Sunday, May 9, 2021

Scottish Election 2021

Nicola Sturgeon (right) has hailed the SNP's "historic and extraordinary" fourth consecutive victory in the Scottish Parliament election. 

With all the results in, the ruling Scottish National Party have finished on 64 seats – one short of a majority but one more than they won in the last election. The Conservatives won 31, Labour 22, Scottish Greens eight and Liberal Democrats four. 

[Note: The SNP won 63 of the 129 seats in 2016 – with the Scottish Conservatives second on 31. Scottish Labour won 24 seats, the Scottish Greens six seats and the Scottish Liberal Democrats won five seats]. 

Sturgeon said her priority was to steer the country through the pandemic. But she said she still intended to hold an independence referendum once the crisis has passed. 

And the Scottish First Minister asserted that there was no democratic justification for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right), or anyone else, to attempt to block it.

Sturgeon said her party had won the most constituency seats and secured the highest share of the constituency vote in the history of devolution. 

And she pledged that "the task of building a better Scotland for everyone who lives here will be my priority every single day". 

Well done, Scotland!

Thank goodness, Liverpool managed a 2-0 win against Southampton in yesterday’s Premier League match. 

Sadio Mane opened the scoring against his former club, heading home Mohamed Salah's cross in the thirty-first minute. And Spain midfielder Thiago Alcantara scored his first Reds goal in the ninetieth minute to hand Jurgen Klopp his 100th win at Anfield in all competitions. 

Liverpool's next game is against Manchester United on Thursday, before they visit West Brom on Sunday. Hope is rekindled – let’s not throw it all away!

158 Million Cases and China's Sinopharm Vaccine Gets WHO Approval

India is responsible for more than half of new cases yesterday – thereby ensuring the world speedily logging 158 million coronavirus cases in total. 

Stories from India's punishing second wave continue to dominate global news and social media feeds – people gasping to stay alive as they wait for critical care beds and treatment; desperate families scrambling for everything, from oxygen cylinders to a doctor's appointment; mass funeral pyres and parking lots turning into crematoriums to accommodate the rising number of dead. 

Coverage the world over has pinned the blame on its prime minister Narendra Modi (right) – a man who has often presented himself as an able administrator with an eye for detail, who is now floundering as India's daily cases break records. 

It’s Modi’s fault alright, that's for sure! Arrogance, callousness, hyper-nationalism and bureaucratic incompetence have all combined to create a crisis of epic proportions. And Indian citizens are paying a heavy price.

On Friday, the World Health Organization approved China's Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use – the first Chinese vaccine to achieve such a certification. 

Although already used widely around the world, the approval clears the way for it to be used in the COVAX vaccine sharing program for developing countries, streamlines its approval within the European Union and also clears obstacles for those who have been vaccinated with it to participate in the EU's vaccine passport scheme. 

Without a doubt, Sinopharm is a lifeline to nations without easy access to Western vaccines.

The approval of Sinopharm is arguably a game changer not so much for China, but very much for the rest of the world. Never have the international community needed access to vaccines so urgently, especially when new and dangerous variants are constantly evolving.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

The Elephant Question on a Job Application

Twitter user @beeta was asked this unusual question on a job application: "You've been given an elephant. You can't give it away or sell it. What would you do with the elephant?" 

Employers ask this kind of question because they want to see how you think. 

And here are seven replies to @beeta's tweet:

I took a class on how to respond to job interview questions once and they used this exact one as an example. The answer they're looking for is "Open a business where you hire the elephant out for events like birthday parties". 

And then there's me who'd break the bank getting it to a wildlife refuge. Elephants are incredible, majestic creatures and I'm a little offended they want you to imprison them and force them to make you money. 

Unfortunately I can no longer work here, raising this elephant is my full time job. We are going to travel from town to town solving mysteries. 

Raise it like your child and start a wildly successful Instagram account documenting your life with an elephant son. 

Since the premise is unrealistic, so too should be the answer. Shrink it to cat size and keep it as a pet. 

I decline to accept the gift of the elephant under these terms. It’s better to address broken requirements upfront than to hope you can work around them later by creative heroics. 

Give me the job or my elephant will sit on your car.

157 Million Cases and Deaths That Are Unreported/Underreported

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused nearly 6.9 million deaths across the world – more than double the number officially recorded – an analysis from the University of Washington, DC’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated. 

Deaths go unreported as most countries only record those that occur in hospitals or of patients with a confirmed infection, the report which came out on Thursday, revealed. 

Current reported figures showed more than 157.5 million infections worldwide with at least 3.2 million deaths, according to Worldometers. 

The reported Covid-19 mortality is strongly related to the levels of testing in a country, the IHME said. 

“If you don’t test very much, you’re most likely to miss Covid deaths”, Christopher Murray (left), the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said in a briefing call with journalists. 

The independent health research organization that provide a comparable measurement of the world's health issues estimated total Covid-19 deaths by comparing anticipated deaths from all causes based on pre-pandemic trends with the actual number of all deaths caused during the pandemic. 

In the United States, the analysis estimated Covid-19 related deaths of more than 905,000. But official figures from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday estimated 575,491 deaths due to the novel coronavirus. 

The CDC did not immediately respond to a Reuters news agency request for comment on the report. 

The report only includes deaths caused directly by the virus, not deaths caused by the pandemic’s disruption to healthcare systems and communities. 

“Many countries have devoted exceptional effort to measuring the pandemic’s toll but our analysis shows how difficult it is to accurately track a new and rapidly spreading infectious disease”, Murray said. 

India is another example that is deserving our scrutiny. Those who have died due to Covid-19 now totals 238,265, Worldometers data showed. 

But news reports of interviews with medical doctors and community leaders who are involved in the counting the pandemic deaths, however, revealed that the real death toll could be many, many times higher than the official count.

I most certainly agree with IHME because I too, have brought up this very same issue since I’ve started highlighting about the pandemic last year. Truly, death numbers have been unreported and underreported.

Friday, May 7, 2021

US Embassy Compare Chinese Students to Dogs

The US enjoys mocking the Chinese. 

The visa office of the US Embassy in China have come under intense fire on Chinese social media as netizens pointed out their account has contemptuously compared Chinese student visa applicants to dogs in a scandalous post, which some net users said was "pure racism that has hit the lowest of the low". 

The post, published by the visa office on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like platform, on Wednesday, one day after the US Embassy resumed visa processing for Chinese students, said that "As Spring blossoms, are you the same as the puppy, eager to go out and play?" before informing students about the visa application resumption. 

A video of a dog, struggling to jump over a fence that trapped it in a tiny balcony and trying to reach out, was posted along with the words. 

The crass post quickly ignited Chinese netizens' fury as many believed the US Embassy had compared Chinese students to dogs. Indignant web users called it "blatant racism" and rightly so! 

Hashtag "US Embassy compare Chinese students to dogs" soon was trending on social media, which attracted more than 800,000 reads within three hours after its publication. 

The post was deleted later – but the damage was done. 

Indeed, the US Embassy are impudent, insulting and insolent! 

WSD 2021 Videos: Update 8

This is Update #8 and as in last week, we still see the WSD with CV Plus viewership growing steadily and surely. 

In fact, nearly all of our Top 25 videos have made decent progress: 

  • Sanjanaa Kanthan – 2038 view (1954) 
  • Velleny Jivel Jinau – 1308 views (1212) 
  • Yosshveina Jega Theesan – 1183 views (1178) 
  • Simon Gibson – 1149 views (1131) 
  • Tashvein Jega Theesan – 1128 views (1115) 
  • Amirah – 1082 views (1072) 
  • Karyn Yadlyn – 738 views (638) 
  • Christal Wong – 717 views (637) 
  • Vellvie Jivel Jinau – 669 views (620) 
  • Annie Tsen – 526 views (525) 
  • Santhy Dewi Pillai – 467 views (414) 
  • Sumithra Devi – 443 views (432) 
  • Ooi Mei Ling – 436 views (417)
  • Janany Ganabatirau – 428 views (427) 
  • Joyce Tan – 405 views (359) 
  • Robyn Grace Leo – 397 views (384) 
  • Ahmed Tarek Fawzy – 374 views (368) 
  • Ilham Firdaus – 363 views (362) 
  • Mathew Varughese – 358 views (353) 
  • Samuel Sham – 333 views (331) 
  • Chong Kai Zhen – 321 views (291) 
  • Karan Z’vyr – 312 views (281) 
  • Dayang Norfaliza – 239 views (238) 
  • Takako Aoi – 236 views (235) 
  • Stacey Lim – 231 views (230) 

[Note: The figures in parentheses indicate the number of views from the last report published April 30, 2021]. 

#unexpectedvoices #worldspeechday #worldspeechday2021kualalumpur #worldspeechday2021johorbahru

156 Million Cases and Lab-made Diamonds

Still rising – and 156 million Covid cases worldwide. 

Belgium and Sweden are countries #27 and #28 to have each amassed one million cases respectively todate.

In the meantime, India’s Covid situation is in a perilous state with a tally of 21.5 million infections and 234,000 fatalities. Already, the country accounted for nearly half of all global Covid-19 cases and one in every four deaths due to the virus in the past week, WHO said in their latest report. 

Pandora A/S, which make more pieces of jewelry than any other company in the world, will no longer use mined diamonds, dropping another raw material which has been claimed to be tainted by ethical concerns. 

The Danish jewelry manufacturer and retailer will now use diamonds manufactured in laboratories, after declaring last year they will stop using newly mined gold and silver. 

While mined diamonds only went into about 50,000 Pandora pieces last year – out of a total of roughly 85 million items – the move reflects greater demand for sustainability. Supposedly. 

Copenhagen-based Pandora said Tuesday they will soon release their first collection using lab-made stones in the UK, and turn to other markets in 2022. 

The company’s lab-made diamonds are grown from carbon with more than 60% renewable energy on average, a ratio that’s set to rise to 100% next year. It is noteworthy to mention that these precious stones are today all but indistinguishable from the real thing.

The company’s pledge last year to stop relying on newly mined gold and silver in their jewelry means their entire production will use only recycled precious metals by 2025, part of a plan to make operations carbon neutral within four years. 

The maker of affordable trinkets also emphasized price as an important consideration behind their decision. After all, lab-made stones cost about a third of mined ones and the switch will make diamond jewelry accessible to more consumers, they had said. 

Of course, Pandora are anticipating that the lower price of lab-made diamonds will lead to increased sales – and which in turn, will benefit them immensely.