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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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Shaming people for flying won’t cut airline emissions – we need a smarter solution

<p>“Fake news”, the chief executive of Lufthansa <a href="https://simpleflying.com/lights%20ansa-ceo-flight-shaming-fake-news/">has called it</a>. But his counterpart at Air France calls it the airline industry’s “<a href="https://fortune.com/2019/11/18/flight-shame-air-france-anne-regail/">biggest challenge</a>”. So does the <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/business-50481107">president of Emirates</a>: “It’s got to be dealt with.”</p> <p>What they’re talking about is “<a href="https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/flygskam-swedish-flying-shame-environment/11297138">flight shame</a>” – the guilt caused by the environmental impacts of air travel. Specifically, the carbon emissions.</p> <p>It’s the reason teen climate-change activist Greta Thunberg refused to fly to New York to address the United Nations Climate Action Summit in September, taking a <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-29/swedish-teen-greta-thunberg-un-summit-new-york-boat-arrival/11459966">14-day sea voyage</a> instead.</p> <p>In Thunberg’s native Sweden, flight shame (“<em>flygskam</em>”) has really taken off, motivating people to not take off. Last year 23% of Swedes reduced their air travel to shrink their carbon footprint, according to a <a href="https://www.wwf.se/pressmeddelande/wwfs-klimatbarometer-allt-fler-valjer-bort-flyg-och-kott-och-kvinnorna-gar-fore-3241404/">WWF survey</a>. Swedish airport operator Swedavia <a href="https://www.swedavia.com/about-swedavia/swedavias-newsroom/">reported</a> passenger numbers at its ten airports in October were down 5% on the previous year.</p> <p>The potency of this guilt is what put Lufthansa’s head, Carsten Spohr, on the defensive at <a href="https://simpleflying.com/lufthansa-ceo-flight-shaming-fake-news/">an aviation industry conference</a> in Berlin in November.</p> <p> “Airlines should not have to be seen as a symbol of climate change. That’s just fake news,” he declared. “Our industry contributes 2.8% of global CO₂ emissions. As I’ve asked before, how about the other 97.2%? Are they contributing to global society with as much good as we do? Are they reducing emissions as much as we do?”</p> <p>Does he have a point? Let’s consider the evidence.</p> <p><strong>How bad are aviation CO₂ emissions?</strong></p> <p>The <a href="https://theicct.org/publications/co2-emissions-commercial-aviation-2018">International Council on Clean Transportation</a> (the same organisation that exposed <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-volkswagen-got-caught-cheating-emissions-tests-by-a-clean-air-ngo-47951">Volkwagen’s diesel emissions fraud</a>), estimates commercial aviation accounted for 2.4% of all carbon emissions from fossil-fuel use in 2018.</p> <p>So it’s true many other <a href="https://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/daviz/change-of-co2-eq-emissions-2#tab-dashboard-01">sectors contribute more</a>.</p> <p>It is also true airlines are making efforts to reduce the amount of carbon they emit per passenger per kilometre. Australia’s aviation industry, for example, has reduced its “emissions intensity” by <a href="https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/environmental/emissions/files/Managing-the-Carbon-Footprint-of-Australian-Aviation.pdf">1.4% a year</a> since 2013.</p> <p>However, the ICCT estimates growth in passenger numbers, and therefore total flights, means total carbon emissions from commercial aviation have ballooned by 32% in five years, way faster <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/sep/19/airlines-co2-emissions-rising-up-to-70-faster-than-predicted">than UN predictions</a>. On that trajectory, the sector’s total emissions could triple by 2050.</p> <p><strong>Alternatives to fossil fuels</strong></p> <p>A revolution in aircraft design could mitigate that trajectory. The International Air Transport Association suggests the advent of hybrid electric aircraft propulsion (similar to how a hybrid car works, taking off and landing using electric power) by about 2030-35 could reduce fossil fuel consumption by up to 40%. Fully electric propulsion after that could eliminate fossil fuels completely.</p> <p>Even with the advent of electric airliners by mid-century, the huge cost and <a href="https://www.bts.gov/content/average-age-aircraft">long lifespan of commercial jets</a> means it could still take decades to wean fleets off fossil fuels.</p> <p>A shorter-term solution might be replacing fossil fuels with “sustainable aviation fuels” such as biofuels made from plant matter. But in 2018 just <a href="https://www.iea.org/commentaries/are-aviation-biofuels-ready-for-take-off">15 million litres of aviation biofuel</a> were produced – less than 0.1% of total aviation fuel consumption. The problem is it costs significantly more than standard kerosene-based aviation fuel. Greater use depends on the price coming down, or the price of fossil fuels going up.</p> <p><strong>Pricing carbon</strong></p> <p>This brings us to the role of economics in decarbonising aviation.</p> <p>An economist will tell you, for most goods the simplest way to reduce its consumption is to increase its price, or reduce the price of alternatives. This is the basis of all market-based solutions to reduce carbon emissions.</p> <p>One way is to impose a tax on carbon, the same way taxes are levied on alcohol and tobacco, to deter consumption as well as to raise revenue to pay the costs use imposes on society.</p> <p>The key problem with this approach is a government must guess at the price needed to achieve the desired reduction in demand. How the tax revenue <a href="https://energypolicy.columbia.edu/research/report/distributional-implications-carbon-tax">is spent</a>is also crucial to public acceptance.</p> <p>In France, <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/news/the-fuel-tax-rise-is-dead-so-why-are-the-yellow-vests-protests-escalating-in-france">opposition to higher fuel taxes</a> led the government to instead announce an “<a href="https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/france-airline-eco-tax">eco-tax</a>” on flights.</p> <p>This proposed tax <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/ajimpact/france-eco-tax-flights-criticised-airlines-activists-190709143311915.html">will range from</a> €1.50 (about A$2.40) for economy flights within the European Union to €18 (about A$29.30) for business-class flights out of the EU. Among those who think this price signal is too low to <a href="https://www.wired.co.uk/article/plane-tax-eco-france-sweden">make any real difference </a> is Sam Fankhauser, director of the <a href="http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/">Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment</a> in London.</p> <p><strong>Trading and offsets</strong></p> <p>Greater outcome certainty is the reason many economists champion an emissions trading scheme (also known as “cap and trade”). Whereas a tax seeks to reduce carbon emissions by raising the price of emission, a trading scheme sets a limit on emissions and leaves it to the market to work out the price that achieves it.</p> <p>One advantage economists see in emissions trading is that it creates both disincentive and incentives. Emitters don’t pay a penalty to the government. They effectively pay other companies to achieve reductions on their behalf through the trade of “carbon credits”.</p> <p>The European Union already has an <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/ets_en">emissions trading scheme</a> that covers flights within the <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Glossary:European_Economic_Area_(EEA)">European Economic Area</a>, but it has been criticised for limiting incentives for companies to reduce emissions because they can cheaply buy credits, such as from overseas projects such as tree-planting schemes.</p> <p>This led to the paradox of scheme delivering a reported <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/ets/allowances/aviation_en">100 million tonnes</a> of “reductions/offsets” from Europe’s aviation sector between 2012 and 2018 even while the sector’s emissions <a href="https://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/climate/trends-and-projections-in-europe/trends-and-projections-in-europe-2019/the-eu-emissions-trading-system">increased</a>.</p> <p>A better solution might come from a well-designed international trading scheme. The basis for this may be the global agreement known as the <a href="https://www.icao.int/environmental-protection/CORSIA/Pages/default.aspx">Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation</a>. Already 81 countries, representing three-quarters of international aviation activity, have <a href="https://www.icao.int/environmental-protection/CORSIA/Pages/state-pairs.aspx">agreed to participate</a>.</p> <p>What seems clear is that guilt and voluntary action to reduce carbon emissions has its limits. This is suggested by the data from Sweden, the heartland of flight shame.</p> <p>Behind the 5% reduction in passenger numbers reported by Swedavia is a major difference between domestic passengers (down 10%) and international passengers (down just 2%). That might have something to do with the limited travel alternatives when crossing an ocean.</p> <p>For most of us to consider emulating Greta Thunberg by taking a sailboat instead, the price of a flight would have to be very high indeed.</p> <p><em>Written by Duygu Yengin and Tracey Dodd. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/shaming-people-for-flying-wont-cut-airline-emissions-we-need-a-smarter-solution-127257">The Conversation.</a> </em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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Do this on an aeroplane to change how you fly

<p>Before you book your next trip, learn these insider tricks that will make flying a whole lot easier and more pleasant.</p> <p><strong>Travel like a local</strong></p> <p>Andy Abramson, the CEO of Comunicano who was named Business Traveller of the Year by <em>Business Traveller</em> magazine in 2015, suggests always using local SIM cards in mobile phones to get better speeds, connectivity and quality. “Uploads of photos go faster; if you need to be on a conference call, the quality is always better, as you are connecting locally to the provider’s point of presence; and there’s no need to buy any add-on bundles from your local carrier,” he says. You can get a SIM card at most local and international airports.</p> <p><strong>Sign up for free business programs</strong></p> <p>If you have a business – even if it’s not incorporated or profitable – sign up for airline’s free business rewards programs, Suro advises. You’ll get points every time you or your employees fly, which are over and above your frequent-flyer miles. Suro says that you can redeem those points for free flights, lounge access, upgrades, elite status and other goodies.</p> <p><strong>Access information without Wi-Fi</strong></p> <p>Chloe Vallencia, a frequent flyer and the owner of Couple-Gift, realised that she often doesn’t have easy access to Wi-Fi when she’s travelling abroad. So she uses the app Maps.Me to search for itineraries, maps and locations. It’s easy to use and doesn’t require an internet connection. But getting Wi-Fi isn’t always as impossible as you might think, especially when you’re on the way to your destination: <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/say-goodbye-airport-boredom-these-global-wi-fi-passwords">Make sure to bookmark this map with airport Wi-Fi passwords all over the world.</a></p> <p><strong>Check on transferable flights</strong></p> <p>Plans change, and sometimes, vacations are cancelled. To add to the disaster, many flights are non-refundable, and travellers end up losing everything they shelled out for their holidays. “A very costly mistake many still do is not checking whether their flight is transferable,” says Galena Stavreva, a London-based frequent flyer and travel expert. “If it is, the name of the passenger can be changed, the reservation can be sold to someone else, and the seller can recover at least some of the cost of the flights.” So before booking your flight, check ahead of time to see the restrictions—and consider not booking the flight (even if it seems like a good deal) if it’s not transferable.</p> <p><em>Written by Danielle Braff. This article first appeared in </em><em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/flightstravel-hints-tips/13-aeroplane-hacks-that-will-change-the-way-you-fly">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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Should we be worried that the chemicals from sunscreen can get into our blood?

<p>A <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2733085#graphical-abstract-tab">recent study</a> published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has attracted <a href="https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/health/study-finds-sunscreen-chemicals-leach-into-bloodstream-within-a-day-ng-b881191385z">widespread media attention</a> after it found chemicals contained in sunscreen could get into people’s bloodstreams:</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.nps.org.au/australian-prescriber/articles/sunscreens">variety of different chemicals</a> in sunscreen are used to absorb or scatter UV light – both long wavelength (UVA) and short wavelength (UVB) – to protect us from the harmful effects of the Sun.</p> <p>But while small amounts of these chemicals may enter the bloodsteam, there is no evidence they are harmful. Ultimately, using sunscreen <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21135266">reduces your risk of skin cancer</a>, and this study gives us no reason to stop using it.</p> <p><strong>Why was the study done?</strong></p> <p>The US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recently updated its <a href="https://www.fda.gov/downloads/drugs/guidancecomplianceregulatoryinformation/guidances/ucm473464.pdf">guidelines on sunscreen safety</a>. The guidelines indicate that if long-term users were likely to have a plasma concentration of greater than 0.5 nanograms per millilitre of blood, further safety studies would need to be undertaken.</p> <p>This level is just a trigger for investigation; it does not indicate whether the chemical has any actual toxic effect.</p> <p>The <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2733085#graphical-abstract-tab">JAMA study</a> was done to determine whether commonly used sunscreen compounds exceeded these limits, which would indicate that further safety studies were required under the new guidelines.</p> <p><strong>So what did the study do?</strong></p> <p>The study looked at the absorption of some common organic sunscreen ingredients (<a href="https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/51040">avobenzone</a>, <a href="https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/4632">oxybenzone</a>, <a href="https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/22571">octocrylene</a>, and <a href="https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Ecamsule">ecamsule</a>), in 24 healthy participants after they applied four commercially available sunscreen formulations.</p> <p>Each formulation contained three of the four organic sunscreen ingredients listed above. The concentrations of each individual compound were typical of commercial sunscreens and well within the permitted levels. For example, they all contained 3% avobenzone, and the <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/book/9-permitted-ingredients">maximum permitted concentration</a> is 5%.</p> <p>The researchers split the participants into four groups: two groups used a spray, one used cream, and the other used a lotion. The participants applied their assigned product to 75% of their body four times a day, for four days.</p> <p>The researchers then examined the absorption of these compounds by measuring participants’ blood over seven days using highly sensitive tests.</p> <p><strong>What did they find?</strong></p> <p>In all subjects, the blood levels of the sunscreen chemicals rapidly rose above the FDA guidance levels regardless of the sunscreen formulation (spray, lotion or cream).</p> <p>The levels remained above the FDA guidance levels for at least two days.</p> <p>But the conditions of the test were extreme. Some 75% of body surface was covered, and the sunscreen was reapplied every two hours and under conditions where the compounds were unlikely to be broken down or removed (for example by swimming or sweating).</p> <p>This was deliberately a test of a worst-case scenario, as mandated by <a href="https://www.fda.gov/downloads/drugs/guidancecomplianceregulatoryinformation/guidances/ucm473464.pdf">FDA guidelines</a> to determine whether safety testing was needed.</p> <p>Of course, going above the FDA guidance levels does not indicate there is a risk; only that evaluation is required.</p> <p><strong>What about in Australia?</strong></p> <p>Australia’s FDA-equivalent body uses the European Union’s “non-clinical” <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/ws-sg-index">guidelines</a> to evaluate sunscreens and ensure they are safe to use.</p> <p>The EU guidelines are based on <a href="https://www.nps.org.au/australian-prescriber/articles/sunscreens">several studies</a> which show the components of sunscreens are not poisonous or harmful to human health.</p> <p>Looking specifically at the chemical <a href="https://echa.europa.eu/registration-dossier/-/registered-dossier/14835/7/7/2">avobenzone</a>, the safety studies show no toxic effect or potential harm to human health, aside from a small risk of skin sensitivity.</p> <p>The level of avobenzone reported in the blood after regularly applying sunscreen, (around 4 nanograms per millilitre) is around 1,000 times lower than the threshold levels for <a href="https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/85861">harm to skin cells</a>. And the safety studies report no increased risk for cancer.</p> <p>European researchers have also investigated whether the chemicals in sunscreens can mimic the effects of the female sex hormone estrogen. They found the levels would have to be <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/consumer_safety/opinions/sccnfp_opinions_97_04/sccp_out145_en.htm">100 times higher</a> than are absorbed during normal sunscreen use to have any effect.</p> <p><strong>The bottom line</strong></p> <p>This study found that under a worst case scenario, blood levels of organic sunscreen chemicals exceeded the FDA guidance threshold. Under more realistic use the levels will be even lower.</p> <p>But even under this worst case scenario, the levels are at least 100 times below the European Union’s safety threshold.</p> <p>Given the known safety margins and the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21135266">proven ability of sunscreen to prevent skin cancer</a>, there is no reason to avoid or reduce your sunscreen use. <strong>– Ian Musgrave</strong></p> <p><strong>Blind peer review</strong></p> <p>The research check is a fair and reasonable summary and interpretation of the JAMA paper on the absorption of active sunscreen ingredients.</p> <p>It is worth noting that the reference to “extreme” conditions in which the research was conducted is correct, however, in terms of dose, it does align with the recommended level of use of sunscreen. That is, reapply every two hours and use 2mg per 1cm₂. A single “dose” is recommended at 5ml for each arm, leg, front torso, back and head and face, or 7 x 5 = 35ml.</p> <p>Four such doses suggest each subject would have applied 140ml of sunscreen each day; more than a full 110ml tube, which is a common package size for sunscreen in Australia. This is extremely unlikely to occur. Most people use half or less of the recommended dose per application, and few reapply. Even fewer do so four times in a day. </p> <p><em>Written by Terri Slevin. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/research-check-should-we-be-worried-that-the-chemicals-from-sunscreen-can-get-into-our-blood-116738">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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How to pick the right sunscreen for you

<p>There’s an enormous variety of sunscreens to choose from. <a href="https://www.woolworths.com.au/shop/search/products?searchTerm=sunscreen">Major</a> <a href="https://shop.coles.com.au/a/a-national/everything/search/sunscreen">supermarkets</a> each sell more than 60 options. And one large <a href="https://www.chemistwarehouse.com.au/search?searchtext=sunscreen&amp;searchmode=allwords">pharmacy chain</a> sells more than 100.</p> <p>So how do you choose sunscreen that’s right for you?</p> <p><strong>The big 4 must haves</strong></p> <p>Sunscreens need to tick these <a href="https://wiki.cancer.org.au/policy/Fact_sheet_-_Sunscreen">four major boxes</a>:</p> <p><strong>1. The sun protection factor, or SPF, should be at least 30, preferably 50.</strong> SPF describes how much UV gets to the skin. SPF50 allows just 1/50th (2%) of the UV to reach the skin</p> <p><strong>2. Go for broad spectrum protection</strong>, which filters the <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs40257-017-0290-0">full UV light spectrum</a>. UVB rays (290-320nm wavelengths) are responsible for most sunburn and DNA damage, but UVA rays (320-400nm) also cause DNA damage and accelerate skin ageing</p> <p><strong>3. Aim for water resistant formulations</strong>, which <a href="https://www.dermcoll.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/ACD-Position-Statement-Sunscreen-March-2017-updated.pdf">stay on longer</a> in sweaty conditions, and when exercising or swimming. But no sunscreen is completely waterproof</p> <p><strong>4. Make sure the sunscreen is approved in Australia</strong>. Approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is the final must-have. All sunscreens for sale in Australia must meet the <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/book/3-regulatory-categories-sunscreens">TGA’s requirements</a> and will carry an AUST number on the packaging. They can only contain ingredients from an approved list that have been tested for safety and efficacy. And the SPF, water resistance and broad spectrum action must be established by <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/book/4-labelling-and-advertising">testing on human skin</a>. Sunscreens bought overseas don’t necessarily have these safeguards, so proceed with caution.</p> <p>Once you’ve ticked off the big four, you can limit your options by how the sunscreen is delivered, its ingredients, and other factors.</p> <p><strong>Pump pack, roll-on or spray?</strong></p> <p>The sunscreen delivery system is more important than you might think. Sunscreen works best when you <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/community-qa/sunscreens-information-consumers">use lots</a> — a teaspoon for each limb, a teaspoon each for your front and back, and a teaspoon for your face and neck.</p> <p>This is easiest to achieve with pump packs or squeeze tubes. People apply far less sunscreen when they use a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/fullarticle/1149913">roll-on</a>. Spray-on sunscreen is <a href="https://www.cancer.org.au/news/blog/prevention/cancer-council-and-sunscreens-what-you-need-to-know-this-summer.html">even worse</a>; the TGA recommends you apply <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/behind-news/be-sun-smart-wear-sunscreen">one-third of a whole can</a> for proper coverage.</p> <p>How to use sunscreen (Cancer Council)</p> <p><strong>Look and feel, sensitive skin and kids</strong></p> <p>Now we get down to the finer choices in sunscreen, and they depend on your personal concerns and preferences. Here are a few common choices.</p> <p><strong>How to avoiding looking greasy</strong></p> <p>Greasiness is the most off-putting thing about sunscreen for <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28449221">many</a> <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ajd.12636">Australians</a>.</p> <p>But there are non-greasy formulations, often marketed as “dry-touch” or “matte finish”. These can be comparatively expensive, but worth it if greasiness is your main barrier to using sunscreen.</p> <p>Your skin may still look shiny immediately after applying it. But it should return to a matte finish within 10-20 minutes as the sunscreen settles into the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin.</p> <p><strong>How about sunscreen for sensitive or acne-prone skin?</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/sensitive-skin/">Sensitive skin</a> is irritated by a wide variety of cosmetics, lotions and fragrances. So, you can use ones marketed as kids’ sunscreen because these tend to be fragrance-free.</p> <p>You can also choose sunscreens with ingredients such as <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/literature-review-safety-titanium-dioxide-and-zinc-oxide-nanoparticles-sunscreens">zinc oxide or titanium dioxide</a>, which <a href="https://www.dermcoll.edu.au/atoz/sun-protection-sunscreens/">partially reflect and also absorb</a> UV rays.</p> <p>Those so-called physical blockers are <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0887233311001585?via%3Dihub">very unlikely</a> to cause allergic or irritant rashes. But they appear white on the skin, unless you chose an option with nano-sized particles, which are invisible to the eye.</p> <p>If your skin is prone to acne, <a href="https://www.dermcoll.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/ACD-Position-Statement-Sunscreen-March-2017-updated.pdf">good options</a> are lotions or gels, rather than creams, and products marked oil-free or non-comedogenic.</p> <p>Sensitive and acne-prone skin is often limited to the face and neck, so it can be cheaper to have a specialist sunscreen for those parts and a cheaper one for the rest of your body.</p> <p><a href="https://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/sunscreen-allergy/">Sunscreen allergies</a> are rarer but do affect up to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673698121682?via%3Dihub">3% of people</a>. They’re generally caused by a single sunscreen component, usually preservatives or fragrances. A dermatologist can patch test individual ingredients, which you can then avoid by checking labels.</p> <p><strong>What’s the best sunscreen for my kids?</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26101815">Parents worry</a> about the effects of both UV exposure and chemical exposure. And of course, small children can be pretty anti-sunscreen.</p> <p>All Australian sunscreen chemicals are approved by the TGA and are <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1753-6405.12873">recommended for daily use</a>, even on kids. Plus, many kids’ sunscreens are made with sensitive skin in mind, because skin sensitivity is <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1468-2494.2012.00754.x">more common in young children</a>. If your child doesn’t have <a href="https://dermnetnz.org/topics/sensitive-skin/">sensitive skin</a> (skin that reacts with itching or burning sensations to a wide range of body care products), adult sunscreens are fine too.</p> <p>However, <a href="https://www.dermcoll.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/ACD-Position-Statement-Sunscreen-March-2017-updated.pdf">babies under six months old</a> need a physical blocker sunscreen.</p> <p><strong>What not to do</strong></p> <p>The <a href="https://iheard.com.au/question/i-heard-of-a-recipe-for-natural-homemade-sunscreen-do-these-work/">Cancer Council</a> and the <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/blogs/tga-topics/everything-you-ever-wanted-know-about-sunscreens-were-afraid-ask">TGA</a> strongly recommend against homemade sunscreens.</p> <p>Natural oils and other ingredients promoted in recipes found online generally have <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325217.php#1">a low SPF</a>. And, as they have not been tested for causing irritation, can react unpredictably with the skin.</p> <p><a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/book/2-therapeutic-sunscreen-or-cosmetic-sunscreen">Cosmetics that contain sunscreen</a>, such as lipstick or foundation with an SPF rating, are not regulated as tightly as regular sunscreens in Australia.</p> <p>Cosmetics with an SPF 30 or higher can have good protection <a href="https://wiki.cancer.org.au/policy/Fact_sheet_-_Sunscreen">when you first apply them</a>. But like regular sunscreens, they need to be reapplied throughout the day. That’s not something we usually do, unless you’re going for the caked-on look.</p> <p><em>Written by Katie Lee and Erin McMeniman. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-pick-the-right-sunscreen-when-youre-blinded-by-choice-125881">The Conversation.</a></em></p>

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Koalas are the face of Australian tourism: what now after the fires?

<p>In 1936, <a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/201215302?searchTerm=Koala%20as%20tourist%20attraction&amp;searchLimits=">The Evening News in Rockhampton wrote</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>The time has arrived when Australians must decide whether or not they will accept responsibility for the perpetuation of the koala […]</em></p> <p><em>It seems extraordinary that this animal which is so greatly admired, not only by overseas visitors, but by Australians, is being allowed to suffer extinction.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>The preservation of the koala was not talked about so much in environmentalist terms: instead, the koala was seen as a crucial icon of Australian identity and tourism.</p> <p>The earliest picture postcard featuring a koala I have found was postmarked 1903, and it has been a mainstay of tourism advertising ever since.</p> <p>In the latest ad from Tourism Australia, the koala has been recruited, <a href="https://twitter.com/Australia/status/1209852669281669122">once again, to market Australia</a>, starring alongside Kylie Minogue, chilling in a graceful eucalyptus on Sydney Harbour.</p> <p>But amid Australia’s ongoing bush fire crisis, <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/out-of-respect-kylie-minogue-matesong-tourism-australia-ad-pulled-amid-bushfire-coverage-20200103-p53opl.html">airing of the digital ad has been “paused”</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/dec/27/australias-environment-minister-says-up-to-30-of-koalas-killed-in-nsw-mid-north-coast-fires">Up to 30% of the koala population</a> from the NSW mid-north coast is expected to be lost in the fires, alongside <a href="https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/kangaroo-island-bushfire-pristine-wildlife-including-koalas-dunnarts-feared-lost/news-story/9a5cbde8e5e4643a93035d12110204e9">50% of the koalas on Kangaroo Island</a> – the last remaining wild population not infected by deadly chlamydia.</p> <p>Eighty four years on from the Evening News’ story, we are still talking about <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/25/world/australia/koala-fires-functionally-extinct.html">the possible extinction of koalas</a>, our national tourism icon.</p> <p><strong>The creation of an icon</strong></p> <p>Koalas were exhibited at Melbourne Zoo from 1861 and at Taronga Zoo from 1914. But at the same time, koalas were hunted ruthlessly for fur <a href="https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1046/j.1523-1739.2000.99382.x">throughout much of the 19th century</a>. This practice only came to a halt at the end of the 1920s.<span class="attribution"><span class="source"></span></span></p> <p>By the 1930s, three koala-themed wildlife parks – the Koala Park in Pennant Hills, Sydney, Lone Pine Koala Park on the Brisbane River and the Adelaide Snake Park and Koala Farm – had opened for business.</p> <p>1933 saw the publication of Dorothy Wall’s <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1455149.Blinky_Bill?from_search=true&amp;qid=8noWFQRKGJ&amp;rank=1">Blinky Bill</a>. Zoologist Ellis Troughton’s book <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furred_Animals_of_Australia">Furred Animals of Australia</a> (1931) and natural historian Charles Barrett, with <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Koala-Story-Australias-Native-Bear/dp/1440495815">Koala: The Story of the Native Bear</a> (1937), also influenced public attitudes towards the native animal.</p> <p>In 1934, <a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/28019823?searchTerm=Koala%20Park%20an%20Australian%20sanctuary&amp;searchLimits=l-title=35">the Sydney Morning Herald called</a> the koala “Australia’s national pet”.</p> <p>Perhaps most famously, it was the star of a <a href="https://360.advertisingweek.com/why-does-this-koala-hate-qantas-airways">Qantas advertising campaign</a> from 1967 to 1992.</p> <p><strong>The loss of a tourism icon</strong></p> <p>A <a href="https://www.savethekoala.com/sites/savethekoala.com/files/uploads/Conrad%202014%20The%20Economic%20Value%20of%20the%20Koala%5B2%5D.pdf">2014 study</a> suggests koala tourism could now be worth as much as A$3.2 billion to the Australian economy and account for up to 30,000 jobs.</p> <p>In 2020, Australia has 68 zoos and wildlife parks exhibiting just under 900 koalas. A photograph with a koala is a must-have souvenir for many international tourists.</p> <p>But it is impossible to look at Kylie hanging out with her koala mates without bringing to mind the shocking images of badly burned koalas and other wildlife as the devastating wild fires destroy millions of hectares of bushland habitat.</p> <p>The plump, relaxed, pampered koalas in the Tourism Australia ad are far removed from the horrific realities of fire. These catastrophic fires have compounded the threatening processes that already affect koala populations: habitat destruction and fragmentation, disease, car accidents and dog attack.</p> <p>Recent research has shown koalas are also <a href="https://www.iucn.org/sites/dev/files/import/downloads/fact_sheet_red_list_koala_v2.pdf">vulnerable to climate change</a> through changes in the nutritional status of eucalyptus leaves, excessively hot temperatures and these canopy-destroying wildfires.</p> <p><strong>A life beyond extinction?</strong></p> <p>Australians have clearly shown they are willing to take action to protect the animal, with the <a href="https://10daily.com.au/news/australia/a191119bdupl/koala-bushfire-gofundme-second-most-successful-aussie-fundraiser-of-all-time-20191129">GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital</a> raising almost A$2 million.</p> <p>The outpouring of emotion and financial support reflects the strong connection that Australians feel for the koala, formed out of the interplay of the animal’s baby-like features and its multitude of representations in popular culture, including, of course, tourism marketing.</p> <p>Sadly, it is more than likely the koala will go on serving the national interest through its role in tourism even if it was to tragically <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-report-claims-koalas-are-functionally-extinct-but-what-does-that-mean-116665">go extinct</a> in the wild.</p> <p>Most koala tourism is based on experiences with captive koalas. And extinction hasn’t been a problem elsewhere: Tasmanian Tourism uses a stylised image of the <a href="https://theconversation.com/tasmanian-tigers-were-going-extinct-before-we-pushed-them-over-the-edge-88947">thylacine</a> in its logo.</p> <p>The long term survival of the koala ultimately rests with governments and their policies on forest clearing, fire management and climate change.</p> <p>If future tourists to Australia are to experience the koala in the wild, it is imperative that governments act now to strengthen the protection of the species and most crucially, its habitat.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/129347/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kevin-markwell-170986">Kevin Markwell</a>, Professor in Tourism, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/koalas-are-the-face-of-australian-tourism-what-now-after-the-fires-129347">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Prague and beyond: Travelling overseas

<p>In a darkened cemetery beneath brooding skies, a crow picks at scraps beside a crooked tombstone. From outside, the chapel looks anything but remarkable; sandstone brick, arching stain glass windows, pointed spires stabbing skywards towards encroaching clouds. But once we step inside, it’s a whole other story.  Stacks of human skulls and bones have been arranged into neat pyramids in every corner.</p> <p>An ornate chandelier fashioned entirely from human bones dangles from the ceiling like some macabre masterpiece from the chambers of Nosferatu. Evidence of death is all around and yet the scene has been arranged with such poise and delicacy, there’s a chilling beauty about it.</p> <p>My wife and I are at Sedlec Ossuary, a tiny Roman Catholic Chapel located in the picturesque town of Kutna Hora an hour east of Prague. Said to contain the skeletons of between 40,000 to 70,000 people who perished at war or at the hands of the plague, the modern incarnation was arranged by a woodcarver known as Frantisek Rint, in 1870.</p> <p>Surprisingly perhaps, the chapel now attracts some 200,000 visitors a year but it’s just one of many sights easily accessed from the Czech Republic’s celebrated capital, Prague. Heading back there by train, we enjoy exploring less ghoulish sights — Prague’s longstanding reputation as the jewel of Bohemia is not without good reason.</p> <p>Founded in the late 9th Century, the Czech capital is a sprawling city divided into ten districts, but its beautiful Old Town area is relatively compact and easily navigated by foot. It’s not hard to pass a couple of days simply roaming the Old Quarter with no set script, there’s so much to see. All that’s really required are a good pair of walking shoes and a keen eye for beauty.</p> <p>We begin at Old Town Square, a hub of historic churches, palaces and statues blending Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture in impossibly beautiful picture-postcard fashion. Serving as Prague’s main market place for over 1000 years, the city’s nucleus is home to most of the major sights including the Gothic Tyn Church dating back to the 14th Century and the famous Astronomical Clock, the world’s oldest of its kind still in operation.</p> <p>Prague is not a city built in an orderly grid formation. In fact, much of its charm lies in the ramshackle nature of its layout. From the Old Town Square, a labyrinth of cobbled streets and side alleys snake off in all directions like tentacles from an octopus.</p> <p>Taking pot luck, we venture down many at random, only to be rewarded each time with a new discovery; a side alley beer hall with long wooden benches and tall glasses of Pilsner, a unique shop selling old photographic prints, even a slick restaurant in the underbelly of a church. It’s like a game of choose your own adventure.</p> <p>We continue exploring over several days, meandering the iconic Charles Bridge with its 30 statues exploring the vast courtyards of Prague Castle, even taking a historic cruise along the Vltava River for another perspective.</p> <p>Soon it’s time to head out of the city once more. Taking a train two and a half hours south, we arrive at the charming town of Cesky Krumlov at dusk. A dense Autumn fog shrouds the cobbled streets beside the rushing Vltava River, candles flicker outside the heavy oak doors of bars and restaurants, and it isn’t hard to imagine arriving here on horseback as a medieval knight.</p> <p>Built alongside the s-shaped contour of the Vltava River in the mid 12th Century, Cesky Krumlov has become one of Europe’s most celebrated small towns and in peak summer, the crowds certainly reflect its fame. Come in late Autumn or winter though and you’ll find the atmosphere infinitely more tranquil.</p> <p>In some ways, it’s as though someone pointed a miniaturising ray gun at Prague and zapped it into the town of Cesky Krumlov. The parallels are many; a perfectly preserved castle, an old town square, baroque and renaissance architecture and the Vltava River. Only here you can walk from one side of town to the other in about twenty minutes. Consequently, many travellers make the mistake of assuming this is a day trip from Prague. It isn’t. Stay at least a couple of nights. In spite of its compact size, there is so much to do here, though none of it requires copious amounts of planning, you can just make it up as you go along. The galleries are plentiful and you’ll want to linger longer in almost all of them.</p> <p>Without glancing at a guidebook, we watch live bears prowl the castle grounds, learn history at boutique museums, take a horseback ride through surrounding woodland, marvel at historic architecture, dine on hearty goulash dishes, and yes, drink more than our fair share of Pilsners.</p> <p>This is the beauty of travelling the Czech Republic – you don’t need an extensive checklist. Just turn up, do as the Czechs do, and the rest takes care of itself. </p> <p><em>Written by Guy Wilkinson. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/prague-and-beyond/">MyDiscoveries.</a> </em></p>

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How to take the best travel photos with your iPhone

<p>Most people think you have to have a professional-grade camera or have a certain knack for photography to capture photos worth sharing. But, now-a-days, the camera on your iPhone is advanced enough to deliver high quality photos…as long as you remember these tips and tricks:</p> <p>In order to get the most out of your iPhone on your next adventure, make sure to clear-up some storage on your phone before you leave home. This can be done by connecting your iPhone to a computer and offloading photos and videos from your phone to your computer. This can also be done by deleting unnecessary applications from your iPhone or deleting accidental photos or irrelevant videos.</p> <p>First things first, ensure your phone has full (or close to full) charge on the battery. You will find that more so than simply making calls or checking texts, taking photographs and videos will use up battery life fast. If your iPhone is already quick to lose battery charge, consider investing in a small portable external battery. These are powerful batteries that you charge in addition to your iPhone at home base and bring with you during your outings.</p> <p>Next, take some time to get familiar with iPhone camera settings and options.</p> <p>1. Traveling alone or don’t trust a partner/stranger to take a good photo? Switch the camera to selfie-mode simply by tapping the switch camera icon in the corner of your iPhone camera screen.</p> <p>2. HDR: When the HDR is turned on, your iPhone will take 2 photos in rapid succession; one photo will be a low-light photo, and the other a high-light photo.</p> <p>The two photos are combined automatically and produce amazingly well-lit and vibrant photos.</p> <p><strong>TIPS FOR TRYING:</strong> use the HDR setting when taking a photo where there is not much movement going on in the frame. Test HDR out during a sunrise or sunset where the light is especially amazing!</p> <p>3. In iPhone settings, you can switch-on the photo grid. After you have switched it on, you will see a grid superimposed on the camera screen that will divide the photo into 9 small squares.</p> <p>The lines are there to help you to take photos that are beautifully composed (meaning objects are centered and horizons are flat). The grid doesn’t show-up in the final photograph, it is only a guide when taking photos.</p> <p>4. Try taking a burst of photos. iPhone allows you to take photos in immediate succession simply by holding down the circular take photo button on the iPhone screen.</p> <p>The number of photos captured is a direct result of how long you hold-down the take photo button (a word to the wise: photos are taken at very high speed rates, so if you hold the button down for more than a few seconds, you might end up with 10-20+ photos!).</p> <p>When you take a burst of photos, not all of the photos show up in your camera roll; only what the iPhone determines is the best, least-blurry version, will be shown. However, the beauty of burst photos is that you can pick the best of many.</p> <p>In order to look through each of the many photos taken in that burst, open the photo iPhone displayed in your camera roll, and click ‘select’.</p> <p>Here you will be able to scroll through all of the photos in the burst and select the one or more photos you wish to keep.</p> <p><strong>TIPS FOR TRYING:</strong> use the burst method when taking group photos– with so many pictures taken in a second, the is bound to be a photo where everyone’s eyes are open! Also, take a burst of photos when trying to capture something in action; this feature can be used instead of video.</p> <p>5. On newer iPhones, you can use the self-timer setting. This will direct the camera to count down from 1s, 5s, or 10s before taking a photo.</p> <p>A helpful numeric countdown flashes on the screen to inform you how much time you have to get in position before the photo is taken. Also, the flash flashes every second during the countdown and then flashes rapidly right before it takes the photo– this is to let you know when the photo going to be taken if you can’t see the iPhone screen countdown.</p> <p>To make things even better, the camera not only takes one photo, but automatically takes a 10-photo burst when the countdown is up so that you can select the best one!</p> <p>6. Last but not least, one of the best little known tricks for capturing photos on your iPhone is this: when the camera app is open on your screen, the increase-volume button on the side of your phone, when pushed, acts as secondary take photo button!</p> <p>Like with the circular take photo button on the screen, you can take a burst of photos by holding down the volume-up button!</p> <p><strong>TIPS FOR TRYING:</strong> Sometimes, while in selfie-mode it is hard to hold the phone and take a good photo of yourself, that’s when you can use the increase-volume button on the side of your iPhone instead!</p> <p><em>Written by Luray Joy. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/how-to-take-enviable-travel-photos-with-your-iphone/">MyDiscoveries.</a></em></p>

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These New Zealand aviation experiences are a must try

<p>New Zealand’s diverse landscapes offer an ever-unfolding natural backdrop for flight-seeing and aerial adventures so it’s no wonder that aviation tourism is a popular activity all over the country.</p> <p>New Zealand by air makes for spectacular sightseeing. Vast coastal expanses, high mountain peaks, deep fresh-water lakes, braided rivers, dramatic fiords and colourful volcanic landforms are some of the scenic highlights of the land – celebrated as the home of Middle-earth – that are best revealed from above.</p> <p>Most regions have multiple aviation adventures and activities – from flight-seeing and helicopter landings on an active volcano or a grand tour of the highest peaks in the Southern Alps, to champagne picnics in wilderness locations, West Coast glaciers heli-hikes or heli-ski excursions into remote snowy expanses.</p> <p>Many luxury lodges, wilderness retreats and city hotels have helipads offering easy access, transfers to and from, and the-skies-the-limit activity options – including weddings in majestic natural locations.</p> <p><strong>North Island aviation activities</strong></p> <p><strong>White Island –</strong> an active marine volcano off the North Island’s Bay of Plenty coast – is a spectacular and unique landmark. Scenic flights over the island operate from Tauranga, Rotorua and Whakatane, along with helicopter tours that land on the island for a hiking option.</p> <p>New Zealand’s famed central North Island volcanic plateau also sets the scene for flights over Lake Taupo, a cluster of volcanic peaks – Tarawera, Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe – and the treasured dual world heritage Tongariro National Park.</p> <p><strong>South Island aviation activities</strong></p> <p>The South Island, with its sweeping Southern Alps mountain chain, and the continuous parade of lakes and glaciers is an aerial feast.</p> <p>Early morning balloon flights take in the vast expanse of the Canterbury Plains, Pacific seaboard and the snowy mountain peaks while The Grand Traverse is a dramatic scenic flight exploring the highest peaks on both sides of the island and over Mt Cook and Westland national parks.</p> <p>Aviation pioneer Mount Cook Ski Planes has been landing fixed-wing planes on a glacier for more than 50 years – and it’s still the only opportunity in the world for tourists to make this kind of glacier landing.</p> <p>In Westland National Park, helicopters take tourists on a spectacular ascent onto the twin West Coast glaciers – Franz Josef and Fox – with an ice landing and hike across the frozen landscape.</p> <p>The ski fields of the Southern Alps are the launching pad for heli-ski excursions away from the crowds on resort slopes. Methven Heliski operates from a Canterbury high country sheep station, taking powder hounds into the mighty glaciated Arrowsmiths mountain range to make first tracks across the fresh powder.</p> <p>Queenstown’s Over the Top luxury helicopter excursions reveal stunning hidden gems that set the scene for gourmet picnics, extreme golfing, exclusive wine and fly fishing experiences.</p> <p><strong>Home of Middle-earth</strong></p> <p>Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film fans from around the world know New Zealand as the home of Middle-earth, and flying is the best way to see some of the top Lord of the Rings tourism destinations – guided by locals who helped find the locations and transport the stars during filming.</p> <p>In the Nelson Tasman region, Reid Helicopters operates flights to stunning Lord of the Rings locations in the beautiful Abel Tasman and Nelson Lakes national parks.</p> <p>From Queenstown, Glacier Southern Lakes, Trilogy Trail and Heli Works share insider stories on a string of Middle-earth locations throughout the Southern Lakes region.</p> <p><strong>In the pilot seat</strong></p> <p>New Zealand is an attractive destination for experienced pilots who want to take the controls while experiencing scenic highlights.</p> <p>Flight charter companies and aero clubs throughout New Zealand rent planes for self-fly excursions or offer flying lessons.</p> <p>Omarama, surrounded by the Southern Alps, is a renowned destination for gliding enthusiasts from around the world.</p> <p>At Wanaka, U-Fly Wanaka offers budding aviators the opportunity to pilot a dual-control Light Sports aircraft while enjoying the stunning alpine and vineyard landscape below.</p> <p><strong>Aviation heritage</strong></p> <p>New Zealand’s national symbol might be the flightless kiwi bird but that has never held back the human Kiwi population whose love-affair with the skies and all things aerial – from planes, helicopters, gliders and hot air balloons, to airborne adventure sports like skydive and paragliding – goes back to the earliest days of flight.</p> <p>New Zealanders embraced the aviation revolution as inventors, pilots and passengers. Some rose to fame – including solo pilot Jean Batten for her record-breaking journeys, early inventor-aviator Richard Pearse, and tourism pioneer Sir Henry (Harry) Wigley whose Kiwi ingenuity developed the world’s first retractable skis for planes.</p> <p><strong>At New Zealand’s oldest aerodrome –</strong> Mandeville airfield near Croydon, in Southland – the Croydon Aircraft Museum has a collection of planes from the 1930s era including de Havilland aircraft. Visitors can take a nostalgic flight in a Tiger Moth or, for the daring, experience the adrenalin rush of an acrobatic joy ride. They can also watch activities in the workshop which is recognised as a world leader in aviation restoration and, once a year in February, the Mandeville Fly-In Weekend attracts incredible vintage aircraft from the 1920s and 1930s.</p> <p><strong>Aviation museums &amp; collections</strong></p> <p>New Zealand’s aviation heritage and heroes are celebrated in a series of museums and collections throughout New Zealand. Notable world-class aviation collections are open to visitors in Auckland, Tauranga and Masterton (in the North Island), Marlborough and Wanaka (in the South Island). Many smaller collections are also open to the public:</p> <p><strong>Auckland</strong>: MOTAT Aviation Display Hall – one of the southern hemisphere’s most impressive aircraft collections.</p> <p><strong>Tauranga</strong>: Classic Flyers Aviation Museum – includes classic aircraft that regularly take to the skies and aviation memorabilia.</p> <p><strong>Masterton</strong>: The Vintage Aviator Fighter Collection – rare rotating collection of airworthy WWI and WWII fighter aircraft on display at Hood Aerodrome.</p> <p><strong>Marlborough</strong>: Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre – not just another museum, this is an inspiring multi-sensory experience featuring film-maker Sir Peter Jackson’s incredible collection of WWI and WWII aircraft displayed in out-of-this world movie sets.</p> <p><strong>Christchurch</strong>: Air Force Museum – features several generations of classic aircraft, and entry is free.</p> <p><strong>Wanaka</strong>: Wanaka Airport – home of the biennial Warbirds over Wanaka airshow – draws together several aviation experiences. Warbirds &amp; Wheels Museum is a collection of rare fighter aircraft and vintage vehicles that tells the stories of the New Zealand flying aces of WWI and WW2, and documents the life of local flying legend Sir Tim Wallis. The National Transport and Toy Museum is one of the world’s largest private collections and includes rare and unusual aircraft and vehicles. Classic Flights will take nostalgic punters up and away in a vintage Tiger Moth.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/new-zealand-aviation-tours-experiences/">MyDiscoveries.</a> </em></p>

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Come and see the festivals and markets in Darwin Australia

<p>Darwin has two major seasons, the dry (April-October) and the wet. Now, I must say life in Darwin is dramatically different between the two seasons due to substantial differences in the amount of rainfall, humidity, and community activities for visitors.</p> <p>The dry season, known affectionately as “The Dry,” is definitely the best time to visit Darwin. You’ll know it’s come as the beginning of the season is marked by the opening of the markets all around Darwin and surrounds.</p> <p><strong>The Markets:</strong></p> <p>The most famous of the lot are the Mindil Beach Sunset markets. As the name suggests, the evening-time markets are an incredible way to watch the sunset on Thursdays and Sundays. Stalls filled with clothes, gadgets, and more are lost amongst those offering yummy and quick eats. When it comes to food, the Mindil Beach markets offer the widest range of options from Indian, Malaysian, Japanese, and of course Australian. There’s something for everyone and plenty of room to sit either on the grassy areas or right on the beach to watch the sun go down.</p> <p>The Parap, Nightcliff, and Rapid Creek markets are slightly further out of Darwin city, but definitely still worth visiting. On Saturday mornings at Parap and Sunday mornings in Nightcliff, the traveling market sellers spend the day delighting market goers usually until around 2pm. Although smaller in scale than the Mindil Beach market, there is a range of oriental cuisine available and a good selection of clothing and small goods stalls.</p> <p>The markets run each week, but every so often Darwin gets to host larger events and festivals. Try to time your trip with one of the festivals!</p> <p><strong>The Taste Festival<br /></strong>The Taste Festival, which usually runs in April, is the the Top End’s way of pleasing the foodies. Restaurants all around Darwin are highlighted in the Territory Taste publication and are included in tasting packages and deals.</p> <p><strong>Fringe Festival<br /></strong>Darwin hosted the quirky Fringe Festival this year in early July which put on theater, art and comedy shows, pop-up galleries, live music, and more at venues around Darwin. While most are ticketed, some events are free for both Darwin residents and visitors to enjoy. Some of the local favourites include the many theatre shows and music events.</p> <p><strong>The Darwin Festival<br /></strong>This year, the Darwin Festival will be held on 10-27 August, good timing as the still-dry weather will be irresistible for visitors. This festival focuses on celebrating the traditional landowners and the multicultural identity of the Northern Territory. Over the 18-day festival Darwin hosts a multitude of free and ticketed events around the city. Whether you enjoy art or music or simply love to learn, listening to traditional stories and enjoying the cultural events are sure to please!</p> <p><strong>The Darwin Cup Carnival<br /></strong>Love the races? The Darwin Cup Carnival in July and August is a favourite piece of the fun of The Dry! Try to catch Ladies’ day or one of the many other special days at the Darwin Turf Club.</p> <p>As you can see, the dry season is an exciting time to visit Darwin. And, while the markets and festivals keep you busy in town, the water-holes and swimming areas in the nearby national parks are finally open for swimming when the dry season arrives. So, inside or outside the city, the dry season is surely the best time to plan a trip!</p> <p><em>Written by Luray Joy. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/festivals-markets-darwin/">MyDiscoveries.</a></em></p>

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