Sunday, September 17, 2017

Finally, the Ebola Vaccine

Although, Ebola is no longer making headlines, there remain some clusters of Ebola cases in Africa and more can still be expected as survivors may still spread the virus to uninfected people. 

Then again, I am happy to report that a Canadian-developed vaccine for the Ebola virus had proven to be extremely effective in a full-scale clinical trial – meaning, that future outbreaks of the disease can be successfully contained. 

This clinical trial, which began in March, 2015, marked the first time any vaccine for Ebola had passed the hurdles required for regulatory approval. 

Led by the World Health Organization, it was staged in Guinea, a country that was ravaged by the Ebola epidemic that swept across West Africa in 2014-2015. 

Other trials that began around the same time floundered because infection rates in Western Africa were dropping too rapidly by then to provide a statistically significant result.

Note: The VSV-Ebola vaccine – called rVSV-ZEBOV – is effective against the so-called Zaire strain of the virus that was responsible for more than 11,300 deaths in Western African starting in late 2013 – the worst Ebola outbreak in history. A parallel vaccine is still needed for the Sudan strain, which is more prevalent in Eastern Africa. 

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said he was "angry with the result but pleased with the performance" after Burnley frustrated his side on Philippe Coutinho's return to the starting line-up – with a 1-1 draw in this EPL game on Saturday. 

The Reds racked up 35 efforts at goal but only one shot amounted to anything – Mohamed Salah’s shot in the thirtieth minute.

On the same day too, Celtic moved clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership with a comfortable 4-0 victory over Ross County. 

Tom Rogic delivered the opener with a left-foot finish in the thirteenth minute, and Moussa Dembele, who is making his first start since July, added the second in the forty-second minute. 

Then, James Forrest secured the win, scoring twice (52, 74). 

Brendan Rodgers' side may have lost 5-0 to Paris St-Germain on Tuesday, but there was no diminishing their domestic authority.

LEGO Shed Jobs

LEGO are trimming staff and 1,400 jobs are expected to disappear as a decade long-run of sales growth ends after expansion failed to deliver expected sales growth. 

The Danish manufacturer of toy building blocks said it is cutting 8 percent of their global workforce after reporting a 5 percent drop in first-half revenues to 14.9 billion DKK (£1.8 billion), with net profit slipping 3 percent to 4.4 billion DKK. 

The downturn is the biggest hit the business has suffered since coming close to bankruptcy 15 years ago. 

Chairperson Jørgen Vig Knudstorp said he was “pressing the reset button for the entire group” in a bid to arrest the declines, which came after investment to boost production capacity “to support higher expectations of revenue which failed to materialise”. 

LEGO are the world’s No. 3 toymaker in the $90 billion (£70 billion) a year global market, behind Mattel and Hasbro, and the leading industry player in $15 billion European market, according to data from analysts at NPD Group. 

They have consistently seen off competition from challengers, delivering near-constant double-digit growth for a decade, with the family-owned business adding increasingly technical products to their traditional building sets and mini-figures, as well as video games and franchise such as the LEGO films. 

Anyway, this did not deliver steady growth and last month British chief executive Bali Padda – the first non-Dane to run the company – was abruptly replaced after just eight months in the role. 

[Knudstorp’s spin on the substitution of the 15-year veteran of the toy company was that the 61-year old was only intended to hold the role for a short time because of his age – and not due to poor performance!]

The business world is a tough place, that's for sure.

Toastmasters' SAC Penang Posters

I did two posters for the Toastmasters’ D51 Semi-Annual Conference 2017 last month – my little contribution to help promote the said event and push ticket sales: 

And yes, I did sign up for the SAC2017 too! 

Liverpool's first game in the Champions League since 2014 ended in a 2-2 draw with Sevilla at Anfield on Wednesday. 

After a long absence, I don’t expect the Reds to do well this time around. 

Of course, I am hopeful – but I am also realistic.

Liverpool's Capitulation

On September 09, 2017, I was red with anger and which swiftly turned blue with depression when Manchester City thrashed 10-man Liverpool 5-0 as the former sent out an ominous message of intent to their EPL title rivals. 

Liverpool were already trailing to Sergio Aguero's cool finish in the twenty-fourth minute when Sadio Mane was sent off eight minutes before half-time for a high challenge on keeper Ederson. 

Manchester City wasted no time to use their numerical advantage – and they added a second through Gabriel Jesus's header (45+6). Aguero set up Jesus for his second in the fifty-third minute before substitute Leroy Sane added two late goals (77, 90+1) to give their team their biggest win over Liverpool since 1937! 

The Reds just folded dramatically in the second half. 

And a first defeat of the season for Jurgen Klopp's men. A painful defeat. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Pakatan Harapan Will Not Work with PAS

On Tuesday, I was very much encouraged to know that Pakatan Harapan had arrived at a decision to shut the door on cooperating with PAS in GE14.

This is in spite of the prospect of three cornered fights and even putting their dream of taking over Putrajaya at risk.

In the clearest sign that the opposition coalition is breaking off ties with fellow “opposition” party PAS, PH chairperson Mahathir Mohamad (right) categorically said no such cooperation would happen with the Islamist party at both federal and state levels.

This came after Selangor Menteri Besar and PKR deputy president Azmin Ali highlighted the disquieting fact that his party intend to persist in negotiating with PAS in order to avoid three-cornered fights.

We have been told that any multi-cornered fights in the general election will benefit the incumbent, in this case BN, due to the split in opposition votes. Supposedly.

The hallucinating PKR faction is trying very hard to keep its dream of working with PAS alive. Barely.

Dream on lah because it is not going to work.

The truth of the matter is, these PKR fantasizers actually worry that Selangor – presently under PKR – may swing back to BN. Men and women of little faith.

As far as I am concerned, it was a timely decision because the protracted dilly-dallying is taking its toll on everybody in PH and nerves are getting frayed as a result.
In any case, the PH leadership has finally bitten the bullet and taken on a singular position on PAS.

I am relieved.

I wish I can be in a position where I do not need to fly with AirAsia.

I was in Vietnam from August 31-September 03, 2017.

The Thursday flight to Ho Chi Minh City was delayed by two-and-a-half hours. And to make matters worse, when we landed at Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport, we stayed on the tarmac for another thirty minutes.

On the flight home, again it was delayed by an hour. Meaning I reached Kuala Lumpur at 1:00 AM this morning itself.

AirAsia, now everyone can be fashionably late!