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Why is Ottawa still rationing foreign landings at our airports?

Opening Canada’s skies would help cross-border trade, tourism, investment and knowledge flows

Canada’s national men’s soccer team qualifying for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar was a huge achievement, given that we haven’t qualified for a World Cup since 1986. Although this is a great time in Canada’s sporting history, it won’t actually be easy for fans to go to Qatar to support their team in person, primarily because of outdated regulations that close our skies to international airline competition.

Isn’t it strange in the 21st century that the number of flights arriving in Canada from most foreign countries is still entirely determined by the federal government. That number, which appears to be picked arbitrarily depending on the country in question, isn’t based on consumer demand. In fact, airlines and airports play a role in allocating how many flights can arrive from a particular country only if Canada has an “open skies” agreement with the country. At the moment, Qatar is only permitted to land four flights in Canada per week. That’s obviously not ideal given the (albeit temporary) increase in demand for flights to and from Qatar.

This same arbitrary flight allocation applies to many other countries, among them many popular destinations for tourism and commerce. For example, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is also hard to get to and from. The UAE is only allowed seven arrivals per week in Canada for both Emirates and Etihad Airlines.

If Canada were to open our skies and accept all the incoming flights the Canadian market could support, Air Canada wouldn’t be Canadian travelers’ only flight option and the resulting increase in competition very likely would bring ticket prices down.

Opening Canada’s skies would also help diversify where foreign flights land. The UAE has its national carriers primarily fly into Toronto, because with only seven Canadian landings permitted per week, it makes sense to prioritize Pearson over the alternatives. But if that arbitrary limit were removed, flights could both arrive and depart from other Canadian cities where market demand is strong enough, though not as strong as in Toronto.

These limitations are in large part why Canada does not rank very well on economy-adjusted air-connectivity. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), we ranked 32nd globally, based on pre-pandemic 2019 figures. In fact, despite having world class cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, we have no cities in the air-connectivity top 20.

Changing how we approach international carriers should be a no-brainer given the immense consumer benefit it would bring. And open-skies isn’t even that radical a proposal: it would mean treating all countries and their national carriers the same way we already treat 23 countries (soon to be 24 with the addition of India) and the member-states of the European Union. For those countries, which include 10 in the Caribbean, the open-skies agreement allows any number of carriers to operate both direct and indirect services between Canada and another country, with airlines choosing the routes they serve, the frequency of their service and the prices of flights, without any restrictions. Simply put, for those countries we let the market and consumer demand decide the frequency of flights, not the federal government. But if a market-based approach is good enough for 24 countries plus Europe, why isn’t it good enough for all countries? We should let the market decide where Canadians want to travel to, how often and with what carrier.

But opening our skies wouldn’t just be a win for Canadian consumers. Growing air connectivity with the world has economic benefits, too. According to IATA, the historic correlation is that a 10 per cent rise in connectivity relative to a country’s GDP is associated with a boost in labour productivity of 0.07 per cent. Not great thrust but certainly worth having.

Opening our skies would help cross-border trade, tourism, investment and knowledge flows. As we all get back to traveling in a post-pandemic world, now would be a good time for Canada to modernize its rules and open our skies for good.

Originally published here

LE PROTECTIONNISME N’AIDERA PAS LE SECTEUR AUTOMOBILE

Les guerres commerciales lancées par Trump ont montré que le protectionnisme n’entraîne aucun avantage économique palpable. Il ne sera pas plus utile pour le secteur de l’automobile européen. 

Dans un précédent article, en janvier, je vous avais parlé de la « souveraineté numérique » telle qu’expliquée par Emmanuel Macron. En lisant cet article, vous auriez pu penser que je n’avais que très peu relié son concept de souveraineté stratégique au protectionnisme (même si d’autres exemples suggèrent que Macron est effectivement protectionniste). Si vous aviez encore des doutes, le président français vient de les dissiper.

Dans ses récentes déclarations, M. Macron appelle à la « souveraineté » européenne dans le secteur automobile. Son problème : les sociétés de location de voitures en Europe n’achètent pas suffisamment (à son goût) de modèles européens. Les constructeurs automobiles américains et les fabricants chinois sont plus performants que le marché européen, ce qui chagrine le dirigeant français.

Qui est protégé ?

Il a expliqué sa position sur le plateau de France 2 :

« Il nous faut un Buy European Act comme les Américains ; il faut réserver [nos subventions] à nos industriels européens. […] Vous avez la Chine qui protège son industrie, les Etats-Unis qui protègent leur industrie et l’Europe qui est une maison ouverte. »

En 2017, Macron avait fait pression pour mettre en place ce qu’il a appelé le « Buy European Act » (loi pour acheter européen) pour les marchés publics, qui s’appliquerait aux entreprises ayant plus de la moitié de leur production au sein du bloc européen. Mais il a été contraint d’abandonner l’idée face à l’opposition de Bruxelles.

Je viens d’un pays, le Luxembourg, qui ne produit pas et n’a jamais produit de voitures ; alors peut-être suis-je incapable de comprendre l’attachement nationaliste à une marque de voiture locale. Mais, ce qui est le plus affligeant, c’est de considérer que l’Europe devrait s’engager dans une autre guerre commerciale avec le reste du monde pour des voitures.

Si des pays comme les Etats-Unis ou la Chine sont soupçonnés de favoriser injustement leurs industries, alors la France doit s’en saisir au niveau de l’OMC, et non essayer d’imiter leurs politiques au sein de l’Union européenne.

Le protectionnisme nous est souvent vendu comme un devoir de protéger nos industries, mais, en pratique, il nuit fortement aux consommateurs. Nous avons besoin de choix sur le marché pour prendre des décisions éclairées pour notre confort et notre porte-monnaie. Réduire le nombre de concurrents ne fera qu’empirer les choses. La notion de souveraineté européenne d’Emmanuel Macron devrait viser à créer un environnement commercial favorable à l’innovation, et non à servir de tremplin à une nouvelle guerre commerciale.

L’Europe a connu de nombreux problèmes ces dernières années, mais l’un des moins visibles, et pourtant important, est celui de la pénurie de puces. Lorsque les chaînes d’approvisionnement sont perturbées, l’industrie est désorganisée. Cela a été le cas en Europe et aux Etats-Unis.

Le problème de l’électrique

L’Union européenne ayant l’intention d’interdire la vente de nouvelles voitures à essence d’ici 2030, d’énormes opportunités de marché vont se présenter pour les vendeurs du monde entier ; car l’Europe est à peine capable de répondre à la demande de ses propres marchés. Certains prétendront également que l’Europe sous-estime la valeur des véhicules à hydrogène dans cette équation.

En outre, l’infrastructure de recharge nécessaire pour faire fonctionner les voitures électriques n’existe tout simplement pas. Si des pays comme les Pays-Bas fournissent de nombreuses stations de recharge électrique, d’autres sont à la traîne, ce qui risque de rendre le marché de l’occasion pour les voitures à essence plus important dans les prochaines années qu’il ne l’a jamais été auparavant.

Schmidt Automotive Research prévoit que les ventes de véhicules électriques à batterie bondiront cette année dans l’Europe de l’Ouest, pour atteindre 1 575 000 unités, soit une part de marché de 14%, contre 11% l’an dernier. Selon ces mêmes estimations, cette proportion atteindrait 14,5% en 2023 et 15% en 2024, soit 1 950 000 véhicules.

Bernstein Research prévoit de son côté que toutes les ventes électriques en Europe représenteront 14% du marché cette année, 27% en 2025 et 50,5 % en 2030.

L’accélération actuelle des ventes de véhicules électriques à faible consommation est le fait d’adeptes précoces et aisés, convaincus de l’importance de l’énergie électrique et de tout ce qu’elle peut apporter à la planète. Ils achèteront probablement une Tesla, une Volkswagen, une Hyundai ou une Kia électrique sans trop y penser, malgré des prix élevés. Cela ne sera pas le cas lorsque des acheteurs réguliers, aux revenus moyens, voudront acheter une nouvelle voiture.

Le protectionnisme ne résoudra guère ce problème ; il ne fait que s’ajouter à la grande ironie de la situation. D’un côté, le gouvernement interdit votre véhicule à essence et, de l’autre, il rend l’achat d’une voiture électrique plus coûteux pour vous, puisqu’il a l’intention d’appliquer des tarifs douaniers.

Les politiques de Donald Trump ont montré qu’une guerre commerciale mondiale n’entraîne aucun avantage économique palpable pour l’un ou l’autre camp. En fait, elle a rendu le monde occidental plus vulnérable à l’influence des intérêts économiques chinois. Faciliter la création de l’industrie manufacturière en Europe devrait être le facteur clé pour les décideurs à Bruxelles et à Paris, mais ils sont occupés à marquer des points politiques à bas prix par une réflexion économique à court terme.

Originally published here

Sharing economy: we need to rethink work

The Consumer Choice Center has launched a new and improved version of its Sharing Economy Index, ranking 60 cities around the world by their openness to innovation in the sector.

The index is primarily a guide for consumers, pointing them toward the most (and least) innovation-friendly cities. This way, they can take advantage of the best the sharing economy has to offer.

At the same time, it teaches regulators an important lesson about the sharing economy. The sector is a 21st-century marvel, from the way the company is set up to workers’ personal schedules. By contrast, efforts to impose one-size-fits-all legislation on the industry are stuck in the past and will only leave everyone worse off.

For centuries now, the usual workplace was organized around a clear hierarchy, where some completed a set number of known chores and others watched over them to make sure the job got done.

The traditional factory, with its manual laborers and overseers, fits the same description. As tasks in the economy multiplied and the world became richer, factories often gave way to offices and worker overalls became shirts and ties. The underlying structure of the workplace, nonetheless, remained the same.

The sharing economy blows this old model out of the water. Gone is the hierarchy of the factory assembly line or office arrangement, replaced by a network designed to match independent buyers and sellers in ways that benefit both parties. Companies like Airbnb, Uber, and Fiverr are platforms for private individuals to supply goods or services to those in need, with no controlling manager or bureaucratic system getting in the way of exchanges.

Such decentralization doesn’t stop at the structure that companies take. It extends all the way to the everyday tasks of those working in the gig economy. As noted in the Consumer Choice Center’s report, around 79% of independent laborers in the US and 80% of those in the EU cited the ability to produce their own schedule as the primary reason why they chose the position in the first place.

Thanks to its open-ended nature, the sharing economy is able to bounce back from serious challenges. If one part of the network is disrupted, another can take its place, with the larger web always surviving. For instance, Uber has been able to remain active in Ukraine during the Russian invasion, having to move 60 tons of supplies from Romania into Ukraine.

Regulators do not share the same positive picture of the gig industry. Instead, they want workers to enjoy the legal protection and benefits of being a regular salaried worker in a standard company. The same policymakers believe an employee must be able to demand unionization, healthcare benefits, or compensation for negligence and that platform owners should be forced to comply with these demands.

Were regulators to have their way with the sharing economy, however, decentralization would be no more. Suggested legislation marks the return to the old model of factory and office. The US Protecting the Right to Organize Act and the European Commission’s 2021 platform work proposal relegates gig workers to the status of permanent employees and standard managers based on a number of familiar criteria: work and safety, collective bargaining, and a required number of working hours per week.

The consequences would be awful all around. Far from legal certainty, some gig workers would be left jobless altogether, as they are unable to work on a 9 to 5 schedule. This hits vulnerable groups the hardest since they are most reliant on flexible work environments.

Consumers will suffer too. With more and more regulations, services become costlier and harder to acquire. Once layoffs intensify and companies go bankrupt, the goods and services that customers have grown to rely on may not be available anymore.

It’s advisable for policymakers to look toward the future rather than the past. Recognize and foster the strengths of the sharing economy by getting out of the way and letting workers, consumers, and the firms themselves decide the fate of the sharing economy.

Originally published here

What the collapse of FTX means for crypto in Europe

Just a few days ago, FTX was the second-largest crypto exchange in the world with a significant user base across the European Union. Now, after revelations of the company’s finances and opaque dealings by CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, the company faces a collapse causing contagion across the cryptocurrency economy. This will likely have a large impact on how crypto is both viewed and regulated here in Europe.

Bankman-Fried, the Bahamas-based American billionaire entrepreneur, was a primary protagonist in the folding of crypto platforms and hedge funds like Celsius Network, Voyager, and Three Arrows Capital earlier this year, offering nearly $1 billion to buy or bail out firms, prop up those facing insolvency and eye acquisitions worth hundreds of millions.

Much of this was carried out by FTX, but also its sister hedge fund Alameda Research, owned by Bankman-Fried and also headquartered in the Caribbean, whose balance sheets were likely propped up with FTX customer funds.

In September, FTX’s European office, called FTX EU and headquartered in Switzerland, won approval from EU member state Crypus to operate as an investment firm following a local acquisition.

In a press release, Bankman-Fried said the license was “an important step in achieving our goal of becoming one of the most regulated exchanges in the world,” and was the final step to offering its crypto services to all citizens of the European Economic Area.

At least in the United States, Bankman-Fried used both his money and influence to have a say in how cryptocurrency regulation. He revealed he was willing to spend up to $1 billionto fund the Democratic Party in the 2024 election. That plan has now evaporated.

Whether his influence was as powerful or significant in the EU remains to be seen, but the broader lesson hinges on what the collapse means for consumers and the future of crypto regulation in Europe, which is currently being shaped.

German MEP Stefan Berger, a leader negotiator on the Markets in Crypto-Assets framework many European officials hope will become a global standard on cryptocurrency regulation, tweeted that this scenario would effectively have been addressed by MiCA. “MiCA is the bulwark against Lehman Brothers moments such as the FTX case,” he told the crypto news site The Block.

And while that claim is a big one, it should be noted that MiCA rules, as they stand, have the strongest requirements for tokens such as stablecoins and their reserves — cryptocurrencies pegged to the Euro or US dollar — rather than exchanges. It also contains more provisions on financial surveillance and stopping “money laundering” (which appears 16 times in the document) than segregation of customer funds.

The latest available text on MiCA requires that “Crypto Asset Service Providers” (exchanges) have “sufficient capacity to ensure orderly trading” and “shall segregate holdings on behalf of their clients from their own holdings”

That remains the most pointed part of the publicly available text when it comes to exchange reserves and segregation of funds, but the events of the last week could continue to change the text before it is formally introduced next year.

For those of us with a significant interest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies — protocols designed to be decentralized — it was always understood that the future of cryptographic digital assets relies on people learning about self-custody, holding their own cryptocurrencies in a wallet protected with private keys. That is what sets cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin apart from the traditional banking system. That, above any European legislation or good-natured incentive, is what will protect consumers.

With so much crypto value tied up on exchanges and lending platforms rather than people’s own wallets, there are hundreds of billions of euros at risk for consumers. As we now see with FTX’s collapse, it only takes one liquidity event to send shockwaves.

It would benefit us all if rules help bring regulatory clarity, keep shady actors at bay and provide financial transparency. If we want to craft the future of decentralized digital money, it will mean smarter rules that punish bad actors while promoting financial sovereignty. That’s what consumers deserve.

Originally published here

Improving America’s Teeth

When was the last time you went to the dentist? If you’re now opening your calendar to check your last appointment, chances are it has been too long. There is no general rule on the regularity that will apply to all patients, not least because we all have different lifestyles. That said, if you are someone who consumes tobacco, drinks alcohol regularly, or if you are in doubt about whether your daily oral hygiene is up to standards, a good rule of thumb is to make a dentist appointment every six months.

For many Americans, the rudimentary costs of seeing a dentist for a routine checkup are manageable. Despite the fact that most dental plans cover 100% of the costs for preventive visits, many Americans appear to lack awareness of their benefits. Even though 80% Americans have access to dental benefits, nearly 35% of adults didn’t visit a dentist in 2019, according to the National Association of Dental Plans. For both the 20% of Americans who are either not employed or whose employer’s chosen insurance plan doesn’t cover dental care, and the existing insured patients, it would be important to increase competition through subscription models. My colleague Yaël Ossowski has explained the advantages of such subscriptions in the Boston Herald.

Improving America’s oral hygiene doesn’t just happen through the policy level of increasing competition or, as some argue, through getting the government more involved in the field of healthcare. First and foremost, oral hygiene happens at home through brushing and flossing. Unfortunately, that is where some Americans’ habits are falling short.

A 2021 study commissioned by the American Association of Endodontists showed that 21% of respondents failed to brush their teeth in the morning, 23% never floss, and 28% didn’t schedule a dental appointment the entire year. A 2016 analysis of 5,000 men and women had found that 32 percent of Americans never floss. This is all paired with headlines of less representative surveys showing that Americans mostly only brush once a day, if at all.

A factor that is underestimated by many is the effectiveness of chewing sugar-free gum. The American Dental Association says that while chewing sugar-free gum is no substitute for brushing your teeth, those gums sweetened by non-cavity-causing sweeteners such as aspartame, xylitol, sorbitol or mannitol can help prevent tooth decay. The saliva produced through chewing washes away food debris and neutralizes acids, and also carries with it more calcium and phosphate to help strengthen tooth enamel.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), known for its cautious assessments of product claims, seconded the assessment that sugar-free gum improved tooth mineralization and thus has overall oral health benefits. It remains important to reiterate that sugar-free gum is in no way a substitute for regular oral hygiene; however, it is an adjunct to oral hygiene that makes it more than just a lifestyle but in fact, a wellness product.

Oral hygiene is an important factor in our daily lives. Tooth decay and lasting problems with teeth plague many Americans, burdening them with high dental costs. Both on a policy level and on an individual level, a lot remains to be done to improve the oral health of all citizens.

Originally published here

Apa yang Bisa Kita Pelajari dari Kebijakan Vape di Filipina?

Vape atau rokok elektrik saat ini merupakan salah satu produk konsumen yang digunakan oleh jutaan orang di seluruh dunia, termasuk juga di Indonesia. Saat ini, dengan sangat mudah kita bisa menemukan berbagai orang yang menggunakan rokok elektrik di berbagai tempat, terlebih lagi bila kita tinggal di wilayah urban dan kota-kota besar.

DI negara kita sendiri, konsumsi vape atau rokok kelektrik oleh para konsumen merupakan fenomena yang kian meningkat dari tahun ke tahun. Pada tahun 2018 misalnya, diperkirakan ada sekitar 2,1 juta penduduk Indonesia yang menjadi pengguna vape. Angka tersebut meningkat di tahun 2020 menjadi 2,2 juta orang yang menjadi konsumen rokok elektrik (vapemagz.co.id, 24/1/2021).

Semakin meningkatnya pengguna vape di Indonesia tentunya memberikan dampak yang signifikan terhadap industri di sektor tersebut. Industri rokok eleektrik, atau produk-produk tembakau alternatif secara keseluruhan, yang meningkat, tentu akan memberikan lapangan kerja yang besar bagi banyak tenaga kerja di Indonesia. Saat ini, industri rokok elektrik di Indonesia setidaknya sudah berhasil menyerap 100.000 tenaga kerja di Indonesia (liputan6.com, 13/6/2022).

Akan tetapi, tidak semua pihak mengapresiasi adanya fenomena tersebut. Tidak sedikit yang berpandangan bahwa fenomena semakin meningkatnya industri vape di Indonesia merupakan hal yang sangat negatif, dan berbahaya bagi kesehatan publik. Hal ini dikarenakan, mereka menyandingkan rokok elektrik dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar, dan memiliki dampak yang sama atau bahkan lebih berbahaya dari rokok konvensional yang dibakar.

Hal ini tentu merupakan pandangan yang kurang tepat. Berbagai lembaga kesehatan dunia telah mengeluarkan laporan yang menyatakan bahwa vape atau rokok elektrik merupakan produk yang jauh lebih tidak berbahaya bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar. Lembaga kesehatan asal Britania Raya, Public Health England (PHE) misalnya, beberapa waktu lalu mengeluarkan laporan yang menyatakan bahwa rokok elektrik 95% lebih tidak berbahaya bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar (theguardian.com, 28/12/2018).

Sangat penting ditekankan bahwa, menyatakan bahwa vape atau rokok elektrik 95% lebih aman bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional bukan berarti bahwa vape merupakan produk yang 100% aman tanpa resiko. Hal ini berarti, tetap ada resiko kesehatan bagi konsumsi vape atau rokok elektrik, namun resiko tersebut jauh lebih kecil bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar.

Oleh karena itu, beberapa negara di dunia telah secara resmi mengeluarkan kebijakan yang ditujukan untuk memberi insentif bagi para perokok untuk berpindah ke rokok elektrik, atau yang dikenal dengan kebijakan harm reduction. Inggris misalnya, melalui lembaga kesehatan nasional National Health Service (NHS), mendorong warga Inggris yang perokok aktif untuk berpindah ke produk rokok elektrik yang jauh lebih tidak berbahaya (nhs.uk, 29/3/2019).

Inggris tentunya bukan satu-satunya negara yang mengambil langkah tersebut. Tidak perlu jauh-jauh ke negeri tempat kelahiran Ratu Elizabeth II tersebut, negara kita sesama anggota ASEAN, Filipina, baru-baru ini juga mengeluarkan peraturan yang kurang lebih serupa. Pada bulan Januari tahun ini, lembaga legislasi FIlipina berhasil meloloskan undang-undang yang dikenal dengan nama The Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Act.

Salah satu aspek yang paling penting dari undang-undang tersebut adalah regulasi ini memberi jalan untuk menyusun strategi kebijakan harm reduction untuk menawarkan rokok elektrik sebagai pengganti rokok konvensional kepada para perokok. Filipina sendiri saat ini memiliki sekitar 16 juta perokok aktif yang tinggal di negara tersebut (vaping360.com, 27/7/2022).

Selain itu, undang-undang ini juga melakukan beberapa perubahan yang menerapkan regulasi yang tidak jauh berbeda antara rokok konvensional yang dibakar dan rokok elektrik. Misalnya, penyetaraan batas usia konsumsi rokok konvensional dengan rokok elektrik. Dengan demikian, akan semakin banyak orang yang memiliki opsi legal untuk mengkonsumsi produk yang jauh lebih tidak berbahaya. Akan ada pula sanksi yang diberlakukan kepada penjual yang menjual produk-produk hasil olahan tembakau kepada anak-anak di bawah usia.

Peraturan yang diberlakukan di Filipina ini merupakan hal yang cukup berbeda dengan beberapa negara ASEAN lainnya, seperti Thailand dan Singapura misalnya. Di Thailand dan Singapura, vape atau roko elektrik merupakan produk ilegal, di mana mereka yang melanggar dapat dikenakan sanksi pidana baik berupa denda maupun penjara, meskipun rokok elektrik merupakan salah satu produk yang telah digunakan oleh jutaan perokok untuk membantu mereka berhenti merokok.

Sebagai penutup, langkah kebijakan yang dilakukan oleh Filipina yang meloloskan regulasi agar para perokok bisa berpindah ke rokok elektrik yang jauh lebih tidak berbahaya merupakan hal yang bisa dipelajari oleh para pembuat kebijakan di Indonesia. Bila semakin banyak perokok yang bisa berpindah ke produk yang jauh lebih tidak berbahaya, maka dengan demikian diharapkan berbagai penyakit kronis yang melanda masyarakat juga dapat ditekan, dan akan membawa dampak yang positif terhadap kesehatan publik.

Originally published here

Memperkasa hak pengguna syarikat penerbangan

Setiap hari lebih daripada 100,000 penerbangan berlaku di seluruh dunia.

Dalam kesibukan itu, sudah tentu akan ada risiko gangguan seperti penerbangan ditunda atau dibatalkan, kehilangan atau kerosakan bagasi, dinafikan menaiki pesawat kerana lebihan tempahan, kehilangan tempahan atau masalah yang lain.

Semakin kerap penerbangan, semakin tinggi kebarangkalian masalah seperti itu timbul.

Oleh sebab itu, Kod Perlindungan Pengguna Penerbangan Malaysia (MACPC) diwujudkan pada 2016. Ia bertujuan untuk melindungi hak dan kepentingan pengguna dalam usaha untuk mewujudkan industri penerbangan yang berorientasikan pengguna.

Setelah enam tahun dilaksanakan Suruhanjaya Penerbangan Malaysia (Mavcom) menerima lebih daripada 22,000 aduan, dengan separuh pertama 2022 sahaja sebanyak 1,251 aduan direkodkan.

Sebanyak 99.1 peratus daripadanya melibatkan syarikat penerbangan.

Daripada jumlah itu 577 (46.1 peratus) aduan adalah mengenai pembatalan penerbangan, penjadualan semula dan tempahan dalam talian secara kolektif.

Read the full text here

War on Plastics Misguided

Do you feel bad when you see pictures of plastic waste in the world’s oceans? Most certainly, and any decent human being would. In fact, governments fail to do enough to stop the dumping of plastic waste into the environment and are still inefficient at holding companies to account for these ecological disasters.

That said, the solution of many environmental campaigners – banning all plastic items and packaging – is misguided.

A new report by Greenpeace outlines that a large section of plastic waste in the United States is not recycled and pairs this with its advocacy for banning single-use plastic items. In fact, campaigners have argued for the General Services Administration (GSA) to cease all acquisition of single-use plastic items.

This ignores the fact that we need plastic for many things: ranging from medical equipment to cleaning gear, from packaging to extend shelf-life to containers to keep our food intact for delivery. Neither the federal government nor individual consumers can afford to phase out plastic.

That said, we shouldn’t preserve plastic for plastics’ sake (even if it is associated with countless jobs). In fact, all too often, plastics outperform their substitute products in efficiency and environmental impact — as anyone who has tried to use a single-use paper bag in the rain can attest to.

As I’ve outlined for Newsmax before, single-use plastic shopping bags outperform all its alternatives when it comes to the environment, not least because cotton or paper bags are not reused as often as they should be, but also because consumers reuse plastic bags as an alternative to bin liners.

If we were to abandon plastic packaging, we would reduce the shelf-life of groceries and eliminate ready-made meals that consumers want. This would increase food waste. Since food production has a carbon footprint far higher than plastic packaging, this move would be counterproductive.

Let’s also not forget that about 11% of ocean plastic pollution results from microplastics, and 75%-86% of plastic in the Pacific Ocean garbage patch comes directly from offshore fishing, not consumer products. Not all waste is littered, and the same applies to plastic waste; it is thus misleading for activists to unfairly amalgamate both aspects of plastic waste disposal.

Of Americans living in cities with a population of over 125,000, 90% already have access to recycling facilities for single-use plastic items. What the United States needs is even more access to these facilities and the boosting of advanced recycling, which not just washes and compounds polymers, but dissolves plastics into their original compounds.

This aspect of the circular economy will make plastics a more sustainable consumer good. On top of the existing recycling rate, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the specific goal of increasing the recycling rate to 50% by 2030.

Any rule or regulation that restricts the choices of consumers is bad. However, it somehow is even worse when the suggested rule does not even achieve the results it intended. Banning plastics would not just deprive us of products we need but also increase our carbon footprint in many sectors.

Originally published here

Economía colaborativa y tres ciudades de la región

El Consumer Choice Center ha presentado su tercer índice anual de economía colaborativa, en el que clasifica algunas de las ciudades más dinámicas del mundo en función de su apertura a la economía colaborativa.

Este índice único en el mundo es la herramienta para que los consumidores tomen decisiones informadas sobre su próximo destino urbano.

El índice clasifica 60 ciudades de todo el mundo, 6 de ellas de América Latina. Las dos ciudades con mejor puntuación en el Índice de Economía Colaborativa de América Latina de 2021 (otro índice del Consumer Choice Center) fueron Bogotá y Santiago de Chile. Sin embargo, en la escena internacional, las dos ciudades tienen problemas para competir con destinos mundiales más abiertos (y por tanto más atractivos), por lo que han terminado en la mitad inferior del índice.

Por otra parte, tres ciudades latinoamericanas -São Paulo, Buenos Aires y Ciudad de México- figuran en el TOP 10 mundial de las ciudades más favorables a la economía colaborativa. Estas ciudades demuestran una extraordinaria apertura a todos los servicios de economía colaborativa considerados en el estudio. En particular, todas ellas ofrecen aplicaciones de entrega ultrarrápida, una categoría totalmente nueva añadida al índice de este año.

“Para sacar el máximo partido al índice, puedes utilizarlo como un menú de opciones que te ayude a elegir la ciudad que mejor se adapte a tu estilo de vida. Si te gusta el transporte compacto y respetuoso con el medio ambiente, en nuestro índice puedes ver que los patinetes eléctricos ya no se pueden alquilar en la capital de Colombia, pero que sí puedes disfrutar de ellos en las concurridas calles de Ciudad de México”, señala Anna Arunashvili, Knowledge Management Associate del Consumer Choice Center.

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Democrats’ ‘newest megadonor’ plummets on Election Day, forced to sell crypto company to biggest rival

Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO of crypto exchange FTX and considered the Democrats’ “newest megadonor” ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, reportedly saw around $6 billion of withdrawals within 72 hours before Tuesday morning, forcing him to sell the company to its biggest rival on Election Day. 

Reuters reported that Changpeng Zhao, the leader of competitor Binance, said the company signed a nonbinding agreement on Tuesday to buy FTX’s non-U.S. unit to help cover a “liquidity crunch” at the rival exchange. The stunning bailout came about as American voters simultaneously went to the polls. 

“This is a truly crazy event in startup world. Dot-com bust level event,” tech reporter Eric Newcomer tweeted of the sale. 

Bankman-Fried, 30, was the second-biggest individual Democratic donor this election cycle behind top-ranking liberal billionaire contributor George Soros. He ranked sixth on the overall list of individual donors for the 2022 midterms regarding federal contributions. 

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