10 Things Banned in Other Countries, but Legal in the U.S.

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1. Baby walkers

Babies in Canada have to learn to walk the old-fashioned way. The country banned once-popular baby walkers in 2004, after they were found to endanger babies and delay motor and mental development. Possession or selling of a baby walker can result in fines of up to $100,000 or six months in jail.

2. Ketchup in school cafeterias

A school cafeteria without ketchup? It's un-American! In 2011, France banned the tomato condiment from school cafeterias in order to preserve French cuisine. The one ironic exception: Students can still eat ketchup on French fries.

3. Incandescent light bulbs

Phasing out incandescent light bulbs isn't as easy as flipping a switch. But other countries are ahead of the U.S. on this one. Cuba was the first to the finish line when it brought in CFLs and banned the sale and import of the old-school bulbs in 2005. Argentina followed suit in 2010, and EU member countries reached the final stage of a three-year phase-out in 2012.

4. Mullets

In America, it's your right to have whatever terrible hairstyle you want. Not so in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In 2010, the Ministry of Culture banned several "decadent" Western men's hairstyles, including the mullet, spikes, and ponytails. Hairdon'ts are punishable by fine.

5. Plastic bags

Bangladesh started a trend in 2002 when it became the first country to ban plastic bags. Bag bans have caught on all over the world, from France to Tanzania to Mexico City. (Here's a map.) San Francisco was the first U.S. city to ban plastic bags in 2007, and Los Angeles followed suit in in 2013. This July, the entire state of California will begin phasing out the shopping bags, thanks to a bill signed into law in September by Governor Jerry Brown.

6. Spanking

School corporal punishment is still allowed in 19 U.S. states. But in some countries, parents can't even spank their kids. Sweden was the first to ban the belt and paddle in 1979. Now moms and dads in 46 countries rely solely on the time-out.

7. BHA and BHT preservatives

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) aren't just hard to pronounce. They're carcinogenic ... and found in almost all packaged foods in the U.S. Human consumption of BHA and BHT is banned in more than 160 countries.

8. Chewing gum

While the actual act of chewing gum was never illegal, Singapore burst gum lovers' bubbles when it outlawed the importation and sale of Bazooka Joe and the like in 1992. The ban stuck, but was slightly changed in 2004. Singaporans interested in the oral health benefits of sugar-free gum can now get a prescription — but still face stiff penalties if they're caught littering with it. 

9. Weird baby names

What's in a baby name? Legislation in Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, and many other countries. If Danish parents don't choose one of the 7000 government-approved names for their bundle of joy, they're required to get church approval. New Zealand and Sweden add to their lists of banned baby names each year. The names "V8" and "Superman," respectively, weren't allowed, but "Violence" and "Google" were.

10. Tobacco

A 2006 Business Week survey named Bhutan not only the happiest country in Asia, but also the eighth happiest country in the world. Four years later, the Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan aimed to increase Gross National Happiness by banning the cultivation, harvesting, production, and sale of harmful tobacco products. But here's a happy loophole for smokers: Tobacco consumption is still legal.

The World's 10 Most Expensive Cities

An apartment complex in Hong Kong
An apartment complex in Hong Kong
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If you think San Francisco is pricey, you should see some of the other metropolises that appear in a new ranking of the 10 most expensive cities in the world. As The Real Deal reports, Singapore, Paris, and Hong Kong have been jointly named as the three cities with the highest cost of living in a new analysis by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

It was the first time in the history of the Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living report that three cities have tied for first place. Billing itself as a global business intelligence group, the EIU takes the prices of more than 400 items into consideration for its annual list, including food, clothing, household supplies, private school fees, and recreation.

Singapore's appearance on the list is no surprise, considering that it has been crowned the world’s most expensive city for the past five years in a row, and Paris has consistently made the top 10 since 2003. Hong Kong, meanwhile, rose three places in the newest ranking, while Osaka, Japan rose six places.

New York City and Los Angeles also made the top 10 list this year, tying with other cities for fourth and fifth place, respectively. This is partly due to exchange rates.

“A stronger U.S. dollar last year has meant that cities in the U.S. generally became more expensive globally, especially relative to last year’s ranking,” the report notes. “New York has moved up six places in the ranking this year, while Los Angeles has moved up four spots.”

Check out the 10 most expensive cities below, and visit the EIU’s website to download a full copy of the report.

  1. Singapore; Hong Kong; and Paris, france (tied)

  1. Zurich, Switzerland

  1. Geneva, Switzerland; and Osaka, Japan (tied)

  1. Seoul, South Korea; Copenhagen, Denmark; and New York City (tied)

  1. Tel Aviv, Israel and Los Angeles (tied)

5 Fast Facts About the Spring Equinox

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iStock.com/AHPhotoswpg

The northern hemisphere has officially survived a long winter of Arctic temperatures, bomb cyclones, and ice tsunamis. Spring starts today, March 20, which means warmer weather and longer days are around the corner. To celebrate the spring equinox, hear are some facts about the event.

1. The spring equinox arrives at 5:58 p.m.

The first day of spring is today, but the spring equinox will only be here for a brief time. At 5:58 p.m. Eastern Time, the Sun will be perfectly in line with the equator, which results in both the northern and southern hemispheres receiving equal amounts of sunlight throughout the day. After the vernal equinox has passed, days will start to become shorter for the Southern Hemisphere and longer up north.

2. The Equinox isn't the only time you can balance an egg.

You may have heard the myth that you can balance on egg on its end during the vernal equinox, and you may have even tried the experiment in school. The idea is that the extra gravitational pull from the Sun when it's over the equator helps the egg stand up straight. While it is possible to balance an egg, the trick has nothing to do with the equinox: You can make an egg stand on its end by setting it on a rough surface any day of the year.

3. Not every place gets equal night and day.

The equal night and day split between the northern and southern hemispheres isn't distributed evenly across all parts of the world. Though every region gets approximately 12 hours of sunlight the day of the vernal equinox, some places get a little more (the day is 12 hours and 15 minute in Fairbanks, Alaska), and some get less (it's 12 hours and 6 minutes in Miami).

4. The name means Equal Night.

The word equinox literally translates to equal ("equi") and night ("nox") in Latin. The term vernal means "new and fresh," and comes from the Latin word vernus for "of spring."

5. The 2019 spring equinox coincides with a supermoon.

On March 20, the day the Sun lines up with equator, the Moon will reach the closest point to Earth in its orbit. The Moon will also be full, making it the third supermoon of 2019. A full moon last coincided with the first day of spring on March 20, 1981, and it the two events won't occur within 24 hours of each other again until 2030.

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