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Paid parental leave needs an overhaul if governments want us to have “one for the country”

<p>As Australia and New Zealand face the realities of slow growth, or even a decline in population, it’s time to ask if their governments are doing enough. Especially if they want to encourage people to have more babies.</p> <p>New Zealand’s fertility rate has hit an all-time <a href="https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO2008/S00108/nz-fertility-rate-is-at-all-time-low.htm">low</a> of 1.71 children per woman. The opposition National Party <a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/122653707/election-2020-national-launches-first-1000-days-policy-promises-3000-for-new-parents">wants</a> to entice parents with a NZ$3,000 “baby bonus” to be spent on family services.</p> <p>Australia’s population growth rate is <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-24/treasurer-josh-frydenberg-baby-boom-economy-recovery-coronavirus/12489678">forecast</a> to be 0.6% in 2021, its lowest since 1916.</p> <p>Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenburg urged Australians to have more children, reminding many of then treasurer Peter Costello’s <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/budget-bonus-for-mothers-and-families-20060508-ge29qi.html">encouragement to those who can</a> to have “one for mum, one for dad and one for the country”.</p> <p>But if governments want people to procreate for their nation, they must be prepared to help them, and that includes increases in paid parental leave.</p> <p><strong>The current system</strong></p> <p>New Zealand <a href="https://doi.org/10.26686/pq.v2i1.4189">introduced</a> <a href="https://www.employment.govt.nz/leave-and-holidays/parental-leave/types-of-parental-leave/">paid parental leave</a> in 1999, first as a tax credit then as a cash payment. Over time, the length was increased from 12 to 26 weeks, currently paid to <a href="https://www.employment.govt.nz/leave-and-holidays/parental-leave/parental-leave-payment/payment-amount/">a maximum of NZ$606.46 a week</a>.</p> <p>There is no paid parental leave offered to dads or partners (although they are legally entitled to two weeks’ unpaid leave). But mums may transfer a portion of the 26 weeks to the dad or partner.</p> <p>Ten years ago, Australia was one of the last countries in the developed world to adopt government-funded maternity leave.</p> <p>It offers the primary carer (<a href="https://grattan.edu.au/report/cheaper-childcare/">99.5% of the time, the mum</a>) <a href="https://www.fairwork.gov.au/leave/maternity-and-parental-leave/paid-parental-leave">18 weeks of paid leave at the minimum wage</a> (<a href="https://www.fairwork.gov.au/how-we-will-help/templates-and-guides/fact-sheets/minimum-workplace-entitlements/minimum-wages">currently A$753.80</a>). Only two weeks at the minimum wage is provided for the secondary carer.</p> <p>When you compare the payment rates of parental leave to average salaries in each country (table below), Australia’s 18 weeks drops to an equivalent of 7.9 weeks annual average salary and New Zealand from 26 weeks to 15.5 weeks.</p> <p>These low leave payments appear even less generous when compared to the <a href="https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/Parental-leave-and-gender-equality.pdf">OECD average</a> of 54.1 weeks of paid parental leave for mums and <a href="https://www.oecd.org/els/soc/PF2_1_Parental_leave_systems.pdf">eight weeks </a> for dads or partners.</p> <p>While employers often top up state-paid parental leave entitlements, this is not always the case. For example, Australia’s <a href="https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/Parental-leave-and-gender-equality.pdf">Workplace Gender Equality Agency</a> found more than 70% of financial services companies offered paid parental leave, but more than 80% of retail businesses did not.</p> <p><strong>Earning or caring</strong></p> <p>Given that dads or partners on both sides of the ditch face either no income for two weeks or less then half of the average income, it’s no wonder they choose to keep working to support their families financially.</p> <p>We know from an Australian Human Rights Commission <a href="https://humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/document/publication/SWP_Report_2014.pdf">study in 2014</a> that 85% of dads and partners surveyed took up to four weeks’ leave, and more than half said they would have liked to take more to spend time with mum and newborn. There are <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jftr.12363">substantial benefits</a> including an increase in the mental health and well‐being of fathers and their children as well as greater harmony for the couple.</p> <p>Motherhood <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-parenthood-continues-to-cost-women-more-than-men-97243">penalises</a> women, contributing to significantly <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-30/superannation-young-women-fear-retirement-canberra-ywca-report/11365120">lower lifetime earnings</a>. Not to mention the “second shift” of domestic duties they do if they are balancing work and family.</p> <p>If dads and partners spend more time with their families earlier on in their children’s lives, this increases the likelihood that household chores and caring responsibilities will be more <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.5172/jfs.2014.20.1.19">evenly distributed</a>.</p> <p>Womens’ employment has also <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-10/women-have-lost-jobs-faster-than-men-during-coronavirus-but-are/12338598">been</a> hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes receiving <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-09/childcare-changes-to-disproportionately-affect-women/12333398">less government assistance</a>.</p> <p>The move to roll back free child care in Australia was <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jun/08/australian-government-to-end-free-childcare-on-12-july-in-move-labor-says-will-snap-families">called</a> a “betrayal of Australian families” and “an anti-women move” by Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi.</p> <p>In addition to the “second shift”, women bear the brunt of a “third shift” – known as <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/26/gender-wars-household-chores-comic">the mental load</a>. The business of running the family is characteristically undervalued and unpaid emotional labour, which is <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/15487733.2020.1776561?needAccess=true">mostly</a> taken care of by women.</p> <p>For many dual-income families, lockdown has changed the allocation of household chores and caring responsibilities. <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-20/coronavirus-covid19-domestic-work-housework-gender-gap-women-men/12369708">Research</a> shows the gap between men and women has narrowed.</p> <p><strong>More women in the workplace</strong></p> <p>In the upcoming New Zealand election, it will be interesting to see how the different parties deal with supporting families, the gender pay gap and female workforce participation.</p> <p>If ever an example was needed to show how satisfying a non-traditional care arrangement can be for both parents, consider <a href="https://www.afr.com/politics/stayathome-dad-to-help-jacinda-ardern-be-pm--a-mum-20180119-h0kz9h">stay-at-home dad Clarke Gayford</a>, who supports Jacinda Ardern to be New Zealand’s prime minister.</p> <p>Our previous <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1441358220300070">research</a> found government policy alone does not increase the uptake of dads or partners taking parental leave. Changing workplace norms to support them is a key factor in creating flexible work arrangements and increasing parental leave uptake.</p> <p>Working from home has made <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/there-s-a-silver-lining-for-fathers-in-the-covid-crisis-20200424-p54n1z.html">fatherhood</a> more visible and increased the time some Australian dads <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-20/coronavirus-covid19-domestic-work-housework-gender-gap-women-men/12369708">spend</a> caring for their children.</p> <p>In a post-pandemic world, care responsibilities can no longer be labelled a private matter. New Zealand and Australia both have parental leave policies that fail to offer families real choices about care arrangements.</p> <p>Dads and partners need their own leave entitlements and greater acceptance of their <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jftr.12363">caring responsibilities</a> in the workplace. These changes will challenge caring as women’s work, ease the burden on women and may even boost the fertility rate.</p> <p><em>Written by Sarah Duffy, Western Sydney University; Michelle O'Shea, Western Sydney University, and Patrick van Esch, Auckland University of Technology. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/paid-parental-leave-needs-an-overhaul-if-governments-want-us-to-have-one-for-the-country-145627">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Backyard pilgrimages become the way to a spiritual journey thanks to COVID

<p>Many major religious pilgrimages have been canceled or curtailed in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. These have included the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/23/world/middleeast/hajj-pilgrimage-canceled.html">Hajj</a>, a religious milestone for Muslims the world over; the Hindu pilgrimage, known as the <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-india/india-cancels-historic-hindu-pilgrimage-as-coronavirus-cases-mount-idUSKCN24N14P">Amarnath Yatra</a> high in the mountains of Kashmir; and <a href="https://www.orderofmalta.int/2020/03/12/coronavirus-cancelled-the-62nd-pilgrimage-to-lourdes-and-all-international-conferences/">pilgrimages to Lourdes</a> in France.</p> <p>Pilgrims have faced travel delays and cancellations for centuries. Reasons ranged from financial hardship and agricultural responsibilities to what is now all too familiar to modern-day pilgrims – plague or ill health.</p> <p>Then, as now, one strategy has been to bring the pilgrimage home or into the religious community.</p> <p><strong>Journey of a thousand miles</strong></p> <p>Pilgrimage can be an interior or outward journey and while <a href="https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/003043429">individual motivations may vary</a>, it can be an act of religious devotion or a way to seek closeness with the divine.</p> <p>Through the centuries and across cultures, those who longed to go on a sacred journey would find <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/1594960?seq=1">alternative ways to do so</a>.</p> <p>Reading travel narratives, tracing a map with the finger or eye, or <a href="https://www.britishmuseumshoponline.org/matter-of-faith-an-interdisciplinary-study-of-relics-and-relic-veneration-in-the-medieval-period.html">holding a souvenir</a> brought back from a sacred site helped facilitate a real sense of travel for the homebound pilgrim. Through these visual or material aids, people felt as though they, too, were having a pilgrimage experience, and even connecting with others.</p> <p>One such example is the story of the Dominican friar Felix Fabri, who was known for recording his own pilgrimages in various formats, some geared toward the laity and some for his brothers.</p> <p>Fabri was approached in the 1490s by a group of cloistered nuns, meaning that they had professed vows to lead a contemplative life in the quietude of their community. They desired a <a href="https://muse.jhu.edu/article/261870/pdf">devotional exercise</a> so they could receive the spiritual benefits of pilgrimage without having to break their promise of a life that was sheltered from the outside world.</p> <p>He produced “Die Sionpilger,” a virtual pilgrimage in the form of a day-to-day guidebook to Santiago de Compostela, Jerusalem and Rome. In these cities, pilgrims would encounter sites and scenes associated with many facets of their religion: shrines to honor Jesus and the saints, relics, great cathedrals and sacred landscapes associated with miraculous events and stories.</p> <p>Fabri’s guidebook sent the pilgrim on an imaginative journey of a thousand miles, without having to take a single step.</p> <p><strong>DIY pilgrimages</strong></p> <p>My current <a href="https://carepackagegtu.wordpress.com/2020/07/01/spotlight-barush/">book project</a> shows that from Lourdes to South Africa, from Jerusalem to England, from Ecuador to California, DIY pilgrimages are not just a medieval phenomenon. One such example is Phil Volker’s backyard Camino.</p> <p>Volker is a 72-year-old father and now grandfather, woodworker and veteran who mapped the Camino de Santiago onto his backyard in Vashon Island in the Pacific Northwest. Volker prays the rosary as he walks: for those who have been impacted by the pandemic, his family, his neighbors, the world.</p> <p>After a cancer diagnosis in 2013, a few things came together to inspire Volker to build a backyard Camino, including the film “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/07/movies/the-way-directed-by-emilio-estevez-review.html">The Way</a>,” a pocket-sized book of meditations, “<a href="https://annieoneil.com/">Everyday Camino With Annie</a>” by Annie O'Neil and <a href="https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/M/bo5974687.html">the story of Eratosthenes</a>, the Greek polymath from the second century B.C. who figured out a way to measure the circumference of the Earth using the Sun, a stick and a well.</p> <p>“For me, this guy was the grand godfather of do-it-yourselfers. How can someone pull off this kind of a caper with things at hand in his own backyard? It got me thinking, what else can come out of one’s backyard?,” he told me.</p> <p>Volker began walking a circuitous route around his 10-acre property on Vashon Island in the Pacific Northwest. It was a chance to exercise, which his doctors had encouraged, but also created a space to think and pray.</p> <p>Each lap around the property is just over a half-mile. Realizing that he was covering quite a distance, he found a map of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route to track his progress, calculating that 909 laps would get him from St. Jean Pied-de-Port to the Cathedral of St. James.</p> <p>To date, Volker has completed three 500-mile Caminos without leaving his backyard.</p> <p>Thanks to a <a href="http://philscamino.com/">documentary film</a>, Volker’s <a href="http://caminoheads.com/">daily blog</a> and an <a href="https://www.nwcatholic.org/features/nw-stories/vashon-camino-pilgrimage">article</a> in the magazine “Northwest Catholic,” the backyard Camino has attracted many visitors, some simply curious but many who are seeking healing and solace.</p> <p><strong>Pilgrimage and remembrance</strong></p> <p>The story of Volker’s backyard Camino inspired Sara Postlethwaite, a sister of the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity, to map <a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/travel/ireland/go-walk-st-kevin-s-way-co-wicklow-1.553577">St. Kevin’s Way</a>, a 19-mile pilgrimage route in County Wicklow, Ireland onto a series of daily 1.5-mile circuits in Daly City, California.</p> <p>The route rambles along roads and countryside from Hollywood to the ruins of the monastery that St. Kevin, a sixth-century abbot, had founded in Glendalough. Postlethwaite had intended to travel back to her native Ireland in the spring of 2020 to walk the route in person, but due to pandemic-related travel restrictions, she brought the pilgrimage to her home in Daly City.</p> <p>Every so often, Postlethwaite would check in on Google Maps to see where she was along the Irish route, pivoting the camera to see surrounding trees or, at one point, finding herself in the center of an old stone circle.</p> <p>Several joined Postlethwaite’s walk in solidarity, both in the U.S. and overseas.</p> <p>After each day’s walk, she paused at the shed at her community house, where she had drawn a to-scale version of the Market Cross at Glendalough.</p> <p>As Postlethwaite traced the intersecting knots, circles and image of the crucified Christ with her chalk, she reflected not just on the suffering caused by the pandemic but also about issues of racism, justice and privilege. In particular, she remembered <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/article/ahmaud-arbery-shooting-georgia.html">Ahmaud Arbery</a>, a Black jogger shot by two white men in a fatal confrontation in February 2020. She inscribed his name on the chalk cross.</p> <p>For Berkeley-based artist <a href="https://www.maggiepreston.com/">Maggie Preston</a>, a DIY chalk labyrinth on the street outside her house became a way to connect with her neighbors and her three-year-old son. There is a link here with the medieval strategies for bringing longer pilgrimages into the church or community. <a href="https://www.luc.edu/medieval/labyrinths/imaginary_pilgrimage.shtml">Scholars have suggested</a> that labyrinths may have been based on maps of Jerusalem, providing a scaled-down version of a much longer pilgrimage route.</p> <p>They started out by chalking in the places they could no longer go – the aquarium, the zoo, a train journey – and then created a simple labyrinth formed by a continuous path in seven half-circles.</p> <p>“A labyrinth gave us a greater destination, not just somewhere to imagine going, but a circuitous path to literally travel with our feet,” she told me.</p> <p>As neighbors discovered the labyrinth, it began to create a genuine sense of community akin to that which many seek to find when they embark on a much longer pilgrimage.</p> <p><strong>‘Relearn to pretend’</strong></p> <p>Volker’s cancer has progressed to stage IV and he celebrated his 100th chemo treatment back in 2017, but he is still walking and praying on a regular basis. He offers the following advice:</p> <p>“For folks starting their own backyard Camino I think that creating the myth is the most important consideration. Study maps, learn to pronounce the names of the towns, walk in the dust and the mud, be out there in the rain, drink their wine and eat their food, relearn to pretend.”</p> <p><em>Written by Kathryn Barush. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/as-coronavirus-curtails-travel-backyard-pilgrimages-become-the-way-to-a-spiritual-journey-143518">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Air pollution could be making honey bees sick

<p>Whether it’s exhaust fumes from cars or smoke from power plants, air pollution is an often invisible threat that is <a href="https://www.who.int/health-topics/air-pollution#tab=tab_1">a leading cause</a> of death worldwide. Breathing air laced with heavy metals, nitrogen oxides and fine particulate matter has been linked to a range of chronic health conditions, <a href="https://theconversation.com/understanding-the-pollution-thats-hurting-our-health-25242">including</a> lung problems, heart disease, stroke and cancer.</p> <p>If air pollution can harm human health in so many different ways, it makes sense that other animals suffer from it too. Airborne pollutants affect all kinds of life, <a href="https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.en.27.010182.002101">even insects</a>. In highly polluted areas of Serbia, for instance, <a href="https://peerj.com/articles/5197/">researchers found</a> pollutants lingering on the bodies of European honeybees. Car exhaust fumes are known to interrupt the scent cues that attract and guide bees towards flowers, while also <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-41876-w">interfering with</a> their ability to remember scents.</p> <p>Now, <a href="https://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.2009074117">a new study from India</a> has revealed how air pollution may be depleting the health of honey bees in the wild. These effects may not kill bees outright. But like humans repeatedly going to work under heavy stress or while feeling unwell, the researchers found that air pollution made bees sluggish in their daily activities and could be shortening their lives.</p> <p><strong>Unhealthy bees in Bangalore</strong></p> <p>India is one of the world’s <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/264662/top-producers-of-fresh-vegetables-worldwide/">largest producers</a> of fruit and vegetables. Essential to that success are pollinator species like the giant Asian honey bee. Unlike the managed European honey bee, these bees are predominantly wild and regularly resist humans and other animals eager to harvest their honey. Colonies can migrate over hundreds of kilometres within a year, pollinating a vast range of wild plants and crops across India.</p> <p>Researchers studied how this species was faring in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, where air pollution records have been <a href="https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/cover-story/you-think-delhi-is-polluted-bengalurus-pollution-levels-will-leave-you-breathless/articleshow/69065577.cms">reported as</a> some of the highest in the country. The giant Asian honey bees were observed and collected across four sites in the city over three years. Each had different standards of air pollution.</p> <p>The number of bees visiting flowers was significantly lower in the most polluted sites, possibly reducing how much plants in these places were pollinated. Bees from these sites died faster after capture, and, like houses in a dirty city, were partly covered in traces of arsenic and lead. They had arrhythmic heartbeats, fewer immune cells, and were more likely to show signs of stress.</p> <p>There are some caveats to consider, though. For one thing, areas with high pollution might have had fewer flowering plants, meaning bees were less likely to seek them out. Also, the researchers looked at the health of honey bees in parts of the city purely based on different levels of measured pollution. They couldn’t isolate the effect of the pollution with absolute certainty – there may have been hidden factors behind the unhealthy bees they uncovered.</p> <p>But, crucially, it wasn’t just bees that showed this trend. In a follow-up experiment, the study’s authors placed cages of fruit flies at the same sites. Just like the bees, the flies became coated in pollutants, died quicker where there was more air pollution, and showed higher levels of stress.</p> <p>The threat posed by pesticides is well known. But if air pollution is also affecting the health of a range of pollinating insects, what does that mean for ecosystems and food production?</p> <p><strong>Fewer cars, more flowers</strong></p> <p>Our diets would be severely limited if insects like honey bees were impaired in their pollinating duties, but the threat to entire ecosystems of losing these species is even more grave. Crop plants account for less than 0.1% of all flowering species, yet 85% of flowering plants are <a href="http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.464.6928&amp;rep=rep1&amp;type=pdf">pollinated by</a> bees and other species.</p> <p>Giant Asian honey bees like the ones in Bangalore form large, aggressive colonies that can move between urban, farmed and forest habitats. These journeys expose them to very different levels of pollution, but the colonies of most other types of wild bee species are stationary. They nest in soil, undergrowth or masonry, and individuals travel relatively short distances. The levels of pollution they’re regularly exposed to are unlikely to change very much from one day to the next, and it’s these species that are likely to suffer most if they live in towns or cities where local pollution is high.</p> <p>Thankfully, there are ways to fix this problem. Replacing cars with clean alternatives like electrified public transport would go a long way to reducing pollution. Creating more urban green spaces with lots of trees and other plants would help filter the air too, while providing new food sources and habitat for bees.</p> <p>In many parts of the UK, roadside verges have been <a href="https://theconversation.com/roadside-wildflower-meadows-are-springing-up-across-the-uk-and-theyre-helping-wildlife-in-a-big-way-120014">converted to wildflower meadows</a> in recent years. In doing so, are local authorities inadvertently attracting bees to areas we know may be harmful? We don’t know, but it’s worth pondering. From September 2020, Coventry University is launching a citizen science project with the nation’s beekeepers to map the presence of fine particulate matter in the air around colonies, to begin to unravel what’s happening to honey bees in the UK.</p> <p>Air pollution is likely to be one part of a complex problem. Bees are sensitive to lots of toxins, but how these interact in the wild is fiendishly difficult to disentangle. We know <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13592-014-0308-z">cocktails of pesticides</a> can cause real damage too. But what happens when bees are exposed to these at the same time as air pollution? We don’t yet know, but answers are urgently needed.</p> <p><em>Written by Barbara Smith and Mark Brown. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/air-pollution-could-be-making-honey-bees-sick-new-study-144155">The Conversation.</a></em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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Takeaway containers shape what (and how) we eat

<p>Home cooks have been trying out their skills during isolation. But the way food tastes depends on more than your ability to follow a recipe.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25713964/">surroundings</a>, <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/485781">the people</a> <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jpepsy/article/25/7/471/952605">we share food with</a> and the design of our tableware – our cups, bowls and plates, cutlery and containers – affect the way we experience food.</p> <p>For example, eating from a heavier bowl can make you feel food is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0950329311000966?via%3Dihub">more filling and tastes better</a> than eating from a lighter one.</p> <p>Contrast this with fast food, which is most commonly served in lightweight disposable containers, which encourages <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666312001754">fast eating</a>, <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f2907">underestimating</a> how much food you’re eating, and has even been linked to becoming <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23773044/">impatient</a>.</p> <p>These are just some examples of the vital, but largely unconscious, relationship between the design of our tableware – including size, shape, weight and colour – and how we eat.</p> <p>In design, this relationship is referred to as an object’s “<a href="https://jnd.org/affordances_and_design/">affordances</a>”. Affordances guide interactions between objects and people.</p> <p>As Australian sociologist <a href="https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/how-artifacts-afford">Jenny Davis writes</a>, affordances:</p> <p><em>…push, pull, enable, and constrain. Affordances are how objects shape behaviour for socially situated subjects.</em></p> <p>Designed objects don’t <em>make</em> us do things.</p> <p><strong>The colour of your crockery</strong></p> <p>When you visit a restaurant, the chances are your dinner will be served on a plain white plate.</p> <p>But French chef Sebastien Lepinoy has staff <a href="https://books.google.com.au/books?id=-5gCBAAAQBAJ&amp;pg=PT118&amp;lpg=PT118&amp;dq=Sebastien+Lepinoy+paint+plates&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=8jc3yBavYd&amp;sig=ACfU3U0jRwMOQtM_NmOspLXcyXp9SiVTuQ&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=2ahUKEwjqzNzj3MPpAhUOxjgGHQnvDlEQ6AEwCnoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&amp;q=Sebastien%20Lepinoy%20paint%20plates&amp;f=false">paint the plates</a> to match the daily menu and “entice the appetite”.</p> <p>Research seems to back him up. Coloured plates can enhance flavours to actually change the dining experience.</p> <p>In <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22128561">one study</a>, salted popcorn eaten from a coloured bowl tasted sweeter than popcorn eaten from a white bowl. In <a href="https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Does-the-colour-of-the-mug-influence-the-taste-of-Doorn-Wuillemin/476e322e1de2c705e8691e14c72c814fd79e5e09">another</a>, a café latte served in a coloured mug tasted sweeter than one in a white mug.</p> <p>This association between colour and taste seems to apply to people from Germany to China.</p> <p>A review of <a href="https://flavourjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13411-015-0033-1">multiple studies</a> conducted in many countries over 30 years finds people consistently associated particular colours with specific tastes.</p> <p>Red, orange or pink is most often associated with sweetness, black with bitterness, yellow or green with sourness, and white and blue with saltiness.</p> <p><strong>The size of your plate</strong></p> <p>The influence of plate size on meal portions depends on the dining experience and whether you are <a href="https://www.deakin.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/897365/DUBELAAR-JACR-Plate-Size-Meta-Analysis-Paper-2016.pdf">serving yourself</a>. In a buffet, for example, people armed with a small plate may eat more because they can go back for multiple helpings.</p> <p>Nonetheless, average plate and portion sizes have <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/apr/25/problem-portions-eating-too-much-food-control-cutting-down">increased</a> over the years. Back in her day, grandma used to serve meals on plates 25cm in diameter. Now, the average dinner plate is 28cm, and many restaurant dinner plates have expanded to <a href="https://www.nisbets.com.au/size-of-plates">30cm</a>.</p> <p>Our waistlines have also expanded. Research confirms we tend to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666311006064">eat more calories</a> when our plates are larger, because a larger capacity plate affords a greater portion size.</p> <p><strong>Plastic is too often ignored</strong></p> <p>The pace of our busy lives has led many people to rely on those handy takeaways in disposable plastic food containers just ready to pop into the microwave. And it’s tempting to use plastic cutlery and cups at barbecues, picnics and kids’ birthday parties.</p> <p>In contrast to heavy, fragile ceramic tableware, plastic tableware is <a href="https://discardstudies.com/2019/05/21/disposability/">designed to be ignored</a>. It is so lightweight, ubiquitous and cheap we don’t notice it and pay little mind to its disposal.</p> <p>Plastics have also changed how we eat and drink. An aversion to the strong smell of plastic containers that once might have caused people to <a href="https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/0747936042312066?journalCode=desi">wrap their sandwiches before placing them in Tupperware</a> seems to have disappeared. We drink hot coffee though plastic lids.</p> <p>Australian economic sociologist Gay Hawkins and her colleagues argue lightweight, plastic water bottles have created entirely new habits, such as “<a href="https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/ics/news/news_archive/2015/history_of_bottled_water_focus_of_new_book">constant sipping</a>” on the go. New products are then designed to fit and reinforce this habit.</p> <p><strong>Aesthetics matter</strong></p> <p>Healthy eating is not only characterised by what we eat but how we eat.</p> <p>For instance, eating mindfully – more thoughtfully and slowly by focusing on the experience of eating – can help you feel <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/why-eating-slowly-may-help-you-feel-full-faster-20101019605">full faster</a> and make a <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/351A3D01E43F49CC9794756BC950EFFC/S0954422417000154a.pdf/structured_literature_review_on_the_role_of_mindfulness_mindful_eating_and_intuitive_eating_in_changing_eating_behaviours_effectiveness_and_associated_potential_mechanisms.pdf">difference</a> to how we eat.</p> <p>And the Japanese cuisine <a href="https://guide.michelin.com/en/article/dining-out/kaiseki-cheatsheet-sg">Kaiseki</a> values this mindful, slower approach to eating. It consists of small portions of beautifully arranged food presented in a grouping of small, attractive, individual plates and bowls.</p> <p>This encourages the diner to eat more slowly and mindfully while appreciating not only the food but the variety and setting of the tableware.</p> <p>Japanese people’s slower eating practices even apply to “fast food”.</p> <p>One <a href="https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/00346651211277654/full/html">study</a> found Japanese people were more likely to eat in groups, to stay at fast food restaurants for longer and to share fast food, compared with their North American counterparts.</p> <p>Affordance theory is only now starting to account for <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0270467617714944">cultural diversity</a> in the ways in which designed objects shape practices and experiences.</p> <p>The studies we have reviewed show tableware influences how we eat. Size, shape, weight, colour and aesthetics all play a part in our experience of eating.</p> <p>This has wide implications for how we design for healthier eating – whether that’s to encourage eating well when we are out and about, or so we can better appreciate a tastier, healthier and more convivial meal at home.</p> <p><em>Written by Abby Mellick Lopes and Karen Weiss. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/plates-cups-and-takeaway-containers-shape-what-and-how-we-eat-137059">The Conversation</a>.</em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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120 million years ago: Giant crocodiles walked on two legs

<p>Fossilised footprints and tracks provide a direct record of how ancient animals moved. And some preserved behaviours leave us marvelling in disbelief.</p> <p>In research published today in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-66008-7">Scientific Reports</a>, my international team of colleagues and I detail our discovery of exquisitely preserved crocodile footprints, formed about 120 million years ago in what is now Sacheon, South Korea.</p> <p>These trace fossils reveal multiple crocodiles undertaking a very curious behaviour: bipedal walking, much like many dinosaurs.</p> <p>The ancient footprints uncovered resemble those made by humans, as they are long and slender, with a prominent heel impression. But they have additional features, including thick scaly imprints from the sole and toes that are comparatively long with broader impressions.</p> <p>The shape of these footprints compares very well with crocodile tracks known elsewhere, notably <em>Batrachopus</em> tracks from the Jurassic <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10420940490428832">found in the United States</a> – with “<em>Batrachopus</em>” being the name assigned to the tracks themselves.</p> <p>However, instead of being made by quadrupedal, cat-sized crocodiles, the Sacheon fossil tracks are large. With footprints that measure around 24 centimetres long, they come from animals with legs the same height as human legs and bodies more than three metres long.</p> <p><strong>A distant ancestor</strong></p> <p>Today, crocodiles walk on four legs in a wide, squat stance. The Sacheon crocodile trackways we discovered indicate a different pattern of movement. They do not have “handprints”, and the trackways are exceptionally narrow, as if the animals were making the footprints while balancing on a tightrope.</p> <p>This suggests these ancient crocodiles had their legs tucked beneath their body, much like a dinosaur, rather than assuming the typical sprawling posture seen in today’s crocodiles.</p> <p>The tracks could not have been made by dinosaurs. One clear difference between dinosaur and crocodile tracks is that crocodiles walk flat-footed, leaving a clear heel impression. Dinosaurs and their bird descendants walk high on their toes, with the heel off the ground.</p> <p><strong>The devil is in the detail</strong></p> <p>Fossil tracks can be found in many different states of preservation, ranging from excellent to comparatively indistinct. This can make it hard to accurately identify the animals that made them.</p> <p>Often, track sites are either not composed of sediments that help retain the finer features of tracks, or they erode after lengthy exposure to the elements.</p> <p>We know the Sacheon trackmakers were ancient crocodiles because the tracks have been preserved in extraordinary detail.</p> <p>This is due in part to fine, muddy sediment around an ancient lake that was able to hold the footprints while covered by sediment-laden water. Also, the site was freshly excavated for a new rural building development and hadn’t been exposed to erosion.</p> <p><strong>A helpful reference point</strong></p> <p>The perfectly preserved Sacheon tracks became our reference to reassess other unusual trackways that had been described in the area, but were more poorly preserved.</p> <p>Our attention focused on sites at Gain-ri and Adu Island just ten kilometres away from Sacheon, that had eroded trackways within the <a href="https://www.crd.bc.ca/education/our-environment/ecosystems/coastal-marine/intertidal-zone#:%7E:text=The%20intertidal%20zone%20is%20the,high%20and%20low%20tide%20lines.">intertidal zone</a>, between the low and high tide. These narrow trackways with long, slender footprints but no hand prints or tail drag marks echoed the Sacheon crocodile tracks.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10420940.2011.625779">decade earlier</a>, the footprints had been interpreted as made by another ancient animal known as a <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/11/pterosaurs-weirdest-wonders-on-wings/">pterosaur</a>. This ancient winged creature – related to dinosaurs but not officially classified as one – was famed for ruling the skies when dinosaurs ruled the land.</p> <p>Crocodiles and pterosaurs were quite distinct, being predominantly land and air dwellers, respectively. They had very differently shaped hands, but interestingly, the impressions they left with their feet can look very similar.</p> <p>When pterosaurs were on the ground, they typically walked on all fours, using their back feet and hands to support themselves as they moved, just like today’s crocodiles.</p> <p>However, as the “pterosaur” Gain-ri and Adu Island trackways lacked hand prints, they indicate bipedal walking. Thus, the tracks were wrongly ascribed to a pterosaur.</p> <p>When first discovered, pterosaur tracks were known to be very common in South Korea, while crocodile tracks were rare. In the absence of well-preserved footprints, the preferred interpretation was that these tracks were likely evidence of unusual behaviour of the pterosaur, a common trackmaker in the area.</p> <p>With the new evidence from the Sacheon site, it became possible to reevaluate the Gain-ri and Adu Island trackways too, which we now suspect were made by the same crocodile trackmakers strolling around Sacheon 120 million years ago.</p> <p><em>Written by Anthony Romilio. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/120-million-years-ago-giant-crocodiles-walked-on-two-legs-in-what-is-now-south-korea-140335">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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How captive animals are coping with the sudden emptiness of the world’s zoos and aquariums

<p>More than 700 million people visit zoos and aquariums each year <a href="https://www.waza.org/">worldwide</a>, so human visitors are usually a constant presence for the animals that live there. But the COVID-19 pandemic has forced these places to close to the public, plunging resident animals into an empty silence.</p> <p>Instead, zoos have been opening virtually during the lockdown, allowing people to see behind the closed doors from the comfort of their living rooms. Chester Zoo in the UK hosted an online tour so popular that it “<a href="https://www.cheshire-live.co.uk/whats-on/family-kids-news/relive-chester-zoos-first-ever-18006186">broke the internet when it went viral</a>” according to one zookeeper, with hundreds of thousands of people worldwide flocking to the zoo’s Facebook page.</p> <p>Zoo workers have described how animals are greeting the isolation during COVID-19 closures. One zoo in India reported that animals were “<a href="https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/call-of-the-wild-quiet-brings-out-animal-instincts-at-zoo/articleshow/75665638.cms">loving the quiet spell</a>” – foxes were “frolicking around”, the hippopotamus was happily splashing in its pool and even the tigers were enjoying a dip. In other zoos, animals seem to be <a href="https://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/local-news/animals-twycross-zoo-are-missing-4119435">missing people</a>. Twycross Zoo’s curator reported primates looking for zoo visitors, for instance.</p> <p>Some zoo animals are forgetting all about their previous lives, with garden eels at one Japanese aquarium hiding when staff members approached their enclosure. Workers have asked the public to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/01/japanese-aquarium-urges-public-to-video-chat-eels-who-are-forgetting-humans-exist">make video calls to their eels</a>, to try and prevent them from seeing visitors as a threat when the aquarium reopens. Meanwhile, some animals are enjoying the freedom of daily zoo walks, like the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVfTGFBJ8a8">penguins at the Shedd Aquarium</a> in Chicago, which were let out to wander the empty halls and look into the other enclosures.</p> <p>Is this reprieve from regular visitors healthy for zoo animals? And how will they respond to people suddenly flooding back once zoos reopen? Researchers and animal charities are worried that our pets will develop <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/dogs-trust-separation-anxiety-pets-coronavirus-lockdown-a9477541.html">separation anxiety once their owners return to work</a>. The opposite might happen among zoo animals. Will captive creatures be desperate for the public to return or have they adapted to a slower, quieter life?</p> <p><strong>When zoos reopen</strong></p> <p>As zoos that have closed for months <a href="https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/coronavirus-lockdown-europe-austria-pools-zoos-opened-a4426021.html">reopen their doors</a>, we have an opportunity to study how visitors influence the lives of zoo animals. While we can’t predict the future, previous research on how zoo animals have responded to changes in visitor schedules might give us some idea of what to expect.</p> <p>During the night, zoo animals are used to relative peace and quiet. For many, beyond the odd security warden, there are no visitors. But before COVID-19, some zoos did open their doors outside of normal opening hours, for <a href="https://www.colchester-zoo.com/event/starlight-safari-night-2/">late-night tours</a> and <a href="https://twycrosszoo.org/events/twycross-zoo-safari-sleepover-camping-experience/">overnight camps</a>.</p> <p>Typically, we study animal behaviours to understand how they may be feeling and try to make judgements about their experiences. From that, we can say that zoo animals have tended to show mixed responses to evening events. A <a href="http://www.rhinoresourcecenter.com/pdf_files/142/1422582743.pdf">study</a> at a zoo in Germany found that elephants sought comfort from others in their herd during an evening firework display, but they didn’t retreat into their indoor enclosures. <a href="https://www.hindawi.com/journals/vmi/2017/6585380/">Researchers</a> at London Zoo noticed no changes in the behaviour of lions during sunset safaris, on evenings when the zoo was open for visitors until 10pm, compared to their behaviour during normal opening hours.</p> <p>Across the board, changes in the usual routines of zoo animals affect different species in different ways. The quiet caused by vanished visitors might mean more animals performing attention-seeking behaviours to try and interact with visitors more than normal, as keepers have reported chimpanzees doing <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/US/life-covid-19-animals-zookeepers-maryland-zoo/story?id=70422788">during lockdown</a>, as they reach out towards workers who would usually feed them by hand. It may also cause them to be overly skittish to human visitors when they return, like the garden eels in Japan.</p> <p>This is the longest time many zoo animals will have gone without the public, and zoo staff will have to help them transition back to normal life. Most zoos are planning <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-52493750">phased reopenings</a> of animal houses to prevent the sudden changes in noise disturbing the animals.</p> <p>Some animals, especially those born during the COVID-19 lockdown, will never have experienced life in the public eye. Many up-close animal encounters <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-zoos-must-change-to-keep-great-apes-safe-from-coronavirus-134692">will have to change</a>, particularly as <a href="https://theconversation.com/transmission-of-diseases-from-humans-to-apes-why-extra-vigilance-is-now-needed-134083">humans can transmit coronaviruses to great apes</a> in captivity.</p> <p>On your next visit, <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-behave-at-a-zoo-according-to-science-73873">be cool, calm and collected</a>. Keepers and other zoo staff will be on hand to guide you, helping enforce social distancing and supporting you on how best to behave around the animals. Your local zoo will need visitors more than ever when they reopen. But remember, zoo animals will be experiencing their own post lockdown fuzz, and, just like you, they may need time to adjust.</p> <p><em>Written by Ellen Williams and Jessica Rendle. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-captive-animals-are-coping-with-the-sudden-emptiness-of-the-worlds-zoos-and-aquariums-138668">The Conversation.</a> </em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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A trans-Tasman bubble is an opportunity for Australia and NZ to reduce dependence on China

<p>When it comes to our economic over-reliance on China, New Zealand consumers need look no further than their most popular big box chain, The Warehouse. The familiar “big red shed” sourced about 60% of its home brand stock from China in 2017 – and a further NZ$62 million in products directly through offices in China, India and Bangladesh in 2019.</p> <p>In Australia, many major chain stores as well as online retail giant <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/retail/kogan-com-braces-for-coronavirus-threat-after-mixed-first-half-20200217-p541fu">kogan.com</a> are in a similar position. Reliant on China for much of what they sell, including exclusive home-brand items, they are part of what has been described as the world’s <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-02-26/coronavirus-impact-hits-australia-most-china-reliant-economy">most China-reliant economy</a>.</p> <p>The COVID-19 crisis has thrown Australian and New Zealand businesses’ dependence on China into stark relief. With countries reportedly competing with and undercutting each other to secure desperately needed medical supplies from China, many are now waking up to their economic exposure to a single manufacturing giant.</p> <p>Understandably, discussions about creating a <a href="https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/prime-ministers-jacinda-ardern-and-scott-morrison-announce-plans-trans-tasman-covid-safe">“trans-Tasman bubble”</a> between Australia and New Zealand have focused on kick-starting economic activity in the short term, particularly through tourism. But both countries also need to take a longer-term view of boosting economic activity – including through increased manufacturing and trade integration.</p> <p>The statistics support this. In 2018, 20% of global trade in the manufacturing of “intermediate” products (which need further processing before sale) <a href="https://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/ditcinf2020d1.pdf">came from China</a>. Chinese manufacturing (including goods made from components made in China) also <a href="https://blog.euromonitor.com/coronavirus-impact-on-global-supply-chains/">accounted for</a>:</p> <ul> <li>35% of household goods</li> <li>46% of hi-tech goods</li> <li>54% of textiles and apparel</li> <li>38% of machinery, rubber and plastic</li> <li>20% of pharmaceuticals and medical goods</li> <li>42% of chemical products.</li> </ul> <p>Australia and New Zealand are no exception, with China the number one trading partner of both. Australia <a href="https://www.dfat.gov.au/">earned</a> 32.6% of its export income from China in 2019, mostly from natural resource products such as iron ores, coal and natural gas, as well as education and tourism.</p> <p>From New Zealand, 23% of <a href="https://www.stats.govt.nz/news/china-top-trade-partner-for-2019">exports</a> (worth NZ$20 billion) went to China in 2019, and much of the country’s manufacturing has moved to China over the past 20 years. The China factor in New Zealand supply chains is also <a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/119598635/coronavirus-delivery-delays-from-chinese-are-hurting-kiwi-businesses">crucial</a>, with a fifth of exports containing Chinese components.</p> <p><strong>Supply shortages from China</strong></p> <p>The world is now paying a price for this dependence on China. Since the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020 there has been volatility in the supply of products ranging from cars and Apple phones to food ingredients and hand sanitiser packaging.</p> <p>More worryingly, availability of popular over-the-counter painkiller paracetamol was <a href="https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/411131/coronavirus-pharmac-to-limit-paracetamol-due-to-chinese-factory-closures">restricted</a> due to Chinese factory closures. This is part of a <a href="https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/australia-dangerously-dependent-on-medical-imports-20200217-p541ej">bigger picture</a> that shows Australia now importing over 90% of medicines and New Zealand <a href="https://tradingeconomics.com/new-zealand/imports/pharmaceutical-products">importing</a> close to NZ$1.59 billion in pharmaceutical products in 2019. Overall, both countries are <a href="https://sldinfo.com/2020/03/australias-medicine-supply-chain-is-vulnerable/">extremely vulnerable</a> to major supply chain disruptions of medical products.</p> <p>For all these reasons, a cooperative trans-Tasman manufacturing strategy should be on the table right now and in any future bilateral trade policy conversations.</p> <p><strong>Opportunities for Australia and NZ</strong></p> <p>Rather than each country focusing on product specialisation or setting industrial priorities in isolation, the two economies need to discuss how best to pool resources, add value and enhance the competitive advantage of strategic industries in the region as a whole.</p> <p>Currently, trans-Tasman trade primarily involves natural resources and foodstuffs flowing from New Zealand to Australia, with motor vehicles, machinery and mechanical equipment flowing the other way. Manufacturing is skewed towards Australia, but closer regional integration would mean increased flows of capital, components and finished products between the countries. We have seen this already in the primary and service sectors but not much in the manufacturing sector, especially from New Zealand to Australia.</p> <p>Medical technologies and telecommunications equipment manufacturing (both critical during the pandemic) stand out as potential new areas of economic integration. In that sense, it was heartening to see major medical tech companies such as <a href="https://www.resmed.com.au/about-us/the-resmed-story">Res-Med Australia</a> and <a href="https://www.fphcare.com/nz/our-company/">Fisher &amp; Paykel Healthcare</a> in New Zealand rapidly <a href="https://www.fairfieldchampion.com.au/story/6705551/private-hospitals-join-coronavirus-fight/?cs=9397">scale up</a> their production capacities to build respiratory devices, ventilators, and other personal protective equipment products.</p> <p>These brands enjoy a global technology edge, smart niche positioning and reputations for innovation. We need more of these inside a trans-Tasman trade and manufacturing bubble.</p> <p><strong>China still vital but balance is crucial</strong></p> <p>Key to successful regional integration will be the pooling of research and development (R&amp;D) resources, mutual direct investment, subsidising R&amp;D and manufacturing in emerging markets with profits from another (such as China), and value-adding specialisation in the supply chain. For example, Tait Communication in New Zealand recently <a href="https://www.taitradio.com/about-us/news/2011/tait-strengthens-customer-support-in-australia-with-new-facility">invested</a> in a new facility based in one of Australia’s largest science, technology and research centres.</p> <p>Together, we can make a bigger pie.</p> <p>None of this means cutting ties with China, which will remain the main importer of primary produce and food products from Australasia for the foreseeable future. And Chinese exports will still be vital. Fisher &amp; Paykel Healthcare sells its products in about 120 countries, for example, but some of its key raw materials suppliers are Chinese.</p> <p>Getting this dynamic balancing right will be key to Australia and New Zealand prospering in the inevitably uncertain – even divided – post-pandemic global business environment. And you never know, maybe one day we’ll see a “made in Australia and New Zealand” label in the aisles of The Warehouse and Bunnings.</p> <p><em>Written by Hongzhi Gao and Monica Ren. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/beyond-travel-a-trans-tasman-bubble-is-an-opportunity-for-australia-and-nz-to-reduce-dependence-on-china-137062">The Conversation.</a></em></p>

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6 countries with 6 curves: How nations that moved fast against COVID-19 avoided disaster

<p>To understand the spread of COVID-19, the pandemic is more usefully viewed as a series of distinct local epidemics. The way the virus has spread in different countries, and even in particular states or regions within them, has been quite varied.</p> <p>A New Zealand <a href="https://www.tepunahamatatini.ac.nz/2020/04/22/effect-of-alert-level-4-measures-on-covid-19-transmission/">study</a> has mapped the coronavirus epidemic curve for 25 countries and modelled how the spread of the virus has changed in response to the various lockdown measures.</p> <p>The research, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, classifies each country’s public health response using New Zealand’s <a href="https://covid19.govt.nz/alert-system/covid-19-alert-system/">four-level alert system</a>. Levels 1 and 2 represent relatively relaxed controls, whereas levels 3 and 4 are stricter.</p> <p>By mapping the change in the <strong>effective reproduction number</strong> (R<sub>eff</sub>, an indicator of the actual spread of the virus in the community) against response measures, the research shows countries that implemented level 3 and 4 restrictions sooner had greater success in pushing R<sub>eff</sub> to below 1.</p> <p>An R<sub>eff</sub> of less than 1 means each infected person spreads the virus to less than one other person, on average. By keeping R<sub>eff</sub> below 1, the number of new infections will fall and the virus will ultimately disappear from the community.</p> <p><strong>Italy</strong></p> <p>Italy was relatively slow to respond to the epidemic, and experienced a high R<sub>eff</sub> for many weeks. This led to an explosion of cases which overwhelmed the health system, particularly in the country’s north. This was followed by some of the strictest public health control measures in Europe, which has finally seen the R<sub>eff</sub> fall to below 1.</p> <p>Unfortunately, the time lag has cost many lives. Italy’s death toll of over 27,000 serves as a warning of what can happen if the virus is allowed to spread unchecked, even if strict measures are brought in later.</p> <p><strong>United Kingdom</strong></p> <p>The UK’s initial response to COVID-19 was characterised by a series of missteps. The government prevaricated while it considered pursuing a controversial “herd immunity” strategy, before finally ordering an Italy-style lockdown to regain control over the virus’s transmission.</p> <p>As in Italy, the result was an initial surge in case numbers, a belatedly successful effort to bring R<sub>eff</sub> below 1, and a huge death toll of over 20,000 to date.</p> <p><strong>New York, USA</strong></p> <p>New York City, with its field hospital in Central Park resembling a scene from a disaster movie, is another testament to the power of uncontrolled virus spread to overwhelm the health system.</p> <p>Its R<sub>eff</sub> peaked at a staggeringly high value of 8, before the city slammed on the brakes and went into complete lockdown. It took a protracted battle to finally bring the R<sub>eff</sub> below 1. Perhaps more than any other city, New York will feel the economic shock of this epidemic for many years to come.</p> <p><strong>Sweden</strong></p> <p>Sweden has taken a markedly relaxed approach to its public health response. Barring a few minor restrictions, the country remains more or less open as usual, and the focus has been on individuals to take personal responsibility for controlling the virus through social distancing.</p> <p>This is understandably contentious, and the number of cases and deaths in Sweden are far higher than its neighbouring countries. But R<sub>eff</sub> indicates that the curve is flattening.</p> <p><strong>Singapore</strong></p> <p>Singapore is a lesson on why you can’t ever relax when it comes to coronavirus. It was hailed as an early success story in bringing the virus to heel, through extensive testing, effective contact tracing and strict quarantining, with no need for a full lockdown.</p> <p>But the virus has bounced back. Infection clusters originating among migrant workers has prompted tighter restrictions. The R<sub>eff</sub> currently sits at around 2, and Singapore still has a lot of work to do to bring it down.</p> <p>Individually, these graphs each tell their own story. Together, they have one clear message: places that moved quickly to implement strict interventions brought the coronavirus under control much more effectively, with less death and disease.</p> <p>And our final example, Singapore, adds an important coda: the situation can change rapidly, and there is no room for complacency.</p> <p><em>Written by Hassan Vally. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/6-countries-6-curves-how-nations-that-moved-fast-against-covid-19-avoided-disaster-137333">The Conversation.</a> </em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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We just spent two weeks surveying the Great Barrier Reef – What we saw was an utter tragedy

<p>The Australian summer just gone will be remembered as the moment when human-caused climate change struck hard. First came drought, then deadly bushfires, and now a bout of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef – the third in just five years. Tragically, the 2020 bleaching is severe and the most widespread we have ever recorded.</p> <p>Coral bleaching at regional scales is caused by spikes in sea temperatures during unusually hot summers. The first recorded mass bleaching event along Great Barrier Reef occurred in 1998, then the <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/archive/media99.shtml">hottest year on record</a>.</p> <p>Since then we’ve seen four more mass bleaching events – and more temperature records broken – in 2002, 2016, 2017, and again in 2020.</p> <p>This year, February had the<a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-15/cyclone-great-barrier-reef-bleaching-record-seas-temperatures/12050102"> highest monthly sea surface temperatures</a> ever recorded on the Great Barrier Reef since the Bureau of Meteorology’s records began in 1900.</p> <p><strong>Not a pretty picture</strong></p> <p>We surveyed 1,036 reefs from the air during the last two weeks in March, to measure the extent and severity of coral bleaching throughout the Great Barrier Reef region. Two observers, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, scored each reef visually, repeating the same procedures developed during early bleaching events.</p> <p>The accuracy of the aerial scores <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nature21707?dom=icopyright&amp;src=">is verified</a> by underwater surveys on reefs that are lightly and heavily bleached. While underwater, we also measure how bleaching changes between shallow and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-05741-0">deeper reefs</a>.</p> <p>Of the reefs we surveyed from the air, 39.8% had little or no bleaching (the green reefs in the map). However, 25.1% of reefs were severely affected (red reefs) – that is, on each reef more than 60% of corals were bleached. A further 35% had more modest levels of bleaching.</p> <p>Bleaching isn’t necessarily fatal for coral, and it affects <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-much-coral-has-died-in-the-great-barrier-reefs-worst-bleaching-event-69494">some species more than others</a>. A pale or lightly bleached coral typically regains its colour within a few weeks or months and survives.</p> <p>But when bleaching is severe, many corals die. In 2016, half of the shallow water corals died on the northern region of the Great Barrier Reef <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0041-2">between March and November</a>. Later this year, we’ll go underwater to assess the losses of corals during this most recent event.</p> <p>Compared to the four previous bleaching events, there are fewer unbleached or lightly bleached reefs in 2020 than in 1998, 2002 and 2017, but more than in 2016. Similarly, the proportion of severely bleached reefs in 2020 is exceeded only by 2016. By both of these metrics, 2020 is the second-worst mass bleaching event of the five experienced by the Great Barrier Reef since 1998.</p> <p>The unbleached and lightly bleached (green) reefs in 2020 are predominantly offshore, mostly close to the edge of the continental shelf in the northern and southern Great Barrier Reef. However, offshore reefs in the central region were severely bleached again. Coastal reefs are also badly bleached at almost all locations, stretching from the Torres Strait in the north to the southern boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.</p> <p>For the first time, severe bleaching has struck all three regions of the Great Barrier Reef – the northern, central and now large parts of the southern sectors. The north was the worst affected region in 2016, followed by the centre in 2017.</p> <p>In 2020, the cumulative footprint of bleaching has expanded further, to include the south. The distinctive footprint of each bleaching event closely matches the location of <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nature21707?dom=icopyright&amp;src=">hotter and cooler conditions in different years</a>.</p> <p><strong>Poor prognosis</strong></p> <p>Of the five mass bleaching events we’ve seen so far, only 1998 and 2016 occurred during <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/updates/articles/a008-el-nino-and-australia.shtml">an El Niño</a> – a weather pattern that spurs warmer air temperatures in Australia.</p> <p>But as summers grow hotter under climate change, we no longer need an El Niño to trigger mass bleaching at the scale of the Great Barrier Reef. We’ve already seen the first example of back-to-back bleaching, in the consecutive summers of 2016 and 2017. The gap between recurrent bleaching events is shrinking, hindering a full recovery.</p> <p>After five bleaching events, the number of reefs that have escaped severe bleaching continues to dwindle. Those reefs are located offshore, in the far north and in remote parts of the south.</p> <p>The Great Barrier Reef will continue to lose corals from heat stress, until global emissions of greenhouse gasses are reduced to net zero, and sea temperatures stabilise. Without urgent action to achieve this outcome, it’s clear our coral reefs will not survive business-as-usual emissions.</p> <p><em>Written by Terry Hughes and Morgan Pratchett. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-just-spent-two-weeks-surveying-the-great-barrier-reef-what-we-saw-was-an-utter-tragedy-135197">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Some infant formula milks contain more sugar than soda drinks new research reveals

<p>Some formula milks have double the sugar per serving than a <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-35831125">glass of soda</a>. That was the key finding of our <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41415-020-1252-0">global investigation</a> into the sugar content of infant formula and follow-on milks. But perhaps more shocking is the fact that there are so few regulations in place to control sugar content and to make sure consumers are well informed.</p> <p>We all love sugar. But too much of the sweet stuff can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5133084/">dental disease</a>. Our preference for sugary foods stems from our primitive ancestors, who were scavengers and sought out sweet foods for energy. But if we are hardwired to like sweet foods, being fed lots of sugar as babies can increase our <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3738223/">desire for sweet things</a> and increase the risk of developing disease in later life.</p> <p>Breast milk is <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4882692/">the recommended</a> source of nutrition for infants, especially during the first six months of life. Although it is sweet and high in energy, the sugar is mainly lactose and the content is specific to the needs of the growing infant. Conversely, infant formula milks have a standardised make-up and contain added sugars such as corn syrup which are added during production and are not found in breast milk. This is bad for babies because high consumption of added sugars <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212267219313401?via%3Dihub">may contribute</a> to tooth decay, poor diet and lead to obesity in children.</p> <p>We investigated the sugar content of 212 commercially available infant formula milk products targeted at infants under three. The products were being sold in supermarkets in 11 countries. We collected data on sugar content from nutrition labels and compared it to average breast milk compositions and sugar content guidelines. We also noted the clarity of the labels and the marketing strategies used on the packaging.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41415-020-1252-0">Our findings</a> revealed that over half of the products contained more than 5g of sugar per 100ml. In many cases, the sugar content was over 7.5g per 100ml, which exceeds <a href="http://www.babymilkaction.org/archives/8274">European parliament</a> recommended levels for infants. For example, we found that a powdered product for infants under six months sold in France contained 8.2g of sugar per 100ml, or nearly two teaspoons, while a ready-to-drink milk formula for infants under 12 months sold in the UK contained 8.1g of sugar per 100ml.</p> <p>This comes at a time when sugar-sweetened beverages have been subject to widespread taxation to reduce their sugar content due to <a href="https://www.wcrf.org/sites/default/files/PPA-Building-Momentum-Report-WEB.pdf">negative impacts on health</a>. As a result, many formula products included in our study contained almost double the sugar of well known drinks such as <a href="https://www.coca-cola.co.uk/drinks/fanta/fanta-orange">Fanta Orange</a>.</p> <p><strong>Nutritional information</strong></p> <p>Obtaining information from the labels of these formula products was difficult as the fonts used were small and the facts provided varied between countries. For example, some products listed sugar content per 100g while others listed it per 100kcal. This is despite <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2007/3521/regulation/18/made">guidelines</a>, such as those in the UK, which state that values should be expressed as kJ/kcal per 100ml.</p> <p>There are also <a href="https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/baby-friendly-resources/international-code-marketing-breastmilk-substitutes-resources/the-code/">codes</a> in place to limit the marketing of infant formula products because they are not the best way to feed a growing baby. But most of these are voluntary codes of practice which manufacturers do not have to abide by.</p> <p>Even guidelines which are enforced by law can be side-stepped by manufacturers, since they are <a href="https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/content/dam/gb/reports/health/dont-push-it.pdf">not strictly monitored</a> and have loopholes. In some cases, manufacturers themselves have even influenced their development.</p> <p><a href="https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/content/dam/gb/reports/health/dont-push-it.pdf">For example</a>it was revealed that the industry has funded research into infant health and has given doctors free formula products. This almost certainly helps ensure that their sale is affected as little as possible by such guidelines. It is possible that the sale of infant formula products has increased worldwide as a result.</p> <p>The World Health Organization’s <a href="https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/baby-friendly-resources/international-code-marketing-breastmilk-substitutes-resources/the-code/">International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes</a> stipulates that infant formula products should not be promoted over breastfeeding. <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2007/3521/regulation/17/made">In the UK</a> the guidelines state that the labels on products targeted at infants under six months should not include images of infants or any other pictures that idealise their use.</p> <p>But we found that many of the formulas had labels that included images of infants or cute toys of animals, presumably designed to entice caregivers into buying. Such findings are not unsurprising as there is evidence that <a href="http://www.babymilkaction.org/monitoring-global">harmful marketing strategies</a> have been used extensively by infant formula and follow-on milk manufacturers.</p> <p><strong>Recommendations</strong></p> <p>Our findings are alarming, as is the potential negative impact of the high sugar content on the health of babies. We urge parents and caregivers to opt for breast milk whenever possible. However, to help those families unable to breastfeed their babies, we also have two key recommendations for policymakers:</p> <p>1) Regulate the amount and type of sugar in infant formula products as a matter of urgency. Encourage manufacturers to aim for formulations as close to breast milk as possible. Such regulations could be conducted in a similar way to the taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages which have been <a href="https://www.worldobesity.org/resources/policy-dossiers/pd-1/case-studies">implemented across the world</a>.</p> <p>2) We are also calling for the mandatory disclosure of added sugar by manufacturers and suggest that this could be implemented alongside the introduction of a clear front-of-pack labelling system. Such disclosures and clear labelling could aid consumers to make informed choices about what products they purchase.</p> <p><em>Written by Gemma Bridge. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/some-infant-formula-milks-contain-more-sugar-than-soda-drinks-new-research-129655"><em>The Conversation.</em></a></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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Billions are pouring into mobility technology – will the transport revolution live up to the hype?

<p>Over the past decade almost <a href="https://files.pitchbook.com/website/files/pdf/PitchBook_Q4_2019_Emerging_Tech_Research_Mobility_Tech_Executive_Summary.pdf">US$200 billion</a> has been invested globally in mobility technology that promises to improve our ability to get around. More than US$33 billion was invested last year alone. Another measure of interest in this area is the <a href="https://travelandmobility.tech/lists/unicorns/">number of unicorns</a>, which has doubled in the past two years.</p> <p>A unicorn is a privately held startup company valued at US$1 billion or more. In early 2018 there were 22 travel and mobility unicorns. By last month the number had grown to 44.</p> <p>The top categories in the mobility area are: ride hailing, with 11 unicorns (25.0%); autonomous vehicles, with ten (22.7%); and micromobility, with three (6.8%). The remaining 20 unicorns are in the travel category (hotels, bookings and so on).</p> <p>Mobility technology is more than just autonomous vehicles, ride hailing and e-scooters and e-bikes. It also includes: electrification (electric vehicles, charging/batteries); fleet management and connectivity (connectivity, data management, cybersecurity, parking, fleet management); auto commerce (car sharing); transportation logistics (freight, last-mile delivery); and urban air mobility.</p> <p><strong>Promised solutions, emerging problems</strong></p> <p>Much of the interest in mobility technology is coming from individuals outside the transport arena. Startups are attracting investors by claiming their technology will solve many of our transport problems.</p> <p>Micromobility companies believe their e-scooters and e-bikes will solve the “<a href="https://ascelibrary.org/doi/abs/10.1061/9780784413210.007">first-mile last-mile</a>” problem by enabling people to move quickly and easily between their homes or workplaces and a bus or rail station. While this might work in theory, it depends on having <a href="https://theconversation.com/fork-in-the-road-as-danish-and-dutch-style-cycle-routes-spread-19744">safe and segregated bicycle networks</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/people-love-the-idea-of-20-minute-neighbourhoods-so-why-isnt-it-top-of-the-agenda-131193">frequent and widely accessible public transport</a> services.</p> <p>Ride-hailing services might relieve people of the need to own a car. But <a href="https://www.som.com/ideas/publications/som_thinkers_the_future_of_transportation">there is evidence</a> to suggest these services are <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-ride-hail-utopia-that-got-stuck-in-traffic-11581742802">adding to traffic congestion</a>. That’s because, unlike taxis, more of their time on the road involves travelling without any passengers.</p> <p>Navigation tools (Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze) have <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Maps">been around longer</a> than most other mobility technologies and are meant make it easier to find the least-congested route for any given trip. However, <a href="https://people.eecs.berkeley.edu/~theophile/docs/publications/Cabannes_19_ACM.pdf">research</a> suggests these tools might not be working as intended. The <a href="https://www.som.com/ideas/publications/som_thinkers_the_future_of_transportation">backlash</a> against them is growing in some cities because traffic is being directed onto neighbourhood streets rather than arterial roads.</p> <p>Autonomous vehicles have the goal of reducing injuries and deaths from car crashes. Only a few years ago many bold predictions were being made that these self-driving vehicles would be having positive impacts by now, but this hasn’t happened. The enthusiasm for autonomous vehicles has cooled. <a href="https://www.vtpi.org/avip.pdf">Some now believe</a> we won’t see many of the social benefits for decades.</p> <p>The final mobility tech area is known as mobility as a service (<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobility_as_a_service">MAAS</a>). It’s basically a platform designed to make better use of existing infrastructure and transport modes. MAAS begins with a journey planner that is linked to one-stop payment for a range of mobility services – ride-hailing, e-scooters, e-bikes, taxis, public transport, and so on.</p> <p>MAAS is the newest entrant in the mobility tech field. It has attracted US$6.8 billion to date, but is expected to grow to <a href="https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/mobility-as-a-service-market-78519888.html">over US$100 billion by 2030</a>. This idea is creating great enthusiasm, not only among private entrepreneurs, but also in the public sector. It’s too early to know whether it will improve transportation.</p> <p><strong>3 trends are driving investment</strong></p> <p>So, why do venture capitalists <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnfrazer1/2019/03/11/new-mobility-worth-billions-venture-capital-thinks-so/#198cda2247d8">continue to show so much interest</a> in mobility technology startups despite poor company performance to date? It appears they believe personal mobility will become increasingly important. <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnfrazer1/2019/03/11/new-mobility-worth-billions-venture-capital-thinks-so/#198cda2247d8">Three trends</a>support this belief.</p> <p>First, urban dwellers increasingly value the ability to move around easily. It’s thought to be a key ingredient for a liveable city. The problem is public transport is often not very good, particularly in the US and in outer suburbs in Australia.</p> <p>This is due to historically low funding relative to roads. The prospect of more funding and better public transport services in the future is not good. In part that’s because many <a href="https://www.vox.com/2015/8/10/9118199/public-transportation-subway-buses">view public transport as welfare</a> and not an essential public service. Thus, if cities want to become more liveable and competitive, they must look beyond government-funded public transport for other mobility alternatives.</p> <p>The second trend is declining vehicle ownership. Since 1986 US sales of car and light trucks per capita have dropped by <a href="https://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/2020/02/04/vehicle-sales-per-capita-our-latest-look-at-the-long-term-trendh">almost 30%</a>. In Australia, new car sales <a href="https://www.budgetdirect.com.au/car-insurance/research/australian-car-sales-statistics.html">remained relatively constant</a> over the past decade, but a <a href="http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/7982-new-vehicle-purchase-intention-march-2019-201905240039">decline since 2017 is expected to continue</a>. These trends are due in part to the cost of owning a vehicle, but also because of a growing view that owning a car may not be necessary.</p> <p>This brings us to the third trend, which involves demographics and the <a href="https://theconversation.com/delay-in-getting-driving-licences-opens-door-to-more-sustainable-travel-57430">post-millennial desire for access to mobility</a> services <a href="https://theconversation.com/car-ownership-is-likely-to-become-a-thing-of-the-past-and-so-could-public-transport-110550">rather than vehicle ownership</a>.</p> <p>These trends, combined with expectations of an upward trend in prices of these services, suggests there may be good times ahead for ride-hailing and micromobility companies. It also means venture capital funding for these startups will not be diminishing in the near future.</p> <p><strong>The future of transport isn’t simple</strong></p> <p>Transport systems are multifaceted. No one single app or technology will solve the challenges. And, as we are discovering, some of the purported solutions to problems might actually be making the situation worse.</p> <p>If the goal is to get people out of their cars (for <a href="https://theconversation.com/designing-suburbs-to-cut-car-use-closes-gaps-in-health-and-wealth-83961">better health and quality of life and a better environment</a>), this will require more than a technology. Better infrastructure and public policies (including better integration of land uses and transport to reduce the need for transport) will be required – <a href="https://theconversation.com/three-charts-on-why-congestion-charging-is-fairer-than-you-might-think-124894">congestion pricing</a>being one of those.</p> <p>That is not to say technological innovations are not welcome as part of the solution, but they are just that … “part” of the solution.</p> <p><em>Written by Neil G Sipe. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/billions-are-pouring-into-mobility-technology-will-the-transport-revolution-live-up-to-the-hype-131154"><em>The Conversation.</em></a></p>

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It was a very good year - but which Best Picture nominee will win an Oscar?

<p>Last year was an exceptional year for Hollywood cinema, and this is reflected in the Oscar nominees for Best Picture.</p> <p>The Oscars often celebrate the middlebrow and polite over the exceptional and avant garde, resulting in many extraordinary films missing out on the accolades. In 2018, it was Luca Guadagnino’s striking <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1034415/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0">Suspiria</a> that received zero nominations.</p> <p>Contrary to form, four of this year’s nominees could have been deserved winners other years. Even more refreshing is the radical difference between these films – from bourgeois social realist drama <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7653254/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">Marriage Story</a> to anarchic black comedy <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7286456/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">Joker</a>.</p> <p><strong>Close runner-up: Joker</strong></p> <p>Joker proves that Todd Phillips, whose early career, from <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1539993/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">Hated</a> to <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0302886/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">Old School</a>showed comedic promise, is finally making funny movies again.</p> <p>After a poignant first half hour, the film breezes into (black) comedy mode, as we watch Joaquin Phoenix’s down-on-his-luck comedian Arthur Fleck become progressively more deranged. Phillips presents some genuinely hilarious tableaux.</p> <p>Joker moves poignant tale to black comedy with ease.</p> <p>Fitting for a movie about self-important Batman’s arch-nemesis, the whole thing is wonderfully absurd. Phoenix proves once again that he is the master of flawed characters who, while taking themselves seriously, are pathetically funny.</p> <p>Joker reveals the contradictions of our political present — collective meaning-making transformed into individualised, identity-based fantasy. Phoenix’s Joker – forgotten by a broken welfare system — shows mass disenfranchisement can only be made sense of as its apolitical other: individual bursts of aimless violence.</p> <p>Joker is a thoroughly amoral film. It presents a world of vital (and violent) negativity without offering the usual Hollywood moral bandaid.</p> <p><strong>Exquisitely simple: Marriage Story</strong></p> <p>Noah Baumbach’s Netflix film is similarly peppered with bursts of humour, but its approach is naturalistic.</p> <p>Unlike some of Baumbach’s earlier films (see <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0367089/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">The Squid and the Whale</a> and <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1234654/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">Greenberg</a>), this has a decisive quality to it.</p> <p>Scarlett Johansson deserves the Best Actress award for her performance in Marriage Story.</p> <p>A simple narrative – a couple with a child undergoes a divorce – anchors an unbelievably compelling performance from Scarlet Johansson. It would be a great injustice if she did not win the Best Actress Oscar. Laura Dern and Ray Liotta are also brilliant as a couple of combative divorce attorneys.</p> <p>The film is technically flawless in its construction, with the camera, editing, and score tending towards invisibility.</p> <p>The final moment between the pair, involving a trivial daily act, epitomises the film as a whole – simple, beautiful, funny and emotionally devastating.</p> <p><strong>Long but worthy: The Irishman</strong></p> <p>Martin Scorsese’s true crime yarn The Irishman, also made for Netflix, demands a more complex process of critical evaluation.</p> <p>Some of it is awe-inspiring – Joe Pesci’s performance as ageing gangster Russell Buffalino is one of its highlights. Robert De Niro’s subtle brilliance as Frank Sheeran is epitomised in a sequence towards the end of the film in which he makes a telephone call. He should have been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar on the basis of this scene alone.</p> <p>Yet the territory is familiar stuff for Scorsese, and the first two-thirds of the (very long) film plays like a watered-down <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099685/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">Goodfellas</a> or a season of <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0979432/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">Boardwalk Empire</a>– a retro true crime saga following gangsters and politicos in control of the Teamsters union. Al Pacino, nominated for an Oscar for his turn as Jimmy Hoffa, just does the usual Pacino thing where he shouts a lot, with little nuance.</p> <p>Though it starts off as a watered-down Goodfellas, the final act of The Irishman becomes something more profound.</p> <p>In the final third, however, the film takes a radically different turn. As the consciousness of the film merges with that of the eponymous hitman, it becomes increasingly emotionally complex.</p> <p>The Irishman’s estrangement from his family, from his work, and from his social world is starkly realised when we find him in a nursing home. This one-time heavy now seems like a disoriented and tired old fogey, attempting to relive glory days by telling stories to people who don’t know – or care – about them.</p> <p>It’s a long (did I mention long?) and gruelling film, brilliantly shot and staged. The finale turns what might otherwise seem like a self-indulgent genre exercise into a profound reflection on art and existence.</p> <p><strong>My pick for Best Picture: Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7131622/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0">Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood</a> is Quentin Tarantino’s 21st century masterpiece, and it would not be surprising if he made no more films after this one, given it seems to sum up the rest of his oeuvre – and Hollywood at large – as, indeed, fairytale.</p> <p>His best film since <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119396/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">Jackie Brown</a> is a stunning, elegiac lament of the impossibility of film art to transform and transcend history.</p> <p>Tarantino’s latest Hollywood masterpiece may well be his last.</p> <p>Everything about this film works, from the extraordinary performances from old timers like Leonardo Di Caprio and (relative) newcomers like Margaret Qualley (who self-assuredly steals her scenes with Brad Pitt) to the stately creation and photography of a nostalgic Los Angeles.</p> <p>The sequence in which Margot Robbie, as Sharon Tate, watches her performance on the big screen, delightfully laughing the whole time, is one of the most moving scenes in cinema. The fact that the character has few lines is in itself significant, a comment on her early silencing at the hands of the Manson family – and a wail for what could have been.</p> <p>The explosive (and unexpected) violence at the end of the film offers the viewer, familiar with the Manson mythos, a chance to imagine other possibilities – and this is both satisfying and devastating.</p> <p>Every moment in the film seems acutely aware of the absurdity, the thoroughly “Tinseltown” quality of its representation of history. It emphasises that nothing can ever be revised – unless it’s in the make-believe movies. And there is, typical for Tarantino, something sweet and naïve about this celebration of the potential of movies to allow us to simultaneously remember and forget the past.</p> <p><strong>And the rest…</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6751668/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">Parasite</a>, the latest film from stellar Korean director Bong Joon Ho, was many critics’ pick for film of the year — but it is let down by an uncommitted ending that drifts into sentimentality.</p> <p>Parasite was three-quarters of an exceptional film.</p> <p>The premise of a lower class family manipulating their way into domestic positions in an upper class household serves as the basis for a very funny narrative. But when the film is called on to commit to this violent premise, it seems to back out. Its tone becomes smarmy and self-important.</p> <p><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11281210/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2">Ford v Ferrari</a> is a well made biopic (from director of mediocre films, James Mangold) about the professional and personal struggles of car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) as they seek to win the 1966 Le Mans race, but, like all biopics, seems a little hackneyed and stupid at times.</p> <p><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8579674/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">1917</a>, likewise, is technically dynamic – the “one shot” experiment makes sense in this case – but is otherwise an unexceptional film about a couple of soldiers on a quest to save their fellows.</p> <p><strong>Could do better …</strong></p> <p>Only two of the eight nominees, <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3281548/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">Little Women</a> and <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2584384/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">Jojo Rabbit</a> were disappointments.</p> <p>Little Women promised great things. It would seem like a good time to remake the cherished story of the March sisters, and a young director like Greta Gerwig would seem like a good choice – but it just doesn’t work as a movie. The acting is remarkably stiff with virtually no rapport between the sisters. Timothée Chalamet, usually brilliant, seems acutely uncomfortable with the staginess of the film’s approach.</p> <p>There doesn’t appear to be any reason for the clunky reordering of the narrative or for major plot omissions and there appears to be no age differentiation between the sisters.</p> <p>We simply watch a bunch of film star friends hanging out for a while, and this is pleasant enough - you wouldn’t turn it off if you were on a plane. But it is so stilted and affected (underscored by a kind of unjustified sense of self-importance) that it is hard to see why it was nominated for Best Picture.</p> <p>Stilted and clunky, Little Women feels like watching a bunch of actor friends hanging out.</p> <p>Relentlessly clever Taika Waititi’s latest film, Jojo Rabbit is wildly uneven. Some of the comedy works, some falls flat. It seems overly reliant on an outrageous comedic premise, while never quite gelling as a piece of cinema.</p> <p>It is funny for a minute to see Waititi sending up Hitler, but it quickly becomes tiresome, as does Sam Rockwell’s turn as a disaffected Nazi. A bit like Waititi’s 2004 Oscar-winning short, <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0390579/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">Two Cars, One Night</a>, it appears overly concerned with style. Though it almost taps into a child’s point of view – an awesome experience when effectively realised – it jars with the heavy-handed stylistic treatment of the material.</p> <p><strong>Not on the list …</strong></p> <p>There were, of course, several excellent films that received no nominations.</p> <p>The French eco-thriller <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7175992/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">School’s Out</a>, about a substitute teacher being gaslighted by his class of elite high school students, was one of the highights of 2019. So too the outrageous Brazillian-French exploitation yarn <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2762506/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">Bacurau</a>, about rich American pleasure seekers attempting to wipe a small Brazillian town off the map.</p> <p>Indeed, it was a very good year. Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood and Joker will be long-remembered as two of the strongest films of the 21st century, embodying some of the tendencies and contradictions of our age.</p> <p><em>Written by Ari Mattes. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/it-was-a-very-good-year-but-which-best-picture-nominee-will-win-an-oscar-130529"><em>The Conversation.</em></a></p>

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What is a super spreader? An infectious disease expert explains

<p><em>As the </em><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dr-tom-frieden-former-cdc-director-latest-scientific-novel-frieden/"><em>emerging Wuhan</em></a><em> </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/us/topics/coronavirus-5830"><em>coronavirus outbreak</em></a><em> dominates the daily news, you might be wondering just how the pathogen is working its way around the world. This virus travels from place to place by infecting one person at a time. Some sick people might not spread the virus much further, but it looks like some people infected with the novel coronavirus are what epidemiologists call “super spreaders.”</em></p> <p><a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=k4UBB88AAAAJ&amp;hl=en&amp;oi=ao"><em>Elizabeth McGraw</em></a><em>, the director of the <a href="https://www.huck.psu.edu/institutes-and-centers/center-for-infectious-disease-dynamics">Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics</a> at Pennsylvania State University, explains just what that means and why super spreaders can be crucial to a disease’s transmission.</em></p> <p><strong>What is a super spreader?</strong></p> <p>Researchers currently estimate that a person carrying the Wuhan coronavirus will, on average, <a href="https://www.imperial.ac.uk/mrc-global-infectious-disease-analysis/news--wuhan-coronavirus/">infect approximately 2.6 people</a>.</p> <p>Recent reports out of Wuhan also cite a case of a single patient who <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/23/health/wuhan-virus-super-spreader/index.html">infected 14 health care workers</a>. That qualifies him as a super spreader: someone who is responsible for infecting an especially large number of other people.</p> <p>During an emerging outbreak, epidemiologists want to determine whether super spreaders are part of the picture. Their existence can accelerate the rate of new infections or substantially expand the geographic distribution of the disease.</p> <p>In response to super spreaders, officials can recommend various ways to limit their impact and slow the spread of disease, depending on how the pathogen is transmitted. Pathogens transmitted via air droplets, contaminated surfaces, sexual contact, needles, food or drinking water will require different interventions. For example, the recommendation for face masks would be specific to airborne transmission, while hand-washing and surface sterilization are needed for germs that can live for a while on surfaces.</p> <p><strong>What are the characteristics of a super spreader?</strong></p> <p>Whether someone is a super spreader or not will depend on some combination of the pathogen and the patient’s biology and their environment or behavior at the given time. And in a society with so much global connectivity, the ability to move pathogens rapidly across great distances, often before people are even aware they are sick, helps create environments ripe for super spreading.</p> <p>Some infected individuals might shed more virus into the environment than others because of how their immune system works. Highly tolerant people do not feel sick and so may continue about their daily routines, inadvertently infecting more people. Alternatively, people with weaker immune systems that allow very high amounts of virus replication may be very good at transmitting even if they reduce their contacts with others. Individuals who have more symptoms – for example, coughing or sneezing more – can also be better at spreading the virus to new human hosts.</p> <p>A person’s behaviors, travel patterns and degree of contact with others can also contribute to super spreading. An infected shopkeeper might come in contact with a large number of people and goods each day. An international business traveler may crisscross the globe in a short period of time. A sick health care worker might come in contact with large numbers of people who are especially susceptible, given the presence of other underlying illnesses.</p> <p><strong>When have super spreaders played a key role in an outbreak?</strong></p> <p>There are a number of historical examples of super spreaders. The most famous is <a href="https://www.history.com/news/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-typhoid-mary">Typhoid Mary</a>, who in the early 20th century purportedly infected 51 people with typhoid through the food she prepared as a cook. Since Mary was an asymptomatic carrier of the bacteria, she didn’t feel sick, and so was not motivated to use good hand-washing practices.</p> <p>During the last two decades, super spreaders have started a number of measles outbreaks in the United States. Sick, unvaccinated individuals visited densely crowded places like schools, hospitals, airplanes and theme parks where they <a href="https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.4357">infected many others</a>.</p> <p>Super spreaders have also played a key role in the outbreaks of other coronaviruses, including SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). <a href="http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/world/archives/2004/02/23/2003099824/1">A traveler sick with SARS and staying in a Hong Kong hotel</a> infected a number of overseas guests who then returned home and introduced the virus into four other countries.</p> <p>For both SARS and MERS, super spreading <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-015-0450-0">commonly occurred in hospitals</a>, with scores of people being infected at a time. In South Korea in 2015, one MERS patient infected over 80 other patients, medical personnel and visitors in a crowded emergency department over a three-day period. In this case, <a href="http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2016/07/patient-proximity-key-korean-mers-super-spreader-event">proximity to the original patient</a> was the biggest risk factor for getting sick.</p> <p><strong>Can super spreading occur in all infectious diseases?</strong></p> <p>Yes. Some scientists estimate that in any given outbreak, 20% of the population is usually responsible for <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/438293a">causing over 80% of all cases of the disease</a>. Researchers have identified super spreaders in outbreaks of diseases from those caused by bacteria, such as tuberculosis, as well as those caused by viruses, including measles, <a href="https://doi.org/10.3947/ic.2016.48.2.147">MERS</a> and <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/osu-dw021017.php">Ebola</a>.</p> <p>The good news is that <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/outbreaks/investigating-outbreaks/investigations/control.html">with the right</a> <a href="https://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/training/infection-prevention/en/">control practices</a> <a href="https://www.who.int/csr/bioriskreduction/infection_control/publication/en/">specific to how</a> <a href="https://www.who.int/ith/2020-24-01-outbreak-of-Pneumonia-caused-by-new-coronavirus/en/">pathogens are transmitted</a> – hand-washing, masks, quarantine, vaccination and so on – the transmission rate can be slowed and epidemics halted.</p> <p><em>Written by Elizabeth McGraw. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/what-is-a-super-spreader-an-infectious-disease-expert-explains-130756"><em>The Conversation.</em></a></p>

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Are you committing a crime by importing cigarettes into Australia?

<p>The tax on tobacco in Australia is astronomical, pushing the average price of a cigarette packet beyond forty dollars in recent months.</p> <p>The tax has been justified on public health grounds, and has been partially responsible for significantly reducing the consumption of tobacco products in Australia.</p> <p>The tax has been accompanied by a range of restrictions on the importation of tobacco products, with the number of cigarettes that a person can bring into the country without a permit being reduced from 200 just a few years ago, to one unopened packet of up to 25 cigarettes and one open packet of up to 25 cigarettes.</p> <p>Restrictions have also been placed over the years on the use of tobacco, with prohibitions on a range of venues and public places.</p> <p>The exorbitant price of tobacco has contributed to a <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/cheap-cigarettes-available-over-the-internet/">thriving black market</a>, with many arranging for the importation of products by mail and others packing it into their luggage.</p> <p>And while many feel there’s little wrong with bringing a few extra packs into the country, the law says something completely different.</p> <p><strong>The law on importing tobacco products</strong></p> <p>Since 1 July 2019, tobacco products including cigarettes, loose leaf tobacco, shisha/molasses tobacco and ‘heat not burn’ tobacco <a href="https://www.abf.gov.au/importing-exporting-and-manufacturing/prohibited-goods/categories/tobacco">have been classified as prohibited imports</a>, which means it is a criminal offence to import them in the mail. A permit is required to import them otherwise.</p> <p>A permit is not required to import cigars or up to 1.5 kilograms of chewing tobacco and snuffs intended for oral use, provided duties and taxes are paid.</p> <p>Travellers into Australia do not require a permit to import tobacco products in personal effects, provided they are 18 years or older, declare the product/s upon arrival and pay duties and taxes. Permission is, however, required from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commissioner to bring in more than 1.5 kilograms of chewing tobacco or snuff.</p> <p>Travellers who contravene these rules are subject to having their visas cancelled, being issued with infringement notices (fines) or being criminally prosecuted.</p> <p><strong>Criminal offences</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/criminal/legislation/customs-act/smuggling-tobacco-products/">Section 233BABAD of the Customs Act 1901</a> (Cth) sets out four separate criminal offences which relate to tobacco products.</p> <p>Subsection (1) prescribes a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for ‘importing tobacco goods’ with ‘the intention of defrauding the revenue’.</p> <p>The offence applies, for example, where a person brings tobacco products into the country in breach of the rules or arranges for their importation in the mail.</p> <p>Subsection (2) sets the same maximum penalty for possessing or conveying tobacco products in the knowledge that they were imported with the intention to defraud the revenue.</p> <p>The offence applies to those who receive or transport tobacco products for which they know duties and taxes haven’t been paid.</p> <p>In addition to prison, those who are guilty under subsection (1) or (2) are subject to fines equivalent to up to five times the amount of the applicable duty or, if the court is unable to determine that duty, a maximum of 1,000 penalty units (currently $210,000).</p> <p>Subsection (2A) prescribes a maximum penalty of five years behind bars for importing tobacco products in circumstances where the person is reckless as to whether there would be a defrauding of the revenue.</p> <p>A person is ‘reckless’ for the purposes of the subsection if they were aware it was likely that there would be a defrauding but went ahead with their actions regardless.</p> <p>And subsection (2B) sets the same 5 year maximum penalty for possessing or conveying tobacco products where the person is reckless as to whether they were imported with the intention to defraud the revenue.</p> <p>A person is ‘reckless’ if they were aware it was likely that the products were imported with the intention to defraud but went ahead with their actions regardless.</p> <p>In addition to prison, those who are guilty under subsection (2A) or (2B) are subject to fines equivalent to up to three times the amount of the applicable duty or, if the court is unable to determine that duty, a maximum of 500 penalty units (currently $105,000).</p> <p>For the purposes of the Act, ‘tobacco products’ are broadly defined as including:</p> <ul> <li>Unmanufactured tobacco and tobacco refuse,</li> <li>Cigars, cheroots, cigarillos and cigarettes of tobacco and tobacco substitutes, and</li> <li>Other manufactured tobacco and substitutes, extracts and essences, including water pipe tobacco.</li> </ul> <p>See <a href="http://www8.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ca1901124/s4.html">section 4 of the Customs Act</a> which refers to <a href="http://www8.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/legis/cth/consol_act/cta1995178/sch3.html">Schedule 3 of the Customs Traffic Act 1995</a>.</p> <p>Going to Court for an Offence Involving Tobacco Products?</p> <p>If you have been charged with an offence involving tobacco, call <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/">Sydney Criminal Lawyers</a> anytime on (02) 9261 8881 to arrange a free first conference with an experienced defence lawyer who will advise you of your options and the best way forward, and fight to ensure you receive the optimal outcome.</p> <p><em>Written by Ugur Nedim. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/is-it-a-crime-to-import-cigarettes-into-australia/">Sydney Criminal Lawyers.</a></em></p>

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The inhumanity of Australia’s new offshore detention centre

<p>Papua New Guinea authorities arrested 52 offshore detainees previously held on Manus Island <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/15/leaked-photos-of-papua-new-guinea-prison-reveal-torture-of-18-asylum-seekers-cut-off-from-world">in August last year</a> and incarcerated them in the purpose-built Bomana immigration centre. The facility is part of a large prison complex that goes by the same name on the outskirts of Port Moresby.</p> <p>Opened in April last year, the <a href="https://www.kaldorcentre.unsw.edu.au/news/five-questions-bomana-immigration-centre">$24 million centre</a> was funded and built by the Australian Home Affairs Department. And although it’s been reported to be run solely by the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Authority, it’s also been asserted that <a href="https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/401582/australia-coercing-manus-island-asylum-seekers-to-go-home">it’s Canberra-run</a>.</p> <p>Bomana is the end of the line for certain asylum seekers. Those locked up there had been deemed non-refugees, either via assessment or not. And the centre is designed to be so extreme as to force detainees into giving up hope, despite having spent years prior in immigration limbo.</p> <p>And that’s exactly what happened to the men sent to the isolated facility, with no outside contact. The conditions were so torturous that after years of refusing, most signed up to being sent back to their countries of origins.</p> <p>Although, since doing so, they’re still being housed in Port Moresby not able to be returned as yet.</p> <p>And as of last week, authorities can hail the operation a complete success, as the final 18 men were <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/criminal/penalties/nsw/conditional-release-order/">released</a>. This was only after some tinkering from rights groups, so these men were offered resettlement in a third country, rather than being forced to return to the land from which they fled.</p> <p><strong>Employing the techniques of war</strong></p> <p>“The Bomana detention centre was built by the Australian government for the express purposes of holding the Manus people, who’ve been given negative refugee assessments in Papua New Guinea,” explained Ian Rintoul.</p> <p>“It’s a deliberately built facility to hold people in an effort to coerce them into signing to go home and deporting them,” the <a href="http://www.refugeeaction.org.au/">Refugee Action Coalition (RAC)</a> spokesperson told Sydney Criminal Lawyers.</p> <p>And in relation to how the immigration facility manages to coerce detainees in such an efficient manner, Mr Rintoul likened the circumstances within Bomana to something you might expect to find in “prisoner of war camps from the Second World War”.</p> <p>The long-time refugee advocate said that detainees were denied communications with the outside world, including legal representation. They were withheld medication and phones. While the water inside was too hot for showering and the thin mattresses provided, lay directly upon the floor.</p> <p>“They were kept on starvation rations,” Rintoul added, “so everyone who has come out of Bomana has lost between 10 and 15 kilograms.”</p> <p><strong>The final cohort</strong></p> <p>The remaining detainees <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/aug/20/remaining-manus-island-refugees-offered-voluntary-relocation-to-port-moresby">were moved</a> from Manus Island to Port Moresby beginning in August last year, with the final 25 arriving <a href="https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/404490/manus-island-refugees-moved-into-port-moresby-apartments">in November</a>. And 52 of these men subsequently ended up in Bomana. Indeed, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/15/leaked-photos-of-papua-new-guinea-prison-reveal-torture-of-18-asylum-seekers-cut-off-from-world">nine of them</a> had already been approved for Medevac transfer to Australia.</p> <p>According to Rintoul, the men weren’t given reasons for their incarceration, but it was known that only those deemed negative were sent to Bomana. And the conditions soon led to most agreeing to be repatriated, as they reasoned possible imprisonment in their country of origin would be better.</p> <p>And last Thursday, 23 January, saw the final 18 asylum seekers released from the Bomana detention centre, after they agreed to third country resettlement, which was not an offer made to detainees that agreed to leave earlier.</p> <p>“We tried to get messages in to tell people to sign and come out. We attempted various measures, but none of them had been forthcoming,” Rintoul outlined. “The final 18 were released on the basis of them signing to be part of the US resettlement deal, under the auspices of the UNHCR.”</p> <p><strong>A fresh gulag</strong></p> <p>Most Australians remain unaware that during the rising calls to end offshore detention, amid the successful campaign to bring the children on Nauru to Australia, and while the enactment and later repeal of Medevac occurred, the government has been intensifying detention for some.</p> <p>The Bomana immigration centre <a href="https://www.kaldorcentre.unsw.edu.au/news/five-questions-bomana-immigration-centre">is part of the</a> 2013 Regional Resettlement Agreement between Australia and PNG, which allows for the ongoing processing of asylum seekers who arrive in this nation’s waters within the borders of another poorer country.</p> <p>The specially built facility began its operation on 2 April last year. And it has the capacity to hold around 50 detainees, within its 25 rooms, with two individuals in each. These rooms are divided up between <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/15/leaked-photos-of-papua-new-guinea-prison-reveal-torture-of-18-asylum-seekers-cut-off-from-world">five separate compounds</a> fenced off from one another.</p> <p>“The Australian government has overall control of the centre, as it does every other aspect of the people who they’re responsible for sending to Manus in the first place,” Rintoul made clear, adding that Canberra is “very aware of the circumstances in which people were being held”.</p> <p>The RAC spokesperson further explained that some of the employees at the facility are ex-Australian federal police. And the people who own the company that are running Bomana are also former AFP employees.</p> <p><strong>The gift that keeps on giving</strong></p> <p>As for what Bomana will be used for now that all the Manus Island asylum seekers have been released, Rintoul is clear that it’s likely the Papua New Guinean government will continue to use it in the same manner. But, this time, with asylum seekers who arrive in its own country.</p> <p>PNG prime minister James Marape warned <a href="https://www.pngfacts.com/news/png-pm-marape-tells-illegal-foreigners-to-leave">in mid-January</a> that foreign nationals who entered his country without permission and refuse to leave will be thrown in the Bomana centre, which, for the most part, is unused at present.</p> <p>“There’s a Filipino and three Bangladeshi citizens who are now in the Bomana facility,” Mr Rintoul explained. He said that keeping it open for the purposes of using it in a similar vein is what the PNG government seems to have in mind.</p> <p>“But, I suspect it will only be like that as long as Australia is paying for the upkeep,” he concluded.</p> <p>The images are leaked photos of the ex-Manus Island detainees in the Bomana immigration centre. They were supplied by the Refugee Action Coalition.</p> <p><em>Written by Paul Gregoire. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/the-inhumanity-of-australias-new-offshore-detention-centre/"><em>Sydney Criminal Lawyers.</em></a></p>

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Stone tools reveal epic trek of nomadic Neanderthals

<p>Neanderthal (<em>Homo neanderthalensis</em>) fossils were first discovered in western Europe in the mid nineteenth century. That was just the first in a long line of surprises thrown up by our closest evolutionary cousins.</p> <p>We reveal another in <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/01/21/1918047117">our new study</a> of the Neanderthals who lived in Chagyrskaya Cave in southern Siberia around 54,000 years ago. Their distinctive stone tools are dead ringers for those found thousands of kilometres away in eastern and central Europe.</p> <p>The intercontinental journey made by these intrepid Neanderthals is equivalent to walking from Sydney to Perth, or from New York to Los Angeles, and is a rare example of long-distance migration by Palaeolithic people.</p> <p><strong>Knuckleheads no more</strong></p> <p>For a long time Neanderthals were seen as intellectual lightweights. However, <a href="https://theconversation.com/neanderthals-were-no-brutes-research-reveals-they-may-have-been-precision-workers-103858">several recent finds</a> have forced a rethink of their cognitive and creative abilities.</p> <p>Neanderthals are now believed to have created 176,000 year-old enigmatic structures made from broken stalactites in a <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2016/05/neanderthals-caves-rings-building-france-archaeology/">cave in France</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-we-discovered-that-neanderthals-could-make-art-92127">cave art in Spain</a>that dates back more than 65,000 years.</p> <p>They also used <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0045927">bird feathers</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aar5255">pierced shells</a> bearing traces of red and yellow ochre, possibly as personal ornaments. It seems likely Neanderthals had cognitive capabilities and symbolic behaviours similar to those of modern humans (<em>Homo sapiens</em>).</p> <p>Our knowledge of their geographical range and the nature of their encounters with other groups of humans has also expanded greatly in recent years.</p> <p>We now know that Neanderthals ventured beyond Europe and western Asia, reaching at least as far east as the Altai Mountains. Here, they interbred with another group of archaic humans dubbed the <a href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/scientists-recreate-face-denisovan-using-dna-180973177/">Denisovans</a>.</p> <p>Traces of Neanderthal interactions with our own ancestors also persist in the DNA of all living people of Eurasian descent. However, we can still only speculate why the Neanderthals vanished around 40,000 years ago.</p> <p><strong>Banished to Siberia</strong></p> <p>Other questions also remain unresolved. When did Neanderthals first arrive in the Altai? Were there later migration events? Where did these trailblazers begin their trek? And what routes did they take across Asia?</p> <p><a href="https://www.antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/derevyanko345">Chagyrskaya Cave</a> is nestled in the foothills of the Altai Mountains. The cave deposits were first excavated in 2007 and have yielded almost 90,000 stone tools and numerous bone tools.</p> <p>The excavations have also found 74 Neanderthal fossils – the richest trove of any Altai site – and a range of animal and plant remains, including the abundant bones of bison hunted and butchered by the Neanderthals.</p> <p>We used <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/520438a">optical dating</a> to determine when the cave sediments, artefacts and fossils were deposited, and conducted a detailed study of more than 3,000 stone tools recovered from the deepest archaeological levels. Microscopy analysis revealed that these have remained intact and undisturbed since accumulating during a period of cold and dry climate about 54,000 years ago.</p> <p>Using a variety of statistical techniques, we show that these artefacts bear a striking similarity to so-called <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micoquien">Micoquian</a> artefacts from central and eastern Europe. This type of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Paleolithic">Middle Palaeolithic</a> assemblage is readily identified by the distinctive appearance of the bifaces – tools made by removing flakes from both sides – which were used to cut meat.</p> <p>Micoquian-like tools have only been found at one other site in the Altai. All other archaeological assemblages in the Altai and central Asia lack these distinctive artefacts.</p> <p>Neanderthals carrying Micoquian tools may never have reached <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00353-0">Denisova Cave</a>, as there is no fossil or sedimentary DNA evidence of Neanderthals there after 100,000 years ago.</p> <p><strong>Going the distance</strong></p> <p>The presence of Micoquian artefacts at Chagyrskaya Cave suggests at least two separate dispersals of Neanderthals into southern Siberia. Sites such as Denisova Cave were occupied by Neanderthals who entered the region before 100,000 years ago, while the Chagyrskaya Neanderthals arrived later.</p> <p>The Chagyrskaya artefacts most closely resemble those found at sites located 3,000–4,000 km to the west, between the Crimea and northern Caucasus in eastern Europe.</p> <p>Comparison of genetic data supports these geographical links, with the <a href="https://www.eva.mpg.de/genetics/genome-projects/chagyrskaya-neandertal/home.html">Chagyrskaya Neanderthal</a> sharing closer affinities with several European Neanderthals than with a Neanderthal from Denisova Cave.</p> <p>When the Chagyrskaya toolmakers (or their ancestors) left their Neanderthal homeland in eastern Europe for central Asia around 60,000 years ago, they could have headed north and east around the land-locked <a href="https://www.britannica.com/place/Caspian-Sea">Caspian Sea</a>, which was much reduced in size under the prevailing cold and arid conditions.</p> <p>Their intercontinental odyssey over thousands of kilometres is a rarely observed case of long-distance dispersal in the Palaeolithic, and highlights the value of stone tools as culturally informative markers of ancient population movements.</p> <p>Environmental reconstructions from the animal and plant remains at Chagyrskaya Cave suggest that the Neanderthal inhabitants survived in the cold, dry and treeless environment by hunting bison and horses on the steppe or tundra-steppe landscape.</p> <p>Our discoveries reinforce the emerging view of Neanderthals as creative and intelligent people who were skilled survivors. If this was the case, it makes their extinction across Eurasia even more mysterious. Did modern humans deal the fatal blow? The enigma endures, for now.</p> <p><em>Written by Kseniya Kolobova, Maciej T. Krajcarz and Richard 'Bert' Roberts. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/stone-tools-reveal-epic-trek-of-nomadic-neanderthals-129886">The Conversation.</a></em></p>

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11 of the longest bridges in the world - not including the Harbour Bridge

<p><strong>Human feats of wonder</strong></p> <p>While most of the longest bridges in the world exist in Asia and the United States, engineering marvels that allow travellers to pass over large bodies of water and/or kilometres of tricky terrain, on a train or in a car, exist across the globe.</p> <p><strong>The Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge</strong></p> <blockquote 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);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B0k3Ik2gU9k/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <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> <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;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B0k3Ik2gU9k/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by PlayDay Live! (@playdaylive)</a> on Jul 31, 2019 at 2:23am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>At 164.8km in length, China’s Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge is the world’s longest bridge. Built at a cost of approximately $8.5 billion dollars, per Britannica, this link between Shanghai and Nanjing opened as a viaduct on the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway in June 2011. As of publication, this bridge remains in the <em>Guinness Book of World Records</em> as the longest bridge in the world.</p> <p><strong>Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge</strong></p> <blockquote 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);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/Bzc35aXoB0u/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <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> <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;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/Bzc35aXoB0u/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by MyExpatCommunity (@myexpatcommunity)</a> on Jul 3, 2019 at 3:24am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Also in China is the longest bridge in the world made of glass where pedestrians pay high prices for what <em>Business Insider</em> calls a “colossal waste of time.” That’s thanks to a sea of people and their shoes which scuff the glass beneath feet, despite the fact that booties are mandatory to, in theory, protect the 99 panels of 60cm thick glass. Tourists flock to walk the 427m long glass bridge that sits 299m above China’s Grand Canyon.</p> <p><strong>Hong Kong Zhuhai Macao Bridge</strong></p> <blockquote 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);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/Bp2EgdvhGgd/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <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> <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;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/Bp2EgdvhGgd/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by L U (@voyconlu)</a> on Nov 6, 2018 at 8:06am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>=What does $20 billion get you in the 21st-century bridge market? A huge 54.7km bridge connecting Hong Kong and Zhuhai/Macau. Commuting between those cities would previously have required an hour-long ferry ride, according to CNN. The newest world’s largest sea-crossing bridge, with immigration offices and border control at either end (because Hong Kong and Macau are governed under different laws), took nine years to build and opened in the autumn of 2018.</p> <p><strong>Lake Pontchartrain Causeway</strong></p> <blockquote 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);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BBD35ejPsLZ/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <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> <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;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BBD35ejPsLZ/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Fisk - Centro de Ensino (@fiskoficial)</a> on Jan 27, 2016 at 3:13pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Per the Telegraph, “Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in southern Louisiana is an epic structure that crosses one of the most famous bodies of water in the United States; a lake that has inspired literature, music and film.” This nearly 39km-long bridge is the longest bridge in the world that’s not in Asia. It’ll cost you $5 to go southbound on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway.</p> <p><strong>The Vasco da Gama Bridge</strong></p> <p>The longest bridge in Europe, found east of Lisbon, Portugal, took more than 3,000 workers 18 months to build. Heavy cloud cover on its inauguration day during the 1998 Lisbon World Exposition meant that travellers couldn’t see the other side. Spanning an impressive 17km over the Tagus River, “the Vasco da Game was named after the famous Portuguese explorer to commemorate the fifth centenary of his arrival from India in 1498. Gama was the first European to reach India by sea, from the Atlantic Ocean,” reports Civitatis’ Lisbon travel guide.</p> <p><strong>Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge, Switzerland</strong></p> <p>In Switzerland, you’ll find a 494m suspension bridge that is the longest bridge in the world exclusively for pedestrian use. According to the Telegraph, the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge crosses “a valley between Grächen and Zermatt, and offers scenic views of some of Switzerland’s highest peaks, including the famed Matterhorn.”</p> <p><strong>Millau Viaduct, France</strong></p> <p>At 2460m, the Millau Viaduct is not even close to being one of the longest bridges in the world. Instead, this engineering marvel often seen cutting through the clouds on the A75 highway between Paris and Barcelona is the tallest bridge and, remarkably, is even higher than the Eiffel Tower.</p> <p><strong>Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel</strong></p> <p>Part bridge, part tunnel, this 28.3-mile marvel of engineering opened for automotive traffic way back in 1964. By the following year, it had been designated as “One of Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World,” according to Travel Trivia. The site goes on to explain that the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel “connects the Delmarva Peninsula with southeastern Virginia, spanning across open waters around the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.”</p> <p><strong>Atchafalaya Basin Bridge</strong></p> <p>The twin bridge that spans the largest river swamp in the country opened in 1973 and at the time “was the longest bridge in the United States,” reports the Advertiser. Drivers and passengers alike are afforded stellar views of Louisiana’s wetlands from Interstate 10 during the 30km stretch.</p> <p><strong>Bang Na to Bangpakong Expressway</strong></p> <p>Is a bridge still a bridge if it doesn’t cross over water? The six lanes of The Bang Na in Thailand span a whopping 53.9km, including a run through Bangkok, with only a relative drop of the Bang Pakong River flowing beneath. Structurally this bridge, which ranks as the longest road bridge in the world, was made with over a million cubic metres of concrete, according to Road Traffic Technology, and instead of a sea or lake, rises nearly 30.4 metres above another stretch of road, National Highway Route 34.</p> <p><strong>Akashi Kaikyo Bridge</strong></p> <p>Rising high above the Akashi Strait, and connecting the city of Kobe with Awaji Island in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture, is the longest spanning suspension bridge in the world. At 3,911m in length, its length is only part of the story. According to PBS, the two towers of the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, rising 283m, “are higher than any other bridge towers in the world.”</p> <p><em>Written by Jeff Bogle. This article first appeared in </em><em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/11-of-the-longest-bridges-in-the-world?slide=all">Reader’s Digest.</a> For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><span><em> </em></span><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></p>

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What flight attendants aren’t allowed to do

<p><strong>The (job) rules of the sky</strong></p> <p>There are always rules and regulations to follow at various companies, and flight attendants are no exception. However, since being a flight attendant is no ordinary job and they’ve seen some of the craziest things when flying, it makes sense that they have some more interesting rules they need to abide by. From keeping piercings and tattoos to a minimum and not raising their voice, read on to find out the unusual rules flight attendants need to follow on the job.</p> <p><strong>They can’t sleep when working on a flight</strong></p> <p>It’s tempting for passengers to get some sleep when on a flight, but flight attendants don’t always have that option. “Flight attendants cannot ever sleep while working a flight unless it is a flight of a certain time duration,” says Kiki Ward, an airline flight attendant and author of <em>The Essential Guide to Becoming a Flight Attendant</em>. However, there are some exceptions, like on international or long-haul flights where flight attendants can go to a designated area to take a rest break.</p> <p><strong>They can’t have tongue piercings</strong></p> <p>Many women get their ears pierced at a young age. However, piercings can’t extend to other parts of the body, especially the tongue. According to the British Airways, its uniform standards require a simple, elegant look. A single ear piercing is allowed and only one set of round-shaped earrings must be worn. No other visible body piercings including tongue, tongue retainer, and nose studs are allowed.</p> <p><strong>They can’t have tattoos on most airlines</strong></p> <p>Most airlines require that tattoos aren’t visible on a flight attendant’s face, neck, hands or arms, and if a tattoo can be seen under the uniform, an undergarment should be worn to cover it up. <a href="https://careers.airnewzealand.co.nz/belong-here/life-at-air-new-zealand/tattoo-policy">Air New Zealand’s tattoo policy</a> however allows employees to have <a href="https://media.newzealand.com/en/story-ideas/ta-moko-significance-of-maori-tattoos/">Tā Moko</a> (traditional Māori tattooing, often on the face) and non-offensive tattoos visible when wearing the uniform or normal business attire.</p> <p><strong>They can’t talk loudly in the cabin</strong></p> <p>In a confined space like a cabin, one conversation can be heard by people rows away. “There are personal behavioural guidelines that flight attendants are asked to follow,” says Ward, such as not talking to one another loudly in the cabin, the galleys or on jump seats about personal lives, work, etc because voices carry on aeroplanes. There isn’t a lot of privacy on an plane, so everyone should be courteous to those around them.</p> <p>Although if you’re bumped from your flight, you may feel less than courteous in your interactions with airline staff. </p> <p><em>Written by Madeline Wahl. This article first appeared in </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/flightstravel-hints-tips/10-things-flight-attendants-arent-allowed-to-do?slide=all"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><em><u> </u></em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></p>

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Post or it didn’t happen: Live tourist snaps have turned solo adventures into social occasions

<p>In the years since <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32336808">selfie sticks</a> went global, it has become clear that the mobile phone has changed the way we travel. The ubiquity of social media means tourists can now produce content on the move for their networked audiences to view in close to real time.</p> <p>Where once we shared slideshows post trip and saved prints and postcards as keepsakes, we now share <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0160738315000419">holiday images</a> and <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1369118X.2016.1220969">selfies</a> from the road, sea or air — expanding the “<a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/026327692009003001">tourist gaze</a>” from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0160738315300335">traveller</a> to include remote audiences back home.</p> <p><strong>Instagram-worthy</strong></p> <p>Travelling has gone from a solitary quest to a “<a href="https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9780203861301/chapters/10.4324/9780203861301-21">social occasion</a>”. As such, gazing is becoming inseparably linked with photography. Taking photos has become habitual, rendering the camera as a way of seeing and experiencing new places.</p> <p>Travellers take selfies that present both locations and people in aesthetically pleasing and positive <a href="https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9780203861301/chapters/10.4324/9780203861301-21">ways</a>.</p> <p>Indeed, the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/17/instagrammers-travel-sri-lanka-tourists-peachy-backsides-social-media-obsessed">“instagrammability”</a> of a destination is a key motivation for younger people to travel there - even if filters and <a href="https://twitter.com/polina_marinova/status/1146620000679022593?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1146620000679022593&amp;ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Ftravel.nine.com.au%2Flatest%2Fbali-gates-of-heaven-attraction-fake-twitter-response%2F9014aa28-f31e-4ad7-912f-6749efc18b26">mirrors</a> have been used to create a less than realistic image.</p> <p>This transforms the relationship between travellers and their social networks in three important <a href="http://sk.sagepub.com/books/the-tourist-gaze-3-0-3e">ways</a>: between tourists and destination hosts; between fellow tourists; and lastly, between tourists and those that stay home.</p> <p>The urge to share travel imagery is not without risk. An Australian couple were <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-05/australians-released-from-iran/11576776">released</a> from detention in Iran in October, following their arrest for ostensibly flying a drone without a permit.</p> <p>Other tourists earned derision for scrambling to post selfies at <a href="https://www.news.com.au/travel/australian-holidays/northern-territory/influencers-reason-for-deciding-to-climb-uluru-before-the-ban/news-story/b53928ee54800a6070bc0670b1679356">Uluru</a> before it was closed to climbers.</p> <p>Meanwhile, there is a sad story behind the newly popular travelgram destination Rainbow Mountain in the Peruvian Andes. It has <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/03/world/americas/peru-rainbow-mountain.html">reportedly</a> only recently emerged due to climate change melting its once snowy peaks.</p> <p><strong>Testing the effects</strong></p> <p>To understand the way social media photography impacts travelling, we undertook an exploratory <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40558-019-00151-4">study</a> of overnight visitors at zoological accommodation in lavish surrounds.</p> <p>We divided 12 participants into two groups. One group was directed to abstain from posting on social media but were still able to take photos. The second group had no restrictions on sharing photos. Though the numbers were small, we gathered qualitative information about engagement and attitudes.</p> <p>Participants were invited to book at <a href="http://www.jamalawildlifelodge.com.au/">Jamala Wildlife Lodge</a> in Canberra. The visit was funded by the researchers — Jamala Wildlife Lodge did not sponsor the research and the interviewees’ stay at the Lodge was a standard visit. We then conducted interviews immediately after their departure from the zoo, critically exploring the full experience of their stay.</p> <p>The study confirmed that the desire to share travel pictures in close to real time is strongly scripted into the role of the tourist; altering the way travellers engage with sites they are visiting, but also their sense of urgency to communicate this with remote audiences.</p> <p><strong>Pics or it didn’t happen</strong></p> <p>Participants Mandy and Amy were among those instructed to refrain from posting pictures to social media while at the zoo. They described having to refrain from social media use as a disappointment, even though it seemed to further their engagement.</p> <p><em>Interviewer: Did you look at your social media throughout your stay or did you refrain?</em></p> <p><em>Mandy: A bit yeah. But even then, probably not reading it as much as I often would. I don’t think I commented on anything yeah.</em></p> <p><em>Amy: Even today when we put something up [after staying at the Zoo] about the things we’d done today and only a few people had liked it, there was that little bit of disappointment that ‘Oh more people haven’t liked my post.’ Where we didn’t have that for the previous 24 hours [because of the experiment] … because nobody knew about it.</em></p> <p>The desire for social media recognition resumed after leaving the zoo. For Michelle, posting after the experience presented new concerns:</p> <p><em>Interviewer: How did you feel about not being able to post?</em></p> <p><em>Michelle: Spanner in the works! For me personally not being able to post was a negative experience because I wanted to show people what we’re doing, when we’re doing it.</em></p> <p><em>And I also feel, like a couple of people knew we were going to the zoo, right, and knew that we couldn’t use social media. So, when I eventually post it, they’re going to go, ‘She’s been hanging on to those and now she’s posting them and that’s just a bit weird.’ Like, to post it after the event. Everyone normally posts it in real time.</em></p> <p>Later, Michelle commented that withholding content from posting to social media also diminished a part of the experience itself:</p> <p><em>I sort of feel like if we don’t share the photos it’s like a tree fell down in the forest and no one heard it, like, we’ve had this amazing experience and if I don’t share them, then no one’s going to know that we had this experience, you know, apart from us.</em></p> <p>Tips garnered from travelgrammers fill lots of online video tutorials.</p> <p><strong>Centre Stage</strong></p> <p>Digital photography and social media transform the relationship between the travelling self and its audience, as individuals have an expanded — and potentially diversified — audience.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0160738315300335">Selfies in tourist contexts</a> reflect the tourist gaze back at the tourist, rather than outward.</p> <p>The perfect digital postcard now incorporates the self centrestage. As one participant suggested:</p> <p><em>Shannon: It almost feels like it’s kind of an expected behaviour when you are doing something touristy … We’ve actually had tour guides before … kind of a bit disappointed if you don’t take a photograph.</em></p> <p>The purpose of photography has <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1470357207084865">shifted</a> from a memory aid to a way of sharing experience in the moment. There is tension now between the need to capture tourist experiences for digital sharing and individual engagement in the tourist activity. Decrying the desire to use photography as a way of communicating experience will not constructively address this tension.</p> <p>To ensure tourism sustainability, and engagement with their target market, tourism providers need to explore better ways to manage travellers’ face-to-face and digital engagement.</p> <p>Digital engagements have become a defining part of travel, and organisations should be encouraged to promote online sharing of experiences — phone charging stations and photo competitions were two suggestions offered by our interviewees.</p> <p>In contrast, device-free days or activities could be another way to encourage face-to-face engagement and prompt tourists to be more considered with their online sharing.</p> <p><em>Written by Michael James Walsh, Naomi F Dale and Raechel Johns. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/travelgram-live-tourist-snaps-have-turned-solo-adventures-into-social-occasions-124583"><em>The Conversation.</em></a></p>

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Airbus again becomes the world’s leading aircraft manufacturer

<p>After eight years of Boeing leadership, Airbus has again become the world’s leading aircraft manufacturer. The European group surpassed <a href="https://www.aerospace-technology.com/comment/airbus-boeing-aircraft-top/">1,000 aircraft orders in 2019</a> and broke its record of aircraft delivered with <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-airbus-deliveries-exclusive/exclusive-airbus-beats-goal-with-863-jet-deliveries-in-2019-ousts-boeing-from-top-spot-idUSKBN1Z01Q8">863 units</a>. By comparison, Boeing delivered a <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/01/02/boeinhttps:/www.aerospace-technology.com/comment/airbus-boeing-aircraft-top/g-surrenders-crown-worlds-biggest-plane-maker-airbus-737/">mere 345</a>.</p> <p>The A320, launched in 1988, became the bestselling aircraft of all time, outnumbering the Boeing 737, which is 20 years older. In addition, from January 2020, Boeing suspended production of the 737 Max, once a bestseller but currently banned from flying because of <a href="https://theconversation.com/boeing-737-max-air-safety-market-pressures-and-cockpit-technology-113580">two crashes in October 2018 and March 2019</a>.</p> <p>According to Airbus commercial director Christian Scherrer, Boeing’s difficulties are <a href="https://aviationweek.com/air-transport/airbus-not-benefiting-boeings-max-crisis-exec-says">not benefiting its European competitor</a> – the firm’s production capacity does not allow it to deliver new customers before four years. However, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-boeing-deliveries/boeing-orders-sink-as-customers-opt-to-swap-max-idUSKBN1XM24M">Airbus continues to accumulate orders</a>, including from customers once loyal to Boeing. In addition, it is likely that the 10% tax on aircraft imports into the United States is a <a href="https://www.tourmag.com/Christian-Scherrer-Airbus-Passer-de-la-batterie-a-la-production-d-electricite-embarquee-_a101632.html">direct result of Boeing’s troubles</a>.</p> <p>Suppliers General Electric and Safran have been heavily affected by the 737 Max crisis, an aircraft exclusively equipped with the LEAP engine that they co-developed. The joint subsidiary CFM International has <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/ge-agrees-on-deal-to-build-more-airbus-engines-to-help-offset-max-shutdown-11576860015">negotiated with Airbus</a> to increase the percentage of A320neo aircraft that use this engine to compensate for the losses associated with the 737 Max. Hundreds of European suppliers that also work for Airbus are also <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/016189b4-6dac-11e9-80c7-60ee53e6681d">financially affected</a>.</p> <p>Presentation of the LEAP (Leading Edge Aviation Propulsion) high-bypass turbofan that power A320neo airplanes.</p> <p><strong>Relative successes for Airbus</strong></p> <p>Although 2019 was marked by the end of the A380, considered a <a href="https://theconversation.com/airbus-a380-from-high-tech-marvel-to-commercial-flop-112086">commercial flop</a>, Airbus has exceeded the symbolic mark of the 20,000 planes sold since its creation. The company also won many battles against Boeing last year. The A320, A320neo, A321, A321neo and A350 models are particularly popular with airlines. <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/samuelengel1/2019/12/18/uniteds-new-aircraft-order-nudges-boeing-and-airbus-toward-environmental-sustainability/#624f31304199">The A321 XLR is part of a sustainable development strategy</a>: it consumes a third less of kerosene, which gives it a much greater radius of action and reduces costs per passenger.</p> <p>The A321 XLR will replace the A380 on the aircraft market.</p> <p>United Airlines ordered <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelgoldstein/2019/12/04/united-airlines-to-buy-50-ultra-long-range-airbus-a321xlr-aircraft-in-estimated-6-billion-deal/">50 ultra-long-haul Airbus A321 XLRs</a> for about $6 billion. These aircraft are intended to replace Boeing 757s and are expected to enter service in 2024. Thanks to this innovative plane, which as presented by Airbus at the <a href="https://theconversation.com/aeronautique-la-menace-sino-russe-plane-sur-le-duopole-airbus-boeing-118638">2019 Paris Air Show</a>, the company will be able to reduce significantly its carbon footprint and <a href="https://www.aviationtoday.com/2019/12/05/united-airlines-buying-airbus-a321xlrs-replace-boeing-757-fleet/">benefit from the long-range capabilities to add new destinations</a>.</p> <p>Cebu Pacific Air, the leading airline in the Philippines, confirmed an order for <a href="https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/philippines--cebu-air-orders-15-a320neo-jets--pushing-airbus-toward-sales-milestone-12196784">five A320neo and ten A321 XLR on December 19</a>, after having finalized another of 16 A330neo, which makes a total of 21 aircraft for approximately $6.8 billion in 2019. This is nothing compared to the <a href="https://www.airbus.com/newsroom/press-releases/en/2019/10/indigo-signs-for-300-a320neo-family-aircraft.html">record order from one of the fastest-growing airlines in the world</a>: the low-cost Indian company IndiGo. In October, it ordered 300 A320s, including several A321 XLRs, worth $33 billion. When delivered, IndiGo will reach a total of 730 A320s, making it the <a href="https://www.aerotime.aero/rytis.beresnevicius/24127-indigo-300-airbus-a320-aircraft-order">largest customer for this model</a>.</p> <p>Airbus has also been <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/business-50753718">selected by Quantas</a> to operate the longest flight in the world: 20 hours to cover the 10,500 miles (17,000 km) between London and Sydney. In December 2019, after launching a tender to the two manufacturers, Quantas announced that it was choosing the A350-1000 rather than the Boeing 777X.</p> <p>New touch-screens cockpit displays in Airbus A350 XWB.</p> <p>Airbus’s situation seems solid and the future looks bright. The group may hire between 1,500 and <a href="https://www.en24.news/2020/01/toulouse-airbus-expected-to-hire-nearly-2000-people.html">2,000 people in France, and potentially 5,000 worldwide</a>. The group has exceeded US$100 billion in market valuation, Airbus shares rose 59% in 2019](https://www.lefigaro.fr/conjoncture/ces-entreprises-qui-font-flamber-le-cac-40-20191229) and the company begins 2020 at the top of the French stock market index CAC40.</p> <p>Still, Airbus’s leadership position <a href="https://www.aerospace-technology.com/comment/airbus-boeing-aircraft-top/">remains fragile</a>. If <a href="https://www.aerospace-technology.com/comment/airbus-boeing-aircraft-top/">the symbolic threshold of 1,000 aircraft ordered</a> may seem satisfactory, it is already the sixth time that the group has exceeded it, and this remains well below <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/industry/10580384/How-Britain-lifts-Airbus-to-record-sales-high.html">the record set in 2013 with 1,503 orders</a>. Production is <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/airbus-slashes-delivery-target-as-it-struggles-with-production-woes-11572417894">struggling to keep up with sales</a>, as the most popular models are victims of their success. Some current deliveries are late and the increase from 60 to 63 aircraft per month between 2019 and 2021 will not significantly improve things.</p> <p><strong>A multidimensional crisis for Boeing</strong></p> <p>Boeing is currently going through the <a href="https://www.flightglobal.com/analysis/why-boeing-faces-worst-crisis-in-its-history/135000.article">worst crisis since it was founded</a> in 1916. This crisis is deep, lasting and multidimensional. Above all, it is a reputational crisis, the group having entered a spiral of failures and an era of suspicion. Multiple charges of negligence and willful intention to deceive the authorities could be confirmed by <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/12/24/boeing-reveals-new-very-disturbing-documents-737-max-jetliner-faa-house/2743402001/">internal documents transmitted to the US Congress</a> in December 2019.</p> <p>Boeing to halt 737 Max production after damaged reputation.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/boeing-737-max-air-safety-market-pressures-and-cockpit-technology-113580">After two 737 Max crashes</a> that left 346 dead, many passengers have completely lost confidence in the plane: 40% of travelers are <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/when-will-boeing-737-max-fly-again-and-more-questions/2019/12/16/251d2b02-2039-11ea-b034-de7dc2b5199b_story.html">ready to pay more or take less practical flights</a> to avoid it. New theories question the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/05/business/boeing-737-max.html">safety of other software-independent parts</a> of the aircraft.</p> <p>The crisis is also technological, Boeing has had <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/22/the-year-that-changed-boeing-airplane-maker-struggles-to-regain-footing-since-first-737-max-crash.html">significant difficulties finding reliable solutions</a> to the various <a href="https://theconversation.com/boeing-737-max-air-safety-market-pressures-and-cockpit-technology-113580">dysfunctions</a> of its planes. This in turn led to an industrial crisis: after severely <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/boeing-studies-737-max-output-slowdown-among-scenarios-source-2019-4">slowing down the production</a> of the 737 Max, <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2019/12/16/21025081/boeing-737-max-production-halt-stop-crash-faa-airplane">Boeing stopped it completely</a> in January 2020. Although 12,000 people work directly in the production of the 737 Max, Boeing <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/06/boeing-reassigs-thousands-of-737-max-workers-while-supplier-spirit-mulls-layoffs.html">does not plan to lay off</a> workers for the time being. The consequences may be particularly difficult for the suppliers most dependent on Boeing to bear.</p> <p>Boeing also faces a legal crisis: <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-boeing-737max-lawsuit-board/lawsuit-against-boeing-seeks-to-hold-board-liable-for-737-max-problems-idUSKBN1XS2I3">lengthy and costly lawsuits</a> from victims and airlines could well further tarnish the company’s image. The financial consequences are already considerable with 10 billion euros of cash provisioned to deal with the direct and indirect consequences of the crashes. If the manufacturer had <a href="https://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/boeing-debt-raise-737-max">US$20 billion in funds a few months ago</a>, it would consider <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/boeing-considers-raising-debt-as-max-crisis-takes-toll-11578308401">increasing its debt by at least US$5 billion</a> to meet expected costs in the first half of 2020.</p> <p>Turkish Airlines reach 737 Max aircraft compensation deal from Boeing.</p> <p>To cope with the managerial dimension of the crisis, a financial expert, <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/georgebradt/2019/12/23/why-david-calhouns-onboarding-as-ceo-of-boeing-is-a-work-in-progress/#66ed9d754a32">David Calhoun, was chosen to succeed the engineer Dennis Muilenburg</a> as CEO of Boeing from January 13, 2020. Muilenburg was <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/457dfcf2-25dc-11ea-9a4f-963f0ec7e134">severely criticized for his handling of the crisis</a> and had to resign. Among other things, he was accused of not respecting the independence of air-transport regulatory authorities and not reacting quickly enough.</p> <p><strong>Major geopolitical issues</strong></p> <p>Naturally, Boeing’s difficulties and Airbus’ success are <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/06/business/boeing-airbus-world-trade-organization.html">not to the liking</a> of US president Donald Trump, who saw a <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2019/12/18/economy/boeing-gdp-impact/index.html">large part of the GDP of the United States evaporate</a>. The competition between the two has fueled the trade war between EU and US, which in October 2019 decided to apply a 10% tax on imports of European aircraft. Airbus management denounces an unfair decision directly linked to the current fragility of the Boeing group.</p> <p>WTO sides with US in Airbus subsidy case, allowing US to target $7.5B in EU imports.</p> <p>Airbus and Boeing must prepare for <a href="https://theconversation.com/aeronautique-la-menace-sino-russe-plane-sur-le-duopole-airbus-boeing-118638">the entry into the market of a strong competitor</a>. In 2017, the Chinese group Comac (Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China) and the Russian consortium UAC (United Aircraft Corporation) created the joint venture CRAIC (China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Corporation) in order to launch aircraft they claim are as <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZzbgfidzvI">efficient as those of Airbus and Boeing, but less expensive</a>.</p> <p>For presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, this alliance is part of a major strategic move toward <a href="https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/air-transport/2019-06-14/sino-russian-cr929-has-room-high-tech-input-west">Sino-Russian collaboration</a>. The friendship between the two presidents has led them to join forces against the United States and the trade policy of the government of Donald Trump. The <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZzbgfidzvI">CR929</a> will be a direct competitor to the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGIIGQPUecg">A350 and the B787</a>. With a budget of US$20 billion, this aircraft is scheduled to enter service between 2025 and 2028.</p> <p><em>Written by Oihab Allal-Chérif. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/airbus-again-becomes-the-worlds-leading-aircraft-manufacturer-129595">The Conversation.</a></em></p>

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