Monday, July 16, 2018

France: The World Cup Winners

Twenty years ago, France won the World Cup for the first and only time in their history at home in Paris with a 3-0 win over Brazil. 

That team was captained by Didier Deschamps, who in 2018, aimed to emulate Brazilian Mario Zagallo and Germany's Franz Beckenbauer by winning the competition as both a player and manager. 

Yes, his wish was granted – France did it again on Sunday – winning the World Cup by thwarting Croatia 4-2. 

Félicitations France!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

No Instagram Please - We're Haute Couture

Image credit: Webpage

Image credit: Webpage

Fashion powerhouse Dior intentionally ignored the whims of Instagram generation with its deliberately low-key new haute couture collection, claiming that the world’s most expensive clothes don’t need to shout about it. 

Designer Maria Grazia Chiuri (right) said she wanted the French label’s latest prestige range to glorify classic craftsmanship rather than the flashy designs that rake up the ubiquitous “likes” on social media. 

“It’s hidden luxury”, the Italian explained as the collection of dreamy ballgowns and neat 1940s-inspired tailoring went on show before the global fashion elite in Paris, France. 

This was the Paris Haute Couture (July 01-05, 2018). 

Only 14 fashion houses boast the “haute couture” label, which is accorded under strict criteria by the French government to reflect the craft that goes into these hand-sewn, custom-made garments. 

“The audience for couture knows what couture means – it’s a piece that’s made specially for you, just for your body, that it needs time”, Chiuri clarified. Duh! 

In spite of it all, Chiuri had her fair share of critics – it goes to show that you just can’t please everybody. 

Not so much because she banned Instagram but rather because there were those who argued that her designs went a little too far back and not bringing anything creative to the runway. 

They had labelled her muted toned gowns as boring and not worthy of being associated with the Mega French Couture Fashion Label. 

I don't think Chiuri gives a hoot to what others think!

On Saturday, I was at the Parkland Commercial Hub in Kelana Jaya, Selangor. The Malaysian Dental Association premise, to be precise. 

I was invited to make a 30-minute presentation on “Tips on Impromptu Speaking” and to demonstrate that it wasn't too hard – I had planned to incorporate a 5-7-minute impromptu speech. 

The topic would be randomly selected by their club Vice-President Education – which means, I had zilch time to prepare. 

Little did I know that they decided to make it even more challenging by asking me to present two speeches back-to-back. 

The two topics chosen for me were “Pineapple Pizza” and “My One Big Failure”.

Thankfully, I delivered the two speeches without too much trouble. 

Thank you to Zoe Lo Sue Ann (whom I have known a long time ago when she studied at HELP) for the invite – and also agreeing to evaluate both my speeches. 

BTW, I had to also ensure my speeches met the objectives of CC #5 “Your Body Speaks”. 

Another person who warrants a special mention is Foo Su Yin. She deserves a huge bouquet of praises because as the Toastmaster-of-the-Evening, she made it a fun meeting. A real live wire!

In fact, she mercilessly drowned the proceedings by conjuring tidal waves of enthusiasm, ebullience and exuberance. The attendees were overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed. 

Wow, wow, wow, I am impressed! 

And it was also great to see familiar faces, Jia Wei (Sunway University Toastmasters Club), Yean Yi (Sunway Toastmasters Club) and Joanne (Taman Indrahana Toastmasters Club).

All in all, I enjoyed the meeting very much – even though I had to sacrifice my Saturday evening, wink, wink, wink!

Sexism @ Russia 2018

FIFA want us all to focus only on the football! 

At Russia 2018, I read that sexism is an issue. 

FIFA’s diversity boss had to tell off broadcasters and ordered them to stop their cameras zooming in on "hot women" in the crowd at football matches. 

Asked if the crackdown on cutaways of female fans would become official FIFA policy, Federico Addiechi said: "This is one of the activities we definitely will have in future – it’s a normal evolution". 

He admitted it is not yet a "proactive campaign" but insisted FIFA would "take action against things that are wrong". 

Anti-discrimination group Fare Network says sexism has been the biggest problem at Russia 2018 – not homophobia and not racism. 

They have been monitoring the World Cup games and "documented more than 30 cases". 

Fare Network executive director Piara Powar said sexism was the main focus of discrimination logged by his team – mainly of Russian women being "accosted in the streets" by male fans. There were also cases of female reporters being grabbed or kissed whilst on air. 

When asked how FIFA could combat this, Addiechi said they have been working with the local organizers and Russian police to identify these fans, some of whom have lost their FAN-IDs (a document all spectators must have to obtain access to stadiums at the World Cup) and been forced to leave the country. 

Powar believes the real number of incidents is likely to be "10 times this". 

Even photographic agency Getty Images were not spared from scrutiny. They had published a photo gallery of "the hottest fans at the World Cup" featuring exclusively young women. 

The gallery was later removed by Getty, who claimed it was a "regrettable error in judgement". LOL – what else did you expect them to say!?!

Liverpool’s third pre-season friendly against Bury yesterday was an epic bore. One comment I read said "Jurgen Klopp's team put in a sluggish and sloppy display"  that about sums up the match.

There wasn’t really much by the way of action. And so, a nil-nil score was an unsurprising outcome. 

And at the World Cup, in the third-place play-off, Belgium easily beat England 2-0.

If I may be honest, England weren’t in the game at all – they looked as if they were already thinking of home. 

May I venture to suggest that the English should have given a walkover to the Belgians if their hearts are not in the game?

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Detox Fashion

Credit: Trendstop

It’s time to detox! 

Let's commit to Greenpeace's "Detox My Fashon" campaign.

Around the world, an expanding movement of people are using their creativity, design skills and purchasing power to demand fashion without pollution. 

United by a shared belief that the clothes we wear should carry a story we can be proud of – activists, bloggers, fashionistas, designers, scientists and models have been pushing, persuading and proselytizing many big brands to commit to toxic-free fashion.

Since 2011, the environmental organization have been relentlessly shining a spotlight on the use of hazardous chemicals within the clothing industry. 

In fact, Greenpeace Germany have now published an update of the results in the form of a paper dubbed “Destination Zero: Seven years of Detoxing the clothing industry”. 

According to this report, a total of 80 major fashion brands have made progress in their pledge to remove hazardous chemicals from their production lines by the year 2020. 

They singled out fast-fashion companies such as Inditex (which owns the high street chain Zara), H&M, Benetton and Fast Retailing (which owns Uniqlo) as leading the way in the mission to reduce the use of chemicals that pollute the planet. 

But while these 80 companies that include major brands such as Adidas, Nike, Mango and Puma – they only make up 15 percent of the fashion industry as a whole, and Burberry and Valentino are the only two fashion labels from the luxury sector to have signed up to the pledge. 

Kirsten Brodde, Greenpeace Germany project lead of the Detox-my-Fashion campaign admits: “While we are extremely happy to see the progress of Detox companies towards cleaning up their supply chains, 85 percent of the textile industry is still not doing enough to eliminate hazardous chemicals and improve factory working conditions”. 

Still, we do need to recognize that there are already multiple initiatives put in place to clean up the fashion industry’s image and environmental impact have come to fruition over the past few years. 

Commendable efforts by PVH Group (which owns Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger) to reduce the waste generated by their brands, as well as a water economy programme launched by Gap Inc and recycled fashion collections launched by labels ranging from H&M to The North Face all make a difference. 

Sure, we still have a long way to go – but the successes achieved so far prove that when we work together, big businesses and big brands are compelled to stand up and deliver. For a better world. 

I support Detox Fashion! What about you?

Pour and Pore

On July 03, 2018, US President Donald Trump boasted about his writing prowess:

Lamentably, the tweet proved the exact opposite of what he was trying to say, as one person's corrections make clear: 

Of course, Trump deleted the tweet, and re-tweeted out the same message but with the correct word: 

The damage was already done. Scores had already called him out on the boo-boo – including a genuine bestselling author, JK Rowling herself. 

Rowling didn’t want to miss this opportunity and so, she trolled Trump, typing “Hahahahaha” in three successive responses. 

She concluded in an intentionally error-laden post: "Seriously, @realDonaldTrump is the Gratest Writer on earth". 

She also pointed out that the so-called "best-selling" book Trump was referring to – "The Art of the Deal" – was actually ghostwritten, and the book's real author, Tony Schwartz, had given interviews about how he felt guilty for concealing his identity for so long. 

The Trump biographer Tim O’Brien, who had written “Trump Nation” too weighed in on Trump’s tweet, disputing the claim that Trump had written many best-sellers. 

“President Trump didn’t write any of his books”, O’Brien tweeted. “Ghostwriters on all of them”. 

The official Twitter account for the dictionary Merriam-Webster also made light of Trump’s error. 

It provided definitions for “pore over” (to read or study very carefully) and “pour over” (to make expensive coffee) and went one step further, defining “comb over” (to comb hair from the side of the head to cover the bald spot) – a not-so-subtle reference to the president’s signature hairstyle. 

Fortunately or unfortunately, Trump's tweets are considered presidential records, and the National Archives always request that the White House keep note of deleted or altered tweets – meaning that, no matter how hard he tries to cover his tracks – his mistakes will always be on record somewhere. 

So, if JK Rowling ever wants to investigate the laundry list of blunders in the backlog of the president's social media interactions at any point, official records should give her plenty of material to "pour" over.

Donald Trump is a braggart. A buffoon. A blackguard.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Good News About Sabah Wildlife

Rosa, a 16-year-old female orangutan is now the happy mother of a beautiful and healthy female baby which she delivered on 26 May 2018. Picture courtesy of the Sabah Wildlife Department 

Good news about Sabah wildlife – for a change.

The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre located about 25 kilometres west of Sandakan in the state of Sabah welcomed the birth of three newborn baby orangutans in the last three weeks. 

All three were birthed by orangutans that had arrived here as young orphans, successfully acquiring forest skills through the rehabilitation program at Sepilok and returning back into the forest. 

Orangutans (Scientific name: Pongo) are known to have the slowest life history when compared to other mammals, a factor contributing to their threatened condition in the wild. 

The population requires decades to recover to normal due to a slow reproductive rate and declining numbers. 

Female orangutans only start reproducing at the ages of eight to nine. The babies are weaned between three to six years but will stay with their mother for as long as nine years. 

This binds the mother-baby relationship and allows the baby to acquire survival and life skills from the mother. 

Most of the orangutans brought to Sepilok are young orphans that have lost their mothers and are unable to survive on their own. It is these survival skills that Sepilok develops in them through the rehabilitation program. 

Sepilok has about more than 18 reproductive females and a history of more than 40 wild born babies with second and third generations. 

The happy news came amidst another Borneo pygmy elephant’s death on Wednesday – a d before that, two elephants had perished at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park in May/June. 

The pachyderm named "Sapa" was rescued from the Sapagaya Waterfall near the Danum Valley forest reserve on June 01, 2018. It was found with two rope snares bound tightly around its front legs with deep wounds.

Pix from The Star Online, July 12, 2018 

The injured elephant was brought to the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary in Kinabatangan under the care of the Sabah Wildlife Department, where it had been supposedly recuperating and responding well to treatments. 

A Sabah-based wildlife conservationist said snare traps for wildlife are deadlier than bullets, as they are cheap, easy to get and silent. 

Almost anyone can get or make the traps, he said. 

And he added, though the poacher who set the traps may aim for other animals such as wild boars, larger creatures including elephants can still be victims and die a long, agonizing death.

A post mortem is being conducted on the elephant.

As for the two earlier deaths – one was an adolescent elephant rescued 13 years ago from the Lahad Datu's Yapid plantation and the other was a four-year-old calf. They died on June 27 and May 07 respectively.

Pix from The Star Online, June 29, 2018

It is all the more worrisome because at least seven elephants in the Sabah wild have also died due to unknown causes in April and May this year. 

These deaths had prompted Chief Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal to call on wildlife officials to investigate thoroughly the cause as well as take serious steps in stopping the deaths of the critically endangered elephants. 

Please give special attention to the Borneo pygmy elephant (Scientific name: Elephas maximus borneensis)!

This Sunday, the World Cup showdown between France and Croatia: 

Viva la France!

No Trace of Jho Low

I broke into impetuous laughter when I saw the Star Online headline “Jho Low’s Days are Numbered” yesterday! 

The Star people must have a wicked sense of humor because I don’t think Malaysian police are anywhere closer to collaring him and bringing him back to Malaysia! 

In fact, every time, IGP Mohamad Fuzi Harun (left) opens his mouth – he belches blasts of hot air into our faces and that’s it. 

And the 1MDB fugitive still remains at large. 

Image credit: Webpage 

Last week, Fuzi informed us that Jho Low had fled Hong Kong and headed to Macau after the Penang barrel got wind of Malaysian police about to pounce on him in the former British colony. 

Then on Wednesday, Fuzi announced that Macau sent word to Malaysian police two days earlier, notifying them that Low had already left the former Portuguese colony. 

I also came across another news report from the South China Morning Post that claimed that the flamboyant playboy had fled to mainland China. 

But FMT reported on Thursday saying otherwise – that a Chinese official had told Hong Kong’s English daily that Low was “definitely not” in China. 

The Star on Thursday had alleged that Low had, in fact, flown the coop to Thailand. 

The latest story is that the manhunt for Low has shifted to the West Indies. 

It appears that Low is a citizen of Saint Kitts and Nevis and he even has properties on Saint Kitts, the larger of the two islands. 

The authorities believe he is likely to head there to seek refuge as he has nowhere else to run to. 

A source revealed: “From there, he can hop to the many surrounding island nations – these include Anguilla, St. Martin and Sint Maarten, Saba, Antigua & Barbuda – where law enforcement there is said to be lax”. 

And it benefits Low because Malaysia do not have an extradition treaty with many of these countries. 

Last month, Low’s Malaysian passport was cancelled by the Immigration Department to restrict his movements as the authorities tried to track him down – but that didn’t stop him because he also supposedly possessed a passport from St Kitts and Nevis. 

With this travel document, he can travel without visa to more than 140 countries. 

The source said Saint Kitts and Nevis citizenship and passport could be easily obtained for a price. It can be bought via a $250,000 (RM1 million) cash donation to the country’s Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation or by buying real estate worth at least $400,000 (RM1.6 million). Low opted for the second option. 

So, Fuzi, how now? You give me a strong impression that you are 100% clueless!