Monday, September 30, 2019

Health Concerns on E-cigs and Vaping

Undeniably and undoubtedly, we are seeing growing health concerns over e-cigarettes and vaping. 

According to a government watchdog, vaping has been linked to 200 health problems – including pneumonia and heart disorders – in the UK over the last five years. 

The illnesses were listed in 74 separate “Yellow Card” reports about e-cigarettes filed to the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency by the public and healthcare professionals. And forty-nine of the complaints were classified as serious, according to a breakdown of the data seen by UK’s The Sunday Times

These figures emerged as officials were accused of downplaying the risk of vaping illnesses “spreading” to Britain from the US, where at least 12 deaths and 805 cases of lung injury are under investigation. 

Still, Public Health England keep on insisting that most of the American cases “were linked to people using illicit vaping fluid”, such as those containing cannabis products like THC, and pointed to the UK’s tighter safety regulations. 

However, Stanton Gantz, director of the centre for tobacco control and education at the University of California, San Francisco in the US, said it was wrong to dismiss vaping lung disease as “an American phenomenon”. 

He pointed to the case of a 34-year-old woman who was diagnosed with lipoid pneumonia after being admitted to a Birmingham hospital in 2016. Doctors advised her to quit vaping after identifying the cause as vegetable glycerine found in e-cigarretes, according to a case report in the British Medical Journal. 

The death from lipoid pneumonia of 57-year-old Terry Miller in 2011 was also linked to the use of e-cigarettes after oil was found in his lungs. A coroner returned an open verdict at the inquest after saying he could not be sure whether vaping was a contributory factor. 

The MHRA said they are reviewing the information gathered by the Yellow Card scheme and emphasized that the reports of adverse reactions did not necessarily mean that they were caused by vaping. 

A spokesperson said: “The MHRA assess all reports received in association with nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and should any potential safety concerns be identified we will take appropriate action to protect public health”. 

And PHE continue to advise that vaping is far safer than smoking, which kills nearly 100,000 people every year in the UK. There were around 7.2 million British adult smokers in 2018, according to official figures. 

We cannot ignore the fact that ‘safer’ does not equate to being safe. 

Anyway, the following countries/territories have already prohibited e-cigarettes altogether: Singapore, Cambodia, Brunei, Hong Kong, Brazil and Panama. 

And India is the latest country to embrace the ban two Wednesdays ago.

When is Malaysia's turn, I wonder.

Just in case there are ignorant people out there, e-cigarettes ARE tobacco products.

The US Food and Drug Administration deemed e-cigarettes, cigars, and hookah and pipe tobacco, as tobacco products in 2016. 

E-cigarettes, in fact, are “vaping” devices  they come in many shapes and sizes  that mimic the act of smoking. They are battery-powered gadgets that heat a liquid mixture that usually contains nicotine and other ingredients, which are inhaled by the user

There are now approximately 8,000 e-juice flavors (like menthol, fruit, candy, chocolate, sweets) and the vast variety of flavors attracts youths to trying them.

The WHO have already warned that misinformation spread by the tobacco industry about e-cigarettes being "safer" is "a present and real threat".

Jag är Greta!

YouTuber John Mollusk took Greta Thunberg's biting address to the United Nations and turned it into Swedish Death Metal:

Jag är Greta! (Swedish for I Am Greta!) 

And, of course, it's EPIC! 

At Sunday’s final of the Malaysian Open Squash Championships, regretfully, Low Wee Wern (left) was beaten 7-11, 13-11, 12-10, 8-11 and 5-11 in sixty-one minutes by another Malaysian, Rachel Arnold. 

Never mind, never stop, never give up!

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Magic Machine

Two environmental activists, Greta Thunberg (far left) and George Monboit (left) have joined forces to help produce a short film highlighting the need to protect, restore and use nature to tackle the climate crisis. 

Living ecosystems like forests, mangroves, swamps and seabeds can pull enormous quantities of carbon from the air and store them safely – but natural climate solutions currently receive only 2% of the funding spent on cutting emissions. 

Monboit talks about a magic machine that sucks carbon out of the air, costs very little and builds itself. 

It's called a tree.

Therefore, a tree is our natural climate solution. It's as simple as that.

The film’s director, Tom Mustill of Gripping Films, said: 'We tried to make the film have the tiniest environmental impact possible. We took trains to Sweden to interview Greta, charged our hybrid car at George’s house, used green energy to power the edit and recycled archive footage rather than shooting new'. Bravo!

This video reminds us the value of a tree! 

Share this video. Talk about this. #naturenow

WSD Teasers

Here's something to whet the appetite of public speakers everywhere!

My WSD teaser campaign started Monday, one ad per day, from Monday to Friday.

In the Scottish Premiership match on Saturday between Celtic and Hibernian, the former saw an end to their 100% start to their domestic season when they could only manage a 1-1 draw. 

The same day too, down south, Liverpool emerged a 1-0 winner against a feisty and fighting Sheffield United in an EPL match that was so frustrating to watch. 

Sure, we got the three points but only because the Blades goalkeeper fumbled and that gifted us with a seventieth minute goal. I tell you, it's no joy to watch the Reds play, sigh!

An underwhelming game if I ever saw one!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Beer Puts Out Fire, Wastefully

In Germany, a driver was commended for his quick thinking and resourcefulness when his car caught fire. 

Police told DPA news agency on Wednesday that the day before, this German gentleman was driving on the Autobahn highway near the Bavarian town of Hoesbach, when he spotted flames under the hood of his car. 

He quickly grabbed bottles of beer from a case in his car and quenched the fire. 

Authorities say the fire department responded but there was nothing left for them to do. 

Geez, he sacrificed the beer! I think he could’ve drunk all the beer and just piss the fire out! 

Every time I think about Pakatan Harapan, I am painfully aware they are a dismal disappointment!

And I believe this is because of Mahathir Mohamad. He may have helped us win GE14  thank you – but today, he's the wrong man for a Pakatan Harapan government – a square peg in a round hole!

Supreme Court Blow to Boris Johnson

[Note: Judges are said to be given the nickname beaks, in case you didn’t know. During the bubonic plague – referred to as The Black Death – in 1348, judges visiting prisons used to wear masks (left), stuffed with herbs or spices thought to ward off the plague. And they resembled beaks. 

Often referred to as "going before the beak" as they were never seen without it].

UK’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Prime Minister's decision to prorogue parliament just weeks away from the final Brexit deadline was illegal. 

Its president Lady Hale (right) said the unanimous decision of the 11 justices meant "the prime minister's advice to Her Majesty was unlawful, void and of no effect" when he asked the Queen to suspend Parliament. Meaning, the Boris Johnson decision essentially never happened at all. 

She made clear the court wasn't ruling on Brexit – but that it was about the decision which "had the effect of frustrating or preventing" Parliament from carrying out its functions. 

The UK's Supreme Court is just 10 years old, and the courts have, historically, not intervened in politics to this extent.

The government's lawyer had told the judges that their interference would be "forbidden territory" and warned them they would be walking into an "ill-defined minefield". 

Still, the Supreme Court decided against the government. 

The court said it was up to the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, and his counterpart in the House of Lords to decide what happened next – and they decided that both houses would reconvene on Wednesday. And they did.

Johnson (right) is unrepentant. He continues to assert: “What I worry about is if we don't get Brexit done, then people will feel very badly let down – and that's why we've gotta bash on and get it done on October 31. It's only by getting Brexit done that you'll lance the boil...of the current anxiety”. 

I expect him to fight on. And I’m sure he has a trick or two up his sleeve. He’s a sneaky fellow.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Thrash Animals

Graffiti artist Artur Bordalo (left), aka Bordallo II, transforms every day trash and refuse into absolutely gorgeous, large scale, brilliantly colored animal sculptures. 

The Portuguese travels the world, collecting local rubbish to build sculptures within the communities. With his works, the artist hopes to bring about mindfulness on the asphyxiating impact overconsumption and pollution is having upon our world. 

As he puts it: “‘Waste’ is quoted because of its abstract definition: “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. I create, recreate, assemble and develop ideas with end-of-life material and try to relate it to sustainability, ecological and social awareness”.

A sample of his charming creations:

Finally, Goldman Sachs Want to Settle Amicably

Finally, Goldman Sachs said something sensible and meaningful.

The investment bank and financial services company claim they are seriously seeking to resolve their entanglement with the 1MDB debacle and help return money to Malaysia. 

Their president and chief operating officer John Waldron (right) – in response to a question about 1MDB – had declared in a Bloomberg Television interview on Wednesday: “We’re looking to put it behind us and get the Malaysian people the money that they deserve”.

That's polite language that says they are now admitting they have wrought an injustice to Malaysia by riding on 1MDB's coattails to benefit from the latter's acts of plunder. 

Supposedly, they had previously offered RM1 billion but Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (right) reportedly turned it down, saying it was “little” compared with the “huge killing” that the bank made from the bond deals.  

If it’s true what Goldman Sachs intend to do, it is a smart move – but action speaks louder than words. We shall see! 

On Wednesday, the Reds beat MK Dons 2-0 in the Carabao Cup (League Cup), teeing up a fourth-round home tie – for the first time since 2016 – with Arsenal. 

James Milner opened scoring for Liverpool as the other side’s keeper Stuart Moore fumbled a routine shot. And then teenager Ki-Jana Hoever doubled our lead with a towering header from Milner’s fine cross. 

On the same day too, holders Celtic eased past Partick Thistle 5-0 to win their 29th successive domestic cup tie and set up a Scottish League Cup semi-final with Hibernian. 

Vakoun Issouf Bayo headed in his first Celtic goal in the fifteenth minute to open the scoring before Tom Rogic finished a flowing move in the forty-sixth minute. And Olivier Ntcham's seven-minute double (56, 63), and Scott Sinclair's strike in the seventy-sixth minute, sealed Celtic's last-four berth. 

Yesterday, at almost the last minute, I attended the KPP Toastmasters meeting in Sunway Mentari in Bandar Sunway, Selangor. 

A wee group of seven Toastmasters and one non-Toastmaster had assembled – and for those who were there, we endeavored not just to work on our public speaking but at the same time, to strive toward improving our Malay language proficiency. 

Of course, I took the opportunity to speak on “Kekecewaan” ('Disappointment' in English) for CC#8.

It strikes me that our meetings are really brimming with merriment and conviviality. We have so much fun!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Foot Fetish

Contemporary abstract artist Gwen Murphy (left) is the creative force behind upcycling old pairs of discarded and unwanted shoes into personified faces in her artwork series, ‘Foot Fetish’ – a wonderfully eclectic surreal series of shoe sculptures. 

And each pair features a beguiling set of formed, painted faces that peer out from inside. 

Murphy’s unique shoe sculptures use the long shape of the shoe sole as the face structure and the front of the shoe as a clever headpiece. She uses old pairs of Converse sneakers, ballet flats, high-heels and ballet shoes by covering them by hand in fabric paint. Inside the shoe, she places hand-carved pieces of wood with fascinating human and animal faces. 

Murphy’s abstract face characters look like they’d have very interesting personalities if they were to magically come to life.