Wednesday, December 31, 2014

QZ8501: A Tragic End

Quebec Zulu Eight Five Zero One. Rest in Peace.

Search teams have begun locating floating bodies and debris in the Java Sea, 100-200 kilometers (60-120 miles) from the plane’s last detected position.  On Tuesday. The plane has yet to be found but it is believed to be lying 50 meters underwater on the sea floor.

Where AirAsia flight 8501 got lost and then found:

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As Year 2014 draws to a close on a personal note, I found Toastmasters very fulfilling:

And what's even better is the fact that I am still very passionate about Toastmasters!

BTW, I have decided to give up making resolutions. I just want to keep things simple:

A Shiny New Year

On December 19, 2014, I had blogged about Kim Kardashian’s bottom (Check it out at this link

And now Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi – they celebrated their ten year anniversary together on December 01 – they are taking the Mickey out of Kardashian with the cheeky holiday card they have created:

That’s because it is based on a riff on Paper magazine's "Break the Internet" campaign that featured a nude Kardashian on the cover.
DeGeneres and de Rossi's card reads "Happy Holidays and a Shiny New Year," and shows their heads Photoshopped onto Kardashian's baby-oiled body.
[Note: DeGeneres's holiday cards are part of a partnership with Shutterfly to donate money to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the Humane Society].
I don't know why but I just love bottoms!
On Tuesday, I was in Lorong 8/1D in Petaling Jaya to attend the joint meeting of Money Mastery and Money & You Toastmasters Clubs, both from Division G. I was the Evaluator for Hj Hashim Adnan’s Advanced speech. He really knows how to give the speech a 360 degree twist and therefore, making my life challenging! 

The meeting started on time but finished forty-four minutes behind schedule. Tsk, tsk! This shouldn’t happen! Anyway, my score for this meeting is a 3.5 over 10.

Skyrocketing Prices in Kelantan

In Kelantan, even as the flood waters recede to give some respite to the folks there – in spite of the massive relief operations being undertaken, aid has been slow to reach the victims.
And this has caused prices of essentials to skyrocket, further burdening the people. It seems that instant noodle (left pic) is sold at RM10 per packet, chicken at RM38 each, 1.5 liter mineral water at RM8 and petrol at RM15 per liter.
Yet the Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin could only say that the government have no control over the sharp surge in the price of goods in that state. Still, he did what he did best – he instructed the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism to ensure that supply of basic foodstuff such as rice, flour, sugar and cooking oil is increased. Duh! Is that all he could manage? Where's the leadership?
Don't expect too much from the PM either. True, he had left Rosmah in Hawaii to return and have a first-hand look at the flood situation. He made lightning visits to some affected areas and on Saturday, he announced a special aid of RM500 million for flood victims. And that was about it! Leadership is sorely lacking in this country.
As at 08:00 AM yesterday, a total of 235,218 people have been evacuated from their homes in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Perak, Johor, Perlis, Selangor and Kedah.

The situation is improving and as at 08:00 AM this morning, the total number of evacuees has dipped to 189,354 in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Perak and Johore. Todate, fourteen people have lost their lives.
I think the public at large knows that the National Security Council's (NSC) disaster management more or less collapsed in the face of the severe weather challenges. NSC secretary Mohamed Thajudeen Abdul Wahab said as much when he was quoted by English daily The Star that they were unable to execute their disaster management plan on the ground as their district level teams could not deploy. In other words, their own staff were among the hundreds of thousands beset by arguably the worst flooding in decades and that they themselves needed help!
This “giver of excuses” further explained that they could not use heavy vehicles, the currents were too strong to use boats and the winds were too turbulent to go by air.
What all the above means is that those affected by the floods will have to fend for themselves as best as they could until help arrives – as and when.
Thajudeen added that their biggest problem was figuring out where help was needed and the extent of the damage caused by the floods in each district, despite having managed to stockpile donations of food and supplies from the public and companies. All I know is that he had made himself sound splendidly stupid.
Didn’t Muhyiddin some time back had said Putrajaya would improve four areas in handling natural disasters such as floods – early warning system, relief centres, food supply, and assets and logistics? Obviously, the intention was not fulfilled. It was all talk and no action. As is normal in Malaysia.
Floods are an annual phenomenon – and the only issue is how bad they can be. Malaysians’ misfortune is that disaster planning is left in the hands of individuals who are evidently less intelligent.
On Monday, I was at Mercu UEM in Jalan Stesen Sentral 5 in Kuala Lumpur Sentral to attend the KL Advanced Toastmasters meeting. This wasn’t the garden-variety Toastmasters meeting because we only had Table Topics. (Not to mention new member induction and an EGM). In fact, there were fifteen of us doing impromptu 1-2 minute speeches and poor Geoff Andrew had to evaluate all fifteen of us in fifteen minutes.

And a sweet touch was added to the proceedings when speakers and role players were all rewarded with Ferrero Roche chocs. A fun meeting!
My fave speaker was a Russian guest who spoke about my favorite topic, i.e. cockroaches!


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bomohs Ready to Offer Help

Indonesia is not very much different from Malaysia. The hunt for the missing QZ8501 is ongoing – and bomohs (shamans) have come to the fore and offering their assistance – even claiming that they have managed to track down the AirAsia plane’s location in the “supernatural” waters of Belitung.
For those of you who do not know – Belitung (coordinates 2°50′S 107°55′E) is the Indonesian island off the coast of Sumatra where the missing plane was speculated to have crashed – supposedly somewhere in the vicinity of the East Belitung waters.
Indonesia’s Tempo reported that Basarnas (National Search and Rescue Agency) communications director Sutono had confirmed he received the offer for help, but said that that was not the standard method used by the search team.
At least, the Indonesians have better common sense than Malaysians.
I am sure you can recall the Malaysian bomoh, Ibrahim Mat Zin who thrust himself into the limelight by performing strange rituals involving coconuts and other paraphernalia. Of course, he didn’t manage to find the missing MH370.
Anyway, let’s keep our hopes up for QZ8501.

Liverpool moved to within five points of the top four as they earned an emphatic 4-1 victory over Swansea at Anfield. Alberto Moreno's close-range finish in the thirty-third minute put the Reds ahead. Adam Lallana produced the second goal in the fifty-first minute before Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson hit back a minute later. Lallana struck again with a low finish in the sixty-first minute and Jonjo Shelvey's headed own goal (69) sealed the rout.
The Monday game was Liverpool’s biggest home win of the season. Sure, Liverpool ended 2014 with a bang but what is important is getting back to performing well on a regular basis!

Peshawar School Massacre


Mohammad Sajjad-AP

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Fayaz Aziz-Reuters

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A  Majeed (AFP/File)

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Certainly, it is a cliché to talk about an act of terrorism as a massacre of innocents, but the blood spilled in a school in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar more than fits that description. In fact, it is a vile act beyond comprehension.

On December 16, 2014, at least seven gunmen belonging to the Tehrik-E-Taliban went on a bloody rampage at the Army Public School, located in an area where many military families live, in the northwestern city of Peshawar, Pakistan and slaughtered 132 students between ages 12 and 16 – and another 121 were wounded. Nine staff members were also murdered in cold blood. 

The killers moved from classroom to classroom shooting their victims in the Pakistani Taliban’s deadliest attack yet. In one room, the beasts burned a teacher alive in front of her terrified pupils, witnesses said. In the auditorium, they shot cowering students in the head.

Books, ties, sweaters, notepads, spectacles – the normal trappings of a day at school – lay scattered, drenched in the blood of children who will never use them again, never go to school again, never laugh or cry again. 

And when the murderous militants were finally cornered by Pakistani commandos after an eight-hour siege, they blew themselves up rather than surrender. 

This was the same group that shot Pakistani schoolgirl and now Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai in 2012, purportedly because women do not need education in an Islamic caliphate or state. 

US President Barack Obama described the massacre as an act of "depravity". 

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared three days of mourning and an end to the moratorium on the death penalty for terrorism cases. 

As United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “Going to school should not have to be an act of bravery”. 

The world is seeing senseless bloodshed on a scale that is frightening! And whether you care to believe it or not, this mad violence is spreading! Trust me when I say that no country on this planet is immune from it! 

This is the evil that men do! Sorry – these are not men but monsters wrapped in human skins! Therefore, they should be culled without mercy. 

As the specter of IS and their likes defile the world we live in – can we be really safe? Is there a safe haven for the innocents? Or shall we bear witness to killings and more killings?