Friday, November 30, 2018

Ebola in Congo: Still No End in SIght

Health workers help an unconfirmed Ebola patient into her bed inside a treatment center in Democratic Republic of the Congo. Image credit: John Wessels/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization says Congo’s deadly Ebola outbreak is now the second largest in history, behind the devastating West Africa outbreak that killed thousands a few years ago. 

WHO emergencies chief Dr. Peter Salama on Thursday called it “a sad toll” as Congo’s health ministry announced the number of cases has reached 426. That includes 379 confirmed and 47 probable cases, with 242 deaths. 

"This tragic milestone clearly demonstrates the complexity and severity of the outbreak", Michelle Gayer, senior director of Emergency Health at the International Rescue Committee said in a statement. 

"The dynamics of conflict (mean) ... a protracted outbreak is ... likely, and the end is not in sight". Meaning, the situation is likely to get from bad to worse. 

Celtic moved closer to reaching the Europa League knock-out stages with a 1-0 victory over Rosenborg on Thursday. 

In the forty-second minute, Scott Sinclair (right) headed home the only goal from a wonderful James Forrest cross – and with this win, they need just one point against FC Red Bull Salzburg in their final Group B game on December 13 to guarantee qualification. 

Celtic should fancy their chances – at least they are in a much better position than Liverpool!

Australian Schoolchildren Go on Strike

Students from Castlemaine in Victoria, Australia. Image credit: Eddie Jim 

Students on the move. Image credit: Luis Enrique Ascui 

Students protest in Sydney, Australia on Friday. Image credit: BBC News, November 30, 2018 

The protest in Melbourne, Australia. Image Credit: Luis Enrique Ascui 

'Don't kill our home': Students on the steps of Parliament on Friday, November 30, 2018. Image credit: Luis Enrique Ascui

Students across Australia are skipping school today to push for greater government action on climate change. 

Fort Street High student, 14-year-old Jean Hinchliffe (left), one of the organizers of the nationwide student strike, i.e. #ClimateStrike, explains: “We see that climate change is a real issue, and we see that it’s something that’s important and it’s going to impact our futures. So I feel like I need to take action, I can’t just sit around waiting until I’m old enough to vote because that’s going to be too late”. 

Friday’s protests represent the first Australian action in the global advocacy movement which was sparked by 15-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg (right) who gained worldwide attention in September after going on strike in her own country to highlight the climate crisis. 

Thunberg told the Sydney Morning Herald she was supportive of the strike, calling Australia "a huge climate villain". 

I’ve read that even the education community is backing it. "Speaking with teachers individually, they’re all pretty supportive. But they can’t be publicly supporting a strike", one campaign organizer had said. 

The “Strike 4 Climate Action” is involving children in all capital cities and twenty regional centres such as Ballarat and Newcastle. 

Australian PM Scott Morrison (right) had scolded them for their "activism" during school hours. 

His Monday rebuke: "What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools”. 

A ridiculous response, if you ask me. In schools, the children will have learned about climate change – and I’m sure they will have this sense of dread about the bleak future that awaits them. 

And so, I’m not surprised the prime minister’s warning went unheeded. 

In fact, many students said his remarks had bolstered their resolve to protest. 

Resources Minister Matt Canavan (right) chipped in too. "Taking off school and protesting? You don't learn anything from that”. 

The bonehead had told schoolchildren: "The best thing you'll learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole queue. Because that's what your future life will look like, up in a line asking for a handout, not actually taking charge for your life and getting a real job". 

These two ministers are idiots, imbeciles! Students protest because they care about their dying planet. They want a future! 

"We will be the ones suffering the consequences of the decisions they [politicians] make today", protester Jagveer Singh, 17, tells BBC. 

Aisheeya Huq, a 16-year-old student from Auburn Girls High School, knows young people 'are going to have to face the consequences' of climate change long after the current political leaders are gone. 

Vivienne Paduch, a 14-year-old student from Manly Selective School, says “striking for climate action is more important than missing a day of school”. 

Tully Boyle, a 15-year-old at Castlemaine Secondary College, recognizes climate change is a massive emergency: "We want all governments to take it seriously". 

They and other demonstrators are damn right. Right now, the only thing they can do is protest – and try to put climate change as the #1 priority on the national agenda. 

Even now, the world is being threatened by climate change and the politicians still think ‘everything is fine’! The “What-me-worry” attitude is worrisome, if not alarming. 

The United Nations is already saying that Australia is not on track to meet its Paris climate commitments. 

It has been pointed out that Australia’s emissions are projected to be “well above” its target of a 26-28 percent reduction on 2005 carbon emissions levels by 2030. 

And not only Australia – about half of the G20 countries including Canada and the US are falling really short of their Paris commitments. 

Despite the findings, Australia’s environment minister, Melissa Price (left), insisted on Wednesday the government have “the right mix of scalable policies to meet our 2030 targets”. 

She and the rest of the government seem to be lying to themselves and to Australians.

Loving this sign at the Melbourne #ClimateStrike. Image credit: Moira Cully 

This is the best and cutest strike ever #climatestrike. Image credit: Moira Cully

The UN Emissions Gap Report for 2018, which looks at the gap between carbon reduction policies countries have in place and what is required to keep global warming to well below 2C, says global emissions have reached record highs – meaning, 53.5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide. 

On current policies, it says, annual global emissions would hit 59 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent by 2030. If countries met their unconditional 2030 targets, they would hit 56 gigatonnes. 

To have a 66% chance of meeting the 2C Paris target, emissions would need to be down to about 40 gigatonnes a year by 2030 and to achieve the more ambitious target of 1.5C they would need to fall to about 24 gigatonnes. 

The UN warns that on current trajectories, the world is on track for about 3C of warming by 2100, with warming to persist after that. You bet, the planet will be a very, very different place by then. 

UN environment program executive director Joyce Msuya (left) intoned: “The message is clear: we need to make an almost existential change, the solutions are there, and we have no excuse”. 

She’s right – we are not powerless in the face of climate change. What’s missing is the leadership. 

Australian students explain on their website “Climate change is one of the biggest problems facing the world and it isn’t being addressed quickly enough. In Australia, education is viewed as immensely important, and a key way to make a difference in the world. But simply going to school isn’t doing anything about climate change. And it doesn’t seem that our politicians are doing anything, or at least not enough, about climate change either”. 

As Greta Thunberg says: “Our carbon budget has been spent and there is nothing left for future generations”. 

We must ACT now!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Donald Trump in Climate Change Denial

This is bizarre! United States President Donald Trump (left) dismissed his own Government warning of the devastating effects of climate change. 

The congressionally mandated White House report – published the day after Thanksgiving, a month ahead of its scheduled release – said climate change would cost the country’s economy billions of dollars by the end of the century. 

But Trump said on Monday he did not believe the economic impacts would be at all destructive. 

This dossier, written with the help of more than a dozen US government agencies and departments, said the effects of climate change would harm human health, damage infrastructure, limit water availability, alter coastlines and increase costs in various industries. 

It also said projections of damage could change if greenhouse gas emissions were curbed, although many of the impacts of climate change, like powerful storms, droughts and flooding, have already begun. 

The report supplements a study issued last year that concluded humans were the main driver of global warming and warned of catastrophic effects to the planet. 

Trump may have tried to deny the truth – but his own scientists and experts have made it as stark and clear as possible. Only idiots and fools are in denial!

Yesterday, I attended the Subang Toastmasters meeting – where I was the General Evaluator and also given the opportunity to deliver my CC #9 speech titled Do, Don’t Dream. 

In Table Topics, we had eight speakers. And ahem, I was voted Best TT Speaker. 

There were only ten of us at this meeting but in my book, it was still a good meeting!

MCA: The Party of Political Parasites

They are MCA, after all! 

They are freeloaders, leeches and scroungers! 

And they have no dignity, no shame, no self-respect! 

Yesterday’s Champions League Group C match saw Liverpool suffering a damaging 1-2 defeat to Paris Saint Germain. 

Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI didn’t have enough to compete at the level that was required – and there were questionable choices made, methinks. Klopp was playing it safe and he paid dearly for it. 

Zilch creativity. A sub-standard showing. We were simply outplayed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody Hits the Charts in 3 Different Decades

Queen's mammoth hit Bohemian Rhapsody has now hit the music charts in three different decades. 

The rock opera opus enjoyed yet another boost from the band's biopic of the same name as the multi-part epic re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 two weeks ago at No. 33. [Note: This week, it's at No. 50].

In case you didn’t know, Bohemian Rhapsody first entered the Hot 100 in 1976, after being released as a single off the band's 1975 album, A Night at the Opera. Despite its unconventional structure and exorbitant length for a single, the song peaked at No. 9. 

And then, Bohemian Rhapsody revisited the charts 16 years later, when it appeared in the iconic head-banging scene of the 1992 comedy Wayne's World, starring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey. 

The film introduced Bohemian Rhapsody to a new generation and helped assert its status as a classic rock staple, and the song subsequently rose to a new peak of No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. 

A re-cut of the music video featuring clips from Wayne's World earned Queen their only MTV Video Music Award for Best Video from a Movie. 

And then, the third time success nearly 43 years after its release means Bohemian Rhapsody is a smash hit song. A colossally phenomenal anthem. An extraordinary musical epic. 

Queen rocks! 

As for the movie of the same name, Bohemian Rhapsody is playing in theaters now. 

As at Monday, ‘domestic’ ticket sales reached $153,118,252 and global sales are now at $473,463,142 in only twenty-five screening days.

Last evening, I was at the Shah Alam Toastmasters meeting and I was the Grammarian/Language Evaluator. Speaking slots were full, that’s why. 

Still, it is one task completed in pursuit of my Competent Leadership, Round #23. 

Did you know they’d come up with a quirky yet meaningful meeting theme, which was “How to Eat an Elephant?” Actually, it was club president Safura Atan who was the brains behind this! 

If you are familiar with the saying “Eat the Elephant One Bite at a Time” – okay, I've given you the answer. 

For Toastmasters, the elephant is ‘Public Speaking’. 

We must take it one meeting at a time – and slowly, steadily and surely, we will learn the essentials of public speaking. This is the “learning by doing” method and it works.

Photos from the said meeting:

Stool Samples for Study

A French hospital had made a public appeal for stool samples. 

On Friday, it suspended the project after being inundated by donors hoping to make a fast buck. 

Professor Harry Sokol (right), the gastroenterologist leading a study on intestinal diseases at the Saint-Antoine hospital in Paris, told AFP they had to cease the program because it had gotten out of control. 

Originally donors were sought via posters at the hospital and at medical schools, offering compensation of 50 euros ($57), if accepted

It seemed someone took a picture of the said poster and it went viral But the message conveyed a somewhat different meaning. People thought it meant: Give us your poo, we'll give you 50 euros. 

The telephone hotline and email were quickly overwhelmed and even the hospital was drowned in calls, with some even showing up in person. 

In fact the rigorous selection progress for the study, on a potential treatment for intestinal inflammation, involved a series of blood and stool tests as well as an extensive interview on a donor's medical history. 

Doctors worldwide are studying fecal transplants, which aim to treat a range of chronic gut diseases by introducing stool bacteria from a healthy person into affected patients to help replenish a normal bacterial balance. 

Fecal transplantation, also known as bacteriotherapy, can help counter symptoms and infections caused by C. difficile colitis, harmful bacteria which can proliferate especially after antibiotic treatment kills off too many beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. 

Sokol admitted that many people were "devastated" over the project's suspension. 

Yesterday, I was at Jalan Delima 1/1 in Shah Alam, Selangor for the Fonterra Brands Malaysia Toastmasters meeting – where again, I delivered another speech. This time, it was a CC#2 titled What’s New! 

Two more speeches before I wrap up my Competent Communication manual, Round #51.

I was also the General Evaluator.