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"What a life lived!": Fashion icon dies age 102

<p>New York designer and style icon Iris Apfel has passed away aged 102. </p> <p>Her death was confirmed by her commercial agent, Lori Sale, who called Apfel "extraordinary", although no cause of death was given. </p> <p>Apfel, who was born on August 29, 1921, was known for her eccentric outfits, oversized black-rimmed glasses, bright red lipstick and short white hair. </p> <p>Her death was also announced on the fashion icon's official Instagram page, on Friday US time, just one day after she celebrated her 102nd-and-a-half birthday. </p> <p>"Working alongside her was the honour of a lifetime. I will miss her daily calls, always greeted with the familiar question: 'What have you got for me today?'" Sale said in a statement.</p> <p>"She was a visionary in every sense of the word. She saw the world through a unique lens — one adorned with giant, distinctive spectacles that sat atop her nose."</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/C3_geMFu15Y/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C3_geMFu15Y/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Iris Apfel (@iris.apfel)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p> </p> <p>Apfel was an expert on textiles and antique fabrics. She and her husband Carl owned textile manufacturing company, Old World Weavers, which specialised in restoration work, including projects at the White House under six different US presidents.</p> <p>Apfel first rose to fame in 2005 when the curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute hosted a show about her called "Rara Avis". Latin for "rare bird".  </p> <p>They showcased the personal collection of vintage and designer accessories which were style on mannequins dressed in clothes Apfel would wear, and the exhibit became an instant success.</p> <p>Following the exhibit Apfel was awarded several opportunities including featuring in a 2007 coffee table book, a 2012 MAC Cosmetics campaign, and a 2014 documentary about her life, which was nominated for an Emmy award three years later. </p> <p>Apfel was also gained popularity among the younger generation, with over 3 million followers on Instagram, and over 250,000 on TikTok. </p> <p>"More is more & Less is a Bore," the bio read across her social media platforms. </p> <p>Despite her age, Apfel never retired, and told <em>Today</em>: "I think retiring at any age is a fate worse than death. Just because a number comes up doesn't mean you have to stop."</p> <p>Tributes have poured in from fans across the world. </p> <p>"What a life lived! What an example set! What footsteps you have left behind! Rest peacefully, icon!" one wrote. </p> <p>"She inspired so many women to be bold, and brave and truly authentic….to ignore the number of years we have lived and view age as an opportunity to shine. What a beautiful legacy," another added. </p> <p>"What a blessing to live that long and look that fabulous doing it," wrote a third. </p> <p>The style icon was married to Carl Apfel for 67 years until his death in 2015. They had no children. </p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p> <p> </p>

Caring

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We looked at 700 plant-based foods to see how healthy they really are. Here’s what we found

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/laura-marchese-1271636">Laura Marchese</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katherine-livingstone-324808">Katherine Livingstone</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p>If you’re thinking about buying plant-based foods, a trip to the supermarket can leave you bewildered.</p> <p>There are plant-based burgers, sausages and mince. The fridges are loaded with non-dairy milk, cheese and yoghurt. Then there are the tins of beans and packets of tofu.</p> <p>But how much is actually healthy?</p> <p>Our nutritional audit of more than 700 plant-based foods for sale in Australian supermarkets has just been <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889157524000516">published</a>. We found some products are so high in salt or saturated fat, we’d struggle to call them “healthy”.</p> <h2>We took (several) trips to the supermarket</h2> <p>In 2022, we visited two of each of four major supermarket retailers across Melbourne to collect information on the available range of plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products.</p> <p>We took pictures of the products and their nutrition labels.</p> <p>We then analysed the nutrition information on the packaging of more than 700 of these products. This included 236 meat substitutes, 169 legumes and pulses, 50 baked beans, 157 dairy milk substitutes, 52 cheese substitutes and 40 non-dairy yoghurts.</p> <h2>Plant-based meats were surprisingly salty</h2> <p>We found a wide range of plant-based meats for sale. So, it’s not surprising we found large variations in their nutrition content.</p> <p>Sodium, found in added salt and which contributes to <a href="https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/bundles/healthy-living-and-eating/salt-and-heart-health">high blood pressure</a>, was our greatest concern.</p> <p>The sodium content varied from 1 milligram per 100 grams in products such as tofu, to 2,000mg per 100g in items such as plant-based mince products.</p> <p>This means we could eat our entire <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/salt">daily recommended sodium intake</a> in just one bowl of plant-based mince.</p> <p>An <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09637486.2022.2137786">audit</a> of 66 plant-based meat products in Australian supermarkets conducted in 2014 found sodium ranged from 316mg in legume-based products to 640mg in tofu products, per 100g. In a <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/11/2603">2019 audit</a> of 137 products, the range was up to 1,200mg per 100g.</p> <p>In other words, the results of our audit seems to show a consistent trend of plant-based meats <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09637486.2022.2137786">getting saltier</a>.</p> <h2>What about plant-based milks?</h2> <p>Some 70% of the plant-based milks we audited were fortified with calcium, a nutrient important for <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/calcium">bone health</a>.</p> <p>This is good news as a <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/5/1254">2019-2020 audit</a> of 115 plant-based milks from Melbourne and Sydney found only 43% of plant-based milks were fortified with calcium.</p> <p>Of the fortified milks in our audit, almost three-quarters (73%) contained the <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups/milk-yoghurt-cheese-andor-their-alternatives-mostly-reduced-fat">recommended amount of calcium</a> – at least 100mg per 100mL.</p> <p>We also looked at the saturated fat content of plant-based milks.</p> <p>Coconut-based milks had on average up to six times higher saturated fat content than almond, oat or soy milks.</p> <p><a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/5/1254">Previous audits</a> also found coconut-based milks were much higher in saturated fat than all other categories of milks.</p> <h2>A first look at cheese and yoghurt alternatives</h2> <p>Our audit is the first study to identify the range of cheese and yoghurt alternatives available in Australian supermarkets.</p> <p>Calcium was only labelled on a third of plant-based yoghurts, and only 20% of supermarket options met the recommended 100mg of calcium per 100g.</p> <p>For plant-based cheeses, most (92%) were not fortified with calcium. Their sodium content varied from 390mg to 1,400mg per 100g, and saturated fat ranged from 0g to 28g per 100g.</p> <h2>So, what should we consider when shopping?</h2> <p>As a general principle, try to choose whole plant foods, such as unprocessed legumes, beans or tofu. These foods are packed with vitamins and minerals. They’re also high in dietary fibre, which is good for your gut health and keeps you fuller for longer.</p> <p>If opting for a processed plant-based food, here are five tips for choosing a healthier option.</p> <p><strong>1. Watch the sodium</strong></p> <p>Plant-based meat alternatives can be high in sodium, so look for products that have <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/eating-well/how-understand-food-labels/food-labels-what-look">around</a> 150-250mg sodium per 100g.</p> <p><strong>2. Pick canned beans and legumes</strong></p> <p>Canned chickpeas, lentils and beans can be healthy and low-cost <a href="https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/getmedia/71522940-decf-436a-ba44-cd890dc18036/Meat-Free-Recipe-Booklet.pdf">additions to many meals</a>. Where you can, choose canned varieties with no added salt, especially when buying baked beans.</p> <p><strong>3. Add herbs and spices to your tofu</strong></p> <p>Tofu can be a great alternative to meat. Check the label and pick the option with the highest calcium content. We found flavoured tofu was higher in salt and sugar content than minimally processed tofu. So it’s best to pick an unflavoured option and add your own flavours with spices and herbs.</p> <p><strong>4. Check the calcium</strong></p> <p>When choosing a non-dairy alternative to milk, such as those made from soy, oat, or rice, check it is fortified with calcium. A good alternative to traditional dairy will have at least 100mg of calcium per 100g.</p> <p><strong>5. Watch for saturated fat</strong></p> <p>If looking for a lower saturated fat option, almond, soy, rice and oat varieties of milk and yoghurt alternatives have much lower saturated fat content than coconut options. Pick those with less than 3g per 100g.<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/222991/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/laura-marchese-1271636">Laura Marchese</a>, PhD Student at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katherine-livingstone-324808">Katherine Livingstone</a>, NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin 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/we-looked-at-700-plant-based-foods-to-see-how-healthy-they-really-are-heres-what-we-found-222991">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

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Foods to avoid if you have acid reflux or digestion issues

<p><strong>What common foods are good and bad for your belly?</strong></p> <p>Foods containing rapidly fermentable carbohydrates called FODMAPs can feed bacteria in the gut and may be responsible for gut inflammation, gas, bloating and other uncomfortable tummy troubles in some people. Cutting back on foods that contain FODMAPs may help improve your digestion and eliminate GI problems. </p> <p>“An anti-inflammatory diet is high in fibre-rich foods, which promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut (one way the diet assists to control inflammation),” says registered dietitian Maxine Smith. A FODMAP diet, which is low in fermentable carbohydrates, is low in fibre and may be beneficial for some people with gastrointestinal problems. </p> <p>In general, a low FODMAPs diet isn’t recommended for people unless they have a condition like irritable bowel syndrome that hasn’t responded to other treatments or dietary changes.</p> <p><strong>Watermelon: Avoid</strong></p> <p>This lovely summer treat isn’t as harmless as all the water it contains. Watermelon is high in fructose, fructans and polyols, which are FODMAPs. Remember, the more the FODMAPs, the more potential for tummy trouble in people who are sensitive to them.</p> <p><strong>Fermented foods: Enjoy some, avoid some</strong></p> <p>Some fermented foods are good for your tummy; others can create problems for certain people, according to an article published by Harvard Medical School. Fermented foods include wine, cheese, vinegar, miso, yoghurt, sauerkraut and pickles. </p> <p>In yoghurt, milk is combined with bacteria that break down some of the lactose, so what remains may be easier for your stomach to process. So fermented foods such as yoghurt are often considered “probiotic foods” that are good for your gut. Look for dairy products that are low in lactose and your digestion should be A-OK.</p> <p><strong>Pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts and almonds: Avoid</strong></p> <p>Most nuts are good for your tummy, but pistachios and cashews are high in fructans and GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides), both FODMAPs. Hazelnuts and almonds are a little higher in FODMAPs than some other nuts so eat them in limited quantities (10 nuts or 1 tablespoon of nut butter per serving). Steer clear of almond milk, which is made with large amounts of almonds.</p> <p><strong>Acidic foods: Enjoy with caution</strong></p> <p>In almost every list of “the worst foods for digestion,” you’ll find acidic foods like oranges and tomatoes. These are commonly thought to cause heartburn, but studies have shown that acidic foods don’t have any effect on LES pressure (or pressure on the lower oesophageal sphincter, a valve that acts as the doorway between the oesophagus and the stomach) and don’t cause heartburn symptoms. </p> <p>However, if you have severe acid reflux that hasn’t been treated and has irritated the oesophagus, acidic foods can be like “salt in the wound.” So if you find that oranges or tomatoes do make your heartburn feel worse, replace them with other fruits.</p> <p><strong>Dairy foods: Enjoy some, avoid some</strong></p> <p>Not all dairy foods have equal amounts of lactose, which can cause digestion issues, and even those with lactose intolerance are usually okay with small amounts of lactose. That means that not all milk, cheeses and dairy products are tummy twisters. </p> <p>Hard cheeses, like cheddar, Swiss or Parmesan, generally have less than a gram of lactose per serving. According to the Cleveland Clinic, you may want to avoid dairy such as “chocolate shakes or drinks, milkshakes, whole milk fat yoghurt, whole milk fat (4%) cottage cheese, and full-fat cheese.”</p> <p><strong>Soy foods: Enjoy some, avoid some</strong></p> <p>Whole soybeans (often sold as edamame), like other beans, are a source of GOS, which are hard-to-digest chains of sugars. Tofu and tempeh are made using processes that eliminate some of the GOS, making them easier on your digestion. What about soy milk? It depends. </p> <p>If soy milk is made with only soybean isolates or soy protein, then it should be low in FODMAPs. Soy milk made with whole soybeans is likely a source of GOS, making it a gassy beverage for some, so read the ingredients.</p> <p><strong>Blackberries: Avoid</strong></p> <p>Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries – which is the odd one out here? Blackberries are also rich in antioxidants, but they have sugar alcohols called polyols, which are difficult to digest and can cause some real problems if your stomach is sensitive. (Check out these foods that GI doctors always avoid.)</p> <p><strong>Tomato and tomato products: Enjoy some, avoid some</strong></p> <p>Fresh and canned tomatoes are fine for your tummy. But tomato paste is a concentrated form of tomato that has excess fructose, a FODMAP that makes it a no-no except in small quantities. And tomato sauces? If they’re homemade, they’re fine to eat (just don’t cook it to the point where all the juices are lost). </p> <p>Most commercial sauces have onions and garlic (FODMAPs), added sugar (which may make it carb-dense), and salt (which bloats you), so steer clear of the store-bought variety.</p> <p><strong>Grapefruit: Enjoy with caution</strong></p> <p>Grapefruit does have hard-to-digest fructans, so you should try to limit how much you eat. A few sections should be okay, but don’t eat a half a grapefruit. If you’re looking for citrus, lemon, lime and oranges are your best bets.</p> <p><strong>Milk: Enjoy some, avoid some</strong></p> <p>Most types of animal milk are high in tummy twisting lactose – that means goat’s or sheep’s milk can be just as problematic as cow’s milk. Plant-based milks, such as coconut milk, soy milk or almond milk, are technically not milk at all and generally do not have any lactose. </p> <p>Some, however, including almond milk and soy milk, may contain other FODMAPs that harm your digestion.</p> <p><strong>Corn: Avoid</strong></p> <p>Corn comes in many varieties, such as popcorn, on the cob and in polenta. Fresh sweet corn contains two types of FODMAPs, making corn challenging for some people to digest. Popcorn feels like a light and healthy snack, but it’s actually carb-dense (it has about 64 grams of carbs per 100 grams), which can upset digestion. </p> <p>Whole cornmeal and corn tortillas seem to be better tolerated by most people. Whole grain polenta is also low in FODMAPs. You may need to experiment a little to figure out which corn products work for you. And stick with only limited quantities (up to 1 cup cooked per serving).</p> <p><strong>Common cabbage: Enjoy</strong></p> <p>Cabbage usually makes it on all the lists of foods that make you gassy, but common green cabbage doesn’t deserve that reputation. It’s actually low in FODMAPs and most of us break it down very well. </p> <p>Red cabbage also seems to be well-tolerated, but savoy and napa cabbage is much higher in FODMAPs and should be limited if you tend to suffer from gas and bloating.</p> <p><strong>Hot sauce: Enjoy with caution</strong></p> <p>Tolerance to hot sauce is very individual. It’s more problematic for those with heartburn. If you would like to try some, pick a brand without onion and garlic.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/healthsmart/conditions/foods-to-avoid-if-you-have-acid-reflux-or-digestion-issues?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>.</em></p>

Body

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Devastating new details emerge on Heath Ledger's death

<p>New details have emerged about the hours after Heath Ledger's death, as a Hollywood director has shared how he found out about Ledger's passing. </p> <p>Heath Ledger was found dead in his New York loft on January 22nd 2008, with his death being ruled as an accidental overdose and attributed to a mixture of prescription drugs, including OxyContin, Vicodin, Valium, Xanax, Unisom and Restoril.</p> <p>Now, 16 years on from the high profile death, Hollywood director Stephen Gaghan has shared how he found out about Heath's death. </p> <p>At the time of his passing, Ledger and Gaghan were working together on an adaptation of Malcolm Gladwell’s novel <em>Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking</em>.</p> <p>Appearing on Malcolm Gladwell's <em>Revisionist History</em> podcast, in which the novelist discusses abandoned projects, Gaghan recalled getting a phone call from Ledger's father when his body was found. </p> <p>“They were there with the body and our script was in bed with him, and your book was on the bedside table,” he said on the podcast.</p> <p>“I think my number was on the script, like written. These guys, as you can imagine, they are in shock and they dialled that number and I don’t know why.”</p> <p>“I’m in an airport with my wife [Minnie Mortimer] just going from one place to another, and I literally just collapse, never happened to me before or since,” the director added. “My feet went out from under me. I just literally sat down because I was like, ‘What?’"</p> <p>"The emotion, what they were going through, I should not have been a party to in any way really, and yet as a human or as somebody who just cares, I just was there and I was listening and my wife was looking at me."</p> <p>"I remember her face and I was just like, I was speechless. I just listened and listened and listened. It was just really, really sad. And it’s still sad. For me, I just had to put a pin in it.”</p> <p>When discussing the adaptation of <em>Blink</em>, Gaghan shared how Leo DiCaprio was originally in on the film idea, and how the part of the lead seemed to be written especially for Ledger. </p> <p>“I’d gotten to be very, very close with him instantly,” Gaghan recalled. “I just had a real connection with him that was kind of unusual and really special to me. I got really excited and I started seeing him as the main character."</p> <p>"Once I started seeing that I couldn’t unsee it, and obviously it was very delicate in a way. Leo’s totally cool. I mean, obviously, he has a thousand choices, but in my mind it was a big deal.”</p> <p>Gaghan soon abandoned the revived project after Ledger’s untimely death.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Caring

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11 beauty trends that should have never happened

<p><strong>Avoid these beauty buzzkills at all costs</strong></p> <p>Recent years have seen particularly vibrant, eccentric and unpredictable movements in the beauty sphere. Don’t get us wrong; beauty is an aesthetic concept that is indeed subjective to the eye of the beholder, but some of these recent trends aren’t as appealing as you might think.</p> <p>While you’re recovering from the traumatic fashion trends embedded in our history, take comfort in knowing that just about every decade has encountered questionable decisions – whether that be sartorial or cosmetic. If the thought of sporting orange Crocs and popcorn shirts makes you cringe, consider discarding these unflattering beauty trends as well. </p> <p>As proven peeves for guys, makeup artists and job employers alike, these 11 beauty trends actually do the opposite of their intended purpose.</p> <p><strong>Overly sticky lip gloss</strong></p> <p>We all love to sport a glossy pout, but when your lips are so sticky that they begin to look like you doused your mouth in maple syrup, that’s a problem. Wearing it outside especially doesn’t help; nobody likes spending the day with sticky, raspberry pink-streaked strands. Not surprisingly, men aren’t fans of it either; surveys have found that the majority of men vote against women donning it on a dinner date. </p> <p>Not only does it diminish the whole effortless, woke-up-like-this impression you’re trying to pull off, but nobody wants to make out with super glue. Instead, try opting for long-lasting lip tints that moisturise with a subtle sheen.</p> <p><strong>Extensive self-tanner</strong></p> <p>Unless you’re naturally blessed with the wondrous genes of a luminous rose gold complexion, the rest of us mere mortals have been turning to self-tanners to bestow that subtle bronze glow. </p> <p>This doesn’t come with no strings attached however; not only can it ruin that expensive white cashmere sweater you just bought, one coat too many and you’ll begin to resemble a baked pastry. Instead of that “fresh-out-of-the-oven” look, try a tinted moisturiser instead.</p> <p><strong>Stiff hair </strong></p> <p>Applying too much hairspray can make your locks crunchier than a forest floor during September. Instead of spritzing half a bottle of hairspray on your poor scalp, keep it minimal or natural.</p> <p><strong>Hair add-ins </strong></p> <p>While synthetic clip-ons can be cute on a kid or at Coachella, feathers, extensions, and bells on a regular basis can come off rather childish. </p> <p>To prevent looking like a walking Christmas tree (and avoid making your hair look like an arts-and-crafts project), opt for dangling these trinkets on handbags or sporting them as jewellery instead.</p> <p><strong>Neon lips </strong></p> <p>While we’ve all seen the numerous images floating of (admittedly cool-looking) vibrant lipstick styles all over Pinterest, we’re still left scratching our heads as to what public setting one can don a neon green pout. </p> <p>Sporting electrifying colours too drastically divergent from your natural lip colour may make yourself come off as unprofessional and overly aggressive, so it’s best to stay away from the popping lips if you’re attending a job interview.</p> <p><strong>Wet hair look</strong></p> <p>Makeup artists worldwide have predicted this to be the major hair trend of the year. With celebrities like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Kim Kardashian West donning it on red carpets and said to have been inspired from Calvin Klein’s campaigns in the ‘90s, it has caught major spotlight everywhere. </p> <p>Although the tousled, wet hair look may look nice on the beachside, having a twist with too much slick on the streets may just come across as greasy, unwashed hair.</p> <p><strong>Colour-blocked makeup </strong></p> <p>Colour-blocking on clothing is undeniably chic, but colour-blocked makeup can make your face appear much too angular, and not in a good way. If you want to avoid looking like a makeup novice, don’t neglect the blending brush.</p> <p><strong>Hangover makeup</strong></p> <p>You know those mornings after a particularly rough night out, and you awaken to the sight of a bloated, saggy face?  Well, now there’s a makeup trend striving for just that. A new trend known as “hangover beauty,” this look praises “aegyo-sal” (translated into “charming fat”), striving to highlight the puffiness under one’s eyes. </p> <p>To achieve the look, one has to line the bags underneath the eye and add blush above the cheekbones before blending them together into a reddish hue. This one’s pretty straightforward: don’t try to enhance what the rest of society usually tries to cover up. </p> <p>While having your eyes appear puffy and red-rimmed may have been an intentional choice for you, chances are people are just going to wonder how much sleep you got last night.</p> <p><strong>Furry nails</strong></p> <p>Ever since Jan Arnold, renown co-founder of CND nail polish, showcased furry nails on the runway, people have been plastering actual faux fur on their nails. Several obvious questions arise to the impracticality factor of this trend (how do you even eat or wash your hands with those?), but this nail art might be stretching it a tad too far, even for nail aficionados. </p> <p>You don’t want someone holding your hand to feel like he’s on a date with Sasquatch, so stick with the gel and acrylic for first impressions.</p> <p><strong>Stark ombre hair </strong></p> <p>Don’t get us wrong; we love ombre for many reasons – when done right. The biggest advice you could take for this is to seriously invest in a reputable hair stylist, or else your hair may just end up looking like you are in desperate need of a root touch-up. </p> <p>Never go cheap with ombre, and make sure your colour transition is gradual as opposed to stark.</p> <p><strong>Bleached brows</strong></p> <p>We have Cara Delevingne to thank for sparking the brow obsession; the pencil-thin arches reminiscent of the ’90s have officially been eliminated for thicker, fuller brows. But if you thought microblading was a bold move, think again. </p> <p>Stars like Katy Perry, Kendall Jenner and Rita Ora have all plunged into the peroxide party, inciting an entire movement of people grabbing the bleach to make their arches completely invisible. While that’s fine and all – if you’re into that sort of thing – fuller brows are proven to make you look younger.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article was originally published on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/healthsmart/beauty/11-beauty-trends-that-should-have-never-happened?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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"Go enjoy your life": Young woman announces her own death

<p>A young woman has announced the news of her own death after a gruelling battle with cancer, while sharing her wishes for her grieving loved ones. </p> <p>Daniella Thackray, a 25-year-old from Leeds, took to social media to share the her heart-breaking final words, after an eight-month battle with the rare disease. </p> <p>The young digital marketing specialist had pre-written the message for her family to post on her behalf after dying of cholangiocarcinoma, a type of cancer that forms in the bile ducts.</p> <p>The emotional message paid tribute to her family, fiancé Tom, and dog Leo, as she encouraged her loved ones to “enjoy the little things” in life and “cherish every moment” after she had “gone”.</p> <p>She wrote: “If you’re reading this then it means I have died from my battle with cancer and my family are posting my final message on my behalf.</p> <p>“Firstly, I just want to say that not all cancers are caused by lifestyle choices, in some cases it’s genetics or unfortunately it just happens." </p> <p>“In my case, despite me being very healthy and active, a cancer started in my bile ducts which was not caused by anything in my control and my life was never the same again."</p> <p>“Cholangiocarinoma is a rare aggressive cancer with often no obvious causes and no cure’.. I really really do hope that in the years to come more research is done about this horrid cruel disease so that more lives can be saved.”</p> <p>Despite her devastating diagnosis, she chose “not to mourn life” and make the most of her time. </p> <p>Daniella added: “So with that being said, although we can’t control what happens to us, we can control how we react. I chose not to mourn the life I was losing despite being so devastated, but to instead enjoy every moment I had left."</p> <p>“As I have always said and believed, you should enjoy the little things in life and cherish every moment! Romanticise your life! Do whatever makes you happy and don’t let anyone take the joy of life away from you." </p> <p>“I LOVED my life. Everything I had achieved was what I wanted. I loved my job, my fiancé, my family, my friends and my dog, and the house we were going to buy and the future we were making for ourselves."</p> <p>“Leo my fur baby was definitely brought into my life to help brighten my darkest days."</p> <p>“And lastly to my dear, beautiful Tom, I love you and always will. Thank you for supporting me and bringing so much love and happiness into my life. Go enjoy your life now, you deserve it.”</p> <p>Her message has already gained more than 30,000 likes, while hundreds of people rushed to leave their condolences to her loved ones.</p> <p>One person wrote, "Such courageous words from someone that I’ve never met. What a wonderful message to leave us with, may you rest in paradise.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook</em></p>

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Young musician dies weeks after writing final song

<p>Cat Janice has died aged 31 with her family by her side.</p> <p>The young musician, who had a large following on TikTok, had been battling cancer since January 2022 when doctors diagnosed her with sarcoma, a rare malignant tumour. </p> <p>She was declared cancer-free on July 22 that same year, following extensive surgery, chemo and radiation therapy. </p> <p>The mum-of-one was sadly re-diagnosed with cancer in June last year and despite fighting hard in the second round of her treatments, Janice told fans in January that her cancer "won" and that she "fought hard but sarcomas are too tough".</p> <p>Janice's family have announced her passing in a statement shared to her Instagram. </p> <p>"From her childhood home and surrounded by her loving family, Catherine peacefully entered the light and love of her heavenly creator," they said. </p> <p>"We are eternally thankful for the outpouring of love that Catherine and our family have received over the past few months."</p> <p>Before she died, Janice publicly announced that all her music would be signed over to her 7-year-old son, Loren, to support him in the future. </p> <p>Just weeks before her death, she released her final song <em>Dance You Outta My Head </em> in the hope it would spread "joy and fun". </p> <p>"My last joy would be if you pre saved my song 'Dance You Outta My Head' and streamed it because all proceeds go straight to my 7-year-old boy I'm leaving behind," she said, before the song was released. </p> <p>The song went viral, and took he number one spot in several countries and the number five spot on the Apple Itunes globally.</p> <p>Her family have said that the love she received for her final song, was unbelievable parting gift she could have ever received.</p> <p>"Cat saw her music go places she never expected and rests in the peace of knowing that she will continue to provide for her son through her music. This would not have been possible without all of you."</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

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Palace responds to bizarre conspiracy theories about Kate's whereabouts

<p>Kensington Palace has spoken out after a wave of unhinged conspiracy theories flooded social media to speculate on Kate Middleton's whereabouts. </p> <p>It's been several days since "Where is Kate Middleton?" first started trending worldwide on social media, as concerned royal fans were quick to notice the Princess of Wales hasn't been seen in public since Christmas Day. </p> <p>The 42-year-old royal underwent a “planned abdominal surgery” in January, and while Kensington Palace said at the time that she would be out of action until “at least Easter”, social media users have continued to share their <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/health/caring/kate-middleton-s-disappearance-sparks-bizarre-conspiracy-theories" target="_blank" rel="noopener">bizarre theories</a> about where she is.</p> <p>Now, as the insane theories have gained massive traction, Kensington Palace has shared a statement to advise royal fans that the Princess is simply recovering after her operation. </p> <p>The Palace reiterated their original statement, writing,  “We were very clear from the outset that the Princess of Wales was out until after Easter and Kensington Palace would only be providing updates when something was significant.”</p> <p>"That guidance stands."</p> <p>The Palace also added that Kate is well on the road to recovery as she is "doing well", and with all things going to plan with her health, she can be expected to be seen in public after Easter, as they originally made clear. </p> <p>Prince William has also spoken about his wife's recovery journey, as he met with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Renee Salt during an emotional meeting at a synagogue in London. </p> <p>"I'm sure that if your wife would've been well, she would've been here," Salt told Prince William, before offering her "best wishes" to the Princess. </p> <p>While holding her hand, Prince William said Salt's words were "very sweet" and promised to pass on her regards to his wife.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

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Iconic Star Trek actor dies suddenly at age 73

<p dir="ltr">Iconic <em>Star Trek: Enterprise</em> actor Gary Graham has passed away suddenly at the age of 73. </p> <p dir="ltr">The actor’s ex-wife Susan Lavelle confirmed the news in an emotional facebook post, sharing their family’s devastation over his death. </p> <p dir="ltr">The family chose not to disclose his cause of death, only writing that his passing was “sudden” and came as a “shock”. </p> <p dir="ltr">“It is with deep profound sadness to say that Gary Graham, my ex-husband, amazing actor and father of our beautiful only child together, Haylee Graham, has passed away today,” Lavelle wrote.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We are completely devastated, especially our daughter Haley. His wife, Becky, was by his side.”</p> <p dir="ltr">She went on to share some of her favourite things about her ex-husband, writing that he was “Funny, sarcastic sense of humour but kind, fought for what he believed in, a devout Christian and was so proud of his daughter, Haylee.”</p> <p><iframe style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fsusanashleylavelle%2Fposts%2Fpfbid0XTf8xMGFeD96Ehnk6a8X7RcKQYDxdHvvm3S82J24FX3eaNwtVo3Uax6H4SvQW3YKl&amp;show_text=true&amp;width=500" width="500" height="777" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p dir="ltr">“This was sudden, so please pray for our daughter as she navigates through this thing called grief,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Fly high into the heavens Gar!”</p> <p dir="ltr">“Thank you for our journey and thank you for the gifts you left me in acting, my love of horses and most importantly, our daughter.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Gary shot to fame in Hollywood for his role in the ‘80s series <em>Alien Nation</em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">He stayed in the world of sci-fi as he played Vulcan Ambassador Soval on <em>Star Trek: Enterprise</em> between 2001 and 2005.</p> <p dir="ltr">Gary also starred in TV series such as <em>Starsky and Hutch</em> and <em>The Dukes of Hazzard</em>, before acting alongside Tom Cruise in the film <em>All the Right Moves</em>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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UK PM causes outrage over transgender comments

<p dir="ltr">Rishi Sunak has sparked outrage after making very controversial comments about transgender people at his first party conference as leader.</p> <p dir="ltr">The UK Prime Minister, who is campaigning to get people to support his Conservative party ahead of next year’s general election, declared that “we shouldn’t get bullied into believing that people can be any sex they want to be”.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the party’s annual conference, Mr Sunak spoke for more than an hour as he promised that the Tories would break the mould of the last 30 years of government.</p> <p dir="ltr">Despite being in power for 13 years, the Conservative party is on the road to defeat the next election, after increasing dissatisfaction among voters. </p> <p dir="ltr">“We will be bold, we will be radical. We will face resistance and we will meet it,” he told delegates at the conference.</p> <p dir="ltr">Many have seen his comments about transgender people as the most bold and radical parts of his speech.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It shouldn’t be controversial for parents to know what their children are being taught in school about relationships,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Patients should know when hospitals are talking about men or women. We shouldn’t get bullied.”</p> <p dir="ltr">His delegates applauded his controversial statements, to which Sunak continued, “We shouldn’t get bullied into believing that people can be any sex they want to be. They can’t.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“A man is a man and a woman is a woman, that’s just common sense.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Sunak’s comments quickly went viral online, with many people expressing their concern over such a prominent figure making such divisive comments. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Outrageous hate, which is going to encourage bullying and physical attacks by thugs, utterly vile,” transgender British newsreader India Willoughby wrote.</p> <p dir="ltr">“If a single trans person gets attacked or murdered after today then Rishi Sunak should be arrested and charged,” added another.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Never had so many DMs from worried UK trans people and their families,” wrote a third.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The important thing following Rishi Sunak’s hate speech: IT IS NOT LAW. Nothing has changed. Trans are still legally recognised and protected. Yes it’s scary – but they do not have time to change rules/law.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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World mourns the passing of one of the true greats of cinema

<p>Renowned British-Irish actor, Sir Michael Gambon, celebrated worldwide for his iconic portrayal of Albus Dumbledore in the beloved Harry Potter film series, has passed away at the age of 82.</p> <p>In an official statement relayed by his publicist, it was confirmed that he succumbed to pneumonia, leaving his family and fans heartbroken. The statement issued by his family reads, "We are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Gambon. Beloved husband and father, Michael died peacefully in the hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus by his side."</p> <p>Michael Gambon's acting journey spanned more than half a century, with one of his most significant milestones being his assumption of the role of Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series, succeeding the late Richard Harris in 2004. In characteristic humility, Gambon downplayed his performance, often remarking that he merely portrayed himself "with a stuck-on beard and a long robe".</p> <p>The Harry Potter franchise expressed its grief, stating, "He brought immeasurable joy to Harry Potter fans from all over the world with his humour, kindness, and grace. We will forever hold his memory in our hearts."</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">We are incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of Sir Michael Gambon. He brought immeasurable joy to Harry Potter fans from all over the world with his humour, kindness and grace. We will forever hold his memory in our hearts. <a href="https://t.co/1CoTF3zeTo">pic.twitter.com/1CoTF3zeTo</a></p> <p>— Harry Potter (@harrypotter) <a href="https://twitter.com/harrypotter/status/1707371391866028071?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 28, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p>James Phelps, known for his portrayal of Fred Weasley in the series, shared a touching anecdote on Instagram, recounting how Gambon generously helped him rehearse a script during the filming of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince". Phelps hailed Gambon as both a legend on and off the camera, describing him as funny and always willing to share his knowledge.</p> <p>Gambon embarked on his acting career in the early 1960s, initially treading the boards of the stage before transitioning to television and film. His filmography boasted remarkable performances, such as his portrayal of a psychotic mob leader in Peter Greenaway's <em>The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover</em> in 1989 and his portrayal of the elderly King George V in Tom Hooper's <em>The King's Speech</em> in 2010.</p> <p>Despite an early start in engineering apprenticeship, Gambon's passion for acting remained unwavering. He recounted to <em>The Herald</em> newspaper in 2004 that he always knew he would become an actor. His breakthrough came in 1962 when he auditioned for the legendary Laurence Olivier, who subsequently appointed him as one of the founding members of the National Theatre at the Old Vic, alongside emerging talents like Derek Jacobi and Maggie Smith.</p> <p>Gambon's reputation soared on the stage, with his portrayal of Galileo in John Dexter's <em>Life of Galileo</em> in 1980 being a standout moment. In the 1980s, his lead role in the TV series <em>The Singing Detective</em> garnered widespread acclaim, earning him one of his four BAFTA Awards. Additionally, he clinched three Olivier Awards and two Screen Actors Guild Awards for ensemble cast performances in <em>Gosford Park</em> (2001) and <em>The King's Speech</em>.</p> <p>Acknowledged for his contributions to drama, Gambon was honoured as a Commander of the British Empire in 1992 and subsequently knighted in 1998. Despite these prestigious titles, he often displayed a mischievous side, weaving tales such as showing fellow actors a forged signed photograph of Robert De Niro, among other playful antics.</p> <p>In 2015, Gambon retired from the stage due to long-term memory issues, yet he continued to grace the screen with his talent until 2019. In a 2002 interview, he expressed that his work made him feel "the luckiest man in the world".</p> <p><em>Images: Getty / Instagram</em></p>

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Nelson Mandela's granddaughter dies at just 43

<p>Zoleka Mandela, the granddaughter of Nelson Mandela, has died of cancer at the age of 43. She passed away on the evening of Monday, September 25th, surrounded by friends and family.</p> <p>Mandela had been battling cancer for several years. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32, but went into remission. However, the cancer returned last year and had metastasised to her liver and lungs.</p> <p>Despite her illness, Mandela remained active in her community and continued to advocate for cancer prevention and awareness. She was also a vocal advocate for road safety after her 13-year-old daughter, Zenani, was killed in a car crash in 2010.</p> <p>In an interview with Kaya FM in April, Mandela said: "I'm learning to be okay with my eventuality."</p> <p>“The Nelson Mandela Foundation extends its heartfelt condolences to the Mandela family on the passing of Zoleka Mandela, tragically last night,” the Nelson Mandela Foundation said in a statement. “We mourn the loss of a beloved grandchild of Mum Winnie and Madiba and a friend of the Foundation.”</p> <p>Zoleka's frank disclosures about her illness and her strength in the face of adversity earned her a devoted following on social media.</p> <p>"Utterly tragic loss of a human being in her grandfather's footsteps. A decent, honest human being in a dishonest, hypocritical world," one person on X, formerly Twitter, said.</p> <p>"You were one of the bravest people I know and you inspired many people on your life's journey of hope," another person wrote on Instagram below the Mandela family's announcement.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/Cxo-ZxXNgXL/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/Cxo-ZxXNgXL/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Zoleka Zobuhle Mandela (@zolekamandela)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Mandela was only 10 years old when her grandfather was released from prison in 1990 after 27 years in detention. She had only ever known him as an incarcerated man, so when he was released she was just excited he was coming home.</p> <p>Mr Mandela died in 2013 at the age of 95.</p> <p>Zoleka Mandela will be remembered as a courageous advocate for cancer prevention and awareness, as well as a loving mother and grandmother. She is survived by her husband, Thierry Murekatete, and their two children.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

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Major Cruise line scraps entire season

<p>Virgin Voyages has cancelled all of its sailings in Australia and New Zealand for the next year after they were left with "no choice" in the wake of escalating tensions in the Red Sea.</p> <p>The Resilient Lady ship will not return Down Under for its promised second sailing season next summer due to safety concerns following a series of strikes on container ships in the Red Sea. </p> <p>The cruise line revealed on Tuesday that a lengthier alternative return route around Africa was not viable for the company. </p> <p>"On the heels of these recent changes and based on the regional and government advice we have received, we remain very concerned about potential escalations in the Red Sea over the next 12 months," <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">a spokesperson from Virgin Voyages said. </span></p> <p>“This significant and ongoing conflict puts unacceptable risks for safe passage through the region for our Sailors, crew and vessel."</p> <p>“To say that we are disappointed to have come to this tough conclusion is an understatement.</p> <p>“These adjustments are happening now to minimise potential future disruption to our passengers’ holiday plans, knowing there is a high likelihood that changes would need to happen in the future.”</p> <p>The cancellations will impact customers with trips planned in late 2024 and early 2025 on repositioning voyages between Europe and Australia. </p> <p>Virgin Voyages have indicated that a return to Australian waters will remain a possibility, as they continue to look for available options.</p> <p>They also said that if the 2024/25 can go ahead, customers who had previously booked their holiday will be prioritised if they would like to re-book. </p> <p>Currently, impacted customers have the option to re-book a different trip or request a full refund. </p> <p>A few other cruise companies who operate seasonal sailings or world cruises through the Red Sea and Suez Canal have also had to cancel, reposition, or re-route their sailings. </p> <p>MSC have cancelled three repositioning sailings in April, while Cunard, Princess and Seabourn have re-routed their world cruises to avoid the Suez Canal.</p> <p><em>Image: Virgin Voyages</em></p> <p> </p>

Cruising

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The US just returned to the Moon after more than 50 years. How big a deal is it, really?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-flannery-3906">David Flannery</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>In the few short years since the COVID pandemic changed our world, China, Japan and India have all successfully landed on the Moon.</p> <p>Many more robotic missions have flown past the Moon, entered lunar orbit, or crashed into it in the past five years. This includes <a href="https://www.planetary.org/space-missions/kplo">spacecraft developed by South Korea</a>, <a href="https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2023/04/27/Dubai-s-ruler-announces-new-moon-mission-after-UAE-s-Rashid-Rover-lunar-crash-">the United Arab Emirates</a>, and an <a href="https://www.spaceil.com/">Israeli not-for-profit organisation</a>.</p> <p>Late last week, the American company <a href="https://www.intuitivemachines.com/">Intuitive Machines</a>, in collaboration with NASA, celebrated “America’s return to the Moon” with a successful landing of its Odysseus spacecraft.</p> <p>Recent <a href="https://theconversation.com/change-5-china-launches-sample-return-mission-to-the-moon-is-it-winning-the-new-space-race-150665">Chinese-built sample return missions</a> are far more complex than this project. And didn’t NASA ferry a dozen humans to the Moon back when microwaves were cutting-edge technology? So what is different about this mission developed by a US company?</p> <h2>Back to the Moon</h2> <p>The recent Odysseus landing stands out for two reasons. For starters, this is the first time a US-built spacecraft has landed – not crashed – on the Moon for over 50 years.</p> <p>Secondly, and far more significantly, this is the first time a private company has pulled off a successful delivery of cargo to the Moon’s surface.</p> <p>NASA has lately focused on destinations beyond the Earth–Moon system, including Mars. But with its <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/commercial-lunar-payload-services/">Commercial Lunar Payload Services</a> (CLPS) program, it has also funded US private industry to develop Moon landing concepts, hoping to reduce the delivery costs of lunar payloads and allow NASA engineers to focus on other challenges.</p> <p>Working with NASA, Intuitive Machines selected a <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malapert_(crater)">landing site</a> about 300 kilometres from the lunar south pole. Among other challenges, landing here requires entering a polar orbit around the Moon, which consumes additional fuel.</p> <p>At this latitude, the land is heavily cratered and dotted with long shadows. This makes it challenging for autonomous landing systems to find a safe spot for a touchdown.</p> <p>NASA spent about US$118 million (A$180 million) to land six scientific <a href="https://www.esa.int/Enabling_Support/Space_Engineering_Technology/About_Payload_Systems">payloads</a> on Odysseus. This is relatively cheap. Using low-cost lunar landers, NASA will have an efficient way to test new space hardware that may then be flown on other Moon missions or farther afield.</p> <h2>Ten minutes of silence</h2> <p>One of the technology tests on the Odysseus lander, NASA’s <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/stmd/impact-story-navigation-doppler-lidar/">Navigation Doppler Lidar experiment</a> or NDL, appears to have proved crucial to the lander’s success.</p> <p>As the lander neared the surface, the company realised its navigation systems had a problem. NASA’s NDL experiment is serendipitously designed to test precision landing techniques for future missions. It seems that at the last second, engineers bodged together a solution that involved feeding necessary data from NDL to the lander.</p> <p>Ten minutes of silence followed before a <a href="https://twitter.com/Int_Machines/status/1760838333851148442">weak signal was detected</a> from Odysseus. Applause thundered through the mission control room. NASA’s administrator released a video congratulating everyone for returning America to the Moon.</p> <p>It has since become clear the lander is not oriented perfectly upright. The solar panels are generating sufficient power and the team is slowly receiving the first images from the surface.</p> <p>However, it’s likely Odysseus <a href="https://www.universetoday.com/165864/odysseus-moon-lander-is-tipped-over-but-still-sending-data/">partially toppled over</a> upon landing. Fortunately, at the time of writing, it seems most of the science payload may yet be deployed as it’s on the side of the lander facing upwards. The unlucky payload element facing downwards <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2024/02/23/world/odysseus-lunar-landing-sideways-scn/index.html">is a privately contributed artwork</a> connected <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2024/02/22/style/jeff-koons-moon-phases-odysseus-landing/index.html">to NFTs</a>.</p> <p>The lander is now likely to survive for at least a week before the Sun sets on the landing site and a dark, frigid lunar night turns it into another museum piece of human technology frozen in the lunar <a href="https://www.britannica.com/science/regolith">regolith</a>.</p> <h2>Win some, lose some</h2> <p>NASA’s commercial approach to stimulating low-cost payload services all but guarantees some failures. But eventually NASA hopes that several commercial launch and landing providers will emerge from the program, along with a few learning experiences.</p> <p>The know-how accumulated at organisations operating hardware in space is at least as important as the development of the hardware itself.</p> <p>The market for commercial lunar payloads remains unclear. Possibly, once the novelty wears off and brands are no longer able to generate buzz by, for example, <a href="https://www.columbia.com/omni-heat-infinity/moon-mission/">sending a piece of outdoor clothing to the Moon</a>, this source of funding may dwindle.</p> <p>However, just as today, civil space agencies and taxpayers will continue to fund space exploration to address shared science goals.</p> <p> </p> <p>Ideally, commercial providers will offer NASA an efficient method for testing key technologies needed for its schedule of upcoming scientific robotic missions, as well as <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/specials/artemis/">human spaceflight in the Artemis program</a>. Australia would also have the opportunity to test hardware at a reduced price.</p> <p>It’s worth noting that US budgetary issues, <a href="https://spacenews.com/nasa-warns-of-very-problematic-space-technology-budget-cuts/">funding cuts</a> and <a href="https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/jpl-workforce-update">subsequent lay-offs</a> do threaten these ambitions.</p> <p>Meanwhile, in Australia, we may have nothing to launch anyway. We continue to spend less <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_departments/Parliamentary_Library/Budget/reviews/2023-24/ScienceResearch">than the OECD average on scientific research</a>, and only a few Australian universities – who traditionally lead such efforts – <a href="https://business.gov.au/grants-and-programs/moon-to-mars-initiative-demonstrator-mission-grants/grant-recipients">have received funding</a> provided by the Australian Space Agency.</p> <p>If we do support planetary science and space exploration in the future, Australians will need to decide if we want to allocate our limited resources, competing with NASA and US private industry, to supply launch, landing and robotic services to the global space industry.</p> <p>Alternatively, we could leverage these lower-cost payload providers to develop our own scientific space program, and locally developed space technologies associated with benefits to the knowledge economy, education and national security.<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/224276/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-flannery-3906"><em>David Flannery</em></a><em>, Planetary Scientist, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Intuitive Machines</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-us-just-returned-to-the-moon-after-more-than-50-years-how-big-a-deal-is-it-really-224276">original article</a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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Dive below the surface with the Underwater Photographer of the Year awards

<p>There's a world beneath us that we don't know much about, and photographers around the world have all tried to capture its beauty. </p> <p>With over 6,500 photos submitted for this year's Underwater Photographer of the Year contest, one photo captured the panel of judges' heart - Alex Dawson's 'Whale Bones'. </p> <p>The image shows a diver swimming among the enormous skeletons of slaughtered whales off the coast of Greenland. </p> <p>"Whale Bones was photographed in the toughest conditions, as a breath-hold diver descends below the Greenland ice sheet to bear witness to the carcasses," Alex Mustard, Chair of the UPY Jury said. </p> <p>"The masterful composition invites me to consider our impact on the great creatures of this planet," he added. </p> <p>"Since the rise of humans, wild animals have declined by 85%. Today, just 4% of mammals are wildlife, the remaining 96% are humans and our livestock.</p> <p>"Our way needs to change to find a balance with nature." </p> <p>Lisa Stengel from the US won the title of Up &amp; Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024, for her shot titled 'Window of Opportunity'. </p> <p>The photo captured the beauty of nature as a mahi attacks a swarm of fish, an action shot that captured "high speed hunting at the decisive moment."</p> <p>Nuno Sá from Portugal won the award for 'Save Our Seas Foundation' Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year 2024 for his work titled Saving Goliath. </p> <p>The photo showed dozens of sun seekers working together to try and save a stranded sperm whale off the beaches of Costa da Caparica. </p> <p>UK residents Jenny Stock won the title of British Underwater Photographer of the Year for her work  'Star Attraction' and Sandra Stalker won the title of Most Promising British Underwater Photographer 2024 for 'Midnight raver'. </p> <p><em>Images: UPY </em></p> <p> </p>

International Travel

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The art of ‘getting lost’: how re-discovering your city can be an antidote to capitalism

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/stephen-dobson-1093706">Stephen Dobson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p>Do you remember what it was like to discover the magic of a city for the first time? Do you remember the noises, smells, flashing lights and pulsating crowds? Or do you mostly remember cities through the screen of your phone?</p> <p>In 1967, French philosopher and filmmaker Guy Debord <a href="https://files.libcom.org/files/The%20Society%20of%20the%20Spectacle%20Annotated%20Edition.pdf">publicised the need</a> to move away from living our lives as bystanders continually tempted by the power of images. Today, we might see this in a young person flicking from one TikTok to the next – echoing the hold images have on us. But adults aren’t adverse to this window-shopping experience, either.</p> <p>Debord notes we have a tendency to observe rather than engage. And this is to our detriment. Continually topping-up our image consumption leaves no space for the unplanned – the reveries to break the pattern of an ordered life.</p> <p>Debord was a member of a group called the <a href="https://www.britannica.com/topic/Situationist-International">Situationist International</a>, dedicated to new ways we could reflect upon and experience our cities. Active for about 15 years, they believed we should experience our cities as an act of resistance, in direct opposition to the (profit-motivated) capitalistic structures that demand our attention and productivity every waking hour.</p> <p>More than 50 years since the group dissolved, the Situationists’ philosophy points us to a continued need to attune ourselves – through our thoughts and senses – to the world we live in. We might consider them as early eco-warriors. And through better understanding their philosophy, we can develop a new relationship with our cities today.</p> <h2>Understanding the ‘situation’</h2> <p>The Situationist International movement was <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt183p61x">formed</a> in 1957 in Cosio di Arroscia, Italy, and became active in several European countries. It brought together radical artists inspired by spontaneity, experimentalism, intellectualism, protest and hedonism. Central figures included Danish artist <a href="https://museumjorn.dk/en/">Asger Jorn</a>, French novelist <a href="https://mitpress.mit.edu/author/michele-bernstein-10219/">Michèle Bernstein</a> and Italian musician and composer <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Olmo">Walter Olmo</a>.</p> <p>The Situationists were driven by a <a href="https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/34141">libertarian form of Marxism</a> that resisted mass consumerism. One of the group’s early terms was “unitary urbanism”, which sought to join avant-garde art with the critique of mass production and technology. They rejected “urbanism’s” conventional emphasis on function, and instead thought about art and the environment as inexorably interrelated.</p> <p>By rebelling against the invasiveness of consumption, the Situationists proposed a turn towards artistically-inspired individuality and creativity.</p> <h2>Think on your own two feet</h2> <p>According to the 1960 <a href="https://hts3.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/situationist-international-manifesto.pdf">Situationist Manifesto</a> we are all to be artists of our own “situations”, crafting independent identities as we stand on our own two feet. They believed this could be achieved, in part, through “<a href="https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/p/psychogeography#:%7E:text=Psychogeography%20describes%20the%20effect%20of,emotions%20and%20behaviour%20of%20individuals">psychogeography</a>”: the idea that geographical locations exert a unique psychological effect on us.</p> <p>For instance, when you walk down a street, the architecture around you may be deliberately designed to encourage a certain kind of experience. Crossing a vibrant city square on a sunny morning evokes joy and a feeling of connection with others. There’s also usually a public event taking place.</p> <p>The Situationists valued drift, or <em>dérive</em> in French. This alludes to unplanned movement through a landscape during journeys on foot. By drifting aimlessly, we unintentionally redefine the traditional rules imposed by private or public land owners and property developers. We make ourselves open to the new unexpected and, in doing so, are liberated from the shackles of everyday routine.</p> <p>In <a href="https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-981-10-8100-2">our research</a>, my colleagues and I consider cities as places in which “getting lost” means exposing yourself to discovering the new and taken-for-granted.</p> <h2>Forge your own path</h2> <p>By understanding the Situationists – by looking away from our phones and allowing ourselves to get lost – we can rediscover our cities. We can see them for what they are beneath the blankets of posters, billboards and advertisements. How might we take back the image and make it work for us?</p> <p>The practise of geo-tagging images on social media, and sharing our location with others, could be considered close to the spirit of the Situationists. Although it’s often met with claims of <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/when-why-not-to-use-geotagging-overtourism-security">over-fuelling tourism</a> (especially regarding idyllic or otherwise protected sites), geo-tagging could <a href="https://www.melaninbasecamp.com/trip-reports/2019/5/1/five-reasons-why-you-should-keep-geotagging">inspire us</a> to actively seek out new places through visiting the source of an image.</p> <p>This could lead to culturally respectful engagement, and new-found respect for the rights of traditional custodians as we experience their lands in real life, rather than just through images on our phones.</p> <p>Then there are uniquely personal and anarchistic forms of resistance, wherein we can learn about the world around us by interweaving ourselves with our histories. In doing so we offer a new meaning to a historical message, and a new purpose. The Situationists called this process <em><a href="https://www.theartstory.org/movement/situationist-international/">détournement</a></em>, or hijacking.</p> <p>For instance, from my grandfather I inherited a biscuit tin of black and white photographs I believe were taken in the 1960s. They showed images of parks and wildlife, perhaps even of the same park, and cityscapes of London with people, streets and buildings.</p> <p>I have spent many hours wandering the London streets tracking down the exact places these images were snapped. I was juxtaposing past with present, and experiencing both continuity and change in the dialogues I had with my grandfather. In this way, I used images to augment (rather than replace) my lived experience of the material world.</p> <p>Urban art installations can also be examples of detournment as they make us re-think everyday conceptions. <a href="https://www.cityartsydney.com.au/artwork/forgotten-songs/">Forgotten Songs</a> by Michael Hill is one such example. A canopy of empty birdcages commemorates the songs of 50 different birds once heard in central Sydney, but which are now lost due to habitat removal as a result of urban development.</p> <p>There are also a number of groups, often with a strong environmental or civic rights focus, that partake in detournment. <a href="https://popularresistance.org/dancing-revolution-how-90s-protests-used-rave-culture-to-reclaim-the-streets/">Reclaim the Streets</a> is a movement with a long history in Australia. The group advocates for communities having ownership of and agency within public spaces. They may, for instance, “invade” a highway to throw a “<a href="https://pasttenseblog.files.wordpress.com/2022/02/road-rave.pdf">road rave</a>” as an act of reclamation.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bUL0C_T-Sqk?wmode=transparent&amp;start=999" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>As French avant-garde philosopher <a href="https://www.themarginalian.org/2014/07/24/the-poetics-of-reverie-gaston-bachelard/">Gaston Bachelard</a> might have put it, when we’re bombarded by images there is no space left to daydream. We lose the opportunity to explore and question the world capitalism serves us through images.</p> <p>Perhaps now is a good time to set down the phone and follow in the Situationists’ footsteps. <!-- 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/221606/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/stephen-dobson-1093706"><em>Stephen Dobson</em></a><em>, Professor and Dean of Education and the Arts, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</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/the-art-of-getting-lost-how-re-discovering-your-city-can-be-an-antidote-to-capitalism-221606">original article</a>.</em></p>

Travel Tips

Health

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Kate Middleton's "disappearance" sparks bizarre conspiracy theories

<p dir="ltr">Social media is alight with wild conspiracy theories about Kate Middleton's whereabouts, after many royal fans noticed it has been several weeks since she has been seen. </p> <p dir="ltr">The last time the Princess of Wales was photographed was on Christmas Day as she attended a morning church service with her family in tow. </p> <p dir="ltr">Now, six weeks after Kate was <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/health/caring/two-senior-royals-undergo-surgery" target="_blank" rel="noopener">admitted to hospital</a> for a “planned abdominal surgery”, concerned royal fans have speculated about the state of her health, despite Kensington Palace saying they would only be providing updates when there is "significant new information to share." </p> <p dir="ltr">After the Princess was released from hospital, the Palace went on to say that she would be recovering at home and would not be returning to official royal duties until “after Easter”. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, when Prince William cancelled a royal engagement earlier this week due to a “personal matter”, many were quick to assume he was tending to his wife and her poor health. </p> <p dir="ltr">Social media users were quick to jump on this theory, only fuelling the fire of the “Where’s Kate?” question by adding in their own unhinged theories about why she has gone unseen for all of 2024 so far.</p> <p dir="ltr">Speculation on X, formerly Twitter, ranged from serious concern for Kate's wellbeing to hilarious theories, with one user writing, "I have fallen down the ‘Where is Kate Middleton’ rabbit hole and I need someone to come take me out immediately. It’s wild down here."</p> <p dir="ltr">Most were lighthearted in their claims, with one popular conspiracy being that Kate was in hiding to grow out a bad haircut, while others shared that she is simply seeking solace in a hidden corner of the Palace away from her three kids. </p> <p dir="ltr">With “Where is Kate Middleton” in the number one trending spot on X, others adding their own equally hilarious and insane theories.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">My favorite Kate Middleton theory so far is that she got bangs and is waiting for them to grow out 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭</p> <p>— Taylor 🌻 (@itsmet_19) <a href="https://twitter.com/itsmet_19/status/1762651824840958230?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 28, 2024</a></p></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The Kate Middleton reveal on Masked Singer is going to make all of us look silly.</p> <p>— Catherine Tinker (@catherinetinker) <a href="https://twitter.com/catherinetinker/status/1762639775406731413?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 28, 2024</a></p></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Of all the "Where is Kate Middleton?" conspiracy theories, "she's Banksy" is my favorite</p> <p>— Cooper Lawrence (@CooperLawrence) <a href="https://twitter.com/CooperLawrence/status/1762674163309748417?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 28, 2024</a></p></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">My three kids are roughly the same age as Kate Middleton’s so I can say pretty confidently that she is hiding in the bathroom pretending to pee for a really long time.</p> <p>— Kristen Mulrooney (@missmulrooney) <a href="https://twitter.com/missmulrooney/status/1762840727069831673?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 28, 2024</a></p></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Kate Middleton’s disappearance can only mean one thing.. she’s gonna show up on Celebrity Big Brother in a few days and gag us all</p> <p>— Mustafa Farooq (@MustafaFar67649) <a href="https://twitter.com/MustafaFar67649/status/1762647448194052498?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 28, 2024</a></p></blockquote> <p dir="ltr">Some believe that Kate’s operation was actually plastic surgery that has been “botched” and explains her hiding away, while others claimed she is actually elusive street artist Banksy, and is away working on a new piece, or is hauled up in a studio somewhere recording her debut album.</p> <p dir="ltr">Others shared their thoughts on who could find the Princess, with social media users nominating fictional <em>Law &amp; Order: SVU</em> detective Olivia Benson for the job, while others put forward Jo Frost, also known as Super Nanny, and others believe Detectives Mulder and Scully from<em> The X Files</em> could crack the conspiracy. </p> <p dir="ltr">Despite all the theories, one X user summed up the conspiracy perfectly, writing,”The Kate Middleton drama is hard because I don't care about the royal family or conspiracy theories, however, I do care about being in everyone's business.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Caring

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Comedian and sitcom star dies at age 76

<p>Legendary comedian and sitcom star Richard Lewis has passed away at the age of 76. </p> <p>The <em>Curb Your Enthusiasm</em> actor, who has been candid in recent years about his struggle with Parkinson's, died of a heart attack, according to his publicist. </p> <p><em>Curb Your Enthusiasm</em> creator Larry David shared an emotional tribute to his friend and co-star, sharing how the men had been friends their whole lives. </p> <p>“Richard and I were born three days apart in the same hospital and for most of my life he’s been like a brother to me,” David wrote in a statement Wednesday, shared by HBO.</p> <p>“He had that rare combination of being the funniest person and also the sweetest. But today he made me sob and for that I’ll never forgive him.”</p> <p>In April 2023, Lewis took to X, formerly Twitter, to explain his ongoing health issues, sharing how he had undergone a series of surgeries.</p> <p>“Three and a half years ago, I was in the middle of a tour and then I finally ended it with a show I said ‘You know, I’m at the top of my game, after 50 years almost I’m just gonna call it quits.’”</p> <p>“Then, out of the blue, the s**t hit the fan. I had four surgeries back to back to back to back. It was incredible, I couldn’t believe it. It was bad luck but it’s life, you know?”</p> <p>“I had back surgery, then I had a shoulder surgery, then I had a shoulder replacement surgery, and a hip replacement. So, you know, there was much where I was just focusing on [physical therapy].”</p> <p>He added that amidst his physical health battle, he had received a devastating neurological diagnosis. </p> <p>“On top of all that, two years ago, I started walking a little stiffly, I was shuffling my feet and I went to a neurologist and they gave me a brain scan and I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.”</p> <p>While being candid about his health problems, Lewis also became known for his dark jokes about his battles with addiction and neurosis. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Caring

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12 signs that you’re borderline diabetic

<p><strong>Do you have diabetes?</strong></p> <p>If you are a borderline diabetic, it means you have prediabetes. Your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not enough to be diagnosed with full-blown type 2 diabetes. Maybe you’ve noticed that you’re losing weight or more tired than normal. Or perhaps you’re thirsty or have vision issues. Here’s a look at some of the more common signs that you could be a borderline diabetic.</p> <p><strong>You’re really thirsty and are peeing a lot</strong></p> <p>“Prediabetes is caused when the body is unable to efficiently process blood sugars,” says endocrinologist Dr Jason Ng. “This happens over time as the body builds up resistance to insulin, the hormone that helps the body control blood sugars.” As you become insulin resistant, the body has to produce more insulin to keep blood sugars at a good level.</p> <p>Eventually it can’t keep up, so blood sugars rise. Prediabetes may take you by surprise, as there often aren’t symptoms – though there are a few subtle cues you can look out for. “A patient may feel slightly more thirsty and have to urinate more over time as well as the sugars increase in their body,” Dr Ng says.</p> <p><strong>You're exhausted </strong></p> <p>Borderline diabetes could be one of the medical reasons you’re tired all the time. If you’re one of the 2 million Australians who have prediabetes, according to Diabetes Australia you may notice you’re not feeling up to your normal activity level. “Patients may feel more tired or sluggish,” Dr Ng says. Blood sugar fluctuations can cause fatigue; plus, other factors that often appear with blood sugar problems could be the culprit, such as depression or obesity, according to a study published in 2012 in Diabetes Educator.</p> <p>Physical activity is recommended by the American Diabetes Association to help with prediabetes symptoms, but ironically people with the condition may be too tired to exercise. If that’s the case, see your doctor. “Most of prediabetes is diagnosed by lab work at a doctor’s office,” Dr Ng says. With prediabetes, “fasting sugar is between 100 to 125 mg/dl or a random blood sugar between 140 to 200 mg/dl.”</p> <p><strong>You’re losing weight</strong></p> <p>Among the silent diabetes signs you might be missing is weight loss. Although we associate blood sugar problems with being overweight, once you start becoming borderline diabetic you may actually drop kilos. If you’re going to the bathroom more frequently, you’re excreting extra sugar and losing more kilojoules. Diabetes may also keep sugar in your food from reaching your cells.</p> <p>This might leave you “feeling hungry all the time,” says Dr Deena Adimoolam, assistant professor of medicine, endocrinology, diabetes and bone disease. So if you’re eating more than usual and still losing weight, talk to your doctor.</p> <p><strong>You have blurred vision </strong></p> <p>One of the clear signs you have high blood sugar is actually not seeing clearly. Dr Adimoolam says that blurred vision is a sign that you’re borderline prediabetic. Why? Diabetic eye disease occurs when high blood sugar causes damage to the blood vessels in the eye, which can leak and swell, leading to vision changes. According to the National Eye Institute, one type of eye damage, diabetic retinopathy, is the leading cause of vision loss among people with diabetes and the leading cause of blindness among adults.</p> <p>A study by The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) found that 8 per cent of prediabetic participants had diabetic retinopathy. It can be addressed if caught early, so bring up blurry vision to your doctor as soon as you notice it.</p> <p><strong>You have dark areas on your skin</strong></p> <p>One body changes that could signal a bigger problem that you are borderline prediabetic are dark patches on your skin called acanthosis nigricans (AN). The condition usually appears in elbows, armpits, knees, or on the neck, has a velvety texture, and likely occurs because excess insulin causes a rapid growth of cells. It’s also more common in people with obesity – another risk factor for prediabetes.</p> <p>But a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine showed that although patients with AN tend to have multiple risk factors for diabetes, AN itself may also be an independent risk factor for the disease. Because of this, AN’s presence may help doctors detect prediabetes sooner.</p> <p><strong>You have PCOS</strong></p> <p>Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a disorder where a woman’s hormones are unbalanced. Studies like one published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2017, have shown that PCOS is a risk factor for diabetes.</p> <p>It’s not known exactly how they are linked, but researchers are looking into the connection between PCOS and insulin. High levels of insulin may contribute to increased production of male hormones called androgens, which is a symptom of PCOS. PCOS is also associated with being overweight, as is prediabetes – but studies have shown that even average-weight women with PCOS are at increased risk of high blood sugar.</p> <p>Also, women with PCOS may be more likely to have gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant; more on that later), which also can lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. If you are diagnosed with PCOS, your reproductive endocrinologist may test your glucose level to make sure you’re not borderline prediabetic.</p> <p><strong>You don't get good sleep </strong></p> <p>“When you don’t get enough sleep, less insulin is released in the body,” says Dr Richard Shane, behavioural sleep therapist. “Sleep deprivation can cause insulin-producing cells to fail to use the insulin efficiently or to stop functioning. Your body also secretes more stress hormones, which interfere with insulin’s ability to be effective.”</p> <p>In one study, duration and quality of sleep was shown to be associated with prediabetes. Another factor could be that we tend to crave kilojoules and junk food for energy when we’re tired – plus, we don’t feel like exercising. This can lead to inactivity and weight gain, other risk factors for prediabetes.</p> <p><strong>You have a family history of diabetes</strong></p> <p>Among the medical facts you should know is your family’s health history. “There can be a genetic cause for the development of type 2 diabetes due to certain gene mutations,” Dr Adimoolam says. “Some people may have a genetic predisposition to developing type 2 diabetes due to presence of certain genes than have been passed down from one generation to the next.” One study in Diabetologia found that a family history of diabetes increased the risk for prediabetes by 26 per cent.</p> <p>The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) says that you’re more likely to develop diabetes if you have a family history of the disease. In addition, “Some data suggests that the risk of type 2 diabetes is five times higher in those with diabetes on both the maternal and paternal sides of the family,” Dr Adimoolam says.</p> <p><strong>You're of a certain age </strong></p> <p>There are many reasons why you’ll age better than your parents, including that you know age itself is a risk factor for certain conditions – so you’ll take measures to prevent them. Unfortunately, prediabetes is more likely in older people. “The higher your age, the greater risk for development of diabetes,” Dr Adimoolam says. “This might be related to increased body fat with age, which increases one’s risk for type 2 diabetes.”</p> <p>In addition, Dr Ng says that high blood pressure and high cholesterol are also risk factors for prediabetes. These are all common conditions as we age, and are also associated with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of disorders that can lead to heart disease and stroke.</p> <p><strong>You had gestational diabetes</strong></p> <p>Having had gestational diabetes in the past also puts you at risk for prediabetes now, according to research, including a study in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. “Once you have been diagnosed with any form of diabetes, like gestational diabetes, you are at an increased risk for developing this again over time, especially with weight gain,” Dr Adimoolam says.</p> <p>According to the American Diabetes Association, doctors don’t know exactly why gestational diabetes develops, but it could be that pregnancy hormones affect how the body uses insulin. The NIDDK suggests women who’ve had gestational diabetes have their blood glucose tested every three years.</p> <p><strong>You're overweight </strong></p> <p>You can potentially reverse type 2 diabetes if you lose weight – and the same goes for if you are borderline diabetic. “By and large, obesity is the main cause of insulin resistance, as certain fat cells are known to cause and intensify insulin resistance over time,” Dr Ng says. And it’s not just how much you weigh, but where your weight is located on your body. “Waist size is typically proportional to centralised, or abdominal, obesity,” Dr Adimoolam says.</p> <p>“The more centralised abdominal fat, the higher one’s insulin resistance, and the greater the increased risk for the development of type 2 diabetes.” Genetics may also play a role here, as certain body types with more abdominal fat (“apple-shaped”) can run in families and certain ethnic groups, she says.</p> <p><strong>You have an unhealthy lifestyle </strong></p> <p>Whether you are borderline prediabetic or not, there are many science-based reasons to start working out. “Lack of exercise may promote weight gain, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes,” Dr Adimoolam says. A study from Johns Hopkins published in the Journal of General Internal Medicineshowed that people with prediabetes who dropped 10 per cent of their body weight dramatically reduced their risk of diabetes – but every little bit helps.</p> <p>Dr Ng suggests losing even 5 to 7 per cent of your body weight, quitting smoking, and adopting a borderline diabetic diet. “Interventions that typically reduce weight include increased exercise, especially aerobic exercise, 150 minutes or more per week, and eating a balanced, low-fat diet that is not heavy on carbs,” he says. “Prediabetes is often thought of as a ‘warning sign,’ which is why lifestyle intervention is so important.”</p> <p>Ultimately, the message is that prediabetes is not irreversible. “Prediabetes is the stage before one develops type 2 diabetes, and in most cases is preventable,” Dr Adimoolam says. “You may not need medications to treat prediabetes if you are able to change your lifestyle, with the goal for treatment focusing on diet changes and exercise.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/healthsmart/diabetes/12-signs-that-youre-borderline-diabetic?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Body

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Royal family confirms heartbreaking death

<p>Buckingham Palace have confirmed the heartbreaking sudden death of Lady Gabriella's husband Thomas Kingston, who has died at the age of 45. </p> <p>The 45-year-old British businessman, who also previously dated Pippa Middleton, has been married to Lady Gabriella, the daughter of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, since 2019.</p> <p>Buckingham Palace confirmed the news of his passing in a statement released on Wednesday morning. </p> <p>“It is with the deepest sorrow that we announce the death of Thomas Kingston, our beloved husband, son and brother,” a statement issued on behalf of Lady Gabriella and his family said. </p> <p>“Tom was an exceptional man who lit up the lives of all who knew him. His death has come as a great shock to the whole family and we ask you to respect our privacy as we mourn his passing.”</p> <p>Thomas was reportedly found dead at a property in Gloucestershire on Sunday evening, with his cause of death still not known. </p> <p>Lady Gabriella, 42, is the only daughter of Prince Michael of Kent, who is first cousins with Queen Elizabeth. Her mother, Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz, is known as Princess Michael. </p> <p>King Charles and Camilla have paid tribute to Thomas after being informed of his death.</p> <p>“The King and The Queen have been informed of Thomas’s death and join Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and all those who knew him in grieving a much-loved member of the family,” the statement said. </p> <p>“In particular, Their Majesties send their most heartfelt thoughts and prayers to Gabriella and to all the Kingston family.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Caring

Lifestyle

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A-list Hollywood star’s son dies at just 33

<p>Gary Sinise, known for his A-list Hollywood movie roles, has shared that his son has passed away at the age of 33. </p> <p>The 68-year-old announced that McCanna “Mac” Sinise passed away on January 5th after a five-and-a-half year battle with chordoma, a rare form of cancer. </p> <p>The Gary Sinise Foundation took to Instagram to share a picture of Mac with the caption, “In Honour &amp; Memory of McCanna ‘Mac’ Sinise 1990-2024.”</p> <p>In a message shared on the <a href="https://www.garysinisefoundation.org/mac-tribute" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Gary Sinise Foundation website</a>, Sinise opened up about the devastating loss of his son. </p> <p>“Like any family experiencing such a loss, we are heartbroken and have been managing as best we can,” he wrote.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/C33KTEfN06g/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C33KTEfN06g/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Gary Sinise Foundation (@garysinisefoundation)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“As parents, it is so difficult losing a child. My heart goes out to all who have suffered a similar loss, and to anyone who has lost a loved one. We’ve all experienced it in some way. Over the years I have met so many families of our fallen heroes. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s just damn hard." </p> <p>“Our family’s cancer fight lasted for 5 ½ years, and it became more and more challenging as time went on. While our hearts ache at missing him, we are comforted in knowing that Mac is no longer struggling, and inspired and moved by how he managed it.”</p> <p>“He fought an uphill battle against a cancer that has no cure, but he never quit trying,” Sinise went on."</p> <p>Sinise shared his story because he and his family “hope to shine a little bit of light on what has been a difficult time.”</p> <p>“Mac was truly a light for all of us,” he added. "An incredible inspiration to those who knew and loved him, he faced his battle with grace, courage, and love. Even with one setback after another, he never stopped living and learning, creating, and giving, and loving."</p> <p>He continued, “Thank you, Mac. You will live in our hearts forever. We were blessed to have you in our lives as son, brother, and friend … and we will miss you and love you for eternity.”</p> <p>Gary Sinise, who has won an Emmy, a Golden Globe and a Tony, is known for his role as Lieutenant Dan in <em>Forrest Gump</em>, as well as his roles in <em>Apollo 13</em> and <em>The Green Mile,</em> and TV shows such as <em>CSI: NY.</em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Family & Pets

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“Absolute monster”: Bridezilla slammed for unreasonable bridesmaid rules

<p dir="ltr">A woman has shared the reason she quit her best friend’s bridal party, after she was presented with a 14-page contract to be a bridesmaid. </p> <p dir="ltr">The woman was excited to celebrate her friend Laura’s wedding to the love of her life James, and shared how Laura was a very regimented bride. </p> <p dir="ltr">“We began planning everything, having multiple meetings to make sure we all are up to date on all plans,” the bridesmaid said in a Reddit thread.</p> <p dir="ltr">“She is a bit of a neat person and very organised. She made all five bridesmaids and her maid of honour a binder of our duties... We keep track of appointments, vendors — pretty standard stuff.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“But that’s not all that’s in there.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The bridesmaid then shared an extensive list of rules the bridal party had to follow for the big day in relation to their physical appearance. </p> <p dir="ltr">The list included 12 bizarre rules about how they were to look on the big day, saying everyone must wear size-eight dresses, tattoos must be covered or removed and brown eyes are banned.</p> <p dir="ltr">“No visible tattoos. Must be removed or covered with makeup. No jackets or long sleeves to cover them,” the bride began in the extensive list.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Full head of hair. No shaved sides or back. Must have a professional wig on if a haircut is not acceptable.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“Hair can not be too short. It must be able to be braided. Also if your hair is too long like to your waist, it will need to be cut. Hair must be blonde or black. I will tell you what colour is best for you.</p> <p dir="ltr">“You must fit into a size eight dress. I don’t want to see tents (too big) or rolls (too tight). Dresses have been ordered at size eight only.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“No brown eyes. That’s James’ and my eye colour so you will need to get contacts. Blue is required.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Other things banned in the bridal party are “harsh tans”, visible scars and eyeglasses.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Get contacts or go without for the day,” the bride added.</p> <p dir="ltr">The bridesmaid felt the rules were directed at her, as she was furious with her friend and decided to leave the bridal party. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Here is where I started to backpedal and want to walk away,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I have very thick but fine hair. I keep the sides shaved down and the top and back long like halfway down my back which helps my migraines.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“I also have an Eeyore tattoo and a bear paw print tattoo that shows. I also just had bariatric (gastric sleeve) surgery so I’m working on losing weight. I also have glasses.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Upon looking through the contract, she was mortified to see what the bride expected of her bridesmaids.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The final kick in the pants was the contract — 14 pages front and back of everything we are required to do. Like not getting pregnant, attend meetings and events, as well as constantly communicate,” the bridesmaid said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Along with the demands, the bridesmaids were each required to gift the bride and groom a minimum of $150 and “some type of expensive alcohol”, along with a $400 fee to be a bridesmaid.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I tried to explain I can’t afford this and she told me I had to figure it out. I figured she lost a bridesmaid, me.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In a follow-up post, the bridesmaid confirmed she was no longer in the bridal party after she quit.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I am not doing the wedding. The bride is mad but I don’t care,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Her post has been met with more than 640 comments, with many describing the bride as an “absolute monster”, “cruel” and a “bully” over her outrageous demands. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Reddit</em></p>

Relationships

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Miranda Kerr welcomes "little ray of sunshine"

<p>Miranda Kerr has welcomed her fourth child with Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel. </p> <p>The 40-year-old supermodel gave birth to a baby boy named Pierre Kerr Spiegel on Sunday, February 18, but announced the news of her new bub's arrival ten days later.</p> <p>"We are overjoyed by the arrival of our little ray of sunshine, Pierre Kerr Spiegel," she wrote in a statement posted on Snapchat. </p> <p>"We couldn’t be more excited to welcome our fourth son into our family. Feeling so very blessed."</p> <p>Kerr shared a picture of flowers, nestled next to a pair of yellow baby socks and a baby blue blanket that read "Pierre."</p> <p>The heartwarming announcement was made just six months after Kerr revealed that she was <a href="https://www.oversixty.co.nz/lifestyle/family-pets/so-excited-miranda-kerr-s-special-announcement" target="_blank" rel="noopener">expecting her fourth child</a> with a series of pictures showing off her baby bump. </p> <p>"So excited to announce baby 4," she captioned the photo at the time. </p> <p>Kerr and Spiegel, who tied the knot in 2017, have three sons together - baby Pierre, five-year-old Hart, and four-year-old Myles. </p> <p>The Aussie supermodel also shares a fourth son, Flynn, 13, with her former husband Orlando Bloom. </p> <p>Kerr first hinted at the possibility of having more children in a 2022 interview with <em>Vogue Australia</em>. </p> <p>"I just love being a mother and I always wanted three boys, so I feel really blessed that I have three healthy boys."</p> <p>"I feel like I'm open, so we'll see what God decides."</p> <p><em>Images: Miranda Kerr Snapchat</em></p>

Family & Pets

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"I almost cried": Mum shocked by stranger's random act of kindness

<p>A mother-of-two has almost been reduced to tears by a stranger's random act of kindness in a busy cafe. </p> <p>The mum, a woman named Tyne, was at a cafe in the Sunshine Coast suburb of Mooloolaba with her husband and two young sons, when she struck up a conversation with a woman reading a book nearby. </p> <p>She said she felt a wave of guilt that her rowdy children were disrupting the woman's peaceful morning, and leaned over to apologise. </p> <p>The woman assured the mother there was nothing to apologise for, with the woman's next act leaving the mum speechless. </p> <p>“A beautiful (and full on) weekend away with Mr 3.5y &amp; Mr 1.5y my husband and I sat with coffees at a beautiful cafe waiting for breakfast for us,” Tyne wrote in a Facebook group called The Kindness Pandemic, where people share stories of their heartwarming interactions with strangers. </p> <p>“I immediately apologised to the lovely lady sitting near us as she had a book and I was afraid the boys wouldn’t be too peaceful." </p> <p>“We were chatting for a little and then she left after her breakfast.”</p> <p>When the mum went to pay for her family’s bill, the cashier informed her that the stranger had “taken care of it” and handed her a heartwarming note.</p> <p>“It was such a pleasure sharing my brekkie space with you,” the note read.</p> <p>“Please keep doing what you’re doing. You’ve got a beautiful family.”</p> <p>Tyne said she “almost cried” when she realised that the stranger had paid for her family’s entire breakfast.</p> <p>The cafe was situated close to one of the Sunshine Coast’s most popular attractions, Sea Life Aquarium, where the family had planned to spend their day.</p> <p>“Hopefully you can splurge a little more at Sea Life today,” the stranger added in the note, before signing off, “Love Em.”</p> <p>The mum said she was overwhelmed by the stranger’s incredible act of kindness, saying she "almost cried".</p> <p>“She paid for us … And her kind words were what I needed to hear.”</p> <p>Tyne said the stranger was an “amazing soul” and vowed to pay it forward”.</p> <p>“If you are Em staying in Mooloolaba for work and went to a quirky local that’s your favourite … YOU ARE AN AMAZING SOUL!” she said.</p> <p>People in the comments also shared their reactions to the heartfelt gesture.</p> <p>“Lovely lady. Your children would be being just that, children. Don’t apologise about them,” one wrote.</p> <p>“What a beautiful person Em clearly is. This was so gorgeous to read.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook</em></p>

Family & Pets

Finance

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Papa Swift vs Paparazzi: Taylor Swift's dad accused of assault

<p>In the midst of celebrations marking the conclusion of Taylor Swift's Eras tour in Sydney, an unexpected and troubling incident has emerged involving her father – Scott Swift.</p> <p>The 71-year-old has been accused of assaulting an Australian photographer, Ben McDonald, in the early hours of Tuesday morning at a Sydney wharf in Neutral Bay.</p> <p>According to reports confirmed by NSW Police, the alleged altercation occurred around 2:30am, following Taylor Swift's final performance in the city.</p> <p>It's said that Taylor and her father had been enjoying post-show festivities when the incident took place, tarnishing what should have been a joyous occasion.</p> <p>McDonald, who serves as the chief executive of Matrix Media Group, recounted the events to <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-13128721/Taylor-Swift-father-Scott-assault-photographer-Sydney-wharf.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Daily Mail Australia</em></a>, shedding light on the confrontation. He stated that Taylor and Scott arrived at the wharf after travelling from Homebush on a luxury superyacht named <em>Quantum</em>.</p> <p>McDonald claims that after they disembarked, Scott allegedly 'charged' at him. McDonald originally thought that it was a security guard, and was surprised when he realised it was Taylor's dad.</p> <p>"In 23 years of taking pictures, I have never seen anything like it," he told the <em>Daily Mail</em>. "He probably decided he needed to defend his daughter, for some reason... She got off the boat, she walked towards security guards who were shoving umbrellas in our faces, and then he charged."</p> <p>Footage capturing the moments leading up to and following the alleged assault has surfaced, providing some insight into the incident. <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-13128721/Taylor-Swift-father-Scott-assault-photographer-Sydney-wharf.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The video</a> shows Taylor and her father walking up from the wharf, shielded by large umbrellas held by security guards. Amid the commotion, McDonald attempted to capture the scene, and was obstructed by the guards protecting Taylor and her companions, including Mr Swift.</p> <p>In the aftermath, McDonald reported the incident to authorities. He did not sustain serious injuries, though he described experiencing discomfort and soreness on the left side of his face.</p> <p><em>Images: YouTube</em></p>

Legal

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Woman allegedly murders great-aunt with spaghetti

<p>Italian police are investigating the bizarre alleged murder of Maria Basso, 80.</p> <p>Paola Pepe, her young great-niece, was arrested for the alleged murder after she was believed to have force-fed Basso with spaghetti, Italian newspaper <em>Corriere della Sera </em>reported. </p> <p>Basso was vulnerable to choking if she did not eat finely chopped or pureed food, despite this Pepe still took out her great-aunt for a meal in a Sicily restaurant in December 2022. </p> <p>She allegedly bought Basso spaghetti, and two days later her great-aunt was dead, after some of the pasta allegedly got lodged in her airways. </p> <p>Her death initially looked like an accident, until Italian police launched further investigations and found that Pepe had amended her great-aunt's will just two days before the meal.</p> <p>The<em> Corriere della Sera</em> reported Pepe had taken an unusual interest in her great-aunt's finances in the months leading up to her death after she had unexpectedly turned up during Basso's 80th birthday, and spent hours alone with her. </p> <p>Pepe eventually moved Basso to a care home 1300 kilometres away, without telling her close family members, and reportedly did not take any of Basso's medication or personal belongings to the new home. </p> <p>Police alleged that after isolating her great-aunt, she managed to convince Basso to change her will so that Pepe was named sole beneficiary of Basso's estate, which was worth $775,000. </p> <p>Basso initially intended to give her estate to a charity, as she had no children according to local media.</p> <p>Pepe has denied all accusations and was bailed, but is wearing a police ankle bracelet while waiting for her trial. </p> <p><em>Image: Strettoweb</em></p> <p> </p>

Legal

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The types of insurance that aren’t worth your while

<p>While it’s important to make sure you’ve been covered, some forms of insurance aren’t really worth your while in the long run. We’ve taken a look at several types of insurance you shouldn’t really bother with, why they’re not worth your money and how you can find an alternative. </p> <p>Yes, it’s essential to make sure you’re covered, but at the same time you don’t need to waste any money.</p> <p><strong>Extended warranties</strong></p> <p>Many a salesperson has made a customer fork out that little bit extra for an “extended warranty” to go with a major electronic purchase. The thing is though, in many cases the period of time covered by the warranty is actually exactly the level you’re automatically entitled to under consumer law.</p> <p><strong>Credit protection insurance</strong></p> <p>While this type of insurance can be useful and a way to insure yourself against the possibility of something happening to your income as the result of an injury or a condition, credit protection insurance has tendency to be pretty expensive. </p> <p>A more cost effective way to ensure your payments to your credit card, personal loans or mortgages are fulfilled would be to take out a life insurance or total and permanent disability insurance policy through your individual superannuation fund.</p> <p><strong>Funeral insurance</strong></p> <p>Many people see this as a good way to ease the financial burden on their family that comes with their passing, but in reality funeral insurance is quite expensive and the premiums add up every year. </p> <p>A far better option is a prepaid funeral, funeral bonds life insurance or even a special savings account with money set aside. Just make sure you let your family know!</p> <p><strong>ID theft insurance</strong></p> <p>This is one of those types of insurance that isn’t really protecting your from becoming a victim, rather helping you deal with the costs once it’s already happened. And what’s more, you bank is usually willing to cover the costs of credit card fraud, which is one of the major problems to be associated with ID theft. </p> <p>Instead of spending money on a policy you can protect yourself from ID theft by simply keeping your personal documents safe, shredding documents such as bank account statements before throwing them away, and using antivirus software that is up to date. You can also check your credit file each year to make sure nobody’s using your identity for fake accounts.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Money & Banking

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12 super simple ways to save some cash

<p>Saving money is a lot easier said than done. Whether you’ve got a holiday you’re thinking about taking, or you just want to make day to day life a little less stressful, there is a range of strategies you can employ to put a couple of dimes together. Here are 12 tips to cut costs:</p> <p>1. Don't buy luxury, sometimes the budget brands are just as good and save you heaps.</p> <p>2. Read the junk mail and compare offers because you can get a better deal where you didn't think you could.</p> <p>3. Cut unnecessary expenses and reduce, if possible, the necessary expenses as well.</p> <p>4. Buy used goods, it's cheaper and you can haggle.</p> <p>5. See if you can switch power companies. I'm aware of several people who are saving $250 a year.</p> <p>6. Borrow books and movies from the library or movie store - it's free or low cost compared to buying new and it's fast.</p> <p>7. Barter with family and friends, it's free and everyone wins.</p> <p>8. Take advantage of specials, sales and deals including buying in bulk, it can save you more than you realise.</p> <p>9. Walk, bike or car pool or use other public transport, it's good for the environment and saves you money.</p> <p>10. Shop around for the best deal, it might be better elsewhere.</p> <p>11. Follow insurance company advice: Don't smoke, do have alarms and do get multi policies - it protects you and saves cash.</p> <p>12. Have a savings account with all the savings from this and don't touch it, you will be amazed at what you have saved in a short time.</p> <p><em>Written by John Murphy. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz</span></strong></a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Money & Banking

Entertainment

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Leap of imagination: how February 29 reminds us of our mysterious relationship with time and space

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-ohara-874665">Emily O'Hara</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/auckland-university-of-technology-1137">Auckland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>If you find it intriguing that February 28 will be followed this week by February 29, rather than March 1 as it usually is, spare a thought for those alive in 1582. Back then, Thursday October 4 was followed by Friday October 15.</p> <p>Ten whole days were snatched from the present when Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull to “restore” the calendar from discrepancies that had crept into the Julian calendar, introduced by Julius Caesar in 45 BCE.</p> <p>The new Gregorian calendar returned the northern hemisphere’s vernal equinox to its “proper” place, around March 21. (The equinox is when the Earth’s axis is tilted neither toward nor away from the sun, and is used to determine the date of Easter.)</p> <p>The Julian calendar had observed a leap year every four years, but this meant time had drifted out of alignment with the dates of celestial events and astronomical seasons.</p> <p>In the Gregorian calendar, leap days were added only to years that were a multiple of four – like 2024 – with an exception for years that were evenly divisible by 100, but not 400 – like 1700.</p> <p>Simply put, leap days exist because it doesn’t take a neat 365 days for Earth to orbit the Sun. It takes 365.2422 days. Tracking the movement of celestial objects through space in an orderly pattern doesn’t quite work, which is why we have February – time’s great mop.</p> <h2>Time and space</h2> <p>This is just part of the history of how February – the shortest month, and originally the last month in the Roman calendar – came to have the job of absorbing those inconsistencies in the temporal calculations of the world’s most commonly used calendar.</p> <p>There is plenty of <a href="https://theconversation.com/leap-day-fixing-the-faults-in-our-stars-54032">science</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/explainer-the-science-behind-leap-years-and-how-they-work-54788">maths</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-a-seasonal-snarl-up-in-the-mid-1500s-gave-us-our-strange-rules-for-leap-years-132659">astrophysics</a> explaining the relationship between time and the planet we live on. But I like to think leap years and days offer something even more interesting to consider: why do we have calendars anyway?</p> <p>And what have they got to do with how we understand the wonder and strangeness of our existence in the universe? Because calendars tell a story, not just about time, but also about space.</p> <p>Our reckoning of time on Earth is through our spatial relationship to the Sun, Moon and stars. Time, and its place in our lives, sits somewhere between the scientific, the celestial and the spiritual.</p> <p>It is <a href="https://shop.whitechapelgallery.org/products/time">notoriously slippery, subjective and experiential</a>. It is also marked, tracked and determined in myriad ways across different cultures, from tropical to solar to <a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/pou-tiaki/300062097/matariki-and-the-maramataka-the-mori-lunar-calendar">lunar</a> calendars.</p> <p>It is the Sun that measures a day and gives us our first reference point for understanding time. But it is the <a href="https://librarysearch.aut.ac.nz/vufind/Record/1145999?sid=25214690">Moon</a>, as a major celestial body, that extends our perception of time. By stretching a span of one day into something longer, it offers us a chance for philosophical reflection.</p> <p>The Sun (or its effect at least) is either present or not present. The Moon, however, goes through phases of transformation. It appears and disappears, changing shape and hinting that one night is not exactly like the one before or after.</p> <p>The Moon also has a distinct rhythm that can be tracked and understood as a pattern, giving us another sense of duration. Time is just that – overlapping durations: instants, seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, lifetimes, centuries, ages.</p> <h2>The elusive Moon</h2> <p>It is almost impossible to imagine how time might feel in the absence of all the tools and gadgets we use to track, control and corral it. But it’s also hard to know what we might do in the absence of time as a unit of productivity – a measurable, dispensable resource.</p> <p>The closest we might come is simply to imagine what life might feel like in the absence of the Moon. Each day would rise and fall, in a rhythm of its own, but without visible reference to anything else. Just endless shifts from light to dark.</p> <p>Nights would be almost completely dark without the light of the Moon. Only stars at a much further distance would puncture the inky sky. The world around us would change – trees would grow, mammals would age and die, land masses would shift and change – but all would happen in an endless cycle of sunrise to sunset.</p> <p>The light from the Sun takes <a href="https://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/space-science/how-take-light-from-sun-reach-earth">eight minutes</a> to reach Earth, so the sunlight we see is always eight minutes in the past.</p> <p>I remember sitting outside when I first learned this, and wondering what the temporal delay might be between me and other objects: a plum tree, trees at the end of the street, hills in the distance, light on the horizon when looking out over the ocean, stars in the night sky.</p> <p>Moonlight, for reference, takes about <a href="https://www.pbs.org/seeinginthedark/astronomy-topics/light-as-a-cosmic-time-machine.html">1.3 seconds</a> to get to Earth. Light always travels at the same speed, it is entirely constant. The differing duration between how long it takes for sunlight or moonlight to reach the Earth is determined by the space in between.</p> <p>Time on the other hand, is anything but constant. There are countless ways we characterise it. The mere fact we have so many calendars and ways of describing perceptual time hints at our inability to pin it down.</p> <p>Calendars give us the impression we can, and have, made time predictable and understandable. Leap years, days and seconds serve as a periodic reminder that we haven’t.<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/224503/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-ohara-874665"><em>Emily O'Hara</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer, Spatial Design + Temporary Practices, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/auckland-university-of-technology-1137">Auckland 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/leap-of-imagination-how-february-29-reminds-us-of-our-mysterious-relationship-with-time-and-space-224503">original article</a>.</em></p>

Technology

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Why Mary Poppins has received a new rating 60 years on

<p dir="ltr">Almost 60 years after <em>Mary Poppins</em> was first released, the classic film has been given a new rating by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). </p> <p dir="ltr">The BBFC, which regulates films and video content in the country, changed the rating of the 1964 Disney musical last week from U (Universal) to PG (Parental Guidance) because it features a racial slur once used by white Europeans to refer to the native peoples of southern Africa.</p> <p dir="ltr">"<em>Mary Poppins</em> (1964) includes two uses of the discriminatory term 'hottentots'," a BBFC spokesperson said in a statement to CNN.</p> <p dir="ltr">"While <em>Mary Poppins</em> has a historical context, the use of discriminatory language is not condemned, and ultimately exceeds our guidelines for acceptable language at U."</p> <p dir="ltr">The approaching 60th anniversary of the film is what prompted the BBFC to reexamine the film, as it is set to return to UK cinemas in celebration of the milestone. </p> <p dir="ltr">Even as <em>Mary Poppins</em> remains a treasured part of UK culture, the film has long been criticised for the use of blackface. It's partly in this context that the discriminatory language referenced by BBFC appears in the film.</p> <p dir="ltr">In one scene, the eccentric Admiral Boom asks one of the Banks children if he is going on an adventure to "defeat hottentots." </p> <p dir="ltr">Later in the film, as Admiral Boom sees chimney sweeps with soot-blackened faces dancing in the distance, he shouts, "We're being attacked by hottentots!" and orders a cannon to be fired in their direction.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Hottentot" is a derogatory term used by European settlers to refer to Khoikhoi peoples of South Africa and Namibia, according to the Oxford Dictionary reference.</p> <p dir="ltr">Per the new film rating, children of any age can still watch without an adult present, but parents should consider whether the content might upset younger or more sensitive children, a BBFC spokesperson said.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Disney</em></p>

Movies

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Russell Crowe unveils new look not seen in over 20 years

<p>Russell Crowe, the man of many faces – literally, his beard has its own postcode – is making headlines again. Not for his stellar performances or his knack for embodying iconic characters, but for something far more groundbreaking: he shaved.</p> <p>Yes, you read that right. Russell Crowe has gone from grizzly lumberjack chic to smooth operator in what can only be described as a follicular metamorphosis of epic proportions.</p> <p>In a tweet that shook the internet harder than a magnitude 9 earthquake, Crowe proudly announced, "The actor prepares #20. First shave since 2019".</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The actor prepares #20.<br />First shave since 2019. <a href="https://t.co/e48ctxh9GY">pic.twitter.com/e48ctxh9GY</a></p> <p>— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) <a href="https://twitter.com/russellcrowe/status/1759500781642780929?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 19, 2024</a></p></blockquote> <p>Now, to put this into perspective, in 2019 we were all living in a blissful ignorance of the chaos that awaited us in the years to come. So, the fact that Russell Crowe has finally decided to bid farewell to his facial foliage is nothing short of a miracle.</p> <p>In the accompanying photo, Crowe stares into the camera with the seriousness of a man who has just discovered a rare species of moth living in his beard. His face, now liberated from the tangled web of hair, appears decades younger, causing fans to collectively question if time travel is, in fact, possible.</p> <p>But let's not forget, this isn't Crowe's first rodeo with a clean-shaven face. Even though he cites "2019" in his caption, the last time he showcased such ephemeral smoothness was back in 2012 while promoting <em>Les Miserables –</em> a time when the world was still recovering from the shock of "Gangnam Style" and debating the colour of a certain pinstriped dress. So, it's safe to say, Crowe's clean-shaven look is rarer than a blue moon on a leap year.</p> <p>Of course, fans couldn't contain their excitement. One Twitter user exclaimed, "20 years younger instantly!" Another fan, probably needing a moment to catch their breath after witnessing the transformation, simply stated, "oh THERE you are". And let's not overlook the fan who eloquently remarked, "Looks good! It’s nice to change it up and shave. You have a nice face it was hiding behind all that hair." Ah, poetry in the age of social media.</p> <p>But what prompted this seismic shift in Crowe's appearance? Well, he didn't spill the beans on which movie role necessitated the razor, but we can only imagine the possibilities. Perhaps he's playing a time-travelling barber who inadvertently alters the course of history with each stroke of his razor. Or maybe he's set to star in a reboot of <em>The Santa Clause</em> as the titular character who decides to trade in his bushy beard for a more aerodynamic look. The possibilities are as endless as the hairs on Crowe's chin once were.</p> <p>Whatever the reason, one thing's for sure: Crowe's fresh shave has left an indelible mark on the internet. And as he gears up for roles in everything from historical dramas (he’s pegged to play Hermann Göring in the film <em>Nuremberg) </em>to MMA action flicks (such as <em>The Beast In Me</em>, which traces the life of a commercial fisherman who avenges his brother's death by fighting in a cage match)<span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">, we can only hope that his newfound smoothness becomes a permanent fixture.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">After all, in a world of chaos and uncertainty, sometimes all it takes is a clean shave to restore our faith in humanity.</span></p> <p><em>Images: Poker Face / Twitter (X) </em></p>

Movies

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Should Taylor Swift be taught alongside Shakespeare? A professor of literature says yes

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/liam-e-semler-1507004">Liam E Semler</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Does Taylor Swift’s music belong in the English classroom? No, obviously. We should teach the classics, like <a href="https://www.folger.edu/explore/shakespeares-works/shakespeares-sonnets/">Shakespeare’s Sonnets</a>. After all, they have stood the test of time. It’s 2024 and he was born in 1564, and she’s only 34. What’s more, she is a pop singer, not a poet. Sliding her into the classroom would be yet another example of a dumbed-down curriculum. It’s ridiculous. It makes everyone look bad.</p> <p>I’ve heard all that. And plenty more like it. But none of it is right. Well, the dates might be, but not the assumptions – about Shakespeare, about English, about teaching, and about Swift.</p> <p>Swift is, by the way, a poet. She sees herself this way and her songs bear her out. In Sweet Nothing, on the <a href="https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/taylor-swift-midnights/">Midnights</a> album, she sings:</p> <blockquote> <p>On the way home<br />I wrote a poem<br />You say “What a mind”<br />This happens all the time.</p> </blockquote> <p>I’m sure it does. Swift is relentlessly productive as a songwriter. With Midnights, she picked up <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2024/02/04/entertainment/taylor-swift-album-of-the-year-grammys/index.html">her fourth Grammy for Album of the Year</a>. And here we are, on the brink of another studio album, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tortured_Poets_Department">The Tortured Poets Department</a>, somehow written and produced amid the gargantuan success of Midnights and the Eras World Tour.</p> <h2>An ally of literature</h2> <p>Regardless of what The Tortured Poets Department ends up being about, Swift is already a firm ally of literature and reading. She is <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/taylor-swift-donates-6000-books-to-library/">a donor of thousands of books</a> to public libraries in the United States, an advocate to schoolchildren of the importance of reading and songwriting, and a lover of the process of crafting lyrics.</p> <p>In a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnbCSboujF4">2016 Vogue interview</a>, Swift declared with glee that, if she were a teacher, she would teach English. The literary references in her songs are endlessly noted. “I love Shakespeare as much as the next girl,” she wrote in a <a href="https://www.elle.com/uk/life-and-culture/a26546099/taylor-swift-pop-music/">2019 article for Elle</a>.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/mdgKhdcQrNw?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Her interview Read Every Day gives a good sense of this. Swift speaks about her writing process in ways that make it accessible. She explains how songs come to her anywhere and everywhere, like an idea randomly appearing “on a cloud” that becomes the first piece in a “puzzle” that will be assembled into a song. She furtively whisper-sings song ideas into her phone when out with friends.</p> <p>In her <a href="https://www.thelineofbestfit.com/news/read-taylor-swifts-full-nsai-songwriter-artist-of-the-decade-award-speech">acceptance speech for the Nashville Songwriter-Artist of the Decade Award</a> in 2022, Swift explained how she writes in three broad styles, imagining she is holding either a “quill”, a “fountain pen”, or a “glitter gel pen”. Songcraft is a joyous challenge for her.</p> <p>If, as teachers of literature, we are too proud to credit Swift’s plainly expressed love of English (regardless of whether we like her songs or not), we are likely missing something. To bluntly rule her out of the English classroom feels more absurd than allowing her in.</p> <p>Clio Doyle, a lecturer in early modern literature, has <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-taylor-swift-belongs-on-english-literature-degree-courses-219660">summarised</a> Swift’s suitability for English in a recent article which concludes:</p> <blockquote> <p>The important thing isn’t whether or not Swift might be the new Shakespeare. It’s that the discipline of English literature is flexible, capacious and open-minded. A class on reading Swift’s work as literature is just another English class, because every English class requires grappling with the idea of reading anything as literature. Even Shakespeare.</p> </blockquote> <p>Doyle reminds us Swift’s work has been taught at universities for a while now and, inevitably, the singer’s name keeps cropping up in relation to Shakespeare. This isn’t just a case of fandom gone wild or Shakespeare professors, like <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/culture/music/why-taylor-swift-is-a-literary-giant-by-a-shakespeare-professor-20230518-p5d9cn.html">Jonathan Bate</a>, gone rogue.</p> <p>The global interest in the world-first academic <a href="https://swiftposium2024.com/">Swiftposium</a> is a good measure of how things are trending. Moreover, it is wrong to think Swift’s songs are included in units of study purely to be adored. Her wide appeal is part of her appeal to educators, but that doesn’t mean her art is uncritically included.</p> <p>The reverse is true. Claire Hansen <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/pop-star-philosopher-poet-taylor-swift-is-shaking-up-how-we-think-20240207-p5f342.html">taught Swift in one of her literature units at the Australian National University</a> last year precisely because this influential singer-songwriter prompts students to explore the boundaries of the canon.</p> <p>I will be teaching Midnights and Shakespeare’s Sonnets together in a literature unit at the University of Sydney this semester. Why? Not because I think Swift is as good as Shakespeare, or because I think she is not as good as Shakespeare. These statements are fine as personal opinions, but unhelpful as blanket declarations without context. The nature of English as a discipline is far more complex, interesting and valuable than a labelling and ranking exercise.</p> <h2>Teaching Midnights and Shakespeare’s Sonnets</h2> <p>I teach Shakespeare’s sonnets as exquisite poems, reflective of their time and culture. I also teach three modern artworks that shed contemporary light on the sonnets.</p> <p>The first is Jen Bervin’s 2004 book <a href="https://www.jenbervin.com/projects/nets">Nets</a>. Bervin prints a selection of the sonnets, one per page, in grey text. In each of these grey sonnets, some of Shakespeare’s words and phrases are printed in black and thus stand out boldly.</p> <p>The result is a <a href="https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/palimpsest">palimpsest</a>. The Shakespearean sonnet appears lying, like fertile soil, beneath the briefer poem that emerges from it. Bervin describes this technique as a stripping down of the sonnets to “nets” in order “to make the space of the poems open, porous, possible – a divergent elsewhere”. The creative relationship between the Shakespearean base and Bervin’s proverb-like poems proves that, as Bervin says, “when we write poems, the history of poetry is with us”.</p> <p>The second text is Luke Kennard’s prizewinning 2021 collection <a href="https://www.pennedinthemargins.co.uk/index.php/2021/04/notes-on-the-sonnets/">Notes on the Sonnets</a>. Kennard recasts the sonnets as a series of entertaining prose poems. Each poem responds to a specific Shakespearean sonnet, recasting it as the freewheeling thought bubble of a fictional attendee at an unappealing house party. In an interview with C.D. Rose, Kennard <a href="https://thequietus.com/articles/30078-luke-kennard-interview-the-answer-to-everything-notes-on-the-sonnets">explains</a> how his house party design puts the reader</p> <blockquote> <p>in between a public and private space, you’re at home and you’re out, you’re free, you’re enclosed. And that’s similar in the sonnets.</p> </blockquote> <p>The third text is Swift’s Midnights. Unlike Bervin’s and Kennard’s collections, in which individual pieces relate to specific sonnets, there is no explicit adaptation. Instead, Midnights raises broader themes.</p> <h2>Deep connection</h2> <p>In her Elle article, Swift describes songwriting as akin to photography. She strives to capture moments of lived experience:</p> <blockquote> <p>The fun challenge of writing a pop song is squeezing those evocative details into the catchiest melody you can possibly think of. I thrive on the challenge of sprinkling personal mementos and shreds of reality into a genre of music that is universally known for being, well, universal.</p> </blockquote> <p>Her point is that the pop songs that “cut through the most are actually the most detailed” in their snippets of reality and biography. She says “people are reaching out for connection and comfort” and “music lovers want some biographical glimpse into the world of our narrator, a hole in the emotional walls people put up around themselves to survive”.</p> <p>Midnights exemplifies this. It is a concept album built on the idea that midnight is a time for pursuit of and confrontation with the self – or better, the selves. Swift says the songs form “the full picture of the intensities of that mystifying, mad hour”.</p> <p>The album, she says, is “a journey through terrors and sweet dreams” for those “who have tossed and turned and decided to keep the lanterns lit and go searching – hoping that just maybe, when the clock strikes twelve […] we’ll meet ourselves”.<br />Swift claims that Midnights lets listeners in through her protective walls to enable deep connection:</p> <blockquote> <p>I really don’t think I’ve delved this far into my insecurities in this detail before. I struggle with the idea that my life has become unmanageably sized and […] I just struggle with the idea of not feeling like a person.</p> </blockquote> <p>Midnights is not a sonnet collection, but it has fascinating parallels. There is no firm narrative through-line. Nor is there a through-line in early modern sonnet collections such as Shakespeare’s. Instead, both gather songs and poems that let us see aspects of the singing or speaking persona’s thoughts, emotions and experiences. Shakespeare’s speaker is also troubled through the night in sonnets 27, 43 and 61.</p> <p>The sonnets come in thematic clusters, pairs and mini-sequences. It can be interesting to ask students if they can see something similar in the order of songs on the Midnights album – or the “3am” edition with its seven extra tracks, or the “Til Dawn” edition with another three songs.</p> <p>Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells, in their edition of <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/all-the-sonnets-of-shakespeare/AE1912C43BE4F50391B25B83C0C03B1F">All the Sonnets of Shakespeare</a>, say Shakespeare’s collection is “the most idiosyncratic gathering of sonnets in the period” because he “uses the sonnet form to work out his intimate thoughts and feelings”.</p> <p>This connects very well with the agenda of Midnights. Both collections are piecemeal psychic landscapes. The singing or speaking voice sometimes feels autobiographical – compare, for example, sonnets 23, 129, 135-6 and 145 to Swift’s songs Anti-hero, You’re On Your Own, Kid, Sweet Nothing, and Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve. At other times the voices feel less autobiographical. Often there is no way to distinguish one from the other.</p> <p>Swift’s songs and Shakespeare’s Sonnets are meditations on deeply personal aspects of their narrators’ experiences. They present us with encounters, memories, relationships, values and claims. Swift’s persona is that of a self-reflective singer, just as Shakespeare’s is that of a self-reflective sonneteer. Both focus on love in all its shades. Both present themselves as vulnerable to industry rivals and pressures. Both dwell on issues of power.</p> <h2>Close reading</h2> <p>Shakespeare’s sonnets are rewarding texts for close reading because of their poetic intricacy. Students can look at end rhymes and internal rhymes, the way the argument progresses through <a href="https://www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms/quatrain">quatrains</a>, the positioning of the “turn”, which is often in line 9 or 13, and the way the final couplet wraps things up (or doesn’t).</p> <p>The songs on Midnights are also rewarding because Swift has a great vocabulary, a love of metaphor, terrific turns of phrase, and a strong sense of symmetry and balance in wording. More complex songs like Maroon and Question…? are great for detailed analysis.</p> <p>Karma and Mastermind are simpler, yet contain plenty of metaphoric language to be unpacked for meaning and aesthetic effectiveness. Shakespeare’s controlled use of metaphor in Sonnet 73 makes for a telling contrast.</p> <p>The Great War, Glitch and Snow on the Beach are good for exploring how well a single extended metaphor can function to carry the meaning of a song. Sonnets 8, 18, 143 and 147 can be explored in similar terms.</p> <p>Just as students can analyse the “turn” or concluding couplet in a Shakespearean sonnet to see how it reshapes the poem, they can do the same with songs on Midnights. Swift is known for writing effective bridges that contribute fresh, important content towards the end of a song: Sweet Nothing, Mastermind and Dear Reader are excellent examples.</p> <p>Such unexpected pairings are valuable because they require close attention and careful articulation of what is similar and what is not. Shakespeare’s Sonnet 129, for example (the famous one on lust), and Swift’s Bigger than the Whole Sky (a powerful expression of loss) make for a gripping comparison of how intense feeling can be expressed poetically.</p> <p>Or consider Sonnet 29 (“When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes”) and Sweet Nothing: both celebrate intimacy as a defence against the pressures of the public world. How about High Infidelity and Sonnet 138 (where love and self-deception coexist), considered in terms of truth in relationships?</p> <p>There is nothing to lose and plenty to gain in teaching Swift’s Midnights and Shakespeare’s Sonnets together. There’s no dumbing-down involved. And there’s no need for reductive assertions about who is “better”.<!-- 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/223312/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/liam-e-semler-1507004"><em>Liam E Semler</em></a><em>, Professor of Early Modern Literature, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</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/should-taylor-swift-be-taught-alongside-shakespeare-a-professor-of-literature-says-yes-223312">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Property

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Princess Diana's childhood home up for rent

<p>The house Princess Diana spent her childhood and teenage years in is now available for the public to rent. </p> <p>Althorp House, located in West Northamptonshire in England, is owned by Diana's brother Earl Spencer, who has lived on the sprawling property as custodian of the estate since 1992. </p> <p>The expansive property has been listed for royal fans with deep pockets to rent on <a href="https://www.elysian-estates.co.uk/althorp/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Elysian Estates</a>, an upmarket equivalent of Airbnb.</p> <p>Althorp House, which is a 90 minute drive out of London, was built in 1508 and has been in the Spencer family for 19 generations.</p> <p>Lady Diana lived in the 90-room stately home for most of her childhood and teenage years, before she married the then-Prince Charles in 1981.</p> <p>Not just one grand property, the estate covers 13,000 acres of countryside as it encompasses cottages, farms, woodlands and villages, which are open to visitors but only at certain times of the year.</p> <p>Now, the home is once again available to rent via Elysian Estates.</p> <p>"Althorp offers unparalleled levels of service, privacy and luxury to rival the finest properties anywhere in the world; yet retains the truly welcoming and homely feel that makes Althorp so special," the listing says.</p> <p>"Walk in the footsteps of kings and queens, feast or celebrate in spectacular surroundings, marvel at the sense of history and artwork, and slumber in pure luxury."</p> <p>In the main house, there are six state bedrooms to choose from offering "a level of opulence befitting royalty, with these very rooms playing as much a part of English history as any royal palace".</p> <p>Prices for the rental are not yet publicly available as an enquiry must be sent to reserve the opulent property.</p> <p>The listing stated that the stay includes "butler service, a team of private chefs and housekeeping, with a dedicated concierge service".</p> <p>Althorp is today most famous for being the final resting place of Princess Diana following her death in Paris.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Instagram</em></p>

Real Estate

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The rental housing crisis is hurting our most vulnerable and demands a range of solutions (but capping rents isn’t one of them)

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrew-beer-111469">Andrew Beer</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emma-baker-172081">Emma Baker</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-adelaide-1119">University of Adelaide</a></em></p> <p>Roughly <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/housing/housing-occupancy-and-costs/2019-20">one in three Australians</a> rent their homes. It’s Australia’s fastest-growing tenure, but renting is increasingly unaffordable. From 2020 to 2022, our <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4253168">research</a> found a large increase in the proportion of renters who said their housing was unaffordable.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/542737/original/file-20230815-25187-p7vxqo.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/542737/original/file-20230815-25187-p7vxqo.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/542737/original/file-20230815-25187-p7vxqo.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=217&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/542737/original/file-20230815-25187-p7vxqo.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=217&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/542737/original/file-20230815-25187-p7vxqo.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=217&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/542737/original/file-20230815-25187-p7vxqo.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=273&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/542737/original/file-20230815-25187-p7vxqo.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=273&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/542737/original/file-20230815-25187-p7vxqo.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=273&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="horizontal bar chart showing changes in Australian renters' assessments of affordability form 2020 to 2022" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Change in Australian renters’ assessments of affordability from 2020 to 2022.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Baker, Daniel, Beer, et al, forthcoming, The Australian Housing Conditions Dataset, doi:10.26193/SLCU9J, ADA Dataverse</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>Australians are concerned about the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/jul/05/rents-rise-again-across-australia-with-sydney-seeing-fastest-rise-in-20-years">pace</a> of <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/how-much-has-rent-increased-around-australia/8ljlnf0zm">rent rises</a>. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese <a href="https://www.pm.gov.au/media/national-cabinet-meeting">says</a> increasing housing supply and affordability is the “key priority” for tomorrow’s national cabinet meeting.</p> <p>The crisis has impacts well beyond affordability. The rental sector is where the worst housing accommodates the poorest Australians with the worst health.</p> <h2>The unhealthy state of rental housing</h2> <p>Forthcoming data from the <a href="https://dataverse.ada.edu.au/dataverse/ahcdi">Australian Housing Conditions Dataset</a> highlight some of these parallel challenges:</p> <ul> <li> <p>it’s often insecure – the average lease is less than 12 months, and less than a third of formal rental agreements extend beyond 12 months</p> </li> <li> <p>rental housing quality is often very poor – 45% of renters rate the condition of their dwelling as “average, poor, or very poor”</p> </li> <li> <p>poor housing conditions put the health of renters at risk – 43% report problems with damp or mould, and 35% have difficulty keeping their homes warm in winter or cool in summer</p> </li> <li> <p>compounding these health risks, people with poorer health are over-represented in the rental sector. Renters are almost twice as likely as mortgage holders to have poorer general health.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Measures that potentially restrict the supply of lower-cost rental housing – such as rent caps – will <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4253168">worsen these impacts</a>. More households will be left searching in a shrinking pool of affordable housing.</p> <h2>It’s all about supply</h2> <p>Fixing the rental crisis needs more than a single focus on private rental housing. The movement between households over time between renting and buying homes means the best solutions are those that boost the supply of affordable housing generally. No one policy can provide all the answers.</p> <p>Governments should be looking at multiple actions, including:</p> <ul> <li> <p>requiring local councils to adopt affordable housing strategies as well as mandating <a href="https://www.ahuri.edu.au/analysis/brief/understanding-inclusionary-zoning">inclusionary zoning</a>, which requires developments to include a proportion of affordable homes</p> </li> <li> <p>improving land supply through better forecasting at the national, state and local levels</p> </li> <li> <p>giving housing and planning ministers the power to deliver affordable housing targets by providing support for demonstration projects, subsidised land to social housing providers and access to surplus land</p> </li> <li> <p>boosting the recruitment and retention of skilled construction workers from both domestic and international sources.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>The biggest landlord subsidy isn’t helping</h2> <p>More than <a href="https://data.gov.au/data/dataset/taxation-statistics-2020-21/resource/ebbd32e3-4556-41e1-a8b9-33387457d518">1 million Australians</a> claim a net rent loss (negative gearing) each year. Even though negative gearing is focused on rental investment losses, it is not strictly a housing policy as it applies to many types of investment.</p> <p>The impact of negative gearing on the housing system is untargeted and largely uncontrolled. As a result, it’s driving outcomes that are sometimes at odds with the need to supply well-located affordable housing.</p> <p>The most impactful action the Australian government could take to deliver more affordable rental housing nationwide would involve refining negative-gearing arrangements to boost the supply of low-income rentals. These measures may involve</p> <ul> <li>limiting negative gearing to dwellings less than ten years old</li> <li>introducing a low-income tax credit scheme similar to the one in the United States.</li> </ul> <p>We can learn much from the US, where the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (<a href="https://www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/lihtc.html">LIHTC</a>) scheme subsidises the acquisition, construction and renovation of affordable rental housing for tenants on low to moderate incomes. Since the mid-1990s, the program has supported the construction or renovation of about 110,000 affordable rental units each year. That adds up to over <a href="https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/what-low-income-housing-tax-credit-and-how-does-it-work">2 million units</a> at an estimated annual cost of US$9billion (A$13.8billion).</p> <p>This scheme is much less expensive per unit of affordable housing delivered than Australia’s system of negative gearing.</p> <p>Closer to home, the previous National Rental Affordability Scheme showed the value of targeted financial incentives in encouraging affordable housing. This scheme, available to private and disproved investors, generated positive outcomes for tenants. The benefits included better health for low-income tenants who were able to moved into quality new housing.</p> <p>A <a href="https://cityfutures.ada.unsw.edu.au/documents/81/Next_moves_report.pdf">raft</a> of <a href="https://apo.org.au/node/260431">evaluations</a> have <a href="https://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/267">demonstrated</a> the achievements of this scheme.</p> <h2>Crisis calls for lasting solutions</h2> <p>Short-term measures such as rent caps or eviction bans will not provide a solution in the near future or even the medium or long term. Instead, these are likely to worsen both the housing costs and health of low-income tenants.</p> <p>Reform focused on ongoing needs is called for. Solutions that can be implemented quickly include the tighter targeting of negative gearing and the introduction of a low-income housing tax credit.</p> <p>Talking about change, as the national cabinet is doing, will begin that process of transformation, but it must be backed up by a range of measures to boost the supply of affordable housing. This, in turn, will improve the housing market overall as affordable options become more widely available.<!-- 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/211275/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/andrew-beer-111469">Andrew Beer</a>, Executive Dean, UniSA Business, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emma-baker-172081">Emma Baker</a>, Professor of Housing Research, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-adelaide-1119">University of Adelaide</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/the-rental-housing-crisis-is-hurting-our-most-vulnerable-and-demands-a-range-of-solutions-but-capping-rents-isnt-one-of-them-211275">original article</a>.</em></p>

Real Estate

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Outrage after renters confronted with cleaning “scoring system”

<p dir="ltr">An Australian real estate agent has come under fire for their “demoralising” scoring system for tenants during routine inspections. </p> <p dir="ltr">One fired up renter said they were shocked to receive a scorecard from the agent after they complied with an inspection, and shared their feedback on Reddit. </p> <p dir="ltr">The scorecard rated the tenant’s efforts cleaning the property in 17 different rooms and areas, marking them on cleanliness, and if the areas were damaged or required maintenance. </p> <p dir="ltr">The renter was then also given an overall rating out of five stars, based on the upkeep of their rental home. </p> <p dir="ltr">The Reddit user showed that they received just three and half stars, despite being marked down in only one area due to a light globe not working.</p> <p dir="ltr">In their post, the tenant said they had made every effort to clean the home, adding that the rating was “demoralising”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I’ve been renting a long time, and my deep cleaning routine is based around inspections,” they explained.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I go all out - every room in my little 3x2 villa is given a spring clean, every surface is washed including walls, doors, lights, windows, carpets etc.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“Had my latest inspection a few weeks ago and just received the report. Despite the agent commenting once again that she never sees houses as clean as mine, and taking 112 (!) photos of every single thing that shows how great the condition of the house is - having one light globe not working is so terrible that I’m scored three and a half out of five.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The renter went on to say that they had only recently discovered that the broken light globe was the real estate’s responsibility to replace, and does not warrant such a severe marking down in their “score”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The globe in question is a downlight fitting. We have so many downlights that I don’t even use this particular one,” they continued.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I can’t replace the globe itself, I need to get into the roof to replace the whole unit. Thanks to people here I’ve learned this isn’t even my responsibility to fix!”</p> <p dir="ltr">The renter’s post sparked a huge outrage online, with many up in arms over the current state of the rental market and unrealistic expectations of estate agents. </p> <p dir="ltr">One person said, “I fully believe that the average renter keeps a home to a higher standard than an owner, and it seems deliberately demoralising that someone could be marked down for having a light out.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Another added, “This is ridiculously petty, and more importantly, totally irrelevant to the purpose of a periodic inspection. Which is to identify whether any maintenance is needed.”</p> <p dir="ltr">A third person took their anger out on the entire system, summing it up by writing, “I sort of wonder what little lightbulb clicks in your mind and you wake up one day and ask yourself, ‘How can I be a massive c*** who offers no value to society? I know! I will get into real estate.’”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Reddit</em></p>

Real Estate

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The hidden dangers of household products

<p>The materials, fabrics and fragrances contained inside our homes are host to thousands of chemicals that may pose a threat to human health.</p> <p>Healthy home expert Nicole Bijlsma says there simply aren’t enough regulations to ensure the products and materials in our homes are safe for consumers.</p> <p>“We have this incredible, unregulated, chemical onslaught in our household products, personal care products, building materials and cleaning products which is why the burden of chemicals is increasing with each generation,” Bijlsma says.</p> <p>“Just because it’s on the supermarket shelf doesn’t mean it’s been tested.”</p> <p>The largely unregulated cleaning product industry is often placed under scrutiny in the fight against chemicals but Bijsma says this issue extends to all areas of the home.</p> <p>“What happens is we wait for the disease to occur in the general population before we look back and realise [the harm]…It’s a stupid system; it doesn’t protect consumers and it certainly does not protect the most vulnerable in our society– our children and the unborn fetus.”</p> <p>Only through thorough research can consumers determine where their products are being sourced, under what conditions they’ve been made and the impact they may have on health. Even then there are gaps.</p> <p>Imported items are not under the same regulations as those made in New Zealand.</p> <p>“A lot of the products, especially furnishings, you can’t load with formaldehyde but if you import them from Asia as most people do, they’re going to be loaded with chemicals…Bijlsma says. </p> <p>Bijlsma advises going back to basics when selecting materials and products, reducing the chemical load, choosing natural fibres and buying home made.</p> <p>“The big problem is most chemicals in building materials and household products have never been tested for their impact on human health,” Bijlsma says.</p> <p>Creating a healthy home is of the utmost importance to homeowner Irena Bukhshtaber, who has recently extended her  home to be 100 per cent sustainable and hypoallergenic.</p> <p>“Because our industry standards are so high, usually it’s a local product too…Watch out for imports, from floorboards to air-conditioning, as there’s no way to guarantee what they say on the label unless the seller can guarantee provenance or knows the company.”</p> <p>Despite the time-consuming research process (three years) of renovating the home to a healthy standard Bukhshtaber says the outcome has been worth the effort.</p> <p>“How difficult is it to live with sick or tired family members? How hard is it to live your values? If the outcome is positive then it’s not difficult, but it is time consuming and does require you to spend time researching, calling and discussing with suppliers.”</p> <p>To keep her costs down when renovating, Bukhshtaber advises determining the elements of a home that matter most to you, whether this be using recycled materials, limited chemicals, high-quality design, ethical manufacturing or buying New Zealand made.</p> <p>“None of these things are mutually exclusive but you do need a hierarchy in mind as no one has unlimited budget,” Bukhshtaber says.</p> <p><em>Written by Amelia Barnes. First appeared on</em> <a href="http://www.domain.com.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span><em><strong>Domain.com.au.</strong></em></span></a></p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

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