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$2 billion lotto win tears family apart

<p>A man who won one of the biggest lottery jackpots in American history has been accused of cutting his family out of their promised share after winning $2 billion (AUD) in the Mega Millions jackpot. </p> <p>The unidentified man has been in a legal battle with his daughter’s mum since November, after he accused her of violating a nondisclosure agreement by telling the rest of the family about his fortune before their daughter's 18th birthday in 2032, according to the Independent. </p> <p>He bought the winning ticket in Lebanon, Maine on January 13 2023. </p> <p>The mum – identified by a pseudonym, Sara Smith – claimed that he was the one who told his family about his lotto winnings, not her. </p> <p>The man's father supported Smith's claim and said that his son told him about the win and all the things he planned to do with his new-found fortune, which he collected through an LLC in a lump sum of over $750 million. </p> <p>“February or March of 2023, my son came to my house … and informed me and my wife that he won a large amount of money in the Maine State Lottery,” his father wrote in new court documents. </p> <p>“I understand that my son has stated that he told me nothing about his money ‘other than the simple fact that I had won’,” the dad wrote. “That is not true.”</p> <p>He also claimed that he didn't ask his son for any money, but the lotto-winner allegedly made a bunch of promises, including building his dad a garage to fix up old cars, buying his childhood home, setting up a million-dollar trust fund and funding future medical expenses for his dad and stepmum.</p> <p>The lotto-winner also allegedly demanded his father to not talk to Smith. </p> <p>"I told him … ‘You are not the son I knew’,” his dad wrote in the filing.</p> <p>“He got angry, calling me a ‘dictator’ and an ‘a**ehole’. I have not heard from my son since, and he has not done any of [the] things he promised.”</p> <p>The half-billionaire refuted his dad and Smith's claims. </p> <p>“I made the mistake of telling my father that I had won the lottery without having him sign a confidentiality agreement,” he wrote. </p> <p>“Our relationship deteriorated quickly thereafter,” he continued.</p> <p>“I did not tell him what I was doing with my money, how I was going to benefit my daughter, or any facts other than the simple fact that I had won.” </p> <p>He also accused his ex-partner of trying to reveal his identity to the world and that she wrongly accused him of trying to kidnap their daughter after he refused to pay for her and her new boyfriend's vacation. </p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p> <p> </p>

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Australian churches collectively raise billions of dollars a year – why aren’t they taxed?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dale-boccabella-15706">Dale Boccabella</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ranjana-gupta-1207482">Ranjana Gupta</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/auckland-university-of-technology-1137">Auckland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>There’s a good reason your local volunteer-run netball club doesn’t pay tax. In Australia, various nonprofit organisations are exempt from paying income tax, including those that do charitable work, such as churches.</p> <p>These exemptions or concessions can also extend to other taxes, including fringe benefits tax, state and local government property taxes and payroll taxes.</p> <p>The traditional justification for granting these concessions is that charitable activities benefit society. They contribute to the wellbeing of the community in a variety of non-religious ways.</p> <p>For example, charities offer welfare, health care and education services that the government would generally otherwise provide due to their obvious public benefits. The tax exemption, which allows a charity to retain all the funds it raises, provides the financial support required to relieve the government of this burden.</p> <p>The nonprofit sector is often called the third sector of society, the other two being government and for-profit businesses. But in Australia, this third sector is quite large. Some grassroots organisations have only a tiny footprint, but other nonprofits are very large. And many of these bigger entities – including some “megachurches” – run huge commercial enterprises. These are often indistinguishable from comparable business activities in the for-profit sector.</p> <p>So why doesn’t this revenue get taxed? And should we really give all nonprofits the same tax exemptions?</p> <h2>Why don’t churches pay tax?</h2> <p>The primary aim of a church is to advance or promote its religion. This itself counts as a charitable purpose under the <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.au/C2013A00100/asmade/text">2013 Charities Act</a>. However, section five of that act requires a church to have only charitable purposes – any other purposes must be incidental to or in aid of these.</p> <p>Viewed alone, the conduct of a church with an extensive commercial enterprise – which could include selling merchandise, or holding concerts and conferences – is not a charitable purpose.</p> <p>But Australian case law and <a href="https://www.acnc.gov.au/for-charities/start-charity/role-acnc-deciding-charity-status/legal-meaning-charity#:%7E:text=Taxation%20Ruling%20(TR)%202011%2F,set%20out%20in%20taxation%20rulings.">an ATO ruling</a> both support the idea that carrying on business-like activities can be incidental to or in aid of a charitable purpose. This could be the case, for example, if a large church’s commercial activities were to help give effect to its charitable purposes.</p> <p>Because of this, under Australia’s current income tax law, a church that is running a large commercial enterprise is able to retain its exemption from income tax on the profits from these activities.</p> <p>There are various public policy concerns with this. First, the lost tax revenue is likely to be significant, although the government’s annual tax expenditure statement does not currently provide an estimate of the amount of tax revenue lost.</p> <p>And second, the tax exemption may give rise to unfairness. A for-profit business competing with a church in a relevant industry may be at a competitive disadvantage – despite similar business activities, the for-profit entity pays income tax but the church does not. This competitive disadvantage may be reflected in lower prices for customers of the church business.</p> <h2>What about taxing their employees?</h2> <p>Churches that run extensive enterprises are likely to have many employees. Generally, all the normal Australian tax rules apply to the way these employees are paid – for example, employees pay income tax on these wages. Distributing profits to members would go against the usual rules of the church, and this prohibition is <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.au/C2013A00100/asmade/text">required</a> anyway for an organisation to qualify as a charity.</p> <p>Some churches may be criticised for paying their founders or leaders “excessive” wages, but these are still taxed in the same way as normal salaries.</p> <p>It’s important to consider fringe benefit tax – which employers have to pay on certain benefits they provide to employees. Aside from some qualifications, all the usual <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/businesses-and-organisations/hiring-and-paying-your-workers/fringe-benefits-tax/how-fringe-benefits-tax-works">fringe benefit tax rules</a> apply to non-wage benefits provided to employees of a church.</p> <p>Just like their commercial (and taxable) counterparts, the payment for “luxury” travel and accommodation for church leaders and employees when on church business will not generate a fringe benefits taxable amount for the church.</p> <p>One qualification, though, is that a church is likely to be a <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/businesses-and-organisations/hiring-and-paying-your-workers/fringe-benefits-tax/fbt-concessions-for-not-for-profit-organisations/fbt-rebatable-employers">rebatable employer</a> under the fringe benefit tax regime. This means it can obtain some tax relief on benefits provided to each employee, up to a cap.</p> <h2>We may need to rethink blanket tax exemptions for charities</h2> <p>Back in an age where nonprofits were mainly small and focused on addressing the needs of people failed by the market, the income tax exemption for such charities appeared appropriate.</p> <p>But in the modern era, some charities – including some churches – operate huge business enterprises and collect rent on extensive property holdings.</p> <p>Many are now questioning whether we should continue offering them an uncapped exemption from income tax, especially where there are questions surrounding how appropriately these profits are used.</p> <p>Debates about solutions to the problem have focused on various arguments. However, more data may be needed on the way charities apply their profits to a charitable purpose, particularly those involved in substantial commercial activities.</p> <p>An all-or-nothing rule exempting the whole charitable sector may no longer be fit for purpose if it fails to take into account the very different circumstances of different nonprofits.<!-- 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/228901/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/dale-boccabella-15706"><em>Dale Boccabella</em></a><em>, Associate Professor of Taxation Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ranjana-gupta-1207482">Ranjana Gupta</a>, Senior Lecturer Taxation, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/auckland-university-of-technology-1137">Auckland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/australian-churches-collectively-raise-billions-of-dollars-a-year-why-arent-they-taxed-228901">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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"There's no way": Man receives $52 billion tax bill

<p>An American man has been left confused after receiving a letter from the government claiming he owed $52 billion in unpaid taxes. </p> <p>Barry Tangert got two letters in the mail from the state of Pennsylvania, opening the first to find a refund check from the federal government for over $900.</p> <p>His joy was short-lived though as he opened the second letter to find the income billing notice from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue claiming that he owed a jaw-dropping $52,950,744,735.28 ($34,576,826,561.47 AUD).</p> <p>“I knew it was an obvious blunder. I don’t even make over $100,000 a year, so there’s no way I could owe anywhere near that,” Barry Tangert told local outlet <em>News 8</em>.</p> <p>The total sum was so large it didn’t even fit on a single line on the document.</p> <p>Tangert immediately knew it was a mistake, with the astonishing number being more than triple the $11 billion America’s richest man Elon Musk says he owed the government in 2022.</p> <p>How the error made it all the way to his doorstep is still a mystery to Tangert.</p> <p>“I don’t know if it was a computer glitch in the transmission or if it was an input error from my tax preparer,” Tangert said, noting that his tax preparer filed an amendment after noticing an error on his 2022 return.</p> <p>He reached out to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue’s customer service line, which also provided little help to the baffled man.</p> <p>“The first thing he said was, ‘You had a good year.’ And I said, ‘I wish,’” Tangert said.</p> <p>Fortunately, the state department has since resolved the issue, which it chalked up to wrong numbers simply being put into the system.</p> <p><em>Image credits: WGAL News 8</em></p> <p> </p>

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Property tycoon sentenced to death over $27 billion fraud

<p>A Vietnamese billionaire was sentenced to death on Thursday in one of the biggest corruption cases in history, an estimated $27 billion in damages - a figure equivalent to six percent of the country’s 2023 GDP. </p> <p>Truong My Lan, chair of major developer Van Thinh Phat, was found guilty of embezzlement, after looting from one of the country's biggest banks, Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB) for over a decade. </p> <p>“The defendant’s actions... eroded people’s trust in the leadership of the (Communist) Party and state,” the verdict read at the trial in Ho Chi Minh City. </p> <p>After a five-week trial, 85 others were also charged for their involvement in the fraud, with charges ranging from from bribery and abuse of power to appropriation and violations of banking law. </p> <p>Four were given life imprisonment, while others received jail terms ranging between 20 years and three years suspended. Lan's husband was Hong Kong billionaire Eric Chu Nap Kee, was sentenced to nine years in prison.</p> <p>Lan and the others were arrested as part of a national corruption crackdown.</p> <p>Lan was initially believed to have embezzled $12.5 billion, but on Thursday prosecutors have said that the total damages caused by the fraud now amounted to $27 billion. </p> <p>The property tycoon was convicted of taking out $44bn in loans from the bank, according to the <em>BBC</em>, with prosecutors saying that $27 billion of this may never be recovered. </p> <p>The court ordered Lan to to pay almost the entire damages sum in compensation. </p> <p>It is also <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-68778636" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reported</a> that she is one of very few women in Vietnam to be sentenced to death for a white collar crime. </p> <p>“In my desperation, I thought of death,” Lan said in her final remarks to the court, according to state media. </p> <p>“I am so angry that I was stupid enough to get involved in this very fierce business environment -- the banking sector -- which I have little knowledge of.”</p> <p>Police have identified around 42,000 victims of the scam, and many of them were unhappy with the verdict. </p> <p>One 67-year-old Hanoi resident told the AFP that she had hoped Lan would receive a life sentence so she could fully witness the devastating impact of her actions. </p> <p>“Many people worked hard to deposit money into the bank, but now she’s received the death sentence and that’s it for her,” they said. </p> <p>“She can’t see the suffering of the people.”</p> <p>The resident has so far been unable to retrieve the $120,000 she invested with SCB. </p> <p>Police have said that many of the victims are SCB bondholders, who cannot withdraw their money and have not received interest or principal payments since Lan’s arrest. </p> <p>Authorities have also reportedly seized over 1000 properties belonging to Lan. </p> <p><em>Image: Twitter</em></p> <p> </p>

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Medical Research Future Fund has $20 billion to spend. Here’s how we prioritise who gets what

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adrian-barnett-853">Adrian Barnett</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/philip-clarke-1149967">Philip Clarke</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-oxford-1260">University of Oxford</a></em></p> <p>The <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/our-work/medical-research-future-fund">Medical Research Future Fund</a> (MRFF) is a A$20 billion fund to support Australian health and medical research. It was set up in 2015 to deliver practical benefits from medical research and innovation to as many Australians as possible.</p> <p>Unlike the other research funding agencies, such the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), most of the MRFF funding is priority-driven. It seeks to fund research in particular areas or topics rather than using open calls when researchers propose their own ideas for funding.</p> <p>As the <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/not-how-you-run-a-1b-scheme-science-fund-backers-lead-chorus-for-reform-20230619-p5dhni.html">Nine newspapers</a> outlined this week, researchers have criticised the previous Coalition government’s allocation of MRFF funds. There is widespread consensus the former health minister had <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/a-centre-never-built-and-a-hospital-that-missed-out-the-coalition-s-unusual-20b-research-fund-20230619-p5dhng.html">too much influence</a> in the allocation of funds, and there was limited and sometimes no competition when funding was directly allocated to one research group.</p> <p>The current Health Minister, Mark Butler, has instituted a <a href="https://www.innovationaus.com/billion-dollar-medical-research-grants-process-under-review/">review</a>. So how should the big decisions about how to spend the MRFF be made in the future to maximise its value and achieve its aims?</p> <h2>Assess gaps in evidence</h2> <p>Research priorities for the MRFF are set by the <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/committees-and-groups/australian-medical-research-advisory-board-amrab?language=und">Australian Medical Research Advisory Board</a>, which widely consults with the research sector.</p> <p>However, most researchers and institutions will simply argue more funding is needed for their own research. If the board seeks to satisfy such lobbying, it will produce fragmented funding that aligns poorly with the health needs of Australians.</p> <p>A better approach would be to systematically assemble evidence about what is known and the key evidence gaps. Here, the board would benefit from what is known as a “<a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15484602/">value of information</a>” framework for decision-making.</p> <p>This framework systematically attempts to quantify the most valuable information that will reduce the uncertainty for health and medical decision-making. In other words, it would pinpoint which information we need to allow us to better make health and medical decisions.</p> <p>There have been <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30288400/">attempts</a> to use this method in Australia to help inform how we prioritise hospital-based research. However, we now need to apply such an approach more broadly.</p> <h2>Seek public input</h2> <p>A structured framework for engaging with the public is also missing in Australia. The public’s perspective on research prioritisation has often been overlooked, but as the ultimate consumers of research, they need to be heard.</p> <p>Research is a highly complex and specialised endeavour, so we can’t expect the public to create sensible priorities alone.</p> <p>One approach used overseas has been developed by the <a href="https://www.jla.nihr.ac.uk/">James Lind Alliance</a>, a group in the United Kingdom that combines the public’s views with researchers to create agreed-on priorities for research.</p> <p>This is done using an intensive process of question setting and discussion. Priorities are checked for feasibility and novelty, so there is no funding for research that’s impossible or already done.</p> <p>The priorities from the James Lind Alliance process can be surprising. The top priority in the area of <a href="https://www.jla.nihr.ac.uk/priority-setting-partnerships/irritable-bowel-syndrome/top-10-priorities.htm">irritable bowel syndrome</a>, for example, is to discover if it’s one condition or many, while the second priority is to work on bowel urgency (a sudden urgent need to go to the toilet).</p> <p>While such everyday questions can struggle to get funding in traditional systems that often focus on novelty, funding research in these two priority areas could lead to the most benefits for people with irritable bowel syndrome.</p> <h2>Consider our comparative advantages</h2> <p>Australia is a relatively small player globally. To date, the MRFF has allocated around <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/medical-research-future-fund-mrff-grant-recipients?language=und">$2.6 billion</a>, just over 5% of what the United States allocates through the National Institute of Health funding in a <a href="https://www.who.int/observatories/global-observatory-on-health-research-and-development/monitoring/investments-on-grants-for-biomedical-research-by-funder-type-of-grant-health-category-and-recipient">single year</a>.</p> <p>A single research grant, even if it involves a few million dollars of funding, is unlikely to lead to a medical breakthrough. Instead, the MRFF should prioritise areas where Australia has a comparative advantage.</p> <p>This could involve building on past success (such as the research that led to the HPV, or human papillomavirus, vaccine to prevent cervical cancer), or where Australian researchers can play a critical role globally.</p> <p>However, there is an area where Australian researchers have an absolute advantage: using research to improve our own health system.</p> <p>A prime example would be finding ways to improve dental care access in Australia. For example, a randomised trial of different ways of providing insurance and dental services, similar to the <a href="https://www.rand.org/health-care/projects/hie.html">RAND Health Insurance Experiment</a> conducted in the United States in the 1970s.</p> <p>This could provide the evidence needed to design a sustainable dental scheme to complement Medicare. Now that is something the MRFF should consider as a funding priority.<!-- 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/209977/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/adrian-barnett-853">Adrian Barnett</a>, Professor of Statistics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/philip-clarke-1149967">Philip Clarke</a>, Professor of Health Economics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-oxford-1260">University of Oxford</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/medical-research-future-fund-has-20-billion-to-spend-heres-how-we-prioritise-who-gets-what-209977">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Backlash to new kids clothing line sees Target lose billions

<p dir="ltr">Target has lost billions in market valuation as its Pride-themed kids line continues to face backlash.</p> <p dir="ltr">Target shares were trading at $160.96 (A$246.18) a share, which means their market valuation was roughly around $74.3 billion (A$113 billion)</p> <p dir="ltr">The Minneapolis-based retailer’s stock value dropped drastically following the calls to boycott their “PRIDE” collection, at just $138.93 (A$212) a share as of Friday, which is a 14 per cent drop in value to around $64.2 billion (A$98 billion) , according to The New York Times.</p> <p dir="ltr">This roughly translates to a $10.1 billion (A$15 billion) loss in valuation.</p> <p dir="ltr">The plummet is the retailer's lowest stock price in nearly three years, and the last time any company’s stock plummeted this intensely was in 2022 after the stocks equalised during the pandemic.</p> <p dir="ltr">Target has since moved its Pride section away from the front of the store in some Southern states, following displays being knocked over by protesters, who also confronted the workers.</p> <p dir="ltr">They also said they would remove items from the collection but didn’t specify which ones.</p> <p dir="ltr">Some of the clothes receiving backlash were the rainbow-themed children’s clothing, and a “tuck-friendly” swimsuit for trans women, who have not yet had their gender-affirming surgeries, to conceal their genitalia.</p> <p dir="ltr">Target CEO Brian Cornell has defended the LBGTQ-friendly clothing line and has said that selling them was “the right thing for society.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

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Super has become a taxpayer-funded inheritance scheme for the rich. Here’s how to fix it – and save billions

<p>Australia’s A$3.3 trillion superannuation system is supposed to boost people’s retirement incomes. The government says as much in its <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-02/c2023-361383.pdf">proposed leglislated objective</a> for superannuation. The system is supported by billions of dollars of tax breaks each year, ostensibly to that end. </p> <p>But there’s just one problem – increasingly, much of what is saved is never spent.</p> <p>Our new report, <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/report/super-savings-practical-policies-for-fairer-superannuation-and-a-stronger-budget">Super savings: Practical policies for fairer superannuation and a stronger budget</a>, points out that without an overhaul, super tax breaks are set to do little more than boost the inheritances of Australians with well-off parents. </p> <p>Super contributions and super earnings are both taxed more lightly than other income. These tax breaks cost the budget about $45 billion (2% of Australia’s gross domestic product, or GDP) each year.</p> <p>Treasury predicts that figure will hit 3% of GDP by 2060, and that the cost of super tax breaks will overtake the cost of the age pension by as soon as 2036.</p> <p>Super tax breaks are also unfair: about two-thirds go to the top 20% of earners. </p> <p>This means the tax breaks provide the biggest boost to the super accounts of high earners, who will almost all have a comfortable retirement regardless, and who tend to save the same regardless of the tax rate imposed. </p> <p>The wealthiest 10% of Australians get a bigger boost to their retirement savings from super tax breaks than poorer Australians get from the age pension.</p> <p>But much of what is saved for retirement never actually gets spent in retirement. </p> <p>Earlier research by <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/news/balancing-act/">Grattan Institute</a> and the <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-02/p2020-100554-udcomplete-report.pdf">2020 Retirement Income Review</a> found that, for a variety of reasons, spending falls substantially during retirement. Retirees often end up leaving much of their nest egg untouched, bequeathing it to their children.</p> <p>This means billions of dollars in super tax breaks simply end up boosting the inheritances received by the children of well-off parents. It makes super a taxpayer-funded inheritance scheme. </p> <p>This problem is set to get worse. With the rate of compulsory superannuation legislated to rise from 10.5% of wages to 12% by 2025, future generations of retirees are set to retire with even larger nest eggs that they will never spend. </p> <p>Treasury projects that by 2059, one in every three dollars paid out of the super system will be a bequest, up from one in every five today.</p> <p>Big inheritances boost the jackpot from the birth lottery. They help richer children get richer. Among the Australians who received an inheritance over the past decade, the wealthiest fifth received on average <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/news/the-great-australian-nightmare/">three times</a> as much as the poorest fifth.</p> <p>To help reverse this, the government needs to rein in the super tax breaks.</p> <h2>How to make super fairer</h2> <p>The government’s policy, <a href="https://ministers.treasury.gov.au/ministers/jim-chalmers-2022/media-releases/superannuation-tax-breaks">announced in February</a>, of taxing the earnings on balances bigger than $3 million at 30%, instead of 15%, will help. </p> <p>But the threshold ought to be lowered to $2 million. Balances between $2 million and $3 million are very unlikely to be spent in retirement, so winding back tax breaks on earnings on balances bigger than $2 million would further wind back taxpayer-funded bequests. </p> <p>And there’s more. Currently, many wealthier Australians receive a larger tax break per dollar contributed to super than many low income earners. </p> <p>Yet low earners have more to be compensated for. Putting money into their super cuts their age pension in retirement, and they live shorter lives, meaning less time to enjoy their super in retirement.</p> <p>The pre-tax contributions of people earning more than $220,000 a year should be taxed at 35%, instead of the 30% charged to those earning more than $250,000 currently. That would still offer a 10% tax break on super contributions for high earners (given the top marginal rate of 45%) and at least a 15% break on the contributions of low and middle earners. </p> <p>And the annual pre-tax contributions cap should be lowered from $27,500 to $20,000. Contributions above this level tend to be made by people close to retirement with already-high balances.</p> <h2>Tax earnings in retirement the same as while working</h2> <p>On the earnings side, the tax-free earnings enjoyed by retirees on their first $1.7 million ($1.9 million from 1 July this year) of their super should go.</p> <p>Superannuation earnings in retirement should be taxed at 15%, the same as superannuation earnings before retirement. This would save the budget at least $5.3 billion a year, and much more in future, and make taxing super more simple.</p> <p>More than 70% of this revenue would come from the top 20% of retirees. The top 10% would pay an extra $7,000 to $7,500 a year on average, whereas the poorest half would no more than $200 more each.</p> <p>Both sides of politics say they agree that super shouldn’t be a taxpayer-funded inheritance scheme. But there’s a long way to go before that vision is reality.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/super-has-become-a-taxpayer-funded-inheritance-scheme-for-the-rich-heres-how-to-fix-it-and-save-billions-202948" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

Retirement Income

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Caught in the act: supermassive black hole 8.5 billion light years away enjoys violent stellar snack

<p>A supermassive black hole at the centre of a galaxy some 8.5 billion years way has ripped apart a nearby star, producing some of the most luminous jets ever seen.</p> <p>When stars and other objects stray too close to a <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/space/how-big-is-a-black-hole-watch-how-it-eats/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">supermassive black hole</a> they are destroyed by the black hole’s immense gravity.</p> <p>These occurrences, known as <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/space/a-star-is-torn/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">tidal-disruption events (TDEs)</a>, result in a <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/space/the-sleeping-giant-black-hole-that-awoke-to-destroy-a-star/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">circling disk of material</a> that is slowly pulled into the black hole and very occasionally, as in the case of supermassive black hole AT2022cmc, ejecting bright beams of material travelling close to the speed of light.</p> <p>Luminous jets are produced in an estimated 1% of cases and are known as a type of astronomical occurrence known as a transient, because they are short-lived.</p> <p>Bright flashes from the jets were spotted in data from the <a href="https://www.ztf.caltech.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF)</a> in <a href="https://astronomerstelegram.org/?read=15232" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">February this year</a> using a special new technique which can comb through the equivalent of a million pages of information every night.</p> <p>Due to the rapid results produced by the novel data analysis method, a research team in the US was able to swiftly follow up on the transient event with multiwavelength observations of the system from different observatory facilities.</p> <p>The jets were visible across many wavelengths, from X-rays to radio, and follow-up observations enabled the European Southern Observatory’s <a href="https://www.eso.org/public/australia/teles-instr/paranal-observatory/vlt/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Very Large Telescope</a> to place AT2022cmc at a whopping distance of 8.5 billion light years away, while optical and infrared observation from NASA’s <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/main/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Hubble telescope</a> were able to precisely pinpoint AT2022cmc’s location.</p> <p>“The last time scientists discovered one of these jets was well over a decade ago,” said Michael Coughlin, an assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and co-lead on the paper <a href="https://www.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-022-05465-8" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">published in <em>Nature</em></a>. “From the data we have, we can estimate that relativistic jets are launched in only 1% of these destructive events, making AT2022cmc an extremely rare occurrence.”</p> <p>Exactly why this behaviour is so rare remains an enigma, however, the research team believe that AT2022cmc’s rapid spin powers the jets, adding to the current understanding of the physics of these behemoth dead stars at the centres of galaxies.</p> <p>This detection – and the method used to discover it – are valuable as a future models for astronomers as they scour the skies for more events. “Scientists can use AT2022cmc as a model for what to look for and find more disruptive events from distant black holes,” says lead author Igor Andreoni, from the Department of Astronomy at UMD and NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre.</p> <p>This includes using ground-based optical surveys, as opposed to gamma-ray observatories in space – how previous jets were primarily discovered.</p> <p>“Our new search technique helps us to quickly identify rare cosmic events in the ZTF survey data,” says Andreoni.</p> <p>“And since ZTF and upcoming larger surveys such as <a href="https://www.lsst.org/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Vera Rubin’s Large Synoptic Survey Telescope</a> scan the sky so frequently, we can now expect to uncover a wealth of rare, or previously undiscovered cosmic events and study them in detail. More than ever, big data mining is an important tool to advance our knowledge of the universe”.</p> <p><!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --></p> <p><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=226753&amp;title=Caught+in+the+act%3A+supermassive+black+hole+8.5+billion+light+years+away+enjoys+violent+stellar+snack" width="1" height="1" data-spai-target="src" data-spai-orig="" data-spai-exclude="nocdn" /></p> <p><!-- End of tracking content syndication --></p> <div id="contributors"> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/science/supermassive-black-hole-stellar-snack/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">This article</a> was originally published on Cosmos Magazine and was written by Clare Kenyon. </em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p> </div>

Technology

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Pumping loud music is putting more than 1 billion young people at risk of hearing loss

<p>Music is an integral part of human life. It’s all around us, just like sunshine, lifting our mood. We enjoy it so much that many of us take it with us everywhere on our phones or we spend weekends hitting the club scene, live-music venues or concerts.</p> <p>Meanwhile, many of us may have felt annoyed by loud sound from music venues or remarked on sound emanating from someone else’s headphones. We’re probably aware we should prevent hearing loss from loud industrial noise at work or from using power tools at home. </p> <p>A systematic review released today in <a href="https://globalhealth.bmj.com/lookup/doi/10.1136/bmjgh-2022-010501">BMJ Global Health</a> reports unsafe listening practices in adolescents and young adults from using personal listening devices (such as phones or digital music players) and going to loud clubs and gigs are common, and could be a major factor contributing to hearing loss. </p> <p>In fact, the authors estimate the pumping tunes could be placing up to 1.35 billion young people at risk of hearing loss worldwide.</p> <h2>What the study looked at</h2> <p>Systematic analysis involves looking across multiple studies to identify consistent findings. In this study, the authors included 33 peer-reviewed studies published between 2000 and 2021, involving over 19,000 people, aged 12–34. </p> <p>In the study, unsafe listening was identified as listening at levels above 80 decibels for over 40 hours per week. For context, this is the level above which most Australian states <a href="https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/safety-topic/hazards/noise/overview#:%7E:text=Workers%20must%20not%20be%20exposed,on%20decibels%20and%20time%20exposed.">require industry</a> to implement noise protection processes such as use of hearing protectors.</p> <p>The study confirms the rate of unsafe listening practices is high in adolescents and young adults: 23.81% of them were listening to music on personal devices at unsafe levels and 48.2% at loud entertainment venues (though this rate is less certain). Based on global estimates of population, this translates to up to 1.35 billion young people at risk of hearing loss globally. The World Health Organization <a href="https://www.who.int/health-topics/hearing-loss#tab=tab_1">estimates</a> over 430 million people worldwide already have a disabling hearing loss and prevalence could double if hearing loss prevention is not prioritised.</p> <p>The results tally with our previous studies conducted by Australia’s National Acoustic Laboratories and HEARing Cooperative Research Centre. </p> <p>More than a decade ago we <a href="https://acc.hearingservices.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/hso/f1f6299d-96f3-408e-be4b-0775af6d7f41/Lifetime_profile_exposure_sound_what_safe_HLPP2.pdf?MOD=AJPERES">reported</a> a high potential for hearing loss from attendance at nightclubs, pubs and live concerts in young Australians aged between 18–35 years. </p> <p>Back then, we found 13% of young Australians (aged 18–35) were getting a yearly noise dose from nightclubs, concerts and sporting activities that exceeded the maximum acceptable dose in industry. In 2015, the WHO launched the <a href="https://www.who.int/activities/making-listening-safe">Make listening Safe</a>initiative to encourage young people to protect their hearing.</p> <h2>Why it’s bad for your hearing</h2> <p>So what’s the problem with loud music? Like sunshine, overexposure can lead to harm. </p> <p>Loud noise, including music, can <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hearing_loss/how_does_loud_noise_cause_hearing_loss.html">kill off hair cells and membranes</a> in the inner ear (the cochlea). Once hearing is lost, a person mightn’t be able to hear or understand speech or sounds around them. </p> <p><a href="https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/noise-induced-hearing-loss">Research</a> shows hearing loss results from a combination of sound being too loud (and it doesn’t need to be painful to cause hearing damage), listening to loud sound too long (and the louder the sound, the less time you can listen before your hearing is at risk) and how often you are exposed (and hearing damage is cumulative over time). </p> <p>A good “rule of ear” is that if you hear ringing in your ears at or after listening, you are at risk of damaging your hearing. This type of hearing loss is <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hearing_loss/how_does_loud_noise_cause_hearing_loss.html">permanent</a> and may require use of hearing aids or cochlear implants.</p> <h2>Wait, so no loud music at all?</h2> <p>So what can we do, short of throwing away our headphones and avoiding clubbing and live music?</p> <p>First, just like with the sun and skin, we need to be aware of the risks to our hearing and take the necessary steps to protect ourselves. We need to be aware of how loud sound is around us and how to keep our exposure within safe levels. We can do this by using personal hearing protection in clubs (such as <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-earplugs-for-concerts/">ear muffs or ear plugs</a> that are fit for purpose), or limiting how often we visit noisy music venues or how long we stay at really loud ones.</p> <p>In Australia, people can access a free <a href="https://knowyournoise.nal.gov.au/">noise risk calculator</a> to calculate their personal risk using an online sound level meter, and to explore how changes in lifestyle could protect their hearing while still allowing them to enjoy music.</p> <p>Most phones now come with software that can <a href="https://www.headphonesty.com/2022/03/iphone-headphone-safety/#:%7E:text=Key%20features%20of%20the%20iPhone%20Headphone%20Safety%20feature&amp;text=According%20to%20the%20WHO%20standard,risk%20of%20sustaining%20hearing%20damage.">monitor safe listening levels</a> and limit exposure.</p> <p>Hearing protection at the venue level is more challenging and may require regulatory and industry-based approaches. Our <a href="https://academic.oup.com/annweh/article/64/4/342/5811673">2020 research</a> identified hazard controls for entertainment venues, such alternating volume between louder and softer levels, rotating staff, providing quiet rooms, and raising speaker locations above head height. We also showed DJs and venues were open to initiatives aimed at reducing the risk of hearing loss for their patrons and <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19338244.2020.1828241?journalCode=vaeh20">staff</a>. </p> <p>Compromises are possible and they could enable enjoyment of music at live-music venues, while still protecting hearing. That way everyone will be able keep enjoying music for longer.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/pumping-loud-music-is-putting-more-than-1-billion-young-people-at-risk-of-hearing-loss-194537" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

Music

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740,000km of fishing line and 14 billion hooks: we reveal just how much fishing gear is lost at sea each year

<p>Two per cent of all fishing gear used worldwide ends up polluting the oceans, our <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abq0135" target="_blank" rel="noopener">new research</a> finds. To put that into perspective, the amount of longline fishing gear littering the ocean each year can circle the Earth more than 18 times.</p> <p>We interviewed 450 fishers from seven of the world’s biggest fishing countries including Peru, Indonesia, Morocco and the United States, to find out just how much gear enters the global ocean. We found at current loss rates, in 65 years there would be enough fishing nets littering the sea to cover the entire planet.</p> <p>This lost fishing equipment, known as ghost gear, can cause heavy social, economic and environmental damage. Hundreds of thousands of animals <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11160-018-9520-7" target="_blank" rel="noopener">are estimated to die</a> each year from unintentional capture in fishing nets. Derelict nets can continue to fish indiscriminately for decades.</p> <p>Our research findings help highlight where to focus efforts to stem the tide of fishing pollution. It can also help inform fisheries management and policy interventions from local to global scales.</p> <h2>14 billion longline hooks litter the sea each year</h2> <p>The data we collected came directly from fishers themselves. They experience this issue firsthand and are best poised to inform our understanding of fishing gear losses.</p> <p>We surveyed fishers using five major gear types: gillnets, longlines, purse seine nets, trawl nets, and pots and traps.</p> <p>We asked how much fishing gear they used and lost annually, and what gear and vessel characteristics could be making the problem worse. This included vessel and gear size, whether the gear contacts the seafloor, and the total amount of gear used by the vessel.</p> <p>We coupled these surveys with information on global fishing effort data from commercial fisheries.</p> <p>Fishers use different types of nets to catch different types of fish. Our research found the amount of nets littering the ocean each year include:</p> <ul> <li>740,000 kilometres of longline mainlines</li> <li>nearly 3,000 square kilometres of gill nets</li> <li>218 square kilometres of trawl nets</li> <li>75,000 square kilometres of purse seine nets</li> </ul> <p>In addition, fishers lose over 25 million pots and traps and nearly 14 billion longline hooks each year.</p> <p>These estimates cover only commercial fisheries, and don’t include <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-97758-4_15" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the amount</a> of fishing line and other gear lost by recreational fishers.</p> <p>We also estimate that between 1.7% and 4.6% of all land-based plastic waste travels into the sea. This amount likely exceeds lost fishing gear.</p> <p>However, fishing gear is designed to catch animals and so is generally understood as <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X15002985" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most environmentally damaging</a> type of plastic pollution in research to date.</p> <h2>Harming fishers and marine life</h2> <p>Nearly 700 species of marine life <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0025326X14008571?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener">are known to</a> interact with marine debris, many of which are near threatened. Australian and US <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X15002985#bib6" target="_blank" rel="noopener">research in 2016</a> found fishing gear poses the biggest entanglement threats to marine fauna such as sea turtles, marine mammals, seabirds and whales.</p> <p>Other marine wildlife including sawfish, dugong, hammerhead sharks and crocodiles are also known to get <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1442-8903.2010.00525.x" target="_blank" rel="noopener">entangled in fishing gear</a>. Other <a href="https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/conl.12781" target="_blank" rel="noopener">key problematic items</a> include balloons and plastic bags.</p> <p>Lost fishing gear is not only an environmental risk, but it also has an economic impact for the fishers themselves. Every metre of lost net or line is a cost to the fisher – not only to replace the gear but also in its potential catch.</p> <p> </p> <p>Additionally, many fisheries have already gone through significant reforms to reduce their environmental impact and improve the sustainability of their operations.</p> <p>Some losses are attributable to how gear is operated. For instance, bottom trawl nets – which can get caught on reefs – are lost more often that nets that don’t make contact with the sea floor.</p> <p>The conditions of the ocean can also make a significant difference. For example, fishers commonly reported that bad weather and overcrowding contributes to gear losses. Conflicts between gears coming into contact can also result in gear losses, such as when towed nets cross drifting longlines or gillnets.</p> <p>Where fish are depleted, fishers must expend more effort, operate in worse conditions or locations, and are more likely to come in contact with others’ gear. All these features increase losses.</p> <h2>What do we do about it?</h2> <p>We actually found lower levels of fishing gear losses in our current study than in <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/faf.12407" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a previous review</a> of the historical literature on the topic. Technological improvements, such as better weather forecasts and improved marking and tracking of fishing gear may be reducing loss rates.</p> <p>Incentives can further reduce losses resulting in ghost gear. This could include buyback programs for end-of-life fishing gear, reduced cost loans for net replacement, and waste receptacles in ports to encourage fishers to return used fishing gear.</p> <p>Technological improvements and management interventions could also make a difference, such as requirements to mark and track gear, as well as regular gear maintenance and repairs.</p> <p>Developing effective fishing management systems can improve food security, leave us with a healthier environment, and create more profitable businesses for the fishers who operate in it.</p> <p><strong>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/740-000km-of-fishing-line-and-14-billion-hooks-we-reveal-just-how-much-fishing-gear-is-lost-at-sea-each-year-192024" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </strong></p> <p><em>Image: CSIRO</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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The world is about to hit eight billion people

<p>The world is expected to have eight billion people living on it by 15 November this year, according to the United Nations. And India will become Earth’s most populated country in 2023.</p> <p>These are among the latest projections <a href="https://www.un.org/development/desa/pd/sites/www.un.org.development.desa.pd/files/wpp2022_summary_of_results.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">published</a> by the UN in its World Population Prospects report, which also highlights the rapid decline in global population growth – now at its slowest rate since 1950 – continuing into the second half of the century.</p> <p>“The cumulative effect of lower fertility, if maintained over several decades, could be a more substantial deceleration of global population growth in the second half of the century,” says UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs population division director John Wilmoth.</p> <p>The UN predicts global population could reach a further 8.5 billion by the end of this decade, 9.7 billion by 2050, and peak at 10.4 billion by the end of the century.</p> <p>That’s a reduction of around 300 million people in 2100 from its estimates <a href="https://population.un.org/wpp/Publications/Files/WPP2019_Highlights.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">three years ago</a>.</p> <p>It’s still higher than other projections in recent years, suggesting the world population might peak before the end of the century.</p> <p><a href="https://www.thelancet.com/action/showPdf?pii=S0140-6736%2820%2930677-2" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Research</a> from the University of Washington, US, published in 2020 predicted that the world population would peak at about 9.73 billion in 2064, observing that increases in female education and access to contraception would see declines in fertility and population growth.</p> <p>That followed a 2018 <a href="https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/id/eprint/15226/1/lutz_et_al_2018_demographic_and_human_capital.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">report</a> from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre that predicted a peak of 9.8 billion between 2070 and 2080, but also suggested rapid social development and education reach in line with sustainable development goals could see a peak of 8.9 billion by 2060.</p> <p>The reason for these different projections comes down to the assumptions researchers make along the way.</p> <p>At the most basic level, explains Associate Professor Gour Dasvarma, from Flinders University in Adelaide, a population projection considers trends in birth and death rates.</p> <p>“Projections are done by extrapolating past trends, long term trends in fertility, mortality and migration for a country population,” he explains. “For the world population, migration doesn’t matter.</p> <p>“One of the things with the projections is that as and when new data become available, people will revise those.</p> <p>“The latest predictions for the UN is that the world’s population will peak at 10.4 billion by 2100 and then it will start declining.</p> <p>“By that time, the trends indicate that fertility in most of the countries of the world will have declined to a sufficiently low level, the ageing of the population will take hold, and the so-called momentum of population growth will slow down.”</p> <div class="newsletter-box"> <div id="wpcf7-f6-p197949-o1" class="wpcf7" dir="ltr" lang="en-US" role="form"> <form class="wpcf7-form mailchimp-ext-0.5.62 spai-bg-prepared init" action="/people/world-population-eight-billion/#wpcf7-f6-p197949-o1" method="post" novalidate="novalidate" data-status="init"> <p style="display: none !important;"><span class="wpcf7-form-control-wrap referer-page"><input class="wpcf7-form-control wpcf7-text referer-page spai-bg-prepared" name="referer-page" type="hidden" value="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/" data-value="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/" aria-invalid="false" /></span></p> <p><!-- Chimpmail extension by Renzo Johnson --></form> </div> </div> <p><strong>What are the world’s population trends?</strong></p> <p>Nations transition through <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/society/watch-the-human-population-skyrocket-in-200-years/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener" data-type="URL" data-id="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/society/watch-the-human-population-skyrocket-in-200-years/">cycles of population growth</a>, stability and decline as their economies develop. From periods of stability with high birth and death rates, populations increase as mortality drops.</p> <p>Over time, fertility rates begin to decline, causing stabilisation in population numbers. It’s only when death rates nudge above births that populations begin to naturally decrease.</p> <p>For nations like those in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, this demographic transition was completed between the pre-industrial era and the mid-20th century – a period of about 200 years.</p> <p>“But after 1950, some developing countries like China, other parts of Southeast Asia […] and also Latin America have done it within 70 years because of the increase of contraceptives and faster decline in fertility,” says Dasvarma.</p> <p>With life expectancy projections increasing, nations in the Global South will continue to see their populations to do likewise.</p> <p>Although more than half of the world’s population lives in East, South-east (29% of global population), Central and Southern Asia (26%), the UN expects these regions along with Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and Northern America to begin declining before the end of the century.</p> <p>In contrast, sub-Saharan African nations are likely to keep growing through 2100, while the next quarter century will see over half of the world’s population increase come from just eight nations.</p> <p>They include India – which will overtake China to be the world’s most populous nation next year – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tanzania.</p> <p><strong>Populations are ageing quickly</strong></p> <p>Two thirds of the world’s population now live in areas where lifetime fertility has dropped below 2.1 births. Long term, that equates to zero population growth: one child to replace each parent in nations with low mortality.</p> <p>COVID-19 has also impacted population data – with a drop in global life expectancy (now 71, down from 72.9 before the pandemic) and short-term decreases in pregnancies and births.</p> <p>But the pandemic’s impact was unevenly distributed around the world. In regions hardest hit by deaths, life expectancy at birth dropped by nearly three years. In contrast Australia and New Zealand saw this indicator increase by more than a year, likely thanks to border closures imposed throughout much of 2020.</p> <p>These decreases in national fertility rates will see populations age further in the coming years.</p> <p>By the century’s midpoint, 16% of the global population is expected to be aged over 65 – the same proportion as people under 12 years of age. It’s prompted the UN to recommend nations with ageing populations invest in social safety nets to meet the needs of older people.</p> <p><!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --></p> <p><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=197949&amp;title=The+world+is+about+to+hit+eight+billion+people" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><!-- End of tracking content syndication --></p> <div id="contributors"> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/world-population-eight-billion/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/matthew-agius" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Matthew Agius</a>. Matthew Agius is a science writer for Cosmos Magazine.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p> </div>

Caring

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Labor’s proposed $10 billion social housing fund isn’t big as it seems, but it could work

<p>The centrepiece of Labor’s election program so far is its A$10 billion social housing policy, officially called the <a href="https://alp.org.au/policies/housing_future_fund">Housing Australia Future Fund</a>.</p> <p>In the first five years the fund would be used to build</p> <ul> <li> <p>20,000 social housing properties for people on low incomes - 4,000 of the 20,000 for women and children fleeing violence and for low income older women at risk of homelessness</p> </li> <li> <p>10,000 “affordable” housing properties</p> </li> <li> <p>$200 million for the repair, maintenance and improvements of housing in remote Indigenous communities</p> </li> <li> <p>$100 million for crisis and transitional housing for women and children fleeing violence and for low income older women at risk of homelessness</p> </li> <li> <p>$30 million to build more housing and fund specialist services for veterans who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness</p> </li> </ul> <p>Although needed, its a far short of the 100,000 extra social housing units we would have had if social housing been growing in line with total housing in recent years, a gap that is climbing by 4,000 homes a year.</p> <p>And, like the frilled-neck lizard, the $10 billion looks much bigger than it is.</p> <p>Labor could probably do what it has promised to do for $450 million per year.</p> <p>Instead, it says it would borrow $10 billion at low interest rates, invest the money for much higher returns, and use the proceeds to pay for the program.</p> <p>If the fund earns 4.5% more than the cost of borrowing it’ll get the $450 million per year. Rather than use the money to build the houses it will use the money to fund service payments to community housing providers who build them.</p> <p>As Labor points out, it’s a mechanism used by the current government, which has set up five such funds in addition to the <a href="https://www.futurefund.gov.au/">Future Fund</a> used to fund public service pensions (of which more later).</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/440171/original/file-20220111-13-1erhnaj.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/440171/original/file-20220111-13-1erhnaj.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption"></span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://alp.org.au/policies/housing_future_fund" class="source">Extract from Labor's Housing Australia Future Fund election policy</a></span></p> <p>Two of these funds, the Medical Research Future Fund and the Disability Care Australia Fund are actually bigger than the proposed Housing Fund.</p> <p>A problem with this structure designed to make the commitment look bigger than it is is that spending on social housing will depend on the returns of the fund.</p> <p>Allocating money from one source to spending on one particular purpose is called <a href="https://www.cis.org.au/app/uploads/2015/07/pm75.pdf">hypothecation</a>, a word closely related to “<a href="https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/429589/is-hypothecate-anything-to-do-in-origin-or-meaning-with-hypothetical/570700">hypothetical</a>”.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/440181/original/file-20220111-19-6m0mfi.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/440181/original/file-20220111-19-6m0mfi.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Medicare funding is independent of the levy.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Dean Lewins/AAP</span></span></p> <p>The Medicare Levy of 2% of most taxable incomes is intended to be for funding Medicare, but funds only part of it.</p> <p>In contrast, there doesn’t appear to be any plan to guarantee payments for social housing if in any year the Social Housing Fund fails to make money.</p> <p>The bigger question is whether it makes sense for governments to use funds like the Future Fund to put money into income-generating investments in private companies (the Future Fund invests in <a href="https://cdn.theconversation.com/static_files/files/1918/20200630_-_Top_100_largest_listed_equity_holdings.pdf">Apple, Microsoft and the Commonwealth Bank</a>) or to use any available funds to pay down government debt.</p> <p>The answer depends in part on whether the profits the funds earn are genuine or mere compensation for the risky business of investing in shares, which can always go wrong.</p> <p>My work on the so-called “equity premium”, the excess return for investing in shares, suggests that is <a href="https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/15061616.pdf">genuine</a> and exceeds what’s needed to compensate for risk, making investment in the stock market an appealing option for governments in the absence of better opportunities.</p> <p>But the premium is not limitless, for two reasons.</p> <p>One is that if governments borrow enough and buy enough shares, we can reasonably expected the government’s cost of borrowing to rise and the rate of return on shares to fall, reducing the equity premium.</p> <p>The other is that if buying shares is pursued far enough, governments will become major, or even majority, shareholders in large businesses, effectively becoming owners.</p> <h2>Future funds should invest in what governments do best</h2> <p>Long experience suggests that while governments are quite good at running some types of businesses (especially those involving infrastructure and requiring large amounts of capital) they are not nearly as good at running others. Retailing comes to mind.</p> <p>If we accept that large debt-financed public investment can make sense, it follows that governments should own as much as 100% of some types of businesses (businesses such as Telstra come to mind) and little or none of others, such as shopping centres, which Australia’s government <a href="https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7139681/the-sale-of-belconnen-mall/">did indeed once own</a>.</p> <p>And that was generally the way Australia’s economy worked during the brief period of broadly shared-prosperity in the mid-20th century.</p> <p>Governments borrowed at low rates and invested in physical and social infrastructure, such as roads and communications services.</p> <p>The more funds there are like Labor’s proposed Housing Australia Future Fund the more likely it is we will get back there.<!-- 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/174406/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><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/john-quiggin-2084">John Quiggin</a>, Professor, School of Economics, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></span></p> <p>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/labors-proposed-10-billion-social-housing-fund-isnt-big-as-it-seems-but-it-could-work-174406">original article</a>.</p>

Real Estate

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Making the tobacco industry pay for cigarette litter could stop 4.5 billion butts polluting the Australian environment

<p>Cigarette butts with filters are the most commonly littered item worldwide, with a staggering <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5347528/">4.5 trillion</a> of them tossed into the environment each year. This is a huge problem; many end up on <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935119300787">beaches and in the ocean</a>, and the tar from burnt tobacco in the filter can be toxic to wildlife.</p> <p>Fixing the problem has focused on changing the behaviour of people who smoke, but a <a href="https://www.wwf.org.au/ArticleDocuments/353/pub-WWF-Australia-Ending-cigarette-butt-pollution-3Dec21.pdf.aspx">new report</a> shows making the tobacco industry responsible for the litter with a mandatory product stewardship scheme is likely to have a much greater impact.</p> <p>In Australia alone, it’s estimated up to 8.9 billion butts are littered each year. Under the proposed scheme, we could potentially reduce this by 4.45 billion a year.</p> <p>So how can it be done in practice? And what would the benefits be from a policy like this?</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433353/original/file-20211123-15-8zbai4.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433353/original/file-20211123-15-8zbai4.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Three wrens around a cigarette butt" /></a> <span class="caption">Smoked cigarette filters take months or even years to break down.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></p> <h2>Social and environmental costs</h2> <p>Cigarette filters are made of a bioplastic called cellulose acetate, and they typically take <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0117393">years to break down</a>. Smoked cigarette filters are infused with the same chemicals and heavy metals in the tar that harm humans when they smoke.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/cigarette-butts-are-the-forgotten-plastic-pollution-and-they-could-be-killing-our-plants-119958">Research from 2019 found</a> adding cigarette butts to soil reduces the germination of grass and clover seeds and the length of their shoots. Seaworms exposed to used filters have <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/srep14119">DNA damage and reduced growth</a>.</p> <p>And exposure to cigarette filters (even unsmoked ones) are toxic to fish – <a href="https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/20/Suppl_1/i25?utm_source=TrendMD&amp;utm_medium=cpc&amp;utm_campaign=TC_TrendMD-0">research with two fish species </a> found adding two to four smoked cigarette filters per litre of water could kill them.</p> <p>Currently, the tobacco industry does not have to pay for the clean-up of cigarette butts polluting the environment. Rather, the community bears the cost. Cigarette litter and its management <a href="https://www.wwf.org.au/ArticleDocuments/353/pub-WWF-Australia-Ending-cigarette-butt-pollution-3Dec21.pdf.aspx">costs</a> the Australian economy an estimated A$73 million per year.</p> <p>Local councils in particular spend large amounts of money cleaning it up. The City of Sydney, for example, has estimated their cleaning crews sweep up <a href="https://campaignbrief.com/the-city-of-sydney-launches-ci/">15,000 cigarette butts daily</a> from city streets.</p> <p>And volunteers spend countless hours picking up cigarette butts from parks, streets and beaches. In its 2020 Rubbish Report, Clean Up Australia Day found cigarette butts accounted for <a href="https://www.cleanup.org.au/cigarette-butts">16% of all recorded items</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433349/original/file-20211123-19-1qwxthm.JPG?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433349/original/file-20211123-19-1qwxthm.JPG?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Two smiling men hold bags of rubbish" /></a> <span class="caption">Volunteers, such as for Clean Up Australia Day, spend countless hours picking up cigarette butts from the enviornment.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Glengarry Landcare VIC/Clean Up Australia</span></span></p> <h2>Current strategies are ineffective</h2> <p>The tobacco industry response to product waste has been to focus <a href="https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/20/2/100">responsibility on the consumer</a>. Tobacco companies have created public education campaigns aimed at increasing awareness of the butt litter problem, supplied consumers and cities worldwide with public ashtrays, and funded anti-litter groups.</p> <p>But given the amount of cigarettes that continue to be littered, it’s clear these strategies on their own have been ineffective. Many around the world are <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-explores-next-steps-to-clean-up-tobacco-litter-in-england">now calling for stronger industry regulation</a>.</p> <p>There have also been calls to ban cigarette filters completely. For example, lawmakers in <a href="https://calmatters.org/environment/2019/06/california-cigarette-butt-filter-ban-bill-electronic-disposable-vapes/">California</a> and New York have attempted to ban the sale of cigarettes with filters, and New Zealand is finalising their <a href="https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/proposals_for_a_smokefree_aotearoa_2025_action_plan-final.pdf">Smokefree Aotearoa Action Plan</a>, which may include a cigarette filter ban.</p> <p>Many jurisdictions in Australia and worldwide are starting to ban single-use plastics such as straws and takeaway containers, and have <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/367/bmj.l5890">been criticised</a> for not including cigarette filters in these laws.</p> <p>If filters were banned, cigarette butt litter would remain, but without the plastic filter. Although, <a href="https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/early/2021/11/18/tobaccocontrol-2021-056815">a recent trial</a> of cigarettes without filters found that people smoked fewer of these than when they were given the same cigarettes with filters. More research is needed on the health impact of smoking filterless cigarettes and the environmental impact of filterless cigarette butts.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433352/original/file-20211123-27-d6ktd4.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433352/original/file-20211123-27-d6ktd4.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">A pubic cigarette butt disposal facility in Salem, US.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></p> <h2>What would a stewardship scheme look like?</h2> <p>The federal government’s <a href="https://www.awe.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/national-plastics-plan-2021.pdf">National Plastics Plan</a>, released in March this year, committed to initiate a stewardship taskforce that would reduce cigarette butt litter in Australia, and would consider a potential stewardship scheme. However, they proposed the stewardship taskforce be industry led.</p> <p>Product stewardship schemes can be voluntary or written into law. For example, waste from product packaging is managed through a voluntary scheme, the <a href="https://www.awe.gov.au/environment/protection/waste/plastics-and-packaging/packaging-covenant">Australian Packaging Covenant</a>, which sets targets for reducing packaging waste that aren’t written into law. On the other hand, <a href="https://www.awe.gov.au/environment/protection/waste/product-stewardship/products-schemes/television-computer-recycling-scheme">there is a law in Australia</a> requiring companies who manufacture TVs or computers to pay some of the costs for recycling these products.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.wwf.org.au/ArticleDocuments/353/pub-WWF-Australia-Ending-cigarette-butt-pollution-3Dec21.pdf.aspx">new research</a>, commissioned by World Wildlife Fund for Nature Australia, considered four regulatory approaches: business as usual, a ban on plastic filters, a voluntary industry product stewardship scheme, and a mandatory product stewardship scheme led by the federal government.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433344/original/file-20211123-13-tpimfd.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;rect=0%2C16%2C5442%2C3600&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433344/original/file-20211123-13-tpimfd.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;rect=0%2C16%2C5442%2C3600&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="A hand in blue plastic gloves holds a cigarette butt on the beach" /></a> <span class="caption">Cigarette litter costs the Australian economy an estimated A$73 million each year.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Brian Yurasits/Unsplash</span>, <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/" class="license">CC BY</a></span></p> <p>Each of these options were ranked according to factors such as the regulatory effort required to implement them, their cost, consumer participation and the extent to which they would reduce environmental impacts on land and waterways.</p> <p>A ban on plastic cigarette filters and a mandatory product stewardship scheme were assessed as having the greatest potential environmental benefit. While uncertainties remain about a filter ban, there is no such barrier to implementing a mandatory product stewardship scheme on cigarette waste.</p> <p>This scheme could involve a tax that would pay for the recovery and processing costs associated with cigarette butt litter. The study suggested introducing a levy of A$0.004 – less than half a cent – on each smoked cigarette to manage the waste. Other studies from overseas, however, show this cost would need to be <a href="https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/20/Suppl_1/i36.full">higher</a>.</p> <p>We can look to the UK for an example of where to start. The UK is currently considering implementing an extended producer responsibility scheme to address cigarette litter. In November this year, it released a <a href="https://consult.defra.gov.uk/environmental-quality/call-for-evidence-on-commonly-littered-and-problem/supporting_documents/Call%20for%20evidence%20document.pdf">consultation document</a> on different options.</p> <p>They proposed a mandatory scheme where the tobacco industry would pay for the full costs of cleaning up and processing cigarette waste. Other costs they might be made to pay are for gathering and reporting data on tobacco product waste, provision of bins for cigarette butts, and campaigns to promote responsible disposal by consumers.</p> <p>It is time for the federal and state governments in Australia to make the tobacco industry pay for the mess they create.<!-- 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/171831/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><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kylie-morphett-1271253">Kylie Morphett</a>, Research Fellow, School of Public Health, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/coral-gartner-7425">Coral Gartner</a>, Director, NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence on Achieving the Tobacco Endgame, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/william-clarke-380521">William Clarke</a>, Professor of waste management, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></span></p> <p>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/making-the-tobacco-industry-pay-for-cigarette-litter-could-stop-4-5-billion-butts-polluting-the-australian-environment-171831">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Shuttershock</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Welcome to Telosa: the $400 billion city built from scratch

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The city of Telosa: where everyone is equal, the future is sustainable, the opportunities are innovative and the city is for everyone. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While this utopian city sounds like the perfect place to live, it doesn’t actually exist yet. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Telosa is the latest project from former Walmart executive and e-commerce billionaire Marc Lore, who wants to create the world’s first “woke” city from scratch. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">He unveiled his elaborate plans with an </span><a href="https://cityoftelosa.com/#telosa"><span style="font-weight: 400;">interactive website</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, where he explains that the name Telosa comes from the Ancient Greek word Telos, meaning “highest purpose.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The mission of Telosa is to create a more equitable, sustainable future. That’s our North Star,” Lore said in a promotional video. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We are going to be the most open, the most fair and the most inclusive city in the world.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The city will run to Lore’s unique economic vision that he dubs “Equitism” in which the land upon which the city is built will be donated to a community endowment.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“If you went into the desert where the land was worth nothing, or very little, and you created a foundation that owned the land, and people moved there and tax dollars built infrastructure and we built one of the greatest cities in the world, the foundation could be worth a trillion dollars,” Lore told </span><a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-09-01/how-diapers-com-founder-marc-lore-plans-to-build-utopian-city-telosa"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Bloomberg Businessweek</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“And if the foundation’s mission was to take the appreciation of the land and give it back to the citizens in the form of medicine, education, affordable housing, social services: Wow, that’s it!”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The city aims to tackle America’s rapidly growing wealth gap, which Lore believes is “going to bring down America”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“While the current economic system is a growth engine, it has led to increasing inequality,” the project’s website explains. “Equitism is inclusive growth.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The beginning phase of the project will be built to accommodate 50,000 residents across roughly 1,500 acres at a cost of $25 billion, and is targeted for completion by 2030.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The project’s planners have yet to commit to a location for Telosa, but the website identifies Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Texas and the Appalachian region as possible sites.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Digital renderings of the utopia show an expanse of space for pedestrians to stroll through the metropolis, as well as including aircrafts known as the electric “air taxi” start-up, in which Lore is a key investor. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Another image on the site shows a skyscraper called Equitism tower that houses elevated water storage, aeroponic farms and an energy-producing roof.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite the buzz about the unique city, Sarah Moser, an associate professor of geography at Montreal’s McGill University, puts Lore’s chances of success at roughly zero.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">She cites approximately 150 similar projects that have been pitched, and all resulted in failure. </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credits: cityoftelosa.com</span></em></p>

Technology

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"Oh my God": Woman discovers $1 billion in her bank account

<p>American woman Julia Yonkowski got the surprise of her life when she went to withdraw $20 from her bank account and saw $1 billion instead.</p> <p>According to the bank receipt she received from Chase Bank, she had $999,985,855.94 in her account.</p> <p>“Oh my God, I was horrified. I know most people would think they won the lottery but I was horrified,” she explained.</p> <p>“When I put in for the $20, the machine came back and said we’ll give you the $20 but that’ll cause an overdraft and you will be charged and I said, ‘Oh just forget it,’”.</p> <p>She hasn't touched her account since Saturday night.</p> <p>“I know I’ve read stories about people that took the money or took out money, and then they had to repay it and I wouldn’t do that anyway because it’s not my money,” she said.</p> <p>“It kind of scares me because you know with cyber threats. You know I don’t know what to think.”</p> <p>She's tried reaching out to Chase Bank several times but gets "tied up" with their automated system.</p> <p>“I just can’t get through. I get tied up with their automated system and I can’t get a person,” she said.</p> <p>However, a representative for Chase Bank confirmed that the high amount of money was a fraud prevention method.</p> <p>It also explains why Yonkowski wasn't able to get the original $20 she tried to withdraw from her account.</p> <p>According to the bank, Yonkowski's late husband was also named on the joint account and the bank requires proper documentation to release the account to a sole individual.</p>

Money & Banking

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Treasurer Josh Frydenberg admits $60 billion JobKeeper error is “regrettable”

<p>Prime Minister Scott Morrison has taken responsibility for a “regrettable” $60 billion JobKeeper reporting error.</p> <p>In an opinion piece published on <em>The Australian </em>Monday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Treasury massively overestimated the number of people who would need the JobKeeper wage subsidy because it assumed in March the COVID-19 health crisis would be much worse.</p> <p>The Federal Government had previously said more than 6 million workers would receive $1,500 fortnightly wage subsidy, but on Friday admitted that the scheme would only cover about half that number.</p> <p>It also revised the program’s estimated cost from $130 billion to $70 billion.</p> <p>“Ultimately, I have to take responsibilities for those things,” Morrison said on Sunday.</p> <p>“So sure, the estimate was overstated.</p> <p>“But what it means is Australians won’t have to borrow as much money. This is not money that is sitting in the bank somewhere, this $60 billion, that is all money that would have otherwise had to be borrowed.”</p> <p>On Friday, Frydenberg said the mistake was “good news” and had been picked up before it impacted the payments that the government had already released.</p> <p>“It is welcome news that the impact on the public purse from the program will not be as great as initially estimated,” he said.</p> <p>Labor has called for Frydenberg to explain the miscalculation to a Senate inquiry.</p> <p>Opposition Senate Leader Penny Wong told the ABC’s <em>Insiders</em> the mistake was a “$60 billion black hole in the economic credibility” of the government.</p> <p>“When you’ve got a budget blunder of this size, I reckon it’s about time you fronted up and explained it,” Wong said.</p> <p>Wong previously said the $60 billion should be used to expand the JobKeeper program to include more casuals.</p> <p>Frydenberg said he would not answer calls from Labor to front a senate committee.</p> <p>“This is just a political stunt from the Labor Party,” he told the ABC on Monday.</p>

Money & Banking

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What has happened to the $1.6 billion donated to restore Notre Dame

<p>It seems like a whole world away, but long before COVID-19, the world was brought to a standstill by the fire that gutted Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral.</p> <p>The fire occurred on April 15th and was all that anyone could talk about as the 850-year-old landmark and priceless artefacts were destroyed by a blaze that ripped through the cathedral.</p> <p>It motivated some of the world’s richest people into action, and within days, 1.6 billion had been pledged by France’s wealthiest individuals and corporations to restore the Roman Catholic cathedral.</p> <p>However, many are curious as to whether or not they will pay up. Six months after the fire, only some of the money from wealthy donors materialised. Early work to repair the building replied on $59 billion in smaller donations from individuals and businesses.</p> <p>As the first anniversary of the fire approaches, where are the billions for the Notre Dame?</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/B97A_xlhZ7w/?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/B97A_xlhZ7w/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris (@notredamedeparis)</a> on Mar 19, 2020 at 9:35am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>This week, the Foundation Notre Dame, which is the largest of the four official charities overseeing the repairs, said that all of the donor pledges have come through.</p> <p>"I can confirm that all the companies that committed to pay money for the restoration of the cathedral to the Notre Dame Foundation have either already paid it in full or have contracted to pay it as and when needs," the foundation's funding director Jean-Michel Mangeot said to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.businessinsider.sg/notre-dame-fire-one-year-reparations-billionaire-donations-progress-2020-3" target="_blank">Business Insider</a></em>.</p> <p>The other three charities raising money have not revealed the status of the pledges they have received.</p> <p>The future of the cathedral remains unclear due to the coronavirus pandemic delaying vital work, with 500 tonnes of melted metal lattice on the roof of the weakened building threatening to come down at any minute.</p> <p>It is not currently known when workers are able to start repairing the cathedral. </p>

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Australia’s $130 billion JobKeeper payment: what the experts think

<p>The A$130 billion payment will be benefit six million of Australia’s 13 million employees through their employers.</p> <p>It will ensure each employee kept on in a business that has lost custom gets at least <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-key-to-the-success-of-the-130-billion-wage-subsidy-is-retrospective-paid-work-135042">$1,500 per fortnight</a> for six months. But the devil is in the detail.</p> <p>We asked three experts to pick the package apart.</p> <p><strong>Steven Hamilton</strong></p> <p><em>Visiting Scholar, Tax and Transfer Policy Institute, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University</em></p> <p>This is a welcome <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Fact_sheet_supporting_businesses_1.pdf">move</a> by the government that will keep many businesses afloat and connected to their employees, which are critical to a speedy recovery. It is commendable that the government reversed course so quickly given rapidly deteriorating economic conditions.</p> <p>You can’t shut down the economy for months without providing massive support to businesses and workers. At A$130 billion, this package alone is worth 12% of the economy over the next six months. Along with the measures already announced, it takes our fiscal support to a similar scale as recently legislated in the United States.</p> <p>Targeting only businesses experiencing a revenue loss limits profiteering. Those currently doing well won’t get unneeded support. It applies to all full-time, part-time, and long-term casual employees, as well as the self-employed, and it forces all participating firms to pay workers at least the $1,500 per fortnight subsidy.</p> <p>It could have several unintended consequences. It might encourage firms to limit sales to push revenue down below the turnover threshold.</p> <p>For example, for Qantas the subsidy would be almost $600 million, but to receive it, its revenue will need to fall to 50% below where it was this time last year. That might discourage it from reopening routes, which would slow the recovery.</p> <p>The scheme will also make it harder for businesses desperately in need of staff (such as supermarkets) to hire new workers from currently struggling businesses.</p> <p>To do so, they would need to entice workers to move from what might be suddenly better-paid jobs (everyone benefiting from the scheme must receive at least $1,500 per fortngiht) to less well paid ones.</p> <p>And the choice to subsidise the largest businesses in Australia is questionable.</p> <p>The major banks are excluded, but every other large company with at least a 50% reduction in revenue is included. Specific, targeted measures for the worst-affected industries might have been a better approach.</p> <p><strong>David Peetz</strong></p> <p><em>Professor of Employment Relations, Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing, Griffith University</em></p> <p>Dangers often associated with wage subsidy schemes — like wasting money on jobs that would have been created anyway, or substituting one type of worker for another — aren’t much of a concern when a wage subsidy is introduced in an environment in which revenue and employment is diving.</p> <p>Making the scheme <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Fact_sheet_Info_for_Employers_0.pdf">temporary</a>, and restricting it to firms facing a 30% drop in revenue (50% for big businesses) greatly reduces this danger.</p> <p>That said, the scheme will mainly target workers at or near the minimum wage. That’s because the payment is set close to the minimum wage.</p> <p>In effect, firms can rehire or keep on minimum-wage workers for free.</p> <p>For workers on average full-time adult earnings, which are about twice the minimum wage, the subsidy is nowhere near as big. Many are still likely to lose their jobs, as we have already seen.</p> <p>And the scheme introduces strange incentives. The same payment is received for a part-time worker as for a full-time worker on any wage. (The weekend leak that part-timers would be excluded seems to have been a furphy.)</p> <p>Many part-timers’ wages will be less than the subsidy. But the employer still has to pay them the $750 per week. The payroll is simpler the fewer employees are on it, so the employer might give one part-timer the bulk of the hours and retrench the others.</p> <p>Many part-timers are casuals, though, and they aren’t covered unless they are “<a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Fact_sheet_supporting_businesses_1.pdf">long term</a>” casuals (seemingly a contradiction in terms).</p> <p>This means many casuals can expect to be sacked in favour of workers who can be put into “free” $750 per week jobs.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the superannuation guarantee no longer applies to wages covered by the jobseeker payment, including wages the employer would have paid anyway. That’s something that could lead to all sorts of legal complexities in the future.</p> <p><strong>Anthony Forsyth</strong></p> <p><em>Professor of Workplace Law, RMIT University</em></p> <p>My comments focus on the government’s claim that its JobKeeper payment is more generous and broader than the UK’s <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses">Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme</a>.</p> <p>Australia’s scheme is definitely <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Fact_sheet_Info_for_Employees_0.pdf">broader</a>, with the aim of providing support to up to six million Australians over coming months.</p> <p>Eligibility will depend on a business suffering at least 30% reduced turnover or 50% for businesses with more than $1 billion turnover.</p> <p>It enables employees to receive income support payments where they have been stood down, or already made redundant where the business wants to rehire the employee with Jobkeeper payment support. In the UK, only “furloughed” employees (stood down) are eligible for payments.</p> <p>But the UK scheme provides payments to those on “zero hours contracts” (akin to casuals). Where hours have varied, payments are based on last year’s average.</p> <p>However in Australia, casuals can only claim Jobkeeper payment where they have been employed for at least 12 months. Many casual workers will be ineligible given the high turnover in hard-hit sectors such as accommodation, cafés and food services.</p> <p>Casual teaching contracts in universities are often for less than a year.</p> <p>As for generosity, Australia’s Jobkeeper payment of around A$3,000 per month is far lower than the UK’s, which is £2,500 per month, worth more than A$5,000.</p> <p>Australia’s payment is 70% of the median wage. The government’s claim that employees in retail and hospitality will get the median wage in those industries simply reinforces their low-paid status to begin with.</p> <p>The government specifically mentioned that New Zealanders working in Australia would be able to access the JobKeeper payment along with some other categories of visa</p> <p>But the Victorian Trades Hall’s Migrant Workers Centre believes this will leave 1.1 million temporary migrant workers outside the scheme and needing assistance.</p> <p>Another gap is the hundreds of thousands of workers in the gig economy.</p> <p>We are relying more than ever on food delivery riders and drivers. Many are incorrectly categorised as self-employed contractors. JobKeeper will cover self-employed individuals but they must be able to show at least 30% decline in their turnover.</p> <p>Most gig workers will not have the business systems set up to demonstrate this, as they are in reality employees who have had supposed “contractor” status imposed on them by the platforms they provide services for.</p> <p><em>Written by Steven Hamilton, Anthony Forsyth and Devid Peetz. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/australias-130-billion-jobkeeper-payment-what-the-experts-think-135043"><em>The Conversation.</em></a></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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