Monthly Archives: June 2017

The Money You handle that’s in Circulation is infested with bacteria

The list of things found on our bank notes includes DNA from our animal friends, drug traces, and bacteria & viruses that cause disease.

We live in a dirty world. Wherever we go, we are among microbes. Bacteria, fungi and viruses live on our phones, bus seats, door handles and park benches. We pass these tiny organisms to each other when we share a handshake or a seat on the plane.

Now, researchers are finding we also share our microbes through our money. From tip jars to vending machines to the meter maid – each dollar, passed person to person, samples a bit of the environment it comes from, and passes those bits to the next person, the next place it goes.

The list of things found on our dollars includes DNA from our pets, traces of drugs, and bacteria and viruses that cause disease.

The findings demonstrate how money can silently record human activities, leaving behind so-called “molecular echoes.”

www.newcures.info

What’s on a banknote?

In April, a new study identified over a hundred different strains of bacteria on dollar bills circulating in New York City. Some of the most common bugs on our bills included Propionibacterium acnes, a bacteria known to cause acne, and Streptococcus oralis, a common bacteria found in our mouths.

The research team, led by biologist Jane Carlton at New York University, also discovered traces of DNA from domestic animals and from specific bacteria that are associated only with certain foods.

A similar study recovered traces of DNA on ATM keypads, reflecting the foods people ate in different neighborhoods. People in central Harlem ate more domestic chicken than those in Flushing and Chinatown, who ate more species of bony fish and mollusks. The foods people ate transferred from fingers to touchscreens, where scientists could recover a bit of their most recent meals.

We don’t leave only food behind. Traces of cocaine can be found on almost 80 percent of dollar bills. Other drugs, including morphine, heroin, methamphetamine and amphetamine, can also be found on bills, though less commonly than cocaine.

Identifying foods people eat or the drugs people use based on interactions with money might not seem all that useful, but scientists are also using these types of data to understand patterns of disease. Most of the microbes the researchers in New York identified do not cause disease. But other studies have suggested that disease-causing strains of bacteria or virus could be passed along with our currency.

Bacteria that cause food-borne illness – including Salmonella and a pathogenic strain of E.coli – have been shown to survive on pennies, nickels and dimes and can hide out on ATM machines. Other bacteria, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) which causes skin infections, are found on bank notes in the U.S. and Canada, but the extent to which they could spread infections is unknown.

Try as we may to avoid exposure to germs, they travel with us and on us. Even if disease-causing microbes can survive in places like ATMs, the good news is that most exposures don’t make us sick.

www.newcures.info

Money laundering

Disease transmission linked to money is rare, and no major disease outbreaks have started from our ATMs. Although it doesn’t seem common for diseases to transmit through money, there are ways we could make our money cleaner.

Researchers are working on ways to clean money between transactions. Putting older bills through a machine that exposes them to carbon dioxide at a specific temperature and pressure can strip dollar bills of oils and dirt left behind by human fingers, while the heat kills microbes that would otherwise linger.

U.S. money is still made from a blend of cotton and linen, which has been shown to have higher bacterial growth than plastic polymers. Several countries are transitioning from money made of natural fibers to plastic, which may be less friendly to bacteria. Canada has had plastic money since 2013, and the U.K. transitioned to a plastic-based bank note last year.

Even if our money is not directly responsible for spreading disease, we can still use the dollar’s travel history to track how we spread disease in other ways. The website WheresGeorge.com, created in 1998, lets users track dollar bills by recording their serial numbers. In the almost 20 years since the site’s creation, WheresGeorge has tracked the geographic locations of bills totaling over a billion dollars.

Now, physicists at the Max Planck Institute and University of California, Santa Barbara are using data from the WheresGeorge site to track epidemics. Information on human movement and contact rates from WheresGeorge was even used to predict the spread of the 2009 swine flu.

www.newcures.info

Although we don’t know the extent to which money allows diseases to spread, mom’s advice is probably best when handling cash: Wash your hands and don’t stick it in your mouth.

Henry Sapiecha

Billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes confesses to having impostor syndrome

The man in the baseball cap and hoodie may be Australia’s 17th richest individual but is scared of being found out as an impostor.

As a keynote speaker at TEDxSydney, Mike Cannon-Brookes  confessed he suffered from impostor syndrome and most days felt like he did not know what he was doing.

“Have you ever felt out of your depth, like a fraud, and just kind of guessed-slash-bullshitted your way through the situation, petrified that at any time someone was going to call you on it?” he said on Friday.

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“It’s not a fear of failure. It’s not a fear of being unable to do it. It’s more a sensation of  getting away with something, a fear of being discovered, that at any time someone is going to figure it out.

“And if they did figure it out, you’d say to yourself, ‘well, that’s fair enough actually’.”

Mr Cannon-Brookes said when he and his partner, Scott Farquhar started their IT company their main aim was not to wear a suit to work but success brought complications.

Hiring their first HR manager, he did not know what questions to ask and later, attending board meetings in a T-shirt, he found himself  “surrounded by suits, acronyms flying around and feeling like a five-year-old as I write them down secretly in my notebook so that I can look them up on Wikipedia when I get home later”.

“For me impostor syndrome is a feeling of being well out of your depth. Internally you know you’re not experienced enough or qualified enough to justify being there. Yet you are there. And you have to figure a way out because you can’t just get out.”

The Australian Financial Review‘s 2017 Rich List named Mr Cannon-Brookes, 37 and a Sydneysider, as the nation’s 17th most wealthy individual with a personal fortune of $2.51 billion. He co-founded Atlassian , a collaboration software company that helps teams organise, discuss and complete shared work. More than 68,000 organisations – including eBay, Twitter, Coca-Cola, Visa, BMW and NASA – use Atlassian’s products.

Mr Cannon-Brookes joked he had met his wife posing as an impostor.

A weekly commuter to San Francisco some years back, he was in the Qantas lounge when she approached mistaking him for somebody else. He did not disabuse her of her initial impression.

“Classic Aussie bullshit became some sort of forward movement and a phone number … a decade later she is my wife and we have four children,” he said.

Mr Cannon-Brookes thought most successful people “felt like frauds” but the key was to realise they were out of their depth and harness self-doubt as a force for good.

Recently, when South Australia had a power crisis he saw something on Twitter that Tesla thought it could solve the situation so he fired off some tweets only to see the media descend on him as “some sort of expert in energy”.

At the time, he said, he did not know the difference between a AA battery and 100 megawatt battery.

“A chronic case of  impostor syndrome … I remember thinking, ‘I’ve kind of started something here I can’t really get out. If I abandon the situation, I could set back renewables in Australia and maybe look like a complete idiot on Twitter’. All I could do was to not freeze and try to learn,” he said.

He ended up brokering talks between Tesla boss Elon Musk, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and PM Malcolm Turnbull on the nation’s energy shortages.

Henry Sapiecha

 

Ex-NAB planner banned after stealing $2.3 million, another fights ban

A former NAB financial planner has been permanently banned from the industry after pleading guilty to misappropriating $2.3 million from a client who worked as a nurse.

Patrick Simon Mitchell, of Tasmania, was sentenced to eight years’ jail in March after being convicted of 25 counts of stealing in the Supreme Court of Tasmania.

The charges relate to money stolen through 25 separate transactions from a nurse who had accumulated the funds through inheritance and careful savings, the court heard.

The funds were moved out of her account over four years, during which time Mitchell was a representative of NAB’s subsidiary, MLC.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission said the ban was effectively immediately.

“ASIC will act to remove people from the financial services industry who act dishonestly and breach the trust of their clients,” ASIC deputy chairman Peter Kell said.

Approached for comment, NAB issued a statement from Garvan Financial Planning, the MLC subsidiary in which Mr Mitchell worked, saying it had alerted police and ASIC to the matter.

“Advisers must do the right thing by their customers at all times, but this was not the case for Mr Mitchell,” Garvan General Manager Matthew Fogarty said.

 

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Mr Fogarty said Garvan was working with the victim to help compensate her.

It comes as the corporate regulator fights to reinstate another ban on a separate ex-NAB financial planner in the Federal Court in Melbourne.

Gerard McCormack, of South Melbourne, was banned for five years by the regulator last year after being embroiled in a case of “mistaken identity” in which he assisted a client forge false withdrawal forms worth $275,000.

Fairfax revealed in January that Mr McCormack instructed his client John Wright to forge his own signature in order to obtain the $275,000, which Mr McCormack believed belong to him but in fact belonged to another John Wright.

Mr McCormack tried to fix the problem without alerting authorities but was banned by ASIC in March last year for misleading and deceptive conduct.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal overturned the ban in December, deeming Mr McCormack did not have ill intent and did not benefit financially from the conduct.

In an appeal of the AAT’s decision, ASIC told the court Mr McCormack’s case, although bizarre, warranted serious consequences.

“The tribunal hasn’t looked at the conduct, it has looked at the circumstances,” ASIC’s counsel said.

It said Mr McCormack’s conduct was dishonest and that his banning was necessary to promote confidence in the financial sector.

“This is someone, a financial planner, who has deliberately deceived,” counsel said.

Mr McCormack’s lawyers told the court his behaviour was “genuine but misguided”.

“What separates honest and dishonest conduct is the intent,” barrister Rachel Ellyard said.

The AAT overturned ASIC’s ban on Mr McCormack in December, following Mr McCormack’s application for review.

While finding that Mr McCormack did breach the Corporations Act, it found that Mr McCormack’s concern was “solely for that of his client”.

His lack of financial gain and perfect disciplinary record prior to the incident was also taken into account.

Justice David O’Callaghan reserved judgment in the matter.

NAB would not comment on Mr McCormack’s case as the matter was before court.

www.crimefiles.net

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Henry Sapiecha