Sunday, 17 December 2017

In The Midst Of An Environmental Crisis

The planet is changing at a rapid level. Many changes are taking places that are not always good for everyone on land or even those in water. You may not be able to see all these changes by simply looking outside your window, numerous things are happening on a global scale that has a big impact on virtually everyone on the planet. Climate change, for instance, is no longer just a threat but a reality we are all facing every single day. The ocean is rising and so is the planet heating up. They may all seem irrelevant to the ordinary man but they play a big role to how the world works as a whole. And when you hear someone saying we are now in the midst of an environmental crisis, it can’t be any truer.

Everything we do, big or small, has an impact on the world. If we want to protect the planet and make sure we don’t suffer that often in the hands of Mother Nature, let us also reduce our carbon footprint and we should practice more environment-friendly ways in everything we do. Even the little things we do count a lot in saving the world and somehow making it a better place for each and every one of us. Nobody will help us except ourselves. In the end, it is us who will also suffer if we don’t step up and do something about all the environmental issues we are facing because after all, we only have one planet to live in. Let’s stop making it unlivable by cleaning up our acts and considering how the environment will be affected in all of our actions.

The proposal to have environmental education as a subject in schools has been finalised.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar today said he was ready to discuss the proposal with the Education Minister.

He said top officials from his ministry and the Education Ministry have been discussing the proposal for months and those in the discussions were receptive to the idea of having such a subject.

"Once I get the report from the deputy secretary-general, who headed the ministry in the talks with the Education Ministry, discussions between the Education Minister and I can start.


And since the youth is the future of any nation, it is only logical to start educating the youth about the importance of the environment and what measures can be done to safeguard it from further harm. Human activities are the number one reason why the planet is what it is today. Our abuse and misuse of natural resources have led to widespread natural disasters that took human lives aside from destroying properties and ravaging communities. Looking at the state of the environment right now, it is inevitable for stronger and more destructive natural calamities to come and wreak havoc on human lives at the rate things are going now. Only through education can we do something big that can have a lasting impression to everyone as to why the environment needs protection.

Tens of millions of people will be forced from their homes by climate change in the next decade, creating the biggest refugee crisis the world has ever seen, according to a new report.

Senior US military and security experts have told the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) study that the number of climate refugees will dwarf those that have fled the Syrian conflict, bringing huge challenges to Europe.

“If Europe thinks they have a problem with migration today … wait 20 years,” said retired US military corps brigadier general Stephen Cheney. “See what happens when climate change drives people out of Africa – the Sahel [sub-Saharan area] especially – and we’re talking now not just one or two million, but 10 or 20 [million]. They are not going to south Africa, they are going across the Mediterranean.”


You can probably see it in the news right now. Every now and then there is this awful disaster that destroys towns and cities and leaves people displaced for weeks, even months on end. Recovery is often a slow and painful process and it can break you in ways that you’ve never imagined before. If you don’t want to suffer and turn your life upside down especially if you live in a high-risk area, do your part in saving the planet today, not tomorrow. Try to influence and educate others as to why we need to pitch in and do our part in environmental conservation efforts rather than just rely on the government and big organizations to initiate and work on conserving the planet and its vast resources before the time comes when we are too late for saving.

In The Midst Of An Environmental Crisis Find more on:


Sunday, 10 December 2017

Problems With Chinese Medicine

For centuries, Chinese medicine has reigned supreme when it comes to promoting and supporting man’s good health. It has almost never failed everyone who tried it and until today, many people still put their faith in age-old Chinese recipes that has cured diseases in the past in the absence of modern medicine. The problem is that many claims it is not as effective as it once was as there has been one casualty after the other – all of which took a Chinese medicine of sort to relieve them of a medical condition they have. The likely reason why this happened is that as recipes are passed down from generation to generation, some may tweak it a bit that results in a change in efficacy or may even trigger some adverse reactions in this case.

Other factors we need to consider is that what’s in Chinese medicines with herbs aren’t as well documented as any medicine you can buy from the pharmacy. You can’t really tell how its ingredients react to one another. And then there is the possibility that an individual is also taking other supplements or drugs that can react to the Chinese herb. Sometimes, side effects are minor and can be tolerated, other times it can cost you your life. It’s probably what happened to these poor people who unknowingly got treated with Chinese medicine and they happen to be allergic to some components of the medicine.

Early on a snowy, winter morning in January 2012, Wu Xiaoliang, a 37-year-old farmer, stopped by his local doctor to remedy a headache. At a small clinic near his village he received two injections made from traditional Chinese herbs. Hours later, villagers saw him struggling to prop himself up on his moped as he drove home. By noon, he was dead.

What killed Wu was later described in an autopsy report as a "drug allergy." But doctors couldn’t pinpoint what he was allergic to because the shots he was given contained dozens, if not hundreds, of different compounds extracted from two herbs.

For centuries, Chinese have bought plant and animal parts from traditional clinics, and boiled them into bitter soups to treat colds, strokes and even cancer. But the Chinese medicine sector has modernized along with the rest of the country, with local manufacturers turning age-old recipes into fast-acting injectable drugs.


Another major difference to how Chinese medicine is delivered in the past is that before, ancient Chinese had to drink soups or teas with these medicinal herbs. But today, Chinese drug makers have leveled up their game and they likewise upgraded these traditional medicines by giving them a modern feel – in injection form. Let’s not forget the fact how fast the effect of intravenous drugs are since they are directly injected into the bloodstream. For an ancient medicine with insufficient (if none at all) clinical trials to prove its safety and efficacy, the results can be disastrous.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) is warning the public not to buy or consume two products promoted in Malaysia as traditional Chinese medicine, after two elderly women fell ill after taking them.

The two products - Wan Ling Ren Sem Chin Kuo Pill and Chong Cao Dan - contain undeclared Western medicinal ingredients, including a potent steroid called dexamethasone, HSA said in a press release on Thursday (Nov 2).

A woman in her 70s who had taken Wan Ling Ren Sem Chin Kuo Pill daily for four to five years for rheumatism and pain was hospitalised in the intensive care unit after experiencing severe breathing difficulty.


While we have nothing against traditional medicine, just keep in mind that it has its risks too. Its ingredients are often undeclared. Most people who take Chinese medicine do not consult with a real doctor to get them assessed properly and determine if the products they are taking is not doing them more harm than good. Most of the danger comes from the continued modernization of this ancient practice. What those people who dabble with alternative medicine do not realize is that you don’t just develop a drug and formulate it into a preparation that is highly untested such as Chinese medicine shots because the dangers are fatal and can kill a person like what we are already witnessing now.

Problems With Chinese Medicine was initially published to


Sunday, 3 December 2017

How Climate Change Is Shaping The World Today

You don’t have to look far to see the changes in the world right now. Just step out of your home and you can see how polluted and hot the world has become. Weather systems have intensified as well as natural calamities that hit us with such force each year. There are actually certain parts of the planet that are more prone to experience these disasters than other places. Typhoons, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc., they have all posed a threat to our lives because we can’t really tell when some of them will happen but we can't avoid it either.

Climate change is especially evident in the ocean. Just head out to sea or just even on beaches and you can see for yourself how global warming has changed people’s lives. Not only certain animal and plant species become extinct as the days go by, island nations are at risk of disappearing off the face of the planet because the sea level is rising as more heat is trapped inside the atmosphere. Consequently, it melts down polar glaciers that make the sea level rise and is now a major global concern because it has become a reality that puts people’s lives at risk.

Climate change means the sea level is rising, storms are intensifying and seasons are becoming unpredictable. Coral is increasingly torn away from the islands and returned to the lagoon floor. These days, repairing them does little more than delay the inevitable.
Solomon Islands has a population of 560,000 people and a growing number of them are being forced to leave their homes - not just in Lau Lagoon, but also low-lying coastal areas on Malaita, and across the entire atoll, one of the world's largest. 

It has been more than a decade since the island of Tauba in Lau Lagoon was first submerged completely during a high tide.


While most people only think about beaches and paradise islands as dream getaway destinations for a well-deserved vacation, people actually live in many of these places 365 days a year. And as such, they have to brace for everything Mother Nature has in store for them all year round that many tourists rarely get to see because these things mostly happen during off-peak seasons. These locals have survived island life for generations but the complexities and unpredictability of the environment right now are forcing many of them to relocate because living became more of a drag and the risks are greater too.

Temperature records are being broken frequently in Australia, with hot records 12 times more likely to be set than cold ones since 2000, Drs Lewis and King reported in a 2015 paper.

A heatwave last month smashed many records across eastern Australia with more than half the NSW stations with more than 20 years of data registering their hottest September day, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

Under a high carbon emissions scenario, 50-degree days could arrive "as early as the 2040s", Dr Lewis said, adding that even with a concerted reduction in pollution, those temperatures could be reached by about 2060.

Dr King said hospitals, electricity systems and infrastructure would all struggle during such heat spikes.


This problem is no laughing matter as it can spell life or death for many people living in high-risk areas. Imagine living on an island all your life and it suddenly is at risk of submerging in the ocean as the sea level continues to rise. Now, where do you go? Everyone should work hand in hand and change our ways because we only have one planet to live. If we don’t act now and save whatever is left saving, we might have the same ending as previous generations that have long since disappeared because they weren’t a match to the wrath of Mother Nature when it went amock and we only know about them in history books.

How Climate Change Is Shaping The World Today is republished from Keating Economics Blog


Monday, 27 November 2017

Is Microfinance About To Go Down Or Not?

Not everyone has a lot of money. Some people earn so little no matter how hard they work while a few lucky ones get to enjoy more money than they can ever spend in their lifetime. Even if the majority of us labor in companies or institutions, it still won’t make you rich. Most successful people in the world are entrepreneurs and it is also the reason why many also want to give business a try today and build their own start-ups. Who knows, it might get bigger someday and they may eventually fulfill all their life’s dreams.

And since not everyone qualifies for bank loans to fund their business projects, the next best thing for aspiring entrepreneurs to do is to secure loans or other related financial services to get started. The concept of microfinancing has been very popular for quite some time since loan applicants no longer have to secure collaterals in order to get the money they need. But because of the very nature of this small industry being highly vulnerable makes microfinancing more fragile these days. Any small changes in the market or the economy, in general, can have a major effect on microfinanciers, unlike banks that have various products to offer to the public.

The tiny size of these institutions makes them vulnerable to even a small adverse development as their finances remain fragile. Unlike banks, which have multi products and an assured deposit base, micro lenders are dependent on markets for funds, which turn hostile at the smallest of events that affect business.

"Today banks are equally in the microfinance space as much as we are," says MR Rao, managing director with Bharat Financial Inclusion. "So, banks are looking to partner MFIs either as subsidiary or by way of strategic stakes. As MFIs grow, they too need capital badly to remain on the growth path. It will be difficult for pure-play MFIs to grow independently without support of an anchor investor."


Otherwise known as microcredit, many low-income people benefited from microfinancing and have helped them overcome poverty at the very least but this industry is likewise struggling right now since banks have expanded what they offer when it comes to issuing loans and the global economy hasn’t really fully recovered yet. This is evident in countries like India where we all know has one of the world’s largest population and a big chunk of this is mostly below or on the poverty line.

Together, the MFPs have expanded microfinance coverage to 106 districts in Pakistan as of June end. The microfinance penetration rate is reported by PMN at roughly 25 percent, based on an estimated potential market size of 20.5 million.

The MFPs have doubled the number of active borrowers between 2011 and 2016 – and this year, too, the tally is getting bigger. There are plans to double the coverage by 2020. So there is work to be done. The addressable market is still very large, and apparently growing. A loan-book of over Rs400 billion is needed to serve 10 million micro borrowers. That means equity capital must reach at least Rs40 billion.


There are microfinance industries that are doing well and some that aren’t. It probably has to do with the location and the current status of the economy in that place. That of India may be suffering but not that of Pakistan. The market is growing and because of the technology that we have today, many (especially Millennials) are more interested in starting their own businesses rather than get stuck with a conventional 9-5 job that does not really bring home the bacon.

There is really no winning formula on a lot of things in life. Even established institutions like banks and even lenders go through so many changes as the world becomes increasingly digital and may struggle in the process. In a way, technology helped with efficiency. We’ll just have to wait whether the world of microfinancing will keep on forging forward or get swallowed whole by banks that are coming up with more clever ways to lure in more investors and borrowers.

Is Microfinance About To Go Down Or Not? Read more on:


Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Black Friday Today: A Shadow Of What It Once Was

When it comes to shopping, people make a big fuss of Black Friday and highlighting how it happens to be the biggest sale of the year – a perfect excuse to go on an all-out shopping spree where you can find the best deals on great products and possibly even complete your Christmas list ahead of time. Well, it may be true in the past and people really fall in long lines just to get in a store and shop like there’s no tomorrow but it seems like it is no longer the case now. If you check out the following articles, you’d realize that yes, some people have a point in saying this because apparently, the hype over Black Friday makes not that much sense anymore.

So, is it still right to hype up Black Friday when you learn that you only get to enjoy a few buck’s savings or that bigger discounted items like home appliances can also be bought online? It is already the case with big retailers like Walmart and Target and many people head to these places for amazing deals. Why then spend hours in line when you can easily make your purchase through the web from the comfort of your own home and spare yourself from the inconvenience brought about by shopping with big crowds. Even small specialty online only retailers are getting in on the action. Yet if you are someone who is trying to complete her Christmas list, any deal will do especially that this is probably your last chance of buying something at a discount. (more…)

The following post Black Friday Today: A Shadow Of What It Once Was was originally published to The Keating Economics Website


Monday, 20 November 2017

Rainbow Health: What Is It?

Health is wealth. It’s been reiterated millions of times and we all know it by now. After all, we’ve been told about it from a young age and I am sure we already grasped its value over the years. While we are all aware of the importance of being healthy, our lifestyle says differently. In our prime, we are often deluded that we can conquer it all and we won’t easily succumb to diseases and ailments most old people suffer from. However, the times have changed and our modern lifestyle has put us at higher risk of certain conditions that even cancer has become so common right now regardless of your age.

Not all ailments go away on their own like the common cold and flu. There are also some that no amount of medication can cure. Think of HIV and AIDS. You’re a goner once you are diagnosed with this condition because there is simply no cure. Medical management is palliative, meaning it just offers the symptomatic treatment of the disease but nothing can be done about it anymore. And if there is any demographic that is increasingly diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, it’s the LGBT community. Their active sexual relationships even with relative strangers have led to this rise in lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders afflicted with HIV/AIDS. Management has actually improved nowadays as patients diagnosed with it live longer lives but the fact remains you will eventually succumb to this condition sooner rather than later.

Two organizations that serve people with HIV and do public advocacy on health issues of gay, lesbian and other groups announced Tuesday that they will merge.

The move will combine the Minnesota AIDS Project, founded in 1983, and the Rainbow Health Initiative, a group started in 2001 that’s best known for conducting a health survey of the LGBT population.

The name of the new organization has yet to be determined, but the merger has been approved by the boards of both organizations and will take effect in early 2018. Leaders of the two organizations say they are not just joining forces but plan to expand their reach.


When you say rainbow health, it stands for the health of the LGBT people or the rainbow community. We all know how prevalent HIV/AIDS is in their population and as such it has stigmatized them and made them suffer even more aside from the burden of the health risks they are facing especially when sexually active. Most people who die of AIDS are from the LGBT community. The government recognizes this trend and tries to intervene or at least help affected individuals cope with such a diagnosis. Unfortunately, federal help may be cut short depending on who is sitting in power and how they see LGBT in general.

These fears are well-justified: Trump recently announced his intention to cut significantly the budget of the AIDS Emergency Plan, a project intended to help victims of the epidemic worldwide, especially in Africa. According to the proposed cuts, funding for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is to be reduced from $6 billion to $5 billion starting next year. In June, six experts resigned from the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, claiming that "the President simply does not care" about the disease and its consequences.

While Trump remains a major target of the LGBT community, the core struggles of AIDS victims have shifted considerably since the disease changed from being an epidemic that cut down tens of thousands of young people in America with harrowing speed, into a chronic illness for which preventive treatment is available. Surprisingly, the historical narrative that the new exhibition presents emphasizes a series of positive AIDS-related developments, the most prominent of which was the expansion of the idea of domesticity to include political assemblies, communal centers and cultural hubs.


The odds may be high but the rainbow community is more united now than ever and they have been actively fighting for their rights in all corners of the globe. And if there is one right they are most concerned about, it has to do with their health. Like everyone else, the LGBT community deserves the right to basic healthcare services and they should not be alienated or ignored because of their sexual orientation and preferences. Politicians should put aside their biases and look after the needs of their constituents or extend help where help is needed as long as they can. It’s the reason why rainbow health persists to be an issue in the US because the leaders don’t always see everybody eye to eye and as a result, come up with legislations or policies that neglect the needs of some whether it is intentional or not.

The blog post Rainbow Health: What Is It? Find more on:


Thursday, 16 November 2017

Marijuana Breakthrough In Pennsylvania

Marijuana has always been a sensitive issue in society. Even back to the hippie days, those who are pro-marijuana struggled in making others listen why weed is unlike other illegal drugs that are risky and dangerous to one’s health. Well, there is probably a reason why the authorities were doubtful of marijuana’s beneficial health effects especially if they can see hippies getting high and doing all sorts of crazy things because the weed made them do that. It’s because the weeds grown in the past were high on THC, the cannabinoid that gives you a natural high and is probably responsible for giving weed the stigma of it being a dangerous substance people should not mess around with.

However, there have been a lot of newer developments over the years. Weed growers are no longer just breeding THC-rich marijuana plants but ones rich in other cannabinoids as well such as CBD. By now, we all know that CBD is the important component of medical marijuana as it offers a lot of medicinal benefits minus the negative aspects of traditional marijuana that is related to getting high and addicted.

This development in the marijuana industry has prompted government officials and medical experts to give marijuana the time of day leading to where it is now – to be even prescribed by doctors in the treatment of various medical conditions because it has proven that it’s not a useless plant after all. (more…)

The following blog article Marijuana Breakthrough In Pennsylvania was first published on


Monday, 13 November 2017

When Events Go Haywire

Events are a big thing nowadays. People spend a lot of money when throwing lavish parties/events that become the talk of the town now that social media is a big part of people’s lives. The aim here is to make your event go viral and trending so that people will notice you and you become popular. After all, people make lots of money when they have lots of followers on social media. So, they usually go all out when organizing events to ensure they stay relevant in a society that is run by technology.

We just all want to have a good time, which is the reason why we spend money to go to special events like concerts. It is our reward for working hard by pampering ourselves for a few hours of entertainment. Unfortunately, the world has become such a scary place right now that violence can erupt out of nowhere and leave behind a big casualty, mostly innocent concert-goers or bystanders that fall victims to psychopathic individuals who have lost sight of what living is all about.

In the immediate wake of the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S., some of Las Vegas' conference halls and resorts served as makeshift shelters, housing injured concertgoers and distraught residents.

But as the day progressed, streets and hotels were reopening, and so far, most events look to be proceeding as planned, but with added precautions.

InsureTech Connect, an insurance innovation conference, is still slated to begin on Tuesday.

"While the mood is somber and our hearts go out to the victims of this senseless tragedy, the people of Las Vegas are united in strength and resilience," Jay Weintraub and Caribou Honig, the founders of the annual event, said in a statement.


Life goes on despite such a terrible tragedy. It may be hard for the families of the victims but you can’t tell when such a situation can happen and who would even think that someone will just shoot people out of nowhere during such a festive occasion. But unfortunately, it does. Events organizers usually ensure the security of everyone during big or small events but there are circumstances you can’t just foretell and it’s really such a shame people have to die or get hurt in the process.

The shooting attack at a Las Vegas concert on Sunday night that killed at least 58 people is the latest in a series of massacres reshaping the live-events industry.

The attack by a solo gunman at an outdoor country-music concert on the Las Vegas Strip was reminiscent of a bombing in May at an Ariana Grande show in Manchester, England, and another tragedy less than two years prior, when gunmen opened fire at a rock concert in Paris. At least 515 other people were injured in Nevada after the suspect perched in a high-rise room in the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino and unleashed a barrage of gunfire on the crowd below. He was later found dead.

Videos of the attack showed screaming concertgoers scrambling for cover as the clack-clack-clack of what sounded like an automatic weapon can be heard in the background. In the aftermath, events organizers will once again be forced to revisit a fundamental debate about how — or even if — they can keep concertgoers safe.


While unfortunate circumstances like this can’t be prevented, it only teaches events organizers to do more when it comes to enforcing security during big events especially those held in large concert grounds or enclosed auditoriums or concert halls. Scanning concert-goers for possible possession of deadly weapons isn’t enough especially that psychopaths take everyone by surprise using tactics that are beyond human comprehension.

We all want to unwind and have a good time during our free time. Tickets for these events do not also come cheap, so the people going there can only expect their safety and security to be upheld all throughout the program and not be subjected to such extreme violence. It is a lesson learned the hard way but a lesson still.

When Events Go Haywire was first published on Blog


Tuesday, 7 November 2017

What’s With An iPhone?

People see iPhones differently. It’s like it is a class of its own – unparalleled and the one that started it all. When it comes to smart technology, the user-friendly interface that Apple developed was the perfect tool that enabled smart technology to take off in the market. And yes, their innovative efforts paid off as Apple is one of the biggest global brands there is today and still the leading smartphone manufacturer aside from the Android brands, of course.

There is something so special with iPhones that the public can’t resist upgrading to the newest version even if their old ones are working just fine and not in dire need of a replacement anytime soon. However, iPhone has a certain charm that is simply irresistible. Despite its high price tag, many do not hesitate in buying it because it is a status symbol and it really has some awesome features too that iOS users have learned to love and can't live without.

Since its introduction 10 years ago, the iPhone customer base has grown dramatically, becoming increasingly more diverse both in benefits sought and in buying power. Consequently, Apple (AAPL, -1.21%) is not introducing just a new iPhone next week, but an iPhone product line anchored by the iPhone 8, its most advanced offering.

The iPhone 8 is expected to be a feat of technology, featuring a number of innovations that include facial recognition, edge-to-edge next generation display with punchier colors and deeper contrast levels, wireless charging with magnetic induction, and an improved dual-lens camera. These innovations, however, are likely to push the price of the phone beyond the $1,000 mark. The question, then, is how consumers will respond. 


Some features come and go. The rest will likely stay but definitely pimped up to perfection – enough for people to spend a few more dollars in their monthly subscription premiums. But if there is one thing that keeps iPhone’s customer base or even grows it, it is the brand itself – Apple. It exudes a certain enigma that showcases the company’s commitment to innovation, style, and creativity without compromising functionality and compatibility with other similar tech devices. Over the years, Apple has maintained its strong and positive image even if the Android market has been swamped by cheaper-priced smart handsets directed to the masses.

Nevertheless, there are a lot of reasons why people choose a phone from Apple over a device from one of the many manufacturers creating Android phones. Want to know the real reasons why some people buy iPhones instead of Android phones? Read on to check out some of the more popular reasons for going with a phone from Apple instead of one from a top Android manufacturer. You just might be surprised.

  1. They like iOS better than Android

Though certain diehard Android fans can’t imagine it, some people really like iOS. In fact, there are even some people who have tried both mobile operating systems and still like iOS better than Android. Maybe it’s Apple’s interface and design that draws them in. Perhaps they like how straightforward it is to get an iPhone working right out of the box, or that they don’t need to take the time to customize a new phone extensively. Maybe they like features like Siri or are fans of some of the apps that come preinstalled on a new iPhone. Some people think Android is a superior operating system, and others like iOS better.


And since the smart technology has been around for years now (a decade actually considering that the first iPhone is 10 years old now), most consumers have already owned either an iPhone, an Android phone, or both over this span of time. But if you have used an iPhone before, chances are you’ll stick to using iOS than making the switch to an Android device. And like the status symbol that it is, almost everybody on the planet recognizes the Apple logo and can tell it from a distance. The same can’t be said, though, with the many Android brands that populate the market these days.

Now once you get tired of your old device and want a new play thing (especially now that the recent Apple Event just launched the new line of iPhone handsets – iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and the limited-edition iPhone X), you can easily sell your iPhone at a more competitive price because Apple products hold their value pretty well over time. Despite most iPhones and Android units having basically the same specs (aside from a handful that really differentiates what an iOS phone is and what an Android one is), some people look past these specs and only see the allure that only an iPhone exudes.

What’s With An iPhone? was initially published to Keating Economics Blog


Thursday, 2 November 2017

The Air That Canadians Breathe

Environmental issues have been around for ages. It’s not that the planet was any better centuries ago because our ancestors also faced countless natural disasters that threatened their survival and their very existence on the planet. Even during the time of the dinosaurs, the earth wasn’t always a safe haven for everyone. They're extinct now, right?! And the same can be said about the problems we are facing today such as global warming and climate change. Not only have they worsened weather phenomenon and made natural disasters more intense than they ought to be but climate change, for instance, has a big impact our daily lives.

People who live in different places in the world do not necessarily experience the same thing all the time because of differing geographical location. They face risks that are not experienced by others. Canada today is battling air quality issues because of a massive wildfire that not only reduced entire forest ecosystems into ashes but filled the entire sky with smoke. People living nearby are already suffering from respiratory problems and travelers are likewise advised to prepare for visibility issues because of the excessive smoke and haze filling the neighboring areas and its skies.

Environment Canada has issued a special air quality alert as wildfire smoke is blanketing much of southern Manitoba, resulting in poor air quality and reduced visibility.

According to the alert, westerly winds are spreading significant amounts of wildfire smoke across the prairies and will continue to do so until a cold front pushes through the region. The cold front is expected to move through western Saskatchewan this morning, and then slump southeastwards, moving through eastern Saskatchewan by Tuesday evening, and then across southern Manitoba on Tuesday night. As the cold front passes, cleaner air will move in from the north.

For many areas, this event will be seen by very hazy skies with moderately elevated Air Quality Health Index values in the four to seven range. However, due to local effects, some areas will see significant reductions in air quality, with AQHI values exceeding seven (high) and potentially exceeding 10 (very high).


The wildfire in itself is already a safety and health risk as fire is not a friendly element at all. It will destroy everything in its path and we are not even talking yet about the many local wild animals that were killed or displaced by this horrific disaster that is also engulfing the air that many Canadians breathe in a thick blanket of smoke.

“The wildfires burning in Waterton Lakes National Park continue to produce widespread smoke and poor air quality over southwestern areas, especially near the park boundaries,” the weather agency said on its website. “Over the next few days, a persistent weather pattern will result in very little improvement in conditions.

“The poor air quality may even spread into adjacent regions by mid week.”

On Sunday, Alberta Health Services said it was asking people to “refrain from visiting at Cardston and Pincher Creek Health Centres until further notice.

“Air quality has improved slightly, but smoke is still entering the buildings when doors are opened,” AHS said. “We sincerely thank everyone for their patience, understanding and co-operation during this time. We understand these restrictions may pose an inconvenience.”


Let us not wait for the time to come when we even have to buy the air that we breathe. It has happened now with water and many other life essentials. Most of the things people in the past took for granted like water and free food in their surroundings and other natural resources are now being sold to us modern people at a high price. If we don’t get our act together and start protecting what’s left of the environment right now and do some major damage control by changing the way we live, it may very well be the reason of mankind’s undoing in the near future.

The Air That Canadians Breathe Find more on: Keating Economics


Friday, 27 October 2017

How To Go Solar

We now live in a society consumed by technology and the unending demand for energy (mostly non-renewable as is the custom now in the world). And it makes sense considering the number of tech contrivances we use day in and day out. Energy is not just a precious commodity, it is already a staple in all aspects of human life. Yet we all know the many issues we face when it comes to energy use. Not only is there a big possibility of a non-renewable source like fossil fuel eventually running out but also the dangers its continued use poses to the environment.

Why then does the majority of the population patronize non-renewable energy? Perhaps it is because they are convenient to use. There are already big businesses that market these products to the people and some that consequently made other related products that make use of this energy resource for them to work like most vehicles, appliances, smart gadgets, etc. when in all honesty, renewable energy is just as easy to use yet often ignored by society.

Given the gains made in reducing costs and improving efficiency for photovoltaic cells, it’s time to turn the solar office’s attention to thermal solar with or without the grid study, said David M. Hart, professor of science and technology policy at George Mason University.

“So for me it makes sense to rotate funding to less mature technologies,” Hart said.

Concentrated solar power, which requires local workers to construct and operate plants, also fits snugly into another Trump goal of creating jobs.

"It generates local employment," said Yogi Goswami, a solar energy expert and professor at the University of South Florida. Photovoltaic panels, Goswami noted, can be (and are) manufactured abroad more cheaply in China


Most progressive countries like the US and China are actually the biggest energy users and contributors to the release of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere (hence global warming and climate change) because these places have countless manufacturing plants and industries that make just about everything you can think of that can thrive in a highly capitalist world. While some have already shifted to the use of solar energy years ago, many still miss out on what the sun can still offer aside from natural daylight.

"We started thinking that seems strange because if you look around the world, if you look on the ground, there's a lot of solar energy going in, so we went back to the forecast, we looked back over 15 years and looked at what people predicted, what happened to solar energy five years out, and it was consistently under-counting how much solar there actually was," Nemet said.

As for why solar's potential was underestimated, there are a number of reasons, but Nemet said the biggest driver is that solar is getting cheaper and faster than originally expected.

While technology is making solar increasingly more efficient and cost-effective, there are still challenges associated with the power source.


While it is perfectly understandable that most people are concerned about the many limitations of solar power, let us not overlook its many advantages as well aside from being 100% environment-friendly. The main issue here is that why the government is turning a blind eye to the harnessing of solar energy in fueling our energy needs and gradually make the shift from the use of fossil fuel to that of sunlight. The weather may change now and then and it is not always sunny all the time but those things can be resolved with proper strategic planning and federal government support and funding to make solar energy more accessible to the public and replace whatever we are using right now.

The following article How To Go Solar was originally published on


Sunday, 22 October 2017

The Need For Green Spaces In The City

The world’s natural space is fast disappearing what with rapid urbanization and all. Most green spaces are turned into agricultural, residential, and commercial spaces to meet the growing needs of the public for natural resources and living space. As a result, Mother Nature takes all the blow just so we can continue to live in utter comfort and safety. If you live in a big city like most people do these days, you likely won’t be seeing a lot of trees and green scenery because almost everywhere around you is full of towering skyscrapers that house businesses and residents alike.

To make urban living healthier and better for our mental health, most land developers and builders are now incorporating green spaces into the living spaces they build. You can see patches of green parks or gardens in an inconspicuous corner or city centers to give the people a feeling of living with nature. Green spaces in busy city streets offer a lot of health benefits. They filter dust and other harmful pollutants in the air that is common in city living. They also help in cooling down the temperature and providing shade that is a welcome relief in cities that are mostly devoid of big trees. It is even helpful in reducing the rate of erosion in waterways as well as protecting rivers and streams by filtering toxic runoff.

The World Health Organisation stipulates that all residents must live within 15 minutes of a green space. Western countries have tended to adopt a norm of 20 square metres of per capita green space. Many of them, however, overshoot this requirement. So, in Dutch cities, the per capita green space is 228 sq m, while in the Greater Paris region, it is 80 sq m. In India, according to the “Urban Greening Guidelines, 2014”, a report from the Ministry of Urban Development, the per capita green space in metropolitan cities is abysmal — 0.81 sq m in Chennai, 2 sq m in Bangalore and 1.24 sq m in Mumbai. Smaller cities like Varanasi (24.78 sq m), Bhopal (18.62 sq m) and Chandigarh (17.43 sq m) fare much better in this respect. Gandhinagar fares spectacularly with 162 sq m of green space per person.

The component of urban greens that is most conspicuous by its absence in Indian cities is neighbourhood parks. Even in small western towns, every neighbourhood has a park where children screech and run wildly around see-saws and slides while their mothers catch up with each other. It is a great stress-busting space that allows free play for children of all social strata.


We can’t just ignore it anymore. Urban living isn’t really the healthiest type of lifestyle for us but we find it hard to disconnect from our tech-crazed world. The tighter these cities become as more and more people converge in these crowded places. More land is then converted into homes and high-rising condominiums to accommodate the growing number of people requiring a place to live. As a result, more trees are cut down and land is cleared in preparation for building and constructing work. It is an endless and vicious cycle of abuse at a global scale that is happening more rapidly now than it did in the past.

While we cannot blame planners for causing all these issues, they do have the ability to intervene and thus a role to play in improving urban life. Design guidelines, for example, can help by ensuring people have more accidental social encounters in spaces like cafes, at mailboxes or in gardens.

So too can more strategic interventions such as community gardens – places where people grow not only food, but also friendships. More green space can also potentially buffer noise, heat and light, and provide respite from crowds.

In car-dependent outer suburbs and new housing estates, planners would do well to focus on first developing social facilities such as clubs, sporting facilities and parks. Public transport is another important intervention in such suburbs. Good access to public transport also reduces a household's commuting expenses.

Our research suggests planners and built environment professionals have surprisingly low levels of knowledge about depressogenic environments.


Human health improves in the presence of a green environment. A person’s mood improves and brightens when they get to commune with nature. Even the sight of green plants and trees can do lots of wonder to a person’s overall health and well-being. People who are cooped up in physical structures tend to be less active. Experts even coined the term “depressogenic” to describe the poor mental health of individuals living in urban cities. We subconsciously get overwhelmed of the various distractions in our immediate environments such as bright lights, loud noise, and busy streets that it increases your cognitive load leaving you mentally stressed-out.

Better urban planning is needed to help counter the major flaws of urban living. Adding green touches like gardens, parks, trees, and other greenery is the first step to correcting this problem especially that we can’t just abandon our modern lifestyle that easily and decide to go off-grid in a heartbeat. There may be problems but there are also solutions if we just open up our minds to all the possibilities and perhaps declutter our lives a little for the sake of our health and sanity.

The Need For Green Spaces In The City Find more on:


Sunday, 15 October 2017

How Meat-Eaters Harm The Environment

Humans are known omnivorous eaters. It means we eat both plant and meat-based food. While it is essential for human survival, animal farming is proving to be more detrimental to the environment than we’d like to acknowledge. It is even more harmful than traditional crop farming for a variety of reasons. The soil is lost, trees are cut down and water is consumed in raising these animals especially when it involves factory-farming where hundreds, if not thousands, of these animals, are raised for human consumption at a time.

Animal waste that gets washed down to rivers and streams pollute these water sources aside from increasing the carbon footprint due to untreated animal waste and is next to air pollution from vehicle combustion as the biggest threat to the environment. Marine life disappears (they either die or leave the place) as the nutrients coming from animal waste fosters the growth of algae that in turn reduces the amount of oxygen available in the water not to mention the accompanying stinky smell from excessive algae growth in the water. Aside from that, these harmful wastes pollute drinking water and can lead to a long list of health conditions that are completely avoidable if we just limit our consumption of animal meat. Animal agriculture contributes to 51% of the greenhouse gas emission all over the world. Moreover, these animals consume just as much food in order to grow in size and produce sufficient flesh to be later sold in most markets.

The global meat industry, already implicated in driving global warming and deforestation, has now been blamed for fueling what is expected to be the worst “dead zone” on record in the Gulf of Mexico.

Toxins from manure and fertiliser pouring into waterways are exacerbating huge, harmful algal blooms that create oxygen-deprived stretches of the gulf, the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay, according to a new report by Mighty, an environmental group chaired by former congressman Henry Waxman.

It is expected that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) will this week announce the largest ever recorded dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. It is expected to be larger than the nearly 8,200 square-mile area that was forecast for July – an expanse of water roughly the size of New Jersey.


The problem has grown considerably despite efforts to minimize its damage to the environment. It does not help that the demand for meat (of all types) continues to increase as the majority of the population are oblivious to the dangers posed by meat eating to the natural world. Environmental groups are raising awareness on the problems caused by meat farming in an effort to discourage the people from consuming more meat or reducing the demand for it at the very least.

With scientists tomorrow expected to confirm the largest dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico ever recorded, Environment America renewed its call for Tyson Foods, Inc. and other corporate agribusiness companies to curb the pollution flowing from their fields and factory farms.  The demand for Tyson to “clean it up” was today joined by Mighty Earth, which released a new research report on pollution from meat companies like Tyson.

“From the Chesapeake Bay to the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, giant meat companies like Tyson are now responsible for huge volumes of pollution pouring into America’s waterways,” said John Rumpler, clean water program director for Environment America.


Agri-business is a large and profitable industry in America alone. Hence, claiming that its harmful effects are also on a massive scale is but an understatement to the real danger it poses. Major US waterways are contaminated by these harmful pollutants that likewise make it impossible for marine life to thrive. However, this problem is not easily addressed as most people eat meat in their day-to-day life. While going vegan is not the absolute solution to the problem, understanding how it impacts our lives is the first step to addressing this issue for good.

The article How Meat-Eaters Harm The Environment See more on: Blog


Sunday, 8 October 2017

The Role Of Mobile Apps In The Internet Of Things

Technology is the biggest thing to hit the planet earth over the past few decades. Digitization is apparently the name of the game. It’s either you join the bandwagon or get left behind. Many of us have witnessed its birth, growth and its surprising exponential growth that gave us the amazing world of the Internet of Things and the smart technology we can’t live without right now. And one of the fastest growing industries related to their use is mobile apps that have virtually erased the word “boredom” in our vocabulary.

There are mobile apps for just about everything you’ll ever need in real life through the use of your smartphone. Most mobile apps, especially the ones that really have a practical use, have uplifted our lives and made certain tasks easier than they used to. From work-related to social networking and gaming apps, you can download and install free or premium apps that suit your taste and meet your tech demands.

Many industrial companies with extensive terrain or explosive areas today continue to use outdated technologies to plan, execute, manage and control their business processes. Employees are not well integrated in the flow of information and due to a lack of alternatives, certifications or purely out of habit (“we’ve always done it this way”), many tasks are still being performed with clipboard and paper. These archaic methods bring increased risk and inflexibility to the business, being error‐prone and inefficient. This also leads to mobile workers carrying more than they should when walking around the site, creating a potential safety issue and affecting the wellbeing of their workforce.


The tech shift we are experiencing right now is expected to go on and on until we reach the era of artificial intelligence (which has already started, by the way). The future may be uncertain for now but one thing is for sure, investing in a mobile app venture can likely bring in big profits especially if you offer something unique and helpful to the public. And with 4.8 billion of smartphone users globally, you won’t have a problem reaching a certain niche with your product especially once you look into the benefits of localization (in places that do not speak English, of course).

By making it easier for mobile phones to spread out and connect to one another, the IoT has created huge market-demand for and incentivized even greater investment in mobile phones and the development of apps for them. The same connectivity which drives the IoT has also enabled the world’s greatest developers to network and cooperate with one another more easily than ever before, meaning hubs of innovation are forming across the world’s digital environments.

Building a massive mobile network to generate demand for more mobile apps is only part of how the IoT has enabled greater mobile development, however. The entrepreneur-friendly IoT survives and thrives due to the innovations of the startups which occur within and because of it, and the greatest impact has perhaps been from some companies which understand how to harness the power of the IoT to better push their mobile apps.


Everything worked perfectly in the grand scheme of things. As the web and smart technology progressed and brought about the Internet of Things that we now know of today, it has also paved the way to the popularity and success of mobile apps that almost everyone with a smartphone right now makes use of every single day. It is actually synergy at work since both the IoT and mobile apps benefit from each other. Many global brands today started from these mobile apps like Uber and messaging apps that bring new life to conversations. And with the reception it is getting from everyone today, we can expect better things to come our way that can easily fit the palm of our hands.

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Chipotle: Problems In The Food Industry

Food is the most basic of human needs. We can’t survive for long without eating and drinking water. It is why investing in a food-related business is one of the most profitable investments you can ever make, as people eat three times daily at the very least. But despite food being a vital necessity in our lives, numerous issues affect it too, so it is not always an assurance your business will prosper. Various food franchises and businesses have since closed down over the years for various reasons.

Aside from economic factors that entrepreneurs have to consider when running their businesses, problems with health and the people’s changing lifestyle influence the type of businesses that succeed in the market. It’s mainly because a lot of the ailments that bother humans these days are because of our lifestyle. People are becoming more health-conscious and some won’t hesitate to spend a lot for an expensive organic salad than eat at their favorite burger joint or avoid indulging in junks and sweets like they used to. Then, there are other random incidents like food poisoning that can damage a fast food or restaurant’s reputation that may eventually lead to their closure.

Chipotle's food safety woes are not over.

The chain confirmed Tuesday that several customers who ate at a Chipotle Mexican Grill in Sterling, Virginia, reported symptoms of norovirus after eating at the chain.

So far eight cases between July 14 and July 17 were reported to, a website that allows users to report when they get sick after eating at a restaurant. Business Insider was alerted to the issues at the restaurant by the site, and then published a story. Customers reported symptoms such as vomiting, severe stomach pains, diarrhea, dehydration and, in some cases, hospitalization.

Jim Marsden, Chipotle's executive director of food safety, said that the company has notified local health department officials of the incident.

"Norovirus does not come from our food supply, and it is safe to eat at Chipotle. We plan to reopen the restaurant today," he said in a statement Tuesday. "We take every report of illness seriously. In accordance with our established protocols, our team is working to ensure the safety of our customers and employees, including voluntarily closing the restaurant yesterday to conduct a complete sanitization."


The reputation of a food-related business is on the line every time there are negative reports blaming them of customers getting sick from the food they serve. And it’s actually not the first time for Chipotle to get involved in such a controversy because they’ve suffered from a similar problem about two years ago and is actually just starting to make big bucks again. It’s a good thing they haven’t entirely closed down because of this because other smaller shops and restaurants have gone bankrupt because of similar incidents.

Two years after a string of food safety incidents battered sales and scared away diners, Chipotle Mexican Grill still isn't on solid ground.

While the beleaguered burrito chain has returned to profitability and its same-store sales have begun trending in a positive direction, its successes have been overshadowed by a data breach, overtime pay lawsuits and drug charges being brought against a senior manager.

"While these things do not deter customers as much as a food poisoning outbreak, they do raise questions about how well the company is managed and suggest a lackadaisical approach," Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, told CNBC via email.

In the hope of luring back lapsed customers, Chipotle continues to invest heavily in marketing and promotions. In an SEC filing last month, the chain said that it would be increasing its spending in these areas, saying expenses would rise as much as 0.3 percent as a result.


The company has been doing damage control ever since but it is not always that easy to pull off especially that social media can quickly escalate things these days. The public is easily scared by issues like this and they tend to avoid that specific shop or store up until they forget about the issue and no similar incident happen soon after, which is the problem of Chipotle because it happened yet again. It’s no wonder they can’t win back many of their loyal customers after these outbreaks happened nor are they able to attract new customers to become their new patrons. It might be true then they weren’t able to fully recover from the E. coli incident back then and only time can tell how their business will fare amidst the tough competition in the food industry.

The blog article Chipotle: Problems In The Food Industry is republished from Blog


Sunday, 1 October 2017

Is Democracy Still At Work?

Citizens enjoy greater freedom in a democratic government. The people are free to choose and decide on a number of things like their religion, interests, studies, work, etc. while at the same time observing the rules and laws of the land. People can move freely without the state constantly telling them what else they can do and up to where they can go. The public also enjoys a set of innate human rights that the law upholds and protects. Discrimination is discouraged in society and those who are caught violating the rights of another person will be help accountable in court.

American constituents enjoy the benefits of democracy like many other nations in the world. There are times when it is abused but it is likewise put to good use to help maintain the delicate check and balance of the various branches of the government. A democratic system of government is founded on the principle of the rule of the majority, wherein the consensus of the majority wins. It is evident during elections where the people vote for their next leader regardless of their personal and professional qualifications.

Constituent power is a wondrous thing in a representative democracy. After the election in November, political prognosticators speculated that President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, was probably as good as dead. Some thought President Trump might even sign a “Trumpcare” bill on his first day. But on Friday, more than six months into Trump’s presidency, Senate Republicans announced that their attempt to repeal Obamacare had collapsed.

The defeat was months in the making. In December, we released a Google Doc titled “Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda.” As former congressional staffers, we witnessed the rise of the tea party and saw the power of local, defensive congressional advocacy. After Trump’s election, we recommended that progressives implement the same strategies and tactics — minus the racism and violence. To our surprise, the Google Doc went viral, and today there are locally led Indivisible groups in every single congressional district in the country, full of members applying their constituent power.


In this case, democracy saved Obamacare from getting abolished especially that President Trump makes it known to all Republican legislators to get it done by hook or by crook since assuming office. The people choose who to represent them in both the lower and upper house and these elected legislators create, pass, or turn down bills that may or may not benefit their constituents. And it is what had made the abolishment of Obamacare hard for Republicans that had their eye on passing the new health care law under Trump’s administration.

Appointing family members to powerful jobs they’re not qualified to hold. Firing officials investigating scandals. Musing about prosecuting a defeated rival. Entangling his business empire with the presidency to such a degree that he’ll literally profit from his time in the White House.

The early months of the Trump presidency don’t look like what you normally see in a democracy. But they’re everyday occurrences in corrupt, undemocratic countries like Azerbaijan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or even Vladimir Putin’s Russia. And academics who study such countries increasingly worry that President Donald Trump is governing like the leader of the kind of nation Washington has long condemned — not like a president of the United States.

“His refusal to fully divest himself from his business, the linkages between finances and the levers of power — those are the classic symptoms of kleptocracy,” Seva Gunitsky, a University of Toronto scholar who studies post-Soviet states, says. “It’s probably the greatest long-term threat — maybe even short-term threat — to American institutions.”


The problem with the new administration is that it fosters the growth of political leeches that is characteristic of the same issues that abound most struggling third-world countries today. And as such has been a cause of alarm among other politicians both far and wide. It seems that President Trump sees the presidency as an extension of his role as an entrepreneur and businessman and it is obvious in the polities he has passed and is pushing for so far.

Little by little, democracy is no longer practiced as a sort of authoritarian leadership emerges. But will we allow that to happen today that democracy is still pretty much alive? If we love this country and want a brighter future for the millions of young Americans in our midst, let us exercise all the democratic faculties we still have to prevent this from happening and reorient today’s leaders in what they should be doing instead in leading this country to greatness.

The following blog article Is Democracy Still At Work? is courtesy of


Sunday, 24 September 2017

Facebook’s Disaster Maps To The Rescue

The world experiences far more weather disturbances now than it did in the past. It can be anywhere from hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and even tsunamis that hit various parts of the world now and then. Irresponsible human activities hastened the arrival of global warming and climate change that in turn messed up natural weather systems and phenomena that steadily gets worse as the years go by. Only then do humans realize how insignificant we are in the face of these natural disasters that already claimed millions of lives since the 1970s.

These days, social media is instrumental in reaching out to people who live in areas struck by disasters, whether man-made or natural. You can mark yourself safe and connect with family, friends, and thoughtful strangers who want to extend help in times of need. And now, Facebook’s new feature aims to help rescuers and relief organizations (public or private) get to affected areas safely and fast. The tech giant compiles aggregate and anonymous data to paint a clearer and bigger picture about a certain disaster. For years, the social platform has served a crucial purpose of connecting people during catastrophes and the new disaster map can do so much more that in return can save countless lives (both the rescuers and the survivors).

In order to help communities during natural disasters, Facebook has launched disaster maps that use data to help organizations see where people are located and determine what they need.

After storms and other disasters hit an area, traditional methods of communication can be knocked offline and it can take longer for aid and resources to reach survivors. These newly launched maps can help response teams put together a more complete picture of where people are located, according to a release from Facebook.

"We saw people coming to Facebook during disasters to share with friends and family, and thought the trends and how people were sharing on the platform could actually help fill that critical information gap that humanitarian organizations were facing," the social network’s public policy manager, Molly Jackman, told Mashable. "That way, they [could have] the information they need to respond more quickly and effectively to natural disasters."


Maps are helpful in directing everyone on the right course of action when delivering much-needed relief and aid. We can’t stop natural disasters from happening but we can prepare for them although we can’t really tell the extent of the disaster once these disasters eventually strike. It is even more catastrophic in struggling developing nations in Asia and Africa that don’t have existing weather prediction systems in place to warn everyone of a disaster’s approach and what areas will likely be affected, so people can evacuate when necessary.

Maps based on the same concept have been produced from mobile phone company data by analyst FlowMinder. In Nepal, for example, the maps were able to provide clues as to where people dispersed after the 2015 earthquake. However, the sharing and processing of mobile phone data has not approached real time.

According to Molly Jackman, a public policy research manager with Facebook, the new maps have been in development for the past year and are the outcome of extensive discussions with humanitarian organisations. “They helped us identify the data that would be most helpful for them,” said Jackman, speaking to IRIN over the phone from Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters. “A lot of the conversation started with Safety Check; at first they just asked us to aggregate that data. The challenge we quickly realised is that a lot of people may not be looking at their phones or checking in as safe. So we wanted to dig a layer deeper.”


The map will allow rescuers identify which areas are safe and which ones are not that can facilitate disaster recovery and in rescuing possible survivors trapped inside the danger zone. The map can also tell whether which direction survivors are evacuating to, to let rescuers know where to concentrate their relief efforts. Facebook has spent a great deal of time developing this disaster map to make sure that whatever data they get will prove useful in times of disasters without compromising the privacy of the people using these maps.

The following blog post Facebook’s Disaster Maps To The Rescue is available on


Sunday, 17 September 2017

No More Targeted Ads From Gmail

We like to think we are safe in the confines of our personal Gmail account but how mistaken are we. Not only is your browsing habit observed and recorded but Google also sneaks a peak at our emails just so they can show us targeted ads, all for the love of (sponsor’s) money. You really can’t remain anonymous on the web anymore because you leave digital footprints that a tech giant like Google can take advantage of. Sadly, though, you have no choice unless you totally give up modern email and switch back to snail mail that may still inadvertently get lost en route to your receiver and can take a lifetime to get there.

Modern technology has indeed made life easier but there are a lot of catch that not all the time we are aware of. And the fact that Google reads your emails in Gmail is not new anymore because it made the headlines years ago. Targeted-advertising generates the biggest cash inflow for Google even though we aren’t thrilled at the news of them spying in on us. Do you even feel comfortable knowing that other people can read the contents of your personal email account? But then, it’s an efficient and comprehensive free web email service, so can we really complain at all?

Google is making a change to its advertising practices that will affect millions of Gmail users around the globe. Starting later this year, the company will stop reading your emails to refine its ads.

If you're just learning that Gmail scans your messages, this is an issue that dates back for years. Google's automated systems routinely scanned Gmail users' incoming and outgoing emails to help refine the company's massive data-gathering operation, which in turn supported its enormous targeted-advertising business.

Google's ad business is what keeps the entire company chugging along. Last year, 88 percent of all revenue at Alphabet, Google's parent company, came from Google advertising, according to its annual report.


But all these things are about to change as Google announced they will cease to read emails anymore as they refine their controversial advertising practices. The new changes will give users more control as to what ads they want to see popping in and out of their browser (not email, please) although the company has not yet specified when these changes will actually take place.

Google said it does not scan the email of paying corporate customers of its G Suite of services, but it made the policy change — announced in a company blog post on Friday — on its free consumer version to eliminate confusion and create one uniform policy toward Gmail.

As it builds its Google Cloud business for selling internet infrastructure and services to corporate customers, Google is trying to ease concerns that it will use data from corporate customers to help its mainstay advertising business.

Google said it plans to carry out the changes to the Gmail ad policy “later this year.” It will continue to scan Gmail to screen for potential spam or phishing attacks as well as offering suggestions for automated replies to email.


Google snooping in on emails coming in and out of Gmail isn’t entirely a bad thing as it helps them filter out dangerous spam and malware that can harm your system but that does not erase the fact that they do so without the user’s consent. Meanwhile, they will now streamline ads depending on data you have set on your settings or on your search history on other Google-related services like Youtube. This move may eventually help Google win some of the lawsuits filed against them regarding wiretapping allegations and even win over corporate clients into using their web services and infrastructures.

The following blog article No More Targeted Ads From Gmail See more on:


Saturday, 9 September 2017

On Fake News And The Freedom Of The Media

The proliferation of fake news these days is quite disturbing. For the ordinary person, it is hard to discern which news they are reading is genuine and which one is fake because they are all over social media. It’s not common for this news to hit mainstream media but they are a growing pain to social media users especially the millennials who access the web on a daily basis. However, others are making a big issue on a bill that aims to prevent the proliferation of fake news because it might infringe on the right of the freedom of the press, or so they say.

Facebook is the most notorious platform where fake news abounds. It is distressing because of the number of people (several million) visiting this site daily and its impact on people’s behavior over time. It also affects the view of people of what journalism and ethics are all about. People can be misled to believe a certain issue or point of view because they have seen it posted on a popular site like Facebook and more so because it has been liked and shared by thousands of other Facebook users who are as na├»ve as you. While it is the media’s right to voice out their opinions, it is never right to tell people erroneous information. They should remain objective at all times and tell the news as it is and not makeup stories just to capture the people’s attention.

Fake news and light touch regulation of social media platforms are threats to democracy and press freedom in Ireland, the chair of the Press Council Sean Donlon has warned.

It comes as the Press Ombudsman Peter Feeney cautioned new media organisations that their credibility was being questioned because of the sharing of fake news online.

He said Facebook was aware of such threats to its credibility and warned the public would return to traditional news outlets in search of accurate and trusted information if online content was found to be untrustworthy.

"There are far more checks and balances, where traditional values of good journalism, accuracy, impartiality, depth and context are more likely to be found," said Mr Feeney.

"If the public requires access to accurate information and informed analysis, then there may well be a return to print and broadcasting.


A major challenge these days is to educate the people how to spot fake news on social media. No matter how obvious it may be, many people seem to love the theatrics of fake news and can’t resist sharing it with others. Unfortunately, many update themselves on the latest news from social media – the platform where fakes news are plenty. They end up confused as to what is fact from fiction, making them an easy prey to fake news.

Why did the false tweet get so much more attention? A new study published June 26 in the journal Nature looks into why fake posts like Tucker's can go so viral.

Economists concluded that it comes down to two factors. First, each of us has limited attention. Second, at any given moment, we have access to a lot of information — arguably more than at any previous time in history. Together, that creates a scenario in which facts compete with falsehoods for finite mental space. Often, falsehoods win out.

Diego F. M. Oliveira, the study's lead author and a post-doctoral fellow at Indiana University and Northwestern University, tested this idea by creating a theoretical model for the spread of information. The model was loosely based on epidemiological models that public health researchers use to study the spread of disease. Oliviera's team had bots or "agents" produce messages containing new memes — essentially fake news — on sites like Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, and re-share messages created or forwarded by their neighboring bots in a network.

"Quality is not a necessary ingredient for explaining popularity patterns in online social networks," Oliveira wrote in his paper, adding, "Paradoxically, our behavioral mechanisms to cope with information overload may ... increas[e] the spread of misinformation and mak[e] us vulnerable to manipulation."


People seem to love the overly dramatic posts. It tickles their fancy and they don’t hesitate to fire away on that like and share button making it viral in a few hours’ time. Most people no longer have the time of day to check facts and simply believe the first thing they read on their news feed. It’s a troubling phenomenon because people form opinions based on what they just read and it can even put people in harm’s way when worst comes to worst.

The people should be more vigilant today and choose the social media channels you follow. Avoid the ones that don’t sound legit to avoid exposure to fake news at all. It does not mean that a certain news item is true if it has been shared on social media countless times already enough to make it go viral. Keep that in mind and you’ll do well even if you are a regular social media user. Even media practitioners shouldn’t just pass the blame and take full accountability for their actions and accept the fact that the times are changing. If they don’t want anyone meddling with their business, don’t make up stories that have no substance at all.

On Fake News And The Freedom Of The Media is courtesy of