Monday, December 31, 2018

California Bans Sale of Non-rescue Animals

California is set to become the first state in the US of A to ban the sale of non-rescue animals in pet shops. 

This new law, known as AB 485, takes effect tomorrow, i.e. January 01. 

Any businesses violating it face a $500 fine. The change means cats, dogs and rabbits sold by retailers cannot be sourced from breeders  only from animal shelters. 

Animal rights groups have heralded it as a step forward against so-called "kitten factories" and "puppy mills". 

They say the current "high-volume" industries, where pets are bred for profit, can lead to inhumane treatment and long-term emotional and physical health problems in some animals. 

The new state-wide law, approved in late 2017, will now require shops to maintain sufficient records of where they sourced each animal, for periodic checks by authorities. It does not, however, affect sales from private breeders or owner-to-owner sales. 

I think this is an idea worth adopting in Malaysia. We have far too many stray dogs, homeless cats, scurrying rats and darting cockroaches.

The China-US Trade War is Hurting

Do you know that the China-US trade war has resulted in billions of dollars of losses for both sides in 2018 – and hitting industries including agriculture, autos and technology? 

Just Beijing’s tariffs on soybeans, corn, wheat and sorghum alone will produce the unwanted effect of the two protagonists each losing about $2.9 billion annually, according to Purdue University agricultural economist Wally Tyner. 

Total US agricultural export shipments to China for the first ten months of 2018 fell by 42 percent from a year earlier to about $8.3 billion, according to the US Department of Agriculture. 

China has mostly been buying soy from Brazil since imposing a 25 percent tariff on American soybeans in July in retaliation for US tariffs on Chinese goods. The surge in demand pushed Brazilian soy premiums to a record over US soy futures in Chicago, in an example of the trade war reducing sales for US exporters and raising costs for Chinese importers. 

China also suffered as products such as phone batteries were hit by US tariffs, and customers began looking to buy from other countries. 

A study commissioned by the Consumer Technology Association showed US tariffs on imported Chinese products cost the technology industry an additional $1 billion per month. 

The conflict also squeezed US retail, manufacturing and construction companies that had to pay more for metal and other goods. 

“Input price pressures remained elevated in part due to tariffs, particularly in manufacturing and construction, and firms were struggling to pass these higher costs onto customers”, the Dallas Federal Reserve said. 

In fact, the Big Three Detroit automakers – General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – have each said higher tariff costs will result in a hit to profits of about $1 billion this year. 

Therefore, it is worthwhile for these two countries to re-look at the consequences of their own actions because “it’s a lose-lose for both the United States and China”. 

CGTN’s Zou Yue contends that both China and the US of A are bound together by a relationship built on co-dependency – and this rightfully, should ensure that the two superpowers won’t go at each other’s throats anytime soon. 

Even with Donald Trump in the White House. 

China needs the US as much as the US needs China. Both countries will just have to learn to live with each other. 

Although the video below may have been published eight months ago – methinks, the arguments remain valid even today:

Sometimes, money is not being wisely spent!

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad today unveiled the 'Putrajaya' sign, the latest landmark at the federal government's administrative capital.

Image credit: The Star Online, December 31, 2018 

With Perdana Putra, which houses the PM's office in the background, the stainless steel sign in the form of the letters P, U, T, R, A, J, A, Y and A has colourful graphic s that also feature the Jalur Gemilang

But often we forget that it is not landmarks that Putrajaya need – these are just man-made structures and they are nothing more than that. They may be striking, stunning and even spectacular – but the city itself is soulless. It is not only artificial but it lacks vibrancy. 

Simply put, Putrajaya is a city that is NOT alive!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Venezuelan Exodus

Venezuelans are fleeing Venezuela daily. 

According to BBC News today, an estimated 5,000 people pack up their bags and leave every day, eager to escape the economic collapse and humanitarian crisis which has beset the oil-rich South American nation. 

More than 3 million people have departed Venezuela. 

And the UN believe that number is expected to rise to more than 5 million by the end of 2019. 

The vast majority of Venezuelans travel to other parts of South America. More than a million Venezuelans have chosen neighbouring Colombia as their new home, with half a million more travelling through it on their way further south to Ecuador, Peru and the countries beyond.

Earlier this month, 95 organisations, co-ordinated by the UN Refugee Agency – the UNHCR – and the International Organization for Migration, launched the so-called Regional Response Plan for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela. 

The idea is to help respond to needs of those Venezuelans who are migrating as well as call on the international community to help fund aid efforts. 

Geoff Ramsey, the assistant director of the Venezuela Programme at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) says it is a great start but promises on paper are not enough. 

"A meaningful solution to Venezuela's displacement crisis will require Latin America to integrate these communities into their formal economies and job markets", he says. 

David Smolanksy, an exiled opposition leader and now the head of the Working Group on Venezuelan migration for the Organisation of American States believes the region doesn't just need to respond to the crisis, it needs to keep up the pressure against Maduro too. 

"You need the strong arm and the friendly hand", he maintains. 

"The region needs to be firm against the dictatorship – as long as it continues, people are going to flee". 

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro (left) blames "imperialists" – the likes of the US and Europe – for waging "economic war" against his country and imposing sanctions on many members of his government. 

But his critics say it is economic mismanagement – first by his predecessor Hugo Chávez and now Maduro himself – that has brought Venezuela to its knees. 

Malaysians should be thankful that we put a stop to our own country’s ruination on May 09, 2018 when we ousted Najib Razak and Barisan Nasional. 

Yesterday was Liverpool’s final game of the calendar year and we were pitted against Arsenal. 

The Reds leaked a goal – Ainsley Maitland-Niles had given Unai Emery’s team the lead in the eleventh minute – then, hit back when Roberto Firmino scored twice in two minutes (14, 16), putting away a loose ball and then a stunning individual goal. 

Sadio Mane made it 3-1 after 32 minutes when Andrew Robertson's long cross exposed Arsenal after they needlessly conceded a corner. 

Mohamed Salah extended it to 4-1 from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time, having been fouled by Gunner center back Sokratis Papastathopoulos. 

And then Firmino completed his hat-trick, also from the spot after 65 minutes following Gunner left back Sead Kolasinac's push on Dejan Lovren. 

The final tally – Liverpool won 5-1. 

Jurgen Klopp's side are nine points clear of Tottenham after the north Londoners' shock home defeat by Wolves and 10 ahead of Manchester City, who visit Southampton today.

I expect the Citizens to win this match and that means only 7 points will separate us from them.

Syed Saddiq Needs a Nanny

The boy Minister is in the news again. I guess he loves the limelight. 

I daresay, his ego is expanding but his maturity has been languishing all this while. 

And I have to give overbold Lim Kok Wing a flagitious mention again – I flinch and cringe to learn how he had butt-kissed the Youth and Sports Minister when "YB Super Saddiq" dropped in at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology on December 17, 2018: 

Oh, Lim shut down his Twitter account the same day Marina Mahathir gave him a scolding. [For details of the said censure, kindly read my blog post "Lim Kok Wing Exposed" on Saturday].

Dia ni merajuk, ah?

In yesterday’s Scottish Premiership game between Celtic and Rangers, the former lost 0-1 to the latter. 

Obviously, I was saddened by our loss – but I did let slip a wee bit of guilt-ridden smile because it was Steven Gerrard’s (right) side that won. 

Celtic thought they could just turn up and put in an average performance – on the other hand, Rangers showed determination and grit and they dominated the game throughout. 

The Guardian‘s Ewan Murray described it as “the finest Rangers performance of Steven Gerrard’s tenure”, before adding that “Brendan Rodgers hasn’t seen his team outplayed to this extent in a domestic fixture”.

As Steven Thompson, former Scotland striker asserted on BBC Sportsound: “It's been no contest”. Rangers really deserved to win. 

And Rangers have now moved level with Celtic at the top of the table!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Lim Kok WIng Exposed

Lim Kok Wing (left). A lowlife. A scumbag. A slimebucket. 

The founder and president of Limkokwing University (left) had tweeted today: “Tun Mahathir is absolutely right in saying that we just need to set our hearts and minds on achieving greater goals to be a great nation”. 

Malaysians already know the blackguard is up to his tricks again – trying to squirm his way into the prime minister’s good books. 

Marina Mahathir (right) couldn’t stomach it. And I don’t blame her. 

Lim, after all, is a despicable cur. A detestable heel. A disgusting worm. 

Marina angrily tweeted: “Do stop it @limkokwing! Where were you last year? Who was it who told Dad to shut up to 'preserve his legacy'?" 

A second tweet: “If PH (Pakatan Harapan) hadn't won, would you have snuck into our house uninvited Raya to apologise. Just stop it”. 

Disgraced Najib Razak had appointed Lim as his public relations campaign coordinator in 2015 – and his job was believed to burnish the former PM’s image because the 1MDB issue had put him under the uncomfortable spotlight for alleged corruption. 

Mahathir (left) had in a blog post without mentioning names said a friend had attempted to persuade him to cease criticizing Najib. And the friend had even warned that if he continued, he would lose his legacy. 

Though he did not identify the vermin, it was obvious that Mahathir was referring to the outrageously shameless Lim. 

And the latter had brazenly come out of the woodwork, only to be shieldtox-ed by Marina Mahathir! 

Lim Kok Wing is a jerk, a dumbass, a fuck-up!

Today’s Star2 in the Star newspaper features that treasure of a book The Legal Lion of the Commonwealth: Judgments” – and described as an important legal legacy for Malaysia. 

I had blogged about it some time back – read it @ 

Better still, get the weighty tome. 

The two editors Angela Yap and Ritchie Ramesh had indeed done justice to Eusoffe Abdoolcader. 

A masterwork, a magnum opus, a pièce de résistance.

The Galapagos Bans Fireworks

With immediate effect, the sale and use of fireworks are effectively banned in The Galapagos. Except fireworks that produce light but no sound. 

The archipelago located about 1,000km (621 miles) off the coast of mainland Ecuador draws thousands of tourists who visit the islands because of their biodiversity and pristine environment. 

Famous for its unique fauna – in particular the marine iguanas (Scientific name: Amblyrhynchus cristatus) which are the only ocean-swimming lizards, the Galapagos tortoises (Scientific name: Chelonoidis nigra) which are the longest-lived of all vertebrates, averaging over 100 years, and the Galápagos penguins (Scientific name: Spheniscus mendiculus) which are the only penguins found north of the equator – they played a key role in the development of Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

This striking specimen was photographed on the island of Española. Image credit: Blinking Idiot/CC By 2.0/flickr: Blinking Idiot 

Image credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia 

Image credit: Webpage

Conservationists say that animals suffered from elevated heart rates, trembling and anxiety after pyrotechnic events. 

The campaign against fireworks began in 2017. 

The president of the local council, Lorena Tapia, tweeted: "This is a gift to conservation for Ecuador and the world". 

There has been increasing pressure on the Ecuadorean government to do more to protect their sensitive ecosystems.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Students Turn to Sex Work

Concerned campaigners are demanding that UK universities must stop ignoring the plight of an increasing number of students turning to sex work and should start offering non-judgemental support. 

Varsity students are turning to prostitution during their studies – in order to cope with the rising cost of living and university tuition fees. 

The English Collective of Prostitutes, a campaigning group which supports the decriminalisation of prostitution, told The Independent the number of students who have reached out to the organization about having to turn to sex work has risen in the past year. 

Laura Watson, spokesperson for the ECP, said serious financial hardship and cost pressures is the driving reason for rising sex work on campus. 

UK’s The Independent had already spotlighted on June 30, 2016 that more than half of those already in the industry – 67 percent – had turned to sex work to be able to pay for living expenses, such as food and bills, followed by 53 percent who need the money to pay for rent. And another 35 percent say their earnings are used to pay for university fees, while around a quarter use money earned to reduce post-graduation debt, or to avoid getting into debt. 

The above findings had come from the National Union of Students which worked with the Sex Workers Open University and the ECP to survey young people – a majority of the respondents were aged between 20 to 25 – working in the industry to shed more light on their lives and experiences. 

Of course, collating official figures on the number of sex workers is difficult because many are worried they will face negative consequences by becoming more visible. 

But figures from money advice website Save the Student this year found more than one in 10 students use their bodies – including sex work, sugar dating and webcamming – to make money. 

A Universities UK spokesperson highlighted that all universities have a duty of care to their students: “This means protecting their welfare in order to support them as learners, encouraging legal, safe and healthy behaviours but not dictating what these behaviours should be”. 

I believe that the right to an education is a fundamental human right. 

Therefore, the British government should devote more funds to education and make it much more affordable. That includes universities.

A Singaporean Blogger Fights Back

A blogger is fighting back after Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong (left) sued him for defamation in December for sharing an article titled “Lee Hsien Loong becomes 1MDB’s key investigation target” on Facebook. 

The said piece, originally published in a Malaysian news portal – according to Malaysia’s New Straits Times, December 27, 2018 – had carried allegations: 

(1) That PM Lee had “secret deals” and “unfair agreements” with Malaysia’s former PM Najib Razak, such as the Singapore-Malaysia High Speed Rail and the water sale agreement, “in exchange for Singapore banks’ assistance in money laundering 1MDB funds”; (2) That Singapore was “forced” to reopen the 1MDB investigation after the new government was voted in; and (3) That PM Lee refused to be interviewed by the Malaysian government as part of the 1MDB investigation. 

[Note: Malaysia’s FMT reported on the same day too that it was Singapore’s States Times Review that first published the article, and it was then picked up by Malaysian news portal The Coverage on November 07]. 

It doesn’t matter who is correct because all this while, Lee has staunchly maintained that the news piece was false and totally without basis and that weblogger Leong Sze Hian (right) had intentionally reposted the link to smear the prime minister’s reputation. 

Already, the Monetary Authority of Singapore had filed a report with the Singapore Police Force against the author of that November 05 article published in which it deems “false and malicious, and impugns the integrity of MAS as a financial regulator”. 

Singapore has long been criticized for collaring free speech and curbing other political rights. Not only that, the city-state slaps critics with financially ruinous libel suits. 

And since the country's media scene is pro-government – how else then to chew out the people in power unless you do it online? 

Therefore, the government pay careful attention for anything written about them online. Leong was not the only target. In this month too, Terry Xu (left), editor of Singapore news site The Online Citizen, was charged with defamation for publishing a letter that alleged corruption among the natonal leadership. 

But it is not always one-way. Leong, a regular critic of the government, has, in fact, lodged a counterclaim against Lee for alleged abuse of the court system. 

"The predominant purpose of the claim is the use of the legal process to chill freedom of expression in Singapore", said Leong in his suit, which was posted on Facebook Wednesday along with details of his defence. 

He said all he had done was to make the article available on his social media page "without embellishment or comment" for less than three days. 

It is said that Singapore, being regularly ranked among the world's least corrupt countries, is sensitive to any accusations of graft. That may be so – but muzzling their citizens won’t do! 

I was at the IJM Toastmasters meting on Thursday – where I was fortunate to be given a speaking slot as well as take up the role of Table Topics Evaluator.

I'm working towards my ACB award and so, I delivered an Advanced speech from the Humorously Speaking manual, assignment #1 titled On a Leash. 

I had brought along Bernard, my pet roach. 

And although that particular speech wasn't as good as I wanted it to be   (my opinion only!)  I was still voted Best Speaker. 

It is noteworthy to mention that Sajni Dharamdass was my evaluator – and this was not the first time, she was entrusted with the job. Believe me when I say that her evaluation skills are steadily making solid progress. 

When you evaluate me, you will only improve!