Sunday, May 9, 2021

Scottish Election 2021

Nicola Sturgeon (right) has hailed the SNP's "historic and extraordinary" fourth consecutive victory in the Scottish Parliament election. 

With all the results in, the ruling Scottish National Party have finished on 64 seats – one short of a majority but one more than they won in the last election. The Conservatives won 31, Labour 22, Scottish Greens eight and Liberal Democrats four. 

[Note: The SNP won 63 of the 129 seats in 2016 – with the Scottish Conservatives second on 31. Scottish Labour won 24 seats, the Scottish Greens six seats and the Scottish Liberal Democrats won five seats]. 

Sturgeon said her priority was to steer the country through the pandemic. But she said she still intended to hold an independence referendum once the crisis has passed. 

And the Scottish First Minister asserted that there was no democratic justification for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right), or anyone else, to attempt to block it.

Sturgeon said her party had won the most constituency seats and secured the highest share of the constituency vote in the history of devolution. 

And she pledged that "the task of building a better Scotland for everyone who lives here will be my priority every single day". 

Well done, Scotland!

Thank goodness, Liverpool managed a 2-0 win against Southampton in yesterday’s Premier League match. 

Sadio Mane opened the scoring against his former club, heading home Mohamed Salah's cross in the thirty-first minute. And Spain midfielder Thiago Alcantara scored his first Reds goal in the ninetieth minute to hand Jurgen Klopp his 100th win at Anfield in all competitions. 

Liverpool's next game is against Manchester United on Thursday, before they visit West Brom on Sunday. Hope is rekindled – let’s not throw it all away!

158 Million Cases and China's Sinopharm Vaccine Gets WHO Approval

India is responsible for more than half of new cases yesterday – thereby ensuring the world speedily logging 158 million coronavirus cases in total. 

Stories from India's punishing second wave continue to dominate global news and social media feeds – people gasping to stay alive as they wait for critical care beds and treatment; desperate families scrambling for everything, from oxygen cylinders to a doctor's appointment; mass funeral pyres and parking lots turning into crematoriums to accommodate the rising number of dead. 

Coverage the world over has pinned the blame on its prime minister Narendra Modi (right) – a man who has often presented himself as an able administrator with an eye for detail, who is now floundering as India's daily cases break records. 

It’s Modi’s fault alright, that's for sure! Arrogance, callousness, hyper-nationalism and bureaucratic incompetence have all combined to create a crisis of epic proportions. And Indian citizens are paying a heavy price.

On Friday, the World Health Organization approved China's Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use – the first Chinese vaccine to achieve such a certification. 

Although already used widely around the world, the approval clears the way for it to be used in the COVAX vaccine sharing program for developing countries, streamlines its approval within the European Union and also clears obstacles for those who have been vaccinated with it to participate in the EU's vaccine passport scheme. 

Without a doubt, Sinopharm is a lifeline to nations without easy access to Western vaccines.

The approval of Sinopharm is arguably a game changer not so much for China, but very much for the rest of the world. Never have the international community needed access to vaccines so urgently, especially when new and dangerous variants are constantly evolving.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

The Elephant Question on a Job Application

Twitter user @beeta was asked this unusual question on a job application: "You've been given an elephant. You can't give it away or sell it. What would you do with the elephant?" 

Employers ask this kind of question because they want to see how you think. 

And here are seven replies to @beeta's tweet:

I took a class on how to respond to job interview questions once and they used this exact one as an example. The answer they're looking for is "Open a business where you hire the elephant out for events like birthday parties". 

And then there's me who'd break the bank getting it to a wildlife refuge. Elephants are incredible, majestic creatures and I'm a little offended they want you to imprison them and force them to make you money. 

Unfortunately I can no longer work here, raising this elephant is my full time job. We are going to travel from town to town solving mysteries. 

Raise it like your child and start a wildly successful Instagram account documenting your life with an elephant son. 

Since the premise is unrealistic, so too should be the answer. Shrink it to cat size and keep it as a pet. 

I decline to accept the gift of the elephant under these terms. It’s better to address broken requirements upfront than to hope you can work around them later by creative heroics. 

Give me the job or my elephant will sit on your car.

157 Million Cases and Deaths That Are Unreported/Underreported

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused nearly 6.9 million deaths across the world – more than double the number officially recorded – an analysis from the University of Washington, DC’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated. 

Deaths go unreported as most countries only record those that occur in hospitals or of patients with a confirmed infection, the report which came out on Thursday, revealed. 

Current reported figures showed more than 157.5 million infections worldwide with at least 3.2 million deaths, according to Worldometers. 

The reported Covid-19 mortality is strongly related to the levels of testing in a country, the IHME said. 

“If you don’t test very much, you’re most likely to miss Covid deaths”, Christopher Murray (left), the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said in a briefing call with journalists. 

The independent health research organization that provide a comparable measurement of the world's health issues estimated total Covid-19 deaths by comparing anticipated deaths from all causes based on pre-pandemic trends with the actual number of all deaths caused during the pandemic. 

In the United States, the analysis estimated Covid-19 related deaths of more than 905,000. But official figures from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday estimated 575,491 deaths due to the novel coronavirus. 

The CDC did not immediately respond to a Reuters news agency request for comment on the report. 

The report only includes deaths caused directly by the virus, not deaths caused by the pandemic’s disruption to healthcare systems and communities. 

“Many countries have devoted exceptional effort to measuring the pandemic’s toll but our analysis shows how difficult it is to accurately track a new and rapidly spreading infectious disease”, Murray said. 

India is another example that is deserving our scrutiny. Those who have died due to Covid-19 now totals 238,265, Worldometers data showed. 

But news reports of interviews with medical doctors and community leaders who are involved in the counting the pandemic deaths, however, revealed that the real death toll could be many, many times higher than the official count.

I most certainly agree with IHME because I too, have brought up this very same issue since I’ve started highlighting about the pandemic last year. Truly, death numbers have been unreported and underreported.

Friday, May 7, 2021

US Embassy Compare Chinese Students to Dogs

The US enjoys mocking the Chinese. 

The visa office of the US Embassy in China have come under intense fire on Chinese social media as netizens pointed out their account has contemptuously compared Chinese student visa applicants to dogs in a scandalous post, which some net users said was "pure racism that has hit the lowest of the low". 

The post, published by the visa office on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like platform, on Wednesday, one day after the US Embassy resumed visa processing for Chinese students, said that "As Spring blossoms, are you the same as the puppy, eager to go out and play?" before informing students about the visa application resumption. 

A video of a dog, struggling to jump over a fence that trapped it in a tiny balcony and trying to reach out, was posted along with the words. 

The crass post quickly ignited Chinese netizens' fury as many believed the US Embassy had compared Chinese students to dogs. Indignant web users called it "blatant racism" and rightly so! 

Hashtag "US Embassy compare Chinese students to dogs" soon was trending on social media, which attracted more than 800,000 reads within three hours after its publication. 

The post was deleted later – but the damage was done. 

Indeed, the US Embassy are impudent, insulting and insolent! 

WSD 2021 Videos: Update 8

This is Update #8 and as in last week, we still see the WSD with CV Plus viewership growing steadily and surely. 

In fact, nearly all of our Top 25 videos have made decent progress: 

  • Sanjanaa Kanthan – 2038 view (1954) 
  • Velleny Jivel Jinau – 1308 views (1212) 
  • Yosshveina Jega Theesan – 1183 views (1178) 
  • Simon Gibson – 1149 views (1131) 
  • Tashvein Jega Theesan – 1128 views (1115) 
  • Amirah – 1082 views (1072) 
  • Karyn Yadlyn – 738 views (638) 
  • Christal Wong – 717 views (637) 
  • Vellvie Jivel Jinau – 669 views (620) 
  • Annie Tsen – 526 views (525) 
  • Santhy Dewi Pillai – 467 views (414) 
  • Sumithra Devi – 443 views (432) 
  • Ooi Mei Ling – 436 views (417)
  • Janany Ganabatirau – 428 views (427) 
  • Joyce Tan – 405 views (359) 
  • Robyn Grace Leo – 397 views (384) 
  • Ahmed Tarek Fawzy – 374 views (368) 
  • Ilham Firdaus – 363 views (362) 
  • Mathew Varughese – 358 views (353) 
  • Samuel Sham – 333 views (331) 
  • Chong Kai Zhen – 321 views (291) 
  • Karan Z’vyr – 312 views (281) 
  • Dayang Norfaliza – 239 views (238) 
  • Takako Aoi – 236 views (235) 
  • Stacey Lim – 231 views (230) 

[Note: The figures in parentheses indicate the number of views from the last report published April 30, 2021]. 

#unexpectedvoices #worldspeechday #worldspeechday2021kualalumpur #worldspeechday2021johorbahru

156 Million Cases and Lab-made Diamonds

Still rising – and 156 million Covid cases worldwide. 

Belgium and Sweden are countries #27 and #28 to have each amassed one million cases respectively todate.

In the meantime, India’s Covid situation is in a perilous state with a tally of 21.5 million infections and 234,000 fatalities. Already, the country accounted for nearly half of all global Covid-19 cases and one in every four deaths due to the virus in the past week, WHO said in their latest report. 

Pandora A/S, which make more pieces of jewelry than any other company in the world, will no longer use mined diamonds, dropping another raw material which has been claimed to be tainted by ethical concerns. 

The Danish jewelry manufacturer and retailer will now use diamonds manufactured in laboratories, after declaring last year they will stop using newly mined gold and silver. 

While mined diamonds only went into about 50,000 Pandora pieces last year – out of a total of roughly 85 million items – the move reflects greater demand for sustainability. Supposedly. 

Copenhagen-based Pandora said Tuesday they will soon release their first collection using lab-made stones in the UK, and turn to other markets in 2022. 

The company’s lab-made diamonds are grown from carbon with more than 60% renewable energy on average, a ratio that’s set to rise to 100% next year. It is noteworthy to mention that these precious stones are today all but indistinguishable from the real thing.

The company’s pledge last year to stop relying on newly mined gold and silver in their jewelry means their entire production will use only recycled precious metals by 2025, part of a plan to make operations carbon neutral within four years. 

The maker of affordable trinkets also emphasized price as an important consideration behind their decision. After all, lab-made stones cost about a third of mined ones and the switch will make diamond jewelry accessible to more consumers, they had said. 

Of course, Pandora are anticipating that the lower price of lab-made diamonds will lead to increased sales – and which in turn, will benefit them immensely.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Roaches Become Collateral Damage

Taiwan’s daily English-language newspaper, Taipei Times reported a cockroach attack on a Chinese restaurant in Taipei on Monday. 

Police said two men in black had entered the G House Taipei and released what was estimated to be more than a thousand baby roaches at the said premise. 

They believed it was related to a debt dispute between the restaurant owner and a criminal ring – the former had allegedly owed money to the Bamboo Union.

Footage from surveillance cameras allowed police to identify five suspects, four men and a woman. Two of them dumped the roaches on the second floor of the eatery, two were lookouts and one was a driver. The suspects were said to be Bamboo Union members. 

Poor roaches! Humans got into a conflict but the insects were conscripted to get involved and then they ended up becoming collateral damage!

Donald Trump, The Blogger

Donald Trump (yes, the former President of the United States), banned from major social media sites, has launched a personal blog, From The Desk of Donald J Trump. 

Though touted by his servile followers as a "communications platform" – the dream was that he was going to launch something more web 2.0, like a Twitter clone or whatever – a personal blog is what it is. 

Anyway, good for Trump (left)! It's never too late to start a blog. I only hope for the sake of all Trumpsters out there, he keeps blogging regularly. It’s the only way to connect with his support base. 

Here is a statistic that hopefully, won’t scare him. I read that over 80% of bloggers will quit in the next 18 months. That's over 50 million blogs. A humongous percentage of blogs that will fail. 

But according to WP Virtuoso (a WordPress blogging mag), a new blog is created every half a second, and we all agree that there are 86,400 seconds in a day! So how many blogs are there in the world? I would say hundreds of millions. 

FYI, I started my blogging journey back in 2008 – and I’m still at it! As long as you yourself know why you’re blogging and you can keep the interest alive, you’ll keep on blogging. 

[Note: I’m not interested to monetize my blog; I'm not even treating it like a business. Yet I'm still a thriving blogger!]

In case you’re wondering, blogging is still very much relevant in 2021. And it’s going to be relevant for a very long time because people like to communicate. People like to read and engage and to learn about things that are interesting to them. After all, blog posts are among the most shared content online. 

In fact, about 409 million Internet users read about 20 billion blog pages monthly. Do you know that 53% of marketers prioritize blogging as their primary content marketing strategy? 

And yes, people still read blogs today – in record numbers – and will almost certainly continue reading blogs for many more years to come. Besides, there’s over 600 million blogs on the Internet, I’m told. And an overwhelming 77% of Internet users report regularly reading blog posts according to the latest blogging statistics. 

Happy blogging, Trump!

155 Million Cases and UK to Offer a Third Covid Jab

We are already witnessing one hundred and fifty-five million cases throughout the world.

On Tuesday, I had blogged about the Movement Control Order returning to six districts in Selangor today. Now, Kuala Lumpur will follow suit from tomorrow until May 20. 

This is telling because it reinforces my belief in the Malaysian government's gross incompetence in managing a runaway Covid pandemic. The government have failed. #GagalKerajaan 

I did say that vaccination won’t guarantee anything, didn’t I? And I’m proven right again. 

UK’s The Times newspaper reported that everyone aged over 50 in the country will be offered a third Covid-19 jab in the autumn in an attempt to eradicate the threat from the infection entirely by Christmas. 

In fact, The Telegraph had already made this known on March 13 when Professor Anthony Harnden (right), acting chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, informed medical journal, The BMJ that the booster would be needed either to protect against a new variant or as a safety net as the duration of protection is unknown. 

He said that the booster could be given to certain vulnerable groups or even the entire population. 

Hitherto, UK intends to buy 60 million more doses of the Pfizer vaccine, Health Minister Matt Hancock said last week, in a deal that more than doubles the country's supply of the shot ahead of the booster program later this year. 

The country has now ordered a total of 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, one of three Covid-19 shots being rolled out in the country.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The Most Popular WSD Video

Seven-year-old Sanjanaa Kanthan is flying high! 

The WSD video of her “A New World” speech has now amassed 2,002 views! Well done! 

FYI, our In-person World Speech Day 2021 Kuala Lumpur event on May 30 sports a new theme:

#unexpectedvoices #worldspeechday

Australia Flashes the GO TO JAIL Card

Covid-19 is running riot in India with 20.6 million cases and 226,000 deaths todate. 

And Scott Morrison’s government not only stopped travelers from India from entering Australia effective Monday right up until May 15, but threatened rule-breakers – including Australian citizens – with prison time. From May 03, those who flout the ban could face fines and up to five years imprisonment. 

As Health Minister Greg Hunt (left) said: "…it is critical the integrity of the Australian public health and quarantine systems is protected and the number of Covid-19 cases in quarantine facilities is reduced to a manageable level". 

Of course, the backlash was swift – and the prime minister was excoriated by lawmakers, expatriates and the Indian diaspora. Morrison had to fend off accusations of racism and having blood on his hands Tuesday, as he retreated from a threat to jail Australians trying to escape Covid-wracked India – even saying it was “highly unlikely” that Australians who skirted a ban would be jailed. 

About 9,000 Australians are believed to be in India, where already, hundreds of thousands of new coronavirus cases are being detected every day and the death toll is very high. 

Among those trapped are some of Australia’s most high profile sporting stars — cricketers playing in the lucrative Indian Premier League. 

Former Test cricket star Michael Slater who was working in India as a commentator for the Indian Premier League, lambasted the Australian government for the travel ban. “Blood on your hands PM. How dare you treat us like this”, he tweeted. “If our Government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home”. 

It needs to be mentioned that the hotel quarantine system facilitates the bringing back of Australians from high-risk countries – and so, the government’s decision on the travel ban is an open admission Australia’s hotel quarantine is flawed or as someone said, “not fit-for-purpose”.

I daresay the Aussie government are just as bad as the Malaysian government. That tells me that politicians are just not the right people to govern a country.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Marvel Sneak Peek

Walt Disney Co’s Marvel Studios on Monday encouraged superhero fans to return to movie theatres and show support for pandemic-battered cinemas trying to stage a comeback. 

“See you at the movies”, said a three-minute-long trailer designed to stir excitement for 10 upcoming Marvel films including Black Widow, Eternals and a Black Panther sequel:


The video even showed footage from inside a theatre of fans reacting to the decisive battle scene in Avengers: Endgame in April 2019. 

But the message it conveys is spot-on. “The world may change and evolve, but the one thing that will never change: we’re all part of one big family”. 

The future of movie theatres is uncertain after extended closures during the Covid-19 pandemic. Hopefully, blockbusters from Marvel (and others) can help lure audiences back. 

Latest news from Malaysia. We're bringing back the Movement Control Order to six Selangor districts, i.e. Ulu Langat, Petaling, Gombak, Klang, Kuala Langat and Sepang. From May 06 until 17. 

Note: This will be the third "lockdown" in the state but KL is spared though. What it means for us in Selangor is that there'll be no inter-district travel and no dine-in. Other than that, life’s pretty much the same. 

What gives?!

This is again, another case of a lockdown that is not a lockdown. Seriously, the lockdown is a joke.  

The PN government is a joke. Malaysia is a joke.

FYI, Malaysia has not made any progress in defeating the virus in the past fifteen months. 

154 Million Cases and LimKokWing University are Back in the News

Covid-19 is surging ahead. The global caseload has now reached 154 million. 

India’s share is 20 million or 13%. There is still no respite from the rampaging coronavirus. 

Malaysia's brash and bold and over-hyped LimKokWing University of Creative Technology are back in the news – but for the wrong reasons again. 

Numerous Bachelors, MBA and PhD courses of theirs have had their accreditation revoked since last year by the Malaysian Qualification Agency. 

Obviously, LUCT are unable to maintain certain requirements and standards. Simply put, the said courses’ academic quality is deemed unsatisfactory. 

According to a Malay Mail news report yesterday, more than 800 foreign students are affected by the accreditation issue. 

This disgrace came about when two federal lawmakers including former deputy education minister Teo Nie Ching (right) organized a press conference in which two LUCT students expressed concern over the MQA’s annulment of the accreditation for their programs. 

Teo had suggested that the university take corrective action towards the matter and re-apply for accreditation. She however, implied that remedial action has not been taken or if they have taken any, it’s not good enough to persuade MQA to give them (LimKokWing university) full accreditation. 

Malaysians already know that LUCT are not well thought of as an academic institution. In fact, I'm surprised it took MQA so long to take action.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Bookshelf Design Ideas

If you’re into reading and you love collecting books, you probably have come across bookshelves all the time. Admittedly, they’re usually uninteresting and pretty boring. 

But books always make an impression to visitors. So, why not make more of an impression with some unique and fresh bookshelf design possibilities? 

I’ve collected these interesting and innovative ideas – indeed, they can turn any room into something special.

No post about uncommon bookshelves can call itself complete without featuring the staircase book shelf. A staircase that doubles up as a home library.

A design that enhances the utility of the ordinary bookshelf by providing shelving which requires no bookends or heavy-handed adjustments when a book is removed from the stack. 

It’s simplicity also adds elegance without removing any previous storage or decorative capabilities. Designed by David Ngo.

Where is the ‘bookshelf’ here? I see only books. Well, look carefully, the bottom most book is a cleverly designed bracket for the shelf. 

This book shelf, which holds up to 15 pounds of books, screws directly into a wall stud and presto, you have an invisible book shelf! The maximum stack height is 16 inches. 

This invisible bookshelf which has already won design awards, is innovative, inspirational and imaginative. Designer: Miron Lior.

Rangers underlined their status as the Scottish Premiership's dominant side with a third Old Firm derby victory of the season against Celtic. Yup, the former thumped the latter 4-1 in yesterday’s Scottish Premiership match. 

Another routine win for Rangers; another soul-sapping defeat for Celtic. Sigh!

The victory means Rangers are two games away from an unbeaten league campaign, which would match their city rivals' feat of 2016-17. Celtic are already sure of second spot but trail their rivals by a galling 23 points, and have gone a full season without winning a derby for the first time since 1999-2000.

153 Million Cases and #ResignModi

Thanks to India’s contribution, the global tally of Covid-19 cases has gravely swelled to 153 million. In fact, the said country accounts for 13% of that grand total. 

India is being buried under clusters of coronavirus infections and stacks of dead bodies – and the “official” numbers don’t even begin to tell the whole story. To be honest, the authorities have lost count. It’s a cold sober case of miscounting and discounting. 

To add insult to injury, its health minister Harsh Vardhan (left) insisted that its fatality rate from the disease remained “the lowest in the world”. 

It was a statement that jarred with the devastating images and accounts that have flowed out of India in the past fortnight, of hospitals and morgues filled to capacity, people dying on pavements from scarcity of oxygen, and crematoriums and graveyards visibly overflowing with bodies. 

With Covid-19 patients unable to get into hospitals, many have been dying at home, often without ever getting tested. Meanwhile, state governments and local authorities stand accused of rampant miscalculation, covering up and obfuscating the true death toll in their states. 

PM Narendra Modi (right) and his government must take the blame for this whole Covid fiasco! 

And so, ResignModi is among the top trending hashtags on social media as Indian netizens hold Modi accountable for the disastrous handling of the second wave of Covid-19. 

A tweet from Ravinder Kapur @RavinderKapur2 claims: “14 crore netizens demanded #NarendraModi's resignation in one hour. IT'S A WORLD RECORD ON SOCIAL MEDIA! #ResignModi #ExitModi”. 

Another tweet from Gangaram Raju @gangaram_raju: “People are dying due to lack of oxygen. This is MURDER! India demands resignation from prime minister Narendra Modi. #ResignPMmodi #ResignModi #ModiResign”. 

And another from Soorya Sing palliyil @soorya_sing: “No Beds. No Oxygen. No Medicine. No Vaccine. There is a reason he is called #FailedPMModi #ResignModi”.  

NickyVirdi #Sidheart..I'm here only for #sid @Nicky80601565 tweets: “Indians are not dying due to Covid but they r being murdered! Modi govt callousness lead to their deaths! #ExitModi #ResignModi”.

Rajesh Kumar #NoVoteToBJP @RajeshBilung03 tweets: “#ExitModi This is Crime against Humanity, Modi Ji is a failed PM of India's History. #ExitModi #ResignModi”.

Munovar @Munovar1 tweets: “Enough is enough #ExitModi #ExitModi #ResignModi” 

[Note: India is the world’s biggest producer of vaccines but does not have enough stockpiles to keep up with a deadly second wave]. 

The above seven tweets are just the tip of the iceberg – but it is clear that many, many Indians are demanding that Modi resigns. Of course, he won't lah!