Saturday, December 16, 2017

Freshly-Brewed Kalinga Coffee

Sipping freshly-brewed Kalinga coffee on a lazy and lonely Saturday afternoon. In these cold times, let's not forget to support local coffee shops who source their coffee beans and coffee grains from local growers.

Their suppliers may be from Kalinga, Sagada, Atok, or anywhere from the Cordilleras. They play a major role in keeping the coffee industry in the Cordillera region alive.

I've had the privilege of talking to a coffee farmer who said that he had to convert more than half of his land to veggie plots because demand for his home-grown coffee is dwindling, not to mention unstable.

Let's support our coffee farmers. Let's give them a reason to keep nurturing those coffee trees and seedlings. #cordillera #kalingacoffee

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Duterte to PCOO: “Never exaggerate…do not be arrogant.”

“To my fellow workers in government, especially those who form part of the Communications Office, I enjoin you to remain committed to your duty of upholding the truth at all times. Never exaggerate, never misinterpret and never agitate as you communicate our platform of governance. In other words, do not be arrogant.” - Duterte

I completely agree with the President here. But then again, these are just words. They are meaningless if he doesn’t back them up with concrete leg work. It’s difficult to listen to the President utter these words given the controversy that is Mocha Uson. If you are to browse through Uson’s posts on her Facebook page, it’s not that hard to find exaggerations and misinterpretations there. Not only that, a lot of the posts also seem to have been designed to agitate Duterte’s critics.

Uson can be very arrogant as well. Please recall the recent Senate hearing on fake news wherein she clamoured that media outlets should take her side in the stories that they publish about her. That’s reasonable enough. But when asked if she extended the same courtesy to the Duterte critics she often lambasted in her page, she implied that she didn’t have to because she’s a blogger, not a journalist. That is arrogance.

My point here is that Duterte is right in calling for the PCOO to “never exaggerate, never misinterpret, and never agitate” in the performance of their duties. But such a call is useless if a top PCOO official such as Mocha Uson is exempted to adhere to these principles.

“I call on our friends from the media to also remain committed to the truth at all times. Never, never lie because we are not up to it anyway.” - Duterte

There’s so much irony in this statement. Duterte has been caught numerous times lying to the media and to the Filipino people. He’s a liar. This is an established fact. He even used the state media to spread a lie (fake Trillanes bank accounts). Of course, him being a liar doesn’t take away the importance of his call that media practitioners should never lie. But in making the call, he proved himself a hypocrite. He’s a liar telling other people not to lie.

In fact, in this speech, just minutes after he called on the media not to lie, it didn’t take long for him to utter a lie. He mentioned something about Rappler being funded by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). This wasn’t the first time that he made this claim. Rappler has repeatedly denied this allegation.

Here’s my message to those in the media: Listen to the President’s advice. Never lie in the performance of your duties as journalists. But you should also never forget the fact that the advice is coming from a liar. So don’t be afraid to call him a hypocrite. Let’s call a spade a spade.

Ten Tips to Help Protect Seniors from Fraud

[Note: This is a quick excerpt from the very informative book on scams and frauds by Jeffrey Robinson titled There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute. It’s by far the best book I’ve read about the online scam industry. What’s great about the book is that Robinson provides a ton of practical tips and advice that can help readers protect themselves from scams and frauds. Anyone who has done even a bit of reading about online scams is aware of the fact that a lot of the targets of the scams are seniors. They are more gullible. They have money to burn. And they are not that technically-savvy. Robinson’s tips on how to protect seniors from fraud should be a must-read for everyone.]

1. If you didn’t enter the contest, you didn’t win it. No matter what anybody says about how the prize giver got your name, there is no such thing as a company you never dealt with, or person you never met, being so generous that all they want to do is give you something for nothing.
2. Your bank account is yours. If you let someone – especially a stranger – get close to it, they will steal from you. There is no reason for anyone to deposit money into your account, unless it’s going to be your money. Anyone who wants to put money into your account, and then ask you to take it out on their behalf, is a crook.
3. Friends who call you on the phone are friends. Strangers who call you on the phone are strangers. You wouldn’t give a perfect stranger who knocked on the door your credit card information; the stranger on the phone – or the stranger emailing on the Internet – is no different.
4. If a stranger on the phone asks to speak to the man of the house and there isn’t one, the woman of the house should say, whatever it is, “We’re not interested,” and hang up. A woman should never admit she lives alone.
5. Never sign anything that you haven’t read thoroughly and, where need be, shown to a lawyer or a close relative. No legitimate deal has to be signed for right away, regardless of how friendly the salesman seems to be.
6. If you’re contracting with someone to do some work, check first with the local Better Business Bureau to make certain that the business is trustworthy. If they are, they will offer you a contract, which you should then have a lawyer read. If they are not, they’ll try to talk their way around the contract and then ask for a fee up front. Legitimate companies don’t do that.
7. There is no such thing as a legitimate investment that pays ten, twenty, or thirty times the current bank interest rate. The person offering you a guaranteed 2%, 3%, 4%, or 5% a month is a thief.
8. Never borrow money for any reason without letting a lawyer look at the terms of the deal.
9. Shred everything that has your name, address, Social Security number, or any financial information on it. Before throwing anything away – such as bills, notices, statements, and personal mail – shred it. Shredders are cheap, and identity theft, which can happen if a thief can find out who you are going through your garbage, can be financially lethal.
10. Don’t discuss your life with strangers on the phone, even if they know your name. Just hang up. Use Caller ID to see who’s calling. Or screen calls with an answering machine. If you get a lot of unsolicited calls, sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry. It’s free. Being on the registry won’t solve everything but it will help.

12 Tips on How to Spot a Scam Email

[Note: This is an excerpt from the book There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute by Jeffrey Robinson. I really enjoyed the book, especially the portions where the author takes the time to provide practical advice on how to avoid scammers and frauds online. His twelve tips on how to spot a scam email are very informative. Everyone who uses the internet should be aware of these tips. This is why I’m republishing them here. One last thing, do yourself a favour by purchasing the book. It’s a great book.]

Spotting the difference between the real thing and a phony is easy when you know what to look for. If you answer yes to even one of the following twelve questions, the email is a con. Do not respond. Delete it.

1. Has the email been addressed to “undisclosed recipients”?
2. Is it from a high official in a foreign government, agency, or business, when you don’t happen to know any high officials in foreign governments, agencies, or businesses?
3. Does the salutation read something like Dear Beloved, Dear Valued Friend, Valued Customer, or anything even remotely like it?
4. Is it from a company you have never been done business with, such as a bank where you don’t have an account?
5. Is it from a company you have done business with, such as a bank, but is asking you to verify your account or provide personal information?
6. Are there spelling and grammar mistakes? Is the message sometimes difficult to grasp? Is it supposed to be official and yet doesn’t sound official?
7. Is this about a business deal where the sender is looking for a partner or someone to help him in a highly lucrative venture? Are there assurances that it is risk free and absolutely on the level? Are the sums involved so much that you think this can’t be true?
8. Does he promise to give you all the details later but refuses to go into any details until you respond with personal details.
9. Is there any mention of Nigeria or another country in West Africa?
10. Does the sender refer to where you live as “your country”?
11. Does the tale he’s spinning seem odd and convoluted?
12. Is anyone asking you to send money on the promise that if you do, you will receive back a much larger sum?

Great Tips from ‘There’s A Sucker Born Every Minute’ By Jeffrey Robinson

I’ve always been fascinated by the huge underground industry of scam artists in the internet. These criminals bilk millions of dollars away from their unsuspecting victims every year. It’s interesting to see the cat-and-mouse chase between the artists and the authorities. By the looks of it, the scam artists are always two steps ahead of their pursuers.

With that said, the authorities really can’t do anything significant to protect you from there online criminals. Only you can truly protect yourself. Needless to say, you need to be aware of the tactics that these criminals use.

I just finished reading Jeffrey Robinson’s amazing book called There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute. It’s a book packed with information about the online scam industry. It teaches you how to spot frauds and how to stop them.

My favourite part of the book is the last chapter where Robinson provides thirty-nine very practical tips on how to protect yourself from fraud. Anyone who spends time on the internet should read these tips. My favourite tips from the list are listed below. I highly recommend that you purchase the book and read it in its entirety.

1) Keep in mind that fraud is a two-way street crime, which means that before a con man can do any harm, you have to open the door. To get you to let him in, a fraudster will employ every trick he can think of and all the chicanery he can muster. Therefore, never allow yourself to be rushed into a decision. Always take the time to step away, to get some perspective, and to think about what’s happening. Just a few extra minutes can be enough to protect you from a great deal of harm.

2) Keep an eye for anomalies. Look for variations from predictable behaviour. Look for things that seem out of place. Listen for things that don’t sound right. If you see it or hear it, ask yourself, why?

3) Do not pay money to receive money. Wiring a stranger a fee on the premise of receiving a big prize, to obtain a service, to reduce or consolidate debt, or to remedy a bad credit rating is utter foolishness. The most common scams right now involve asking consumers to wire money in order to get a larger amount in return. It won’t work.

4) If you are going to provide someone with your card number, either by phone or online, be absolutely certain that they are reliable. Consider the fact that anyone obtaining your credit card number, the card expiration date, and three-digit ID that appears on the back can then use that card to buy something online or over the phone. Card not present fraud is rampant. So be very careful to whom you hand that key to your credit card.

5) Never open an attachment or download anything that comes in an email from someone you don’t know, or don’t totally trust. Violating this rule is the surest way to become a victim of identity theft.

6) Never forget that what you do online stays online.

And here’s the table of contents for the book. It should give you a pretty good idea as to what to expect from its pages.
1. A Two-Way Street Crime
2. Footprints in the Sand: Knowing What to Look For
3. Greed and Benevolence
4. Gullibility and Fear
5. Identity Theft
6. Smaller Than a 2-Cent Phone Call: Cyberfraud
7. Genies in Bottles: Knowing Who to Trust
8. Maybe This Time: Advance Fee Fraud
9. The Nigerian Yahoo-Yahoo Boys
10. Snake Oil
11. Defrauding Seniors
12. Business Fraud
13. The Scams: What They Are and How to Stop Them
14. The 39 Steps: What You Need to Do to Protect Yourself from Fraud

The description from the book jacket:
In this jaw-dropping expose of fraud in America today – who’s doing it, how it’s done, and how you can protect yourself – the world of fraud is laid bare: from personal finance and investment schemes to Internet scams and identity theft, to pyramid cons and the infamous Nigerian advance fee frauds.

Jeffrey Robinson gets inside the heads of the most notorious scam artists to uncover the psychological weapons they use to entice victims. With uncanny clarity and insight, he shows how to spot a scam and how to limit your exposure to fraudsters.

There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute levels the playing field, arming consumers with the knowledge they need to combat even the most insidious con men.

About the author:
Jeffrey Robinson, journalist and author of more than twenty-five books, is an internationally recognized expert on organized crime, fraud, and money laundering. Named the “the world’s most important financial crime journalist” by the British Bankers’ Association, he was based in London, England, for more than twenty-five years and now lives in New York.