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Another man dies after fall from world's biggest cruise ship

<p>A passenger has died after he fell from the world's largest cruise ship on the first night of a week-long voyage. </p> <p>The unidentified man allegedly jumped from Royal Caribbean’s new 366 metre-long Icon of the Seas, just hours after it left a port in Miami, Florida on its way to Honduras, according to the US Coast Guard.</p> <p>“The cruise ship deployed one of their rescue boats, located the man and brought him back aboard,” the Coast Guard told the <em><a href="https://nypost.com/2024/05/28/us-news/passenger-dead-after-jumping-off-worlds-largest-cruise-ship/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Post</a></em>.</p> <p>“He was pronounced deceased. Beyond assisting in the search, the US Coast Guard did not have much involvement in this incident,” the agency added.</p> <p>Royal Caribbean told the publication, “The ship’s crew immediately notified the US Coast Guard and launched a search and rescue operation”. </p> <p>“Our care team is actively providing support and assistance to the guest’s loved ones during this difficult time.”</p> <p>At the time of the incident, the cruise ship had only travelled 500km from Florida, and stopped for two hours to help the search and rescue Coast Guard team to locate the passenger. </p> <p>The man was brought back on-board in critical condition before he succumbed to his injuries and died on the ship. </p> <p>The Icon of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, took its maiden voyage in January this year.</p> <p>The Royal Caribbean ship has 20 decks and is nearly the size of four city blocks, holding 7,600 passengers and 2,350 crew members.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Royal Caribbean </em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Worried your address, birth date or health data is being sold? You should be – and the law isn’t protecting you

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katharine-kemp-402096">Katharine Kemp</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Australians don’t know and can’t control how data brokers are spreading their personal information. This is the core finding of a newly <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Digital-platform-services-inquiry-March-2024-interim-report.pdf">released report</a> from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).</p> <p>Consumers wanting to rent a property, get an insurance quote or shop online are not given real choices about whether their personal data is shared for other purposes. This exposes Australians to scams, fraud, manipulation and discrimination.</p> <p>In fact, <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/consumers-lack-visibility-and-choice-over-data-collection-practices">many don’t even know</a> what kind of data has been collected about them and shared or sold by data firms and other third parties.</p> <p>Our privacy laws are due for reform. But Australia’s privacy commissioner <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4224653">should also enforce</a> an existing rule: with very limited exceptions, businesses must not collect information about you from third parties.</p> <h2>What are data brokers?</h2> <p><a href="https://cprc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/CPRC-Singled-Out-Final-Feb-2024.pdf">Data brokers</a> generally make their profits by collecting information about individuals from various sources and sharing this personal data with their many business clients. This can include detailed profiles of a person’s family, health, finances and movements.</p> <p>Data brokers often have no connection with the individual – you may not even recognise the name of a firm that holds vast amounts of information on you. Some of these data brokers are large multinational companies with billions of dollars in revenue.</p> <p>Consumer and privacy advocates provided the ACCC with evidence of highly concerning data broker practices. <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Salinger%20Privacy.pdf">One woman</a> tried to find out how data brokers had got hold of her information after receiving targeted medical advertising.</p> <p>Although she never discovered how they obtained her data, she found out it included her name, date of birth and contact details. It also included inferences about her, such as her retiree status, having no children, not having “high affluence” and being likely to donate to a charity.</p> <p>ACCC found another data broker was reportedly creating lists of individuals who may be experiencing vulnerability. The categories included:</p> <ul> <li>children, teenage girls and teenage boys</li> <li>“financially unsavvy” people</li> <li>elderly people living alone</li> <li>new migrants</li> <li>religious minorities</li> <li>unemployed people</li> <li>people in financial distress</li> <li>new migrants</li> <li>people experiencing pain or who have visited certain medical facilities.</li> </ul> <p>These are all potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited, for example, by scammers or unscrupulous advertisers.</p> <h2>How do they get this information?</h2> <p>The ACCC notes <a href="https://cprc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/CPRC-working-paper-Not-a-fair-trade-March-2025.pdf">74% of Australians are uncomfortable</a> with their personal information being shared or sold.</p> <p>Nonetheless, data brokers sell and share Australian consumers’ personal information every day. Businesses we deal with – for example, when we buy a car or search for natural remedies on an online marketplace – both buy data about us from data brokers and provide them with more.</p> <p>The ACCC acknowledges consumers haven’t been given a choice about this.</p> <p>Attempting to read every privacy term is near impossible. The ACCC referred to a recent study which found it would take consumers <a href="https://www.mi-3.com.au/06-11-2023/aussies-face-10-hour-privacy-policy-marathon-finds-study">over 46 hours a month</a> to read every privacy policy they encounter.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&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/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=131&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=131&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=131&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=165&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=165&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=165&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">The approximate length and time it would take to read an average privacy policy in Australia per month.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.accc.gov.au/about-us/publications/serial-publications/digital-platform-services-inquiry-2020-25-reports/digital-platform-services-inquiry-interim-report-march-2024">ACCC Digital Platform Services Inquiry interim report</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>Even if you could read every term, you still wouldn’t get a clear picture. Businesses use <a href="https://cprc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/CPRC-Singled-Out-Final-Feb-2024.pdf">vague wording</a> and data descriptions which <a href="https://theconversation.com/70-of-australians-dont-feel-in-control-of-their-data-as-companies-hide-behind-meaningless-privacy-terms-224072">confuse consumers</a> and have no fixed meaning. These include “pseudonymised information”, “hashed email addresses”, “aggregated information” and “advertising ID”.</p> <p>Privacy terms are also presented on a “take it or leave it” basis, even for transactions like applying for a rental property or buying insurance.</p> <p>The ACCC pointed out 41% of Australians feel they have been <a href="https://www.choice.com.au/consumers-and-data/data-collection-and-use/how-your-data-is-used/articles/choice-renttech-report-release">pressured to use “rent tech” platforms</a>. These platforms collect an increasing range of information with questionable connection to renting.</p> <h2>A first for Australian consumers</h2> <p>This is the first time an Australian regulator has made an in-depth report on the consumer data practices of data brokers, which are generally hidden from consumers. It comes <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/reports/data-brokers-call-transparency-accountability-report-federal-trade-commission-may-2014/140527databrokerreport.pdf">ten years after</a> the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) conducted a similar inquiry into data brokers in the US.</p> <p>The ACCC report examined the data practices of nine data brokers and other “data firms” operating in Australia. (It added the term “data firms” because some companies sharing data about people argue that they are not data brokers.)</p> <p>A big difference between the Australian and the US reports is that the FTC is both the consumer watchdog and the <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2312913">privacy regulator</a>. As our competition and consumer watchdog, the ACCC is meant to focus on competition and consumer issues.</p> <p>We also need our privacy regulator, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), to pay attention to these findings.</p> <h2>There’s a law against that</h2> <p>The ACCC report shows many examples of businesses collecting personal information about us from third parties. For example, you may be a customer of a business that only has your name and email address. But that business can purchase “<a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4224653">data enrichment</a>” services from a data broker to find out your age range, income range and family situation.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.au/C2004A03712/latest/text">current Privacy Act</a> includes <a href="https://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/australian-privacy-principles/read-the-australian-privacy-principles">a principle</a> that organisations must collect personal information only from the individual (you) unless it is unreasonable or impracticable to do so. “Impracticable” means practically impossible. This is the direct collection rule.</p> <p>Yet there is no reported case of the privacy commissioner enforcing the direct collection rule against a data broker or its business customers. Nor has the OAIC issued any specific guidance in this respect. It should do both.</p> <h2>Time to update our privacy laws</h2> <p>Our privacy law was drafted in 1988, long before this complex web of digital data practices emerged. Privacy laws in places such as California and the European Union provide much stronger protections.</p> <p>The government has <a href="https://ministers.ag.gov.au/media-centre/speeches/privacy-design-awards-2024-02-05-2024">announced</a> it plans to introduce a privacy law reform bill this August.</p> <p>The ACCC report reinforces the need for vital amendments, including a direct right of action for individuals and a rule requiring dealings in personal information to be “fair and reasonable”.<!-- 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/230540/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/katharine-kemp-402096">Katharine Kemp</a>, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law &amp; Justice, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</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/worried-your-address-birth-date-or-health-data-is-being-sold-you-should-be-and-the-law-isnt-protecting-you-230540">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Legal

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What happens if you want access to voluntary assisted dying but your nursing home won’t let you?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/neera-bhatia-15189">Neera Bhatia</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/charles-corke-167297">Charles Corke</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p>Voluntary assisted dying is now lawful in <a href="https://theconversation.com/voluntary-assisted-dying-will-soon-be-legal-in-all-states-heres-whats-just-happened-in-nsw-and-what-it-means-for-you-183355">all Australian states</a>. There is also <a href="https://nationalseniors.com.au/uploads/VAD-Report-correct-month-12.8.21.pdf">widespread community support</a> for it.</p> <p>Yet some residential institutions, such as hospices and aged-care facilities, are obstructing access despite the law not specifying whether they have the legal right to do so.</p> <p>As voluntary assisted dying is implemented across the country, institutions blocking access to it will likely become more of an issue.</p> <p>So addressing this will help everyone – institutions, staff, families and, most importantly, people dying in institutions who wish to have control of their end.</p> <h2>The many ways to block access</h2> <p>While voluntary assisted dying legislation recognises the right of doctors to <a href="https://theconversation.com/was-take-on-assisted-dying-has-many-similarities-with-the-victorian-law-and-some-important-differences-121554">conscientiously object</a> to it, the law is generally silent on the rights of institutions to do so.</p> <p>While the institution where someone lives has no legislated role in voluntary assisted dying, it can refuse access in various ways, including:</p> <ul> <li> <p>restricting staff responding to a discussion a resident initiates about voluntary assisted dying</p> </li> <li> <p>refusing access to health professionals to facilitate it, and</p> </li> <li> <p>requiring people who wish to pursue the option to leave the facility.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Here’s what happened to ‘Mary’</h2> <p>Here is a hypothetical example based on cases one of us (Charles Corke) has learned of via his role at Victoria’s <a href="https://www.safercare.vic.gov.au/about/vadrb">Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board</a>.</p> <p>We have chosen to combine several different cases into one, to respect the confidentiality of the individuals and organisations involved.</p> <p>“Mary” was a 72-year-old widow who moved into a private aged-care facility when she could no longer manage independently in her own home due to advanced lung disease.</p> <p>While her intellect remained intact, she accepted she had reached a stage at which she needed significant assistance. She appreciated the help she received. She liked the staff and they liked her.</p> <p>After a year in the facility, during which time her lung disease got much worse, Mary decided she wanted access to voluntary assisted dying. Her children were supportive, particularly as this desire was consistent with Mary’s longstanding views.</p> <p>Mary was open about her wish with the nursing home staff she felt were her friends.</p> <p>The executive management of the nursing home heard of her intentions. This resulted in a visit at which Mary was told, in no uncertain terms, her wish to access voluntary assisted dying would not be allowed. She would be required to move out, unless she agreed to change her mind.</p> <p>Mary was upset. Her family was furious. She really didn’t want to move, but really wanted to continue with voluntary assisted dying “in her current home” (as she saw it).</p> <p>Mary decided to continue with her wish. Her family took her to see two doctors registered to provide assessments for voluntary assisted dying, who didn’t work at the facility. Mary was deemed eligible and the permit was granted. Two pharmacists visited Mary at the nursing home, gave her the medication and instructed her how to mix it and take it.</p> <p>These actions required no active participation from the nursing home or its staff.</p> <p>Family and friends arranged to visit at the time Mary indicated she planned to take the medication. She died peacefully, on her own terms, as she wished. The family informed the nursing home staff their mother had died. Neither family nor staff mentioned voluntary assisted dying.</p> <h2>Staff are in a difficult position too</h2> <p>There is widespread community support for voluntary assisted dying. In a 2021 survey by National Seniors Australia, <a href="https://nationalseniors.com.au/uploads/VAD-Report-correct-month-12.8.21.pdf">more than 85%</a> of seniors agreed it should be available.</p> <p>So it’s likely there will be staff who are supportive in most institutions. For instance, in a survey of attitudes to voluntary assisted dying in a large public tertiary hospital, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/imj.15285">88% of staff</a> supported it becoming lawful.</p> <p>So a blanket policy to refuse dying patients access to voluntary assisted dying is likely to place staff in a difficult position. An institution risks creating a toxic workplace culture, in which clandestine communication and fear become entrenched.</p> <h2>What could we do better?</h2> <p><strong>1. Institutions need to be up-front about their policies</strong></p> <p>Institutions need to be completely open about their policies on voluntary assisted dying and whether they would obstruct any such request in the future. This is so patients and families can factor this into deciding on an institution in the first place.</p> <p><strong>2. Institutions need to consult their stakeholders</strong></p> <p>Institutions should consult their stakeholders about their policy with a view to creating a “<a href="https://bmcpalliatcare.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12904-021-00891-3">safe</a>” environment for residents and staff – for those who want access to voluntary assisted dying or who wish to support it, and for those who don’t want it and find it confronting.</p> <p><strong>3. Laws need to change</strong></p> <p>Future legislation should define the extent of an institution’s right to obstruct a resident’s right to access voluntary assisted dying.</p> <p>There should be safeguards in all states (as is already legislated <a href="https://documents.parliament.qld.gov.au/tp/2021/5721T707.pdf">in Queensland</a>), including the ability for individuals to be referred in sufficient time to another institution, should they wish to access voluntary assisted dying.</p> <p>Other states should consider whether it is reasonable to permit a resident, who does not wish to move, to be able to stay and proceed with their wish, without direct involvement of the institution.</p> <hr /> <p><em>The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board.</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/183364/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/neera-bhatia-15189">Neera Bhatia</a>, Associate Professor in Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/charles-corke-167297">Charles Corke</a>, Associate Professor of Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin 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/what-happens-if-you-want-access-to-voluntary-assisted-dying-but-your-nursing-home-wont-let-you-183364">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Caring

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"I felt duped": 95-year-old loses $1.6 million in bank scam

<p>A 95-year-old has been left feeling "sick" after she was scammed out of $1.6 million by heartless scammers claiming to be a bank. </p> <p>In November last year, Harriet Spring received a call from a man who called himself George Thompson, and said he worked for ING Bank. </p> <p>The man gained Harriet's trust over several months, at the difficult time that the great-grandmother was handling the sale of her mother's house.</p> <p>"Over time, I completely thought he was from ING, I had no reason to believe he wasn't," she told <a href="https://9now.nine.com.au/today/95-year-old-great-grandmother-loses-more-than-1-million-life-savings-to-scammers/f41540e7-f5c9-4c3b-89a7-ac94dd81bf6a" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Today</em></a>.</p> <p>"George" then convinced Harriet the money from the sale of the house could build interest in an ING account, but it was actually being held by Westpac Bank.</p> <p>"It sounds implausible now, but the scammer had me convinced and I told my mother's bank, Teachers Mutual Bank, that this was an ING fixed term deposit, but it was being put in the Westpac bank," she said.</p> <p>"I put down the BSB number and the account number and what I thought was my name attached to the account, (my mother's bank) pointed out that it seems strange and ING account would be held with Westpac, but they still went ahead and authorised the transfer."</p> <p>When Harriet realised the scammers had taken hold of her life savings totalling $1.6 million, she felt "sick". </p> <p>"Obviously my world just fell out from under me - I just felt sick," she said.</p> <p>"I felt utterly responsible, I felt duped, foolish, ashamed - a lot of shame associated with it and I think that's why a lot of people don't come forward and talk about this kind of thing."</p> <p>Harriet has shared her story as a warning for others to be wary of potential scammers, while also calling on banks to have better protocols in place to stop suspicious transactions from going through. </p> <p>"Someone with basic training from the bank would have known that ING don't bank with any other banks and they should have flagged it," she said.</p> <p>"I believe the reality is that the banks 100 per cent put the blame on the victims and they minimise their own liability."</p> <p>"There should be some sort of system for compensating victims, the banks don't commit the theft, but they certainly drive the getaway car and they need to be held responsible for being complicit with this."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Today </em></p>

Legal

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Yoko Ono selling John Lennon's New York home for first time in 50 years

<p>For the first time in 50 years, the house where John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived in New York City has hit the market.</p> <p>The brick, bluestone and terra cotta structure at 496 Broome St. was the first home the pair bought together in New York City before they moved to the Upper West Side of Manhattan. </p> <p>Yoko Ono has held onto the property since she first bought it with the late Beatles member, and has now listed it with her son with JLL Real Estate, for an asking price of $US5.5 million ($8.23m AUD).</p> <p>“The building on Broome St. was sort of like a base for their artistic ventures,” Philip Norman, author of “John Lennon: The Life,” told the <em><a href="https://nypost.com/2024/05/21/real-estate/yoko-ono-lists-former-nyc-home-for-5-5m/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Post</a></em>. “Bank Street was their salon, where people could just walk in.”</p> <p>First built in 1885, the two-storey building has an open-plan format, with a gallery-like ground floor space with 14.4-foot-high ceilings, an open kitchen and a lofted bedroom.</p> <p>On the second floor, there’s a live-work space and a recording studio.</p> <p>“496 Broome St. is both a unique piece of New York history and popular culture and a prime investment opportunity for the right buyer,” said Paul Smadbeck, who holds the listing.</p> <p>“Versatile zoning and its location in one of the city’s most desirable and trendsetting neighbourhoods offers an exciting opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind property.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Mediapunch / JLL Real Estate </em></p>

Real Estate

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After 180 years, new clues are revealing just how general anaesthesia works in the brain

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-d-hines-767066">Adam D Hines</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4773932/pdf/BLT.15.159293.pdf/">Over 350 million surgeries</a> are performed globally each year. For most of us, it’s likely at some point in our lives we’ll have to undergo a procedure that needs general anaesthesia.</p> <p>Even though it is one of the safest medical practices, we still don’t have a complete, thorough understanding of precisely how anaesthetic drugs work in the brain.</p> <p>In fact, it has largely remained a mystery since general anaesthesia was introduced into medicine over <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/08941939.2015.1061826">180 years ago</a>.</p> <p>Our study published <a href="https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0588-23.2024">in The Journal of Neuroscience today</a> provides new clues on the intricacies of the process. General anaesthetic drugs seem to only affect specific parts of the brain responsible for keeping us alert and awake.</p> <h2>Brain cells striking a balance</h2> <p>In a study using fruit flies, we found a potential way that allows anaesthetic drugs to interact with specific types of neurons (brain cells), and it’s all to do with proteins. Your brain has around <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cne.21974">86 billion neurons</a> and not all of them are the same – it’s these differences that allow general anaesthesia to be effective.</p> <p>To be clear, we’re not completely in the dark on <a href="https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0165614719300951">how anaesthetic drugs affect us</a>. We know why general anaesthetics are able to make us lose consciousness so quickly, thanks to a <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/367607a0">landmark discovery made in 1994</a>.</p> <p>But to better understand the fine details, we first have to look to the minute differences between the cells in our brains.</p> <p>Broadly speaking, there are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6591655/">two main categories of neurons in the brain</a>.</p> <p>The first are what we call “excitatory” neurons, generally responsible for keeping us alert and awake. The second are “inhibitory” neurons – their job is to regulate and control the excitatory ones.</p> <p>In our day-to-day lives, excitatory and inhibitory neurons are constantly working and balancing one another.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/npp2017294">When we fall asleep</a>, there are inhibitory neurons in the brain that “silence” the excitatory ones keeping us awake. This happens <a href="https://askdruniverse.wsu.edu/2018/01/07/why-do-we-get-tired/">gradually over time</a>, which is why you may feel progressively more tired through the day.</p> <p>General anaesthetics speed up this process by directly silencing these excitatory neurons without any action from the inhibitory ones. This is why your anaesthetist will tell you that they’ll “put you to sleep” for the procedure: <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrn2372">it’s essentially the same process</a>.</p> <h2>A special kind of sleep</h2> <p>While we know why anaesthetics put us to sleep, the question then becomes: “why do we <em>stay</em> asleep during surgery?”. If you went to bed tonight, fell asleep and somebody tried to do surgery on you, you’d wake up with quite a shock.</p> <p>To date, there is no strong consensus in the field as to why general anaesthesia causes people to remain unconscious during surgery.</p> <p>Over the last couple of decades, researchers have proposed several potential explanations, but they all seem to point to one root cause. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7709148/#:%7E:text=At%20presynaptic%20part%2C%20voltage%2Dgated,anesthetics%20to%20inhibiting%20neurotransmitter%20release.">Neurons stop talking to each other</a> when exposed to general anaesthetics.</p> <p>While the idea of “cells talking to each other” may sound a little strange, it’s a <a href="https://qbi.uq.edu.au/brain-basics/brain/brain-physiology/action-potentials-and-synapses">fundamental concept in neuroscience</a>. Without this communication, our brains wouldn’t be able to function at all. And it allows the brain to know what’s happening throughout the body.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&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/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=600&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=600&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=600&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=754&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=754&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/593888/original/file-20240514-16-5fletd.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=754&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Two branching structures in orange, green, blue and yellow colours on a black background." /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Colourised neurons in the brain of a fly.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Adam Hines</span></span></figcaption></figure> <h2>What did we discover?</h2> <p>Our new study shows that general anaesthetics appear to stop excitatory neurons from communicating, but not inhibitory ones. <a href="https://www.jneurosci.org/content/40/21/4103">This concept isn’t new</a>, but we found some compelling evidence as to <em>why</em> only excitatory neurons are affected.</p> <p>For neurons to communicate, proteins have to get involved. One of the jobs these proteins have is to get neurons to release molecules called <a href="https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22513-neurotransmitters">neurotransmitters</a>. These chemical messengers are what gets signals across from one neuron to another: dopamine, adrenaline and serotonin are all neurotransmitters, for example.</p> <p>We found that general anaesthetics impair the ability of these proteins to release neurotransmitters, but only in excitatory neurons. To test this, we used <a href="https://www.eneuro.org/content/8/3/ENEURO.0057-21.2021"><em>Drosophila melanogaster</em> fruit flies</a> and <a href="https://imb.uq.edu.au/research/facilities/microscopy/training-manuals/microscopy-online-resources/image-capture/super-resolution-microscopy">super resolution microscopy</a> to directly see what effects a general anaesthetic was having on these proteins at a molecular scale.</p> <p>Part of what makes excitatory and inhibitory neurons different from each other is that they <a href="https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/physrev.00007.2012">express different types of the same protein</a>. This is kind of like having two cars of the same make and model, but one is green and has a sports package, while the other is just standard and red. They both do the same thing, but one’s just a little bit different.</p> <p>Neurotransmitter release is a complex process involving lots of different proteins. If one piece of the puzzle isn’t exactly right, then general anaesthetics won’t be able to do their job.</p> <p>As a next research step, we will need to figure out which piece of the puzzle is different, to understand why general anaesthetics only stop excitatory communication.</p> <p>Ultimately, our results hint that the drugs used in general anaesthetics cause massive global inhibition in the brain. By silencing excitability in two ways, these drugs put us to sleep and keep it that way.<!-- 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/229713/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/adam-d-hines-767066">Adam D Hines</a>, Research fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</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/after-180-years-new-clues-are-revealing-just-how-general-anaesthesia-works-in-the-brain-229713">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Where did money come from?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/steven-hail-1302961">Steve<em>n Hail</em></a><em>, <a href="https://www.torrens.edu.au/">Torrens University Australia</a></em></p> <p>For the most part, economists continue to believe a story of money told to generations of students by a series of textbooks over the past 150 years.</p> <p>This story asks us to imagine a pre-monetary barter economy, where people bought goods and services by trading them for other goods and services.</p> <p>Eventually a suitable commodity – perhaps gold or silver – emerged as both an acceptable means of exchange for conducting trade and a convenient unit of account for expressing value.</p> <p>Later, coins were issued – eventually to be monopolised by governments – and later still paper money, credit, and banking systems.</p> <p>The problem with this story is that there is no historical evidence to support it. As was <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/2802221?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents">noted</a> by prominent anthropologist Caroline Humphreys:</p> <blockquote> <p>No example of a barter economy, pure and simple, has ever been described, let alone the emergence from it of money … all available ethnography suggests that there has never been such a thing.</p> </blockquote> <p>So where did money come from exactly? One difficulty we face is that writing about money – what gives it value, and how monetary systems work – is not something young economists are generally encouraged to do.</p> <p>As a consequence, among the best articles ever written about money are two now more than 100 years old by British economist Alfred Mitchell-Innes, entitled “<a href="https://www.community-exchange.org/docs/what%20is%20money.htm">What is Money</a>?” and “<a href="https://cooperative-individualism.org/innes-a-mitchell_credit-theory-of-money-1914-dec-jan.pdf">The Credit Theory of Money</a>”.</p> <p>These papers, until recently almost completely ignored by the economics profession, tell a different story, rejecting the idea that money evolved naturally from barter.</p> <p>We can now be confident this version is closer to the truth. And it has big implications for how we think about the role of governments within monetary systems, and what gives money value. Acknowledging the true story of money would force a paradigm shift among economists – no wonder a lot of them don’t want to think about it.</p> <h2>Actually, early governments invented money</h2> <p>The truth is that money predates markets. <a href="https://youtu.be/7cLDFjTt4Bs?si=fDTafcZD_u1S23kD">Governments invented money</a> – it did not emerge independently from pre-existing barter systems.</p> <p>Market economies simply could not develop until money existed. For much of history, the currency tokens people regarded as money had little or no intrinsic value, taking the form of clay tablets, hazelwood tally sticks, base metals, shells or paper.</p> <p>The earliest forms of what Keynes called “modern money” – to distinguish it from gift tokens used for ceremonial purposes in communal groups – go back to the origins of taxation, accounting, and even literacy and numeracy. These early currencies were units of account used to assess the tributes that had to be paid to early governmental institutions in the Middle East.</p> <p>The word shekel is still used as a currency unit, but dates to ancient Babylon and the emergence of money itself, over 5,000 years ago.</p> <p>The idea that the need to pay taxes is what creates a demand for a currency was well understood by colonial governments. They knew how to introduce their currencies into countries they had invaded. To force locals to supply labour or goods to the government, they imposed a tax liability – often, a hut tax. This tax could only be paid using the currency of the colony.</p> <p>Locals had to either work for the colonial government or supply goods to others who did, else they wouldn’t have the specific currency needed to pay taxes. This created a demand for the colonial power’s currency, which the government could then spend.</p> <p>If such a government spent more overall than it withdrew in taxation – running a budget deficit – the community could add the remaining currency to its savings. Taxation and the legal system created a demand for the government’s money and provided the impetus for the development of a monetary economy.</p> <p>Even today, it’s the tax system that drives the monetary system. Demand for a government’s money is guaranteed because people need it to pay federal taxes.</p> <h2>But banks create money too</h2> <p>Actual physical cash makes up a tiny proportion of the money in circulation. Most of what we regard as money is held in our bank deposits, effectively a bunch of numbers on a ledger. Most of these bank deposits are created by banks when they make loans to us, and this is not government money at all – it is private money, created by the banks themselves.</p> <p>When a bank makes a loan to you, that loan becomes an <em>asset</em> for the bank, because you have to pay it back with interest. But at the same time, the loan appears as a deposit of funds in your account, which is a <em>liability</em> for the bank. Technically, you both owe each other.</p> <p>On paper, this means there’s now money in the system that wasn’t there before. The bank hasn’t actually lent you someone else’s money, the loan deposited in your account represents the bank’s IOU to you.</p> <p>Both the loan and the deposit are created by the bank, using nothing more than a computer keyboard. The bank has promised to use its holdings of government money to make payments on your behalf, including tax payments to the government, or to provide you with government money in the form of physical cash.</p> <p>As economist Hyman Minsky once said, “anyone can create money – the problem lies in getting it accepted”.</p> <p>Obviously, private banks don’t issue government currency. The Commonwealth government and its agent, the Reserve Bank of Australia, sit at the top of our own monetary system.</p> <p>Government-issued currency will always have value because it’s the unit of account needed to assess and pay our taxes. How much value the currency holds depends on how much the economy produces, how difficult it is to obtain the currency and on how much tax we have to pay.</p> <p>Here is some food for thought. If we accept that money and markets did not emerge naturally but had to be created by governmental institutions and legal systems, this means that there is no such thing as a genuinely free market, no such thing as a natural rate of unemployment, and no such thing as a natural distribution of income and wealth.</p> <p>The theory that money emerged naturally in the private sector encourages people to believe that free markets are natural systems in which governments only interfere. But in truth, early governments invented the very institutions of money and markets, and the regulatory frameworks that determined how those markets work and in whose interests.</p> <p>Exchange economies have always depended on systems of law and they always will. The more pertinent question concerns who writes those laws – and in whose interests those regulations are applied.</p> <hr /> <p><em>Correction: This article has been amended to reflect that a loan deposit represents a bank’s IOU to the customer, not to a bank’s other customers, as originally reported.</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/229481/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> <hr /> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/steven-hail-1302961"><em>Steven Hail</em></a><em>, Associate Professor, <a href="https://www.torrens.edu.au/">Torrens University Australia</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/where-did-money-come-from-229481">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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"Can't WAIT to try this": Tradie's simple bin night hack

<p>Taking the wheelie bins out and having to drag them back in is a chore that many dread, but one Aussie tradie has made life so much easier with his simple hack. </p> <p>Kyle Hume took to TikTok to share his simple yet effective trick to bring in two bins back from the curb at the same time, without having to wrangle two bins with both hands or make multiple trips. </p> <p>"I've been wheeling two bins my whole life until I noticed this," he shared. </p> <p>Hume's trick is to line up two bins in front of each other, resting the lid of the bin at the front on top of the bin at the back, and then closing the lid so it creates a makeshift hook that allows you to tip both bins back and wheel them in unison. </p> <p> </p> <div class="embed" style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: none !important;"><iframe class="embedly-embed" style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: none !important; width: 573px; max-width: 100%;" title="tiktok embed" src="https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2Fembed%2Fv2%2F7360205539604696336&display_name=tiktok&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2F%40kylehume7%2Fvideo%2F7360205539604696336%3Flang%3Den&image=https%3A%2F%2Fp16-sign-sg.tiktokcdn.com%2Fobj%2Ftos-alisg-p-0037%2FoYPnEqGncBAAtH22Eli4AIzBQC4wEANEIsf1ki%3Fx-expires%3D1715479200%26x-signature%3Di%252BOzi1g942kcQ1F0%252FqQuNd7eiho%253D&key=59e3ae3acaa649a5a98672932445e203&type=text%2Fhtml&schema=tiktok" width="340" height="700" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></div> <p>Many Aussies were "flabbergasted" by the trick, taking to the comments to express their shock at the simple method. </p> <p>"I've learned more on TikTok about adulting than I ever did in school," one joked. </p> <p>"I have four bins - this is going to save my life," another added. </p> <p>"What? Are you kidding me?" a third exclaimed. </p> <p>However, not everyone was impressed with his method, with some saying that it wouldn't work and there is a risk of damaging the bins. </p> <p>"Guessing that green bin slipped over and split using this hack, lol," one wrote. </p> <p>"This seems awkward and clunky," another added. </p> <p>"Don't you have two arms?" a third wrote. </p> <p><em>Images: TikTok</em></p>

Home & Garden

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New claim from Mexican criminal cartel over murdered Aussie brothers

<p>A member of the Sinaloa Cartel has claimed that they were the ones who handed the robbers accused of <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/i-killed-them-major-twist-in-slain-aussie-brothers-case" target="_blank" rel="noopener">murdering two Aussie brothers</a> and their American friend over to police. </p> <p>The city of Ensenada, near where the murders occurred, is under the control of a faction of the Sinaloa Cartel, and now they have debunked <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/travel-trouble/doesn-t-add-up-new-theory-emerges-in-perth-brothers-deaths" target="_blank" rel="noopener">previous theories </a>that believed the cartel were involved somehow. </p> <p>“They were low-level robbers acting alone,” a member of the group, who chose to remain anonymous, told <em>The Daily Beast</em>. </p> <p>“But we handed them over. We learned that the cops were looking for the gringos and also began looking for those who were responsible. We called the authorities to let them know where to find them.”</p> <p>The cartel member added that the group was afraid of "unwanted attention" from Mexican authorities. </p> <p>Callum Robinson, 33, Jake Robinson, 30, and their friend Jack Carter Rhoad, 30, were all killed in what police have characterised as a bungled robbery while they were camping in the Baja California region during a surfing trip. </p> <p>The trio were reported missing on April 27 after they failed to check-in at their next accommodation. Their bodies were discovered in a well over the weekend with <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/tragic-new-details-emerge-over-aussie-brothers-missing-in-mexico" target="_blank" rel="noopener">gunshots </a>to the head, around seven kilometres from where they were killed. </p> <p>Three people have been arrested, with the alleged ringleader charged with “forced disappearance”. He has not yet entered a plea and charges are expected to be upgraded to murder in the coming days. </p> <p><em>Image: Instagram/ 7NEWS</em></p>

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Catriona Rowntree shares her Europe travel hacks she picked up from locals

<p dir="ltr">After decades of hosting <em>Getaway</em>, Catriona Rowntree has learned a thing or two about travelling. </p> <p dir="ltr">Along the way, the 52-year-old has picked up some must-know secrets from locals that every traveller should know before heading to Europe.</p> <p dir="ltr">While in Mallorca in Spain, Rowntree quizzed locals on how to make the most out of her experience, and what faux pas to avoid. </p> <p dir="ltr">She was given advice on the best way to start a day at the markets, told why you should never rent an Airbnb or buy seafood on a Monday, why takeaway coffee is a bad idea and the secret to a longer, healthy life. </p> <p dir="ltr">The TV host shared a little known secret when it comes to buying fresh fish, and said travellers should not buy fish on Monday, because fishermen don’t fish on Sundays, meaning fish purchases on Mondays won’t be fresh. </p> <p dir="ltr">“The life expectancy of a Spaniard is 84, they're a healthy lot, loving a Mediterranean diet, a dollop of sun and a good climate,” she added. </p> <p dir="ltr">The presenter also discovered that all the locals she has spoken to don't like Airbnb accommodation and prefer for tourists to stay in hotels. </p> <p dir="ltr">“All the locals I've spoken to say that's what's pushing them out of their apartments as the town centres are slowly gentrified,” she said. </p> <p dir="ltr">“The average wage is low, most locals rent, sadly landlords prefer the higher fee of an Airbnb. Not cool!”</p> <p dir="ltr">Catriona's final tip is not to get your coffee takeaway, but rather sit down in a cafe, enjoy your coffee and take it slow. </p> <p dir="ltr">“People sit down to enjoy their coffee, they don't get a takeaway: 'If you can't sit for five minutes and talk to a person what's wrong with you!',” she said. </p> <p dir="ltr">Catriona said she was told by a local that the best way to start your day is to explore the markets by getting a hot chocolate and some churros. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Not every day as you'll be round, but market day for sure," she said.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Instagram </em></p>

Travel Tips

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“Turn his life around”: Paul Hogan’s grandson set to be released from prison

<p>The grandson of Crocodile Dundee is set to be released from prison after 57 days behind bars. </p> <p>Jake Paul Hogan, 34, broke down in court after learning that his father has moved to Sydney to support him in living a life without crime when he leaves jail.</p> <p>His father Todd Hogan, who is the son of the Crocodile Dundee star, flew back from New Zealand to support his son at the sentencing at the Downing Centre Local Court, which Jake appeared at via audio link. </p> <p>The younger Hogan was in custody on remand after his bail was refused in March, and was sentenced on Wednesday for breaking into apartment buildings to fund his “high-level drug habit” and for breaching a court order against an ex-girlfriend.</p> <p>Before falling into a life of drugs, Jake worked as a carpenter but soon became homeless after his drug addiction took hold.</p> <p>In order to fund his drug habit, the 34-year-old began sleeping in abandoned buildings, and stealing clothes and other items to sell for cash. </p> <p>Deputy Chief Magistrate Sharon Freund described Jake’s actions as a “sudden escalation of offending” after his life broke down, while also telling the court she was “comforted” by the fact he was supported by his father Todd and sister in court.</p> <p>“This is a young man that needs some scaffolding, he totally has the ability to turn his life around,” she said. “No doubt you were having difficulty seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and managing to find your way out of the hole.”</p> <p>The court was told Jake’s father was having trouble contacting his son during his difficult times, and had even flown to Sydney from New Zealand to find him.</p> <p>“Mr Hogan you are phenomenally lucky to have these supports,” Ms Freund said.</p> <p>She told the court Jake’s father is set to remain in Sydney to give him support when he leaves custody.</p> <p>Jake was convicted of all charges and sentenced to a community corrections order for two years, and an intensive corrections order for nine months.</p> <p>“I wish you good luck Mr Hogan,” Ms Freund said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Facebook </em></p>

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How to avoid 6 common tourist scams

<p>Often when people are on holidays their focus is on relaxing or seeing the sights of the area. But if you don’t keep your wits about you, it’s possible you might end up losing everything to scammers who will do anything to get their hands on your belongings.</p> <p>Here we have six common scams to look out for while you are travelling abroad.</p> <p><strong>Scam 1:</strong> You are in a busy bar in a tourist friendly area when some locals ask where you’re from and offer to buy you a drink. Without thinking, you accept the drink and then find yourself waking up hours later without any of your belongings as you’ve had your drink spiked.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> If people seem too friendly, be aware that they may be scammers. Don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know, and don’t leave your drink unattended to use the bathroom.</p> <p><strong>Scam 2:</strong> You are about to put your handbag and computer on the conveyer belt to go through the scanner. The people in front of you walk through the metal detector and while one goes through, the other sets off the alarms. They step back into where you are standing and take their time removing wallets and coins from their pockets. While you are waiting for your turn to walk through the metal detector, the other person has taken your belongings and is long gone.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> Don’t place your items on the conveyer belt until there is no one else waiting in front of you to go through the metal detector.</p> <p><strong>Scam 3:</strong> In a busy area such as after a concert or a busy night like New Year’s Eve it can be impossible to get public transport or a taxi back to your hotel. A friendly looking guy comes by and offers you a lift for a reasonable fee using his private car. The scam itself can then range from being charged an exorbitant amount when you arrive at your hotel – or you could even find yourself robbed and dropped by the side of the road with no way home.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> However tempting it is, never get in the car with an unlicensed taxi driver. This is even more important to note if you are travelling alone.</p> <p><strong>Scam 4:</strong> While you are waiting with your luggage for a train or bus, a passer-by appears to drop their wallet and walk off without noticing. You might try to do the right thing by grabbing the wallet and running after the person to return it. By the time you get back, your luggage is missing.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> When travelling alone, never leave your items unattended even if it means you don’t help someone when you normally would. This is especially true in airports where baggage will quickly be confiscated if left alone.</p> <p><strong>Scam 5:</strong> You’re taking in the sights when a couple of men dressed as policemen approach you. They demand to see your wallet and let you know that counterfeit money has been given to tourists in the area. When your wallet is returned it has had much of the contents removed.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> Police would never demand to see your wallet. If something doesn’t feel right, suggest that you continue the discussion at the nearest police station as you don’t feel comfortable. Most likely they will not push their luck.</p> <p><strong>Scam 6:</strong> You receive a phone call in your hotel room late at night from someone claiming to be from the front desk. They apologise for the late call but request that you just confirm your credit card details as their system is playing up. You read out the numbers and hang up. Before too long your credit card has rung up a huge bill as this was a scammer calling you, not a staff member.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> Organise payment in person by letting the caller know that you will come down to the front desk to discuss it.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Travel Tips

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"A step too far": Grandparents barred from school event for bizarre reason

<p>A Melbourne school has come under fire for refusing to let a group of grandparents into the classroom for a special event because they did not have a Working With Children Check (WWCC). </p> <p>Furious grandparents have slammed St Joseph’s Primary School in Yarra Junction for taking it "a step too far" when they asked them to provide the WWCC after being invited to attend the “Inquiry Afternoon”. </p> <p>The event was held for year one and two students to speak about “technology and the world has changed over time”, according to <em>The Herald Sun.</em></p> <p>Grandparents were asked to provide a WWCC on the back of the invitation, which some of them missed. </p> <p>“The Working With Children Check isn’t set up for the one-off visit — it is a step too far,” founder of the National Grandparent Movement Ian Barnett told <em>Sunrise</em>. </p> <p>“I understand we’re living in a time when we want more checks and balances, but it is unrealistic to think that grandparents attending such a day would actually need to go and provide a Working With Children Check."</p> <p>The grandparents without a WWCC were forced to sit in the principal's office and do their show-and-tell via a video call. </p> <p>“I’m sure they had very good intentions — no one set out for this to happen,” <em>Herald Sun</em> education editor Susie O’Brien said. </p> <p>“But imagine turning up, arranging your entire week, your day to come to your grandchild’s event … and the child’s school refuses entry.”</p> <p>She added that although schools did have some discretion over such requirements, when a group of people are invited for a specific event, it is usually not required. </p> <p>Barnett also said that "for such visits you don’t need a Working With Children Check,” in most states. </p> <p>“I haven’t heard of this in NSW. I have to admit, I’m from NSW. So it is really going a bit extreme. Schools do have the right to decide who comes onsite. But it just seems it’s not required.</p> <p>“To actually drag the child out from the classroom to sit with nana or grandad, it’s a step too far and embarrassing, I think, for the school as well.”</p> <p>A spokesperson for the primary school acknowledged that although there was some confusion, the school had to comply with the child safe standards. </p> <p>“There was advance notice to all St Joseph’s families on this requirement, with 29 grandparents signing in on Friday with a working with children clearance," they told the Herald Sun. </p> <p>“We acknowledge the disappointing experience of the four grandparents who couldn’t attend the grandparents’ day and are attempting to call these families this morning.”</p> <p><em>Images: Sunrise/ The Herald Sun</em></p>

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All the head-turning looks from the 2024 Met Gala

<p>Known as "fashion's biggest night out", the Met Gala 2024 has kicked off in spectacular style with A-listers from all over the world gracing the carpet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. </p> <p>The event, which is a fundraising event for the Met, is held every year on the first Monday of May, to celebrate the Costume Institute’s new exhibition, “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion”.</p> <p>The dress code this year, The Garden of Time, is said to be inspired by a short story of the same title written by JG Ballard in 1962. </p> <p>The who's who of Hollywood hit the carpet at the Met this year, led by actress Zendaya, who is this year's co-chair of the event after returning to the Gala for the first time in five years. </p> <p>Many Aussie superstars walked the carpet, such as Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, Naomi Watts, Troye Sivan, Chris Hemsworth and Kylie Minogue, who attended for the first time since 2014.</p> <p>Hugh Jackman also graced the Met carpet solo for the first time, last attending alongside his now ex-wife Deborra Lee-Furness in 2023. </p> <p>The Aussie actor took to Instagram to share that his dapper Tom Ford tuxedo was the very same outfit that he wore to his first Met Gala in 2004 that had been "refitted and repaired". </p> <p>Other Hollywood legends that graced the carpet included Sarah Jessica Parker, Meg Ryan, Jennifer Lopez, Uma Thurman, Penelope Cruz and many more. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Beauty & Style

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Kochie's thoughtful act for scam victim

<p>David Koch has given back to a hard-working Aussie who lost her life savings to a convincing scam. </p> <p>For many years, scammers have been using the likeness of Australian celebrities to con people out of their money. </p> <p>Kochie is just one of many high-profile personalities who have had their identities used to run convincing scams, that thousands of people have fallen victim to. </p> <p>The former <em>Sunrise</em> host has often taken to social media to warn people of the illegitimate ads, but it hasn't been enough to stop the scammers in their tracks. </p> <p>In a special <em>7News Spotlight</em> investigation, Kochie joined the team to lift the lid on the multi-billion-dollar scam industry in which fake advertisements featuring well-known celebrities have been used to con more than 600,000 Aussies.</p> <p>“It’s devastating because it’s my reputation on the line,” says Koch.</p> <p>“And these scams are so good, they’re so believable that people who trust me look at me and say, ‘Wow, I’m getting some comfort out of what this bloke is saying,’ and then are ripped off by some scammer from overseas.”</p> <p>Koch is desperately trying to stop this criminal act, saying, “I’ve reported it to the ACCC and ASIC. I’m part of an ACCC case against Meta at the moment surrounding these scam ads.”</p> <p>As part of the investigation, Kochie met Allison, who lost $250,000 when she invested her money in what she thought was a reputable company, fronted by who she believed to be the former <em>Sunrise</em> host.</p> <p>As an avid Port Adelaide supporter, she trusts Koch, who is also the Chairman of the football club.</p> <p>“Port Adelaide members are all part of a big family,” says Koch. “And the fact that these scammers use my association with the club to prey on members is just abhorrent.”</p> <p>After losing her savings, Allison has been struggling to make ends meet, and is on a payment plan so she can stay as a member of the AFL club she loves.</p> <p>After learning of her story, Koch himself has stepped in and ensured she has lifelong membership.</p> <p>“It’s the least we can do,” says Koch to Allison. “Because, football has got to be your haven.”</p> <p>Allison is just one of the many victims of complex scams in Australia, with reporter Sarah Greenhalgh believes millions of dollars have been illegally stolen.</p> <p>“The scammers successfully prey on these people’s unique vulnerabilities and the victims’ lives have changed forever as a result,” she says.</p> <p><em>Image credits: 7News Spotlight</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Home and Away star's secret split

<p>Ada Nicodemou has reportedly split from her partner Sydney businessman Adam Rigby, after eight years of dating. </p> <p>According to <em>The Daily Telegraph</em>, the actress quietly parted ways with her partner at the end of last year. </p> <p>“Everything is amicable,” a close friend of the couple told the publication. </p> <p>“They remain friends but decided to go their separate ways.”</p> <p>Nicodemou, known for her role as Leah on <em>Home and Away</em>, first met Rigby at a work event in 2016, who had no idea who she was as he never watched the iconic soap. </p> <p>The two then debuted their relationship at the Logie Awards in 2018.</p> <p>Although the actress has been protective and private about her personal life, she had previously gushed about Rigby and how he was a great stepdad to her son Johnas, who she shares with her ex-husband Chrys Xipolitas.</p> <p>“Adam and Johnas adore each other; he’s such a great stepdad and has really stepped up,” she told <em>TV Week</em> at the time. </p> <p>“For a man to come into my world and love a child as if he were his own – and love me like I’ve never been loved before – is incredibly special.”</p> <p>She had also featured Rigby on her Instagram a few times. </p> <p>News of the split comes weeks after Nicodemou's co-star and onscreen husband James Stewart split from his wife former <em>Home and Away </em>actress<em> </em>Sarah Roberts. </p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Relationships

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Stamp duty is holding us back from moving homes – we’ve worked out how much

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-garvin-1453835">Nick Garvin</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p>If just one state of Australia, New South Wales, scrapped its stamp duty on real-estate transactions, about 100,000 more Australians would move homes each year, according to our <a href="https://e61.in/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Stamp-duty-effects-on-purchases-and-moves.pdf">best estimates</a>.</p> <p>Stamp duty is an unquestioned part of buying a home in Australia – you put your details in an online mortgage calculator, and stamp duty is automatically deducted from the amount you have to contribute.</p> <p>It’s easy to overlook how much more affordable a home would be without it.</p> <p>That means it’s also easy to overlook how much more Australians would buy and move if stamp duty wasn’t there.</p> <p>The 2010 Henry Tax Review found stamp duty was <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-10/afts_final_report_part_2_vol_1_consolidated.pdf">inequitable</a>. It taxes most the people who most need to or want to move.</p> <p>The review reported: "Ideally, there would be no role for any stamp duties, including conveyancing stamp duties, in a modern Australian tax system. Recognising the revenue needs of the States, the removal of stamp duty should be achieved through a switch to more efficient taxes, such as those levied on broad consumption or land bases."</p> <p>But does stamp duty actually stop anyone moving? It’s a claim more often made than assessed, which is what our team at the <a href="https://e61.in/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Stamp-duty-effects-on-purchases-and-moves.pdf">e61 Institute</a> set out to do.</p> <p>We used real-estate transaction data and a natural experiment.</p> <h2>What happened when Queensland hiked stamp duty</h2> <p>In 2011, Queensland hiked stamp duty for most buyers by removing some concessions for owner-occupiers at short notice.</p> <p>For owner-occupiers it increased stamp duty by about one percentage point, lifting the average rate from 1.26% of the purchase price to 2.27%.</p> <p>What we found gives us the best estimate to date of what stamp duty does to home purchases.</p> <p>A one percentage point increase in stamp duty causes the number of home purchases to decline by 7.2%.</p> <p>The number of moves (changes of address) falls by about as much.</p> <p>The effect appears to be indiscriminate. Purchases of houses fell about as much as purchases of apartments, and purchases in cities fell about as much as purchases in regions.</p> <p>Moves between suburbs and moves interstate dropped by similar rates.</p> <p>With NSW stamp duty currently averaging about <a href="https://conveyancing.com.au/need-to-know/stamp-duty-nsw">3.5%</a> of the purchase price, our estimates suggest there would be about 25% more purchases and moves by home owners if it were scrapped completely. That’s 100,000 moves.</p> <p>Victoria’s higher rate of stamp duty, about <a href="https://www.sro.vic.gov.au/rates-taxes-duties-and-levies/general-land-transfer-duty-property-current-rates">4.2%</a>, means if it was scrapped there would be about 30% more purchases. That’s another 90,000 moves.</p> <h2>Even low headline rates have big effects</h2> <p>The big effect from small-looking headline rates ought not to be surprising.</p> <p>When someone buys a home, they typically front up much less cash than the purchase price. While stamp duty seems low as a percentage of the purchase price, it is high as a percentage of the cash the buyer needs to find.</p> <p>Here’s an example. If stamp duty is 4% of the purchase price, and a purchaser pays $800,000 for a property with a mortgage deposit of $160,000, the $32,000 stamp duty adds 20%, not 4%, to what’s needed.</p> <p>If the deposit takes five years to save, stamp duty makes it six.</p> <p>A similar thing happens when an owner-occupier changes address. If the buyer sells a fully owned home for $700,000 and buys a new home for $800,000, the upgrade ought to cost them $100,000. A 4% stamp duty lifts that to $132,000.</p> <p>Averaged across all Australian cities, stamp duty costs about <a href="https://e61.in/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Stepped-on-by-Stamp-Duty.pdf">five months</a> of after-tax earnings. In Sydney and Melbourne, it’s six.</p> <h2>Stamp duty has bracket creep</h2> <p>This cost has steadily climbed from around <a href="https://e61.in/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Stepped-on-by-Stamp-Duty.pdf">six weeks</a> of total earnings in the 1990s. It has happened because home prices have climbed faster than incomes and because stamp duty has brackets, meaning more buyers have been pushed into higher ones.</p> <p>Replacing the stamp duty revenue that states have come to rely on would not be easy, but a switch would almost certainly help the economy function better.</p> <p>The more that people are able to move, the more they will move to jobs to which they are better suited, boosting productivity.</p> <p>The more that people downsize when they want to, the more housing will be made available for others.</p> <p>Our findings suggest the costs are far from trivial, making a switch away from stamp duty worthwhile, even if it is disruptive and takes time.<!-- 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/225773/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/nick-garvin-1453835">Nick Garvin</a>, Adjunct Fellow, Department of Economics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie 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/stamp-duty-is-holding-us-back-from-moving-homes-weve-worked-out-how-much-225773">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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Independent you: preventing, and recovering from, elder abuse

<p>From implementing safeguards to stop it from beginning to taking back control if it does, there is a lot of power in your hands to avoid elder abuse.</p> <p>Previously, we explored the warning signs of elder abuse and how <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/retirement-income/are-you-a-victim-of-elder-abuse-without-even-realising-it">it is possible to be a victim without even realising it</a>.</p> <p>And with more wealth owned by people over 60 now than ever before, the potential for abuse only continues to grow.</p> <p>So, how can you prevent elder abuse happening to you? And if you are already experiencing it, what can you do to regain control over your finances, independence and wellbeing? </p> <p><strong>Prevention better than cure</strong></p> <p>The best way to avoid the impacts of elder abuse is to protect yourself against it beginning in the first place.</p> <p>Awareness is the first step, so having <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/retirement-income/are-you-a-victim-of-elder-abuse-without-even-realising-it">read this article and knowing the warning signs</a>, you’re already ahead of the game!</p> <p>Other preventative actions include:</p> <ul> <li>Maintaining contact: social interactions are important not just for warding off loneliness but providing access to other points of view and avenues for support. </li> <li>External advisers: engage your own advisers – don’t simply employ who someone tells you to. They should be an impartial, qualified set of eyes to monitor things for you and point out anything that doesn’t seem right. This includes a financial advisor, lawyer, accountant, doctor and so on. A support person attending appointments with you may give you extra assurance.</li> <li>Power of attorney/guardianship: nominate multiple people, so that no one individual has all the say. It can be useful to include someone who is not a relative for impartiality, such as a trusted friend or your lawyer. </li> <li>Superannuation beneficiaries: super is separate from your will, but beneficiary nominations can only be spouse, child, dependent or interdependent otherwise it will go to you Will.  In your Will you can direct to other people or charities. Some beneficiaries lapse, so will need to be renewed.</li> <li>Wills: review your will to ensure it reflects YOUR wishes, not someone else’s. People can jostle over not only their own inheritance but may try to influence you to leave others out. </li> <li>Documenting everything: keep a written record, especially where money is concerned – such as acting as Bank of Mum and Dad for adult kids to purchase property. Outline how much is given, what if any interest/repayments are expected and when, and what happens if their relationship subsequently breaks down.</li> <li>Encouraging independence: people who have come to expect handouts can become abusive if those handouts stop or requests for more are denied. Support and encourage others, especially your kids, to be financially independent and self-sufficient.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Taking back control</strong></p> <p>Sadly, prevention is no longer an option for an <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/family-domestic-and-sexual-violence/population-groups/older-people?xd_co_f=YjAzZDU4YTUtYzA5YS00YTNkLWJkNDQtNjdiZTM5ZmY5ZjQx#abuse">estimated 598,000 Australians</a> already experiencing elder abuse. However, it is still possible to break the cycle.</p> <p>Don’t be embarrassed or stick your head in the sand hoping things will improve. You have done nothing wrong. You are entitled to enjoy your retirement years.</p> <p>To take back control over your affairs, your wellbeing and your independence:</p> <ul> <li>Ensure your physical safety first and foremost.</li> <li>Seek medical attention for your physical and mental health (the latter is crucial for making good decisions around the other points on this list).</li> <li>Get support from another relative, close friend, neighbour, or other trusted person. Don’t be alone.</li> <li>Secure a roof over your head. Having a stable place to live gives you the security and focus to tackle other concerns.</li> <li>Freeze access to your money – bank accounts, credit cards etc. This will stop (further) unauthorised withdrawals or purchases being charged to you.</li> <li>Seek professional advice. Your financial adviser, tax accountant and lawyer will be able to guide you through protecting your home, money, guardianship and estate planning matters.</li> <li>Make informed changes. Don’t do anything rashly – make necessary changes once you have sought independent advice and considered your options. This may involve making changes to your power of attorney, will, superannuation, bank accounts, even your phone number in extreme cases.</li> <li>Consider counselling. Your abuser may not realise the severity of their actions. An independent counsellor may be able to help them see this and change their ways, and ultimately salvage your relationship.</li> </ul> <p>If you or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, seek help straight away. Speak to a trusted relative or friend. Seek independent legal and financial advice about your affairs. Or call the government’s free elder abuse line on 1800 353 374. And if your life is in danger, call triple zero (000) immediately.</p> <p><strong><em>Helen Baker is a licensed Australian financial adviser and author of On Your Own Two Feet: The Essential Guide to Financial Independence for all Women. Helen is among the 1% of financial planners who hold a master’s degree in the field. Proceeds from book sales are donated to charities supporting disadvantaged women and children. Find out more at <a href="http://www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au/">www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au</a></em></strong></p> <p><strong><em>Disclaimer: The information in this article is of a general nature only and does not constitute personal financial or product advice. Any opinions or views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent those of people, institutions or organisations the owner may be associated with in a professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated. Helen Baker is an authorised representative of BPW Partners Pty Ltd AFSL 548754.</em></strong></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

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