandalism" and said that it is one of the acts that "everyone should condemn.”</p> <p>“Captain Cook was a man of the enlightenment. Why would they do this to I think a great human being,” he said on <em>Today</em>.</p> <p>Port Phillip councillor Marcus Pearl described the incident as “disheartening” and called for the vandal to be held accountable for their actions. </p> <p>“This is not a solitary act of mischief,” he said.</p> <p>“It’s a repeated pattern of disrespect, especially evident around Australia Day for the past six years. Such acts blatantly disregard our community’s hard-fought principles of debate and democratic expression.”</p> <p>The Captain Cook statue has been a target of multiple vandalism attempts, with vandals covering it in bright coloured paint, both in 2018 and 2022. </p> <p>The Port Phillip councillor has urged people not to let this incident “fuel division” but instead drive “constructive, inclusive conversations." </p> <p>“Our community’s strength lies in its ability to engage in respectful and open discussions,” he said.</p> <p><em>Images: Today</em></p> <p> </p>

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Readers Respond: What's a book you love that most people have never heard of?

<p>Looking for a new book to kickstart your year?  Look no further we've got you covered. </p> <p>Here are a few of our reader's book recommendations that you may not have heard of. </p> <p><strong>Ruth Fontaine</strong> - I’m reading <em>We of the Never Never </em>atm. Not sure if it’s still well known. I’ve read it before but awhile back and love it. I love reading how they lived nearly 120 years ago. </p> <p><strong>Elaine Rosenberg</strong> - <em>The Abbey Girls Series</em> by Elsie J Oxenham.</p> <p><strong>Maryika Welter</strong> - <em>The courage to be disliked.</em> ... Furmitake Kogan, Ichiro Kishimi.</p> <p><strong>Janice Stewart</strong> - <em>A Fortunate Life</em> by Albert Facey</p> <p><strong>Suzanne Midson</strong> - <em>On Our Selection</em> by Steele Rudd. Read it when I was about 10/12. Best laugh ever. Australian humour at its best.</p> <p><strong>Julie Anderson</strong> - <em>Episode of Sparrows</em> by Rumor Goddin </p> <p><strong>Nancie Golsby</strong> - <em>The Half Burned Tree</em> by Dympna Cusack</p> <p><strong>June Maynard</strong> - Sahara, by Paula Constant. Preceded by Slow Journey South. A thrilling, actual account of her adventure.</p> <p><strong>Peter Rayner </strong>- <em>Enforcer</em> by Caesar Campbell</p> <p><strong>Meg Milton</strong> - <em>I Heard the Owl Call My Name</em> by Margaret Craven</p> <p><strong>Edie Dore</strong> - <em>The Curious Incident of the Dog </em>in the Night-time by Mark Haddon.</p> <p><strong>Christine Cornforth</strong> - <em>A Grief Observed</em> by CS Lewis. </p> <p><strong>Wendy Oliver</strong> - <em>The Good Earth</em> by Pearl Buck</p> <p>Do you have any other recommendations that we might have missed?</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

Books

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"You're entitled to know": Piers Morgan reveals names of "royal racists"

<p>Piers Morgan has revealed the names of the senior royal family members who allegedly made "racist" <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/entertainment/books/new-royal-book-pulled-from-shelves-over-huge-legal-blunder" target="_blank" rel="noopener">comments</a> about baby Archie's skin colour. </p> <p>Mystery has surrounded the new royal family exposé <em>Endgame</em>, written by Omid Scobie, after he claimed to know which royals allegedly made the comments when Meghan Markle was pregnant with her first child. </p> <p>Then, in a Dutch translation of the book being sold in The Netherlands, the names were <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/second-royal-racist-accidentally-named-in-new-book" target="_blank" rel="noopener">accidentally</a> printed in an "error", but kept out of the press for legal reason. </p> <p>But now, controversial British journalist Piers Morgan has revealed the names that feature in the translated book, which is quickly being cleared from shelves, saying people have the right to know. </p> <p>On Wednesday’s episode of <em>Piers Morgan Uncensored</em>, the British broadcaster revealed the names of the two royals who allegedly had “concerns” about baby Archie's skin tone, although saying he doesn't believe any such comments were made. </p> <p>He explained to his viewers that he doesn’t “believe any racist comments were ever made by any of the royal family,” he felt that his fellow citizens had a right to know information that only a handful of readers from another country were inadvertently privy to.</p> <p>“Frankly, if Dutch people wandering into a bookshop can pick it up and see these names, then you — the British people here, who actually pay for the British royal family — you’re entitled to know, too.”</p> <p>According to <em><a href="https://www.news.com.au/entertainment/celebrity-life/royals/piers-morgan-reveals-names-of-royals-exposed-in-bombshell-book-questioning-archies-skin-colour/news-story/7b499c1baa1a40116cbc07c7b26069d6" target="_blank" rel="noopener">news.com.au</a></em> and <em><a href="https://pagesix.com/2023/11/29/royal-family/piers-morgan-reveals-names-of-royals-exposed-in-book-for-commenting-on-archies-skin-color/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Page Six</a></em>, Morgan said the names are King Charles III and Princess Kate Middleton. </p> <p>Despite Morgan's claims, Page Six has been unable to verify which names were accidentally revealed. </p> <p>Given the controversy surrounding the book, Xander Publishers announced that it received a request from the United States to abruptly halt sales of the book.</p> <p>“I can’t talk about the details,” a spokesperson for the publishing house said in a statement.</p> <p>“We have, however, received a request to put the title on hold, and that is what we have done. We are awaiting further instructions. I do not know how long this will be.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Piers Morgan Uncensored</em></p>

Legal

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Second “royal racist” accidentally named in new book

<p>A second member of the royal family has been accused of being "racist", after the bombshell royal exposé implied them in the scandal over baby Archie's skin colour. </p> <p>In Omid Scobie's new book <em>Endgame</em>, he discusses the comments that members of the royal family made to Meghan Markle when she was pregnant with baby Archie. </p> <p>Markle first shared the bombshell allegations in her tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021, but she refused to name the royal family member who made the comments, saying, “I think that would be very damaging to them.”</p> <p>On Wednesday, reports emerged that copies of the book were being <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/entertainment/books/new-royal-book-pulled-from-shelves-over-huge-legal-blunder" target="_blank" rel="noopener">pulled from shelves</a> as the Dutch translation of the book accidentally named the person involved in the scandal.</p> <p>Omid Scobie admitted he does know who made the comments, but UK libel laws prevented him from naming them in the book. </p> <p>Now, as copies of the tell-all book have been flying off shelves, it seems another member of the royal family has been implicated in the book, which is now said to be frantically being pulled from shelves.</p> <p>It comes after Mr Scobie denied responsibility for the Dutch translation of his new book “accidentally naming” a member of the Royal Family.</p> <p>Publishers Xander Uitgevers yesterday said they were seeking to remove Mr Scobie’s work from bookshelves saying there had been an “error”.</p> <p>Speaking to Dutch TV on Wednesday night, Mr Scobie defended his book, saying, “The book is in several languages, and unfortunately I do not speak Dutch”.</p> <p>“But if there are translation errors, I’m sure the publishers will have it under control."</p> <p>“I wrote and edited the English version. There’s never been no version that I’ve produced that has names in it.”</p> <p>In the English version, Mr Scobie writes, “In the pages of these private letters [given to Oprah by Markle], two identities were revealed. UK laws prevent me from reporting who they were”.</p> <p>But the Dutch version reads, “In those private letters, an identity was revealed and confirmed” — before going on to name a senior royal.</p> <p>Dutch royal reporter Rick Evers says he was one of only two journalists to be given a manuscript of <em>Endgame</em> last Wednesday.</p> <p>Mr Evers said, “I was shocked that no one else in the world mentioned the fact that a member of the royals was named in the book as the racist”.</p> <p>“That was the main accusation in the book that I noticed and what I put in my (review) article, which was published with a photo of that royal."</p> <p>“I began to question if it was only my manuscript that had the name in it. I went to get the book from a store and it was exactly the same,” Mr Evers said.</p> <p>“A woman called from the publisher saying there was a legal problem and my article had to be removed.”</p> <p>It is unclear how the error occurred, but Mr Scobie confirmed that the first royal family member named in the book is not the one stated in the letters from Meghan Markle. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Legal

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New royal book pulled from shelves over huge legal blunder

<p>Copies of an explosive new book about the royal family are being pulled from shelves and destroyed after a translation error "accidentally named" the alleged "royal racist". </p> <p>Sales of the new book <em>Endgame</em>, written by Omid Scobie who also wrote <em>Finding Freedom</em> about Harry and Meghan's exit from the royal family, were "temporarily" put on hold just days after its release after what has been labelled an error. </p> <p>According to Xander, the publishers of the Dutch edition of Scobie's book, a translation error led to a member of the royal family being identified as the person who made comments about baby Archie's skin colour. </p> <p>“[We are] temporarily withdrawing the book by Omid Scobie from sale. An error occurred in the Dutch translation and is currently being rectified,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday.</p> <p>Meanwhile, <em><a href="https://www.thesun.co.uk/royals/24884315/royal-racist-accidentally-named-omid-scobie/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Sun</a></em> claims that thousands of copies of the book are now being destroyed as a result.</p> <p>The "racist royal" scandal dates back to when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sat down with Oprah Winfrey for a tell-all interview in 2021, when Markle  alleged that while she was pregnant with their first child, Prince Archie, there were “concerns and conversations” from a member of the royal family about how dark his skin might be.</p> <p>The Duchess of Sussex stopped short of naming the person involved, telling Winfrey, “I think that would be very damaging to them.”</p> <p>In the original edition of his book, Scobie also declines to identify the royal, claiming libel laws prevented him from doing so – although he has confirmed he knows who it is.</p> <p>“I do know who made the comments about Archie’s skin colour,” he told UK program <em>Good Morning</em> during his book press tour.</p> <p>“The names were mentioned in letters between Meghan and Charles that were exchanged sometime after the Oprah interview."</p> <p>“We know from sources that Charles was horrified that that’s how Meghan felt. Those conversations were, and that he wanted to, sort of as a representative for the family, have that conversation with her.</p> <p>“And it is why I personally think they have been able to move forward with some kind of line of communication afterwards. Though they may not see eye-to-eye on it.”</p> <p>It’s understood the royal family member accidentally named in the Dutch edition was not the person Meghan had been referring to.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Harper Collins</em></p>

Books

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8 signs you should be booking a group tour

<p>Not sure if you should take a tour or go it alone? These are the times you’re going to want that expert on hand.</p> <p><strong>1. When you’re on a really tight schedule</strong></p> <p>A tour will help you squeeze in as much as possible in a very short time. It will plan out a sensible itinerary with no backtracking or wasted journeys and will give you a realistic idea of how much you can fit in for a day. Plus you won’t have to puzzle out public transport for yourself.</p> <p><strong>2. When you’re feeling nervous</strong></p> <p>Arriving in a new place can be scary sometimes, so having someone to walk you through it will make all the difference. If a city has a reputation for being unsafe or if it’s just your first time in a foreign country, a tour will give you a great worry-free introduction.</p> <p><strong>3. When there’s a big language barrier</strong></p> <p>We’re lucky in that much of the world speaks English, so we can usually muddle our way around. But in some countries you’ll find there’s a significant language barrier, so having a native speaker is going to make all the difference.</p> <p><strong>4. When you want to meet some locals</strong></p> <p>This might sound counterintuitive, but an organised tour can be one of the best ways to meet some locals. First of all, your guide is likely to be local and can introduce you to their hometown. Secondly, it’s daunting to walk into a crowded bar or cool café when you don’t know anyone. A guide can smooth the way and ensure you don’t get stuck in tourist traps.</p> <p><strong>5. When it’s really busy</strong></p> <p>If you don’t fancy joining the huge line outside a popular museum or waiting hours for tickets, a tour could be the way to go. They can often organise private or after hours visits, get special passes to cut the line or take you to areas that are off limits to the general public.</p> <p><strong>6. When it’s the law</strong></p> <p>Want to visit North Korea? You’re going to need to join a tour. Some governments have restrictions in place that mean foreign tourists can only visit when accompanied by a registered tour guide and independent travel is simply not an option.</p> <p><strong>7. When you’re doing something really adventurous</strong></p> <p>Trekking, white water rafting, canyoning or safaris – for safety reasons you’re going to need to join a tour. These kinds of activities can be dangerous, so you don’t want to be risking them on your own. A tour or private guide will show you the best way to get your heart pumping.</p> <p><strong>8. When you’re going right off the grid</strong></p> <p>Places like Antarctica, the Arctic, remote corners of Africa or tricky countries like Russia are best done on a tour. Often the logistics of simply getting there are impossible for the independent traveller or you will need help navigating the complex visa process. In these instances, it’s a relief to put yourself in someone else’s hands and just concentrate on having fun.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Travel Tips

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Victoria Beckham's cooking skills hilariously slammed by her own daughter

<p>Victoria Beckham's cooking skills have been playfully roasted by her daughter, Harper Beckham.</p> <p>In an Instagram story shared to her 31.4 million followers, the former Spice Girl documented a family baking session featuring herself, husband David Beckham, and their daughter Harper.</p> <p>David was filmed in the middle of whipping up an apple crumble using apples from the "Beckham Orchard," while Harper was busy baking chocolate chip cookies.</p> <p>While the father-daughter duo were channeling their inner baker, Victoria was filming the moment and asked Harper whether she inherited her culinary talents from her mum or dad.</p> <p>"Did you learn to cook from daddy or mummy?" Victoria asked Harper in the light-hearted clip.</p> <p>With a mischievous grin, Harper retorted, "Mummy, you can't even make cereal!"</p> <p>"Oh wow, Mummy can't even make cereal," Victoria responded. </p> <p>"Well you can make chicken Kiev but that comes from M&amp;S," the 12-year-old said, adding insult to injury. </p> <p>M&amp;S (Marks and Spencer) is the local British retailer, which specialises in clothing, food and home products among other things. </p> <p>Victoria hilariously captioned the video: "I get it Harper… I can't cook."</p> <p>The Beckhams often invite fans into their kitchen through their social media, and document their cooking escapades. </p> <p>Watch the full clip <a href="https://kitchen.nine.com.au/latest/harper-beckham-roasts-mum-victoria-beckham-cooking-skills-in-new-clip/e538cdaa-f295-427d-b334-4bb7351da1bd" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a>. </p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Booking customers on flights that were cancelled – how could Qantas do that?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/volodymyr-bilotkach-145437">Volodymyr Bilotkach</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/purdue-university-1827">Purdue University</a></em></p> <p>Fining Qantas <a href="https://www.atn.aero/#/article.html?id=87951">A$600 million</a> if it is found to have knowingly sold so-called “ghost flights” would be fair, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.</p> <p>The commission this week <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/accc-takes-court-action-alleging-qantas-advertised-flights-it-had-already-cancelled">launched action</a> in the Federal Court alleging Qantas engaged in false, misleading or deceptive conduct by selling tickets on flights that had already been cancelled, and not informing passengers of cancellations in a timely manner.</p> <p>The regulator’s charges against the airline, which last month reported a record <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/aug/24/qantas-delivers-record-247bn-profit">$2.47 billion profit</a>, have precipitated the early exit of longtime chief executive Alan Joyce, who quit this week two months ahead of schedule. This court challenge will certainly add to the workload of his successor, Vanessa Hudson.</p> <p>Qantas <a href="https://www.atn.aero/#/article.html?id=87951">has acknowledged</a> that service standards might have slipped as the airline was struggling to recover after the pandemic.</p> <p>The nature of the oversights that led to the airline’s errors will determine the airline’s liability – both to the consumer regulator and to individual claims for compensation.</p> <p>Importantly, the case also points to the need for greater regulatory protection of the airline’s passengers, in line with other jurisdictions.</p> <h2>How did Qantas get in this mess?</h2> <p>The short answer, most likely, is that the carrier did not handle flight cancellations promptly due to the sheer volume of work and labour shortages as it sought to resume operations following the end of pandemic restrictions.</p> <p>The consumer regulator’s allegations relate specifically to May and June 2022. Australia lifted many of its COVID-related travel restrictions in <a href="https://www.voanews.com/a/australia-lifts-covid-restrictions-and-welcomes-travelers-/6451955.html">March</a>, and travellers entering the country <a href="https://www.travelpulse.com/news/destinations/australia-lifts-remaining-covid-19-travel-restrictions">after July 6</a> were not required to show proof of vaccination. The airline was trying to bring its planes back into service and hire or retrain its employees, and generally was struggling to get back to more or less normal operations.</p> <p>In its statement, the competition watchdog noted the carrier cancelled nearly one in four flights scheduled during that period; and for two out of three cancelled flights it either continued selling tickets or failed to inform the passengers –sometimes for extended periods of time – or both.</p> <p>Flight cancellations are a normal part of an airline’s operations. However, the “usual” cancellation rate is <a href="https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/air-travel-consumer-report-march-2023-and-1st-quarter-2023-numbers#:%7E:text=DOT%20remains%20committed%20to%20ensuring,first%20three%20months%20of%202022.">less than 2%</a>, less than a tenth of what Qantas experienced in May and June 2022. What is unusual is that Qantas did not immediately remove cancelled flights from its booking system. This is something I have never heard of.</p> <p>One also suspects the airline has had enough “practice” with schedule adjustment during the pandemic to know better. There are clearly gaps in the carrier’s management. It has lessons to learn from this debacle.</p> <h2>What is Qantas’ liability?</h2> <p>The question of the extent of the airline’s liability is not straightforward. Obviously, a business willingly selling a product or service it has no intention to deliver is at fault, and has to face consequences.</p> <p>At the same time, a business selling a product that has defects it is unaware of, despite doing its best to prevent such defects from occurring, will face certain costs (such as those associated with a product recall) but may be spared sanctions.</p> <p>The onus will be on Qantas to demonstrate it made an honest mistake rather than a lapse of judgement. But considering the scale of the problem, the airline faces a very difficult task here.</p> <h2>Individual claims pending</h2> <p>As well as a potential fine, Qantas should brace for a flood of claims from individual passengers who bought a ticket for an already cancelled flight or were not informed in a timely manner.</p> <p>Timing will be of the essence here. If a passenger incurred expenses assuming the flight was operating when it had already been cancelled, such as making a non-refundable hotel reservation, there is a case to request compensation for such expenses.</p> <p>Otherwise, the standard policy will apply: the airline is not usually responsible for any non-refundable and uninsured expenses a passenger incurs prior to the flight cancellation.</p> <h2>Closing the regulatory gap</h2> <p>The regulator should, however, also take a closer look at the existing air passenger rights in Australia.</p> <p>Currently, <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/specific-products-and-activities/travel-delays-and-cancellations">the consumer is entitled to replacement or refund</a> if an airline does not provide services “in a reasonable time” - that is, in the event of a lengthy delay or a flight cancellation. However, the definition of “reasonable time” and the specifics of the compensation policies are left to the airlines.</p> <p>In other parts of the world, actions have been or are being taken to strengthen customer protection. For instance, in <a href="https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/passenger-rights/air/index_en.htm">the European Union</a>, lengthy delays that are the airlines’ fault lead to the carriers paying out cash compensation as well as the cost of accommodation and meals.</p> <p>Similar regulations <a href="https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/dot-propose-requirements-airlines-cover-expenses-and-compensate-stranded-passengers">were proposed in the United States</a> earlier this year.</p> <p>Perhaps, if stronger consumer protection rules had been in place in Australia in 2022, Qantas would have managed the aftermath of flight cancellations more diligently.<!-- 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/212793/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/volodymyr-bilotkach-145437">Volodymyr Bilotkach</a>, Associate Professor, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/purdue-university-1827">Purdue 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/booking-customers-on-flights-that-were-cancelled-how-could-qantas-do-that-212793">original article</a>.</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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"I didn't do anything. I love them": Woman who cooked meal with deadly mushrooms speaks out

<p>A Victorian woman who cooked the meal that resulted in the suspected mushroom poisoning,  which left three elderly family members dead and one fighting for his life has tearfully broken her silence. </p> <p>Erin Patterson, 48, served the lunch to four people at Leongatha on July 29, including her former in-laws Don and Gail Patterson, who after falling sick later that evening, passed away from symptoms consistent with death cap mushroom poisoning.  </p> <p>Gail's sister Heather Wilkinson also passed away, with Heather’s husband, Ian in a critical condition at Melbourne’s Austin Hospital after suffering from the suspected poisoning. </p> <p>"I didn't do anything. I love them," Erin told  <em>A Current Affair. </em></p> <p>A clearly distraught Erin confused Don for Ian, who is currently being treated for his symptoms. </p> <p>"I'm devastated that they're gone and I hope with every fibre of my being that Don pulls through."</p> <p>“I’m so devastated by what’s happened, by the loss of Don, Don is still in hospital, by the loss of Ian and Heather and Gail," she repeated. </p> <p>“They were some of the best people I’ve ever met.</p> <p>“Gail was like the mum I didn’t have because my mum passed away four years ago, Gail had never been anything but good and kind to me,” she added.</p> <p>“Ian and Heather were some of the best people I’d ever met. They never did anything wrong to me.</p> <p>“I’m so devastated about what’s happened and the loss to the community and to the families and to my own children. They've lost their grandmother," she said, and added that she felt "so sorry" that they lost their lives.</p> <p>Erin was interviewed by police and later on released. Officials had also removed her two children from her care as a “precaution”. </p> <p>Homicide Squad Detective Inspector Dean Thomas also added that police are still determining whether this was an accident or a crime. </p> <p>“We’re working to determine what has gone on, to see if there is any nefarious activity that has occurred or if it was accidental.”</p> <p>“We have to keep an open mind,” he said.</p> <p>Police were also still unsure where the mushrooms were sourced from, and that it was a "complex case". </p> <p><em>Image: A Current Affair</em></p>

Legal

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Cooking (and heating) without gas: what are the impacts of shifting to all-electric homes?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/trivess-moore-12580">Trivess Moore</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alan-pears-52">Alan Pears</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/joe-hurley-157161">Joe Hurley</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em></p> <p>Gas connections for all new housing and sub-divisions will be <a href="https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/new-victorian-homes-go-all-electric-2024">banned in Victoria</a> from January 1 next year. The long-term result of the state government’s significant change to planning approvals will be all-electric housing. The ACT made <a href="https://www.climatechoices.act.gov.au/policy-programs/preventing-new-gas-network-connections">similar changes</a> early this year, in line with a shift away from gas across <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47559920">Europe</a> and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/19/gas-stove-culture-war-united-states">other locations</a>, although the NSW Premier Chris Minns has <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/jul/31/nsw-wont-ban-gas-in-new-homes-as-premier-declares-i-dont-need-another-complication">baulked</a> at doing the same.</p> <p>Around <a href="https://www.energy.vic.gov.au/renewable-energy/victorias-gas-substitution-roadmap">80% of homes</a> in Victoria are connected to gas. This high uptake was driven by gas being seen as more affordable and sustainable than electricity over past decades. The situation has <a href="https://www.iea.org/events/net-zero-by-2050-a-roadmap-for-the-global-energy-system">changed dramatically</a> as renewable electricity generation increases and <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-07-27/aemo-wholesale-electricity-prices-fall-impact-power-bills/102654498">costs fall</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/all-electric-homes-are-better-for-your-hip-pocket-and-the-planet-heres-how-governments-can-help-us-get-off-gas-207409">Research</a> has suggested for more than a decade that the benefits of all-electric homes <a href="https://bze.org.au/research_release/energy-efficient-buildings-plan/">stack up in many locations</a>. New homes built under mandatory building energy performance standards (increasing from <a href="https://thefifthestate.com.au/innovation/building-construction/victoria-kicks-the-can-down-the-road-again-on-the-national-construction-code/">6 to 7 stars</a> in Victoria in May 2024) need smaller, cheaper heating and cooling systems. Installing reverse-cycle air conditioning for cooling provides a cost-effective heater as a bonus.</p> <p>Savings from not requiring gas pipes, appliances and gas supply infrastructure help to offset the costs of highly efficient electric appliances. Mandating fully electric homes means economies of scale will further reduce costs.</p> <h2>How does this ban help?</h2> <p>To achieve environmentally sustainable development, reforms of planning policy and regulation <a href="https://theconversation.com/sustainable-cities-australias-building-and-planning-rules-stand-in-the-way-of-getting-there-84263">are essential</a> to convert innovation and best practice to mainstream practice. Planning policy is particularly important for apartment buildings and other housing that may be rented or have an owners’ corporation. Retrofits to improve energy efficiency can be difficult in these situations.</p> <p>Banning gas in new and renovated housing will <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/report/getting-off-gas/">cut greenhouse gas emissions</a>. It’s also <a href="https://theconversation.com/gas-cooking-is-associated-with-worsening-asthma-in-kids-but-proper-ventilation-helps-151591">healthier for households</a> and <a href="https://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/research-data-and-insights/research/research-reports/the-victorian-healthy-homes-program-research-findings">reduces healthcare costs</a> as well as <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/report/getting-off-gas/">energy bills and infrastructure costs</a>. The Victorian government suggests the change will save all-electric households <a href="https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/new-victorian-homes-go-all-electric-2024">about $1,000 a year</a>. Houses with solar will be even better off.</p> <p>The government appears to be offering wide support to ensure these changes happen, but this will need to be monitored closely.</p> <p>Some households will face extra costs for electric appliances and solar panels. The government’s announcement of <a href="https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/new-victorian-homes-go-all-electric-2024">$10 million</a> for Residential Electrification Grants should help with some of these costs while the industry adjusts.</p> <p>There will be impacts and benefits for the local economy. Some jobs may be lost, particularly in the gas appliance and plumbing industry. The government has announced financial support to retrain people and they will still have essential roles in the existing housing sector.</p> <p>Many gas appliances are imported, including ovens, cooktops and instantaneous gas water heaters. Some components of efficient electric products, such as hot water storage tanks, are made locally. Local activities, including distribution, sales, design, installation and maintenance, comprise much of the overall cost.</p> <h2>Challenges of change must be managed</h2> <p>Sustainability benefits will depend on what <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/report/getting-off-gas/">happens with the energy network</a>. We need more renewable energy, energy storage and smarter management of electricity demand.</p> <p>The shift to all-electric homes may mean winter peak demand for heating increases. Energy market operators and governments will have to monitor demand changes carefully to avoid the reliability issues we already see in summer. However, improving energy efficiency, energy storage and demand management will help reduce this load (and household costs).</p> <p>While the benefits are clear for new homes, the changes may <a href="https://www.bsl.org.au/research/publications/enabling-electrification/">increase gas costs and energy poverty</a> for residents of existing housing who don’t shift to efficient electric solutions. The government has reconfirmed financial rebates to help households switch from gas.</p> <p>In addition, existing housing may face building quality and performance issues. Some may require electrical wiring upgrades as part of the transition.</p> <p>Social acceptance of some electric appliances may also be an issue. For example, <a href="https://www.rmit.edu.au/about/schools-colleges/property-construction-and-project-management/research/research-centres-and-groups/sustainable-building-innovation-laboratory/projects/heet-housing-energy-efficiency-transitions">our research</a> has found some households dislike the way heating from reverse cycle air conditioners feels. Others do not like cooking on induction cooktops.</p> <p>Consumer education and modifications to appliances and buildings may be needed to increase acceptance and avoid backlash.</p> <p>Some electric appliances are available overseas but not in Australia. Higher demand may increase the range of imports. For example, floor-mounted heat pumps can make heating feel similar to gas heating while still providing effective cooling.</p> <p>We should not assume electric appliances are all equal. To improve consumer protection, action is needed on weak standards and limited and inconsistent public information. For example, information on noise levels and efficiency under a range of weather conditions must be standardised.</p> <p>Moving housing away from gas is an <a href="https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-981-99-2760-9">important step</a> in the transition to a zero-carbon economy and energy system. Careful management is needed to ensure this transition is effective, accepted and fair.</p> <p>Continued planning reforms are also essential to ensure environmentally sustainable development of housing and communities. Other urgent priorities include urban cooling and greening, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/turning-the-housing-crisis-around-how-a-circular-economy-can-give-us-affordable-sustainable-homes-208745">circular economy approaches</a> to reduce the material and waste impacts of housing and thus the carbon that goes into building and running homes.<!-- 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/210649/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/trivess-moore-12580">Trivess Moore</a>, Senior Lecturer, School of Property, Construction and Project Management, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alan-pears-52">Alan Pears</a>, Senior Industry Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/joe-hurley-157161">Joe Hurley</a>, Associate Professor, Sustainability and Urban Planning, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT 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/cooking-and-heating-without-gas-what-are-the-impacts-of-shifting-to-all-electric-homes-210649">original article</a>.</em></p>

Home & Garden

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US school teacher sacked after reading Aussie book to class

<p dir="ltr">A US primary school teacher is forced to resign or terminate her contract after reading an Aussie book to her class.</p> <p dir="ltr">Katie Rinderle, from Cobb County, Georgia wanted to teach her fifth graders about inclusion and acceptance through Aussie author Scott Stuart’s book, <em>My Shadow is Purple</em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">The book itself explores this through the theme of “gender beyond the binary” and the story of a child who neither identifies as a boy or girl.</p> <p dir="ltr">Rinderle discussed the main message behind the book before asking them to reflect and write their own poem, which has been praised by some parents.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, not all of them were happy about Rinderle’s initiative and one parent filed a complaint which led to an investigation.</p> <p dir="ltr">Rinderle was sacked for violating the Divisive Concepts law, which disallows teachers from educating about divisive concepts and was given the notice of termination on June 6.</p> <p dir="ltr">Investigators reportedly deemed the book to be “pornographic” material which included “inappropriate topics”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Stuart, the author of the book, responded to the situation and shared his “disgust” on <a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@scott.creates/video/7247741499775995137?lang=en" target="_blank" rel="noopener">TikTok</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">“A teacher’s just been fired for reading one of my books,” he said in the video.</p> <p dir="ltr">“(She) had parents reaching out saying that this kind of lesson was something that they wanted in the class. This is a teacher who gets phenomenal feedback from the principal, the students, the parents.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Her teaching is described as transformative and key to the school’s success,” he defended Rinderle.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This whole thing just really goes to show how much more interested the school system in the US is in playing politics than they are in educating kids,” he added</p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s gross. It’s disgusting.”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Cobb County School District has responded to the situation in a statement to<em> FOX 5 a</em>nd claimed that any action taken was “appropriate considering the entirety of the teacher’s behaviour and history”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The District remains committed to strictly enforcing all Board policy, and the law,” the statement concluded.</p> <p dir="ltr">Rinderle will face a termination hearing in August.</p> <p style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px 0px 5px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #323338; font-family: Figtree, Roboto, Rubik, 'Noto Kufi Arabic', 'Noto Sans JP', sans-serif; background-color: #ffffff; outline: none !important;"><em>Images: TikTok</em></p>

Books

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How to start your own book club

<p>Starting a book club is easy – all you need is to love reading. Here’s how to get yours off to a flying start.</p> <p><strong>Finding Fellow Readers</strong></p> <p>Ask around your existing personal networks, including neighbours, friends, social media, or a community noticeboard. Once you mention you want to start a club, you’ll be surprised how many people may want to come along. Ask at your local bookshop and library for ideas – many run regular reading groups and can point you in the right direction for good books. Identify what common interests you and your group have and use these to help draw like-minded people. Once you start looking, you’ll find book clubs for men or women, seniors, sci-fi lovers, teenagers or cookery buffs.</p> <p><strong>The Time, the Place</strong></p> <p>Once you have a group, agree on how often you want to meet – typically clubs meet monthly, though the time-poor may want to make it bi-monthly.</p> <p>For many clubs, meeting at home works best as you don’t have to get dressed up, and noisy public venues can make talking hard. If members bring a plate of food or a bottle, it takes the pressure off the host. But try rotating your meeting location as this will help to stimulate fresh thoughts.</p> <p><strong>Idea</strong></p> <p>Tailor your venue according to the book’s subject matter. The Light Between the Oceans by M.L. Stedman was discussed over fish’n’chips by one club, while The Red Tent by Anita Diamant was chewed over at a Middle Eastern restaurant.</p> <p><strong>Size Matters</strong></p> <p>According to Christine Callen, a book club veteran of 15 years, you need a minimum number of people per meeting to make it interesting. “Seven is the magic number – fewer and there’s not enough for healthy debate,” she says. “You can have ten people in the club – not everyone will be able to make it every time – seven provides enough opinions.”</p> <p><strong>Choosing the Books</strong></p> <p>If you’re the club instigator, it’s easier if you pick the first book. Seek out book reviews in good magazines and newspapers and at bookshops. The flavour of the books you choose will be largely dictated by the personalities attending – you might like to have a wide range of genres from sci-fi to romance to travel epics. Or stick to one genre, such as history books. Decide on a strategy and a time frame – say five to 12 books across the year – then review how everything appeals to the majority.</p> <p>Take turns to come up with a list of four or five titles, then circulate the list via email shortly after your last discussion.</p> <p>Members can then vote on their preferred next book and meeting time. The member scheduled to host the next meeting coordinates the responses to decide the title and date most voted for.</p> <p><strong>Starting Discussion</strong></p> <p>Callen recommends beginning by asking all members to briefly give their opinion on the book. “Everyone arrives and has a drink to loosen up,” she explains. “Then we take it in turns to go around the room and each give the book a mark out of ten, saying in a few sentences what we liked or disliked about it. This gives everyone a chance to speak early in the night and stops one person dominating the conversation from the start.”</p> <p><strong>Tip</strong></p> <p>There is no one way to interpret a book. In fact, differing opinions are good.</p> <p><em>This article first appeared in <a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/home-tips/How-to-Start-Your-Own-Book-Club">Reader’s Digest</a>. </em></p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Books

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"Forgotten pizza cook" Pete Evans' wild new look

<p dir="ltr">Former Seven personality Pete Evans has made an unexpected appearance on social media, though many took a moment longer than usual to realise who it was they were looking at in the clip.</p> <p dir="ltr">The former chef and <em>My Kitchen Rules</em> judge was a far cry from the polished persona audiences had come to expect from his days at the helm of the hit cooking competition, roaming through an outdoor kitchen in a ‘Food is Medicine’ t-shirt and unexpected mullet cut.</p> <p dir="ltr">The footage marked a new chapter in Evans’ public fall from grace, and as one account sharing the content wrote, it had “captured a quick raw video of the set up” for a cooking retreat with eight guests and “approx 25 recipes”.</p> <p dir="ltr">It did provide some insight into Evans’ new ‘career’ path, with the chef having turned his back on the entertainment industry in 2020, after 11 years as a household name hosting <em>My Kitchen Rules</em>. </p> <p dir="ltr">His controversial opinions on health - and his mounting support in conspiracy theories as well as his non-scientifics views - had initially turned attention his way, but it was his take on the global COVID-19 pandemic that sealed his fate. </p> <p dir="ltr">Also in 2020, Evans received a $25,000 fine from the TGA for his part in peddling a $15,000 ‘Biocharger’ device with the incorrect claim that it could combat the coronavirus.</p> <p dir="ltr">Evans was quickly removed from social media - namely Facebook and Instagram - for spreading misinformation during the pandemic, and lost 15 different sponsors in just 38 hours after sharing a meme that contained a neo-Nazi symbol with his remaining followers. It was estimated that the latter act alone could cost Evans millions of dollars.</p> <p dir="ltr">In the time since, Evans has purchased a $1 million tourist ‘healing’ retreat close to Byron Bay, where he offers the likes of ‘fasting retreats’ - charging $2250 a head for a “5-day juice, water, and froth fast” with Evans.</p> <p dir="ltr">When news of the venture broke on social media, opinion poured in thick and fast, with most condemning the experience. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, it wasn’t enough to keep Evans from returning to the internet, with the 50-year-old launching his presence on the alternative platform, Telegram, where he shares the likes of detail on his retreats, his experience with bitcoin, anti-vaccination takes, and right-wing political opinion.</p> <p dir="ltr">As one user wrote in response - and on behalf of the majority - to the fresh footage of the disgraced chef, “I won’t have what he’s having”. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Obviously vaccines are bad. Not ‘licking toads’ though. That’s cool. Forgotten pizza cook Pete Evans continues to have a normal one. <a href="https://twitter.com/krunchymoses?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@krunchymoses</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/petesscience?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@petesscience</a> <a href="https://t.co/a5fDzGIups">pic.twitter.com/a5fDzGIups</a></p> <p>— Cam (@camliveshere) <a href="https://twitter.com/camliveshere/status/1664565941219508225?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 2, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p dir="ltr">“This is a hard second-hand cringe,” one said. </p> <p dir="ltr">“And here I was thinking that scone of his couldn't get any more offensive,” another said. “I was wrong.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“So funny, and sad at same time hope he is ok,” one wrote, “but I have had 4 vax, travelled [the] world twice in ]the last 12 months, kept a good job and have healthy friends and fam around me. Pete's approach hmmmm”.</p> <p dir="ltr">And as someone else pointed out., “he seems quite short of breath after placing a few small sticks under the pizza oven. Not a great advert for his lifestyle.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Twitter, Facebook</em></p>

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Stan Grant’s new book asks: how do we live with the weight of our history?

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/heidi-norman-859">Heidi Norman</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a></em></p> <p>This month, journalist and public intellectual Stan Grant published his fifth book, <a href="https://www.harpercollins.com.au/9781460764022/the-queen-is-dead/">The Queen is Dead</a>. And last week, he abruptly stepped away from his career in the public realm, <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-05-19/stan-grant-media-target-racist-abuse-coronation-coverage-enough/102368652">citing</a> toxic racism enabled by social media, and betrayal on the part of his employer, the ABC.</p> <p>“I was invited to contribute to the ABC’s coverage as part of a discussion about the legacy of the monarchy. I pointed out that the crown represents the invasion and theft of our land,” <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-05-19/stan-grant-media-target-racist-abuse-coronation-coverage-enough/102368652">he wrote</a> last Friday. “I repeatedly said that these truths are spoken with love for the Australia we have never been.” And yet, “I have seen people in the media lie and distort my words. They have tried to depict me as hate filled”.</p> <p>Grant has worked as a journalist in Australia for more than three decades: first on commercial current affairs – and until this week, as a main anchor at the ABC, where he was an international affairs analyst and the host of the panel discussion show Q+A. The former role reflects his global work, reporting from conflict zones with esteemed international broadcasters such as CNN. His second book, <a href="https://www.harpercollins.com.au/9781460751985/talking-to-my-country/">Talking to my Country</a>, won the Walkley Book Award in 2016.</p> <hr /> <p><em>Review: The Queen is Dead – Stan Grant (HarperCollins)</em></p> <hr /> <p>In this new book, Grant yearns for a way to comprehend the forces, ideas and history that led to this cultural moment we inhabit. The book, which opens with him grappling with the monarchy and its legacy, is revealing in terms of his decision to step back from public life.</p> <p>Released to coincide with <a href="https://theconversation.com/coronation-arrests-how-the-new-public-order-law-disrupted-protesters-once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity-205328">the coronation</a> of the new English monarch, Charles III, The Queen is Dead seethes with rage and loathing – hatred even – at the ideas that have informed the logic and structure of modernity.</p> <p>Grant’s work examines the ideas that explain the West and modernity – and his own place as an Indigenous person of this land, from Wiradjuri, Kamilaroi and Dharawal country. That is: his work explores both who he is in the world and the ideas that tell the story of the modern world. He finds the latter unable to account for him.</p> <p>“This week, I have been reminded what it is to come from the other side of history,” he writes in the book’s opening pages. “History itself that is written as a hymn to whiteness […] written by the victors and often written in blood.”</p> <p>He asks “how do we live with the weight of this history?” And he explains the questions that have dominated his thinking: what is <a href="https://theconversation.com/whiteness-is-an-invented-concept-that-has-been-used-as-a-tool-of-oppression-183387">whiteness</a>, and what is it to live with catastrophe?</p> <h2>The death of the white queen</h2> <p>In his account, his rage is informed by the observation that the weight of this history was largely unexplored on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II’s death last September. The death of the white queen is the touchpoint always returned to in this work – and the release of the book coincides with the apparently seamless transition to her heir, now King Charles III.</p> <figure class="align-right zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/527406/original/file-20230522-29-dcc0ot.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/527406/original/file-20230522-29-dcc0ot.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/527406/original/file-20230522-29-dcc0ot.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=917&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/527406/original/file-20230522-29-dcc0ot.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=917&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/527406/original/file-20230522-29-dcc0ot.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=917&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/527406/original/file-20230522-29-dcc0ot.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1152&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/527406/original/file-20230522-29-dcc0ot.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1152&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/527406/original/file-20230522-29-dcc0ot.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1152&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption></figcaption></figure> <p>In the lead-up to the coronation, “long live the king” echoed across the United Kingdom. Its long tentacles reached across the globe where this old empire once ruled, robbing and ruining much that it encountered. The death of the queen and the succession of her heir occurred with ritual and ceremony.</p> <p>Small tweaks acknowledged the changing world – but for the most part, this coronation occurred without revolution or bloodshed, without condemnation – and without contest of the British monarchs’ role in history and the world they continue to dominate, in one way or another.</p> <p>Grant argues the end of the 70-year rule of Queen Elizabeth II should mark a turning point: a global reckoning with the race-based order that undergirds empire and colonialism. Whereas the earlier century confidently pronounced the project of <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-power-of-yindyamarra-how-we-can-bring-respect-to-australian-democracy-192164">democracy</a> and liberalism complete, it seems time has marched on.</p> <p>History has not “ended”, as Francis Fukuyama <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-end-of-history-francis-fukuyamas-controversial-idea-explained-193225">declared</a> in 1989 (claiming liberal democracies had been proved the unsurpassable ideal). Instead, history has entered a ferocious era of uncertainty and volatility.</p> <p>Grant reminds us that people of colour now dominate the globe. Race, <a href="https://theconversation.com/racism-is-real-race-is-not-a-philosophers-perspective-82504">as we now know</a>, is a flexible and slippery made-up idea, changing opportunistically to include and exclude groups, to dominate and possess.</p> <p>Grant examines this with great impact as he considers the lived experience of his white grandmother, who was shunned when living with a black man, shared his conditions of poverty with pluck and defiance, then resumed a place in white society without him.</p> <p>And writing of his mother, the other Elizabeth, Grant elaborates the complexity of identity not confined to the colour of skin, but forged from belonging to people and kinship networks, and to place – which condemns the pseudoscience of <a href="https://humanrights.gov.au/about/news/speeches/power-identity-naming-oneself-reclaiming-community-2011">blood quantum</a> that informed the state’s control of Aboriginal lives. This suspect race science has proved enduring.</p> <p>Grant’s account of the death of the monarch is a genuine engagement with the history of ideas to contemplate the reality of our 21st-century present.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/527467/original/file-20230522-27-ts8u8f.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/527467/original/file-20230522-27-ts8u8f.jpg?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/527467/original/file-20230522-27-ts8u8f.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/527467/original/file-20230522-27-ts8u8f.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/527467/original/file-20230522-27-ts8u8f.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/527467/original/file-20230522-27-ts8u8f.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=502&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/527467/original/file-20230522-27-ts8u8f.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=502&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/527467/original/file-20230522-27-ts8u8f.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=502&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Grant argues the end of the queen’s 70-year rule should mark ‘a global reckoning with the race-based order that undergirds empire and colonialism’.</span> <span class="attribution">Yui Mok/AP</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>Liberalism and democracy = tyranny and terror</h2> <p>In several essays now, Grant has engaged with the ideas of mostly Western philosophers and several conservative thinkers to explain the crisis of liberalism and democracy. Grant argues that, like other -isms, liberalism and democracy have descended into tyranny and terror.</p> <p>The new world order, dominated by <a href="https://theconversation.com/friday-essay-stan-grant-on-how-tyrants-use-the-language-of-germ-warfare-and-covid-has-enabled-them-204183">China</a> and people of colour, is in dramatic contrast to the continued rule of the white queen and her descendants.</p> <p>In this, perhaps more than his other books and essays, Grant moves between big ideas in history – the <a href="https://theconversation.com/criticism-of-western-civilisation-isnt-new-it-was-part-of-the-enlightenment-104567">Enlightenment</a>, modernity and democracy – to consider himself, his identity, and his own lived experience of injustice, where race is an undeniable organising feature.</p> <p>In this story he explains himself, as an Indigenous person, “an outsider, in the middle”; “an exile, living in exile, struggling with belonging”; living with the “very real threat of erasure”.</p> <h2>Love, friendships, family, Country</h2> <p>In the final section of the book, Grant’s focus switches to the theme of “love”, and to friendships, family and Country. He speculates that his focus on these things is perhaps a mark of age.</p> <p>Now, he accounts for the things in life that are truly valuable – and this includes deep affection for the joy that emanates from Aboriginal families. Being home on his Country, paddling the river, he finds quiet and peace.</p> <p>The death of the monarch of the British Empire, who ruled for 70 years, should speak to the history of empire and colonial legacy and all its curses – especially in settler colonial Australia. Yet her passing – which coincides with seismic change in the global economic order with China’s ascendance and the decline of the United States and the UK, the global cultural order and the racial order – has been largely unexamined in public discourse in Australia.</p> <p>The history of colonisation and of ideas that have debated ways to comprehend the past have been a feature of Grant’s intellectual exploration, including on the death of the queen. As he details in his new book, the reaction from some quarters to this conversation has exposed him to unrelenting and racist attack.</p> <p>In this work and in others, exploration of the world of ideas to understand the past and future sits alongside accounts of the everyday; of the always place-based realities of Aboriginal accounts of self.</p> <p>The material deprivations and indignities, the closely held humility that comes with poverty and powerlessness - shared socks, a house carelessly demolished, burials tragically abandoned – are countered by another reality: the intimacy of most Aboriginal lives, characterised by deep love, affection, laughter and belonging. These place-based, “small” stories Grant shares sit alongside the bigger themes of modern history, such as democracy and freedom.</p> <p>In this latest work, Grant details his sense of “betrayal” at the discussion he sought about the monarch’s passing and the discussion that was actually had, the history of ideas and his own place in this.</p> <p>And now, of course, he has announced his intention to exit the public stage. Racism, we are reminded, is an enduring feature of the modern world – a world yet to allow space for an unbowing, Wiradjuri-Kamilaroi-Dharawal public intellectual.<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/204756/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/heidi-norman-859">Heidi Norman</a>, Professor, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a></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/stan-grants-new-book-asks-how-do-we-live-with-the-weight-of-our-history-204756">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Images: Q+A / ABC</em></p>

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