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Aussies urged to claim their share of millions of unclaimed cash

<p>Aussies are being urged to claim their share of $577 million which is sitting unclaimed with Revenue NSW, with about $234 million of that designated as belonging to residents who have yet to claim it.</p> <p>During the last financial year, NSW Government returned more than $21.8 million in unclaimed funds to Aussies, setting a record in the process. </p> <p>The unclaimed funds are comprised of payments, refunds, unpresented cheques, dividends and other money that organisations cannot transfer to its rightful owners, sometimes due to something as simple as changed addresses or bank accounts.</p> <p>While $234 million is being held by the government for NSW residents who are known, the further $343 million is designated to those who live outside New South Wales or are currently unknown. </p> <p>For Sydney residents alone, approximately $85.4 million is currently waiting to be claimed by rightful owners. </p> <p>The average amount of unclaimed money owed on the register is $391, and more than $154 million has been claimed back from the government in the past decade.</p> <p>“Despite doing our best to give unclaimed money back to the people it’s owed to, we’re still seeing more money referred to us than people are claiming,” Chief Commissioner of State Revenue Scott Johnston said.</p> <p>“We want to make sure everyone knows about the unclaimed money register, so they can jump online, find out if any money is owed to them and undertake the process to get it back."</p> <p>“That way we can ensure more money is being returned to those it belongs to, rather than sitting with us for extended periods of time after enterprises and organisations pass it on.”</p> <p>You can find more information about the unclaimed funds, and search the register for your share on <a href="https://www.revenue.nsw.gov.au/unclaimed-money" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-link-type="article-inline">Revenue NSW’s website</a>.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

Money & Banking

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Pauline Hanson responds to Robert Irwin's defamation claims

<p>Pauline Hanson's lawyers have slammed Robert Irwin's “nonsensical”, after he <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/robert-irwin-threatens-to-sue-pauline-hanson-over-defamatory-cartoon" target="_blank" rel="noopener">threatened to take legal action</a> against the politician over the latest controversial episode of her Youtube series <em>Please Explain</em>. </p> <p>The satirical cartoon, features Irwin's misadventures with Bluey as they attempt to promote a new tourism campaign for Queensland.</p> <p>In the video, their car was stolen by "juvenile delinquents" before Bluey falls into a giant pothole, and then they had to wait six months for healthcare. </p> <p>Irwin's lawyers alleged that the cartoon was defamatory and involved the “unauthorised and deceptive use of our client’s image”, and demanded them to remove it from social media by 5pm Monday. </p> <p>However, the politician has ignored their threats of taking legal action, with her lawyers responding that the video was a “satirical assessment of the various failings of the Queensland State Government”  and that it was not defamatory in any way. </p> <p>They said that the video, which referenced a recent tourism campaign Irwin was in, was “a humorous critique of that advertisement published primarily for a political purpose”.</p> <p>“Your clients’ claims of passing off and defamation are so plainly inconsistent as to be nonsensical," they wrote in a letter addressed to Irwin's lawyers. </p> <p>“It is difficult to comprehend how a viewer could understand that the video represents an affiliation with your client if he is also being defamed in the same publication.”</p> <p>Hanson also insisted that she would not take down the video. </p> <p>“I will not be removing the latest episode of Pauline Hanson’s Please Explain,” she wrote on X, formerly Twitter. </p> <p>“I look forward to the day when Robert and I can have a good laugh over this and turn our focus to making Queensland a better state.”</p> <p><em>Image: Instagram/ X/ Getty</em></p>

Legal

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Beware of ‘tax hacks’ to maximise your return this year. The tax office is taking a close look at incorrect claims

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ann-kayis-kumar-466422">Ann Kayis-Kumar</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>For many people a tax refund is a much-anticipated lump sum of money.</p> <p>So, it is understandable Australians will be looking for ways to maximise their returns – particularly we are in a cost-of-living crisis.</p> <p>But, whether you do your own return or use a tax agent, taking risks is not advised.</p> <h2>Be wary of tax hacks</h2> <p>But be wary of “tax hacks” you might hear about from online sources (I’m looking at you, <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/professional-services/tiktok-gst-fraud-hit-on-tax-office-blows-out-to-4-6b-20230813-p5dw2y">TikTok</a>). Two truisms spring to mind:</p> <p><strong>1. Don’t let the tax tail wag the dog</strong></p> <p>Many tax hacks suggest you spend considerable money on purchases up front to claim tax deductions. But a tax deduction isn’t actually worth the value amount of your spend.</p> <p>For example: let’s say you’re on a taxable income of A$60,000 per year, which puts you roughly in the <a href="https://www.afr.com/politics/how-wealthy-are-you-compared-to-everyone-else-in-eight-charts-20221214-p5c6a8">50th percentile</a> of income earners and means your <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/tax-rates-and-codes/tax-rates-australian-residents#ato-Australianresidenttaxrates2020to2025">marginal tax rate is 32.5 cents</a>.</p> <p>You might spend $1,000 on a purchase in the hope of getting a sweet $1,000 tax deduction. However, you’re going to be $675 out of pocket. This is because that $1,000 deduction is only worth $325 (because tax is calculated on your taxable income, which is assessable income less allowable deductions).</p> <p>It will be worth even less next year because of the introduction of the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-27/stage-three-tax-cut-changes-pass-senate/103519338">revised Stage 3 tax cuts</a> and that’s a good thing because you’ll be paying less tax overall.</p> <p><strong>2. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is</strong></p> <p>Even if you use a registered tax agent (and it’s important to check they are registered by checking <a href="https://www.tpb.gov.au/public-register">the Tax Practitioners’ Board</a>), it’s a common pitfall to think any aggressive deductions they might suggest are their responsibility if the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) comes knocking. That’s not the case.</p> <p>Taxpayers are responsible for errors in returns made by their tax agents, so the ATO will hold you responsible.</p> <p>Indeed, the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/media-centre/ato-flags-3-key-focus-areas-for-this-tax-time">ATO has announced</a> it will be taking a close look at three common errors being made by taxpayers:</p> <ul> <li> <p>incorrectly claiming work-related expenses</p> </li> <li> <p>inflating claims for rental properties</p> </li> <li> <p>failing to include all income when lodging.</p> </li> </ul> <p>It might be tempting to think you’ve got away with over claiming deductions or under reporting income but the ATO has sophisticated systems to <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/About-ATO/Commitments-and-reporting/Information-and-privacy/How-we-use-data-and-analytics">analyse your data</a>) and track your claims.</p> <p>You’ll need to substantiate your claims, so keep records. If the tax office finds mistakes, you could face <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/paying-the-ato/interest-and-penalties/penalties/penalties-for-making-false-or-misleading-statements">financial penalties</a>, even jail time.</p> <p>Two months ago, a woman was sentenced to two years and six months jail and ordered to repay $39,600 after she lodged three fraudulent Business Activity Statements and received a GST refund to which she wasn’t entitled. While under investigation, she then sent eight false statements to the ATO and tried to claim more money.</p> <p>This is one on many individuals named on the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/about-ato/tax-avoidance/the-fight-against-tax-crime/our-focus/refund-fraud/gst-refund-fraud-attempts/operation-protego">ATO’s website</a> highlighting the results of regular crackdowns.</p> <h2>So, should I use a tax agent?</h2> <p>There are nearly 20.5 million active tax file numbers registered to individuals in Australia and last tax year the ATO received 13.7 million individual tax return lodgements. This was a 3% increase on the previous year. Of these lodgements more than 5.6 million were lodged by self-preparers and more than 8 million were lodged by tax agents.</p> <p>It <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-paying-for-tax-advice-save-money-only-if-youre-wealthy-184641">makes sense</a> most Australians use agents to prepare and lodge their tax returns. It’s easier, less stressful, gives you confidence the job is being done right and saves time.</p> <p>Having said that, it does come at a price (see above on the value of deductions), and previous research which finds that <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-paying-for-tax-advice-save-money-only-if-youre-wealthy-184641">every extra dollar spent on a tax agent</a> only yields an estimated tax savings of 20 cents), and if you have simple tax affairs then it’s relatively easy and quick to do it yourself.</p> <h2>How do I prepare my tax return?</h2> <p>Generally, everyone should be lodging an income tax return each year (or, if you don’t need to lodge a tax return, lodging a non-lodgement advice). The ATO has a “Do I need to lodge a tax return?” tool <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/your-tax-return/before-you-prepare-your-tax-return/work-out-if-you-need-to-lodge-a-tax-return">if you’re unsure</a>.</p> <p>It also has a useful <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/your-tax-return/how-to-lodge-your-tax-return/lodge-your-tax-return-online-with-mytax">two minute video</a> which steps you through the process for lodging with their online system myTax.</p> <p>For those of us with simple tax affairs, you just need to follow these steps:</p> <ol> <li> <p>gather and prepare all your information regarding income from work, interest, dividends and any other income such as capital gains from crypto assets or sale of shares</p> </li> <li> <p>then gather and prepare all your information on deductions and work expenses to be claimed making sure you have the evidence to back up your claims. This can be in the form receipts, invoices, log books and diary entries</p> </li> <li> <p>if you are a self-preparer you can log onto your myGov or the ATO’s app to prepare and lodge your return. If you wait until late-July you’ll have the benefit of the ATO’s pre-filled data, too. This gives you plenty of time to make the October 31 deadline.</p> </li> </ol> <p>There’s also the option to use the ATO’s free, volunteer-run TaxHelp program (provided you meet the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/your-tax-return/help-and-support-to-lodge-your-tax-return/tax-help-program">eligibility criteria</a>), your local Tax Clinic (<a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/financial-difficulties-and-disasters/support-to-lodge-and-pay/national-tax-clinic-program">details here</a>), or by seeking help from a registered tax agent. Just make sure you engage them before the October 31 deadline.</p> <h2>Where it might get tricky</h2> <p>But for others, for example if you have an ABN, it gets a bit more complicated. If you operate your business as a sole trader, you must lodge a tax return, even if your income is below the tax-free threshold.</p> <p>And if you have registered for GST – which you must do when your business or enterprise has a GST turnover of $75,000 or more, or if you are a taxi driver or Uber driver – then you will also need to submit quarterly BAS.</p> <p>It gets even more complicated for partnerships, trusts and companies, so it is best to seek the guidance and professional expertise of a registered tax agent, if you aren’t already.</p> <h2>What if I can’t afford a tax agent?</h2> <p>This year, many Australians are doing it tough. Indeed, research by the ASIC’s Moneysmart program estimates <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-06-04/asic-survey-millions-of-australians-facing-financial-difficulty/103926704">more than five million Australians</a> are in financial strife.</p> <p>Many people will find it hard to prioritise paying a registered tax agent when they cannot afford basic necessities like food.</p> <p>If you’re in this situation, you might find it useful to get in touch with a free financial counsellor via the <a href="https://ndh.org.au/">National Debt Helpline</a> or the <a href="https://sbdh.org.au/">Small Business Debt Helpline</a>.</p> <h2>Don’t procrastinate</h2> <p>Don’t put off doing your tax. If you’re behind, it might seem daunting to get back on track, especially if you think you’ll have to pay extra tax this year instead of getting a refund. But not lodging your returns will backfire. Like avoiding a trip to the doctor to get a skin check, the longer you wait, the more the problem will grow.</p> <p>Reaching out to the ATO is the key because they have tools to support you, including payment plans. It also shows the ATO that you are willing to comply. Ultimately, being up to date will save you fines, interest and penalties.</p> <p>If you are one of the <a href="https://theconversation.com/worried-youll-lodge-a-late-tax-return-at-least-80-000-australians-cant-afford-tax-advice-211267">80,000 Australians in serious hardship</a> who need but can’t afford professional help to complete and lodge overdue returns, the government-funded <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/General/Gen/National-Tax-Clinic-program/">National Tax Clinics Program</a> can help with free tax advice.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/231693/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ann-kayis-kumar-466422">Ann Kayis-Kumar</a>, Associate Professor Ann Kayis-Kumar is the Founding Director of UNSW Tax and Business Advisory Clinic, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/beware-of-tax-hacks-to-maximise-your-return-this-year-the-tax-office-is-taking-a-close-look-at-incorrect-claims-231693">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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Jessica Rowe fires back at ridiculous Peter Overton claims

<p>Jess Rowe has clapped back at a magazine that claims her marriage to Peter Overton is in "crisis". </p> <p>The presenter made the "shocking" discovery on the front page of a magazine while walking through the shopping centre, and took to her TikTok account to debunk the wild claims. </p> <p>The cover of the <em>Woman's Day</em> mag shows paparazzi photos of the couple looking distressed alongside the title: Pete and Jess in Crisis: Why She’s Standing By Him.</p> <p>“Look at what I learned when I was at the supermarket checkout today,” Rowe said in the opening of the facetious video, which has been viewed more than 40,000 times.</p> <p>“I was staring back at myself on the front of the magazine … According to the magazine, we are in crisis. I had to open the magazine to discover why I’m standing by Petey – let me tell you why.”</p> <div class="embed" style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: currentcolor !important;"><iframe class="embedly-embed" style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: none; vertical-align: baseline; width: 600px; max-width: 100%; outline: currentcolor !important;" title="tiktok embed" src="https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2Fembed%2Fv2%2F7376185418213084417&display_name=tiktok&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2F%40craphousewife%2Fvideo%2F7376185418213084417&image=https%3A%2F%2Fp16-sign-sg.tiktokcdn.com%2Ftos-alisg-p-0037%2FoMZXsDXJQAQ2OOEEwBeEaagUXI6RgpFBm6BmUf%7Etplv-dmt-logom%3Atos-alisg-i-0068%2Fo0A6eXXpDQCZW63mA0FAQrRVtCfxmABIEFgMEX.image%3Fx-expires%3D1717894800%26x-signature%3DXOjZhuATPOIRhqQpkKsQ9VSSCpA%253D&key=59e3ae3acaa649a5a98672932445e203&type=text%2Fhtml&schema=tiktok" width="340" height="700" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></div> <p>She continued to joke about the “flattering photo” that the tabloid used, where she describes herself as “suitably puffy underneath the eyes”, saying pointedly, “I’m looking like I am in crisis."</p> <p>She then shows a photo of the full cover story, titled: Pete and Jess: This Won’t Break Us.</p> <p>“What is going to break us?” Rowe posed. “It turns out, there’s this article all about possible changes to the news that really aren’t based on anything, just some anonymous quotes.”</p> <p>At the video’s conclusion, she read the final quote provided in the “nonsensical article”.</p> <p>“‘But whatever happens they’ll come through it all stronger than ever – that’s just the way they are’,” Rowe quoted. “Oh phew, I was reassured reading that standing at the supermarket line that Petey and I, we’re going to come through it. We’re not in crisis.”</p> <p>The video racked up thousands of likes and comments, with fans of Rowe also condemning the gossip tabloid. </p> <p>“Sometimes you need a magazine to tell you how you’re feeling,” one commenter quipped.</p> <p>“It’s like work gossip,” another said. “I generally need to ask people what is going on in my life that I don’t know is happening.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: TikTok</em></p>

Relationships

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“He tried to kill me": Shock claims against former TV presenter

<p>Former Channel Seven presenter Liam David Cox has appeared via audiovisual link in Sydney Downing Centre Local Court on Monday, following claims that he forcefully strangled a woman during a domestic dispute. </p> <p>The woman told police that Cox had wrestled her to the ground, straddled her, and proceeded to forcefully strangle her until she lost consciousness.</p> <p>“He tried to kill me,” she told police. </p> <p>The court heard that police found the woman bleeding from her nose and coughing up blood, when they attended the scene. </p> <p>They also found blood splattered on the bedsheets and pillows, and on tissues in the toilet. She was treated by paramedics before being hospitalised for her injuries. </p> <p>The alleged incident occurred at a house in Vaucluse, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, on the night of May 4, and Cox was arrested at a hotel in Bondi Beach the following day. </p> <p>Cox has spent nearly a month behind bars, and was applying for bail during the court hearing on Monday. </p> <p>The court heard that the altercation occurred after he had attended a charity fundraiser with the woman where he had a few drinks before they became embroiled in a heated argument. </p> <p>Magistrate Greg Grogin said the facts stated that the woman had been “the instigator” and “quite aggressive”, adding that he wasn't "victim blaming" but adding context to the “extremely serious allegations” where Cox allegedly lashed out  after an “ongoing” argument. </p> <p>Cox's lawyer Ben Barrack told the court the couple had clashed three times that night, and the woman had punched and kicked him in the lead up to the alleged assault. </p> <p>The former TV presenter also claimed that he was acting in self-defence, but admitted that he had not used reasonable force. </p> <p>His lawyer added that the woman’s allegations were “highly problematic” and emphasised she had not yet provided a statement to police about the alleged assault.</p> <p>Police prosecutor Nellia Ng argued that Cox should not be granted bail because there was a risk that he would further endangered the alleged victim commit further offences, or fail to appear in court.</p> <p>However, the Magistrate determined that the risks could be mitigated if Cox resided in Queensland and was barred from contacting his alleged victim.</p> <p>He granted bail with strict conditions including having to surrender his passport, report to police, and abstain from contacting the woman.</p> <p>“Domestic violence should not occur anywhere at any time with anybody for any reason,” Magistrate Grogin said.</p> <p>“Any temptation to contact (the woman) will be a short-course way to come back before the court via AVL wearing green. You don’t need to do that.”</p> <p><em>Image: YouTube</em></p>

Legal

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New claim from Mexican criminal cartel over murdered Aussie brothers

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

Legal

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Astonishing drug and prostitute claims surface as Lehrmann case reopened

<p>The ongoing defamation case involving Bruce Lehrmann, a central figure in the Brittany Higgins saga, has been thrust back into the spotlight with shocking new allegations.</p> <p>The reopening of the case stems from claims made by former Seven Network producer Taylor Auerbach, which seek to shed light on a series of dealings surrounding Lehrmann's interactions with various media outlets.</p> <p>The allegations put forth by Auerbach paint an astonishing picture of Lehrmann's recruitment by Seven Network for an exclusive tell-all interview. It's alleged that Lehrmann, in a bid to secure his cooperation, was lavishly reimbursed for expenses that included not only extravagant meals and travel but also expenditures on illicit drugs and prostitutes.</p> <p>The details emerged through affidavits filed by Auerbach with the Federal Court, just days before a judgment was expected in Lehrmann's defamation case against Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson. The case originated from a February 2021 report on <em>The Project</em>, where Brittany Higgins accused Lehrmann of rape within a Parliament House office in 2019.</p> <p>According to Auerbach's affidavits, Lehrmann breached a so-called Harman undertaking by leaking private and confidential texts from Higgins to Seven Network, violating an agreement that restricted the use of evidence from an abandoned criminal case against him. These texts allegedly facilitated Lehrmann's negotiations with Seven Network and formed a crucial part of his interview on the <em>Spotlight</em> program.</p> <p>The allegations take a darker turn with claims of financial reimbursement for illicit activities. Auerbach asserts that Seven Network reimbursed Lehrmann for expenses related to drug purchases and visits to brothels, implicating the network in what can only be described as deeply troubling conduct.</p> <p>"I recall that monies paid by (Lehrmann) for illicit drugs and prostitutes that evening at the Meriton and the following evening at a brothel in Surry Hills were reimbursed to (Lehrmann) by Seven," Auerbach states in his affidavit, according to <a href="https://au.news.yahoo.com/lehrmann-defamation-case-reopened-evidence-163000287.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Yahoo News</a>.</p> <p>The reopening of Lehrmann's defamation case underscores the gravity of these allegations and their potential implications. Justice Michael Lee's decision to admit fresh evidence indicates the seriousness with which the court regards these claims and the need for a thorough examination of the facts.</p> <p>In response to these allegations, both Lehrmann and Seven Network have vehemently denied any wrongdoing. Lehrmann maintains his innocence, asserting that he did not leak texts to Seven Network and denying any involvement in the misconduct alleged by Auerbach. Seven Network, for its part, denies authorising or condoning the alleged payments to Lehrmann and says that any unauthorised expenses were promptly rectified.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Legal

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Is hyaluronic acid as effective as skincare brands claim?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lian-liu-1459225">Lian Liu</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-surrey-1201">University of Surrey</a></em></p> <p>Hyaluronic acid has become a huge buzzword in the beauty industry, with everything from creams and cleansers to shampoos containing it. Often, these products are marketed to consumers with the promise that hyaluronic acid will boost hydration – important for keeping the skin looking its best.</p> <p><a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2019.00192/full">Hyaluronic acid</a> is ubiquitous in our organs and tissues, playing a crucial role in the function of our cells and tissues.</p> <p>Hyaluronic acid has been in clinical use for decades, for example, as an injectable between joints to help <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31294035/">lubricate cartilage</a>. But at the turn of the century, cosmetic companies began using it as a moisturising ingredient in cosmetic products.</p> <p>Topically, it’s thought that hyaluronic acid works by holding and retaining water molecules in order to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S014181301833770X">hydrate the skin</a> and restore elasticity, preventing wrinkles. When combined with sunscreen, hyaluronic acid may be capable of protecting the skin against ultraviolet radiation as it has <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2018.09.188">antioxidant properties</a> (meaning it prevents damage caused by oxidising agents, such as ultraviolet radiation).</p> <p>One of the most frequent marketing claims used to sell hyaluronic acid is the long-held belief that hyaluronic acid holds 1,000 times its weight in water. This means it can maintain moisture and reduce moisture loss.</p> <p>But this claim has been called into question recently, with <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/2418345-benefits-of-hyaluronic-acid-in-skincare-products-have-been-oversold/">numerous publications</a> recently discussing <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-13140853/Benefits-hyaluronic-acid-skincare-oversold.html">the findings</a> of a <a href="https://chemrxiv.org/engage/chemrxiv/article-details/64b5b086b053dad33a6cdcaf">pre-print paper</a> which suggests this claim is not true.</p> <p>The authors of the pre-print, researchers from the University of California, looked into the molecule-binding properties of hyaluronic acid and water to test the claim that it can hold 1,000 times its weight in water.</p> <p>To do this, the researchers created a solution containing 1g of hyaluronic acid and 1,000g of water (0.1% of hyaluronic acid), which was compared with just water. They then applied heat to both solutions, measuring the thermal changes that occurred. They found that there was not much difference in the changes that occurred in the 0.1% hyaluronic acid solution compared with the pure water. They therefore concluded that the long-held claim is not true.</p> <p>These findings may have consumers wondering how well their hyaluronic acid products actually work if it doesn’t hydrate the skin as much as previously claimed.</p> <h2>How hyaluronic acid works</h2> <p>While there’s no disputing the experimental results obtained, the conclusion on hyaluronic acid’s water-holding capacity is not applicable to all forms of hyaluronic acids.</p> <p>Hyaluronic acid comes in different molecular sizes. This pre-print only looked at one medium-sized hyaluronic acid molecule in their experiments. This means the results may only be true for products containing medium and smaller sized hyaluronic acid molecules.</p> <p>When hylauronic acid interacts with water, its water-loving and water-hating parts lead to electrostatic repulsion. This enables large numbers of hyaluronic acid molecules to <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1468-3083.2004.01180.x">form networks</a>, which look a bit like honeycombs, and expand.</p> <p>The larger the hyaluronic acid’s molecule size, the more capable it is of forming these honeycomb structures – and also the more able it is to retain water relative to its own weight.</p> <p>Hyaluronic acid with larger molecular sizes will form these networks at a concentration of 0.1%, meaning it can hold 1,000 times its own weight in water. Some very large molecules will even form these networks at a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2012600/">concentration as low as 0.05%</a>. This means it can hold 2,000 times its weight in water.</p> <p>It’s also worth noting that hyaluronic acid doesn’t just hold moisture and hydrate the skin. Because of its <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1468-3083.2004.01180.x">hydrating and antioxidant effects</a>, it also promotes cell regeneration and stimulates collagen production. So hyaluronic acid’s benefits go beyond its ability to retain water.</p> <p>Although this paper may have partially debunked one popular claim about hyaluronic acid’s moisturising abilities, that doesn’t mean you should stop using it. The research still shows there’s no doubt about hyaluronic acid’s moisturising abilities, which can leave skin softer, smoother and with fewer wrinkles. Plus, hyaluronic acid’s antioxidant effects promote the growth of new skin cells and collagen.</p> <p>But if you want to make sure you’re getting the most effective product possible, look for one containing multiple weights of hyaluronic acid molecules (sometimes labelled as “triple weight”, “multiweight” or “multi-molecular weight”). Also look for a product containing a minimum hyaluronic acid concentration of 0.1%.</p> <p>This is because research suggests products containing a <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jocd.14981">formulation of multiple sizes</a> of hyaluronic acid molecules could be more beneficial for skin than formulations containing only one molecule size. This is partly due to smaller molecules permeating skin better, while the larger ones hold more water.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/224906/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lian-liu-1459225"><em>Lian Liu</em></a><em>, Reader, School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-surrey-1201">University of Surrey</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/is-hyaluronic-acid-as-effective-as-skincare-brands-claim-224906">original article</a>.</em></p>

Beauty & Style

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“I lost all ability to fly the plane”: Pilot's shock claim after plane drops mid-flight

<p>At least 50 passengers have been injured with a dozen hospitalised after a Boeing 787 Dreamliner suddenly plunged about two hours into the flight from Sydney to Auckland on Monday. </p> <p>LATAM Airlines said that the plane experienced an unspecified "technical event during the flight which caused a strong movement." </p> <p>Passengers on board the flight have recalled the terrifying moment the plane took a nose-dive mid-flight. </p> <p>"The plane dipped so dramatically into a nose dive for a couple of seconds and around 30 people hit the ceiling hard," Daniel, who was travelling from London, told the <em>NZ Herald</em>. </p> <p>“None of us knew what had happened until after the flight, I was just trying to keep everyone calm. We never heard any announcement from the captain." </p> <p>He added that passengers were screaming and it was hard to tell whether blood or red wine was splattered through the cabin. </p> <p>Another passenger, Brian Jokat, told broadcaster <em>RNZ t</em>hat the incident took place in "split seconds". </p> <p>"There was no pre-turbulence, we were just sailing smoothly the whole way,” he said. </p> <p>“I had just dozed off and I luckily had my seatbelt on, and all of a sudden the plane just dropped. It wasn’t one of those things where you hit turbulence and you drop a few times … we just dropped.”</p> <p>He added that a passenger two seats away from him, who was not wearing his seatbelt, flew up into the ceiling and was suspended mid-air before he fell and broke his ribs. </p> <p>“I thought I was dreaming,” he said. “I opened my eyes and he was on the roof of the plane on his back, looking down on me. It was like <em>The Exorcist</em>.”</p> <p>Paramedics and more than 10 emergency vehicles were waiting for passengers when the plane landed in Auckland. </p> <p>Around 50 patients were treated, with 12 of them hospitalised and one in serious condition. </p> <p>At least three of those treated were cabin crew. </p> <p>Jokat told <em>RNZ </em>that after the plane landed, the pilot came to the back and explained what had happened. </p> <p>"He said to me, ‘I lost my instrumentation briefly and then it just came back all of a sudden,’” Jokat said.</p> <p>In another interview with <em>Stuff.co.nz</em>, Jokat recalled the pilot also saying: “My gauges just blanked out, I lost all of my ability to fly the plane.” </p> <p>The airline's final destination was Santiago, Chile, but it was landing at Auckland Airport in accordance with its normal flight path, according to <em>Reuters</em>. </p> <p>"LATAM regrets the inconvenience and injury this situation may have caused its passengers, and reiterates its commitment to safety as a priority within the framework of its operational standards," the airline said.  </p> <p><em>Images: Brian Jokat/ News.com.au</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Shocking new claims on alleged double murder

<p>Shocking new claims about senior constable Beau Lamarre-Condon, who <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/police-officer-arrested-amid-search-for-missing-men" target="_blank" rel="noopener">was accused of murdering</a> Sydney couple Jesse Baird and Luke Davies, have been made by police.</p> <p>The accusations were revealed by Ben Fordham on <em>2GB radio</em> on Thursday.</p> <p>Fordham revealed that police allege Constable Lamarre-Condon fired three shots at the Sydney couple from his police-issued gun.  </p> <p>The number of shots was reportedly confirmed by one of Baird’s neighbours, whose CCTV security cameras recording the sound of three shots being fired just after 9.30am on Monday, February 19 in Paddington. </p> <p>The neighbour reportedly reviewed their security cameras a few days after the alleged murders, when news of the couple's disappearance hit the media. </p> <p>Fordham added that police will further allege Constable Lamarre-Condon used bullets stolen from a firing range a fortnight before the killing to refill his gun, to not raise suspicious from his superiors when the gun was returned. </p> <p>Police have alleged that the  gun was taken from Miranda police station on Friday night and was stored Balmain police station the night after the alleged murders. </p> <p>The gun was then allegedly returned Miranda police station on Tuesday, fully loaded as if no shots were fired. </p> <p>Police Commissioner Karen Webb told <em>ABC’s 7.30 </em>on Wednesday night that officers could store a weapon overnight at a police station or inside an approved safe at home, but would need to gain permission to do so from their superiors. </p> <p>She did not comment on the claims surrounding  Constable Lamarre-Condon’s gun storage, as it would form a part of the investigation. </p> <p><em>Images: news.com.au</em></p>

Legal

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Aldi shopper mercilessly mocked over "shotgun pellet" claims

<p>An Aldi shopper has been slammed online after claiming she found "shotgun pellets" in a piece of meat. </p> <p>The mum from Canberra took to a Facebook group dedicated to parents who shop at Aldi, to share pictures of a mysterious find in her corned beef.</p> <p>She claimed the slab of meat was laced with small metal balls, and after her growing concern about what she ingested, the woman went so far as to book in an abdominal x-ray. </p> <p>“Today I prepared a whole piece of meat in a pressure cooker that I bought at ALDI in Gungalhin, I was in a hurry so I only added one garlic and salt,” she wrote on Facebook.</p> <p>“While I was tasting a piece that had just been taken out of the pot, I felt something hard and noticed that it was a metal ball."</p> <p>“I checked the pot thoroughly but it was not part of the pot. Then I helped myself to another piece and realised there was one more I didn’t chew, I took it out and looked — ball was IN BETWEEN.</p> <p>“Can I complain to Aldi? Has it happened to you? I was going to give that meat to my two-year-old daughter, now I’m afraid. I prefer to throw it away.”</p> <p>She later added, “Update: shotgun pellets inside the cow meat! I have an abdominal [x-ray] for tomorrow to check if I ate some before noticed. There are more inside the meat."</p> <p>Despite her grave concerns, other shoppers were quick to slam her claims, with many arguing back that the small black balls appeared to be peppercorns and maintained that “no livestock are slaughtered with shotguns”.</p> <p>“Aren’t cows shot with a power head not bullets?” one said.</p> <p>Another wrote, “Cows aren’t shot with a shotgun they get a metal rod through the brain. Farmers don’t even use a shotgun, they use a gun that uses one bullet through the brain. This is very odd.”</p> <p>Many people also claimed that the round balls seemed to be peppercorns, prompting the mum to defend herself.</p> <p>She said, “That is not peppercorn! It’s completely round, the other one half is being covered by the meat. Definitely looks like something that shouldn’t be in there.”</p> <p>An ALDI Australia spokesperson has told <em><a href="https://7news.com.au/lifestyle" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-link-type="article-inline">7News</a></em> that it has not received any similar complaints.</p> <p>“We are in direct contact with customer and are investigating the possibility that this product has not met our strict quality and safety standard,” the spokesperson said.</p> <p>“We have not received any further complaints of a similar nature, however, customers can return any product they are not satisfied with for a full refund or replacement.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Facebook</em></p>

Legal

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Major claim in investigation into deadly house fire that killed five children

<p>The grandmother of five children who died alongside their father in a tragic house fire has spoken out, claiming her daughter had "begged" their landlord to fix the smoke alarms in the house.</p> <p>In August last year, Wayne Godinet, 34, died along with his four-year-old twins Kyza and Koa, his three-year-old son Nicky, and his stepsons Zack, 11, and Harry, 10, in a <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/news/news/6-beautiful-souls-family-break-silence-after-tragic-house-fire" target="_blank" rel="noopener">horrific blaze</a> in Queensland's Russell Island. </p> <p>Mr Godinet and his sons became trapped upstairs of the two storey home after he raced back into the house to save them, while the children's mother, Samantha Stephenson, 28, and her sister were able to escape the fire.</p> <p>On Wednesday, the owner of the rental property, 61-year-old Donna Rose Beadel, was charged by police over her alleged involvement in the tragedy.</p> <p>The family has spoken out in anger, with the grandmother of the five boys, Rebecca Stephenson, claiming that her daughter had spoken to the landlord about updating the smoke alarms in the property just one week before the fire. </p> <p>Ms Stephenson told the Courier Mail, “The week before it happened, Sam texted the landlady and asked for the smoke alarms to be updated.”</p> <p>She claims she knew of at least three times her daughter had asked for the smoke alarms to be fixed.</p> <p>“It was the first thing you noticed when you walked into the house, a smoke alarm hanging from the ceiling and then a marking of one in the kitchen that had been painted over,” she added.</p> <p>Police allege that Ms Beadel's property did not have compliant smoke alarms when the fire broke out, with police further alleging that she wasn’t present when the fire occurred.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook</em></p>

Legal

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Parents busted for making their healthy child use a wheelchair to claim benefits

<p>A cruel mother and father have been jailed for over six years for forcing their healthy child to use a wheelchair in order to claim benefit payments. </p> <p>In 2012, Louise Law and her ex-husband Martin forced their then seven-year-old daughter into the wheelchair, as a ploy to gain a mobility car and disability allowance payments despite their being nothing wrong with her. </p> <p>The parents carried on with the scam for four years while they "fabricated illnesses and exaggerated symptoms" to teachers and NHS workers, all while raking in the extensive payments. </p> <p>The crown court in East Yorkshire, England, heard that the child suffered "gratuitous degradation" at being forced to use the wheelchair, as they were bullied at school and deprived of an ordinary childhood. </p> <p>In court, Louise Law admitted an offence of child cruelty, however she changed her plea on the day of a scheduled trial and was jailed for six years and nine months.</p> <p>Martin Law, now split from his wife, is now a long-term resident of a care home and was ruled unfit to enter a plea - although a jury convicted him of child cruelty, and was made subject of a guardianship order.</p> <p>Passing sentence, Judge Kate Rayfield told Mrs Law, "She missed out on so much of her childhood because of what you put her through."</p> <p>"Despite all of her tests revealing nothing wrong, you continued to subject her to appointments and investigations. You did the talking yourselves, telling the doctors lies."</p> <p>"This was a scam... You were telling her to report symptoms that she never said that she had."</p> <p>When the child reached the age of 18 in 2022, she was interviewed by police as she said the faux medical treatment from her parents began when she was six years old. </p> <p>A few initial medical appointments progressed to around 30 hospital appointments, including overnight stays.</p> <p>Prosecutor Louise Reevell told the court, "Her parents made her think that she could not walk properly. She would go to school in a wheelchair but she didn't really need it."</p> <p>Despite medical professionals proving that the child did not need the extensive medical treatment, her parents still claimed that the illnesses and symptoms of their daughter were genuine.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Legal

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Kyle Sandilands reacts to Ozempic claims

<p dir="ltr">Kyle Sandilands has been forced to address rumours that he is taking Ozempic, after returning from the holiday break with a noticeably slimmed down figure. </p> <p dir="ltr">The radio host faced the accusations of taking the weight loss drug live on air on Thursday, after the mother of a staff member made the comments. </p> <p dir="ltr">Newsreader Brooklyn Ross told Kyle, “My mum asked me if you're on Ozempic, Kyle,” prompting a laugh from Sandilands.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Me? What have I done?" Kyle questioned, surprised as Jackie laughed, telling him it was his turn to be hit with the rumour.</p> <p dir="ltr">"You're losing weight, my mum thinks you're on Ozempic!" Brooklyn said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Showing a picture of the media personality looking very slimmed down just weeks apart, Kyle said, “It's just a good angle of me.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Further denying the rumours, he added, “Maybe I've stopped eating as much bread and drinking Coca Cola.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Co-host Jackie O quickly jumped to her colleague's defence, saying, “You always come back from the [Christmas] break a little bit skinnier because you've been healthier, by the sun, you're less into the twelve coffees.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Kyle interjected to share his wife’s impact on his weight loss saying, “And my wife - I go, ‘Can you bring me a chocolate paddle pop?’ and a salad shows up.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“And I get angry... but I just eat it anyway because it's been given to me.”</p> <p dir="ltr">"You do look good," Jackie told him. "Keep it going, get on the Ozempic!"</p> <p dir="ltr">"I don't care about being some thin flop!" Kyle hit back. </p> <p dir="ltr">Brooklyn also shared that his mum believed Jackie had been taking the weight loss drug, to which she responded, "I can't convince anyone, can I? Like I don't care, but I just wish that people would know that if I was I'd just say it at this point."</p> <p dir="ltr">Jackie O has long been denying rumours of using Ozempic in the wake of her drastic weight loss, which she credits to being an ambassador for Weight Watchers. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Instagram</em></p>

Body

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Aussie grandma and former Greens candidate jailed in Japan claims she was scammed

<p>Donna Nelson, a 57-year-old Perth grandmother, has found herself entangled in a nightmarish situation in a Japanese prison, accused of a crime she vehemently denies.</p> <p>Nelson, an Aboriginal health advocate and former Greens candidate, has been incarcerated for nearly a year without a trial date set, facing allegations of attempting to smuggle two kilograms of meth into Japan. However, her plight is not as straightforward as it may seem, and her family and legal team are tirelessly fighting to clear her name.</p> <p>The ordeal began on January 4, when Nelson was arrested at Narita Airport in Tokyo. Authorities claimed to have discovered drugs concealed within a false compartment in her luggage. According to the prosecution, a customs officer suspected her of acting suspiciously. But the narrative has taken a complex turn as Nelson's defence team unveiled a shocking revelation: she alleges she was deceived and manipulated by a Nigerian scammer who had groomed her for two years.</p> <p>Since her arrest, Nelson has been confined to Chibu prison, located an hour outside Tokyo. Her living conditions are appalling; she spends 23 hours a day isolated in her cell, showers are allowed only every three days, and communication with other inmates and visitors is strictly prohibited. This form of treatment is a reflection of Japan's infamous "hostage justice" strategy, aimed at coercing confessions from detainees.</p> <p>The only individuals granted access to Nelson are her lawyers, Australian embassy representatives, and a pastor. Legal representatives have identified a significant issue with translation throughout the case, and it could very well hinge on an inaccurate translation by the customs officer at the time of her arrest.</p> <p>Rie Nishida from Shinjuku International Law Firm, one of Nelson's lawyers, explained, "The main evidence from the prosecution is mainly a customs officer who said she acted suspiciously. There's a lot of mistranslation that's also the difficulty in this case."</p> <p>This mistranslation issue is not trivial; it extends to the messages exchanged between Nelson and the man she believed she had a romantic connection with, who ultimately turned out to be a scammer.</p> <p>Matthew Owens, another member of the legal team and a translator for the case, noted, "Some of them were completely wrongly translated, so we had to re-translate those messages and submit them back to the prosecutor."</p> <p>Nelson remains steadfast in her conviction that she is innocent of the accusations against her. Her lawyer,  Owens, relayed her message, saying, "Donna wants to say that she is going to be able to prove her innocence, she's 100 per cent confident of that, and she wants everyone in Australia and the world to know she is innocent."</p> <p>If found guilty, Nelson could face a harrowing 20-year sentence in a Japanese prison, a terrifying prospect for both her and her family. Her five daughters and grandchildren are distraught, but they are not giving up the fight to prove her innocence. They believe they have evidence to substantiate the claim that she was scammed and unjustly accused.</p> <p><em>Image: Australian Greens</em></p>

Legal

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Widow "cranky" after Qantas denied late husband's points claim

<p>A widowed grandmother has been left frustrated after Qantas refused to let her claim the 6,800 frequent flyer points in her late husband's account. </p> <p>72-year-old Rhonda told <em>Yahoo</em> that she reached out to the airline after Brian - her husband of 52 years - passed away in May.</p> <p>Rhonda hoped to claim his frequent flyer points, but was met with a brutal rejection letter instead.</p> <p>While they offered their "sincere condolences", it also stated Qantas' "terms and conditions" didn't allow such a transfer, and Rhonda was asked to send through a copy of Brian's death certificate so they could close his account. </p> <p>"I know it's not a lot of points but it's the principle of it because, damn, you get hardly anything out of it anyway," she told <em>Yahoo</em>. </p> <p>"I just thought it would naturally come to me so, once I told them he passed away, I could've easily gone in and transferred them to myself without telling them but I wanted to do the right thing."</p> <p>Four months later, Qantas announced that from October they would change their policy to allow next of kin to claim frequent flyer points. </p> <p>When Rhonda heard about this, she reached out to the airline again.</p> <p>"I immediately wrote back and said that, 'After hearing the news item, I was under the impression you were now looking at this'," she said. </p> <p>"I haven't heard a word back since. I don't know if they're just ignoring me.</p> <p>"I've just had enough," she added. </p> <p>The grandmother-of-five added that she was "cranky" with the airline. </p> <p>"Everywhere I turn there's a barrier, and what's 6,800 points to them? </p> <p>"They are trying to keep their reputation intact and until I heard that announcement I was done with it. Now I still haven't heard and I am cranky about it," she concluded. </p> <p>Fortunately, after Rhonda shared her complaints with the media, Qantas eventually credited her the points, although she remains unimpressed with the "ridiculous" process. </p> <p>A Qantas spokesperson has also offered their sincere apologies to Rhonda. </p> <p>"Our customer team have been in contact with her to advise that her husbands' points have now been transferred to her frequent flyer account," they said. </p> <p>Rhonda said that she hopes to use the points for a holiday and explore the outback in the iconic <em>The Ghan</em> train next year. </p> <p><em>Image: Daily Mail/ Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Trouble

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Rebecca Loos claims Beckham is "playing the victim" over affair scandal

<p>Rebecca Loos, the woman at the centre of the alleged <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/woman-at-the-centre-of-alleged-beckham-affair-breaks-silence" target="_blank" rel="noopener">affair scandal</a> with iconic football legend David Beckham, has recently shared her thoughts on the new <em>Beckham</em> docuseries, which was released on Netflix.</p> <p>Loos, now 47 and residing in Norway with her husband and two children, expressed her concerns regarding the way the affair was handled in the docuseries, which was produced in collaboration with Beckham's production company.</p> <p>In the early 2000s, Loos gained notoriety for her claims of a romantic involvement with David Beckham during his time as a football superstar. In the docuseries, the Beckhams primarily discussed the media frenzy that ensued following Loos' revelations in 2003, but skirted around the specifics of the affair itself.</p> <p>It was during that tumultuous period that Loos had declared her connection with the football player while working as his personal assistant, even suggesting that the Beckhams had been dealing with marital issues before her involvement came to light. At the time, the celebrity couple vehemently denied any wrongdoing and even considered legal action against Loos.</p> <p>Victoria Beckham, 49, revealed in the docuseries, "It was the most unhappy I have ever been in my entire life," while David Beckham, 48, tearfully stated, "Victoria is everything to me. To see her hurt was incredibly difficult… what we had was worth fighting for."</p> <p>Loos, however, took issue with David's statement. In a <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-12657157/rebecca-loos-affair-david-beckham-netflix.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">candid interview with the Daily Mail</a>, she expressed her frustration: "The [worst] bit for me is that he says he didn't like seeing his wife suffer. That bothered me. Because he's the one that's caused the suffering. He can say whatever he likes, of course, and I understand he has an image to preserve, but he is portraying himself as the victim and he's making me look like a liar, like I've made up these stories. He is indirectly suggesting that I'm the one who has made Victoria suffer."</p> <p>Loos also argued that the docuseries had thrust the affair back into the spotlight, an issue that many had forgotten about since the news first broke 20 years ago, thereby further impacting her reputation. She emphasised, "Yes, the stories were horrible, but they're true. He talks in the documentary about this ultimately being his private life, shutting it down. I think it's one thing to keep your private life to yourself. It's another thing to mislead the public."</p> <p>She suggested that David could have chosen to acknowledge that it was not one of his proudest moments or characterised it as a challenging period and moved on from the subject. However, she felt that he continued to phrase his statements in a way that indirectly shifted the blame onto her.</p> <p>"If you don't want to take responsibility for things because of your family and your children, that's absolutely fine," Loos commented, "But he specifically made it look like… my fault, that he had nothing to do with this."</p> <p>Loos, after the 2003 allegations, embarked on a path as a media personality, participating in various English and Dutch TV shows. In 2008, while filming the Dutch TV show <em>71 Graden Noord</em>, she crossed paths with her future husband, Norwegian doctor Sven Christjar Skaiaa. After becoming pregnant, the couple decided to relocate to Norway in 2009. Today, she works as a yoga teacher and a massage therapist in Norway while raising her two sons and only occasionally making media appearances.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

TV

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David Walliams' explosive new claims against BGT bosses

<p>David Walliams has claimed he has suffered suicidal thoughts since being dropped as a judge from <em>Britain's Got Talent</em>, according to court documents. </p> <p>The explosive claims have been documented in the high-profile case with the UK High Court, which began after Walliams was axed from the popular TV show following a leaking of a hot mic conversation. </p> <p>The 52-year-old was unknowingly being recorded when he made <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/david-walliams-sues-bgt-over-leaked-rant" target="_blank" rel="noopener">vile comments</a> about contestants, and was subsequently asked to leave the show after a decade on the judging panel. </p> <p>Now, Walliams is suing Fremantle Media after they allegedly “recorded, transcribed and retained” private conversations for ten years from Walliams and the other judges on the show. </p> <p>He alleges they collected private and sensitive details of conversations throughout his time on the family favourite series, and he claims fellow judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon were monitored the same way by production staff.</p> <p>Walliams, who says he has ­suffered suicidal thoughts after being cancelled from public life, is seeking £1 million (A$1.9 million) he stood to get from the prime-time ITV show, plus £1.7 million (A$3.25 million) in lost earnings from the last year.</p> <p>He wants an additional £3.4 million (A$6.5 million) covering future losses over at least the next two years, taking the total to £6.1 million (A$11.65 million).</p> <p>In addition he is seeking further unspecified damages for psychiatric harm, distress and upset and the loss of control over his private information and legal costs, which sources say could bring the total up to as much as £10 million (A$19 million).</p> <p>The court documents claim that Walliams was uninvited from an official royal event to read at the Commonwealth Writing Competition with Queen Camilla at Buckingham Palace, after he was dropped from <em>BGT</em>. </p> <p>He said in that time after he left the show, he has received only one new work booking, having “catastrophic results for his reputation and career”.</p> <p>Walliams says he is now fighting “active suicidal thoughts” and has “lost the ability to be funny” amid fears that whatever he says or does will be used against him.</p> <p>In the lengthy court documents, Walliams says the fallout destroyed his “reputation and career” as a comedian, TV personality and children’s author.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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Probing false memories: what is the Mandela Effect?

<p>How is it possible to think you’re sure about something, only to learn that your memory’s let you down, and you were wrong all along? False memories can be so convincing that we never think to question their veracity. Denise Cullen investigates this odd, and little-understood, phenomenon.</p> <div class="copy"> <p>Imagine learning about a famous person’s death, watching footage of the funeral, and listening to the eulogies – then, decades later, finding out that this person had been alive all along.</p> <p>This was the scenario confronting Fiona Broome in 2009 when she shared her memory online, then subsequently learnt that Nelson Mandela was still alive.</p> <p>Broome, a paranormal researcher, had a distinct memory of the human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner dying in prison in the 1980s.</p> <p>“I thought I remembered it clearly, complete with news clips of his funeral, the mourning in [South Africa], some riots in cities and the heartfelt speech by his widow,” she wrote on her website, in a post since removed.</p> <p>As history records, Mandela died aged 95 – a free man and revered former South African president – in 2013.</p> <p>“Recall is a more active and effortful process than mere recognition.”</p> <p>Broome would have been willing to chalk it up to a glitch in her memory. But after ­discovering that many others shared the same memory, she decided it was instead a glitch in the matrix – a sign consistent with the many-worlds theory of quantum physics that there was a parallel universe in which Mandela had, indeed, died in prison in the 1980s.</p> <p>Since then, many other examples of what’s become known as the Mandela Effect – or shared false memories – have emerged.</p> <p>Common examples include that Rich Uncle Pennybags – aka the Monopoly Man – wears a monocle (he doesn’t), that Pokémon character Pikachu has a black-tipped tail (it’s yellow) and that there’s a hyphen in KitKat (there isn’t).</p> <p>Geographically, some folks swear that there are 51 or 52 states in the United States (there are 50) or that New Zealand is located north-east of Australia (it’s south-east).</p> <p>Cinematic examples include the Evil Queen in <em>Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs</em> saying “Mirror, mirror on the wall” (it’s actually “Magic mirror on the wall”). And who can forget the chilling moment in <em>The Silence of the Lambs</em> when Hannibal Lecter first meets Agent Starling and says, “Hello Clarice”? Thing is, it never happened.</p> <p>Misremembering the finer details related to board game mascots, fictional characters or logos might sound inconsequential. Yet the Mandela Effect has spawned a fertile field of psychological research seeking to uncover why people develop false memories – and why, when they do, they are along much the same lines.</p> <p>Wilma Bainbridge, who works in the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago, has been interested in the workings of human memory since she and others discovered that people are surprisingly consistent in what they remember, forget and make false memories about.</p> <p>In 2011, Phillip Isola and some of his colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) identified that memorability was a stable property of an image shared across different viewers.</p> <p>Presenting at the annual Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), they built one of the first computer vision systems that sought to predict the memorability of different images.</p> <p>They also provided some of the first glimmers that low-level visual attributes of an image – such as its bright colours, or distinctive edges – cannot alone account for its memorability. Similarly, aesthetics (visual appeal), ­interest (how likely people are to be drawn to or interact with an image) or saliency (the area which draws people’s eye focus first) are insufficient to unlock the keys to memorability.</p> <p>"[There is a] tendency for people to con­sistently misremember characters or logos from popular culture – things that were, in fact, designed to be memorable."</p> <p>While completing her PhD at MIT, Bainbridge, Isola and MIT colleague Aude Oliva drew on a 10,168-image database of facial photographs to see if the same intrinsic memorability was found in human faces.</p> <p>Their research, published in the <em>Journal of Experimental Psychology</em>, found that some faces were consistently remembered or forgotten – and that this couldn’t be fully explained by attractiveness or other perceived character traits such as ‘trust­worthy’ or ‘boring’.</p> <p>Bainbridge says it was Isola’s paper in 2011 and hers in 2013 that launched the burgeoning field of memorability. Since then, 845 scientific papers have cited the two papers.</p> <p>Currently on maternity leave after having twin girls, Bainbridge told me via email that she was originally inspired to probe the visual Mandela Effect because of how pervasive discussions were online about people having the same false memories. But no memory research had then investigated this intriguing phenomenon.</p> <p>In a recent article in <em>Psychological Science</em>, Bainbridge and her colleague at The University of Chicago, Deepasri Prasad, explored the visual Mandela Effect for the first time.</p> <p>This is the tendency for people to con­sistently misremember characters or logos from popular culture – things that were, in fact, designed to be memorable.</p> <p>Over a series of experiments – using icons such as the Monopoly Man, Pikachu, Curious George, the Volkswagen logo and Waldo from <em>Where’s Waldo</em> – they provided the first experimental confirmation that the visual Mandela Effect exists. (<em>Where’s Waldo?</em> is known as <em>Where’s Wally?</em> in Australia. The discrepancy isn’t an example of the Mandela Effect. It arose because publishers believed ‘Waldo’ would better ­resonate with North Americans.)</p> <p>In the first experiment, they presented 100 adults with images of 22 characters, 16 brand logos and two symbols, and made two altered images of each.</p> <p>“Even though we’ve all lived different lives, there are some pictures that most people remember and some pictures that most people forget,”</p> <p>For instance, they modified Curious George by adding a thin tail in one image and a bushy tail in the other.</p> <p>Research participants viewed all three images and had to choose the correct one.</p> <p>The results indicated that seven out of the 40 images elicited shared – and specific – false memories.</p> <p>In the second experiment, they used eye-tracking methods to see if there were differences in the way participants looked at the images they correctly identified, versus those they got incorrect.</p> <p>“We found no attentional or visual differences that drive this phenomenon,” Prasad and Bainbridge wrote.</p> <p>In the third experiment, the researchers scraped the top 100 Google Image results for each of the seven images to see if previous exposure to non-canonical (incorrect) versions might explain it. But they concluded that there was “no ­single unifying account for how prior perceptual experiences could cause these visual false memories – which had previously elicited the visual Mandela Effect – to occur”.</p> <p>The fourth experiment involved having participants draw the images, given that recall is a more active and effortful process than mere recognition.</p> <p>Some participants viewed the canonical (correct) images prior to being required to reproduce them, while others, who’d flagged that they were already familiar with the images, did not.</p> <p>One-fifth of all images drawn by the former group, and about half of those drawn by the latter group, showed characteristic Mandela-Effect-type errors. For example, the Monopoly Man frequently appeared with a monocle, while Waldo was often depicted sans cane.</p> <p>The common production of such errors during both short- and long-term recall suggests there’s something intrinsic to these images that leads to people generating the same sorts of fallacies – but Bainbridge says that researchers are only just beginning to probe what that might be.</p> <p>Her laboratory is concerned with broader questions about why some images are intrinsically memorable.</p> <p>“Even though we’ve all lived different lives, there are some pictures that most people remember and some pictures that most people forget,” she explains.</p> <p>Interestingly, when people view an image, high-level visual and memory areas in their brains show a sensitivity to its memorability – regardless of whether they consciously remember seeing it or not.</p> <p>Several functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies, including one conducted by Bainbridge and her colleague Jesse Rissman of the University of California Los Angeles and published in <em>Scientific Reports</em>, have demonstrated distinctive brain activation patterns (neural signatures) when memorable images are viewed.</p> <p>These processes take place outside conscious awareness, suggesting they occur automatically.</p> <p>Humans aren’t alone in this, with research led by Nicole Rust at the University of Pennsylvania and published in <em>eLife</em> in 2019 identifying similar patterns in rhesus monkeys who completed visual memory tasks.</p> <p>In a 2022 paper published in <em>Computational Brain &amp; Behavior</em>, Bainbridge and her then University of Chicago master’s student Coen Needell wrote that they had developed a deep learning neural network that can predict people’s memories.</p> <div> <p align="center"><noscript data-spai="1">&amp;lt;img decoding="async" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-198773" src="https://cdn.shortpixel.ai/spai/q_lossy+ret_img+to_auto/cosmosmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/MicrosoftTeams-image-27.png" data-spai-egr="1" alt="Buy cosmos quarterly print magazine" width="600" height="154" title="probing false memories: what is the mandela effect? 3"&amp;gt;</noscript></p> </div> <p>“We’ve recently developed a web tool called ResMem using deep learning artificial intelligence where you can upload an image and it will tell you the per cent chance someone will remember that image,” Bainbridge says. “Anyone can try it out with their own photos.”</p> <p>Recent work shows that the images people remember or forget can even be used to identify early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.</p> <p>Research published by Bainbridge and colleagues in <em>Alzheimer’s &amp; Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment &amp; Disease Monitoring</em> in 2019 found that a small, specific set of images reliably differentiated people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or subjective cognitive decline (SCD) from healthy controls.</p> <p>Using data drawn from the DZNE-Longitudinal Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Study (DELCODE), an observational, longitudinal memory clinic–based study across 10 sites in Germany, Bainbridge and colleagues analysed the memory performance of 394 individuals.</p> <p>Each participant viewed a randomly selected subset of 88 photographs from a total pool of 835.</p> <p>The performance of 193 healthy controls was compared to 136 participants with SCD – elderly individuals who self-report a decline in cognitive abilities but don’t yet meet clinical thresholds – and 65 participants with MCI: elderly individuals who show early clinical signs of cognitive decline, but are not yet at the level of Alzheimer’s disease.</p> <p>(Bainbridge notes that Alzheimer’s disease is more severe than MCI, which is more severe than SCD; however, it is possible to have MCI or SCD and never end up developing Alzheimer’s disease.)</p> <p>The researchers found that there was a lot of overlap in what the different groups remembered and forgot.</p> <p>However, there was a small subset of images that were highly memorable to healthy controls, but highly forgettable to those with mild cognitive impairment or subjective cognitive decline.</p> <p>A subset of as few as 18.3 images could distinguish between the two groups.</p> <p>In this way, the intrinsic memorability of images might ultimately pave the way towards quicker, easier and more reliable diagnostic tests of precursors to Alzheimer’s disease.</p> <p>The study of false memories also has weighty implications for criminal defence, given that some people might be wrongfully identified as suspects just because their faces cause false memories more easily.</p> <p>Though this research is not the focus of Bainbridge’s laboratory, work in this area is continuing, with the promise of some yet-to-be-published data suggesting that these more diagnostic images also better tap into the underlying brain pathology in those with MCI.</p> <p>“We’re now interested in creating a neural network tool that can predict your chance of making­ a false memory to an image – and then, theoretically, you could make images that cause lots of false memories,” Bainbridge explains. “These next steps are still in very early stages, though, and sadly, we don’t really have anything yet [on what features may prompt false memories],” she says. One goal of the research is to make the neural network tool available to any scientist who wants to study what makes something cause false memories.</p> <p>Bainbridge’s research on memorability has potential applications for further research as well as education, which may be enriched, for example, with textbook images or ­infographics that are more likely to stick in students’ minds. The findings are also likely to enhance clinical practice, given that memory problems are the most common cognitive deficits in dementia.</p> <p>Bainbridge says those experiencing dementia typically benefit as a result of specially designed environments or tools to aid their memory – for example, memorable cues to help them remember to take essential medication.</p> <p>The study of false memories also has weighty implications for criminal defence, given that some people might be wrongfully identified as suspects just because their faces cause false memories more easily.</p> <p>“You’d want to make sure to control for that when choosing a line up,” Bainbridge says.</p> <p>“It’s pretty amazing to think about how our brains can build up vivid memories of images that don’t really exist and that we’ve never seen before.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em><!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=250856&amp;title=Probing+false+memories%3A+what+is+the+Mandela+Effect%3F" width="1" height="1" loading="lazy" aria-label="Syndication Tracker" data-spai-target="src" data-spai-orig="" data-spai-exclude="nocdn" /></em><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/behaviour/probing-the-mandela-effect/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/denise-cullen/">Denise Cullen</a>. </em></div>

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Misinformation and the Voice: how can you spot and defuse false claims?

<p>On 14 October, Australians will vote in their first referendum in 24 years.</p> <div class="copy"> <p>The question – whether to establish an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament – has been hotly debated for much of this year already, and campaigning will ramp up for both the Yes and No votes in coming weeks.</p> <p><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology/what-if-instead-of-blaming-readers-of-misinformation-we-showed-them-how-to-tell-the-difference-between-facts-and-falsehoods/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener" data-type="link" data-id="https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology/what-if-instead-of-blaming-readers-of-misinformation-we-showed-them-how-to-tell-the-difference-between-facts-and-falsehoods/">Misinformation</a> and <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/covid/inoculating-against-disinformation/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener" data-type="link" data-id="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/covid/inoculating-against-disinformation/">disinformation</a> about the referendum have also been circulating, both on- and offline.</p> <p>What should we be keeping an eye out for, and what are the best methods of dealing with misinformation? <em>Cosmos</em> investigates.</p> <p>“There’s a whole field unto itself on how you classify misinformation,” says Dr Natasha van Antwerpen, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Adelaide.</p> <p>It can vary “from the very blatant, absolute lie, through to something that, even if all the facts are correct, the actual impression that you get is not true”, she says.</p> <p>It’s particularly difficult to see if you’re dealing with statements about the future – such as, ‘a Yes or No vote will cause this thing to happen’.</p> <p>“With prediction, it can be really challenging, because you don’t really have a ground truth to work with,” says van Antwerpen.</p> <p>“Things that you can always look out for tend to be: if it’s a really extreme statement, if there’s no degree of uncertainty in the prediction, and sometimes if it’s very obviously feeding into a politicised narrative, that can be a bit of a red flag.”</p> <p>Acknowledging uncertainty is often a better sign that the information is true, says van Antwerpen, as is checking someone’s citations.</p> <p>“What are the bases that they’re making those predictions on? Have they actually got solid research evidence behind the predictions that they’re making, as opposed to speculation?”</p> <p>While the actions both campaigns want people to take in this referendum are very simple – either vote yes, or no – they rest on a very complicated cultural context.</p> <p>“There’s a lot of things that are feeding into people’s decision making that don’t just come from the campaign, they have extraordinary long legacies in Australia,” says Dr Clare Southerton, a lecturer in digital technology and pedagogy at La Trobe University.</p> <p>“When you’re trying to inform people, they’re always going to be interpreting it through their own lens. And that’s how misinformation is able to circulate so rapidly: people respond to it in emotional ways, because they’re coming to it from their own personal histories.”</p> <p>What’s the best way to deal with misinformation if you do come across it?</p> <p>“I wish there was a simple answer,” says Southerton.</p> <p>“Unfortunately, research shows that at this point there is really no <em>most</em> successful strategy.”</p> <p>That said, there are things that work in different circumstances. Southerton says that on social media, reporting the misinformation is a reliable strategy. “When misinformation is mass-reported, it does get taken down – unfortunately, not usually before many, many eyeballs have seen it.”</p> <p>What about your friend or relative who’s dead-set on a stance you know is factually incorrect? Southerton says that while, once again, there’s no method with strong evidence proving it to be the best, connecting with the person “on an emotional level” often helps change their beliefs.</p> <p>“If you can think about where they might be coming from, and connect with them on that level, that’s going to be the most successful. Because we know that people share misinformation because the position that the misinformation has taken makes them feel good,” says Southerton.</p> <p>Southerton warns against “debunking” by simply telling someone that they’re wrong.</p> <p>“Correcting someone, or fact checking, feels good to us, but often shames the person who’s shared the misinformation and can radicalise them further.”</p> <p>This doesn’t mean you need to legitimise their viewpoint.</p> <p>“Try and think about ways that you can humanise your position to them,” says Southerton.</p> <p>“Ultimately, this is a very emotional time for Aboriginal people in Australia, to have these kinds of debates happening about them in a way that can open up conversation for extreme racism to happen in the public sphere.</p> <p>“So it’s really important that we don’t legitimise that racism. But at the same time, […] what is actually successful, as a way to combat misinformation, is about connecting with people who are sharing it, and seeing what ways we can best reach them.”</p> <p>For people who deal with a lot of misinformation professionally, van Antwerpen says it’s important to choose which myths to debunk – you won’t be able to fight every single false statement.</p> <p>Once chosen, she recommends <a href="https://www.climatechangecommunication.org/debunking-handbook-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>The Debunking Handbook</em></a> by Stephan Lewandowsky for evidence-based advice on challenging myths.</p> <p>In general, “you want to start with the facts in a very clear way, so you want it to be as concise as possible,” she says.</p> <p>“We used to say ‘never repeat the misinformation’, but that’s changed a bit now. Generally, it’s best to warn that you’re going to say misinformation, and then just say it once.”</p> <p>Then, van Antwerpen says it’s very important to explain why the misinformation is wrong.</p> <p>“Our brains like to have some sort of explanation. If we don’t have something to fill the gap that’s left when we correct the misinformation, it will just go back to the misinformation.”</p> <p>Being conscious of political narratives, without feeding them and getting more polarised, is important too.</p> <p>“When we present these really polarised arguments, people often tend to either polarise or they’ll get apathetic and drop out,” says van Antwerpen.</p> <p>“So if you’re looking at informing people, it’s finding how can you communicate it in a way that’s not encouraging that split.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/behaviour/misinformation-voice-referendum/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/ellen-phiddian/">Ellen Phiddian</a>. </em></p> </div>

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