Friday, January 15, 2021

Pfizer Vaccine Kills Twenty-three Norwegians

Norway said Covid-19 vaccines may be too risky for the very old and terminally ill, the most cautious statement yet from a European health authority as countries assess the real-world side effects of the first shots to gain approval. 

As of Thursday, the country reported that 23 people had died a short time after receiving their first Pfizer dose of the vaccine. Of those deaths, 13 have so far been autopsied, with the results suggesting that common side effects may have contributed to severe reactions in frail, elderly people, according to Statens legemiddelverk. 

The Norwegian Medicines Agency admitted that the studies that form the basis for the temporary approval of the vaccine included very few people over the age of 85, and there is little known about how any side effects will affect these age brackets, but they said, "we assume that the side effects will largely be the same in the elderly as in those over 65 years of age". That assumption resulted in the deaths in nursing homes – and which is a sad outcome. 

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health downplayed the fatalities, saying “For those with the most severe frailty, even relatively mild vaccine side effects can have serious consequences”. 

Whatever lah – but the point is twenty-three people sacrificed their lives.

This is an early indication of what to watch as countries begin to issue safety monitoring reports on the vaccines. 

Emer Cooke (left), the head of the European Medicines Agency, has said tracking the safety of Covid vaccines, especially those relying on novel technologies such as mRNA, would be one of the biggest challenges once shots are rolled out widely.

93 Million Cases and a Malaysian Record


Coronavirus cases worldwide jumped again to 93 million. 

It’s not a surprise anymore because even Malaysia registered a record 3,337 cases and fifteen deaths yesterday.

















The World Health Organization on Thursday said 95% of vaccine doses so far administered worldwide were limited to just ten countries and called for a more equitable distribution. In terms of total doses, the top countries are the US, China, the UK, Israel, UAE, Italy, Russia, Germany, Spain and Canada.

WHO's regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge (left) expressed his concern when he said: “Collectively, we simply cannot afford to leave any country, any community behind”. 

Kluge said the WHO are working to get the vaccine to every country but, “(they) need every country capable of contributing, donating and supporting equitable access and deployment of the vaccines, to do so”.

Hmm, why the worry? He himself said on September 01, 2020 that Europe can live with Covid-19 without a vaccine by managing outbreaks with localised lockdowns. 

He had told Sky News: "The day we are going to conquer the pandemic is not necessarily the vaccine. It is when we learn to live with the pandemic…”.  

According to website Our World in Data, over 32 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered so far. 

Like everybody else, Kluge continues to be optimistic. 

“2021 will be another year of the coronavirus, but this will be a more predictable year, the situation will be easier to control”, he maintains. 

From the way the world is heading with the numbers shooting upwards, I'm not so sure. Anyway, the pandemic will surely get worse before it gets better.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

#BantahDaruratMuhyiddin












The CSO Platform for Reform, a coalition of 75 Malaysian civil society organizations has labelled the Emergency announcement by backdoor prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin (right) as an assault on Malaysia’s civil liberties. 

Saying the decision is detrimental to parliamentary democracy, the group is now calling on the public to reject the proclamation through an online campaign using the hashtag #BantahDaruratMuhyiddin. 

“The CSO Platform for Reform firmly believes in good governance via institutional reforms, and we demand that the government uphold our fundamental human rights and not use the Covid-19 pandemic as a tool to justify actions, such as the emergency, to undermine our democracy and civil liberties”, said a CSO statement. 

Indeed, the pronouncement does not demonstrate a real necessity as expressly set out in Article 150 of the Federal Constitution to justify the unfettered executive power to Muhyiddin, especially when MCO was already announced the night before. 

#saynotoemergency #BantahDaruratMuhyiddin

92 Million Cases and Please Don't Tell Anybody You Work at Facebook


Global coronavirus cases have topped 92 million. 

In case you’re not aware, the World Health Organization on Thursday said four variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for causing Covid-19 are already circulating worldwide. 

I guess, there’s no stopping Covid-19. Besides, with the half-measures taken by governments in many countries, please don't expect the virus to make a retreat. 

Believe me, the best thing to do is to build and strengthen your body immunity  and you should be fine.

Work at Facebook? Best you keep that to yourself.

Facebook on Monday told employees to avoid wearing or carrying company-branded clothing and other items in public following the company’s suspension last week of President Donald Trump’s account and their more recent crackdown on content mentioning “Stop the Steal”, an online movement that falsely claimed the presidential election results had been corrupted. 

The Facebook management’s internal memo to employees about the issue, which was reviewed by The Information, reflects concerns that the company’s actions following the deadly trespass on the US Capitol last week could put staff at risk. 

But why only pick on Trump? There are countless other right-wing individuals and organizations spewing hate on Facebook – and yet they remain untouched.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

2nd MCO to Impair Malaysia's Economy

Malaysia’s economic recovery will be severely hurt by the government’s move to enforce a second Movement Control Order as key industries were still reeling from the first lockdown that ended just six months ago, Moody’s Analytics warned. 

Growth of South-east Asia’s third largest economy contracted 17 percent in the second quarter of 2020 as the MCO that spanned from March to May put businesses and trade to a near-total halt. 

“Another MCO-level lockdown would dent the Malaysian economy significantly”, Denise Cheok, economist at the Moody’s unit that oversees Malaysia, told Malay Mail. 


In fact, in the same Malay Mail today, there’s a news report saying that hotels in the tourist island of Langkawi saw bookings plunge as much as 60 percent following the government’s reintroduction of the MCO barring interstate travel nationwide. 

While the MCO is supposed to last only two weeks until January 26, Langkawi Tourism Association chief executive, Zainuddin Kadir told Utusan Malaysia that 100 percent of hotel bookings on the island for the Chinese New Year holidays next month have also been cancelled. 

There's no doubt about it  MCO 2 is a serious hit to the economy. 

Government ministers like every other civil servant will still enjoy their full salaries and perks – but for those in the private sector or who are self-employed, they’re on their own. It would seem that their livelihoods don't matter! 

Celtic’s home Scottish Premiership match with Hibernian went ahead on Monday despite the Parkhead squad being decimated by Covid-19 – with manager Neil Lennon and thirteen players having to self-isolate. 

And they led through David Turnbull's free-kick in the eighty-second minute – but their opponents’ equalizer (90+1) denied Celtic three points. 

The draw left Celtic – who still have three games in hand – 21 points behind Scottish Premiership leaders Rangers!

World Speech Day 2021 Bandar Seri Begawan












World Speech Day 2021 welcomes Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam!




#unexpectedvoices #worldspeechday

A State of Emergency

GK Ganesan (left) is a lawyer, and he has a YouTube channel called ‘GKtv Law’. 

Certainly, his videos are illuminating and insightful. And he spells out issues in plain language. 

Now, listen to him speak about the Malaysian Government’s intention* to declare an Emergency here:

 

*Note that in this video, it is an ‘intention’ because this clip was published October 25, 2020 – nonetheless, the arguments still stand today. 

Yesterday, Malaysia was put under a state of Emergency. An ominous event. A grim chapter in the country's history.

Malaysians know that the Emergency profits the Prime Minister, and his Cabinet. These people are the rakyat’s trustees; when they abuse the Constitution, they disobey their sworn oath. 

My poor, much-abused country!

#saynotoemergency

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

91 Million Cases and Toxic Politics


91 million cases already! We are breaking records worldwide every other day! 

We now welcome Nigeria to the C100K grouping – the 79th country to do so. When we add up all the cases and deaths of these countries, they account for 97.2% and 98.1% of the global numbers respectively. 

Unfortunately, Malaysia is also one of the contributors. We're ranked #69!






Not only have we to contend with Covid-19, but Malaysia is also suffering from a bad case of toxic politics. 

And just to save one man’s arse – today, a state of emergency has been invoked! May Allah help us all! 

Modern Truths

The works of the Argentinian illustrator who works under the pseudonym “Al Margen” highlight patterns of behavior in our society today. 

He does this through art that show macabre and dark portrayals – and they speak the unfortunate truth about modernity. 

In these thirteen sobering images, the artist employs a provocative tone to address themes such as body image, consumerism, interpersonal relationships and technology, amongst others.
















Monday, January 11, 2021

MCO Returns, Sort Of

It didn’t come as a surprise to learn that the Movement Control Order is returning. For 2 weeks until January 26, 2021. And as expected, it’s less restrictive.

For the powers-that-be, it's an easy decision to arrive at; no thinking is required!

Anyway, I don't believe this MCO will work.  

Last Friday, I was back in TTDI, Kuala Lumpur for a KEPENTAS meeting. 

In case you’re wondering about this entity called KEPENTAS, it's actually Kelab Pidato Perdana Antarabangsa, where members do public speaking in Malay. 

They were formerly referred to as KPP or Kelab Pidato Perdana. The name-change was a logical progression because they have expanded beyond Malaysia to three other countries, i.e. Brunei, Singapore and Indonesia. A very commendable achievement, if I may add.




















There were only six of us – but it was still another learning opportunity for me. I know I definitely need to work on my Bahasa Melayu.









Sunday, January 10, 2021

Malaysia Can Learn From China


Nearly eleven months after the first lockdown on March 18, 2020, Covid-19 is still raging and rampaging. 

In spite of it, a total lockdown should be the last resort, and not the first response. After all, 80 percent of positive cases are asymptomatic. 

Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong makes sense when he urged the government, specifically the Ministry of Health to stop the idiotic practice of giving fancy names to clusters which have very little meaning to ordinary citizens and which, in fact, conceals the accuracy of the data. 

What we all want to know each day is how many prisoners are infected, which factory’s dormitories are now hotbeds of infection, which shopping malls see spikes of infection. 

Don’t just vomit out the big numbers that don’t really add value to helping anybody to combat the pandemic. 

Furthermore, it’s important that the authorities closely monitor high-risk areas such as foreign workers living quarters, prisons and the communities living near to them. 

And we should leverage on big data analytics using the data collected through MySejahtera and other data available in the government system as well as public data that can be mined, such as posts with meta-data and tags used on social media, and so on. 

I repeat, the government have failed the rakyat – truth be told, there have been no credible strategies from the people-in-charge. That means they are both clueless and incompetent. That can only mean they are not cut out for the job. That explains why the high numbers persist.


We should learn from China! They have shown that science and technology are key to defeating the pandemic. We need to identify cases as early as possible, take swift action and provide treatment as quickly as possible. It's as simple as that. And of course, do all these rigorously and properly.

With a backdoor government that spend more time strategizing to stay in power, they are not likely to worry too much about Covid-19. Except when they are in front of the cameras where some acting is required. 

Therefore, they're not likely to look at China and check out how that country has successfully brought the pandemic under control. And so, our numbers remain sky-high.

90 Million Cases and the Vaccine Backlash


Whoa, it’s now 90 million cases! And 1.9 million deaths! It looks like we'll be touching 100 million real soon!
 
More than 3 weeks into the vaccination campaign and there has been not a few news reports of US healthcare workers resisting getting their Covid-19 shots. 

If these incidents are indeed widespread – it is telling me that the vaccines do not inspire confidence. And we’re referring to healthcare professionals, not ordinary folks! 

I don’t think these objectors are anti-vaxxers – but if they are, it’s a big irony! 

Anyway, if they have real ‘concerns’ about receiving the jabs because there are people they know who suffered detrimental side effects from the vaccines – then, we should pause and take a step back. 

Still, so-called “experts” insist these concerns are nothing more than unfounded fears with regard to the vaccines that were developed at record speed. 

And ABC News, the news division of Walt Disney Television's American Broadcasting Company broadcast network even reported that some administrators alarmed at the vaccine resistance have dangled everything from free breakfasts at Waffle House to a raffle for a car to get employees to roll up their sleeves. Some states have threatened to let other people cut ahead of health care workers in the line for shots. 

“It’s far too low. It’s alarmingly low”, said Neil Pruitt, CEO of PruittHealth, which runs about 100 long-term care homes in the South, where fewer than 3 in 10 workers offered the vaccine so far have accepted it. 

At one veterans home in Manteno, Illinois, 90% of residents were vaccinated but only 18% of the staff members. 

In West Virginia, only about 55% of nursing home workers agreed to the shots when they were first offered last month, according to Martin Wright, who leads the West Virginia Health Care Association. “It’s a race against social media,” Wright said of battling falsehoods about the vaccines. 

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said only 40% of the state’s nursing home workers have gotten shots. 

North Carolina’s top public health official estimated more than half were refusing the vaccine there.

And in rural Ashland, Alabama, about 90 of some 200 workers at Clay County Hospital have yet to agree to get vaccinated, even with the place so overrun with Covid-19 patients that oxygen is running low and beds have been added to the intensive care unit, divided by plastic sheeting. 

Stormy Tatom, 30, a hospital ICU nurse in Beaumont, Texas, said she decided against getting vaccinated for now “because of the unknown long-term side effects”. 

As Dr. Stephen Noble, a 42-year-old cardiothoracic surgeon in Portland, Oregon said: “I don’t think anyone wants to be a guinea pig”. 

He has decided to postpone getting vaccinated. “At the end of the day, as a man of science, I just want to see what the data show. And give me the full data”. 

As I was researching for this post, a Facebook entry on Wednesday by Heidi Neckelmann came to my attention. She’s the wife of 56-year-old Dr. Gregory Michael (right), an obstetrician at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, Florida, who it is claimed had died on Monday due to an adverse reaction to the Pfizer vaccine. 

UK’s The Sun even carried this piece with the headline “Can’t Die in Vain – Wife of ‘healthy’ doc, 56, who died days after getting Pfizer Covid vaccine fears jab may have triggered death” (January 07, 2021). 

Still, it must be noted that there are also medical facilities which boasted near-universal acceptance of the vaccination program and workers are said to have proudly plastered pictures of themselves on social media receiving the vaccine. 

I’m neither encouraging nor discouraging vaccination. In my opinion, Big Pharma should just properly complete Phase 3 trials and then release all the relevant data – before even trying to hawk their vaccines to desperate governments and their unsuspecting publics.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

More WSD 2021 Global Iranian Community Posters

Another 6 posters on World Speech Day 2021 Global Iranian Community: 







Thank you, Dr. Zahra Moharrer and LifeTime Skills for being a part of this wonderful event that is World Speech Day!

#unexpectedvoices #worldspeechday

89 Million Cases and Twitter Silence Donald Trump


Omigosh, we’ve now reached 89 million coronavirus cases, with no end in sight. Worse, it seems to be getting out of hand. 

Twitter Inc said yesterday that they have permanently suspended US President Donald Trump's account due to the risk of further incitement of violence following his supporters' brazen attack on the US Capitol building Wednesday. 

Sure, Trump (right) asked for it, alright! But if this can happen to the US president, it demonstrates the power of big companies and how they can take unilateral action against just anybody. Scary, isn't it? 

But banning Trump, I really don't get it!












Also yesterday, Liverpool had been expected to win comfortably as they took on an Aston Villa youth side in the FA Cup – and they did eventually seal a 4-1 victory to reach the fourth round. In fact, the entire Claret and Blue first team were ruled out due to a Covid-19 outbreak, leading to their under-23s coach Mark Delaney to lead out a side with an average age of 18. 

Liverpool went strong, and in just four minutes, Sadio Mane headed home from Neco Williams‘ cross. Even so, Villa fought valiantly, and they were rewarded with an equaliser in the forty-first minute. 

It was only in the second half that the Reds got on top of a home side made up of academy players with no first-team experience. 

Takumi Minamino laid it on for Gini Wijnaldum to put the Reds back in front on the hour mark, before substitute Xherdan Shaqiri‘s cross was diverted in via a sumptuous header from Mane three minutes later. Again, Shaqiri added another assist as his pass found Mohamed Salah to turn and fire into the bottom corner two minutes after that. 

Sure, Liverpool did the job – but all credit to Aston Villa and truly, they can hold their heads up.

Friday, January 8, 2021

88 Million Cases and the Flying Coffins









The world makes a leap to reach 88 million Covid-19 cases and 1.9 million deaths worldwide. I've said already it never rains but it pours. And it is still pouring. A real drencher!

Boeing have been fined $2.5 billion by the US justice department after being charged with fraud and conspiracy in connection with two fatal crashes of its 737 Max airliner. The settlement includes $2.2 billion in compensation to the families of the people killed in the two Max crashes and a $243 million fine. 

Boeing’s employees chose “the path of profit over candor by concealing material information” from the Federal Aviation Administration, the US’s top airline regulator, David Burns, the acting assistant attorney general of the justice department’s criminal division, wrote in a release. 

Burns said the company had also engaged “in an effort to cover up their deception”. 

The Max was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people. 

A March 2020 congressional investigation concluded that Boeing promoted a “culture of concealment” and was “grossly inefficient” in its oversight of the Max’s development. At a heated congressional hearing in October 2019, Senator Richard Blumenthal accused Boeing of selling “flying coffins” as a result of their decision to conceal issues with the planes from pilots. 

In a statement, Boeing once more blamed their former employees. Of course, it’s easier to pin the blame on staff who have left lah.