Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Killing of Harambe

Reuters pic
The killing of a 17-year-old western lowland gorilla named Harambe at a zoo in the US city of Cincinnati after a four-year-old boy climbed into its enclosure has triggered outrage on social media.
Many said the male gorilla should not have been shot dead as he did not intend to hurt the boy – some even using the hashtag #JusticeForHarambe.
Others said the parents should be held responsible for not looking after their child during Saturday's incident.
On Saturday, zoo officials shot dead the 400lb (180kg) gorilla after he allegedly grabbed and dragged the boy. Zoo director Thane Maynard said that although the boy was not under attack, he "certainly was at risk".
Twitter user StrayanRepublic, wrote: "#HARAMBE wasn't dragging him to kill him... he was protecting the child from the threat of screaming tourists. @Xoxjlove @CincinnatiZoo."
Kenz, another user, posted this message: "#JusticeForHarambe its so sad that an endangered animal had to be put down because of careless parenting."
Meanwhile, Andrue wrote: "Why don't zoos have instant acting tranquilizer? First those 2 lions now Harambe #JusticeForHarambe."
He was referring to last week's incident when two lions were shot dead in a zoo in Santiago, Chile after a suicidal man entered their pen. [Note: The shooting of the lions brought criticisms from activists. Zoo officials said no fast-activating tranquillizers were available].
More than sixty thousand people have signed a petition, calling for the boy's parents to "be held accountable for the lack of supervision and negligence that caused Harambe to lose his life".
Was it right to take a life on somebody's assumption that the situation had become “life-threatening”? Did Harambe showed aggression in the first place?

Courtesy WLWT News Cincinnati
In fact, it was said that the gorilla approached the boy, pulled him though the water and then stood next to him in a manner that some observers believed was protective.
And zoo officials took the simple and convenient way out by killing the animal – supposedly to ensure the boy’s safety.
In a similar incident on August 31, 1986 on the island of Jersey (a Crown dependency of the UK), a five-year-old boy named Levan Merritt had fallen into a gorilla enclosure at the Durrell Wildlife Park (formerly Jersey Zoo). He lost consciousness and a silverback male called Jambo famously stood guard over him, protecting him from other gorillas and stroking his back as if out of concern. The boy was rescued, the animal was celebrated as a “gentle giant” and a statue was later erected in his memory.
I say both the negligent parents and zoo official who ordered the shooting should be charged. Stop trying to justify murder!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Cockroach Glue Trap

A screen capture of the video shows a sumo wrestler struggling to free himself from the powerful glue used in the cockroach traps

This commercial by Japanese company EarthChemical attempts to demonstrate the power of their ‘Mega Cockroach Traps’ using humans as test subjects. Really interesting. Really intriguing. Really riveting!
Scientist, sprinters and even sumo wrestlers stand no chance against the strength of the glue in these insect traps!

My heart is crying for the roaches!
The viral commercial was published on May 19, 2016. Ten days later, at 11.30 PM, it has received 1,263,794 views!
This evening, I was in Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur for the KL Advanced Toastmasters meeting.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Playing Russian roulette with Suicidal Children

FilePic: cj.my
UK’s The Independent carried this alarming report just yesterday! Last year, almost a quarter of a million children in England were referred for specialist mental health treatment and nearly 70,000 of them were sent away without help, including some who had attempted suicide.
This came from a report, written by the Children's Commissioner Anne Longfield – she had gathered data from 48 of England's 60 child and adolescent mental health service trusts (CAMHs). She pointed out that "there is a gap emerging between the help and support that GPs can offer and the specialist services".
She said: "I don't yet know quite why they are being turned away but certainly being turned away or put on a waiting list for up to six months is clearly playing Russian roulette with their health”.
To illustrate the gravity of the mental health situation in England, let me repeat the statistics. More than 69.500 children or twenty-eight percent of the 248,000 children who had sought help, were refused help. This included more than 9,000 who were described as having “life-threatening” conditions. Others had attempted serious self-harm or were suffering from conditions like psychosis and anorexia nervosa.
Sarah Brennan, chief executive of mental health charity YoungMinds, lambasted the “crisis” in children’s mental health services.

She bemoaned: “The truth is that years of underfunding have left the whole system overwhelmed. Many local authorities have repeatedly had their budgets slashed on things like social workers, support programs for parents, educational psychologists and targeted mental health services in schools”.
Dr Carl Walker, chair of the European Community Psychology Association Task Force on Austerity and Mental Health, said the report was not a surprise but still “deeply shocking”.

He said: “The effect of denial of care to young people and children is particularly damaging to the vital period of their early development”.
Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan, told The Independent: "It's unacceptable that tens of thousands of children who need mental health support cannot get the right help when they need it”.
He added: "Through Barnardo's work, we see first-hand what a dramatic difference getting mental health support makes to a child. Delays or not getting that help can lead to a lifetime of mental health issues that, in some cases, could have been avoided."
The Department of Health’s too responded: "We have introduced the first-ever mental health access and waiting time standards and are putting a record £1.4 billion into support for young people in every area of the country”. That'll surely help.
And I cannot help but wonder if we realize that a suicide situation is brewing in Malaysia. And whether we realize also that mental health support is clearly inadequate.
Aishvarya Sinniah et al (2014), had made this interesting observation: 76% of the studies on suicide attempt were descriptive studies that looked at socio-demographic data, psychiatric illness, and methods and reasons for suicide attempts. There is a clear need for more empirical studies that can explore suicide behavior in Malaysia in greater depth (“Suicide attempts in Malaysia from the year 1969 to 2011” The Scientific World Journal, vol. 2014, article ID 718367).
In other words, there is so much we don’t know about the subject, more so on suicide intention and/or suicide attempt. To put it bluntly, we are clueless.

Malaysiandigest.com featured an article “Suicide is the 2nd Leading Cause of Death Among Youth – A Closer Look at the Situation In Malaysia” dated September 07, 2015 that informed us that Befrienders KL had recorded approximately 20,000 contacts overall from phone calls, email and face-to-face cases in 2014. And twenty-five percent of the said contacts expressed intention to commit suicide, while nearly half of all email contacts did so. That means that 1 out of 4 who contacted Befrienders had suicidal tendencies.
It’s time we do something about it before more lives are entrapped!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

1MDB and Bank Negara Malaysia

Bank Negara Malaysia’s hands are tied insofar as 1MDB are concerned.  

Their previous governor, Zeti Akhtar Aziz (left), had requested criminal proceedings at least twice against 1MDB – but her petitions were dismissed by the Attorney General’s office.
In the end, the central bank could only impose administrative enforcement actions against the state fund. And so, on April 28, 2016, they issued a letter of administrative compound to 1MDB for failing to "fully comply with directions issued under the Financial Services Act 2013" – after receiving the green light from the Attorney General.
This covered the order to 1MDB to repatriate monies remitted abroad – said to be more than $1.8 billion – following the revocations of the three permissions granted by the central bank to the state fund in 2009, 2010 and 2011. In addition, 1MDB was accused of failing to submit evidence and documentation specified by the bank to justify their inability to fully comply with the repatriation order.
BNM did not specify the size of the fine or how much 1MDB was required to repatriate.
1MDB was given until May 30, 2016 to pay the fine.
In any case, 1MDB made full payment five days before the deadline.
And just one day after that, BNM said their investigation into 1MDB had ceased because the fine had been paid! This is in spite of Switzerland opening criminal proceedings against BSI Bank over links to the said state firm.
Only the Malaysian Police investigation into 1MDB is plodding along still.
The Wall Street Journal on Thursday said Malaysia’s probe into 1MDB was flawed. It had all along been stymied by political pressure and a lack of transparency, according to documents and interviews with people involved.  

Evidence possibly primary to the scrutiny was placed off limits or ignored, WSJ found. Potentially crucial clues weren’t eyeballed. And at least one key figure, Prime Minister Najib Razak (left) – as chairperson of 1MDB’s board of advisers and also the finance minister, giving him ultimate oversight over 1MDB – wasn’t interviewed by investigators.
We already know that the Auditor General’s report into 1MDB (completed in March 2016), had been classified under the Officials Secrets Act, shielding it from public view.
It’s all a sham! Right from the beginning.
The women’s PSA Dubai World Series Finals featured the world’s best eight qualified players – in two groups of four, with players playing a round-robin best-of-three series for a place in the knockout semi-finals and beyond.
On Friday, Nicol David lost 1-2 to Egypt’s Raneem El Welily (5-11, 11-8, 8-11) and the latter has now qualified for the title-decider with England’s Laura Massaro.

David will just have to be patient before she triumphs again. I believe in her. It is only a matter of time, believe me!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Suicides in the UK

In February, figures published by the UK’s Office for National Statistics revealed an increase in youth suicides.
There were 201 people aged between 10 and 19 who killed themselves in 2014 – up from 179 in 2013.
It comes as separate Office for National Statistics figures, published this week, suggested student suicides have risen to their highest level since at least 2007.
I read that suicide is the biggest killer of people under the age of 35 in the UK.
However, a University of Manchester research – the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness – had investigated the suicides of 130 people under 20 in England between January 2014 and April 2015.
Their findings showed:  
  • 36% had a physical health condition such as acne or asthma
  • 29% were facing exams or exam results; four died on an exam day or the day after
  • 28% had been bereaved
  • 22% had been bullied, mostly face to face.
The study also found that 23% had used the internet in relation to suicide – including searching for methods or posting suicidal thoughts.  

I am sure we can learn something from the above facts too. Authorities in schools, colleges and universities should take note. Please!

Yesterday, squash queen Nicol David kept alive her hopes of winning the PSA Dubai World Series Finals (May 24-28, 2016) for a third time after she defeated World Junior Champion Nouran Gohar 11-7, 11-9 to qualify for the last four.

In the meantime,  in Hong Kong, at the HKFC International Open Squash Championship (May 23-29, 2016), Low Wee Wern did well to win her two qualifying games. First against Hong Kong's Tong Tsz-Wing 11-4, 12-10, 11-4 on Monday. And second, against Japan's Miyaki Kobayashi a day later, winning 11-4, 11-8, 5-11, 8-11, 11-5.

But on Wednesday, she was stopped in her tracks, when she succumbed to India's Dipika Pallikal 11-1, 11-3, 11-3.

She is still trying to find her winning rhythm after having recovered from a knee injury. And in this tournament, she had shown progress. 
Laughter Yoga has reached our campuses. 

The concept of Laughter Yoga is based on a scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. Even fake laughter quickly becomes real.

Laugher Yoga incorporates self-induced laughter, relaxation techniques and yogic breathing. And it brings people together!

It's a small world indeed because the certified laughter yoga teacher who was at this session at Berjaya University College of Hospitality on Wednesday is Karen Sze Tho, a friend and fellow Toastmaster!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Melting Roads

India’s on-going heat wave, which set a new record for the country’s highest-ever recorded temperature last week, is melting tarmac on the roads of some of India's busiest cities.
Pedestrians in the city of Valsad in Gujarat, had a nasty surprise on Saturday when they got onto city roads as temperatures rose to 36C.
Video footage from NDTV shows these residents struggling to free their shoes and sandals that got stuck to the melting tar:

Abandoned footwear are seen strewn across the sticky roadway and a woman falls over as she attempts to carry a heavy bag over the road.
Temperatures in parts of western India exceeded 50C on Friday. The record – a searing 51C – was set in the city of Phalodi, in the western state of Rajasthan. The previous high was 50.6C in 1956 in the city of Alwar, also in Rajasthan.
Indian weather officials have warned of more frequent heat waves as the scorching temperatures cause an increase in dehydration and heatstroke cases, as well as triggering widespread power cuts as surging demand overwhelms supply grids.
Hundreds of people have died as crops have withered in the fields in more than 13 states, forcing tens of thousands of small farmers to abandon their land and move into the cities. Others have killed themselves rather than go to live in urban shanty towns.
Rivers, lakes and dams have dried up in many parts of the western states of Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
The heat wave has struck as India contends with a major drought and worsening water shortages that have affected around 330 million people.
May and June are typically India’s hottest months and temperatures regularly exceed 40C in the run-up to the monsoon rains, but the severity of this year’s heat had been unprecedented.
I was at the TM Convention Center in KL’s Jalan Pantai Baharu to attend the Telekom Malaysia Toastmasters meeting last evening. There were no speaking slots available for me but I was given the Grammarian role instead.
It’s okay because I am working to complete my eleventh round of the CL manual. And my tenth round is almost done.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Singapore Shuts Down BSI Bank

The global investigations related to 1MDB have ensnared a 143-year-old Swiss bank.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore have acted against BSI SA’s unit in the city-state by imposing fines ($13.3 million for 41 breaches) and revoking their merchant banking license. Already, six senior bank executives have been referred to the prosecutor to establish if they had committed criminal offenses.
Yeo Jiawei is the first banker to be slapped with a total of seven charges including that for money laundering, cheating involving millions of dollars, perverting the course of justice and forgery – allegedly linked to Malaysia's troubled 1MDB.
The second individual charged in connection with the same probe is Kelvin Ang. He was charged last month under the Prevention of Corruption Act for bribing a research analyst of an equity research company S$3,000 to "expedite the preparation of a favorable valuation report".
Amidst the unsettling news, the Malaysian state fund are still insisting their fund investments have not been impacted by MAS’s move against BSI Singapore. It looks like they are in denial.
Anyway, previous 1MDB announcements showed that BSI Singapore hold about $1.1 billion (RM4.5 billion) of their funds in the form of “units”. The amount was part of $2.3 billion that 1MDB had placed with a Cayman Islands fund manager in 2012. No specific mention of the funds was made by 1MDB.
The MAS directive came after serious shortcomings were detected in BSI Singapore over the course of five years. A more intrusive third inspection by MAS in 2015 revealed multiple infractions of anti-money laundering regulations and a pervasive pattern of non-compliance.
Almost at the same time, the Swiss attorney-general office’s launched a criminal inquiry into parent bank BSI SA – after an investigation by Finma (Financial Market Supervisory Authority) found the said bank to be also in “serious breach” of anti-money-laundering requirements. Yesterday, BSI SA group CEO Stefano Coduri stepped down.
Finma had said in the case of 1MDB, BSI Singapore had executed many large transactions with unclear purpose over several years and, despite clearly suspicious indications, did not clarify the background to these transactions. Among other measures, Finma had ordered the seizure of profits amounting to Sfr95 million (RM394.7 million) from BSI SA.
1MDB will continue to stay in the news. Until somebody in Malaysia gets charged and goes to jail.
On Tuesday, I was in Bukit Damansara, KL to attend the MII Toastmasters meeting. I volunteered to be the Toastmaster-of-the-Evening. I generously filled the meeting room with so much energy that I uplifted the participants. Really, I did just that!
Needless to say, we had a good meeting!

BTW, this club has a Best Role Player award and yesterday, I won it. And I picked up a 12-year old-plus Toastmaster magazine!


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Body Art from Melbourne, Australia

Check out this sixteen-year-old self-taught body artist, Lara Wirth of Armageddon Painted who used her stunning set of skills to create a wonderfully bizarre collection of body paintings depicting all sorts of both creepy and gorgeous creatures:

Image credit: https://www.facebook.com/armageddonpainted/

In case, you didn’t know, some words have fallen into disuse: