09 August 2014

Missing trillions: European Central Bank says top one per cent actually richer than previously thought

Scrooge McDuck was never shy about his wealth.
Scrooge McDuck was never shy about his wealth. Source: Supplied
THE world’s richest one per cent is actually richer than previously thought, according to a new study by the European Central Bank. 

Apparently, rich people don’t like to reveal just how rich they are.

The study by ECB senior economist Philip Vermeulen argues inaccurate survey data provided by the super-rich has led to serious under-counting.

In the US, it has been estimated that the top one per cent own a third of total wealth, while the top five per cent own 59 per cent.

According to Mr Vermulen’s revised figures, which take into account data such as Forbes Rich Lists, the top one per cent of Americans may actually hold up to 37 per cent of the nation’s wealth.

With US household net worth estimated at $A80.88 trillion, a three per cent error could amount to $2.43 trillion in missing money — and billions of lost tax revenue.

Richer than we ever thought. Bill Gates’s fortune is estimated at $US80 billion. AFP PHOT
Richer than we ever thought. Bill Gates’s fortune is estimated at $US80 billion. AFP PHOTO / ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER Source: AFP
“The difficulty rests in the fact that much of our knowledge of the wealth distribution is derived from household surveys,” Mr Vermulen writes.

Those are the Survey of Consumer Finances in the US, and the more recent Household Finance and Consumption Survey in Europe.

“Measuring wealth at the top is always difficult with household surveys, as these are widely believed to suffer from various degrees of non-response and differential non-response.”

In other words, while most surveys suffer from non-response, rich people are far more likely not to respond, skewing the figures.

He argues these “missing rich” make it more difficult for economists and policymakers to do their jobs. “Not only do policymakers care about wealth for fiscal policy purposes, the share of wealth held at the very top has become an important parameter used to calibrate macro-economic models,” he writes.

However, Professor Sinclair Davidson of the School of Economics, Finance and Marketing at RMIT describes it as a “silly argument”, and that it’s “not the job of the wealthy to make life simpler for bureaucrats and modellers”.

“The fact that rich people have money makes it more difficult for modellers to model? That’s the tail wagging the dog,” Professor Davidson says.

“To be quite honest it’s one of those things that isn’t really that surprising, that the wealthiest people in society are wealthier than we imagine. Part of it is a privacy thing — we don’t really know who’s got what income in society generally. People to a certain extent want to keep their wealth secret.”

news.com.au 9 Aug 2014

It's quite astonishing how the corporate media does not really write about the trillionaire banking families like the Rothschilds (Red shields).

Quite simply put, governments allow the likes of the billionaires / trillionaires to 'hide' their fortunes in tax havens.

The very same actions done by mere mortals, have tax investigations and criminal proceedings initiated against them.

These people ARE corporate criminals and should be treated as such and NOT put on pedestals by the propaganda machine, the corporate media.

On a side note, tax collection in Australia, buy the ATO (Australian Tax Office) is unlawful.

08 August 2014

Data retention laws: Tony Abbott says Government 'seeking metadata', not targeting people's browsing history

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has sought to allay concerns about the impact of new security laws on privacy.

The Government announced yesterday that it would draft legislation to compel telephone and internet companies to keep metadata - information on customers' calls and internet use - for security agencies to access.

On Wednesday, Mr Abbott said authorities would be able to see what internet sites people were viewing.

"It is not what you're doing on the internet, it's the sites you're visiting," he told Channel Nine.

"It's not the content, it's just where you have been, so to speak."

But later Mr Abbott said the metadata to be collected would not include people's browsing history.

"We are not seeking content, we are seeking metadata," he said.

He used a metaphor to explain that "metadata is the material on the front of the envelope, and the contents of the letter will remain private".

What the Government says about 'metadata' and 'content'

  • For web browsing, "content" is anything user generated, eg: typing in a URL, clicking through to links or a Google search.
  • "Metadata" is information the system automatically puts in around the user-generated content, eg: IP addresses, number of visits to a site and length of time on a page.
  • An IP address viewed in the metadata would show a person visited a certain website, but would not show what specific pages they visited there, if they wrote anything there or viewed videos.
  • Currently, authorities can request access to metadata from telcos/ISPs, but they require a warrant for access to "content".

Read the full explanation

"All we want is for the telecommunications companies to continue to keep the person sending the information, the person to whom the information is being sent, the time it was sent and the place it was sent from," he added.

The Prime Minister's office later clarified that web-browsing history is considered content, not metadata, and authorities need a warrant to access it.

Metadata would also include the basic information about a phone call, such as the caller's location and the number they call. It does not include the content of the telephone conversation.

Federal Cabinet has given "in-principle" approval for new laws to require companies to keep the information for a certain amount of time, but the detail is unlikely to be known until the legislation is finalised later this year.

Many companies currently keep metadata, but it is understood the federal laws will mandate the information be retained longer.

But Attorney-General George Brandis, who is working on the draft laws, says he wants to make sure content is not included.

"We want to maintain the sharp distinction between metadata and content," he told Sky TV.

"Sometimes that distinction is blurred and that's why we are developing protocols to try and ensure the integrity of that distinction is maintained."

Brandis pressed to explain difference between metadata and content

The Attorney-General was pressed to explain that distinction, especially in terms of internet use.

"What the security agencies want to be retained is the electronic address of the website that the web user is visiting -  it tells you the address of the website," he said.

"When you visit a website people browse from one thing to the next and that browsing history won't be retained and there won't be any capacity to access that."

He added that, while this was "at its heart a counter-terrorism measure", the move would also boost the general crime-fighting ability of authorities.

"The fact is that access to metadata is an extremely useful criminal investigative tool," he said.

"When Jill Meagher was murdered in Victoria a little while ago it was access to metadata that assisted Victorian police in tracking down her killer - with a warrant.

"I've discussed this matter with my counterpart in the United Kingdom who tells me this is also used to track down paedophile rings."

Former federal police officer turned academic Nigel Phair says retaining metadata is a powerful tool on its own, without access to the "content".

"In many instances for law enforcement and national security organisations that metadata is more important and more valuable than the content itself," he said.

But Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson says the proposed changes are a threat to privacy.

"I dismiss the idea that metadata is just an irrelevant part of the discussion so long as it doesn't relate to content," he said.

Liberal frontbencher Stuart Robert says he has no problem with people's web-browsing history being stored.
"Not at all, keeping in mind Google already stores your browsing history as it is," he said.

Government needs to clarify definition of metadata: iiNet

Telcos have resisted the proposed security law changes, with Australia's second-biggest broadband provider, iiNet, saying a data retention system would cost it alone around $100 million.

The company's chief regulatory officer, Steve Dalby, told ABC's PM program last month that what is missing from the debate is the Government's definition of metadata.

"[What's missing is] some specifics about what is going to be retained," he said.

"When we talk about data retention, it can be everything from a very small amount to a mind-boggling amount of data that is generated when people use telecommunications services - whether that's telephony, which is on the low side, or it's the internet, which generates massive amounts of metadata."


Mr Dalby says iiNet received "confusing information" from the Government.

"We have a briefing paper from the Attorney-General's Department that goes back a few years that is very broad, and talks about a great range of metadata that should be collected and stored for up to two years," he said

"On the other hand, we've got comments from the Attorney-General himself that talk about telephone companies collecting routine metadata for the telephone billing purposes.

"We've got something in the middle of that which talks about collecting all the internet metadata, but somehow having the content stripped out of that. Metadata contains content.

"You know, we are confused. We need some clarity."

Mr Dalby says telcos have received feedback that the Government will not cover the cost of data retention.
"What the Government plans to do is to have the ISPs foot the bill for the collection, the storage, the safekeeping of that data and then when a law enforcement officer requires a search for some specific item then they will pay, I think, something like $25 a pop," he said.

Laws to crack down on home-grown terrorism

Other laws to crack down on home-grown terrorism will come before Parliament when it resumes later this month.

The Terrorism Foreign Fighter Bill will make it an offence to travel to certain locations the Government deems to be of "terrorist activity" unless the person can prove it was for humanitarian or family reasons.

The Government will also seek to broaden the laws to cover the prohibition of 'terrorism', rather than an individual act of terrorism, and make it an offence to promote or encourage terrorism.

The criteria for authorities to be granted control orders and search warrants will also be loosened.

Australia's spies are welcoming the Government's push to introduce tough new laws to tackle home-grown terrorists, but civil liberty groups say the likelihood of attacks is being exaggerated.

Barrister and spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance, Greg Barns, says the most concerning thing about the new bill is the attempt to lower the standard of proof for certain offences committed overseas.

"It's a gross undermining of a fundamental right that everyone has in the criminal justice system," he told ABC's The World Today program.

"And particularly so when one considers that the penalties, when found guilty of terrorism offences, effectively are from five years up to life.

"What you're going to find here, if you lower the standard of proof, you will get innocent people who will go to jail."

abc.net.au 7 Aug 2014

Another lie / false information / propaganda told by Abbott.

Internet browsing history IS part of 'metadata' and it WILL be stored. 

It's all part of the police state policy of the new age prison called Australia, where people are the 'real' enemy, where 'terrorism' is the excuse.

It's now official that 'mass surveillance' has been implemented.

07 August 2014

Australian Constitution and Act (1900) with original seal

This is the document you want without knowing you want it with regards to the Australian Constitution (1901).

The document is of the date of 9th of July 1900, and is titled "Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act", which also contains the Australian Constitution.

The document contains two parts, the first part being the Act, Section 1 - 8, and the second part the actual Commonwealth Constitution, from Section 9 onwards.

The 22 page pdf document is available for download at 605KB in size.

06 August 2014

NASA tests ‘impossible’ microwave engine that produces fuel out of empty space — and finds that it works

Closer to reality? NASA has tested a controversial “something from nothing” engine, and f
Closer to reality? NASA has tested a controversial “something from nothing” engine, and found it works. If verified, it could revolutionalise space travel. Source: Supplied
You cannae break the laws of physics ... Actor James Doohan as "Scotty" scene from film "
You cannae break the laws of physics ... Actor James Doohan as "Scotty" scene from film "Star Trek Generations". A new space-thrust engine has been named after his famous phrase. Source: News Corp Australia
‘I CANNAE break the laws of physics” Star Treks’ famous engineer “Scotty” would retort. But NASA has. They’ve produced something from nothing, and perhaps opened a way to the stars in the process. 

Scotty has to eat his hat: And the new microwave propulsion system has been named the “Cannae Drive”.

An initially sceptical NASA decided to test a widely criticised concept from inventor Roger Sawyer — even though established thinking said it wouldn’t work.

It did.

The engine appears to produce propulsion through electricity. And nothing else.

The usual expectation is that thrusters need to eject some kind of mass in order for the old law of physics “equal and opposite reactions” to kick in. For example rocket propellant is burnt and ejected from a thruster in order to propel a rocket upwards.

WHERE WOULD IT GO? The search for Earth 2.0
It’s the major problem all rocket scientists face: How to get the maximum thrust from a minimum weight of fuel.

This does not appear to be the case when it comes to quantum vacuum plasma thrusters — or microwave drives.

If proven, the engine would have significant implications for the space program.

Solar panels would provide satellites with all the energy they need to constantly adjust their orbits — boosting the life of such expensive devices significantly.

NASA’s Harold White — who is leading research into “warp drives” — has previously said engines such as this microwave drive have the potential to propel humanity to the closest star to the sun, Proxima Centauri. It could reach the red dwarf star, some 4.2 light years away, within 30 years.

To boldly go ... space propulsion has long been the domain of technobabble in shows such
To boldly go ... space propulsion has long been the domain of technobabble in shows such as Star Trek.

Now it’s no different in reality, with NASA testing a quantum vacuum plasma thruster. Source: News Corp Australia
They’re not sure how it works.

But NASA has gathered a pool of data suggesting it does.

It’s not a huge result: In fact, the thrust appears to be tiny — leading to some suggestion the experiment itself is flawed.

But the original microwave drive inventor has taken the opposite stance, saying NASA’s experiment produced far lower thrust outputs than his own.

Perhaps they should listen: Roger Sawyer has been met by largely deaf ears for the past decade as he attempted to extol the merits of his new drive.

While criticism of his concept was abundant, nobody has managed to prove it wrong.

Behind it all is some pretty speculative quantum physics.

At the tiniest of all known scales, the universe does not seem to obey its own rules.

One of the concepts this drive claims to exploit is an effect called quantum vacuum fluctuation: Where particles spontaneously create themselves in the vacuum of space, before quickly blinking out of existence again.

Somehow, these rare — here one minute, gone the next — particles are being captured and turned into plasma inside the microwave drive. This plasma, when directed, imparts thrust.

If true, it’s a source of fuel delivered direct to the engine — without weighty or dangerous fuel tanks.
And it’s constantly re-creating itself.

Too good to be true?

Ask Scotty.

news.com.au 4 Aug 2014


So now NASA can implement this technology to give everyone free energy!

How your car can be hacked

Our cars being hacked and controlled against our will is a scary thought. But how is it p
Our cars being hacked and controlled against our will is a scary thought. But how is it possible and more importantly is it likely to happen to us? Source: ThinkStock
CARS stacked with gadgets and electronics might sound great but all this equipment could be the very thing allowing hackers to take over your vehicle. 

In a report by CNN , security researchers were able to show how they disabled brakes and took control of the steering wheel in different models of car as a result of infiltrating its on-board electronics.

The likes of Bluetooth, AM/FM radio, in-car wi-fi, and keyless entry system could all be used as access points, which are connected on the same network as a car’s vital functions such as steering. The researchers explained how cars are full of computers that talk to each other and all a hacker has to do is work out how they communicate and trick the car by impersonating other trusted parts of the vehicle.

They demonstrated how they were able to disable the brakes at the press of a button as some models will shut off if a mechanic works on them. It worked at slower speeds but the vehicle was unable to stop and was sent careering off the road.

More disconcerting showed a Toyota Prius — a vehicle famous for its innovation and ability to steer itself into a parking space — with the hackers able to turn the steering wheel as it travelled along at speed.
The Toyota Prius might have hi-tech features but hackers were able to tap into them.
The Toyota Prius might have hi-tech features but hackers were able to tap into them. Source: Supplied
Okay, this sounds pretty scary but these were performed with the hacker inside the car who had access to instrument panels (they basically pulled the car apart) so we’re left a bit more relieved at the threat of being driven off against our will. But it does highlight the security flaws of a vehicle’s electronic systems being linked together — especially those crucial systems such as engine, braking and steering controls.

So is there any possibility our cars could be hijacked from afar? The short and (somewhat) scary answer to this is yes.

As well as newer cars being essentially connected to a potentially vulnerable wider network through their on-board wi-fi or GPS, cars also have what is called a CAN bus, which connects all the electronics in a network. Should this be hacked it could be possible for someone to completely control your vehicle just using a laptop.

But it would still require the hacker to get physically hands-on with the vehicle. A piece of hardware the size of an iPhone called CHT, developed by a security expert that takes just $25 worth of materials and can be plugged into the CAN bus. It’s possible it could manipulate the lights, handbrake, steering, pretty much everything you don’t want someone else to control from a remote location.

This tiny device could be a hacker’s key to your car.
This tiny device could be a hacker’s key to your car. Source: Supplied
It’s a hacker’s nature to find new weak spots for entry so a remote hack could very well be plausible.

The report explains how a driver could accidentally download a virus onto their mobile phone and then connect it to their car via Bluetooth. If that car’s Bluetooth is operating on the same system as the brakes then there could be trouble.

While you might look at all those blinking lights and systems a bit cockeyed next time you get into your car you can reassure yourself that it is still not easy to hack a car. Each car is still very sophisticated, with each speaking a different programming language that no one has access to. It would take time and expensive equipment to pull off a hack.

It might not sound like it after reading this but all that innovation has played an important role in actually making cars a lot safer. What we want is this innovation to come with airtight security and no risk our vehicle could become one big toy for hackers.

news.com.au 4 Aug 2014

Unidroit Principle - Australia member since 1973

Another (treasonous?) action by the Australian government (read corporation) that being a treaty signed behind the people's back to a foreign power regarding private contractual law.

This was done on the 20th of March 1973, as shown in the illustration below:

You can also download a 2010 version of the document at 498 pages and 2.2MB in pdf format below:

05 August 2014

Foreign Jobs Grab - The government destroying Australia's workforce

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James has launched an investigation into alleged exploitation
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James has launched an investigation into alleged exploitation of people on working holiday visas. 
AUSTRALIA could be swamped with millions of extra foreign workers over the next five years, according to a federal government agency. 

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James made the prediction as she launched an investigation into alleged exploitation of people on working holiday visas.

It is estimated there are more than one million foreigners with work rights — or 10 per cent of the national workforce — on temporary visas.

But Ms James said trends showed the number of overseas workers could rise to between 2.5 million and 3.5 million over the next five years, with an expected increase in vulnerable workers seeking help for job issues.

Foreigners with work rights include working holiday-makers, students, 457 skilled visa holders and people on bridging visas.

Dr Bob Birrell, of the Monash University Centre for Population and Urban Research, said these overseas workers were threatening the prospects of Australians looking for lower-skilled entry-level jobs.

“These migrants come from job-hungry situations and are prepared to take lower wages and conditions, which means employers tend to favour them for scarce jobs,” he said.

Dr Birrell welcomed the Ombudsman’s investigation into the work conditions of people on the 417 working holiday-maker visa, with 128,000 such visas issued in the first half of 2013-14.

The Ombudsman has received about 2000 requests for assistance from such visa holders during the past two years.

Cases include non-payment or underpayment of wages, and employees paying bosses and third parties in return for documentation to extend their visas up to the two-year limit.

Industries attracting most complaints were accommodation and food services, agriculture, forestry and fishing.

The Ombudsman has launched dozens of court actions on behalf of overseas workers, including against a WA cleaning company that was fined $344,000 for underpaying people.

heraldsun.com.au 4 Aug 2014

This is something called Financial Terrorism, by the Australian government, an assault on the workers of this country.

The official figures allegedly show that unemployment in Australia is under 800,000 people looking for work or approximately 6%.

This figure is deliberately falsified by the government.

While Australians are out of work, the government is importing cheap labour for the benefit of the corporate sector.

The Australian government is factually a business, a group of corporations (unlawfully) governing the people.


Corrupt Cops - Jodhi Meares drink-driving case: police to drop suspended licence charges, her lawyer tells court

Jodhi Meares drink-driving case: police to drop suspended licence charges, her lawyer tells court

Police may drop some charges against Jodhi Meares, the ex-wife of billionaire James Packer, in her high range drink-driving case, a Sydney court has been told.

The 43-year-old fashion designer, who is engaged to musician Jon Stevens, crashed into three parked cars in Bellevue Hill, in Sydney's eastern suburbs, before rolling her Range Rover on June 21.

She allegedly recorded a blood alcohol reading of 0.181 in the accident.

Meares did not appear in Waverley Local Court today and was represented by her celebrity lawyer Chris Murphy.

Mr Murphy indicated police would be dropping two charges of driving with a suspended licence that had also been levelled against Ms Meares.

He did not enter a plea on the other charge of drink-driving.

Since her two-year marriage to Mr Packer ended in 2002, Meares has kept her private life out of the spotlight.

She was behind the successful swimwear brand Tigerlily, which she sold to surfwear company Billabong in 2007 for up to $5 million.

Meares has since founded the luxury sportswear brand The Upside which she runs from Surry Hills.

She is due to appear in Waverley Local Court on August 20.

abc.net.au 5 Aug 2014

Another example of corrupt cops in action.

One law for 'us' and another for 'them'. 

Flaunting in front of the masses.

04 August 2014

Bureaucrat Louise Sylvan paid $300,000 a year to do nothing at the Australian National Preventative Health Agency, which closed in June

Louise Sylvan, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian National Preventive Health Agenc
Louise Sylvan, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian National Preventive Health Agency. Source: News Corp Australia
A LABOR-appointed bureaucrat is being paid $28,000 a month to head an agency that no longer exists. 

In what may well be the world’s best job, Louise Sylvan is earning more than $300,000 a year to be CEO of the ­Australian National Preventative Health Agency, which was closed down in June.

Documents sighted by The Daily Telegraph show the long-time bureaucrat has no official daily duties, but continues to collect a salary because her contract — which doesn’t end until September 2016 — can only be terminated by a change in legislation.

Ms Sylvan was offered a ­redundancy package of more than $200,000 when the agency shut but did not accept it.

Ms Sylvan is not breaching any laws by refusing to accept the package. ANPHA employed more than 40 staff and had a budget of $5 million after it was formed following then prime minister Kevin Rudd’s 20/20 summit.

Louise Sylvan, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian National Preventive Health Agenc
Louise Sylvan, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian National Preventive Health Agency. Source: News Corp Australia
The agency had sweeping powers to provide grants and sponsor events it deemed could assist the fight against obesity and drinking.

Yet it wasted $200,000 of taxpayer money on a cookbook which taught people how to cook spaghetti bolognese.

It also provided $130,000 in funding for the Summer ­Nationals street burnout ­competition in 2012 and 2013.

The Abbott government cut the agency this year and ­absorbed some of its powers into other departments.

A spokesman for Health Minister Peter Dutton refused to comment on Ms Sylvan’s severance package, although he did confirm that the agency no longer existed.
It is understood Ms Sylvan has an office in a Department of Health building in Sydney, despite having no duties.

Her total salary is $332,800 per annum and her base salary is $242,950.

Ms Sylvan signed a ­five-year deal as CEO in September 2011 when Nicola Roxon was Health Minister.
The experienced administrator has had a lengthy career, including deputy chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Ms Sylvan could not be reached for comment.

Originally published as She’s paid $300K a year ... to do nothing

news.com.au 1 Aug 2014

Another example (of many) of government fraud.

 This action is a criminal offence.

Now lets see how the so called 'authorities' handle it.

Not voting due to religious reasons in Australia

According to Australian law one is required to vote.

Validity of the Act aside, voting is compulsory according to the Commonwealth Electoral Act (1918) Section 245,

as detailed in the attached pdf:

However, one is able to not vote according to religious beliefs as stated in item (14):

(14)  Without limiting the circumstances that may constitute a valid and sufficient reason for not voting, the fact that an elector believes it to be part of his or her religious duty to abstain from voting constitutes a valid and sufficient reason for the failure of the elector to vote. 

Townsville officer accused of racist comments implicated in death inquiry

INDIGENOUS leader Gracelyn Smallwood has called for the immediate sacking of a Townsville police officer implicated in the investigation of the death of an Aboriginal woman in Hughenden. 

(illustration: Prof. Gracelyn Smallwood)
Senior Constable Leanne Rissman escaped the sack earlier this year for a series of racist posts on the Facebook page Boomerang Justice under the pseudonym “Sharia Anne” where she called Aborigines “oxygen thieves” with a “disgusting aversion to work”.

The Hughenden officer was instead transferred to Townsville to undertake cultural training. Now she has been interviewed as part of an internal investigation into the death of Hughenden’s Adelaide Riversleigh, 37, who died on May 10 after she was allegedly beaten by her partner twice.

Sen-Constable Rissman had allegedly handled the domestic call-outs.

“If it was handled a different way she would probably have survived today,” Prof Smallwood said.

“I call for an investigation into all the people incarcerated with that police officer’s ­evidence.

“If she’s got an attitude like that (displayed in her Facebook posts) what evidence has she been giving to courts? I am calling for this woman’s ­sacking.”

Acting Assistant Commissioner Paul Taylor said he could not comment on the investigation in the death of Adelaide Riversleigh.

“The Queensland Police Service is unable to comment in relation to other matters as they are currently the subject of an internal investigation,” he said.

“All matters relating to this officer are being investigated by a senior member of the QPS from Northern Region with overview by the Ethical Standards Command.”

But he defended the decision not to sack Sen-Constable Rissman.

(illustration: Sen-Constable Leanne Rissman)

“The complaint was investigated by a senior officer and the officer was subsequently required to undertake a number of training programs relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People race relations and social issues as well as professional practice in the QPS and information security obligations,” he said.

Prof Smallwood said that was not good enough.

“There are people in the public service that are getting the sack for having a bit of a joke in emails,’’ she said. “It’s a terrible crime committed and she got a smack on the hand.

“What sort of image is this projecting on the QPS just as they started to get some relations to us after the Mulrunji case?” she said, referring to the death in custody of Mulrunji Doomadgee.

townsvillebulletin.com.au 1 Aug 2014

Another disgusting action by police.

Lets see how the government handles the killing of person by police.

Another cover up?

Australia truly the police state.

Mobile phone myths busted

No longer live in fear of your mobile blowing up petrol stations or frying your brain. We
No longer live in fear of your mobile blowing up petrol stations or frying your brain. We debunk the biggest mobile myths. Source: ThinkStock
WE still overhear people wrongly telling others what they should and shouldn’t do with their mobiles. Here are the hard facts, people. 

A mobile phone can cause a petrol station to explode. Wrong.

It’s not gonna blow! Mobiles have never caused a petrol station fire.
It’s not gonna blow! Mobiles have never caused a petrol station fire. Source: ThinkStock
You have seen the warning signs at the pumps forbidding you to use your mobile on the forecourt. You may have even been shouted at by one of the attendants. Despite the fear there has not been one event where a mobile has caused a petrol station fire as they have virtually no capacity to do so.

A hoax report appears to be the cause of this myth, where three incidents of fires caused by mobiles were sent to Shell and then erroneously passed around the company. In reality, not one mobile has been the fire starter. There have been numerous studies and tests that all came up with this same conclusion. Even Mythbusters tried their hardest and failed.

The worry comes from the idea a phone battery could cause a spark — something you don’t want around flammable liquid. However, unless the battery was inexplicably faulty, mobile batteries do not spark so this won’t happen. If safety boards were worried about batteries near the pumps, what about that massive one sitting under your car bonnet? The more likely cause of petrol station fires come from a build up in static electricity, often from the material from the seat as you exit the car.

A mobile phone can cook an egg. Wrong. 

Ever since phones became mobile there have been people running for the hills from fear it’s emitting some sort of invisible ray that’s slowly cooking us. This cracking hoax about how a couple of mobiles could cook an egg surfaced on the internet and people fell hook, line and sinker. It showed an egg wedged between two mobiles and with one handset calling the other for 65 minutes it was hot and ready to eat.

Cooking an egg with a mobile

Yes, mobiles do emit radiation but it’s a fraction of a fraction’s worth of power (mobiles typically only can produce 0.25W) needed to cook an egg. It certainly couldn’t produce the 70 degrees or more to have you getting your soldiers ready. It’s been proven that not even a 100 mobiles all piled on top of an egg calling each other could warm an egg more than a degree.

What’s more ridiculous about this myth is that mobiles don’t even directly transmit to each other. They have to call a nearby relay first, so putting the egg between them makes no difference

Mobile phones cause brain cancer. Wrong (so far). 

Sleep easy in the knowledge mobiles have not been found to be linked to cancer.
Sleep easy in the knowledge mobiles have not been found to be linked to cancer. Source: ThinkStock
Much like the egg myth, the fear of radiation from our phones can make us a bit uneasy especially when we put them to our heads to use and sleep right next to handsets on bedside tables. Scientists have been studying the effects of mobile use and links to cancer for almost 20 years and have found no conclusive evidence they do. The Cancer Council explains that mobiles are ELF (Extremely Low Frequency) devices and this low-powered radio and microwave radiation doesn’t not have the right frequency or energy to ionise molecules and change DNA. In short: while there is still some uncertainty due to the lack of long term study, evidence thus far suggests there is no link between mobiles and cancer.

Excessive charging kills the battery. Wrong. 

To charge or not to charge is no longer the question.
To charge or not to charge is no longer the question. Source: ThinkStock
No, you don’t have to let your battery completely drain before you recharge. Back in the day, old NiCad batteries found in our early handsets would have a memory where by repeatedly charging when half full, for example, would result in unspent cells effectively dying. But modern day Li-ion batteries will come of no harm whatever the percentage of power you’ve got left.

So if a know-it-all tries to tell you otherwise if you’re plugging your mobile in everyday, you can politely inform them it’s actually the preferred method of charging.

Also, if you leave your phone on charge and it’s reached 100 per cent you don’t have to worry there. Smartphones are smart enough to stop juicing once it’s full.

Closing all your apps will save battery and make your phone run faster. Wrong. 

While this sounds like it should be right, the fact is by closing all those apps it takes it out of the phone’s memory (RAM). Again, this sounds like something you want to do to but it means when you open the app again it takes more processing effort for the phone to reload than it would have to just leave it.

Unless you’ve got background app refresh turned on (which does drain battery, especially for the Facebook app) apps freeze right at the very place you left them. They do not continue to drain memory or data. In the case of Apple’s iOS it will close apps for you if it requires more memory.

news.com.au 31 July 2014

7 ways technology is making you stupid

Why won’t this banana get on the internet!?
Why won’t this banana get on the internet!? Source: ThinkStock
PEOPLE assume that iPhones, laptops and Netflix are evidence of progress. In some ways, that’s true. A moderate amount of Googling, for instance, can be good for your brain, and there are apps that can boost brain function and activity. 

Yet tech advancements also come with some unintended consequences. Our brains being “massively rewired” by tech, says neuroscientist Michael Merzenich in The Shallows: What The internet Is Doing To Our Brains, a Pulitzer-nominated 2011 book by Nicholas Carr. Merzenich warns that the effect of technology on human intelligence could be “deadly.”

That got us thinking. How exactly is technology messing up our brains?

1. Tech Is Screwing Up Your Sleep.

Is your phone stopping you from getting into a deep sleep like this?
Is your phone stopping you from getting into a deep sleep like this? Source: Instagram
Studies have shown that blue-enriched light, which is emitted by gadgets like smartphones, tablets and laptops, can suppress the body’s release of melatonin at night. Melatonin is a key hormone that helps regulate your internal clock, telling your body when it is night-time and when to feel sleepy. Blue light can disrupt that process, making it impossible for you to stick to a proper sleep schedule.

Losing sleep has a number of negative effects on your brain. If you’re not logging seven or more hours of sleep each night, you might suffer from increasingly bad moods, decreased focus at work and problems with memory, not to mention a loss of actual brain tissue — all of which makes you less than a joy to be around.

2. You’re Easily Distracted.

There can be problems when you are distracted just by using technology. 
There can be problems when you are distracted just by using technology. Source: Supplied

You don’t really need science to know this, but technology makes it much easier to get distracted, whether that’s stepping away from an important project to check your smartphone or flipping between multiple browser tabs without really focusing on any one. It has been proven that toggling between multiple tasks at once doesn’t actually work — in fact, you just wind up performing all your duties even worse.

Teens in particular are more distracted than ever. A 2012 Pew Research Center survey of more than 2,400 teachers found that most educators feel students are more distracted than previous generations. Some 87 per cent of teachers agreed with the statement, “today’s digital technologies are creating an easily distracted generation with short attention spans,” while 64 per cent agreed with the idea that “today’s digital technologies do more to distract students than to help them academically.” Yikes.

3. You Can’t Remember Much...

Technology’s tendency to butt into whatever else you’re doing makes it more difficult to form new memories. As Nicholas Carr explains in The Shallows, memory comes in two types: transient working memory and long-term memory, which is more permanent. Information needs to pass from working memory into long-term memory in order to be stored. Any break in the processes of working memory — like, say, stopping to check your email or send a text message in the middle of reading an article — can erase information from your mind before that transfer occurs.

There’s also a limit to how much information your working memory can take in at once. Taking in too much information — which happens a lot online — is like “having water poured into a glass continuously all day long, so whatever was there at the top has to spill out as the new water comes down,” productivity expert Tony Schwartz told The Huffington Post last year.

4. You’re Much More Forgetful Than You Used To Be.

Millennials are actually more likely to forget what day it is or where they put their keys than people over the age of 55, according to a 2013 Trending Machine survey. In a press release for the survey, family and occupational therapist Patricia Gutentag called out technology as one of the main culprits: “This is a population that has grown up multi-tasking using technology, often compounded by lack of sleep, all of which results in high levels of forgetfulness,” she said.

5. You Can’t Concentrate On What You’re Reading.

Pretty much.
Pretty much. Source: Supplied
Even if you’ve shunned all distractions, you still won’t absorb information you read online as well as you would if you’d read it in a book. And you can blame hypertext for that. Those colourful little links scattered throughout online articles (including this one) make your brain work harder than it would otherwise, leaving less brain power to process what you’re reading. Even just reading on screens, like a laptop or iPad — links or no links — has been shown to diminish comprehension.

Research has shown that reading linked text “entails a lot of mental callisthenics — evaluating hyperlinks, deciding whether to click, adjusting to different formats — that are extraneous to the process of reading,” Carr wrote in “The Shallows.” And giving your brain more work to do makes it harder to absorb information. Text that’s peppered with photos, videos and ads is even worse.

6. You Can’t Find Your Way Around Without GPS.

Completely lost without one of these?
Completely lost without one of these? Source: Supplied
People who rely on GPS to get around have less activity in the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in both memory and navigation, according to a series of studies presented in 2010. Using spatial memory — which involves using visual cues to develop “cognitive maps” that remember routes — instead of operating on GPS-induced autopilot can help avert memory problems later in life, the studies found.

A 2008 study from the University of London even found that taxi drivers had more developed hippocampi than non-taxi drivers — perhaps because they are so accustomed to navigating cities using spatial memory, rather than relying on GPS (though that may no longer be true of smartphone-equipped taxi drivers).

7. You Have The Brain Of A Drug Addict.

No, “internet addiction” isn’t just some BS term parents throw around to terrify youngsters who spend too much time playing Candy Crush. Spending too much time on the internet can actually cause changes in the brain that mimic those caused by drug and alcohol dependence, according to a 2012 study.

Internet addicts — most notably gamers who shun food, school and sleep to play for days on end — have abnormal white and grey matter in their brains, which disrupts and cripples the regions involved in processing emotion and regulating attention and decision-making. Alcoholics and drug addicts have strikingly similar brain abnormalities, the study found.

“I have seen people who stopped attending university lectures, failed their degrees or their marriages broke down” because of internet gaming addiction, Dr. Henriette Bowden Jones, who runs a British clinic for internet addicts, told The Independent.

Now that you’re properly terrified of the effects of technology on the old noggin, let us remind you that you do have the power to prevent brain drain and time-suck. Just log off every once in a while!

news.com.au 28 July 2014