Asia worst-hit as air pollution tops listing of threats to health – dpa international

Anyone who has lived or travelled in Asia will know that wearing face masks in public was a done thing before the Covid pandemic. In cities such as Jakarta, belching fumes from heavy traffic have long meant the wearing of coverings by motorcyclists weaving through cars and buses at rush hour. The continuing impact of air pollution in Asia makes it a bigger global health challenge than alcohol, cigarettes, dirty drinking water or traffic accidents, according to the University of Chicago. Data from the university’s Air Quality of Life Index showed air pollution to be “the world’s greatest external risk to human health,” with Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Mongolia were listed as the five worst-affected countries, where life expectancies have been reduced by up to 6 years.

Residents of Austria’s postcard village complain about being swamped by tourists – dpa international

The Austrian hamlet of Hallstatt has long been a magnet for tourists. Tree-lined mountains tower over the village’s timber-framed houses, all reflected in a shimmering Alpine lake. The vista has become so recognisable – and so popular with visitors – that a replica village was built in China about a decade ago. But many of Hallstatt’s 700 or so residents are getting tired of dealing with up to 10,000 visitors a day, many of them day-trippers bussed in from Vienna or Salzburg for a quick selfie. Protesting “overtourism,” on August 27 around 100 locals blocked the road and tunnel leading into the town.

People who use AI at work can end up as lonely insomniacs – dpa international

People who use artificial intelligence (AI) at work are more likely to be lonely and have trouble sleeping than others, according to a new survey of hundreds of workers in Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan and the US. “The rapid advancement in AI systems is sparking a new industrial revolution that is reshaping the workplace with many benefits but also some uncharted dangers, including potentially damaging mental and physical impacts for employees,” said Pok Man Tang, assistant professor of management at the University of Georgia. Tang and colleagues carried out an experiment with 166 engineers at a Taiwanese biomedical company, who were surveyed over three weeks about “feelings of loneliness, attachment anxiety and sense of belonging.”

Singapore Airlines swoops in with free wi-fi for passengers – dpa international

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has joined the handful of carriers offering free onboard wi-fi to all passengers, and from July 1 onwards, customers will be able to browse and surf without the usual charges or data limits. In-air internet has long been an awkward and messy extra expense, usually more trouble than it was worth, if even available, typically remaining exclusive to those who shell out for a first-class or business traveller seat. That has never sat easy with most passengers, something the wealthy city-state’s flag carrier has picked up on. Although time online has dropped compared to Covid lockdowns, when people were often left with little else to do, the world’s five billion regular internet users were still spending over six hours a day surfing and scrolling in 2022, according to We Are Social, a UK business that tracks web and social media use.

Research suggests diabetics face heightened risk from coronavirus – dpa international


DUBLIN — Having diabetes doubles the risk of death after a novel coronavirus infection, according to research published on Thursday. According to a team of doctors and scientists from countries including Australia, China, South Africa and the United States, “the vulnerability of people with diabetes during a public health emergency became evident by their at least 2 times increased risk of severe disease or death” after contracting the virus.

UN tourism agency knocks ‘timid’ leaders, says safe travel possible – dpa international

Before the pandemic and restrictions, scenes such as this in Melaka, a town in southern Malaysia that is a popular tourist destination, were common (Simon Roughneen)

LIMERICK — The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a United Nations agency, on Tuesday criticized governments for being “overly focused” on health and described as “not enough” the “re-opening of borders to tourism” seen to date. The agency wants governments “to do everything they can to get people travelling again,” citing the “the sudden and rapid fall in tourist arrivals” caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Governments have a “responsibility to protect businesses and livelihoods,” the Madrid-based agency said, pointing to estimates published in July that showed the collapse in travel between January and May as having cost up to 320 billion dollars – three times the losses to tourism incurred during the 2007-09 financial crisis and equivalent to Colombia’s gross domestic product.

For many Malaysia-based Filipinos, it’s President Duterte all the way – South China Morning Post

KUALA LUMPUR — Laguna Restaurant, a two minute walk downhill from St. John’s Cathedral – the centre of Catholic worship in Kuala Lumpur – is a home away from home for Philippine expatriates in Malaysia hankering for a taste of the motherland. Owner Ronnie Tan launched Laguna six and half years ago after spotting a gap in the market in a country where hundreds of thousands of Filipinos live. They work in a diverse range of industries – from construction to casinos, and IT to domestic work – but at the weekend many can be found in the Laguna. “On weekends it is full. If you say Sunday, I believe 95 per cent are Filipino customers,” Tan said.

Some relief for Thailand’s freedom of speech advocates – South China Morning Post Simon Roughneen in Bangkok – Freedom of speech has long been under scrutiny in Thailand, thanks to the country’s...