Seattle has always had a liberal spirit, and been progressive, and even on the cuttign edge is many areas: music, industry, and even green initiatives. Recently, the city announced funding for America’s first public food forest.
Essentially, the city will create a heavily wooded park full of edible roots, shrubs, fruits, and vegetation that can be consumed by anyone. Although it is a highly utopian ideal, the park has secured funds to start the sustainable project, as well as tentative plans for expansion should it be a success.
It is often said that it is impossible to know the future, how things will happen. There is no doubt that this frequently proves to be the case, with events transpiring in ways that no-one could have hoped to predict.
Of all the unknowable and chaotic mysteries of the universe, the arcane machinations of the financial system seem to be one of the least predictable. It seems at times as though, when it comes down to it, nobody really knows when the wheels are going to come off.
It is not just the wider economic seen that can shift and change at a moments notice, like a capricious storm waiting to dash investors onto the rocks. All the circumstances of life can be changed around without warning.
So the question becomes whether financial planning is in itself a futile and hubristic endeavour, doomed to fail? Certainly the world of financial planning is not without its limitations and drawbacks.
The first big problem with financial planning is that among those offering advice on the subject, charlatanism and self interest run rife. This is especially true of anyone offering ‘free’ advice. There is very little that comes without a cost, and that which purports to often ends up leading to the highest prices being paid.
What then of paid financial planning advice? This can be expensive, but at least the costs are honest and upfront. At its best financial planning offers a way of coming to grips with the uncertainties of the future.
I had no idea what was going on in East Africa was quite as bad as it is. It is too easy to get overwhelmed by the seemingly never ending reports of these things. No doubt something fundamental needs to change, but at this moment humanitarian assistance is badly needed. Oxfam’s East Africa appeal is currently providing an emergency response to help out an incredible 3 million people - the world can’t carry on this way.
The UN has declared a famine in six regions of Somalia - mostly in al-Shabab areas.
Tens of thousands of people have fled to seek food aid in the capital, Mogadishu, which is ruled by the weak interim government, or in camps in neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia.
Last month, al-Shabab began moving people out of displacement camps, run by local charities in Islamist areas, and returning them to their villages.
The group said it wanted people to prepare land ahead of the rainy season.
But no crops are expected to be ready for harvest until January and aid workers said a massive food distribution operation would be needed for months to come.
The UN estimates that in September half of the four million Somalis in need received food aid. With the Red Cross reaching another million or more, it could mean that three-quarters of the victims of the famine and drought will be helped.
I was simply amazed when I read these statistics. Firstly by how many of us are buying things online now (I am old enough to remember when Amazon was a major novelty), but also mainly by how many people had been the victim of fraud because of just trying to buy something online. It does seem that more secure payment methods with online banking at the heart of them will be the way to go.
The internet is more important in our lives and culture than ever before. Unless the government gets a prolonged case of the Egypts and turns it off, this trend is set to continue. Despite this it seems as though the web has a long way to go when it comes to making users feel secure where their money is involved.
A recent survey by polling organisation YouGov has revealed that the majority of British online shoppers have =either been the victim of online fraud, or a scared that they may be. Despite these worries however a whopping 95% of British adults with access to the internet had made a purchase on the internet, and 70% bought something in the last month.
A shocking one in five people who have bought something online have been the victim of fraud. This is clearly much too high, and indicates that a lot of eduction needs to take place to enable consumers to avoid becoming victims. Even once they have already fallen victim to fraud 88% are not confident that they can stop it from happening again, and are scared it will happen to them in the future.
This is something that online retailers need to take the lead on. When two thirds of consumers are concerned about security when paying for goods and services online you clearly have a massive problem. To give some illustration of the damage that lack of confidence is causing here is another brutal statistic: 54% of consumers have ABANDONED an online purchase in the last year over fears about the security of their details.
Obviously retailers need to be doing something about this, and so do consumers, but perhaps part of the solution rests with developing and adopting more secure online payment methods. Internet banking has had to be ahead of the curve on security since its inception. Consumers seem to recognise and trust this expertise with 72% of online shoppers who also bank online saying that the would feel more secure making purchase online if their bank were directly involved in the payment process.