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It's Time To Look After Yourself

The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) has this morning issued a warning about kidnap and ransom threats made against, in particular, Chinese residents in Australia with more than 1,700 cases reported so far in 2018.

The debate over the use of a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine continues around the world with (generally discredited) opinions held by some that the vaccine may lead to autism, amongst other things, and simply because of cultural of financial issues. However, the risk of the spread of disease is now being demonstrated, with outbreaks of measles, in particular, originating where failure or refusal to vaccinate is common.

A notice from the USA's Office of Business, Industry and Security (BIS) starts "Control of Firearms, Guns, Ammunition and Related Articles the President
Determines No" but the pleasure of reading that is lost when, on scrolling down, the unfortunate spacing in the notice reveals that it's an incomplete sentence and it goes on "Longer Warrant Control under the United States Munitions List (USML)." It's a proposal, published as a "Commerce proposed rule, Control of Firearms, Guns, Ammunition and Related Articles the President Determines No Longer Warrant Control under the United States Munitions List (USML) published in the Federal Register on 24 May, 2018." Far from the idea that Trump might be having second thoughts about gun control, he actually plans to arm the world with the very...

Last night the Taipei metro area suffered from substantial earthquake damage resulting from a 6.4 on the Richter scale shock under the sea nearby. Reports on the number of casualties differ - within two hours, local Chinese language media was reporting that there had been 29 deaths while national media, fed from state sources, reported two deaths and about 100 hospital casualties. It's all horribly reminiscent of the events of December 2006 and the lessons learned.

Walking along a Phuket beachfront, "John," in his mid thirties and from England's North West, cut a solitary figure, hunched, the high-visibility of someone trying to keep a low profile. As he posed for a selfie with an unusually insipid sunrise at his back, he gave of the air of the careworn. "Can I get a boat from here to Malaysia?" he asked. As his story unfolded, it raised as many questions as it gave answers.

Look at your next meal and ask how far the food on the plate has travelled. This simple sandwich has a startling tale to tell.

To name or not to name, that is the question, whether it is nobler to give another chance or to slag off a business before it has time to improve. Well, this isn't TripAdvisor (hell, they can't even spell the word "adviser" so that's their credibility gone before the first page is opened) where trolls happily attack. But that doesn't mean that businesses should be able to do as they please without being aware that customers are unhappy. So, here's the experience of one traveller who won't ever stay at a particular Jakarta hotel again, it being so bad he checked out early even though there would be no refunds.

What do "trusted seller" and "Better Business Bureau member" mean in real life? As an overseas customer of Vesper & Co, sellers of collectable watches apparently with offices in New York found out, they mean you are on your own if the seller decides to misdescribe goods and then to ignore the purchaser.

As California suffers from forest fires that are now encroaching on some of its residential districts, the Attorney-General, Xavier Becerra, has issued proceedings against the Environmental Protection Agency, a Federal division, over its failure to implement various measures under the Clean Air Act. In particular, the suit says that the EPA has failed "to designate any areas of the country as having unhealthy levels of smog in excess of federal Clean Air Act requirements."

For years, China has been a destination of choice for the world's non-food waste. Plastics, in particular, have been in demand for recycling. But now China's a combination of slowing production and increasing domestic consumerism means that there is enough domestically produced waste and it no longer needs to be the dustbin of the world. Given that there is already a vast global over-supply of plastic waste, can the world cope without China's formerly voracious appetite?

The US Surpreme Court has granted an order of certiorari which sends back to the district court the case of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Xavier Becerra for review. California's bizarrely named Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency (FACT) Act is defended by Becarram California's Attorney General. and the plaintiff is a campaigning group claiming that the FACT act is unconstitutional. The case has made a monumental decision, at federal level, about religion and abortion and contraception.

If you are planning to spend money for the Alibaba-inspired "Singles Day" on 11 November, be warned. Fraud happens and when it does, you have little or no recourse from any of the companies behind the scheme, and little or no help to try to recover your losses. But even more than that, the case shows how mobile payments are inherently risky and are ready channels for fraudsters to use.

When Miss B, a resident of Shanghai, posted an advertisement on Xianyu, the Alibaba-owned equivalent of e-Bay, and a division of Taobao, she was delighted to receive a response almost immediately. Someone wanted to buy her barely-worn designer shoes for the asking price. Then the fraud started and Taobao / Xianyu, WePay and AliPay have failed to act, leaving her substantially out of pocket when, had they...

There are endless difficulties in definitions. Here's an excellent example.

The USA is undertaking research into crime against and within ethnic racial groups. It is trying hard to define groups. Here's a quote: " If issuing specific guidelines for the collection of detailed White race and ethnicity data, should OMB adopt the NCT format, which includes separately German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, and French?"

It's not the fault of the US Government that it's confused. We, the English, have the most tangled ethnicity imaginable. The only effective classification for us is "unclassifiable."

The announcement by the National Health Service in England that General Practitioners (family doctors, known as GPs) are to be required to ask patients if they are heterosexual, homosexual/lesbian or bisexual has both support and opposition from across the spectrum. One specific comment by someone interviewed on a tv news programme caught our attention: people from sexual minorities, she said, suffer from a higher incidence of mental health problems than the heterosexual majority and therefore collecting data is valuable for that reason alone. That begs the question: are those mental health problems a symptom, a cause or a result of being part of a sexual minority?

The USA went into shock and meltdown and it continues to suffer from the after effects of the attacks on the World Trade Centre and other targets on 11 September 2001. It continues to use so-called Islamic Terrorism as an excuse for ever-tighter restrictions on its population and on visitors. And yet, while its people are being murdered in unprecedented numbers by Americans, for whom any affinity with Islam is rare, the USA Government refuses to entertain any view that there must be control over weapons in the hands of people.